Ramen 1.1, released today

Today, I released Ramen 1.1. The ramen noodles area easy to make with the Atlas pasta press. In 1976, my folks purchased this from Macy’s for $45, which was quite a sum back then. Using an inflation calculator (link), this comes out to 167.72 today. The quality of this machine is astounding -I could stand on it and it wouldn’t break. The graphics are very funny -straight out of disco era Italy. Food has always been central in our home, and I learned how to crank out fettucini which we used in kal guksu at age 8. I was very proud of the ability to make especially long noodles. I decided to try to make a large batch to freeze some noodles for later.
Making the dough is again so basic and simple that it is meditative. Flour, egg, baking soda (homage to the alkaline salts of Central Asia’s deserts), and water, mixed to a tough ball, this time the size of one of those Vietnamese grapefruits. I remember thinking I should add another egg to get the yellowish hue, but am too lazy. The noodles come easily after an hour of kneading, an hour of rest, and an hour of pressing.
The soup was another issue. I have come across what seems to be a reasonable donkotsu recipe. The only problem was I bought only 2 ham hocks -no long bones were available at the local butchers. I boiled these with some ginger, garlic, leek, and onions, for 8 hours yesterday and got a pot of nearly pure protein. The flavor was okay, but not quite the full donkotsu taste. I experimented with flavoring with salt, soy, miso, miso+bonito, and found the last to give the best flavor.

Char Siu

The pork from the hocks was pulled and set aside, flavored with salt and pepper -it’s delicious and I’ll be eating this separately with rice. I added some to the final ramen dish. One of the recipes calls for purchasing char siu from a Chinese restaurant. Char siu is commonly seen as the reddish pork barbecue hanging from hooks in Chinese restaurants in NYC, but you just can’t get it around here.

I called my friend who recommended using some off the shelf sauce and making it at home. I purchased a pork rib roast (with tenderloin on) for the purpose of cutting off the tenderloin for use with the ramen and eating the ribs for dinner. The char siu sauce (Hawaiian brand) was easily found at our local Asian grocery, and cooking was very easy in our convection oven. Our secondary convection oven is essentially an upright rotisserie, and roasts come out perfectly. The tenderloin provided a nice cut, but was not the same as the flavored Japanese-style roast pork.
The soup, now flavored as a miso soup, provided a mellow base for the ramen noodles which came out nice and springy, but definitely bland without the extra egg -it’s a lesson I’ll take to the next batch. The soup was garnished with char siu tenderloin slices, blanched spinach and flavored eggs. The marinaded eggs are soft boiled eggs left to sit in a marinade of Memmi sauce (a light sweet soy sauce that is used for creating a soup base), dash of sake, and chili peppers (my touch). These eggs were kept in a plastic bag overnight and cut in half with a string -creates a more elegant cut than a knife.
It was okay but not great. The soup has to be saltier and stronger prior to adding the noodles which dilutes the soup with some water. I am going to back off the donkotsu for a while and just get regular Yakibuta style ramen soup right. As a second effort, it is clearly an incremental improvement, and I learned how to make char siu. The ramen is not just noodles in a salty soup, but rather a kind of perfect kingdom of noodles, soup, and fixings. You want to get balance -the texture of chewing noodles and the intense flavor of the soup, the surprising pleasures of the fixings.

Today, I released Ramen 1.1. The ramen noodles area easy to make with the Atlas pasta press. In 1976, my folks purchased this from Macy’s for $45, which was quite a sum back then. Using an inflation calculator (link), this comes out to 167.72 today. The quality of this machine is astounding -I could stand on it and it wouldn’t break. The graphics are very funny -straight out of disco era Italy. Food has always been central in our home, and I learned how to crank out fettucini which we used in kal guksu at age 8. I was very proud of the ability to make especially long noodles. I decided to try to make a large batch to freeze some noodles for later.  Making the dough is again so basic and simple that it is meditative. Flour, egg, baking soda (homage to the alkaline salts of Central Asia’s deserts), and water, mixed to a tough ball, this time the size of one of those Vietnamese grapefruits. I remember thinking I should add another egg to get the yellowish hue, but am too lazy. The noodles come easily after an hour of kneading, an hour of rest, and an hour of pressing.  The soup was another issue. I have come across what seems to be a reasonable donkotsu recipe. The only problem was I bought only 2 ham hocks -no long bones were available at the local butchers. I boiled these with some ginger, garlic, leek, and onions, for 8 hours yesterday and got a pot of nearly pure protein. The flavor was okay, but not quite the full donkotsu taste. I experimented with flavoring with salt, soy, miso, miso+bonito, and found the last to give the best flavor. The pork from the hocks was pulled and set aside, flavored with salt and pepper -it’s delicious and I’ll be eating this separately with rice. I added some to the final ramen dish. One of the recipes calls for purchasing char siu from a Chinese restaurant. Char siu is commonly seen as the reddish pork barbecue hanging from hooks in Chinese restaurants in NYC, but you just can’t get it around here.  I called my friend who recommended using some off the shelf sauce and making it at home. I purchased a pork rib roast (with tenderloin on) for the purpose of cutting off the tenderloin for use with the ramen and eating the ribs for dinner. The char siu sauce (Hawaiian brand) was easily found at our local Asian grocery, and cooking was very easy in our convection oven. Our secondary convection oven is essentially an upright rotisserie, and roasts come out perfectly. The tenderloin provided a nice cut, but was not the same as the flavored Japanese-style roast pork.  The soup, now flavored as a miso soup, provided a mellow base for the ramen noodles which came out nice and springy, but definitely bland without the extra egg -it’s a lesson I’ll take to the next batch. The soup was garnished with char siu tenderloin slices, blanched spinach and flavored eggs. The marinaded eggs are soft boiled eggs left to sit in a marinade of Memmi sauce (a light sweet soy sauce that is used for creating a soup base), dash of sake, and chili peppers (my touch). These eggs were kept in a plastic bag overnight and cut in half with a string -creates a more elegant cut than a knife.  It was okay but not great. The soup has to be saltier and stronger prior to adding the noodles which dilutes the soup with some water. I am going to back off the donkotsu for a while and just get regular Yakibuta style ramen soup right. As a second effort, it is clearly an incremental improvement, and I learned how to make char siu. The ramen is not just noodles in a salty soup, but rather a kind of perfect kingdom of noodles, soup, and fixings. You want to get balance -the texture of chewing noodles and the intense flavor of the soup, the surprising pleasures of the fixings.

