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Archive for the ‘Death by Fork’ Category

Fast Food, Transformed

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Let Ronald do the Work

I have decided there is such a thing as food being too good. You don’t actually need to levitate every time you have dinner. Food that’s too good will tempt you constantly. It will be hard to leave alone. You’ll eat more than you should.

That being said, I have a great tip for people who love McDonald’s breakfast food.

I saved some gravy from Thanksgiving. Today before I made my weekly trip to Mickey D’s, I heated the gravy up. When I came home, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I dipped Mickey D’s biscuits in gravy while I ate.

This is probably the worst thing you can eat, short of pure nuclear waste. But it was phenomenal. I give credit where credit is due; Mickey D’s makes excellent biscuits. Add gravy, and you have something truly wonderful.

I don’t plan to do this again, because it’s way fattening, but it was a great experience.

If you don’t know how to make gravy, I can help you out.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp. grease
1 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. sage
dash of dry white wine
salt to taste

You will want a couple of tablespoons of grease from a Thanksgiving turkey or breakfast sausage or bacon. Something like that. If you use sausage, forget the sage. The white wine is optional.

Get your grease hot (about 4 out of 10 on a digital stove). Fry one level tablespoon of flour in it. You don’t need to burn it. Just get the raw taste out of it. Stir it and smoosh it with a spatula while you fry it.

Add the milk and seasonings. Keep stirring until the gravy bubbles. It will thicken. Add a small amount of wine and cook the gravy until the consistency looks good. Remove it from the pan immediately.

That’s all you need to know. If you like it thinner, use less flour.

This should be more than enough gravy for two people who aren’t trying to kill themselves.

Enjoy.

Awesome Sauce

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Bring Your Cranberries to Life With Two Simple Additions

I want to wish everyone who still reads this blog a happy Thanksgiving. We have more to be thankful for than we understand.

I’ve been working on dinner for myself and my dad. A friend might show up if his family lets him down, but no one else has signed on. I had the impression someone else might show up, but I won’t know until tomorrow. I’ll put it this way: nothing has been confirmed. No, it’s not a relative.

I made cranberry sauce tonight, because it’s one of those things you can make the day before. I thought I should share what I did, because the result was so good it disturbed me. I can’t figure out why I have a crazy amount of talent for doing something I have no desire to do, but as long as it holds out, I may as well help other people to benefit from it. I no longer have any interest in cooking, but I still have moments of incomprehensible success.

Cranberries are sour, but they’re also bitter. The sourness is good, but the bitterness is a flaw. I don’t understand how things can be bitter and sweet at the same time. Seems like that means you have an acid and a base in the same material, and from my two semesters of very basic chemistry, I would expect acids and bases to react. Maybe someone who took organic chemistry can tell me what’s going on. Maybe bases aren’t the only bitter chemicals.

I was making the sauce tonight, and I realized I had nearly emptied a jar of pretty decent strawberry preserves earlier, while making a PBJ. I was trying to think of a way to round out the cranberry flavor. I decided to dump about a tablespoon of the preserves into the sauce. As I often do, I also added a shot of Grand Marnier and half a teaspoon of salt.

Let me digress. Be smarter than I am. Follow the cooling directions on the Ocean Spray bag. I finally tried it tonight. In the past, I’ve always been too lazy. Put the cooked sauce in a bowl, cover it, and let it cool all the way down to room temperature. Then stir it a little. This will prevent you from getting congealed bubbles in the chilled sauce.

Back to the ingredients. I omitted a shot of water from the recipe so the Grand Marnier wouldn’t loosen things up too much. When the sauce was at room temperature, I stirred the Grand Marnier in and put the bowl in the fridge to chill. Before it went in, I tried a small amount.

This stuff is incredible. The strawberry preserves kill the bitterness completely. They make cranberries taste more like berries and less like ornamental plants people might eat by mistake or out of desperation while trapped in a bog. I couldn’t believe how good it was. And I don’t really care for cranberry sauce that much.

I actually felt a little frustrated when I realized how good the sauce was, because I don’t care about cranberry sauce. It would be great to have a major talent for the piano or electronic design, but here I am making what may be the world’s best cranberry sauce, almost unintentionally and with no idea what I’m doing.

I guess you take the hand you’re dealt.

Anyway, I know you will like it, so if you haven’t made sauce yet, and you are about as much of a cranberry sauce fan as I am, give it a shot. For God’s sake, do not eat the canned stuff. I think it’s polyurethane.

I much prefer cranberry relish, but it’s a lot of work, and I’m only doing the minimum. I boned a turkey today and brined it, and I feel like that was mighty obliging of me, so I am not swinging for the bleachers on every dish.

I know the meal will be wondrous. The worst items will be very good, and the best will be fantastic. I feel like an Orthodox Jew who has a talent for hog-calling.

I will never be a professional chef. I will never open a restaurant. I don’t plan to go back to cooking complicated things for myself or anyone else. It’s bizarre that I continue to cook this well on those occasions when serious cooking can’t be avoided.

Bowling. Wouldn’t that be a great thing to excel at? It’s not a real sport, so you don’t have to be in shape or sweat in the sun, and you can do it well when you’re 70. You’re not like an actual athlete who might have a ten-year career before giving out. If you’re among the best, you can make very good money while eating pizza and drinking beer. It would be cool to have a rare talent for bowling. Even golf wouldn’t be too bad, although I hate being out in the sun, and I think spending time playing golf is more or less equivalent to writing God a note saying, “I have no appreciation for the gift of life.”

I hope you try the sauce. Remember, it’s the plain old recipe on the bag; 1 cup water (less one shot), one cup sugar, one bag berries. Then you add half a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of the best strawberry (could be raspberry) preserves you have, and a shot of Grand Marnier. Do not add the liquor until the sauce is cool. You want to taste a little alcohol.

Enjoy, and try not to founder.

Lard and Hot Steel

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Take That However You Want

I finished Ovid yesterday. The last thing I read was the letter from…now I’ve forgotten…Medea to Jason. No, it was Sappho to Phaon, whoever that is. I had to check. You can see how much it impacted me.

It’s essentially a remake of the other letters, which are remakes of each other. Sappho said a couple of things that were relatively clever, but they weren’t clever enough to raise her above the level of the other jilted stalkers.

My main reaction to finishing Ovid: relief. Of course. Now I get to read Augustine. I don’t like calling him “St. Augustine” because he’s not a saint. By that I mean he’s not better than other human beings. He’s not someone people should pray to. Great guy, maybe. Not a saint. The saints were created to replace the Greek pantheon. God had nothing to do with it.

If you had told me a year ago that I was going to have to read Augustine, I would have looked for a way out of it, as I did, successfully, back at Columbia University. After my ordeal with the Greeks and Romans, Augustine sounds like a trip to Disney World. Bring him on. I can’t wait.

The Sappho letter lends credence to the idea that Sappho was a truck-driving, Anne Murray-listening, overall-wearing ladies’ lady. She complains that Mr. Phaon has ruined her for women. After her Phaon fornication binge, women just don’t do it for her. Does this mean she was really a lesbian? I don’t think so. Ovid lived a long time after Sappho, so he probably didn’t know much more about her than we do. Once you get a reputation, justified or not, it tends to stick. Maybe Sappho had already been lumped in with the field hockey players and non-shavers of legs before he was born.

Maybe there is a document out there which proves Sappho liked women. I will never know, because I am done with the classics. I wouldn’t read another classic author even if his book was a collection of winning lottery numbers in Roman numeral form. But the document must not exist, because people who actually like the classics do not agree on her orientation.

I don’t know why I’m discussing this. Maybe it’s because it’s the only thing about Sappho that is even remotely interesting.

It’s hard to think of anything exciting enough to follow up speculation about whether Sappho was a flannel-wearer, but I will try: today my belt grinder is going to arrive. If Fedex gets it right. I ordered it a week ago, and the shipper decided to fix it so it required a signature, so I’m stuck at home.

I think I made a good buy. I’m spending maybe $200 more than the cost of building my own grinder, but I will save a pile of work and time, and it looks like the grinder I chose–the Oregon Blade Maker–is a tremendous deal and a good product.

I say that before trying it.

If Sappho were alive, I bet she’d have a belt grinder.

Is it okay to make jokes like that? I don’t actually care, but I guess these days it’s likely to bring out the pierced and tattooed villagers with thrift store torches and Ikea pitchforks.

The coming increase in the persecution of Christians is a frequent topic here, but there are some aspects I haven’t thought about yet. Here’s one that just occurred to me: we will probably be beaten and imprisoned by hipsters. That’s terrible. It’s embarrassing. I’m not sticking up for the Nazis, of course, but I feel like it’s less of a blow to your self-respect when the man who shoots you in the head is wearing a smart military uniform with shiny death’s head pins. We’re going to be murdered by “men” who look like Snuggles the Fabric Softener Bear with glasses. It will be like getting punched out by Truman Capote.

Suddenly the Romans don’t look too bad. Having your brains clubbed out by a 6’8″ barbarian centurion…that’s a man’s death. Centurions didn’t have to say, “Hold my latte,” before they killed people. We’re going to be slaughtered by the snowflake patrol.

I never thought musing about persecution would look like this. You have to wonder what people will make of it when I’m gone.

I would not be the first Christian to have a sense of humor about it. They say that when Lawrence was roasted on a grill (by the church), he looked up and said, “I’m well done. Turn me over!”

If I have to take sides, I think I’ll side with John, not Lawrence. Lawrence was grilled, and grilling is about health, not flavor. John was deep-fried. It didn’t take, but it was certainly a superior method of preparation. Now that we know KFC’s secret recipe, I can request to be breaded.

