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JAN

18

2017

i woke up early this morning. i actually got up to use the bathroom, but then couldn't go back to sleep, so i got out of bed at 7am. being out of work for so long got me a little stressed and i went online briefly to look at some job sites. 5 hours later i had lunch, just a cup of chobani greek yogurt (blueberry).

i'd plans of doing some home maintenance work (going to home depot to get some clear caulk) but what i didn't anticipate was the rainy weather we'd be having today, an all day freezing rain event. that meant i wasn't going anywhere today but staying put at home. the patriots gave a pre-AFC championship game news conference, that was broadcasted as breaking news by the local channels.

maybe there's something about january winters that makes me yearn for tea eggs. i made tea eggs almost a year ago exactly. i was inspired to make them because i found an old box of tea egg spices in my cupboard. it box wasn't dated, but judging by where i found it, i wouldn't be surprised if it was more than a decade old. never being one to throw anything perishable away if i think it's still good, i decided to use it. i bought 18 brown eggs from market basket yesterday, and added 2 more from the eggs already in my fridge to make 20 - just enough for all of them to sit at the bottom of my largest pot.

tea eggs(20)

20 brown eggs (or white)
tea egg flavor packets
4 black tea teabags
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp salt
handful of sichuan peppercorns

i followed the exact same steps from last time: boil the eggs in cold on high heat with a tsp of salt. the water came to a boil much faster this time around (maybe because i had less water), and after a few minutes of boiling, i took the eggs out so i could run them under cold water in the sink and crack them with the back of a spoon, all the while i turned the pot of boiling water down to medium-low heat and added the flavor packets. the box came with one packet of tea, one packet of spices (clove, anise, cinnamon), and a small packet of salt and pepper for dipping.

after the eggs were cracked, i added them back to the pot, along with 4 additional black tea teabags (for extra tea flavor), a handful of old sichuan peppercorns, and 3 tbsp of salt. the amount of salt is a contentious subject: on the box it said only to add 1 tsp, while i added 1 tsp + 3 tbsp. also i did the math wrong, and if i used 4 tbsp for 30 eggs last time, i should only be using 2.7 tbsp this time.

after simmering the eggs for an hour, i turned off the stove and let them steep for 24 hours. i noticed there was an oily film on top of the liquid. this could be a byproduct of using old spices. i don't believe it affects the flavor but i won't know until i try one of the eggs tomorrow.

i finished watching the entire first season of the young pope (10 episodes). even after finishing, i still can't tell you what it's about. apparently the pope is legitimate after all, perhaps even an actual saint, with several feats of miracle. the show is so strange and beautiful, with interesting characters, i keep on watching even though i have no idea what's going on.

for dinner i heated up some leftover beef stew combined with some rotini pasta. later in the evening my upstairs neighbors were blasting their music/tv sound again. i passive-aggressively found a long loop of annoying high-pitch sounds on youtube and played it from a speaker attached to my phone on full blast from a torchiere lamp. i then went around the house cleaning with wearing earplugs, fantasizing about calling steve and paul downstairs so they can hear the noise for themselves. the annoyance is typically brief, anywhere from 1-3 hours, but it was never like this before, and i get the feeling they don't really know how loud it is.

after a lunch of sauerkraut chicken sausage and scrambled eggs, i biked down to market basket to get some ingredients for making beef stew. the place was surprisingly empty, considering that we have a major storm heading our way later tonight. although it will be snow and ice and many places, the areas along the coastline including boston will just receive rain.

beef stew(4 qt. crock pot)

2 lbs. NY sirloin steak
2 russet potatoes
1 onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups frozen vegetables
1 can beef broth
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup of flour
salt/pepper to taste

there's nothing particularly hard about beef stew, just gather the ingredients and throw them into the crockpot. i wanted to get some roasting beef, but there was a sale on sirloin ($2.99/lbs.) so that was actually cheaper, therefore i got that instead. i chopped the beef into cubes, sprinkled salt and ground pepper over them, and tried to sear them before adding to the crockpot. apparently my frying pan wasn't hot enough because i mostly browned them, and only really seared the final batch. my house did smell like a savory barbecue joint afterwards.

i was also prepared to make a heavy cassava cake (with the 3 lbs. yuca i bought from haymarket many weeks ago), but i wasn't happy with the coconut milk selection at market basket, so i will hold until i can get better coconut milk.

