Yes, Sir

One can tell Catfish was brought up by parents who believed in proper manners. I admire his “sir” and “ma’am” when talking with other people. The other afternoon, his “Ma’am?” to the Pickle Queen when he didn’t hear what she had said, reminded me of the PQ trying to instill this into one of our sons.

I don’t remember which son it was, but when he was about a three-year-old, he had been told several times to get ready for bed. The last time the PQ told him, she was very insistent. His response was, “Yes, sir!”

Correcting him, PQ said, “You would say ‘Yes, sir,’ to a man. I am a lady, and you would say, ‘Yes, ma’am,’ to a lady.”

Being a preschool teacher, she quizzed him on this lesson by asking, “What would you say to Daddy?”

“Yes, sir!” came the reply.

“Then what would you say to Mama?” the PQ continued.

“Yes, Ma’am!” he proudly answered.

“Good job!” replied the PQ. “Now what would you say to Grandma?”

He lit up and said, “Can I have a cookie?”

I don’t think he got the point.

Keep your fork

An Erector Set

We’ve been in a multitude of antique shops in the past couple of years and in around 50 percent of them there was at least one Erector set for sale. There were sets all the way from the very basic set up to ride on sets. The biggest set we’ve seen must have been 3 feet long, 18 inches wide and a foot in height. The price tag was somewhere between a thousand and fifteen hundred dollars. Way out of my league, but it, along with the other sets, brought back memories.

Somewhere in our basement, in one of the many unpacked boxes, is my Erector Set. What boy growing up in the midwest in the 50’s didn’t want an Erector Set from A.C. Gilbert. Metal beams filled with holes for assembly with nuts and bolts, along with pulleys, gears, wheels and a small electric motor was all we could dream about months before Christmas ever came. The year I thought sure I was going to get my Erector Set from Santa, I got a steel scoop shovel. How the heck was I going to build a model of something, take it apart, and build something else with a scoop shovel? That year I couldn’t, but the next year I could.

Erector had become a generic trademark for construction toys of all brands. Now they have Meccano sets. The trademark for Erector was sold to Meccano and in 2015 the Erector brand was relaunched under Meccano. I understand that there are now sets for adults as well as for boys and girls of all ages.

I had the opportunity to put together a project from an adult Erector set this past week. Catfish had bought a Multipurpose Workbench With Lighting and Outlet for Gator Babe to use for her sketching and painting projects. The company from which he purchased this ‘erection set’  is opening a new store every 3 days somewhere in the United States. There lines of tools include, Central Pneumatic, Pittsburg, Chicago Electric, Predator and others. They have advertisement in 99% of  any magazine you may pick up. These ads include coupons for 20% off any one item and choice of a “free” item. But, I digress. Catfish knew that the workbench needed to be assembled, and being a good neighbor, I agreed to do the assembling.

When Catfish opened the door to his basement and seen that I had opened the box and had parts (including at least a dozen little plastic bags of nuts, washers and bolts) strewn all over the floor, he stared in amazement and told me I didn’t have to put the bench together if I didn’t want to. I felt up to a challenge and told him I wanted to continue.

We decided that to be kind to our backs, we’d try to use his workbench as much as possible. It turned out that it was a good place for the instruction booklet to lay and serve as a place to spread out the nuts and bolts. After opening the instruction sheets and seeing that there were more pages of safety precaution in use of the bench than there were assembly instructions, I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew.

While I was off fetching the first two parts, Catfish was busy opening the dozen or so bags of hardware. He was keeping them in neat little piles, but was failing to keep the plastic bags with the part numbers with the piles. Turns out it didn’t make a nickles worth of difference. As I said before, the safety precautions outnumbered the assembly instructions. Besides only 3 pages of very poor schematics, there was no indication as to which bag of hardware went where. But what guy pays attention to instructions and schematics anyway?

After 2 sessions with about 8 person hours of assembly, this erection project was completed. No left over parts, but we did have 1 nut, 1 bolt and 1 washer, none of which fit together, left after all this fun. As I told Catfish, “The second one would go together a lot faster.”

Keep your fork


Liver Patties

If you like liver and onions, you’ll like these liver patties.

1 lb liver
2 slices bacon
1 small onion
1 green pepper
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 egg

Grind the liver, bacon, onion and green pepper in a meat grinder. Combine and beat the egg, salt, pepper and flour. Add this mixture to the liver/bacon mixture. Mix well. Drop from a spoon onto a greased griddle. Serve hot.

