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The Karma of Spare Parts

Good evening, Dear Readers:

I have a few minutes, so I thought I’d tell you a little more about the search for spare parts that’s been going on in my life. Specifically, something I neglected to mention in my last post.

See, I hate something that’s broken, doesn’t work, or is just sitting there collecting dust for the “one day” that I’ll get around to it. Since I’ve been home most of the time, I notice them, and in the last month or so, I’ve been fixing them, too. The last time I was home all the time, I figured out how to clean out the peephole in my door so that I could see out of it. The manual doorbell doesn’t ring anymore, but I can indeed see who’s there. Then I went to Neighbor R’s place and did the same for her, so now she can see outside too.

I do have a sewing machine that needs fixing, but I’ll get to that later. Ditto for the leaky bathtub faucet, which numerous YouTube videos are dedicated. I’m getting ahead of myself.

My Dad was a “fix-it guy,” and often me and my brothers were conscripted to be “helpers.” When I was about 7 or 8, I bragged to someone or other that my dad could fix the air conditioning and everything else; fortunately, he was not “volunteered” for anything from my commentary. We weren’t that much help, but eventually I started picking up a few things. I’m no flame-haired “Tim the Tool Man Taylor,” but from time to time I’ve learned to fix small things and didn’t have to call out for repair (from either the former landlord or a service company.) Mike Rowe, the “Dirty Jobs” guy, might even be a bit impressed. Neighbor K turned me on to looking it up on YouTube, since she’s fixed a few of her own things that way. Why didn’t I think of YouTube before?

So let me tell you how this all got started. . . .

Some time ago, my air conditioner started draining water inside. The new landlord couldn’t be bothered, and this went on for many months, nearly flooding the place at one point. I started putting towels in that space below the unit, and because the water stunk, this required the towels to be washed. That was fine until. . . .

The washer stopped spinning. That means that everything had to be wrung out by hand. This started a repetitive motion injury that my left elbow is still healing from, but it’s getting better. Laundry took a long time.

Months of stress later, I decided, stuff it, I’m going to fix the problems myself. I chanted to have them done by a certain time frame (2 weeks, I think) and hot dawg, it was! I did it!

First, the AC. After some research on YouTube, I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a little wet-dry Shop Vac that worked perfectly and sucked all the gunk out of not only the drain pipe but the drip tray, which was also clogged. I poured a hot bleach/water mixture into the pipe, and then beyond the coils into the drip tray. That was over a month ago. . .how dry I am!!

At no time did the prior landlord ever suggest putting bleach and water down there twice a year. I would have been happy to take care of it, and it would have saved a lot of money and aggravation. But it’s done, and I hope to never have that happen again.

Then through some correspondence on our local Nextdoor.com, I not only got the name of a reliable and honest appliance guy, but also a YouTube video on how to replace the motor coupling in the washing machine. I did, but still ended up calling the guy, who showed me that I’d failed to reconnect the wire between the carburetor and the motor. Once he did that, I was back in business. He did charge me $40 for the call, but that was just fine–total cost was under $100. And I’m washing all my clothes happily again.

In my last post, I mentioned the replaced glass plate and rotating ring assembly in my 11 year old Sunbeam microwave that had long ago gone by the wayside. With the model number from the back, and a few online clicks (on the iPhone, no less) I had it in about 10 days. Sometimes I just look into the microwave and gaze at it. . .I’m so happy to see it looking and working perfectly normal again.

Next was finding the the replacement part for a discontinued but functional coffee grinder on eBay.

Additionally, when the former landlord installed a new dishwasher, some external plastic parts (like the handle across the top of the door) were badly cracked. Eventually they fell off, and I’m sure that when I move out of this place, the new landlord would call that “damage,” and charge me for it. Nope–I have the replacement part for that too, I just have to talk to the GER about how to un-install the dishwasher, or call my appliance guy again. I’ll get on YouTube and research it. I can’t cut the power to the whole place, then I can’t see what I’m doing!

Stuff like that can be found online at Easy Appliance Parts. A week later, they were here. Just haven’t replaced them yet.

So, I went to the Woodlands on Monday, and had to go back today (although I headed home after a bite at Starbucks.)  When I go to Sur la Table, I like to buzz through and just look at stuff. New linens. Pure white dishes (Williams-Sonoma has their own line, too.) Spatulas of all kinds in huge crocks. And then there’s the coffee area, with Bodum French press pots and Bialetti stove-top espresso pots in different sizes and styles. This time, something caught my eye.

Replacement parts.

Now, I’ve bought replacement glass beakers for the Bodum pots that I have (especially the 2 cup, which I have broken twice), so I knew I could either get them there or order them online from Bodum (along with filter assembly parts as well.) But I never thought about Bialetti.

What makes Amy think of Bialetti, you might be thinking. . .take a look a this:

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Because the bed is where I have the most space to take these pictures.

Where in the world would I get something like this? Where else?

The GER.

While the GER currently looks for specific things to sell on eBay, at one time he and his late wife used to do all kinds of antique stuff. He found this at a work site and it was being thrown out. I think we’d been dating about six months when he gave it to me. I LOVED it, and still do, but this is why I did not use it:

That gasket used to be white.

That gasket used to be white.

It sat on a shelf with some pictures and other antique-y things, until I realized on Monday. . .I could get replacement parts!

Who knew?

Who knew?

Carpentry expert Norm Abrams wrote a book called Measure Twice, Cut Once. That’s also a catch phrase with carpenters (another thing my dad used to do; I sew like he used to do carpentry.) Hint: not just for carpenters, OK?

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any measurements, and just presumed that what I bought would fit. And it didn’t. . .this one turns out to be a 4-cup, not a 3-cup. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I found out when I started to remove the filter plate and pick out the dry-rotted rubber:

Ewww. . . .

Ewww. . . .

