Banana Oatmeal Low Calorie Pancakes (Gluten-Free Option too), by Bill Wilkat

Banana Oatmeal Low Calorie Pancakes, Tested and. Proven

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

A while ago I came across this interesting recipe for low calorie pancakes, and it’s quite unique since it can also be made gluten-free, (if desired), and they are dairy free thus fine for lactose intolerant individuals.  I’m not certain but I think it may have originated from the Live Strong web site as that recipe appears to be closest to this one, although there are other similar ones on-line if you search around.

Regardless, we tested out this recipe making a double batch (which makes about 12 pancakes depending on how large you make them—I made them about 3 1/2” diameter since that’s the size I prefer.

They tasted fine and were very light to eat. However, since there was no flour in the recipe in order to reduce the calorie count, I found the structural integrity of them to be more fragile than a regular pancake—more like an egg with milk added (although there is no milk in the recipe).  But you know how easily an omelet will break if too much milk is added to it, and that’s what they reminded me of.  That being said, we should have made only one batch for the two of us, and maybe added a couple of tablespoons of flour to make them less delicate. Also, since our eggs are so large, (we buy jumbo eggs locally from the Egg Shack), which may have made them thinner, and less sturdy?  Who knows?

According to Live Strong’s site, the calorie count per serving would be about 204 suggesting no more than 5 to 6 small pancakes based on my findings, so adding a little bit of flour won’t hurt, but adding a lot of syrup will LOL!  However, the idea here is to avoid flour, which is beneficial to people with Celiac disease, and to help people lose weight assuming they are on calorie reduced diets.  I understood that oats are gluten free, but it depends largely on how and where they are processed.  Here’s an interesting link you can read reading that: https://www.thekitchn.com/the-oat-conundrum-are-oats-glu-137074

To be on the safe side, you can buy gluten-free oats now, and I’d recommend that to anyone who needs to avoid gluten.

This was to serve 2:

  • 1- banana, about 110 calories
  • 2 eggs, about 80 to 85 calories (based on medium to large egg)
  • 1/3 cup of quick cooking oatmeal, about 100 calories
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder, about 1.5 calories

Based on my data, that’s a total of 381,5 calories divided by 2 = 191 calories for 1/2 of this recipe, (or one serving), until you add butter and syrup, so don’t forget to add that in if you’re counting calories.

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes with Strawberries & Maple Syrup

They turned out pretty well but they did not cook quite the same as regular pancakes, and I found that I need to lower the heat a little below medium to avoid burning them and ensuring they were cooked inside.  They don’t show many of the classic holes in the batter like regular pancakes either when cooking and before flipping them, so you need to lift the edge and inspect them first.

Review of Harry Potter & The 3 Broomstick’s Restaurant at Universal Orlando, Florida

Review of Harry Potter & the 3 Broomstick’s Restaurant at Universal Orlando, Florida August 27, 2016

Hogwart’s Castle

Edited Aug.20, 2018. My wife won a contest to Universal Theme parks including a stay at Lowe’s Sapphire Falls Hotel Resort located on site, and we made this trip in 2016.  As it was for 4 people, we brought along our son and our’s niece’s daughter to share the experience with us.  I posted a separate review of the hotel which can be found on-line, but I won’t go into that here except to say that meals were more affordable (and enjoyable), within the theme parks.  In any event, we weren’t there for the food LOL!  But I do tell you below about one decent place to eat while there–don’t miss it if you go!

View From Our Hotel Room–Waterway below offered a nice boat ride to the theme parks
View From Our Hotel Rom

Harry Potter Fun!  It’s obvious that this is the most popular aspect of the Universal Theme parks just by the way visitors make a beeline for the Harry Potter attractions at both Universal Studios and Island of Adventures.  We found the Potter attraction at Island of Adventures the better of the two and it has the best ride as well, (although it did make my wife and I a bit nauseous, which I felt was because the movements and film are not always as seamlessly synchronized as we’d like to see).  Despite that, it’s a fun ride and the buildings and shops are fun to see and walk around in.

Inside The Castle

Also it’s a good place to grab lunch and we recommend the “3 Broomsticks” restaurant where we ordered fall off the bone ribs, soup and salad and fish and chips. The fish and chips were just okay whereas the ribs, soup and salad were quite good. The beers offered are also quite tasty.  The 3 Broomsticks has something for everybody and a great atmosphere as well.  As you can see in the photos below, the decor is in keeping with the Harry Potter stories and it’s very warm and welcoming.

Interior Arched roof structure of the 3 Broomsticks Restaurant
Inside the 3 Broomsticks Restaurant

While there, you and/or the kids will want to try a “Buttered Beer”, which is a non-alcoholic, very sweet butterscotch flavoured beverage that they top with a foamy looking froth that to me may be some sort of “Cool Whip” derivative? At $8 ($12 with a plastic souvenir mug), hopefully the kids will love it, (of course adults with a sweet tooth will too, but for me it was sickly sweet).  I thought I detected a hint of root beer flavour in this drink as well, but perhaps that was just my imagination?  Make sure to drink plenty of water while there to stay hydrated, especially during hot weather it will make your visit more enjoyable.

