AT&T / DirecTV via Internet Has A Brain Fart

So I was watching WestWorld (HBO) after having seen a review of it and realizing that it wasn’t the old Movie I was seeing come around on the HBO menu, but an HBO Series. The two episodes I watched were interesting enough to lead me to think it might be worth it, but I was about 4 episodes in and didn’t have a clue of the various ‘back stories’ they were weaving and a bit behind on the character development. OK, no problem.

I’d used DirecTV on my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet before. It was a bit painful (they run you through way too many images and choices to get to the one thing you want) but generally worked. When “on the road” I’d kept up with Dexter that way. But the Tablet had taken a ‘reset’ since then, so I needed to ‘reinstall’ their “Ap”… OK… so I’ll be 10 or 20 minutes late getting started…

Nope, first I need a Google Login to get the Ap Store to get the Ap to get the show… So about 1/2 hour late… except all those repeated 10 steps to get to the ‘install ap’ choice, and then it didn’t work on Opera, or Pale Moon, or… eventually on FirePhoenix (a FireFox clone) it was OK with the install and I got to DirecTV Ap page in the Ap Store and… “This Ap is incompatible with your release”.. or some such… Welcome To Dependency Hell!.

Sidebar on Google Captchas: On the “set up yet another account you won’t remember page”, Google uses the Capchas from Hell setting. It gave me something like a half dozen in a row. They were not any words I could make out, and the letters were things like a U with the second leg crossed. Is that U, or UT, or T or … Eventually I guess I got one right and it set up… well, some new account that I hope I wrote down somewhere… Something like “DirecTVsucksAndIJustWantTheAp”…

Now I’d kinda sorta thought I’d like to watch this while laying on the couch in the living room, with the spouse doing something else in her lounge chair; that whole ‘sharing time sort of’ thing. But, OK, I’m not going to get sucked into upgrading the tablet, backing up files first, hoping it doesn’t break too many other things that then need to be re-installed, etc. etc. It would be noon tomorrow before I was done..

So I decide to just “hit the Chromebox” that does Video Just Fine for everything else. Youtube. HTML5. Flash. You name it. Besides, Chromebooks are now outselling everything else into schools here. It’s essentially a main stream product now and with lots of focus on assuring video is functioning well. Mine has an Intel CPU too, so no worries about ARM chip and op code issues. I sit down and… back to login to Google / Chrome / DirecTV / Oh God Just … and then to the “need DirecTV Player” as they have their very own player… and it gives the URL from Hell that just hangs… Here it is:

Someone is just trying way too hard to be cute and complicated… OK, I hit the web search and find the link to how to just install their player directly:

What is the DIRECTV Player and how do I install it on my computer?
The DIRECTV Player is FREE software required for watching movies and shows on on your computer. Installation is quick and easy. If you’ve downloaded and installed other software from the Internet, the process for the DIRECTV Player is essentially no different. Once you’ve installed the software, you can start enjoying thousands of movies and shows online, anytime, anywhere.

Here’s a step-by-step for installing the DIRECTV Player for PC or Mac.

What type of computer do you have?


Notice anything missing?

No Linux, so my half dozen or dozen Linux / BSD machines need not apply.

No Android, so my Tablet need not apply (tied to Ap store and the non-compatible releases)

No Chromebox or Chromebooks, so those tens or hundreds of millions of folks need not apply…


No, I’m not going to dig the old HP Laptop Windows 7 out of the “old computers” bin and get into Upgrade Hell with it, too. Just to catch a couple of old episodes of a series I’m not sure I really want to watch long term.

No, far far far easier to just “move along” and forget about trying to use DirecTV / AT&T TV on my 3 main computers. It just ensures that when the present lock-in period is over (or perhaps before and take the penalty – given my present rate of ‘moving off it’ and progress on cord cutting…) I’m not going to renew the “service”.

I clicked the “contact us” page, and got a bunch of phone numbers and snailmail addresses, and a ‘chat’ choice. No “bitch here and be done” email choice…

So, silly me, I clicked it.

I then proceeded to launch / watch RT Russia Today news and a bit of France24 news via the internet. They work fine… DirecTV not so much… Eventually the ‘in queue’ number works down from 16+ to 1 to Me! The conversation follows:

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:Hi, my name is Ashley W. (STK0775). How are you today?

I commence to type. I type really fast. About 50+ WPM on this kind of stuff, sometimes faster. Inside seconds I get:

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:If I don’t receive a response within 2 minutes I will go ahead and end this chat. If the chat is disconnected, you may contact us back or please feel free to visit us online at

I finish the last sentence and hit send on:

EM:I’d be happier if DirecTV actually worked on either my tablet or my Chromebox. It fails to install on both, despite having worked on the tablet a year or two ago. No, I’m not going to upgrade my OS nor get into Browser Wars just to watch a couple of back episodes of WestWorld. It’s easier to just “move on” to all the internet TV that runs Flash or HTML5 and isn’t too cheap or lazy to make their product work cross platform and multi-browser.

Then read the ‘expedite’ line and send:

EM:Saying you’ll “dump my ass” if I don’t type fast enough doesn’t improve the customer experience, either…

Time passes…

EM:BTW, I’m a programmer for a living, have done help desk support, and know just what’s wrong with the support and app design. It’s dumb management choices. Not everyone is on a PC or Mac and Chromebooks outsell Macs and PCs in the classroom now.

More time passes…

EM:Anyone there? BTW, I have a blog and I’ll be posting my experience. Just FYI.

More time passes…

A conversation eventually starts:

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:Can you tell me the exact error message on the screen please.

EM:No, I’m not going to get into a Q&A over something that is never going to work. On the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, that worked but got reset so needed a reinstall, it complains about being incompatible with the release level. On the Chromebox, I get sent off to nowhere (some ‘metrics’ url that hangs) and going to your web site just gives choices to install on PC or Mac. Dumb, that.

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:I will escalate your concerns up.

EM:Thanks, but I’m busy watching TV elsewhere… RT Russia Today news has 700 million viewers at the moment and works on ALL my systems and browsers. I think they are HTML5. France24 news also works everywhere. After I’m done with that, I’ll likely watch yet other non-AT&T product / Non-DirecTV product. BTW, I’m headed to being a ‘cord cutter’ in about a year, given this. I’ve found plenty else. So just escalate and fix it, or count your losses.

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:Do you have any other questions or concerns did you have for me today?

EM:I’m Outta Here… and have written off DirecTV via Internet. IFF you fix it, within the year, I might change, but as of now, other things work and your product doesn’t. Just make sure someone who can deal with it hears that.

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:I will escalate your concern up.

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:Thank you, EM! I’m glad we got that taken care of for you. Again, my name is Ashley and I want to thank you for being a DIRECTV customer and chatting with me today so I could help! I’ll note your account and send a copy of this conversation to your email for you. When you are ready, you can end the chat by CLICKING “End Chat”. Or if you’re using a mobile device, simply use the “x” on the left hand side. If you do have additional questions or concerns you man contact us back or please feel free t visit us online at Have a Marvelous day, and thanks for choosing DIRECTV/AT&T. :-)

EM:Thanks, Bye

So the usual essentially useless ‘help desk’ that isn’t help and just consumes time to tell you, eventually, that doesn’t work. Since I knew already ‘that does not work’ and was NOT going into Upgrade Hell on the Tablet, all I really wanted was to let them know the consequences of their poor ability to support standards based video.

