Tag Archives: cooking

Thanksgiving Week 2020: The Circle Closes

Thursday (Thanksgiving Day)

Breakfast: Eggs Benedict…sort of. My first poached egg came out perfect. #2 and #3 were both uncooked hot messes. #4 was a fried egg benedict.

My cooking multitasking did come out well, despite me stirring the Knorr hollandaise sauce for ten minutes without turning the front burner on. Still I did get the hollandaise sauce properly cooked; I even added some ground oregano and paprika to the mix. Ladles onto the first egg benedict, it did taste delicious. It even went well with the fried egg benedict. And my tactic of adding a slice of pancetta on top of the grilled prosciutto was a good choice, mixing the sweetness of pancetta with the salty Parma ham (as gordon Ramsay would call it).

Whole lot of extra hollandaise sauce leftover. Could have made eggs benedict for about eight servings with the one-packet batch that I made.

Desert prep: Tiramisu. Lesson learned here: electric mixer. I tried to hand-whisk the three egg whites, and I think I only got halfway. I also think I may not have really soaked the ladyfingers all the way through until the last four or five. From the first cracked egg to putting the finished product in the fridge took about an hour.

I had two helpings and it came out delicious. Only bad thing: all that leftover mascarpone filling. It’s chilling in the fridge now to prep for my Tuesday Marine Corps League potluck

Dinner: Bachelor’s Pad Seafood boil: Start to finish, the whole meal prep took about an hour and a half, and I sat down to dinner at the tail end of the Texans beating the Lions.

The one trick? The first thing that I had prepped was the pound of gulf jumbo shrimp, starting just after twelve thirty. However, by the time that I started putting things in the turkey fryer/boiler, the shrimp were a bright pink. IN theory I could have just chucked the crab in there, got some cocktail sauce for the shrimp and ate them as is. However, this was to be a seafood boil, so I made the command decision to shorten the cooking time from five minutes to two.

The shrimp made it…just barely. Went nice with drawn butter and white wine vinegar.

While waiting for Redskins-Cowboys, I chowed down on my boiled Thanksgiving feast and washed it down with a tall boy can of Miller Lite. I only made it through one plate.

Oh look…leftovers.

Sportball interlude:

Xavier 51, Bradley 50: Ya gotta make this free throws, Braves!

Washington Football Team 41, Dallas 16. It was 20-16 to start the fourth. I was full of dinner and finally finished my one tall boy by the time the rout ended.

Welcome back Alex Smith.

Hail to the Redskins.

Friday (Black Friday):

At 4: 45 p.m. I got ready to jump in the car and head to the Navy Lodge aboard NAS Patuxent River. It was there on the cold, dark morning after the Super Bowl that I started training for the Semper Fi Double, and I wanted to formally end the year there.

I saw the full moon.

One last full moon to run under.

COVID-19 restrictions had prohibited me from renting a room at the Navy Lodge, but never mind, I could still drive out to the base and do the run.

One last run. One last full moon.

Saturday (two hours later)

Got out of bed at 0550. Sunrise would be about 0630-ish. Out of bed, dressed for warmth. Oh, look I’m missing my gloves and knit cap. Going to be a recurring theme this winter…how many sets of gloves and caps can a man buy in a winter season?

At the Navy Lodge parking lot about 0610. Motorcyclist in the parking lot revving up his souped up motorcycle…nice one, idiot, you know there are people sleeping, right? If I were a Maryland state trooper, I would be making my ticket quota every month just on motorcyclists and pickup truck drivers.

The sky was overcast, covering the full moon. It wasn’t that cold, so the gloves and cap were not an issue. Didn’t do one last Japanese ham sandwich, or otherwise stretch. Just set up the MapMyRun, hit START WORKOUT, put the phone in my FlipBelt, on off I went.

Down Cuddihy, took a right on Buse, past the Moffat Building. Buse up and down to Cedar Point Road, ran it downhill all the way to the entrance road to the Drill Hall Gymnasium and down the road to the Marine Aviation Detachment HQ. Pulled even with, then past the HQ sign and turned around the way I came.

With my mind on other things besides the run, before I knew it, I was climbing up Buse Road towards the stoplight turning onto Cuddihy and the road back to the Navy Lodge. One last climb up Cuddihy, past the stop sign and past the Navy Lodge sign.