my father dropped by in the afternoon to pick up my 4 jars of kimchi. i slow-cooked the stew from 2pm to 8pm. around 7pm i mixed some flour with half a cup of broth to make a thickening gravy that i added to the stew. i also cooked up a cup of rotini.

the final stew was okay, but nothing spectacular. maybe i didn't add enough salt, but i try not to add too much when i cook for myself. the beef on top of the stew were a little dry and chewy, but the beef submerged in the broth were very tender. i got russet potatoes but they didn't really break down in the slow cooker. maybe next time i have to boil them first separately before adding to the stew. if nothing else, it was a very hearty meal, with chunks of beef, potatoes, and pasta.

while standing in the kitchen i discovered a major source of draft inside my house: the gap below the baseboards on the eastern side of the kitchen. i measured it with m temperature gun, in the worst areas there's as much as a 10° difference. tomorrow's project will be to get some clear caulk and fill in the gaps.

i went to the cafe in the mid-afternoon to do more winterization stuff on my motorcycle in the tool shed. only my father was there, my mother having left with her friend nancy and my sister's godmother on a walk to fresh pond plaza and back. the 3 things i needed to do for the bike was 1) oil the chain, 2) run the engine to use up the gasoline left in the carburetor, and 3) remove the battery (so it can be maintenance-charged indoors). temperature was in the lower 40's today so it wasn't that cold, but holding the metal can of spray grease froze my fingers after a while, and my nose was running the whole time. after i finished i reassembled everything and put the cover on. with the way the weather's been so warm this winter, there's a good chance i could have the motorcycle back out on the road by march.

back at the cafe, i installed a memory card into the webcam, so it can record video on a schedule. little use of a security camera if it can't record. the 64GB microSDXC card arrived yesterday. i formatted it to FAT32 so the foscam camera can read it. it used to have a memory card but i took it for some other use. i found an unused fido jar in the cafe basement, took it back with me so i can make sichuan paocai with it. i helped my father fill out some medical assistance form for my grand uncle. this way the city pays us to take care of him. finally, before i left, i ordered online 2x 6" sweet onion chicken teriyaki sub from subway. monday is chicken teriyaki day, so each is only $3.50. i went to go pick it up from the somerville avenue store before returning home.

by that point it was already 4pm and i was eating something for the first time today. i ate half (6"), saving the rest for later. it was pretty good, not bad for just $3.50. of course i still remember the days of the $5 foot-long. now their cheapest foot-long sub is their $6 steak and cheese special (maybe i'll get that for tomorrow).

temperature plays a strong part in fermentation. whenever the heat in my house goes from 60°F to 70°F, both my curtido and sauerkraut go crazy. when i woke up this morning, cabbage juice had leaked into my curtido airlock. the bell in the sauerkraut airlock was floating to the top, when typically there's no activity in sauerkraut jar. i repeatedly tapped the curtido jar on the tabletop to get the air to escape upwards and for the liquid level to go back down. in the evening when i turned up my heat again, both the curtido and sauerkraut were fermenting again. this time liquid had actually spilled out of the curtido jar. i'm really tempted to just open the jar and put all the solids back down, but i don't want to risk contamination. the fermentation will slow down eventually after the first few days of heavy activity. i just don't want any of the liquids to leak out. maybe if i had more head clearance, say if i fermented in a large fido jar (apparently they off-gas despite the rubber gasket seal).

later in the evening i finished off that second chicken teriyaki sub. i discovered last night that the young pope had already been broadcasted in europe. this meant all the episodes were already available online, so i went ahead and grabbed all 10 episodes. one thing i began to notice while watching the show was the parallel between the young pope and our soon-to-be-president donald trump, both men seemingly unqualified for the job at hand, both mercurial narcissists.

i am concerned about the rising brine level in my 2 quart curtido jar. i thought i had plenty of head room, but overnight, the cabbage juice has come up to the neck of the jar. there's about another centimeter of space before it hits the airlock spout. all this liquid is a good thing because i was worried that there wasn't enough fluid coverage and that my cabbage leaf block would eventually get moldy. but now it seems i have too much. i wonder if i should open the jar and press the solids back down, maybe letting some of that trapped carbon dioxide escape. but as a rule, never open the fermenting jar, especially in the first few days, and it's only day 2.

