Sunday, April 26, 2009

Carbon Steel Geekery

Carbon steel is a gift from God.

Many years ago, when I began working in the restaurant industry, I purchased my first set of real working knives. Manufactured by Forschner, they were sturdy, dependable, and relatively inexpensive. Made of stainless steel, they served me well for many years (and in many kitchens).

A chef's knives, by the way, are his personal tools. In a professional kitchen, one never borrows a knife from someone else without asking. A chef's knife is akin to a soldier's rifle or a carpenter's hammer.

Every working day, I carried my knives in a long tool box. I kept the blades sharp, and protected the edges with plastic guards. You might say I was anal-retentive about them, but I know that a sharp knife is not only an efficient knife, but a safe knife as well. One does not need to use excessive force to "push" a dull blade, therefore reducing the chance of slipping. I was taught at a young age that "if you take care of your tools, your tools will take care of you."

While I had often heard of how wonderful it is to use a properly sharpened knife made of carbon steel , I did not know anyone personally who actually used one. The industry standard had long ago shifted to stainless steel, in professional as well as home kitchens, for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps the main reason is the "clean" look of stainless. It does not rust, and knives with synthetic handles may be run through the dishwasher without any ill effects.

Stainless does have its drawbacks, however. It is very hard, and once dull, it is impossible to re-sharpen without laboring at the honing stone. Little dings in the blade do not respond well to the sharpening steel. And a stainless knife does not cut as smoothly as a carbon steel knife, or so I was told.

A couple of years ago, I began my search for a true carbon steel knife. I found many that claimed to be carbon steel, but were really high-carbon stainless. I also discovered that the name "Sabatier" may refer to one of about 4 different knife manufacturers, which may or may not be the famed French cutlery manufacturer. And vintage knives, if they are not completely worn to the back edge by years of sharpening, are hideously expensive. New carbon steel knives, custom made to the user's specifications, can be had for a king's ransom.

One day, I was lucky enough to find a three-knife set, made by Henckels, still in its original box! The knives, a "chef," slicer, and parer, were unused and had only minor spots of surface rust. They were otherwise shiny, just like stainless, with a sheen of oil still clinging to the blade. Still sharp, I honed them further on an Arkansas stone, and finished them off on the steel.

I thought I had used sharp knives before. Wow. The first time I used my new carbon steel knives, I felt I had crossed over into a new world. These things were sharp, without any drag, and they sailed through any food I attempted to cut with them. I could make finer slices than I was ever able to make with my stainless knives.

Over some time, my carbon steel knives have developed a patina, a sort of brownish gray with fine-grained flecks of silver and gold. Is this the color that so many rejected as "dirty looking?" It is a shame that stainless ever gained favor over carbon steel.

I still use my stainless knives for certain things. Carbon steel does not like pineapple very well. And my long scalloped slicer (known as the "Light Saber") still comes in handy for large roasts. In my kitchen, the day-to-day work horse is the carbon steel chef knife. I think the greatest testimonial for carbon steel came from a friend, and fellow chef, while using one of my knives. She said, "Wow, this knife is so sharp, it's nearly effortless. Carbon steel is amazing!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Buyer's Remorse

How many of you Obama voters are now coming to the realization that you have made a big mistake? Instead of change, we now have more of the same - and worse.

Do you wish you could go back in time to that Tuesday in November? Would you, armed with the knowledge of Barack Obama's performance and "accomplishments" in his first 100 days as president, have the grapes to vote against him?

Would you secretly harbor feelings of self-loathing? Would you be afraid your friends would call you a racist because you voted against the first black man to ever have a real shot at the presidency? Would you still find it necessary to punish Republicans for eight years of George W. Bush? Would you still ignore Obama's many associations and friendships with people obviously hostile to our Declaration and Constitution?

It is not too late to stop much of what will come, should there be no forceful opposition. It is not too late to prevent the wholesale destruction of the freedom Americans have enjoyed for over 200 years. Repent and you shall be healed.

Would you have the courage to stand for liberty? Tell me truly.

Happy Erf Day

Maybe you will celebrate by planting a tree, or perhaps by carrying around a couple of prop shovels in your prop-gloved hands after doffing the coat to your Brooks Brothers suit, and rolling up the sleeves on your single-use shirt.
I'm going to bust some CF light bulbs and throw them in my neighbor's illegal trash dump.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Budget Cuts?