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The views of the castle from the bridge are an ideal photo spot so get there before it gets too busy as it’s easier to take good photos when the bridge to Jurassic Park is not too crowded.

Hogwarts Castle – View Outside the 3 Broomsticks

They also sell a pricy magic wand that activates things in the windows of some of the shops and kids will pester parents for that, so be prepared.

Take the train ride between the two Potter attractions if you have a two park pass as it’s amusing. Lot’s of photo ops for the family at both locations.

As with all of these type of attractions, there’s bound to be some things that you love and some disappointments, but overall it scored well with all the visitors as you can readily tell by all the smiling faces you’ll see all around you.  For my money, I still prefer the Disney World Theme parks but that there are hits and misses there too, and regardless, the real fun of these places is to let yourself go and be a kid again too!

Jurrasic Park Photo Op on route to Hogwarts Castle

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Guitar–My Personal Method of Doing an Oil Finish On Wood by Bill Wilkat

My Personal Method of Doing an Oil Finish By: Bill Wilkat, March 5/2009 Edited Aug. 7, 2018

Introduction: 

I love the look and feel of a polished oil finish, and while high gloss finishes are beautiful and often stunning, there’s just something about an oil finish that makes me feel comfortable and at home.  I’ve entitled this article “ My Personal Method of Doing an Oil Finish” since I developed this method through trial and error, and note that things don’t always go like the directions advise in the product manufacturer’s instructions—although they should never be ignored, and followed before making any adjustments.  The fact of the matter is, that the manufacturer’s instructions cannot account for each type of wood, it’s specific moisture content, it’s grain structure, etc. and there a many variables.  For example: Doing an oil finish over stain may, or may not work, and without some experimentation prior to embarking on the finished product, once can be in for a surprise, and not all surprises are good! So don’t skip the trial and error routine, unless like to take chances.

Preparation:

As with any technique, preparation is the key step to a professional and satisfying result, and this does not mean that there is only one absolutely best way to do it, but that you can’t expect great results by taking shortcuts.  I spend a great deal of time and care sanding the surfaces prior to doing any type of finishing, and aside from a smooth clean surface, this includes close visual scrutiny to ensure that you have not overlooked file makes, scratches, or other defects that will leap out at you once you begin apply the finish. Stepping up to finer grades of sandpaper also requires visual inspection by first wiping down the entire wood surface with a clean rag and naphtha. Use naphtha because it evaporates quickly, does not leave a film, does not raise wood grain fibres, and yet it will reveal hard to see defects, or areas that need additional sanding. Experience is the best teacher, so practice, (as always) brings you closer to “perfect”.

Sanded body

I seldom sand to levels finer than #320 grit, but with some times of wood, you can go as fine as #400.  Obviously certain species of wood particularly those with more open grain will not initially look as appealing as a tight close grained variety, and this may make you consciously try to sand to finer levels, but it is seldom necessary.  Once sanding is completed, and all surfaces and properly cleaned and all defects have been removed, you can begin the oiling process.

Oiling:

Once again, there are numerous products on the market to consider, but my preferred favourite is a Danish Oil type called “Deftoil” natural, which is a mixture of tung oil and urethane.  Original “Danish Oil” was a mixture of oil and varnish, and does a fine job, but I prefer the urethane since it builds better, filling the grain quicker, and shines nicely afterwards without getting sticky.

Step 1: Prepare a hanger (such as a bent metal coat hanger with hooks at both ends to allow you to both hang the body, or neck, and to hang this assembly from a stand or the ceiling).

Hanging during oiling

Step 2: Have on hand a number of clean rags which will be disposed of throughout the process, and a small pail of water to immerse them into prior to disposal (done to prevent combustion).

Step 3: Have ready a suitable rag (I use an old dish towel most of the time), to lay the wood piece onto while brushing the oil onto the surfaces. The rag / dish towel will absorb excess oil and protect the bench top and the wood while doing this.

Step 4: Pour some of the oil into a small container, and using a small paint brush, (one inch or 25 mm wide works fine), begin dipping and liberally applying the oil to the surfaces of the wood all around. It’s a good idea to wear disposable latex gloves when doing this. Do not allow the oil to sink in for too long on one side of the piece before turning, but do give it a few minutes. Once well applied, lift the piece and hang it up in a convenient location, and ensure that you have some rags or paper towels on the floor below to collect excess oil dripping off of the piece.

Step 5: You will need to continue applying oil to the piece with the brush and keep the surfaces wet for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, using a clean dry rag, wipe off the excess oil, and allow the piece to hang until the next day. Periodically inspect the wood and wipe off any excess oil that might be appearing as spots on the surface.

Step 6: A light rubbing out with either a #400 grit wet/dry sandpaper or #0000 steel wool is usually required prior to applying the next application of oil. And, of course the surfaces will have to be wiped down thoroughly afterwards.

