Merry Kaiser Christmas

Welcome from Kaiser

Well, here I am sitting in the Kaiser Hospital Emergency Room lobby on Christmas.

No, not nearly as bad as it sounds…

My Mother-in-Law (hereafter called “Granny” or “Grandma” as that’s how the kids refer to her) had an “episode”. Of what? Nobody knows… We’ve been through this before. About every 3 months? I’ve lost track. She empties her stomach and passes out, then wakes up about 20 minutes later. That’s it.

However… The medical “rules” mandate that she take an ambulance ride to the hospital where they do a load of tests and find “nothing new”… and nothing about “why” or “what” either… Your tax dollars at work. (She is on a government pension…) OK, at 87 you expect some things to not work right.

So, as you can see from this posting, I’m all ‘prepared’ for a pleasant afternoon “on the road”…

Many thanks to all the emergency workers who get to work this holiday. Police, firefighters, ambulance crews, doctors and nurses. Many thanks! You are appreciated.

The Rig

I’ve got a “crash bag” that I grab. It has the Mac laptop and wireless connections, a good book, some notebooks for things I’m working on, a “small drug department” in one pouch with anything from aspirin to decongestants to razor and soap along with caffeine pills (in case of coffee outage ;-) and a jacket lives on top of the bag. I’ve got my Christmas present book with me “Edible Gardening for California” (more on that after I’ve read some of it) that was opened this morning, and the cell phone (with charger that lives in the bag).

Everything needed for living in the lobby, or the car, or “on the road” for a few days.

Granny has a ‘crash bag’ too, and that is in the room with her. (As are her daughters… so I’m in the lobby “on call”).

And no ‘condolences’ are needed. For me it’s more or less “business as usual”. I can trade (when during market hours), I can manage blogs, I can do research, I can read. (And the ‘kit’ includes earplugs so I can do it in modest peace..) The chairs are comfy and I’ve got a small “CD / AM-FM Radio” in the kit too. The only thing missing is a TV (but they have one in the corner if I really care…)

The outcome? Pretty much already known. In an hour or two we’ll be sent “home” with Granny discharged and “nothing found”. Then we’ll pick up where we left off at noon.

The Dinner

We were on our way as a family to Granny’s care home. She’s in a full time nursing staffed home. (And it IS a home. A private house converted to house a few folks with nursing staff). Each Christmas and Thanksgiving we deliver a home cooked meal (made by me). We arrived at 11:30 just in time to see the ambulance being loaded… so the ‘meal’ was delayed.

What was in it?

Centerpiece was a personal sized Roast Bird. Traditionally we’ve done a family sized turkey in a large metal / enamel roasting pan. I’ve got a dinky roasting pan that looks just like it, and put a Cornish Game Hen in it. The Cornish game hen is really just a very small breed of chicken that they have re-branded… but they do taste great.

Stuffing is a simple bread stuffing. Croutons, poultry seasoning, red onions, celery, carrots, stock, butter, and a bit of egg to bind it just a touch: 1 egg per 6 ounces weight of croutons. Mix and stuff. The red onions, green celery, and carrot (made in small slices with a vegetable peeler) make it a colorful stuffing 8-)

Dust with poultry seasoning and in the oven at 375 F for about an hour. Leave the lid off at the end to brown to your liking. About 10 minutes seems to do it.

The bird was placed on the table at the care facility for the other guests to enjoy (no need to waste it… it was ‘fresh from the oven’ and rested 15 minutes on the drive over, so just about perfect). I’ve now got the “backup bird” in the roasting pan in the fridge, so with about 1 hour plus drive time notice we can be ‘back on schedule’… (Yes, I’m THAT prepared… sad in a way, but “It’s what I do”. NOTHING stops Santa Smith ;-)

So ‘whenever’ we will have the “special meal” complete with the “presentation” of the roast bird. Everything looking exactly like it has on Christmases for decades past, just in miniature…

The side dishes are the simple classic mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, and a ‘jello mold’ in cranberry red / foamy green. Oh, and a family heirloom dish from my family… “Scalloped corn”

Scalloped Corn

I’ve mentioned this dish before. I think it’s a “poverty food” variation on a prior recipe, but that’s just guessing. All I can say for certain is that we’ve had it in my family since before I was born and my Dad said they had eaten it ‘forever’ on the farm. Originated in Iowa or perhaps with the Ohio / Indiana Amish part of the family (if prior to Iowa).

