Multigrain Sourdough

Another variation on the Multigrain Sourdough Boule from the King Arthur Flour website.  Each iteration is improving.

Starter

The night before ,feed the starter using 1/2 c starter , 2 cups flour, 1.5 to 1.75 cups warm water. Cover and rise over night at room temp +.   Our lower oven after baking in the top one is perfect. Using the proof setting of 100F  is actually too warm and the rise is not as nice later.

Ingredients

  • 1.5c KAF Harvest Grains Blend  + 1/4c poppy seeds
  • 1c boiling water
  • 3c fed starter
  • 2c whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 c bread flour
  • 3 TB sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Instant yeast (I use SAF)

Add the harvest grains to the water and let soak for 20 min

Mix and rise

Mix everything together and let sit for 30 min to hydrate the flour. This is especially important for whole grain flours.  Huge improvement in texture

Knead for 7 min  – Kitchenaid with dough hook and #2 . Mixer will get warm.   Dough will be soft moist, and very sticky

First rise 90 min at 100F in the mixer bowl covered with a hot wet dish towel.

Liberally butter the inside of a dutch oven (including the lid).

After the first rise scrape the dough into the dutch oven. No need to knead. Even out the top. Cover with the wet towel again .

Rise again for 40-60 minutes at 100F until doubled.

Bake

Preheat oven to 425F .

Move to the hot oven and bake covered on convect for 30-35 min.

Uncover and continue baking 10-20 min and check the internal temp. 190F is done.

Remove from oven when done. Rest in pan for 5 min, then turn out onto wire rack.

Eye of Round Roast

Rare Roast Beef sandwiches

Having the ideal tools now in hand I decided to tackle one of the tastier but more difficult cuts of meat to do well. This is the Eye of round.

This bullet shaped piece of meat is extremely lean and has sinewy bands through it. If you are not careful it can end up tough and chewy.

However prepared this way it is tender and delicious. The  secret is in not overcooking the meat and then slicing it extremely thinly . This cuts through the connective tissue and makes for a very tender sandwich without pieces sliding out of the sandwich when you take a bit but cannot easily bite through.

Spice blend

1TB freeze dried shallots (Penzey’s)  – ground in mortar and pestle

1TB Italian Seasoning  – add to the shallots and grind finely

1tsp Penzey’s seasoned salt -4S

2tsp granulated garlic

Cook and serve

Coat the roast with the spice blend and seal in a vacuum bag

Cook sous vide at 136F for 8 hours.  Some recipes call for 24-36 hours

Remove from the bag reserving the juice and pat dry

Sear directly over charcoal with cherry wood chunks. This will give a nice crust in 60-90 seconds per side. Brown all of the sides and the flat end . The browning adds a nice flavor component especially with the seasoning blend used.

Set aside to cool . I placed ours in the freezer for 30 min

Slice thinly. I set the meat slicer to 1.25. The rare meat stays together in nice thin slices and does not crumble as it might with a longer cooking time.

Serve on hard rolls with fried onions and cheese. Teal likes Muenster.  I prefer blue or Montamore with a good mustard.  this is time to break out one of the exotic ones

Store the rest of the meat in a closed container. Add the reserved juice and pack down. This will minimize the oxygen exposure preserving the flavor for 10 days or until gone.

Teal says this is her favorite sous vide recipe so far.

Penzeys spices https://www.penzeys.com/ is a local company with stores across the US.   Truly superior spices and a wonderful  view f public policy.

Entryway bench

Teal has wanted a bench by the front door to use when putting on shoes. This would be better than sitting on the stairs.

Last time we were at Kettle Moraine Hardwoods, the local lumber mill, we came across an interesting Elm slab that was about the right size. So it went in the truck with the rest of the lumber.  Our floors are Red Elm, so this complements them nicely.

The slab had cracks in it due to the knots. The largest cracks was filled with some  matching fine sawdust. All of the cracks were then flooded a few times with thin Cyanoacrylate glue.   The slab was then planned and belt sanded.

