The Fairless experience

The Great New York State Fair is not happening this year. The Fair is such a cornerstone to my year that this pisses me off to no end. I run an easy 8 on the Nikki Minaj rage scale just thinking about it, and as we get closer to the date that would have been I’m sure it’ll start shooting into double digits.

But the time to start planning around its absence is now. Perhaps there are small touches of the Fair that I can have at home, in some small way.

The first problem that comes to mind is that most of the best Fair foods are deep-fried. That’s a pretty tall order in my kitchen. Some things could be baked, perhaps, but I’m wondering if I can justify getting an air fryer. An air fryer can at least handle breaded foods, but battered anything is out of the question. That means no fried mashed potatoes or fried Cadbury creme eggs.

Then of course there’s my favorite thing: steak tips and mushrooms. I could never make steak tips half as good at home, and right now I’m still working through the whole gout thing. Can’t do steak tips. (I’m gonna try poking the bear and grilling a steak sometime soonish, though. In a worst-case scenario I’m gonna ask for a higher dosage of medication, which I think I should be on anyway.)

Chicken pitas: I used to love these and they were a yearly tradition, but they’ve mostly been replaced by the aforementioned steak tips. Thing is I could probably do this decently at home. Same issue with the gout, but a man has to take some risks. Although there’s also the fact that the cats won’t let me eat this in peace. I also used to like chicken spiedies at the Gianelli / Dinosaur Bar-B-Que tent, which is to say I still do but I haven’t eaten them much lately. I think I can work out how to cook up some interesting meat foods without going too far into the danger zone. If I get the grill going soon to make a steak, then I should have the option of cooking some nice chicken by Fair time.

Dippin’ Dots are not going to happen.

Fresh chese curd: maybe. There is a place that sells fresh curd locally, about 20 minutes away but worth the drive. Last time I was up there they were closed when their hours on the door said otherwise, but it seems they may have been closed all week for vacation according to their Facebook page—not a virus thing after all. So maybe this is doable.

Mini donuts: I actually have a mini donut maker around somewhere, but lately I’m trying to drop some weight and this seems like a really stupid thing to do. Also kind of a lot of work. While I expect to indulge a little bit, I think this is a step too far. Buying donuts is probably also a bad idea.

Aside from food, there’s the fun of looking around at new gadgets and tools, spice blends from the Garlic Festival booth, the Pampered Chef booth, the flea market tent… So I think I should devote a big chunk of time to browsing Amazon (I have some gift card money) and maybe Etsy too, for the heck of it. Plus Pampered Chef’s site, obviously. I should look around at things I ordinarily wouldn’t. A lot of miscellany you see around the Fair won’t be in front of me, like various artwork, the DVD booth, miracle glue, mop demos, beef jerky (bad idea: see steak, above), fudge (bad idea: see donuts, above), massage pillows, oils, taffy. At the Fair you also pass by oh so many jewelry booths; while I have no interest in buying any, I miss that bit of sparkle passing by. The Center of Progress building also has that big sand sculpture in the middle, and right around it there’s all kinds of state-office booths and political crap—but I think I can make do without the political crap. I seldom spend a lot on shopping, usually mostly on food, and in this case it’s all about the browsing anyway.

Then there’s the question of entertainment. Truthfully I miss out on a lot of the live non-music shows anyway, because sitting around in the heat can be a bit much, but there’s plenty of interesting stuff to see and even the vendors hawking must-have products can be entertaining. (Closest at-home equivalent: turn on QVC all day. I don’t think I can do that to myself.) I do miss walking by live bands playing in a restaurant’s tent, and can’t think of a good at-home version. I think one thing I should do is binge-watch YouTube channels where people do interesting DIY projects, because that’ll fill some of the entertainment void while also helping fill in the feeling of walking by little works of art: like mini fountains and those wooden bowls that lift up from a flat surface.

I like checking out the Art & Home Center, the art exhibits and also the knitting/chrochet/quilting stuff. Maybe more Etsy time? I can’t figure on buying anything of that sort, but it’s fun to look. And hey, maybe some YouTube channels doing cutesier craft projects would suit that as well.