Step 7: Repeat steps 4 and 5.

Step 8: Repeat step 6, and use a #600 grit, or only the steel wool.

Step 8: If necessary (some woods are more likely to absorb oil than others and appear dry), you may need to repeat steps 4 and 5 again. If not, and the surface seems to be well sealed, then proceed to step 9.

Step 9: Using fine wet / dry sandpaper (I often use #1000, or #1500 grit for this), apply dabs of oil and rub out the surface with the sandpaper sanding in the direction of the grain when possible. Often at end grain, a circular motion works best, but requires more oil on the sandpaper, and periodic wiping with clean rags as you proceed. Be patient, “elbow grease” gets the job done. Then wipe the surface down with a clean rag, and hang to dry until the next day. Again check at regular intervals for any “bleed out” of the finish, and wipe it off. If you don’t do this, the urethane will dry and can harden into little difficult to remove spots, that stand out (in a bad way!).

Caution: Wear safety glasses whenever using any power tool (buffers included!).

Step 10: Often I will be ready at this stage to move to my buffing wheel, but sometimes it can be necessary to repeat step 9 as well. Alternatively, a rub out with #0000 can do the trick. With more open grain, the rub out process can result in small beads of gummy dried oil and urethane beading up under the sandpaper but this is fine and they can be brushed away by hand as you proceed, and the surface remaining will obtain a nice lustre. This is normally the time to wipe with a clean rag and begin buffing!

Body after rubbing out the finish and polishing

Step 11: Buffing. Ideally a buffing machine does the best job, and I start by using a wheel with a light application from a waxed medium compound bar applied to it (you can find these at luthier supply houses like Stewart MacDonald Guitar Supply). It’s important not to get rubbing compounds imbedded into the wood grain if it is not completely filled, and to use a light pressure when buffing. Once this is done, I move to the second stage of buffing using a light application of fine rubbing compound.

Buffing a body with th buffing wheel

NOTE: Using handheld buffers is fine, but use caution, do not apply heavy pressure, and keep the buffing pad moving.

Step 12: Final buffing is done using a “very light” application of fine quality wood polishing wax on the buffing machine or by hand. Final buffing can also be done by hand using soft rags. Again avoid heavy application of wood wax, as it can become imbedded into wood grain and leave a less than perfect appearance and is difficult to remove.

Completed Guitar

I hope you give this method a try, and urge you to experiment and test the process, as well as other oil finishing products on the market. A little practice, a fair bit of perspiration, and before you know it, you’ll be producing outstanding results that will draw many compliments!

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Indonesian Satay by Bill Wilkat Aug. 16, 2018

Indonesian Satay by Bill Wilkat Aug. 16, 2018

Makes 4 servings

This is a classic way to make some super tasty skewers of your favourite meats and I mostly use pork tenderloin for mine because it’s very lean, sturdy and marries well with the ingredients.  In the Netherlands, you’ll find it difficult not to have these served with the ever popular Indonesian Rice Table and paired with fluffy white rice or my preference Nasi Goering.  Many people also like to include peanut butter in he sauce mix, and that’s terrific too, but I will normally make it without since not everybody at the dinner table will have a taste for it, or may have a serious allergy to peanuts so it pays to be careful and considerate. If you want to add the peanut flavour, add about 1/2 cup of peanut butter, and adjust spice level to taste after cooking the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pork tenderloin about 21.5 ounces (0.610 grams)
  • 1/2 Onion finely diced
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves finely chopped
  • 1 Generous tsp of Sambal Olek (chilly paste)
  • 2 Tbsp Sodium Reduced Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Freshly grated Ginger
  • 1/2 Tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Finely diced Lemon Grass (tender stalk part)
  • 1/2 Cup Water

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Directions:

  • Soak 8 to 10  eight inch (200 mm) long bamboo skewers in water for 2 to 3 hours.
  • Wash pork with cold water and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Remove silver skin from pork tenderloin and cut into cubes about 3/4”  ( 20 mm ) size.
  • Blend the remaining ingredients together in a sauce pan and cook on medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes stirring occasionally, then let cool.
  • Add the meat and sauce together in a container or a resealable plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. If the sauce is too thick, thin with a little vegetable oil or water.
  • Put pork cubes onto skewers and then preheat BBQ on high.
  • If placing directly onto BBQ, ensure that grates have been cleaned and oiled before placing skewers on.
  • Alternatively, form a tray out of heavy aluminum foil, spray with vegetable oil, place of grate and add skewers on top.
  • BBQ. For about 4- 5 minutes per side and brushing with remaining marinade until done.

Pork Tenderloin Before removal of silver skin
Pork Tenderloin In Marinating Container

Serve with vegetables and rice, and a traditional favourite; crunchy prawn / shrimp chips called Kroepoek in Holland and Krupuk in Indonesia.  Other countries have their own similar names and methods of making them.