Eventually, I got all of it out and removed the old filter plate:

I always wondered what was in there. Now I know.

I always wondered what was in there. Now I know.

And that’s when I discovered that not only did the new filter plate not fit, the gaskets wouldn’t be coaxed into place, either. So I did what I frequently do in these situations: pulled out a Brillo and started cleaning the heck out of it.

For all the years I’ve had this pot, I never noticed that it had a name on it:

Ever seen one of these before?

Ever seen one of these before?

I’ve looked in a few place but haven’t found any history on the Flory Express, but I did find a similar model listed on eBay. For nearly $55. Not bad for an old Italian coffee pot, is it?

Pretty nice!

Pretty nice, and in good condition.

Someone else has one just like it for sale from Australia for $65. Makes me think about it. . .but it would be interesting to see who buys one of them. I didn’t see any bids on either one.

In my little neck of the woods, though, I got on the Bialetti website, took measurements as instructed, and I’ll soon have a new funnel basket and two packs of the gasket and filter plate. I hope they fit. If they do, I’ll be makin’ me some stove top Cafe Americano. . .if not, I give up. I’ll add it to the eBay fray.

Of course, I have my receipt from Sur la Table, and will return the gasket packs when I go back to see Dr. Davis in the next few weeks after all the labs come in. They may only take back the unopened pack, but if they offer a store credit, I’ll be getting a bottle of olive oil and maybe a spatula or something.

I’ve scrubbed the metal parts as best I can, going through two Brillo pads. The Bialetti name is barely visible on mine, but it’s there, and also has some inscriptions on the bottom. When the parts arrive I’ll be boiling water and vinegar on the inside, and may check out some other cleaning options. I found a few here, but so far, it’s still grungy looking on the inside; I may be stuck with that. I did try pouring boiling vinegar water in it earlier, but nothing happened. The outside is still a bit funky, too, but since HRH Queen Elizabeth isn’t coming for coffee, nor Martha Stewart, I think I’ll be OK with it. I plan to boil water in it once or twice before I actually attempt using it for real coffee.

You can find these neat little pots at the Bialetti website, Amazon.com, Cost Plus World Market, Williams-Sonoma, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and many other retailers.

You can also read more about the history of the Bialetti stovetop espresso pot and company here. Wikipedia also has an entry with a little more info.

So, if you’ve always wanted to try one of these, they’re not difficult or terribly expensive, and I’ve known quite a few devotees to the Bialetti.

Me, I just wanted to fix something, so I’ll let you know what happens when I get the parts. Maybe I’ll make the GER some decaf espresso and bowl him over. Sometimes it doesn’t take much.

The GER is taking me on a “foodie adventure” next week, so I’ll let you know how that goes, too.

Enjoy!

 

 
 

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Cupcakes and the Honey Bunny

Cupcakes and the Honey Bunny

Good evening, Dear Readers:

I’m sorry it’s been a week since I wrote. I haven’t forgotten you or Graze.com. I sent them a link to the last blog post, and the email I got back was that they’ve passed the link around so everyone could see it. Woo hoo!

I’ve been at it, and sent out a proposal for copywriting work, but it didn’t go anywhere. Another potential client I wrote a sample article for had to say no, they’d lost a big client the day before, but check back in December.

But in foodie news, it’s been a week of good stuff.

First, if you’ve ever broken the glass plate in your microwave, take heart. I did that about five years ago, and just figure that one day, I’d buy a new microwave. Not yet. When the plate broke, I had no idea where to go to get another one for a 2003 Sunbeam microwave. Well, I bought a Corelle dinner plate at Wal-Mart and that worked fine until a couple of months ago when one of the little wheels came off the rotating ring assembly that turns the plate. This was probably caused by the imbalance of weight on the dinner plate, and two weeks ago, I did something about it.

Darn, it took moving the microwave out, snapping a picture of the model number on the back, and going online to do a search. Guess what? Appliance Factory Parts had exactly what I needed. The plate was back-ordered, so I called to ask if it was just temporary, or discontinued. The nice man said it was just back-ordered and should be in next week. They shipped it FedEx, and I even got updates as it made its way to my door. I met the FedEx guy out on the sidewalk. Fifteen minutes later my little microwave bought used in 2004 for $10 was good as new.

I also found a new replacement top thingy for a Braun coffee grinder on eBay. The coffee grinder is at least 4 years old, works perfectly and has been discontinued by Braun. The button on the original top is cracked, but without a replacement part, a new one was in order. But no, I got an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) part on eBay. Instead of tossing a perfectly good coffee grinder and buying a new one, my Braun looks new and works fine.

Repair parts: It’s a Good Thing.

Yesterday I had to trek up to The Woodlands, a place I like to go up to occasionally. One of these days I’m going to spend a weekend up there. But no, this time it was for yearly medical testing with the fine folks at Woodlands Wellness & Cosmetic Center, Dr. Sakina Davis and her terrific staff. And of course, I had to make a few stops while I was up there.

I should point out that I drove through some very heavy rains for over an hour to get there. You never know this kind of thing will happen when you make plans. (Ask anyone who’s planned an outdoor party or wedding.)  We had a big front come through, and dropped the temperature about 15 degrees. Mind you, this being Houston, I had sweat trickling down my back when I hopped in my ride to go on the freeway, and then after I got out of Sweet Tomatoes, I saw people in The Woodlands Mall by Barnes & Noble wearing long sleeves. It had not only dried out but the temperature dropped just a little. It actually got cool when I got home last night.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. . . .

First place I stopped when I got there was The Container Store for a couple of small things. I didn’t have time to do Sweet Tomatoes yet, but I hit the Starbucks across the street from Woodlands Wellness for a quick bite, because I was really hungry. I grabbed a Greek Yogurt Raspberry Lemon Parfait and ate it while I walked back across the street.

