Category Archives: Things I made

Puerco Pibil, so good

Better photo later.  This was a quick iphone shot.This weekend I got a hankering to make one of my favorite dishes, Puerco Pibil.  It’s a delicious slow roasted pork dish from the Yucatan Peninsula.  It features tangy flavors, and moderate heat from the habenero pepper.  My recipe is pretty much the one that Robert Rodriguez outlines in his entertaining 10 Minute Cooking School video.  This weekend, I made a big batch, about 15 lbs of it.  It did this because the meat vendor I use, Cash’n’Carry, sells the pork butt in ~15 lb bags.  $1.48/lb was a sweet deal.

I get all my spices from World Spice, located behind the Pike Place Market.  They’re inexpensive and delicious, and can be shipped.

My recipe, as made this weekend:

  • 15 lbs pork butt, cubed into ~2″ cubes (roughly, precision not important)
  • Banana leaves (asian grocery! cheap!)
  • 1/4 cup minced, de-veined, de-seeded habenero peppers (~16 habeneros)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 cups lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1.5 cups white vinegar
  • 3/8 cups delicious reposado tequila
  • 8 oz annatto seeds, ground finely (measured as whole annatto)
  • 1 oz cumin
  • 1.5 oz black peppercorns
  • 24 allspice berries
  • 1.5 tsp cloves

Set aside the banana leaves and cubed pork.

Take the rest of the ingredients.  Grind all the spices into dust, and combine with the garlic, habenero, juices, and vinegar.  This is your annatto paste, and is what the pork will marinate in.  In a large bowl, combine the pork with the annatto paste, mixing thoroughly.   I have a large (6 qt) food bucket that I use for marinating the pork.  Put the pork into a large container with a lid.  Put this into the refrigerator for at least four hours.  I try to marinate it overnight.

On cooking day, pre-heat the oven to 325F.  Line a large pan with banana leaves, leaving enough overhanging banana leaf to allow you to fold it over.  Fill the cavity with pork mix, making sure to put all the delicious marinade into the pan.  Fold the banana leaves over this, and cover with more banana leaves, tightly packing it.  Then cover with aluminum foil.  Or not, but I do viagra over the counter india.

Bake at 325F for four hours.  You will know it’s nearly done when your house smells delicious.

Enjoy on rice, or soft corn tortillas, or as tamale fill.  There are tons of ways to enjoy this versatile dish.

Building the Air Kraken Trike

Line art concept sketch (by Molly Friedrich)*** More pictures are here ***

Last year, around this time, I started building the Air Kraken Trike.  It’s a project I was inspired to create from the scenes of great big things like it at Burning Man.  This article is an overview of my process, challenges, costs, and thoughts.   I’ll describe how I came to the design, and various elements of building it.  I’ll provide a broad-strokes cost overview of what it took to make it, to take it to the Burn, and to store it.


So what’s an Air Kraken?   The Air Kraken is a fun idea from the steampunk community that has to do with an event in march, called Air Kraken Day, where folks take refuge in bars, and carry umbrellas to keep the sky kraken from descending to feast on folks.  It’s pretty hilarious, and I liked the name, so I went with it.    What else is an Air Kraken?  It’s also a ten foot long, six foot wide metal tricycle made out of new and used materials that has been to several events.

It’s made of steel, of drainage culvert, of bus parts, of old bicycles.  I’ve put more than a little blood, sweat, and tears into the construction and application of it.  It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve learned a lot. There have been frustrations and mis-steps.  But it’s been overall pretty awesome about it.

It has been a very time intensive project.  I put in a lot of nights and weekends into it.  For about four months, it was effectively my second job.  I’d get home from work around 6ish, eat food, and go out to the shop to work on it.  I’d throw 8-10 hours a day on the weekends into it.  I probably put 600-700 hours into it.  Definitely a lot more than that with the time I wasn’t actively working on it, and “merely” thinking about it.

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Aether Sight (Part 1 – Goggle Inset Build)

So it’s coming up on Halloween. One of my favorite holidays, and that of many other people, too. This year, I’m helping out my wife with her costume by making her some goggles that employ SMD LEDs to create a number of neat effects. To do this, I had to make some boards to fit inside the goggles, etch them, and solder up them. The embedded flickr set shows the process I engaged in in making these.

Each of the eyes of the goggles will have seven lights in it, and will support a variety of light patterns (to be determined), executed with an Arduino and two shift registers, one for each eye.

More design notes, and build updates to follow.  Enjoy the show.

Of the Crafting of Brown Barbazu Ale

The color of the finished wort
The color of the finished wort

I use the name Studious Dwarf as my brewing name. And I do this because I feel like it does a fine job of capturing my thoughts and persona as it relates to brewing:  A brewer should be attentive to details, clean, organized, and precise.  I feel that this is well reflected in the modern mythology of dwarves.  So I use the name.  Today I made my 2nd ever batch of beer, which I am entitling Brown Barbazu Ale.  Barbazu is the name of a D&D monster, a bearded devil.  This is fun. :D  My previous beer (which came out really well) was called Red Kobold Hunting Ale, and is a red, light ale.  This current batch will be more bitter, with hoppy bites to it.

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More Casting

pentic of castingSo today I decided to do another pendant.  And it went well.  I’m happy with my progress, like I’m gaining skill (like I want.)

Metal flows through the mold
Flowing swiftly ’til it turns cold
Shapes cast from a fleeting master
I see you freed in your sprue tree
Polished to a shine
Cast metal, frozen solid.

I’m thinking that I’m going to try sandcasting as an approach for doing lots of these.  I takes a lot of time to prepare these as one-offs of wax, to sprue them, invest them, burn them out, and pour them.  2-3 hours each.  I think by sand-casting, I can get that down to 30 minutes for batches of ten.  That’d be awesome.

