Freezer Performance: Seals, Sensors and Alarms

Freezers quietly chug along in a basement or utility area and are easy take for granted – until they unexpectedly fail. This post is about getting a “heads-up” before a major loss.

Most freezes are NOT equipped with an actual internal temperature readout device or alarm. If yours has none then by all means at LEAST get one like this that has a wired sensor run thru the door seal and an external battery powered readout and audio alarm. You can use it both to adjust the freezer temp setting to the zero to 10 below F range best for beef storage and get an alarm should the freezer or power circuit fail.

Freezer “door seals” are a major performance concern. Accordion pleats and magnetic attraction allow the seal to compress and extend to close gaps of varying size. They are by no means a perfect “hermetic” seal and only slow down the leakage of internal cold/heavy/dry air OUT to be replaced by warm/light/wet room air leaking IN. This is why frost forms on the internal walls and coils. Frost represents the condensation and freezing of room air humidity (water vapor) on these cold surfaces. The more leakage the quicker it forms. Make sure your door seals are undamaged without excess crud in the pleats (particularly along the bottom seal of an upright style freezer) and are not age-hardened. Dirt and crud accumulation in the pleats restrict seal compression, slowly making that portion of the seal less compliant.

More recently available wireless sensor/alarms may be a better option since they don’t  promote seal leakage at a wire pass-thru point. This unit is capable of displaying and alarming (-40 to +140 F) from 2 remote sensors in addition to the station location.

Chest freezers are less vulnerable to air leakage because the seal is all at a single elevation with a uniform internal air pressure behind it. Their seal pleats are oriented horizontally and don’t collect crud. Upright freezer seals are faced with a pressure differential between top and bottom due to the tall column of warmer-top and colder-bottom air they are holding in. The bottom seal tends to collect crud from inside the freezer box. Uprights are prone to leak OUT at bottom and pull IN at top.


 

Lisbon-Style Vinegar BBQ Sauce for Pork

If you’ve got a quality, slow-BBQ’d  cut with a delicate smoke for making pulled- pork this sauce is the way to go. Forget the gloppy, sugary, branded trash entirely. Doubles as a dressing for slaw! Add sparingly (1/2 to 1 Tablespoon per pound) to shredded pork and also serve on the side  as a dip for the sandwich.


 

Altered Reality of Fasting

I’ve completed two 72 hour fast episodes now- separated by 90 days- due to prompting from my 30 sumthin’ daughter Amanda. The idea was daunting for someone accustomed to regular meals but it turns out the normal , healthy human body is remarkably adept at managing energy intake and usage. For me the most difficult part was skipping that first mealtime. After that,  hunger was really no issue and increased mental acuity and an accelerated sense of the passage of time were remarkable. I spend considerable time cooking so had expected the time normally spent preparing and consuming meals to drag by while fasting. Not so at all!

I used a low-carb electrolyte replacement powder in water and went on with my everyday farm activities with seemingly more than normal intensity.  Sleeping thru the night was improved. Skipping the first meal was easier if another activity was planned to displace it.

Top researcher in fasting’s differential effect on cancer cells and fast-mimicking diet’s reversal of diabetes is Valter D.Longo of USC Leonard Davis. His short vid’s on fast mimicking and cancer protection are instructive.

Relevant links:    lifestyle.engineeering               healthline


 

Osso Buco Milanese

Thinking ahead a bit to cooler fall weather this trusty recipe comes to mind.  All ingredient except the shanks (use 2″ thick shank sections from your haycreek fractional beef orders) and saffron can be found at the Walmart but the results are world-class. Other than skipping saffron the only modification I use -to accommodate beef rather than veal shanks-is to double braising time to 3 hours in a covered pan in the oven at 325 F. Enlist aroma-motivated guests/family to stir the broth into the Arborio rice -the hardest part of the whole prep.


 

Grilled Steak Salad

This NYT Cooking recipe is actually pretty simple to put together and provides an opportunity to grill-up some rub/marinated steak. Sirloin worked great for me. Note that this recipe incorporates  all the separate flavors that make up common “Chili Powder” (chile, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt) so it may not be worth special-sourcing “Ancho Chile Powder”.

A lighter meal for hot weather. Great flavor combination.


