Monday, January 31, 2011

the power of paper -

less is sometimes more. Whenever I get stuck with a programming issues. I tend to leave the office, find a coffee store and a bunch of paper. And start drawing the problem to get to the mathematical solution first instead of keep trying to work on the algorithm.

What does this mean to be precise?

I spend the last 2 days, writing hierarchical and tree layout algorithm in javascript (don't ask why...) and for the love of it could not avoid the collisions I keep getting.
So I went to mishkas and 20 minutes later I had a single elegant formula to describe the relation of parent and child elements on the horizontal axis in my tree, without any collisions so far.

now I just have to adapt this formula to work with complex graphs, but the implementation took all of 5 minutes and the result is:

terrific! Sometimes less really is more.

giving things up month 1 review -

so besides having the business related dinners in berkley and 3 'emergency' dine out in january I managed to avoid dinning out and cooked a lot at home instead.

The balance of my checking count at the end: +500$

Sunday, January 30, 2011

berkley again -

after being in berkley for the consulting gig I just had to go there again on saturday to pickup some of there IPAX and grab another burger.

Sadly it was to wet and cold togo for the beach, but a couple of fun rounds of carcasonne made for than up for this.

I guess this has to become a monthly trip now. There is also this tiny french restaurant in SF, I haven't been there in a long time and it's calling my name again...

Which one?

this one

sure it's a bit pricey, but you only live ones after all.

Friday, January 28, 2011

pork chops -

tonight was another night to cook some tasty and this time really expensive food. My coworker Angie and I made some couscous stuffed pork-chops, which were plain amazing and rather simple.

Sadly we went to nuggets and so ended up paying 50$ for this meal, which translates to 4 servings. A touch pricey and I really need to stop cooking that much.

pork-chops - rather tasty

Thursday, January 27, 2011

a manly day, here at our place.

So we decided to fixup the cars and to get rid of some of the leakage issues with the benz and the pathfinder.

pathfinder to the left, 72 benz to the right

The first task of the day was to tackle the leaking gas tank on the benz and to replace some connectors. Needless to say we had to drive 3 times to the store to finally get the right part for this job and to drain as much gas as possible. Since the lowest gas pickup was leaking.
The actual work was rather simple and only involved removing a couple of clamps, putting a new hose over the leaking fuel-line and getting the fuel-line back into the gas tank.

Now the pathfinder:

  • check differential fluid
  • check transmission fluid
  • do oilchange

the oilfilter, nissan what were you thinking
 Now after I have done 2 oil changes on this car I'm still frustrated that the oil filter is in a position, where is splatters oil all over the lower car body during the replacement. Wasn't there a better way to place it?

getting the car level
 To check the transmission fluid, the car needs to be perfectly level...

jack stands to the rescue
Looks scary? Not at all, the car is actually supported by the jack stands left and right and not by the jack in the middle. I only put the wood below the differential to distribute the weight over a larger surface while jacking it up.
So mum no reason to get nervous! The jack stands are rated at 4 Ton's and the car is 1.8 tons.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

drip, drip, drip...

during the oil change today I discovered that the rear differential plug is leaking ever so slightly (not the big deal) and that the transmission plug is leaking to.

Now I need to get the car even again to figure out how severe the leak is and if I need to refill the transmission. I guess I need to check this all 5k miles now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

berkley - breaking my resolution -

Currently I'm out in Berkley for some consulting work and so have no real chance to not eat out. I have no kitchen in this hotel room or even basic utensils.

Instead I have very strange looking lamps here

and the food is neither tasty or cheap. 24$ for a cheeseburger with some water is a touch much for my taste...

I think next night I'm going to a pub close by and rather dine there.

Monday, January 17, 2011

filet mignon on a bed of shallots with mushroom/pear mashed potatoes -

after I went this morning for a relaxing walk down the Davis Arboretum and wishing that the weather would improve and not be that cold anymore. I actually really like this walk and should do it more often, maybe I even get lucky and they will finish the repairs at the north pond soon.

a cold foggy davis morning
 I decided that I want to treat me to a nice lunch, before working on my talk. So while being at trader Joes, I realized that filet mignon was on sale and I hadn't had this in quite a long time.

So I think let's give this a quick try, just to remember 5 minutes into slicing shallots, how much I dislike doing this. They are just to tiny and you need to work a lot for a subtle improve in flavor compared to red onions.

a lot of shallot's need to be sliced for this dish
The second thing I forgot is that this dish is a multi step procedure and requires a lot of different pans. I really haven't done it in a long time and think I won't do it anytime soon again. There are other dishes to be made!

filet's getting seared in the pan
The shallots are on the other hand incredible easy to make. You just put them into a roasting dish and cover them with a bit melted butter. While the steaks are roasting, they release some juices which soak into the shallots.

ready to go into the oven
The end result was like always incredible tasty and it only took 45 minutes to prepare and about 4 minutes to eat and now I'm thinking what to make as desert.

the dish before it magically disappears.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday morning - taking a break and sorting pictures...

So this morning I finally managed to get a minute and sort all my travel pictures, which I have online and I have to say. It turned out that I was in a lot of different locations in the last couple of years. But I wish I would had travelled a bit more and not so often to the same places.

The pictures can be found here

I think I need to spend the next couple of weekends and rediscover some places, where I have no pictures of for some reason.

  • ave of the giants in eureka
  • joshua tree national park (won't happen for a LONG time)
  • lassen national park
Maybe I need to sort the 40k pictures I have on my harddrive next. Do I really want todo this?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

realization: 1

I bought the pathfinder 2 months ago and just reached 5k miles on it and need todo an oilchange. I think I drive too much..

realization: 2

since buying the pathfinder I only use the motorcycle, when it's 60F+ and not raining, hence I put barley 300 miles on it in the last 2 months...

