Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cooking Play date Inspiration: Pad Thai

Clearly, things have been busy around here.  I just realized that I hadn’t written about one of the big highlights from our Thanksgiving trip to visit family in Virginia.  We have never travelled cross-country over the “busiest travel holiday of the year” before, and to be honest, I wasn’t not looking forward to the journey.  Most likely, my reluctance was from years of watching fear mongering news stations showing hordes of people stranded in airports,  but perhaps it was just because I like to stay cozy during the holidays and nest at home.   Fortunately, my concerns were ungrounded and we had a nice time.
Highlights from the trip included spending time with family, visiting the beautiful campus of the University of Virginia, and spending time at the Smithsonian.  Another high point was an impromptu cooking lesson by Caro, my sister-in-law, who recently befriended a Thai woman in her neighborhood.   The two of them found a common love in the kitchen and started weekly cooking sessions, with Caro sharing tips for baked goods from Germany, where she was raised, and her neighbor sharing family recipes from Thailand.
The evening after Thanksgiving, she taught me to make Pad Thai, along with some strategies I never knew about.
If you have ever tried making Thai rice noodles and didn’t pay close enough attention to the directions on the package, you may have boiled them….and them immediately regretted not paying more attention!  Instead, the ideal way to prepare these “rice sticks” is to soak them in very warm water until just al dente (firm in the middle).  Otherwise, you will end up with a sticky mess…(yes, I am speaking from experience!).  Don’t worry – they will finish cooking in the work when you are assembling the dish.

One of the biggest keys to successful Pad Thai, I learned, is to have all of your ingredients ready before you begin, and then to add them in a particular order, based on how quickly they take to cook.  You wouldn’t want to add shrimp to your hot wok too early, for example, or you would have little rubbery bits in your finished dish.
If you are cooking with kids, they love to crush the peanuts with a rolling pin.  Just be sure to squeeze out the air before they start rolling or else you might pop the zip top bag.  If you love your Cuisinart as much as I do, you might be tempted to crush your nuts in there – but beware – if you let them stay in one whir of the blade too long, you may end up with peanut butter!

Food Network is Looking for Kid Chefs – Casting Now

If your child dreams of being on the Food Network, now is their chance!  The show Rachael vs. Guy is casting now for their second season and is looking for 8-13 year olds who have mad skills in the kitchen.  For more information, please visit their website Rachael vs. Guy.

New Beginnings…and Trout in the Classroom

I love teaching environmental science.  It is an opportunity to connect science to life.  Real life…so students NEVER have to wonder why the class matters.
This year, I took a Project Wild workshop and got certified by the Fish and Wildlife Service to hatch RainbowTrout in my classroom.  My mentor for this project is my former high school biology teacher, which makes the experience even more special.  He is currently a full time fly fishing instructor.  I realize that it seems a bit odd to have a “hunter” coaching me to produce the “hunted”,  but avid fly fisher-folk have to posses a deep understanding of ecology, ecosystems and the life cycles of both fish and their prey.  I hope that watching our trout develop will inspire my students to be stewards of the environment and to pay more attention to how their behavior impacts others (…and not just members of the opposite sex! Spring is in the air, after all!)
In case you are wondering, yes, the tank IS sitting inside a styrafoam box.  In order for our babies to survive, the water temperature needs to be maintained in the low 50 degree range.  There is a “chiller” device resting on the top of the tank that is slightly submerged in the water, which helps to cool the water.  That, in combination with the foam cooler, helps to keep the temperature in a zone that our babies (they are called alevin “Al-uh-vin”) comfortable.

Larry Lack, teacher extraordinaire and fly fishing instructor in the Bay Area

If you look closely, you can see tiny eggs, each with an eye spot.

Student looking for alevin, teeny baby trout
At a time when I might otherwise feel bitter over an unexpected change in my employment status, I am trying to look ahead and be optimistic.
Our babies hatched last week – and that gives me hope.

