Warsaw Zoo Feeds Marijuana to Elephants to Reduce Stress

“Dude, I’m an Elephant. Chill out, Dude. Would I stomp on you?”

It is truthfully “medical marijuana,” aka CBD oil, the oliphants are getting. Apparently dogs and horses have been getting it for years, which could explain how our dogs act. Now it is on to literally bigger things.

The Polish, they are so clever. I hope they do the next movie about Dumbo, the stoned elephant. That sucker can fly.

Tomato, Shallot, and Morel Omelette

If you want to make an omelette…

Though there was a small mountain of peas to shell, and a bowl of pecans to crack, nothing can stand in the way of MJ and myself enjoying a nice Sunday breakfast. As usual, we just went with the ingredients we had.

The Raw and the Cooked

Ingredients

3 medium Eggs

2 small Tomatoes, chopped

5 small dried Morels, reconstituted in hot water, chopped

1 medium Shallot

Morel soaking liquid

Grated or soft Cheese

Chopped Parsley

Salt and Pepper

This is an easy recipe, but we scored some authentic long shallots (Echalote traditionnelle longue) from France, and nothing goes together like morels, shallots and eggs.

First cook the shallots and morels together in olive oil. (It helps to have a really heavy cast iron skillet.) Add the chopped tomatoes, and simmer until softened.

Combine the eggs, cheese, and some of the morel juice, with salt and pepper.. When the veg and fungus is cooked, add the eggs to the mix. Cook on the stove top until the eggs begin to set firmly, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and pop the whole thing into a 400 degree F oven. That’s the entire whang dang doodle.

Thank you, Birds

This can also be made with some fried new potatoes as the base, in which instance it becomes a massive breakfast. The key is quality ingredients, as with all things.

The eggs were donated by our ISA Brown chicks, and the chopped parsley was harvested from a pot on our countertop. We grew one of the maters, and the other came from the Festhalle. Which reminds me that I have maters to get ready for canning.

I turned Italian, and have begun straining out my leftover morel juice for use elsewhere. There will be no flavor left behind.

Food, Meet Southern Politics

Soccer Jersey still Fits, Decades Later

This is actually a heart warming story, after all the witticisms I have made about heart warming stories. This is how a bunch of smart Alabama white guys insured that the University of Alabama was peacefully integrated. Naturally, food was involved.

Dr. John Blackburn was something of a genius (there is still a Blackburn Institute at UA). I was something of your local friendly environmental radical as an undergrad. Then Dr. Blackburn came to speak at our dorm, Mallet, the Men’s Honors Dorm, which he had founded. After his talk, I became an all-around radical. I still am.

The gist is this: Dr. Frank Rose, the UA prez, was something of a genius himself (He also worked with NATO, and hired Bear Bryant as the football coach). He gave Blackburn the job of coming up with a plan to end segregation at UA, without the rioting that happened at the University of Mississippi. Blackburn’s idea in 1961 was beautiful. We’ll get a bunch of smart guys to be our enforcer goons against the frats, in case there was trouble. Thus the Mallet Assembly, the Men’s honor program was born. Even when I interviewed for a spot in the dorm seventeen years later, they still wanted only highly intelligent athletes. When they found out I was one of those three sport letter guys in high school, I was in.

Here’s where the food comes in. The frat expletives decided they could get rid of James Hood, the first Black male to enroll in 1963, by denying him a seat at the cafeteria. The whole plot was as laughable as George expletive Wallace standing in the school house door earlier that year. Everyone knew that frat expletives ate in their frat hidey-holes, and that they all had Black cooks. (The women’s Honors dorm, in Fitz Hall, protected Vivian Malone, who later became Vivian Malone Jones, the sister in law of US AG Eric Holder. Nobody messed with a Fitz woman, least of all some dainty sorority expletives.)

Dr. Blackburn passed the word down to Mallet–now is your time. After the Malleteers finished laughing at the idiocy of the frat’s plot, they decided it was time for the frat expletives to get some of the old what for. So they staged a little drama for the village idiots.

For the first time in history, when James went to pick up his first meal, every seat in the cafeteria was full. The Malleteers sat at their usual table, and tried not to laugh while the frat expletives all smirked. James was in on the plot, and came in with his tray of food, and looked around, as if confused. A Malleteer stood up, waved him over, and gave him his seat. The frats couldn’t believe that it happened. They really were that dense. Soon thereafter, Mallet was listed “as a subversive organization with capability to build a nuclear weapon.” I never saw any nukes, but a chemistry major made LSD in a sink in the kitchen next to my room.

