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Do it yourself guide

Learn how to do daily things on your own.

Print Edition: September 19, 2010

Dish out a flawless LAMB BARBECUE

What good is your grill without a great recipe to cook on it? Time you moved beyond tandoori chicken and fish tikkas.

The Bard may have argued that it's better to have burnt and lost than never to have barbecued at all. But who wants to waste a good barbecue evening on testing and trying?

Especially when you can get a pro like Rossano Renzelli (Chef de Cuisine of Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant at The Westin Mumbai Garden City) to dish out some quick cues. The key to a good cookout, the chef says, are freshness and uniformity. All the meat pieces should be of the same size so that they cook evenly. And remember, you may have the fanciest BBQ grill in the neighbourhood, but it's the marinade that makes, or wrecks, your barbecue. So, douse the meat liberally with salt, olive oil, rosemary and garlic and let it sit for a good 24 hours before you braise.

Chef Renzelli does not suggest grilling the meat for the entire cooking time; you can switch to the oven later, he says. But before that, pan-sear or grill the lamb on both sides (with two tablespoons of olive oil, for threefour minutes). Once the lamb turns light brown, transfer it from the pan/grill to the oven. Roast it in a pre-heated oven to 180-200 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes. Serve with red wine.

There are some tricks to tell how well the lamb is cooked. If the meat is soft to touch and pink in colour, it's rare. If the rack is firm and has a rich brownish glaze, with juices oozing out, consider it well done. To figure precisely if it's medium-rare or medium-welldone is a tougher deal since they are too close to differentiate by just colour or texture. So it's probably safest to go by the timing on the oven instead of trying to play Jamie Oliver. For medium-rare, set the timer on the oven for an additional four minutes; and for medium-well-done, for an additional eight minutes. The additional time is approximate; check the meat frequently and use a fork to test firmness and finality. The smells wafting from the barbie should compensate for the heartburn.

Choose your iPad style

SMOOTH & SUAVE
Gucci's rubberised, suede-lined black leather case with a strap closure to limit the pressure on the touch screen Price: $230 plus (Rs 10,733).

FASHION-FORWARD
Mandarin calfskin case by Ferragamo protects the touchscreen even as the golden brass logo keeps things chic. $290 to $390 (Rs 13,533 to Rs 18,199).

INTELLECTUAL
Printed with a letter addressed to 'Alfred Dunhill', along with two lines that look like the letter's been strapped in. Price on request.

DRAMA KING
Oscar de la Renta's embroidered lambskin case. Also available in carnation, white marigold and stone. $290 to $390 (Rs 13,533 to Rs 18,199).

Secure a wireless ROUTER

An unsecured wireless network is an open invitation to hackers. Here's how to secure your router to avoid that. Access your router's configuration wirelessly or via the cable provided. Visit the router's configuration URL on your web browser and change the administrative password. The router's default network name is usually the name/model of your personal wireless router.

This information could give a hacker entry into your network. Change this name using alpha-numeric characters and avoid using your personal details. Finally, add the unique hardware MAC address to your access control list, which ensures that only devices manually added to the router's access control list are allowed to be connected.

Create a backup of all your new router settings so that it does not go back to a 'default' setting.

Prevent seasickness on a cruise

Does the fear of seasickness prevent you from signing up for the Alaska cruise you've always dreamed of? Don't let it: cruisers these days are very stable, and most are fitted with stabilisers to ensure a smooth voyage. Plus, a few, simple steps should keep nausea at bay. First, avoid eating acidic or spicy food immediately before you travel. Avoid alcohol as well; starting your cruise with even the hint of a hangover is not a good idea.

And too much liquid sloshing around in your stomach won't help matters. An hour or two before boarding, pop an overthe-counter pill like Avomine to combat nausea. Alternatively, apply a motion sickness patch behind your ear four hours before sailing and change if necessary after 72 hours. Once you've cast off, go to the deck, stand to the centre of the ship, facing forward, and look out at the horizon. Before you know it, you'll be singing Sailing a la Rod Stewart.

TREK WITH GOOGLE EARTH

Ok, let's face it, it isn't that difficult to get the hang of Google Earth, but you can put it to some really cool uses. Like devising a 3-D trekking route that gives you a better idea of the terrain you want to cover. While you get some really good books with routes and maps, its next to impossible to find 3-D models that give you a good idea of the terrain.

One way to do it is to consult a route on a map and transpose it to GE. Your friend is the superb Tilt function on the software, which allows you to tilt the screen image up. Plainly put, it makes all the difference between a flat top-down view of Mt Everest and actually viewing it head-on. It's a useful tool, along with the Zoom In/Out toggle, to keep your bearings.

Now from the Add menu, click on Path (Ctrl+Alt+P). The most convenient way to add a path is to use the Regular Shape, where you add multiple points along the proposed route, and then connect the dots. When you do so, the software tells you the distance between these points and their elevation.

The deeper you go into the 3-D model of the region on your screen, the more detailed the path gets. In this way you can draw the entire route of your trek on the screen, and, in effect, get yourself a 3-D map. Upload this on your GPS device or take printouts of the route for the perfect supplement to your normal map. The new GE 5.2 even allows you to view a cross-section profile of your route, which gives you a good idea of elevations.

Sign up for TAI CHI

Want to stay forever young? Try tai chi. This ancient Chinese martial art that harmonises body and soul is said to be the only non-impact exercise in the world that can help reverse aging. There are many styles of tai chi: each named after the Chinese family that originally taught it. The key difference between them lies in the speed of the movements and the way the body holds the poses. This being a fairly intimate activity, it is very important to gel with your teacher. So choose someone you think you will like or, at least, respect.

Word of mouth is one way to find a teacher but, remember, reputations can be misleading. Visit the school and meet the teacher personally before you choose. Also remember that the classes can be long: some stretch up to three hours. So slot enough time. Seasoned practitioners say you should attend at least 20 classes to get the feel of tai chi. Typically, the first 10 classes are spent relearning how to move and getting familiar with the techniques. If you're in Delhi and want to learn this "meditation in motion", Delhi Tai Chi has a new batch starting on September 4. For details log on to www.delhitaichi.com.

Personalise your LIVING SPACE

It's all very easy to get professionally-designed interiors these days. The difficult part is putting your personal touch. But Rolly Gupta of luxe furniture store, House of Raro, has a few ideas to get you going. Large coffee tables are a rage these days, she says, but you can get especially creative with yours. Get old advertisements or movie posters laminated onto the table's surface.

Or find a store that lets you add pictures of your loved ones. Another idea is to have an antique liquor cabinet in the middle of your contemporarystyle living room/ bar area. One stand-out old piece looks stunning even in the most modern rooms. You can also give a regular chest of drawers a fresh new look by simply changing the plain knobs to decorative ones.

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