Emergency Cake, Old Beans, Prepper In Style

It’s interesting to me how people adapt, invent, and overcome.

Here’s some videos on cooking with what you have. One is a simple cake from simple ingredients. Dump in a mixer, bake, eat cake. Everybody needs an emergency cake from time to time!

The other is a tutorial on using old beans to make ham & beans.

The Cake:

Glen & Friends Cooking
285K subscribers
1930’s Emergency Cake Depression Era Recipe Keep Calm – Bake On!
This is a quick and easy all in one bowl dump and mix cake. A one step vanilla cake that works really well, in spite of the simplified mixing method.

1 ¾ cup flour
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
⅔ cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla.

Beat well 2 to 3 minutes.

Bake 350 F 20 minutes

The Beans:

Another is a how to on using old beans. He uses some 8 year old beans, and it works. Old beans get hard and really old beans do not want to soften. The LDS Church has workedup a method. Deep South ‘Bama makes spicy ham hocks and beans.

Soak 24 hours in plain water. Drain.

Bring fresh water to the boil, 6 cups for 1 pound of dry beans, THEN add the beans. Boil 2 minutes. Add baking soda, 2 tsp. per dry pound of beans, Let sit one hour. Drain.

Add fresh water & vegetables & ham & drained beans & spices. Cook 2 hours.

Since salt keeps beans hard, I don’t add any until the cooking is at an end, so I was surprised he adds it up front. I’m also wondering just how hot cajun “Slap Ya Mama” spices are, but I’m not going to find out!

Bonus Bread:

No knead bread, and keeping your own yeast farm going.

I’ve seen similar bread cooked in other pans, so if you don’t have a dutch oven, try a different pot. Like a cast iron skillet at 375 F. It won’t be as crusty / rustic but it will still cook.

8 cups bread flour
4 cups warm water
2 T dry active yeast
2 T salt
450° for 30 minutes lid on, 20-30 minutes lid off

He says that the saved bit of dough will eventually become like a sour-dough starter. You can jump start that process by adding anything with some lactic acid bacteria in it. Milk, buttermilk, yogurt, etc. The “sour” in sour-dough is from the lactic acid bacteria. It’s a culture of both yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Normally they are everywhere, even on your skin, so eventually some get into the “starter”; but easiest is just give a jump start with some dairy product.

I’d also shrink the recipe a little unless you have a lot of people or really like bread ;-) It looks to me like he’s making a 1/2 of the sizes in the ingredients list. That looks like a 2 cup measure to me. He also uses kosher salt that has a little less density than table salt due to the larger crystal size having more air gaps. If the bread it too salty for your tastes, that’s likely why. I’d back it down from 1 T / 4 cups (3 tsp / 4 cups) to 1/2 tsp / cup or 2 tsp / 4 cups of flour.

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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...
This entry was posted in cooking, Emergency Preparation and Risks, Food. Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Emergency Cake, Old Beans, Prepper In Style

  1. ChristianS says:

    Knowing you are very analytical, I trust you won’t take my ‘complaint’ seriously. As an Irishman, I have a problem with ‘cups’ and ‘lbs’, often mixed together. Happily I can remember lbs from my youth, although there are differences between the US and UK versions of avoirdupois (and indeed the pre-metric ‘pund’ of my Danish parents’ parents’ time (I have my granny’s cookbook). I have found that ‘cups’ are not universally agreed measures, depending on what is being measured and even the person writing. I find the metric system useful for its universality and base-10 logic, even if we lose a little of our connections with the past. One of your top US chefs uses grams, even for eggs. As a small concession, is there a website with a DEFINITIVE scale of ‘cups’ to grams?

  2. H.R. says:

    I’m getting ready to make a dish from some odd-stuff-I-have-on-hand.

    I scored some gourmet cheese sauce for mac ‘n cheese and it’s coming up on its Best By date. It’s a Vidalia onion and Gruyere sauce. I have a box of elbow macaroni that goes back to pre-diabetic days when I was still buying pastas, noodles, and other carbs. I have a couple of 1-pound tubes of good ol’ Bob Evan’s sausage in the freezer that need used up before they get too long in the tooth.

    So, I’ll brown the sausage into large crumbles, cook the elbows to the low side of ‘done’, mix those with the cheese sauce in a couple of baking pans, top them with Italian Seasoned bread crumbs, and toss it in the oven to cook up as mac ‘n cheese dinner.

