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Beef Jerky

2011-03-21

image

I wanted to try making some beef jerky, since I’m on LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) and buying ready-made jerky is way too expensive. I looked around and found a post by Mungo.

I decided it seemed easy enough, and made a marinade of what I could find. Though I can’t remember the quantities exactly, I used something like the following:

  • ~ 3 dl soy sauce
  • ~ 1 dl rapeseed oil
  • ~ 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ~ 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ~ 0.5 dl white wine vinegar (didn’t have lemon, but needed acidity.)
  • ~ 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • ~ 1 tsp muscovado sugar
  • ~ 3 grated cloves of garlic
  • ~ 1 tbsp onion powder
  • ~ 2 tbsp French mustard
  • ~ 2 dl water
  • ~ a few pinches of salt, pepper and ground-beef-spice
  • ~ a few drops of hot sauce

I then put half a kilogram of chuck steak in the microwave oven and set it to defrost with half the actual weight entered. This made the meat perfect for slicing thinly.

I put the meat in the marinade for about half an hour in the refrigerator.

Then I set the oven for 50 degrees Celsius and threaded the meat on wooden skewers, which I hung on the oven rack. I wedged a wooden spoon in the oven door to leave a 5 cm crack to let out moisture.

After 3 hours, the jerky came out perfect in consistency.

My wife and I both loved it!

Now it’s almost gone…

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Swimming and traffic

2010-11-29

Swimming pool

I started swimming a while ago. Every morning, at around 6:30, I go down to the local swim hall, and get changed into my sexy (or maybe not) speedos and swim glasses. I usually swim around 40 lanes, which means 1 km.

Most days, everything is fine and dandy, and I always feel refreshed when I’m done. However, I’ve grown to despise some of the people who come there to swim.

These are a few of the types you can meet there:

The snot-in-shower-man

This guy blows his nose right onto the shower floor, without embarrassment. That’s completely natural, right?

The my-hair-cannot-get-wet-woman

This person seems to think that all that’s allowed in the exercise lanes are breast strokes. Slow breast strokes. She huffs and puffs if a single drop of water touches her precious perm. Is it just me, or should you expect to get wet in a swim hall?!

The chatting-lady-friends

These old ladies seem to think they’re the only ones there, and like to swim side by side, taking up the entire width of the pool, swimming slowly and talking. They couldn’t care less that someone behind them is trying to pass.

The relaxer

This old dude just stops mid lane, hanging back, chilling. Not at the end, but mid lane. Without any warning, there’s a sudden blockage of traffic, and if you happen to be doing back strokes, you will crash into him!

The I-don’t-understand-lanes-person

This is by far the most annoying person there is. It can be a male or female, young or old. This person cannot fathom the swim hall concept of a track, where you swim laps, turn at the end of a lane and keep to your right. They’ll keep swimming into oncoming swimmers without flinching, like they own the place!

I had a run-in with the latter this morning, and it was a full-on chicken race! She did not budge one inch. I tried leading by example by keeping to the right all the way, doing a little bight around her, and returning to the right. She did not get it. Things like that take all the fun out of swimming.

Don’t get me wrong — I love swimming! I’m not saying my particular swim hall is a den of freaks either. There are lots of regular swimmers, pro swimmers and slow swimmers that all adapt according to their skills. It’s just the egomaniacs above who ruin it for everyone else. Oh, and in case you think I’m a control freak inventing ideas, the lap directions are actually on signs in the swim hall.

The whole situation reminds me of the expressway. Cars drive in the right lane, until they need to pass a slower car. Then they check for oncoming traffic and then pass.

This expressway concept can be compared to a lot of everyday situations. Take the revolving door at the supermarket. You enter to the right, and you exit to the right. This is quite easy to figure out upon seeing the door, the direction in which it’s revolving, the location of the entrance and the people walking through it. Still I see people who walk the most annoying routes as far as everyone else is concerned, so long as it makes their own arrival faster. There are people who walk straight onto the bike path without even looking — because bikes aren’t cars, they assume bikes will swerve. Not only are they a danger to me, but to themselves as well. I hate when people are this rude and, frankly, stupid. Yes, hate.

My conclusion is that people who know how to drive, are much more prone to try to improve the flow for everyone and not just themselves, and to look before they leap. I propose mandatory traffic education for everyone, even if you never plan on driving. Not only would you be able to pilot a car in a pinch, but you’d know the traffic rules, and subconsciously apply them to everyday situations. Everything would run smoother. You’d be helping others, and yourself at the same time. Yes, it is possible.

