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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Wednesday 2016.12.4

Christmas Movies

As planned, I started watching the Christmas movies I have on DVD or as MKV files (which play on my Blu-ray player). I started with Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), then continued with How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Just Friends (2005), A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011), and The Night Before (2015).

Okay, some of those movies are not exactly classic Christmas entertainment like Scrooge, White Christmas, and It's a Wonderful Life (all of which will be watched later). Maybe they're better described and crude. I organize my movies by how they are rated on IMDb.com, starting with the lowest rated. However, despite the crudeness, they make me laugh, and that's a good thing.

Instant Pot Ribs?

Hmm. What can't you do in an Instant Pot? Maybe laundry. One excellent advantage of having a cooking channel on YouTube is that I occasionally hear from people who cook foods in ways I never thought possible. A woman wrote to say she cooks ribs in her Instant Pot. She says the meat comes out tender and moist, falling off the bone. I had to give it a try. Thankfully I still had some ribs in the freezer, bought on sale during the summer and packed with marinade.

I added a little water and placed the ribs, still frozen, in the IP. Set the pressure to high and the time to 30 minutes. The ribs were indeed tender and moist, falling off the bone. They had more of a steamed flavor rather than a roasted or grilled flavor. They lacked the maillard reaction, that browning you get on the surface of foods when cooked with dry heat or in hot oil. For a quick meal, it's okay, but I wouldn't serve it to guests. I'd rather use the grill or, if it's raining, my air fryer.

Someone suggested using the Instant Pot, but browning the ribs a little under the broiler or on the grill before and after cooking them, giving them more of a roasted flavor. Good idea.

Ants

One side-effect of the rain is the ants. They move indoors for the winter. I saw them in my kitchen on Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, I now know what to do. These are protein ants; so cook up a small amount of scrambled eggs, mix it with some boric acid powder, put it in a small jar with holes in the lid, and place the jar where the ants can easily find it. By yesterday morning the ants were gone.

However, a strange thing happened this morning. I checked the ant situation and they were swarming to the jar again. I looked closely and they were moving their eggs into the bait jar. I'd never seen that before. It was time to try something else. You might remember this:

I made this as an experiment to see if I might be able to vacuum seal some foods in plastic pouches without using my FoodSaver sealer. It works, but I rarely use it. So I temporarily adapted it to this:

That green squeeze bulb thing came in a package of ear cleaner. I used a small funnel to put some diatomaceous earth in the plastic tube. Then I attached the bulb, poked the needle end through one of the holes in the lid of the bait jar, and then dusted the inside of the jar with the powder.

If you're not familiar with diatomaceous earth, it's a very fine glass powder, mostly silica, the remains of diatoms, which are single-cell algae. Diatoms have the unique quality of building their cell walls with silica, a glass-like mineral. Diatomaceous earth is not poison, but it can irritate the nose, lungs and eyes and should therefore be handled carefully.

Diatomaceous earth is commonly use to control insects. By dusting an ant trail with the powder, the ants get it on their shells and feet. They carry it to the nest where they infect other ants. The glass eventually cuts through their shell, or exoskeleton, killing the ants.

I'll know in the next few days how well my evil plan worked. If I remember, I'll report in Sunday's blog.

Dymondia

Earlier this week I planted the other two flats of Dymondia I was rooting on my deck. More than half the clippings had survived and rooted. They were in the ground in time for the next rain, which started last night and is continuing today. Meanwhile, I started rooting another four flats of clippings, and this time I tried dipping each cutting in rooting hormone.

And, Finally Something to Appreciate

For several years I've been buying half-and-half dairy creamer at the local Albertsons supermarket. For those who might not know: Half-and-half is half milk and half cream. It's richer. We like it in our coffee. I prefer the ultra-pasteurized version because it lasts a lot longer — fewer trips to the store.

However, Albertsons changed their cooler case and now the dairy product is not easy to find. It sells out quickly because they stock only a small amount. The local Target store that opened recently has a grocery section and they stock ultra-pasteurized half-and-half. And better yet is the price — a dollar less than I was paying at Albertsons.

Sunday 2019.12.1

Post-Thanksgiving Chore

I decided to give myself a three-day task: clean up a hard disk drive (HDD) on one of my computers. I started on Friday (a good way not to be lured into some of the Black Friday sales). However, I suspect this project will turn into an early New Year's Resolution taking a few weeks.

The HDD is something I use to store my downloads, like movies. It came into more notice when I decided to organize my Christmas movies for watching in December. The HDD is nearly 90% full. I don't like to exceed 75%. I am finding things I forgot I downloaded. On Friday I burned a DVD of a movie, The Holly and the Ivy, that I must have downloaded late last year. The date on the folder was 12/25/2018. So, besides creating the DVD and adding it to my list of movies to watch in December, I cleared it off the HDD.

There is a lot more to do. After that first DVD, I burned another six. And those are just the DVDs. I have dozens of movies in MKV format to back up and store.

I'm an Old Dog

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I wonder how true that is for us humans.

Case in point: What is the best format for a flash drive to store files larger than 4GB? I didn't know and I have a drive I formatted wrong. I used "exFAT" because I wanted big files, but the drive wasn't recognized by my Blue-ray player.

Just to explain: I have a Yamaha Blue-ray player with a USB port in the front. I can copy movie files onto a flash drive and watch them on my TV via that USP port.

I had to do some research on the Internet. It turns out the drive should have been formatted as "NTSC". Who knew? Did that, then I watched Just Friends (a Ryan Reynolds movie), which isn't exactly a Christmas movie like Scrooge or The Polar Express, but the action takes place at Christmastime.

'Tis the Season, I Know

I should be nicer. There are some things I can't abide. One of them is a feigned helplessness by people who don't want to deal with their issues and so try to get others to do things for them. Case in point: A neighbor knocks on my door and asks for the phone number of the gas company. I don't know their number. I don't even know the name. We don't receive invoices from them. The billing is all done through the park management, all on one statement.

She has a phone book. We all do. So what's the problem? She doesn't want to be bothered looking it up — and, what's worse, if I find the phone number for her she'll ask me to call them to come out and inspect her furnace and, in the meantime, could I look at it to see if it's working okay? That's how she works.

I've been suckered into this sort of thing several times by her. It was very irritating trying to deal with the bank when she lost her checkbook. There was a DVD player she wanted me to connect to the TV and then figure out how to get it working. There was a clog in her sewer line that she wanted me to do something about. It goes on and on.

I'm not dumb. I'm useful for a few things. I make an excellent Tuscan Meatloaf, and my Custard Pie ain't bad either. But I'm not good at plumbing or wiring. Leave those things to the licensed professionals.

Dymondia

The much-anticipated rains are here. It rained on and off most of the past week and the same is predicted for the coming week. Thankfully, there was no heavy rain, which might cause mud slides in the burn areas of the mountains. Instead, we've seen light to moderate rain, steady at times, but mostly showers.

This is the time I've been waiting for. Today and tomorrow, while there is a break in the weather, I'll plant the Dymondia I've been rooting in trays on my back deck. Then I'll cut more pieces and start them rooting for later.