Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Perfect Steak ! Sous Vide

While I was in the Land of Smiles, one of the things I really missed a lot was a good steak.  As I posted before we have beef from Australia and New Zealand, but American beef is still the best in my mind - especially if its USDA Prime.  It use to be that Prime grade beef (steaks, roasts, etc.) was only available to restaurants, but its fairly common now in places like Costco, high end butcher shops, etc.  

Anyway, I was craving some beef yesterday when I ran across some great USDA Prime New York cut steaks at Costco.  It was a bit pricey, but since I haven't had a great steak in months it went right into the basket without much of a fight. Besides, I ordered some special cooking equipment called a Sous Vide cooker over the holidays which I had not used.  It would be a perfect test for me to make the perfect steak!

Sous Vide Cooking is a technique used by many high end restaurants where food is cooked at very low temperatures and enclosed in a sealed bag or container.  Ideally, the bag or container should be vacuum sealed so that it retains all the flavor and juices.  Seasoning can be added before the food is sealed and it permeates the food while cooking.  

The fancy dancy Joule sous vide cooker, uses both WiFi and bluetooth to
make the process easy 

In order to get good results, one needs a very precise way of controlling temperature - that is where the Sous Vide cooker comes into play.  The cookers are usually set up to heat water in a container to a predetermined temperature and keep it at that temperature for a specified time so that it cooks evenly and pasteurizes the food.

Used my big pot instead of a polycarbonate box because that is what I had

Cooked for 45 minutes in HD sealed zip lock bag

So yesterday's steak was my first try at making the perfect steak.  Rare to medium rare with the perfect outside crust, seasoned perfectly, and melting in one's mouth...the perfect 10.  Anyway, the process was amazingly easy because I bought one of those fancy cookers that I could control on my smartphone.  All I had to do was pick out what I was cooking, the size, and how well I wanted it to be cooked and the app set up the time and temperature.  It even provided step by step instructions.  The final step was to sear the meat on the outside with a bit of butter in a thick (preferably cast iron) pan for about 45 seconds on each side. 

Sorry, I didn't take a copy of the meat on the inside because I was too busy stuffing my mouth to stop and take a photo.  But it was not only perfectly cooked, but juicy, and perfectly seasoned.  One of the best steaks I've ever had.  It was that good.

Add some veggies for my side and its a perfect steak dinner

Anyway to close today, B's sister's operation came out well.  She is doing fine and resting and all results and testing were good as well.  A few weeks of R&R and she will be okay.  She can't have kids anymore, but she already has two and doesn't want anymore so it will work out just fine.

I still have one more steak...maybe Sunday before I go to Vegas?  ...so many temptations..

Monday, January 15, 2018

Another year...older, wiser, and hopefully happier!

We like to measure things and events.  Otherwise we wouldn't have units for them such as time, dollar, IQ, etc.  But there are things which have no quantifiable units that are much more valuable and that can only be measured by how one personally feels.  Happiness is one of those items where you and your feelings are the only measures.  Its different for each person as well, as one person's happiness may be another's misery.

Anyway, as the new year begins I took the opportunity to publish my blog in hardcopy form again like last year.  Blog2Print is a company that takes your blog from its online platform and converts it to book form.  One can select from a number of book formats (hardcover, softcover, etc), paper quality, and layout options.  The cost of the book is determined by how many pages it will take up after it has been converted.  They are running a promo at the moment with a 39% discount off of the final product.  I did the same thing last year for 2014 and 2015 so its up to eleven volumes as I first started this blog back in 2005.  

If you are publishing on the internet, it makes good sense to also make a hardcopy of your publications because electronic platforms are vulnerable to many things such as hacks, data loss, or even the media platform you use being discontinued.  One thing nice about paper is that its going to be around as long as it can still be read, baring being destroyed by fire, loss, etc.  In a decade from now, will there still be a blogger or wordpress or similar platform?...no one knows, but paper is still going to be around for a while.

Back on the home front, B and her nephew are heading to the big mango because B's older sister is having her operation tomorrow.  She has surgery to remove a growth in her uterus and we have our fingers crossed and prayers that all will be fine and that she will have a quick recovery.  Her son Bow, has been living up at the resort and helps B's father with the hard chores and field work.  

