How to Bulletproof Your Nissan Patrol’s ZD30 Engine

If you own a Y61/GU Nissan Patrol with a ZD30 3.0ltr turbo diesel engine, these are invaluable tips to help you increase the life expectancy of your engine……

The ZD30 engine has suffered a poor reputation for premature failures including melting/cracking pistons and overboosting, largely due to some common issues. These engines run a variable vain turbocharger with boost controlled by the ECU, and to meet stringent european emission standards run an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system. Running fairly high boost levels from factory causes the ZD30 to be a heavy breathing engine and oil vapour is forced into the inlet tract contaminating the Mass Air Flow sensor (MAF), working its way through the intercooler and into the inlet manifold. The EGR system can turn this oil vapour into a thick tar like consistency, blocking inlet runners, which in turn can lead to some cylinders running rich and some lean, resulting in melted pistons…

What can be done to maximize engine life?

1. Fit an oil/air seperator (catch can). This will reduce the amount of oil vapour/blowby entering the air inlet system.

2. Regularly clean the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor located in the inlet pipe near the airbox. A contaminated MAF sensor can cause faulty signals to the ECU resulting in overboosting. Suitable MAF cleaners are available from your local auto parts store.

3. Fit a boost gauge and an exhaust gas temperature (EGT) gauge. Whilst this won’t prevent anything, it will give you a heads up of any warning signs.

4. Fit a free flowing exhaust system, this will lower EGT’s dramatically. We fit and recommend 3″ mandrel bent exhaust systems.

5. Never fit a “Chip” without doing the exhaust system as well. A chip will increase the amount of fuel into the engine, increasing your exhaust gas temperatures, so a free flowing exhaust system is required to lower the EGT’s. We use and recommend Steinbauer and DP chips.

6. If you are noticing boost pressure spikes over 20psi (upto 25psi is not uncommon), fit a boost limiting device such as a dawes valve. These can be set so that the turbo can’t boost over say 18psi…… This is a bandaid not a cure, as their will be other issues causing the overboosting.

7. If your intercooler looks as though it has oil leaking from it, it can also leak boost pressure. Replacement units where the tanks are welded on instead of the factory crimp fittings are available.

8. Have your inlet manifold removed and cleaned. We have seen inlet runners closest to the EGR almost 50% blocked.

9. Although illegal, their are EGR blank off kits available.

10. ZD30’s need regular oil changes, every 5000k is recommended.

Meditation Stool – 3 Tips For Picking the Best

Does a meditation stool make you better at meditating?

Often yes -particularly if you are not supple enough for the lotus position (which is why I use a stool). But if you buy the best meditation stool you’ll be able to maintain the proper meditation posture

  • Upright but not stiff.
  • Your back in a healthy S shape
  • Not slouching forward

Then you will breathe easier. Be more aware when you meditate and maintain a serene mind. I’ve noticed any meditation technique is far more successful when my posture is correct.

But How do you pick the perfect stool?

Here’s 3 tips for getting it right

1. Make Sure The Stool Has the Correct Angle

When meditating your pelvis must be tilted forward. So the stool base should be angled with the back higher than the front. This allows your back to assume that natural S shape to distribute your weight evenly.

Can you be tilted too much?

Definitely, if the angle is too great you’ll wind up over arching your spine and developing backache. But if the stool’s too flat, you will slump into a C shape. This applies a lot of stress on the vertebrae at the bottom of the spine and also causes backache.

Therefore either

Try out various stools. Test them out over 15 minutes if possible. Your neighborhood meditation class will have plenty you can test out…

Alternatively

Buy an adjustable. These are pricier however you can adjust the angle until it is perfect.

2. Consider a Folding Meditation Stool

Do you meditate in different spots? Do you attend a class? Do you meditate while on vacation?

If the reply to any of these questions is yes, you should consider transportability. Maybe you’ll need a stool with folding legs?

I’ve had problems myself jamming a solid wood stool with fixed legs into a backpack!

You can buy folding meditation stools online but of course they are more costly.

Speaking of which…

3. Don’t Pay Too Much

It’s not necessary to spend tons of money on a stool. I still prefer a simple solid wood stool regardless of the issues of getting into my backpack! This set me back $30.

However if you are looking for something more flexible. If you want to modify the kneeling angle or height. If you are looking for more styling…

Then it will cost you much more.

My advice – Choose the lowest cost meditation stool that covers your requirements to start with.

Who Do You Call for All Your Facility Needs?

As a commercial facilities manager, property manager or asset manager, you’re skilled at juggling a list of day-to-day activities that would make most people’s heads spin! Your typical daily to do list may look like this: Building one needs several offices painted, someone dumped an old couch behind building two, the entire parking lot needs to have the pot holes repaired and the all the sidewalks need pressure washing. Feel the stress building?

After taking a deep breath, you pick up the phone and start dialing.

• Call the painter, leave him a message.

• Call the bulk debris removal company, leave them a message.

• Call the paving contractor, leave them a message.

• Call the pressure washing guy. Leave him a message.

Then, the waiting game begins. Will anyone return the call? Are these places still in business? Who else do I know that I can call if so-and-so doesn’t call back? All those thoughts run through your brain.

There has to be an Easier Way!

Managing multiple projects, contractors, responsibilities and expectations takes time and energy. Plus, the frustration levels increase when contractors don’t call back, don’t show up, jobs take longer than expected and quotes run over budget. What if there was an easier way to get the job done, and done right?

All Your Facilities Needs Under One Roof

There is an easier way to manage all of your facility needs. A one-stop-shop for facility needs. Simply make one call, speak to an actual person and let them know what you need done. It’s that simple. No unreturned calls, unanswered voice mails, or other communication issues.

Who Can Help You?

You may already be using a facilities maintenance company for your parking lot sweeping or porter services, but what you may not know is that some of these companies are more than just that. They can be a one-stop-shop to all your commercial facility needs.

It’s true! One call really does do it all. With offices located throughout the state or your region, their portfolio of commercial facility services enable their clients the convenience of working with a single provider for all their commercial property needs.

The best companies offer complete building maintenance services, bulk debris removal, janitorial services, pressure washing, hydro-cleaning, asphalt paving, asphalt repair, sealcoating, commercial painting, parking lot maintenance, general contracting, and of course parking lot sweeping and porter services.

A facilities maintenance company that is on top of the ball strives to complete projects on time, for a competitive price and satisfy our customers with job well done. For a free proposal geared to your particular facility, give your favorite facilities maintenance a call or get an online quote today!

The Right Bed Frame Support For Your New Mattress Set

You’ve spent weeks shopping for just the right mattress set at just the right price, and you have finally found the one that is not too firm, not too soft, but just right. That’s great news, Goldilocks! Now, it is time to shift your attention to what is under your bed and examine your bed frame.  

