Friday, July 13, 2012

filet mignon

I was shopping for my weekly grocery in the other side of town in a Asian store I am a long regular. I came upon this still-in-the-pack filet mignon on sale. It is an entire filet mignon of a cow and in the dark plastic package the slaughter house use. Store normally divide it up into smaller portion to put on sale.

magnetic door catch from asia

I first saw the magnetic door catch when visiting Hong Kong in 2008. They are used everywhere. I had always on the lookout for good habitat products and I have not found satisfactory door catch here in the US. I had learnt to live without with my own improvises.

I had my eyes set on a few and intended to bring them back before I leave. Unfortunately the event would had it that I didn't have a chance to go back to the store to buy them.


i was relaxing in the shades of my back yard the other day and to my surprise i saw this most unusual sight - a parade of a mother raccoon and her 5 (yes, five) baby raccoon along the top of the fence dividing my property and my neighbor's.

shanghai 上海 jan 2011

video from a trip to shanghai in jan 2011, all shot hand held and was render to 720p

the sound track are songs circa 1920s-40s by a very famous chinese diva in shanghai

brunnhilde's new mirror

I have been wanting to replace the "lawyer" mirror with the "engineer" mirror on the passenger side. The stock mirror is useless for used in driving. I could extreme difficulty parallel park with it. Often I have to try 3 or 4 times parking because I could not see the rear wheel with respect to the curb. I eventually learnt to stand up so I could see the rear wheel. So much for this nonsense. I ordered the parabolic mirror online.

parabolic mirror has a vertical line

seoul nightlife

i know - it is a lame title unless you are a foodie but i was hard pressed for a better title.

a short video compiled from clips on a trip to seoul in may 2010

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Strangely I want to blog about this simple snack. I recently notice the spinach (grown in Oregon) at my local Korean grocer. They still have a good portion of the red root intact. This is the first time since I left Hong Kong that I came across spinach that has that much root intact.

When we were kids our parent always keep a good bit of the root when cooking spinach. Spanish root is actually very tasty and provide a different texture and it compliments the spinach stem and leaves. It is sweet and quite nutty. It is such a shame that in the West the root is cut off. BTW, this applies to cilantro too. Thai use cilantro with the root because the root is very aromatic.

All these years in the West I have found the spinach with the root cut off taste just too plain. This is different. It tastes just like one we had when I was a kid. So much tastier.

i blanched them in a pork bone broth and eat as a snack

I almost wanted to eat another serving. Just a bit of soy sauce and oh, so delicious.

brunnhilde's new struts

Today was forecasted as another sunny hot day here. I set out early to install the front struts onto Brunnhilde before the day get too hot. I planned systematically to install the two struts taking advantage of the shade and the advance of the sun to minimize sun exposure. I hate struggling in a hot sun.

I installed the rear shock absorbers couple of days ago and it was relatively easy.

A cup of Americana and an orange and I was ready by 8:15am. My brain was fresh and I had the sense to orient Brunnhilde to take advantage of the shade of the house from the advancing sun. Brunnhilde is now facing East, with the front shaded against the morning sun still rising from the East towards the West.

start with the passenger side the sun would hit first
It took a bit of work to figure out how to set the rebound setting. Wanting to lessen the sways at speed bought on by wind gust in mountain passes, and undulating pavement in sweeping turns, I set it quite firm.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

brunnhilde's broken key - fixed

Last Friday I ordered a handle and a lock cylinder from the dealer. The parts person told me it should arrive on next Tuesday. Just like clockwork, they call me at noon today. I am impressed.

Such perfect timing as I just finished installing the Koni rear shocks on Brunnhilde. Normally I would take my Mini but I took Brunnhilde so I can see if what the new shocks feel like.

always love to see a package on the front door - i am so materialistic :-)

front and rear shocks - installing the front is a bit more than a cake walk
Face with the task to install these shocks made me realize I really need to get a set of new metric wrench as my current ones does not go above 18mm. The big bolts on the top requires 21mm. Fortunately I have a 15/16" box end wrench that fits the 21mm bolt nicely.

Monday, July 9, 2012

steamed pacific spotted shrimp 白汋蝦

For many years after i move to Portland, Oregon the selections of seafood, especially fish, Asians enjoy were very limited. About 10 years ago that begun to change. Now we have very good selection especially live ones thanks to the many new Chinese grocery and seafood stores. The one I frequent is the largest. I hate to use the word large because you would only know because of word of mouth. The store is by no mean big, but the couple move the most of seafood I know in Portland. A lot of small restaurant owners come and buy from her. I have been their customer when they were first starting out.

Today I happened to be on that side of town. I however had just done my weekly grocery shopping 2 days ago. It is such a shame if I did not stop by there since it is on my way home anyway to see if they have anything that I haven't have for awhile. Stop I did.

