Category Archives: Gadgets

Gadget Post – Bread Slicing Guide

20160720_132818(1600x1200)We’ve been using the bread machine practically non stop lately, baking loaves for BLT sammiches – because fresh baked bread is just the best.  I’ve had my eye on this slicing aid for a while now and finally coughed up the $30 bucks they wanted for it.  It works well enough, and folds away for storage in its own included bag.  I hang it on a hook.  The back plate slides in to hold it together, just butt the loaf against it and start slicing.  It fits either end so you have a choice of 1/2″ or 3/8″ slices.20160720_121420(1600x1200)

Mmm… Breakfast For Lunch

20160716_124411(1600x1200)Mmm… sausage egg and cheese muffin.  I like my pepper jelly on these things.  Mrs J is a fan of grape jelly on hers.  Of course you will need some muffins…20160716_122126(1600x1200)I broke out my cast iron griddle for these.  A half recipe worked pretty well, this one called for 6 cups of flour but it downsized well enough.  Note the little orange infra-red thermometer in the upper left of the photo – it’s a great addition to your kitchen gadget arsenal.  Amazon has them, this particular one was on sale at the time for $10-$15, I forget the exact figure.  I was able to keep the griddle temps between 350 and 400.  The recipe says 10 minutes a side but 7 or 8 worked pretty well for these.  I popped them into a 350 oven while the sausage patties and the eggs cooked.DSC_1987(1600x1200)


image000001(1600x1200)This wire cage was a part of a live trap, intended to hold bait but keep trapped critters from eating the food.  Seems kind of mean, trap them and then not even let them have the bait for a consolation prize.DSC_3304(1600x1200)The live trap was bought when Katie was on the loose and we had hopes of catching her with it.  We caught Buddy…IMG_0891(1600x1200)…and Jack but Katie was on her guard and never set foot in it.  Anyway, the little cage adapted easily to the feeder mechanism.  I hope to keep the raccoons from destroying it trying to get more corn out of the bin.image000000(1600x1200)Finally some ripe tomatoes!  These are Cherokee Purples.  I’ve heard they were good eating and the big box store had some this spring along with the usual Beefsteaks etc.20160625_170149(1600x1200)More pork bbq with a different potato salad.  We were growing tired of the bacon dill potato salad so I went with a classic mustard dressing this time.  I left the skins on my potatoes because I’m a lazy man.20160621_120504(1600x1200)This is a version of the classic Miami Cuban sammich.  I made the pork with a mojo marinade but sliced it too thick for a sammich when I put it up so I broke the slices up when reheating  them.20160624_174220(1600x1200)I have managed to grill a few burgers this summer.20160619_171125(1600x1200)Contrary to appearances, this is not an all sammich alla time blog!20160622_173330(1600x1200)Mrs J didn’t eat all of her steak so I made veggie beef soup out of her leftovers and served it with grilled cheese sammiches, because that’s what one does.

Random Wildlife

PICT4057(1600x1200)I’ve replaced the spreading mechanism with a unit that purports to be raccoon resistant but I have my doubts.  I think I will have to surround the thing with a sturdy wire cage of some sort.  I see 10 squirrels, short of the all time record of 11.  It gets an honorable mention.  Bonus crow!PICT4033(1600x1200)The fox watches a ‘coon leave the area.  The fox isn’t a danger to the raccoon but I imagine the squirrels would rather he not be there.


DSC03392 (1600x1200)Cora is a very pretty 2 year old and mixes well with the other cats at the shelter.  She would make someone a nice kitteh. (hint, hint)20160517_170121(1600x1200)We’re quite fond of corned beef.  This one was done in a 300 oven with the carrots and potatoes in an inch or so of water in a small roasting pan covered with foil.  It took about 4 hours.20160516_123207(1600x1200)I am quite fond of these sammiches.  I remember my first one done in this style – it’s been over 40 years now.  A friend’s wife made some for lunch during a visit I made to see him, he lived a good ways upstate.  I can’t recall exactly the precise make up but I do remember her dousing the veggie topping with the vinaigrette.beagle puppeh(1600x1200)Here’s a beagle puppeh, the sole survivor of a litter that was born to a dog that belonged to an old dude that lived, and died, alone.  The neighbors organized a rescue of the animals that were left when they realized he was gone.  A note of grace in an otherwise sad story .20160515_160415(1600x1200)Winner winner chicken dinner!  We love us some wilted lettuce salads.  Cook some bacon, add vinegar to the drippings, some water and sweetener and bring to a simmer.  Pour the dressing, still hot, over chopped lettuce and crumble the bacon into it, toss to coat.  Mrs J always adds chopped green onions to ours.20160514_182511(1600x1200)More chicken!  I wish I could fry chicken and have it come out this well.  This is from the Kroger deli.  It’s very good.  We pretty often buy an eight piece when it looks like we’ll be too busy to cook.20160515_134002(1600x1200)Another day, another sammich.  The bread is from one of those par-baked, finish at home loaves.  Ten minutes at 400 usually does the trick, YMMV.20160515_121039(1600x1200)I was mowing the other day and was atop the pond dam when I noticed these two Canada geese.  I stopped and fumbled my phone out of my pocket to grab a photo.  Camera phones are decent for close ups and panoramas of vast landscapes but the zoom feature kinda sucks, at least on mine.  I do better taking the shot at the default setting and cropping the result a little.  The geese didn’t fly but they did swim to the other side when I got closer.

Gadget Post – Invisibility Ring

PICT0044It needs some fine tuning but the concept is sound.

Friday Recipe Exchange: A Little of This and a Little of That

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JeffreyW’s delicious blueberry bars

For tonight’s recipe exchange, I put together the recipes based on what’s been cooking in our kitchens this week.

