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Stand By Your Pan

Posted on July 15th, 2021

Dave!Cookware is one of those things that I never gave a thought about. I inherited some copper-bottom RevereWare along with some cheap Teflon crap that my mom had, and I used that for years and years. Sure Teflon can kill you now (or something bad, I dunno) but who wants to live forever? Eventually I started getting into cooking and made the decision in February of 2020 to get new cookware. It's nothing fancy, but it's much nicer than what I was using... a 12-piece hard anodized set... and has really held up well. It still looks new.

Despite it all, I still kept some of my mom's old crap.

Whether out of being overly-sentimental and wanting to cling to what was left of her, or the fact that I'm a hoarder who just can't throw crap away, I kept two RevereWare pots and a beat-up old skillet that was scraped and warped and flaking Teflon.

I still use them from time to time... mostly when I'm cooking tons of stuff and run out of clean pots and pans.

Until tonight when I finally tossed out that shitty, poisonous, old Teflon skillet.

There I was scrubbing it in the sink when a nice big piece of Teflon came off. That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me, and I decided enough was enough. I have cats who are depending on me, and I don't need to end up dead from a pan I didn't want to let go of.

Plus... one less thing to clean in the future.

Though I did finish cleaning it that one last time before tossing it in the garbage. Stand by your pan, and all that. It's provided 30-35 years of faithful service and earned the right to be retired with dignity.

Well, as dignified as being tossed in the trash can be, I guess.

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You have to taste it…

Posted on April 2nd, 2021

Dave!Most of what I learned about cooking came from my grandmothers. I loved cooking and loved food, and they were happy to help me learn how to do it well.

I remember once when my grandmother was teaching me how to make her famous, award-winning apple pie, I had just help to slice the apples and was ready to make the filling when I asked her how much sugar and cinnamon and lemon juice to add. "Well you have to taste the apples." If they were tart, less lemon juice. If they were sweet, less sugar. If they were fragrant, less cinnamon. And so on. It was a balance that you could only figure out if you knew what you were working with.

And it was the same for the potato salad. "You have to taste the onion to know how to season it." And it's been my habit to do so ever since. Today I was finally recovered enough to make some, and thank heavens I tasted the onion before mixing everything. It was RANK. The taste was putrid and gross. No idea what happened, but it bummed me out because I had just bought it on Friday. Thankfully I had the whites of a green onion to use instead, so everything turned out fantastic...

Me holding a bowl of perfect potato salad.

Dang I make good potato salad.

I keep experimenting every time I cook up a batch and I am discovering new spice combinations to make it a different kind of tasty. This time I used some baharat seasoning, which added an entirely new dimension to such a simple food. Last time I used adobo, and that was amazing too. Before that I think I used a Ukrainian blend that was mind-blowing. I think the reason I eat so much potato salad is because it's never the same flavor twice for me. If it weren't so loaded with carbs, I swear I could eat it every day.

Today is Good Friday.

Which has puzzled me since I was a young Catholic because you'd think that crucifying Jesus would be a bad thing. But apparently it used to be "Holy Friday" and words change over time. All things "holy" were equated to being "good" and so forth.

Though I'm guessing all the people slaughtered during the "Holy Crusades" would beg to differ?

I am a long, long ways from the Catholic I was raised, so I'm probably not the right person to ask. Though it's my guess that the people who got slaughtered during the Roman Catholic crusades were likely not happy about it. Though I could be wrong. Maybe the level of big dick energy it took for a pope to send out an army whose sole purpose was to slaughter heratics was so impressive that they were happy to die underfoot of it. Stranger things have happened.

Like the day that Jesus was crucified being referred to as "Good Friday," regardless of how it came about.

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Mashed After February

Posted on March 1st, 2021

Dave!I know that there are people out there who adore February. Maybe it's their birth month. Maybe their wedding anniversary is in February. Maybe they started their dream job in the second month of the year. Heck, Valentine's Day is in February, so I get it. Honestly I do.

But February means something entirely different to me.

