Smokehouse, Part 1–The Cold Smoke Machine

The Things You Find in the Scrap Pile

The game is afoot, as Sherlock liked to say to Watson. I am finally finishing off my brick oven, AND building a smokehouse to go along with it. There’s some history to go along with this plan.

Back in the day, every farmer in our area had a smokehouse. MJ’s grandfather’s was a beauty. He built a fire right in the middle of it, but only smoked meat during “hog killing weather,” which began in November when it formerly became very cold.. In short, cold smoking was the only smoking he did, which meant that the temps inside the smokehouse never topped ninety degrees.

I’m going for one that will cold smoke and hot smoke. I will be able to build a fire in the smoke house, and one outside of the smoke house, thanks to the steel wood stove that was buried under my scrap pile. Moving it also helped clean out my workroom.

Be that as it may, the foundation is also completed now, and I am ready to frame this thing. Check back in another week or two, as we are about to have some very good weather for working outdoors.

Gypsy Alert in Tuscaloosa

My one encounter with authentic gypsies (Romani) was in a convenience store in Tuscaloosa, back when Melanie Jane and I were both students at UA. Whenever I finished teaching a writing class, and was walking back to our apartment on Reid Street, I would stop by this hole in the wall store named Charles and Company, and would stop and buy us a treat–a bag of M&Ms. The checkout guy got so used to me buying the same thing everyday that he would have it rung up on the register before I even got there.

This particular day was challenging. By the time I got to the M&Ms department, the tiny store was full of women–Gypsy women. I guessed there were about twenty of them, and the leader of the group was a strikingly attractive young Romani woman, who was all up in the cashier’s face, waving dollar bills in the air and yelling “Marlboro! Marlboro! Marlboro!” That was enough to distract any young man. By the time the guy was finally able to find the sufficient packs of Marlboros to satisfy her, the other ladies had walked off with a decent percentage of the inventory. When I got to the checkout, I thought the dude was going to cry.

As per usual for a Graduate student, I had just enough cash to pay for the M&Ms. I was still wondering how to relay this info to MJ, when I got to our third floor apartment. Our radio was tuned to a local station that was appropriately crappy for a college town, and as soon as I walked in the door, the DJ said, and I am not making this up, “Emergency warning–a Gypsy alert has been issued for the City of Tuscaloosa. Repeat–a Gypsy alert has been issued for Tuscaloosa. Be on the look out for packs of Gypsies.”

Packs? Wolves, maybe? All I could do was laugh, and share my pack of M&Ms. I barely resisted calling the cops, and telling them that all I had seen were packs of Marlboros.

Favorite Woodworking Planes, Part Ten and 31/64–Gage Self-Setting Planes

The GOAT of Production Planes?

I have been off of WordPress for a month, as I have been setting up a new MacMini, a task somewhere in between cleaning the Augean Stables and finding the last digit of Pi. I am back with all new passwords, and projects delayed for too long. For example, look at that slab of Eastern Red Cedar the Gage plane sits upon. 6′ 7″ long, 14″ wide, and 2″ thick. It has new workbench written all over it.

Now back to that Gage G35 plane. It took over thirty years to corral all the parts. The last part was the combo cap iron and chip breaker, bought from the top tool seller in the country (he had several of them). I think my total investment in this plane was $29. A mint version of the same plane sold for $1700 plus.

Why so much Jack for a production plane? It is essentially an absolute masterpiece of late nineteenth century industrial design. Let me list a a few of the innovations.

The Parts

To start, the plane blade/frog Combo is rock solid. The iron slides into the frog via a slot in the built in frog. The depth adjustment is far more accurate than a comparable Stanley one, and the slot means no floppy lateral adjustment. And that is not even the best part.

The trick shot is the union of the cap iron with the chip breaker. The chip breaker is essential another plane iron, turned around bevel up–thereby creating a double iron, twice as stiff as a Stanley plane. The cap iron is also adjustable up and down, and is tightened without the need of any tools, such as a screwdriver.

