Thursday, July 23, 2009

Culinary Shortcuts - Roast Pork Over Rice

Ever have one of those days when you're too tired to cook but you want to prepare something good for your family that won't break the bank and you want to prep, cook and serve the meal in about 25 to 30 minutes or less? Sound impossible? I know this may sound like cheating, but it's cheating in a good way.

I figured out this recipe more as a hack or shortcut when I worked in a Chinese Restaurant when I was in high school. It was perfected in my college years and days living alone as a bachelor.

The key cooked ingredient (Barbecued Roast Pork aka Char Shu) is a staple in most Chinese Restaurants and is also readily available at Asian Supermarkets that cook and sell prepared chinese food to go. Most Chinese Take Out restaurants will also sell you portions of cooked Roast Pork too. I've used the Roast Pork from Le Asia in San Ramon and 99 Ranch Market in Dublin with great success. You need to order a pound of cooked Roast Pork, usually 6.99 to 7.99 per pound. One Pound of cooked roast pork is plenty for four people as long as you slice it according to the recipe instructions below. Make sure that you order it UN-SLICED. You can freeze the cooked Roast Pork and it will keep at least 3-4 months if frozen. The next step is to cook enough rice for 4 people. An automatic rice cooker should do the trick. It should take no longer than 25 minutes to cook the rice. Usually a cup to a cup and a half of rice is enough to serve four. The last ingredient of this meal is 2 heads of chopped Baby Bok Choy. I've found 4 heads of Baby Bok Choy at 99 Ranch in Dublin for $1.00. After slicing the bok choy into 1 inch pieces, you need to microwave it for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Take a few tablespoons of Lite Soy sauce (Kikkoman's) or Oyster Sauce and spread liberally on the Bok Choy. Take the cooked Roast Pork and place on a sheet of Aluminum Foil and heat it in an oven at 375 degrees. for about 15 minutes. Take the Roast Pork out of the oven and cut using a sharp knife into 1/4 inch thick pieces, then serve piping hot over rice. Add Soy sauce to taste. Serve with the Baby Bok Choy.

There you go. A home-made restaurnant-grade meal prepped cooked and ready to eat in about 25-30 minutes tops. You can make this hearty and delicious meal for four for well under $13.00 for the cost of ingredients alone.

Try it out. I call it the cheater's method to eating good and inexpensively.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why Diesels are Better Than Hybrids

A big debate has been brewing recently over the superiority of Hybrids over Diesels as the preferred way to go "Green" and to save your hard-earned dollars on petroleum. Many of the points made by Hybrid advocates and even the marketing departments of car companies will lead you believe that there is no down-side to owning and driving a Hybrid automobile. I recently drove a Hybrid car from a major auto manufacturer but it was a mid size sedan and this is the 2nd year that model it has been on the market. I was less than impressed with the acceleration, the brake pedal feel and the automatic transmission continually hunting for the right gear when accelerating up a long grade hill. The car did not handle well and the extra weight of the Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries was the culprit. It think that a lot of folks who drive hybrids see the negative handling characteristics of a Hybrid as something that they learn to live with. It is not exactly a safety issue but I can personally attest to you can drive a "Green" car and not give up any of the traditional handling characteristics of a regular gasoline engine automobile. The latest generation of diesel automobiles give nothing up in terms of car handling characteristics and while at the same time providing decent performance and braking capabilities.
Audi R10 TDI Introduction At LeMans

Diesel vs Hybrids Video

Dublin Cyclery - Best East Bay Bicycle Store

Since moving to the Bay Area we've started to bike as a family on a regular basis. Bicycling is one of the best aerobic exercises that does not wreck your knees or feet. We are lucky enough to be living near one of the most beautiful and scenic bicycle paths in the area that is flat and offers terrific views of the fields, land and forested nature preserves. The Bike path is paved, smooth, and free of debris and more importantly is safe. We had to get our bicycles in working order since our move and our bikes really needed adjustments and in some cases minor overhauls with some requiring new brakes, tires, and tubes. After searching the internet for bike stores and repair shops, Dublin Cyclery consistently came up with the most positive customer reviews. I decided to go with them based on those reviews and we are certainly glad that we did as they have really done a SUPER job on our used bicycles and sold us some really nice new HYBRID bicycles (Giant and Marin) at excellent prices. They also gave me a very generous trade in credit on my LL Bean Acadia Hybrid Men's Bicycle.

The entire staff is extremely knowledgeable, courteous and professional and always tries to do the right thing for the customer. Their prices are not the lowest, but it's pretty competitive and their knowledge of these products and their competition puts you at ease immediately. If you are in the market for a Mountain, Road, Hybrid, Folding or Children's bike, these guys will take good care of you as they want your business for life and will do what it takes to make you happy.

The quality of their repair work is some of the best I've seen and the wait is well worth it as you know it will be repaired correctly the first time.

They are a local owned and operated business and have been in business for a very long time serving the Dublin Pleasanton area. Their bicycle selection is pretty extensive and they will let you test-ride the bicycles in their parking lot near a pretty well-known bicycle trail.

