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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2021.2.28

It's Official

This being the last day of February, I can report not a single drop of rain fell from the sky this month. Some parts of California are already considering water conservation measures if the water supply falls dangerously low.

Where I live, the reservoir is still about 60% full. Due to the abundant rains last month we are currently at 60% normal-to-date rainfall. Maybe March will be better.

What is Shrimp Scampi?

I had to do some research because I saw several cooking videos on YouTube that explained how to cook shrimp scampi. According to my food encyclopedia the Italian word scampi refers to the tail end of prawns or small lobsters. (Langoustine is used for the shellfish when sold whole.) It also says the most popular preparation of scampi is to fry it in butter, which is how it is often prepared in American restaurants.

I was confused because the videos I saw of "shrimp scampi" all included some sort of long pasta, such as spaghetti or vermicelli. Names can be confusing. I sometimes read comments on my Potatoes au Gratin video saying the dish must always include cheese. Gratin is not cheese; fromage is cheese. Gratin merely means the potatoes are browned on top in a hot oven or sometimes under a broiler.

Therefore, when I decided to make Shrimp Scampi for a video, I thought about calling it Shrimp Scampi with Linguine. I was sure I'd see comments saying the word linguine is superfluous because scampi means the dish automatically includes some sort of long pasta. You don't see those comments because all my cooking videos have the comments set to "hold for review." I check them and if any are inappropriate or misleading, I delete them.

Then I decided to substitute the word pasta in the YouTube thumbnail because in the recipe I say any long thin pasta shape will suffice. In the end, I simply named it Shrimp Scampi For One because my recipe makes enough for only one serving. I chose to make it part of my Cooking For One series on YouTube.

Plating Skills

Let's be honest. My plating skills are dismal. I like to joke about it, saying: "This looks like I drove over it with my car." My plating technique is to simply plunk the food down on a plate.

Let's also be clear. The plating of food in a three Michelin star restaurant is very different from that of serving food to your dinner guests. In my videos I want my plated food to look like something I wouldn't be ashamed to place before a friend.

So I've been watching some videos on YouTube. Some are helpful. Some are for those who are learning professional culinary skills. I want simple techniques that will make my food videos and my video thumbnails look better.

My plating of the Shrimp Scampi was pathetic; so I ordered two tools to help with plating long pasta like spaghetti. I bought a carving fork and a stainless steel wok spatula. The technique is the twirl the pasta around the tines of the fork and then hold it in place from underneath with the spatula as you deliver it to the plate. The spatula can also be used to help ease the pasta off the fork, maintaining its shape.

Using what I learned, I made Shrimp Scampi again. I didn't have the carving fork yet, but I have a granny fork that can be useful for smaller amounts of pasta. Another change I made for the final photograph was not to combine the pasta with the shrimp/sauce mixture before plating. I plated the cooked dry spaghetti (it shapes better than pasta made from scratch) first, then drizzled the sauce over it, finally arranging the shrimp tastefully on and around it.

You be the judge. Which is better? (Hint: the new one is the second one.)

And this brings up a point. I've seen pictures accompanying recipes and when I make the food it bears only a little resemblance to the photograph. I suspect there was some extra food styling going on. So why can't I do the same?

And this brings up another idea. Maybe when I am researching a recipe I should also spend some time looking at food photos on the internet. If I find one that has good presentation, I should probably copy that to my laptop, bring that into my kitchen and try to reproduce the plating.

Tetrazzini

I love the idea of tetrazzini. It sounds so Italian, but all the sources I checked said it's American, about as Italian as chop suey is Chinese. One source said there is no traditional formula — it's basically a freewheeling amalgam of protein (chicken, turkey, fish, etc.) and pasta (spaghetti, vermicelli, linguine, etc.). Assemble cooked ingredients in a casserole dish, cover with bread crumbs if desired, and bake. My plan is to make individual servings in oven-safe bowls that I can freeze when I use up enough of my freezer food to fit six small bowls in there.

