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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2018.7.15

Cooking With Papier-Mâché Briquettes

On Thursday I made another attempt to bike to a local beach park where I could test my little camp stove with papier-mâché briquettes. All the batteries were charged this time and I didn't forget to bring the food and grill. All went well, until I tried to fire up the grill.

Papier-mâché briquettes are not easy to light with a match, especially in windy conditions, even with extra paper to use as kindling. I burned through nearly all the matches I had before I gave up and biked home.

On Friday I tried again. However, because of the trip I made with my bike the previous day, I had all the video footage I needed for the ride to and and from the park. So I drove. And this time I brought my torch and a little canister of propane. I even tested my self-lighting torch to make certain it would work. Thus equipped, I was able to successfully cook my little piece of fish in a small skillet over the briquette flame and enjoy it with some potato salad.

So what is my conclusion about papier-mâché briquettes? They work. But getting them lit might be a challenge. In the camp stove I used, the flame got hot enough to cook the food, but not hot enough to burn all the carbon in the paper. There was black soot on the bottom of the pan and inside the stove. It washes off easily; so it isn't a game changer. But you wouldn't want to cook food directly over the flame.

Also, there isn't a long cooking time. It's ample enough to sauté a thin piece of fish or maybe two hotdogs or hamburgers. I wouldn't attempt a thick steak, although more briquettes can be added as the others burn down. I used a total of only three briquettes to cook my lunch.

Would I use the stove and briquettes often? Maybe not. But for my Cycling Adventures for Seniors video they might be something to pack with a little food to enjoy in the wild. The papier-mâché briquettes are certainly a lot lighter to carry than pieces of split oak.

12 Russians Indicted

Robert Mueller's indictment of 12 Russian military spies on Friday proves that Donald Trump was correct. There was no collusion. There was conspiracy — conspiracy to rig the outcome of a United States election by seeking the assistance of a nation that is hostile to the USA. And that is treason.

Here are some quotes from Salon:

In announcing the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein may have refused to point to a victim of the Russians’ crimes other than to say it was America itself, but the intent of the Russians was clear. They took active measures over a period of at least nine months to aid the campaign of Donald Trump and to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton. They stole the election for Donald Trump, and he helped them do it.

From Paragraph 20 of the indictment, “The Object of the Conspiracy”: “The object of the conspiracy was to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

“Beginning by at least March 2016, the Conspirators targeted over 300 individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign, DCCC, and DNC,” the indictment alleges. Nowhere does it say that “individuals affiliated with” the Trump campaign were targeted. Only Democrats.

I don't have a quote from a conservative source such as Fox News, but we already know their claims that Robert Mueller and all those associated with him are a bunch of worthless scum bags who should spend the remainder of their life on another planet.

I'll leave it to you to decide which is "fake news." In my mind the truth is very clear. Donald Trump is the illegitimate president of the United States. Future history books will say this period was darker and more sinister than the Watergate Conspiracy. What remains to be seen is how long Trump stays in office, and how many Democrats will win congressional seats in the mid-term elections in November.

Ice Cream Bread?

A fan of the web site and YouTube channel, Jake, sent me a link to a web page that explained how to make a loaf of quick bread with only two ingredients — self-rising flour and ice cream. The photographs showed some delicious looking breads. So I bought a little sack of flour and some butter pecan ice cream. The formula is simple: 1 cup of ice cream and ¾ cup self-rising flour. Mix and bake. What could be simpler?

Wednesday 2018.7.11

Rescued

Like many around the world, I followed the rescue of the 12 teenage members of the Thai soccer team and their coach who were trapped in a cave. Yesterday morning I was happy to learn all the boys and their coach are safely out of the cave and in the hospital where they are recovering from their ordeal.

Cooking

With the heat as high as it has been (Monday was forecast to be 78°F and actually reached into the low 90s), I haven't been doing much cooking. This is the time for cold sandwiches; so I stocked up on salami, provolone cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, and a soft loaf of Italian bread.

I did make potato salad for two videos. In the evening, well after the sun went down, I boiled the potatoes and cooked the eggs. Then I assembled the potato salad the following morning. The video will be public on Sunday, but if I remember I'll upload it later today and add a link to the bottom of the home page of this web site.

