Olivia’s Bed – Delivery Day

Today, we delivered and set up Olivia’s bed and dresser.  There was some final assembly work and alignment of the drawers in the pedestal.  She was also taken with the idea of the cubby spaces underneath being the “lower bunks” for her stuffed critters.

The new pulls match on the dresser and the bed drawers. They are a sort of ’50s look.

 I think she is pleased.

 

Finishing Olivia’s Bed and Dresser

Finished footboard

This finishing schedule is my go-to when I need robust color. I learned the basic technique a number of years ago in a class that was put on by the Wisconsin Woodworker’s Guild featuring Jeff Jewitt. Jeff also runs Homestead Finishing.

I wanted the bed and dresser to look like they belonged together, however the bed is red oak and the dresser is cherry so an exact match is not feasible.  The dresser had been my Dad’s and was a mid-century brownish grey color. When I scraped and sanded the old finish off the dresser, the cherry had wide swaths of sapwood in the top and drawer fronts. This was too jarring for my taste. So after removing the top, I sanded the underside of it to match how the top would be and made some tests with dye and stain. This proved my theory, that dye and stain could even out the sapwood -heartwood variation nicely.

Underside of top with wiped on dye and stain
Finished top – flipped but in same orientation as the underside shot

The original finished was scraped and sanded off down to bare wood.
The colors of the cherry then showed through. However there was a lot hf difference between heartwood and sapwood. This may be why the factory finish was so opaque.

Finish schedule

  • 2x Light spray coats of Transtint medium brown dye in alcohol per label instructions.
  • 2x wash coats of 2lb cut blonde shellac also sprayed on.  These must be light coats or the shellac with dissolved dye will bleed back out of the pores resulting in “pimples”. This can be severe on the Oak
  • Scuff sand with green Scotch Brite pad. This is roughly equivalent of 220 grit sandpaper.
  • General Finishes Nutmeg gel stain . Wiped on liberally and wiped off after 10 minutes.
  • Allow to dry for one week as the oil based stain would otherwise cause adhesion problems for the following finish coats
  • 2-3x coats of General Finishes water based polyurethane – matte lustre . These were sprayed on for the head and foot-boards of the bed, brushed on all other pieces. Each coat consisting of a tack coat and flow coat from opposite edges of the pieces.  On other pieces I have used the General Finishes Endurovar or Precat Lacquer. However this was done mid-winter and this was the least obnoxious finish for indoor application (and without risk of explosion).
  • Dresser top was also rubbed down with 0000 steel wool to eliminate the last brush marks.

Progress photos

View of the headboard after the dye and shellac has been applied and the gel stain is half applied.

Headboard with dye and wash coat of shellac and half of the gel stain applied.

The headboard and footboard had plywood scraps attached to the bottoms of the legs this mad handling of them MUCH easier with no worries of tip-overs.

Pedestal drawer fronts
Dresser drawers and top
Bed base with platform and drawers
Dresser ready for hardware

 

Spent grain sourdough

Spent grain sourdough fresh from the oven

I have been experimenting more with sourdough breads and have made a few more variants of the spent grain sourdough.  I think this is a bit simpler.  I have been baking every week or every other so the 2 step starter feeding is not necessary.

When choosing your grains for the sourdough, consider that the bread will get baked and brown further. I tried one with the steeping grains from an Imperial Stout and that was too dark. Edible, but almost burnt tasting when toasted.

Today, I am using Briess Caramel 40 malt. This was from a Dead Ringer IPA extract kit (one of my favorites).

Starter

~3/4c of saved unfed starter

2c Bread flour – King Arthur

1 1/2 c – 1 3/4 c warm water.

Mix and set aside,  covered for 24 hours.   The starter should be a bit wetter than bread dough, but not runny. It will loosen up as it ferments as well. After 24 hours it is “gloopy”. Think of your kid / grand-kid’s container of Slime but stickier.

Bread dough

Fed starter – 1/2c which goes back in the crock in the fridge

2 -2.5c spent grains – well drained

1c bread flour – start with 3/4 c and see what the consistency is like

1/2 tsp baking yeast

Mix for 2 min

Rest for 15 min

Mix for 5 min

Add 1 tsp salt

Add 5 tsp cooking oil

Mix at medium speed until the oil is incorporated. Then slow down 2 2nd lowest setting on the Kitchenaid mixer and mix for another 10 min. Add flour as necessary to have a slack dough that pulls away form the sides of the bowl while mixing.

Cover with damp towel and let rise for 1 hour. Then fold several times adding flour if necessary.  Let rise for another hour. Fold several times and work into a ball.  This dough needs support from a pan. So, place in an oiled dutch oven. Cover and let rise for 2 hours.

Baking

Preheat the oven to 425F . Place a sheet pan in the bottom.

When the oven is hot, heat 1 c water in the microwave until boiling.

Working quickly, uncover the bread, slash the top and place the bread int he oven . Then pour the hot water on the sheet pan and close  the oven.   This bread completely filled the dutch oven with no room to rise (I may have let it rise a bit extra long while working inthe shop). Set timer for 15 min.   At 15 min insert thermometer probe and cook until the internal temp is 195-205F  depending on how brown you like the top.

