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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2018.9.16

A Day in the Park

Thursday a friend and I went to a local park to cook. I rode my Pedego e-bike to video the ride for my Cycling Adventures for Seniors channel on YouTube. He drove, which helped a lot because we needed more oak firewood than might be typical.

The need for the wood was because of the cooking time. We slow-braised goat shanks for about 2½ hours. Yes, goat shanks.

In Wednesday's blog I mentioned the frozen meats he received from his uncle. Among them was a package of goat shanks. We agreed a Persian spice blend would work well, then slow-braising in chicken stock with some citrus zest added. Toward the end of the cooking time we added small whole potatoes and some cut up carrots.

After nearly two hours I wasn't excited about the flavor of the broth. It needed something more than just a little salt. We added some chicken bouillon and some honey. That finished it perfectly.

Everything was delicious. The goat was not gamey, nor was it tough. The slow-braising cooked it well enough to fall off the bone. It was tender and mild with a flavor all its own. It didn't taste like any other meat I know. Other side dishes included a tabouli salad and some flat bread, which was perfect for dipping in the sauce.

And I should probably mention that the whole point of the escapade was to do something totally atypical of usual barbecue fare. In fact, some people in the park saw our production (we had a lot of stuff for just two people) and stopped by to ask what we were cooking. They were surprised to hear "goat."

And that is how this week's feature recipe, Slow-Braised Goat Shanks, was created. The bike ride video is still being edited. I hope to have it ready by Saturday.

Cycling Video

I finished editing the video of Santa Barbara's Courthouse and Alice Keck Park. It's a small ride in the city, just showing off two destinations. The Courthouse is popular with tourists. I climbed the stairs up into the clock tower to video views of the city. You can watch the video by clicking this graphic:

Or CLICK HERE.

Another group ride is planned for this Saturday. I'll video that one as well.

Wednesday 2018.9.12

Hurricane Concerns

I don't live on the East Coast of the USA, but some fans of my web site and YouTube videos do. I've heard from some of them. One doesn't live close to the coast, but she and her husband do live in the rainfall area. They are near a lake, which will hopefully absorb a lot of the water, although there might be flooding along the shore. Another fan reported long lines at gas stations. I assume he was filling his car to evacuate to a safer area. I hope they get through the storm safely.

Changes

Change is inevitable. I'm not one of those people who dislikes change, although sometimes it can be unpleasant. I mentioned in my last blog I would probably be changing my cooking and eating habits. Someone named Roberta suggested I shift from gourmet meals to healthy ones. She even gave me a slogan I might use: Motivation, not temptation.

I have several Mediterranean diet cookbooks. Thankfully I like fish and olive oil. I'll look closely at some of these recipes to see how they might be adapted to use my Instant Pot. The Instant Pot isn't necessary. Many of the foods can be cooked in a standard saucepan and/or skillet and some can use a standard pressure cooker. I prefer the Instant Pot for convenience, and when I use a liner it becomes even easier because there is little or no cleanup.

MEAT!

A friend received a bountiful gift of frozen meats from his uncle — lamb, goat, deer, etc. There are ribs, roasts, shanks, steaks, and other cuts. He doesn't have enough storage space; so I offered one shelf of my freezer — not without a little trepidation. That meat could be in there for many months. He is leaving for Africa in six weeks and plans to be there through the end of the year, maybe a little longer.

My plan is to start organizing recipes and barbecues. If I tell him I'm preparing a bundle of goat shanks to be braised in a Dutch oven over an oak fire at a local park as part of my Cycling Adventures for Seniors video series, he will show up. If I leave everything to him, nothing will happen. I'm not complaining; I just know the kind of person he is.

If possible, I'd like to get two videos from each adventure — one for my cycling channel and the other for my Mobile Home Gourmet channel. Although they won't fit into my plans for healthier meals, they might be good cooking videos for my YouTube channel. I'll make and eat plenty of salad.

And Speaking of Meat…

I tried eating a steak on Sunday. Boy was I sick the following day! There were no other symptoms besides pain in my gut all day and an overall feeling of illness. I didn't eat anything until evening. I know the meat hadn't turned bad. It was bought fresh and frozen immediately. It was thawed quickly in the microwave oven, about 3 minutes. So there was no time for bacteria to take over. I simply don't do well with steak.

I've said many times in my blogs that I prefer lamb when I want red meat. I've had an aversion to steak since my teenage years and evidently I haven't grown out of it yet. Hamburgers are fine. Hotdogs are even better. But steak? Not me.

As for Videos…

I uploaded two videos this week, besides the feature video of spareribs. I put Saturday's Pedego group ride on my Cycling Adventures for Seniors channel. You can watch it by clicking this graphic:

Or CLICK HERE.

The group ride was fun because several people showed up. There were about ten of us on Pedego e-bikes cruising around the east side of Santa Barbara and Montecito. The ride was nearly two hours, including stops, but I only put a few highlights in the video.

The second upload was an unboxing video of my new FoodSaver vacuum sealer. The old one no longer worked properly. It was time to replace it. You can watch that video here:

Or CLICK HERE.

I wouldn't list it among my best videos, but product videos like this one tend to do well on YouTube because people search for information before buying something. I do that too. Most of my vlog videos are seen fewer than 100 times. My Haier portable washing machine video currently has more than 8,000 views.

Sunday 2018.9.9

Change in Plans?

There might be a change in my plans soon. If you've seen my videos during the past year or two, it is no secret that I gained the weight I lost several years ago. If I remember correctly, I lost about 65 pounds. I looked and felt good. But the good times didn't last.