Barely ten years later (thirteen, to be exact), Mallet ran, and elected, the first Black Student Government president. This was before my time, but I would have quoted Bertolt Brecht to the losers, “Erst kommt das Fressen, Dann kommt die Moral.” (Food First, and then Morality.)

Which leads to a lighter story, about our dorm soccer team, which was unbeatable for our first two years. I was a defenseman, but we were required to choose a nickname and a number for our jerseys. I choose the nickname of Sierra Club president David Brower, who defended the environment by founding The Friends of the Earth, and the Earth Island Institute. John McPhee’s great non-fiction book Encounters with the Archdruid featured three long stories about Brower.

“Without Wilderness the World is a Cage.” –David Brower, the original Archdruid

Truthfully, we won every match because our front line was three Nigerian grad students, all of whom were working on MS degrees in Petroleum Engineering. I actually would go a whole half sometimes, without ever seeing the ball come my direction. I did see a member of the frat league break his leg, when one of his rival frats kicked the snot out of him. Their game appeared to be more like a cross of rugby with thunderdome, than the beautiful sport we played.

Enterprise #5 Meat Grinder

Everything Old is New Again

After swearing that I would not buy another grinder, I bought another grinder. Temptation was too strong with this one. I would describe the condition here as mint, and this is straight out of the Fleabay box. I haven’t done so much as wipe the decades old dust off of it.

After a little investigation, I decided that the grinder was not mint–it was unused. The first clue was the state of the inside, working part of the grinder. There was not even a scratch on the grinding mechanism.

#22 and #5

I put the grinder plate from our #22 next to the #5 for comparison. We saw a television show about a small sausage factory in Cambodia whose only machine was a motorized #22. (Pulleys are still manufactured for the #22 and #32. You have to provide the motor.) The #12, #22, and #32 are all bolt down grinders–The #5, #10, and #20 are clamp to a countertop models. The #5 is a much more practical size for weekly use in a kitchen.

Back to the final evidence for why this was unused–it couldn’t have been. I took the machine apart, to inspect the condition of the cutter. The cutter is the essential part for decent grinding. This cutter had not only never been sharpened, it hadn’t even been ground to the point to where it had a beveled edge. It was exactly as it had been cast. The best it could have done was to make bread crumbs out of toast.

Appropriately enough, I ground it on my hand cranked grinder. I then sharpened it with a diamond coated metal plate, then a hard Arkansas natural stone, and finished it with a truly hi-tech 3M micro-abrasive sheet, with a grit of 15 microns. I’m not a complete Luddite. Just mostly. I couldn’t work without WD-40, either.

At any rate, this thing is ready to grind, and I love bright shiny things as well. The new model of these–they are still being made–is around a hundred bucks, and has an (ugh) epoxy finish on it. Although I have sworn on the Picayune Creole Cookbook that I will not buy another grinder, it will be hard to resist one in this condition. Especially if it’s the same price as this was–$6.

The Chicken Run

Things to do

Our chicken run is 16′ by 24,’ or 384 square feet, which is the size of an apartment in some cities. It houses eight hens, and they make sure to inspect every inch of it daily.

I just completely cleaned out both coops this weekend, and added ten gallons of pine shavings to various places. MJ was mowing with our electric mower, and added three bags of grass clippings and dried leaves. Those birds will be busy for days.

We have four sections to the run, the junkyard/compost bin, the run itself, and the large and small coop. I’ll describe each in turn.

Junk Yard/ Compost Bin

Junk in the Run

By far the favorite place for the birds to hang is the compost bin and junkyard combination. It’s small and shady, and the compost draws in bugs and worms. I did upgrade the mailbox nest by putting a scrap 2×4 in front of where the door once was, to keep the birds from scratching out all of the shavings as soon as I put them in there. It worked, as I found three eggs in there this morning.

Junkyard Chicks

The Run

Chicken Run with Running Chicken

The run itself takes up about two thirds of the enclosure. It has three watering stations, and the ground is usually covered in shavings and clippings at this time of year. There’s room here for the birds to run, flap their wings, and scratch for hours. In dry weather I also dump out various food for them to scrounge around and find. If I want to start a real chicken riot, I’ll stand on the outside, and throw small chunks of various goodies in there, one after another. To the fastest bird goes the spoils.

