Go home

Go to the Recipe Archive.

Blog button

Go to Minute Meals.

About the Recipes

About the Cook

contact_button

Download the free cookbook ebook.

Visit the Blog Archives

My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2019.11.17

Slowing Down

This week's Feature Recipe is the last of the projects I had in the vault. With the holidays coming, some people might want to keep a bottle of Copycat Bailey's Irish Cream Liqueur in their refrigerator. I used to, to offer to guest who might visit. The recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk. I've heard from some who say the product is not available where they live. Making you own is easy. So my next video will likely be homemade sweetened condensed milk, which I will make with stevia to avoid the carbohydrates. Other than that, I'm not sure what I want to do next, if anything.

Impeachment Hearings

I did watch much of the impeachment testimonies on TV live, along with the summaries later in the day. I rotated mostly among three cable networks — CNN, MSNBC and Fox. I actually preferred Fox much of the time because they would display the name and party affiliation of the congress person asking questions (or simply grandstanding).

For the summaries, I mostly watched MSNBC. However, even some of Fox's commentaries have been anti-Trump lately. He's running out of loyalists. Maybe he could enlist the support of that woman who anchors North Korea's news.

I will admit to a degree of partiality, of course. I tended to press the mute button when a Republican was speaking. The strategy for Republicans, published in a leaked memo prior to the hearings, was to undermine the testimony of those called to be questioned. The facts are clear. So if the facts can't be disputed, call into question the credibility of those testifying. In other words, if you can't kill the message, kill the messenger.

I didn't listen to all of the hearing each day. The best testimony was from the questions asked by Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor with the Southern District of New York. As I said above, some of the questions from House Representatives were grandstanding and some, among Republicans, even went so far as to call into question the decisions of former President Obama. Why him? He's isn't being impeached (although there are probably plenty of Republicans who wish he was).

The first day wasn't a game changer. I think of the cliché "Rome wasn't built in a day." The testimony of each witness simply adds to the body of evidence that will be considered when drawing up articles of impeachment. I am thoroughly convinced Trump won't be removed from office. The Senate won't vote to convict him. However, my hope is that the testimony during the next few weeks will help to change the mind of enough voters to remove Trump by the election next fall.

I learned something new in the news. Supposedly, Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell is planning to drag out the senate debate to take democratic senators out of their campaigns, possibly causing them to lose votes. I can't imagine that having much impact. The front runner is still Joe Biden. He isn't a senator.

And I also want to mention I've been reading James Stewart's book, Deep State. I'll probably finish it today. He discusses many of the actions and conversations leading up to the firing of James Comey as director of the FBI and the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel for the investigation that led to the Mueller Report. The book has been a fitting narrative as the impeachment hearings proceed.

COPPA

COPPA is a USA law, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. YouTube is going a little crazy because of this act. Violators can be fined more than $42,000 for each offensive video.

It doesn't affect me, much. YouTube content creators can designate their channel or individual videos as for children or not. There is some ambiguity because three of the criteria say that the content "appeals to children."

As all three of you know, I do cooking videos. I don't expect children to put a skillet on the stove and make Fried Pierogi. What about appeals to? Cookies appeal to children. What about homemade ice cream? Children like pizza too. Obviously, all children eat food; so the criteria probably wouldn't apply to any of my cooking videos.

I did designate one of my videos as targeting children, even though the description and content is aimed at parents who might want to make the treat with their children. Power Bites require some advance preparation, such as toasting the coconut in the oven, but then the ingredients can be assembled and children can use their hands to shape the treats, which are like cookies.

Designating a video as targeting children can cause a loss of advertising revenue earned by that video. Power Bites doesn't concern me. Since I uploaded it to YouTube on April 29, 2012, it has been seen only 560 times. It earned me a total of 12¢ since that date — hardly a down payment on a new car.

And Speaking of My Videos

On Wednesday I wrote that I would monitor my channel's traffic to see what effect, if any, the impeachment hearings might have. I noticed a small drop during the morning, but I can't determine if that was significant or purely random.

