Car Cassette Decks: the End of an Era

2011 marks the first year -- since I've been alive, at least -- that you can't buy a new car with a factory-installed cassette tape player. The last model to be sold with one was a 2010 Lexus. That they are something of an anachronism was brought into stark relief for me when I posted this video of a road trip I took with friends in 1998, and many of the tween-aged commenters remarked upon the sheer novelty that, as we drove across Texas and New Mexico, our tunes came from my cassette deck. It's the end of an era, folks. (Actually, it's a little surprising to me that they survived as long as they did, considering that CD players seem about ready to become an endangered species in cars.)

I have a lot of nostalgic affection for my old cassette mixes, and I miss being able to play them in my car. They were so much more handmade and personal than CD mixes: I worked for hours getting the song order right, fading out of songs at just the right time; they were something you could, in some small way, be proud of. I hope to one day rescue my old mixes and convert them into long-playing MP3s, but I don't think listening to them digitally will be the same. I'll miss having to flip them over, and how the sound would wobble a little if I'd parked the car in the hot sun for too long, and even worrying about whether the tape was getting wound around the deck heads during long periods of suspicious silence.

Anyone else gonna miss their cassette players?

As a postscript: I did find one new car stereo people are excited about. Except it's fake, a front designed to make your expensive newfangled stereo look like an old tape deck, to deter thieves. Sigh.

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The Simple Way to Reheat Your French Fries and Not Have Them Turn Into a Soggy Mess
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Some restaurant dishes are made to be doggy-bagged and reheated in the microwave the next day. Not French fries: The more crispy and delectable they are when they first arrive on your table, the more of a soggy disappointment they’ll be when you try to revive them at home. But as The Kitchn recently shared, there’s a secret to making leftover fries you’ll actually enjoy eating.

The key is to avoid the microwave altogether. Much of the appeal of fries comes from their crunchy, golden-brown exterior and their creamy potato center. This texture contrast is achieved by deep-frying, and all it takes is a few rotations around a microwave to melt it away. As the fries heat up, they create moisture, transforming all those lovely crispy parts into a flabby mess.

If you want your fries to maintain their crunch, you need to recreate the conditions they were cooked in initially. Set a large pan filled with about 2 tablespoons of oil for every 1 cup of fries you want to cook over medium-high heat. When you see the oil start to shimmer, add the fries in a single layer. After about a minute, flip them over and allow them to cook for half a minute to a minute longer.

By heating up fries with oil in a skillet, you produce something called the Maillard Reaction: This happens when high heat transforms proteins and sugars in food, creating the browning effect that gives fried foods their sought-after color, texture, and taste.

After your fries are nice and crisp, pull them out of the pan with tongs or a spatula, set them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil, and sprinkle them with salt. Now all you need is a perfect burger to feel like you’re eating a restaurant-quality meal at home.

[h/t The Kitchn]

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Bone Collector
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