Category Archives: Gadgets

Country Ribs and Fried Potatoes

20161119_1011551600x1200I’ve been having fun with the slow cook setting on the new(ish) toaster oven.  Dump a can or two of beans in a pan and add ketchup and bbq sauce, chopped onions and a couple of jalapenos.  Lay in some of those meaty country ribs and let them slow cook for several hours, covered.  Uncover and cook for another hour or so and you’ve got some fine eatin’.20161119_1249421600x1200We really like fried potatoes with this dish.  These were par-boiled for a few minutes and then cooled and set aside until we were ready.  20161119_1249531600x1200We really, really like these.  It takes some attention to get them each looking like fat potato chips but the effort will be rewarded!  Keep checking the bottoms and set them aside when they are well browned.

That Moon

pict10341600x1200I didn’t make any special effort to get a shot of the so called super moon the other night but I am delighted to see that my robot camera did.  It’s hugely overexposed but I think this shot really catches the essence of the hype so there is that.

Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

20161105_1638041600x1200I bought a pork tenderloin at  the store today, it seemed pretty big – I thought it was two packed into the same bag like they do.  Nope!  I decided to do the sous vide thing because tenderloins are so easy to overcook doing them the regular way.  I set my circulator to 150 degrees and left it in for 3-1/2 hours.  No marinade, just salt and pepper, and I enclosed a sprig each of thyme and rosemary.20161105_1757501600x1200It came out with just a bare hint of pink.  I’m pretty old school and a bare hint is about all I can tolerate despite assurances that 145 degrees is the new, safe, temperature for pork.  The Serious Eats guy has a pretty good take on sous vide pork here.  They have a pretty good color chart, 150 degrees is considered medium well done.  I made a simple pan sauce by reducing some of the liquids that collected in the bag and adding a pat of butter.  It didn’t really need anything, juicy as it was.20161105_1738151600x1200I can’t get enough of these fried potatoes.  I par boiled them for five minutes then cooled them in running water.  Dry them on a towel and fry them in duck fat if you can  get some, you will not be disappointed.

Gadget Post – Battery Chainsaw

20161103_1513551600x1200This is my second battery chainsaw, the first one was a 12V Makita and it was more toy than tool.  Battery tech has advanced enough that I was willing to give them another chance.  This one is powered by 40V lithium ion battery and it is a real saw that is useful enough that it is the one I reach for for small jobs around the house.  It would make a nice Christmas present.

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.