What I can’t replace is the atmosphere. Walking around and smelling various things cooking, getting that occasional whiff from the barns (not pleasant mind you, but it’s part of the experience), the constant ambient noise from all directions, and the lights at night from all the rides, the vendors, the odd toy going by in some happy kid’s hand. But what I really miss most is being out in the night air with all of those things going on around me, feeling I’m sampling just a small part of an experience so much larger than myself. Sometimes my favorite thing is to sit by the fountain in front of the Horticulture building, or in one of the enclosed gardens in that building, and just breathe it all in. Can’t do that this year, and it’s a loss I already feel deeply.

But I can do some of the rest. Oh yes, somehow I’m gonna have to try.

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The device I can’t have: a rant

I miss a lot of the arcade and home computer games of my youth. A couple years ago I got a Retropie system that really scratched that itch, but there’s a catch: As soon as I finished setting it up and brought it downstairs, I found I couldn’t really use it like I wanted. The USB extension cords I have for the controllers are too cumbersome, and the couch is too far away from the unit to play without them. I can’t play at the hours of the day that are most convenient because if my wife is asleep, I have no way of getting audio. Even turning the thing on and off is a pain. The wireless controllers I have are kind of iffy with it. And bringing it back upstairs is a no-go because gout has been a pretty limiting factor to my life since then.

Compare this to gaming on the PS4: a smooth, easy experience. I have headphones i can plug right into the wireless controller, and suddenly all the audio goes through those instead of the TV. And the controller can even put the PS4 in rest mode and wake it up.

As far as I can tell there aren’t any good solutions to this for Retropie, even good Franekstein-type solutions mixing and matching multiple devices to produce the effect I want. I’ve been looking, and I’ll keep looking, but it’s amazing what isn’t out there.

So I thought: I’d like to investigate handheld retro gaming. An added bonus here is that for anything I can get on eBay, I have a gift card I haven’t put to good use yet that would offset the cost.

The world of handhelds is interesting, but also frustrating. I’ve been watching it for some time because I had interest in these devices for a while, but it doesn’t seem to actually get better, and for reasons I can’t explain. Let me describe what I mean by exploring my current best options. (Before that, though, I need to lay down a few ground rules. The product must have sufficient quality that it’s not likely to fall apart or stop working on me within a few years. It has to be solid and it has to last. It also has to be reasonably priced enough to belong in the conversation. There are devices in the $400 range but that’s so insane they can’t even count. For my purposes, we’re talking around $100 or less, give or take.)

First option: the Odroid Go Advance. It’s had some really good reviews, except for the fact that its availability is crap. You can get it at a good price from the manufacturer if you’re lucky enough to find a time window where they have any in stock; otherwise the only option is paying high markup on eBay. This is currently one of my cheapest options. It’s got decent power in that it can handle things like some N64 titles reasonably well, it has two shoulder buttons, but it has only one analog stick and its screen resolution is poor. (There’s a clone of the OGA called the RK2020, but I’ve seen a lot of complaints about its quality control, so it breaks the ground rules.)

Then there are the RG350 variants: M and P. The original RG350 is a fairly low-powered device, running something not much better than a Pi Zero under the hood. I’m told it can do most PS1 games reasonably well, but it struggles on anything newer. The original model had a pretty poor control layout and there were complaints about its D-pad and buttons, but the RG350M changed all of that: it has two analog sticks with a good position that don’t stick out too far, it has two shoulder buttons, it has a very nice screen resolution, and it has really good build quality. The down sides here are that the RG350M is underpowered for the games its controls should be able to handle, and the M stands for metal which means it’s a bit more expensive—especially on eBay. Then there’s the RG350P (P for plastic), which carries along some of the M’s upgrades from the original but does not have the better screen.

Coming along the pike, we have the PiBoy DMG which is built a lot like a Game Boy, and can run a Raspberry Pi 4 under the hood. Great power there, great screen, but it has only one set of shoulder buttons (you have to reprogram two buttons on the front if you want L2 and R2) and only a single analog stick. It’s also not out till the end of the month and it’s on the high side when it comes to price.

Then there’s the RG351, which looked to be an upgrade to the RG350 running the same chip as the Odroid Go Advance and the same layout as the RG350M/P, so in theory it would have everything. Except, the screen resolution is crap, and apparently the company had some kind of shake-up that’s delayed the thing till the end of the year. Maybe they’ll fix the screen resolution by then, but I doubt it.

