Sunday, March 17, 2013

Drill press chuck key

Back in 93 I moved to Arizona from California.  Some where after that I realized I could not find my chuck key.  Not having time for much woodworking anymore It wasn't a huge priority.  I tried ordering a few that looked right from MSC but even the closest would just barely work.  Those who know me know that I like to keep things organized and keeping the wrenches that fit a tool next to that tool rather than in a toolbox somewhere is part of that organization.  I have been known to buy extra wrenches so each machine has it's own set.  The most logical place I thought I would have put the wrench for moving was the drawer with the drill bits in it like I did for the portable drills.  Recently I had need for the drill press and fought with almost correct one I had.  After that I pondered a bit about where an organized person might have put the chuck key for travel.  It finally dawned on me to open the belt housing at the top and sure enough it was there.  I was lucky it had not caught in the belts and it had stayed there as the cover had gotten damaged in the move and was open part of the trip.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Green Goddess dressing: my journey

While working for a division of the world's premier auto maker (General Motors) in the late 80s I attended a conference at one of the resorts in Santa Barbara. At lunch the salad dressing was really good and the server came back from the kitchen and said it was Green Goddess. I looked at the supermarket to no avail and pretty much forgot about it. Now we are in the age of computers and I recently ran across a reference to it. My first stop was Wikipedia which gave me a list of ingredients but no real recipe. Looking further I found a whole bunch of variations including the more modern ones which include avocado which I have not tried yet. Several tout being the original. One of the ingredients in only a few was chervil which led me to Penzeys Spices which I was lucky enough to have one two towns over to the East. So I started playing around using both dried and fresh herbs until I found the one I liked. After making a half dozen batches, 2 with fresh herbs, this is what I have decided is my base recipe:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1TB dried tarragon
1TB dried chervil
1TB dried chives
1/2ts black pepper
1/2ts kosher salt
1TB lemon juice
1TB minced garlic
3 anchovy filets

Mix in a blender and chill for at least a few hours for the flavors to blend. Note that this is thick so initially you will have to use pulse and let it drain back down and as you go on you can increase the blending time.

Now to the variations:
Parsley is an acceptable substitute for chervil and more widely available
Fresh herbs can be used instead of dried, use at about twice as much.
Fresh herbs really do enhance the flavors and make it greener in color.
I use a jarred version of minced garlic but fresh might be better.
Several recipes call for 2 to 1 ratio of mayonnaise to sour cream. I did not like it as well but some folks might.
I have not tried it yet but you can substitute an avocado for half or all of the sour cream.
You can increase or decrease the amount of any of the herbs to fit your taste.

As an aside: While at Penzeys getting the chervil I told them what I was making and they mentioned they sold an herb mix that is blended with mayonnaise, water and vinegar. It was an OK dressing on it's own, and much easier to make, but entirely different than the traditionally made dressing.

This dressing/dip was "the" thing until ranch dressing came out which is easier and less expensive to make. I like the Green Goddess much better.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Morning Glory (2010)

Most of the movies I have watched lately have not been that memorable.  Mostly sci-fi series.  I thought this one bore mention.  And yea, it's sort of a chick flick which means I don't have to think for 90 minutes or so.  The last time I watched a movie with Harrison Ford was Firewall (2006) and he was 64 playing a 30 something family man.  I thought he did a poor job of pulling it off.  This time he is playing a crabby old fart who has done and seen everything across from Diane Keaton who isn't any more lovable and they both pull it off well.  I enjoyed it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mustard potato salad

Yep, that is 5 quarts of potato salad in the 8 qt pot it was mixed in. I am not sure whether this recipe came from my mom's or dad's side of the family. I am guessing my dad's as they were more in to big family and church gatherings. As I remember it from about 5 decades ago the recipe goes something like this:

 a 10 lb bag of russet potatoes
 a dozen hard boiled eggs
 a quart jar of mayonnaise (Best foods, the only substitute I have found is the Albertson's store brand
 A small jar of dill pickles
 the juice from the pickles
 a head of celery
 a 3 lb bag of yellow onions
 a small jar of prepared mustard (this was before squirt bottles, 6-8oz I think)
Seasoned salt
Paprika to sprinkle over the top

