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Cookbook Review: Vegetarian Keto In 30 Minutes

Vegetarian and keto are two words many people believe are incompatible. Emilie Bailey, a/k/a “The Texas Granola Girl,” is here to show you that they can work together.

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Hi, Again, Dear Readers:

Well, we’re a couple of weeks into 2022. Have you forgotten your resolutions already? Not me! I haven’t made any. After the last two years, who’s doing that, anyway?

Mother Nature’s bipolar weather patterns are literally having us all use our heaters at night and air conditioners during the day and then swap in a couple of days. This week we may be looking at snow in our area, and north Houston will not be spared that winter treat. (The prospect of snow does not make BF very happy.)

New Readers

I discovered recently that I have two new readers. Welcome! This humble little blog is nine years old and contains information about food, cooking, foodie trends, some health and wellness, and the occasional contrarian opinion. Also included are anecdotes and sometimes extra information that may or may not be useful, depending on your perspective. New trends (i.e., the Instant Pot and the Air Fryer) are highlighted as well as updates and features from other bloggers who write more than I do. Stick around, you might find something you like. Check out my recipe page, which I need to update soon.

So let’s jump right into 2022!

The Post-Holiday Reset

The rich food of the holidays is over, and it’s time to get back to eating healthier. Hobby Lobby had this, and, well:

Hatch chile bacon ranch dip

I couldn’t resist.

Yes, died and went to heaven. It’s fantastic with corn chips. Until I got halfway through the jar and read the ingredients. First up: sugar. I was heartbroken, but it didn’t stop me. I did buy one more, and that was the end of the dip.

Plus, I gave in to the Cranberry Bliss Bar, despite the large price increase since my first in about 2007:

Starbucks bag with cranberry bliss bar on label

I’ve never forgotten these since my first

BF was not interested in this Starbucks holiday standard, and I can’t even get him interested in trying a little bit. But copycat recipes abound, so I could conceivably make some any time of year, such as the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

But today, it’s time to re-set and get back to eating healthier. I fell off the wagon a few times, but not for the entire six weeks.

Getting A Move On

I’m exercising when I can, and bought this “resolution” back in June:

 

Sunny Health And Fitness Squat Assist Row-N-Ride™ Trainer for Glutes Workout with Training Video

The Sunny Health And Fitness Row & Ride (picture from Amazon)

Called the Sunny Health & Fitness Row N’ Ride, I use it less than I should. That’s probably why I end up with sore muscles. The first day I used it I was crab-walking for four or five days–my legs really hurt! When I bought mine, it was less than $100. Part of the reason was so that I could exercise without doing any more damage to my foot. I’m also conscious of possible knee problems with walking, as well as gaining good lower-body strength. So I need to make more time for this baby.

The mail lady was not happy about delivering the 25-pound package. (It does require some assembly, which BF cheerfully handled because he’s a guy.) She remembers when BF shipped home boxes of tools and things before he returned from Iraq.

If you consider buying the Row ‘N Ride, know that it has a strict 220-pound weight limit. That’s OK for me, BF, Miss Alice, and Aunt Ruth. But not for one of BF’s car-guy friends, who has himself gone keto and lost a considerable amount of weight. The man is also well over six feet and over that weight limit, so I had to stop him from hopping on my machine. The company makes a Pro model with a weight limit of 300 pounds, which would be more suited for him.

Sunny Health & Fitness has a wide range of home health equipment, from small things like ab wheels and yoga mats to elliptical bicycles, rowing machines, and the Row & Ride. The company also has a YouTube channel that’s free. They frequently post content including workout videos on Instagram and Facebook. Many of their videos don’t require exercise equipment, such as body weight routines and even yoga.

For some folks, the New Year “diet” means going to or back to keto, low carb, paleo, low-fat, or whatever way of eating you prefer. Others may be considering the non-carnivore route. And for that, I’ve got your back.

Going Vegetarian?

I know, I know–the word “vegetarian” has you turned off already. Right now, I can hear you turning your nose up. (Except you, Miss Alice.) Well, today, I’m going to change that.

Vegetarian Keto In 30 Minutes

Tasty and fast!

Emilie Bailey’s newest book is all about vegetarian food that’s also keto-friendly. Vegetarian Keto In 30 Minutes has some wonderful recipes that both vegetarians and non-veg people alike can enjoy. Yes, even maybe BF. But we’re not converting, just eating some tasty and different recipes.

In the intro, Emilie explains that the recipes are quick, and don’t require any ingredients that are hard to get, even here, no complicated cooking methods, nor any expensive kitchen stuff. That’s appealing even to non-vegetarians like myself.

Vegetarian Keto

“Yes, but, Amy, isn’t keto all about eating lots of organic meat and dairy?” No, it isn’t, actually. Keto, as I’ve said previously, is pretty much “Low Carb 2.0.” There are macros, but not really calorie counting. The thing is, you can’t over-eat fat without upsetting or hurting your stomach. Real fats make you stop at some point, whereas you can overeat carbs all day long.

If you’ve ever polished off a bag of chips and salsa, you know what I’m talking about. Don’t get me started on chips and salsa in a Mexican restaurant. If you’re in Texas, you know very well what that means.

Emilie’s book takes keto into the vegetarian genre of cooking, because she enjoys vegetables, and had plenty of recipes to focus just on this type. When most people hear the word “vegetarian,” the words that come to mind tend to be things like “bean sprouts,” “wheatgrass” and “soybean ‘meat.'” I’m happy to tell you this is not the case in Emilie’s book. The recipes aren’t difficult, either, and there’s something for nearly everyone here.

The short review: good food to be had here, and you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy them. Honest.

Types Of Vegetarians

If you’re not completely familiar with the concept, there are a few “flavors” of the non-meat genre:

  • Vegetarians, who just don’t eat meat
  • Pescatarians, who are vegetarians but also eat fish
  • Lacto-vegetarians, who consume dairy but no eggs
  • Ovo-vegetarians, who consume eggs but no dairy
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians, who consume both dairy and eggs
  • Flexitarians, who generally don’t eat meat but do once in a while or alternate between veg and carnivore
  • Vegans, who only consume plant-based foods, including plant milk and  products like almond, soy, oat, rice, and others
  • Raw vegans, who eat plant-based food that’s uncooked, or “unprocessed plant foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.” (I’ll pass–I still like sweet potato fries, thanks.)

Emilie’s book focuses on lacto-ovo recipes. There are multiple egg-based recipes in the book, one of which I’ll show you.

Why Go Vegetarian?

Everyone has a different reason for going veg. You can ask five people and you’ll get five completely different and diverse answers.

Miss Alice accidentally became vegetarian, no kidding. During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, she and her daughter were running low on things, so she just ate rice and veg and gave her daughter the protein. Discovering she liked being vegetarian, and it worked for her, Miss Alice kept up with it. Because she included fish, that actually made her a pescatarian.

Many people have a specific idea of what the word means. Walk into nearly any American grocery store, and you’ll see offerings like these:

Soyrizo

Chorizo made of soy.

I can’t say I know any Hispanic folk who would welcome that in their tamales. Or any gringos, for that matter. But there is a market, and our local Walmart carries it. I pass it up the same way I did in Texas. But there are people who buy these products, just not me.

I have tried being vegetarian a few times, I really did. Gave up quickly because was always so hungry. Well, I didn’t have a book like this. As with many things, It’s a matter of finding what works best for you and sticking with it.

So let’s try out a few of these recipes and see what’s good.

Versatile Sandwich Round, Page 31

Do you like a good English Muffin? Here you go.

Emilie says that bread is one of the first things people miss when they go to keto. She’s right–no sandwiches, which is a shame unless you have a substitute. Well, thanks to Emilie, you can make anything from an eggy breakfast sandwich to avocado toast anytime. Pretty much anything you want to put between two slices of bread will work on this little sandwich round, even bacon, egg, and cheese.

Recipe for Versatile Sandwich Round

Easy and fast to make

You’ll need a little ramekin dish that’s safe to use in the microwave and just a few ingredients.

Keto vegetarian bread

The setup

Mix up everything in the little bowl:

Egg dropping in bowl

First the egg (I know, my hands look awful)

Almond flour:

Almond flour dropping in bowl

And the rest, then mix well:

Mixing ingredients

Then microwave for 90 seconds on high, or a few seconds longer as needed.

I don’t have a picture of it cooking, but this is what comes out:

Finished keto bread round

See? A little English Muffin!

Flip it out onto a plate, carefully, because it is quite hot:

Keto bread round on plate

That’s the bottom

To make a sandwich, cut it in half lengthwise with a serrated knife:

Cutting keto bread round in half

 

Halved sandwich round

Ready for sandwich making

You’re probably wondering what I did next. Well, it would have been avocado toast if I’d bothered to toast the round at this point. But I didn’t. I just mashed up a ripe one:

Pouring olive oil into mashed avocado

Just a little olive oil and salt to make a nice paste.

Then spread it liberally onto the halved rounds:

Avocado toast on rounds

Like this! (The seed is saved for planting later because they do sprout.)

I didn’t bother showing this to BF, because I knew what would happen. Well, he came inside just after I finished it. He took one look at this and said, “oh, look, the cat threw up on your plate.” Thanks, Honey, I really appreciate that. Wait until you discover what *you’re* having for dinner. (Hint: it’s whatever YOU make.)

This little eggy thing is about the size of a standard English muffin. It’s useful for any manner of sandwiches you like, veg or non-veg. And if you’re missing bread at dinnertime, this is a great option, too. Cut it in half, or cut it as I did, then cut it again into quarters from the top, so you have four half-moons. Next time I’ll try to toast it too.

A few years ago I thought that Hamilton Beach’s amazing little Breakfast Sandwich Maker was the most wonderful thing ever. It makes breakfast sandwiches in five minutes or so, and you don’t have to leave your house! No drive-through window nonsense, either. Made correctly, you could use the Versatile Bread Round to make yourself a keto–and even non-vegetarian–breakfast quickly.

Emilie also offers a sweet version, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Turmeric & Avocado Egg Salad, Page 87

Ok, I’m going to issue a warning right up front: this dish is delicious, but it has a very strong tart taste. Like I wouldn’t even try it with BF. I’m not saying it’s bad, because it isn’t–this is a flavorful recipe. But the next time I may cut the lime and capers in half because I couldn’t eat it too fast. It opened up my sinuses, too. It’s that strong.

Keto egg salad recipe

It’s a different take on egg salad.

The Setup:

Ingredients for keto egg salad

Except I think I forgot cilantro, which can be hard to find here sometimes.

Although Emilie tells you how to boil eggs, you know what I used:

Dash egg cooker

And why not? Because you can plug it into the generator, too.

Once they were ready, I got started scooping out the avocado:

Pitted avocado half

I could eat this with a pinch of sea salt, and often have.

Mash it up in a bowl:

Mashing avocado

A good, soft avocado is easy, just like mashing a ripe banana.

Now add in the rest:

Adding lime zest to keto egg salad

Lime zest

Then the juice of the lime:

Adding lime juice

Love this squeezer tool, but I will be replacing it soon.

Adding mayonnaise

I made this mayo myself from an original Suzanne Somers recipe in her first cookbook.

Then the capers:

Chopped capers on a board

These are VERY strongly flavored–so it’s a no for BF.

Drop them in with the minced up onion:

Tablespoon of chopped red onion

Drop that right in

Then the turmeric

Pouring turmeric into bowl

For flavor and color

Salt:

Adding salt to bowl

Then Pepper:

Adding pepper to egg salad

That’s everything.

