Buy Me a Coffee

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/kittiescatu

Monday, July 11, 2022

One of Phil's favorite pieces of music

 Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, J.S. Bach


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEHGxpRoZQM


Amazing music. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

just to make the bots happy

UPDATE: They finally paid me, but it was like pulling teeth. 

In addition, their fees are much higher than PayPal or GoFundMe.


 please do not click this link until I get my first payout, which will prove that they are not a scam


https://www.buymeacoffee.com/kittiescatu


  ~~~ 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Buy Me a Coffee

 I signed up for an account at Buy Me a Coffee, and two of my friends have already sent donations. However, the site seems to have some kind of problem with sending my money to me. I have jumped through many hoops, and waited more than two weeks so far,  and I have not received any of my money. They don't even tell me what the problem is. They just keep asking me to wait. I could die of old age before I get my money. 

I will not post my link here until and unless they solve whatever their problem is and send me my money. 

  ~~~ 





Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Being the Ricardos, review

I just watched Being the Ricardos on Netflix. It brought back some memories, and it wasn't all bad. However, I want my two hours back. I've watched "I Love Lucy" many times, even when it first ran in the 1950s, so I get the premise. However, the show jumped around in time so often, and so abruptly, that it's just plain confusing. I never know whether it's 1960 or 1950. Moreover, I just couldn't get to a place where I identified with or cared about the characters, even though I already know quite a bit of the background that is not covered in the movie. I could forgive the two-hour run time, if it bothered to develop the characters. Even Lucy herself comes across as flat. These were real people, and they got short shrift in the movie.

Sorry folks, thumbs down. 


Thursday, December 30, 2021

Sweet & Sour Sauce, Hawaiian style

 

Sweet & Sour Sauce, Hawaiian style


Sweet & sour sauce is easy to make, and you can adjust the flavors to your taste. I do not add sugar to my sauce because I think it tastes sweet enough without sugar. I can’t give you amounts for the ingredients because that depends upon how much sauce you are making and what flavors you like. Consider this more of a guide than a recipe, and make your sauce the way you like it.


Remember, this is your sauce, and you will be eating it, so you decide if you want to make substitutions. You could, for example, leave out the celery or the onions. I recommend using both, but this is your sauce, so make it your own. You could use shallots instead of onions, or you could use broccoli stalks instead of celery. You could even use both celery and broccoli stalks. The broccoli florets would not work because they have a texture that you don’t want in this sauce.


Keep tasting the sauce as you develop the flavors, and make sure that you like it.


Ingredients:


  • Chopped onion (I like the sweet white onions, but you could use any onion or shallots)

  • Chopped celery (chop to about the same size as the onion, up to one inch if you like chewing on some chewy ingredients, smaller if you want a very smooth sauce)

  • Chopped broccoli stalks (optional)

  • Cooking oil (I like to use grape seed oil because it does not change the flavor and it can be used on high heat, but use whatever you like, but not butter, since butter tends to burn.)

  • Canned pineapple chunks (in their own juice, not sugary syrup)

  • Canned or fresh pineapple juice (optional, needed for larger batches)

  • Peach jam or apricot jam or apricot/peach jam (for orange sauce, used orange marmalade instead)

  • Canned water chestnuts (optional, to add crunch if desired)

  • Maraschino cherries (optional)

  • Soy sauce

  • Worcestershire sauce (contains anchovies; for vegetarians, you can use soy sauce with a little ginger as a substitute, or there are vegan sauces available)

  • Lemon juice

  • Corn starch (if needed to thicken the sauce; mix with an equal amount of water before adding to the sauce)

  • Red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce

  • Salt



Method:


You can make this sauce in a frying pan, but I tend to over stir and make a mess all over the stove top, so I use a deep saucepan. I start by cooking the onions and celery in a little oil, in a frying pan, and then I transfer them into a sauce pan. Sometimes I don’t want to wash two pans, so I fry the onions in the sauce pan.


Put the frying pan over medium heat. It is hot enough when a drop of water fizzes right away. I usually get my hand wet and shake the water onto the surface of the frying pan to test the temperature. Pour in two or three tablespoons of oil and tilt the pan to spread it around. Add the onions and stir them gently and constantly. You want the onions to turn a little transparent. Then add the celery and continue stirring. These vegetables are going to be boiled in the sauce, so you don’t need them fully cooked. You are simply getting them hot on the outside, not browned but somewhat firm. Add a few red pepper flakes or a dash of your favorite hot sauce and stir well. You are looking for a little bite, a bit of lift to the flavor, but if you like really hot sauces, such as Thai sauces, go for it.


Transfer the onions and celery to a deep sauce pan and place the pan over medium heat. Add jam and stir to mix it well with the vegetables. Pour in all of the juice from the canned pineapple and keep stirring gently. If you are making a large batch, from a pint to a quart, you will need about 8 ounces of jam, and then you will need to thin the sauce with additional pineapple juice.


