Hurricane Ida visited the Casa de Rurale. She was not happy. We are OK.
Hi, again, Dear Readers:
I’ll make this short–yes, we were in the eventual path of #HurricaneIda. No kidding.
And I will also make this blunt: we are fine, the dogs and cat are fine, the house is fine, and we’ve lost power for an indeterminate amount of time. The only other thing we’ve lost is our tempers, but that’s it. We’re hot and we’re cranky, but we’re not giving up the ship.
Kudos upfront to Banana Rat and The GER for some tech assistance. Very glad they answered when I called.
I had another topic related to the last two, but I wasn’t feeling well the prior week, so I procrastinated a bit. Then Ida blew through I’ll try to get that post to you as soon as I can, it’s delicious.
Good News: Cookbooks And Music
Additionally, I have two new cookbooks to tell you about soon: a new vegetarian cookbook from Emilie Bailey (The Texas Granola Girl) and Giada de Laurentiis’ latest on health and wellness. The Kindle version of Emilie’s book is released today, and the paperback should be out on September 21st.
Even if you’re not vegetarian, there is some good food here. If you like tofu and edamame, there are several recipes for those as well. (Not me, I’m allergic.) I plan to start trying some of them soon, especially since we’ve been handed a carton of eggs from someone’s local hatchery. Giada’s book isn’t entirely vegetarian, although there are some soy-based recipes as well. These reviews will be published when I can.
Do you like music? Here’s a little good news for fans of the group ABBA—they’re back. No kidding, and it’s all very 21st Century, complete with a hologram live performance. The members are still around but aren’t going to perform together onstage except as avatars. There’s a new album, too, called Voyage, due out in November. Two fantastic new tunes:
Are already available for download on iTunes and Amazon immediately. (I listened to them on the official ABBA YouTube channel last night.) The live concerts will take place in London, which means to go is a road trip. Fingers crossed.
We could all use some good news right now, yes?
Both in coastal Texas and in south Louisiana, you always pay attention to any activity in the Gulf of Mexico. At one point there were three “invests,” and one of them became #HurricaneIda. As it passed over Cuba and into the middle of the Gulf, we paid a little more attention. At that point, it could come this way, go to Texas, or even Mexico. Ike was another hurricane we weren’t sure about until the last minute, just like Harvey did four years ago. I was in Louisiana for both of those, so I guess the karma caught up with me. (Next week makes five years since I reluctantly moved here.)
When it became obvious that Hurricane Ida was coming towards Louisiana, we started prepping and did a bit of “panic buying.” I say that facetiously, but you know people do that, especially in the last 18 months. We watched and began to “batten down the hatches.” I was washing dishes and clothes, trying to tidy up as much as I could. BF went to work, and like the last time, came home and swung into action.
Buddhist friends OR and DM asked me to put the Zello walkie-talkie app on my phone. I already had it, but now we’re connected there. I’m also connected to our next-door neighbor, RW, and we can use it anytime we need to. OR and her family evacuated to Memphis, returning Thursday. School is canceled until. . .whenever.
BF likes to watch WAFB in Baton Rouge. In the front of the house is an over-the-air antenna connected to his TV. Mine in the back has an indoor antenna as well as a Roku streaming device. (We don’t have cable.) I ran WAFB on both TVs so that we could watch Hurrican Ida coverage matter what. I put WAFB’s app on my Roku so BF can watch the news if he misses it live. With apps for Roku and other stations on my iPhone, it’s also available there.
There are multiple free news channels on Roku for watching the news all over the US, like NewsOn and Haystack. I can catch the Houston news whenever I want and sometimes do. Watching the BBC or SkyNews wouldn’t have helped us at all. Running the stream on my TV in the back of the house was a great idea because BF could watch it when the antenna wasn’t working well. He made himself very comfy on the futon during those periods.
Arrival: Hurricane Ida
We watched as Hurricane Ida made landfall in Grand Isle, and every community she touched. Houma. Jean Baptiste. Eventually, scraping the metropolitan New Orleans area.
Baton Rouge was the original big city for Hurricane Ida to slam into. Eventually, Baton Rouge began experiencing damage, and every place in between. Although Baton Rouge was making preparations, it’s New Orleans that is usually impacted. The City of Baton Rouge and all the associated parishes are not really ready for a hurricane. Mayor-President of Baton Rouge Sharon Weston Broome was on TV frequently, telling everyone what the city was doing to prepare.
It looked like New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was caught short. New Orleans has something called “contraflow,” which means they open up both sides of the Interstate to go one way–OUT. Specifically, out west, as in “head to Texas.” But apparently, they didn’t act fast enough to get that in place, so there was no contraflow.
Traffic on I-10 was, indeed, backed up for hundreds of miles as people went to Texas, as we saw on TV and online. If we were going to Texas, we would be heading on every back road we could find on Google Maps! Hopefully, we would end up in New Waverly or even Huntsville, WAY above Houston. Or Lufkin, even.
Then the news became serious: that track taking it to Baton Rouge was moving eastward. Right between Baton Rouge and. . .Hammond.
Ida’s Change Of Plans
The storm passed right over our little town and literally over the house as a Category 2.
I chanted for two hours on Sunday for the protection of everyone here, to be free from damage, and to keep our power. I got two of the three. Guess which one I didn’t get?
The howling winds started early and got stronger with each passing minute. We took the dogs out but they weren’t having any of that. Every time the power blipped, I said, “stop it!” I wanted the universe to know I wanted that power ON and left ON.
At 8:30, all the power went down completely. Everywhere. We then deployed the generator, candles, flashlights, and every other emergency “thing” we have.
We went to bed and had a hard time sleeping because of things outside knocking around, including trees that were coming down hard and fast. BF anticipates the winds were faster than anyone realized.
The Morning After
If you’d have told me I’d one day buy a pair of Muck Boots, I’d tell you that you were nuts. I wear heels, right? Not in more than five years. I only know about them because of the “American Duchess,” who went on a very rainy official visit to New Zealand with her new husband the Prince right after their royal wedding.
We already had some considerable rain this year, and I felt like it was time for me to have a pair of my own. Lucky me, I found this pair on sale at our local Tractor Supply–for 75% off. BF also has a similar (and less expensive) pair from Tractor Supply. Since then I have been very happy I bought them.
As you might imagine, we took considerable damage with a Hurricane Ida as a Category 2 storm. We’re about two or three hours from Grand Isle, so it did lose strength as it went. But there was still plenty of damage this far north.
Scenes like these were all over, and I sent five of my pictures to WAFB. I don’t know if they published them or not, but our town was mentioned in an article on the damage in Tangipahoa Parish.
No cell phone service anywhere for about half a day. The Boy, who works with BF, was working another job getting cell phone towers back online in Jackson, MS. I hope they paid him well. For a time, we were literally stuck at home with no way out. Mail service was suspended on Saturday.
We could only make phone calls with the Internet router plugged into the generator (with a surge protector, of course.) I used my “business phone” MagicJack number to make phone calls on my iPhone with the MagicJack app. It’s getting better. (I’ve stopped working on my other website for a bit.)
Once we could get out, we did a little driving, partly to get to his father’s house just two miles away.
Our house is fine, and so are our neighbors, but we can’t say that about others.
Neighbors With Tractors
After Hurricane Ida began heading north, the air was still and quiet for a while. A few hours after dawn, we started to hear noises. It was a bunch of folks who live around here and own tractors, bulldozers, and other heavy equipment, and chainsaws. They went buzz-sawing through the trees and debris on the roads to make them passable. Not clearing them, just passable, and moving the big stuff to the side of the road.
The big issue is power lines–all of them are down, frayed, and sitting around everywhere. These wonderful folks just drove around and doing what people do in these situations.
In order to get his Dad’s place, we had to go the long way around via the freeway because the two-mile stretch was blocked by the fallen trees and branches. We talked to many people and BF seemed to know all of them. At one point he got out and joined them, leaving me in the vehicle.
He grabbed a chainsaw and got to work with anyone who asked. BF was in his element, that’s for sure!
On Wednesday, the DOTD came through and cleared the big trees, and on Thursday, they did more clearing.
