Friday, August 18, 2017

All we need is LOVE...and pickles

I suspect this might be a cultivar called 'Madame Galen' although this blossom is prettier than the ones on the internet.
Mrs ERJ and I were walking in town the other day when we stumbled across a trumpet vine growing up the guy wire to a utility pole.

The flowers were beyond stunning, easily three times larger than the species and flat (rather than with petals recurved) so it displayed well.

A six year old kid on a bike commented, "That is my Granny's.  Want me to get her?"

It turns out that the kid, his sister and mom were staying with "Granny" for the duration.  The dad is a SeaBee and had been redeployed from state-side to Guam.

"Granny" grumbled that the Trumpet vines grew like weeds and she was constantly grubbing out shoots and tossing them into the compost pile.

It does not look like much but I am exceptionally gifted at growing weeds.
"Granny" told me to come back and get another if this one died.  The fact that I tucked a $5 bill into "Grampa's" pocket to buy the grandkids ice-cream cones probably did not hurt my Karmic balance.

Always on guard
Protected by Master Lock and Poison Arrow Frogs.
All we need is LOVE

And Pickles
Recently, I learned that Belladonna loves pickles.  Bread-and-butter pickles are her favorite.
This Recipe is the one she asked me to try.

I will let you know if Belladonna approves.
More canning porn

I help a gentleman out by taking on some of the computer "busy-work".   I saw these while walking through the kitchen on the way to the office. You gotta like a boss who cans peaches.  The man has style.

Fake News Friday

This started out as satire and then my sense of responsibility kicked in.  I deleted this installment of Fake News Friday.

The inspiration for this post was that The Daily Mail ran an article about Khalid bin Walid Army (an ISIS splinter group) chainsawed down an innocent acacia tree because some people attributed "luck" to the tree, much as some people pitch pennies into fountains or wish upon shooting stars.

The Khalid bin Walid Army theologians decided that people were coming too close to "praying" to the tree.  Polytheism (acknowledging gods other than Allah) is forbidden by the Koran.  Consequently they took a chainsaw to the tree.  Problem solved.

This "humor" piece was going to imply that many recent migrants to Sweden, Germany, Belgium and France considered Soros, Merkle et al to be other names of Allah.  I was going to say that praying to the Allah of the mullahs and imams resulted in uncles and brothers being blown up at weddings and shot while working in fields.  The "Allahs of Europe" gave immigrants food and shelter and deliver the "infidels" to their service.

After earnest consideration I decided that post was too irresponsible to put on a public blog.

Then, after even more reflection, I decided that the Merkles and Sorros and Löfvens of the world might want to give serious consideration to the "optics" of their actions.  After all, we are talking about people who cut down a TREE, a non-sentient tree, because it might lead pious Muslims into error.
Apologies to Gary Larson.

How much "sloppy" posting on social media would it take to convince The Khalid bin Walid Army (or clones there-of) that recent immigrants do, in fact, consider European princes and tycoons to be Gods?  Let's be honest.  Most of us are not professional writers.  We often transmit messages that we do not intend.

And to consider what would The Khalid bin Walid Army's response be.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What does 6.8 grains of smokeless powder look like?

Josh's load:  6.8 grains of CFE Pistol
If you look closely you will see at least three "species" of powder.  Manufactures of smokeless powder have the resources to blend several powders of different burn rates to produce a longer, flatter "peak" pressure trace.  Kids DO NOT try this at home.  Not only must the powders be precisely blended, they must not separate during handling.

Adjustments to the running plan

The new running plan is to skip "coffee" on running days.  I will wake up.  Drink my cup of joe.  Do my "necessary" business.  Hydrate with electrolyte and walk out the door.  My thinking is that the microfauna should have depleted the most readily digestible components.  There should not be much for them to work on if I void before taking off on my run.

My plan is to walk to the end of my driveway and then to run five minutes to the left...then return to the end of my driveway.

Run five minutes to the right...then return to the end of my driveway.

Run a wee bit to the right, then make a turn and run about five minutes...then return to the end of my driveway.

There are upsides and downsides.  The major upside is that the furthest I will be from home is ten minutes even if I have to clamp down and stiff-leggit home.  Another upside is that I almost double the "vertical" over running around the block.  I figure I will be climbing (and dropping) 180 feet in the three miles of running compared to the 100 feet I estimated for running around the block.

180 feet of elevation change in three miles in not much if you live in hilly regions, but Michigan is solidly mid-West.  The grades are pushing 10% in places and it is a grind to run them.

The downside is that the run might get boring.  And even this has compensations.  I will be looking at scenery from both sides, now.  And it is amazing how much you miss when you only look at things from one viewpoint.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Freezing Sweet Corn

Today I assisted Mrs ERJ in freezing sweet corn.