Often the excitement of getting a new mattress set overshadows the reality that your new mattress requires proper support. You will enjoy a longer comfort life on your new mattress if you make sure it has the right support.

 

How can you be sure that your new mattress set has the right support? 

If your bed frame is metal and it is over 10 years old, make sure there is no squeaking or rattling when you roll over on the bed. Squeaking and rattling may indicate that your bed frame has weakened over time. It is probably a good idea to replace your bed frame if this is the case. Sometimes, mattress stores will give you a free bed frame with your purchase of a mattress set. Usually, this is the cheapest, least supportive bed frame available. You’re better off asking for an upgraded deluxe model bed frame and paying for it. These last longer and are more supportive than the “free” ones most stores offer. 

 

If you have a wooden bed frame with wooden slats, make sure the slats are not bowing in the middle. Also, wooden slats are not enough for queen and king size bedding; you need at least one leg to the floor for queen size and two legs for king size. You can make a leg by having a piece of wood cut to the correct length at your local hardware store. Many companies offer metal center support slats that are far superior to wood slats. For the best possible support, choose a metal support designed for use with wood beds.

 

Following are some guidelines to follow for ensuring the proper support for your new mattress set: You need at least one rigid center support bar with one leg to the floor for queen size bedding and at least two rigid center support bars with legs to the floor for king size.   Wood center support slats should be at least 3/4 inch plywood.  If yours are not at least 3/4 inch plywood, consider a metal bed slat system like a Strong Arm, Bed Beam, or Bed Bridge support system.  Twin and full size beds do not usually require additional center supports, but with the extra heavy weight of today’s bedding, it sure wouldn’t hurt to add a center support bar. Refer to your mattress manufacturer’s warranty card for detailed information about what support is required.

How to Combine Services and Software to Achieve Superior Bacterial Comparative Analysis Results

Bacterial comparative analysis typically falls into three categories. They are metagenomics, genomics, and transcriptomics. Until recently it was common practice for researchers and laboratories to rely either on third-party services or in-house software. Leveraging recent developments and reliable third-party services, it is now possible to combine outside services with internal software to achieve superior bacterial comparative analysis results in record time. The key is understanding how to combine the services and software for the fastest and most accurate results.

The first step is understanding what types of services are offered for metagenomics, genomics, and transcriptomics and how they can be utilized. The goal of metagenomics is to characterize what species are present in any given environment can understand their complex interactions. Microbial communities range from very simple to extremely complex and are very diverse across a wide range of habitats. NGS or next-generation sequencing has provided researchers with unprecedented views of microbial diversity. A shotgun metagenomics service is particularly useful because it randomly sequences DNA fragments from sample environments which allows researchers to evaluate the microbial diversity and detect species abundance without the individual assembly of microbial genomes.

Genomics relies on whole genome sequencing to generate the most comprehensive data sets available when evaluating genetic features of an individual organism. It is increasingly common for bacterial comparative analysis to rely on whole genome sequencing to conduct outbreak analysis and the study of pathogenicity and antimicrobial resistance. Finally, transcriptomics has grown reliant on RNA sequencing as an accurate, sensitive, and cost-effective method to discover and profile mRNA transcripts as well as identified novel genes. To achieve this and end to end solution is the ideal option.

The second step is leveraging available software solutions to interpret, manage, and compare data. In the past, bacterial comparative analysis required researchers to either have a programming language expertise or patch together various Excel and text files. With today’s software, it is easier than ever for researchers to glean all the information they need and complete a bacterial comparative analysis via an easy-to-use software interface.

To get the best results from third-party services and in-house software is to select services and software which are inherently compatible. In fact, many of the best third-party services now deliver data through their own suite of point-and-click software solutions. This type of standalone tool gives researchers the power to directly visualize data, run bacterial comparative analysis, and perform secondary analysis. Not only does this save time but also gives researchers more flexibility and a greater data set to work from. For example, the best software solutions include potentially hundreds of thousands of samples in their reference databases.

The use of bacterial comparative analysis will only continue to grow in the future as services and software become more precise and easier to use. In order to get the best results, it has become more pressing that laboratories an independent researcher select third-party services and in-house software solutions which are not only compatible but complementary to the data they will be working with.

12 Important Safety Features On Our Cars We Don’t Think About

Well ok, this is kind of a different subject, and probably not the most obvious to some. But I’ll guarantee some of us will be a little bit more informed, folks might even feel safer when they drive to work tomorrow. Whether you’re the consumer or an automotive sales consultant, this article will list a dozen important safety features found on every car on the road. The consumer can benefit knowing what’s on today’s automobiles, just in case he/she meets the salesman who is not the most educated on their product knowledge. And lastly, sales consultants can enhance their presentations with these tasty tid-bits and increase potential commissions. So without fail, here are the main safety features found on the exterior of those cars.

#1-crumple zones-A mainstay in today’s automobiles, this is the harmonic flow of numerous body panels and brackets that absorb the energy normally associated with a crash. Parts like the hood, bumper and fenders are engineered to crumple like an accordion, therefore taking the brunt in any accidental situations.

#2-Wraparound Headlights-Just like its name implies, it’s a one piece headlight design that integrates the low beam, high beam, and turn signals. The headlights wrap around from the front or back of the car to the sides. Not only are the halogen headlights brighter and wider with the use of reflective cuts in the chamber, but folks driving along our blind spots can easily know our lane changing intentions. As a result, causing less accidents.

#3-Breakaway Motor Mounts-These mounts attach the engine to the frame of the car. They’re not noticeable, but the life saving impact is huge. In a front impact collision, they’re specifically designed to break the engine away from the frame and with the forward motion, will make the engine slide underneath the car at a 45 degree angle. Making it less likely to have an engine sitting in your lap when the crash comes to a halt.

#4-steel belted radials-It’s pretty obvious, our tires are very important safety features, it is what keeps the car on the road. Tires are built with steel fibers built right in, how do they help? Well, motorists will have the peace of mind that their tires will hold up in even the most extreme conditions. Those belts will also give these tires a longer lasting life span. Less maintenance in the long run.

#5-ventilated disc brakes-Equally important as the tires are, disc brakes stop the car. Brakes are constructed of a rotor, pads, and calipers for short. The rotors are engineered with internal vanes, to help vent out the heat. And this will help defend against fade and making it less likely to repair the brakes often.

#6-Side Impact Door Beams-Like the crumple zones, this aids in absorbing energy in a side impact collision. They are steel intrusion beams built inside the door for extra reinforcement. Every car and truck have these.

#7-Laminated Windshield-This might be important, it is the very object that keeps bugs out of our teeth, and the rain out of our hair. The windshield is made up of two pieces of tempered glass with a laminate sheet in between. This is a glass sandwich that holds together well when sharp or heavy objects smash into it. There’s no shattering or large pieces of glass flying about.

