Friday, September 30, 2011

Preserving Apricots - Camp Chef Explorer Stove Review

The Missus has finished canning for this year. For those that haven't done any canning and preserving, it is a busy and hectic period. Obviously, it is only cost effective to can or preserve your own food if you can purchase the fruits or vegetables in bulk at harvest, when the prices are the lowest. However, this also means that you end up with cases of fresh fruit that necessarily must be processed quickly before they start to spoil.

Although we can and preserve a variety of foods, we generally concentrate on one or two items each year to can or preserve in large quantities. Those items will last us for two or three years until we are low enough to do another batch of that particular fruit or food item. (I say food item, because a couple years ago, we happened onto a deal on chicken, and ended up canning chicken meat that year). We also typically preserve a few other items in smaller quantities.

This year, the "big item" for canning was apricots. The majority of the apricots we canned. One of the nice things about canning fruits is that, because of the high acid content, you can can them using a "cold pack" canner--essentially a large pot that you place the jars of fruit in and boil. Most vegetables, meats, stews, and so, must be canned using a pressure cooker. Some of the apricots were processed into jam (preserves), and the rest sliced up and dried in dehydrators.

Earlier this summer, we purchased a Camp Chef Explorer camping stove (note: I am not compensated by Cabela's, but simply provide the link for convenience). While we had purchased the stove for camping, and as a backup in case utilities were interrupted, it proved very useful for canning.

As you can see in the picture, the stove has two burners. It attaches to a standard propane tank (not pictured). Each burner has separate controls, which are a simple knob. (See below for a closeup). As you can see from the photo above, the stove also comes with wind screens that simply slip over the lips on the sides of the stove.


 You can also order fold out shelves (the red shelves in the photos), that fold down over the top to act as a cover. (See below). I would definitely recommend getting the shelves since it makes the whole unit more convenient to use, and helps keep debris (or children) from getting into the burners after you're done using the stove, but have not yet put it away.


There are other accessories you can get. We purchased a flat skillet that covered one of the burners (there are skillets available that cover the entire top, but we didn't really need anything that big).
 
The stove allow us to move much of the canning operations outdoors, which kept the house cooler, and made the mess easier to manage. In addition to the shelves on the canner, we also put up a folding table to hold jars and other items. With two large burners we were able to run two cold pack canners at the same time. Our indoor range is electric, and I have to say that the propane burners were much easier to adjust and maintain the heat.

Overall, we really liked the stove and were pleased with its functionality and heat output. It quickly heated large pots of water and proved that it was equal to a standard kitchen range.

For those of you interested in canning, here are some links to some on-line canning resources:

"How to Can Anything"

"National Center for Home Food Preservation"

Links to PDFs of a canning guide by the USDA (courtesy of Modern Survival Blog).

Monday, September 26, 2011

New York City Police Commissioner Claims the NYPD Could Take Down an Airplane

Story here. Basically, the NY Police Commissioner is touting the capabilities of the NYPD's counter-terrorism capabilities, which includes the ability to take down an airplane (although we are assured that they would never take down a jet-liner, wink-wink). The story states that this is with rifles shooting .50 BMG, that can be mounted in and shot by someone in a helicopter. Somewhat downplayed in the article is that the NYPD has "intelligence agents" stationed in foreign cities. The reason for all of this--the NYPD does not trust the federal government to provide for the City's defense.

There are so many problems with this, it is hard to begin. First, there is the whole "militarization of the police" evidenced here. Rifles shooting the .50 BMG serve two purposes: in the hands of civilians, they are used for long-distance target shooting; in the hands of the military, they are intended to be used as "anti-material" rifles--i.e., tools to destroy equipment and lightly armored vehicles. I can guarantee that the police won't be using it for target shooting. Which poses the question of why a civilian law enforcement agency for a municipal corporation feels it needs to be able to destroy a lightly armored vehicle. Police are "law enforcement" agencies, not military forces. Let's not lose that distinction.

Second, I understand that a police force might want to stop a car or a boat, but a plane? That brings a whole different complexity into the equation, such as what happens when the plane suddenly loses air velocity and, consequently, lift, over the City. Or does the NYPD intend to exercise this capability outside of its jurisdiction?

Third, what absolute HUBRIS to place its officers overseas to gather intelligence. The NYPD has no jurisdiction overseas. Its officers are not protected by diplomatic immunity. They do not represent the United States. Surely, if Arizona cannot enforce immigration within its own borders because it usurps the federal government's authority over immigration, the NYPD should not be able to usurp the federal government's exclusive authority over national defense.

The basic problem here is that New York City thinks it is a city-state, rather than merely a city.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Asian Stocks Falling

Report that the Asian Markets, which had already taken a beating, are continuing to fall. Some analysis (based on yesterday's markets in Asia) here and more analysis on China's economic fragility here and here.

Faster than Light? (Updated)

Scientists believe that they have measured sub-atomic particles moving faster than light in a vacuum. (Story here). If true, it could have tremendous implications for physics and technology.

In other news, China has announced a critical advance in secure communications using quantum teleportation.

October 16, 2011 -- Scientists offer various explanations of the experiment's results that don't involve FTL neutrinos. (Link).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

American Plans for War With Great Britain

Recently, I posted about how war is more likely to arise between nations with close physical or economic ties than those with loose ties. Illustrating this concept is an article from the UK's Daily Mail describing war plans drawn up the United States in the 1930's against Great Britain. It's an interesting read.

Do We Finally Have an Accurate Analogy?

When applying historical lessons to current events, it should be obvious that you need to draw on the correct historical analogies. The current recession is most often compared to the Great Depression (probably more out of the President's desire to appear as FDR, and historical ignorance, than any other reasons). However, Saleno Zito discusses what may be a more appropriate analogy: the 1890's. Says Zito:
Both eras feature fantastic wealth created for a privileged few, fiercely competitive and highly partisan elections, an ineffectual and seemingly corrupt government and an angry, disillusioned electorate.

And both have had populist movements -- the Progressives of the late 1800s, the tea party of today -- born of economic dislocation that has pressured the status quo, Genovese said.
Also:
"I think the analogy between the 1890s and today is better than the analogy with the Great Depression that we often focus on," said Hugh Rockoff, a Rutgers University economics professor. "One of the many similarities is the real estate crisis. There was a subprime mortgage problem in the 1890s that was very similar to what precipitated the recent crisis."

(h/t, Instapundit).

Life Imitates Art

From MSNBC: "A suicide bomber hiding explosives in his turban assassinated former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who headed a government peace council trying to negotiate with Taliban insurgents."

Reminds me of a cartoon I once saw...

(From the drawing reproduced at the Christian Law Journal).