Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What Do These Have in Common?

20 of the above. UT-15 Urban Tactical AR's with quad rail features (empty)

The carbon body of a American made 2007 Shelby Mustang Funny Car.

A full grown trophy pronghorn antelope.What do they all have in common?

They all weigh about 140 pounds.

The amount of sugar the average American consumes in 1 year.
 
In the interest of health, HOTR is going to post a recipe that has. . . . . more sugar than you can possibly imagine. You don't really need it, but you really want it. 

I'll be honest, outside of my post gun range Mr. Squishee drink I don't do much sugar, I'm hypoglycemic, not uncommon in the Irish, and don't do well with too much carbs (but if add enough bacon to the waffle plate I'm OK).

On the other hand, my team members LOVE these and other such super sweet things I make for them(think of crossing hummingbirds with Special Forces-  that's my guys).

Home on the Range Candy Bar Brownies, a dark chocolate brownie topped with sweetened condensed milk, chopped dark chocolate Mounds and toasted almonds and then baked (recipe in the comments)
click to enlarge photos

Go on, have one. . . then fire up the Shelby, grab one of your AR's and race an antelope on the way to the gun range.

It's only American

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Pistols and Pancakes - Guess that Firearm

Reader Glenn K. got it right (though many of you were oh, so close).  The Range firearm is a Harrington and Richardson Hammerless .38 S+W. 

It was manufactured sometime prior to 1904 I believe, given the caliber and very low serial number and like all first models of the H & R Hammerless, both large and small frames, it was manufactured for black powder cartridge pressures (a give away for that being it doesn't have the caliber stamped on the side of the barrel and there are no horizontal notches on the side of the cylinder).

It has not been fired, but it's nice to see a little bit of history someplace other than  gathering dust somewhere.
Look!  A Squirrel!

Now for the Sunday pancake (I've been living on gerbil pellets, dehydrated gruel and dried pine cones all week out in the field so I'm going to have pancakes two days in a row.  But for my friend out West (the other) Brighid, this one's for you.
"Sourdough" Silver Dollars

Sourdough taste without the sourdough starter (serves 2-3). They're bite sized, tall and light as a feather (and no blueberries as those got made into individual ramekins of cobbler last night).

Mix well in a medium bowl:
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tablespoons plus a pinch granulated sugar.
make a "well" in the center of the dry ingredients.
In a small  bowl thoroughly whisk
3/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon plain kefir (fermented milk found in the yogurt section)
1 large egg at room temperature
1/2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla
2 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry all at once, stirring JUST til  flour is combined (batter will be thick with lumps and bumps). Let sit while you heat up the pan. Fill a 1/4 cup measure up a bit more than half full with batter and drop to cook on slightly oiled cast iron griddle (batter will be quick thick but will thin out some as it cooks).

Then get back to organizing the rest of your weekend.
I'll be back tomorrow with some tales from the Range clan and a post on the growing and gathering of a plant that all preppers should have in their flowerbed.
 - Brigid

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Range Living

Just another boring Saturday at the Range.

The morning started early, up before most of the neighborhood, the sun just starting to hit the windows, coffee brewing in the kitchen.  I like such mornings, no one cares if I have "shop hair" and there is no schedule.
 
The bat phone is turned off, I have no obligations, Dad and Big Bro are snug and safe for a few more weeks til I can get out again, Big Bro's son and daughter in law, both nurses, close by. The day is mine to do as I please, while Barkley waits for breakfast or a lost mailman to wander into the dining room.
I love Saturdays. For it usually means 3 things.

Firearms (part of this complete Saturday).
 
We'll see if anyone can guess this pistol, but a couple of generations ago, you could buy this from a Sears Catalog for about $3. This sat under the counter at a Ma and Pa retail store in the Midwest for generations, in case of a robbery.  It's older than anyone in my family, and deserved a little more than to be "buy back"somewhere or scrap.

Then it's time for a little shop time before brunch.

Don't forget the safety equipment

 
I can't hear you, but you can't see me. ha!

It's all part of the Second part of a Complete Saturday -Fun (aka: Tools)

The back of the Range kitchen has an area that's just cheap metal shelves. It's about the size where a Hoosier Cabinet might work. I'm apparently a lousy Hoosier as I'd never heard of one until Partner in Grime showed me some pictures.  Cool!  Hoosier cabinets are named for a cabinet produced by a New Castle, Ind manufacturer around the turn of the century. Sitting on casters, it can be moved for cleaning or cleaned for moving.
 
