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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2019.1.20

Enjoying Food Memories

When I was a child, I used to help my mother with some of her holiday food preparation. I couldn't cook or bake, but I could be trusted with simple tasks that weren't likely to cause me any injuries.

One treat mom always prepared each Thanksgiving and Christmas was an appetizer — celery pieces stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese and minced green olives. I remember those. Mom would chop the olives and give them to me with part of a block of softened cream cheese. I would mix them together in a bowl and then press the mixture into short lengths of celery. We simply called it stuffed celery.

As I grew older I was trusted with more of the preparation. We had a glass cup with a bladed lid. Put the olives in the cup, attach the lid, and then press down on a plunger several times until the olives were satisfactorily chopped. Then continue with the mixing and stuffing.

I don't like celery, but I ate a lot of those canapés because I like the cheese-olive filling. I haven't tasted them since I moved to the West Coast in 1975. They were something to avoid because of the calories in the cream cheese — 100 calories per ounce, 90 calories from fat.

All that changed this week. Cream cheese is recommended as one of the acceptable foods to eat on a keto diet. I went to the store, bought some Philadelia brand along with a jar of green olives stuffed with pimientos (because that's what my mother used) and made myself some stuffed celery. Yum. And no guilt.

More Good Food

At the store I also bought some chicken livers and Italian sausages. Another food I can enjoy is Chicken Liver Pâté.

When I was growing up in Connecticut, our pet dog was a Pekinese named HoTai. I really liked that dog. I probably spent more time brushing his fur, taking him for walks, and running with him in the cemetery (no cars) than the rest of the family combined.

Mom would occasionally buy chicken gizzards and hearts, sauté them, and feed them to the dog. He loved them. I got a taste of them and loved them too. Sometimes livers came with them, and that's how I learned to love chicken livers too. Pâté was only a matter of time.

Julia Child made pâté in at least one of her French Chef cooking shows. She provides a lot of good information about pâtés in her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. A true French pâté can be expensive, as she explains. However, I make mine simple and inexpensive. It's delicious. Even people who grimace at the thought of liver pâté have tasted mine and come away believers.

Even More Good Food

So, I was making the chicken liver pâté and I was wondering how I might increase the fat content. I had already used extra butter and olive oil when I cooked the sausages and livers. And then I thought about the cream cheese I have in the refrigerator. I added about a quarter of a block to the food processor when I added the cooked meats. After blending it I tasted it. OMG! It's delicious.

Of course, I can't eat it with toast or crackers, but I can spoon it into the groove in a rib of celery, which is how I enjoyed some. And I'm still having a difficult time accepting the claims that all these high-fat foods are good for me.

To Whom It Might Concern

I started making smoothies again, having learned enough about keto. The latest smoothie is Acai Almond Butter. I added the video to my SmoothieTube channel on YouTube. You can watch it by clicking this link:

Or CLICK HERE.

Wednesday 2019.1.16

Sunday's Feature Recipe

Sunday's feature recipe will be Breakfast Sausage Casseroles. I tried to get the video ready for this past Sunday, but there wasn't enough time. You can view the video early by going to the recipe page and clicking the green View the Video button.

I don't do breakfast. Coffee is all I want in the morning. If I remember correctly, the only other breakfast recipe I did was Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon.

I haven't been eating the sausage casseroles for breakfast. I save them for lunch or the evening.

More Rain

The big event this week is the rain. Although the forecast was for 100% probability of rain on Monday, hardly a drop fell. It sprinkled a little in the morning, but otherwise the day was dry with a few glimpses of sunshine. The weather made it easy to meet with friends for lunch. During the evening an emergency alert came in through my cell phone, urging an evacuation below burn areas. I don't live near a burn area; so I was safe. I checked the radar and saw no major cells of rain.

Early Tuesday morning was much the same. But by midday it began raining — a steady but moderate rain. So far, no catastrophes to report, just a lot of water streaming down the street. It's a good sign when the water drains away quickly enough not to flood my yard.

Rain later today, then steady tonight and tomorrow. Friday we'll start drying out and most models predict no rain for the remainder of January. So far, we're just a little above average for typical rainfall for this time of year.