I look forward to trying the grinder, but it won’t solve my scale problem. I will still have to find a way to clean mill scale off of steel, without ruining the shape of the metal. A surface grinder would be great to have. Another possibility: buy steel a little oversize and put screw holes at the ends. Screw it to a big piece of metal, put the metal in the mill vise, and mill the scale off. The large piece of metal and the screws would hold it flat, better than a vise could.

While I wait for the grinder, I’m working on my next food project. I keep making large batches of food so I can reheat during the week instead of cooking from scratch over and over. Yesterday I gave up and bought collards, hocks, neck bones, corn meal, tomatoes, and Vidalias. I’m going to make collard greens and hoe cakes. I just hope I don’t overeat. This food will be off-the-charts good.

I look forward to making the hoe cakes, because I have a Griswold griddle I’ve never used. I Ebayed it and used electrolysis to get the crud off. It looked brand new when I was done. Then I seasoned it with bacon fat. It should be wonderful to use. A griddle is great for things like pancakes and crepes, because it provides easy access for a spatula.

I don’t think I’d want to be griddled. I keep hoping I’ll be hit by a meteor. I can’t come up with anything that beats that plan. Makes a mess, but that’s not my problem.

Maybe I’ll post a photo if I get the grinder running. Or maybe I’ll just lie on my back eating hoe cakes.

The Electric Meatloaf Acid Test

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Food Fit for a Merry Prankster

Last night I finished off the meatloaf and potatoes au gratin I made last week. I still can’t get over the experience.

When you think of great food, meatloaf does not come to mind immediately. When I was a kid, meatloaf was something I ate because it kept me alive. It was okay, but no sane person begged his mother to make it. That has been the way I’ve seen meatloaf all my life. Cheap, easy to make, and good enough to eat without struggling. It’s probably the most pedestrian food on earth that doesn’t come out of a can with an easy-open top.

The meatloaf I made last week, combined with the potatoes, made an astonishing meal. On top of that, it got better while it sat in the fridge. The seasonings mingled. The pepper in the potatoes worked its way through the potato…meat. By the time I finished it off, it had reached a sensual crescendo.

I could not stop eating this stuff. There are some things I just can’t have in the house, and this combination appears to be one of them. I can’t have fun size Snickers bars or miniature Reese’s cups around. I can’t have Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches around. Now I have to add meatloaf and potatoes to the list.

I ate the last of it, and then for at least two hours, I found myself reliving it and exclaiming aloud that it was fantastic.

Yes. I had meatloaf flashbacks. I have PMSD: Post-Meatloaf Stress Disorder.

I felt like I had ingested drugs. I was borderline euphoric. From food.

There is no restaurant on earth that does that for me, but it happens with my own food all the time. I can’t understand it. Last night I sat on the couch, marveling at the strange gift God had given me.

I would be completely happy being an okay cook. I have no family to feed. Even though I make good food, I’m not that picky about what I eat. As far as I can tell, I don’t really need to be able to produce exceptional food. But it happens time and again.

I made meatloaf and potatoes so well, I can’t make it any more. If I make it again, I’ll eat 5,000 calories a day until it’s gone. I don’t have a church to cook for any more. I quit cooking for my friends because I have no wife to help me shop, cook, or clean up. What am I supposed to do with the recipe?

Even worse, I know I can make it a lot better. I’m going to resist trying.

By the way, one of the keys to making the meatloaf work is baking it at 400 for at least half an hour at the end. This creates a thin black crust around it, on the sides and bottom. The flavor this crust provides puts the icing on the cake, so to speak.

It’s too bad I can’t come here and say, “Wow, God made me an incredible composer/musician/singer/mathematical genius/inventor/whatever.” There are things I wish I could do extremely well, and cooking is not one of them. Mozart got perfect pitch, flawless timing, endless musical creativity, and peerless dexterity. I got potatoes au gratin and strawberry cheesecake.

Which I don’t have the metabolism to tolerate.

There must be a reason for it. It’s not so I can open a restaurant. Forget that. I watch restaurant shows all the time, and I am now sure I would rather be struck by lightning every day than supervise the kind of people who cook on lines and wait tables. It’s not so I can sell things I cook. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting for people to sue me because they pretended to choke on things I made. I definitely don’t want to run a commercial kitchen where the government will force me to sit through seminars about my legal obligation to encourage my gay employees to get “married.”

I feel like one of the lame superheroes. You know. Like Storm, the X-Woman. Her big gift: making it rain on bad guys. Whoopee. Impressive. “Oooh, I’m scared. Whatever you do, don’t jack up the humidity and make my hair frizz.”

The superhero who makes great cheesecake and ribs will never save the world or get the girl. You can bank on that. He’ll be back at Justice League headquarters, hosing out filthy smokers and inhaling unhealthy quantities of hickory smoke. “Wonder Woman and I are flying back to her island on her invisible jet for a three-week honeymoon with no cell phones. Can you fix us some to-go plates before we abandon you to clean up the kitchen alone?”

You can always pick Food Boy out in group photos, because he wears his cape in the front.

It’s a nice gift to have, but if you know why I received it, you are way ahead of me.

Speaking of food, I guess everyone knows the KFC recipe is now public domain. Colonel Sanders has a nephew, and the nephew found the recipe, written in the Colonel’s handwriting. KFC swears it’s a fake, but sadly for them, people who try it say it’s the real thing. The only missing item is Accent, i.e. monosodium glutamate.

I’m happy about the news, because KFC quit making the real thing a long time ago. They used to fry chicken in beef fat, but the joy-killers got to them and made them switch to something inferior. Probably canola oil, which is like sunflower seed oil that has had a small fish fried in it. Beef fat is loaded with cow flavor, and it’s satisfying. Now that we have the recipe, we can make real KFC at home, with proper fat.

Some people are saying the leaked recipe has too much paprika in it. Paprika is pretty mild. You can probably vary the amount a great deal without hurting anything. If the real KFC recipe has less paprika than the leaked one, it may simply mean that KFC decided to save money by cutting down on a low-impact ingredient.

Here is the recipe:

KFC CHICKEN INGREDIENTS

2/3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. basil
1/3 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. mustard
4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ginger
3 tsp. white pepper
2 cups flour
MSG
BEEF FAT!!!!

I haven’t tried it. I don’t fry chicken all that well, and I’ve been busy with other stuff. If you try it, I hope you’ll report back. They say you have to fry right at 350 degrees, and you should be aware that KFC uses pressure fryers, so you probably won’t want to go all-out and use the same type of equipment. I can’t figure pressure fryers out anyway. How do you know the chicken is done if you can’t see it?

If I made that stuff, I think I’d replace some of the paprika with chipotle powder. Maybe I’d have to cut back on the white pepper, though.

I don’t feel bad about passing the recipe around, because it was never patented to begin with. It’s a trade secret, not the subject of a patent. Infringing a patent is a statutory tort and a crummy thing to do. Using a trade secret you received legally is fair play!

Now that I think about it, the KFC spice profile would be great on fish. You could use it in a fish and chips recipe. That would rock.

I made pot roast today. First time ever. It’s merely very good, so I think I’m safe.

I’m going to go have some now. If I start to freak, talk me down.

More

Predictably, the pot roast was really good. It would go great with hoe cakes or cornbread.

Might as well post the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

3 lb. chuck roast
3 large (large) red potatoes
2 large yellow onions
1 pound grape tomatoes
1 packet beef flavor onion soup mix
1 lb. carrots (peeled baby carrots are fine)
10 oz. Carlo Rossi Paisano or similar red wine
1 qt. water
olive oil
salt
pepper
1 teaspoon starch

Salt and pepper the meat. Use lots of salt. Fry it in a little oil to brown the outsides. You may have to use high heat with a piece of meat this big.

Pour the wine into a big casserole dish or something similar; it will have to hold the meat and all the vegetables. Add the starch and a teaspoon of salt to the wine. Make sure the starch is stirred in. Put the meat in the wine and sprinkle the soup mix on it.

You could probably double the starch and get a better result than I did.

Bake the meat at 300 degrees for three hours. Slice the onions. Cut the potatoes in big chunks. Add the vegetables to the meat along with the water. Salt the vegetables heavily and then season them with pepper. Cover and bake for another 90 minutes.

You may want to turn the broiler on at the end, uncover the food, and brown it on top.

Check the sauce to make sure it has enough salt in it. If not, add salt and swirl it around to dissolve it. Test again and get it right.

You might want to use 1 1/2 packets of soup mix. It’s very good with one packet, but it might be nice to make it more intense.

Also a possibility: 1 bay leaf in the sauce.

Meet…Loaf

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

It is my Defeated Foe

I think I really have meatloaf under control, so I’ll share the recipe.

I made a strange choice. I added seafood stock to the meat. I figured it would have more flavor than beef broth, and I was right, but if it sounds weird, try chicken stock. Whatever you do, don’t add beef stock. You already have beef flavor.

This is for a big loaf intended to help me avoid cooking all week. You should probably halve it.

INGREDIENTS

3 lbs. hamburger or ground chuck
1 lb. pork
2 eggs
12 ounces seafoof stock or chicken broth
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup Heinz 57
1-2 tbsp. Worcestershire
3 tbsp. melted butter (seriously)
1 large onion, diced, fried in 3 tbsp. butter until the chunks start to clear
1 packet onion soup mix, beef flavor

Mix it up and form it into a loaf. I am not totally clear on the best cooking method. so I formed the loaf on a sheet of nonstick foil on a cutting board and then slid it onto a broiler pan. The slits in the pan let the excess grease escape.

