Friday, November 28, 2008

Frying a Turkey ~ Day 1

Frying a Turkey ~ Day 1: Preparing the turkey

The first thing to do when preparing to fry a turkey is to plan ahead. First thing to be considered is the maximum size the turkey fryer can safely cook. Ours happens to be 14 pounds, so when I was shopping I was sure to check the weight of the birds. I ended up choosing 2 fairly nice less expensive Butterball brand birds that each weighed about 13.5 pounds. I cooked one already for Thanksgiving, but saved this one for the weekend. Frozen turkeys need anywhere from 2 to 3 days to fully defrost while refrigerated. They can not be left out to thaw. I prefer fresh turkeys for this reason.

It takes a lot of oil to cook a turkey. We picked up a 5 gallon container of peanut oil. I think we used about 4 in the fryer. So it's good practice to be sure there is lots of oil on hand as not to be caught short.

The first step I undertook was obviously unpacking the turkey and preparing it for injection. I removed the packed in giblets and neck and then cleaned it thoroughly inside and out with running cold water then allowed a moment for excess water to run off and out of the bird. In order to allow the marinade to really get to soak into the meat I injected the turkey this evening, about 24 hours in advance of when I plan to fry it tomorrow night.

While a fried turkey alone is probably quite delicious, we prefer ours to be flavored. In the conventional oven baking method many people use stuffing inside the turkey to help promote flavor and keep the bird moist during cooking. Well with frying you can't exactly use stuffing, and as for moisture, it's no problem since it is never exposed to air during the cooking process. Fried turkey is probably one of the most delicious and moist servings I've ever had. So in order to provide additional flavor in frying we inject marinade directly into the flesh of the turkey. In this particular case we've selected Lawry's lemon pepper marinade as seen in the picture above. You can also see the device we use to inject the marinade into the turkey. The Crisco pure vegetable oil was used purely to lubricate the injection plunger. I wiped a liberal amount around that yellow sealing ring to allow it easy fluid motion once inserted into the tube. Without the oil the plunger can become excessively difficult to use, jam, and sometimes the sealing ring can come off the plunger completely. To help allow the marinade to pass more easily through the injector needle I cut it with a little bit of water. About 4 parts marinade to 1 part water.

I put the mixture in a measuring cup, primarily to keep the marinade to water ratio correct as I was mixing it. Once I had it all stirred up and ready to inject I pushed the plunger of the injector all the way down, inserted the needle into the cup of mixture, and drew the plunger up slowly to fill the syringe. The mixture contains small amounts of solids, mostly pepper. These can be filtered out before hand, but they add so much flavor and removing them would be a shame. With these solids present they can sometimes jam when entering the needle. I would just eject a little back into the cup and then start pulling again to loosen most of the jams. In the 2 cases of severe jams I had I emptied the mixture in the syringe back into the cup then placed the needle in a bowl of fresh water and used vigorous but not overly forceful plunging to dislodge the offending blockage.

On to the injecting. During all injections I used the same procedure. I pushed the needle all the way into the meat and then slowly withdrew it while gently pushing the plunger to leave behind a trail of marinade. In the rare case I got a blockage in the needle from a solid in the mixture I simply pulled the needle all the way out, pulled on the plunger a little, and then resumed. This action cleared all blockages I had while injecting the marinade into the turkey. I used about a half a cup of mixture per breast, so from the approximately 1.8 cups of total mixture I had from that bottle mixed with water, the breasts got a full cup of it in total.

I just love the dark meat of most any poultry. So of course I was sure to get an ample amount of the marinade into the legs and thighs as well. Here I am lifting the leg up after I've already injected it so that I can get access to the thigh beneath it. I used about 80% of the remaining mixture after doing the breasts on both legs and thighs. The last remaining little bit went into the wings. After frying the tips are very crispy, but I don't marinate them. I do inject the drummette and the link between it and the tip.

And here it is after it had been completely injected. A little marinade had escaped from the injection sites. This is pretty typical. Any extra bit of marinade that was in the cup which I could not get into the syringe I just dumped into the chest cavity. It was probably less than an ounce in total.

And here it is all wrapped up in aluminum foil ready to placed in the fridge. I put it in the fridge where it will continue to marinate for about 24 hours before I remove it tomorrow to fry it.

I'll document the frying process and post about it here, probably on Sunday. Happy belated Thanks Giving and have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Interesting Things About Coins #1

Interesting Things About Coins is a series where I will go through my own personal coin collection every now and again, photograph some of them, and then post about them here with interesting facts about them.

