Category Archives: Gadgets

Photo Fun

img_0863-1030x1030This disgruntled looking little kitty is a rescue that was featured in a couple of blog posts over at Balloon Juice, a blog where our esteemed blog mistress TaMara holds the keys to the shop door so that she can more easily cross-post the Friday Recipe feature.  I downloaded the two photos for a little Prisma fun.img_20161015_133837_processedI can’t remember the name of the filter that resulted in this seemingly pencil drawn kitteh.  I think it’s the one they call Transverse Line but I may be mistaken.img_0865-768x768The same kitten, all dry and fluffy, is shown here nearly lost amid the grass on someone’s lawn.  This one I ran through the Mosaic filter:img_20161015_212143_processed

Photo Fun

20161015_1057291600x1200Bitsy jumped up onto my lap this morning while I had my phone out so I snapped a quick photo.  The camera lens on my phone is nearly always smudged with fingerprints, I rarely remember to wipe them off.  I managed to reduce the fog somewhat by upping the contrast and running it through a couple of Snapseed filters.  I bet there are some good haze reduction filters out there I don’t know about.img_20161015_113149I was wondering if I could render this through more than one filter in the Prisma app but I didn’t see any way to do it one one step.  I did it the long way around.img_20161015_113305_processedI used the Hunter filter and saved it, and then opened that photo (above) in the app and ran another filter, Gothic, on it:img_20161015_113435_processedFor comparison, here is the same photo rendered straight through the Gothic filter.img_20161015_120243_processedIt’s subtly different, softer looking.  I bet there are some combos that result in just a whiff of kitty, more suggestion that representation.

Adventure in Sous Vide

20161011_1833261600x1200I was hoping this pork shoulder would really take on a lot of the flavor of this mojo marinade when I vacuum sealed it in this pleated bag.  Alas, the bag was a poor choice as it turned out.20161011_1948051600x1200It looked good here, but it was just getting started.  I set the temp at 175 and let it run all night.  Alas, the bag developed a leak, I fault the high temp and the fact that the pleated bag meant that the sealer had to heat through 4 layers for a seal.  I don’t know if a regular bag will hold but I am unlikely to test it at that temperature again.  Maybe 160-165.20161012_0955121600x1200At any rate the internal temp made it only to 165 and needed a boost if I was going to be able to pull it apart.  I gave it a rub with my generic mixture and put it into a 400 oven for an hour and some.20161012_1057581600x1200That worked very well, I didn’t wait for it to cool enough for a thorough pulling, instead chopping the big pieces up in a different pan with that heavy spatula/scraper.20161012_1102481600x1200While the shoulder was in the oven these buns were prepared for baking and they went into the already hot oven as the meat was being chopped20161012_1149391600x1200All in all, the sous vide fiasco was disappointing but the shoulder wasn’t totally ruined.  I was hoping to use the pork in a mostly authentic Cuban sammich.  I’ve been told that the mojo pork is key for those.  Sad!

Gadget Post – Infrared Thermometer

20160716_122126(1600x1200)I’ve mentioned this infrared thermometer a few times (the orange thing in the top left of the photo) but I realized I haven’t done a gadget post on it.  It won’t replace an instant read thermometer with a probe for taking internal readings but it is really handy for taking temps on surfaces like this griddle.  I mostly use it for reading oil temperatures when I’m deep frying – keep the oil stirred for best results. I bought mine at a promotional price of $14 but I wouldn’t hesitate to order another if it broke.

Gadget Post Update

20161010_1557381600x1200I went ahead and bought a dedicated vessel for the task and used it for my second go at a pair of steaks.  I remembered to pat the steaks dry before searing them, and really cranked the heat on the cast iron skillet.  My infrared thermometer was showing it at 600 degrees when I flopped them in.  I could have gone higher but I was afraid I would burn the seasoning off.20161010_1713351600x1200They came out some better than my first go, there is almost no grey along the edges of the cut and the sear is better developed.

A word on the the items as delivered:  The expandable rack is too big for the size of the box, and the cut-out for the circulator was not as pictured.  I have a bigger polycarbonate box the rack will work just fine in but I’ll be looking for something smaller for the one in the photo.  The lid is not a problem.

Photo Fun

img_20161009_172337_processedNice treatment of Gabe in the Prisma app, with the appropriately named “Hunter” filter.  He hasn’t hunted with much success beyond catching grasshoppers although he is showing an unfortunate enthusiasm for digging after moles.

I downloaded another app today and it’s promising enough that I coughed up the $2.99 for the upgrade.  I’ve had Eye-Fi cards in several of my cameras for some time now.  They automatically upload pictures to my Synology NAS so that they are available to any machine on my network, and I’ve been wanting something similar for my Android phone.  I think I have found it in the PhotoSync app.

An advantage this app has over the Eye-Fi card is that the strength of the wifi radio in the phone is miles ahead of the tiny little thing they have crammed into the SD card.  I like the automatic upload that happens as soon as I take the shot, but you can trigger an upload manually if you prefer.  That way if you flub the exposure or snap the photo too soon you can decline to upload that one, you select those you want to transfer.  I figure I can as easily delete it from the network folder as I can on the phone.  Lots more at the PhotoSync link.


