Monthly Archives: March 2013

Enamel clad cast iron.

Over here in the US we have huge factory stores.  Coach for purses and totes.  Michael Kors with designer clothing.  Nike for athletic wear and shoes.  Le Creuset for the ultimate in cook ware.  Not just any cookware either.  French enamel clad cast iron with not one single dutch oven priced UNDER $200.

I picked up a 5 quart dutch oven made by Lodge Cast Iron while we were traveling through Tennessee earlier this month.

5 quart enamel clad dutch oven

I was not so very thrilled to learn that this addition to my cooking arsenal is from China :-(.

With the proliferation of television cooking shows and a rise in consumer demand, Lodge broadened its variety of cookware by importing vibrant Porcelain Enameled Cast Iron from China. After several years of searching for the right partner foundry, Lodge introduced the elegant L-Series in 2005, and has since expanded its assortment, earning positive reviews from Good Housekeeping and Fine Cooking magazines, test kitchens, and our valued customers.

There are a few things to consider before you fork over the money to purchase an enamel clad cast iron pot, pan, or dutch oven.

  1. The enamel coating on the inside and outside of the vessel is GLASS enamel.
  2. The enamel will chip and crack if handled roughly.
  3. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, preheat this cooking pot or pan with nothing in it.  DO NOT allow water to boil dry in this pot or pan.  The enamel will crack and chunks will break off.  There is no repair, that I have found, for broken or chipped enamel.  Once chipped you will have to make sure the cast iron is SEASONED within the crack or chip if it has gone all the way through.
  4. The enamel will stain while cooking some foods such as black beans and some tomato preparations.
  5. Cleaning the stained enamel will require using baking soda and water mixed into a paste and quite a lengthy spate of time using elbow grease.  You can also fill the vessel with hot water and add household bleach then let it set until the water cools, then wash well with soap and water.
  6. The cooking heat is not insulated by the enamel while you are cooking.  You will burn your fingers off if you grab the handles during cooking.
  7. These pots and pans are HEAVY!  Because they are made from cast iron then coated with the enamel they weigh quite a lot.
  8. When not in use the cooking vessel needs to have air circulating.  Keep the “Bumpers” it came with.

When you first take your dutch oven out of the box you will find some silicone “bumpers” (for lack of a better word) that are placed along the rim of the pot.

Silicone "Bumpers"

These “bumpers” protect the outer rim of the dutch oven while the lid is stored on top.  These bumpers are easily removed.  Just grip one with your fingers and pull straight up.

They are easily removed

Do not throw these bumpers away.  Once you have finished cooking, washed your dutch oven and dried it, you will put these bumpers back on the rim of the pot before placing the lid on for storage.  These bumpers protect the edges of the pot from chipping.Don't lose them.

Before you begin cooking with your new pot make sure to give it a really good wash in quite warm water using dish soap.

Wash and rinse well before first use

I made spaghetti sauce in this pan and I was totally delighted with the results.  Better than any sauce I’ve made with my other pots and pans.  Really flavorful.  I do use a store bought sauce.  The one I like the best is Bertolli.  I prefer Bertolli over Ragu and Prego, even Hunts brands of spaghetti sauces.

Bertolli spaghetti sauce

This sauce not only tastes good (in my opinion) the first two ingredients ARE NOT corn syrup and sugar.  Sugar is one of the LAST ingredients.Sugar is one of the last ingredients on the list

Joe and I prefer to have chunky spaghetti sauce.  Most people would think this is obscene and the sauce is no longer a spaghetti sauce but we like it.  If you find you don’t have enough ground meat for your sauce adding chopped vegetables stretches your food dollar.  Plus you get the benefit of eating your veggies 😀

One medium onion, two ribs of celery, two carrots, and about 12 button mushrooms.

Fresh vegetables to add in the sauce

All chopped and ready to go in my fancy new pot 😉All chopped and ready.

A drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of the pan, turn the heat on medium.  I  have an electric range with heat numbers of 1 through 10.  I started the heat at 5 to cook these vegetables in the oil.  After about 15 minutes of cooking on Level 5 I reduced the heat to Level 3 and cooked the vegetables for another 15 minutes.Into the fancy pan with olive oil

The good thing about cooking with cast iron is it retains the heat.  One of the bad things about cooking with cast iron is the whole entire pot is HOT!  Sides, bottom, and handles are HOT!.