I think the best testament to Dublin Cyclery's excellent service is the fact that I have put 100% of my trust in their bicycling judgment when it comes to repairs and recommending the next bicycle purchase for my family. It is rare to come across a local-owned/operated store that takes customer service very seriously. Dublin Cyclery can handle all of your bicycling sales and service needs without breaking the bank. Check them out at:

7001 Dublin Blvd
(at Clark Ave)
Dublin, CA 94568
(925) 828-8676

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New York, New York, A Wonderful Town

We just came back from a 16 Day visit to New York City and I am amazed at how much it has changed since we last visited several years ago. I must say that Mayor Bloomberg and his administration did an outstanding job cleaning up NYC, especially the Times Square Broadway District. I hardly recognize as it has changed so much. All of the New York City streets are safe to walk at night. Every area of the city has gone through an advanced gentrification phase. Neighborhoods that have been positively transformed include the Flatiron district, Hells Kitchen, Lower East Side, Alphabetland, Chinatown, Little Italy. The streets are way more cleaner thatn I remember it, there is a larger Police presence on the streets, and small restaurants and shops are still flourishing. International tourism appears to be on the rise judging from the crowded streets near times square and the hotel elevators. We even checked out Chelsea Piers and the new paved bicycle path that runs up and down the West Side Highway, complete with shrubbery and recently planted trees. New York...The City That Never Sleeps. We miss it a lot and wax nostalgic everytime we are reminded that we cannot get access to a type of food that is served only in New York City. The Hustle and the Bustle, the edginess and the sheer mass of humanity spilling out on all of the city streets during morning and evening rush hours. The lingering smell of Sabrett Hot Dogs, Gray's Papaya, Shiskebob, Sausage and Pepper heros, Knishes and pretzels from push carrt street vendors. It was really nice to get our fix of the favorite local foods. Veniero's Italian Bakery and Manganaro's Hero Boy were big hits with the kids.

Air Travel with the Voyage-Air Folding Acoustic Guitar

I just got back from an extended trip to New York City which happened to be the first air travel trip I took with the Voyage-Air Travel Acoustic Guitar. I have to admit I was a little nervous as I waited to have my Voyage-Air VAOM6 to pass through the San Francisco airport X-RAY machines. Sure enough it passed through with no delays and it was onward to the departure gate. Once we got on board the plane I was able to find on overhead compartment just above my assigned seat in coach and carefully placed the VA Guitar Case horizontally in the overhead compartment. The Overhead Compartment door closed with plenty of room to spare and my anxiety went away as the plane taxied down the runway. I had heard that passengers have paid another seat fare just to get their stringed instrument stowed on board the plane and that checking the instrument in the cargo hold is on sure-fire way to commit instrument suicide and the baggage handlers will almost surely destroy any stringed instrument no matter how tough the carrying case is designed. After we landed in New York's JFK airport I retrieved the Voyage-Air Guitar from the overhead compartment and de-planed as easily as I boarded the aircraft. WOW! How easy was that? No extra baggage charges. Piece of mind knowing that the guitar is safely stowed in a protective case in the overhead storage compartment. No unwieldy heavy case to carry or handle while getting on or off the plane. This was a piece of cake. As easy as bringing a laptop computer on-board a plane. I am ecstatic as I now know that I can travel by plane with my Voyage-Air VAO6 guitar without any hassles and without having to pay the airlines additional fares. I can really see the Voyage-Air guitar paying for itself if one frequently flies and has to pay extra for special baggage handling or to have their instrument stored on board and charged an extra plane fare for the special handling. This is a HUGE advantage that Voyage-Air brings to the table for all amateur and professional guitarists.

I un-folded the guitar as soon as I checked into the hotel and only the B string needed a minor tuning adjustment. I reassembled the guitar and was in tune in about a minute's time. Simply AMAZING.

I just experienced it in real-time and can personally attest to the ease of travel this folding-guitar design and custom guitar case delivers for air travel.

Voyage-Air Guitars Are the Real Deal!!!!!

There you have it. A personal testimonial for the Voyage-Air guitar's AIR TRAVEL WORTHINESS.
This is the real deal. If you are looking for an excellent sounding primary guitar that just happens to fold (also Making it a Travel Guitar) the Voyage-Air is the only game in town.

Check out Voyage-Air Travel Guitars at

Movie Review - The Hurt Locker

I may be getting a little ahead of myself but I'm recommending The Hurt Locker a as a must-see movie for 2009. Go see it! Right now. This movie has OSCAR written all over it.

Kathryn Bigelow has returned to form as one of the best directors working today and The Hurt Locker is a tour-de-force display of her mastery of the craft of film-making. Terse, Taut, riveting action sequences, a terrific story and well drawn characters will have your palms sweating as soon as the title sequences fade off the screen. The characters are very well developed and their interactions drive the movie forward. I do not want to provide any spoilers I can guarantee that you will be thoroughly entertained by this movie and will provoke a lot of questions about what really motivates certain people and how that impacts working peers colleagues and family.

The movie makes a lot of points about the importance of life and how each person's perception of preserving life is frighteningly relative. The Hurt Locker is remarkably apolitical (for a movie set during the current War in Iraq) and stays that way because of it's laser like focus on the incredibly high odds that are stacked against this bomb disposal team and their desire to make ithrough another day without injury.

This is a most visceral and cerebral movie that cleverly leaves politics out of the movie to let the viewer focus on what is going on inside the heads of the bomb-disposal special unit members and how each individually and collectively handles the day-to-day stress of making it through their rotation alive and in one piece. Jeremy Renner plays the replacement Bomb Disposal commander of the 3 person unit and definitely deserves an Oscar for his break-out performance.

The Hurt Locker gets Two Thumbs Up. Highly Recommended.

This movie will definitely shake up you psyche and make you count your blessings and just knowing that you will never have to experience what these guys actually go through on a daily basis. If you think you're having a tough day at the office or work, just think about these guys trying to make it through the day ALIVE without getting maimed or blown up.