Alas, but a man must face his waning energy.  Six years ago I started this blog on my own server.  It was an experiment in maintaining an auto-prosaic chronology.  I’m happy to say it was successful.

But maintaining the server itself has proven exhausting, and while it has provided me many lessons, I must acquiesce to my age and accept that I now have more money than time.

I’m not upset with that shifting ratio.

So I am migrating this blog to a hosted service.  Its domain is at least now finally appropriate for the name of the blog itself:


All content will now be stored there.  Eventually the redirect will be automatic, and little change should be apparent to the end user regardless.

See you on the other side.


Meat Myths

Little knowledge is firsthand, especially of the internet variety.  Historical pithy quotes are especially notorious, and usually taken out of context, or lost in translation – then regurgitated with finality in an argument or rhetorical discussion, with the effect of all parties present concluding that their interlocutor is an idiot.  The conversation then ends, with the idiot now deluded into thinking their witty prose triumphant, when in reality the other parties are just choosing to disengage from an idiot.

But occasionally the idiot finds a like mind, and the quote spreads like chain mail, its original meaning lost until someone, finally, uncovers the primary text.  But by then it’s too late.  The false quote has entered public knowledge, even if factually incorrect, and continues to perpetuate.

See the Light

Cooking knowledge is not immune to “factual” misinformation.  So for the benefit of the internet, I’ve compiled a short list of common falsities that the internet’s puerile mind can digest.  Falsities I’ve seen repeated so frequently that they warrant callout, because they’ve intersected with my hobbies and I can give demonstrable firsthand knowledge.  Here they are:

  1. Smashing burger meat
  2. Cooking meat cold
  3. Flipping bacon


First, the oft-repeated advice: “Never smash a cooking burger down with a spatula.”  The reasoning?  It makes the burger dry.

I think this advice originates from the declining quality of commercial grinds, wherein the fat is added after the fact to extruded lean beef.  This system makes fat content easy to measure and highly adjustable, but the fat isn’t part of the grind and, once heated, liquefies out and separates.  This makes it easy to push out with manual force, thus smashing burgers makes for dry burgers.

Add to this problem that commercial grinds hold most of their moisture as added water (rather than naturally within the cells), and any little pressure will rapidly dehydrate the end product.

The system by which grinds are “assembled” creates a patty whose meat, fat, and water content are only held together by the mixing process – and easily denatures with over-handling.  Thus, don’t smoosh it.

…Fuck Yeah!

A higher grind quality doesn’t suffer nearly as badly from these issues.  And in fact benefits from being smashed to intentionally dry it.

Also, not all cooking methods suffer the same problems.  Smash burgers are typically made on griddles at lower temperatures than grills.  The lower temperature prevents the meat from crisping as completely, and holds the excess fat and moisture within the burger due to the flat cooking surface, which further prevents crisping and makes for a greasy product.  Smashing a burger of quality grinds overcomes these limitations without over-drying, with the added bonus of making a cool flat diner patty.

I’d never smash a burger on a charcoal grill.  That would dry it out and cause flareups.  But it’s always better to take the smash approach when using my griddle or cast iron.

Of course, if you insist on buying cheap commercial grinds, then don’t smash your burger – fine.  But don’t say universally to never smash a burger under any circumstances.  That just tells your guests that you’re feeding them cheap meat and you don’t know how to cook.

Setting out meat

I find it especially amusing when I hear this one: “Meat should be room temperature before cooking.”  Ew.  Leave perishable food in the danger zone for hours?  The reasoning: even cooking.

Here’s why this is dumb:

  1. Uneven cooking is often desirable.
  2. Uneven cooking, when undesirable, is usually just the result of using too high a temperature.

Say I want something seared without overcooking it.  Consider again the humble burger.  How does one accomplish a crispy outer layer with a juicy interior?  Why, cook it cold of course!  I even partially freeze my burgers before they hit the grill.

And what about a roast?  I’m not leaving a 10lb turkey on the counter to hit room temperature.  And I’ve never seen a turkey recipe that calls for high heat.  The cold meat issue has never been an issue.  It’s been long figured out.  It’s okay to cook cold meat!

And consider smoking meat.  Starting cold lets the meat stay in the smoker longer.  So if you want really smoky smoked meat, no setting it out before cooking.

Flipping bacon

This one I just plain don’t get: “Only flip bacon once for even cooking.”  I don’t get it because it’s as incorrect as incorrect can be.  Unless you’re oven-cooking, which I think is blasphemous for my own reasons, pan-cooked bacon curls down, lifting the center of the slice.  The edges burn while the middle stays raw.  Constant flipping places the middle of the up side down, whereby the curling process repeats and is soon lifted, requiring another flip.