Then take care of the eggs and add them in:

Chopping eggs and adding in

I’ve broken that egg slicer and have had to replace it.

Stir it all up:

Stirring the keto egg salad

Make sure it’s all mixed well.

Tah-dah!

Turmeric and avocado keto egg salad

There it is.

This recipe actually made two servings:

Two servings of keto egg salad

One for today, one for tomorrow, none for BF.

But I haven’t made this pucker-your-lips recipe since! For someone who is totally vegetarian, though, it might be OK.  I’ve read that vegetarians have a higher tolerance for spicier foods, and this definitely fits that bill.

Open-Faced Pizza Omelette, Page 60

Who among us has never had leftover pizza for breakfast? Well, OK, maybe you, Aunt Kathy, but even you can love this one.

Yes, Dear Readers, I actually have had pizza for breakfast. Twelve years ago, in the middle of June, while I was working for Boeing, I got really, really sick with some kind of bug that was going around–fever, chills, coughing, the whole horrible bit. I was told by coworkers and colleagues that it was “something the Shuttle people brought back from Russia,” and I was one of the last people who became ill. Camped out on the futon, I watched a lot of TV under a wool blanket with two big, hairy cats (weight total: 40 pounds) on top. In June, of course. I didn’t want to make anyone else ill.

For about two weeks, I had pizza delivered a couple of times, because I was just too sick to cook for myself. It was also when I discovered Pea & Pesto Soup. I started making the delicious soup after I quickly got sick of delivered pizza and Taco Cabana takeout. I’d been growing basil, so the pesto took a few minutes of prep.

Fast-forward twelve years, and now pizza for breakfast is a) keto, b) vegetarian, c) easy, and d) tasty. And, really, you can have it anytime you want a delicious pizza thing. What kind of crust, you ask? Eggs!

Keto Pizza

So, this dish isn’t too far away from a normal omelet. Somehow I didn’t get a shot of the ingredients, but this is the recipe with the list:

Recipe for keto pizza omelet

Pretty standard stuff

And because I made my own pizza sauce:

Frozen homemade pizza sauce

Easy to make and tastes fantastic.

It really did taste like a well-made pizza. I’ve used this sauce on Caulipower pizza crusts, and it works great.

First, make the base by melting the butter over medium low heat.

Butter in small pan

Doesn’t take but a minute

In case you’re wondering why there’s salt in there, I’ll explain. Emilie’s recipes call for salted butter, which I never have in the fridge. So I toss in a touch of kosher salt to hopefully make up for it.

And, this little cast-iron pan is just the right size. Bought two of these as well as two small covered cast-iron cocottes at Bed Bath and Beyond a couple of years ago, thinking I could make a quick dinner with them in the countertop oven. Well, I’ve used them, just not as much as I thought.

Meantime, mix up the two eggs, a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, a quarter-teaspoon of Italian seasoning, pepper, and salt.

Mixing eggs

For this purpose, the mixing cup works better.

Pour this egg mixture into the little pan:

Pouring egg mixture into pan

Now do you see why the mixing cup works for this?

Let it cook (no stirring) for a couple of minutes:

Eggs cooking on stove

That small pan is just right!

Cover it and let it cook another 3 or 4 minutes:

Pan covered on stove cooking eggs

Lucky me, I have this old Cranberry Corning lid that sort of fits.

Once it’s cooked, take the cover off and add the pizza (or marinara) sauce, other toppings, and of course, the cheese:

Adding cheese to pizza

Right on top–a quarter cup of mozzarella cheese, and the second tablespoon of Parm.

Cook on the stove for another minute. Next, turn on the broiler, which in this case is in the countertop oven, and put the pan on the bottom rack:

Adding pan into oven

Almost ready!

Shut the door for a minute or two:

Pizza is cooked

Breakfast is ready!

Your Pizza Omelet is ready. And what’s better for a delicious lunch or even dinner than a dessert from Emilie’s first book, some Blackberry Cobbler?

Pizza Omelet with Blackberry Cobbler

It doesn’t get any better–or keto–than this!

BF would not touch it, despite his enjoyment of bacon or sausage and eggs for breakfast and pizza when he wants to eat his way. Well, I enjoyed it, anyway. And for the record, he does like the keto blackberry cobbler, too.

Dark Chocolate-Macadamia Clusters, page 126

What would any cookbook be without dessert? Again, Emilie doesn’t disappoint with a chapter called Sweets & Treats, including 11 dessert recipes. One even has grilled peaches!

For me, though, I wanted chocolate.

Picture of chocolate macadamia clusters recipe

Not too many ingredients, either

True to her word, Emilie’s ingredient list isn’t difficult to acquire.

Ingredients for chocolate macadamia clusters

The Setup

For most recipes, I am generally limited by what I can find at Walmart and Winn-Dixie. I only get to Rouses occasionally, so when I want to get something I can’t find locally, I buy extra and stash it in the pantry or freezer. Fortunately, I could get everything at Walmart.

Lucky for us, sugar-free chocolate chips are available here, and I’ve been buying them ever since. Walmart carries other varieties, like this newcomer to the candy game.

LIly's sugar free chocolate chips

More sugar-free chocolate.

Unfortunately, I tried some of these and didn’t care for them. Well, they were clearance-marked pumpkin spice, but I wasn’t impressed. So I’ve passed on these for the Hershey’s, and because the Hershey’s bag is bigger.

Melt 1.5 cups in the microwave:

Melting chocolate chips with coconut oil

Just like that, but keep an eye on it.

Stop it and stir every 20 seconds. It should take 1 minute, 20 seconds to complete, but stir it until it’s completely melted and mixed with the oil. Then add in the half-teaspoon of vanilla.

Stir in vanilla

All nice and smooth.

Add in 1.5 cups of roasted and salted macadamia nuts:

1.5 cups macadamia nuts

I was very surprised to find these locally.

Drop them right in and mix:

Mixing macadamia nuts into melted chocolate

Maybe I should have chopped them a little first

Once they’re all coated in chocolate, start dropping them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Dropping chocolate onto parchment paper

Almost there

Until you’ve finished:

Sheet of chocolate macadamia clusters

YUM!!

At this point, you’re supposed to sprinkle a touch of flaked sea salt on top of each one. Of course, I forgot. And I have a nearly-full box of Maldon’s Sea Salt, too.

Now stash them in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes, and they’re ready to eat:

Chocolate Macadamia Clusters

Dessert!

The other mistake is not realizing that these macadamia nuts were raw. I should have put them into the little oven for a few minutes and then maybe salted them. I don’t normally keep macadamia nuts around, and because I didn’t care for these, I’m inclined to avoid them. On the other hand, I might check Winn-Dixie or Rouse’s to see if they have them roasted, then try this recipe again. Because, chocolate.

Store these in the fridge in an airtight container, nibble at will. Just not all at once.

Frozen Hot Chocolate, Page 129

This was actually the first recipe I tried in the book. There’s a reason for that. Besides, it was hot out, and it was just after Hurricane Ida, in the days after we had power restored.

A few weeks prior at Rouses, I saw a can of coconut milk. I bought it, because I keep seeing it in recipes but can’t remember which one. Well, darn it, that can came home with us, and I soon found a use for it.

Recipe for Frozen Hot Chocolate

Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list.

I keep almond milk around for several reasons, including running out of milk for coffee. Intrigued by the name, I grabbed my little blender.

Hamilton Beach smoothie blender

I like having one around for small jobs, smoothie or not.

I won’t question Emilie’s naming convention, but technically it’s not “hot chocolate.” It is, however, a pretty tasty concoction. More like a dairy-free chocolate shake. Who wouldn’t like that?

I’ll admit the ingredients are not what you’d think of in a standard chocolate shake:

Ingredients for Frozen Hot Chocolate

The Setup

Note: after I took this picture, swapped out the Mexican vanilla for a different one that was actually sugar-free.

Adams Vanilla Extract

This kind, I’ve bought since I lived in Houston.

You’re probably thinking, “Amy, why is there an avocado there?” Sometimes there are ingredients in my blog pictures that are for another recipe, or just happen to be caught on camera. But this time, it is part of the recipe. Now you’re thinking, “enough with the avocado!” They’re not in *every* recipe, I promise.

I also made it when BF wasn’t around, and he only saw the finished product.

So you add the ingredients into the little blender:

blending ingredients in small blender

Including THAT:

Scooped avocado

Yes, the magic ingredient is a tablespoon of avocado

Blend it well:

Blending mixture

Pulsing rather than holding the button works best

I know you see the little green bits at the top. Just scrape down the sides with a spatula and keep blending. Then add your ice cubes:

Adding ice cubes to the blender

Makes it nice and cold, perfect on a hot day

Blitz again, and it’s ready:

Frozen hot chocolate in glass

Delicious!

It does taste a bit different, and the coconut milk is subtle but present.

I did ask BF to try it in a sweet tone of voice.  I cornered him on the sofa, where he was looking at yet another Big Foot video on YouTube, and asked him to PLLEEEEZZZE try a little sip. Reluctantly (and with a funny look on his face), he took the tiniest of sips. “It’s missing something,” he declared. And he felt like it wasn’t sweet enough.

I’ll agree, I felt like it needed to be a bit sweeter, but that’s OK, too:

Stevia in a bottle

The secret weapon!

It wasn’t until the next day that I informed him it contained a tablespoon of avocado. You actually can’t taste the avocado, even if you know it’s there. Mostly, I think, it’s for adding viscosity and healthy fat. Then he made a face and pretended to get upset at me. But that’s all in the fun of helping him try new things.

Occasionally, he likes something that he thinks he won’t (especially if I don’t tell him what’s in it.) For a recipe that works, I write in the cookbook, Winner! Make Again! That’s legally gathered evidence of his approval for future repeats, just in case.

There Is Tofu

Yes, there are several recipes for both tofu and turnips here, but not many. I’m allergic to raw soy, so I’m quick to avoid it. I’m sure they’re delicious in their own way–and I could make them with substitute ingredients, like meat. In fact, I might actually do that one day.

For instance: page 120’s Tofu-Stuffed Peppers With Feta could be converted by swapping out the 14-ounce package of extra firm tofu with, say, a pound of ground chicken or turkey. The two peppers are cut in half and laid on the side, used to hold the filling. Mix and bake as you would for the tofu, 25 minutes.

On page 84 is a Mushroom-Tofu Lettuce Wrap with Peanut Sauce, which might also be good with ground turkey or chicken in place of the tofu. The peanut sauce with soy/tamari, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, fresh ginger, and peanut butter sounds interesting. Wrapped in lettuce with some grilled chicken strips might be a nice summer lunch, too.

Think about it: in the same way one would use tofu in place of meat in a dish, the opposite is also true. So there’s no saying I won’t try a tofu-based recipe by swapping out the tofu. I just won’t make them when BF is home.

About Organic

Also found when buying ingredients for the Chocolate Macadamia Clusters were two items not normally found in Walmart:

Organic peanut butter and almond butter

Can you believe it?

The peanut butter is organic, but the almond butter isn’t. And the almond butter has no salt or sugar, which is unusual for anything you find at Walmart.

When you think “organic,” chances are the first thing you think of is “Whole Foods.” You’d be right–both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have a variety of organic foods, as does HEB and its upscale Central Market. In fact, on our last trip to TJ’s in December, we found some organic hot chocolate (in packets) for BF to enjoy. Whole Foods also has some organic hot chocolate in a can, with 22 grams of sugar in every serving. So understand that “organic” doesn’t always equate to healthy.

What It Means

Calling a product “organic” is more than just a name. The USDA has specific guidelines for the production of organic food, so it’s not just a term like “natural” or “healthy.” There is also a certification process that food producers must follow in order to have the seal on their labels.

