Grumpy Old Man

Retired from a chequered career in construction and curmudgeonly.

  • Website
  • Location: OnALoggin'Track, Texas
  • Favorite foods: See food, eat food, unless it's a durian.
  • Last bite on earth: A good baguette. Too bad I can't make one.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

Look, you can eat 100% healthy and work out and cook all of your own food, never eat out, and still have health problems. And need health insurance.

I wouldn't dream of claiming otherwise, nor do I object to blatantly socialist nature of the proposed health care reforms. This nation became a socialist country under Lyndon Baines Johnson. There is nothing I can do about that and I cannot see any point in objecting to any pending legislation owing to its "socialist" nature.

And no, I do not expect you to suddenly begin inhaling packaged cookies. Whatever on earth gave you the notion that I was making such a claim? The point I am making is that there are a great many people who do inhale such stuff and that it is making them obese. Such people are responsible for their behavior and no one else. The trouble is, the government is unlikely to treat with us that way.

As I have pointed out, the government is ill-equipped to implement anything other than a one size fits all solution. They will treat with you and I as though we do inhale the equivalent of packaged cookies because that is what so many people do.

Personal responsibility says, "I can take care of myself quite handily, Uncle Sam, thank you very much. No, you are not going to tell me how I must live my life."

Green Rice w/ Pine Nuts

It's best with an aromatic rice, dhorst. Oh, and you're welcome.

Snapshots from the UK: Wagamama's Defunct #28 (Chili Mushroom Ramen)

The Chili's restaurant chain used to serve a chili burger that was actually their "Old Timer" served open face with a quarter cup or so of chile con carne and cheddar cheese. They stopped serving it so I stopped visiting Chili's restaurants. This will not make any difference to them and I know it, but that was the only thing on their menu that I liked.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

Oh, and just in case anyone is not up on the news, Health Care Reform Legislation is pending in the US Senate as I am writing this. I have no doubt that it will be a very large bill based on what Senator Edward Kennedy's staff has been writing for several months. I expect it to pass both Houses without it ever being read in full by any legislator. Nor do I have reason to believe that either House will spend any time supervising the FDA and other such agencies while the rules of promulgation are hammered out. Nor is there a reason to think that there will ever be any notification of what those rules are. FDA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and is not, therefore, an independent agency required to make such notification.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge


The thing that you just don't seem to be getting is that *this* isn't the crowd who goes and buys the cookies!!!!!!!

Yes, I do understand that. Here is what I want to know. Are serious eaters going to standby and allow the behavior of fools, the majority who are not Serious Eaters in this case, dictate their diets? There is nothing wrong with eating the occasional hamburger w/ fries and a coke, but there is are grave risks associated with eating such stuff every day.

This doesn't even make sense! You wrongly assume that someone who would purchase cookies at the store would then sit and eat 700 calories worth a day?

Oh, yes, yes, sure. Nabisco's Chips Ahoy brand of cookies claims 5 calories per gram. A bag of those last about thirty minutes in the average household. Then there is the cold cereal, already too sweet, with a couple of teaspoons of sugar on top. The large serving of potato chips with two sandwiches made from sliced bread and cheap lunch meat, sugar cured, and a beer or a cocktail or tall soft drink, and then we all go out to the local fast food joint for supper. I watch what people do, I do notmake assumptions. Do you know who does make assumptions? The Federal Government. When they see the majority doing X and Y they assume that everyone does.

The Federal Government has no choice about whether or not it wants to make assumptions. The people in the government have not got the time to make allowances for individual behavior. They always impose a one size fits all solution because that is the only way they can do it.

Now, let's talk about agendas. Guess who has a clear agenda, Robert Kenner, Elise Pearlstein, William Pohlad, Jeff Scholl, Robin Schorr, Dianne Weyermann, Eric Schlosser, Richard Pierce and Melissa Robledo and probably a great many more who I have not named. Any of those names ring a bell with you?

My position is that I want the freedom to buy the foods I wish to buy, from whomever I choose to buy them, without interference from the government or from some wigged out NGO whose members suffer from a Messiah complex. Ergo, I am arguing in favor of individual freedom.