Speaking of Which…

I used 6 cups of frozen homemade chicken stock to make a pot of Split Pea Soup on Friday. The portions can be frozen flat-ish, which is easier to fit into the freezer. I committed my usual sacrilege of using Serrano ham as an ingredient in the soup. I purchased it with my own money. I bought it to use as an ingredient. Despite what the naysayers say about that, I can use it the way I want. Nuff said.

Shirts

I'm rounding the final turn. Eight shirts done, two more to go. Which means a change in projects soon. I am setting a personal goal of starting the work on my yard after the last shirt is complete. That will be the middle of March. On Sunday, March 14th Daylight Saving Time begins. The 15th is the Ides of March. The 17th is Saint Patrick's Day. And Saturday the 20th is the first day of Spring. It seems like a good week to begin a new project.

Wednesday 2021.2.24

Maybe Worth Mentioning?

Here's a little trivia for you: When I don't produce a cooking video (which happens a lot lately because I don't want to leave my home to go grocery shopping during this pandemic) I select a recipe and video "from the vaults" to feature on this web site's home page. I used to search through my files looking for something that might be appropriate for the season or for upcoming holidays. With nearly 370 recipes in the archive now, that became too much work.

You might have noticed (if you viewed any recipe PDFs) that each recipe is numbered. It's in the lower left corner. Baklava, for example, is number 76. Now I go onto the internet and search for a random number generator. I seed the generator with 1 and 368 and then generate a random number. This week it was 269 — Italian Sausage Subs. Job done.

I try to write something to make it look like I gave the selection some thought, but in truth, it's all done with internet magic.

Masonry

On Sunday morning I bought my first 20-lb bucket of Quikrete quick-setting concrete to begin my next battle with the gophers. As I mentioned earlier this month, the plan is to clean out the spaces between my natural sandstone and fill the grooves with concrete. I changed my idea a little. I was thinking of filling in the space with a natural looking artificial turf, but I decided to arrange river pebbles in the grooves, pressing them into the concrete before it hardens.

The long-term benefit will be less maintenance. No Dymondia to trim. And I can't imagine the gophers will ever be able to destroy my landscaping again.

If you want to see some gopher damage, here is a picture of what my landscaping is supposed to look like:

This is what my yard looks like in several areas after the gophers dug up my Dymondia ground cover:

It will take months to redo my landscaping. I won't work quickly. I don't want to injure my back. I'm retired; so I can take my time. I expect this will keep me busy through most of the spring and into the summer. I'm also limited by my trash bin size. I'll need to throw buckets of dead Dymondia into the trash. When the bin is full, I'm done for the week.

And so I began the work on Sunday, clearing out one five-gallon bucket of dead ground cover. I also captured the soil and sifted it. I'll need it to reset some of the stone. After about an hour I was done for the day. I'll build up stamina over time. I came indoors, sat down with a cup of coffee, and started another shirt.

How About Some OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) Behavior?

I watched several YouTube videos about working with concrete. One recommendation was to place the bag inside a plastic bag after opening. Seal it well. Humidity can get to the concrete powder and start to solidify it.

I have an impulse heat sealer and poly tubing; so I divided the 20-pound (9kg) bucket of Quikrete into 1-kilogram portions and sealed each in its own plastic bag. Then, after washing the bucket well (don't let the rinse water go down the drain — pour it out onto the ground in a safe area) I put the little sacks back in the bucket for storage.

I'll be working small areas at a time; so I don't know how much I need to mix up. According to the package directions, and doing a little arithmetic, each kilo of powder requires 2/3 cup of water for proper consistency. It sets up in as little as 20 minutes; so it's not like I have all day to mess around. I think it's better to start small and not waste any.

In the News

Liberal connoisseurs of schadenfreude are enjoying the latest news that the U.S. Supreme Court will not protect Donald Trump from the release of his tax records. I believe this release involves mostly the Trump Organization more than the former president; however, as details emerge I expect the investigation to expand into the private finances of the man himself and his family.