as my trek utility bike is currently in the shop (my kitchen) awaiting final repairs, i rode my fast fuji to belmont. temperature was in the upper 30's, with the usual dearth of sunday traffic. my mother fried up some peking ravioli for lunch. i brought a small pint jar of kimchi for my mother to try. she thought it was pretty good, not too salty, not too sour. "i could eat the whole jar in one sitting," she said. if there was anything i could improve, maybe there was too much ginger, add more garlic next time, and process them even more into a paste.

i was in the backyard refilling the globe seed feeder and attaching the hard faucet cover i bought yesterday from the everett home depot.

i'm disappointed to report that the 2nd stepper motor i bought to fix the broken foscam web camera did not work either. it looks similar, but still different. for one thing, the connectors still don't match. the wire bundles are also slightly shorter in the new motor (i don't think it'd matter though). and finally, the spinning axle is longer on the new motor. at this point i've pretty much given up on trying to fix the foscam. it still works, but as a stationary web cam, since it can't pan left-right (but can still tilt up-down). maybe one day i might come across a free broken foscam and scrounge out the stepper motor for replacement part. i ended up reassembling the camera so at the very least it can be used.

i screened two episode of emerald city for my mother, with english and traditional chinese subtitles. i also replayed the first episode of taboo now that i have chinese subtitles for that episode as well.

the whole day was waiting for the start of the packers-cowboys game at 4:30pm. as my father came home early, we had an early dinner as well. i left at the start of the 2nd half, figuring green bay was going to win the game since they were so dominant. when i got home the packers were up by 2 touchdowns. the game got exciting in the final minutes however, when dallas came back to tie the game. the two teams traded field goal kicks until green bay made the last kick to win the game, 34-31.

the packers-cowboys game was followed immediately by the steelers-chiefs game. that turn out to be a close game as well, as the two teams battled. i don't think pittsburgh even had a touchdown the entire game. steelers won, 18-16, to face the patriots next sunday.

the brine level in the curtido jar continued to rise, now above the neck. there's about half a centimeter of space before it reached the spout now. i tried shaking the jar in the hopes of dislodging any trapped gases, maybe it helped a little, but overflow may be imminent. that's why this morning i already put the jar in a dish just in case. before i went to bed, the brine level was even higher, almost touching the spout by now. i managed to lower the level a bit but tapping the bottom of the jar to force the bubbles to escape to the surface.

i watched the HBO premiere of the young pope from bed before going to sleep. i don't know if the series is any good, but it's definitely mesmerising in its beauty and performance.

i didn't have anything planned for today, so i was looking forward to a deep sleep. but my mother called this morning, asked me if i wanted to go to dim sum. actually, my sister wanted to go, and my mother asked if i wanted to come along. i suggested dim sum in malden, which was where we originally wanted to go the last time we went but decided on chinatown. malden had the added avantage of being next to the everett michael's at the gateway center, where my mother wanted to go afterwards to look for yarn. she said my sister was ready to go immediately, but said they could swing by around 11am. i said 10:30am since i didn't need that much time to get ready, plus getting to the dim sum earlier would avoid the weekend crowd.

so much for early: my sister didn't arrive until 10:45am. the dim sum place we were going was ming's seafood restaurant, not the first place you'd think of for weekend dim sum. we at malden center arrived at 11:08am. it was still early enough that there were plenty of 1-hour curbside parking (later we spotted a municipal parking lot as well). it was already crowded by the time we arrived at ming's, with more people milling about in the waiting area. the attendant handing out numbers asked us if we wanted to share a table but we decided to wait for our own table. the wait wasn't very long, less than 10 minutes. my sister left briefly to move her car (she was nervous that it wasn't parked close enough to the curb) while my mother and i got seated at a table in an alcove area next to the kitchen.

right from the start it seemed like my sister was going to order everything see saw. that made me a little bit annoyed, because 1) she could learn to eat a bit less, 2) my sister wasn't going to any of it, and 3) it was impossible for her to finish it all. when i made a comment about it, she sniped back, saying why can't she enjoy dim sum in peace. i didn't eat for the first 15 minutes, waiting for my cart to arrive, the one that had chicken feet and tripe, which are my favorite dim sum dishes. i sipped my hot chrysanthemum tea and people watched. the place was almost entirely chinese, a mix of true cantonese and mainland china. the few non-chinese faces i saw were in chinese groups. malden dim sum is a little off the radar and probably not as accessible or famous as chinatown, but judging from the crowd-size, business was still very good. we probably arrived right before the noontime crowd, as i watched the waiting area swell with people waiting for available tables.