Turns out I should NOT have been eatin’ anything. I was supposed to be taking the starving blood tests, but I’ll be going back tomorrow after fasting all night to do the blood draw. I’ll take my laptop with me and head to Starbucks for some food and free WiFi so I can wait for the morning traffic to lighten up.

For a late lunch, I made it to Sweet Tomatoes, where I discovered some delicious gluten-free offerings and a new quinoa salad. After the late lunch, I went over to the mall to visit Karla & Anton Kharoufeh at Oil & Vinegar, but both were on the phone. However, Miss Kathy was free, and I talked to her for a few minutes. I really just wanted to say Hi, but I only got to talk to Kathy. Oh. . .bottles and jars of delicious things in there, so if you’re in The Woodlands, please go stop in and get something special and delicious. The Lemon EV Olive Oil mixed with the Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar is absolute heaven when you whiz it in the blender to emulsify it and pour it on a salad. Doesn’t take much, either.

When I left The Woodlands Mall, I headed out to Trader Joe’s, and shopped til I dropped. Neighbor R, who just turned 80, gave me $10 and asked me to get some of the $3 a bottle TJ’s wine, which she’s fond of. She likes the Chardonnay, but also asked about the Pinot Grigio. I brought back two of the Chardonnay and one Pinot Grigio, and she was very happy with that. I asked the very nice cashier to ring the wine up separately, because this was for a “little old lady in Clear Lake,” and she bagged up the receipt and change (about 27 cents, I think.)

I’m always extra-careful handling other people’s money, even if it’s 27 cents.

I bought extra of some things like toothpaste, cannellini beans, cocoa powder and olive oil. Never mind how much I spent on groceries–I’m stocked up on some non-perishables for a while.

Last stop: Frost Bake Shoppe. I actually got to talk to the owner, Terese Yates, and told her why I was buying so many gluten free. You KNOW that’s what I went for. This time, though, I brought some home to share.

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Deliciousness comes from this box.

Since the temperature dropped, and I had some refrigerated goods from Trader Joe’s in a bag with two frozen water bottles, I got four of the Blueberry Cheesecake cupcakes in gluten free, and carefully put the box in that zippered insulated bag on top. They made it all the way without a problem.

Yes, this really is gluten-free:

Blueberry Cheesecake Cupcake

Is this not the most one of the most beautiful cupcakes you’ve ever seen?

Oh, YEAH.

You can read more about Ms. Yates and Frost at this link.

At this point, the drive home begins. However, the weather was beautiful by this time, so it was only the traffic to deal with. And although it was very slow in a couple of spots, for the most part it wasn’t bad. Neighbor K generously fed Jezebel the step-kitty so I could go see the GER first. I didn’t tell her about the cupcakes until I brought her one.

First stop on was down to Galveston County to see the GER at the infamous, aptly named Funk House/Junk House. I called him on the way to make sure he was home, and I said, “I have something for you.” He said, “I have something for you, too! Some fresh fish and some home-grown grapefruits.” He’d been out fishing, as he usually does on Monday (and today, too.) Suddenly I felt bad–all I had was one cupcake for him! Well, I went. . .and I talked to him for a little while and explained that it was, indeed. gluten free, and he would thoroughly enjoy it. He did–and ate it in three bites. (I talked to him today and asked; he loved it!)

Then back to the homestead, and brought Neighbor K one of these delicious things. She said she would eat it in the morning after our early-morning walk. Unfortunately, I was so tired, there WAS no early morning walk. Just talked to Neighbor K, and she didn’t walk either, but did thoroughly enjoy that cupcake. At 5:30 this morning.

Last stop–Neighbor R, to bring her wine and the last of the cupcakes. (I’d already eaten mine, I couldn’t wait.)

So now, they know how delicious gluten-free cupcakes from Frost can be. That fish from the GER was broiled up last night and came out great.

The fish and produce were not the first foodie gifts I received since my last post, either.

Last week, I got a personal visit from the GER. No kidding. He emailed me last Monday, informing me that he’d received actual mail–and it looked legit–for me. Say what? He said it looked like real mail from a friend. Although it was a greeting card sent from Alaska, it had a piece of junk mail in it. I couldn’t seem to catch up to him to drop by the Funk House/Junk House to pick it up, so he ended up shipping it, and stopping by on Thursday. He also wanted to go to Vitamin Shoppe, which happens to be a mile away from me. It was much easier to let him drive us over there so he could see it, and I needed something anyway, so that’s what happened.

Shortly before the card arrived, he’d found himself with a beehive with lots of BEES. Yes, the kind that produce honey. He had to call professionals to come in and remove said beehive, and they gave him the honeycombs they removed from the shed he plans to eventually dismantle and replace.

So, I got him some gloves and set up a bowl with a strainer so we could filter out solid biological matter. (If you’ve never done this, well, don’t think too much about it, OK?)  While he was wringing out the honeycombs with some clean hair color gloves I gave him, we were chatting about different stuff. And, of course, I forgot to take pictures, darnit! But I can show you what we ended up with.

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I later filtered it out again, and then gave Neighbor K a jar and kept one for myself.

Incidentally, if you like those labels, you can find the template here on Martha Stewart’s website. However, they don’t stick well in the freezer. I just used one on this jar because I’d printed some once and they were just handy.

Now, a while back I kept a couple of pictures from Facebook of a couple of pictures of “cleanse” drinks. Then I had to clear out some of the photos (which is why I don’t have a pic of the bowl of honey before I bottled it, darnit.) I discovered that one, now that I have raw, organic honey, I can try.

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The honey is raw and organic because the GER didn’t know that hive was out there. It’s not certified organic, of course, just. . .he never did anything with it or to it.

Now, these things get passed around Facebook all the time; in fact, friend of the blog AK recently asked me for the Cranberry Cleanse, but that’s got a pear, an apple, a piece of celery and some other stuff I don’t have around on a daily basis.