I was enrolled in an online weight loss program. The cost was paid by my health insurance. There was some accountability. We weighed ourselves on a scale they sent us. It had a function to "call home" and report our weight each day. Some people didn't like a scale reporting their weight. I approved. For me, there needs to be some level accountability. I need to feel I am answerable to someone.

However, as on online course, I was a name on a page. There was no face-to-face interaction. The group was scattered across the country and most participants were known only by their first name. As such, it was easy to cheat, although I didn't. Of the 30 in each group, only four or five completed the program.

I tried and I successfully lost the weight. At the end of the year we were let loose to continue our success on our own. We could keep the scale. I disabled my scale's reporting function by disconnecting the internal antenna.

Here is where I saw a problem. Left to my own devices, I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to eat. I need accountability. I wish there were a lifelong program, like A.A., where I could continue to attend, be weighed, and fellowship with other dieters. I tried Overeaters Anonymous, but it didn't work for me. Similar to A.A. each person gets a minute or two to talk about themselves. "Hi. My name is John and I am a food addict.…" There was no weigh-in, no weight-loss goal, and no interaction. The self-reporting was evidently a reward in itself.

Now there is a new program. Last week I received a letter from my health insurance company saying I might qualify for a local program. I did some research. There are online programs for those too distant to attend a meeting, but I am not far from the meeting place. Although it isn't a short trek, I could ride my Pedego e-bike, as long as the program is during the day and ends before dark. And even if it is an evening program, I have a car.

The letter says there will 16 weekly in-person sessions with a health coach and small group, followed by monthly maintenance sessions. The weigh-ins are done in private. It doesn't say how long the maintenance sessions will continue, but I'm hoping they last indefinitely. I'd pay for that.

What is the Change in Plans?

Here is what I am anticipating: Working with a coach, I will probably discuss my web site and my YouTube channel as a source of temptation. What if the coach says those could be an impediment to my losing weight? I'll need to make a decision. I think my health will need to come first.

But it's too early to know. As I said, I haven't even begun the program yet. However, even if I should discontinue the cooking videos, I still plan to write my blogs.

Group Ride

I went on another Pedego group ride yesterday. I has been a while since a group ride was organized. This time the ride was scheduled for 10:00 rather than an hour earlier. Maybe as a result, several people showed up, some with their bikes, some taking advantage of the free rental from the Pedego dealership. Pat, the owner, arranges these rides to promote his store, and he sells bikes as a result. It's good for business.

I brought my GoPro camera and recorded the ride. We biked into the area of Montecito where there was the tragic mud slide/debris flow last winter that took several lives. I hadn't seen the area up close. Even though plenty of time has passed, cleanup continues to progress. In some areas houses are completely gone. In others the depth of the mud is visible by looking at the buildings that remain. The mud was almost halfway up the sides of the external walls.

Santa Barbara Courthouse

I decided go do a second ride (after going home and exchanging camera and gimbal batteries — I need to remember to pack them) and video the Courthouse. I got some good footage of the outside, the mural room, and the view from the tower. But first, the tower:

Even though I ride my bike often, my legs don't have the stamina they once had. It's my age. I couldn't climb the stairs to the top all in one go. Besides, it was hot and humid. Thankfully, there is a ledge part of the way up. I sat for several minutes, recovered my breath, and then finished the climb. The view from the top was worth the effort.

Then, because the ride wasn't a long one, I continue up Santa Barbara Street to Alice Keck park where the turtles are. A sign at the turtle pond said the turtles would be back after the water stabilizes. Stabilizes? Temperature? PH? There were turtles, although not in the same abundance I've seen them before. However, I got some good footage (I hope).

I am still editing the two videos I shot yesterday. They will be on my YouTube channel Cycling Adventures for Seniors as soon as they are ready.

Link

I finished the day at the Pedego store again where Pat, the owner, asked if he could link my Cycling Adventures for Seniors YouTube channel on his web site. Yes! Links increase my subscriptions and views, and improve my ranking on Google/YouTube.

Wednesday 2018.9.5

Air Frying

On Monday I shot another cooking video, this time using my air fryer to cook marinated pork spareribs. As I mentioned in Sunday's blog, the air fryer seems adept at cooking meats in such a way that they look grilled. Consider it a convenient and versatile counter top convection oven. It works the same, but it's smaller.

Again I purchased a two-pack of full-size spareribs, which I cut into portions of four ribs per section. And, as planned, I used my new vacuum sealer to wrap the ribs for freezing. I used some of the marinade I prepared for the video by pouring a little of it into each bag before vacuuming and sealing the ribs inside.

I also air fried more potato wedges because I really like them and because I thought they might go well with the ribs. Here's a photo. The photo is a link to the YouTube video. Click on it to watch.

Or CLICK HERE.

And Then I Changed My Mind

Actually, it was during the night. I woke up thinking I needed to remove a clip from the video. I tried using my GoPro camera for overhead shots, but the color was awful. It took a long time to adjust the colors to match those from my Sony camera. And the one shot I did use really didn't show anything more than the Sony captured. It was superfluous.

So, this morning when I got out of bed and armed myself with a cup of coffee, I edited the video again, deleted the original YouTube video (no one had viewed it yet), and uploaded the replacement video. It isn't a vast improvement, but I don't want to incorporate overhead shots unless they are going to useful or necessary.

