Friday, December 29, 2023

Stuffed Cabbage

Chef Elaine grew up with Stuffed Cabbage and I grew up with Cabbage Rolls, probably because my ancestors were from Germany and the Chef's (at least half of them) were from eastern European countries like Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Slovakia.  I made the rolls shown below from the recipe at the bottom, taken from a 1973 cookbook called "Three Rivers Cookbook."  The picture shows the little rolls sitting on a layer of sauerkraut before being submerged in tomato sauce and tomato soup (what!), water, bacon, and sugar.  

The term "Golumki" in the recipe's title might be a typo, as a search returns "Golumpki", which means "little pigeons".  Fortunately, that's a reference to the shape of the roll, which looks like a pigeon’s chest, not the source of the meat. 

More information and a list of dozens of ethnic variations can be found at this link.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Holiday Spirit

Two of our friends introduced us to the cocktail below, a dazzling display of Christmas colors.  You start by rimming the inside of a martini glass with marshmallow fluff (~ 3/8" deep) then turn it upside down to get a layer of red and green sprinkles to adhere.  Fill the glass with a white-colored concoction of your choice and wait for the sprinkles to slowly dissolve into streaks.  

This particular cocktail was made with 2 oz of Rumchata, 1.5 oz of Vanilla Vodka, 1.5 oz of Amaretto, and 1 oz of Half and Half.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Carabiner Part Deux

After my post a couple of weeks ago, a reader noted that carabiner is a really strange word which led me to look at the word's origin.  Pronounced "care-a-bean-ner" (short "a") the word comes from the German Karabinerhaken, where Karabiner translates to Carbine and haken to hook.  So a carabiner originated as a method to attach a carbine rifle to a soldier's belt, but is now used for a variety of purposes and a mainstay for mountain climbers.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023


As I was searching for a nice font to use, I found one I liked printed on a card we received, but of course, I had no clue which one it was.  I searched through the Google Play store and found the WhatTheFont app.  I scanned the text and the resulting matches are shown in the screenshot below.  That was enough information (the "light" was the key) to find a similar font in Google Docs to meet my needs.  

You can also use the link below to upload an image or select an image's URL to have WhatTheFont perform a similar search as the smartphone app.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Pixel 7 As A Webcam

While I don't think the world needs a higher-resolution image of my face when I'm on a video call, the picture below comes from my Pixel 7 smartphone being used as a webcam on my Mac.  It's a boastful 1920x1080 that blows away the 1280x720 spec of my normal Microsoft HD-6000 webcam by 2.25 times more pixels.  Attaching it to my Mac was seamless but Chef Elaine's Windows PC just ignored it.  Windows is supposed to support USB Video Class (UVC) cameras like my Pixel, so when I get time I might try to figure that out.

The biggest downside to using my Pixel 7 as a webcam is that I don't have a stand that would elevate it to eye level so that just might have to be a snowy winter's day project.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Three Challahs

I've made Challah bread several times in the past (see link below) but have always made one great loaf that a part went to waste, plus it's way more than Chef Elaine and I care to have in our limited-carb diet.  A few weeks I had the brilliant (or more like it, finally) idea to make three smaller loaves as seen below.  After they cooled, two of the three were wrapped up and stored in the freezer for later consumption.  I find it amazing that something this simple takes me years to think of.  Sigh...

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Christmas Tree

After years of buying a real Christmas tree, hauling it home tied to the top of the Jeep, dragging it into the living room, getting it level, and watering it daily, we finally caved and bought the artificial tree shown below.  We bought it from Frontgate Outlet in West Chester, Ohio just after last Christmas when their markdowns were at their highest, making this overpriced-at-$1,000+ tree reasonably affordable.  The tree is just three pieces and has hundreds of small white lights installed.  Just connected the pieces, plugged them into an Alexa-supported smart plug, and added some of the hundreds of ornaments from Chef Elaine's large collection.  It is one of the prettiest artificial trees I've ever seen.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Falls Of The Ohio

Last October we took the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville and in addition to learning about the history of the brand, we learned about the origins of the city.  It's located on the Ohio River just upstream of the Falls of the Ohio which back in the 1780s presented the only rapids on the Ohio from its beginning in Pittsburgh to it flowing into the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois.  Those rapids were very dangerous and boats would offload their cargo, which would be hauled overland 2.5 miles downstream to a spot below the Falls, and hopefully loaded back on their original ship, assuming the lightened craft could navigate the Falls safely.  

