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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2019.7.21

Why I REALLY Don't Like UPS

I ordered something from Amazon and, sadly, they shipped UPS again. I've asked Amazon not to use UPS for my orders. I can't speak for all of the country, but in this part of the nation UPS is too unreliable. Here is the box they delivered on Friday:

When I heard the truck approaching, I went outside to receive the package. I was standing outside the truck's open door when the driver literally hurled the box from the back of the truck onto the floor next to his seat. He didn't know I was there.

I know UPS allows a tolerable drop distance, but what is their acceptable throw distance? Had the box contained something fragile, I would have refused it. Nonetheless, I did use an expletive or two for him to hear.

I returned the item to Amazon the same day for a full refund because I changed my mind after I opened the box. This handling in shipment is unacceptable. And I believe Amazon should lose a little money for not honoring my request to ship by another carrier.

Enjoying My Summer

This has been a pleasant and relaxing summer so far. Cooking has been minimal, mostly simple foods for myself. I haven't done as much grilling as I wanted to because I have foods in the freezer to use up before I add any more.

I have not been totally idle though. The new thumbnail project is moving forward well. This evening will be another meeting of the YouTube Content Creators Meetup. I'll have 100 new thumbnails to upload to YouTube during the meeting. With 380 videos in my Mobile Home Gourmet channel, I'll be busy for a while.

New Business Cards

And speaking of Mobile Home Gourmet, I ordered new business cards this week to take advantage of a credit I had pending with the printer. This is what my old cards look like:

Here is what the new cards will look like when they arrive:

The old cards were intended to help drive traffic to my web site, I hoped. Back then I didn't realize how important my YouTube channel would eventually become. The web site's URL is still white-trash-cooking. I started using MobileHomeGourmet when I did a season of shows for a local TV station. They didn't like the word "trash" in the title. Both URLs point to the same site.

Typing Through Plastic

I am still experimenting with covering my computer keyboards with plastic to keep them clean. The plastic bags on rolls in the produce and meat sections of grocery stores still work best. They are the most flexible, but they aren't transparent enough. The poly tubing I use with my impulse heat sealer are nicely transparent, but not flexible enough.

On the positive side, I can now say that I am accustomed to typing through plastic. It was a little annoying at first, but I adjusted.

Wednesday 2019.7.17

Food Photography

I am taking an interest in food photography again because of a change in my YouTube video thumbnails. To explain:

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I attended a YouTube content creators meetup. The second meeting was on Sunday evening. This time there was a graphic designer in the group. She looked at the thumbnails on my channel and although the photography is well done, they lacked something important — a unified design.

We looked at the thumbnails of other creators. Gordon Ramsay comes to mind. His name is in the lower left corner on most of his videos. At a glance, his videos are instantly recognizable as his. The thumbnails have a similar look.

The designer recommended I also include some sort of brand in the same place on all my thumbnails. I use the little graphic of a camper trailer that appears on this web site and on my videos, but I never thought to include it in my thumbnails. (And one point maybe worth mentioning: That graphic doesn't violate anyone's copyright because I drew it myself in Adobe Illustrator.)

She also recommended color — a black header with white lettering at the top, underlined with an orange stripe and then the whole thumbnail given a thin frame of blue. Here is one example:

The goal is recognition. As I build my reputation on YouTube, I want people to see an image and recognize it as one of mine.

To make the task easier (I have more than 380 videos!), I created a template. Assembling each thumbnail is then only a matter of plugging in a few elements and saving my work. As of this morning 75 thumbnails are done, but only 20 have been uploaded to YouTube. At the content creators meetup we're supposed to have something to accomplish during the meeting. I'll upload the new thumbnails.

I expect the entire project to be done in two to three weeks.

Sunday 2019.7.14

Pork Chops Saltimbocca?

Why not? One thing I've learned about having a cooking device — whether a pressure cooker, Instant Pot, air fryer, or a sous vide cooker — is the new possibilities. And with additional possibilities come more invention. I thought about this:

Saltimbocca is an Italian term that translates as "jump mouth" and typically involves prosciutto. It is traditionally made with thinly sliced veal.