Maybe this advice came from oven bacon, or those who use a bacon press.  But whatever the reason, it’s now accepted as universal fact, and leads to burnt and raw bacon with the classic pan fry method.


Don’t blindly accept cooking advice.  It can lead to lackluster results, but more importantly it can be a food safety issue.  But most important of all, it can make you look like a real doofus.


The Way is Shut

The Dads do not suffer the dogs to pass.

Easement Acres gets its share of odd projects.  And this time it’s for muddy paw mitigation.

Say it’s nice enough to leave the door open.  Say I want to enjoy the deck.  Say I also want to let the dogs enjoy the weather because I’m an awesome dog dad.  But also say that the backyard isn’t dry, and say the dogs like to run and I can’t keep grass growing back there so it’s’ a mud pit.  And finally, say that politely instructing dogs to not leave the deck has little effect.  What to do?

Simple.  Shove a kiddie pool against the stairs and wedge it with the grill.

Or, something slightly less trashy…

A gate!

Not a novel solution I suppose.  Somewhere along the line someone figured out barriers need access points and invented such a device.  But I still had to create one that fit my exact needs, so I still get man points!

Behold, my adjustable retainer! The bolt can be loosened to account for changing tolerances.
And another fine application of an existing invention.
A gravity latch. Oooooo.

The whippet has since thanked me by peeing on the floor.  But what she hasn’t realized yet is that I can also lock her in the yard, thus depriving her of deck furniture cushions in the sun once the weather warms.  We’ll see who has the last laugh then!

Naughty dog projects.


String Lights

I’m not sure if we’re going for a roadside shanty theme, but our growing string light setup is certainly more pleasant to look at from afar than the standard suburban system of single-bulb external illumination.  The overlapping fields of small-lumen bulbs provide a less invasive experience to the human eye, which I’m finding quite superior to everyone else’s practice of buying the brightest bulbs available to replace their standard garage and patio fixtures.

These are people who’ve forgotten how to use their outdoor space, and in an act of suburban paranoia, take crime-reduction advice to an extreme.  Yes, illuminating your entire property with theater stage lights will indeed make any criminals visible, but someone still has to see the criminal to know he’s there, and that system relies on other people in the neighborhood.  But with lights so bright now, I’m gradually planting bushes and constructing barriers to block those critical views.  You might have sufficient light to land helicopters, but now no one can see your yard to report crime, including you, because you’re inside.

Also I hate you now, because you’re making my own outdoor space less relaxing.

But enough of the grumbling.  Here’s our new deck lights!

It does make things a little cozier.  The prior lights were strung along the eaves, but the effect was a backlight that brought the deck in rather than inviting its full space.  I’m looking forward to their shining through the hydrangeas.

But waste not!  The old lights got a renewed purpose on our front porch.

Both sets are on light-sensing timers, so bonus in that I don’t have to remember to turn on lights for delivery services either.

All in all, their aesthetics might suggest rustic homeliness, but I’ll take the alternative to the typical sterile prefab over-lit house theme in these here parts.

Also I make good crab cakes.



I want to shoot neighborhood cats sooooo bad.


Okay, so I just don’t want cats on my property.  I find this to be a very reasonable request.  Yet, in the internet debate over cats being allowed to roam unrestricted outside, the arguments against this practice focus on the dangers posed to the cats themselves, which is still a self-centered argument, even if it’s on the against side.  It overlooks what should be the prime reason: it’s rude to other people.

Even if letting your cat outside wasn’t inherently dangerous, it’s still pissing and shitting in my vegetable garden and digging things up.  It’s being destructive to my property and hobbies, and potentially passing infectious diseases into the produce I eat.  Under no condition would a rational person consider this okay.

And yet – there they are.

And it turns out that the problem was worse than I thought, revealed to me after my garden camera install.

…And that’s just one day.

But I’ve ranted about roaming cats before.  No need to go through that futile discussion again.  Instead, I decided to find a preventative measure that was more likely than changing a cat owner’s behavior.

Although there are other animals I wish to deter, like this skunk
…and some of the squirrel population (but it was fun to talk to them through the camera).

Instead, I invested in a motion-activated ultrasonic alarm.  I had limited expectations, but I haven’t caught any more cats on camera in the two days since I installed it!  So I bought two more.  It seems feasible that I can at last create a cat-free perimeter.  The 3rd one I’ll run at a higher frequency and see if that does anything to the squirrels.  That’d be a double win after last year’s tomato patch decimation.

And the camera worked for one of its intended purposes.  I love it when a plan comes together.