The Big Coop

Snack Time at the Big Coop

This decent sized pre-fab coop easily houses six grown chickens at night, and we fill it with four Barred Rocks and two ISA Browns. The browns have taken over the top part of the coop, which leaves three quarters of it to the Rocks. This coop is also right next to the junkyard, so the birds can pop in for a quick bite at any time. My two additions are a homemade PVC feeder, and a one gallon watering jug made from a Sterilite container, which has been drilled and fitted with five little automatic, spring loaded watering devices. The foundation is 4×4’s, another addition of mine, so this thing is not going anywhere.

The Small Coop

Cozy for Two Birds

The small coop is a snug fit for two grown birds, but they have food, water, and a comfy perching area in the top section. This doubles a rabbit hutch, so it didn’t come with a nesting and perching area in the top section. I made both out of wood from my scrap pile. the next step is to double the 4×4 foundation, which will give an extra 3 1/2″ of head room in the lower section.

Any future plans? No more layers in the near future, unless a dog breaks in again, and kills a few. Plans for next spring are tentative, but the idea is to have another pen, with a door into this one, to raise that famous meat bird that originated in Bresse, France, that has blue legs. I would also like a breeding population of those. so I can hatch out my own. Fortunately, a farmer in Mississippi has a good genetics line from birds he imported from France. It may be time for road trip next spring.

ORANGE Tabasco Pepper

Peppers Galore. The View from our Deck. Sage in the background

Everyone who has used the Southern classic Tabasco Sauce knows that it is dark red. Imagine my surprise when I went to our local vegetable plant seller in the spring, and found that he was selling orange Tabasco pepper plants. I can never resist growing strange new crops–I also have a row of red broom corn, which is actually a plant from the sorghum family.

This was the result.

Future Pepper Flakes

That little reddish orange pepper is the first ripe Tabasco. It’s probably as hot as that whole Serrano that is right below it. I don’t know how this will work, but my goal is to dry all these, and make multi-colored pepper flakes with them. Then I can make some psychedelic sausages.

Seed Grinder and Mill

From Central Europe to You–The Grinder, not the Flour

I am down to my last two cast iron grinders to write about, and MJ has banned me from buying more. Even with that, I have my eye on a couple of them on Fleabay. Gearheads have no limits.

This Porkert mill is from the Czech Republic, and is the only one I have purchased new. It excels at grinding mustard seed for making fresh mustard. It will also produce a really good medium grain cornmeal. If you are Hulk Hogan, you could even attempt to grind wheat into flour with this. I have had the most success with spelt wheat, which is very soft.

I purchased this from Lehman’s in Ohio, as they have great service and great products. However, hereby hangs a tale, as I was once acquianted with the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic. He was even a customer of mine, back when I was in the Outdoor Retail business.

George W. appointed his favorite henchman from Alabama to be the Ambassador to the Czechs. The Czechs are famous for their metal casting, and I immediately suspected some industrial espionage, as Birmingham wasn’t just a steel town, but also a cast iron foundry town. Some of the finest cast iron cookware came from there. I’ll finish with a story about that.

At any rate, he was a good customer, as he had boat loads of taxpayer money to spend. I asked him about the Czech Republic when he came home for the holidays once. I asked him if he had seen the Faust House in Prague (by the way, Faust probably never lived there). His answer was as follows:

Ambassador: Who?

Me: Faust, the guy who sold his soul to the devil

Ambassador: Never heard of him

Me: You know, the Faust that Goethe wrote about

Ambassador: Never heard of him, either

So our educational system produces such products, and they become our Ambassadors to foreign lands. I should stop there, but I have a great cast iron story.

One of his friends, who was much more intelligent, was a retired Gent who worked with us one day a week. He was an expert fly fisherman, had been in the steel business, and knew every mill and foundry in town. His wife wanted some really fancy iron posts for their gate to their new house, and had him custom order some from a cookware foundry nearby. He went to pick them up on a Friday afternoon.

He said all the muscle bound foundry workers were there, lined up to collect their pay checks. He went up to the foreman of the plant, and stated that he wanted to pick up his cast iron posts. The foreman did this. He turned around and yelled:

Foreman: Hey, the guy is here to pick up his Mule dicks!

Everyone laughed but him. He said he just wanted to sink into the concrete, but he had mule dicks to deliver to his house. The fence did look nice.

Favorite Woodworking Planes, Part Three-Combination Planes

Yes! American Ingenuity! Brought to You by a German Immigrant!

Justus Traut was one more inventor for the Stanley Tool Company. At one time he was known as the king of the patent, as his production of designs was so prolific. None, however, are as famous as his series of combination planes, two models of which are pictured here. The small one is a Stanley 50, and the two larger ones are the famous Stanley 45, though two versions made in different decades. Alright Mr. Demille, I’m ready for my closeup.