Promoting Stewardship – Trout in the Classroom

There are days when I act like a “traditional” teacher, telling stories (lecturing) or promoting literacy (encouraging students to use the text book), but most of the time, I like to use “out of the box” teaching strategies…like this:
We worked with Trout Unlimited, an incredible organization to make this project come to life.  Not only did they provide me with a mentor (my very own former high school biology teacher!!!), but they provided all of the equipment, helped me to set up the tank, and delivered the rainbow trout eggs.  They even came with us to Bon Tempe, a creek on Mount Tamalpais, to release our fry.
Aside from spending time in the classroom watching our young trout develop, my students also enjoyed a game of Oh Trout and a Campus Debris Survey that demonstrated the importance of protecting resources in the environment and treating the ecosystem with respect.  I hope that they carry these lessons with them as they mature and move forward.
It’s hard to imagine that a school district wouldn’t embrace this type of learning.  That’s why I have had such a hard time processing the news that my temporary teaching contract at this school was not renewed for next year.  The district’s reason for this decision was “confidential.” Yes, you read that right.  The reason to not hire ME back is confidential to ME.
I am trying to look on the bright side.  We hope that our son will come home this summer, and without a full time teaching job, I’ll be able to devote more time to his transition back home…at least, that’s what I am telling myself for now.

From the mouths of babes – Thoughts on Fast Food

Goodness knows, we have had challenges raising our 12 year old son.  But he actually listens to us, bless his heart.  And when he was given the assignment to write a persuasive essay in school, he chose the topic of Fast Food.  Despite his dyslexia, he worked his hardest – and this is what he created…
What restaurants make healthier choices? Here in my essay are some  examples.
Chipotle is an example of a place that does take care of their animals such as pigs. Many pigs are raised in bad places like factory farms and don’t have a good life. At Chipotle the pigs live in back yards with big pens. The pigs don’t get hormones, but they do get organically fed. McDonald’s is not taking care of  their meat. They use MSG. MSG  causes cravings and makes you want more. McDonald’s adds other ingredients to their meat.
Taking care of your self is important, as well as paying attention to where you choose to eat . McDonald’s is not the best choice because if you eat it a lot, like every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you will get fat, and next thing you know you’re plump with all of those calories. A more healthy option is Chipotle.
Organic is healthier for us and the environment. Organic is the most earth friendly way of growing. The food is much better than the fake food with MSG. The chemicals are not good for the bugs like lady bugs, worms, and other the good bugs.  Organic might not look as good, but it is better for you.  At Chipotle, you get to choose what you put in your food and can make healthier choices than at McDonald’s, where you don’t get to choose what goes in your meal.
Some farms feed animals organic scraps, and it is good for them (the  chickens, pigs, and other animals). They don’t get shoved in a tight pen. They don’t get diseases that spread to the others. There are some bad things in the world; fast food is one of them.
(Disclosure: My son wrote this essay – all thoughts and opinions expressed are his…)

This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

In this week’s news: Bean buffs have reason to rejoice; “plant-based protein” shapes up to be the other white meat; and vitamin D is back in the spotlight (make that the sunlight).

Bring On the Three-Bean Salad
Just one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils appears to reduce “bad” cholesterol, a review of 26 controlled studies has found. According to the lead researcher, a single ¾ cup of these foods may lower LDL cholesterol by five percent, which can translate roughly to a five or six percent reduction in heart disease risk. Two factors may influence this. First, the foods have a low glycemic index, meaning that they keep blood sugar levels even (and eaters sated) by breaking down and getting absorbed into the body at a slow and steady rate. Second, they also appear to help rid our systems of the bad fats we ingest. The catch? We currently eat less than half a serving a day.

