Yes, I know. Mankind has invented Axes for a reason. But sometimes, special tools make up for a better solution for certain situations and mine is making kindling. Small, slim pieces of wood, cumbersome to handle when you want to place the blade of your hatchet and simultaneoulsy get your fingers out of the way. So a kindling splitter is a useful tool and it has it’s justification. Here’s mine:
Pizza oven progress! The cracks and holes that I wreaked when welding are filled with heat resistant silicone, and it got a coat of heat resistant paint. I also ordered an additional joint for the chimney that I’m still waiting for, so the chimney is only fastened temporarily. Also, an oven door is still missing because I need new material (I fucked up the old one…)
I was pondering a pizza oven for over a year now and now that the second lockdown in germany kicks in, I impulsively started working on one. Since I’m not a mason and since I definitely won’t start practising masonry with the most complicated structure – a dome – I decided to go for a metal drum instead of bricks.
Well, tested outside for safety reasons 🙂 . But the grill worked fine! The heat it generated downwards was absolutely tolerable – I could hold my hand between the grill and the baseplate for several minutes without discomfort, and the coconut charcoal indeed produced almost zero smoke. Next test will be indoors.
We’re planning to arrange a party for the immediate neighbourhood in the northern germany refuge because they’ve all been great people to us and we want to give something back. If this works out, I want to make a big pot of chili over the open fire for everyone. Best done in a big dutch oven over the “Fassl“, so here’s the tripod that I made for this occasion:
So, just before leaving for work for another some weeks, I managed to finish the raised garden beds from earlier this month. I added the first plants (tomatoes, chillies, paprika and strawberries) and installed a paling fence around. Yes, the slightly shabby and irregular look was intended! Done for now.
I had time to fire up the “Fassl” yesterday evening and everything worked like a charm. I made some white chicken Chili in the Dutch oven, accompanied by some grilled flatbread. Here are some action shots:
We cut down about 1/3 of our sage bush in the northern germany garden because it was beginning to overgrow nearly everything else in the spot.
Instead of throwing it away, we decided to dry it for later and I was the lucky one that had to pluck the leaves off the stems. I felt like my grandma, sitting on her porch when I was a child, cleaning several kilos of green beans for canning 🙂 . Anyway, your fingers smell utterly divine after that job!
We then simply dried the leaves in the oven, laid out evenly on 3 trays: Hot air, at 50°C for about 6 hours. With a wooden spoon stuck in the oven door to keep a small slit open to let the air escape.
This was today’s view at about six o’clock in the morning in the northern germany refuge. The mist from the farm fields was slowly coming through between the oak trees behind the house and everything was absolutely quiet. Reminded me of a fairy tale or elven forest 🙂
So here are the first signs of growth in the mushroom jars after one week. I hope it’s mushroom mycelium, not mold 🙂
We’re expecting some visitors in the northern germany refuge these days so I finally got the new terrace table done. It’s easy to make one if you can get hands on a metal drum and some wood and it’s versatile and convenient when you have people over for a BBQ. See the building process of the first one if you like: Part I, part II, part III.
So I will try to propagate some of the mycelium from the oyster mushroom growing kit. I have already done this years ago and it worked fairly well, so I hope these will thrive as well.
The materials for the growing substrate are 500g of rye grains, 25g of gypsum and 500ml of water. Cook this over medium heat, stirring often, until no more liquid is left over in the pan. You want the grains to be evenly covered in gypsum and well soaked but reasonably dry on the surface.
I grabbed an oyster mushroom growing kit at a garden store sale almost half a year ago and I finally found the time to put it to use. It’s a convenient and un-complicated way to learn how to care for and cultivate your own home grown mushrooms.
The fairy door I made some time ago for the northern germany refuge is finally mounted and ready for the hard “use”!
I found an interesting image of some churrasco spits on the internet and thought to myself: Yeah! Why not make them look like a sword? It’d be wide enough to hold any piece of meat firmly and prevent it from rotating on the spit, plus I can poke into the ground if necessary, and – plus plus – it would simply look cool.
The quiet, calm, sunny and hot driveway today. I love it.
I don’t have a reasonable place for grilling and barbecue in the northern germany refuge yet. In order not to have to improvise very time I want to use my UDS, I made a rollable platform where the smoker can sit on.
It’s an easy construction made from pallet wood and some concrete for the firebox bottom. Today was the premiere and it worked fine. I’m still pondering if I should lay the bricks in mortar finally or leave it as it is and just stack them for easier transport.