Bake at 350 until the internal temperature breaks 120. Smear the top of the loaf with a mixture of 3 parts ketchup and 1 part Heinz 57. Bake until the temperature breaks 150. Let the loaf sit for a few minutes. Slice and serve.

It’s really good. It’s fairly light, and it’s not dry at all.

I made a vat of potatoes au gratin as well, and they were wonderful. Perhaps too good for my health.

I guess I can give you that recipe. I accidentally failed to peel one potato, and it didn’t hurt anything, so I may skip peeling in the future.

INGREDIENTS

4 baking potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 1/4″ slices
1 lb. shredded sharp cheddar
1 package bleu cheese, about 6 ounces (my guess)
1 wedge Parmesan cheese, whatever the normal grocery size is
6 cups half and half or 4 cups milk and 2 cups cream
6 tbsp. flour
5 tsp. pepper
1.5 tbsp. salt
8 tbsp. butter
6 egg yolks
1 medium onion, diced

Let’s see if I remember this.

Beat the egg yolks into the milk or cream or whatever with a mixer. You want them completely blended in so they don’t act weird when they’re heated.

Fry the flour in the butter for a few minutes. Don’t burn it. Pour the egg/milk mixture in and stir it while heating, to make a roux. Throw the salt, pepper, and cheese in. Stir to get it all blended.

Fry the onion in 2 tbsp. of butter until it starts to clear.

Mix everything but the potatoes up and let it simmer.

In a huge dish (gallon or more), arrange about half of the potato slices in a layer. Dump half of the sauce on them. Add the other half of the potatoes and the rest of the sauce.

Bake at 350 for 90 minutes. Remove the lid, remove excess grease if needed, and bake without lid at 400 degrees for 20 more minutes.

Toss 1 cup panko bread crumbs with 2 tbsp. butter, plus salt and pepper. Cover the top of the potatoes with this and bake for 10 more minutes. If you want, mix cheese into the crumbs. The crumb layer will help soak up grease that floats on top of the dish.

This was excellent, and the little semi-burned bits of the dish add lots of flavor.

Blades of Glory

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

No Turkey is Safe

I feel like I may have finally found my niche in the metalworking world. Today I roughed out my first knife, and it was easy.

Here’s a photo.

08 18 16 birds beak knife roughed in 440C

If you’re wondering why anyone would want a knife that looks like that, I can explain. I like to bone turkeys before roasting them. It makes a world of difference. After you’ve eaten boneless turkey, you won’t want a regular turkey. It’s totally inferior. This knife is designed to bone poultry.

I ordinarily use a birds beak paring knife to bone birds. I bought two pricey Japanese jobs, and all they did was contribute to my belief that Japanese knives are not very useful. I bought two $5 Forschners with plastic handles. They worked very well. But they’re flimsy.

I also have a specially designed harumigatodokutaka, or something that sounds like that. It’s a Japanese knife created for boning poultry. It’s worthless. I can’t understand how anyone manages to bone a bird with one without going to the hospital.

This thing is 1/8″ 440C steel, which is, truthfully, a little thicker than I need it to be. I wanted something sturdy, because when you bone a turkey, you need to get between the bones and pry. It will have the short blade and hook shape of a birds beak knife, and it will be strong enough to survive a stubborn turkey.

It looks grey because it has scale on it. When you heat steel, it oxidizes. Black iron oxide forms on the outside. When the metal cools, the oxide sticks, and it’s called scale. It’s harder than steel. You have to get rid of it (at least on the exposed areas of the knife) as part of the knife-making process.

I removed a lot of the scale using a sanding drum on the drill press. I also tried a 12″ diamond stone. I don’t know what the answer is yet. I think most knife makers just scrub the crud off on a 2×72 belt grinder, but I do not have one of those, and I’m worried that if I used one on future knives, I’ll screw up the dimensions of the knives by taking off metal.

Making this knife was very easy. No challenge at all.

I drew a design, and then I photocopied it. I put the copy on the metal bar I was using for stock. I glued it with 3M Super 77. I put the steel in my bench vise and used an angle grinder and cutting disk to start roughing it. The metal got very hot, so I was concerned I might harden it by accident.

Then I fired up my souped-up 1×42 belt grinder with a 60-grit belt (too fine for the job). It worked very well, considering the inadequacy of the grit, but it was pretty slow, and the belt is about 50% dead already.

I put the steel on the mill and tried milling off the waste, but the steel got hot again, and I had visions of myself trying to machine hardened 440C, so I quit.

I decided to put a grinding wheel on the grinder and try that. Everything fell into place. It removed metal much faster than the belt grinder, it didn’t get the metal too hot, and it was easy to control.

After that I kept moving around among the angle grinder, the belt grinder, the drill press and sanding drum, and my 25,000-RPM Themac dental lathe. I guess I put in an hour and a half.

The finished knife is a little different from the drawing. I made changes on the fly. But it’s beautiful. You can’t see the edges in the photo, but they’re finished like a factory knife’s edges. It’s really something.

Tomorrow I have to clean off the scale, hollow the blade out, put the beginnings of an edge on it, drill for screws, put two 416 stainless bolsters on it (which I will have to fabricate) and attach and shape a micarta handle. Then I have to disassemble it and send the steel to a company that will heat treat it for me.

Then it comes back, and I have to clean it up and put it together. After that, I sharpen it. I’ll have a cool poulty knife that ought to kick the crap out of anything you can buy anywhere.

Micarta is plastic with fabric imbedded in it. It makes good handles, and I am hoping it will be dishwasher-safe. If it weren’t for my desire to use the dishwasher, I would have bought a natural handle material that looks better.

Yes, I will be putting a handmade knife in the dishwasher. Deal with it.

If I had known knifemaking was this easy, I would have started 30 years ago. If I had had a big belt grinder, this would have taken half an hour. If I had had a big belt grinder with a few special attachments, it would have taken 15 minutes. You could make three decent knives a day if you had the right tools.

I suppose it’s even faster than that if you’re using steel thinner than the 1/8″ stuff I used. If I made a chef knife, I’d want something like 3/32″.

A 440C cleaver! That’s what I need!

Forget store bought kitchen knives. They’re almost always deficient in some way or other. Well, maybe that’s not true. I like my cheap Forschner and Mundial chef knives. But other than that, it seems like every knife is a compromise. Not any more!

When I get this thing mocked up, I’ll post a photo. When I get it treated, I may actually have to buy a turkey.

Like a Bat Out of the Oven

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

I Would do Anything for Food, But I Won’t do That

I made my first meatloaf the other day, and I felt so bad about the results, I just made another one. I feel that I can now declare victory.

The first loaf was pretty close to the “prizewinning” Quaker Oats recipe, which is basically hamburger, oatmeal, salt, pepper, eggs, and onions. The “sauce” was ketchup doctored very heavily with brown sugar, Worcestershire, and vinegar.

I figured, “Hey, it won a prize.” But I didn’t think about two facts: the loaf contained a lot of oatmeal, and the company that awarded the prize sells…oatmeal.

It was dry, as if there were something in it that absorbed water…gosh, if only I could figure out what that was.

I got some new info in my comments, and I tried again.

This time, I decided to add onion soup mix, which is one of the most incredible cooking ingredients there is. Usually I’m against prefab seasoning, but this stuff works. I also used around 25% pork, and I replaced half of the oatmeal with panko bread crumbs. I doubled the eggs, and I added plain old water, because I knew the oats would dry the meat. I mixed ketchup and Heinz 57 into the loaf. Finally, I did something really bad. I added half a stick of butter and mixed it in.

Butter makes everything better. Everything.

I got some of the ideas from the Lipton soup box, which had recipes on it. I also jacked up the salt and pepper, and I added fresh garlic.

I baked the loaf at 350 until it hit 160 on the inside, and then I smeared some ketchup and 57 on the outside and let it bake on.

It’s really good. It’s juicy; fat pooled on top of it as it baked. I had to drain a lot of it. The seasonings are just right.

It’s hard to know what to do with a meatloaf, because they’re full of fat. If you cook it in a deep pan or dish, the fat will surely rise up and cover it. I decided to bake it on a broiling pan, with a sheet of foil under the meat. The fat was able to run off that way, and the sheet kept it from sticking to the pan. When it was done, I let it cool for an hour or so and slid it off the foil into a Corningware dish.

I was not happy with the mashed potatoes I made last week, either. I had never made bad mashed potatoes before. I figured the potatoes my local store was selling were too dry and mealy. This time I fixed it by replacing one of the russets with a big red potato. They’re starchier. And I really socked the butter to it. Very nice.

Now I should have meat and potatoes for the next five or six days, and I’ll also supply my dad with it, so he doesn’t eat junk. Not too much junk, anyway. Okay, not JUST junk. There is a limit to what I can do.

The pork firmed the loaf up and added a lot of flavor. That was a good move. I kept the oats in because I need to get rid of the giant can I bought, and because it has fiber.

I try not to hit the carbs too hard, but if you cut back too much, it can make your brain fog up, so the potatoes were necessary. To me, carbs are like insulin. You don’t consume huge unlimited amounts of them; you just have a dose when you need it to make you feel better.

I’m not a huge meatloaf fan, but I like cooking a big meat dish once a week to help me avoid cooking for several days, and meatloaf will fit right into the plan. I think it has lots of potential for improvement. It’s probably possible to make a meatloaf that’s truly outstanding, if you think about it and work on it. I don’t know if I want to do that. I want it to be good enough to eat, but not good enough to tempt me.

I can picture a really excellent version with brown gravy, perfect for serving like a hot roast beef sandwich. No. No. I will be strong.

Thanks for the helpful comments.

