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

Carla Burke wrote:YAASSSS!!! I always forget about that stuff, but I LOVE it! Reasonably priced, nice looking, long lasting, nontoxic, sturdy... Anne, you ROCK!!!

Growing up, the porcelain-coated thin steel ware  (enamelware is the generic non-branded name under which I am familiar with it) was what my family used for camping cookware and dishes.  This is a tradition going back at least 120 years -- at gold-rush era cabin sites on the Yukon, we'd find cups, bowls, coffee pots, and many other items made from the stuff.  The classic chuckwagon/cowboy coffee pot in old movies was usually this stuff.  

It's great -- lighter than anything else but aluminum and seemingly 100% nonreactive.  (There have been concerns about the metals in some glaze colors, but I dunno how established it ever was that the glaze materials might transport into food.) As late as the 1980s my family sold a complete line of the stuff in our hardware store as camping gear -- it was blue with white speckles and made in Mexico.  Coffee pots, cups, pie plates (works as plate or bowl in mining camp) and bowls were particularly popular.    

The one big issue with the stuff is that if it's dented, a small bit of enamel will chip off at the site of the dent.  That little bit of enamel is like a small flake of glass; you don't want to eat it.  And the black steel exposed underneath will eventually rust, until you have a hole in your enamelware.  The best solution is to make the stuff of heavier steel that's harder to dent -- the stuff they make nowadays is not as heavy as the stuff we were pulling out of 1900-era cabin sites.  The second-best solution is to handle with care; it takes quite a sharp blow to dent/chip the enamel.  
1 day ago
Concur with everybody who recalls that there was never a grey area -- they always shattered when they broke, and made a rattling noise thereafter.

In some models, the protective body is threaded at the top, so you could grasp the opening of the thermos in one hand and twist the body with the other hand until the outer case screws off and you were left with the silvered glass vacuum flask in your hand, permitting inspection.  
1 day ago
I think cost, primarily; the jars themselves seem to cost about three times as much. But cultural factors also enter into it. A century of home economics education and cooperative extension education saying the Ball/Mason system is the only safe way is powerful programming to overcome.  
4 days ago
Several people have mentioned Pyrex, which is one of several brands of ovensafe glass.  Unlike cast iron, which people tend to price highly even on the used market, I see endless amounts of Pyrex pie dishes and rectangular baking dishes in many sizes at garage sales, usually priced at a buck or two.  Old ovensafe glass does sometime get rough-looking from repeated contact with abrasive cleansers, but it works great for baking.  You can even find ramekins (little cups) made from Pyrex, designed for baking custards; if you pick a shape that works for you and arrange them on a cookie sheet, you could use these like a muffin pan.  
5 days ago

Rebecca Norman wrote:In Goodwill in the US I've found cast iron muffin or popover pans.

I am surprised there isn't more love in this thread for cast iron baking gear.  I grew up eating muffins from a cast iron muffin pan; I was shocked the first time I saw a tinny steel one.  Nothing beats cast iron for good even heat and browning.

There exist cast iron bundt pans, although cast aluminum ones are more common.

Throughout the southern parts of the USA, one often find cast iron cornbread pans built like muffin pans, only the holes are shaped like half-sized ears of corn.  It's cute but it works!

I have a cast iron casserole pan that would work wonderfully as a rectangular cake pan, only it's enameled and it came to me with chips in the enamel, so I use it for decorative plant stuff.  

5 days ago

wayne fajkus wrote:I had success making pies in cast iron skillets

I have a Facebook friend from my college days who owns a genuine cast iron pie pan.  She swears by it, but she does recommend removing sticky oozy acidic fruit pies to another container for storage, lest the pie create and pick up a bit of rust.  (Non toxic, probably good for you, but unsightly and in excess, metallic flavored.)  
5 days ago

Dustin Rhodes wrote:
Frost and drought tolerance? (the specimen I found receives artificial irrigation and was probably planted as a grown tree, and not from seed, so it's not necessarily a good indicator)

Dave's Garden (which is usually a source of good information) says it's a tropical tree requiring zone 9b or warmer (minimum temp 25F) to survive.  This other site is in accord, and has more detailed growing information.
6 days ago
I didn't handle those jars, so I can't say if the commercial bone broth was jellified or not.  But there's no reason it couldn't be; all it would take is a spoon to pull it out of the jar with, or warm the jar in a bowl of hot water first.  

I do, however, suspect it's been diluted with water until it stays liquid.  I said this was the "most comparable" commercial product to what I made, but I carefully didn't claim it was as good!  In fact my suspicion is that good stock or broth is a product like a good garden tomato -- it's literally "unobtainium" on the commercial market and the only way to get it is to produce your own.  

Certainly it's the case that all the "cheap" (few bucks a quart) commercial stocks and broths I have ever tried are barely better than salty water.  You don't get much flavorful virtue for the money!
6 days ago

Dan Boone wrote:Seeing as store-bought broth/stock costs a minimum of $1.75 a quart and up (way up in some cases, I've seen brands priced at $5.00 and above) it's arguable that my seven jars are "worth" more than twice in future grocery savings as much as we paid for the whole bird.

Thanks to everyone who must have laughed quietly at my out-of-touch notion about the retail price of bone broth. From curiosity, I looked at Sprouts for the most comparable product. It was $6.99 a pint!
1 week ago
I never really found a solid answer about the nature of this grain as it comes off the plant, or about the scope and difficulty of the presumed-necessary threshing operation.  However, by serendipity I found something very close to an answer to my original question on the Job's Tears page at the Experimental Farm Network, where they have this to say:

Job's Tears (called Hato Mugi, in Japanese) is an uncommon grain eaten traditionally from Africa to Japan. It is believed to originate in India, but is most popular as food and medicine in China and Japan. Most Job's Tears grown in this country is of the non-domesticated type, with rock-hard shells that can only be cracked with pliers or a hammer. The grain inside is edible, but very hard to get at. The domesticated "ma-yuen" type (Coix lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen) can be cracked open with a couple strong human fingers or a normal threshing machine.

That confirms what I suspected all along (that the colorful decorative type sold by Bakers Creek and elsewhere is not easily useful as a food grain) while explaining the mystery of this stuff existing as an important food crop in Asia.