The Tasting

If you have been reading my previous Posts Here, Here, Here, and Here. You know I have made my own BACON! So.... How does it taste. Well pretty damn good. First off this is BACON! that is not for the faint of heart. This is Fire Fighter BACON! This BACON! makes the smoke alarm go off when you bring it out. The closest any other BACON! comes to this is "Newsom's Old Mill Store Hickory Smoked Country Bacon". Since I used Alton Brown's Scrap Yard Challenge BACON! cure, this BACON! is a little on the sweet side (but not much) you definitely get the taste of molasses and cider every once in a while. The BACON! is not salty, in fact The next time I make it I will drop the Sugar and maybe add an additional half cup of salt to the brine. It does not have the "hammy" taste that many bacon's have. There are no nitrates in this cure so the meat will not be a pretty pink (but I couldn't care less). Because of the extra sugar the BACON! tends to brown quickly, and if cooked at too high heat will burn easily. The smokiness varies but is refreshingly strong. One of my brothers described it as "eating a burning building, or campfire" There is relatively little curling, and almost no splatter as I did not "inject" the cure into the bacon like most manufactures do. The meat has a light almost porky flavor and the fat is where you will find the molasses and apple cider flavors. Mike reported the BACON! is good, but every once in a while you bite in to a part of it that taste "REALLY GOOD". The meat is very tender, as compared to how it was before being cured (I cooked some up before hand to compare).

Things I would change:
Get skinned, loin end bellies (they are thicker).
Skip the extra sugar in the cure.
Add a little extra salt.
Cure the bacon for 5 days instead of 3 (cure needs more time to penetrate).
Smoke with Cherry, or Apple wood.



First Crash

So we went out today to fly the plane again, even though it was a bit too windy. First flight I did pretty good, the repairs to the landing gear held. Landing was tough as I had a 5 to 10 mph head wind. The plane either wanted to stay up or wanted to nose dive. Flight 2 went well. Flight 3..... eh not so much. I misjudged the distance and flew over the apartment complex nearby (which I did not want to do, the wind was blowing me way off course). On the last go around I was over the parking lot and flew into a palm tree (ouch). It put a small dent in the right wing, and broke the hot glue joints (nothing major). Foam planes can take a lot of punishment. Here is the video.

Flew it several more times, landings were a bit tricky. So you know if you haven't destroyed the plane, why stop? The last flight was going good, I even did another barrel roll, but as I came in for a landing I over corrected, flipped over, and nosed dived straight into the ground. Severely bending the landing gear, and munging the nose. See for your self.

More pictures from Chris.
Oh The Carnage, Note the cockpit cover to the right of the plane.

Well "Trips over", we went home. Later, using epoxy and packing tape I glued all the cracks in the foam, and tried to put the nose back into shape. I straightened the landing gear, re-glued the wings on, and we will see how she fly in a week or two.

First Flight

Ever since I was a wee lad, I always wanted a remote controlled airplane, but I/we never had the money/time, or whatever. So recently I started looking online and found a website www.nitroplanes.com. I saw a lot of planes I liked, and had to have, but finally settled on something more on the trainer side. I picked the Dynam Hawk Sky (weird name, I guess "Sky Hawk" was already taken). Anyways. I ordered it and the E-sky Flight sim and USB 4 Channel transmitter. I read up on it and it had some bad reviews, so I downloaded Clearview and installed that on my Windows XP Media Center pc, with our 37" HD TV. In the meantime I ordered an extra Battery and one of these.

Although I have actual flight time, and soloed in a Piper Warrior, used many different flight simulator, I figured it would be worth the money to practice on the sim before trying to fly the real thing. Turned out to be a good idea, as I crashed a lot. So for the last week I have been practicing for 1 or 2 hours a night. Of the many planes I tried the Cessna 182 seemed to fly like a real "small plane". I tried to find a Hawk Sky to download, but no one had that Aircraft. The closest was the Easy Star but it doesn't have ailerons.