I was really wanting this but I think the Hoosier cabinet would be a little more practical
The typical Hoosier cabinet consists of three parts. The base section usually has one large compartment with a slide out shelf and several drawers to one side. The top portion is shallower and has several smaller compartments with doors, with one of the larger lower compartments having a roll-top or tambour or additional drawers.

The top and the bottom are joined by a pair of metal channels which serve as the guide for a sliding counter top which typically has pair of shallow drawers affixed to its underside
In addition to the traditional accessory feature of the Hoosier cabinet, what I really like about it is the combination flour-bin/sifter, a tin hopper that could be used without having to remove it from the cabinet. A similar sugar bin was also common. So, have any of you seen one/used one?
 
With as much baking as I like to do, that might work! My storage AND counter space are currently minimal.  I'd want mine to be in white to match the rest of the cabinets. But yes. There's certainly the supplies and tools around here to give it a try.

Like these. I heard guys seriously like that top one.
Until cabinet time, there's still the free Bassett Craigslist sofa, ready to be refinished and re-upholstered (in some nice black microsuede fabric that's on order). The mattress will come out if possible, slats and/or drawers put in its to support the cushions and provide some storage space.
But right now, I'm starting to get hungry. 

For it's time for the third and last part of this complete Saturday  - Food.

Time for Saturday Morning Pancakes. This morning, a tweak to the World's Fluffiest Pancakes recipe.

Use lemon juice instead of the apple cider vinegar, add an additional dash of vanilla, a good pinch of Nutmeg and a couple handfuls of fresh picked blueberries.
It's probably good that I can make a decent pancake.
Because it's come to my attention that what guys really dig is the Wonder BRA.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Might Go Nicely With My Lego Tardis

 You don't need anyone to tell you you're a Dr. Who fan.  (It's those little signs)
 
This isn't Dr. Who, but will definately place you in geek category.

A LEGO set of the Back to the Future DeLorean which was recently on display Comic-Con and will go on sale Aug. 1.
The set comes with LEGO mini-figure versions of Marty McFly and Doc Brown, while the time machine includes details like the Flux Capacitor, a time display tile, and the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor.
photo from PCmag.com
 
I think this would be pretty neat, for the kids, or the kid in YOU.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Home Security on a Budget

Sure those home security signs are a deterrent, but a home security system is expensive.

Noticing there's a spike in residential burglaries? Planning on being out for the day?  There's the budget minded HOTR Home Security System. 

You just need some very large men's boots, giant dog bowls, some big bones or chews, some gun magazines. .

and maybe a sign.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Meat and Fire Together Like It's Supposed to Be!

Most kitchens have an assortment of gadgets, but how many of you have a smoker?   If you did, you could have had THIS for Sunday dinner.

That's a smoked brisket.  You start with some of your favorite barbecue sauce (about 1 and 1/4 cups or so) to which you've added some Dijon and a splash of hot sauce, thinning it with some whisky so you can inject it into the meat. Use a large bore syringe and inject about 2 ounces to the 3 lb brisket that you've trimmed the fat from (don't cut all the way down to the meat, just get rid of the excess).

Stick the syringe in  and inject until the the marinade comes out of the hole and move to another spot (poke it about 6-8 times top and sides, then keep the remainder).  The aim is go get the flavor inside but also to add moisture so it doesn't dry out during the smoking/cooking process.

This went in a smoker at 200 degrees for four hours, then it was basted with some more of the sauce, wrapped tight in foil and put into the oven at 200 for six more hours.  It makes for an unbelievably tender and juicy piece of meat (with a big thanks to my Canadian friend Marty for the recipe). Served with marinated veggies, corn and homemade bread, you just can't get this at most restaurants.

But the smoker just isn't for the typical "barbecue" cuts of meat  How about taking some of that leftover venison  you've got and make home smoked Bambi sausage before it's time to fill the freezer up with venison again?

Sausage making isn't as hard as it looks, providing you have the right equipment. It's like reloading, if you spend the the money wisely on the right equipment and read up on it, you'll be set up in no time. And like reloading, if you can get a friend to walk you through the process the first time, even better.
For starters you need a grinder.

