Optimus 45 Retrofit–Cobra Burner, Heater Dome, and Flame Spreader

The great things about decades old designs are that they work consistently, last forever, and acquire all manner of add ons. This seventies vintage Optimus 45 kerosene stove has any number of improvements and additions. I will go from the most complex to the simplest.

Cobra Burner

The Cobra Burner, aka the Silent Burner, was originally made for the Optimus 48 stove. It didn’t take long before campers found out it also fit the 45. Though no longer made in Sweden, these burners are widely available, as they are made in at least two south Asian countries, where these wonderful stoves are often the main cooking utensils used. Allegedly, they are widely used in Himalayan base camps–by the guides. I bought my parts from Julian Shaw in the UK, via fleaBay. He knows his stuff.

This was my first choice for a Christmas present. It turned out the complete assembly was comprised of eight parts, with no instructions for assembly. I suspect this burner was made in India, which is the primary source of reproduction stoves of this variety (the other is Malaysia). There are also very high quality versions of this stove made in Japan, at an also very high quality price.

After some research, I assembled the burner in the proper sequence. The jet was clogged, and needed a thorough cleaning to even operate. Then it still roared, though less than the original burner. On the sixth trial run, the magic happened–it began burning “silently,” which is actually a very quiet hissing sound.

After a few minutes of observation, I came up with what the American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce called an “abduction,” which was his term for the process that is used to create a hypothesis: The sound and heat level was determined by the amount of pressure in the stove tank. I tested it again, and was proven to be correct, as all it took was more pumping with the pump on the right side of the stove, to produce the classic blue flame.

Roasting Hot

Heater Dome

This simple device fits any stove with a ring, regardless of manufacturer, and produces prodigious amounts of heat. There are pictures on the internet of these glowing red. After reading Into the Wild, I am never going to use this inside a tent, which was its original purpose. It will make a great hand warmer in the outdoor kitchen during the winter.

Hot and Getting Hotter

Flame Spreader

I also upgraded the old Roarer Burner with a flame spreader. It really helps to intensify the heat from the original burner.

Red, not Blue, Flame
Brass Flame Spreader

This flame spreader just sits on the top ledge of the burner. The next addition is a companion brass windscreen.

My wife Melanie Jane thinks this thing looks like a baby Dalek, after the alien villains in the BBC show Doctor Who. However, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a gear head is a gear head, is a gear head, is a gear head.

Lard Help Us–Again

Everyone should read the article from the website Raw Story with the following link, about how hydrogenated cottonseed oil replaced good old lard. It’s a perfect story about the decline of American food, funded by the industrial food industry.

How Crisco toppled lard – and made Americans believers in industrial food

Great Southern Cookbooks, Part Two–Real Cajun, by Donald Link (2009)

Real Food for Real People

There is only one thing to not like about this book, and that is I wish it was ten times longer. When you keep going back to the same cookbook over and over, you know it’s good. The “home cooking” part is the key here–these are recipes to use everyday.

Link has won a James Beard award, so home cooking may sound like an odd subject for such an accomplished chef. However, that is his strong suit, in that he cooks real authentic Louisiana food. He grew up in the region where people are comically referred to as “Coonasses,” as he notes in the book, which is a regional term for Cajuns.

The recipes? My favorites are the Chicken and Rice Soup, the Hush Puppies, the Hot Pepper Jelly, and the classic Cajun sausage, the Boudin. Cajun Boudin is mostly rice with liver and pork, but it is incredibly tasty. A Cajun seven course meal is said to consist of a Boudin, and a six pack of beer.

Strangely enough, Link is not of mainly French descent, but from German and regular Southern folks. That there are Cajuns of German descent is a surprise to many people from outside the South. And yes, those are the classic Cajun spices of Paprika and Cayenne pepper in the picture.

Germany's Most Beautiful Cow Is Dead

Sad news from Deutsche Welle, the Voice of Germany. The German cow who won more cow beauty pageants than any other, is dead at the age of thirteen. She actually won more than twenty bovine beauty contests, and was named “Lady Gaga.” I wish I could make this up.

Worse than that, this Holstein was born in France.

Cranberry Sauce with Pumpkin Pie Spice

How it Starts

Here’s what you do with that pumpkin pie spice that’s been in the spice cabinet for two years, other than poisoning a good cup of coffee with it. Cranberries make a formidable opponent for any seasoning mix, but it turns out to be a fair and delicious fight. Above is how it starts.

Ingredients

12 ounces fresh Cranberries

1 cup Water

Juice and pulp of one Lemon (we use Meyer lemons)

1 cup organic Sugar

Pumpkin Pie Spice

There’s not much to cooking this other than not letting it burn. Boil for 10-15 minutes, depending on how thick you want the sauce. After ten, it will look like this:

Moderately Thick

I wait until mine jells. Here’s the final result.

Be careful with the spice, as it becomes stronger after the sauce chills in the fridge. As a point of reference, cranberries actually grow in the South, in West Virginia, in the famous Cranberry Glades botanical area. Unfortunately, most of those berries are eaten by bears. I’ve been within ten feet of one there.

"Schnitzel Alarm" in Germany!

Achtung! There’s a schnitzel crisis in Germany, according to the authoritative website Deutsche Welle (that’s Voice of Germany). EU exports to China have caused a tripling of pork prices on the continent.

The cause–Swine Fever, which is killing pigs in China faster than an abacus can count. DW also reports that China plans to import three million tons of pork, much of it from the EU. And I have always loved sweet and sour pork.

So keep an eye on your pigs. Globalization is also a pig problem, and not just with Kapitalistenschwein (that’s capitalist pigs). According to the head of Germany’s Meat Association, “Sausage will definitely be more expensive next year.”

It’s time to invest in pork belly futures again.

Update! Denmark is considering building a wall along their border with Germany, to keep out the notorious wild German pigs, who may or may not be carrying Swine Fever–currently, there are no confirmed cases. The Germans have nicknamed it the “Boar-der Wall.” Now that is droll.