Monday, March 31, 2014

How to make Kale Chips

Kale leaf
Turn innocent looking kale leaves into delicious chips!
You may have watched my video on how to make Swiss Chard chips. Well today we'll be using kale from my garden to make chips out of. The recipe is exactly the same as the Swiss Chard chips, but the bitterness of kale makes the chips slightly more flavorful.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Soap Dish Casting Attempt 2

I tried casting the soap dish again.  This time it filled the mold 1/3 of the way which is an improvement from last time.  I had widened the gate for the metal to enter from 1/2" to 3/4" which helped, however this time I barely got the crucible melted before my oil tank ran out, so it poured a bit cold.
incomplete soap dish casting

Thursday, March 27, 2014

5 Reasons why the Offline Glass will never be a hit

Offline Glass
Now you'll never use your phone in the bar again!
You may have seen the video of the "Offline glass", one bar's solution to people constantly checking their phones at the bar. It is a pilsner glass with a notch cut out in its base for one to place their phone under to keep the glass upright. If the phone is under the glass, it no longer is in your hand and therefore you can't be using it. Sounds like a great idea for a bar environment, right? Am I right?


There are so many things wrong with this idea that I can barely begin to list them. Here are 5 reasons why this will never take off with bar owners.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

DIY Homemade Scented Soap

Soap Supplies
All the supplies to make your body smell great
We are both home at the same time for spring break, so we decided to do a collaborative project. To complement the soap dishes that will be made with the soap dish mold, we are making scented soaps. Thanks to a Martha Stewart video, learning the process behind making flavorfully scented soaps with natural ingredients was easy. If our attempt to naturally flavor the soap today is successful, I may start using some of my plants and herbs for future batches.

Naturally Scented Lemon Soap

Lemon soap wedges
Lemon wedges -- Lemon scented soap!
When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade, make soap instead. Using the peel of a lemon, we're able to make delightfully flavored lemon soap. What's cool about it is the peel bits created a gradient on both ends of the bar. This soap makes any bathroom smell of fresh citrus!

See more scented soaps

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Naturally Scented Garlic Soap

Of all the brands of soap Lupe Fiasco referenced in "I Gotcha", none are as flagrantly fragrant as my garlic soap
When my brother told me I could make any scent of soap I wanted, I immediately went with garlic.  Why? because it smells good.  I was told that I wouldn't be a hit with the ladies if I used garlic soap, but why would I want women that don't like garlic???

See more scented soaps

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Concord Grape Juice Wine

I promised this a while ago, but I finally got the time to make my newest batch. Today I'm using concord grape juice to make some red red wine. Traditionally, concord grapes are used for juice and jams, but there are some companies that make nice wine out of concord grapes. Since grocery stores don't sell wine grapes (or wine grape concentrate), I'm limited by the varieties they use.
Grape Juice Concentrate
100% Grape Juice. Never use that cocktail stuff.
Fun fact, concord grapes are a different species than most wine grapes. (Concord is Vitis labrusca while most wine grapes are Vitis vinifera).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring is here! Upstairs Garden Update

Swiss Chard Seedling
My newest Swiss chard plant
Yesterday was the first day of spring! Now the balcony will get its full 6 hours of sun once again. I haven't really planted anything new upstairs yet, but that will happen within the next two weeks (or whenever plants start dying off). Here's today's showcase.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Apple Raspberry Wine has been bottled

Apple Raspberry wine bottled
4 x 750ml = the total volume of wine
After nearly 2 months after starting this batch, I have bottled the Apple Raspberry wine. I had transferred this to secondary on February 2, so it had been bulk aging for a month and a half already. The wine finished at 12.5% ABV and clarified nicely. I'll give it time to age and maybe it will be ready in time for graduation. Cheers!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tap Handle (Threading)

I didn't have a handle for my larger taps, so I built one using a two piece design, here is the original sketch written on a discarded bench grinder housing because I was too lazy to get paper.
two piece tap handle design
A better sketch with dimensions:
The goal was to make a tap handle which will hold my entire range of larger taps, here is a 1"-20 tap on the left compared with a 5/8".  In order to do this I had to mill the square halves small enough to fit the smallest but also leave enough space for the biggest taps.
a 1" tap and 5/8" tap

Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

Pickled Chard stems
Don't waste those stems!
If you have made Swiss Chard Chips, you might remember setting all the stems aside. Don't throw those away, they can be pickled and used in later dishes. Here's a quick and easy recipe for picking chard stems.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Sun is back and Winter is leaving -- Upstairs Balcony Garden March 13