the first thing i tried was the chashaobao (cantonese cha siu bao 叉烧包). it was okay, but i thought the bun itself was a little dry, and the pork filling didn't have that characteristic red coloring. as for the chicken feet, the skin and cartilage wasn't as falling-off-the-bone as the ones in chinatown. and the tripe smelled a little bleachy, weren't as tender or flavor as chinatown dim sum tripe. the dou hua tang was not as sweet, and had a noticeable sourness to it. the xiao long bao was very small, with the filling being too big to be bit-size.

the few good things i can say about ming's is it's more convenient if you live around the area, easier (and cheaper) to find parking in malden center versus boston. the ambience is much better here, cleaner brighter classier, not as dingy as those chinatown dim sum places. also doesn't stink like it does in chinatown, where your clothes are saturated with oil smells that you need to launder when you get home. the chrysanthemum tea was very good, it seems like they had a whole cup of flowers in the teapot. all and all, it was okay dim sum, not the best, but passable. there are also a few other dim sum places in malden, maybe we could try those if we ever return here for dim sum.

from malden center we headed to the gateway center. just like at the cambridge store, the everett michael's didn't carry any fishermen's wool yarn either. my mother but some other yarns instead (i printed out some 60% off coupons). my sister - who has to buy something anytime she's in a store - got some valentine decorations. while my sister pulled up to the nearby home depot, my mother and i went next door to bath & body works, where they were having a clearance sale on holiday-scented products. afterwards i walked down to home depot while my mother went to old navy. i got a hard faucet cover ($2.99) for the outdoor faucet in my parents' backyard.

i finally returned home by 2:30pm. as this was NFL conference semifinals weekend, i eagerly awaited the 2 games that were in store for today: seahawks-falcons then texans-patriots. i only half-heartedly watched the seattle-atlanta game, but i was rooting against the seahawks. i've never really watched the falcons before, and they're a pretty good team. the final score was 36-20, atlanta spanked seattle, the look on russell wilson's face looked like he was shellshocked from a war battle.

the houston-new england game later in the evening was the main event. i cooked up some french bread pizza and watched the game. for a team so heavily favored, the patriots did not play well in the first half. new england got a quick pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, but didn't score again a field goal close to the end of the half. meanwhile the texans came back and got within 1-point of tying the patriots at 14-13. brady was intercepted twice (although osweiler was intercepted 3 times). pats won in the end, 34-16, but the texans put up a fight, and gave new england a scare, and it wasn't until late in the game that the fans felt safe enough to finally exhale.

i went to market basket in the early afternoon to buy some ingredients for making el salvadorian curtido, my next fermenting project.

el salvador curtido(2 qt. jar)

2.9 lbs. green cabbage
0.56 lbs. carrots, grated
0.67 lbs. onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2.5 tbsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
8 thai chili peppers, chopped

curtido is made very much in sauerkraut, with the additional ingredients of chopped onions, garlic, hot peppers and shredded carrots. authentic curtido calls for jalapeño peppers but i substituted with thai chili peppers which i had a lot frozen in my freezer. i'm curious how the carrots will affect the fermentation and flavor, as carrots have a lot of sugar. curtido also calls for oregano, a spice i hardly use even though i have it in my kitchen, simply because a lot of italian recipes use it. oregano gave the curtido a distinctive flavor, we'll see how it tastes once it finishes fermenting. in fact, curtido can be eaten without fermentation, and what little i tried tasted pretty good, but it'll be even better after a proper ferment.

making curtido gave me a chance to break in the new 2 quart mason jar i got yesterday. i figured i'd have a lot of empty space, but even after tightly packing in everything, there was only about 2 inches of head space.

i packed the curtido at 4pm, and by 9pm the airlock was already filled with carbon dioxide. the airlock on the sauerkraut jar, not so much, although i have seen it rise it fall in the past few days. there is still fermentation going on inside the sauerkraut jar (it's only day 10, i'm only halfway through my 3 week ferment for this 3rd jar).

it's day 3 of my kimchi ferment, and like clockwork, they're ready to go in the refrigerator. the whole time i was making curtido in my kitchen, i'd occasionally hear these soft hissing sounds coming from the kimchi jars. i burped them slowly, revealing a densely packed container of bubbling kimchi. they were so full i had to remove a little bit from each jar and put it in a smaller pint jar just to keep them from leaking anymore.

