off grid

A magical budget upgrade..

100_8960 100_8963 100_8964The salmon was $9 or $10 per pound… after I cured it in koshering salt, sugar and dill weed.. its gravlax. $40-$50 per pound..the last step is smoking the gravlax which sells at around $100 per pound…

No way I can afford that, no matter how much I like it.

But there’s always a way around things..

The smoker was a walmart $100+ floor model but I got it for $20 because it wasn’t shiny anymore and the door wouldn’t close… reason being, they put it together wrong… So I made an offer, took it home and spent 2 minutes putting it together correctly…

The slab on top is a pizza stone that fits inside the smoker…when I want to use it as a wood fired pizza oven… I rearranged the fire pan put in a baffle so the stone isn’t in direct contact with the fire… etc. etc. etc.

The gravlax gets a cold smoke for four hours and its all done…

The fire pan this go round is a hotplate so I can keep the heat control tight at 100-120 degrees..

Of course its close to 11:00 PM and I’ll be messing with it till 3:00 AM, but its one of those no brainer insomnia chores… so I’m happy about it….

Castle and moat

100_8718home sweer home 005home sweer home 007100_8615I like to live on commercial property, it usually has 220 and natural gas lines, the neighbors don’t care what I do or how much noise I make.. security tends to be good and the nights free from idlers… I like that I can drive a truck through the door and move my house inside… there’s lots of room and I can do whatever, the overhead storage is a has a rest room and what not, so its pretty much nirvana for the insomnia prone.. occasionally during monsoon it becomes waterfront property…but it’s a nice change from relentless heat.. For about 3 hours, then its a sauna and the heat becomes suffocating rather than merely blistering… But at least there’s no snow…

The shop is still being arranged…. more tools and equipment to move in, projects to consolidate, complete then dispose of… I’m lacking my silversmiths bench, lapidary tools and need to move in a beautiful push cart that I plan on refinishing for the renn-fair circuit… there are exhibition booths to build and photo back drops to set up… As well as a work bench for stained glass and God knows what..

I really need the space and aside from that most apartment owners don’t like welding or paint booths in the living room….much less saws running at 2:00 AM.. or kilns, foundry furnaces and noxious smells…

Its really not that odd.. rent is a third of a house, I can do whatever, when-ever and everyone is cool.. the owner says if I want to build an apartment in the rafters or make a loft its all good..

I won’t but the option is nice..

I got this spot because the feds changed the rules on airplane hangars… you can’t turn them into studios anymore much less live in one.. but it’ll do.

I don’t care about social life or entertaining.. it’s about work, art impulses, dinner and my beloved privacy… I don’t like distractions or anyone eyeing a work in progress, the GF being the only exception since shes about as twisted as I am….

I’ll never understand her attraction to me.. I live like a monk, but she thinks I’m funny and I never tell her no if she wants to learn stuff.. I don’t have that “a woman’s place is___” thing in my head..or “you can’t”, it’s just nonsense, there is no competition about anything.. we’re co-conspirators..

Sometimes 1+1=11 not 2

End of diatribe…..


100_6920I like pointing out the obvious almost as much as redundancy and the whole passive aggressive thing..

My friends know I’m messing with them and make sure I suffer for it… not that I do, I laugh when they try to annoy me..

But I digress,

I live in a little trailer or at least sleep, cook and hide there, when I’m not in the shop or out running around which is most of the time..

The point is, I can pretty much cook, bake or do anything else I want in three feet of space, with whats at hand… even a $20 oven from a salvage yard.. a $1,500 oven from Home Depot might be wonderful..but it just does the same thing I’m already doing, plus I don’t have to cough up $1,480..

Win Win…. besides, I don’t have to deal with house guests.. which is win, win, win.

Its all part of the master plan…

Some days ya do what ya gotta do..

100_8817Every picture tells a story don’t it…. I blew up my truck and needed a counter-top oven more than dignity, so expedience ruled the day.. which it usually does.

The adventure was tying the oven to the bike, while shoppers made a wide path around me avoiding eye contact. Which I found amusing.