Who knows if it goes anywhere beyond a check box of ‘customer given help and call closed without a trouble ticket’…


There’s a reason for Standards and Backwards Compatibility. The reason is to avoid Dependency Hell and Upgrade Hell and have happy customers who are not forced into upgrade cycles at prime time TV hours… They won’t go there, and I didn’t. There’s way too much of the ‘competition’ that works Just Fine. Heck, I’ve still not worked through most of my ‘starter list’ of stations and aggregators:

I’d been planning to cancel the HBO option on DirecTV prior to the ‘forced upgrade’ from my DSL dying, and now that it’s got a “lock in” 2 year clause (NOT disclosed in the “support call” for the broken DSL…) I’m sort of stuck for the next year, but I’m NOT going to be renewing. No reason. Less as of today…

Oh Well, as they say…

Sidebar on Westworld: The basic plot, near as I can tell it, is a Jurassic Park / Westworld-the-movie mash up. Even has the Grey Hair Scientist who makes it work and doesn’t realize the fail coming as it turns on the ‘guests’ in the ‘park’… The Westworld part is an “old west” stereotype ‘park’ where guests can run wild shooting up robots and doing all sorts of things illegal in the real world with real people (plot line from some other robot movie I saw recently… where those robots also gain sentience… ) With the same ripped off plot of ‘wiping the memory’ at the end of each day so the robots (called “hosts” for some ill described reason) don’t remember the horrors done to them the prior day.

Needless to say, some of the robots start to have fragmented memories of the violence and sexual assaults, and start to have human like concerns… Same plot as that other move, different setting… old west park instead of super-casino-skyscraper… (That movie, who’s title escapes me, ripping off the Robot to Human plot from a half dozen before it, including Millennium Man and others… exploring the boundary between machine intelligence and human is old hat these days… building it is still a bit interesting, though.)

Neither the setting nor the plot will save this show. Both ripped off re-dos. It’s only the particulars of the character development and acting that can make it ‘hot’. I found it “good enough to watch, maybe”, but to get that character angle it really wants you to brush up on the prior episodes… Soaps are like that… With that now out of the question, I’m not seeing the draw anymore…

It does have some “light nudity” in that the robots, er, hosts, are seen in the maintenance shop sitting on stools naked. Artfully positioned cameras making sure it doesn’t violate whatever passes for standards. Oh, and they have a fly fetish. Fly Wrangler on staff, so you occasionally get flies on dead and dying in the Out West shots, and a fly or two crawling over the nudish ones in maintenance. If flies bother you, you are warned.

The staff doing field maintenance use some interesting video effects to imply interesting tech, like a tablet with a 3-d display above it (IF I saw that right). There’s also lots of special effects showing heads on tables with moving eyes while the legs are metal frameworks ending about the knees … shades of about 1950 ‘guy under the table with head up a hole’ special effects… but doubtless done digitally today. Special effects are nice, but they lose their punch after a few days…

Will I miss it? Probably not. We’ll see. It’s not on my “catch up and then watch regularly to see if I get into it” list anymore. Now it’s just “maybe if I’m not busy with other stuff or other channels”… Which, given that it’s on the TV now, and spouse has gone to bed, and I’m not watching it… well, I think that shows how “compelling” I feel it is at the moment.

Besides, Netflix has a few dozen things that I found interesting, but haven’t spent time to watch yet. Oh, and Netflix works on my Tablet and on the Chromebox and didn’t require me to go through Ap Hell nor Update Hell nor Dependency Hell nor… It just worked. Their programmers seem to understand standards based programming…

Well, I’m headed back to the TV tab on the Chrombox, as the news I’ve been listening to as I type, sounds like the video part is interesting… Later.

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Posted in Human Interest, Tech Bits | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Not In My Lifetime – Cubs

OMG! Has Hell become covered in ice? Do we have politicians telling the truth? Has peace come to the Middle East?

Perhaps not those things, but something equally as impossible has happened.
The Cubs are in the World Series…

Cubs reach first World Series in 71 years

By Ray Sanchez and Madison Park, CNN
Updated 5:15 PM ET, Sat October 22, 2016

(CNN)The Chicago Cubs finally ended their 71-year absence from the World Series by pushing aside the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

Long the subject of a so-called curse, the Cubs continued their spectacular season at Wrigley Field late Saturday.
They now head to Game 1 of the World Series in Cleveland, where they will face the Indians on Tuesday.

The Cubs have been a perennial fail for as long as I have been alive, and then some. Now this? What happened? Did someone put a goat in a box seat? Has the last of the cursed players, owners, vendors, whatever finally ‘passed on’ ending the pall? Did they players actually practice to win instead of show?

Somehow I never thought I would see the day that “Cubs in World Series” would be a legit headline…

OK, I’m going to be bold here:

I think it is because my Son has moved to Chicago and my Grandson was born there. A new vitality based on faith, honesty, and good works. (Their church sent a small mission of folks to Chicago to set up a church, thinking it was where there was the most good to be done… in the heart of the beast.) So I put it all down to that. The time for change is now, and the right people are doing it.

Now I know everyone else will have other reasons, and I’m sure they are just as right as I am. But in true Progressive fashion, this answer pleases me more, so it’s the one I’m going with. When The Cubs win the World Series, you can thank me and mine for it.

Heck, who knows, if that happens we’ll have to warn airline pilots to watch out for flying pigs and start withdrawing troops from global bases as world peace will have broken out, turning tanks into tractors… Heck, we can even expect to see Vladimir Putin and Hillary dancing at the UN Ball together…

The world has come unstuck, all is a spinning unanchored swirl, chaos reins in our foundations: The Cubs are in the World Series.

May miracles never end, praise The Lord! (and pass the beer…)

End Note

/sarc; and humor for those needing a whack with the clue stick…

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Posted in Human Interest, Humor | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Egypt – Part 4 Revolution Redux?

Watching France24 and wandering around their web site, there was this story about Egypt:

Signs of dissent, desperation amid food shortages and rising prices in Egypt

Latest update : 2016-10-16

Despite a widespread government crackdown on dissent, some Egyptians are resorting to drastic measures to express their desperation over the food shortages and double-digit inflation that have made many of life’s necessities hard to come by.

Nearly six years ago, a frustrated and destitute Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself ablaze, sparking a series of popular revolts across the region now collectively known as the Arab Spring.

Following on the heels of Tunisians, Egyptians took to the street in January 2011 and succeeded in overthrowing President Hosni Mubarak, the repressive military dictator who ruled the country for almost 30 years. But whereas Tunisians managed to build a functioning, if flawed, democracy in the aftermath of their revolt, Egyptians today find themselves under an even more repressive military regime coupled with dwindling food supplies and skyrocketing prices. The price of rice has gone up by 48 percent over the past year while the cost of cooking oil – which is increasingly hard to find – has gone up 32 percent.

And despite a draconian clampdown on dissent, Egyptians are increasingly expressing their desperation.

On Saturday, a 30-year-old taxi driver named Ashraf Mohammed Shaheen self-immolated in front of an army centre in Alexandria. According to press reports citing witnesses, he criticised the government and rising prices before dousing himself in gasoline and setting himself alight. He suffered burns on 95 percent of his body and was rushed to a nearby hospital. News of the incident spread quickly on social media under the Arabic hashtag #Bouazizi_Egypt, a reference to the Tunisian vendor who took similarly desperate measures nearly six years earlier.