Funny Camera

I mentioned in an earlier blog that my GoPro has voice activation. "GoPro start recording" starts it recording. It gets funny when I'm editing a video and the camera is on my desk. Several times in my video I'll tell the camera to record and the GoPro hears the command from my computer's speakers and starts recording. I have to put the camera in the other room.

Funny Dream

Well, maybe not so funny. I dreamed I was living in a house with other people. We knew there was a fire on the hillside, but no one told us to evacuate. We were watching TV and I got up to go into the kitchen. The back of the house was on fire. I rushed into the other room, told my housemates to go out the front, and we hopped into my SUV and drove away. From a nearby vantage point we, along with others from the area, watched as the whole neighborhood went up in flames.

Dreams can be meaningful. Sometimes they tell us something we might want to know. This seemed like an anxiety dream. I must have been worried about something. Maybe it was that overhead video clip that I didn't need in my ribs video.

Sunday 2018.9.2

Happy Labor Day

Tomorrow is Labor Day here in the USA. It celebrates the workers who made this country a great nation. In many parts of the country the day is also the unofficial end of barbecue season. I'm happy I moved to Southern California.

September Already

Summer is nearly over. Three more weeks. I always enjoy summer. Growing up in New England, summer was my favorite time of year. I didn't like the cold and the snow, except when I was a child. I spent many hours sledding in the snow and skating on local ponds. As I grew older, especially when I started to drive, ice and snow were no longer as much fun anymore.

Although here in California summer never really goes away, at least not very far away, I still enjoy this time of year. However, I now look forward to the cooler months. It's a time for making soups and baking breads. As I mentioned in Wednesday's blog, we still have about six weeks of warm weather before the season really comes to an end.

Gooseneck GoPro Camera Mount

Last month I blogged about my new gooseneck camera mount. I did a demonstration video for My Kitchen Vlog. You can watch it by clicking the following graphic.

Or CLICK HERE.

That video was kind of a test run, the first time I used the gooseneck mount. Things went well. I planned it correctly, even down to the distance the camera needed to be above my food prep surface. That gives me confidence. Although my Sony camera will still provide the bulk of my video content, the GoPro will provide a different camera angle when I need one. It won't help any of my cooking videos to go viral on YouTube, but I do believe that little extra bit of content will give my videos a more professional appearance.

Ribs

This week the local Smart & Final store has Farmer John Pork Spareribs on sale for $1.69/pound (regular $2.29). I bought a package. They're large, what appears to be the entire side of the pig, and two racks per package. That's a lot, but that's okay. I had a lot of experimenting to do (and my neighbors were grateful).

Here is the result of one experiment:

For this one I marinated the ribs for 30 minutes. Then I cooked them in my air fryer, set to 225°F, for 30 minutes each side, then cooked them an additional hour at 250°F, again turning them over halfway through the hour. Those ribs look grilled to me.

The flavor was good and the meat was tender and moist, almost falling off the bone. I'm not done yet. I want a little smoky flavor; so I'm thinking of adding smoked paprika to the next marinade. There is very likely a video in this. The ribs will continue to be on sale through Tuesday; so I will probably purchase another package or two.

The plan is to section each rack into smaller pieces, like you see above, and vacuum seal them in pouches for storage in the freezer. I have plenty of room and this will supply me with ribs for most, if not all, of the winter. I am even thinking of adding marinade to some vacuum bags before freezing the ribs. If you've done this, let me know. I'd like to know how well it works.

Bread

It isn't quite September yet and already there are discussions of winter bread baking. A fan up in Washington has been emailing me about bread books. She has dozens, and a house to store them in. I have plenty too, but mine are in EPUB format, easily stored on a data CD with plenty of room to spare.

Maybe the weather is cooling more rapidly in Washington. We're still warm down here, although the nighttime predictions of temperature are dipping below 60° again. We still have September and October. The next six weeks can sometimes be the hottest time of year. Last year October when I bought my Pedego e-bike it was 103° outside. I can't complain. Daytime temperatures have been relatively mild so far this summer.

Another Cycling Adventure for Seniors

Yesterday I uploaded another Cycling Adventure for Seniors. I loaded my bike onto my SUV and drove up the coast to the Gaviota Beach State Park. There is a road and trail that leads up into the mountains to the Gaviota Wind Caves. It is rated a "moderate" hike, but too long and too steep for me. Despite my sitting down and resting a few times along the trail, I never climbed all the way to the top. That's okay. My YouTube channel is not Hiking Adventures for Seniors.

I did video the area using my GoPro on my helmet. You can watch the video by clicking the graphic:

Or CLICK HERE.

And One Final Note — Ants

They were back in the kitchen again — not as bad as before, but there were plenty of them. I set up my usual bait trap. They found it. They swarmed to it. They're gone now, at least for a while.

Sunday 2018.8.26

Grilling Revisited

I remembered something from back in the 1980s. I used to do some grilling back then. I made my own barbecue using an old steel frame from a chair (the kind you sometimes saw in small restaurants, maybe now replaced with plastic chairs), the lid of a garbage can for a fire pan, and a chrome refrigerator shelf for a grill rack. Using some coat hanger wire I rigged up a way to raise and lower the rack. It worked. I used it many times. Back then I had a charcoal briquette starter chimney. Those of you who grill know exactly what I'm writing about.

Charcoal Chimney

I bought one at the local Home Depot store. What if I were to load the bottom with some paper and kindling and then pile a few small pieces of split oak on top? I even bought some of those fire starter cubes, which I think are paraffin.