Sunday 2021.2.21

SoCal

I moved to Southern California in 1975 for mostly one reason — the weather. I grew up in Connecticut and although I enjoyed the snow when I was a child, it wasn't as much fun when I was older. That was especially true when I learned to drive.

Wednesday was a glorious day here in SoCal. Actually, almost every day is glorious. Temperatures in the low 70s and not a cloud in the sky. I wondered about the people who left California and moved to Texas where the cost of living is lower.

As for me, I rode my bike to the credit union to do a little money transfer. I don't have much; that's why I live in a mobile home in a trailer park. But what I have I want to generate at least some interest for me. The ride was almost 15 miles round trip. I didn't need to wear a jacket; a long sleeve shirt was enough. And, of course, my bike was my Pedego pedal assist e-bike. If you're not familiar with them, there is an electric motor and a battery. I do most of the work pedaling and the motor assists to help ease me along. I really like that bike.

I hadn't ridden that far in quite a while. I was therefore a little sore afterward. I'm hoping to get vaccinated soon, after which I'll do most of my shopping on my bike, riding to the store often. Meanwhile, I'm still eating foods stored in the freezer.

Have You Noticed?

I was hoping it would happen soon. I was looking forward to it. I follow the news daily and I am finally seeing almost no mention of Trump in the headlines. I might see it tangentially, as in "Biden reverses Trump's executive order on…", but there are few news stories in which Trump is featured.

There was a time when nearly all the news was about Trump. It's refreshing to see his name disappearing from the news — well, if not disappearing, at least diminishing.

Shirts

Seven down, three to go. And if I might be allowed to blow my own horn a little, these shirts are going quite well. It's partly due to a machine I purchased a year ago this month, a Brother XR3340 I bought on sale from Costco. And partly it's due to a little ingenuity.

There is one foot that is particularly useful for difficult seams — the free-form quilting foot. I use it to baste the lap in place for a flat felled seam (or run and fell seam). Basting works much better than pins. I won't go into details; I probably put you to sleep already. But where the sleeve attaches to the shirt body, that seam is a pain to get right. With that quilting foot to do some advance basting, I get the seam perfect every time.

Of course, practice makes perfect too. I've tailored many shirts. There are 40 "show" shirts (used only in my cooking videos) in one closet and several "day wear" shirts (to wear when I go out) in another closet. In my life I'm sure I've tailored more than a hundred shirts.

I do purchase shirts. I have several of those too. They're fine for day wear, but the selection of color is very limited. For my videos I want color, and my only option is to tailor them myself.

Meanwhile…

Friday was automobile battery maintenance time again. Back in October 2020 I bought a "smart/automatic battery charger." It's a good little device. On Thursday I tried to use my car but the battery wasn't charged enough. I hooked up the charger and it reported the battery at 50% charged. That's not enough. So I started running a repair/charge cycle again.

The problem is that I simply don't drive enough. When I do drive, I go only a short distance to get something at the store. The last time I used the car was on the third of this month to drive to Costco, which is so close I can walk there. I prefer to use my bike instead.

And Speaking of Costco

I am still hoping to get a package of their Kirkland Signature chicken wings. They're ridiculously expensive. Thighs, drumsticks, and whole chickens are 99¢ per pound at Costco. Wings at the other big box store are $3.29 per pound in the value pack, and they're mostly skin and bones. I can't complain too much about the price. I just spent $18 per pound for some sea scallops.

A friend was going to Costco; so he asked if I needed anything. I asked him to look for wings. There were none. Oh well, I'll keep checking. The reason I want them is to do the Air Fryer Boneless Party Wings I mentioned on the 7th of this month (see below). I did them as a video (no recipe) last year. I want to do a new video (with recipe), but this time use my Finger Lickin' Chicken coating mix and roast them in my air fryer. I think it might make a good video.