As you can figure out this is enough potato salad to feed a small army and as an adult I have only made the full recipe a couple of times. I was conscripted labor on more than one occasion to help make this.:-) Here is the recipe as I made it for a potluck this last weekend:

5 lbs of potatoes
9 hard boiled eggs
3 medium yellow onions
4 big stalks of celery
6 dill pickle spears
24 oz of mayonnaise (Best Foods)
a few really healthy squirts of prepared mustard
1/4 cup of dill pickle juice
seasoned salt
Paprika for garnish

This is still a pretty good sized bowl of potato salad. Knowing the ingredients is only part of making the difference between a pretty good potato salad and a really great potato salad. First off I seldom measure anything unless I am baking so you have some room to experiment with your perfect mix. The potatoes should be about 1/2-5/8" cubes, the eggs should be about 3/8" cubed (just squished with your hands), the celery, onions and pickles should be 1/8-1/4" cubed. Yes, this is labor intensive.  The desired result is every bite should have the full complexity of the flavors. I tried for the first time in decades cooking the potatoes with the skins on, I did not like it then and it was still a mess now, not doing that again. Put the the potatoes in a pot of full boiling/lightly salted water and as soon as they are piercing tender take them to the sink and drop a bucket of ice on them and then run cold water over them before draining (if you have ever blanched vegetables for freezing this will make more sense). If you have time put the potatoes and peeled eggs in the fridge for an hour before combining them. Mix all the liquid ingredients and the seasoned salt in a bowl before folding them into the solid ingredients.  Refrigerate over night.

This is the 12 quart pot I grew up with making potato salad and a few other things. It will hold 10 pounds of potatoes and was also the only container in the house capable of holding 9-10 quarts of potato salad for serving. I am glad to now have it and it's lid back.

Dry Rubs

A friend asked me how I put together a dry rub.  For many years I used a dry rub from Susie Q in Santa Maria.  At one point a few years ago I was about out and wondered if I could just make the stuff.  So I looked at the label and figured it could not be too hard.  One thing I have figured out is there is really no right or wrong mixture of ingredients.  Just adjust to your taste.  In the picture are several ingredients that I only use from time to time to adjust the flavor.  Also is the bowl I use to mix it and the re-purposed jar I use to store it and apply it from.  What I am going to list is my standard base.  Remember that this is my choice of amounts and as I don't measure much of anything it is approximate.  Also you will note I am not using Penzey quality stuff and I doubt most of the store bought rubs do either.

4 parts ground garlic
4 parts salt
2 parts black pepper
This is where I stop when cooking salmon, trout, swordfish, etc

For other meats I will most often add
4 parts sugar
1 part paprika or chili powder (sometimes both)
1 part Italian spice or basil
This becomes my base mixture and all the other options you see are added usually in one part increments depending on my mood.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Flashbacks from the past

In the last month or so I have gotten involved with a Facebook page for my high school graduating class. I never really ran with the cool kids in school and do not recognize over half the 600+ kids in my class. It has been really fun connecting with some of my class, those I remember and those I don't. Many of the ones I have connected with have the means to go to meetups and such that I don't but some of the folks I went to school with are no longer alive and able to connect on any level so I consider myself lucky in many ways.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Modern car reliability

Recently I happened upon a report by JD Power that looked at 3 years of non maintenance repair frequency of single owner cars. It did not surprise me that Chrysler vehicles were at the bottom of the list. What I did find remarkable was even the worst brands averaged under 2 repairs during that time period. When I was younger I worked in service stations and auto dealers and most vehicles were back at the dealer more than 2 times in the first 90 days for non maintenance repairs. Combine the current repair numbers with the extended maintenance schedules and cars have really come a long way in the last 40 years that I have been driving.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Hot week