 

Cold Smoked Rump

Smoke-roasted a small rump roast  using reverse searing (250 F then 500 F) process (Chris Grove) in Kamado grill setup with heat deflector and drip pan. Rubbed a day ahead w/simple blend of 2t salt, 2t brwn sugar, 1t onion powder , 1t garlic powder, 1t blk pepper, and 2t mustard powder.  Smoke-roasted @ 250 F to 120 F internal then removed roast from grill and converted to direct heat and opened vents to target the 400-500 F range. Put roast back on too soon (hungry) and internal hit 130 F before searing achieved. Carved a piece off w/o allowing sufficient rest time (hungry) and found it unexceptional in flavor (bland)  and texture (chewy).  Refrigerated in plasticware.

Couple days later in the heat and humidity-when cooking wasn’t appealing- put together a salad of cut greens(arugula and more) from the CSA high tunnel, topped with Ama Blu Cheese dressing. Occurred to me that the cold leftover beef might be a good combo so cut off some thin slices across the grain to go with the salad and a slice of sourdough rye bread. The beef came off completely different cold! Quite appealing with a clean, smoky flavor and firm but tender texture.

Next time I’ll leave the roast off while ramping-up the temp to sear. I’ll also foil-wrap the roast upon removing @ 130 F internal and equilabrate an hour or so in an small, insulated container before testing a warm slice:)


 

Not Crowd Bull

We’re about straight talk, not storybook oversimplification and bait’n switch imagery. Let Joe and Ethan forever rehash their already worse-for-wear pet adjectives “craft”, “artisanal” and “curated” peddling to the crowd while exploiting their simple-but-good farmer/enablers. What worked in the misty urban Northwest of Portlandia prob’ly won’t in the not-so-estranged from ag midwest.

We’re about folks who value reality and trust their own judgement of quality. What the crowd is doin’ is most likely wrong anyhow.


 

Search Rank Echo Chamber-Trash vs Real Wine Reviews

Recently risked purchasing a Franzia Red box wine labeled “Vintners Select” and “Dark Red Blend” unwisely believing it’s promise of “rich, juicy flavors, slightly sweet, aromas of black cherry and currants…finishing with a hint of vanilla and pepper spice” Bar graph rated “full bodied”. Sounded a lot like Bota Box Nighthawk Black -only way cheaper. Shoulda known better but the dark box graphics got mixed-up with quality in my head.

Outright lying is apparently OK with these guys. The wine comes off NOTHING like that. More in line with a weak mix of chalk and black cherry Kool Aid.  Zero body-like water. No aromas or finish. Tongue-gripping astringency. The ONLY truth is in the sweetness and color.

Curious to find out what others had thought or whether I was losing my taste faculties altogether so performed a web search on the wine name and the term ‘review”. Page one search results mostly echo the box proclamations, only reinforcing the falseness. One  seemingly independent reviewer christened it with a “rich bouquet” , the curiously meaningless term”festive” and a “top value”.

Only review to get near the truth of Franzia Reds in general is a “deep track” find Washington Post piece  (appearing on page 2 0r 3) which likens them to storm water runoff  filtered thru  bubble gum.

Recent NYT  review of better quality summer reds and whites: 20 wines under $20.

Red Wine/Juniper Beef Stew

Prob’ly last stew recipe of the season what with warmer weather on hand. Great for cool, rainy days. Very flavorful sauce goes a long way with boiled new potatoes and fresh parsley.

I used a Hay Creek chuck roast and Almaden box “Merlot” wine. Skipped the fussy, seemingly low-impact steps like #3. Used dried herbs, simply dumped in. Definitely use the juniper berries! They are  around $1/ ounce in dried form on Amazon if none are harvestable in your yard. A lot of cooking time but not much work. Worthwhile.

The Magic Pill

“If it could only  be this simple” that is a switch to ketogenic diet as a central solution to the myriad (non-infectious) ailments of modern humans. US, AU and So African doctors and researchers continue unraveling the reality of big cereal, big sugar and the worldwide explosion of type 2 diabetes. Lots of smart, articulate interviews. Bonus appearance by Joel Salatin: the poet laureate of pasture-based livestock! Netflix stream, other.

A refreshing antidote to  “What the Health” fabrications.