Wednesday 2021.2.17

Learning From a Former Friend

I used to have a friend who enjoyed fish even more than I do. In fact, he does a lot of fishing (I prefer shopping — it's easier, costs less, and takes a lot less time). His wife made him cook his fish outdoors because she didn't like the smell. Even fresh fish, caught that day, can leave a lingering odor in a kitchen.

I have a similar problem. I enjoy fish. But even the "fresh caught/fresh frozen" fish filets I buy from Costco have an odor problem. My friend has a convenient gas grill. I have a Weber grill but no charcoal briquettes. However, I have an electric griddle. I also have some granite cutouts from kitchen counter installations. I sometimes use the cutouts for food photography.

Why not place a cutout on my deck railing, at a corner where it will be the most stable, and then arrange my electric griddle on top? There is a convenient electrical outlet on my deck in an excellent place for plugging in the griddle.

On Sunday afternoon I put the idea to the test, cooking an Alaskan North Pacific cod filet outdoors. The kitchen stayed blissfully odor free. I even sautéed some vegetables on the griddle because there are two areas — one flat surface and one with ridges like a grill. The food came out of the freezer, which helped with my resolution to use up my frozen foods.

My dinner was delicious. The weather was warm enough to eat al fresco. After I ate I brought the griddle to my garden hose for a scrubbing with soapy water and a quick rinse before letting it dry outdoors.

A Lost Aptitude?

I'm thankful I was graced with a mechanical aptitude. I can take something apart, fix it or lubricate it, and reassemble it.

My Juki overlock (serger) machine was making a knocking noise and the belt was slipping. Part of the reason is because the last time I tightened the belt I was too lazy to go out to the shed and get an 8mm metric wrench (spanner). I was too lazy this time too, but I found an 8mm combination wrench in my toolbox; so I was able to really lock down the motor mounts properly.

In this age of computerized everything, what will become of those who have a mechanical aptitude? Will they become the future's light bulb changers? Not everything will be totally computerized in the future. Cars and trucks will still require mechanics to repair them. But I suspect more and more of those old beautiful machines will disappear from the land, like typewriters did. A few people still use typewriters, but they (the machines, not the people) are almost extinct.

I look at my overlock with the covers off and marvel at what a beautiful work of mechanical engineering art it is. Oddly enough, it was exactly one year ago today I disassembled my Juki for a thorough cleaning and oiling. It's a good little machine that will, hopefully, serve me for the remainder of my life. I can't imagine replacing it.

Sunday 2021.2.14

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope you got you sweetheart something special for today, even though you might be limited in your ability to travel or shop because of the pandemic.

When I was a young boy there were times when I would go out into the local fields to pick wildflowers for my mother. I once made a dandelion necklace for my kindergarten teacher.

I have no sweetheart now. The last female friend I knew moved to Florida several months ago. I wish I could say I missed her, but she wouldn't stop talking. She wore me out.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

On Tuesday February 16 people 65 years old or older will be allocated available vaccines. As I've said often enough, I will be 70 years old this summer. I'm in the vaccination group.

The numbers don't look encouraging. The county currently receives 6,000 doses per week. In the county there are 40,898 persons in the 65 to 74 age group. According to Friday's county webcast, 70 to 75% of individuals request and receive their vaccine. Some refuse. That leaves about 30,000 potential recipients. At 6,000 per week, in the next five weeks all those 65 or older will get a vaccine if they request one.

I don't know how people will be selected. Will it be by age, older residents before younger ones? Will it be according to when people registered with the county and/or state to be on the notification list? I registered with both.

I am feeling hopeful. Although there is only about a 20% probability I might be among the early recipients, I can wait if necessary. I have enough food in my freezer and shed to keep me well fed for many weeks.

I am trying to hold to my resolution of eating at least one meal per day that comes mainly out of the freezer. Friday evening I sautéed some mixed vegetables for a side dish and the main course was Texas Beef Chili over rice.

Meh!