I don't often talk much about the weather here.  Especially in the summer as, except for a few wonderful thunderstorms, it's just plain hot for most folks.  Those of us who spend most of their day without A/C have a lot less trouble with the heat.  I have gone through several official 120°+ days, but most of those are in June, before the monsoon moisture settles in and the dew point pretty much stays over 55° rendering evaporative coolers almost useless.  Well this last week has brought temperatures that have come close to or set new records every day.  The culmination came on Friday when a new record was set, not only for the day, but for the entire month of August.  And although it has not felt as heavy as many points in the East the moisture has certainly been felt.  As I write this I acknowledge many of the folks on the East coast, especially around New York would trade my damp heat for Hurricane Irene in a second.  The official high temperature on Friday was 117°.  Here is a picture of the thermometer in my car taken about 5PM on Friday.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


In addition to being exposed to several new cuisines my Yelp friends have encouraged me to try several different types of beers.  Generally I have had lagers with my most consistent purchase being MGD.  I already knew I did not care for light beers.  Not surprisingly I found out Heineken and Corona were almost identical chemically.  Getting in to craft beers I had my first taste of Fat Tire about 4 years ago in Las Vegas and still enjoy it.  I find I really like wheat beers with some of my favorites being Widmer Hefeweizen, Shock Top and Mothership Wit.  Most of the time I prefer them without the added or blended fruit.  Generally I like pale ales and summer ales.  Having tried several I still have not developed a liking for IPAs or anything heavy and dark or sweet or heavy in hops.  Bud sucks!  Now that I have a larger selection of beers that I like I can usually find something on tap I like.  And Coors rates right with Bud.  I am on the fence about Pilsners having had some I like liked and some I thought were bitter.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A (cork)screw loose

I have 2 or more of just about every thing small in my kitchen; spoons, spatulas, whisks, knives, etc.. Never thought about the wine bottle opener. As you can see I was presented with a bit of a challenge recently. I managed to get the broken screw out with a pair of pliers and found a multi purpose knife with a corkscrew to open the bottle with. If you have never used a pocket knife corkscrew before I can assure you it is not a pleasant experience.

I now have two corkscrews. Surprisingly I have found I prefer the folding bartender model over the two handled one. Of course a Rabbit would be cool but it costs too much and takes up more space.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My gift to me

This Thanksgiving my part of the food provided was, from left to right, Tapenade, Sriracha Hummus and pinto bean hummus. I got rave reviews but I think it took more effort than was needed. And being a guy and a tool freak I saw this as a reason for a new toy, er tool.

This was my old food processor. 1-1/2 cup capacity, 70 watt motor. It was cute and didn't take up much space. However it would only process one cans worth of olives into Tapenade so a bowl such as I brought took two complete batches. It was also worthless at hummus which prompted me to get an immersion blender a while back which does a wonderful job.

This was my old blender which I picked up a few years back. Amongst the bargain priced blenders I picked this one because it said it would crush ice. It did, in the amount of one margarita's worth at a time. It also didn't do hummus well. It was about $35, 5 cup capacity, 400 watt.

This is the new Cuisinart I picked up at Sur La Table. At $100 it still isn't king of the hill but it will outdo either of the stand alone appliances I had. I decided to get the model exclusive to Sur La Table because of the 600 vs 500 watt motor and the metal vs the plastic base. Interesting how having a heavier duty appliance it only needs 3 speeds vs 12 of the lesser blenders. The food processor is 3 cups, the blender is 7 cups, it has a 600 watt motor. It also has the added capability of slicing and shredding. It is supposed to handle a full batch of ice. After not using it for over a year I relegated my coffee maker to a cabinet and this unit now takes it's place on the counter to make it easier to get to. So far I have made egg nog and shredded a potato.