Teal wanted the front edge left as a live edge, but it still needed some clean up.   This was done with spokeshaves and sandpaper. The edges were rounded over with a block plane.

The top was finished with: two coats of Bona DTS sealer, lightly scraped between coats to get rid of the raised grain fibers, and then sanded with 220 grit. Then, two coats of General Finishes Enduovar Polyurethane Matte lustre finish were applied.  These were all brushed on as this small surface area did not justify breaking out the sprayer.

The legs were a bit of a problem as there is a heating duct coming up right were one of the legs should go.  This lead to an unconventional design idea. The legs would be curved, and support it in the front and a ledger bar screwed to the wall in the back.

The legs are made from two 1/8″ sheets of steel. The template was made fr0m 1/8″ hardboard. The curves were made with the aid of a thin batten (wood strip)  that was bent to shape and traced.  The template was cut out on the bandsaw and the edges sanded smooth.  The steel sheets were stacked and the template clamped to them and the pieces were then cut with the plasma cutter (and it was snowing again that day).

The edges of the steel were ground clean. It is very hard to weld through the plasma cut edge as is as the steel forms a nitride / oxide coating during the plasma cutting.

The bottom end of the “Y” was also spaced apart. This gives the legs a bit of a flair. 1 small scrap of 1/8″ steel was placed in for the first 3 inches or so.

The edges were then TIG welded shut and ground to a nice curve.

The top of the legs is a piece of 1/8×1″ steel  and the feet are 1/4x1x3″ steel. These had the corners rounded, holes drilled in the top pieces and then were also TIG welded onto the legs.

Given that I am new to TIG welding, through the process I stuck the tungsten tip more than once. The TIG welding process has a bit of learning curve, especially for someone that does not chew gum, as that would preclude walking for me.  Managing the torch and then adding the filler rod without getting the electrode contaminated is a bit of a trick and I also roasted my fingers a few times in the process. Once the electrode is contaminated, definitely stop and change it out, trying to make do, just makes a mess and things get way too hot.  I can safely say my tungsten grinding skills are now quite good. Welding will take more practice, but I did get a few really nice beads along the way. I think getting a really nice bead now and then helps suck  you in and makes you forget the frustrations of the learning process.

Afterwards the legs were given one more pass with an 80 grit flap disk and were ready for painting.  One coat of primer and 2 coats of satin black. I like the Rustoleum Pro spray paints for this.  They dry fast and hard and have a decent re-coat window. I have used these for most of my tool  builds & rebuilds.

Makin’ Bacon

Background

We had been searching for a lower nitrate bacon alternative. This is due to the nitrates combining with the meat and forming nitrosamines when cooked at high temperatures (e.g when you cook the bacon until crispy). The so called “uncured” bacons that we had found uses celery juice or extract rather than Sodium Nitrite.  However celery is very rich in naturally occurring nitrates. The uncured bacons with the celery  in many cases have MORE nitrates in them than  than those made with sodium nitrite! See this article where it was quantified. https://www.cooksillustrated.com/ho…/5734-nitrate-free-bacon.

We also prefer a less salty bacon and with a mild smoke flavor such as from apple or cherry.  We have an abundance of cherry wood for smoking.

So I did some research, on the web, bought the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman, and talked to co-workers. Finally, I was confident I could do this and set out to buy some pork belly (where did I see it in a store last?).   After a few false leads I ended up at a small local grocery with its own butcher shop – Panos in Waukesha.  There I procured an 11 lb slab of meaty pork belly – skin on.   I took it home and the skin came off without too much trouble.  I tried making chicharrones but that was a disaster.   However the bacon turned out great!

One of the important things when curing meats is to do everything by weight, not volume. The density of salt can vary by two to one (e.g table or canning salt vs a coarse kosher salt.  I dry cured the bacon for a week before smoking.  The cure recipe below has far lower levels of nitrite than any of the recipes I found on the web. The justification for the lower level still being safe is the bacon will be cured in a refrigerator, hot smoked and then eaten quickly or frozen. This minimizes the chances of botulism growth.  I would not try this low a level for a dried salami or other products cured at room temperature (but those are not generally cooked crispy either).