I prefer to buy organic whenever I can, but I don’t do it all the time. For one thing, organic is more expensive because of the more intensive farming and processing practices involved, including the certification. Another is that not everything organic is necessarily better. Strawberries, yes, but bananas, not so much since you peel them to eat them (unless they’re marked down to sell fast–then you buy them and make banana bread!)

The FDA has a series of blogs called Organic 101:

Of course, no matter what, reading labels is essential for eating as healthy as you can.

Good Food No Matter Your Persuasion

Despite the “hippie” or “millennial” image that many people have of vegetarians, people from many walks of live became vegetarians for whatever reason. Miss Alice’s reason was practical and not as much of a choice as a decision, if that makes any sense. (As of late, she’s fallen back on the carnivore wagon, but she’s healing from injuries, too.)  Others make a conscious choice to avoid animal products, or just find avoiding meat less expensive. Again, everyone has a unique reason for going vegetarian.

For those of us who stay on the carnivore bandwagon, Emilie’s vegetarian keto book offers a range of recipes we might not think of otherwise. I see it as a supplement to her last two great keto books. It’s also an expansion of delicious keto recipes that I can enjoy and have in my pocket if someone drops by and says, “oh, I’m a vegetarian.” Mind you, the likelihood of that happening here in the middle of rural Louisiana is a bit low, but I like to be somewhat prepared for the remote possibility.

Another good reason to have this book: you’re out of meat, or you’re tired of the same old thing. Isn’t that reason enough?

Many thanks to Emilie and her publisher for sending me a copy and letting me preview the book, too.

Until Next Time

If you’re going keto, thinking about going vegetarian, or just want some new and different tasty dishes, Vegetarian Keto In 30 Minutes has 90 recipes that will keep you in tasty, healthy food that’s fast and easy to prepare all year long.

In the next blog, I have a non-keto, non-vegetarian recipe that involves one of Emilie’s occasional sponsors. However delicious, mine will not be a sponsored post.

Happy Dining!

 

 

 

 

Dash dog treat maker with dog treats
Post Holiday Catch-up For 2022

The holidays are done, and we’ve been quite busy since my last dispatch. Time for a New Year’s catchup, including our little dog Spencer.

Follow me on Bloglovin’

Hello, again, Dear Readers:

I’m sorry that it’s been three months since my last update. A lot has happened, some of which I won’t mention here. But since the hurricane, we have had much happening at the Casa de Rurale, and I’m just going to jump in and start somewhere.

Grab your cuppa, this is a long one. Here’s hoping your Holidays went well, wherever you are and whatever the weather.

The Tradition of Black-Eyed Peas

For the record, I did make black-eyed peas on New Year’s, using this delicious recipe from Stephanie O’Dea, that I’ve made before. I made it the first New Year’s I was here, and we really liked it. I made the full recipe, so we had it twice and I froze the rest for a fallback dinner for another night.

BF has an injured shoulder and might be having surgery to remove two bone chips. Ouch! This is in addition to my foot injury, which I’ll explain later. So, I’ll be playing Florence Nightingale soon. Told him he’ll need to eat healthier food so he can heal, but he doesn’t believe me. I also told him to admit the truth, and that he injured himself wrestling with BigFoot.

I still owe you a review of the Vegetarian Keto Cookbook by the Texas Granola Girl. It’s started, but I put the book down next to my desk, and I have not been able to finish that blog post. That’s hopefully going to be next.

Winter Vs. Summer

A popular meme on Facebook says that “Winter and Summer are fighting for custody of Texas.” Boy is that ever true, and we’re involved in it!

If you remember the freeze from last February, it looks like we had a break from winter this season. We had an 80-degree Christmas, and the next cold front came after New Year’s Day. My paint bucket garden has peppers, lettuce, a small amount of basil, green onions, sage, parsley, the recovered Meyer lemon tree, three or four sprouted avocado seeds that need planting elsewhere, and a little green tomato plant with flowers on it. In December! But that won’t be for much longer, some likely won’t make it to spring. The basil already took a hit with the sub-freezing temps last night.

This past weekend, West Texas saw sub-freezing temps and so did we. Hopefully, Texas is in better shape this time and ready to handle whatever comes its way. We’re warm, and have plenty of blankets, sweaters, hoodies, and socks. I miss the fireplace that I had in Houston, and I have to make up for it with the one I stream on TV from PlutoTV’s Crackling Yule Log Fireplace Channel. BF doesn’t understand.

The Post-Hurricane Cleanup Continues

We got some great firewood, and one day we’ll have it behind the house to use later. We know many people who are going to be out of their homes for quite a while.

A few weeks after power restoration, huge trucks with crew began appearing on our little back road, picking up more downed trees and branches. There are still multiple uprooted trees everywhere. Removal of these gigantic tree stumps will be quite a long time. Scenes like this are still common:

Half destroyed houst through a car window

Taken in Albany, LA, near a friend’s place. The house was literally shredded in half.

BF was able to get one backhoe operator (using a $20 bill) to give us a nice big log for the eventual wood stove he’s planning to install in the living room. After the February freeze, he decided that it would be the next phase of the “beautification project” for the Casa de Rurale. He even has one picked out.

In mid-November, more trucks began appearing with bigger equipment. This was a different company but doing the same thing.

This company didn’t observe property lines or boundaries, either.

While I was working in the back of the house, they rolled onto the property with a backhoe and attempted to take our firewood. It wasn’t on the side of the road—it was pushed far enough back to where they had to trespass on the property to get it, leaving huge marks in the grass. I caught them just in time, shooed them away, and threatened to call the cops.

Later that evening, BF was in the shop, and they came back attempting to do the same thing. He shooed them away too.

A couple of days later a nice lady came to the door from a different company that was “observing” the tree removal company. She said they were a “nightmare,” breaking the rules (and a few laws), and were terrible to deal with. They came in from Florida after winning the contract because they had the most experience. This lady said that she would mark our address as a “no go” or something. They never came back.

Rouses Recovery

Longtime readers understand my affinity for HEB, Texas’ homegrown chain that’s one of the oldest and most respected grocery companies in the US. But in Louisiana, one of the many homegrown grocers is Rouses. They carry many items that are more difficult to find where I am, including my favorite chocolate almond milk for hot chocolate. In the late summer, they’ve had Hatch chiles. Understandably, they didn’t do the in-store roasting this year, but they do have some in jars.

Hatch chiles in jars at Rouses

They still have Hatch chiles.

Never had them pickled before.

Rouses has a bi-monthly magazine that they have on racks by the doors. I pick them up when I see them, and I have been meaning to send one to Miss Alice. The November/December issue has recipes for some of their delicious cakes featured in the bakery, including our Hammond store.

This issue also has a fair amount of information about what they did for hurricane recovery after Ida’s landfall. This included how fast they could reopen their stores after the storm ended and recovery began. So many of their employees also suffered losses, many stores were heavily damaged, and everyone worked hard to get food and supplies into the stores for everyone who needed things. I, for one, was very glad to see our Hammond Rouse’s open, even if they did have floor fans drying up everything. That’s to be expected after rains and flooding and all that. (The Hobby Lobby next door also had roof damage and was closed for a couple of weeks.)

No, it isn’t HEB, and they don’t have a disaster recovery vehicle like HEB. But they do have a DR team that swung into action immediately. Now, I like Rouses a lot more than I already did. Many thanks to them for getting our Hammond store open again and making sure that people could get what they needed when it really counted.

The Karma Of Spare Parts: The Dishwasher Returns

After two months of hearing about the “worldwide supply chain disruptions,” I was really in a bad mood because I had to start hand-washing everything again.

Then I found myself with a stomach bug of some kind on Halloween. Mind you, I’d begun walking again in October, and made three miles on Saturday the 30th, no kidding. But the next morning, something got ahold of me, and I was horribly sick. I won’t describe it, but I was very “wrung out” for a week. That ended the walking, and I had a hard time standing up for too long.

I’d been washing all the dishes and kitchen things by hand since the day before Ida made landfall when the leaking began. Annoyed as I was, I donated the red dishes to a local thrift store and bought paper plates and bowls. That helped. BF didn’t. Nor was he happy about me giving away *his* dishes that used to be called “ours.”

But when I was ill, BF swung into action and took care of me best he could. He went to Walmart and got a heating pad and some Nut-Thins crackers so I could eat. I was hungry but my stomach was in very bad shape for three days. I was afraid of more stomach troubles than I already had.

On the third day, I went into the kitchen (he was back at work) and saw that three days of dishes were untouched. Piled in and around the sink and on the stove, the one thing he didn’t bother doing was dishes. I did ask, and he promised. It took an hour and a half to slog through the dishes before I could get anything to eat after three days of nut crackers.

I was REALLY unhappy at this point, as well as being unsteady on my feet.

Finding One

After finally getting some Pea & Pesto Soup, I pulled out the offending gasket and went looking online for something to replace it. I contacted a few online vendors that dealt in appliance parts, but none carried the replacement gasket for mine.

Then I thought: what about Amazon? It’s always a great place to start research, even if you don’t buy there. I’ve bought replacement gaskets for my Starbucks tumblers that I use daily. The original gaskets had long ago become moldy, and I knew it was a matter of time before they would break. I asked for suggestions on Facebook, and someone suggested I look there. It took a few tries, but I got bigger and heavier ones that work better for both cups. Could I have the same luck with the dishwasher?

It took a little while, but after a search on Amazon, I found just the thing. Took measurements, looked really closely at the pictures, and found one that I was sure would work. I simply needed to trim the gasket down to fit in the smaller space. I ordered one and immediately installed it when it arrived a week later, snipping it to fit. Ran the dishwasher, no leaking at all. I ordered a second as a spare and put everything in a Ziploc bag for later. Finally, the Heatcagekitchen Countertop Dishwasher is back in operation!

The first lesson learned: Amazon has a huge range of little parts and things like gaskets you can order when you can’t find them anywhere else. Just takes some careful looking around and searching.

The second lesson is that BF will get out of doing dishes anytime he can, which is all the time. This includes loading, running, and unloading the dishwasher.

Inflation

Chances are, you’ve noticed the sharp rise in the price of just about everything. It started about this time last year when the price of petrol started increasing. Shortly thereafter, the prices of everything else followed suit since shipping and transporting goods (especially food) increases with the price of fuel.

We’ve been trying to buy a little extra here and there because we know it’s going to get worse. I’ve also been looking for sales on coffee and stocking up. Mostly, It’s Community Coffee since that’s locally produced in Baton Rouge. Last week I found big packages of both pork roast and chicken at Winn-Dixie on sale to freeze in smaller bags for meals.

But BF is also buying extra things like rice, dried beans, and other things for long-term storage, as well as stashing extras in the freezer. He’s even talking about getting a bigger freezer to store more stuff. I’m sure there will be more deer sausage involved as well.

I have organized the big chest freezer with shopping bags, but I have to stop him from putting anything in there. He literally tosses things into the freezer without regard to the bags. How do you find anything like that?

We’re conscious of this, and yet we still haven’t cleaned up the pantry. I’ve asked for help, including some additional shelving to eliminate wasted space, but I’m on my own. So I have to find a time when I’m not doing anything else to clear everything out, clean it well, then replace and re-organize everything.

More Dash Appliances For The Holiday

Right before Christmas, I was in Target and discovered that they had a sale on some of Dash’s little appliances. I got two of them: the waffle stick maker, and the doggie treat maker. (This is a similar model on Amazon.)  I’ve been wanting to get the doggie treat maker for some time. I also got the waffle stick maker because I was making waffled falafel to take to this year’s Christmas party at BF’s workplace.

