Election Fraud

Things that concern me

Yesterday, Project Veritas released a video showing a senior executive at Google talking about the company’s directed efforts at interfering with the 2020 election. The country has just lived through 2 1/2 years of supposed Russian Interference, and found that while the charge was without merit, the notion that someone or something would attempt to manipulate our elections was roundly decried as abhorrent.

Today, Project Veritas is reporting that Google, owner of YouTube, has taken down the video exposing their plot. Such actions not only reinforce the belief that directing the election is a company goal, but also indicate they have no remorse or compunction about wielding their mighty techno-arm.

I am just a person who writes about cookies and things I learned as a child, but this one doesn’t get a pass, in my book.

So, if you’re interested, you can watch the video here: https://www.projectveritas.com/2019/06/24/insider-blows-whistle-exec-reveals-google-plan-to-prevent-trump-situation-in-2020-on-hidden-cam/

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Baking · Britain

The eternal English Civil War

Cream Tea at the Fox Café in Princetown, located close to the infamous Dartmoor prison.
Dartmoor is a region of the county of Devon in the UK.
Cream Tea in Princetown (Dartmoor)

First, let me assuage your fears. This is not a Brexit post, that bitter feud being a recent event. This post addresses actually 2 related and longstanding disputes of a food nature.

Visitors to England, especially those from America, expect a High Tea, as if everyone in English homes hauls out their china, 6 types of cake and displays them on tiered cake dishes on a daily basis.

Yes, you can be pandered to in this manner, but those experiences are fewer than you think, and more geared towards tourists willing to pay huge sums of money for the opportunity to be ostentatious.

Afternoon tea (as opposed to “Tea,” which is the evening meal in many parts of the country), can be nothing more than what Americans would term a Coffee Break, with a pause, a beverage and then back to whatever was needing to be done. More languid observations would include a biscuit [American: cookie], a small cake bought from Tesco or other supermarket or even a quick dash into a small café for same.

Prized amongst those café dashes is the Cream Tea, which refers not to extra fat in the tea itself, but rather to the inclusion of clotted cream to go with warm scones and jam.


“Arthur blinked at the screens and felt he was missing something important. Suddenly he realized what it was.

“Is there any tea on this spaceship?” he asked.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Which brings us to conflict #1. Where does clotted cream come from? Some things, according to EU rules, need to come from one place. You can’t call sparkling wine “Champagne” unless it originates from that region in France. Stilton cheese must come from Stilton. Glouchestershire, Leicestershire and Wenslydale all must originate in their namesakes. Somehow Cheddar managed to sneak out and have illegitimate children all over the globe, including this writer’s basement. Clotted cream has no designation, no place of origin.

If you ask a denizen of Devon, they will tell you that clotted cream can only be produced by Jersey cows on Devon soil, which is unique in its composition, yielding the finest scone slather known to man. Similarly, the Cornish (spitting distance from the Devonians) claim theirs is the best. Devonians will point out that the facilities in Cornwall to produce clotted cream primarily import their milk from Devonian farmers, and on it goes. I do know that if you walk into a Devonian supermarket, no one is ramming you with their shopping trolley [American: cart] if you select one of the containers of Cornish Clotted Cream. Either way it will be made from raw Jersey cream, and it’s delicious.

Having settled that issue (yes, they haven’t settled it either so who am I to make a definitive statement?), we move on to the actual consumption.

Conflict #2: In which order does one apply jam and cream to the scone? Who gives a flying fig, would be my answer. It all gets mixed together as soon as it passes your lips anyway, but believe me, this is a BIG deal to many. My brother in law is of the opinion it is cream then jam, while his wife opines adamantly he is incorrect. It’s really amusing to watch them bicker and attempt to cajole you to their way of thinking.

If I had to take a stance, I would say clotted cream more resembles butter than whipped cream, so my inclination would be to put it on the scone first. However should you find yourself with warring Windsor subjects, might I suggest an appeasement to both parties: split the scone and put jam first on half and clotted cream first on the other. You’ve offended no one and still be able to enjoy a lovely Cream Tea.

