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Sunday 2018.5.20

The Third Time Wasn't a Charm

On Thursday I made English Muffins again — my third attempt. The second attempt made thin muffins again. They were better than the first batch, but still too thin. I did more research.

What I found was that the formula (the list of ingredients) was similar across most recipes. Some use milk, some water, but they were all about the same. What varied was the MOP (method of preparation). Some rolled the dough to a thickness of about ½ inch (1.25 cm) and cut the muffins using a round cutter. Some cooked the muffins in round forms on the griddle or in a skillet. Some shaped their muffins with their hands. I like shaping by hand because that gives my muffins a more homemade, artisanal look.

The most important variation was the division of the dough. My textbook says to portion the dough into 1½-ounce (43g) units. That makes about 20 small muffins, or standard size but thin ones. Most recipes divide the dough into 12 pieces. And that is what I did for my third attempt.

This time, the muffins came out reasonably thick, but not like the English muffins available in the store. So now what do I adjust? More flour or less water? Thankfully muffins are inexpensive to make. Flour doesn't cost much.

And that's how much work and experimentation go into many of my recipes. One fan said he never needs to correct any of my recipes. That's because I try to write a recipe that I've tested enough times to make certain it will produce reliable results.

I cannot account for everything when baking. Flour differs from season to season and according to environmental conditions. Obviously, in dry climates the flour will behave differently than in humid climates. Elevation is a factor. I live at sea level; those who live in the mountains need to adjust their recipes. Adjustments are unavoidable, but I think a published recipe should provide a reasonably accurate starting point. I've seen too many recipes that were written up as potentially good ideas without ever testing them.

So I Tried Again

When making bread and bread-like items, many bakers look for an ideal ratio of wet to dry ingredients. They convert everything to grams, even the water or milk, and even the salt, and add up things up. Divide the wet total by the dry total to get the ratio, or the percent.

Wayne Gisslen, author of Professional Baking, says his ratio for English muffins in 75%. I calculated it at 77%. The dough was too wet, unless baking the muffins in ring forms to hold them up at the sides. I increased the flour enough to drop the ratio to 72%. It's more moist than regular bread dough, which (if I remember) is close to 63%, but the dough is reasonably stable enough to hold it's shape when baking.

Again, I divided the dough into 12 portions. The results were slightly better than satisfactory. The muffins came out thick enough to toast. The texture was coarse and chewy, exactly what I would expect from an English muffin, and the flavor was better than the muffins available in the grocery store.

Here is a photo:

The recipe I wrote for this web site follows Gisslen's fairly closely, but I altered the formula for a dryer ratio. If you wanted thicker muffins you could add more flour, but then the recipe approaches fried bread dough, or Doughboys.

When Things Beep

As I mentioned in Wednesday's blog, I think about my ears. I still have good hearing, but with age a little degradation is to be expected. For example, one ear hears a higher pitch than the other.

One sensitivity I am losing is my directional hearing. When your ears are young and healthy they can tell the difference in sounds entering from each side of your head, signalling where the noise is coming from. My ears don't do that as well as they used to.

It becomes obvious when something starts beeping. Is it my cell phone, my microwave oven, my clock? What is it? Friday morning something softly beeped in my home. It wasn't consistent; so it took a while to search it out. In my kitchen? In the dining room? In the living room? It turned out to be the thermometer display unit that shows my outdoor temperature. I have a sensor outside. Something confused it. Remove the battery, let it sit a few seconds, and then install the battery again. It's fine now. But finding the source of the beeping was a challenge.

Cooking for Myself

After several days of making English Muffins and throwing them in the trash, I needed to do something for myself. Additionally, yesterday's Pedego group ride was cancelled, due to the host being in New Jersey for his grandfather's funeral. So I was feeling a little tired and low, and therefore in need of some self-pamering. I made another pot of Clam Chowder. It's one of the few foods I will absolutely crave if I think about it.