The second video was to be a test of my new little camp stove with the papier-mâché briquettes I made a few weeks ago. They are thoroughly dry now. The plan was to bike to a local park where there are grills. I wanted to cook a small piece of fish, but not actually on the grill. I'd set up the little camp stove and sauté the fish in a little skillet; then plate it with some potato salad and enjoy a little lunch. See below.

Cycling

As someone pointed out, the Cycling Adventures videos are not exclusively for seniors. There are some beautiful locations easily accessible by bicycle and can be appreciated by viewers of all ages. My reasons for using the word "Seniors" in the title are 1) I'm a senior and 2) if the channel becomes popular some day maybe I can seek sponsorship from an organization like AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), of which I'm a member, and I'm retired too.

Yesterday I finished editing a video of a little local coastal access park that is really remarkable in many ways. It is more beautiful than the coastal access route I featured in my first GoPro/Pedego video. There are tennis courts, excellently maintained trails, a Beach House where there are restrooms and outdoor showers, and, supposedly, a snack bar (which I haven't visited yet).

And yesterday a friend contacted me about lunch. We decided to eat at a local burrito restaurant named Super Cucas. It is in Isla Vista, the student community next to the University of California Santa Barbara. I rode out there with my GoPro camera to record some of the famous Del Playa Road area, once very popular for Halloween parties. The celebrating got so out of hand, the local police started to control access and parking. However, after viewing the clips of that video, I decided they were not interesting enough to upload to my channel. Rows of apartment buildings are not very entertaining.

Some Days You Shouldn't Get Out of Bed

Today is not a good day. This morning I set up everything to go test my little camp stove at a beach park near here. I headed out, leaving all the food and grill equipment at home. I went back and started again. The batteries in the gimbal that balances the GoPro camera died. I forgot to charge them. Thankfully, EVO ships the gimbal with a second set of batteries, which were fully charged. So I set out again, and then the battery in the GoPro died. I forgot to charge that one too, and I don't have a spare. Tomorrow is another day.

I am just going to sit and watch some of the Tour de France cycling race.

Sunday 2018.7.8

The Hottest Day of Summer (So Far)

Friday was the hottest day we experienced this summer. What with climate change and all, we'll see more. Records were broken. The day was forecast to be 103°F (39°C). I saw 106.8°F (42°C) on my outdoor digital thermometer before the sun went down and the evening started cooling. But by midnight it was still 90°F (32°C) outside. I ran my bedroom air conditioner all night to stay comfortable enough to sleep.

These were some of the peak temperatures in the area on Friday:

Yesterday was supposed to be about 10 degrees cooler, and another 10 degrees cooler today. By the end of the week daytime temperatures are projected to be back down to normal — mid to upper 70s.

Cycling Adventures for Seniors

Yesterday I uploaded another of my cycling tour videos to YouTube — the University of California Santa Barbara campus where I used to work. You can view the video by clicking the graphic:

Or CLICK HERE.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for temperatures to go down before I go for another bike ride. The helmet mount I ordered for my gimbal arrived this past week. Thankfully, it was an inexpensive accessory. I want to test it to see how the video compares to those when the camera is mounted on my bicycle's handlebars.

Fire

A new fire was reported on Friday evening. It was named the Holiday Fire because it started on Holiday Hill here in Goleta. It supposedly started as a house fire that spread to area brush. It isn't a critical fire situation because the winds have not been a danger. It is also far enough away, maybe 7 or 8 miles, not to affect the area in which I live. However, it destroyed several homes before being brought under control.

Tour de France

And, once again, it's the time of year for the Tour de France cycling race. Chris Froome is competing. There has been more than a little controversy surrounding him. He uses an approved anti-asthma medication, salbutamol. In the 2017 Vuelta a España race his drugs test revealed a higher than legal amount of the medication in his system. The discussion of whether or not to exclude him from the Tour dragged on for months. This week he was approved. Whether you like him or not, the medication is legal and there have been more than a few questions about the accuracy of the test.

Part of the issue is the pure dominance of Team Sky. They are like a well-oiled machine in these races. As such, it is difficult to compete against them, and that leads to vocal animosity towards the team. Froome was booed when he appeared with his team during the showcase that preceded the first stage.

