Three Equals Twelve (3=12)

NOLA Boy is a mathematician, so my title here caused a bit of a stir.  I’m sure with the addition of enough little squigglies in my equation, he could make three into twelve, but I did it the easy way.

Here are my tools . . .

The “twelve” are above on the cooling rack, and the “three” consist of a cup of flour, a cup of milk, and an egg.

The incidental ingredients were 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of avocado oil.

These few ingredients make up a surprisingly large amount of pancake batter.  I let it sit for about half an hour, which gives a decent amount of time for the flour to fully hydrate from the liquid ingredients.  This makes a really nice, thick batter that will do your bidding without complaint.

Other “extras” were a homemade hamburger bun, two extra eggs, half a chopped nectarine, and a handful of blueberries.  The fruit was leftover from our cooked cereal breakfast this morning.

So to start the marathon, I just heated up the four new mini appliances that I got from Dash and started making things with the batter as inspiration came flooding over me.

Left to right above, we have:

5 waffles, 2 muffins, 2 filled pancakes, a small Moroccan “pizza”, a poached egg, and last, but certainly not least . . . A good old fashioned Toad in a Hole.

The Toad in a Hole was the first to disappear into my gullet.  This was built on the top half of a homemade hamburger bun with the center having been removed for use on top of one of the muffins.  Happily the yolk was still runny.

The egg cooked on the bottom where it contacted the heat directly, and from the top heat source, yet the yolk remained at the perfect consistency.  The rim of bread held the egg in check.

A couple of hours later, I made short work of the plain muffin with the chopped fruit.

Time passed – and another test was in order, so the Moroccan “pizza” was “evaluated” and deemed quite delicious.  I had used the regular toaster to crisp up the bottom half of the hamburger bun mentioned above, but got a bit rambunctious on the amount of “char”.

A couple of tablespoons of the Moroccan Shakshuka had been spread onto the toasted bun, and a generous sprinkle of shredded Colby/Cheddar cheese went on top of the spread.  A quick few minutes back in the original appliance to melt the cheese provided the handheld “pizza”, which disappeared all too quickly.

The remaining muffin is a scoop of the pancake batter, topped with the chopped nectarine, and then the “hole” that I cut out from the hamburger roll over the top.

The filled pancakes were interesting.  I made a square one in the appliance that is meant to make egg bites.  I just left out the egg forms, put a scoop of the pancake batter into the bottom of the appliance, added a layer of blueberries, and poured another layer over the top.

This took a long time to bake, but looks really tasty.  The other filled pancake is the round one.  It has a small scoop of leftover whole-grain cooked cereal from breakfast.

That leaves the poached egg, which still has the runny yolk, but I’m not clear if I will be able to heat that back up without solidifying the yolk.  Any suggestions?

So . . . three main ingredients provided this veritable feast.  The addition of some fruits and veggies here and there, maybe a cream of something sauce to go over a waffle or two, a bit of peanut or cashew butter on the waffle(s), and some beverages, and it would seem that there is enough food here for one person for a whole day, including snacks.

As for cost, quick calculation in my head tells me that the pancake batter, the fruit used, and the extra two eggs would come in at just about a dollar at today’s prices in Southeast Arizona.  Seems incredibly reasonable for that much food to use as a base for several meals.

NOLA Boy is awake now, and is helping out by fixing himself a cup of coffee, and taking on one of the waffles with butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon.  He is eyeing the blueberry jam as well for a possible repeat “evaluation”.

Pardon me while I ransack the waffle container!  ;->  The blueberry jam is calling me.

 

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Moroccan Experiment

This doesn’t look like much, but I assure you that it was a delightful taste treat whose deliciousness is bringing memories of just yesterday flooding back into my brain!

The bun was a delightful experiment that went altogether RIGHT, and produced delicious, hearty buns.  Also in place is a slab of roasted chicken breast and the cheese is Muenster.

But, clearly, the star of the show is the Shakshuka relish.  According to the net, I was supposed to empty the whole jar into a pan and cook some eggs in it, but that didn’t happen.  I think this was the perfect use for it.

At least until I try it on pizza!

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Egg Bites – Not Starbucks

I guess I’m the last person in the world to discover that Starbucks serves a breakfast-on-the-way-to-work dish that is taking the country by storm.  From what I read, they are prepared sous vide and then reheated at the time of sale, and, to accommodate all of that, the price is very high.

