Saturday, July 19, 2014

DUTCH OVEN TRIVET - Make Your own



This handy Trivet accessory is great for Dutch Oven cooking.  Primarily used as a lid stand.  Also for use in elevating a legless cast iron pot, skillet, or coffee pot, just above charcoal coals.   They could also be configured to fit inside a Dutch Oven to elevate a pie tin or muffin tin.  Or double stack a skillet on top of a Dutch Oven to make use of the Dutch Oven lid coals.

Do you need hot dish water?  We carry stainless steel half steam tray pans with us on outings.  The steamer trays are available at restaurant supply stores.  Place your trivet over some glowing coals.  Then place your steamer tray of water on top of the trivet.  It will be hot when you are done eating.  Better have at least two.  Use one tray for wash, the other for rinse.  Even have a third tray for sanitizer/ bleach water, if you wish to meet any food handling code requirement.

A friend of mine gave me one of these similar looking trivets a couple years ago.  I like this layout of the horseshoes the best.  There are numerous patterns that could be made.  

 I made a design change to the fixed, welded on legs of the original one I was given.  The ones I fabricated have that modification.  Nuts were welded to the underside that allows the legs (bolts) to screw in.  This serves several purposes.  First it allows the legs to be removed for easier transport and flatter storage.  Secondly you could carry bolts of various lengths allowing you to adjust the height.  Third, the head of the bolts acts like a foot to make the trivet much more stable especially when used on soft ground.

Below is the parts list and approximate cost if parts purchased new, paying tax etc.  If you have access to used discarded horseshoes and hardware.  Stuff kicking around in cans on the shelf of your garage or shop, these can be produced for nearly nothing.  I used horseshoe size 00LITE purchased at a local Farm Supply outlet.

Amount         Item                           Unit $             Total$
(3)                   Horseshoes              $2.25              $6.75
(3)                   3/8X1 ½ Bolt         $   .40              $1.20
(3)                   3/8 Nut                 $   .40              $1.20
                        Weld wire                                     $2.85
                       Argon/Co2 gas mix
                       Paint                                               --------
                                          Total Material Cost  $12.00

My standard leg is a 3/8 x 1 ½ inch long bolt.  With the thickness of the shoe on top of the vertical bolt, your pot or skillet bottom surface is about 1 ¾ inch off the ground.  Roughly the distance most Dutch Oven legs raise the pot.  A perfect height for having a ring of charcoal or wood coals underneath your Pot or Skillet.

To fabricate I used a MIG wire feed type welder with Argon/Co2 gas mix and steel wire.  Start by placing the 3 shoes in the arrangement I show with the beveled side up.  Weld at the 3 joining points and keep the weld lower than the flat surface of the shoe to avoid needing finish grinding.  Since this is the beveled side of the shoe there is a nice "V" at the joint to float your weld in.  This surface will be your finished pot surface.

Flip the now wielded shoes over with the non-beveled shoe surface facing up.  Weld at the 3 joints. (on the opposite side you already welded).  This is to become the underside of your trivet.  So if your weld mounds up slightly on this side, don't worry.  No grinding will be required on the finished under side.  Thread your (3) 3/8 nuts on to your 3/8X1 ½ Inch bolts, almost all the way flush.  Then back out the bolt about a ½ turn.  Hold the nut end up against the bottom of your shoe assembly by holding the bolt with a welders glove.  Weld the nut to the shoe in the center of each arc.  (See Photo for location).

When all nuts/legs are welded on, flip unit so the leg feet are now down.  Grind any welds (on the pot surface side) that might rise higher than the flat surface of the shoes to avoid a rocking pot.  Hit all the weld locations with a power wire brush to clean up any soot or loose debris.  Tighten the leg bolts with a wrench (remember you backed them out 1/2 a turn).  That way the legs will not vibrate out and get lost.  Carry different lengths of bolts for your desired cooking heights.

