Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Paragon of Brisket Goodness

I bought a sous vide circulator. It's an Underground Circulator Stealth. It's decent, and seems well made. I particularly like that it's made in the US and comes with a one year warranty; warranty info on other circulators seems a little lacking. I also like that it is tested to 40L, whereas the next comparable model is $800 and only good to 30L.

I seasoned and vac-packed my brisket, and put in a 137F bath for 48 hours. That is some seriously slow cooking. And utterly worth the wait.

Here is the brisket bag just out of the bath. Not really much to look at.

For that long cooking, despite the low temperature, it is surprising just how little liquid is lost.

This is what the brisket looks like just out of the bag, but before the sear. Still not really too appetizing looking.

Salt-crusted and seared for all that Maillard reaction yumminess. Now we're getting somewhere.
A broiler and cast iron pan perform the role excellently. I have used a propane torch on other smaller meats with good results, too.

Now, if any of you are still clinging to the myth about searing meat seals in juices, let me disabuse you of that nonsense right now. The vapor pressure of evaporating water at cooking temperatures is way too high for anything like organic tissues to hold back.

Steamy, sliced, meaty goodness, just waiting to be devoured. You have no idea how hard it was to be patient and take pictures.

Breakfast is finally served.

But how was it? Excellent texture and juiciness, great crust from the sear, and just excellent flavor. Easily the best brisket I ever had. The next three pictures demonstrate it best.

That's right, fork tender. And juicy! I could still slice the brisket as thinly as my kitchen knife would bite, too. So the meat was not falling apart, yet still super tender. I don't think any cooking process can even come close.

The next step will be a hybrid process with a dry rub, two hours of cold and hot smoke before vac-packing, sous vide bath, and then sear over mesquite. I'll let you know how that goes.

It may seem like a lot of money and time just for a cut of meat. But if you like to eat meat, you seriously owe it to yourself to at least experience some meat that has been cooked sous vide. It is a singular, exceptional experience. Most importantly for me, though, the results are readily reproducible and repeatable.

SharePoint 2010 Standalone Install

In a word: don't. Here's another word: ever.

The standalone install shouldn't even be used for proof of concept. Because you just know how these POCs end up getting pressed into production. The only way to expand beyond the original single standalone server is to reformat. Don't believe me? Go ahead, give it a try.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Continental Touring Plus Tires

These tires pretty much suck. They feel like a brake is dragging or riding through mud. Oh, sure, they seem to be quite bulletproof, but so do Continental Gatorskins. The road feel is lacking in the extreme. The tires are so bad that I lose about 2 to 2.5 MPH over the same course. That is a lot.

Lest you think it is the bicycle, I put my 25mm Gatorskins on this bike and got back my 2.5 MPH average.

I have used Schwalbe Marathons and they were reasonably bulletproof, but with even less road feel. I think the Touring Plus compare favorably with the Marathons. As in: they both suck.

If you need absolutely bulletproof and don't care about losing 2 MPH and accelerating like a constipated turd, these are probably a decent tire. Otherwise, there are better choices.

Pressure Cooker Ribs

Ribs should only be cooked on a smoker. Anything else is blasphemous. But, being an engineer and a slave to scientific method, I am compelled to resort to something resembling an empirical exercise.

I received a pressure cooker for Christmas from Rose and it is categorically awesome. If you cook and don’t yet have a pressure cooker, you seriously owe it to yourself to get one. Bigger is mostly better.

For the first part of my experiment, I decided to step far outside my usual method. This round was two racks of baby back ribs, to be finished with an Asian glaze.

First I remove the back membrane from the ribs. Sorry, no picture. Then I liberally doused with kosher salt and pepper, and put under the broiler until nicely seared.

Then I sliced the ribs into sections of three to four bones. Into the pressure cooker they went, with the trivet and basket keeping them well out of the water. An 8-quart cooker fits two racks of baby back ribs perfectly.

If you boil your ribs, STOP! You seriously don’t deserve ribs if you boil them. Step away from the ribs and go buy the pre-cooked crap in the meat department at your big name chain grocery whore. Why? Many of the flavors of meat are water soluble (beef/pork/chicken broth, anyone?). By boiling your ribs, you leave the meat flavor in the water. And if someone offers you boiled ribs, you know they are a total amateur, meat-wrecking douchebag.

The ribs pressure cooked for 40 minutes. I did a quick steam release, but not cold water release. Whoa.

The ribs were completely fall-off-the-bone, yet still very meaty tasting. No boiling effect. The “water” level rose in the pot a little bit, and the ribs that were in the broth were noticeably lacking in taste. Starting water level is definitely a concern, then.

I then glazed the ribs with a mixture of:

  • Sesame oil
  • Minced onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Molasses
  • Five spice
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Cayenne pepper (copious volumes thereof)
  • Miso

Sorry I don’t have proportions. But I have found that if I taste the mixture and it tastes very strong, yet good, it will be a good glaze. So there.

I brushed the ribs with glaze, sprinkled with a little brown sugar, and put under the broiler. When the ribs started to bubble, I brushed them and sprinkled again, and broiled them until the glaze caramelized.

Totally perfect.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Death to Bike Thieves

I have a hypothesis. It is not popular among those to whom I present it, and it even goes against some of my own principles.

Here goes...