Tofu Nuggets: The Next Generation
“Plant-based protein,” better known as “fake” meat, has come a long way from its rubbery, tofu-and-tempeh roots. Case in point: When, about a year ago, Whole Foods recalled two prepared chicken salads because they had been accidentally made with a chicken substitute, few customers said they could tell the difference. Though the faux meat market is still small, it’s getting a lot of attention from investors and influential consumers with environmental, animal welfare, and personal wellness concerns (Bill Gates and Twitter’s Biz Stone and Evan Williams are involved). This, in turn, has given rise to more variety and better tasting vegetarian options. The soy-based products of years past have been nudged out by plant-based fibers boasting the kind of meaty texture and mouthfeel that had the Whole Foods customers stumped.

When Making the Healthy Choice Isn’t Affordable
Almost one in three American adults with a chronic disease faced issues paying for food, medicine or both, according to an article in this month’s American Journal of Medicine. Bring the diabetes patient unable to afford his or her medication together with, say, a steady diet of low-cost fast-food meals, and you get a vicious cycle of worsening illness. The silver lining: Some programs, among them Medicaid and the federally-funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, are making a dent. And even more health advocates are on the case,  with an eye toward making access to food one of the things that doctors’ offices screen for during routine appointments and writing “prescription” coupons for healthier foods.

More Developments for Vitamin D
According to two new meta-analyses encompassing over a million people, individuals with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to die from diseases such as cancer and heart disease than are others, suggesting that D levels are, at the very least, an indicator of how healthy we are. Vitamin D3 (the kind associated with strong benefits) can be found in eggs, fortified dairy and organ meat — and our bodies make it in sunlight. This means that it’s not always the easiest nutrient for some people to come by; about two-thirds of us are thought to be deficient.  Because there’s controversy over how much and how often to supplement, the more conservative recommendation is to work more delicious D-heavy foods into diets, and get out in the spring weather — thirty minutes in the sun twice a week. (There are worse prescriptions.)


5 Ways to Eat More Alterna-Grains

Rice is over. Couscous is passe. It’s all about alterna-grains these days. But don’t just stock your pantry with these exotic-sounding carbs and hope for the best. Those wheat berries won’t cook themselves! Here’s what to do with your kitchen’s latest grainy guest stars.

Triple Herb Freekeh (above)
Get your freekeh on! In a simple dish like this one, which is simply grains, onions, herbs and a light lemon dressing, the type of grain you use makes all the difference. Chewy, nutty freekeh (roasted green wheat) will make this one a standout.

Barley with Bacon, Peas and Dill
This might just be the most kid-friendly whole-grain dish of the bunch. Plus, it’s endlessly versatile, so you can customize it for even the pickiest eaters — swap peas for carrots, broccoli, spinach, or any other vegetable you can sneak in after the word “bacon.”

Whole-Grain Greek Meatloaf
In a departure from conventional meatloaf, the backbone of this dish a flavorful mixture of onion and spices plus a hearty dose of bulgur wheat that is soaked until soft and doesn’t require any additional cooking before being baked in the meatloaf.

Wheat Berry Salad
If you are ever stranded on a desert island without a recipe and find yourself craving a grain salad (hey, it could happen!), follow this fool-proof formula: Whole grains + dried fruit + herbs + nuts + dressing = deliciousness. This recipe can get you started off on the right foot; feel free to wing it from there.

Quinoa Salad with Apricots, Basil and Pistachios
Have to say, quinoa seems pretty bent on extending its fifteen minutes of fame. Happily, the earthy grain pairs perfectly with sweet apricots, peppery arugula and tangy goat cheese in this salad that works as either a side or a main dish.


A Healthier Take on the Easter Menu

Among the big holidays, Easter isn’t traditionally associated with excessive eating. But any family gathering has the potential to lead to overindulging. The best strategy: Plan your menu around fresh, healthy and seasonal recipes.

Good news: There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little holiday libation. Just keep portions to about 5 fluid ounces so you can limit calories to 130 per serving.