I Don’t Accept Cookies

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Buckets of Pure Cocaine Would be Safer

The weight-maintenance-cookie plan was a disaster of Hindenburgian completeness. I have firmly concluded that it is not possible to adjust my calorie intake using cookies made from my own recipe.

I was doing just fine using Oreos. I ate three or four a day, just to take the edge off and restore my mental functions. I figured there was no reason better cookies wouldn’t do the same thing, cheaper and more enjoyably.

The batch of cookies I made from scratch is completely gone. It vanished in two days. I could not stay away from them. They taunted me They jeered at me. And now they are no more.

Lesson learned. Night before last I picked up a new bag of Oreos, and yesterday I put them to use. I went through a grand total of three. Oreos just don’t have the temptation punch my own cookies have.

The oatmeal cookies I made were stupendous, but now I can’t have them. One more recipe I can’t use. Dang it.

I wonder if I could come up with a recipe for mediocre cookies. Probably not. It seems like anything that comes out of a home oven beats anything that comes from a plastic bag.

Oreos have gone nuts. Things got weird thirty or forty years ago when they came out with “Double Stuf” Oreos. Someone at Nabisco realized fat people were only buying the cookies for the filling. Now they have “Mega Stuf.” Next they’ll have “Pure Stuf” or “Gallon Can o’ Stuf.”

They have birthday-cake-flavored Oreos now. Wonder what that’s like. Do they come pre-sprayed with spit, to simulate the blowing out of candles?

American consumers are not hard to please. The buying habits of chubby ladies prove this.

When I was a kid, Nestle started selling raw cookie dough so incredibly lazy people could use it to make cookies. At some point we all accepted reality: fat girls were buying it to eat out of the tube. Now you can buy ice cream and protein bars made to taste like raw cookie dough.

Prefab cookie dough is very popular, but the thing is, it’s not good. I don’t know what Nestle puts in their dough to serve as shortening, but I’m confident it’s not butter. The dough tastes sort of like toothpaste with sugar in it. People love it anyway.

My cookie experience shows how things really are: the supermarket junk we think is good is actually pretty lame. We like it because we’re lazy. The British have a saying: “Hunger is the best sauce.” I would say laziness is second best. When you get off your rear end and make real cookies, or even cookie dough, you understand the depth of the compromises you’ve made in the past.

God has given me more strength to turn food down, but there are some things I still have to stay away from. I can’t keep bags of fun size Snickers in the freezer. I can’t keep miniature Reese’s cups on the coffee table. And I can’t keep homemade cookies anywhere near me.

I feel like he’s helping me get off caffeine again. A long time ago he showed me that caffeine destroys peace. I quit drinking it. But when I had to take over my dad’s business affairs, I jumped off the wagon. The boredom of using Quickbooks and straightening up chaotic files was more than my mortal frame could stand. Now things are more orderly, and I have to give up the crutch. I do not want to spend the rest of my life feeling peppy and cheerful until noon and then crabby and crotchety for the rest of the day. I don’t want to have to take Benadryl to get to sleep.

God changes peoples habits, and it seems like he really hits hard in the beverage department. You find yourself cutting way back on alcohol. Sugary sodas turn into occasional treats. Fruit juices are just sugary soda without the gas, so they’re not the answer. That leaves coffee and tea, right? Wrong. Caffeine.

Today I’m going to get a bag of decaffeinated coffee beans. I can’t drink room temperature bottled water at breakfast every day. I am not ready for that.

I’m still fooling with the CNC mini-lathe. I got it to function with Mach3, the most popular home CNC machine-running program. I haven’t been able to get it to work with KMotionCNC, the nerdier, learning-curve-heavy free program that came with my controller board.

I think the people who made the board don’t care about lathes. They’re not going to come out and say that, but it seems to be true. Their program comes with a little viewing window that shows you an animated movie of your cutting tool at work. It’s set up perfectly for a big milling machine, but if you try to scale it for a lathe, it looks ridiculous. The software doesn’t give you a way to fix that.

The documentation that came with the boards says you need to know the computer language C in order to really understand what the software does. For that reason, I looked around for C courses yesterday. I tried Udemy and Edx. I wasn’t too impressed. C is an old language, and if I understand things correctly, it has morphed into newer languages like C++ and C# (C sharp). The online course offerings for plain old C aren’t that great. I decided to settle for a Youtube course.

The instructor said I had to get a compiler called Dev-C++, which is free. Right away I had problems. He uses version 4-something in the videos, and the current version is 5-something. It looks and works a little differently. So far I’ve been able to figure it out.

A compiler is a program that takes the code you write and turns it into program files. For example, you might write 30 lines of C or Pascal or whatever code, describing a program that lets you enter two numbers and then adds them and prints the result. You feed this into the compiler, and an “exe” file comes out the other end. When you want to experience the thrill of adding two integers, you double-click on “add.exe” or whatever you named it, and the program appears in a little DOS window (assuming it runs in DOS).

The first (only) language I learned was Pascal. I had to learn it in college. I used a compiler made by Borland. It was called Turbo Pascal. Dev-C++ is surely capable of much bigger things than Turbo Pascal, but to the user it looks pretty similar.

I learned a few things that were almost, but not quite, interesting. For example, the nerd term “ported” is a corruption that comes from “portable.” When you move a program from one OS to another, it’s portable, so you are–nails on a blackboard sound–“porting.” I can’t actually remember the other things, so I guess they truly were not interesting.

Here is how much interest I have in programming: zero, or even a large negative number. But if it will help me not have to go to surly, condescending nerds for help with technical stuff, I am all for it.

I’m still trying to figure out what kind of screws I need to make the lathe work well. At first I thought any ball screw would work. Then I found out some ball screws are very crude, so buying such a screw would fail to help or even make things worse. Then I found out there are levels of accuracy, designated “C” this or that, and I learned that most affordable screws were C7, which didn’t seem good enough.

After that, I read that the rigidity of the machine and the skill of the user make more difference than the quality of the screws. Is this true? I don’t know. The truth is a jittery target that skitters away every time I try to draw a bead on it.

A guy who supposedly knows a whole lot claims a plain old Acme screw will do fantastic work if you set it up right, and he says rigidity is more important than worrying about the number that comes after “C.” So maybe I need to buy a C7 screw in a big diameter; 3/4″ or better. I can do that for around a hundred bucks, if I go Taiwanese.

I’ve wondered why Acme screws were not considered useful. If I machine manually, I can get accuracy within a thousandth of an inch, relying on Acme screws and hand dials. Somehow that is not possible with a machine tool. You would think the computer would get better accuracy out of a screw than I can, but it looks like it doesn’t.

The topic is insanely complicated. Good screws aren’t the end of the discussion. For really accurate machining, some people use “screw mapping.” As I understand it, this means examining the screw with precision instruments and recording all its imperfections, so the computer will know to apply the correct compensation at every point on the screw.

Obviously, I am not going to do that. If I can get parts to measure within 0.002″ of spec, I will be the happiest man on earth. I’m not making crucial parts that prevent hydrogen bombs from going off. I don’t have to have perfection.

Now that the machine functions, I have to figure out how to design parts. I have a workable CAD program. I have to decide how to turn the CAD files into Gcode Mach3 can digest. I’m using Fusion360, from Autodesk, for CAD. It’s free. Not sure if it goes past CAD. I should design a part and see where I have to go with it.

Some day when I have room, I’ll get a mill. It will be a real CNC mill. I won’t spend my life on Ebay looking for bearings and screws. I’ll just place an order and wait for the machine. That will be nice. It doesn’t have to be big. Just sort of mid-sized, and it has to be something I can operate without pulling my hair out.

The CNC lathe will be very useful, but if you want CNC, what you really want is a mill. In fact, if you want to machine, period, you want a mill. I do not understand people who claim lathes are better. Most of the time, when you need a part, it will be something a mill can make easily, yet which a lathe can only make with weird, denial-reinforcing attachments.

If you want to make pens all day, sure, get a lathe. You’ll wish you had a mill, though.

Whatever you do with CNC, buy lots of plastic. You do NOT want to practice on metal parts. You will crash, and the crashes will damage your machine and cutting tools. Plastic will give, and it will provide a nice buffer between your mistakes and your checking account. Also, remember you can run programs in an animation window with the motors turned off. If the program looks funny in the animation, you do not want to run it with the motors on.

You can practice with wood instead of plastic, but it makes a mess.

Is this information useful to you? My hopes are not high, but I don’t care, because writing it was a very effective means of procrastination. I got what I wanted.

Dangerous Cookies

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

I Hear Them Giggling at Me

I have a sad setback to report. My weight-maintenance cookies are not working out.

I had found that keeping Oreos on hand was helpful for weight control, because I could grab one or two whenever I felt like my blood sugar was getting low, and it made it easy to avoid eating bigger things. It also saved me the time and expense of running to the drugstore for a Snickers bar. It saved me the time it would have taken to fix another meal.

I decided I should make my own cookies, since they’re better and cheaper than Oreos.

I made a batch using my oatmeal raisin recipe. I usually use golden raisins, but my local store has apparently stopped stocking them, so I used the dark kind.

When the cookies came out of the oven, I ate a few, and, as I should have predicted, they were so good, it was hard to stop. I ate too much.

Later in the day, I grabbed one after it had cooled off. I learned something really surprising: dark raisins don’t taste that great when they’re hot, but they make for a fantastic cookie at room temperature. This goes against everything I know about cookies. Generally, the hotter they are, the better they taste.

I was actually disturbed by how good the cookie tasted. I can’t remember ever eating a cookie that good. And I don’t even like oatmeal cookies that much. Chocolate chip is my favorite.

