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  1. On more thing: IMO make sure that you have a full variable control on the exhaust fan speed (and not 2 or 3 speed buttons), and then get as much exhaust/MUA cfm as you can budget. With the variable control and a big fan, you can always turn down the fan to what you need, but you can't go higher than your installed fan. When I looked into sizing the cfm, most guides were based on total BTUs of the cooktop. That might be useful to exhaust the heat/CO2, but those measurements don't cut it if you're blackening something.
  2. dcarch is right: check with local code first, because it will be inspected. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it'll work -- it'll just pass inspection! Make up air is a real thing. If an exhaust fan wants to pull 1200 cfm out of the house, there better be 1200 cfm coming back in. In older construction, that'll be satisfied by leaks throughout the house. In better construction, especially in the snow zone, houses are more airtight and the exhaust fan will lower air pressure and won't move nearly that much air. Instead of lowering air pressure in the house, it might pull air into the house from fireplaces and heater exhausts (pulling in CO/CO2). If you need to actively add air to the house, then you'll need a make up air system. Part of the frustration is that the sub designed the system, initially without a mech engineer. The sub got the broad strokes right on the design: a damper opens when the exhaust fan is on, allowing outside air into furnace return air, and if outside temps are low enough, there is an inline electric air heater to temper the air before it hits the heat exchanger. I live in the PNW where outside temps average mid thirties in the winter, and the furnace spec said that the min return air temp was 55F. When outside temps were high enough, their design worked great, but once temps lowered and I needed the air tempered, the faults were easy to see (the air was either not or over heated). As I investigated, I discovered that almost every detail in their heater design was wrong: heater was 2 stage, they placed the thermostat probe to measure incoming air (the combo resulted in no variability on the incoming air temp or actual volume of air), and the ducting was too large (resulting in dangerously low air velocity for their spec'ed heater). The sub tried to make a bad design work with increasingly stupid hacks, and I kicked them out of the house when they were going to install an intake fan to push even more air into the MUA intake. That's when I threatened to sue the general contractor, and he offered to bring in a prof engineer to evaluated or redesign. At this point, I had learned enough about these systems that I insisted in sitting down at the table with the general and sub, and got the ok. The sub started by stating that the only use case was "exhaust fan full on for <10 minutes per session" as in a quick high temp cook. The prof engineer said their design would work (which was mostly true with a certain range of outside temps). Then I spoke up and said another use case was "exhaust fan on low for many hours" eg. reducing stock for 5 hours. Contractor agreed this was a valid scenario, and the engineer rejected their design. I then offered up changes to their specifics that would satisfy both use cases (and also all the ones in between and all outside temps): smaller ductwork and a small but continuously variable duct heater driven by final temperature. Engineer said this was a much better design for homes (much to the chagrin of the sub), stamped the design, and contractor had the sub revise everything. My wife jokes that I know enough about MUA systems that I should open a consulting service. The joke is unfortunately on others since our contractor is now advertising expertise in MUAs based on eventual success with ours, and I don't think they understand why the system now works instead of the unworkable and dangerous system originally installed. Leaving out the hood itself, the cost is in your ballpark. I think the 1400cfm external blower was $1000 or so, the custom made duct heater was probably another $1000, and then the control electronics were probably less than $100. The duct work, electrical (duct heater is 220V ~50amps), and labor probably cost another $1000. I haven't compared the external blower vs, in-hood since the hood we ended up choosing required an external blower. As for the caulking/taping the seams of the ductwork: that's to reduce any rattling of the metal-to-metal contact. I think taping is actually code around here now.
  3. I think you're on the right track with a few things: external blower and the larger-than-cooking-surface size of the hood. Some notes to think about: In general, a remote/external blower will be quieter than an in-hood blower, but don't underestimate the noise created by 1000+ cfm moving through those baffles. If you really want to minimize noise, consider the construction of the ductwork including caulking the junctions/joins/whatever they're called. I can't tell if you need 1200+ cfm without knowing the total BTUs of the cooking surface. Most homes installing high BTU cooking surfaces are all show and no go: these are 'trophy' kitchens and rarely really used. The huge wolf range is paired with really inadequate ventilation. The real problem here is finding someone in the home space that can design the right hvac system including the make-up air system that will be required to replace that 1200+ cfm of air as your hood pulls it outside. Depending on where you are located, that make up air system might even need to be tempered to not shock the furnace. But most contractors have *NO IDEA* about how to design this. We have a 1400 cfm external blower on a 66" hood, and even after specifying to the general contractor that we would need a make-up air system, the subcontractor (who claimed experience) was not able to design it properly. I ended up learning way too much about ventilation and make-up air system, we had to threaten to take them to court for non-performance, and finally it ended once a professional hvac mech engineer was brought in to re-design the system (which ended up validating my design). We absolutely love the final result in terms of functionality, but I don't think there was any way to arrive there with a home hvac subcontractor. And if you specify a design, make sure that you specify multiple use cases: full on to remove smoke from blackening a steak to low extraction to remove seafood stock odor during a 5 hour reduction. Subs who are familiar with restaurant use cases are usually thinking full-on all-the-time.
