A strong cup of coffee

Last year, I had ordered a French press and a nice burr hand grinder. Made a dandy cup of coffee, but I found that typically, it took too long to grind up a few cups worth of beans. So, sadly, it hasn’t seen much use lately.

Well, given my recent temptations to either buy an espresso machine or a new Keurig, I decided to try investing in an experiment. See, the problem with the hand crank is after a few minutes of dire need for coffee it’s exhausting, lol. The problem with an electric of course is defined in dollars.

In looking for a decent grinder that doesn’t cost too much to dub an experiment, and carefully avoiding several espresso machines, I came across a Shardor based grinder that was both cheap enough to at least call an expensive experiment at about $40, plus on sale for about 40% off (~$24) making it about as cheap as any coffee grinder with a motor in it. It’s even a Burr based model and small enough for an afternoon or weekend supply of coffee. While it arrived yesterday, I’ve been too busy and frankly, after dark isn’t a great time for a cup of cafinated joy.

This morning, I basically had to skip food and drink for other errands. Needless to say, I was pretty ready to try out the new grinder.  About 8 spoonfuls of beans and about 800 ml later, I have me some pretty good coffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Damn, that’s a nice cup of coffee!

On one hand it was a little early for lunch. On the other hand, I’ve basically been physically active since I woke up at 0730’ish. So, I’m going with a notion from one of my favorite visual novels, that having expanded a lot of calories and having no good reason to wait: you naturally eat lunch, early.

Which also makes me realize that I haven’t had any coffee yet. Therefore, it’s time to make coffee while I update my journal ;).

Because I’m weird, I like pickles on the side. Because I’ll eat at least half the bag otherwise, I’m smart enough to put chips on the side too. And who needs a few bits of tomato leftover just because you were one piece of ham shy of another wrap.

Think I’ve found a pattern that works really well for me in terms of making a sandwich wrap. These are made by:

  • One slice of American cheese
    • Broken into smaller strips and lined up so that it’s smaller than half a slice deep.
    • Starting about 1 centimeter below the edge of the tortilla.
  • Three slices of salami
    • Simply, a thin layer of cold drier cold cuts.
    • These are nice sandwich sized and thin sliced, so it takes that many to fill a layer.
  • Enough leafy greens to fit between my fingers and palm.
    • I’m more inclined towards greens like arugula, spinach, chard, etc.
    • Thinly layered.
  • A swing of sauce.
    • In this case, ranch dressing.
    • Often, I’ll use horse radish sauce, or whatever salad dressing I’m in the mood for.
  • A few chunks of tomato.
    • Romas are easily chopped into chunks a bit larger than a fingernail in length and three or four tossed in the middle.
    • Adds more crunch and variety to my diet.
    • Which works because I don’t like to eat a tomato, but I do like tomato in stuff.
  • One slice of hot honey ham
    • Simply, a second layer of cold cuts to help hold it together.
  • One slice of Cheddar cheese.
    • Broken into strips and positioned similarly.
    • I like two kinds of cheese for flavor and tend to shop that way to compensate for the odds that one will become midnight snacking instead of sandwich fixings.
  • Roll the burrito sized tortilla up, press to help keep it shut, and optionally slice in half.
I’ve been following variations on this pattern for a while and like how this turns out. Putting the cheese on the outside seems to help bind it together, as the softer cheeses will melt relatively quickly. Putting the cold cuts between the cheese and the watery bits seems to keep it tidy and less likely to spew out.
For me, I find that bread often goes bad before I can work through a loaf unless I go on quite the sandwich kick. Wrapping up a tortilla on the other hand, is at least no less healthy than my taste in breads, and easily tossed in a refrigerator bin with the cold cuts and cheeses.

From a healthier prospect, I should probably have skipped one of these halves. Not sure if it’s due to this morning’s exercise or the more sating approach to filling a sandwich wrap, but I found this to be quite a lunch. In either case, Misty would have been happy to eat the other half!

For a while now, I’ve meant to get a thing of Altoids. Both because of all the cool projects I’ve encountered over the years that would fit in one and wondering what they taste like. Not bad actually.

That said, I found it curious that the curiously strong mints can be smelled through the cellophane wrapped tin, lol.