A couple of selfies in front of the Navy Lodge signage. Back in the car, and off to McDonald’s for breakfast (and for my third straight meal of the weekend).

The circle is closed. What I have written I have written.

Songs of the Day:

Triarii: The Final Legion

Q*Brick: Shot’em

Deep Purple: Highway Star

The Darkness: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Leonard Cohen: The Future

Manfred Mann: Blinded by the Light

Thanksgiving Week 2020: Crab Boil

Tuesday:

Taco Tuesday was a bust.

First, my breakfast tacos took a dump when I didn’t heat up my corn tortillas. They were too soft and practically disintegrated with the first bite. I only got one chorizo con huevos taco down, out of a filling made for at least three.

My maiden attempt at tacos al pastor? First problem was either my wooden skewers were too thin, or I didn’t place my meat on them the right way. The skewers stuck in the pineapple were all crooked when I put them in the oven. Making matters worse, I kept the spit of pork shoulder and pineapples in the oven too long. The whole thing eventually fell over; when I pulled out the spit after 90 minutes, the meat was clearly overdone (read: burnt). I also overdid heating up the flour tortilla, so it was crunchier than a soft taco shell should have been. I did get some edible meat out of the remains, but not much of a spectacular meal.

So…all that happened.

Wednesday:

I am pretty much set for tomorrow’s meals, and maybe beyond.

This morning, I resurrected my two-year-old Faberware Indoor Turkey Fryer out of my walk-in pantry storage. Draining the old oil, then cleaning the heating element and the oil reservoir took all of a half and hour. The brief search for the power cord ended when I found it next to where I had stored the fryer.

The fryer is clean and in place. I have a fresh three quart jug of Deer Park water to boil my dinner in and the seafood should be thawed by now.

Bachelor’s Crab Boil

Boil water (1/2 hour)

Red potatoes: boil 12 min.

Corn cobbettes: Boil 9 min.

Half-smokes, two links: Boil 9 min.

1 lb. Dungeness crab and 1/2 lb. jumbo shrimp: Boil 5 min.

The broth: Deer Creek water to fill line, followed by crab boil seasoning, a generous amount of Old Bay seasoning, and one tall boy can of Miller Lite.

Accompanied by drawn/melted butter and white wine vinegar. Served with another Miller Lite tall boy.

For lunch, I practiced actually poaching two eggs for my Thanksgiving morning breakfast of Eggs Benedict. One was alright, the other egg could have used about thirty more seconds. The Hollandaise sauce will be a sauce mix made by Knorr, an English seasoning company. According to master chef Marco Pierre White, Knorr makes pretty good beef and chicken stockpots, so I’ll give their sauce a shot.

Provided I don’t take too early of a bedtime, I plan on having homemade tiramisu for dessert. I wanted to have a bed of graham crackers under the bottom layer of the ladyfingers, but I kept forgetting to get them. Oh, well. Right after breakfast, I’m going to make the dessert and stick it in the fridge.

Song of the Day:

I was going to hotlink a video from Chef Marco, but I couldn’t pull up any… sooo:

Piano cover of Rammstein/”Sonne”

Piano cover of Guns N’ Roses/”Don’t Cry”

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Lifestyle 2020: Mexican Eggs and SD Cards

Arepas con Huevos:

So, the recipe I used for this Mexican egg-filled cornmeal sandwich called for frying the arepa dough in a skillet with oil until golden brown, and then, “When the arepas are cool enough to handle, slice into the side of the arepa with a thin sharp knife in the same way you would split open an English muffin. Hollow out a space in the arepa without slicing all the way through.”

“Crack an egg into a small ramekin. Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper lightly if desired. Pour the egg into the hollowed out arepa. Seal the opening with some of the reserved dough.”

The first time I tried making arepas, the fried dough was either too thin or fried too long to make the cut in the roll. Anyway that whole thing where you’re supposed to put an egg inside the roll? Didn’t happen, and it was a waste of two eggs and half my batter the first time through. I couldn’t make a hole big enough to fill the egg without having it poured eevryhwre but inside the roll.