Joe and I saw this little gadget while in the Lodge Factory Store and we had quite a conversation over what exactly it was for.  The top green parts are silicone.  The little pads on the silver part are silicone.  The two green tops squeeze together like a binder clip.  Oh, now I think I know what it is…..

What the heck is this?

A spoon rest that clips to the side of the pot.  Okay, I guess my fancy new pot needs to have a fancy new gadget to go with it 😉A spoon rest is what it is.

When the vegetables are nearly done add your ground beef and cook until well done.  Or you can cook the ground beef in a separate skillet then drain the grease.  Something I should have done because this fancy pot is HEAVY and quite cumbersome to hold the lid on while tilting the “hot mess” over the sink to allow the grease to drain into an empty tin can.  Did I mention that cast iron cookware is HEAVY?

Cook the ground beef until done.

Once the grease is drained well add the spaghetti sauce and stir well to incorporate.  Allow the sauce to simmer in the pot, COVERED, for about 20 minutes.  You might find a hungry person slinking around your cooking and going in for a sniff 😀Add the spaghetti sauce

When you are satisfied the sauce has cooked long enough and your noodles are done, ladle up the goodness and “Mangia”.  Mangia = eat

Ladel it on over noodles and enjoy

When the pot cools down enough then store the remaining sauce (if there is any left) in a freezer bag to save for a night when you don’t have time to make fresh.  Maybe the next time you use this sauce you will decide to have lasagne.  Poof!  Magic!  Sauce is already prepared, all you have to do is thaw it and cook the noodles 😀

Leslie


Cleaning cast iron cookware.

I have a couple memories of my childhood at home with my parents.  I remember my mother cleaning her cast iron skillets with running hot water and a metal scouring pad.  No soap came near her precious skillets.  Once all the grease and food particles were removed it was time to dry the skillet.

Gas ranges were the norm in the late 1950’s and on into my teen years of the 1970’s.  An electric range was unheard of.  Not even the extremely wealthy had electric ranges until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

My mother would turn the gas burner on high.  The blue flames would be reaching out from the stove top and I was constantly in fear of them reaching out and catching our house on fire.  My  mother would give the cleaned skillet a few shakes to dislodge standing water then place it atop the burner.  The  hissing and popping noise of the water being heated to steam and evaporating right before my eyes never failed to impress me.  Once all the water was gone, usually within a minute, my mother would turn the burner off and loudly admonish everyone in our home “Hot!  Don’t touch!”  Once the skillet was cool enough to wrap her hands around the handle it was moved to the back of the stove ready for the next meal.

I asked my mother why she didn’t use soap on the skillet like she did with the other dishes being washed.  Her reason was the soap removed the “Seasoning” from the pan.  Didn’t mean anything to me at the time, seasoning I mean.  When I got older and was an ineffectual cook who burned everything I reflected on this time and thought “seasoning” meant salt or pepper.

Seasoned Cast Iron:  If you want to know the chemistry of seasoning your cast iron skillet Sheryl Canter has an excellent post on how to REseason an old cast iron piece of cookware.

Long before Teflon was invented the cast iron cookware our grandparents and their grandparents and their….well you get the drift….had a NON STICK cooking surface.  The oil used back then was always animal fat.  Our forebears had no clue about “Free Radicals” and cancer.  I don’t know much about Free Radicals either.  Today’s cast iron cookware comes to you already PRE-seasoned so you don’t have to go through all the hard work involved.

In today’s bacteria fearing community with everyone using disinfectants to clean countertops, hand sanitizers, and bleaching everything that stands still my mother’s cleaning method with only hot water would send paroxysms of  terror coursing through the neighborhood.  Anyone invited to dinner would immediately decline the invitation for fear of getting food poisoning.

