Raised Vegetable Garden

It's been a joy and truly a labor of love piecing our raised bed garden together. We learnt a lot from our last/first attempt at gardening and this time we were better planned.

The Best Pizza Dough

We got a bit tired of our whole wheat pizza dough I think we got too accustomed to it and decided it needed some tweaking.

US Road trips

We've made a few road trips around the US. There's a lot to see here and a lot of distance to cover. Here are some of our trips on the east coast.


Panama's carnival celebration in Panama City are supposed to be the second largest in the world. Enjoyed this big party with fantastic street food, dozens of stages and loud music blaring at every corner.


Canada has some of the most beautiful sceneries and landscapes. I hope to drive across to the West coast some day but till then here's a glimpse of Toronto and beyond.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

How to cook the perfect roast (roast beef)

After looking up some beef roast recipes, I decided the best way forward was to improvise with the ingredients at home. It turned out to be just fantastic and worth noting.

How to cook the perfect roast (roast beef)

  • 2.4 kg of Top Sirloin beef
  • 4 cloves of coarsely chopped garlic
  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • One lemon
  • Sharpen your knife as you will need to smoothly slice the beef and open it out as much as possible into one long slab of meat. Hint: Cut the meat if you were cutting along the spiral of a Nussschnecke pastry.
  • You should be able to roll the meat back into the original shape.  
  • Now that you have a flat slab of beef, season with salt and pepper. 
  • Line with bacon and season with chopped garlic, cayenne pepper and thyme.
  • Now carefully roll back the slab of meat and tie with cooking twine.You want to keep it tight to keep the juices in while cooking.
  • Pour the juice of a lemon over the meat.
  • Preheat the oven to 500 F. You want the oven spanking hot so as to sear the meat.
  • Place the beef roll in a baking tray and place uncovered in the oven at 500 F for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 F and cook for 2 hours 45 minutes.
  • Cover the meat for the last hour of baking.
  • Let it cool for about 15 minutes before you serve.

Inside Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

You can spend a whole day inside the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple also know as Meenakshi Amman Temple. Definitely try and get a guide as there is a wealth of information in this Hindu temple located on the southern banks of river Vaigai in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India .

The temple is dedicated to Parvati who is known as Meenakshi and her consort, Shiva, named here as Sundareswarar. The temple is an integral part of the 2500 year old city of Madurai. There are 14 gateway towers called gopurams, the tallest being the southern tower, two golden sculptured vimana and the shrine over sanctum of the main deities.

Here's a glimpse of the  Meenakshi Amman Temple.
Oil lamps

Kids preparing the offerings

One of the corridors in this huge temple

The holy elephant

The main hall in Meenakshi Amman Temple

Planning a trip through Tamil Nadu

Friday, September 21, 2012

Gordon Ramsay Rabbit Fricassee with Tagliatelli

Here is my version of Gordon Ramsay's Rabbit Fricassee with Tagliatelli. Instead of Tagliatelli, Tortiglinoni makes a decent alternative. We used our home grown Parsley and Thyme which was so rich in flavor. Turned out really delicious!

Rabbit Fricassee with Tortiglinoni

  • Rabbit
  • Mushrooms
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 18% Cream
  • Tortellini pasta.
Gordon Ramsay Rabbit Fricassee with Tagliatelli
  • Watch Gordon's video below.

Rabbit Fricassee with Tagliatelli - Gordon Ramsay

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Growing Herbs

When we planted herbs a few months ago I never expected them to grow so fast. Our three herbs, Thyme, Mint and Parsley have really grown well. 

You can read about the Garden Makeover and our Česká hospoda table where we converted a stone patio to this lovely garden. Still a long way to go before it is complete. 

Thyme, Parsley and Mint

Our roses bloom after 5 months having replanted it twice till it found it's happy place.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jamie Oliver's fish tray-bake with Jersey Royals, salsa verde and simple spinach salad

Just tried out Jamie Oliver's fish tray-bake with Jersey Royals, Salsa Verde and simple spinach salad and I have to say this was truly bliss!
Jamie Oliver's fish tray-bake with Jersey Royals, salsa verde and simple spinach salad

For the recipe watch Jamie's 30-Minute Meals | Series 1 | Episode 22 | Fish Tray Bake

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Book Live - Configure your MyBookLive NAS

Here are some quick steps to save you time setting up your MyBookLive NAS.