Couple of items of note. I can already see myself wanting a full fledged 7 or 11 cup food processor. Does anybody want to give my old stuff a new home? :-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pink House

7009 N 58th Ave., Glendale, AZ

So what was I doing in a boutique? I was there for a Yelp CMYE (Community Manager Yelp Event). This was the first official Yelp event in the same zip code I have my business so I was not going to miss it. I had a good time chatting with some old and new friends. Bitz-ee Mamas a few doors down provided the appetizers we munched on. Definitely not a place I would normally shop in. Thanks to my friends I was able to appreciate it for what it is. They are celebrating their 5th anniversary and it has over time morphed in to a sort of co-op with several spaces showcasing local designer talent. Roughly half the store is stocked by the owner with the other half stocked by over a half dozen vendors. Most of what they have is clothing and accessories with a few collectibles. Listening to the comments of my friends the majority of the stuff is very reasonably priced and there was even some items in plus sizes. Several Yelpers made purchases during the evening. I also heard several comments during the event that many folks did not realize Glendale had a historic area filled with small shops and eateries with easy parking and they intended to come back and explore the area.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


1980, musical, Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, ELO

When this movie came out I was 27. Like lots of stuff that came out a decade or two or three ago I didn't see it. Viewing it now for the first time I think I would have enjoyed it less back then. The plot really isn't all that engaging but it was quite enjoyable to see the production of the musical numbers. Interesting too, the music spans several decades. I liked it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MGD 64

So this past weekend I made I made a trip to Total Wine which I do every 3 or 4 weeks and proceeded to fill my cart with the usual stuff. A box of Franzia Merlot (daily drinking stuff), a couple of bottles of wine(in this case a Nostrada Tempranllo and a ca'Rugate Monte Fiorentine generically recommended by a wine goddess), a couple of six packs of craft beers (in this case Mothership Wit and Fat Tire, both by New Belgium) and tried to pickup a couple of 30 packs of MGD. They were out of MGD in cans. My options were Heineken, original Michelob, and one other beer that is chemically the equivalent of the three but I cannot remember what it is. For daily drinking beer I prefer cans over bottles as I have a way to recycle cans but not bottles so cans leave a smaller footprint. I have always avoided trying the MGD64 as it is a light beer and I have yet to find a light beer I like. 2 years ago Chase Field changed their taps from MGD to MGD64 so I have been buying my beer from the Gordon Biersch counter (Hefeweizen the first year and either Pilsner or Marzen the second). So I finally relented and tried ONE case of the MGD64. I guess it wasn't really a let down as I wasn't expecting much. It is a light beer and really doesn't have much body or flavor. I tried it and will move on.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


aka Rooster Sauce

I was first introduced to this a few years back when my neighbor was moving out of the country and a half bottle was in the box of stuff she couldn't take with her when she left. One taste told me it was hot. Specifically it is an Asian red pepper sauce. I used it sparingly for quite some time, mostly as the heat component in pork and chicken stir frys.

I grew up in an environment where a dash of black pepper or a sprinkle of store brand chili powder made a dish instantly hot. As an adult I have been exposed to many hot items. I have learned to pick out the brown peppers in Asian dishes and avoid many other peppers such as Jalapenos, Habeneros, Tabasco branded hot sauces and similar stuff. I just do not handle spicy heat well but there are some that have some flavor. Sriracha is one of those, that used in moderation, I have learned to like. It is one of the items on the table at many Asian, mainly Vietnamese, restaurants that can be used to customize the flavor of many dishes.

Used in moderation it can be used to enhance the flavor of many dishes including Pho. To be sure I have over done it on a few occasions resulting in tears and a runny nose, not good in public. But I have also successfully used it in many occasions. In addition to stir frys I have mixed it with mayonnaise as a sandwich spread and for dipping artichoke leaves in. Most recently I have added it to a basic hummus. I think my next attempt to use it will be to replace the cayenne component in a basic Provencal Tapenade.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Simple chicken stew

Over the years I have made several versions of this and many have been much more complicated including frying regular chicken parts with bones and all and fresh vegetables and serving over rice. This is a much simplified version that only takes about an hour or so of cooking time and utilizes readily available stuff from the market that was not available a few decades ago.

