Fatherhood, Food & Cooking, Man Matter

Enhancing your rice #1 (Non-halal)

I love to cook and I love to experiment with food. So I’m always looking for new ingredients and recipes to try & perfect, like the 24-hours super juicy roost chicken by Heston Blumenthal.

This is a new series of food hack/recipes that I’ve done at home which I’m sharing to cater for men & women who are too busy to cook a decent meal but still wants to enhance what they can get with limited ingredients and limited time. More importantly, it’s cooked at home so you control the quality & nutritional value.

You will see many of the ingredients are being reused & remixed so you do not have to spend time looking for them but at times, the mix of ingredients may seem bonkers and that’s the whole point. Doing something special to surprise your loved ones and delighting their taste buds.

There’re only a few condiments/spices that I frequently use which I’d reveal over the series but rest assure I’d keep reusing/revisiting the same taste so the ingredient don’t go bad from disuse. Most of the ingredients I use are of higher quality but because you’d only need a little, in the long term, it’s inexpensive.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you love it as much as I do, please click the article header and find the comment section below.

Recipe #1 – Bacon Butter Rice

To kick off the series, I’m going to show you how to enhance your plain rice. Unfortunately, some of my recipes don’t have Halal equivalent (like this one,) so I’d put that in the title.

This recipe is so ridiculously simple because you simply throw all the ingredients into the rice cooker and wait. I got the idea last week when I realize my bacon is about to expire and rather than simply frying it up, I thought why not put it in the rice to give that wonderful smoky fragrance! Heavenly! I can already imagine the aroma from this special butter rice. And the best part is, it goes well with Chinese food as well!

Don’t worry, I’d explain the purpose of the ingredients so you don’t have to buy a specific brand or type. Just find the closest match, mix it up and have fun!

One last note. It’s hard to cook for 1-2 person, so most of my recipes are upsized to be stored for later consumption. It’s perfectly fine to use the microwave to reheat rice. For meat, fish & vegetable, you should consider steaming if possible.

Serving size: 8 adult portions or 6 man-sized portions

Ingredients:

  1. 1 pack of streaky bacon (you’d want more fats to make the rice smoother so back-bacon is not such a good idea & definitely don’t waste that parma ham!)
  2. 2 tablespoon of salted butter or cut about 1cm from the block (if you use unsalted butter, add about half a teaspoon of salt)
  3. All-purpose herbs (unsalted) in a shaker
  4. 4 cups of rice (Jasmine or Thai fragrant rice is best but long-grain or pearl rice should work too)

Note about the ingredients:

  1. Real Bacon has a smoky aroma that really adds a fantastic and luxurious taste to the rice. This can’t be easily replicated with Turkey Bacon or even good ham.
  2. Use REAL butter, buy what you can afford. Generally more expensive butter has more milk solids + water and thus taste more creamy. NEVER use margarine for your health’s sake.
  3. All-purpose herbs comes in a shaker form but are not cheap unless you mix it yourself. Fortunately, you don’t have to use a lot each time. However, because it’s so versatile, it’ll be used in many of my recipes! If your herb contains sea salt, use a little less salt if you find the result too salty.
  4. Most Asian get our carbohydrates from polished rice. It’s so versatile but its potential is under appreciated. I’m going to show you MANY things you can do to enhance the humble rice in future posts!

Cooking:

  1. Wash your rice once and drain. Fill it to the number 4 mark in the cooking pot.
  2. Dump the salted butter or the unsalted butter + salt into the water.
  3. Shake the herb onto the water so it covers most of the surface loosely.
  4. Stir!
  5. Cut the streaky bacon in half (meaning from 15cm slices to 7.5cm)
  6. Chuck the first half to the bottom of the rice and the other half on top, making sure it’s completely submerged.
  7. Cook the rice as per normal.