Pork Satay With Rice, Grilled Broccoli and Kroepoek

Handy Time Saving Tip: For a speedy way to make these, I have used and can recommend a pre-made marinade from a company called Asian Home Gourmet. This Indonesian Meat Satay marinade is made in Thailand, (distributed by Elco Fine Foods Inc. Markham ON.), mildly spicy and comes in 50 gram packets that you can find at most supermarkets in Canada. You’ll need 2 to 3 packets depending on how large your tenderloin is.

Review of Restaurant Avanti Trattoria, Oshawa, ON  by Bill Wilkat

Review of Restaurant Avanti Trattoria, Oshawa, ON. During Autofest

We’d been to this restaurant 3 times, each one of those times during the start of the Autofest on a Friday when they close down King street in downtown Oshawa Ontario so that the antique cars can be on parked and displayed, live music acts can be set up to entertain, and people can freely take in all of this activity without fear of bearing run over.  Avanti Trattoria is well situated in the centre of the activity and you can view the cars through the large front window if you get a seat in that area.  However, last year was the most disappointing visit for us at this place, and we wont be eating there this year, and here’s why:

Avanti Trattoria was better the prior two years that we went, and while the table service was fairly good taking our orders and serving our drinks, we waited an hour for our orders to arrive, despite being there early before the place got really busy.  However, the most surprising thing was when I ordered a Marguerita Pizza and the waitress said there was no fresh basil, but that there was basil in the sauce. So I asked for some arugula to garnish it instead of the basil but she said I’d have to pay extra for that!!!  Really?!!!  Not the way to satisfy a customer, nor a proper solution unless you don’t care for repeat business, which must be the case.  What Italian restaurant runs out of basil?

Please Join The California Wine Club

I did pay the $1.50 extra for the arugula, and I was definitely not pleased, but if I had not done so, what I would have had otherwise was nothing more than a simple plain tomato and cheese pizza that I could find any where (including in a frozen box).  A true Marguerita Pizza should have fresh tomato slices, fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese slices and fresh basil leaves, but apparently they don’t make it that way, which is extremely disappointing for an Italian restaurant.  Even their dough was nothing special.  Moreover, their menu says it has fresh basil on it–so yet another reason they should not have charged me anything for the arugula!

Menu

My wife said her pasta dish was not as good as it had been in the past either, and rated it as just okay. She said the very first time we ate there it was good, but a year later not quite as good, and this time disappointing.  I felt the same way about the pizza.

Incidentally the waitress tried twice to get management, (or the owners, I’m not sure which), to forego the extra charge for my arugula topping but they refused, so Kudos to her for trying, but not to them–seems they still have much to learn about the restaurant business!  They also do not take reservations, even for larger groups.

Frankly, I saw a number of positive reviews for this restaurant and wondered how that could be?  We don’t see any reason to ever go back there, and we wont.

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A Great Italian Recipe From Alex Milella a Great Guitar Player and Teacher!

A Great Italian Recipe From Alex Milella a Great Guitar Player and Teacher! By Bill Wilkat  Aug. 15,2018

Today’s posting is an unusual one since it’s a wonderful unique pictorial recipe that was sent to me by a super talented guitar player and teacher named Alex Milella.

I built a guitar for him back in 2006 based on his concept of a headless Steinberger style guitar with a body similar to a Paul Reed Smith model–it turned out to be one of my favourite guitars and I was pleased to have been chosen to build it for him.  Alex and the guitar reside in Italy and like so many of my past clients we struck up a friendship and talked about food as well as guitars.  As such, he went to work on his home computer and put together this collection of photos to send me one of his favourite pasta dishes called Penne all Melanzane, and it’s a perfect example of basic Italian cooking at its’ best.  The last photo with a sprig of fresh garden basil is how it turned out for us the first time we made it and we still enjoy it today.  So follow what you see in the pictures (no words are necessary), give it a try, and join me and say thanks to Alex and his family for allowing me to share this with all of you!  Thanks again Alex!

Oh, and be sure to listen to his fantastic playing and consider buying his album called Light Shades–it’s superb!  Enjoy the food and the Music! (Note: this is an unsolicited promotion of his music–I recommend it because it’s good, and no renumeration is paid to me for this).

Our Version Of Penne alle Melanzane

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An Overview of Wood Finishing by Bill Wilkat

An Overview of Wood Finishing

by Bill Wilkat, Jan. 2009  Edited Aug. 14, 2018

Hi Gloss Polyurethane Finish Over Stained Figured Maple

Oh man, there’s so much more to this subject than I will ever be able to cover in one article, but I can perhaps help you get started on the path to producing a really nice finish with a few words of advice based upon my experience and my trials and errors—yes, trials and errors. I stress this latter point because I know of no aspect of woodworking that has a greater learning curve, and the only true to way to get from point A to B is through one’s own trials and errors. If this does not sound too encouraging, please understand that I’m only trying to prepare you for what’s ahead—a lot of work!

Yeah, “work” is a “four” letter word, but not in the vulgar sense, but simply to stress that “you don’t get nothing for nothing” you need to work for it! And so, now that you are ready to say “screw this!”, those of you who are willing to put in the effort, stay with me, and the rest of you—well, click on out of here–and hire somebody to do it for you! LOL!

