May 2009

A Tale of two Quiches

On the left, Liz’ Self-Crusting Corn Quiche (thanks, Stuart, appreciated) and on the right, Brigid’s Bacon Cheddar Quiche.

Two quiches, because we have a vegetarian in the family.

For the corn quiche, I used two mielies, microwaved for a few minutes. I also nuked the potatoes at the same time. Next time, I’ll caramelise the onion (make that “onions” — I’ll use two).

Of course, I can’t improve on Brigid’s recipe, what’s to improve on a recipe that uses a pound of bacon and a cup of cream? (I don’t know where to get half-and-half. I had cream left over. So there. Deal with it, arteries, deal). The crust is commercial puff pastry, and it works well.

Chicken soup with a soul

A.K.A. Mexican Chili, lime and chicken soup, straight from Lex Culinaria.

A while ago (actually, months ago) I cooked up a pot of chicken stock. I’d saved the leftover bones and bits from braai-ed marinaded flat chickens, three of them. Flat chickens are cheap and lekker, and the leftover bits make great stock.

I defrosted the pot (yea, I stuck the whole pot in the freezer, I was out of containers…) of stock, used it for the mushroom soup. There was about a litre left over, so last night I tried Lex’ recipe.

And it rocks.

A while ago (actually, months ago) I bought a polystyrene tray of mixed chillies. Yes, I stuck it in the freezer too. Gotta love a deep freeze. Out of this I pulled what looks a bit like a pimento, but completely round, and a little yellow triangular thing which looks a bit like a Santa Fe, but which might be Praire Fire, according to Chile Head. Gads, I need a book on identifying chillies. I also bought, last weekend, a long yellow something that tastes more like a sweet pepper than a chilli. Anyway, used half of one, half of the other, and the whole yellow thing, because Tanya also wanted some soup, and she’s not as accustomed to the hot stuff as I am. Removed the pips, of course.

For the rest, pretty much followed the recipe.

Now I need to try to propagate chillies from once frozen seeds. Because I really liked the taste of this mix.

Soup evening

We invited some people over, and with winter fast setting in, soup was on the menu.

Tanya felt like a mushroom soup, and I thought to make Irish Potato Soup with Bacon and Vegetables again (I found some more leftover turkey stock, yay!). But then Viv (visitor from PE) suggested three bean soup. So I climbed into the pantry cupboard and emerged with butter beans, small white beans, black eye beans, red speckled beans, and fava beans. OK, five bean soup then.

Viv having fun.

I made a mushroom soup recipe from RecipeZaar, using brown, portbellini and button mushrooms, and it was good. I also had lots of mushrooms left over, supper tonight is Mushroom Bourguignon (which I’ve made before — highly recommended).

Fun with a Cisco 1600

(Long geeky post alert. You probably don’t want to read this unless your Cisco is dead and you got here via google or something).

A number of years ago (May 2005, to be exact) Tanya’s Cisco 1600 (diginet leased-line router) went funny after a power outage. I pulled in a favour, got a friend of a friend who works with these things to look at it — but he couldn’t fix it.

After much googling* I learnt that there’s a “cookie” in Non-Volatile RAM (NVRAM) which very few people know about since it’s factory-set. If NVRAM is wiped, you have a problem. You need to connect to the Cisco using the right kind of cable, a terminal program, and 9600,N,8,1.

If your cookie is cleared, no problem. If it is corrupt, though, you will need to calculate the password to be able to change the corrupted bits.

System Bootstrap, Version 11.1(7)AX [kuong (7)AX], EARLY DEPLOYMENT RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc2)
Copyright (c) 1994-1996 by cisco Systems, Inc.
First location in NVRAM fails ... cannot size NVRAM
Warning: monitor nvram area is corrupt ... using default values
Bad checksum on cookie structure, resorting to backup copy
Warning: Cookie information is corrupt
environment write to NVRAM failed
C1600 processor with 2048 Kbytes of main memory
(Here I hit Ctrl-Break)
monitor: command "boot" aborted due to user interrupt
rommon 1 > cookie
Bad checksum on cookie structure, resorting to backup copy
Warning: Cookie information is corrupt
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
rommon 2 > priv
Password: (This would be 0000 for the above cookie, otherwise you need to calculate it)
Bad checksum on cookie structure, resorting to backup copy
Warning: Cookie information is corrupt
You now have access to the full set of monitor commands.
Warning: some commands will allow you to destroy your
configuration and/or system images and could render
the machine unbootable.
rommon 3 > cookie

View/alter bytes of serial cookie by field --
Input hex byte(s) or: CR -> skip field; ? -> list values
interfaces soc 0: 00    (unknown)
                > 01

vendor: 00    (unknown)
      > 01

ethernet Hw address: 00 00 00 00 00 00
                   > d5 aa 96 de aa eb (Anybody recognise this?)

processor: 00    (PAN)
         > 09

Hw rework: 00 00 00 00
         > 00 00 00 01

interfaces soc 1: 00    (unknown)
                > 02

unused 1: 00 00
        > 00 00

BCD-packed 8-digit serial #: 00 00 00 00
                           > 00 0d 8c f3

unused 2: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

capabilities (future): 00 00

cookie version #: 00
                > 01

Now, you should be able to

rommon 4 > sync
rommon 5 > boot
program load complete, entry point: 0x4018060, size: 0x1da950

But instead what happened was

rommon 4 > sync
environment write to NVRAM failed

So I pulled the cover, found the 28HC64 8k x 8 CMOS EEPROM, bought a new EEPROM and a socket from Communica, performed the appropriate transplant, and all is now well.

