Cooking Post: Sous Vide and Air Fryers

Vacuum sealed potatoes
Vacuum sealed potatoes ready for sous vide.
About 8 months ago or so, I got a sous vide device for about $50. A very basic Curtis Stone (infomercial guy apparently) model that is large but works reasonably well. I got an 8 liter clear Cambro for my bath and a cheap vacuum sealer.

And it worked really well. I've made all kinds of awesome food in it including pork chops, steaks, potatoes and poached apples and pears. My current favorite is to peel and cut up a few potatoes, seal them up with spices and a little butter, sous vide them for an hour or two and then now the new thing is to throw them into the air fryer to speed crisp them.

They aren't quite the best potatoes I've ever had or made but they are damned close and waaaaaay easier.

Along the way there have been some attempted upgrades and then some real upgrades and I've got at least one more planned. I got a "better" vacuum sealer off Ebay and it has a ton more features and does work well in almost every way with the fatal exception of a dead spot on the sealer, no matter how much air got sucked out, it would never stay sealed. And that also meant water infiltration.

Eventually I got a really good vacuum sealer that I kind of love, its a Nesco VS-12 and part of why I love it is because its big and powerful and has a locking handle instead of clips and a built in place to hold bags to cut to size and seal. And it can be used on dry and moist things, not quite wet but moist. 

A couple of weeks ago, my kid and I were at Target and happened to remember to check out the appliances aisle and came across a larger air fryer on a good deal and got it. And have been having a delicious time making fries, hash browns, fish sticks, chicken nuggets/tenders and roasted potatoes in it! I wish it weren't quite so big and that it had some with a second rack to double cooking space but this thing has been freaking awesome!

Going straight from sous vide into the air fryer is resulting in outstanding potatoes! And they are as easy as it gets. My previous easy method was to wash and then slice the potatoes with a mandoline but sliced potatoes are space hogs, cubed and partially cubed are much better uses of cooking space.


Local Surfer Dies After Shark Attack Saturday Near Santa Cruz

Cowells Beach and Cove.
Local Surfer Dies After Shark Attack

"A surfer was killed in a shark attack on Saturday at Manresa State Beach in Santa Cruz County.

The 26-year-old man was attacked around 1:30 p.m. by an unknown shark species about a mile south of the main parking lot, California State Parks said in a statement.

The surfer was pronounced dead at the scene and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office has notified his family.

According to the sheriff’s office, the attack occurred within 100 yards of shore near Sand Dollar Beach...."

We were boogie boarding on Saturday around the same time just a few miles away. Oddly enough, a fish or something swam into me while I was in a little over waist deep water and startled me.

While a shark bite death is sobering for anyone that spends any significant time in the water, the facts remain that you're far more likely get hurt by another human or your own self.

This other article identifies him as Ben Kelly.

Pretty sad but I will also say that I still went out and surfed yesterday. Maybe a little extra vigilant and also a little extra thankful to be a standup paddleboarder which gives me a better view into the water and changes my silhouette from under the water. Conventional wisdom is that surfers can look a bit like wounded seals from below with flailing arms and legs hanging off a board. That said, there was a shark attack off where I do regularly surf a couple of years ago where the shark bit into a kayak, hard enough to knock the guy out of it. That shark took one bite and did not try again.

As tragic as a death from shark attack is, they are rare but part of the contract one signs knowingly or not when one chooses to go out into or onto the ocean. Same for going into the woods or other wild area.

RIP Ben Kelly.


Making Actual Use of 3d Printers

PETG 3d printed face shield frameAmong the many knocks against 3d printers and 3d printing has been that they are largely not especially useful. At least not at the hobbyist level. It is as arguable that decoration, customization and personalization is extremely useful.

But, in the wake of the corona virus and the exposure of a poorly situated emergency response, many 3d printers are being used to try and help out.

I've been printing face shield frames, trialing a couple of different models until deciding on one that has the most upside and least downside. Want to see it? Its an Aegis remix that incorporates a slick locking mechanism on the front. Add a transparent sheet of plastic and a rubber band and this face shield is very ready to go.

This evening's print is a first attempt at making a mask, a mask with a place to hold a filter to help protect against viral inhalation. With some foam tape and suitable filtration material (I've heard some folks are cutting up hepa filter vacuum bags), I'll have made a very usable 2nd level PPE. The fact that it'll look cool is partly why 3d printers are cool.

Being able to embellish the hell out of stuff for fun is part of why 3d printing is fun.


Game on, Covid 19, Game On

It was definitely not unexpected but the Corona Virus has officially landed on the central coast of California and the current push is to flatten the infection curve by closing schools and more or less encouraging people to shelter in place.

