Accessibility runs into money

I’ve reached an unfortunate conclusion: This is going to be an expensive Fair.

I can go to the Fair this year, but walking it is not going to happen. Which means scooter rental. Scooter rental is reasonably priced but it’s going to cost, and I think I’ll have to avoid going on any of the senior days in case there’s a risk of them running out.

On Sunday evening I decided to try going to Wegmans for milk, which involved walking in from the parking lot, to the back of the store (although in hindsight, I’m stupid and could’ve gotten milk from the case up front), and back. I had to walk very slowly and discovered that while my right foot handled it somewhat well, my left foot—which as you may recall is the more recently injured—didn’t like it. It twinged a couple of times if it moved wrong. For the first part of the day Monday, that foot was angry with me, but it did eventually settle down.

So yeah, walking potentially a couple of miles in a day is not going to happen yet. The Fair starts next week and I’m not ready to handle it on my own two feet. I can walk to and from a shuttle bus and get to the scooter rental place, but beyond that I don’t see a lot of success walking distances in my near future. It would be stupid to try.

But accepting that, I get to think about what I want to see, eat, and hopefully find at the Fair.

  • Pickle Barrel Sirloin Tips: A must. I can’t wait for some buttery steak and mushrooms.
  • Mini donuts: Because I can. Supposedly they’ll be in the same spot as last year.
  • Fried mac & cheese: Yes please!
  • Fried mashed potatoes: Also a given. The place that does these does little croquettes on a stick in either cheddar-and-bacon or garlic-and-herb flavors, or they’ll do two and two. Both are awesome.
  • Fried mushrooms: Never gotten them at the Fair, but maybe this year I should. I do love them after all.
  • Hot buttered corn on the cob: Although I love this, I think I should skip it. I won’t have my new tooth till after the Fair, I believe, so I don’t think it’s wise to get corn caught in my teeth just yet while I have the flat metal cap on top of the implant. As it is I’ll have to be careful with the steak.
  • Chicken spiedies at the Dinosaur/Gianelli tent: I do love these, and should set aside room for one.
  • Dippin’ Dots, because I love them.
  • Fresh cheese curd: if available.
  • Bulk candy tent: Actually I plan to skip it this year. I know, sounds crazy. I do love me some candy during football games, but I always overbuy and honestly this stuff is terrible for me. So screw it, no more candy.
  • Interesting spice blends.
  • Cooking gadgets!
  • The miracle tool I didn’t know I needed but now I absolutely must have.
  • Local honey.

I think that covers the big items. The whole walking issue means I’m not gonna be able to volunteer for the vegetable show check-ins with my mom like we usually do every year, but maybe I can catch up with her the same day.

Meanwhile, in the very short term I’m facing the prospect that I can’t watch TV with lunch tomorrow, because our HDMI switch just died (or at least it’s pining for the fjords and I don’t trust it to plug it back in), and unless I get one with car-side pickup at Walmart tomorrow I don’t see that changing. I don’t have a female-to-female HDMI adapter, either, which would be very handy in the short term. Walking-me would go to Best Buy first thing, but I am not yet walking-me again.

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The rewalkening (hopefully)

For those of you keeping score at home, I’m now on the tail end, I hope, of my third injury in a row.

The first injury was an apparent sprain of my right foot, which impacted the outer front quadrant of the foot. The second injury, which I wrote about last time, was that as that foot got better, suddenly it got much worse again: but this time, nearer the ankle. I believe that was due to the strain interacting with a previous injury in which I turned my ankle very very badly a couple years ago in small hole in a dark parking lot.

Right as that was improving, my left ankle decided I’d given it quite enough punishment trying to get around on a cane and/or crutches, and it got nasty on me. My right foot and ankle improved a great deal over the weekend following my last post, but about Tuesday night last week my left foot gave out.

Good times.

As of right now, things are looking up a bit. I’m able to get around a little without the cane, and I’ve been able to spend some extended time upstairs—even though it does not make my feet happy. I got a gel or foam mat for up here, just to help out. It doesn’t help a lot, but it’s better than nothing.

Everything is still a little mad at me and doesn’t want me to stand for long intervals. This is completely at odds with my goal of completely rehabilitating before the Fair, which requires a great deal of walking. But I know I have to push a little bit—just not too much—to get to where I need to be.

