Gluten-free banana cream cheesecake

gluten-free banana cheesecake

gluten-free banana cheesecake

I’ve said it before and will say it again: gluten-free baking is best when you are making recipes that were created gluten-free from the outset. In this case, cheesecake filling is gluten-free on its own. And crust choice is really flexible enough to choose what you want.

Recently I decided to make some banana cream cheesecake and made an almond-flour and cocoa-based crust. (I had a lot of leftover filling and made a separate cheesecake using a graham cracker and cinnamon crust.)

Knowing that this was highly appreciated, I will – as usual – share my recipe:

gluten-free banana cheesecake

gluten-free banana cheesecake

Gluten-free almond meal and cocoa crust
1 ¼ cups almond meal or finely ground almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup cocoa
¼ cup melted butter

Mix all ingredients together and press into a springform pan (a 10-inch pan would be suitable; I used two miniature springforms). Wrap the springform in foil to prevent leakage.

Refrigerate while preparing the filling.

Cream cheese and banana filling
680 grams softened cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 eggs
¾ cup mashed banana (3 to 4 well-ripened or overripe bananas)
½ cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat cream cheese for a few minutes until creamy. Beat in sugar and cornstarch. Add in eggs, one at a time. Beat in the mashed bananas, whipping cream and vanilla.

Pour filling mixture into the prepared crust. Put the pan on a cookie/baking sheet and bake in a 350F/175C oven for 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 200F/93C and bake for 75 minutes, until center is almost set.

Allow the cake to cool completely in its pan before removing the springform rim. Before removing the pan, run hot water over a knife and slide the hot knife around the edge of the cake to separate the cake from the pan cleanly.

Refrigerate the cake, uncovered, for at least 7 hours, although overnight is most effective.

gluten-free banana cheesecake

gluten-free banana cheesecake

Upstart web browser renaissance


If you search for the term “browser renaissance”, you find a lot of articles from 2007 or 2009 but nothing “new” – something from 2009 written about technology may as well have been written in 1909. I wanted to see if anyone had written much about the birth of several new web browsers in recent months and had commented on the why behind these developments. Many times in the past (when I worked in the browser industry) we heard a lot of talk about the browser space being dead, or that one browser had won the war over the others, or that the browser would, if not go the way of the dinosaur, at least seem irrelevant with the proliferation of apps and connected devices.

Of late, though, we’ve seen big splashes (at least within the tech media) made by the new Vivaldi browser (brought to life by former Opera Software stalwarts), a Yandex browser and a promised Microsoft launch of a new browser (to replace the REAL dinosaur in the browser landscape, Internet Explorer).

What is driving this? Why now? Sitting awake sleeplessly on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, broad ideas spring to mind. Much like late May delivers almost no darkness in Sweden, some technology is as cyclical as seasons changing. Light disappears in Swedish autumn and winter, and reappears every year. Browsers are declared DOA, and like clockwork, are revived in new forms. This is an overly simplistic interpretation, borne of insomnia and an unwillingness to give it much more thought than that in this state.

As Opera has moved away from its former focus on browser features, Vivaldi has grabbed the baton and run with it, catering to what it calls “power users” (and tech fans of features).

Yandex has, particularly with its recent beta launch, focused squarely on privacy (outside its home markets).

And Microsoft… well, do we need to explain why Microsoft would need to murder IE rather than just let it go extinct? No. It needed to start from scratch. I suspect if I need to explain it, you would not have landed on this page in the first place.

So far I have only tried out Vivaldi and Yandex – I can’t say I am in love with anything. I am like most people in that I use different browsers for different, specific purposes, and I suspect my use of these new browsers will follow the same pattern.

Coca-Cola is not life


Coca-Cola has seized a lot of screen time in both the final season of Mad Men (ending its run tonight!) and in the debut season of HAPPYish; I’ve been, if not perplexed, perturbed by its prevalence. As if Coca-Cola does not have its hands wringing our necks at every turn with clever-as-fuck ad campaigns, product placement and brand ubiquity that is so deeply ingrained in our lives that we don’t even notice it and think it’s totally normal.

I had forgotten when I wrote about Coca-Cola woven into two of Sunday night’s TV offers that I recently was “upgraded” to a branded hotel room in Oslo – I don’t know if the room had a name, but I will call it the “Coca-Cola Life room”. It featured a small living room and a bedroom and a whole lot of Coca-Cola Life pictures and banners as well as a fridge filled with this bizarre Coca-Cola Life beverage – all gratis.

