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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2019.10.20

Day 3

On Thursday I tackled the gutter in the other awning, the one over my front door and porch. It's shorter and it wasn't as full with debris as the one on the other side, but it was still messy. My porch looked the same as my deck pictured in Wednesday's blog. However, I completed the project all in one day and finished by washing everything down, from top to bottom and then using the pressure washer to push all the mud down to the end of my driveway and into the street gutter. Winter rains will take it from there.

Those two gutters were the worst of the project. Washing the siding will be easy by comparison and nearly half the home is washed already. I have a little remaining to be cleaned on the north and south sides, then I can do the west side, which has a full-width awning but no gutter — rinse, scrub, then rinse again.

However, there is no hurry. I am tired and achy. A few days rest before I pick up the project again will be a welcome respite.

Reason for Concern

There is a method to my madness with the awning gutters, and the downspouts too. According to long-range weather forecasts, Southern California is expected to receive higher than normal rainfall this winter. Our rainy season typically starts some time in November and ends in April.

The gutter over the back deck was my biggest concern because it was full to the brim with debris. Runoff from the roof never made it to the downspout. It just simply overflowed the gutter onto my deck. There was a vine growing up there. Using a mirror and a flashlight, I inspected both gutters. There is still a thin layer of mud in the bottom, but I'm hoping the winter rains will rinse that away. If not, they'll get another cleaning in spring.

I'll need to climb a ladder to inspect the roof eave gutters, but those are open on top. If they need cleaning, it will be easy and should go quickly.

Status Report

Back in May (was it that long ago?) I wrote about covering my computer keyboards with plastic bags to keep them clean. This week I changed one cover, again, and saw the keyboard absolutely clean inside. It's a little strange to type through a plastic bag, and it took a while to get used to, but I consider the effort worth it. Cleaning these keyboards regularly was a nuisance.

No-Crust Pizza

Saturday I tried to do a video of making a pizza without a crust. It's for people who are gluten intolerant or who might be on a keto diet. The idea came from a fan of my YouTube channel. She makes them for her son. They are super easy to make; so the plan was to include it in my series "Cooking for One." Tried is a tell.

I've made plenty of these, and they always turn out well. This time, however, I couldn't flip them over into another skillet, which I've done successfully plenty of times. However, after two tries I gave up. The second attempt was the worst. The thing fell onto the burner of my stove. This is how my stove looked after I salvaged what I could to finish the video.

Watch the video. This is our little secret. I scraped most everything off the stove and smeared it onto a plate. At the end of the video I faked enjoying my No-Crust Pizza, and then I walked away pretending I was going to sit outside to eat my lunch. We call that acting. I didn't do several years of college theater for nothing.

I was out of mozzarella cheese and I didn't feel like making another trip to the store; so I combined clips from two video attempts to put together one that I hope will not be a disaster for others, if they try making it. I thought about including the accident as an outtake at the end of the video, but I didn't want to discourage anyone from trying it. As I said, I've made these many times and every time it came out successfully.

Here's the link to the recipe. Click the green View the Video button to watch the YouTube video:

Or CLICK HERE.

And, Finally, the Weather

It takes a while for summer to depart SoCal. Here it is October and we're still seeing some very warm days. Friday it was about 80°F (27°C). Yesterday it was forecast to be 81°F, but my outside thermometer recorded 90° with 18% humidity by mid-afternoon.

We've been under a Red Flag Warning (high fire danger) since Friday. It is supposed to be lifted late this evening. Actually, Monday and Tuesday are forecast to be warmer, but it was the high winds and low humidity that caused the warning. On the bright side, it's a good time to do laundry.

My biggest concern is the loss of electricity. If a fire burns beneath the high voltage lines supplying this area, the smoke can cause arcing and knock out the power, sometimes for hours at a time. I prepared. I brought my storm lanterns in from the shed and I made sure my oil lamps are working properly.