I made some about a week ago and when I bought the prosciutto at the deli counter in the store the woman had cut way to many slices. I asked for very thick slices because the meat needs to be cubed. What would she do with thickly sliced prosciutto? It's not like people demand it often. It would have gone in the trash. So I told her to toss it all on the scale for me, knowing I'd have enough for a second batch of chowder.

It won't last long. I love my Clam Chowder recipe. And I might make more English muffins this week because I'm enjoying them a lot, more than I thought I would.

Wednesday 2018.5.16

The Amgen Tour

The Amgen Tour of California Cycling Race is on TV this week. I enjoy watching it, but not live. There are more commercials than in the Tour de France, around three minutes for each six minutes of racing. Beside the commercial breaks, there are advertisements in the program itself. It is at times like this when I really enjoying having a TV cable box with recording capability. I watch the racing, fast-forwarding through the many commercials.

It was last year around this time that I created a small controversy in my YouTube vlog. At the end on one stage Peter Sagan collided with Mark Cavendish, causing him to crash. He was seriously injured and had to abandon the race. Sagan was disqualified.

There was plenty of video footage of the crash. Sagan could clearly be seen steering off his line, pinning cavendish against the wall, causing the crash. The fans of Sagan were outraged when I talked about this video. The rules state that a cyclist must maintain his line during a sprint. Sagan veered off his line. The Sagan fans tried to blame Cavendish and the Cavendish fans blamed Sagan; but it was obvious in the video that Sagan was at fault. For the record, I'm a fan of both cyclists.

That vlog video was watched more than 2,000 times — hardly going viral, but very popular for that YouTube channel in which most videos are rarely watched more than 100 times. People tried to bait me into a flame war in the comments, but I stayed out of it. The original race video was proof enough. Blaming me or the athletes didn't change the facts.

This year the sprints are more interesting because there are several talented sprinters in the peleton. Assuming none of them crash and withdraw with injuries, the race should be fun to watch.

And here's something fun: About 1½ weeks ago, on May 6, I blogged about a Pedego group ride I abandoned. They were cycling up Gibratar Road to the top of the mountain. Monday's stage of the Amgen Tour finished at the top of Gibraltar road here in Santa Barbara. I really enjoyed watching the race that day.

I also learned something new while watching the tour. The TV commentator said the bikes are actioned off at the end of the race. Those bikes cost many thousands of dollars. I thought the cyclists were given new bikes at the beginning of each season. Evidently they receive new bikes at the beginning of each race. Maybe hardcore fans will bid more in an auction than a racing bike originally cost. And maybe the bikes are given to the teams for free from the companies that want their machines featured in televised races — Cervélo, Trek, Specialized, etc. — and therefore the auctions bring more revenue into the teams.

You Win a Few, You Lose a Few

Per a request, on Monday I tried making English muffins following a recipe in Wayne Gisslen's book Professional Baking. All seemed to go well, but after shaping the muffins for the final rise, the dough almost refused to rise. It did gain a little height after a very long time, but just touching them would cause them to deflate.

He says the dough is supposed to be very moist, at 75% hydration by weight. Bread dough is typically around 60 to 65%. I suspect there was too much water. Despite the efforts of the proteins to build up gluten chains, the structure wasn't strong enough to support itself.

I am trying again today. Although a friend offered me her recipe for English muffins, I really like Gisslen's recipe. It just needs a little adjusting. And this brings out an important consideration when baking. You never know how the flour will react. The bread flour I used was way too old. The "best if used by date" was 3/27/14, more than four years ago. Yesterday I bought a fresh bag of flour, best if used by 12/27/18.

Protecting My Hearing

I don't mean to unload, but yesterday seemed like something worth writing about. Where I used to work they have a Staff Appreciation Week each spring. There are events that staff members can attend, usually for free. Yesterday was the Staff Luncheon, a free meal for those who attend. The food is fairly good and it's fun see the people I used to work with. Even though I am retired staff, and therefore technically not qualified to attend, it's an open lunch affair and even a few outsiders walk in and take some free food.

