Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Year 16, Week 16, Day One (week 752)

Year 16, Week 16, Day One (week 752)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-09-15 Saturday
    69 early morning, 80 right when we got back from breakfast, 94 most of the day.  Hazy blue skies, brisk breeze, a few puffs on the horizon, some towers grew over the edge of the Everglades, only to run away to the west like frightened children. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach department Of Tourism.
    Mom saw a couple yard sales in the paper and we visited them first. They were both in the wealthy section of town. At one, the young couple were talking to someone else about being up North. Not much was interesting, but there was a Cast Iron Pan. Out of curiosity, I asked how much it would cost. The money appeared instantly in my hand out of nowhere so I had to bring it home.  She said her mother gave it to her, and she tried it a couple times and burned the food. She gave up on it. What happened was she had no idea how to use a cast iron pan, how to season it, how to clean it. That is typical with people I’ve talk to.
    Later in the evening, I found someone to donate a cast iron pan to. I will have to come up with instructions for how she can maintain and use the pan successfully.
    * * *
    I decided that since I have gotten two pans the past two weeks, I should describe how to season a pan. There are many methods and most will work for most people. Here is the easiest method I use for my pans. The pan I got last week had a tiny bit of surface rust so I will use that pan as my example of how to season a pan from scratch to where you can fix eggs without them sticking.
    If there is a bit of rust on it, I scrub the pan, even with stainless steel scrubbers or steel wool. One usually don’t have to do much, just make sure everything lose is gone. This is the ONLY time you should  EVER use soap and water on the pan. Soap destroys the non-stick surface you are trying to create.  I will wipe the whole pan, inside and out even on the bottom, with a tiny bit of oil. Shiny but not wet.
    I set the burner on high, and then set the pan on it. It might smoke all over;. That is minor and not a problem.
    When the pan starts smoking, I take the pan off the burner and using a brush, scrub the pan inside and out. Then set the pan on the hot burner and let it get hot again. You can watch the water dry, receding to the edge. Once all the water is gone from the inside, put a little oil (shortning or animal fat is actually better, but oil will work). On a paper towel and carefully wipe the whole inside so it is shiny. Let it set and smoke a moment, then wash it again and set it on the hot burner again. I have an electric range and the burners cool down slowly, something that professional chefs don’t like. I let the burner and the pan cool down . It now has the basic seasoning.
    What is happening is that the oil burns into the tiny pits in the metal. The burnt carbon itself is non-stick surface. A well cared for and well seasoned pan will give a life-time of non-stick cooking.
    Now you may start using your pan. With general frying, just let the pan get up to cooking temperature, and then add oil, and then start cooking. One TV chef always said “Hot pan, cold oil, pan won’t stick.” Keep that in mind when you use your pan. Animal fat or deep frying really helps season a pan.
    Now for cooking eggs without oil (some people love that. I usually use oil and don’t care about the results), wipe the hot pan with paper towel and a little bit of your choice oil, especially on the sides but also on the flat. Glossy but not wet. Then add eggs and start cooking. The eggs should not stick at all.
    After every use, run the pan under water with a brush, then set it on the hot burner, turning the burner off and let the pan dry and cool.
    One should note that acidic foods like Tomato sauce, will have a color change in these pans. Tomato sauce will turn darker in color as it leaches something out of the pans.
    So my method is to clean the pan when you get it, Heat the pan and wipe it with oil, then clean with water and a brush. Heat, oil and clean two more times. Then use the pan by heating it, adding oil and cook. Brush under water when finish and dry on hot burner.
    Note, for large pans and pots, placing them in the oven to get them hot all over is the best way to do it.
    * * *
    At another yard sale, I picked up a CASSIOPEIA device. It is a Personal Data Assistant (PDA) made by Casio. To know how old this is, it is to be used with Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows 2000. It was still in the sealed package. The included batteries corroded but were safe from damaging anything else.
