You might notice something a little different today. Yup, all of the photos are watermarked with the URL to this blog. This is something I never thought I’d have to do, and it’s certainly not anything I ever wanted to do.
This month, I noticed that while the number of visitors to my site had increased, mostly for legitimate reasons, my bandwidth usage has gone through the roof. (Since I self-host my blog, bandwidth = money.) Also, the number one search term bringing visitors to my site this month is “gorillas.”
It took me awhile to figure out why this was happening, but the reason soon became apparent: several of the images on my blog seem to have become quite popular. Which is all well and good, really – if you want to use my images, you’re more than welcome to. However, most of the people using them are hotlinking to them. Hotlinking is the use of a linked object, often an image, from one site into a web page belonging to a second site – in other words, you’re not grabbing an image and hosting it on your web server, you’re simply linking back to MY site; the image shows up on your web page, but my website is bearing all the burden.
It’s like…internet welfare, y’all.
It’s also known as leeching, piggy-backing, offsite image grabs and – quite appropriately – bandwidth theft. This is a bad thing, folks. If you want an image from my site, just ask – I’ll be flattered as all get-out and not only send you the image to use but probably tell you exactly how, when, where and why I took the damn thing.
At any rate, I almost put some code on my site that would replace all hotlinked images with one that said, “I Steal Images From Jan’s Sushi Bar” but there is at least one image housed on my server that requires the ability to hotlink to it (I’m aware of it and it’s not the source of the bandwidth drain). So, I removed some of the images from my server (you will find the disclaimer on this post), and labeled the other offenders that I’m aware of with “This Photo is the Property of Jan’s Sushi Bar.” All images from this point forward will be watermarked, and I’ll gradually go back and watermark past images.
If I can’t keep people from hotlinking to them, I can at least advertise where they came from.
Anyhoo. Swedish meatballs. Not only one of Beloved’s favorite dishes, but one of The Young One’s as well, judging by the way he licked his plate Saturday night. This is a new recipe (for me), adapted from one by Alton Brown (who, while he irritates the bejeebus out of me – can’t they just take him off of Iron Chef, for crying out loud? he doesn’t contribute a damn thing to the show – has the occasional great recipe, and this is one of them). It is easy, and it is goooooood. Served with homemade egg noodles, as I did this last weekend, it is the epitome of comfort food.
serves 6, or Beloved and The Young One
2 slices fresh bread
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons clarified butter, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 200° F.
Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small bowl along with the milk. Set aside.
In a medium-sized skillet or saute pan over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cook until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground beef, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
Using your hands, shape the mixture into meatballs, about one ounce each.
Heat the remaining butter in the skillet over medium-low heat. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides and cooked through, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven.
Once all of the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef broth and stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the sauce and serve over noodles, mashed potatoes or steamed rice.