Awwwww-Booom

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PSA-160518-World Diets

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For those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health. It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.
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> 1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
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> 2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
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> 3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
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> 4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans…
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> 5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
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> CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.
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Good Friday Vittles

Today I spent eight hours in the kitchen baking and cooking. What you say? I spent the day baking and cooking. My part of Easter dinner at my daughter’s house is to bring a houska sweet bread. I remember my mom making these every Easter, so that is what I wanted to do. My recollection of the recipe did not exist, so I searched for a recipe from the All Recipes website. Houska is a yellow bread with a sweet taste, yellow raisens throughout, and scattered slivered almonds for interest. The bread is braided from three or four ropes of dough. Having eaten a truckload of these breads, but never making one it became the adventure of the day. Any bread requires yeast, and like a complete jerk I chose to use some outdated yeast for the first loaf. I know better, because I learned the hard way that yeast is like a pretty woman, finicky as hell. If the water used to dissolve it is too hot, you kill the yeast and bread becomes a dense flatbread instead of a light, fluffy, soft, airy, mellow bread. If the water is too cold, the yeast refuses to grow. The result is the same as killing it with hot water. Anyway, my old yeast worked, but not well. Did I mention that I never braided anything before? Well, I didn’t until today, proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

For the next loaf I used some fresh cake yeast, and mixed it with luke warm water. I stored the mix in the microwave to keep it warm. When I went to use it, I learned that the yeast grew so well it foamed out of the bowl all over the inside of the micro, messy to say the least.

It was way past lunch when I got the second batch of dough rising. I stopped to make egg salad for lunch. It turned out great. Good Friday is a meat-less day for us therefore, the eggs. Back to the bread after lunch, and a backyard bird watching session with Peg. We actually had a pair of Canada geese walk through the yard this morning, and during lunch a gander landed in the pond and swam through it.

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Can you find the goose in the 2015 Monet Vision-Early Spring?

Because I had such active yeast in batch two, I split the dough in half and made two loaves. The yeast did its job and the bread swelled to a good size. I got two beautiful loaves each braided from three ropes of dough. The big loaf in the photo used seven ropes, and two braidings. The first braid used four ropes and served as the base for the second which used three. I stacked the  three braid on top of the four braid. Does that make sense?

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About the time I had the baking dishes and utensils cleaned up, it was time to begin supper. My original idea was to make salmon patties. Again, I searched All Recipes and printed the first recipe. The first ones are the simplest and easiest to make. I went about gathering the ingredients, and much to my dismay the last two onions in the mesh bag were rotten. No salmon patties today. I remembered a dish my mother made practically every Friday during lent; buttered flat noodles with sour cream and cottage cheese folded in. Luckily I found some fettucine instead, and I also had the sour cream and cottage cheese on hand. It turned out great. Even though I am aware of not adding sour cream to a very hot mixture to keep it from curdling my stomach rushed the job, and the cream curdled a wee bit. It didn’t matter, the flavor was as I remembered it from boyhood. Currently, I am waiting for a high carb sleep to take over my body.

Fettucini, fried in butter  with sour cream folded in, topped with cottage cheese, and garnished with parsley.

Fettucine sautéed in butter with sour cream folded in, topped with cottage cheese, and garnished with parsley.

I told Peg that tonight I was celebrating the anniversary of Jesus dying on the cross for my sins, and that I would reciprocate by having a personal Irish wake in remembrance. In this case, with a newly opened bottle of Merlot.

Thank you Jesus for gifting me with Merlot.

Roughing It In A Luxury Home

Today, I conducted a war on terror. It isn’t finished, but we identified the vermin, it is terror. As the days go ahead, more and more experts will give opinions about what repairs will kill this scourge known as RLBW.

Peg and I are undertaking a complete renovation of our living quarters by having all the rooms painted within five days. It sounds easy at first, but along with the painting comes the repair of many drywall joints that have split open by the forces of a house settling. Our home is now old enough to drink by Illinois law, that makes it twenty-one.

For the past six years I have noticed a spot on one wall that has changed color. The snow-white wall had an ominous grey spot on it. I guessed it to be moisture. At that same time, I identified several roof leaks that were severely damaging some of the walls. Four years ago, I had a new roof installed to stop the leaking.$$$ It seemed to have worked. I never took the trouble to repair the grey spots, until this major paint job became a reality.$$$$$

This morning the crew attacked Peg’s sitting room at the front of the house and the terrorist popped out and reared his ugly head. In chipping away at some of the drywall to replace it with sound plaster, the technician discovered that the plaster around our front window is soaking wet. He began pulling down wet moldy wall thus exposing the RLBW (Roof leak behind walls). This discovery told me that replacing the roof at considerable expense did not correct this problem. It has leaked for another four years without our knowledge. The result is a sill plate that is so rotted it must be replaced. The rotten sill plate supports  the roof structure, and it is crumbling. Even as we tore away more of the drywall and insulation we could not find out the source of the water. My roofer sent a technician to  investigate, and of course he couldn’t find a thing wrong, but he did admit he is looking at a leak problem.

Peggy's Sitting Room

Peggy’s Sitting Room

Now the paint job has taken a new twist in the schedule. The priority has shifted from Peg’s room to my office, and I am knee-deep in the usual shit that takes over an office. Books by the shelf full, papers, and brochures to read later, my book notes, maps, and manuscript are strewn about the surface of my desk. Not to mention a bird’s nest of wires connecting printers, modems, hard drives, routers, that make up a modern office.