I have prosciutto in the refrigerator and I had bought a pork loin to cut into chops and use for experimenting with my new sous vide cooker. Season the chop with a little salt and pepper, wrap in a slice of prosciutto, seal in a vacuum pouch and freeze. Cook when needed.

The value of prosciutto is that it yields a lot of flavor. That's why I use it in my Clam Chowder recipe — something I learned from the late Clarissa Dickson Wright of the BBC cooking show, Two Fat Ladies. (See also Keto Clam Chowder.) Another advantage is that it sears easily. So it seemed only natural to experiment with it when preparing pork chops.

Here it is with a helping of pan-fried broccoli:

It was cooked to perfection and delicious. I don't have the recipe written yet; so it isn't available on this web site. It will be published in coming weeks. And one more thing: Browned broccoli might not look good on a plate, but it really tastes good (if you like broccoli).

Wednesday 2019.7.10

A Geriatric Among Millennials

You've seen them. Millennials whose only face time is with their computer or phone. Such was Sunday evening, but it was fun and productive.

I've mentioned Meetups in the past. One was organized for Sunday evening. The organizer couldn't have been 30. 26 maybe. It was a meeting of YouTubers to get tips, discuss their videos, and work on their channel. Only three of six showed up, but that was okay. There wasn't enough seating at one table. After greeting and spending a few minutes in chit chat, we each dove into our own private world with our laptop computer. I felt so old, but it was fun to rub elbows with another generation. I enjoyed it.

I also accomplished a lot. I did some housecleaning on two of my YouTube channels and then created two playlists of keto favorite videos.

I'm hoping there will be more of these Meetups because my two hours were very productive. If I could rely on the meetings, I would save some of my chores for them. And if I could wish for something, I'd ask for a quieter environment. The golden oldies rock music wasn't bad, but there was more than enough people noise to make it difficult to hear the person next to me. As I get older my ears are working differently — I'm not losing my hearing; I'm losing my ability to separate a person's voice from the background noise.

In Appreciation of Those Video Archives

Last month I blogged quite a bit about the archiving project I was doing, consolidating all my cooking video projects onto Blu-ray blanks. Something a little odd happened during the weekend that helped me appreciate all the work I did.

There has been one piece of YouTube data lacking since they upgraded their Creator Studio page — the number of videos on my channel. Finally, this past week, YouTube added that extra bit of information, along with some additional important data. Two of my old videos were marked as private, not listed for public view. Why?

They are old videos, uploaded to YouTube back in 2012 and 2013. They had been public, but somehow they were unlisted a long time ago. Neither of them accumulated many views.

Rather than "publishing" them (designated public), it seemed like a good opportunity to edit them again, making them look more like my most recent videos, even though they were done five or six years ago. That's done. They'll be published in coming weeks.

Something a Little Different

I have two desktop computers in my home office. I've mentioned them several times in these blogs. I love the fact they have dust filters, keeping the insides clean. I built these computers nearly four years ago and when I shine a flashlight inside, there is barely any dust to see.

Keyboards are another issue. They get dirty so easily and they're so difficult to clean. I can spend an hour cleaning one keyboard, and I have two. I decided to experiment with an idea to keep my keyboards clean.

If you shop at grocery stores, you've seen those rolls of plastic bags they have in the produce and meat sections. Costco used to have the best ones, but now they only have the cheap ones. The plastic is thin, but durable. I put one on each keyboard, actually using a little piece from another bag to extend the size enough to fully cover the keyboard. It took a little while to get used to typing through a plastic bag, but all is well now. When the bags deteriorate too much (so far they're holding up well), replacing them will be easy.

Sous Vide Cooking

I took advantage of an Amazon Deal of the Day offer. I'd been thinking of buying a sous vide cooker, but I never decided. Seeing one I liked at 40% off sealed the deal for me. I ordered it and it arrived yesterday morning.