The finished assembly can either be finish painted with High Temp (2000°)Flat black paint (stove black paint), or given several coats of seasoning the same way you would season a cast iron Dutch Oven or skillet.  If you will use these inside a pot for raising a pie tin, I would only season and never apply paint.


 

Rick Beach has been cooking for over 45 years.   Much of the cooking done in the outdoors. "If you want to add the years Mom used sifting and measuring cornmeal as a baby sitter, while she herself was baking...then its even longer"!  Equally at home using the conveniences of a modern day kitchen, or outside cooking over coals from a campfire.  An accomplished Dutch Oven cook as well as cooking and setting up for 100+ person events.  While many recipes might be handed down family favorites, others are new personal recipes that have been created over the years.  You might find Rick cooking anywhere in the western area of the USA. Loves the Outdoors, Traveling, Camping, and Cooking.  If not cooking, there is always photography, hiking, and kayaking!




Monday, June 30, 2014

A Horse encounter of the Wild kind

A short article about an encounter with a young wild horse.



Ever since I was a child I have encountered wild animals that have been injured, or left in a bad situation.  There have been squirrels, rabbits, and birds.  I recall a baby robin that had fallen from the nest.  It survived the fall but would not survive predators if left hopping around the ground.   I took it in and hand fed it bits of worms, and eye dropper rations of water.   The Robin grew and developed.   It eventually learned to fly, and for several weeks it would fly and return to me.   Then one day it decided it was time to go, and flew away free.

An earlier memory was the time my father came home with a baby raccoon.  He had found it alongside the road, sitting next to its dead mother.  The mother was a victim of being struck by a car.  I have vague memories of this orphan.  It was eventually given to some human friends that lived in the country.  For years it would disappear in the fall and show up in the spring, still retaining its bond with people.

Is this simply a bond with “the hand that feeds it”?  Or is there something more to this?

I also have always had a way with dogs.  Though another early memory I have is attempting to pet a German Sheppard on the street.  That resulted in a bite and me being taken to the doctor, and shots.  At that age I dreaded shots, so that was kind of a traumatic experience that remains a memory.

Odd that later in life I have owned German Sheppard’s as my own pets.  A string of Sheppard’s for over 40 years.   Perhaps facing my fears and embracing them?

I could go on and list more.  But I assume this is not uncommon for many of us.  I do want to talk about my latest encounter with a wild horse though.

Some of us in the western states of the USA still get the unique experience of seeing wild horses running free.  Many are wild Mustangs.  These are descendants of those Mustangs from long ago.  My friend that knows horses says these have a distinct head shape.   I assume other non-Mustang wild horses have either been those turned loose, or those that wonder off from ranchers and such.  The parts of Nevada just north of Las Vegas (Where I am located) have vast sections of open range and rugged mountains.  While driving many of the 2 lane roads it is not uncommon to see signs that say “Next Gas 120 Miles”.

I normally see more wild Burro’s than wild horses.  It is interesting to note that the Burros are descendants of the prospector’s beasts of burden, from the Gold Rush era.  It is amazing they survive and flourish so well in this arid region.   I have had many encounters with these Burros on numerous occasions.  Some close enough to touch.  The babies are so cute, when new born and fuzzy. 

While my Burro encounters have happened many times over the years, I have never had such an up close encounter with a wild horse, Mustang or other, for that matter.  I have seen and photographed wild horses from time to time.   But those were always experienced from a distance.  I never had a horse experience I would soon have.

In my 60+ years I have spent most of my off time in the outdoors.   Even more time, now that I have retired.  I am an avid photographer, backpacker, kayaker, and camper.   I have backpacked part of the Ansel Adams Wilderness, trekking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.  I have also backpacked to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon area....but those are stories for another day.

Without question, many times I am alone and enjoying the solace of the forest.  The solitude of mirror waters of a lake or stream in the early sunrise.  I have witnessed awesome sunsets that paint the sky with blues and orange….watching the sun disappear behind distant mountains.  On occasion this experience is further enhanced by the yipping of a coyote.   It is easy to close your eyes, and let your other senses take over.  Easy to imagine you are in another place, or another time.  