Recipes: Champagne Cocktails

Lighten up this classic app with nonfat Greek yogurt and a flavor boost from pickles, Dijon and cayenne pepper.

Recipe: Lighter Southern Deviled Eggs

Ham is the classic pick for an Easter spread. But for leaner protein and Omega-3 fats, consider runners-up like lamb or salmon.

Recipe: Spice Rubbed Lamb Tenderloin and Yogurt Sauce

Recipe: Tea Glazed Salmon

Celebrate the season with fresh spring produce. (Peas and asparagus are filled with fiber and vitamin C.)

Recipe: Roasted Asparagus (above, from Food Network Magazine)

Recipe: Risotto with Pesto and Peas

Angel food cake is always a hit, especially when served with a side of seasonal fruit like strawberries.

Recipe: Lemon Angel Food Cake

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »


8 Ways to Get Your Salmon On

It doesn’t take much to bring out salmon’s rich flavor, but let’s face it: The old lemon-with-a-dash-of-salt routine gets old. The good news: Salmon need not be boring. Try these tasty ways to amp up an old standby.

Mustard Maple Roasted Salmon (above)
Mustard and maple syrup? The two condiments may seem worlds away, but they make the perfect marriage of sweet and savory in a sauce for salmon fillets. Cilantro keeps the flavor light and fresh.

Oven-Baked Salmon
The secret’s in the salsa: Vinegar, shallots, capers, parsley and toasted almonds come together to create a zippy dressing that pumps up the flavor and even adds a little crunch.

Grilled Salmon Steaks with Hoisin BBQ Sauce
In this Asian-inspired take, sweet-and-salty hoisin sauce is spiced up with sambal oelek for just the right amount of heat. Ketchup, honey and sesame seeds round out the sauce, creating a dish that’s  impressively flavor-forward.

Salmon Baked in Foil
It doesn’t get easier than this recipe. Tomatoes, oregano and thyme get mixed with olive oil and lemon juice to create an Italian dressing that’s cooked right in with the fish. Baking the salmon in foil helps lock in the flavors (and happens to make clean-up much easier).


What are the Health Benefits of Passover Foods?

This spring holiday is filled with more than just matzo. From traditional dishes to symbolic foods, the Passover feast is filled with a wide variety of good-for-you nutrients.

#1: Egg
Hard-boiled eggs mixed with salt water are served as an appetizer during the Passover feast.

Nutrition: Eggs are a perfect protein (yolks too) and are chock-full of vitamins A and D and the antioxidant lutein, which helps promote healthy skin and eyes.

#2: Chicken Matzo Ball Soup
Matzo ball soup (above, from Food Network Magazine) made in a chicken stock is traditionally served during the big meal. The secret ingredient of any homemade stock is a mirepoix made from celery, onion, and carrots.

Nutrition: Stock contains many nutrients like niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and potassium.

#3: Gefilte Fish
In Yiddish, gefilte fish means stuffed fish. To make the dish, white fish (such as carp) is ground and mixed with other ingredients like eggs, carrots, and spices and formed into fish cakes that are then poached or baked.

Nutrition: This dish is high in protein and brimming with energy boosting B-vitamins, selenium, zinc and potassium.

#4: Horseradish
Horseradish, with its overpowering flavor, is used as the bitter herbs (or maror), which represents the tears and affliction the Jewish slaves experienced during their time in Egypt. In some households, horseradish is also served alongside gefilte fish and used as a condiment.

Nutrition: Prepared horseradish is low in calories (7 per tablespoon). It also contains vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Horseradish also contains the plant chemical glucosinolate, which may help fight cancer.

#5: Wine
Wine is considered a royal drink, which symbolizes freedom. It’s customary to drink four glasses of red wine during the Passover feast in order to celebrate freedom from oppression.