Before you proceed, make sure you have the latest and greatest release.

Login to the GUI  http://mybooklive/

Alternately if you have modified the hostname then http://{NAS IP/hostname}

Click on Settings > System > Updates > Check for Update and install the latest release

MyBookLive 02.11.09-053 : Core F/W Release notes

Setup/Configure your Twonky media server:
If you haven't modified your MyBookLive hostname, The Twonky media server configuration URL is http://mybooklive:9000/

Alternately if you have modified the hostname then http://{NAS IP/hostname}:9000/

The interface is pretty simple and kind of self explainatory..

Enable mobile access to your mybooklive:

WD2go seems like the best app out there that works well with the iPhone 4 and Android devices. You can download it from the App store or Play store respectively

You will need to enable mobile access and add access by generating an access code.

Click on Settings > Remote Access > Mobile Access > Add Access

Enable SSH access to MyBookLive:

On the GUI, click on Settings > Utilities > Import / Export Current Configuration

Export the current configuration, open the file in notepad/text editor, find the line that says: ssh_enable="disabled",  and change it to ssh_enable="enabled". Save the file

Now click on Settings > Utilities > Import / Export Current Configuration and import the file you have just modified.  Mybooklive will reboot with SSH enabled.

SSH credentials are
username: root
default password: welc0me

Fix the Load Cycle Count problem:

Chances are you might have the load cycle problem on your mybook. This is caused by the Itellipark feature that's kind of erratic on linux/unix systems. This constant parking of the heads could reduce the life of your disk. Time will tell if this really is the cause of many NAS drives popping but if you'd like to walk uncharted territory here's a way you can disable this feature.

Firstly here's how you can check your count. My count has already jumped to 8427 in less than 2 weeks.

# smartctl -A /dev/sda | grep "^193"
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   198   198   000    Old_age   Always       -       8427

Download idle3 to disable the load cycle count
# wget http://mybookworld.wikidot.com/local--files/mybook-live/idle3ctl.tar.gz

# tar zxvf idle3ctl.tar.gz
# ./idle3ctl -d /dev/sda
Idle3 timer disabled

Replace UPnP Twonky with the faster more efficient  UPnP MediaTomb: 

First you need to stop twonky and prevent it from starting up on reboot

#/etc/init.d/twonky stop
Stopping Twonky MediaServer ...

#mv twonky /root/

Install Mediatomb

# /opt/bin/ipkg install mediatomb

#/opt/etc/init.d/S90mediatomb start
mediatomb startup is disabled in /opt/etc/default/mediatomb

If you get this error, modify /opt/etc/default/mediatomb and set MT_ENABLE=true

# /opt/etc/init.d/S90mediatomb
Starting mediatomb: ok

Mediatomb will now run on http://mybooklive:50500/

Be prepared to tweak the config file /opt/etc/mediatomb/config.xml for your specific needs.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Main Street Markham Auto Classic | Classic Car Show

Spent a lovely late morning on Main Street Markham drooling at classic muscle cars. A great way to spend a lazy Sunday.
A line up of Corvettes from the 60s to the 90s

Sheer muscle under the hood

The amazing Pontiac GTO coupe
Just loved the level of detail on this car. Took a while to take it all in.

Strawberry and Pear Pie

For the Strawberry and Pear Pie, I used the same recipe as my Apple and Pumpkin Pie and just replaced the fruit.
Freshly chopped Strawberries and Pears.

