Knife Shoppe

Hi ya’all. I haven’t been very active here lately because I had some work to do. Including that after months and months of heavy procrastination, I have finally purchased web hosting and a domain and started a small webpage for my knives.

www.kb-noze.cz

Constructive criticism is welcome.

The webshop interface does not allow me to display prices in other currencies than Czech Crowns (yet), but I do hope that anyone can convert it to USD or € or whatever should they need to. I will gladly sell anywhere in the world as long as it is financially feasible for both me and the customer, but selling outside of the Czech Republic must be done through individual arrangements and cannot be done simply via the webshop interface (not yet). The reasons are simple – additional currencies and shipping outside CZ are both available for an extra charge and I am not ready to dish out more money than is strictly necessary. Not yet, anyway.

I am thinking about adding a knife-making blog there, but I am somewhat discouraged by the amount of work that it would entail.

I will leave this post pinned to the top of the page for some time.

A Kestrel Knife

I’ve been extremely busy these last few months, that is, I was busy when I had the spoons and the strength to do anything meaningful at all. Knifemaking has progressed at a snail’s pace, which those who read the knife blogge will know. But I did manage to finish dressing up two more blades from my first overabladeance and today I sharpened them and I started to take pictures. And I started with the smaller of the two.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I tried my hand at embossing the sheath with a picture of a kestrel, based on one of my own photographs. I do not think I have done a spectacular job, but I showed it to a few people IRL who seemed to like it. Although some thought the kestrel was an eagle. But I think that is an indictment of their knowledge of birds and not of my leather carving ability. Though honestly, I had trouble getting into the mindset needed to work, I am barely keeping depression from eating my brain.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The blade is an old design that I have shown here multiple times. Nothing new about that, but I tried some new materials for the handle and I think they show great promise for future projects.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

 

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I used strongly decomposed (spalted) wood and this time, I submerged the wood in wood dye first and then I stabilized it with a resin that cures at 80°C. And it worked very well. The dye soaked primarily into the more decomposed parts and that created an additional marbling effect to the one created by the fungus itself. The white-ish inserts are not bone this time, but also resin-stabilized material – birch polypore, Fomitopsis betulina. It looks to be very promising material, I will write about it more when making my next project with it. And the chocolate brown inserts are also resin stabilized conk – tinder fungus, Fomes fomentarius. That also looks like a promising material for bolsters, inserts, etc.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

And to cap it off, at the end of the tang is a nut shaped like a heraldic rose blossom.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Sometime this week I will also make pictures of the second knife. That one is significantly bigger.

Spiderslug!

Today in the morning I went to my greenhouse to plant some tomatoes and I was greeted by something I had never seen before – a slug hanging from the ceiling on a thread something looking very much like spider silk. It was not easy to snap a picture with my phone but I managed to get the bugger into focus twice and the thread is visible if you look closely. I do not know if it was bitten by a radioactive spider or somesuch. I suspect more that it was a freak accident where the slug fell from the ceiling and the humidity and temperature were just right for it to remain hanging on a thread of desiccated slug slime.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The slug did not survive its attempt at an aerial assault on my tomatoes. No slug that gets caught within the greenhouse survives long enough to tell the tale I am afraid, and neither do many that I encounter in the garden. I do not like killing living creatures but I am not working my ass off so slugs can have a feast and I learned a long time ago that one can be on the side of either the slugs or the veggies, but not both.

Land unter (Floodings)

Did you ever read that quote “Climate change will manifest as a series of disasters viewed through phones with footage that gets closer and closer to where you live until you’re the one filming it”? (afaik by Perthsire Mags on the dead bird site)

Well, here I am

muddy brown water of a flooded river under a bridge. There#s less than 30 cm of space between the bottom of the bridge and the water

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This is our village centre. If you want a reference: Normally, if you jump off that bridge, you’ll fall for 3m and then break both your legs. On Friday, heavy rain started falling in the southwest of Germany, especially my Bundesland, the Saarland. While there had been warnings, it was even worse than foreseen as the rain just didn’t move on. Within 24 hours, more than 100 l of rain fell per square metre, in the capital more than 150l , which is twice the amount we usually get during the whole month of May. The situation evoked bad memories of the Ahrtal flooding three years ago, when hundreds of people died, but at least they seem to have learned from that and the crisis management worked really well, with just one person injured and no deaths.

Personally, I’m fine, our house sits above the wetlands that are there to absorb the rain and our village wasn’t that badly hit, though the people next to the river had flooded basements. Other places are much worse off, with evacuations and water up to the ground floor. Rebuilding will take time and money. Oh, do I need to mention that the same day we were hit by this, the legislative finally gave green light to gutting our climate protection laws?