Wednesday 2019.10.16

Defeating the System (or at least circumventing it)

I'm not much of a revolutionary. In my younger days (much younger) I was opposed to the Viet Nam (AKA Vietnam) war and I was mildly active in my protest of America's involvement. Granted, I was of draft age then and the draft was still being used to send young Americans to fight in Viet Nam. I didn't want to go. Fortunately, my draft number was high and the Army didn't call my number that year.

Now, at 68 years of age, I don't do much by way of protest; but I still have an attitude. This past weekend I thought of something Maude said in the movie Harold and Maude. "Still fighting for the big issues; but now in my small individual way."

I mentioned in Sunday's blog the opening of the new Target store here. I decided I wanted a Red Debit Card. I went online to fill out the application. One of the "required" fields was for my phone number. The application made clear: "You agree to receive autodialed and prerecorded message calls or texts from us or others acting on our behalf." In other words, phone spam. No.

Thankfully there are web sites where you can make use of a temporary phone number. I've used them before, such as when a web site needs to send a validation code as either a text or voice mail. You get the code, verify your account, and then close the page with the phone number. Done and forgotten. I used such a number in the debit card application. All went well. No verification code required. My new card is on its way.

As I also said in Sunday's blog, today is the store's "soft opening." As planned, this morning I rode my bike there — giving myself a good excuse not to buy anything too large to carry home on a bicycle. I arrived just as the doors were opening at 8:00.

I looked for shirts. The selection was not great. Most of their shirts were labeled slim fit. I'm not slim. But I did buy a denim shirt for about $25. I brought a tape measure with me. I know what fits — 34/35" from center back to end of sleeve and 28" from side seam to side seam. For length, a shirt should be long enough such that when I hang my arms at my side my fingers should curl and get a good grip on the bottom hem at the side seam. The shirt satisfied all my requirements.

I also looked for a burr coffee grinder, which Target offers on their web site and stocks in some stores, but I didn't see it. If I decide I really want it, I can order it online.

Other Benefits

If I read their web site correctly, Target promises Red Card holders free two-day store-to-store delivery on items not available in the local store (no minimum purchase) — all the more reason not to pay for Amazon Prime. I live within walking distance, and easy biking distance, of their nearby store. And Target gives an automatic 5% discount on each order paid for with the Red Card. So even though the store's price might be higher than Amazon's on most items, the discount and free delivery could beat Amazon's best price, or at least be worth a little extra for the convenience.

I Got Started — Day 1

In Sunday's blog I wrote about "itching to get started" cleaning my deck's awing with the gutter attachment for my pressure washer. It was scheduled to arrive yesterday; it was delivered on Monday, a day early. While I waited for the UPS truck, I used the garden hose to pre-soak the debris in the gutter, hoping that might make it easier to flush out.

I wasn't sure what might splatter out of the gutter; so I moved all my potted herbs off the deck railing. The chair was brought inside. I also removed the down spout so that I could see the water coming out. Clear or muddy? Mostly muddy.

Initially I used only the wand without the nozzle tips, hoping to flush out the majority of the debris. That didn't work. So I added a nozzle and did more cleaning. Black stuff splattered all over my deck and the side of my home, and on me. What a mess! Here's a photo:

My trousers were so filthy, I stripped down just inside the door and tossed them in the tub where they were rinsed with the shower and put into the washing machine. I knew they wouldn't come out clean, but I only need them good enough to be worn. When this major cleaning project, including the exterior siding on my home, is complete, they'll go into the trash. I have others.

And that was only day one. Things were put on hold when the tip of the wand came loose and fell into the gutter. It was too deep to reach with my fingers. A flashlight, a mirror, a piece of wire and way too much time were necessary to retrieve it. How did it happen?

There is a ring as part of the quick-connect coupler. Pull the ring back and it releases the nozzle. Evidently, pushing the nozzle into the gutter pulled the ring back and the water pressure pushed out the tip. How can I prevent it from happening again? It turns out there is just enough room above the ring to fit a plastic wire harness (zip tie) in there, preventing the ring from being pulled back. Here's a picture:

So that should prevent the problem from happening again. And, fishing around in the gutter trying to retrieve that nozzle revealed much more debris in there, much of it hardened into clumps. It took more work to clean out that rain gutter.