And it's not even like Valentine's Day can save it because I'm not in a relationship. And, at this point, don't want to be in a relationship.

Consistently, without fail, all the worst things in my life seem to land within those 28 days. Or, if it's a Leap Year like 2020, 29 days. Heck, February 2020 is where things started going all wrong, am I right? My life of travel for volunteer work ended. The pandemic was blowing up globally. And, just a reminder here, the first death in the USA due to COVID-19 happened on February 29th, 2020.

I do try to make February a better month though.

I moved into my new home on Groundhog Day February 2nd five years ago. Then I also got my adorable kittens Jake and Jenny on February 16th. Two of the best things to ever happen to me. So that's awesome, right? Way to go, February 2016!

Except not really. My mom had to be rushed in for an MRI on the 12th of that same year. She then dropped several plateaus in her health and ended up back in the hospital on, you guessed it, Leap Day February 29th, 2016. It was the beginning of the end and it's all February.

So many deaths, tragedies, disappointments, and setbacks in my life end up in February that now I just brace myself whenever I turn the page on my calendar. At this point it's pretty much self-fulfilling prophecy, but the psychological analytics are tough to parse when I've been conditioned to expect only the worse... from having the worst actually happen to me.

This February was just a continuation of the pandemic horror show, so I didn't need to have anything new and terrible happen, but of course it did. Got my first blog death threat in a while (somebody late to the party over my posting a photo of two men dancing together back in December). Went through a horrific personal ordeal with somebody I thought cared about me. And, of course, had the usual reminders of all my friends and family that died in the worst month of the year.

Fortunately February was only 28 days this time, because Lord only know what new terrors awaited me if today was February 29th instead of March 1st.

I've been ready for March all month. I've been ready for Spring and the promise of something new. I've been waiting for Coming 2 America and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. I've also been waiting to get vaccinated... but apparently my group's date has been moved again. I've also been waiting for my potato masher to arrive... AND HERE IT IS!

My new heavy-duty potato masher with a bright red protective silicone sleeve on it.

I've never had one before, but I keep running into recipes where they say "mash to a creamy consistency with a potato masher or fork"... usually for black beans or chickpeas. I've always just used a fork, which is a lot of effort. A potato masher looked like it would be even more effort since a fork had tines that were close together for more efficient mashing, so I never bothered. Then I had a friend laugh at me when I mentioned this, and said I really need to buy one. "And make sure it's dishwasher safe and can be used on non-stick pans!" And that's what I ended up ordering.

Holy crap.

It is no small difference. It's a monumental difference. I can mash up a can of chickpeas with minimal effort in a fraction of the time! I can't believe I've been suffering with a stupid fork all this time!

Kinda makes me wonder what other kitchen gadgets I've been avoiding as "superfluous and unnecessary" that are actually critical and brilliant. Thanks, March!

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Kitchen Sentimentality on Fire

Posted on February 22nd, 2021

Dave!I don't have many of my mom's possessions left. The only thing I really want are the photos from our trips together, and everything else is just... stuff. The majority of her things were donated, given away, or trashed (if they couldn't be donated or given away). I held onto a few things which had sentimental meaning to me, but it's not much else because I'm not a very sentimental person.

A few things I held onto simply because they were useable and it would be wasteful to toss them. Mostly stuff from the kitchen. Some pots, pans, bowls, utensils, and pot holders were saved. One of those potholders was a Bialosky Bear "100% Loyal and True" brand that my mom didn't use for decades, instead hanging it up in her kitchen. Then the last time she moved she wasn't interested in hanging it for some reason and started actualy using it. And since it was in great shape, I started using it too.

This past week I was moving a skillet off of a burner when it sloshed on the potholder, causing me to drop it on the hot-hot burner. The thing was scorched instantly...

Holding my mom's Teddy bear potholder all scorched and burnt.>

I don't know if it's because it finally dawned on me that this was yet another reminder that my mom was gone... or that all the pieces of her left on this earth are disappearing... or what... but it was pretty upsetting. So upsetting that I went hunting for a replacement on eBay, but couldn't find one since it was made in the early 1980's.

