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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Wednesday 2019.2.20

Experiments

Not all experiments lead to good results, of course. Look at the attempts people made to fly. How many failures were there before the Wright brothers kept a plane in the air for a significant number of seconds?

I like broccoli. I love it. And I eat a lot of it. However, what can I do with the stems? I know they can be cooked and I know they are nutritious. Like many people, I cook and eat only the florets. So, I tried an experiment.

I assembled a simple smoothie of chopped broccoli stems, almond milk, yogurt, and a little pesto for flavor. It was edible. I drank it, knowing it was good for me. And I videoed the experiment. However, I couldn't bring myself to upload it to my SmoothieTube channel. I'm not that desperate for videos.

Another experiment worked a lot better.

I heard from a fan of my Mobile Home Gourmet YouTube channel. At the Costco near where he lives (Salt Lake City) he buys large 10-pound bags of frozen chicken wing pieces. They are individually frozen rather than in a clump; so it's easy to pull out a few when he wants them, usually once a week. Frozen, they cook in about 30 minutes in his air fryer.

I went to the local Costco. It doesn't stock the bag of wings. It's a smaller store, not like the big city Costcos. Maybe I could find the product at one of the other Costcos about 50 miles away, but there would be the cost of driving my old SUV (which probably gets about 10 miles to the gallon now) 100 miles. It wouldn't be worth it.

Instead, I came home with a bag of Foster Farms Honey BBQ Glazed Wings. They are frozen in clumps, but they're not impossible to pry apart. I cooked a few pieces in my air fryer.

First, I really like wings. I enjoy the flavor. A little salt and pepper is good enough to make them delicious.

Second, I understand there are people who eat wings like pasta — the wings are the vehicles that deliver delicious sauce to the mouth, whether ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, or whatever sauce they prefer. And that's okay. But I like wings without all that sauce.

I wasn't exactly pleased with the Honey BBQ Glazed Wings when they came out of the air fryer. They were good enough to eat, but not delicious. What to do? For the next batch, I filled a large bowl with hot water from the faucet, immersed some wings in it and rinsed off most of the glaze. Then I patted them dry with paper towels and placed them, still frozen, in the fryer. At 360°F (182°C) they cooked quickly — 15 minutes, turn them over, then another 10 minutes. I could probably cook them sufficiently in 10 and 10.

I liked the result. They had some of the flavor of the glaze, like they had been marinated, but the flavor of the chicken predominated. A light garnish of salt was all that was necessary.

Several months ago I did a product review of some pre-made pizza crusts. They were mostly awful. I heard from some fans who liked the review and asked me to do more.

As a quick aside, I'd actually like to do a side-by-side video comparison of DiGiorno "It's not delivery, it's DiGiorno" pizza and a pizza pie from a local pizzeria. I know which one will be better.

So I videoed my process of rinsing the wings and cooking them without the glaze. That video is currently unlisted on YouTube, but you can watch it now with this link:

Or CLICK HERE. The video will be published to the public in coming weeks.

And Speaking of Videos

I forgot to edit and upload my unboxing video of the OMorc Air Fryer I received free. Here is the link:

Or CLICK HERE.

Sunday 2019.2.17

A Pleasant Weekend

We enjoyed several days of rain. You might have heard something about an "atmospheric river" affecting the West Coast. It's a different kind of weather.

Most of the time the storms come through as "fronts," a band of rain that sweeps over the area, providing an hour or two, sometimes longer, of steady rain. It is usually followed by showers, on-and-off rain throughout the day. Some of the showers can be heavy, with thunder and lightning, but they only last minutes, not hours.

The "river" is a stream of tropical moisture that comes up from the tropics in a long line that extends from near Hawaii all the way up to the West Coast. Because it comes from the Hawaiian region it is sometimes referred to as the "pineapple express." The rain can last for two or three days, even longer, as a steady stream of moisture feeds into the area.

It fills reservoirs and can leave a thick snow pack on the mountains up north, which melts in the spring to provide additional water. But it can also fill city streets and low lying areas, causing local flooding and, in the worst cases, mud slides and debris flows, destroying homes and possibly taking human lives.

Where I live the rain was relatively mild. It might rain for 12 hours, then the clouds would break up revealing blue sky and sunshine before starting to rain again. Saturday was a pleasand day with plenty of sunshine and no need to wear a jacket. This morning there are occasional showers again, but no steady rain. It will be sunny this afternnon.

World News Discussion Group

With more than a little trepidation I attended the discussion group yesterday. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I believed the other two guys left the restaurant without paying their bill.