And, unless you have data to back your claims, it is you who assume that the majority on this forum do not wish to read what I write. While we are on the subject of majorities, what if the majority does not wish to read what I write? Nothing about this arrangement of this forum forces them to read anything I post. You don't have to read anything I write if you do not want to. Nothing and no one is forcing you to read my posts.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

Yes, I did. Here is the entire thread for those who want to read it without searching. Esther's Marmalade Cake.

One or two slices of cake a week, even at 700 calories per slice, will not hurt you, especially if you get out and exercise. Seven hundred calories per day every day because you can buy cheap cookies at the grocery store will hurt you. How many cookies will you eat if you have to bake every one of them? How many cakes will you bake in a month?

For most people the answer is not very many or none. For avid cooks, especially those who are weight conscious? Once or twice a month.

Are you getting it yet? You must be getting close, given that you pointed out, "Poor food choices have something to do with the title, store bought or self made from scratch." You are right on this score. Here is what I said in the thread you mentioned:
Cakes, cookies and other such stuff should be an occasional treat, not an every day thing. Once in a while, say once or twice in a month, they are not so bad. Eat them every day and you'll rot your teeth while busting your belt.

You are responsible for what you put in your mouth, not the corporations in the food industry. It ain't MacDonald's or Burger King who makes your kids fat, it's you the parent.

People in the government and certain other control freak advocacy groups are insisting that it is all the fault of that evil fast-food industry. Oh, and there is also the "Don't eat meat! You're being mean to the animals" crowd, and then there is also "Don't eat meat because it is bad for the environment" crowd and the "I get a meat hangover so meat must be bad for everyone" sentiment.

If you want the government in full control of your diet then all you need do is remain silent in the face of these kinds of scare mongers and advocacy groups.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge


You brought up something that piqued my interest and I have been doing a bit of casual research on it.

I can recall exactly when the latest anti-smoking campaign reached fever pitch. It was right after this rather odd air crash. It was one of those days when the Universe Changed. A man named Don Estridge, the man who was in charge of developing the first IBM PC, was sitting in the front part of Delta 191 because he did not smoke. A number of his key employees were sitting in the forward section of the plane as well. Two of them, however, were sitting in the after part of the plane because they smoked. The two sitting aft, as well as many other passengers, survived. Nearly everyone sitting in the forward section survived.

This crash changed history in two ways. The next version of IBM's personal computer was a complete dud and smoking on domestic flights were banned within a month.

If you look at when our obesity problem started, 1980, and when this crash occurred, the match in trends is striking. As the number of smokers declined, the number of obese people increased dramatically. Mind you, people were kicking the habit at an increasing rate prior to the Delta 191 crash, but the government did not become serious about stamping out smoking right after the crash.

What we have here is a very strong clue, not proof and I do not believe that smoking is a preferred solution to obesity. I can say that I had to struggle to keep my weight down after I stopped smoking and that struggle was more unpleasant than the withdrawal symptoms.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

Isn't it? As I have pointed out and will here point out again, the government may well decide to regulate or prohibit the consumption of several food items. Some of them are quite necessary to even the most basic of recipes.

Dairy-free cornbread

There is always hot water cornbread or "hoe-cakes".

Tart cherries -- seeking inspiration ....

Well, let's see. Syrup? Juice or cider? Cherry juice would go well with apple juice or even white grape juice.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

Again, GOM, you just spent half of a long post talking about your political views. You keep making assumptions purely to back up your rants on "our odious leadership.

Not assumptions, observations. Currently we have a governor who abandoned his duties for a week, giving no one any advance notice, so that he could have a tryst with his lover in Argentina. Also, we have the wife of a well known congressman about to serve time for corruption charges. We need not look too far back to find a governor who became addicted to a prostitute and used state funds to satisfy his addiction. We have a Secretary of the Treasury on duty who falsified his tax returns.

I don't understand what politics has to do with what I want to make for dinner. I purchase the foods I want to eat from where I want to purchase them.

So far, so good. What if in the name of the health care reform, our odious political leadership elects to remove your favorite foods from the shelves of your favorite grocer? It is even more likely that the government will remove meats from grocery store shelves in the name of "the environment.".

The possibilities I am pointing out are not at all far-fetched. There are more than a few folks who already advocate such measures.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

My apologies to any and all who were offended. It was not my intent to offend, but to provoke thought. If there is any audience on this Earth for whom this subject is important it should be this one. People who participate in this forum are people who take food seriously. I know that. There are serious gourmets here. I should think that there is more than one professional chef here. There are likely restaurant owners here. Certainly there are more than a few journalists who specialize in covering the food industry here.

