the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

The Journal Jar Celebrates Valentines Day

Even if you don’t like Valentine’s Day (broken hearts for the lose!) please join us on the Journal Jar for some cheer today. TGIF, right?

Comments closed at the tao of jaklumen as per usual, so you’ll be inclined to visit us ­čśë

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jak & Cimmy's Journal Jar

This is what our family is doing for ValentineÔÇÖs Day. Enjoy and please share with your friends.

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Thanksgiving 2013

jak & Cimmy's Thanksgiving tableWe 3 Pies of Thanksgiving ArePretty sure that's an apple piePecan piePumpkin pieWhat remains of the turkey so far

This was our first year hosting Thanksgiving, and it was a smashing success! jak cooked, and Cimmy baked.

Come join us at Flickr for more details.

Via Flickr:
Photos and artwork for our November celebration of Thanksgiving. In the United States, a Day of Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.


[Vox Diaspora] QotW: 9/20-9/25

as seen at QotW: 9/20-9/25 (at the Vox Diaspora) and QotW: 9/20-9/25 (Fall Storms) (at VOX Journal Jar Group In Exile)

Depending on your hemisphere, spring or fall is arriving on Wednesday. Show us what you love and/or hate about the season.

As I am in the U.S. and therefore the Northern Hemisphere, it is the beginning of the fall season, also known as autumn.

I love Hallowe’en, otherwise known as Samhaim.┬á It is a wonderful time to be creative and to dress up, among other things.

(This is an old picture of a Halloween long gone, but I hope it will suffice for illustrative purposes.)

(This was not at Halloween, but is here to show Cimmorene’s superb makeup skills.┬á My daughter was inspired by the musical CATS after watching a soundstage recording of it.)

I love Thanksgiving.┬á Anyone that has followed my old blog at VOX knows I really enjoy cooking.┬á I have no photos of Thanksgiving eats right now, but I will say I am one of the few on Cimmy’s side of the family that likes mashed rutabaga.┬á This year, Cimmy will make pies filled with gooseberry and Granny Smith apples. flavored a bit more with strawberry gelatin.┬á If we are lucky to glean Concord grapes this year, we may also make grape pie.

(HEY!┬á Pay attention… you might see some photos of that if you sit tight!)

I enjoy mulled cider and many other warm drinks.┬á Fall is a great season for cooking– speaking of pies earlier, most winter squash and many root vegetables make fabulous pie, too.┬á Sure, I bet you know a few… winter squash like pumpkin, and root vegetables like sweet potatoes.┬á (Yes, sweet potatoes are roots, not tubers.)

My skin is tinged with blue veins and a lingering farmer’s tan– I am a Summer in the fashion coloring scheme, so I can’t wear autumn colors.┬á But it’s quite marvelous to see the trees with leaves that are all sorts of brilliant colors after shedding their green chlorophyll.┬á Not just orange, gold, brown, and the like– there’s purple on some trees, too.

Both Halloween and Thanksgiving are part of the big U.S. holiday block I call the “Happyhallowthankamas” season.┬á Though I consider myself a religious man, I know that most of it endures through simple “pagan” observance of the season, much less than worship.┬á Although I am goy (Ephramite if you take my beliefs kindly), I am mindful of the High Holidays my Jewish friends have been observing.┬á Incidentally, I have been working on an atonement and a repentance of my own… which is a private matter, and I won’t discuss it here.

Because sunshine is vital to keeping my moods healthy, I have been working on full-spectrum lighting in my home.┬á That is one thing I don’t like so much about fall– is the retreat and hiding of the sun, with shorter days and overcast skies much of the time.┬á I cannot afford a light box, but will manage other features.┬á There may be pictures of such soon, as well.

I could say more, but this is long.  I thank you if you have been reading this far.


Another testament to the goodness of bacon.

Bacon wrapped jalape├▒os, stuffed with cheddar cheese.  The great tastes that taste great together– but unlike peanut butter and chocolate for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, SISO is in effect: spicy in, spicy out.

This was cooked with the Tulsi solar-electric oven.

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Pretzel dogs for dinner? Yum yum!

Photos by Cimmorene

Click on each picture for descriptions.  Yes, that is my hand in those photos.

Click right here to see more photos of this project at her Adventures in Cooking photoset and other fun food projects (some which have been shared here at VOX before).

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Just a small cooking rant (or why I am not a foodie)

Those of you that have been reading for a little while now, or those who have been following my comments on your posts about food, know that I very much enjoy the art of cooking.

There are times, however, when I find the fussy tastes and preferences of some cooks and chefs quite annoying.  The elitism that they and foodies/gourmands/gourmets/whatever-term-you-prefer sometimes spout just grates on my sensibilities.

In no particular order:

1. Gas vs. electric (or an open flame, compared with pretty much anything else)

The so-called experts, I find, seem to lambast any cooking method that is not over some sort of a flame.  They especially loathe microwaves, from what I'm given to understand.  The complaints are usually similar, regardless of the appliance: "it doesn't heat evenly."