Weather

In November I start looking at the weather forecasts for any mention of possible rain. The first predictions are usually unreliable, and in fact the forecasts for this week have been saying "a slight chance of showers." Wednesday's prediction was upgraded to "a 40% chance of showers"; so, maybe. I have rooted Dymondia I want to plant in my yard, but I'd prefer to wait until we get some steady rain, i.e. a forecast of "rain likely."

Wednesday 2019.11.13

Got Tools?

I've got a small collection of tools, which came into use when I helped my neighbor fix his bicycle. Othewise, they're stored out in the shed. There was an additional benefit from digging in that box of tools. I found that I also had a rivet gun.

I knew I once had one, but I thought it had gone into a box of stuff to donate to the charity thrift store. I was planning to buy another one. As for rivets, I once had those too, but there are none in my hardware box. They probably went into the recycling bin during one of my attempts at organizing and down-sizing the stuff in my shed.

I've tried, but I cannot recall why I ever bought a rivet gun and rivets. I even searched the Blog Archives to see if I had ever mentioned using them. (They're all there — nearly ten years of blogs.) I found nothing. It might have been more than 25 years ago when I used sheet metal to build a humane trap to catch an opossum that was living under my home. I caught it and then let it go about a mile away, near a golf course.

Why did I need a rivet gun now? I won't go into the long and boring story. Those who have read these blogs for a while know that I cover my windows with blackout fabric when I shoot a video. It controls the light, which changes in intensity and color throughout the day and time of year. I use studio lighting.

The curtain rods I use are those two-piece things in which one section slides into the other to adjust the width to fit the window. They work, but they can sometimes be a nuisance. After setting them to fit the needed length, I use tape to hold the adjustment. That works for a while. For a long time I thought it would be easy and effective to simply rivet the two pieces together permanently. So that is what I did on Monday, after buying some rivets.

The windows, by the way, nearly fill the wall. They're about seven feet wide each. I thought about taking pictures of my project, but what would be amusing, informative or entertaining about seeing a curtain rod and a rivet? I'll let you decide.

Impeachment Hearings

As I sit here writing, it is a little after 6:00 this morning. I got out of bed to watch some of the Impeachment Hearings. I wasn't planning to, but I was awake; so, why not? I knew the testimony wouldn't begin so soon, but I wanted to know how it would proceed. Maybe tomorrow morning I can stay in bed a little longer.

I'm watching MSNBC. My cable box is recording CNN. I will also watch some of the coverage on Fox, on which I just learned "the gavel will drop" at 7:00 my time. To get balanced news, we need to watch both extremes. However, mostly I want to see the evening summaries and commentaries.

I'm also monitoring another channel — Mobile Home Gourmet on YouTube. Why? I want to see how the Hearings affect the views on my channel. Back in September I showed how the views of my videos dropped drastically during the hour in which Nancy Pelosi announced the official beginning of the impeachment inquiry. To refresh your memory, here is the graphic again:

As I said in September, each bar represents one hour of activity. That one nearly empty hour was the announcement. Maybe I'll have something to show about today's shift in activity, if any, in Sunday's blog.

So, I'm going to stop typing, proof this blog, upload it, and pay attention to the news. More later.

Sunday 2019.11.10

Passed

I always worry, a little. My Nissan Pathfinder is a 1993 model. Being that old, will it pass a smog inspection? It always does, but I do worry. On Thursday, after I picked up my car, minus $1,275 to call my own, I brought it to a local garage for a smog check. They offered to perform the inspection while I waited. It cost $86.00. My car passed. It's good for another two years.

The garage is one that has been on the same corner for more than 40 years. That's a good indicator. A former friend of mine, since passed away, always brought her Volkswagen beetle there for service. I will very likely bring my Pathfinder there for oil changes and filters as needed until the car is no longer road worthy.

