Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Technology from CES 2010

Although it seems like a long time ago, this is the first chance I've had to sit down and write a little about what we saw at CES 2010 (the annual consumer electronics show). I posted some of my photos on the TechnoRV Facebook Fan page, but here's a couple of highlights for you.

AR.Drone
This is by far and away the coolest 'toy' I've ever seen. If anyone has the impulse to get me an early Christmas present, this is it. It looks and behaves a lot like the 'hunter-killer' drones in Terminator 3. It's a quadracopter (helicopter with 4 blades) that uses your iPhone as a control platform, providing a visual view of what the AR 'sees' through a WiFi link and your iPhones screen.... Watch the video, it's awesome.






Samsung Ultra-thin TV
Just got yourself the latest in plamsa TV's? Well, I'm afraid you're already out of date. Samsung's new 50" plasma screen is less than 0.4" thick. Check out the video.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Naan Bread

Naan is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread that is popular in many Asian countries (and the UK!). This is THE bread that you should make to go with the butter chicken. It's amazing and you'll never want rice again! I've tried all sorts of different naan recipes and keep coming back to the one that I got with our Panasonic Break Maker about twenty years ago! You don't need to make it in a bread maker, in fact, it's easier and quicker if you don't.


Ingredients
Fast acting dried yeast - 1 tsp
Strong white flour - 1 lb
Sugar - 1 tsp (I use honey or maple syrup because it's healthier)
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Plain yogurt - 4 tbsp
Warm water - about 1 cup

Preparation
  1. Add all the dry ingredients to the bowl of a food processor using the blade attachment.
  2. Turn on and slowly add the water until the ingredients clump together into a ball and start being 'dragged around'. If your ingredients are still dry and more like flour than dough add more warm water until they clump together, but do it slowly as it's easy to add too much. If you do and the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.
  3. Continue to run the processor for a minute or so to kneed the dough until it is soft, springy and dry, not sticky to the touch.
  4. Grease a glass bowl and place the dough into it. I normally swirl the dough around in the olive oil'd bowl as it makes the dough easier to roll out later.
  5. Cover and let the dough rise for about an hour. If your kitchen is cold, put your oven on it's lowest setting, then turn it off and use that as a warming drawer.

Cooking the Naan
  1. Turn the oven back onto a low setting to keep your cooked naans warm
  2. Divide the naan into half, then half, then half (i.e. eight ok?) balls.
  3. On a clean, floured surface, roll out each naan into a long oval shape about 1/4 inch thick or less. You can't make then too thin, only too thick!
  4. If you have a skillet or large cast iron frying pan, heat it to about as hot as you can, drop in some oil and then the naan. Once the naan lifts and forms air pockets, swap to the other side (be careful of the air pockets - they are superheated steam and REALLY burn if they get you). It will take about 2-4 mins with a hot skillet. If you don't have a skillet, use a very hot, well oiled grill (I use Trader Joe's Olive Oil spray on the grill - it works a treat).
  5. Keep the naan warm in the oven while you prepare the remainder.
  6. Serve in a dish or bread bowl. I use a clean tea towel on the bottom and fold it over the naan to keep them warm on the table.
  7. Enjoy, my mouth is already watering!

Butter Chicken with Home Made Naan

Being British, you may not realize it, but our staple food isn't fish and chips, it's actually curry. And the best curry, bar none, is butter chicken (or chicken tikka masala as we call it in England). Butter chicken (or murgh makhani) is an Indian dish from Punjab, popular in countries all over the world. Although both Tracey and I have often cooked Indian food, we wanted to take it to the next level and see how we could make really authentic Indian food.

To that end, we attended a cookery class by Chura Prakash (Fremont, CA). She showed us how to make the most AMAZING butter chicken, and this is her recipe below. It consists of two parts, first you have to make and cook the chicken tandoori, then you make the butter chicken sauce. It's a little fiddly, but it makes a LOT and it freezes very well. You can even make more of the chicken tandoori and save it to have cold with salad or on top of pizza (try it, it's awesome). The tandoori masala and garam masala are available from most Indian grocery stores.