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Grumpa Joe’s Office

 

By the time I started to cook supper, I had transferred 95% of my stuff to another room with a solemn vow that 75% of it will never return. This is a great opportunity to purge, and to simplify, except I am doing the same with every room in the house. By the time the paint is dry, my body will be yearning for a couch in front of a big screen TV. Because of the extensive drywall repairs today, our bedroom is still wrapped in plastic waiting for a second coat of paint. That means Peg and I sleep in he guest room among all the stuff I moved there from the other rooms. There is a path around the bed into the bathroom and the bed itself is clear, so we will rough it in a strange bed. Gee it will be just like it is when we travel. Except for one thing, our guest room mattress does not match the same high quality of a Holiday Inn bed. It will be roughing it while the terrorist lurks two rooms away waiting for another opportunity to sneak water into the walls.$$$$$$$$$$

 

Crumbling Wall From RLBW

Crumbling Wall From RLBW

Rotten Sill Plate

Rotten SIll Plate

 

 

120 Minutes of Prep and 15 Minutes of Joy

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At three o’clock this afternoon, I emerged from the man-cave to prepare supper. I had a taste for beef stroganoff. The desire had built within me this past week, so I shopped for the ingredients: mushrooms, beef cut in strips, cream of mushroom soup, etc. I had it all. By three-fifty, I had the Paula Deen recipe simmering, and a side pot of water heating for fresh pasta. I forgot to buy wide noodles to serve with the stroganoff, so I substituted the only heavy pasta I had on hand, rigatoni.  While the heat did it’s job, I washed dishes and all the utensils I used for the prep. There was time for a quick dash to the basement wine cellar for a bottle of Cabernet which I promptly opened and began to imbibe while I sat at the computer for ten minutes before Peg asked me to help her with something. She is reviewing 2005 bank statements. Why she spends so much time trying to understand something that she can’t remember for more than ten seconds I do not understand. All I know is that my life is crazy lately repeating the same explanation over, and over, and over again. I have to admit, today I lost it, and got angry, and my voice proclaimed a pronounced displeasure with the routine. I finished breakfast dishes and escaped to the man-cave. I cut and ground wood into shapes that will ultimately look like a flower. After several hours my back announced it was time for a break, thus we join the opening sentence.

The stroganoff turned out delicious, but it only took me fifteen minutes to satisfy my lust and to eat the stuff. No wonder dining out is so expensive. Someone has to be paid to make the things we order. Either way, I pay in money, or in time. Home made is superior to restaurant made any day. I will match my culinary skills with that of any chef in the world including Emeril or Giada. They have only one thing over me as cooks, they know how to make more than five recipes (and Giada is a hell of a lot better looking than me), but I will compete with them on the five I make.

Burp.

Crumbling Ego

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Today, I decided to bake some Hungarian walnut filled  crescent cookies(Kiflik) for Christmas. I whipped out Mom’s trusty green covered cookbook and found the recipe. I had all the ingredients handy, so I jumped into the activity headfirst. The project began at nine this morning and finished at noon. The result was disappointing. The last time I made these cookies was last year. It was a baking day with my grand-daughter. Last year was the first time in my life that I made them, so this was a second chance at glory. I failed to achieve glory, but because they are not perfect I have a rather large batch of cookies to consume by myself.

Foe some reason unbeknownst to me the dough was very crumbly. The crumbliness made the dough hard to roll out, even more hard to hand-roll into shape, and after baking they crumble in your hand. They still taste good, they just don’t look good nor do they behave like a crescent cookie should, that is, to stay firm in your hand as you bite into the lusciousness. If there are any readers who bake, and know what makes a dough crumbly please tell me what the heck I did wrong.

Dough after one hour of rest.

Dough after one hour of rest.

Hungarian Crescent Cookies (Kiflik)

Hungarian Crescent Cookies (Kiflik)

As bad as they are I cannot stop eating them.

A Dark Day Made Worse by Rain

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Dreary December days bring on depression. I am one who needs sunlight to survive, and today was one of those dark days made worse by rain. The only bright spot was watching my bride eat one of her classic breakfasts. Usually she has a pretend breakfast. She will set out a number of things like a banana, an egg, juice, rice crispy square, and anything else that might suit her fancy. I’ll chug down my bowl of cereal with milk and a side of coffee. We spend time together, then she will get up to get her bathrobe so she won’t spill on her good clothes. By the time she returns I have finished, and I am cleaning up. She does the same thing, and puts all her stuff away, without tasting a single thing. I know better than to comment, I just shrug and ignore her lack of interest in eating. This morning I had eggs, so she said she would have an egg too. That means hard boiling eggs to please her palette. In the meantime my stomach growls loudly while waiting for those eggs to harden. It takes seventeen minutes to boil an egg hard. Then, there is a cool down and finally removal from the shell. Meanwhile, my two fried eggs are still in the shell waiting to hit the fry pan..
This morning Peg waited for the hard-boiled eggs. I finally served her two hard-boiled eggs on a plate before I fried my eggs. When I finally sat down to eat she got up to get a cake from the fridge. She wanted a slice of strawberry chocolate cream cake with her egg. I had to slice her a piece before I could finally attack my cooled fried eggs. Who eats strawberry chocolate cream cake with hard-boiled eggs? Not me for sure. I could not resist photographing the event. Today was a day when she actually ate breakfast. Oh, by the way do you see the orange juice container on the table, but a glass of Pepsi next to her plate.?

Lord help me, please.

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