Coca-Cola is not life - hotel room Oslo

Coca-Cola is not life – hotel room Oslo

For those unfamiliar, Coca-Cola Life (this website is the ugliest thing I have ever seen Coke make) is Coke’s sort of new low-calorie drink. It has some actual sugar but is mostly sweetened with Stevia. I don’t think it’s been launched in the US yet but it’s not something I would go out looking for no matter where I am. I had noticed it in the stores in Sweden and wondered whether it was some kind of ill-advised cola-flavored energy drink. And when I ended up in a Coca-Cola Life branded room, I had more than enough time to read the label and taste the results. (Nothing to report – tastes like any other cola drink and did not really seem like a “diet” version of most soda.)

But you know what? Coca-Cola is not life. Duh. There’s something mystifying, sad and offensive about Coca-Cola taking a word as simple as “life” and co-opting it to sell tooth rot in a bottle.

Best part of the hotel room by the way – a weird drawer/cupboard with the toy hind-end of a big cat as handle.

big cat ass drawer handle

big cat ass drawer handle

doon the toon


Safety and stability are illusions. You can feel like you are in a really good place and be hit by setbacks. Even if temporary, they stop you in your tracks. Evaluate. Do you have to start from the beginning again? Do you start where you left off but with a lot less trust and enthusiasm? And if you do continue, nursing the wounds and bearing the scars, less trusting, more worried, always cautious – should you? Is that best for anyone involved?

Suddenly Kevin Rahm


I had seen him in other places like Judging Amy and Desperate Housewives (neither being shows I actually watched), so Kevin Rahm never registered with me. But now he is everywhere. He has been Mad Men’s (newly moustachioed) Ted Chaough, Bates Motel’s bad guy Bob Paris and Madam Secretary’s somewhat mad external strategist, Mike B. It is Rahm’s moment.

His simultaneous ubiquity put him on my TV obsessed radar, but I do wonder what his future holds. He is sort of an everyman, can even appear a bit on the milquetoast side. Either he can play this everyman everywhere or he can be more of a secret weapon – displaying the ability to blend in like an everyman before unleashing some craziness and villainy on unsuspecting viewers.

Coca-Cola and “assholery”: Mad Men and HAPPYish


Coca-Cola believes it taught us to sing. Or at least it believes it is so intrinsic to our lives that we won’t even notice its ubiquitous presence in our favorite TV shows. How pervasive Coca-Cola suddenly is in two TV shows that focus on the advertising industry: Mad Men and HAPPYish. If everyone in the world is an asshole, as the TV show HAPPYish posits, then ad men are the biggest assholes in the world, selling asshole ideas to a world of susceptible asshole sheep-herd consumers.

“In this toilet of a world, the asshole is king*.” Everyone loves the asshole.

“Your problem is that you think that assholes are some sort of anomaly, some sort of aberration. Nature is an asshole factory, my friend. If you exist, you’re an asshole*.”

Throughout the latter half of the final season of Mad Men, there have been multiple references to Coca-Cola, as present as Lucky Strike was to its first season. The references are subtle – talking about Coke like it is the holy grail of advertising, what all ad men aspire to. With only one episode left, it remains to be seen whether all these mentions lead somewhere or are just planted for the sake of talking about Coke. Lucky Strike’s dominance in season one, and the ad men’s urgent campaign to wipe out the rising tide of health warnings against smoking, foreshadowed a brave-faced Betty Draper Francis being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Do the constant references to Coke as Mad Men winds down – the pursuit of their business – foreshadow the oncoming proliferation of diabetes, obesity and other health ills that soon overtake America? Is Matthew Weiner painting a cautionary tale in broad strokes? The vices we desire are ultimately what will kill us, but there are awfully compelling, glossy ad campaigns that make these vices appear however ad men want them to look – seductive, sexy, wholesome, beautiful, “toasted” (Don Draper’s pitch to Lucky Strike in season one) or a harbinger of world peace (“I’d like to teach the world to sing/in perfect harmony… I’d like the buy the world a Coke…”). All in the consumerist pursuit of elusive happiness and using manipulative, asshole tactics to convince us that a sugar-filled drink can accomplish anything of the kind.

