I returned to Beijing for a couple of months and the first priority was rebuilding the hubs on my bike. I have a Giant XR2 Roam that has been modified with a Surly solid fork and it was just under 1000 miles (1600 km) on the factory Giant hubs. A full season in Beijing consists of a lot of dust, combined with some heavy rain in the monsoon season. Since they had never been torn down it seemed like a good time to do it. I took over all the tools, but the truth is most bike parts and tools are about 30% cheaper than in the U.S. if you just buy them off of Taobao. The bearings for front and back were easy to find and cost me 4 RMB (about 75 cents) total. Packed them up with Park grease and the bike was ready for another season.
The first night after the rebuild we had amazing clear air, less than 100 AQI and so I hit Chang'An Avenue for a quick ride. I stopped for some pictures at the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
I bought two of the Fibaro FGMS-001 sensors off of Amazon specifically because they were supposed to be compatible with my Homeseer HS3 system.. but as with almost everything else... not really. While they can be added to the Z-Wave network, the actual sensors never return anything.
I have changed parameters... added and re-added the sensor.. done multiple scans. Nothing. My experience with Homeseer and Z-Wave in general has been very, very frustrating.
This was totally tasty and one of the best salads I have made. I started out making a type of walnut praline with cayenne pepper, brown sugar, some other spices and butter. While that was happening I roasted my beets in the oven until tender. This was placed over a bed of spinach and arugula with some goat cheese. It disappeared way too quickly for the amount of time it took to make.
Sometimes you just want a simple fish dish where the flavor of the fish comes through clear and clean. So last night I sautéed a catfish fillet in olive oil with onion, bell pepper, tomato and capers. Seasoning is sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. It is a super light way to cook catfish and the flavor is excellent.
The vegetables were prepared with a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis that is really, really good. I change some things up by replacing the yam and potato with slices of sweet potato. The layers of sweet potato, red bell pepper, carrots, onion, zucchini and tomato are all covered with bread crumbs and freshly grated romano cheese. I go light on the cheese and bread crumbs to keep it healthy.
I have been making this salad since I was in my 20's. It comes from an old Sunset Southwest Cookbook that has been a mainstay in my kitchen for a long time. It has a lot of great recipes that I used when living in Arizona.
The key to this salad is the cumin vinaigrette. There is something about how it works with the sugar and salt to make this one of the most awesome salads ever. A girl once told me she could live off of this dish and nothing else :). I put it together again a few weeks ago and it turned out great as usual.
I have been fascinated with Rutan airplanes since I was 14. That's when I met Burt Rutan at Oshkosh (1976). I have always loved airplanes and swore I would build a plane and learn to fly, but I never did. Life got in the way, and when I moved to China I pretty much gave up on any of that ever happening. But recently I started talking to one of my cousins who really reminded me of flying and we talked quite a bit about plane ownership. Then one of my other cousins started building a plane.
So there I was.
When a set of original Rutan Aircraft Company plans for the Long-EZ went up for sale on Fleabay. It is getting rarer all the time to see these come up, and the prices have been ridiculous. But this guy had a set from an estate that may... or may not.... be complete. And the price reflected that reality. I decided to take the chance, even though I may not start this project for a long time.
What I received was really interesting. The templates have been cut and some are taped together, and there are builders notes hand written on the page. But the license and registration page (original) is still in the book, so if a plane was completed it was not registered with RAF. That's not unusual, but interestingly it makes the plans more valuable. Is everything there? I really don't know. It will take days to sort out not only the plans but create some kind of working area to document the BOM (Bill of Materials), the sources and cost. Ideally everything needs to be broken down by Chapter with all of the necessary updates from Canard Pusher. This was the newsletter that had all of the mandatory changes to the plans. I have all the issues in PDF format, but again these must all be reviewed.
Keep in mind this is a design from over 30 years ago. It is still modern and very relevant, but the suppliers of the parts and fittings have mostly long disappeared. My main concern is that - while I can fabricate almost anything from wood - I don't have the shop equipment, tools or skill to fabricate items from metal. So one of the first things that has to happen would be to source every single nut, bolt, washer and part necessary to build this thing. Then a master list of desired modifications like extended nose, electric nose gear lift, larger fuel tanks etc. Its really only at that point that it can be seen if this is a practical project for me. The alternative is to just buy one, and good examples can be found in the $40k to $50k range.
After a year and a half (sigh), I finally put together a quick page that consolidates the Cornscala build. You can view it here.
While cruising the Whole Foods in Schaumburg I found a nice deal on organic leg of lamb. I have really been into Indian food lately, but I want something that has those flavors and is cooked in a healthy way. To that end I decided to take this boneless leg of lamb and rub it in garam marsala, thyme, white pepper and kosher salt along with olive oil. Then I seared that nicely brown all the way around and put it in the crock pot. Then a nice layer of finely minced onion and celery. But the best part is cooking up a big mess of hash browns and covering everything with that. Some bell pepper and diced carrots and cook for 7 hours on low. I ended up adding in little vegetable stock to get the liquid where I wanted. About one hour or maybe a little more before I prepared mustard and collard greens very simply with a veggie stock, kosher salt and pepper.
I wanted to make a special dinner for Annie this past week that would match well with a bottle of Rodney Strong Pinot Noir that we had picked up in California. I knew I wanted to do beef, but I wanted to do something with smaller portions than in the past. For me it is becoming more and more about plating a dinner properly without making it overwhelming and huge. I grilled a filet mignon with ground cumin and other spices that was sliced thin. The sweet potatoes were boiled and then mashed with butter, cinnamon and an organic comb honey. The purple carrots were interesting to look at and were sautéed with olive oil and Spanish onion. It was really an excellent meal and I was happy with the presentation.
A friend of mine who is a trained chef talked to me about how to do pretzels. He was the one who introduced me to food-grade lye and explained how it interacts with the dough. I know there are other ways to make pretzels, but there is nothing like using lye which is the traditional way of making pretzels. You have to be careful and wear gloves and eye protection is not a bad idea either. But the main thing is to remember to add lye to the water - NOT water to the lye. It will generate significant heat, but a plastic container is fine. It did not harm my container, but oddly enough it did discolor my baking sheets. Nothing damaging, but certainly visible.