Sunday, April 3, 2011

One busy weekend!

This weekend the DIY Mad Scientist had a full plate. It started on Friday night with finishing up rehabbing a firepit and collecting some worm tea fertilizer from the worm composter, Saturday was brushcutting the backyard, priming 6 honey supers, making gingerbread and attending a cookout. Sunday included more yardwork, putting a small fence around the garden bed, and finished off with a steak dinner. Yum!

There will more on the worm composter and garden later, but here is the DIY Mad Scientist's abbreviated guide to steak.

There are many cuts of steak to chose from. For grilling the Mad Scientist prefers the following cuts of steak: Ribeye, Strip Steak, Porterhouse, T-bone and Tenderloin also known as filet mignon. Tonight, I grilled a New York Strip Steak. I find most steaks to be too huge to be a single serving so often I will cook one porterhouse or strip steak to split between two people. That way there's also more room for side dishes!

My favorite thing to marinate my steaks in is a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, worceshire sauce, basil, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic (fresh minced or powder.) I don't have a specific recipe, I just do what looks and smells to be the proportions for my taste. I like to let the steak marinate for at least a half an hour to an hour, at room temperature for the last 20 minutes before it's gonna hit the grill.

Heat the grill up to between 450 - 500 degrees and cook a strip steak over direct heat for 6-10 minutes depending on the level of doneness you desire, turning it once. I do 8 minutes so it just barely hits medium doneness.  After you remove your steak from the grill, allow it to rest for 5 minutes before cooking so that the internal juices can distribute evenly.

For sides tonight, I had baked potato and corn on the cob. The butter boy came out to play with the corn for the first time this season and this year he brought some friends to help out!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You really do get what you pay for.

As, I sit here while my mustard slowly cooks down to it's final consistency on the double boiler I have decided that a post on equipment selection and purchasing is far more important than just explaining how I made the mustard. (I'll get back to the mustard later)
One of my coworkers always says Cheap, Good, and Quick, you only get to pick 2 of them. This is a good rule of thumb for many things in life. I love my kitchen tools and the point of a tool is that it actually works. Any purchase I make usually entails copious amounts of research on functionality, user reviews, features, brand reputation (if applicable), and price comparison. (Let's face it, who doesn't want to get a good deal)

My double boiler pot is one of the few kitchen items that I did not research at all and I hate it. I bought it in December to make mustard to go with my homemade bratwursts. The water boils out of the bottom pot so fast it is ridiculous. When reducing the liquid volume of my mustard it usually requires 2 or 3 refills to the bottom pot with microwaved cups of water to keep it from boiling dry. Suffice it to say that it'll likely be replaced in the next year.

As part of this blog, I will try to include some product reviews and opinions and links to products I like. The first link I have added is Weber Grills. They are the BEST, a man's . . um . . I mean, woman's grill. Their products are quality, innovative and their customer service is hands down first class. I love my Weber gas grill so much that if you read this blog over the summer, you will think that Weber sponsors it.

OK, I better stop about the grill, b/c I could seriously go on forever about it. Some great places to find reviews are the customer review pages on and the equipment reviews section of Cook's Illustrated. Unfortunately the latter is a pay for access site, but at $30 a year, it's a great deal. They have recipes and cooking videos on the site as well. Sometimes has useful consumer reviews as well.

For price comparison sites, I recommend, although they don't have as much kitchen stuff as they do electronics.

So today's lesson I impart to you is do your homework and decide which 2 of the Quick, Cheap, and Good rule suit your needs. Now, I need to go clean out my sock drawer while my cheap, but not good OR quick double boiler plods away at that mustard.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cast of Characters

Before I get too far into this Blog, I should probably do some introductions of people and animals that you will likely see in this blog. First up, me, the DIY Mad Scientist

Mad? Maybe, you the reader can make the final assumption for yourself. I was born and raised in central Virginia and moved to Atlanta in June of 2001. In my family we have dairy farmers, civil engineers, bank folks, elementary school teachers, and school lunch ladies.

Up Next, Andrea Broad, Roller Derby Alias, 18 Hour Broad.
Willing or unwilling victim of my experiments?  You decide. Oh, FYI she has no reservations about me keeping 100,000 stinging insects in our backyard, a tub of earthworms in the sunroom, or a bucket of rotting fish on the deck. 