next i moved on to my trek utility bike repair. my original plan was to replace all the cables, but only the rear brake cable needs replacing, so i decided to only do that one. the cable cutter makes cutting the brake cables so easy. supposedly they can also cut the housing, but it has a tendency to totally mash the cut every time, so i don't think they're any good for that purpose. what i need is a dremel tool to smooth off the ends of the cable housing, but i will have to make do for the time being with rough cuts.

january of 2016 i had my snowy bike accident, which damaged the right brake lever, the one that controls the rear brake. i thought it was just superficial scratches, but apparently the crash also bent the adjustment screw and actually damaged the screw in such a way that i couldn't use it anymore and the cable couldn't be removed without cutting. fortunately i didn't throw away the old brake levers, and the adjustment screws on that are compatible with the brake lever.

around 4:30pm i got a call from my father asking me what i was doing. he said he was at market basket, and forgot his wallet. so i got on my fuji bike and raced down there to assist with my credit card. this happens a few times a year. one time he even managed to leave his wallet at the checkout counter, fortunately the cashier spotted it and left it with lost and found.

i finished up the bike when i returned home. i didn't tighten the brake cable just yet, because i want to replace the brake pads and do it outside because it can get a little dirty. but everything is in place, i just need to wheel the bike back outside and do it within the next few days.

for lunch i had some homemade sauerkraut with chicken sausage and scrambled eggs. for dinner, i heated up a frozen brick of stouffer's lasagna. i watched the 3rd episode of emerald city, it's starting to grow on me.

i was shipping out alex's hakshop purchase (elite field kit and radio starter). everything is so much easier with a food scale, i know the exact weight of the box, no more having to use the bathroom scale (which would probably work, but i typically add an ounce or two to account for accuracy discrepancy). i haven't shipped an international package in a while, so maybe the rules have changed, or maybe it's because i'm shipping it to japan, which have different packaging regulations. for one thing, i didn't have to print out additional custom forms like i typically would. also, there wasn't the option to treat package as abandoned, or an option to add insurance (i'm assuming it's already added).

when i left my house in the late morning to the porter square post office, it was already 60°F, our second day of unseasonably warm weather, before the temperature drops down to the 30's and 40's. it was warm enough that my sister took hailey to the beach. when i got to the post office, the line was 5 people deep, but there were 2 clerks, so the wait wasn't too bad, 15 minutes at most. "i've got some bad news," the clerk told me when it was my turn at the counter. apparently the post office won't take packages in UPS boxes. i don't know why, anti-competition clause, or maybe it confuses the carriers, but in order for the package to ship, i had to cover up all UPS markings. i asked if they had spare masking tape, but the clerk said with the amount i needed, they'd have to sell the tape to me.

so i left. good thing i had business at michael's, my mother asked me to buy a skein of fishermen's wool (in brown). but while i was there, i also took the time to look for cheap masking/packaging tape. i figured if i had some tape, i could repackage the box and wouldn't have to go all the way home again. they had some, but they were more for crafts purposes, so they weren't cheap. as for the yarn, i couldn't find any fishermen's wool. maybe lion brand doesn't make it anymore, or maybe this smaller store just doesn't have it in stock. before i left though, i went to check out their mason jars, and bought a jar i've been long searching for, a large 2 quart (half gallon) mason jar with a wide mouth ($5 but $3 after 40% coupon). i went to ace hardware next door looking for packaging tape; they had masking tape but for the price it wasn't worth it. i decided to go home.

as it was already noontime, i had some lunch first before continuing my errands. i made a bowl of chicken sausage oatmeal combined with a kale-banana-almond-milk smoothie. i repackaged the box, not completely mummifying it with packaging tape but close. i was a little worried it'd throw off the weight but i'd already added an ounce for safety to the shipping label when i created it.

there was no line when i went to the post office a second time around 1:30pm. i dropped off the package and got a receipt, mission accomplished. for my troubles, now all i have left to do is wait for alex to reimburse me the cost of the package and shipping, which comes out close to $400. this, despite his reluctance to use the 21st century method of money exchange through paypal, and would rather go with western union, which has very expensive fees.

i biked to market basket next, to pick up some box tissues for my grand uncle, and also get some ingredients for making my next fermented vegetable recipe, el salvadorian curtido. it was surprisingly crowded for some reason, or maybe i got there right when there was some shopper congestion. a little old lady in front of me was unnecessarily rude to the cashier, speaking down to her as if she didn't understand english. i've found the rudest people at market basket to be little italian ladies.

