Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner Revolution

Thanksgiving Dinner Revolution

~ Thanksgiving Dinner Revolution ~

... it all started out simple enough
a small and quiet supper
for her, for you, and for me
not so different from any other Thursday
but then it began, an evolution
taking on a life of its own
it exploded into a revolution
... and the damn chicken was now three!

... twas so simple in the beginning, before
piles of green beans and other things
clamored for space on the counter top
as sacks of potatoes sat on the floor
pots and pans lined up on the stove
the rebellion cheered, they roared for more
... and the damn chicken was now three.

... quiet of the day was shattered
a house to be cleaned
table leaves to be found
pies to be baked and salads prepared
relish trays and appetizers made
we were all scurrying around
extra chairs would need to be scrounged
... and the damn chicken was now three.

... valiantly we stayed our stations, as
knives were flying, onions were dying
bread crumbs soared high in a bowl
the soufflé exploded from the middle rack
showering eggs and sugar upon the burner
strafing candied oranges for flak
... and the damn chicken was now three.

... resolved to our new dinner order
plates and forks were marched around
the table filled with clinking glasses
wine was summoned from the cellar deep
as gravy flowed into the boats
the heaping platters took center place
... and the damn chicken was now three.

... it all began so innocently
it was never meant to be a feast
just dinner, for her, for you, for me
no turkey, not this year, just a chicken
and potatoes, some beans and dinner rolls
but word snuck out
they all began to shout
first two
then four
get another chicken
run back to the store
but hungry cries came
from a dozen more!
what else could we do?
trapped unable to flee

The one Damn had to become three!

2008 © MrBill

Damn Chickens This has been the tale of the 2008 Thanksgiving Dinner Revolution. For those seeking background on the Damn Chickens haiku, this may help explain why there were so many damn chickens.
Words to the wise: if you don't want to be found, get out of town!

Oh MY! and Other Mysteries of Fixin' Brekkie

Oh MY!
and Other Mysteries
of Fixin' Brekkie

Oh MY! ... can you believe it???
Three days running and nothing has !EXPLODED! during brekkie preparation!!!
The nuclurizer has been well behaved. As have the eggs and oatmeal. I am not sure how long this streak can last, so I will revel in it while I can!

Today I baked brekkie in my countertop oven. I do not have a real oven, so I bake, toast, and broil in a European style countertop oven, sort of an overgrown toaster oven. Today's menu was Cranberry-Walnut muffin bread. Yes, muffin-bread not muffins. I don't have any muffin tins that will fit in the smaller oven, but I do have a smaller sized loaf pan that does fit. So when I get a hankering for muffins, I mix up my muffin batter and plop it the loaf pan and bake muffin-bread!

This is your standard muffin recipe:

2½ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

To which I added:
1 cup dried cranberries (Crazins)
1 cup chopped walnuts

I make these substitutions:
1 cup milk and cut the oil to 1/4 cup
Splenda instead of sugar

I prefer using half unbleached flour and half whole wheat flour.

Mix the standard ingredients thoroughly,
stir in the cranberries and walnuts,
scrape muffin mixture into lightly oiled loaf pan,
Bake @ 375Âș for 30 minutes or until top is nicely brown.
!!! ENJOY !!!
I enjoyed mine sliced and toasted, with a thin spread of cream cheese, and a mug of my favourite super strong coffee grown in the rain forest of Guatemala!

So what did you have for Brekkie this morning?
Did you have any memorable mishaps in preparing breakfast lately?
Buon Appetite! ;-)

For more catastrophes "and Other Mysteries of Fixin' Brekkie" click below:
Exploding Eggs and Other Mysteries of Fixin' Brekkie

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gazelle: The Perfect Home Workout Machine!

The winter holiday season has a way of putting pounds on people and getting many folks thinking about their needing to exercise. This often becomes a New Year's Resolution, and brings requests for exercise videos, club memberships, and all sorts of crazy contraptions and home exercise machines on Christmas Wish Lists.

The current line-up of exercise bikes, treadmills, stair-steppers, and most other home exercise machines are just too gimmicky, and those machines take up way too much space at home. On top of all that, the majority of these mammoth machines end up collecting dust, being used as clothes racks, and cluttering rooms and stealing valuable floor space at home.

The biggest not-so-secret secret to a successful home exercise program is to do something you really enjoy doing, and then do it regularly. Unfortunately many people are suckered by advertising into buying exercise gadgets and machines that they do not enjoy using.