Missing my fresh fruits, I make do with flash-frozen berries:

Love the full-on strawberry flavor in my Strawberry Bread (recipe here)

Blueberries, I could make stuff with blueberries everyday. Including JeffreyW’s Blueberry Bars (recipe and photos here) and his Lemon-Blueberry Bread (click here for photos and recipe)

My afternoon pick-me-up of late probably isn’t for everyone, but really works for me. Hit of energy and curbs my sweet cravings. I blend a pound of frozen strawberries, a pound of frozen blueberries and about a cup of frozen raspberries in my Vita-Mix, which creates a very smooth mixture (if you ignore the raspberry seeds) which unlike juicing, retains all the fiber. I add it and an equal amount of water to a big pitcher, mix well. I have a glass of this in the afternoon and a pitcher lasts a good two weeks in the refrigerator.  YMMV.

My pressure cooker has been getting a real work out lately.  A couple of meals to continue on the one-pot theme from last week:

In this Pressure Cooker Pot Roast (click here), I pushed the limits and began with a frozen roast, just to see what would happen. It turned out great and the booze made up for some of the flavors lost by not being able to brown the beef first.

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Seriously, don’t all JeffreyW’s meals look delicious? Above is his yummy pot roast and below is his Pork Mole

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Playing with his new Electric Pressure Cooker, JeffreyW tackles Pork Mole (click here) with much success.

I would have a Bixby update, but he’s been so crazy today, I haven’t had time to download the photos and video from our play date this week. Crazy-assed dog.

For tonight’s featured recipe, thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day, these are a fun, elegant treat. I’m actually making them for a birthday get-together.

Pretty and tasty, they were inspired by a novel I was reading. If you want to read the full Food in Fiction post, click here.

Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcakes

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Moist Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup chopped raspberries

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dry cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Grease and flour muffin tins. Cream together oil, butter and sugar. Mix in remaining moist ingredients, one at a time, until well mixed. Sift together dry ingredients. Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture and beat for 2 minutes at high-speed. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they bounce back when pressed lightly.

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 6 oz heavy cream

Double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a saucepan with about an 1 inch of water)

Place chocolate and cream in top of boiler, bring water in bottom half to a boil, reduce heat to med-high and let chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. When completely melted, remove from heat and stir until cream and chocolate are completely mixed. Let cool and dollop over cooled cupcakes

Raspberry Sauce:

  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


Puree raspberries until smooth, add raspberries and sugar to saucepan and heat to a low boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until thickened, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Let cool and spoon over frosted cupcakes.

Note:  For a layer cake, take 1/2 of the ganache, let it cool, mix with 1 cup crushed raspberries and spread between layers.  Keep the other 1/2 of the ganache warm and pour over cake to make a beautiful and smooth coating.  Serve with warm raspberry sauce.

That’s it for this week. Have a fun and safe weekend and say a little prayer for tornado damaged area of Florida, as they are expecting more rain and stormy weather. If you didn’t see it, here is my brother’s house, or what’s left of it. – TaMara


Gadget Post – Electric Pressure Cooker

DSC_1507 (1600x1060)We’ve had this thing for a while now, but haven’t done much with it.  TaMara has mentioned her pressure cooker a few times, and I’ve heard about them on various forums.  This one is Amazon’s best seller, not that their sales rankings provide a slam dunk guarantee of quality.  It will do much more than I expect to ever call on it for – cooking rice, for example.  I have a purpose built device for that I wouldn’t expect this thing to match.20160101_122033 (1600x1060)I cooked a small beef roast in it the first time I used it, and made that into Italian beef for sammiches.  It did a competent job, the saute cycle even did a good job of browning the meat.  Baked beans from dried navy beans seemed a good place to test the speed advantages of pressure cooking.  I looked at this recipe to get a look at what to expect.  Opening the cooker after a 40 minute run and slow cool down left me underwhelmed.  The method the recipe called for was continued cooking with the lid off until they looked good but I gave them 15 more minutes of pressure and another slow cool down.  Better.  Might not have ended so dry if I hadn’t left the vent open for several minutes before seeing the steam blowing off.  I won’t talk about the recipe much, I’ve had better beans, but they did all come out with the right texture, not too hard, not mushy.  So far, so good.  Stay tuned!

Seen on the Internets

This is, of course, an exaggeration but it does seem like you can set fires with the new LED flashlights.  Only a few years ago they were a specialty item and aimed at law enforcement and rescue professionals and that is still a market for the high end products.  On the other end of the scale are lights like this one:DSC_1388 (1600x1060)Three dollars for a pocket friendly light that outshines any of the ones I grew up with – shaking and rapping on tabletops to eke out the last feeble glow.  I have these scattered all about the house in drawers and cabinets so that I will always have one readily to hand.

I Love My Vacuum Sealer

DSC_1216 (1600x1060)Using a vacuum sealer is an excellent way to put away leftovers like the lasagna we had yesterday.  It’s pretty straightforward to cut it into serving sized portions on a tray and then freeze them overnight.DSC_1217 (1600x1060)The sealer makes quick work of packaging the frozen pasta with very little mess.  We use it for a lot of foodstuffs, soups and stews and things like chicken stock are first frozen in plastic containers and then, after removing them from the plastic, sealed.  Works great for things like the green and wax beans we bought at the farmer’s market.  These we blanch, drain, and freeze on a tray and then bag and seal.DSC_1218 (1600x1060)We buy the sealing bags on a roll in a couple of sizes and cut them to length.  This little artsy-crafty gadget makes the cutting a snap.  The length gauge is handy both for measuring and for keeping the roll square – the small blade under the orange button slices cleanly without snags.DSC_1220 (1600x1060)


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