Dash waffle stick maker and waffled falafel mix

They were really easy to make and easier to eat.

BF, of course, continues to go around telling people that I’m trying to kill him with the quinoa and the awful falafel.”. (Not yet, I haven’t.) I thought it might be nice to make the falafel as waffle sticks, and it worked well. I, Miss Grace, and Miss Ruth (not to be confused with Aunt Ruth in Texas) enjoyed them.

Waffled falafel sticks in aluminum pan

Ready to transport!

Both the doggie treat and the waffle stick makers are slightly larger than the smaller round Dash mini waffle makers. Dash now makes a full-size waffle maker, as well as a full-sized waffle maker that makes 4 mini waffles at once.

Veggie Mash Waffle Sticks

If you follow Dash on Instagram, you’ll see there are frequent videos by a redhead who calls herself Ms. Dash, and she’s usually with young children. I don’t know if they’re her children or not, but she’s always making delicious recipes featuring a specific Dash product, many of them vegan.

One day Ms. Dash demonstrated a recipe for using leftover vegetables and turning them into a mash that you cook in the waffle stick maker. This gave me the idea to get one for the holiday party waffled falafel. I cooked some cauliflower in the CrockPot, and I added a little too much liquid.

It made a mash alright, but a very soupy one. The addition of coconut and almond flour didn’t help. Therefore, making them into waffle sticks was less than stellar. But the waffled falafel turned out great and even easier to eat.

Treats For The Pup

Now, in the case of the doggie treat maker, I had to buy some peanut butter and whole wheat flour (I know, I know), but I had canned pumpkin already.

Canned pumpkin with the doggie treat maker

Ready to roll!

It took a little while, and I decided to make a double batch. That wasn’t the wisest idea, unfortunately.

The pit bull gladly ate all we gave him. But because I didn’t let them completely cool, they went into the plastic zipper bag and became a bit damp. A week or so later, they had MOLD on them. They became possum food.

Banana-Flax Treats

Next up, some banana-based treats with flax and a few other ingredients. I didn’t make so many at once and let them cool completely then dry out a little to prevent them from going bad. I keep making them so the 85-pound “puppy” doesn’t get upset.

Dash dog treat maker with dog treats

Made these for the pup

I might have bought the donut maker and the mini-Bundt cake maker since they were also on sale at Target until Christmas. But BF couldn’t give me a straight answer. If I do get them, I’ll probably have to order them online. I showed him the mini pie maker too, but he’s still indecisive. He can have frozen pies for a little bit longer.

But our other hungry little pup didn’t get to enjoy these homemade treats.

Sewing

While it was hot for Christmas, it was very cold in the days preceding.

Some months ago, BF saw a video on Facebook for a pullover jacket made from a military wool blanket. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t exist—no website, and complaints from viewers in the comments. Still, asked me to make this jacket for him. I had to go back and look for the hard-to-find video so that I could understand what he was asking me to create.

Simplicity had just published a suitable pattern. Because it’s not exactly the same, and no stretch in the fabric, I needed to make it larger. He also requested a quilted lining similar to his work jackets. I ordered some quilted lining from a company called Wawak.

Once I got everything assembled, I started cutting. Then it was a matter of putting pieces together. As I sewed, things became more difficult, heavier, and harder to handle. I used an ultra-heavy-duty 1975 Kenmore sewing machine that was gifted to me last year. But I took my time, and late on a cold Sunday night, I finished it, a week before Christmas.

BF wearing his wool jacket

BF wearing his jacket based on Simplicity 9240, a unisex pattern for sweats. That’s his mess, and he chose to leave things in that order. (I’m better organized.)

BF was thrilled and wore it to work the next day. He received many compliments, including from two women who also sew. In fact, he wore it for two days, because it was so cold before it warmed up. When it became warm and he isn’t wearing it, the cat nestles comfortably in the hood or on top of the scratchy wool.

Cat sitting in the hood of the warm hoodie

There he is, the master of disguise, and the connoisseur of comfy.

Later I posted pictures in the Facebook group for The McCall’s Pattern Company. BF was delighted to see that his post garnered more than 600 likes. There were also more than 100 nice comments from fellow sewing enthusiasts.

Now that I’ve finished it, I can return to cutting and sewing my own things. I have two big blue IKEA bags full of projects to cut, plus two more full of cut and ready-to-make projects. There is also a bag or two of projects I’m either going to cut later or I need something else to finish, such as outer fabric for a purse.

I also want to finish a queen-sized quilt I started in Houston. I’m not a quilter, so it’s a big deal. I pinned it up in Neighbor E’s living room because he has a non-carpeted floor and a bigger living room space than I had.

RIP Spencer, The Garbage Gobbler

One of the unhappy things that happened since my last dispatch was the loss of BF’s little dog, Spencer. He was a 14-year-old rust-colored mutt, about 25 pounds. He was as friendly as all get-out, no matter how fiercely he barked when someone knocked on the door.

Spencer seated on cushion

There he is, happy. I made two of those cushions for the dogs.

The dog previously belonged to someone else, and BF acquired him not long after moving into the Casa de Rurale in 2010. BF had another dog at the time, and not long after that one passed, the beloved pit bull came along. Through it all, Spencer just wanted to be friends, because friends share their snacks, right?

Even when the cat took a few swipes at him or jumped him like the mighty African lion taking down a gazelle on the savannah, he didn’t mind a bit. Because, after all, the cat was playing with him. The cat lost, but Spencer was always ready to play or try what you’re eating.

The Appetite

Spencer was always hungry, or so it seemed. Anytime you were in the kitchen doing something, we’d be right there with his metronome of a tail. It doesn’t matter if you were getting a cup of coffee, cutting onions, or washing dishes, he was ready for you to share it with him. I thought I was going to break my neck when I fell over him a few times when he was looking for food. But he just knew I had something tasty he would enjoy. He just didn’t know what it was.

I also had to watch out for him–the cat litter box held amazing mysteries he couldn’t believe. I finally turned the darn thing around so Tab E. Cat has to go under a chair to get in it and keep Spencer out.

I considered buying the Dash doggie treat maker many months ago but only got it because it was on sale before Christmas. Spencer would have been all over me if I’d made treats for him, and he’d know immediately what it was. At least the pit bull is polite about asking for one.

Spencer also scarfed his share of cat food when Tab E. Cat wasn’t looking.

Where have we seen this before? Oh, yes—Jezebel the Step Kitty, may she rest in peace.

Walking Spencer

I started taking Spencer out for walks earlier this year. It was spring, after the changeover to Daylight Savings Time. The pit bull weighs 85 pounds, but I just can’t handle the lovable lap dog. Because if he sees a bunny crossing the road and wants to follow, you too are going follow the little bunny. So, I had to stick with just walking the little guy.

Spencer and I enjoyed going out for those walks, sometimes as long as two miles. But I had to quit when I developed a painful heel condition. Called Achilles tendinitis, it’s one of those things that I have to let heal on its own (and it still hurts). There are some at-home treatments I need to try soon because I’m still limping a little.

Unfortunately, the daily walk with Spencer ended in pain until my heel would get better, so I thought. He wasn’t going to let that stop him. One evening I let the dogs out to go see BF upon his return from work. Spencer decided to take himself out for a walk, trotting off like it was no big deal. BF had to chase him down the street to catch him because he was fast.

The Free Spirit

There have been a few times where Spencer got loose and went off by himself, casually trotting back home when the spirit moved him. When I first moved here, he went on a jaunt and someone found him, then tied him on a short leash to a tree—no food, water, or shelter. We didn’t know where he went, and he was gone for four days. We heard him howling and barking but didn’t know how to find him. Fortunately, the weather was good.

I went looking for him one afternoon and found him on someone’s property just across the road. Immediately I leashed him, untied him, and brought him back. He drank so much water we thought he was going to sink. I fed him right away because I knew he was hungry. That’s when we started keeping a closer eye on our little free spirit.

Later he managed to lose one of his eyes, and somehow broke one of his incisors. He didn’t care, as long as you had something tasty for him.

The First Taste Of Gourmet

Longtime readers may remember my discovery of Nigella Lawson’s delicious sweet potato supper, cooked in the oven on a sheet pan on top of parchment paper. Well, after BF discovered how much bacon was involved, he liked it, asparagus and all.

So did Spencer.

Spencer smiling

This is what you would normally see when Spencer was around. It’s BF’s favorite picture of him.

This dish is cooked at 425F for an hour. The pan is very hot when it comes out of the oven. Even with a potholder, it can burn you. So, it sat out on the counter, on a cork trivet. Unfortunately, it was on the lower counter that Spencer could reach.

While we were enjoying this delicious dinner at the table, BF heard the rustle-crackle-crinkle of the parchment paper and immediately knew what happened. Spencer was in the kitchen investigating the pan with the rest of dinner. “Oh, NO!” BF said, and walked into the kitchen to find Spencer enjoying his own gourmet cuisine.

Pork Chop Heaven

Another day, BF and I came back from the grocery with a large pack of boneless pork chops bought on sale. When we buy something that big, we divide them up into small freezer bags of two for the big freezer. During the process of adding them into the big freezer, I dropped several. I thought I’d picked them all up.

Nope.

Later that night, the dogs found the bags and gorged. We presume it was Spencer who found them because he liked sniffing around the freezer looking for anything we missed. He found them and they had raw pork feast during the night. Fortunately, nothing bad happened, and they were both fine. We did have to pick up shards of plastic freezer bags from the living room. That’s when we realized our little sniffer had been busy.

FISH!

BF’s favorite Spencer story was a couple of years ago. BF likes to fry fish, and it’s how he believes fish should be prepared and eaten. He fried up three large filets of catfish, leaving one piece to take the next day for his lunch. The call came to go down the street to his dad’s house, while we were finishing dinner, so we left quickly. The remaining piece of fish was sitting on a big red plate on top of the stove.

We didn’t think the dogs could reach up there, but they did. We also believe the pit bull flipped the plate onto the floor and it broke since he’s the bigger dog. Both dogs plus the cat had delicious fried catfish for their dinner. BF was so disappointed–they took his lunch! You couldn’t deny that they had consumed the fish because they all had crumbs around their whiskers.

When we discovered what happened, they gave us the look that said, “What?”

Something’s Wrong

A few weeks after the hurricane, on an ordinary morning, I was thinking I should take Spencer out for a walk that very nice day. That’s when Spencer started having trouble walking. Later in the morning, he couldn’t stand up at all. He tried to stand and walk, but he just couldn’t. The poor pup was shaking as if he were cold, even though I had a blanket over him. Lying sideways flat on the floor, his legs were stuck out straight, shaking, alternating between sleeping and trying to move.

He didn’t want to eat his regular food, and I began hand feeding him whatever he would eat and anything he wanted. (The potted meat in a can and the deli-style ham leftover from Labor Day at the fams went over well.) We arranged to take him to a vet we’ve visited before. This vet had a “wait and see” attitude. He gave Spencer a “feel good” shot for pain, plus a couple of other things, which left the poor pup suffering. He didn’t even take an X-Ray.

When we realized he was not getting better, we arranged to go see the local in-town vet but had to wait until the evening.

BF Carrying Spencer to the vet

I drove and he held our little buddy going to the first vet’s appointment. We were both very unhappy about this development.

We didn’t find out until later that LSU in Baton Rouge has a 24/7 walk-in veterinary facility. It’s an hour away, but we could have gone there instead. However, they may have reached the same conclusion.

