Random Thoughts – May 2021

Sat 5/8

Writing has been difficult the past several weeks. Got no Mojo. Sometimes you just have to put your butt in the chair and start. And this morning I’m putting my butt in my chair and writing. My future best seller though is on the shelf for now. I’m writing but the book is just too much effort for what I hope will be a relaxing Saturday. So to write while keeping it light this month’s random thoughts are about my pantry.

Entering year two of the pandemic the pantry is pretty well stocked. A prepper wouldn’t agree with this statement but I’m not preparing for the end of the world. I just want to be prepared for the coming supply chain shortages. Remember last year when no one knew what the hell was happening and panic drove some to buy rooms full of toilet paper? Well the year ahead will be interesting and different from the beginning stages and perhaps more challenging.

I was at the grocery store and ground turkey is always on my list. A couple of trips ago the store had no ground turkey. Nada. Nothing. Zero. So I was quite pleased to see the store restocked with plenty of ground turkey. I was not pleased to discover a nearly 50% increase in the price. Your frugal writer didn’t buy any. Ground turkey is merely an example. Who knows what will or won’t be available? The reality is whatever you want to buy will cost you more. Hello inflation.

Labor shortages, supply constraints, high freight costs and increasing commodity prices all combine to create higher prices for you and me. I read somewhere that some of the biggest retailers and distributors are fining their suppliers for late or incomplete orders which will add more to the cost for us. Bizarre business strategy if you ask me but it’s happening. Prices inevitably will go up.

So under the assumption your pantry is decently stocked here’s what I would do moving forward.

Buy more of what you need when it’s on sale. Memorial Day is coming up which means a lot of picnic and cookout items will be on sale. Stock up.

Use food storage containers. We bought more yesterday. Keep any tiny creepy crawlers out of your stash.

Be willing to substitute when prices demand substitution. No ground turkey for me at $6.29 a pound. Instead I bought boneless chicken breast for $6.49 a pound on sale, regularly $8.49 a pound (yes it was a higher quality chicken and I wasn’t at Whole Paycheck Food Market).

Drink good Scotch.

Hope you like my list.

Still Here

If you think they’re gone, think again
Still here
You cannot see them but then again
They are in your thoughts and dreams
Still here
We have memories
Still here
Look into your heart
Love never dies
Still here

Bluesman54 – Project #1

Nice body.
  1. Revive Frankenstrat II project from 2006. I bought a beat up used guitar way back and took it apart. I still have all of the parts except for the body which disappeared somewhere in Stillwater Oklahoma 15 years ago. So I needed a body.
  2. Rename project. This project is now known as Bluesman54 Project #1.
  3. Buy a body (see picture above).
  4. Determine if wood grain is attractive enough for a clear coat or stain required.
  5. Sand and finish.
  6. Neck decision is next.

Veggie Burrito Spice Blend

Spice Blend for Veggie Burritos

2 tsp chili powder – 1 tsp cumin – 1 tsp smoked paprika – 1/2 tsp coriander 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp garlic powder

Chickpea and Broccoli Burrito — https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito

This blend of spices is literally stolen from the chefs at https://www.badmanners.com/. The last time I took a theme on a spice blend the author tracked me down and threatened something close to legal action if I didn’t give her credit and a link to her website. So this time around I’m giving credit AND three links. I’m also not going to write down any instructions for making a roasted vegetable and chickpea filling for burritos. I suggest you go to the original recipe at https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito if you need detailed instructions.

My Tips, Hints, and not too Secret Secrets

A really good tortilla makes all the difference. But today I’m going to wrap this filling in a Greek style whole wheat pita for lunch. I tend to roast vegetables for at least 40 minutes with a good stir midway through to prevent sticking. You can also add more olive oil at this point too. I hope I have a lime in the fridge. The last time I made this filling The Boss used it as a topping for a Taco Salad. She liked it. I hope she was telling the truth because when you cook up a pound of dried chickpeas it is a LOT of chickpeas. One cup dried will produce between 6 and 7 cups of beans. I used about 4 cups for today’s mix. The other 3 cups went into a Sweet Potato and Chickpea Stew (no link yet, recipe is still in draft form).