So stupid. Had I thought about the possibility of this happening before I started using it and how it might affect me, I could have saved it. Oh well. Not much I can do about it now.

It did mean my having to buy new potholders. This time I went for fancy silicone things that can withstand absurdly hot temperatures up to 600°F!

My two new silicone potholders all pretty and red.>

No worries about staining them, I think. Just toss them in the dishwasher after you're done cooking. Nice. But not the same.

Since I had to order potholders, I went ahead and addressed another thing that's been driving me insane in my kitchen... the fact that the boxes that Reynolds uses for their foils and parchment are COMPLETE AND TOTAL SHIT and fall apart minutes after opening them...

A Reynolds Wrap parchment box completely blown apart.>

And it happens to their signature foil as well! Rage-inducing. In fact, it was so rage-inducing that the next time I went to the grocery store needing foil I ended up buying a different brand entirely in the hopes that they didn't have boxes which fell apart. And, while I was at it, I could buy the Safeway Signature Select brand and save some money too! It compares to Reynolds foil, because it says so right on the box...

A Signature Select box of foil saying Compares to Reynolds.>

Except... no. It really doesn't.

This "foil" it super-thin, really hard to get ahold of in the box, and it doesn't crumple and conform like Reynolds foil... almost like it has plastic in it or something. It's fucking awful, and in absolutely no way "compares to Reynolds." But on the plus side, the box is built like a damn tank and doesn't look like it's going to fall apart any time soon. Which begs the question... why the fuck can't Reynolds built boxes that are worth a shit if they charge so much more money for their stuff? If a cheap-ass imitation can build a decent box, why can't they?

This lead me to try a more rugged dispenser/cutter that arrived on Friday so I could buy Reynolds stuff, take it out of their shitty boxes, and put it into something that will actually (assumably) stay together...

A plastic wrap dispenser with parchment inside of it.>

It's kinda meh. I mean, it works, but it's got some problems. First of all, it relies on your wrap/foil/parchment being wound onto a big cardboard tube. You then stick pieces in the tube on both ends which sit in the dispenser. Except since parchment isn't on a tube and it wound down to a small coil, you can't fit the pieces into it. This makes it more difficult to control the cutting, which is a little frustrating while you're getting used to it. I can manage now, but it's still not ideal. What's really a problem is that it's not a square box which can be stacked. I stack up my wrap/foil/parchment up in my pantry, but this has to go in a drawer somewhere.

So I'm not sure what the solution is. I guess once I get my wood shop set up in my garage I can try building something that goes around the shitty Reynolds boxes to make them tougher?

Food for thought, anyways.

Food which can be cooked up to 600°F thanks to my spiffy new potholders.

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Bullet Sunday 698

Posted on January 24th, 2021

Dave!A new era may be dawning, but some things will never change... because an all new Q&A Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
Does the stair shelf you built for your cats work?
Yep! No falls since I installed it! Jenny has never been a banister girl, so she just walks along it on occasion. But Jake still lays up there all the time. Especially in the Summer when the sun shines on it. Since the catwalk I built adds a couple inches to the width, he's a lot more comfortable laying on it, and like to prop his head on the ledge to watch me and Jenny on the stairs. This, along with the catio, are two of the best things I've made to keep my cats safe and healthy.

Jake laying on the banister ledge I built for him.

Jake looking at me from the ledge as he lays there looking lazy... my Marvel movie posters are on the walls.

Jake looking down at me from the ledge as I go down the stairs.

   
Which meal service do you like best?
Are you talking between Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon and "Hello Fresh," the two I am currently using? That's actually a very good question! Both of them allow you to skip weeks (which I do often because they are expensive) so when I do order, I have been bouncing back and forth. Comparing them in a face-off is actually a good idea for a post. I'll do that sometime in the coming week!

