Melting Pot #4

Saba Shioyaki

This is one of my favorite Japanese dishes. It is essentially a grilled mackerel, but the preparation is something that is pretty straight forward and you end up with an elegant and delicious dish. It is normally cooked on a charcoal grill, but you can make this in a broiler.

To make the dish you will need:

  • A nice mackerel fillet, skin on. About 8 ounces per serving is perfect.
  • Daikon radish
  • Soy sauce
  • Japanese short grain rice

Start by preparing the rice. Gently wash the rice in cold water to remove excess starch and talc. You might have to rinse the rice 8 to 10 times, but keep going until the water is clear. Drain the rice and let it rest for about 10 minutes or so. Put the rice in your cooker or start a pot on the stove.

Shred your daikon into thin long strips, like vermicelli. I like to put it in a bowl with some cold water and salt in the refrigerator. You can do this a day ahead if you like.

The saba should be sliced through the skin side, just barely through to allow for soy sauce penetration.

Put your oven on broil. Set up a cookie sheet with tin foil. Lay the fish on the sheet skin side up. Drizzle on the soy sauce, massage it gently into the fish. Place the sheet under the broiler and let it go for about 2 minutes. Remove the sheet and turn the fish over. Drizzle again lightly with soy and put back in the broiler for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the broiler and allow to rest.

Serve with a small mound of shredded daikon.  The rice is served in a bowl next to the fish. To eat just put a little soy on the daikon and mix with the fish.

You can also cook salmon this way, sea bass can work well too. Enjoy!

I got a note asking for pictures of stuff I am making so I will start doing that. I am not a great photographer but it will get the idea across.


The Rarest Books Found in the Strangest Places

One of my weaknesses is auctions. I love the hunt, the competition and the thrill of finding something rare and special. When I was living in Indiana there were lots of estate auctions every weekend. I would check the website AuctionZip to see what was coming up and see if there was anything that piqued my interest. I went to an auction that had several children’s books listed, the description said first editions. Upon inspection they weren’t firsts, but I stuck around to see what deals I might get._MG_0347

About one hour into the action, the auctioneer held up a large blue book that looked pretty beat up. He said it was an old book of home plans. I started bidding at $5.00, and kept going until it got to $25.00. It just didn’t seem like that great an item. I shook my head no, but the auctioneer opened the book for me and showed me some pages. I don’t know why but the book suddenly appealed to me. I got up to $40.00 and everyone else bowed out, then one of the regulars who like to steal items at the last minute jumped in. He kept bidding, to ‘run me up’ as they say, but, again, I my Spidey Sense was going so I hung in there. I got the book for $90.oo. I put the book in a box with the rest of my junk and went home. The book is the National Builder’s Album of Beautiful Homes by George Garnsey, published in 1891. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for it, the book had been in a chicken coop, and it was pretty much covered in bird poo…pages were loose, there was dirt at the edges and the poor thing was just about ready to go in the trash heap, but the illustrations are cool and so I pressed on in my research.

My first stop was locating George Garnsey. That was easy. He was an architect from Chicago who lived from 1840 to 1923. He designed a lot of Queen Anne

style homes and helped rebuild Chicago after the fire in 1871. He also wrote a book on architectural terminology. That was great, this guy was real, he had credentials and had written other things. It will be easy to get more information on my book!

A year went by, and not so much as a peek at the title online. Was this just a junky title that had no interest or value to collectors? Then one day I typed the title into a search on AbeBooks and there it was, The Album of Beautiful Homes, 1891. It turns out this title is extremely rare, only 25 copies known to exist. The seller had his copy listed at $1800.00, obviously in much better shape than mine. So now I know that the book is worth preserving and protecting.

So here we are, with a barn find book that is worth quite a bit of money, and more importantly it is a great pieces or American architectural history. So here is where the new adventure begins. I am going to restore this book to a readable condition, so that it is safe for the coming generations. I will be updating as progress is made with photos and stories about the challenges I meet. Follow along and feel free to yell at me if you think I am doing something wrong. It’s not just an adventure, it’s a job!

Fun with Lasers: Another Project

Packard and Duesenberg magnets, cut from 1/8" birch plywood.

Packard and Duesenberg magnets, cut from 1/8″ birch plywood.

I did a show in Auburn, Indiana once at a flea market held during their big car show and auction week. I did some laser cut car models and other trinkets, but wanted something more. It had to be easy to do, grab the eye and not take up a lot of space in someone’s bag.