20161007_1638571600x1200Today was Gabe’s day to visit the vet for his “fix”, he weathered it in fine fettle like the good boy he is.  He’s resting per Dr’s order, I hope we can keep him from chasing Bitsy for a week or so.20161007_1312501600x1200That smoked tenderloin makes a fine sammich.  I slice it thin and pile it onto one of my homemade buns:20161007_1129531600x1200One of the things that gets overlooked when listing stuff that a smartphone is good for is making a record of model number info on various things about the house and garage.20161007_1234301600x1200This is the info on a router/access point I keep in the garage.  I wanted to look up the user manual online.  Not having three hands to juggle pencil, paper, and the device I just snapped a picture of it.  My phone will snap a photo by saying a trigger word – shoot, or cheese, or smile all work on mine.  Bonus!  I’ve managed to record the model  info on a thing where I couldn’t even see the tag.  Just hold the phone in what seems the correct position and take the shot.20161006_1300471600x1200We mixed a batch of Mrs J Famous Fried Pies.  These have the same filling as the apple danish we made.20161006_1205341600x1200Another of those delicious pastrami reubens.  I managed to slice the pastrami correctly this time!20161005_1722351600x1200Mmm… smoked chicken burritos.  These have beans, cheese, and cabbage with the chicken.20161006_0917171600x1200Here’s another of Mrs J’s blueberry banana bread loaves.  She asked me to mix some sugar glaze for it.  Happy to oblige!

OK, Here We Go – Sous Vide Steaks

20160928_1718471600x1200First impressions – it’s bigger than I was expecting!  Not quite as big around as a 12oz soda can, but close.  It’s 15 inches long.  It is simple to set up, just clamp it onto the side of a suitable pot, plug it in, and scroll the wheel to set the desired temperature.20160928_1330001600x1200The cord isn’t very long, so you’ll need to place it fairly close the outlet.  (That cord trailing off the counter goes to something else.)  Here I have a pair of rib steaks inside generic zip-lock bags.  I’m not sure how much heat they can take but they handled the 129 degrees the device was set to.  That’s right on the dividing line between rare and medium rare per the table here.  I started with hot tap water so it didn’t take much time to come to heat.  They spent nearly 3 hours in the water bath.  I wanted to give them ample time, they say several hours more wouldn’t have made any difference.20160928_1626041600x1200Everything went well enough until it came time to sear the steak to finish it.  I didn’t pat them dry with paper towels, and didn’t get the skillet hot enough.  Lesson learned!  20160928_1627021600x1200Still, I can’t say that I wasted two steaks.  They were pretty good, although maybe too fatty.

Gabe and Homer

20160926_0918461600x1200I’ve been playing with that Prisma app on my Android phone, it isn’t much good on close-ups of food on a plate but when there are a couple of well defined objects in a photo it does some interesting things:gabe-and-homer_prismaThere is a crop function built into the app, but the different filters do all of the heavy lifting.  There is a fair selection of them, I  like some better than others but that’s a subjective thing.  YMMVimg_20160927_104727_processedI like the mosaic filter a lot.img_20160927_104716_processedThis one, meh.  I don’t know why it’s picking up red in the nose on Gabe.img_20160927_104653_processedI like this one pretty well.


20160923_1234261600x1200We smoked two pork shoulders the other day, the smoker is small but two shoulders just fit in the top rack, the lower rack is for the foil tray to catch the drippings.  I have a dry rub that I like to use on these but feared I didn’t have enough so I dumped the remaining rub in a bowl and ground more coriander and black pepper and added that and more brown sugar and salt and etc.  Mixed it all in the bowl by hand then opened the tap at the sink to wash my hands and WHOA! You DUMMY! the bowl full of rub was also in the sink.  So, I smeared the wet rub all over the meat.  It did seem to work OK.  LOL20160923_1728021600x1200They spent about 24 hours in there, set at 200 degrees.  My thermometer was still only reading 160 or so.  I pulled the bones and broke them up and finished them in the countertop oven on the slow cook setting.  We are using it more and more, we’ll try pizza sometime soon.20160924_1205481600x1200There’s lots more where that came from!  After it finished I chopped it up and froze most of the meat, this is some I kept out.  That peach wood is really good for this.20160924_1357051600x1200Had a visitor the other day, he was driving this Dodge Charger with a Hemi powered V8.  Teenager? Mid life crisis 40 year old?  Nope, it was Mrs J’s brother in law, he’s 74.20160920_0912421600x1200Here’s Gabe!  He’s wearing his first rabies tag.  Here’s to many more!  He’s 4 months old and growing up fast.20160923_1611341600x1200My local Kroger store has rib eyes on sale now and again.  I try to stock up when they do.  I have hopes that this is the last steak we have that is cooked entirely on the grill – I have a sous vide device ordered and will try it out on another of these steaks when it gets here.20160924_1642251600x1200Mmm… sloppy joes!  I have been doing fries in a deep fryer, a dutch oven full of canola oil, but the last few times I did them in the toaster oven.  These were baked at 450 for about 20 minutes.  They are better in the deep oil but there are tradeoffs:  Cleanup time, the cost of the oil, and the extra calories.  Right now I’m going to say the toaster oven, by a nose.20160924_1054011600x1200Gabe seems to really like drinking from the sprinkler wand, but he doesn’t much like getting wet like he sometimes does when he pesters me as I water the patio plants.