Monthly Archives: January 2003

School’s Out

The Samurai School of Appliantology was one of those bold, foolish experiments on the web that was supposed to be a user-supported resource. The School has 1121 registered students and it costs $100/year to open the School without those hideous popup ads–that’s less than 10 cents per student! If only 20 students had contributed $5, that would have paid the bills. But less than a handful of students contributed. So, the Samurai School is now closed to new students. It is being left open for the time being so grasshoppers can browse it.

You can still seek the Samurai’s wisdom in the Appliantology group. The group has a message board, chat room, photo albums, and other features that make it a good venue for conveying appliance repair help.

Right now, it doesn’t cost anything to join the Appliantology group and membership is open to all. But the one-way gimmie ride is grinding to a halt. Soon, would-be members to the group will have to contribute something to join: beer money, technical information, appliance repair photos…something that contributes in some way to the group or its maintenance.

Soul Food

My cousins in Michigan emailed me this. I like it. Enjoy.

I asked God to take away my habit.

God said, No.

It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.

God said, No.

His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary

I asked God to grant me patience.

God said, No.

Patience is a byproduct of tribulations;

it isn’t granted, it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness.

God said, No.

I give you blessings; Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.

God said, No.

Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares

and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.

God said, No.

You must grow on your own!

But I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.

God said, No.

I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.

I ask God to help me love others, as much as He loves me.

God said…Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.


Hillstomping Update: Kinsman Pond

Had a great snowshoe hike up North Kinsman the Friday after Christmas. On Christmas Day, Wednesday, we got a thick blanket of snow and Friday was a perfect day for snowshoeing: the snow had settled for two days, clear blue skies and chilly, about 20°F at the base, maybe 10°F at Kinsman Pond. Total mileage about 7½. You can check out all the pictures from this hike here.

snow path--click for larger viewGoing up the Lonesome Lake trail, the snow was well packed from all the hikers going to the Lonesome Lake hut and you hardly needed snowshoes. At Lonesome Lake, I had spectacular views of the south side of Cannon Mountain and the ever-majestic Franconia Ridge.

But going up the Fishin’ Jimmy trail to Kinsman Pond was a whole different deal. A few intrepid souls had ventured about a third of the way up and packed the trail a little bit but turned back when the trail began its steep ascent to the pond. From that point on I was bustin’ powder. A couple of times, I had to claw my way up sheer rock faces. I almost turned back more than once but caught my breath long enough to keep going. As I ascended, the temperature kept dropping and it got so cold that the water in my hydration tube froze solid. It would’ve been funny if I weren’t so damn thirsty. I could have removed the hydration bladder from my pack and drank directly from it but the problem is when it’s that cold outside, you start to chill as soon as you stop moving. The thought of standing still for several minutes, fumbling around with my water bladder with numb fingers didn’t appeal to me much so I just sucked on some snow and kept going.

North Kinsman from Kinsman Pond--click for larger viewAfter more than an hour of busting through three feet of fresh powder and scrambling over vertical, snow-covered boulders, I saw the Cascade Brook trail junction sign. By then, even Ouzo was feeling it. A little further beyond that was Kinsman Pond, from which I had a spectacular view of North Kinsman. There were two guys camping out at the Kinsman Pond campsite. They’d come up the Cascade Brook trail the day before, breaking snow the whole way. That’s hard core!

Appliance Tip of the Day: Money Saving Tips for Commercial Kitchens

appliance tip of the day archiveHere are some cool tips from The Gasket Guru for your restaurant or commerical kitchen that’ll save you $$.

Your restaurant’s profit is typically only 3 to 9 percent of total revenue! Money you save on operating costs adds to what you keep. Saving 20 percent on energy operating costs can increase your profit as much as one-third. Wouldn’t savings like that be worth a second look?

Fun Facts to Know and Tell

  • An average restaurateur spends 2-4% of every dollar on utilities.
  • Electricity is typically a restaurant operator�s greatest utility expense.
  • A typical restaurant divvies up its energy dollars to: cooking (23%), space heating (19%), water heating (19%), lighting (11%), and other needs.
  • Compared to a sit-down restaurant, a quick-service restaurant uses about 8% more of each energy dollar for cooling and refrigeration.
  • One broiler can use more energy than six fryers.
  • Saving 20% on energy can boost a restaurant�s profits by up to 33%.

Getting a Grip

  • Make a list of all equipment
    to be included in the program.
  • Develop data on each piece
    of equipment. Include energy source, input, purchase date and warranties. Record this in a book, on cards,
    or in your computer. List maintenance tasks that can be done by regular staff and those that should be
    referred to a qualified agency.
  • Determine exactly what maintenance needs to be done on each piece and the frequency
    with which it needs to be done. Certain functions such as �check for loose parts, grease or oil leaks
    and malfunctions� should be carried out each time the equipment is used. Others need to be done daily,
    weekly, or even once a year. Equipment checks performed each day should be incorporated into cleaning
    instructions and mounted beside or close to each piece.
  • The various maintenance tasks
    to be performed should be placed on a master monthly or yearly schedule and indicate how and by whom each
    function should be done. The master schedule should be referred to regularly.
  • Always list repairs, costs
    and dates completed on the records. As equipment ages, keep close check on repair costs. Although the
    replacement point will vary somewhat between types of equipment, a good rule of thumb is to replace when
    costs in one year total one half the original purchase price.
  • From time to time analyze
    the nature of repairs to determine if procedures should be changed. Frequency of parts failure indicates
    that they should be replaced before malfunction. An example of this is putting new door gaskets on refrigeration
    as soon as signs of wear are noticed.