Returning from your holiday and longing for Cream Teas, you have a dilemma. You can buy “Clotted Cream” in a jar. As soon as you open it you will realize it is not the same thing you enjoyed while watching the constant English drizzle moisten the gardens by Buckfast Abbey. Instead, it is a more custardy blob of cream with a shelf life of several months, whereas real clotted cream should be eaten or discarded within the week.

So what is a closet Anglophile to do for their clotted cream? Make it yourself. It is spectacularly easy. The hardest part is getting the cream. Ideally you have grass fed Jersey milk. I am lucky in that regard because we have a dairy which provides us with this. Most American milk comes from Holsteins which have high output, but lower fat content. Keep looking. Jersey or Guernsey will give you the highest fat content. Grass fed, although you may not be able to avoid silage (dried grasses) in the winter. Raw is optimal (you won’t die), although if you just can’t bring yourself to use it, pasteurized will make a moderately successful substitute.

Having secured your cream, you want to put it in a shallow, wide container and heat it over very low heat. I have seen recommendations for putting it in a crockpot on low for 8 hours. I have not tried this, but can tell you that too high a heat will cook your cream rather than clot it.


“Dad was at his desk when I opened the door, doing what all British people do when they’re freaked out: drinking tea.”
Rachel Hawkins, Demonglass

I have an electric chafing dish which I use to make mine. Pouring the cream into the largest container, I set the heat on very low and let it sit for about 6 hours before checking. The result is akin to the “skin” atop a cooked pudding [British: custard] which did not have plastic adhered to the surface while it cooled.

Using a slotted spoon, skim the “skin” off the top and put it into a clean container. It will be somewhat liquidy; don’t worry. Put the container in the refrigerator and continue gradually heating the rest of the cream. You will probably be able to get at least one more skimming, possibly two, before the remaining liquid is much whiter and more resembling skim milk than cream. After each skimming, you’ll notice that the cooled previous “skins” have become much firmer. This somewhere between butter and soft ice cream is the desired texture. You’re doing great! The milky liquid can be used as milk, or in baking; there is no need to throw it away.


“As far as her mom was concerned, tea fixed everything. Have a cold? Have some tea. Broken bones? There’s a tea for that too. Somewhere in her mother’s pantry, Laurel suspected, was a box of tea that said, ‘In case of Armageddon, steep three to five minutes’.”
Aprilynne Pike, Illusions

As almost an afterthought, you probably want some scones to put that clotted cream on. For this we turn to the Emperess of English Enticements, Delia Smith, or as Dawn French referred to her in The Vicar of Dibley, “Saint Delia!”

Plain Scones

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients

    • 3 Tbl (40g) spreadable butter
    • 2 1/2 cups (225g) all purpose flour* or self-raising flour
    • 1 1/2 level tablespoons white (golden caster) sugar
    • pinch of salt
      • 1/2 cup (110ml) milk, plus a little more (if needed)
      • a little extra flour
    * If using all purpose flour sieve the following into the flour
      • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/4 tsp salt
    Please be a dear and weigh your flour.  It is so much more accurate.  Carry on, luv.

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 425F, 220C, Gas mark 7.
    2. Begin by rubbing the butter into the sieved flour quickly, using your fingertips, then stir in the sugar followed by a pinch of salt.
    3. Now, using a knife, mix in the milk little by little, and when it’s all in, flour your hands and knead the mixture to a soft dough (you may find you need just a drop more milk if it feels at all dry). Place the dough on a floured pastry board and with a rolling pin (also floured) lightly roll it out to a thickness of about 3cm. (This thickness is vital. The reason scones don’t rise enough is because they are rolled too thin.)
    4. Then take the pastry cutter and tap it sharply so that it goes straight through the dough – do not twist or the scones will turn out a strange shape! When you have cut as many as you can, knead the remaining dough together again and repeat. Then place the scones on the baking sheet, dust each one with flour and bake near the top of the oven for 12–15 minutes.
    5. When they’re done they will have risen and turned a golden brown. Then transfer them to a wire rack and eat as soon as they are cool enough, spread with butter, jam and clotted cream.