But this one I decided to try. No, I haven’t lost any weight with it yet, but I have been mixing it up with very warm water to help the honey melt, then adding two packets of sweetener to cut the tartness. Then pour it over ice, because I’m sweaty and no way do I want something hot. I can’t say it’s harmful, but I’m drinking it after I get back in from the AM walks with Neighbor K.

Remember one of Amy’s cardinal rules: two packets of Sweet ‘N Low can kill the taste of anything. That’s helpful when you’re ingesting something awful that’s also medicinal. Been there, done that, tell you in another blog post later, maybe during flu season.

So, despite everything else, I’m still here, and still at it. We’ll be back on the walking trail first thing in the morning (yes, 4 am) and I’m off to The Woodlands soon as I get cleaned up and dressed. No eatin’ until they stick me, and I make appropriate comments about the peacocks in the office looking like poultry.

Happy Dining!

 

 

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Grazing, grazing. . . .

Grazing, grazing. . . .

Good evening, Dear Readers:

Well, I’ve had a busy day, not all of it good, and I don’t feel like doing anything else. And then I remembered that I hadn’t written a blog post in a while. Good heavens, more than two weeks! My apologies.

Now, did you make it to McDonald’s for a free coffee? Not bad, is it? I brought my own Sweet N’ Low, and nobody cared. They put the cream in the coffee FOR YOU, and I had my back turned when I added sweetener. Drank my happy coffee all the way home. Twice. It’s pretty good, just be aware of the sugar/Equal thing, and bring your own if you want different. The small coffee is regularly $1.39, and I think the larger is about 20 cents more; I didn’t look too close. But if you need a coffee, and there’s no Starbucks nearby, (or like my family, you hate Starbucks), it’s pretty good. I might have a coffee there more often, and as my late grandmother would tell you, “Don’t knock it.”

I’ve got a lot of things going on, so I’ll fill you in some of it. First, Neighbor K and I are getting up early and walking. When I say “early,” I do mean “early.” As in 4:00 am Central Daylight Time. I am not joking–we get up and go walking in the 4:00 am hour. And walk for 30 to 45 minutes. She takes out the Daft Pug for a quickie and then we start walking. We’ve seen some, shall we say, interesting things on our early morning treks, as well as had a really good early start to our day. She goes to work, but sometimes, I go back to sleep.

I’m working on not doing that anymore. But I have gotten lots done when I get up and stay up.

We started last Monday, and while I got up and went, she didn’t sleep well that night, so I was on my own. I didn’t waste the chance, though–I went back inside, did morning prayers and chanted for a while, then went out about 5:45 and walked. Last lap involved me dropping off my hand weights and going straight up the street to McDonald’s for a free decaf on the last day. (I’d walked there on Sunday too, but didn’t walk 2 or 3 miles beforehand.) Last Friday it rained when a cold front came through, so I did the same thing I did Monday, and the rain was over by 5:45 am.

Second: the New Orleans Saints won yesterday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I’m only a real football fan when the Saints are in the playoffs on the way to the Superbowl. I was, indeed, in shock when they went the last time, so I just wait for it to happen again. They’ll play the Houston Texans this week, I think, so we’ll see what happens.

Irony: a lot of folks who came to Houston after Katrina stayed after Katrina. I see a split loyalty at that game, and probably a lot of torn emotions. But I’m not a football aficionado, so I’m not so worried.

In other news. . . .

You remember years ago there used to be the SAVE Club, where every month you’d get a box filled with new and different products for you to try? (I got them for a while in the early 80’s for a while, right after I got married–the first time.) They were about $10, if I remember correctly, and they sent coupons and new and interesting products like Simple Green cleaner and. . .ramen noodles. Yes, I’m not kidding. At the time, ramen noodles were a new gourmet item, and were at least $1 a packet. Hard to believe that they’re now about a quarter, (in health food stores they might be more but healthier ingredients) but times change. I can’t find any info about it on the web, but I’m sure it was called the SAVE club.

Then in in 2000, there came StartSampling.com, and getting curious, I discovered that I still have an account and can still earn points and stuff. I haven’t thought about that site in years, until just now. I donated a bunch of my points after 9/11. In fact, the account still had the GER’s house as the address; I’ve since updated that. Oh, dear. . . .

Now, in 2014, there are so many subscription boxes to choose from. Makeup. Jewelry. Dogs. Cats. Clothes. Handymen/Handywomen (tools and such.) “Favorites” picked by minor celebrities. (I got Cosmetique a few times, too.) Even a monthly box for. . .cyclic needs, if you know what I mean. I kid you not. Check out FindSubscriptionBoxes.com if you’re interested in seeing more of these. You can also find lots of info and pictures on these subscriptions on Pinterest.

I haven’t thought about this kind of thing in years, and had no idea it had expanded so much.

I know what you’re thinking: “Why are you bringing this up, Amy, and what does this have to do with all things foodie?” Well. . . .

You like to have delicious nibbles? Looking for something new? Then Graze.com is the place for you.

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No, I did not get paid for this. I’m just passing along info. But it’s great!! Neighbor K said she was considering giving them a try, since she got a flier at work for them. I told her to go for it.

My flier came from a magazine a week or two ago, and said that the first box was free. Woo hoo! You can cancel at anytime, and even speed up or slow down the delivery of the boxes, all online.

How could I resist? I sent for one. It arrived on Saturday. Oh, boy! (Oh, and they fit right in the mailbox.)

What's inside?

What’s inside?

Carefully I turned it over and popped open the package:

What you get when your package arrives.

My Graze treats are here!

Inside, you find:

Surprise!

Surprise! (Well, it’s always a surprise, that’s the fun of it)

Take a closer look:

Take a closer look.

Four delicious choices!

