Archive for Cooking

The Flavor of Ham.

Posted in Cooking, History, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2017 by urbannight

HamI once saw a program on how Ham is made. The flavor of ham is added to the cut of meat. Without it, ham just tastes like a pork pot roast.

This makes me wonder if people used to have recipes for whatever they would treat ham with before cooking it. You know, back in the days before it was commercially produced on a large-scale.

Did farm wives make their own, did people in town buy it with flavor added or did they make their own? Was it basted on or marinated? Now days it is injected.  Did they actually do that back in the day?

Now comes the ultimate question. Who decided which flavor to use when large-scale production started? Who decided what the ham flavor, that we now all know now, should taste like?

Edited.

Someone did contact me to say that historically it would be soaked in a brine and smoked.  Which is how my dad makes jerky.  My dad’s jerky is thick cut so it is meaty once dried and not like a piece of leather.  My dad makes the best jerky.

Prunes, nature’s candy. Seriously.

Posted in Food, Health, Life, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2016 by urbannight

I would love to share a photo of delicious prunes but I’m on a borrowed computer and borrowed internet tonight and can’t really download and upload one.

Dried prunes are delicious.  They are super sweet.  They taste like candy.  I don’t buy them to much because I over eat them and they are bad for me.  Dried fruit generally is bad for you.  It has an entire fruit worth of sugar in a single bite.  So this is really bad if you are a diabetic.

I fail to understand why people claim to hate prunes.  Why do prunes have such a bad rap?  I’m guessing a lot of people assume they are bad because they have been told it.  (Like me and Brussels sprouts.  I thought they were bad because everyone said so.  Turns out I actually like them.)

I know that a long time ago that all food was cooked, including fruit.  (We are talking middle ages.)  But eating raw fruit and drying fruit has been a thing for as long as the United States has been a country.  Not sure when the people decided that maybe fruit didn’t need to be cooked to death.  But I do recall references to stewed prunes in novels.  Some were old novels, from the 1800’s.  Some were more recent, from the 1900’s.  I don’t think I’ve read or heard that reference in this century.  Maybe the people saying now bad they are only ate stewed prunes.  Stewed fruit just doesn’t sound very good to me in general.

Still, dried prunes are delicious.  Seriously delicious.  I think I will have to go out and buy a small box of them.

Rice and Lentils, a simple if slow cooking dish.

Posted in Caooking, Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2015 by urbannight

I have this super simple dish I make sometimes.  It always  tastes great but it takes a long time to make.

I start with a few cups of water and set it to boil with a bullion cube in it.  Any type, sometimes chicken, sometimes beef, sometimes veggie.

Once the lentils are nearly done I add rice and whatever seasoning trips my trigger at that moment in time.

You have to watch to check the water, add more as needed.   I’ve found it always takes more than the amount of lentils and rice recommend.  I’m not sure why.

Now I just as water as needed until both the rice and lentils are soft.

I’ve never had it turn out bad.

That being said, I’ve had trouble using some of the so-called instant rice.  Regular instant rice cooks up fine.  But there is an ‘instant’ boil in bag Jasmine rice that doesn’t seem to work.  I, of course, cut the bag and pour it in.  The problem is that the box says this ‘instant’ jasmine rice cooks up in 8 to 10 minutes.  This is not true.  I’ve never had it cook in under about half an hour.  Even when cooking it on its own according to the cooking instructions on the box.  If you want to use Jasmine rice, it will turn out better if you just buy a normal bag of the stuff and cook it per those instructions.

The Strange World of Garlic Usage

Posted in Cooking, Food, Health, History, Life, Science, Tea with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2013 by urbannight

Once upon a time, when I was feeling poorly, a friend told me to rub garlic on the bottoms of my feet. My big question was how this was supposed to help my cold. It made no sense. Since then, I’ve looks up uses for garlic. There are some really strange ones out there.

To start with, garlic seems to have some antibiotic properties. This means it can kill some bacteria and fungus. It is supposedly good against viruses but I’m not sure about that. Viruses usually just need to run their course. It may help prevent mold. Throughout history, it has been used for many medical purposes so I would have to guess some of them were helpful enough for people to keep using it.