Last year's collision between Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan, which injured Cavendish seriously, is still being discussed. Most people agree that Sagan shouldn't have been disqualified. Even though the crash wasn't intentional, I agree that he broke the rules, which state a cyclist must maintain a steady forward line during the final 200 meters of the sprint. Sagan veered off his line, which caused the crash.

Yes, other cyclists fail to maintain their line too in the sprint. However, that doesn't negate the rule. It is there to protect the athletes. The injuries to Cavendish prove the necessity of the rule. I still believe that disqualifying Sagan was the right thing to do. Starting this year the organizing committee is placing more cameras at the sprint points to better evaluate whether or not infractions occur.

Wednesday 2018.7.4

Happy Fourth of July

Here in the USA we celebrate our independence from England on this day. The 13 colonies were originally part of the British Empire. On July 2 of 1776 the Continental Congress declared the colonies a new nation. On July 4th the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

Personally, I think November 10, 2020 should be the start of an annual celebration of our independence of Donald Trump, assuming he isn't elected to a second term. That's a long wait.

This afternoon I will be joining friends for barbecued ribs. I made a jar of my BBQ sauce, something for which I am becoming famous in my own little community.

The fame began several years ago when someone asked me to make some for a barbecue he was attending. It was with several members of his, and his girlfriend's, family. He says they talk too much. When the chicken went onto the table everyone went quiet. Someone finally asked, "Where did you get this barbecue sauce?" He proudly said it was custom made for him.

Depending on what I have on hand, the formula can change a little (or a lot). This time I didn't have any bourbon. What to do? I threw caution to the wind and substituted with half Greek brandy and half sweet Marsala from Italy. If I had thought of it, I would have used the grapa I have.

The first taste, before I boiled off the alcohol, had quite an impact. It hit the back of my throat and burned all the way forward and down. I coughed. It took several minutes to recover. I think that's supposed to indicate I am on my way to a great barbecue sauce. I simmered it for 20 minutes and the final flavor was spicy hot, but I didn't add any red pepper flakes or cayenne.

When I bring the sauce to the friend's house this afternoon, I will caution him to go lightly with it. It has more wallop than kick. Actually, if he is grilling two or more racks, I'd like one lightly sauced. I will eat only ribs from the lightly sauced rack. I mostly like my food nuanced. There are exceptions, like pizza, but I especially don't care for something with too much spiciness.

How Many Steaks are Too Many?

It's difficult to resist a good deal, especially with an empty freezer. Boy am I glad I made that New Year's Resolution to eat all the food in my freezer! I would have been sick if I saw deals like this and nowhere to store them: Four steaks, regular price $59.81, sale price $19.03 with coupon. Think about it — a $15 steak for less than $5.

I'm almost too embarrassed to admit I have 15 beef rib-eye bone-in steaks in my freezer. At the price, I won't feel the least bit guilty if I cube some of the meat for Texas Beef Chili, or even grind it up for hamburgers. How about Tuscan Meatloaf? What about Instant Pot Beef Stew (for which I don't have a recipe yet)?

Yesterday's store advertisement arrived in the mail. It had the same coupon in it again, but it was good for one day only, today, July 4. I am still trying to decide whether or not to purchase yet another three or four steaks.

A Potentially Good Cycling Adventure

A friend of a friend is selling his sailboat. It is currently moored down in Ventura Harbor. He wants my friend to host a little going-away dinner on the boat, even though he (the seller) won't be there. He feels his boat needs a send-off. So the plan, so far, is to load my bike onto my SUV, drive down to Ventura, and then cycle around the harbor, finishing with lunch or dinner on the boat.

It's still in the planning stage because a portable grill is an issue. I think we should just pick up some takeout at one of the local seafood restaurants and eat on the boat. It would be easy, which would keep with the whole cycling idea. I am perfectly content with fish and ships, maybe a bowl of cioppino on the side.

Finger Lickin' Chicken Revisited

One of my somewhat popular recipes/videos is Finger Lickin' Chicken. I watched several fried chicken videos on YouTube and they all had one thing in common — the chicken was marinated in buttermilk. I need to update the recipe and shoot a new video with this preparation part of the procedure.