And, by the way, I looked back through some records. The last major maintenance on my car, which was supposed to be good for another five years, was $3,154.

The News

Yesterday's news discussion group meeting was so good, it went overtime. Since our previous meeting the House of Representatives voted on procedures for the public hearings of the impeachment investigation. The first interviews are scheduled for Wednesday. I probably won't watch, but I will pay attention to the summaries and commentaries. Everyone, from far left to far right, will have something to say.

Those of us in the discussion group all agree that a vote on articles of impeachment by the House won't do anything to remove the president from office. That would take a two thirds vote in the Senate, and that chamber is more than half Republicans. One comment I heard on TV said that a Senate vote might succeed if the senators could vote anonymously. I agree.

Meanwhile…

There is only one video remaining in the vault. I'm not sure when I'll feel like doing another cooking video. More and more I'm thinking 68 years old might be a good time to retire from producing videos. There is one project I am thinking of. It's time to make Bailey's Irish Cream again. This time, however, I'm thinking of demonstrating how to make your own sweetened condensed milk (for those who live in areas where the product is not available). It can also be made without sugar, using artificial sweetener.

And, Finally, That Bicycle

To the best of my knowledge, that neighbor's bicycle is still working. I'm sort of hiding from him because that bike is such a wretched piece of junk, I don't want to work on it anymore.

That's it. It's a short blog this week. There hasn't been much going on, except in the news.

Wednesday 2019.11.6

Bicycle Repairs

It was a weird thing. I mentioned in Sunday's blog something about helping a neighbor fix his bike. It was only a temporary fix. We knew it wouldn't last, but it bought some time for me to fabricate a part. If you don't know what a shim is, it's something that fits between two things that don't fit together well, making the two pieces come together more tightly.

A part had broken under the saddle of my neighbor's bike. Short of welding, there was no fixing it. And, worse, the bike is so old, most of the threads on things are stripped. Decrepit would be a compliment for that bike. He really needs a new one. However, there is an old bike in a shed behind his home. We tried to use the seat and post from that bike, but the post had a slightly smaller circumference. It wouldn't clamp in place. Thus the need for a shim.

I had a long medal thing in the corner of my shed. It had been a part of the old shed and — I don't know why — I saved it. It was made of galvanized sheet metal. I cut a piece, hammered it flat, folded over one edge to form a flange, and then curved it into a tube. I knew it wasn't perfect, but it might suffice.

Sunday afternoon he brought back his bike. With a little trimming, the fabricated shim fit perfectly into the down tube. I inserted the seat post. It fit beautifully, snugly, and with the seat clamp the post locked securely into place. We also changed out the saddle because he liked the one that he had been using. And I adjusted his brakes.

Now, I have to say, that bike has been repaired, and repaired again, and even the repairs have been repaired. It's an old, messy bike. Personally, I would consider it unsafe to ride. But, even though I have some money in the bank (saved for other things, see below), I'm not buying him a new bike. That would be going too far.

There was pleasure in the process of working on that bike though. First, I sometimes like fixing things. Plumbing repairs I can do without. Leave those to the professionals. But a bike is an enjoyable machine to work on, even if it is so old it deserves to go into recycling. And for the two of us working together, one about 20 years old and the other nearly 70, the project made for a pleasant afternoon. It was like enjoying the company of a grandson for an hour or two.

There is a parallel…

And Now the Bad News

Some automobile mechanics really piss me off. I brought my car in for periodic maintenance and a smog inspection on Monday morning. They can't do the smog because my car is too old. I need to bring it elsewhere. So the estimate was for $48 because all that was needed was an oil change and filter, and that includes a "free all-points inspection," which is really only a fancy way of saying: "We'll look around to see if we can find some very expensive parts to replace."

Yep. Idler arm shot, steering center something-or-other worn out, bushings, etc. Parts need to be ordered. Some parts are no longer manufactured by Nissan, but they are available from third-party vendors. The estimate: More than $1,000. I told the guy when I brought the car in, "$48 is a fantasy." And keep in mind, I rarely drive the car. As I said on Sunday, fewer than 3,000 miles per year.

