September 14, 2017

Cast Iron

My sister happened across an old cast iron skillet at a garage sale a few weeks ago.  This is an old Griswold pan, not one that you can pick up from Lodge on Amazon.

And it was in really bad shape.  Lots of crusted on gunk, no "seasoning" at all, not safe to use as a cooking instrument.

She called and asked for some input on how to get it back to its former glory.

First thing you need to do before you ever think about reseasoning the skillet is to start with a clean slate.  Given that it is unworkable at the moment, throw out any ideas you have about how to treat cast iron.  We've all been told "Never use soap" or "Only wipe with a soft cloth".

Bollocks.

Start with the hottest water you can stand, some heavy duty soap, and a steel scrubber (like a Brillo pad).  Scrub, rinse, scrub, rinse, scrub, rinse.  Get as much material off the iron as you can.  You may want to let the skillet soak in a sink of hot soapy water for a few hours, then scrub more.

Once you've gotten as much off by hand as you can, dry well and head for the back yard.  Spray all of the surfaces of the skillet with heavy duty oven cleaner (wear protective gloves!)  and make sure you get a good heavy coat of the oven cleaner on the skillet.  Put it into a plastic trash bag, then put it into a SECOND trash bag -- the 13 gallon size kitchen trash bags work fine -- and tie it closed.  Put the bagged skillet in a spot that will get as much sun as possible, and leave it alone.

The next day -- yes, leave it sit for 24 hours -- open the bags, remove the skillet, and wash it again with hot soapy water.  Inspect for any residual material on the cooking surface, but there shouldn't be any.

At this point, you should have bare cast iron and nothing else.  Every bit of material should be gone.

Get your oven going, about 375 Fahrenheit.  You can also use your outdoor grill, if you prefer.  Get yourself a pound of unsalted lard melted down (don't use cooking oil  like vegetable, canola, EVOO, etc.)  and wipe the cooking surface with the lard.  Go ahead, use a good amount, it won't hurt.  Put the skillet in the oven or on the grill, let it get good and hot.  Wipe the lard around some more, and let it sit in/on the heat for about an hour.

More lard.

Another hour.

Repeat a couple times.  I find that it generally takes about 3 or four applications to get a good season on the skillet.

After 3 hours or so of heat and lard, turn the heat off, but leave the skillet where it is.  Let it cool down slowly.  Once cool, give it a quick wipe with a clean, dry paper towel to remove any residual lard, and you're good to start cooking with your newly seasoned cast iron skillet.

September 8, 2017

Leadership

Real leadership includes praising in public and criticizing in private.

There are many people who don't understand this concept.

Time to start looking for new opportunities.

September 1, 2017

Kilted to Kick Cancer, 2017

The 2017 Kilted to Kick Cancer fundraising competition is underway!

Y'all should know the drill by now: Head over to the donation page at the KTKC website, select the amount you wish to chip in, and select Team JBro at checkout.

As mentioned, if you wish to donate to one of the following Hurricane Harvey charities:

Houston Food Bank
Food Bank of Corpus Christi
Center for Disaster Philanthropy Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund
J.J. Watt’s Fundraiser for Hurricane Harvey Relief  

You can still help me reach my goal of $2000.  Donate to one of those four, and then forward your donation receipt to kelly@kiltedtokickcancer.org. In the subject line, put, “Credit to Fundraising Team JBro.”

In addition, I realize that I've been a hypocrite for a while now.  All the years I've been asking for donations to help beat prostate and testicular cancer, I've been doing it while partaking of the one bad habit that contributes to lung cancer.

Last night, I finished my last cigarette, and as of right now, I've been smoke-free for about 10 hours.  I plan to remain that way, and instead of spending $5.60 every day on a pack of cigarettes, I'll be putting that money into an envelope and at the end of the month I'll put that $168 towards KTKC.

Put up or shut up, right?

So let's do this, folks... Let's raise some money for KTKC or Hurricane Harvey relief, and let's show the rest of the country what it means to give to others.

Cheers, and don't forget to Get Kilted and Get Checked!

August 31, 2017

You Sure About That?

Chloe Bennet, who is an actress and plays one of the lead characters on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (an enjoyable show, one I have watched personally), says this about why she changed her last name:

"It means I had to pay my rent, and Hollywood is racist and wouldn’t cast me with a last name that made them uncomfortable,"

Her surname by birth is Wang.

Apparently she didn't think she'd get a job with a Chinese surname.

I'm just going to point out that one of the other main characters, who has appeared in every single episode just like Ms. Bennet, is the actress who plays Agent May.

Ming-Na Wen.

That is all.

August 30, 2017

Kilted to Kick Cancer -- And Help Houston

Friday is September 1st, and the official start of the 2017 Kilted to Kick Cancer fundraiser.

And, unless you've been living in a cave without WiFi, you've no doubt heard about the horrific tragedy that has struck the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast region.  To say that it is beyond comprehension would not be hyperbole.  This is a Thousand Year Event, and it's impact is felt by millions of people.