And I'm glad I checked the video. Three of my videos were marked as "inappropriate for all advertisers" on YouTube. Why? The number of views isn't high, but one is doing fairly well.

Calzones - 5,509 views
Tiramisu - 2,766 views
Croissants - 14,953 views

Those numbers aren't going to earn me enough advertising revenue to make much of a difference, but I don't think any of my videos should be flagged as inappropriate. They're cooking videos. If I remember correctly, foreign language words (the first two are Italian and the third is French) can be a risk factor. I submitted all three for manual review. I'm confident they will be approved. And out of nearly 330 cooking videos, three being flagged isn't bad.

Otherwise…

I spent the morning doing computer file backups. I am way behind on doing those and I can only tolerate the risk for so long.

Sunday 2018.7.01

Firewood Rack Revisited

I mentioned my log rack plans in last month's blog, actually on Wednesday. I ordered a pair of brackets to make a firewood rack. This is supposed to be how it should look:

Notice how the metal brackets are on the ground. What if it rains? Will the paint be scraped off when the rack is moved? Will the steel rust? Here is my idea of how it should be done:

Notice how I flipped the brackets 90° so that I could extend the 2x4s about an inch beyond the bracket. That keeps the metal above the ground, letting water drain away. And I think it looks better too. The ends look finished for a neater appearance. And that, by the way, is my little pile of red oak firewood for grilling.

A fan of My Kitchen Vlog pointed out another issue. Had I assembled this rack the way it was originally intended, the pockets that hold the upright 2x4s would have filled with water when it rained. The water would have stayed there, perhaps for many days, increasing the possibility of rust. I hadn't thought of that. So it turns out my idea is actually better than I originally thought.

As For Grilling…

I never was much for grilling. I'm more of a skillet-on-the-stove sort of guy. But I'm trying. I have the oak.

I'm also not much of a beef kind of guy. I can tell the difference between a steak and a hamburger patty, but that's about the limit of my knowledge. Salisbury Steak perplexes me. As I've mentioned before in past blogs, if I want red meat my number-one choice is lamb. I prefer the flavor. And if I'm going to grill, I'd rather have barbecued chicken, preferably marinated boneless thighs.

So the Albertson's grocery store weekly advertisement arrived this past week and there was a coupon for beef rib-eye, one value pack per customer, regularly $14.99 per pound selling at $4.77 per pound. That's better than 2/3 off. A friend who loves beef and lives to grill tried to persuade me to buy a package. I wasn't sure…

And then I got to thinking. I can buy the steaks, individually vacuum seal them, freeze them, and then this winter cube the beef for making Real Texas Chili. Okay. Yes. Sacrilege. Using beef rib-eye as stew meat. If you're a grill maven you are jumping up and down screaming in protest.

But hey, it's better than grinding up the beef with pork to make Meat Loaf with Bourbon Sauce (or Salisbury steak?).

Product Testing?

My latest Mobile Home Gourmet video is a test of some pre-made crusts I found in the grocery store. They're edible. Are they good? No, not really. However, prepared with some good toppings, the pizza isn't bad. Most kids younger than ten or eleven might eat them.

Although my slogan is "You don't need a gourmet kitchen to prepare gourmet food," I sometimes see the need to do simple foods for those who want to make something a little special, like pizza, without going through all the work of making a really good gourmet pizza. The grandchildren are coming to visit and they'll be perfectly happy with something that tastes like pizza. You get the idea. Maybe make the seriously gourmet pizza for the adults.

And it fulfills a request. I have been asked to come up with some videos of quick and easy foods. Not everything requires a full day in the kitchen, or a preparation time involving two days. Ideally, I could have made these little single-serving pizzas with homemade pizza dough, but that wouldn't have been as easy. Are the pre-made pizza crusts any good? Some are; some are not. My favorite is still Boboli brand.

There isn't a recipe for this week's feature. It's more of a product review than a recipe. And I should say I enjoyed eating the pizza, even though it wasn't as good as one of my delicious homemade gourmet pizzas, nor even as good as a pizzeria pizza. But it was easy, and that was my objective.