First off I'm going to start with the oldest and most interesting coin in my collection. This is an original true to life uncut 8 reales coin. These are often times referred to as a COB or pieces of 8, and also called "pirate money" because it was treasure just like this coin which the pirates would plunder merchant and official ships for.

The reason it is referred to as a COB is because these coins were minted in the most crude of ways. A chunk of silver approximately the correct weight was simply cut off a block and then slammed in between 2 dies with a hammer. The resulting coin was a roughly shaped chunk of silver with somewhat recognizable items on the surface in varying degrees of detail which often varied over the surface from one side of the coin to the other depending upon how it was struck between the dies. This crude method of mintage made it possible to create the coins fairly easily. If the coin stilled weighed more than the desired amount the minter would just cut away a small portion of the silver to make it the standard weight. Of course this action only helped to warp the twisted coin even further.

These coins are also very commonly called pieces of 8. The reason for this is quite simple. If the holder of a coin purchased an item that only cost a portion of the coins value the seller would simply cut the appropriate amount from the coin and return the rest to the buyer. Many coins were halved, quartered, and then even cut again into eighths.

The history of this particular coin is part of what makes it so amazing to own it. This coin is from the El Camino Real Hoard and was found buried on the Portobelo Trail in Panama. It was minted circa 1630 in Potosi, Boliva. How the treasure got there no one is really sure. I would speculate that it was hidden there by pirates who were never able to return to reclaim it for some reason.

This is certainly a fantastic coin, the crown of my collection. I've always been glad I picked it up when the opportunity presented itself to me and have never once regretted buying it.

Another interesting coin I picked up at the same time and same place as the 8 reales coin above is this fantastic specimen of an 1808 Carolus IIII 4 reales coin. I don't know nearly as much about its history, but I'm sure it has seen its fair share of adventure and plunder in its 2 century lifespan. Hopefully it will remain a part of my collection for a long time to come.

Well that's all I really have in the way of older Spanish coins. I have one more somewhere in the collection, but that's about all the mention it is worth.

Next up is this interesting relic of the past. "PURE COPPER PREFERABLE TO PAPER" is what it says around the outside of the obverse. In the middle of the reverse is simply "HALF PENNY TOKEN". And then on the obverse it says "TRADE NAVIGATION". The coin was minted in 1913 likely in Ireland or the United Kingdom. It was then transported to New Scotland, what is now the East coast of Canada, to fulfill a lack of coinage in the region. It seems this particular coin was only minted in 1812 and 1813. I love interesting and historic coins like this. They always have a story to tell about the economy in a certain region, this one being the Maritime area if modern day Canada.

While still under British rule in 1850, the Bank of Upper Canada was permitted to begin distribution of its own currency in the form of half penny and one penny bank tokens due to a severe shortage of currency in the province. The first batch from 1850 was actually minted in London and shipped to Upper Canada in 1851. From 1852 until the final mintage in 1857 the coins were minted at Heaton's Mint in Birmingham England due to extreme pressure and time restraints placed on the London mint. In 1857 the coin was canceled because Canada was strongly considering switching to a decimal based monetary system. It's an interesting part of British colony and Canadian history and is sought after by collectors of British Empire coins world wide.

In 1823, and again in 1824, 1832, 1840 and 1843, the government of Nova Scotia minted these coins without any authority from Britain. I couldn't really find out much more about this coin. It is interesting to me because it has a portrait of a young Queen Victoria on the obverse. One of the first old Canada bank tokens I've noticed which features her.

This penny is one of the first in Canada's new decimal monetary system. I've always been very found of it because it is in very good condition and it represents Canada as a province. Also notice that the portrait of Queen Victoria is of her at a noticeably older age. Canada did not become an independent confederation until 8 years after this coin was minted, in 1867. in 1858 many of these one cent coins were minted but never distributed. The following year the London mint simply re stamped the 9 over the 8 in the date. I am pretty sure of the many variations of the 1859 Canada one cent that this is of the double punch variety. If you happen to know more about this particular coin please leave a comment and let me know more about it, I would love to hear from you!

This just happens to be the final Canadian penny on which Queen Victoria appears on the obverse and the last coin I'm going to talk about in this post. There is nothing terribly special about the coin otherwise. Queen Victoria herself appears older yet again in her portrait than on the 1859 coin shown above. It had been very interesting to follow the evolution of the Canadian penny from the early 1800's into the early 1900's. I have been very fortunate to have been able to acquire these fantastic specimens for my own collection. Getting many of them just required being in the right place at the right time.

I have so many other coins, tokens, and replicas I want to talk about! These include many classic Canadian and US coins, silver coins, and lots of other neat things. But for now I'm going to leave it at this. I will do a similar sequence with my United States penny collection in a future publication of Interesting Things About Coins.