I can honestly say that finishing wood can be among the most challenging, but also one of the most rewarding tasks of any woodworking project, and musical instruments rank highly in that regard. The first, and absolutely the best advice that I will give you, is to practice on scrap pieces of wood, or old guitar bodies that you don’t mind sacrificing, or that you wont shed a tear for, should you botch the job. There’s nothing worse than tackling the finish on your pride and joy and ruining it by doing a sub-standard finishing job on that glorious hunk of wood that was destined to become your baby—the one you were planning to play with all your heart and soul, and proudly, (perhaps even smugly), display to your family and friends.

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That being said, the best place to start is by reading everything you can get your hands on about wood finishing, and that means trips to the library, purchasing books on the subject, and scouring the internet for articles like this one! Like many of you, I have been a fan of magazines on playing bass and guitar, and this is how I first learned about many of the master luthiers and a number of them have published books that cover everything about instrument building, finishing and repair. There’s no shortcut here, and I must say: read, read, and re-read—and only then will you be prepared to begin the real learning, by applying what you’ve read, bit by bit.

Virtually everybody loves the wet look of a mirror like lacquer finish that you feel you can dive into, but be advised that it is not always the best choice, and if applied too thick, can alter the tone of your instrument—however, it’s not always a negative thing, and personal taste is too subjective involving lots of emotion, so I’m not going to go there. What I will tell you is that there are many ways to finish wood, and which ever way you decide to go, a lot of the preparation is similar, and the first step involves doing a great deal of sanding once you’ve shaped and curved body and neck to your liking.

Thus, let’s look at how to proceed for this first step. Most of you will undoubtedly be using solid body construction, but hollow, (or semi-hollow), wood bodies need the same attention to detail, and it begins by using various grades of sand paper, and gradually working you way up to finer grits until you are ready to apply your selected media. For most of us, that means starting with a #150 coarse grit and working up to #220 fine grit, but I have and often gone beyond that to #320 fine grit before calling it quits. Again, nothing is absolute, but you don’t need to go crazy here, you just need to ensure that the surface is smooth, free of imperfections and tool marks, and clean, and often #220 is adequate. This is not a something that is done quickly—it takes time and lots of elbow grease, and patience. Once you think you are finished, you probably are not!

Surfaces Sanded with #220 Grit Sandpaper

I say this, because even under the best of light conditions, and even with seemingly meticulous scrutiny, we often discover later that we could have done it better, or missed a spot, or much to our surprise after the initial finish is applied, scratches are revealed that went previously unseen. Remember what I said about patience and elbow grease?

During the sanding sequence, it’s also vitally important to raise the grain of the wood and this requires introducing moisture into the process—not by wet sanding, but by wiping down the wood with water, using a damp rag (not dripping wet), and allowing the wood to dry. Once dry, the grain has been raised, the grit of the sandpaper can do it’s job and shear off the fine fibres that protrude above the surface, and make the wood feel smooth to the touch. Normally this must be done towards the end of the sanding process, and often needs to be repeated more than once. Also, final sanding should always be done by hand—avoid power sanders since you can not “feel” what you are doing, and they cannot properly reach into all the curves or gently follow the radii as required.

Make a Book of Your Project

To do final inspection of the surface, it is best to use Naphtha to wipe down the surfaces as it will not raise the grain further once you have gained a nice smooth surface, but it will reveal imperfections that require further attention. Tests will have to be done with scrap pieces of wood as well to test both stain colours and finishes applied over them.

Testing stains and finishes
Polyurethane over thin gold acrylic paint to allow wood grain to show through

Next, many types of wood—particularly species with open grain, will require a wood filler, and there are products available to assist with this task. If you don’t use them, it will take a lot longer to fill the surfaces of the wood to obtain a level surface, that will be the foundation of your finish. And, levelling the finish is the process of obtaining a smooth by cutting off the peaks (or high points) of the surface, in preparation for the next application of the finish media. This actually applies to all finishing media, but is most critical for high gloss finishes whether it is nitro-cellulose, or polyurethane, etc.

Sealers are often the next step, and are required to avoid having the finish drink into the wood which can result in considerable grief if you skip this step. Again purchase the correct products for this step, and you will be rewarded. However, before applying any sort of sealer, bear in mind that certain types of wood are oily in nature and require special preparation to reduce excess oil and minerals that can interfere with the applied finish. I’ve had good results by wiping and cleaning these woods with Acetone, which seems to do an excellent job, and follow this with Naphtha, since it never leaves behind a film.

Sprayed Polyurethane being wet sanded

I favour oil finishes and highly recommend them, especially for those who don’t have spray equipment, or for individuals (like me), who are sensitive to the fumes exuded by lacquers and/or synthetic finishing materials. In addition, an oil finish can be completed in less time than most high gloss finishes, and do not require long cure or drying times, which many people do not have the patience for. Today, many factories get around these problems by having costly spray rooms with special ventilation equipment, and cure time can be reduced using ultraviolet chambers designed to speed up the process. For the beginner, these are out of the question, and we need to establish a schedule to follow, and if we follow it diligently, we will get the results we are seeking.