  • Tears or gaps in the door gaskets let all that expensive cold air escape into the kitchen. Call Mr. Appliance ASAP to replace the gaskets.
  • Keep the door gaskets clean and clear of unsanitary mold buildup. In addition to being a health code violation, molds produce acids that make the gasket brittle and subject to premature cracking and tearing.
  • Brush and clean the condenser once a month. A dirty condenser causes the compressor to run longer.

Solid-Top Ranges

  • Solid-top gas ranges will reach
    the proper cooking temperature after 10 to 20 minutes preheating. Additional preheating wastes energy.
  • Cooking utensils should make
    flush contact with the cooking surface. Dented pot bottoms increase operating costs.
  • Grouping cooking utensils will
    require fewer burners and uses less energy. Always turn down the flame when proper cooking temperature
    has been reached. The heat may be varied for different sections of the unit, thus eliminating the need
    for maintaining the entire cooking surface at peak heat.
  • While the surface is still
    slightly warm, clean the range with a heavy burlap cloth or steel wool. Remove grease or dirt lodged under
    flanges, lids, rings or plates. Never pour water directly on the range.

Open-top Ranges

  • Open-top ranges do not require
    preheating. To save energy, turn burners off when not in use.
  • Any type of cooking utensil
    may be used because the flame tailors itself to the shape of the utensil. For maximum efficiency and heat,
    regulate burners so the flame tips barely touch the bottoms of the cooking utensils.
  • Power burners should be considered
    for additional energy savings and efficiency. Maintain according to manufacturer�s recommendations.
  • After the range has cooled,
    wash grates, burner bowls and spillover trays. Use hot water and grease solvent if necessary. Clean food
    spillage from burner ports with a stiff wire. Clean entire range top with a solution of grease solvent
    when required. If the range has painted surface DO NOT use oven cleaner, or other harsh chemicals, wire
    brushes, or metal scrubbers, as these can damage the paint.
  • Use sealer strips on range
    batteries. These snap-on channels create a seal between adjoining ranges and help keep the spaces between
    equipment free of spilled food and grease.

Gas Griddles

  • Avoid unnecessarily long preheat
    times or overheating the griddle prior to or during use. Many new gas griddles preheat in 15 minutes or
  • A low or medium flame is adequate
    for light frying. During slack periods, turn down the burner or thermostat to conserve energy.
  • Cleaning is easier when the
    griddle is slightly warm. Consult manufacturer�s instructions. Some griddle plates are most easily cleaned
    with an abrasive griddle brick or screen. Some of the newer griddle surfaces should be cleaned with a
    brush, recommended griddle cleaner or water, to avoid scratching. After cleaning, wipe dry with an absorbent

Gas Broiling

  • Because gas broilers heat quickly,
    the flame can be turned low between operations. During slack periods, the broiler may be turned off completely.
    The super-fast, infrared broilers that require no preheating may be turned off after each use.
  • To save gas during slack periods,
    turn off the unused portions of a multiple-burner broiler.
  • An oven over a heavy-duty broiler
    should not be used for roasting or baking because it lacks thermostatic controls. It is a finish oven
    only for casseroles, au gratin dishes, meringues, etc.
  • Regular cleaning increases
    the efficiency of gas broilers and reduces operating costs. Empty the grease container at regular intervals.
    Wash and dry thoroughly. Scrape the upper and lower sides of the grids and clean with an oiled cloth.
    Scrub the broiler chamber. Wash and rinse the outside of the broiler, then wipe dry with an oiled cloth.
    Unclog burner ports with a stiff wire. Be careful with ceramic reflector units when cleaning.

Gas Ovens

  • Slow roasting � roasting at
    lower temperatures � reduces meat shrinkage, produces a juicier, tastier product and saves gas.
  • Know how long it takes your
    oven to preheat and schedule preheating according to the oven�s first use of the day. Many new gas convention
    ovens, for example, only take 10 minutes or less to preheat.
  • Because the oven will not preheat
    any faster, nothing is gained and gas is wasted by setting the thermostat higher than baking temperature.
  • Energy usage may be reduced
    by loading the oven to capacity and scheduling baking and roasting to take full advantage of �receding�
    heat. With large ovens, plan baking and roasting so the oven will not have to be brought up to full heat
    more than once or twice a day.
  • Gas convection ovens maintain
    a uniform temperature throughout, permitting use of multiple cooking racks, which increase production
    and save on kitchen space. When preheating and baking in these ovens use the fan at all times. Remember
    that cooking time is reduced and lower temperatures are necessary in the convection oven. With convention
    ovens, remember to include the fan in routine cleaning procedures.
  • A clean oven operates at maximum
    efficiency. Remove spills before the residue has carbonized. When the oven is cool, wipe the bottom. Scrub
    shelves frequently and clean the exterior when dirt and grease accumulate.

