Saturday, June 30, 2012

why we blog

I had been wanting to write blog for a long time. People blog for many different reasons. Some for professional reasons, and some as hobby, and other as a form of self-expression and to share our skills and creativity with others.

Besides a bit each of the above but also to share my life with my relatives and family afar, some at half a world away. Many of my Chinese relatives do not know a word of English or have ever travel to the West. Google's blogger translator feature make the blog an excellent and efficient way for me to share my life with them. Many of them know very little about me and my life in the West. Now I write in English and they can read it in translated Chinese, or any other languages.

One of my biggest beef with a lot of internet content is the smallish sizes of pictures in many sites, especially those of for profit organizations. It is such let down. I want my pictures to be large and they are.

I cannot tell you how please I chose Blogger. The web based tool set is incredibly good. It is so easy to upload pictures and videos. The language translation feature is un-parallel. I am so impressed with Google. From the start to my first blog it took a mere few hours. While I initially just chose one of the simple template, I could tweak it incrementally along the way without losing anything. By the second blog I was totally at ease with the tool.

In the earlier days of internet I have created my own web pages. You had to spend so much time and effort managing the nuts and bolts and you have trillion folders. The blogging tool make those chore of the past, and one can concentrate on creating the rich content instead.

There is one minor down size with translated Asian languages. Because my often inclusion of Chinese the translated version has repeated words and can be confusing.

Obviously the translation is only as good as the translation engine. Google's translation is kick-ass good. You would see what I mean if you compare it against the babelfish from Yahoo. Yahoo had many years of head start ahead of Google and people wonders why Yahoo is in such dire strait as a company.  I stop using flickr and vimeo...

washing machine broke down

This is one of those repairs that took much longer than it should, due to unexpected complication.

This 17-year old clothes washer stopped in the middle of a wash and I discover it 2 days later. It had a full load of laundry.

matching pair of dryer (left) and washer (right)

This was the top of the range Asko and in those days very few people buy such "expensive" machine. I wanted a machine that will last indefinitely (and hopefully a lifetime). That had always been my view about durable goods. This machine would remain as the "fastest" machine for many years to come (spins at 1500 rpm) as well as being one of the most energy efficiency and best washing performance. Even today few high end machines can match its performance.

Friday, June 29, 2012

mini at the track

me in my mini cooper S - no, i am not the stig's american cousin

highly modified purpose-built mini cooper S

heat of the battle

checkered flag for the champion

of course it is just for clean fun; we were not racing

the amazing steadicam

taken at ibc 2010 held in amtersdam; ibc is world's biggest industry conference for anything broadcast - from production to final delivery to the viewers; to appreciate the immensity of the show/event you have to be there.

the silky smooth motions and incredible articulation; all done with just your wrist and fingers; even if you are an average built healthy person as the operator here; of course he is very good at it

alas for me the video was shot free hand in run-and-gun fashion with ambient lighting

amstersdam is a city that I would love to live - if i ever get tire of living in the wonderful and yet soggy pacific northwest; wait! i just realized amsterdam is more waterlogged and is sinking fast!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

photo diary - hong kong 香港 2008

just some selected photos from a short trip to hong kong 香港in winter of 2008

view towards tsim sha tsui 尖沙嘴 ocean terminal and star ferry 天星小輪 pier from central district 中環 harbor front - an iconic star ferry 天星小輪 in the foreground

gazing down the engine room of the star ferry 天星小輪 - something I always do as a child when taking the ferry; the smell of diesel fuel and lubricants, and the warmth of the engine room in a chilly winter crossing brings back so much memory

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

chinese clay pot rice - 煲仔飯

Most self-respecting foodies know what paella is. I love paella and I own 4 different sizes of paella pans made from mild steel with the beautiful little dimples on the bottom.