At this point, you need to start tasting. Dip a spoon into the sauce, and let the sauce run off while you lift out the spoon. When it cools enough to taste without burning you mouth, taste it. Do this every time you add another flavor to the sauce. Add the sauces in small amounts. You can always addmore, but you can’t take it out.


Add soy sauce, stir, then taste. Add Worcestershire sauce, stir, then taste. Add lemon juice, stir, then taste. If the sauce seems to need salt, add it now. Remember, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce are already salty, so you might not need to add any salt. That is a good reason to taste the sauce first.


Add the pineapple chunks and stir them in. Drain the water chestnuts and add them now, if desired. Stir the sauce until the water chestnuts are mixed in and covered with sauce. Add a little pineapple juice if desired. You need to taste the sauce to see if you like the flavor, and you might want to add more pineapple juice and taste it again. If your sauce seems too thin, add a little of the corn starch that you mixed with water, and stir it into the sauce. Add a little at a time, stir it in and wait to see how the sauce thickens. If your sauce seems too thick, add more lemon juice or pineapple juice to thin it. Another option is to add the liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries. Keep tasting as you add more juice.


Turn off the heat and wait about ten minutes before dusing a ladle to pour the sauce over your favorite entrée. Top with maraschino cherries if desired.


Enjoy!


~~~




Thursday, October 21, 2021

How I made soup from scratch (vegetable beef)

 I am one of the most kitchen challenged people you will ever meet, but I'm making some progress. Some of my dishes are edible, and some are actually delicious. My kitchen, which used to frighten me more than facing a bear in the forest, has become a place of fun and adventure, something like a child's chemistry set. Not only did I like the soup that I made, but my test subject, who is still my friend, pronounced it delicious. Let me tell you about my latest kitchen adventure. 

After watching cooking videos, which I love to do, I came up with this recipe of sorts. It works best if you start the soup at least 12 hours before you plan to eat it. I started my soup around 6 P.M., cooked it for about three hours, then put it in the fridge overnight and put it in the crock pot the next morning. It cooked all day, and when it was done, the meat fell off of the bone.  

First let's talk about mise en place, a fancy French phrase that means to get everything together before you start cooking. I find the little ramekins (small pudding cups) very handy for holding ingredients on the ready. The amounts of the ingredients will vary, depending upon how much soup you want to make. I made about a quart of soup. If you have a crock pot or slow cooker, have it clean, super clean, and ready to use. You will want all your tools and ingredients ready and within easy reach of your stovetop. You will need a good knife (I used a chef's knife), tongs, a big spoon for stirring the pot, a ladle for serving the soup. a spatula, a frying pan and a soup pot. Also have a variety of small bowls, and a dinner plate or large bowl to hold the meat after you brown it.   

Start by chopping an onion. Also chop celery and carrots if you have them. Place the chopped onion in a small bowl, and place the chopped celery and carrots in a separate bowl. If you have a garlic bulb, pull off one clove (two cloves if you really love garlic) and peel off all the "paper" outside. Cut the clove into two or three pieces and place them in a small bowl. If you don't have fresh garlic, get a jar of garlic powder and place about half a teaspoon of the garlic powder in a small bowl (a whole teaspoon if you really love garlic). Garlic salt is okay, but keep that in mind that you are adding more salt to the soup. You do not want the garlic to take over the soup. You want to be able to taste the meat and vegetables, as well as the broth. If you are making a huge pot of soup (I made about a quart), then you could double the amount of garlic for three or four quarts of soup. 

Also have a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, a small can (about 4 to 6 ounces) of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, and any vegetables that you want to add to your soup. (You can use ketchup instead of tomato sauce.) I like to use frozen peas and frozen green beans. Sometimes I also use frozen corn. If all you have is canned vegetables, strain out the liquid before you add them to the soup. 

Chicken stock. I bought chicken stock at the grocery store. Beef stock was available, but it often has a funny flavor or aftertaste, so I use chicken stock. 

Salt and black pepper should go without saying, but there I said it. I've found that freshly ground black pepper is 10 times better than the stuff in the shaker can. If you want a little heat in your soup, use dried red pepper flakes, or chop the fresh chili peppers of your choice. I used about half a teaspoon of red chili flakes. 

You will need some cooking oil. I often prefer grapeseed oil because it doesn't smoke and burn when I cook on high heat, and it doesn't add any noticeable flavor to the food. However, I prefer corn oil for this dish because it adds a sort of sweet background note to the dish. You don't taste the corn oil specifically, but it does make a difference in the flavor of the soup. 

Also have a stick of butter handy. You can use margarine if you wish, but I prefer the real thing. 