A view inside

We have started taking the spent steeping grains and placing 2-2.5 c measured portions in the freezer so that the spent grains are available between brew days as I bake a lot more often than I brew.  1lb of grain will yield about 6-7c of well drained spent grains.

Sous vide Pork Chops

Start with thick cut pork chops about 1.25 -1.5″ thick.

Season liberally with Penzey’s Jerk spice blend and vacuum bag.

Optionally add 1-2tsp honey per chop if you are grilling at normal height.

Cook at 140F for 4 hours.

Grill over a very hot fire or on the coals for 2-3 min per side to caramelize the crust.  If the meat is down on the coals 60-90 sec per side.  If the grid is elevated to normal height, then a light coating of honey prior to grilling will enhance the browning. If it is applied and the meat is down on the coals it will be blackened in 60-90 sec.  A bit too fast for my taste.

Even with the outside being a bit over done / charred, the inside was still moist and delicious.


We served these with: cauliflower with cheese sauce, smashed potatoes and apple sauce.

Tomorrow, I will be shopping for a bit bigger grate to place low but not quite on the coals.

Sous vide Pork Loin

As you can see from my other  recipes, pork loins are a family favorite. They can be a bit touchy to get done evenly without becoming tough. So this made it a candidate for a sous vide cooking experiment.  After some research I decided on an overnight brine and

Prepare the brine

1/2 c brown sugar

2/3 c cider vinegar

1/6 c salt

4 cloves garlic crushed

1TB black peppercorns crushed

2 tsp Colman’s mustard powder

1 TB shaved fresh ginger

1 1/3 c water

 

Mix brine and immerse the roast in it overnight (5 PM to 8 Am).  At this point, the outer 1/2″ of the roast was a much lighter color presumably due to the acid of the vinegar.

 

The next day vacuum bag with :

1/4 c prepared mustard

1TB chopped candied ginger

6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tsp ground allspice or 10 berries crushed could have gone in the brine instead

3 TB honey

 

Place in water bath at 140F for 4 hours

Brown on grill briefly (very hot fire) . 5 min per side with your favorite barbeque sauce. WIth this attempt the outside is flaking off in the tongs – schnibbles for the chef and helper.

 

Juices from the bag  made an excellent gravy but wold be too hot from the peppercorns for Teal (the black pepper flavor was MUCH srtonger in the juice than in the meat.

Defintely a basis for more experimentation to try to perfect the recipe. The leftovers are going to be great for sandwiches during the week.

 

Schweinshaxe – crisp pork shanks

On many of our trips to Baraboo, WI to visit my Mom, we will stop at the Meat Market by the fairgrounds (It was Mueller’s way back when I was a kid). While waiting for a rib roast to be cut, which I will later cut into thick rib-eye steaks for sous vide cooking,  I was looking through the meat case and saw these gorgeous pork hocks which were calling my name.

Memories of many trips to Germany and Karl Ratzch’s restaurant in Milwaukee came flooding back. So I bought a couple. I have never cooked these before, but they turned out great.  I wish I had tried this sooner.

Roast pork shanks

I searched for recipes and there seems to be no general consensus on the method. There are 3 camps it seems: boil and bake, bake, boil or confit (cook immersed in fat)  then deep fry.  I did find the Karl Ratzch recipe  but that is one of the deep fried variety.   There were also few sous vide variants with the water bath ranging from 150F for 48 hours to 170F for 8.  I was looking for fall apart tender so we went with 170 for 20 hours (basically put it in the water bath the night before).

Sous vide at 170F for 20 hours. Be sure to cover the pot or you will wake up in the morning with the cooker screaming and wondering how long has it not been cooking.  Use either no seasoning or some salt and pepper. You want the pork to shine in this recipe with very simple accompaniment.  Once the sous vide time is done, remove form the bag, reserving the juice.  Score the skin and fat and then carefully move into a baking dish. The meat will be soft and gelatinous at this point. It can easily fall apart, so use a spatula underneath.   Oil the baking dish (I used a 9×9 glass pan) and add 1/2″ of sweet beer (nothing hoppy). The reason for the oil is that there will be a lot of gelatin coming off the meat quickly and it can bake onto the pan as a miserable to clean, hard mess.

Place in the  oven at 350F on convect for 60 min and finish at 425F for 20 min. Keep adding beer to the pan so the drippings don’t burn!  There  will be a lot of gelatin and fat released in the cooking process.  We ended up with a 1/4″ layer of dark brown crunchy goodness on the bottom, floating on the fat. Delicious!  Better than cracklings and just as crispy.

This is like having a pig roast in the winter. Skin is crispy and the meat is unctuous, fall apart tender and juicy. Plus, we have more for left overs, such as black beans, rice and pork burritos.

Back when Karl Ratzch’s was open, if you finished one (and they were bigger than these), they brought out another for free. I did that once, but can’t imagine doing that now.  Yes, I took one bite and asked for the rest to be wrapped up to take home.

Pork shank, sauteed onions and cabbage, sourdough bread

And by the way, the cost of the 2 pork shanks was just over $6.   These were originally “working class / peasant food”. You pay a high premium in a restaurant for something that is very easy to make from low cost materials.  Budget food greatness.