The Louisiana National Guard Activates
Right before Hurricane Ida landed, The National Guard was activated, and according to this article in Time magazine, that activation consists of:
- 4,900 Guard personnel
- 195 high-water vehicles
- 73 rescue boats
- 34 helicopters
More were being added by local and state agencies.
Well, we saw them out clearing the interstate freeway:
What did BF have to say about this? “Oh, yeah, I used to do that when I was in the Guard. Directed traffic once in Slidell in deep water. Drove over a guy’s Miata in a vehicle. He was furious.”
Well, of course, he was. Why did you drive over the man’s car, dear? “It was underwater and I couldn’t see it.”
I can’t even imagine.
BF In Action
It wasn’t too long ago that we were experiencing that big winter freeze. Except for the temperature, we’re experiencing much the same thing now, except for no air conditioning and 80-degree temps. It’s a little cooler at night.
If you remember the picture of BF cooking on the camping stove in a hoodie, well, I’ve got a new one:
He decided to move the stove into the living room because it’s a bit easier to manage on the big table with the bottle on it. I don’t mind. Behind him to the left, you can see the fancy-dancy Snap-On flashlights that will light up an entire room nicely.
We now have two of the big flashlights, because he bought one for me, too. Why does Amy need a huge Snap-On flashlight that doubles as a heavy projectile? “Because you keep asking to use mine.” The cleaner one belongs to me.
And because BF is a smarty-pants, he decided to stop by the local National Guard armory and ask for this:
Why did we need this? “I just thought I’d ask and see if they’d let me have one.”
I posted the pic on Facebook, and Boeing Brother BO said that he had some at the shelter during Hurricane Harvey–and they weren’t bad, he said.
BF also stood in line for ice, water, and food from the National Guard to pass along to an elderly married couple he knows, and TT up the street.
Whenever we open this military “meal kit,” I’ll take pictures for a future blog post.
Obviously, our generator is deployed and is keeping things sort of afloat. The fridge, freezer, and occasionally the living room TV run nicely. We just have to keep putting petrol in it. Last time we drove 170 miles round trip to get more, and we’re looking at another “date night road trip” to get more soon.
The Rotera tealight holders have also come in handy:
We have plenty of bottles of propane for the stove, and we’re not using it all day long. Just for cooking and to boil water for coffee. So glad I have French press pots around.
BF’s sister did an IKEA run in Atlanta for me and brought three more Roteras for us, plus a few other things. We’d planned this before Ida had her eye on the Louisiana coast.
Washing Dishes By Hand
Ok, as you might imagine, I’m not using our wonderful countertop dishwasher right now. But there’s another reason for it, not Hurricane Ida. Sure, I can hook it up to the generator, but on Saturday afternoon, it began to leak. Seriously. All over the place. First, it soaked a dishtowel, then an “emergency towel” (old ones you keep around for that sort of thing), and then part of a second emergency towel.
I texted BF and told him. We’re not happy. When he got home, we put the flashlight inside it and quickly found the problem: the gasket is damaged. So it’s a simple replacement part, we hope. The Karma of Spare Parts is back.
Figured that a Monday morning call to Goldstar would lead to a quick and easy repair. Nope. Right now we’re too busy taking care of everyday life with a generator. So. . .maybe in a couple of weeks.
Helping Ida’s Victims
No, I didn’t mean me directly. Well, if you have a magic wand or a sonic screwdriver that will restore power to all of us, sure, get in touch. FedEx came through the other day.
If you’re thinking about donating for immediate Hurricane Ida relief, Mercy Chefs is now on the ground in several Louisiana cities and serving hot, fresh meals to people. I’ve donated to them before, and will probably do so again soon. We missed them over the weekend, unfortunately. I wanted to do a blog post on their operations.
Their motto is “Just Go And Feed People,” and that’s exactly what they do. They’re a faith-based nonprofit with volunteers who staff professional mobile kitchens. When Hurricane Ida took aim, they made plans to move in. They take these “food trucks” into disaster zones and make hot, fresh meals for people who can’t cook for themselves. Mercy Chefs also supplies hot meals to first responders and volunteers.
Their locations are posted on their social media channels. I mentioned that I would look them up if they came up this way, like Tangipahoa Parish, and they told me to do just that. So if we can go see them, there’s definitely a blog post coming.
The Louisiana Cajun Navy is also deploying to rescue and assist people. I just realized that they are located in Hammond, just south of here.
Other organizations like the Salvation Army and The Red Cross are also accepting donations, I think, but they don’t come this far north.
More As Things Get Better
Make no mistake–Hurricane Ida did considerable damage to south Louisiana, and not just New Orleans.
Right now, Entergy–the electric provider for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and this area–has utility workers from all over the US scattered through every affected area. We’ve seen them all over the place. During a supply run to Hammond on Saturday–Target, Rouse’s, Winn-Dixie, and Walmart are open there–we passed three utility trucks from ConEdison out of New York.
They’ve published their current estimates for return to power on their website which was updated today. Entergy’s current estimate for our area, Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes is ten days away–September 17th. This does not fill me with hope. We’re sick of cold showers! But we keep going and I keep chanting because we can’t do much else, except keeping the generator fueled and running.
Other than being a bit cranky, BF and I are OK, as are our neighbors. However, many people aren’t–his brother’s house took some serious damage and will take some time to repair. We do realize that we’re fortunate and that the Casa de Rurale withstood winds that may have been as high as 100 MPH. So as we take care of day-to-day tasks, we also help others best we can.
It may be a couple of weeks before you hear from me again, but I’ll update whenever I’m able. Please keep an eye out on the Gulf.
Yamazaki Home is a 100-year-old Japanese company that offers contemporary home goods for any decor. After nearly five years of looking for it, they have something I really needed.
Hi again, Dear Readers:
No, this isn’t a post from the draft folder–I’ve still got a few in there for you that are, shall we say, “evergreen.” In other words, I can flesh them out and publish them anytime.
Today’s post is about a company I only recently discovered and want to tell you about. Because you or someone you know just might need something. And no, this is not a sponsored post, but the Amazon affiliate links are mine, since you can also buy the products there.
Let’s dive in.
It’s the time of year for watermelon! No, it’s not keto–but it sure is tasty. Watermelons are loved throughout the world and especially in the southern US. They’re grown down here, actually, so you understand why. You can buy watermelons grown in Louisiana all over the place. But occasionally, we also get them from Texas, and even Mississippi.
One of BF’s local car-guy friends has decided to start growing watermelons. He leased some land in Washington Parish and got BF out there with him one day to start tilling and planting seeds. They used equipment, not working it by hand. I’ve not been there myself, but BF did text some pictures from there. It was a bigger operation than our failed gardening attempt last year that included watermelons. That garden was for our own personal use, not for sale. The deer and the raccoons had a field day taking out the corn and some other plants.
The friend, along with his 16-year-old stepdaughter and occasionally one of her friends have been standing on the side of the road selling them. They usually sell out, although this past weekend saw three of them delivered to the Casa de Rurale.
As watermelon is, they are sweet, tasty, and full of seeds. So I did what I would normally do–cut the watermelon into chunks, and add the seeds into a bowl, then spread them out into the garden plot. Now it’s just wait-and-see. We could have watermelons for Thanksgiving!
Ok, I’m just going to go ahead and admit that this was an unintentional and all-around bad idea.
The other day I was making dinner and thought that I would be using the small oven on the left-hand side of BF’s avocado green stove, and turned it on. When I realized that it would be too small, I turned on the big oven. To 400 degrees, no less. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn off the small oven.
Because the kitchen in the Casa de Rurale is a bit small, I had the watermelons on the stove while I cooked dinner. One of them was sitting on the back burner that’s above the small oven that is also an exhaust pipe for the small oven.
I kept smelling something but I wasn’t sure what it was. BF had the same thought–what’s that smell? Heading into the kitchen, he found the source:
So, other than being in the blog, this hot mess is our little secret. Fortunately, the guy doesn’t read the blog.
I left it alone for a while, and then cut it open to see what happened:
A closer inspection shows that it really did get badly singed:
What did it taste like? Well, watermelon, but not a very good one. So it was Watermelon Night at The Possum Palace.
Not doing that again.