Remember, the beef is the star of the show. I used oxtail, which is a piece of the tail. It's shaped like a hockey puck, that is a disk, with the bone in the center and the meat in a circle around the bone. Oxtail has some fat, but that's okay. You can cut out the fat if you wish, bur I don't bother. You can use any kind of beef that you want, but I like to get a cut that has the bone in it to make the broth richer and more nutritious. Short ribs are a good choice. Sirloin tips also work very well in soup, although they don't have any bone in them. 

Ingredients: 

Beef 

Chicken stock

Onion

Garlic

Vegetables of your choice 

Worcestershire sauce 

Salt and black pepper 

Chili flakes or fresh chili pepper (optional) 

Butter and cooking oil 

Mushrooms (optional) 

Tools: 

Soup pot

Frying pan 

Good knife 

Spatula

Tongs 

Large spoon for stirring the pot 

Ladle for serving the soup 

Directions: 

Generously coat both sides of the beef with salt and pepper. You should let it sit for half an hour, but this step can be skipped.

Put your frying pan on medium heat. When the pan is hot, add about a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Swirl it around so the oil covers the whole bottom of the pan. You might need to add a little more oil, but don't overdo it. Set the pan back on the burner. Sear the beef (brown it) for two or three minutes on each side. Depending on the type and shape of the beef, use tongs and/or a spatula to turn it over in the frying pan. Put the meat aside on a clean plate or in a clean bowl. 

You are not cooking the meat at this point. You are simply browning it to caramelize the surface for added flavor.  

Now place the soup pot on the burner with low heat. when the pan is warm, add about two tablespoons of cooking oil and a couple pats of butter. When the butter is melted, toss in the chopped onion. You want to sweat the onion on low heat until it becomes translucent. You can even let the onion brown a little bit, but don't let it burn and turn black. Burnt onion does not taste good, in my opinion. Stir the onions occasionally to prevent burning and get them all cooked evenly. When they start to look a little see-through, toss in the carrots and celery if you have them. After a minute or so, add the chopped mushrooms if you are using them. I did not use mushrooms because I didn't have any. Stir the pot, and if you think it isn't cooking fast enough, you can turn up the heat a tiny bit. Do NOT use high heat. You want the carrots and celery to soften, and you want the water to steam out of the mushrooms. Then you can add the garlic. When you can smell the fragrance of the garlic, add the chicken broth. You want to stop the garlic from browning and turning bitter. It will be okay to let it simmer in the broth for as long as it takes.  

Add your vegetables and stir the pot to get all those ingredients mixed. 

Add your spices and sauces to taste. 

At this point, you can continue cooking on the stovetop or pour the soup (carefully, it's hot!) into your crock pot or slow cooker. I keep it in the pot at this point because I plan to let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. 

Carefully place the meat on top of everything. You do not want the meat to sink down into the vegetables at this point. If there is not enough liquid to cover the  meat, you can add more stock if you have it, or you can use water. Have just enough liquid to cover the meat, and no more than that. You can always thin the soup after it's cooked, if you want a thinner broth. 

Cover the pot and simmer on very low heat for at least three hours. If it's bedtime, it's best to put the soup in a sealed container (not the soup pot) in the refrigerator overnight. You can cook it again the next day. In fact, I find that the meat is more tender and the flavor is improved when I let the soup rest overnight and then cook it for several hours in the crock pot the next day. 

Enjoy! 


   ~~~   












Monday, July 19, 2021

Editing is as important as writing

Please compare the first version of my opening paragraph with the second. I got some feedback from another writer, and then I revised it. Editing does not have to wait until the story is finished. Writing is a process, and editing is a process. 

FIRST VERSION:

It jumped on her again. Rachel screamed, but only a hiss issued from her throat. The shadow pinned her legs under its knees while she flailed at it with her arms. She could see, even though her eyes were shut, the shadow, like a black nylon stocking filled with smoke and twisted into the shape of a man like a balloon that a clown might form into the shape of a poodle. It took hold of her arms and pinned them to her chest, pushing the breath out of her lungs.

EDITED VERSION: 

As Rachel lay half awake in the early morning, the shadow jumped on her again. She screamed, but only a hiss issued from her throat. The shadow pinned her legs under its knees while she flailed at it with her arms, yet her physical arms did not move. She realized that her energy body was fighting the demon, while her flesh lay paralyzed. This must be a dream,s he thought, a nightmare. She could see, even though her eyes were shut, the dark form like a black nylon stocking filled with smoke and twisted into the shape of a man. It reminded her of a balloon that a clown might form into the shape of a poodle. It took hold of her arms and pinned them to her chest, pushing the breath out of her lungs.

~~~ 


One of Phil's favorite pieces of music

 Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, J.S. Bach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEHGxpRoZQM Amazing music.