Monday, August 17, 2009


So I decided to have a nice dinner the night before I fly to germany in san francisco for me and my girlfriend.
But since I had no reliable car which she could take back to davis the next morning. Well we canceled it.

Instead I surprised her with a nice dinner on friday night. My exact works were something like
get the hell out of my kitchen and don't come in before I call you

And spend 5 hours cooking, steaming and so. Ok the sauce was cooking 5 hours, the actual preparation was only 45 minutes.

  • steamed lobster and a dill bed
  • gravlax
  • sauteed duck with tarragon sauce, my signature dish
  • sauteed bell peppers with a balsamic reduction
  • mozarella and cheevre as appetizer
  • different kinds of breads
  • some riesling
  • vanilla ice cream with flambeed pears, my signature desert
I even managed to get everything done in time and it was the first time my planning kinda worked out. Ok it was 25 minutes late, but at perfect temperature.


duck breast:
  • rub in salt and pepper
  • let rest in frigde for 2 hours
  • pat dry
  • heat a bit of canola oil
  • reduce heat to medium
  • put duck fat side up in the pan for 15 minutes
  • turn duck over and cook on low for 5 - 6 minutes to medium done
tarragon sauce:
  • put half a stick of butter in pot
  • melt it gently
  • add a cup of flour and heat it till it's brown and smells toasty
  • add a cup of chicken stock and mix it in
  • add another cup of chicken stock and keep mixing
  • add 2 cups of chicken stock
  • keep simmering for 4 -5 hours, depending how salty you like the sauce
  • remove skin from time to time
  • let the sauce cool down, it should be now only 2 cups left
  • add a cup of whipping cream
  • add fresh crushed tarragon leaves
  • cook for 2 minutes
  • keep warm till serving
  • pick a lobster
  • lay it on aluminium foil
  • add a bit of butter
  • add 2 - 3 stems of dill
  • add salt
  • add pepper
  • add a bit of water or wine
  • make a tight pouch of the aluminium foil and keep everything in it
  • preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit
  • leave the lobster in the overn for 15 minutes
cheeses, gravlax
  • put in bowl
  • sprinkle basil over
  • done
sauteed bell pepper
  • heat a pan as high as possible
  • add salt and pepper
  • toss very thinly cut bell pepper into it
  • add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • keep tossing till the vinegar is mostly evaporated
  • serve warm or cold, depending on taste
flambe pears
  • get canned pear and slice them thinly
  • add 2 shots barcadi 152
  • add 1 shot cointreau
  • carefully heat it
  • ignite and let it burn
  • keep steering with a spoon to make sure all the alcohol burns down
  • server over vanilla ice cream

Thursday, August 13, 2009

bag addicted,

after cleaning out my closet I realized that I have a lot of bags and nearly everything:

  • shoulder bag for small stuff and camera - used more or less daily
  • 30l day pack for camera stuff - when doing day hikes
  • 90l travel backpack, which I also use as extra heavy hiking backpack
  • 115l duffel bag for traveling - whenever I fly
  • think tank airport, special backpack where all my camera stuff is in and for business travel
and added to the list will be
  • 60l light hiking backpack for the upcoming trips to grand/bryce/antelope canyon
my choice so far is this, since it's really the only one which is really comfortable and you can get on sale for 100-130$ lately, since they released the new model

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

brisket recipe


  • brisket: 6 - 8lbs, fresh or frozen
let it come to room temperature and slightly cut the fat layer into 1/2" x 1/2" squares

dry rub:
  • salt - 3parts
  • pepper - 2 part
  • mustard seeds - 1 part
  • garlic - 2 part
mix it all together and rub deep into the brisket from all 4 sides. Wrap the brisket in serano wrap or fail and lets rest for 12 - 24h in the fridge.

  • 3 cups pear cider
  • 5 TS of lime juice
  • pepper
  • garlic
  • oregano
  • 5 TS of honey (use to much and the sugar burns off!)
  • some pickled ginger
combine everything, seal it and store in fridge for at least 5 hours, better over night.


I prefer to use hickory wood (since it's the only I can find in chunks...) and the minion method. The advantage is you fill up the smoker in the morning with coal, light enough depending on conditions and let it slowly burn down. On average I use 1 chunk of hikory for 2 pounds of meat, so you need 3 - 4 chunks. If you have a water pan fill it with water, to keep it easy.