Graze.com wants to revitalize snacking with healthier choices like the ones you see here.  No GMO, no HFCS, no artificial flavors or colors, and no trans-fat, either. They were about a cup of each, I think, selected according to what I told them I prefer–gluten free, of course, and one or two other criteria. However, there are 90 different type of snacks, and you can “like,” “love,” or “trash” them. You tell them what you like and they send you healthier, portion-controlled snacks from what you would like and what you tell them. You can get a box weekly, bi-weekly, or more often, just go online and tell them, it’s simple.

You can read more about the people and the company here.

Graze says it’s not a good choice for folks with allergies, because they can’t guarantee everything to be allergy-free. Be forewarned if you’re allergic.

The packaging is all made from recycled materials, including the literature that comes with it. Don’t just toss it, recycle it all! However, for those of us who like to garden, take a look at what else you can do:

Portable planting! (With the empty plastic containers in it.)

Portable planting! (With the clean, empty plastic containers in it.) Start your seeds here.

All of these little snacks were great–because I nibbled them all day on Saturday. Yeah, yeah, I know–but I also cleaned up the HeatCageKitchen garden, and dug up some roots of the “houseplant gone wild” that me and Neighbor K battle occasionally, plus did housework and laundry. The maintenance guy cut most of that mess down and took it away, but I dug up as much of the root system as I could and took out another weed that was masquerading as a plant in the monkey grass. So, I was workin’ it, and nibbled off and on. See what I did?

And now, it's neat again.

And now, it’s neat again.

I lost the strawberry plant that was giving me those weird little frankenberries, and I will need to dig through those white buckets on the left to see if any garlic actually grew. Basil’s gone, but as you can see, there is a large Meyer lemon on the tree on the right starting to turn yellow, and I’ve got not only a new little bell pepper at the top of the pepper plant, but another little Hatch/Anaheim chile pepper on that plant. I trimmed the mint down, but with watering, it will be overgrowing again soon. (Closeups in an upcoming post.)

Yes, the snacks were very good. The Super Berry Detox was nice and sweet, and so was the Toffee Apple, although it had sugar in the small amount of toffee sauce. Never had that before, much as I like apples. I won’t be buying goji berries anytime soon, but if they send it again, no problem. The nuts, well, they were nuts, and I like just about everything but chestnuts, so no complaint there, either. The salt and vinegar taste is a little strong next to the unsalted ones, but I got used to that, too.

Once you try them, go back to the website and tell them that you “like,” “love” or “trash” them. They’ll send them occasionally, regularly, or not at all based on that little rating system and how often you elect to get a “nibblebox.”

Oh, yes, well. . .I went to cancel it, and the second shipment is already on its way. I’ll cancel it after that’s done. I’ve “snoozed” them so they don’t come for a while. Or, I could just keep snoozing it and get one occasionally if I want one. I’ll think about that for a while.

You’re probably wondering how my my little “nibblebox” cost, aren’t you? Well, the first one is free, and subsequent boxes are $6.99. That makes each snack about $1.75 each. If you work in an office, how much do you spend getting something from a vending machine? Is anything in that vending machine as healthy? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. (With all due respect to folks who run and service said vending machines, some of us prefer healthier fare, we’re not judging you.) You can have the box sent to your office, or to your home, and the little sealed plastic packets fit nicely in a purse, lunch bag, briefcase or desk drawer. You can also gift a box to other people at any time from your online account–they get a box in the mail, there’s a gift card with it, it doesn’t cost extra, and they’ll be happy when they see that you sent it.

How cool is that? Don’t know what to get for a birthday or a special occasion? With a week’s lead time, you can send a tasty “nibblebox” and the recipient will know you care.

Oh, and the holidays, including Christmas, are coming, so keep Graze in mind, OK? They are soon planning something called the “Big Box,” consisting of 5 larger, resealable bags of different snacks; those are $25 a box. But you have to join the waiting list for that–but when they’re ready, that’s also a good thing for a holiday gift.

Now, if you’re interested in trying out Graze’s neat “nibbleboxes,” here’s what you do–go to the website and where it says in small print under the “Get Started Now” button, “have a special code? enter it here,” you put this code into the popup field: AMYO2RN7B. Why would you do that? That’s the code on my packing slip to give to friends to get your first and fifth box for free. No kidding–fifth box is free if you decide to keep going with it. Within a week, you could start nibbling!

Now I don’t expect that hundreds of people will try to use the code, but I figure a few might consider it, so I’m putting it here for anyone who might like to try a “nibblebox.” Not sure how many times it will work, either. I think I get points or something, but mostly I figure a few of my readers just might be interested, so why not?

Again, no commitment, and cancel anytime. But you just might like it, too. What would be wrong with that?

Well, it’s getting late, and the 4 am wake-up alarm happens before you know it.

I’ll try to write again real soon, so I can tell you about the delicious baked pear, and a few other things. Oh, and more gluten-free stuff, too.

Happy Snacking!

 

 

 

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Mmmmm, mmmm, GOOD!!

Mmmmm, mmmm, GOOD!!

Good evening, Dear Readers:

You know, sometimes we get ideas that seem like they’ll work, until we try them. Sometimes those ideas stay in our heads for years before we finally get around to trying them.

Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. But you never know until you try, right?

Take my favorite coffee flavor, Chocolate Raspberry. I had the idea to make cappuccino and flavor it with chocolate and raspberry. It was gonna be great!

Well, I tried it this morning. . .it was OK. Nothing special. The espresso overpowers the flavors, at least, these two. It works out well with the hazelnut flavoring, though. Maybe I’ll give it some more thought.

Anyway. . . .

Well, I had to do it. Tonight I made some of that delicious Fall Broccoli Salad I told you about, via The Texas Pioneer Woman.

Since I live in a Houston suburb and not on a working farm (yet), I went to Target to get the ingredients. That’s OK, they had everything I didn’t.