Apparently there were implications of homelessness or insanity in the activity… But one would think since it was an oven, I might have the resources to plug it in somewhere, other than a cactus.

People who knew me laughed or smiled since my quirks are fairly well known and everything is under control, albeit odd given my methods of problem solving..

But problem solving is the key no?

Besides the oven has a rotisserie built in, aside from a broil and convection function. So ya do what ya gotta do.

No longing, wishing or unfulfilled’s all about “how does this thing get done”.

And that’s kind of that… faint heart never won fair anything, except maybe a pace-maker.

So whatever.

I decided I want a butcher block table and another industrial type bakers rack along with the usual bulk bottles of propane for my regular oven.

But as noted the beloved truck is indisposed with a cracked head and in various pieces… Swell, fine that’s life etc.

Everything I do is within ten miles, so why not haul a trailer behind the bike? Aside from the fact a bicycle cargo trailer costs around $700 and that’s not gonna happen..

But building a bike trailer isn’t out of the question..

I have the steel, know how to weld and building a trailer solves my current problem… which is dragging home a butcher block table, a commercial bakers rack and bulk propane…

Besides, bicycles kind of fascinate me regardless of what anyone thinks, and I don’t have to spend $100 a week on gas

Discovery at the meat counter

brisket bonesI saw brisket bones at the meat counter but I can see its pork and brisket is beef according to my thinking….. plus brisket is boneless, so I decided to investigate, it looked like a rib type thing, which it kinda is.. the “bones” weren’t bones but rather cartilage.. which is great because I like the small end of a rib rack which has exactly that in it…its more succulent for lack of a better term..

Long story short, it became low and slow BBQ fodder…. and a revelation, it was cheap, one of those pre-food network items that people go for at least till its popularized out of reach… like tri tip and chicken wings.. tongue and a host of other former “off cuts” the elite can’t be bothered with, till said off cuts are declared fashionable….

I tend to like off-cuts and whatnot…. it can be a challenge to get over cultural squeamishness and learn how to cook them right..

Tongue, kidneys, sweet breads, heart and what not are amazing if done properly.. the trick is in the prep, methodology and seasoning, which I enjoy figuring out, besides, it tends to be inexpensive as far as vices go..

Make a rub, apply to “brisket bones” slow smoke at about 220ish for as long as it takes, I like 10 hours but it can be done in 2 at 300 wrapped in foil then stuck in an oven..

It’s good stuff..

Rummaging through the shop

100_8948Rummaging through the shop looking for some steel I had stashed, I found my solar oven… which needs to be cleaned up and put to productive use.

I have a minor thing about solar ovens, retained heat cooking and obscure methods of cooking in general..

But the oven was just a bonus find….

The agenda was finding the steel…

I want to build a bicycle cargo trailer, the back pack and bicycle carrier thing has its limits..

I decided to go with angle steel over tube because I didn’t want to get a notcher or cut and fit all the joints by hand for brazing…

But that may be subject to change since I like the look of tube frames, and the steel can always be used to make a push cart or whatever.. it just depends on how long I ponder the project and weigh the benefits of each… Tube is pretty, artful and lite.. angle is strong, easy to fit and modify..

With tube I can make the bike trailer look like a 1950’s Air-stream….or one of those tear drop rigs.. which would be fun and a little off center..

OK, maybe I haven’t decided.

But the solar oven is good too go, and it not like Arizona lacks daylight..or I’m pressed for time.

Dinner is as dinner do…

100_8915yeah well, I could have bought everything and spent $50..but made it instead for $3… the salmon before I made gravlax was $9 per pound and I have about 20 more servings… the marinated stuff..same deal, and its like that across the board.. I don’t have money to speak of and my income blows… But if you know how things are done.. you can live way better than you think…

Where the magic happens

100_8847What defines a kitchen? Granted its not a Better Homes and Gardens money shot, but its not quite Somalia..or Bangladesh.

Not that I haven’t made do with low tech over coals.. Which ironically, if done on a weekend or over a holiday is called BBQ or grilling and fun… but poverty and third world if done on the daily..

But I tend to question cultural norms….

My world, my life so whatever works, is what works and that’s what matters..