I went early, getting there at around 10:30 to hold a table in the shade. The lunch was scheduled from 11:00 to 1:00. Then the music started. I don't know why they think staff likes the same loud blaring rock music young people might enjoy. I stayed as long as I could, but when my ears started to ache I went home and called a friend on campus to say I cancelled. He doesn't like the loud music either.

One of the events is the annual Pottery Sale. These are handmade ceramic items students make in pottery art classes. Many of them abandon their projects after completing them. They sell for cheap. From the "Free" table I picked up a bowl and I bought a large bowl for $1.00. You can't beat the prices. Although they're certainly not luxury items (a few are, but they sell at higher prices), these are the kind of oddities that look really good in a photograph. I use them in my videos. On top of that, they are one-of-a-kind objects that no one else in the world will find at Pier 1 Imports or Walmart. Here is a photo of what I brought home:

I think the dark bowl would look good filled with pasta and sauce. The white bowl needs a dark food, like chili or chocolate ice cream. The smaller bowl is like a standard soup or cereal bowl, about 5 inches across. The large bowl, 8½ inches, is more like a serving bowl. They're not pretty, but often the ugliest dishes look the best in photographs and videos.

My ears still hurt today. I worry about my ears because both my father and his mother started wearing hearing aids early in life. I am practically a clone of my father's side of the family, but my hearing is still good. If I live long enough (a doctor once told me I'd live to 100 because of my bicycle riding exercise), I will probably need hearing aids someday, but I'd like to delay that eventually as long as possible.

Sunday 2018.5.13

Happy Mother's Day

Do something special for your mother today, if you haven't already. Maybe download one of my recipes and prepare a special dinner or dessert. You don't need go as extravagant as Duck with Orange Sauce or a Gateau Paris Brest, but maybe something simple like Custard Pie or Carrot Cake.


A web site issue came to my attention recently. I had mistakenly uploaded some recipe PDFs in which I failed to include the step-by-step photograph pages. No one noticed, or, at least, they didn't report the pages as missing. I mentioned this in Wednesday's blog and more than one person said they only print the first PDF page anyway.

So that got me to thinking. Are the additional photographs necessary or superfluous? When I started this web site in the summer of 2010 I didn't have a means for making videos. Photographs were the only way to show a procedure. During the fall of that year a friend moved into town and he has a video camera. We decided to do a few test videos, mostly to discover the technical details that needed fixing — lighting, audio, and presentation style. We shot videos for the earlier recipes for which there were none and eventually I purchased my own video camera.

In thinking about the issue, it occurred to me that the video is far more informative than the photographs. The videos are certainly the most popular. Traffic to this web site is minimal, at best, and, as I said above, those who make use of the PDFs only print the first page anyway. Mostly, people come here to read these blogs.

Another issue worth addressing, although it is not critical yet, is that the photographs take up a lot of space. My web site hosting service hasn't warned me about exceeding my alotted storage space, but that is only a matter of time.

And that addresses yet another issue. This web site and its videos are all done by only one person — me. I do everything. Writing a recipe with a dozen or so photographs attached, with explanations, is a lot of work. Assembling a standard recipe is simple. It involves mostly cut and paste.

And so I made the decision to simplify my web site further by creating future recipes without additional photographs. Besides being simpler to assemble, they're much smaller. As one example, my Almond Biscotti PDF without photos is only 66KB. With photos, it is 469KB, more than seven times larger. If people need to see visually how a recipe is prepared, they have the benefit of the YouTube videos. YouTube is an excellent resource. I use it to learn all kinds of things, like how to repair a camera lens.

As for the older recipes, I'm stuck with the longer PDFs because most of my videos end with a message saying to look on my web site for the recipe PDF with step-by-step photographs. And that makes life simpler too. There are currently 300 PDFs on this web site.


