2017 Wrangler 4 Door Mobile, Single Person, Non-Ceiling Lift System

Mobile Overhead Lift Single Person

Why Build versus Buy:

I have been all over the forums. I scoured Pinterest. I watched endless videos on YouTube. And for the life of me, I could not find a design to get my Hardtop off of my 2017 Wrangler unless… I had lots of ceiling space in my garage (I don’t) or I wanted to spend hundreds of dollars on a pre-fab’d solution (and I was not about to do that) or I could muscle the Hardtop onto a cart (I can, but I have kids… the crazy, buzzing about, landed me in the ER twice kind of BOYS).

I’m an engineer by education and profession. Solving problems is my job. So this is no different! Here is what my goals were for this build…

  • The lift system MUST BE PORTABLE. Meaning, it needs to move around as my garage is small, my driveway is even smaller, and I have kids that are constantly filling my garage with toys (junk).
  • The lift system MUST BE OPERABLE BY ONE PERSON. My wife loves me and my Jeep, but she isn’t strong enough to lift 100 LBS over her head. I could certainly muscle the hardtop over my head myself, but I don’t want to take the chance of being rushed or jarred when my kid was to bump me while I’m holding 200lbs over my head (game over!!!).
  • The lift system CANNOT CONNECT TO MY CEILING. Ceiling systems, which are awesome, wasn’t an option for me. I just don’t have the Square Footage to make that work, unfortunately.
  • The lift system CANNOT BREAK THE BANK. I was not about to spend a grand on a way to take my hardtop off my Jeep. The thought of that just makes me sick! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cheap, I am frugal.

The Design:

So, time to get to design. First, I needed the dimensions of the Jeep. I knew that I was planning on a lift system, not a muscle and slide system. That means an overhead “crane” like operation. That means that I needed to know what my frame would look like (height, width, and depth). I knew that it had to support at least 200 lbs (besides its own weight). It needed to be tough enough to deal with my children that would likely use it as a jungle gym when I wasn’t looking, and I didn’t want my $1500 Hardtop falling on the floor.

I wanted to make it from wood… cause wood is cheap and strong and most homes are made of the stuff. Some would say “use metal tubing or pipes”, and I thought…. uh… no. Too involved, too much weight, too complicated, I don’t have good metal working tools, and just nope.

Next, I wanted to be able to use ratchet straps OR a hand crank pulley. I’m going to start with ratchet straps so that I can feel this out, but I know that I want to upgrade to a pulley system once I’m comfortable with the lift.

So – unlike some of my friends that won’t share… here is the basic arch diagram (Figure 1). I stuck to this almost to a T, except for the height of the Mid-Rail. That is there for stability, and really… the height doesn’t matter. I originally thought I may lay 2×4’s across it and lower the top down onto it like a shelf, so I did the height based off of ground to hardtop lip on my Jeep… so I recommend that for height. But to date, the ratchet straps have been more than stable. You can download the plan here.

Figure 1: Basic Physical Design

The Build:

The build was simple and basic. 2×4’s, 2.5” wood screws (number 10), 2.5” casters (2 locking with brakes), and a set of ratchet straps (for this build – I’ll do a future blog on the pulley system).

  1. Buy the parts (see the purchase list). Decide for yourself if you want the casters or not. I prefer physical screws over lags or anchors or joist connections… but heck, its all good… its 2×4’s… it can handle this simple weight.
  2. Rip cut the (15x) 2×4’s down to the dimensions listed in the cut sheet. The cut sheet is very accurate.
  3. Once ripped, now comes the fun… building it. I got a buddy to help only because its a Jeep, and Beer must be involved. 🙂 (See pics)
    1. Start off by building one side at a time. Getting the full side put together will make things way easier. Pay particular attention to the corner beams, as that is what helps with the side to side torque. Do not add the casters yet.
    2. Once you have the two sides built, the next step is to add the cross members for the back. Put both sides on their front face, with back facing up. Add the top and bottom rails, along with the corner beams, to build a full 3/4 rectangle. This will give the structure enough support to hold its own weight. While it is in this position, add the back 2 casters (I recommend the locks be here since this is the back side facing the back of the Jeep).
    3. Now, you should probably have a buddy for this, flip the whole structure over. This will help you add the supporting top rail (no bottom!!!) so that you complete the basic framing for the support of the weight. While in this position, add the last two caster (non locking).
    4. Stand it up, and add the eye lags to the top rails for the connections to pulleys or ratchet straps and your Jeep. I placed the whole rig around my Jeep rear, and eye-balled the correct drill points. Honestly, you can’t mess this up as we are not doing physical connections, and are using ropes / tie downs/ ratchet straps / etc.
    5. Have a beer. You are done.