The truth of the matter is that cast iron heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit before adding foods kills all bacteria.  Heating the skillet before adding cooking oil and foods is what you do.  Leaving a cast iron skillet on medium heat for four minutes has a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Less than 4 minutes, but more than one, is the optimum heat to sanitize your cast iron.  Here is a video showing how to clean a cast iron skillet.

I clean my cast iron as my mother did.  Hot water, scrub to get off food particles, wipe with paper towels, then set on a heated burner to fully dry the pan of all moisture, and lastly turn off the heat and allow the pan to cool.  I only use soap when I have a particularly fatty roast that leaves a slick residue on the pan after cleaning.

THE ADVANTAGES of cooking with cast iron:

  • Through the normal cooking process small amounts of iron get cooked in your food.  The iron is a nutrient we all need for healthy living.
  • Less heat is needed to cook your food.  Other styles of cookware require more heat.  Higher flames or higher electric heat burner things for prolonged cooking time to get the required results are necessary.  With cast iron, once the cookware reaches optimum temperature (usually within 5 minutes) the heat can be reduced by half to maintain optimum cooking temperature.
  • The cast iron retains the heat, which makes for even cooking of your foods.
  • Properly seasoned cast iron cookware is non stick.
  • No Teflon bits getting in your food.
  • The bottoms of the cookware are flat making for even cooking all around the cooking surface.  No hot spots from rounded bottom cookware.
  • Cast iron doesn’t warp when the heat is too high.

THE DISADVANTAGES of cooking with cast iron:

  • It is HEAVY!
  • You need to use protective gear while stirring or handling the food being cooked.  Pot holders, folded up cloth hand towels, silicone specialty devices made to fit the handles of the cookware.
  • Cast iron rusts if not dried properly.
  • Care of the cookware is a little more involved than just washing it and allowing it to dry in a dish rack or wiping it out and storing it in your cupboard.
  • Transferring cooked food from cast iron cookware is a TWO HANDED job with no cool place to put your hands.
  • Acidic foods, tomato sauces, are not recommended for cast iron.  The acids will cause the cookware to rust and it will remove the seasoning.

The biggest thing I’ve found since cooking with cast iron is the food has more flavor.  I have a large Calphalon skillet that I absolutely love to cook with.  My main complaint is the cooking area has variant heat temperatures.  Hot in the center but much cooler on the outer edges that are further from the heat source.  When cooking pork chops in the Calphalon I have to tend to them more.  Moving them away from the center hot spot to keep the meat from burning in one area while the outer surface of the meats don’t get the charring I like.  I have to arrange the meats in the pan to get an even char before being able to turn them over and continue the cooking process.

My kitchen collection of skillets run the entire gamut of cookware.  I have Teflon coated steel, anodized steel Calphalon, enamel and Teflon coated cookware, and a small (but growing) collection of cast iron.

Adding to my cast iron collection I now have an enamel coated dutch oven that I used last night to make spaghetti sauce.  It was truly fantastic.  I’ll share that tomorrow.

So in short.  Cleaning cast iron is nothing to fear.  Soap or no soap, which ever you can live with.  After cleaning and fully drying cast iron give it a quick swipe with vegetable oil and you are done.

If you have found a badly rusted piece of cast iron cookware at a yard sale or thrift store you can restore it and make it part of your cooking arsenal.  Here is a video showing what to do with badly rusted cast iron cookware.  This video is informative, however the family’s dogs are quite distracting.

Hope this helps to answer any questions you may have about using cast iron in your cooking.

Leslie

 


Cooking with cast iron

First, I need to state that this is NOT an advertisement for Lodge Cast Iron and I am not being compensated by them to create this post.

When the weather is bad – 20 mile per hour winds, snow, ice, or rain – Joe will complicate my cooking regimen by wanting to use the barbeque grill.  He says he wants to help.  I don’t doubt his ability to get the charcoal cooker lit and dinner prepared.  He has been on our porch with snow falling while he tends the fire and steaks cooking them to tasty goodness before.

One of the perks of my job is getting to out of the way places and finding unique shops or restaurants.  March 4th to the 8th of this year we took eight trucks from Shelbyville, Tennessee to Blythewood, South Carolina making two trips to get them all delivered.