The Louisville and Portland Canal was completed in 1830 and renamed the McAlpine Locks and Dam in 1960.  This removed the obstacle the Falls presented and allowed commercial and pleasure craft safe passage up and down the river.  More information can be found at the link below.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Kirkland Soap

I've used Dove soap for over a dozen years and have been happy with it, but as the cost of everyday supplies has gone nuts, I decided to search for a cheaper version that was equally gentle on my dry-ish skin.  I gave the Kirkland brand shown below a try and it is even better than the Dove at about two-thirds of the cost.  It lathers like crazy (caveat, we have a great Enting Water softener) and does so even as the bar shrinks to a sliver, something the Dove doesn't.  We get ours at Costco but it looks like it's available from eBay and others, albeit for a higher price.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Travel Essentials

Since I seem to travel a lot, a follower asked "What are the essential items you always pack?"  Turns out it's the nearly three dozen items that are listed below.  The most important part to me is these are always ready to go.  I don't go around collecting these; they are dedicated to traveling only, and none are used while I'm home.  That's a lot of duplication, but it's also a lot less work, and more importantly, I will remember everything essential.  I just pack my toiletry and Crown Royal bags in my suitcase and grab my laptop bag.  On the road again!....

Inside my Toiletry Bag
  • toothbrush and toothpaste, toothpicks
  • razor and shaving cream
  • soap in a plastic container
  • deodorant 
  • ibuprofen, Tums, eye drops, lip balm, body cream
  • small flashlight
  • bottle opener/small knife
  • nail clippers, tweezers
  • sewing kit
  • hand wipes, bandages
Inside a purple Crown Royal bag
  • 40W 4-Port USB Phone Charger
  • two USB-C cables (iPads, Pixel 7)
  • one Lightning cable (iPhone 11)
  • one Magnetic Charging Cable (Apple watch)
  • one USB 2.0 Micro cable (travel mirror)
Inside my laptop bag

Friday, December 15, 2023

Fried Brie Sandwich

If you're thinking I may have overdone the thick pieces of Brie cheese or the amount of butter I used on the bread to ensure proper frying, just remind yourself that no chef was ever fired for too much cheese, butter, bacon, or other ingredients that make life worth living.  While the recipe at the link below used some leftover cranberry-orange sauce, I used some long-leftover cherry preserves that had been hiding out in the fridge for years.  But anything sweet will cut the fattiness of the cheese and make a well-balanced and warming sandwich as winter approaches.  

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Velcro Wrap

The cover shown below includes a couple of velcro straps but they are never enough to prevent a good gust of wind from separating it from the body of the firepit.  The $10 solution was a 10-foot-long, one-inch-wide piece of velcro I purchased from Amazon at the link below.  I wrapped it tight around the cover, cut it so there was a one-foot overlap, and presto, I don't think this cover is coming off with the next gust.  