The final result of this is to create a “self setting” plane. Loosen the cap iron combo, take out the iron and sharpen it, and then re-assemble. No fiddling about with the chip breaker when the iron is put back in the plane. It is almost exactly the same depth every time.

Why didn’t this company crush the competition? Stanley bought them out, and after two decades of ownership, closed down the company. Just another example of rotten American business practices. Thankfully these champs are still in circulation on auction sites, though the prices vary wildly. Timing is everything–my retirement looms, and Melanie Jane bought me a G36 Jack plane for $49. Soon I will be officially “retard,” for all of you Borat fans. Sacha Baron Cohen introduced that term in Mt. Brook, Alabama, a place he loves to jape. The scene from Bruno in Mt Brook is even better than that.

The Best Food Joke of all Time

If you want to start an argument, ask who is the comic GOAT (greatest of all time). Evidence submitted: Richard Pryor. As comedy fans know, Pryor once set himself on fire while free-basing cocaine. His response was to turn it it into a comedy routine involving milk and cookies.

Let me tell you what really happened… Every night before I go to bed, I have milk and cookies. One night I mixed some low-fat milk and some pasteurized, then I dipped my cookie in and the shit blew up.

Richard Pryor

He had a zinger to finish this bit:

I’m not addicted to coke, i just love the way it smells

Richard Pryor

Pure genius.

Kitchen Invasion, Part Six: Eastern Red Cedar Rolling Cart

Rolling Invasion

Because everyone needs a piece of kitchen furniture in their living room, our new rolling cart currently lives in there. Its original home was the bathroom, an even stranger place for kitchen furniture. It didn’t stay there long before it was put to use.

The design is very loosely based on a piece that is being sold by an Amish furniture shop. I made it more complicated than necessary, as it ended up with about twenty different parts. However, all those parts make it incredibly sturdy. The wheels roll so well I’m thinking about entering it in the next Talladega 500.

The first time we used it it worked a a portable table that was covered in pizza makings. Next week it turns into a corporate cart, as Melaine has to organize a whole series of conference calls, and needs the extra workspace. It should be able to take the abuse–the finish is a no VOC water based polyurethane, hard enough to be used on gym floors. Over that is an equally hard floor polish. Corporate America is on notice.

A Floating Dairy in the Netherlands

Thomas Jefferson, during his travels through Europe, found the Dutch to be the most prosperous people there, unlike France, and the kingdoms of Germany, where the hated aristocracy hogged up all the cash. They have proved it once again, by having the world’s first floating dairy farm in Rotterdam. They are so clever, as are the journalists of Agence France-Presse, who reported this story.

Talk about vertical integration, and this barge has it. Three stories, with the dairy cows on the top. The middle floor is for cheese, yogurt, and butter making. The bottom floor is to age the cheese. The whole thing goes up and down with the tide, though the owners say that the cows don’t get sea sick.

It only gets better. The cows eat surplus food, such as leftover grapes, grass clippings, and barley from a brewery. No commercial feed needed. The cow stuff becomes pelletized fertilizer, and the cow pee is recycled, astronaut style, into drinking water. The inputs are miniscule.

The Dutch government thought the farmers who came up with this idea were crazy. What they were was crazy smart.

A Pizza Hut and Three AK-47s

As someone who spent an entire two months working at a fast food joint, every year at this time I have to celebrate the anniversary of the great Pizza Hut heist. This particular robbery involved three young women who were teenagers, all of whom were packing AKs.

The locale was Bessemer, Alabama, part of the Birmingham Metroplex. When you have a new AK, the impulse is to use it, so they decided to knock over the local Pizza Hut. And they were not after the bread sticks.

The news for this trio went from bad to worse. Anyone who has worked in retail lately knows that hardly anyone pays cash–it’s all on the plastic. The teenager’s reward was twenty something bucks and change, which they promptly lost in the parking lot. Then the police, who must have mistaken the Hut for a doughnut shop, nailed them right away.