Now that my new batteries and external camera charger have arrived, I can take photos again without being leashed to the wall. I mentioned this last week, but all the bok choy in the downstairs garden bolted due to the heat. I'm starting new seeds (cucumbers and bush beans) to replace the old bok choy. Spring is almost here; the sun is heating up. The forecast says it is going to be 80°F this weekend, I'm afraid some of my crops will die off.
New seedlings for spring
A new crop is coming next season.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Deep Water Culture system (DWC) Growth Updates 2014

As it is a new year, a new post will be created for growth updates in the DWC system at home. The system will be growing broccoli, cabbage, and spinach primarily. Recently, the air pump was upgraded from the original 5 gallon model to a 60 gallon model. Recent images will be posted toward the top.

Learn how to build this system

System growth from 2013

Looks like the heat wave has finished off the broccoli and cabbages. Most of the broccoli has been harvested around (I've been told it was tasty). A new season is beginning, starting with a crop hydroponically grown bush beans.
March 10, 2014

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring is almost here 2014

With the clocks going forward an hour tomorrow, winter is starting to near an end. In between the bouts of rain, we have been getting quite a bit of sun. Unfortunately, mostly all my bok choy in the hydroponic garden ended up bolting. I pulled the bolting ones and planted some new seeds in the rockwool.
So much lettuce
Lots of Lettuce
Upstairs, I removed the rest of my lettuce, as all those plants had started growing a flower stalk. Pictured to the left is me trying to hold 3 whole lettuce plants. They were really big, much larger than any lettuce I'd grown before. Now I'll be eating salads for days as I wait my new transplants. I'll get more photos next week, stay tuned.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Drought causing higher food costs? Fight the price increases by growing your own!

Container grown Fresno peppers
These peppers grew in a container on my small balcony
Yahoo! published an article today, 10 foods eating into your budget. In it, they list lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers in their article as increasing in price. This is because most of those are sourced from the California Central Valley, where a major drought is causing trouble with farmers. So to fight this, I recommend attempting to grow your own. Aside from sunlight and warmth, these plants don't need more than a little bit of water each day to live.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hydroponic Garden Showcase -- March 4 Downstairs Garden Update

Best Bok Choy growth
The bin with the most progress
It's been wet and rainy again, after a brief period of sun in the last week. This week I bring you my downstairs garden again. The bok choy have been chugging along despite all this rain and lack of sunlight. I think they'll be done soon though, just in time for spring planting this year.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Importance of Labeling your Fermenters

Hard Cider Not Meth
Hard Cider (Not Meth)
If you have ever read my eBook or seen my homebrew posts, you may have seen how I label my fermenters. As you can see from the photo on the left, included on the sign is the name of the brew and the words "Not Meth" in parenthesis. Now it may seem obvious to some that I am not making meth, but there are those who are very confused with what a fermenter is and does.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Foundry: Soap Dish Casting Attempt 1

I got a chance to fire the furnace up to try and cast my first soap dish with the mold.

I utilized some new tools like this steel crucible.  I made it of some pipe, the bottom was tapered by cutting out wedge shapes with a cutting torch and hammered together with help from a rosebud tip for heating.  Then it was welded all together with a piece of either 5/8" or 3/4" plate on the bottom.  With the original diameter of the pipe, it would just slide through my crucible pouring shank, so I welded some pieces of 1/2" round stock on the sides to make it compatible.

Also that is an anvil the crucible is sitting on, another treasure from the Craigslist free section.

As you can see in the background, I leaked oil, molten metal, and ash all over the place.  I have since made some oil pans to prevent this from happening, and so I don't have to worry about turning the oil up really high.  The metal leaking was from when I tried to drop some pieces of scrap into the crucible, but missed.
Steel crucible

Ruby Red Swiss Chard

Red Chard Seedlings

As I enjoyed my white variety of Swiss Chard, I decided to try growing the red variety to add some more color to my life. I started these seeds a week ago, so I'll be adding more information and photos as they grow. This is a really easy plant to grow. I haven't done anything other than watering it to keep it alive and growing.

Salad Bowl Lettuce

The plant is so named because when it is fully grown, it is supposed to fill an entire salad bowl. From my experience, it does. This lettuce variety has different shaped leaves compared to regular leaf lettuce types.