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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Red Lobster Biscuits: NAILED IT!

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits are heavenly.   People have been looking for the recipe for a long time and as the Red Lobster web site says......the recipe is a secret.

Sure....they tantalize with some tips  "we will share a couple of well-kept secrets for making our much-loved biscuit: do not over knead the dough and make sure you use baking soda as one of the ingredients."

There are a lot of recipes out there that try to emulate the product.  Most use Bisquick or some version of that type of biscuit.  But.....they are wrong.

Reverse engineering the product, I realized that one of the main ingredients was missing from all of these recipes and that Red Lobster has been lying to us for years.  I don't blame them.....the biscuits are to die for.   What is the missing ingredient?   YEAST.  The texture of the rolls shows that they are clearly yeast raised, yet they do have the properties of baking soda and baking powder raised rolls.

What type of rolls have these characteristics......Angel Biscuits....So I went back to one of my old cookbooks and brought out a recipe and tweaked. Messing around in the kitchen, doing what I like to do.....cook.  I have nailed it.  

Here is now revealed the super secret recipe for Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Dust Bunny Queen...posted on my Recipe Junkie website.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

War Horse: A Movie I Wll NEVER See.

Spielberg is out with this movie War Horse. I'm sure that as the trailer says, it will make us laugh and cry. Probably mostly cry. Geeze. I'm an easy mark for a tear jerker movie, especially one with animals.

The main reason I can't watch this movie is from my family history. My Grandfather was a veterinarian and in WWI for the US Calvary, he went to the Hell on Earth that was the European battle fields. His task was to try to take care of the horses. Horrible!! The horses suffered incredibly. The men who took care of the horses, like my Grandfather, who cared for the animals suffered, because they were overwhelmed, pained  and changed by the slaughter house and meat grinder that the animals AND humans were thrust into.

Unlike men who can be deluded into participating in war; animals have no concepts of patriotism or really much interest in politics.  The fear and terror that they must have experienced is unimaginable.  The betrayal of the trust that they put into humans.  The pain and suffering.

I understand that the use of horses at the time of WWI was necessary. The military was in a transition from human and horse power to the more mechanized and impersonal wars that we have now.  Heroic horse calvary charges were standard.  Here is good short film about the reality of WWI War Horses.

So, while Steven Spielberg will have made a movie that will move us to tears and laughter, the ending will probably be sweet.  Boy and horse reunited.  Stirring motivational music.  Uplifting heroism.

I just can't bring myself to sit through a whitewashed version of the horrors of WWI to reach the happy ending.  YES. YES.  I know that no real animals were hurt in the movie and the technological effects of the film are likely to be fantastic.

When this is what Spielberg is showing us

When  THIS is the reality

As much as I would love a happy ending. I'm afraid that I'm much too cynical and realistic to see this movie.  Plus.....I think I would need a box of Kleenex to be able to get through the event.

If I'm wrong ....and you can assure me that I won't be sobbing by the end of the movie....give me a review.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving. What am I thankful for?

So much.   So many things to be thankful for in my life.

Life has at times been good, been bad, been indifferent.  Today I am thankful for all of it.

My husband. Our health. Our family. Our friends.  Our house. Our hard won possessions. Our LIFE.

Thankful that we can wake up in the morning in a warm house under cozy blankets to a hot pot of coffee (made the night before).  We can open a refrigerator full of food and choose what to eat.  We have nice warm clean clothes.  How many people in the world today don't have this comfort, this luxury of food and warmth?

Sitting in front of our separate in the office with the french doors open and cat on lap while the Dumbplumber sits on the couch with his feet on the coffee table and laptop on his knees, we have the information of the world at our fingertips.  We share this information and listen to music.  How magical is that?

Thankful for my wonderful husband who keeps me grounded.  We will have been married 18 years in the coming spring and it seems like just yesterday that we met.  Every day we enjoy each other's company and look forward to being together. Lovers and friends. Arguments are rare.  Probably the advantage of age, where we both have learned where to take a stand and which stands are even worth taking.  I'm so thankful for the lucky happenstance that brought us together.  