Tandoori Chicken
Chicken - 2 lb
Plain yogurt - 1 1/2 cup
Garlic - 8 cloves
Tandoori Masala - 7 tbsp
Garam Masala - 3/4 tsp
Lemon juice - 2 tbsp

  1. Wash the chicken and cut into small pieces. Make suts on the chicken with a knife.
  2. Mix the yogurt, tandoori masala, garam masala, lemon juice and finely grated or crushed garlic. Marinate the chicken in it for up to 6 hours.
  3. Grill on a well oiled grill for 5 - 10 mins (or you can bake it in the oven)
  4. Cover and let cool or proceed with the butter chicken sauce

Butter Chicken

Cooked tandoori chicken - 2 lbs
Butter - 2 tps
Tomato sauce - 4 x 8 oz cans
Garlic - 6 cloves
Ginger - 1 x 1" piece
Green chili's - 2
Cloves - 6
Black peppercorns - 12
Green cardamom - 4
Black cardamom - 2
Cinnamon - 2
Bay leaf - 2
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 3/4 tsp
Sugar (use stivia or xylatol for a healthier alternative) - 3 tsp
Roasted dry funugreek leaves - 4 tbsp
Whipping cream - 3/4 cup
Milk - 1 1/2 cups

  1. Heat the butter in a pan. Add all the dry whole masala (spices) and let them crackle. Add the finely grated ginger, garlic and finely chopped green chili. Saute for a few minutes, add the tomato sauce and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  2. Add the red chili powder, salt, sugar and garam masala.
  3. Add the cream, milk and dry fenugreek.
  4. Cook for a few more minutes
  5. Add the cooked tandoori chicken pieces and cook for 5 mins. Serve with hot naan bread.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Traveling

Got an iPhone? If so, you can probably relate to this scenario. You meet someone else with an iPhone. What's the first thing that you do? Swap apps of course. Well, here's your chance to share apps with your fellow RV'ers.

Here's how it works. I'll start the ball rolling with some cool ones that I've collected along the way. If you have some to share, just use the comments section at the bottom of this entry and I'll update the blog as they come in. We're looking for the Top 10 best and most useful apps. You never know, we may even run to a prize for the No.1 app! As with most competitions, the judges decision is final (i.e. mine) and no whining if you don't win!

So here goes (in order):

1. FaceBook (free)
Got a spare moment in the laundromat? Sat around listening to someone boring in the evening and need a distraction? Waiting for the RV to get serviced? This is THE app for keeping in touch with family and friends. You can even upload your iPhone photos and if you're lucky enough to have the new 3G (like me), you can upload video with VideoUp. Love it.

2. Yelp (free)
Awesome app for finding great local restaurants in a new location, complete with local review, and a link to Maps to help you find it.

3. Pandora (free)
If you've got a 3G connection, then you've got an almost unlimited music selection to play. It's like having a free juke box with an unlimited music. Simply select your favorite artist and let Pandora pick music from that artist and others that you might like. Plug your iPhone into your sound system and you're away! You can even bookmark new artists and songs that you like to play later or purchase from iTunes.

4. GPS Drive
Forget the $99 TomTom app, this baby (courtesy of Lamar) costs $2.99 and is almost as good. Check it out.

5. Showtimes (free)
Shows you the latest movies playing at local movie theatres close to you, complete with video trailers

6. GPS Tracker (free)
Enables you to upload your GPS location to your website or FaceBook. Ideal for letting everyone know where you are.

7. USPS Mobile (free)
Need to find the local post office. Look no further than this free app from your friendly post service (or not so friendly if you're in Quartzsite).

8. Dishpointer AR
Superimposes your satelitte location (you tell it what sat you are on) over a live feed from the camera so that you can determine the direction for your sat. Pretty cool, if not geeky.

New TechnoRV Shipping Options Save you Money

We've just added some new shipping options to TechnoRV.com! While sticking to our policy of never earning a cent from shipping, we now offer USPS First Class Mail as a low cost shipping option. This is especially useful for lighter and smaller opbjects such as extra batteries, flash drives or LED caps. If the weight of your object is less than 13 ozs (the limit for First Class Mail), our website will make this option available. One of our best sellers, the Road Mice Optical Mice will ship for around $4 vs the $5.99 priority rate saving you a couple of dollars. In today's climate, every penny helps!

If perhaps you've left that special birthday gift until the last minute, our Express Mail option may be right for you. It's not cheap, but if we ship it, we guarantee to deliver your gift the next day or your money back.

Finally, remember that we will never charge you more than $5.99 for Priority Shipping, even for our larger products like the Belkin laptop workstation or Swift Hitch. It's all part of our commitment to bring you the best in class products at the best prices with world class service.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Avoiding Serious & Costly Towing Accidents

This seminar reviews problems that can be encountered when towing a vehicle behind your motorhome and how to avoid them using the latest technology. It also includes a review of a pre-travel checklist and a detailed discussion about new systems that can be combined to actively monitor your towed vehicle while on the road. Since not all towing problems are avoidable, early identification of an issue with your towed vehicle can help minimize the severity of the problem and significantly reduce the cost of repair! Audience participation is encouraged during the question and answer session. For a copy of the slides, click here or on the photo.