Sunday, March 4, 2012


I mentioned last time round that I blew out my Davis Weather Station VP2 wireless console.  A new one should be here by next weekend, and I really am being held up on my alternative weather station console in the meantime.  What I need to understand is the preamble sent by the ISS before real data is sent.  I have a rough idea what this is, but there are enough permutations and combinations that just guessing my way through it would not be fun.

There is, however, other stuff to do.  But before I get in to that, here is an aside for ya.  A lot is being said these days about "Making".  Make Magazine is the poster child for the movement, and the Arduino is that child's favorite toy.  Sites like Instructables (make your own Light Saber!) and Hack A Day show you how to do stuff.  Places like Adafruit and Sparkfun are places where you can get stuff.  I remember the days of Radio Electronics and Byte magazine.  They had articles showing you how you could make a television descrambler or a taser.  But every project had at least one part that was impossilbe to buy (usually an inductor).  There was no Internet and I had no credit card, so I would mail a hand-written letter with a post office money order inside and hope for the best.  Now it is different.  Anybody can get almost anything, and almost all of it is ridiculously cheap.  An Arduino kit costs $20.  My first computer, an Apple //e, was something like $3000, and the Arduino is arguably much more powerful.  I really believe we live in a great time for stuff like this.

Case in point: item #3 on my list of goals for this year is getting  some basic home monitoring setup going.  I mentioned the plan to use some JeeNodes from JeeLabs to make this happen.  I had ordered these from Modern Device some time ago.  It was time to crack the box open and start playing with software.  There was only one problem.
Some Assembly Required
Time to break out my handy dandy Hakko FX-888 that I picked up from Solarbotics late last year.  This thing is great.  It was pretty quick work to go from that to this.
Wireless Goodness
But Making isn't always about electronics stuff.  Not to me anyway.  I want to make great food.    Try #31 of Tartine Bread, for example.  This bread has nothing in it besides flour, water, and salt, and it is fantastic.
I Love Carbohydrates
I am still searching for the perfect combination of a crispy crust and open crumb.  I now seem to be getting the crust right, but the big open holes I used to be able to get in the crumb have deserted me.  I'm baking this bread once a week now and I try a few different things each time in my search for perfection.  Once I get it, I plan to put up a page on this blog that will basically serve as "Tartine Bread: The Missing Manual."  While Chad Robertson has written a fine book, it is sufficiently vague in enough spots to leave a bread-baking noob like me up shit creek.  I hope to fix that.

Try #31 got served along with a Sirloin Butt Beef Roast cooked in my Sous Vide rig for 15.5 hours at 58C.  This was honestly so good that it was unfair to anybody else who ate something today.
I Love Protein
We seasoned it very simply with kosher salt, pepper, and rosemary.  We seared it in a smoking hot cast iron pan for a minute per side to finish it off.  It was so tender it was almost falling apart, yet the texture was absolutely fantastic. You could be served this meat in any fine restaurant, after which you'd go looking for the chef to give him a big sloppy wet kiss in appreciation.

That was lunch.  And then it was time for supper.  Keeping a sourdough starter going as we do gives you a bunch of discard that you've got to use up.  So we gave these sourdough waffles from the gang at King Arthur's Flour a shot.  They were good.  Really good.  Stupid good.
I Love Waffles
A couple flavor combination I can heartily recommend:
  • Plain yogurt, Saskatoon berries, and chocolate sauce
  • Cottage cheese, bananas, and chocolate sauce
  • Pretty much anything and chocolate sauce
Not a lot of headway in the hacking department this weekend, but things got made nonetheless.  And I had a great weekend doing it.

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