Gas Fryers

  • Fill kettle to capacity with
    high quality frying compound specifically designed for deep-frying, (Look for oil level mark stamped on
    the kettle.) If solid or semi-solid shortening is used, melt before adding to kettle, or use the fryers
    melt cycle.
  • Set thermostat for desired
    temperature. (Usually 325-350 degrees.) Never use temperatures higher than 375 degrees.
  • Limit preheat time to 10-12
  • Regular care keeps the gas
    fryer in good working order. Shut down the fryer completely when draining. Filter the fat and wipe the
    kettle clean daily. Once a week, fill the kettle with warm water to a level above the grease ring. Bring
    to a rolling boil and add manufacturer�s recommended cleaning compound. (Never us a caustic or lye solution.)
    Boil 30 minutes and shut off. Drain and refill the kettle with warm water. Boil and drain. Rinse kettle
    until it is free entirely of residue.

Gas Braising Pan

  • The gas-fired tilted braising
    pan, when used for grilling or saut� work, is operated in a manner similar to that of a gas griddle, thus
    the energy saving tops for griddles apply to braising pans.
  • Because braising pans are thermostatically
    controlled, preheating at a temperature higher than needed for cooking wastes gas and does not speed the
    preheating process. Also, preheating is not necessary for boiling or steaming.
  • Braising pans usually are equipped
    with lids so that heat and moisture can be retained, making this appliance a versatile cooking device
    for pot-roasting, steaming vegetables, defrosting frozen food, stewing, or holding foods for servicing.
    Using the lid whenever possible saves gas, while lifting the lid unnecessarily wastes energy.
  • Like a griddle, the pan�s surface
    can be damaged by the sharp edges of spatulas or other utensils.
  • Take care to avoid scratching
    or nicking the pan�s finish. Likewise, avoid heavy metal scrubbers or a wire brush when cleaning.
  • Other than for normal cleaning
    and an occasional greasing of the tilting mechanism, braising pans are relatively maintenance free. After
    food is removed, clean the pan while it is still warm. Soak if needed, and then flush with water to remove
    food particles completely. Scrub with a fiber brush and recommended cleaner. Rinse with clear water and

Steam Equipment

  • Steam boilers, on self-contained
    units, require up to 20 minutes to reach operating pressure. Energy usage will be reduced by eliminating
    unnecessary preheating time and planning steam cooking to utilize the steamer�s full capacity. A variety
    of foods may be prepared at the same time if thought is given to their placement in the steamer compartment.
  • Compartment doors must be
    sealed tightly so energy is not wasted and cooking times unnecessarily lengthened. Steam escaping around
    the door�s sealing gasket indicates an incomplete seal caused either by insufficient pressure applied
    to the door handle or wheel when closing, or a worn gasket.
  • Should a pressure steamer
    compartment start taking longer than usual to come to pressure or become slower than other compartments
    on a multi-compartment unit, the automatic steam temperature actuated value, located at the real or side
    outside the compartment, may be defective. A faulty valve, which not only slows cooking times but wastes
    steam, should be replaced with one of the same type.
  • Because steam cooking is fast
    compared to other cooking methods, a timer should be used to prevent over-cooking and wasted energy.
  • Leave doors slightly ajar
    when the steamer is not in use. Daily, wipe the compartment with detergent and water, rinsing well. Keep
    door gaskets and area around opening free of grease. Use a soapy steel wool pad if necessary. Lubricate
    the door wheel (on outside) monthly. Remove the interior racks and run through the dishwasher.
  • Cleaning and maintenance of
    the broiler are vital to steamer performance and energy conservation. If the steam broiler is making steam
    for 8 hours or more, it should be drained or blown down twice daily, or about every four hours. When blowing
    down the boiler, full pressure should be used. Annually, schedule a complete boiler clean and descaling.

Water Heaters

  • Gas water heaters require
    ample combustion air to operate at full efficiency, so do not store items in positions that block equipment
    room air openings.
  • Water heater thermostats usually
    can be turned down to the lowest temperature setting overnight and on days the unit is not in use; however,
    the unit�s heat recovery capability first must be determined to establish the feasibility of such a practice.
  • Exposed hot water pipes should
    be insulated to improve the unit�s operating efficiency and thus save energy.


The Gasket Guru
American Gas Association
Environmental Protection Agency

grasshoppers taking a break from a busy day at the tahi restaurant to sip some green tea with the master

Order Your Custom-made Commercial Gaskets Online

You need gaskets for your commercial kitchen but you don’t live near New London, New Hampshire? No problem! Just use this chart to identify which gasket profile you need and then email or call me with the profile and exact dimensions. I can then give you a quote for the gasket.

For more information on my custom-made commercial gasket services, click here.