Category Archives: Food

Very Quickly

Tamales in a pressure cooker!  From here (thanks folks!).  I placed a pint jar in the center to help hold the tamales upright.  tip

Twenty minutes on high pressure, then rest on plate for ten minutes to firm up.  Perfect and amazing (when you consider that conventionally steamed tamales require at minimum an hour to cook ).

See the air pockets in the picture below?  The fluffiest tamales I’ve ever made.  Probably due less to the pressure cooker than to the fact that I left an end of each corn husk open (I used to close both ends).  With an open end, about a tablespoon or two of dough  expanded out the opening.  Looked kind of horror show when I opened the pressure cooker, all oozy and wet, but now that I know they firm when rested for five or ten minutes, I’m not freaked out by wet dough when they first come out of the steam.  tu

I used masa harina from a bag.  Need to use up all five pounds before I try making my own masa for tamales with nixtamilized corn.

One cup of masa harina makes six tamales.  Perfect for two people and about as many as can easily fit in my six quart pressure cooker.ti

The filling is a roasted poblano, shredded seitan and tomatillo salsa.  So good!

Frida’s pep is still tied to the temperature.  70 degrees and she’s like a pup.  85 and she walks at speeds you’d expect for a shepherd aged 13 years.  Either way, she’s loading up on beechnut leaves while the loading is good.  I should mention her kidney values are still unchanged.  Not perfect, but holding firm.  A huge relief.  fib


That’s it for now.  Hope you are well.


Indoor Sports

It is supposed to rain all day today and tomorrow.  So far, so true.  No lightning so you know the hifi is on.  I am going through LPs that came into my collection from I don’t know where.  I had set aside some of these records to pass along but wanted to give them one listen.  Can’t say for sure I haven’t played them before.  It is possible I repeat this procedure every five years.  No matter.  Eternal sunshine (in my mind).nr

The keepers?  Cat Mother and the All-Night Newsboys, Greg Copeland, Santana, Dead Boys, Sandy Denny, Joy of Cooking and NRBQ.  That’s NRBQ above in 1978!  The guy on the left is Al Anderson whom I just discovered wrote Ridin’ in my Car which I first heard in 2010 on She & Him’s Volume Two.  I would not likely have discovered this fun for me fact without listening to the original pressing of NRBQ’s At Yankee Stadium.  When the album was re-released the song was omitted.  More?  This album was recorded just south of here at Bearsville Studios.  The link is worth a read, so click on it already.

Still to review are Steve Hackett, The Churls and Lindisfarne.  I am glad I saved these records as long as I have.  Most of them are well outside of my comfort zone but today that is exactly what I want.  Too many days I listen to shuffled songs on a one-dimensional collection of music on my

I can’t sit still through all those records without doing something so I made a labor-intensive lunch of spicy chickpeas (Madhu Gadia’s The Indian Vegan Kitchen never disappoints) and grilled Lebanese flatbread (grabbed from the NYT’s site). lu 

The dough rises for an hour so I started there.  While the yeast was eating sugar and passing gas, I put in place all the ingredients for the chickpeas.  That dish ended with a ten minute reduction during which time I rolled out, oiled up, spice dusted and grilled the eight breads.  A one man assembly line that would have made Henry Ford proud (even if we aren’t proud of him).  One eighth of that eaten, all that remains is clean

Might need to walk Frida under an umbrella.  We miss only two or three walks a year and today isn’t bad enough to be one of them.  Correction–Frida thinks today does merit a pass.  We made it two blocks, stood for five minutes and then returned home.  Can’t say I mind.

Stay dry as best you can.

Ah Yup!




Eleanor Friedberger’s Personal Record did not disappoint.bihThe brownie recipe from Julie Hasson’s Vegan Diner was also very good.fa

Frida in her 13th year is smashing expectations.

I hope your day is muy pleasant.


Lacey and Frida are sleeping, so I will share something quickly.  Wonderful friends sent us three tins of nut milk cheese from Punk Rawk Labs.  3

We received Cashew, Herbed Cashew and Macadamia and Smoked Macadamia.  I’ve listed them in the order of approachability, but all three are amazing.  HCM

Great texture and complex flavors.  The smoke in the third cheese comes from a crust of smoked sea salt (and black pepper).  Reminiscent of tobacco smoke.  Very interesting.  Almost challenging.  Probably something like the fun had by folks who eat exotic “stinky” animal milk cheeses.  SM

I’d probably have a tin in the fridge at all times if these were sold locally.  I really need to get to Lagusta’s place to see if I can get some nut milk cheese from her tenant.  I can’t quickly find the name.  Does it exist yet?  Did I imagine it?  In any event, the world is really looking up for plant eaters!

Other news?  I dropped off two tiffins at Curry House as I placed a to go order.  Thought was they could pack our food in the tins and save all the styro and paper.  Wasn’t sure how they’d react, but they were completely into it.  They were debating which parts of the order should go into the five compartments.  I had thought it through before selecting the two tiffins I brought and knew I’d have one container left for condiments.  Give it a try at your local restaurant and see what happens!

