by baldilocks

A special repost in honor of a loved one whose early death was helped along by poor eating habits.

Yes, I can occasionally be caught live in the kitchen. Look quick.

When growing up, my dinner task was making the salad. My mom bought the goods and I prepared them to her exacting specifications. As a result, I am very, shall we say, anal about salads (as I am about most things that I care about).

A clean vegetable is a happy eater. Wash as far down as possible, wash as far up as possible, then, wash ‘possible.’ That maxim goes for many things.

Lettuce: anyone who uses iceberg lettuce in a salad should be shot. (Okay, that’s a little harsh; maybe, er, reeducated.) Use red-leaf, romaine or butter leaf lettuce or some combination thereof. Or spinach.

Croutons and bacon bits are masks for a salad prepared by a lazy salad-maker. If your ingredients are good, fresh and varied, you don’t need those.

Buy the right mushrooms. Get the ones that are closed at the junction between the body and the stem. Don’t buy the big ones that look like they’re more for smoking that for eating. Don’t buy them too brown. Cut the stems off but not so far down as to where you can see the inside of the body.

Use red onions and/or scallions, because they look prettier and taste better than yellow or white onions. Cut most of the flower of the scallions off because they are bland. The root is the good part.

When I’m the only one eating the salad or am sure of my audience, I will put a chopped clove of garlic and a chopped Serrano chili pepper in my salad. (You folks who are not from the south-west part of the US or are not of Mexican descent might not know what a Serrano is. It’s a little, tiny green pepper that is hot. I like hot.)

Two of the ingredients that my mom didn’t require, but I usually use now are: carrots and cucumbers. Yes, peeling them is a pain—and please peel the cucumber—but, boy, do they give great texture and taste to the salad. Split the cuck down the middle, by the way.

Sometimes I will top the salad with canned crab. There are two places here in LA from which I’ve bought the crab: Food for Less and Trader Joe’s. The FFL version is cheaper and the TJ’s version is prettier, but they both taste about the same. I don’t put anything heavier than that in the salad. Chicken, beef and pork are for the main course.

No yellow, orange or white dressings should be used. Hey, if you want to hide the taste of your salad, just tear up some iceberg, chop up a big, fat tomato and pour Thousand Island all over it. Blech. I like a non-obnoxious Caesar or just some olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar.

If you must put some seasoning on your salad, a bit of Mrs. Dash will do the trick; oh, and black pepper.

What did I forget? Tomatoes, of course, are required; cherry types cut in half (if you grow them, you’re blessed); bell pepper—green and chopped.

If you think salads are boring, you’re missing out on one of the great pleasures of eating. Time, attention and varied ingredients are all that are required. Don’t forget to make it beautiful as well. Eating is almost as much about the eye as it is about the tongue.

Burp.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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We Interrupt the constant call to set our hair on fire over various events to talk some food.

As a family tradition when one has a birthday the family goes out to a restaurant of their choice. My oldest son had a hankering for Brisket and the closest place open late Friday the 13th was Firefly’s in Marlborough. So we took a 45 minute drive to Marlborough and gave it a visit.

Firefly’s has a great reputation, as noted in the video below, it’s deserved.

Life is more than political fights and if you are of the left or the right you will enjoy a meal at Firefly’s

Their website is here.

Here in New York’s Scenic Hudson Valley, we are still digging out from two big Nor’easter storms that we’ve gotten in the past week. There are huge piles of snow and big broken tree branches all around my property, but my family was thankfully spared from the power outages that hit this area hard and our little house is still standing. Unfortunately, I’m on my second week with a nasty upper respiratory infection that my kids have caught as well so no sledding or snowman building for us. My dogs, however, had a grand old time jumping around their frozen play yard, so there’s that.

I recently learned that hot toddies can be made with pineapple juice and rum. Not for the kids, of course, although it would have been acceptable for previous generations, and while it did not really much help my symptoms but it did help me care a little bit less about them for a little while. You can make the toddies with any kind of juice, apparently, and whatever spirit you prefer as well – the key ingredients besides the booze and juice are honey and cinnamon. Heat the juice, add the other stuff, stir, and enjoy!

