How to care for kitchen knives

I have been itching to cut this video for some time now.

A tutorial of my recommendations on daily and routine knife maintenance.

Links to products I recommend:

Knife Oil: For you high-carbon-knife operators.

Ceramic Hone: In the vid you’ll see the way I recommend you use a hone in the kitchen. Once you nail that, you should treat yourself to a better hone than that cheesy steel that came in your set.

Without further ado:

 

The Greatest Gift?

Time, is probably the greatest gift we can give one another.

A fruit bearing tree, however, is a solid contender for second place.

Mindfulness and meditation teaches us to recognize the wonderful things in our life every day, and to be grateful for them. I am aware of being particularly fortunate as the recipient of generosity lately.

Oh, and the gift of planting a tree with a child! Both literally and figuratively, there are probably fewer things more noble for us adults to do.

Someone I look up to in many ways thought of me when the cherry tree he and his wife purchased proved to be a poor fit for the location they had in mind. The string attached was that he had to help plant it.

What a guy.

This sort of thing has me, quite literally, seeking ways to be kind and generous to other people.

It works. It’s contagious.

Catch that bug.

The American Edge on a Chainsaw

Here’s one I’d prefer you to do on you own.

The chainsaw.

To be safe, you should touch up your chain every time you go out. To do it that often, you need to be good at doing it yourself.

I use the Granberg G-106B, it used to be $30, looks like it climbed a little bit, still worth it.

I think any bad reviews are by people who aren’t using it correctly. It’s not rocket science, but the included directions are rather sparse.

Here you go:

Redefining a sharp hatchet

This hatchet sharpened on the Edge Pro Apex.

The edge was restored using a 120 grit stone, and finished with a 2k grit polish.

The handle was treated with boiled linseed oil.

I charge $15 dollars, which is comparable to a new hatchet, but a new hatchet won’t come out of the box this sharp, or with an edge this durable.

Camping this summer?

Do yourself a favor: americanedgesharpening@gmail.com

Feeding Bees

One week in the hive and they have gone through the first batch of food, just shy of a gallon.

This is the phase where the workers are building out all the comb. In the years to come, I can retain frames with comb and ease the burden upon introduction to a new hive, but this year the workers are building on fresh foundation.

All this work requires a lot of food. Could they get it from nature? Probably. I keep thinking of what Michael Jordan of A Bee Friendly Company says, like any livestock, you have to feed them to be healthy.

Once the bees start storing honey, the feeding stops.

I’m feeding a 1:1 mixture of water and sugar. Nothing fancy. Straight up granulated white sugar.

When dissolving the sugar in the water, it’s appropriate to only heat the water hot enough to dissolve the sugar. Overheating (like boiling) is not recommended.

It was premature of me to let the queen out of her cage after only a day. I hear that 3 to 7 days is more appropriate. Let’s hope the workers took to her and didn’t kill her. I’ll be doing an inspection soon and should know then.

The Bees Are In!

May 1st, 2017: The Bees are in!

I must confess, I’m a little nervous.

Did I do it right? What about the queen? Are they getting enough food?

The six week class was so great. I have a solid foundation (pun pun). But man! There is nothing that compares to actually doing it. Tapping and then pouring thousands of bees just seems like a bad idea.

But it’s not.

In fact, I’m now convinced that we (the royal we) have built up too great of a fear of bees. They are actually quite docile.

Upon hearing that I’m buying bees, my dad chose to get back into it, and the main reason we’re doing it now, is because my daughter asked us to. So here we are, three generations of beekeepers.

My daughter was a total champ. Stuck with us the whole time, and didn’t freak when the bees came out of the package.

Feel free to ask any questions. Consider this the Planet Fitness of beekeeping. No judging. Dumb questions allowed.

I went back in today (one day later) and released the queen. I’m not sure that was the right thing to do.  I’ll only find out if it was detrimentally wrong.

I’m using a top hive feeder with about 6 cups of sugar water mixed 1:1. Michael Jordan of a bee friendly company compares raising bees to any animal, if  you want them healthy, you have to feed them.