    Sadly, I’ll only get two cups of this over a couple of days to stretch out my carb intake.

    One of the pans will go to our neighbor’s house. They are Italian and ‘cook large’ even though their family has shrunk as their kids moved out over the 20 years we’ve both been in this neighborhood. I ‘cook large’ because my mom did that for a family of 6 (then 8 when my aged grandparents moved in) and she always had extra for unexpected guests, which any one of us kids were likely to invite to dinner.

    Over the past few years, we have been bringing each other the extra portions of the still-cooking-like-the-kids-are home dinners. Once or twice a week, one or the other of us is getting a break from making dinner. and neither of us have had to adjust our cooking habits.

    I’m looking forward to the additional use-up-odds-and-ends comments. I always have an eye out for new flavor combinations. Typically, that’s how they come about; using something you have because you’re out of what’s called for or just plain stuck and have to throw something together with what you have or you have to use something up to keep it from going to waste. Often enough, good things result.

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    As an American, we are not mandated as to units of measure. You can use whatever you like. This lets us remain connected to our history and use any novelty that works. I’m comfortable in Celsius / Centigrade, Fahrenheit, Kelvin (and no, I don’t care about some numpty insisting I not capitalize it), Rankine… having used all of them in High School Chemistry.

    So please forgive me when I forget other folks use just one system of units.

    No, there is no universal cups to grams, as cups are volume and grams are weight. There never can be.

    There’s something like 237 ml / cup but most folks just treat a cup as 250 ml and more than close enough for cooking. A tsp is 5 ml, Tbls is 15 ml. Quarts are 946 ml, but for cooking I just use L / 1000 ml (note that both liquids and solids get increased so proportions work better). Similarly, the pound at a bit under 1/2 kg makes it easy to just use 1/2 kg and then the weights and volumes ratios get lifted holding ratios closer.

    FWIW, historical units were more numerous to make measuring easier without math. The US Gallon is an Imperial unit, but it was the “wine gallon” used for wine (why might be interesting, but not for this thread). Similarly there is a potters inch or casting inch. It is longer than the regular inch by just the amount castings shrink on setting and cooling. You can use metric, but then you contantly have to multiply the desired length by the shrink rate to get the size mould to make. Easier to just measure your mould in the same number of casting inches and skip the math.

    Also, decimal math does not divide as easily. Not enough common factors. Traditional units are “fraction friendly”. It is easy to cut things to halves, quarters, etc. without calculation. That’s why the decimal hours died and we kept base 60 time units. What is the exact decimal value of 1/3? Yet I can use that fraction in math with perfect precision. Fraction math is very under appreciated in our digital age. 1/3 hour is 20 minutes. 1/4 is 15. 1/6 is 10. 1/12 is 5. Base 60 has advantages. The 12s and 16s of traditional mass and volume have similar, if more limited, use.

    Metric loses many of those benefits.

    It does work well with calculators. It is more universal and standardised.

    I’d rather use each where they work best.

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    Noodle wheat is much higher protein / lower starch than bread flour. With all that cheese and sausage, you might be able to have more (let your meter be your guide ).

    We always cooked based on “what can I make with what I have”. I remember my Mum learning how to use recipies from a book… In the restaurant, food went through a progression. We would roast a couple of turkeys a day. With vegetables, stuffing and gravy on a plate as turkey dinner, as hot turkey sandwiches. Cold as cold sandwiches or as a Club Sandwich in 3 layers. Pan dripping to gravy. Pickings off the bird and excess meat to Turkey Ala King. Leftover anything into soup. If needed, stock making.

    I’m often a “dumper” when cooking. Does it look right? Sound right? Smell right? Taste right?

    That’s the art part of cooking, along with plating.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, made a loaf of the bread. Started last night, lunch today. Baked it in a loaf pan (I have a cast iron Dutch oven, but camp style with legs). Turned out very nice. I used 1/4 of the listed ingredients, so 2 cups flour. For a full single loaf, use 4 cups flour, or 1/2 the listed ingredients size.

    Rather like a ciabatta bread. Next time will be made on a tray for the ciabatta shape. Crumb was smaller than ciabatta, but very tasty in a not quite sour-dough tart kind of way. Next time I will rise it longer or warmer. OTOH, only half a loaf left and that won’t see tomorrow….