The conclusion is obvious: I have to go back to Oreos. My cookies are just too good to stay away from.

It sounds crazy, but I do not understand why I get such good results in the kitchen. I am my own favorite cook; no one else comes close. I cook stuff, I try it, and I make groaning noises and have to lean on the counter to keep from falling.

I don’t have any interest in this gift. I don’t use it. I cook very ordinary food, I almost never make anything special, and I quit cooking for friends (much to their chagrin). These days I only cook a couple of times a week. I make a big pot of soup and a meat dish, and I eat it all week long. As far as I know, my pizza and cheesecake are the best in the universe, and I haven’t made either one in maybe a year. My steaks are out of this world, but when rib roast prices took a huge dip recently, I didn’t bother aging roasts and cutting them into steaks. I did buy some steaks, but I didn’t knock myself out aging them and cooking them properly.

I’ve told God that if he wants to take this gift away and help me do well at something else, I would be fine with it.

One nice thing about not cooking for friends is that it helps you find out why people associate with you. If you stop feeding them and they stick around, you know they’re not just there for free food. If you’re lonely, buy a pickup truck and learn to cook. You’ll never be alone again. Just make sure you keep the food flowing and you never refuse to help someone move.

Another thing I don’t understand: I don’t make everything well. I have never made chicken wings I would serve to a guest. I finally gave up trying to improve, and I settled for wings that were just okay. It’s like some recipes just come to me, and other dishes are hopeless causes.

What am I supposed to do with this cookie recipe? Nothing, I guess. I’d like to keep using it, because Oreos are expensive and mediocre, but I don’t know if I can handle this level of temptation.

I guess I’ll find out, because I still have a lot of cookies left.

By the way, someone asked for the recipe in a comment, and I posted it. I have some corrections. Use dark raisins, and use at least a cup, not half a cup. And don’t eat the cookies until they cool down. You might want to double the salt.

This week’s huge meat dish is meatloaf. I had never made it before. I found the “Award-Winning Quaker Oats Recipe” at Epicurious, and I tried it. Maybe I did something wrong, but it’s not very good. The “sauce” is ketchup with a ton of brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar in it. The loaf is dry, even though I used cheap, juicy hamburger. It needs more salt, too. Like everything.

I know I can improve it. I could add beef broth to the oats before mixing them in. I could mix onion soup mix into the meat instead of using minced onions. I could fix that strange sauce. I could add pork.

Mmm. Pork.

I could be really bad and mix butter into the meat. That would be sick.

I thought I could trust Epicurious, but I was wrong. I shouldn’t be surprised. The recipe got a top rating, but most people can’t tell good food from dog chow.

I still have like three pounds of that meatloaf left. Hope I make a good dent in it today.

Wasting Time

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Mine and Yours

I have something to do in 45 minutes, so I can’t really sit down and dig into my new responsibilities. So here I am.

I have been reading Thucydides. I thought I was going to start sooner, but I looked at the Columbia University Lit. Hum. syllabus and discovered I was supposed to read Euripides (The Bacchae) first.

I think I should have taken the midterm last week. I would have been ready for it, which is more than I can say about my last time through this stuff.

I don’t believe in stealing copyrighted stuff, so I always look for cheap paper copies of whatever I read, even if I read it first on Scrib’d or whatever. I read The Odyssey on Scrib’d, and I also ordered a real copy. It’s still in the plastic.

I ordered a copy of Euripides V from Amazon, and then I read an earlier version at the Open Library, which is a site that “lends” ebooks. It has some connection to the Internet Archive, but the Archive has its own borrowing site. You figure it out. I am too lazy to look. I have accounts at both sites. I hope they’re taking care of authors’ rights, but anyway, I do use them. I took a look at a couple of drink recipes from Trader Vic’s without buying paper copies of the book. I hope that’s morally acceptable.

“Bacchae” rhymes with “wacky,” and maybe that’s fitting. It means “bacchants.” “Bacchant” (also “bacchante”) is pronounced “buh-Can’t.” It means a lady who worships Bacchus, the Bieber-like Greek God of drunkenness and–I don’t know–being effeminate maybe.

Here is the idea. Bacchus comes down to–wow, I’ve forgotten already–is it Thebes? Yes. The Thebes in Greece. He claims he’s Zeus’s son. His family says he’s a random illegitimate sissy. His cousin, Pentheus, is given the throne of Thebes, and Bacchus is rejected, although he does go on to a successful run, playing millionaire Thurston Howell on Sixties TV.

People who worship Bacchus go crazy. They get really drunk and run around the woods, dancing and fornicating. Women are the main participants, and during their craziness, they provide sex for any man who asks. This is not considered sleazy or sinful; it’s considered pious. Go figure.

It’s a remarkable thing to read, because it’s like a perverse reflection of being led by the Holy Spirit.

When you’re led by the Holy Spirit, you’re out of sync with the rest of the world. Like the bacchants, you seem irrational to other people, but you’re under the influence of a spirit who knows what he’s doing. You will do things that seem ill-advised from people who don’t hear from him.

The bacchants were also out of step with other people. Unlike Spirit-led Christians, they lost their free will and good sense. They did strange things. The mother of Pentheus got together with a group of bacchants and tore him to pieces, removing his head and so on. She didn’t know he was her son. She wanted to find Pentheus and tell him how she had helped kill the unbeliever.

Bacchus was the son of the highest Greek God, by a mortal woman. Jesus was the son of the real high God, by a mortal woman. Bacchus was rejected. Jesus was rejected. Bacchus sent a spirit to control people who followed him, and they did strange things. Jesus sent a spirit to help people rise above Satan and the world, and under that spirit’s influence, we do things other people don’t understand.

Bacchus gave humanity wine, and the Greeks thought that was a great gift, because it got people drunk. Jesus gave people his blood, which was represented by wine. When the Holy Spirit fell on the Apostles, people thought they were drunk.

I have to wonder how much of this is coincidence. In the time of Euripides, Satan didn’t know about the crucifixion or the baptism with the Holy Spirit, but it seems like evil spirits pick up on things from time to time, getting little incomplete glimpses of the things God is up to.

Thucydides is interesting. His book is about the Peloponnesian Wars. The Peloponnese is the lower part of Greece, where Sparta is located. It’s actually a peninsula. Athens is on the mainland. The mainier mainland. Athens and Spart went at it, with other Greek city-states joining the fray.

The Athenians were led by a remarkable man named Pericles. He reminds me of Winston Churchill and George W. Bush. He was a solid wartime leader whose people turned on him once the consequences of their decision to follow him into battle became clear. People always want the omelette, and then they want the eggs back.

Pericles was a speaker, and he made some famous speeches before the Athenians. In the first, he urged them to go to war. He said something you would expect to come out of the mouth of an American Founding Father: “Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”

Well, I got called away before the 45 minutes were up. But I’m back now. I’m making diet cookies.

To get back to Pericles, he showed me something interesting about Sparta: the Spartans were crazy to put their kids through 18 years or whatever of cruel boot camp.

If you’ve seen 300, you know that the Spartans sent their male children off to suffer miserably until they were old enough to join the army. This was after killing off all the ones that looked imperfect; the Spartans were extremely pro-choice. They left weak-looking babies to die in the wilderness.

In the movie, the Spartans are incredibly macho and tough. They’re like the SAS of Greeks. No one can fight as well as they can. Three hundred of them hold the huge Persian army off for days.

In real life, the flabby, hard-drinking Athenian queens kicked the snot out of them. They defeated the Spartans, proving you don’t really need to throw your life away to be an effective soldier.

American conservatives got really sweaty and pumped after 300 came out. We put “Molon labe” all over our blogs (even though King Leonidas of Sparta didn’t say that in the movie). Maybe we should have been excited about the wedding planners, figure skaters, and airline stewards of Athens.

Want to hear something interesting about Pericles? He had the Athenians hide behind a wall during the war. He also wanted to fix it so you had to have two Athenian parents in order to be a citizen of Athens. Do you realize what this means? He wasn’t the Greek George Bush. He was the Greek Donald Trump.

Pericles, it seems, was brilliant, even though his plans didn’t always work. Thucydides was no moron, either. He understood how smart Pericles was, and he paid him this compliment: he said he led the people instead of being led by them. That’s true wisdom. Most of our politicans are followers, not leaders. Obama is the biggest sheep in the universe. Somehow a man who lived 2500 years ago knew how important it was for a leader to lead, and we don’t know it now. How can that be? How can you not know something you knew in 475 B.C.?

Leadership is a huge part of Christianity. You’re supposed to be the head, not the tail. The head doesn’t follow the tail. When your buddies are getting tattoos, using drugs, and doing yoga, you shouldn’t go along just so they’ll love you. You should set an example and do what’s right.

You’re wondering what diet cookies are.

In 2009, after a fast, I suddenly found that God had given me control over what I ate. I didn’t feel compelled to stuff myself. I lost weight. That blessing didn’t go away, but I damaged it. One night I decided to order all-you-can-eat ribs with a friend of mine, and since then, things haven’t been quite as good as they were in 2009. I guess I followed instead of leading.

Recently, God brought the self-control back. That’s great, but it comes with little challenges. One is that I tend to eat too little at breakfast. I can tell when I need more food, because I start to feel crabby, and I don’t concentrate well. Like Betty White in the Snickers commercial.

I bought a bag of Oreos the other day, and I found them very useful. When I needed food, I grabbed a couple of Oreos, and they fixed the problem. Without small, handy, calorie-filled items around, I would be likely to eat something that’s too big.