Garlic is supposed to help reduce acne. But that is strange to me. Acne is not a bacterial issue. It a build up of oil, dirt, dead skin flakes, lotions, and make-up. It’s a build-up of anything that can block the pores. It’s been proven that eating chips and pizza will not cause acne. It is partly a skin care issue and partly an issue of some people being more prone to it than others. Some health conditions may make it worse. But I always thought that was because the condition was influencing the health of the skin by causing some kind of imbalance. Your skin is actually an organ. So I would think running garlic over the skin would just add garlic oil to the mix of stuff clogging up the pores.

While we are on skin, a cut garlic rubbed into cold sores is supposed to help them heal faster. Now this makes a little more sense than using it to treat acne. The antibiotic nature of the garlic has something other that dirt and oil to kill and lead to healing.

Another skin condition it is supposed to help is Athlete’s foot. Garlic is an antifungal. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection. You crush or smash some garlic and put it in a footbath of warm water. That gets the oils out of the garlic and spreads the oils over the feet as you soak in hot water. This sounds logical, more logical than running garlic over your feet for a cough.

Making a paste of minced garlic, olive oil, facial cleanser, and sugar, massage into the skin, and rinse, is supposed to tighten and exfoliate the skin while drying out acne. I suppose it might dry and tighten depending on the facial cleanser being used. The paste with sugar as a defoliant probably does work.

It’s supposed to help clear up psoriasis. Now they have identified an acid contained in garlic that is working on a certain omega fatty acid in the skin so this may have some truth to it.

This is a strange one, as putting garlic oil on a mole, several times a day, and coving with a bandage, is supposed to remove a mole. Sounds like duct tape, which has some chemical or compound in the adhesive that is supposed to do the same thing.

Now for some non-skin related uses.

It supposedly can be minced and put in mineral oil for a full day, and then the infused oil is mixed with a bit of liquid soap and some water and put in a spray bottle. Spray on plants as a natural pesticide. Liquid soap isn’t natural. Can it still be called a natural pesticide? I guess bugs don’t like garlic. This reminds me that they used to say eating a lot of garlic would keep mosquitoes away. That has been disproven. Some say infusing it in the mineral oil and then mixing that with water and lemon juice and using it as a spray on may work. Much like the homemade pesticide.

You are supposed to be able to mend hairline cracks in glass by putting crushed garlic over it to fill the crack. Not sure that I would want to do that. Wouldn’t you still see a line? Even more so than the hairline crack?

Apparently fish like garlic. Some fishermen swear by it to bait their hooks.

It may work as a road de-icer. As the story goes, a spice maker had a batch of bad garlic salt and donated it to a town to put on the roads on winter. I’m not sure the garlic had as much to do with it as the salt.

Massaging the scalp with garlic or garlic oil is supposed to stimulate hair growth.

Here is one of the stranger ones again, cut a sliver of garlic and tie a string around it and put it in your ear to combat an ear infection. Not something I would want to do. The other version of this is to crush some garlic, place it in hot olive oil for 5 minutes. Then you strain and cool the oil. Use it as ear drops. You may be able to find ear drops made of garlic oil in home natural heath food store or someplace like Whole Foods.

Similarly, it can be peeled but not cut, put into a strip of cheesecloth, and inserted using a tampon applicator in order to treat a yeast infection. Like athletes foot, it is a fungal infection. Only in this case, it is caused by the body’s natural bacteria getting out of balance allowing for the growth of this. The ‘good’ bacteria normally eats this naturally occurring ‘fungus’. When something kills the good bacteria then you produce too much of this and get an infection.

One item I found on one site was using thin slices of garlic over a splinter and the splinter will work itself out. I’m not sure how that is supposed to happen. Is garlic a wood magnet?

Internally, some people find regular consumption of garlic eases gas. For other people it causes gas. Make minced garlic into a tea for sore throats and as a cough syrup. It is supposed to reduce the duration of a cold as well and regular consumption of it is supposed to help prevent colds. Researches believe that it is a component called allicin that does this.

Compounds in garlic are supposed to send signals to the brain that you are full. So a dish with a lot of garlic in it may make you feel fuller faster. Thus you eat less of it. And it is supposed to rev up the metabolism so you burn more calories. So it may have minor weight loss properties.

Speaking of ‘wood’, it’s been used as an aphrodisiac for just about forever. It is suspected that it is because garlic aids in blood circulation, so blood is pumped to the extremities more efficiently. So it ‘may’ increase a man’s endurance.