The Stove-side Shelf
Longtime readers may remember this shelf that I put up in the condo’s kitchen at El Dorado Trace:
This little shelf is from IKEA, and they still sell a similar version, plus this new version. I remember it as about $5 at the time. First, I lacquered it. When I put this up next to the stove, I felt like I had the greatest kitchen invention ever.
Then I moved to the Casa de Rurale.
Working In His Kitchen
It took a while, but I managed to do some organization in BF’s kitchen (as well as the rest of the house.) Unfortunately, many things were broken during the move or after I arrived, like that perfect little bottle for olive oil. That’s what happens during a move, of course.
One thing I planned to do was put that little shelf back up, but there is a refrigerator, not a wall, sitting next to the stove. I had two choices: put magnets on the back of the wooden IKEA shelf, or drill into the refrigerator. The first option seemed the best idea.
But of course, that didn’t work–the industrial-strength magnets I glued onto the back of the shelf just didn’t work at all. Even though I deployed Gorilla Glue–the bolt-it-together polyurethane stuff–it still wouldn’t stay on the fridge, much less hold anything. The olive oil bottle, salt, pepper, and seasoning bottles sat inconveniently on the other side of the kitchen for over 4 years, with the shelf packed away somewhere.
Then I was on Instagram one day and saw something that altered the dynamic.
I start seeing these new things in my Instagram feed. They were sleek, simple, and very functional. Then the company posted this on May 18th:
Finally!! The solution!
It’s Called “The Plate”
Unlike IKEA’s very Swedish names, this shelf comes with a simpler name–and a 3.5-pound magnet, too. I signed up for the company’s emails, and in short order, there was a sale. So of course it moved from the “one-day” list to the “I’m ordering it right now” list.
It only took a few days to arrive, and in true Japanese fashion, it was efficiently and well packed.
A simple but very useful item:
One thing I needed to do is get a smaller bottle for the stovetop olive oil supply. Yes, I do have to refill it more often, but the bigger bottle I’ve used since I moved here would likely be too heavy once it’s full. Once I got the smaller bottle a few days later, filled it, and topped it with a spout I was ready to put up the shelf. Having that handy goes a long way when you’re busy cooking.
You really don’t “install” this shelf, but you do have to make sure the magnet is fully stuck on the side of the fridge. In this case, it involved a thorough cleaning with the infamous “scrubbing bubbles.”
Wiped and scrubbed it clean, then put the shelf on it.
Admittedly, I only put a few things on it at first to see what it would hold. But once I was satisfied that I could put what I wanted on it, I put more:
Just like the original shelf, there’s a bottle of Chipotle Tabasco, as well as some Cajun Land Seasoning that I like. Unless I buy another one, the rest will stay on the other side of the room.
What does BF say? “I’m waiting for it to fall.” Thanks, Honey.
Yamazaki Home has been in business for 100 years, and has only been branching out to other countries recently. They’ve been in the US since 2014, but apparently only crossed my radar on Instagram in May. The company utilizes the Japanese minimalist approach to home goods that are practical, useful, as well as stylish.
In other words: there is no frou-frou, schlock, or kitsch here. Everything WORKS.
Some lifestyle bloggers are calling it “The IKEA of Japan” for its similar approach to home goods. This post from Gear Patrol is the most recent blog I’ve found.
While Amazon and Wayfair do carry many of their products, the newest of the new is only available on their company website. Their website is worth checking out if you’re looking for something you can’t find anywhere else–like IKEA.
Their blog is called “Yamazaki Stories,” and features things like this international-ingredient version of coconut cake. Fortunately, there is an Asian grocery store in Baton Rouge that I have yet to investigate, so I could actually get some of the more unusual ingredients there. Of course, the cake is on the company’s very own cake stand.
You can find Yamazaki Home on:
Follow one or all of their social media accounts so that you can be notified of new products, flash sales, and more.
Now, Yamazaki Home’s items are very well made, judging from what I see online and the Plate shelf. They are also more expensive than IKEA products but are made to last a long time.
The Plate Shelf runs $20, although, admittedly, I bought mine from their website during a 20% off sale in May. I’m sure there will be more in the Casa de Rurale from Yamazaki Home in the future, even if it isn’t their most expensive stuff.
This other magnetic kitchen rack could very well be next, and this little stackable shelf might be useful in the kitchen or other places throughout the house. This self-draining soap dish is probably going to show up in the bathroom as well as the kitchen one of these days–and maybe one in the garage sink for BF. And I do like this butter dish.
Note that there is also a company called Yamazaki that produces a high-end range of flatware. However, Yamazaki Home is not the same company.
Remember my cookbook review of The Southern Keto Cookbook just a couple of months ago? Guess what? Emilie Bailey, aka, The Texas Granola Girl, is about to release her second cookbook, called The Ultimate Simple Keto Cookbook: Easy Ketogenic Diet Recipes. It’ll be released on July 13th, but your faithful blogger was kindly gifted a preview copy–and I’ve been using it! So I’m hoping to make a couple more recipes this week and include them in my review. I’ll also be leaving a very positive review on Amazon, because so far, so good.
Oh, yes, I’ve found one recipe so far that uses turnips. No comment.
Our pantry also needs a clean-out and reorg, and that will also be part of an upcoming blog post. BF just sees stuff he doesn’t understand wonders, “why do we need all this?” More in the blog post.
The Air Fryer! After a couple of books on the subject, I bought one. I’ll tell you what I’ve done with it and let you decide for yourself.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
It’s been a busy time at the Casa de Rurale, and being in the south, it’s HOT. It’ll be cooling down about late October or early November, long after the north has begun sipping hot Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Me, I’m hoping for a cold front for my birthday, as I do every year. Could snow happen? Well. . .it’s always possible, but highly improbable.
After my post on Justin and Bronte’s wedding, I got some nice comments, including one from Justin, and one from Stacy Asaro, the event coordinator from Southern Oaks. I didn’t intend to say anything bad, honestly, and the “no coffee” thing is the only thing I would change if it were mine. But that’s just me, and everything was lovely.
As I write this there are now FIVE named storms floating around the tropics! I’ve got more hurricane snacks at the ready. What level of Jumanji is it now?
Let’s catch up.
Covering The Mixer
It is here where my two worlds converge. It’s fun when that happens.
Remember my black Kitchenaid Stand mixer? It was given to me many years ago by someone I used to know, and I don’t use it as often as I should. Part of the problem is that it’s always somewhere else, and I have to haul it into the kitchen. It’s heavy, and it should be *in* the kitchen, not away from it.
The story was that someone gave it to the person who gave it to me after having it repaired and then upgrading to a new one. I just said, “thank you.” I was saving up to buy one when it was presented to me about 2007 or 2008.
One big problem is that it collects dust. Well, the house collects dust, really, but the bowl holds on to it. I should be able to use it more, but where it was, it’s a lot of trouble. So in an executive decision, I:
- Moved the Instant Pot down to the bottom shelf of a kitchen cabinet
- Moved the stand mixer from the shelving rack to the lower kitchen counter next to the toaster oven
- Decided quickly that it needed a cover
You can buy these already made, but then tend to be expensive. So what did I do? I made one!
Sewing For The Kitchen
I went looking on Pinterest, and it didn’t take long to find this one from a blog called Heart of Mary. Headed over to the Hammond Office Depot, printed out two copies of the pattern (in case I bungled one up), and got some fabric at Hobby Lobby up the street. Black and white thread is like salt and pepper in the kitchen, and I already had the batting piece. (Need to get more soon anyway.)
It took longer than I’d planned because the sewing machine kept breaking the thread. I changed the needle, the tension, and even the foot, using a walking foot to try and get it finished. Nope. For whatever reason, it was the day from you-know-what trying to finish it. Eventually, I did, making the bias tape from the lining fabric. Both fabrics were just some ordinary cotton.
The cover is also reversible, and like the blog says, stands up on its own.
I’m guessing I spent about $10 and an afternoon to make this, and it used up some excess batting in the process. I didn’t have enough fabric to make it, that’s the only reason I bought some. And that was the best fabric I could find for it at the time. But now it’ll stay clean anytime I use it.
The End Of The Garden
After BF’s enthusiasm for a garden, his input didn’t last long. After the local wildlife population discovered the corn, he lost interest.
