My New Washer, My New Hate Affair

GE 4.2 CuFt Top Load Washer
(Hybrid Washer with Old Style 

Am I the only one who hates the “new” generation of washers?  By new, I mean the washers that have popped up over the last 10 years that have a super short and stubby agitator…

The type that you can barely fill half way?  What’s up with that?  To be blunt, they’re less than useless.  How does it save energy or water when I now have to do two or three loads of weekly washing instead of one?

Recently, I did a load of 4 small t-shirts set to medium…. they were barely covered.

Ridiculous PERIOD

Someone…. Please, explain this insanity to me.

Just over 12 years ago we bought the least expensive Maytag washer that had an extra large capacity.  We don’t remember the price.  But, we do know it was less than 300 dollars.  After a bit of discussion and a mini pity party, we have an idea.  If we had to guess, we’d guess somewhere in the neighborhood of $269.  Fast forward 12+ years and we’re buying a “hybrid” extra large capacity washer with an old style agitator.  (The only one we could find, by the way.)  It looks bigger.  And, it claims to have a “Super” sized load.  But, that’s a load of BS.  Even this hybrid washer can only be filled to the halfway point.  With deep fill turned on (And, you must turn it on manually.), it’s barely 3/4 full.  So, now, each and every week for the rest of my life, I have to do two loads of wash instead of one.  And, yes, I’m going to bitch about it.

This is utter BS.

My old washer was smaller (but, it held more clothes, did more wash, AND it washed everything much better), much stronger, and it fought the good fight…. 12 years and then some.  I loved …LOVED …yes, LOVED! that washer.  It kicked some serious ass.  I crammed that beauty to the top on a weekly basis for years.  And, it worked like a charm.

It will be missed. (moment of silence, please)

This new thing plays a feeble tune (figuratively and literally) by comparison.

Do you know why you can’t open these new machines while they’re in use?  That’s because the makers of these useless machines don’t want you to see what a crappy job they’re doing.  But, you can’t hide the end result.


I will say, out of the options currently available… even the options in the $800+ variety… it’s not horrible (some are actually quite horrible).  I can’t even imagine paying over $1000 dollars for a machine that does less than my old faithful.  This new thing is just a sorry substitute for a machine that was a real work animal.

This calls for a mid-week cocktail.

Cuba Libre
makes 2

3 ounces rum
Mexican Coca-Cola
crushed ice
multiple lime wedges

Divide rum between two rocks glasses filled with ice.  Squeeze at least two lime wedges into each glass.  (Since I’m feeling messy, I’m throwing the squeezed wedges into the glass.)  Top with Mexican Coca-Cola.  And, garnish each glass with a fresh lime wedge.


(That is… Cheers! to everyone except anyone responsible for the current state of wash machine technology.)

My Daiquiri

This is a daiquiri worth drinking…

Even though I stumbled upon a bad bag (bright green and pretty, but dry batch) of limes, I was able to make a very tasty daiquiri with those limes.  I nuked each one of my dry (but still fresh looking) limes for between 15-30 seconds.  If you nuke for 30 seconds, be careful.  There will be hot patches of lime juice inside.  I know this because I burnt the tender skin on the back of my hand with a burst of hot lime juice.  So, either use a towel to wrap around the warm limes.  Or, wait a couple minutes to let the interior of the lime cool down a bit.

I thought I was  being clever to cut the lime in half.  At 15 seconds the limes are still very dry.  But, after as little as 20 seconds, the limes were bubbling hot near the middle.  The lime appeared dry at first.  But, with a little effort, the juice started to flow… and spurt.  And, that’s where I burnt my hand.  So, be careful.

Is the juice from a nuked lime as good as a fresh, juicy lime?  No, not really.  Most likely, the lime is dry due to being slightly under-ripe.  So, it will also be a touch more bitter than a perfect lime.  And, I feel like a bit of super fresh bite is lost in translation.  But, the flavor is close enough to work in a pinch.  This works for a cocktail and for a quick batch of guac.

But, nothing beats a beautifully fresh bag of juicy limes.  Only nuke your limes out of sheer need and desperation.

My Daiquiri
makes 2

4 ounces of your favorite rum
2 ounce lime juice
1 ounce orange syrup or orange liqueur
(for the original use 1 ounce simple syrup instead of orange syrup)

lime wedges or twists, for garnish, if desired

In a mixing glass, combine ice, rum, lime juice and orange syrup. Stir well.  Strain and divide mixture between two glass over fresh ice.

Garnish with lime wedges.

Irish Cream Liqueur

Today, I have a cold and a sore throat.  I have big plans to spend most of the day curled up with a book under the covers.  But, this weekend I’ll be ready to get out and enjoy the day.

Rain or shine.

Though, I’m hoping for shine.

For Today:

Turmeric Tea
makes 1 big mug

1  sachet Royal Palace black tea (Harney & Sons)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon mace
1/16 teaspoon nutmeg
1/16 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon manuka honey

Let tea and spices steep for 4-5 minutes at 212 degrees F.  Then, stir in one spoonful of honey.  Sip slowly and enjoy!

For Tomorrow:

Wolfberry Tea
makes 1 big mug

1 sachet Royal Palace black tea
1 Tablespoon wolfberries (aka goji berries)
1 teaspoon manuka honey

Let tea and wolfberries steep at 212 degrees F for 4-5 minutes.  Then, add honey to your taste.  One scant teaspoon adds plenty of sweetness to my mug of wolfberry tea.  Nibble wolfberries with a spoon as you sip your tea.

For The Weekend:

Irish Cream Liqueur
Makes 5 cups

2 cups Irish whisky
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups cream (or half and half)
2 teaspoons espresso powder (or 3 tsp instant coffee)
2-3 Tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all in a glass pitcher with a lid.  Stir until all ingredients combine well.  It is drinkable immediately.  But, for the best flavor, cover and chill overnight.  Or, chill for up to two weeks.  Serve in liqueur glasses.  Or, drizzle over vanilla ice cream for an adult friendly dessert.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Wandering around the back yard, I wanted to grab a few quick shots of my new peach blossoms.  They were beautiful.  Again.  Every year the sight of these blossoms has made the effort of these peach trees worthwhile… even though we’ve only been able to enjoy a couple handfuls of peaches.  Between the late freezes, heavy winds, and the squirrels, the peaches either fall too early or the wildlife claims them as their own.  I was so busy looking at the peach blossoms.  I didn’t see the big picture.  But, as I pointed the camera up and snapped a quick shot.  I paused and took a look.  There it was.  A bright rainbow was hiding in the clouds.  I looked up and enjoyed the sight.  After enjoying the sight of it for a few moments.  I had to blink.  My eyes were watering from the bright light.  Then, I looked back up.  It was still beautiful as the colors began to fade.  After another blink or two it was gone.  Don’t let the pretty little things fade away without enjoying every second of their beauty.

Enjoy each and every minute of your life.

Beauty hides in plain sight.  Can you see it?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

makes one big pot

6 large Irish potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled
1 cup of cabbage or kale, roughly chopped
4 Tablespoons Kerrygold butter, soft
cream, as needed
3 scallions, finely minced
1 small handful of chives, minced
1 small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely minced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt butter.  Add cabbage or kale.  Wilt.  Then, add potatoes. Mash until smooth and creamy.  Fold in other ingredients adding cream as needed.  Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

Fried Egg And Vegetable Biryani

My favorite lunch of the week…

One White Oak Pastures egg makes this simple dish something special.  Rich, savory, spicy rice blended with plenty of vegetables, that’s a rice dish I want to eat.  Emphasis on rich, this could be slimmed down a bit by substituting low fat milk (or, for a much lower fat, vegetable stock) for the half and half.  But, as is, a small scoop of rice and one egg makes for a hearty meal.   I’m usually not a snacker.  Ok, maybe I’ll sneak a snack hear and there.  But, for the most part, I like to stick to meal times for eating.

Add easy prep.

That means this will surely be added to my regular week day lunch lineup.  It took so little effort.  It’s almost too easy.  Chopping up carrots also gives you a great excuse to nibble on a carrot stick or two while you’re waiting for the rice to cook.  In case you haven’t noticed.  I love carrots, raw or cooked.  I’m always adding an extra carrot to a dish when I can.

It’s really amazing how easy it is to cook good food.  There’s no excuse not to do it everyday.  Sure, it took a few steps to get to the final product.  But, each step is a piece of cake.  When dicing two carrots constitutes the most hands on time in a recipe, you know you have an easy recipe for the books.

First, prep the rice.  With one large bowl and a plenty of fresh water, wash it.  Then, soak it.   Then, cook it.  1, 2, 3…

It’s as easy as that.

Vegetable Biryani
makes 1 large pot

1 onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3 Tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup long grain rice, washed and soaked
3 cups water
1/2 cup half and half (or substitute milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Wash rice with fresh water in a large bowl at least 3 times.  Or, continue to wash and drain until the water runs clear.  Soak for 20-30 minutes.  Drain.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a dutch oven, sauté diced onion in butter.  Add carrots, garlic and spices.  Stir.  Then, add water, milk, and salt.  Stir gently and bring to a boil.  Cover.  Place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Stir after 10 minutes.  Cover, place dutch oven back into the oven and continue to cook at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.  (The rice is very tender at 25 minutes.  Next time, I’ll take the rice out at 22 minutes.)

For a quick and easy lunch, top with an egg fried over easy.  Serve with grilled chicken or meat.

Chocolate Snack Cake With Dark Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Snack Cake With Dark Chocolate Ganache

Double chocolate-y glossy goodness…

This chocolate snack cake is tender, but quite dense.  It’s a bit of a cross between a dense cake and a cake-y brownie.  With a rich cake like this, a small square or wedge works nicely as a treat to happily satisfy you.

Do you like to end a meal with a little sweet treat?  I do!  One little square will satisfies my dessert craving after dinner.  On days when I crave a bit more, I just add a big mug of coffee.  This helps me to linger over my little treat.  By the time I finish my mug of coffee, my craving for sweets has been satisfied.

For a more brownie-like cake, add a scoop of dark chocolate chips, or chopped pecans (or nut of your choice), or dried berries, or even raisins.

Chocolate Snack Cake With Dark Chocolate Ganache
makes 1 – 8×8 inch baking dish

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup natural baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup half and half, (milk, or buttermilk)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark chocolate chips, or nuts… or nuts and raisins, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Cream butter, vanilla, egg, and sugar.  Add flour mixture to creamed mixture.  And, add half and half.  Beat to combine.  Stir in chocolate chips, if you like.  Pour into well-buttered 8×8 inch baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 min in 8×8 inch baking dish.  Let warm for about 20 minutes before making the glaze.

Chocolate Ganache-y Glaze
makes glaze for 1 – 8×8 inch baking dish

1 cup 80% dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon butter
splash of cream or half and half (less than 1/4 cup)

Melt chocolate chips.  Stir.  Add a splash of warm cream.  Stir and add a small squares of butter.  Stir until glossy.  Glaze cake immediately.

Po Folks Inspired Black Eyed Peas

Fried Chicken, Mac & Cheese…

…and black eyed peas

…and hush puppies

Fried chicken, Turnip Greens…

…and fried okra

This spread of Southern comfort foods inspired a search for a recipe for Southern style black eyed peas.  This is my version of the dish.  I’m rather happy with it.  Though, I’m sure as time goes by, I’ll make a change here and there.  Next time, I might add a little more black pepper.  And, I might add a diced red sweet pepper or a couple finely diced red jalapeños.  These black eyed peas can take the heat.

Before the chill leaves the air, it’s time to fill up on some warm comfort.

Black Eyed Peas
makes 1 big pot

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, washed and soaked
1/4 lb bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, diced
3 Tablespoons butter
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to finish
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon red pepper pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 cups pork stock (or beef stock)
2 cups water, or as needed
1 bay leaf
1/4 -1/2 lb ham, or smoked pork, cut into cubes

hot pepper vinegar, serving condiment
black pepper, freshly ground, to top

Wash black eyed peas.  Soak in big pot of fresh water overnight.  Drain in the morning.  And, continue soaking until cooking time.  Drain.  Fill pot with fresh water.  Bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat and let sit until cool.  Drain.

When ready to start your meal prep.  In a large dutch oven, melt butter.  Sauté bacon and onion until light golden at the edges.  Add garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper, onion powder, stock, black eyed peas, and 2 cups fresh water.  Bring to a boil.  Stir as needed.  After a few minutes, reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring as needed.  Add ham, smoked pork and/or water, if needed.  Continue simmering for 20 minutes.  Taste.  Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.  Keep warm and gently simmer until ready to serve.  Serve in small bowls with a splash of hot pepper vinegar and a grind or two of black pepper.

Serve with fresh baked biscuits.

For breakfast, a little bowl of these black eyed peas would be great topped with a fried egg.  And, serve with buttered toast.

Inspired by Po Folks Marianna, FL

The Bronx

The Bronx

Right off the bat…

If you aren’t into old fashioned cocktails, you probably won’t like this one.  It has a very old fashioned… 30s to 40s and probably into the 50s old fashioned vibe to it.  This might be a fitting cocktail to set the mood for us to watch Mad Men some day.

Put another way, I’d say this is a Manhattan’s less sexy, misfit brother.  Always trying too hard to fight for your attention, it throws flavors at you hoping something will stick.  But, instead, it just annoys you with cloying flavors that fight for attention.

We’re not fans.

It’s just too many busy flavors and too much sweetness in one glass.  But, if you’re interested in a taste, an orange twist should be added as the traditional garnish.

We probably won’t be making this again.  But, it was interesting to try.


Ok, we might try it one more time… adding only one vermouth.

Sweet & Savory Carrot Salad

With what I thought was a bare pantry, I whipped up this quick and easy salad in about 5 minutes.  Eaten immediately, it was perfect.  After a few hours, as expected, a touch of the crunch disappears.  But, it was still crispy enough to enjoy for days.  Pink Lady apples worked very well here.  They were a very crisp, tart (maybe even slightly under ripe Pink Lady…. I love them that way) apple that maintained its white flesh for a couple days after being tossed with lemon juice and a splash of vinegar.  By the third day, the carrots and pistachios were a bit soft.

A small bowl of this salad was hearty enough to make a light meal or a very satisfying snack that will tide you over for at least 3 hours.  Add half of a sandwich and this would make a great lunch or dinner.

Sweet & Savory Carrot Salad
makes 1 big bowl

4-5 carrots, cut into pieces
2 apples, cut into a rough dice, seeds removed
1/2 cup date pieces
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup pistachios, roasted
juice of one lemon
splash of rice wine vinegar
splash of olive oil, light and fruity type

In a food processor, pulse  carrots to a fine chop.  Pour into large mixing bowl.  Add diced apples with the skins on.  Juice lemon (seeds removed) over bowl.  Toss immediately with lemon juice.  Then, add vinegar, date pieces, currants, and pistachios.  Toss briefly.  Serve immediately.

Pimento Cheese — Super Bowl 2016

Seriously, this was the best pimento cheese I’ve ever made.  It’s all about finding the best cheddar.  Or, more accurately, it’s about finding the cheddar that you consider to taste the best… to you.  For us, the 5 year organic sharp white cheddar (From Your Dekalb Farmers Market) was the secret to the success of this pimento cheese.  The depth of flavor was just out of this world.  And, it’s so rich and satisfying that you’re happy to stop after a cracker or two.  Though, it wouldn’t be a terrible crime to eat just a little bit more than that.  But, if you eat more than 4 crackers, you’ve turned this into a meal.

Tip to myself for next time:  Quarter cherry peppers and wait to add the cherry pepper pieces until the other ingredients are pulsed a few times for larger chunks of pepper.

Top one or both bowls with red pepper flakes.

Pimento Cheese
makes 2 small crocks

1 lb – 5 Year Organic White Cheddar (YDFM)
1/2 lb Extra Sharp Wisconsin Yellow Cheddar (YDFM)
8 ounces cream cheese
5-6 spicy red cherry pepper, pickled (Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup spicy pepper liquid
2 heaping Tablespoons mayo
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

red pepper flakes, to sprinkle on top as a garnish

Combine all in a food processor.  Pulse until smooth and slightly chunky.

Serve with crackers, lightly salted blue tortilla chips, toast triangles, carrots, and celery sticks.

As always, pimento cheese is even better the next day.  So, be sure to save one of your bowls for future snacking.