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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.

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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!

Chaffles and cheesecake on square red plate
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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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