Eye Opener

If you need some help deciding whether or not to give up fast food as part of you New Year's Resolution, watch the documentary Super Size Me. Morgan Spurlock embarks on a 30-day challenge to eat only foods sold at McDonalds, to see how it might affect his health. The film was made nearly 15 years ago when the trend among health professionals was to recommend a low-fat diet. No mention of carbohydrates. The trend today is toward low- and no-carb diets.

I don't eat fast foods, thankfully. Not that I never ate at McDonalds. Three or four years ago I had a cheeseburger, and four to five times during the past few years I ate a hotdog and drank a Pepsi at the Costco food court. Otherwise, I cook.

Cooking

As for cooking, I made more beef chili. There are now about two dozen servings in the freezer. I also made a large pot of keto-friendly Clam Chowder, substituting zucchini for potatoes and heavy cream for the milk. It's good and very satisfying. I put servings in the refrigerator, using a box of six bowls with lids that I bought at Costco on Monday — normally $17.99, they're currently on sale at $13.99. (To make room in a cupboard, I moved some seldom-used bowls out to the storage shed.)

I ate lunch with two friends on Monday. At the Chinese buffet I can be selective, more than usual now. Both friends would easily qualify as obese. One mentioned the difficulty he has trying not to snack in the evening. Thankfully, I have that covered. I like roasted pecans. For added flavor (and keto benefit) I drizzle them well with olive oil, spread them on a baking sheet, season with salt, and roast in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 10 minutes. I store them in jars.

This week I bought more pecans at Costco; almonds too. It doesn't take many to satisfy a craving.

Changes Coming

I am considering adding a new section to the Recipe Archive for recipes that I converted to be keto friendly. The clam chowder recipe will be one of them. I will also try to include keto recipes I've tried from books.

I am also going to add a new blog section, My Keto Blog, in which I'll write about my experiences on this keto diet thing. When ready, there will be an orange button on the home page, in the button panel to the left. I think I'll put that button on only the home page rather than all my pages, thus making it easy to clean things up if I should decide keto is not right for me and nix the blog.

Sunday 2019.1.13

No Feature Recipe This Week

Once again I didn't have a video and recipe ready for upload on Sunday morning. I spent the week researching keto dieting. I have several books. And I bought a book of keto recipes at Costco — Keto Restaurant Favorites my Maria Emmerich.

I'm not sure which direction I'll go in the future. I'd like to master a keto diet for myself, but cooking only keto-friendly foods would probably be unwelcome by visitors to this web site or to my YouTube channel. It's a dilemma because if I'm going to master the keto thing, I really shouldn't cook anything that is high in carbohydrates. Maybe I should just think of it as a new journey.

More Backups

Last month I blogged about the loss of the D: Data Drive on Computer 1. The Windows 10 backup system works so well, I decided to use it on Computer 2 also. The initial backup takes a while, but then things go quickly because Windows only needs to back up new or changed files.

Rain

We are finally getting some serious rain without dangerous storms, so far. I moved to California from Connecticut in 1975. One of the first winters was a rainy one. There was one period, when I was moving into a new college apartment, when it rain constantly for several days. It appears we will see that weather pattern again this week. It rained Friday night, heavy at times. If there was thunder and lightning, it didn't wake me up. Rain is predicted for every day this week. I don't know how heavy or steady it might be, but a gentle steady rain that drains away safely would be welcome. Hopefully we won't hear of any catastrophic mud slides or flooding.

When I retired, one pleasure I looked forward to was being home, warm and dry, with all the drapes open, watching it rain outside, maybe sipping a cup of coffee and/or reading a good book. I'm a home body. I like being in my own home.

Winter = Chili

The big-box grocery store up the street has beef chuck roasts and steaks on sale for $2.99/pound. That's half price. There were only two in the cooler case. I bought both. I love, love, love Texas Beef Chili in winter, especially when it's cold and rainy outside. If I eliminate the flour from the recipe (which is only 3 tablespoons anyway) I might make the chili keto friendly.

Something I found amusing this time: I didn't trim the meat of excess fat. Dump it all in. For a keto diet, more fat is better.

Another thing I find amusing about this recipe is the number of objections by people on YouTube because the late great Craig Claiborne, writer of the recipe, was the New York Times food critic. "What could a New Yorker possibly know about Texas chili?" I'll defend Claiborne by reporting that he was considered an afficionado on chili, having been a judge at many chili cookoffs around the nation, including Texas. I've been using his recipe since my college days, and I'm 67 now. I also have The New York Time Cook Book by Claiborne.

