Cold soft tacos on a hot summer day

Chicken breast that are boneless and skinless can also be tasteless.

But they don’t have to be with this sous vide technique!

Take the chicken breasts and put a little kosher salt and fresh ground pepper on both sides. Take a ziplock bag and add about 2 TBSP olive oil and smush the bag flat so the oil coats most of the inside. Add the chicken breast and remove the air before sealing the bag. Cook at 142-145F for 1-2 hours.

You can eat the chicken right away OR give this a try …

After cooking, toss breasts –  bag and all – in the refrigerator. As long as you didn’t open them, they will be good for at least 2 to 3 days.

Here is where the fun begins. The cold chicken can be cubed for salad, mixed with some dressing or mayo for sandwiches, or made into cold soft tacos!

Use the small tortillas (corn or wheat).  Cut a cold chicken breast into long strips and place one or two strips in the middle of each tortilla. Add a dollop of guacamole (I like the lazy ass style), some shredded cheese, some greens, and a little salsa. That’s it!

These can be made ahead and are great for a picnic!

Granola – big ass style

I never should have purchased the 30 quart mixing bowl. It just encourages recipes to explode. Take as exhibit A, my recent granola ingredient list  …

  • 8 lbs classic oats
  • 1.5 lbs flax seeds
  • 1 lbs wheat germ
  • 2.5 lbs unsalted shelled sunflower seeds
  • 2lbs reduced salt peanuts
  • 1.5 lbs sliced almonds
  • 1.5 lbs chopped walnuts
  • 2 lbs chopped pecans
  • 2 lbs dried sweetened cranberries
  • 2 lbs sweetened dried strawberries
  • 1 lbs sweetened dried kiwi
  • 1.5 lbs dried apricots
  • 1 lbs sweetened dried mango
  • 2 lbs banana chips
  • 8 lbs natural peanut butter

I think I’ll be set for a few months 🙂

DIY sewing table for a Singer 301

A few years ago, my mother needed a temporary sewing table for her Bernina. She uses nearly every day for quilting and other projects. Eventually it would get a proper sewing station but being without any setup was not an option.

I picked up a multi-height work table. Cut a whole in it. And fabricated a recessed tray using aluminum and my bending break.

It was in use for more than six months.

Once the temporary table was no longer needed, it made its way back to the shop.

I don’t need anything as nice as the Bernina but I do occasionally need to sew a project or two. I have a few old[er] machines and the work horse is a Singer 301.

Back story:

The 301 was a ubiquitous machine in the 1950’s through the early 1970’s. I first learned on a 301 when I was probably 9 or 10 years old. When I decided to add a sewing machine to the workshop I picked up a “beater” for about $25 and a nice “long tail” for under $50. (Those prices included the shipping costs). At the time that was the going price on eBay. I just looked on eBay and things have definitely change – ouch. My beater is now $150 and my long tail is $250. (We won’t discuss my Egyptian Scroll Featherweight.)

Let’s get back on topic …

Time to head to the workshop and re-purpose that table.

I cut a 3/4″ piece of cabinet plywood about 2″ wider than the hole in the table. Next I rabbeted and undercut to make a 1/4″ lip.

I cut a hole large enough for the 301 to drop into but small enough to catch the lip of the sewing machine’s base. the finish is just rattle-can white paint.

I have a new sewing table!

It’s time to get to those overdue sewing projects. There’s no more [legitimate] excuses.

Whetstone storage case

Over the weekend I was asked to pinch hit in a pretty busy kitchen. The problem was that none of the knives were tolerably sharp.

I like my knives to be sharp – real sharp. I agree with those who say “a sharp knife is safer than a dull one”.

There are three stages to a sharp knife – keeping it sharp, getting the edge back, and full out recovery from damage.

  1. A whetstone at 250 or 400 grit can bring a knife back from the dead.
    At 1000 grit gets is back in service.
  2. A ceramic rod will get the edge back.
  3. A “steel” will keep it sharp.

This box holds a two-sided 7″ stone with 400 and 1000 grit. It’s not a high end stone and it chips easily.

The box is made from a pile of tiny scraps of bamboo. The top mates to the bottom with wooden pins.

The finish is a sealer coat of oil based urethane then scuffed with 000 steel wool and buffed with paste wax. The inside is coated with urethane but no wax. The urethane protects the wood if the stone is damp when stored. Eliminating the wax avoids the risk of any getting on the stone.

Ants have Moxie

Give these little guys some credit, they don’t know what it means for the odds to be stacked against them. They also understand you can get a lot done when you ask your friends do a little help.

Baling wheat chaff

I’ve seen bales in other fields here on the Eastern Shore but this is the first year they’ve collected the chaff on my field. It’s a fascinating process for anyone who likes mechanical machines.

It starts with the combine harvesting the wheat. Rather than uniformly blowing the chaff out across the field, it dumps the majority of it in a trail behind the combine. This concentrates the material.

Next comes a tractor running the baler. Unlike hay, the wheat chaff is a combination of wheat stalks and bits of chaff. The baler sucks and scoops in the trail left by the combine. It compresses it layer by layer. The machine makes a very distinctive mechanical chunking sound. The bale gradually exits the baler. When it is the final size, that bale stops and the next bail starts. The finished bale eventually drops out the back.

After bales have been created and dropped around the field, another tractor runs around with a collector. The collect runs behind and off to the side of the tow tractor. This is important since the driver needs each bale oriented side-to when being collected. The tractor operator creatively catches a lengthwise bale with one of the collector arms to make the bale rotate into the correct position. Bales are collected in twos. Each pair of bales is then flipped up onto a carnage. When the carriage has six pairs, the entire stack is stood up in a row of bales.