after returning home briefly, i went to the cafe to drop off the kleenex. by then the temperature was 61°F, warm enough that wore just my t-shirt. i don't think i'd ever imagine i could be biking in a t-shirt in the middle of january. it was getting close to 2:30pm and neither my father or 2nd aunt were at the cafe yet. we were most concerned about my father, who went to go retake the servsafe food safety manager training course and certification exam. the last time around he got out early, so we thought maybe his lateness meant he might've failed the exam a second time. but my mother saw e-mails alerting us that his exam score was available for viewing. while i was trying to log into my father account, he finally returned, smiling, which could either mean good or bad news. he said he passed, but just barely, scoring 76% when passing is 75%. he ended up taking an electronic version of the ipad (administered on ipads), and a bilingual chinese/english version at that (hence he was able to get his exam score immediately afterwards). he said there were about 11 other in class today, mostly hispanic.

i continued on my way to belmont. the house felt improved some how, now that the basement oil furnace was no longer making strange noises. for dinner we had xuelihong noodles. i helped my father order some smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors/solar motion security lights before returning home.

a package was waiting for my upstairs neighbors. i was going to tell them about it but then i heard the music blaring from upstairs and decided against it. it was annoying enough that i pounded the walls to get them to stop, i don't know if they heard it. it didn't stop until 10:40pm. i hope maybe they go away this weekend (MLK jr. weekend).

a strange thing happened to my mason jar fermentation: it suddenly started leaking again. i cleaned off some crusty dried juice 2 days ago, so i was surprised to see fresh juice on the cap again. here's what i think happened. for the first few days, Leuconostoc bacterias fermented the cabbage, producing carbon dioxide and lactic acid. once conditions became too acidic, they died off, replaced by Lactobacillus bacterias. it took a few days for them to build up, but once they did, they continued on with the fermentation, creating more lactic acid and carbon dioxide. it's during this second ferment that probably caused the airlock to leak again. eventually conditions will be too acidic for even the Lactobacillus, and that's when the sauerkraut will be ready to eat.

i arrived in belmont sometime before noon to await the oil heater repairman. when i left my house, donald trump's press conference was just starting. there was a report today that russians had incriminating information on trump and were using it to blackmail him. the question and answer portion became a farce, trump's distinctive logorrhea nearly causing my brain to reboot. i didn't have lunch yet, but there was enough snacks around the house (nuts, potato chips, seltzer) to keep me entertained.

the fawcett repairman arrived at 1pm. he was supposed to call but didn't, and i only knew he'd arrived because i saw the van parked outside. a burly guy came in by the name of rich, smelled faintly of heating oil, had sawdust on his sweatshirt like maybe he'd been crawling around somewhere. i showed him into the basement, but i noticed he was making notes of what type of heating system we used. when he saw the hot water heater, he asked me if i was looking to replace it, which i thought was a weird question. finally it made sense: rich thought he was here to spec out a replacement heating system, nobody told him he was just here to fix the oil furnace. one we got that cleared up, he went back to his truck to get his tool bag. earlier i played him the sound of the furnace cycling, and he knew right away it was a faulty primary control box.

he came in with a fancy electronic version with a digital readout (honeywell R7284) to replace the old analog (coincidentally also honeywell). he detached the old box by unscrewing it and cutting some wires, then started reattaching some new wires. besides the new primary control, he also replaced the cad cell flame sensor. while chatting with rich, i learned he'd been working for fawcett for 30 years now. it took him all but 15 minutes and he had everything fixed. i asked him how much it'd cost, he said since my parents are under a protection plan, it's only $70 for parts and labor, "not a bad deal, considering the control box costs something like $200," he added.

after he left i went online to check the price for the honeywell R7284. it only costs $80 from home depot, with the cad cell flame sensor another $20. despite the price discrepancy, it's still a bargain at just $70, and the oil furnace was fixed, no more unexpected restarting.

my father was busy studying for the servsafe manager certification exam he's retaking tomorrow. the $55 cost to get retested also includes retaking the class if you want to. he studied by taking an online practice test, but i'm afraid he focused too much on those practice questions, which are guaranteed not to be on the actual exam.