It has the Amish simplicity about it. We use Saltine Crackers but that may just be a simple substitution from a prior ‘cracker’ on the farm… (almost certainly, as nobody bought crackers back when my family first started eating this… and they grew all the other ingredients on the farm).

At any rate, the “modern citified way” of making it:

In a 9 inch casserole dish, dump in a can of whole kernel corn, drained ( 15 ounces). Take a “stack of saltines” and crush them. This is about 1/4 pound. “Saltine Crackers” are THE standard cracker all over the USA, but seems to need some explaining to folks in some other countries. They are just a simple wheat cracker of neutral flavor, about 2 inches on a side, with salt stuck to the top. Sold in a 1 pound box in 4 paper wrapped ‘stacks’. The ratio here is not real critical. You can vary all the ingredients a lot and it’s still about the same dish.

Crush them to random sizes between ‘dust’ (you can’t avoid some of it ;-) to about the size of a kernel of corn. No, don’t be ‘careful’ about it. I just grab them and squeeze / crush by hand until the bits fall out.

Take a second can of corn and dump it in, liquid and all.

Stir all that together.

Take 2 eggs and beat them (just enough to mix) and drizzle over the top. Mix.

Take 1/4 lb of butter (one “stick” here) and cut into bits that lay on top. I usually use about 8, but it’s just going to melt and mix in, so no worries. Some folks like a little pepper on top, so suit yourself on that.

Cover and bake, 350 F to 375 F about 40 minutes. Leave the cover off the last 5 or 10 if you like brown and crusty.

It smells just wonderful and taste is nice too. Makes great ‘leftovers’.

It’s just not the Holidays for me without the aroma of Scalloped Corn in the kitchen.

So all of that is waiting to be reheated when Granny gets “home” again. And with some notice, there will be a freshly baked bird too.

Oh, and pumpkin pie for desert… Can’t forget desert ;-)

FWIW, these folks have a different recipe: that uses one regular corn and one creamed corn. They also use ‘corn muffin mix’ instead of the crackers and some sour cream. I suspect there is a whole family of variations and substitutions you can do. Just keep it “Corn, cracker/bread, dairy, egg”… I do vaguely remember using one can of creamed corn as a kid, so it may be that the ‘original’ did use creamed corn. (I also remember making it with real fresh corn scraped from the cob ‘cream style’ in summer ;-)

This one: uses some milk instead of the can water and no creamed corn, but looks like it would make a nicer ‘custard’ finish.

From the looks of the recipes, I think I’ll try making mine a more ‘creamy’ variation in the future.

In Conclusion

So I’m going to be “on line in the lobby” for “a while”. And most likely the “Christmas Lunch” will just become “Christmas Dinner”. No big.

We’ve already had “our Christmas” this morning. It was quite nice ;-)

My son and daughter bought a new dishwasher for us. The old one had died a few months back and we’ve just been washing dishes by hand. It’s not that hard, but does tend to suck down some time.

So sometime in the next week will be “install it”. Probably about a 20 minute job as the old one is a simple ‘2 screws and roll out’ and all the fittings are in place.

I also got the book mentioned above, a Dexter book ( I’m hooked on Dexter…) and a Ceramic kitchen knife / peeler set. Looking forward to finding out what I think of Ceramic knives… as technology makes a giant leap back to stone tools and obsidian knives ;-) Oh, and a Maglight LED flashlight too… the better to “be prepared”. I figured out that with “D” cells in it, I need to replace the batteries once per Decade when they “age out” ;-)

All in all, a pleasant, if rainy, Christmas. I’m sure I’m getting the better end of things especially when compared with the folks stuck in Airports all over the East of the USA as they get a “White Christmas”.