Because of my work in the school system and with children, I was well aware that there would be something big happening here. It felt like things developed from minute to minute for a long time until a plan appears to have been developed.

As of late Sunday morning, I will not be going in to work until after spring break which ends three weeks from now. My co-workers are considered essential and will be working until everything is completely shut down and we have to retreat to our burrows until spring.

In other news, my main Twitter account was somewhat randomly but not altogether unexpectedly suspended. I have submitted an appeal but am putting in lots of effort in building up my back up account into something viable as I do not expect much from the appeal if I'm being honest (which I am and I always wonder when other people say that if it means they're usually not being honest?).

Anyway, the virus is making people a little crazy. Well, maybe a little is an understatement. Stores are getting cleaned out faster than they can get restocked. People are calling around looking for where the next truckload of toilet paper is going to be delivered. Hand sanitizer is now more valuable than gold, almost.

But that does not mean you should try to be this asshole attempting to make a big profit off the pandemic (NYTimes link, much dinkery on that side, sorry). But look at his sad face and all his sanitizer. Not really feeling much sympathy for him.

I am as bummed about the loss of ability to teach and do 3d printing with students at my school as anything else. I mean, I'm not complaining about having several weeks off of work. Especially if the weather cooperates and we get some nice spring swell and good sun. I've been teaching and mostly introducing 3d printing to a bunch of 6th graders. Some have been content to grab and print files that others have designed and some are getting into their own designs.

We've been using Tinkercad to do our designs in because it is pretty easy to use and let me set up a bunch of classes to manage projects a little better. I am learning on the go here as well so it has been fun. I've begun making my own designs. By far my most ambitious is this 3 room stacked mini house built into a riser to stack Ikea Lack tables with (used for making 3d printer enclosures).

This is my latest surfing video with swanky edits and b-roll. And this is about it for this blog update, it is a crazy time right now and will probably get crazier before it gets saner. Oh and it looks like the Dems are going to nominate increasingly demented Joe Biden to run against Trump, I'm sure that'll go well.


The Far Side of the Half Century Mark

Seabright to Main Beach Pano off the Point.

I just had a big birthday and it was one of those momentous ones with big numbers. I'm no longer in my 40's and am, officially, an older man.

So I thought it would be a good idea to try and capture some of my thoughts on turning 50.

First off, I strongly feel like people shouldn't EVER have to use a sick day to not work on their birthday and it should be a paid holiday for everyone. If it occurs on a weekend then an extra day of pay. I think it is silly that I have to pretend to be sick but what the fuck ever because I can't focus on work.

First off, the goodies.
I wasn't overly indulgent for my birthday but I have upgraded and replaced a few things that needed to get replaced. My first 3d printer, a Monoprice Select Mini, has now been replaced with a Creality Ender 3 that I got a great deal on and have had to rebuild and fix up. As of yesterday (now a couple of weeks ago), it is now running well and printing very well! It isn't quite perfect yet but the quality of prints I'm now pulling off it are light years ahead of where they were last week.

Second was to use some savings and finally bite the bullet and buy a Nintendo Switch. My kids have been dying for one for ages and I got a good deal on a bundle with a second set of controllers AND it came with Super Smash Brothers AND, extra bonus, a 128 gig micro sd card that the seller wasn't aware of (a pawn shop selling stock on Ebay).

The third was an impulse purchase as the price had dropped sharply from $60+ to under $40 and is a larger instant tent that'll sleep the three of us pretty comfortably. I'm also in the process of converting the beach tent into a pop up shelter with an adjustable shade area.

I took the day off, slept in, puttered around, got the mail when it was delivered and put in some work on the printer to get the new bed leveled and try it out. The short of it is I have no idea why Creality ships with the bed they do, they'd have MUCH happier customers if they shipped with a rigid plate or glass. The frustration of trying to get the printer working on that shit bed was dumb. I did have to work through a good number of issues with the printer and haven't gotten them all sorted out just yet but most of them are done and the printer is currently engaged in a 6 - 7 hour print job at home while I am at work right now!

I am planning on getting some carbon fiber reinforced PLA or filament for this printer and seeing about printing out some custom fins for my surfboard. I've also got an idea for a tow behind camera rig to get some underwater video footage.

The school year is well under way now. I have a freshman in high school now and I'm still wrapping my head around it. I'm also still wrapping my head around 5 years of dealing with the nightmare that is Aptos High School's access by road. Anyone who's been there knows exactyly what I'm talking about, it is one of the most ridiculously shittily designed schools ever. One road in and out and around 1500 students AND on a major commute route means there are, literally, hundreds of idling cars stuck waiting to drop off kids every single morning. It is an environment disaster happening every single morning and it makes me really annoyed.