I made a fairy door for the northern germany refuge. A simple, yet cute and adorable thing to add to my garden 🙂 The images below explain themselves; it was a fun and beautiful little side project for me.
We have (involuntarily) found out how the outside rainwater draining works in the northern germany refuge. There is a drainage sump as well as a ring drainage around the house and two cisterns in the garden that serve as a reservoir and have an overflow pipe in case they’re filled to a certain level. These cisterns can of course be used for watering the garden using a submergible pump, as they’re filled with free rainwater. Here’s what I came up with as an idea to make use of this reservoir. It’s a post combining the electrical wiring of the two pumps and an outlet for watering:
This is as much as I can do for now, since I need an electrician to wire the thing up correctly. We’ll see how (and if at all) this works this summer 🙂
The 3.645.237’th BBQ-Glaze recipe on the internet. My personal favourite, because it’s easy to make, requires only common ingredients (yes, I DO NOT use vinegar) and it’s fu**ing delicious. Use it for spareribs and red meat roasted in the oven or in the smoker.
Corona! I’m in self isolation, just as thew whole country is, working from home and apart from that having next to nothing to do. So I decided to try growing vegetables on the windowsill, as I do it every year.
Our garden water tap is at a completely impossible position. Due to structural demands the maximum height is fixed so it can run clear in winter. I really didn’t like it so I found a remedy building a disconnectable faucet-board. It resembles a little fountain and it looks nice enough. Please see my highly sophisticated sketch/drawing if you’re interested in building your own 🙂
Due to the overflow of our drainage cisterns in the northern germany refuge garden lately, we took measures for the future, one of them being the flushing and clearing of the overflow pipe and its outlet. It was nearly completely buried in debris and foilage and any water coming from it would either flow back or accumulate at the outlet.
I plan on smoking some meat again shortly, so I find it’s a good idea to gather and sum up my experiences on cold smoking a little. I will not describe the actual processes and mechanisms of smoking foods here, but if you’re interested, read on on wikipedia. It’s worth the time.
There are three types of smoking:
Hot smoking (60 – 110 °C / 140 – 230 °F):
This is what you do in a BBQ smoker. More delicious cooking than actual smoking.
Warm smoking (25 – 60 °C / 77 – 140 °F):
The intermediate thing. Some Proteins begin to denaturate at these temperatures.
Cold smoking (10 – 25 °C / 50 – 77 °F):
The “original” way of smoking, used for centuries to conserve goods. The only method discussed here.
I made another squirrel feeder for the nothern germany garden. The little guys must be darn hungry these days so I wanted to help them out a little.
I finallly did the necessary touch ups on the garden shed in the northern germany refuge. To be honest, it is still not pretty and you cannot see so much of a difference, but as so often, it was the little things that required attention:
1. Replaced the broken roof tiles
2. Reinforced the wooden beams where necessary
3. Added an additional side wall for added space and stability of the projection portion of the roof
4. Fixed the front roof-cover
Pheew… Maybe I’ll give it a paint job in spring next year.
I finally finished the trashcan screen in the front yard. Here are some impressions, video below:
Still a lot to do but slowly everything is coming together. I love it so much.
We celebrated my wife’s birthday yesterday (all the best for you, my love!) and also used the new smoker. A whole chicken, a barbecue fattie and some spareribs – it was yummy and fun. Some Impressions from a beautiful day with friends, food and beer:
It was really not a pretty sight when you came home and the first thing you saw were three dirty trashcans in front of the house. So we grabbed all the remaining pallets from the garden and turned them into a screen to cover the trash. It’s a simple construction made from five regular euro pallets (in diffenerent states of decay 🙂 ) screwed together with simple metal brackets.
It’s not completely done yet, since we plan to additionally cover it with a wicker fence from the hardware store, but it is already an improvement.
Since the Lady of the House was so excited about all the tall trees in the northern germany refuge, I made her a stance that she can sit in and observe things from above. Precisely as she likes it.
It consists of a wooden potato storage box from the hardware store that I reinforced a little (my pretty lady is a little heavy) and a simple board. I reinforced this one as well so it won’t flex so much in the middle. It’s mounted on a height of approximately 2 meters with two shelf supports and that’s it.
The old tin garage we had in the northern germnany refuge was well over its time. It even had to be reinforced by two construction supports inside and it was rusty, full of holes, leaky and completely askew. Pretty normal after twenty years of being subjected to the elements. It was ok.
