Friday, April 21, 2017

It's OPEN!

Woo HOO!

Here in the gloomy PNW, we have our first, real day of spring.  The temperature is passing the 60° mark, the sky is sunny, the heat pump is turned off, and for the first time since way back in the fall of 2016, we have the storm windows out and our ports are OPEN!

We are flushing out the old winter air and replacing it with some flower-scented spring air!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Masking: The Problem

Spring fitting out season is approaching (or is already here for those of you south of the 48th parallel).  That means that there will be painting and varnishing, and where these exist, masking tape is not far behind.  There are all kinds of the stuff out there, and believe me, they are NOT equal, or even close.  Please allow me to give you the benefit of 20 years experience fitting out Eolian, and even longer in masking cars for painting...

Just: No.
There are all kinds of masking tape at the bottom of the rung, cost-wise.  For almost all uses that we here care about, they should be avoided.  The denizens of this rung of the masking ladder, even from a respected manufacturer,  have an inferior backing (that is, they will frequently tear lengthwise wihen you are attempting to pull a piece off the roll...), have an adhesive that is set by the sun, and are worse than useless should they be exposed to moisture (such as dew, on a summer's morning).  If you can get a good piece off the roll, in a day or two in the sun and morning dew, it will be permanently bonded.  You'll need solvents to get it off.  Even for painting a car, where the masking is applied and removed in the same day, the bottom tier is simply not worth it.

Probably No.

The next tier up is useful for things that will be applied and removed in a single day, or where the tape is shaded and protected from moisture (inside perhaps?).  When painting cars, this is what I use to hold the newspaper on the windows, etc.  But not where a clean line is needed.  You probably won't want this anywhere on a boat either.

Scotch's blue "painter's tape" is one that you might consider.  But it has what I consider an overly-aggressive adhesive (it might pull off an underlying paint layer), and also has a tendency to set up in sun or rain.  In addition, like the other tapes mentioned above, it has a "crepe" backing.  That is, the backing is slightly wrinkled on purpose, to make it possible to bend the tape around a curve.  Tho this could be handy in some cases, the wrinkles allow the paint to seep under the edges like this:

... so don't use this where you need a clean edge.

The only tape you'll find aboard Eolian is this:

Yes: Scotch 2080

Scotch 2080 (note the orange core).  This tape has,
  • A smooth backing, making for nice clean edges
  • A less aggressive (but perfectly acceptable) adhesive.  In most cases, it won't lift underlying paint layers.
  • An 8-day removal period.  Well, this might be slightly exaggerated, but still, under most circumstances, you won't need a chisel and acetone to get it off.

And a final note:   You use masking tape to prevent getting paint on the substrate.  This means almost by definition that you will be painting over the edge of the masking tape.  When you pull the tape, depending on how heavy the layer of paint is, how strong the paint is, and how well it is cured, you could pull chips or entire areas of paint off into the painted area.  To avoid this, I never allow more than one cured layer of paint on the tape before it is removed.  For example, when varnishing I pull the tape before the second coat has had a chance to set up hard.  This may be a little more work, but it avoids having to use a knife to cut the paint layer (and thus probably scoring the substrate) when pulling the tape.


Monday, April 3, 2017

It Really *Is* All About The Roux

A long time ago, Jane managed to snag one of those church cookbook compilations at the Shilshole book exchange.  What made this one special was that it was from Cajun Country...  yep, Nawlins.  It seems that almost every recipe in it starts out with something like, "Fry three strips of bacon.  Eat the bacon, and make a roux with the bacon fat."

So, if you're not into the best cooking the USA has to offer, what's a roux?   It is where you brown some flour in fat.  Done properly, it takes a while - up to or more than an hour, in fact.  But oh is it worth it!


Jane subscribed to a magazine a while back (that I can recommend for a whole bunch of reasons, not least of which is that they use the scientific method extensively in creating recipies...) called "Cooks Illustrated."

It just so happens that this month's addition addressed in one article Cajun cooking's most treasured ingredient:  the roux.  Cutting to the chase, here's the short version:  Instead of standing over a hot frying pan for an hour stirring a mixture of flour and bacon fat, toast the flour in your oven, and use the bacon fat elsewhere in the recipe.  

I made this chicken gumbo for dinner Saturday nite, and oh my goodness, was it good!

I toasted the flour at home in our house oven (I did it in a pie pan, and actually, I toasted much more than I needed, because I anticipated that I'd be making something needing a roux again...).  And then I completed the recipe on board Eolian.

Oh. My. Goodness.

If you try the recipe above, I found that a half recipe was more than enough to feed three...  we'll actually use it to feed four (two, twice).

Oh, and here's a recommendation:  subscribe to Cook's Illustrated.  You'll never have a boring meal again, nor will you have one that requires that you get every pot dirty either.

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