No-Bread Bane / Bain-Marie Boon

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I dunno how conditions are in your neck of the woods, BUT, the mere sight of the Stateside, broken supply chain’s emptied store shelves is depressing; so much so, that I’ve not been psyching up sufficiently to haul my heinie off to the supermarket. Consequently, since my last store visit (nearly one full month ago), I’ve observed my supply of cracked wheat bread dwindling; from loaves… to slices… to breadcrumbs…

Alas, this early a.m., that presented a problem; seeing how my oatmeal and coffee main menu frequently features a bain-marie (double boiler) warmed over peanut butter and jam sandwich for dessert.

ASIDE #1: If you’ve yet to consume peanuts / peanut based products, DO be cautious. Check this out…

“A peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. About 1 in 50 children in the US have a peanut allergy. It is a food allergy that commonly causes anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening symptom of an allergic reaction. There’s no cure for peanut allergies, although many children outgrow them.”

(Ohio’s) Cleveland Clinic • Read Full Article Here

ASIDE #2: The de-linking of our supply chain has also cleared the shelves of creamy peanut butter (especially the stir the oil back in variety); all of which has necessitated my becoming more “adventurous”; i.e, opting to check out the chunky variety (which rarely sells out). In this case, my message to the non-allergic masses: DO be adventurous; in this man’s opinion, there are few culinary pleasures that can top munching into a PB & J sandwich’s delish, warm goobers.

So, with all asides now set aside… here’s how I compensated for my down to bread crumbs, crummy plight.

I began by upping my usual oatmeal serving size from 1 to 1½ cups. While everything cooked up, I located my smallest loaf pan; the actual L x W x D:

  • Centimeters = 11½ x 6½ x 4
  • Inches = 4½ x 2½ x 1½

Once the oatmeal was ready, into the loaf pan I spooned / spread out, evenly, the following ingredients:

  • a bottom 2 cm / ½ in thick oatmeal layer
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp strawberry jam
  • a top 2 cm / ½ in thick oatmeal layer

I placed the goodies loaded loaf pan into the now rinsed clean, reheating bain-marie. In the approximately 15 – 20 minutes it took for me to savor my bowl of oatmeal, the mock PB & J’s peanut butter oil was re-separating and the jam was liquefying; thereby imbuing the surrounding oatmeal.

Obviously there’s also plenty of room for future, ingredient experimentation; e.g.

  • adding a crumbled crackers top layer
  • replacing the jam with pancake syrup
  • including raisins, dates and figs
  • subbing in seasonal fresh fruit
  • sprinkling on spices (e.g. cinnamon)

Who’d have thought it possible that a bain-marie could transform into a stove top bakery?

As for the two cereal layers’ ability to replace the bread slices, the oaty flavor proved vastly superior; so yummy that I’m no longer in any particular hurry to haul my heinie off to the grocery store.

My reinvented PB & J sandwich, summed up more succinctly:

Confection Perfection!

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Eggs-istential Enigma (Part 2)

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If you missed Part 1, the next paragraph will get you up to speed…

On 03/16/22, I made a ginormous grocery purchase; grand total $282. Sensing something not so grand had happened, I carefully unpacked and organized that haul atop my dining room table, kitchen countertops and refrigerator shelves. With the register receipt as my guide, I checked off the matching items; by audit’s end discovering the cashier had overcharged me nearly $15 by ringing up 5 phantom items; i.e., 5 cartons of eggs when, in reality, I had NOT purchased any eggs at all!

Hence, this existential / Eggs-istential Enigma:

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Just how the hell does a NON-EXISTENT barcode get scanned
and, even more mind-boggling, NOT ONCE BUT FIVE TIMES?

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I had asked you, my readers, if you had any theories, especially those which might even exonerate / eggs-onerate the cashier of willful wrongdoing, BUT, with nary a comment these past two weeks, looks like I’ll be going it alone…

For starters, let’s attempt to clear the cashier…

Suppose her whip cracking boss has been demanding she work faster? It’s conceivable my struggling to reload bagged groceries into my shopping cart had slowed things down so much that, PRIOR to her properly finalizing my transaction, she began scanning the next customer’s purchase; hence, charging me for those damned eggs.