So, I got the bright idea to try preparing the dough for the egg before frying it. After making the batter, I took on rolled up ball of dough and tried to flatten it out inside a small paper bowl. The egg, sat inside the well I made in the dough, so I put some salt and pepper on the egg and a few pieces of fried chorizo. I then made another ball of dough and made a “cover” for the dough and the egg. I covered the arepa just barely, but some of the egg started to drip out. having made my cornmeal “sandwich,” I put the arepa con hue in the oil-filled skillet. I did the same thing with a second egg and dough.

The verdict? I didn’t cook them long enough, and when I bit into each one I got a mouthful of very runny and uncooked egg…that is, the egg that didn’t pose out of the arepa and onto my lap. Two attempts at arepas con huevos…two wasted eggs and cornmeal batter.

Helluva breakfast, Brownie!

Since I had torpedoed the keto diet for the day with two-day old sushi, I decided to take the remaining arepa batter and make at least one more attempt. Without the use of a bowl, I fashioned the dough into a crude bowl and laid in my egg with seasoning and chorizo. Unfortunately, I made hash out of putting on the cover. On top of that, I had made the indentation too deep for the gg, and the batter thinned out at the bottom. The egg was already leaking out. I barely managed to put the arepa together and put it in the skillet.

I decided to leave the leaky mess of an arepa con huevo in the fryer for a few minutes until both sides were well past golden brown…with a hint of black. After letting the “sandwich” cool, I prepared a single cup of coffee.

Technically, the egg did cook more thoroughly this time. However, because I used so much dough the “sandwich” was more bread than filling. The makeshift arepa con huevo tasted alright and made an okay dinner/late afternoon breakfast. However, it was not the  “breakfast comfort food” I was hoping for. Not sure I’ll be doing this again anytime soon.

 

Atari Flashback 9 w/Firmware and Games Mod

When I performed this on my birthday night two months ago, I gave up in frustration when I could not figure out how to rename all the files on the Game library on the 16GB SD card to eliminate the spaces.

On Memorial Day morning, just after breakfast, I spent an hour watching the video that I have hyperlinked. Once again, I ran into the showstopper of fixing the names on the SD card.

Tonight, I decided to make another stab at fixing the file naming. I found a second video that fully explained how to use the Advanced Renamer to fix all the files. I used the AR on the both my SD cards that I loaded the GAME_mod on, and managed to finally fix all the files.

Almost there…

So, about twenty minutes ago, I loaded the SD card into the slot in my Flashback 9. Fired it up, and when the title screen came up, the SD card entry in the options area was greyed out. I realized that I the FB didn’t do the firmware update.

When I pulled out the SD card and loaded it back on my Asus laptop, I realized that the firmware update wasn’t there. I did have the update on the original SD card, however. So I went to load the SD card and booted up the Flashback 9 one more time.

“Do you want to upgrade the firmware?” Why yes.

Went straight to the title screen, No SD card highlighted.

One more time.

Yes, I want to upgrade the firmware.

This time, I got the circle indicating the firmware upgrade was in progress. The computer program jargon filled the screen…

…and then it went black.

The Flashback title screen never came back on. Oh, there was power to the console, but no title screen, no “circle of life/death/whatever.”

Bye-bye, Flashback 9. Bye-bye, $50 impulse buy just before Christmas.

So, I cleaned up the SD card on my laptop one more time. Took apart the Flashback ( and put the box/controllers/power supply back in the box.

Back to Amazon to buy a Flashback 9 Gold. I bought two replacement Atari 2600 joysticks on Amazon two nights ago, so I’m going to figure this one out…one way or another.

 

Song of the Day: Blancemange/”Living on the Ceiling:” Yet another classically underrated one hit wonder from the Golden Age of MTV. I loved the use of Indian instruments and the belly-dancing vibe I got from this song. Genius got nothing but lyrics.

Marathon Training in the Pandemic

P90X, Day 10:

Dear Tony,

Well today, I was only 15 minutes late for my Shoulders and Arms/Ab Ripper X session. The progress is slowly getting better.

Today I learned when to curl my fitness bands when the routine calls for it. Curling up the bands, which is shortening the length of the band by twisting a loop in the band and then stepping on it as needed, added some needed resistance and gave me a better chance to work on my form.