Holy Shish Kebab.

Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes!

Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes!

Now, I hope Janette (aka The Texas Pioneer Woman) doesn’t mind, but I made it just slightly different. Partly because I forgot to put a little onion in it. But I’m getting tired, so I forgot. I was going to “do it later,” but you know how that goes.

The other thing I changed was the dressing. I did use the vegan egg-free mayo I wrote about last week, primarily because it tastes like the real thing. (I taste-tested it first with the end of a spoon, of course.) I just didn’t feel like making my own mayo, so I used the Just Mayo. Of course, it’s an 8 ounce bottle, and the dressing takes half a cup. I won’t use the rest of it quite so fast.

I also used Bragg’s apple cider vinegar instead of the white vinegar, (not quite as sharp) and instead of white sugar, you know I used. . .Somersweet.

Now I did have to cook up some bacon, so I did the easy way–in the toaster oven. On a cooling rack in a baking sheet, 400 degrees, and watch it, because it can burn pretty quickly and then you have to start over. I had to cook the bacon in two batches, though.

A side note: if you’re thinking about getting a countertop (aka toaster) oven, let me put this bug in your ear: 110v vs 220v. If you’re going to do what I do with it, make sure you get one that’s big enough to roast a chicken in and has a nice sized broiler pan. Don’t get one that doesn’t do more than toast bread and Pop-Tarts.

Anyway.

After I chopped all the broccoli and washed it, I left the colander in the sink to drain a bit more. I mixed up the sliced almonds and raisins in the big mixing bowl, then mixed the dressing. Once the bacon started crisping, I took it out, let it cool, then crumbled it all up in to the almonds and raisins. When the bacon was all done and crumbled in, I dumped that into the dressing bowl and mixed it up with a spatula. Then I shook out the broccoli one more time to get out as much water as I could, added it to the big bowl, then dumped the dressing mixture into the broccoli,, and started mixing some more.

I’ll try it once with the onion, maybe some green onions from the back patio, but I’m tellin’ ya, this was WAY TOO GOOD!!

I texted Neighbor K to see if she’d like some for lunch tomorrow, but she didn’t answer, so I’m guessing she’s already hit the sack. I packed it up in containers and stuck it in the fridge. When she reads this she will secretly be mad that she missed out on a healthy salad with bacon in it. But this weekend, Neighbor K will have the recipe to make it for that big, tall boyfriend of hers, and maybe even give a little to Daft Pug.

This weekend would be a good one to make this salad for family and friends, or if you’re like me, just yourself. But go try it, because it’s pretty easy and the flavor is well worth the bacon cooking.

I wonder if the Gomez Family Farm hosts vacationers and wanna-be cowboys. If I ever have the chance, I’m going to go on a vacation somewhere that I can do that. But don’t look for me to attend rodeos, OK? I’d rather go see Def Leppard or find myself at a jazz concert.

Make some of this salad this weekend for you and yours. It’s delish, whatever you sweeten it with.

Happy Dining!

 

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Fall Broccoli Salad

Good morning, Dear Readers:

With the early fall weather we’re having, I thought you might enjoy a post from The Texas Pioneer Woman, who published this delicious recipe just this morning.

Now if you’ve ever been to Sweet Tomatoes, they serve a broccoli mix called “Joan’s Broccoli Madness.” Oh, it’s SO GOOD!! But I never think of how to go about making it in my own kitchen.

Thanks, Janette!

You can read more about Janette Gomez, The Texas Pioneer Woman, here. I don’t know exactly where in Texas she lives, but I’m so glad we can claim her as our own.

Happy Wednesday!!

 

Coffee and Mayo: The Post For The E-Man

Coffee and Mayo: The Post For The E-Man

Good Morning, Dear Readers:

It’s been an interesting week, and I’m inspired to write first thing in the morning. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve upgraded the memory on my small laptop, fixed an air conditioner problem, almost fixed the washing machine (that’s OK, the nice repair guy finished what I started), all with the help of YouTube.

You can fix nearly any problem in your life with a YouTube video.

I also got enough stars on my Starbucks card to have a gold card (long story, but it’s mine) and re-connected with an SGI-USA member who I used to know in New Orleans, but now happily lives in central California with her new partner. Facebook is also a great thing, long as you don’t put TOO much there.

I’ve got a few more things to do, and I hope to shampoo the carpets this weekend, but life is buzzing along in different areas.

We’ve had a good dousing rain this week, and the plants couldn’t be happier. (Is the drought over yet?) Heck,  the weeds love it too, because I haven’t gotten out there to get rid of them. When the rain stops, I plan to get some weeding done, and maybe yank out the “houseplant-gone-wild” stuff out front. It’s about to grow into our living rooms. Neighbor K and I dug up most of that stuff a couple of years ago, and it was mostly gone, except for where we stopped. It’s growing now, under the stairs, where we quit digging. We’re expecting the second cool front next week, and if I can get around to it, I’ll do some fall gardening and weeding. The garden is about the same as last week, just waiting for stuff to grow more.

I think it’s raining all over the world. . . .

Last night I went out foraging (shopping) and my beloved grocery store HEB has foot-high potted basil plants for $4 each. I didn’t buy one last night, but am considering it. I need to re-stock the pine nuts, but if I get one or two. . .would that give me one more pesto batch? The little basil stubs I have may not grow big enough to give me more, so, I’m thinking about it. You know I love my pesto.

