Saturday Miscellany

Over the last three weeks I have been working on my dining table as I get time.  The steel beams that I got were pretty rusty so I had do a lot of work to get those cleaned up.

IMG_0977IMG_0966 IMG_0983

I bought many things to try to use on the rust, but the simplest thing ended up working the best.  I have a cheap angle grinder that I bought from Harbor Freight, I got some some abrasive wheels for the grinder that quickly removed the bulk of the rust.  I actually ended up removing too much of the rust on parts of the large I Beams and the metal started to look shiny rather then aged.

IMG_0962IMG_0968IMG_0965 IMG_0964  IMG_0963

Once I had cleared all the rust off that I wanted the beams still didn’t look like I wanted.  I wanted them to look darker and more aged.  I had some mineral spirits on hand and knew from past experience that it could darken wood.  I rubbed the mineral spirits onto the beams and found that it darkens the metal also and made the rust less orange.

IMG_0973 IMG_0972 IMG_0976 IMG_0975

Lastly, I sprayed Rust-Oleum clear enamel paint onto the beams to seal them and prevent future rust.  Cleaning the rust was time consuming but ended up being the easy part.

Last Saturday I worked on drilling holes in the beams so I could attach the cross beams to the leg beams.  I want the table to be strong so I am going to use 1/2 inch galvanized bolts.  To use those bolts I have to drill 1/2 inch holes, thinking this would be easy I bought a 1/2 inch drill bit for steel and set out to drill holes.  I ended getting my first hole about half way through and then all of a sudden nothing was happening.  I had made my bit dull in that short amount of time.  I was able to use a 1/4th inch drill bit to make some starter holes in the beams, but was unable to get even a single 1/2 inch hole drilled.

A bit late I decided to do some research into how to drill holes in steel.  I found out that putting oil in the hole or on the bit helps with over heating.  Today, my dad came over to help me drill my holes.  We put oil into a container to dip the drill bit into but still didn’t have a lot of luck in drilling those 1/2 inch holes.  Luckily, my dad had my great grandfather’s table grinder with a drill bit sharpener that we were able to use to sharpen my drill bit.  After that the hole drilling went pretty quickly.  We put a new point on the bit a few times and got a large number of my holes drilled.

Burned metal shavings
drilling holes
I wanted a picture of the shavings, but the camera focused through the hole. It is a mistake picture, but I think it is interesting looking.
Me drilling holes
My 1/4th inch starter holes





I found it easier to drill the holes if I made a starter dimple in the metal.  I took a piece of cardboard and put holes in the pattern I wanted to drill my holes.  I put a nail in the holes and hammered a small dimple into the metal.  This keeps the drill bit from wandering around the metal when starting to drill.

using a hammer and nail to make dimples in the beam.
using a hammer and nail to make dimples in the beam.
using a hammer and nail to make dimples in the beam.
using a hammer and nail to make dimples in the beam.







The 3 dimples can be seen in the beam
The 3 dimples can be seen in the beam
The 3 dimples can be seen in the beam
The 3 dimples can be seen in the beam







Often when drilling the holes the oil would start to smoke and bits of smoking metal would be thrown around.



Don’t forget when working with tools, “Safety First”




A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my neighbor’s chickens destroying my yard.  After that I started to aggressively chase them out of my yard.  Even with scaring them as much as I could they kept coming back.  I enlisted the help of my brother-in-law to try and capture the birds in my yard.  We caught one of the birds and chased the other 4 back into their yard.  I took the captured chicken, and put it in a box with a note that said, “Your chickens are destroying my yard, please clip their wings or keep them caged.”  I drove around the block and put the boxed chicken by their front gate.  The next day I did see chickens in my yard and had to chase them out. Since then, I haven’t had one stray chicken in my yard!  I guess my neighbors finally got the hint and did something about their rampaging animals.  Sadly, I also had to remove 3 dead chickens from the space between our two fences, that wasn’t a fun task.

Two months ago we made hot sauce, and last week it was ready to eat.  In texture it is a lot like the hot sauces at the Mexican restaurants we have around us.  The spicy level is good for eating with chips, there is some heat but not so much that it burns your mouth over much.  The only problem I have is that it tastes more like apple cider vinegar then I would like.  I want to make the recipe again but use different vinegars for a different taste.

We also made sweet spicy pickled peppers which are also ready to eat.  We opened one of the jars that didn’t contain habanaro peppers.  The peppers taste a lot like sweet pickles which shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Since the peppers are mostly Serrano they do have a good amount of heat which is nicely counteracted by the sweetness.





A Surprise Saturday post: Passionfruit Banana Bread, Sponge Cake, and Fruit Leather

Yesterday, I somehow managed to make banana bread, a sponge cake (that wasn’t very spongy but still tasted great), and fruit leather. Since I did so much baking yesterday, I decided to take a break today from the kitchen, although I was very, very tempted to make cinnamon rolls from scratch using sourdough starter! Maybe next week.

This will be another one of my long posts since it is taking the place of my usual Monday blog post. Read more after the read more 🙂 Continue reading

Around the Yard: Photos

This morning, I took a quick walk around the yard to look for passionfruit. I thought I’d just post some of my pics. Of course, I had to go visit the bunnies first!

Mochi enjoying some hay
Mochi enjoying some hay
Tofu eating hay. The sun was shining right in her eyes.
Tofu eating hay. She is always willing to have someone rub her head.
Josh's pomegranate tree is blooming and actually producing fruit! I'm not sure if we'll actually get anything this year. Sometimes these little fruits fall off or get eaten by birds.
Josh’s pomegranate tree is blooming and actually producing fruit! I’m not sure if we’ll actually get anything we can eat this year though. Sometimes these baby fruits fall off or get eaten by birds. I’m very glad that it is a happy tree though!
We have 3 lemon trees on our property, but this is the one that produces the most and the fruit isn't as wrinkly.
We have 3 lemon trees on our property, but this is the one that produces the most fruit and the fruit isn’t as wrinkly.