The Muppets . . . erm . . . dogs

Simon, alias: The Wonderdog

He's super smart, there is no denial of this. Definitely a mama's boy and the if there were mad scientists in the canine world, he would surely be one.  That or an evil super villain.

Stella, Alias: Stella Wella

Yes, she is dumb as a box of rocks, but I love her regardless. She would be the dimwitted accomplice.


She's cute and smart and secretly plotting to take over the world one mini tennis ball at all time.

Godzilla, The ewok in Shih Tzu clothing

Don't  be fooled by the cute, he always gets what he wants. ALWAYS.

Toby and Delia

They are cats, obviously. They are also conspirators in making the life of humans miserable. Despite the fact, I still love them. See  . . . I told you they were evil conspirators.

Mustard should be the food of the gods, not ambrosia.

I won't deny it, I love mustard. I love it with such a passion that I have around 8 different kinds in my fridge on any given day.

I even make mustard. In fact, that's what is on tap in the lab tonight. My friend Nikki is having a cookout this weekend and she wants some of my homemade mustard. The first step is to take mustard seeds and soak them in a mix of beer and vinegar. The beer I am using for this batch is an IPA. Homebrewed IPA to be exact. It is a beer that Andrea and I brewed a couple of months ago that is a clone of Bell's Two-Hearted Ale.

Pic of first step in making mustard - The soak

I have to admit I give mad props to whomever decided that mustard seeds held the potential to create the most delicious condiment ever and also the person who said, " Hey let's boil up this grain, add some yeast, ferment it and drink it" Sometimes crazy begets awesome.

As a side note. I did the first stir of the fish fertilizer tonight. Not too gross smelling yet. Incidentally, one of the "recipes" for it had a warning note that although it is organic, it should not be consumed. In my opinion if you are dumb enough to try to eat it, you should, and hopefully it'll have the same effect as adding some chlorine to the gene pool.

Fun with Fertilizer

This weekend I was in Farmer D's picking up some worms for my worm composter. While perusing the shelves, I saw some fish based organic fertilizer and I picked up one of the pamphlets. The stuff is called "Neptune's Harvest" and it looks like this:
As I'm looking online at this wonder fertilizer once I get home, I see the price for a gallon. $30 or more, depending on where you get it. I am sure it works like a charm, because we know that Native Americans taught the pilgrims about using fish as fertilizer. Unfortunately for Neptune, I don't have that kind of money to buy liquefied fish for my plants.  Enter . . . a truly brilliant idea.


I think I'm just going to whip up my own fish fertilizer. 

A web search reveals that one can indeed make their own fish fertilizer, all search results however, have a warning to the extent that making one's own fish fertilizer is not for the faint of heart, stomach, or nose. Is this warning a deterrent?

I think not.

Sounds more like a challenge to me so after work, I swung by the Dekalb Farmer's Market, and stopped by the seafood counter and bought some Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon trimmings. Upon arriving home, Andrea is in the kitchen putting away dishes out of the dishwasher and I plunk this sack of fish chum down on the counter. She peeks in the bag, thinking I have brought home something delicious, looks confused by the contents and then I tell her my plan about fish fertilizer. She laughs at me and says I am always up to some mad scientist experiment and heads to the gym. 

I proceed to put my brilliant plan into action by whipping out the blender. It is not as easy to liquefy salmon cuttings as you would think and I am amazed the blender stood up to the task. I am sorry to report that I do not have any photos of this salmon smoothie I had just created. After pureeing the salmon, I dumped it into a 5 gallon bucket with shredded newspaper, pureed nori, a 1/2 cup of molasses and a bunch of dried tree leaves. Not too offensive at this point, but now I have to open the lid of the bucket and stir this mixture up every day for the next 2 weeks. We'll see how that goes.

Why a DIY Mad Scientist?

For all you 5 people that have said I need to start a blog, here it is.

First off, the story of how this blog came into existence. I have recently decided to take up beekeeping and as a result, I have been using Facebook as a means to distribute random honey bee facts every day. I've kind of become the propoganda minister of stinging insects. My brainwashing has worked and as a result there has been clamoring for more bee facts, etc.

Unfortunately, on this blog, you get not just the bees, but the entirety of my DIY life: Experiments, successes,  &  failures.