Application of high gloss finishes for the beginner can be done using, a brush, spray cans, or a spray gun and a compressor but know what you are getting into before you begin, and your chances of success will be greatly improved. Again, research involving lots of reading makes the difference. If you are lucky enough to have a mentor who can show you first hand, even better! I can only tell you that if you try to rush any aspect of finishing, it will usually backfire on you, so don’t say I did not warn you.

Finished Guitar
Logo Underneath High Gloss Finish

An important tip that I will share, is to never do more than 3 spray applications per day, and to let these cure and dry for up to 2 weeks before doing any sanding, and then you can apply the next coats. This is the process of creating a “build”, which can be levelled through the sanding process. You’ll know when you’ve reached the final stage, but once again, you will need to use various grits of  sandpaper before you are ready to consider buffing out the finish. This will involve the technique of “wet sanding” and it is normally done with water, and the sandpaper is soaked and frequently rinsed in the water. The addition of a little bit of liquid soap into the water is done by some, but I prefer to avoid this, and instead, I change the water as soon as it tends to get cloudy. I normally start with a #400 or 600 grit but before long I am using #800. 1000 or 1500 grit. It’s important not too use a grit that is too aggressive since “rub-through” down to the wood is very easy to do, and something that is definitely to be avoided whenever possible—in particular if you are doing a clear high gloss finish over a stain.

Once you’ve reached your final level of wet sanding, and the surface has a beautiful even dull patina all over, you are ready for buffing. I find that often I did not need to exceed a #1500 grit, but the finer you go, the better the end result can become. Mind you, the rubbing compound takes over the work of fine sand paper, and a medium compound, followed by a fine compound usually gets the job done. Of course, a buffing wheel yields the best result at this stage, but hand buffing using a drill and a buffing pad can be substituted. Either way care must be taken to avoid “rub-through” which can happen in a heartbeat, as the buffing pads and/or wheels generate heat quickly if held too long in one place!

Buckeye Burl needed to be filled in places before finishing

The products available today are fantastic, and many builders are now employing the latest products with amazing results. Once upon a time, only nitro-cellulose was the primary lacquer of choice, but today modern products like polyurethane and polyester are preferred and are tough and durable. Do-it-yourself  types can also opt for water based finishes and great results are possible even with brush-on and wipe on products, so don’t shy away from them—test them and have fun experimenting. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations and safety precautions as well.

In the future, I’ll elaborate on my personal method of doing an oil finish, but for now, I urge readers to do the smart thing and read some of the superb publications already on the market. Remember, use your local library if you can’t afford to buy them, and read, read, read, and practice, practice, practice!

Review of The Taste Of The Danforth, 25th Year by Bill Wilkat, Aug. 13, 2018

Review of The Taste Of The Danforth, 25th Year by Bill Wilkat, Aug. 13, 2018

After the tragic day of July 22 this year, it was uplifting to see the wonderful turnout at “The Taste Of The Danforth” when we attended yesterday, Sunday August 12, 2018 to grab lunch.

This was my 3rd time attending the annual event that celebrated it’s 25th anniversary this year, and as usual there was a lot going on, and a slew of visitors.  Between shops and restaurants selling their products on the sidewalk, buskers, live music, and other forms of entertainment as well as the odd food truck, there was something for everybody.  People were happy and smiling and of course, it’s infectious so I found myself grinning too!

That brings me to the thing I notice most about outdoor events of this kind–the people.  People watching is definitely a widely practiced pastime, frequently entertaining, at times highly amusing, at times sad, but fascinating too, because there’s always something that surprises you, or makes you take a second look LOL!  You know exactly what I mean, as we all partake of “people-watching”.

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We parked at a municipal lot just east of Pape one street north of Danforth and daily parking was only $6.00, or $3.00 / hour if you prefer to stay less than 2 hours—a bargain compared to most parking fees—but, if you use Toronto’s Green P Parking app, you’ll need to top up your account first, which I only found out later was a minimum amount of $20, so I suggest you pay at the parking meter if visiting from out of town.

Security was visible everywhere, and large city trucks were used to create a solid barricade against crazies who have been known to run vehicles into crowded venues and streets—fortunately there were no such despicable acts this weekend, and the event could be enjoyed as it should be.  Every town or city is a potential target these days, but we can’t stop living and allow fear to control our lives nor prevent us from living our lives as we should.  We felt safe, but I still periodically scanned around looking for oddities that might signal potential danger–it pays to remain vigilant, no matter how secure you might feel.