On spirituality, faith, magic and self-deceit

2010-08-25
tags:


i want to believe

I’d love to believe in something otherworldly and superior. It’s a comfort, and an easy way of reducing my own responsibility. However, I don’t. I can’t believe in something so ethereal without ever encountering it (or evidence of it) in person. I want to believe in gods, ghosts, afterlife, rebirth and magic, but I don’t.

I don’t believe in fate or destiny, and I don’t believe in superstition. If I want something to succeed, I’ve accepted the fact that I have to do it myself or get help from actual people, as opposed to supernatural imaginings.

I’m not one of those extremely socially adept people, but I acknowledge the fact that they probably fair better in most situations. Charisma is what makes people survive today, as opposed to the intelligence or brute strength required in man’s early days. If you’re a good friend and/or a good speaker, you’ll do well in life.

Even if it probably sounds strange, I still see myself as spiritual, in a manner of speaking. I believe the mind is an impressionable thing, and that willpower (or the placebo effect) is a strange beast indeed. My spirituality is based on this power of self-deception. I hypocritically appeal to any superior beings as a last resort when I’m really in a bind, and I knock on wood. Every now and then, I’ll toss a few I Ching coins. They might tell me I’ll be lucky today, which means I’ll maintain a more positive outlook. Anything marginally good will be counted as part of that luck, and negative events will be swiftly forgotten. I’m absolutely sure that these things mean nothing, and yet I do it. That’s odd.

It all depends on my mood though. The same mind games that can make me cheerful, sometimes don’t work at all. If I stop to think about what I’m doing, the magic is lost right away. I think the trick is not to think, which is easy for some people and really hard for others. I’m sure it’s all published in some psychology book somewhere.

I’m fairly certain that religion was founded on principles of conduct that, if followed, would let people survive a little longer as well as making the world a little kinder. I think the power involved has corrupted the major players though, and the people have followed. The major religions all use their faith as an excuse for warfare and for diminishing non-believers. I see religion of today as mostly bad. The good thing though, is that most people are free to choose if and what to believe.

However, just because I don’t put any stock in the ethereal machinations of religious leaders, that doesn’t mean I can’t fantasize. Almost every short story I write contains some degree of the divine, the magic or the supernatural. I find it fascinating. I’ve found lots of real-world lessons in religious ideals, as well as in fiction, as soon as I’ve peeled back their magical veneer a little.

I love polytheisms and their non-omnipotent deities, who are awesome at one thing and really bad at another. It feels more human. Norse mythology is one of my favorite sources of inspiration. I love magic too. I love to think about what we’d do if we could do whatever we wanted with a flick of the wrist.

In short, I want to believe. I don’t believe. I sometimes deceive myself into thinking I do. I try to be positive. I accept the fact that people are different. I live and learn. I exercise my imagination.

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The One That Got Away

2010-08-13
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Several years ago I started writing a story. However, I keep stalling and never seem to get any closer to finishing.


The empty Book

The One That Got Away would probably be a would-be novel that I’ve been working on on-and-off for several years.

Lately, the only thing I’ve been doing is trying out layouts and formats, instead of actually writing. I’ve been doing just that right now, actually. As of now, I only have six chapters, and when I actually do get to writing, I mostly just edit the old stuff instead of producing new prose.

Even the title is a testament to my uninspired state—ever since the beginning it’s just been called In English, indicating that I’d deviated from my standard Swedish.

I should probably be writing something else for a while to get into it again. Maybe this year I should actually try to finish NaNoWriMo

The whole thing was so promising once. I had just invented the plot (or start of a plot, which may be part of why I’ve stalled) and I loved the characters. A friend of mine was in on the whole thing, pepping me and urging me to continue. He’s a graphical artist and even drew a few character sketches for me as inspiration. I loved it. I had momentum.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I don’t harbor any illusions of becoming published or anything. Though that would be a nice bonus, I’m writing mainly because I like it, and I feel I might be onto something good. I might self-publish and earn a few bucks. But the main point is if I don’t finish it, it’ll forever be The One That Got Away.

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Supernatural Unofficial Soundtrack

2009-08-07

It’s been quite a while since I made a mixtape (or rather mix-CD) for actually listening to on disc rather than as mp3. Recently I’ve fallen quite hard for the TV series Supernatural though, and the music for the show is awesome old school rock.