Using it with some a rather strange list of food ingredients may clear out intestinal parasites. Icky.

Ghost Chili

Posted in Cooking, Food, Hobby with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2013 by urbannight

Ghost Chili

Maybe it is because I’ve just been so dang cold. But I’m slightly obsessed with peppers today. It may be a bit too much, but here is a third, if short, post about yet another chili pepper.

This is the hottest pepper in the world. Another pepper was declared to be hotter until letter testing showed that sometimes Ghost Chilies were hotter. So now they are both the hottest chili known on the planet.

I LOVE the flavor of these insanely hot chilies. They are a little hotter than I can handle. But I love them so much that I torture myself in order to enjoy the deliciousness of them.

I have occasionally found things made with them that I can eat, just slowly, or in small amounts. I love salsa made from them on bread and even on a baked potato.

If you can tolerate peppers at all and enjoy a delicious hot pepper, and you have not yet tried these fiery little angels, you really must experience them for yourself.

Stuffed Anaheim Peppers

Posted in Cooking, Food, Health, Hobby with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2013 by urbannight

anaheim_pepperThe Anaheim pepper is a very mild, somewhat sweet, pepper. Named for a town in California, they were developed in New Mexico and the varieties grown there tend to be a bit hotter than the ones grown in California.

My favorite way to eat these it to slice them in half, long-wise, and clean out. Mix cream cheese, crab, and cayenne in a bowl. Fill the peppers.

As we all know, everything is better with bacon, so wrap a slice of bacon around the stuffed pepper. Grill or roast until the bacon is cooked but try to avoid burning the pepper.

I’ve never seen any directions on this so I play with it every time. In fact, sometimes I start them in the microwave to partly cook the bacon and then roast them in the oven to finish. A small amount of charing on the peppers is okay. It enhances the look of them without leaving them tasting burnt.

You may want to use pre-cooked bacon because they are never cooked enough. But sometimes they are cut too thin and then the bacon cooks too fast instead of too slow.

Cayenne Pepper

Posted in Cooking, Food, Health, Hobby, Tea with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2013 by urbannight

cayenne-pepper-diet

The queen of peppers. She is in the middle of the bar for heat. (A three on the 5 point chart I was looking at the other day.) They are a lovely, shiny, bright red but can look pinkish as well. You can eat them green or fully ripe. A lovely, barely there flavor, they work wonderfully to add heat to any dish without significantly altering the inherent flavor of the dish. High in Vitamin A and other vitamins, most people can’t eat enough to make it count. But it has often been used as a warming spice, to combat cold-temperature areas as well as something to help make you sweat and thereby, somehow, keep you cooler in hot climates. That second half never made sense to me.

It supposedly reduces pain, improves blood flow, and helps ulcers. Yep, a chili pepper that helps ulcers. It is supposed to be calming on the stomach and a tea of it is sometimes used for this purpose. It is quite good at getting the sinuses flowing. All chili peppers are anti-inflammatories. The hotter the pepper the more capsaicin. The more capsaicin, the better it is as an anti-inflammatory. Making it good for arthritis and other inflammations and inflammation based pain.

I’ve heard tell that the peppers help you lose weight because you eat less. But any help in weight loss may actually be attributed to thermogenics. The capsaicin produces a reaction where the body gets very hot. This reaction actually requires a lot of energy, like putting coals on a fire. So your body starts burning an increased amount of calories and uses more oxygen for around about 20 minutes. Perhaps I should have a much of cayenne tea in the morning and before or after every meal.

This is my all time, favorite herb.

The Chili Diaries

Posted in Entertainment, Food with tags , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2012 by urbannight

Earlier this week:

I was sitting on the couch, pretending to stitch, I was feeling pretty poorly and just didn’t have the energy.  My roommate comes out of the computer room and sits down in his recliner, looking at me expectantly.  I wasn’t sure what he was up to.  It was definitely an I’m-up-to-something look though.  You never know where those are going to go.

Do you make chili? – Him

Now I had made my spicy beef soup earlier.  At first I thought I mis-heard him.

No, oh, wait, do you mean can I make chili? – Me.

He nods his head.  At this point, I feel like I’m having a conversation with a kid.

Yeah, I make chili.  I haven’t done so in a while. – Me

What do you put in it? – Him

Wow, a whole sentence.