Lastly, its almost time to pack again for my trip to Vegas.  Just unpacked yesterday from my business trip and will do some laundry today or tomorrow and then get ready to hit the road again.  This time, I think I will relax a bit since its a short conference and there is so much more to see and do in Vegas.  But its still work -  never the less right?...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Back for the long weekend

Back from my business conference to Kalifornia for the long weekend.  Glad to be back, learned a lot, and ready to dive into my taxes and work until next week when I will head off to Vegas to attend a kite trade show.  No rest for the wicked, but I rather that than be bored out of my mind.

More later in the week.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Attending business conference

Will be away attending an ICSC meeting for the next few days so the postings will be sparse.  Will post as I can but will be back to the Bay Area on Saturday.  All is well except the jet lag, but it was expected after being in the land of smiles for nearly three months.

Yes, I'm still alive and kicking...

Friday, January 5, 2018


Back in the late great state of Kaliforni (pick you poison from either of the above definitions).  Very pleasant trip over, especially the last leg in business class.  Slept like a baby because of the flat seats and some ear plugs.  You can tell if you are sleeping well when you have dreams and don't know where you are when you wake up.  The meals on the return flight were good, but not as good as the trip over.  

Just like on the flight over, there was multi course dinner with great salads, appetizers, and my entree choice of duck with pesto pasta.  Breakfast was western style seafood noodles.  Good choice of beverages, including a welcome glass of sparkling wine when you first get on board.  Traveling business class is really the way to travel back and forth on long trips, if I can afford to do so I would do it every time.  Unfortunately, I can't afford it and have to treasure those upgrade miles and the luck of the draw when it does happen.

Back to the realities of being in the states.  No food in the fridge, nothing open at night, and its a rainy evening in the Bay Area.  At least its not too cold due to the rain.  

Will be busy getting ready for a business trip next week so aside from the unpacking, and getting over jet lag, and catching up with mail, doctor's appointments, its going to be a bit boring and busy.  Might to over to Vegas for the 2nd installment of a trade show or attend the annual Vegas Archery shoot but those activities won't be until later in the month.  Will post as I get the chance and hopefully find some interesting things to write about. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Lizard in the Lounge

Unfortunately, this lounge looks like a cocktail lounge or disco...

Yeah, the old lounge lizard spirit is still hanging around me sometimes and today I'm doing a little session at the EVA lounge in the big mango.  Just chilling out for another hour or so after checking in.  Had some pizza, some dim sum, and some orange juice.  Just something to tie me over for a few hours until I get to Taipei.  I am looking forward to my business class seat and the meals.  On the way over, we had steaks and great desserts.  

The departure today was a bit sad.  I spent the morning swimming with Marina at the condo pool as I promised her.  We had a great time and I wish we could freeze the time and not let it go by, but it ended too soon and we were off to the airport.  She was tired as she fell asleep during the trip and it was good as I hate messy goodbyes.  Just caressed her face as she slept and gave her a big hug and kiss while she was still groggy when I got out at the airport.  B is continuing on to the bus terminal where she is going to try to catch an early bus back upcountry.  Marina has school tomorrow.

This trip is going to be different in that I'm not sure exactly how long I will be in Kalifornia.  It could be up to two months, but I am hoping it will be sooner.  For me two months is an eternity and for kids, it will seem even longer.  The good news is that I will be taking Marina and B to Disneyland when I get back as the passports are all done.  It was the passports that created the cancellation of the trip for November but it may work out better as we will be going to Hong Kong during the off season and may get cheaper air and hotel rates to boot.

That's it for now, more on the way over to the other bookend if I can't sleep.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

In the big mango

In the big mango for a couple of days before heading back to Kalifornia.  Got back this afternoon after a long drive.  Seems like I caught the tail end of the rush back as there were lots of cars.  Jammed in the construction areas and didn't clear up good until about 75KM outside of the mango.  Then suddenly, everything opened up.

Have some shopping and packing and chores so the next couple of days will be hectic and posts will be sparse.  More as things progress, but its on the plane and heading back on the 4th.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy 2018 !

Its a few hours more for us in the Land of Smiles but the celebrations have already started.  The bands at the various Wats in the area are going full blast and one can hear them from miles away.  We are running the final light show tonight and the fireworks are ready for the midnight hour.  A seafood feast is planned for tonight's party and lots of beer for everyone except me.

oops...I didn't know they were illegal 
For me, 2017 was a very eventful year and I have lots to be grateful for.  My heart operation was a big success as well as having a great recovery.  I had a fabulous trip to the Holy Land and celebrated the birth of a new granddaughter.  The '7' in the end digit could only be good for me right?  After all, my handle is sevenwinds.  Great family, friends, and good memories so there is lots to look back on and to look forward to in the coming new year.