The list of ingredients I used this time are:

1 package (5) boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 quart chicken or poultry stock
2 onions, diced
1 package frozen mixed vegetables
1 can diced tomatoes
1 package Fideo pasta (optional)
ground garlic

Here is the chicken coated with salt, pepper and garlic.

Here are the two onions coarse diced

I cook the chicken on high for 10 minutes in the microwave.

This is the cooked chicken.

While the chicken is cooking I put the rest of the ingredients except the pasta in a pot with more salt, pepper and ground garlic to taste. At this point if you are going to add pasta and still want it fairly liquidy you might want to add a cup of water. Most times I choose not to but I have done it both ways.

After the chicken has cooled enough to handle dice it up and add it to the pot. Allow to simmer for at least a half hour for the flavors to blend.

Add the pasta if you choose and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.

This is the bowl I had that night along with a sandwich. You can also serve it with cheese toast or corn bread.

And here is the 5 lunches left over.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Ok, so I am a little vain and would like to think the whole world might be listening in to my blog. I know better. I currently am using both Sitemeter and Google stats. Sitemeter shows a lot more detail like where the viewer is from, what brought them there and a few other things. However it does not pick up views by readers unless they click through to the original post. It does however pick up folks just hitting the "next blog" button which I myself have used several times to find new blogs to follow. Many have been the times I wondered if anybody was reading my posts. Recently Google stats have come on line and it picks up many more hits, including those through Google reader. But it does not give much detail as to the identity and location of the person reading my posts.

I am pretty sure neither of these counters, either separately or together, give me a true reading of who and why is reading my blog but at least I know some one is. Most of the time when I can see the detail I can pretty much guess by location who it is. Probably the most intriguing is a regular reader in New York. The only person I have known there is a lady I went to school with, J, that I never got to date but I was welcome by her mom to stop by for baked goods any time I wanted. Last I heard, from her mom, she was in New York (many years ago) doing some kind of teaching for under privileged kids. Note this is my blog and I can dream all I want. :-)

I know a lot of folks give up on their blogs after they become active on Facebook but to me they are two separate means of expression, one for the the immediate and one for the permanent, and as long as still I enjoy writing it and folks still read it I intend to keep up both.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mesquite smoked Tri-Tip

Well almost. I picked up an electric smoker figuring I could put meat in at work for the afternoon and have it ready when I went home. Transportation is not a problem as when slow cooking beef it is a good idea to take it off about 10° early, wrap it in foil and then towels and place it in a cooler for an hour or so to finish it off.

First the things that went poorly. I have done tri-tips in the oven at 200° and they have taken 4-5 hours. This one was done in 72 minutes. Good thing I had a temperature probe with an alarm in it or I would have totally ruined it. When smoking with wood chips you should have the meat exposed to smoke for the first three hours, haven't figured out how to squeeze that into 72 minutes. Because the meat temp ramped up so quickly a lot of the fat/juices cooked out of it. Where I grew up tri-tips were cooked over oak for several hours and I may never have the set up to replicate that, not to mention I can no longer find tri-tip with the layer of fat that should be present. I can seal the juices in by searing it (which I cannot do at work) but then it would also seal out the smoke. I had planned on working all afternoon while the meat cooked but the short cooking time sort of messed that up.

The not so bad part. The meat came out a perfect medium. It actually sat in the cooler for 3 hours and was still at a servable warmth although I think it would have been better to slice and serve it after 2 hours. Though not as juicy and tender as I would have liked it was perfectly edible and I had 3 meals and 5 sandwiches out of it. I still have 6 more tri-tips in the freezer to play with. I had the smoker set at 210° and will try it at 190° after testing it and finding out it runs 10° hotter that it indicates.

This cryovac yielded 7 tri-tips and I trimmed enough off the ends to make a big batch of stroganof.

This is the smoker. A Masterbuilt 30.

And this is the pile of meat. :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Did I lose anybody?