Here are some pics of the progress as we build it.

Figure 2: Basic Frame fully assembled.
Figure 3: Close-up of the Corner Connections in the Back Left Corner
Figure 4: Master Carpenter completing his first project with Daddy!
Figure 5: Kids doing acrobats with the lift

Truth Time – Lift the Hardtop:

So the time of truth. I used ratchet straps as they were a known quantity for me. I know their breaking weight as I have broken them. I know what I can pull from my Jeep with these (I have pulled F150 out of ditches with these straps – swear – granted I 10x’d them over to handle the weight).

But more importantly, I wanted to see how I could navigate my garage with this frame on wheels. Well, it was AWESOME!!

Figure 6: She is a wheeler!
Figure 7: Solid, Stable, Non-Moving, and Super Easy to Move!
Figure 8: We worked, we lifted, we rode, and now… we eat! Acme Pizza
Figure 9: Final Storage

Ok – So I haven’t even posted this Blog yet, and I have already been asked for more detailed plans and a video for how did I lift and lower. I will post these in the next 2 or so weeks.

Thai Green Curry Chicken Soup

This is a slightly more advanced recipe, only because of the number of ingredients (that may be somewhat hard to find). But, if you are adventurous enough to do so, you won’t be disappointed! This Green Curry soup is a very savory and spicy soup, and has all of the flavors of a good Thai curry without the rice! If you like yours a bit spicier, add fresh jalapeno slices! I usually double the recipe because it is so good, and a bit of work!

Ingredients

  • 3 lemongrass stalks
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped well
  • 4 inches of fresh ginger root, skinned and chopped well
  • 2.5 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut up into chunks
  • 12 ounces fresh white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. Green Curry  paste (or fresh if you know the recipe)
  • 3 tbsp. premium fish sauce
    Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans of coconut milk
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Recipe

  1. Peel and slice lemongrass talks, and chop. Add lemongrass with ginger and garlic to large pot over medium heat. Cook for 60 seconds in light oil.
  2. Stir in chicken broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Strain out lemongrass, garlic, and ginger and throw away. Set broth aside.
  4. Debone and remove the skin from the chicken thighs, and cut into 1 inch pieces. Cook in pan with light oil till cooked thru (~5-10 minutes).
  5. Near the end of browning chicken, add mushrooms and cook for remaining 5 minutes.
  6. Add back to broth from earlier, and put back on heat.
  7. Stir in Green Curry, fish sauce, lime juice, coconut milk, and return to simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Near last 5 minutes, add sliced onions.
  9. When time is up, add cilantro and stir in.

Inks Family Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers
Sausage and Peppers

Ok – most families have that one recipe that is “theirs”. Well, this Sausage and Peppers recipe is my father’s. He made this up a number of years ago, and it is really a fantastic recipe. Its hot, savory, spicy, and a bit of Italian meets Russian! It is a simple crock pot recipe that feeds the masses!

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs Italian Sausage (we prefer spicy)
  • 1 large Vadalia or Yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes, or 32 oz of fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1 whole bulb garlic (or 6 cloves, depending on size – but go heavy handed here), minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 tbsp. basil
  • 2 tbsp. oregano
  • 1 bottle of pickled pepperoncini peppers, including the sauce (remove the stems, and slice them up)

Recipe

  1. Fry the Italian sausage in a frying pan. Remove the sausage from the grease, but leave the grease for the next step in the frying pan. Add the cooked sausage to the crock pot.
  2. Fry the diced onions until caramelized but not burnt. Add the minced garlic near the last 2 minutes. Add to the crock pot when complete.
  3. Add all other ingredients to the crock pot.
  4. Cook for 4-5 hours on slow. Do not let burn!
  5. Serve over rice (brown or white) or on a hard Turano style roll!