Facon (Tofu bacon)

I have recently discovered my love for tofu. Turns out all the people who always told me that you just needed to do x to make it taste good were lying and you actually need to do Y. We’re currently using about 2 pounds of tofu per week and a lot of it is used to make fake bacon.

Start by making am marinade: soy sauce, barbecue sauce (if you really want it vegan, use some without honey), liquid smoke (the secret ingredient to so many things) and whatever you like. I often use herbs, or some fruit sirup, garlic, … Put it into a ziplock bag or plastic box. Slice some smoked tofu into thin slices and put into the marinade. It should be in there for at least a couple  of hours, best over night. You can now fry it in a pan or an airfryer, or use it like that. And unless you need to be careful with sodium, you can eat hlf a pound and still call it healthy.

A Question About the Student Protests.

I have a question to ask regarding current student protests against the genocide in Gaza. Police in the USA is cracking down on them violently, as is usually the case. There have been a lot of student protests throughout history all around the world. I am of course not familiar with too many of them, but two from my own country were most remarkable. One such protest in 1939 led to a violent crackdown led by the Nazi secret police Gestapo and extrajudicial executions of a number of students and it is today the reason for November 17 being International Student’s Day The other was in 1989, the violent crackdown was led by the Communists secret police StB and it has sparked the Velvet Revolution.

In those two instances a pattern arises, one that is not difficult to spot. That leads to my question:

Was there at any time and any place in history an instance of violent smackdown on student protests where the judgment of history was on the side of the police and not on the side of the students?

From the top of my head, I do not know about such an occurrence.

The best vegan rabbit stew you’ve ever had

This was from our “watch the LOTR trilogy and eat like Hobbits marathon”. The original recipe uses rabbit or chicken, and is an homage to Samwise’s rabbit stew.

A plate with stew at the top, couscous on the leaft, and vegetable Tajine on the right

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Sorry for the bad pic…

Anyway, my friend made it with soy chunks and it was so good we had to make it again  a week later. It takes a lot of time, but not much work.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of unseasoned soy chunks, the “like chicken” variety that is pretty dense. I wouldn’t use tofu here

2-3 onions, depending on size and your taste, cut to taste

garlic

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon allspice

2 teaspoons sage or thyme

3 tbsp olive oil

2 teaspoons sugar

500 ml red wine

some red wine vinegar (I prefer crema de balsamico)

50g tomato paste

2 laurel leaves

salt and pepper to taste

  • rub the “meat” with herbs, pepper and allspice, set aside.

-use a cast iron pot, a dutch oven or anything that allows the stew to simmer nicely on the stove or go into the oven, heat the oil and gently brown the onions with the sugar for about 10 minutes. If you use the oven, preheat to 150°C now.

-add the garlic, fry for another minute. Add the “meat” and fry for five more minutes or so. Add wine, vinegar, tomato paste laurel and salt. Cover with a lid. Either put it into the oven or reduce the heat. Stir every 10 minutes or so for about 2 hours. I had to add some more wine and water because the soy chunks basically slurped up the sauce. Season again, garnish with parsley, and serve with po-ta-toes.

Just Bread

If you’re one of the three people globally who didn’t make their own sourdough bread during the first Covid lockdowns, this is for you.

Contrary to popular belief, sourdough is neither difficult or complicated, it’s just time intensive, because if you want to make it, you need to start at least a week before. Or you buy sourdough starter. Whatever. About once a year I get the strong urge to make sourdough bread. I start my sourdough, bake breads for a couple of weeks, and then at some point my starter dies. I feel zero remorse over this.

To start your sourdough, mix 50g of flour with 50 g of lukewarm water in a mason jar, and put it somewhere not too cold. Repeat every day for at least 6 days. Some recipes will tell you it’s fine after three days, but in my experience, it takes at least a week to get a really active sourdough.

Once you have a nice starter, you can make bread. Start the day before your want the bread, best around early in the afternoon. Take:

1kg of flour, 22 g of salt, 200 to 300 g of starter, 400-500ml of water. You can add nuts, grains, seeds to your liking.

I’m not telling you which flour to use, it should work with most gluten containing flours, but you’ll have to find our how much water you need.

If you want to give it a headstart, you can make a “poolish”: feed your sourdough well (at least a double amount), take off your 200-300 g, put those in a nicely warm place (30-35°C) for an hour. This step is optional, but probably wise if you only start late in the afternoon.

Back to the non optional parts: put everything into your kitchen machine and knead for about 10 minutes. You can watch internet tutorials that will tell you how to do it by hand, insisting that those very movements, turns and folding techniques are absolutely necessary, but in my opinion, that’s nonsense. Once it’s done, cover with a damp cloth. Every 1.5 to 2 hours, you wet your hands and stretch and fold it, right until you want to go to bed. Then you fold it a last time, shape it into a ball, and put it either in a special bread basket liberally coated with flour, or a bowl, cover again with a damp cloth, put it somewhere cool but not cold (I use our stairway as it is pretty much lways between 15and 20 °C)and go to bed.