Clay pot rice 煲仔飯 (meaning rice in a little pot) is probably the closest Southwest Chinese dish to Spanish paella. Both are one-vessel heavenly meal made with good rice and with love.

clay pot master manning all the clay pot rice clients ordered - circa 2008 winter in north point, hong kong

These are many similarities:
  • you cook the rice dish starting with raw grains of rice
  • it is a self-contained one-dish meal you cook (typically) with all raw ingredients
  • the only rule is there is no rule except your sense of taste of what go together and what don't
  • while there are a lot of worthy contender ingredients, the one on the center stage is always the crispy rice on the bottom and side that soaked up the tasty juice brought by the ingredients
  • the dish is prepared in an open flame
  • you eat it straight out of the cooking vessel with a spoon (hopefully scrap hard the crispy and tasty rice off the side and bottom)
  • both use a vessel made of economic material with time proven design (clay and mild steel)

morning glory with shrimp paste 虾酱通菜 - version 2.0

I had written about this humble dish that is well liked among many Asian countries. Today I want to share one that is cooked in another Cantonese 廣東 style like you may find in Hong Kong or Guangdong. The result is very similar but with subtle differences and is equally tasty.

Guangdong is the Mandarin pronunciation of Canton while Canton is Guangdong in Cantonese pronunciation. OK, I think I manage to confuse and muddle the finer points of Chinese dialects for a lot of non-Chinese. Back to the dish I want to present.

First off this is what water morning glory 水通菜 looks like - just a humble vegetable one tends to dismiss as weed

pork belly with kimchi and cabbage - OMG

I was in Himeji, Japan in early April of 2010. I was so lucky that I timed the cherry blossom there. Moreover my timing was impeccable that I just slipped in by a hair before this Japan's finest and best preserved Himeji Castle was to be closed for a 2-year maintenance.

Entirely built of wood, the size and height Himeji castle proper is immense. On the upper levels it commends unobstructed 360 degree view of the city and beyond.

Monday, June 25, 2012

ramen 6/25/12 拉麵

Napa cabbage is so delicious, especially after you keep it in the fridge awhile. The heart would get more ripe and sweeter over time - a secret I knew for a long time. I always have a couple of them in my vegetable bin.

Because they are very large I peel and eat the leaves from outside in over the course of many meals.

This is the heart and you can see the delicious and delicate small leaves that develop and ripen over time. I sliced it lengthwise into 3 wedges so they look nice in the bowl.

i use shanhai style thick noodle - it is an unleavened noodle

slow braised pork butt, napa cabbage heart, and a half of soft boiled egg

This is a rather small bowl similar to those served at the Ramen Museum in Yokohama, Japan. A very simple and quick meal once you made the broth and the braised meat in quantity and keep in the fridge

alaska snow crab

I had never seen snow crab until this weekend at my Asian seafood store I frequent. I had snow crab while in Suwon, Korea. That one was so big that 3 of us shared it for a meal with other small side dishes.

They are quite small with most under 2 lbs. This one is about 1 lb 12 oz. It is quite common mature snow crabs to weight around 2 lb, as I later realized.

articles of delight - shopping basket

A joy in my weekly trip to the East side of town for grocery shopping is to browse the cookwares in the Asian supermarket and grocery stores. Until quite recently the selections had been very limited.

This weekend I came across this. It is available in more than half dozen of colors. It is from Thailand. Some are quite rough in which there are a lot of injection mold bleedouts. Fortunately I was able to choose this lime green one I like and it is near perfect. All the other colors are as beautiful so it was a heart wrenching decision but I persevered and made the choice.

japanese skewers 日本串燒

Many Asian countries has skewers and they may be a bit different and yet similar from region to region. I had done some skewers in the past paying little attention to the techniques and the results were mixed at best. I then began to pay more attention during my travel, as well as cruising the internet and I discovered a few techniques. Unlike what we tend to do with shish kabob in the west, skewers in the East tends to have much smaller pieces of food. Some time they are smaller the size of the pinkies.

I recently began using this smallest bamboo skewers. They had been sitting in my kitchen drawer for a long time. When I first bought them I was quite uncomfortable with them thinking they were scaled down by the Chinese manufacturer to cut cost. As I gave it more thought I then realize their seeming diminished size are normal.