If you took what I said the wrong way, assuming that I was talking about you personally in my first two posts and not the public at large, rest assured that it was the public at large that I meant to describe.

I also understand that many would prefer to avoid politics on this forum. I agree that the subject does often lead to some unpleasant correspondence, but I do not see how we can escape this particular issue. Forewarned is forearmed.

Some of you seem to think or fear that I am preaching against health care reform, but I have seen that as inevitable for a long time. For one thing, most of the major employers in the United States are at their wits end with health care system now extant and want the government to sort it out.

Knowing that health care reform of one kind or another is inevitable, one is obliged to think about what will come next. Consequences of an action are often unforeseen simply because we do not think things all the way through. Many who participate on this forum will not only find their lifestyles affected by health care reform, but will also find their livelihoods and businesses affected by it.

Our political leadership is not reliable if left to its own devices. The dire consequences I have been talking about are far less likely if people let our leaders know in advance what will and will not tolerated. Remember that the bureaucracies charged with enforcing the legislation enacted by Congress interpret that legislation largely without congressional supervision. We will not know the full impact of any health care related legislation until after the sundry bureaucracies have written the Rules of Promulgation and subsequently begin to enforce those rules.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

@joyyy, it really is ironic, isn't it? Glad to know you are enjoying the show though.

@dbcurrie, I apologize if I offended you, that was not my intent.

@hungrychristel, prior to violent video games, certain political activists and defense lawyers were blaming cartoons, like Bugs Bunny, for the violent behavior of juvenile delinquents. Before the cartoons got blamed, it was Rock and Roll music and before that it was the Jitterbug or something. When it comes to imposing government control, some will use any excuse, no matter how flimsy it may be. Both Republicans and Democrats are alike in this respect. I remember when one prominent Republican insisted that the move to put stannous flouride in our drinking water was a Communist plot. The intent was to control dental caries, but he drummed up enough fear that most water districts still do not use stannous flouride.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

Our odious political leadership thinks of us as being little more than children who can be duped, coddled, kidded and cajoled into doing anything they want us to do. The fact that they have been getting away with one scam after another for decades now suggests that they have reason to believe themselves right.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

Well, dbcurrie, there are exceptions to every rule, but anyone who does not find the baking of cookies and its aftermath a chore after the ten or twelve batches in two months is likely to be active enough to not have a problem with his or her weight.

What works for you may not work for anyone else, let alone the majority, but the government has no option but to apply a "one size fits all solution." The problem, assuming the government chooses to address it, is too big to address in any other way.

Who do you want responsible for what you do in your kitchen and when? Do you want to be responsible for that, or do you want a government agency to be responsible for it?

Serious Reads: ‘Au Revoir To All That’

Micheal Steingberger.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

@joyyy, we got a very different health education when I was going to school. We had "balanced diet" drummed into our heads until I was sick of hearing about it. We were constantly reminded of personal hygiene and had our shortcomings pointed out to us when necessary.

We also had to run four laps around the track during P.E. and then did calisthenics after that. If there was time left in P.E. after calisthenics we got to play Four Square or Dodge Ball or softball, or even rag football. What we were not allowed to do was to wander around the school yard and squabble.

Being male, I signed up for Ag, but got stuck in Home Economics owing to scheduling conflicts. In that class we got more "balanced diet" drummed into us with instruction on how to cook said diet. It turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I will admit that it is convenient, from a certain point of view, to have the government wave its guns and nudge people into line. After all the government can nudge you and you'll cough up more cash, right? They can nudge you and you will get into line for the draft. What choice will you have? I suppose if we are going to let the government nudge us over tobacco, we may as well let them nudge us away from the sugar bowl. Why not? It's all for the greater good and besides, it will be convenient.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

Again, I think health care reform is a done deal. Whether it will work out or not remains to be seen.

Did you take health classes while you were going to school? I did. I still remember most of it. Why is it that so many of us are obese? Could it be because we have given up solid food like pot roast for cheap hamburgers? Oh, and while we started eating too much convenient junk, we also gave up the outdoors for video games and the like.