Yesterday the Republicans in the Senate voted to acquit former president Trump of the crime he committed on January 6th inciting an insurrection against the Capital. Was anyone surprised? As far as I'm concerned, those senators are now complicit in the crime.

I'm sure many are upset. I'm not. It was a foregone conclusion he would be acquitted. I learned long ago the value of keeping one's expectations low.

There is something that has not changed, nor will it ever be changed. The future history books written about this period of the USA will describe this former president as the worst president in U.S. history. The events of January 6th will be described in detail as the low point of his administration.

Not everyone will agree with me, of course, but that's like saying there was nothing wrong with the bombing of our military base at Pearl Harbor or the attack on New York's World Trade Center. Those events were worse, by comparison. More people died, but the events surrounding the insurrection at the Capital, including the actions of Donald Trump, are equally a crime. It doesn't matter if six people die, 600, or 6,000, a crime is a crime.

And so I'm not upset by the Republicans' capitulation to their re-election concerns and big money donations. I'm not even disappointed. It was expected. Nonetheless, the trial had to proceed to cement the events into the future history books.

Shirts

Six done, four to go.

Wednesday 2021.2.10

Patience

I am trying to exercise patience when it comes to vaccinations. So far, no word yet when I might be able to make an appointment. The inequities you hear about on the news make it a little more difficult to be patient. I know personally of one. She works for a local hospital and she got her vaccine. She even bragged a little about it, which made it worse. The vaccine is currently being administered here to those who are 75 years old or older and to "front line healthcare workers with direct patient care." She is neither. She's an office worker and she works from home. You be the judge.

Never Give Up? Never Surrender?

I am considering surrendering in my war against the gophers. I've tried gopher bait. They sell it at Home Depot. However my little mobile home space is only one among more than 50 in this trailer park. The gophers are everywhere. I've even seen one running across the road. I can't fight them all over the park.

We enjoyed plenty of rain last week. Evidently, the gophers enjoyed it too. New gopher mounds are springing up all over my yard like pimples on a teenager. I don't want to fight them anymore.

I looked for Quikrete quick-setting concrete on the Home Depot web site. I'm thinking I might mix some up, a little at a time, and press it down into the grooves between my sandstone, after I rip out the Dymondia and clean out a decent space for the cement. A deep groove in the cement might work as a place to glue down some natural looking artificial turf. Home Depot sells some that looks good in the photographs. It would accomplish two things:

1. I wouldn't need to trim Dymondia anymore. As much as I enjoy the beauty of it, it requires maintenance (I'm nearly 70 years old) and the gophers ruin it anyway.

2. Eventually, there wouldn't be any place left where gophers could dig up to the surface. They'd encounter stone or concrete.

Of course, my yard wouldn't have the natural beauty of Dymondia, but it would also eliminate all need for watering my yard. And at my age, anything that reduces yard maintenance is welcome. I am writing this with a bit of a sardonic smile: The gophers would hopefully give up tunneling in my yard and become somebody else's problem.

Making It Fun Again

I might have mentioned in an earlier blog that I have all the James Bond movies. One thing I enjoyed about the earlier Sean Connery films was that they were fun to watch. The Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton 007s were certainly not boring, but the later ones, especially the Dalton films, were too serious.

The Bond stories always struck me as not taking themselves too seriously, as if part of the fun was the ludicrous situations. Ten guys with machine guns shoot at Bond and he never takes a bullet, but he can shoot back with his little pistol and almost every shot is perfect. Where do these villains recruit their henchmen? Schools for the blind?

Another issue seemed to be more budgetary. Were the producers cutting back the pyrotechnics to reduce costs? Seeing settings like highly complicated labs or ships or mountain top abbeys made me wonder what they would look like when they exploded. Not everything went up in gigantic fireballs and smoke.

Lately I started watching the Pierce Brosnan Bonds and the films are fun again. Lots of crazy situations and big explosions. I watched Tomorrow Never Dies yesterday and it did not disappointment me. I enjoyed every minute of it. I also like Judi Dench as M. She's terrific.