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Runny yolk sauce in small batches?

Last night my foot relapsed a bit so it’s been an iffy day, but yesterday before that everything was going really well. Perhaps I overdid it a little, or maybe this was just inevitable. I knew some setbacks would happen along the path to healing, so I’m just gonna roll with it. Fun discovery earlier this week: Undiscovered cat puke on the stairs is way worse when you discover it because your method of locomotion is sitting on your butt and scooting up a step at a time.

That was an unfortunate thing to mention because it ruined any chance of a segue into what I really wanted to talk about.

Last time I mentioned I have some ideas for working out a mac & cheese powder that can be blended with just water. Doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to work on something simple and quick like ramen. But I got to looking into other powders.

It turns out you can buy pasteurized egg yolk powder. This reminded me of a video I saw recently, where it was revealed that you can create a runny yolk sauce by pasteurizing yolks sous vide, mixing with a little salt, and then straining them. This would be amazing on burgers and all sorts of other things. Problem is, you have to store it in the fridge and it doesn’t last all that long (by my standards); and if I used such a thing I’d want to serve it warm, the way runny egg yolks should be.

This whole concept is very dear to my heart. I have a passion for runny egg yolks. When I order eggs at a diner: always over easy. I like to make fried egg sandwiches for lunch, when I have bread in the house (and can stand), and I always go for over easy or maybe slightly over medium. Egg, slice of cheese, bread, and maybe some bacon if I have it already cooked, and that’s some good eats. I finally tried fried eggs on a burger and it takes burgers to a whole other level.

So here’s what I’m wondering: What if I had some of this yolk powder, and just mixed it with a bit of hot water and gave it a few minutes to rehydrate? I could be looking at an instant small-batch runny yolk sauce. And man does that sound amazing. Powdered egg yolks could solve all the problems that I found with the “large” batch recipe: shelf life (no longer an issue if I mix small batches), temperature (I’d be using it “fresh”), prep time, and of course having a bazillion egg whites left over that I’d probably never get around to using.

What would I use it on? Well burgers of course, for one. Maybe it’d make an interesting addition to a grilled cheese sandwich, in between the two (yes of course two) pieces of cheese. (A few weeks ago my wife and I took a weekend day trip to Rochester and ate dinner at Champps, where I had a grilled cheese with a fried egg and bacon in it. It was life-changing.) I think such a sauce would also be amazing on top of ramen, or even mixed in, giving depth to the dish.

But will it work? I have to order the powder on Amazon to find out, and to be honest I want to hold off on any deliveries till I’m in a good position to bring them inside, in case heat is destructive to them. For instance I need butter powder for the mac & cheese experiment, and I’m not about to order that and just let it sit.

(Meanwhile on a related note, I have raspberries—just a few that survived my misguided over-pruning, and I was thrilled to discover them—that are probably ripe to pick but I can’t walk out to pick them.)

It appears that once I’m well again, I’ll have to do a lot of experimenting. However that will likely abut the Fair, and that’s a whole other kind of food experience, so I might end up waiting on all of this till September. Not that I want to, just being realistic here. At least come sometime in September, I should have a tooth again.

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Of cheese powder and crutches

Somehow I’ve managed to sprain my foot again, a repeat of the injury I had just over a year ago during the winter. (And early “spring”, which gets sarcasto-quotes because we didn’t have spring last year. Or this year.) This sucks on a lot of levels, but I’m hoping I’m finally on the mend after getting through the terrible first week. Just like last time, this sprain was so bad a few days in that I was actually concerned it was gout; it throbbed and was extremely painful even at rest, and a couple of (partial) nights it was bad enough to keep me from sleep. I wouldn’t wish this on an enemy.

Just kidding. I’d totally wish this on an enemy. Or those phone spammers. Or that campaign that called for “Christine” last week while this was all going on, after that same campaign said they’d stop texting me. Or on Christine. That’s right, Christine, you stupid stupid piece of garbage, you deserve my injury. But I wouldn’t wish it on, say, some moron I randomly ran across in traffic—except that one guy from a few weeks ago; he knows what he did.