I pulled weeds as I could, but pretty soon they were overwhelming, and I didn’t have several hours a day to pull them. I asked for help, but I didn’t get it. Eventually, I walked away from it. No more watering, or concern for these plants.
Watermelon vines were growing until the melons started to rot and the critters came to feast. We had some, but BF’s self-centered car guy friend (not Justin) told him to “pick that now, it’s ready.” BF ran inside and told me it was ripe and I should cut it immediately. It wasn’t ripe, and it wasn’t ready. See, this “friend” was also growing watermelon and brought over some for us. That was nice, but it wasn’t about being nice, it was about making himself look “good.” That’s not what I said after he left.
BF recently did some “work” in the area with his favorite piece of equipment: the mower. There is still some basil, tarragon, and a pepper plant or two out there, and I plan to dig them up to put them into pots like I used to. Hoping for more pesto and maybe some tarragon vinegar for salad dressings. BF is talking about a “fall garden.” He’s on his own there–I’m going back to five-gallon paint buckets with holes drilled in the bottom.
What’s An Air Fryer?
Ok, you’ve probably seen these machines in pretty much every discount, department, and home goods store there is. You’ve likely seen the Ninja versions, as well as their new air fryer oven that “flips.” But there are multiple versions of these things at a variety of prices. So what’s the big deal?
Maybe it’s because the much-maligned “millennials” don’t know how to cook. (Some do, some don’t, it’s probably not just a millennial thing.) Could be that people are looking for faster, easier ways to make food. Many people (including this amateur chef) love the taste of fried foods but don’t like the mess. Others are looking for ways to make tasty food in a different way, such as French fries, and make them “healthier.”
Add to it the people who are camping in at home nearly 24/7 now, and you’ve got people looking for more dinner ideas, faster, easier, and with minimal cleanup.
Well, the air fryer addresses all this and more. Like the slow cooker and the countertop oven, it can also help keep the kitchen from overheating in the summer–a big plus throughout the southern US.
The One I Bought
Farberware’s version is a 1.9 quart and is supposed to be suitable for cooking for one to two people. I bought this one last fall, but online they are black and a nice teal blue. When I bought mine, they were $30; now they are $40.
If you have the infernal Instant Pot, you can also buy an “air fryer lid” that fits most models. Except for mine, I kid you not. I have the “newest” model of the Infamous Pot. (I know, I’ve got a post in the draft folder.)
Later, I bought this set of air fryer accessories for about $11 at my local Dirt Cheap. They fit my air fryer perfectly, and I’ve made cornbread for BF with the pans already. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What Is Healthy?
Let me give my standard disclosure here: I’m not a doctor, nurse, or another medical practitioner, nor do I play one on TV. I am a patient who reads and pays attention. I’m also not an attorney, but someone who does research and creates marketing content for them. I don’t practice law, but I do read it a lot. That being said. . . .
Real fat is what keeps you alive. Sugar can and will kill you over time if you consume enough of it–and it’s not difficult in the US. Notice I said “real fat,” which are things like olive and coconut oil, avocados, butter, eggs, etc.
Taking all fat out of your food isn’t necessarily healthy. If you replace hydrogenated vegetable oil with olive, coconut, or other healthy oils, that’s a healthy change. If you don’t believe me, check it out. What’s called “vegetable oil” is actually hydrogenated soybean oil. Ditto for corn oil and a few others. Hydrogenation adds a hydrogen atom into the oil to prevent spoilage. Canola oil, when heated, also turns into a trans-fat oil. Crisco is anything but “healthy.”
So the low-fat theory is prevalent here, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making “healthier” food. It all depends on what you’re working with, including the oils.
The Air Fryer Books
So thanks to my wonderful book benefit, I got curious about it. Most people think about using an air fryer for either chicken wings or French fries, but there are hundreds of recipes for it.
The first one I received was the Ninja Air Fryer Cookbook for Beginners by Linda Larsen. This book focuses solely on the Ninja® Air Fryer Max XL. The food looked delicious, and so far, so good. I tried two recipes, one for wings and one for a chocolate chip cookie that bakes in it. Because my air fryer wasn’t the Ninja, it took longer to bake. That’s OK, it was still pretty tasty. BF likes those wings, so I have to make them occasionally.
Then came some others:
- The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook For Beginners, Laurie Fleming
- The Ultimate Keto Air Fryer Cookbook, Wendy Polisi
- The Air Fryer Cookbook For Weight Loss, Jamie Yonash
- The Southern Air Fryer Cookbook, Pam Wattenbarger, and Brittany Wattenbarger (there is, indeed, a recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes in this book.)
- The Essential Vegetarian Air Fryer Cookbook, Linda Larsen
I also have:
- Convection Oven Cooking Made Simple, Janet A. Zimmerman
- The Ninja Foodi XL Pro Air Oven Complete Cookbook, Ninja Test Kitchens
I’ll explain why in a minute.
The books are now e-books, but that enabled me to send the vegetarian books to Miss Alice in Houston as well as make recommendations.
Using The Air Fryer
The thing to remember about any model of an air fryer is this: it’s a vertical convection oven.
If you’ve never had one, “convection” means that a top-side fan circulates the hot air inside the oven, cooking more evenly and giving a really crispy crust. Some newer full-size ovens now come with an “air fryer” setting, which is pretty much the same as “convection.” My countertop oven has this function, as well as the last one I had. In fact, Oster has a rather large countertop that also does convection, one of which I’ve seen at Walmart.
There are a few things you need to know before you start:
- Although you can make fried foods, the coating can’t be drippy. Any coating has to stick to the food and not run or fall off.
- Cakes, cookies, eggs, and other foods that have a liquid texture before baking have to be in a dish you place into the air fryer.
- With things like fries, you should take out the basket and shake them once or twice during cooking
- You spray oil into the cooker basket as well as onto your food, especially those with a coating or a texture, to make it crispy.
- The air fryer must be the only appliance plugged into the outlet. I have to unplug both the microwave and the kettle so I can use that particular outlet. Otherwise, you’ll blow a fuse or something. (This is actually in the instructions for mine.)
- The basket can be placed in the dishwasher, but not the entire unit.
- You must warm up the unit for five minutes or so before you start cooking.
- The unit gets very hot during cooking, so it needs plenty of “airspace.” Read the instructions before you plug it in, of course.
The idea is that it cooks faster and healthier. Well, “faster” hasn’t been my experience, but whatever.
I got it at Walmart.
A simple booklet came with the machine, with instructions and great recipes like this one:
I think that’s supposed to be Curry Fried Okra, but English isn’t the first language of the copywriter. Just an observation.
There were no accessories included, just the machine. Fortunately, I have the aforementioned cookbooks to work with.
BF will go on forever about how Hooters has great chicken wings. When I worked at Boeing, some of us would head to Buffalo Wild Wings on Tuesdays for lunch. Holding your receipt for a week got you six free wings, which was great. I got the unbattered ones, and they were pretty tasty.
So when we discussed chicken wings, he had this idea that it would *almost* be like having them at Hooters. (Not wearing orange, thanks very much.) He was so excited he bought this stuff at Walmart:
Boy was he disappointed. “It doesn’t taste anything like the sauce at Hooters!” he cried. I could have told him that, but he was undeterred until he tried it. The ingredient list was a nightmare.
Into the trash that went.
I used this recipe, which BF loves:
The recipe is created especially for the Ninja Air Fryer, I just cut it in half. Cooking was just until they were done, however long that took. To paraphrase Hague Law Blog author Aaron Lukken, air fryer cooking is not about “building rockets.” Just cook the wings until they’re done. (I read his blogs all the time, but not everyone will find them as interesting as I do.)
Then I just sprayed some oil in the basket and got started.
BF only ruined one of his wings with that god-awful sauce. The rest he gobbled up and said, “make these again!”
Other Air Fryer Cuisine
Since getting this thing, I’ve made some:
- “Louisiana-style” fried fish (from one of the books)
- Chicken Wings
- Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Sweet potato fries
In the case of the fish, you do the batter coating and press it into the fish:
The recipe calls for adding parchment paper in the fryer basket, then spraying it with oil:
Then spray the fish with the oil and cook it up.
