Frustrated by a Vibrating Noise and Vibration in Your RO Filter? This May Be It

Frustrated by a Vibrating Noise and Vibration in Your RO Filter? This May Be It

We just spent days and days trying to troubleshoot a fairly horrific vibration noise and vibrating, kind of like a chattering, in our under-sink reverse osmosis filter. We changed all the filters. We changed the auto shutoff valve, twice. We spent hours under the sink tracing the lines. Why did it vibrate so much more in the line to the overflow? And why, oh why, is there only one line to the tank when you both send water to and draw water from the tank? These were the questions in our minds, some of which are still unsolved mysteries. But the mystery of the vibration was cleared up, and it was a shockingly easy fix, especially considering all the time that we had spent trying to figure it out.

As you have probably guessed, it was only by a thorough (and I do mean thorough) process of elimination that we narrowed it down to the only other thing that it could be (other than, you know, replacing the entire system): the check valve.

How to Get Rid of the Vibration Noise and Vibration Coming from Your RO System

The check valve is one of the two elbow-shaped valves that are on one end of the housing that houses your membrane filter. According to PureWaterProducts.com, “The function of the check valve is to isolate the membrane from back pressure from the storage tank and to provide a solid wall for the shutoff valve to push against.”

reverse osmosis check valve

Put a slightly different way, PureWaterOccasional.com (yeah, we don’t quite get the name either) explains that the check valve “is a one-way valve. It allows water to flow toward the drain pipe but prevents it from flowing backward toward the ro membrane. Its function is to prevent backflow into the RO unit in the event of a blocked drain pipe.”

Anyways, once we had, by the days-long, back-aching process of elimination, narrowed it down to the noise having to be caused either by the check valve or Zuul living in the RO system, we took a really good look at that check valve so that we could order the exact same one. Unlike the other various valves in the system, the check valve had a tiny stainless steel disk with a hole in the center of the disk at one end of the elbow.

Frustrated by a Vibrating Noise and Vibration in Your RO Filter? This May Be It

Now, that noise was driving me crazy(er), so I wanted to replace it (while uttering prayers, smudging, and sacrificing a rubber chicken – anything in the hope this would GET RID OF THAT EFFING NOISE!) as soon as possible. Well, the only place that we could find that had a check valve that looked exactly like the one in the picture, meaning with the stainless steel disk in the end, was this one place that would take several days to get it to me. On the other hand, Amazon had a complete membrane replacement kit, including the housing and the three valves that go on the membrane housing, and even an extra wrench, for just $14.99 and they could get it to me the next day. But while it included a check valve, there was no picture of the bottom (top?) of it to see if it had the stainless steel disk with the hole in the middle. Still, people with the same RO system as mine were saying that it worked although some reviews made it sound like it wasn’t exactly the same check valve, and did I mention that Amazon could get it to me the next day? So I did what any (in)sane person would do. I ordered the one that I knew was the right one. And then I ordered the kit from Amazon so that I could hopefully have some peace and quiet while waiting for the really, really right one to arrive. Because yes, by now I was willing to buy an entire extra kit to get that damned check valve, which I knew at least would fit and be a right one, even if it wasn’t the right one, because it was for a 4-state RO filter system just like mine.

Well, guess what. That check valve that came with that kit from Amazon has the stainless steel disk with the hole in the middle! Guess what else. It FIXED THE NOISE! Guess what else? When that other “right” check valve came, they had sent the wrong one, with no stainless steel disk!

Here is the link to the reverse osmosis membrane with check valve kit that I got from Amazon.

By the way, it’s super easy to change out that check valve. You just turn off the water to the system, and open your tap and drain it (so that water doesn’t spray everywhere when you change the valve). Then you pull the tube out of the old check valve, remove the old check valve by turning it counter-clockwise (it’s threaded – righty tighty, lefty loosey), and replace it with the new check valve. Don’t forget to put a bit of teflon tape on the threads!

How to Recycle or Dispose of a Microwave in Colorado

how to recycle or dispose of a microwave in colorado boulder

If you’re wondering how to recycle or dispose of a non-working microwave in Colorado (and most especially in the area of Boulder, Colorado) well, you are not alone. And the good news is that it’s actually really easy to do. And that unlike appliance stores which will charge you to haul it away, the two ways to dispose of a broken microwave are free (well, actually one charges you $3, so nearly free)! Yay!

I recently had to try to figure out how to do this myself. Actually I’ve had to do it twice in the space of four years. No, I’m not particularly hard on microwaves; the built-in over-the-range microwave that came with my house was already old and well-loved, and when it died, I bought a used one on Craigslist (same exact model so that I knew it would fit). As it had already been used by two previous owners, I figured that I would have to replace it at some point, and I did. That said, that second one did last for more than 3 years of near-daily use, so no complaints there (that second one is the one in the picture).

