Monday, October 25, 2010

Homemade Bacon!

After reading another post online about homemade bacon, I knew I had to give it a spin. After a quick trip to the local butcher shop, I came home with 3 1/4 pounds of pork belly, not prettiest cut of meat by any means...

Apparently all there is to do is load it up with kosher salt and some spices. I went with black pepper corns and garlic, as I read it would give the bacon a more "savory" flavor. The reason it's sitting in a drying rack is because as the salt draws out the moisture, it will begin to drip delicious pork juice, mmmmmm, and at the low low price of $4, it was perfect for the job!

And that's it! I popped that bad boy in the fridge and added some more salt each day. I had taken pictures each day to show it's progress, but the meat itself really didn't change at all. So five days later, I ended up with a nice chunk of cured pork belly!

Now you might be thinking, hmmmm, that darkened up a bit...That's exactly what I thought too, and after poking around a bit and finding that some of the thinner areas were a little tough, I made a realization. I almost made beef jerky instead of bacon. Looking back I'm pretty confident that I was a bit heavy on the salt following the initial application. This pulled TOO much moisture out, and caused the meat to somewhat shrivel and dry. But no worries, this only applied to about 35-40 % of the meat.

Next was to smoke the cured belly for about 3-4 hours. Slight problem, I don't own a smoker, but who cares, I'll just broil it! After a solid 3 hours on a low heat in the oven, I pulled it out and carved off the layer of skin, and behold, bacon!

I sliced it up into the thinnest slices I could manage, which was not thin at all in terms of bacon... (The tiny strips on the left are the result of the over salting)

A sample strip on the skillet...

So how'd it taste? Great! But there was a slight problem...Much like the salt, I had gone overboard on the seasoning, which the fatty parts of the bacon really soaked up. So if you got a leaner slice (lol lean slice of bacon, yeah...), it was pretty awesome, but the fatty bits had a real punch of pepper.

Overall, I'm glad I undertook the task, but all in all I can really only call this a moderate success due to my spice overkill. But hey, now I've got 3 pounds of homemade, sometimes super peppery bacon :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Homemade lens (fisheye/tilt shift?)

Finding myself with some free time before Friday night festivities, I set out to do SOMETHING with this Nikon I had purchased a while ago. I originally wanted to do a tilt shift lens, but with the huge telescoping lens that came with the camera, it wasn't exactly ideal for such a mod. I really had no idea where to start, so I kind of man handled the lens a bit and managed to separate it into 2 different pieces. Again, not really knowing what to do, I messed around with looking through the lenses, holding them at different distances, hoping to find something that looked cool, and I did. By taking the top cap of the lens and flipping it, I was able to create an effect similar to a fisheye, but instead of giving that bubble feel, it would increasingly blur. I also noticed that the closer the cap was to the lens, the sharped the image got.

Here's the cap sitting on top of the lens...
At this point it only made sense to bust out the dremel and get manly on it.
The end result was that I could now place the cap directly against the lens, giving me a fairly crisp shot.Now it was just a matter of attaching the cap to the lens, which clearly was done the only way that made sense, tons of tape. Not just any old tape though, this was the perfect opportunity to use teflon tape! For those unaware, I'm bat shit crazy for this stuff. If there is one thing you should always have handy, it's teflon tape. Now my original intent was to simply hold the cap down, nothing more, but thankfully the wonders of teflon tape presented me with something much more amazing...A tilt shift lens! Now it doesn't allow for too much of an angle, but I get a solid tilt for not intending on even have it as an option. I tore out this morning and took a quick stroll around town just burning the leftover film I had and here is what we got.

This one was taken pre lens modding, tossed it in for comparison.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


So I hardcore fell behind both on progress and updating the blog. I did manage to get a few things done, and round up even more projects to take on, here's a quick overview...

As far as the bike goes, I got mirrors! It's finally street legal!
Of course though that doesn't mean everything is 100% on it. I've been fouling plugs like crazy, and sought out the expertise of Rob at Cycle Recycle downtown. He recommended pulling the jets out of the bike and checking to see if the genius who owned this bike before me stepped the sizing up. The jets are what set the max amount of gas that enters the engine. If these are too big, too much gas gets in, which runs the engine rich, which fouls plugs. So I head home, pop the float caps off, and remove the jets...The carbs with the float caps and jets removed...The jet...
A look inside...
As you can see, I had 120s in there, and when I told Rob that, he pretty much laughed at me. So I picked a new set of 115s and popped 'em in. The bike started up like a dream. Rode it to work that following day (and froze my ass off in the morning), and on the way back it felt like it was starting to lose a little power. I let the engine cool and popped the plugs out, only to find that once again, they were fouled. Ugh. So, back to Rob this past weekend and now I've got a slew of things to check. Thinking about retiring it for the season and beginning the impossible process (for me at least) of taking it apart and doing body work. We'll see how the next few weeks go weather wise...

On the new project front, I found this giant red menace at Goodwill for a whopping $20...
I've already got a PC with a fresh Windows XP install and loaded up with ROMs, MAME, and a front end.

From here I still need to get a TV tuner for the computer, an actual TV to fit inside the cabinet, and I'll have to rig up controls somehow. I had originally thought to build a keyboard emulator, with the hopes that I could get back into microcontrollers, but that seems like it might be a whole project in itself. I'll probably just solder straight to a keyboard logic board like I did on the Donkey Kong machine, as it was both cheap and fairly easy.

On the topic of microcontrollers, I did order a PICKit to program PIC micros, so hopefully I can start back into that. I saw a project where a guy used a micro to send commands into an NES sound chip and use it as a synthesizer, so perhaps you'll see some updates regarding that. Anyway, that's where I stand right now, expect to see some updates on the arcade machine in the next week!