The big notable for me here today was the Side Trip Rise at the end of the “bonus section” of the S&A workout. I found that I could actually hold my body close to the position that you show onscreen, and still do reps. I just have to not worry about chasing you and your friends down and take my time to get into the position.

ARX is getting a little better as well. I am learning how to modify my body so I can still get the intended work on my abs and still do a decent number of reps. I’m not cheating, and I’m still nowhere near a full 25 reps per exercise, but I’m starting to improve my form.

I thought a little about tomorrow’s Yoga X during my late afternoon run. I know that we’re not really focused on the Hindu spirituality that forms the basis of yoga. That being said, I do need to focus solely on doing each pose as best as I can. My mind kind of wandered in the last 20 minutes of last week’s Yoga X, and I need to pay better attention to what I am doing.

 

Raineri Run 4:

In the morning: another P90X workout complete, then a protein shake. Shower, then breakfast.

Another productive day working at home. Telephone conferences and lots of research and analysis, with a lunch of Li’l Smokies and steamed vegetables and laundry on the side.

4:45 p.m.: Turn in my work log, submit my timesheet, and get ready to run. No, I don’t stretch.

The run today was the Raineri Run four miler. Up to Shangri-La and Great Mills, then back up Willow Road up to the Raineri Run neighborhood. Pass the fireplug and turn around towards Abberly Crest. The actual 4-mile mark was at the “finish gate” formed by the Green Meadow Lane street sign and a STOP sign; however, I decide to do the three fire plug finish, which is  the final tenth of a mile upwards marked by the three fire hydrants by the sidewalk. I finished the run at 48:35, with an 11:38 pace over 4.17 mi. The second half of the run had more elevation but my Mile 3 and 4 splits were way better than my opening two miles.

One note: the State of Maryland is on a Shelter-In-Place order, and yet the 5:00 traffic on Willow Road is only slightly lighter than it should be. Oh, and now the state has ordered people going shopping or other public functions to wear face masks or face coverings of some sort.

Now this blog is done. A nice dinner, and then bedtime.

Yoga X in the morning…see you next time, Tony.

 

Song of the Day: Steely Dan/”Peg:” From Genius:

“This song is about an aspiring actress, with the director/photographer promising her a big break. Whether he’s leading her on or not is unknown, and given where the band got its name , you can’t help but wonder what kind of actress Peg is.”

I used to hear Steely Dan on the radio when I was a kid, and I liked them long before I heard this song and another one at high school freshman orientation.

 

Dear Tony/P90X Week 1 In Review

Dear Tony,

I didn’t do Stretch X today, but I didn’t rest either; I went on a ten mile run.

While P90X does offer Stretch X as an option, aside from a rest day, I have considered running Stretch X before or after a run. Stretch X is just short of an hour, so I’m not so sure about using it just before a run; if Stretch X is as intense as the other eleven workouts, I may be “too pooped to pop” for a ten-mile or longer run. Perhaps immediately after Kenpo X, or maybe a few hours after a run as a “cool-down” routine? Those are options, but then again, this is extreme home fitness and there’s only so much a body can do.

Thanks to P90X I am back to exercising six days a week: P90X six days a week, plus runs on Wednesday and Friday, plus a long run on Sunday. On W/F, I do P90X in the morning and run after my workday is done; I try to start the run no earlier than twelve hours of doing the P90X workout of the day.

Lessons learned from the first week:

  1. FORM FIRST, REPS LATER.  Rather than try and chase you and your team for reps my goal should be to do each routine as close to”just right” as I can. Burning fat and building muscle is possible only if I work my body the right way.
  2. Coordination: This was especially relevant on yesterday’s Kenpo X routine. For example, the “jab/cross/hook/uppercut” routine. With each punch, I need to turn my hips in the direction of the punch. Engage the hips, engage the torso and drive the legs. If I’m just throwing punches at will, I’m not working anything.
  3. Learn to work the HRM. I bought a $20 heart rate monitor from Wal-Mart. It doesn’t come with a synchronized monitor band, but the watch does have a small sensor where you plan a fingertip and the watch measures your heart rate. This is tough to do under stress, but I have to learn how to do it. Doing the HRM kind of cuts into my breaks as well, so I have to balance that out.