The Animal Communicator

I was fortunate to be able to talk to a very nice lady named Ami Pope, a Japanese Lady in California who is a trained animal communicator. It’s a long story of how I was introduced to Ami, and her help is greatly appreciated. I was quite upset and just didn’t know what else to do. After a phone call and texting some pictures, Ami very kindly talked to Spencer for me.

Spencer told Ami that he knew something was wrong, but he couldn’t quite tell her what it was. He was OK, she said, and he understood. There was something in his head, he thought. He did not want us to worry about him, even if it was his “time.” She also told him that we were very worried about him, and we didn’t want to lose him, but Spencer told Ami that everything was OK.

Saying Goodbye

I took care of Spencer for about a week, cleaning him up, putting him on a cushion, on a towel, or a blanket, hand-feeding him, and doing anything to make him comfortable. BF was working, so it was up to me. He kept trying to move around, but he could only operate his front legs. Movement was possible, but not what he was used to doing. At one point he could sit up and move his front legs, but he pivoted in a circle propped up on his tailbone.

Without any progress, we took him to the other local vet. Realizing how old Spencer was, he kindly recommended that we send him to the Rainbow Bridge.

So, reluctantly, and with many tears, that’s what we did. I texted BF from the vet’s, picked him up from work, and brought him back to the vet’s office. We hugged Spencer and told him we loved him. I told Spencer to go find my cats, Catmandu and Kismet, and let them know I still miss them after all these years. Both of us held him and petted him so he didn’t feel alone in his last moments.

We were with Spencer when he passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. He seemed comfortable, but he was always that way.  The folks at the Kent Veterinary Clinic were very nice and understanding. They wrapped him up for us and we took him home for the last time.

Resting In Peace

After we buried him, Ami had one more talk with Spencer. He told Ami appreciated all the treats, the cushions I made for them, and the walks all the way to the church at the intersection. He loved going for those walks, and I didn’t even realize how much he enjoyed our walking around.

Spencer also told Ami that he also appreciated that we took care of him at the end of his life, instead of letting him go on his own in the backyard. We couldn’t do that to him (or any dog) and we hope we did right by him. BF did the best he could for Spencer and gave him a better life than he might have had otherwise. Spencer appreciated all of it, he said to Ami. I wish we could have done more, but there wasn’t much else we could do.

If you are interested in her animal communication services, contact Ami Pope via her website (scroll down to the bottom), by email at info@amipope.com, or by phone at 619-655-9494 to set up an appointment. Ami is a very nice lady who loves animals. I highly recommend her services. She works to put people and pets in touch with each other. I can’t say enough about how she talked to Spencer and told us what was happening with him.

Still Making Friends

Spencer was a sweet, likable doggie, and was just friends with everyone. I used to say that my tabby Kismet would purr for the burglars. I think Spencer would have been pretty much the same. He was a free spirit, marching to the beat of his own drum. Not particularly smart, but a lovable dog, who got along with the pit bull, the cat, and nearly anyone who came around, including other dogs.

Spencer is buried under a tree at the back of the property, where he’s had some visitors burrowing in the ground. BF has had to re-bury him a few times. We believe it’s the misguided armadillos that don’t realize they aren’t in Texas. They’ve not pulled him all the way up (he’s well-wrapped) but they’ve come close to going all the way down. But we think Spencer just appreciates the company because he liked everybody.

We miss our little Garbage Gobbler. I wish I could take him out for one more walk.

Until Next Time

Once again, I was chided for something I wrote in this blog, and it happened to be this post. At BF’s request, I’ve edited the passage to appease the offended party.  With that, I offer two points:

  • HeatCageKitchen is my blog, I pay for it, and I’m constitutionally protected by the First Amendment
  • Obsidian vs. Cox, 2011, in which the Ninth Circuit ruled that bloggers are considered “citizen journalists” under the First Amendment, and are thereby protected as such

 

As one of my lawyer clients pointed out, if you don’t publish anything untrue, you’re good. I did, of course, from three eyewitness accounts. But I suppose recollections vary based on individual perspectives.

A more polite call would have worked much better than what we were subjected to, Girle.

We’re amazed at how many alleged adults act like high school kids. On the other hand, maybe if they keep coming back, they’ll drive more organic traffic!

Anyway. . . .

So, If you’re making resolutions to get healthy, stay tuned for my next blog post.

You’ve undoubtedly seen the commercials for diets, fitness equipment, and other “get your fat butt back into shape” ads airing since Christmas. I’ll tell you about something I bought back in June that’s been a “resolution” since the summer–if I could quit getting injured, of course.

In addition to the new Emilie Bailey book, I also have two other cookbooks to tell you about, one of which I’d call “healthy-ish.” You see that term here and there, which means that something is healthier than it could be, but maybe not perfectly healthy. In other words, less sugar, less flour, or those ingredients are replaced with something else that is healthy.

I’ll be back as soon as I can with another blog post for you, and more posts in 2022.

Happy New Year!

Big Jar of Salsa Macha
Salsa Macha!

Salsa Macha–a most delicious thing to make any time. It’s perfect for your charcuterie boards, too.

Follow me on Bloglovin’

Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Apologies again for being later than I wanted, but I’ll explain myself shortly. It’s summer, and the living is easy (we hope.) As always, fall is coming, and certain people in the US population are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Pumpkin Spice Latte season. Heck, everything pumpkin spice–you know who you are.

If you just can’t wait, you can make that PSL at home with a recipe from Starbucks’ own website. Who would have thought it?

But remember–while y’all are sipping your hot PSLs, I’m still trying to enjoy my iced coffee and avoid heatstroke.

With all the rain we’ve had this year, I don’t think we’ve seen a day of 100F temps here. Houston, and most of Texas, has seen multiple 100F days.

This Year’s Gardening Attempts

We have not attempted to repeat last year’s gardening disaster.

I really haven’t mentioned the paint-bucket garden, but we’ve got basil and a few other things growing. I really need to plant the sprouted avocado seeds so they can grow into actual trees.

Avocado Trees in paint bucket

Just plant the seed into the dirt. . .and wait. No kidding, I’ve sprouted several but lost a couple.

Think of how many friends we’ll have when they find out we have avocados growing! Well, except for BF and his brother. Say “guacamole” and BF starts retching.

Two batches of pesto were the result of the last basil cut, and I’ll likely have that much when I cut this batch.

Basil in paint bucket

Think I have two cups here? (Yes, that’s an automotive jack behind it.)

I’ve also got two Anaheim chili pepper plants growing, and one has two medium-sized peppers on it.

Anaheim peppers growing in paint bucket

Darn bugs! I’ll get two if nothing else.

Unfortunately, the little peppers that began forming when the flowers dropped off became slug food, and so I may only have those two. We’ll see, since “cold weather” probably won’t start until at least October. And then there’s lettuce:

Lettuce growing in paint bucket

I need to turn this into a salad real soon

I’ve also bought some plants:

  • “Coolapeno” peppers, the heat-free jalapenos
  • Green onions, as always, but I need to add more to the pot
  • Orange bell peppers
  • Yellow tomatoes
  • Strawberries (the slugs have really decimated this one)
  • Mint (a plant that is overgrown in the bucket and we recently buzz-sawed with a hedge trimmer)
  • Parsley

And as always, sage:

Sage in paint bucket

I try to keep it around for fall dishes

Unfortunately, I didn’t plant them all right away, leading to more of BF’s smarty-pants comments about “science experiments.” I remind him that none of his previous female companions ever brought urban agriculture or other improvements into his house and his life.

Home Visit Nibbles

So a few weeks ago, our district leader OR decided she wanted to make the drive to do a home visit. It’s an SGI tradition of visiting members at home, particularly those who have recently begun practicing Buddhism and offering support. The leaders chant with the members and they discuss. . .whatever. In this case, it was the upcoming district meeting. And, I suppose OR wanted to get outta the house for a while.

Now, because of where I live, nearly everyone is an hour away. The closest members are J&B, who live in Albany, near Hammond. Basically, I’m practicing by myself out here, although most are a phone or Zoom call away. Since I’ve been practicing since 1986, though, I think I’ve got the hang of it. I don’t understand why they want to drive an hour–each way–to do a home visit, but I gave up protesting.

While we were chanting, BF showed up. But he quickly bugged off to the shop and left us alone to talk. He doesn’t mind the home visits, of course, but he does enjoy acting up when people are visiting me.

When someone does drive out here, I try to make sure I have some food and coffee to offer. I’ve baked some delicious treats from the first Babycakes book. I also have the second book but haven’t looked at it in a while. Maybe next time they come by I’ll make that Pineapple Upside-Down Cake on page 116 again.

On this particular day, since it was just OR, I told her I’d make a couple of those little keto chocolate cakes in the Instant Pot for her, and of course, coffee. OR is from Los Angeles, and is Hispanic herself–her parents came from Mexico years and years ago, and she has been in Mandeville since about 2006.  Knowing that I’m a fan of Mexican and Tex-Mex food, she decided to bring something special. Naturally, I didn’t think to take pictures.

Salsa Macha

So OR made a stop at The Fresh Market for a few things, including a box of little gluten-free nut crackers, a small tub of chicken salad, and a couple of slices of Swiss cheese. Why Swiss, I don’t know, I like it fine, and I just said “thank you.”

Along with these nibbles, she brought this:

Bottle of Salsa Macha

It was full when she brought it

Then she asked for a very small spoon, which I happened to have:

Cocktail spoon and regular spoon for Salsa Macha

The spoon on the left is a cocktail spoon, and the one on the right is a regular teaspoon from our flatware

Puzzled by her request, I went to the only one I knew I could put my hands on, in a box of Maldon Salt Flakes in the pantry. I have more of these tiny spoons, but I don’t know where they are.

We sit at the table and she explains:

  • Take a cracker
  • Fold a slice of cheese to make smaller pieces
  • Add a bit of cheese onto the cracker
  • Add a bit of chicken salad to the cracker on top of the cheese
  • Drip a bit of this incredible stuff on top of the cracker stack
  • Eat and enjoy

What the heck is this amazing thing you’ve brought here? OR responds, “It’s called Salsa Macha.

I have eaten it and become enlightened.

The Recipe

OR is a fan of Pati Jinich, host of Pati’s Mexican Table on PBS. I like to watch her when I can, her food looks delicious. Pati is actually from Mexico and is married to an American. They have three sons and live in Maryland. They have, however, lived in Texas.

Pati has three books, which will be going on my “wish list” soon. Her newest will be released in November, called Treasures of the Mexican Table: Classic Recipes, Local Secrets. Her most recent book graces OR’s kitchen, and all three will eventually grace mine.

This recipe is from a longer TV show segment on Cali-Baja Fish Tacos. You can see the whole segment here, and she starts making the Salsa Macha at about the 3:55 mark.

While the tacos look absolutely delicious, they are not gluten-free–she uses regular flour to batter the fish, and makes flour tortillas as well. Just thought I’d warn you.

OR said that since she made the salsa the first time, she carries around a jar of it and puts it on EVERYTHING. No wonder she has that glow of enlightenment.

I’m also writing about this recipe to piggyback on my last post on charcuterie boards. Because you can easily put this on any charcuterie board–just add a warning that it’s a bit spicy as well as contains peanuts. You don’t want an allergic person unknowingly ingesting it and having to go to the hospital.

If you do put this on your charcuterie board, I highly recommend putting the little cocktail spoons out for Salsa Macha. Because if you put a regular teaspoon out, someone will grab a large amount not realizing it should be consumed in small amounts. It does have enough of a bite from both the garlic and the chile peppers that a big tablespoon will overwhelm even the most tolerant of spice-lovers.