This year, the powers that be at KTKC have decided that we're going to accept donations to Harvey relief organizations as part of our fundraising challenge.  As Ambulance Driver writes on the fundraising challenge page:

For this year only, due to the current devastation from Hurricane Harvey, in addition to direct donation to Kilted to Kick Cancer, we will count donations made in your team’s name to the following highly rated Hurricane Harvey charities:
Houston Food Bank
Food Bank of Corpus Christi
Center for Disaster Philanthropy Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund
J.J. Watt’s Fundraiser for Hurricane Harvey Relief   
Simply donate to one of these worthy charities, in the name of your favorite KTKC Fundraising Team, and forward your donation receipt to kelly@kiltedtokickcancer.org. In the subject line, put, “Credit to Fundraising Team [insert team name here].”

 So there ya have it: You can donate to KTKC directly via the normal donation page (Team JBro, if you'd be so kind) or to the charities listed above.

The challenge begins at 00:01 CST Friday.  Please give as much as you can, regardless of which charity you select.


Eye-Talian Beef

In the grocery store the other day, the meat section had a really good deal on a few beef chuck roasts, probably because they were at their "Sell by" date.

Being a frugal SOB, I grabbed two.  Hey, they were almost 75% off normal price, so buying two ended up being cheaper than if I'd bought one at normal price.

JB's Imitation Italian Beef

Take thyself a healthy sized beef chuck roast.  Apply salt, pepper, and garlic powder to both sides.  I prefer to use less salt than pepper or garlic powder, but equal parts of all three is a fair measurement.

Put the roast into your crock pot.  Slice half of a large yellow onion and two decent sized bell peppers (I used 1 yellow bell pepper and 1 green bell pepper for color), and add to the crock.  Add a small jar of sliced salad peppers (others call these pepperoncinis, but I've always called them salad peppers). Give the whole party a fairly generous dose of "Italian Seasoning" and add a single can of tomato sauce.

Low heat for 6-7 hours or so, or until the meat is tender and easily shredded.

Remove meat and pepper/onion mix to a platter.  Take a hoagie roll, slice the top to open it up, and put your meat mixture in the cavity.  Add a slice or two of provolone cheese, and pop it under the broiler for a minute or two until the cheese is melted.

Enjoy.


August 29, 2017

August 23, 2017

One Last Item About the Eclipse

This is a neat story.

The school in Guernsey, Wyoming, a sparsely populated and economically struggling town, was in the path of totality.

So they rented out space on the football field to camp, spots in the parking lot for RV parking, and let the people who paid to camp/park there use of the locker room facilities to take a shower.

Ingenuity and capitalism.... A winning combination!

August 22, 2017

Eclipse Trip AAR

Tl, Dr: It was amazing, and worth every part of the trip.

Friday, after work, I got home and loaded up the truck.  Tent, sleeping pad, camp gear box, cooler, folding chair, dog food, etc.  When I'm camping alone, I tend to be a fairly minimalist camper.  Yes, I do like SOME comforts, like my French Press coffee mug and a bottle of bourbon, but for the most part I don't take a lot.  I also topped off the tank with gas, plus an additional 5 gallon gas can, packed a bag with a few clothes, and grabbed a few books on the Kindle to read.

Saturday morning, hit the road about 0800, drove up to Glendo, Wyoming, and topped off the tank again.  This gave me a full tank, plus 5 gallons, which I figured would be plenty to get me home, heavy traffic notwithstanding.

I pulled off the paved road (how EVERY good adventure should start, right?) and drove into the Medicine Bow National Forest a ways, finally pulling off about here, and found myself a flat spot on the ground.



A few minutes to set up the tent, and I commenced to start drinking beer and reading my book.  Spent the afternoon finishing "Never Call Me a Hero", which is a wonderful read about a WWII Navy Pilot, Jack "Dusty" Kleiss, who assisted in sinking two Japanese carriers and a Cruiser during the Battle of Midway.  Highly recommended.

Sunday morning, woke up to the sun peeking through the trees, shining light upon the rock formation just west of my campsite.




I brewed some coffee, and got busy making some eggs.  For those who don't know, if you're camping and your stove is really good at boiling water, but really lousy at doing a slow simmer/medium-low heat, you can still make a great plate of eggs:  At home, before you leave, crack a handful of eggs into a container you can seal (I use a pint jar with a ring and lid), add some shredded cheese, diced ham, a few handfuls of diced bell peppers, etc., and shake the heck out of it.  At camp, pour a measure of this into a ziplock type bag, get as much air out as you can, and put the bag into a pot of water at a high boil.  About 15 minutes later, remove the bag from the water, carefully open the bag, and slide the eggs out onto your plate.  Very light and fluffy eggs for breakfafst!  


After breakfast and coffee, put the dogs in the truck and drove a bit to Douglas to get a bag of ice (what I had wasn't going to last another day and half, and I didn't want my food to spoil).  One of the things you notice about Wyoming, other than the ever present wind, is just how much open and empty land there is.  You can drive for MILES and never see another car, another person, or any buildings or structures at all.  It's really a wide open, vast, isolated, and empty place.