Yesterday morning while the BACON! was smoking I began building the plane. A couple of days prior I had found a forum discussing the "Hawk Sky" and read up on it, good thing to. I put it together using Epoxy and hot glue, instead of the glue that came with it. Here it is disassembled.
The instructions were relatively easy to follow, even though they were written in Engrish. Prior to actual assembly I connected everything up and verified all servos worked. I put the rudder and elevator on with epoxy, and the main wings on with a small amount of hot glue on the leading and trailing edge wing roots, this way if I needed to take it apart again I could. I attached the servo cables to the rudder and elevator, and tightened them with loctite. The Instructions had no information about how to wire or attach the motor (So I guessed). I also insulated the connections with shrink tubing instead of the small and inadequate insulators provided. Since the tech support at nitroplanes lied about the second battery I ordered I had to modify both of them so I could use them in the AC. Once assembled I centered and trimmed all the servos so that all the control surfaces were centered and neutral. Later in the day Chris and Mike came over and we went to a vacant lot near 40th street and McDowell (the city of Phoenix does not allow RC planes in their parks). Here is the plane Fully assembled and ready to go.
I did not put on the decals as I do not care that much about them, and they were munged in the box. I also mounted the small gum spy camera in the cockpit, So without further ado here is that video.

Just before flying it today I did some practice with a similar glider. I would say that the Clearview sim helped a lot, but the actual airplane was easier to fly than any of the ones in the simulator. I would have had more footage but the spy camera for some reason discharged it's battery very quickly. So here is some footage from the ground. Please excuse the glitches the tape needs to be replaced.
There were only 2 mishaps, One when I landed the first time (the landing gear fell off and we had to look for the wheels). However I was warned that this would happen, So I hand launched it for the remainder of the day, and the second was when the first battery got low and I lost signal, the plane semi crashed on a pile of dirt. It was kind of like those cheesey effects where in TV shows the plane always flies behind a hill before crashing, and all you see is the explosion.
I found the plane to be quite responsive. I did several loops and a couple of barrel rolls (Star Fox would be proud). I even strafed Mike and Chris, and almost hit myself as well. So here are a bunch of pictures courtesy of Chris.

Tonight I Reattached the wheels to the landing gear and epoxied it back to the frame. I also epoxied some Teflon tape to the underside of the fuselage so that if I have to do anymore belly landings it will save some wear and tear on the foam.
So anyone looking to buy this aircraft as their beginner RC plane will not be disappointed, and to anyone that says you can't learn to fly an RC plane using just a simulator, my response is:

Joseph Ducreux Sings - I


The Pellicle and the Smoke

First let me say that the freezer bags half filled with water did a very good job of keeping the cure at around 36 degrees. 4 bags last 24 to 36 hours.

I got home last night around 5pm. drained the cure and hung up one of the slabs to dry for an hour. While that was happening I setup the smoker.
To power the fan I used an old multipurpose hobby electronics deal, thingy....(I don't remember what it is called). It has a signal generator, variable ac power supply, and variable dc power supply (among other things). Which was given to me by one of my sisters ex-husbands.
Anyways, I hooked the variable dc connection to the fan and set the voltage so that it would run the fan at the lowest voltage that would make the blades move. I then attached this to an electric timer to turn on and off about every 15 minutes. Off 15 minutes on 15 minutes.
I loaded the smoker with hickory wood chips and kept an eye on it till 23:00. Adding wood chips every 30 minutes or so. I ran a rod through the meat and hung it in the center of the cold smoker. I had to cut off the bottom 3 inches to keep it from touching the bottom of the can. I hung that piece from the rod as well.
After 5 hours of smoking I pulled the meat out and cut it into 4 or 5 inch wide pieces and froze them. I will slice later. I immediately fried some up, but will save the taste report for later. This morning I got up at 06:00 and did the same thing with the second slab. I will smoke this for at least 6 hours.