Making The Salsa Macha

Let me say at the outset that I am by no means an expert on Mexican and Tex-Mex food. I make no secret of the fact that it’s just one of my favorites. Living in Texas for 18 years, it’s all around, in the same way that red beans & rice, jambalaya, and gumbo are here. You know what I’d rather have, starting with the chips.

When most people hear the word “salsa,” it’s usually accompanied by the word “chips.” It’s either a freshly made tomato garnish, or it’s the kind out of a jar. Either one is good, especially if the chips are hot, fresh, and salty. However, this salsa is different.

Salsa Macha is cooked, and has no tomatoes. In fact, it has. . .peanuts. No kidding.

Ingredients for salsa macha

The Setup (part 1)

Of course, getting all the ingredients together was a challenge (I’ll tell you about that in a minute.) When I mentioned to OR that I was making some, she said she used a whole cup of peanuts, so I cracked open more before I made them.

Prep work involved a few other things, including peeling garlic and deseeding and deveining the dried chile peppers. That took a while:

Cut open dried chipotle pepper

Since it’s dried, they pretty much fall out.

By the time you get them all done and get to this point:

Cut chipotles in bowl

Ready to add

You’ve had a snootful of the pepper dust and have sneezed multiple times. Just cut the tops off, cut in half, or cut down one side, and the seeds are easy to remove.

The packet I got is actually 2.5 ounces, and the recipe calls for 2 ounces. Well. . .by the time you remove all those seeds, I’d say you got exactly 2 ounces.

I also measured out the sesame seeds, white vinegar, brown sugar (just for the first round, I think a sugar replacement like Swerve would work too), and salt for later.

Cooking

First: add 1.5 cups of olive oil to a pan:

Olive oil, 1.5 cups

It’s gonna be good!

And heat over medium heat:

Olive oil heating in pan

Once it’s heated, but not boiling, add the peanuts and the four cloves of garlic:

Garlic cloves and peanuts in hot olive oil

Like this; there are actually four cloves in the pan

Now, don’t walk away from it–you’re actually frying these ingredients:

Closeup of frying peanuts and garlic

Don’t let them cook too long

Pati says that peanuts are cooked long before you notice them, so that’s why it’s important to stay at the stove for this one.

Next, add the seeded and deveined dried chile peppers:

Adding chipotles into the pot

Right in there

Along with the sesame seeds:

Adding sesame seeds to the pot

Right in there

Cook a little longer until the chiles are toasted and done, about another 30 to 60 seconds, then take off the heat. (I just moved it to an unused burner.)

Pot and food processor work bowl

A safety tip is coming.

Grinding And Processing

Here’s where you should pull out that big food processor, you’ll need it.

Let me iterate here that this is HOT oil, and you’ll need to exercise great caution at this point. Hot oil burns badly, and nobody wants to check into the burn unit, ever. If you have small children or animals, shoo them out of the kitchen and away from the stove for their own safety.

Because I was using a cast-iron pot, I brought the food processor bowl to the stove and scooped it in a little at a time. Better safe than sorry, and I don’t want to get injured.

Scooping out of the pot

Just like this

I used a couple of tools to clear the pan:

Clearing out the pan

I got all of it out!

And dumped the last little bit into the work bowl.

After putting the bowl on the motor unit, I added the last ingredients:

Adding brown sugar to the food processor

Brown sugar

White vinegar:

Adding white vinegar to the workbowl

Right in, 3 tablespoons

And of course, kosher salt:

Adding kosher salt to the food processor

Just a teaspoon, but you can add more if you like.

Then hit the ignition:

Running food processor

Grind it up to a nice paste

What you get is this lovely and delicious thing that you won’t want to live without:

Salsa Macha finished

Delicious!

It makes a good bit, and so I filled one big jar and two small ones:

Jars of salsa macha

Into the fridge! (Store it in the fridge if you’re not using it immediately.)

When I clear out that jar on the right, I’m going to wash it well and return it to OR. BTW, those little Ball jars do come in handy for lots of things. Walmart, Amazon, and sometimes Tractor Supply has them.

Finding Ingredients

Raw peanuts are called “green boiling peanuts” here. Why? People boil them in salt and eat them like that. I can’t say they’re bad, but I never had them before I moved to this area.

Now you may be thinking, “Amy, how did you get that kind of thing in rural Louisiana?” Good question–I almost didn’t. That’s why this post is a bit later than I intended. I stayed up a little late last night to make it, too.

OR has access to not only a “Hispanic foods section” in the Mandeville Walmart, but there is also at least one “Mexican grocery store” in the area, too. I’ve been in that Walmart and seen it myself, bought masa harina and corn husks there for our chicken tamales I made once. But Mandeville is nearly an hour one way. Not a good option.

I went to our local Winn-Dixie and Walmart looking for the dried chiles, to no avail. I was on the phone doing a FaceTime call with OR looking for them, but they really don’t have that kind of thing here.

Then I remembered that there IS a Mexican grocery store nearby–in Hammond. So after being up since 6:00 am, and driving an hour from Franklinton to get home from work, BF took me to the little Mexican grocery in Hammond and then brought me home. Once back at the Casa de Rurale, BF went into hibernation for a while.

If you’re in an area where you can’t find these chiles, you can get them online at Fiesta Spices’ website. They have a whole section of their website just for dried chile peppers. Now that I think about it, Albertson’s in Hammond carries some of Fiesta’s spices, so maybe I’ll drop by there next time and see if they have the chiles, too. If not, everything is available online, thank heavens.

Will BF Eat It?

That’s always the question. I didn’t really make it for him, anyway. But he alternates between “I’ll try anything you make” to “I don’t think I’m gonna like it, I’d rather not try it.” Whatever. I’ll let you know.

If you eat this, you, too, will be come enlightened. I’m being silly when I say that, but that’s how good it is.

For my next blog post, I’ll tell you all about Hammond’s Tienda de comestibles, or little Mexican grocery store. We’ve recently seen folks speaking Spanish here, no English. Aside from the other considerations, it could mean more Hispanic foods may become available locally if the migration trend continues. Maybe it’s time for me to finally learn Spanish, even if I have to use DuoLingo. But for now, I can get some of these wonderful Mexican ingredients, along with ready-made chorizo, on the same trip as visiting Hobby Lobby, Rouse’s, and Target.

Until next time–Disfrutar! (Enjoy!)

SPAM CAN
The SPAM Post

SPAM! This isn’t junk email. It’s all about that ubiquitous canned meat.

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

In my writing adventures, I learn about all kinds of neat things. Technology, law, current events (whether I want to or not) and I write about them for other people. They pay me for this, although I need to get faster at it so I’ll have more time to blog about stuff that matters.

I also have a thing for vintage cooking stuff–ads, recipes, etc. It’s not that I want to make things like a Jell-O mold that looks like an aquarium, mind you. I just enjoy putting them on Facebook to make people say, “EEEEEEWWWWW!!” (You wouldn’t believe what they used to put into a Jell-O mold and call a “salad!”) But, admittedly, there’s a strange enjoyment from seeing what used to pass for “gourmet.” You’ll see some of them in this post.

On the healthier side, there’s news to report, especially if you like tortillas and wraps. But today, I wanted to have a little fun.

Healthy Options

You may be wondering why grocery stores have more “specialty health foods” than before. Things like Caulipower pizzas and other treats, gluten-free cakes, and brownies from baking stalwart Betty Crocker. There’s a good reason for it.

Multiple companies are trying to reinvent flour-based foods for a health-conscious consumer, and those with specific health concerns. And the way it starts is because frequently, it’s a necessity for one person.

In the case of Caulipower, it’s because founder Gail Becker had two sons who were suddenly diagnosed with Celiac disease. When she tried to make cauliflower pizza on her own, she wasn’t successful. So she sought to create the frozen cauliflower pizza for others who wanted it. Today the company sells a range of alternative processed foods around the country, including Walmart and Winn-Dixie. Forbes has an interesting article about Gail Becker and how she got started.

Egglife Wraps

Now comes the company Egglife, which aims to re-invent flour-based tortillas. You can buy Mission Tortillas that are “low carb,” but they frequently come with. . .wait for it–wheat flour. So they’re not gluten-free. That’s no help!

Egglife’s products include six different types of wraps made from cage-free eggs. Like Caulipower, founder Peggy Johns had to cut carbs and sugar for health reasons. They’re found in the refrigerator section and have just launched in Walmart. If you want to get something in front of the majority of Americans, that’s where you put it. So I’ll be looking for them soon and trying them out here at the Casa de Rurale with a full report.

The Definition Of Spam

Do you eat SPAM? Do you know anyone who does? I do–BF eats it. But until I met BF, I’d never met anyone who eats the stuff. Except maybe during a temporary emergency. If you’re in a shelter and the hurricane is blowing down the trees around you, you’ll likely be hungry for anything, and “special dietary needs” can go right out the window. But I digress.

Spam & Prunes

Because Spam goes with anything!

A couple of years ago, a client asked me to write about something called SAP. It’s a computer operating system that has both fans and detractors and elicits reactions from joy to despair. The reaction you get will depend on who you talk to about SAP.

I haven’t had the opportunity to learn SAP (stands for Systems, Accounting and Production), but if I had, I might still be living in the Houston area. Anyway. . . .

Deciding The Topic

While talking with this Manhattan-based client, I said, “It sounds like SAP is the Spam of IT.” He laughed and said, “that’s exactly what it is!” But they make their bread and butter with it (pardon the pun), so we didn’t want to be too critical. Here’s the article I wrote if you want to read it.

Fiesta Peach Spam Bake

I really doubt any Mexican restaurant would serve this.

But then I started thinking about. . .SPAM. It’s always in the grocery, but yet, “nobody” eats it. Really? I decided to do a little research.

History And Origins

Spam was created by the Hormel Company in 1937. There are some differences of opinion on the naming convention, but it either stands for “spiced ham” or “something posing as meat.” I guess it’s all in who you talk to. The US forces during WWII called it “ham that failed the physical.” This was not a compliment, as anyone at the company at the time could tell you. Spam was included in military war rations because it has a shelf life of approximately 9,724 years. A soldier far from home could eat it anywhere, hot or cold, right out of his or her backpack.

It was one of those foods that “thrifty housewives” knew would stretch their food budget like a rubber band. And so, recipes like this showed up frequently in popular media of the period:

Spam & Lima Bean Recipe from 1946

Isn’t it DELISH?

I did offer to make this vintage culinary delicacy for BF. He loves lima beans and Spam. Apparently, having them together like this isn’t as appealing.

Spam was also purchased by governments worldwide to add to their own military rations during WWII. Nikita Kruschev was once quoted as saying that if it weren’t for SPAM, they would have lost the war a lot faster.

Hormel, today, produces approximately 44,000 cans of this stuff per HOUR, every day. That’s not an exaggeration, that’s their own estimate. You know quality control keeps track of these things, right?

Spam Consumers

So who is actually eating SPAM? Besides BF, of course. One word: Asians. No kidding. SPAM is extremely popular in Asian American cuisine as well as Asian countries.

Spam became a symbol of American generosity after the war, and also kept people from starving in many of these countries. Agriculture took a long time to return to these smaller countries, so the easily transported cans of ready-to-eat protein helped them considerably. Today gift boxes of Spam varieties are a highly coveted holiday gift in Asia.

Hawaiian Spam

Another place it’s popular: Hawaii.