#8-Tempered Safety Glass-The other glass that gives us 360 degrees of protection is also designed with safety in mind. Automotive glass is heat tempered, so that when it breaks, it shatters into a multitude of small cubes. The small cubes won’t cut or injure the occupants.

#9-Child Safety Door Locks-As this name indicates, they are small locks in the inside door jams of the rear two doors(4 door sedan or suv only). Lock them up and the little guys in the back seat can’t unlock and pull the inside door handles while we are driving.

#10-5 mph bumpers-I would classify this as a safety item for the car itself. In the event a driver lightly hits a lightpole, grocery cart, etc. at 5mph or under, it is unlikely there will be any major structural damage. These days, the government mandated limit to follow is 2.5 mph, most automakers have the 5 mph variety.

#11-Center High Mounted Brake Light-It’s actually just a 3rd brake light mounted higher than the two main brake lights, and most autos have them. They’re main purpose is to make drivers behind the motorist aware of their braking intentions, normally cars 6-10 back can see this clearly.

#12-Safety Cage Construction-Think of a built in rollcage, it’s the main exo-skeletal feature that provides the most protection. In every accidental situation, this protects 360 degrees. We can even literally turn a car or truck upside down on its roof, the cage will support 1.5x it’s own weight. There’s nothing more important.

Hence, there is our short list of safety features, hopefully you readers have a use for this information. And maybe, this will put more awareness at just how safe our cars really are. No longer will we pinpoint safety as just airbags and alarm systems, our daily drivers have been designed as intricately as the human body. All this for making our commutes, a safer one.

Learn 5 Deadly Street Fighting Techniques to Drop an Attacker in Under 10 Seconds!

Traditional martial arts methods might be leaving you feeling annoyed, agitated and bored. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that plenty of black belt martial arts masters would never win in a real world fight on the streets.

Unfortunately many martial arts instructors call themselves masters, but you can only learn street fighting from someone who has done it. It’s this type of fighter who has demonstrated and developed the necessary skills to help you survive a fight in the street. You will be taught how to employ every technique and tip listed in this article. Read on for a list of the techniques which you’ll never learn by simply studying classic martial arts methods.

Deadly street fighting techniques #1: If you have the chance, don’t hesitate to bite your attackers face. If they use their hands or arms to grab close to your face, use your teeth. Every part of the attacker’s body is vulnerable to biting. The attacker’s muscles can be very effective targets, as you can sink your teeth deep into them and cause serious loss of blood. Now the following idea is very important to remember.

Deadly street fighting techniques #2: If you kick your opponent, focus on the lower portions of the body, such as the knees. One hard kick at your attacker’s kneecap can shatter the bone. If you are fighting a larger attacker, aim your kicks at his groin. If your attacker traps you in a tight hug, kick at their chins and stomp down on their feet. There are many ways to injure the lower sections of your opponent’s body and create significant pain. These are the areas to deliver your kicks towards.

Deadly street fighting techniques #3: Rehearse these methods with a partner, and improvise scenarios. Work in a spacious area, and find someone who is willing to attack you as if they were an attacker on the street. By being spontaneous, you can practice your responses to an unprovoked attack more realistically.

Deadly street fighting techniques #4: Gouging at someone’s eyes can be even more effective than delivering a punch during a street fight. When your attacker comes close, your best target is their eyes. You should do anything you can to cause pain to your attacker. Aiming for the eyes will create serious pain and temporarily blind them as well, which is a great advantage to have.

Deadly street fighting techniques #5: Be conscious of weapons being introduced to a fight. I was recently attacked by someone holding a hammer. Someone nearby yelled out that this opponent had a hammer in his hand. I didn’t realize this because of the shear chaos during the fight. I used this tip to make sure he never got a second chance to attack me with his hammer. I quickly won the fight and got out of the situation.

Pros and Cons of Venetian Blinds Inside Double Glazing Units

It is now possible to order your new windows, French doors and patio doors with integral horizontal blinds. The blinds are fitted within the double-glazing cavity.

 

Slatted Venetian blinds allow the amount of sunlight shining through the window to be controlled by turning the slats, closing them fully or pulling up the blind for maximum light and vision. Unfortunately, the flat surfaces of the slats accumulate dust and are not easy to clean. Some people prefer this to fabric curtains, festoon blinds, etc., which have to be removed for washing or dry-cleaning.

 

Another challenge is where and how to position blinds on or above a standard glazed door, a problem that is multiplied for French, bi-folding or patio doors.

 

The solution is simple. Inside the two panes of glass that form a double-glazed unit is a dust-free empty space just begging to be utilised! The blinds are operated by using magnets attached to the window, enabling them to be operated as normal. This can be done manually or electronically.

 

There are some down-sides to this:

  • The cost of replacing existing units plus additional cost of integral blinds.
  • What happens if the blinds break? There is no access to fix them.

 

If you are not thinking of replacing windows or glazed doors, then integral blinds is not a viable option. However, it is an option for consideration if you are planning to buy, particularly if the glazing is in full sun or there is a need for privacy.

 

Integral blinds are usually guaranteed against breakdown for a number of years. However, because the mechanism is remote, the chances of rough handling or mis-treatment are negligible.

 

The blinds may be offered in a variety of colours but, as with low-maintenance window frames (aluminium, pvc), many people choose the safer options of white or neutral tones to maximise their decorating options.

 

One supplier of integral blinds in glazed doors and windows is SunSeeker Doors, who manufactures aluminium-framed bi-folding doors, with or without optional blinds in the sealed unit. The choice includes pleated or slatted blinds.

 

From simple French Doors to multi-panelled folding doors that can span as wide as 7.2 metres, the doors can be installed between your home and your garden or conservatory – or they can form an internal room partition. The inclusion of Venetian blinds in room partitions can revolutionise the way you use your home or office.

 

On balance, the “pros” are: convenience, no maintenance, no cleaning, little risk of damage, privacy and measured light control whereas the “cons” are price and the possible expense if the blinds go wrong after the warranty has expired.

Why People Love Painting

People are in love with painting since they came to life millions of years ago. Having fulfilled their essential requirements they looked up to some recreational activities. Beautiful cave paintings of prehistoric times like those of Lascaux, Le Marche and Chauvet Cave and Bhimbetka bear the testimony of the fact. It might have started from drawing something on the soil with their fingers because a good diagram on the soil helps you to become an accomplished artist.

A colorful object attracts everyone. Colors give the fancy of the person a new world. When someone holds a paint brush, he thinks that whole cosmos can be again drawn through his fingers. Seas, skies, mountains, valleys, gorges, people, animals etc, can all be drawn with immaculate details just on a sheet of paper. Moreover, to color the figure concerned the pigments could be sourced from various things like minerals, vegetables, synthetic materials and other naturally occurring objects.