Yale Is Burning

This made the rounds a few weeks ago, including a nice article on The New Yorker. Watching it, I had to smile. As a Harvard Alum, I can tell you there is no amount of glee at 86 Brattle Street that can match this gleeful video. You either get it or you don’t. They want to select for an even creamier crème de la crème. This goes beyond being able to understand and appreciate pink polo shirts, munching on pistachios, grapes, and brie with a Gewurztraminer, or liking to sing show tunes in the shower while being completely heterosexual.

If you don’t get it, you will snigger at this video and apply to Princeton. If you really don’t get it, you’ll stop watching when the singing starts and you’ll apply to a Big Ten School. If you get it, but don’t get in, you’ll be perfectly happy at Amherst. And so on.

This inspires me to hark back to college, to the time when I hijacked the microphone at Naples Pizza in New Haven and proclaimed, “Yale Sucks!” And now, we have proof.

Ramen Man -Ramen 1.0

Homemade hand milled ramen noodles

After a few years of mental preparation, I have decided to go for it.My life goal for the next 10 years is among other things, to create a perfect bowl of ramen from scratch. Not the instant stuff that college students eat dry. No, not even the fast-food stuff that people slurp down in train stations in Tokyo. This is the real deal -stuff made from the heart and soul. I am Ramen Man -and this is my first try.

The noodles have been a riddle for a while because reports on the internet are that the package ramen noodles are fried before they are cooked. I created a basic egg noodle dough ball of flour, eggs, and water with the addition of an ingredient taken from the KBS documentary Noodle Road. Turns out, the Central Asian heartland from when ramen (lo-mein, laghman) came had very alkaline water. This and the arrival of wheat cultivation created the noodle over five millenia ago.

Though the water here in Iowa is already pretty hard, I added some baking soda to raise the pH. This causes the gluten proteins to bond into long, tenacious strands.

The noodles were pressed out using an old Atlas pasta maker from Italy. I had grown up making kal-guk-soo from the age of 10, so getting the noodles out on the finer setting was no big deal. The picture above shows the work -a softball sized dough ball makes enough for 4 people.

The noodles are boiled then quickly rinsed in cold water, and over this the broth is added.

Ahh -the broth. This is where the journey begins. My first effort is with a basic da-shi-ma (seaweed and dried anchovy broth) added 2:1 to pork/ginger broth. Some pork cutlet was added, as was thin cut green onions, but for this effort, I wanted just naked noodles and broth.

The noodles were in fact perfect. The baking soda -a reflection of the hard desert spring water of Central Asia, allowed the noodles to have a perfect springiness.

Naked ramen

The broth itself was without distinction and this is where all the hard work will go -it was clear and clean, but better suited for a mushroom soup or a fish soup than for ramen. And the ramen I am stalking is hakata ramen -the clear white broth the result of days of boiling pork (could it be the head?).

I did get a thumbs up from my critics.

Park Icosahedron!

Amaze your friends by downloading and printing out the Park Icosahedron. Fold along lines and glue the tabs down to form the 20 sided shape of mystery.

You can make two, attach to string and hang if from your rear view mirror! My gift to you. A great way to spend time with your kids…and ME!

The Hookup -UPDATED

snc10030

UPDATE -

As if to drive home the nail between the eyes, the NYT (link) writes about how colleges are over run with women, and the guys can basically stop shaving, stop bathing, stop talking, and get harassed for dates just by occupying space on a campus bar stool. If this isn’t more evidence that Generation X has some terrible purpose, I don’t know what, because we our timing is cosmically off. We miss the sixties and we get to pay for and take care of the baby boomers while everybody behind us gets to play.

