Ends, Odds, Butterfly Woking

There are a few different bits stuffed in here. Mostly to do with cooking and patio kitchens, a bit to do with biology and fuels.

First up, Gail Combs got me to buy a wok. I’ve had an electric wok for years and hardly used it. I made excuses about it being due to the “fuss” of pre-planning and chopping ingredients in advance. Yet, thinking about it, partly it was due to the large counter space it took to set up the electric wok (on my tiny counters that are usually ‘busy’). Partly it was that the thing is teflon. How the heck can you do 400 F+ to 500 F hot fast cooking when teflon breaks down then? (It was a wedding present…) Partly it was that I looked at it as just a funny shaped ‘electric skillet’. (Though the couple of times I’d used it, it did fine). Partly it was just not wanting to scratch the teflon and not having “implements” for it that were not metal (so making do with square spatulas). It was also clear that there are several things I do that take hours of “prep”. From making bread, to doing “freeze ahead lunches” (aka DIY TV Dinners). “I’d have to plan ahead” was clearly a self deception on my part. In short, it wasn’t so much the need to prepare, nor the ‘using a wok’, so much as it was THAT wok…

So while out running errands today I stopped into Wally World. (For something else entirely…) There was a perfectly sized 14 inch Wok for $15. Sigh. I also picked up a Mexican Comal that’s an exact match in diameter. It can be used as a kind of a lid (with about a 1 mm gap around the edges due to the handle rivets) or as a griddle for making quesadillas and fajitas. (Two foods that are as Californian as Hamburgers, Kung Pao Chicken, and Sushi… Hey, it’s that kind of place… though I like to order mine as “Gun Powder Chicken” ;-)

Now I have two very appropriate steel pans for my Butterfly Stove and I’m set for doing a variety of Mexican, Spanish, Asian, Californian / Tex-Mex, and ABC dishes. (ABC is “American Born Chinese”… yes, we have “jargon” for our various ancestries… Learned that one from a Chinese friend who was born in Hong Kong, but spent most of his working life as a Californian… he told me his kids were ABC…)

I figured since the stove has a burner clearly designed for woks (both flat bottomed and, via the outer “legs” poking up, round bottomed) and since Gail was advocating it, and since I’d always really secretly wanted to try that Really Big Pan over flames… well, why not? The Comal was all of $11, and the Wok $15.

Butterfly Stove with Wally World Wok and Comal

Butterfly Stove with Wally World Wok and Comal

You can see that they are both a ‘nice fit’ to this stove…

I also stopped by the local “ethnic” market. Marina. I like going there just for the cultural immersion. It’s an odd eclectic mix of several kinds of Asian, with a load of Mexican and the odd bit of Central and South American foods. Oh, and some stray Indonesian and Thai bits too. I find things I can’t get anywhere else, and remember from my youth, like pickled pigs feet and beef heart and lambs kidneys. Then there are the amazingly odd bits that someone ELSE is pining for, like the “cooked pigs blood” and ox tripe and … well, you get the idea. If it was part of an animal, they likely sell it. Fresh too.

I picked up “Chinese Broccoli” (that’s mostly stems and leaves) and some kind of “Choy” (that are kind of like a strange kale or cabbage leaf but genetically many are turnips). Added an Italian squash and some Japanese soy sauce along with Mexican Onions (that are like a giant green onion with a bulb like a big radish). Yes, I’m making an “Asian Dish”, but in that peculiar California way ;-) At home I had some carrots and a cup worth of celery that got sliced. And a very large ‘leg quarter’ chicken from Marina. OK, debone the chicken (and wonder where my Cleaver I’ve not used in 2 decades has gone now that I want to play Chinese Chef…) and chop everything up. Wash the wok and rub with oil. Out to the Butteryfly stove and fire it up. Oil into the Wok and onto the fire. Back into the house to get the soy sauce, some white pepper, and the Chinese 5 Spice. Start the rice in the rice cooker and back to the patio.

As I remember it, from 20 years ago when I first wanted to try it, Wok cooking is supposed to be done very hot and fast with oil in the pan. So that’s what I did. A “sear’ on the chicken, then set aside. In with the onions, carrot wafers, and celery. Once they were about 3/4 done, added the squash chunks and then a bit later, the chicken to finish cooking. As a “part” gets mostly done, you shove it up the sides of the wok, and add the new stuff in the very bottom / hot spot. Once the chicken was clearly cooked through, I added seasonings, including a soy sauce drizzle, and dumped on the “leafys” The choy and Chinese Broccoli. Everything gets stirred around and fried on the bottom, steamed on the top. Once it all looks more or less cooked (and sampled bits are “cooked but oddly crunchy” as the outer edges are cooked but the middle only warmed / hot…) you take off the heat, and pile it next to a bed of rice.