Now here’s where a bit of black magic slips in. I had to do this the previous time, and after much struggling I found that I also had to do it this time. And I have no idea where this information comes from, but it’s in my notes from 2005.

The first time the router boots up, go

> enable
# configure terminal
(config)# config-register 0x2142
(config)# end
# write
# reload

And then repeat with the original 0x2102 value. Then proceed to configure the router. I didn’t do this, and all was well, except that the configuration interface would not accept “ip route” commands, and of course the router wouldn’t. Route, that is.

There. Now you know as much as I do. Ask if you need to know how to actually configure the router.

* Actually, “googling” is rather generic since I found this page via altavista, not google.

Thunderbolts and lightning!

We don’t get thunderstorms all that often in Cape Town. This morning was the exception. Lots and lots of thunder and lightning, catching all the weather predictions off guard.

And the sunrise was amazing.

Sunday at home

Last Sunday I decided that I had to get my lazy bum in gear and finish the kitchen wiring.

Before and after. I built a 3 way multiplug into the appliance garage so we can leave the stuff plugged in, just pull it out to use it.

The plugpoint on the left is special. I originally bought it to use it in the bathroom, because hair dryers etc often have two pin plugs. But Tanya’s hair dryer has the “euro” connector that doesn’t fit into that socket. So I swapped a single socket into the bathroom and put this one here so that I can plug the wall-wart to charge the bamix.

All of this took longer than expected, and since I had been monopolising the kitchen the munchkins were hungry.

So Tamsyn made french toast. Using three eggs per person, so we had scrambled egg afterwards :-)

And we started a batch of ice cream but that will be the subject of another post.

Supper was my stoo on the left and vegetarian parsnip stew on the right. Both were great.

My prophet spoke to me today…

I’ve been lax. Living the good life. Not working on the house like I should.

On the one side, day-to-day life interferes. Cooking and cleaning and watching House and Leverage and Inkheart. Hey, I earned it, working on the house for the past year-and-a-bit.

On the other side, I’m lazy. And the credits I built up, working on the house for the past year-and-a-bit, are pretty much spent.

So I need to get my arse in gear.

And my guru Bob Hoover is on exactly the same wavelength, today.

Here it is: Do something every day. That is, something leading toward the completion of whatever it is you’re trying to do, such as building a house, overhauling an antique car, building an airplane from scratch… It doesn’t matter what you’re building. Or rather, trying to build. The secret of success is to do something every single day. It doesn’t matter what it is… drilling a single hole, setting a single rivet or whatever, what matters is that you Do It! Every day. No exceptions nor excuses.

Here’s why it works: Every project has a finite number of steps. If you do even one of those steps every day you will eventually run out of things to do; the project will be finished.

No, you can’t make bargains with yourself, such as promising to do five things next Saturday instead of one thing every night for the coming week. That’s not allowed. You have to do something every single day.

What you’re doing here is developing the habit of doing something every day.

Yeah, it sounds kinda wacky. But it works.

Yes Sir, Mr Hoover, I’ll get on to it right away.

(I did do some wiring over the weekend (added two plug points to the kitchen, and let me tell you, it was a lot more work than I anticipated) and I’ve made a start on the kitchen kick plates — because I know there’s only one way to get something done and that’s to actually do it.)

Quote of the day

You know what the worst thing is about the internet? It gives you concrete proof that your fellow citizens are as ignorant as you’ve secretly suspected they were all along…



I’ve made this recipe for “Irish Potato Soup with Bacon and Vegetables” before, and it was great, but the one I made last night possessed some serious nom.

It all started with a R9.99 soup pack from the Fruit & Veg. For those not in the know, this is a styrofoam package containing one onion, one potato, two carrots, one leek, one turnip, one tomato, and a whole bunch of parsley and celery. I think they make quite a good profit on it, but… it’s convenient.

Dragged out my recipe file, found this recipe, made it my way (I hate dirtying more than one pot, thence the sequence).

Fry half a packet of bacon in a black pot until very crispy. And I mean very. Remove bacon.

Fry one diced onion and one leek, cut lengthwise and sliced, in bacon fat. Add some white wine (I used italian bubbly, because it’s too sweet to drink and I didn’t want to waste it) to deglaze the pot. Add a heaped teaspoon “spicy” curry powder. Wait for wine to cook away, remove mix from pot.

Fry about 8 potatoes, diced, two carrots, sliced, and one turnip, diced.

Now this is where the magic started. Last Christmas, I brined a turkey in apple vinegar. This was not that great a success at the time, although the vinegary meat was damngood on sandwiches. I (as always) cooked stock using the leftover bits, and I still had about 500ml of this stock left over. That went into the soup.

I also collect vegetable leftovers into a container, cook stock now and then. I used about 200ml of my last batch of vegetable stock.

And then I just simmered all of this for around an hour, mushing some of it with a potato masher about three quarters through the process.

When I tasted this it was a bit thin, so I added five drops of fish sauce (!) and some garlic salt.

Then the onions went back in, I added 2/3 of a container of cream (left over from a previous recipe) and of course the bacon went in when serving. Didn’t bother with the nutmeg or spring onions.

Some serious nomming of soup and garlic ciabbatas (also from Fruit & Veg) ensued.

Today, I’m poaching a chicken… hafta use the left-over celery.