Gluten-free, vegan, Pierogi Recipe

Gluten Free Pierogi

Gluten Free Pierogi
Gluten Free Pierogi

Pierogi’s… an amazing appetizer or main meal, that sadly many in my family just could not enjoy. So, I did what any engineer would do – I solved the problem. I have taken the recipe that my grandmother would make, and have modified it to use ingredients that my family can eat, so that they can enjoy the tasty treats. It is the best approximation to the old-world recipe that I have experienced – and I hope you agree!

Ingredients (makes 24)

Dough Ingredients

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lb potatoes
  • 3-4 tbsp. oil (vegetable)
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 1 cup Daiya cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (Soy free Earth Balance)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Recipe

Dough Recipe

  1. Warm milk, water, and melted butter to ~110 (for the yeast).
  2. Add in egg replacer with salt and sugar.
  3. Mix in the gluten-free baking mix.
  4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes to mix thoroughly.
  5. Cover and place in a warm place, and allow to rise for 30 minutes. It won’t rise much.

Filling Recipe

  1. Peel and cut potatoes, and boil in a pan with salted cold water.
  2. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onions until caramelized, but not burnt!
  4. Once the potatoes are done, drain, and allow steam to evaporate.
  5. Add potatoes and onions into a bowl, and mix and mash.
  6. Add the Daiya cheddar cheese, salt and black pepper, and mix to taste.
  7. Set aside as the filling for the dough.

Make the Pierogi

  1. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Cut the dough into 24 equal sized balls. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Flatten each ball into a round circle approximately 4 inches in diameter.
  4. Spread potato filling into the center.
  5. Fold the dough together into a half moon, and seal the edges. Press with the end of a fork if necessary.
  6. Delicately, add pierogi to boiling water, and boil for 2 minutes each. Remove and allow to cool and dry.
  7. At this point, you can freeze (once cooled) and separate with wax or parchment paper.
  8. To cook, add to a pan with onions, mushrooms, and generous butter. They should be sautéed till golden brown, but not burnt, turning frequently.
  9. Serve with sour cream.

Pierogi Recipe

Pierogi

Pierogi
Pierogi

Pierogi’s… the memories from my grandmother’s house as she rolled these out all weekend long! Simple dough filled pastries that can be boiled, deep fried, or sautéed in butter… man they are awesome. I even would steal them as she was making them and eat them after they were boiled (probably not the healthiest thing in the world, but they tasted good after they were prepared)!

Ingredients (makes 24)

Dough Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp rapid-rise dried yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • Lots of butter (for sautéing later), with onions and mushrooms!

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lb potatoes
  • 3-4 tbsp. oil (vegetable)
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Recipe

Dough Recipe

  1. Warm milk, water, and melted butter to ~110 (for the yeast).
  2. Add in whisked whole egg with salt and sugar.
  3. Mix in the yeast with flour and stir, careful not to clump.
  4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes to mix thoroughly.
  5. Cover and place in a warm place, and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Filling Recipe

  1. Peel and cut potatoes, and boil in a pan with salted cold water.
  2. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onions until caramelized, but not burnt!
  4. Once the potatoes are done, drain, and allow steam to evaporate.
  5. Add potatoes and onions into a bowl, and mix and mash.
  6. Add the cheddar cheese and sour cream, salt and black pepper, and mix to taste.
  7. Set aside as the filling for the dough.

Make the Pierogi

  1. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Cut the dough into 24 equal sized balls. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Flatten each ball into a round circle approximately 4 inches in diameter.
  4. Spread potato filling into the center.
  5. Fold the dough together into a half moon, and seal the edges. Press with the end of a fork if necessary.
  6. Delicately, add pierogi to boiling water, and boil for 2 minutes each. Remove and allow to cool and dry.
  7. At this point, you can freeze (once cooled) and separate with wax or parchment paper.
  8. To cook, add to a pan with onions, mushrooms, and generous butter. They should be sautéed till golden brown, but not burnt, turning frequently.
  9. Serve with sour cream.