Naturally there was no shortage of articles and videos on the net on how to make these in one’s own kitchen at a fraction of the cost of the ones from Starbucks.

I saw a recipe today that caught my fancy, so I trotted out the insert that goes in my Cuisinart Oven Central and used that to make two batches (five each) of my own.

These ten “bites” are made from four eggs, scallions, very thin deli ham, roasted red pepper, and a mixture of shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

There is an accessory set that came with the Instant Pot that has an insert to make these egg bites, but I had never really tried it. This method looks good, too, but a lot more complicated and time consuming.

The recipes that I found on the net called for adding in a pretty good chunk of cream cheese, which I didn’t have, and beating it in with an immersion blender.  Presumably this would have made a mixture that would stabilize more as it baked, rather than puffing up and then falling like mine did.

I filled the indents about three quarters full, and they raised up way past the top of the cup, but they fell down as they cooled – within minutes, actually.  I’m wondering if there is some part of a profiterole recipe that might improve these treats.

The sour cream and fresh salsa were lovely additions, and added greatly to the overall enjoyment of these tasty morsels.

We were happy with the result, and managed to make seven of them disappear, along with the strawberries.

 

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Glaring Omission

There was so much going on with getting this piece of equipment onto our deck in the 100° heat yesterday, that I am mortified that THE MOST IMPORTANT fact was overlooked when I hastily announced how thrilled we are with this new aspect to our lives.

This most wondrous piece of equipment was the generous gift of NOLA Boy’s brother, and we are beyond grateful for this fabulous opportunity for NOLA Boy to exercise in situ to his heart’s content.  Excellent coordination was handled most expeditiously by our sister-in-law, who directed the operation from their end.  What seemed like an easy thing in the beginning, turned out, like so many aspects of life, to be a lot more complicated than first imagined.

Thanks to the incredible hard work of four fabulous people, I’m happy to report that everything works perfectly, and there were three “Maiden Voyages” yesterday.  Luckily there is sufficient lighting on the deck that a “Midnight Ride” may be possible in future.

As my hip replacement continues to improve, I hope to be able to spend some time on it myself – a bonus!

Now the hunt is on for a cover for it.  Does anyone have any experience with a Colorado company called Equip, Inc.?  They are a small company, and I would love to be able to support them in this difficult time for small businesses.  They seem to have the most promising cover style, and they are made in Colorado Springs, which is a definite plus.

You can see their website here.  Would love to have any feedback on the subject that you care to offer.

And, again, a big shout out to NOLA Boy’s brother and his wife for generously having made of all this happiness possible!  ;->   We will take good care of it.

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NOLA Boy Rides Again

For most of his life, NOLA Boy rode his bicycle at least an hour every day.  When we travelled full time, he found many adventurous paths to follow.

But in 2006, things changed and this is the first time he has been able to recreate that joy!  You can’t see his broad smile because of the mask, but I guarantee that it is there!  ;->

He had had access to a full gym just steps away from our house, but COVID-19 took care of that perk.  Too dangerous for a guy with not much of an immune system.

Many happy rides coming up thanks to our long suffering friend, Chris, who has done more for us over the years than I could ever adequately thank him  for!

Good times ahead!  ;->

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Pets Can’t Be Too Careful

A couple with a sense of humor had this “pen” for their masked “pets” in front of their rig for a couple of weeks.  Even the insects at the front of the slab are safe!  There was also a toucan, but I couldn’t get him to hold still!  ;->

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Royal Corona Bean Soup

If you like beans, and I mean REALLY like beans, you will REALLY like Royal Corona Beans.  Probably not the best name to have just now, but I think these beans came before the virus.

They are sooooo big that you can practically BBQ them!

We had this lovely soup for dinner last night, and were so taken with it that lunchtime today found us slurping up more bowls of it.  Happily there are about five cups of it left for future meals.

The above picture was last night; next blog post will show today’s lunch spread that included the soup.

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The Lace Tree

This pretty tree is in the parking lot of the Cancer Clinic where NOLA Boy gets his weekly chemo infusions.  For some reason the parking space that is in front of it is almost always open for me to slide into and enjoy the tree’s beauty through the windshield.