The fish came out nice and crispy, but not *quite* as crispy as it would have if we’d fried it in oil in a pan. BF actually liked it, although he hasn’t asked me to make it again.
Another Amy Favorite
Sweet potato fries seem to take longer in the air fryer.
They come out nice, but it takes an hour. Might as well use the toaster oven.
Dash’s website has a number of recipes that are specific to their accessory package, including sweets. I’ve used the cake pan for some cornbread for BF. Made from scratch, he really liked it.
Air Fryer Desserts
Yes, you can make some desserts in an air fryer, no kidding. In addition to the ones at the above link, you can make a number of desserts in the air fryer. I did make some Air Fried Fudge Brownies for BF about a month ago, with the note to use a 6″ pan in a convection oven. If you use a smaller pan, it will take too long to cook.
Just looking at the Essential Air Fryer Book For Beginners, where I got the brownie recipe, you can make a chocolate Bundt cake (using a six-inch Bundt pan) banana cake, cherry cobbler, doughnuts, stuffed baked apples, apple hand pies, and pumpkin fritters. That’s just from this book. For just about any contained dish, six inches is the number to remember.
The Big Cookie
One of our “couple friends” split last year, and because things were rather contentious between them, we invited the female to dinner. I made an old Martha Stewart recipe for bacon and egg pie, to which BF turned his nose up. In fact, he didn’t stick around for dinner, he had to go out and do something or other. I think he found an excuse to leave because he didn’t want bacon and egg pie, but whatever. So it was just me and AB for the night. The idea was for us to have a conversation without judgment, make sure she was all right, and certainly not trying to reconcile them.
So this was the bacon & egg pie for dinner:
The Big Chocolate Chip Cookie didn’t work exactly as it should have. In fact, it took longer to cook, because I used a five-inch Corningware dish. It’s what I had available at the time, and what I could grab quickly.
I had to get BF to bring home some chocolate chips:
I couldn’t believe he brought home ORGANIC. From Piggly-Wiggly, no less.
So you mix it all up, and then add parchment to the pan, plus spray it with flour-infused cooking spray while preheating the air fryer. Then add the cookie dough into the pan.
Bake it at 300 degrees for, it says, 9 minutes. But as I recall, it took considerably longer–like 30 minutes. But this isn’t the Ninja, and I didn’t have the proper pan available or handy. I think I have the right one now since I bought the accessory kit. The recipe makes four servings.
Admittedly, I had a bit of this cookie, and it was quite tasty once it finished baking. The addition of a little white chocolate is a nice touch.
Verdict: It’s A Toy
A toy, in sort of a Suzy Homemaker kind of mindset. The coiled heating element and the fan, very simply arranged in the housing. They’re all like that in one form or another.
Honestly, it’s not a bad thing, and if you like appliances, you may enjoy this one. But if you have a convection oven, especially a full size one, would it be a good idea to basically buy a smaller one? That’s up to you and your kitchen.
I actually wanted to return it but BF asked me not to. I already have a convection oven, hence the other two convection books. Seriously, the air fryer does the same thing, just more fashionably.
Then again, there’s always the Talkie Toaster.
Air fryer recipes are all over the web, especially at Pinterest. What do you want to air fry? Chicken wings? Sandwiches? Keto dishes? It’s all there, as well as with a quick search on Google (or your search engine of choice.) Like the Instant Pot, air fryer recipes aren’t difficult to find for pretty much whatever you want to make with it.
Happy air frying!!
Do you like iced coffee? Have you tried a cold brew system before, but were left. . .cold? Fear not–I found the most awesome iced coffee maker, and it’s as easy as filling a bucket.
Hello, again Dear Readers:
I’m still writing, just not here, unfortunately. Neighbor E says he knows I’m OK when he gets a blog post. The GER pops in every so often. I’m trying. . .but we’re doing OK, and busy as heck.
But. . .I’m being harassed. Not by BF or some man that I could do without, but by this website. I get these emails telling me to pay attention to it. Like I haven’t.
Oh, wait, I really haven’t.
Emails with subject lines like:
Problems found on HeatCageKitchen.com
Failed : Automatic Backup of your WordPress installation
Softaculous backup of. . . .
Wordfence activity for. . .
The plugin needs an upgrade. . .
Additionally, people are still trying to hack their way into this website. Why, I don’t know, and it’s from places like Albania and Laos. Don’t they have anything better to do?
And on it goes. But the good news is that writing this blog as long as I have has taught me how to use WordPress. I have a few clients who use it, and they grant me access to their sites so I can go in and upload, format and tweak their content. SEO included, and it’s easy with Yoast. So that’s a good thing.
Oh, and if you like the new “table of contents,” you can thank my client in Israel for telling me how to do that.
I have been shopping, and not just for groceries, although I do that a lot. I look at a lots of different things, primarily online. I’m always interested in something new that will solve a problem or make life easier. BF thinks I’m a little nuts, but I don’t mind. I remind him that my “pill habit” comes from Vitacost.
Did you know you can buy moving bags for mattresses? I had no idea–but when we were suddenly given a queen sized mattress set (that we don’t need), I ordered some of these great big giant Baggies for mattresses, and they’re now sealed up tight in the back room. We could actually put them outside in the garage, but for now they’re fine. Fortunately, when we moved mine, we didn’t have any problems. When it’s time to replace mine, we have a new set ready to use.
I’ve also replaced a few more things, which I will be posting about as soon as I can. The countertop dishwasher is still humming along, thank heavens, sometimes three times a day.
I’ve also finally been to the dentist after more than six years, seen a doctor about something else, and I’ll be getting another eye exam in the next month or so–it’s been a year. If my prescription changed–and even if it didn’t–I’ll be shopping for new glasses again, at Zenni, like last year.
The Royal Wedding
Did you see it? It was FAAABULOUS!!
The night before, I made some Raspberry Scones. I got up at 2:30, drank coffee, made a pot of tea, and turned on the TV to watch it live. From 3:00 am until the live coverage ended (and I passed out) about 8:00 am, I watched history being made–an American marrying into the British Royal Family. First time in nearly 100 years!
Everything went without a hitch, despite all the press from the bride’s side of the family. The music was great, and I wanted so much to give Doria Ragland (Meghan’s mother) a hug. She looked so happy but so far out of her element. Very elegant and classy she was, and now the press goes out to take her picture when she drops by her local bakery for some pastries.
If you didn’t read about it, Harry and Meghan chose Bishop Michael Curry to speak, who is the first African American to lead the Episcopalian Church. What I didn’t know until recently is that the Episcopalian Church is the “American Branch” of the Church of England. So he was kind of a big deal. He was great, although his speech was longer than expected, about 15 minutes. At one point, he said, “I know I’ve got to sit down so we can get you two married.”
The theme was “love.” One of his quotes: “Two people fell in love, and we all showed up.” Oh, yes we did–20 billion of us! (I think.) Fire, as he pointed out, was one of the things that allowed civilization to grow and flourish. But If we can harness the power of love the way we’ve harnessed the power of fire, love really could change the world.
Not to be outdone, Saturday Night Live brought the Most Reverend Curry to Weekend Update to talk more about it. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work–and you know that’s not really him, anyway. But it is funny. The other sketch, featuring “Prince Harry” talking to a videographer while he walked through the reception at 2:00 am, was not only pretty funny, but featured costumes that were nearly identical to the ones worn to the wedding earlier in the day. Unfortunately, that sketch has been taken down.
BF was totally unimpressed. I’ll get the DVD real soon. (Yes, I’m still a Buddhist.)
And Now It’s Summer
Yup–nobody’s drinking yeast-free hot chocolate much these days. That’s OK. I’m back making iced coffee again, but much easier than before.
I started drinking iced coffee in the summer of 2011, when Houston went through a heat wave and a drought. The office was parchingly hot, because the AC couldn’t keep up. I just said, “the heck with this,” and threw a fresh cup of hot coffee into a glass over ice. I’ve been drinking it ever since.
Two years ago, I told you about how Nick Usborne at The Coffee Detective had instructions and recipes for iced coffee. But I’ve got one better, and I don’t think Nick knows about it. I must tell him soon.
I really didn’t mind too much the brewing and cooling process. But when I found this, I snapped one up.