Yesterday Was Day 2.

Day 2 went a little easier. It was just as messy, but the nozzle didn't come off the wand. My idea with the cable tie worked perfectly.

This time I started at the far end, furthest from the opening for the down spout, and I kept pushing the pile of debris along, a little at a time, until the whole mess fell out of the opening. There was the usual amount of splatter, but that part of the task was done. Then I washed the awning, siding, deck railings, deck, stairs, and finally the siding around the skirt of the deck. Some scrubbing with a brush and soapy water will be necessary to finish the job later, but that job will be easy, compared to that gutter.

No job is finished until everything is put away. The pressure washer is back in the shed, along with the tools I used. The potted herbs are back on the railing. And my deck chair is back in its usual place. I sat outside with a cup of coffee for a while, appreciating the hard work I had completed.

As I said in Sunday's blog entry, if I do this task every six months, it should be much easier and make less of a mess.

You Might Be Wondering…

How is the Dymondia nursery doing? A while ago I attempted to root some clippings to eventually use to fill bare spots in my yard where the Dymondia had died. Here's a photo:

It's easy to see which clippings rooted. Maybe half. Later this month or early in November (after I finish washing my home) I'll plant the survivors, discard the deceased, and start new clippings. I have a little jar of rooting hormone. Will that improve the survival rate? It's worth an experiment.

Sunday 2019.10.13

Itching to Get Started

I sit on my deck for part of each day, enjoying the fine weather, and usually a cup of coffee. Often I have my laptop computer out there with me. The unsightly appearance of the awning and siding are a constant reminder that I need to start cleaning with the pressure washer I bought. However, I know what a mess the awning's rain gutter will leave behind when I clean it out. It's full to the brim with debris from the juniper tree. Things are growing up there. So it's best to get that job done first, then clean the awning, siding and deck.

However, I must wait until the gutter wand extension arrives from Amazon. Sometimes Amazon ships quickly, within a day or two. Sometimes they hold an order for a week, maybe to encourage people to sign up and pay for Prime. This morning I received an email saying it was shipped and would be here on Tuesday.

How much is Prime these days? $120 per year? That's $10 per month. If I occasionally use items on my wish list to raise an order to the free-shipping threshold, it's like getting those items for free. I order from Amazon fewer than a dozen times per year; so I think of it as getting about $100 of free stuff per year.

Meanwhile, on Thursday I decided to clean the awnings (no gutters on that side) on the east side of my home. It was so much work, I only did one that day. The pressure washer removed most of the grime, but the job required more than a little scrubbing with soapy water. On Friday I did another awning, and feeling a little adventurous, I washed that entire side of my home. Again, soapy water and a scrub brush were necessary.

And that brings up a question: Couldn't I have done the job with a brush, a bucket of soapy water, and the garden hose? Maybe, but I think the pressure washer works better. It cleans off most of the loose stuff in the first pass and gets into the nooks and crannies where the spiders like to live. Scrub, then follow up with a good rinse.

Now that I have this pressure washer, I think cleaning the exterior of my home every spring and fall (rather than once every ten years) would prevent the kind of buildup that is now making the task so difficult. At the very least, clean out that awning gutter because the juniper tree isn't going to stop dropping debris anytime soon.

The Weather

The weather outside was another issue. It was simply too warm to work too hard. Where I live the daytime temperature climbed to almost 90°F (32°C) and the humidity dropped to nearly 10% on Friday. Laundry weather. I only did one small load, but it mostly got me caught up. Saturday I did towels. Then, back to sitting outside on the deck and enjoying the warm weather.

Yesterday's News Discussion Group

I used to call it the World News Discussion Group, but it seems all we talk about these days is Donald Trump's latest acts in violation of law and the US Constitution. Most of it was enjoyable. I don't learn much because I read a lot of news on my own, but it helps to hear other members' opinions on the same news stories.