A grinder is a good investment. Don't be fooled into thinking the smaller kitchen grinder will do the trick. It will, if you're grinding up some walnuts for Christmas cookies but try and process a whole deer with one and it may fail halfway through.
Sure, you can just go with lots of lumps and chunks of meat, stew is always good. But think of all the uses for ground meat, burgers, casseroles, shepherds pie, chili, soups, tacos, meat sauce for pasta, meatballs to launch in your trebuchet at the invading hordes, the list is endless. Instead of . "Oh boy honey, stew again".

Look for one carefully. You do NOT want one of those cheap units that sounds like it's fired by a Rotax on one cylinder or one that groans and labors like a teenager being forced to pick up their room. Venison WILL take more horsepower to grind than most non game meats as it's leaner. This is one of those times, that it pays to get quality, looking not for wattage but for horsepower. A cheap grinder will clog more, be less efficient and likely have to be replaced sooner, costing you more in a long run.

You are looking for something commercial grade, with a solid transmission and a loading hopper that's safe and easy to use. Most of these are also compatible with attachments such as sausage stuffers. Also get to know your local butcher/grocer, for when they are upgrading or replacing used grinders and slicers, they sometimes toss out the old (working) one or will sell it cheaply.

Also, be careful! This is not a piece of equipment you want to use if you are tired, careless or have had a beer or two. It can hurt you!
Yes, this is a homemade helicopter.  It can also hurt you.

The Bambi sausage started with a casing and seasoning duo from Cabelas which was then cooked in a smoker, the summer sausage flavor kit being selected. The pre-measured cure and seasoning provided has no fillers, and the how-to kit, with directions even the inept (ahem) could read included enough seasoning, cure and casings for 25 lbs. of meat.

Yes, you must cure the meat as smoking produces the slow cooked environmental conditions in which botulin can party like there's no tomorrow. (Geek trivia: botulism is Latin for "sausage disease", bringing out the wurst in anyone.)
The usual curing agent is sodium nitrite (NaNO2). Salts like Sodium Nitrate (and Sodium Chloride) can enhance the flavor as well as effectively ward off microbes like Clostridium botulinum. But Sodium Nitrite is implicated in the formation of Carcinogenic nitrosamines and hence should be used only in the recommended quantity. I can't guarantee the rest of my instructions will result in perfect sausage, but trust me on this one, you must cure the sausage meat if using a smoker.

Once prepared, you want to make sure the sausage is always thoroughly dry before being placed in the smoker. As a rule of thumb, you'll want to generate smoke for 3.5 to 4 hours if using fruit wood. In most household smokers, that takes about 3 pans of soaked wood chips.

With the stronger flavored smoke generated by hickory and mesquite, you might be better off stopping the smoke after 3 hours.
Too much smoke flavor is far worse than not enough. Over smoking will cause your sausage to taste acrid and bitter. Under smoking will just result in a less intense smoked flavor, but the sausage will still be very good.

Soak wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes. Any kind of wood chips will impart a smoky flavor to the sausage, but different kinds of wood provide different tastes. Apple, cherry, hickory and pecan wood will give the sausage a nice hint of sweetness. Oak and hard maple, along with mesquite, are excellent. You do want to avoid the soft wood (oh, don't go there) as the flavor of such soft woods such as pine, cedar and poplar tend to burn too fast and much too hot.
The smoker
Fill the firebox with charcoal. If you need to use charcoal lighting fluid, use a high quality one that will ensure no lighter fluid taste taints the flavor of the sausage. Once the coals are nice and grey, place the racks into the smoker, making sure the lowest rack is far enough way that the bottom layer of sausage will not scorch. Lay the sausage carefully on the racks, making sure they neither touch the sides of the smoker nor each other. Place the wet wood chips on top of the coals and close the smoker.

Regulating the Heat
The secret to the smoking phase is temperature control. If you can manage this, the rest is simple. You are aiming for a temperature inside the smoker between 150 and 165 degrees F.

I can't over-emphasize the importance of temperature control in the smoking phase of sausage making. If you get this part right, everything else falls into place easily.

Remember for those of you that cook, you know what happens to some food when you try and turn the heat up too high to make it cook faster? Yes disaster, and "hello, Dominos?" If you try to smoke at a higher temperatures than is recommended, the fat content in your sausage will start to melt and ooze out of the casing, drying out the meat and possible resulting in a visit from Fire Marshall Bill.
Note: I add some pork to the lean venison. For not only does it add flavor, it acts as a binding agent so your final product doesn't turn out dry, bland and crumbly.