I used some metal pie pans as roasting pans because I didn’t want to use the big pan which is a pain in the ass to clean because of its size. Preheat your pan(s) before roasting. I leave the mixing bowl uncleaned and use it again once the veggies are roasted and done. Let the mixture cool for a bit, toss everything back into this bowl, mix well again to capture the spices that have stuck to the bowl and then adjust your seasonings.

Postscript

No lime. I used lemon instead.

I wasn’t kidding about using pie pans.

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Parmesan

Have you ever roasted frozen vegetables? Me neither.  But a quick referral to Dr. Google offers up recipes and instructions for this time and money saving technique. Maybe this method actually works (because everything you read on the internet is TRUTH). So a few weeks ago during a Pandemic Pantry shopping trip I picked up a few one pound bags of frozen cauliflower ( a buck a bag). I also bought a small jar of minced garlic which I promised my younger self I would never use because fresh is better until I used some at my son’s house. Hmmm…..

Here’s the original Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan post from several years ago. Here’s what’s in the oven right now:

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Parmesan

One package frozen cauliflower (32 ounces)
Extra virgin olive oil
Minced garlic
Dried thyme
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Place the florets into a baking/roasting pan with sides.
  3. Spread the pieces into the pan. Make sure they don’t touch each other.
  4. Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil. Toss with a spoon. You want a nice thin coating of oil on each piece.
  5. Lightly salt and pepper, dust with Parmesan and sprinkle with a hint of thyme.
  6. Add two tablespoons of minced garlic. Toss lightly again
  7. Place in the oven and roast for approximately 35-40 minutes. Shake the pan or stir/toss every 10 minutes or so to ensure most of the surfaces of each floret get browned (this is why you want a pan with sides).
  8. When nicely browned add a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese over the cauliflower. Roast for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  9. Transfer the cauliflower to a serving bowl and add more Parmesan.
  10. Eat.

TIPS – The amount of garlic is personal preference and dependent upon how garlicky you like your food and the number of guests at the table. Same for the cheese but you can never have too much cheese or garlic. This dish is not vegan but if you must, leave out the cheese. Don’t forget the shake and/or stir part because when you use minced garlic it can and will burn.

Lessons learned – minced garlic DOES burn but despite appearances did not taste burned at all. Also, one pound of frozen cauliflower is not a lot of cauliflower.

Unfortunately this dish is also Not Tiny Taste Tester Approved.  She was not present for my roasted frozen vegetable experiment.

“Is a Collie Flower a dog?”

Random Thoughts – April 2021

Sunday 04.04.21

My self imposed beer ban has ended. And to avoid any feelings of guilt and shame I created a new list. My new list is Things You Can Have in the House but Only on Occasion. Last week the trip to the store started as any other trip to the store. I had a short list and planned to stick to the list. But when I was in the store I found myself mesmerized by the beer choices while standing in front of the colorful cans all calling out to me. I broke down and bought a six pack. My three month self imposed beer ban ended and immediately on the way home the rationalization began.

I promised myself I would closely monitor my weight (an empty promise since I weigh myself daily). I probably lost my taste for beer and I won’t drink any (nope). I committed to drinking just one can a day (that lasted just one day). In the end I could only justify my purchase by making up a new house rule so I could drink the one beverage that caused me to create house rules to begin with. I know I’m being too hard on myself. But that’s what people do when they know they can eat and drink themselves back up to 370 pounds. I never want to weigh that much again so I am always pretty hard on myself.

When I tell people I used to weigh 370 pounds they don’t believe me. With my sense of humor a lot of people really don’t know if I’m kidding. Well, I’m not joking. I used to weigh 370 and I never ever want to wear 44 inch waist jeans again. Beer was one of the culprits way back when and beer could easily become my Number One Nemesis again.

Then during the last week of March all hell broke loose. We left home and our normal routines for four days of bonding with Tiny Humans. That was the good part of the trip. As you may have already guessed the bad part was me being bad. I had three restaurant meals via delivery to the house.

Although some restaurants provide high-quality foods, the dietary quality for meals away from home, especially from fast-food chains, is usually lower compared with meals cooked at home. Evidence has shown that meals away from home tend to be higher in energy density, fat, and sodium, but lower in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protective nutrients such as dietary fiber and antioxidants.

Frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home linked to increased risk of early death — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210325084824.htm

A couple of beers I found in the fridge found their way into my belly. I did not weigh myself while I was gone. I ATE CHOCOLATE CAKE THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW. I might have eaten some chocolate chip cookies too. Maybe even a few pieces of chocolate here and there.

Too much sugar is unhealthy – that we know, but it’s not just down to the many calories. Even moderate amounts of added fructose and sucrose double the body’s own fat production in the liver, researchers have shown. In the long term, this contributes to the development of diabetes or a fatty liver.

Consumption of added sugar doubles fat production — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210316100709.htm

I was completely out of my normal routine and beginning to believe I had lost all control. I feared the worst.

We got back home on a Thursday evening. On Friday morning I approached the bathroom scale with immense trepidation. The Truth was about to unfold and when the number came into view I had actually lost a pound since the Sunday before. I was very bad and still lost some weight. Sigh. Of. Relief.

Yesterday morning I was at the grocery store with my short list of things to buy. When I got to the beer aisle I kept walking. I reminded myself of my new list and promised myself it was OK to put beer on the Things You Can Have in the House but Only on Occasion list. Then I went to the liquor store and bought myself a bottle of Monkey Shoulder blended single malt scotch. It was my reward for surviving a multi-day period of dietary indiscretions.

The 90+ Study finds link between moderate Alcohol Consumption and Longevity

https://www.mind.uci.edu/90-study-finds-link-moderate-alcohol-consumption-longevity/

Purely medicinal of course.

Random Thoughts (of beer) – March 2021

I haven’t had a beer in three months. When I go to the grocery store I typically stand in front of the refrigerated beer case for several minutes surveying the choices. The cans are colorful, designed by those whose understand the science of attraction and they are successful in making me stop and browse. The most surprising thing besides not recognizing most of the choices was the fact I still have no desire for a beer. Real world proof the less you have something the less you want it. This is probably true for most things except chocolate and pizza.

For the first time in a long time I’ve been thinking about removing beer from my Don’t Have It In the House list. The scale tells me I’m holding steady at 169-170. For years I dreamed about reversing the ravages of time believing I could disprove the long held belief that everyone puts on a pound or two every year the older you become. Well this “inevitable” weight gaining process doesn’t have to happen. You have to be disciplined about what you eat and what you have to make sacrifices if you want to avoid taking up two seats instead of one on the bus and/or diabetes, and…

“Weight change is a common symptom when people are having difficulty coping with mental health challenges. A majority of adults (61%) reported experiencing undesired weight changes since the start of the pandemic, with more than 2 in 5 (42%) saying they gained more weight than they intended. Of this group, adults reported gaining an average of 29 pounds (with a median gain of 15 pounds), and 1 in 10 (10%) said they gained more than 50 pounds. For the 18% of Americans who said they lost more weight than they wanted to, the average amount of weight lost was 26 pounds (median of 12 pounds).”

American Psychological Association
Stress in America February 2021 Harris Poll

You have to make hard choices and oftentimes difficult sacrifices. Like keeping beer as Number One on the you know what list and being extremely disciplined when tempted standing in the store where temptation rears her fangs. I am not a saint nor do I plan on placing beer on a Never Eat or Drink list. I’ve merely chosen to drink a lot less of the stuff because I know this beverage puts the weight on for me.

Besides I’ve gotten a lot of expressions of shock from people who haven’t seen me in a while. I guess dropping over 20 pounds will elicit such comments. I’ve had to pull my belt in by two notches. But I really think my face lost weight because faces can and do lose weight. What you think?

May 2020 and March 2021

Are Journals Memoir? — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

By Rasma Haidri

All writing is hard work, and the memoirist’s work is among the hardest. Journaling, whether stuttered fragments or flowing spontaneous prose, is among the easiest as it doesn’t have to do anything or go anywhere or impress anyone. No one is going to read it. Journals are where we record the raw material for memoir. The journal narrates ideas, dreams and struggles in a context we are now far removed from. The journal’s narrator always predates who we think we are today.

Are Journals Memoir? — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

I’ve finally written an introduction to my future best seller that I’m actually satisfied with. The five or six previous versions are trash. Hopefully I’ll still be happy with my latest draft. Only 10 Chapters to go.