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Jul 24, 2018

A Foolproof Cast Iron Skillet Maintenance Routine

Cast iron skillet maintenance

This October marks my wife's and my 10th wedding anniversary, which means I've managed to keep our cast iron skillets in good working condition for an entire decade (I'm a recovering flake, so our trio of pans definitely had some rough times due to the slow-drip brutality of negligence). Through much trial and error, I've developed a solid method of caring for cast iron that will keep these babies cooking for generations to come.

Read on!        

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Jul 23, 2018

How To: Grill a Scotch Egg

How to grill a scotch egg

I love eggs and will eat them just about any way you can possibly imagine: fried in a pan (runny yolks, please), scrambled with cheese, gently poached in water or tomato sauce, structured into an omelet or frittata, emulsified into a perfect egg salad. I quote Michael Ruhlman in The Elements of Cooking:

My reverence for the egg borders on religious devotion. It is the perfect food—an inexpensive package, dense with nutrients and exquisitely flavored, that's both easily and simply prepared but that is also capable of unmatched versatility in the kitchen.

And then there's that wonderful pub concoction, the Scotch egg, which totally sounds like the kind of food a couple of dudes came up with at about 3 in the morning. "Let's wrap an egg in meat and DEEP FRY IT!"

Since it's summer and I'll take any excuse to whip on the charcoal, I took it upon myself to create a simple grilled version.         

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Jul 05, 2018

ManMade Recommended: This is the Paracord You Should Be Taking on All Your Adventures

Even if you don't know it by name, you likely already know paracord. Chances are very good that you've seen it, either in the aisles at your local craft store or knotted into a survival bracelet.

It's a classic example of how a military-specific product found new life as a civilian utility item. Originally designed with airborne units (the name is portmanteau of "parachute" + "cord"), its strength, durability, and versatility lend well to all sorts of other functions. It's especially useful for survival and adventure situations, which means that enterprising outdoor gear companies have begun including other materials in the core of the cord besides the standard separate nylon yarns: in the case of ParaTinder, a waxed thread meant to be used as a firestarter.

I got a package of this as a stocking stuffer last Christmas and wanted to give it a whirl—it's important to test out your survival gear when the stakes are low rather than trying it out for the first time in an emergency. 

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Jul 03, 2018

30 Metalworking Accounts You Should Follow on Instagram

I've stated it before:  I'm a total workshop rat. There's something about spaces where skilled work gets done that invigorates my spirit. At various points throughout my life, I've wandered into blacksmith shops—on my great uncle's farm in southern Ohio, at a permanent exhibit on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, at the dead end of a street on the outskirts of my college town in West Virginia—and each time I've quieted with reverence, among the tongs and hammers and slack tubs, as if walking in the glow of stained glass windows.

Short of actually hanging around the shop, smelling the hot metal and hearing the clank of a hammer on an anvil, I get my forge fix by following metalsmiths on Instagram. Here are thirty of ManMade's favorite accounts that we totally recommend. 

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Jun 18, 2018

How to: A Primer on Keeping a Baseball Scorecard

It's the time of year when grills grace backyards with fragrant charcoal smoke, chins drip with fresh watermelon juice, and the gentle drone of neighborhood lawnmowers beat back that evergrowing green tide. Every day pushes sunset a little later into the edge of night, and in the morning you can smell the dew steaming off from the tips of grass. Summer is here... and it's brought baseball along. 

One of the things I look forward to in the middle of the year is setting aside the latter half of a day, soaking in the ambience of a ballpark while trying to avoid mustard stains on my pants, and adding a new scorecard to my collection. I first started keeping score on a whim several years ago at a Durham Bulls game on the 4th of July, the first baseball game I had been to in about a decade. I'm a pretty obsessive notetaker, so when I gave it a shot...

I was totally hooked. As my poor pregnant wife completely roasted in her outfield seat next to mine (and eventually took solace in the shade near the concessions... sorry Ashley!), I watched the game—no, took part in the game—with an awareness so keen it almost felt like I had picked up several new senses.

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Jun 07, 2018

7 Solid Father/Son Movies to Watch This Father's Day

Dads: we've all got 'em. They impact our lives enormously, whether present or absent. And boy, that father-son dynamic—it's a particularly potent combination, especially as sons grow into men. The relationship between dads and sons can be really satisfying, or really sour. 