   
Japanese knives RUST... they are NOT stainless steel!
Yes. When I reading up on knives, this was brought up many, many times. I made my purchase with my eyes wide open. I expected for rust to appear. But it was still the best knife for what I would be cooking, and I just made a mental note to be sure and wash the blade after every use. And I've never seen rust. Until one day I did! I went into a Google panic, found out the easiest way to deal with it was a Rust Eraser, ordered one, and then found out it wasn't actually rust before the eraser ever arrived. It was a piece of food that I didn't get wiped off and only looked like rust. Since I first got it a year ago, I've never seen a speck of rust and my Rust Eraser hasn't even been taken out of the wrapper. My MAC Chef's Knife and Bread Knife are from their "Professional" series which is "rust resistant" but will still rust if you don't wash and dry them immediately after use. I also have some "Original" series knives which are supposed to rust more easily but, as I said, I've never seen any rust on them because I keep them clean and dry.

Rust Eraser still in the wrapper.

   
Are you still playing Animal Crossing?
Sadly, no. I haven't had time. And I'm scared to look and see how many weeds I'll have to pull in order to get my island back. It's a great game and helped a lot when we were first under quarantine, but I was spending 2+ hours a day playing it and had stop because there were other things I need to do with my time. Might pick it back up one day and just force a time limit so it's not consuming me like it was. Now I've got TikTok for that!

   
Where's your Bernie meme?
Ummm... right here!

Bernie Sanders sitting in a folding chair with a mask and gloves in my living room while my cats Jake and Jenny are sitting nearby.

My house is kept fairly cool in the winter in order to save on heating costs, so Bernie judging me for the temperature... along with Jenny (and Jake, who has clearly turned his back on me)... seems appropriate.

   
Are you finally happy now that Biden is president?
No. No I am not. As I have said quite a few times now, Biden was never my guy so I'm not "finally happy" that he's president. I am, however, elated that Trump is no longer president. So there's a big difference there. I won't be truly "happy" until all the career politicians and other assholes who exploit their office for personal gain at the expense of the American people are out of office. I will also be happy once all the pieces of shit who have so severely divided this country are out of office. Alas, what this would take is the American people WAKING THE FUCK UP and realizing that they are being majorly played. But that takes thinking for themselves, and we all know that this is not something we seem to be very good at right now. So... here we are.

   
Where's the first place you'll go once you can travel again?
Well, odds are I won't be traveling for work or for volunteering again... at least not any time soon... so it will likely be a personal trip. My guess is it will be one I've been planning for over a year with friends to Maui. We have unfinished business there that we need to take care of. Otherwise? Not entirely sure. It will take a while for the world to get back to normal and I have no idea where my life will be by then.

   
And that's the last of my answers to questions I've been asked.

   

Zesty and Un-Grateful

Posted on January 15th, 2021

Dave!And so now I know what it's like to be wealthy!

I had a coupon for trying out the HelloFresh meal service. And, since their vegetarian options no longer seem to revolve exclusively around mushrooms (which I can't eat) and cauliflower or broccoli (which I won't eat), I took them up on their introductory offer. I signed up, selected vegetarian meals that sounded good, and got excited over trying something new.

My first box was due to arrive next week. For whatever reason, they screwed up and sent it this week. Which wouldn't have bothered me, except they sent meat dishes. I contacted them to explain the problem, they immediately credited me the cost, then told me to dispose of the carnivorous meals as I wished. So I gave all the meat to a neighbor and decided to try to refashion the recipes to be vegetarian with the ingredients which were left over.

The reason I now know what it's like to be wealthy is that my box from Martha and Marley Spoon also arrived this week, which means I had six complete meals in my refrigerator ready to be cooked for dinner with leftovers for the following day's lunch. SCORE! I could never afford to do this on a regular basis, but boy is it awesome knowing that I don't have to think about what to cook or worry about going to the grocery store.

The first meal I wanted to try was "Bulgogi Lime Pork Tenderloin"... without the tenderloin.