I had already been doing the Train Magnets, so I decided to do some Antique Car Badge Magnets. I didn’t want to run the risk of copyright infringement with current manufacturers, so I avoided Ford, Chevrolet, etc. The photo shows a couple of the magnets, I did a few other out-of-business badges. They all sold well.

I downloaded the badge images from the internet and traced them on COREL Draw. If you haven’t used COREL before, it is a standard program in sign shops and laser engraving companies.


Tracing in COREL is pretty easy, you just use the pencil tool to draw around the original piece, then using the shape tool you adjust your lines until they match the actual piece you are copying. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube for node editing with the shape tool. I prefer doing traces by hand versus using the trace tool in COREL, the trace tool just doesn’t do that good a job when you want to make a useable drawing.

Thanks for checking this out, as always if you want more info or the original files (if I have them) just drop me a line.

Melting Pot #3

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Everyone has their own recipe, there are a million ways to make it and everyone is great (almost). The worst I ever had was when a Japanese friend made it. She used ketchup and katsu dipping sauce for the spaghetti sauce…being a nice guy I ate it but later on I showed her my version.

The Meatballs

Pretty simple: Chop up one large onion to a fine dice, use about 3 pounds lean ground beef, some grated Romano cheese, bread crumbs (you can buy the pre-made ones, my mother would dry bread in the oven and crush it up.), some garlic powder, salt and pepper, two eggs. Oregano if the bread crumbs aren’t seasoned. Some fresh basil leaves.

Mix the onions and beef, add spices, add the eggs and mix by hand thoroughly. Once the mixture is fully integrated start making the meatballs. The meatballs should be about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Put the mixture in your hand and press it to make sure there are no air pockets. Form into a ball by rolling gently between your hands. Set aside and repeat until you have all the meatballs made.

Turn the oven on to 325.

Heat up a deep, large diameter pot. I use one that is 10″ diameter by about 9″ deep. Add Canola oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot. Put meatballs in around the perimeter of the pot, maybe one in the middle. Brown the outside of the meatballs, turning them with a pair of tablespoons. When they are brown on all sides take them out and place in a flat roasting/baking pan. Repeat until all are browned.

Once the meatballs are browned and in the pan, lay a basil leaf on top of each one then cover the roasting pan with tin foil. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes.

The Sauce (Gravy)

I use the same pot that was just used to brown the meatballs.

You will need one large onion chopped, one or two green or red bell peppers cut into 1/2″ squares, red wine, two cans of diced tomatoes, 6 Roma tomatoes cut into quarters, oregano, six garlic cloves crushed and chopped fine and fresh basil leaves. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Add a little Olive Oil to the pan and throw in onions, add a bit of salt to help sweat the onions. Stir in bell peppers. After a few minutes add garlic. Pour in about 1/2 cup of red wine to deglaze and reduce down. Add oregano. I use about one tablespoon but you can use more or less to taste. Once the wine is reduced by about 2/3 add the diced tomatoes. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Lay Roma tomatoes on top and fold into sauce. Cover and let simmer, stirring every 10 minutes or so. After 30 minutes add the fresh basil. You can use whole leaves or chop them up.

Take the meatballs out of the oven and transfer them to the sauce. Do not just pour them in, there will be grease in the bottom of the pan that you don’t want to put in your sauce. Fold in and continue the simmer.

This is where you will start your pasta. I like a thicker semolina spaghetti but you can use anything you like. Just use a pot that will have plenty of room for the pasta to swim. I use about one teaspoon of sea salt per gallon of water. Cook the pasta to taste, drain and put in a serving bowl. Fold in about 1/2 cup of sauce.

Serve per person or family style with meatballs and sauce on the side.

Goes great with a nice salad, French bread and a good vegetable dish.



Antique Genealogy Charts from 1668

This is the cover wrap for Genealogy charts from 1668. L. side is the list of families charted.

This is the cover wrap for Genealogy charts from 1668. L. side is the list of families charted.

As anyone who knows me can tell, I have a lot of interests. Some would say too many but it keeps me mostly out of trouble so what the heck.

Antiquarian books is another of my passions. I love the idea of hold, preserving and sharing things that have quietly survived for hundreds of years. Antique books is the spark that got me started with bookbinding and so I thought I would show some of the more unusual and interesting items in my collection.

