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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2020.8.9

Phew!

That organization project I've been blogging about is finally done. I finished Wednesday evening, just in time to watch "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" on MSNBC. The last part of the task involved solving a few problems — some duplicate files with different names and some unlinked files. I believe those are called "orphans" in web sites. There were only nine orphans to fix. Those were my mistakes, linking the files incorrectly.

Afterward, I did a complete backup of this computer, the first one since April 1. I also backed up the other computer; its last backup had been March 8. I used to do a backup every Sunday, but I let recent organization projects get in my way. Those are done.

What's Next?

I've been playing with "Cards" on YouTube. Without going through a lot of really boring details, I added a little flag, at about 5 minutes into each video, that links back to the recipe on this web site. I reference the recipe at the end of each video, but many people don't watch to the end. Five minutes into the video should be about right to alert them to the presence of recipes.

All those changes are now complete. Now it's time to start thinking about cooking again. Speaking of which…

Land of the Lost Recipes

There is only one, so far. Number 340. I do number them. If you look at the bottom of any recipe PDF you'll see the number in the lower left corner. It helps to locate the original files, either on this computer or in my database on the other computer.

Recipe #340, Chicken Ragu, is on this computer, but it isn't in my database nor on this web site. Nor do I have a video or photographs. There isn't even a PDF. However, it was evidently something I made in my Instant Pot more than a year ago, or planned to make. It is dated June 2, 2019. Perhaps I considered it not good enough. Maybe I simply forgot. Do I need to remind anyone how old I am?

But forgotten doesn't mean lost forever. I added it to my list of future projects to cook in my solar oven. It might actually work better slowly cooked outdoors in the sunshine rather than quickly cooked in my Instant Pot. And it will give me an opportunity to test my solar oven for heating water hot enough to boil pasta. Look for it in the future. Speaking of which…

That's More Like It

Friday morning I awoke to glorious sunshine here in SoCal. Not a cloud in the sky. It would have been perfect solar cooking weather, if I had my solar oven. On Thursday the sun didn't come out until after noon and it was only partially sunny for the remainder of the day. I sat outside and read, but I had to wear two shirts to keep warm. A cool breeze was blowing.

It was glorious while it lasted. Yesterday, and for the entire coming week (if the forecasts hold true), we're back to the routine pattern of morning clouds and maybe some sunshine in the afternoon. Temperatures are expected to remain in the low 70s. Pleasant weather, to be sure, but not encouraging for solar cooking.

I know how unwelcome that minor complaint might be to people in other parts of the country. They're dealing with sweltering heat and high humidity. I used to live in Connecticut; so I know. I moved to Southern California to enjoy better weather and, thankfully, I landed in Santa Barbara, near the ocean.

"Patience, Grasshopper"

I sometimes get irritated about some things. You might have noticed. (I won't talk about my neighbor's party outside my bedroom window that kept me awake until 2:00 in the morning.)

A while ago I blogged about ordering $150 worth of 7½ watt (equivalent) LED bulbs for my light sculpture, 40 bulbs to be exact. Actually, my sculpture holds 42 (and a friend asked me if that was intentional, a reference to Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy — some of you will know what that means). They were the perfect size I needed. I figured I could always order another box of four to complete my needs. Alas, they were no longer available. Until…

Yesterday evening I was looking through my Amazon wish list and the bulbs are available again. Specifically, they'll be back in stock on August 28th. I ordered another box of four. That should be enough. And, as I also said in those earlier blogs, I'll continue to use the incandescent bulbs until they burn out.

Wednesday 2020.8.5

Always Willing to Experiment

I mentioned in earlier blogs my efforts to stay out of grocery stores. One method involved the purchase of powdered milk and powdered heavy cream to make my own half and half for my coffee. The powders are pure dairy product, no additives. However, getting the powder to dissolve in a cup of hot coffee can be difficult. Lumps might float to the surface.

The containers suggest mixing the product with water in a blender and then storing in the refrigerator. That works well. Now I'm looking for an easy-to-clean small pitcher to hold my half and half coffee creamer.

Let's See What the Traffic Will Bear

My most popular video on YouTube right now is Fish & Chips. It has been at the top for many months. On Monday I edited the PDF, removing all the step-by-step photographs as part of my latest reorganization project. Will the fans notice? Or will they rely solely on the video as their guide? I'll know soon enough.

And Speaking of Which…

This week I received my July Google Search Report about this web site. What was the most searched-for recipe last month? Welsh Shepherd's Pie. Who would have thunk? I'm trying to think up a connection between that recipe and staying safe at home during this pandemic, but I lack enough imagination. Maybe people need satisfying comfort food. A recent magazine — I think it might have been a New Yorker — had something to say about the benefits of comfort food during stressful times. I don't have what I need, yet, but I'm thinking I could really enjoy some of Mom's American Chop Suey right now.

I haven't been in a store since June 30th, but I will probably need to go shopping again by the end of August. Many foods I can buy on line, but the 25-pound sack of flour at Costco is an unavoidable bargain. On line, the cost of shipping is nearly twice the cost of the flour. I've heard late in the afternoon, between 4:00 and 5:00, is the safest time to go to Costco.