Borscht Recipe

Borscht

Borscht
Borscht

Borscht – my all-time favorite soup. Hearty, soothing, and just down right awesome. And, if you have lots of root vegetables, a good fridge clearing event! Kids love it because of its color and flavor. Parents love it because it is a natural remedy for curing common colds and aches. And during Christmas – it is just perfectly festive! I recommend doubling the recipe since it takes so long, and this portion will go fast!

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

Borscht Ingredients

  • 5-6 beets (approximately 1 1/4 lb)
  • 3 carrots (shredded – 1 cup)
  • 1 cabbage wedge (shredded – 1 cup)
  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh chopped dill
  • Sour Cream
  • 4-6 lemon wedges for serving

Soup Stock Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 lb beef + bone (any will do, go as fatty or as lean as your tastes prefer)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 celeriac
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 peppercorns
  • 2-3 fresh parsley stalks
  • 1 tsp salt

Recipes

Soup Stock Recipe

  1. Place beef (and bone) into a large pot. Add water and bring to boil.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Skim off any fat / oil / residue that boils off.
  4. Add cleaned and stripped carrot, parsnip, celeriac, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley and salt to the pot.
  5. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Remove vegetables and spices from the pot and discard.
  7. Remove meat (and bone) from the pot. Cut the meat into small chunks. Set aside for later.

Borscht Recipe

  1. Add cleaned and stripped beets and carrots to the pot.
  2. Bring to boil, then reduce and simmer for 40 minutes.
  3. Remove the beets and carrots from the pan and cool.
  4. Add sliced / shredded cabbage and sliced onions, plus diced potatoes, to the pot.
  5. Bring back to boil, then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Grate (coarse) the beets and carrots, and add to the pot.
  7. Add tomato paste, sugar and salt to the pot.
  8. Add the meat from earlier to the pot.
  9. Return to simmer for 10 minutes.
  10. Serve in bowls, topped with sour cream and fresh dill, with a side lemon wedge.

Turducken Recipe

Turducken!

Turducken!
Turducken!

John Madden always talked about his favorite Thanksgiving Day meal – the Turducken. This Frankenstein bird is amazing, full of flavor and juice! But, the construction of one is a massive process, and not for one that is easily accomplished if you are not good at preparing poultry.

The overall recipe will take well over 9 hours to cook at 225 degrees F, so you will have a multi-day preparation. You can’t just get up on Thanksgiving day morning and start this bad bird! You need to make cornbread, and turn it into cornbread stuffing! And you need to make sausage stuffing! Never mind the whole process of the Turducken!!

Ingredients:

Ingredients
Ingredients

Primary Ingredients:

  • 15 to 20 lb whole turkey. If frozen, you will need to thaw it a few days early
  • 4 to 5 lb whole duck
  • 4 to 5 lb whole chicken
  • Cotton string or butcher’s twine
  • Cheese cloth

Ingredients for Dry Rub:

  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp basil
  • 2 tbsp oregano

Ingredients for Sausage Stuffing:

Sausage Stuffing
Sausage Stuffing

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 large Vidalia or yellow onions to make 3 cups
  • 8 stalks of celery to make 1 ½ cups
  • 2 lbs spicy Italian sausage
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1 whole bunch garlic
  • 3 cups of turkey or chicken stock
  • 3 cups of toasted bread crumbs (Italian) (more may be needed if mixture is too wet)

Ingredients for Cornbread Stuffing:

Cornbread Stuffing
Cornbread Stuffing

The Turducken Workplan:

  • T-2 days till Thanksgiving Dinner: Prepare the Cornbread (See my Cornbread recipe for a simple but good one! It takes about an hour). Also – brine your turkey!!
  • T-1 days till Thanksgiving Dinner: Prepare the Cornbread stuffing (30 minutes), the Dry Rub, the Sausage Stuffing (1 hour), Prepare the Birds (3 hours), and Assemble the Turducken (1 hour)
  • T-10 hours till Thanksgiving Dinner: Cook the Turducken (9 to 10 hours, we hope!)