Let the smoker settle at 225 - 230 degrees Fahrenheit and put the meat on the grate, fat layer on top. The reason for this is that the fat drops throw the meat for the first couple of hours and keeps the meet moist.

After 2 hours mop once an hour and adjust the temperature so it stays in the desired range. Once you reach for hours, flip the brisket once an hour and mop it on the flipped side.

Temperature to reach

sliced meat:

if you want to slice the meat, let it reach an internal temperature of 185 Fahrenheit and wrap it afterward in aluminum full. Once it's wrapped let it rest of an hour or two. Best would be in a cooler, so it keeps the temperature.

pulled meat:

let the meat reach an internal temperature of 200-205 Fahrenheit and take it off the smoker. Let it rest for like 30 minutes, put it into a large dish and use 2 forks to pull it apart.

How long does it take

it needs ca 1 hour a pound at 220 Fahrenheit. But can take up to 2 hours a pound, depending how long the smoke plateau is. This depends on the meat quality.

Why do you have to smoke brisket for such a long time and not just boil it in the pan quick or smoke it at high temperature for an hour or two?

brisket is a very tough cut of meet with a lot of tendons and so collagen. If you just smoke/cook it at higher temperature for 1 - 2 hours you have a very chewy texture with a smokey flavor. A standard mistake.
You want to smoke it for a long time (even if the smoke does not really go into the meat after 2 - 3 hours anymore) to give the collagen time to break down. Your meat plateau is basically the most important phase, because during this time the collagen breaks down and makes the meat nice and tender.
The good thing is that this long smoke time is also the reason that brisket is cheap at 2$ a pound. Since not many people are willing to put up with this.

Monday, August 10, 2009

the last couple of days I spend on REI and configuring my new backpacking equipment list. It all started with YUBA. Why did nobody mentioned to me in 2005 how well contact's work in the middle of nowhere. Guess I have to thank Ashley for making me jump over my own shadow.

And after 5 years my old traveling/hiking backpack is tearing/ripping at a lot of different places and I doubt it survives a lot more trips and I got a good deal of use out of it.

  • 10+ plane trips
  • 4 seasons of snowboarding
  • driving with it all over CA
  • some day hikes
  • snowshoeing
So I think it was worth it to spend the money and the best gear I could afford and will do the same again.

By this standards I put a list of stuff together which I might need. Top of the list is
Now I need to figure out the clothing and cooking part. So far I'm dead set on titanium for cookware/stoves (Expensive, but light and supposed to last forever).
The final goal is to have a 3 - 5 days back setup of 15-20lbs. Which means only the D80 + 35mm F/2 lens and maybe the 90mm F/2.8

Good news is that I already have the tent, mattress pad and sleeping back for this. (8lb's all combined, maybe I do exchange the tend for a lighter version in september which is 3lbs and not 6lbs)

I guess in total I will end up at 1500$ depending on the end of season deals in October.

The one thing I'm unsure about is, If I should do it right and get the best waterfilter on the market or not. Is it worse it to risk an infection/illness to save 150$?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

mhm after I posted my car for sale last night and fixed the vibrations in the skid plate. Well it turns out it wont start anymore and had to get towed from sacramento to davis today.

Otherwise it was a fun day,

- rock climbing
- farmers market
- fancy dinner

Friday, August 07, 2009

while my passat was in the shop for an oil change and an unpleasant surprise I thought what can you do in the 3 hours (oil change 30 minutes, and 150 minutes for them to figure out how to disable my alarm system, after they managed to lock the car...)

So I went to the RockGnasium and took my frst official rock climbing lesson and I have to say it's a lot of fun and a really nice workout.

For dinner we are now making some tuna sashimi and some leftover trout from last night.

today I managed to sell my nikon D200 for 600$ including battery grip, which is an ok price for this camera and I didn't actually loose money on it. I think that's the first time that I bought a camera, used it 10 month and sold it without loosing money. I did the same with the Nikon 17-55mm F/2.8 2 month ago and didn't loose money on it either.

Thanks to the microsoft cash back promotion from the last year. I just wished I would had bought the 85mm F/1.4 at this time. Since I would had made so much money on it :( Well live and learn I guess.