While Curry House made our dinner, I popped next door to Mahar’s for a ten ounce Mild at Heart.  The place was packed!  Like I’ve rarely seen it.  Good to see the support.  I hope they find a new home that is close to my home.  So nice to walk.  Ten ounces was a perfect timer for the magicians at the Curry House.  When I walked in the door, my two tiffins were waiting.

Appliance repair?  The dishwasher left an inch of water in the bottom at the end of a cycle.  I had thought the metal screen forming most of the bottom of the thing was all I needed to keep clean, and I would occasionally clear residual food bits from that.  Not enough.  DW

This time I removed the bottom spray bar to allow me to remove a pipe that carries water to the top spray bar.  This gave me access to a raised plastic grate that covers the drain.  All without tools!  The plastic grate was pretty clogged, as was the drain underneath.  The picture above is an after picture.  I would have been embarrassed to post a before picture!  Cleaned all that out with a turkey baster, a rag and a toothbrush.  Also scrubbed the bottom spray bar, the plastic gears that move the bar and a filter that cleans the water before it gets sprayed.  Despite the dishwasher looking clean before disassembly, all of these hidden from view parts were pretty disgusting.  Running water and the aforementioned cleaning tools had them looking like new in short order.  I reassembled the bits and gave it a test wash.  Perfect!  The washer is considerably quieter now, too.  Like new, really.  I think the mucked up gears driving the spray bar were causing the scary noises I had been ignoring for a year or so (intermittent rumbling).  This dishwasher was about seven years old and hadn’t had any work done to it (except the surface wipes I had mentioned).  I can’t see myself doing all this prophylactically, but I’ll go ahead and recommend the same to you.  I imagine the motor was working harder than it needed to.  Good to care for things if you can, right?

That’s enough.  I should check in on Lacey and Frida.  Take care!

Oh!  I should mention how wonderfully Frida is recovering.  She is still tired, but is walking, even running, with confidence.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the antibiotics clear the infection and that the aspirin prevent further clots.  Thanks for all of the kind words and wishes!


SI had twenty ounces of this.  Lacey, twenty of this.  Note the ABV.  Needless to say, we tipped these monsters gently, slowly, then wobbled next door for a long Indian feast.  Note to self:  If twenty ounces of beer cost more than fifteen dollars, order a ten ounce pour.  If you are sad to see the bottom, you can always double down.FDN

In the excess begets excess department, allow me to introduce the Fried Double Nasty.  Appropriate to drop the Sir as there is nothing honorable about this sandwich.  As I type, Lacey asked what’s a fried double nasty?  Well, sweets!  Spread some Great Smokey Mountain Cheeze (courtesy of the Vegan Diner cookbook) on the insides of the top and bottom pieces of bread.  Sprinkle chopped onion on the cheeze.  Fry a couple Herbed Breakfast Patties (also courtesy of the Vegan Diner cookbook).  When done, plop the patties atop the cheeze and then fry the bread.  Finish it with a swirl of Sriracha, marry the halves and make it go away.  Which I have done and could not be happier.

Be well!

First Snow

First SnowI woke up at 1:33 a.m. and couldn’t fall back to sleep.  I can’t do much at this hour without disturbing Lacey and Frida, so I decided to write a bit to share.  Before opening the laptop, I spent a moment at the window.  As I looked into the cold, dark and still outside, it hit me–it’s Christmas morning!  I should be in bed (don’t want to prevent Santa’s arrival)!  I really felt like a kid for a second, basking in a bit of the ol’ Christmas spirit.  What a great feeling… and then it got better.  It started snowing!  First snow of the winter, too, and just in time for Christmas.  Is that what got me out from under the covers?  Whatever the reason, I am lucky to be experiencing it.  Fresh white snow working to cover walks.  Not a sound except for clicking keys and my trusty tinnitus.  I hope it keeps snowing.  How special for the little folks!

We’ve had a wonderful holiday season so far.  You?  Friday night we went to Mahar’s and Curry House with two good friends.  Lacey beat me at darts and then denied me a rematch.  I’ve always said I am not a competitive person, but Lacey recently corrected me–I am not a competitive person except when it comes to games played with her.  As always, she is right.  We recently started a game of gin and the plan is to keep a running score for life.  We’ve only played three short sessions and Lacey has 675 to my 485.  I have a weakness for the discard pile.  As it grows, drunk on dreams of big points I scoop up as many cards as I can.  A hand or two later, Lacey goes out while I am holding a fist full of negative points.  A little math to encourage me to pick up my game?  Based on our current scores, if we play fifty times a year for forty years, Lacey will end up with 450,000 points to my 320,000 points.  Epic fail!

