Marie Callender's chicken pie

This is very good, hits the spot, perfect for when you are sick, just what the doctor ordered, etc., but I must say that I am not so impressed as I was previously.

This is the mushroom version and it's rather weak. The mushrooms are few and cut extremely thin. They have a common one-dimension flavor to them. It could be so much better. 

It didn't cook in the oven very well. Not so good as they used to when they came in small pie tins. The new containers are paper for the microwave. The bottom was soggy so it was returned to the oven without its microwave bowl and that fixed it. The pie might be better cooked in the microwave.  

Ham, eggs, toast

Leek and potato soup

With serrano chiles and carrots. Chicken broth. Milk. Butter. Salt/Pepper.

It's very simple. A lot left over. That can be adjusted with sour cream, herbs, what have you.

Ham and blueberry sandwich with sharp cheddar cheese, malted whole wheat Pullman style bread

Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, chicken gravy

Gravy and potato are cooked in the microwave.

I don't care, shut up, that's what it's there for, to use when I'm sick.

This here is whatchacall roux. Pronounced like Ru Paul.

This turned out to be not enough so I cooked two more small Yukon potatoes. And that turned out to be too much. So it's like sometimes you just cannot win.

Fettuccine with shrimp

There is no milk or cream. The sauce is starchy water, butter, and Parmigiano.

Usually I would add garlic and chile flakes or diced hot peppers and certainly parsley, but not today. Today it is more like hospital food and it's perfectly light. Children would like this.

The test kitchen doesn't even make their own pasta.

Can you believe that? They take the one element, the thing that makes it all fun, and eliminate it. Also, they save the precise amount of water and that seems incautious. 

Zeps Epiq steak sandwich with au jus

Bread to meat ratio aprox. 60%/40%

While Taste of Philly ratio is much better.

The bread is slightly better than Taste of Philly while smaller.

Taste of Philly has considerably more filling.

I doubt the au jus is natural. Zeps makes it very strong and they give just barely enough.

These Tater Tots are surprisingly good.

This is actually two orders. One to eat at the shop yesterday and another to go that was re-heated today at home.

The sandwich @375℉ for 20 minutes, then another 10 minutes along with the Tater Tots.

I find the new interfaces a bit baffling. At first. They're all so wonky, somewhat counterintuitive. 

At Zeps the card reader is little more than a pathetic little toy. 

The obvious card slot does not work. It does not hold the card securely. It does not read. Turns out, the real slot is a tinier slot above the obvious slot. Then everything runs smoothly.

But half of the user input requires the user to touch the keypad under the display. While the other half of the user input requires pressing tiny keys to the side of the display. The user is supposed to just know which array of keys to use and when.

The bathroom is beautiful. The best that I've seen in a place like that. Very nicely designed to be somewhat foolproof from a futuristic aesthetic. 

The toilet flushes itself. 

But toss a paper towel into the toilet bowl and it will not flush again.

Nothing you do will get the toilet to flush again.

Even sitting on the toilet and standing up will not get the toilet to flush again.

There is an apparent button on the wall behind the toilet bowl. I wave my hand in front of it but it does not flush. I press the button but it does not flush. I press both square buttons but it does not flush. I push both at the same time but it does not flush. I sit on the toilet then stand up again and it still does not flush. I exhausted all  possibilities except opening the door exiting the room and reentering as a new user. 

I tell the guy he has a very nice bathroom. Best that I've seen. But I tossed a paper towel in the toilet and it will not flush. "Push the button on the wall behind the toilet." 

"I did that!" I yelled. In my mind.

The thing is, I was born before computers became widespread.

I used computers in high school to monitor class attendance using IBM cards and various large pieces of IBM equipment. 

I was alive when IBM ruled the computing world

I was a teen when personal computers were first sold. I bought one.

I was twenty when Apple computer was born. I bought one.

I used computers entering commands in DOS. I was in my twenties when icons disguised DOS

I used personal computers before the internet was developed.

I used the internet when access was only by telephone. 

I used slow internet with dialup access when high speed internet was developed.

I was an adult when JAVA was invented. 

I lived through innumerable code languages. 

I learned innumerable programs. I played early versions of games. 

I lived though it all. I was here when all of it appeared. 

This new crap confounds me because it's so skimpy. Because it ignores earlier rules. Because the light plastic toys are so inadequate, so disposable. So much like poorly designed children's toys. So illogical in user interface. So entirely absent simple instructions such as an arrow to show you which keypad to use. All user instructions are simply implied. Even the bathroom. 

I still have no idea why it flushes only once.

I'm not complaining. I'm describing. 

So Zeps is modern. Very stripped down. Very user-friendly once you know the new interfaces. But you must have a nearly non-verbal teen show them to you, show you the world of barely-there technology that does so much that he or she was born into.