    It IS super easy to make. As a bread with cheese, butter, salami, tuna: very tasty.

    As a result, and since spouse wanted some store things, I picked up a 25# sack of bread flour for about $6.xx at Smart & Final. We’re set for fresh bread for months now ;-)

  6. Compu Gator says:

    E.M.Smith [posted] 10 April 2020 [GMT]:
    I’m also wondering just how hot cajun “Slap Ya Mama” spices are, but I’m not going to find out!

    Alas, I’ve been directed by the usual category of professional suspects to convert to a low-sodium diet, only a day or so after buying the oddly named product that you’ve now mentioned. Really, now! 310–350 milligrams per 1000 milligrams!?

    Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning” (usual yellow & red shaker-can), Ville Platte, La. “SlapYaMama.com”: Ingredients: “salt, red pepper, black pepper, and garlic”.
    “Serving size 1/4 tsp. (0.04 oz., 1 g.)”: Sodium 310 mg. (13% daily amt.), but no carbohydrates (thus no sugar), no fats, no MSG, no MSG, no protein.
    It’s been suspected of being the key ingredient in Nashville’s ethnic specialty “hot fried chicken”, which earned that adjective for its high level of spicing. So altho’ I’d like to offer an enthusiastic recommendation for a family-owned culinary product, I, um, haven’t actually opened the can I have.

    Their company, Walker & Sons, also offers “Slap Ya Mama Low Sodium Cajun Seasoning” (paler yellow & green shaker-can), but I have’nt seen it in retail outlets here in Central Florida.

    You might want to substitute a more moderate product, esp. this brand, which my casual inspection of the “ingredients” lists of its competition seemed to indicate is the most worthwhile of those available at retail:

    Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning” (usual green shaker-can), Opelousas, La. “www.TonyChachere.com”: Ingredients: “salt, red pepper, black pepper, chili powder (chili pepper, spices, salt, garlic powder), garlic, silicon dioxide (to prevent caking). May contain wheat, soy, or milk”. “Serving size 1/4 tsp. (1.1 g.)”: Sodium 350 mg. (15% daily amt.), but no carbohydrates (thus no sugar), no fats, no MSG, no protein. I once saw a tailgate-sized purple shaker-can, marked as “low sodium”, but the 1 remaining was damaged, and I never saw the product again. I took a low-rez cell-phone photo of it, but might’ve failed to take a photo of the UPC to facilitate tracking it down.

  7. H.R. says:

    @Compu Gator Re “Slap Yo’ Mama” seasoning – I’ve seen it, and I have a can of the Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning, but mostly unused since I didn’t care for the Cajun seasoning balance.

    I managed to snag some Tabasco® Scorpion Sauce. Regular Tabasco® sauce comes in at about 5,000 Scoville units. I just drink it straight out of the bottle. I rarely use it on anything. Restaurants tend to find the little bottles they have on the table are empty when I leave, particularly if service is slow ;o)

    The Tabasco® Scorpion Sauce comes in at two million Scoville units. I have to say, that is some seriously hot sauce. That’s approaching face shield, rubber apron, and heavy H2SO4-proof gloves under a fume hood territory.

    Ditch your “Slap Yo Mama” sauce and try some “Slap Yo’ Self Silly” sauce, AKA Scorpion Sauce. I find it adds a whole new level of heat when you want to kick something up a notch.

    Oh, “Slap Yo Mama” seasoning is rated between 1,000 and 3,000 Scoville units, so it’s not particularly hot… from my POV anyhow.

  8. ossqss says:

    My “go to” seasoning for many meat types.

    Now I am hungry again, dangit!


  9. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – About 20 years ago, I was baking bread for a bit just because I love real butter melted into a little bread that’s still warm from the oven. I was just looking for an excuse to eat the butter. But things, life, and the universe changed and I dropped the practice. I’ve since forgotten much of what I knew about bread-making.

    Your posts and discussions on your bread efforts have body blow, body blow, left hook to the head, right uppercut piqued my interest in making bread again – particularly the sourdoughs and flatbreads which I love… you heartless evil bastard, you ;o) ;o) and ;o) just to be clear.