Enter The KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker!
It happened very innocently. I was buzzing through Target on a quick run while BF waited in the truck. Walking through the coffee makers on my way out, I saw this interesting steel glass square sitting there. I thought, “I’ll have to look at that soon.” Didn’t look at the price tag, I just wanted to mentally bookmark it for later.
A couple of days later, we watching a TV show called CityLine, a daytime TV talk show out of Canada. They talk about the usual things for the home–new furnishings, stuff for spring etc. I only caught a couple of minutes of it, but they were showing off new things for spring entertaining. What do you know, the guest speaker moves over, and there is this beautiful thing. She starts to explain it and demonstrate while pouring a glass of iced coffee for the host, Tracy Moore. After adding milk and sugar, she hands it to Tracy. She takes a sip, and says, “Oh, yes, mmm-hmmm, that’s really delicious, yes.” (You know how they do that on TV.) You’d have to go looking for the video, but I couldn’t find it myself. Anyway, I looked at BF and said,“I’m getting one tomorrow.” And I did!
However, I was not prepared to pay the full manufactured price for it. So I managed to find myself a couple of coupons.
Getting It For Less
First of all, if you’re not using Ebates, you should be (here, use my referral code.) I also checked another browser app called Honey. What this does is look for coupons and promo codes right in your browser that you can use to get discounts on different websites.
I put one in my shopping cart, then ran Honey. Found a coupon for 15% off. Wrote the coupon code down, and then went back and started over through Ebates. Now, the shopping trip was registered through Ebates, I used the coupon code and got a little bit of money back.
Essentially, I got it for half price.
Target and Overstock Sell it for about $100. Amazon usually has it for about $75. The KitchenAid website actually had it for $79 when I bought it, and I’m glad I bought it there. I’ll tell you why later. But if you’re going to get one, try to find the best price before you go spending for it (unless you don’t care about money.)
Making Iced Coffee
So now it’s time to answer the question, what’s it like to use this to make iced coffee? Well, it’s probably a little better than other methods that are available. Really, it couldn’t be easier, and I took pictures to show you.
Take the filter basket, and fill it up with the coffee of your choice to the line, which is hard to see, but there.
That should come to 750 g. Make sure the little plastic rim is in place, and set your basket into the coffee maker, then fill it with ground coffee.
According to the directions, you poor 34 ounces of water into the coffee grounds, and let them sit for a couple of minutes to absorb. When that’s done, you poor additional 8 ounces of water into the coffee grounds.
Once that’s done, take a spoon and push the coffee grounds under the water and make sure all the coffee grounds are wet and absorbing water, eliminating any “dry spots.” Put the lid on it, and leave it alone.
Easier Than A CrockPot
When you’re ready for it, the directions say to let the coffee steep for 12 to 24 hours. The first time I used it, I let it sit for 12 hours. The second time, I left for 24. I have to say that I prefer the 24 hour steeping.
After your coffee has steps for the desired amount of time, just use a little handle to pick up the coffee filter basket out of the coffee maker.
Stand it to one side so that the coffee drains out. Then tilt iin the opposite direction, so that more of the brewed coffee will drain out of the filter basket.
Now it’s just a matter of putting the finished coffee into your refrigerator. It has a small footprint, sits right on the shelf, and conveniently allows you to get iced coffee whatever you want.
Ready To Drink Iced Coffee?
Now that the iced coffee is ready, it’s very simple to make in a glass. You simply add one part coffee concentrate to three parts milk or water, whatever your choice. I use this cup I bought on sale from Starbucks a few years ago, and I put the coffee concentrate to just over the ridge on the bottom of the straw. (That keeps it from falling out of the cup if you turn it over.)
And then fill the rest with milk. It’s kind of eyeballed, but it works for me.
At this point, you sweeten, add flavor or whatever you like to do with your iced coffee. You can add regular milk, cream or half-and-half, or you can use one of the alternative milks like almond milk or hemp milk, your choice. Like whipped cream? Add it. Like those fancy sauces that flavor your coffee? Add some. Once you get the basic formula down, it’s all up to you.
I know that there is a myriad of ice coffee brewing systems on the market. I just happened to find this one, and it’s so easy and foolproof. Of course, I read a bunch of reviews on Amazon and on KitchenAid’s website before I popped open my piggy bank. (My review is actually on KitchenAid’s website, but I guess I didn’t win the food processor!) But after seeing it in action and seeing how well it works, even non-coffee drinking BF thinks it was a great buy. Especially since I not only got it for half-price, I use it all the time.
The Karma Of Spare Parts, Again
Yes, I already needed a spare part for it. Somehow, the little handle fell off the filter basket, and needed a new one. A quick call to the nice folks at KitchenAid, and they said they would send me a new one, no problem. They sent the whole filter basket, not just the handle. I asked how much this would cost, and I heard the words that made my day:
“Oh, there’s no charge. It’s still under warranty.”
It arrived a few days later. I’m so glad I bought it directly from Kitchen Aid.
What Kind Of Coffee?
You’re probably thinking I used some high-end exclusive blend curated just for iced coffee. Or at least something from Starbucks. Well, I did use a very exclusive type of decaf coffee:
Yeup. Exclusive to shoppers of Rouse’s. About $4.35 for that brick. It’s what I had available the first time, and so it’s what I’ve been using. At some point I’ll order plenty of HEB’s wonderful grocery store brand coffee and use that again. But for now, this works just fine.
Cold brewing also eliminates the acid that you may get if you make your iced coffee from hot. No boiling pots, nothing hot, and no burns either.
Cold Brew Iced Coffee The Easy Way
I know there’s a bunch of different ways to make iced coffee. And if you’re happy with the way you make it, go for it. If you’re not happy with it, I offer a simple, foolproof alternative.
This hands-off method just takes a little planning, and makes it perfect every time. The elegantly designed cube sits right in your fridge at the ready. KitchenAid has also recently introduced a stand for it, but I probably won’t be getting one. We’re not planning a brunch anytime soon.
But if you love iced coffee, but don’t like spending a fortune for it, just break open the piggy bank get yourself one of these models. Find a stainless steel cup to drink it out of (especially one that fits in your car’s cupholder so you can take it with you) and you’re on your way to enjoying iced coffee more often. Don’t forget to use Ebates and find it on sale or marked down.
More New KitchenAid Things
Well, sort of. We recently were gifted quite a number of things, including a KitchenAid toaster and 14-cup coffee pot, and some other small things. The caveat is that they’re all RED. No kidding. You’d think I’d be enjoying red dishes, red cups, red bowls and red everything else. But even as a fan of red, after a while your eyes get tired of all that red. I’ll live with it, because we were gifted them from someone who won’t need them anymore. We’ve nicknamed him DG, and I’ll explain more next time. I’ll try to take pictures and add them to an upcoming blog post.
Meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying summer, staying cool and hydrated. Now that you know an easy way to make iced coffee, you can enjoy it more often. I have it every day, i the Casa de Rurale, and no driving to a coffee shop.
More big changes at the Casa de Rurale, and this one involves a new appliance–the countertop dishwasher!
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Some of you may be shoveling snow, or not. After three hard freezes, two with snow, we’re in spring-like weather here in Central Louisiana, and I’m in shorts.
Some of you may remember my Karma of Spare Parts series, in which I describe buying spare parts online to be able to use what I have. I’m still at it! In addition to meeting the mail ladies many times, I’ve also met several UPS and FedEx drivers who bring packages to the Casa de Rurale, including one smoker who handed me a big package from Vitacost with a cigarette in his mouth. No kidding. I didn’t complain to FedEx, because he was very nice, but I did lecture him a little on the irony of smoking while delivering my package of health products.
More Spare Parts Karma
Just last week I ordered some replacement glass beakers from Sur la Table:
I actually ordered three of these little ones, and one of the 8-cup beakers. The two smaller ones broke on the trip from Houston. To get more of these requires either online ordering or a trip to Baton Rouge (that’s now the closest Sur la Table to me; New Orleans doesn’t have one.) So, I finally ordered the darn things. I have three small pots–two of the Brazil model and one of the Chambord. (The small Chambord was in my desk at work while at Boeing after seeing an executive with an 8-cup model in his office.) The two Brazils went straight into my suitcases, because I like to take them on travel (not that I’m going anywhere anytime soon.)