Please note her Holiness puts butter on the bottom and cream on the top. This throws a whole spanner [American: wrench] in the works, doesn’t it?

Challenges

Screaming through my keyboard

This is a rant.  It is unashamedly a loud complaint.  If your fancy doesn’t run towards vitriol today, I suggest a different bat time and a different bat channel.

I wanted to check my bank balance.  Not a big deal, right?  People do it all the time.  I was doing it from my desktop.  Not a mobile, tablet, gaming station or through the television.  Just a straight up desktop.  Open a browser.  Type in your user name and password.

And then silence.  Not even an error message.  It just sat there.  …   …   …   … for a long time.

I get that websites need maintenance, so I didn’t worry.  I closed the browser, did something else for about 5 minutes and came back.  Same result.  There was an indicator at the top that they had updated their browser experience and would I like to try it?  Oh sure, maybe that will get me in because ALL I WANT TO DO IS CHECK MY BALANCE!

Nope.  Same result.  OK, new website design, probably working the bugs out, so I wait about an hour.  You guessed it.  Didn’t work.

Next step – Contact Us.  Cool, there is a chat function.  I know some of you are thinking, I bet that didn’t work either, but you would be wrong.  A window popped up and a person (or AI), who self-identified as Michelle asked how they could help.  When I described my problem, Michelle said, “Hmmmm.  Maybe try a different browser.  We support all major ones like Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

“Michelle,” says I, “I am using Edge, the default browser with Windows 10.”

“Oh,” says Michelle, “We’re not compatible with Edge yet.”

browser-icons

Back in the day when George (this is a whole different story) was encouraging me to learn HTML so I could write a website which he had volunteered to do, one of the huge checks before publishing was browser compatibility.  The student needed to verify the website was accessible on anyone’s computer before it was any good to either the user or the originating organization.  Check ALL browser compatibility before you publish.

Apparently this mantra has been lost.

Whether students are no longer taught this in the US or in the countries where H-1Bs call home, the problem is huge.  Yes, big organizations generally still do this.  Can you imagine Amazon inserting pop-ups saying, “I see you’re using Safari.  To use our system, please download Firefox.  Amazon does not work with anything but Firefox”?  Yeah, no.  That would hit the Bezos bottom line with a resounding thud.  Money aside, one of the hallmarks of Amazon is their customer service, hence regardless of your browser, unless you’re still using one from the early 1990’s, you can order anything from a pancake spatula to medieval chain mail using whatever browser floats your boat.

My husband and I refer to “just use a different browser” as the phenomenon of lazy developers who check their gmail on their iPhone.  It’s what they do, so of course you do too, right?  No, I don’t.  It makes me irritable that they feel it is their right to dictate how I use my computing power, so I’m going to be hashtag shaming lazy corporations, and I’m going to name names!  For the record, I don’t plan on taking prisoners.

Back to the bank.  When we opened the account I asked if there was a Windows Phone app.  Friendly bank manager didn’t know and also didn’t call to find out.  Nonetheless, we opened the account.  No Windows Phone app, and yes, this was before Windows killed off the phone.  Sigh.  No mobile deposits.  It will be the drive down and deposit scenario.  We got used to it, until today.  What use is a bank that I have to drive down to CHECK MY BALANCE, all because a developer is too lazy to check browser compatability?  Actually its usefulness is diminishing by the second.

Yes, I could load a different browser, but if I do so it will be because I see a need, not because you’re too lazy to write for everyone out there in Browser-land.  Also of note – it will be a very cold day in a very hot place before I purposely put anything Google on my machine.  Yes I realize the irony of WordPress using Google analytics, and me choosing WordPress for this blog.  I did not download it to nestle nefariously in amongst my data however.