Nutrition: Studies have found the antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine may help prevent heart disease.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. See Toby’s full bio »


The British Joy of Cooking

Getting a chef to pick a favorite cookbook is like asking a parent to choose her most-loved child. But F&W pressed great cooks around the country to reveal their all-time top picks.
The Chef: David Felton
The Book: Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton, 1861
Chef David Felton’s mom gave him a copy of this Victorian-era book. “It’s the kind of guide you were given as a young British girl,” he says. “It’s almost the English version of the Joy of Cooking—the recipes are phenomenal—but there’s also a chapter on how to balance a checkbook. In college it was handy—I could look up how to sew something, or how to get out red wine stains.”

How to Get the Perfect Scoop of Ice Cream

In her second cookbook, Jeni Britton Bauer—famous for her outstanding ice creams—unveils improved recipes, new flavors and an abundance of creative pairings.
Lesson One
The fastest way to chill an ice cream base before churning: Put it in an ice bath in a ziplock bag.
Lesson Two
For the best scoop, use a long container with a big "runway."
Lesson Three
Pair ice cream and anything from corn fritters (with buttermilk soft serve) to mango jam (for a tropical sundae).

6 Super-Tasty Things to Make with Hard-Boiled Eggs

In anticipation of an egg-packed Easter Sunday, F&W Test Kitchen genius Justin Chapple revealed the fastest way to peel hard-boiled eggs with a spoon in this week’s edition of Mad Genius Tips. Here, six great recipes to make with a pile of shelled hard-boiled eggs.
1. Pickled Beets and Eggs
Beets and apple cider vinegar make a stellar brine for pickling hard-boiled eggs. They're an irresistible and nutritious snack.
2. Deviled Eggs with Country Ham
These deviled eggs get their terrific flavor from goat cheese, Dijon mustard and cornichons, plus a topping of country ham.
3. Egg Salad with Greek Yogurt and Parsley
Greek yogurt ups the creaminess factor in this delicious egg salad, which gets a little kick from paprika and spicy brown mustard.
4. Deviled-Egg Spread
This fun dish is a spreadable, deconstructed version of deviled eggs.
5. Garden Salad with Shanagarry Cream Dressing
Packed with roasted beets, hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes, this is the perfect comfort-food salad.
6. Steak-and-Egg Salad Sandwiches
Chef David Burke stuffs soft pita bread with deviled egg salad and thin slices of grilled beef for easy and incredibly satisfying sandwiches.

What Jon Favreau Learned from His Star Chef Mentor

To prepare for his new movie, Chef, actor Jon Favreau sought the expertise of F&W Best New Chef Roy Choi. Here, four key lessons Favreau learned from the food truck king.
Chef Stance
"Roy would say, 'I don't like the way that chef stands. You can taste it in his food.' I thought he was speaking symbolically, but he literally meant that the chef's posture—his energy on the line—would affect the food."
"There's such efficiency to what chefs wear, how they address each other. They probably couldn't form a straight line at an ice cream truck, but in the kitchen, there's military efficiency."
"It's a sign of affection for chefs to yell like drill sergeants when they're teaching you something. But Roy is gentle: I never heard him yell or take anybody's dignity away. As a director, it was interesting to watch his style of leadership."
Kitchen Pride
"When Roy tells you that what you've done is beautiful, it makes your day. It takes time to get to that place. He shows you. You watch. He does it. You copy. Ultimately, you're so proud of what you've created. I'm more excited about this movie than anything I've done."