And let’s talk about the Retroid Pocket 2 that’s coming out soon. Same chip as the OGA, good screen resolution, and two analog sticks—except not really. The left analog stick pushes out too far, and the right analog isn’t actually an analog stick at all. I hate the control layout that puts the left analog stick above the D-pad, but more than that I hate the aesthetics of the device. it comes in matte pink, yellow, or turqouise, but all ugly.

So where I’m frustrated here is that there seems to be this weird dichotomy where a handheld can have the right controls for later systems, or the power to run them, but never both: and good quality and good screen resolution seem to be rarities all over. The magic formula for the perfect device is out there, but no one has reached out to grasp it and it appears no one will any time soon.

At the moment I’m kind of leaning towards the RG350M. Out of all my options it seems to tick the most boxes, and since I don’t really have plans to do much as far as emulating newer systems, I don’t really need the extra power. I’d rather the cheaper P model for the better price, but not for the crappy screen resolution that comes with it. But I’m still trying to make up my mind.

At this point I mainly want something that’s gonna keep my mind on brighter things when the time for the Fair rolls around, because I’m gonna feel the lack of it profoundly.

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Perkins copycat H.3

I’m still experimenting with pancake recipes, and tried another variation on the Perkins copycat version H.2 I mentioned in my last post. This new test I dubbed version H.3.

I realized that the thing that’s most missing from my attempts is a strong buttermilk tang, which is the result of lactic acid. Theorizing that the 1/4 tsp. of baking soda might be responsible, I decided to cut that out this time.

Results were mixed. Changing the pH of the recipe did, as I predicted, screw with the lift of the pancakes. This doesn’t bother me because Perkins pancakes are naturally pretty thin. However while I think the flavor was slightly improved, it was indeed only slightly.

Further information from Hilditch confirms that the type of buttermilk you use is critical, and it’s better long after its alleged best-by date. In other words, more lactic acid has to be invited to the party.

For H.4 I’m going to cheat. I’ve decided to buy some lactic acid powder from Amazon and mix it in with the Saco buttermilk powder. They supposedly already include some lactic acid, but it isn’t nearly enough. I think that adding 1/4 tsp. lactic acid, and maybe reinstating the baking soda, will produce a result much better than H.3. I’ll probably cut the malted milk powder back to 1 tbsp. as well, but leave the extra oil in place and still keep out any vanilla or sugar. (The vanilla tastes nice, it just doesn’t seem right for the Perkins flavor. But maybe as I get closer I’ll discover I was wrong about that. For now I think it just masks the other variables.)

Next I need to figure out how to stop letting my pancakes get so dark but still allow them to cook through. I’m doing something very wrong there but I don’t cook pancakes often enough to figure that one out.

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Kitchen miscellany

Since I haven’t had a chance to really put together a solid post on cooking stuff, what with my cooking being rather scattered because of the gout, I just have a few notes that touch on some earlier experiments.

First, you may recall my previous attempts to make a steak-flavored popcorn seasoning, based on steak-flavored potato chips I used to love that I can’t find anymore. I’ve pretty much given up (for now) on doing this for popcorn, but I did find a very good mix that worked for potato chips.

Steaky potato chip seasoning

  • 1 part smoked salt
  • 1 part black pepper
  • 4 parts granulated garlic
  • 4 parts MSG

Where 1/4 tsp. = 1 part, I tried that mix in a quart freezer bag filled with original Ruffles. The end result was basically just like the Herr’s steak-flavored chips I used to be able to buy. I think if you used 1 tsp. per part, you could season an entire party-size bag of Ruffles this way.

That said, I still love to use just regular cheddar cheese powder as a seasoning. Put a couple tablespoons of cheese powder in a quart freezer bag, crush the lumps to break them up, fill the bag with Ruffles, seal, toss to coat. Yum.

Now for some more interesting news: Perkins pancake experiments. Hilditch was kind enough to share a recipe that came closer than any I’d previously encountered, but it was a little bit of a miss for me. Still, the potential was there. I’ve been trying to tinker with it, though it’s been a while since I last took a go at it, but this is where I’m at currently:

Perkins copycat pancakes, version H-2

  • 1 cup soft flour (White Lily or similar)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (1/2 tsp. if using kosher salt)
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 heaping tbsp. Carnation/Nestle Malted Milk Original powder

Mix dry ingredients into wet, 1/2 at a time. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour, preferably 4 hours or more.

