I was stuck at home for sixty days with wife and kids. During that time I took on projects that I wouldn’t normally have the time for, such as making maple syrup, brewing beer, making pasta, and baking bread.

  • I boiled maple syrup because I have maple trees. Made just over 4 liters of syrup. The last 2.5 liters took 30 hours of boiling and used a ton of propane. It was a fun project because I have young kids. They participated at collecting the maple water and sampling various products. This project is seasonal and would have done it Covid or not.
  • Brewing beer: More of a personal project. I had a beer making kit sitting in the basement and it was about time that I get to it. Kids had fun watching boil the grains and adding hop and stuff. The beer is currently in its second fermentation stage. I will have a taste of the IPA in two week.
  • Making pasta. The easiest and fastest. And it’s totally family friendly. Fresh pasta is so much better than the box stuff. So much. I don’t know if I can go back. It’s a very underrated activity. The cost benefit ratio is totally tilted towards the benefit. Flour and eggs. That’s all you need.
  • Baking bread: I joined the sourdough #breadster bandwagon community. I made my starter (5 days) so I can have natural yeast, then another 24 hours for bread making. It’s “labor” intensive. It’s not super physical, but it’s time consuming and you need to be precise with everything. If you are one degree off here and there the whole thing can go awry.
  • Beer and bread is all about working with yeast and fermentation. With beer sanitation is super important. I got really paranoid with sanitation. Too much bacteria can kill a beer. I learned a lot. Science meets art. Once you master the science and process, you can really start to experiment with several type of grains, hops etc…same goes for bread. The possibilities are endless.


I developed a deep sense of appreciation for the miracle of economic specialization. Bread is like $3 and it’s a shit ton of work.  I understood specialization as a concept. I understood the benefits, especially when it comes to trade and economic development. But now, anybody that comes up with some protectionist nationalist argument, I would tell them to go make bread.

More photos

Continue reading “Specialization”

The Warren Buffett Cocktail


Warren Buffett cocktail

Chipotle Mexican Grill Ingredients vs Taco Bell vs Qdoba

My favorite slide of the Pershing Square European Shareholder Meeting (link):

Chipotle is going throw a rough time from a 2015 food safety issues but it will eventually bounce back. Improved governance and focus on operations will help repair the bruised reputation. The passage of time will eventually help too.

Look at the ingredients on the list. These are just things that I can understand. It’s definitely having a positive on the way we eat and the fast food industry in general. Other restaurant companies are jumping on the bandwagon and offering fresh food. It’s only going to get better as the consumer becomes more informed and as a result request better options.

*I’m not and never was a shareholder of Chipotle.

A Better Cup Of Coffee Right Now

Smiley Coffee

Yesterday I wrote a post about quitting coffee. Today I’m sharing with you advice on how to have a better cup of coffee. You don’t have to have a sophisticated palate or a barista to notice the difference. You can tell because of the magnitude.

We love our coffee. Coffee is a huge part of our daily life ritual and culture (think about how much prime real estate is taken over by Starbucks and Tim Hortons). At the same time, you would think that the average coffee drinker would be a connoisseur about something that they put in their body so much but the reality is that we know so little about our coffee.

Coffee, on its surface, is an incredibly simple beverage: just add hot water to ground up roasted beans. Why complicate it? To have an excellent cup of coffee. You can immediately have a better cup of coffee with these few simple easy tips. First a few comments on coffee machines. A good machine definitely helps. A good machine doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. You can have one of the best cup of coffee in the world with the AreoPress (US$38 on Amazon). Also, very importantly, a good machine won’t turn crappy coffee into a great cup. Garbage in, garbage out. There’s nothing you can do to make it taste good. Now with that out of the way, here’s how you can improve your coffee regardless of the machine.

1- Buy organic whole beans. You might have to fork over a couple extra dollar more but the taste is significantly better. It’s not just a “health” thing or a socially conscious decision. Organic coffee beans taste much better. If you want to take it a notch higher, go with Arabica coffee, its the better coffee plant. The coffee you drink everyday is most likely coming from Robusta coffee plants. If you want to take it another notch higher, aim for beans that within a month of roast date. By the way coffee beans do go bad.

2- Grind your own beans before making each cup. It requires a little extra work but again it’s all about enhancing your coffee. This ensures that the oils and flavors end up in your drink and not in the air. Don’t buy the cheapest grinder

3- Use fresh cold water. Coffee is mostly water but we seem to neglect it. The better the water, the better the cup. The ideal water for coffee is soft water which contains less minerals, rather than mineral rich hard water. This last sentence is now being debated. Generally speaking, soft water is better for coffee. However, if you want to go crazy, some hard water has been known to produce a better cup of coffee. It comes down to knowing which minerals makes it hard. Magnesium helps make the coffee taste better. Bicarbonates does not. It comes down to knowing your water.

4- The ratio of coffee to water. The key is to start with the golden ratio of 17.42 units of water to 1 unit of coffee. It’s a starting point then adjust to taste. A unit could be grams, ounces, whatever you want. Basically 15 grams of coffee requires 261 gram of water. You can be more precise by using weight—instead of volume—to measure your coffee and water. Most of the time people don’t put enough coffee.

Enjoy your next cup of coffee!

AreoPress – Perfect for One Cup

aeropressAlan Adler, inventor of the Aerobie Flying Disc and the AeroPress coffee maker, tells the stories behind his famous inventions. This is a short 6 minute video. I received an Areopress as a gift and it’s the perfect machine to make one cup of coffee (Thanks Hugh Langis). The package comes with a lot of tiny accessories but you only really need three things to make the coffee, so it’s less overwhelming than it looks. It also comes with the thinnest paper filter I’ve ever seen. If you look at it on Amazon, it has over 4,000 reviews with an average of 4.6 stars out of five.

