March 2015

Viewing posts from March , 2015

Weekend Cooking: Air-fried Peri-peri Wings

Yeah you read it right: air-fried.  The other day I put my Philips HD 9220 airfryer up for sale via the Preloved group on Facebook, since I’ve had it for years and only used it less than 5 times. When one of the potential buyers asked me to test it to see if it still works, I tested it on some French fries, and after some thought I decided to keep the airfryer after all.

I personally find air-fried chicken to be much juicier than deep fried ones, and with just a drizzle of oil it can be just as crispy.  This time I decided to try making some spicy wings to see if it is just as good as the regular deep fried ones. These turned out great.  Just be careful with your cooking time; undercooking chicken is definitely not a good idea, but overcooking will result in pretty tough meat.

Yay for yummy, healthy (or healthiER, rather?) food!

Read More

Weekend Cooking: Mac and Cheese

I wanted something to go with the peri-peri wings I made yesterday, and decided on a comfort food classic – mac and cheese.  I’ve tried all sorts of recipes before, and honestly not a single one of them blew my mind, even though they were generally good.  This time I based my recipe on the one on Epicurious, and while I find the crusty topping a good complement to the creamy pasta, the taste was still not mind blowing.  Maybe I need to use better quality cheddar, or maybe it’s the seasoning.  I’ll need to keep experimenting to find out.

Read More

Weekend Cooking: Smoked Duck Risotto

So recently Merv managed to score some smoked duck for me (thanks so much, Merv!), so I began hunting for ideas on what the heck to do with them.  I had quite a few options, including pasta, pizza, risotto, and gumbo, but I decided to start with risotto, since both using smoked duck and making risotto would be a first for me.  I’m quite fascinated by how risotto is made; by dousing the rice gradually with liquid, instead of the usual way of cooking rice which is to just throw all the water in and let it sit.

The risotto turned out great, rich with the flavors of the mushroom and Parmesan, and was excellent when paired with the duck.  My only note to self is to make thinner slices next time.  Definitely going to make again.

Read More

Weekend Cooking: Roast Duck with Bubble and Squeak and Stir-Fried Vegetables

For Chinese New Year, Tesco started stocking some frozen duck, so I decided to pick one up and try roasting my own.  I ended up trying out a recipe by Jamie Oliver instead of the usual Asian-style roast duck, but the results were really satisfying.  Duck meat stays so moist and tender even roasting for a long time in the oven, and the duck fat we get in the process is great for roasting potatoes later.

Now that CNY is over, I need to figure out other places to get my duck from.

Read More

The terrible HDMI circuit

(Had this drafted months ago, but thought it would be pointless. Recently though, my sound bar / AVR somehow reset all its settings and I had to figure out how the wiring goes again. After sorting everything out, I thought I should make a record just in case I forget again :P)

#Start of First Draft

Recently acquired a new TV to replace the 9 year old Sammie. Full HD and 3D goodness, finally!

With every new purchase however, there would be some work involved. All those cables on the existing devices will need to be rerouted or removed. And you need to figure out the limitations with the various equipment to try to get the most out of them without having to spend even more money upgrading them.

So TV arrived the same day of purchase (thanks Sony!), and first thing to do was to move the HDMI inputs from the switch onto the TV. We wouldn’t want to lose any resolution or colour along the way. Also had to buy a digital optical cable to route audio from the TV to the AVR (just a sound bar).

Tested the gaming consoles, and Astro, and so far so good. But wait, we’re not getting complete audio from the HTPC. One whole night of troubleshooting revealed that I couldn’t passthrough DTS audio to the TV, because the TV can only send out Dolby Digital through its optical output. The workaround for this was to get another digital optical cable so that I can connect my HDMI switch (which supports ARC) directly to the AVR. The HTPC then connects to the switch as an input, and the output goes to the TV. The TV will then send back the audio signal to the switch via ARC, and this gets routed over to the AVR via optical cable. Sounds convoluted doesn’t it? Surprisingly, the TV supports DTS via ARC, but not via optical. On the other hand, it might just be the audio feed directly from the HTPC to the AVR. I had spent another night trying to figure this part out, cuz it wouldn’t work for some reason.

#End of First Draft

So here we are in 2015 to continue this post. ARC is the feature that’s working here because the only input connections that the AVR are getting are digital optical ones.

Another use for the switcher is to route the legacy devices to the TV via HDMI. This part gets kind of interesting. The DVD player and PS2 do not have HDMI outputs, so they were originally connected to the AVR via RCA or Coaxial inputs. Now that the AVR no longer outputs HDMI to the TV, I connected it to the HDMI Switch instead. So whenever I need to use the DVD player or the PS2, which I rarely do, I just had to switch inputs on the Switch.

Then, somewhere along the way, we decided to try making the HTPC into a karaoke player. For karaoke, we need to use a separate karaoke amp and speakers instead of the AVR. We originally used this karaoke audio system separately using a laptop connected via a stereo jack, and ran Karafun on the laptop for song queuing and Windows Search for the library. Now that we wanted to connect to it via the NUC, which only supports HDMI or DisplayPort, we needed to somehow convert the HDMI audio to RCA. So we had to buy a HDMI splitter that had RCA output for this.

The problem with this HDMI-to-RCA splitter is that its HDMI output would sometimes turn off for some reason. Maybe it’s a limitation of the device itself, so I went out and bought another HDMI splitter so that the original HDMI output can be split off cleanly before heading to the HDMI-to-RCA splitter. In the end, we have 2 HDMI devices between the HTPC and the AVR/karaoke amp.

Home Theater Diagram 2014


Everything’s all dandy now, except that XBMC can’t seem to handle the karaoke queueing very well. But that’s a different post for a different day.