I bought a small pork loin because I wanted to test the cooker with a pork chop. I cut a slice of meat, about 3 ounces (ideal for someone on a keto diet), prepared it with salt, pepper, garlic and a twig of fresh rosemary, then sealed it in a vacuum pouch and cooked it. I finished it with searing. I did a video of the unboxing and testing, which you can watch by clicking this link:

Or CLICK HERE.

The cooker is really easy to set up. Just plug it in, set the cook temperature, the time, and then press the on/off button to start it cooking. I bought the simple unit that does not require an app on a smart phone. I really like the simplicity of it. And, even more impressive, I love the sound it doesn't make. It is almost silent.

After cooking my pork chop at 135°F (57°C) for 90 minutes I heated safflower oil in a small cast iron skillet. Safflower oil has a high smoke point, above 500°F (260°C). I used that to give the chop a quick sear. And, to add grill marks, I also heated a stove top grill and give the chop another sear on the opposite side.

And I learned something: Don't cut the chop thin. Mine was too thin; therefore, the searing process cooked the meat further, reducing the tenderness. It wasn't really tough, like my mom's pork chops, but it was not tender enough to cut with a fork, which was my goal.

Now that I own one of these cookers, look for sous vide videos in the future.

Sunday 2019.7.7

More Free Stuff, or Is It?

This week I heard from a company, Pinsoon, that sells counter top cooking appliances on Amazon. In particular, they wanted to send me a 10-quart Air Fryer Oven. Basically, it's a convection oven, but larger than my air fryer, which has about half the capacity.

However, there is a catch. They want me to do infomercials for their products and place them on my YouTube channel. They are offering a small amount of money per video. It isn't enough, considering the time it takes to plan, shoot, and edit a video. I would be earning less than minimum wage for the hours I would put into it. Even if they were offering ten times as much, I wouldn't do them. My Mobile Home Gourmet channel is about the foods I like to prepare and the recipes I write.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

As planned, I made the cauliflower pizza crust on Wednesday afternoon. It turned out very well. The crust held together nicely and I was able to use it to prepare a small pizza, enough for two servings. If I needed to find a negative, it would be the salt. I used Romano cheese in the crust, which requires a hard cheese like Parmesan or Romano. Even though I didn't season anything with salt, the pizza was too salty anyway. I normally cook with very little salt. During the evening I drank several glasses of water. You can link to the recipe with the following link and watch the video by clicking the green Watch the Video button.

Or CLICK HERE.

The video hasn't been published yet on YouTube, but you can watch it now.

Would I do it again? Yes, when I get a craving for pizza again. However, I would try Parmesan cheese in the crust next time because it is less salty than Romano. Otherwise, the pizza crust was a success and I can see it being beneficial not only for those on a keto diet but for people who are gluten intolerant too.

Earthquake!

Thursday morning I was sitting at this computer, working on this web site, when my home started shaking. It was only a slow swaying movement, no sharp jolts, and there was no noise. I therefore knew it wasn't a local tembler but something big and far away.

I went onto the U.S. Geological Survey web site for more information. It wasn't working, perhaps overwhelmed with activity. That was another indicator it was a large distance quake.

Finally the web site came up and I was able to see it was a 6.4 earthquake located northeast of here in the Mojave Desert. You probably saw some of the reports on the TV news. There was ongoing coverage all day.

I've been living in Southern California since 1975 and I'm still not fully accustomed to earthquakes. They don't frighten me like they used to, but it's a bit unnerving knowing you can't trust the ground beneath your feet.

A Pleasant Fourth

Other than the earthquake, it was a pleasant day here in SoCal. I live near a park where there is a short fireworks display for the holiday. They don't have a large budget for an extravaganza, but they put on a decent event for about 20 minutes. This year I noticed the grand finale wasn't as grand as last year. Perhaps the fireworks were made in China and subject to tariffs. Nonetheless, I sat on my back porch with a drink in my hand and enjoyed the evening.

