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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Wednesday 2021.7.21

Post-Op

As I mentioned in last Wednesday's blog, a back molar in my lower jaw had to be removed. There was no tooth above it; it wasn't used for chewing. And, because of its angle, it trapped food in the gap in front of it. I've taken good care of it for years, but a cavity developed and it was large. There was no saving the tooth. And why would I want to save it? I'm glad it's gone.

The extraction was done yesterday. The process was awful, but it wasn't as bad as I feared. There was one little bit of the end of one root that was difficult to get out. That took the longest, but by the end of the hour I was stitched up and heading home on my bicycle.

I was sure the dentist would tell me to avoid solid food for a day or two. Or that they would probably hand me a list of directions to follow, which is what they did. So I prepared.

On Sunday I made a pot of Split Pea Soup. Then yesterday I made a pot of Cream of Broccoli Soup. I enjoy both and they're easy. After puréeing the soups, I heat-sealed portions in single-serve pouches and stored some in the freezer and a few in the refrigerator. Simply heat in a cup and drink. No chewing.

As for the pain, there is less than I expected. I was uncomfortable yesterday afternoon. They recommended taking two ibuprofen as soon as I got home, before the anesthesia wore off. I was told to expect discomfort today and tomorrow, but this morning I feel fine. My jaw a little sore where the tooth was, but I don't feel any need to take pills,.

Although I'm happy to see that problem tooth gone, there is a less pleasant psychological side. I associate getting old with losing teeth. You've seen pictures of old people with half their teeth missing. I don't consider myself particularly vain, but I don't want to be one of them. And I don't mind getting old — I don't lie about my age — as long as I can enjoy reasonable health. A week from today I'll turn 70.

I try to take care of myself. I brush and floss my teeth, although not with the perfect regularity recommended by dentists. I also take care of my ears because I am practically a clone of my father. Both he and his mother started wearing hearing aids early in life. Dad was totally deaf in one ear and he had partial hearing in the other. I avoid loud noises. When I do noisy work outside, such as cutting stone with a hammer and chisel or using my leaf blower, I wear ballistic-grade ear protectors. So far, my hearing is fine.

Happy Birthday to Me, or Maybe Not

I haven't yet decided on a birthday present to myself. I want it to be something I'd really enjoy and it needs to be a little pampering to reward myself from getting through an unpleasant tooth extraction.

I considered another LEGO set, something a lot more complicated but a lot more fun. The previous build — which I completed in about 30 minutes but could have done a lot faster if I had not been vlogging at the time — was fun, but the pleasure passed too quickly. That car, by the way, has been completely disassembled and the pieces put back in their original packaging. I might gift someone, or maybe I'll want to build it again later.

At the other extreme, I'm seriously considering a Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo at about $1,000. I can rationalize most purchases and this one isn't difficult. Turning 70 is not your average birthday; it's a milestone. My brother likes to say we outlived most of our passed relatives. The only ones I knew to live longer were our grandmothers — Josephine lived to be 80 and Florence died at 93.

Another rationalization: Cancelling that appointment for the unnecessary tooth crown will save me a lot of money.

It's a frivolous purchase and $1,000 is a lot of money. But you can't take it with you. Also, it's a large appliance. I am going to need to do some heavy-handed decluttering to make room for it. Should I clear a bookshelf of books I never look at anymore? The shelves are only 12 inches deep, but the oven is more than 18 inches side to side and front to back. The shed seems like the most obvious place, but that will probably mean I will seldom use it.

And it never hurts to throw a little chum in the water. I watched several YouTube videos and some of the content creators were gifted a free oven by Breville. So I sent them an email to see if they might be interested — more than 400 cooking videos and nearly 50,000 subscribers.

They responded this morning and it was obvious they never read my question. They wanted the model number and serial number of the oven I purchased. That was disappointing.

Meanwhile, I'm leaning toward talking myself out of the oven because I feel a little discouraged by BestBuy. They sent me an email awarding me a 10% because of my birthday. It expires on July 31. They don't have the oven in stock. Too bad. It would have been the best price I found anywhere. And, oddly, Amazon's price is the highest by more than $340.

I put a question on Amazon's product page, asking why the price was so much higher than places like BestBuy, Williams-Sonoma, Sur lar Table, and others I found. I looked this morning and saw that Amazon removed the product page.

At this point, feeling discouraged, I think I'll simply continue to occasionally enjoy one of my Skillet Pizzas. They're delicious and they're easy.