A few weeks ago I mentioned in my blog some little problems in my web site's HTML files. Up toward the top of the code, in the fourth line, there is a meta tag that was all capital letters. The tag should be in lower case letters.

I don't know that it makes any difference. There are about 750 of those files. Correcting them is easy, but it would take time. My only concern is that the error might prevent the files from appearing in a Google search.

There is one amusing side-effect to changing all those files. In visiting them again I am reminded of having cooked those foods. Some of them, like my Clam Chowder recipe, make me crave the food. I want to make it again. Others, like Stuffed Pasta Roll, make me wonder why I ever attempted them in the first place. Although it had excellent presentation value and was a delicious meal, I have no desire to repeat that recipe. However, I biked to the store and bought the ingredients for clam chowder.

Faced with changing all those files, I couldn't help wondering why? Is it a "best practices" thing or is there something functional about capitalization? Naturally, I Googled it. The answers were more confusing that the issue itself. Most people said upper case and lower case were viewed the same, although some search engines like Google supposedly convert the tags to lower case. One person said the case doesn't matter with HTML but it is important XHTML (an extended version of HTML).

It's too deep for me. My web site software indicates a problem with a little red X on the page footer and the line number is in red, indicating the location of the error. Fixed, the X changes to a green check mark. So, to keep my software happy, I decided fix all the errors, all 750 of them. There is one extra advantage: I found some important errors on other pages and I fixed those too.

Age Has Its Limitations

After fixing more than 100 HTML pages manually for the meta tab mentioned above, I thought: Why not use Find and Replace? In about half an hour I fixed all the pages on this web site. I ain't stupid, but I'm slow sometimes.

All the corrected pages were uploaded to my hosting service; so, as far as I know, my entire web site is now free of errors (even though the errors didn't affect use of my web site). It might be an obsessive-compulsion thing, but there is a certain je ne sais quoi feeling about the site being perfect.

Wednesday 2018.5.9

Boy, When Things Go Wrong…

After Sunday's upload of the Vanilla Ice Cream video I decided to check the PDF to make certain I had encoded it correctly. I hadn't done any videos or recipe writing for several months; so I needed to make certain I hadn't forgotten how to do things. The PDF contained only the first page, not the subsequent pages that show the step-by-step photographs.

At some point in the past, I must have PDFed a recipe to tape to the wall while cooking and set my encoder to incorporate only the first page. And then I forgot.

Eight recipes, going back to November, had the same PDF problem. Of course, I fixed all those errors and uploaded the PDFs again. But the important issue for me here is that no one ever noticed, or at least they never brought the problem to my attention. This raises a question:

Does anyone use my recipe PDF files? I know of one person who uses the print-friendly recipe page because he made one of my bread recipes and sent me a photograph in which he was holding up the printed recipe. Or maybe people aren't even aware the PDFs include step-by-step photographs. The HTML pages don't have them. Or maybe they only want the first page.

And so I'm in a quandary. If no one uses the PDF step-by-step pages, wouldn't it be easier for me to PDF only the recipe page. It would save me a lot of time, photography, and writing. I shall experiment. For future recipes I'll only PDF the first page and if no one ever complains, I'll make it my standard procedure.

Is America's Test Kitchen Going Commercial?

Back when Christopher Kimball headed the company, ATK had a reputation for good ol' down country honesty, straight out of the hills of Vermont (even though the show was filmed in a TV studio in Boston). I raise the question above because someone responded to a comment on my Vanilla Ice Cream video with a link to an ATK review of ice cream makers. I watched the review and was left wondering if they even used the appliances they were reviewing.

In particular, they mentioned how important it is to test the ice cream with an instant read thermometer to check for the ideal temperature while churning. The plastic churning paddle in one model has a cross bar that supposedly makes using a thermometer impossible. It doesn't. The paddle doesn't rotate. Ergo, the cross bar doesn't rotate and therefore won't interfere with the probe of a thermometer. It's the canister that rotates. They would have known that if they had used the appliances.