After the first week of P90X and running three days a week, I am guesstimating that I am running a 12:07 pace. I realize that I am in the “breakdown” stage of P90X, so as long as I am not pulling any muscles or experiencing more post-run soreness than usual, I will be fine. That being said, it is important that I listen to my body while I’m training.

Did I say I was on a keto diet? I am, but I have been cheating (Fruit-Rollups and raisins). So, I need to try not to overdo or cut out the between meal snacks…as usual.

Today is cheat day, but tomorrow I’m back on the keto-wagon. I’m going to sleep in tomorrow, and save Core Synergistics ’til noon-ish.

My goal is to graduate P90X lean, but as long as every gym in Maryland is closed, I will ride the P90X train for as long as my body can take it.

See you next time, Tony…Happy Easter!

 

HH2020: Kitefly

First off: IS ANYBODY DELIVERING GROCERIES?? ANYONE? BUELLER? BUELLER?

Okay, back to today’s run. I made a few trips back and forth to the dumpster to take my plastic and cardboard out for recycling. The thermometer said 55 degrees, but because of the wind it felt 10 degrees colder. I set out my running gear last night, but with each subsequent trip out the door, the short sleeves became long sleeves and the running tights replaced the running shorts.

Today I ran the iStore 4 course. Made it just over the four miles at 48:59 at a 12:30 clip. I want to blame it on the wind, but I think I took it a little easy today. I wasn’t sore from the morning P90X routine (see previous entry), and I wore a CopperFit knee sleeve because i felt a li’l something in my right patella. Still not bad considering the wind and the ups and downs of the course: the climb back up Willows Road, and then going back up and down the hump around the Abberly Crest entrance road.

The P90X and the running are the best things I have going right now.  Not seeing co-workers is not an insignificant thing; hell, not being able to see other working women in the building where I work is something. No meals in restaurants, no interaction face-to-fcae; man, that is something.

I turn on the TV for three things: P90X, vidoegames, and random shows on the shopping channels or cooking shows. Ironic that I have a chance to watch sports talk shows like Golic and Wingo, First Take, and The Herd with Colin Cowherd…and now they have almost nothing to say.

I like to think I’m eating better. I spent the last two days eating homemade broccoli and chicken soup because I wanted a change from Hormel’s Chilli and Hormel’s tamales from a can. I might make some of my own chili tomorrow for lunch.

I am able to shop for groceries with a 20 minute ride to Weis Supermarket. Nobody is delivering groceries anymore…but I turned on Uber and Uber eats for a few minutes today. Apparently there’re drivers, and they’re delivering food. Uber Eats is trying to be reasonable and cutting their delivery fees. Pretty tempting to pay for a Big Mav Value Meal to be delivered to your door without paying $20 for the privilege.

Speaking of meals, it’s almost 7:30 and I need to get dinner. No Song of the Day today…sorry!

Life 2019: VCS Nerd

So, this morning I had a breakfast of Scotch eggs on pan-grilled sourdough bread. My Scotch eggs were supposed to be wrapped in bacon; however, the process of peeling my soft boiled eggs and covering them in sausage/flour/egg wash/panko took too long, and I was rushed by the rapid heating of my deep-fryer. They turned out alright although I think my eggs could have used a bit more cooking time.

But I digress; the prominent thing on my mind today was purchasing an acceptable Atari 2600 emulator. I watched a video of someone who made a lot of key criticisms of the current Atari VCS effort, and that video has been running through my mind all day. So I decided to spend some time doing more research on two other candidates that I am considering, the Atari Flashback and the RetroN 77. For today’s overly-nerdy, classic video gaming post, I am going to give a quick but detailed of the pros and cons of the Flashback and the Retro N and make a recommendation on the (somewhat) doomed Atari VCS.

As of this moment, my first choice will be the Flashback X ( Flashback 10, which AtGames will probably call it). The latest version, the Flashback 9 Gold, has 120 games embedded on the Flashback’s “hard drive”/ROM chip or whatever they are storing the Atari 2600 emulator on board. My old VCS carts are lost to history, so that is a boon right there. AtGames has also published a firmware update that will let you plug in a 16GB SD card that can load a ROM program with up to 1,100 2600 game ROMs. In theory, I can have the entire classic 2600 library for the $60 Flashback plus whatever a good SD Card costs. The Flashback comes with two hardwire controllers, and the unit can also use Atari’s original joysticks and outside third party peripherals. Right now, however, there is an issue using the original paddles or Indy 500 driving controllers.