the inside of my house smells like kimchi AKA the smell of an authentic korean restaurant. i went into the kitchen and saw that my kimchi jars were already leaking. that's a good sign, means they're fermenting. there's so much flavor that you could eat the kimchi now, but wait a few more days to let it properly ferment and the flavor will be that much more complex, a fizzy sourness on top of the umami salty sweet and spicy. i rinsed the lasagna dishes and washed the jars before putting them back on the kitchen countertop again.

after a shower, i spent the evening watching the first episode of taboo, the new tom hardy miniseries on FX. i like it, seems like a sumptuous tale of revenge, with a host of haughty english scoundrels whom i can't wait to see them get their comeuppance.

while heating up my final slice of leftover chicken pot pie for lunch in the early afternoon, i suddenly remembered that i was supposed to be making kimchi today. so i began at 1:30pm, keying on eye on the clock because i had to be at the cafe by 2:30pm.

kimchi january 2017(4x 1 qt. pickle jars)

7.1 lbs. napa cabbage
2.1 lbs. daikon radish
5 tbsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp salted shrimp paste
12 tbsp red pepper powder
0.20 lbs. ginger, processed
2 heads of garlic, processed
1 asian pear, processed
15 thai hot peppers, chopped
0.36 lbs. garlic chives, chopped

even though i had 2 heads of napa cabbage, their combine weight was about the same (7 lbs.) as the kimchi i made last time, so i followed that recipe in terms of portions. i had all my ingredients on hand, no need to rush out to buy anything like before. what's different this time is i had slightly more daikon radish (half pound more). i didn't add the asian pear to reduce at the beginning, but rather waited until the end to combine with the garlic and ginger in the food processor. for convenience, i mixed everything in my single large 20 qt. stock pot, instead of dividing the reducing cabbage in multiple containers (which was only a necessary step in prior recipes because i didn't have a large enough container to hold everything). finally, i had a package of fresh korean hot pepper powder.

i salted and mixed the chopped cabbage and daikon radish. i found the amount of salt i used last time was a bit too much, but my parents thought the flavor was just right, so i kept the portion to 5 tbsp of salt. i used fine sea salt because i had a whole carton cristina left behind (she broke the rotating cap so now it won't close properly), but any salt is fine. for fermenting vegetables, i prefer fine salt with no additional additives (like iodine, but it's not a big deal).

i left the house a bit after 2:20pm, riding the bike to the cafe. temperature was in the low 30's, but increasing steadily due to the rainstorm arriving later tonight. i was at the cafe to meet my parents' friend nancy to help her finish setting up her ipad. when i arrived they'd already gotten her yahoo e-mail to work. she also went down to the t-mobile store and managed to get line to work on her alcatel phone. the problem she didn't have enough space on her 2GB phone, but a lot of apps are bloatware that can't be removed.

line still wasn't working on the ipad, despite changing the password and restarting both devices. there seems to be something wrong with line's server, because it thinks there's a connection error, not a username/password issue. one can also log into line using a QR code but when using that method, the ipad line app wouldn't display the code, just sat there spinning. i also got youtube working (signing up with nancy's previous account) and turned on the chinese handwriting keyboard as well as voice recognition. my father showed me the second barrel of chinese sauerkraut he's making and i helped him move it down into the basement to ferment. i finally returned home by 4:30pm, bringing with me a bag of frozen chinese dumplings for dinner.

the cabbage had a chance to reduce for 2 hours, but normally i reduce to 6 hours before mixing in the other ingredients and packing the kimchi into jars. in the meantime, i soaked some jars in boiling water. probably not the best way to sanitize the jars, but easier than running them through the dishwasher which takes forever. i compared the old korean pepper powder to the new one i got. while the expired powder was dark maroon, the new powder was bright red. the lesson learned here is always use fresh chili powder!

while searching the fridge for things to throw out (tonight is trash night), i came across my sourdough starter. inside the jar was a carpet of green mold. i dumped it out immediately, but while i was scooping the starter into the trash, a thought did cross my mind: could it still be edible? maybe that green mold is the kind of mold i like in blue cheese? but better safe than sorry. thus concluded my sourdough experiment, something i began at the end of the summer, but never quite able to get a decent loaf of sourdough bread.

i prepared the additional ingredients to be mixed with the cabbage. i cut the bundle of garlic chives into quarters. i peeled the ginger and asian pear, cutting them into smaller sizes so they'll fit in my small food processor. i had more ginger than i needed so i saved half (the portion amount in the recipe list is already 1/2 the amount). of the ginger half i didn't save, i julienned half of that into thin slices. i also peeled 2 heads of garlic (about 20 cloves). into the food processor went the 3 ingredients.