Before:

After:

If that second photo doesn't make you crave a bowl of chili, you might want to check in with your mortician. And at that price for beef chuck, I might buy a couple more packages.

Keto Report

I thought I might use my Sunday blog to say a little each week about my keto progress.

I'm still reading, learning all I can. I am also adjusting my diet a little as I use up my high-carb foods in favor of keto-friendly foods. Using up those foods will take a while. In the process, I'm also trying to reduce the carbohydrates I'm eating — no pasta, no rice.

I emptied a cupboard of rice, beans, and pasta. The beans were easy. I'd had them for a while and the "best if used by" date had passed. So I didn't even think about giving them away.

Thankfully, I like salad. I have a recipe for homemade Salad Dressing, which I modified by eliminating the sugar and increasing the amount of olive oil. I've been making salads mostly with leafy greens and I add a handful of roasted pecans or cooked shrimp or chicken for flavor and protein.

As for those pecans, pour some into a bowl, drizzle well with olive oil, toss to coat, and then spread on a baking sheet. Salt lightly. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 10 minutes. They make an excellent and filling snack to curb hunger.

Wednesday 2019.1.9

Boy, When Things Go Wrong!

This week someone suggested a better way to clarify butter. Place a block of butter in a metal cup and set that in water that is hot but not boiling. I'm out of clarified butter; so it was the right time to try his method.

I put a one-pound block of butter in a tall glass beaker and set it in a pan of water, which I kept warm by placing the pan over the simmer burner on my stove and setting the flame to low. A little later I heard a noise that sounded very much like cracking glass. Yep. I transferred the unmelted portion of butter to a stainless steel bowl and discarded the broken beaker. After the butter had fully melted I tried to transfer the bowl to the sink where I could safely gather the butter fat. I lost control of the bowl. Melted butter all over the stove and floor, and on the front of the knitted trousers I was wearing.

I put the trousers in the washing machine. The butter stains did not come out. I cleaned the floor and left the remaining mess for the following day.

As for the butter, it still had the foam on top when melting, something that was not supposed to happen. So, thank you very much, I'll go back to my tried and true method of clarifying butter, a method that has served me well for many years. But first I need to buy more butter.

As for that beaker, I can get a replacement. I really liked having it, but it will cost me about $35, maybe more. I'll keep checking E-bay.

Reading

This week I finished reading the book Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America by Seth Abramson. I know this won't sit well with the Forever Trump people, but if Robert Mueller has evidence of even half the accusations in this book, Trump is going to prison for a very long time.

We hear almost on a weekly basis some new allegation, indictment, or confession from people associated with Trump's presidential campaign. You know the names: Michael Flynn, Paul Mannafort, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Roger Stone, Carter Page, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, etc. — and those are only the American names. The list of Russians is long too.

Seeing all the charges all together in one book was almost overwhelming. Page after page of names and dates.

Not surprisingly, it came down to money. There was a lot of wealth to be had by Russians if they could make deals that were being blocked by American sanctions placed on them because of the annexation of Crimea and the Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine. Trump was part of the deal. If he would remove the sanctions, allowing the deals to go through, he would make millions.

What book is next? I have Keith Olbermann's book, Trump is F*cking Crazy, but it's a compilation of his rants in The Resistance videos he did on YouTube, many of which I saw. Instead, today I'll probably start reading The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy by Greg Miller, another book that probably won't make the Fox News Best Sellers list.

About the Wall and the Partial Government Shutdown

I think Trump is thinking more about his legacy than his base now. Time is running out. He knows he has only two years left. So he wants something big, something huge, something bigly yuge that he can point to and say, "See that. I built that. Mine is bigger than Barack Obama's. Mine is bigger than Bill Clinton's." Even if it doesn't have his name on it in gold letters.

Sunday 2019.1.6

Moderating Comments

I watched a useful YouTube video this week. I found it by searching: "Why moderate comments". Allow me to explain.

Most of my cooking videos are viewed only a few times per week, some only a few times per month. Almost no one comments. However, occasionally one video will go viral — at least viral for me. It might get hundreds, even thousands of views per day for a week or two, sometimes longer.