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Flooring Visualizer

The flooring seen in the picture below is not what's currently in our master bedroom, it's a color and pattern that we thought might be a good upgrade.  The visual is courtesy of Home Depot's Flooring Visualizer.  Using my smartphone, I selected the flooring and from its product page clicked “See this in my room.”  I snapped a photo of the room and the app placed the flooring on the floor, not just over the existing floor but also an area rug that's around and under the bed.  This takes a lot of guesswork (and possibly buyer remorse) out of a big decision.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Carabiner Clip

All it took was the carabiner clip and screw eye hook shown below to organize the two extension cords we use to power our outside holiday decorations.  The carabiner is large enough for the cords, but small enough that the electrical plugs can't get through when they're disconnected.  Just one more simple but effective house hack born out of my need to organize anything.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Smoke and Heat Alarm

At my brother-in-law's suggestion, I've installed a smoke and heat alarm in our garage, as shown below.  It makes sense to have an alarm in the one area of our house where I store all the most flammable items such as gasoline, oil, charcoal, a full propane tank, and fire-starter sticks.  Because the garage can go above or below the normal operating temperature of a smoke alarm, I opted for the combo that includes a heat alarm.  God forbid that the garage catches on fire, but this might give us the extra seconds needed to get out of the house.  A link to the model I purchased for $30, which has a 10-year, no-replacement battery, is at the link below.

Big shout-out to Albert for this safety addition!

Friday, December 8, 2023

The Original Q Shack

The picture below can't begin to convey how delicious this sliced barbeque brisket sandwich, hot hushpuppies, Pinto beans, and a couple of jalapeno deviled eggs from The Original Q Shack in Durham, NC turned out to be.  The pile of brisket, sliced 1/2" thick, was enough by itself, and was larger than my normal-sized lunch.

We waited outside until a spot opened up at the order counter, came inside and selected our choices, paid, and then found a table to which they delivered a few minutes later.  They also have tables on an outdoor porch and everything is available for takeout.  We highly recommend this place and suggest visiting outside the normal lunch hours and even better when the Duke students are off on a break.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Murphy's Law

I've known Murphy's Law, which is not really a law but more of an observation since I was a kid, but I recently decided to look into its origin.  Edward A. Murphy was a United States Air Force Captain and aeronautical engineer and came up with the saying "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."  It was coined in 1948/49 following some mishaps testing rocket sleds.  It's actually very good advice and helped guide my testing of computer programs throughout my career.  

My favorite follow-on is "Mrs. Murphy's law" which states, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong while Mr. Murphy is out of town."  From personal experience, I know this is the absolute truth.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

2023 Mowing Season

This year's mowing season is finally over but at the beginning of spring, I wondered how often I mow in a given year.  So I kept track of that this year and now that the mowing season is over I can tell you the answer is twenty-nine, which roughly translates into twenty-nine hours of cutting, edging, and blowing.  That was a bit more than I expected, but with the warm temps continuing into November, I'll take the extra rounds of golf in exchange for a few extra trips around the yard.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Maps Screenshot

We ran into the odd situation of getting a phone call from a relative walking around the neighborhood and needing assistance.  The problem was they didn't know exactly where they were, but the solution was simple, just have them bring up their Maps application, take a screenshot, and text it to us.  For those who might need a reminder on how to screenshot an iPhone, directions are at the link below.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Repurposed Basketball

It has taken me a mere 16 years to become annoyed enough with the air conditioning compressor's cover, which normally lays flat and collects water and ice in the winter, to find a simple solution.  As shown below (well, sorta), I placed an old, worn-out basketball under the cover, positioned in the middle, forming a slope that should drain the rain and slide off the snow.  I'm not a hoarder, so why I kept this basketball around is a bit of a mystery, particularly since 99%+ of the garage contains only things that get used at least yearly.  Kismet?

Friday, December 1, 2023

Hot Dogs in a Puff Pastry Blanket with Everything Spice

I baked the hot dogs shown below just for something a little different.  I love puff pastry and everything spice, so when I ran across the recipe at the link below, I was destined to try it.  Instead of making everything spice per the recipe, I used a jar of it I had in the cupboard and then applied it a bit too liberally.  The result was a salt bomb that only my good friend Grace would appreciate.  

Chef Elaine and I know from experience that the first time you make a new recipe things often don't go as expected, but we learn and move forward.  This was certainly a learning moment for me.