Hopefully in a couple weeks, I’ll have the materials on hand to do that.  See you soon …

Of Bronze and Metal, Casting and Community

I’ve been messing around a little with casting metal for a while.  When I was a kid, I would make molds out of cuttlefish bones, and cast lead into them.  I did this in my room, often without the knowledge of my mother.  I only caught the rug in my room on fire a few times, and never seriously.  I’d taken to keeping a cup of water handy for putting out the rug.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to BurningMan this year, and had a good time, and an experience filled time.   I was gifted an aluminum necklace, round, with a man in the middle, arms held high in the stereotypical burner way.   I really appreciated that necklace, and treasure it.

And so I decided that I’d enjoy making pendants of my own to gift to people who really showed themselves to be special folks, or for those doing a really great thing.   I also decided that I could make these myself, as is my wont.   So I made a first one, a little man, arms held high.

I like to do things myself.  Things that are interesting to me, or are difficult.  It’s pleasant for me to take such a project and make it real.  I love being able to say (and I think of Gir from Invader Zim here), “I made it myself!”

Hand-held Shoot-through Flash Gun

So, I went to Norwescon, and I ended up attaching an umbrella to a Vivatar 285HV with rubber-bands, and holding it to get off-camera light that cast nice, soft light for portraits on the go. I was walking around the place with the umbrella and camera, and asking many beautiful people if I could take their pictures. Everyone I asked said yes. (This is a lead-in to a rant about the other asshole photographers there that were being rude pains in the ass, and giving the rest of us a negative reputation.)

But then I thought about the project more, and I realized that with a little bit of work, I could modify my 285hv to hold the umbrella in a sturdy manner, and without as much strain on my grip by adding a handle. So I did this. I took some pieces of wood that I had as scrap from an old project, and attached them together. I drilled a hole for the umbrella’s support shaft, and I epoxied the handle assembly onto the side of the 285HV.

Doing all this took several days. Currently, it’s unpainted. I intend to change that. I’m going to paint it black to match the rest of it, and probably coat the handle with clear enamel paint after that. But for now, it’s functional, and that’s great.

For an example of what this ends up producing, go take a look at my Norwescon 2008 set on flickr, or take a look at the other image here.

Making tools for photography: Ring Light

DIY Ring LightSo, because I’m a fan of doing things myself, and building stuff, I took inspiration from Strobist’s article on making lighting tools from what one can find at the big box hardware stores.   I fashioned a ring light from a light fixture, and I think it turned out pretty well.  The light itself is somewhat ugly, but appears to do its job.

The light was  made by buying a overhead lighting fixture, sold by Portfolio.  I suspect they’re rebranded.  But in any case, it has two circuline bulbs, both 4100 Kelvins, for a total of 54 watts of light.  That works out to about 1/60th second exposure at about f/3.2.  The ballast was located at the center of the light, which for a light would be awesome.  But for a shoot-through ring light, not so awesome.

So I removed the ballast from the light (the bulbs, too), and cut a hole in the middle with my jigsaw.   I then filed the edges of the hole to be smooth.  then, I relocated the ballast to the side, and attached it with bolts.  I wired up the fixture to a lamp cord, and wired a switch in.  12 foot cords are a good length.  I made an L-shaped bar that I bolted to the back of the fixture, and tapped a 1/4-20 threaded hole into so I could mount it on a light stand.  Then I tested it a little at home.  It did well.Laurie

Last weekend, my good friend Marty had his birthday party.  I love his parties.  They’re great fun, and a great time for taking pictures.  This afforded me a great opportunity to test it “for real”, which I did.

To recap:

  • One overhead flourescent lighting fixture from Lowes – $33
  • One 12 foot lamp cord – $5
  • One lamp switch – $5
  • Some electrical tape – $1, maybe
  • A 1/4-20 tap and die, already had this
  • Some steel that I bent into an L-shape, already had

So, for $44, I made a ring light that allows me to take pictures that I think work out pretty well.

Judge for yourself.

Project Shopping Cart (American Dream)

Shopping CartSo, a friend and I were talking about what we might do as an art project at Burning Man or Critical Massive. And we thought about the theme this year. The American Dream. And then we talked some about what that means to us today. Shopping. Today Americans are in large part defined by what they buy, and their buying habits.

So we thought, “Hell, let’s build a giant motorized shopping cart the people ride around in.” And we knew this was a Great Idea. I’ve been drawing plans and sketches of what we’ll get with this. I think that we’re too addicted to shopping. Too addicted to More Stuff We have to have things.

So, in light of that, we’re going to build a shopping cart. Not an ordinary one, but a grand one. One that stands five feet across, nine feet long, and 7 feet tall. Out of steel. Oh, and it will be motorized. It will be steered by a large wheel mounted in the front of the basket. Drawings will be forthcoming.

Consider this the project announcement page. There will be more to come. And why not donate to our project?

Soda Can Stove

Last night, I made a soda can stove. Melissa has been reading about various people’s methods of cooking for the Pacific Crest Trail. We talked about the soda can stove, and I decided to make one. It’s pretty easily done, as long as one is careful to follow the building guide, and maintain strict tolerances during construction. That is, measure twice, cut once. ;) It took about 45 minutes to make, from start to successful flaming operation.

So after building it, I of course had to test it out buy kamagra oral jelly online uk! We ended up cooking dinner with it. It will boil a cup of water in about 4 minutes. Faster than the “real” stove in the house . Wow. It took about 1 oz of fuel to boil ~7 cups of water for our ramen and udon noodle dinner.
I considered rewriting the build instructions here, but rather than do that, I’ll direct you to the instructions I used. They’re on this website.