Analytics

I like YouTube's analytics pages. Statistics might be boring and/or confusing to some people. I find them useful, especially when thinking about my Mobile Home Gourmet channel.

The numbers are down. They always go down after November and December, the months in which people look for recipes for the holidays. But last month was lower than the previous two Januaries. February is looking like it might be the same, the lowest in three years. What the analytics don't tell me is the reason why.

During this time of the pandemic people are eating at home more and less in restaurants. You'd think they would be more interested in recipes. Maybe they're cooking at home so often now that the chore is becoming a burden. Whatever the reason, they're not watching my videos. Which changes my thinking.

I am considering cutting back more than I already have. Here are some numbers: My channel has nearly 48,000 subscribers. An uploaded video might accumulate 1,000 views in a year. Only one did well last year: Air Fryer Pizza was watched more than 10,000 times. My most popular videos are old ones — Marinated Ribs Roasted in an Air Fryer (9/18), Copycat Bailey's Irish Cream (7/19), Salmon Jerky (7/16) and Fish & Chips (7/13). That last one has been viewed more than a million times. And according to the stats, nearly all the views are by nonsubscribers.

So where do I go from here? I can't do as much because I don't shop. My freezer is packed to the rafters with food. Boxes and cans are out in the shed. Other than a quick trip when I'm running out of something like butter or salt, I stay home. I could probably avoid food shopping for six months. Maybe I'll devote 2021 to working in my yard, sealing up the places where gophers dig.

Sunday 2021.2.7

Make Me Smile

I probably shouldn't smile when I do laundry, but I always do. I don't know anyone who is amused by the chore of doing laundry. I am because my automatic clothes washer still works fine. I bought it from Amazon three years ago this month. It's a Haier (model HLP21N — no longer available). It's small, suitable for an apartment or trailer, and good enough for one or two people. It's portable. I roll it into the bathroom, hook it up to an adapter I added to my shower, plug it in and do my laundry. It drains into the bathtub.

Besides making the laundry chore easy, I like the spin cycle. It works very well. I have two clothes lines strung up in my home, out of the way where I won't walk into them. My clothes dry quickly.

Newer, and probably better, washers are available. For people who live alone or with only one person, I think a portable washer is a great convenience if there are few other options available. It's also good for college students who have their own apartment. I live in a mobile home in a trailer park; so there is a laundry room here in the park. However, there were times when my clothes came home dirtier than they were before I washed them. I stopped using those machines and did my clothes by hand for several years before I found my portable washer.

Impeachment

Trump's second impeachment trial begins on Tuesday. We already know the outcome. Trump's Republican toadies in the Senate will vote to acquit him. I can't help but wonder how the outcome might be different if one of the Congress people had been captured or, worse, murdered. What if it had been a Democrat? A Republican?

Insurrection (some are calling it an attempted coup — the first in USA history) is a crime. Murder is a crime. A Capital police officer was murdered. Four others also lost their life. The evidence is clear. The rioters were summoned and directed by Trump. Some who were questioned said they stormed the Capital building because they were following orders from Trump.

Had the president been a Democrat, we all know how the Republicans in the Senate would vote. Where in the Constitution does it declare a person's party affiliation is a factor when determining the severity of a crime? Is it any wonder that many Americans have lost faith in their government to do what is right?

The post-Trump-presidency books are being written now. It might be interesting to read how future historians will frame the events of January 6, 2021. I won't read all the books on the subject, but I'll probably read at least one.

As for reading: I'm not reading any political books this year, at least not yet. I started re‑reading George Eliot's book Silas Marner: the Weaver of Raveloe. I also found a copy of a book I read when I was a teenager, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Fariña.

Super Bowl Sunday

I hope some brave soul out there will attempt boneless chicken wings to serve the family when watching the game. They're a bit of work, but well worth the effort.