My idea of paradise, in other words.



Having returned to the campsite with a 20 pound bag of ice for the cooler, I discovered I now had a few more neighbors than I did on Saturday.  Many of them were annoying, and I was considering relocating my camp further into the forest, just to get a bit more solitude. 


Then this happened.


This young lady asked if she could put up her tent near mine, and as she was traveling alone, and me being all chivalrous and all, I couldn't say no.  Besides, how do you say no to a body like that, in a dress like that?

She came by later for a beer, and we made small talk.  That's when she mentioned her husband and two children.

*sigh*

At any rate, did some more reading, let the dogs chase rabbits a while, then I had some dinner, we talked a while, and I turned in for the night.

Monday was the big day, obviously.  My cell phone camera can't do the eclipse justice, but here's a photo during totality.



To say it was surreal would be an understatement.  This is possibly one of the 5 coolest things I've done in my lifetime.  It was like dusk, in all directions, at 11:45 am.  The birds fell silent, the temperature dropped some 15 degrees or so, and it was just awesome to see.

I'd already broken down my camp and had everything loaded in the truck that morning, so as soon as totality was over, I took a quick piss and started driving towards home.

Knowing that I-25 was going to be the preferred route for everyone from Casper to Cheyenne, I opted for the back roads.

I drove on route 7 south, took a right at FR 710 and went until it connected to rout 61, which took me south to US 30, just North of Rock River.


I was not alone on these back roads, as others along the National Forest had the same idea.  I dare say that some of the free range cattle along the road were thinking "What the hell?  We ain't never seen this many cars in a year, let alone in a single day..."

South of Bosler, traffic slowed a bit, due mostly to the sheer volume of vehicles and a bit of construction in Laramie.


Finally, once past Laramie, as some cars cut west, others cut east, traffic opened up a bit, and I was home an hour and a half or so later.  Unloaded the truck, took a shower, went out for a pint, and was asleep by 2100 hours.

Total of 355 miles driving, the better part of three days, and one amazing experience that I wouldn't have wanted to miss.





August 18, 2017

Assorted and Sundry

I've been trying to do this blogging thing more often/regularly, but I can't seem to find the motivation.

Life at Chateau JBro FoCo has settled into a bit of a dull routine.  Wake up, walk dogs, shower, go to work, come home in the evening, watch some TV, drink a beer or two, go to bed.  I really need to get out of the apartment more, but I'm trying to maintain my frugality.

Work is... well, work.  Getting a bit frustrated with the resistance of some in the office to make changes in the way we do things.  "We've never done that in the past" and "We've always done it this way" are the two most annoying phrases in the workplace, IMHO (well, aside from "We're out of coffee") and it's annoying as hell.  I find myself spending far more time looking for information that I should, just to fix an issue that shouldn't take this long to fix.

That aside, I've also proven my worth to the bosses -- I took on a new client, set them up the RIGHT way from the start, and after a few wrinkles got worked out in the first couple months, we've heard nary a word from them about any technical issue since.  That translates into 8 billable hours of revenue a month per their contract, with about 0.5 hours of work a month.  Or, roughly, $1,125 a month of pure profit.  "You're welcome" seems accurate.

I've had it up to here with politics, and want nothing to do with the most vocal folks on either side of the spectrum.  I'm beyond disgusted with the behavior of many people, and think y'all need a damn timeout.  Not every conservative is a white supremacist, not every liberal is Antifa, not every minority is a BLM or La Raza supporter, and I really thought we were better than the name calling and finger pointing that we see today.

I'll be headed to Wyoming (along with 50% of Colorado residents, it seems) this weekend to see the eclipse on Monday.  I've scouted some area just southeast of Casper, lots of National Forest land, and I'll just find a flat spot, throw the tent on the ground, and enjoy a weekend in the wilderness.  Some reports that the population of Wyoming is expected to double this weekend -- recall that the state only has roughly 530,000 residents -- and that's going to be interesting.  I'm going to pack a gas can with a few extra gallons, just to be safe, and I'll be avoiding I-25 as much as humanly possible.  It's possible, and actually PROBABLE, that I stay until late Monday evening, maybe head for home around 8p, just to avoid the gridlock that is expected on the interstate.

Pulled an Over The Counter elk tag for this fall.  Buddy of mine and I have an area we'll hunt.  Figure a 5 day stretch should be sufficient.  If I get an elk, great.  If not, so be it.

Really looking forward to Blogorado this year.  I've got some home brewed beers I'll be taking down, along with some beer-grain bread and a few other tasty treats.  I miss my tribe, and need the recoil therapy in a bad way.

New truck is doing just great.  Had it in for an oil change Wednesday, and everything was pretty normal for a truck with 70,000 miles.  About the only complaint I could lodge is the fuel efficiency -- 17 mpg on the highway isn't what I'd consider "good", but I can live with it.

Anyway, that's about it.  Life's pretty decent, all things considered.