    So I think I’ll score some bread flour, explore the breads you’ve written about for starters, eat my tithe of the results with more European butter than bread, and give the rest away.

    The weather is beginning to warm, so I can probably obviate my fresh-baked carbohydrate sins by riding my bike several miles per day, so long as I keep them at the mini-sin level of a slice or two and avoid whole-loaf murder. “Hail San Francisco Sourdough, full of grace…” X 25 is usually good enough to buy off the local priest… if he gets a few slices ;o)

    P.S. Now I’m thinking of rigging up a Tandoori oven to make naan. I have a bunch of charcoal that needs used up since I bought that pellet smoker grill last Fall. A Tandoori oven would be a few simple modifications away from the block ovens you’ve posted on here and there, not so long ago.

  10. H.R. says:

    @Ossqss – Nice tip about Everglades Seasonings. I can’t recall you bringing those up before. I’ll have to have a lookasee. Loved the redfish fishing videos.

    Want me to bring you a bottle of Scorpion Sauce next trip down or would you prefer to swim in the lake behind your housed after smearing yourself with duck fat?

  11. Compu Gator says:

    H.R. [replied] 11 April 2020 at 12:53 am [GMT]:
    I managed to snag some Tabasco® Scorpion Sauce. [….] The Tabasco® Scorpion Sauce comes in at [2_000_000] Scoville units.

    Fascinating that you would mention that variety: A few years ago, I did grow a couple of Trinidad Scorpion chile plants in 7-gal. container(s), from seed provided by a neighbor of a family-member. I have some satisfactory photographs to prove what I grew: Strawberry-shaped red pods, but smooth and shiny, with a scorpion-pointed flower-end (opposite to the stem end).

    But after harvesting them, I never got around to trying them. I couldn’t find family or friends willing to participate in taste-testing. And that was without revealing 1st-person reports I’d read from chileheads on Internet forums who’d tried fresh pods, using the customary lactose-intensive products as chasers (esp. ice cream), but nonetheless endured a painful morning-after on the porcelain throne. I decided that I’m not interested in chiles as potential demonstrations of manly endurance of suffering.

  12. H.R. says:

    @Compu Gator – Hahahahaha!

    I’m getting a strong vibe that you are not stupid ;o)

    I’m not particularly stupid either (okay, that’s arguable), but I’ve acquired a very high tolerance for hot stuff built up over the years, starting when I was eleven and staying for the Summer with the grandparents in Texas in a town of 400 and 1 part-time stoplight.

    “Papaw” had an amazing garden which supplied him and “Mamaw” and their nearby extended family with enough garden truck for the year after the fresh stuff was eaten and the rest was canned, save for a bit of the fresh excess that was sold down by the road to supplement his Social Security checks.

    I had a couple of running buddies nearby. It being summer, with nothing for 11-year old +/- boys to do but find our own amusements, we decided to get to the point that we could eat a whole hot pepper. He was raising a few varieties of hot peppers, ranging from banana peppers to something red and evil which I can’t recall exactly what it was.

    We started with breaking up one of the evil ones and just touching it to our tongues. YEOWIEEE! We kept upping the exposure – small nibble, small bite, bigger bite – until after a few weeks, we could eat a whole, very hot pepper. Bored kids and Summertime make for some interesting stories for grandkids.

    Starting from there, I’ve built up a very high tolerance for capsaicin. When I order wings, I usually get them at the ‘Atomic’ level and request extra ‘Atomic’ sauce… and a spoon [grin]. Most of those sauces fall way short of the good stuff I have at home in the cupboard.

    That said, there’s still not a darn thing you can do about the hot pepper exit strategy executed the next morning on the porcelain throne. A few beers with whatever it was consumed the night before aids and abets the peppers’ mad dash to escape.

  13. ossqss says:

    From my experience, eating really hot peppers or juice mix from such is not much different than doing a shot of Muriatic acid, YMMV (sorry dude, but it fits) on concentration levels of said peppers.

    Watched someone win a bet once on eating an entire Habanero pepper. He ended up with the money, but in the hospital.

    He didn’t do that again. BTW, his Mom did smack him in the end. I think I repeatedly heard the term “Dumbass” several times as she recovered him from said place explaining basic physiology.