Before I went out, I went through the coupon stash I’ve been collecting, and it’s amazing that so many had expired. Need to keep up with that, but I managed to find a few I could use. I sat down to watch the very handsome and manly Mike Rowe do some Dirty Jobs while I cut them. One of those jobs was going to an animal sanctuary and handling a 5-month old “Ti-Liger,” a hybrid big cat with a milder temperament that would eventually become about 1,000 pounds. It was just a big kitten, no kidding, and probably weighed at least 65 pounds during this filming. The job was to walk this animal and wash its beautiful fur. No kidding. Mr. Rowe was a bit nervous with a carnivore with huge paws sporting very sharp retractable claws. Much as I love the felines, I do not want to deal with that cat’s litter box. I bought two of those plastic bottles of cat litter so I wouldn’t run out for a while. The 15-pound cat in here is enough for me.

I also am trying out Sheba cat food for Jezebel–it’s a couple of cents cheaper per can, and I found several coupons for it. However, despite the beautiful kitty in the advertising that looks a lot like my deceased Catmandu, Sheba also uses responsibly sourced fish, and does not contain corn, wheat/grains or soy. I mistakenly bought a can of chicken and tuna last night, but she gobbled it up this morning. I think we’re changing cat foods around here. Wish I’d tried this with Catmandu and Kismet, but we just move forward, not backwards.

I also clipped a coupon for Silk’s refrigerated coconut milk, which I bought one of to try. It’s fine. . .no soy, no lactose, all that. I like the shelf-stable stuff the best.

A trip through Target, and then onto HEB, netted me a couple of things that my longtime friend The E-Man can get behind. I’ve known him since October 1988; he can tell you the date and time I met him; he’s one of the first SGI-USA members I met when I relocated to New Orleans from California. When I got married in 1996, we put him in a tuxedo to make him behave; it sort of worked. But until about 12 years ago, I didn’t know The E-Man was allergic to eggs. It’s OK if the eggs are IN something, like a muffin, but eating them as I do, hard-boiled, scrambled, etc., no.

That means mayonnaise is out, too–especially the fresh stuff I whip up in a blender.

Last year, I told you about lab-grown beef and eggless mayonnaise, which The E-Man might like. Last night, I found some in Target. Called Just Mayo, an 8 ounce bottle costs $1.99 in SuperTarget. (I also got some Blue Plate Mayonnaise for $2.24 at HEB.) Since there aren’t any SuperTargets in his neck of the woods, a quick search shows that Dollar Tree and Whole Foods in his area carries it.

Dollar Tree? Ok, whatever. DT also carries it here, but I don’t know where they are. Target is fine with me.

The company, Hampton Creek, also makes cookies, but I didn’t see them in Target. There is also a larger jar of Just Mayo, but I didn’t look at the price on it.

Now, if you know someone who is allergic to eggs, take note, they may be able to enjoy mayo. Take a look, and compare it to Blue Plate Mayonnaise I got at HEB last night:

Mayo: one regular, one vegan.

Mayo: one regular, one vegan.

Why Blue Plate? I grew up with it, so to me, that’s what mayonnaise means. No, I do NOT like Miracle Whip. I don’t mess with Blue Plate too often, though.

So what’s the difference? Well, this is what’s in your standard commercial mayonnaise:

Yes, I know. . .but I don't use it very often.

Yes, I know. . .but I don’t use it very often. But hey–it’s gluten free!!

Now check out the ingredients in the vegan mayo:

No eggs. Have at it, E-Man!

No eggs. Have at it, E-Man!

Unusual ingredients, non-GMO is always good; pea protein is something I see occasionally in other foods, like Larabar’s Alt Bars. It’s how they keep from using soy in it.

Now, I haven’t tried this new stuff yet, but I will soon. I actually like mayonnaise, and if I get ambitious and make some gluten-free bread to go with meatloaf anytime soon, that will be the first way I try it. (I prefer home-made mayo with olive oil, though.)

If you have someone who can’t have standard mayonnaise, this might be an alternative for you. You can read more at Hampton Creek’s website and decide for yourself. Much as I’m not a veeeeeegan, alternatives are usually a good thing.

When Hurricane Ike hit in 2008, I ended up at his place. Irony–going TO New Orleans to evacuate for a hurricane. I was there nine days. The E-Man keeps his cool at all times. I can’t say I do that a lot. But I gave his wife as much of a break from cooking as I could. I did create a chicken salad for them that had no mayo, and was, I think, pretty darn good. I based it on a Giada de Laurentiis recipe, using a rotisserie chicken, and a vinaigrette kind of dressing, tossed in some sliced grapes, and it turned out well. I haven’t made it since, but I do have a printout in my notebook of recipes I’ve printed from the web.

The E-man also likes his coffee, as does his wife. I’ve brought them Central Market’s coffee a number of times, and I also got him a Central Market logo coffee cup many years ago, when they had them. (I think I still have one myself.)

FREE COFFEE ALERT: McDonald’s is promoting their McCafe’ coffee by offering a free small coffee every day during breakfast hours from now until September 29th. I haven’t gotten over there yet, but be forewarned that McDonald’s has sugar and Equal (blue stuff.) They don’t have Sweet ‘N Low, so if you don’t want Equal, bring your own. McDonald’s coffee is actually pretty good, I just don’t go in there very often. If you’re over 60 or 65, I think it’s half price, but again, during the morning, small coffees are FREE! Check it out if you’re interested.

Another thing I got from HEB last night was some coffee I haven’t bought in a long time–HEB’s store brand breakfast blend:

Whole bean, decaf.

Hello, old friend!

When I first moved to Houston, I used to buy this for me and my ex-husband, although it used to be regular. I forgot how good it is, and had some just this morning. Why haven’t I bought this for so long? I think it was about $7, much less than the Starbucks coffee I thought about getting in Target. I’m not knocking Starbucks, of course, but I sure did miss this one. I think I’ll be having this more often, too.

Is there a penalty for drinking it from a Starbucks coffee cup? Well, it sure was good.

Don’t knock grocery store coffee. You might be surprised at what you find.