Gee… haven’t we seen this movie a few times already? Has nothing been gained for all the suffering and strife of the first couple of turns on the wheel?

Shaheen’s desperate act followed an interview with a tuktuk driver that went viral this week after he spoke for much of the country in expressing his rage over the dire economic situation. The unidentified driver slams the government for spending millions of dollars on lavish ceremonies and mega-projects while ordinary people suffer.

“Before the latest presidential elections [in 2014] we had enough sugar, enough rice, and we even used to export it. So what happened? Where did the sugar go?” he demands. “They waste our money and spend it on so-called national projects, which are useless, and education in Egypt is very bad, even worse than you can ever imagine.”

“This country will rise if there is enough care for education, health and agriculture to provide us with food,” he says.

The interview was aired on the private, pro-government Al Hayat television channel on Wednesday evening and immediately went viral, hitting 6 million views on the channel’s official Facebook page in less than a day, according to Al-Ahram newspaper.

Al-Hayat quickly pulled the video, but by then it had been uploaded elsewhere. On another Facebook page the video racked up 2.2 million views by Thursday night, according to the Associated Press. By Sunday that number had risen to 4.4 million, with the video being shared more than 230,000 times.

They have that video in the original article and it is well worth clicking over and watching it. A regular ‘man in the street’ who drives a tuktuk – one of those almost miniature truck / car with a motorcycle sized engine in it and maybe a top sometimes…

The host of the show that aired the footage has since left for what the network is calling a three-week “personal vacation”, according to Egyptian media reports.

I guess he wanted more “time with the family”…

Rachel Scheier, editor-in-chief of Business Today, an English-language monthly magazine based in Cairo, told FRANCE 24 that the tuktuk driver merely echoed what she has been hearing on the streets. “People in Egypt have been getting steadily poorer since the revolution, and in the meantime prices have gone crazy,” she said.
“After Morsi was removed there was a feeling of goodwill and hope,” Scheier said. “But six months ago there was a palpable shift … All the government does is talk about these mega-projects; meanwhile, people can’t find enough sugar or cooking oil. You can’t buy basic foods at a reasonable price anymore.”

Gee… isn’t something just about like that happening in Venezuela?

And isn’t Europe headed that way, though more slowly and more ‘patchy’, with nations like Greece and Cyprus in the lead, France and Germany catching up more slowly…

Maybe it’s time to reconsider that whole “Government Knows Best” and “Socialism, that’s the ticket, this time for sure!”

If printing money and zero interest rates were able to fix anything, Europe would be thriving, Egypt would be a paradise, and Japan would be rolling in 12% growth.

They aren’t, so it isn’t.

Calls for protest on November 11

Over the weekend another video surfaced on social media sites of a woman blaming the army for the rise in food prices – a brave move in a country where even the slightest hint of criticism of the ruling regime can land one in prison.

“What does it mean that the army says it will subsidise red meat?” She demands. “Why does the army control electricity? Why do they control gas? Why do they control the sewers?”

A Facebook page called Revolution of the Poor has been calling for mass protests on November 11, but it remains to be seen if such demonstrations can go forward in the current climate of repression.

Remember that the Army in Egypt has been considered a guarantor of the people when governments get too draconian… and here we have people getting fed up with them, too. If Central Authority could make economies run just dandy, Egypt would be thriving, since little is more Central nor more Authority than Military Control.

“On the one hand, people are angry and there’s palpable discontent,” Scheier said. “On the other hand, I don’t think anybody thinks the military government is going to allow this protest to actually go anywhere.”

And the public simply may not have the stomach for another popular uprising.

“Things can change quickly in Egypt – so perhaps November 11 will surprise us all. But as of yet, it doesn’t seem like there is a lot of momentum behind them,” Hellyer said. “I think that is testimony not to the idea that the population is not hurting – it is hurting via the economic pressures – but that the space for political organisation has shrunk, and that the population is less inclined to go down the route of mass protests anyway after the tumultuous period of the last five years.”

So let’s see, we have an 11/11/2016 protest scheduled, Egypt about to erupt again, rampant inflation and a collapsing economy. In Venezuela we’ve had similar protests, rampant inflation, and a collapsing economy. Care to place bets on their collapse, what with oil prices staying low, Saudi pumping a lot, and their main customers not interested in buying as much?

Then the Russian Fleet is steaming across the Mediterranean toward Syria. They already have advanced air defenses in place and are busy helping Assad retake his country, while ignoring the USA and NATO, and while cutting deals with Turkey (who has expressed interest in their former Ottoman Turkish Empire parts of The Levant…)

Oh, and don’t forget Saudi Arabia borrowing, what was it, $17 Billion? to fund a nice little religious war in Yemen against the Shia, while Iran has $150 Billion new from the USA to buy toys to support the other side, and put their ships off the coast of Yemen in the grill of the US Navy.

During all this, Obama is playing golf and campaigning for Hillary; while the Trump & Hillary show is more interested in sex stories and email demonstrating corruption for a price with $White $House $Favors $For $Sale $Soon! from Hillary and Trump interested in USA Economic Navel Gazing…


I’d go pour a glass of wine but the box ran dry yesterday… It’s been a hard week in the International News Flow.

IMHO, it will be a miracle if we don’t have a hot war with the destruction of a few more nations on a front running from Tunisia through Libya and Egypt, Gaza, and on to Turkey through Syria, Iraq, and Iran by Proxy; and with the USA and Russia taking hits and trying NOT to shoot down more than a couple of each others planes.

Frankly, it all is starting to remind me of W.W.I and the only thing I can’t figure out is who is Archduke Ferdinand this time…

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Posted in Political Current Events, World Economics | Tagged , , , , | 31 Comments

East Coast Attack and Musical Escape

So there was a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack today mostly directed at East Coast sites (Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and using the I[di]OT Internet Of Things for the attack (using devices like web cameras and such that have poor and static defenses) as the toolz to do the attack. OK, it could be something truly evil, or more likely since it was very focused on East Coast Money Makers an attempt at “education by demonstration” to get those of TPTB to actually listen to “folks like me” when we say things like the Internet Of Things is a Very Bad Idea or that “if it doesn’t NEED to be on line, don’t PUT it on line” or even just “don’t f-ing use Microsoft and Lenovo Damn It!”…

Who knows the motivation… yet there it is.

OK, Larry and Phil need a h/t in “Tips” for discussing it. You can read their names just by hitting the tips thread and reading starting here:

So this thread is about that, the attack, and about the general nature of all things tech, and about the culture of those of us who fight the cyber war Every Single Day… I’ve spent way too much of my life in it. The Necessary Paranoia shows in my postings on computer security and how I constantly am on the move from OS to OS (Operating System) and from device to device and from browser to browser. A constantly moving target…. At least a dozen browsers on at least 4 hardware platforms on at least a half dozen different OS types…. Paranoid? “I’m not paranoid, I’m the Systems Admin., they ARE out to get me!!” is the pro forma response….

When you hold “The keys to the city” with full root privilege everywhere, AND know how to break into all sorts of “impossible” things, well, lets just say it gives you a certain “different perspective” on things along with a giant target you know is on you at all times.