I wasn't sure what to do. I considered getting to the restaurant early and asking the waiter if we were still welcome. Doubt crept in. What if the guys really did pay, but I didn't see them? I decided to play dumb.

I did arrive at the restaurant early to order something I could nibble while waiting for the others to arrive. They're usually late. This time, however, I was more watchful. I made certain I saw the other guys pay their tab.

The association was enjoyable. There were four of us this time, but only two of us came prepared with any news to discuss. The other two listened. I don't mind. It's the association I appreciate. We enjoy visiting.

Wednesday 2019.2.13

So Far, So Good

This week is turning out to look like a good week. Yesterday I finished one project that had been weighing on my mind for a while. One of my neighbors is trying to establish her tiny little mobile home space as a wildlife refuge. She even has a sign on her coach declaring this to be so. Among her attempts to assist creatures are her bird feeders. She attracts a lot of birds.

There is one down side. During inclement weather the birds seek a dry place to shelter and wait out the storm. That place is usually my awnings. They would also roost in my awnings overnight. Pardon my negativity, but they make a mess.

A few years ago I put bird netting in my window awnings. It has been very effective. For a while, the birds would fly beneath the awning, see the netting, hover a few seconds, and then fry away to look for another dry place to stop. I see them less often now.

There is a large awning over each of my decks. The most popular one has been the cover for the rear deck. Yesterday I finished assembling a piece of netting. I needed 18 feet, but the netting has a maximum dimension of 15 feet. I needed to add more length, which could be a little tedious. However, mission accomplished.

Now I am planning the other deck and there is still the really long awing, 20 feet, at the front of my home.

Other Good News

It's raining again today (and there are no birds in the back awning). We are still in a serious drought condition; however, two of the local reservoirs are at 100% capacity and the large Lake Cachuma reservoir is about half full. More rain is expected tomorrow.

Reading

I just finished reading The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy by Greg Miller. I originally thought the title referred to the former TV show and maybe Miller was casting Trump as an apprentice president. In the last chapter, the epilogue, he referred to Trump as Putin's apprentice. One takeaway from the book was that Trump has never been able to accept or admit that he never would have won the election without the help of the Russians because that would mean Hillary Clinton won. He hates Clinton.

This morning I started reading Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House by Cliff Sims, former Special Assistant to the president.

Sunday 2019.2.10

Costco Rant

I'm going to let go for a little. I ask for your patience. Here's the story:

I was in Costco. I bought a rack of lamb and some Romano cheese. Before going to the checkout registers I stopped at the cell phone kiosk. I was looking at a phone, I think it was a Samsung J7, that costs $200. The salesperson saw me and said, "I can get you a much better phone for the same price if you're willing to switch to Verizon." I politely listened.

She said there were a few special discounts, a couple of which would end that day, and they brought the price of a Samsung Galaxy S9+ down to $200 from $930. She was amazed at how economically the phone could be purchased.

Costco was offering an in-store discount of $200. Plus, there were two cash cards, $30 and $200 that I would get, one immediately and one after I owned the phone for a while. That brought the phone down to $500. Then, Verizon was offering a $300 trade-in promotion. Bottom line: $200. I don't like big bulky slab phones, but it seemed like an excellent offer.

I brought home the cheese and lamb, put them in the refrigerator, and talked to a neighbor about the phone. I'm on T-Mobile; he's on Verizon. He likes the service. Finally I decided the deal was too good to pass up. I went back to the store.

She started to process the purchase. First, the $200 cash card offer wouldn't apply. It turned out it is offered only on purchases of the Samsung Galaxy Note9. Only the $30 card was valid. Then the $300 trade-in wasn't valid because I do not have a qualifying phone. So, the bottom line went from $200 to $700, not counting the higher cost of the Verizon service ($15 more per month than my T-Mobile service), plus insurance.

I balked. "You should buy the phone anyway because you'll have 90 days to change your mind." No, I already changed my mind. No phone.

I was exhausted. She talked fast, shuffled through papers quickly, and instead of really listening and answering my questions, she kept going back to what a great deal I was getting. I couldn't help wondering if she was really only interested in earning her commission.

I went home and sat down with a cup of coffee. It took a while to calm down, but I eventually did something genuinely soothing — I made pesto. Earlier in the day I bought four large bunches of fresh basil. It's not easy to find good basil in winter. Using my recipe for Pesto, I made the traditional pesto.

The plan is to cut the rack of lamb into 8 chops, grill one on a stove top grill to an internal temperature of about 125°F (52°C), which would be rare. Plate the chop, drape it well with homemade pesto, and add grilled broccoli or Brussels sprouts on the side. I'll do a video. The pesto, by the way, I made extra oily, in keeping with my keto diet.