When it first blossoms, it is covered with those lovely flowers, but most of them are gone now that the summer heat is upon us.

Its beauty and simplicity never fails to bring a smile to my heart.

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Key Lime Pie Extraordinaire

 

 

This might look like an overkill amount of goodies to pile on such a small sliver of key lime pie, but the extraordinary deliciousness of it amounts to a quick satiety point!  The plate is very small – only 5.5″ – so there really isn’t a lot of room for the really hard core, high-caloried items involved.

Like we have done with cheesecake, we pour on the aged, and very thick, balsamic vinegar.  Coincidentally, a few shards of chocolate happened to be sitting right there on the counter, so on they went.  The strawberries, however, were the absolute star of the show.

We’ve each indulged twice, and only about a quarter of the key lime pie is missing, so it looks like we will be able to enjoy this treat for several more times.

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Simple Stir Fry

This is one of our most cherished dishes.  So simple, and so delicious.  The recipe is basically cooked rice with whatever veggies and meat you have.

Sauté the veggies, move them over in the pan, and heat the rice in the newly-vacated area.  Covered, it will heat quickly, so don’t walk away.  I usually spray everything with some distilled water to help quickly spread the heat around and moisten up the grains of rice.

Sweet onions, mushrooms, celery, and bok choy are my standards, and then whatever else is around – especially something with a bright color.  I keep a jar of roasted red peppers around for just such an occasion, but as you can see, I forgot to get it out this time!

Ring the dinner bell, and be glad of the paucity of dirty dishes to wash later!

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Joyce Rocks the River

Her first real outing! It is just a few miles from our house, but is an official photography “trek”!

Back doors open and the ceiling fan going = nice cool breeze wafting through.

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Dragon Teapot

This post is two-fold.

First is to share this fabulous piece of art.  I found it on a Steampunk site on Facebook.

The other is to show what hidden glory may be lurking in a photograph.  With the help of Photoshop, the wonderful patina became evident.

Here is the original, extremely attractive in its own right.  I loved the dusty look of “old”, but the colors that were lurking there just blew me away.

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Fun with Egg Wash

Sometimes the obvious escapes me; and other times it shines like a bright star!

Last night I made Judie McNuggets, although they are really lightly breaded, hearty strips of boneless, skinless chicken breasts rather than smallish bits and pieces of chicken with a heavy coating of starch.

I had pretty much misjudged how much egg wash was needed and had quite a bit leftover.  My habit is to make a small puddle of leftover egg wash in whatever pan I am using, rolling it up, and popping it into my mouth as the “Cook’s Treat du Jour”.

But this time, the “omelette” was larger than usual, and just deserved to be treated more politely than just unceremoniously devoured.

The ensuing entity just screamed out for some color, so I plopped on some cheese, let it melt, and then added some salsa and bits of scallion.

The photo then gave me the idea that this was about the same size as a tortilla, so why not encase it in a softened, slightly heated tortilla (to make it pliable), roll it up, and have it for a quick on-the-go breakfast on the way to work, or a mid-morning snack at your desk.  Could be eaten at just about any temperature, so reheating not really necessary.

As these things go, after I had cut and shared the mini-omelette in the format you see above, I thought of a bunch of other things that could go on it before using it as a filling for a tortilla roll up.  That includes whatever is lurking about that sounds appealing to you.

This is a good way to add a bit of nutrition to a meal, and use up bits of things that are waiting patiently in your refrigerator.  Look on it as the easiest take-out ever!  ;->

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An Incredible Reheat

I couldn’t wait to share this photo and to expound on just how delicious it was.  If only restaurants could produce such flavor!

These were the remnants from two separate meals, but clearly they were all made for one another.  I just can’t say enough about this method of reheating leftover food so that there is not only no waste of food, but the effort involved is practically zip.  Way better than take out; no worries about who has had access to the food you are about to put into your system.  Also, no driving, waiting, or tipping involved!

For best success, I have found that investing in quality cookware is key.  If this meal had glued itself down to the pan, then I would be less enthusiastic for the process.  But an amazingly simple procedure allows me to do this repeatedly in this 12″ Calphalon covered frying pan.