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Simmering Beans

This is number 6 in what may be considered a series on dried beans. We’ve decided which types of beans to plant, grew our own beans, harvested, dried, stored and finally washed and soaked the beans in preparing them for use. Now, we have to simmer them until they are tender.

In generations past, our ancestors were urged to simmer their beans in the same water in which they soaked them. Today no one is quite certain whether to do the same or to use fresh water for simmering. To most people, the minimal loss of nutrients into the water during the soaking process doesn’t offset the better taste and less “musical fruit” problem when simmered in fresh water. If you are in it for the nutrients, and don’t mind the diminished taste and the gas, use the same soaking water for simmering your beans. Also, remember that the more times you consume beans, the more your body becomes accustomed to the extra B vitamins and fiber found in the beans (less music). I know that my taste buds can’t tell ‘used’ water from ‘fresh’ water and would bet yours can’t either. If you use a salt soak, the extra salt in the ‘used’ water may result in over salted beans. Some people taste the soaking water to determine if it is sweet or bitter. They will simmer in the soaking water if the taste is sweet and use fresh water if it is bitter. I guess the last word would be that it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. Do what you want. There’s no right or wrong.

Where there is a right or wrong is adding baking soda to the simmering water. DON’T use the old trick of adding baking soda thinking it will speed up the simmering process. Baking soda will destroy the vitamins found in the beans.

Foaming can also be a problem when simmering beans. Add a tablespoon of butter or cooking oil to the simmering water or simply tilt the lid and lower the heat until the foaming stops.

A few things come into play when considering the amount of time to simmer the beans. Varietal differences, length of storage and dryness of the bean are the big three. Allow extra time from what the recipe suggests, just in case. The beans are done when the skins begin to break open and they are tender all the way through when you bite into them. Remember, the acid found in tomatoes, vinegar and wine slows down the cooking process, so add them last if time matters.

Keep your fork

Believe It or Not

My good friend Catfish was walking home from the river carrying two fish in a bucket. A game warden approached him and asked to see his fishing license. Knowing that he did not need a license if he was fishing on his own land, he decided to have a little fun with the ‘carp, skunk and crow’ officer. Catfish said, “I did not catch these fish. They are my pets. Every day I come down to the river and whistle, and these fish jump out. I put them in this pail and take them around to see the sights. At the end of the day I return them to the river.”

The warden, not believing a word of it, reminded Catfish that it’s illegal to fish without a license.

Knowing that the warden is new to the area and probably doesn’t know the land owners, he decides to continue with his ‘jocularity’ and said to the warden, “If you don’t believe me, then just watch.” With that, he tossed the fish into the river.

The new warden said, “Now whistle to your fish and show me that they will come out of the water.”

“What fish?” asked Catfish.

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to get one over on ole Catfish!

Keep your fork

Roasted Hog Maw

What is hog maw you might wonder. Hog maw is the exterior muscular wall of a pig’s stomach without the interior lining (mucosa). The hog maw contains no fat if the stomach has been cleaned properly. If you are a connoisseur of Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Pennsylvania Dutch or Portuguese dishes, you may be familiar with or have eaten hog maw. Here’s a recipe for plain ole roasted hog maw.

1 pig stomach
2-1/2 lb ground pork sausage
1/2 c diced celery
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 small bag seasoned pork stuffing
1 c warm water
1/3 butter
1 qt raw diced potato

Wash and clean the pig’s stomach and soak in salt water for 2 hours. Mix stuffing with the warm water and butter. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Rinse, drain and fill the stomach with the stuffing mixture at the end of the soaking period. Secure the opening to the stomach with picks or lace it shut. Bake in a covered roasting pan for 3 hours at 350 degrees F.

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Smoke Flavors

On 7 December 2015 my post was on wood flavors. I listed the characteristics of some hardwoods and some ‘foods’ that could be paired with the various species listed. Listed below are various hardwoods and their parings that compliment the earlier post.

Remember that various food items, besides meats, can be given a smoky flavor to add new dimensions to ‘everyday’ foods. Try smoking beans, bread crumbs, cheese, eggs, lentils, nuts, pasta, popcorn, rice or other grains, salt, seeds or a variety of other items.

  • Alder – Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, baked, vegetables
  • Apple – Chicken, pork,baked, vegetables
  • Cherry – Beef, chicken, pork, baked, vegetables
  • Hickory – Beef chicken, pork, vegetables
  • Maple – Beef, pork, baked, vegetables
  • Mesquite – Beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables
  • Mountain mahogany – Beef, chicken, sea food, vegetables
  • Oak – Beef, seafood, baked, vegetables
  • Pecan – Beef, chicken,pork, baked, vegetables

Keep your fork