One Small Problem. I’d made “tubs” of each ingredient, and ended up making rather more than I’d expected in total… Not to worry, a pint or two of “leftovers” keep in the fridge…

Wok of Chicken Stir Fry on Butterfly Stove

Wok of Chicken Stir Fry on Butterfly Stove

About 3/4 done. Yum!

There was one tense moment when I was madly sprinkling “Chinese 5 Spice” over the chicken and harder vegetables (prior to the leafys) and realized it was actually white pepper… A bit more pepper than I’d planned, but it was still way less hot than Hunan or Szechuan. I liked it rather a lot, the spouse thought it was near the upper bound of acceptable heat ;-)

At the end of it all, there were fewer leftovers than I’d expected, so something must have been good about it! ;-)

Using a wok on the patio on a large fire appliance is much more satisfying than using a funny shaped electric skillet while worrying that you might ding the teflon…

As the wok and comal are steel sheet, you treat them like cast iron. Wipe off and oil is about it. Tend to last for decades.

The Wick View

So the question came up from Ralph B about what does the wick area look like and how would you keep “fumes” in. (Frankly, I think they stay in fine all buy themselves, but for someone with a Vulcan Nose… (Vulcans are reputed to have exceptional sense of smell. A running joke in our house is that the spouse has a Vulcan Nose, as she is sensitive to things the rest of us can not detect at all, and I’ve got a pretty good nose! So I know you folks with Vulcan Noses are out there…)

Here is what it looks like from above, with the burner out of the way. You can see the ‘outer wick tubes’ in a ring around the outside. The holes in the middle are for air to enter the middle of the burner area. Down in the bottom somewhere are the inner wick tubes with the wicks. The Red Knob via a gear and toothed link, raise a rack that holds the wicks up into this outer wick tube set. IMHO, to “close it off”, one need only pick up the burner assembly, remove it (as when preparing to light the stove) and set a plate or pan on top of this wick tube assembly.

Butterfly Stove, view of wick tubes from above

Butterfly Stove, view of wick tubes from above

In this picture, the wicks are down the holes. When lighting, they poke up about 1/4 inch / 8 mm.

Here is a view from nearly ‘head on’ so you can see that the top of the assembly is higher than the wick tubes and anything set on it will cover them. To the left is the inside of the burner head. Kerosene evaporating from the wicks is mixed with very hot air that comes through the perforated metal screens. The center area gets air from below the wick holder top. This very hot kerosene and very hot air then burn with a very blue flame. Elegant in a way…

Butterfly Stove burner view and side view of wick assembly

Butterfly Stove burner view and side view of wick assembly

So you can see that it’s all pretty much just bits of sheet metal. Some painted. Some made into bowls. Some perforated. Some welded into tubes. Only “moving parts” (other than gauges and lids) are a knob shaft with gear, the toothed shaft that raises and lowers, and the ‘inner wick assembly’ it lifts up and down inside the outer wick assembly.

Ralph: Let me know if that is enough. I can also take pictures of the underside / inside wick assembly by opening the fuel pan area, if needed. It mostly just looks like the top part, only with slightly smaller diameter tubes going into the outer tubes, and with the “flat end part” down toward the bottom instead of up toward the top.

Evil Chemical Spill, or Food?

OK so I have these little tiny lamps I bought for something like $4, about 30 years ago. One of them finally had the little gear that lifts and lowers the wick let loose from the shaft. They make a flame about like a candle flame. This one is the one that ‘died’ last summer. I left it just setting in the shade on the patio… A “someday” project to try to fix it, or make it “parts” for the other one…

Kerosene Mini-Lamp

Kerosene Mini-Lamp

The teaspoon gives a sense of scale. The wick is 1/8 inch diameter. I really like these little guys for “ambient night light” in places like the bath and kitchen when we’ve had a power failure. Just enough light that it’s not all dark, but without a lot of fuel burn. So you approach a slightly lit area with your “mobile light” and don’t feel like its some kind of Scary Movie scene ;-)

(You “get into” that kind of appreciation of esthetics when you have periodic rolling blackouts due to Democrats controlling the electrical system and generation. We had Gov. Grey “out” Davis ‘for a while’… So prepare now, Obama and the Greens have the same planned for you… Once we elected a RINO – Er, “Republican”, it got better…)