The last time I brought it in the costs were similar. "But look at it this way, you'll be all set for the next five years." Yeah, and one year later it needs another $1,000 in repairs. I don't enjoy saying this, but I now believe Santa Barbara Nissan's Service Department is a den of thieves, and I'm a sucker for thinking I could trust them.

Never again. I'll quote Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet): "Eyes, look your last. Arms, take your last embrace." They'll never see this car again. Kelley Blue Book value is only about $800 for a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder in good condition. Maybe I could get $900 because of the low mileage. I'll take the car into some local shop for oil changes when it needs them. And I'll get smog inspections as required. But otherwise, I'm running this car into the ground. I think my next car will be a Toyota SUV. Maybe by then, electric vehicles — and the replacement batteries — will be affordable.

Some Sardonic Humor

I've been trying to figure out where I might get away with saying this — maybe at Saturday's news discussion group meeting. You've heard or read that Trump is quitting New York and making Florida his permanent home. "It just goes to show how dumb he is. He can be extradited from Florida." Shame on me. And I've already said the reason why he wanted to build a Trump Tower in Moscow was to have a place to live when he is no longer president.

Sunday 2019.11.3

Did You Fall Back?

Today most of the United States adjusted their clocks back one hour to return to Standard Time. It seems like nearly everything electronic these days has a clock in it — computers, tablet, microwave oven, stove, cell phone, not to mention digital clocks and watches. Most of mine change automatically and some have a radio receiver in them to sync the time with the atomic clocks in Fort Collins, Colorado. As I went around my home this morning adjusting the clocks that needed it, I counted 21 clocks. Only a few needed changing.

Thankfully, although I occasionally deal with minor bouts of the blues, I don't suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — depression in winter. The earlier evening darkness doesn't make me feel depressed, although I really do like the extra hour of daylight in the evening during Daylight Saving Time.

There is one advantage to this time of year. When I want to record a Kitchen Vlog video, I don't need to cover my windows to control lighting. I shoot the video in the early evening when it's already dark.

A Change In the Weather

It seems like we're well on our way to winter now. Two nights this past week the temperature dropped down into the mid to upper 30s. Thursday night 35°F with "patchy frost" was forecast, while raging fires were burning out of control in other parts of the state.

The Santa Ana winds were further south this time. Those hot dry winds blow into Southern California from off the deserts. They can be powerful at times, even "hurricane force," gusting up to 80 miles per hour.

I'll be happy when fire season is past. Where I live fire isn't a danger to my home. The dry brush is up in the mountains and foothills. However, that is also the location of the high voltage lines that provide electricity to this area. Fire beneath them can knock out the power, sometimes for hours at a time.

Sacrilege?

Those who read this blog know that I am not much of a beef eater. I like hamburgers, especially cheeseburgers. Are hotdogs beef? Even if they say "all beef franks"? I like them too, once or twice a year. Tacos are not among my favorites.

I have one friend who is happiest when he can toss a thick steak onto the BBQ and grill it until the muscle stops twitching. That might be an exaggeration. He likes ribs too.

Last summer I took advantage of an excellent sale. Beef rib-eye steaks, normally $14.99 per pound, were selling for $4.77 per pound. I bought several of them and they've been sitting in the back of my freezer ever since.

I told my friend I wanted to use them to make Texas Beef Chili. To him, that seemed like a shameful waste of an excellent cut of meat. However, I don't eat steak. The "pack" date on them is 6/29/18. It was time. So without telling my friend, I used three of the steaks this week to make chili. It is one of my favorite winter foods.

Put some shredded cheddar cheese in the bottom of a bowl. Ladle a generous helping of hot beef chili onto the cheese. Then garnish with a little extra cheese on top. Add a dollup of sour cream, if you have it. Yum. I put five bowls in the refrigerator. And I have more steaks in the freezer. It's an excellent way to start enjoying pre-winter weather.