God I want those contact lenses ;-) (That as someone who is already ‘startlingly blue’…)

Not too surprisingly, as Guy Geeks outnumber Girl Geeks about 4 to 1, I’m in love with that girl… (No Worries, guys fall in love about twice a day… we learn not to act on the impulse… well, most of us do unless we are named Clinton…) She’s a natural brunette I think. There’s nothing quite as hot as a brunette in blond dress, don’t know why, but if you look at iconic “hot blonds” in the media, many are not natural blonds. Go figure… then again, is blue a class of blond?…

For those not Geekly Inclined, many of the phrases in that song are related to Geekly Things. “Rip It” being ripping DVDs and CDs to get free music. Re-write it and burn it being what you do daily. Drag and drop? Do I need to explain? Break it fix it? Day in the life. Being “up all night” being part of the turf… The ‘working harder’ and ‘make it better’ is the whole gig…

Yes, I’m “way over the top” fond of this video… even though they are musicians and not real geeks… It’s the thought that counts…

The thing being “covered”:

My “old college roomie” is teaching robotics to high school kids in his retirement. I’m preparing for the ‘recovery from the collapse’ as a bit of a retirement hobby. The Political Class and TPTB can’t STAND that they are utterly dependent on systems WE built and control (as we are not fond of them and the abuses they use these systems to force on ordinary people). Thus the incessant “cracking” of their email. Here’s a clue: YOU TPTB despise us and we know it. So “we” arrange for your most necessary communications to be ‘weak’ and ‘accidentally’ ‘hacked’ by ‘that bad guy over there’… And, most importantly: There’s not a DAMN THING YOU CAN DO TO STOP IT.

We are Anonymous and we own you.

Hey, it’s a cultural thing… you are sociopaths with high social need rank and we have near zero social need strength and are altruists.

Why does Socialism fail? Because “people like you” gain ‘power’ and ‘authority’ and people like us ‘arrange for you to fail’… We blow smoke up your skirts and you think it is praise. All the while that shiv in your back that came from nowhere was a complete surprise to every one but ‘folks like us’… so “Ooops I did it again”

We puff you up for our own gain, but then you think we really believe in your “cause” or buy all that BS you spout at us.


We just know that if we smile at the right times you buy it.

So, Ms. Hillary, please note that you depend on us, those “geeks” you despise… us of the Deplorable Class… and we know it.

You think us stupid and unaware, and we let you…

but don’t ever confuse sweet words with agreement…

Dear Secret Service and NSA and other TLA’s: The following is solely political speech directed at the general power structure and political class and not, in any way, to be thought of as an intent to any action in The Real World or directed at any individual person. I have no desire nor interest in anyone having any bad experience, nor certainly anything involving bodily harm let alone death. (One might ponder a moment about the current legal circumstances that require that disclaimer…)

Please please please, do not push us Deplorable’s too far…

You may not like the result…

Just sayin’ you might not like what your maid thinks…

Se podría pensar que usted es más deplorable que ella … no?

Now I’m not a Texan. I’m only an honorary Texan as I married into a Texan Family. But I take my responsibilities serious like. My Uncle Ken tol’ me that “if you eva’ do anythin’ to hurt that little girl, I’m a gonna hunt you down an’ kill you sohn. Welcome to the family…” now him, being a retired guard from a Federal Prison, kinda impressed me. So I take my responsibilities as an Honorary Texan right serous like. And “anythin’ to hurt” her I interpret to mean letting a run away Federal Government screw up the world, sell out to Soros, and generally be, well, Clinton Like in their view of Law and Order, to be a ‘harm’. So I suggest you think on that a bit.

Jus’ sayin’…

When you are looking down at us, just remember you need us much much more than we need you, and we are much brighter than you think.

We let you ‘take power’ so we don’t have to deal with the shit that is day to day politics and ‘international affairs’ so we can do important things like listen to music and spend time with our children and grandchildren. Do not confuse that with any idea that we think you competent or that we think your ‘decisions’ have merit. All we really want if for you to not screw up too much and kill our kids in stupid wars. Even that, you can’t get done right…

So just realize one off-tune flute or baritone player, and you are in the dust bowl of history. Just sayin’… maybe actually thanking us for what we do, or at least not pissing on us, and you might not have the Leaks From Hell….

If not, well, we can play both sides…

I ought to have been an oboe player… or maybe a Blade Runner…

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Posted in Arts, Political Current Events | Tagged , , | 30 Comments

More Canning & Soup

I’ve collected some various links and results from my efforts to make home-canned soups. This is a place to collect them so I don’t have a half dozen tabs sitting open. It will be a bit disordered as there isn’t an obvious way to organize the bits. The only real “theme” is food and canning.

The Philippines Grocer

Yesterday I went to a nearby Philippines grocery store. Talk about your pleasant experience! They have a variety of interesting fruits and vegetables, all in fresh and attractive condition. They also have a fish section that is to die for. Not all that surprising, really, since their name is Seafood City Supermarket. The top page for their site has an annoying popup ad to get your Personal Identifying Information in exchange for a customer loyalty card, so here’s a N. California Locations landing site instead:

They have locations in other States as well ( I don’t know about other countries ).

So back at the fish: In addition to several long cases of various frozen fish and prepared fish products (breaded, sauced, etc.) they had about 60 linear feet (as a rough guess) or 20 meters of iced fish of all sorts of kinds. Mostly focused on the species found in the Pacific, as you would expect from a store selling nostalgia for ‘home cooking’ from the Philippines. Prices were about $4 / lb for most types for whole fish (so expect to remove heads, scales, etc. yourself and make fish stock…) That’s cheaper than most meats and all fish at the local American brand name grocery stores, and the fish looked great. Clear eyes, no smell. One downside: I need to learn what to do with a half dozen species of fish I’ve never seen or prepared before. Some, like Pompano, I’ve heard the name and seen in Florida. Others, no clue. They even had “Baby Albacore” that looked to be about 9 inches long (20 cm). I suspect you could make an interesting sushi from them.

Much of the rest of the store concentrated on things and brands not available elsewhere. From canned Mangoes (that we had for desert last night) to the “Banana Sauce” that is a ketchup substitute (why I went in the first place) to more kinds of packaged snack food than I could expect, that I’ve never seen before, made from all sorts of fruits and vegetables not common here. Interspersed were a few traditionally American brands that have made it into the Filipino consciousness, or at least their diet. A whole store full of new tastes to explore!

Background music was Tagalog {something} singing… At first a bit of a shock, but after 5 or 10 minutes I found it enjoyable. Hints and overtones of Japan / Asia, mixed with what I suspect was the universal theme of love and loss and love again. At the checkout, a Tagalog conversation between clerk and the lady in front of me, with odd bits in English, like the changes as “x Dollars and y Cents” with English numbers. The clerk shifted seamlessly to somewhat accented English with me, I asked about the Tagalog vs Spanish in the Philippines and she said they were about equal… and was surprised when I shifted to Spanish ;-) Tri-lingual clerks, nice.

I’ll be back, often. I have a whole fish section to work through and a half dozen fruits I’ve never seen before (Dragon Fruit?) to sort out. Not to mention the dozen and one kinds of fish sauce and stock…

The canning hook? As I go through a lot of kippers and sardines, on my todo list is to try making my own… and that means starting with a good source of fresh fish cheap.