- The dough:
  • 3 cups flour;
  • 2  Tbsp sugar;
  • 3/4 tsp salt;
  • 3/4 cup butter;
  • 3/4 cup water;
- The filling:
  • 2 boxes of strawberries; ~ 900 gms
  • 3 finely chopped pears;
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch;
  • 1/2 cup sugar;
  • 2 tsp lemon juice;
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon;
- Glaze
  • milk;
  • sugar.
Making the crust topping
  • In a bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Slice butter into thin slices and add to the bowl along with a little water.
  • Once the dough is ready, divide into 2 parts - large and small. The larger part becomes the outer crust and the smaller the topping.
  • Roll the dough for the crust and place into a greased mold.
  • Roll the smaller topping out as well and cut into thin slices.
  • Keep both placed in the fridge.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Chop the strawberries and pears into small pieces and put them into a bowl.
  • Stir in cinnamon, pour some lemon juice.
  • Preheat oven to 200 ° C (400 ° F).
  • In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with sugar and then add to the mix of   strawberries and pears and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  • Place in the crust and fix the crust topping. Brush with milk and sugar.
  • Place on the middle rack in the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 190 ° C (375 F) and bake for approx 40 minutes.
  • Before serving, let it cool for 30-60 minutes.
Strawberry and Pear Pie

Trout baked in Foil with Lemon, Thyme and Garlic

Place the Thyme, Lemon, Garlic, and Onions
  • 2 rainbow trouts; 1.4 kg
  • 1 lemon;
  • 1 onion;
  • 4 sprigs of thyme;
  • 4 cloves of garlic;
  • 4 tablespoons apple juice;
  • salt, pepper.

  • Wash the fish, pat dry and place on aluminum foil. Use a separate foil for each trout.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cut slices of lemon and place inside each trout along with springs of  thyme and garlic.
  • Slice the onion into rings and place on top of the trout.
  • Pour some apple juice on the trout.
  • Close the film to seal the fish so the juices stay inside..
  • Bake in preheated oven (200 ° C) for about 20 minutes.
Trout baked in Foil with Lemon, Thyme and Garlic

Couscous with Butter Garlic Shrimps

Dinner in literally 5 minutes! Couscous, a North African Berber dish of semolina is real easy to put together. We used some of our home grown fresh Parsley from our herb garden. It's such a pleasure to pick your home grown herbs.

Couscous Salad Ingredients:-
6 diced tomatoes
1 onion
500 gm Couscous
2 lemons
Bunch of parsley.
Olive oil

Fry some shrimps with butter and garlic and serve with Couscous salad

Couscous with Butter Garlic Shrimps

Monday, September 03, 2012

Wine tasting at Niagara on the Lake

Distance: 340 Km.

Length: 3 days.

Labour Day sprung upon us. It also happened to be the best time of year with temperatures in the mid 20s. It was the perfect opportunity to head down to Niagara on the Lake to sample some of their local wine. We headed down with our friends once again and had one of the best weekends so far in Canada.

There are plenty of wine tours at Niagara on the Lake. This region is also rather flat that makes it perfect for biking. Wine tasting with a bit of effort makes it so much better.

Ice wine is famous in this region and can give you a major head rush! If not for the drive down, I'd make this part of my weekly exercise routine :)

The previous day, We rambled around Niagara Falls and caught wire-walker Jay Cochrane's doing one of his 80 Sky-walks at Niagara Falls
The Four of us at Niagara on the Lake

At the wineries of Niagara on the Lake

Riding in a straight line got  tougher with every glass of wine!

Wire-walker Jay Cochrane's 80 Sky-walks at Niagara Falls

Distance: 340 Km.

Length: 3 days.

We headed down to Niagara for the Labour day weekend. We'd spend a day at Niagara Falls before heading to Niagara on the Lake for a winery tour.

Once again without prior planning we got lucky to be on the right street at the right time and see the amazing wirewalker Jay Cochrane walking one of his 80 sky-walks he plans on doing this summer at Niagara Falls. The 68-year-old from Sudbury walked a 400 meter wire strung between the Skylon Tower and the Hilton hotel.

Wire walker Jay Cochrane walking one of his 80 skywalks!

We went for the Journey Behind the Falls which I thought was better than Maid of the Mist. At least for photographers. Can't wait for some more extreme attractions at the falls. Finally dinner, drinks and to the Casino.

At the gardens at Niagara Falls

The American Falls