So wishing all of you the best as you enjoy this Christmas / Hanukkah / Winter Solstice holiday!

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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23 Responses to Merry Kaiser Christmas

  1. Baa Humbug says:

    We can’t let the fact that you’re in a hospital lobby stop us from annoying you can we?

    Could you please de-capitilize the word turkey. I am an Aussie born in Turkey ;)

    Nowhere near inconvenient as your day but our planned Christmas day, picnic/bbq out on the paddocks among the horses under the shade of our big Moreton Fig tree with kids swimming in the dam was waylaid due to heavy rain.
    We ended up under the verandah.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Baa Humbug:

    Oh, if you insist ;-)

    I have a habit of sporadically capitalizing nouns. I don’t know if it’s the “Pennsylvania Dietch” ancestral / cultural connection of a bit of spillover from having had German in college… At any rate, it just happens.

    But if it bothers you “POOOF!” you can have a smaller turkey …

    Well, a BBQ under the veranda (we tend to spell it without the final “h” in California… don’t have time for extra letters ;-) is not a bad day…


  3. Tim Clark says:

    Sorry about the rain, but wish we had some moisture here in KS. Hope everything turns out.

    Merry Christmas. Earthquakes are keeping me glued to the “net”.

  4. George says:

    Dang, so sorry Granny has to be in the hospital on Christmas.

    “I’ve got my Christmas present book with me ‘Edible Gardening for California’ ”

    Wow, I was just thinking of doing some edible landscaping. The city recently had to dig out the parkway between the sidewalk and the street at my house to replace a section of water main. They took out the juniper hedge (thank goodness, I hated that hedge!) leaving only one tree (the roots of which they cut on three sides and now I fear will blow down this winter). So I had planned to plant the area with edibles. Chard, kale, red cabbage, carrots, etc.

    I’ll have to get that book.

  5. GregO says:


    Sorry to hear about your Grandma. Hope all works out well.

    It was brilliantly sunny here in Arizona; we played Cajun music and are in the process of eating way too much food.

    Happy holidays to all!!

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, everything was “as expected”.

    4 hours of “hurry up and wait” then sent back with “Gee, didn’t find anything”.

    OK, we’ve now opened presents with Grandma, done all the celebration, and I’m back home.

    “Spare” little chicken is in the oven (as Granny is on clear diet for a day) and I’ll be making it again in a couple of days for the “Cristmas redux”…

    Off to enjoy my book and dinner! (And watch out for that root pruned tree!) If you want anything ‘looked up’ in the garden books, let me know…

    Hmmm… Cajun Christmas… has a nice ring to it ;-)

  7. Peter Offenhartz says:

    You are lucky the hospital didn’t keep your granny overnight, which is what happened to my wife a few years ago when she passed out — two days of tests, but nothing found.

    Possible diagnosis: Dehydration, which often causes fainting. The upchuck could have caused water loss, but what caused the upchuck?

    Good luck! (Yes, I read it, good luck is not an option, but good luck anyway.)

  8. H.R. says:

    Scalloped Corn

    Funny that you mention that… absolute tradition on my wife’s side from her father’s line (looong time W. VA family, so it’s not just Iowa). I’d not run across it anywhere except her family until you mentioned it.

    The recipe is exactly the same as you gave except made with the cream-style corn. It’s a little sweet for my taste.

  9. tckev says:

    Sorry to hear about your Grandma, hope she’s well soon.

    Thanks for a very interesting blog throughout the year, and have fun fitting the dishwasher.

    And as it is that time of year I’ll wish you a merry humbug and a preposterous New Year.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @H.R. With the cream corn it’s sweeter. Probably why I started making it with plain 20 years ago when I could still eat it…. the “corn allergy” that had onset at “30 something” means I’ve only gotten to smell it for a long time….

    Reading about the other recipes reminded me of when I was about 5 ? 6 ? in the kitchen first learning to make it. I do remember 1 can was “creamed corn” then. And it was sweeter.