Banana Sauce

OK, I got two different kinds. At $1.30 / bottle, not a big deal. First off, I like it. Second, it isn’t ketchup. It looks mostly like ketchup, but has a glossy gelatinous finish. Then there’s the chili. I read ‘chili’ on the bottle, but didn’t expect as much as was in it. One brand was more hot sauce than ketchup. A vaguely ketchup like spicy thing that might go well on tacos or on bland beans instead of ketchup, but unless you put chili sauce on your burgers, not going to be a big hit on them. (IF you DO like burgers with Chilis, go for it!) That was the Jufran brand. The UFC brand “Tamis Anchang” over “Banana Sauce”; was also spiced, but less strongly. A mild pepper bite mostly noticed in the afterglow. I’d be happy with it on beans, french fries, whatever – the spouse would not as she avoids peppers…

My main takeaway from this is that it is well worth it for me to try making my own “Banana Ketchup” but with lower levels of chili in it. The spices make most of the ketchup flavor, and I suspect that using Plantains would make for a very close approximation. The Jufran brand lists “banana flavor” as one of the ingredients (just after titanium dioxide to make it less gelatinous looking and more ketchup like opaque) so leaving that out makes the UFC brand a bit more ketchupy and less sweet / fruit. All of which implies plantains for even less banana flavor, loose the chilis, and with the right spice mix, it could be a decent ketchup replacer. I’ll be trying the UFC brand in a meatloaf (and lowering the pepper in the recipe) and report back later. Not having meatloaf due to both the beef and the tomatoes has been a real bother. Now I’m happy to try turkey or lamb meatloaf using banana ketchup… (The spicy one reserved for use with BBQ, pulled pork, and as a base for BBQ sauce…) In short: I’ve got a nice potential work around for many of the limitations of avoiding tomatoes, especially in the realm of spicy things like BBQ and baked beans and such. Ought to go well as pizza sauce too ( I’m getting tired of pesto, ranch dressing, and Alfredo pizzas…)

BTW, having found directions for canning meatloaf, I’ll be trying that with this sauce meat combo too. It is easier to deal with a cup serving size of meatloaf than with a 5 lb loaf and no freezer space left!

So, the moral: Find your local ‘ethnic’ markets and give them a visit. There’s a whole world of flavors out there just waiting for you!

Walmart Where With What?

So having toured several local Walmart stores, I find I have to go to three of them to get the various things I want. Sigh.

One, in Milpitas, has Tortillas without hydrogenated oil. The Olé La Banderita brand. I’ve also found tortillas without hydrogenated oils at Sprouts (who seem to always be out of stock when I’m there) and at Trader Joe’s (who’s house brand is fine, but I’m not always at Joe’s). This one also has a nice large canning section (off near the rugs, and soft goods, go figure) where I got more pint jars and come Citric Acid to raise the acid level of some of my soups. I made a vegetable barley that was OK, but a bit ‘muddy’, where adding a tsp ( 5 ml ) of lemon juice after warming ‘brightened’ it nicely. Note to self: Add acid to canned barley soups ;-)

Another, in San Jose, has the Naan Bread that I use as a base for pizzas. Works great. The size is about 9 x 8 inches (size of spread large hand plus a bit) and just about right for a pizza-for-one. Spread a Tbs or two of sauce, top, bake in a 400 F (Hot) oven for 10 to 12 minutes, cut and serve. I make two at the same time so the spouse and I each have our own favorites. She likes ranch dressing (not too much… just a thin layer of about 1 Tbs to 25 ml) sausage, pepperoni, olives and shredded cheese mix. Occasionally mushrooms and / or chicken bits too. Me? I really want traditional marinara base, so I’ll be working with that banana sauce to make an analog. For now, I just accept that 1 – 2 Tbs ( 15 – 30 ml) of tomato sauce is not likely to make the arthritic joints act up… at least not for long… Then pepperoni and olives and cheeses and I’m set. I’m looking to add some mushrooms and sliced onions for variety at some point, but only when the ‘left overs’ can go into canned soup the next day. (Oh, and this store also has the sunflower seeds the birds and squirrels like ;-)

Yet a third is nearer to me and has most of what I need most of the time. So I’m in a cycle of going to 3 different Walmarts over the course of about 2 weeks to keep various things stocked. (Or hitting Joe’s for the tortillas and a few other odds ‘n ends, and Sprouts for the better vegetables and variety Walmart just doesn’t have… Oh, and they have nice refried beans in cans, including one with Jalapeños. I’ve got one of those things that lets you bake a tortilla into a taco salad shell (10 min at 400 F), so add some heated refritos, some sauted onions and chorizo or chips of a polish sausage, spice to taste, top with butter lettuce and shredded cheese mix, and put a few olives on it; yum!)

Then as needed I’ll go to other markets. Safeway has lamb at a decent price with good selection (cheaper than Walmart! that is packaged somewhere else and shipped who knows how far). The local Bargain Market has ‘whatever is overstocked’ and not moving somewhere else, yet has chicken at decent prices, even got a frozen whole chicken for $3.99 or so. Since I like to keep one in the freezer, that’s ideal. It was tasty too, and specifically does NOT contain all those strange chemical brews being injected into turkeys and chickens these days. (Feet and feather soup? No thanks!… frankly, to my nose, the ‘broth’ does smell of wet feathers… I had a bad experience ‘wet plucking’ a pheasant one long Saturday and that smell sticks with you… so I refuse to buy any bird with the micro-type ‘broth x%’ on it..)

Oh Well… Since the Milpitas one is near the Filipino market, it will be a weekly or alternate weeks stop anyway. I also got a dozen “Anchorglass” brand pint canning jars for $1 less than the Ball / Kerr brand. Since Ball tried to make a semi-monopoly by buying out Kerr, I’ve gone out of my way to buy alternative makers products. Harvest Brand, Mainstays lids (all have worked fine, BTW). This was the first I’d seen Anchor in this area, so needing more pints for more soups, bought them. They don’t have the brand embossed on them like Ball / Kerr or even “Better Homes and Gardens” that I found at Target in Florida IIRC. (Nice fat jars and pretty, but they have a bottom too big to stack… so my BH&G jars go on the bottom layer of any stack in the shelf…) The lack of embossing makes them smooth (so a bit more slippery when wet) but also displays the product better.

So, the point: IF you shop Walmart, shop various Walmarts. Each has a different product mix. Especially if you have ‘ethnic’ neighborhoods, the particular products can vary a lot.

Rice & Thick Stuff

So I’m canning some soups with a little added rice. About a TBS ( 15 ml ) per pint. If you look on the Purdue web site, or the USDA, you will be admonished to never ever think of canning rice (or really any thickener like wheat in sauces or gravies). Yet folks have been doing this for decades. Looking into ‘why’, it comes down to two worries and no testing. The worries are that it might shift the pH away from acid and it might change the thermal flow such that the time would be too short. Then the fact that the USDA hasn’t worked out and tested a zero risk ever process means you are not supposed to use your brain, being dependent on Government for all permission to do anything… (This, from the people who banned prosciutto ham as ‘risky’ despite millennia of use in Italy…)

OK, my approach is pretty simple. We have “approved” recipes for neutral pH foods, like meat, that come in solid chunks. Heat flow through a solid chunk is far far worse than in a soupy liquid with a few rice grains floating in it. So “when in doubt” I start with the times and pressures for solid pH neutral bacteria loaded meat, birds, and fish… Seems to work fine for me, and for the thousands of others doing it on the internet. Buy you must decide for yourself what’s safe and what isn’t based on your foods and processes and trust in the USDA.