More About the Angry Neighbor

On Wednesday I blogged about a neighbor who went ballistic because he assumed a few of us complained to the manager about the number of cars parked around his coach. I did what he should have done. I talked with the neighbors about it. No one complained. The manager had done a routine inspection of the park and wrote up several residents about issues with their space. Two residents are repairing their entryway stairs for not being compliant with county codes. Others were cited for needing cleanup around their coach. I didn't receive any notice; I keep my yard neat.

Earthquake Part Two!

The stronger quake in Ridgecrest on Friday evening was felt here, but only as a gentle swaying movement. I wasn't sure if it was my imagination or real; so I looked at a hanging lamp and it was swaying slightly. As I said above, when we feel only a gentle swaying motion, that usually indicates a bigger event far away. Ridgecrest is 150 miles from here.

I did check the U.S. Geological Survey web site. As expected, it was down for several minutes after the quake, probably overloaded with people trying to get information. The quake was later reported to be 7.1 in magnitude. That's significant. On CNN they said it was five times bigger and 11 times stronger than the 6.4 quake that shook the area on Thursday.

And, Finally, Why?

YouTube provided some additional statistics to content creators. Finally, I can see the number of videos I have on a channel (377 on Mobile Home Gourmet). I'd been asking for that. However, when I checked, there were eight videos marked as "unlisted" (private). I knew I had six — four recent uploads and two channel trailers. Two others, Tiramisu and Vanilla Chai Ice Cream, were marked as Private. Why? I'll fix those in coming weeks.

Wednesday 2019.7.3

Going Postal

A neighbor went postal this past weekend. He claims someone filed a complaint about him with the trailer park manager because of the cars. Maybe the manager did an inspection and wrote up the residents who were in violation of the park rules. The rules allow two cars per space — one in the driveway and one parked in front. The neighbor usually has three, sometimes four.

I've lived across the street from his family for 25 years and I never filed a complaint against him. We always got along well. I've even given them some of the food I cooked for my videos. However, he decided I was one of the suspects. He went postal on me and two other neighbors. All three of us have only one car; so why would we care?

I tried to reason with him. The one who complained is probably someone with a third car who parks the extra car outside the park. He or she might have believed it was unfair that they had to park their third car outside but this guy's family gets away with so many cars around their space. But he can't be reasoned with. He doesn't know who the culprit was, but he must have a convenient target. I'm one of them.

There is reason for concern. He loses his temper and breaks things. When he and his wife fight, she leaves and we can hear him throwing things against the walls. The next day he fills his trash bin with broken small appliances. Sometimes he loads broken furniture into the back of his truck to haul to the dump.

Oh well. All we can do is steer clear of him. He will eventually calm down, but if I never speak with him again I'm okay with that. Among neighbors, he is far more a liability than an asset.

Watching YouTube

I sometimes watch YouTube videos for the wrong reasons. Occasionally we need a little ego inflation, especially when we've been dealing with some depression.

I had lunch with friends yesterday. Although we were eating Chinese food, somehow the subject of pizza came up and one of my friends asked me if I had tried making pizza with a cauliflower pizza crust. I'd heard of it, but never tried it. However, I've been keto behaving for six months and I admit I was craving pizza. So I went onto YouTube to do some research.

I felt like Ignatius Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole) at the movie theater, only I'm not yelling "Oh my gawd!" at the screen; I'm just thinking it. Some people make really awful cooking videos. There are good ones, thankfully, and I learned a lot from them.

One of the worst keto pizzas was layered with lots of pepperoni. Pepperoni is okay in small amounts. All that excess protein, however, can be metabolized into carbohydrates and there goes the ketosis.

I went to the store yesterday afternoon and bought a head of cauliflower along with some simple pizza toppings. I won't make one of my homemade Pizzas, for which I am famous here; I will make a simple small one this afternoon as an experiment. (Go to the recipe and look at the size of that crust. That's a lot of carbs.) The cheese will be okay. It's keto friendly. But I'll go really light on the meats.

As I said, I'll experiment later today. If all goes well, I'll do a video and publish it later this summer. Currently I have three unpublished videos on YouTube and I'm publishing every other week as I enjoy a slower summer schedule. We all need a vacation occasionally.