It was essentially sweet potato and pepper dices sauteed with scallions, garlic, and Bulgogi sauce mixed with lime. Not much of a meal without the pork, but if I cook some hard rolls with cheese to pair with it, I thought it might be nice.

One of the first things you have to do is zest the lime. "Zesting" is not a new concept for me because Martha Stewart wants you to do it all the time in her recipes... it's just that I've never understood how to do it. When I searched on YouTube I saw that people "zested" by using what looked like a teeny-tiny cheese grater. Something I didn't have.

Except I thought that I did, because when you look inside the handle of my box grater, there looks like what appears to be a small grater. Alas, any time I attempted to use it for zesting, all it did was gum up with lime peel and I never actually got any tiny grated anything out of it. Wanting to know what I was doing wrong, I Facetimed a friend who works in a kitchen restaurant and asked her by holding it up to the camera and asking her how to use it.

The first thing she said was "Well, first thing you have to do is remove it so that the peel doesn't end up in the handle." It was charming that she thought me that dense, but I explained to her that it doesn't come out easily. In order to get it out, I had to use two pair of pliers and nearly busted the thing.

"Wait. Let me look at that again... move it close so I can see."
"I have no idea what that is, but it's not a zester!"
"See how there's no grates? It just looks like pokey spikes!"
"Maybe it's supposed to be a masher or tenderizer of some kind?"
"Yeah, you need to go buy an actual zester. Sorry."

And so I did. And it arrived today. I got one by Oxo Good Grips, which makes my favorite kitchen utensils and gadgets. It was expensive... $12 compared to others costing less than half that... but I knew it would probably be safer, smarter, and last longer, so I invested the money...

My new zester with a zested lime.

Martha Stewart would be so proud.

And so now I can finally zest a lime or a lemon and make all those recipes correctly that call for zesting a lime or a lemon.

Pretty grate, huh? (HA HA HA HA HAAAA! I slay me!)

So wish me luck with my first zesting experience. I'll let you know if I end up with my fingertips missing.

   

MSG Me, Please!

Posted on October 5th, 2020

Dave!For the longest time I believed everything you've likely heard about MSG. Causing headaches... being unhealthy... made of chemicals... blah blah blah... MSG is bad.

Except...

It's all (mostly) bullshit. MSG is none of those things. MSG is fucking great. And I've been cooking with it ever since I saw a video back in 2018 explaining how the backlash against it took hold in the USA. Turns out the bias against MSG was actually just anti-Asian xenophobic stigma. Something you might have guessed when the media dubbed it "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome."

Typical.

MSG is used in a bunch of foods we eat all the time... especially canned foods, snack foods, and fast foods... but since those are American foods, nobody seems to be getting "Campbell's Soup headaches" or "Doritos headaches" or "KFC headaches." MSG is also naturally occurring in foods like cheese. But you also don't hear about people getting a "mozzarella headache" either. And since it's manufactured by fermenting sugars, the process is no different than making vinegar, but somehow vinegar is okay to use and MSG is not?

Lord people are stupid. But that's racism for you.

I use MSG in everything from pizza sauce to potato salad. It just adds a little something extra to my cooking. A little more depth and body to the experience.

So if you've bought into the racist, xenophobic, and overall idiotic hype on the "dangers" of MSG as I once did... then you're missing out. Or you may be missing out. Some people (like me) think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Other people can't taste much of a difference (oh how I pity you). The most "balanced" look at MSG I could find is this...

MSG is pretty darn cheap. So there's not much to lose by giving it a try. EXCEPT PHENOMENAL FLAVOR!

And that original video which got me hooked on MSG in the first place is here...

Yara Elmjouie (from the Eat This with Yara video above) has some interesting takes on cuisine on his channel over at AJ+ (Al Jazeera Plus). If you're an open-minded foodie who can handle your cooking videos having a political slant, it's worth a look.

And, on that note, looks like it's time to start making dinner... probably with MSG added.

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Hydrangeas by Morning, Pasta by Night

Posted on July 7th, 2020

Dave!This was starting out to be yet another killer day at work so I decided to get up early. This way I had a minute for breakfast, which allows me to work on perfecting the perfect egg and cheese biscuit sandwich.