Taking Greek inspiration for lunch, I’m reminded of one of the things I love about living in the US: the food! I remember a German friend describing our approach to eating as a giant “Salad bowl” because you can find a little bit of everything in America.

Being a nation made up of immigrants, people of course brought their tastes in cooking along. It’s like if there is anything we can all gather around and enjoy together: it’s food. Different families may have different preferences in baking bread, but it’s still in breaking bread together that we find joy.

In terms of cuisine, traditionally “American food” is not that different from western European countries. In fact, I’m pretty sure a Frenchman just rolled over in his grave somewhere at that very thought :^o). The subtleties of cooking in such countries are often lost upon us, IMHO. Which makes sense given that so many early colonists came from Europe, and the concepts of cooking came along with them and then mingled together and became adapted to what the home cooks had to work with. The same is often true of other island nations and former territories.

As time moved on more and more delicious food has become common. I find it somewhat amusing that whenever people here are on the search for food, it often is discussed in terms of a type of food (e.g., sandwiches; fried chicken; etc), or in terms of ethnicity (e.g., Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai) that best describes what they are in the mood for. In my area: there’s a particularly broad range of food to choose from. We always end up adapting what we cook to what is available to work with, but what form it takes is always shaped by some point of reference.

Growing up, I was fortunate that ma went with a broad range of food. My mother’s cooking was heavily influenced both by our shared ancestry and the people we knew. My mother learned to cook from her grandmother, who didn’t even speak English. Obviously, Italian food was a big thing to them — as a child, arguably the pallet of her parents and grandparents were the biggest influences. That had both positive and negatives for my mom, such as the war between her and her mother about the definition of gravy and the occasional horrors of her family eating whatever her grandfather brought home. At the same time, she also loved dinner with friends and neighbors. That could be mean anything, and as a side effect my mother’s pallet was far broader than our ancestors. I in turn, benefited from this very much, lol.

It’s also kind of funny that often the best home cooks are named grandma, in whatever language the terms of endearment may take.

Note to self: I should definitely make ma’s spinach lasagna when the holiday season comes around.

Signs of comfortable goony birds with fur,

Coincidentally when it came time for dinner, I was both lazy and glared at.

Willow’s give me a treat face.

It’s probably not a big surprise that I made pasta for dinner, and Willow was inclined to be a hungry helper hoping for a piece of rotini to hit the fooor.

Likewise fooooood


“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken.” — Julia Child

While scrolling through an article on French recipes, I saw this quote and nearly snortled so hard through my nose that I needed a Kleenex. Have no recollection of Julia ever saying that, but I can’t say that I’d be surprised. It does also sound like a rather good idea 🤣.

One of those things I just don’t do, is making macaroni salad. And really any kind of salad like that. As a food it’s the kind of thing that tends to be insanely delicious or really nasty, and many times it’s both if you eat enough in one sitting. Thus they tend to be something I’ll  eat where offered or pick up from the deli isle.

When I made a large batch of tricolor rotini, I figured that some pasta salad would be a plan. Boiled the potato leftover from making curry, diced a carrot, and boiled them until soft. Left those cooling while I walked the hounds. Finely chopped some sweet peppers to go with the macaroni and some leftover garbanzos.

Making the sauce as a mixture of ranch, black pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning definitely worked out well. It was delicious 🤤.

Lately I’ve had a mind to try making curry rice with fish. Since Good Friday is basically the only day I intentionally don’t eat meat, I figured it would probably be a good plan for the holiday weekend.

Made a trip to Sprouts Farmer’s market this morning to pick up some vegetables, and I owe that decision for how delicious this turned out. The fresh potatoes, carrots, onion, and bell pepper made the best curry I’ve had in a long time. Made the fish similar to my usual method; kept the garlic powder, salt, and black pepper; used a light spritz of curry powder and some thyme rather than adding soy sauce to the braising water. Ended up making the tilapia a bit dry compared to normal, which in retrospect was perfect for going with the curry rice.

After packing some leftovers and a lunch box, I used some of the excess rice and a bit of tilapia filet to make a couple onigiri while I was at it.

 Kind of disappointed the camera didn’t catch Willow’s tongue sticking out, lol.