Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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I have achieved success

Filed under: — stan @ 7:37 am

Success is mine. After many test runs, and tweaking the recipe many, many times, I have created what Lucinda and I consider to be the Perfect Blueberry Muffin.

And in the spirit of Open Source, here’s the recipe:


The big feed

Filed under: — stan @ 9:37 pm

Today was the big Thanksgiving feast. Where we over-eat even more than usual. As always, I’m the cook, so I got up early and got started.

The two test pies I’d made recently worked out well. I was prepared this time. For last-minute advice on making the crust, I consulted The Teen Guide to Homemaking. This is a 1950s-era home economics textbook that I have. It’s a classic, and it has a lot of good information about basic cooking techniques. It also has good information about making lots of things from scratch. So I made the crust, filled it, and baked it. And it was good.

I also made a whole bunch of other stuff. Green-bean casserole, but not with the canned mushroom soup. The goop was made from scratch with cream, fresh mushrooms, etc. Also, brussels sprouts with garlic and pancetta. And cornbread stuffing made from homemade cornbread. It was all good. As evidence, I present the smiling faces of everyone who was there.


I sometimes get these strange urges…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:37 pm

One day this week I was sitting in my office and started smelling a pie baking in the kitchen downstairs. This happens sometimes, since my office is in a house, and we have a fully-functioning kitchen. It was a peach pie, and a half-gallon of ice cream appeared, too. It was quite good. And I was suddenly seized by an urge to make an apple pie. I’ve only made a pie from scratch once before, and never made an apple pie. But there’s no fighting these urges.

I got some apples today when I went to do our grocery shopping. I looked up a pie crust recipe. And I got down to business.

Making the crust wasn’t too hard. I used to make quiches, so I’m not a stranger to pie crust. But this was the first time in many years. The worst part of the whole process was peeling and cutting the apples. Then I cooked the apples for the filling, which wasn’t too hard.

The instructions said to cool the apples to room temperature before assembling the pie, but I was a bit impatient. They were still a little bit warm, but I don’t think it hurt anything.

I baked the pie for just about 38 minutes before it looked perfectly done. So I took it out and put it in the laundry room to cool. Again, the instructions said to cool it completely before cutting it. But I was impatient. I wanted to try it out. So I cut a piece and ate it.

It was good.

Lucinda looked at me kind of strangely, since I think this is the first dessert she’s ever seen me make that didn’t involve chocolate in some form. But it was a fun little project.


I’m on a quest…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:44 pm

I’m on a quest for the best blueberry muffin recipe. I make chocolate muffins and bran muffins from scratch, and they’re very good. But so far, the blueberry muffin has remained out of reach. I’ve tried several different recipes, and I’m getting close. This muffin is the fourth iteration of the most recent recipe, and it was pretty good.

Tonight I tried a fifth iteration, and I think I’m almost there. Lucinda and I sampled it right out of the oven, and we both thought it was good.

Victory is nearly mine.


Getting ethnic

Filed under: — stan @ 2:25 pm

Since Lucinda asked for Chinese food for dinner, I took a trip to the 99 Ranch Market in Arcadia to get in touch with my roots and stock up on food. Being half-Chinese is not an odd thing any more, but it was cosidered pretty peculiar when I was a kid. And the food is really my only connection to Chinese culture.

Today I noticed more signs of cultural assimilation at the store. The PA announcements giving the week’s specials are now in Chinese and English, which was kind of novel. And the shopping cart ads are also different than what we see in the regular supermarket. Who knew that Chevrolet has a Chinese web site?

So I got home with my 25-pound sack of rice and lots of other stuff that we can’t find in the regular grocery store. And I’m ready to get down and cook.


An invention that changed the world

Filed under: — stan @ 1:43 pm

This was on the obituary page of the Los Angeles Times today:

Rebecca Webb Carranza, 98; Pioneered Creation, Manufacture of Tortilla Chip

“It was 1950, and the El Zarape Tortilla Factory, among the first to automate the production of tortillas, had used a tortilla-making machine for three years.

Corn and flour disks poured off the conveyor belt more than 12 times faster than they could be made by hand. At first many came out “bent” or misshapen, as company President Rebecca Webb Carranza recalled decades later, and were thrown away.

For a family party in the late 1940s, Carranza cut some of the discarded tortillas into triangles and fried them.”

And the world changed.

Sadly, she apparently never realized the full financial success that ought to come as a result of changing the world:

” After Carranza and her husband divorced in 1951, she signed the business over to him.

He soon opened a tortilla chip factory in Long Beach but closed it in 1967, partly because of competition from national companies that had discovered the sales potential of the salty chip.

Rebecca Carranza returned to East Los Angeles and worked into her 80s, first as a meat wrapper at grocery stores and then as a U.S. Census taker.”

Still, it’s a great story.


Our Holiday Feast

Filed under: — stan @ 9:26 pm

So today was the big holiday feast. Not a lot to say about it. I made the traditional turkey and cornbread stuffing. I also made herb bread and two kinds of olive tapenade. And potatoes au gratin.

The main thing was that we got to use our fun little wine chiller thingy.



Filed under: — stan @ 10:48 pm

Since Lucinda had her first sleepover at her friends’ house a few weeks ago, they are over here tonight for their first sleepover at our house. We ordered a pizza for them, which turned out to be a bust. But I made a fudge pudding cake, which was a hit.

There was a fair amount of bickering about toys and sharing, which we had expected. They also argued about the order of their bedtime stories.

This is quite the adventure.


Hufu anyone?

Filed under: — site admin @ 3:46 pm

Found this today from a post on the Skeptic mailing list:

“The Healthy Human Flesh Alternative!”



Gettin’ ethnic and other stories from our house this afternoon

Filed under: — stan @ 11:22 pm

This afternoon was kind of strange, but in an interesting way.

Cathy and Lucinda gave Buddy a bath. Most dogs hate getting a bath, but not Buddy. He seems completely content to be sitting in the water, and he even likes the blow dryer. It’s strange.

After that, they made Easter cookies. Cathy cut the cookies, and Lucinda acted as the artist and decorated them.

Then I sat down and got ethnic. I got in touch with my Chinese heritage and made chaio-tzu (aka ‘dumplings’) and siu mai. Hand-made and all that. Just like Mom used to make when I was a kid. It’s all part of the Master Plan to help pass on the Chinese food meme to Lucinda.

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