A cherished memory could well be preserved through a painting. Thus paintings can be made out of imagination as well as of the real thing or the real incident. Painting world is so diverse that a budding artist can choose his style and affiliation to a particular style and then decide to go ahead with. He can specialize in the painting on the basis of medium like water color, oil color, pastel color, fusion etc. Similarly an apprentice can choose to make specifically landscapes, seascapes, skyscapes, waterscapes or the fusion of them.

The most interesting part of painting is its commercial aspect. If an artist can carve out for himself a niche, then finance will never be a constraint for him or her. If he works hard in innovation, creativity, consistency and patience, his work can give him everything. Thus, a hobby can be a stabling factor in life. All painting greats had started their journey by just drawing a diagram on surface through their finger. Come and join the league if your fingers are itching to do something.

Importance of Power Transformers

Electricity or power has become the major part of our daily life and without electricity we cannot imagine a life today. Most of our household appliances work on electric current. We face various power problems due to voltage fluctuations. Sometimes our home appliances malfunction due to voltage problems. The solution for all these problems can be rectified only through a transformer. Power transformers or a transformer is an electrical device that is used to change an alternating current voltage from one electric circuit to another through electromagnetic induction. These transformers are employed in various mechanisms to reduce the incoming voltage or increasing the voltage of electrical equipments. These transformers have two or more windings wounded on a laminated iron core and the number of windings is based on the requirement of electric voltage that the transformer is used to supply.

There are many types of transformers like isolation transformer, power transformers, electrical transformer, audio transformer, current transformer, high voltage and low voltage transformers, step-up and step-down transformers etc. Each of these kinds has their own properties and usages in transferring voltage based on the appliance it is attached with.

Electric transformer is a device that is employed in increasing or lowering the voltage of alternating current or voltage. Electric transformers have two sets of coils called primary and secondary coils linked around magnetic fields that work as conductors. This number of windings determines the workability of the transformer. There are various forms of electrical transformers like step up transformers to raise voltage or step-down transformer to lower voltage levels that can be used in power lines or household appliances to regulate current supply and reduce electricity bill costs.

Current transformers are used to get secondary or additional current to produce current from the transformer and this helps the customers to get ample current for their various applications like metering and protective relaying in electrical power industry to get safe measurement of large currents even from high voltages. Audio transformers are designed with epoxy resin that facilitates improvements in sound qualities by removing disturbing audio signals that is sourced from other devices. Flyback transformers can convert the input voltage and current to the expected output voltage and current and these transformers are available in variety of models and sizes.

Electrical switches are the electrical components that are used to stop the electricity flow by interrupting the current or diverting it from one conductor to another. These electrical switches are available for medium current, low current and high current appliances. Circuit breaker is an electrical switch that operates automatically to cut off or break a circuit from causing damage due to high voltage. This is vitally employed in detecting the fault in the circuit mechanism and cut the electrical flow to avoid repair of the appliance. These circuit breakers are of different types like vacuum circuit breakers, SF6 circuit breakers, fixes mounted circuit breakers, etc.

There are various tips that we have to consider in selecting the best transformer from the most excellent companies to enjoy trouble free and secured electrical services. The greater protection of these power transformers can be confirmed if they own the TVSS surge protection. The surge protectors are devices that guarantee safety of electrical appliances from voltage spikes by regulating the current that is supplied to the appliance. The voltage is maintained either by obstructing or reducing the ground voltages to a safer measure. Most of the power transformers that are available today have built-in surge protection to offer high quality devices to the customers.

The most significant thing that we must remember is though the electricity is much important to us we must be very careful in handling power transformers as any of misusage can kill anyone.

Why Steamboat Springs Is the Ideal Place to Live

Three hours from a major city, 331 inches of average annual snow fall, 59 annual average frost free days, and less than 11,000 people…those are the first reasons why Steamboat Springs, CO is the ideal place to live, now let me give you a few more. I’ll try to be brief, but keep in mind, there’s more where this is coming from! First and foremost, the community is in fact, a community first, and a world-class ski resort second. Ask anyone who lives here and they’ll be happy to tell you that in Steamboat Springs you have friends and neighbors who care about you and watch out for you. There’s a moose in your drive-way? Rest assured, one of your neighbors will call and let you know. Ask any second home owner or visitor about Steamboat Springs, and one of the first things they’ll say is that the people in our town are so friendly. This fact alone would make Steamboat Springs, CO the perfect place to call home and without a doubt the ideal place to raise a family – let me say it one last time before moving on, “the people are nice and the people here care about you.”

OK so everyone’s nice, but I get asked, “What do you do when you’re 3+ hours from a major city, and it’s cold and snowy so many days of the year?” Well let’s start with summer when it’s not cold and snowy and people come to this ski resort town and without a trace of champagne powder on the ground they spend a week here and decide to stay. Summertime in Steamboat Springs, CO brings the free concerts at the base of Howelsen Hill, fly-fishing in the Yampa and Elk Rivers, hiking and biking on trails for every level and surrounded by Rocky Mountain beauty, golfing at public or private courses, the weekend rodeo that thrills both locals and visitors, and of course tubing down the Yampa River for those who like to beat the heat in chilly, fresh mountain water. Summertime also means the annual July 4th parade, Art-in-the-Park, Hot Air balloon festival, Steamboat Running & Bike Series races…and after all this activity, a margarita on the Rio deck, a brick oven pizza sitting on Rex’s back patio, or an ice cream cone from Johnny B. Good’s take-out window hit the spot. Locals in Steamboat Springs take full advantage of the short, but very sweet summer season – we know winter is right around the corner.

And now for winter…how do we Steamboat locals co-exist with the thousands of skiers and snowboarders who come year-after-year for our champagne powder and western hospitality? Well for starters, you’re likely to see mostly locals in the gondola line at 7:45am because we’ve listened to the 5:00am snow report and know there’s 14 inches of powder on Storm Peak that need to be skied before heading into work a little later than normal, but totally refreshed and energized for the day! But we don’t just ski here in Ski Town USA, when you live here and it’s wintertime, you take your kids to Winter Sports Club, you take a dip in the Old Town Hot Springs pools, you snowshoe in the moonlight to the perfect spot for sitting and drinking some wine that was in your backpack all night, and you hit the early bird special at the Orr House where a sizzling steak and huge salad bar await. Local winter events that even us locals wait for every year include the Winter Carnival where the high school band “marches” down Lincoln Avenue on skis, there are races where (if you’re brave) you’re pulled by a horse while sitting on a shovel, and then you trek over to Howelsen Hill to spend an evening watching fireworks where the lighted man skis down the hill, shooting fireworks from multiple body locations…some things you just have to see to believe.