Next up, the dishonest cashier scenario…

Seeing how Easter Egg “hunting season” is nearly upon us, suppose my cashier’s bestie has been planning such a gathering “on the cheap”? Considering all the foul, fowl aspects of this caper, perhaps saying, “on the cheep”, would be more apropos? Anyway, the cashier’s MO would be to [1] let her accomplice breeze thru the checkout, sans scanning her eggs and [2] as a means to ease guilt about ripping off her employer, she’d make a patsy out of any patron making a huge purchase (going on the assumption that I’d be what? Too well-to-do and/or distracted and/or dense to ever realize I’d been ripped off?

Lastly, the cocky corporate clucker scenario…

Suppose the Dairy Department had accidentally smashed an entire egg shipment. Ergo, to recoup their loss, some corporate bean counter hatched a scam to corrupt the scanner software; program it to [1] morph unsuspecting patrons into patsies, [2] profile out-of-towners making ginormous purchases, [3] tack on 5 fake cartons of eggs to such purchases; all going on the assumption that we’d be what? Too well-to-do and/or distracted and/or dense to ever figure out we’d been ripped off?

Granted, such theories tend to sound unsound. As if invented by what? A chicken running about with its head cut off? Well, I suppose such a suspicious nature stems from my nearly lifelong exposure to reportage of Big Gov shenanigans / Big Biz swindling. Factoring in 3 decades’ worth of retail salesclerk / management indoctrination (re detecting / preventing internal theft) and voilà!

Anyway, it’d appear that such misery does love company. How so?

Well, one week ago, instead of registering my register overcharge complaint at the store, I phoned it in. My first request of Mary, the customer service rep, was that she retrieve my receipt’s image from their database. Bottom line, Mary was just as mystified as I was (still am) that a cashier could, somehow, scan not 1 but 5 NON-EXISTENT barcodes.

Tho Mary could not send me a cash refund thru the mail, she did offer the next best thing; to issue and dispatch a store gift card, which, btw, is now stashed in my wallet.

Little doubt, after I had hung up, Mary’s next phone conversation involved their company’s loss prevention manager, who’ll soon be paying a visit to question the, perhaps, questionable cashier?

Alas, in a pre-pandemic, slightly more civil era, grocery shopping used to be a yawner; the drama just as non-existent as those five phantom barcodes. Oh, how I yearn to return to those bygone, carefree days of yore.

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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Voilà! EZ as Pie Pie à la Mode

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Yesterday, at daybreak, I found my still lingering in Christmastime mode, sweet tooth (fortunately only figuratively) aching for some sort of fruit pie to side dish my utilitarian, hot cereal and coffee breakfast.

However, with [1] no such confection shelved within my dinky pantry and [2] my NEITHER being keen on leaving my teeth chattering (15º C / 59º F) lair NOR dashing thru the recently fallen (10 cm / 4 in) snow in my Chrysler Motors manufactured (163 horse), key opened “sleigh” (ISO of an open early on Sunday supermarket), I’d need to [3] get creative; and, more to the point, improv. a recipe.

With a jar of strawberry jam, box of saltine crackers and the still bubbling away double boiler all-the-sudden catching my eye; I soon knew exactly what to do.

Upon plating the oatmeal, I quickly rinsed / dried the double boiler and then placed, within, an egg poacher cup’s worth of jam.

Following the approximately ten minutes it took to consume my oatmeal, first, I poured my second cup of coffee and, next, spooned out the jam over a small bowlful of hand-crushed crackers (the makeshift pie crust), topped it all off with a few dollops of vanilla yogurt and, voilà, a tasty, generous serving of hot and cold contrasted…

EZ as Pie Pie à la Mode!

I figure that this would all wind up even tastier atop crushed graham crackers and how, occasionally, I could even sub in other homemade “pie fillings” (e.g. apple sauce sweetened with with brown sugar and sprinkled with cinnamon). Ergo, I’ve just added any of these missing items to my shopping list.