I was especially upset when America's Test Kitchen blasted contact grills.  "They're good if you want to make a pannini", Adam Reid said in one episode.  I wanted to reach right through the TV screen and punch him.  I got our G5 grill so I could replace our contact grill, waffle iron, and sandwich press all in one fell swoop.  Reid was even more critical of grills that had removable plates.  Screw him.  My appliance is working just fine for me and suits my purposes.

I can understand the fuss slighty better about microwaves.  I understand it more so when our last two microwaves that had turntable carosels died.  We opted for an old Quasar that my in-laws weren't using, but it has no turntable.  But I use our microwave only for specific cooking tasks, like quickly cooking rice, defrosting frozen food quickly, or cooking a potato.  But I don't expect it to do anything that would be better served by convection heat, like in an oven.

2. Fussing over quality of ingredients

I don't mind using sea salt.  I buy a lot of my seasonings in bulk, and it's actually cheaper for me to use sea salt than iodized.  I am certain I am getting enough iodine through other means– either by added iodized salt to many food products, or seaweed, which I'm getting either by sushi, ice cream, or occasionally Japanese imported seasoning mixes (which often goes into ramen prepared from a package, because sometimes I roll like that).

But I'm just not picky enough to fuss over "too much" salt in processed foods.  I do not have the money, time, and patience to insist on everything fresh.  If I wind up using something out of a can, or don't make my seasoning mixes myself, I will adjust the recipe I am using it in accordingly.  Same goes for herbs– sometimes I will use something dried even though I am well aware it is not as flavorful.

3. Quality over convenience

Call me unrefined, uncultured, or common rabble, but if a recipe takes far too long to prepare and it is not something I can make a meal out of many times over many nights for my family… I'm not likely going to make it too often.  I will take the extra work that pizza requires, however.  Cimmy and Princess very vocally appreciate handmade pizza, and although it requires long and tiring work, I am willing to do it, as I can often make a much healthier alternative to the restaurant and "you bake" pizza places.

See #2.

Bread made entirely from scratch and entirely from hand also falls into this category.  I will have store-bought bread to make sandwiches and use a bread machine for the rest.  I am aware of the good quality of a nice handmade artisan bread.  Do I have time, space, patience, etc. to do that?  No, I don't.

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Chugga chugga chugga chugga woo WOO!

Busy day today!

This morning:

Walked to the grocery store (about 3 or 4 blocks) with the family to buy milk and a few other things.  We all ate some of the few other things on the way back.  Put pork roast in the slow cooker to defrost (wouldn't fit).

Late morning/afternoon:

Went to visit my father.  Started up a loaf of bread in their bread machine (and ignored my mother's earlier claims that I shouldn't bother).  Helped Dad put away his IV stand, since he had his B-12 injection and infusion today.  Purchased some clothes online while Cimmy worked more on her D&D world map.  Since Mom and Dad had not finished the black rice pudding we gave them (and Dad was not especially fond of it), Cimmy fed it to the kids instead of taking it back home.  Jak Jr. made a mess of Dad's paper shredder after coming in from the backyard (had the kids playing outside).  Moved kids to the sewing room/playroom/guest room.  Measured myself to make sure I bought the right size i needed.  After I purchased 2 "judo"-length shorts, two dress shirts, and two denim shirts, I traded places with Cimmy and she looked for dresses.  Took measurements for Cimmy to make sure she got the right size.  Cimmy got frustrated because few of the dresses were in her size.  While Dad was paying for Cimmy's dress (he paid for my clothes too; as per an agreement), Cimmy packed the kids into the car.  Jak Jr. started to cry because he hit Cimmy and she smacked him back.

Got home and Cimmy decided that everyone else would come along to my med nurse appointment.  Cimmy called her mother and said she wouldn't be at home and so they agreed we'd bring them the jam jars for the blueberry jam on Saturday (when we come up to the Lower Yakima Valley to see fireworks– and possibly pick gooseberries at their house).  Ran inside quickly to add pickled jalape├▒os and a lime quartered lengthwise to the pork roast, after taking it out of the bag. 

Jak Jr. fell asleep in the car on the way to my appointment.

Went to med nurse appointment.  Found out that the reason why I can't start counseling is I have to see a doctor first and get written permission, being the medical ward of the state and feds that I am. :-P  Also weighed in.  Didn't lose any weight, but didn't gain any either.  Ask for a Dum-Dum lollipop and she reminded me to grab some for the rest of the family.  Cimmy chose root beer, I chose sour apple, Princess had bubble gum flavor and so Jak Jr. got the grape one when he woke up.

Went to the Albertson's grocery store to get something small to eat.  Could not find sunscreen, as employee's directions were crappy.

Got into car and mother-in-law drove up.  She spotted Princess and figured out where we were.  You see, if you aren't totally lost already, my mother-in-law and father-in-law come down every Thursday for… stuff.  As most of my doctors are in the same town, she caught up with us.  She gave Cimmy a disc of Princess's trip to OMSI (so, did my father-in-law add something extra he didn't already upload to Flickr?) and hugs to everyone except me but that was OK since I fit in our Honda Civic like a sardine and I was still sitting in the car.  I'll get mine this Saturday, sure enough.