If you have the materials, you can make your own starters. I watched a few videos on YouTube. The starters were made with saw dust and wax. What if I were to shred some newspaper, like I did for the paper maché briquettes, and add melted wax? I'm always willing to experiment. On the other hand, the fire starters I bought were inexpensive; so why bother making my own?

Air Fryer Marinated Chicken Revisited

I shot one set of photographs, but I wasn't happy. The plate looked like something was missing. It needed to be stacked with food. I shot photographs again, this time filling the plate almost to overflowing. Here is one photo I liked.

air fried chicken

And, of course, you already know this is the featured recipe this week.

Holy Camera Angle Batman!

I tried something new. Along with my Sony video camera I also used my GoPro camera, affixing it above my work surface as I prepared a dinner in my Instant Pot. I didn't use much of the video captured by the GoPro, but during times when a view into the pot from above seemed appropriate I switched to the GoPro clips. The result was excellent, if not perfect — yet.

I still need to make a few adjustments. The GoPro has a wide angle lens and it therefore recorded all of my kitchen, from wall to wall. However, my video editing software allows me to zoom when necessary; so I was able to use the important part of each video. Next time I'll do a full zoom on the GoPro, which still isn't close enough, and I'll lower the camera, keeping it out of frame of the Sony. Between the two, I should get some good video.

As for the food being prepared, it was a Penne and Italian Sausage experiment. I saw a video on YouTube in which a man put dry pasta, along with other ingredients, into his Instant Pot and pressure cooked it for six minutes. I had to know if the pasta cooked to the right texture. It did.

As for his recipe, I personally believe it bordered on awful. I understand some people like excess. More is always better, right? Not for me. I like well balanced flavors, such that you know something delicious is there, but you can't always identify what it is. I helped a friend become a better cook and he says the most valuable lesson he learned was to balance the flavors. No excess.

So I wrote my own recipe. It surprised me; it turned out better than I expected. It's a keeper. I'll publish the video next Sunday, but you can watch it now by going to the recipe page and clicking the green "View the Video" butter. Here is a link to the recipe:

Penne & Italian Sausage

Or CLICK HERE.

An Elegant Solution

As I mentioned above, I experimented with my GoPro camera to provide overhead video of my cooking preparation. The issue: GoPro's wide-angle lens. It shows too much of my kitchen. I had to enlarge those video clips 350%, reducing the resolution, and therefore the clips look a little fuzzy in the video. The solution would be to combine the GoPro's zoom function with closer camera positioning.

I pulled out a tape measure, some string, and some foamcore board to try fabricating some sort of prototype mounting system. I also called a friend to run the idea past him. He suggested using one of those articulating desk lamps (some costing more than $100), removing the wiring and bulb socket, mounting it to the wall, and coming up with some way to attach my GoPro. That led to searches on Amazon, Home Depot, and Staples. One search led to another and I liked the idea of a gooseneck lamp best. And that led to "gooseneck camera mount."

It turns out that such a mount is already available for the GoPro. It looks like this:

GoPro camera mount

What could be easier? And it was inexpensive too, about $16 with free shipping. There were less expensive models, but those shipped from China. I don't want to wait that long. I also could have ordered it from Amazon and paid a few dollar less, but I don't pay for Amazon Prime — it probably wouldn't ship until Friday — and I would have needed to order at least $25 to get free shipping. The one I ordered should be here no later than Friday. It's coming from New Jersey.

Wednesday 2018.8.22

Grilling Bupkis

I will begin by admitting I am not a barbecue afficionado. I'm not even a novice. I'm more of a pre-novice. In other words, I have almost less than no experience or knowledge about grilling.

The caveat to that was two videos I did in which I grilled in a park (not counting the cooking adventure in which I fried a piece of fish in a skillet). In both grilling videos I was with a friend who grills almost on a weekly basis — several times a week during the best times of summer. He knows how to light a grill, whether using gas, charcoal, or wood. I don't.

I tried doing a video in which I made some marinade that looked promising. I marinated some chicken for 30 minutes (more about that in a bit) and attempted to start a wood fire in my Uco Flatpack "Grill & Firepit" (their spelling, not mine). I have two issues. 1) I don't know how to start a wood fire in a grill and 2) I live in a mobile home park and the idea of starting a fire so close to homes freaks me out. I even brought a fire extinguisher outside with me.

Now that bit on marinating that I promised:

America's Test Kitchen tested marinating times. They found that anything beyond 20 to 30 minutes is a waste of time because the marinade doesn't penetrate deeply into the chicken. They marinated some chicken for 8 hours. Then they removed and discarded a thin surface layer, like 2mm, and grilled the chicken. They also grilled some chicken that was not marinated. 30 taste testers could not detect a difference.

After several attempts to start a wood fire, I gave up and moved back indoors. What to do with the marinated chicken? I loaded it into my air fryer and cooked it up. It came out magnificent — so much so, it deserved a photograph.

Chicken

I'd be willing to bet I could tell people this chicken was grilled over a wood fire and they'd believe me. Only the most experienced grill masters would know it wasn't.

Maybe I don't need a grill at all. How does that expression go? "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Julia Child used say, "If something goes wrong in the kitchen, pretend it was your intention all along." I'll make this chicken again and I'll cook it in the air fryer again. And I'll do it as a video, as if I had planned it that way. Look for it on Sunday.