Basic Dry Cure (adapted from Charcuterie)

450 grams kosher or canning salt

225 grams white sugar

28 grams pink salt (cure #1)   – note this is HALF of the amount recommended in the book

This was mixed up and then applied to the meat. I had 2 pieces 1.9KG and 2.2 KG which used 70g and 85g respectively (approximately 1/4 cup) .   The cure was rubbed in well. The balance is in a jar waiting for the next project.

The smaller piece was to be spicier.  TO this I added the following:

3 bay leaves crushed

4 large cloves garlic finely chopped

1.5 tablespoons black pepper coarsely cracked (next time I will double this)

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

The spices were mixed and then rubbed all over the piece.

The bacon to be slabs were placed in glass baking dishes and covered with plastic wrap and then put in the fridge in the garage. They were turned once a day. The weather was unseasonably cold so the fridge temps were probably lower than planned (26 degrees when I inserted the probes for smoking).  There was not much liquid given off.

Smoking prep

The night before smoking, the bacon was rinsed well and then placed on skewers over the baking dishes and returned to the fridge uncovered. This allowed the outer layer to dry and from a pellicle which helps the smoke penetration.

Smoking

The Big Green Egg was fired up and set for indirect heat. 2″ thick chunks of cherry branches were placed on the charcoal. The Heatermeter was set for 205 degrees. Temperature probes were placed in the thickest part of each slab.  It was a very windy cold drizzly and snowy day  (good thing the Heatermeter case is waterproof).  When the meat hit 130 degrees I rotated each by 180 degrees so the outer edges would not get too done  as the slabs filled the grill and were not entirely shielded from direct heat.  At 3 hours the meat was 150 to 175 degrees and the smoker temp was rising due to the high winds (I don’t have a damper on the fan yet) . So I pulled the bacon off the smoker and put it back in the fridge.

Taste

This bacon is great. The right level of salt and spices and very meaty. Nice pink color even with the low nitrite level. I had taken a few strips the night before smoking to taste and make sure it was not too salty . However it did not fry up near as well as the smoked bacon.

Teal and I like both flavors and the savory one will be great for salads, BLTs, etc. The bacon cooks up very crisply.

At the moment the house smells like a good old fashioned butcher shop and smoke house – yum.

Slicing

We got a new meat slicer for this and other cooking projects. It worked like a charm. So easy and consistently thin slices (the way Teal likes them).   Of course you could slice by hand especially if you like thick cut bacon. It will just take longer and you would probably want to slightly freeze the meat before slicing to firm it up even more. The bacon was then divided up and vacuum packed for freezing.  We ended up with almost 8 lbs of finished bacon.

Conclusion

This is definitely something we will do again. There is not a huge amount of applied time involved, but you do have to wait for the meat to cure.  Not hard and a great payoff. While the bacon was smoking, David and I also brewed up 2 batches of beer .  Teal was very patient with us and helped out as well.

We have bacon that tastes great and we know exactly what has gone into it.

Next I wonder about doing some pork loins for canadian bacon. They were on sale last I looked.

 

Crib – Mattress frame

The mattress needs to be height adjustable. With this design there are 3 heights available. High, low and floor.

The frame is made of 3/4×3/4 ” 14 gauge steel tubing. It is sized to fit about 3/4″ inside of the wood frame.

The frame is supported at the corners, however the screw and nut locations would collide with the sides. So I used buried nuts welded into the end rail pieces prior to assembly. To do  this the holes are drilled (#7) and tapped (1/4-20 ) 3/4″ from each end. A sacrificial bolt is inserted and a nut is placed on it finger tight. The nuts are then welded in place. I used a MIG welder.  However the day was windy and my skills rusty after the long winter so they are not the prettiest of welds.  (so feel free to pick on my weld quality)

I have often used this technique for buried fasteners when bolting through relatively thin stock like this or for beds where the nut plates are buried in the wood legs.