Spam musubi – “poor man’s sushi” – is a popular fast food in Hawaii. Photo: Alamy

Source: South China Morning Post

Not a joke–they even have even restaurants on the Islands dedicated to cooking and serving dishes made with Spam. Part of the love of Spam had to do with it being sent to the detention camps for Japanese descendants between 1941 and 1945. That’s why there are so many Japanese residents in Hawaii. It’s a sad part of US history for sure, but Spam love was one small good thing that emerged.

Post-War Spam

The company changed direction and began marketing the product to post-war American housewives who were now cooking for husbands and families in the 1950s.

Spam Meatloaf

Oh, YES. . . .

But because so many GIs ate it during their time in the US military, Spam’s pre-war popularity didn’t return. Still, Spam remains a best-seller stateside and quickly went on to gain a foothold in the Asian marketplace.

If you’re old enough to remember the original Monty Python, you’ll remember the skit about the restaurant that served nothing but Spam recipes. The sketch also came out of Britain’s recovery after WWII and the part Spam played in it, much like Asia’s. However, British agriculture returned quickly as did the US’s. There are also a few US restaurants that serve it. Comedy predicts the future!

And yet, when Americans like me think of Spam, the first thought is, “EEEEEEWWWWW!!” Others, like BF, adore it. Go figure.

Recipes

No–I’m not going to tell you I’ve eaten or cooked anything with Spam. That’s BF’s job, not mine. Usually, though, he goes for a “Spam sandwich.” I’ve also met people who will fry it up in a pan. I’m not one of them.

If the idea of cooking with SPAM appeals to you, their own website has a separate page of over 100 recipes available, such as:

Can you see me crafting these gourmet Spam recipes for BF? How about this one:

Ad for s-p-a-m with banana fritters from 1951

If people really ate this way in the 1950’s, that explains a lot, doesn’t it?

No, me either. I can hear him now:  “Stay ALERT! Stay ALIVE.”

Thirteen Varieties

In the modern (food) world, one variety of anything is usually not enough. During a visit to our local Rouse’s, I saw some of them:

Varieties on the grocery shelf at Rouse's

A great variety to choose from, including competitor varieties.

On the left, you’ll see a knockoff version. Our local Walmart also carries several types SPAM. The company actually makes 13 varieties, but I don’t know if all of them are available around the US, and in this part of Louisiana:

  • Classic
  • Lite
  • Less Sodium
  • With Real Hormel Bacon
  • Oven-Roasted Turkey
  • Hickory Smoke Flavor
  • Hot & Spicy
  • Jalapeno
  • Teriyaki
  • With Portuguese Sausage Seasoning
  • With Tocino Seasoning (I have no idea what that is!)
  • Two different sized packages with classic Spam

Somebody is eating Spam in this country, even if they won’t admit it. And yet, with all the variety presented, BF won’t eat anything but the original.

BF Loves Spam

Well, of course, he does! That’s why things like lentils, quinoa, Waffled Falafel, and Overnight Oats are so foreign to him. (Aunt Ruth is still laughing at my description of BF’s first taste of overnight oatmeal.)

BF grew up eating Spam, I didn’t, so that explains some of the disparity. But you won’t be seeing this around here anytime soon:

Spam and pancakes ad from 1946

Can you imagine? No, me either–because it was 1946.

When I showed this ad to BF, he was quite interested in all three of these. He’s welcome to make them for himself. Thankfully this “cutesy” form of advertising has given way to more genuine styles, mostly, and with SEO (search engine optimization.)

All You Needed To Know

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post; it’s been sitting in the draft folder for a while. If you really like the salty, cold canned meat, go for it! BF does, frequently. And now you know about the incredible variety of multicultural recipes that start with a simple can of Spam.

Of course, you can find plenty of recipes and information on the Spam website. There is also a gift shop for Spam merchandise and some cans. Some varieties of Spam are currently in short supply. But you can purchase Spam temporary tattoos, posters, magnets, postcards, T-shirts, Polo shirts, golf bags, and other quality merchandise that you didn’t know you needed. Want to learn more? Check out the company’s FAQ page.

At The Casa de Rurale

We actually have one or two cans in the kitchen somewhere. BF cracks open a can when he just doesn’t know what he wants for dinner. Sometimes it’s because he is in a place where food is being served that he doesn’t quite understand. He just takes his Spam sandwich and goes into a corner until it’s all over. Or, on rare occasions, I’m that mad at him that I let him feed himself, and he’ll find his way to a can.

One thing that worries me–if I go first, and I’m not there to make BF a healthy dinner, is he going to spend his days eating cereal for breakfast and Spam other times? Oh, well–if I go first, I guess it has to be up to him to eat healthily. I hope he’s learned a few things in the time I’ve been here.

Enjoy!

Chaffles and cheesecake on square red plate
Dash Into The Kitchen

Dash kitchen products–they’re small, cute, functional, and in stores around the US. Are they worth it?

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

On the heels of four weekly blogs. . .I’m on a roll! Good thing, because I have more to tell you about.

Cow Road Is Repaved!

Recently I got a call from Miss H, asking for some “senior tech support.” Miss H and her husband T live on the other side of what I call Cow Road, and that’s how I get over there. They’re nice people, and I’m happy to help on occasion.

When Miss H called, I got a huge surprise. But first, a previous picture of the lovely Cow Road, taken right after I moved here in 2016:

Tree Lined Cow Road

Lovely, yes?

After the August 2016 flood here, the normal road to get in and out of town was closed because of a broken bridge. You couldn’t get to the Casa de Rurale from there. You had to go around the “long” way, which was Cow Road.

Now, the thing about Cow Road is that while I was in Houston, my long-term plan was to move out of Harris County and into a more rural area like this one. But there’s an old saying, “man plans, God laughs.” Yeah, it was like that. When I said I wanted to move out of Harris County, this was not what I had in mind. I’ve adapted as best I can, but I still get funny looks from people here.

Take a look at the road in this picture:

Cow Road farther down

Farther down, near the cows.

Don’t drive too fast here. Well, you couldn’t, anyway, not without serious damage to your vehicle. But for several months after I moved here, going into town required us to go bumping and grinding down Cow Road to get to the other road to get into town.

Then when I got the call from Miss H a couple of weeks ago, I took off and discovered:

Cow Road Paved 1

It’s PAVED!!

No kidding, after all these years, they paved Cow Road.

Cow road paved 2

Such a nice ride now

No more bumping and grinding when I take that road to either H&T’s place, or to pay the water bill (which I normally do online.) I couldn’t believe how smooth the ride was, and it takes a lot less time to get to the other side. This is primarily because you don’t have to beware of multiple holes that will take out your oil pan, kink up your chassis, flatten a tire or even knock your transmission off.

That’s Not Really The Name

Although there are signs with the legal name of this parish-owned street, there’s a specific reason why I call it Cow Road.

When I first got here, nobody, including BF, told me the actual name of the road. There were also no signs anywhere, not that I saw. Turns out there was one, and not in the most obvious of places.

While describing the drive one day, I said to BF,  “then you go down Cow Road. . .” He smiled and replied, “I think you’ll find that it’s called something else.” Well, with no street signs anywhere, what am I supposed to call it? Especially since I had just moved here and didn’t know where I was. So, I’ve been calling it Cow Road ever since, and so does BF unless I’m not around.

In case you’re wondering:

Cows in field on Cow Road

The cows are still there

And still, they don’t care about anyone who gets out of their vehicle and takes their picture.

Instant Pot Update

Remember when I said I bought the “latest and greatest” when I bought my IP? Well, the Duo Evo Plus can no longer be called that. It has been discontinued by the company.

In an email this weekend from the Pressure Cooking Today blog, there’s a new Instant Pot for 2021. It’s sleek and black, unlike previous models. It looks a bit like Darth Vader. The Instant Pot Pro is the newest and latest model for home cooks to use, incorporating updates from mine.

This newest Instant Pot incarnation costs about the same as the Duo Evo Plus. The biggest change is the ability to create five pre-set cooking programs in addition to the built-in menus (which I haven’t yet used anyway.)

The control panel is pretty much the same except for the new pre-sent buttons. The menus have been consolidated; instead of “poultry,” it’s now called “chicken.”  Apparently, the “start” buttons aren’t standard on previous IP models, only starting with mine. So they remind you to press “start.”

If you’re considering an Instant Pot after reading my long post, know that the newest IP is the sleek, black Instant Pot Pro. The Duo Evo Plus is now known as an “IBM Selectric.” That’s an electric typewriter that most of us learned on before there were laptops and iPads. In case you’re one of those kids that have never seen one before.

Just last week, I finally printed out my owner’s manual for the Duo Evo Plus, put the pages in plastic page protectors, and put the whole thing into a binder:

Printed manual for the Duo Evo Plus in a red folder

Just in time for it to become obsolete!

At least I have it in the kitchen now.

First The Disclaimers

Amy’s Note: this is not a sponsored post, but does contain my Amazon affiliate links as described at the bottom of each post and page. All opinions are my own, except where noted. Although I’ve researched the subject matter with readily available online information, I did not contact anyone with the Dash Company.

Additional Note: although these mini appliances are cute as a button, they are NOT toys, and children should not use them without proper supervision. The risk of burning little fingers–or any fingers, for that matter–is real, and we don’t want to start our day at an ER or a burn unit. So please exercise proper caution, especially around the little ones.

Dash–The Tiny Appliances

So, for the last few years, I’ve been seeing these cute little appliances in Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and a few other places. Finally, one day, I bit and bought. Then another. Then another.

The first Dash product I bought was the thing that makes hard-boiled eggs quickly and easily:

Egg maker boiling eggs

Fast and easy hard-boiled eggs

The cup that measures the water has a small pin in the bottom. Use that to put a pinhole in the widest part of the egg. Measure the water and pour it in, plug it in, put the lid on (don’t seal it), and touch the button. When it makes its little noise, turn it off, unplug it, and dunk the eggs in ice water to stop the cooking process. Tah-dah! Hard-boiled eggs with little effort.

You can boil eggs in the Instant Pot, but I have not tried it myself. But with this little doodad, I can leave the IP in the cabinet. There is another model that does a full dozen hard-boiled eggs.

Making Eggs

It’s simple technology–water on a hot plate. No kidding, that’s what’s under the rack. This picture from Amazon’s website explains it easily:

Source: Amazon

Additionally, you can make poached eggs with the little split tray, or a two-egg omelet with the other one. Both sit atop the egg rack, not directly on the hot plate.

The first job is to pour water into the hot plate. The amounts are on the side of the cup, but I usually go to the top-level amount anyway. I’ve had little omelets come out half-cooked, and I had to microwave them to finish.

Put the top on, press the button and you’ll have nice cooked eggs shortly.

Waffle And Other Tiny Makers

I tried to resist, but couldn’t, when I found Dash’s little pumpkin waffle maker in our local Dirt Cheap last year for just a couple of dollars. I found one more, and have bought two others elsewhere:

Four dash waffle makers

My “collection!”

I still want to get more, because there are so many designs. These are so hard to resist, they’re so cute. Making little waffles that are just enough for you or someone you love. Who could resist?

Seasonal Waffles

The company has a range of these little waffle makers to use all year long, including this one for Halloween:

Skull waffle maker

Scary!!!

I managed to get the red heart-shaped one before Valentine’s Day this year, but you know what happened there. My mini waffle maker collection also includes a flower design, but I’d like to get more of the different seasonals.

Dash’s newest design is the Star Mini Waffle Maker, which I may try to find soon for the 4th of July.

I did make BF a couple of tiny waffles using a bit of math and his favorite pancake mix, but he wasn’t terribly impressed. Even with a pumpkin on one side.

Egg Bite Maker

I bought this because I wanted to make the egg bites easier than using the Instant Pot. Well. . . .