Saturday we were invited to hear a friend perform at Valentine’s.  Same friend that sent us a holiday CD with four songs written and performed by her and her husband.  I listened to it three times through and couldn’t stop laughing (with them–it was meant to be funny).  We wanted to go to the show, but when evening arrived we just didn’t have the get up to go.  She expected to go on after nine (our bedtime).  As the sun was setting, standing in a cold bar when our bodies expect to be horizontal and pressed under heavy blankets didn’t appeal.  Our neighbors called, though, so we shared with them an early dinner of Little Anthony’s pizza.  We were back home and asleep by the time our friend was to perform.  Very sorry to have missed her, but happy to be in a warm bed at bedtime.  We won’t miss her next show (and will be the richer for it).

Sunday found us at a holiday party at the home of a member of my Scrabble group.  In addition to enjoying conversations with my fellow tile shufflers, I met a gent that plays disc golf at Joralemon, loves Chicago, is a lawyer, and has about a dozen other things in common with me.  A new friend?  One can only hope.  I also met an architect who designs US embassies.  Tough to be more interesting than that!  I was glad to have Ned at my side to keep the conversation going (Ned has been everywhere, and that sure comes in handy when conversing with international architects).  I listened, smiled, sipped whiskey and soaked it all in.  I knew my Scrabble crew was an interesting bunch, but I am continually impressed as I learn more about them, their friends and their adventures.

Last night–another holiday party!   This time at my cousin’s home in Delmar.  Such a warm family!  Can’t believe my good fortune to have reconnected with them.  I’ll spare you the details save for one–the best split pea soup I’ve ever tasted.  As I was working my way through my second bowl and paying tribute to my cousin’s mastery between each bite, she said it was “just soup.”  To her, maybe, but not to Lacey and myself.  Trying to remember the differences from what you’d expect.  Fresh rosemary sticks out.  Oh–she started with tomato paste browned a bit in the pot with tamari.  No celery.  Finished by the consumer with olive oil and chopped parsley.  In the end, magic.  A pint is resting in our fridge.  Sounds good even at  2:38 a.m., but I should save it.   Lacey and I can enjoy a cup later today, together.

Can’t forget to mention one terrific gift–a chocolate pecan pie made by a friend.  One of her specialties that we’ve enjoyed half a dozen times.  It was just dropped off yesterday, still warm, and I’ve already enjoyed two pieces.  I’ve mostly resisted sweets this season (even made a quick trip to Seattle without eating a single Mighty-O donut), but this pie will be my downfall.  No regrets.  I’ll enjoy the ride.

I fit in a little plumbing yesterday.  The hot water stem I replaced in the shower was acting up.  As the water came up to temp the hot water would abruptly stop.  Opening the valve further would get the hot water going again, but you’d have to open it further than before.  I guessed the screw that holds on the rubber washer was coming loose, allowing the washer to slide out, closing the valve, as the temp came up.  Not sure if that was the cause, but the screw was pretty loose.  I tightened it, added more plumbers grease on the stem, washer and rings, painted thread compound on the collar and closed it back up.  Seems to be good now.  I repeated the procedure for the two tub stems I replaced.  Both  of those screws were a little loose, too.  All in all, a fun project.  I’ll give the shower stem the first real test today.  Fingers crossed!

Lacey will work today.  She should have fun sharing Christmas with her teenage clients.  Me?  I’ll pedal atop rollers, visit my friend’s cat (my friend is home visiting family), call my family and make a pot of jambalaya to share later.  Some solitaire, to be sure, and probably some music on the hifi.  Before I know it, Lacey will be home (the only gift I want and need).

Four a.m. now.  It is still snowing.  Looks like I will get to push a shovel around the driveway.  Looking forward to the cardio and upper body work.  Will you be shoveling?  Take it easy out there.  I will, too.  No Christmas heart attacks, please!

Happy holidays!

Prep Work

This year’s Thanksgiving table will be a little sweeter thanks to Lagusta’s willingness to share her pumpkin bourbon tart recipe.  I’ve made it half a dozen times now, but enough time passes between each go that my heart still gets fluttery with anticipation.  That, or I have an arrhythmia.  C’est la vie!  

Pulled a nice old Schwinn pump out of the garbage a week ago.  I oiled the leather plunger and it moves air nicely, but I learned why they deep-sixed it as soon as I tried to connect it to a valve.  The pot metal head was cracked where the thumb lever pivots.  The pressure of the compressing rubber grommet pushes the thumb lever back on the cracked side and a no pump situation results.  No worries.  I love Topeak’s SmartHead pump upgrade kit so I ordered one straight away.  The kit comes with various fittings to allow the new hose to be connected to most any pump except, it turns out, this one.  No worries again!  

They also include fittings that allow you to splice the new hose onto the old hose.  Not as elegant, but good enough.  It is working perfectly.  Best part is, while the old pump head was Schrader only, the SmartHead fits both Schrader and presta valves without an adaptor.  Swell!  

Back to it, then.  Have a great Thanksgiving.