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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2019.6.16

Happy Father's Day

Last month saw the celebration of mom. This month is dad's turn. Buy him another necktie.

Grilling On Hold

I needed to put a stay on my grilling adventures for a while. I have quite a supply of cooked chicken in the freezer for my Minute Meals.

Cooking Videos On Hold Too

I decided to repeat the summer schedule I enjoyed last year, publishing a cooking video every other Sunday. This is my slowest time of year. The revenue, what little of it there is, is down about 75% from December. That's normal. It will start picking up again in September. Meanwhile, I think I'll devote more time to smoothies and other beverages. Summer seems like the perfect time to enjoy cold and refreshing drinks. And I'm seeing an increase of activity on my SmoothieTube channel.

The Silver Lining

There is a new law here in California. I imagine other states must have something similar. To fly by any domestic carrier or enter some federal facilities, I need a California REAL ID style driver's license. It verifies my identity in ways that, I guess, my regular driver's license does not.

Among the documentation I needed to supply was a certified copy of my U.S. birth certificate. I have one, issued in 1956, embossed with the official seal of Webster, Massachusetts (where I was born) and signed by the Town Clerk. That wasn't good enough. Evidently I need something more official, providing more information, such as the names of my parents, etc. My 1956 certificate was good enough to get a passport (now expired), but evidently the DMV is more important than the federal government.

I was able to renew my standard-issue driver's license, which I did, but I didn't qualify for a REAL ID. What's the silver lining?

I hate to fly. I really do. If I never needed to step onto an airplane again, that would be fine with me. So now I have an excuse. If a close family member should pass away on the East Coast and I am expected to attend the funeral, I can say, "I can't fly. I don't have a valid ID." If someone I know up in Oregon tells me to come up to visit, I can't fly.

In these days of the Internet, I might be able to request a better birth certificate online. I'll look into it, maybe. I actually like the idea of being prohibited from flying. Mine might be a flimsy excuse to some, but if I can keep both feet on the ground for the remainder of my life, I won't complain.

SmoothieTube Expanding

I was in Costco yesterday, by design. I knew the Vitamix road show would be there for several days. A pleasant young woman behind the counter (she really was very nice) made, among other things, a fruit infused drink, sort of like flavored water. It was simple. Water, ice, strawberries, a couple slices of lime, and some sweetener. It was delicious. But there was something different — she used a new kind of blender jar.

It's called a Vitamix Aer Disc Container. It doesn't have blades like the conventional jars. It looks like this:

Look closely at that jar and you'll see it has blades in the bottom. But the Aer jar has that disc thing instead. What does it do?

It sort of extracts flavors from the fruits and infuses it into the water without chopping up the fruit much. You get a colored and flavored liquid, close to water, but with enough flavor in it to taste good. Most of the fruit stays behind in the jar.

I didn't buy the jar right away (it's $100 at Costco); instead, I went home and thought about it. Finally, deciding I could use the jar in my videos — SmoothieTube as well as Mobile Home Gourmet — I went back to Costco and bought the jar. I should probably also add it was easy. I live only a few blocks from Costco. I can walk there.

For my first drink I used water, ice, strawberries, a couple lemon slices (from my neighbor's lemon tree) and two packets of stevia (keto friendly). You can probably imagine the beverage. It isn't thick like a smoothie; it's watery like lemonade. But it has better flavor. I could taste the lemon and the strawberries. It would be a perfectly refreshing drink to enjoy on a hot summer day, maybe add a sprig of mint from my neighbor's yard for flair. Here's a link to the SmoothieTube video:

Or CLICK HERE.

Wednesday 2019.6.12

Grilling

With the addition of a lot more firewood, I'm starting to get into grilling again. Last year, if I remember correctly, I bought my grill and firewood toward the end of the season. Although grilling season is actually year-round here in Southern California, I expect the videos to be more popular during summer months in other parts of the world.

My latest grilling adventure was using a cast iron skillet on my grill. A little explanation might be necessary. My Weber grill's grate has a round removable center, which is to accommodate other accessories from Weber. One is a cast iron griddle, which gave me the idea to use my 12-inch Lodge skillet. It fits perfectly.

So a friend and I cooked chicken drumsticks around the perimeter of the grill and toward the end of the cooking time we cooked our vegetables in the skillet. Here is the thumbnail to the video:

Or CLICK HERE.

I also made a barbecue sauce for the chicken, the recipe is here: BBQ Sauce.