My first piece is a set of genealogy charts that were created in 1668. I purchased the charts at an auction, they were tucked into a shelf of other antique books.

The charts were created by Nicolao Rittershusio, a map maker in the 1600’s. There is one other copy that I have found mentioned online in the collection of a Polish university. The charts are all Germanic families, the earliest entry is A.D. 890. I like these because of all the history they represent. The founders of the United States hadn’t been born yet, technology was still simple and somewhat crude but the search for knowledge was ongoing.

The condition of my charts are pretty good, I need to get the pages cleaned and have some preservation work done to the edges. I keep these charts in acid free archival map sleeves and they have been in those sleeves for the past 20 years.

If you have any questions or comments please contact me, I am always happy to help in any way I can.

Great Lakes Weather Station

Laser Cut Weather Station, made from 1/8" birch plywood. Hand Painted.

Laser Cut Weather Station, made from 1/8″ birch plywood. Hand Painted.

I designed this Weather Station for a company in Fort Wayne, IN. I found out they went out of business so I thought I would share it here on my page. The weather station has a Thermometer, Hygrometer and Barometer. I don’t remember where they got the pieces but there are plenty of suppliers online. (I think they came from a California supplier.)

The map is in a 3-D layout, the lakes are designed with layers to give the feeling of depth. I built a box in the back to allow for the depth, it also makes room for the weather station parts to fit. You can see with the one element removed that I had holes in the back of the box. This allowed for humidity and temperature changes to be accurately read.

The piece was cut on a 100 watt Epilog laser. The material is 1/8″ Baltic Birch plywood. The lake inserts are hand painted and the surface with the text is lacquered in a matte finish to bring out the wood grain.

I designed the border of the piece to have a sort of ‘Television’ shape. I wanted the piece to have a mid-century feel. I really like Art Deco and Mid-Century so those two themes tend to show up in a lot of my designs.

I don’t know if I have the original laser designs still, but if I do anyone is welcome to have them, just ask.

The Melting Pot #2

My mother was German. She grew up in New York and learned tons of great recipes from lot’s of different cultures. This is a German dish that she would make once every 2 or 3 months. It is one of those basic dishes that is easy to do and tastes great.

Rind Rouladin

A rolled beef dish, super easy. You need thin beef, bacon, diced onions and salt and pepper. You also need toothpicks for assembly. Figure enough for 3 or 4 rolls per person. This will probably give you a few leftovers.

First, take the beef and smash it thin with a mallet. The beef should be less than 1/8″ thick. You can buy thin sliced beef and pound that out. I put cling film over it to keep the juices from flying about the room.

The beef should be about 2.5 to 3″ wide by about 6″ long.

Take bacon and cut it in half. Enough to put bacon in each roll. Take two medium size onions and dice them, each piece about 3/16″ square.

Lay out a strip of beef, add a splash of salt and pepper, put on some onions and then the strip of bacon. Roll tightly from one end to the other, put a toothpick in to hold together. After you have prepared all your rolls take a deep, large pot and heat it up slowly. Throw in some chopped bacon to render the fat out. Brown the Rouladin, getting the color to a nice dark brown. After the pieces are browned remove them from the pot and set aside. Throw in the balance of the onions and sweat those down. There should be a nice crust at the bottom of the pot from browning. Once the onions are clear add a cup of white wine to deglaze the pot. Make sure to work with a spoon to scrape the bottom and get all the good bits off. Reduce the wine to about 1/3 in volume. Add back 4 to 6 cups of water. Put Rouladin back in pot, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Let simmer for about 3 hours.

In the meantime:

Peel potatoes…usually two per person if they are medium sized. I always make more for left overs. You can add sour cream when you mash them if you like. I also put in some white pepper and garlic powder at mashing time just for a little kick of flavor (optional).

Make pickled red cabbage. Either from scratch or get a jar. Some Rouladin recipes call for a pickle in the middle of the roll. I think the pickle flavor can take over and mask all the other flavors. The pickled red cabbage on the side works perfectly well with this dish.

I also serve Corn with this and Brussel Sprouts. The sprouts I cut in half and pan roast, tossing in a little butter at the last minute as a light glaze.

So that’s it. This is a great meal for a cold or rainy day. I don’t think my mother ever served this in the summer. But I know in the winter I would have this and have plenty of energy to go out and play with my friends until she hollered for me to come in and go to bed.