My mom used to make hot toddies with orange juice and whiskey before I developed a food allergy to oranges, but they are traditionally made with tea. Here is a link to a recipe for that: Dr. Pat’s Hot Toddy Cold Remedy

I’m going to have to cut this post short as there are coughing children who need my attention (so no toddies for me). I hope you are all safe and warm and well. I’ve got over the counter cold medicines, Vick’s Vapor Rub, and chicken soup to try to get us through our winter sicknesses but I am open to suggestions. If you’ve got a favorite home remedy or winter comfort food, please share in the comments section.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

While driving down Route 55 in Lagrangeville, New York (about 60 miles north of New York City) on the way to a medical appointment yesterday, I spotted a sign outside of Kelly’s Steaks and Spirits that sure lifted mine! The sign announced that they DO NOT air NFL games in that establishment and the sign further went on to say:

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

If I were not driving at the time I would have taken a picture.  I do not have the resources to go out for dinner, but that sign alone (in NEW YORK) is enough reason for me to want to check that place out if the opportunity to dine out should ever present itself to me. Predictably, the Trump Derangement Syndrome afflicting people has caused an outbreak of hatred and poor reviews for this establishment.  At the top of their page, Facebook highlights certain words they think we need to know people are using:

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Warning: this post may not be suitable for the faint of heart or weak of stomach…

My best friend texted me from work the other day with a picture of what she discovered in the snack that she was attempting to enjoy on her break. She was eating Wonderful brand pistachios, and apparently what happened to her is NOT an isolated incident.

Continue reading “Nasty Surprise In A Nutshell”

Maybe he was bored. Presiding over the mass starvation of your country’s people isn’t a cakewalk, after all.

Venezuela’s Joe Stalin lookalike dictator has been criticized for becoming a fat bastard while the people in his country wait for hours in line to get bread, resort to picking through trash for anything edible, and die in the streets of hunger – but that won’t make Nicolás Maduro lose his appetite:

American Thinker has more about this:

Thursday, Maduro was in the midst of a long-winded national speech known in Venezuela as a “cadena.”  He paused, pulled a sandwich-like object out of his desk, and took a bite, chomped it down, and then continued his speech.  He was eating what looked like a Venezuelan arepa, a tasty cornmeal-based snack with probably some meat inside, although the Latin press accounts identified it as an empanada, a dish more commonly associated with Argentina and Chile.

It comes at a time when the Venezuelan daily minimum wage, just raised for the sixth time this year, won’t even cover the cost of an empanada, let alone an arepa, given that inflation is running at close to 3,000% and Maduro has just introduced the new 100,000 bolivar note.

Efecto Concuya, via Google Translate, reports:

For the sixth time in 2017, President Nicolás Maduro announced a new increase in the minimum wage that placed the daily salary at Bs. 5,916, but the number of products that can be purchased with that amount is increasingly reduced.

In a sale of breakfast and lunch located in the municipality of Libertador, a pie costs 5,500 bolivars and a filled arepa exceeds Bs. 12,000. There was Rodolfo Gutiérrez, who bought two empanadas and a malt for an amount of Bs. 15,500. That is, someone who only receives a minimum wage, nothing else could pay for a pie.

In a restaurant located in El Cafetal, municipality Baruta, it is impossible to even buy a pie, because it has a price of Bs. 7,500. A large coffee is also inaccessible since it is sold above 8,000 bolivars.

What it shows is the Venezuelan elites’ complete indifference to the suffering of Venezuela’s people.  They mark their superiority over the masses – not by flashing Rolexes anymore, but by eating in front of them.

And don’t think such a message didn’t get out.  Cadenas in Venezuela break into every TV set, every radio show, every program without warning, no matter what’s playing.  You don’t have the option to flip the channel, because the cadena is on every channel.

And cadenas can last for hours.  The logic was that the president’s announcements were so crucial, so important, and so necessary that every other broadcast could just be broken into, like the emergency broadcast system.

You got that? It wasn’t just a video version of the “hot mic”, people had no choice in watching it if they had a television on, and Maduro knew it.

Is this man stupid or just cruel?

Please pray for the people of Venezuela.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

“Made with love” doesn’t go over well with bureaucrats. Well, you can make the things you cook “with love” in every bite, just don’t list it as an ingredient. Via FoxNews:

“Love” is definitely not an ingredient in granola, regardless of the amount of effort you put into making it, the Food and Drug Administration ruled on Monday.