There seems to be an inverse correlation between the complexity of an exercise apperatus and the probability of owner usage - the more bells and whistles the machine has = the less likely the machine will get used! Easy to use machines get loved and used much more regularly by their owners.

My favourite way to exercise is to ride my real bicycle most of the year. When the weather is just too nasty outside, I have a Gazelle for working out indoors.

GazelleYes, a Gazelle! You probably have seen the goofy TV Infomercials with Tony Little for the Gazelle. Get past the TV goofiness and check out a FitnessQuest Gazelle at any of several major retail chains. They have floor models setup that you can try before you buy.

The Gazelle sort of mimics walking or running, and most important to me - it is much like cross-country skiing! In any of the modes the Gazelle works both upper and lower body (something that most treadmills or exer-bikes don't do). The Gazelle provides a good cardio/aerobic workout with resistance training in one easy workout while also being very low-impact!

The Gazelle adapts immediately and automatically to different users no matter their height or length of legs or arms. No need to make adjustments to seats or handgrips. Just step onto the foot platforms, grasp the cushioned handles at a comfortable level, and begin the striding motion to start you on your way!

In use, the Gazelle is almost silent. No need for earphones (and those tangled wires) to listen to your favourite tunes while working out on your Gazelle. It is easy to position your Gazelle in front of the TV and watch your favourite channel. Why be a couch-potatoe when you can watch your shows and still get a workout!

BIG PLUS -- the Gazelle folds flat and can be slipped under a bed or couch (or just leaned up against the wall) when you need to reclaim the floor space. To fold and hide or set the Gazelle back up takes only seconds and no tools!

Another consideration for home exercise equipment is cost. Many of the available machines cost hundreds, some of them thousands, of dollars! I got my Gazelle from a national retail store for only $79.00 (plus tax of course). The Gazelle also comes in a box that fits in the trunk of an average car making it easy to buy and take home. Many of the treadmills and exer-bikes require waiting for delivery. The Gazelle is also easy to set-up. Took me less than 30 minutes to read the directions and assymble my Gazelle, and it even included the wrench to tighten the bolts right in the box!

P.S. If you really must have a gadget with your exercise machine ... the standard Gazelle model comes with a digital read-out on the center bar that displays time, distance, speed, etc. However, for those folks that have to have a lot of gadgetry - Gazelle offers a more expensive version with a "thumb-pulse" heart-rate monitor gizmo - that model sells for about $169.00.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bagel Bungle and Other Mysteries of Fixin' Brekkie

Bagel Bungle
and Other Mysteries
of Fixin' Brekkie

... it's been about five months since the last time I reported being attacked by exploding eggs or the infamous Tahoe oatmeal avalanche ... during this time the nukloorizer has been well behaved (knock*knock*knock on a wooden spoon) ... but like all great sport streaks ... and I truly believe my streak was much more amazing and note-worthy than what's-his-face breaking the homerun record ... after all, there are no steroids used in my pancake batter! ... but as fantastic as my streak was ... it eventually had to come to an end ...

The end of this streak was spectacular. You could even say, "It went down in flames!" ... alas, very small flames ... but flames none-the-less! And there was smoke too! Actually more smoke than flames. You know ... come to think of it ... there really wasn't a whole lot of smoke either ... not enough to alarm the smoke detector just ten, maybe twelve, feet away. Which in retrospect is probably the preferred way for this streak to come to a blistering blackened finish.

I hate toasters! So much so, that I have not had one for years! I believe the last toaster to ever step one of its crumby little feet in my domicile was sent packing with the ex ... no doubt a magnanimous gesture on my part - "Oh, let's not quibble, you love PopTarts®, you should have the toaster!" ... ok, admittedly that was self-serving. My seeming acquiescence distracted her from my treasured convection oven ... it also got the bastard bread burner out the door!

So, I don't have a toaster ... but I also do not have an oven ... well, not the kind of oven most people think of when someone says they have a loaf in the oven ... This is the second loft I have lived in, that while having a kitchen, it does not have a typical stove complete with oven. There is a tight three burner gas cooktop with one of those overhead touchpad-nukloorizer-fan-light combos mounted over it. Instead of a normal oven, I have a European countertop oven. It's just right-sized for cooking for one or two - bigger than a toaster oven (and without that nasty word in its title), but just big enough to bake a chicken or small roast, a loaf of bread, or a sixpack of muffins. It has all kinds of twisty dials and settings, one of which is a timer.