This experience is leading to other ideas. My wok fits in the opening too. I'd like to try cooking some stir fry, such as shrimp with vegetables and noodles. I can't eat the noodles on a keto diet, but it would make a good video.

One piece of hardware that I wished I had was a lid for that skillet. I have glass ones, but I was concerned about the intensity of the flames. At times the heat was over 500°F (260°C). I went onto Amazon and found a Lodge cast iron lid for $27. The information said it also fits the Lodge deep skillet pan that comes with its own lid, which I also looked at. It sells for $40. I figured it was a better deal to buy the deep skillet. For $13 more I would get the additional pan; so I ordered it. I think it might work well for braising.

Vlogging

At the request of some fans, I did another political vlog video this past weekend. Doing those vlogs is not easy because no sooner do I get a script written, the news changes. They also have a short life span. A cooking video I did several years ago might still be popular on YouTube, but a news vlog loses its pertinence in 24 to 48 hours. I try to generalize more, to increase the term of interest, but it still doesn't add much longevity.

Here is the link to my latest vlog:

Or CLICK HERE.

Meanwhile…

I'm setting up to do another Kitchen Vlog today. In the past I discussed how I make fire starter briquettes from junk paper (those ads we get in our mailboxes every week). When doing more research, I saw that some people make them out of corrugated cardboard boxes. I might have mentioned it before. I want to demonstrate making those briquettes.

Sunday 2019.6.9

The Drought is Over

During the runup to the local elections last year I spoke with someone who was running for a seat on the local water board. When asked about the reservoir, he said all our water comes from wells. The reservoir is reserved for the state's water allocation system.

This week we received another newsletter from the district. On the front page it says, "The majority of your water comes from Lake Cachuma." Several wells were also used throughout the past year.

The important notice was: "Significant winter rains in 2019 lead to a 100% Lake Cachuma allocation and the suspension of mandatory water restrictions." With those restrictions gone, I can wash my coach again. It needs it.

Enduring Another Little Scare

Yesterday morning a window opened in my web browser, warning me my computer was locked by Microsoft for one or more of several reasons. One was an illegal copy of the Windows operating system — a lie because I bought my fully legal versions of Windows 10 from Best Buy. Another possible reason was that my computer was sending viruses to others — another lie because I'm very careful about using my virus scanning software; my computer is clean.

I was warned not to close the browser window or shut down my computer. Instead, I should call an 800 number for more instructions. I shut down my computer. When I restarted it I ran a virus scan and no threats were found.

I was 90% confident it was a scam, but there is always that little bit of doubt in the back of my mind: What if the threat is real? The 90% was good enough. I did some research on the Internet and it turns out these scams are quite common. The authorities shut them down, but they pop up again as soon as the perpetrators get another 800 number. My computer has been working flawlessly.

Reading

If you have followed my blogs for a while, you know I read books. I started reading Michael Wolff's new book, Siege: Trump Under Fire.

I like books because they provide all the extra information the TV news never reports. Even the news web sites can't give us the whole story. One incident struck me as important: Someone (unnamed) very familiar with Trump's business dealings, was subpoenaed to appear before two of Mueller's investigators to answer questions. At the end of the day he said he felt shocked — not by the questions asked but by how much the Mueller investigation already knew.

Not in the book: Nancy Pelosi explained to Jimmy Kimmel one reason why she doesn't want to impeach Trump. If the House votes to impeach, it would then need two thirds of the Senate to approve, which would never happen. When Trump is no longer a sitting president, he can be indicted. However, his legal defense team can argue he was already tried by the U.S. Senate and found innocent of all charges. He can't be tried again for the same crimes because that's double jeopardy, which is a violation of the Constitution. And that's why Trump wants the Democrats to impeach him. The Senate would exonerate him and he would not be in legal jeopardy when he leaves office, likely in January 2021.

Wednesday 2019.6.5

Enduring a Little (?) Scare

One of my friends called me on Monday to say someone was using my Facebook account to message him, asking for money. My friend is tech savvy; so he was able to determine the source coming from Nigeria. He said he'd report the scam to Facebook. Meanwhile, I called my ARAG identity protection service to let them know my personal information might be compromised. They put a credit alert on my account.

As for Facebook, I never use the social media site anymore. I created an account for promoting my YouTube videos and this web site. It never did any good; so I stopped. I should have deleted the account a long time ago. I started the deletion process on Monday afternoon.