So now that we’ve hit on the two main Steamboat Springs’ seasons, I’d like to share with you the everyday amenities we have here that don’t take 45 minutes in rush hour traffic to get to – like Steamboat’s LEED-Silver certified Bud Werner Memorial Library located on the banks of the Yampa River and home to not only an expansive book and magazine collection, but also to public computers, a lively children’s section, local history room, public meeting rooms and some of the best views (with cozy seating )of the Yampa River. Where there’s a state-of-the-art public library you might think education is pretty important too, and you’d be right…from the 3 local Steamboat Springs’ public elementary schools which feed into the Steamboat Springs’ Middle and High Schools to our private schools where Lowell Whiteman draws students from an international base of applicants each year. Top that off with Colorado Mountain College, a community college who just started offering some 4 year degrees, and you can see we have quite a robust educational system here in Steamboat Springs, CO.

High speed internet affords those who are lucky enough to have location neutral jobs the opportunity to work in our Rocky Mountain paradise versus a corporate high rise home office in the suburbs. And high speed internet helps the up and coming local companies like SmartWool, Moots and Big Agnes compete globally. I digress, back to the amenities that don’t take 45 minutes (ok, be honest, an hour) to get to…here’s the short list: ice skating rink, state-of-the-art tennis center, equestrian centers, Strings’ music pavilion, Nordic ski centers, movie theaters, bowling alley and fabulous local restaurants. One last area to address because even though we like to think we’re the epitome of health and fitness here in Steamboat Springs, we do get sick and we do get injured, and to fix us up and nurse us back to health, the Yampa Valley Medical Center is staffed by some of the best doctors and specialists in the country and it’s supported by numerous private medical practices that address any possible ailment…from the bum knee that’s gonna need replacement at some point, to the sore back in need of some realignment.

So there you have it…and of course there’s more. We wouldn’t love living here so much if every wonderful thing about Steamboat could be captured in a 4 paragraph blog. You just have to come and enjoy our northwest Colorado paradise with us in all four seasons to truly appreciate what Steamboat offers. But remember, the most important thing is the wonderful people you’ll meet here. We’ll want to know where you’re from, what brought you here and then we’ll want to share our favorite Steamboat pastime as well as our favorite restaurant with you. And if you get stuck on the way up Rabbit Ears pass in January, we’ll probably be nice enough to stop and help you put chains on your tires too. Gotta run, it’s a powder morning…or it will be in about 4 months!

The Key to Productive Strength Training – Double Progression

There are two major facets of athletic development: excellent nutrition and progressive training. Assuming that you have your nutrition plan squared away with the right amounts of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, your training protocol is all that stands between you and reaching your highest potential in both athletics and general health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, when many people begin a training regimen of any sort, they have little information to guide them in the design of their exercise program. While there is an almost infinite number of strength training protocols available, this article discusses a principle that is fundamental to all effective resistance training programs. The concept of double progression is the foundation of continuous progression in strength and muscle gain, and yet it is an idea that is almost unknown outside of serious weight lifting circles. Learn to understand the practice of double progression and how to incorporate it into your resistance training schedule and you will find the results to be well worth the effort!

The concept of double progression involves, as the name implies, two different but parallel routes toward strength and muscle gain. The first is increasing weight. If you can lift more weight this month (for the same number of repetitions, in the same style, etc.) than you could last month, your strength has increased in that time and in many cases so has your muscle mass. The second avenue of progression is in the number of repetitions of an exercise that can be performed. If you are able to lift the same weight for more repetitions this month than you could last month, then your strength has again improved with a similarly likely increase in muscle mass.

Unfortunately, the fact is that you can neither increase weight nor repetitions alone indefinitely. If you attempt to add more weight each week, you will very quickly find that your body cannot keep up, even when adding very small amounts of weight. In the same vein, if you try to add more repetitions each week you will also hit a wall in terms of progression and, for reasons beyond the scope of this article, you will also see little if any muscle growth as the repetitions add up. Luckily, there is a solution. Double progression incorporates both increases in weight and repetitions in a focused and disciplined way, ensuring multiple paths of progression and providing the opportunity for virtually continuous improvement.

The first step to designing a double progression plan for an individual exercise is to determine a range of repetitions that you know will produce strength gains. Unfortunately, that optimal range varies between people and indeed can even differ between muscle groups within a single subject. The key to finding your range is to simply try out different options and see what works best. This process can take quite a while, but it produces extremely valuable information.

I will relate my personal rep ranges so that you can develop an idea of how to start investigating your own. From experience, I know that most of the muscles in my back (latissimus dorsi, trapezius, spinal erectors, etc.) produce the most consistent strength gains over time using a range of three to six repetitions. However, the muscles in my shoulders (deltoids) require a higher rep range of about five to eight. The difference in ranges may seem insignificant, but through trial and error I’ve found that, for example my progress on rowing exercises slows to a crawl or even stops if I use sets with more than six repetitions. Attempting to gain back strength using sets of eight is, for me, essentially futile. Similarly, when performing the overhead press, which strongly activates the deltoids, I have found that performing sets of less than five reps leads to rapid stagnation. While sets containing between five and eight reps are effective, sets of three produce little to no success. Experimentation is essential to determining your optimal repetition range, but the time spent is well worth the valuable data you will discover. On the other hand, if you are just starting out and have no experience, simply choose a range anywhere between six and twelve repetitions. From there you can try different ranges as you become more comfortable

Once you have determined a productive repetition range for each exercise, you now must find a weight at which you can begin to work your progression. One method used to come up with a starting weight is to discover your maximal capabilities at your desired repetition range and then decrease from there. Of course, any time you are working to the point where you cannot lift a weight anymore requires a spotter to ensure your safety. Once you have a safe mechanical and/or human safety system in place, work your way up in weight until you reach a point where you cannot properly complete a set. For example, if I choose five to eight repetitions as my optimal range in the bench press, then I will need to find out the maximum amount of weight I can lift for five repetitions, also known as my five rep max (5RM). After enlisting an experienced spotter to catch the bar when I fail, I will begin to lift in sets of five reps with adequate rest in between, raising the weight by five to twenty percent each set. At some weight, say 210 pounds, I will be unable to safely complete all five reps. I might get three or four and then be forced to stop. The weight used on the previous set is then my 5RM. For this example, we will say it was 200 pounds.

Now that I know what my maximum weight is for one set of five, I need to find my starting weight for my progression. Generally one does more than a single set of each exercise. So, for this example I’ll choose three sets of five to eight for the bench press. The total volume (set multiplied by reps) is another variable that you can tweak over time to produce the best results. Some people respond better to higher volume and many progress best with lower volume. Begin somewhere in the middle with two to four sets and work from there. When beginning a new double progressive cycle, it is best to underestimate your starting weight to give your body some time to adapt to the new regimen. With a 5RM of 200 pounds, I will begin the cycle with 160 to 170 pounds, or 80% to 85% of my 5RM.