Tips:

  1. Don’t worry about the quantity of the ingredients. Adjust it to your liking. These recipes are supposed to be quick food hacks.
  2. Do not use too much herbs! The herb is there to give you a tantalizing aroma, too much and it becomes bitter. If you like a stronger smell without the bitterness, use fresh herbs!
  3. Similarly, do not use too much salt as the bacon is pretty salty already. You’d want the salt to enhance the savory sweetness (umami) but not to make the rice salty!
  4. Know your rice! Stick to what you know best. Most Japanese brand rice cookers will cook Thai Jasmine rice, Thai Fragrant rice & Japanese Pearl rice to perfection with the Plain rice program. However, different rice are cooked differently, for example, USA and China Pearl rice has a lower moisture content, meaning you need to pre-soak the rice for some time after washing and before cooking!

No nos:

  1. Do NOT use turkey bacon, ham & luncheon meat, it wouldn’t turn out as well.
  2. NEVER use margarine! It just isn’t healthy!
  3. Putting the ingredients into the rice before the water. You need a very specific amount of moisture during and after cooking as the oil & fats will drive out some of the moisture from the rice grains. You’d want a chewiness to the rice and the moisture in the rice is very important!
  4. Using Soya sauce instead of salt. I personally think the soya bean taste will dilute the smoky aroma of the bacon but I have not tested this. I just imagine the 2 together and it seems to cancel out or at least doesn’t flare wonderfully.

Well I didn’t hold anything back so you should be able to get the same taste as my family last week. Everyone loved it and I hope your family loves it too!

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Solutions

Solving Windows 8.1 Upgrade Error 0xC1900101 – 0x20017

Unsolved mystery of Windows 8.1 upgrade

As readers on my website knows, I’ve been using Windows 8.0 since the Developer Preview beta program on my Fujitsu T4210 TabletPC and I bought the license on Day one for my TabletPC.

I also bought 2 additional licenses for my desktop PC & for my wife’s laptop but I didn’t install Windows 8.0 on my desktop for quite a few months because Windows 8.0 was less keyboard/mouse friendly than Windows 7.

I did do a multi-boot for my wife so she can try Windows 8.0 if she wanted on her Fujitsu S6310 laptop or she can continue to use Windows 7 if she didn’t like Windows 8.0. Turns out she didn’t like Windows 8.0 because her laptop doesn’t have a touchscreen, which makes Windows 8.0 harder to grasp and use than it needed to be.

Before Windows 8.1 was launched, I installed Windows 8.0 on my desktop in anticipation of the much better keyboard/mouse environment in Windows 8.1.

My Fujitsu TabletPC and DIY desktop upgraded without any issues but my wife’s laptop couldn’t be upgraded. Whatever I tried, I ended up with the error 0xC1900101 – 0x20017 which indicated some kind of driver issue or hardware problem.

The symptom is always the same. It’ll install everything but during the final phase of booting up to Desktop, it’ll crash and refuse to boot, thus triggering a roll-back to Windows 8.0.

No Solutions in sight

You can find MANY threads at Microsoft forums of people who have this exact problem or something similar but few people manages to solve it.

This issue dragged on for months and months with Microsoft promising to solve it once and all in a major patch for Windows 8.0. Unfortunately, while it solved the problem for many people who has driver issues, it didn’t help my wife’s laptop.

I’ve tried different versions of drivers, including NOT installing drivers for unknown devices. I’ve tried upgrading Windows 7 using a Windows 8.1 Boot disc, which had the same issue, rendering the Windows 7 partition corrupt. I even tried to rename the Windows 7 partition as “System Reserved” because I read Windows 8 requires a separate recovery partition. Nothing worked. So my wife was stuck with 2 Windows 8.0 installation at the Boot screen but only one works.

Suffice to say my wife wasn’t too happy with the situation but since she only uses the laptop to watch TV dramas, I wasn’t in any danger of having to sleep on the sofa.

Solution came after solving an unrelated problem

Well if you read my previous post about installing Windows 8.1 without DVD or Product Key, you’d know that Microsoft recently updated their Windows 8.1 installation to handle more hardware, especially the new Ultrabooks which doesn’t have any DVD drives and all the recovery information are stored on the harddisk. So if said harddisk were to crash, like the one in the article, you must download a program from Microsoft which creates a bootable recovery disk on a USB thumbdrive or DVD disc.