With that, I decided to look into canning rice a bit more. I found some folks canning rice AS rice. Golly. I tried it, and it does work, but the rice is gummy and not fluffy. OK for doing a rice pudding, I’d expect, and tasty with milk and sugar on it, but not something I’d want under Turkey Tetrazzini unless it was an emergency, fuel was scarce, or I just could not wait 20 minutes for the rice steamer to finish.

The good thing: I found a forum where someone actually did an instrumented test, by way of proving another poster was ‘not safe’, that indirectly does find what is safe:

CAUTION, Elizabeth’s recipe for canning rice may NOT kill C. botulinum.

Commercial canning use a point system (F-values) for heat treatment to assure the contents of a can are sterile. The minimum points are 4.0 for storage below 25c/77f and 12.0 for storage up to 40c/104f.
Ref. href=” ” target=”_blank”>

Following Elizabeth’s recipe exactly, except with my pressure canner set to 122c/251.6f, about 16 psi. I took temperature readings from the center of the pint jar, in the cold spot, during cooking and got the following results.

It took 35 minutes cooking at 122c/252f for the center of jar of rice to reach 121c/250f Note Results summarized, actual times where taken of each 1 degree change. c.o.j = Center of jar

Vent 7 minutes, c.o.j = 87c/188.6f
Reach 122c/251.6f , c.o.j = 106c/222.8f
10 minutes at 122c, c.o.j = 111c/231.8f
15 minutes at 122c , c.o.j = 113c/235.4f
17 minutes at 122c, c.o.j = 115c/239f
Cool down 2 minutes, c.o.j = 114c/237.2f
3 minutes , c.o.j = 112c/233.6f
5 minutes , c.o.j = 109c/228.2f
7 minutes, c.o.j = 106c/222.8f
9 minutes, c.o.j = 104c/219.2f
11 minutes, c.o.j = 102c/215.6f

The total points (F-values ) from my test where approximately 2.5 which is far less than required to reach minimal safety in sterilization.

Read more: Pressure canning rice

I’v bolded the bit where he gives the time to actually get the center of the rice to 250 F. 35 minutes.

OK, so the poster had too short a cook. Make it 35, you reach the botulinum kill temps. Got it…

Somehow I’m not going to worry about it for a liquid soup that does NOT set up to a rice brick so continues to convect, and is cooked for 1 hour 15 minutes…

The Soups

First off, I made a very nice Scotch Broth. I used 2 TBS each ( about 30 ml ) of chopped Carrots, Celery, and Onion, and added 2 TBS of raw chopped lamb from a shoulder chop. Then put 1 TBS ( 15 ml, maybe 20 mounded ) of pearled barley. Add one “not-beef” bullion cube from Edward & Sons that I got at Sprouts grocers, and filled to the inch & 1/4 head space line with water (just about the middle of the shoulder curve and 1/4 inch below the lower thread ring). Processed at sea level at 10 to 12 lbs (gauge wandered up a bit when I was out of the room for a while…) for 1 hour 15 minutes for pints.

Nice tasty soup. In the future I intend to try it with 1/4 tsp of lemon juice, then 1/2 tsp (about 2 and 3 ml) and see if that ‘brightens’ the flavor. Eventually I’ll find out how much citric acid crystals to add for the same effect if the lemon flavor is too pronounced. Being made with tomatoes in the mix would do the same, but I’m avoiding tomatoes due to it making my fingers creaky with arthritic effects (takes a nearly daily consumption and about a tomato a day on average, but…)

Then I made a very nice Turkey Rice soup. Here I made two variations. One with white rice and one with brown. White rice does tend to break up into mushy little bits. The soup is still fine, but just not so much ‘grains of rice’ as ‘cloud of rice bits’. The brown rice worked much better as the hull holds it together more. At one TBS carrots, onions, celery per pint jar, it’s a bit thin. At two, a bit chunky and the broth a bit strong. I suspect 1.5 (or about 20 to 25 ml ) would be ideal. Again, one tsp ( 5 ml ) of rice. I used several bouillon cubes for the broth, and I’m still finding out which works best. The Edward & Son’s Not-Chicken worked nicely (gives a vaguely bird flavor without putting chicken flavor all over your turkey soup…) while Knorr Chicken did work, in a sort of unclear what bird flavor way. I’ve also made some with a vegetarian vegetable bouillon, but not tasted it yet. I may also try 1/2 or 2/3 of a cube per pint in a future batch. This batch, with so much solids in the jar, is a bit strong on the broth flavor. Then again, with the rice being a bit thick, I cut it with a bit of water in the warming and that worked nicely. A very similar soup made with Knorr chicken and chicken thigh meat was also very nice. IMHO, just use brown rice… unless you only have white available and don’t mind a cloudy mushy soup.

For the future, I’m also going to try ‘brightening’ with a bit of lemon juice, citric acid, or even vinegar.

Some links:

Starts off with the obligatory warnings that you will surely die a horrible death if you do ANYTHING that isn’t approved by The Government first and this is committing suicide to even think about it… Then proceeds to say:

I can hear you screaming now “You cannot can rice in your soup!” Well, yes you can, it is just not recommended by the USDA. In fact, there are a lot of things that you can preserve via canning that the USDA does not approve of. Primarily, because the risk of food poisoning is higher if you do not follow proper sanitary procedures and or techniques. So heed my warnings, if you decide to can soup with rice, you do so at your own risk however minimal it might be.

Having said that, people have been canning rice in soups for many years without any problems, you just have to be careful. I always can my soups with dry uncooked long grain rice. Something you have to be aware of is that dried rice, generally absorbs 2 to 3 times it’s volume of liquid when cooked. The container (pint or glass jar) has a limited amount of room for the expansion of dried foods such as rice, and beans when they cook. Therefore it is important to measure the amount of dried rice you put into each pint or glass jar before adding the liquid. In my recipes, I use 2 tablespoons of dried long grain rice for a pint jar, and 4 tablespoons per quart jar. You can put less rice in the jar, but never more or you run the risk of having jars that overflow or not to seal properly.

I know when you look at this amounts of rice used in these recipes they appear insufficient, but I promise you that these amounts are accurate for safe and reliable canning of rice in soups. Rice like many grains, will continue to absorb liquid after it has cooked, and in most cases the rice will absorb almost all the liquid in the jar if you use the recommended amounts of dried rice (2 tablespoons per pint, 4 per quart) in each of these recipes.

I cut that back to 1 TBS per pint and like the result as a ‘ready to eat’ soup. 2 is a nice upper bound for a more ‘condensed’ soup style.

They also have some very nice pictures of the ingredients ‘layered’ in the jars. I, too, put the vegetables on the bottom, meat and rice on top, where they can more easily NOT clump together in cooking.

Chicken and Rice Soup (Pint Jars)

1/3 cup chicken, cooked, and diced
¼ cup onion, diced
½ a carrot or 3 baby carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons long grain rice
1 tablespoon celery, diced
¼ teaspoon minced garlic

Layer all ingredients into pint jars, then fill with hot chicken stock leaving 1 to 1 ¼ inch of head space. Add lids and rings then place in pressure canner and process for 75 minutes on 10lbs of pressure.