Distraction

I also felt I needed a detailed project that would help keep my mind off my missing tooth. You might remember I tailored a dozen shirts during the stay-at-home period of the Covid pandemic earlier this year. I saved the larger leftover pieces of fabric and put them away, thinking they might be useful for making another remnant shirt.

I say another because I made a remnant shirt before. If you watched the video of me assembling the LEGO sports car, I was wearing that shirt. It sort of looks like a LEGO construction, but without all the plastic (it's 100% cotton).

So that's what I did. I laid out the pieces, planning how I might assemble them into larger lengths to cut the parts of a shirt — sleeves, bodice fronts and back. I think I have enough fabric without going to Target to buy a pillowcase or two.

Sunday 2021.7.18

To Prime or Not to Prime

I don't wish to be snarky, but why do I need to pay extra for Amazon Prime? On Thursday I ordered three small-ish items from Amazon. Two, maybe three, will appear in videos eventually. They arrived yesterday, two days after I ordered them. I don't pay extra for Prime and I do keep inexpensive items on a Wish List to add to an order if I need to bring it up to $25 for free shipping, which I did.

One item was a LEGO car kit I might have mentioned before (see below). I looked for the least expensive one and found an 89 piece set for under $9.00. Why? I saw a YouTube video in which Richard Hammond and James May (The Grand Tour and formerly UK Top Gear) assembled LEGO cars — or tried to — while answering questions from a live audience. If they failed to answer a question correctly they had to drink from a bottle labeled "For Legal Reasons Definitely Not Vodka" or something like that. The kits they had were expensive ones, more than $100 each. I say tried because May would occasionally steal a piece from Hammond's pile. Hammond, because he was getting hammered, didn't notice. He eventually quit his build.

I'm not going to spend $150 on a LEGO car kit. May and Hammon can afford to buy even the LEGO Bugatti Chiron at $345.85 (3,599 pieces). And I ask you, are there any bricks in that Bugatti kit that might also be used to build, say, a red firehouse?

I have a friend who collects LEGO kits. He goes a step further. There are web sites where he can see which pieces belong in a certain kit. He goes to thrift stores and gets bags of bricks and then uses them to assemble a proper kit — not assemble as in build, but collect all the pieces together into a complete set.

Personally, I hope never to become a LEGO collector. I don't even have enough storage space for my small kitchen appliances. However, I thought it might be amusing to assemble an easy LEGO kit while talking about something in a Kitchen Vlog or even while assembling something simple in a Mobile Home Gourmet video, which brings up another item in the order.

I purchased some limeade mix. Many years ago I would often visit some friends down in the city. We're not friends anymore, but that's a different matter. One of them would always mix me a gin drink. I don't like gin, but I really enjoyed that drink. It was delicious and refreshing. He said it was simply gin and limeade. I don't know if the lime mix had sugar in it. And I don't remember if he used any club soda — he must have because it wasn't a strong drink.

My most popular video on YouTube at the moment is Copycat Bailey's Irish Cream. People have requested more drinks videos, but I'm not drinker. I wouldn't know a gimlet from gimbal. (Okay, I know that one because I own a gimbal.) I've been thinking of that gin drink lately and I thought I might reproduce one in a cooking video. It wouldn't require much time; so I'll probably include a quick explanation of how to make a simple syrup, as a little is required for a gin gimlet made with lime juice rather than limeade mix, which has sugar in it.

What is the third item in the order? It is a pair of protective gloves some chefs and butchers wear when working with very sharp knives. I don't cut myself often. In fact, it has been years, but I do notice the accuracy of my hand movements degrading a little as I get older. Maybe now would be a good time to invest in a pair of those gloves before a serious knife slip sends me to the emergency room for stitches.

Learning From Books

It's no secret I read books. It's also no secret that Donald Trump has claimed, numerous times, that the 2020 election was rigged against him (but denies the 2016 election was rigged in his favor by the Russians). Michael Wolf in Landslide reports Trump's early claims soon after the votes were being counted. Trump wanted to stop the count because he was winning in rural and suburb areas where mostly Republican voters live. As the precincts began counting the mail-in ballots, which typically came from urban areas dominated mostly by Biden voters, Trump began to claim the election was being rigged against him by Democrats. They had rigged the election because they allowed mail-in voting.

LEGO

As mentioned above, I ordered a LEGO sports car kit. Yesterday evening I did the build in front of my video camera and this morning I finished the video editing. It's part of My Kitchen Vlog channel on YouTube. You can watch it (it's 38 minutes) by clicking the graphic link.