I never use a thermometer with my ice cream maker, and I've been making ice cream occasionally for more than 20 years. I wait until the ice cream volume increases to nearly come out the top. It works for me.

Another of their complaints was that the canister needs to stored in the freezer for several hours, usually overnight, before using it to make ice cream. They said this could be a problem if your freezer is really full. That lacks foresight. When you make ice cream, the final step is to store it in the freezer for a while to fully firm it up. If you don't have room in your freezer for the canister, you won't have room to store the ice cream you make.

They seemed to really love the $400 Breville (currently $335 on Amazon). I couldn't help wondering if they were paid to promote the model (which, by the way, has a rotating paddle, making the use of an instant read thermometer impossible). The video review seemed too rehearsed, too scripted, as though they were told what to say for the sake of their commercial revenue. It seemed like they looked for complaints about the other models in order to promote the Breville.

Paying It Forward

There was one incident I didn't tell you about in Sunday's blog. I wasn't sure I should. I mentioned that I hung around in the Pedego dealership, talking with the owner, Pat, as he assembled a bike. One customer wanted narrower tires on his bike; so Pat had to remove the wheels to change tires. The front wheel is easy. It has a quick-release. The rear wheel is held in place with 3/4-inch nuts.

Pat was using a small adjustable wrench and I was concerned. It simply wasn't the right tool for the job. I told him he should have socket wrenches. Well, things went wrong. The adjustable wrench slipped and Pat cut his hand on the brake disk. They're sharp. It wasn't a big gash, though deep, and it did bleed quite a bit. After voicing a few choice expletives, he pressed on it with clean paper towels to help stop the bleeding. Then he cleaned it with alcohol, swabbed it with Neosporin, and then applied a bandage.

People gift me. I occasionally get cooking items or utensils. Many people have made donations to help support this web site. Why not pay it forward? I went to Sears on Sunday and bought Pat a good quality set of Craftsman socket wrenches, in both metric and standard (American) sizes. The half-inch ratchet is plenty large enough to give him good leverage when working on a bike. And his hands will be safer.

Bunny for Dinner

Despite my neighbor's horror that I was cooking rabbit (I didn't hunt it; I bought it frozen in the grocery store), I made the Jugged Hare recipe, modernized for my Instant Pot, and videoed the process. It's on YouTube now and, if everything goes according to plan, it will be featured and released to the public on Sunday as Slow-cooked Rabbit. You can watch the video now by clicking on the graphic below:


I tried something different for the vegetables. I really enjoy Brussels sprouts, pan fried until they start to brown. This time, toward the end of the cooking time, I added some sliced mushrooms. Magnificent! I don't think I'll eat Brussels sprouts any other way in the future.

The Iran Nuclear Deal

I am one of many Americans who does not know what is in the deal. I've heard it's an international treaty involving not Iran and the USA exclusively. It involves other nations in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Some are saying the action to pull out of the deal is actually a violation of the multilateral treaty.

One question being asked again and again in the news is how Trump's decision on the Iran deal affects any potential deal with North Korea. Why should North Korea trust Trump? And how does this impact the request by some Republicans to see Donald Trump nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? Will it estrange this country even more from Europe, Israel, and other countries?

How might Trump's actions affect the mid-term elections this fall and his own campaign for a second term as president? Here is my prediction for 2020: If there is a strong trend in this country for the electorate to vote for the Democratic candidate, the Republicans will nominate Trump at their convention (essentially throwing him under a bus), knowing he won't win, and then plan for 2024.

If Robert Mueller's investigation uncovers money laundering, illegal campaign financing, conspiracy to rig an election with the assistance of a foreign enemy power, etc., Trump is all but guaranteed not to win the nomination. He'll disappear into oblivion and authors will write their books about the worst president in USA history.