This is significantly more chicken and rice in each jar, and I found the 1/2 a carrot a bit vague, so standardized on 2 TBS (sometimes heaped) of each vegetable dice. The garlic looks like a good idea ;-) Clearly the exact ratio of ingredients is not critical…

There’s a LOT of folks who can soups and make youtubes. Looks like I’m not alone in looking to prior practice more than the Government ;-)

I like this video:

that adds some parsley and makes quarts. They also use real broth, made separately. Quarts take 15 minutes more to heat through, so 1 hour 30 minutes, or 90 minutes. They fill to the bottom glass ring on the threads, but also are not dealing with rice or other grain in them. Note that the water in the canner is up to near the top of the food line. That’s something I learned as a way to help prevent boiling in the jars splattering chicken fat onto the seal…

I have two methods of tightening the rings before canning. One is just to turn it tight, then back off about 1/8 turn. The other is to turn the ring just until is starts to touch and slip in a loose finger grip. Both seem to work. “Snug” is a vague term that is usually used to describe the process of ‘snugging’ the rings. Remember that air must get out of the jar during cooking, so the lid must NOT be cranked down. The gasket material softens, so a tiny gap forms during heating and the air can leave, then on cooling when damp and touching the glass, a vacuum forms that pulls the lid down (with a ping! sometimes) and makes a seal. Some folks “tighten the rings” after removal from the canner to assure that air can’t get back in before the headspace cools to condensing water temps. I’ve got a technique of pushing the top down with an icecube that seems to work fine too.

French Onion Soup

12 Large onions
4 tbs butter
24 cups beef broth (your own, homemade broth… or store bought will do)
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
4 tsp. steak sauce (any kind, I used A1)
2 tsp. salt (I used canning salt)
Saute onions in melted butter in fry pan or pot.
In a separate pot, make the broth starting with your water/beef base or beef broth.
Add all ingredients, stir and bring to boil.
Add onions to broth OR can your soup by adding 2 scoops of onions to the bottoms of each canning jar and ladling your broth over it.
Process quarts at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes. Enjoy!
By The Kneady Homesteader

Now this one is interesting to me since I’m avoiding beef (due, again, to that arthritic creaky fingers issues) and I have some vegetarian family members. I can easily see using that Edwards & Son not-beef bouillon for the stock, keeping the butter for me, or using a vegetarian butter alternative for the vegan folks, and having a nice French Onion Soup ready to go in a jar. Just add toasted french bread, top with cheese (or cheese like stuff for the vegans…) and go…

They have a video showing a fancy All American type canner with the ‘dogs’ to toggle the top on, as opposed to the cheaper Presto I use with the rubber gasket and turn-lid. They have a bit of background noise (fridge or A/C or vent fan?) at the start but it is tolerable and drops off about the 4 minute mark, later you get kids and a dog in the background; just love it!. You also get to see the plate that goes under the jars so they don’t get rattled / vacuum sucked to the bottom during the boil and cool process. This is a longer video at 45 minutes, but gives you a better sense of the real process (including washing the lids and all!) unlike the ones that cut / splice past such ‘boring parts’… FWIW, I used to use the dishwasher on lids and bands too, but they don’t hold up well to the strong cleaner.. so wash them by hand.

Interesting to note she has water over the top of the jars in the pressure canner. That would make it even less likely to have sputter during the cooldown and / or failed seals… I’ll have to try that on some particularly difficult things…

Original here:

Note that both these folks do the ‘sterilize the jars’ thing (either in the oven for the first one or in boiling water for the Canning Granny). That is a good idea for water bath canning, but not needed at all when you pressure can for 75 minutes… I usually use cool jars from the dishwasher and apply cold lids, often filling with cold ingredients and hot water from the tap, then can. The very long times kill everything anyway, which is sort of the point of it all… For very short low temp canning, where you depend on acid levels in fruit to prevent spoilage, you can get a spoil from a particular bacteria (not health threatening just makes the food poor) and in those cases sterilizing the jars matters.

Again, their site has nice photos of the process.

What could be better than a rich, hot bowl of French Onion Soup on a chilly winter evening…

Here’s how I made a batch to have on hand…

I sauteed…

7 medium onions, sliced


2 Tbsp. butter

until softened and caramelized.

I divided the sauteed onions evenly among 5 quart canning jars I had previously washed well and sterilized by boiling in water.

For the soup part…

In my large stainless steel saucepan, I mixed together…

12 cups beef broth (your own, homemade broth… or storebought will do)
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. steak sauce (any kind)
2 tsp. salt (I used canning salt)

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Now for my soups, I typically don’t bother with a pre-cook step. It does make it easier to measure into the jars, as the stuff is all cooked together, but solids tend to sink out and it is a bit of an art to get the solids / stock mix right with a ladle from a large pot. Here it is just making a liquid stock, so works better as measuring little bits of steak sauce into each jar would be a PITA.

All we need to do when we want French Onion Soup for dinner, is open a jar, heat it up… add a baguette or some croutons and some good mozzarella and Yumminess in a jar!

Oh yeah! You can bet French Onion Soup is on my To Do List for this winter. I’ll be making pints though, since it is ‘just for two’, and cutting the time a bit in proportion. ( 15 minutes less for pints than quarts, or 15 minutes more for quarts than pints.)

Oh, one other thing I do differently. All these folks use large bowls for their chopped goods. I put them in quart or half gallon wide mouthy jars. They fit easier in the fridge if I need a break or have leftovers, and especially with chopped onions, having a lid on them keeps the fumes down and the eyes clear ;-) I can chop and fill jars, then put them in the fridge, and if needed do the canning later that day or even the next day. Since I’m a canning guy anyway, I have a bunch of jars just sitting around anyway…

I’d also do the caramelizing in smaller batches in a larger flat frying pan…

Can of Cream Soup? Is it really needed?

This whole canned soup thing started as a way to find an alternative to paying $1 or $2 for a can of ‘cream of something’ soup for the slow cooker chicken and such. Back years and years ago, the idea was that it was a cheap way to make a gravy with some stock flavor in it. Now, with soup prices gone crazy, it isn’t particularly a low cost item. Like chicken wings that were the cheapest part of the bird led to ‘spiced wings’ and ‘buffalo wings’ as ways to use a cheap meat, and now in football season wings can go for $2.50 / lb while the whole chicken is still about $1 / pound. Folsk lost the original intent.

These folks had a similar idea but use the fridge:

What do you do when you revisit a childhood recipe, hoping to recreate that memory of taste from the pages of Betty Crocker or your mother’s church cookbook, and find, to your chagrin, that it calls for a can of condensed cream of whatever soup? You don’t want the salt, or the mysterious chemical ingredients. But you don’t want to give up on that recipe!

The good news is that it’s not difficult to recreate those cream of… soups in your own kitchen. In fact, it takes little more than some flour, butter, and broth. And it seriously will not take much more time than opening up a can. That perfect retro casserole is on its way – just a little lighter and more in step with the times.
Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup

makes a little over a cup, equivalent to one can of soup

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons white flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then add the flour. Cook, stirring rapidly, until the mixture is thick.

Add the chicken stock and whisk until smooth, then add the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened. Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste.

This will keep for a couple days in the fridge, but it’s best to use it the day you make it.