And this blog gave me another idea. When I do a video, I usually include a short (sometimes maybe not short enough) intro. What if I were to include in the intro a brief look at the finished food? Might it encourage some people to watch the video all the way through, thus increasing my YouTube watch time? Or would they quit the video sooner? It's worth an experiment.

As for grilling, I won't give up on the idea. All across America, and indeed around the world, wood fires are used for cooking. I just need to learn how to start a fire in my camp stove.

Sunday 2018.8.19

A Little Excitement

Wednesday evening I heard loud banging and shouting outside. Like other neighbors, I assumed it was a family across the street. They're known for noise. A quick peek outside revealed it was another neighbor, and there were police cars and officers trying to get into the home. Some were holding guns.

I turned out the lights and stayed inside. I did keep low and peek through the curtains to watch the scene unfold. The police were tearing up upholstery in a truck out front. Later they went through an SUV parked in the driveway. I could see through the home's front window and they were inside, opening drawers and dumping the contents.

I never did learn exactly what was going on, but it had the appearance of a drugs bust.

Computer-1 Again

And for those who might be wondering (from reading my earlier blogs), Computer-1 was working so well I decided to risk installing the game that I thought might have caused the initial problem. So far, the game and the computer are both working well.

Seasoned Potato Wedges

This week's feature recipe is Seasoned Potato Wedges and I wished I could have achieved a better photograph. You win a few; you lose a few. I do go onto the Internet to see how other potato wedges were photographed. The pictures looked much better, but the wedges had been lightly seasoned, probably only with salt, and mine were liberally seasoned with an herb/spice blend. I hope my photograph doesn't discourage cooks from trying this delicious way to prepare potatoes.

Pedego Group Ride?

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary celebration of the Pedego e-bike store down in the city. Group rides were planned during the day. Like many, I attended.

I attached my Tule bike carrier to the back of my SUV and loaded my bike. I also brought my GoPro camera and gimble.

I started the morning by going for a solo ride down State Street, up onto the Mesa to Shoreline Park to enjoy the view, then I rode out to the Santa Barbara harbor. No bike riding is allowed on the breakwater; so I walked. I finished the ride at the Pedego dealership, which was set up with refreshments and decorations for a party.

No group rides were organized, which was okay. I enjoyed my own ride. Although I haven't reviewed the video clips from the ride, I think I have some good ones. I'll edit them this week and upload them to my Cycling Adventures for Seniors YouTube channel on Saturday.

Ants

For several weeks I've been fighting with ants. I don't dare leave anything on the kitchen counter. A couple weeks ago I trimmed some lamb chops, putting the discarded trim in a ziplock bag. I forgot to close the bag and put it in the trash outside. I came home later and the kitchen counter and bag were swarming with ants. Lesson learned.

I had to do some research because I don't know enough about ants. I learned there are two basic kinds of ants — sugar ants and protein ants. Evidently I have protein ants. I set up store-bought ant bait traps, two kinds, and the ants ignore them. I eat an egg and cheese burrito and if I don't wash the plate to get rid of the crumbs the ants are soon all over it. Eggs have protein.

There are two effective means, among others, of getting rid of ants — boric acid powder and diatomaceous earth. The former is a poison. The ants swarming in the kitchen are worker ants; they don't eat the bait, but they carry it back to the nest where the colony eats it and dies, thus killing the colony. Diatomaceous earth is fossilized algae and although the powder is soft to the touch, it is made up of tiny sharp particles, like shards of glass. These cut the exoskeleton of the ants and they suffocate in a day or two. Likewise, I want them to bring the bait back to the colony. I bought a package of each at the local Home Depot store (that a friend calls Home Despot).

I read that a good bait for protein ants is peanut butter. Honey is supposed to work well for sugar ants. It makes sense. I mixed up two bait trays with peanut butter, one kind of ant poison for each tray.

I watched as one ant found the peanut butter. It stumbled into it and immediately backed off, as if it had found soap suds. (Ants don't like soap.) Okay, two can play this game. I already knew these ants like scrambled eggs. Time for another egg and cheese burrito. I put a little scrambled egg on a piece of parchment paper and mixed in some boric acid powder — and waited.

It's not just the kitchen. There have been ants, albeit in lesser numbers, in my home office, which is in the back of my home. I put a scrambled egg mixture there as well. In less than 30 minutes the ants had found the bait and were busy.

After watching some pre-season football, I checked the bait. Peanut butter — nothing. Scrambled eggs — great balls of fire!

That was yesterday. This morning there were almost no ants at either location. So forget about peanut butter. Save it for your crackers. If you have protein ants in your kitchen, try mixing boric acid powder with a little scrambled egg for bait.

What about outside? Or if you have pets? Clean a jar well, drill or punch some holes in the lid, and place some of the scrambled egg mixture inside. The holes should be large enough to allow ants to easily pass through. Set the jar where you find ants. The cat can't get into it and the closed jar will help the mixture inside stay moist longer.

Wednesday 2018.8.15

I-D-Ten-T Error

Also known as 1d10t error and other names.

I finally have Computer-1 working again. Last week I tried loading everything from scratch, but after the operating system and drivers were loaded, it wouldn't let me load some software. What did I do wrong? Finally, after several fruitless days, I started all over again. This time I didn't load any of the drivers that came with the motherboard. Windows 10 manages its own drivers. I forgot about that. Load only the OS and then the software. The second time was a charm.

Win10 doesn't take care of everything. Although it knew I had a printer, the OS didn't have the feature set that came on the printer's installation disc, such as the scanner program.