This tree was a very sad tree when we moved in. Josh brought it back from the dead.

I did find some passionfruit and one ripe tomato. I also did not find any escaped chickens!

Follow-up Post: Crackers from Scratch

This morning, we made the second batch of crackers! This turned into a family event. 🙂 All five of my kids were in the kitchen watching while Corran helped me roll out and season the crackers. They were also very excited to eat up the results!

This may end up being a regular event. It makes a great snack for my kids and it gets them in the kitchen to learn how to bake!

These turned out much crisper than yesterday's batch. I think the next time I do this though, I will follow the recipe's suggestion of turning off the oven and leaving the crackers in there to crisp up more after baking.
These turned out much crisper than yesterday’s batch. I also used more salt and added rosemary to the herb blend. I think the next time I do this though, I will follow the recipe’s suggestion of turning off the oven and leaving the crackers in there to crisp up more after baking.

This is about 1 minute after the crackers were cool enough to eat.
This is about 1 minute after the crackers were cool enough to eat.

Crackers from Scratch?

I think the Great British Bake-off is influencing what I make, because today I made crackers from scratch. I have never done this before so this was a kitchen experiment. I found a recipe for Sourdough Whole Wheat Crackers at The Fresh Loaf. It looked simple and it used whole wheat flour, which appealed to me.

I had to start very close to over with my sourdough starter because of gnats getting into my main starters. Fortunately, I had a reserve starter in the fridge that I could build up. I did the discard starter step twice yesterday and was able to get one cup of starter to use for crackers. You can never have too many uses for starter! Sometime soon I need to try making crumpets again.

Simple ingredients: whole wheat flour, starter, butter, salt, and herbs
I started out mixing the dough with a spatula

Eventually, I used my hands to work the dough and incorporate the butter. At first, the dough stuck to my hands, but after about five minutes, I had a stiff dough ball and very little dough on my hands.

I tried to impress my son Ian with my dough ball. He wasn’t impressed.

Once I had a dough ball, the dough needed to rest for three hours. Three hours is a long time so I fed my kids lunch and made croutons from some bread that was in the fridge.

I brushed bread cubes with olive oil and sprinkled them with lavender pepper and sea salt.
7 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. I had to stop myself from eating them all.
I could have done a better rolling job.

I thought I had the dough rolled out thin enough but I think tomorrow I will try to roll out the other batch even thinner.

I used a pastry cutter (I think it is a pastry cutter. I could be very wrong.) with scalloped edges to make the cuts.
These took a little less than 30 minutes to bake.

After they came out of the oven, I had a hard time keeping Josh and my oldest son Corran away from them long enough to cool. Once they had cooled enough, the crackers snapped off right at the cuts. I think there could have been more “snap” so that is why I will try rolling the dough out thinner tomorrow.

This is the seasoning I used. I should have used more than I did.

It was nice not having an overly salty cracker but my oldest said it needed more seasoning. I think I will try using the sandwich sprinkle along with rosemary and coarse salt tomorrow. My oldest son has already volunteered to help me roll out the dough.

It didn’t take long for the crackers to disappear.

By dinner cleanup time, all the crackers were gone. I would say this is worth it to make. It uses starter, kids love it, and it doesn’t take forever to make though it does take a bit of planning with the 3 hour rest time.

Note: I posted this from my phone so the formatting is very off on this post. I’m not sure if I will post from my phone again!

Today’s quick bake – Creamy Baked Cheesecake

When I make cheesecake, I usually go with a very rich recipe that uses four bricks of cream cheese, but today, I went with a recipe in my church’s cookbook from more than 10 years ago that uses two bricks of cream cheese and a can of condensed milk.  The recipe is from a man we all called Grandpa Swim. He was in charge of our church’s tape ministry for many years, and he really was like everyone’s grandpa. He passed away a few years ago and is greatly missed. I still remember when he taught our home economics class once when I was in high school and this cheesecake was that day’s lesson. 🙂

Usually, my cheesecakes all crack, but not this one! It still browned a little bit on top, but it’s very smooth!

Oh, how I wish for decent lighting in my kitchen. It even makes my chocolate chip cookies look yellow.
Oh, how I wish for decent lighting in my kitchen. It even makes my chocolate chip cookies look yellow. I also did a horrible job with my graham cracker crust.  Oops.

I am planning on serving it with some strawberry jam that I made about a week ago. By the way, this strawberry jam is delicious on sponge cake.  I might have to try my hand at baking some sponge cake just to eat with it!

The Monday catch-up blog post: Lumpia, applesauce, and the Great British Bake-Off

This is going to be a loooong post! Just to warn you! Long posts once in a while aren’t a bad thing though.

Just like last weekend, I was not able to post about our weekend and end-of-week happenings, so I had to post on Monday. This might end up being a regular thing. Monday is still a crazy day (laundry day for anyone? 😉 but it is less crazy than Wednesday on.

One of my staple meals is lumpia and rice. It’s my fallback meal when I can’t think of anything else to make! It usually takes me two or three days to make lumpia, so when I do make it, I try to make a LOT. My friends occasionally order lumpia from me also, so that was the main reason I made them last week.

I’ve been making lumpia since I was a kid. I remember that my mom used to make it using an uncooked filling, but when I was a teenager, she switched to using a cooked filling. I like the cooked filling better so that is the way I make it now. I will be using the terms lumpia and eggroll interchangeably in this post. They are pretty much the same thing.

Continue reading