The Cure

Last night I made my cure for the BACON! I skinned the bellies as well. I will not post pictures as it was rather gross, and extremely difficult. The nipples did not help matters (yes nipples). For some reason the phrase "it puts the lotion on..." kept popping into my head. Anyways the bellies are in the brine, in a cooler, with bags of ice, which I will have to change out about every 12 hours. Next step
"the pellicle".


Building the Smoker

Way back when I first got into smoking meats, and before I decided to invest in a real smoker, I built the Alton brown Trash can Smoker. It worked so well I immediately purchased a real smoker. In preparation for smoking my BACON!, I converted it into a cold smoker. I went to Home Depot and purchased a second garbage can for $22.00. I had a long length of thin aluminum dryer tubing (never used) and some other parts. First thing I did was attach the Aluminum tubing and reducer to the new trash can at the bottom using pop rivets and duct tape on the inside.
I Attached the ducting with a large hose clamp. Attached a computer power supply fan to the top of the can on the opposite side.
The finished can looks like this.
I attached the other side of the hose to the old smoker and duct taped it in place.
I will be using a hot plate to generate the heat for the smoke. As a test I powered on the fan, lit some paper towels and put them in the old smoker. In a few seconds smoke came out. and after traveling through the long tube it was cooled by the outside air. Here is the results.
Unfortunately I do not have the meat ready to smoke yet, so I will start curing it this Wednesday and smoke it on the weekend.


The Once and Future BACON!

Well..... After a long absence, I finally have something to blog about.


I have been wanting to make my own BACON! for a while now, but I had to wait till the outside temperatures were low enough for cold smoking. That means I have a narrow windows of opportunity over the next month or so. Cold smoking requires temperatures of 70 degrees or less. Today I went to Hobe Meats at 6044 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ and picked up 2 whole pork bellies (frozen, skin on). They were $4.99 per pound. Total was over $100.00 (if your gonna make BACON!, make a lot). I will be using the Alton Brown Cure for this, and will probably smoke them next week (once I build my cold smoker). Stay tuned.


Hardware Review: Optimate Pro-S

The Optimate Pro-S is a battery charger/de-sulfator, made by Tecmate. The model I purchased came from www.batteryxpress.com and is the older version. The difference between the 2 is in the styling and the new model lets you choose the type of battery connected to it.

I purchased this battery charger because I have a growing collection of sealed lead acid batteries removed from uninterruptable power supplies. Many of them are completely dead but some may be just sulfated.

The unit claims to be able to recover a battery with as low a voltage as .8. It is primarily designed for "power sport" Lead acid batteries, used in ATV's, and motorcycles, but will work on any 12 volt lead acid battery.

Once I received the unit I selected some batteries, including one that had .5 volts. I expected the one with only .5 volts to fail but would try it anyways. As expected the .5 volt battery did not even register with the charger. I attached the battery to a standard charger which did not see it either. So I tricked the regular charger by jumpering a good battery to the bad battery while it was on the charger. This started it charging. Once it got to about five volts I hooked it to the Optimate. Interestingly enough it did not do a desulfate which is strange for a battery of this age (I later found out why). I left it on the charger for 24 hours but it was a no go.

I decided to just try batteries with at least 12 volts. It took a call to the manufacturer and some experimenting, as the instructions are written kind of like a run on sentence in a computer program. Here is what I found. If the charger is turned on when connected to the battery (manual says to do this) it does not check if the battery is sulfated even though the manual says that is the first thing it will do, however if the charger is connected to the battery after it is turned on it will test for sulfation. It appears that this is a bug in it's programming. The newer unit is supposed to be better behaved. The unit is supposed to indicate if a battery is good, ok, or bad using 3 lights, Green, Yellow, and Red. With combinations of the Green and yellow light for readings in between good and ok. I was never getting an indication of whether the batteries were any good. Just to test I hooked it to a known good battery and left it overnight. In the morning it registered good. So I started trying other batteries. I quickly found 2 other batteries that were good and I didn't know it.

