The ultimate steak marinade

Steak Marinade - James Follett - BannerI’m neither a chef nor, by anyone’s books, a cook, but I can do one, and only one, dish just right – steak.  Here’s how.

For the perfect “Jamie” (Follett, not Oliver) steak marinade and cooking, all you need to do is…

… marinade your steak (in a perfect world, your eye fillet),

by liberally rubbing in the following ingredients:

Steak Marinade - James Follett - Rub

  • Soy + Canadian Maple Syrup (or honey, of course) – the “marinade essential”
  • Mustard (hot English or seeded German)
  • Tabasco (to your spice preference level)
  • Pepper (cracked and lots of it) to season, but never salt as it dries the meat
  • Mixed Spice  (e.g. Moroccan or Oriental) to your personalised taste
  • Additionally, if using a budget cut of meat, add vinegar to tenderise (soften)

Then put in freezer for a complete freeze.

Steak Marinade - James Follett - Freeze-Fracture

This is another “marinade essential”.  Without this freeze-fracture process, of freezing then defrosting the meat, all bets are off for qualifying as a mouth slavering marinade.  The freeze-facture process unsurpassably infuses the marinade throughout the meat by allowing the spices to delve deep into the meat.  I’ve blind tested this theory, using dinner party guests as judge and jury.  There verdict was unanimous.  Marinading steaks over night in the fridge does not come anywhere near to as sumptuous as the exact same preparation involving an over night freeze then morning defrost.

In addition, another advantage of freezing the meat is that you can do the marinading as a bulk batch process.  You can defrost meat, from individual glad bags, as and when required, on various Bacchanalian, feasting occasions.

It is worth noting that the defrost is a slow process.  It takes quite a few hours to fully defrost the centre of the meat up to roughly room temperature (even here in sunny Australia).  A cautionary note, and frequent pit fall, an incomplete defrosting will prevent the centre of meat from cooking sufficiently before a burning of the the meat’s exterior occurs.  If in a hurry, and your guests’ hunger pains have onset, put the glad bags of frozen meat into warm water to melt the party ice pronto.

Anyway, after defrosting, put the succulent meat on a newly made, super-hot, coals Barbie (if available) for a 2 min frazzling each side (to seal in juices).  Then depending on the thickness of the meat’s cut, a low heat for a further 5 min to get that juicy centre to the perfect medium rare, still slightly bloody, consistency one desires.

Steak Marinade - James Follett - Coal Barbecue

Nearly done.

Now, remove the sizzled steaks from the coals and let the juices settle on a serving plate for 5min.

Add sea salt, carve (if a large log cut) and serve.

For la pièce de résistance, serve with Sauce.  Sauce is the source.  It is that added taste bud explosion that will make the dish really pop.  A béarnaise, mushroom, perri perri, or like, sauce will really make the difference.  The sauce will also add flavour to any vegies you may serve the steak up with.

Ta da.

Super-infused, spicy, char-grilled meat to die for and fully deserved, Tong Man bragging rights for the rest of the night.

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Sharing or Bonding?

Superannuation bannerThe $64,000 Question: is the global economy healthy?  Should you invest in vibrant business and its financial lifeline, the share market, or “hide” in safe, Fixed Interest bonds and Cash?

The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500), is the “gold standard”, stock market benchmark based on the market capitalisation, or value, of the 500 largest, U.S. companies.

It is thus a pretty good proxy for the health of the U.S. economy, which, in turn, means the health of the global economy.

It looks like the global share market is at a pivotal point.

Investor sentiment can continue optimistically lapping up Central Bank, credit stimulus or could potentially collapse into a “correction” phase defined by its more “realistic”, long term value.  Share prices can hold at current, remarkable, and perhaps inflated, highs or crash, by up to a half to align with longer term norms.

So, if you are an optimist you should invest in shares, or, if you err on the pessimist, maybe going for a lower risk, but lower benefit, fixed interest portfolio would be more appropriate for you.

The Good News Story

The Share Market is back to historical highs

Long term analysis by fundamental quants may suggest that the share price bubble is virtually endless.  Some economists are pretty bullish and optimistic.  They suggest it is not a time to sell out your position, but there’s a healthy, growth period ahead of us.  At worst, we are in a period of consolidation. Whereby, there has been 15 years of “bust” cycle volatility, but we are near the end of this and the boom cycle is about to begin again.  This 20 year, boom and bust cycle is well documented.  The Bust, which started with the bubble bursting in 2000, is essentially winding up.  The Boom will now continue the century long progression upwards.  This is an intrinsic and fully intended progression designed into our Western, fractional reserve banking model.   Our money supply expands upwards exponentially ad infinitum.  Hold tight and the ride upwards will recommence, in a just few years, and with vigour.