i chopped about 15 thai chili peppers. they were previously frozen, i took some out earlier and let them thaw. they actually chop easier when frozen so i'll probably just use frozen peppers next time.

approaching 8pm i drained the reducing cabbage. the reason i do this is so that when i add the other ingredients, the kimchi doesn't become a soggy mess. i'm not making kimchi soup here! i managed to pour out a quart of cabbage juice. i saved it in a jar in case i needed to use it later, but the cabbage still retained enough juices so that it wasn't necessary. i then dumped the rest of the ingredients into the large stock pot (including 2 tbsp of salted shrimp paste and 12 tbsp of red pepper powder) and mixed everything by hand.

maybe next time i might wear a glove because the combination of salt and pepper always end up hurting the little cracks in my hand. i had slightly more kimchi than last time, so top of the 4 quart jars of kimchi, i also had enough for a small jar (grey poupon mustard jar). i capped the jars, washed them, then put them in lasagna trays to catch the leaking kimchi juices when they begin fermenting.

the kimchi this time looked so much better with the fresh pepper powder. although it hasn't finished fermenting yet, i'm going to say this may be my most perfect batch of kimchi so far. next time i make kimchi i want to try the variety where i use quartered napa cabbage with chili powder paste.

for dinner i boiled the frozen chinese dumplings. i had some dumpling sauce in the cupboard. i was surprised by how little there was, then i saw the expiration date: 2007! it must've reduced in over the decade it's been sitting in my cabinet. i was going to toss it, but figured i'd try it anyway, if anything, it'd be an even more concentrated dipping sauce, and maybe the aging improved the flavor. to the sauce i also added some vietnamese garlic chili sauce and some rice vinegar.

i finally finished watching the wailing (2016) late last night. i'd actually stopped with 30 minutes left to go, but then i couldn't sleep thinking about what was going to happen next so i finished the rest of it through netflix on my phone. it's a very good movie, but hard to define. the ending was purposely ambiguous and slightly confusing that i had to look for explanation online afterwards. there are multiple theories - some very far-fetched - but i think i have an idea of what the movie's all about. it helped that i rewatched it again this morning on fast-forward scrubbing, so many clues throughout the film that builds to the climatic conclusion. it's a horror movie, yes, but it's also a psychological thriller, about the things we do when we don't have all the necessary information, or how others can sway us in our decisions with their ulterior motives.

i woke up earlier than usual to call fawcett energy about getting a repair person to come take a look at my parents' oil furnace. they couldn't pin down an appointment but did take my number and said they'd call me back.

i'd forgotten about my 3rd batch of sauerkraut. feels like it's been fermenting a long time but it's only been 6 days. there was a crusty pool of dried salty sauerkraut juice on the fermenting jar lid. the airlock is still bubbling. i'm hoping to let this jar ferment for 3 weeks if possible.

for lunch i heated up 2 leftover slices on pizza on the pan. i scorched the bottom and left the house with the smell of burnt bread. it was only in the teens this morning but the temperature slowly crept into the 20's. it was cold enough in the house that i cranked up the heat to 65°F again (normally it fires in the morning and i leave it dropping down to 60° before i turn up the thermostat in the evening).

my parents went to costco and 88 supermarket after work and i tagged along. i picked up some ingredients for making a second batch of kimchi (napa cabbage on sale for 38¢/lbs., some garlic chives, fresh korean red pepper powder, ginger, garlic).

we didn't get back to belmont until well after 5:30pm. fortunately the traffic wasn't too bad. while my parents made dinner, i was factory resetting an ipad that belonged to a friend of theirs. her son helped her set it up many years ago, but they're no longer on speaking terms, and she forgot her apple password, so it was easier just to start all over, as she didn't have many apps to begin with. after the reset, i upgraded the OS from 8.0 to 9.0, and downloaded youtube, line, and a mahjong app. i was only able to set up her apple account, as her yahoo e-mail was blocked (needed a second authentication factor which was a pin texted to her phone), and she couldn't remember her line account password when we called her.

after dinner i got a ride back to cambridge. a very cold night, but there's a 3-day stretch of 50's degrees weather starting on wednesday, which will melt away much of this snow.