And One More Major Event

The new Target store, replacing K-Mart, opens on Wednesday. That's the "soft opening" with the Grand Opening scheduled for Saturday. I'll bike over there during the week to look for shirts. I have more than enough "show shirts" that I use only when shooting videos, but I could use a few more shirts for regular day wear.

Wednesday 2019.10.9

A Good Week So Far

Age has its advantages, wisdom among them, but also its disadvantages, such as age discrimination. I was once young and although I got along well with older people, I was a teenager during the 1960s when it was common to hear or read: "Don't trust anyone over 30." Now I'm 68.

It does feel good to be useful to someone. I was sitting on my deck last week when I noticed a young neighbor — a college student — messing with his bicycle and then walking out of the park. Something was evidently wrong with his bike.

The next day he saw me outside and asked if he could borrow a wrench. He wanted to switch a front wheel with another bike because the one on his bike had a flat tire. Why not fix the flat? I told him I had an inner tube (actually two) out in the shed because I once had a pedal bike. I suggested he bring the wheel over and I'd fix it for him.

I didn't even suggest a price for the tube because I had no use for it. It was only taking up space. My Pedego e-bike, although it also has 26-inch wheels, uses a slightly wider tire and tube.

He brought over the wheel and although he probably could have done the job himself, it was enjoyable to take apart the wheel and replace the inner tube. I even showed him where the puncture of the old tube was and recommended he buy a patch kit at the campus bike shop, which he did. That tube could be patched and saved as a spare.

It wasn't much of a job and, as I said, he probably could have done it himself. But it felt good to be useful to someone and he has since been a little more friendly and appreciative. No one wants to feel like they're only good to be put out to pasture.

I Love Having Two Computers

Actually, I have three. One is a laptop that I use mostly for email when out of the office (or when sitting outside on my deck).

On my desktop computers I have my most-used software. One set of programs in particular includes two versions. I mostly use the older version because it works fine. I don't need the latest and the greatest. However, on Monday morning I decided I wanted to try using the newer version, just to see how it might compare. When I launched the program the computer displayed a dialog box telling me that a ".dll" file was missing and the program couldn't continue. Huh?

I went to my other computer and launched the same program. It loaded fine. Ah-hah! I did a search for the missing .dll file, found it, and copied it to a flash drive. Then I copied that file to the directory where it belonged on the other computer.

Problem solved. The newer version of the software loads fine. I don't know how much I'll use it, but I like knowing that it works as it's supposed to.

An Experiment That Didn't Work So Well

One problem with grilling with oak is the smoke. Some pieces come out of the grill almost black. They're not burnt. It's soot. I can't imagine that would be good for a healthy body, no matter how good it might taste.

So I wondered… How would it work if I loosely wrapped a piece of meat in foil and maybe poked a few holes to allow in a little of the smoke flavor.

I marinated another piece of pork shoulder and wrapped it as planned. I started up my grill with oak wood and started cooking the meat. I wanted it slow-cooked at a low temperature, similar to how I would cook it in my air fryer; so I placed the food away from the heat source. Here is a photo of the foil packet on my grill.

That brick is to allow some of the heat to escape to keep the temperature low, around 200°F.

What didn't work so well? Rather than using plum sauce like I did in an earlier experiment, I used oyster sauce as the base for the marinade. That gave the meat a slightly fishy flavor. That might be okay for some foods, but for the pork I used, which was fresh, it made the meat seem like it might have been partly spoiled. It simply wasn't the correct flavor to use on that cut of meat.

However, it wasn't a total failure. The cooking went well. The meat was on the grill for three hours. I added a little more fuel when I needed it. Here is a photo of the meat when I opened the foil.

With the right marinade, this process of cooking would work quite well. The surface of the meat looked appetizing, not dark with smoke, and the flavor (other than the oyster sauce) was delicious. I want to do this procedure again with chicken and a milder flavored marinade. If that works well, I'll do a video. Teriyaki sauce?