The key differences from Hilditch’s recipe (which I would term version H-0) are that I doubled the oil, doubled the malted milk powder, and eliminated the sugar and vanilla. In my opinion the sugar doesn’t taste quite right and the vanilla, while nice, doesn’t seem to take it in the right direction to match Perkins. I tried H-0 through H-2 with Saco powder for the buttermilk, but I’ve also tried H-2 with fully real buttermilk and encountered no difference. The only problem I’ve had here is that the real buttermilk I got wasn’t very thick for some reason, and the Saco stuff doesn’t end up too thick either; and I think as a result of the buttermilk not being thick, I’m not getting quite enough of the tang from it that I should be. Perhaps it needs to sit at room temperature a bit to culture.

One thing I’ve wondered is whether the batter is supposed to be allowed to sit at room temperature, or if it should stay in the refrigerator. The only reservation I have against the former is that there’s egg in the batter and I don’t want something like salmonella running wild. However, the cultures in buttermilk should, in theory, prevent that. (Side question: I don’t know if the Saco buttermilk still has live cultures. However the acidity might still work against any bacterial growth.) It’s also possible that the direct addition of some extra lactic acid would basically shortcut the problem of the batter not being quite tangy enough.

I’ve been wanting to try a new variation for a while—nothing specific in mind, just wanting to make these pancakes again and figure out something I can tweak—but it’s a matter of finding a good time to do it. Lately things have been hectic with doctor’s appointments and whatnot, and of course standing for long periods of time takes a serious toll.

For the most part my cooking has been pretty limited. I’ve been making mushrooms now and then because they shouldn’t have an impact on my gout and they’re a nice thing I can enjoy, plus I can sit for a bit while they simmer. Last night I got ambitious and made rice au gratin, which was wonderful and should also serve me well as leftovers for a few days. (Although the fact that it pairs so well with steak, which I haven’t had in a while, was not lost on me.) I’ve also played around with ramen here and there, and I have some ideas in mind for revisiting that vegan fake runny egg yolk recipe but I need to do some ordering on Amazon to make that happen.

Speaking of Amazon, some things have been really hard to get lately. The dried mushrooms I usually order are out of stock, so I’m gonna have to come up with some other option. At least their shipping times aren’t as nuts as they were a couple months ago.

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Lost summer redux

My apologies for setting down the blog baton for a while. Since the whole pandemic thing started, things got simultaneously a bit crazy but also a bit boring around here. I’ve had various things to post about but felt like my next post should really bring more to the table than a life update. I had some cooking stuff to post but nothing felt complete. So it never seemed like the right time, really.

Last time I checked in, I had been officially diagnosed with gout and my condition was sort of hovering on the edge of ugh without ever getting too horrible, as long as I stayed on the prescribed NSAID which my doctor really doesn’t want me on long-term. But not too long ago it was getting even worse so I went in to get some blood work done, and behold! my uric acid level was indeed too high.

About two weeks ago now, I started allopurinol. This is a good thing for me long-term, but short-term it’s been a mess. For one thing, I’m on the lowest dose right now and that will probably need to be adjusted upward, but before that can happen my doctor needs to see how my system tolerates it. In the meantime however, allopurinol often triggers gout to get worse when you first start taking it because it essentially re-exposes crystalline deposits that your body had covered over with proteins and forgotten about, and while they dissolve the immune system goes back into overdrive. So this weekend I went back on prednisone.

It’s a wild ride, really. I haven’t grilled anything yet this year. I have had the occasional steak or burger, but not very often, and I deeply miss having a good teriyaki ribeye right off the grill. Being on pred now, I’m tempted to simply go ahead with it and see what happens.

I’m also in physical therapy again, which is expensive, and I suspect of limited value, but… doctor’s orders.

Meanwhile even when I’ve been in pretty good shape, there is of course nowhere to go. So many places I’d ordinarily want to visit are either still closed down or have been hellish. And I’m gonna miss out on fireworks again, not from heat but because there are basically no events scheduled. There’s a lot to unpack on all of this that I don’t want to get into here. Suffice it to say I’ve been in a low-level state of pissed-offedness for a while.

Now that I’m hopefully on the mend, I’ll try to be a bit more regular again here. I’ve done some more pancake experiments I want to go over, among other things. It’s not all bad news, really.

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The idiots of March

That title would’ve been a lot cleverer yesterday, but oh well.

