Dinner Time: Sous-Vide Elk

Dinner Time by mikeysklar
Dinner Time, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

This week we made Elk sandwiches. Our sous-vide setup was used to cook out the collagen. I had excellent results by cooking the meat for 10 hours @ 135F and then searing it with a hand held blowtorch.

Elk SandwichElk Sandwich #2Elk Sandwich

Learn to Make French Bread in 5 Minutes


What's Flowering?

What's Flowering? by mikeysklar
What's Flowering?, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our two apricot and peach trees have already started opening their buds. This is scary because our last freeze could be as late as April 15th and the high winds have already begun. The arugula and cauliflower are already bolting.

Neighbor Ken's Broccoli Patch

On our way to a birthday party this weekend we stopped by bottle wall Ken's place to pickup some extra broccoli. It's been a great winter grow season so he had a ridiculous amount of food to give away.

Load Off Annie

Load Off Annie by mikeysklar
Load Off Annie, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our neighbor Smoke is leaving town. We met him at Burningman five years ago and convinced him to move to Truth or Consequences. He is part of the Neon crew who decorates the man each year. He had some gear to unload on his way out of town including a golf cart that has been to burningman eight times and a giant aluminum gas tank. They have been added to our scrap pile.

Taking the High Pointers to Mescal

Our neighbors had some friends in town who were serious hikers. When asked what our favorite hike was we decided it would be easiest to just show them.


Copper Mine Coming to Nearby Community

It's the dreaded mining issue moving into our backyard again. Several times since moving to NM people have said to me with pride, "my kids in the mining school in Socorro," or people when boasting about what's good about New Mexico list the school as though it were something to be proud of. It's not. It sucks. Mining sucks. No one should be proud unless they're working to shut one down. Social pressure has worked since time began, my reply to these comments is, "shame on you."

A copper mine is headed into a community just a few miles south of town. It will destroy the place. it will wreck water, ruin land people and other forms of life will get sick and suffer. It will suck. No one who has anything to do with it should feel proud unless they're fighting to shut it down.

Public comments must be sent before March 9th to be considered:   BLM_NM_LCDO_Comments@blm.gov or fax to: 703 760-4899

I Think the Carrots Like the Compost!

Winter of Healing Arts in T or C

For over a century T or C, NM has been a place for healing and rejuvenation. This winter we've amped that aspect of our community. The local yoga studio De La Luz has run a full month long clinic, $10 half hour body work treatments; and our health food store The Little Sprout is offering an 8 day guided spring fast beginning March 20. This weekend I've enjoyed a three day yoga workshop with Bea, owner of Bhava Yoga in Albuquerque which has been at the Mothership Yoga Lounge in town. Yay!

The thing about cats . . .


Mason Jar Ring Management

Mason Jar Ring Management by mikeysklar
Mason Jar Ring Management, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Like any good homesteader we worship mason jars. They just solve so many problems around storing food. The trouble with them is finding space for the jars themselves plus their accessory lids and rings. While struggling to organize the lids this morning Wendy suggested we find some old paper towel holders from a yard sale. I liked the idea, but did not want to wait. I put together these PVC holders in less than 10 minutes. There is no glue so they easily come apart to remove the rings.

Mason Jar Ring Management #2


Cat in the Cold Frames

Cat in the Cold Frames by mikeysklar
Cat in the Cold Frames, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I can tell spring is coming when I see the cat sleeping in the cold frames. This particular cat Baby IO is infatuated with water and drinks from the irrigation systems whenever they turn on.

New Structures on a Busy Mesa

During our daily run Sesame and I came across some new structures. We were running by Rotory Park on a trail that takes you up the mesa along the Rio Grande. I believe this trail is going to be part of the healing waters trail that connects to the rest of town. Today we saw two rebar structures which look like they might be for shade and benches in the future. They kind of look like giant ocotillo from a distance with their spray painted orange tops.


Favorite Head Phones

Favorite Head Phones by mikeysklar
Favorite Head Phones, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I've been looking for a pair of head phones that can do it all and I think I've finally found them.