We stopped at Asteria Souvlaki as they had an outdoor grill set up and for $6.00 you could grab a Chicken Souvlaki in a pita wrap, and I bought a couple for Vicki and I to try.  The chicken was not dried out, and the tzatziki sauce was not overwhelming, so along with the onions in the wrap it proved to be quite satisfying for me, and I rated it a 4 out of 5.  Vicki was less generous, describing hers as “just okay”.  You could choose to just have it on a stick, but I find it less enjoyable that way unless I’m having a sit down dinner with all the trimmings.

We continued on and my son Bryan bought some sweet local roasted “peaches and cream” corn on the cob to munch on before he bought a Chicken gyro at Messini Authentic Gyros to fuel up on.

Bryan with Corn on the Cob

With the works, the gyro even had some French fries in it, which struck me as less authentic LOL!  He didn’t mind as he was hungry but rated it only 3.8 out of 5:  He found the chicken was tasty and well seasoned, there was a good amount of tzatziki sauce, and having fries in it reminded him of a place in Montreal called Boustain where they feature it as “a Creation”.  But, he would have given it higher points except for the fact that the fries tasted like McCain’s frozen fries, (soggy and mealy), and didn’t have the homemade potato texture and flavour you’d expect from a restaurant.  Like he said, “If they would put a little extra effort into making the fries, and had a better line up system for ordering, I would have rated them better”.  But he would still give them another try.  You always hope for better from “non-chain” restaurants and sort of expect it for an event like Taste Of The Danforth.

Photo Courtesy of “a hungry girl’s guide to Taipei”

During our stroll, at the Celebrity Stage located at Logan Street, Sabrina Soares and her band were performing and the music was extremely tight and well polished with some great vocals piped through the sound system. They listed her as R and B, and I won’t argue that, but it was really good all the same—I didn’t hear enough of it as they were on a break by the time we made our way back.

In the heat of yet another hot and humid summer day, after 2 hours we’d had our fill and set off for home and the comfort of an air conditioned car.  If you go next year, be sure to stay well hydrated and wear some comfy clothes and walking shoes so that you can thoroughly enjoy the experience.  If you aren’t into Greek fare, there’s plenty of other options including Asian food and naturally plenty of patrons there were devouring ice cream cones and even fresh mangoes on a stick!  Or just site and enjoy a cool one on an outdoor terrace with your meal.

Sorry I didn’t take a lot of photos but will post some video links in the future when time allows.

Review of Fionn MacCool’s, 2350 Highway #2 Bowmanville ON

Review of Fionn MacCool’s, 2350 Highway #2 Bowmanville ON. By Bill Wilkat Aug.12, 2018

Fionn MacCool’s is a restaurant / pub chain that suggests Irish Pub food but the menu goes beyond just the typical things you’d expect to find at an Irish Pub.  That’s not a bad thing, as it’s nice to have alternatives to typical Irish stew and meat pies.  However, if you desire Irish Stew you’re out of luck because it’s not on the menu, although you can order classic Steak and Kidney pie or Lamb Shanks.

They claim all their meats are raised without the use of antibiotics, hormones, or steroids, and that their eggs are from chickens raised in a free run environment.  In addition, all food is reported to have been sourced from Canadian farms and that their fish is sustainably wild caught.  Daily Specials were advertised outside the entrance.

Daily Specials

Menu-Regular

Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Menu  Note: Very limited number of Vegan-Friendly Items on the menu

The chain’s decor was pretty much what I expected to find in a pub-style restaurant which is typically rustic, welcoming, and suggestive of cozy comfort on a chilly evening.  But considering we were there on a very warm summer day we elected to sit on the outdoor patio.  Unfortunately the patio only affords a view of King street and while it’s set a decent distance back from the road, the passing traffic noise level was very unpleasant.  Too bad they don’t have some sort of sound blocking barrier on that sides it sure would help to improve the outdoor dining experience–something they need to look into doing.

We were promptly & warmly greeted upon entering, soon seated, and had drinks on order shortly after receiving our menus.  They have a good selection of beer and I happily ordered a Killkenny, and Guiness and sparkling water was ordered by my dinner companions; comprised of my wife Vicki, my son Bryan and his girlfriend MJ.  We soon decided our dinner order but shortly after learned that MJ’s order for a gluten-free hamburger could not be filled because they were all out gluten-free buns.  Her request for alternative gluten-free bread proved negative as well.  This was particularly disappointing since one of the reasons that we elected to eat at this restaurant was the fact that they purportedly had a gluten-free menu to select from.  We felt that they should have been better prepared given that it was just before 6 pm, early in the dinner service period for a Saturday!

MJ ordered the Cobb Salad ($17.95) to satisfy her need for a gluten-free meal but did not find it satisfying, especially since the egg was served as hard-boiled with a green coloured border between the weak yellow covered yolk and the egg white.  She had hoped that it would match the lovely photo as shown in the menu with yolks that were still a bit soft and slightly runny and bright orange–but it looked nothing like that.  If you know how to cook an egg, this sort of thing is easily avoided.  The dressing had no presence and the blue cheese tasted like it had been frozen.  Additionally, there was shredded orange cheddar cheese (which did nothing to enhance the salad and should have been left out), and the chicken meat looked greyish in colour, appearing dry as if it had been sitting out too long.