And I should probably also mention that Computer-2 works flawlessly. I'm sitting at it now. It's the computer I use to create my web site pages, write these blogs, encode YouTube videos, etc. This computer never goes online. I connect it to the Internet only twice a year to get the latest Windows update.

I told a neighbor about my Computer-1 issues and she described it as an I-D-ten-T error. Or, written differently, ID10T error, or IDIOT error. Thank you very much. So the early part of this week was devoted to reloading all the software I use regularly. So far, all is well.

I celebrated my accomplishment in a neighbor's back yard. I made Kahlúa and cream drinks for us. She drank hers and wanted a second. I stopped her when she asked for a third. That's the problem with giving some people liquor — they can't get enough of it. I was done at one.

And Maybe Worth Mentioning…

Yesterday was this website's 8th anniversary. My first blog was dated August 14, 2010. It seems almost impossible to believe that I've been writing in this blog every Sunday and Wednesday for eight years. That's a lot of verbosity. And they're all still there in the Blog Archives. I only missed one date, a Wednesday, when I was overwhelmed with all the Medicare decisions. I blogged on Thursday, a day late.

I used to do a biscotti recipe each anniversary because Almond Biscotti was the first recipe I featured. I don't anymore. I'll blame climate change. It's too hot in August to bake; although, this year hasn't been bad. So far we've endured only two heat spells that required using the air conditioners. One day topped out at 106°F (43°C).

Computer-1

Returning to the subject of my computer, it's working so well right now I'm hesitant to install the game that might have caused the initial problem.

My first computer was an Amiga 2000. That was back in 1983. The Amiga was the first truly mulitasking computer. There used to be a war of words between Amiga fans and Macintosh users because although the Mac people claimed their computer could multitask, there was evidence it couldn't, at least not as well as an Amiga.

I loved that Amiga. It actually had two computers inside. I bought a "Bridge Card" that was an IBM PC clone. It bridged to a second set of expansion slots the PC could use for enhancements. The Amiga could run both computers at the same time. My first PC software was Word Perfect. Back then there was no Windows. The PC was run by MS-DOS. My first expansion card was a 40MB hard disk card. 40 megabytes! Wow! That seemed like a luxury back then. I have micro-SD cards with more than 3,000 times more memory space.

My favorite Amiga game was Arkanoid, a Block-Out style game in which you use a paddle and ball to hit and remove bricks on the screen before moving on to the next level. There have been many variations since then. Ricochet Infinity (RI) was the version I was using lately. A little history:

RI included an editor. Users could design their own level sets and upload them to a server to share with others. There were thousands of sets. I designed and uploaded a few of my own. And then one day the server went dark. The game, the level sets, and even the forum disappeared. The company chose to stop supporting the game. It had been a good ride that lasted for 10 years. The first game was introduced July 31, 2007.

Someone was kind enough to build a new support site with the level sets available again. I started downloading them and playing the game. It was still on my computer. And that's when things went wrong. The Windows 10 Menu would no longer open. I can't blame the game for sure, but it seemed likely.

So, should I try loading the game again? Now that I sorted out the problems of loading a computer from scratch, I'm tempted. But first I'll upload this blog to my web site.

Sunday 2018.8.12

E-Mail

I might not be the last person on Earth to recommend the Cox.net e-mail service, but I certainly wouldn't be among the first. It has been slow and unreliable and therefore I've had a love-hate relationship with it for years. However, my attitude has improved recently.

There is a "block" feature that I was never able to use before. I'd tried in the past to block unwanted e-mails, but the available settings weren't sufficient. That appears to have changed.

I'll give some details, even if you don't have Cox.net Internet service. There is a little gear in the upper right. Click that and then select "Settings." Open the "Inbox" drop-down menu to the left and select "Filter Rules." That opens the "Mail Filter Rules Blocklist."

Spam emails usually identify themselves in the "From" column — Hearing Aids, Dish Network, HARP Loans, LASIK, Herbal Male Enhancement, etc. This was the setting that wasn't available in the past. I couldn't filter by "From". Email addresses were often random character strings with no rhyme nor reason — kdislishginsd@sbnoigkdsoslt.com.

I've been using the product names, or whatever, in my new block list entries. I also use the setting "Reject with reason" and specify "SPAM" as the reason. I have about 40 rules in there and, so far, they appear to be working well. Of course, spammers try other ways — Your Wallmert Refund — but that just means adding another rule.

I used to get a dozen or more spam emails. Now I might get only one or two, and they are immediately added to my block list. And the blocklist doesn't work perfectly, but it helps. So although I am still not currently enthusiastic about Cox.net email (it's still slow), there is one feature to praise.

Computer Woes

This past week "Computer-1" (that's how I name them, -1 and -2) started acting up. The start menu wouldn't appear when I clicked it with the mouse pointer or pressed the Windows 10 menu button on the keyboard. I've never been satisfied with the setup on that computer anyway, but it worked and why fix something that ain't broken? Well, now it's broken.

I tried a few things, learned from researching the internet, and they either did nothing or made matters worse. Time for a reload. If you're not familiar with a reload, you erase everything on the computer's C: drive and then start all over again from scratch, as if loading a computer for the first time.

This is also a good time to appreciate the benefits of building your own computers. When you purchase a computer off the shelf in a store, you might get a certificate assuring you that the computer's operating system is legal. You probably won't get an installation copy of the OS unless you buy one separately.

When I bought Windows 10 Pro for these computers, it was $199 each. I had to buy two because the OS can only be installed on computer. However, it can me installed on the same computer multiple times.

