Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop

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Make Soap Using A Slow Cooker (Hot Process)

Posted 29 June, 2008 at 8:58pm by Tina Jiang
(Filed under: Soap Making) 92 comments

After making a few batches of cold process soaps and waiting patiently for 3+ weeks while they cure, you are probably wondering if there's another way of making soap that doesn't require such a long waiting time. What if you need to make gifts for an upcoming party/holiday/special occasion, and there's not enough time left? What if you are like me and sometimes just don't have the patience to wait that long to use your new soaps? Then you should try hot process soap making - make it in the morning and use it in the afternoon! Hot process involves cooking the soap mixture in a slow cooker, double boiler, or stock pot for a couple of hours until it becomes neutral (heat speeds up the saponification process), and the soap is usable right away.

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Make Soap Using A Slow Cooker (Hot Process)

B44 (San Francisco)

Posted 29 June, 2008 at 7:20pm by Michael Chu

It's funny how sometimes the best things to eat are the simple things. I haven't been to this restaurant in a couple years, so I thought I'd stop in. B44 is a restaurant specializing in Spanish (Catalan) cuisine and is situated on Belden Place among several other western European places to eat. After my last visit, I'd recommend the Catalan toast and ox tails appetizer. From memory their paellas are quite good, but for us last night it was the basic appetizers that hit the spot. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera on me, so no pictures - just descriptions.

B44 (Google Maps)
44 Belden Place
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 986-6287
b44sf.com

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B44 (San Francisco)

Vanilla Ice Cream Test

Posted 28 June, 2008 at 8:51pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food) 2 comments

Tina set up the vanilla ice cream test right after I set up the Choctal test. We tried the three vanillas in our freezer - Strauss Family Creamery Vanilla, Choctal Madagascar Vanilla, and Trader Joe's Vanilla Ice Cream. I also tried to guess which was which and was COMPLETELY wrong. I guessed that the flavors were Choctal, Strauss, and mystery brand (I forgot the third brand in the freezer). It turned out they were Strauss, Trader Joe's, and Choctal.

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Vanilla Ice Cream Test

What's Inside An Avocado Pit?

Posted 25 June, 2008 at 1:13pm by Michael Chu

While prepping the photos for a Guacamole recipe, I removed the pits from four avocados. It was at this time that I began to wonder what was inside the pit. Was there a nut inside this over sized seed like the pit of a peach, almond, or cashew?

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What's Inside An Avocado Pit?

Choctal Test

Posted 23 June, 2008 at 11:18pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food) 1 comment

Sometimes Tina and I do blind tastings. This time I had my friend Trevor over so we had an extra mouth to taste test. I picked up the lineup of Choctal ice creams available in my local markets - four single origin chocolate ice creams (Kalimantan, Dominican, Ghana, and Costa Rican) and vanilla ice cream (Madagascar vanilla). I had previously tasted the same five Choctal products at the 2007 Fancy Food Show, but neither Trevor nor Tina had. I set up the test (mainly to see which of the four chocolates we would prefer).

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Choctal Test

Is Barack Obama All Talk?

Posted 15 June, 2008 at 3:14pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Current Events) 2 comments

Every few days, when I need a break from my audio books, I'll listen to the news and talk radio while driving. Over the years, I've just gotten used to listening to KGO Newstalk 810. With the Democratic primaries finally over (now that Clinton has endorsed Obama), there have been a few shows letting listeners chime in and express their thoughts on Obama as a candidate. What irks me is that there are quite a few listeners that still say Barack Obama may give a good speech, but in the end he doesn't really have any plans (for health care, withdrawal from Iraq, the economy, whatever issue that listener cares about). I think the last time this happened, a Clinton supporter called in on Gil Gross's program and stated that she was afraid the American people were adopting a "wait and see" attitude concerning Obama. She felt that people were just voting for Obama because the alternatives reminded them too much of our current administration and that this was very dangerous since Obama is all talk and doesn't have a plan for health care or Iraq. The host of the show (don't know if it was Gil since I tuned in late, but it sounded like Gil) agreed with her! I have a BIG problem with this.

I don't know who started it (was it Hillary Clinton's campaign or McCain's or someone else) but there's this "rumor" going around that Barack Obama gives great speeches, but in the end he doesn't have a firm plan to make any real changes. People I talk to seem confused about his stance on taxes, how his plan for health care differs from Clinton's plan, and seem to believe he wants to pull all the troops out of Iraq on Day One. Unfortunately, people believe what they want to believe and don't bother investigating for themselves.

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Is Barack Obama All Talk?

Moaning Cavern and Black Chasm Cavern

Posted 14 June, 2008 at 10:09pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Travel) 4 comments

Tina and I took her parents to a couple of caverns in Califonia's Gold Country. We first went to Black Chasm Cavern but found out the entire area didn't have any power (so no bathrooms were available there and almost everything in the town of Volcano was closed). They were still giving tours, but with flashlights. I was all for going on the flashlight tour, but Tina and her parent's thought it would be better to move on to a town with power (so we could get some food) and to Moaning Cavern. (I called ahead to make sure they had power - they did.)

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Moaning Cavern and Black Chasm Cavern

What I Ate: March 27, 2008

Posted 12 June, 2008 at 9:15am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: What I Ate) No comments

Lunch from Mehfil's - two items so I could taste both. I wonder who writes their descriptions everyday because they always make me want to try new things:

(1) JEERA ALOO
(Potatoes cooked in red onions and roasted cumin’s)
Haryana the city of agriculture has its old traditions of cooking; here cumin’s are the specialty and you can find cumin in every dish. The base is prepared with red onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and several other spices and a touch of Asafetida. After cutting the potatoes into cubes they are sautéed with the base and roasted cumin’s.
$5.00

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What I Ate: March 27, 2008

What I Ate: March 26, 2008

Posted 11 June, 2008 at 1:12pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: What I Ate) No comments

For lunch I ate with Dave Weldon and Sendori at Garcia's. Had the usual - super quesadilla with lengua and a pina aguas frescas.

For dinner I had half a foot long oven roasted chicken breast sandwich from Subway (Tina ate the other half).

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What I Ate: March 26, 2008

What I Ate: March 25, 2008 (Mehfil Indian Cuisine)

Posted 10 June, 2008 at 8:44pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: What I Ate) 3 comments

Almost forgot to photograph my lunch. The description that Mehfil's had for today's lunch special that I ordered follows:

(4) MEATBALL MASALA (CHEF’S SPECIAL)
Home madeBeef meatballs Braised in Fresh garlic, ginger, onions, and Roma Tomatoes Finished in a Masala of roasted Cloves and
Cinnamon Bark. AN Excellent infusion With an Indian Flavor.

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What I Ate: March 25, 2008 (Mehfil Indian Cuisine)

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