    After some later testing, I found that there is a dark area on the touch screen (most likely just from age) that makes it tough to see some items there, but works. I have not included the CD to link it with the computer yet. I broke the bank by paying a dollar for it. I figured it was worth the chance to give it a try. The dark spot might make it effectively unusable. I will have to see.
    At the last yard sale we visited, there were not many along our drive, the guy had some interesting things. I gave them strong consideration but did not get anything. He had a mini donut maker. He said that his kids have one and use it all the time. From the picture on the box, you add batter to one end. It squirts the dough to make the donut, fries it and passes it out the other end.  It dawned on me that I don’t eat donuts so it was not something I would ever use.
    I thought it was interesting anyway. He also had a “stuffed” hamburger maker. The way this works is that you press some of the burger meat in the form and it puts a dimple into the meat. You add your filler in the dimple. Then you add another bit of burger over top, and seal it shut. I thought about this a bit also, but decided that I would actually never use it so I walked away. He had a few other really interesting items but I cannot remember what they are now. This is one of those sales where I would have gotten those things a lot of years ago, but I have no use for them now.
    I rested while Mom make lunch. After lunch, we went outside. Mom had a project for me. She implied it was big. She had a tree that needed to be topped because it was not growing the way it was supposed to.
    I considered writing about sawing through the tree and having it fall and damage things, but it was an inch in diameter and the entire top I removed weighed about four pounds at absolute maximum, likely less. I carried it with two fingers. It was too big in diameter for the loppers to cut it off. It was also really too small for the handsaw.
    This is a Clerodendrum tree that mom successfully kept in a pot. Her other one escaped and is now trying every chance it can to become a real tree. The pot keeps it from growing much. It became tall and spindly, not branching out into a canape. Luckily it is hard to kill one of these trees. Mom gave me one where we cut to a short stump. It has spouted since leaves and is growing strongly after a period of time where it just sat there looking almost dead stick in the pot. Branches will grow from where the leaves come out.
    With the tree I topped, I cut through the trunk. Because it was fresh wood, it grabbed the course blades of the saw and did not want to let go. I essentially hand to bend the tree over to keep the cut open so the blade could work. I did a better job of cutting it than it seemed from all the false starts I ended up making, especially when the blade jumped.
    We stripped the branches off the remains trunk I removed simply by pulling down. The branches popped off, leaving the stick of the trunk, which forked, and set it to the side to play with. Clerodendrum is a really soft, weak wood.  I tried to cut a piece off with the loppers and it was just a little too thick to cut through it. It actually split the piece in half. Getting smart, I then used the bandsaw to cut that piece off, then another piece that looked useable.
    I sat down with my knife, pealed the bark off, then shaped the piece. Finally, I started cutting spirals into the piece top to bottom. I decided it would be three spirals around the diameter, both because it was big enough for them and also because it would look a whole lot more impressive.
    Many years ago, I made two, two-inch diameter candlesticks where I carved a double groove into it to where both grooves went all the way through to meet in the center of the piece. I was really proud of my results. At the time the turning club was meeting at a WOODCRAFTS store. There was also a carving club that met there the same night. The leader of the carving club was carving a Christmas Ornament that was like four or five spirals and was really carefully carved. Her ornament made my candle sticks look like they were carved by a Neanderthal in comparison (If the description fits, use it).
    I decided this was going to be a Christmas ornament and I would use multiple spirals like what she did. From right off, my design was not as elegant. Hers was larger at one end, then tapered to a point on the other.  I was more playing around than anything.
    Once I had the grooves established with the knife, I put the wood in the vice and used the saw to follow the straight part of the groove to cut them a lot deeper. This did not remove a whole lot of wood, but made it easier to get the knife in to cut into the wood and deepen the grooves.
    After about an hour, I had something to show for my work and decided it was time to stop. I want to go deep enough to where all three grooves meet in the center, “day-lighting” the interior. I have more work to do.
    Tomorrow is Mother’s day. I figure I might stop at the nursery to see what I can find to give Mom.
    I will see what else I do tomorrow.