I ran out of Oreos, and I was going to get more, but then I remembered my own cookies. I make fantastic oatmeal raisin cookies. It’s not a big brag. All homemade cookies are phenomenal compared to bag cookies, as long as you don’t use vegetable oil or shortening.

Today I made a pile of oatmeal cookies, and I’ll keep them around so I don’t keel over at 3 p.m. every day. The big problem is that they may be too good. If they’re too good, it will be very hard to control my consumption, even with the help I have.

They really are good. I know they’re good, because I love them, and ordinarily I don’t like oatmeal cookies.

I guess I’m going to have to get back to work on accounting. Either that, or I’ll have no choice but to get into the differences between rolled and ground ball screws.

Logorrhea

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

I Wish I had a Deformed Cat

Yesterday I got curious and looked around the web to see how hard writing is for other people. When I worked for my law school paper, I saw people lock up when they were asked to write a couple of hundred words, and when I was blogging and dealing with bloggers who wanted to write books, I knew people who couldn’t get more than a few pages done. Clearly, my situation is not like that.

On the web I saw people talking about the goal of writing a few hundred or a thousand words per day. It was like they were talking about learning to run ten miles per day; they seemed to consider it difficult enough to make achieving the goal unlikely.

This Saturday, I cranked out something like 3000 words just to relax. If I had to write 4000 per day as a 40-hour job, I would think nothing of it. I once wrote a 48-page legal brief in a day. I believe it was 48. Anyway, it was over 40. It made the judge mad. It was too long.

I wonder what the purpose of this facility is. The fact that you have an ability doesn’t mean you know what to do with it.

Whenever I’m with my dad, and we hear Rush Limbaugh on the radio, my dad says the same thing: he can’t believe a person can talk for three hours a day without running dry. Someone who used to have a radio show once complained to me about this. Apparently, this person dreaded having to come up with material.

It wouldn’t be a problem for me. There is always something to say or write. Life is a constant flow of experiences, insights, and ideas. You can’t say you lack stimulation.

You can’t choose your talents. If I had been given a choice, I would have held onto writing, but I would have traded cooking for something else. I have really enjoyed cooking extraordinary food, but it’s not an important gift. It’s trivial. And you can’t use it all the time. I get up every day and eat the same boring stuff: homemade vegetable soup. I almost never cook anything good for lunch. I grab a protein bar or a sandwich. If I really cooked, I would weigh 400 pounds, and it would slice two hours out of every day.

I am fairly good at a number of things, but the older I get, the more it looks like writing and cooking are the only areas where I really shine. It’s like being good at theoretical physics and tiddly winks. One gift that can have an impact on the world, and another which is more or less a novelty.

I envy people who have gifts that guarantee them a livelihood. Songwriters, in particular. If you write one hit song, you can retire. Even if you go into a coma right after you publish it, the money will continue coming in, and your heirs will also be able to benefit from the copyright.

Doctors are also fortunate. Their incomes may wax and wane, but no one will ever tell a doctor his job has been rendered obsolete. And doctors are welcome everywhere. Back when Haiti was in an uproar over the earthquake, people I knew were going there as volunteers, but I stayed here. I figured the Haitians could do anything I could do, just as well, except for practicing law. What was I supposed to do over there with my legal skills? Sue people? If I had been a doctor, I would have flown over and made myself useful. There would have been a purpose in it.

I can write, but cashing in on it is not that easy. I got some silly books published, but they did not make me rich. I have worked as a copywriter, but that kind of work comes and goes. I used to write for a newspaper magazine, but even if I had done that full-time, I would have pocketed a maximum of $800 a month.

To sell books, you have to write books people want. There has to be a waiting market. That’s not hard if you write novels; people will always want something to kill time on airplanes. But other types of books are harder to sell. And of course, editors are buried in complete garbage. People who absolutely cannot write refuse to stop sending their horrible manuscripts, so it’s hard to rise above the noise.

It’s not easy to cash in on cooking, either. Restaurants are a nightmare to run. There is a ton of regulation. There are piles of paperwork. You have to deal with cooks and waiters, who are right up there with musicians when it comes to honesty and responsibility. You have to deal with things that are totally unrelated to good cooking. Then when you get the business running, you gross $3 million per year and take home $30,000, working 15-hour days, six days a week. And even if your food is great, the public may simply get tired of it.

Lots of people get rich in the restaurant business, but you have to be a fool to risk your capital on it. Even with hard work and talent, it’s a lottery ticket.

I always hope God will arrange it so I will never have to practice law again. The responsibility is just too much, unless you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care. If I represent you one time, I am responsible to you for the rest of my life. And I can be sued for malpractice, at 90, for something I did when I was 40. The statute of limitations is short, but there are ways around it. In continuing legal education, I was taught that you should pay for malpractice insurance for as long as you live! How would you like to do that? You could easily pay out a third of what you earned in your career. Or you can trust your former clients to be nice to you. Yeah. That’s a sure thing.

The other day a friend asked me for legal advice, and I told him what I tell everyone: no way. I don’t care if they get mad. I’m not going to put myself in a position where I have to look over my shoulder for the next thirty years. Friends don’t sue friends, but then friends don’t stay friends, either. Former friends sue lawyers for malpractice every day.

Seriously, I think there is nothing like royalty income. You don’t have to manage property and be abused by tenants. You don’t have to buy and sell securities, risking a beating every time you trade. You don’t have to go to work. You can’t get fired. And copyright royalties are the best, because they never expire. Among copyright royalties, songwriting royalties are probably the best, because you don’t have to perform or promote, once a song gets noticed. You sit back and take money from other people. They do the performing. Their promoters do the promoting. You sit around at home, eating Cheetos.

Oh, well. I can write and I can cook. That’s how it is.

I could go ahead and write a book every three months and see what happens, but there’s a problem. I’m a Christian. You can’t just spew words out for money when God isn’t behind it. You have to wait for him. On top of that, what if I wrote a popular Christian book? Could I take money for that? If God gives you something for nothing, should you charge for it, especially when it’s possible to put it on the Internet and give it to billions of people free of charge?

You can say the laborer is worthy of his hire, but is that really apt, when you have almost no expenses? If you have to give up your job in order to serve God, you should be paid, but what if you don’t?

I think about that when I read Christian books. The writers have a conflict of interest: God versus Mammon.

Some books cost a lot of money to write, but most don’t. If I wrote a Christian book, it would cost me nothing, except for ISP fees. I wouldn’t have to travel or take photographs or pay for a cover design. Even before the Internet age, Paul wrote books, and all he did was dictate while someone scribbled. Worked out pretty well.

I should teach Marv to do something entertaining. Have you seen Grumpy Cat? I saw a news story that says he pulls in $50 million per year for his owners. God help those people if a dog gets him. I would keep him in a safe.

I won’t complain about what God gave me. It’s nice to be able to write, even if I have no idea what the value of it is. The cooking, I’ve pretty much given up on, but I will always want to communicate. And it’s going great guns. Like 50 people read this blog now.

I guess I’ve written enough; I’m procrastinating because I don’t want to study accounting. I better get in on it.

I’ll be back. You can count on that.

I’ll Have the Sparkling Water

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

Rum Wears Out its Welcome

I had a lot of fun fooling around with tiki drinks this week, but I think I’m done for a while. I’m starting to think there is something poisonous in rum.

When I was in college, I thought drunkenness was a good thing, and I worked at it. It was very unusual for me to get sick, but I managed it a few times. I also got sick once after I graduated from law school. The two worst hangovers I ever had were from dark rum. It won’t just make you sick the day you drink it; it will make you sick for half of the following day.

I had some Jamaican friends when I was in law school, and one of them told me they don’t drink dark rum. She said it was for the tourists. I guess the Jamaicans know something.

Anyway, I had maybe four rum drinks this week, which is not exactly binge drinking, and today I feel sort of off. I really think there is something in that stuff, apart from alcohol, which the body does not like.

I didn’t use dark rum; I used Flor de Cana golden rum, which is about the color of brandy.

Interesting.

I had a few days of nostalgia, and I really enjoyed cooling off after working on plumbing and so on, but I would not want to drink this stuff every week.

A lot of Christians are very worked up about alcohol. I don’t worry about it. Every once in a while, I have a drink. On rare occasions, I have two. I think I’ll be okay. I would not encourage anyone else to drink, if it’s a problem.

Some people rewrite history. They claim Jesus was a teetotaler who drank fresh grape juice and called it wine. Yeah, okay. And for five bucks I’ll sell you a keychain made from a fragment of the cross.

I used to brew my own beer, and it was wonderful, but I don’t do it any more. When you barely drink, what do you do with five-gallon kegs of beer? They sit and go to waste. The extra fridge takes up space.

The down side of giving up brewing is that it’s nearly impossible for me to get a really good beer. There are a few beers that are good; I like Flying Dog Snake Dog ale and Dogfish 60 Minute IPA. But it’s nothing like having four or five utterly magnificent beers on tap.

It’s not a big sacrifice. I don’t care much about it.

I did a lot more work on the house yesterday. I removed a lot of useless PVC from the pool pump, and I replumbed it. I broke down and bought a reciprocating saw, like a Sawzall. I got a DeWalt. They get good reviews. It did a wonderful job of hacking pipes out so they could be thrown on the trash heap.

I’m still bummed out that I can’t find anyone competent to take my money. I would be satisfied with work that is merely good. It doesn’t have to be fantastic. Good is too much to ask in Miami. Everything is done to the Latin American standard, which is very low. There is a reason why BMWs are made in Germany instead of Honduras.

Call me a racist if you want. Cultural differences are not imaginary. Defending your stupid culture is a sure path to loserhood. Admitting its faults is the beginning of improvement. If you want to hear some heavy criticism, ask me about the backward, defeat-oriented culture I came from.