So we decided to tear it down and build a new one, but after much pondering and conceptioning on how to do it best, we eventually ended up handing the task to a local company that we know very well. And after seeing the first 50% of the work being done, we’re that glad that we didn’t try this on our own:
It took them three days and about 10 wheelbarrows of concrete to set up the structure. The ground is very uneven and the soil is hard as rock here, so they really had to work like dogs to get everthing done. Now we’ll have to wait for 14 days for the concrete to cure decently, then the bwork can continue.
A friend of mine has purchased this heavy, high-quality and sturdy gadgetry for him and his family: A Broil King “Regal 490” gas grill. Although I, personally, like grilling or BBQ over blazing coals far more, I have to admire the cool and easy to use thingy he just bought.
I’ve got a lot of trees here in the northern germany refuge and now I also finally got a hammock (Amazon) again! I’ve set up hammocks many times before – as a boy scout – but it’s about 25 years since then… so here’s how I used to set up a hammock:
I could cry for not being there… just listen to the birds.
So this is what was going on in the northern germany garden over the last few days: My SO (with a little external help) did the lion’s share and I only contributed the detail work, but: Slowly but surely things finally take shape:
I don’t know why, but I just love this sunny casual snapshot of the mossy, overgrown and “natural” garden in the northern germany refuge.
I started tearing down the old and worn brick and stone grill in the northern germany refuge today. I didn’t expect it to be that sturdy – never judge a book by it’s cover! Whoever built this monster, he really knew what he was doing!
This is what the small plantation on my windowsill did within the last 7 days: The first delicate sprouts have appeared.
First came the bok choi, then, on the same day swiss chard, spinach #1 and thyme. Lastly the first zucchini.
Still sick as f*ck and bored as hell. So today I planted tomatoes (precisely: simple, store-bought vine tomatoes) the way I did it last year: Just slice them into 3-4 mm slices, cover with 1 cm of soil and water a little.
I hope they’ll germinate in the next few days.
I called in sick this morning and I really feel like a bag of shit since yesterday. But after much sleep and drinking tea, I’m also bored as f**k, so I decided to start growing veggies and herbs on my windowsill again. After all it’s precisely the right time of year for that.
Boy! Look at that! When I see this I really wish for the weather to become suitable again for some barbecue…
So the tree guys are doing their business around the new house. Felling the dead oaks professionally and thinning out everything, so the other trees can grow better and strong again. I could never have done this on my own and without their heavy equipment and special knowledge. These guys are cool, they work hard and they know what they’re doing.
I decided to try to only smoke on the balcony from now on, simply because you smoke much less when you have to go out every time. Since it’s winter here and temperatures easily drop below zero, I dug out the old fire bowl that I made from a cheap dollar store Wok and some scrap metal two years ago. Still works fine and makes a comfy, cozy feeling on the balcony.
Look at this guy’s pulled lamb! Looks so savoury I want to drown in it…
Signed the contract yesterday! I finally bought a house in a very beautiful, rural and quiet area in northern germany. Now imagine how fed up I am with the big bad city, that I – a cocksure born and raised bavarian – am at least partially moving up to the north… 🙂
I got myself an indoor growlight for getting my favourite self grown plants over the winter properly… Well, I don’t think this was my greatest flash of genius ever: First of all, the room looks like a cheap whorehouse now – I totally mis-estimated the light color. Second, it has a cooling fan with a low, but annoying sound. I’ll test it for a couple of days and then decide how I’ll proceed.
My neighbour, who is a biologist told me that squirrels have had a hard time the last winters here in urban southern germany and that she doesn’t think the situation will improve much this year. Seems the little critters are so excited about the long and hot summer that they simply forget to collect their nuts as supply for the winter. So I made a “squirrel-nut-depot-all-you-can-eat-bar”.
And these are some of the pears from my own pear tree. A little hard still, but sweet and savoury. We had to take them off because the tree had real problems with the weight of the fruit. I’ll let them mature for a few days and then see.
My Neighbour has his own apple tree and I got some too. Thanks!
We made this wood store this morning. It won’t win any beauty contest and it looks… umm… a little patchy, but it’s made based on the simplest possible late night sketch and also exclusively from material we had at hand. We didn’t buy a single screw. Hey, no extra euros and more space in the shop!
Here’s the foldable travel grill that we used when we were camping these days. It’s durable, lightweight and space-saving. Also, it’s by far large enough for two people and absolutely no fuss to set up. I got mine from here.