10 Gooey Grilled Cheese Sandwiches That Won't Cost You $100

This month, Deca Restaurant + Bar in the Ritz-Carlton Chicago is offering a "Zillion Dollar Grilled Cheese" made with 25k gold flakes, white truffle aioli and foie gras. If you can't make it to Chicago for the pricey $100 sandwich, here are ten equally delicious grilled cheeses to make at home.
1. The New American Grilled Cheese
The best grilled cheese is the gooiest grilled cheese, says author Laura Werlin.
2. Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches 
This delicious version calls for a mix of Gruyère, fontina and mozzarella.
3. Inside-Out Grilled Ham-and-Cheese Sandwiches
Upgrade the classic sandwich by sprinkling cheese on the outside of the bread.
4. Multigrain Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Seamus Mullen's gooey Spanish version features Manchego, Mahón and Idiazábal cheese as well as tomatoes that are roasted slowly overnight.
5. Grilled Fontina, Mushroom and Sage Sandwiches
This grown-up grilled cheese is made with nutty fontina cheese and sautéed mushrooms.
6. Grilled Ham-and-Cheese Sandwiches with Tapenade 
Mildly tangy, semi-soft Mahón is a great melting cheese.
7. Eggplant Grilled Cheese Sandwich
This delicious vegetarian sandwich is made with meaty, Japanese eggplant and cheddar cheese.
8. Croques Meurice
These bite-sized sandwiches are miniature versions of the classic French croque-monsieur.
9. Tomato, Prosciutto and Gruyere Sandwiches
Daniel Humm's delicious open-faced sandwiches make a terrific snack or decadent lunch.
10. Grilled Ham and Cheese with Strawberry-Red-Wine Jam 
These incredible sandwiches feature jam spiked with Pinot Noir.

Take Another Look at MetaTeam

We are very excited to announce commercial availability of MetaTeam, Altova’s unique online team collaboration andproject management environment. If you didn’t get a chance to try MetaTeam during its beta testing phase, now is the time. You can still try MetaTeam free for 30 days.
Why MetaTeam?
We all know the frustrations of teamwork. Files lost in emails. Passed bucks. Language barriers. Missed opportunities on one hand and rework on the other. Collaboration wasn’t supposed to like that!
We canvased our customers, partners, and colleagues across industries and around the world. To no one’s surprise, we found these problems are universal. And the cost is huge. In fact, studies find that well over 50% of project teams fail¹ to hit their budgets, schedules, or objectives.
Many products have tried to put a quick fix on the problem with more advanced scheduling or prioritization tools for specialists. Other products offer general purpose unstructured collaboration that allows for anything and typically improves nothing.
We believe there is a better way. And we developed MetaTeam to prove that tools for high performance teamwork can deliver real impact.
What Sets MetaTeam Apart?
MetaTeam was designed from the ground up with simplicity in mind. It’s immediately accessible for business users from all areas of activity – that means there’s no learning curve, no training required. Its interface is clean, clear, and easy to navigate, with clearly labeled features that are intuitive to use. The most unique aspect of MetaTeam is that it is the only tool of its kind to combine the three aspects vital for successful teamwork: project management, team collaboration, and structured decision making.
As you can see in the screenshot below, MetaTeam delivers these functions through five tightly integrated zones: To-Dos and Task Management, Roles & Responsibilities, Decision Making, Knowledge Integration, and Consistent Language.

Deploy Data Mappings and Report Designs for Automated Processing

Deploying data mappings created in MapForce and report designs created in StyleVision for automated processing by Altova server products is straightforward and quick.
The File menu in MapForce includes two options to optimize, preprocess, and deploy data mappings for MapForce Server and FlowForce Server. Preprocessing enables faster performance and reduced memory footprint for most data mappings.
MapForce menu option to deploy to FlowForce Server
Compile to MapForce Server Execution File saves a local file for MapForce Server running in a standalone configuration executed from a command line. Creating the execution file is nearly instantaneous.
Deploy to FlowForce Server opens a dialog that allows users to connect directly to FlowForce Server and log in to create and deploy the .mfx, as shown below:
Deploying the data mapping to FlowForce Server
Note options in this dialog to choose the destination directory or rename the mapping. The connection to deploy mappings conforms to all FlowForce Server security functionality, so permissions are managed by FlowForce Server settings. The Browse button lets users examine existing folders and data mappings on the FlowForce Server:
Browse FlowForce Server Folders and data mappings from MapForce
Replace defined input and output file names

The data mapping becomes a FlowForce Server job execution step, with parameters to assign input and output file names for automated processing. This simplifies developing and reusing MapForce data mappings, as users focus on the design and test with local files containing sample data.