The Onion

You watch the news and before one "breaking news" story can cool, there is another one to take its place. I know it's a cliché, but paying attention to the latest Donald Trump news is like watching an onion being peeled, layer after layer. The only difference is that with an onion you know what is beneath each layer — more onion. With Trump, as each layer is peeled away the revelations are unexpected, almost unreal, and more shocking than the previous news.

What will the news be like when Trump is no longer president? I'll probably stop watching.

Sunday 2018.5.6

Making Cooking Videos Again

It has been since January that I made a cooking video for YouTube. I really didn't feel like cooking anymore. It wasn't fun, and I wanted a rest. I didn't know if I would want to make another cooking video ever again.

My Kitchen Vlog videos are different. They're still fun. I sit down with a cup of coffee, look into the camera, and say what I want. I usually have a theme, but nothing is scripted. And much like Donald Trump, I might launch off onto a tangent at any time. (I really am the greatest.) Like that.

I really like vlogging because there is almost always something to talk about, especially if I've been following the news or reading one of the latest books about government or politics. And blogs are blessedly easy. When I finish a cooking video, I usually go to bed and sleep for a while. I was on my feet for hours. I get tired. But there is no work when vlogging. I can often shoot the video in one take, edit the video, and upload it to YouTube all in the same day.

Not to complain, but some cooking videos might require two or three days. Sometimes there is prep work and a starter might need to rest in the refrigerator overnight. If the weather isn't great, I can still finish the video because I have good studio lighting in my kitchen, but the final photography might need to be done the following day. And for a vlog, no shopping is required.

As an example, the ice cream video that I am featuring this week was done in three steps. If you look at the clock when I'm tasting the ice cream in the final shot, it's before 10:00 in the morning.

Although the ice cream video is featured on the home page this week, I added a graphic link here so that it will become a permanent part of my blog archives. To view the video, click the graphic.


Desperate Times Require Desperate Measures

Conservative U.S. House of Representatives members are seeking a Nobel Peace Prize for Donald Trump. Why? Here is another case of: "It doesn't take a rocket scientist…"

Republicans are well aware they could lose control of the House (and possibly the Senate too) in the upcoming mid-term elections this fall. Getting a Peace Prize for their president could fire up the Republican base and possibly save some congressional seats from falling to Democrats. Their request for a Peace Prize is nothing more than a desperate partisan ploy to win an election. Maybe the Republicans are losing faith in the Russians to get them elected.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is probably not so stupid as to be manipulated by such a shallow and desperate tactic. Trump is no Mother Teresa or Malala Yousafzai. He's a bully and a misogynist pig. I hope the Committee responds with a sharply-worded statement to the affect that their prizes cannot be bought for partisan purposes.


I mentioned here and in a Kitchen Vlog that I had a box of rabbit pieces in the my freezer and I was looking for a recipe to use it. Someone responded with a YouTube link in which the cook, dressed in period costume, demonstrates a recipe for "Jugged Hare." That sent me to my food encyclopedia to learn more about hare.

Jugged is the given name because the rabbit pieces were often cooked in a tightly sealed ceramic jug placed in a water bath and simmered for several hours.

Hare is a relative of rabbit, but larger. The encyclopedia also mentioned Jugged Hare as the most popular recipe for rabbit. It originated in Europe. A recipe appeared in the cookbook The Art of Cookery by Hanna Glass, published in England in the early 1700s.

Wikipedia also provides the French name, civet de lièvre, which sent me to my Larousse Gastronomique Culinary Encyclopedia for more information. If it is an older wild hare (12 to 15 pounds), such as jackrabbit, it is marinated for a day in an alcohol like cognac, drained and then slowly cooked in red wine with herbs and vegetables. A young domestic rabbit (3 to 5 pounds) doesn't need marinating. The liver and blood were reserved to make a sauce.

And that's what we call research.