Shelbyville to Blythewood

Just south of Nashville, Tennessee on I-24 at Exit 152 and down Tennessee State Highway 27 is the town of South Pittsburg.  This is one of those old towns with brick buildings lining narrow streets.  The Lodge Factory Store is located at 503 South Cedar Avenue in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.  You have to travel through the town proper quite a distance.  Keep going until you see the Dollar General sign and you are there.

Lodge factory store

Cast iron cookware has been manufactured in this little town for over 100 years.

The Factory Store is full of cast iron cookware for anything you may need for your culinary prowess.  I’ve been looking for a grill pan quite a long time and found the one I wanted at this store.  If you visit this Factory Store make sure to make your way to the back where you will find discounted cast iron cookware that are “Seconds” – still the premium quality but the surface is not smooth – and also items that have been discontinued.

I purchased this 10-1/2″ grill pan for $16.50!  The regular price for this pan of better quality is $32.95.

Grill pan

Factory second

Joe has been running around home getting our equipment repaired and serviced before we head back out.  Yesterday, the day he said he would be grilling steaks, was spent taking our pickup in for an oil change and replacing the wheel bearings on the left front axle; taking our trailer to a repair shop to get the brakes replaced and upgraded.  So I figured I’d make use of my new pan.

Adding a little olive oil to the pan and smearing it around with a pastry brush (I’ve never used) I followed Bobby Flay’s dictum…..get the grill hot, put the steak on and LEAVE IT ALONE for six minutes.  I love watching cooking shows.  I don’t like to cook but I like to watch 😀

Hot pan to start Turn only once after 6 minutes

This grill pan was fantastic!  The meat was juicy and tender….even mine that is cooked way past done – enough to make any good Chef pass out from the sacrilegious act.

I had to turn my vent fan on to eliminate most of the smoke this type of cooking causes and to get rid of the smell of charred meat.

This pan would be awesome for burgers.  All the meat drippings pool down below the ridges and your food doesn’t saute in fat.  Burgers cooked in this type of pan would have the markings of a barbeque grill also.

The temperatures are warming up here in Oklahoma.  The wind is still blowing but the warmth and abundant sunlight is working its magic on restoring my soul.

While I’m talking about grilling and food I want to let you in on a “Corn on the Cob” trick.  You probably know this already and I’m not telling you anything new.  I found some odd looking sharp devices at my local Bed Bath and Beyond.

Sharp pokey things

Shove the pokey things into the ends of the corn cob.  The ones I have are silicone and are dishwasher safe.

Stick them on the ends of the corn

These little guys enable you to dress your corn without burning your fingers off!  They are also excellent to hold the corn while you bury your teeth and face into the hot cob and eat with melted butter dripping from your chin.  No burning fingers 😀

Dress your corn without burning fingers

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about cooking with enamel covered cast iron.  I purchased a 5 quart Dutch Oven at the Lodge Factory Store in the “Discontinued” section.  If you look at the website you will find they no longer sell the 5 quart unit.  The 4-1/2 quart sells for $91.95 and the 6 quart sells for $104.95.  I picked up the 5 quart dutch oven for $69.95.

I see on Google that Lodge Enamel Cast Iron is sold at Target if you can’t get to South Pittsburg, Tennessee.


Front load washing machines and the detergent drawer.

Yes, indeed, two posts in one day.  Can’t believe it myself.

Do you have a front load washing machine?

Sorry for the really bad photo here.  The sun was making its way into my laundry room.

Front load washing machine

The detergent dispenser drawer, located at the top left on my machine, comes out for easy cleaning.  Check your dispenser to see where there might be a snap clip that keeps the drawer in.

Inside my drawer

The bit on the left way to the back is the clip that keeps the drawer in.  This is a small space and just a tad bit difficult to get my fingers in.  Once you find the correct area to press, and I do mean PRESS, the drawer will slide out with a little bit of a firm pull.

Get in there and press down

Press down on the lever

Pull the drawer out.

Pull the drawer out

The above photos were taken AFTER I cleaned the drawer.  This is what it really looked like.

Fabric softener had dried up and clogged the drawer.  This made it difficult for the softener to be dispensed in the wash load.  YUCK!