Is this bank an isolated incident?  Nope.  Last week I went to reorder my business cards only to have the website have undergone an upgrade, rendering my ability to access my saved designs void or indeed to even start all over.  Again, if I would just use Chrome or Firefox, I wouldn’t have any problems, I was told.  I had to have a nice man on the phone do my order for me at his end.  You begin to wonder, why have a website at all, if this is what a portion of your customers have to do?

For the past year, each time I open a Contact Management email system our neighborhood uses, I am informed that, We see you are using Edge.  We recommend using Chrome or Firefox to be able to have access to all the abilities of this site.  ARGH.  For a year and half it has said that.  Even if they all had a 2 month extended lunch hour, perhaps in a year and a half someone could have gotten around to it.  Note  – we are cancelling our service with them.  I’m sure they’re not quaking in their boots because our $165 will bankrupt them, but if enough people get fed up, it might make an impact.

Because this is ostensibly a food blog, I will post an appropriate recipe here, and begin the list of shame following.  Please feel free to add your own to the list of lazy web designers in the comments section.

I can't be bothered, try eating at McDonalds instead

1 egg

1 piece white bread

1 tsp butter

Boil egg in water to desired doneness.  Put bread in toaster and leave in till desired browness has been achieved.  Spread butter on toast.

Remove shell from egg and smear or slice egg on toast.  Season to taste and enjoy while warm.

#LazyWebsiteDevelopers Hall of Shame

as of date of publishing, to be removed if they get their act together

KeyBank
Constant Contact
123print.com
Nextdoor.com

Meats

Way back when

In my childhood, the epitome of fine dining for my parents was a place called Bratten’s Seafood Grotto.  Salt Lake being landlocked and overnight delivery an expensive luxury before FedEx, seafood in a nice restaurant was something in which we rarely indulged.  The restaurant was far enough from our home to add a layer of distance related mystique to the experience.  Cloth tablecloths and napkins, the need to dress in our Sunday best, and the admonition that we behave appropriately all meant that a dinner at Brattens was the pinnacle of our dining experience.

fried shrimpI can’t speak for my sisters, but I hated seafood.  It tasted like salt water and had unpleasant squooshy textures.  The result was when my parents took us there, I always ordered batter fried shrimp because the coating obliterated the texture, and drowned in tartar sauce, I wouldn’t have to actually taste it.  Nothing my parents could say would dissuade me from my standard menu request.

Continue reading “Way back when”

Baking · positive directions

Make the world better

I have written before that my life was always “half a block away.”  We lived half a block from a very affluent neighborhood, and the geographical distance was a metaphor for so many aspects of my life.

One of those areas was obviously money.  While my “other side of the street” friends had parents who drove them to school, I walked or paid my own bus fare.  They bought lots of new back to school clothes every fall.  Many of them were given cars when they turned 16, and so on.

As children on the wrong side of the street, we were given an allowance, just so we had money.  It was $1/week.  It wasn’t a lot, but my parents wanted us to understand the connection between work and income.  We had money making opportunities, which were chores with a choice.

shirt-iron-8-front Continue reading “Make the world better”

Uncategorized

Mango and avocado salsa

This salsa post made me so very happy this morning.

foodbycamilla

P6241685.JPG

Salsa is one of my favourite things to make in the summer months. Salsa is a fantastic condiment, especially when it’s homemade, it’s fresh and bursting with flavors.Salsa is the perfect accompaniment to any summer dish. Salsa is also versatile and can be used for much more than just tortilla chips. This colourful  mango and avocado salsa is easy and fun to make! Mango and avocado pairs so well. The combination of mango, avocado, lime, onion, chilli and cilantro, is sweet, spicy and absolutely delicious.Serve this colourful salsa with grilled fish or chicken.This salsa not only works as a topping for tortilla chips,  but also as an incredible filling for wraps and tacos, as a substitute for the traditional tomato- based salsa. This salsa can also be served in a salad. My personal favourite is this mango and avocado salsa, served with grilled salmon and quinoa.