Beef, Kidney Beans, Tomato Sauce and Chili powder. – Me

He didn’t say anything.  He just sat there looking expectantly. Still.

Do you want me to make chili? – Me

Chili dogs – Him as he nods his head.

It feels even more like a conversation with a child.

Needless to say, this is why I am now making chili tonight.  He bought the ingredients so I can cook it so he can have chili dogs.

Inspiring Blog Award

Posted in Art, Books, Entertainment, Food, History, Hobby, Life, Movies and Theatre, Photography, Science, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2012 by urbannight

Wonder

Hey, I got nominated this!  WOW.  I never thought of myself as inspiring.  The thanks for this nomination go to storiesbywilliams who has an amazing wealth of knowledge about science and science fiction that just puts me in awe.  The amount of research it must take, with the amount of writing and blogging he does, I don’t know how he finds the time to do things like work, eat, sleep, and generally live.  He always reminds me of things I’ve forgotten and challenges me with things I didn’t know.

Now is the part where I talk about myself.  Ouch.

1. Canon.  To the annoyance of some of my friends, I sometimes get a little too caught  up in the idea of ‘canon’ and get annoyed an non-cannon stuff in films based on books, comics, or older films.  I’m not good at pretending it is an alternate universe. I have no problem with suspension of disbelief until the universe contradicts itself.  Then it all comes crashing down on me.

2. Tea.  I drink a lot of it.  I am, at this moment, sipping on Pumpkin Spice Warm up the Day Tea from The Republic of Tea.

3. Cosplay.  My unit at work wanted to go a group costume idea for the Halloween contest.  But I didn’t care for the idea.  It wasn’t elaborate enough.  Over the past years, I’ve set an expectation of fairly elaborate costumes.  The Fairy Goth Mother, A Kabuki Ghost, Marie Laveau – Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.  I didn’t want to go dressed up as a computer, a headset, a mouse, a new loss form.  So I am doing my own thing.  Either a representation of The Raven or a Death Maiden.

4. Cooking.  I love to cook.  Lately, I haven’t been doing too much of it.  The budget has been tight, so elaborate dishes have gone by the way side for a while.  I really want to post some more cooking blogs, but I’m just not here with it right now.  Maybe after I meet a few other goals I’ll get back into it properly.

5. Temper.  I have one.  It doesn’t come out to play much.  But one morning, a person I actually value ticked me the hell off and I sorta unleashed.  He didn’t like it and deleted and blocked me on Facebook.  I’m a little sad but I admitted I over reacted.  I could admit that but he is the one who decided to take his ball home and not play with me anymore, to use a childhood metaphor.  It will probably take another 10 years to reconnect again.

6. Cats. I have two.  They are almost as anti-social as I am.  But the one likes to lay across my boobs when I’m working on the computer.  This requires me to use both arms to hold him so I can’t get anything done.  He had gotten me killed many times in online games.  Maybe I ought not to have named him Puck?

7. Tarot Cards.  I have a Tarot Card addition.  I love to accumulate them.  There are so many lovely sets out there.  So I stay away from places that sell them when I have no money.  I think I have about 8 sets right  now.  I just love seeing all the different interpretations of the cards that people draw.

Here is the part where I nominate a bunch of other people who inspire me.

1. Fogs’ Movie Reviews. This reviewer is one of my favorite all time movie reviewers.  We have a blend of similar and dissimilar tastes in films.  He reaffirms some of my thoughts on movies while also, occasionally, getting me to give something a try that I had planned on skipping.  Even when we disagree on a film, I can appreciate where he is coming from on his assessment of it.  My movie reviews are nowhere near as detailed and in-depth as his and me makes me realize how I could do so much better an makes me want to improve my style of reviewing.

2. Gin & Lemonade. This lady writes some of my favorite posts about everyday life.  She reminds me that nothing is to big or to small.  It all deserved to be valued and appreciated.  But perhaps the small things need it most of all.  Because the big things are all made of small things and we tend to ignore or brush aside the small things most often.

3. Kloipy Speaks.  This gentleman fluctuates between movies and life, much like I do.  His focus is a bit narrower and he comes across titles that I haven’t seen and really should.  Although I think our taste in horror is a little more divergent than, say my taste in movies when compared to Fogs.

