Category Archives: Gadgets

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:

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)


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.


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)

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.


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