Peg asked about temperature controllers. They’re very simple gadgets (think aquarium water heater) that flip a switch when the temperature reaches a certain setting. This enables me to plug my frying pan into the temperature controller, stick the probe into the water, set the temperature to whatever I like, and forget about it. No hovering over the dyepots. Wonderful tool, I only wish I could use it for large dyebaths, but I can’t plug my stove into it!
Here’s an example of the type I’m using. But you can also search eBay for “digital temperature controller” or just “temperature controller” and come up with dozens of them. The key is to find one that you can just plug into. A lot of the units require manual wiring – mine did actually and Mike wired it up for me. I believe there’s a fellow on eBay who makes a plug-and-play version.
I originally bought mine for use with (what else?) chocolate. Back in my impetuous youth (as opposed to my impetuous coming-up-on-middle age), I decided I was going to do chocolatiering “by the book”, which among other things involved holding the chocolates at 55 degrees for 2 days. I didn’t have a refrigerator that would do it – they mostly operate right around 32-40 degrees – so, with help from a technically knowledgeable friend, I built my own refrigerator.
Cool gadget, really: I took a 4×8 piece of foam insulation from Home Depot, cut it up, and rearranged it into a hinged box. I cut two holes in the box at one end, stuck a loop of metallic dryer duct into the holes, and plunged the loop into a big tub of ice. Mounted the temperature controller with the probe inside the box, and plugged two mini fans (meant for cooling desktop computers) into the temperature controller. When the temperature got too high, the controller switched the fans on, blowing air through the dryer duct in the tub of ice. The cold air cooled the box. Worked a treat.
Since then I have gotten less extreme in my chocolatiering techniques (also I think Mike would have something to say if I built a giant refrigeration box in the living room) but I still remember it as a cool gadget.