When it warmed up this afternoon there was plenty of activity abound. It saddened me to see the dead bees that the workers brought out and left on the landing board of the hive.

Right now the workers should be building out comb on the foundations I put in there so that the queen can start laying eggs.

For what it’s worth, I purchased almost all my supplies from BetterBee. I shot them a question about the screened bottom board and they got back to me in a day, which, in this day and age, is, unfortunately, great.

The bees knees.

 

Do I give enough?

Just the other day I asked my wonderful wife if we give enough.

Meaning, are we charitable enough?

It’s more of a reflective question than a cut and dry, yes or no.

We could give more. And that probably applies to everyone who has the resources to read this blog post.

My daughter recently turned four, and it brought me joy to see her obtaining joy from giving things to other people; bubble wands, cupcakes. I spoke to her later about the joy we feel from giving things to other people, and how we balance that with the joy we feel when we receive gifts from others.

It was with great surprise and joy for me to receive this generous gift, the KD-8000 kitchen scale I commented on desiring in my recent fermentation blog post.

The sender of this gift is unknown to me at this time, so, in the event you read this, I want you to know a few things:

First, thank you!

Second, your gift serves as motivation for me to continue this pursuit of documenting my path toward home-based sustainability.

Third, this generosity inspires me to be more gratuitous.

Fourth, if I find you, there is some sauerkraut with your name on it, and if I don’t, take comfort in knowing that I’ll pay the generosity forward.

Trash to Treasure

It Happened!

I’ve been getting chips from the dump for the last several years, but that requires pitch forking them all from a pile into my truck, and then from my truck into a pile in my yard.

Earth’s gym at it’s finest, but I am so in love with chips, I just wanted more, more, more.

So I called around. I kept track of the chip trucks I saw on the road to give them a call asking for a handout.

I left a note on the windshield of a parked Asplundh truck.

I carved a sign and stuck it at the end of my driveway: “CHIPS”.

Then, one day, I get home from work, and WAZAA! A truck load of chips in my driveway.

I’m not sure who dropped them off, but when I find out I’ll ask to sharpen their knives.

The point, here, is that these chips are a byproduct of the arbor service. They make outstanding mulch and compost supplement. I use them in my garden, around my trees, in my chicken run, all over the place.

Nature has no waste. I’m always looking for ways to turn waste into a resource.

I buy my lumber from a local guy who has put millions of board feet through his Woodmizer. He has a mountain of slabs in his yard (the half-rounds left from squaring up a log), so I asked if I can have some.

First, I used them for camp wood and kindling. This year I’m trying them in my garden in the footpaths and around the perimeter. Hoping to be a trendsetter for a recycled, organic, impermeable weed barrier.

In a casual conversation with a buddy, he mentioned he had to clean up some fallen wood from a rental property. Harmlessly, I ask what he did with it. Sensing my real question, he asked if I wanted it.

Heck ya!

I rolled over to his place after work and got a little truck load of firewood.

It’s all around us, especially if we’re looking. The trick, however, is to not get fooled. Stay realistic. Don’t let crap pile up on your lawn that is just never going to get used.

I remind myself of this all the time; if I’m not going to make the time to maintain it, I shouldn’t have it.

Fermented Foods? Start here.

I’ve done this twice. So, I’m not a pro. But it worked both times so my homework paid off and my approach seems sound.

One of these is probably a reason why you’re interested in lacto-fermentation:

  1. The health benefit.
  2. Longer term storage.
  3. The flavor.

If you’ve never even considered it, maybe you should. If you do, here’s the summary of the homework I did prior to my first ferment.

What to Ferment:

My motivation is to ferment a badass salsa to have with my backyard scrambled egg breakfast. I’m not there yet, but to learn I started with sauerkraut. I think you can pretty much ferment whatever you want but study up on it before try something unconventional.