My first attempt at smoking chicken in the makeshift barrel-smoker. Brined simply with some salt, paprika and garlic, it came out nice, flavourful and really appealing. 2.5 hrs. was enough.
The third “harvest” of chard from my balcony, just minutes ago. If this regrows a fourth time now, I’ll be a little scared of it … 🙂
Yesterdays harvest from my two chili plants – they really seem to like that hot weather. The small ones are mean little fu**ers… 🙂
Edit: I’m going to dry them and I’ll also keep some of the seeds.
These are the veggie-pots that I’m trying to nurse on my balcony. They’re spinach, chard and sage, each grown from seeds. On the images, the plants have already been “harvested” once and have since regrown really well. This is a fun and easy thing to do, and – hey – you can even eat it!
This is what we managed to gather from our small, experimental gardening space today!
Together with a soup as a starter, a steak, perhaps some rice and a little chicken as well as some ice cream afterwards, you get two people easily full with that 🙂
Joking aside: I’m proud.
I tried smoking pork short ribs using the “professional” 3-2-1 Hours Method yesterday and they really came out outstandingly great! So what does that mean? It means you have three stages of cooking:
So after the old Tub was rusting away under our feet und loosing water faster than we could refill, we made a new Pond-in-a-Barrel. It came out nice and works perfectly. Sorry for the portrait mode!
Well, I was a boyscout when I was young and, yes, I did learn some useful things back then. So when we set up our new awning lately, I recalled the simple line-tensioners we made back in the days when we went camping with the boyscout group. They’re easy to make, simple to set up and cost next to nothing. Here’s how they work:
We made a simple pergola from an old garden tent to sit under and drink some beer 🙂 – we wanted to give it some “beach bar look”. We used the frame of an old party garden tent and attached several 2 x 5 cm bars as a roof construction.
A friend made me a steel divider sheet for the barrel grill (if you like: See here, here, here and here) so I can use it as a simple smoker. Basically it works like those Weber-fireboxes you can buy at the hardware store: The idea is to put the coals into the left half of the firepit, setting the divider and thus having a zone of indirect heat and smoke on the right side. Simple, effective and it works (somehow) 🙂
Just in case anybody cares: We had a relaxed, plentiful and tasty BBQ yesterday evening with some friends. Finally again something that didn’t involve charring supermarket pork chops on the grill but a barbecue fattie for four hours in the (makeshift) smoker and nice dutch oven full of Chicken and veggies 🙂
Some images from my windowsill these days. I’m trying to grow some herbs for the kitchen from seeds. Most of it works out rather well. It’s only the Rosemary that is is a little peaky and doesn’t really seem to like growing very much. The Tomatoes were planted (from plain supermarket-tomato-slices) only about a week ago and I’m pretty satisfied with the progress. Those Chilies grow like hell and I’ll have to germinate the blossoms with a soft brush these days when I have the time and ease to do it.
My first try on the dutch oven other than for baking bread yesterday, together with some friends. Turns out, it’s an absolutely great tool, easy to use, minimum effort required and surprisingly convenient. I made five rubbed chicken legs with some potatoes, onions and a load of garlic, added pepper, herbs and a little beer and broth. Then just let it sit undisturbed for 1 1/2 hours and they came out juicy, tender and flavourful. Success!
BTW, I ended up not caring about calculating coal numbers, because – surprise! – they’re friggin’ hot and difficult to handle without tongs. I just put the determined amount underneath and then didn’t feel like bothering anymore so I just poured the rest from the chimney on top. Still worked beautifully.
Since I’m planning to try this for the first time this evening (until now, it was only used for baking bread 🙂 ), here’s a table bringing together coals, temperature and pot size for getting your dutch oven to the right temperature:
German language only – sorry. It’s taken from here.
I finally put my DIY Rotisserie to use yesterday evening. To be honest, I had no clue what to do so I just marinated 4 cut up chicken breasts in a little olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary and skewered them up. After 1 1/2 hours slowly turning over the fire, they were perfectly good, crispy outside and juicy inside. I’m definitely going to do that again.
So, over the last few weeks I bolted and welded together some kind of a chuckwagon-kitchen-appliance for my garden firebowl. As usual I tried to use mainly scrap from the shop, recycling what I had but in this case I had to buy some steel rods and small parts.
I welded together a rotisserie mostly from scraps in the shop! I wanted it to fit into the grate slots of my stone barbecue grill so I had to design it exactly to size. I also had to grind up an idea on where to put the electric motor since, in my case, there are walls in exactly the spot where all the store bought ones have their drive.
