Technical Difficulties…Please Stand By

Y’all, we got hacked.

HAcked

A few weeks ago, I noticed the back-end stats of the website going wonky (insane amount of processes running, constant downtime notifications), and after some rudimentary detective work, I figured out that my site/space was being used for Bitcoin mining. My guess is they got in through a unsecured, out-of-date WordPress plug-in.

I killed the site to stop the mining/resource hogging until I could figure out how to fix everything. Given the circumstances of the attack, we were able to save a lot of it (the posts, the overall structure, and the basic, un-tweaked version of the theme), but some aspects had to be dumped to ensure we got rid of every last bit of the bad code.

Unfortunately, one of the things we lost were any pictures hosted by the site itself. We had been working on moving pictures off to other storage spaces and re-linking them due to hitting my host’s space limits already, but I’d only made it up to about mid-2015 by the time we got hacked. My apologies for any recipes/pages you hit that have no pictures on them right now–I’ll be spending a lot of time over the next few weeks re-linking/uploading all the pictures for the posts. I have them all on my laptop, but I basically need to reconstruct about 2.5 years worth of work.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to say goodbye to over 3.5 years worth of work, time, and effort. I’m very lucky to have been able to save any of it, and even more lucky that it wasn’t worse.

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t use a ton of WordPress plug-ins, and if you do–make sure they’re trustworthy, secure, and updated often.
  2. Watch your stats like a hawk–I could have caught this earlier, but I wasn’t paying close attention until the “SITE DOWN” emails started flooding in.
  3. Don’t just delete things willy-nilly when trying to stop the bleeding–I deleted an important database file when I was frantically trying to bring the site down and it cost me an extra week or so in downtime to repair that mistake.
  4.  BACK UP your site in multiple places–it’s an old IT saying: it doesn’t exist if there’s not at least two copies of it.
    • Backups helped in this case, but not entirely–the bad code was throughout the site, restoring blindly from a backup would have just started the problem over again. However, it’s still a VERY good idea, since we were able to pull the posts and some of the other essential parts out safely.

Thanks for sticking with me throughout my trials and tribulations. I’ll be getting back on track here shortly. Stay tuned!

5-16: Richmond Omelette

A lot of Simply Delicious‘ recipes are takes on already-established dishes, like 9-4: Swedish Meatballs, 2-13: Waldorf Salad or 3-2: New England Clam Chowder. I did a fair amount of searching for anything that resembled 5-16: Richmond Omelette, but besides some rankings of places to get a good omelette in Richmond, VA, there’s not much out there for that particular dish with that name. 5-16 Richmond Omelette

I’ve put this one off for a while due to not having port wine on hand. After a trip to the store and a rather haughty store clerk who carded me for it despite the clearly visible gray streaks in my hair, I have the wine–let’s make a weird mushroom omelette-casserole with cheese sauce.

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18-1: Basic Yeast Dough I

I’ve made a lot of bread during the 3.5 years I’ve been working on this project (both for the project and outside of it), and I hear a lot of the same remarks whenever I talk about making bread: “Oh, that seems hard”, or “It’s too much work to make bread”. I used to feel the same way, and shied away from yeast recipes for a long time out of a fear of failure. In cooking (like most things in life), you have to be ready to embrace failure and learn from it–otherwise, you’ll never get past heating up Hot Pockets in the microwave.

18-1 Basic Yeast Dough I

Simply Delicious even notes in their recipe blurb that bread making is perceived as hard. It’s maybe not the easiest thing in the world, but you’ll make a lot of friends fast if you can make them fresh bread. 18-1: Basic Yeast Dough I is the first in a three-part series on bread making, where you’ll learn some tips and tricks for improving your bread baking, as well as a few basic recipes that you can use.

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17-14: Nutty Muffins

Here’s one of the last few recipes left from the chapter on baked goods, Group 17: Baked Goods. I made 17-14: Nutty Muffins for work–I thought they’d make a nice accompaniment to everyone’s morning coffee. ☕️

17-14 Nutty Muffins

See? Even Simply Delicious shows them being served with coffee. Wikipedia offers a deeper dive on the history of muffins if you’re interested/bored. There’s a difference between these types of muffins (referred to as “quickbread” muffins or “American” muffins due to the fact that they’re very similar to a cupcake or other types of sweet, dense, cake-like bread) and the traditional “English” muffins that you get with Eggs Benedict or an Egg McMuffin.

