This post is just an experiment. If you are reading it, the experiment produced encouraging results. The idea is that I am sitting down with nothing on my mind, nothing to pore over, nothing important to share. The Ukraine thread is ongoing under “Wag the Dog,” and they are keeping it lively.
We have been inundated with snow lately, which gives me lots of time to fill. We have a 330 (is that a 33 I see?) foot driveway, and I have a 26 inch snow thrower (Is that an 8?). It’s a very good machine. However, whenever I need expert advice, I know of only one expert I can trust. His name is Chainsaw Bob. He is off-putting to many people, but I like him. As I told one of our neighbors the other day, Bob looks like an aging hippie and a drunk. But he does not drink. He may be the former, as he does have shoulder-length hair and a beard. However, I like to think of him as merely counter-cultural. I like that in a person.
Some years back after we had lived here long enough that I had worn out a chainsaw, I took it to him to see if it could be salvaged. He was carrying on a conversation with another man as I stood there, and I watched him disassemble the chainsaw operating only on muscle memory. He had it down to its component parts in perhaps 30 seconds. He then delivered the news – it’s used up. Get a new one.
One time as I was buying recycled chains for my saw, we had light conversation, and as I left he pointed to a sign above his desk. It said “There are two types of people: Those who make you happy when they arrive, and those who make you happy when they leave.” I chuckled, and he said “You’re the first type.” That made my day, which is why I remember it.
Bob knows something I know as well, the joy of self-employment, of answering to no one but customers, having no “boss.” Americans are the most over-supervised people on the planet. Everyone has at least one boss, and they think it natural! Bob is not a perfect human being. Don’t go near him if he is eating fried chicken. You’ll get splattered. And that carpenter’s smile … sometimes half of his ass crack is exposed as he leans down to inspect something. But that is, again, the joy of self-employment. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t have to care.
I have wanted to do this for many months now, and finally sprang a couple of weeks ago for an Instant Pot. I am surely behind the times, and don’t have to explain its function to anyone, but it takes the place of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté pan and food warmer. We don’t eat rice and won’t be making yogurt, but the rest is appealing.
My first task was to come up with a recipe book that was both for Instant Pot and Keto. They are available online, but the standard complaint about them was that they were self-published, overpriced, and not all that original. So I went to Barnes and Noble, and after maybe half an hour of going through the very large cookbook section, found the Essential Ketogenic Diet Pressure Cooking, by Jane Downes. I spent time going through the recipes in detail, and flagged twenty of them to try.
So far I am one for three for entrees, that is, three attempts and one success, beef stew. It’s the best I’ve ever had, and done without carrots or potatoes. I also tried three meat chili (ground beef, Italian sausage and bacon). Because it is Keto, there are no beans. The recipe called for the ingredients to be tossed in the cooker uncooked (except the bacon). I found the result too greasy but very flavorful, so next time I will brown the beef and sausage in advance. The other was Italian meatloaf, and while it too was tasty, like all meatloaf, it quickly goes dry. The only meat loaf I have had that does not dry out is from Ted’s Montana Grill, made from bison. [This is the beef recipe, but bison would work too.] We got hold of the recipe, and found out why: It is loaded with carbs. It’s fabulous for a meal out, but not for regular consumption, that is, if you are Ketohead.
I’ve also cooked up bone broth, green beans, broccoli, yams, bratwurst, and asparagus. For the beans and asparagus, my wife suggested I take sliced almonds and saute them in butter, added later and not while pressure cooking. I added that and lemon to the asparagus. It was excellent. I used the Instant Pot to brown the bratwurst, and then cooked under pressure for the recommended time. Since we live at 8,000 feet, the cookbook says to increase the time by 5% for every thousand feet above 2,000 feet, and I did. But as the recipe called for eight minutes, I added three. It was still not enough, so in the future will be fifteen minutes. It is a real time saver.
By the way, for the beans, asparagus, and broccoli, the cooking time is either zero or one minute. It takes maybe ten minutes to get up to pressure, and by that time they are done. Also, many people use Instant Pots with air cooking features, which would make excellent French fries. In Ketoland, that’s a no-no.
If you have not yet and are thinking about an Instant Pot, our experience has been highly positive.
I’ll allow the burn
I found myself watching Arrested Development this past week or so. It is some of the best comedy around, in my opinion The cast member that I find most entertaining (they are all good) is David Cross. The dialogue for him is hilarious, as his character is a suppressed gay. His ordinary sentences are unknowingly loaded with homosexual content. He spent an inordinate amount of time completely covered in blue … what I don’t know. He’s a psychologist but aspires to be an actor, and wants to join a blue group. He never quite makes it.
Another cast member who makes the show come alive is Ron Howard, the narrator for the Netflix seasons, and playing himself as a movie producer. He’s still got that touch, whatever it was in Happy Days. He’s a natural on screen. Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) visited him in his offices, Imagine Entertainment, and walking around were little boys with fishing poles with bobbers attached. Apparently he was recasting Opie on the Andy Griffith remake. As a visual gag, it was perfect.
Two of the characters are named Lucille (Bluth, played by Jessica Walters, who died one year ago) and Lucille Austero (Liza Minelli). There is a court setting towards the end of the last season, and Lucille 2 (Minelli) has gone missing. In her opening remarks the prosecuting attorney lavishes praise on the missing Lucille. Gob (pronounced jobe) is sitting next to his mother, Lucille 1, and pipes up that the Lucille he knows is nothing like that, in fact is a horrible person. The prosecution objects, and Gob apologizes, saying he mixed up his Lucille’s, and that the burn was intended for his mother, and not Lucille 2. The judge thinks about it, and says “I’ll allow the burn.”
That’s the kind of writing that made this series so very good. Of course, they cannot let some things go by. One scene has Ron Howard in the moon lander from Apollo 13, and he confides in Michael Bluth that yes, indeed, Apollo 11 was a hoax, but that Apollo 12 did go to the moon. In another scene, we meet Howard’s father, who is a crazy loon. Michael again is talking to him as Ron enters, and says not to get him going on climate change. “HOAX!” yells the old man. You see, only a crazy person would doubt it is real.
Those small transgressions aside. Arrested Development is some of the best and most original comedy I have seen.
Having sat down with nothing on my mind, I hope this is at least flowing and somewhat interesting. Since I am going to publish it, I guess I think I succeeded in making something out of nothing.