Anyway this foot thing has made cooking quite impossible, and yes I just turned this into a cooking post. HA!

My wife has been gofering dinner, and lunch on the weekends, which has meant an uptick in my fast food consumption. She’s also been doing a bunch of other things that I either couldn’t do all this time, or could sometimes do if aggravating this weren’t such a stupid idea. What I’m basically saying is my wife is awesome, but she doesn’t cook.

I am, at this moment, craving Kraft spirals.

This is one reason I’ve been thinking lately about powders. One of the simple lunch things I can do is take powdered cheddar cheese and make a simple sauce with it, some milk, and a piece of American cheese to smooth it out, then add that to ramen I nuke in the microwave for a great “poor man’s” mac & cheese. The cheddar powder clumps something fierce, although I found using a small strainer like a sifter works like a charm, if you have five minutes to shake it back and forth while the clumps dissolve.

But what if I could come up with a simple cheese powder that I could just add to a little of the reserved ramen water? I managed to find exactly one link online, from The Spruce Eats, about how to make a powdered cheese sauce base. I find the idea of adding onion powder or white pepper to such a sauce appalling to my very soul, and I think the flour would never work without actually cooking this on the stove for a bit, but I thought perhaps something in a non-roux direction might actually work.

Here’s what I’m thinking: the recipe calls for a 1:1 ratio of dry milk powder (nonfat) to powdered butter, which you can buy on Amazon, and just under a 2:1 ratio of powdered cheese to milk or butter. I think it’s reasonable for a nice ramen & cheese to stick with an easier 2:1 ratio. To that, I think adding a nominal amount of sodium citrate would be a wise choice: something very small, like 1/8 teaspoon per tablespoon of the milk powder. That will add some saltiness, so I’d probably forgo any table salt in a first attempt.

(A brief aside: I’ve never tried mixing sodium citrate into a powder-based sauce before, but Kraft uses sodium phosphate in their powder for this very purpose. It doesn’t seem unreasonable that it would retain its properties as a melting salt here and provide a smoother texture, emulsifying the cheese and butter and milk.)

Now if you know Kraft mac & cheese, you know that to prepare it properly (the “classic” way before they frelled up the recipes on the box) you need 1/4 cup each of butter and milk for 3 cups of cooked pasta, in the same 1:1 ratio, but the problem here is that powdered milk is nonfat, because that’s all you can ever find anywhere and it keeps longer; it’s effectively powdered skim milk, and if you make mac & cheese with skim milk you need to reflect on your choices in life. Personally I never buy anything but whole milk for cooking, so that means some fats need to be added back in. To me, this suggests that the ideal butter-powder-to-dry-milk ratio might in fact need to be skewed to something like 5:4.

Therefore, this is what I’d like to propose as a ramen & cheese powder base, in a test-batch size:

  • 1 tbsp. dry milk powder
  • 1 tbsp. + 3/4 tsp. butter powder
  • 2 tbsp. cheddar cheese powder
  • 1/8 tsp. sodium citrate

Blended well with a small whisk, I believe that would make a dandy cheese sauce base to add to freshly-made ramen. It’s probably more than one ramen packet worth of powder, though. As for how much liquid needs to be blended with this to make a nice sauce, I have no idea whatsoever. My inclination would be to start with 3 tbsp. of water for a batch that size, and add more as needed.

I’ve also mentioned in the past that I’ve wanted to come up with the perfect steak-flavored popcorn seasoning, and I think I have an idea there for making the steak flavor actually come out right: beef tallow mixed with tapioca maltodextrin. Combining that with the current powerhouses of smoked salt, pepper, MSG, and garlic powder might bring this home. But I realized also that butter powder might add depth to this as well.

I can’t experiment with any of these things right now, but I can dream. And my stomach can rumble.

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Campaign spam season (Screw you, Christine)

The 2020 presidential campaign is in full swing, and how do I know? Because once again I’m getting spam texts for “Christine”.

I mentioned in a couple of posts in 2016 that this was happening: It started with phone calls, but then graduated to text messages, at which point I figured out what was happening. Some dumb bimbo in New Hampshire either registered to vote or signed up for political activism using the wrong number: my cell number. Which is in the 315 area code for central New York, which as you may be aware is several hundred miles separated from New Hampshire.