  4. We just got back from a couple of weeks in Wailea. The pickings are slim, and we alternated between hotel restaurants (Spago and Nick's were the stand-outs) and local-ish restaurants. Here's what we found on the local side: We did Da Kitchen in Kihei after a morning on Big Beach, but it would have been a better idea to drive across the island to the one in Kahului. It is still a plate lunch, but the food in Kahului always seems so much better. Hotel concierge couldn't come up with a better Kihei/Wailea plate lunch place (except for L&L). We did think about some of the lunch trucks as we were leaving Big Beach, but the selection was slim. On the day were were there, there was one in the Big Beach parking lot, another couple just a little north on the road, and then a couple more a few miles north before getting into hotel territory. Since they weren't together, we decided to head to Kihei instead of checking them out and circling back for what looked good. 808 Bistro was tasty, but a very limited menu. We went once and were happy (esp for the price), but decided not to return as we didn't want to further explore their menu. Mulligan's (the Irish place on the golf course in Wailea) was decent. Irish pub with Irish beers (Smithwicks in HI!) on tap and pretty good fish-and-chips. Not a local plate, but still a decent dinner. Taqueria Cruz in Kihei serves up awesome Mexi fare in a very informal setting. BYOB if I remember right. We loved this place and returned to it on the way to the airport for lunch. We weren't overly impressed with Monkeypod Kitchen. Food was ok, but all of our entrees suffered from them trying to do too much in each plate. One of our fish entrees started off well with a nicely cooked piece of fish, but then it was loaded up with (I think) a lobster salad on top *and* some fruit/pepper salsa *and* some balsamic reduction on the plate. Pita Paradise's food was tasty. Service was very forgetful (as in literally forgetting out table!). I recommend staying away from Matteo's in Wailea. This is a shame as it used to be a rough gem (terrible cafeteria-style ordering at the counter, but the pasta was excellent and ok pizza), but it seems to have taken a turn for the worse sometime in the last year. Same menu as always, but not the same recipes. For example, I had a bolognese and my wife had a lamb dish. In previous years, these were great: the bolognese cooked down with milk and the lamb obviously braised in the tomato sauce for hours. This time, they were both based on a fresher tomato sauce, and no hint for dairy in the bolognese and the lamb was not braised. The hotel concierge said she thought they were closing within a month or so, but we didn't confirm with the restaurant as we didn't go back. Cafe O'Lei has been great and terrible for us on previous trips. Two years ago we had a few pleasant meals there, but a year ago they served me what is likely the worst steak I've ever had in a restaurant, along with a bunch of service problems. It was sent back and I opted not to have it replaced, instead grabbing take-out from Da Kitchen. We did not return this year.
  5. In keeping with trying to keep it simple, I ended up with a 1000 count box of 8x12 boilable 3 mil bags, and they've been ok for all applications so far. I'm about to make some pastrami, so we'll see if the cut of brisket will fit...
  6. Thanks Chris. I placed my order this morning. Hoping to have it by end-of-week. Now to start planning a vacuum-enabled Thanksgiving
  7. I've gotten spousal go-ahead to get a vacuum chamber, and I want to act before she comes to her senses Due to comments on eGullet and space, I've decided on a VP112, so that part of the decision is covered. I'd also like to order a bunch of bags at the same time, and I'm hoping to tap into your experience on the most useful sizes. After doing SV for over a year, I find that I'm usually doing single or double portions per bag. I'd also like to get into infusions/compression/etc that just isn't possible with a food saver. I'm hoping that oversizing bags doesn't matter in a chamber and that I can just buy a bunch of bags in a single size -- something near the size of the chamber itself. Is that a fair assumption? If so, then what size bag should I buy for a VP112 with a chamber size of 12x11 (and the seal bar being the 12" side)? Is there required bag headspace that isn't counted in the chamber size so I could really use a 10x15 bag (using the 4" extra for seal)? Or is the chamber size include the seal bar area and therefore is the size of the bag itself too? thanks for any help -- I'm hoping to hit the buy button soon
  8. Not something that I would use on a knife nick, but for far more serious cuts we have QuikClot on hand. I first got this into my first aid kit in my mountain biking pack. it is a beanbag-like container of clotting compound that will apparently stop arterial bleeding. I have it in case of a compound fracture from a bad spill etc.