Click the graphic to see the YouTube video.

Or CLICK HERE.

Keep it a family affair, no invited guests who might spread coronavirus. Next year we can party together again.

When Buttons Rule the Day

I really wear out shirts. They go through stages of degradation. In their early life they're good enough to wear to work (before I retired) or when going out to dinner with friends. After a while they begin to fray around the collar and cuffs. That's when they become casual shirts I might wear when going shopping, going to a picnic, or just for a bike ride. Eventually the elbows wear through and rip. When that happens the bottom of the sleeve is cut off and I hem the remaining sleeve to make a short-sleeve shirt to wear around the house. The cuff buttons are removed and sewn to the tail of the shirt to keep them all together.

Eventually the back of the shirt wears through and tears. That's the end of a shirt's life cycle. Before the shirt is thrown into the trash or cut up for rags, I remove all the buttons and tie them together. Some buttons have been on two or three shirts. All the "show shirts" that I wear when making videos have recycled buttons on them.

The buttons might define the style of a shirt. From one of my notions boxes I took out a set of buttons that decided the style of my next shirt. There were five small buttons and 14 large ones. So the shirt will have a button-down collar (three small buttons) and buttons on the sleeve plackets (two small buttons). Of the large buttons, eight will go on the front and two on each sleeve cuff. That leaves two. So those will be used for button-down pocket flaps for a more casual style shirt.

There is one possibility I haven't decided yet. Rather than two patch pockets on the front, I might use one as a cell phone pocket and flap on the left sleeve, up near the shoulder. I've done it before. It's an interesting look. Which leads to…

Shirts

Five done, five to go. I'm halfway home.

Wednesday 2021.2.3

More Freezer Food

I gave myself the resolution of eating all the foods in my freezer before I bought more. Then a friend and his aunt offered to do a Costco shopping run for me. My freezer is so packed now, there isn't any room for anything. It really is full.

On Saturday I ate the last portion of Real Texas Chili; so on Sunday afternoon I made another batch using some of the steak I have in the freezer. I can't remember when I bought that beef, but I do remember it was on sale at an excellent price, limit two packages per customer. (There was some dishonesty with the pricing, but I reported that and got my steaks at the true advertised price.)

For convenience, I used my Instant Pot and cooked the chili for 30 minutes rather than two hours. After enjoying a little bowl of chili for a late lunch, I put six portions in the freezer. It was a bit of a trade-off because I took three pounds of frozen steak out. So nothing was gained for space, but I felt good to have more food to save me from going shopping.

While I was looking for a place to store the chili I saw my homemade Chicken Stock. I have a four-pound bag of green split peas and a five-pound bag of lentils (along with some Serano ham). My next cooking project will be to use some of that stock to make Split Pea Soup or Lentil and Sausage Soup (I have Italian sausages in the freezer too). Another trade-off, as the volume will be about the same, but I can eat the soup; I can only cook with the stock.

I won't have the fresh vegetables (mirapoix of carrot, celery and onion), but I have some vegetable broth base that will suffice. During this time of trying to avoid the coronavirus we do what we can to keep ourselves safe.

Much Better

I'm feeling happy right now. If you've seen some of my later videos, you've seen how curly my hair is. I keep it short, but for a while I tried going as long as possible between haircuts. It gets in my face and that drives me crazy. My hair was bothering me again; so on Monday I cut it short.

I think I mentioned it before: My father was a barber. When he passed away I ask for, and was given, his barber tools. Mostly I wanted the clippers because good professional grade Oster barber clippers sell for more than $200. They work great.

People always ask me how I cut my hair in the back. It isn't difficult. I set up a second mirror in the bathroom and work with two mirrors.

I occasionally cut too deep and give myself a chop. I don't attempt to fix those. It's best just to live with it. Leave it alone; it'll grow out eventually. And these days, with my staying home all the time, no one will see a bad haircut anyway.

And so I feel much better with short hair again. None of it gets into my face.