True, I could simply buy real pies, but why?

It’s easy as pie (and more economical, too) to simply DIY-IT!

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Supersized US

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As far as food product marketing scams go, this one may sound innocuous, yet…

The practice of supersizing portions (“just” to speed up repeat business / fatten the corporate bottom line) can also (literally) fatten the consumer’s bottom line.

In addition to bigger servings leading to bigger butts (depending on the product), the accompanying, alarmingly unhealthy tonnage of sodium, sugars and saturated fats can lead to hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis, etc.

Let’s flesh this issue out… oh… say… by talking peanut butter (preferably the healthier variety that requires our stirring the separated peanut oil back in).

CAUTION: No discussion would be complete sans a warning of potentially debilitating and deadly Peanut Allergies. Best advice to first time, potential, goober eaters is to always exercise caution; i.e., seek advice from your primary care physician!

So, here’s where we’re at. We’ll start by factoring in the peanut butter industry-wide suggested excessive, serving size; as well as crunch the other sandwich ingredients’ numbers…

  • 190 calories [2 tbsp (32g) peanut butter]
  • 160 calories [2 slices of bread]
  • +50 calories [1 tbsp (20g) jelly or jam]
  • 400 calories [Grand Total]

400 calories for JUST 1 sandwich? Geesh, that’s 20% of the typical adult’s daily, 2,000 calorie intake; which can easily stymie our best intentions (New Year’s Resolutions?) to stick to a nutritionally well-balanced diet.

Additional Stats: Each jar of my favorite peanut butter brand promises 23 sandwiches, total, however, by my spreading it just a tad more sparingly, I’ve been able to net 8 additional sandwiches (31 total). This also drops the calorie count from 190 down to 141. Doing the math:

190 calories X 23 sandwiches = 4370 calories
4370 calories ÷ 31 sandwiches = 141 calories

  • 141 [PB]
  • 160 [Bread]
  • +50 [Jelly / Jam]
  • 351 [New Total]

This sandwich total can be further reduced by
buying lower calorie breads and fruit spreads;
or, even better yet, slicing up some fresh fruit.

Beyond That: These 8 extra sandwiches mean that, for every 3 jars of peanut butter (8 X 3 = 24), I’m netting 1 more sandwich than each jar’s peddled 23. Yep, that’s like getting 1 FREE PB JAR for every 3 purchased. Even better, I’m easily maintaining my old college day’s “fighting weight”; and, all the while not sacrificing one iota of PB&J sandwich flavor.

Beyond Beyond That: By not using up the PB so rapidly, this helps compensate for supply chain woes, which, way too frequently, render our supermarkets’ PB and J aisles barren.

Beyond Beyond Beyond That: Staying fit and trim just might, someday, save my life in yet another way. You see, this liberty loving, liberal can envision literally fleeing for my freedom; namely, outrunning fascistic freak Trump’s Inauguration Day 2025 “parade”; one overrun by his marauding QAnon zombies; menacing, MAGA maniacs; psycho Proud Boys; deployed goosestepping goons and rolled out tank commandos.

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
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Stay Healthy!

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What (else) is flat as a pancake?

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It was during this Sunday’s early a.m., where I found my larder shy of several key pancake ingredients, feeling zero desire to mask-up for an impulse visit to my in-town, price gouging supermarket, YET, still hungering for the damned flapjacks! Oh, what to do?

Well, for starters, it didn’t take much effort to free-associate what else is flat as a pancake.

Hence, right after I finished cooking up / serving up my (daily) bowlful of oatmeal, I quickly rinsed the double boiler free of lingering goo, dried it and tossed in an experimental slice of cracked wheat bread.

By the time I had finished my cereal, this steamy, piping hot mock pancake was table ready. Upon plating it, pouring on the syrup and refilling my coffee cup, the moment of truth had arrived!