I was hoping to see fresh scallops or razor clams but no luck. Everything else are the recent usuals. I was a bit disappointed. Then I see they have live Pacific Spotted Shrimps in a tank and at a great price. Funny a lot of their customers prefer the larger shrimps at double the price. I like the little spotted shrimps. I bought 1 lb. The fish monger tends to give me a bit more (you still pay by the weight) and I seldom complain.

 they are between 2 to 3 inches (stretched out)

smoked chicken

ever i moved to portland i have been a regular customer of the german delicatessen edelweiss - back in the days my cooking was far simpler and less honed. the best day to go there is saturday morning when they have most items just freshly made. my usual favorite are weisswurst and cervelat salami. though it is not my regular choice they usually have a batch of smoke chicken sold not by weight but a fix per bird price for around $7.50. i recently bought one. i decided it could not be that difficult to make, so i gave it a shot

scallion "pancake" 蔥油餅

scallion "pancake"  蔥油餅 is not anything like western pancake. it is slightly salty instead of sweet. when I was in quanzchou walking along a street we came across a couple selling scallion "pancake"  蔥油餅 in a very small store front. i could tell from the appearance they are very good. that is all the couple sells. we bought a piece which only cost a couple of RNB. man! it was so delicious. i had not had good scallion "pancake"  蔥油餅 since my childhood in hong kong.

I went to youtube and watch a few videos of how people (i always learn from a few sources and select bits of techniques from each). I made some for the first time at home:
i used a french mild steel pan
i like putting coarse sea salt on them

such a simple pleasure


i love my current property. it is situated in a convinent location with excellent access to freeways and yet has some woods and a creek nearby. i was so delighted to see so much more wild lives compared to my previous house. when i first moved in there is this woodpecker chipping away in the morning. there is so much birds and even coyotes

the most endearing are a variety of hummingbirds. here are some that I captured with my canon in the backyard

i think this one is rufous which I see a lot in my area

Sunday, July 8, 2012

phoenix modern architecture - part 2

jan 2008 phoenix modern architecture from my photo album. in this post you get to see the creative installation of mailboxes. some refer these mid century neighborhood as "the land of thousand mailboxes". also equally significant are the use of decorative concrete blocks. actually i dislike describing them as decorative. calling them architectural sounds too pretentious.

phoenix modern architecture - part 1

dec 2007 phoenix modern architecture from my photo album; i also drove to palm springs and spent new year there

land of thousand mailboxes - riches creative designs of mailboxes of anywhere I'd been

palm springs modern architecture

dec 2007 palm springs modern architecture from my photo album

taliesin west

there are some pictures from my photo album touring taliesin west in march 2006 - the communal architect and art education facility of frank lloyd wright, the touch stone of modern american architecture

kitchen renovation - part 2

The kitchen floor plan is a galley style with the garage entry on one end, and the pantry on the other. It is a very efficient arrangement. While some may desire more width on the corridor than the current 4' 4" at the widest and only 3' 7" at the narrowest, I would not want an inch more. A sensible width is the point about a galley floor plan for able to efficiently reach the counters and equipment on both sides within a step or an arm's reach. I have often work with the dishwasher door open while the wash being air dry (instead of using the heated forced air drying cycle), and the kitchen is totally usable because of the relative placements.

In the same room of the kitchen is the family room which the Vitra ad wall - cum counter partition demarcates the two areas. Along the wall on the same side as the pantry entry there is a great 12' expense with the possibility of a lot of storage. I want to install a length of base cabinets and use them to store less frequently used large cookware and some small appliances like automatic rice cooker and toaster. The problem is it can only accommodate cabinets of 18" nominal depth, and ikea does not sell 18" base cabinets.


This morning I had a hard time getting out of bed. While in bed I decide to work on my favicon. I use the program which I learnt the meaning of the word "hate" - Microsoft's Paint. I had gave up using it over  a decade ago due to it's inflexible, crude and user hostile UI design.

In all fairness the current version came with Win 7 is quite decent once you get past the less than intuitive UI.

I didn't know the little icon thingies you see on the bookmark toolbar and on the page tabs are called favicon. You know what? Learn something everyday. They are 16x16 pixels so you can't go nuts with your artistic expression. Simplicity is key.

I decided that a fork, knife, and spoon would be fitting for my blog. 1/2 hour later it was done.

For some reason it didn't show up and I thought I have to have my own domain name for it to.

Then tonight (actually the next morning) I notice it is there now on my firefox browser. Depends what browser you use, not all supports favicon.

7/9 update - i want my favicon to reflect my heritage and my interest so i redesigned it. also constrained by a 16x16 pixel the fork, knife, and spoon look like turnips. the new favicon is the chinese word for eat and it is very fitting for one of my biggest passions.

who knows it may be a few more iterations; seems it takes quite some time to propagate through google's maze of server farms. also some browser like the mobile safari does not support favicon. come on, apple, you can do better.

kitchen renovation - part 1

This is a man's kitchen renovation with a beer budget but a champagne taste. The goal is to create a very functional kitchen with the appearance of a high end kitchen with like those from Boffi or Bulthaup using off the shelf Ikea kitchen cabinets and fire sale demo Vitra ad wall office furniture.
As most would know ikea kitchen are great value but often the result screams ikea. Who want their visiting friend to say "I see, your beautiful kitchen cabinets are from ikea"