Fountain Pens

There is something pleasing about writing with a fountain pen. The way the ink flows and the pen glides on paper is just a very different experience. There are also so many different things to geek out about.

  • The way the nib is shaped. (Round Nibs, Italic Nibs, Flex Nibs)
  • The way that it draws ink down the nib and onto the paper with capillary action.
  • The way you fill the pen. (Cartridge, Converter, Piston, Pump, Vacuum, Bladder)
  • The ink formation and the properties thereof. (Color, Saturation, Lubrication, Wetness, Viscosity)
  • The paper qualities. (Weight, Thickness, Absorbency, Opacity, Surface Smoothness)
  • The pen body ergonomics. (Weight, Balance, Grip Size, Length, Grip Shape)

And all of this is really before you get down to the actual visual aesthetics of the items themselves. There are pens out there elevated to such a high degree of art I would be afraid to use them for fear of damaging them.

As a related hobby I've gotten into Calligraphy, and have been trying to clean up my abysmal Palmer Cursive. At the moment I'm ending up with some amalgamation of Palmer Cursive, a basic Italic Cursive, and Chancery Italic.

New Blog

For far from the first time I have a new blog. (They spring up and die like flies it seems.) I decided it was time to overhaul my home page and that I was never going to actually finish building my own from scratch. As a result of liking pretty things and having a strange preference to pay for services, now I'm using Squarespace (for the first time) and Smugmug (again). There are a couple things I can't do with this setup, but it is by far the cleanest setup I've had so far.

The design has been left pretty basic at this point, I'm probably going to go through tweaks. Given that I've effectively (but not completely) stopped actually going to Twitter and Facebook I'm considering automatically crossposting to those. I've also pulled a bunch of posts from the old food/photo-blog.

Cast Iron Seasoning

So, I own three pieces of cast-iron cook ware. The all came from Lodge as new. I was never that impressed with any of them. This weekend I tried to cook cornbread in my 2 quart dutch oven. It rusted while it was cooking and substantively reduced the quality of the cornbread. This got me to get around to doing what I'd been intending to do for ages. I stripped down the finish that was on it as much as I felt compelled to do. (So not 100% stripped.) Then I started re-seasoning the pan. My procedure was a little more accelerated than the suggested procedure from my reference for the process: A Science Based Technique for Seasoning Cast-iron

My stripping process was basically to use Bar Keepers Friend: Pots & Pans with a stainless steel scrubber. This pulled off a lot of gunk. I repeated my attempts a couple of times until I got tired of this. I also decided to get filtered flax oil rather than unfilteredfiguring random solids were not actually the best thing for trying to bake on a polymer finish. (The oil was still cold pressed and unrefined.)

After cleaning and drying the cast-iron my procedure for seasoning was:

  1. Pour a small amount of the oil on the cook surface (no more than a quarter) rub it around with a towel until everything has a sheen of oil but nothing has visible buildup.
  2. Place in oven, set the oven temperature as high as it can go. (In my case 550)
  3. Then using a nifty birthday gift of an infrared thermometer occasionally check temperature of the cast-iron until it is 550 and you can no longer see any sheen of oil (looks matte black).
  4. Turn oven off and crack the door.
  5. Wait until cast iron is back down under 200 by checking with the thermometer

-- Goto step 1

With four coats I baked the same cornbread. This is a recipe that used to stick and be kinda hard to clean. This time I could rub off all of the remnants with my finger. Not even using my fingernail. I'm so excited to try this on my cast iron frying pan. Though not looking forward to stripping the frying pan.