Not all that surprisingly, this substitute proved the best invention since (what else?) sliced bread; just as tasty as most other made-from-scratch pancakes. Then again, why would it not? Just read any loaf’s label. Obviously, bread and pancakes do boast many, in common ingredients.

“Department of Afterthought” commentary: Had I warmed the bread a tad longer, it could’ve even morphed into a crunchy mock waffle.

To transcend this morning’s “mmm” moment now comes my “hmm” summation…

While I’d never toss / recycle any of my cherished, handed down from generation-to-generation, pancake recipes (the cards still neatly filed in my late mother’s recipe box), I do know that, in a pandemic related pinch, an acceptable alternative can be found to sidestep nearly any non-problem; such as this one.

Beyond that, this morning’s experiment also proved to be a practical application of the proverb…

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

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Expectations Bar @ Lowest Setting?

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For my midnight repast, scant hours ago, I “auditioned” some new (to me) “cuisine”; i.e., upon emptying one can of Campbells’ Condensed Tomato Soup, approximately one and one half soup cans’ worth of H20 and tossing in 57 grams (2 ounces) of elbow pasta into the shallow top half of a double boiler (which also does double duty as my serving bowl / trough). After 40 minutes of simmering and frequent stirring (to prevent pasta sticking) this concoction wound up pleasantly thickened.

At that juncture everything was dining room table bound; where I pigged out and found this dish to be delish. The next batch I cook up, I plan on seasoning with garlic, basil and black pepper.

Now, just to prove this post has not been a total waste of your time; namely, that this blogger is worth his salt, let’s stir in a heapin’ helpin’ of sodium “fun” facts.

Check out this soup starter. We mustn’t buy into this (or any other) soup can’s label, which attempts to huckster the contents as heart healthy; certainly not with 410 mg of sodium per serving and 2 and one half servings per can. And, admittedly, I did consume the entire can’s worth; that’s 1025mg; nearly one half of the acceptable level! YIKES! Compare / contrast the above data to the RDA enhanced advisory below:

“[Salt-wise] most Americans eat too much of it —and they may not even know it. Americans eat on average about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day—that’s equal to about 1 teaspoon of salt!” Apr 2, 2020

Google Search Results May 7, 2021

And, it’s fair to say that salt addicted citizens are not uniquely American, too.

Anyway, seeing how my supper involved the only over-salted product I consumed during the past 24 hours, I’ll likely survive unscathed.

So, beyond my presentation of heart smart data, what does any of this prove?

Well, this post has been LESS about showcasing my limited abilities as a chef; MORE about pointing out how I’ve become too easy to please; all “courtesy” of the pandemic. Might any of that describe you, too? If so, salt may be the least of our probs, eh?

Perhaps that’s to be expected? When all’s said and done, we discover how many a small-thinker “world leader” along with that mindless microbe have been conspiring to set humanity’s expectations bar to lower than low.

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
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Stay Healthy!

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Trying Times Got You Down? Try This Recipe!

 

One of the better ways to avoid crying through any crisis is to dry our eyes long enough to serve up and chow down on some comfort food… one fave of mine being flapjacks, pancakes, crêpes (whatever we choose to call ‘em).

PROBLEM: After Coronavirus had morphed into a pandemic, I needed to determine how long I could hunker down before risking a trip to the grocery store. Ergo, I took inventory of my limited larder. It was then and there that I spotted that half-full bag of flour, one nearly full container of baking powder and a recently opened bottle of pancake syrup. Oh so close… yet so far. I had to let out a sigh.

OH WHAT TO DO? Seeing how it’s unwise to flip off perishable ingredients’ expiration dates, I had been forced to use up my supply of fresh eggs, way too soon. However, considering my still half full, stamped with a mid-May expiration date carton of milk and good till mid-July quarter stick of butter, I felt a sudden surge of desperation inspired inspiration.

SOLUTION: I decided to twerk an old family recipe… WHOA… correct that typo… oh what the hell… that got me chuckling and seeing how we could all use a good laugh, I’m leaving it, as is (STET would be the printer’s instruction). Now where was I? Oh yeah…  I decided to tweak an old family recipe and wound up serving up a rather tasty stack of flapjacks this early a.m.