Before I leave I wanted to leave you with one last special treat. Please enjoy this X-3D Stereoview image of the 8 reales coin I posted first in the publication:

View my original image on -->

Cross Eyed Stereoview is an extensive publication about X-3D with a tutorial on how to view images like this in 3 dimensions using only your own eyes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cross Eyed Stereoview

Cross Eyed Stereoview, often shortened to X-3D or just X3D, is a fantastic and rewarding way to look at specialized pairs of images in 3 dimensions, or 3D, right on a monitor or printed sheet of paper.

Since I will likely be including many stereoview images in my future posts, I wanted to provide a brief but fairly detailed tutorial on how to view these fantastic x-3d images yourself right on your monitor.

First I will provide a few very basic exercises for you to familiarize yourself with how to view an X-3D image. If you are already familiar with X-3D stereoview images and how to look at them there is little in the post for you. Please feel free to skip down to the end and view the marvelous sample images I've provided as part of this material. Feel free to read my tutorial and provide input if you would like.

Let's start with the simplest of simple practice exercises. Below are 2 letter "O"s between lines. All you have to do is look directly at the line between the "O"s and then start slowly crossing your eyes until the 2 "O"s seem to become one "O" between 2 lines. Depending on how your eyes and mind work you may see sort of semi transparent "O"s on either side of the lines. This is normal and you should try to ignore them, concentrating only on the central "O". If it is blurry keep looking at it and concentrate on it until it comes into focus. Don't let your eyes diverge, keep that center image crisp and sharp.


Okay! If you can do that, fantastic! All you have to do is do it again here. I've exaggerated the distance between the "O"s considerably. This will mean you'll have to cross your eyes a little farther in order to focus on the center "O". Go ahead and practice it now using the exact same methods as in the previous exercise.


Can you view the center "O" in that previous exercise clearly? If not just go back and keep trying. It's not too tricky and once you get the hang of how to do it this will become second nature to you, just like looking at a normal flat photograph. If you've got it then let's move on! Time to experience your first 3D effect from a very simple X-3D pair.

The 2 sides together are referred to as a pair. Every X-3D image will consist of a left image and a right image which are combined to make a pair. As long as paired images are aligned properly with an acceptable field of depth they will always create a sharp clear center image that you will see in 3D. So on with the next exercise.

This time there are several letters on each side. Again focus on that center line and begin crossing your eyes until all the "O"s appear to be on top of each other. The "O" in the right image is slightly out of spacing with the same "O" in the left image.


Have you managed to get those "O"s lined up? If you have notice something odd about the one in the middle? Does it appear to pop out of the screen at you a little bit compared to the letters on either side of it? If it does that superb! You've mastered viewing X-3D and are ready to start looking at some real image pairs! If not go back and look again, you'll get it, I'm sure of it.

I hope you're excited to view your first X-3D image. The image below is very complex with lots of spectacular detail for you to view in 3D, but at the same time should be very easy to line up by crossing your eyes because it has easy check points. So for this next exercise concentrate on the peak of the miniature snow pile in the pair and cross your eyes until it becomes one. Once you've merged the pair into one image you can start moving your eyes to look at other places in the image. Go slowly at first. If the image snaps out of place simple go back, focus on that peak again, align it, and try again. With a little practice you should be able to look all over the image just like a normal photograph, except now you're experiencing the photograph with depth perception! You should be able to see various clumps and flakes of snow in 3 dimensions. Take some time to practice with this image and enjoy the beauty of snow up close and personal.

View my original image on -->

Once you're able to view the image clearly in X-3D go ahead and click on it to open the full size image. It will require you to cross your eyes even further, but you'll be rewarded with an even more in depth and detailed view!

Once you've mastered viewing the snow in X-3D here is a fantastic stereoview of a feature from the Antelope Canyon in the Navajo reservation near Page Arizona. This time you don't have a prominent contrast to easy focus on. Look at either side of the pair and find a feature that seems to stand out and use that as your focal point as you cross your eyes to view the pair. In this pair try using the darker underside of the sandstone near the center of the images on each side which contrasts nicely against the illuminated sandstone behind it.

Original Image Credits: The image on the left was taken by Seeher and the image on the right was taken by Michel Le Nouy. Please click each link to see the respective original photograph from their respective galleries. The 2 images have been resized, cropped, rotated, and had other signicient digital modifications to allow them to be paired as a new X-3D.

View my original image on -->

After you've mastered this image go ahead and click it to view it full size. I hope you'll enjoy this one, it is one of my favorites!