The FDA issued a warning to Nashoba Brook Bakery for violating food labeling regulations by including “love” in its ingredients list. The agency added the bakery misbranded the product by including the obscure addition.

“Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient ‘Love.’ Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name,” the FDA wrote in a letter dated Sept. 22.

“’Love’ is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient,” it added.

The bakery’s chief executive said the FDA’s ruling on their listing “love” as an ingredient “just felt so George Orwell” and was “silly.” The FDA says the ingredient thing wasn’t what concerned them the most, the government agency says the bakery has “sanitary issues” that are of greater importance. Here are some highlights from the warning letter the FDA issued to Nashoba Brook Bakery:

1.    Your firm failed to conduct all food manufacturing, including packaging and storage, under such conditions and controls as are necessary to minimize the potential for the growth of microorganisms, or for the contamination of food, as required by 21 CFR 110.80(b)(2). Specifically, on May 25 and 26, 2017, our investigator observed the following:
a.  On May 26, 2017, remnants of Pepper Jack dough (dairy allergen) were observed on the inside, the lip, and the outside edges of the “(b)(4)” stainless steel mixing bowl that an operator stated was cleaned, sanitized and ready for use prior to the production of non-dairy Sourdough dough.
b.  On May 25 and 26, 2017, empty color-coded barrels designated for use with different allergens including tree nuts (b)(4) and cheese (b)(4), with apparent dough residue inside and out, and stacked inside one another. These barrels were confirmed as clean and ready for use by the mixing operator, and were observed in use during operations.
c.  On May 25 and 26, 2017, (b)(4) bread loaf molds, wooden peels, canvas conveyor mats, rolling metal wire cooling racks, and ovens are not cleaned or sanitized prior to production or during change-over in between different allergen products. Your firm does not have a procedure or production schedule to ensure cleaning and sanitation is done before production or in between changes to prevent cross-contamination of different allergen products.
     
2.    Your firm failed to maintain equipment and utensils and finished product containers in an acceptable condition through appropriate cleaning and sanitizing, as necessary, as required by 21 CFR 110.80(b)(1). Specifically, on May 25 and 26, 2017, our investigator observed the following:
a.  What appeared to be an encrusted buildup of brown colored debris on the metal screen of the “(b)(4)” dough mixer that is positioned over all raw dough mixed during its operation.
b.  Plastic barrels, barrel lids, totes and tote lids used to hold and transport raw dough with apparent dough residue buildup. One barrel had an approximate 1″ dough clump from a different day’s production still stuck in a crack. These barrels had previously been pressure washed and were considered ready for use.
 Two ceiling air intake vents adjacent to the bread ovens and above racks of ready-to-eat foods were caked with apparent debris.
Two large wooden bread peels used to pull ready-to-eat breads from ovens were placed on top of the ovens, which were covered with apparent debris.
Sprinkler heads above the bread ovens where ready-to-eat foods come out, were caked with apparent debris.

There is much more, including flies and an inch long insect on or near food, and employees failing to take basic food preparation precautions like taking off dangling jewelry that can come into contact with food and cause cross contamination, so apparently the whole kerfuffle is not just all about the love and isn’t as “silly” as the bakery’s executive would have you believe.

Nothin’ says lovin’ like unsanitary cross contaminated debris encrusted stuff from the oven?

H/T: iOWTReport

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

My mom made fruitcakes every year during Christmas season; the rum they were soaked in was all I could smell in our house for weeks and I would only eat the special cake my mom made for me that had no alcohol (I prefer my booze in a glass, thanks). My mother said her fruitcakes would never go bad because of all the alcohol (except for mine, of course) but the theory never got tested because they always got eaten by the people she gave them to. My mom is not old enough to have made the cake they just found in Antarctica, though:

A fruitcake thought to be 106 years old was recently uncovered in an extremely remote Antarctic hut.

The cake was almost “perfectly preserved” and apparently untouched when conservators from the Antarctic Heritage Trust spotted it on a shelf inside a Cape Adare hut, according to Stuff.co.nz.