  14. H.R. says:

    Habaneros or Scotchbonnet peppers are 200,000 to 350,000 Scoville units, admittedly pretty dang hot.

    Here’s how your favorite peppers stack up against military grade pepper spray.

  15. H.R. says:

    Hmmm… I didn’t see South African Birdseye peppers on that list, which are in that Peri Peri sauce I like so well.
    Here we go; 100,000-225,000 Scoville units. No wonder I like that sauce. It has garlic and a few other goodies in it, too. Smooooooth!
    Okay, I’m done with peppers. It suffices to say I like hot stuff.

    I’m moving on to breads.

  16. ossqss says:

    Dangit, @HR, so now the question is, can I use pepper spray to season a meal or what? I do like moderate heat as applicable.

    Inquiring minds want to know……

  17. H.R. says:

    Hadn’t thought of pepper spray as an emergency prepper condiment.

    If ever you get tired of bland squirrels and rabbits after a year of living off the land, y’all know what to do.

    Bonus: The bear strength spray pre-seasons the bear meat, assuming that after spraying him and thoroughly pissing him off, you then manage to get the bear before the bear gets you.

  18. ossqss says:

    I think of bear spray as tenderizer. LOL

  19. H.R. says:

    I’m still thinking about making a tandoori oven outside.

    I posted a recipe for naan on the flatbread thread since it fit better there.


  20. Timster says:

    I have me one of these and it’s great for all manner of cooking. Residual heat after some skewered Indian meats and naan can roast a chicken or bake a loaf easily.

  21. Timster says:

    …. hmmmm, should have added the link

  22. Timster says:

    Ok, maybe I broke the link. Anyway the tandoor I have is the “Tandoor-Home-Tandoor-Oven-SS2-Deluxe-Large-Home” … if you’re interested

  23. H.R. says:

    Oh man, Timster. That is nice!
    Oops, keyboard intermittently shorting out from the drool ;o)
    I’m looking to make a tandoori oven from stone and cement block or perhaps clay pipe. I’d like to build one.

    We explored a lot of block ovens and stoves here a year or so ago. We hashed out good design features for ease and efficiency of operation, cheap materials, ease of construction, and cool extras that people had come up with. Largely it was rocket stoves, but people found and posted videos of other stove or oven builds.
    I’d like to use clay because we had a lot of small, family-owned clay pipe factories around our region that went bust when they started making pipe out of plastics of various sorts and weights. Clay pipe had to be shorter than the new stuff that is made in lengths, so it was more labor intensive to install. It also broke in transport or during loading/unloading or careless handling during installation. The newer piping is better. Roll it out, or lay 20-foot sections; fewer joints, fewer leaks, too.

    I have passed by these shutdown companies. They were the anchor business of some of the small towns, besides the farming that was all around. The beehive kilns are cool to see and the remainder of their inventory is still stacked out in the storage yard at some of these places. Well, at least it was a few years ago when I last drove by one. None of these are on my regular travel routes. I was just out and about and surprised how many there used to be.

    The pipes are square, rectangular, oval, round and of various sizes in each shape. Some are glazed and fired and others were just fired. Some were made for drainage and some were made as chimney liners.

    No block is left because most was able to be sold for foundation block, but I guess they couldn’t run the business off just that. Now, cement blocks are cheaper so these places will never start back up. I wouldn’t mind some block, though.

    I was thinking maybe I could get a round pipe about 24″ in diameter (~610mm) and hard to say what lengths I would find. I’d like 36″, a few inches shy of a meter. They didn’t do meters then :o)

    I’m just guessing, but the factories, properties, and the inventory were probably taken by the town, township, or county government for back taxes after the plants closed. Who knows, though? The owner’s or their heirs might still own some of the properties. Just cut a deal to pay the taxes on the land only in hopes of developing or selling it someday.

    It shouldn’t be hard to find out who to ask to acquire a bit of clay pipe since they can’t sell it – government or private owner – and would have to pay to have it hauled away. That’s why it’s been sitting there for years. No one wants to use it with the better, new type of pipe being available. Zero market except for onesie-twosie pieces people like me want.

    If they don’t let me just take a few bits that I’d want, they’d probably only charge me the price of a lunch or dinner for taking up some of their time. It should be cheap or free. I just have to chase down the right entity with the legal say-so. I wouldn’t just take some pipe even though, without a doubt, no one would care. I don’t roll that way.