Natural Grass-fed Butter in Canada

I’m shopping for grass-fed butter for two reasons.
1) The health benefits are excellent.
2) It definately tastes better.
3) And I want to make my own Bulletproof coffee.

If you are in Canada like me, shopping for natural grass-fed butter is a frustrating experience. Even the fancy hip health stores in urban centers like Montreal and Toronto doesn’t carry any. The main reason lies in our regulatory system and our seasons. Canada is subject to many strict dairy and agricultural laws, import restrictions, and we have a good winter. A snow diet is not considered grass-fed. Forget importing, Canada like other nations are very protective of their dairy industry. If there’s one thing the Bulletproof recipe has no wiggle room for, it’s the butter. It requires that you use organic unsalted grass-fed butter. Anything else other than grass-fed takes the “proof” out of bulletproof.

However, you can work your way around it. First two options are complicated and the third one is realizable.

1) Have a friend that goes to the U.S. and have brings back some. This option is not suitable for the majority of people. First, you need a friend. Second, you need a friend that goes to the U.S. Third, you need a friend that’s willing to bring butter back and that can be annoying. You might have 500 Facebook friends but where are they when you need real grass-fed butter?

2) Another hard way is to contact local dairy farms to see if they have any. Some farm produce some, but quantities can be hard to come by and it’s very seasonal. That option is one of of those hit or miss.

3) You can do what I do. Right now I’m using the L’Ancêtre butter based out of Quebec. In Canada, to have your butter qualify grass-fed, it needs to be 60% grass-fed. L’Ancêtre is at least 60% grass-fed and even more depending on the season. Now 60% is clearly not enough. However there’s a way around it. The key is to get your butter in the summer.Between May and October, cows are outside eating grass. You will notice that the butter is more yellow during that period and that’s a good sign. For the other part of the year, the winter part, the cows are fed a mix of grains depending on the farmer (and cost). That’s supposed to be other 40%. At least with L’Ancêtre, those grains are organic. My recommendation is to stock up the freezer with summer butter which is mostly grass fed. Butter freezes well and can be kept a long time.

Other notes: A lot of people swears by the popular brand name is Kerrygold. Kerrygold is classify organic and grass-fed. However Kerrygold is 90% grass-fed because Ireland has a winter too. By surfing the net, it seems that many are disappointed and feel cheated by the findings.

Best Thing I Heard All Week – How to Settle Any Debate

Congress should really follow this old Persian advice on how to settle any debate. The debate over debt, obamacare, and budgets would more much more colorful. And it would probably be done by now.


Having Coffee Breaking Bad Style

I like a good cup of coffee. Who doesn’t? Having traveled the world and seeing the many different ways coffee is made has turned me into a bit of coffee nerd. I have the traditional drip filter machine, a Breville expresso machine, a Vietnamese coffee maker, a French press, an Italian espresso maker, and now a syphon coffee maker. Now you might ask which one is the best? It’s really how you like your coffee and the type of beans you use. Use good high quality water and the best beans available. Most people underestimate the importance of these two key ingredients and blame the machine when a cup of coffee is not good.

Here is my latest experiment. If you watched Breaking Bad, you have certainly seen the hyper cool over the top coffee machine in the lab. I was able to import something 1/100th the size to replicate the feeling of knowing something about coffee making.
The machine: Hario TCA-3 Syphon / Siphon Vacuum Coffee Maker

The seller: Japanese Poppin Culture
At first, I was highly skeptical since he was a new seller on Amazon and his price for the machine was $20 dollar lower then everybody else for the same machine (I got it for $70, others: $90+). The store also only charge $5-6 for shipping from Japan which gave me the feeling “too good to be true”. So I went against my gut feeling and bought the machine anyway. It turned out to be a great buy and I made my first brew. I must say that the experience was awesome and the coffee was excellent.

Here are some pictures:






Alcohol and Traveling – Possibly the best travel tip ever | Awesome Loophole

The Economist Gulliver Business travel blog offer their best travelling tip ever. The credits goes to the Atlantic’s James Fallows. You can thank him.

As someone that enjoys a drink as much or more than the next guy (and is also frugalish), the fluids rules for flying were a huge bummer for me because it was my practice for morning flights to build myself a nice big bloody mary in a disposable bottle for consumption as I passed my way through the security apparatus and inevitable downtime before the flight. Rather a good deal compared to the pathetic offerings for top dollar otherwise available to travelers. Which brings me to my travel tip: Minis (the tiny little liquor bottles) happen to fit into your TSA quart sized baggie and are perfectly legal to take through security. A bottle of OJ on the far side of the line and you’re in screwdriver heaven. Although, please be discrete as the US still has insane open container laws. Which brings me to my story: Not long after I figured out this loophole, I tossed my baggie full of minis in the x-ray bin and the TSA screener looked at them and gave me a broad grin and said, “Now there’s a man ‘at knows how to fly.” To which I could only grin and nod in agreement.

The article goes on:

Now, since America’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) hates fun and merriment and America’s airlines probably don’t want you bringing your own drinks on board when you could be buying from them, it’s important to be discreet about this travel tip. Don’t bring 20 minis on the plane, get drunk, try to open the door mid-flight, and ruin it for everyone else. As they say in the adverts, please drink responsibly.

*In some countries, it’s more strict. Under Canadian law, the aircraft operator must provide the alcohol, in addition to serving it. You cannot provide your own for on-board consumption. In the US you can’t self serve. You have to give the bottle to a flight attendant and she will serve it to you. You probably won’t have any problems as long you are discrete.