Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by daves

  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.
  16. Unfortunately, your good intentions are likely not good enough to navigate this mess. I was curious what the WA state guidance was, and I found a couple of interesting tidbits on http://www.hum.wa.gov/FAQ/FAQServiceAnimal.html From my read, you're screwed if you do and screwed if you don't. First is this one: If you listen to the Health Dept, you'll get fined by the Human Rights Commission, and if you listen to the Human Rights Commission, the Health Dept will be coming for you. Somehow the case-by-case basis tells me that they'll let you know you've failed to follow the non-documented rules as you get fined... But wait, it gets even better: So the Health Dept will fine you. Your defense could be that the animal was represented to you as a service animal, but there is no way to obtain proof. Ack. Finally, there is specific guidance in WA state for animals-in-training: So, in your specific case, if this occurred in WA state, my read is that you must have the service animal-in-training removed. You have no safe harbor (such as it is) shielding you from the Health Dept. I've watched a few local food businesses, including a couple owned by friends, go under due to conflicting rules established by different government agencies. Nobody cared in the least that their rules would put you in jeopardy from another agency.
  17. I think this was mentioned, but I thought I'd add my experience (so far). I thought I was all set: MC ordered [wait wait wait wait] delivered -- check chemistry lab kit ordered and delivered -- check kids select first recipe -- check So they pick Mac & Cheese, and of course my chemistry kit came with kappa carrageenan instead of the iota type. After reading up on the differences, I concluded that they are likely to be more alike than different in this application. So tonight I made the cheese, and it appears to have turned out just fine. So, those who have ordered the Artistre kit from Amazon, and want to dive into emulsified cheese for Mac & Cheese, don't feel you need to wait to order the iota. Just go for it.
  18. There's a huge parallel between cooking and technology. The best programmers are hugely creative with a solid foundation in new technologies. I think the same is true of cooking, except that the technology aspect of cooking has been stalled in the mainstream for decades (if not more). MC represents a shock factor just because it exposes the state of the art in a few thousand pages
  19. Secrets are interesting: they tend to remain secret because of some sort of obfuscation. In food cases, I don't think there's a whole bunch of real secrecy, except for not sharing recipes. I mean, the product that you want to 'copy' is right in front of you, available to all of your senses. Science and knowledge will shine a pretty brigh light into those dark boxes, revealing how to reverse-engineer: you start with the results and you can derive ingredients and process to get your there. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that the genie is out of the bottle: science innovation in cooking is underway and nobody, including Alton and Waters, can hold it back. But I also have reservations about how deeply it'll really go past the enthusiasts. After all, when was the last time you heard or read that "searing the meat will lock in the juices"? I hear it way too often...
  20. Chris Hennes, thanks for bringing this to my attention: yes I did mean On Food and Cooking. Apologies to McGee. I've also heard the 'cheating' term. I don't think bakers cheat when they actually measure things accurately for their craft. And I don't think I'm cheating when I use a PID-controller to help with my low'n'slow bbq, my espresso machine and my soon-to-own sous vide setup . My father-in-law, an old school griller who tended to overcook everything, laughed when I grilled him a ribeye steak and I pulled out my thermopen to check progress. Laughter turned into need (as in he needed a thermopen) once he was served the steak. He got one the following Christmas and now uses the technology. (rant: I now need to keep telling him doneness temps since his USDA references are way too high!).
  21. once upon a time Time for a new paradigm in cooking...