All well and good. BUT, I’m not putting cream of chicken soup in the slow cooker, I’m putting in a can of condensed stuff that says to add milk to it… and I don’t add the milk. Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom lists milk under the ‘less than 2%’ items as does ‘cream of mushroom with roasted garlic’. So is the milk really why you add it to chicken and vegetables in the crock pot? Looks to me like that can be left out. Now salt and pepper is ‘adjusted to taste’ in the cooker, so leaving it out here does little. That leaves us with a butter / flour roux and chicken stock. Since I cook the chicken with the skin on, there’s plenty of fat in the dish already, so the butter is optional too. (Cream of Mushroom lists ‘vegetable oil’ as an ingredient, so clearly ‘butter flavor’ isn’t required in ‘cream of whatever’ canned stuff).

At this point, we have stock and flour… So it looks to me like the really minimal ‘can of creamed whatzit’ thickener shortcut really reduces to “put 3 Tbs or 1.5 ounces of flour in a jar with about 8 ounces of water, add a tsp or two of bullion powder or crumble in a large boullion cube (or 2 of those small hard salty ones) shake and pour into the crock pot.

Since it simmers anyway, the wheat ought to cook and form a gravy without external cooking.

Yeah, I know, stone soup in reverse and you are left with nothing but a rock… Still, I’m going to give it a try. Worse case is I add a couple of spoons of butter and a half cup of milk and stir at the end of the cook…

But man, that would make things a lot easier and cheap again.

In Conclusion

Well, there you have it. Lots and lots of ideas for soups and canning and that whole winter is coming thing ;-)

I’m especially looking forward to trying a pseudo-french onion soup with not-beef bouillon… I miss French Onion Soup!

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More Internet TV Links

I’m going to add these to the TV Tab up top, but just thought I’d put a few notes here about them so folks would know what I’ve found lately.

First off, PBS Public Broadcasting Service. Their site asks you to confirm their guess as to your ‘local station’. I think since it depends on nagging folks for ‘donations’ and needs to know who PBS ought to share with at the station level. For me, I live in an area where my satellite feed has at least 4 “local” PBS affiliates AND I can get PBS directly (IFF I pay extra…) At any rate, it also lets you enter a zip code to search for your ‘local’ station, so you can pick anyone anywhere if you like. I let it default to the San Francisco giant one for now (since I’m not donating anything at the moment it doesn’t really matter, but they do show you that station’s schedule). I may swap it to a Florida station later when I’m on the other coast (or, heck, pick some place in Alaska and give them a few nickles ;-) As I use several browsers on several systems, I’ll likely choose a different “local station” for each one.

In addition to news programs, they seem to have many other shows up. The Nightly News was from one day before… so they were talking about the ‘coming’ Presidential Debate… Unclear on the concept of “news” and confusing it with “history” it would seem… Still, lets you pick up the Overly Constrained Polite Left POV.

When you chose the “video” tab up top, you go to this page:

Which presently has a scrolling banner of photos of the shows available at the top, with left and right arrows at each edge to rotate it faster… Scrolling down the page gives a Netflix like roster of dozens of shows to watch. It looks like just individual recent episodes, not whole series like Netflix. At the moment I’m watching this short about “Is an Ice Age coming?”

I’m putting this link in partly just to see how long individual shows stay available… so I’ll check the link from time to time. It seems to be doing an OK job of explaining Ice Ages and things like obliquity and sediment cores. At the end, it does put in the obligatory genuflect to Global Warming…

Also up is DW Deutsche Welle. It had occasional pauses in the feed earlier on the tablet, but is now smooth on the ChromeBox, but that might just be my particular network behaviour or time of day. For them, you get to ‘click around’ to find the live feed and hope it is something you want. They also let you do the hunt and peck through recorded things. OK, first off, you click on the “TV” tab up top (that is faded out as you land on a different tab by default). That gives this odd looking URL at the moment. Now my normal behaviour when given odd looking formula URLs is to try shortening them to see if it still works (i.e. is the number tagging me). This one didn’t work, so we’ll see if it changed over time:

There’s a language selector at the top where you can choose German, English, Spanish, or a squiggle that I think says Arabic in Arabic… This page also has that sideways scrolling banner approach to show selection and auto-changes the displayed picture, so may be ‘chatty’ if left open in a browser. Scrolling down also gives many more shows than just news that you can choose to watch.

In Conclusion

I’ve also found that I really like France24 English news. They cover a lot of real news from Europe not to be found on US news outlets. Things like a police ‘demonstration’ while in uniform in a few cities to protest a group of malcontents who firebombed a police car and burned a couple of officers very badly. Causing a bit of a stir as it is not allowed to ‘protest’ in uniform, yet they did. I’ll be putting up some stories based on news I saw there. (Such as one about Egypt destabilizing again on inflation and food issues…)

DW News is a bit harder to work out. It isn’t just “click and let run” in quite the same way as France24 (where you just hit the ‘news’ tab and play it). I found a ‘story’ headed ‘news’ and clicked it and got this long URL:

Which does seem to give a nice big panel of news stories I can pick through. Yet what I really want is not an ongoing ‘click relationship’ with my tablet. When doing things like canning soup in the kitchen, a ‘click’ requires stopping work, washing and DRYING hands (water drops seem to confuse the capacitive touch surface) fooling around with the tablet, then going back to work… What I really want is the “Value Added” by the Editor and Director. A “turn it on and let it run” news program for an hour to occupy the mind while the hands are dirty in the food prep or dishes… Maybe I’ll find it yet… There is a “Live TV” heading on the left of that page that claims to be live TV:

Yet when you click that, you get to right-click to make Flash or some such run, and THEN click the ‘watch live TV’ statement in the lower right to make it actually go… it seems to be live “news” though, even though several segments are “happy talk” (like one about some food making machine for the kitchen) or sports-soap-opera about who likes / doesn’t like / is pissed at whom in soccer… Oh, and it seems to be repeating in a loop the same stories I saw a couple of hours ago, so maybe “canned show live on tape”?…

In any case, I’ve now got a very good selection of online news programs to watch, from all around the globe, though the things you need to click are a bit variable per site, and not all browsers and systems work with all sites.

Oh, and Sky News has again decided they don’t like my country. Seems they have flaky geolocation blocking, as my IP and location have not changed and we’ve oscillated a couple of times now. Oh Well! VPN when you must, or just watch France24 instead ;-)

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Posted in Arts, Human Interest, News Related | 8 Comments

Fraudulent “fights” at Trump Events – Formal Instigation

We all knew it was happening, that manicuring of events to fit a narrative, the feeding of the Nightly News Cycle with the expected garbage deliverables. What I didn’t realize was just how “businesslike” it had become. These folks don’t have a single qualm about such “rigging” of events and staged production for the news cycle narrative. No morality need apply.

h/t to J. Martin in tips.

Which sends you off to the Michael Smith News site:

(No relation, but I’ve noticed folks with the name Smith tend to be reality oriented and prone to a clear understanding of things like tech and construction… not afraid of fire much either. I suspect it is that shared ancestry of working iron in fire making weapons and ploughs both…)

Where they are releasing a ‘one a day’ undercover video series. It looks like they have done one hell of a job with going undercover inside the Democrats Machine and come up with some pretty strong evidence of fraud, news coordination and manipulation, and moral corruption. Just my opinion, of course, but you decide:

Part 2 to be released in an hour or so per their top page at this moment.

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Posted in Political Current Events | Tagged , , , , , , | 45 Comments