Well, I was playing with strange fuels and wicks ( Isopropanol) and thought I’d salvage the wick from this one and use it. Since the other wick likely had extracted water from the isopropanol… Opening the lamp and lifting the wick was “a surprise” as what had looked like “dirt” on the font turned out to be “Something Living”… Yes, “It’s Alive!”…

Something Living On the Kerosene Soaked Wick

Something Living On the Kerosene Soaked Wick

Not knowing exactly what it is, I apologized for the intrusion, put it back in the lamp, and put that back in the semi-shade where it had rested for most of a year…

It looks somewhat like a bacterial mat, but I could be convinced it was some kind of algae or mold. One hopes it isn’t some kind of new evolutionary leap or micro-sized space aliens that like to drink kerosene ;-)

At the end of the day, I’m left wondering about all the HazMat teams being called out for kerosene, Jet-A, JP-4, Diesel, etc etc spills. Are they, perhaps, violating the “Endangered Species Act”? After all, I have an existence proof of something living on kerosene. It clearly is not very common (as we do not have it in all our fuel tanks and airplanes). So it must be rare, and likely endangered. How can we allow people to obliterate it’s food supply? The poor dears are wandering the surface of the planet, looking for a bit of spilled petroleum to scrounge a bit of dinner, and here we are exterminating it with chemicals and scrubbing up its food supply. They have to “make do” in the odd lamp left out too long or the forgotten Tiki Torch. Oh, the humanity!

So please, next time you spill a bit of lamp oil, or the car drips some motor oil where the signage admonishes you “No DUMPING! Flows to BAY!!!!” remember that you are doing it “for the children” of these fine little fellows. It’s a tough world out there, and they can use all the help they can get.

Whatever they are…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Food, Humor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Ends, Odds, Butterfly Woking

  1. Ralph B says:

    EM

    Thanks for the picture…worth a thousand words now I understand the whole workings.

    As for algae in diesel…not even close to endangered…we add biocide to diesel all the time. Those “bugs” live on the surface of a water drop and eat the petroleum products. Can become quite the PITA clogging filters and injectors. Heck I have used drums of biological clean up material taking care of fuel spills. Also those bugs will eat asphalt.

    Years back a truckload of fuel was inadvertently dumped in a small depression nearby…a good 3500+ gallons…this was before the enviro police…no one ever came to clean it up yet we never saw any problem there…plants grew fine next spring frogs chirped away…maybe it made its way into the near surface groundwater, but we were on city water so cant say if I ever tasted it. I guess my dad always sprinkling the dirt road with used crankcase oil would have been a federal offence today. My point being mother nature has a way with dealing with petroleum…she made it in the first place.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ralph B:

    Glad to be of help…

    Per bugs in kerosene: Do I really need to put a /sarc; in the posting? Really?…

    ;-)

    At my grammar school, the “custodian” would spray the weeds with the (then) high sulphur Diesel fuel. Killed them fairly quickly. But, despite spraying several times a year over most all of the school grounds (as in California, with water sprinklers, weeds grow everywhere and a lot) that Diesel smell never lasted more than a few days. SOMETHING ate it up just fine, thank you very much… And it wasn’t just the school. Using Diesel as a cheap weed spray was very common everywhere in town.

    Oh, and it was common practice to change your car oil, dig a small (maybe 3 quart) “pit” in the dirt, and pour the used oil into it. Out of curiosity, I’d dig some of those holes up, maybe 6 months or a year later, to see what they looked like. They all were pristine dirt, near as an 8 year old kid could tell. No smell. No oil. Nothing out of the ordinary and with grass and weeds growing on it just fine. (If the same area was used regularly for many many oil changes, it would show oil indications for a year or two after you stopped. Then it would revert to normal.)

    The simple fact is that oil and oil products are food to a lot of things. But people are silly and believe in crazy stuff and like to be scared, so have made oil a demon of some sort.

    Oh Well…

  3. Ralph B says:

    (typed with sheepish look) man…I should have known…not enough sleep last night (I am 10 time zones ahead of you)

  4. Jason Calley says:

    Paul Stamets, the mushroom expert, did a test using oyster mushrooms to clean up diesel fuel spills. Worked great! The fungus gobbled up the diesel and grew a nice crop of mushrooms too. Stamets said that they were tempted to eat the mushrooms but decided that discretion was perhaps better than valor.