So to those readers around the planet, our wishes to you and your loved ones for a very happy, healthy, and prosperous NEW YEAR!    Sawadee Bee Mai 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

What New Years Looks like upcountry

If you are wondering what New Year celebrations look like upcountry instead of the big mango, I have a couple of pictures and a video to share today.  Many people think incorrectly, that its kind of dead and boring if you are not in the big mango during the New Year countdown.  It is boring if you like the traditional western style entertainment, but to the country folks, New Years week/weekend is a chance to visit the local Wat and enjoy country style entertainment.  That means festivals at the Wat and huge Mor Lum bands that have a cast of hundreds.

After last night's fest, we still had 3/4 of the pig remaining
After erecting the tree yesterday and roasting our pig, which incidentally turned out to being 30 kilos and not the 5-7 kilos I posted yesterday, we paid a visit to one of the local Wats that were hosting celebrations.  The pig took hours and hours to cook and you can see by the pictures that it was after dark before it was ready to eat.  It was basted during the entire time and was absolutely finger licking good as we did away with formalities of forks and knives and dived right into the tender meat.  Almost melt in your mouth pork...if that is even possible.

They are one of four in the local area that do this every year and spent a lot of money to bring in one of the best Mor Lum groups in the country to perform the next couple of days.  Rumors are that it cost around 300K baht for the group, paid for by wealthy members of the Wat, and that was not for the prime New Year's eve slot either.  I can see why it cost so much from the productions setup.  It was massive and best of all, it was free to everyone!  

Big crowd and sitting room only

Vegas style show with lots of fancy costumes and pretty girls

The Wat also had food and other stuff for sale from local vendors.  They always seem to be around selling stuff when and wherever there is something going on.  You could buy paper sheets to sit on the ground or rent chairs from the booths.  Most people elected to pay 20 baht for a piece of large paper and made themselves at home.  This show runs for about 8 hours and ends around 4AM, but I only stayed for 30 minutes as the sound system was so loud that my insides were shaking!  I guess I am just too old for all this loud music stuff...

Actually the sound system is pretty good, its just so loud it overpowered by 
phone's mic during this recording

Anyway, here are some photos and a short video of the kind of stuff they had at the show.  More later as the weekend develops.  I have to get back to the mango by Tuesday to pack and get ready for my trip so there is a ton of stuff to do before I leave the resort.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Raising the Holiday Tree

We raised the 'holiday' tree today at the resort.  The reason I call it a 'holiday' tree instead of a 'Christmas Tree' is not to be politically correct, but here in the land of smiles, Santa and his reindeer, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and decorated trees are used to usher in the New Year.  For example, the girls at the check-out registers at the local Makro were still wearing Santa hats and Christmas songs can still be heard at the stores.  TV stations will show decorated trees and wish everyone a happy new year.  Christmas is celebrated here by some companies, but this is a huge weekend as it is New Year's weekend and the highway up to the resort was jammed.  B's sister and her family came up yesterday and it took them eight hours plus from Northern Bangkok.  The area is packed and the resort is full until after the New Year.  The local Wat and others in the area all have New Year festivities planned - it is just a matter of picking where to go.

The PVC pipes/LED strips were all tested prior to install

The tree is made of  PVC pipes which form the frame.  LED strips are zip tied onto the smaller tubes, which are hung from metal loops which I made from another PVC connector.  The bottom of the tree tubes are anchored to the ground with tent stakes and strong bungee chords to give them tension and resistance to winds.  Each tree tube took me about 45 minutes to make so I spent over 10 hours of construction on this one tree alone.  But it will be saved for next year and should last a few seasons before being replaced with newer technology.

Don't have a coordinated musical routine for the tree yet, but there is a 'fun' mode I can run on it so it will be lighted during tonight's show.  I will post pictures tomorrow.  In the meantime, I think we are having Moo Han / (Moo Yang) tonight so I want to see if I can help.   Its not a suckling pig, but it not full sized either, looks like 5-7 kilos, maybe a bit more --1500 baht but you have to slaughter, dress and cook it by yourself.  Yep, its a country style feast for the extended family which has started to drift in over the last few days.  Andrew Zimmern, eat your heart out...555

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