I consider our political leadership to be odious. I have been watching them on C-SPan for years and can no longer regard them as anything else and I am here talking about Republicans and Democrats alike. If you do not share my opinion, fine. I have no reason to be optimistic about them, let alone reason to trust them.

There is nothing politicians love more than being in control of you. Why? Because having control over you gets them what they want. Right now, they want money. They can never get enough money and there is no reason to think that they will not go crazy on the food business in this political climate.

I think it likely that they will move to cut the cost of our shiny new health care system. They will not have any choice. Obesity is of primary concern to them because obesity leads to most of the chronic health problems they can anticipate paying for in the future. The arguments they used against tobacco will be the same exact arguments that they will use against sugar, and then fat, and then something else.

Call that pessimism if you wish, but understand that I would not have brought this up if I did not think there were grounds for concern.

NYCEater, you might eat more for a while, but it would not take long before the work cycle involved in doing all your own cooking would bring you back to rein. How many times will you bake cookies before you become tired of the chores involved? Would it not behoove the government to say, "Well, we'll let you bake your own cookies, but we are not going to allow you to buy those cheap cookies the stores are selling now. We are going to tax all the sugar and shortening sold to large companies.

There is no way to predict how the details will work out at this point in time, except to say that what you are enjoying today may not be around a few months from now.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

We all have an interest in food, this is true. I think that healthcare reform is already a done deal. We are going to get it. Whether I think it is a good thing or not is moot.

And, for what it is worth, there is already talk about increasing taxes on sugar. In other words, now that our odious political leadership has seen fit to place itself in charge of our health care system, how do you suppose they will run it? Ever hear the phrase, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? Obesity is, at the time of this writing, the latest medical bug-a-boo.

Are you willing to let the government control the size of your belly, or are you going to do it? Who is responsible for the size of your belly? You or the about-to-be-hired bureaucrats?

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

Ouch! But the spell checker did not like "knapping"!

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

@joyyy, whatever the government does on this issue, we will all be in the same boat. Right now, the precise direction the government might take is not clear. Are you going to like it if they put a 100% surcharge on sugar? Are you going to like it if they suddenly decide to ration eggs? Or will you simply be satisfied to see the fast food joints put out of business? If they do put the fast food chains out of business, do you really think that the government will stop there?

I have not made an attempt to disguise anything. Quite the opposite obtains. I am trying to make things clear.

Video: Room Covered in Melted Cheese

I don't accept this kind of stupidity as art. It is stupidity and that is all there is to it. Others are welcome to ooh and ah over it if they wish, but it will always be nothing more than stupidity in my eyes.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

There are exceptions to every rule, Amandarama. If that is how you like to eat your lobster, more power to you.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

@mollykate678, obviously, my diatribe is not aimed at you. However, our odious political leadership is latching onto this as their next Big Issue. They are going to present us with a "solution" here in the near future and I am quite certain that we will not like it. The government seldom hesitates to violate the rights of everyone in order to "look after" the few. In this case, they will be arguing that they are trying to "look after" the majority and they will be right on that point. You and I are rare birds.

@QueenAlli, but you are doing exactly what I am trying to say people should do. You are dealing with your diet in the context of your life. You are controlling what you eat and are not mindlessly buying and consuming the first thing that comes to hand or is the most convenient.

@Amandarama, Everyone has a weakness or weaknesses. That does not exempt us from the responsibility of dealing with them. Mine happens to be bread and sausage. I can easily overeat either one or both.

What I am saying is that you should take care of your own business and not leave it in the hands of others, then bitching when they do not take care of your business they way you wanted them to. Understand? You bake your own cookies if you are going to eat them because you won't eat them nearly as often. You don't blame the grocer or liquor store for your fondness for wine. You work to tame your appetite.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

So we need to focus on what we can control, right? Maybe we can't reduce the time we spend in a car or on train, but we can focus on the quality of our food, can't we? The idea I am driving at is that if you insist on better quality you eat less because the food costs more in terms of money or effort or both. If you focus on quality, you don't need to eat as much because you are buying food with more nutrient value. And, let's face it, you are supposed to be buying nutrients first, not convenience or sweetness.

When you bake your own bread, you eat less bread and that is a good thing. When you bake your own cookies, you eat fewer cookies and that is a very good thing.

