Monday, March 12, 2012

Chirish Eats

Tonight we attended a fun, fascinating Science Cafe about epigentics, put on by the Pacific Science Center and held at the Wilde Rover Pub. Boxty, beer, and biology - you can't beat that, really! 

In celebration of the upcoming St. Patrick's Day, here's a recipe for what we call kong-cannon.

Kong-cannon is part of a balanced meal. Here, it accompanies veggie meatloaf and some unidentifiable purple/green stuff. 

This is a colcannon (Irish potato, cabbage, and scallion skillet) recipe from Nava Atlas' Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet, altered for the Chinglish (Chinese and English family) household. We typically serve this with veggie sausages (Field Roast apple sage is our favorite - according to Field Roast's marketing material, they're a "blend of English and Asian heritage", whatever that means) and beer (your choice - British or Chinese beer).

4-6 servings

  • 4 large potatoes (Alan, the English half of the Chinglish household, thinks there should be more potatoes in this recipe)
  • 1.5 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 2.5 cups of chopped Napa cabbage
  • 5 Shiitake mushrooms (optional)
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
  • 1 handful of chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup milk or soymilk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Bake, boil, or microwave the potatoes in their skins until done. When cool enough to handle, peel, and coarsely mash.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the cabbage and saute, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally until limp. Add scallions and mushrooms and saute, uncovered for about 4 more minutes. If the skillet becomes dry, add small amounts of water as needed.
  3. Add the potatoes, cilantro, and milk, stir everything together, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook without stirring until the bottom of the potato mixture gets nicely browned. Fluff with a wooden spoon, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Safari in Sandusky

Jen and I attended a software development conference recently, and it was a wonderful combination of techno-geekery, education, and fun!

The conference is called CodeMash and was started by developers who were jealous of the developers on the coasts who have lots of conferences to attend in San Francisco, LA, Seattle, New York, Boston etc. They then decided to make their own that was central for developers in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh etc.

The organizers wanted to keep the cost as low as possible but needed a large hotel and meeting rooms. They found the perfect location in the Kalahari Resort waterpark and kept the costs low by having the event in January. Yes, a water park, in Ohio, in January!

Everything was African themed in a delightfully tacky way - from the decorations and furniture in the rooms to the huge poster hanging on the apartment complex next to the hotel.
The conference was very well-organized, and the sessions covered a great range of software development topics. I suppose this conference is not to everyone's taste but we thoroughly enjoyed it by cramming in as much info as we could and attending the parties as well.

You can tell that it is Sub-Saharan Africa by the elephants and 2 inches of snow on the ground.

The bar was full of "exotic" animals, and the food had a flavor that might be fusion cuisine (a fusion of African and Midwest America; mostly Midwestern meat and potatoes, to be honest).

Highly recommended to anyone who wants to hang out with 1200 software engineers in their bathing costumes!

Some highlights of the conference:

The other photos can be viewed by following this link.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Planes, Trains & Automobiles... Camels & Elephants, Too!

After experiencing the lovely variety of transport methods in Asia, driving a car in the USA just won’t be the same.

After our long flight to Kathmandu, Nepal, we walked a little to get the circulation back in our legs.
Alan on the first day of a 23-day, 250+ km trek around the Annapurna massif and into Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal.
The public bus system rivals that of Orange County, California.
Bus on a Nepali road.
We got front row seats on the flight.
Paragliding above Sarangkot, Pokhara, Nepal.
The comfortable taxis are delightfully decorated.
No seatbelts on this scary ride , but we've got Avril Lavigne.
The boats got us where we needed to be.
Dawn boat ride in Varanasi, India.
Elephants and camels yield surprisingly great grass mileage.
Alan and Charlie Camel riding into the sunset near Jaisalmer, India.
Even Jennifer would be able to drive a tuk-tuk.
Riding an auto rickshaw in Jaipur, India.
Jennifer survived her first-ever tandem bike ride with Alan.
Alan and Jennifer's first and last tandem bicycle ride (on the Xi'an city walls).
The trains were well-equipped with anything a passenger might fancy.
Beijing-Lhasa high-altitude train outfitted with oxygen outlets at each seat.
We got some decent scenery on our drive back into Nepal.
The Land Cruiser in front of Everest and its siblings. Our Tibetan driver was fearless on the icy roads.
Many thanks to our amazing, death-defying { paraglider, bus, taxi, elephant, camel, train, boat, tuk-tuk, Land Cruiser } drivers that got us safely back!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blending In

No one wants to look like an obvious tourist, so here are some examples of how to blend in with the local people and not stand out as a foreigner. We employed the techniques below with varying degrees of success (varying from "none" to "laughably poor").