Mistakes Happen

One advantage of doing all the latest organization of this web site is that I found a few mistakes. Rustic Bread wasn't listed under Breads in the Recipe Archive. Potato Chips wasn't listed on the Snacks page. Those and a few others are now fixed.

As for progress, I have fewer than 100 recipes to update. That, I think, will be the last of my organization projects for a while.

Oops

Not my mistake this time. I just received a notice from the California Franchise Tax Board, the state equivalency of the IRS, saying they did not receive my tax forms for 2018. I know I sent them because I have copies. I never failed to file on time. I sent copies yesterday.

There won't be a penalty nor interest. They owed me a modest refund. I looked back through my bank statements on line and, sure enough, I never received that refund. If I owe them interest for failing to pay, why don't they owe me interest for not sending me my refund? Because they have all the power and I don't.

I Have Never Seen So Many Clouds

It's August, not June. Typical May/June weather is overcast in the morning and sunny in the afternoon. We call it May Gray or June Gloom. Sometimes the cloudiness lasts all days, for many days.

It's something called the "marine layer," a blanket of low clouds that creeps in from the ocean during the night. It's usually gone by 11:00 in the morning. By July/August the marine layer stays out over the ocean. We rarely see clouds until late November.

I'm a bit concerned because during the next two weeks I expect to receive my solar oven. I will need sun. I'm already planning. On the wall above this computer is a list of foods I want to cook in my oven. My first attempt will be slow-cooked ribs. I'll need to decide whether or not to brown them, and how. In the air fryer? Under the broiler? With a propane torch? And when? Before? Afterward? I have plenty of time to think about it.

On the bright side: It has been a cool summer so far. Other than a couple of days when I needed to run the office air conditioner to keep my computers cool, my home has been comfortable. September and October are typically the warmest months; so we'll see how long this pleasant weather lasts.

Sunday 2020.8.2

More Organizing

What's next? When I started writing recipes for this web site I included step by step photographs. Then, almost at the same time, I started doing videos. Those are much better than the pictures, but I kept doing them anyway. People, however, told me they didn't use those photos; so I discontinued them several months ago and no one seemed to notice.

There was a problem: At the end of my older cooking videos I say to look for the recipes on my web site, which include a PDF with step-by-step pictures. I want to simplify those recipes, removing all the photos. Smaller recipe files will make backups easier and quicker. I'll include a note at the end of each recipe stating the photos were removed due to lack of interest. Besides, the video of the recipe preparation is a lot more informative. I'm reminded of a story.

Many years ago a friend bought his first computer. He called me. "Come over and show me how to use it."

"That's easy," I said. "Just switch it on and use it."

"No," he protested. "I need you to show me how to use Microsoft Word."

"Oh," I responded knowingly. "You want me to teach you how to use the software. I don't use Word; so I don't know how to use it. Read the manual."

He didn't like that answer.

The point being: A lot of people don't want to read instructions. They want to be shown how. My cooking videos accomplish that better than a series of photographs because I also provide spoken instructions. (I've seen many videos with no voice at all, just music.)

And another thing: I occasionally hear from people who want to print the recipe. It's on my web site, but they don't watch the video all the way to the end where I provide that information. As I'm updating these recipe PDFs, I'm also adding a YouTube "Card" to each video; that links to the recipe.

I set myself a goal of 100 updates before today. Late yesterday evening I finished my first 100. 261 to go.

Revisiting all these old recipes is giving me ideas. How about macadamia nut biscotti?

More About That Solar Oven

I was thinking that I might want to start yet another YouTube channel devoted to cooking in a solar oven. However, I quickly abandoned that idea. It took five years for my Mobile Home Gourmet channel to become popular enough to qualify for monetization. Solar Oven Cooking is such a niche idea, it might take ten years for the channel to qualify, if ever. So the plan is to revisit many of my published recipes and make them again using the solar oven. Besides, search for videos on solar oven cooking. They're there, but not many of them. It's a very narrow interest. (And I've seen most of them.)

I saw one web site that said the popularity of the oven increased dramatically during this time of pandemic. Evidently, with more people at home, they're doing more cooking, and using this oven outdoors keeps the house cooler in summer. Therefore, the company has a backlog of orders. Mine might not be shipped for a few weeks.

If I Might Be Allowed…

Pardon me for being a bit of a snob. My bad. I can't tell you how many cooking videos I watched on YouTube, all of them having to do with the solar oven. I don't know how many, but I watched LOTS. Really. Having to wait for my oven to be shipped gave me plenty of time to learn all I could.

Some people who do cooking videos, well, maybe shouldn't. I don't get it. They make a mess. The food on the plate looks like vomit. I'm not good at plating. I wish I was better at the presentation part of cooking, but I don't think I do it so badly that people turn green watching my videos. I really don't understand. If they want "Likes" and "Subs," you'd think they'd try harder to cook something appetizing and get a tripod to hold the camera steady.

However, I'm a firm believer in learning from other people's mistakes. It costs less. I learned a lot about the solar oven, and I learned a lot about what not to do when mine arrives.

Bummer

On Friday I broke my favorite coffee cup. It fell into the sink and shattered. And, of course, it is no longer available on Amazon. I could have bought a used one, but who wants a used coffee cup? I ordered a similar one, slightly larger, and with a glass lid. I like a lid for when I sit outside on the deck. It keeps the bugs out.