If you really, REALLY enjoy coffee, you might want to check out Nick Usborne’s website, Coffee Detective. Nick loves coffee, and discusses different types of coffee, coffee makers, and all things coffee. You can read about my favorite method, the French Press, at this link; he also has videos on the subject.

Would Nick like this coffee? Heck, I dunno. What you like might not be what I like, and what you and I like might not be what Nick likes–but isn’t that what makes life interesting?

Think I need another cup, y’all.

Fall fruits are starting to come out, and I got a couple of small Bartlett pears; they’re ripening on my altar. But in about a month, you KNOW what’s coming.

Pomegranates!!! I LIVE for pomegranate season. I don’t care about the mess they make, or the little red arils that I find on the floor sometimes when I vacuum. I LOOOOVE pomegranates.

Off I go, on with my day. Make it a good one, everyone!

 

 

 

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HeatCageKitchen Sunday

Hello, Dear Readers:

Sorry it’s been so long; I get a topic in mind and have something else I gotta do.

Would you be interested in HeatCageKitchen videos? I’ve set up a YouTube channel for it, and have a video up now of Jezebel eating hot wings. More on that later. You can see the video here. I just added it to have something there; it’s 7 seconds long. Keep reading for more on how I came to share hot wings with the cat.

Let me know what you think about seeing HeatCageKitchen videos:

 

While I’m off doing the copywriting side of my life (nothing great to report yet), I’m also giving consideration to important issues of the day for foodies.

Why are hot dogs sold in packets of 8, but hot dog buns are sold in bags of 10?

A quick update on the garden: I’ve made pesto! Three of the cut stems are re-growing basil leaves, so there is the possibility of one more pesto batch before it goes south, but we’ll see.

Nearly three feet high!

Nearly three feet high!

Washing them before drying in the salad spinner

Washing them before drying in the salad spinner

Ahhh. . . .pesto.

Ahhh. . . .pesto.

I think I'm set for a while.

I think I’m set for a while.

And you’ll notice that I finally realized that small, square containers are a better idea in a small freezer. If there’s more basil, I’ll buy one more to make that last batch.

The four Meyer lemons are huge, and two are still turning yellow VERY slowly. After I picked the bell pepper, I found another one growing. I’m still waiting to see more of the Hatch/Anaheim chile peppers, but nothing yet.

Meyer lemon, slowly ripening. I can't wait!!

Meyer lemon, slowly ripening. I can’t wait!!

My new little green bell pepper. Isn't it cute? It's growing up so fast.

My new little green bell pepper. Isn’t it cute? It’s growing up so fast.

I used the one Hatch/Anaheim chile pepper along with the bell pepper in Eggs from Hell, out of The Yachting Cookbook I mentioned in the last post, since I used up all the cans of chiles I had. Shouldn’t have used two cans the first time; but I’ll get more one day. I like them canned chiles, they’re convenient.

Last weekend I headed to my local HEB for a supply run, and while walking in, was treated to the delicious smell of something being cooked by the door. As I made my way through the produce area and beyond, I was greeted in the Deli by a nice lady named Phyllis who asked me if I’d like to try one of their Tabasco Hot Wings–with a $2 coupon. I asked, as usual, “what’s in them?” She said that they were not battered, just marinated in Tabasco and quickly fried. I read the ingredient list and didn’t see anything “offensive” in the small type. I couldn’t resist one, and fell in love with them. I got the rest of my stuff and went back to the Deli, where Phyllis was handing out samples and wine as well I passed on the wine but was able to talk her into a second sample. I did tell her that I would eat them while driving, but since I drive a stick, that’s not practical. But when I got them home, I put them on a small baking sheet and turned on the toaster oven at 200F to keep them hot, then dealt with the rest of the shopping.

It’s a regular Sunday item through football season, but if you’re like me, you’ll think, who cares? I’m not dissing football, but I’m not someone who watches it all the time. I’d rather sew. . .and I’ll be working on quilts one of these days, too, hopefully using up most of the fabric pieces I’ve been hanging onto all these years. The little projects like the coffee cup cozies are just not using them up fast enough. (I think I finished someone’s Christmas present Saturday night, but don’t quote me on it.) So on a Sunday, if the Saints are in the Superbowl again, I’ll watch it, but otherwise, I’m not all that up for it.

Unless he’s handsome and a good kisser, of course.

After everything was put away, I turned my attention to the hot wings. Hot from the oven, but not burning hot from the Tabasco, I dove in. And then there was a little furry presence at my feet. . .oh, she’s so cute, so I shared some of my Tabasco Hot Wings.

That was a mistake. She went bonkers for it, and demanded more!

In the end she and I both happily had a belly full of chicken and enjoyed the heck out of it. Now she thinks anything I do on the counter, from making coffee to washing dishes, means there’s food she should be having.

I’ve had a rough weekend, and today I decided to go back to HEB for more of them hot wings. And there they were, at the front door, cooking them up, complete with a $2 coupon. Hot dawg! I picked up the one with the most in it and went inside to get the rest of my stuff.

I saw Phyllis, she was handing out ice cream samples today; the people offering hot wings weren’t as friendly as she was. I passed on the artificially flavored banana nut for the vanilla. It was just a small scoop, but she did offer to top it off with WINE. Peach Moscato, to be exact. No kidding, that was one of the demos today. If I wasn’t driving, I would have. Twice.

HEB was busy today, what with all those folks buying hot wings, so I ducked into the “15-items-or-less” line. Well, I had less than 15 items, so I indulged myself. During the transaction, I happened to look at the label again, and in the teeny-tiny print, right before my cashier Kylee ripped off the coupon, I saw the words I did NOT want to see.

Wheat flour.

AAAHHHHH!!!!!  Oh, @#$%!

I was at the point where not buying them would make me a big pain in the butt, so paid for everything and took them home for the last time. Yes, they tasted REALLY good, and Jezebel again was getting up in my grill to get some, hence the video.

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