This standpoint is bolstered by Elliot Wave, behavioural theory which, when applied to the share market, suggests that when the end of Wave III (our current bubble since the GFC) is reached then we can expect a minor price slip (red forecast line – Wave IV) for a short while before a Wave V thrust onwards and upwards.

Many, including myself, predicted a double dip recession with the onset of Ben Bernanke inspired Quantitative Easing.  In never, and will never seemingly, happen.



The Bad News Story

The Emperor has no clothes

When share trading volume and buy-sell, price spreads contract, even as stock prices surge, it’s a warning sign.   This market stagnation signals the traders surreptitious shuffle to the trade room exit door.  This phenomenon has preceded sizeable price crashes in the past.  Be wary.  In addition, the S&P 500 (importantly, in inflation-adjusted terms) is nearly as high today as it was at the heady heights of the ill-fated booms of 2000 and 2007.  The market has clambered back to the heady heights of these two prior, relatively recent peaks.  Is it third time lucky?  Can the market push prices, in other words its evaluation of global business and productivity, beyond where it ceilinged in 2000?  The highs of 2000 and 2007 lead to rapid crashes.  These were corrections.  Leading up to these crashes, investor bullish sentiment pushed prices higher and higher.  This was gambling behaviour.  This was not “Warren Buffet” style, value investing whereby the underlying value is core to your perception of share value.  This was speculation and greed at work.  I don’t say this in a cynical condeming way.  It’s exciting to speculate and to let constraining rationality fly our the window.  This defines as humans – opportunistic.

Well, we’re back there again.  Once more, we have bubbled the share market.  The global market is in a pivotal position.  Does the past few years of Central Bank lead, Quantitative Easing, a somewhat farcical euphemism for money printing, placate the market’s jittery confidence?  Do we believe the Emperor does indeed have invisible clothes?  Does this printed money have real value we can trade with?  Can we expand the money supply and use it to pay off our existing debts?

The share market is a reflection of underlying, economic productivity and the value thereof.  It is subjective and filled with investor sentiment.  But it is fundamentally driven by the real value we collectively assign to mankind’s productivity.  We are currently over-pricing this underlying value (compared to a century of 1.75% compound growth).  Perhaps, that’s why the share price is hitting a price ceiling again.  The speculator’s bluff is, and always will be, finally, at some point, called.  Ever since the famous “Tulip Mania” of 1600’s Holland, we have seen markets bubble then finally some “child” in the cheering crowd will shout, “but the Emperor has no clothes”, and the bubble bursts.

A century of share prices (S&P 500 – Inflation adjusted)


NB semi-log scale to equalize vertical distances for the same percentage change regardless of the index price range.

The peak in the 2000 marked an unprecedented 150% overshooting of “real” market value (nearly double the overshoot seen in the Great Depression of 1929 no less).  The share prices of the S&P 500 companies should be sitting around on the long term regression value.  They should be averaging around 1000.  However, they currently tip over 2000.  This is over-valuation.  Over valuation enabled by ease money produced through Quantitative Easing.  This situation is gagging for “correction”.  A price reversion or normalisation, or crash if you will, is threatening the safety of the empire on its borders.So, should one stick with these over-priced, but nevertheless currently stable and profitable, shares, or should one “hide” in low risk, but low return, fixed interest bonds and Cash?


Your Options for investing in your future

I have been putting my faith in the “Growth”, Sunsuper, superannuation investment strategy.  Last night I decided to jump out of this share-based strategy and retreated into the Fixed Interest-based, “Conservative” strategy.  Here’s the 2 mutually exclusive alternatives:

“Growth” strategy

Has a strong emphasis on global shares, which are sensitive to global fundamental drivers and thus can be very volatile on an annual basis:

Superannuation - Growth Strategy Performance

“Conservative” strategy

Has a strong emphasis on Fixed returns provided by long-term, Fixed Interest bonds and short-term, Cash deposits.  These “safe” investments have low volatility that equates to less than 1 out of 20 years of negative returns:

Superannuation - Conservative Strategy Performance

Comparing the performance of the past 5 years of both strategies, one could infer that another bumper share market year, like our current one, would benefit you 8% if you were in a “Growth” strategy.  This 8% is the difference between the rates of annual return of the “Growth” (16.2%) and “Conservative” (8.4%) strategies.  However, if the share market reverts to its, some say, “rightful” long-term position, there is a 50% downside crash from a S&P 500 index of $2000 to $1000.