Apparently I never mentioned it at the time, but last summer the campaign robotexts started up again. I got two of them for Christine, and both times I tried to respond I couldn’t get anyone to answer me or confirm I’d be taken off a list. One of them was from an activist organization that only identified itself by its initials, and I couldn’t find a phone number for them so I had to use forms on their website to contact them—and even then I never got an answer.

Well, last night one of the presidential campaigns robotexted me, this time with a poll where “Christine” could respond with a number indicating who she supported. I replied, hoping to reach an actual person, that this number was not and never had been Christine’s and please take me off the list.

To their credit, the campaign just sent me a follow-up text message a few minutes ago (18 hours after the fact, but it’s something) telling me they’d opt me out of text messaging. Good. Now if only they could contact whomever gave them the database they’re using, and get Christine removed from it, that’d be great.

My sneaking suspicion now is that Christine is on the NH voter rolls with my number, and I’m screwed as far as trying to find out where she’s registered and how to get my number taken off the lists. So I’m hating pretty hard on this girl right about now, to the point where I struggle not to use much stronger derogatory terms to express it.

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When other developers are all stupid

“All” might be a strong word here before, but… wow.

I’ve railed against this problem before, and I’m railing again. I leave cookies disabled on all websites except by whitelist only. This obviously gets annoying for those newsletter popups you get everywhere, or those STUPID alerts so many websites do because of the stupid, stupid, stupid GDPR. (What a badly worded, poorly executed piece of trash; thanks for nothing, EU. Par for the course for the idiots running amuck in Brussels. No I don’t discuss politics on this blog, but it’s fair to say the morons laying down Internet law in Europe can’t be trusted to so much as flip burgers. Article 11 and Article 13 are both such disasters, I can’t think of a better word to describe their incompetence than criminal. But I digress.)

Anyway, having cookies disabled causes me problems on Firefox. I do, in part, blame Firefox for handling this badly; they really should have these situations fail silently instead of throwing JavaScript errors. But be that as it may, any time a website tries to do operations with something like localStorage, it fails. Many framework or modernizer scripts try to access this, and when they run into Firefox’s security error, the script dies instead of continuing. Again, partly Mozilla’s fault here, but I also put a great deal of blame on the many, many web developers who don’t test for this scenario and apparently aren’t even aware of it.

I mean heck, would I think of it if I didn’t already know about it? Maybe not. But what really pisses me off is that so, so many sites have this problem because of a script that’s shared among many of them. And the developers of those scripts should definitely be aware of this issue. Wrap that access to localStorage or IndexedDB in a try/catch, and everything is hunky dory. Do they do that? NO.


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They stole my drink

Today, I am pissed.

The other day I went to Walmart to pick up a few things and thought I’d get more of the orange Crush water enhancer I like. It’s my current favorite and I’ve been drinking it for quite a while. It takes two squirts for me so it’s not 24 servings as it claims, more like 12, but I still like it. Walmart was, however, out.

Today I went to Wegmans, and this is where I got pissed off twice. First, Wegmans rearranged the store, AGAIN, for no reason. I hate it when they do that. They moved the bulk foods and shrunk them. They moved the drink mixes too, but I finally found those. Here, they had slots only for strawberry and grape Crush water flavors, and both of those were marked “Discontinued Item”.

Discontinued by the manufacturer, or is Wegmans simply dropping them? Either way, someone needs a slap.

Tried Walmart again: All flavors of the Crush water enhancer were out of stock. They had the seemingly new powder singles, which I actually considered—until I discovered those include aspartame, which hates me almost as much as I hate it, and by extension the terrible people who put it in things I want to eat or drink. (And also almost all gum, for some reason. Why can’t gum brands choose one sweetener and be done with it?)

Target was a complete bust.

I’m starting to wonder if the Crush liquid water enhancers have indeed been discontinued. You wouldn’t know it to see it online, except from availability on Amazon which is poor and also overpriced. The manufacturer’s site tells me nothing about this, which makes them less than useless.

I hate little more than when a product I enjoy goes off the market. I still carry grudges over several of them in particular. When I become a supervillain, there will be consequences.

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