So this Wuhan virus has really gotten way out of control. I knew it was going to spread everywhere and things would get bad of course, but I was hoping against reason that our very limited ability to keep it in check would be somewhat better than it has been. The way this has impacted Italy in particular is frightening, and I’m praying for folks there.

But of course the real story is all the hoarding and subsequent panic buying. Until recently my local Wegmans wasn’t too badly off in most respects, but I ended up going there Saturday night and it was suddenly a different story. They were out of most bread, pasta (including boxed mac & cheese), eggs, and of course toilet paper. I didn’t check bottled water, although it looked like bottled flavored water was hit. The cheese area was ransacked pretty hard too. The stock of milk was oddly okay.

I truly have great contempt for the people who made all this artificial scarcity happen. In that I don’t think I’m unusual; we’re all feeling that way right now. But in a way I’m angrier at stores that allowed this pillaging to happen when it was clear early on that it was going to. Get your crap together, people, and slap a limit on this stuff the first time you see some jerk loading up 600 rolls of toilet paper in a cart. How hard is that?

Honestly I have no idea how well stocked we are at home, but for the short term things are okay. Well before all the panic I bought one extra bulk pack of toilet paper; we were about halfway through one and I knew sooner or later this kind of crap would happen. But I bought just the one, because I’m not a terrible excuse for a human being.

I think humanity will weather this storm well, but hopefully it changes some attitudes that needed changing and opens people’s eyes about how dangerous a pandemic can get. The Spanish flu was a century ago and it killed a higher percentage of the world population than the Wuhan virus is likely to, but as a society we’ve forgotten how bad things can get. Smallpox was still a thing within my grandparents’ lifetimes, and measles was still going strong when my parents were born, only on its way out because of widespread vaccination.

While I’m not political on this blog, I think sentiment against the antivax movement crosses party lines well enough to be a safe topic. That movement has to die, here and now. The idea that vaccines can cause autism, a developmental condition that to the best of our knowledge happens in utero and has multiple known genetic markers, is idiotic. For as much as the adherents blame Big Pharma for being greedy liars and putting out misinformation, the whole movement was founded by a fraud who only started this circus because he was trying to discredit an existing MMR vaccine so he could profit from a different vaccine he created, until he realized there was more money in fronting quackery, and thereby lost his medical license.

This kind of thing is what we risk if these idiots continue to grow in numbers, and if they continue to break the herd immunity in places that depend on it. Antivaxing as a movement must die. It’s time for everyone who’s sat on the fence on Facebook while their friends posted garbage to get right back in their faces about it. And no, I’m not okay with Facebook and other tech platforms actively censoring the movement, because you don’t combat bad ideas by shutting them up, but by responding with truth. So you, Laura, homeschool mom who sees literally half your friend group posting this crap: challenge them. Mitch, soccer dad in a good school district where an unfortunate percentage of the other parents are ditzy idiots pushing this agenda: challenge them, and while you’re at it challenge the school board to stand up to them.

Future pandemics will happen. But for crying out loud, can we please, please stop the spread of stupid?

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Coronavirus over- and under-reactions

I’ve been seeing a lot of news about the new Wuhan coronavirus, currently named 2019-nCoV, and there are multiple extreme opinions that keep being thrown in my face that need to be confronted. The other day a friend on Facebook posted a “myth vs. fact sheet” put together by an idiot (my friend posts things like this to get discussion going, so it’s not like he bought into it) that said some utterly ridiculous things. So let’s talk about this virus.

Up front: I am not an epidemiologist, doctor, biologist, or anything of the kind. I’m an armchair science watcher who knows what to look for in a BS story and knows how to take news about this sort of thing with a huge pinch of salt. This is the salt. I’m also not going to link to a bunch of sources because honestly I can’t be bothered, but you should be able to find the same info I’m working with.

Continue reading

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Dangerous sunshine

It’s a beautiful sunny day today, but very cold. The sunshine however just hit me with a nasty fit of the spring madness. Which is a problem because as I mentioned it’s cold, but also it’s the tail end of January. There’s a strong temptation to find an excuse to go out and pick up a few things, like bacon. On the other hand, I don’t want to clean the little bit of snow off my car or have to gas up.