The death penalty is wrong. Basically: killing is wrong. Who can disagree with that? A convicted criminal is in custody; what does society gain by putting that criminal to death? What is morally gained by putting a contained criminal to death? Right, nothing. If you are defending yourself from a violation of your rights, there is no limit to the amount of force allowable in the face of an initiation of violence. In some states, this is actually codified by law.

The use of deadly force in self-defense is not debatable, but I personally believe than an initiation of force is answerable by only an unmeasured response. Anything less is your initiative and your own ass. Again, all debatable, but my opinion has been stated as such.

But a bicycle thief is something else. Consider someone who exclusively rides a bicycle. This person either rides because of a principle (such as environmental concern, personal improvement, congestion reduction, et al.).  Or maybe this cyclist rides because of a DUI/DUII; in the latter case, the former still applies.  Anyway you slice it, a bike thief is someone who undermines these principles in other people and thereby strives to undermine society.

The only moral response to such asocial behavior is extreme prejudice. Are we going to imprison a bike thief forever? Probably not. But a person that steals a bike is initiating force against all that is good in society. And an initiation of force is only answerable by unmeasured violence. Anything less is your call and your own ass.

If you're okay with people stealing your bike, then just keep laying down. But don't just look away while other people's bikes get stolen. Ask questions, call the police, stand up, pull out your bike lock, unleash whoopass.

Once evil rears its head, its continued existence is dependent strictly on the  permission of righteous people who refuse to resist.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

2012 Salsa Fargo

The frame is cushy, but rigid enough for loaded touring. Equipped with a Salsa Downunder front rack and a Wanderlust rear rack, I can easily carry about 70 pounds of gear in Ortlieb panniers. There is noticeable lateral flex under full load, but nothing drastic. I had a Burley Vagabond that flexed just as much under similar loads. Even with 25mm Continental Gatorskins inflated to 110 PSI, the ride is smooth and comfortable even over the worst pavement.

I had to change out the handlebars and stem. The stock Woodchippers were too narrow for me, so much so that I was getting serious cramps between the shoulder blades. This was a drastic pain that I had never experienced heretofore on any bicycle. If I could have stayed on the flared drops, I would have been fine. I changed to a Salsa Bell Lap; I wanted a Salsa Cow Bell, but I found a really killer price on the Bell Lap. I have a Bell Lap on my SU200 and I am satisfied with these bars. Despite a 550mm effective top tube, the Fargo felt short in reach to me. I switched to a 110mm road stem. The combo gives me a decent reach, with options of sitting up or kinda stretching out. With the deep drops of the Bell Lap, I can duck out of head winds to a reasonable degree.

I also changed out the Thudbuster seatpost for a rigid Kona post. The Thudbuster allowed for remaining seated over the worst that Portland has to offer, but the flex really interfered with getting a good spin. Above 120 RPM, the elastomer would allow my hips to bounce. Yes, I know that is because of my bad form.

The drastic slope on the downtube makes for easy starts and dismounts when fully loaded, but presents other issues. The frame is too small to fit two water bottles. I can barely fit a 27 ounce bottle on the downtube, but can’t fit any bottle on the seat tube mounts.

I put on 42mm Continental Tour tires. These tires suck. They feel like a brake is dragging. At first I thought it might have been the bike. I was averaging 15.5 MPH on my commute on my usual commuter. I average 12.5 on the Fargo. Putting 25mm Gatorskins on the wheels gets my average commute speed back up to 15.5. That’s a pretty drastic difference just because of tires.

The FSA mountain double crankset leaves a lot to be desired. It isn’t low enough and it isn’t high enough. The 10-speed drivetrain is annoying because it hard to match a crankset to the rest of the mechs. It’s enough to make me go back to 8-speed triple. And I just might with this bike. If I did it again, I would have built my Fargo from scratch. When road hydraulic levers come out, I will be rejiggering the drivetrain with 8- or 9-speed triple, a 165mm crankarm, and aiming for an 18 gear-inch low.

I have descended fully loaded on some serious grades and the bike is sure-footed without any signs of shimmy. The handling is impeccable, faultless, and balanced: hands-on, hands-off, pleasantly nimble for urban commuting, and stable under load and speed. The stays are long enough to fit my enormous clodhoppers with my Ortlieb Backroller Classic panniers. I did install a set of Ortlieb Office Large with QL3 mounts. Those actually required a little tweaking to accommodate my feet, but that is exactly what the QL3 system is designed to do.

I love my Fargo and think that it is a very decent replacement for my SU200. The two are very similar bikes, but different enough to keep them both. The Fargo is a more capable touring and off-road bicycle; the SU is a more capable, but much less comfortable commuter. If you can only have one bike, the Fargo would be a good candidate. Like an SU, the Fargo can do just about everything and do it quite capably.


  • Small frame doesn’t fit water bottles
  • Stock gear range is not low enough and not high enough
  • Some fork braze-ons conflict with front rack Fender conflicts with disc brakes, but that is SOP with disc brake bikes
  • Super comfortable
  • Adroit handling
  • Plenty rigid unloaded; comfortably compliant when loaded
  • Rigid enough for fully loaded touring
  • Extremely versatile 
  • Braze-ons everywhere  
Edit: If you want to run fenders, Planet Bike Cascadia 29ers are the only fenders to use. I tried Planet Bike Hardcore, and those were wholly inadequate. The 29er model is excellent. The front standoff interferes with using a front pannier, but some finagling can take care of that.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fuckin-A, Buffy!

I got this from Cyclicious. Richard Masoner is, in fact, the funky shit.