Take your sausage out of the smoker when it reaches an internal temperature of 152 degrees F. adding more wet wood chips as needed. This could take several hours depending how full the smoker is. DO NOT GUESS on the temperature. Use a thermometer and monitor it regularly as part of the smoking process. Some people recommend stopping the smoke a few degrees shy of done and continuing to heat to 155 degrees for better color and flavor (such as is stopping the smoke at about 3.5 to 4 hours when using fruit woods and then continuing to heat, or 3 hours for the stronger flavored woods such as mesquite or hickory.)

If you're uncertain as to technique your first try, just smoke til 152 degrees, turn off the smoker, and heat to 155.
When it is done, remove the links and cool them in a cold water bath to lower the internal temperature quickly to 120 degrees. This keeps the links from drying out and shriveling up. When they are cooled, dry on racks for three to four hours and then freeze any you don't plan to eat in the next 4 days. In the freezer they will keep well until the next whitetail season though for optimum flavor use within the next 8-9 months.

One last hint: You may want to have some newspaper down for the puddle of dog drool that will collect on the driveway as the aroma of smoking meat builds.

He's trying to look calm and vigilant but the hypersonic tail gives him away,
 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shotgun Games

Several people have asked where I got the break action shotgun cribbage board.  It's a story that started in 1945, a few short months after World War II ended and ended with a modern day craftsman in Wisconsin.

My parents, best friends since 6th grade and high school sweethearts, were married as soon as Dad got back from his service in the 8th Air Force in  England.  Both of them were huge cribbage players, even taking a custom made wooden board with them on their honeymoon to British Columbia.  Dad still has that board, and though his eyes mist up sometimes when he holds it, he still enjoys beating his visiting nurse and we kids at a rousing hand. 

 His mind, on some days wanders, he'll call me by my nieces name if he's tired, and he sometimes hesitates in his thoughts, just  normal aging.  But deal six cards into his hand and, at 93,  he can add up numerical combinations of 15, pairs and straights, faster than a calculator.
But outside of the occasional game at Dad's house, I never played.  Until I taught my best friend how to one snowy weekend, and the game was on.

But I wanted a board that was special, not to replace Mom and Dad's, but simply to continue the tradition.  And I found this, hand crafted from the nicest fellow I know up in Wisconsin who sells them on Etsy.

  (click for the link)

The board is made out of Maple and finished with 3 coats of Polyurethane. The pegs are hand made  1/8" brass rod shaped, polished and coated with 3 layers of lacquer. Pegs are stored where the shell would go. A magnet keeps the barrel latched up when closed, so the pieces stay secure.
John has got two of them made up and available right now if you click on his link above, as well as some other unique ones.  I've bought more than one for family or friends (including the violin one which was truly beautiful).  They were  delivered promptly and look even better than the pictures show.  It was well worth the price for something hand crafted that will last more than one generation.  John also followed up to make sure I got the order, and was happy with it, a personal touch often lacking in most commercial transactions.

We've played a hundred games on it already and I am still amazed by how beautiful it is, in form and function, how well the pieces fit and how much fun it is.

Even when I get beavered skunked.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Magpul Precision Rifle/Sniper Stock - a Range Review

The Magpul PRS (Precision Rifle/Sniper)

In one sentence.  - perfect cheek weld.

But for those that would like more detail:

If you are looking for a drop in, precision-adjustable butt stock for  AR rifles with A1/A2 fixed stocks I'd not hesitate to recommend this one based on my experience with one I purchased 2 years ago.  There are a lot of different accessories for the AR15 series firearms, and though I wasn't wanting to put together "frankengun", I did want a stock that had a means of adjusting the length of stuck as well as comb height for the perfect alignment of my site choice, which was an EOTech.

Every shooter is physically built differently, male or female.  I'm as tall as many guys, but my arm length doesn't compare and my shoulders show my more delicate bone structure.  So adding something like the Magpul PRS is well worth it if you have other than normal length arms, neck or sighting requirements.  Compared to the A2 stock, the PRS can shorten LOP (length of pull) by .25" or extend it by .75" as well as provide three-quarters of an inch of comb height adjustment.(the height so that when you plant your cheek onto the stock, your eye is lined up just where it needs to be to line up with the reticle.)

I couldn't say that this was intended for "close quarters" use, but for "sniper style" range practice for proficiency, this is an excellent addition.
I've used Magpul products for other tactical rifles and found their products are high quality and do what they are advertised to, so I didn't hesitate to spend the money for this.  Sure, there's cheaper stocks, but beware, the cheap knock off stuff (and Santa - don't even think of adding Hong Kong AirSoft stuff to my list).