I also found that If you repeatedly desulfate a battery you can revive it. Case in point I have 5 batteries that would not register as good, bad, or in between. I found that if I cycle though the batteries, letting each battery rest after its desulfating cycle, over time the resting voltage slowly climbs up. This worked so well that a battery I found that had a date code of July 1996 was brought back to good condition. Only testing will tell if it really is good, but the results were surprising.

I have also ran it on several of my car batteries, to see if they are still good, and they all are. I probably should have paid extra for the newer version, but once I got the kinks worked out, I am quite happy with the unit.

Update 5-6-10 None of the sealed lead acid batteries I tested, were revived enough to be used in a ups again. They could be used for other purposes but the UPS's would reject them.

Update 6-24-2012 From further research and testing it appears that the claim of reviving totally dead batteries is not possible. As my experiments showed.


Drunkest Guy ever

2001 Space Odyssey Drunk

Old Timey Drunk


This was too funny to pass up.
Note that this is appears to take place at 10:48am on a Tuesday.


Restaurant Review: Eden's Grill

Looking for new or different places to eat, I keep tabs on a website called Feasting in Phoenix. First I read the reviews and if a restaurant is interesting to me I check it out on the Maricopa county Website. I see how the restaurant does on it's inspections. The go/no-go decider for me is if a restaurant has "EVER" had roaches reported. If not, I will check it out. So recently I went through the website and found several restaurants I could try. Today we went to Eden's Grill. Seth at Feasting in Phoenix gave it a decent review so decided to try it out.

The restaurant is pretty long drive from our house. It is not a very big place, nice and cozy. The staff are very friendly. We started with the houmous which came with pita bread, it was creamy but it could of used a bit more spice. I ordered the Gyros plate, and Kathi ordered the Chicken and Gyros plate. My plate was a lamb and beef gyro (very good and not overly spiced up), it came with basmati rice that was flavored with something like Garum masala and it had golden raisins and almonds mixed in (very good). It also came with onions, some flat bread lightly seasoned with cinnamon and sugar and a small side of a yogurt sauce. Some of the Gyro meat had a sweet candy like sauce on it. Kathi's came with Gyro meat, and a small chicken fillet kebab. Hers had most of the stuff mine had except no flat bread with cinnamon. Kathi really like the rice. The only problems with our meal was that it was enough food for 4 people. We ended up taking most of it home for later. This restaurant is well worth the drive.



Demotivational poster. Monkey: I am not one

Demotivational Poster

Cloning: Just because you can do something... Doesn't mean you should.
Yeah I know, and old Photoshop, just trying out a program I found to make motivational posters.


Best Bread EVAR!

I have been searching for years, experimenting, trying different recipes in my attempts to find the perfect, easy to make bread recipe. I have 3 (Three) bread machines. I have tried to make sourdough starter and sourdough bread, in most cases what I got had more in common with beer than bread. Nothing had that perfect mix of:
Nice crispy crust.
Chewy Texture.
Great flavor.
Nice big bubbly holes.
Didn't require lots of work.

Until now.

Yesterday In what was probably my last attempt I googled "crispy bread crust" and stumbled upon the greatest non secret on the Internet, "Bittman's no knead bread". Everywhere I clicked people were raving about it. I read several blogs and even found the original video that shows how to make it. I had to try it immediately. First here is the video:

Now the recipe:

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast (Fleishmann's Highly active yeast)
1¼ teaspoons salt
Room temperature or cooler water.
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly, then add 1 & 1/2 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap (not air tight). Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at room temperature, between 70 & 80 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles and has expanded 2 to 3 times original size. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself 4 times (DO NOT SQUISH).

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball do not squash or knead. Generously coat a cotton tea towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats (no plastic). When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is okay. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes (check every ten minutes), until loaf is beautifully browned. If not sure take the breads internal temperature, it should be between 190 and 195 degrees. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

Makes One, 1½-pound loaf.

The hardest part of making this bread is transferring the risen dough to my dutch oven without it collapsing too much.