This morning, my dear little countertop oven became possessed ... I doubt it was by evil spirits since I only drink 12 year or older single malt scotch ... so it might have been a GatherGlitchGremilin® on a late summer Tahoe holiday ... Whatever got into it ... my trusty little oven burnt the basis of my brekkie - the BAGEL! No, I don't mean it was a little well-done ... I mean burnt as in torched, cremated ... charcoal! I am a fan of Cajun cooking, but not even Paul Prudhomme nor Emeril has written a recipe for Blackened Bagels ...

I had slice the bagel, selected broil, and set the timer for 4 minutes, just like I always do for my bagels or English muffins. The coffee was ready so I poured a cup and sat down to read the paper until the oven's little bell would signal that my bagel was ready to be smeared and topped with lox ... becoming engrossed in article after article in the paper I finished my first cup of coffee ... it is a rather large cup ... a mug really ... and as I got up for a refill I thought to myself that I must have ignored the oven bell and my bagel might well be luke warm by now ...

Oh nO! the bagel was plenty hot! As I opened the oven door, I was greeted by a puff of smoke and two smoldering bagel halves. The oven was not broiling away, but was still on ... inspecting the timer dial I discovered the indicator to have settled in the position between the last tick and the off tock. I had not missed the bell, it never rang! In this half-assed/half-off/half-on dial position the oven was only half hot too. But hot enough with an extra fifteen minutes to render my bagel into two huge charcoal tablets!!!

bagel bungle

I turned on the nukloorizer's fan to clear the smoke, then grab the smoldering rings of black with my tongs and pitched them in the sink. A splash of cold water extinguished the last of their flame. Hmmm ... the garbage-gulping-thing under the sink seemed to enjoy the burnt bagels ... the charcoal even sweetened its breath ...

I then started the process again. I sliced another bagel and placed it split side up. Then gave the twisty timer dial a couple run-through twists, cherishing the sound of the little I'm done! bell each time I twisted the dial into the off position. Feeling that all of us were ready for the second inning ... I set the timer ... and crossed my fingers. I poured another cup of coffee and readied the cream cheese and lox to pass the time while maintaining a vigil on the oven timer and watching the bagels turn golden brown ...

breakfast,burnt,lox and cream cheese,lox,mysteries of fixing brekkie,bagel bungle,bagel,eating outdoors,bungle,bagel smear,brunch,burnt bagel,lox and cream cheese bagel,al fresco,outdoors,bagel smear with lox,alfrescoThe timer was on time this time. The bell rang and the bagels were perfectly broiled. I gave them each a loving smear of cream cheese, then decorated the tops with carefully arranged tidbits of smoked salmon. My Tigger cup full of coffee, the lox and bagels, and I then marched out on the deck to enjoy our brekkie as brunch al fresco di Tahoe!

I hope your Saturday brekkie was less eventful, but just as delicious and delightful!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Exploding Eggs and Other Mysteries of Fixin' Brekkie

Exploding Eggs
and Other Mysteries

of Fixin' Brekkie

My eggs !EXPLODED! in the nuclurizer this morning. No no, I know better than to just stick whole eggs in the nuclurizer, these were scrambled eggs. In fact, they are the pre-scrambled type eggs, the ones that come in the milk carton like container. I have been using this particular brand of pre-scrambled eggs for a couple years now. I find it a greatly convenient product. Just twist off the cap and pour in skillet or microwavable container and cook! No cracking and looking for shell fragments (I'll leave that to the medics on the front line, we're discussing back burner issues here) plus no whisking in a bowl that has to also be washed. The pre-scrambled eggs make for quick and easy brekkie - plain old scrambled eggs, french toast, omlets; they also make a great base for quiche or simulated souffles.

During the couple years I have used this brand of pre-scrambles they have never before done this - !EXPLODE! - all over the inside of the nuclurizer. Ugghh! what a mess! Had to first scrape off and then wipe down the sides, top, bottom, and the inside of the door of the nuclurizer. Once the after-math of the nuclurizer melt-down was contained, I started over, and now I am enjoying a delicious trattata with my espresso.

So what did you have for Brekkie this morning?

Did you have any memorable mishaps in preparing breakfast lately?

Buon Appetite! ;-)