Aesthetics - there's no getting around it, this just looks cool, and it's built like a tank, with aluminum butt-plate and alloy steel adjustment shafts that will withstand a lot of impact abuse (all aluminum components finished with MIL-A-8625F, Type III, Class 2 hard anodizing).  But looking good and being strong will only get you so far, it's got to FUNCTION well as designed.  The unit will fit most AR/M-4 designs and I've personally used one on a Bushmaster as well as my Wilson Combat Tactical AR-15 (otherwise known as "Vera"), which is what is pictured here.
Installation - My Mom could have put this on here. Actually my Mom was the Sheriff, she could put it on here, hunt down the bad guys, take it off and go home and make the perfect pot roast. My Mom is probably not the best example. But plain and simple, it WAS simple.

I have the gunsmithing skills of Barney Fife and I could do it. The hardest part was removing the OLD stock  As a direct replacement for an A1 or A2 fixed stock, you simply loosen a couple of screws on the Magpul and slide it over the existing buffer housing, pop off the rubber recoil pad to put the screw back into the end of the buffer housing and there you are!
However, if you are fitting to a carbine with a collapsible stock, it  will require a rifle-length receiver extension tube, rifle buffer and spring (not included). If your weapon has a short, 6 position style butt stock currently installed there's a DPMS buffer extension kit  that's priced pretty good as it is available with 3 parts including an extra buffer spring (buying separately can add up). Check around, Midway, others, for pricing and options. There's contact info at the Magpul website  (www.magpul.com) as well,i f you have questions as to what will work before you spend any money.

Adjustments -  The adjustments are machined aluminum a knobs with positive-locking click detents so they stay where you wanted them to under recoil as well as allow tool free adjustments by simply rotating the knobs. In my early days of small plane flying there was one manufacturer that replaced their airplane engine control knobs with these brightly colored plastic knobs. We'd say "Acme Aircraft, now with deluxe C.P.S." (cheap plastic S&#t). When one of those broke off in my hand at full throttle, I was less than impressed.  So  I'm NOT a big fan of cheap plastic anything when it comes to something that may or may not keep my alive.
The black, hardened, solid steel adjustment shafts of the PRS are finished with a ferritic nitrocarburizing process.  In layman's terms, they're strong and even better, they stay where you put them, the cheek riser clearing the charging handle even when fully extended.  But they are still very easy to reset for another shooter without The Incredible Hulk hand strength.

The rubber butt pad offers a good firm feel and placement, not uncomfortable in the slightest. But it is  still secure enough prevent slippage for optimum accuracy even with modular gear or body armor (though do pay attention to wearing white body armor after Labor day, a fashion faux pas).
Optional Accessories - include the PRS Extended Rubber Butt-Pad, 0.80". 

I'm sorry, but I can't read "Butt Padd" without thinking of those Frederick's of Hollywood ads which were in the women's magazines when I was a kid,  which is just wrong.
So, if you're worried about pancake butt on your AR you can get that optional PRS Extended Rubber Butt-Pad, 0.80" which adds  0.50 in. LOP and 0.07 lb. vs. standard pad. (Note: Butt-pads are only for use with PRS AR15/M16 and PRS AR10/SR25 models.)  Either will give you a very stable platform.

There's also Front/Rear - 1.25" aluminum sling loops (left-right reversible).  For myself, I think I'd just add a good quality monopad to the provided bottom Picatinny-type rail to it.  Whatever you do, you're going to see some good off the bench groupings.
So, if you are looking for a precise piece of machinery, something for the right sight picture for your AR style firearms with optics, go check out the PRS stock, it's just what the doctor ordered, especially in .223.

Specifications (from Magpul. NOT the Home on the Range W.A.G. Testing Laboratory)
  • PRS AR15/M16 Stock
    • Weight: 1.68 lb.
    • Weight, w/rifle receiver extension: 1.90 lb.
    • Length, Max: 10.45-11.45"
    • LOP Adjustment: ~39 Clicks (0.026"/click)
    • LOP Adjustment Range: 1.00"
    • LOP, Min: ~13.3"
    • LOP, Max: ~14.3"
    • Cheek Height Adjustment: ~29 Clicks (0.026"/click)
    • Cheek Height Adjustment Range: 0.75"