My girlfriend and I decided to try to find as many songs as possible from the show and make a spotify playlist to share with the world, aswell as an edited down subset for use as a real mix-CD. Using spotify limited our selection somewhat (read: no AC/DC and no obscure indie bands) but we managed to scrounge up more than 80 tracks. We’ve now managed to get that down to a handy 2 CD format, to go in the car, and the music has been bought.

Supernatural Unofficial Soundtrack Cover

Supernatural Unofficial Soundtrack Cover

I even made a little bit of cover art, so it can look semi-real. I’ll leave you with my version (there are indeed others out there, all unofficial) of The Supernatural Unofficial Soundtrack track list. (Click the disc titles for spotify playlists.) Now let’s just hope the network people get wind of this and make an official soundtrack!

Disc 1

01 Blue Oyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
02 Kansas – Carry On Wayward Son
03 Foreigner – Hot Blooded
04 Creedence Clearwater Revival – Run Through The Jungle
05 Joey Ramone – What A Wonderful World
06Asia – Heat of the Moment
07 Ratt – Round And Round
08 Grand Funk Railroad – Bad Time
09 Joe Walsh – Turn to Stone
10 Blue Oyster Cult – Burnin’ For You
11 Booker T. & The MG’s – Green Onions
12 Boston – Foreplay / Long Time
13 Def Leppard – Rock of Ages
14 Foreigner – Cold As Ice
15 The Republic Tigers – Fight Song
16 Quiet Riot – Bang Your Head (Metal Health)
17 Creedence Clearwater Revival – I Put A Spell On You
18 Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water

Disc 2

01 Grand Funk Railroad – We’re an American Band
02 Lynyrd Skynyrd – Saturday Night Special
03 REO Speedwagon – Back on the Road Again
04 Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Hey You
05 Styx – Renegade
06 Black Sabbath – Paranoid
07 Supergrass – Sad Girl
08 Alice In Chains – Rooster
09 The Animals – House of the Rising Sun
10 Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit
11 UFO – Rock Bottom
12 Screaming Trees – Look at You
13 Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
14 Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising
15 Blue Oyster Cult – Fire of Unknown Origin
16 Billy Squier – Lonely Is the Night
17 Cheap Trick – Surrender
18 Bachman-Turner Overdrive – You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

The coolest cache I’ve ever seen

2009-07-21

watercache0

Today, I stumbled upon the coolest geocache I’ve seen so far. I realize that there might be even more challenging or intricate caches out there, but I don’t think I’ll happen to find one anytime soon. For me at least, the experience was amazing enough that I decided to write a blog post about it. I’ve added lots of pictures, so bear with me. In order to not spoil the cache for potential finders, I will not mention its name or location. The chances of someone who’s looking for this particular cache actually stumbling upon this blog post must be infinitesimal. Here goes!

I had decided to go out and try to find a few caches. One of them seemed to lay in a green area close to a residential block, and was called something along the lines of “water metering station”. The first challenge I met was figuring out how to even get close to the area. Whichever way I drove, it seemed there was either a cul-de-sac or the road continued in a bike path. I eventually had to drive a looong way around the entire area, to get close.

Now I needed to find parking. This was almost as challenging, with most people parked in what seemed to be private spaces and no signs to be seen. When I finally noticed the P sign in the corner of my eye, I was so relieved I braked to turn immediately, not realizing there was a car behind me. There was quite a distance between us, but still. I apologize for braking like an asshole. I had to continue on, then turn around and come back, but I managed to find a free parking space.

watercache1

The road toward the cache was a regular paved bike path, with lawns and houses on one side, bushes on the other. I noticed the entire right side was fenced off. “Oh great”, I thought, “another cache where I’ve entered from the wrong direction.” I thought I’d most definitely have to go on a long detour again, in order to reach the other side. It turns out I didn’t.

watercache2

When I got closer, I noticed the fence starting to go off into the bushes, so I thought maybe the cache was outside the fence anyway. The grass looked sufficiently trampled to be a geopath, so I figured I was probably on the right track.

watercache3

I reached as far as the fence, and realized I was wrong — the cache had to be several meters away still. Over the top of the fence and through the foliage, I could see a small brook. I realized with a sense of adventure and excitement that I might have to cross it.

watercache4

A short distance away stood a tree that seemed almost to have been made for using to hop the fence.

watercache5

So I did!