I'm thankful for the beautiful and scenic nature setting that we live amongst.  Today we took a drive in one of the five trucks(!) we own, while the steaks that we are cooking for Thanksgiving are marinating.  (The traditional Thanksgiving BBQed steaks lol  ...that's another story). This in itself is a luxury.  To be able to drive someplace on a whim.  Around the valley floor and up into the the piney woods.  Back to feed the quail, the finches and set out more suet for the woodpeckers and flickers.  The peace and beauty of being able to sit in a comfy chair by the window sipping a cocktail and watching their antics.

Thankful for our minds and senses of humor. Thankful that neither of us is (knock wood) is suffering from Alzheimer's.  Thankful for our health.  Do we have some health issues. Yep.  Dumbplumber has diabetes, which is controlled and other than the normal aches an pains that come with 60 years of living, we are healthy and active.

Thankful for our families and their health, success, well being and happiness.  We miss those who have gone ahead of us and treasure those who still remain.

We are aware that all of this could disappear in a heartbeat.  A literal heartbeat. One major medical event or accident from disaster.  This fortune that we have, can evaporate through no fault of our own. Through forces beyond our control.  Wars. Famine. Political unrest.

 But...... is wonderful.   Thank you God.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Chemo Hat

My friend, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy and is now in the middle of chemotherapy with radiation therapy yet to look forward to, has lost her hair and eyebrows.   Fortunately, she is a strong personality and has handled all of this with grace and humor.  Her husband is a rock that she can lean on and is a pillar of strength.   As friends, there isn't much you can do to help and you don't want to intrude or tire her out with too many visits or be overly sentimental.  She isn't that kind of person.....and frankly neither am I.  That is probably why we get along and she is one of a very few women in my lifetime that I have counted as  friends.

There are not many things you can do, but there is one thing that I CAN do.  Knit hats.   You lose much of your body heat through your head.   When you have no hair.....the loss is really significant and noticeable.  Not only is your head are freaking bald.   Now, I know that many men are bald and not happy with that situation, but society readily accepts the sight of a bald man.  A cue ball bald woman not so much.   So to be warm and to not appear freakish, women who are going through chemotherapy tend to wear hats during the day as well as night.   Fancy hats.  Frilly cute hats. Warm snugly hats.  Hats with a sense of humor.

Since she is not a frilly person or a person who wears dainty pastels [neither am I], the hats I have been making are bold, sensible, warm and comfortable.   This is a cabled brim hat.  The pattern is from    Man, it is amazing what you can find on the Internet.   For those of you who may be interested in knitting or crochet,  I really suggest you sign up for  It is a huge on line community of people who love to craft, creative and more than willing to share patterns and tips.

Cable Brimmed Hat

They say that after Chemo and Radiation, your hair grows back in differently.  Sometimes it is curly where it was straight before, sometimes it's even darker or a different texture.

So while my friend is waiting for her NEW hair to grow in she has another hat to keep warm.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Jobs, Jobs, Where are the Jobs

As we known unemployment is high.  Very high. The reports say 9% or 14 million people are out of jobs.  Actually, the reports are wrong. It is worse.  The government statistics are manipulated to hide the pain.   In some counties in the North State, State of Jefferson, where I live the UI rate is pushing 20% or higher.  Demographic groups such as young adults and blacks are over 30% unemployed.

Many who were collecting unemployment, or to be more precise being paid not to work, have run out of UI benefits.

Yet, we see productivity reports which show that in the United States productivity has been rising. 

How can this be?  We are more productive, yet there are more people not working.

Well, the answer is simple.  Technology and efficiency.  Manufacturing businesses can make the products with less people.  Who needs a flotilla of secretaries or bookkeepers when you have computer programs to do the work.  Printing shops that employed skilled technicians are replaced by laser printers and desk top publishing programs.   