As much of a little weakling my first cold smoker was, as much of a fu**ing hellraiser is this one. I even have the feeling it might do a little too much…
I used smaller wood chips this time and an additional hole for added draft. It really glows like hell now and I’m looking forward to smoking some bacon tomorrow.
I know that not all folks out there like those cold smoke generators for smoking meat. Many rather rely on the good old openly glowing wood chips in a bowl at the bottom of their smoke house. But for my small batches in my small smoker, these generators come in really handy. Since, unfortunately, the last cold smoke generator wasn’t so much the bringer of happiness, I tried a new approach:
My SO wanted a hedgehog box in the garden for the little fellows to have a secure and cozy hideout during winter. I liked the Idea but due to my job situation lately, I neither had the time nor the nerves to make one myself. So we bought this one instead:
It is roughly 28,5 x 48 x 38 cm (H x W x D) and it’s a simple construction – you can put it together in minutes. We gave it a good coat of linseed oil for weather protection and as soon as the oil had dried we placed it outside. We hope it becomes our personal “Hedgehog Hilton” this winter.
The shed mounted planting table is also finally done. It has three layers of paint now – eventually we didn’t use oil but a white outdoor wood paint that matches the rest of the shed.
I made a planting table for my SO today. The old one finally gave up due to weather, wear and tear. It’s going to be mounted on the garden shed’s wall with hinges so it’s “foldable” to save some space when it’s not in use and also to protected from the elements a little better.
So I think I’m starting large-scale production now… 🙂 I have four new pieces of pork here again (belly, neck and shoulder) that I want to cure in different ways and that I plan to cold-smoke next weekend.
I like bullshitting around about hatching seedlings and grow various plants indoors and in my garden. But the one with the real green thumb in this house is my wife. So I, for my part, have to rely on technical utilities in order not to either drown or dry out my windowsill greens.
This is what I use (available on amazon). It can tell you the soil’s moisture (cool and important), the ph-value (who cares?) and the amount of sunlight (couldn’t care less) for your plants.
Note: I don’t have any affiliate-link or something the like to Amazon (I suppose they would laugh out loud if I came up to them with that). I post this here simply because it’s useful to me and that’s where I got it from.
The 2.574.956th approach to rub on the net. This is my personal favourite. I like it because it’s absolutely easy to make and it simply tastes great. Just mix it up and you’re ready to go.
This is the first harvest of my bucket-grown own potatoes! Man, I’m proud! O.K., in the cold light of day they’re sorry little fuckers but they have grown on my own terrace and they prove that it works!
Yeah! Four racks of baby back ribs and two barbecue fatties! I’m going to try out he new “small” UDS that I made last winter. It has worked beautifully for cold smoking bacon, now I’m curious about how it’ll perform smoking a serious load of meat. Some friends are going to come over tonight, we’re going to have some beer for the boys, some wine for the ladies and lots to eat. My mouth already waters in anticipation…
So the Barrel-garden-table is finally done. It looks nice enough and I’m looking forward to trying it out.
Planting tomatoes the not-so-traditional way. Just buy some meaty, juicy tomatoes with many seeds in the supermarket and slice them up, about 1/2 an inch thick. We had some cocktail tomatoes left over here, but any will work as long as they’re halfway fresh and juicy. Lay the slices into a pot with good potting soil, giving them some space (or using seperate pots) and cover with about 1/2 an inch of dirt. Water lightly and… wait.
Generally, this is an easy thing to do, not much work, it’s easy to collect some kitchen scraps. Just give them light and some water and wait a little. It’s fun and if it works out right you can eat your own, home-grown veggies.
You know what these are? POTATOES!
3rd day of making the new UDS: Added a small, removable shelf (for thermometers) with hooks and a moveable lid for the main Air intake. I also finished the firehole door and a drain-hole for when it might get flooded (again). It’s also got it’s first layer of fire-proof laquer. After that, it got de-oiled with a felt litre of Acetone.
Made myself a shashlik-skewer holder that fits snugly into the grate slots of my garden grill. Can’t wait to try it out.
This is my Grilling Table that I want to place beside my Barbecue-Grill and Smoker. It is made solely from the Wood of two Euro-Pallets, and it was fairly easy to plan and build until now. Now comes the really difficult part of somehow heaving it out of my basement shop up to the garden… Update will follow shortly – hopefully.