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Dan Boone

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since Jan 24, 2014
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Dan Boone gardens, plants fruit trees, and tends wild fruit and nut trees and vines in Central Oklahoma.
Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Recent posts by Dan Boone

My go-to for all kinds of dental pain and mouth injury is yarrow tincture.  Similar sensations to clove oil but less "burny" and (for me at least) more effective -- plus it's antibiotic and promotes healing of things that can heal.  I have a mouthful of tooth stubble and no budget for massive amounts of oral surgery, so I've tried a lot of things over the years.

Yarrow root tincture / mouthwash for dental antibiotic & pain relief: how to make it, with pictures
1 day ago
I appreciate both those tips.

I also saw a suggestion elsewhere to extract minty goodness by chopping the mint and macerating it with dry sugar, letting it sit for awhile to absorb the oils from the mint.  It seems to me that doing that with one batch of mint and then using the minty sugar in making the syrup with another batch of mint could help.
1 week ago
Hmm, I do not know!  Small-scale experiments may be called for.
1 week ago
And, indeed, I ended up with slightly less than two quarts of rich green thick somewhat minty syrup.  I'm now wondering about making a batch of mint extract (alcohol based) and "enhancing" it.  Home alchemy for the bored...
1 week ago
William, yes!  I've had great luck using the method to make citrus syrups with citrus too old to be great for eating.  

As for this experiment, right now it looks like an educational failure.  I ended up with  thin syrup that had a nice mint flavor but not as strong as I was hoping.  Not useful enough to store in that quantity.  Perhaps more mint, less water next time.  Or another method to extract/concentrate the flavor.  

Meanwhile for this batch I am boiling it down to about half its volume.  If that goes as expected, I'll lose some flavor in the process, but I'll end up with a quart and a half of heavy/strong simple syrup that's green and at least vaguely minty, which I can use by the tablespoon in cocktails and to sweeten teas. At least the sugar I used won't go to waste.  
1 week ago
This experiment is in progress; I will report back about the results.

Problem: I have three beds of mint and the first of them is in flower.  All of them were getting tall and leggy and badly needed cutting.

Other problem: I love mint tea, but I have a hard time making it as strong as I like it.  

After a little bit of looking around the internet, I saw several approaches to making herbal tea concentrates or flavored simple syrup.  I decided to try an electric pressure cooker experiment.  

I took my 8-quart Instant Pot vessel straight out to the garden and started cutting mint straight into the pot.  What, I'm gonna wash my herbs? Hell no, it rained today, the leaves are clean and "better than organic", they're not unduly buggy, and they're all gonna get zapped with hot steam and then strained out.  It will be fine.  

I packed mint in the pot (not jumping up and down on it, but pressing it in firmly) until the pot was half full.  Once I stopped pressing down, the mass of mint rebounded most of the way to the 2/3-full "max fill" line.  You can just see the half-full mark if you squint:

Since the goal is a "weak simple syrup" flavored as strongly as possible with mint as possible, I added 2 quarts of water and 8 cups of sugar.  That's a 1:1 water/sugar ratio by volume, making this a "weak" simple syrup that's the standard in the USA. (I'm too lazy to weigh my sugar to make the ration 1:1 by weight as it should be; I also don't need that much precision.)  "Strong" or "rich" simple syrup is the bartending standard overseas, and has a 1:2 water/sugar ratio.  But I am not doing this for sweetness; the sugar is primarily to stabilize the mint syrup for storage, so I don't need it super-sweet.  This way I can use more syrup (get more mint flavor) before my beverages get too sweet.

Simple syrup reference chart here is from The Complete Guide To Simple Syrups:

I threw in one Lipton "Orange Pekoe" black tea bag (individual serving size, not the bigger "family sized" or "iced tea" bags) to provide a little bit of tannin, color, and body.

Based on various recipes and suggestions I found around the internet, I settled on pressure cooking it on the high-pressure setting for three minutes, followed by "natural release" (letting the pot come down to zero pressure over time without releasing any steam/volatiles) and then an overnight cooling/steeping process.  That's underway now.

My plan is to strain the cool syrup off the spent vegetative matter and store it in quart jars or bottles.  The internet always recommends keeping this sort of thing in the fridge for no more than a couple of weeks.  You may can syrup if you want to keep it for longer than that.  

I will report back tomorrow on how it worked and what adjustments I might make for next time.
1 week ago

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:That said, it's been an amusing flashback to use these work lights with their original incandescent bulbs. Instead of sticking out the way LEDs do, the colour temperature nicely matches fire, candles, and kerosene lanterns. Aesthetically pleasing but less practical.

I have a hand-held spotlight in the Black & Decker 18v tool line that has the old halogen bulbs.  Bright as hell but also a unique light spectrum.
1 week ago

Eric Hanson wrote:Hey, Dan, I forgot to mention something in my earlier post.

I am a huge fan of repacking batteries...

I have watched some videos on that with great interest, and I might try it some day.  I have at least a dozen old Black & Decker 18v "dead" batteries to refurb if I ever dive into that project.

My problems are (1) I have never actually picked up the skill of soldering, so I'd have to pick that up as part of the project; and (2) by all accounts, lithium batteries are a little bit unforgiving to play with.  It's not that hard to make a mistake that turns them into small toxic incendiary grenades.  It's not enough to make me not want to do it, but it has kept the project from rising to the top of the priority list so far.