EPIPHANY: Seeing how we’ve all been living through trying times, I’ve decided to share my new (twerking-free) Bare Minimum Flapjacks recipe and encourage each pancake aficionado, worldwide, to try your hand at whipping up the following recipe…

DISCLAIMER: Being mindful that most folks usually opt out when it comes to cooking from scratch projects, I’ve opted to over-explain much of this process. To be sure, the more experienced you are, the more you’ll be able to flip off these instructions. That said… let’s get cookin’…

CHECK LIST: You’ll need to gather the following paraphernalia and ingredients…

• medium mixing bowl (1.4 ltr / 1½ qts) (a good sized salad bowl will do)
• 25.5 cm / 10 in diameter cast iron griddle (I never tried it, but maybe a frying pan?)
• 0.95 ltr / 1 qt sauce pan (a bit of “overkill” since we’re only melting 1 pat of butter)
• ½ cup measuring cup (or even a coffee cup that’s the same diameter top to bottom)
• dinner table soup spoon
• teaspoon
• butter knife
• rubber spatula (or, in a pinch, washed hands’ fingers will do)
• metal spatula (I find the long handled variety best for flipping pancakes)
• medium sized double boiler or oven container (to house completed pancakes)

• ½ cup of wheat flour (slightly packed… btw… I prefer unbleached)
• ½ tsp sugar (a good guesstimate is amt. we typically add to our coffee cups)
• 1 tbsp (slightly heaping) baking powder
• 1 pat of butter (width = 3 mm / 1/8 in)
• 1 tbsp canola oil (most other cooking oils will probably be OK)
• ½ cup milk (I prefer skim but lowfat or whole will do)

METHOD STAGE 1: On a warm setting, preheat your griddle and storage container (that cooktop double boiler or oven container). Melt the butter in the small pan and set aside. Next, prep the dry ingredients. In the bowl, form and center a flour “well” where you’ll dump in the measured out sugar and baking powder. Next add the canola oil and milk. Mix slowly until the batter is lump free and shiny.

NOTE: Pancakes tend to stick at the very center of my griddle, which can make for flipping difficulties. Assuming this prob is not unique, I recommend divvying up melted butter, thusly…

METHOD STAGE 2: First spill most of the butter into the batter (while reserving a wee bit to spill, dead center, on the griddle). Increase your griddle temp setting a bit higher and then thoroughly blend the rest of the butter into batter for another 2 – 3 minutes. When the griddle just begins to smoke, start that first pancake (while pouring the batter, divvy it up while keeping in mind that you’ll be making four). Frying time will take approximately 80 seconds per side. Times can vary but there are some helpful clues, for example, when the batter starts to bubble. And there’s no law against crouching and slightly lifting the pancake’s edge to see how brown it is.

You can expect to wind up with approximately four 9 cm / 3.5 in diameter pancakes (I intentionally keep them on the small side to facilitate flipping).

That’s it! Serve ‘em up with plenty of pancake syrup (or whatever other topping you may have on hand… oh… say… some strawberry jam?).

FINAL STEP: ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

A Delectable Pumpkin Pie Alternative

21 percent of recently polled Americans say that they dislike pumpkin pie… which tends to partially debunk the above clip’s expressed lyrical love for this dessert. Personally, while the taste is fine with me, what I don’t particularly care for is its pudding-like consistency.

If you concur… and even if you don’t… keep in mind that pumpkin is not only good for pie making.

Brief Backstory…

My sister discovered a Pumpkin Cranberry Bread recipe, while reading the November 1996 issue of Gourmet magazine and, ever since then, this melt in the mouth confection has become our family favorite… not only during the holidays but year-round. It is particularly tasty when served warm out of the oven… or even reheated.

Upon my (mere moments ago) discovery that this periodical has actually posted this very recipe, online, I just had to share it with you… all courtesy of this Convenient Interwebs Link.

You might want to also follow another link to read about the 9 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin.

If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow… have fun! If you’re traveling… safe journeys!