I watch my YouTube analytics. If a video suddenly goes popular — maybe it was linked on a popular web site or someone with a huge social media network recommended it — I change the comments rule for that video to "Approved only." That means every comment is held for my review. No one sees the comment, except the viewer who wrote it. At my leisure I review those comments and decide whether to approve them, delete them, or permanently hide the viewer from my channel (in which case all his/her comments are permanently hidden from everyone, even me).

It takes a serious offense to be hidden, but they do occasionally happen. I am not egalitarian when it comes to viewers writing comments.

Constructive criticism and better ideas are welcome. I am not the last word on cooking. Some people have better ways to do a preparation or season a dish. I learn from those comments, as I assume other do too if they read the comments. "Flaming" is not welcome.

The video I watched about moderating comments made a good point. By letting flamers attack others, we enable them. It's our responsibility to moderate because YouTube doesn't care. Each view, comment, thumbs up, thumbs down, and addition to a playlist counts as an "engagement" with YouTube and the more engagements a video accumulates, the more YouTube will promote it to expose viewers to more advertising, thus increasing their revenue. It's a sad fact of life and the Internet, but most issues boil down to money. Profit is god. Not sure? Review the criticism Facebook's Mark Zukerberg has been getting lately.

Even for me the issue of revenue ranks high in importance because of the time and expense I devote to making videos. I am not philanthropic and altruistic enough to do everything for free. I have bills to pay too. YouTube helps, as it did last month when I had to spend $1,300 to replace my home's water heater. The videos on my three other YouTube channels are not monetized; so the Mobile Home Gourmet channel supports those too.

And so I'm glad I watched that video about comments. He made some excellent points and they helped justify the sometimes heavy hand I use when moderating comments.

And Speaking of YouTube — More Statistics

On Tuesday I uploaded a Kitchen Vlog video wishing everyone a Happy New Year. I talked a little about 2018, but not to the same depth I covered in the last of last month's blog. If you didn't watch the video and want to, you can see it by clicking this graphic:

Or CLICK HERE.

In the video I said I averaged about 2¢ per video per day in 2018. Considering there are 350 monetized videos, they earn enough to pay for the food and cover some expenses. They certainly don't pay my bills each month, but that's okay; I collect a modest pension in retirement and I receive Social Security benefits as well. Those pay the bills.

I do monitor my YouTube analytics. My most important concern is that a video earn enough to pay for itself, especially in the first week. It's during that first week when it will enjoy its highest number of views, mostly from the channel's 24,000 subscribers (although they don't watch every video).

Last Sunday I uploaded my video for Keto Chicken Salsa Verde. How did it do? According to the stats, this past week it was watched about 600 times and earned around $3.00. That's about right. Considering I bought chicken and not fresh sea scallops ($24 per pound), the video paid for itself.

For this week's feature recipe and video I purchased chicken breast, which can be expensive, but I bought it on sale at 89¢ per pound. I used 1 pound. With other ingredients, utilities, etc., the total cost was maybe $1.50 to $2.00. If the video earns $3.00 this week, I'll be one dollar richer.

I don't earn much income from YouTube. It's only the odd video unexpectedly going viral that earns the big bucks. Last month one video went viral for a few days and earned $400. Now it's in decline again and will probably be insignificant this year. (I hope so; I'm planning to delete it and shoot the video again.)

Of course, I can't plan all my videos around ingredients going on sale at reduced prices. Sometimes it's necessary to buy something like fresh sea scallops. They add a little exotic variety to my channel, which makes my videos more enjoyable. Salmon Jerky was the big winner this past year. It earned $460 during all of 2018. That's how I justify spending as much as $50 to make a video that might earn only about $7.00 during an entire year.

I don't know which of my videos was the most expensive, but Filet Oscar comes to mind. It's made with beef tenderloin steaks and king crab legs. In its entire lifetime on YouTube, since May 2013, it earned $10.47. Thank you Salmon Jerky fans.

It's the Little Things

Maybe 20 inches isn't that little.

For many years I've enjoyed having a window fan in my home office. At 20 inches, it fits perfectly in the window. Slightly wedged in place, it wouldn't fall out.

I knew it would fail eventually. The plastic grill had broken up a few years ago and I replaced it with wire mesh. Finally, on Thursday, one of the plastic fan blades broke. I wouldn't risk running it. With one broken blade, the fan would be out of balance. That could lead to serious problems, like a fire. So, I disassembled it and tossed all the plastic and metal into the recycling bin.