So I got up... I fed the cats... then I went to grab a pan to fry up some eggs... and... whoops. All my pots and pans were dirty. And I just didn't feel like washing them by hand, which you have to do because they don't recommend the dishwasher since it ruins the coating. It's not even like it's that hard. My pots and pans are totally easy to clean because nothing sticks... it's just having to stand at the sink and turn on water and squirt the soap and scrub with a brush and dry them off and put them away... no individual task is tough or takes long, but when taken all together it seems like a lot in the morning when I'm trying to get out of the house.

So instead I went out back to take a look at my hydrangeas.

These things are amazing because after having been chopped to the ground in the Fall, they don't seem to do anything when all my other flowers are starting to sprout in the Spring. Then... in what seems like a few days... they explode with growth. Seriously, it's several inches a day, and then the flowers magically appear out of nowhere. Last night I noted that they were all in full bloom...

My pretty, fluffy, flowery, white hydrangeas in full bloom.

My pretty, fluffy, flowery, white hydrangeas in full bloom.

Madonna famously loathes hydrangeas, but I think they're pretty. They certainly take up a lot of space... and they don't stink, which is nice. I'm happy to just let them keep growing year after year since it doesn't require any effort by me (except to chop them down again in October).

When I got home I really wanted some creamy walnut sauce on pasta.

But I was so tired after 12 hours working that, once again, I had very little motivation to scrub my pots and pans. And since every last one of them was dirty, I figured I'd just take a pass.

But then I couldn't bring myself to eat another peanut butter sandwich like I did last night, so I spent the 15 minutes it took to clear my sink and start cooking for 25 minutes.

Totally worth it...

A beautiful plate of walnut cream sauce on pasta.

Delicious to the last bite. Except now I've got a sink full of pots and pans again.

Then it was time to ignore the dirty dishes and hunker down with Jake and watch television, which was pretty much all I had the energy for...

Me and Jake sitting on the couch watching television.

Except for a bowl of chocolate ice cream with walnuts and whipped cream, of course.

   

Bullet Sunday 664

Posted on May 31st, 2020

Dave!I don't even know what to say... but here's a new Bullet Sunday anyway...

   
BLM! Despite being so crestfallen about the state of politics in this country that I'm trying not to blog my rage on a daily basis... something needs to be said. I fully believe that an unarmed citizen should not be dragged from their car by the police and get choked out on the street... all while crying out because they can't breathe as other citizens are telling the officers they they're killing somebody. For nine minutes. That's not law enforcement, it's murder. And when the murder disproportionately targets Black Americans? Well, that's why people are protesting. And I support the protesters 1000%, because this shit has got to stop. And, quite honestly, I don't understand why everybody can't support the protesters. I mean, my God, Black Americans have been trying to get attention to their plight via peaceful protest forever now. And no matter how they try to protest and bring awareness, they get criticized for it. Can't kneel at a football game (even though a veteran advised you it was a respectful way to protest) because people don't like it. Can't try to mention what's happening in an award speech because people don't like it. Can't have a sit-in. Can't have a march. Can't hold a rally. Can't carry a sign. Can't write an article. Can't make a movie. Can't do anything without pissing people off who don't want to be reminded of the horrific systemic racism which plagues us (and from which they likely benefit). Well, too fucking bad. Your "inconvenience" is what's going to lead to change. That's how shit gets done in this country. Just ask those who took part in the Boston Tea Party.