Costco Rant Part 2 (it's better)

I started getting e-mail messages from Verizon about my account. What account? I finally found a customer support number to call. The Verizon representative was very helpful, although he told me to return to Costco and make sure the cancellation was properly processed there. Thankfully, Costco is just down the street.

When I walked up to the cell phone kiosk the original salesperson was there. She recognized me, thanked me for coming in, because she and her boss (he was there too) were working through the cancellation. I'll still get a bill for $78.96 because the billing cycle already started, but I don't need to pay it because the phone company is already reversing it. They suggested I might want to return to the kiosk again with the bill when it arrives just to make absolutely certain there will be no charge. I'm feeling better.

More Keto

The KitchenAid Spiralizer I mentioned in Wednesday's blog arrived early. It is a work of mechanical art.

I should probably mention my first serious job was fixing typewriters at an office machine store. I was formerly trained in Adler, Olivetti and IBM Selectrics, but I could fix almost anything. Most typewriters used the same mechanics. Olivetti and IBM Selectrics are different. I have a good mechanical aptitude. I'm glad I moved on to other jobs because typewriters eventually yielded way to word processors and then computers. I tossed my Adler J5 into the recycling bin several years ago.

I did a Kitchen Vlog video of the spiralizer unboxing and testing. I spiralized a zucchini into noodles ("zoodles") and used them in chicken soup rather than regular wheat noodles. It was delicious. Here is a link to the video:

Or CLICK HERE.

I'm still experimenting with the Chicken Zoodle Soup. I need to time how long to cook the zucchini in the broth to get the best texture, tender and al denté without being mushy. When I get it right, I'll make a video for my Mobile Home Gourmet channel.

Pedego Group Ride

The group ride was cancelled yesterday because of rain. We'll try again next Saturday, and that day will also be the next meeting of the World News Discussion group. I'm feeling a bit apprehensive. Will we be allowed in the restaurant again after the other two guys skipped out without paying their tab at our last meeting? I'll know on Saturday.

On the bright side the rain has been good. Moderate storms that have not caused significant damage here (although last week's storm closed the 101 freeway for a few hours). The Lake Cachuma reservoir is now at 50% capacity. It is raining again today and more rain is expected later this week.

Wednesday 2019.2.6

Jerk Chicken Wings

On Monday I experimented with a recipe in the cookbook (more like a cookbooklet) that came with my OMorc Air Fryer — Jerk Chicken Wings. Here is the picture from the booklet:

You must admit, the chicken looks very good. These look like they were grilled with a tomato-based barbecue sauce.

Here is a picture of my chicken wings, after following the recipe:

I didn't have any spray paints or dyes to color the chicken for a photograph; however, the chicken wings were delicious. I videoed the preparation. The recipe and video will are available now — see Jerk Chicken Wings. The video won't be published to the public for a while, but you can view it early from the recipe page. Click the green View the Video button.

World News Discussion Group

There will be no meeting on Saturday, as we agreed to meet every other week. However, something has been weighing on my mind: Will we be welcomed back at the restaurant when we meet again?

I paid for the dumplings I ordered, $15 with tax and tip, but two of the guys I was with skipped out without paying their tab. One of them, who is worth well over a million dollars, parks his car several blocks away where he can find free parking rather than pay for city parking (mine was $4.50 — hardly enough to cause a financial hardship). He ordered the cheapest thing on the menu — iced tea at $2. The other guy drank two glasses of rosé wine.

The cheap one worries me a little. If anyone offers to pick up the tab, he won't even offer to help with the tip. He says he hates to waste money. Evidently, any expenditure is a waste of money if somebody else is willing to pay.

My plan is to arrive at the restaurant early next Saturday and ask the waiter if we are still welcome. I'll explain. There is nothing wrong with telling the truth, even if he means ratting out on friends. What they did was unconscionable.

Call Me Mr. Gadget

I normally don't fall for the latest gadget advertized on TV or the Internet. One reason is that I don't have the room to store them. In fact, I will need to work through my shed soon and decide which items should be donated to the thrift store to make room for my latest acquisitions.

I have, however, been wanting to get a spiralizer since I started to do more cooking with zucchini. I almost bought the "Amazon's Choice" plastic manual hand-crank model for $30. But then I saw there was a KitchenAid attachment. I have the stand mixer; so another attachment seemed like the thing. Here is one photo, taken from the Internet:

Rather than the four-blade model (about $65), I chose the more expensive model ($90) because it comes with more blades. I like the idea of more flexibility. There is one model that is $20 less expensive, but it doesn't carry the KitchenAid name; therefore, I wasn't sure how good or bad the quality might be if it was a cheap knockoff.

