October 2009

October 31, 2009

One of the Things I Love About America

The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights (all of them) still give me goosebumps.

A sign saying "This area is set aside in this PUBLIC PARK for groups to express their 1st Amendment Rights."

Posted October 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 26, 2009

How to Cook Perfect Boiled Eggs

Categories: Food and Drink

I love eggs (of course, they go well with bacon). I thought I had the boiled egg recipe down cold, but I ran across this article that really digs into the details of how to make a perfect boiled egg. I love it when people really breakdown the science of what's going on and then to the experimentation to back it up. Worth a read.


Some snippets:


The Temperature Timeline of Boiling an Egg

Now, here's what happens as an egg white cooks:

  • From 30 -140 degrees: As it gets hot, its proteins, which resemble coiled up balls of yarn, slowly start to uncoil.
  • At 140 degrees: Some of these uncoiled proteins—called ovotransferrin—begin to bond with each other, creating a matrix, and turning the egg white milky and jelly-like (like the innermost layers of egg white in the 3-minute egg above).
  • At 155 degrees: The ovotransferrin has formed and opaque solid, though it is still quite soft and moist (see the white of the 5-minute egg).
  • At 180 degrees: The main protein in egg whites—ovalbumen—will cross-link and solidify, giving you a totally firm egg white (see the whites of the 7 and 9 minute eggs). This is very similar to the gunk that seeps out of the surface of overcooked salmon.
  • 180 degrees-plus: The hotter you get the egg, the tighter these proteins bond, and the firmer, drier, and rubbier the egg white becomes (the 11-15 minute eggs). Hydrogen Sulfide, or "rotten-egg" aromas, begin to develop. Ick.


Egg yolks, on the other hand, follow a different set of temperatures:

  • At 145 degrees: They begin to thicken and set up.
  • At 158 degrees: They become totally firm, but are still bright orange and shiny.
  • At 170 degrees: They become pale yellow and start to turn crumbly.
  • 170 degrees-plus: They dry out and turn chalky. The sulfur in the whites rapidly reacts with the iron in the yolks, creating ferrous sulfide, and tinging the yolks.

The five degree temperature difference between when the egg white and the egg yolks firm is what allows chefs at fancy-pants restaurants to serve those "slow-cooked" eggs. They simply place the egg in a 140 degree water bath, wait about 45 minutes (by which point the egg has reached 140 degrees all the way from edge to center), then carefully crack them. The results is a white that is soft and translucent but holds it's shape, and a yolk that is still completely liquid. Beautiful.

So far so good? Is this all going over easy? Now with all this background information dealt with, we can move on to something a little more eggs-citing: perfecting the boil.

Posted October 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 19, 2009

This Photo Brought to You by Quiksilver


Here's a shot of the boys that I like a lot from this weekend.

Michael and Andrew in Quiksilver t-shirts.

Posted October 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Heart BJ

Categories: China

Here's a great t-shirt I saw this weekend (I should have bought one). I mean, who doesn't love Beijing? :)


Posted October 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Bound to an Earlier Time

Categories: China Photos

This weekend, we were out for a walk through some of Beijing's older neighborhoods. I spotted this lovely older woman sitting in the sun and noticed her feet; they're very small, leading me to believe they were bound. Foot binding was a terrible practice in China of breaking and tying girls' feet so they would be very small and shaped in a particular way. It ended in the early part of the 20th century, apparently not soon enough for this woman.

Older Chinese woman sitting on a bench. Her feet were bound.

Posted October 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 18, 2009

Beautiful Drawings of Old Beijing

Michelle and I recently saw these lovely drawings by a talented artist named Kuang Han (况晗). Mr. Kuang captures pencil drawings of the Beijing hutongs, old neighborhoods that are rapidly dwindling in the face of Beijing's growth and modernization. We plan to go back to the gallery and find the perfect one (or ones) to buy. (I especially like the blocky looking drawings like the first one below.)

You can see more here and here.




Posted October 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

October 16, 2009

How Appropriate

Categories: China

Here's what I saw today at home in Beijing when I tried to access the Wikipedia article on internet censorship in China:


Posted October 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 13, 2009

Elephant Riding

Categories: Photos Travel

While we were in Hua Hin, Thailand, we went elephant riding with our friends Kellie and Barbi. After all, we figured it was definitely a unique travel experience. So, with the help of the hotel concierge, we went to the Hutsadin Elephant Hospital for our adventure.

When we first started out, Michael (9) wasn't so sure about the whole thing. He was clinging to Michelle pretty tightly.
Michelle and and an unhappy Michael riding on an elephant.

Andrew (12), by contrast, was much more comfortable with the whole thing and even rode bareback in the driver's seat. I think he looks like Mowgli from The Jungle Book here. (For the record, I also did the "sit bareback on the elephant" thing.)
Kellie and a confident Andrew riding an elephant.

Our drivers (mahouts) took us for a thirty minute loop around their property, which included some hilly terrain and nice views of the beach.
Two elephants walking on a hillside trail over Hua Hin.

Our tour took us past the mahouts' homes.
Thai homes on stilts in Hua Hin.

Michael warmed up to the whole elephant thing and by the end was "chillaxing" (his words).
Michael chillaxing on an elephant as Michelle smiles.

After the ride, the boys gave the elephants a treat (for a small fee, of course).
Andrew feeding a bunch of bananas to an elephant.

The elephants returned the favor with a little hat trick.
A baby elephant putting a straw cowboy hat on Michael's head.

The whole experience was actually pretty cool, even if it was a bit manufactured. The elephants are really big; this seems obvious, but it's different when you're sitting on top. (It was definitely a great reminder than being on top doesn't mean you're in charge.) Their gait has a weird lurching, rolling feel, but they seem very sure footed even going down or side-hill. It was also pretty amazing to see how dexterous they were with their trunks. They were able to even find little bits of pineapple on the floor or accept a one hundred baht note...

The experience was a bit commercial with a push to buy elephant tooth jewelry while you're on the elephant (the boys each now have a necklace...), a photo (which wasn't bad actually), and fruit to feed the elephants (which was fun). The money is ostensibly used to take care of these elephants who they're rescuing from bad situations. It was a lot of fun in any case and ultimately not a lot of money, so we were very happy with the whole thing overall. It was definitely a highlight of the trip and one we're still talking about.

Posted October 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

October 7, 2009

Scenes from the JJ market

Categories: Photos Travel

Our Bangkok friends John and Ann took us to see the the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market, affectionately known as the J.J. Market. You can buy everything from food to pets (not at the same stalls) to clothes to souvenirs to furniture and more. Here are a few snaps I took from this amazing, huge place.

Chatuchak Weekend Market sign in English and Thai.

Wooden statues of a Thai women "wai-ing"

Soda popiscle maker 

Stacked coconuts ready for drinking

Trays of seafood at a food vendor

A shot down a row of shops

Posted October 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 5, 2009

Bing Sighting in Bangkok

Categories: Photos Travel

Thai billboard advertising a drink called B-ing.

Posted October 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 3, 2009

Nine Things You Can't Do in a Bangkok Taxi

Categories: Photos Travel

Here's a set of stickers in the window of my cab in Bangkok this evening. I guess there's a lot of things they don't want you to do. I'm sad to report I did none of these (although I'm not sure what the bull skull one is.)

bkktaxi1 bkktaxi2 bkktaxi3

Posted October 3, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)