Original Post from 12/17/2008

In the New York Times, Op-Ed man Charles M. Blow writes about the current state of dating -declaring there is no dating (link here). Apparently, teens and college students have sex first then consider dating after several rounds, maybe days, of guilt-free and consequence-free sex.

This is all terribly wrong. I missed the sixties and seventies. My coming of age was during the 80’s, a notably sexless decade which produced Urkel, Alf, Joanie and Chachi (which means something funny in Korean). I got married in the 90’s, and then spent my remaining twenties and thirties indoors in sterile environments, constantly washing my hands. All of a sudden I wake up in my forties from 34 years of schooling to see this going on. Instead of yammering away about school and homework while out on dates, the kids are hammering away while out on hookups. Mr. Blow goes on pontificating about how tilted the playing field is towards men, especially in college where they are often outnumbered 2 or 3 to 1. I’m really upset about this article, because CM Blow just has it all wrong.

When I was in college, my happiest times were going down for breakfast at certain women’s colleges and hoping to get set upon by all those hungry girls. Instead, I got corn flakes and maintained a strictly monogamous relationship destined for a messy breakup -because I refused to have any relations until I met my wife to whom I am married. I digress. This bodes ill for civilization. What’s next ? husband time sharing arrangements by educated professional women who find it more convenient to share the few educated, employed, professional men left in the world? Craigslisting of said arrangements? I can imagine the listing -Englewood, NJ: Have a man, MBA, needs walking daily, will share for cost of feed and grooming.

Absolutely not. I will not let J rent me out to her lady friends in some sort of tawdry and trendy new lifestyle arrangement just for her convenience. I have my scruples. If any of J’s lady friends needs to discuss my views on this, they can reach me through Facebook, or just text me.

Augmented Reality -how to tell fake boobs

Every time I watch Mad Men, I get floored by Christina Hendricks. She captures the vavoom esthetics of the late 50’s and 60’s as personified by Sophia Loren. The standards of beauty shift and change over time, but the large mammaries and the male obsession with them are unique to humans among terrestrial mammals.

Neolithic hunter-gatherers, when they figured out how to shape stone into figurines, created an industry around figures of women with curves.

Breast augmentation is a large industry driven by not only popular tastes but probably something innate in our psyche. When I was an intern, the plastic surgery clinic was an eye opener, with perfectly healthy patients willing to undergo an operation at some risk to their health to sculpt themselves.

It was a time of transition away from silicone implants which were popularly (and erroneously) believed to cause autoimmune disease, to saline implants, and the quintessential moment for me was in filling what were plastic bags to the “correct” volume which was a subjective process. The whole OR got to voice their opinion with the surgeon having veto power.

With the recent red carpet productions, Christina Hendricks came up and it hit me that she looked different from when she was on Firefly, my favorite cancelled science fiction series. In it, she is incredible as an interplanetary highway robber and grifter. Five years later, she presents an entirely different profile.

At first, I thought she achieved her transformation with girdles and a few extra doughnuts a day, but the picture at the very top convinced me that some augmentation has occurred. When I mentioned this among my Facebook friends, TW, an old buddy from high school and a physician, categorically felt that these were real.

After intensive research, I would have to disagree. The tipoff are the bald men hiding in her dress. The placement of prosthetics causes a lifting of the skin and sometimes muscle which changes the profile from the “natural” which in profile looks like a nice sledding hill to the “augmented” which looks like a bald pate. This convexity is a giveaway, and with the lift and separate presentation bras, this convexity is enhanced. Gravity flattens this top area with time and no convexity is seen in latter day images of the all natural Sophia Loren who looks like she underwent some reduction.

That said, Hendricks is amazing in bringing her character to life, a Sad Woman among Mad Men.

Conan Paying Crew Severance Out Of Pocket: TMZ


NBC’s fail pie eating contest has a lot to do with:

1. Conan’s audience increasingly watching him over the internet on HULU and other venues
2. The split in America’s ability to digest horny bears and nipple rubbing
3. The calculus that you can make more money with Cheese Whiz than with Brie.

Time’s, they are a’changin, and the days of everyone watching the MASH series finale or the Who Shot JR Dallas episode are long, long gone. There will be an audience for Jay, the Miracle Whip of comedy, and Conan, Harvard Class of 1985.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Stewart Hammers Fox News For Cutting Off Obama’s GOP Q&A (VIDEO)


I would expect nothing less. Despite my centrist, and even conservative views, on some issues, this kind of censorship makes my blood boil. I know where Fox News would have stood on the LIncoln-Douglas debates (Lincoln, the colored boy, appears to be getting uppity), and they would have demonized Teddy Roosevelt for being a “progressive.” Mired as we are in a kind of Weimar dystopia (Lady Gaga should’a won it all), it’s further discouraging to be able to identify Goebbel’s heirs. Good thing the average Fox news viewer has no idea what I’m blathering about.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost