Makin’ bacon, the first BLT sandwiches of the season

There is nothing like the first BLT of the season made with homegrown tomatoes. Among the veggies in our garden this year, the Early Girl, Mr. Stripey, Cherokee Purple, Beefmaster and Roma tomatoes are the most welcome. Our spring and summer have been unseasonably cool, and tomatoes like hot days and warm nights. They do their magic during those warm nights. We’ve had an abundance of rain this season, though, so much that I’ve only watered our veggies and flowers a handful of times the whole season! This week, the tomatoes finally began to ripen.

Last night and today, BLT’s have been dinner, along with chunks of a particularly succulent and sweet seedless watermelon.The results were, well…Just take Emma’s word for it.

Picture of dog panting and drooling for BLT sandwich

Yeah, baby! It is time for fresh tomatoes plain or with Tzatziki Sauce (we get ours from GFS, Gordon Food Services), a splash of balsamic vinegar, light Italian dressing, or served up on sandwiches. Miracle Whip is our condiment of choice for the latter.

I cooked the bacon in the microwave the second time around, because it is less messy and the grease is absorbed as it cooks. Just layer a few paper towels on a plate, arrange slices of bacon side-by-side on the plate (no overlapping) and cover with another few sheets of paper towels. Cook on high for 4-6 minutes and let cool a bit. If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, you will probably need to turn the plate part way through to make sure it cooks evenly.

There are also some great microwave bacon cooker kitchen gadgets if you want to save on paper towels and lessen the amount of bacon grease you consume. Nordic Ware makes one that’s both a bacon cooker and meat grill. There’s also The Original Makin’ Bacon Microwave Bacon Rack, which suspends the bacon during cooking, letting the grease drip down into a reservoir below. I’d like that one myself, since it lets you cook more pieces at a time, certainly more than I could using a plate and paper towels.

What’s your favorite thing to do with an abundance of fresh garden produce, especially tomatoes? We are going to have a BUNCH of Roma tomatoes coming ripe at once and I want to use them up. I don’t know if I want to bother with canning, but I might try it. It would be good to make some tomato sauces for later. Hmmmmmm. At least it’s been a cooler summer so canning wouldn’t be so doggoned hot. I thought about setting up a hotplate out under our gazebo and putting my big Ball 21-quart waterbath canner out there so it won’t heat up the house.

I’ll do anything for cookies

After years of being shot down, Donald lowered his sights a little:

 

Low expectations

 

“I’ll do anything for cookies.”

For cookies? Really? Poor guy.

…What would he do for a pie?

I’m not one to call the kettle black, though. I am a fiend when it comes to sweets, especially cookies. They’re little, portable bites of goodness. I made the mistake of baking a roll of Pillsbury’s seasonal peppermint sugar cookies early this week. I used my blackened, well-seasoned baking stone and these rocked. But ya know what? They’re all gone now. Howie doesn’t even like them. He took one bite of one and handed the remainder of the cookie back to me.

Who does that??

I can’t keep stuff like that in the house. If there is healthy stuff available, I’ll eat it. If there are cookies or anything else delectable like them, that’s where I gravitate. Just step away from the sweets, m’am, and no one will get hurt.

The image is an illustration from a 1948 Baby Ruth candy advertisement. Click the image above and you’ll see the whole ad. I found it at plan59.com, which boasts a huge online repository of vintage ads and art, plus offers prints and hi-res image of the same.

By the way, I always assumed the candy bar was named after baseball great, Babe Ruth, but it turns out there’s speculation it was named after others. Baseball wins, though. Snopes has the skinny.


Review of Sunset Inn Restaurant in Hebron, Ohio

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For years, we drove past this place thinking it was just a little bar. My husband heard they had good food, so went there for lunch with a friend. He raved about it and took me back there for dinner last week. The food is made fresh from scratch — not frozen — and is reasonably priced.

We split an order of chicken wings as an appetizer. They had a very light, crispy breading and had good flavor. I think there were 10 wings and the cost was only $5.95. We had the option of having the wings tossed in BBQ sauce or having the sauce on the side. We chose the latter. They make the wings fresh for each order, and it shows. They were good wings. A wider selection of sauces would have been nice, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker.

For my entree, I had fried frog legs. Having had big frog legs in Louisiana, I set a pretty high bar. I’ve had them at Asian buffets, but they’re always little previously-frozen wimpy frog legs. When I asked how big theirs were, our server brought out a pair of frog legs ready to go into the fryer so I could see for myself.  They were plump, fresh frog legs cooked intact. Lightly-breaded with just a dusting of a seasoned flour, they were really tasty. The thighs’ circumference was about the same as a US quarter. Forgive the poor quality shot, but I took it with my phone in dim light.

 

Four nice-sized frog legs with a side of cottage fries.

Four nice-sized frog legs with a side of cottage fries.

 

Yes, I giggled when I saw them. In all my previous experiences with them, the legs have been separated. We remarked about how they looked like little people. Now there’s a nice thought, huh? I must admit I held up a pair and made them dance a little jig. My husband did not video record this, unfortunately. I did stop (just) short of singing “Hello! Ma Baby!” as I did it. Even I have a few filters left.

 

 

Here’s the whole film, “Some Froggy Evening” cartoon with Michigan J. Frog. It’s one of my favorite Looney Tunes films!

 

But I digress.

My husband had baked steak, which was also good. The mashed potatoes and gravy were great. We both liked that they didn’t salt the heck out of the recipes. We don’t use a lot of salt when we cook at home, so it’s almost inevitable that most restaurant fare is way too salty for our taste. I had to add a little salt to my food, but I prefer that any day. You can always add salt, but you can’t take it away!

My husband had the apple dumpling a la mode with vanilla ice cream for dessert. I had the red velvet cake, something our server said was a new item. The apple dumpling was a tad rubbery, perhaps microwaved a little too long. It had a light, flaky crust and tasted very good, though. The red velvet cake had a wonderful, light and fluffy, whipped icing, not the usual heavy cream-cheese type. The cake was high, a good 4″ tall. As delectable as that icing was, there was a bit too much cake in relation to the icing. It made the dessert a little more dry than I prefer. Had it been a layer cake, the icing to cake ratio would have been about perfect. The dessert is the only reason for 4 stars rather than 5 on my review.

When my husband went there the first time, the owner’s mom asked what his name was, saying she tries to learn the customers’ names. It’s just a friendly, homey place serving good old-fashioned American food.

Not sure just where Hebron is? Here’s a map:

View Larger Map
Whether you’re a local, in the Columbus area or out toward Zanesville, Mt. Vernon or Lancaster, it’s worth the a nice drive in the country and a day trip.

Zojirushi bread machine bonanza, plus DAK Turbo Baker II owner’s manual

I had another bit of great luck about a month ago. At a veteran’s group garage sale, I found a Zojirushi BBCC-N15 breadmaker for $10. Zojirushi products are awesome and their bread machines are Cadillacs of the appliances. Even an older model like this was something I’d never turn down for that price. Even if it hadn’t powered on, I could have parted it out and still turned a great profit. However, it DID power on and it bakes a mean loaf of bread.

Some day, I’d love to get the double-paddled Zojirushi BB-CEC20WB Home Bakery Supreme, but I like my latest find a lot…And I only paid $10. 🙂

On the subject of bread machines, I’ve had several people ask if I have the manual for the DAK Turbo Baker II (FAB-200) bread machine I wrote about a while back. It so happened I had the printout, but couldn’t find my original file. However, I did a little sleuthing (gotta love the Goog) and hunted it down so I could offer it for my readers here.

DAK Turbo Baker II FAB-200-User’s Manual

Let me know if you have any questions!

The DAK Turbo Bake II, AKA R2-D2

DAK Turbo Bake II and Oster 5838 breadmakers

Right now, my DAK Turbo Baker II, which I affectionately dubbed R2-D2 for obvious reasons, and my Oster 5838 are filling the house with a wonderful aroma.

DAK Turbo Bake II and Oster 5838 breadmakers

DAK Turbo Bake II and Oster 5838 breadmakers

That DAK breadmaker was a GREAT thrift store find. I love this thing!

It’s different than other breadmakers. First, you put the ingredients in the opposite order from most bread machines: dry ingredients first, then liquids on top. It has temperature sensor in the post on which the paddle sits’ the sensor gauges the dough ball or loaf’s internal temperatures and adjusts the baking cycle accordingly. It has a turbo bake setting that uses heat to expedite the rising process. It is a convection element to it as well, with a fan coming on periodically during its cycle. And, it has a cool-down at the end that keeps the bread from getting overcooked and/or soggy if you don’t remove it from the pan right away.

Though it doesn’t have a dedicated wheat bread cycle, I make 100% whole wheat recipes in it frequently and they turn out just fine. That might be owing to the above-mentioned smart technology.

It’s a shame the DAK company went defunct, because this machine really is a wonder, works great. There are many other fans out there, and plenty of videos on YouTube.

Here’s a DAK Turbo Baker IV model, making a heavy, low-carb bread. That gives any machine a workout, and this owner is happy with his DAK.

Here’s someone’s video of the same model I have:

I do have the manual for this machine, and as soon as I have a little time, I’ll upload it to my website. I know there’s a lot of people looking for it, along with a thriving parts market. As far as recipes go, just about any bread machine recipes will work in it. I just reverse the usual order of ingredients so the liquids are added last.

I need to make some videos, too. Right now, though, my walnut-wheat bread’s ready and I need to take it out of the pan! 🙂

Inadvertently erotic produce

Yesterday, while putting away a new bag of white potatoes, one caught my eye. I laughed out loud. all by my lonesome near the hanging wire basket in the pantry.

She was lurking in the bag of spuds.

She, for it’s obviously a she, sports a potbelly. She even has a belly button (it’s an innie). She’s a potato with a pannus…Or a panniculus, if you’d prefer. She’s ample, delightfully rubenesque. She’s a BBT (Big Beautiful Tater).

But it gets better. While setting up my decidedly low-tech shot, I looked at the back of Miss Tater and saw this…

Yep, same potato, other side!

Not only does she have a tummy, she has a tater tush. She even has a cute little dimple at the top of her crack. You can’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

I’d love it if readers would share their “produce with personality”. Post links to your own blog entries and photo streams. Rated G or PG *only*.

DIY French Press Cozy

My favorite gift this Christmas was the French press coffee pot Howie gave me.

The reason is twofold. First, I’ve wanted a French press for years. They make a fantastic cup of coffee. Second, he got it for an insanely low price. I love a bargain, and he found this Bodum 12-cup model at the local Goodwill store for all of two bucks. TWO BUCKS!

They sell for almost $50 at Amazon, Target and other places I’ve looked, so this was a real bargain! As the cashier rang up the sale, she asked what the heck it was. He couldn’t wait to give it to me; to his credit, though, he made it all the way to Christmas Eve before letting me unwrap it. What a guy!

I use the French press almost every day. We’ve had to cut expenses and can’t make our beloved Caribou Coffee Obsidian Blend every day, but we find Eight O’Clock Coffee French Roast tastes pretty good when done in the French press. We still get Caribou, but just for special treats on the weekends.

He picked up a mini-me version of it at Meijer for $10, just to use at his office. Yeah, he’s gotten spoiled, too.

The one thing that’s bugged me is how quickly the coffee cools in the pot if it’s just me drinking it. At least French pressed coffee doesn’t develop the bitter edge that drip-brew does as it cools. It makes a nice iced coffee later on in the day if you make it stronger to begin with.

But still.

I saw some really cute French press wraps at this site, but couldn’t see spending the money on one right now. Besides, the pattern I really like — this sort of celestial pattern — is sold out in the 12-cup model we’d need.

So, I decided to take matters into my own hands today.

I had hanging in my closet an old fleece jacket that was pilling pretty badly. I haven’t worn it for a couple of years. So, out came the pinking shears! I cut one of the sleeves off up near where it joined the body of the jacket.

Then, I slipped the sleeve over the French press, wide-end-first and held the sleeve upright. Snip! One more cut about two inches above the top of the pot and my sleeve was nearly done. I turned the sleeve around so the seam was lined up with the spout of the press (opposite the handle), then made a small cut in the fabric directly over the handle. I expanded that cut just enough so the handle could slip through the hole.

It might not be very pretty, nor lined with nifty Thinsulate, but it does the job for now and it’s nicer than wrapping a towel around the pot. If I get really adventurous, I could put some grommets around the top and add a drawstring. Nah!