Wooden cutting board and food bowl restoration – Biggles Method

For many years Jlee and I have been sharing a beautiful, dark in color, hand-made, and quite large cutting board. It was made by a friend of hers who makes musical instruments out of fancy kiln dried, then seasoned wood. It’s kinda cool when you’re slicing and chopping on it because the wood resonates a lot like some kind of wood instrument, it sings to you. We both love it dearly, I get it for a few years, she gets it for a few years, see how it works? Well, we’re both avid cooks and actually USE our equipment and after a couple years of hammering on a wooden cutting board, it gets pretty gooky, stained and downright, well, kinda ganky.
If these had been plastic, it would have been off to the recycling bin for the both of them. But no, they’re made out of wood and can be brought back to life. And brother, or sister, this method is going to give you the shakes it’s so easy.
My standard way of handling wooden cutting boards and similar wooden bowls for food was to, wash with soap and warm water to get most of the gunk off. Dry well. Start with 120 sanding paper on a vibrating finishing sander or by hand. Then move on to 220 to get a nice smooth finish. Dry thoroughly, then rub liberally with food grade mineral oil. Done and good for quite some time. But that makes me have to find tools, time and inspiration.
That’s hard and I don’t feel like doing all that. But I do enjoy taking care of my stuff and if you continue on, you’ll find a method I tried a few months ago on a wooden bowl that was being tossed out by a friend. It was scratched, stained and stained badly from something sitting at the bottom for too long.
A few weeks ago I was gifted back the large, most awesome cutting board of all time, how exciting!
True to our ways, she’d been a busy woman using it to steady her home coffee roaster (I just sold the roaster on ebay) and many other tasks. It needed cleaning and restoration. Egarly I thought back to the bowl I had easily brought back to life with nearly no effort and thought the cutting board would do just fine going through the same process.
Take a look, click on the image for a little larger one. Sure, they’re not new, they still have some patina from over the years, they’re totally clean and ready for another coupla years of heavy use. What do you think? Wouldn’t they be grand in your kitchen or on your dining room table?
Would you like to know the scoop?
Wash them for a few minutes under warm, sudsy water to loosen up the gank, scrub lightly with a stiff brush. Just enough to get them wet and a little cleaner.
Set them in your sink and squeeze enough liquid automatic dishwasher detergent to cover well, rubber gloves on, and rub over entire surface to be cleaned. Let them sit for no more than ten minutes.
Rinse well, very well, all over you will rinse. Pat dry and allow them to sit for a day and truly dry as best they can. They’ll look horrible, just as the first image shows, that’s nasty!
Rub liberally with food grade mineral oil, use paper towel to wipe off any excess, and that right there, is that. Look at those two pieces, that’s exactly how they are supposed to be. Well used, well taken care of and ready for action at any given moment.
So, for just a little more effort than washing your dishes, your wooden cutting board and/or wooden bowl is ready for use! Don’t you agree?
xo, Biggles
ps – I realize there’s probably millions of people who’ve done just the same thing and there are surely books that go over the same. But I haven’t read any of those books, nor have I ever talked to anyone with the same idea. For today, I’m pleased with myself.

KCBS Certified BBQ Judge – Meathenge Labs are one!

Yup, you heard it right. I spent over 5 hours today with Chilebrown and his wife Ms. Goofy in a classroom getting fully instructed while eating chicken, pork ribs, sliced/pulled pork and beef brisket. Neat, eh?
The class started this morning at 7:30 in Fairfield California, just 30 minutes from home. I signed up a month ago or more, they don’t come to town often and the chance to attend wasn’t an option. While I did guest judge the 5th Annual West Coast Championships, I felt it was time to make it legal.
Don’t get me wrong, sure it was fun and the food was really good. But it was an instructional class in every sense of the word. We were schooled in every aspect of judging BBQ by KCBS rules. And brother, or sister, that ain’t no joke. These people take what they do very seriously. The sheer volume of respect they have for the teams is huge. They go way out of their way to make damned sure it’s fair.
You sit a specific direction when judging, no talking, no sitting next to friends. You must be on time and if you don’t show? You’re very well bloody likely to never judge again. Green lettuce, parsley and cilantro are your only garnish, use the white part of iceburg and you’re marked as disqualified for Appearance. If the pork rib meat falls-off-the-bone? Marked down, it should come clean with a tug with your teefs. When a judge reaches for a pork rib and two come away? You get 2 and the 6th judge gets none, everyone marks this team as 1 (disqualified) for Appearance. For me, the most important part of the judging is to rule your decision based upon the merit of that BBQ. You cannot judge it based on how well you cook, or whether you prefer something different. I like that part.
Soon I will be receiving my card, a judge polo shirt and a certificate stating my place in the circle of true BBQ competition judges. I’m a greenhorn to judging and competition, but not to good barbecue.
If you’d like to see a few more pictures from the day, please visit KCBS Judging Class 2009.