1903 Patent Date

The smallest of Traut’s planes is the Stanley 50, which is the perfect size to throw in a tool box, and carry around. It was alternately marketed as a beading plane or a plow plane, though it will do both. The great thing about this old version is that it is simple to make new cutters for it. Just slice up an old plane blade, and grind out any profile you need.

Here’s the classic

Moving Parts

This is essentially the final form of this plane, and it has more bells and whistles than a steam engine. (The early one in the middle of the top picture has a patent date of 1894). This design helped to kill off the wooden plane industry in the US, as it will replace a cabinet full of various other planes, with only one.

The Business Side

I have to admit that I paid a whopping fifteen dollars for that plane, as I bought it at a Flea Market in Scottsboro, Alabama, from an ignorant seller. He wanted eighteen dollars for it it, but I offered fifteen. He took it, and MJ just stared at me like I was a criminal. As I am not exactly a Kapitalistenschwein, a capitalist pig, I brushed it off. I saved us three bucks.

The problem with these jokers is there are any number of parts. Here’s my box, and that is a bare minimum. The long fence in there is a bead stop, used to replace the rosewood lined fence when making tongue and grove bead board.

Pieces Parts

Those parts are for both the 45 and another Traut design, the Stanley 66 Hand Beader. While not technically a plane (it’s actually a “scratch stoch,” in that it scrapes instead of cuts), it does have multiple cutters, and I happen to have all of them. The cutter that is in the picture cuts reeds, which are multiple beads.

Scrape On

I also am about to have a complete set of the beading cutters for the 45, as I just purchased the missing link on fleabay. The complete set of these cutters will be about six times more valuable than what I paid for the actual plane.

Pouch instead of

I made this leather pouch to keep these difficult to sharpen cutters from getting damaged in my box of parts. It also looks cool hanging on the wall of my shop.

These planes will all come in handy for my Christmas presents project list, parts of which are already finished. I am certain there are more that will pop up between now and then.

The Cookies that Made Me Want to Get Married

Make at Your Own Peril Do not confuse with the Weed Hybrids Known as Cookies

I first met Melanie Jane when she was in the third grade, and I was thirty-five. Oh, snap, a really bad Alabama politician joke (Southerners will get that one). Actually, I was in the sixth grade, so I qualified as a much older kid. We were in line at what we called our lunchroom, and I saw her. I told her she resembled her sister my age, and her response was to stick her tongue out at me. Thus our relationship began.

I finally asked her out right before I graduated from High School, and headed off to UA. We became inseparable in no time. After a few dates, she asked me if I would like her mother to bake me some cookies. It was impossible to refuse.

With and Without Raisins

After about five cookies from the mountain that her mother made, I had an epiphany: There were many things I could do with my life that were worse than eating food like this for years. In short, I was a goner. It didn’t hurt any that there was a beautiful and highly intelligent young woman sitting next to me, while I swined away (she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from college).

At any rate, here’s the recipe, updated a bit.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Sugar (Honey would be a good substitute)

1/4 cup Butter

1 Egg

3/4 cup Oats

A pinch of Salt

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

3/4 cup AP Flour

1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 cup Milk

1/2 cup Raisins

1/2 cup Pecans

Cream together the butter, sugar, and egg. Then add the dry ingredients, and finally the milk. Bake 12-15 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Then get ready to pig out. This makes about 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

A few weeks ago we received as a gift the original recipe, engraved on a bamboo cutting board, in the handwriting of MJ’s late mother, Agnes Olga, who baked the original mountain of cookies. It came from the very sister whose comparison caused MJ to stick her tongue out at me. I’m sure I wouldn’t mind having my legacy being great food.

Cheeseballs!

I wish this was as funny as the Mel Brook’s classic movie, Spaceballs, but it is just sad, pitiful, and an amazing display of ignorance instead. It does say something about people who buy processed food like cheeseballs.

It ain’t easy getting banned from Wal-Mart, but these two doofuses from Minnesota did it with ease. They decided to wear face masks with swastikas on them, to protest the mask requirement there. As MJ and I are both of German extraction, we take some serious affront to anyone who thinks a protest should include a swastika.

As they were getting kicked out with their toilet paper and giant container of cheeseballs, the female part of the duo said this gem: “If you vote for Biden, you’re going to be living in Nazi Germany.”

She says this while wearing a swastika. Irony now is officially dead.