Semolina fettuccine, meatballs, beef broth with green beans and white beans

Noodles rolled on the Atlas pasta machine to level 6 but I should have stopped on 5 for thicker noodles.

Green beans and white beans from tins. It's what I had in the pantry. Otherwise there would be corn. Potato would be good. So would carrot. You know, the regular vegetables. Peas. Whatever.

Steak sandwich with mushrooms, Taste of Philly

Their steak sandwich is better than mine is even though I used rib-eye steak and they use some kind of crap beef, I don't know what, and I use my own bread and they use something commercial baked elsewhere.

How is that so?

Theirs is mostly meat. It falls out all over the place while you're eating it, and a side view shows what's going on. Like the bread was gouged out or it was thin to begin with. The bread to meat ratio is like 90% to 10%. While mine, even though the bread is actually gouged out, is more like 20% meat to 80% bread.

Apparently their meat is marinated somehow. A lesser tastier cut sliced extremely thinly.

$10 tip to run a sandwich and a salad across the street.

But it's worth it. 

These people know who I am. They call me by my first name. They address me on the street. It's the holidays. I usually walk over there but I'm not feeling that great right now. I've got some things going on. I'm in a hazardous place right now. Minutes before this I took my blood pressure and it was 181/104 with pulse of 81. All of those numbers are rather high. Heart attack territory. I think. I'll be glad when this phase is over. If I survive it. 

It's cold outside and my muscles stop working. 

The dude can skip across the street like this:

 But I cannot do that.

I'm not fast enough. The moment I set foot on the street to jaywalk a car comes out of nowhere and races up to me and honks its horn.

I must use the crosswalk.

I am very slow. Imagine a slow person then double the slowness. That's how slow I actually am. The slowest person on the sidewalk. Children run past me. Fat women in walkers pass me. Men on crutches pass me. Drunks spinning around dance circles around me. Babies just learning to walk pass me. Stephen Hawkins passes me then flips me off in the distance.

My sandwich is cold by the time I get home.

So it really is worth $10.00 to me. And the guy is delighted for just crossing the street.

He doesn't even have to come up. I meet him downstairs at the door. And here again, they always say it will be 30 minutes then they're here within 10 minutes so I can barely just make it downstairs after I place the order.

Corn bread with bacon, blue cheese, jalapeño and shallot

Made from popcorn kernels ground to powder in a coffee bean mill.

* 3/4 cup popcorn kernels
* 1 cup flour
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1 jalapeño
* 1 shallot
* 2 oz blue cheese
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 teaspoon salt

It's so good. I can't stand it.

I ate one thick piece then went back and cut two more regular slices. It's now half gone. And I'm ready to go back and get more.

One thing. My teeth keep hitting individual grains of crunchy corn meal. It's probably a good idea to microwave the cornmeal first in water for a few minutes until it boils. But it takes so much water. It takes like 3X its mass. And that's much more liquid than is used in regular cornbread. And that really does change everything. Plus it has to cool before adding baking powder or else it will be activated immediately. 

It's a conundrum. 

The hard bits aren't so bad. But I'd rather the whole thing be more cake-like.

I've given this to other people and they flipped out. Even people used to soul food and that includes plain cornbread. It's unlike any other cornbread and I've done this for so long that I've forgotten what plain cornbread is like. 

Tuna sushi

Beef burrito, Old Santa Fe restaurant, Denver

This restaurant is near my apartment next to the place where I get my hair cut.

The guy who cut my hair is new. He started three months ago. I told him that I bought them a pizza and to be sure to get a piece because they're really good. The place that makes them upped my own pizza-game considerably. Mine were not good as theirs. I copied what they do. Now mine are the best. 

"Do you usually do that?"


"They told me about you."

How beautiful. These hairdressing people talked about me in a good way. And all it took was a million dollars in pizzas.

"Does your back door open?"

If it does then that puts me on the sidewalk right next to the restaurant. If not then I have to walk back to the front, then outside, then the length back again on the outside. If so, then it puts me right there.

"Yes. But it's two doors. Here, I can open them for you."

     "That's okay. I can deal with the doors."

I open the first door into a space used for storage and steps to a basement. The junk piled around is amazing. Lots of cleaning supplies and lots of holiday decorations and things that people just don't know what to do with. It's terrible. I can see why they'd rather not have people using it. It's a very bad impression.

Once again Old Santa Fe is nearly deserted. Only two other customers came in there. Judging by customers present you must conclude they're dying. Yet their online menu is gorgeous through the delivery services. On the counter are homemade bags of homemade tortilla chips. About fifty brown paper bags with oil stains ready to go for delivery. I think they survive by the delivery services. 