Red Oak Victory Ship – Richmond, CA

Okay, how many of you know where you live? Raise your hands. How many of you know you live in the San Francisco Bay Area? Raise your hands … good. How many of you know the SS Red Oak Victory Ship is located at the Richmond Ship Yards and is totally accessible to the general public for adventure? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
This is a P.S.A., a Public Service Announcement.
This last Sunday morning at 10:30 am found the Biggles making his way down to Pt. Richmond and then the Richmond Harbor/Ship Yards for a little adventure. I’d been about 3 or 4 years ago and it was time for a little readventure.
“Launched on November 9, 1944 as the SS Red Oak Victory, and commissioned as the USS Red Oak Victory (AK235) in December, 1944, the Red Oak Victory is the only vessel built by the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California that is being restored. The ship saw service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and has the distinction of being the only ship operated by both military and civilian personnel during her career.
In 1996, by an Act of Congress, title to the SS Red Oak Victory was conveyed to the Richmond Museum Association. One of the primary goals of the museum is to preserve, restore and develop the Red Oak Victory into a viable asset that can be used, enjoyed and appreciated by the citizens of Richmond and the surrounding Bay Area communities.”
Lifted from their web site – Photographs are mines
Holee crap this is a beauty of a ship and they’ve done an amazing job at bringing her back to life. When I arrived back in ’04, she was rusty from one end to the other, a photographer’s dream. She’s all shiny now and still the same dream come true. It’s generally a self-guided tour and you have access to nearly every part. You can climb ladders, stairs, anywhere. Plus? I was the only one there wandering about, sticking my nose here, my lens there.
There is no better place to spend 5 dollars in this entire area. You should go. When friends or family come to town, you should go. Bored some weekend, you should go. However, if you have small children or can’t safely climb gangways or ladders, you should not go. You have to keep your wits about you and pay attention to the fact you’re on a real ship, not at Disneyland. It’s so exciting!
Interested in seeing more of her? Check out the rest of my images of Red Oak Victory Ship.
A Grand Day Out, indeed.
xo, Biggles
ps – So I can redeem myself here and include a food related point, they do have pancake breakfasts scheduled on the weekends as a fundraiser. Contact them or visit the ship for details.

EBMUD says Mandatory Water Conservation! Meathenge Labs says …

The catalyst for this post is because our water bill showed up here 10 minutes ago. 5 minutes ago I took this picture of our dry birdy bath and toppled windmill surrounded by long since dried flax. Fueled I was, by the bill.
Eight and a half years ago we moved in to this house, buying was cheaper than renting then. No really, we spent less down on buying a home in the San Francisco East Bay Area than renting a home, crazy eh? We drug along with us our standard appliances and used the existing bathroom fixtures. It was so close that if we’d had to buy a new gas range it’d caused us to use a camp stove instead. Man, we rolled in with fumes in the tank.
Thankfully with some effort the finances stabilized (psychosis still reign supreme) and those water hogging appliances were replaced. On my 40th birthday I bought myself a low-flow toilet, 1.6 gallons a flush. I sorely miss my 1946 model that shot through 7 gallons a flush, it was great. But when you have a family of 4? Do the math, we were using about 460 gallons a day. This usage dropped down a bit and even further with the addition of one of those fancy high efficiency washer machine rigs. Surely the cost of the water versus the cost of the machinery didn’t add up immediately, but I knew it was good to help the greater good and lower our usage. Nothing like a little altruism to boost one’s ego, hey.
Again we turn another page and we’re now a family of 3, water usage is at an all time low at 120 gallons per day. I’m exceptionally pleased with myself. Between the garden and the home, we’ve reached a pretty darned good consumption rate. Ed Begley Jr. would be so proud. I’ve been quite fond of him ever since he hit Mork & Mindy way back when. Little did I know he’s been a staunch activist for saving resources ever since time began. Apparently, he was arriving on set via bicycle, cool eh? I’ve said for years, when I make my movie, I’ll ask Ed Begley Jr. to play me, it’d be perfect!
Well, as I said the water bill rolled in and we’ve reduced our consumption to 85 gallons a day. For a family of 3, on a 5,000 square foot lot, I think that’s pretty fricken GREAT and am very proud of our work to conserve water.
Biggles – Head Lab Rat