And, finally, my little Apple Master contraption is now whole and complete again, after however long it was since the rubber vacuum cup broke on the bottom:
BF is going to help me replace the rusted fork soon. He has no idea what this thing is for–and that’s just fine, because then he won’t touch it and hurt himself, either!
Online Ordering From HEB
For my Texas peeps: You probably know about HEB’s new curbside ordering service. Well. . .they also ship. Nearly anywhere in the US, as a matter of fact. Recently, I ordered me some coffee! A bag of decaf Taste of San Antonio and a bag of decaf Breakfast Blend. The next order will include bigger 2 pound bags and a supply of decaf espresso for cappuccino and lattes at home. Even with shipping, it’ll be cheaper than $15 at Starbucks for it (not that I don’t like Starbucks, either.)
Love the new packaging, too. The previous packaging was nice, and had been in use since I started buying their coffee in 1998. I guess it was time for a refresh.
Plus, there’s all those things I can buy with Hatch chiles in them, including salsa. I’m happy that I can get canned Hatch chiles in Winn-Dixie, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market. But there will be more online ordering from HEB in the coming months, because there are a lot of things I want that I just can’t get here. In the case of the large bottle of coarse-ground pepper, it’s available and cheaper than the small bottle I can get at Albertson’s in Hammond. I so miss my HEB.
No Toaster Oven Yet
In my online shopping forays, I remember companies that I’ve bought from some time ago and see if I still have an account with them. In the case of Overstock, I actually do. I’ve updated it with my new email and snail mail address, and I get their emails again.
The last time I ordered from them was in 2005, when I ordered a pair of earrings to go with a necklace. This was years before Comfy Earrings were created, and it was for a formal night out. The completed order was still there, with the comment that it is now “past the return window.” I still have the earrings, I’ve worn them once or twice since, but the jewelry is packed up for a wedding that’s in our future (we’ll be guests, not participants.)
I’ve been saving my Bed, Bath And Beyond Coupons for a long time for the day I get a new toaster oven. Upon checking the Overstock website, I discovered that not only do they sell the one I want, they also sell it as a refurbished model.
I can even get one nearly the same as the one I had before I moved, the one that didn’t make the trip well, as a refurbished model. How have I missed this?
So, at some point, soon there will be a new toaster oven, finally, and this time around, it may be the less-expensive refurbished option. I miss my toaster oven so much. Since winter is pretty much done now, it’s time for a new one, especially since BF is complaining that he’s tired of anything slow-cooked.
Presenting The New Dishwasher!
Now, let’s talk about something I bought out of urgent, utter necessity.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment you’ve been waiting for. The relocated HeatCageKitchen in the Casa de Rurale now has a counter-top dishwasher:
You’re probably thinking, “that’s a dishwasher?” Yeup. There’s a reason for it, too. Much like the new glasses, I really needed it.
I’ve been really busy, and I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon. In fact, both of us are. BF works a rotating 40-hour-per-week shift, plus he does some mechanic work for folks. I work on client work in between all that plus dishes, laundry, hound care, cat care and other stuff. Well, the dishes were really piling up, and BF just does *not* do dishes. Without disclosing any TMI, it was getting ridiculous, but he didn’t see a problem. I needed a dishwasher, darnit.
Not For HGTV
You have to understand that this house is an old “mother-in-law house,” literally built to accommodate someone’s elderly mother. Not exactly ergonomically or functionally designed, you understand. But it’s paid for, and BF is proud of that fact, even if there are a number of things that are left to be desired (as well as repaired.) Like a dishwasher!
In the kitchen, there really isn’t a way to install a dishwasher without remodeling the whole kitchen. Neither of us have that kind of money, even to get stuff from IKEA. I’m not spending money to renovate a house that will never belong to me. So. . .we manage. Until we can’t.
I’ve been spending hours trying to catch up on washing dishes by hand at the expense of everything else. I finally got tired of it one night and yelled at BF about it. Just annoyed as the dickens that I’m the one doing all the dishes. Sometimes the clean laundry can been piled up for a while. But then, I got an idea. . . .
Enter The Compact Appliance
When most people think of kitchen appliances, they think of the full-size versions–refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, laundry appliances, etc. But smaller compact versions? You can get a small fridge, some with freezers, pretty readily. But compact dishwashers? You don’t see them in places like Lowe’s, Home Depot, or even Walmart–but they’re available if you know where to look.
One night I got to thinking. . . what about a counter top dishwasher? Do they exist? I set out to do some research, and it didn’t take long–they’re everywhere! Again, if you know what you want and where to look.
Note that I am not talking about the electric automatic potato peeler BF’s daughter has. I’m talking about important stuff here.
The first place I tend to go for research when I’m considering or looking for something is Amazon. Love them or hate them, they have just about anything you could want. Even if you don’t buy, you can research for free, and read comments by people who have bought these items. I know they’re not all accurate, but you can get an idea of what to expect.
Amazon has a range of dishwasher models, small and regular sized. I didn’t know you could still buy full-sized portable dishwashers that you can roll around. They have some, although they cost more than the countertop model.
Of the models that Amazon had, both the websites for Target and Walmart had many of the same ones with more reviews.
At the bottom of the Target website was a series of those “sponsored links.” One of them was to a site I’d visited many years before and forgot about.
And then there’s this site. I’ve known about them for many years, but never bought from them.
Years ago, I’d planned on buying a very small chest-type freezer for the condo I moved out of in 2016. I went to the Clear Lake location of the chain appliance store, Conn’s, but they didn’t want to talk about anything but “the great financing we can do for you!” That, of course, is how they actually make a profit, I believe. I walked out.
I knew about the freezer, and it was about $100, but they didn’t seem to like the idea that I would either write a check or give them my debit card to pay in full and walk out with it. (It was small enough to easily fit in The Mighty Saturn.) I never got around to going back, and never bought one, despite the thought staying way in the back of my mind.
I really, REALLY don’t like being treated like that, and I generally won’t return to a place that tries to force a financing contract on me. That’s why I never went back to Conn’s.
There was another occasion I was thinking about something else, and I came across Compact Appliance’s website. In addition to compact appliances, they also have full-size appliances like Conn’s and Lowe’s and the like. I should have signed up for their emails, but I didn’t. Well, I finally did.
After looking at Amazon’s website, there were a couple of dishwashers I was going to consider buying, even if I was a bit concerned about the possibility of returning it if it didn’t work.
Not a matter of *if” I bought a dishwasher, you understand, just a matter of *when.* And I let BF know about it. He just gave me that look that says, “I smile because I have no idea what’s going on.” Like the day he looked into the pantry after I’d unpacked all my stuff in there. (It still needs a reorg.) BF says he doesn’t mind about anything I do in the house. Good thing.
His main concern was spending a lot of money on a brand neither of us had ever heard of. I agreed, but three hours of washing dishes by hand was getting to be too much. This solves the problem, and it’s not built-in. And yes, if I ever decide to move back to Texas, I can pack it and take it with me. (He can buy his own!)
I got paid, and I had enough to order one on December 27th. I got a 5% discount for signing up for their emails, and free shipping. Should I have a problem, they’re ready to help–I asked before I bought. I think there were three phone calls before I finally ordered.
I waited for its arrival. Meantime, I bought some of this stuff:
Reading all that I had, everyone said that the gelpacs worked the best. Having used three different types, I have to agree–they dissolve quickly and cleanly, and leave no powdery residue. A couple of times, I’ve put stuff in there that accidentally blocked the little door, and I had to run it again because the powder cakes in the compartment. So gelpacs it is.
Two Days Later
I was sitting at my desk when the FedEx driver rolled up. I had my office mini blinds open, and BF was asleep. And then the dogs started barking (they were inside because it was so cold out.) And then I ran through the house, yelling, “It’s Here! It’s Here!” He took this as his cue to start moving around, put some warm clothes on and get out to the patio to get it into the house.
While he did that, I had a nice chat with the FedEx driver, who is a single mother of 4, lives in nearby Mississippi, and would also like to work from home. I gave her an intro card from SGI-USA, taught her how to chant, and gave her the “elevator pitch.” She was open to the idea, and thanked me for the card. (She also dropped off another Vitacost package a couple of weeks later.)