I really liked that fan because it had a thermostat control in it. On days when it wasn't quite cool enough, but not too warm either, I could set the thermostat to control the fan. It would turn itself on and off as necessary. Alas, the fan is gone.

However, I liked the fan so much I kept looking for another one at Home Depot each spring when they stock their fans and air conditioners. Finally, after several years, I found another one, which I bought and stored out in the shed. On Thursday I put the new one in the window and I'm good again for many more years. But I'll still look in Home Depot this spring for another one to store out in the shed.

And, Finally, a Little About Death

It's a morbid subject, but it has been invading my dreams lately. One of my neighbors does not look well. He's ten years younger than I am, but he looks ten years older. I check on him regularly. He told me where to find the key to his home if I need to go inside.

Last night I dreamed aliens from space were trying to eradicate our human race. We were hiding underground, but as their ships passed over they would destroy our tunnels. We ran from one space to another. Finally, sensing it was useless, I gave up and let them bury me.

In another dream there was a popular cave out in the woods. I looked in and there was a man lying on a bed inside. I called to him. No answer. I touched his skin. He was cold. I decided to go away and pretend I knew nothing.

Wednesday 2019.1.2

A New Year Begins

The new year is not starting off with the most propitious of circumstances. On Monday July 31 I got out of bed and went to use the bathroom. There was water on the floor. I used my wet/dry vac to pick it up, but it kept coming. I turned off the water to the tub/shower. Still coming. I turned off the water to the toilet. Still coming. I went to brush my teeth and there was no hot water. Ah-hah! I opened the closet where the water heater is and there was water leaking.

It was an old heater. It was dated July 2000. I wrote the date on the side of it. So, after 18½ years, it was ready to go. I called a plumber. They could install one as long as I already had a new one ready for them —the supply companies would be closed until Thursday because of the holiday. A quick trip to Home Depot with the help of a neighbor and $570 later, I had the heater in my yard, ready for the installation.

I probably could have installed it myself. I installed the previous one. But that was 18 years ago. I was 49 years old back then. I'm 67 now. Let the plumber do it.

Cost? $730 in parts and labor because, naturally, they needed to bring everything up to code, which required a leak pan, extra plumbing, and better earthquake bracing (this is, after all, Southern California). I should mention there is a handy man in the park who would have done the job for a lot less, maybe only $100. But he doesn't do anything according to code. Mobile home parks are inspected regularly by state inspectors. I don't want any trouble.

So, although I did extremely well on YouTube in December (my best month ever), everything I earned, and then some, was spent on a new water heater. I'm not complaining. If it hadn't been for YouTube, the entire expense would have come out of my savings. And the installation is better than before. When this heater fails, there won't be water on the bathroom floor. It will drain outside.

Something New, Maybe (Besides a New Water Heater)

In last month's blog I reflected on 2018 and looked forward into 2019; so there is no reason to repeat that here. Something new is my interest in keto dieting. How to proceed?

I thought it might be better to start a second blog page, my Keto Blog, to discuss my journey, but I can't imagine what I might write about after I introduce the subject. After some really boring chemistry about ketones and stuff, I don't know how I would keep the blog going. So, if you'll indulge me, I'll bring up the subject from time to time here.

The Holiday

I didn't do much to celebrate New Year's Eve. I have a tradition. Each December 31st I listen to the KUSC radio show that comes out of the University of Southern California. Throughout the year they broadcast classical music, but starting at 7:00 PM on December 31st they do their New Year's Eve Bash. Besides an opera, and a Strauss waltz at midnight, they play many old-time radio comedies, such as The Goon Show, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Spike Jones, etc., and always an aria sung by Florence Foster Jenkins.

And maybe worth mentioning: I picked up a new book about Donald Trump — Mad About Trump: A Brilliant Look at Our Brainless President, done by the comic writers and cartoonists at Mad Magazine. Here's the cover:

It's not the first time Mad Magazine has gone after Trump. Nor is he the only president they ever targeted with their humor. They poke fun at everyone. Of course, there are many people who will be angered at Mad for joking about the president, but they had no problems with the negative things that were said about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I'll get email about it, which I'll ignore and delete. It's an amusing country.

And, finally, I didn't make any New Year's Resolution this year. Last year I resolved to eat everything stored in the freezer before adding any new foods. This year I want to enjoy reading more books.