Several points to know if you want to make this bread.
Watch the video.
Do not use regular yeast.
Do not skimp on the salt.
If you use kosher salt use 1 and 3/4 teaspoons.
Do not pat, punch, squish, or otherwise rough up this dough in anyway.
You must use a dutch oven or some other lidded pot at least 1/4 inch thick.
When mixing the dough, the instant it comes together in a single mass, STOP cover it and walk away.
Just before you put the dough in the heated dutch oven cover the dutch oven bottom with cornmeal or wheat bran, DO NOT spray with Pam or use oil as it will instantly smoke and make the bread taste funny.
If you want a crispy crust the next day, place the bread in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Here are the pics I took.

The first picture is right after I mixed it, The second was The next morning about 12 hours later (it makes snap, crackle, pop sounds). I forgot to take a picture just before I shaped it 18 hours later, or after it was shaped.

The third picture was taken after I removed it from the Dutch oven and the last picture was after Kathi and I ate some of it. I actually over mixed it or the bubbles would have been bigger.

Now the science:

The reason for the instant yeast is that it is mixed with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) yeast get hyper active in the presence of vitamin c. Regular yeast could be used but you will need 3 times as much and it still won't give you quite the same results. The salt is there to slow down the yeast, and because it is not overly mixed the individual salt grains create localized areas where the yeast don't grow as well. The hyper active yeast make big bubbles in the dough. Letting it ferment for 18 hours adds flavor to the bread. If you smell it just before you shape it, it will smell a little bit like booze, as the yeast have turned some of the natural sugars in the bread to alcohol. Folding the bread 4 times creates crevices, when the bread is turned upside down in the dutch oven, these crevices open up and allow steam to escape. The dutch oven creates a miniature steam injection oven which is what makes the crust perfectly crisp.


Home Invasion (or Ratatouille?)

About 3 am I got up and was in the kitchen. I heard a noise coming from our range hood. It was making a clicking/banging noise similar to what it makes when there is a storm outside. The vent has a damper valve to prevent air from blowing back into the house. However it was never installed correctly by the previous owner. Anyways I looked outside and there was no wind blowing.... Hmm... oh well, back to bed!

Around 7am I wake up and go into the kitchen, The noise is still there, and there is a whole bunch of sticks, twigs, and debris on the stove??? I look under the hood and the filter is ripped up (but not all the way through). I wake Kathi up and tell her I think something is stuck in the vent pipes above the stove (I'm thinking cat, cause I have had that happen before just not here).

I pop the vent filter off and clean it, I look under the hood at the same time as Kathi does and a small pair of beady black eyes are staring back. Kathi freaks out."aaaaaahhhhhh! A RAT!!!!"

I quickly locate my pellet gun (luckily it had 2 pellets in it). I pump it up, take aim and...... I can't pull the trigger. I move the safety, take aim...... and can't pull the trigger WTF! Meanwhile the rat is trying to get out of the vent through the fan (which was not on), after messing with the BB gun again I realize I forgot to push the bolt forward. I fix that, take aim and...... Pop! Headshot!.

Ooooh.... right..... rats bleed and flail about after being shot in the head. So the rat falls through the opening and onto the stove, where it twitches and squirms for a few minutes.

Here is a picture, but you will have to click the link as it's a little gory.

SO! Once Remy stopped twitching I picked it up with a paper towel by the tail and put it in a ziplock freezer bag and straight into the trash.

GREAT! now I gots to clean up this mess. So down comes the range hood and everything on the stove gets a bath in bleach water, a salt shaker, and some decorative items on the wall get tossed.

Now a trip to home depot to get all the right parts to fix the vent and block the vent on the roof with mesh. While leaving Home Depot we ran into Gerry Meek. We return and after much cursing, etc. we get the vent fixed, the range hood back up, and I blocked the vent on the roof with mesh. Once on the ground I drink about a gallon of water as it is about 110 outside and I burned my ass, legs, arms, and anything else that touched the roof. But all openings on the roof, etc are rat proof now. I'm gonna take a shower!

Too bad for "Little Chef" though....