After I recovered that laptop, I noticed that the Recovery disk has created 2 additional hidden “System Reserved” partitions at the front & back of the SSD besides the main System partition. Now in my wife’s laptop case, I only have the one at the back of the harddisk.

During the installation of Windows 8.0, the installer created 1 additional System Reserved folder which exceeded the maximum number of 4 allowable for a Basic Disk. In order to have more than 4 partitions, I needed to convert to a Dynamic Disk but that will create a lot of compatibility issues with harddisk and data recovery software that I have. So I opted to stick to a Basic disk and of course, Windows 8.0 couldn’t boot to continue the installation.

So I booted up to Windows 7 and ran Eason Partition Manager 8 to delete the extra partition and shifted some other partitions around. Windows 8.0 booted up fine and finished the installation after that but as a consequence, the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) now has missing and non-continuous partition numbering. I had to edit Windows 7 BCD so it can dual-boot with Windows 8.0. It was messy.

This turned out to be the actual problem with our Windows 8.1 upgrade!

The Solution

Since I still have the USB thumbdrive for Windows 8.1 installation, I tried to upgrade my wife’s laptop and of course, the same error code cropped up. Then, I remember about the partitioning issues a few years back & realized that I could just edit the BCD! But I thought, now I have an extra partition, it’ll be cleaner to just backup her data and just delete off all the partitions and start over.

So I did just that and it was the exact same procedure as my previous article except before installing, you have to delete off ALL the partitions on the harddisk/SSD. My wife’s laptop was based on the old IBM-PC BIOS so I had to key in her Windows 8.0 Product Key. And YES, even though the Recovery Media program is meant to install Windows 8.1, it happily accepted the Windows 8.0 Product Key!

After that, it was smooth sailing all the way! 🙂

Her laptop is working better than ever!

I hope this helps some of you. Like the article and subscribe. If you have any questions, feel free to comment!

Solutions

Recovering a Windows 8 laptop without DVD & Product Key

Disaster! My Laptop Harddisk has crashed! How many of you had this happened to your laptop or your child’s laptop?

This is a very nice looking laptop!
This is a very nice looking laptop!

You were happily using your new Core i7 laptop which you got it cheap during Black Friday or Cyber-Monday, or during one of the 4 IT shows in Singapore. But after using for a year, the harddisk crashed right after the warranty expires? Sounds familiar?

That's what I thought. A cheap, slow & not so shock resistant harddisk.
That’s what I thought. A cheap, slow & not so shock resistant harddisk.

No problem, you tell yourself, Windows 8/8.1 has a “Recovery” function that will restore the laptop to factory condition! So you booted to the Recovery section of Windows 8 where you can “Refresh” or “Remove everything & Reinstall Windows”. Neat!

Windows 8 Recovery Page. Great for software rescue!
Windows 8 Recovery Page. Great for software rescue!

Except it takes forever to do the “Automatic Repair” or “Remove everything” fails at some point due to a head crash or media degradation and all because the laptop was moved around while in use! Or worse, the laptop simply don’t recognise the harddisk anymore!

Behold the inside of an Asus laptop.
Behold the inside of an Asus laptop.

OK, never mind! You (hopefully) have a backup of the important data, let’s just change the harddisk to something more resilient, like a Solid-State Disk (SSD)! You can get a Samsung EVO 850 256GB at $220+ these days and reviews are great for these SSDs, 10x faster than harddisk, no moving parts to crash, useful lifespan of more than 10 years & uses half the power! Why didn’t you buy a laptop with an SSD in the first place? Oh, that’s right. Cheaper models don’t come with an SSD option.

This is the battery resting on the Aluminium shell.
This is the battery resting on the Aluminium shell. The 2 silver oval you see either sides are the B & O speakers in their bass chambers!

The Recovery nightmare continues!