And, lastly, for the love of everything holy, STOP EQUATING PEACEFUL PROTEST TO LOOTING! The vast, vast number of people protesting are not looting a damn thing. As more and more information comes to light, the looting and violence are being started not by protesters, but by others for their own ends. Which include Far Left Anarchists, Far Right White Supremacists, and The President of the United States of America. They want to watch the world burn so they can start something new. Black Americans just want to be able to walk down the street and not get shot by the people sworn to protect them. Don't get me wrong... I support the idea of a police force. And I believe that officers on the front lines should have the tools they need to do their job and stay safe. But the grotesque militarization of our police has only served to escalate violence, and the lack of training for de-escalating situations before they turn violent is woefully inadequate. Instead we've got rogue police officers acting like judge, jury, and executioner. That's heinous. That's wrong. That needs to stop. Today. And a lot of police officers agree, which is why they are joining up with the protesters. It's their community too, and any officer true to their mission should be supporting peaceful protest of law enforcement abuses.

And now I'm going to go scream for a half-hour.

   
Predictable! And meanwhile, this is happening...

Holy shit.

   
Misbehavin'! One of my favorite TV shows from 2019 took me completely by surprise... it was The Righteous Gemstones starring John Goodman as a mega-church televangelist pastor. And one of the best bits to come out of that show was the performance of a song called Misbehavin' by the wife of John Goodman's character and her scheming brother...

I've watched that video at least a dozen times. And if your curious about how the song came about, here's an article for you.

   
From My Ranch To Your Kitchen! I've not been cooking much lately because I just haven't felt up to it. But yesterday I decided that I really need to start using the ingredients I've purchased while they're still good, so I started looking for ideas. Then somebody on Facebook reminded me of one of my favorite cooking channels on YouTube... De mi Rancho a Tu Cocina. Sure, she cooks most everything with meat, but it's fascinating. And, thanks to Google's auto-translation subtitles, you can actually follow along fairly well when you turn them on (CC button) and select "auto-translate" in the settings (gear button)...

Great stuff. Love her. It was this channel that convinced me to give a recipe with tomatillos a try with my Martha Stewart recipe box subscription.

   
Armchair Traveler! So many museums and cool places are putting up virtual tours and I'm absolutely loving it. But the best one I've seen so far is the Statue of Liberty, which is sensational. You can go around and inside of it and look around 360°. Here's just a sampling of what I saw when I virtually-visited...

The Statue of Liberty in the Daytime.

In the day time. But there's also night views from the exterior...

The Statue of Liberty in the Nighttime.

Having been up the Statue of Liberty a couple times, I fully admit that the dizzying heights and cramped quarters aren't something you can reproduce virtually, but at least you can get a taste of it. This is a view inside the crown...

Inside the cramped crown of the The Statue of Liberty.

Looking down...

Looking down the scaffolding and stairway of the Statue of Liberty.

The photos I just posted (courtesy of the National Parks Service) really don't do the experience justice. Head over to their site to see for yourself.

   
Dates! One of my favorite vloggers, Johnny Harris, has yet another cool video up. This time he's exploring the International Date Line and why it's the way it is...

This wouldn't be the first time Google Maps has screwed up. A decade ago there was an error which caused Nicaragua to invade Costa Rica. So even though Google Maps is often viewed as a definitive source of information because it's so heavily used, it really shouldn't be. Always check your sources. And if you can't get enough Johnny Harris, check out this fascinating video about Swiss neutrality.

   
Stay safe, everybody.

   

Skipping the Welsh Pork Cake

Posted on March 16th, 2020

Dave!My mom never seemed to be a huge fan of cooking. It was just something she did because she had to, and not something that she ever aspired to enjoy or master. She had a set of recipes that she was comfortable with and got good at making out of sheer repetition. Every once in a while something new would enter the mix, but not often.

One of my favorite things she made was Applesauce Bread. She found the recipe in a Spices of the World cookbook by McCormick (the company who sells all those spices). It's a 1964 edition, so I'm guessing she had it from before I was born. There are a dozen recipes in the book that mom would make, but only the Applesauce Bread was made so many times that the book broke in half at the recipe page. Eventually my mom had to rubber-band the thing and keep it in a plastic bag. You can see the recipe here, right under the instructions for Welsh Pork Cake(!)...

She altered the recipe, leaving out the raisins (gross!) and substituting walnuts for pecans. But here's the real thing she did to make this recipe better... she went from one big loaf pan to three small loaf pans. The best thing about this bread was the crust. We would fight over who gets the "ends." The smaller the loaf, the most crust you get. Genius.