Went to the drugstore and Cimmy got some sunscreen.  She got spray-on again.  Gah.  Yes, okay, that is the only way to be sure some gets on the kids.

Went down to Columbia Point.  It was a fairly nice day for kite flying– sort of.  Very light, then very calm, then very strong.  Flew the koi stunt kite, the parafoil (Snapshot 1.2), and the delta kite.  Drained the water bottle and refilled it at a faucet while flying the delta kite.  Kids did not want to stay within the playground area very much as usual.  Was trying to avoid Hanford traffic but Cimmy could not last past 6PM (18h), so we skirted out in the last burst.  Some guy in an SUV decided to be an aggressive jerk.  Took the long way home through Columbia Park past the Columbia River.

Got home.  Table was still full of dishes.  Mixed the crushed pineapple and applesauce together to dress the pork roast.  Carved off servings for everyone; we ate at the couch or other chairs in the living room… again.

Called Mom & Dad (since I could not understand Dad's voicemail message on our answering machine).  They loved the loaf of bread; Mom especially.  Princess forgot her bracelet at their house.  Mom wants me to come vacuum.  Agreed with Mom that shopping takes time.  Blah blah blah yadda yadda yakkety schmakety.  Said goodbye.

Did some of my usual things on Runescape.  Remembered I was going to write a post on VOX.  I'm here now.  Day is almost over.  Yeah yeah yeah.

Chugga chugga chugga chugga woo WOO!

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Homemade custard-style yogurt

(Adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking: You Can Make Yogurt In Your CrockPot, which was shared with me by an old schoolmate and friend.)


I wasn't sure if it would work, but it seems to have turned out fine.

I talked to my mother beforehand and she said I could use powdered milk, with double the usual amount of powder.  We have a lot of powdered milk, and it's important to me to use what we have on hand.  She also recommended the Lucerne yogurt in the small cup size, which is available at the grocery store we do most of our shopping at.  So that's what I did– mixed up a quart per the directions, with 4 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups powdered milk.  I figured that was enough for the 2-quart slow cooker we have.  I added a cup of Lucerne yogurt (vanilla at the same price, but figured the flavor would be helpful).

Because that particular crockpot has only two settings, I wound up setting it to low and then turned it off after maybe an hour or two– but still wrapped it in a towel.  It must have carmelized the sugar somewhat because what I got was a rather custardy yogurt that was slightly like cottage cheese in texture.  I strained it through a pillowcase, as there was a bit of water left.  I'm sure something went right, as I could see there was more there than the amount of starter I used.

So far, Cimmy and Jak Jr. really like it, so I'll count it as a success.  Now, if I could only find Princess… we allowed her to play outside as long as she was within earshot.  If only she knew the deliciousness that awaits her (not to mention her mother is threatening to eat it if she won't)…!  Oh.  I see now.  She's just come in now.  She was waiting for the ice cream truck.

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My chapati was less than perfect.

This was featured recently in [culture is good].  I got very excited about it, since Princess Thunderstorm absolutely loves the leavened version that is naan.  (Chapati/roti is not leavened.)  Although I doubt I have easy access to Indian wheat, I most certainly have stone ground red wheat and all-purpose flour, which were atuls' substitution.  The former I can get freshly ground, even, as my parents own a stone grinder mill.

But my chapati/roti was not perfect at all.  I won't post pictures, because… I'm embarrassed.  They were consistently doughy in the middle.  Winding back a few steps to how I started:

  • I made triple the amount he did, so 2 cups each of the whole wheat and the all-purpose, with about 2 1/4 cups (a full liquid measure cup) of water.
  • I added too much oil– maybe 3 tablespoons by accident when greasing my hands.
  • I let the dough sit about 30 mins, as it was a larger amount.
  • The consistency was very, very, very sticky, and so I added maybe a 1/2 cup flour, as well as flour to my hands and to the outside of each little dough ball.
  • For this reason I also patted and stretched it by hand, because I tired of how badly the dough stuck to a rolling pin.
  • I used a cast iron griddle.  It was then that I realized this was much too big for the vegetable sizzler Purplesque had made, because it covers two stove burners.  It's also a bit warped from the last time we used it some years back.  (It stains the stove so we went back to non-stick skillet/griddle pans for other cooking uses.)
  • I realized that I was probably rushing the process… I thought I was not going to get bubbles in the dough, but waiting longer helped some.  I used a spatula for turning and flipping the dough as atuls did.  But even when I waited longer, it still turned out doughy, even when it became crispy in spots.
  • I had the burners set to medium high, as suggested in the second video of the post.  At first, this set off the fire alarms and left my daughter crying, because of the smoke.  So I turned on the hood fan and Cimmy cracked open the door.  *sigh*  Even at medium heat I still got smoke when I applied butter to the griddle between batches.

Of course, it's 23:22 now; I got started maybe 1.5-2 hours ago.  (My sleeping and waking states are flip-flopped right now.)

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