Yesterday one of my Cuban friends used vile language in a text message to tell me how much he hates Miami. He has plans for bookshelves, and he can’t find anyone who can build them. Ridiculous.

I’m trying to figure out what to do about the pumphouse’s electrical ground. There is a bar hammered into the ground outside the pumphouse, and there’s a big wire next to it. It’s not connected. Is that because some idiot knocked the clamp off, or is it because it’s bad for the pumphouse to have its own ground? I’m trying to find out. I’m tempted to call an electrician, but then I think about all the potentially deadly electrician errors I’ve found and fixed.

As far as I know, there are only two wires connecting the house and the pumphouse, and neither is a ground.

I am Googling around, and it looks like the ground rod should be connected. I think I’ll hook it up and see if anything explodes. I would rather have grounding than no grounding, even if it causes some comparatively minor issue with the electrical service. When I say “comparatively minor,” I am using “instant death on the pumphouse floor” as a reference.

The plumbing is not right. The pipes are generally on the floor or close to it, inviting breakage. People step on things. Also, the pipes are not supported. I looked it up, and PVC at 100 degrees has to be supported every five feet. I’m going to figure out how to do that. Whatever I do may not be the recommended method, but it will work, and it will be better than nothing.

Things keep going well in my prayer life and personal development. God keeps moving me to higher levels.

I’ve started to get a better feel for the degree of brainwashing mankind has experienced. We feel self-conscious about God. Why is that? Why don’t we think God is cool? He creates galaxies. He confers invulnerability and power. He is in charge, and if you’re aligned with him, you’re in charge, too. Why do we think that’s something to be ashamed of?

Being right is cool. Being powerful is cool. Not wasting your life is cool.

Our perceptions are completely warped. But with time, prayer, and submission, it changes.

The longer I live, the more I realize the people around me are idiots. I suppose that doesn’t sound Christlike. Look at this place, though. We run around in circles, doing things that don’t matter. We devote our lives to things God is eventually going to burn. We love man’s temporary, cobbled-together solutions to problems. We hate God’s solutions, which are perfect and come without regret. This place is horrible. It’s like Sodom. We can’t do anything right. We hate the very notion of doing things right.

I can’t respect humanity. It’s too much to ask. I was a mistake to try. It was a rabbit trail. People have a lot of knowledge, and you shouldn’t ignore all of it, but it’s stupid to put human beings on pedestals. As far as we know, Buddha is in hell. Alexander the Great is in hell. Albert Einstein. Aristotle. All sorts of human beings we think of as superhuman. You can push respect way too far.

We ruin everything down here. The worst part about it is that we destroy human beings.

I thought about that this morning while I was watching a show about technology. They were talking about a special ship that upends itself and turns into a research platform. It reminded me of an experience I had when I was a kid. Don’t ask me why.

My dad represented the Alcoa aluminum company. They had a special aluminum ship which was built for research. It was docked in the Bahamas or somewhere–I forget–and they invited my dad to bring me to see it. They took us on board and gave us a tour.

Today I thought about how little I got out of that experience, which should have been very rich.

When I was a kid, I was afraid of everyone. I had no self-confidence. I could not talk to people. I had been raised in a house of abuse, and my response was to wilt and hide.

Some kids are not like that. They choose to be as aggressive as their abusers. I believe Freud called this “aggressor identification.” You could also call it a generational curse or a cycle of abuse. Kids decide it’s better to be the abuser than the abused, so that’s the path they take. My sister went that way.

I couldn’t cope with life. Mainly, I wanted to be left alone. I was so used to losing, I was highly motivated to avoid trying. A lot of my encounters with my dad consisted of him verbally abusing me until I gave up and left him alone, which was what he wanted, so you can imagine how I felt about approaching people. He actively, deliberately worked to make me back down, feel bad about myself, and leave in fear.

I think this is why I love tools so much. Tools represent power and success. They counter feelings of being unable to cope.

Parents are supposed to prevent kids from growing up to be as I was. When a kid falters, his parents are supposed to notice it and take him aside and teach him how to stand up and respond to life’s challenges. I was afraid of my dad, and my mother was not much better off than I was, so I just sat back and decayed. When I was in my twenties, I started trying to compensate, but change was extremely gradual. The chains we put inside ourselves are heavy, and it takes a lot of time to cut them and push them out.

My dad didn’t seem to realize he was supposed to do anything to help me or my sister in life. As long as food was on the table, he felt like his job was done and that everyone should be grateful and obedient. It’s strange, because his own father was not like that.

I wonder if the men on the ship noticed the destruction in me. I notice it when I meet kids who can’t engage. I wonder if they tried to interest me in the ship and the research and then pulled back, realizing I had been ruined.

I don’t think shyness is normal. I think it’s a flag that exposes abuse. No matter how much you pretend in public, if your kids are shy, there has to be a reason, and you’re probably it.

You can have sympathy for other people’s kids, but usually, your ability to help them is limited. If you want to help, you have to look for opportunities to do or say something effective. Vigilance is important.

We ruin our children. We don’t submit to God. We put our flesh in charge. Our flesh puts Satan in charge. The result is that we become poisonous to people we are supposed to help.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot today. I can’t undo my childhood. I have been able to help a few younger people, though. Maybe that’s an acceptable exchange. Satan screwed up my youth, so I am being used to screw up his plans and help several other people. His evil is being multiplied back to him.

Interesting stuff.

I should have done better, but here I am, as I am, so I work with what I have.

Today I plan to make some adjustments to the pool pipes and put a clamp out the pumphouse ground. After that, I think I’ll relax and knock off some more of The Odyssey.

I have to say, I’m disgusted with mythology and the characters of Greek literature. People like Odysseus and Achilles were the scum of the earth. They were pirates, and “pirate” is not a flattering term. They were murderers, rapists, thieves, and slave masters. They were sadistic. They were greedy. They thought nothing of pitching babies off of city walls. It’s strange that we see them in a positive light. If there is a significant difference between these characters and the drug gangs in Mexico, I am hard-pressed to see it. The more I read, the more I root for them to lose.

I hope you’re enjoying your Saturday. Go easy on demon rum.

There is no Accounting for my Taste

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Some Concepts are too Small for the Brain to Cope With

I have been studying accounting today, and here is my conclusion: if you have a choice between poverty and studying accounting, choose poverty.

It is astounding to me that anyone can stand this stuff for more than half an hour. They say dentists and lawyers have the highest suicide rates. How can that be, when there are accountants? Maybe accountants drop dead spontaneously from boredom, before the urge to commit suicide can come to fruition.

As readers who are up to date know, I had to take over my dad’s bookkeeping, and that means using Quickbooks. You can’t use Quickbooks if you have no idea what the little words in the windows mean. You have to know something about accounting.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I found a guy who runs a website that helps rental property owners use Quickbooks, but his PDF that “explains” accounting is pretty horrid. I had to find something super basic, so I went to Udemy.com and signed up for a free course. I found a nice old guy who explains accounting by drawing bad cartoons on a whiteboard. This is more my speed.

I’ve probably sat through twenty minutes of the course, and to my credit, I haven’t put a firearm in my mouth even once.

I have a B.S. in physics, plus some graduate school. That means I had no problem with advanced math. Unfortunately, accounting is all addition and subtraction, and it uses filthy ARABIC NUMBERS, not clean little variables. I hate addition and subtraction. They are the toilet-scrubbing of math. Keeping track of endless pluses and minuses drives me nuts. So tedious. It’s like digging your way out of the Chateau d’If with a teaspoon.

There isn’t one single interesting concept in this mess. It’s all first-grade math, combined with the hassle of keeping signs straight. If you have any kind of a brain at all, accounting is paralyzing. If the Nazis had captured Oppenheimer and Einstein, they could have used accounting to torture them into revealing nuclear secrets.

It reminds me of a story my dad told me. He was in the army, and he and some other men were sitting around. A sergeant showed up and asked if any of them were college graduates; he said they had a special task for educated people. My dad raised his hand, expecting to get a cushy job. He and the other graduates were led away and forced to unload a huge truck full of typewriters.

Love that blue collar humor.

All that being said, this will be a good experience for me (when it’s over), because everyone should understand basic accounting. It would have been nice if I had realized the importance of accounting when I was in college. I could have made my dad foot the bill for a couple of leisurely courses. Sadly, I didn’t realize it until I was older, and when I did, I learned as little about it as possible. Now I have about a week in which to catch up.

How do people stand it? It must be a mental illness, like the one that makes some men want to be wrestling coaches. “Now, Tommy, put your fingers under my butt cheek and pull forcefully.”

Over the last few days, I have experienced a sudden need for big fruity alcoholic drinks. That his how badly accounting has damaged my brain. While I’m studying this horrible stuff, I have to have a big fruity drink at the end of the day to unwind. It’s either that or go to a doc-in-the-box and get a prescription for Xanax.

I might as well post the recipe for the drink I invented yesterday. I am not recommending drunkenness to anyone, but one nice cocktail probably won’t kill you.

I started with my friend’s creation, the chupacabra. That’s Mountain Dew and light rum, with a lime slice. It’s much better than it sounds. I like it a lot, but I felt like it needed the tiki treatment, so I went to work. I still don’t have a name for the drink I came up with, but you won’t believe how good it is. You have to like girly drinks in order to enjoy it. If all you drink is straight bourbon mixed with kerosene and your own chest hairs, it won’t do a thing for you. If you aren’t ashamed to be seen holding a pina colada (while caught in the rain), you’ll like this drink.