This time there was no comparable one for sale on Craigslist, plus with being so very high risk for Covid I was hoping to order one online, and one that was the same model so, again, I knew it would fit and that it would use the same installation hardware. As it turned out, that exact model isn’t made any more, and the the one most like it (it included a convection oven) was waaaay more than I wanted to spend (especially as I had never once used the convection oven feature). However, the (sort of) same model sans convection oven was not only available, and much less costly, but it was on sale.

The new microwave on the way, I set about figuring out how to dispose of the old, non-functional one. Here’s the thing: If you have an appliance store come and install your new microwave, they will usually haul away the old one. They may do it for free – then again they may not. Best Buy, for example, charges $30 bucks to dispose of your old microwave. Of course, if you aren’t having an appliance store deliver and install your new microwave, that doesn’t help at all. And you are left trying to figure out how to get rid of the darned thing.

So you search and search online (that’s how you ended up here, right?), and find that there are places that you can take it to be recycled, such as the various dumps, but that they will charge you anywhere from $50 to $200(!) to accept your broken microwave.

DON’T PAY THEM!

Here are the two ways to dispose of a microwave for free in Colorado.

How to Recycle or Dispose of a Broken Microwave in Colorado

First, I assume that your old microwave doesn’t work. If it does work, then you can donate it to any one of a number of different charities, or charitable thrift stores such as Goodwill or ARC. Or if you can’t easily wrangle it to take it somewhere, post it for free on Nextdoor or Craigslist. Which brings me to my next point.

Remember that first non-working microwave that I replaced? I posted it on Craigslist, for free, making very clear that it was broken, and received a couple of different responses from people who wanted it! They knew it wasn’t working, I don’t know why they wanted it, maybe for parts, maybe they thought they could fix it. I really don’t know why they wanted it, but I was glad that they did, and one of them came and picked it up!

However if that doesn’t work, or if for some reason you don’t want to do that, the CHARM (Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials) division of Ecocycle in Boulder will take it, and here’s the thing: if you came across them in your search, you will have noticed that on their “what we accept and what it costs” page, they don’t mention microwaves anywhere. They do list other appliances, with associated fees, but not microwaves. Some places on the Internet will tell you to take it to CHARM as a “small electronic”, for which they charge by the pound. But those places are WRONG (thank goodness, because microwaves are heavy, so that would be pretty pricey).

As it turns out, CHARM does take microwaves, and they classify them as scrap metal, for which there is no per-pound fee, the only fee you pay is the $3 entrance fee (which is per vehicle – woohoo, hop in the car, kids, we’re going on a very short road trip!) And, to be certain, here is an email exchange I had with an awesome CHARM Ecocycle employee:

Me:

Hi! Can you please help me understand what the protocol is for bringing in a non-functioning microwave? The information out there is kind of confusing, it *seems* like it’s considered scrap metal, and there is no per-pound charge, but I can’t imagine that’s actually right?

CHARMing employee:

Thank you for reaching out, sorry that this is confusing! Microwaves are indeed scrap metal! There is no facility fee and also no fee per pound. We just ask that you please remove the glass plate/turntable inside. This material is heat proof and will not melt, so it is not recyclable. You may use it as a saucer under your houseplants or hold onto it in case a future microwave plate breaks ?
Glad you asked!

So, how cool is that! :~)

RIP Dear Old Microwave!
how to recycle or dispose of a microwave in colorado boulder

How I Cured My Toenail Fungus: A Toenail Fungus Treatment that Works!

There is an actual toenail fungus treatment system that works, and I know, because I’ve used it (actually I kinda invented it). Back at the beginning of 2020 I got hit with a double whammy: I was diagnosed with a very rare disorder (fortunately not life-threatening) and coincident, toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, decided to take up residence in my left big toe. I’m pretty sure that the fact that my immune system was being messed, what with the onset of the rare condition, allowed that opportunistic little fungus to take hold.

Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a nurse, I am not a nurse practitioner. I am not a medical professional. I use the term “treatment” in the general sense of the word, not the medical sense.

Now, I was super lucky because I caught the little sucker early, when it was just a bright white smear across my toenail. I guess in that way I was fortunate that I had this new immune condition, because it meant I was at the doctor’s a lot, so we saw it, and he told me what it was. Then he told me to soak my foot in bleach water every night, and that it could take up to 2 years to go away. (WTF?)

If you have toenail fungus right now I’m sure that you, like me, have done a ton of research about different treatments, and none of them are guaranteed to work, and certainly none of them are fast. So you search and search, and try different things. Man that onychomycosis is a tenacious little beast. So, after about a week of schlepping the water, pouring in some bleach, making sure that the enbleached water didn’t splash on anything, sitting with my foot in the water – what a hassle – I got one of those Clorox bleach pens; you know the kind that you use on laundry (works great on shower grout too, but don’t leave it on too long, I don’t know if it might break the grout down – hey, I’m a lawyer, not a building contractor).

Of course I was also using the over-the-counter toe nail fungus preparations, namely Kerasal (bet you’ve already tried that, eh? But hang on to it, because it actually is part of the treatment course). My GP (the above-referenced doctor was my specialist for the other condition) confirmed that while this may work, it will take years and the fungus may still come back, but that Kerasal was about the best out there, despite it not being 100% effective 100% of the time, because hey, again, tenacious little sucker. (My GP also told me there is one prescription treatment which he described as a sort of shellac, but that it’s very expensive, and insurance doesn’t cover it. By very expensive, last time I looked, it was about $700. No, that’s not a typo.)

Speaking of my doctors, this treatment system is based on information that I have received from each of them, as well as things that I found in research. Then I put all of that together, and voila! (Hey, look at that, another French word!)

So at this point I’m just going to cut to the chase, because you want to know what I did to cure my toenail fungus. Keep in mind that it still will take a long time. And that it will require you to do things you may not like doing (no no, no live sacrifices involved). Also, the links to products on Amazon are not affiliate links, I don’t make a dime from them; I did this in this article because I want you to understand that this actually worked for me, and I’m not trying to make money off you. (Side note: don’t you hate how you can’t really trust reviews or instructions on websites any more because they all seem to be using Amazon affiliate links, so you can’t really know whether they really love each product, or just want you to click on the links so they make .03 off you?) That said, if you found this helpful, please consider buying me a latte at the end of this post. :~)

The Toenail Fungus Treatment That Really Works

You will need:

  • Kerasal
  • And (not “or”) Ariella toenail fungus treatment
  • A dedicated pair of toenail clippers that you use only on that toenail
  • Borax
  • At least one pair of open-toed shoes that you can wear a lot
  • Socks that you don’t mind boiling in a pot (yes, really) for those times that you really, really can’t wear open-toed shoes
  • A large pot in which to boil the socks

Directions

Part of the key to this treatment is that you want to deprive your toenail fungus of any chance to grow. Whenever you put any covering (shoe, sock, etc.) over the nail which is housing the fungus you are inviting the fungus to stick around and grow. This is primarily because of the unavoidable moisture that will be trapped by your sock and shoe. On the other hand, when you leave your toe completely exposed no moisture can accumulate. I’m not gonna lie: I wore flip-flops for nearly the entire time it took to get rid of this thing, including around the house. The only time that I put closed-toe shoes on was when I was working out. As I work out at least for times a week, that leads me to point #2:

If you must put on a closed-toe shoe, be sure to use a clean pair of socks, and only wear those socks once. Then take them off and put them in that big pot, so you can’t possibly wear them again until they are disinfected. Here’s my system: I have the big ‘sock pot’ and as soon as I take my socks off, into the pot they go. Then once a week I disinfect them all; the Borax is part of that because it turns out that Borax has anti-fungal properties and is a great laundry additive.

Specific instructions for this toenail fungus treatment system

Keep your toenail clipped as short as possible, using the dedicated toenail clippers. Sterilize the toenail clippers in boiling water after each time you use them.

Use both the Kerasal and the Ariella twice a day (morning and night), making sure to cover the entire nail and to get the area up under the edge of the front of the nail.

Only wear closed-toe shoes when it is absolutely unavoidable, and for as short a period of time as possible. Remove socks as soon as possible and put them in the sock pot, do not wear them a second time before they have become disinfected!

When you are ready to do laundry, put about 1/4 cup of Borax into the sock pot, add enough hot water to cover the socks, and a tiny squirt of dish soap. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil, and turn off. Once the socks are cool enough to handle wring them out and put them in with your regular laundry. When you do your laundry, add another 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of Borax along with the laundry soap, and wash in the hottest water that your laundry will allow.

Do this routine consistently, being sure to keep the nail cut short as the infected part grows out.

Now go eradicate that fungus!

Annie’s Unusual Swiffer Hacks

My Swiffer hacks are apparently unique to me, which kind of surprises me, as they seem really obvious to me (including how to keep the wet refill wet when mopping, and how to save on wet and duster refills)! Yet if you do a web search for “Swiffer hacks”, every single result is about Swiffer hacks to refill your WetJet bottle, or to use a microfiber cloth instead of the wet refills. (I don’t know about you but I hate microfiber clothes, they just feel so snaggy on my fingers!) Anyways, my Swiffer hacks are different.

The first one is a way to save money by no longer buying the wet refills. The second one is a way to extend the life of the wet refill as you are using it to, you know, mop your floor. The third is all about dusting.

Use Newborn Cloth Diapers Instead of Swiffer Wet Refills

One day I realized that newborn cloth diapers are nearly the exact same size as Swiffer wet refills. Not only that, but while the center part of the diaper (which covers the part of the Swiffer pad that mops the floor) is nice and cushy and absorbent, the pieces on either side are a single thin layer of material, perfect for tucking into the slots!

Newborn Cloth Diapers
newborn diapers

Just get the diaper soaking wet, wring it out, and put it on the Swiffer.

I use these newborn cloth diapers from Amazon, which are $19 for a pack of 12. Not only will you never have to buy wet refills again (and not have to deal with that icky microfiber feel on your fingers, if that’s a thing for you as it is for me) but you’ll find lots of other things for which to use them.

“But Anne,” you may be saying, “What if I actually want a cleaning solution, not just water, to wet mop my floor?”

Read on.

Keep a Spray Bottle of No-Rinse Floor Cleaner with You When Swiffer Mopping

One of the top complaints about the Swiffer wet refills is how quickly they run out of wet. If you do want to keep using the Swiffer wet refills (instead of a diaper), or if you want floor cleaner with your diaper, check out this easy and economical hack.

Fill a spray bottle with no-rinse floor cleaner (after all, that’s what the wet refills have on them).

I use the Members Mark no-rinse floor cleaner, but you can use any no-rinse floor cleaner you like. The Members Mark no-rinse floor cleaner is $30 for 2 gallons on Amazon, but much much cheaper at Sam’s Club (if you have one near you) or from Sam’s Club on Instacart where it is $6 a gallon.

Then, when you are wet-swiffering your floor, when the pad starts to run dry, just spritz some of that no-rinse floor cleaner down on the floor. I keep that spray bottle in one hand, mop with the Swiffer with the other, and I am never frustrated by having too much floor left at the end of the wet.

Use Swiffer Dry Sweep Refills to Dust With

Swiffer sells a duster with duster refills. Those duster refills are $1.25 each! Guess what!? The Swiffer dry sweeping cloths work just as well (in some instances even better) and are just .25 per! Got places or things that you really need that duster to reach and dust? Fine, save your Swiffer duster and pricey duster refills for that, and go to town with the much cheaper dry sweeper cloth for everything else! Plus the dry sweeper cloths are much easier to get into tight places to get all of that dust.

And those are my Swiffer hacks! I hope that at least one of them was useful for you!

How to Perform Maintenance On and Lubricate a Vibration Plate or Platform

Welcome! If you’ve ended up here it’s almost certainly because you’ve been going crazy trying to find lubrication instructions and to figure out how to lubricate your vibration platform or vibration plate (or whatever you choose to call your vibration machine). You are probably mystified as to why how to oil or lube your vibration platform wasn’t covered in the user manual that came with your vibration plate or platform. (Please note that we are using the terms “vibration platform” and “vibration plate” interchangeably, even though there may be minor differences between the two and from manufacturer to manufacturer.) You may even have already tried to figure it out for yourself, turning your vibration plate over and over looking for where to oil it.

But just in case you aren’t familiar with these machines, which can be found both in gyms and homes, vibration platforms perform whole body vibration. According to Healthline, “Vibration machines, also called shaking machines or shaking platforms, use whole-body vibrations to force your muscles to contract reflexively. They’re available in some gyms and are sold for home use. Generally, people perform exercises like squats, pushups, or crunches on these machines while they’re vibrating. Supporters of vibration machines say these vibrations make your muscles work harder and can help you lose fat, build muscle, and get stronger.” And the Mayo Clinic, always a respected resource, says that research shows that whole-body vibration, when performed correctly and under medical supervision when needed, can reduce back pain, improve strength and balance in older adults, and even reduce bone loss.

In terms of fitness and exercise benefits, online fitness site FitDay has a great, in-depth article on The Benefits of a Vibration Plate.

Vibration plates are sold in many places, and at many price points, all the way from vibration plates for home use, such as this highly rated one on Amazon and this other highly rated one on Amazon, both of which are under $200, all the way up to commercial vibration platforms for gym use that sell for $10,000 (such as this one) up to $15,000 or more!

However they all do essentially the same thing: they vibrate the bejeezus out of you. And the actual platform (plate) part does pretty much the same thing on all of them (that’d be the “vibrating the bejeezus out of you” thing). Obviously the higher-end ones, made for use in a commercial gym, are more solidly and sturdily built, but they still do roughly the same thing.

And they all, every single last one of them, have the same lubricating instructions.

How to Lubricate Your Vibration Plate or Platform

You don’t.

That’s right, that’s what we said. The reason that you can’t find instructions anywhere for lubricating your vibration plate is because they are not made to be lubricated. They are a closed system, with no access for lubrication.

But don’t take our word for it, take the words of all of the experts that we ourselves contacted because, well, our home vibration platform developed a squeak, so we were trying to figure out how to lubricate the damned thing to shut it up! First we contacted the manufacturer of our model, who said “you don’t lubricate it, you can’t.”

That made us think that we had gotten a bum deal, and maybe should have gone with a different model which would allow us lubrication access.

Then we discovered that there are no such models.

So then we called our trusty home and commercial gym equipment repair company (don’t ask) and they, having never heard of lubricating a vibration plate, called their suppliers, and all the way up that supply chain the word came back down: you don’t lubricate a vibration platform.

Finally, we called a gym that has vibration platforms for their members’ use. Surely they would either say “that’s crazy, of course you have to lubricate them” or they would confirm that, even in the high-use environment of a commercial gym, vibration platforms don’t get lubricated.

Guess what. The nice people at this large commercial gym, that has been around for 40 years, said that yes, it’s true, you don’t lubricate vibration plates (vibration platforms, vibration machines, etc.). You don’t, and you can’t.

And what this means for you if you have a home vibration platform and it develops a squeak, is, well a) don’t worry about it, and b) you have to live with it.

Our home vibration platform
How to Perform Maintenance On and Lubricate Your Vibration Platform or Plate

About those Weird Plastic Pieces from Inside the Front Door Panel of a Bosch Dishwasher

Earlier this year we had occasion to remove the front panel from the door of our Bosch dishwasher. The occasion was that it had developed a leak. Now fortunately, one of the most common reasons that a Bosch dishwasher will develop a leak – especially if it seems to be coming from under the door – is that the inlet water valve needs to be replaced. And also fortunately, it turns out that the water inlet valve is relatively easy to replace, once you take the door panel off. (In case you’re interested, this is the inlet water valve that we used to replace the leaking one – ain’t Amazon amazing?)

Well, as soon as that door panel came off of the front of that Bosch dishwasher, two weirdly-shaped plastic pieces literally fell out of the dishwasher, onto the floor (the floor of the kitchen, not the floor of the dishwasher). “Weird,” we thought, and set them aside, sure that it would be obvious where they went once we started putting the dishwasher back together.

Boy were we wrong.

What the hell was this thing?
About those Weird Plastic Pieces from Inside the Front Panel of a Bosch Dishwasher

At first we were misled by the apparent channels in the thing, which led us to think that it was some sort of harness for wiring. But, nope.

In fact, it took us quite a while to figure out what this thing was, but once we did, and once we actually figured out where it went, it was obvious. Dumb, but obvious. Of course it’s obvious once you know, so that is why I wrote this up for you, so you will know, without going through the frustration that we did.

It’s a door spacer for your Bosch dishwasher!

Well, actually, it was obvious where they went – whether they are a door spacer, or something to protect the inside of the door from damage, or both, still wasn’t 100% clear. We are choosing to call it a door spacer.

But once you know what they are, where they go, and how they go, is obvious. So if you have found pieces that look like the above, here is how they go back in.

Inserting the door spacer protector back into your dishwasher
putting plastic door spacer back bosch dishwasher inserting

Notice the single prong on the plastic door spacer; once you insert the plastic piece as in the above picture, it will seat into place with a satisfying click.

putting plastic door spacer back bosch dishwasher seated click

This is what it will look like from above, once it is clicked in and fully seated.

View from above
putting plastic door spacer back bosch dishwasher view from above

And that’s all there is to it. It probably took you way more time to discover what those silly plastic pieces are than it will to shove them back in!

By the way, in case you’re wondering, this is what the inlet water valve looks like:

Bosch Dishwasher Inlet Water Valve
bosch dishwasher inlet water inlet valve

And, again, you can find them on Amazon here (although be sure to check that it’s compatible with your model, this is the one that worked for our model). It costs all of $12.50.

“I Swear I Heard a Strange Popping Noise as Her Brain Misfired”

The below, recounting 4th year medical student _Haliax_ witnessing his attending physician’s interaction with a mother who did not want to vaccinate her children because, you know, 9/11, chemtrails, and other conspiracy theories including vaccine conspiracies, has been making the rounds of the Internet (Facebook, etc.) as a screenshot. So of course, before posting it, I wanted to verify the authenticity of that screenshot, and of the source. I have now done so.

The below was originally posted on Reddit, in the AskReddit subReddit (known to the Reddit crowd as simply a “sub”, as in “in the AskReddit sub”), in response to a post titled “Doctors of Reddit, what are some of your anti-vax parent stories?” It was posted by the user who goes by the username of _Haliax_. It was originally posted in May of 2019, however this particular response seems as apt today as then. Here’s the post:

4th year med student reporting in.

Had a rotation with a pediatrician where we ended up in the classic encounter with an anti-vaccination parent.

This lady was a conspiracy theory magnet. She casually mentioned everything from 9/11 to chemtrails. Of course she loved the idea of the vaccine conspiracy as well, opting to not protect her one year old to stick it to big pharma.

I relayed all of this to my attending after my exam (I would see the patient first, gather history and do my exam to present to my attending physician). He got this sort of lazy smirk on his face that screamed “watch this”.

We go back into the exam room and we cover all of the important bits of a well-child encounter. Growth charts, behavioral milestones, nutrition, sleep…

And then we get to vaccines. She lists approximately 15 reasons why vaccines are more dangerous than the disease they protect against (lol) in addition to the various evils of the pharmaceutical industry.

My attending listens quietly until she’s done with her soapbox (about one eternity later), and then interjects with:

“Have you considered the possibility that anti-vaccine propaganda could be an attempt by the Russians or the Chinese to weaken the health of the United States population?”

In a moment of catastrophic cognitive dissonance, I swear I heard a strange popping noise as her brain misfired. It actually broke her. The allure of the increasingly ridiculous conspiracy theory was just too strong.

She ended up agreeing to a modified vaccine schedule. I was flabbergasted. My attending just grinned at me in response. To this day I’m not sure the medical ethics of the situation are totally palatable, but goddamn the result was amazing.

How to Clean and Fix Your Le Creuset Black Enamel Interior

If you have a Le Creuset griddle or skillet that has the black enamel interior, and which now has a glaze of sticky, shiny, or sticking spots that you can’t get off no matter how much you scrub it, I’m going to tell you how to fix it, and about the “patina”.

Now, I’m sure that you, like me, bought this pricey piece because, hey, it’s cast iron that you can abuse in the washing process. Pile on the soap. Leave it to drip dry. Heck, you can even put it in the dishwasher!

Plus, it doesn’t need to be seasoned.

Or so they say.

But then in your searches you may have come across some articles that talk about the “patina” that lays down on the black enamel cooking surface. Specifically certain Le Creuset sites say, of the black interior enamel cooking surfaces, that it “has excellent, easy food release properties, which are enhanced once a natural surface patina develops.” These sites go on to explain that the “patina is produced from oils and fats used for greasing and those released from the food. After a few uses, a brownish film will appear. This patina should not be scrubbed off, as it greatly enhances the cooking and release performance of foods from the surface.”

So in essence, your black enameled interior cooking surface on your Le Creuset skillet, griddle, or grill (or other item), does need to be seasoned, but it’s expected to develop the seasoning as it’s used, rather than your having to season it initially.

What this means is that your black enamel cooking surface isn’t supposed to get spotlessly clean, it is supposed to grab the grease and oil that you put on it, or that leeches out from the foods you cook, leading to those spots that you have probably been diligently trying to scrub off (you can’t), lamenting that you have probably ruined your beautiful cookware the first time that you used it (you didn’t), or, at least, making you sad because it doesn’t look like it did when you first unboxed it (it’s not supposed to).

Which leads us to this:

How to Clean and Fix Your Le Creuset Black Enamel Interior

You are actually going to season patina that sucker. That’s right, even though you aren’t supposed to have to season patina it.

First, if you have sticky spots on your cookware, try to get them off as best as you can. What I did was I put a splash of dish soap, and a healthy sprinkle of baking soda, into the griddle, and then filled it with boiling water. Then I let the water cool until I could put my hands in it, and I scraped away at the sticky spots with my thumbnail. I should add that this was the only thing that worked – not scrubbing it with a nylon scrubber, not Bar Keeper’s friend – nothing else. Only the dish soap, baking soda, and thumbnail. Do the best you can, and don’t sweat it if there are glazed patches that remain behind (that’s baby patina), you just want to remove as much of the sticky patches as you can.

Now, preheat your oven to 400°, and while the oven is heating brush a neutral oil such as safflower or sunflower oil all over the interior of your pan. Make it a very thin layer. Any areas where the oil layer isn’t paper thin can end up sticky, instead of seasoned.

Now, put your pan in your oven for 30 minutes. Remove it, and let it cool completely.

Run your fingers along the inside of your pan to make sure that there are no sticky spots (if there are, put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so).

Assuming that the interior of your pan passes the “no sticky spots” test, repeat the oil-and-bake process two more times.

At this point, after the third coating and cooling, your black enamel cooking surface should be slick, and relatively smooth (not completely smooth, but relatively). Now when you cook on it, if things stick to it at all, they will come off fairly easily. You can still put it in the dishwasher, although expect to have to re-season it at some point if you do.

I call this “Still Life with Patina”
How to Use, Care for, and Fix Your Le Creuset Black Enamel Interior

The Best Way to Make Cold Brew Coffee Plus No-Mess Coffee Grounds! Also: the Best Ratio for that Cold Brewed Coffee!

Yeah, “The Best Way to Make Cold Brew Coffee is Also the Easiest Way to Deal with the Grounds – Also: the Best Ratio for that Cold Brewed Coffee!” is a long title, but I needed to let you know what you’re in for. So hang on, because I’m going to rock your cold brew world! (Update: Ok, I just changed it to “The Best Way to Make Cold Brew Coffee Plus No-Mess Coffee Grounds! Also: the Best Ratio for that Cold Brewed Coffee!”..slightly better.)

Before we go any further, let’s clear up something at the outset: when you brew cold brew coffee you are making a coffee concentrate, which, in order to drink, you will first dilute with water (unless you’re looking for a crazed-weasel level of caffeine). That is one of the two perfect ratios people want to know – how much coffee concentrate to how much water. More on that below.

We got on the cold brew kick because – let’s face it – we’re lazy (which made dealing with cold brew grounds..heck, any grounds, a hassle, which makes our discovery even all the more exciting, but more on that in a moment).

The fact that it makes a cup of coffee so smooth that even if you slathered a baby’s bottom with the smoothest of mashed avocado, and topped it off with whipped cream, it couldn’t compete, is just an added benefit.

And the fact that cold brew allows you to tweak the strength of your coffee to just how you like it – from ‘delicate with a hint of coffee aroma’ to ‘motherfather can we dial it down to just high octane’? Another added benefit.

Have I mentioned that we’re lazy? And that we don’t like to deal with the grounds?

This is the lazyperson’s cold brew method, and the fact that it just happens to make amazing, smooth coffee is a bonus. Or, if you aren’t so lazy, then the fact that this cold brew method, that makes amazingly smooth coffee, is also super easy to make and super easy when it comes to dealing with the grounds is the bonus.

Either way, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s PDA (that’s Pretty Damn Awesome, not public display of affection, although those are PDA too (see what I did there?)).

First we tried making it with our French press. It worked ok, but part of the whole laziness thing is that dealing with those grounds is a hassle.

So then, thinking it would be less hassle (and hey, more coffee!) we got one of these:

cold brew coffee maker

(That’s the “Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker with Airtight Lid”, which not only was even more of a hassle, but apparently that “airtight lid” isn’t water-tight – it leaked (only slightly, but still).

One day I was cleaning out the cupboard, and came across something that we had used months before in our futile efforts to make dealing with spent coffee grounds easier. They were filters for our French press (yes, we’re that lazy). My other half didn’t love them (hot coffee grounds and all that), so we used one, and then put the other 99 in the cupboard and promptly forgot about them.

Until I was cleaning out the cupboard and saw them, and pulled them out, and was just about to post them on Nextdoor in case someone else with a French press wanted to try them – seriously, I had already written the post and was proofreading it before pressing ‘send’ when…

LIGHTBULB!!

“Hey, these look like they would just fit in a Mason canning jar!”

(Yeah, we have talking light bulbs at our house.)

And thus the Best Way to Make Cold Brew Coffee Plus No-Mess Grounds (BWMCBCPNMG) was born! And here it is.

The Best Way to Make Cold Brew Coffee Plus No-Mess Coffee Grounds! Also: the Best Ratio for that Cold Brewed Coffee!

For this method you will need:

  • Mason (or other) 1 quart canning jars – as many as you want to store in your fridge at once
  • French press coffee filters (see link below)
  • Coffee (obviously) – course ground, as for a French press, is best

Instructions

Open and insert one French press coffee filter into each empty Mason jar, folding the top down over the outside of the jar.

best way to make cold brew coffee empty jars with filters

Measure 2/3 cup coffee grounds (there’s that magic ratio) into each filter. So that ratio is 2/3 cup grounds to nearly 1 quart of water (nearly because even though you will fill the jars with water, some of the volume is taken up by the coffee).

Note that we use a canning funnel to do this, which makes it so much easier. You can get a canning funnel at most hardware stores, or on Amazon here.

measuring the coffee grounds for cold brew coffee

coffee in filter cold brew mason jars

Now, slowly add water to each jar, using a spoon to make sure that all of the grounds are moistened as you add the water. You do not want any of the grounds at the top to be dry!

adding water to cold brew coffee

 

Side view
water in cold brew mason jar

 

Top view
top view cold brew coffee

 

Be sure to fill the jar so that the water comes to nearly the top of the jar!

Now, keeping the top of the filter folded down over the outside of the jar, screw the lid on.

make cold brew coffee in mason jars

three jars of cold brew coffee in mason jars

Leave the filled jars on your counter for 12 to 24 hours, depending in part on how strong you like to make your cold brew, and in part on how lazy you are. We make ours in the evening, and leave it on the counter overnight for at least 12 hours. We also make enough for a week at a time.

When they are done (or, if you are like us, when you come out in the morning) they will look like this:

cold brew coffee in canning jars done

Note that while the filters will be discolored at the top on the outside, they will not leak or drip onto your counter.

Now take the cap off…

cold brew coffee done with cap off

fold up the sides…

cold brew coffee in canning jar with filter folded up

and holding the filter closed, gently start pulling the filter up so that it can drain down into the jar.

removing filter cold brew coffee

You will probably want to remove the filters over your sink or some other receptacle. Once they are completely drained, you can compost them (yes, the filters (link below) are compostable), or empty them out into your garden, or otherwise dispose of them.

removing cold brew coffee filters

You now have jars full of amazing cold brew coffee concentrate, to which you can add cold water, cold water and ice, or hot water!

Wonderful, smooth dark brew coffee, the lazy person’s way!
yummy cold brew coffee

By the way, there are really two perfect ratios for making cold brew coffee. The first is the grounds:water ratio (which will differ depending on method, taste, and grind – for this method we have found the perfect ratio to be 2/3 cup grounds per full jar). Of course the ‘taste’ part means that there really can be no “perfect” ratio, but for this method the 2/3 cup grounds per jar is a darned good start.

The second “perfect ratio” is the cold brew concentrate to water ratio for when you are making your coffee to drink. And if there can really be no perfect ratio for making the cold brew concentrate, there can really be no perfect ratio for how you use it! It’s entirely to taste, depending in large part on how strong you like your coffee. Some people even drink this stuff straight! Most, though, will do either a 1:2 ratio (coffee concentrate to water) or a 1:1 ratio. So start there and adjust to..you got it..taste.

Ok, the filters that we use are the Caffi brand French press coffee filters, and you can get them on Amazon here. You may be able to get them elsewhere, but I’ve only been able to find them on Amazon. Fortunately they are only .21 each, at $21 per 100 pack.

cold brew coffee filters

Enjoy!

What is the Lighted Padlock Icon on My Dashboard and Why Won’t My Car Start?

A couple of days ago my 2017 Subaru Forester wouldn’t start. What’s more, every time I tried to start it, it flashed a dashboard light that looked just like a little padlock. That darned padlock dashboard icon flashed so fast that at first I could barely tell what it was, but it had to be something to do with why my Subaru wouldn’t start, right? Here’s a video of that flashing padlock symbol, which turns out to mean “anti-theft security system is in force” (how Robocop).

Here’s a still photo of the padlock security light – turns out it’s a padlock through..a windshield? A rear window? Somehow having a hole through which a padlock can fit in your glass doesn’t seem all that secure to me, but what do I know?

Flashing Padlock Icon on Dashboard
flashing padlock light subaru forester wont start

Anyways, here’s the thing: If your car has an anti-theft system, that little light always comes on when you start the car, and then turns right off again when the car starts. In fact, it always comes on with all the other dashboard lights that come on at the same time which is why nobody ever notices it.

Until the car doesn’t start and the dash lights are on and you are looking at them wondering why your car won’t start. THEN you notice it.

So, it turns out that flashing padlock icon has nothing to do with why your car won’t start.

Here’s what else I learned. First, my Subaru Forester (turbo, thank you very much) is barely two years old, so the fact that it wouldn’t start (wouldn’t even try to turn over – it’s dead, Jim) – was concerning, to say the least. And, oh yeah, the battery of course was relatively new as well. And the odds of the battery being the issue and it not even trying to turn over, not once, seemed unlikely.

After much searching online (probably not unlike the searching that you did that landed you here) we discovered that, of all things, it was a blown starter fuse!

In case you are here because your car won’t start and you just happen to have a Subaru, we found this page here on how to change a Subaru fuse and where they are incredibly helpful. In fact, it was all that we needed to check all of the fuses, determine which one was blown, and change it (and Subaru happily includes replacement fuses and a fuse puller in the fuse box under the hood – although the starter fuse that needed changing was in the interior fuse panel by the steering wheel).

If the search that led you here isn’t an issue with a Subaru, you can find all you need by searching on the Internet for “how to change fuse {make and model of your car}”.

Searches that led to this article: subaru what does the lock symbol mean?,