When you buy cuts of meat that require more cooking time, you eat less and that is a good thing.

Here is the secret prize. When you eat less, you appreciate what you do eat better. Meals become something you can truly enjoy again and not something you gobble down while driving or standing over the sink.

Green Rice w/ Pine Nuts

If this one isn't healthy enough for you, leave out the cheese. This is a recipe I took from the lid of a box of pine nuts and tuned up.


1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Pine Nuts
2 Tbsp Garlic Minced
2 Tbsp Basil Minced
3 Tbsp Red Bell Pepper Minced
1/2 Cup Green Onion
1/2 Cup Mushrooms Diced
1/4 Cup Sherry or White Wine
1/2 Cup of Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
1/2 Cup Spinach Leaves Minced
3 Cup Cooked Long Grain Rice (Texmati)
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese.

Toast pine nuts over medium high heat.
Add onions and saute until transparent.
Add mushrooms and garlic. Saute until garlic is fragrant.
Add wine and simmer for two minutes.
Add basil, peppers, parsley and spinach. Cook until soft.
Add Rice, and stir frequently until hot (or until mixed if rice is recently cooked).
Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese. Stir until mixed.
Serve hot.

Why We are Losing the Battle of the Bulge

We do not really have to cook anymore. Because we do not have to cook what we eat, we do not have to do near as much clean up as we once did. The end result is that we eat more than we otherwise would.

Think I'm crazy? Do you have a cookie jar full of store-bought cookies? You did not have to bake those cookies, you bought them already baked at the grocery store. Now, they are not nearly as good as the cookies that you could have baked at home, but they were convenient and relatively cheap, right? If you had required yourself to bake any and all of the cookies you ate, you would eat fewer cookies, wouldn't you? Baking them is fun, but then you have to clean up the kitchen afterwards, right? This is a no pain for lots of gain situation, boys and girls.

Did you make your last hamburger or did you buy it at the nearest fast food joint? Did you peel the potatoes you fried? Chances are, you purchased your burger and fries at the local fast food joint. Am I not right? If you made your own buns and cooked your own hamburger and peeled and cut up and fried your own potatoes, how often would you have a burger with fries? Once a week? Once a month? Once a week for a month with a three month break in between?

When is the last time you bothered to make oatmeal for breakfast? How many boxes of cold cereal do you have sitting on top of your refrigerator? See what I mean?

When is the last time you made your pancakes from scratch? Chances are good that you bought a mix at the grocery store and made your pancakes with it. How often would you make pancakes if you had to make them from scratch?

What about the syrup you put on your pancakes? Chances are excellent that yo dribbled a quarter cup of faux maple syrup on them. If you restricted yourself to honey, or cane syrup, or a good jelly, I dare say that you would eat pancakes less often because those kinds of sweets do not come cheap. Faux maple syrups or even just plane corn syrups do not cost all that much do they?

Grocery Stores

Granted, the grocery outlets we have now are the tail end of a very large supply chain and are, undeniably, the product of some very ruthless economic factors, but I cannot help but believe that a better grocery outlet could be made and made profitable.

If you were going to open your own grocery store, what would you have in it?

Serious Efforts: Bacon & Raisin Muffins Rev 1

This version is just as evil as the last one, but the moisture was somewhat improved. One thing both versions have in commons is that their full flavor does not hit you until after you have swallowed a bite.

Bacon & Raisin Muffins

Dry Ingredients
76 grams Cake Flour
228 grams AP Flour
10 grams Baking Powder
5 grams Baking Soda

42 grams clarified butter
76 grams bacon drippings. (drippings from 180 grams of bacon)

Wet Ingredients
1 Whole Egg
1 Egg Yolk
106 grams of cane syrup (Steen's, Fain's or Brer Rabbit)
238 grams of buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon of Mexican vanilla

180 grams of bacon (cut up into bits & fried)
78 grams of raisins

1 twelve pocket muffin tin or 2 six pocket muffin tins.
Alton Brown's Pan Lube.

Cut the bacon up into bits about the size you use for a baked potato and fry them until they are somewhere between chewy and crunchy. Separate the bits from the fat and shake them out on a paper towel to cool and drain. Pour the fat into a convenient container for later use.

Thoroughly clarify the butter and strain it into the bacon drippings.

Mix all of the wet ingredients into one bowl.