  9. Almost a year ago, I read jmolinari's post with lots of interest. We were in the middle of a backyard remodel that would provide space for an outdoor kitchen, and I was dreaming of a wood fired oven. Today, I'm still dreaming of the WFO, but I'm enjoying some neapolitan pizzas: building a little black egg finally bubbled to the top of my to-do list. This thread started the quest, and I soon found myself at pizzamaking.com reading up on LBE variations. I used a 22" weber along with the rest of the usual suspects, completing the project in a couple of weekends. The result: this is a keeper. The main benefit is how easy it is to manage pre-heat (getting the deck stone to temp) vs. cooking temp (blast of hot air above the deck) with the propane burner. And then being able to turn the burner backt to low to not overheat the deck. The BGE, and other ceramics, can get up to equivalent temps, but can't bring it back down quickly. The result is that the BGE is ready for pizza cooking for a small window of time, and soon after the deck temperature gets too hot. I've got a big ceramic, and while they excel at a bunch of stuff, they just come up short for pizza. Thanks jmolinari. The LBE rocks!
  10. Nourishment and health are basic needs, and I think a lot of the motivation comes from wanting to provide them. Usually, if we’re free to cook at times like this, then the health needs are taken care of as well as they can be. But I think there is another effect going on here. When my wife was recovering from childbirth, her parents were here to help out, and I felt able to let loose in the kitchen. I was preparing more elaborate-than-normal meals for all, and in retrospect it was as least as soothing for me as it was for my wife. For me, it gave me a sense of control back as we were thrown into the chaos of our first kid. So the cooking/feeding part brings some sense of control back to the provider when they may not be feeling much elsewhere in the situation.
  11. While looking for our slabs for our kitchen, we looked at about a dozen different types of soapstone. Most were scratchable with my thumbnail, which I thought too soft for putting up with 2 growing kids. Luckily for us, the one we eventually picked was considerably harder and had a lot of interesting veins running through it. But I think there is a constant with soapstone: if you use your kitchen and especially if you have kids, it will develop a patina. The stone vendor we bought from showed us some amazing repair they are able to do if there is anything major (like a big chip out of a corner). Anything smaller just blends after a while, esp if you are oiling. On oiling: it *is* optional and not needed to care for the stone. The stone will turn a pale gray/white without oiling. And then it'll turn dark when it gets wet with water (short term) or oil/fat (longer term), say from rolling out a pie shell. The oiling does help maintain a single color throughout the countertops. One thing that worked out well for us was to get a sample of our stone. I think we got a 6" square piece that we then abused with a nail, hit with the bottom of a wine bottle, tried to stain with red wine, etc. Then we oil it to see how well it would hide the new patina (and then, contrary to the advice above, but consistent with our stone vendor, we hit it with sandpaper to get the scratches out)...
  12. We love our soapstone. Soapstone ranges from fairly hard to fairly soft. Depending on the hardness, you might end up with surface scratches from pulling an unglazed pottery bowl across it, or you might chip it/put a small dent it in from dropping metal or glass onto it. You'll end up with some patina from constant use, but when we got it, we expected that in our well-used kitchen. Cleaning: depending on what was on the counter top, we'll used everything from a wet cloth to a soapy sponge to a clorox wipe. This stuff was used for lab counters and is really inert. Acids/bases will not harm it, nor will anything soak into the stone itself. We don't cut on it, but we do almost everything else to it: we work dough, put hot pots from the stove onto it etc. There is a natural darkening over time and use, and you can accelerate it greatly using mineral oil. We like the darker color (ours is very dark green with lots of white veining) so we oil. Started out with once per week for the first month, and now 9 months later we probably do it every 6w or so. The darker oxidized surface does lead to water beading. If you do some surface damage that you want to remove, or you end up coloring the oxidation layer, then pull out some 200-400 grit sandpaper and use some elbow grease. Then follow up with mineral oil to darken the new light section...
  13. I think it simply comes down to focus. Most people have a single focus, either pastry or coffee, and they work hard enough to get that right. As you note, there are some places that get both right, but those are far fewer simply because there are far fewer owners who can do justice to both by having 2 foci. There is also little-to-no transferrable skills between baker/barista, so that makes it more mutually exclusive. You can also expand this out to restaurants in general. I rarely find a restaurant that knows espresso/coffee. There's a great northern Italian place in my neck of the woods -- lots of awards including James Beards -- but they serve the most god-awful espresso. I mean, the double shot we ordered didn't even resemble espresso by volume, let alone taste...
  14. Another copy located across the lake from Seattle... I'm an amateur, and my wife is a pro.
  15. And last night I made the modernist mac & cheese as a side for a Sunday comfort-food dinner: southwest meatloaf, mac & cheese, and sous-vide carrots (with my new SVP kitchen-toy). The mac & cheese was great. Wife's first comment was "you can really taste real cheese". My 7YO daughter, who is going through a contrarian phase, said "maybe too cheesy!" although she was scraping her plate to get the rest of the cheese sauce. I think this went over well, and the kids are deciding on the next project.
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