    FWIW, we traced back the “Smith” name and the trail ended in Virginia in the 1700s. Some guy got off a boat. He worked iron. He was the Village Smith. Beyond that we have no clue.

    So it may be that we’ve had “scalloped corn” all the way from there and then. I know my family ate it on the farm in Iowa; that Dad’s Mom was Amish from Ohio (maybe met Grampa before moving to Iowa?). They were from ajoining farms and “the kids met”…

    He became a farmer on the Iowa side of the Big Muddy river who did smithing for neighbors but HIS Dad had been a working blacksmith and the one before him got off the boat. (I think I’ve got the count right… there might be another ‘village smith’ in the middle in Kentucky or somewhere between Virginia and Iowa… need to check the notes ;-)

    So, H.R., ask your wife: Any working blacksmiths way back on the family tree? From Virginia? You never know ;-)

    A “Family Trait” on that line had been a large nose often redish. (In retrospect, most likely a tendency to “rosacea” on the nose / face). I’ve managed to dodge that trait and have a “modest” nose… We suspect a German origin for the Smith name, though it might have been UK. At any rate, if the “ancestors” have a large nose, big hands with a very stong grip, and worked iron… well… we ought to talk ;-)


    Not to worry. Like I said, it always ends the same. Nothing wrong, go home. She’s “well” inside an hour. It’s the “medical rules” that are ill. The can’t just read her chart, say “Seen this 20 times before, go home.” They have to hit a bunch of “check marks” first…

    @Peter Offenhartz:

    “Good Luck” is always an option… I think you are remembering “Hope is not a stragegy. -E.M.Smith” (Which I used long before Obama and the “hope and change” mantra). I do believe in hope. Hope is essential. It’s just not an approach to systematic problem solving… i.e. a strategy. So I fully endorse hope, and luck, and anything else that makes folks happier. I just, then, buckle down and work out a success strategy…

    So your wishes of “good luck” are most welcome. (And I’ll tell Granny 8-)

    @Tim Clark:

    Yeah, those quakes are a real worry. It’s been a very slow 2 or 3 year accelleration. I hope it backs off “soon” as the “end game” likely would include a Great Quake where I live and I’m not keen on that at the moment. Yeah, I’m prepared for it (see the kits toward the early postings in:

    but still. I’d rather get one more kid out of college and me moved away from the fault line… just 3 or 4 more years, tops! ;-)

    At any rate, tummy is stuffed with Christmas Dinner (more bird, stuffing, mashed potatoes and home made gravy, peas, dinner rolls, and more…) and I’m feeling that “lay down and sleep 2 days” urge … so I think I’m going to go curl up with the Dexter book and see how long I stay awake…

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a Good Night!

    (Pssst: It’s not too early to start “liver conditioning drills” to be ready for New Years Eve… 8-)

  11. dearieme says:

    We had a goose, with spicey apple sauce (from our own apples), gravy, roast potatoes (from our own crop), roast parsnips, peas and carrots. And a cheeky wee Beaujolais. Lucky us.

    However we have a young chum, at this moment on the road from Mum and Dad’s house to Heathrow, to fly back to Philadelphia, but not knowing whether the flights will be taking off in the face of the weather forecasts for the eastern US. Would you believe it: Heathrow operating again after our snow but uncertainty at the other end.

    Meantime I can’t sleep – tummy too full perhaps – so I’m sitting at my laptop following the cricket from Melbourne. The Aussie batting collapsed. Now probably all depends on how well their demon fast bowler performs. He blows hot and cold.

  12. dearieme says:

    Bugger, I forgot my main message: I wish you a good day for tomorrow.

  13. Verity Jones says:

    How awful for Granny to experience that periodically. Glad all has turned out fine again and you were able to resume.

    We are preparing for a reprise of yesterday’s meal from leftovers. We had just a small family group this year and didn’t over eat (for once) so I am looking forward to a second bite of it all today.