Ingredients

1/2 shot pineapple juice
1/2 shot lime juice
1 shot (maybe a little more) Flor de Cana rum
2 teaspoons Coco Lopez
2 teaspoons grenadine
Ginger ale (Seagram’s, which has less sugar than most)

You start by dumping the Coco Lopez into a tall glass. Then add ice. Then mix the lime juice, pineapple juice, and rum and pour them in. Then add ginger ale to fill it up. Put the grenadine on top. I added four raspberries and a lime slice, too. Pineapple chunks would work.

This thing will blow your mind. It’s like chewing a whole roll of tropical fruit Lifesavers. When you’re done drinking it, you can scoop the bits of congealed Coco Lopez off the bottom and eat them along with the fruit.

I had two whole drinks yesterday. For me, that’s practically a binge. That’s how much I hate accounting.

It looks like I have a gift for inventing mixed drinks. I don’t plan to pursue it, but it definitely made this week less painful for me.

In two weeks, I will be either an accomplished accountant or a hopeless alcoholic. One way or the other, this ordeal will be over.

Sling is Slung, da Grass is Riz

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

I Wonder Where the Crab Rangoon iz

I guess I’m going to have a Singapore Sling every day until I decide I’ve gotten it right.

Today I made some progress, so I will pass the information along.

This drink is shaken, but because it contains soda, you can’t add the soda until after you shake it. That means that once you’ve shaken all the red ingredients and the gin, you have to strain it into a glass with ice in it, and then you have to get the soda in there. If you add too much ice or too much soda, you have problems. And it’s important to make sure the red stuff and the soda are mixed up a little, unless you like soda on top of a layer of cough syrup.

I took a pint glass and put around 4 ounces of ice in the bottom. Maybe 5. Then I added a mandatory skewer loaded with fresh fruit. Then I shook the red stuff and poured it and the soda into the glass simultaneously. That way, the ingredients mixed, and I was able to meter everything so I didn’t end up with too much soda or leftover red stuff.

Yesterday I said the red ingredients tasted a lot alike. Today I did a little research, and it looks like I was not imagining it. The stuff we call grenadine is supposed to be pomegranate syrup, but it’s really cherry syrup. Look it up. You can get the real thing at a Middle Eastern grocery, but since bar owners are cheap, it probably won’t be what they use, and it won’t have the taste you know and love.

Bartenders have a longstanding practice of using the juice from cherry jars in recipes calling for grenadine.

Cheap creme de cassis tastes a whole lot like cherries, too, and so does cheap sloe gin. It’s probably the same basic batch of chemicals and natural flavors.

Real sloe gin and creme de cassis exist, but you will have to look for them, and again, they may taste nothing like what you expect.

I decided to go with bottled lime juice this time because I wanted to see if it was any good. I used Mrs. Biddle’s key lime juice, which must be made with real key limes, because it says “key lime juice,” not “Key West lime juice” or some other such nonsense. Key limes are a little bitter, so that’s something to consider. I think fresh Persian lime juice would probably be better, but not a whole lot better, because this is a big, sweet, sloppy drink with lots of stuff in it.

I used Gordon’s gin. Last time, I used Boodle’s, which is light and full of flowery flavors. It was slightly better, but it costs over twice as much as Gordon’s, and I am not so dedicated I’m willing to put $25 gin in a tacky tiki drink.

I bought some skewers, fresh pineapple, and Maraschino cherries. I took a skewer and put several chunks of pineapple on it, along with three cherries and two lime slices. I stuck that in the glass before I poured the drink.

Here is the current recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1.5 ounces gin
0.5 ounces cherry Heering
0.5 ounces creme de cassis
1 tablespoon grenadine
1.5 ounces key lime juice (bottled)
0.25 ounces sloe gin
club soda
fresh pineapple
fresh lime slices
Maraschino cherries
cold club soda

Put everything except the soda in a shaker. Put 4-5 ounces of crushed ice in a tall (I used a pint) glass. Skewer some fruit and put it in the glass. Shake the red stuff with ice. Strain the red stuff into the glass while pouring club soda in from the other side.

That’s about it. It’s really nice. Not the classiest drink in the universe, but very pleasant.

05 11 15 singapore sling

Tomorrow I plan to make one with a spoonful of Coco Lopez in the bottom.

I wrote a big long blog post about the challenges of taking over my dad’s responsibilities, but I decided to trash it and post this instead. I think I’ll be having one of these drinks every day until I get on top of his taxes.

Give it a Name

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Trump Needs a Visit from Mr. Shhh

Yesterday I wrote about Trader Vic’s, the famous tiki bar and Polynesian restaurant. When I was in college at Columbia University, my friends and I used to go there and get obliterated on sweet drinks with fruit in them.

I do not miss getting obliterated, but for some reason, yesterday I felt like I needed a tiki bar drink. The stress of instantly taking over my dad’s taxes and real estate was getting to me, and the weather here was heating up after a wonderful, relatively cool April, so I felt sorry for myself.

It was hard to decide what to do. I didn’t actually know how to make tiki drinks, or as Jimmy the Saint used to call them, “boat drinks.”

I found some help on the web. It turns out Trader Vic was a real person. His name was Vic Bergeron, and he wrote a few books. Some are useless, because the drink recipes say things like “2 parts Trader Vic’s Prefab Zombie Mixer” instead of the real ingredients. Others have information that can actually be helpful. There is also a forum dedicated to tiki bars, and when you Google, some good information comes up.

My repertoire was not completely empty. A friend of mine came up with a surprisingly good drink which he called a Chupacabra. Very simple.

INGREDIENTS

Flor de Cana light rum
Mountain Dew
Juice of half a lime

That’s about it. You pour it over ice. The proportions are up to you. Flor de Cana is very smooth, unlike the ammonia-like products of Bacardi.

You can dress it up with things like Grenadine or creme de cassis. You can add a splash of coconut rum or Grand Marnier. It’s much better than it sounds.

Yesterday I made something sort of similar, using ginger ale and pineapple juice, along with a small amount of Grand Marnier. It was okay, but not ideal.

I decided to try my hand at a Singapore sling. Today I went out and bankrupted myself buying ingredients. It requires gin, sloe gin, grenadine syrup, Heering cherry liqueur, and creme de cassis. You mix it with lime juice, shake it, and top it off with club soda. I’ll be trying that later.

Vic called his version the Trader Vic’s sling. I think he served it with a rock candy swizzle stick, but that may have been the sloe gin fizz. It’s amazing that I remember any of the drink names, given the condition in which I usually oozed out of the building.

I found the recipe online. Is it authentic? I do not know. But here it is.

Singapore Sling

1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. cherry brandy
1/2 oz. creme de cassis
1/4 oz. sloe gin
1/2 lime
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 tbsp. grenadine
club soda to top

Lovingly pour each ingredient except the club soda into your cocktail shaker with some ice. When shaking is over, pour into a collins glass and top off with club soda.

I could not find any high-end brands of sloe gin or creme de cassis around here. I don’t think that matters, because I very much doubt Trader Vic went out of his way to get the best.

I brought home my red ingredients and tried them, and they all tasted pretty much the same. The cherry Heering is fierier than the others, and either the creme de cassis or the sloe gin has a scary aftertaste, but they all taste more or less like a mixture of black cherries and pie cherries. I think you could eliminate two of them without changing the drink at all. I would keep the Heering and grenadine.

Later on I’m going to mix up a sling and see if it’s any good.

I barely drink these days, so if I manage to finish one of these things, it will be remarkable.

It would be neat if they had a Trader Vic’s down here. Once a year I’d like to go and enjoy the tacky decor and the weird appetizers.

I learned something interesting. The bartender my friends and I knew as Buck was actually named Shek Gong. I guess he didn’t actually invent the Buck’s Fizz. Or maybe he did, and it’s really the Shek’s Fizz. I read about him in the article I found which detailed the disgraceful way Donald Trump (the real-life Man With the Plan) ejected Vic from the Plaza’s basement.

walken buckwheats trump trader vics

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get Quickbooks working, and in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to face the day without even thinking about Tiki Puka Pukas and Kama’ainas.

Buckwheats for Trump, though. Definitely buckwheats.

Update

I just completed my experiment, and I concluded a few things.

First of all, it’s a real trip back to the past. The flavor is right on. Wonderful. But there are a few things to fix.

The recipe I quoted says “1 T grenadine.” I assumed “T” meant “teaspoon,” but after I tried the drink, I realized that was wrong.

The purpose of the grenadine is to cover up the dubious flavors of the other ingredients. It smooths them out. Cherry Heering is not exactly Hennessy XO, and Hiram Walker creme de cassis is not that great, either. So I concluded “T” means “tablespoon.” When you increase the amount from one teaspoon to one tablespoon, it tastes like the drink Trader Vic’s used to serve.

Also, you need to stir the soda into the drink, or else you get a drink that’s pure soda on top and cough syrup on the bottom. Stir it gently once or twice. It doesn’t have to be thoroughly mixed. Just make an effort to blend it slightly.

What else? I used lime juice instead of lemon. Lime juice is fragrant and complex, and it brings out the complexity of other ingredients. Lemon juice is kind of dull. I used a fresh lime, not a bottle.

Final thing: I think it would be best to add some fruit to this. I used a lime wedge, because that’s what I had. In the future, I would spear one or two chunks of fresh pineapple with a lime wedge or slice between them, and I would put a cherry on top just for laughs. That would be great. The rock candy swizzle stick I dimly recall from Trader Vic’s would work great, but you would need to work fruit into it somehow.

I may have imagined the rock candy swizzle stick. Fair warning.

It was very nice. I think tomorrow I’ll have another.