Grillin' and Chillin'

A neighbor offered me all his white oak firewood, some of which is split and some isn't. The wood is well seasoned, very hard and therefore good for grilling with plenty of heat. Here's a photo of my firewood rack, which was nearly empty.

Many of the pieces are too large to use in the grill. However, I bought a small economical electric chainsaw and used that to cut small pieces I call "chips." Those are in the buckets. It takes a while to get the wood burning, but once it gets going it burns for quite a while.

I invited a friend over for grilled chicken and pan fried broccoli and onions. How to pan fry on a
Weber grill? Mine has a removable center grate. The hole in the middle is perfect for my cast iron skillet. This is what the setup looked like after we finished cooking.

The chicken was grilled around the perimeter and the broccoli and onions were cooked in the skillet. That grill grate, by the way, soaked in a solution of degreaser and water overnight and was then scrubbed clean the following day. It looks like new. As for the foil, at the end of last summer I tried to clean my grill and it was very difficult. I decided to experiment with foil this year. I'm still experimenting.

As for the chillin', I opened a bottle of syrah and we sat around the grill waiting for the cooking to be done, sipping our wine contentedly. It was a very satisfying afternoon. I didn't take any pictures because the exercise was also an experiment. We plan to do it again, with a few adjustments (don't get the skillet so hot) and do a video for my YouTube channel.

And, Finally, Tortoises

Two of my neighbors have a pair of tortoises. I promised to take a photo for my blog. So, here I believe is an Egyptian tortoise, which I was told is rare.

They're a lot quieter and better behaved than their two dogs.

Sunday 2019.6.2

What a Difference a Shampoo Makes

To be honest, I was keeping my expecations low regarding the Bissell Big Green Machine carpet shampooer. There was no reason to. It works well.

On Thursday morning I did the large area rug under the dining room table. The part under the table didn't look dirty. It was the area around one side of the table, where the rug gets the most traffic, that I didn't think would ever come clean. It did.

Now, granted, I don't overhaul truck engines on that table. I don't even eat there very often — I mostly carry my plate to one of the desks in the office. However, the high traffic area looked awful. It cleaned up well. I'm very pleased with my purchase.

Meanwhile, Thursday morning the office chair mats arrived by UPS. I was surprised to see they were rolled up and boxed for shipment. I followed the directions, placing them outside in the sun to warm up. Still, they were difficult to unfurl. Despite that challenge, I like them. They will protect the carpeting and the hide an area that was a little worn from my office chairs.

On Friday the new stack of Blu-ray blanks arrived; so I'm back to my archive consolidation project. I also received the six "double walled glass mugs" I ordered. The next time I make Cheddar Broccoli Soup I'll portion it into those mugs for refrigeration. I really enjoy sipping that soup out of a mug when I'm feeling hungry.

Cooking for One?

I'm thinking of expanding my Mobile Home Gourmet channel to include videos of "Cooking for One" recipes. These would be simple and quick recipes or procedures for those who want to put food on the table in minutes after coming home from work, or for retirees like myself who live alone and don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. And, with summer coming, these quick meals might be a good option for warm days when we might not want to be in a hot kitchen for more than a few minutes. The first of these videos, Grilled Lamb Chop, is linked on the bottom of the Home Page in the Advanced Viewing section.

Instant Pot Revisited

Yesterday I returned to my Instant Pot, this time preparing a Spicy Chicken Stew adapted from my Keto Instant Pot cookbook my Maria Emmerich. I say "adapted" because her recipe called for two pounds of Italian sausage meat, the equivalent of eight sausage links and only two chicken thighs, about 12 ounces. Spicy Chicken Stew or Spicy Sausage Stew? I cut the recipe back to 1 pound of sausage meat.

The aroma that soon filled my home was very enticing. I was reminded of days when my mom prepared her spaghetti sauce from scratch. She wasn't a great cook, but there were several foods she made well. I still make my Marinara Sauce the same way she did, but I use a blender for convenience (something I learned in an Italian cooking course).

I would definitely make this recipe again, maybe adding it to my Keto Recipe binder in my kitchen cupboard; however, next time I would use two sausages (or half the recommended sausage meat) and four large chicken thighs. This stew didn't taste of chicken, but it was delicious because I really like Italian sausage. Here's a photo.

Another thing I would change is I wouldn't use any cayenne. It does weird things to me. I get jittery like I've been drinking too much coffee. It takes a few hours for it to go away. Thankfully I didn't have any difficulty falling asleep last night.