Or CLICK HERE.

It was a fun build. Sometimes people put requests in the comment section. "Build more of these." Okay. You buy the kit and I'll build it in a video. So — not that it will do any good — I added a My Kitchen Vlog gift list to my account on Amazon. I put a few inexpensive car kits in there. No Bugatti Chiron. If I get requests, I might announce my gift registry in a future video. Then those who are really committed to "build more of these" can, if they choose to, send me a gift kit through Amazon. I'm keeping my expectations low. Very low.

Wednesday 2021.7.14

Enjoying a Healthy Snack Again

Back in January I made Air Fryer Seasoned Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) several times. Then, during the pandemic, I drifted away from some cooking. I feel like I should have continued making the chickpeas. They're crunchy and delicious. They're healthy. They're easy to make. And they're a lot better for me than crackers or popcorn.

I stocked a lot of foods during the stay-at-home mandate from the state governor. Dry chickpeas, along with lentils, split green peas and some canned goods, were stored out in the shed. I'm still eating down my freezer and I've added the shed to my resolution as well.

I need to get a little more strict with myself. No shopping, except for half-and-half for my coffee and maybe a few other things, until I've used up the foods I have. I see pork spareribs on sale at a good price and buy them. At that price, they are sold in a bag of two or three racks. After I prep them, they take up a lot of space in the freezer. Chicken too. It's difficult to resist buying chicken when it's less than 99¢ per pound.

And so, as I sit here and write my blog, I'm nibbling on some crisp seasoned chickpeas. They taste good and I enjoy the crunch.

I Don't Trust My Dentist

I hate it when I can't trust a doctor. I've been through this before with a former dentist. He kept recommending crowns on my teeth. I got a second opinion from a dentist I trusted and he said there were no problems with my crowns. He warned me about dentists who make their money by selling unnecessary crowns. They're big ticket items, good for profits. I'd still be with that trustworthy dentist, but he retired.

I'm with a dental group really close to where I live. I like the office and I like the hygienist. But I don't trust the dentist. The two times I met with her for my annual examination, she talked crowns. I keep saying "No." Yesterday was my appointment for a six-month cleaning and annual exam with x-rays.

One tooth has to be pulled. It has been a problem tooth for many years and I'll be glad to see it gone. It's a back molar and there is no opposing tooth; so it isn't a chewing tooth. It serves no purpose. Besides, it's at an odd angle that traps food in the gap. I have to clean it every time I eat. Now there is a big cavity and enough of the root structure is lost so as to render the tooth beyond saving. Good riddance to it.

Another tooth has a different issue. The crown and root don't line up perfectly. There is a slight overhang. So what? It has been that way for many years. There is no decay. It isn't a problem area. Why does the dentist want to replace the crown? Does she need the money? Or is it corporate policy to sell crowns to patients who don't really need them? I don't see the rationale when the crown itself is fine. Call it a "watch area" and I'll work extra hard to make sure to clean the gap after I eat.

And Then Something More

When I went into the office I showed one of the receptionists my CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. "I've never seen one of these," she said. I asked if she was vaccinated. She said No, she doesn't like the idea a vaccines. An anti-vaxxer.

So, I'm feeling discouraged. It might be time to search for another dentist again.

Summer Reading

It's time to enjoy some summer reading again. I just got two new books I have been anticipating: Michael Wolff's latest book, Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency and Michael Bender's new book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.

I haven't yet decided which book I'll read first, but it will probably be Wolff's book because I read his previous two.

Sunday 2021.7.11

An Odd Surprise

Back when I experimented with a Roma tomato plant I also planted some onions in the same bucket. Supposedly they help keep the pests away. When I started my latest tomato plant, a Lazy Girl, I put only one onion in the bucket. It was fully rooted and came from the previous bucket. I didn't want too many other plants in the same bucket, competing for water and nutrients.

Meanwhile, I put the other onions in small plastic pots with soil, not knowing what I might eventually do with them. The tops eventually turned brown; so I assumed the onions had reached the limit of the life expectancy. I removed one from the pot to see if the bulb had grown. It was very small, less than an inch in diameter. So much for growing my own onions.

However, when I uprooted the onion, a large worm came with it. At some point I must have found a worm while digging in my yard and put it in the five-gallon bucket, thinking it might make nice with the soil for the sake of that Roma tomato plant. I put the worm in the Lazy Girl bucket.