I couldn't help noticing the similarity to Coq au Vin, chicken cooked in red wine. I set about to modify my findings to adapt the recipe for my Instant Pot. A slow-cooker, such as a crock pot, can be used, or even a saucepan set over a very low flame. I want to avoid red wine because I don't want to color the rabbit meat. I'll use white wine, maybe vermouth.

And so I moved the box of rabbit from the freezer to my refrigerator to thaw. I hope to prepare the recipe tomorrow.

Group Ride

Yesterday morning there was another Pedego group ride down in the city. The organizer, unfortunately or fortunately, could not attend because seven new bikes arrived in cartons late Friday evening and he had to assemble them. Two other people showed up and they decided they wanted to ride to the top of Gibraltar. I had never been on that ride; so I was enthused.

We started riding up, and up, and up, and up. I watched the battery meter on my bike go down and felt the fire in my legs. At one point they stopped and pointed to some antennas on top of a distant mountain. "That's where we're going," they said.

I thought, These people are insane! I told them neither my bike or my body would finish a ride that challenging. Maybe if I had charged my battery in advance.… They continued onward and I turned around and rode — mostly coasting downhill — back to the Pedego dealership.

It was good that Pat, the owner, hadn't gone on the ride. While we were away he sold a bike. Pat was alone at the store and seemed like he wanted some company; so I hung around while he assembled another bike, helping in what little way I might, like handing him tools. The ride and visit used up most of the morning.

Although he had left voice mail on my phone to say the ride was cancelled, I'm glad I didn't notice it and drove down into the city anyway. I enjoyed a shortened ride (7.8 miles, which felt like 20) and was able to visit with Pat for while, watching (and learning) while he assembled a bike. His girlfriend Emily showed up at noon, which gave me an opportunity to head home, feeling very good about the experience.

And I slept! I ate lunch and lied down for a nap. I was asleep at least two hours. I slept so soundly, I felt like I was waking up in the morning and thought it was strange that I wasn't under the covers, like I had slept through the night lying on my bed. After I got up I saw that it was only 4:00 in the afternoon.

I am already looking forward to the next ride.

Wednesday 2018.5.2

Smoked Salmon Quiche

Sunday afternoon, as planned, I made the Smoked Salmon Quiche and I must admit to smiling most of the time. This was the first real cooking I'd done since January, after having vowed a New Year's resolution to eat all the foods in my freezer.

There is a story that goes with smoked salmon that I might have told in a blog several years about. It would have been in 2012.

I had a friend, now a former friend, who saw that I had featured Spaghetti with Smoked Salmon Meatballs on my web site. He called me and his exact words were: "If you make that for me I'll pay for all the ingredients." I knew he expected me to pay for everything — I always had — and that he would get yet another expensive meal at my expense.

I told him what he expected. "I already have most of the ingredients." And I imagined him making a fist in the air and thinking Yes! Then I told him what he didn't want to hear. "You can buy what I don't have, the smoked salmon. That costs about $20 at Costco. "Oh … ahh … yeah … okay," he agreed, reluctantly. "And bring a bottle of wine," I said.

He showed up, looked around my kitchen, and saw that I had some cooking wine. "I brought wine, but I see you already have some; so I don't need to bring in mine." I knew what he was up to. He wanted to bring his bottle over to his girlfriend's home and get her liquored up, hoping to get some tail. I told him my wine was only good for cooking and to please bring in the wine he brought. He wouldn't.

We went to Costco. I saw the wine in the back seat as I was loading in the shopping bag with the salmon he bought. I slipped the bottle into the bag.

Back in my house, I popped the cork on his wine, saying: "This will need to breathe."

"Uhh … uhh … uhh …" he said, visibly dismayed. He behaved himself, but I could tell he was upset. I had foiled his plans. Striking the iron while it was hot, I let him know that I would cook for him like this in the future, but the deal is he pays for the groceries, I do the cooking, and I get half for my efforts. I never heard from him again.