Although the SD card option makes the software issue sort of moot, I really hope ATGames takes stock of the onboard software for this year’s version No.10. While ATGames has offered a better mix of Atari software and third party games from Activision and Parker Brothers, I estimate about ten percent of the games from Flashback 9 Gold could have been substituted for much better games. Finally the Flashback did NOT come with an HDMI cable to plug into the TV. It is not a bright idea for ATGames to assume the consumer has a spare HDMI cable at home; hopefully they correct this issue next year, along with rectifying the paddle situation.

The RetroN 77 is a close second, but a second place nonetheless (and not really the first loser). It costs about $10 more than the Flashback and is only available via mail order, but you do get a bigger bang for the buck. RetroN 77 will play about 98% of the current library of 2600 cartridges and use most of the Atari and third party peripherals and controllers. It comes with one controller with two improvements to the original Atari joystick: smoothed out edges that make for a more comfortable grip, and two fire buttons to accommodate left and right handed players.

RetroN 77 has plenty of cool features. It has an option to display games with a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ration. You can save and load games to the hard drive or a microSD chip (sold separately). There is a “fry” button that lets the user mimic the action of removing the cartridge from the unit with power on; this helps you access some “Easter eggs” and other cool effects on the games. Lastly there are four “home-brews” embedded on the RetroN 77.

The “77” isn’t perfect. Not all of the third party peripherals will work on the system; for example, the Arcadia Starpath Supercharger won’t work, so you will need ROMs to play those games. Other game-essential controllers like the Power Booster (Omega Race) and Touch Pad (Star Raiders) won’t work. The MicroSD slot only allows up to 18 ROMs at a time, am I am not a fan of that medium (too damned small!). Lastly, what I have seen of the on-board ROMs wasn’t pretty.

 

All that being said, the Flashback and the Retro N are actual, existing systems that you can purchase and play right out of the box. That brings us to the strange case of the Atari VCS, which is pretty much vaporware at this point. The issues…oh, Lord the issues:

  1. The base unit being offered, the Atari Onyx, is $239, with NO CONTROLLERS. If you don’t have any current PC controllers handy, you have to purchase either the Updated Joystick or the Modern Controller (which looks like the PS4/Xbox controllers), at $29 and $49, respectively.
  2. All of the games content is the Atari Vault, which is 2600 games plus Atari’s arcade archives. There are supposedly software developers, but no actual announced list of games that will be available at launch.
  3. The IndeGoGo campaign claims to have raised $3M, but has only sold a few hundred dollars’ worth of the controllers. ???
  4. “Atari” has not been forthcoming on the progress of the actual hardware. The IndeGoGo site and the last of the nine updates (dated over a month ago)  says that the VCS is in the prototype stage. According to the delivery timeline, it’s supposed to be in the manufacturing stage right now.
  5. The public relations campaign is unsatisfactory, especially YouTube. Gaming enthusiasts on YouTube have complained of hostile treatment by Atari, and the VCS channel on YouTube has not had a new video in seven months…last July by my count.

I am just scratching the surface, but what my cataract-infused eyes are seeing is not pretty for the VCS. Right now, the best hope is for AtGames and/or Hyperkin Lab (the makers of RetroN 77) to offer “Atari” cash on the barrelhead for whatever designs, drawings, etc. they have for the VCS, then go ahead and subcontract Atari Age to make software, then build the damn thing and get it out there.

Sooo…right now if I wanted to tell someone to SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY, it would be AtGames for their Flashback X (or 10, because its asking too much to be cool). The Flashback is less expensive, has a substantial games library onboard, and is commercially more accessible. The RetroN 77 would be a cool idea if I had my old 2600 games handy. My mental shelf life for the Atari VCS ends at 2359/11:59 p.m. EST on Veterans’ Day.

 

For a blog that’s supposed to be about running marathons that’s a lot of bandwidth and keystrokes for some old-ass video game system.