The holes for the webbing were then drilled in the  sides. It is much easier to do this while the frame is still in pieces. I always make a list of the hole distances prior to marking and drilling. This is easy in a spreadsheet and minimizes the chances for an error half way through and the piece ending up looking like swiss cheese.  I will use #8 x1/2″ hex head self tapping sheet metal screws. The holes are 9/64″ or #28 drill.

The frame was then welded up, welds ground flush, flap disk sanded (120 grit) primed and painted.

The webbing is 2″ light polypropylene webbing. I ordered a 150 foot roll and used most of it.

The webbing ends are folded over and secured with the screw and washer. If you have restrung an old aluminum lawn chair, you know the drill.

When securing the second end the triangle tip should hang over the side by about 1/2″.  Now you start the screw through the webbing. Next you use a nut driver or impact driver and hex bit to lever the screw over after catching the tip in the hole. This adds just the right tension. Use hex head screws, I can’t imagine how frustrating this would be with just a straight screwdriver.  The long straps are tighter than the sides and installed first as I did not want to bow in the sides

The frame is hung from these small pieces. They make the hole spacing forgiving and provide access to the screws that are otherwise hidden mostly by the frame. 1/4″ long spacers are placed between the straps and frame. These were made on the 3D printer, although you could also pay the price at the hardware store.

Now ready for delivery. Gap around the mattress is one finger thickness – just about perfect.

Crib – Finishing and Assembly

Finish, then Assemble design

This design is based on the technique of: finish, then assemble. This will sound backwards to most people, but is a very logical and efficient way to do certain kinds of projects – especially those with lots of small parts.  It works well with many Craftsman designs or adaptations of them.

The primary key to making this succeed is to have joints where every surface has a reveal or offset.  This begs for mortise and tenon joinery as well as flat recessed or raised panels. This project was designed for reveals and recessed flat panels.

When designing a piece for this technique it is easy to go overboard with large reveals. This has 1/16″ to 1/8″ reveals. The key point is to not have any adjacent surfaces that when assembled must be flush (and then require sanding, planing or scraping).

The beauty of this technique is that the surface preparation is easy.  I really hate sanding and scraping into corners and to do this between spindles is a special kind of hell. It is so easy to create a divot while attempting to clean up that last little bit of “something”.  With the  all flat surfaces and you can spray the finish on all horizontal pieces ( no runs).  This works well if you don’t spray finish on a daily weekly or even monthly basis.

Sanding and scraping

I sand all of the pieces to 120 grit and definitely hand sand or scrape again after the drum sander to avoid nasty longitudinal scratches.   With well figured wood I will then hand scrape as well to better “pop” the figure once finish is employed.    Note that scraping after sanding requires more sharpening but this is a small price to pay.  For any large flat surface, scraping really is a must. It is not only faster than a good sanding job but also gives a better more transparent finish in the end (more chatoyance).  The random orbit sander no longer has a place here, as I am tired of cleaning up swirliques that show up once the stain is applied.

Spraying

Once the parts are sanded I lay them out on left over strips of wood for efficient spraying. The goal is to have them close enough to minimize wasted finish but far enough apart to get good edge coverage.  When gang spraying pieces like this  I spray at approximately a 30 degree angle so that the edges get good coverage. The rack of pieces gets 2 passes so that I can hit both sides. This means that as you walk down the row the first pass will not have full coverage on the face, but as you reverse direction for the second pass it will.  The edges achieve full coverage as the get hit when each face is sprayed.

When I first started doing spindles like this, I placed them close together and sprayed per normal directions and still had uneven sides. Using the current technique the sides turn out great and it only takes half the time as I only flip once per coat instead of four times .

Mortises and dadoes when finishing

For proper glue adhesion, you really do not want to have the finish layers inside of the joints.  Having finish inside of the joints is a recipe for glue bond failure.  The tenons are easy – tape them.

However the mortises and dadoes are more difficult. There are two major types: those that meet with a shoulder and those that do not. The top and bottom rails are good examples of those that meet with a shoulder. The mortise is hidden well within the end of the stock with the tenon that fits into it. These well hidden mortises can be covered with masking tape. The mortises and dadoes that will not have broad shoulders covering their edges are more difficult as masking tape will easily protrude on to what will be exposed areas.  Rolled up paper towels , newspaper and even wooden scraps can work, but the easiest by far is using foam “backer rod” that is used for weatherstripping and to fill the big gaps in your house that you can then caulk over.   Here we have 1/2″ backer rod filling some of the mortises.  The pieces can easily be re-used for future projects.