To execute the double progression, my first workout will consist of a good warm-up followed by three sets of five to eight reps with 160 pounds. During each set, I will attempt to complete all eight reps. If I am unable to succeed with eight reps in all three sets, I will use the same weight next week and try again. However, if I do complete eight reps in all three sets, I will then increase the weight by five pounds during my next training session. I may be able to perform all three sets of eight successfully again with 165 pounds, prompting me to add another five pounds for the following week. However, at some point I will not be able to complete eight reps in all three sets. At that time, my goal would then be to add at least one rep each week until I again reached by goal of eight reps for three sets. More weight will then be added, the reps will drop back down, and the cycle continues.

Double progression fights stagnation and allows for multiples avenues of progression by taking into account both increases in weight lifted as well as the number of repetitions performed. By setting a repetition range that you know if effective for you, you can most efficiently effect strength and muscle mass gains while consistently raising the working weight to compensate for your new-found abilities. Progressive resistance is essential to produce increases in strength and muscle mass. These assets are extremely valuable to both men and women, regardless of their age, condition, or previous activity level. You will gain confidence, functionality, and self-esteem through the use of a properly designed nutrition and progressive resistance exercise program. Don’t be intimidated by the numbers or the challenges of lifting. Start slowly, do your best, and discover abilities that you never knew you had!

Visiting Napa and Sonoma Wineries With Children

We’ve often described the Northern California Wine Country as a ‘Disneyland for Adults’, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave the children behind. For many people, visiting wineries is only one day of their trip to San Francisco. After all, with all of the attractions it has to offer, the Bay Area is a great destination for the whole family. A daytrip to the scenic counties of Sonoma and Napa provides an opportunity to enjoy a relaxed pace with stunning views, wonderful tours and interesting wineries. The wineries and their gift shops are admittedly more interesting to the adults than the kids, but they will still enjoy the trip because it is, after all, farm country, and what kid doesn’t enjoy that? Sonoma especially takes great pride in their agricultural diversity, so as you travel around you’re going to see a wide variety of plantings, orchards and livestock in between the vineyards.

We’re seeing increasing numbers of children in Wine Country. While it is still a relatively small number, parents are finding ways to make it work. The secret to having a great time together in Sonoma and Napa is to realize that while many wineries are not suitable or enjoyable for children, there are many others that are. Sonoma and Napa have over seven hundred wineries, of which about half can be visited easily so there are plenty to choose from, as well as many other family attractions.

One of the most kid friendly and adult enjoyable destinations is the Plaza in downtown Sonoma. If you’re coming from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge you’ll be at this historic and charming place in a little over half an hour. This is the ‘Philadelphia of California’, because it is the place where the Republic of California declared its independence from Mexico.

It is helpful to know that there are the counties of Sonoma and Napa, and the cities of Sonoma and Napa.

Even though Sonoma is a small city of about nine thousand people, it is big on history. It is the only city in California that enjoys all three of these distinctions; it was an official Pueblo, or city under Mexico, it was a Franciscan Mission (the twenty-first and final), and it was the military headquarters for the entire West Coast under both Mexico and the United States. Around the Plaza, which is the largest in California, there are numerous historic sites as well as nice restaurants and shops. In the Plaza there are great picnic tables near the playgrounds and the newly restored duck pond.

The tourist bureau sits on the Plaza in an old Carnegie Library building and it can provide additional information for a great day with kids. A unique attraction called Train Town is just two minutes back down Broadway, the road that led you to the Plaza. This is a small old-style amusement park suitable for young children up to approximately age ten. There is a small train to ride and a traditional merry-go-round and it harkens back to a time before special effects were digital. There is even a petting zoo.

Around the Plaza are several winery tasting rooms where you can taste some excellent wines without spending all day getting there. Then you can nip back to the playground before moving on to the next winery. Five minutes from the Plaza is one of the Sonoma originals, the Sebastiani Family Winery, with their great old barrel room, one of Sonoma’s best gift shops and some very nice wines for you to sample. They also offer a trolley tour of Sonoma that explains about its wonderful history. Just to the south of town is the Larson Family Winery, on the old Sonoma Rodeo site. This was where the champion race horse Seabiscuit stabled overnight when he was racing on the West Coast. It has a farm-like setting with llamas and sheep. Horse rides through the vineyards can arranged in advance, bocce courts and picnic areas round out the experience.

From the Plaza you can head north on Route 12 up the Valley of the Moon, a scenic route. Voted Sonoma’s best tour, the Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen offers a wonderful mix of agriculture, education and fine wine. Their vineyards are tucked in a pretty little valley on Sonoma Mountain just down the road from Jack London’s old ranch, now a park.

Their tour, aboard a tram attached to the back of a tractor, winds its way up into the vineyards where they explain the biodynamic approach to agriculture, a remarkable system that is increasingly popular with many high-end wineries. Next you visit the barrel caves and finish up in the winery for a tasting. Admittedly wineries are about adult enjoyment, but there are often children on the Benziger tour and they always seem to enjoy themselves.

Please don’t make the mistake of bringing children to trendy wineries where they have nothing of interest for kids. They will spend the hour while you are tasting wine bored with nothing to do. The wineries that are kid friendly have made a big effort to be so. At both the Sonoma Plaza and Benziger you’ll find good picnic tables, so pick up some sandwiches either at the Plaza or at the Glen Ellen Market.

Many of the wineries in the Valley of the Moon are kid friendly as long as you have an adult willing to keep an eye on them. The grounds are gracious and park-like allowing for a little outdoor enjoyment in beautiful surroundings. Some of those that come to mind are B.R. Cohn, Imagery, Landmark and St. Francis. Chateau St. Jean and Ledson Winery both have deli markets and picnic tables on site. They are all within five miles of each other along Route 12, the main road in the Valley. Hint: Bring a soccer ball or a Frisbee. There are some great lawns in the Valley of the Moon.

Visiting Napa with Children

Napa is a great place to visit because everything is close together. The whole valley is only thirty miles long by five miles wide, and while there are other wineries tucked up in the hills, the variety of wineries that are easy to reach is wonderful. However, it is not as agriculturally varied as Sonoma. Napa is another half hour farther from the Golden Gate Bridge, but the ride brings you through the beautiful Carneros district with its vineyard covered rolling hills that have a distinctly Tuscan feeling. Napa is closer to San Francisco via the less scenic Bay Bridge.

Napa has a bit more of a city style than its country cousin Sonoma, but there are several places that children will especially enjoy. Everyone enjoys spectacular architecture and great views, something at which Napa excels. A classic example of this is the Artesa Winery, with its hilltop site overlooking Carneros and the Bay. Artesa is close to San Francisco and despite not being built with children in mind, the feeling is relaxed enough and the variety of places to explore extensive enough that everyone in the family will be charmed. They even have an elevator for those with strollers.