Is the market going to bubble forever with endless Quantitative Easing Credit?  Or, will this money printing scheme have a comeuppance and the historical real value of shares be restored?  If you believe that Central Banks, primarily the U.S.’s Federal Reserve, can Quantitatively Ease our way out of recession, then stick with shares.  Hiding your wealth in Fixed interest Cash and Bonds will cost you 8% in lost opportunity compared to this.  However, if believe that the Ben Bernanke model of global recovery is likely to fail in the coming year, going for a low risk, Fixed Interest strategy represents a potential 50% portfolio gain.

The probability of either happening is pretty much 50:50 at best.  No one really knows what the near future lies in hold for us.  Economists will bet their bottom dollar on an optimistic recovery or, alternatively, a pessimistic reversion to century long growth rates.  Who’s to say who’s going to be right?  However, the potential cost of incorrectly investing in high risk shares is much higher than the cost of investing in Fixed Interest products.  In my (un)humble opinion, using a cost-benefit analytical approach, a “Conservative” investment strategy is the way to go.  Playing the probabilities is the betting man’s play.

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Atlantis – sunken, but not forgotten

Atlantis BannerThe fabled, sunken, Lost City of Atlantis, is it Fact or Fiction?

Somewhat disappointingly, it is just Fiction.

That’s what mainstream historians have concluded.  Atlantis is just a fanciful fable.  It is purely a story of legend.  End of story, morning glory. 

However, let’s suggest for a one brief moment that it could be more than just a story.  What if there’s some foundation in truth to it?  Well, apart from being far more exciting to believe this ancient, sophisticated civilisation did really exist, let’s not rule it out quite yet.  Let’s embark on a hypothetical ride, a voyage of discovery, into the prehistoric unknown.  Let’s follow the legends and the cryptic trail of evidence that may lead to the forgotten roots of Mankind…

Religion is a Leap of Faith: an unprovable Belief, a very individual and personal decision.  Whilst, I can appreciate Belief in others, personally I remain sceptical about institutionalised religion.  To me, however, Belief in the City of Atlantis is far more plausible.

In all likelihood, examining the available evidence, Atlantis did really exist.  That’s my Belief.  However, like religion, it is a personal decision, a decision that can not be convincingly disparaged just because mainstream, conservative historians have decided to disregard any chance of an Atlantean reality.

The evidence is substantial and surprisingly convincing.  Substantial enough, perhaps, for the proverbial jury to vote 9 to 3 in favour.  However, there is still “reasonable doubt”… so we don’t get a sound conviction here; well, not quite yet.  “Belief” will remain an issue until the evidence is a slam dunk, possibly, at a future date.

The bizarre thing is, I believe, not to believe, is the bizarre thing.  The proof of the existence of Atlantis is in the pudding and the Xmas pudding is alight with delicious, burning brandy.

Plato, one of the greatest historians and philosophers of all Western civilisation, single-handedly bequeathed us the story of Atlantis.  Without him there would be no Atlantis.  It would have been completely wiped from the history books.  Across the board, Plato’s writings are deemed some of the most reliable in history.  Where applicable the vast majority of his claims have been verified by third party texts as sound.  Why would we believe him in pretty much all he has told us except his writings concerning Atlantis?

In addition, all of the major surviving monoliths (such as the pyramids of Egypt, Cambodia, and Mexico) undoubtedly show star map alignment and the concept of the Earth’s Precession (a 26,000 year, polar wobble). Surely, the Ancient builders, whoever they were, must have survived at least 26,000 years in a state of stellar enlightenment to discern such a cycle?

Pyramidal Star Alignment

Historians say that modern civilisation arose from the prehistoric wastelands with Mesopotamia in 3500BC.  Possibly yes, more possibly not.  We have, in all probability, at least another 26,000 years of enlightenment to factor in.  The solid, surviving walls of an extraordinary amount of ancient temples, pyramids and stone circles, the world over, show us Precession based calendars.  Atlanteans, the probable “ancient builders”, established a peaceful, marine, trading empire that disseminated advanced ideas and technology globally.  This is what Plato told us.  The times of Atlantis (pre-9500 BC) were the utopian, halcyon days of yore, that many hark back to wistfully, without knowing the legends may well have been reality.  Organisations like the Masons, which has 3 million practitioners in the US alone, are great believers in Atlantis and they hold it central to their Mysteries.  So, is it as peripheral and leftfield a believe as many mainstream historians would have us believe?  The Masons prime goal is the altruistic reconstruction of the Atlantean utopia in the here and now.  But, I digress, that’s the next, intriguing chapter in the story, today we just investigate the plausibility of the existence of an ancient, utopian Atlantis.

