Category Archives: Gadgets

Random Wildlife

20160917_1457181600x1200Saw this gal on the hummers’ favorite feeder the other day and nudged her off.  She came back to it yesterday.DSC_0926 [1024x768]I’ve seen them on there before.  I took a few pictures of this one a couple of years ago and didn’t think any more about it until someone mentioned that they have actually captured and eaten hummers.  That kind of freaked me out.20160917_1612111600x1200So I flipped her off of the feeder again.  Remarkable how much grip they get on plastic and glass.  I wish I had waited a little – there was a wasp just the other side that I didn’t notice until the mantis was on the ground.  You can just make out the tips of the wasp’s wings in this photo.  Click on the photo to for larger size.

Tidbits

dsc037361600x1200We don’t have much info on Cleo, AKA Grumpy Kitty.  She’s an older kitteh and hasn’t been at St Francis long.20160908_1629571600x1200Stir fry chicken and broccoli is a favorite around here.  This one has red bell peppers, red onions, and mushrooms in a brown sauce with noodles.20160906_103238-1600x1200I mentioned doing a brisket in the smoker and finishing it in the toaster oven set to slow cook.  Here it is after a night in the fridge to firm it for slicing.20160907_1449411600x1200I said the new counter top oven would fit a 10″ cast iron skillet, here it is with beans ready for baking.  I use the same skillet for cornbread.20160907_1625221600x1200This is a favorite here, a real comfort food platter.  The beans may have come from that batch of beans in the photo above but I made two batches in as many days and I’m not quite sure.  dsc037301600x1200This is the same puppy we last saw with her head in a bag full of chicken.  She is a chihuahua mix with what may be terrier of some sort.20160911_1714461600x1200The local Kroger has sales on boneless rib eyes pretty often, not sure why that cut is featured above others but they can count on me to grab extra every time.20160910_1649261600x1200We often buy frozen shrimp already butterflied and breaded but these I did myself.  Dust the prepared shrimp with seasoned flour, dredge in beaten eggs, and then coat with bread crumbs – on these I used panko and they came out great after frying in 350 oil for about 2 minutes.dsc037241600x1200This is Roma.  She’s 4 months old, very affectionate, and would be thrilled to go home with you.

Tidbits

20160904_122601(1600x1200)We had enough chicken and sauce left over from those sour cream enchiladas for another go.  The side dish is a black bean and corn salad with onions, peppers, and diced celery in a cumin vinaigrette.IMG_20160830_122526604(1600x1200)Here’s that chihuahua mix before she got after the chicken in that bag before her.  Cute as a button!20160901_164720(1600x1200)Roast/BBQ chicken quarter with rosemary garlic potato wedges and an ear of grilled corn.  The local Kroger has been offering seasoned leg quarters off and on for a while now and pricing them decently.  I generally buy some to cook right away and extra to freeze for later.DSC03743 (1600x1200)This is Spots, we’ve put up her picture here before – she’s about 2 years old and is a sweetheart.  Mrs J reminds me that St Francis has lowered their adoption fees during “Happy Cat Month” to $25 and that includes vaccinations, chipping, and spaying/neutering.  They also test for FeLV/FIV.20160905_080654(1600x1200)That new toaster oven has slo-cook settings that work pretty much like on a dedicated crock-pot style cooker.  I have it set on low, it is showing the default time setting of 6 hours.  I had a brisket in the smoker overnight and I’m finishing it here.  It’s wrapped in foil inside the pan.IMG_20160814_132009849(1600x1200)Moar Gabe!  Here he is, studiously ignoring Bea Kitteh.  We’ve since ripped out everything in the garden except for the figs.  Still waiting for them to ripen.IMG_20160827_125640142(1600x1200) Here’s Bea again, luxuriating in catnip that Mrs J was cleaning up in the front from under the little dogwood tree.20160901_121953(1600x1200)I’ll wind this up with this sammich.  It has deli sliced ham, roast chicken, and cheddar under all that salad.  That green salad in the back is one of Kroger’s frequent forays into artisinal salads, this one is predominately kale and was pretty bad.  Baby spinach maybe would work but the kale really needed cooking.

Tidbits

DSC03724 (1600x1200)This is Roma, she’s 4-5 months old and loves to be petted and enjoys playing games.  She looks pretty comfortable in one of Mrs J’s cat beds.

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It looks as if this hummer set off the camera we have overlooking the garage.  This particular camera is fairly new and it’s quite a bit cheaper than most of the others we have.  I like it pretty well, it seems to take decent pictures and I like the info in a strip on the bottom rather than overlaid on the photo itself. I’m not as happy with the way the camera mounts – it snaps into a plastic mount that stays with the tree and doesn’t feel all that secure.

PICT0666(1600x1200)Here’s our fox.  This camera is one of the older models with the picture info stamped right onto the photo.DSC_5524(1600x1200)It’s been a while since Bitsy had a spot in a post.  I never did see what she was looking at but it kept her attention for a couple of minutes.DSC03712 (1600x1200)Here’s Catsanova.  I’m assuming it’s a boy cat, given that name, but I’m not sure.  He’s very affectionate, per Mrs J.  She stressed the very in that description.  LOLIMG_20160830_122536289 (1600x1200)This Chihuahua “blend” loves her some chicken!  Mrs J didn’t catch  her name.DSC03737 (1600x1200)

This is the cat whisperer.  All the shelter cats love her, and she loves them right back.
20160901_112418(1600x1200)We decided the tomatoes were done and cleaned the garden out.  I no longer wonder where all the tomato leaves went.  These were all released back into the wild.  Note that there are no pictures of sammiches or other food in the post.  I didn’t want to squick you out.  You’re welcome!