So where are the jobs?  Just like in the past when the majority of people in the US were employed in agriculture and farming and those industries were made more productive by mechanization, the unemployed people had to migrate to other areas and find NEW kinds of jobs.

They didn't have unemployment insurance to give them months and years of leisure time.  They didn't have the luxury of being able to sit around and whine that their old occupations were no more. They had to find new jobs in other industries.  They had to create new jobs and create new industries.  The industrial age was a time of unprecidented economic expansion and innovation.  The innovations and inventions of those times are the foundation of our society today.

So.....where are the jobs.  The NEW jobs?

First: You need to get the government out of the way so that people can be innovative and entrepreneurial.  Rules, regulations, fees, licenses, fines all set in place to supposedly protect the public are in fact the main impediment to new job creation and are meant to reduce competition by new challengers to current industry and businesses.

Now, I'm not suggesting that we have a free for all in industry or production or businesses.  Safety of food, safety on the job and product quality are important.  You want to know if you buy something to is safe.  You want to know that if you hire a professional to do a job for you, like your Doctor.....they are competent.   If you want to have a builder repair something in your would like to know that they will be able to do the job.  However, we don't need the government in the middle of EVERY transaction.

The rules and regulations need to be sane and encouraging of new businesses.   Cottage food laws in California are (hopefully) in the process of being relaxed.   If we had the restrictive rules and regulations today during the industrial revolution, just think of the food products and giant industries that would not have been developed.  General Mills, Coca Cola...the list is long.

Second:  Instead of wailing that you can't get a job in your old occupation, look for new opportunities.  What do people need?  What would the people who have money and jobs want from you?  What kinds of jobs or services cannot be outsourced to another country or be outsourced to a computer or robot?

Just a short list of services:
  • Babysitting/ Nanny service
  • Home maintenance and repairs
  • Cleaning services
  • Landscaping
  • Plumbing
  • Building and construction
  • Auto repair/maintenance/detailing
  • Computer repair
  • Assistance services for the elderly or disabled
Are these glamorous jobs.  Probably not in everyone's eyes.  Do people need these services.  You bet.  Can you make a decent living and even hire other people to work for you...Heck YEAH.

Third: What kinds of things or products are in need or would be innovative that you can make or produce. What resources do you have in your area? The Cottage Food industry is one possibility.  Hand made goods. Artisanal goods.  Can you manufacture something that would be distinctive, reasonably price and use local talent?    Should you.... can you, team up with others in your area to create new industries and new products?

So instead of wailing that jobs are lost, outsourced or that you can't do what you used to do.....look upon these tough times as an opportunity.  Opportunity to create something new, to learn something new.   Sure, it might require you to sacrifice, to lower your standard of living for a while, to work long hard hours, to maybe move to another area, to get out of your comfort zone.

Society moves on and industry moves on.  To stubbornly stand in one place will just leave you behind as others do take advantage of the new opportunities and move on to new prosperity.

Don't be a loser.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

How Quickly It Turns: the weather I mean

Just a couple of days ago I was able to sit on the deck in the afternoon and sip a glass of wine in the sun in these fabulous Indian Summer Autumn days.  Waiting for the leaves to really begin falling so that we can rake and burn.  Suddenly, the weather has turned into our normal October/November fare.  Cold, windy, rainy and snowing this evening.

Sadly, I think I have missed the optimal rake and burn cycle, yet again on the leaves.  Just like last year we will have mounds of soggy leaves that can't be burned or that will create smudgy pillars of smoke. Ah well, compost material.

When the weather turns, so do my thoughts of cooking turn to warming meals. Long cooking stews, soups and casseroles.  So, while The Dumbplumber is napping after being out in the cold all day long; winterizing homes so they won't have broken pipes next spring,  I'm making Clam Chowder (check out the recipe on my Recipe Junkie blog) and will try to finish the next Chemo hat that I'm knitting for my friend.

I think that I'm really getting the hang of this retirement stuff.