watercache6

The stream wasn’t flowing very rapidly, and it was a summery 23°C (73°F) so I thought if I didn’t make it across without taking a plunge, I wouldn’t mind very much. I tucked my phone (which I used for navigation) into my satchel so it wouldn’t fall into the water. I’m usually quite clumsy, so it’s something that might very well have happened.

watercache7

I found a place with a few rocks, tore off a wading stick from a dead branch on the ground and made my way across. My sandals were about to slip off my feet a few times, but I kept dry and on the rocks. Embedded into the concrete wall was a thick metal rod. It supported my weight with ease, and I scaled the wall on the other side.

watercache8

Once again I pulled out my phone and started toward the cache. On my way I noticed an orange fuel can tossed to the side. I didn’t think much of it and walked on.

watercache9

In the middle of the path was a pole. I didn’t even notice it and kept walking, until I realized I had passed the geocache and had to turn around. That’s when I noticed a strange contraption sitting on top of the pole.

watercache10

I figured the device had something to do with the water metering station, and instead tried groping the inside of the pole itself, and checking the trees nearby. Eventually I realized that the device had to be the cache — somehow. Now, before I go on, let me just describe the contraption.

A U-shaped metal tube had been secured tightly to the pole, with the ends pointing upwards. One of these ends had a lid on it, and the other had a strange looking T-pipe bit on top. Along the pipe were arrows, indicating something moving from the right end of the U-bend to the left. At the bottom of all this was a smaller tube, that made the U into a Y, with a faucet that was currently opened. All of this was welded together from several parts of metal pipe.

Now, right up until I noticed the faucet, I had thought of everything but water. As soon as I saw that thing, everything suddenly made sense. I ran back (yes ran, this was exciting!) to where I found the can earlier, to pick it up and then backtracked to where I had crossed the stream. I managed to fill the can with water and get back to the cache.

watercache11

I closed the faucet and started filling water into the right tube. At this point I felt like I was in an adventure game — only in real life; picking up items and going back and forth between locations to use them. Finally the water filled the entire pipe, and I was bursting with anticipation, and then… nothing happened!

I poked my finger inside the now-water-filled left opening, and felt nothing. I opened the faucet to empty out the water. It hadn’t yet ocurred to me to pour it back into the can, but several emptyings and fillings later it had become part of the process. I still eventually ended up empty handed. My heart sank, and I began thinking I’d been on the wrong path all along and that maybe I should go look among the trees again. Maybe this wasn’t the cache, but indeed just some metering station.

That’s when I noticed the stick from a firework piece lying on the ground. It was just the right length and girth to fit into the hole! I held my breath as the stick reached down and poked at the bottom of the pipe for a bit. I still felt nothing, but when I decided to call it quits and pull the stick out, I realized something was sliding upwards alongside it. I quickly removed the stick, but so much water had been flushed out that all I saw was the tiny, red top of an item just barely visible. I picked up the can again (that thing seemed to contain an infinite amount of water) and topped up the pipe.


watercache12

At that point the cache proper came into full view. I rejoiced in signing the log and finished it all off by opening the faucet, replacing the lid on the left pipe, emptying the can into the brook and tossing it to the side where I’d found it. Every step of the way had felt so coincidental and lucky, from the perfect fence-hopping tree branch and the wading stick, to the rocks in the stream, the metal rod in the wall, the tossed-to-the-side can and the firework stick.

I left the scene the same way I came, feeling happy and content. I love the geocaching community and its giving nature and I love the rare instances where someone goes to such great lengths to make others enjoy themselves (for free I might add), and I’m proud to call myself a member.

I’ve been inspired to create something cool myself. Not being very proficient in construction, I figure calculations, cryptic texts and mysteries will have to be my vocation. Hopefully I’ll get some grand idea sometime this summer. I would like to thank the creators of this geocache for being so awesome and you for reading this post. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Make your own Seitan – A fake meat recipe

2009-06-17

First of all, I don’t usually blog recipes, but this is one I actually know and don’t need a cookbook for. I was going to make some seitan, and thought I might just as well write it up.

Seitan is a vegetarian meat substitute. It consists of wheat gluten, which can be extracted from a dough of flour and water, by washing it. Gluten is essentially just protein, so a good meat substitute. Seitan can be used in most recipes instead of meat. What you have to understand is that the product you have when this is all over is a raw ingredient, that should be fried or cooked with other ingredients to actually become a meal. In a meat analogy, this would be the slaughtering and tanning process.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I like variation in my meals. Since flour is so very cheap, seitan is also a very affordable meat substitute — I think I once calculated that it costs less than a quarter of the price of ground beef. I’m a student and my money can be scarce, so that’s good for me. Also prefabricated fake meat is pretty expensive, at least in Sweden, so for vegetarians this option is even better!