Dried up fabric softener

Waxy nasty mess

The bleach and fabric softener cups remove easily for cleaning.

Dispenser cups can be removed

Put the drawer bins back in place and put it all back in your washing machine.  Voila.  Good as new.

When I am finished washing I leave the dispenser drawer out and the machine door open.  This allows the air to move around and dry out the inside of my machine.  There are products you can buy that will eliminate the mildew smell that stinks up the joint and your clean clothes.  I avoid that by leaving the doors open.  Besides, since I’m gone for a month or more at a time the mildew smell would permeate the entire house.

A cheap trick you can do if you don’t want to leave the doors open – kids that think the machine is a good hiding place or cats that like the “cave”.  After you have finished your final load of laundry pour ONE CUP of vinegar into the soap dispenser part of the tray and run the empty washer for an entire cycle.  This will allow the vinegar to do its job at sanitizing the machine and eliminating the mildew.  You might have to do this a couple times if you have a really bad build up of stink in your machine.  Vinegar is cheap and it is “Environmentally Friendly”.

Hope this has helped anyone.

Leslie

 


Creamy hot tomato soup on a cold day.

We have spent the past two weeks in the northern mid west of the US and it has been cold, very windy, and plain miserable.  I was looking forward to getting down south and back home to warmer temperatures…..it is still cold and windy.

Where we have been the past two weeks

Twenty six hundred miles of snow flurries, bitter cold winds, freezing temperatures, and my one and only wish was to get some place WARM!

Places we've been

Joe’s cold weather comfort food is creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Tomato soup gives me heartburn and is far from comforting to me.  He requested his favorite and I asked if I could make it fresh instead of using the canned variety.  “You know how?” is what Joe asked with a bit of trepidation in his voice.  “There has to be a recipe somewhere for it” was my answer.

I did find one on the internet.  Ina Garten’s recipe is what I used as a starting point.  A couple of the ingredients I didn’t have on hand – and was not about to go out in the cold to the grocery store – so I had to improvise.  I don’t have chicken broth and I don’t have fresh basil.  We made a quick stop to the grocery store before we got home a couple days ago for the main ingredients so I did have fresh tomatoes on hand.

My stock pot is a bit big for this preparation but it works.

A soup or stock pot

Since I don’t have chicken broth I thought I would flavor the soup with a bit of bacon.  I cooked three slices (rashers) of bacon to render and use the fat.

Render the bacon and use the grease

If you don’t eat meat this part can be skipped entirely and use olive oil or a good vegetable oil.

Ina Garten’s recipe does not include celery.  When I make spaghetti sauce I start with the “Holy Trinity” of cooking (why it is called that I have no idea) which is onion, celery, and carrot.

One medium onion roughly chopped, one rib of celery chopped into 1/4″ pieces, one carrot chopped into 1/4″ pieces.

Chopped onion, celery, and carrot

Dump this all into the stock pot and stir around in the oil of your choice.  Let cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.  Until the carrots are cooked fork tender.

Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the stock pot

Cook until fork tender

While the onions, carrot, and celery are cooking wash and remove the stems and stickers from the tomatoes then give them a rough chop.  Set aside in a bowl until it is time to add them to the pot.  Next is to chop up the garlic cloves – three of them.  The garlic will go in with the tomatoes.  Don’t want to burn them while cooking with the onions.  Burned garlic is bitter and not very tasty.

Wash and clean the tomatoes

Chop the tomatoes and set aside

Chop up garlic to be added with the tomatoes

Last year I showed you how to freeze tomato paste using Cling Wrap.  I will need to have 1 Tablespoon of the tomato paste for this recipe.  Just cut away the amount you will need and put back in the freezer.

Frozen tomato pasteWhen the onion, celery, and carrot are cooked until the carrots are fork tender….

Cook until fork tender

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and garlic to the stock pot.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, and tomato paste to the stock pot

Ina Garten’s recipe calls for FRESH basil.  I don’t have any….but I do have dried.  The fresh amount is one quarter cup so I used two tablespoons of dried.  Turned out to be just a bit too much so next time I will do one and a half tablespoons.  Add the salt and pepper also.