And Something That Did Work Well

I purchased a Ryobi electric pressure washer for cleaning my home. And I also bought an 18‑foot extension wand for reaching the highest places.

We've been under a water moratorium for several years because of the long-lasting drought. It was illegal to wash the exterior of our homes, our driveways, and some even said our cars. I occasionally took my car to a car wash.

Due to the abundant rains we enjoyed last winter, the moratorium was lifted. The outside of my home is filthy — spider webs, dust, soot from a few local fires. The inside of my awnings look awful. I see them everyday when I open my curtains and when I sit outside on the deck, which had its own awning.

I did a video of the unboxing and assembly for My Kitchen Vlog. I included a short demonstration at the end. You can watch the video by clicking the following graphic:

Or CLICK HERE.

Water alone did a fairly good job rinsing off the grime, but I'm going to need a bucket of soapy water and a long-handled brush to do the job right. I used to use those, along with the garden hose, to clean my home. It has probably been at least ten years since I last washed this place.

I decided my first major cleaning project had to be the rain gutter on my awning over the back deck. I needed to climb a ladder to see where to use the washer because access isn't as easy as the gutters on the eaves. When I got up there I saw the top of the awning was covered with a thick layer of debris from the juniper tree. Forget the gutter. It took all morning to clear that roof. Meanwhile, I ordered a gutter attachment from Amazon. I'll wait until that arrives.

And one more thing: The washer pulls a lot of electricity. It popped a circuit breaker. The outside outlet was on the same circuit as two desktop computers, three monitors, two laser printers, three desk lamps and a window fan — all of which were running. Lesson learned.

And even one more thing: Soon I'll put my barbecue grill away for the winter. I look forward to testing the pressure washer for cleaning the insides. (If only I could use this thing to get rid of the gophers that are digging up my yard.)

Sunday 2019.10.6

Boys and Their Toys

Make no mistake, I am a boy who enjoys a few toys. I know worse. The man (really, a 50 year old child) across the street has three motorcycles, kayaks, a very expensive Trek bicycle, and a boat (all of which he seldom uses); and those are only the toys visible from the street. A friend, about 20 years younger than I am, with whom I often have lunch, collects Lego. I have my computers, two of which I built myself, along with a few e-reader/tablets.

I got a new toy this week. I keep a wish list on Amazon with inexpensive items I can use to bring an order up to $25 for free shipping. (I won't pay for Prime.) Specifically, I wanted one of those coffee funnels you set on top of a cup or mug, and then add ground coffee, pour in hot water, and thus brew a cup of fresh coffee. But it didn't cost enough to meet the free shipping threshold; so I added something from my wish list, an anemometer.

For those who might not know, an anemometer measures wind speed. Did I need it? Certainly not, but it was not expensive and it had been on my wish list for at least a year, waiting to be wanted. Maybe a little background?

I watch the Tour de France bicycle race each summer. One of the commentators who rides with the race on a motorcycle occasionally holds up a portable anemometer to show the wind speeds the cyclists might be riding against or at their backs. I thought, "what a handy little device." So I put one on my Amazon wish list.

Now this is where it sort of gets interesting. I hold onto some things, in case they might be useful someday. I'm not a hoarder; nor am I a packrat. However, there are some things, like accessories that come with something, that I don't usually throw away. One became useful this past week.

When I bought my GoPro camera more than a year ago, it came with several mounting accessories. I kept them. On the bottom of my new anemometer there is a threaded hole that appeared to be the same as a camera tripod mount. Some of the GoPro accessories include a mounting bolt and, sure enough, it matches the threads in the anemometer. Why is that important?

I like sitting on my deck now that the evil neighbor with the barking dogs is gone. Sometimes it's a little windy out there. Wouldn't it be a really neato thing to know what the wind speed is? Okay, maybe not everyone's cup of tea. But I was curious. However, I can't stand the meter on the railing safely because a gust of breeze (it doesn't take much) blows it over and if it falls onto the stones six feet below, well, you get the picture.