  5. Speed says:

    Another danger to jet fuel quality is the growth of bacteria that develops within the product. [H]ydrocarbon utilizing micro-organisms grow and develop in untreated Jet Fuel, causing fuel filter problems. If left untreated, bacteria growth can cause catastrophic problems in the future. Bacterial fuel contamination is usually overcome by treating the fuels with a biocide.
    http://www.intertek.com/petroleum/testing/jet-fuel/storage-degradation/

    Prist was created and sold as a fuel system anti-ice additive (for use in aircraft with unheated fuel systems) that also killed bacteria. Now it’s just an anti-icer …
    Prior to 1994, PRIST® was made to a Military Standard MIL-I-27686, which specified Ethylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether (EGME). Provisions were made to have this product certified as a pesticide with the EPA. This allowed the product to be advertised as having the ability to retard growth of microbes in aviation fuels. The correct term is for the additive is microbiostat (-stat means it controls or retards growth by putting the microbes in a static condition), it is not a true microbiocide, (-cide means it kills microbes).

    With all of the new EPA requirements, it became economically prohibitive to certify the new DiEthylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether, DiEGME based additive as a pesticide. Summarizing the above, it is widely believed that DiEGME does have a retarding effect on microbial growth; however, we no longer officially claim this property for the PRIST® Hi-Flash™ Fuel Additive.
    http://www.pristaerospace.com/hi-flash/FAQ/index.html#biocidal

  6. Bloke down the pub says:

    Jason Calley says:
    4 April 2013 at 9:47 am
    Paul Stamets, the mushroom expert, did a test using oyster mushrooms to clean up diesel fuel spills. Worked great! The fungus gobbled up the diesel and grew a nice crop of mushrooms too. Stamets said that they were tempted to eat the mushrooms but decided that discretion was perhaps better than valor.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Oh the joys of the English language! I thought at first you were making a pun about this lot , only to realise you colonials spell valour without the u.

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    BTW:
    Once, upon a time, there was a Mexican Mariposita (butterfly) flying, suddenly cayó and dijo: Ay, Carijo, I forgot to open my alitas!

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Speed Another danger to jet fuel quality is the growth of bacteria that develops within the product. [H]ydrocarbon utilizing micro-organisms grow and develop in untreated Jet Fuel, causing fuel filter problems. If left untreated, bacteria growth can cause catastrophic problems in the future. Bacterial fuel contamination is usually overcome by treating the fuels with a biocide.

    Your quote, above, shows that the alleged “fuel contamination” it´s pure crap, fuel is from nature and to nature it returns…What we do not know really is if nature can process or digest properly those GREENS , like Al Baby, the armageddonian prophet, and if it will find the adequate bacteria able to swallow them along with their Malthusian philosophy.

  9. Ralph B says:

    Bloke,

    If brother Calley was a regular typer of the mother tongue that would not quite have risen to pun level but more of a clench

  10. Gail Combs says:

    ChiefIO, glad you tried the wok. As a lazy single with no dishwasher I chopped up everything in one go and stored in the back of the frig. chopped veggies last ~ three days. Oil and salt was my method for cleaning cast iron. Grandma would kill you if you used soap and water because the pan had to be ‘re -seasoned’ all over again. I wonder if FDA will regulate that too…
    …….
    adolfogiurfa says:
    …What we do not know really is if nature can process or digest properly those GREENS , like Al Baby, the armageddonian prophet, and if it will find the adequate bacteria able to swallow them along with their Malthusian philosophy….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Guess we will have to call in the polar bears link

  11. Jerry says:

    If the little lamp cannot be tinkered with and fixed here are a couple of sties that have lamp parts – like entire burners, that may cost more than the lamp did. :)

    http://www.antiquelampsupply.com/category/129_oil-or-kerosene-lamp-burners

    http://www.oillampman.com/

    The second one has something they call glass wick inserts that look really interesting. I don’t have any of these but plan to get some at some point just to play around with.

    If something more elegant suits your taste then check out these.

    http://www.glassoilcandlesbysage.com/news.php

  12. Gail Combs says:

    Jerry says:
    4 April 2013 at 4:25 pm

    If the little lamp cannot be tinkered with and fixed here are a couple of sties that have lamp parts – like entire burners, that may cost more than the lamp did. :)

    http://www.antiquelampsupply.com/category/129_oil-or-kerosene-lamp-burners

    http://www.oillampman.com/
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    HUMMmmmm….The second site with the FIBERGLASS WICK might work with the 91% isopropanol, where as the cotton wick with its affinity for water would not.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jerry;

    Interesting stuff at those links. This link is to oil lamp burners that screw on to standard Mason Jars !

    http://www.oillampman.com/burners/all_other_plated.htm

    Mason jar to oil lamp burner adapter includes cotton wick. Comes with #2 brass plated burner and 2¾” I.D. brass plated collar. Accepts a 3″ chimney and will screw onto a 2¾” diameter mason jar top. B30286

    All of $3 each… As I’ve got dozens of small mason jars that I’m less than fond of for canning… (Those round ones with a pebbly finish for “jam” in a 1 cup size) I think I have another “small lamp” solution here.