Add basil, salt, and pepper

Also, before I forget this is when you add the chicken broth (3 Cups).  I just added tap water instead.  Give the pot a good stir to incorporate all the herbs and spices and the tomatoes.  Get these additions to begin boiling then turn down the heat to medium low and simmer for 35 minutes.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 35 minutes

Now about this time you will be thinking “This doesn’t look like a “Creamy” soup”.  There is some work that needs to be done first.  The recipe calls for a Food Mill and I don’t own one.

Food Mill

I do, however, have an Immersion Blender my wonderful husband bought me for Christmas several years ago.  An Immersion Blender is a stick like appliance with a SHARP blade that whirs around.

Immersion Blender

This is the “Business End” of the blender.  See the sharp blade?  The “cup” part allows the tool to rest on the bottom of your pot leaving the blade to freely spin.  The holes in the sides of the cup suck in the pot contents to be blended and forces the chopped up stuff back out from below the blade.

Immersion Blender blade

Put the Immersion Blender into the pot, don’t worry about getting shocked.  I’m a total scaredy cat when it comes to electricity and the possibility of electrocution.  This tool was made specifically for this purpose.

Put the blender in the pot

Refrain from tipping the blender while the blades are whirring around.  You will get splashed with the hot liquid and your stove top will have colorful splotches of red.  Trust me.  Leave the blender to work with the cup part always touching the bottom of the pot.

This is what your soup will look like after the Immersion Blender has don’t its work.

Blended soup

I have a large sieve, or strainer, that I have suspended atop one of my old favorite stock pots.  Sadly it has too many chips and cracks in the enamel coating so I don’t use it for much anymore.

Place a sieve or strainer over a pot or large bowl

Pour some of the tomato soup from the stock pot into the sieve.  The liquid will separate from the solids and that is what you want to happen.

Pour, or ladel, soup into sieve

Smoosh around the contents of the sieve working the liquid out of the stuff.

Work the soup in the sieve getting the liquid out

When you don’t see the liquid coming out in a thin stream nor hear it dripping into the pot, or bowl, below then it is time to dump the solids from the sieve and add more soup from the stock pot.  Keep doing this until you have strained all the soup solids and have only liquid.

Work the soup until no more drips

Then toss the solids.

Toss the solids

Return the, now strained, soup to the stock pot and add the heavy cream.  Cook until the cream is heated through and then it is ready to eat.

Add cream and heat through

I have a little trick that I use to keep our soup cups from sliding around on the plates as we walk to the living room to eat.  We don’t eat at the table…..kind of a piled up mess.

Homedmade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich

Using a standard paper towel.  Someone else probably came up with this years ago but I thought I was so smart when I thought of it in about 2001.

Standard paper towel

Fold the paper towel in half, then in half again to have the quarter square.  You could, possibly, use half of the one paper towel for two bowls or cups and not waste so much.

Folded in half, then half again

Wet the entire paper towel under running water.

Get it wet

Squeeze out the water.  You don’t want to have a puddle of water infiltrating your crispy sandwich 😉

Wring the water out

Carefully open the blob of a towel and place it on your plate.

Carefully open the blob

Set your cup or bowl onto the damp paper towel and it will keep it right where you put it.  No more slipping around and you having to play catch with hot liquids.

Place under the soup cup or bowl

I am making my way through all the emails I have accumulated over the past couple of months.  Spending a lot of my time watching YouTube videos and reading blogs.  I am slowly recovering from the melancholy that had me gripped and will be back to my old self soon.

Leslie


Log books and Drive-Away

I’ve been thinking about the best way to explain the complicated business of Log Books in the trucking industry over the past several days.

The DOT Regulation regarding log books is called HOS or Hours Of Service. The purpose of the regulation is to stop, or cut down on, Driver Fatigue. The regulation is two-pronged. It is meant to keep the trucking companies from forcing their drivers to work beyond their physical limits AND to keep drivers from doing the same.