Quite a different show about advertising, HAPPYish started off pretty weak and is still far from perfect. But in episode four, it started to get better. In it, the ad team at the heart of the show is pitching Coca-Cola. Much less subtle and totally over-the-top, the episode began with showing a bunch of young ad interns a parody of the original Coca-Cola “I’d like to teach the world to sing” ad. The actual Coke pre-pitch turns out to be a slap in the face to the young, Swedish upstarts trying to overtake the agency with their rejection of traditional ad campaign tactics. Oh the Swenglish sounds, spewing such corporate marketing psychobabble and insanity! One of the Swedish duo, Gottfried, exclaims, “We don’t need campaigns any more. It’s one smart idea, and it changes the world, ok? We need ideation! We need social integration. We needs events, we need moments… it wasn’t a war that started the Egyptian revolution, it was fucking Facebook.”

The show’s main character, Steve Coogan’s Thom Payne replies, “And the Egyptian revolutionaries.”

Bradley Whitford, the manager of the agency, grows more irate: “I don’t think Egypt is the best case study for the long-term effectiveness of social media.”

Gottfried: “It’s like you told me when we first met about Al Qaeda. They’re a great brand but what makes them a great brand? They don’t make campaigns – they make events: 9/11, 7/7, Charlie Hebdo…” ?!

Whitford’s Jonathan exclaims in angry exasperation: “THIS IS COCA-fucking-COLA! They couldn’t be less insurgent-like if they fucking tried!*”

The idiotic Swedish upstart interjects his “end of campaigns” BS and tries to tell Coke they can be an insurgent. After the Swedish wunderkind makes an ass of himself pitching the death of advertising, Bradley Whitford’s Jonathan jumps in to pitch Coca-Cola on a level it will understand: domination… in the form of the programmed, hyperdetailed, 600+ page 1933 Nazi organization brand bible: “This is what Coke needs” – the book that, Jonathan claims, makes Mein Kampf look like child’s play. He urges them to embrace global dominance the way the Nazis did – as no brand has ever been as powerful as the Nazi brand, not even Coke. “Domination is the same goal no matter what you’re selling. Coca-Cola is not a brand: it’s an uber-brand; it’s a movement that deserves a fanatical devotion*.”

HAPPYish’s antihero, Payne, ends up declaring, after the Coca-Cola pitch nightmare and a conversation about how society has cast philosophy and insight aside to look for wisdom in advertising and in retail therapy (“It’s not hard to be a genius in a world that looks to shopping bags for insights.”): “If I hadn’t met Lee (Payne’s wife), it wouldn’t be funny at all. We’re the only ones on earth that the other one can stand. Maybe that’s all you can ask for on this planet. One non-asshole. After all, the pursuit of happiness is the source of all unhappiness. You know who said that? LuLu Fucking Lemon. Here on planet asshole, the shopping bag knows all.”

Mad Men and its revelation-via-ad-campaign has echoed these same reflections, questions and explorations in its characters’ pursuit of happiness. It is a subtler, quieter evaluation of happiness and man’s wants in life. But it is further evidence of what HAPPYish hammered home – everyone is an asshole, which has been proven time and again in seven seasons of Mad Men.

*All quotes from season 1, episode 4 of Showtime’s HAPPYish

Lunchtable TV Talk – Grace and Frankie: Squandered opportunity


The pedigree of Grace and Frankie’s cast (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen) should guarantee (and does on paper) that this would be at least a semi-worthwhile viewing. But then it relies entirely on the marquee names and ignores the need for compelling writing, which is tired and borderline offensive, or acting. The characters are one-dimensional caricatures – and the show is just plain boring. It’s sad. Netflix rarely misfires this badly with its original programming. But this is just lazy and not funny where it is supposed to be. Full of insensitivity and lack of believability. It misses the opportunity to handle topics, such as late-in-life divorce, late-in-life coming out, quite deftly. We saw Amazon take on a similar journey in Transparent when a senior citizen man comes out as transgender and handled the story well. Grace and Frankie also deals with the retirement-aged set and looks at characters of an age that we don’t normally see in leading roles. They usually hang out in the background as the resident grandparents. Sadly, even with this cast and the potential for groundbreaking material, this show entirely mishandles these themes horribly.



I realized that it was someone’s birthday today – someone from the past. Not the distant past, but someone who was important enough that I thought I would never forget. I happened to remember, sort of in casual passing.

Letting go and moving on and all that … that takes time, is a process, and sometimes it is rough. It is satisfying, though, when you reach a stage when it is just so long gone and out of mind that it surprises you that it was ever a part of your life.