Alrighty! You bought your SSD, replace the failed harddisk yourself, which was easy enough, let’s open the laptop box for the recovery DVD & Windows 8 Product Key. Except your new Ultrabook doesn’t come with a DVD-ROM or Recovery DVD & maybe even without a Windows 8 Product Key! Faintz!

OK, don’t panic, let’s go to the maker’s website for support! What? You have to pay extra for a Recovery Disc to create a special thumbdrive because you didn’t do it the FIRST time you switched on your laptop? What is this daylight robbery?!?!

Now what? Try cloning from the old harddisk? Can’t do that. It’s bigger than the SSD & it’s full of bad sectors!
Get someone to do it? Will they do a good job & what are the charges?
Download the Recovery disc from Torrent? Is it infected with virus?
Search Forums? Most of them don’t have a clue.
Ask Microsoft for help in their forums? Moderators ask you to look for your OEM/laptop maker…

The solution for new laptops with UEFI BIOS

Lucky you! You’ve come to the right website! The solution with many recent (last 3 years) laptops is so simple that I’m amazed no one’s got it! Or at least publish it widely enough that a simple Google or Bing search will find it. There’s no need to extract the encrypted product key from UEFI, no need to create Bootable thumbdrive & mount the Windows 8 Rescue ISO. No need to mess with Linux Bootloader like Grub or syslinux. I’ve tried so many different methods and they don’t work due to some incompatibility here or there. It was a massive waste of time! Argh!

Microsoft has published the solution starting from Windows 8.1! Why they don’t publicise is a great mystery! Anyway, many newer laptop have the new UEFI BIOS instead of the old IBM-PC BIOS. Without going into details about how great UEFI BIOS are, one of the features these new BIOS allows is for laptop makers to embed a Windows 8 Product Key into the BIOS itself! This is why there is no DVD or Product key or License sticker included in the laptop box!

So the next question is, how do you install Windows 8.1 onto your new SSD? Just get a fast 8GB thumbdrive or SD card, go to this Microsoft website and follow the instructions!

* For your convenience, I’ve included the steps & things to watch out for below.

Windows Installation Media Creation Tool

Why do Microsoft like to use such LONG names for their stuff?

Are you at the Create installation media for Windows 8.1 page?

Windows 8 Installation Media Creation Tool
Windows 8 Installation Media Creation Tool
  1. Click the “Create Media” button & run the downloaded file
  2. Select your Language
  3. Select the Edition. Most consumer laptops are running “Windows 8.1”. Business laptops will likely be “Windows 8.1 Pro”.
  4. Select the Architecture. If your laptop will NEVER EVER be installed with more than 4GB of RAM, chose “32-bit (x86)”. If you have more than 4GB of RAM or you’re planning to install more in the future, you MUST choose “64-bit (x64).
  5. Click Next and you’ll see this.
  6. Choose USB flash drive
  7. Select USB flash drive and click Next.
  8. Make sure to select the correct drive!
    Make sure to select the correct drive!

    Select the correct drive before clicking Next!

  9. Click OK if you're sure.
    Click OK if you’re sure.
  10. Click “OK” at the dialog box if you’re sure you have the right drive.
  11. Download starts...
    Download starts…
  12. Wait for download to complete & for it to check the files & getting the files ready & creating the USB…
  13. Once it’s completed. You should click “What’s next?” which will take you to a Microsoft website that guide you on using this Thumbdrive to install Windows 8.1. Print it or open it on your phone or something! This is the link for Boot from the media you created to install on a partition.
  14. Insert the thumbdrive into your laptop & boot from the thumbdrive instead of the SSD. Different laptops has different keys to enter the Boot Manager. Search for your brand online. It’s usually ESC or DEL or ENTER key.
  15. Install Windows 8.1 even though your laptop came with Windows 8! It’ll even auto-activate if you’re online! There’s no need to key in any Product Key! This thumbdrive has now become your Rescue/Recovery drive as well! Keep it safe!

Well I hope this help you. Leave comments, subscribe and like my posts!!! 🙂