Cooking

I've been doing a little less in the yard during the past few days. The weather has been warm and sunny and unless I can find a place to work in the shade (those areas are mostly done) it is uncomfortable to work in the sun. And so I decided to use some of my spare time to do another cooking video.

I like ribs, but until recently I wasn't able to achieve all my objectives with them. I want them fall-off-the-bone tender, but also moist and juicy. And, I want them to be easy — no standing at the grill for six to eight hours while the ribs slowly cook over low heat. I have a friend who does that and the ribs he serves are delicious.

I wrote about this challenge last month when I learned a shortcut — the Instant Pot. By pre-cooking the ribs in a pressure cooker for only 25 minutes, then finishing them on the grill or, in my case, my air fryer, I get really delicious ribs that are moist and tender. It really does work. So that was the cooking video I did this week.

The point of the video was shortcuts. Sometimes you don't have the time to slowly cook ribs on the grill. Maybe guests are coming to dinner and you want to serve them a satisfying and pleasing meal, but you need to clean house, get some laundry done, figure out what to do with the kids. You know how hectic life can be sometimes.

And rather than making my own barbecue sauce from scratch, I used some from a bottle (another shortcut). I did enhance it though. So taking advantage of a few shortcuts to get a delicious meal onto the table is a welcome idea.

The side dishes were easy too. I cooked some Seasoned Potato Wedges early, which only needed to be heated and crisped under the broiler. I have some lettuce; so I pulled another ripe tomato from my plant to make a quick salad.

As for the yard, the forecast for this week is mostly cloudy mornings followed by sunny afternoons. It should be good weather for working outside.

DOH!

I noticed something on YouTube this week. My videos are SD (standard definition). I thought they were HD. So I checked my settings.

I record in 1080p (HD) but I encode in 720p. Why? It goes back ten years to when I borrowed a friend's video camera. His camera was 720p; so I set my encoding resolution to match. In July of 2011 I bought my own camera (1080p), but I never changed the encoding resolution.

My latest video, Instant Pot Pork Spareribs, was uploaded in 1080p. I don't have a recipe because this is more of a procedure.

Wednesday 2021.7.7

Tomatoes

The first ripe tomatoes are about ready to be picked.

All is not well though. There are signs of mildew on the leaves and stalks. I know better than to water the plant from above. Water on the leaves promotes mildew. I water from below. However, one of the disadvantages of training the branches around the tomato cage is that it keeps the leaves and branches closer together, reducing air flow, which can encourage moisture buildup.

I did some research on the internet and neem oil spray is one way to solve the problem. Thankfully, the garden center at the local Home Depot store has it in stock. I sprayed the leaves and stems well after cutting out the dead stuff.

A "DUH!" Moment

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I have a portable washing machine, a Haier model HLP21N (no longer available), which I purchased in February of 2018. I roll it from the closet where I store it into the bathroom where I hook it up and do my laundry. It isn't a big machine, but it's plenty adequate for one or two people.

I don't have a drier. Instead, I rigged up a clothes line here in the office, to one side where it is out of my way. Thick knits and heavy cotton trousers take the longest to dry, sometimes 24 hours or longer.

I've had an extra box fan lying around for a long time. It was out in the shed. A year or two ago I moved it into my home and used it to waft away the fumes when cutting onions. Then I had an idea. Why not set it up next to the clothesline and run it to help dry my clothes? And so, more than three years after I bought my washer I now have a drier, sort of. It works and it didn't cost me anything. The heaviest clothes dry in an hour or two. Shirts are dry in about 30 minutes if the humidity is low.

My Kitchen Vlog

And finally, I did a new Kitchen Vlog, my first one since my Covid vaccination two months ago. In it you can see me taste the first tomato from my plant. I was surprised it was so sweet!

To view it, click the graphic or CLICK HERE.

Sunday 2021.7.4

Happy Independence Day

Where I live, there will be no fireworks again the year. Last year it was because of the pandemic. I don't know the reason this year. Vaccinated people don't need to wear a mask in stores or other inside, or outside, locations. Those who are not vaccinated are supposed to wear one, but there is no way to check. It's an honor system. Most people are fully vaccinated here. So I don't know why we will not see fireworks this evening.

I enjoyed them in the past, but mostly because they were launched from a park behind the Costco shopping center. I could watch the display from the rear deck of my home. Pour a glass of something to drink — it could be wine or some Bailey's Irish Cream — and then sit back to enjoy the festivities. Maybe next year.