I won’t kid you though, it’s a time consuming process. But I’m sure that if you try it, you’ll find it tasty enough to be worth it.

Ingredients

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Vegetable boullion cubes
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Other seasonings

Flour

Flour

Seasoning

Seasoning

 

Step 1
Choose an amount of flour you feel is suitable. Depending on the type of flour you use, and how well you knead the dough, the weight of the seitan will be about 30% of the flour weight. I usually do batches of 3.5kg of flour, which makes around 1kg of seitan.

Now mix the water with the flour until the consistency is doughy and springy but not sticky. This can be done in a food processor or by hand.

Step 2
Knead the dough thoroughly. The more time you spend on this — up to a limit — the more weight your seitan will retain. It’s something about gluten threads developing or some such. If anyone knows the mechanics, feel free to educate me.

Dough

Dough

When you’re done, let the dough rest for a few minutes. Or if you’re impatient, just get on with it.

Step 3
Now here’s the boring part. You’re going to wash all the starch out of the dough you just kneaded! Using a bowl, and as much of the dough as can fit in it, wash the dough by kneading it in alternatingly warm and cold water. Again, I don’t know the science behind this, and I’ve heard people advocate using only cold or only warm water too.

With each rinse, the water will get white and opaque. When that happens, discard the water (or save it up and allow it to sediment if you’re in need of wheat starch) and fill the bowl back up.

Keep repeating this step until the water doesn’t get murky, but stays clear and the dough has turned into a yellowish, elastic ball of pure gluten. This will normally happen after about 10 washes. At some point (usually around steps 5-7) the dough will become very unattached. It will seem like you have failed, and that nothing will ever stick together again — it’ll all just be crumbling. This is normal. Just make sure you don’t pour any of it out with the water, and it’ll come together in a bit. Just keep washing.

Washing process from beginning to end

Washing process from beginning to end

If you had to part your dough because it didn’t fit in the bowl all at once, then guess what — you’re going to have to repeat the whole thing again with the remaining dough! D’oh! (I’m so sorry, but honestly don’t say you didn’t see it coming.)

Step 4
Now boil enough water to fit all of the gluten and some more — it’s going to swell quite a bit. Divide the gluten into clumps the size of tennis balls, and lower them into the boiling water.

Boiling water

Boiling water

Here’s the fun part where you get to experiment. When seasoning, you should at least have boullion (made from vegetables if you want to keep it vegetarian, of course), soy sauce and salt. The rest is up to you.

I myself prefer to use garlic, sesame seed oil, thyme, chili, hot sauce, nutritional yeast and a hint of food coloring (the kind you might use for making brown sauce). Nutritional yeast is one of those things that vegetarians use, but others have usually never heard of. It’s esentially deactivated yeast, close to brewer’s yeast, but with added vitamins. It has a nutty/cheesy taste that you either love or hate.

Make sure you don’t get it too salty, and as always when cooking — taste everything while you’re cooking it!

Anyway, once you have your seasoning done, let the pot simmer for about 45 minutes or up to an hour. The clumps of seitan will swell and rise to the surface.

Swollen and floating seitan balls

Swollen and floating seitan balls

Step 5
Now, for the last step, pick up the seitan and cut it into the shape you prefer. If you want, you can carve fillets or dice or even a turkey shape if you have big enough seitan pieces. The texture will be porous though, and the chewiness is a bit different from meat. I tend to cut mine in strips.

Cut seitan

Cut seitan

Now you’re done, and ready to store your fake meat. Either store it in the fridge in some of the stock, or in the freezer without the stock. I like to keep it in the freezer, because it’s really easy to defrost in the microwave. If you cut the seitan into larger pieces (or don’t cut it at all) you can freeze it and then when you want to eat it only partially defrost it and it’ll be easier to cut.

Every time I make seitan, I always fry some of it right away to have at least something out of all that time I just spent. Just throw the seitan in a frying pan with some more spices of your liking and give it a nice, crispy surface.

Fried seitan with tomatoes and pasta

Fried seitan with tomatoes and pasta

Enjoy!