This all leads to a recent, early morning bike ride.  I was out about 6:30am peddling my mountain bike.  About to experience something I have never encountered.

I was up on Mt Charleston at about an 8000ft elevation.  To explain some of the logistics, Mt Charleston is about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, Nevada.  The mountain is in stark contrast to the dessert climate of Vegas.  At this 8000ft elevation I was in towering Ponderosa Pine trees.  Though sunny, it was a brisk 40 degrees in the early morning.  The mountain top that rose at least another 2000 ft above me, still had lots of snow for May.  Though where I was at, the snow was gone and plants were beginning to cast off winter.

My objective was to peddle my bike up to the Las Vegas Ski Resort which was above me at over the 9000ft level.  I was on the only paved road in the area.  At this time of the morning I had the road to myself.  I was enjoying the smell of the pines and the many birds I heard.  The bike was in low gear, and I was starting to breathe harder than normal.  It was a steep rise using only leg power.  The thinner air was also having an affect.
 
Something off to my right caught my eye.  There was a young horse some distance off the road, lying on the ground, basking in the sun.  It looked more like a large puppy dog.   It reminded me of my small Chihuahua that always seems to be cold.  Our Chihuahua likes to seek out the early morning rays of sun streaming through our patio door to catch the warmth.

This young horse was catching similar rays of sun streaming down through the trees.  I got off my bike and approached slowing on foot, snapping photos as I walked closer.  The horse kept an eye on me and eventually stood up.  I could tell he was curious of me but seemingly unafraid. I took a few more photos as the horse began to graze on some of the sparse grass that was growing.  The horse didn’t seem to mind I was present.  It even moved closer.  My thoughts were how fortunate I was to get these shots.

I turned around and put my back to the horse, and tried to stand still.  In about 10 minutes the horse closed the 100ft gap between us.  It had walked up behind me.  I could feel him smelling the back of my neck.  I slowly turned and made no quick movements.   I was eventually able to rub his muzzle and scratch between his ears.  I did have to be careful because he seemed to want to taste me.   This went on for 30 minutes or so.  He eventually went back to grazing and slowly worked his way away from me.  What an experience.

I spoke with some of the locals that said this horse was a baby late last year and was normally seen with a group of 5 or 6 adults.  This group of horses seems to roam the area just at the tree line.  While the adults are very skittish this young one seems to not have that fear yet. 

A friend of mine that keeps horses saw the photos and said the head shape isn’t correct to be a wild Mustang.   So it makes you wonder what the story is of this group of wild horses.    To me it doesn’t matter which they are.  The experience it provided me was very touching.  A memory I will remember the rest of my life. 




Rick Beach has been trekking the outdoors for most of his 60+ years.  An avid photographer, backpacker, & kayaker.   

 

Also has technical rock climbed, Scuba Dived, and Sailed parts of the Carribean.  

 

You might find Rick exploring or enjoying the outdoors anywhere in the western area of the USA. Loves the Outdoors, Traveling, Camping, and Outdoor Cooking.  They make for a great combination.

  


DIY: ANT TRAPS



DIY ANT Kill traps
It seems every spring the ants start invading.  Some ants seek out protein, others sugar, and in arid areas they seek water.  All are a problem once they visit uninvited.  

No matter how well you clean and wipe up spills these pests find something to feast on.  Or so it seems.

If you are like me you hate spraying pesticides around your house.  You probably hate shelling out good money on expensive commercial versions.  


Many people call the tiny ants, sugar ants.  They are indeed attracted to sugars.  Other ants seek out protein.  The basic formula is geared for the sugar seekers.  Adding peanut butter will attract the protein indulger too.