Altova’s Latest Release Sets the Performance Bar Even Higher

Release 2 of Altova MissionKit desktop developer and server software products is now available fordownloading. This release packs a punch, delivering enhancements that boost performance by two or even three times, as well as updated standards support – and a revolutionary new approach to speeding up XSLT execution called XSL Speed Optimizer. 

Let’s take a look at some of these new features in depth. 

XSL Speed Optimizer
This new technology is a ground breaking approach to speeding up XSLT transformations, providing tremendous increases in throughput with no analysis required by the developer to determine exactly which XSLT or XPath expressions are causing bottlenecks. The XSL Speed Optimizer analyzes an XSLT transformation and derives an optimization strategy that can be saved within the stylesheet as processing instructions (PI). 

Subsequent transformations with the optimized stylesheet using either XMLSpy or RaptorXML will be executed faster using those optimization hints. The XSL Speed Optimizer allows developers to focus on the transformation logic of their stylesheets – rather than spending valuable time identifying and correcting bottlenecks – and leave speed optimization to XMLSpy. 

Additional Support for XSLT, XPath, and XQuery 3.0

First introduced in Version 2014, support for XSLT 3.0 has been updated to include even more functionality, and support for XQuery 3.0 is now finalized in XMLSpy and RaptorXML Server, allowing developers to harness the power of these new standards versions during editing, debugging, reporting, and processing. 

Support for XPath 3.0 and XSLT 3.0 is now also available in StyleVision for report generation based on XML, database, and XBRL data sources. 

An example of an XPath 3.0 expression being written for an XSLT 3.0 stylesheet is shown below, in the newly enhanced XPath dialog in StyleVision: 


Speed Up Your XSLT – Automatically

Once you’ve written XSLT code to produce the desired output, optimizing it to deliver the fastest execution is tricky business. Even with the powerful XSLT profiler in XMLSpy, a developer is required to have expert-level XSLT skills to test and fix the bottlenecks that the XSLT profiler identifies. Is the problem in an XPath expression? Is it an XSLT instruction? This can be a frustrating and time consuming task.
To help alleviate this issue and bring the power of XSLT to developers of all skill levels, XMLSpy 2014r2 now includes the XSL Speed Optimizer, which provides fixes to remove bottlenecksautomatically to immediately speed up your XSLT execution – it’s a revolutionary approach to optimizing XSLT performance.
XSL Speed Optimizer
Let’s take a look at how this works, and see how you can use it to speed up XSLT code.


XSL Speed Optimizer

The XMLSpy XSL Speed Optimizer is a brand new, innovative approach to speeding up XSLT transformations. With one click, you can implement an optimization that immediately increases throughput, avoiding the manual analysis and testing usually required to resolve XPath or XSLT-related bottlenecks. This frees you to focus on the transformation logic of your stylesheets and leave speed optimization to XMLSpy.
To use the XSL Speed Optimizer, simply supply an existing XSLT stylesheet along with sample XML data. You can configure a time threshold for single XSLT instructions in a stylesheet, with values ranging from 0.1% of total transformation time to 99% of total time. (.5% is the default value.) If an instruction takes more time to execute than the specified threshold, then optimization analysis is invoked.

How Does It Work?

Once you supply an XSLT stylesheet and sample XML dataset, the XSL Speed Optimizer analyzes the transformation to identify bottlenecks based on the time threshold you’ve set. Then it tests the code against proven best-practices and optimization patterns, as well as proprietary information, to determine speed improvements. It does not alter the XSLT directly, but rather generates XML processing instructions (PI) to automatically insert at the end of the stylesheet.
Then the XSL Speed Optimizer re-runs the execution to determine which optimizations result in an increase in speed, and only saves those that have a positive impact. The optimized stylesheet can then be used to produce faster transformations.