The Vessel:

While in a state of mind that you probably wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain it, I ordered my wife, well, me, a 10 liter fermentation crock while I was deployed to Djibouti. My wife gave me a raised eyebrow ‘thanks’ when it showed up at the doorstep, but regardless, that’s what I’m fermenting in.

My neighbor just dove into fermenting using ball jars with specialized lids available from Amazon. A tad easier than the investment in a big crock, but at the rate we’re going through the sauerkraut, I’m glad we have the bigger vessel.

For reference, the 10 liter crock was less than half full with 3 cabbages and 3 beats on my last batch. That batch made 2 quarts and 3 pints, or a pint shy of a gallon of ‘kraut.

The Principle:

Naturally occurring bacteria tag a ride on lots of veggies. The good kind thrive in an oxygen depleted environment with just the right concentration of salt.

So, to lacto-ferment you need to submerge vegetables in a salt water solution called brine.

The trick is to nail that salt concentration in the brine. The best way to do that is by measuring the weight of the food and the weight of the salt. In reality, though, few kitchen scales have the precision low in the operating band to weigh the salt, so the process turns into a ratio of weight of veg to volume of salt.

For example, for sauerkraut, I use 1 Tablespoon of salt per 1.75 lb of cabbage. (1.75 lb = 800 grams)

For extra brine I use 1 Tablespoon of salt per 2 cups of water. I warm the water to help dissolve the salt, but I’m careful not to put hot water on the cabbage because I don’t want to kill the little bacteria buddies.

For reference, the weight of the last 3 cabbages I did, that were store bought, were: 710g, 890g, 885g.

That weight is after processing the cabbage, i.e. cleaning, cutting, shaving, etc. So if you want to try it, and just can’t find a scale, you’ll probably be fine with 1 Tb of finely ground salt per cabbage.

The Process:

  1. Gather all your goods.
  • A vessel – super clean.
  • Cabbage
  • Salt
  • Mandolin (cutting board and knife will do)
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Kitchen scale
  1. Clean and cut up your cabbage.
  2. Put the cabbage in a big mixing bowl. (I do batches, 1 cabbage at a time.)
  3. Weigh the cabbage.
  4. Sprinkle the right amount of salt on it.
  5. Massage the salt into the cabbage. It will begin to release entrained water.
  6. Pour all the cabbage and brine into your fermenting vessel.
  7. Repeat for all the cabbage.
  8. Place weights or stones on the cabbage to keep it submerged.
  9. Close up the vessel such that gases can get out but not in.
  10. Check it weekly for texture and flavor keeping sanitation in the forefront.
  11. It should be done in about 3 weeks.

References:

Must read to understand brine and salt – Erica Strauss

Reinforce the basics – Holly Howe

The crock I use – Harvest Essentials

The salt I’m buying for my next batch – SeaSalt.com

The scale I want – KD8000

It might not be your F150 Fuel Pump

Chances are, if you found this as a reader of my blog, you don’t care about this, at least the details.

But!

Here’s some perspective.

YouTube has revolutionized education. It is now the go-to for all walks of life for anyone that needs to do anything, almost.

I use YouTube all the time. In fact, for this job, I learned most of what I needed to do by watching YouTube.

This video addresses the gaps in that education. It’s my attempt to chip in so that the next guy can potentially cut hours off his troubleshooting and repairing.

I have a personal mission to help make people’s lives better by offering words of encouragement towards self-reliance.

A few projects lately have had me on the verge of calling in the ‘professional’. I recently fixed a fuel leak on a marine diesel, but I was close to losing confidence. With this fuel pump I had actually given up, I was going to drive it until it happened again hoping to have a better clue as to why, and then tow it to the shop. A good friend and neighbor hooked me up with a little advice and words of encouragement that probably saved me HUNDREDS of dollars, maybe a $G.

Money is a good reason to work toward self-reliance. I have legitimately saved hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars working on my own cars.

But what’s better…

The Pride.

Man, it feels good to persevere. To be on the cusp of giving up, and powering through.

That first bolt is the hardest. Just suck it up, do your homework, and dive in after it.