One thing's for sure: whether he wants to admit it or not, every man wants to hear some form of a hearty, sincere "good job, son" from his dad. And when he doesn't get it—either from straight-up disapproval or, more often, distance, the relationship strains under the weight of the son's resentment. 

Whether your dad's your hero or your frenemy, whether you're mourning his loss or you want to live on the opposite end of the world as him, here's a short Father's Day list of father-son film pairings guaranteed to give you a bad case of sweaty eyes.

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Jun 06, 2018

Why You Should Still Keep a Paper Map in Your Glovebox

Somewhere in that no-man's land between technophile and -phobe, I've pitched my tent and pass freely between the borders. I juggle my professional work on Google's G Suite (especially Gmail, Keep, Calendar, Docs, and Sheets), but one of my most effective planning tools is a wood pencil and minimalist bullet journal in a blank notebook. I'm thrilled every time I thumb through magazines like WIRED, but I totally think A.I. is a crapshoot. In short, I keep a dynamic dialogue between new and old tech, because elegant solutions to the world's challenges lie at just about every point in its history.

A perfect illustration of this is the fact that though I regularly rely on Google Maps for real-time driving directions, I still keep paper maps of my home state, some neighboring states, and even an atlas in my car. What's the point? Read on for four good reasons.

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Jun 04, 2018

What to Do When Your Craft Doesn't Pay (Yet)

Congratulations, you found a craft that calls to you! 

You dove down into the rabbit hole to see how deep it goes, and in your pursuit of excellence, you've gone pro—harnessing those hours spent doing something else to make a living, transferring them into your trade. The only problem: quitting your day job suddenly means the weight of your income rests squarely on your craft's shoulders, and it's rare to make a decent wage as a beginner. 

The good news is that no time spent in your craft is wasted, so even while you're hustling and just barely making it, you can build some really valuable resources that will provide immense payoffs later.

Read on for a modest proposal of what to do when the wider world doesn't yet recognize the value of your work!

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May 29, 2018

Gear List: Outfit a Killer Home Coffee Setup for $99

When I look back on the formative years that were my 20's, I can vividly map out the entire decade with not only the colleges I attended, the cities I lived in, and apartments I rented, but also the coffee shops that I haunted. During my college years in particular, I probably spent just as much time in joe joints as I did on campus, either slinging espresso behind the bar or sinking into one of those ratty overstuffed couches. (Bear in mind, this was back in the day when coffee shops were more "hippie" than "hipster.")

For the first time in my life, though, since buying a house in a new town, I don't actually have a "home coffee shop." And frankly, for this phase of my life I'm not missing it, because I've tricked out my home coffee bar and barista skills to just enough of a level where—when I sit down in my studio, set my favorite jazz album going, and thunk a steaming mug down on the table—I'm fooled into that same exact coffee shop comfort zone. (Bonus: not having some random guy with a laptop camp out for hours in my favorite window seat.)

Do you want to level up your coffee game apart from your auto drip, save a ton of money per cup, and have fun learning a skill that will stick with you the rest of your life? Dude, it's time to set up your own home coffee bar

We've broken down the home bar into must-have gear, classified by categories based on the stages of the brewing process. Read on for our basic recommendations, plus some suggested upgrades.

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May 29, 2018

Five Great Sources of Masculine Stationery

Image: Thornwillow Press

I recently came across a great quote originating on Twitter by Stephen Fry concerning the debate on the analog-digital dethronement sequence: "Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators."

I'm a man neck-deep in digital technology (one prime example: I mostly draw digitally in Photoshop on a Cintiq tablet, which uses "brushes" coded to act like anything from watercolor to oil paints to graphite) and I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Fry. The more my surroundings convert to lines of code, sandwiched between a backlit screen and a power source, the more I want to balance it all out with things I can touch, taste, and smell.  

Correspondence is one of those areas: I email and text a lot, but recently I've started to turn to my old friends at the U.S. Postal Service to send my most important messages, for the simple fact that nothing says "I care" more than a handwritten note. (Check out our post on the still-existing power of the handwritten letter for more on the subject.) 

The only thing is, if I'm going to take the time to write someone a letter, I'm going to go the extra mile and forego the cheap printer paper.  So, along with a good pencil or fountain pen, the number one item I need for this task is some good, high-quality stationery that looks like it came from...well, me. Read on for some of my favorite suppliers!    

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