    Also looks like they have the “miniature” size:

    http://www.oillampman.com/burners/miniature_plated.htm

    pixieburner.jpg (30392 bytes)
    PIXIE brass plated burner with screw-on collar for newer glass lamps. Takes 1¼” fitter chimney. Used on many of the Japanese lamps.

    Though they say “new glass” so one wonders if there are several odd threads or sizes… At $2 it’s worth trying…

    Looks like “miniature” is the key word… this one pops up too:

    http://www.nationalartcraft.com/subcategory.asp?gid=5&cid=122&scid=254

    Mini Oil Lamp Burner.
    For chimneys with 1-1/4″ dia. base.
    1-3/8″ threaded collar.

    Also found several places selling antique miniature lamps, and a couple of new “miniature oil lamps”, but that had opaque bases or colored chimneys or both…

    These folks have a “pixie” burner along with the Mason Jar burners:
    http://www.oillampparts.com/allburners.html

    These folks have “reproductions” of antiques at a price… ($30+ kind of price), but they do have miniature oil lamps:

    http://www.antiquelampsupply.com/category/77__all

    But oddly, not a lot of NEW miniature oil lamps… Did find one supplier. At $US 1.50 to $3.60 each,, you just have to buy in lots of 50,000

    http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/737973524/Miniature_Oil_Lamps.html

    Might be easier to buy the parts and make your own for “just a few”… (Me? I’m liking the idea of those Mason Jar burners with the 1 cup sized jam jars that are very decorative but not as useful for day to day canning as I’d expected… )

  14. Speed says:

    adolfogiurfa wrote,
    Your quote, above, shows that the alleged “fuel contamination” it´s pure crap, fuel is from nature and to nature it returns …
    Wikipedia tells us that,
    Contamination is the presence of a minor and unwanted constituent (contaminant) in a material, in a physical body, in the natural environment, at a workplace, etc
    [ … ]
    In environmental chemistry the term is in some cases virtually equivalent to pollution, where the main interest is the harm done on a large scale to humans or to organisms or environments that are important to humans.

    While it’s true that we live in a dynamic world and at some time in the future most contaminants will revert to a pristine and natural state, I don’t like the idea of a hundred gallons of diesel or Jet A sitting on my front lawn while it reverts. Or even a nice neat pile of doggie do-do.

  15. Kent Gatewood says:

    Saw a link at Ace of Spades website that the EPA was going after wood burning stoves. New stoves will have a 12 to 15 micrograms per cubic meter limit. Original link at directorblue.

  16. Gail Combs says:

    Kent Gatewood says:
    5 April 2013 at 1:49 am

    Saw a link at Ace of Spades website that the EPA was going after wood burning stoves…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I thought they already had. We looked at wood stoves at a farm show not too long ago and they all had catalytic converters or some such nonsense that made them expensive as hades.

  17. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Speed: That´s right: IN THE PROXIMITY OF YOUR FRONT LAWN. You know, the Chaiten Volcano, depicted above in this page as banner, when it erupted, a few years, ago it expelled thousand of tons of HYDROCHLORIC ACID and SO2, and no environmental office there in Chile could be able either to close it down or order it to do it. This is, precisely, the laughable part of the ENVIRONMENTALISM “creed”.

  18. Gail Combs says:

    adolfo, Where they were doing all the Antarctic ozone testing that got CFCs banned was DOWN WIND of an active volcano expelling the same thing. ENVIRONMENTALISM has been a hoax from the time Maurice Strong told Greenpeace and company to go home and raise hell at the 1972 First Earth Summit.

  19. Speed says:

    Swedish design studio Claesson Koivisto Rune has come up with a stove for the developing world that uses a two-thirds less wood than a traditional cooking fire (+ movies + slideshow).
    http://www.dezeen.com/2013/05/17/baker-cookstove-by-claesson-koivisto-rune/

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    @Speed:

    Nice stove. Only thing that looks a bit “off” is the use of aluminum. Putting aluminum over fire is a Bad Idea. It tends to melt. (Cooking pots work since the water / food keep them below melt temperature. The stove doesn’t have that advantage…)

    I liked their clandestine still better:

    http://www.dezeen.com/2013/02/11/prohibition-kit-by-francesco-morackini/

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