Just to the north in Yountville is Domaine Chandon, one of Napa’s original makers of sparkling wine. This is a favorite for groups and people with children because the grounds are gracious and accommodating, with lawns, ponds and wildlife. Up on the patio, they offer snacks along with their elegant sparkling wines and the tables make it easier to keep everyone together. The springtime tadpole explosion in the ponds will keep any child entertained.

One of the most enjoyable family wineries is Francis Ford Coppola’s Rubicon in Rutherford, about half way up the Napa Valley on Highway 29 (St. Helena Highway). He took the historic Neibaum/Inglenook building and surrounded it with gardens that have all of the graciousness of a southern Italian villa. The exhibits and old barrel rooms upstairs are enough to entertain most children. During the summer they provide model sailboats to send gliding on the fountain pool in front of the building. There is a small café, with outdoor seating, a great gift shop and of course some wonderful wines.

Just to the north is the V. Sattui Winery which in this context is most valuable for their great deli offerings and large picnic area. Napa does not have a lot of picnic areas. On a Saturday in season it can get busy, but finding food, wine and picnic tables all together certainly makes the logistics of blending wineries with children much easier. The wineries have dramatically more traffic on Saturdays than Sundays.

The Wilds of Calistoga

For the San Francisco-based traveler, unfortunately, two of the most interesting wineries for children are all the way at the northern part of the valley, just south of the ‘old west’ style town of Calistoga, which is a great, kid-friendly place to visit onto itself. These two wineries are not suitable for infants in strollers, but for children eight years and older they are a fun experience. First is Sterling Vineyards, famous for its aerial tramway that carries visitors to its hilltop winery. Many years ago it was the first large winery to charge for their tastings. The price includes the tram ride. Between the tram, the gift shop and the tasting you need to allow an hour and a half to enjoy the place. Get there early to avoid the lines.

Just across Highway 29 is one of the newest, large wineries in Napa, although it was built to look old. The Castello di Amorosa is built like an authentic castle, from real stone and hand wrought iron. The vision, the forty million dollars and thirteen years it took to build produced a remarkable place. Children are restricted to the early morning tours so you should check their website for the schedule. The tour with tasting takes about two hours. The admission for Rubicon, Sterling and Castello di Amorosa all range between $20 and $25, although they offer discounts for children and young adults.

Napa gets hot in the summer, but very dry, so there are very few flying bugs. During the Winter it gets rainy, but not very cold. Both Spring and Fall are gorgeous, and harvest time, from late August through mid-November, is a very busy, exciting time in Wine Country.

Small, private wineries are often at people’s homes, so for the collector, traveling with children, you should ask your potential hosts if children are welcomed. If you want to get to the smaller wineries with children, consider hiring a guide with a car or SUV (avoid limos due to the need to sit sideways or backwards which increases the possibility of carsickness). While there are limo services in San Francisco, many of the experts live in Wine Country but they pick up clients in the city. Hiring a driver greatly reduces the stress and increases the enjoyment. Explain that you have children and ask them for a guide that is comfortable with that. Some guides are parents and actually like children. For them it’s something different and in fact we remember every tour we’ve ever done with kids. Touring with children is educational and a lot of fun, as long as you go to wineries that they’ll find interesting too. So enjoy your day with the kids in Wine Country.

Boiler Repair: Basic Guidelines for Welding

Common types of repair for boilers with welded construction are replacing sections of boiler tubes, replacing tubes and stays, window weld, weld build-up of wasted area, welding gage holes, and many others. Under all conditions, only electric arc welding process such as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) is accepted. GTAW is normally used for root pass or on thin plate. Welding process and procedures must be taken seriously since any welding defects can lead to serious problems. Here are some fundamental guidelines for boiler repair by welding. I cannot cover all aspects of repair in a short article but I will try my best to help you learn a little bit more about this topic in simple technical terms.

First of all, you must know that the owner shall obtain approval from the Authorized Inspector responsible for the jurisdictional inspection prior to making any repair or replacement that affects the pressure retaining capacity of a boiler. Only Authorized Inspectors licensed by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Malaysia) or the National Board may authorize and document the repair forms.

The welding procedure should be carried out by a firm approved for Class 1 welding under the direct supervision of an experienced foreman and to the satisfaction of the third party surveyor and the authorized inspector. Where Class 1 permission is not available, appropriate performance tests should be carried out by selected operators to the surveyor’s satisfaction. Recognized codes such as ASME Codes or BS codes must be followed whenever applicable. The material should comply with the original specifications or be equal to them. The specifications can be obtained from the boiler blueprints. Acceptable welded attachments, weld form, and welding preparation outlined in the blueprint should be adhered to. Only welders who are experienced in Class 1 welded pressure vessel construction shall be employed on boiler repair works. Very careful supervision should be given at all stages of the repair work. Substandard workmanship, should never under any circumstances, be compromised. Low-hydrogen electrode must be used to prevent hydrogen-induced cracking. Low hydrogen electrode used must have the tensile properties similar to that of parent metal.

In welding cracks, carry out dye penetrant test or magnetic particle inspection first to locate the cracks or discontinuities. If defective areas need to be cropped by flame cutting, a suitable final weld preparation of double V, U, or J form should be made by careful chipping or grinding. ASME Code Section IX AF-613 specifies that preparation of plate edges, welding bevels, and chamfers and similar operations involving the removal of metal shall be by machining, chipping, or grinding, by gas cutting or gauging. Where welding is to be carried out in both the down hand and overhand position, the larger V or U preparation should be arranged for the down hand position. With this approach, the flow and penetration of weld material into the parent metal is the optimum. Welding strength depends on the penetration capabilities of the electrode onto the parent metal and the flow of the electrode material into the parent metal.

Where flame cutting or overheating has occurred on boiler shell, hardness plot should be made to determine the corresponding tensile strength by referring to the published table. By doing so, the affected area can be separated from ground material or area. This also gives a clear indication as to whether or not the material has been overheated to some extent that the microstructure of the material has been affected. Under no circumstances may welded repairs be undertaken when the microstructure of the parent material is suspected to have undergone any change from its original form. In any case, MPI should be used to ensure that there are no cracks present before the welding is commenced. The design of the repair should be such that there are no sharp corners and the new insert plate should be of similar quality and specification to that of parent material. This method is called window weld (or window patching).

Areas to be welded should be preheated to a minimum of 93oC for material thickness above ½” and up to 1½”; thicker plate requires higher preheat temperatures. Maintain at that temperature throughout welding process. Care should be taken to eliminate any cold draught from impinging upon the area under repair. Insulation mattress could be made available to protect the welded area from rapid cooling. After welding, grind flush the weld, and carry out DPI or MPI again.