In most cases these traps kill all ants in the first 3 days.  It may take a week to be totally effective.  Once they start coming and partaking of the cocktail, don’t disturb their scent trail.  Let them come and go.  Just put up with them for a few days.  Some will die in the trap itself.  Others will carry the bait back to the colony.  The best scenario is that bait is taken to the colony and wipes them out.  Not an expert on ants, I assume there are eggs that will hatch and create additional waves of invaders.  Just repeat the process as they appear.

Items and ingredients you will need.

Borax
Sugar
Hot Water
Peanut Butter (Optional)

Cotton Ball
4-5 plastic Bottle Caps (From discarded Soda or Water Bottles)
Mixing container and wire whisk or spoon

 

The active kill ingredient is Borax.  If you were born prior to 1960, your mother probably had this sitting on the laundry room shelf at one point of your life.  Used as a laundry detergent.   I remember it.  Many laundry soaps still contain it.  A good size box of this stuff (straight Borax) is about $6 now days.  Buy the smallest you can since it doesn’t take much.  Ironically Borax is the active ingredient in some commercially available ant traps.  Borax is also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate,  A salt of boric acid.



Be sure to keep Borax and your DIY ant traps out of reach of your children and pets.  They can be toxic if ingested.  

Your DIY traps are best placed right on ant trails in places such as windowsills or counter tops.  Once your DYI traps are placed, avoid letting your kids or pets getting into them…If need be place an inverted paper cup over your traps to keep your cats out of them.  Cut little “V”s around the lip of the cup, invert over the trap, and weight it down. 

The basic process is to mix the solution.  Make your traps.  Then bait the area of active ants.  3 to 7 days will normally kill all.  Don’t clean up their scent trail during the process. 

The mixing formula is below.  Use a glass measuring cup and whisk the basic ingredients together until the liquid is clear.  If you are making the protein formula, next add the peanut butter and whisk until mixed.  Discard any unused kill mix.  Wash all utensils in hot soapy water.

Use plastic soda bottle or water bottle caps as your trap container.  Pull a small piece off a cotton ball and place the cotton in the cap.  Soak the cotton and fill the container (cap) ¼ up from the bottom.  You can also make foil containers with 5-6 layers of foil formed over a cap, then trimmed with scissors to be ½- ¾ inch high.  The small batch formula will easily make 4-6 traps.  This is more than enough traps to start out.

Formula

Caps or Foil made containers

Trap in action


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

DIY: WiFi Networking your RV



ASUS EA-N66      3 in 1 Dual Band Wireless-N Router N900
Mobile WiFi Network (for RV Living)


While many of us go on the road to get a break away from technology,  some of us do have to work.  If you are fortunate enough to be able to go mobile with your business or job please check this out.  It is also very useful if you simply want to connect multiple devices often while mobile.  This setup provides the convenience of internet access, shared communication with multiple devices, and the advantage of being able to wirelessly print from your multiple devices.  Depending on your tech level this can be a rather simple setup.  I have successfully networked the following WiFi enable devices.  Printer, Laptop, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV,  Smart DVD Player, and a Smart TV.

Using the Router listed, and optioned to be used as a "repeater", I am able to set all my personal devices to my RV Network one time.  These settings can be left for auto connection.  (In this article the RV Network is referenced as SSID#2)  You are then able to reuse these settings over and over.  It is a real pain to have to reset multiple portable Wifi device Network SSIDs and passwords, every time you move locations.  Using the EA-N66 allows you to only make one change within the EA-N66 itself to sync up with a new public WiFi source (In the article the Public Wifi Network is referenced as SSID#1).  This configuration gives you network sharing capabilities you normally would not have if you simply connect each of your personal Wifi devices directly to a host public Wifi Source.

This does require an ASUS EA-N66, one Ethernet Cable, and a Laptop Computer.

                                                                                     --------------------------------------------------                                                                  

When you wish to access public Wifi and avoid reprogramming all your Wifi Devices with new SSIDs & Passwords
Allows you to have your devices networked within your RV and make one program change to SSID#1 when you move locations
Allows wireless printing and normal wireless network communication functions from multiple devices within the SSID#2 group.