The shelter was built in 1899 during a Norwegian expedition, but it’s thought that the fruitcake was brought to Cape Adare in 1911 by Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition party.

Lizzie Meek, the trust’s artifacts manager, told Newshub the delicacy still had remnants of Huntley and Palmers brand paper stuck to its side.

“It looks like new, which is quite fantastic,” Meeks said. “It smells a little bit of rancid butter, but it looks beautiful.”

Despite looking “edible,” the researchers were not permitted to taste the cake for ethical reasons.

Meeks added that while the fruitcake’s tin had nearly disintegrated, the cake itself was well preserved due to freezing conditions.

The fruity treat was among nearly 1,500 artifacts found in the Cape Adare huts. The conservators also discovered tools, clothing, sardines, “rather nice looking” jams and “badly deteriorated” meat and fish during their 14-month effort.

Meeks described the fruitcake finding a “quite a surprise.”

“Most people don’t carry a whole fruitcake to Antarctica and not eat it,” she said.

No word on the alcohol content of the cake, but I don’t want to eat it – and it isn’t for “ethical” reasons. Maybe if I had a bunch of alcohol in myself first, but that’s a whole other thing. The cake and other items found with it will be returned to their places of origin so someone else can “discover” them again in the future.

I kind of want to go clear the leftovers out of my fridge now, for posterity or something.

Very old fruitcake

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

I didn’t spend all my time in Chicago at the Catholic Marketing Network, I had to eat sometime so I went to Solano’s Pizza in Libertyville and talked to the Owner Michael Solano

The food was well worth the trip

The Rest of my Catholic Marketing Network posts are here.


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When you think of American Success stories in Hamilton Missouri it’s quite natural for the first thoughts in your minds to be either JC Penny who was born here, or Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt company who we wrote about here.

But at the very end of the street, just beyond the last quilt shop, there is a very small building. It doesn’t look like much and only sits about 20 people but it’s an American success story all the same.

This is Hank and Tank’s barbeque and you should know about it.

DaWife DaYoungestSon and I stopped there in the midst of her Missouri Star Quilt experience to have some lunch. Tank took our order and gave me a few minutes of his time.

I recorded this interview after we ordered but before we got our food. Believe me it was worth the wait.

Yes the scarf comes off when eating DaRibs

The Ribs I had were the best ribs I’d ever tasted and it wasn’t even close, they were not served sauced but sauce was provided i we wanted but I found that the ribs were so good that I didn’t want to dilute the flavor the slighted bit (this was in contrast to the pork and pickle at the airport whose ribs which needed bbq sauce to give them flavor). My wife who had the Brisket said it was “melt in your mouth tender” and not only did my son love his pulled pork sandwich but while he never cared for ribs absolutely loved the ones I shared with him as did DaWife, both of who gave me a taste of their food as well.

I spoke to both to Tank’s father and Tank as we ate, he starts preparing his meat for the smoker at 4:30 AM and prepares his mix of hickory and cherry wood before feeding the smokers at 5:30 AM. He was very humble concerning his praise of his food still very much the man who told his family when the idea of opening a restaurant was presented to him “Who’s going to pay money for my barbecue”” even as he sells 800lbs of meat a day on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday that they are open. He was constantly in and out with his brother and son Hank serving the customers who came from all over the world for the jewel of the crown of the quilting world and discovered another gem right beside them.

Without a doubt the food here is spectacular and if you are anywhere near Hamilton Missouri it’s worth coming down for some of the Best BBQ you will ever eat, but what I love most about this story is how American it is. Think about it, a family deciding they have to get their hard-working father and husband out of a corrections job that was killing him, going all in to make their tiny restaurant a success and being rewarded not with glowing reviews from all over who have eaten their food, but more importantly with the improved health of the person they love, which is what they really wanted above all else.

That’s the quintessential American success story.

I don’t know if they’ll eventually decide to open a fourth day or a fifth, or expand into a bigger restaurant and I can’t tell you if you will someday see a Hank and Tank’s chain serving great food all over the country, but that doesn’t matter because that’s not the measure of what success is. If they simply remain a family able to support themselves by working hard and providing customers with great food three days a week that makes it no less an example of the American Dream that Tank’s great grandfather came from Sicily to pursue.


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