One day I came home from work and she had a surprise for me. It was her Applesauce Bread... BUT SHE FOUND A MINI LOAF PAN TRAY TO BAKE THEM IN! NOW WE WILL HAVE CRUST FOR DAYS! WHOOOOOO!!!

It's the only way I make her bread now...

Raw applesauce bread poured into a tray with eight mini loaves stamped in it.

The eight loaves in the pan she found are perfectly sized to accommodate a full batch of the recipe...

Cooked applesauce bread cooling in a tray with eight mini loaves stamped in it.

You're supposed to let it cool for 20 minutes but I never can wait. It's just too dang delicious out of the oven. Of course you have to eat it with an absurd amount of butter...

A mini loaf of applesauce bread on a plate with a massive pat of butter.

Because I love y'all (and the book is out of print), here's the recipe...

  • 1/2 cup Butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 1-1/2 cups Sugar
  • 2 Eggs (beaten well)
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cloves
  • 1 cup Applesauce
  • 1 cup Walnuts (chopped)

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs and mix together well. Sift the flour, measure, then sift again with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Alternate adding flour mixture and applesauce to the egg & sugar batter until it's all thoroughly mixed. Blend in walnuts. Pour batter into well-greased and floured pan(s). You can use one 9-1/4 × 5-1/4 × 2-1/4 large pan, three small loaf pans, or 8 mini loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes (mini loaves), 50 minutes (small loaves), or 1 hour (standard loaf). Ovens vary, but tops should be golden brown with brown edges and a toothpick should come out clean. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes.

Notes...

  • Creaming the butter and sugar until well-mixed is important. If there are chunks of butter then the ingredients won't mix properly. A good electric mixer really helps with this recipe.
  • Sifting the flour twice is critical. The bread will not rise properly unless the flour is well aerated.
  • Heavily greasing the pans is no joke because the applesauce makes the batter wet. I wipe the pans with a lot of butter then flour heavily. Anything less is just asking for the loaves to stick to the pan. Also... don't let the loaf sit in the pan too long or it will stick no matter how well you've greased and floured it!
  • The batter will dry like cement, so don't be all "I deserve a break today!" and go play video games while the bread is baking. Scrub the bowls and utensils you use immediately.

Entirely too yummy.

And now back to our regularly-scheduled coronavirus coverage...

Every day since things started getting COVID-19-serious I've tried to imagine what it would be like if I was still taking care of my mom. If she was here with me, I'd be trying my absolute best to make sure neither of us got sick. Me because I couldn't take care of her while sick. Her because I have no idea how I'd possibly know how to take care of her in that condition. If she was at the care facility, I guess all I could do was hope that the staff could keep her safe while I stayed away. Either way, I'm horrified just thinking about it.

It really makes me feel for those who are actually in this situation right now. If that's you, help is available (link is for the US, if you're outside the US, please Google for assistance near you!).

If it were me, this would probably be what sent me over the edge. Heaven only knows I was already 99% of the way there.

Here in Washington State, which is an epicenter for the virus, our governor has closed down restaurants and bars for dine-in and asks that they continue as takeout or delivery operations until things get under control. Gatherings of 50 or more people is verboten as well. This is a serious problem which demands serious solutions, and it's good to know that our State officials are at least trying to slow down the spread of COVID-19 so that our hospitals are not overrun. Of course, this being Redneckistan, there are local restaurant owners telling the governor to eat shit and they will stay open because it's their God-given right as an American to spread the coronavirus, but that's to be expected here. If it were me personally, I wouldn't want my restaurant to be forever-remembered as ground zero for a highly infectious virus, but I guess that's why I'm not in business.

I mean, we just had a man die from COVID-19 in our local hospital, but I'm sure this is all just a hoax started by the socialist communist godless liberals, right?

I dunno. All I know for certain is that I'll be skipping the Welsh Pork Cake.

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