i was waiting for the rain to stop so i could leave for the cafe. just so happens the bulk of the rain clouds were leaving the boston area around 10:30am. i sat in the living room, all my stuff packed, looking outside, watching to see if the raindrop ripples in the street puddles had finally stopped. getting close to 11am i couldn't wait anymore so i left even though it was still drizzling a little bit.

i brought the cloth back duct tape i got from harbor freight yesterday and reattached rare earth magnets to the back of our kitchen timers (reinforcing their magnetic stickiness). the old duct tape i was using before came off too easily while leaving behind a gummy residue that i had to clean off using rubbing alcohol.

the smart light switch i ordered from temu arrived. it's a little pricey at $10.50, we bought it to replace our manual intermatic timer box that controls the store front lights. it's not very smart, and can only set fixed on and off timer. we'd like a timer that can turn on around dusk then turn off at midnight. a smart light switch can do this but i'm wondering if it's not too smart, and requires the use of a phone app and tuya home automation account in order to get it to work.

it didn't seem that busy today but mostly because customers were staggered. by the afternoon lull we'd already made a decent amount despite the early morning weather (we didn't even bother setting out any tables or chairs on the back deck). not as much as last friday, but that was a record day.

i helped my mother order plane tickets for taiwan. she and my father are going back in february after the end of chinese new year and will be gone for 4 weeks. a lot of routes to taiwan were eliminated during the pandemic, and only now airlines have restarted some new flights, though the prices are still on the expensive side. but if you need to go, you have no choice, pickings are slim. they're traveling via korean air this time. to taiwan it's just 19 hours, but coming back they have to stay overnight in korea, most probably sleep in the airport. originally my mother was going to buy the tickets from cheap-o-air, her usual place for finding inexpensive airfare. she was almost ready to pay before she noticed a $200 seat convenience fee, even though seat reservations on korea air are free. so we tried booking the tickets from korea air's own website, and found out it was actually a few hundred dollars cheaper.

my mother dug up a frozen pizza from the basement freezer and we baked it in the breville smart oven for a late lunch. it wasn't that smart because it managed to burn the pizza, though i should've kept an eye on it. the crust turned out to be a little too crispy and hard.

i went ahead and reverse engineered a tea egg spice packet. we normally buy the spice packets, which is around $2 for two spice packets and two tea packets, enough to make two batches of tea eggs. but i've always wanted to mix my own, since the spice ingredients themselves are no mystery, as they're listed on the box: fennel (茴香), cassia (肉桂皮), licorice (甘草), anise (八角), bay leaves (月桂葉), allspice (多香果), black pepper (黑胡椒), and cloves (丁香). what is a mystery are the portions, and the only thing i can go on is the ingredient list order, assuming they're listed from most to least. at one point i almost opened one of the spice packets to divvy up the ingredients until i realized that everything is crushed. i've checked a bunch of other online recipes, and everyone's different, there's no consensus as to what constitutes true tea egg spices. i see a lot of pepper corns, and occasionally orange peels. even my mother had a simple tea egg recipe (before we started using the commercial spice packets) using just anise.

tea egg spice packet
(1 serving 10g)

fennel 茴香 2g
cassia 肉桂皮 2g
licorice 甘草 2g
anise 八角 2g
bay leaves 月桂葉 0.5g
allspice 多香果 0.5g
black pepper 黑胡椒 0.5g
clove 丁香 0.5g

so in the end i just made a practical decision: 20% each of the first 4 ingredients, 5% the remaining four. using my precision pocket scale (200g x 0.01g), i measured out the ingredients to make a single spice packet at 10g. i added everything into our spice grinder. it didn't need to be powder consistency, but enough grinding to release the aromatics. i used a disposable japanese loose leaf tea bag to hold the ground up ingredients; it folds in on itself to hold everything in place without spillage. the bigger pieces like cassia (asian cinnamon bark) and licorice didn't really grind as well as smaller spices like fennel or allspice. but the mixture was intensely fragrant, much more so than the commercial spice packet. can't wait to make the next batch of tea eggs using our home blended spices. besides being cheaper than buying store-bought packets, it adds a certain aura of authenticity to know that our tea eggs are made with our own special blend of spices.

i was about to leave around 5pm when it started getting a little busy. it started with a semi-large online order that was made an hour in advance. when it came time to making that order, suddenly a bunch of customers walked into the cafe, while simultaneously several new online and phone orders came in. it's like 5pm is the new lunchtime rush hour. i wasn't able to leave and dropped off my backpack as i started cooking. my mother and i were working in the back kitchen while my father fielded new customers while making the drinks out front. my sister showed up new the tail end and was able to help out finishing some orders. in that burst of time we managed to make 40% of today's profit.

i was finally able to leave after 6pm. it'd stopped raining, but my bike seat was soaked, even though i put a plastic bag over it.

around 9pm i made some korean rice cake for dinner (tteokbokki). i bought a package of fried tofu wedges a few months ago, and it had already expired back in june, so it was imperative that i eat it as soon as possible. the last time i made tteokbokki was december 2022, and it was for my parents. the last time i made a single serving just for myself was september 2021, so that was the recipe i used.

tteokbokki (떡볶이)
(1 serving)

2 cups water
1/4 tsp hondashi powder
1 clump of dried seaweed

2-1/2 tbsp gochujang paste
1/2 tbsp hot pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp karo dark corn syrup

10 oz. frozen rice cakes
(1/3 2 lbs. package)

7 oz. fried tofu wedges
(half package)

3 scallions, chopped

make broth over medium heat 15 minutes combining water with hondashi and dried seaweed. discard seaweed, add hot pepper paste mixture, along with rice cakes. stir constantly to keep rice cakes from sticking to pan. midway through add tofu wedges. done when liquid reduced to shiny sauce (about 7 minutes). add scallions.

i also got to use up a frozen container of rice cake that was probably from 2021. it tasted fine, i didn't notice any freezer burn flavors, though drowning in that spicy tteokbokki sauce, i doubt you could taste very much of anything else. it was good, all that heat really opened my sinuses and i kept blowing my nose. afterwards i had some more watermelon.

i ate while watching the last preseason patriots game. i know preseason games don't count, but new england has a 1-2 record, and our only victory against the packers was only because one of our players that so seriously hurt that but teams decided to call an end to the game even though there was still 10 minutes left. had we finished the game, we probably would've lost that one too. in the other two games - against the texans and titans (tonight) - patriots lost by big margins, 20-9, and 23-7. nothing we can do but wait for the real season to begin, september 10th against the eagles in foxboro.