On the upside, I have a semi-local friend who in an engineer and a battery repacking enthusiast.  When the pandemic is over, he would happily spend an afternoon teaching me what I need to know.
1 week ago
Eric, thank you!  I'm pretty pleased with how it went.  

I was serious though about not doing PEP.  I'll admit to the temptation just because badges are cool and I'm a sucker for gamification of things due to too many years of online gaming (or vice versa, hard to parse cause and effect there).  But when I actually get to looking at the bits, they fall into at least four categories for me:

1) fun, slightly challenging to do and document, could happily earn that bit
2) boring life skills I have been doing all my life, just tedium/drudgery to run through it taking pictures
3) task that I wouldn't normally choose to do or would accomplish in some other way, due to some sort of philosophical quibble with the viewpoint of whomever specced out the bit
4) task that's impossible or ludicrously impractical (or just silly) in my bioregion.

There's not intended to be a word of criticism in any of this.  PEP is cool and seductively fun-looking but it's for a purpose that's irrelevant to my current life trajectory.  There's no reason for me to mess with it, cool badges or not.
1 week ago
This was  fun maker-style project.  I believe that if I was doing PEP (which I am not because it's for a very different bioregion than the one I am in) this would have qualified me for some Oddball points.  

Backstory: We are pretty rural.  We have a tone of devices that charge via USB.  Phones, e-readers, tablets, little lights, personal fans, all kinds of stuff.  And the electrical grid is at least a little bit fragile; we get ice storms in in winter and pretty regular power outages during thunderstorm/tornado season.  

One of our adaptations is that we've got a lot of those small "cell phone charger" auxiliary batteries.  The kind that are the size of two packs of gum and hold enough juice to charge your phone a few times.  They don't cost much, but they don't hold much juice, either.  And the fun adventure (after you find one in the dark) is wondering whether it's got a charge in it.  When was the last time I charged this thing?  Was it in this calendar year?

One day, I got a notion.  I've been standardized for close to a decade on the Black & Decker homeowner grade 18v rechargeable tools.  They are almost completely obsolete now, but there was a huge line of yard tools and power tools that all used the same 18v lithium batteries, the ones about the size of 2/3 of a brick.  Most of those lithium batteries have failed from age, and new ones used to cost $40 or so, so the tools go for cheap at garage sales with no-good batteries.  Up until about a year ago, I was getting pretty short on working batteries, but I have a huge collection of the tools that I bought for $1, $2, and $3 over the years.  Then some cheap Chinese nickle-metal hydride replacement batteries hit the market: about $20 with perhaps 30% more amp-hours of charge storage than the old lithiums had when new.  So now I have plenty of the batteries again.  

So what was my notion?  I thought "Wouldn't it be nifty if I had a USB charger that plugged into those tool batteries?  We'd be set for weeks on device charging, given how many of those batteries I have sitting around on smart chargers all the time."  

First I went out and looked for a commercial product.  No joy.  Dewalt (I think) sells such a charger, but it's for a totally different (22v?) battery system.  One or two outfits sell boom boxes (radio/cd players) styled like their tools that take the batteries and have USB outlets on them, but not Black & Decker that I could find.

Then I did a little research.  I discovered that aftermarket USB charging sockets for cars (12v) are frequently designed to sell into the marine market (24v) also, so with a little looking, you can find a $5 charging socket that takes any voltage from 12 to 24.  My tool/battery system is 18v -- perfect!  The one I bought a few months ago has doubled in price since I ordered mine; I suspect a derangement in the supply chain.  (Lots of things on Amazon cost twice as much now as they did in January.)  But I'll bet you can find a cheap one if you look.

So that was easy, but the other end is the clip that snaps onto the battery terminals.  I could do it with alligator clips, but that's rinky-dink.  I wanted a more elegant solution.  

My "bright idea" was to salvage a battery clip from an existing Black & Decker tool.  I've often bought them in lots -- a drill and a saw and a weed eater, say.  When the whole pile comes with batteries (probably dead but one likes to check) and costs $5, I don't think too hard about how badly I need each tool in the collection.  So I surveyed my inventory and found a leaf blower.  WTF, a leaf blower?  When am I gonna blow a leaf?  I don't have any hard surfaces at my house that need cleaning, and leaves get to lie where they fall as mulch.

Seven screws later, the leaf blower fell apart in my hands.  I had a battery clip to play with!  And guess what?  It used the same spade connectors as came on the USB charging socket.  My wires are coded red and black for pos/neg, and the spades on the charging socket are marked pos/neg. Could it really be this easy?

No, not quite.  The spades on the blower motor were soldered in place.  One of my leads (red/positive) from the battery clip thus had to be cut off short so I could crimp on a new spade connection.  (Two came with the USB charging socket.)  But on the black/positive line, there was a tiny switch between the clip and the motor.  That spade connector was not soldered, so I just unplugged it.  Just like that, boom!  I had a charger to charge USB devices from 18v Black & Decker tool batteries:

The spade connectors on the battery clip looked a little bit fragile, so I protected them with a bit of black electrical tape before plugging the battery clip onto a battery.  Hey, look the LEDs on the USB charger socket are glowing!

Look at the pretty glowy lights on the front:

Then it was time to wrap the whole thing in black tape and test it with a "load".  Happened to have an LED gooseneck light on my workbench so that became my USB test item.  Hark, what light through yonder LED breaks?

It's a silly little project but I'm very pleased with it.

1 week ago