There was one disposable piece that came with the GoPro (besides the box, of course). It was a flat mounting plate that was only to hold the camera to display in its packaging in the store. Disposable, but I kept it anyway — you never know. So, with that plate and a simple little GoPro mounting bracket, which I already had, that screws into the meter's base, I quickly assembled something that stands sturdily on my deck railing and lets me monitor wind speeds. Here's a photo:

I'm sure you're almost dizzy with anticipation. Peak wind speed? Just over nine miles per hour, so far. That little window in the front, by the way, is a lot easier to read than it looks in the photo. It was reflecting white from something, maybe the railing. I thought about shooting another picture, but decided this one was good enough. And, yes, in the background that's the stone and Dymondia landscaping that covers my entire yard.

Air Fryer "Country Style" Pork Shoulder Ribs with Plum Sauce Marinade

I've had a jar of Kikkoman brand plum sauce in the refrigerator for a while — long enough not to remember what I bought it for. Maybe for making something with duck. I thought this week: "What if I were to use some as a base for a marinade?"

Costco sells some pork pieces labeled "Pork Shoulder Country Style Ribs Boneless." They're pieces of pork shoulder cut into strips to resemble large ribs. I bought them in the past to make Braised Boneless Pork Ribs. I like the meat. At about a pound each (450g), one "rib" will feed four.

Earlier this week I bought another package and I used the plum sauce to test my idea for a marinade. It worked better than I hoped. Yesterday I made it again in front of the video camera. The video is currently unlisted on YouTube, but you can watch it now by clicking the following link to the recipe page. Then click the green View the Video button.

Or CLICK HERE.

I also have a bottle of Dynasty brand Oyster Flavored Sauce in the refrigerator. What if I were to make a similar marinade with that and use it to flavor chicken pieces? It's worth experimenting.

Wednesday 2019.10.2

Mobile Home Chicken Gourmet?

It's no secret that I like statistics. I've been looking at my YouTube channel's analytics again. This time I looked at cooking videos that had the word "chicken" in the title. Of the 30 most recent videos I did, nearly all were viewed at least 1,000 times. Only one, Grilled Lollipop Chicken, didn't do as well. Overall, of my latest 30 cooking videos, about 60% were viewed fewer than a thousand times.

The number doesn't surprise me. Chicken is versatile, inexpensive, and delicious. I don't have any immediate plans to start making videos that feature mostly chicken. I still choose lamb as my preferred red meat.

Drawing a Line

I don't want to appear to be indifferent to other people's problems, but some people pretend to be a little too helpless. They want others to do too many things for them.

There is one woman in the park who doesn't want to deal with her own problems. She'll lie if it will provide assistance. A while ago she came to me, almost in tears, complaining about the pain in her ears, and would I take her to the emergency room? I did. I was in the room when the doctor asked her is he was in any pain. She said no, the problem was just an annoying noise. I confronted about lying to me. She apologized. And I learned my lesson.

This week it was her sewer line. It's clogged, probably with roots — a common problem. She wanted me to do something about it. I firmly said no. I'm not a plumber. She called the park manager and within an hour the plumber showed up to clear her line. Easy. And I was pleased I made her prove to herself that she could deal with her own problems.

Fat Head Pizza Crust Again

I mentioned this kind of pizza crust in one of last month's blog entries. Yesterday I made it again, but this time I used my video camera. The video is done — edited and uploaded to YouTube. I am very satisfied with it, and pleased with myself that I made the crust earlier to figure it out. It actually came out better the second time because I used a few tricks, including something known as a docker.

The video is currently unlisted. I scheduled it for publishing on October 27. However, you can watch it now by clicking on the graphic below. It will take you to the recipe page on which you can click the green "View the Video" button to see it.

Or CLICK HERE.

I also added the recipe link to the bottom of the Home Page, where I often list some videos for early viewing before they go public on YouTube.