One trick I have learned is to pre-heat the pan.  This can get dicey because it makes no sound, and there are no lights to tell you when the pan is hot.  So what I do is put the burner on medium-high and put in a couple of tablespoons of distilled (so there are no minerals to cook out onto your pan) water, and then put the lid on while it pre-heats.  Depending on the relationship between the pan and the lid, you may hear a bit of rattling as the water creates steam.  This is your cue to know that it is ready.

Depending on the food to be reheated, you might want to put in a bit of oil in the pan.  When this is deemed appropriate, I use just a thin film of avocado oil because of its tolerance to high heat.  Maybe it is my imagination, but I also feel that it does a better job, somehow, than generic oil.  Olive oil has a much lower tolerance for heat, and is not recommended.

The next two steps may sound a bit out of the ordinary, but I have found them to be invaluable for achieving success in this endeavour.

After your food has been safely ensconced in the pan, grab your trusty spray bottle of distilled water, and give everything a good coating of moisture.  This creates the steam that will help to heat all parts of the food, not just concentrating on the bottom parts where they are touching the frying pan.  Steam is your friend.  ;->

Next – pop on a tight-fitting cover, and turn the burner OFF!  This allows the food to heat up gradually instead of the bottom layer becoming way too hot, with the potential of burning.  After three to five minutes (set a timer), turn the burner back on at a low setting and monitor the progress until the food is at the perfect temperature for dining.

At this point, evaluate what toppings might add to the overall ambience of the items.  After I took this picture, I sprinkled a bit of grated Cheddar cheese on the rice, plopped a nob of butter on the beets and black kale, and sprayed the chicken with a bit more water to moisten up the BBQ sauce.  Another minute or two – while NOLA Boy set the table – and we were enjoying a fabulous dinner that required almost no effort!

Take out just can’t compare!

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My Latest Crush

It’s easy to be tempted into concocting delicious combinations of ingredients while we are sheltering in place, but with that possibility comes the ever present danger of the dreaded weight gain.  Probably most of us would not welcome any additional avoirdupois climbing aboard our bodies for a free ride.

Some months ago (about the same time that the cost of our favorite ice cream [Talenti] jumped up to $6. for a PINT!), I discovered the wonders of tapioca pudding.  After cutting the amount of sugar in half, and then forgetting it completely in the next batch, I found that if there were no sweetening in it at all, that left room for any topping or mix in, sweet or even savory.  Mixed half and half with the ice cream worked really well, too.

At some point, fairly quickly, I started experimenting with different add-in items, and found almost anything was more interesting than just the sweetness of the ice cream.  Peanut butter and granola was particularly satisfying.

Crumbled Graham crackers and a sprinkle of cinnamon, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, or gingerbread spice – WOW – that was a big surprise at the satisfaction level.

A drizzle of maple syrup, or a small amount of any kind of delicious jam, marmalade, or jelly, some chocolate chips or syrup, concentrated orange juice, tart cherry juice, or pomegranate juice concentrates, crunchy nuts, or anything that appeals to you, provides a very satisfying experience without a huge caloric intake.

I won’t bore you with all of the things I have tried, but as of this writing, I can’t think of a single one that was not repeatable with glee.

Above you see my current “crush”.  The red and white stuff is crushed candy canes.  I got it already in that format from King Arthur Flour when they cleared out their holiday items.  I don’t see why this couldn’t be easily done with a hammer or meat pounder and some sort of containment cloth, utilizing perhaps any leftover candy canes from the holiday season at the end of the year!

Since the ingredients in tapioca pudding are tapioca, eggs, milk, and a sprinkle of salt, and it is super simple to put together, I always have a big container of it in the refrigerator – for experimental purposes, you understand!  ;->

With this super simple and mild-flavored dessert on hand, you can be incredibly innovative with a topping of small proportion, while having the underlying goodness working for your body’s benefit.

Did I mention pistachios or roasted pecans?  ;->

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Nuts to Cookies

Oh, my!  Don’t they look innocent?  They are supposed to be cookies, but they are, in reality, delicious little islands of nuts, dates, and cranberries surrounded by a minimum of oatmeal cookie dough, and quickly baked to perfection.  Three dozen of these beauties landed on the counter and in the freezer after a short baking session.