Changes can occur in the metallurgical structure of the base metal adjacent to the weld (heat affected zone or HAZ). The changes can cause embrittlement or degrade the material properties. In addition, upon cooling, the weld metal shrinks to a greater extent that the base metal in contact with the weld (HAZ) exerts a drawing action. Therefore, post weld heat treatment (PWHT) is necessary to restore the ductility of the material and thus prevent stresses, shrinkage, and cracking. Finally, because welding usually affects the pressure-retaining parts of the boiler, the boiler shall be subjected to a hydrostatic test of 1½ times the MAWP for at least 15 minutes.

How to Make World-Class Gourmet Toffee – 12 Secrets – Includes Toffee Recipe

It looks simple but…

A toffee recipe, at first glance, looks deceptively simple. What could be easier…combine butter, sugar, and little water, cook it to a set temperature or certain color…poured out to cool, cover with chocolate and behold another perfect batch of toffee!

If you have ever made toffee at home then you know that there are a host of things that can go wrong, many times for no apparent reason.

I have personally produced hundreds of thousands of pounds of toffee…I am a professional toffee maker.

I’m going to give you a few Toffee Maker’s secrets to help you make that perfect batch of toffee, consistently, batch after batch after batch…and not just ordinary toffee, but World-Class Gourmet Almond Toffee!

Toffee Maker’s Secret #1: Use an accurate candy thermometer. Use the thermometer as a guide or as a roadmap. It will give you an idea when you have arrived. As you gain experience, the color of the batch will also tell you when the toffee is ready.

Toffee Maker’s Secret #2: For consistency from batch to batch weigh each ingredients with a food scale and use only the finest ingredients available.

Toffee Maker’s Secret #3: Follow the cooking procedure exactly. When making toffee the procedure and timing is just as important as the ratio of ingredients. What makes toffee…”Toffee”…is the procedure.

Cooking The Batch.

It’s important that the butter is brought to the boiling point. Add the water and again bring to the boiling point. Boiling the butter and water will dissolve the sugar crystals very quickly. This will keep the batch from re-crystallizing during the cooking process.

Toffee Maker’s Secret #4: Very important! Wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush and water. Any un-dissolve sugar crystals will cause the batch to re-crystallize. If the batch re-crystallizes it will be very grainy and will also separate. I personally have been unable to save a batch of toffee if this happens. You would need to discard the batch and start over.

Let’s continue…

Some critical temperatures to be aware of: At about 250°F the batch would re-crystallize if the heat source you’re using is not high enough to dissolve the sugar crystals as they form. From 250° to 280°F the toffee syrup will appear thick and heavy and will give the impression that the batch is partially re-crystallized. But if your stove is hot enough the tendency to re-crystallize would be eliminated.

Toffee Maker’s Secret #5: Every single Toffee Maker has experienced this problem. The butter and sugar will separate during the cooking process. To solve this problem all we need to do is add an emulsifier at the beginning of the cooking procedure. Lecithin is used for this purpose. Lecithin allows the butterfat to mix with the moisture in the batch. Lecithin is a by-product in the production of soybean flour and oil. The lecithin is purified and non-allergenic for people with soybean allergies. Soy lecithin can be found in health food stores, some major supermarkets and stores that sell candy making supplies and ingredients.

Toffee Maker’s Secret #6: Depending on your elevation, adjust your temperatures by subtracting 1°F for every 500 ft above sea level. (For example: at sea level water boils at 212°F, but where I live water boils at around 201°F).

Now back to cooking the toffee…

As the batch thickens it will not cling to the side of the pan. As soon as the batch shows some signs of scorching, at about 290°, the heat should be turned down.

From this point on the batch will gradually become thinner and will again cling to the sigh of the pan. Cooking beyond the temperature of between 290° to 306°F will cause the batch to scorch and will invert too much sugar. If this happens the toffee will be too brittle and will not develop a soft grain as it ages.

Toffee Maker’s Secret #7: Toffee should be aged for a least one week. This aging process gives the toffee a chance to develop an ideal grain and maximum butter flavor.

Let’s continue…

At the end of the cooking process, 300° to 306°F, the batch will be free from grain. At this point, add a small amount of Baker’s Special Sugar to start the graining process to give the batch a fine soft grain texture.

Toffee Maker’s Secret #8: Toffee should always be kept refrigerated or frozen and tightly sealed. NEVER, EVER, store toffee at room temperature or out in the open air!

Toffee Maker’s Secret #9: Occasionally I will receive a call or an e-mail about chocolate blooming after the toffee is coated. Blooming is caused by moisture on the chocolate. Now, I’m no chocolate expert, but one way to get around the blooming issue is to cover the chocolate (before the chocolate hardened, of course) with crushed nuts. In my case almonds!

Toffee Maker’s Secret #10: Another problem I hear about is the chocolate coating coming off the toffee. Some recipes call for coating the pan that you’re cooling the toffee in with vegetable oil, such as Pam or another nonstick sprays. I have found that this may cause the chocolate coating to fall off after the toffee cools or is refrigerated. Coat the pan or cookie sheet with butter instead. This will normally solve the problem.

Toffee Maker’s Secret #11: To take the flavor of your toffee to the next level, pre-roast your almonds. Use whole, raw, shelled, Non-Pareil almonds. Spead almonds on a cookie sheet and place in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Toffee Maker’s Secret #12: Use only cane sugar. Also, when stirring the toffee use only a spoon made from a material that will not absorb heat, such as, wood or a high temperature plastic. Never use metal. It will absorb the heat from the toffee and cause it to re-crystallize.

The above procedure and suggestions can be applied to or adapted for any toffee recipe and in many cases can be applied to any of your candy making adventures…not just toffee.

The Toffee Recipe:

2 lb Fresh Salted Butter

2.4 lb Granulated Cane Sugar

0.4 lb Baker’s Special sugar

4.8 oz Chopped raw almonds (to cover chocolate)

1 lb Whole dry roasted almonds

0.8 oz Salt

0.3 oz Lecithin

6.4 oz Warm water

The procedure:

Place butter in a heavy pan. Bring to boiling point and add the warm water. Again bring to the boiling point and stir in the granulated cane sugar. Wash down sides with water and a pastry brush. Bring to a good stiff boil and add the lecithin. Cook to 250°F*. Add the roasted almonds. Cook to 280° -290°F* and then lower the temperature on the stove. Cook to 300°-306°F. *(Adjust your temperatures to your elevation – see Secret #6 above). Take the pan off the stove and add the salt and Baker’s special sugar. Mix well and pour onto a buttered cooling slab or cookie sheet. Quickly spread batch and cuts to desired size. Coat each side with pure milk chocolate and sprinkle with chopped or crushed nuts.