- cordless (with reliable bluetooth connection)
- cover ears (not ear buds)
- stay in place while running
- built-in mic for voice phone calls and Siri control
- good sound quality

The Motorola S305's start at $30 (ebay refurb) and do it all. I feel like they give me super human powers as I can touch the side of my ear and ask Siri any question or to do simple tasks.

Cheap Denim Source for Fuel Filtering

When filtering veggie oil we like to use gravity and time to settle out the contaminants. We also use fine paper filters as a final pass which clean the fuel down to 2-micron. In order to reduce the amount of paper filters required used jeans work as a in-between step. I simply tie the denim leg ends off and pour oil through the top of the pants. A piece of rebar suspends the jeans over a 55 gallon drum. This technique is surprisingly effective in how quickly we can filter 100's of gallons of fuel.

Where do we get jeans? Why the thrift store of course. They sell jeans for about $2 each, but it gets better. The thrift store sorts out the jeans that they feel are too damaged to sell and puts them in giant trash bags labelled "for quilting". Each bags contains about a dozen pairs of jeans and costs only $2.

Cheap Denim Source for Fuel Filtering #2


Video: Kale Chips

Our kale has grown to the point where we can start harvesting it. How do we prepare it for eating? Easy, we make kale chips! I like to dip each kale leaf in a brine of chipotle, lime, salt and dried onion then dehydrate it for 4 hours. This video explains the process.

Kale ChipsKale Chips #2

Teaching the Neighbors to Solder

Shouldn't we all be able to solder? I was surprised how fast the kids picked up the idea of keeping a steady hand. I went over the temperature controller they soldered later and it actually worked. The big surprise when teaching is kids is how much trouble they have aligning a 28 pin IC with the holes in the circuit board.

Teaching the Neighbors to Solder #2Teaching the Neighbors to Solder #3

Home Mail Order Business

Home Mail Order Business by mikeysklar
Home Mail Order Business, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

This is a typical scene at our place after a 3-day weekend. All the packages for things we have sold through our store or ebay pile up.


Healing Arts Clinic - February in T or C

For the entire month of February yogi, bodyworker and health professional Wendy Sager Evanson has transformed her bodywork studio, Studio De La Luz, into a walk in natural health clinic. I've visited several times already and found a variety of practitioners, explained what I was looking for and received a treatment for a donation of $10 to $15. The clinic is easy, inexpensive and helpful. Each time I revisit it there's more of a crowd. The word is out. Thanks so much Wendy! For the clinic's schedule and more about the studio check out the De La Luz Blog. 

Treat a Mercedes like a 1/2 Ton Pickup

I transfered some grease yesterday to a new friend in Albuquerque. He picked up 125 gallons and managed to fit it all in his WVO converted 1984 Mercedes 300TD. Keep in mind that he still had two fuel tanks and two occupants so he might have been carrying as much as 1400 lbs. Good thing he just put on new shocks.

Treat a Mercedes like a 1/2 Ton Pickup #2


Meet the PIMP

Meet the PIMP by mikeysklar
Meet the PIMP, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

PIMP - power in my pocket. Wendy named it. My soon to be released battery tester, charger and desulfator. It's designed to charge battery banks from 1-100V at a constant current of .5A. When I'm confident the firmware is stable I'll release the full design files, source code and bom.

Meet the PIMP #2Meet the PIMP #3Meet the PIMP #4

Mad Skills & New Faces in T or C

Every winter here has a personality. This year town feels as though it is maturing. The community that's been here as long as we have (6 years) and longer, feels deep and close, family. There is also an incoming stream of new folks. I've noticed more same sex couples (women in particular) and younger people. We're excited to welcome them all

The latest to arrive is Jeannie and Kyle, nomad artists tired of the road, they settled just down the street from us. They are an excellent example of the kind of folks who can make it in T or C, they have mad skills, they're real makers of things and they sell their wares on the web. It's best not to rely on our local economy for more than the domestic economy of gifting and barter which is great for keeping the cost of living low and avoiding using money but useless when you need to earn American dollars for the few expenses needed to live in this inexpensive local.

Check out their blog and store. Welcome to T or C Kyle and Jeannie! Video

Garbage Irrigation Controller

I know, I know...I said don't take broken irrigation stuff from the dumpsters after a freeze. Last time I grabbed a bunch of cracked solenoid valves and wasted a bunch of time when I realized how they had already cracked from a hard freeze in December. Well, this one might be different. This is a irrigation controller which looks kind of ancient, but might have some life left in it.