Let the experts, not yours truly, lead you on this journey of discovery.  Let Graham Hancock be your host.  In this Graham Hancock movie (below) we get a wee snippet of the evidence that is being compiled from disparate sources into a unified theory of Atlantis.  Mr. Hancock has been one of the leading authorities on the subject for many decades now.  Watch this sampler, then browse the net for more, and there is lots, if your interest is piqued.  It is an interesting, and perhaps enjoyable, ride…

Quest for the Lost civilization – Graham Hancock

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Graphene – the material to transform battery technology

Graphene BannerInnovation in battery technology will (eventually) revolutionise Energy supply in the world.  Adding it to rooftop, solar, Photo Voltaic (PV) systems and providing a “clean”, firm, stable energy supply is just one small example of the potential of next Gen batteries.

To achieve cheap, high capacity, fast charge/discharge batteries (aka supercapacitors ) is the Holy Grail of energy supply.  Nothing new in that, true.

However, there may be real solution on the near horizon…

Graphene is the answer (it seems)

High-performance supercapacitors made of graphene can be now manufactured to store almost as much energy as the gold standard, lithium-ion battery. They can surpass Lithium in a number of crucial ways though.  They charge and discharge in seconds (not the current hours) and maintain all this over many tens of thousands of charging cycles.  Graphene is also derived from cheap as chips Graphite – not pricey Lithium metal.

So is Graphine just a pipe dream? Well, supposedly not:

  • “Graphene Supercapacitors Ready for Electric Vehicle Energy Storage, Say Korean Engineers” – MIT Technology Review
  • “Graphene supercapacitors created with ‘traditional paper making’ process, rivals lead-acid battery capacity” – ExtremeTech

Tech spec
Graphene is a two dimensional material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb or chicken wire structure. It is the thinnest material known and yet is also one of the strongest. It conducts electricity as efficiently as copper and outperforms all other materials as a conductor of heat.Graphene 3D illustration

There are some real system security problems arising from large Solar PV (and Wind) penetration into the energy supply mix.  They produce “dirty”, volatile power.

These problems will largely be solved by firming up the Renewables-derived power – batteries (small in the case of PV systems, or large at a grid level) could be the answer?

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Global Warming doom-and-gloom is doomed

Global Warming Catastrophe - Batman - Banner

Global Warming experts, the IPCC, recant.  The End is not Nigh.

Their doom-and-gloom catastrophe scenarios, that justified a whopping great Carbon Tax in Australia, have fizzled away like the deadly heat waves that they no longer predict.

There’s no need to sell that water-front, Sydney harbour-side mansion.  The oceans are not rising – it’s official.

It seems that the gas is off the Global Warming message; though this new message is not one we are hearing about much in the press. The recent, and much awaited, IPCC report, AR5, is noticeably different from all the 4 previous versions. It is very subdued on the plausibility of catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming. Is this just-in-time to justify a Prime Minister Abbott, Carbon Tax repeal?

The chart below is the summary produced by the IPCC themselves of their catastrophic, climate scenarios. Scenarios that the media has, almost ubiquitously, reiterated, reported and propagated to us since 1990 (time of the 1st IPCC report).

How confident are the IPCC really in their purported, Global Warming catastrophes?  Confidence wanes somewhat on hearing adjectives such as “very unlikely”, “exceptionally unlikely”, and “low confidence”? The only “Likely” scenario is the “Disappearance of summer Arctic sea ice” – a catastrophe that could be worse perhaps.  Large, Arctic ice melt happens all the time, every summer as it happens, with no known adverse effects.  Perhaps, it’s not the worst life threatening, planet destabilising, disaster that could be envisaged after all?

Submarine in Arctic with no ice


Here are likelihoods of the climate, catastrophe scenarios, as presented by the Global Warming experts themselves, the IPCC:

Table 12.4: Components in the Earth system that have been proposed in the literature as potentially being susceptible to abrupt or irreversible change.” ipcc_catastrophe_table

For those who crave more background, you’ll find the detail here at Bishop Hill’s most excellent blog.

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