Unfortunately, reloads take a long time. Installing the OS took hours because it needed to download and install updates. Then there is the time loading drivers and software applications again. Fortunately, it's also a good time to weed out the programs I don't use anymore.

Coal Oil Point

Yesterday I uploaded another Cycling Adventures for Seniors video. I rode to Coal Oil Park, which is near the University of California Santa Barbara. It's a popular surfing place for students and locals, especially in winter when the surf is best. In summer it's a pleasant beach that isn't very crowded. Here is a like to the video:

Or CLICK HERE.

Wednesday 2018.8.8

Frying With Air

I bought an air fryer. As I mentioned in Sunday's blog, Costco advertised one in their Costco Connection magazine (August 2018 edition). The store didn't have them in stock yet and Costco's web site said they are on backorder until around the middle of the month. I went to Best Buy.

I bought a different model, costing nearly twice as much, but I liked it because of the size. I read the reviews — something I recommend — and one reviewer reported, with photographs, that his unit failed because the heating coil burned out. One bad report wasn't enough to override all the positive reviews; however, I spent an additional $20 for the extended warrantee. Another reason for the purchase was that it was on sale, about $118, down from $170. I bought the last one they had in stock.

My first use of the Air Fryer was to make Seasoned Potato Wedges. The video was uploaded to YouTube. Although it is currently "unlisted," you can watch it now by clicking on the recipe link and then clicking the green "View the Video" button.

I also did a Kitchen Vlog about unboxing and setting up the appliance. Although the video does not include the recipe, you can watch my vlog by clicking this graphic:

Or CLICK HERE.

This is a vlog in which I feature prominently the make and model of the air fryer because sometimes those videos get more views. People go onto YouTube to search for videos about a product they are thinking of purchasing — or purchased and want to learn more about it.

Charity Thrift Shop Time

It's time for another shakedown. I hadn't yet found a place to store my Instant Pot, and now I have an air fryer too. So this week has been set aside for the task of going through my shed and weeding out many (if not all) of the items that seemed to have some value at the time (good quality Polk bookshelf speakers I mistakenly ordered) but for which I had no immediate use (and none in sight).

I have one box labeled "computer cables" in which I have at least one each of every type of computer cable I ever owned. Does anyone use Molex cables anymore? And if I need one, I can order it from Los Angeles and it will arrive the following day.

Another box is marked "props," which is mostly empty cans I've opened from the bottom and cleaned up in case I need them in a cooking video. "You'll need a 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes." I use those props so seldom, there is no justification for their taking up storage space in my shed. Into the recycling bin they went.

And Then There Were Two

So far, success. Where there were four large plastic bins filled with computer cables, parts, components, peripherals, etc., there are now two.

And Why Not Keep Going?

Do I really need a dozen plastic storage containers with lids? Half that many are more than enough; so into the recycling bin the extras went.

Business Cards and Hat

I received an e-mail notice yesterday saying my business cards and hat were shipped. That was quick! I ordered them on Monday. As I said in Sunday's blog the printing company is Vistaprint. Given the service so far, I can recommend them. As for the hat, it's supposed to look like this:

I'll know more when the cards and cap arrive.

Sunday 2018.8.5

Lunch in the Park

Wednesday's ride to a local park to test a UCO FlatPack camp stove turned out better than I'd hoped. I was joined by a friend who also likes rack of lamb and together we grilled the saltimbocca over an oak flame on the stove pictured in Wednesday's blog below.

The fire was relatively easy to start with the small butane torch I brought, even though I forgot to bring newspaper. I had plenty of kindling.

The flavor of the lamb was fantastic. The flame wasn't very hot by the time the oak burned down to near coals, ready for cooking; therefore, the meat was cooked slowly, about 10 minutes per side on all four sides. The slow cooking resulted in a very moist and tender meat that was deliciously pink inside. The oak provided a little additional flavor.

There was one negative. The pieces of oak I have are well suited for a large grill or fireplace, but they're almost too big for such a small grill. Only one piece would fit in the stove and it took more than an hour to burn it down enough to cook over it.

I want to use that stove again in my driveway to do more grilling videos; so I'm exploring ways to split the wood into smaller pieces. I looked at log splitters on Amazon, but they're expensive. It seemed like a waste to spend so much money for such a little task. The best method so far, without spending any money, is to use a hatchet and "drilling hammer." It works well enough.

I had to look up the definition of that hammer. A drilling hammer is used for cutting stone, which is what I did with mine, along with a chisel, when I landscaped all my yard a few years ago.

I haven't tested the smaller pieces of oak in the camp stove yet, but I can't foresee any difficulties. I'm hoping to do some grilling this week, if the temperature outside doesn't get too warm. We're expecting another warming spell. By the end of the week we might see days in the high 80s and low 90s again.

Air Frying?

Costco will be selling an air fryer later this month (currently not in stock). If you have a convection oven, you probably don't need an air fryer. My understanding, such as it is, is that the air fryer circulates hot air around the food to cook and crisp it without the need for deep fat frying, thus making healthier "fried" foods. It might make for some useful recipes on my Mobile Home Gourmet YouTube channel. I'm still thinking about it. Any advice?

State Street, Santa Barbara

I finally got around to editing the video I did with my GoPro and Pedego bicycle a few weeks ago when I rode down State Street in Santa Barbara and out onto Sterns Wharf. I uploaded the video to my Cycling Adventures for Seniors channel yesterday. You can link to it by clicking the following graphic.