More About the Tour de France

During Wednesday's Time Trial they announced the police had found the woman who caused the crash on day one of the Tour de France. She was arrested and being held in custody. I believe I learned the organizers were suing her for negligent endangerment.

The announcers detailed the degrees to which the public is warned in advance of the Tour, receiving almost daily requests for cooperation weeks before the beginning of the race. They know to stay off the roads. I still think two police cars with sirens blaring ahead of the peleton would keep the cyclists safe.

Mark Cavendish won a second stage on Thursday, bringing his career total to 32. He needs only two more to match the record of Eddy Merckx. Cavendish is regarded as the fastest sprinter ever to compete in the Tour. He was helped this year by the injury of Caleb Ewen, who had to withdraw from the race with a broken collar bone. Ewen is a lot younger than Cavendish; therefore, he is a more capable challenger.

Cavendish is also being helped this year by the team. During his past few Tours he was left to compete on his own. Sprinters need a lead-out train to help set them up for the final sprint. When the other sprinters have a lead-out, it's difficult for Cavendish to win without one. The team he is on this year is committed to helping him win stages. If Cavendish can stay healthy, he'll have a clear shot at setting a new Tour record.

Always Willing to Experiment

I like making Skillet Pizza. It's easy and it doesn't heat up the kitchen on a summer day.

On Wednesday evening, to help celebrate having finished the landscaping at the front of my home, I tried making an upside-down skillet pizza. I arranged pepperoni slices and pieces of cooked Italian sausage in the bottom of a cast iron skillet. I dabbed some pizza sauce on that and garnished it with a little dry oregano. Then I arranged some shredded mozzarella cheese on top. The pan went under the broiler to melt the cheese and slightly brown it.

You might have noticed I didn't mention a crust. I've done No-Crust Pizza before. There is a recipe for it on this web site. They're good for people who might be gluten intolerant or who are on a keto diet and need to restrict their carb intake.

My upside-down pizza wasn't a success. I wouldn't describe it as a total failure. The pizza wasn't awful. It was edible and I enjoyed it enough to eat all of it. When I want to make something like this again, I'll do the No-Crust Pizza mentioned above. I've made that many times and it's good.

There are recipes for upside-down pizza on the internet. After my own attempt I went onto YouTube and watched many videos. The arrangement of "toppings" (underlings?) was different and the cooks used far more sauce than I did. And they added a crust on top. The results were not appetizing, no matter how much the creator tried to sell them as "really delicious."

I also have a few different recipes for pizza crust, ones that I learned by watching America's Test Kitchen videos. The crusts are excellent. I recently used one to make a right-side-up skillet pizza in a cast iron pan so that I could lightly brown it under the broiler. It was good.

Forget about the upside-down pizza idea. It might be a novelty that could be fun to serve guests when there is better food on the grill. Give the kids the pizza; save the wagyu steaks for the adults.

Books

The post-Trump presidency books are beginning to appear. As expected, some authors are saying Trump will go down in history as one of the worst presidents to ever occupy the Oval Office. I certainly won't read every one, but I'll enjoy learning from a few authors, such as Michael Wolff. His book, Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency, is due out toward the end of this month.

Happy Anniversary to Me

Thursday was an anniversary. I retired ten years ago. For the past decade I've been enjoying a more pleasant life being gainfully unemployed. I receive a modest pension and Social Security benefits.

If you follow this blog, you know I haven't been sitting idly in a rocking chair watching TV all day. I've been busy, and working fairly hard some days, improving my yard to fight the gophers and squirrels. But I work at my own pace. And when my yard is complete, it will require even less maintenance than it did before.

I don't know what my next project might be. I really should return to making cooking videos again. I have some ideas.

Cooking Ideas

One of my projects lately is to de-clutter my life. I had some LP records, but no turntable. I had some laserdiscs but no player. Those have all been recycled. I did check Ebay to see if any might be valuable collectibles. The prices started at 99¢ and didn't go much higher.

This week I worked on a small stack of Cook's Illustrated magazines I was saving. There were recipes I wanted to try. I looked through each magazine and cut out the recipe I wanted to save, if any. Some I had already made. I ended up with nine recipes and a few "second variations" that I added to my existing recipes — for example a variation of Eggplant Parmesan I might try someday.

I really like eggplant. I know some people who love it and others who despise it. No one is indifferent to it. One of the recipes is Eggplant Involtini. Involtini are rolls. I have a recipe for Veal Involtini on this web site. The one addition I might make for the eggplant is to fry some prosciutto slices until crisp and then chop them into small crumbs to mix into the filling.