Egg bite maker on shelf at Target

They’re readily available now.

They weren’t at Target at the time, so I waited until I was going to Mandeville and stopped at BBB. I used a coupon, brought it home and used it.

Egg bite maker on countertop

It’s cute, like the rest.

You use these little cups:

Cups in maker

Like this

The cups sit in a little water, and the water heats up, much like the other egg cooker. However, unlike the Instant Pot bites, these are about half that size:

Egg bite cup in hand

They’re silicone, too

I think they’re smaller than the ones you get in Starbucks, too.

Egg bite maker cookbook

All the products come with an instruction manual and a little recipe booklet.

Well, I tried it:

Egg bites from Dash maker

I made them the same way I did in the Instant Pot, with bacon and cheese and all that, but. . .they took a long time to cook, and they’re so tiny. And you have to keep refilling the cups and the water and starting over until you’re done.

Too much trouble.

I guess if I hadn’t tried the IP first, I would have been OK with it. But ultimately, I returned it in favor of the IP. This is good for someone who doesn’t have an IP or doesn’t want one but loves the egg bites.

Dash Tiny Ice Cream Maker

For many years–at least 12–I’ve had this Pure Indulgence ice cream maker from Cuisinart. I should make ice cream more often but just don’t. This makes two quarts, and I certainly have containers for the ice cream. I just don’t seem to get around to it as I would like.

But if you want a little ice cream tonight, Dash has you covered with this:

Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker

Isn’t it cute?

The My Pint Ice Cream Maker will make you just enough for this evening if that’s all you want. The bottom part is the “freezer bowl,” and must be frozen for 24 hours, just like the bigger one. Of course, if you make a recipe of ice cream that goes into the bigger machine, you’ll only be able to make one pint at a time in this one. So that’s an issue. Especially if you use the recipes in the booklet.

Similar to the Cuisinart, the dasher goes through the ice cream mixture. But in this one, the little motor sits on top and turns the dasher. The base doesn’t move. When the motor slows down, the ice cream is done.

Dash Ice cream maker motor and dasher

Very small.

There’s even a cup and spoon so you can enjoy your ice cream right then and there!

I did make some ice cream when I brought it home, but I keep forgetting that I have it. Just to make some that night, I mixed some heavy cream, vanilla, stevia liquid, and some sugar-free chocolate chips and ran it. Came out good, and even BF liked it. He only had a spoonful, though.

Bottom of ice cream maker

This part goes into the freezer for 24 hours. (I had to rinse out the collected ice first.)

Oh, and despite its affordability:

Ice cream maker in BBB

Not bad for an ice cream maker. The Cuisinart is three times this much.

I did manage to get it marked down at our local Dirt Cheap. I had to read the little manual to find all the parts, which were scattered on the shelf. Took it to the testing table, plugged it in, and it worked. Cleaned it when I got it home and stuck the cup in the freezer.

The Dash Range

Now, of course, Dash makes more types of mini-makers, including:

  • Grill
  • Griddle
  • Waffle bowl maker
  • Bundt cake maker
  • Rice cooker
  • Pie maker
  • Pizzelle maker
  • Donut maker
  • Mini electric skillet
  • Mini toaster oven (with very simple controls)
  • Dog treat maker (I should get one of these, their recipes use ingredients you already have)
  • Waffle stick maker
  • Omelet maker

They also make full-sized appliances as well as accessories, like these I found at Dirt Cheap for the little air fryer:

Small air fryer accessories

We’ve used these in the air fryer, they fit perfectly.

I need to get a few more of these mini-makers, especially since BF likes donuts and pies.

Chaffles

So if you don’t eat waffles made from flour and whatnot, the mini-waffle makers might just collect dust. Or you can make something sweet like these GF Peanut Butter Heart Waffles.

I’ve mentioned chaffles before, but they’re great anytime. That is, if you like eggs. If you don’t, well, this won’t apply to you. Chaffles are cheese and eggs mixed, and are quick to make in these tiny waffle wizards.

Chaffles and cheesecake on square red plate

And why not?

But Dash’s mini-waffle makers can make delicious waffled food just like the bigger ones, but in smaller amounts. if you’re doing the ready-made pancake mix, just divide it down to what you need.

Many people also use chaffles to make breakfast sandwiches. And why not? Make your two chaffles, put some cooked bacon, sliced ham, sliced avocado, more cheese, or other delicious things in between them, just like you would with any regular English muffin. Then wrap your paws around it and eat like any two-fisted sandwich you can get out of a drive-through window.

I may have mentioned this before, but you can find several recipes for chaffles on Dash’s recipe page, as well as places like Pinterest and Instagram. There are also Facebook groups just for people who love chaffles.

Why Make Them Small?

Remember that although I embrace cooking large amounts to eat during the week or freezing for later, not everyone does. BF eats something once, maybe twice, and that’s IT.

Let’s examine some statistics: as of 2019, there are more than 36 million people living alone in the United States. You probably know someone who lives alone by choice (that was me) or because their life situation has changed. Not everyone wants to live with someone else, for whatever reason.

Off the top of my head, I think of:

  • The GER and The E Man, both widowers
  • Aunt Ruth, a widow herself
  • Neighbor E, who never married
  • LK, a Buddhist friend in the Houston area who also never married
  • RW, the lady next door, a divorcee
  • Several other former neighbors at El Dorado Trace, including Neighbor J upstairs and TM, the lady next door to him.
  • Many people we know locally and throughout the area

BF and I were living alone (separately) until I moved from Houston into his house (and changed his world around) in 2016. As I told him recently, “man was not in the plan,” meaning that before he came along in 2015, I had no plans to be “with” anyone again. That was my choice. El Dorado Trace had a lot of single women living there at the time, and probably still does. Some are owners, more are renters like me. Many are probably still living alone, even if they have a significant other who lives elsewhere.

Those Who Live Alone

Remember too that not everyone living on their own has a house like the GER or a fabulous two-bedroom condo as Neighbor E has, with a suitable kitchen. There are also:

  • College students in dorms don’t have room for a full-size anything
  • People just out of college who are working a new job and living in their first apartment
  • Young people who move out of their parent’s place and into a garage-style or efficiency apartment
  • Full-time residents of “tiny homes,” “fifth wheels” or other smaller accommodations
  • Folks who are recently separated or divorced, living in a smaller place after moving out of the marital home
  • People who are downsizing, for whatever reason
  • People who are starting over after losing their home to a disaster or other life-changing event
  • RV travelers, part-time or full-time
  • People living in “senior apartments” or assisted living facilities, with very small kitchens and little space
  • Vacation rentals and AirBnB places

In places like LA, San Francisco, and NYC, if one can afford a place on their own, it isn’t very big. Texas is also getting to that point, leading to people moving far outside of the city into the outer suburbs and rural areas.

When I was looking for a place to live to move out of the GER’s house, I looked at one interesting place in the Medical Center, a neighborhood in the Inner Loop area of Houston. It was a one-bedroom, three-story house. The kitchen had no oven, only a stovetop, with not a lot of room. There were lots of stairs (I was in my 40’s then.) Appliances like these would have been perfect for this little “kitchen closet.” The bedroom was on the third floor. So how was I going to get a bed, dresser, nightstand, and other stuff up there? Well, I didn’t–I ended up at El Dorado Trace, on the ground floor, with a fireplace and a breakfast bar, for 12 years.

With so many people living alone in the US, as well as people who want to eat better, there’s definitely a market for these smaller appliances.

Bigger Dash Appliances

Dash also has a range of full-size appliances that are available in Bed, Bath, and Beyond as well as online:

Big Dash Air Fryer

Twice the size of mine.

But if you want a larger model, they have you covered there, too:

Big Dash Air Fryer Pro

This is a bigger version of their air fryer.

They also have a six-quart air fryer, as well as accessories for each size like the ones I mentioned earlier.

Like popcorn?

Dash popcorn popper

I haven’t tried this one, but the company has two types.

And if you need a little extra cooking space one day:

Dash skillet in BBB

I’ve not tried this either.

Fancy a cuppa? Or are you looking to make oatmeal, pasta, or something else quickly?

Dash water kettel in BBB

More quick cooking

I have a kettle for boiling water, but not one like this. For someone in a small place by themselves, this 110 cooker could be just the ticket for a faster breakfast or late-night meal.

Other Specialty Appliances

Dash also has more full-size appliances like:

I received The Complete Dehydrator Cookbook by Carole Cancler from Callisto last year. Oh, boy–I was ready to start dehydrating. There’s a recipe for almond-flour based Double Chocolate Biscotti on page 197 that I just want to try first–I love biscotti. But when I showed BF the book and discussed getting one, he laughed and said, “that’s OK, I had enough dehydrated food in the Navy when I was overseas.” Darnit.

It was worse when I got a few books on aromatherapy. He had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.

The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Let me just admit that these appliances do, indeed, remind me of Suzy Homemaker appliances. Especially ones with the aqua color.

I also admit that when I go to our local Dirt Cheap, one of the things I’m looking for is anything from Dash. Somehow, I just don’t think many people around these parts are familiar with the company or see a need for their unique products. (You know, I haven’t been there in a while, but might visit this week.) But now, others have gotten into the “mini-maker” act.

Although Dash products haven’t appeared in our local Walmart–or any we’ve been in–Club W has been carrying a knockoff line of some of Dash’s most popular products:

Knockoff Egg cooker and waffle maker at Walmart

Just like the original, yes? (Probably not.)

Craft chain Hobby Lobby has also gotten on board with the smaller specialty appliances. They do carry some Dash products, but also the Nostalgia brand like Walmart, as well as another brand called Bella. They also have a few Star Wars products, like a Baby Yoda Waffle Maker, and some small character slow cookers as well.

The Company

On Dash’s About Us page, they explain:

We believe that taking small steps every day to live a healthier life can have a big impact. And that the best path to wellness is eating whole, natural foods. At Dash, we make products that make it easier for you to prepare and eat real food at home so that you can feel your best. In the store, in your kitchen and online — We give you the tools and the support to make delicious healthy meals.

That’s what living unprocessed is all about.

Their social media pages, particularly Instagram, have all kinds of posts, including videos from a lady calling herself “Ms. Dash.” Is she the person behind the company? I don’t know, but she is always cooking up something delicious and making videos of it for everyone to enjoy. They also have a YouTube channel with videos dating back 8 years for so many of their products. And it looks like this year is Dash’s 10th anniversary. Has it been that long?

The bottom of the box has this cute saying:

Bottom of DASH box

They do have a sense of humor

The company’s fun vibe runs all throughout its website and social media channels. They encourage people to cook for themselves, which I’m sure has been happening more in the last year or so. Their web page for their waffle makers has a title tag that says, “Waffles are like pancakes with syrup traps.” Isn’t that the truth?

Their tag line, “unprocess your food,” encourages people to cook for themselves, however simple. You’ll see a number of vegan and vegetarian recipes demonstrated by “Ms. Dash,” as well as learn how to use some of their appliances when making recipes.

Ready To Go Mini?

Dash’s products are all produced with one idea: to make cooking easier and more enjoyable. Their smaller products make cooking for one or two easy without turning on the stove, and the larger products accommodate families.

All of the mini-makers make great gifts for graduates, aspiring cooks, or anyone with a sense of humor. Families with children can use them to teach cooking (with supervision, of course–they’re not toys.) And those living single can cook for themselves easier with smaller appliances.

So far, I’ve found them to be great little products that work well and deliver on their promises. I don’t have each and every one of them, but I will be buying more over time in the future. Yes, even that dehydrator. I don’t know about the fondue set yet.

Happy Cooking!

 

 

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