Sunday, January 15, 2017

servicing compact electric heater

I have this compact electric heater for a very long time. So long that it was from the era that it was made in USA. Trump will approve. It has saw very little use. It about 2/3 the volume of a Kleenex box so the heat is distributed by a built-in fan.

Friday, January 13, 2017

mini's battery died

How long should a automotive battery last? The common wisdom would tell you it depends, but not more than 5 years on average. My 2005 (bought in 2004) Mini Cooper S still has the factory battery after 12 years. I have never tax it so it finally gave up during a winter cold spell. I charged it up and went shopping and almost got stranded.

servicing brunnhilde's propane tank gauge


The fuel level gauge in Brunnhilde has never function during my ownership. I would eventually suspect that it is caused by a stuck float mechanism inside the tank. I have been waiting for the opportunity to inspect it when the propane tank is empty.

chiuchow beef meat balls 潮州牛丸 - part 2


A week ago I ventured and made 5 pounds of Chiuchow style beef meatballs 潮州牛丸. It is my first attempt at this and my hope was the meatballs would turn out to have the almost crunchy texture as well as delicious. I am very happy the result are as good as my wildest dream.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

steamed tiny fish with fermented black beans - 豆豉蒸乾魚仔


Some of my recent culinary interest has been recreating many Chinese dishes that involves the use of preserved ingredients. Most of these cannot be found in restaurants in the West, and even in China. It is because they are regional home cooking.

steamed beef with sichaun salted mustard stem - 四川榨菜蒸牛肉



Chinese cuisine is very expansive. Often than not in the West the country's cuisines are very poorly represented. The stereo type of Chinese food hardly represents what its people eats, especially before globalization. In recent years I like to rediscover some of the less popular dishes that used to be common home cooking. Many Asian countries has extensive preserved food. The range of food that is preserved with salt is extensive. Some vegetables are preserved in salt only to be used as cooking condiments.

chinese salted and dried peanuts - 咸乾花生


A few years ago while traveling to China I bought some of these salted and dried peanuts (咸乾花生). These peanuts are prepared different from the common roasted peanut in shells in the West.

brisket galore - part 1



It was only very recently that I begun testing my hands on preparing brisket. Brisket is one of the thing that there is no point to try making a small quantity. To do it right you should get an entire piece of brisket or not bother at all.

chicken with indian spices

Recently I have been watching some cooking shows where the chef visited the common people's home as well as unassuming eateries on the street. One thing that struck me is in many home kitchens the family has a simple spice box. In the spice box there are no more than 6 to 8 spices and spice mixtures. Many of these I already have in my pantry. I decided to make a chicken dish using these spices.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

chiuchow beef meat balls 潮州牛丸 - part 1


Among the Chinese food that I miss the most are good Chiuchow beef meatballs 潮州牛丸 and fish balls 魚蛋. Here in the Pacific Northwest there is no place that you can find them. In fact to me, there is no decent Chinese restaurants. So for me the only way to crunch my cravings is to take matter into my own hands.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

chinese home cooking - 中國家菜


Only very recently that the Western press talks about Japanese washoku 和菜 . Washoku 和菜 means Japanese home cooking in a not so good translation. The two Kanji 漢字 words - 和 means in harmony and 菜 means a dish. A similar term in Chinese is 家菜 (pronounced as gar-choy in Cantonese) though the Chinese one has a connotation of being simple and prepared with unassuming ingredients, except for special occasions. The alternate term for  is chang-chai 常菜, meaning daily routine home dishes.

The definition of  gar-choy 家菜 can be quite problematic as China is so vast. The ingredients or the lack off can vary significantly from cities to rural village, and from rich to poor. A few characteristics that are typically common are cook with the ingredients available locally to make the most out of them. Contrary to the misrepresentation of Chinese cuisines in the West deep fry and greasy dishes are not the norm. Almost always there are plenty of vegetable dishes and often a soup accompanies a typical family meal.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

matsutake 松菇 galore


Years ago when I first encounter matsutakes 松菇 I had little idea what they are. Their strange appearance and the high price intrigued me and I brought a pack home to try. Later on I would realize matsutake 松菇 is one of the Pacific Northwest forest bounties. Matsutake 松菇 means pine mushroom in Chinese and Japanese. I would eventually found my prefer ways to prepare them.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

home made char siu - 叉燒



I bought a whole piece of pork butt to make braised pork (charsiu) for ramen. However I didn't want to have that much of ramen charsiu. I decided to only use one half. What to do with the other half? I initially thought I would make tasso with it. Then seeing the jar of Chinese fermented red bean curd that has been sitting on the kitchen counter for months, the decision was easy. I would just make Chinese charsiu with it. Sound strange? What is the difference between the charsiu that is used as topping for a bowl of ramen and the Chinese charsiu?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

clay pot rice aplenty - 很多煲仔飯


The air is getting damp and cold. It is near the season for clay pot rice. Clay pot rice is one of the most versatile dish once you master the fundamentals of the preparation. It is very fast to prepare and involves only one cooking vessel. I have written about clay pot rice in many posts over the years. In recent weeks I have made many meals of clay pot rice, each time with some variations of the ingredients.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

security camera system - part 5

It was just a needed maintenance work on the security because one of the wireless sensors have been eating the lithium battery very fast. I think it is because of the installation that exposed it to extreme heat and cold that deteriorated the integrated circuit. Soon it would turn into an update project for my home security system.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

jazzing up a frozen pizza - part 1

In the past I would not consider buying frozen pizza. I either make my own dough or buy fresh dough from a store when making pizza. A while back I gave Trader Joe's frozen pizza a try and they are really quite good if you are not too critical of the crust. Frozen pizza can never have good crust compare to freshly made.

braised pork belly - for ramen

I have been making ramen a very long time. Each time I prepare a batch of ingredients I learn something new. Cooking is like everything in life, is a continuous discovery. Hence, I can never keep any recipe as few of my preparation of the same dish are the same process.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

security camera system - part 4

Smile, you are on camera. One of my reasons for wanting a good security camera system is to guard against door to door unsolicited cold calls. These two guys going house to house in my neighborhood wanting to buy houses at depressed price to flip for a handsome profit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

a small batch of smoked salmon

I would never thought that I would waste time and effort to smoke this small amount of salmon. It was totally unplanned. I did not buy any salmon this year as the prices have been the highest I have seen in recent years. I came across some fresh Coho with $5 off each pack. I picked the smallest pack because it has the biggest discount. I was just going to make a few pan fry meals.