Saturday, August 4, 2012

the proof is in the pudding

Today is a scorcher here in Portland, OR. By 4:30 pm the outdoors ambient is 96 degrees F. There were no clouds all day but the unrelenting parching sun. Tatyana has been out in the sun all day and I went and checked at 4:30pm to see how did my solar gain mitigation measures fare.

Here are the mitigation measures:
1) 4.5" diameter 320 mA computer fan on shade side of upper wing window

2) homemade silvery fabric exterior sun shade - see next photo

soy sauce 豉油

Soy sauce is one most important cooking staple in many Asian cultures. In my childhood we used to have neighborhood stores that sells mostly fermented food products. These stores sell nearly exclusively just fermented products and cooking condiments. Many of these fermented products and cooking condiments became more difficult to find even in Hong Kong and China now. If you can find them in containers their quality is generally mixed and very pricey compared to the days when you can buy in burk just enough of each to cook a meal.This kind of stores all but vanished now in Hong Kong. When I was in Beijing in 2010 I stumbled upon this over 100 year old fermented food store and I was so envy. It has all these fermented food in huge ceramic containers. Many of them I last tasted since my childhood.

article of delight - korean butane stove

From years of camping in my Westfalia Vanagon Camper I eventually started to use a butane stove for cooking dishes that would cause permanent odor inside the vehicle. I would still cook things that does not create oil smoke on the inside kitchenette's gas stoves.

As soon as I equipped myself with a butane stove sky is the limit of what I could cook on the road.

stir fry of morning glory with fermented shrimp paste

Most Asian families that has a good cook would invariably have a stove or hot plate they can use at the dinner table. There are many dishes that one can enjoy eating as you cook.

Friday, August 3, 2012

finds from road trip to vancouver, bc

In late January I took a trip to Vancouver, BC in my VW Vanagon Camper. Of course the most important activity whenever visiting Vancouver (and Richmond), BC is to satisfy my craving for hard to come by Chinese food and ingredients. Let me just say here in Portland, OR, I never eat out for Chinese food. I can cook circles around most chefs here except the rare specialties difficult for one to prepare at home.

While in the Chinatown, I stumbled upon this lone store in the edge of Chinatown in which the street has deteriorated. It has the look of a once thriving hardware store and have been around for many decades. The elderly couple now make a meager living selling their remaining inventory, much of which left over from the bygone decades.

i played with this identical toy when I was only a few years old - entirely made with metal; this toy predates the cultural revolution

quick noodle soup - shanghai style 上海麵

Let the truth be told that many of my meal consists of very quick to make dish. I eat a lot of noodle soup and I have developed a very efficient system to prepare them, all from honest ingredients from scratch.

all honest to goodness ingredients, prepared from scratch (napa cabbage heart, braised pork shoulder, julienned ginger root and sliced scallion

salmon, and more salmon

I may seems to the readers that most of my meals in the last 2 weeks were frequently salmon than anything else. It gave that impression because I haven't been writing about other dishes I made.

I loved watercress even as a child. I like how it is chewy and your parents would tell you any vegetable that is fibrous is good for the digestive system.

Most Asian prefer vegetable with a hint of bitterness, and watercress fits that bill. It is tasty and the slight bitterness makes it that much more interesting. For the longest time I always use watercress in a broth or soup. Only in recent years I thought of stir frying it. Now I do both.

kettle shopping

My Korean aluminum recently failed due to corrosive pitting from the inside. One day I found a poor of water inside the kitchen cabinet where I store it. Fortunately I discovered it shortly after it happen. I had learnt to love this simple and yet very effective kettle. The design an an archetype of kettles in many Asian countries including Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

Before this kettle I had used a stainless steel one made in Japan for decades. While the stainless steel kettle is very well made, the achilles heel is the stainless steel. Stainless steel typically is the least desirable metal if heat transfer is a desired performance merit.

glutinous rice snack - 糯米飯

While browsing through my old photo collection I came across these. Glutinous rice is eaten in all Asian countries and there are may ways of preparing it. Unlike the common rice which most often is kept plain to accompany dishes that is flavorful, glutenous rice most often is prepare with seasoning and other ingredients so the dish stands on its own.

with chinese pork sausage and toasted peanut

james cook enhancements - part 4

While I been taking Tatyana on short camping trips quite frequent lately, I would compile a list of enhancements as I conceived of the idea which often came from new found needs. Here are a few more recent ideas either implemented or being prototyped.

The top-load refrigerator  came with 2 wire basket. This one did not come with any insert or container but just a bare wire frame "basket". I searched my kitchen for trays that would fit and here is the result.

nice aluminum trays I bought in Tokyo, and a corning glass tray fit like gloves

Thursday, August 2, 2012

winter melon in broth - 冬瓜湯

One reason I want to blog is to share Chinese dishes that are under-represented in the West. Most ethnic cuisine suffers from being narrowed and most often altered to suit the taste of foreign societies.

I actually don't dine that much in Chinese restaurants in North America cities, except when I travel to cities that has very large Asian population like Toronto, Vancouver, and New York. I at time travel to Phoenix, AZ for work and I would go to an unassuming Chinese restaurant there that serves Cantonese food at very reasonable price. This restaurant do most of the business with regular customers, especially dinner. Each time I go there for dinner I invariably see 1 or 2 non-Asian parties dinning there.

still more gorge trip

Just having resuming sailboarding for about 8 days had made huge difference in my physical shape, muscle tone and most importantly stamina. I went back into the gorge thinking of a 2-day trip but it turned into a 4-day stay. I learnt my lesson from the previous trip to bring more supplies than my anticipated duration of stay. I took very few pictures for the blog this time.

7/27/12 friday at roosevelt, wa

tatyana parked next to her distant american cousin; very few sailors here that day as sailing condition was very good in the western columbia gorge and it is also a workday for most folks