Catahoula’s Open Aire Market – Saturday 6/14/08 10am-2pm

Just a friendly reminder: Saturday 6/14/08 10am-2pm
Timber says,
I’ve gone all fancy on you….I added a “e” onto “Air”….So it’ll be that much better. Urban Tilth, RHS YME Club, Liana’s Cake Kitchen, Pit Boss BBQ, Grande Finale Flowers (Be careful of your plants…Tracy might snag some of your flowers) Brookebot Tees, Jessica’s Jewelry and Others will be there…will you!?
If you are a Richmond Resident and an Artist….There’s still time. Please don’t hesitate to join in the festivities.

Biggles here, I visited the last and first of his markets and it was pretty darned cool. Fresh veggies, sweet goodies, plants ready to plant and fresh roasted coffee. This time there will be more people attending, so stop by and have a gander.
Catahoula Coffee
12472 San Pablo Avenue
Richmond, CA 94805
(510) 235-0525

A Sunday Project – Refinish Wooden Cuttin’ Table

SundayProject001.jpgWood is so cool, I loves it. Your only limitation is your imagination and skill level. Which is why I didn’t build this one, Cousin Bob did way back in the day. The maple top is from an old portable dishwasher, they’ve got to plastic tops these days.
The problem? I last time I put a finish on it was over 10 years ago, probably closer to 15. Do you think sitting in the Meathenge Lab kitchens for those years it looks as it did when new? Ha! It really is quite nasty, if I do say so myself. So, today? Am going to yank the sucker, sand it and oil it back up. Yay for wood!
Will stop by later and give you the finished product.
xo, Biggles
ps – Updates available. Wish I knew how to format this !@#$% photographs so they behaved. Nope, they’re all over the place no matter what I tell them.

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West Contra Costa grown produce & Catahoula coffee – a farmer’s market is born

Cata009.jpg Yes, you heard that right, a West Contra Costa farmer’s market hosted by Catahoula coffee roasters in Richmond. Music on Saturday, market on Sunday.
Farmer’s Market: Sunday April 20th – Parking Lot of Catahoula Coffee.
This Sunday April 20th, 2008 (10am-1pm) Park Guthrie and members of the 5% Local Coalition (Urban Tilth and Richmond High School’s YME Club) are selling West County-grown produce, plants (tomato seedlings, edible perennial seedlings) and plant food (worm castings and worm tea). All of the produce will be brought to market by foot or bicycle. All of the proceeds will support food production programs at Richmond High School or the Lincoln School Farm.
A few Local (Richmond) artists will be on hand to showcase their art and crafts. Liana’s Cake Kitchen & Grand Finale Flowers by Tracy Weber.
Music: Saturday April 19th –
This Saturday April 19, 2008 (10:30am to 12:30 noon) stop by for a cup of hula and enjoy a local Jazz Trio. John Bob and Playboys will be back. Catahoula Coffee will continue to source local artists to play from time to time.
Catahoula Coffee
12472 San Pablo Avenue
Richmond, CA 94805
(510) 235-0525

Cook for me! A contest to win The River Cottage Meat Book

On March 28th I announced the Cook for me! contest, and right now is the deadline. Well, I got 1 entry, so far. Am thinking to myself, “Do they not love me?” Well, that’s not possible. I’m the most loved of all! Then I thought, “Maybe they don’t care.” I’m not buying that either, you care. What else in your life could possibly be more important that me?
Taxes !!!
So, let’s reset and take this contest to April 25th, a Friday. OR, if anyone has a better idea for a contest giveaway, I’m all ears. Oh dear, a cross between Hee Haw and something else just popped in to my mind. Eeek!
We’ll let the dust settle and regroup, what you gots?
A hearty Thank You! to Ten Speed Press for sending this book our way.
Note 4/15/2008: Here are the entries!

Creepy E’s very own little kitchen

Here we find a little clearing on a pallet out in production, supplies & tools are kept handy. One never knows when that fancy load of product will need palletizin’. Actually, it’s a pretty handly little area near the roll-up door with bay air blowing through at a very fresh rate.
A little over a week ago, Creepy E shows up with a few appliances from his mum’s garage. One of which is this little chromium, oven thingy. It’s not a toaster, no live coils to heat. It’s pretty cool actually, gots this slide-out tray that holds things to be baked. Wanna see what he cooks in his very own little oven?