When I was first introduced to the world of truck driving there were log book regulations in place. This was back in 1973 and the regulations were skirted around all the time. Drugs to keep drivers awake for three to five days at a time were sold at truck stops. All a driver had to do was get on the CB (Citizen’s Band) radio at a truck stop and ask “Anyone heading to LA”? Or another question was “What is the “Speed Limit”? The dealer of these drugs would answer back “Come on over to the “Blue Peterbilt” or whatever color and type of truck he drove. Further instructions of where the truck was parked in the lot were given. Sometimes, if a user had a network of dealers in truck stops, all was needed was to get on the CB and call out the “Handle” of the dealer. The driver would say something like “Break 1-9 is that White Unicorn out there tonight?” If the person with the handle of White Unicorn was within 2 miles they would answer with their location and then the driver would go and make the deal.

The drugs had colorful names. Black Beauties, LA Turn-Arounds, Yellow Jackets, and Speed.

I didn’t get involved in the drugs nor their transactions. I learned about the process from my children’s father. Won’t give him the distinction of husband.

Drug use to stay awake was common back in the early 70’s. Trucking companies turned a blind eye to this practice because the loads were being delivered. Drug testing by urine sampling was, as yet, unheard of and didn’t become common practice until the late 1990’s.

Federal agencies worked to rein in the trucking industry because of the mounting accidents with fatalities due to driver fatigue of non drug users and the accidents caused by the drug using drivers that were coming down from the drugs and fell asleep at the wheel.

One time I was riding with my children’s father when he stopped in the middle of US 287 near Dalhart, Texas one dark night. He swore there were little green men on the ground in front of his truck keeping him from going further. He even got out of the truck and swung his fists at the little invisible guys. I thought he lost his mind.

Log books, at that time, were required by the driver to show an 8 hour break in a 24 hour period. The 8 hours could be split by two 4 hour rest stops. All fuel and meal breaks had to be shown on the logs within the 16 hour driving day.

The regulations have tightened up and have a lot of people squawking. The shippers grumble at the delays to get their products to stores, trucking companies grumble because the estimated times of drivers arriving for pick up or delivery have lengthened, the drivers grumble because they don’t make as much money since they are paid by the miles driven and the logging rules mean less time on the road.

The current ruling states a driver MUST have a 10 hour break in every 24 hour period with 34 hours of additional time off duty for every 7 or 8 days.

There is a “7/60” rule which means a driver can drive 60 hours in 7 days. There is an “8/70” rule which means a driver can drive 70 hours in 8 days. Both rules require a 34 hour break in 7 or 8 days. Meaning a driver has to show that time “Off Duty”.

Drive-Away is governed by the 8/70 rule. Stick with me here. This is where you can get lost.

I’ll show you one of my log sheets

20130317-175123.jpg

My driving day started at 8 in the morning at Columbia, South Carolina. Before I left the lot I had to make a mental note that 6 pm would be my “10 Hour” day. If necessary, I could take one extra hour but no more than 11 hours of driving in one day. The absolute ON DUTY limit would be 14 hours with a mandatory 10 hour OFF DUTY break. This was the day I drove the box truck.

10 a.m. I stopped in Clinton, South Carolina to purchase fuel then get back on the road by 10:15. We stopped in Dandridge, Tennessee at 1:30 p.m. for lunch at Captain’s Galley – a favorite stop for us – and left at 2:30 p.m. Corbin, Kentucky was my next stop for fuel at 4:30 to 4:45. This left me with 1-1/4 hour of driving remaining to my day. Hotels were sold out around Georgetown, Kentucky where my 6 p.m. “curfew” would be. A room was located in Williamstown a little further up the road and still in the legal limit of my day.

My next day was a long and fractured day. Delivering the box truck then messing around with trucks at two different locations, trucks not ready at the second location, and time spent in the hook up process. Each bit of my time had to be shown for the day.

20130317-183538.jpg

One question I see, and hear, is about the time spent in our personal vehicles driving (deadheading) from the delivery point to the next pick up point.

Searching the Internet for DOT Regulations on logging for Drive-Away I can’t find the regulation.

This is the “Gray Area” in the rulings. While a Drive-Away driver is in any vehicle they are being paid to drive, he/she MUST log their time. When the vehicle is delivered and the driver is in transit to the next pick up location the driver can show this time as OFF DUTY.