Now my savings account approaches 2000$ which get's me this much closer to a D700 (once they release the D700s) or a jeep wrangler, once I get a visa and save enough money up.

Why a wrangler? I need a car which I can take to Utah and death valley and it get's me everywhere, which has cheap parts and is reliable. The passat can't do it. And when you rent a 4x4 Vehicle they always make you sign the form 'You are not going to take this vehicle offroad and are not insured when offroading', which defeats the purpose.

Now I just need to figure out if I want to sell the Passat or keep it. Since you can't really use the jeep as a daily driver.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

After I resisted buying the sigma DP-1, because of it's speed issues and slow autofocus, I really hoped that the Olympus digital pen provides what I want.

It sounded perfect:

- interchangeable lenses
- comes with a 17mm lens F/2.8 (equals 35mm) (my preferred focal length)
- fits in a pocket
- clean iso 1600+

but like always it works with contrast based focus system which means I'm not going to buy it, since the focus system is to slow.

Why couldn't they use a phase detection system, everything else was perfect...

I will never get a smallish camera which fits into my pocket. I could just go out and buy a 40mm manual focus pan cake, and the D80 fit's in my jacket pocket. But I already got a 35mm F/2 lens I love and don't need another one.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

while being on the roadtrip I also had the chance to snap some quick shots of friends and got some shots of me.

Nothing great, but some are nice.

Since we had not much time we only had a very brief visit to olympic mountain national park. This means we only looked at hurricane ridge and didn't make it to the actual rainforest.

Since it was also really hazy, there was not much what I could do picture wise, but got away with a couple of ok shots.

Long story short, I will go back there at a later point in time with a jeep.

the owl whisperer,

basically there was a school teacher who's part time job/hobby it is to keep track off all the owl's on this island and so we had the chance to see him work, since there were a couple of newborn owl in the backyard.

Baiscally these animals are hard to catch, keep fighting and won't shut up. They also have pretty sharp claws and beaks. So we had to 'rescue' him with band aid.

Sorry for the bad pictures, since I could not use a flash. I was limited to iso 3200 and F/2. I want a D700...

I'm an owl wrap, since I fight back and don't give up. Now where are my mice..

ready to be measured...

you are not supposed to ask a lady about her weight and putting me upside down is not cool...

you can find all the pictures in the Seattle galleria here

the night of saturday we spend at bainbrigde island, which was just gorgeous and beautiful. It finally gave me the chance to capture some macros and we were introduce to an owl whisperer.

day two was to drive to Seattle and to spend the night at bainbridge. And I immediately fell in love with Seattle.

  • lunch at a park
  • visit pikes market
  • walking around a park
  • visiting the museum for asian art -> not my art = boring
  • taking the ferry to bainbridge

Portland was defiantly the most relaxing town of our road trip. Since we spend the complete 1.5 days with

  • looking at head shops, no they don't sell hats as it turned out
  • testing white Russians
  • playing the worst game of pool in the history of portland
  • looking at fancy art in the Portland art museum, my highlight was defiantly the 'tattoo - the art of Portland' Not because of the tattoos, just some of the photographs were stunning.
  • being in one of the largest bookstores ever and promptly buying a book
  • having good food in the morning and excellent coffee
  • buying a tent at REI which we didn't end up using. I'm happy that I bought a cheap one, but will use it soon.
  • attending a comedy show in the evening, which had some excellent parts

the last 5 days I spend with traveling again. This time we conquered another 2 states of the USA, which means I drove now over 33% of the west coast states.

We originally planned to stay a couple of days in Portland, but since I was not to impressed with the city we quickly made a complete road trip out of it and checked out Seattle and Olympic mountain national park

  • thursday: redding,portland
  • friday: portland
  • saturday: seattle,bainbridge island
  • sunday: olympic mountain national park (border to canada)
  • montay: back to davis
in total we drove a bit over 2000 miles and fixie had no major issues, besides running her into a wall (my bumper is not happy) and taking a drift in the gravel, since a semi wanted to drive over me.
Lesson: do not be in the blind spot of a semi, it would had been his fault, but I doubt that a passat is stable enough to survive the impact of a 40+ ton truck