Recipes:

Prepare the Cornbread Stuffing (30 minutes):

Cornbread Stuffing
Cornbread Stuffing

  1. Assuming you cooked your cornbread the day before, it should be nice and cool and dry at this point.
  2. Crumble the cornbread – ½ inch chunks should be good
  3. Sauté celery and onion in butter until soft and slightly caramelized
  4. In a large bowl, combine celery, onions, 3 cups of crumbled cornbread, eggs (beaten), turkey or chicken stock, sage, salt and pepper to taste. Mix
  5. Check the consistency. If it is too wet, add more cornbread crumble. If it is too dry, add more butter and turkey or chicken stock.
  6. Set aside for later assembly

Prepare the Dry Rub:

  1. Assemble the spices. Mix.
  2. Set aside for later assembly

Prepare the Sausage Stuffing (1 hour):

Sausage Stuffing
Sausage Stuffing

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet
  2. Add 3 cups of onions and 1 ½ cups of celery (chopped reasonably small, but not minced)
  3. Sauté the onion and celery mix until the onions are completely caramelized (but not burnt)
  4. Add the 2 lbs of sausage and cook till browned, stirring often
  5. Add paprika and minced garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring often
  6. Add 3 cups of chicken or turkey stock and bring up to a simmer
  7. Cook until water evaporates and the oil rises to the top (10 to 15 minutes)
  8. Stir in 2 to 3 cups of toasted bread crumbs and mix well
  9. Add more bread crumbs if it is still too moist
  10. Set aside for later assembly

Prepare the Birds (1 hour per bird, 3 hours total):

Brined Turkey
Brined Turkey

  1. Do not crack open any beer during this step – you need your witts about you and need to watch the knife!
  2. Start with the Turkey
  3. Rinse the Turkey. Remove any gizzards, necks, bones, giblets, etc. Set aside for later for gravy.
  4. Put the turkey breast side down on a clean flat surface
  5. Cut thru the skin along the spine.
  6. With the tip of a sharp knife, starting from the neck, separate the meat from the rib cage on one side.
  7. At the neck end, cut the meat away to show the shoulder blade, and cut meat away from and around the bone. When you can, cut the bone at the joint to remove the shoulder blade.
  8. Keep the wing but keep any meat from the body attached – you are just trying to remove the bone and cartilage from the rib cage.
  9. Separate the meat from the frame, down toward the thighbone.
  10. Repeat the whole procedure on the other side of the bird
  11. TAKE YOUR TIME – the goal here is to remove the bones and cartilage from the center cage, but leave a “skin and meat body” left that resembles a turkey
  12. Any carcass and bones that you remove save for gravy!
  13. You should end up with a very flat, boneless, piece of turkey with skin intact in one large piece, including legs and wings
  14. Wrap with plastic wrap and put in the fridge so it does not spoil or dry out while you move on to the duck.
  15. Deboned Turkey
    Deboned Turkey

     

  16. Repeat the entire process, line for line, for the duck with the following modifications:
  17. Cut away the wings and legs. Leave the meat attached but remove any bones. You don’t need to be as clean with this bird.
  18. The goal with these next two birds is to remove the chest and spine bones, and leave the wing and leg meat without bone. We want a “meat cake”.
  19. Make sure you trim excess skin and fat from the birds where it is appropriate. Ducks are very fatty and will get greasy when it cooks. If you save the skin and fat that was excess, it will make a great gravy along with the bones.
  20. Repeat the entire process for the chicken
  21. Deboned Chicken
    Deboned Chicken
  22. Proceed to have a few beers – you have earned them!

Assemble the Turducken (1 hour):