Does anyone honestly believe President Obama's hip-wader deep excrement any more?
$100 million is nothing but a drop in the smallest bucket in the billions of buckets that make up his proposed spending:

Graphic from

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Right Wing Extremism

President Obama's Department of Homeland Security, as you likely know, has issued a warning for law enforcement to be on the lookout for right-wing extremist types likely to engage in acts of terrorism. Yes, dear reader, it is Obama's Homeland Security Department. He is the Presdent, after all. (N.B. - I heard Roger Hegecock speak about the memo last week)

Obama and his administration are attempting an Alinsky-style "targeting" and "isolation" of those who are opposed to their tyranny. By lumping law-abiding conservatives in with the nut job collection of Klan freaks, militia wackos, anarchist morons, and Timothy McVeigh/Lee Harvey Oswald wannabees, Obama's Homeland Security Department - and by extraction, the President himself - delegitimizes and vilifies our peaceful, lawful, and constitutional opposition to his administration and its policies.

Our opposition is based in principle. Its foundation is the Declaration and the Constitution. Contrast that with the Obama administration: Theirs is an ideology of fake equality, aversion and opposition to private property, Balkanization rather than assimilation of immigrants both legal and illegal, and an arrogant attitude of moral and intellectual superiority that seeks equivocation rather than the rule of law. Add all that to an ever growing government leviathan, the result is simply expressed as tyranny.

And stop with the "Tea Bagging" comments already. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Quote of the Day

"When the law has exceeded in its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense."

Frederic Bastiat, 1850

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Smart Meters

Imagine sometime in the not-too-distant future, the power company that supplies your home with electricity comes round to install your new "smart" meter to comply with the recent federal legislation. These meters will be able to switch power on and off, control the heating and air conditioning, and regulate power use during peak demand periods to help prevent brown- or black-outs. The new smart meter will save money, too!

Now, imagine if you will, someone like a friend of mine from college. I'll call him Mark.

Mark lived a few steps away from the campus of the Ohio State University in a large old house that had been converted into apartments which were rented to graduate students. The rooms were very large, and the house was not well insulated. Mark was required to pay his utilities himself, but he could not control the thermostat. The first of the winter weather moved in, and Mark's heating bill was more than he could afford.

Rather than move out, Mark decided he would use a small space heater to heat only the room he was occupying at the time. He also placed a small lamp under the thermostat.

The heat from the burning bulb was enough to fool the thermostat into sensing the room to be 75 degrees. The heat never came on except for the few times it became bitterly cold outside. Although he paid a little more for his electricity, it was a significant savings over the gas bill.

While Mark was being frugal, he was nonetheless controlling a thermostat over which he had no "legitimate" control. Are "smart" meters really so smart that they will be able to "know" when someone is manipulating them in an "inappropriate" manner? Short of a federal agent with a gun sitting in your living room, I don't see how the government (federal, or otherwise) will be able to control absolutely one's power usage. But then, energy consumption is not the chief concern. The Statist wants to control you.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

How to Prevent Pirates from Boarding Your Ship Without Using Firearms (Or Swords)

  1. Rig fuel transfer pump with enough hose to reach over side of vessel.
  2. Pump large amount of diesel fuel onto pirate craft.
  3. Ignite flare(s) and toss into pirate craft.
  4. Repeat as necessary.

Note: A flare gun could be used for more accurate placement of flare, but it may be considered a firearm if used in this fashion.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Gay Marriage is Wrong...

I love to write "Gay Marriage is Wrong." Not because I think it is wrong (which it is), but that it exposes the hypocrisy of the Statist. My previous posts on the subject (here, and here) generated more comments than any other posts I have written.

My hypothesis is that Statist homosexuals create a victim class, then force others to confer special status and special rights to them through judicial activism, based on an abnormal behavior in which they choose to engage. Those opposed to the Statist homosexual agenda are typically conservative.

Is it not strange, then, that British homosexuals are more likely to vote Tory, instead of Liberal or Labor? The Statists, long (and loud) the self-appointed saviours of the forgotten minorities, the trodden-upon, the victims of society, are being abandoned by more and more people who wish to be truly free.

Head Like a Hole

What's next? Boot-licking?

Friday, April 03, 2009