Put all the dry ingredients, AP first, cake second, leavenings last into the bowl of your stand mixer. I have found that the paddle attachment does a better job of mixing the dry ingredients than does the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer on low and let it mix the dry ingredients for two or three minutes.

Apply a thin coat of AB's pan lube to the pockets of the muffin tin(s).

Double check that you have everything lined up and fire up the oven. Let it come up to 375F or 190C.

This time I mixed the fats with the dry ingredients first and then added the wet ingredients. This resulted in more lumping than I liked. There were some pockets of dry flour in the final product.

Continued in the next post

"French" or Cultured Butter

I am about to try making some of this on my own here in the next week or so. I may have had it when I was a kid but cannot now recall what it tasted like. I do know that the grocers charge a large premium for it.

Anyone here ever use it?

Serious Efforts: Bacon & Raisin Muffins

This is a trial formula that I am not quite satisfied with, largely because the crumb does not quite have the texture I wanted. Try it out and let me know what you think if you're interested.

Bacon & Raisin Muffin

Dry Ingredients
200 grams cake flour
104 grams AP flour
10 grams Baking Powder
5 grams Baking Soda
one or two grams of kosher salt

bacon drippings (from 180 grams of bacon)
42 grams unsalted butter (clarified)

Other Liquids
238 grams buttermilk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
108 grams cane syrup (Steen's, Fain's, or Brer Rabbit)

180 grams of bacon
78 grams of raisins

1 twelve pocket muffin tin or 2 six pocket muffin tins
Alton Brown's Pan Lube.

Cut up the raw bacon into small pieces, about the size you use on a baked potato, and fry them until they are just past the chewy stage, but not quite crunchy. Drain off the rendered fat into a convenient container and allow it to cool. Spread the bacon bits out on a pad of paper towels and let them sit for fifteen minutes or so.

Fully clarify the butter, strain it into the bacon drippings.

Thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer using the whisk attachment. Note that it helps to put the flour in first and the smaller quantities of dry ingredients on top of the flour.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and cane syrup. Mix the fats in after they cool.

Rub a thin coat of AB's pan lube into each cup of the muffin tin(s). Mind you, this coat needs to be thin.

Fire up the oven and preheat it to 375F or 190C.

Install the paddle attachment on the mixer. Pour the mixed liquids into the flour mixture with the machine set on low speed. Beat the batter at medium speed until it starts to look satiny. This will happen quickly. Do not over beat!

Continued in the Next Post...

[Serious Efforts guidelines »]

Weekly Bread

I've been looking for a relatively painless bread recipe and I think I finally found one that I like.

Grumpy's Weekly Bread
(Modified version of the formula for Jeffrey Hamelman's "Pullman Bread"


AP Flour: 777 grams
Sugar: 20 grams
Salt: 15 grams (less if you can stand it)
Powdered Milk: 41 grams (Sanalac or Bob's Red Mill work real well)
Butter: 41 grams (optional, but it slows staleness)
Yeast: 7 grams (I have found Bob's Red Mill to be the best I have ever used, with Red Star coming in a very distant second).
Water: 467 grams.


Place all of the dry ingredients, flour first, in the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach whisk and whisk at low speed for two or three minutes. Once the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed, attached the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the water into the bowl. Trust me, this really will work. Run on low speed until all the flour becomes a ball wrapped around the hook. This will take something around a minute.

[Continued in the next post]

Yeast used to make me grumpy!

I've tried every brand of yeast sold at the local grocers. None of them work worth a tinker's dam. Having despaired of finding living yeast, that is to say yeast that you'd want to fool with, anywhere within a hundred miles of my tumbledown homestead, I resorted to ordering yeast from Bob's Red Mill. While I was at it, I ordered powdered milk from Bob's Red Mill.

A baker should not hafta resort to mail order to acquire living yeast, but circumstances finally forced my hand. I'm wishing I had done it sooner. Note to all you big grocers, you suck. The suppliers you buy yeast from suck slimy green rocks. You are ripping us all off and I am sick of it. Oh, and the bread you guys sell isn't worthy of the name bread. Ain't gonna buy that from you no more, either.

If you're like me, you dreaded the attempt make a bread that needed to rise three times before the heat was applied. I undertook such projects knowing full well that I would be lucky to get two rises out of my dough. Not any more. I had to buy way more yeast than I like to have on hand, but the yeast from Bob's Red Mill turned the trick.