To add a little insult to the injury, what he didn't know was that I had picked up the double-pack of smoked salmon in Costco and used only half. The other half went into the bottom of my freezer where it has stayed until this past Sunday. I detected nothing wrong with it; so I used it to make the quiche.

And if I need further justification, once a year he would invite me to dinner at his parents' home while they were away on vacation. He never had the ingredients he needed; so we went shopping. "Can you help with the groceries? I don't have much money." I paid for half. He made dinner, put one third on my plate, one third on his plate, and then gulped down his food quickly. "You didn't want seconds, did you?" he'd ask. I told him I didn't, at which point he hurried into the kitchen and filled his plate again.

Meanwhile, all the ingredients we didn't use went into the refrigerator for him to use later. So even when he invited me to dinner, it was mostly at my expense. As the cliché goes, with friends like that, who needs enemies?

As for the quiche: It was delicious! Here's a photo after it came out of the oven:

There is one piece remaining in the refrigerator. That will be my treat today (one of my treats — there is ice cream in the freezer too).


Well, as I have said many times (maybe too many times), every silver lining has a dark cloud. I went back to the dentist's office on Monday for the permanent crown. He needed to numb the tooth. And he tried. And tried. After four shots the tooth still wouldn't settle down and I endured as best I could. Ultimately, the crown wasn't a good fit. So I have another temporary crown again. I go back on Friday for another attempt.

The four shots left me a little woozy. I stumbled a little as I left the office, thinking I need to walk normally or they'll make me sit in the waiting room for an hour before they let me go home. I wasn't a danger on the road. The dentist's office is so close, I ride my bike there. When I got home I swallowed three ibuprofen, went to bed, and slept two hours.

Monday evening I soothed my frayed nerves with a dinner of smoked salmon quiche.

My Next Read

Having finished Madeleine Albright's book, I started reading a book by Ronan Farrow — War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence. Ronan is the son of actress Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. He was a news presenter for a while on MSNBC. So far, his book appears to be more of a challenge. He is evidently more erudite and write in a more complex manner. I've only just started reading the book; so I'll know more later.

I Scream for Ice Cream

I still planned to celebrate an empty freezer by making ice cream. The dentistry set my schedule back by one day, but I'm retired and home everyday. Yesterday I made (and videoed) the milk-egg custard mixture that goes into the ice cream maker.

Then I cleaned myself up (showered and shaved) and recorded the introductions that would serve for both the Kitchen Vlog and the Mobile Home Gourmet cooking video. I finished by churning the ice cream in my Deni ice cream maker. I didn't get to shoot the final photography because it started raining. Strange weather for the month of May, but I'll take it. It rained lightly but steadily for about two hours. My landscaping is thankful.

If you with to view the Kitchen Vlog, here is the link:


A friend is sending me a recipe for mango sorbet. With summer coming, I'd like to do a few videos of ice cream, sorbet, sherbet, etc.

I'm Glad I'm Me

I have a few skills to be thankful for. I understand how some things work. I know what to do when something goes wrong. My ice cream maker stopped churning after about 12 minutes. It was okay because the ice cream was churned enough, but it shouldn't have stopped at all. And it smelled like it might have been overheating.

I removed the four rubber feet from the bottom to expose the screws. After removing them I lifted off the cover. The grease on the gears inside was like gum. No wonder it stopped.

Three more screws freed the motor assembly and the gears were easily removed. Using an old toothbrush and some mineral spirits, I removed all the old grease. Then I lubricated the gears well with new grease and assembled everything. Plug the appliance in, turn it on, and it spins freely. It even sounds better. It's almost like having a new ice cream maker again.

In Every Life a Little Rain Must Fall

The original quote, worded a little differently, is supposedly from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I prefer the quote the way I worded it above because it scans like a line of verse from a Shakespeare play, and I like Shakespeare.

I mention it only because it rained here yesterday afternoon. Strange weather for May. It was a light rain, but it rained steadily for about three hours. My landscaping was well watered.