  22. "the clumsy, somewhat primitive expression of a profound bewilderment." -- I think you're onto something here. Judging by the noted reactions, I'm now wondering if we're in the early stages of a disruptive innovation in cooking. There are enough signs that this might be a significant example that’s been brewing for a few years, really starting with On Food and Science and expanding greatly a few days ago. After spending a few days pouring over the volumes (yes I have a copy, so I think I can legitimately form a proto-opinion ), I think Nathan and his team have written a combined Theoretical and Practical Application Guide to Cooking, with a subtitle of “Everything We Know So Far” to borrow a line from Porsche. There have been others but nothing of this depth and scope. MC makes accessible the theory of “why” food reacts as it does, and then shows how to apply it with recipes or even by shattering some cooking myths and making some uncomfortable. The disruptive innovation here is a knowledge-based approach to cooking rather than one of mythology and nostalgia. Angevin says that this type of cooking "takes all the nostalgia and romance out of the process". I actually tend to agree, but I'd characterize it in a more positive way: by understanding the actual science behind the reactions that food undergoes during prep/cooking/etc, then we can better execute our intentions with that food, and we can have better and more predictable results. Variation can be interesting, but faults have no place in the results I want to achieve. By understanding the science, we can come up with those interesting variations while excising the faults away. One sign of disruptive innovations is that they tend to polarize the participants. I’m personally surprised about the magnitude of polarization so far from the likes of Alton, Alice Waters, the CIA, Keller, eGullet members, etc. MC is generating talk about not just the books themselves, but about the whole idea of science in cooking. If innovation is proportional to the polarization, then MC will have a huge impact. Another sign is that Nathan is in a fairly unique position here that enables a disruptive approach. He is not a celebrity chef with a restaurant/cookbook/tv empire. He does not get paid through the industry. He is effectively an outsider, especially compared to his biggest critics. He does not have an innovator’s dilemma and so he’s free to disrupt. I get a chuckle when there’s a question of how could MC really be innovative when it isn’t coming from an established ‘expert’ in the industry. Ha! That’s exactly why it can be disruptively innovative. I’m hoping this is a disruptive force. Those using knowledge tend to drive improvements, while those ignoring or fighting knowledge tend to come up short. And Chris, that quote brings to mind something similar from Arthur C. Clarke (with a little addition of my own): Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic and scares the bejesus out of the natives!
  23. The thing that amazes me is the passion that people have on the topic of "modern cuisine". They (usually) haven't read the book, but they already know what's in it. Plus, even though the book clearly describes many of the real experiments that were used to confirm a fact, they continue to "just not believe it". Some of the comments here, and many of the comments on Ruhlman's blog, are of this dismissive-yet-not-informed type. But clearly this has struck a nerve -- just look at the number of readers of this thread. Has there ever been such a thread on eGullet?
  24. Nathan, I received my copy yesterday, and I've been paging through the volumes since. Even without going deep, I managed to learn quite a few things and burst a few myths, like the key role of surface moisture instead of temperature on smoke absorption with bbq. My wife, who is a pastry chef, wished that you would have covered baking in the same manner. In fact, we talked about several food-related areas that are ripe with mythology and could use some bright lights. This could work out to a whole series This is a remarkable work, and you and your crew should be very proud of what you've done. Thanks! I live in Redmond, and somehow Amazon decided to send my books to Indianapolis before shipping them back to me via 2-day FedEx.
  25. When my wife's decade old single boiler machine died, we were set on getting a super-automatic. A visit to a large coffee equipment store convinced us otherwise. The machines were ready to be used, and we both sampled espresso (same beans, same water) from a super-auto and an E61 group machine. First up was the super-auto: we thought the super-auto was pretty good, and you can't beat the simplicity. Well, it was pretty good until we tried the shot from the E61. Suddenly the super-auto shot tasted flat and 2-dimensional. The E61 shot was great, and we ended up with an E61 HX machine. I wish I had stayed even longer and played with temperature control with different beans. That learning experienced moved me to a pid-controlled double boiler with fantastic temp control less than a year later. I really didn't like the randomness of the HX cooling flush... Dan, you don't mention where you're located. Is there any chance that you can visit a well stocked store and actually taste the espresso from the machines? In the Seattle area there is Seattle Coffee Gear. In NY, there's Chris Coffee. There might be more. Oh and the Mypressi produces phenomenal espresso when paired with fresh beans and care to make sure that the device and water is up to temp. The Twist, a quality hand grinder, and a small Bodum kettle is part of my travel kit.
  • Create New...