A “Class 8” vehicle is a tandem axle or single axle truck that weighs GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of MORE THAN 33,000 pounds. A “Class 7” vehicle is one that weights 26,001 to 33,000pounds.

A “Class 6” vehicle has a GVWR range of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds. Examples of this truck would be a GMC Top Kick C-6500 and the Ford F-650.

A “Class 5” GVWR vehicle is 16,001 to 19,500. Examples would be Dodge Ram 5500 and the Ford F-550.

Medium Duty is a “Class 4” with a GVWR range from 14,001 to 16,000 pounds. Examples include the Ford F-450 and Dodge Ram 4500.

Light Duty is a “Class 3” with a GVWR range of 10,001 to 14,000. Examples include Dodge Ram 3500 and Ford F-350. The H1 Hummer is also an example of a Class 3 truck which has a GVWR of 10,300 pounds.

“Class 2” vehicles have a GVWR rating of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds. Examples include Dodge Ram 1500 and a Ford F-150.

“Class 1″ vehicle with a GVWR rating of 0 to 6,000 pounds include the Toyota Tacoma, Dodge Dakota, and the GMC Canyon.

The sticky part of the HOS (Hours of Service” ruling for Drive-Away drivers in their personal vehicles is so ambiguous and sporadically enforced. The Port of Entry or Weigh Station Masters are usually the ones to enforce the ruling that ALL driving by a Drive-Away driver is logged. Even so far as the driving to their personal homes must be logged.

You, as a Drive-Away driver, take your chances at being ticketed with a “Log Book Violation” and fined $150 to $1,000. This all depends on how much you run your mouth and piss the person off. Then again, you might be on the bad end of the stick because of a previous truck driver that pushed the buttons. Some Weigh Masters tell you to get a log page started right there in front of him/her then let you go.

The proper logging of your vehicle time is ON DUTY NOT DRIVING.
Except when it isn’t?! Go figure.

Okay! Now that you are thoroughly confused I


IFTA and Drive-Away

Do you ever wonder where the millions of dollars come from to pay for all the road construction? Widening of your city streets, new interchanges on your highways, and fixing the older bridges on your county and state roads?

Every gallon of gas or diesel you purchase for your personal cars and trucks has a per gallon tax attached to the price at the pump. Your purchases are mostly local with a few from out of state trips or family vacations. The tax revenue from your gas or diesel goes to the state you reside in. The purchases out of state are revenue for that state.

According to Google, the Oklahoma City Metro area has a population of 1,322,429. For this example I’ll use 1 million cars with 20 gallon gas tanks. Generally, local vehicles fill up once a week. If the tax is $.02 per gallon the tax revenue for one car would be $.40. Doesn’t seem like much. If all 1 million cars purchased 20 gallons of gas in one day that tax revenue would amount to $400,000.

Big trucks, generally, have two fuel tanks (one on each side of the truck) with fuel capacities of 100, 120, and 150 gallons per tank. To fully fill up it would take 200 to 300 gallons of diesel.

If 8,000 trucks, with 100 gallon tanks (200 total) stopped at the truck stops in the Oklahoma City Metro area in one day the tax revenue would amount to $32,000. For that day.

The problem with big trucks and state tax revenue from fuel purchase is, for the most part, out of state trucks passing through your fair city.

This is where the IFTA, or Interstate Fuel Tax Authority, comes in. Each state, outside Oklahoma in the above example, one truck travels through those states get a portion of the fuel taxes paid in Oklahoma.

For Drive-Away, as well as all other trucking companies, the driver of the truck has to fill out an IRP form

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The driver is required to have the beginning mileage in a state and the ending mileage when they cross over into the next state. This report shows the total miles traveled through each state.

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Fuel purchases are noted on the form as well. The gallons purchased, the state, and the total purchase price.

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All trucking companies, whether they have one truck or thousands of trucks, have to keep track of the fuel purchases. A quarterly tax report is submitted, along with the tax funds, to a government agency which distributes the tax dollars collected to the appropriate states.

This is a simplified example of the IFTA Regulations. If you would like to learn more about it you can start here.