Gadget Post – Toaster Oven

20160831_110143(1600x1200)We replaced our previous toaster oven with another, slightly larger.  It’s another Breville unit.  It is still rated at the same 1800 watts but adds a few nice touches like an interior light and a much louder beep that announces when the pre-heat period is over and it’s ready for cooking.  The one on the older model was practically inaudible.  The same beep announces the end of the cooking cycle. Oh!  Almost forgot, it has a convection fan to help speed cooking, and to ensure even temps within during cooking.20160831_115516(1600x1200)I set it at 350 for 30 minutes but it needed more, eventually it went to about 45 minutes with an extra few minutes under the broiler to get the browning I was happy with.20160831_124530(1600x1200)The filling was that lamb stew we made yesterday.  Mmm…  This was the first major use of the new oven.  We have done toast, and Mrs J toasted a few bagels.  I was happy to note that my 10 inch cast iron cornbread skillet will fit inside with the door closed.  Yay!

Mmm… Cream Horns

20160825_124016(1600x1200)Making these was a fun way to spend a sweltering late August day.20160825_112315(1600x1200)Cut a flat of puff pastry into strips like so.  These are roughly 3/4″ wide – each one will become one horn when wound around the specialty pastry molds.  We had 6 so we had to run relays, I ordered more.20160825_120258(1600x1200)Mrs J brushed them all with an egg wash and sprinkled on some sugar.  They will bake for about 12 minutes at 350, check them every 5 minutes, turning them once.20160825_123057(1600x1200)When they’ve cooled use a pastry bag to fill with cream.  We tried this recipe:

MARSHMALLOW FLUFF ICING
1 stick butter (no substitutes)
7 oz jar of marshmallow creme
4 oz confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat butter until creamy. Add marshmallow fluff and incorporate into butter. Slowly add sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until light and fluffy.

Alas, we didn’t read the method closely enough and dumped everything into a bowl and set at it with a hand mixer, I think the cream we ended with was a bit heavier and not quite as stiff as it could have been.  Delicious, though!

Here’s a cream recipe we didn’t go with:

1 lb.  confectioners’ sugar
1 c.   Crisco
1 t    vanilla
Dash of salt
1/4 c. boiling water
Whip this all together and it will last about a month

And another one that we did try:

1 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup marshmallow cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

This last one was Mrs J’s favorite, and seemed to work a tad better:20160825_155025(1600x1200)

Tidbits

20160807_150949(1600x1200)I’ve always called these things pink ladies but I assume there are other names for them depending on where you live.  They usually come as a surprise, seemingly showing up overnight.20160809_173126(1600x1200)This sloppy joe sammich got a bit of crunch added with the corn chips, it’s akin to Frito pie in that regard.  I like the way the slaw turned out so much I ordered a salad spinner for the method  the recipe spells out.  It calls for a salt and sugar “cure” that has to be rinsed off before the dressing is added and the excess water needs to be removed.  I’ve been letting it drain onto tea towels.20160811_120157(1600x1200)More BELT sammiches.  I’m frugal so I toasted the heel ends to make this one.  The tomato bushes continue to yield the big slicers that are perfect for them.20160813_104840(1600x1200)Speaking of tomatoes, we juiced a couple of five gallon buckets full of tomatoes and spent the day boiling them down to eventually can 7 quarts of tomato soup.  That vegetable juicer we bought is still paying dividends.DSC_5514(1600x1200)Gabe has found a new toy that is so much better than the other toys in that box.  Mrs J is so much fun!  She plays with him all over the house!gated gabe(1600x1200)Usually these play sessions result in nap time, whether Gabe is sleepy or not.DSC03678 (1600x1200)Moar kittehs!  I don’t have any additional info on either of these.20160811_164117(1600x1200)More smoked pork with some of that slaw from the recipe I linked to above.DSC03681 (1600x1200)I’ll wrap this up with another kitteh.

Mmm… Apple Pie!

20160811_150145(1600x1200)Mrs J made one of her Perfected Crusts for the pie.  We love that plastic mat for working dough.  It works great even upside down!  LOL20160811_150203(1600x1200)Gabe is showing some interest in the prep.  Mrs J is bringing him up right.20160811_150500(1600x1200)He likes apples, or maybe it’s just the cinnamon that has his attention.  It does smell good!20160811_155614(1600x1200)Mmm… apple pie!  We bought a bag of raw sugar that works as a sprinkle atop dessert pies and we really like it.  It has the same size granules as kosher salt.

Tidbits

20160724_094031(1600x1200)I think ten is the sweet spot when baking the King Arthur bun recipe, not too big, not too small.20160724_120430(1600x1200)Just the right size!20160724_174648(1600x1200)Made some tuna salad today, we’ve been giving that bread slicing gadget a workout.  Tuna salad on toast is another good way to use the tomatoes we have coming on strong.  Probably going to boil down some more juice soon.20160724_174830(1600x1200)We are starting to grow fond of leaf lettuce on sammiches, it doesn’t have the same crunch as iceberg but it does lay nice and flat and uniform.20160723_123019(1600x1200)Gabe goes from 90 miles per hour to naptime in about 6 seconds flat.20160721_103040(1600x1200)I have a better photo of the eggs in that nest I first posted about a week ago.  We tried to get a video of the little bird flying from the nest but failed to get anything useful.  I did get a little better look at the bird but just confirmed that it was a wee brown birdie.  It might be a house finch but a tip from a commenter over at Balloon Juice pointed me toward the Chipping Sparrow – the wings of our bird are darker than the belly.20160722_131315(1600x1200)Here’s another cold cuts and cheese sammich with a few sides.DSC_2799 (1600x1200)I’ll wrap with a picture from the archive.  I’m tickled by the balancing act this dragonfly is putting on, and I think the colors are pretty.

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)