In a test I ran today, I set a minimum relative time limit of .1%, and the XSL Speed Optimizer was able to decrease execution time by 18%!

New XBRL Tools for Compliance and Beyond

It can be hard to keep up with all the exciting developments in the XBRL space. Standards are constantly evolving to make compliance easier and deepen the benefits provided by XBRL for internal analysis and reporting. As a leader in XBRL development and validation, Altova is committed to supporting the latest standards, coupling strict conformance with high-performance, easy to use tools. With the latest product launch, Version 2014 Release 2, we’ve added some important enhancements, including significant increases in validation speeds, XBRL Table Linkbase support, and extended XBRL Formula tools. Below is a portion of an XBRL Table generated in XMLSpy, using XBRL Table Linkbase to render revenue calculations in new and productive ways:
XBRL Table
Let’s take a look at the benefits of these new features for your XBRL implementation.
Increased XBRL Validation Speed
RaptorXML+XBRL Server was already the fastest XBRL validation processor available – and Version 2014 Release 2 provides substantial performance improvements. Validation speed increases are most significant - up to three times faster - on multicore servers taking advantage of parallel validation, making validation of large amounts of XBRL data faster than ever before.
XBRL Table Linkbase Tools
XBRL Table Linkbase is perhaps the most exciting of the many recent developments in the XBRL space. The Table Linkbase gives taxonomy authors the ability to easily define the structure of tables for presenting (and even editing) XBRL data. Sure, the presentation linkbase already lets you define some rules for rendering XBRL, but it only provides for the arrangement of facts in a simple hierarchy. XBRL Table Linkbase goes well beyond this, allowing you to access, combine, evaluate, and present multi-dimensional XBRL facts and relationships to suit just about any requirement.
By standardizing the ability to present XBRL data to suit the needs of all stakeholders, XBRL tables add value beyond meeting compliance requirements.
XBRL Table Linkbase validation is now supported by both RaptorXML and XMLSpy, and XMLSpy includes a new XBRL Table Linkbase editor, which you can see on a new tab in theXBRL Taxonomy Editor.


Earlier this year, I bought myself a kitchen gadget that I've been wanting for a long time.

spiralizer, which is used to make noodles and long ribbons out of vegetables and fruits. 

I'd had it on my wish list for a while, and with the rapid succession of Christmas, our anniversary, my birthday, and Valentine's Day, I was convinced the spiralizer would appear in my hands at some point.

But strangely, it did not.

It turns out that Eugene did not want to get it because he thought it would just "take up space" and "never get used." 

Well...because there is no quicker way to get me to do something, than to tell me "no," I pulled it up on Amazon, hit the one-click button, and had it out of the box and ready to use within 2 days.

And you know what?

I LOVE this little machine! It's super lightweight and easy to use--simply insert whatever vegetable you'd like, turn the crank et voilà! Fresh healthy noodles!

This dish--a Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon-Parmesan Dressing was my first spiralizerrecipe. I loved it so much that I made it about 4 times that first week. It's quick, filling, and super healthy. I have a big bowl of this at least twice a week, if not more.

Even Eugene has turned into a believer, happily gobbling up giant bowls of veggie noodles with nary a complaint.  

P.S. Want to get your own spiralizer? Click here for the one that I own, which is by the brand Paderno. It's just $35 on Amazon (this is an affiliate link). 

Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon-Parmesan Dressing
Serves 2

2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
1 large lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Pass both zucchini through your spiralizer according to manufacturer directions (if you don't have a spiralizer, you can also julienne or slice the zucchini by hand).

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon and olive oil.

Add the zucchini and toss to coat. Top with the cheese, and toss again. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.

Serve immediately, or within 24 hours (the zucchini will soften a bit as it sits in the lemon dressing).