Turducken Cake
Turducken Cake

  1. Open a beer. Take a sip. Now comes the fun part.
  2. Spread the turkey, skin down, on a flat surface. Expose as much meat as possible
  3. Rub the Dry Rub evenly on the meat of the turkey
  4. Spread sausage stuffing over the turkey, approximately ½ to ¾ inch thick
  5. Drink some more beer. You should be proud of how this first layer looks.
  6. Place the duck, skin down, on top of the stuffing. Keep the “neck up” on both birds so it lines up
  7. Rub the Dry Rub evenly on the meat of the duck
  8. Spread cornbread stuffing over the duck, approximately ½ inch thick
  9. Drink some even more beer. Madden is smiling somewhere!
  10. Place the chicken, skin down, on top of the stuffing. Keep the “neck up” on all three birds so it lines up
  11. Rub the Dry Rub evenly on the meat of the chicken
  12. Spread the remaining sausage and cornbread stuffing’s on the chicken
  13. Talk a buddy into checking out what you did. Have a few sips of beer and toast to the feast!
  14. With your partner, and carefully lift each side of the layered birds, folding together, like you are going to stitch up the Frankenstein, uh, I mean Turducken, back together. Cause that is the next step!
  15. While your partner holds the bird together, sew the opening down the back of the turkey together with the cotton or butchers twine. It doesn’t matter too much if it is perfect, but work as best as you can. If there are major gaps, use a cheese cloth (or other kitchen cloth for cooking) to cover the spots for when we “flip the bird” (coming soon).
  16. Frankenturkey
    Frankenturkey
  17. The Turducken has no skeleton, so you must tie the lets together, and truss up the bird (use cotton or butchers twine to pull the legs and wings to the sides of the body, holding them in place, so that they do not split apart while cooking).
  18. Tie 4 or 5 pieces of cotton or butchers twine around the bird width-wise, to act as a bit of a skeleton
  19. GENTLY, turn the bird over and place in the roasting pan so it is positioned breast side up and looks somewhat “normal”.
  20. Tie the legs together just above the tips as a last step.
  21. Turducken Pre-cook
    Turducken Pre-cook
  22. Finish off your six pack, if you haven’t already. You are well on your way to Turducken Heaven!

Cook the Turducken (9 to 10 hours, we hope!):

Cooked Turducken
Cooked Turducken

  1. Heat oven to 225 degrees F
  2. You need to have a good oven with good temperature control. This is key! Use additional baking temperature gauges inside the oven if you have to.
  3. Add a meat thermometer inside the bird (with remote wire) to monitor the internal temperature
  4. Place the bird in the oven and bake until a meat thermometer in the bird reads 165 degrees (fingers crossed about 12-14 hours)
  5. RELY ON THE TEMPERATURE NOT THE TIME!
  6. You don’t have to baste the bird, but you do need to pull out the drippings. There will be a lot! Save the drippings for gravy!
  7. To serve, cut the bird right down the middle (width-wise). Slice it like a cake.
  8. Eat, Drink, and be Merry!

Cornbread Recipe

Cornbred cooked NC Style
Cornbred cooked NC Style

Cornbread! What could be better at Thanksgiving! Well, in the south, there is never a bad excuse, or an excuse needed, to eat cornbread! This recipe is simple, fast, and delicious!

Cornbread Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ¾ cups of flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of buttermilk

Cornbread Directions:

  1. Cornbread raw
    Cornbread raw

    Preheat oven to 435 degrees F.

  2. Lightly grease 8-inch baking dish with butter or Crisco
  3. In large bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt
  4. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the cornmeal mixture, and mix until there is no dry spots (leave it lumpy)
  6. Pour the batter into the baking dish
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, and until top is golden (test with a toothpick to make sure middle of cornbread is cooked)
  8. Remove and cool for 10 minutes before cutting for serving

 

Jeep Wrangler Handle Bar Grips

For my next minor modification, it was time to give the Wrangler some additional things to hold on to – handle bar grips. While my normal driving style doesn’t need this, when I do any off-road wheeling, my kids and passengers have said that they needed some handle bar grips to hold on to.

Enter the Wild Boar Grips from Opar.  There are many different brands and companies out there that are making these style of grips, but honestly I just liked the Opar versions the best. They come in pairs, for both the front and the back separately or together as a package. Almost all of the brands out there are similar, so really it comes down to color and choice. They all pretty much install the same way, and really only vary in color and material of constructions.

The Rear Handle Bar Grips Install

Opar Wild Boar Back Left Grip
Opar Wild Boar Back Left Grip

First, I installed the rear handle bar grips. These installed the easiest Along the top rail along the rear door, you will find two screws that hold the plastic covering over the bar. This plastic will not easily fall off when you take these two screws off, so do not panic. Simply remove the screws, and replace with the screws (and spacers) included with the kit. Note: the handle bars are slightly bent – inward. So if you try to mount them, make sure that you have them facing inward towards the center of the cabin and not externally towards the windows.