Ingredients: ( makes a medium bowl…

View original post 73 more words

Desserts · Humor

Things I learned while painting

Brush-Paint-Pantene-400x250Painting is like going to the bathroom.

No, it’s not a relief.  Far from it.  Painting echoes toileting inasmuch as the instant you are perched precariously on the ladder, hoping the paint doesn’t splatter on the floor below, the phone rings.  Of course as soon as you have descended, put the brush down somewhere other than on top of your pashmina and trotted to the phone, they have hung up.  That is if you’re lucky.

This being an election year, should you pick up, the possibility exists that a robotic voice you can totally trust, exhorts you to vote for this or that candidate, for or against a ballot measure or just reminds you that if you don’t share their opinion, you are pond scum. ……. Best to stay on the ladder.

Synchronized Swimming is good training for detail painting.

Continue reading “Things I learned while painting”

Breakfast · I didn't know I could do that · Solutions

Technology is great

We have a friend.  He has a wife.  His wife is a compulsive TV shopper; she likes to shop but doesn’t necessarily ever use her purchases.  In some cases, we are the lucky recipients of her impulsive credit card waving.  She shops, we enjoy.  Everyone is happy.

One of the first things we received from our friend was an electric pressure cooker.  It’s an entry level pot – none of the fancy “push one button and forget it” types of things, but a hugely useful device nonetheless.  The handle sports a wrapping of purple electrical tape to protect my hands.  There is a notch in the handle because the first time I used it, I didn’t secure it properly and, at temperature, it went shooting across the room.  A slightly dinged handle was one of the better potential outcomes, and I am grateful.

Last week I did a pulled pork in it, which was widely praised at our neighborhood picnic for its tenderness.  Pressure cookers excel at tender, but today I want to extol its virtues on another cooking problem – fresh eggs.

If you buy your eggs at the local Shop till you Drop Emporium, you have your choice of several types of eggs ranging from basic white from the massive chicken farm, to the brown eggs (also from the chicken farm, but they’re brown so you think they’re better) to the “cage free” and organic cage free at top dollar.  The one thing all the options have in common is the length of time from hen to store; generally by the time STYD (Shop till you Drop) puts them on their shelf, they are at least 10 days old.

The great news is, eggs last a long time.  They are designed to be kept warm for 3 weeks while the mother broods over them, till they hatch the cutest little things you’ve ever seen.  Really, they’re adorable.  Your 10 day old eggs are quite fine.

Do you know how to test to see if an egg has gone bad?  Put it in a bowl of water.  If it floats, throw it away.  When the egg is laid, there is an air sac formed.  As it ages, the sac fills with air and when there is enough air to float, the egg is old.

All this is interesting and delightful reading, you say, but why an electric pressure cooker and eggs?

7b1bfc7ba64f6326a9e0175ad74c1c0b
From Pinterest – photo credit unknown

So the issue is with some fresher store bought eggs, but especially if you’ve sought out local small farm eggs.  The shell adheres quite well to the freshly laid protective inner membrane and makes peeling a hard boiled egg a pain in the patoot!   For those who enjoy fresh eggs, you probably know not to contemplate a platter of deviled eggs with the whites unscathed by the peeling process.  Until now.

Enter the pressure cooker.  The difference between the altered atmospheric pressure and simply boiling an egg is that the membrane breaks down in the pressure.  I swear to you, your eggs will peel perfectly and evenly every time.  Cross my heart and hope to smell like Sulphur.

Easy Peasy Egg Peeling

  • Difficulty: absurdly easy
  • Print

Place as many eggs as you would like into your pressure cooker.  Cover them with cold water.