The Box Opens
Of course, I was so excited to open this box that I didn’t take any pictures. BF started carefully cutting open the taped edges, and removed the machine with equal care to put it on the counter top.
I had to read the manual first, to make sure I didn’t do something wrong. It was pretty simple. Truth is, They put the owner’s manual as a PDF on the website so you can look at it before you buy it. How’s THAT for good customer service?
Oh, dear–mine isn’t on the website right now. However, this is a similar model, and the manual is available there, down the right side. Hmmmm. . .well, anyway. . . .
How It Works
It hooks up to the sink with a couple of little hoses, and a screw-in metal bit that screws into your faucet, once you remove the diffuser:
The plastic you see on the right clips onto the metal. Turn on the water, turn on the machine, and you’re washing dishes!
These are also great for offices and labs, if you didn’t know that. But in a small kitchen, or where you can’t install a dishwasher, it’s awesome.
I would also like to point out that BF graciously replaced the kitchen faucet that’s been problematic for a long time. The hot water leaked so much that in order to use hot water, you had to turn it on under the sink. That problem, thankfully, has now been eliminated. Plus we have one with that little sprayer thingy that’s plumbed separately into the water line, too. Isn’t he sweet? (The bathroom faucet is also due for replacement, but it hasn’t happened yet.)
The little red button on the right is for water. Just push and you get some out. Be careful though, because it’s like a fire hose. And, don’t use it while the machine is filling.
It runs a lot like a laundry washing machine, really, off the water supply. There are some on Amazon who say they can plumb it directly into the water line, but BF’s not going for that, and I don’t mind, either. It’s not been that much trouble to use. We don’t have to unscrew that bit, although we could do that. Works just fine the way we have it.
So What’s It Like To Use?
Well, in a word, AWESOME. But there’s a few caveats I have to tell you about while I explain all this.
Since it’s smaller, it obviously won’t hold as much as a full-sized machine The idea behind the design is service for six, that is, six dinner, salad and dessert plates, drinking glasses, coffee cups (small flat ones) and cutlery. But of course you can wash other stuff in there, too.
Bigger than a microwave oven, it holds quite a lot, but that bowl takes up a lot of room. That’s OK.
You may be wondering why the dishes are wet. That’s another caveat–it doesn’t have a “dry” cycle like the big ones we’re all used to. So what do you do? You can dry them by hand, pull the rack out and let them dry, or unload them into a dish drain or on a draining towel so they dry on their own. I usually just pull the rack out, but if I need to use it again, I just unload them and start the next load. Believe me, it’s OK, too.
When you’re ready, drop in your detergent:
Turn it on:
Then touch the start button:
When you touch the start button, the colon between the numbers blinks, and it starts in ten seconds. I haven’t tried the delay function yet. Or that other one. . .better read the manual again, yes?
The big round knob gives you several cycles to chose from I just like the hour-and-fifteen-minute cycle, but you can chose whichever you like, from the nearly two-hour cycle to the ten minute “rinse them off” cycle.” When the detergent caked on, I picked it all out, moved the obstruction and used the 45 minute cycle for the re-run.
Whenever the cycle finishes, it beeps and the numerical readout goes back to the original time of the cycle. I just turn it off, open it up, pull the rack out, turn off the water, pop the pressure and remove the hookup from the faucet, letting it drain into the sink. The whole cycle only uses about 3.5 gallons of your hot water! And it makes a neat “moaning” sound when the water flows out of it into the sink. I just roll the hoses up behind the dishwasher after they’re drained, I’m done with the washing and that’s it.
The Last Caveat
Obviously this wonderful machine can’t wash as much, or everything that a full-sized one can. Again, that’s OK. Also, I’m not naive enough to think I’ll never hand wash again; far from it. Big pots, cast-iron skillets, and a few other things that can’t be washed in the dishwasher will always have to be hand-washed. I can handle that. But for everyday dishes, coffee cups, flatware and other smaller things, this dishwasher has been a wonderful thing. I’ve spent as long as 3+ hours catching up dishwashing. I hope I don’t have to do that anymore, and so far, I haven’t.
I was so happy to finally get this dishwasher. Is it wrong to love a kitchen appliance? Well, I got this one because it’s much easier to get than the Suzy Homemaker model:
And I think mine holds more, anyway.
I kept talking about my new dishwasher on Facebook, and well, I guess it’s one of those things you look and go, “oh, how nice.” But one gentleman, who I’ve never met in person, ended up buying his own dishwasher right after I bought this one (the same one, too.) He lives in a 900-square-foot “fifth wheel,” an expanded trailer kind of thing. He’s a single guy, lives alone and hates washing dishes. So. . .I made him happy, too. He loves his as much as I love mine. Isn’t Facebook great?
What Else I Learned On Facebook
Well, if you have dogs that do not want to take a bath, there’s a way to make it easier. Get a jar of cheap peanut butter and smear some on the walls of your bathtub or shower stall. Lead them to it, let them have it, and wash while they lick the peanut butter off the wall. Think I’m joking? I’m not, and it works like a charm. It’s how I washed a 65-pound pit bull today, as well as a 25-pound mutt.
BF says it’s “cheating.” I say it works, and nobody’s keeping score, so who cares?
Caveat: if you let the dog lick the utensil, don’t put it back into the jar. If you do, make sure you mark the jar “DOG ONLY.” Or you’ll be eating the dog’s peanut butter. (Because BF couldn’t remember if he did or not.)
The New Addiction
This little detergent scoop comes with the dishwasher, along with some other plastic parts I’m not yet sure about:
I was thinking, “Wow, a little Command Hook right there will keep it where it won’t get lost.” Indeed, it does.
Unfortunately, I’m now addicted to Command Hooks.
There are lots of boards and pins dedicated to organizing your home with these babies, but there aren’t all that many “new ideas.” Most are the same ones recirculated, although I wish I’d known about hanging curtains with the bigger ones a long time ago. However, they’re all quite useful ideas:
I got this idea from one of the articles suggesting putting a measuring cup on a hook on your cereal container (it was oatmeal in a plastic bin.) It works, just like this one that’s also quite useful:
It was the first binder clip I could put my paws on, you understand. And then there’s this:
Now, I actually had a large cup hook there, but it’s just sheetrock. I put it there to cover the old landline phone jack, because, well, we have cell phones, so who cares, right? But the cup hook kept falling out, and the little picture fell a few times, so–Command Hook to the rescue!
This is BF’s oven mitt, which was hanging by a nail, and knocked to the floor many times. Not anymore.
And there are more in the house, including the bathroom. 3M actually makes a specific type to use in the bathroom to withstand the extra humidity.
I’ve also hung up my yoga mat bags on the back of a door, individually, with bigger hooks.
How Did I Miss These?
When I moved to the condo in 2004, I bought a Command Hook to put up a thingy I made to hang extra rolls of bathroom tissue on the back of the door. I put the tape on backwards, but it stayed up, and the hook was there when I left. (I’m sure it’s gone now, but who cares?)
But they were relatively new then, and somewhat expensive. Guess I didn’t pay enough attention over the years, and then life got much more complicated. But now there’s a huge selection of these sticky-tape products, and they can do quite a lot of things, without putting holes in the walls.
So now when we go somewhere (especially if we head up to Hammond), I’m fond of telling BF, “We need some Command Hooks.” He asks, “what kind?” I respond, “I don’t know–I just know we need some.” (We probably need more of the tapes, though.) Alternately, I’ll tell him, “Oh my GOD! I haven’t bought any Command Hooks lately!” He either ignores me or looks at me funny. As usual.
Until Next Time
If you were wondering how the heck you’d get a dishwasher in your kitchen, I hope I gave you an option. I’m loving mine, and I know my Facebook friend RG is loving his, because he tells me. I’m always looking for other options and alternatives, because I know in this world, they do exist. (I can’t answer for other worlds, don’t ask me.) With both the dishwasher and the Command Hooks, it was a matter of “what took you so long?”
Hope I’ve helped someone out today. I’m looking for new stuff all the time, I just don’t always find stuff to write about.