  24. H.R. says:

    Well, well, well. There are some clay pipe companies fighting back against the plastic products. Apparently, some of those fancy new pipes degraded over the years and are now causing some problems that require they be dug up and replaced.

    The clay pipe company I found (sorry, left and forgot to bookmark) was touting the fact that clay pipes have a useful life of 200 years or better and are unaffected by water wear/erosion from pressure and flow, and do not dissociate at all like some plastics do over time in the soil. They also withstand enormous overburden pressures that can sometimes cause plastic pipes to collapse.

    There was a plastic pipe company on the same search results page (again no bookmark, sorry) that was firing back about the brittleness of clay pipe, that it required more rigorous attention for alignment, bedding, and sealing during installation, that it was known to crack and cause sinkholes here and there, and didn’t flex with even smallish land movement.

    Water Pipe Wars! Who knew?

    Maybe that old pipe will be gone with clay pipe making a comeback.

  25. H.R. says:

    Nice, E.M. – I still think some round clay pipe would make a really good oven, but this design has components ready to pick-up at your nearest Home Depot.

    If I have no luck on round clay pipe – much harder and thicker-walled, BTW – I can jump back to this and have one up and running in a couple of hours.


  26. cdquarles says:

    About peppers, it has long been known that the longer and more you eat peppers, the more you can (the pain comes from the capsaicin depleting the neurotransmitters by immediate discharge; so you get more pain tolerance over time). I love hot peppers. I have been eating them from childhood. Granny loved her garden grown chilies. I can tolerate them at least to cayenne strength. I have not eaten much of any kind hotter than that; but given enough time, could do it. My sister can’t eat any, not even green bell peppers, that are sweet, and not hot.

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    Bit of trivia:

    Birds do not taste the hot in peppers. Herbivore mammals chew and destroy the seeds. Birds swallow whole and poop out seeds in fertilizer packets. Capsaicin is the peppers way of discouraging mammals and selecting for birds. Then along came people…

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    No ovrn? Want bread? No problem. Make bread in a slow cooker:

    Given the ceramic finish I bet you can skip the parchment paper.

    As a small slow cooker is part of my road kit, I’m going to work up a small batch recipe for 2 using it. Fresh bread “on the road” would be nice…

    This one looks nice and browned:


  29. E.M.Smith says:

    This stsrts with a loose dough similar to the one in the article, but makes rolls:


    Having my second batch of dough from last night ready to go, I’m thinking dinner rolls…

    She uses hot rap water, but beware: temperatures vary. I run mine about 160 F and it will kill yeast. Run water about 110 F not hotter than 130 F.

  30. H.R. says:

    Re hot peppers – It wasn’t “people” so much as the invention of hot Tex-Mex dishes, crazy Cajuns, and Buffalo wings.

    Compu Gator had it right about macho displays and Ossqss had a related story about a macho-related habanero and hospital visit. The Muriatic acid was a good descriptor, BTW.

    I told how I came by my addiction to hot peppers; 11-year old boredom. We weren’t quite up to macho at that age. The capsaicin tolerance just builds up over many years and every year you want just a little more kick; kind of like heroin, but more dangerous ;o)

    Matter of fact, anytime someone gets to drinking a bit much and starts going all macho on hot stuff – alcohol is always involved – I reach into my cupboard of hot sauces and ground hot pepper powders and disabuse them of the notion that they can handle hot stuff.
    I make a mean red cowboy chili, not particularly hot but the heat sneaks up on you the way I cook it. (I’m into green chili nowadays.)

    My wife was the only female geek working with a bunch of guys and she had invited them over for a Big Game, beer, and my chili. Among the group of invitees, her boss and one other guy advertised in advance that they “loved hot food, the hotter the better, and no chili was too hot for them.”
    (Wait for it, y’all ;o)

    I made my usual large batch of chili, somewhere between PG and R and set aside a 2-quart pan of chili that I bumped up to, I’m guessing here it’s been a while, maybe 300,000 or so Scoville units. Before anyone had arrived, I warned my wife I was going to put them to the test because they had asked for some “real hot chili”. She knew my tolerance and thought it would quiet them down at work about hot foods.

    So, I ladled out 3 bowls, added some hot sauce to mine and told those two guys to try theirs first before adjusting the heat.