Of course, the less expensive model could be manufactured by the same company that makes them for KitchenAid and sold without the brand name on it. Everything looks the same, but I can't be sure. If it is made by the same company, that’s good because they say it is assembled with stainless steel parts.

Do a little arithmetic and the two extra blades cost me $15 each. Okay, maybe not a bargain, but I'm hoping by using the device in some of my cooking videos it will eventually pay for itself. When it arrives I'll do an unboxing and testing video for my Kitchen Vlog channel.

Meanwhile, I've been watching a lot of KitchenAid Spiralizer videos on YouTube and I downloaded the user's manual in PDF format for advance reading. The spiralizer should arrive next week.

Sunday 2019.2.3

Considering Another Change

The SmoothieTube channel, although still relatively new, is not progressing well. I had hoped for better, but after careful analysis the outcome is not surprising. It's a channel with a very narrow focus — only smoothies. The number of subscribers hovers around 50, with an occasional addition or loss of 1. Most of the newer videos are viewed fewer than 30 times.

I'm thinking of moving, or copying, smoothie recipes into my Mobile Home Gourmet channel, maybe one per month. Having a duplicate video listed on two different channels might violate some policy of YouTube. I don't know. I did some research, as I enjoy doing, and learned something that could be useful.

One person reported no problems with the same video on two channels. Others said the YouTube algorithm might detect it and demonetize one of them, or the video could be deleted without notification. This happened to at least one person.

Another person made a suggestion that could be a handy trick, if it works. Edit the video slightly such that the play time and content is a little different. Then the YouTube algorithm would likely see them as two different videos. It's worth a try.

I plan to keep the SmoothieTube channel, at least for a while, to see how it does. When I add a duplicate to Mobile Home Gourmet, I'll include a link like: "To see all my smoothie videos visit my…" Ultimately, it would give my smoothie videos a little more exposure and because they would be monetized on one channel they would earn a little revenue to pay for themselves (although smoothies are not expensive to make).

Another Storm

Another storm blew, and really blew, during the weekend. Friday night through Saturday morning was the worst, with gusts predicted to be as high as 60 mph. At about 5:30 in the morning I gave up trying to sleep. By 6:00 I was sitting in front of a computer, sipping a cup of coffee.

Fortunately, the winds began to diminish during the morning. I still drive the same old 1993 Nissan Pathfinder SUV. (I say "old" because of the year, but it still has fewer than 70,000 miles on it — I don't drive much.) In high winds the vehicle doesn't handle confidently. That was a concern because I had to drive down into the city during the day.

Weather radar showed a squall line moving into the area from the west at a speed of 45 mph. That was supposed to be the worst of the weather, with heavy rain and potentially damaging wind. Thankfully, there was almost nothing behind it.

It was brief. By mid-morning the rain subsided and it was a lot safer to drive down.

The area in which I live always shows up in the radar as an island of no weather. Look at Goleta in the graphic below.

There is a mountain to the east that blocks the radar from the southeast. The radar from the northwest is blocked by the Santa Ynez mountain range to the north of us. It's almost amusing to see no sign of weather but hear the rain pounding on the roof.

I am especially thankful of one thing: There were no power outages where I live. I have oil lamps and an emergency radio, just in case.

World News Discussion Group

"World News" might not be accurate. All we talked about for two hours was Trump. One person in the group didn't make it. The 101 freeway was closed, again, due to heavy rain. It did rain a lot during the morning. I waited for a break, drove into the city, and then waited for the group to assemble. And I coped with another of my pet peeves — people not arriving on time. The first person showed up nearly 15 minutes late.

Otherwise, the meeting went well. One person finds the national news distressing. I recommended he read Jon Meacham's book, The Soul of America. Yes, times are bad, and it seems the bad news is all we see. However, times have been worse, but America always manages to recover. Do you remember the civil disorder in the 1960s?

We met in a restaurant called Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant. I wasn't sure what, if anything, I might eat that would be keto friendly; so yesterday morning I made Breakfast Sausage Casseroles again and ate one for lunch before leaving the house. I did order a dozen dumplings (pot stickers) for everyone to share — I ate a few — and I drank only water.

The Water Report

We are still living under extreme drought conditions here. With the heavy rains this past week, the latest Rainfall and Reservoir Summary from the county reports we are currently at 141% of our normal-to-date rainfall. Both Jameson and Gibraltar reservoirs are now at 100% capacity. Excess water that spills over the dams flow into the main reservoir, Cachuma Lake. That is now at 40.6% capacity.