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Catahoula Coffee & Jazz – No really, they’ll be there this time!


But first, Meathenge news!
It looks as though my sister will have some time next week fo put some real design in to Meathenge and the corporate look will be a thing of the past. Her husband, Meathead, has put together a really cool mascot and that’s nearly done.
The picture of the bowls up above there are a few of the bauer ware pieces that my uncle gifted me over the last few weeks. Ain’t they pretty? Expose for the highlights baby, tastee.

Weeks ago I posted that there’d be live jazz at Catahoula Coffee Roasters in Richmond. I was wrong, it didn’t happen. But it does now!
This Saturday April 5, 2008 (10:30am to 12:30 noon) stop by for a cup of hula and enjoy a local Jazz Trio. John Bob and Playboys will be in attendance, fer sure.

Happy Friday Everyone !!! Ponder thine yak meat

click on pitcher for larger

Little Eddy came in to my office the other day, he’s the one that gave me the idea for doing a post about Chinch Meat (chinchilla). He wanted me to do a search for Yak Meat, I did.
Google lead me directly to Delyaks, our yak source!
I’m pretty excited and will probably order some after paying of the holiday bills. Apparently it’s 95% to 97% fat free and is filled with Omega 3 oils, CLA’s, Oleic Acids,and Stearic Acids. Healthier for us than skinless chicken breasts and fish? They say it’s true. Not gamey, not greasy, juicier than buffalo and delicately flavored? Dang, that’s pretty darned impressive.
Welp, look for a yak post coming up in our future. There’s tons of information and pictures on their web site, go have a gander.
xo, Biggles
ps – Sure I talked about yak meat, but I really wanted some way of sharing the sunrise with you.

Pork 4 Kids – It’s not what you’re thinking.

Sure, you think I’m going to do some cutsy little post about how to involve yer youngin’s with piggies. Nope, not even remotely. No, see this post is about another web site and it’s name is Pork 4 Kids. Chilebrown sent this over a few weeks ago, go have a look. It creeped me out at first, but they have games and you can even make your own placemats for the dinner table!
Thank you CB.

Meathenge Rules! – The Cutting Board

Awesome Z (my 12 year old boy) started middle school this year. Wahoo, for several reasons. I believe one of his favorite things is that he doesn’t spend the entire day of school in one classroom. Every hour or two he’s off to another class, neat eh? Yeah well, one of those classes is something called Woodshop. Yup, you know the one. Uh huh, you’re getting the idea now. One of his projects was to make a cutting board, a really nice one too. And as you can see, this woodshop is sportin’ some fancy ass … thing that allows one to put pretty letters in to wood. My chest is out at least 3′ feet today, am so proud.

Where’s Ted? – 1st in a series in which we experience a Sighting of Ted

Who the hell is Ted? And what the heck are you talking about Biggles? Whoa there Tex, hang on. Ted is Highland Hills Farm and rancher extraordinaire. To say he’s a local character to our farmer’s markets here would be a small understatement. I remember working the Fatted Calf one fine morning and overheared Ted telling a customer in a certain tone after said customer asked for directions for cooking, “I’m a rancher, not a chef!” And that, pretty much handled that.
Being who I am, have always been impressed with his “ranchin’ truck”. A Ford 3/4 ton rig with dents, dings, mud, dirt, dust, scratches and now a missing tailgate. That and a permanent collection of random hay pieces that fly out the back at any given moment. Well, I’m not quite sure why or how the planets align with him, but for me and a few others, he’s spotted more about town than anyone we know.
The picture above was taken way back on September 1st at about 9:45 am, west bound on I-80.
I saw his truck again this last Monday at 11:22am, parked on Dwight Way heading east near San Pablo avenue. Quite a few bales of hay, a gaggle of humongous coolers (full of meat no doubt) and a piece of twine holding this all in the bed (no tailgate, remember?).
Here is Jlee’s report:

A couple of weeks ago, driving west on I80 around El Cerrito, there was a sudden “hay storm”. Enough hay blowing around to actually have to close my window. I’m thinkin maybe a horse trailer up ahead, some guy going to the race track. I get over to the next lane, speed up to pass it to avoid the chaff. Then just coming up to Albany, I see the offender. A turquoise pickup, beat-to-shit, spewing hay. And then I know. Oh right. It’s Ted. Of course.

So, as you can clearly see, Where’s Ted is going to be very exciting. Please stay tuned for the next, Sighting of Ted!