Jen helps a local wash an elephant. (Chitwan National Park, Nepal)
Learn the correct eating customs and adapt to local "furniture". (Sauraha, Nepal)
Keep up with new fashion trends / deadly outbreaks. (Swayambhunath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal)

Be polite and wave to the masses. (Amber Fort, Jaipur, India)
Befriend people with common interests. This lass had never heard of Orange County, CA even though she was wearing a shirt from there. (Sauraha, Nepal)
If farmers need help, pitch in like a villager. (Sauraha, India)
Don't worry if the shops don't have quite the right sizes. (Jama Masjid, Delhi, India)
Alan shows correct dress sense at the Golden Temple. (Amritsar, India)
Don't freak out if the restaurant is a little "different". (Golden Temple, Amritsar, India)
If the weather is hot, wear a hat like everyone else. (Jodhpur, India)

Other headgear choices allowed us to travel incognito in China. (Jinshanling, China)

Finally, Jen demonstrates how to not blend in by eating at McDonalds in Jodhpur, India.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Back in the USA

We are back safely in the USA after an amazing 4 ½ months.

Clearly our plan of blogging regularly while on the trip failed badly once we reached The Great Firewall of China. It took much more effort and time than we thought it would and Jennifer was horrified that some of the Internet Cafes in the developing world were not running Windows 7 or multicore hardware ;)
Anyway, we have started going through the 4000 photos we took and should be posting regularly within a day or two.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Pink City

The city of Jaipur is called 'The Pink City' because some past ruler of the town decreed that all buildings within the old city must be painted pink. And you thought your landlord / HOA restrictions were harsh?

We had a laundry list of things to see and do (aside from laundry).

The main attraction for us was Amber Fort, pronounced Am-beer. The fort's size is staggering considering its age. Like most similar places around the world, it was built in stages. Then after several hundred years of construction the owner decided that he liked the location a few miles down the valley, and the new city was built while Amber was left in ruins. Thanks to tourist dollars, it has been restored. We spent hours exploring the rooms, corridors, and courtyards.

Amber Fort
I think our rickshaw driver, who waited patiently in the mid-day sun for us, was cursing himself for agreeing to a "no-waiting charges" deal. Alan is such a shrewd negotiator knowing that Jen tours museums at about half the speed of a normal tourist. That poor driver earned every Rupee today.

We also spent several hours in the Observatory Park that has giant structures created to measure the angles of stars and our Sun and a full set of 12 astrological instruments that are used depending on which zodiac sign is in play.
Astronomy device for measuring position of stars
Huge sundial, accurate to 2 seconds!

The City Palace had a few objects of interest. The most memorable are two vast silver water containers that were used on a trip to England by the head of state. He carried Ganges water all the way to London so that he could wash in it every day to stay clean. Remember from our Varanasi post that the Ganges is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, and you might be as baffled as we were as to why anyone would transport even a small vase of it anywhere else, let alone 40,000 gallons in two silver vats.

The food in Jaipur was exceptional, though we stayed away from the street vendors and went to only restaurants we found in our bible: The Lonely Planet. Alan hasn't eaten this much curry since his student days in London's suburbs. Unfortunately, samosas are nowhere to be found in the restaurants we deemed safe to eat at. The waiter laughed at us and called it street food when we asked for them. Oops. We haven't been able to conjure up the courage to eat from the street vendors yet.


After the ride to the border which involved 5 hours sitting on a sweltering bus that had been advertised as air conditioned, we decided that the train was the comfortable, safe way to travel.
The photos you may have seen of overcrowding on the trains do not apply if you pay a little extra for "AC" class.
Thankfully this was not our train
 It was a little difficult for Jennifer to sleep but Alan had no problem catching some zzzz's. This will be our preferred method of transit from now on.
Trying to figure out the timetable book on board a sleeper train