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17-10: Poppy Seed Bread

One of the last entries from the Baked Goods chapter, 17-10: Poppy Seed Bread is essentially white bread with a sprinkling of poppy seeds on top. Simply Delicious shows it as a loaf, but I chose to make it into rolls/buns–since you’re already topping the bread with seeds, it makes it very reminiscent of sesame seed hamburger buns. 🍔

17-10 Poppy Seed Bread

 

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11-5: Lemon Pepper Scallops

Hey, y’all. Took a month or two off (I need SOME sort of summer vacation now that I’m not a teacher anymore), but as I’ve said before, I’m not going to let this die. Even though I haven’t been actively writing and publishing, I’ve still been cooking and photographing–I’ll get caught up here soon. Thanks for sticking around. 🙂

Here’s one I cooked a little while ago, but never finished writing–11-5: Lemon Pepper Scallops. My husband Adam LOVES seafood and at the start of this summer, we had decided we were going to try to knock out more of the Fish and Beef chapters of the book over the warm months. I can’t say that vow has worked out (I don’t think any of the ones in the queue are either one of those), but here’s a vestige of what was to be.

I’m gonna tell you right now–I can do a LOT of things in the kitchen, but poaching is my white whale. I always have a REALLY hard time with it (see 5-4: Eggs Benedict for an example of that), and I’ve yet to conquer it. Practice makes perfect, but to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of poached seafood anyway (very 1980s). I think for this one, I’m going to use a more flavorful searing technique, which I have less of a chance of screwing up (hey, scallops ain’t cheap).

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18-15: Basic Kitchen Utensils

Doing a bit of housekeeping…here’s one that’s been sitting in my draft queue since around Christmas. 18-19: Basic Kitchen Utensils covers exactly what it says–basic tools even novice cooks should have in their kitchen. This is part of Cooking School, the back segment of Simply Delicious that covers basic techniques, ingredients, and recipes for all levels of aspiring chefs.

After the jump, I’ll show you what I’ve got in my own kitchen (similar to how I covered 18-3: Good Kitchen Knives and 18-6: Basic Pots and Pans). None of it’s super fancy, but it gets the job done.

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15-30: Champagne Sundaes

The final dish of my Mother’s Day brunch this year (MD2017) was the second half of my dessert options (in addition to 17-23: Mocha Éclairs): 15-30: Champagne Sundaes. My mom loves mimosas (which we had in abundance already), and since we already had fruit from 15-19: Layered Fruit Salad, I decided this would be an easy dish to make as well. Plus, it’s nice to have something light to finish with–it balances out the other rich dishes I made for this meal.

I decided to update this recipe concept for the 2010s: I served them in mason jar glasses instead of stemmed glasses. This could totally be a dish at current-day hipster bottomless-mimosa brunches everywhere.

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20-15: Vary the Butter Sauces

Consider 20-15: Vary the Butter Sauces to be the advanced version of 20-13: Béarnaise and Hollandaise Sauces. There’s probably something that bridges the two better (whatever 20-14 is, but I don’t have that card in my collection), so 5-4: Eggs Benedict will have to do. This set of recipes is part of the Cooking School, the back section of Simply Delicious that provides instructions in basic techniques, ingredients, and recipes that any skilled cook should be familiar with.

Like I said in 20-13: Béarnaise and Hollandaise Sauces, Hollandaise and its variations comprise one  of the five mother sauces, a big part of French cuisine. Mastering it (and the others) is one of the marks of an accomplished and talented chef. I’ve always appreciated a well-made butter sauce, and these variations are intriguing–I’d be interested in eventually trying each one out.

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5-4: Eggs Benedict

I believe in a couple of things–nobody’s perfect, and all things eventually balance out. My experience with this recipe, 5-4: Eggs Benedict, especially relative to how the rest of the meal went, encapsulates both of those ideas. In the days leading up to making this Mother’s Day brunch (MD2017), I knew I needed to practice two things before the big day: poaching eggs and hollandaise sauce–I’ve had trouble with both in the past. Guess what I didn’t do?

I procrastinated on practicing both my egg poaching and my hollandaise, and those were my failure points on this recipe. After the jump, you can read about what went really well (my homemade English muffins) and what didn’t (my broken hollandaise sauce, for one).

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