In the morning, you bake it. There are several options here: you can just use your cookie sheet, a pizza stone (my preferred method) or a dutch oven (put in baking paper), but it’s very important that you preheat to 200°C, especially when using a stone or dutch oven. These need to be 200° as well, so I usuall preheat at least 30 minutes. Put the bread upside down on your stone/sheet, dutch oven and  cut the top. If you’re using a dutch oven, cover it for the first 30 minutes, if not pour some water on the bottom of your oven (or use ice cubes) to create steam. If you use the dutch oven, remove the lid after 30 minutes, bake for about 1 h. Let it cool and enjoy.

A sourdough bread with a golden brown crust, cut in half

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The Hobbits go plant based

I’ve long suffered from a bad conscience from leaving Charly to do all the work here, but I still couldn’t drag my butt in the metaphorical chair (no more real chair for me) to type something meaningful. I still don’t have the spoons to type anything politically interesting, but since I’ve been sharing more and more food on Mastodon I thought: why not write some lighthearted recipe posts? I think I can manage that.

The recipes will all be plant based. The Giliell family has significantly reduced their animal product consumption over the recent years anyway and a few weeks ago my eldest went fully vegan. Now, this is a disclaimer for all the posts here: I’m not vegan. I’m not trying to be and this is NOT and invitation to any vegans to try and convince me. You didn’t manage to do so the last 15 years and I doubt you will do so now. That’s why I’m using the label plant based as it describes my personal approach: creating delicious food while using plant based ingredients. This is about the joy of eating, not about discussing ideology or philosophy. Just yummy, no judgement.

Why Hobbits? Because during the easter week we hosted a Lotr movie marathon (actually 2 days, because eating took too much time) with mostly vegan food, mostly based on “things that fit the general middle earth theme” from an unofficial cookbook.

So, let’s get started with some hearty date and sesame bars that will give you lots of energy for walking to Orodruin or going to school

You need

150g of dried fruit: dates, apricots, raisins…, cut into small pieces. I wouldn’t use too much apples or mangos, because they’re lacking stickiness.

125g of flour

125g of oats

1 tsp baking powder

1-3 tbsp sesame seeds

Mix all dry ingredients

120-150 g margarine or vegan butter. Don’t try to reduce the fat or your mass will not stick

75 g brown sugar

1tbsp maple syrup or any other sugary syrup

Melt margarine, mix with sugar and syrup. Pour over dry ingredients and mash together. Put everything on a cookie sheet, push flat. Don’t try a dish. I did that the first time and they stayed nicely soft.

Bake at 180° C for about 20-25 minutes, cut while hot. They keep well. Or would if they weren’t gobbled up so fast. you can create your own favourite mix. Add sunflower seeds, leave out dates, your call.

rectangle bars in a plastic container and on a cookie sheet

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Moar Easter Gingerbreads

My mother made these on Sunday and only just now I got around to post them.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Knives on Snow

Winter did not want to give up yet, which suits me just fine. I wanted some pictures of my newly made knives with snow/winter backgrounds and I could not do it because the winter was insanely tepid and wet with nary a snowflake in sight. Yet tonight the weather obliged and I woke to a nice sunny day with a few cm of snow cover. Thus right after breakfast I went out and arranged all three knives and took pictures. I might never use them for the intended purpose, but I am glad I made them anyway.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I am also glad for the cold spell since it gave me reprieve from hard labor in the garden and I could spend the day indoors making knives again. I still have a lot of undressed blades to finish.

The snow melted right away and everything is soggy now.  Still more should come according to the forecast. I was just about to plant the potatoes when it started to snow and now it might take a few more days before I can do that. Hooray!

2023 Christmass Gingerbreads

Here are some of my mother’s creations she made for last Christmas. I forgot to post them at the time.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

2024 Eeaster Gingrebreads

I completely forgot to post my mother’s creations for the previous Christmas. Would you be interested in seeing them now? Before you answer, here are the gingerbreads she made for this Easter.

Her hands are shaky but they are still beautiful. And delicious. And most importantly – making them brings her joy.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Habsolutly Hamazin Dhance!

Usually, I am indifferent to looking at dancing and hate doing it. but this video captivated me completely. It is a rare case of me being amazed.

I like the original song a lot but I did not listen to it for a long time. Thus I do not know why the algorithm recommended it today, but it done did do good this time. I think the performance is simply stunning in every aspect, starting with the choice of venue, the lighting, the color scheme of the costumes, the choreography, and simply everything. It must have been a lot of work and rehearsing, but the result is simply amazing. And it really is difficult to impress me with a dance routine enough to want to share it.