Moral of this story? Don’t mess with the Hut in this state. It’s enough to make Mikhail Kalashnikov proud.

Genovese Style Pesto

Bring Out the Marinara Sauce

Munich has a Beethoven Ambassador, the brilliant young pianist Sophie Pacini, but Genoa in Italia has a Pesto Ambassador, one Roberto Panizza. Pesto alla Genovese even carries a special designation from the Italian government. Leave it to the Italians.

I am all out of basilico Genovese, the only basil officially allowed for their genuine pesto, so I made this with just garden variety sweet basil. I also substitued sunflower seed kernels for the mandated pine nuts.

Ingredients

Basil leaves, enough to pack a Food Processor

Sunflower Seed Kernels

2 cloves Garlic

2 pinches coarse Sea Salt

Time to turn this into a paste. Give it a few buzzes with the processor. There isn’t a lot else that these things are good for.

Add the following.

1 cup grated hard Cheese

The standard cheeses are parmesan and peccorino, but all I had was piave, so I used that. Buzz that in, then start to drizzle in olive oil. Keep adding until you get the consistency you want–the current standard is a paste. Then I preserve mine by freezing them in an old ice tube tray, and then storing the cubes in a zip-lock freezer bag. Then my processor gets a break for another week or more.

The framework for this recipe comes from Panizza himself, and an interview he gave to Domenica Marchetti for the book Preserving Italy. That’s why the man is the Pesto Ambassador.

Remedial Linguistics–The Difference Between Weary and Wary

Though this is really a post about not drinking bleach or taking medicine intended for livestock, both of them point to the pitiful state of American education. This headline is from CNN today.

New mother who was weary of vaccine while pregnant dies of covid before holding newborn.

CNN

Don’t drink bleach, take your dogs heartworm medicine, or your cow’s de-wormer, and for god’s sake, get a dictionary, CNN. Also try looking at it.

Creole Grillades and Fresh Peas

Before the Swallowtails Eat All the Parsley

This is a close copy of the Grillade recipe in The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook. As I cannot follow any instructions, I added one ingredient.

Ingredients

One cube Steak, cut into small pieces

Bacon Fat

1/2 Onion, Diced

1 clove Garlic

1 tablespoon Flour

2 medium Tomatoes, milled

Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper

Chopped Parsley

To start, cook the onions in the bacon fat. Add the garlic, and cook for a few seconds. The addition of the flour makes the roux–brown it properly. Add the steak, and cook for about a minute. Finally add the tomatoes and chicken stock for something of a creole sauce. The parsley is garnish.

We use LA rice to go with this, and we just bought a basket of perfectly fresh pink eye purple hull peas. What we didn’t eat went into the frizzer for the winter. We are the ants in the Ant and Grasshopper fable, as we also buy twenty pounds of rice at a time. We just about need a bigger frizzer.

Early American Industries Association

Celebrating Trades, Crafts, and Tools in American History and Their Impact on Our Lives

Books and Such

YA author supporting other authors

OffGuardian

because facts really should be sacred

Ruth Blogs Here

Or not, depending on my mood

A Haven for Book Lovers

I am just a girl who loves reading and talking about books

what sandra thinks

because I've got to tell someone.

LadiesWhoLunchReviews,etc

a little lunch, a little wine, a LOT of talking!

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

This, That, and The Other

Random musings on life, society, and politics.

talltalesfromchiconia

Tales of quilting, gardening and cooking from the Kingdom of Chiconia

Cyranny's Cove

Refuge of an assumed danophile...

Exiled Rebels

Serving BL since 2017

this is... The Neighborhood

the Story within the Story

Beauty lies within yourself

The only impossible journey in life is you never begin!! ~Tanvir Kaur

Southern Fusion Cooking

Country Living in the Southern Appalachians, USA--A little of this, a lot of that

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

The Atavist Magazine

Country Living in the Southern Appalachians, USA--A little of this, a lot of that

%d bloggers like this: