Cool Stuff – Pioneer Skills
“How to Makeover Your Staircase for $30”

I have a friend named Frank Fortress. Well, he would say it is Frank Castle, but I call him Frank Fortress. Neither of those names are actually his name. His real, true, birth name is Francisco Arredondo. He is originally from Mexico but he resides in Austin, Texas now and is a world class architect. The name change occurred at my birthday dinner almost exactly one year ago. He jokingly […]

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“Homemade Beeswax Candles”

Have you ever made homemade candles? I grew up making them from time to time, but it entailed dunking a wick into a pot of melted golden beeswax, letting it cool slightly, and dipping again. This went on and on until I had a nice fat candle. This version which I did last weekend is much easier with a lot less clean up. It would make a fun Valentines activity. […]

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“10 Most Useful Kitchen Tools for Cooking Meat”

People often ask me what my favorite kitchen tool is. This, of course, depends on what’s for dinner. If there is protein on the menu, and there often is, these are the top 10 items I rely on most often to ensure that the final result is as delicious as it can be and nothing is wasted. Meat thermometer. This is so important and often overlooked. Overcooked meat, especially overcooked […]

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“How to Harvest Honey”

A little while ago, my dad and I harvested the honey at Tulipwood. My dad has been mastering the art of beekeeping for quite some time now. He had bees when he lived at Tulipwood as a boy and began again later in life. We learned some good lessons about honey harvesting this year that I thought I’d share in addition to showing you how we do it. It’s fun […]

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“Tips for Field Dressing Game Birds, Part 2”

In part 1, I talked about my tips for field dressing and aging game birds. And though my preference is to keep birds whole with skin on whenever possible, here are several other options when the circumstances call for it: On skinning a bird… There are times when a bird has been too badly damaged to keep the skin in tact. In this case, you can skin the bird, while […]

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“Tips for Field Dressing Game Birds, Part 1”

Bird hunting season is upon us and there’s nothing I like more than a wild bird at the dinner table, especially during the holidays. Preparing wild birds after the hunt can sometimes be tricky, so here are a few of my handy tips on dressing and preparing wild birds for the table. In the field… Field treatment of game birds is crucial, especially if you plan to age them. Get […]

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“How to Get Started Hunting”

I often receive inquiries from folks who are interested in hunting for the first time, but aren’t sure where to start. I didn’t grow up hunting, I took it up later in life after I began cooking professionally. So I totally get how daunting it can seem when you are looking in from the outside, and all of those camo-clad men look so informed and toss around lingo you’ve never […]

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“How to Make a Homemade Cherry Picker”

Last week I posed a question to the cyber world: **Smart People**: if you had a very, very, very tall cherry tree, how would you get the cherries when a ladder was not an option? I got a lot of responses with all kinds of excellent and curious suggestions. I can’t show you the answers on my Facebook because my page was migrated and merged with my other older pages […]

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“How to Build a Planter Box”

A few months ago, as I moved into my new home in Austin, I was feeling rather bold. I had a bit of a deck that went out into a creek and loved it. But it needed something a bit more lush and romantic to feel truly finished. I had this one spot in particular along this fence that needed plants, and I couldn’t find a planter that was the […]

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