 

Song of the Day: Over a month ago, the local classic rock station did a midday switch of its format to what I would call classic pop. The classic rock staples have been reinforced with a mix of 70s and 80s lite rock and 80s radio/MTV hits. I’m not too thrilled about hearing Laura Branigan’s “Gloria”, anything from Wham!, or Michael MacDonald mixed in with rock music from Guns N’ Roses, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. However it’s not all bad. Every now and then they’ll put in something I can appreciate.

Boz Scaggs: The Lowdown and Lido Shuffle. Boz Scaggs was a successful 70s producer who tried his hand at recording his won hits; you could say he one what he was doing. Also, who is is this Lido fellow and how do I get in touch with him? I wanna hang out.

Earth, Wind and Fire: September.This is what rhythm and blues sounds like. Discussion over.

Club Nouveau: Lean on Me. This cover of the Bill Withers classic just came on the radio. Okay, not all 80s pop was bad.

Now I gotta hyperlink all this stuff. Wheeee.

Arctic Blast 2019: Shakshuka

It is just past noon on the Martin Luther King holiday and the WeatherBug app on my iMac says it’s 21 degrees out. But the snow from last week is about 75~80% gone, so there’s that.

My quest for shakshuka was an unqualified success. It was good but not great. Chalk it up to it being my first time.

Operation:Shakshuka started around quarter after seven this morning, two and a half hours after my 0430 alarm went off. I spent forty-five minutes or so chopping and dicing four different peppers (red bell, green bell, chili cubano, jalapeño/poblano) and an onion. I chopped and diced them Gordon Ramsay style: three middle fingers on the pepper, thumb and pinky on the sides, slicing lengthwise. I spent some extra time fishing out and separating the seeds from the hotter peppers so I could save them for when I added the spices. This took me about 40~45 minutes.

At 0810 I fired up the newly-seasoned cast iron skillet and dumped enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the pan. First in were the onions, a close of minced garlic, and some mushrooms that I also sliced up. I cooked them for about 10~15 minutes, waiting for the onions to turn brown. I then added 1 1/2 inches of a tube of Jimmy Dean mild sausage, chopping them up in the pan with the onions and mushrooms. After my sausage was brown I added the diced peppers and let them all cook.

When the peppers were cooked enough, I added a teaspoon each of cumin and chili powder, as much black peppers as I could grind out of the peppercorn grinder, and added some (not all) of the pepper seeds that I salvaged from the chopped peppers. After mixing in and cooking the spices, I finally added two cans of fire roasted tomatoes, including the water that they were packed in. I let this all cook at the medium heat that I had started with, for about twenty minutes.

As the mixture started to cook off, I worried that I might burn it, so I added about a quarter cup of water. Probably my first mistake, I should have let the water in the mix cook off. Anyway, I made divots in the mixture to dump in five eggs. I cracked each one in a ramekin first, so i could avoiding broken yolks or pieces of eggshell in the eggs before I put them in the sauce.

My second mistake was forgetting that cast iron skillets retain heat longer than other frying pans; thus my eggs would cook MUCH quicker than I had anticipated. The ancillary processes of making coffee and toasting my Texas toast were somewhat rushed, and by the time i remembered to turn off myself still cooking shakshuka, the egg whites were fairly set.

The shakshuka came out, as advertised. It was not as spicy as I thought it would be, and sure enough, my egg yolks were well done and not the over easy of a poached egg. Still with added sausage and the shakshuka atop a slice of pan-grilled Texas toast, then covered with quest blanco and Frank’s Hot sauce, I wolfed down 2 1/2 servings. There’s still enough of the shakshuka mixture that I could cook another couple of eggs for another meal, if I decide to put the remains in the fridge.

So what did I learn today?

  1. Need more spices and/or hotter peppers
  2. Better prep for coffee and bread (and get a sourdough loaf next time!)
  3. Cast iron skillets cook your eggs real fast

All that being said, my shakshuka will make some of the best leftovers I have had in a long time.

Okay, it’s nap time…

 

Song of the Day: The Jacksons, “Torture” and “State of Shock (w/Mick Jagger).” My mind tends to wander while I am on YouTube, so I’m not sure how I ended up looking for the songs from Michael Jackson’s reunion album with his brothers. These two were clearly the best of the album, and if the internet says so, Freddie Mercury was initially considered for “State of Shock.” But that Jagger fella…he worked out okay, I think.