Now that you've been able to focus on a fairly complex X-3D pair, it's time to go to the last stage, a pair with features parralax as well as perception of depth. That is to say you'll have to cross your eyes to a greater degree to see the closest parts of the image and to a lessor extent to see the farthest parts of the image and all varying degrees in between. This is very common in pairs created from aerial photography such as the follow pair I created from 2 photographs of the Rocky Mountains around Carbon Peak taken from a jet liner at 34,000 feet. Concentrate first on focusing on a central point such as a mountain peak.

View my original image on -->

Once you've mastered viewing this small pair go ahead and click it to view it full size. Go ahead and take in the full splendor of how majestic the Rocky Mountains are in 3D! Now that you've mastered all the exercises in this tutorial you should be ready to view any well composed X-3D image you come across anywhere on the Internet or in printed material. They are very rewarding images to look at and really add a sense of depth perception and dimension to any scene!

Just as a final note because I learned this from my own experience when I started composing my own X-3D images: Not all pairs are properly spaced and aligned! If one image is out of synch with the other in any way it will make it more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to view the pair properly. Most X-3D composers use special programs to aid them in making sure their pairs are flawlessly aligned and spaced. I've used such applications on all the pairs shown in this tutorial.

Inconsistencies in pairs can include any or all of the following: scale, vertical shift, rotation, and barrel effect. Once you've become fluid with viewing X-3D images these flaws in pairs will become much more obvious to you when they are present.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Most Amazing Places I've Never Been #1

Most Amazing Places I've Never Been is a series of the most amazing places in the world I've never been but would some day like to visit.

Homathco Camp
British Columbia, Canada

"The most breathtaking scenery in the world...

Greatest fly fishing on the entire West Coast...

Exciting river rafting and kayaking...

Hiking trails, wilderness exploration..."

Nestled in the heart of the Homalco Indian Reserve in the breathtakingly beautiful Homathco River canyon at the end of the Bute Inlet is a small getaway called Homathco Camp. Surrounded by some of the most stunning views in the world, this little paradise is probably one of British Columbia's best kept secrets. The site itself offers the conveniences we all love from home such as running water, heated rooms, 3 warm meals a day, a nice big hot tub, and so much more. But the real reason to visit would be to get out and enjoy the splendors which nature has provided.

"Homathko is located at the end of a stretch of water called the Bute Inlet, which cuts into the Sunshine Coast of Western British Columbia. We offer transportation to this idyllic location either by seaplane or land plane."

The Homathco River:
The Homathco River itself is a glacial river, that is the majority of the waters that flow through it are melt off from nearby glaciers. Although I probably wouldn't be interested in participating myself, it is said that some of the best fly fishing in the world is right here on the banks of this marvelous river. The outdoor enthusiast can also spend a little time or an entire day rafting or kayaking on these sparkling waters.

"The Homathko River is a great place for kayaking and canoeing. If a challenge is more your style, the north end of the river is a world-class Class V Kayaking area. The trip down from Tatlayoko Lake to the head of Bute Inlet takes 4 days, and includes two portages.

But if you just want to drift down the river on a lazy afternoon, you can do that too!"

The Coastal Mountains:
The camp and Indian reservation are located in a panoramic river valley surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. These enormous peaks stretch from nearly sea level to over ten thousand feet into the sky. This feature allows this area some of the most awesome vertical faces in North America. Hikers can venture through the valley and the foothills for a light afternoon or take the full day and hike up into the mountains to view the glaciers first hand. Rock climbing enthusiasts are sure to have one of their most challenging and rewarding climbs on the faces of these majestic mountains.

"Southwestern British Columbia is considered a "temperate rainforest". Nowhere is this more true than the Bute Inlet and Sunshine Coast area. Homathko has many trails that range in difficulty from a stroll through the forest to a day-long hike up from the base of Bute Mountain to the Homathko Glacier.

The mountains in the Homathko region are the tallest in British Columbia. For those desiring a tougher challenge, Bute Mountain is considered by climbers to be one of the 10 most challenging climbs in the world. With 9,000 vertical feet, it has the tallest vertical rise of any mountain in North America."

Photographic Tour:
Photographs are all linked to their respective owners. Clicking on them to view them in all of their glorious beautiful detail with take you to the owner's site and is strongly encouraged!

This Photographic Tour is provided to give you a preview and feel for how truly amazing this place really is. However beautiful the photographs though, I am sure none can come close to how awesome this place really must be.

The following are all from Discovery West Aviation

Friday, November 21, 2008

My first entry

Well I've set up my new blog. I'll be posting here regularly about random random stuff. Could be high tech one day then down to Earth and nature the next. Could be about games one day and then places in the world to explore the next. Good times, no theme, just me being random.