Place the lid on and set the timer for 5 minutes.  The timer begins its countdown when pressure is achieved, so the 5 minutes is cook time under pressure.  Depending on how many eggs and the associated amount of water, it can take an additional 5-10 minutes before the timer begins.

As soon as the 5 minutes under pressure have passed, release the pressure by opening the quick release valve.  Keep your fingers away because there will be a lot of hot steam coming out quickly.  Open the lid and transfer the eggs to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

When cool, hit the egg several times against a hard surface to crack the shell, then marvel as the perfect hard boiled egg slides out of its protective casing.

You’re welcome!

Challenges

A small stone

Rose and Xubie June 2011I have written about my friend Ava, who raises grass fed beef and lamb.  If you’ve read anything I have written about her, you know that she cares passionately about the health and well being of farmed animals, and runs her ranch firmly on those ideals.

In January a large portion of their livestock was seized and Ava and her partner Ross were charged with animal negligence.  They have not been to trial or had guilt established, but a special prosecutor brought a civil case against them, seeking forfeiture of their animals.

I will let you read about their case in her own words, but know that I am posting this because the implications for Ava’s ranch are dire, but equally important, are the ranches and farms of hundreds of other small agriculture producers.  You see, if any of the specious charges stick (which all the evidence points to them being innocent), case law is established and will affect ranchers both large and small.

Why are they going after Ava?  Because, most importantly, small ranches do not have the financial wherewithal to weather an extended legal battle.  When SmallRanchA throws their hands up and allows for a default judgment, it is a much easier victory than having to go after TexasSizedBeefProducts, Inc, who have legal defense teams and huge budgets.  The default judgment then allows attorneys to go after Bob’sSmallRanch and then Sue’sSmallGoatFarm and Herb’sLambandPorkPlace, using the law obtained because SmallRanchA couldn’t put up an adequate fight.

So is this an isolated incident and Ava is really actually a habitual animal abuser and worthy of 50 lashes and hot boiling oil?  Absolutely not.  This is happening all over the country to small farms and ranches to the extent there is an activist group which has formed to publicize and fight the growing attempts by [insert villain here] to shut down small agriculture.  Farm to Consumer Legal Defense fund (http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/) is involved in thousands of these cases, and I applaud their efforts.  They are able to help, but only so much and only so quickly.

Right now, today, Ava and Ross are waiting on the judge’s decision on the forfeiture hearing.  The judge has indicated they may have to put up a bond for their animals which could be as much as $100,000.  They have already exhausted everything they have to get this far and are urgently asking for help.

Will you be a small stone, helping David to take on Goliath?  Any contributions help.  The pledgie site went up yesterday and there is already over $1500 pledged for their fight.  Will you help?  Anything is appreciated.

Will you also pass this on to your social media contacts?  We need a groundswell of people who value the hard work small farmers and ranchers put in, so our food is wholesome and nourishing.  If there were 100,000 people willing to give $1, the goal would be met.  If they were willing to give $10, we would only need 10,000!  It’s a worthy goal, it’s attainable and it is URGENT.

Read Ava’s story/donate here:  https://pledgie.com/campaigns/29403

Ava’s blog is here: http://raparadiseranch.blogspot.com/  She hasn’t updated it in a couple of years, but it shows her heart and conviction on well raised animals.

You can connect with her on Facebook:  Ava Denton

Health · positive directions

Things left behind

Facebook is an arguably great tool for keeping in touch with other people. It is also an enormous time sucker, with promoted content and lots of links by well meaning acquaintances, which can occupy you until the trumpets sound and Jesus comes in the clouds. You know what I mean, don’t you?

Skinny mirrorToday, I was sucked into an interesting article about what a woman missed when she lost over half her original body weight. It is a very articulate list of unforeseen consequences and well worth the read, if only to shed insight into the thoughts of people more or less adiposely enabled than you.

Before you think, “well I am not really interested in what fatty has to say,” know that the author is now a personal trainer and contributor to a website devoted to fitness, nutrition and health.