Or CLICK HERE.

There are more rides I want to do in Santa Barbara. It is a beautiful city with several locations worth riding for a video.

Pedego Palooza

Meanwhile, I am preparing to attend the Pedego Palooza in October. I said in an earlier blog that more than 150 attended last year. Looking at their web site again, the number was actually more than 500. (I corrected the archive.)

I spent the better part of a day designing my business cards for the event. Here is the final draft of my design:

The high wheel bicycle is a little different from the one on my YouTube channel. It might not mean anything to most people, but it's a vector graphic, which works much better when used in a printing process. A graphic artist might have come up with a better look, but I'm really happy with the design. It's simple and attractive. I'll probably order the cards tomorrow.

The printing company, Vistaprint, can also use the design on the front of a bill cap (hat). I'm excited about that idea because I won't want to wear my bike helmet during the day down there in Huntington Beach. I'll lock it up with my bike and keep my GoPro and gimbal with me. I'll wear the hat, which hopefully will invite some questions, and I'll be ready with my business cards.

And, by the way, to get that custom URL "YouTube.com/c/CyclingAdventuresforSeniors" I needed to qualify. I satisfied most of the requirements, but there was one — minimum number of subscribers — that was short. I had only 92. I needed 100. I told a friend at lunch and he said he'd work on it. When he returned to the office he started sending email and making phone calls. Minute by minute the number started climbing. By mid afternoon I had my 100 and secured my URL. Thank you Andrew.

And let me finish by reminding myself that every silver lining has a dark cloud. Interest in the Cycling Seniors channel has been less than lackluster. Of course, it's a new channel, still in its infancy, with only seven videos. However, I do need to keep my expectations reasonable. My Kitchen Vlog will observe its second anniversary in November. After two years, nearly 100 videos, each video still only attracts enough interest to get fewer than 150 views.

I've been thinking of experimenting with a month of paid advertising on Facebook, risking no more than about $50. Of course, Facebook has not been a popular social media platform lately; so maybe it would be a waste of my money. I'm thinking about it.

Wednesday 2018.8.1

It Ain't Lamb; It's Mutton (or spoiled)

Today I plan to video another episode for my Cycling Adventures for Seniors series on YouTube. The plan is to test another camp stove at a local park. This one is large enough hold a piece of wood. It looks like this:

It's a Uco Flatpack "Grill & Firepit" (their spelling, not mine) and, as you can easily surmise, it folds up for easy packing and transporting.

At the beginning of last month I blogged about assembling a firewood rack to organize the split red oak I bought from a neighbor. That wood is for grilling.

In my earlier test of a small camp stove, I sautéed a piece of fish using papier-mâché for fuel. For this video I want to do something a little more spectacular. I want to grill lamb over oak.

I bought a rack of lamb to prepare some Lamb Chops Saltimbocca. I've eaten many of these and they are delicious. As I've said in these blogs many times: I'm not much of a beef eater. If I want red meat, I usually choose lamb.

For the saltimbocca I cut the rack into double chops, two ribs to a chop. It gives me a thick cut of meat and that reduces the risk of overcooking it. Then I season the meat and wrap each chop with prosciutto. It looks like this when ready for cooking:

When I opened the package I knew I was in trouble. An "uh-oh" moment. The odor was powerful. It didn't smell like rotting meat. It smelled more like fish that isn't fresh. It was a strong gamey scent, almost like a wet dog in need of a bath.

I should have known, and I somewhat suspected there might be an issue. The rack was the largest in the meat case — 2.68 pounds. That's large for a rack of lamb. And that is sometimes a good indicator that the piece isn't lamb at all; it's mutton. Mutton is sheep. It's edible, but it's gamey. $32.13 is a lot to pay for a small piece of mutton. That's like paying $11.99 per pound for a package of hamburger. Unless you're buying ground Wagu beef, you wouldn't waste that kind of money.

A long time ago I taught myself an important rule for buying lamb — smaller is better. A smaller size would indicate a younger animal. There might not be a lot of meat on the bone, but it will be delicious meat.

As for the mutton, I brought it back to Costco for a refund and bought a smaller rack — 1.78 pounds, $21.34. (Which I was able to buy without a photo ID. We Californians are such rebels. Trump says we need a photo ID to buy groceries.)

And I found a deal I couldn't resist. I'd been thinking of getting a backpack for hauling things to a park when biking. There were two on the shelf, marked $9.97. A friend's brother used to work at Costco and he said prices that end with a 7 are clearance prices. A decent looking backpack for only about $10.00 seemed like an excellent deal; so I bought one. It isn't a high-tech backpack; it's a back-to-school model. But it will be good enough to pack with stuff for grilling and toss in the basket on the back of my bike.

A Beautiful Gift

Several months ago a fan of the web site sent me a beautiful gift. It's a ceramic canister, with lid, she found in an Italian pottery store that was going out of business. I'm sure she didn't pay much. She is a shrewd buyer who can easily spot an excellent bargain. She likes to buy such things and give them away as gifts.

She didn't realize the original price was still on the bottom — $159.00. Hand painted Italian pottery is not cheap. We have an Italian Pottery Outlet down in the city and except for looking for bargains on their clearance racks, I don't buy there. The prices are too high.

So what do I do with a quality Italian-made ceramic jar? I measured it, went to the local Home Depot store, and bought a spool of cotton twine for tying meats. Here is my string jar:

I used it in that cycling video when I showed how I prepped the lamb for grilling.