Crepes + Espresso == Saturday

7 am, like every saturday morning I like to start the morning with something tasty and simple to eat. So after considering the fact that I didn't had crepes for a long long time I decided to make some for breakfast. Obviously knowing me this meant I had to take another nap to make sure that this is a good idea.

2 hours later, I finally manage to get out of bed and running/stumbling down to the kitchen to be challenged with the eternal question. Do I actually have everything I need in the pantry. Or did the roommates beat me to the flour and eggs again.

I turned out I only had to 'steal' a lemon from my roommates stash and returned it 2 minutes later without it's zest. I think this is just a minor crime? After all I know I had a lemon somewhere in the fridge.

After combining all the standard ingredients,

I got painfully reminded that a roommate in the past highjacked my kitchen aid hand mixer and so I had to bring out the whisk again...

I swear the day I get a permanent visa I am going to buy a 500$ kitchen aid artisan mixer and call it a day.

now the final product with a nice shot of espresso was rather tasty and a good start into a saturday filled with work. I really need to write the talk for my berkley visit now.

Thank you mum and dad for the espresso machine, it really enriches every morning of my live.

p.s. yes I shared the crepes with one of the roommates.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

rack of lamb - with asparagus and potato wedges

at christmas 2009 I got a wonderful little book as christmas gift and I have been using it since them all the time and cooked nearly every dish out of it. Still working on the deserts, since I'm not huge on eating deserts.

Of all these wonderful dishes my favorite is still rack of lamb with mint sauce and since my snowboarding vacation today was cut short, thanks to rain. I had the chance to prepare this dish instead.

Step one, prepare all the ingredients

freshly minced mint, thanks to having a 12" chefs knife

 and the finished product looked like this and was rather tasty

I think I made this dish now 5 or 6 times and love it every time more. By now I figured out the perfect temperature for the meat is around 137F

Thursday, January 06, 2011

grav lax - the finishing

this morning I happily awoke at 5.30 am to finish up the grav lax experiment and to make sure that I eat than and have a 12h contamination period, before I serve it guests.

So after 36h of waiting I took the salmon out of the fridge and it looked rather 'flat' and red. Maybe related to the 20 lbs of weights sitting on it?

than I went to honing my trusty slicer and filet knife, only to realize they are way to dull to make decent salmon cuts. Don't get me wrong there are really sharp, but the blade is just to thick to efficiently cut the salmon in a nice and proper way.

and this turned out to be my breakfast and finished product.

now the big question is, is it feasible todo this at home?

Well it is incredible tasty and I ended up with 2lbs of salmon after cutting. Which would cost around 120$ in the store. So yes it's much cheaper. Specially if I go with atlantic salmon next time, which cost about 8-9$ the pound instead of wild sockeye salmon which runs around 15$ the pound.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


since I decided to not eat out this month, I have to cook more myself. Not that this is going to be much cheaper in anyway. But definitely tasty.

So this night I decided to provide the roommates with some good old roasted tenderloin. Which is a rather simple and so tasty dish.

As sides we had garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed bell peppers.

the onions are chopped, and being sauteed with balsamic vinegar and some brown sugar.

the next step is to cover the tenderloin with the now sweet onions and let it sit in the oven for the next 45 minutes.

which turned into this rather tasty dish.

and tomorrow night it's pizza time.

I really need to work on my food photography. All the pictures are a touch blurry. But tasty food was tonight more important, than correct lighting.

I do have to say with these colors, I should had used more red bell pepper and not 50/50 red and yellow. It would had improved the presentation quite a bit.


About 3 years ago my parents gave me a cookbook for christmas, which contained a couple of rather delicious dishes. Like gravlax. Sadly I was always to scared to actually try to make this dish. Fish poisoning and so on.

Well today I finally managed to get to it and make this dish. After all I have about 4-6 times sushi a month and so it should be not that difficult.

After searching for a couple of days I bought previously frozen salmon from the local speciality store, aka nuggets for an astonishing 50$. I used to buy whole salmons for 20$ a couple years back...

This nettoed me 2 filets with 3lbs in total. A touch pricey, but than they sell gravlax for 10$ a 1/4 lbs. So I should come out ahead and have the satisfaction of making it myself.

Preparing it for it's destiny, yes we still have our christmas tree in the kitchen!

Also this dish required the following tools:

  • espresso machine, to provide me with a coffee to wake up
  • laptop with recipes
  • book to crosscheck and see differences
  • random onions, which have nothing todo with this recipe. They are for the tenderloin, which we gonna have later tonight...
  • mini scale, because I fail at using tablespoons and cups
  • sun glases, for no special reasons

anyway here is the salmon awaiting it's tasty fate:

after added the salt/pepper/sugar mixture, the dill and putting the second filet on top. It turned out that they sold me two left ones, which makes it rather uneven...

after trimming of excess dill and wrapping it into plastic foil to keep the juices in

we are ready to put this into the fridge and defend it for the next 48h from curious roommates and so.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

being a copycat or, giving things up.

Last year my friend Keith decided to give certain things in live up for one month at a time. And I was always interested in doing this my self.

So let's start this project for the next 12 month and each month we give something else up.


dining out. Basically I will only eat at home or invite myself over to friends. But won't eat out in restaurants or eat delivered food.

modification to the rule: If friend invite me out for dinner, this is totally acceptable.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

new years resolutions
  • no soda, except in long drinks
  • reduce cost of living by 20%
  • less chocolate...
this should be more than enough for this year. After all we don't want to overdo it.