Opar Wild Boar Back Left Grip Outside
Opar Wild Boar Back Left Grip Outside

As you can see from the outside (its a sun glared picture – sorry), its a clean installation. Notice that the spacers go “up into” the mount holes, to give it a nice flush mount. Make sure you tighten all the way so that these are solid.

The Front Handle Bar Grips Install

Opar WilOpar Wild Boar Front Right Gripd Boar Front Right Grip
Opar Wild Boar Front Right Grip

Next, I moved up to the front handle bar grips. These were a bit more challenging to install. These also require two screw mounting places, but these screws are the larger “frame” bolts in the front bars of the Jeep. Removing these takes a deep socket and some muscle to break them free – watch the glass! Also, when you use the deep socket to get these out, watch that you don’t loose the bolt into the frame! So when the get loose, be careful!

Opar Wild Boar Front Left Grip
Opar Wild Boar Front Left Grip

Once you get them out, mounting these is also challenging. The reason is, that the screw holes are not perfectly aligned to the spacers of the handles, and are off-centered (not 90 degrees). So, I recommend starting with the “top” spacer first, and get it screwed in near the top but visibly loose. Then, use that to help guide the side wall screw in. Take your time and feel it out till you feel it grip – don’t force it! Once you have it caught, get it near tight. Alternate back and forth till you have it firmly tight on both. These are frame bolts, so it is going to be very tight and hard – enjoy the workout!

Opar Wild Boar Front Right Grip Outside
Opar Wild Boar Front Right Grip Outside

These too have a slight bend to them, where it is intended that they are angled inward toward the center of the cabin. Make sure that you have them angled correctly, and not facing outward, or you could damage your window on your door!.

These handle bar grips will look awesome when you are finished, and actually feel very strong and comfortable for when you have an “oh sh!t” moment.

Wrap up

So, for ~$60 USD, you can have a set of front and back handle bar grips that look good, are very sturdy, and will accent your Jeep Wrangler quite well. It is still bolt on modifications, albeit a bit more challenging, but a great set of Handle Bar Grips!

You can find them on Amazon, search for Opar Front & Rear Grabars Grab Handle Kit for 2007-2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

 

Russian Salad Recipe

Russian Salad (commonly called Salad Olivier)

Russian salad is a traditional new year dish for Russians, and is also something that is served at many family events and name-days. There are many variations on the ingredients based on what the family’s have available to them, but the base is usually the same. Its a delicious salad, served cold. If you love macaroni or potatoes salad, you will love this dish!

Enjoy!

A note on the vegetables: don’t over cook them! And don’t under cook them! You want them firm and crisp, but still completely cooked. If they get mushy, you over did it. If they are raw, no one will enjoy it! So – take your time!

Ingredients

  • 1lb of small cubed ham (~1 cm)
  • 16 oz of sweet peas (1 can, but fresh is best!)
  • 3 medium size potatoes
  • 4-5 medium size carrots
  • 5-6 eggs
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • 5-6 medium size cucumbers (pickled with salt not with vinegar! see Russian
  • Salted Cucumber recipes)
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt by taste
  • Mayonnaise to taste – but be generous
  • 1 teaspoon of spicy Dijon (or English) mustard

Recipe

  1. Skin the potatoes
  2. Boil carrots and potatoes to cook.
  3. Cool carrots and potatoes to room temperature BEFORE you continue.
  4. Hard Boil
  5. the eggs.
  6. Cool the eggs to room temperature.
  7. Dice everything into cubes approximately 1 cm in width
  8. Place the diced carrots and potatoes into a big bowl.
  9. Add the peas (note: if using fresh, boil and cook first, and drain. If using canned, drain).
  10. Add the eggs to the bowl (be gentle while mixing)
  11. Add the cubed ham
  12. Dice the pickled cucumbers. Make sure that you only use cucumbers pickled with salt and not vinegar!!
  13. Chop the green onions and dill , and add to the bowl.
  14. Begin adding the mayonnaise and mix everything thoroughly. Add the mayonnaise to taste. You want it wet and bound nicely, but not taste like mayonnaise soup! If you want a bit more zest (my preference), use Miracle Whip!
  15. Add ground black pepper and salt to taste till you are happy with the flavor.
  16. CHILL!! Then serve.