    We had goose too, but stuffed with leek trimmings and apple bits (not intended to be eaten, but just there for flavour – the first time we’ve done it that way after finding an old recipe) which was superb; regular bread stuffing prepared in a dish on the side so that the top gets wonderfully crunchy (great ‘texture addition’ to the meal and fantastic with gravy). I’ve always disliked brussel sprouts, however hubby loves them and has found that sauteing them with bacon lardons and chestnuts makes them irresistable even to me. We also had roast parsnips and glazed carrots, roast potatoes. I made cranberry sauce (which I love) but forgot to serve it.

    Hubby ecstatic about the cricket too!

  14. Baa Humbug says:

    This is not a sports blog. Would you mind NOT talikng about the cricket please.


    Humbug from Brisbane Australia :(

  15. dearieme says:

    Ah Verity, I’d forgotten to mention the bread sauce. Unfortunately it had all been eaten before the cricket started. But there was some champagne left from earlier in the day. Heh.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, I made buttered boiled parsnips with the leftovers reprise… I also made way too much stuffing mix, so the “extra” was put in the fridge. “Fresh roasted” with the other leftovers.

    Oh, and love the cricket discussion, though with the cold ours have been silent. In summer it’s pleasant to listen to them chirp.

    In fact, I think we can hear some chirping from near Baa Humbug down in the Australian Summer ;-)

    Don’t know how you get one of the little fellow to bat, though…


    The good news is that Granny doesn’t really notice. Just sort of wakes up in the hospital and says “what happened?” and in a couple of hours gets a taxi ride home…

    At any rate, it’s a fine sunny morning in California. Crisp and cold. First sun I remember in weeks…

  17. Ruhroh says:

    We too got the ceramic blade/peeler combo.
    Be sure to read the instructions;
    not allowed to do many traditional things such as cut poultry with bones,
    hard cheese (?)
    slap garlic,

    Maybe your gramma has cardiac rhythm issues? Biased prediction by me…

    Remember to put Lithium batteries in rarely used devices; they don’t have aqueous hydroxide to leak out and ruin things.
    Good reminder about having the ‘grab-and-go’ kit. I need to work on that.

    Steve Mc just posted something pointing to your fine work.
    After reading yet another exhortation from you to comprehend intrinsic variables, I did take a look. I guess your point is that we can’t combine different temperature airblobs by simple averaging. As soon as they lack a common temperature, they are different systems, yes? Perhaps we should be calculating something like the ‘heat content’ (suddenly I am anxious about overly-specific jargon), and combining according to the relative enthalpy?
    Am I getting warmer?

    Remember to leak check the connections, and bolt the new one down…

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, I’m still ‘way nervous’ about it being breakable. Just using it on vegetables, and softer ones at that. Nice job pealing potatoes and parsnips, though ;-)

    Cheeses stick to the side of a blade and can put strong forces on it from that adhesion. That’s why wire cuts better.

    Slapping garlic is a side bending force on the thin direction of the ceramic. I’d be scared shitless to try that … Heck, linear pressure on the ‘up and down’ axis makes me nervous it’s gonig to fracture ;-)

    But it does cut nice…

    They’ve done just about everything for Granny. From endless ekgs, eegs, about a dozen cat scans. Best anyone can figure it’s a vegus nerve thing that gets a stomach spasm going that gets her into a blood pressure drop (she is no a load of BP meds… to much, imho. She’s a ‘white coat’ special and I think they’ve medicated her down too far. But nobody wants to listen to the Son in Law…)

    Then has a hypotensive pass out step. Then as she is laying down, naturally recovers.

    The Dr. gave the vegus nerve bit. The BP connection is my speculation. They’ve tested everything else, but don’t want to think that their meds might be part of the ‘problem’…

    Yeah, I like the “Go Kits”. Makes it much easier to just head out the door for all kinds of things.

    Per Steve Mc: Got a link where I can see what folks are saying about me? ;-)

    Intrinsic has an OK write up here:

    (If I said ‘intrinsic’ in a posting it ought to have been intensive…)

    The basic issue is just that an average of inensive properties is meaningless. What does it mean to have the average “specific gravity” of 4 metals? If you make an alloy it will NOT have that specific gravity. You need to know how much of each went into the alloy and what that did to the crystal structure to get any meaninful result.