Soup Too

I also made more Cheddar Broccoli Soup this week. And that actually poses a bit of a problem. I have only two more cooking videos in the queue for featuring this week and next. And then what? I have so much food in heat-and-serve containers, I don't need to do any cooking. Maybe I'll look through my Instant Pot cookbook for ideas.

Pressure Washing the Car

I shouldn't have been surprised, but it took longer to get everything pulled out and set up — pressure washer, extension cord, garden hose, brush, bucket of soapy water — than it took to actually wash the car. I wanted my car clean because tomorrow it goes in for periodic maintenance and a smog inspection, which brings up one of my pet peeves.

There should be an exception for people like me. I seldom drive my SUV. It's a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder with only 69,000 miles on it. You read that right. Sixty-nine thousand. I bought it new and I've owned it for 26 years. Do the math. 69,000 ÷ 26 = 2,654 miles per year. I know people who put that much mileage on their car each month, maybe more.

The peeve is the cost of the inspection. Besides the standard fee, I must pay an additional surcharge for an additional inspection item because my car is so old. In other words, the state would like to see my car taken off the road and replaced with a new one. But it's only old in years, not in mileage; therefore, I always pass the inspection easily.

Okay, I get a small "low mileage" discount on my auto insurance, but it doesn't pay for the inspection. And, okay, I can afford the inspection. And, okay, think how much money I've saved during the past 26 years by not buying new cars, not to mention filling the tank with gasoline only a few times per year. I get it. I'm not broke. I'm not wealthy either, but I am doing well enough to keep my bills paid each month and put a little away in the bank for the future.

I will say this though: Having that Pedego e-bike is more than just fun and handy for errands. This evening I will attach my bike carrier to the back of my SUV. In the morning I'll load my bike onto the carrier and then drive to the shop for the service and inspection. Rather than wait for the shuttle to take me home, I'll ride my bike.

I don't now why (well, actually, I do), I end up being driven down into the city before being taken home, which is in the opposite direction. It's because the other people in the van need to get to work and I don't — I'm retired.

The bike ride home is partly back streets with little to no traffic and mostly bike paths. I enjoy that ride. And picking up my vehicle when it's ready will be just as easy. No waiting for the shuttle to come get me.

Cooking

As I mentioned above, I am running out of cooking videos ready to publish on YouTube. They were uploaded weeks ago and those who know about the Advanced Viewing on the Home Page of this web site know they can watch the videos early, before they go public.

After this week's Feature Recipe goes public, there will be only one remaining in the vault. I would be out of videos by next Sunday. It always raises the question in my mind, "Do I want to continue; or do I want to retire from cooking videos too?" It has been more than nine years and I can't keep doing these videos and recipes forever. But for how much longer?

I decided I wanted to do another chicken recipe again, especially since the local grocery store is selling Foster Farm chicken pieces for 88¢ per pound (60% off). I really like drumsticks and they seem to be more versatile. Also, the holidays are approaching soon and many people will either be gifted with an Instant Pot at Christmas or purchase one in a Black Friday sale. So, revisiting my Penne and Sausage recipe, which is cooked in an Instant Pot (really easy), I decided to do Ziti and Chicken Drumsticks.

The idea really came from my mother, may her ashes rest in peace (my father's ashes are in the same urn — uh-oh). She was Italian American. We ate a lot of spaghetti and meatballs. Sometimes she would cook rigatoni for variety and sometimes she put chicken pieces in the pot in which she cooked her pasta sauce. I remember that chicken being so tender it literally fell off the bones. It was delicious. I loved it.

So yesterday afternoon I made Mom's Ziti and Chicken (after helping a neighbor fix his bike). It was every bit as delicious as I expected. However, I don't eat pasta these days — trying to avoid the carbs. So I offered the food to a neighbor.