Vicki ordered Fish and Chips ($15.50 for one piece) and Bryan had the Publican Tophat Burger ($17.75) and they both requested that their fries be unsalted.  This was a special order, and they were told that this would take a little longer as the kitchen would have to prepare them separately. The fries looked excellent, but sadly they were mealy in texture.  Given that they boast that their fries are always fresh and never frozen, they had hoped for better results and both felt that they tasted like frozen fries.  It was difficult to know for certain, and I sampled a couple of fries and felt that their choice of potato may have been the culprit as they were indeed dry and mealy.

Fish & Chips
Publican Burger

On the bright side, the fish was properly cooked with a crispy batter, and the hamburger was quite good.  I had a bite of the burger and found it to be acceptable, but a little too salty for my tastes due to the layer of crispy fried cheese.  I believe my Fish Tacos ($16.50) and Market Green Salad (included), were the highlight of our meals.  I was impressed with the super crispy beer batter coating on the fresh cod, and the luscious avocado ranch dressing, which married perfectly with the cilantro-lime Cole slaw and pickled onions in the wraps.  The Market Salad was fresh with a tasty dressing and crunchy pumpkin seeds.  Meal portions of all the orders was more than adequate to satisfy most people and I could have gotten by with only two tacos, but I ate the 3rd one as well, because it was that good!

Fish Tacos & Market Green Salad

We enjoyed excellent service, and I found the background music to my liking as well, so all in all, a pleasant dining experience despite the road noise–but it was not cool of MacCool’s to run out of gluten-free buns, and they really need to re-evaluate their fries to improve on them.

Bottom line:  Nothing to set them apart from similar chains of this type, and as far as a rating, I’d give them no better than 3 out of 5.

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Pizza Muffin Cups – Bill’s Version Nov. 2016

Pizza Muffin Cups – Bill’s Version Nov. 2016

Pizza Muffin Cups With Fresh Basil

I love pizza, and have since the day I tried my first one when I was about 8 years old.  That was a basic simple plain tomato and cheese pizza, but I was hooked with the chewy dough, the tomato sauce and the gooey cheese as it stretched across the void between me and the plate as I pulled out the first slice.  Now, I enjoy all sorts of pizza and experiment with different ideas and so this one was a no-brainer and I had to try it.  I saw a number of recipes on-line, and once I learned what had been done by a number of other home cooks, I did what I often like to do; procrastinate a bit, and then when the urge strikes, I buy what I need at the grocery store and head off to the kitchen to make my version.

Of course, making something like this always takes me back to the days when our family lived in an apartment next door to the Leaning Tower Of Pizza restaurant on Decarie Blvd. in Montreal.  It was one of the absolute best places for pizza in the 1960s.  They had an outdoor raised patio with the usual tables, chairs, and umbrellas, and that amazing aroma of freshly baked pizza would find my nostrils and have me instantly salivating….mmm…..I can almost taste it now!  Naturally, now days it would not be perfect without a nice glass of red wine, which is just another good reason to make a pizza based recipe LOL!

Ingredients:

  • Wonton Wrappers (2 per muffin cup)
  • Fresh tomato or Salsa (about a teaspoon per muffin cup)
  • Herbs dried and/or fresh: oregano, basil, garlic powder to taste
  • Chopped or grated cheese—any hard cheese works fine (about a teaspoon per muffin cup)
  • Chopped mushroom (1/2 button mushroom per muffin cup)
  • Chopped sweet pepper—green, yellow, red as desired (about a 1/2 teaspoon per muffin cup) 
  • Pepperoni (1 slice per muffin cup)

Instructions:

  • Grease/oil the muffin tin before putting in the wonton wrappers, (two per cup), then add sauce, cheese, and pepperoni.
  • Bake at 375 F in preheated oven for 14 minutes (rotate 180 degrees halfway through) Turn off oven and let rest for 4 minutes in the oven.
  • Cool for 5 minutes out of oven on metal rack before removing from muffin tin and serving. 
  • Cooking time may vary a little depending on your oven but not by much—they should be done when the dough is GB&D (golden brown and delicious).
  • I used salsa seasoned with oregano, basil, & garlic to get Italian flavour as well as some chopped mushroom, peppers, and one slice of pepperoni per cup broken into 4 pieces. If you use fresh tomatoes, rough chop them, place in a bowl, add the herbs and spoon the mixture into the muffin cups.
Pizza Muffin Cups

This makes a quick lunch, or light dinner, (2 with a salad makes a nice light supper).  You can also use Pillsbury dough or puff pastry but wonton wrappers are easy to find now, and you can freeze individual packets with differing quantities in each freezer bag, or vacuum pack them ready for use. If using frozen wrappers, they will need to be thawed first.

I’ve made mini lasagna cups using this method as well (for that idea, you cut the wrappers into rounds to fit your muffin tin, and you then layer with meat sauce and cheese.

Lasagna Muffin Cup

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