I ran the blanching operation.  The purpose of blanching is to use heat to deactivate the enzymes that would otherwise continue the ripening and spoilage processes of the vegetable you are freezing.

Mrs ERJ put it into quart, freezer bags with other secret ingredients.  The critical secret ingredient is enough water to eliminate air spaces where freezer burn can happen.  Adding water also eliminates air pockets which slow cooling.

Step one:  Wait for the corn to finish blanching.  Five minutes minimum.  The blanched ears go into the kettle of cold water. The starting operation for an industrial process defines the "loafing point".  The loafing point where the operator should be if/when they finish early.  It is good practice to put the loafing point at the bottleneck operation so it always gets "serviced" as soon as it becomes available.

Step two:  When the boiling kettle is empty, move six ears of corn into it taking care to not splash sensitive body parts.

Step three:  Prepare six more ears of corn.  Cut the silk and stem ends off.  Remove husks and silk.  Place ends, husks and silk into yellow tub in upper left corner of photo.

Step four:  The ears of corn that have been cooling in the cooling kettle are now cool enough to process.  Remove ears one at a time.

Step five:  Cut kernels off of ears using knife.  Take your time.  You have lots of corn but only ten fingers.  Throw cobs into yellow tub in upper left corner of photo.

Step six:  When cooling kettle is empty of corn, dump kettle and refill with cold water from hose.  Cold water is cheap.  Electricity for freezers is not.  Return to step one.
General notes.  Turkey fryers are great for semi-production canning.  They can really pump out the BTUs.
If you need to top off the water in the boiling kettle, using the water from the cooling kettle AFTER you pull out the ears will save heating time.

I was able to blanch and remove the kernels from 65 ears of corn in 105 minutes.  That 105 minutes does not include the time to bring the boiling kettle up to heat at the start of the cycle.  We netted 14 quarts of sweet corn kernels from the 65 ears.

Between five and ten minutes could have been saved if I added about a cup of water with each cycle of six ears.  I don't know if it was evaporating or if the cobs were soaking up the water.  I had to add water mid cycle and wait for it to come back up to heat.

Another five or ten minutes could have been saved if I had a more efficient way to cut the kernels off the cob.  I had a fancy gizmo but it was not up to the task, so I reverted back to the knife.

The final "easy" thing that would increase throughput would be to crank up the burner. Given the other inefficiencies in the system, things were fairly well synchronized; until I had to add water or if the ears were exceptionally large.

A minor improvement would be to have cold water "peeing" into the cooling kettle.  It would not be difficult to crack the valve on the hose and figure out an arrangement to hold the dribble over the cooling kettle.

Sticking all the numbers together, it would not be a great trick to process an ear every 90 seconds.

Freezing Green Beans in a few, simple steps

Save seeds from previous year.

Pole beans planted beneath green fencing on right side of photo.
Plant the seeds.


These are purple pole beans.  Purple makes them easier to see.
Ends snapped off and broken in two.  The older, more fiberous ones are cut into one inch pieces.
Blanch for five minutes.  They turn green.
The blanching operation is the bottleneck.  The key to good throughput is to service the blanching operation first and then service the other operations in the five minutes the beans are blanching.

That means dumping the finished beans and water into a colander, returning the hot water back to the blanching pan.  Turning the heat back on.  Adding the new batch of beans to the blanching pan....before moving the blanched beans out of the colander and taking them to the next step...the cooling tray.
Spread out on a cookie sheet to drain excess water and to cool off.

Into freezer bags and into the freezer.  God willing, these will go into Minestrone soup this winter.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Unforeseen complications

Picture in your head a two liter bottle of Dr Pepper.  Further, picture that it has been sitting in the sun for several hours.  Finally, have a goofy kid vigorously shake the bottle for thirty minutes. 

How would you finish this story?

The garden is in full swing.  We are eating cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans and sweet corn.  We are eating gross-lots of said vegetables.

Vegetables have fiber.  They also have assorted oligosaccharides and higher order alcohols that humans lack enzymes to digest.  Those oligosaccharides and higher order alcohols are a feast for the teeming masses of microfauna that reside in my gut.  They happily live in the constant 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit of my gut and cheerfully metabolize the windfall into biomass, energy, methane and carbon dioxide.

Imagine a fat, old duffer who is getting back into running.  His immediate target is to run for three miles.  Considering ten minute miles to be a decent pace, that means he will be slogging away for, well, about thirty minutes.

Due to unforeseen complications, the running plan will be modified.  Not sure exactly how it will be modified...but something has to change.