The recipe was purloined from one of my favorite cooking/baking blogs.  I made a few substitutions, i.e. coconut sugar for the brown sugar, and five-grain rolled cereal for the oatmeal.  I couldn’t find my cardamom, so I used allspice and garam masala.

If you want to fall in love with an easy-to-stir-together cookie, AND have the self control not to eat all of them immediately, give these guys a try.  I had hoped there would be some to take on a picnic soon, but it seems that putting them in the freezer did not deter us from gobbling them at a rapid rate!

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Owl – 2020

For the last couple of weeks we have been hearing the familiar hooting sounds of our own personal owl.  There haven’t been any replies, so guess he is a loner.

I’m not clear if this is our usual guest at this time of year, or if this is a different one.  He is in the same spot in the tree, so maybe that’s his “spot”!  His ear “fuzz” looks a bit different to me, and the feathers on his chest look like a different pattern.  But maybe it is the time of year for change.

The Chihuahuan Ravens have been harassing him on and off all morning with their squawking, but he just blinks and suggests that they “buzz off” and leave him alone.

He seems not to mind if I make those click-y noises at him, but I’m sure he would rather get back to his nap.

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Fried Rice and Asparagus Medley

Almost no words needed here.  Every morsel shown was delectable.  There were only two ears of corn, and they both disappeared, but there is a small amount of the rice and two Chicken McNuggets al a Judie in the refrigerator for lunch today.  Who will get the split pea soup, and who will get these yummy leftovers.  NOLA Boy is asleep, and I have the key to the refrigerator – so it may be no contest at all!

I made that rice originally the other day with slow-simmered beef broth, and it was heavenly.  The added asparagus, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and egg incorporated in there just added to the deliciousness of it. I also added two heaping tablespoons of pico de gallo for some zing.

I thought it would be a bit flat without more veggies/scallions, but it was entirely satisfactory just like that.

The Blue Cheese Yogurt dressing was perfect as a dipping sauce with the chicken strip.

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Fry Bread

One of the problematic corollaries of making sourdough bread is that some of the starter is wasted while getting it in tip top shape, and more is lost if you do not bake often.  Since I am in the early stages (only three loaves so far) of getting back in the swing of things, I am still in that mode.  I don’t like to waste things, so took the advice of a vlogger and tried making “fry bread” out of the discard.

It looks pretty good here, but with no salt at all in it, the taste was not pleasant.  Also, it absorbs oil at an astounding rate, and gets way too brown before the center is cooked through.  So I will continue to experiment since otherwise I will need to toss the discard for a few more loaves.

On the next batch yesterday, I tried out different things with each little piece, but I was totally unimpressed with any of them.  Mostly they just sucked up oil, and super greasy things are just not that appealing to either of us.

Deep frying these bits would probably provide a better outcome, but that’s just not something I’m willing to do.  If I can get over my aversion to deep frying, there are probably many possibilities.  I’m thinking of adding onions, salt, and maybe some other of my Penzey’s spices, perhaps some masa harina, to see if I can come up with something like hushpuppies.

Suggestions welcomed.

My loaves are coming out on the pale side, despite starting with a 500-degree oven.  First loaf was too hot for too long, and got a grey-ish cast to it, but otherwise was fine.  The next two tries, I turned the heat down after the initial oven spring, but they were entirely too pale overall.  They tasted fine, but that luscious browned ambience is sorely missed.

Because of the sudden shortage of flour, I made these loaves with all purpose flour instead of my usual artisan bread flour.  I still have some of this specialty bread flour, so will try switching to that to see if it makes a difference.

Thank goodness NOLA Boy is big on French toast.  I seem to have the base ingredient for a whole lot of it lately!

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The Jade Beetle

He thought he was all alone on the back step, but he didn’t reckon that I had been out for the first time procuring victuals to help us through this hard time and would be making a couple of trips from car to house, passing him on his own industrious quest.

Mostly I got the “green blur”, but then he decided to settle down, and we compromised on this shot of him sitting still for his portrait.

We see so many close ups of creatures in the wild on the television and computer screens, that these encounters are not unheard of, but always a thrill when I can see a beautiful creature like this sharing my own world.  I just wish that my presence didn’t strike terror in his poor nervous system.

One wonders . . . how does he see this encounter?  Presume he has no idea that I am totally in awe of his beauty and mean him no harm.

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