Questions on LIterature

Does anyone subscribe to Cook's? What do you think of it? Also, I am reading Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman. So far it looks to be a highly informative book on making bread that dispenses with the usual mysticism surrounding this subject. Oh, okay, I think it really is insane to put ice in your oven, but other than that I have learned a lot from this book so far.

Organic Foods.

I find that many foods grown using organic methods taste better, especially vegetables and eggs. Having done more than a little thinking on the subject, I think I have figured out why, but I want to hear what Serious Eaters think of the taste of the so-called "organic" foods.

Stuff I found here, but gave an evil twist.

It all started with this, the article on strawberry shortcake.. The mention of shortcake made me think of shortbread, which made me think of Lorna Doones, one of my favorite snacks. Then, low and behold, I ran across this article on rosewater in sabayon

I didn't have any rosewater and the roses I have growing around here are pretty, but have next to no scent. I had to adapt and overcome. Recipe in the next post.

Yep!,/b> You should tie me up and hang me. Or alternatively, you could join my evil league and help perfect this madness.

Don't read this. I am an evil old man..

I fell in love with Lorna Doones when I was about three, I think. Now-a-days you can hardly ever find them in the stores in my area, so I went looking for a recipe. I should be shot for what I am about to reveal in this post.

Scottish Shortbread
stolen from


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (I prefer Borden's)
3/4 cup sugar
7 1/2 oz of AP Flour (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup of corn starch
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla (I like Mexican Vanilla)


One 9" pie plate or cake pan


1) Cream butter the butter and sugar.

The key to creaming, is to beat the mixture until it starts to turn pale. The idea is to not only thoroughly mix the butter and sugar, but to aerate the mix.

In another mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Modern flours do not really need sifting, but you do need the dry ingredients thoroughly mixed together.

The cornstarch will make the all purpose flour behave like cake or pastry flour during mixing AND baking. Note that you cannot get away with this trick for every pastry calling for cake or pastry flour.

Once the butter and sugar are creamed and the dry ingredients mixed, stir in the the dry mixture into the creamed butter and sugar. DO NOT OVER BLEND.

Flour your hands and pat the dough into the cake or pie tin until flat and even. Remember to dock the dough. That bears repeating. REMEMBER TO DOCK THE DOUGH.

Bake in a 325F oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is a very light, yellowish brown. Allow this to cool IN THE PAN for 20 minutes. Turn out onto a rack to let it finish cooling.

You will want to eat too much of this and it is too easy to make. I should be shot for telling you about it. Proceed with caution and moderation.

Relative Value of Appliances

I would rather have one of these, than I had one of these.

I hate washing dishes, don't get me wrong, but I can wash dishes by hand. What I cannot do is make ice by hand.

The dish washing I can manage by doing a reasonable amount of clean up while cooking and by never allowing dirty dishes to accumulate. I need fairly large quantities of ice every time I make stock or want to brine something. In fact, a want for ice is most often the one thing that makes me think twice about making stock.

Video: Wilkins Coffee Commercials Featuring Muppets (1950s)

"You know, people who don't drink Wilkins Coffee just blow up sometimes!" How do you grab people's attention with only ten seconds to advertise your product? Puppets and violence! Muppet Wiki has the story behind these commercials made by Jim Henson from 1957 to 1961 featuring two puppets named Wilkins and Wontkins. Wilkins (who kind of resembles a proto-version of Kermit the Frog) pushes the importance of drinking Wilkins Coffee by inflicting various kinds of physical pain— shooting, clubbing, near-beheading, etc.—on the anti-Wilkins Coffee Wontkins. Considering how quickly these commercials fly by, they're strangely dark and funny at the same time. Hopefully they wont result in nightmares of being attacked by Muppets. Watch the video after the jump.... More

In Videos: How to Make Small Batch Strawberry Jam

Take advantage of strawberry season by stocking up on homemade strawberry jam! Marge Braker of food preservation education program Preserved teaches you how to make small batch strawberry jam in this video (with accompanying recipe) from Cooking Up a Story. She demonstrates the process from dumping the strawberries into a pan to sterilizing the jars in boiling water. Watch the video after the jump.... More