Lunchtable TV Talk – Elementary: Promotion and reinvention


It seems a fool’s errand to try to describe or review TV’s Elementary. Jonny Lee Miller (he’s great but he’s always a little bit “Sick Boy” to me) as one of many versions (modern and not so modern) of Sherlock Holmes delivers enough entertainment week on week – and the reimagined scene, set in New York with a female Watson (Lucy Liu originally as Sherlock’s sober companion and later his fellow detective), is effective in differentiating it. Supporting cast is also usually effective. I am struck in particular by Aidan Quinn as the police captain, as it seems Quinn has been relegated to a lifetime of playing the put-upon also-ran (Desperately Seeking Susan and Legends of the Fall come to mind) or world-weary police captains (in Elementary and in the short-lived US version of Prime Suspect starring Maria Bello).

In the most recent Elementary episode, I felt a strong connection to a very small scene, in which Quinn turns down a promotion. When asked why, he responds, “My ambition is being met.” He does not want to move. (It turns out in his case that the promotion was more of a way to get him out of his current job and is more a threat/not a choice than anything else.) But the bottom line for me is … how is it wrong when you admit that you are where you are because you want to be there? Isn’t finding the right place and right level of challenge and satisfaction and wanting to stay put its own triumph? We can search a lifetime for what we want to do and never find it. But when you find the thing that makes you happy, at which you have talent and from which you deliver results, do you need promotions and to climb a ladder just for the sake of climbing? The whole system is built that way – and not set up for those who are content with building on the foundation they have already built.

Elementary shows us another path, in fact, in the form of Liu’s Joan Watson. After a successful career as a surgeon, she leaves medical practice to become a sober companion. She eventually finds, in her work with Sherlock, that she is a gifted detective and makes a complete career change. For many this would seem ridiculous – after the years of training, education and practice that go into becoming a surgeon, walking away from it seems improbable. But finding one’s real passion – or a passion that becomes obvious or blooms only in later life – should be … if not rewarded, at least considered.

Having Watson’s career U-turn as a template and evolving example provides an interesting juxtaposition for the way the captain is tied to this career ladder he is expected to climb.

Lunchtable TV talk – HAPPYish: “Everyone’s f—ed and they don’t even know…”


Apparently, HAPPYish on Showtime was meant to be a vehicle for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s boundless talents before his untimely death. The usually entertaining (in that obnoxious, this-rubs-me-the-wrong-way-but-I’m-still-laughing manner) Steve Coogan stepped in.

I don’t think it’s Coogan’s fault that the material feels tired, overworked, too much overprivileged middle-aged man at odds with the changing world. Coogan’s character is a senior ad exec, and much like Don Draper in Mad Men, he finds that the changing media landscape and its youth-oriented sensibilities seem to be moving on without him – even if those movements are actually illogical, loss-making bullshit. Coogan is the voice of reason but no one is listening. He’s struck by malaise – unable to be effective at work and unable to be particularly effective in his marriage. He can’t sexually perform, he tells his eager wife (Kathryn Hahn) that Prozac has robbed him of his libido but without Prozac he’d basically be horny but a miserable prick. The first episode makes Hahn seem like she is not able to say much aside from some variation of, “Are we gonna fuck (or not)?” And we were led to believe that men had the one-track minds.

The second episode focused more on Hahn’s troubled relationship with her unseen mother and her internal struggle about whether or not she should return a giant package her mother sent for her grandson. Somehow the parental conflict we don’t see just feels petty and Hahn’s character petulant and self-indulgent because we don’t really know the context. I normally like Hahn (she’s great in both Parks and Recreation and Transparent) but the writing and story here does not suit Hahn and seemingly does not suit anyone who is in this show – and there are a lot of names popping up, but everyone seems awkward.

Part of the problem, apart from trying too hard, is that we have little pieces of this same show already done better in other shows. We have the ad man-out-of-time in Mad Men. We have the hilarious parody of an industry that often seems to be blowing itself and praising its own insular nature at the expense of reality in Silicon Valley. We have the married-life rut and suburban ennui done to perfection in Togetherness. Like most critics, I think we don’t need another TV show about a dissatisfied but mostly spoiled middle-aged white dude complaining about everything he doesn’t have.

Do yourself a favor and watch those shows – not this one.

“Everyone’s fucked and they don’t even know…”