i biked down to market basket in the late morning to get some ingredients for the century egg & pork instant pot congee i wanted to make for dinner. the most important ingredient was to find bone-in pork for making the savory bone broth. my father suggested i should look for short ribs, but they didn't have any, so i was left with regular spareribs (bone-in country style bottom pork spare ribs to be precise), which turned out great, since they were also the cheapest cuts.

for lunch i made an english muffin sandwich stuffed with garlic guacamole, smoked virgnia ham, american cheese, and egg. i cooked the egg in the t-fal one egg wonder frying pan.

i also marinated the spare ribs in some salt and put it in the fridge, as the recipe i was using didn't seem flavorful enough.

in the early afternoon i brought my bike onto my backyard porch so i could fix it. the chain skipping is even worse now, not so much on flat roads but impossible to climb any hills without dangerous chain skips. i couldn't remember the last time i replaced the chains and figured i'd start there. using a ruler, i measured the length of 24 links, which should be 1 ft exactly, but there was so much stretch on my chain i easily went beyond 12 inches.

i couldn't use the old chain as a reference to figure out how long i should make the new chain since there was so much stretch. instead i used the sheldon brown method, which is wrap the new chain around the largest chainwheel and the largest rear sprocket and have the chain overlap by one full link. i marked the location where i should cut and used the chain breaker to shorten the chain, using a pair of missing link linkages to connect the chain together.

pedalling the upside down bike, the new chain kept rubbing up against the front derailleur cage. i spent some time adjusting the derailleur, at one point the shifter came loose and i had to fix that first before i could tighten the cable. no matter what i did, i couldn't get the front derailleur adjusted properly. maybe it's a shifter (SRAM) and derailleur (shimano) mismatch, but i can only engage 2 gears, not all 3. in the end i figured 2 chainring is better than nothing, and i usually ride the middle chainring anyway, most of my shifting is on the rear freewheel.

with the bike newly fixed, i decided to take it out for a ride to test the new chain and gearing. i left the house by 3:30pm with two containers of sichuan paocai from my paocai jar to give to my 2nd aunt who i knew was at the cafe. immediately the chain was skipping, worse than before, now it was happening on flat roads as well. maybe the rear derailleur cable needed to be tighten as well. i kept shifting until i found a combination that didn't skip - the largest chainring in the front, 3rd gear in the back. even then i rode gingerly, didn't want to apply too much pressure and fall off the bike from a chain skip.

at the cafe my mother gave me some scallion bread she had made because she though my godmother was going to stop by the cafe today (she didn't). my mother gave both containers of paocai to my 2nd aunt. i returned home by 4pm.

before settling in, i went outside one last time, to buy a mega million and power ball tickets from the liquor store. the owner wasn't there, so i wasn't greeted with a, "good luck, my friend," as i left the store.

later, while examining photos i took of my bike repair, i realized it wasn't the chain that was the issue, but rather the chainring itself, with a lot of teeth worn down to the nub. i remember doing a crankset replacement before and i searched through my blog but the only record i have is from back in 2009 when i replaced the crankset on my old bianchi bike. it seems the crankset on my trek utility bike is still the original crankset. i have however replaced the rear freewheel on two occasions (2011 and 2016, every half decade), and did remove the crankset once before but just to check the bottom bracket length (2012). maybe if i adjust the rear derailleur i could fix the skipping issue, otherwise i'll need to replacement the crankset. it's not a big deal but it's hard to work outside during the winter and repairing the bike indoors is a dirty affair (i could try the basement).

century egg & pork congee
(3-6 serving)

1.8 lbs. bone-in spare ribs
1 tbsp salt

1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

3/4 cup short-grain rice
6 1/2 cups water
ginger, julienned

3 century eggs, chopped
3.5 oz. package pickled radish
scallions, chopped

marinate pork with salt for 6 hours or leave overnight in fridge. blanch pork in boiling pot of water for 3 minutes. add rice, water, ginger, and pork to instant pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. let cool naturally (natural release) for 20 minutes before venting remaining pressure. remove pork, discard bone, shred meat. season with salt, sesame oil, and ground white pepper before returning to instant pot. medium sauté t thicken congee, add chopped century eggs, shredded pork, pickled radish, and scallions. once desired consistency reached, serve.

i didn't start with my congee recipe until after 8pm. the only sensible instant pot century egg & pork congee recipe i found online created a bone broth first, so that was the recipe i followed. my mother told me my salt marinade was a waste of time since blanching the spare ribs would wash all the salt off, and if i was doing a proper marinade, it has to be overnight at least, several days for the salt to penetrate the meat.

i blanched my salted pork before adding it the instant pot, which i already added the rice, water, and ginger. the rice was special rice my mother gave me, said it was best for rice porridge. when i compared it with my jasmine rice, they looked exactly the same. the rice portion seemed small - not even a full cup - but i never really made congee in a pressure cooker before, so i followed the recipe as written.

i left the ingredients to cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. the instant pot has some awful user interface: the pressure button isn't actually for pressure cooking, it's for selecting the level of pressure; to do a pressure cook you actually press the manual button. when they say "cook for 35 minutes," they don't tell you that it means you first have to wait 20 minutes or so for the pressure to build up before cooking, so the total time was nearly an hour. i then waited an additional 20 minutes for the pressure to slow ("natural") release, which continued to cook everything as the pressure slowly diminished.

i took out the pork, was at this point was practically fall off the bone. i tasted a small piece, just as i feared, it was pretty bland. i put the spare ribs in a bowl and removed the bones before shredding the pork. i then seasoned everything with salt, sesame oil, and white ground powder. i tasted the pork again, much better.

i chopped up 3 century eggs. i've never worked with century eggs before, this was my first time. i'm not a fan, with the exception of when it's a congee ingredient. i would never eat a century egg as-is, i find it kind of revolting. the translucent dark "egg white" i can tolerate, but the slimy green "egg york" does not look appetizing at all. plus these eggs have a funky smell that would otherwise warn you it wasn't edible.

i tossed the shredded pork and chopped century eggs back into the instant pot with the bone broth congee, along with some chopped scallions and a package of pickled radish. i then put the instant pot on medium sauté to thicken the congee before it was ready to serve.

by then it was well after 10pm and i was pretty hungry. i could've easily eaten the whole thing, but limited myself to just a large bowl. i totally forgot to have some of my sichuan paocai, which was one of the reasons i was making congee in the first place. i think i was just too hungry to think of anything other than congee.

the final result was a success, a congee with several layers of savoriness, from the bone broth, to the century eggs, to the seasoned pork, this was some high level comfort food. it's pretty easy to make, and you don't even need the century eggs or pickled radish, pork congee by itself would be a good meal, but when you add the other ingredients it takes it to another level.

after i finished, i scooped out the leftover congee from the instant pot and filled 2 quart-size plastic yogurt containers, i have enough for 2 more servings. this recipe was so successful, i'm thinking about recreating it at my parents' place (with their larger 8-qt instant pot) this weekend.

i started watching the stand, the new CBS all access remake of the stephen king novel. back in the mid-90's network television already tried their hands at turning the book into a mini-series starring gary sinise, molly ringwald, and rob lowe. i watched it back and still remember bits and pieces while i'm watching the new rebooted version. stephen king loves psychopaths and a lot of his stories contain that one character who seems normal enough but is secretly planning on killing everyone. that's a lot of stephen king's novels in a nutshell. i downloaded 2 episodes back in december, but am now finally watching them.

in the late evening i checked the mega million numbers. once again, not a single match. power ball is tomorrow.