Year 16, Week 16, Day Two (week 752)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-10-15 Sunday
    92 degrees, strong breeze, but only strong enough to hold flags half out, before they droop. A blue sky hazy enough to hide barely seen puffs closer to the horizon. The lack of humidity kept the air feeling cool. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    I stopped at the nursery to see what would make a good Mother’s day present.  It was hard to choose. I saw some plants I want on my porch. A couple I had killed years earlier when I had them (cocoplum and Wild Coffee), but now that I am taking a bit better care of my plants, they might survive. I tease about not picking up a plant as I did not want to kill it.
    When I first moved into my place, I could not keep any plant alive. It was not until a sand spur started growing that my luck changed. A sand spur is a grass like plant that has seeds  that have sharp hooks all over. They catch on you clothing and is carried long distances before other grasses and shrubs pull them off or you pull them off when they hurt you. I removed the seed heads before they fully developed and ended up with some 96 seed heads when the plant finally passed. After that, I was able to keep a few plants alive. They still struggled for years, with many different ones not surviving, until I finally started watering regularly. By then, I had plants that you really could not kill. That is why I say I did not think certain plants were worth killing.
    There is the joke where the guy says, “On my first day of school, my parents got a little confused and lost and dropped me at the wrong place. There I was, at the nursery, surrounded by trees and shrubs......
    I saw several flowering plants that Mom might like. We seem to have similar tastes in flowers, and I know what she already has. I swore off Orchids as she has so many of them. I figured I would get some form of evergreen just for me. I have a tendency to prefer trees if I can get them. I usually don’t.
    This nursery is small compared to many I have seen It might be one or two acres, but the back half is large trees and stuff, which I did not want to deal with.  I found the evergreen I wanted, a juniper. There are many different kinds, some stand up high, others stay low and close to the ground. I think these might be the latter as the branches go out the side and nothing going up, though they could have been trimmed for that.
    Since Dad’s truck was borrowed by his step-son from a previous marriage, I know he was not going to be able to go out and get flowers for mom. I found a purple-blue flower that was pretty. Lisianthus, I think it might be. They had bright yellow stamens. I decided to get them in case my dad wanted to give them to Mom.
    I got to Mom’s house and my brother was already there. We sat and talked. I took the ornament I was carving and worked on that, actually cutting some grooves down to the pith in the center of the wood. When I started, I was basically using the natural surface under the bark. I took it to the disk sander and cleaned up the outer surfaces and shaping it a little bit.
    I was making good headway when a piece of one spiral cracked. I guess I pried too hard. It is not a strong wood and the spirals actually run across the grain rather than with it, so they are not strong.
    When I got the glue out, I had a hard time finding where it cracked. There are two ends and many places where the crack could be. My first attempt to glue it did not work, so I changed to a different glue, about an hour later, and added a clamp to hold it in place. I will try to finish this next week, I think.
    My brother gave mom a Tomato plant. He figured that she would have to do extra work to maintain it. My dad gave Mom the flowering plant. I gave one of the two Junipers I got. She also got a bouquet of cut flowers. She was really happy with everything
    The juniper had two stems. When I got home, I separated them and put them in separate, larger, pots. Now I will see how quickly they die, or how long they live.
    During the week, I finished another teddy bear crochet. This one was in Aqua yarn. The yarn demanded to me that it had to be a teddy bear. I had no choice. I now have three teddy bears that need faces and to be stuffed.
    I think I will be making sleeves that fit over the handles of pans. They are quick and easy and I have found they are quite useful with my own pans. I know they would be useful for everybody else too. These fit over the metal handles of pans and keep your hands away from the hot metal. They stay with the handle at all times so one never grabs hot metal. They are especially good if you had the pan in the oven and want to protect from accidental touching of hot metal.
    I will see what I do next weekend.

 Lisianthus flowers. I loved how they looked and so does Mom.
 Personal Data Device - PDA in unopened package.
Cast iron Fry pan
 Massive Clerodendrum tree I cut down, which made the carving below.
Spiral ornament from Clerodendrum tree. Looks like a cocoon now..

Juniper plant from me.
Mom's Bouquet  of cut flowers

Tomato Plant from My Brother

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