Return to Sidewinder

Return to Sidewinder by mikeysklar
Return to Sidewinder, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We can't get enough of this hike. It's beautiful and popular with the locals.

Return to Sidewinder #2Return to Sidewinder #3Return to Sidewinder #4

Morning Fog

Morning Fog by mikeysklar
Morning Fog, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We just had a great day of rain. It was dark and gloomy all day, but we have learned to love that kind of weather as it is rare in our region. This morning we woke up to a light fog which quickly burned off with the morning sun.


Professional Prototype Boards Arrived

My capacitive charger kit is one step closer. The professionally printed prototype PCBs have arrived. Whew, that's a lot of P's. I'll be soldering them up and doing some testing before placing a bulk order for full spec PCBs.

VD Dinner

VD Dinner by mikeysklar
VD Dinner, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Had a nice valentines day dinner with neighbor Laura and Wendy. It was a real 5 course meal which I forgot to photograph in it's entirety. The sous-vide carrot and parsnips and challah bread were my contributions. I forgot to add the sugar to the sous-vide bag and was a 1/2 a teaspoon high on salt on the bread. It was good enough.

VD Dinner #2

I Need a Drink

I Need a Drink by mikeysklar
I Need a Drink, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Sesame sniffed this sign out the other morning. It was left outside our front fence.


Help with Health in T or C

In T or C local shop keeper and herbalist Yarrow Mackenzie offers desert dwellers more than a sweet little health food shop and a healthy lunch. Anyone can stroll over to her store, The Little Sprout and get advice about health and diet. Her expertise is in herbal medicine and nutrition. On the spot Yarrow make up tinctures and remedies, teas and suggests nuanced fasts. It would be easy to take this gift for granted. In the city advice this good would, assuming it could be found, cost me a hundred bucks. I might even have to wait and set up an appointment. Yarrow is a small town treasure.

This week I nonchalantly mentioned that I thought I had congestion in my gallbladder and that my liver was sluggish based on how I felt and on line reading. An acupuncturist also confirmed the belief. Yarrow effortlessly offered up the following simple cleanse which I did right away and made me feel immediately better. I'm posting it here to share in case you need it.

For three nights just before going to bed mix the juice of a grapefruit with three tablespoons of olive oil. Swig. Go to bed immediately (so your laying down) and tuck your right leg up to your chest while laying on your right side for ten minutes or so. That's it! In the morning you will no doubt notice that your gallbladder is being flushed. Thanks Yarrow.

For those who live in T or C, keep an eye out for a spring juice fast Yarrow will be offering.


Virgin Heat

Virgin Heat by mikeysklar
Virgin Heat, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Probably not the best idea to purchase your media from yard sales.

Mormon Tea Harvest

Mormon Tea Harvest by mikeysklar
Mormon Tea Harvest, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

This is the best time of year to harvest ephedra. The plants are preparing to bloom, the color is deep green, potency is high and the little spikes are minimal. We went into the desert and picked a large quantity mormon tea to be sold in dry leaf and tincture forms.

New Kitchen Sink Faucet

New Kitchen Sink Faucet by mikeysklar
New Kitchen Sink Faucet, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our old kitchen sink faucet died. It started to leak and was so mineralized that it appeared to be beyond recovery. We had a spare on standby and swapped it. It took me nearly two hours to complete due to the limited space and visibility.

Dead Body at the Park

Dead Body at the Park by mikeysklar
Dead Body at the Park, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Sesame and I took of for our morning run only to return home in record time. The park was closed off with three police cars. When we tried to enter a police officer waved us away. It seems a dead body was found. No information has been released so far as to who died and the cause.


Quickie Eye Pillow

Due to a lot of time spent writing, my computer time has increased by hours each day. I feel eye strain as a result. I made a quick eye pillow out of a scrap of silk and a woven textile  left over from other projects, filled the pouch with rice and ahhhh, instant relief. Like palming, the pillow relieves eye strain. The mild pressure of the sack feels great. The whole project took only 10 minutes.