4.  Madame Guillotine‘s amazing quality of research reminded me how much I used to like researching things.  (right after college, I continued to research stuff just for the fun of it.)  The really weird thing is that I want to write fiction and I keep getting really great ideas for non-fiction projects anymore.  She also posts about things she buys or her husband has given her that I drool over; weird and wonderful gothy sorts of things that the average person just doesn’t get or understand.

5. Meanwhile, back at the farm. . . .  This blogger is probably on with whom I have the least in common.  Her photography is wonderful.  Her blogs remind me of home despite the fact she is from the Dakota plains and I am from the mountains of North Idaho.  Her blogs often make me think of my father, who grew up on a farm in South Dakota.  She makes me miss my old camera that broke when it got caught in a door and hate my new camera which was the closest in comparison to my old one but simply fails at taking as good of shots at that one did.  Still, thanks to her, I’ve started carrying it with me at all times, like I used to do.

6. Rantings of an Amateur Chef is my favorite food blogger.  Not only does he post the most amazing things, his food has even gotten me to try food items I normally hate.  Oddly enough, I still hate them, but I keep on trying them.  He is better than a lot of the cooking shows out there.  I’ll take his blog, any day, over the food network.  Well, over anything except Without Reservation.  But that isn’t a cooking show so much and an interesting food and travel program.

7. Sweet Mother has to be the funniest blogger I’ve come across.  She cracks me up.  I appreciate this a lot because I just do not think I can do funny.  And we all really need a good laugh at least once a day.  More is preferable.  And she is guaranteed to produce at least one good laugh, if not more, out of nearly every posting she does.

 

One of THOSE Days

Posted in Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2012 by urbannight

I cannot read your mind, so I shall eat it instead…..
(I think I can get a lot of mileage out of this one image)

Why do people think I read minds?  I can’t.  It would be nice thought.  It would save me a lot of time.  

Names, Date, Places, are deliberately avoided to protect the sane, insane, and differently sane.

First there was the lady who called to report a loss from a week ago.  A week isn’t bad.  Really, it isn’t.  Not compared to some.  But she is all worried and said she was on vacation at the time. 

She is giving me info from a police report.  No problem.  I ask her to give me a description of what happened. 

Her: What do you mean?

Me: How did the Accident happen? 

Her: How should I know, I wasn’t there!

Me: But you have a police report that you have been reading from.

Her:   Do you want me to fax it to you?

Me: I just need you to read me the accident description from the police report.

Her:  Why are you coming at me with all this attitude?  What do you want me to do?

Me: You have a police report and you tell me you don’t know what happened.  It’s on the police report, all I need you to do is read me that information. 

And she finally does, calms down, and we finish the loss reasonably quickly.  Only at the end, she tells me she took photos of the other vehicle.  All I can wonder is how that happened if she was on vacation?

Then I get an email and two in-house phone calls to make changes on three claims all at the same time.  I can only answer one line at a time, thank you.  Two of the three were no problem.  Aside from the fact that as I’m trying to get to it, the other two calls come in, plus two external calls, and then another internal call asking why it wasn’t done yet.  We  found out more info and were able to change suspense claims to proper policies and get them set up accurately.  Finally, I got it out of my hair and off my desktop.

The third was an issue.  They changed the Date of Loss and now if fell inside the policy period.  But they never sent me a request to put the loss claim on the correct policy, so it was committed to the main frame as a suspense.  That just means a dummy policy to allow us to set up something if it fell before or after a policy period or if we couldn’t find any policy at all. 

The examiner wanted to know why it wasn’t changed to go on the correct policy.  For the simple reason no on informed me of the change of date and there was an active policy for the new date.  If I am not told, I cannot go in to make the change.  I don’t read minds. 

I would like to read minds.  I really would.  Then I might know who was in or not, who was on their phones or not, and I could stop wasting time an energy on people who don’t like me.  But I can’t.  Maybe I could saute them up in a little bit of butter.  I do like to cook. Anyway….

I’ve had another person in the unit tell me that she apparently can’t do anything right today and a third person is having some odd calls too.  Like one on man who told her if he could find the driver he would strangle and kill him, he just wants his 50$ deposit to the rental place back. 

If you are going to risk a murder wrap, please have it be more meaningful than over 50$.

I still have not taken my blood pressure meds today.  I really need to.  I’m starting to feel it rise.

I don’t think I want to know what the rest of today is going to bring.