    Dump two pots of water together. What’s the temperature? You can’t know unless you have the mass of each (and any ice / steam issues worked out ;-) and some salinity too…)

    So as soon as ANY temperature is averaged, you have a meaningless result.

    What is the “monthly average” for Phoenix? The only valid answer is “meaningless”. The total energy gain / loss will be different for two months with the same “monthely mean” as each will have had different periods of time at very high temps (where a 4th power function on IR is dumping heat like crazy…) and very low temps (where fusion of ice to water can have heat change at no temp change) or even just mid-range temps if one is a dead dry day and the other is raining.

    So from the very first step, the creation of a ‘monthly mean’, we have a meaningless number as it is devoid of the parts that matter to heat flow.

    This, then, gets turned into an even more meaningless number by more mathematical transformations… that get expressed to 1/100 C.

    Then folks complain at me that I must be an idiot when I say that the 1/100 C place is meaningless False Precision.

    (They think I’m saying that you can’t calculate an average to many more decimal points than the original data. I’m actually saying that there is no meaning in those places and any such precision is a fools game.)

    Hope that helps.

    If you are still unsure what it means, try this. Take a birthday candle flame at 1000 C and average that with an ice water bath at 0 C. 500 C, right? Now, plunge the candle into the ice water bath… What did that average T tell you?

    Take a bucket of moulten lead at 500 C. Think that will be the same as the ice water bucket with the candle in it?

    To me, that helps explain why it’s pointless to average intensive variables.

    And yes, ‘heat’ is the proper thing to measure. But we don’t, havn’t, and possibly can’t (as we don’t know where all the thermal energy goes…)

  19. H.R. says:


    You asked… no smiths or Smiths.

    A few years ago, someone in the W. Va. branch of my wife’s family was doing some geneology work. We were informed that the ancestor on her father’s side that landed in the New World was a Scot named Joshua Noe. I believe it was in the late 1700’s when he arrived. Apparently a fair number of Scots were undaunted by the W. Va. terrain as it had similarities to the Highlands.

    The odd coincidence is that my wife is not from around here. Her mother is from Glasgow (Anderson clan, all the family is still there) and my wife was born in London while while ma-in-law was working there after WWII. So the Scottish lass met and married a W. Va. hillbilly descended from Scots.

    Everyone’s life has odd little turns, eh?

  20. P.G. Sharrow says:

    TO the Chief IO: Thank you for the past years enlightenment and entertainment. May you have a interesting and profitable new year. pg

  21. Ruhroh says:

    Hey Cheif;
    Proberly it was me that morphed intensive to intrinsic. My malapropism rate is going ballistic lately…

    So, I guess the next question is, what is the ratio of heat content for dry vs. sat air, for a useful range of temperatures?

    It would seem to be possible to weight the average by the enthalpy, to take a step toward accuracy, no?
    I assume that a lot of stations are measuring wet and dry bulb temps?

    Do planes care about whether the air on the runway is dry or saturated?

    How does the ‘reference station method’ handle wet/dry air questions?
    So many questions.

    Over on that new Steve McI thread, the trolls are doing that new ‘quick reaction’ thing, typical baiting but with the twist that the new Menne code has not been subject to forensic dissection by the folks who have it.


  22. Larry Geiger says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours. Glad that everyone made it home ok.

    Honey baked ham, rice, left coast salad (some cranthingies and stuff in there with that thin, slimey dressing) and scallops.

  23. E.M.Smith says:


    Read the thread, downloaded the code. It will take a while.

    Wings care only about the density of the air. Change the temp, change the density. Change the humidity, change the density. That’s why it’s called “density altitude”…

    has a D.A. calculator and plenty of “how to” long hand.

    T.R.S.M. just ignores humidity. It’s not in the input data.

    More than you want about enthalpy and heating humid air:

    @P.G. Sharrow: Many thanks, and a happy new year to all!

    @Larry Geiger: I love sea food and ham … need a house guest? ;-)

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