 

Finish schedule – all sprayed except for the gel stain:

Behlen solarlux dye – Golden fruitwood

2 light coats 1 lb cut garnet shellac

General FInishes gel stain – mix of 2 parts Georgian Cherry, 1 part Candle lite   – rub on, rub off and let dry 5-7 days. The long dry time is due to it  (oil based stain) being followed up with a water based finish

1 coat General Finishes Endurovar gloss precat water based urethane

2 coats General Finishes Endurovar Satin precat water based urethane . The precatelyzed polyurethane is exceptionally durable and UV resistant.  It is very brushable as well . I also enjoy the opportunity to promote a local business which really does have a superior product.  Their factory is <20 miles from my home.

If you are wondering; “Why gloss then satin?”. The reason is that the first coat of finish is often much heavier than the later ones,  and each coat of satin will drop the clarity of the finish. So the rationale is to build up the finish coats with gloss for depth and  sandability. Then switch to satin for the last 2 coats to provide the desired lustre.  While I would prefer to have just one coat of satin for best clarity, my technique is imperfect and I need 2 coats of satin to make sure there are not glossy patches showing through in the final finish.   I do the same with most other finishes where I want a non-gloss lustre.  The exception is Sherwin Williams pre cat rubbed effect lacquer.  This stuff is glorious, but must be used outside due to toxicity and not wanting to risk the house going BOOM.

Final assembly

Once the pieces have been finished, it is time for assembly.  This is where the epoxy comes in. This is not just the fast hardening hardware store syringes but rather the slower setting high strength epoxies from: Gougeon Brothers / West System, System 3 and Glen-L Marine Designs.  Beware of those selling “penetrating epoxies” which are basically the same base components with thinners / diluants but then lack in mechanical strength.

For the final assembly we do one last dry fit-up.  This verifies that we have all of the right pieces in place and there are no finish issues (blobs) impeding assembly.

The epoxy is thickened with silica. The colloidal silica keeps it from running or sagging during assembly. The high strength silica adds bulk. Think of adding sand and stone aggregate to concrete as the logical equivalents.   This mix is then tinted to match the darker colors in the wood.  The dark colors blend in well to the grain and look natural in the crevices of the joints if your clean up is imperfect. However if it is lighter than the background wood color it will stick out like a sore thumb.

We are also careful to clean up any squeeze out or fingerprints with plenty of paper towels and denatured alcohol. The epoxy will discolor in sunlight due to the UV rays and what may not be noticeable now may very well be in 5-10 years.

Crib – End rails and slats

Slat Fitting

The curved end rails made for some interesting routing for the mortises.  The slats were inserted into the bottom rail mortises and aligned behind each of the mortises. Then pieces of blue masking tape were used to mark the length to the bottom of the rail and the angle. An additional 1/2 inch was added to arrive at the final length.

The router was set up with a fence to guide the cuts and keep them centered.  However the direction of the plunge for the mortise is perpendicular to the bottom edge at that point. The ends of the mortises are then not parallel with the slat edges.  There are then 2 options:

Chisel the ends to be parallel with the slat ends. This is very hard with a  small gouge in the Oak.

Bevel the edge of the slat to approximate the angle of the slot end. This is FAR easier.

Below you can see the end rail and one of the slats. The slot nearest the slat has some small burn marks, so you can see the direction of the plunge. The end of the slat has been trimmed to length and the right end beveled to roughly match the mortise end. 

One final test fit with all of the slats in place.

Next step was rounding and beveling of the edges of the legs and rails.

Now on to the finishing.

Crib – Planing and Plasma

Completing the rails

Today’s tasks included completing the front and back top rails and making the bottom plates that fasten the ends to the front and back .