At any rate, this is a huge burrito. Just eating the whole thing at once qualifies you as a big fat oinking pig. I had to stuff in the last bites and it took a long time. And it is delicious. The prices are amazing low. 

Salami chipotle jalapeño pizza

The chipotle is in the adobo sauce.

Chipotle is smoked jalapeño and for some reason the red sauce is a lot hotter than regular roasted jalapeño.

This is a medium size pizza and I ate the whole thing. Half was enough. Then I suffered through the night like a boa that ate an entire rabbit. I became dehydrated like this pizza dried out my whole body I woke up and felt like a body in an Egyptian morgue covered in natron and I drank two quarts of cold water from the tap not even filtered. 

And it was the best tasting water in the whole world. Denver water. It was snow atop the continental divide just hours ago. Those mountains right over there *points out the window.* Water directly from the source of water. Fussed with just a little bit to purify by the city. Like in the Coors commercials. Refreshing. With zero taste. Straight from the tap. I lifted the quart bottle to my lips and poured it in all in one long sip. Filled up the bottle again and another long sip. I felt I could keep doing that. I filled the bottle again to have at my side.

Then later nature called.

*bring bring* Hello, Chip? Go to the bathroom. This is the time I should poop out the pizza.

I went to the bathroom and peed five drops. 

That's how much water this pizza absorbed inside of me. 

Then my body absorbed this entire pizza. Every molecule went to making new cells. I never did poop out a residual portion. Nothing. No constipation. No discomfort. No stomach noises. No pee, no poop. No hunger the whole next day. Rarely is digestion this complete. Rarely is satisfaction this long. It's just another of those mysteries of life on earth. This was a magical pizza.

Fettuccine, cream sauce, spinach and pecans

Liquid cream ↑.

Solid cream ↓. Delightfully, it tastes like lemon.

This is delicious but ultimately it is fail.

My goal was to use the noodles as vehicle for lox instead of bagel or artisan bread. The whole idea was to use the lox.

But when the time came to eat it I was no longer hungry and I was tired from futzing around with making the noodles. My machine is acting up. The thickness-dial keeps slipping and my work surface was crowded with extraneous things. My neck hurt again. I could have gone without eating and in that critical moment where it all comes together at the end I was looking for peas in a crowded freezer, scrounging for vegetative things to add, clearing out the refrigerator of things that became too old, tossing out things like mad, clearing out the whole thing, I completely spaced out the lox. 

I did not add the usual things to poke out the flavor profile. I'm out of black pepper and I forgot to buy it the last two trips to the grocery,  no mustard, no herbs. Just basil that became too wet to use. But I used it anyway and threw out the entire package and it was a large package too. I could have planted them in the Aerogarden had I got to them sooner. But I didn't. 

The tomatoes too beautiful to ignore are now all wrinkly.

The frozen vegetables at the bottom of the pile in the freezer. And I was too tired to unstack it all and put it all back.

The fresh vegetables in the refrigerator are all thrown out. 

The tinned vegetables are the wrong kinds. 

The cooked pasta has a beaten egg in it, so two eggs, one egg in the pasta and a second egg in the sauce. The second egg is cooked by the heat of the pasta along with the homemade sour cream.

The basil and salt and nutmeg are meager. It's like hospital food.

But I loved it. 

I really do love making my own noodles. There just isn't anything like it. 
Here's what you do:

Take and egg and crack it into a bowl. 

Now you have two egg shell cups.

Use the larger egg shell cup and fill it with water. Add the water to the egg and whisk them together.

Blend in semolina flour, estimating from 20% to 50%. 

Blend in A/P flour or bread flour in increments until you get a very stiff dough.

Stiff dough. Very stiff. The commercial noodle makers dough is nearly totally dry. 

Knead the dough ball for a few minutes. 

Let it sit there under the overturned bowl.

Say, twenty minutes. 

Mine stayed for about 45 minutes. Because I was tired.

This time allows an enzyme in the flour to begin breaking it down. That translates to a softer dough ball. 

Cut the dough ball in two and flatten them out.

Roll them to the desired thickness.

This is advanced greatly by using a machine made for this. But that is not necessary. Hand-rolled and hand-cut pasta is fantastic and not much trouble at all. They're usually a good deal thicker. And obviously cut with less precision. People have been doing this for centuries. 

The pasta cooks in seconds. It is not possible to have them al dente. 

Unless you dry them to hardness first and that takes a few days. 

When you dry them quickly, such is possible in Denver, or by using an oven, they tend to break.

Commercially, the Americans probably have some way to do this quickly while the Italians move the pasta through rooms with decreasing degrees of moisture. 

I still have the lox and I still need to use it some way. I'm thinking of eggs. And I can always make bread.

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