To Set up Setup EA-N66:
Have active public or home (unlocked) Internet Wifi signal available. A Computer hard connected to ASUS EA-N66 RJ45 port.
Make sure any in range available WiFi connections are set to not auto connect on the computer settings
Unlock Network if lock enabled. Do this through your computer Network Management Software (i.e. Network Magic) (Normally at home only)
Plug the EA-N66 Power adapter into DC connector, and plug into AC Power outlet
Use an Ethernet cable to Hardwire Ethernet Port of a Computer to the Ethernet Port of EA-N66
Insure wireless LED is blinking on the EA-N66. Also tiny yellow indicator light on the EA-N66 near the Ethernet connection socket.
Use Internet Explorer browser (Don't use a Safari browser)
Type in www.asusrouter.com into browser
In the pop-up window that displays, type in the User Name and Password of the EA-N66 (admin admin is default/change as needed)
This should log you in to the EA-N66 device web GUI admin screen to allow you to make changes to the EA-N66

To program the Public Wifi Internet access on the Internet side (SSID#1) of the ASUS EA-N66:
“Quick Internet Setup”
Click “I wish to extend my existing wireless network”
Next
Wait for list of available public Wifi networks to popup
Select Wifi SSID of Network to the outside world (i.e. the SSID#1 name or SSID of the WiFi provided signal for the internet)
(Note:  SSID#1 can be your home network SSID, a “Hotspot provided SSID such as Starbucks, a personal WiFi Hotspot device, iPhone Hotspot)
Type in Security Key Code or password for SSID#1
Click CONNECT
Uncheck box that creates a default setting (unless you actually want the Wifi’s pointing both ways to have the same SSID
Enter the SSID and PASSWORD of the Extended Network **that of iPad, Printer, Apple TV, etc (i.e. Create SSID#2 & Password)
(All your Multiple Wifi devices should be preset using the SSID#2 info so they auto connect)
Click NEXT
Wait for EA-66N to establish the network
(Its normal to get a popup message during this process that network has disconnected from the Wifi network. Just wait until the process completes. Don’t try to reconnect to a Wifi network yourself. )
Click FINISH
Screen should appear showing signal strength
At this point the EA-66N should be connected to the Internet Wifi on SSID #1 and generating its own created SSID#2 for your personal devices
Unplug the hardwired Ethernet link between the EA-66N and the admin Computer
If the Computer is Wifi capable and you wish to access the internet, connect it now via Wifi to the new established SSID#2
It will show connected but “identifying” (at this stage the internet connection may not be established….give it a few minutes)
Recheck and it should say “Currently Connected to SSID#2 & “Internet Access”
Other personal Wifi devices can now connect via SSID#2
This whole hardwire computer to EA-N66 process, will need repeated each time the SSID#1 needs changed to establish a new Wifi connection to a Public WiFi Internet source, such as Starbucks, McDonalds, RV Park WiFi, or even your own home Wifi router that is
connected to the Internet via DSL, Cable, etc.  You shouldn’t have to keep changing any of your devices WiFi settings to auto connect to the EA-N66 SSID#2 that you have previously established.



I found with this configuration, using an HP 6525 Printer on SSID#2 the Printer would not detect from my iPhone or iPad to enable AirPrinting. Nor would the printer show up on the iPhone or iPad to "Direct Print" The printer did function fine Wifi to a Wifi laptop on SSID#2. After hours on the phone with HP Support it was found that the printer came with a default setting set to "Simultaneous IPv4 & IPv6. Per HP the iPhone and iPad communicate at IPv4. We made the setting change in the printer network settings and everything worked. Theoretically the "Simultaneous IPv4 & IPv6" setting should work, but they are finding it locks out the iPhone and iPad devices. Good to know if you are having this same issue.   Author:Rick Beach  goyakpacking@yahoo.com   ©2014 Rick Beach