The top rails needed to be transformed into the sleek shapes in the drawing. This meant making the under-hanging lip, adding it to the rail and the generating the sweeping curve of the rail top.

The underhanging lip is a 1/2″ thick semicircular segment which is then glued to the rest of the top rail. To safely and accurately make a shape like this you must start out with a larger piece, shape the edge and then rip it off.  Below you can see the stock being run through on the router table with a 1/2″ radius round over bit. The fence is set flush with the front edge of the router bearing. The fence is needed as the bearing of the router bit will not be landing on un-cut stock  and it provides the needed support for the cutting depth. The feather boards  help to both guide the stock and keep my fingers clear of the spinning router bit.

 

After the profile is cut with the router, it is then ripped off on the table saw.

This profile was the glued on to the top rail. You can see it as the bulge in the lower left of the rail as seen below. The drawing of the rail end was the printed out square with the end and with no perspective in Sketchup. This was then printed life size (which took several tries). The print out was the cut out and placed over the ends of the rails and the outline traced with a  sharpie.

The corners and excess were then saw off on the bandsaw and table saw. At this point the goal is to have a rough approximation of the curve which is ready for hand shaping.   The bandsaw with the table tilted offers a safer alternative to the table saw when there is a small land / support area under the base of the stock and the cut has no support directly underneath it.   Be careful here, greater overhang under the cut can fling the stock or break the blade if you lose control.  In retrospect a feather board behind the blade would have been a good idea here.

Now comes the exercise part.  There was a LOT of hand planing required to get to the final profile. Remember this is Oak.   It took just over an hour to plane the rails and another 1/2 hour of sanding and touch up planing.  I started with a #6 plane set for a fairly aggressive cut.   The shavings piled up quickly and my heart rate rose as well.  I think I was excused from skipping my usual workout on the elliptical (the shirt did not stay on long after this photo).

When planing a curve like this, you start out with the facets cut on the saws approximating the curve. With the plane, you basically bisect each facet, adding new ones and incrementally going from a rough set of angular faces to an ever better approximation of the curve. The sound of the plane and touch of your fingers guides where to make each cut, angling each one differently than the prior one.  After planing, then the sanding starts with 80 grit cloth backed paper on a long stick.

Side brackets

The next step was to start cutting the brackets which hold the end pieces to the legs. I wanted to minimize the visible hardware on the final bed, sacrificing a bit on having more hardware showing on the crib. The ends are held on with 12 gauge steel plate brackets (about 0.1″ thick) . The brackets are cut out with the plasma cutter (much more fun than a saw).

The brackets are then drilled to 1/4″ for the screws and then the locations are marked with a transfer punch. The holes are drilled and brass threaded inserts are screwed into the wood.  Below you can see the frame with the bottom bakets in place and ready to start making the top end brackets.

 

Crib – Headboard

What will become the headboard of the bed is the tall / wall side of the crib. This week we have sanded all of the legs and rails and spindles.

The headboard has three flat panels. They are glued up from two 5mm  (not quite 1/4″) thick sheets of oak veneer plywood.   The front facing side has the same quarter sawn white oak veneer as the dressers and the back side is  rotary cut white oak .  I did change form 2 panels to 3 to accommodate the size of the plywood off cuts from the dressers and in the end, I do think it looks better with 3 than with 2.

The panels were glued together with TiteBond Cold Press veneer glue and placed in the vacuum press to cure.   Vacuum time was 1.5 hours. They were then left in the bag for another 3 hours  and then removed and placed on stickers to dry further. This is critical. If you simply take the pieces out and lay them on a flat surface they will cup badly due to the moisture leaving faster via the uncovered top.  

The top rail assembly for the back was similar to the front with the dado (facing right) cut prior to assembly.

 

The Workmate is the handiest way to hold an assembly like this.  The top and bottom rails are placed first and the gap measured (at least twice) and then the length including depth of the dadoes is added prior to cutting all of the pieces to length. The dividers have tenons on the end and dadoes on the sides, so the panels are retained all around. The end gaps are 2″ to conform to safety standards.

Next comes test assembly of the footboard and shaping of the top rails