Confusing matters is the fact that my ankles and feet have been misbehaving again lately. I think some inflammation got triggered again and it’s throwing me a bit out of whack. I resumed taking potassium supplements, though I won’t know if that’s even necessary until I have blood work done in a few days, and I’m taking a bunch of magnesium to make sure that stays up because I think it got low again. Still keeping up the stretches I’m supposed to do for my Achilles tendon; I think they help but that’s obviously not the whole problem. I’m hoping to get a new prescription soon for the long-term anti-inflammatory that was doing me a lot of good.

Anyway I decided to handle the spring madness by giving in to it, so I’m playing one of my go-to albums for the occasion. Otherwise, though, I don’t know what to do. The hallmark of spring madness is nervous energy that demands to be bled off by getting out of the house and soaking up sun, whether there’s sun or not.

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The McDonaldland cookie search continues

The other night I found some new information in my search to copycat the old McDonaldland cookies, and updated my original post accordingly. I also decided to post on the /r/Baking subreddit to see if some helpful users there could chime in and point me to a recipe with a similar ingredient list, as a starting point.

Apparently though, that sub is crap. If you don’t post food porn, nobody cares.

How am I supposed to track down a cookie recipe by ingredients alone? There are millions of cookie recipes, and unless you know the name of the type of cookie, you can’t even narrow it down.

My next thought is maybe hitting up the bargain books section at Barnes & Noble to find a cookie book in the rather large selection of cookbooks, and if I can’t find one there maybe I can find some in with the regular cookbooks. Maybe one of them will have so much variety in cookie recipes that one of them will be similar to what I’m looking for.

The only thing I know to call these cookies is “high-flour”. Based on the stuff I’ve been seeing online, I have a very, very rough guess that the flour-shortening-sugar ratio is 3:1:1, but no idea how much corn syrup should factor in. Other stuff like salt and “natural flavors” I can just guess, and I can take a stab at the baking powder quantity based on other recipes in general. Soy lecithin is also something I’ll have to guess at, but first I’ll have to order some.

But before all that, I really, really want a starting point. Without a stand mixer, baking is a bigger production for me than it might be for other people who play with recipes.

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What January wants

We’ve come to that weird time of year when my body is in hibernation mode and, despite having some sweets left from Christmas (but not as many as in previous years, thank goodness), I find myself craving other sweets. Specifically, I’m seeking something a bit cakey or cookie-like.

One thing I greatly miss is the classic Keebler fudge sandwich cookie. They stopped making them in the ’90s, then briefly reintroduced them in a more expensive/upscale format (think of the Milano bag) but lacking in the flavor and character of the original. The original cookies had a very nice crumbly texture with a slight salty note that contrasted perfectly with the sweetness of the fudge layer, but the newer version had almost an over-roasted bitterness. Needless to say, when I become a supervillain I will both hold the people responsible for this atrocity to account, and instruct my Ministry of Resurrected Products to get to work bringing back the cookie of old.

In the meantime the main two things I want right now are regular cheapo lemon sandwich cookies, and white cake with white buttercream frosting. I actually requested the latter for my birthday, but ended up with a storebought yellow cake with a raspberry filling—which was still tasty, but did not satisfy my desire for a good white cake, and the icing on storebought cakes is nowhere near as good as homemade.

The main thing holding me back from making such a cake myself is that I’d be the only person in my house eating it. Cake is supposed to freeze beautifully, but for that I’d have to make room in my freezer.

Also you may be wondering: why white cake with white frosting? Isn’t that a little plain? When I was a kid, there was basically no such thing as a buttercream-frosted cake in our house that didn’t involve chocolate: chocolate cake with regular icing, yellow cake with chocolate, or chocolate with chocolate. I love me some chocolate, but one day in college I hit up a bake sale and discovered the absolute magical combination of white cake with white frosting, in a cupcake.

But in the meantime, I’ll settle for lemon sandwich cookies.

This same craving for a cakey texture, not just for the flavors, led me to make pancakes the other night. Ain’t nothin’ quite as wonderful as leftover pancakes; I eat them cold. But also I’ve been drawn to other comfort foods. Such is winter, when our bodies try to convince us to pack on the pounds. And this is another reason I’ve held off on just buying a cake mix, confectioner’s sugar, and the a little bit of shortening I’d need; much as I’d enjoy a good cake, I also want to wait until the little voice crying out for it is much louder. So many times I’ve passed up on junk food or sweets because I knew the little voice wasn’t loud enough, and I think that tiny bit of self-control does wonders.

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