After having having the local phone company since I opened my business and having them as my ISP since I got online about 12 years ago I have switched to Cox cable for business. This is a big switch for me, I am old enough to remember the phone company owning everything including the phone and there were no options. My record for utilizing new technology is mixed. Of 5 living siblings I am the oldest and I was the first to have a home computer and the last to get on the internet.

Changing ISPs was something I fought for a long time. Once I got on the internet I became active in several wood working forums and gained several customers and the online link was my email address which was tied to my ISP which began as It later changed to and eventually to Things went fine until they stopped forwarding the previous versions about a year ago. During the years I was visited by several sales folks that could give me a small cost savings at the expense of losing my email address. After Qwest did that to me anyway I started exploring how to solve the problem for the long term. Over a year ago I got a domain for my business and started posting that. When I first got online a domain was fairly expensive at around $50 month but over the years it has kept coming down and when I finally got a domain through Godaddy it cost me $150, including registration, for 3 full years. Last month Cox came in and stated they were installing cable in my complex and gave me a quote about $50 less than I was paying and the billing is a lot simpler than the 8 pages I have been getting from Qwest. In the interim month until they got it installed I have tried to get everything important changed over to either my personal (shrpscott(at)gmail dot com or business stuff at scott(at)scottssharpening dot com. I hope I haven't lost anybody.

That brings up another point. Back in the day when you moved you filed a change of address with the post office and filled out the change of address section on all of your bills and at Christmas you made a point of getting your cards out early so your friends and relatives had your new address. Now with so many things tied to the internet trying to make sure all the stuff you do on line is updated is a real chore. And there is no forwarding address thingy for the internet. Again I hope I haven't lost anybody but I know I will have. :-(

I think the next step will be to jettison the white and yellow page listings which for years have only gotten me calls for work which doesn't fit the B2B makeup of my business.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Long time, no post

Geez, I went through a whole month with no posts.:-( Problem being I just couldn't seem to find time at work to post. And when I have been done working the last thing I wanted to do was sit at the computer some more. I have also been guilty of spending too much time on Yelp and Facebook when I should have been working. The solution I have come up with is to stop fighting having a computer at home. It has been almost 20 years since I have had access to a home computer that wasn't prioritized to my son or ex wife.

The computer I have is a cheap ($350) laptop that came with a 3 in 1 printer thanks to a Labor Day sale at Best Buy. Every time I have upgraded my computer(s) I am amazed at what the next generation has to offer. To put this in prospective the first computer I bought was a used Tandy model I for $500 around 30 years ago. In 1980 dollars my new computer would have cost about $150. About that same time a friend of mine (who reads this blog) spent thousand of dollars on a Tandy model 2 with 8" floppy discs that didn't have 2% of the computing power I now have.

Another benchmark is the printer Best Buy tossed in to the deal. My first printer (attached to a Tandy model III bought used for $800) was a wide carriage pin feed I bought for $1200 because I wanted the then new 24 pin dot matrix head. My new printer was listed @ $40 and needs ink cartridges that cost $32 a set but it doesn't need a ribbon and I don't have to embed printer controls in my document. This was back before the thought of the internet and updated drivers so when I made the move to an Apple IIe ($2000+) I had to buy another printer which was a standard width 24 pin dot matrix for around $900, this was still a pin feed.

So enough of me proving I am old. :-) If things go as planned I should be able to go back to making entries several times a month.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Downtown Phoenix Journal

Downtown Phoenix Journal (DPJ) is published by Urban Affair.

"Urban Affair (UA) is a modern media network developed to promote Phoenix’s urban lifestyle by elevating urban ideas and related activities. This focus assists the development our urban core, benefiting the people, organizations, and businesses in the community, while making the lifestyle more accessible to Valley residents. UA generates ongoing interest in downtown with assets that include, RadiatePHX (monthly networking group), Coe House (historic art gallery office suite), and Urban Affair events. UA was founded in 2006."

One of the items that shows up weekly is a Yelp review of a downtown business. Not sure who selects it and whether or not the business has any say in it. What I do know is I was selected to be DPJ Yelper of the week for my review of the Meat Shop. I thought that was sorta neat. :-)