    Well of course it was five alarm fire time after only one big soupspoon. They were choking, gasping, sliding down in their chairs, sweating bullets, with their faces and ears flaming red, all while gulping the milk I had at the ready, and then her boss was coughing nearly uncontrollably for several minutes.

    Panic! Pandemonium! And all the while my wife is screaming at me, “You killed my boss!!! You killed my boss!!! Why did you kill my boss?!?!”

    Well the two guys finally started settling down. I asked them if they wanted to finish their bowls or would they like to try some of my regular chili? “Uh, let’s give some of that regular a try.”

    Meanwhile, I quietly finished my bowl of very, very,very hot chili without a sip of anything until I finished the bowl, and then had a slug of beer. That ‘special’ chili was not at my max tolerance level, but it was way up there even on my tolerance scale.

    My wife never again heard a word at work about how much those guys liked hot stuff, “the hotter the better.” They held no grudge, though and liked it very much when my wife would bring in a regular batch to work.

  31. Compu Gator says:

    E.M.Smith [replied] 11 April 2020 at 3:50 pm [GMT]:
    Bit of trivia: Birds do not taste the hot in peppers. [….] Birds swallow whole and poop out seeds in fertilizer packets.

    Hey-ell, it ain’t mere trivia once your outdoor plants have been discoveed by local mockingbirds or blue jays! The bright red pods of many cultivars really stand out against the pastel-painted backgrounds in my neighborhood. I suspect that the arguably glowing red color is caused by some substance in the skin that reflects infrared or ultraviolet [#]: I’ve read that the eyes of at least some birds are sensitive farther into the u.v. range than humans, so maybe likewise i.r., too. My tabasco plants were in their summer prime, nearly 6 ft. tall, and the pods had grown–and more were growing–into just about the perfect size & shape for swallowing whole. They left alone my Habaneros, whose pods were the awkward size & shape of smallish strawberries. Those birds were bold enough that they were mostly indifferent to the patio furniture mere feet away from those containers, which were frequent gathering places for humans. But the birds were often busy early enough that few–if any–people were up & around outside. What’s marketed locally as “bird-netting” might’ve been a technical solution, but the letter of the intrusive house rules here forbids even my container-growing efforts, so adding whatever additional structures I’d need to support the netting might’ve stretched the rules too far to continue to be overlooked. Humbug!

    E.M.Smith [replied] 11 April 2020 at 3:50 pm [GMT]:
    Capsaicin is the peppers way of discouraging mammals and selecting for birds.

    Faclitating widespread distribution of seeds ready to start growing and propagate its species. It’s suspected by chileheads–if not yet scientifically established–that a bird’s gastrointestinal system actually prepares the seeds for growth. One botanist or chileheads demonstrated that reluctant (U.S. slang “balky”) seeds collected in the wild, or sitting for years in a seed collection, could be started by using the chemical activity in a bird’s gastrointestinal system. Either by feeding the pods to a pet bird and collecting its droppings, or simulating it with a soak in a mixture of substances that would probably be unwelcome almost anywhere in civilized society.

    Note #: My digital camera couldn’t reproduce the intensity of the red color, and that seems unaffected by its illumination, whether direct sunlight or diffuse shade. But pondering that raises the issue of the color gamut of the camera sensors, plus the color gamuts of the monitors on which I view my images. But we’ve come a long, long, way from early color t.v.s whose c.r.t.s rendered red as glowing deep orange. I recall that late in the mostly bygone days of chemical-based photographic film, rendering shades of purple was a continuing challenge for Kodak. Sure enough, there’s a tree (near a family-member’s home) that attracts attention for bearing intensely purple flowers with a comparable glow. I’ve since forgotten its common name, and never saw its scientific name.

  32. H.R. says:

    @Compu Gator – Bougainvillea?

    They were beginning to bloom in February while we were in Florida. They can be trees or kept down as bushes/shrubs. Some are trained on fences or walls as espaliers, cordons and fans. I even saw a gorgeous bonsai version while searching for an image that was not too large. Most of the best images were too big to post here and would blow up the page.

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    Made the rolls. Nice. Of the hard crunchy crust type common in Italian / French cooking. We prefer soft fluff ball rolls, so I’ll make these a bit, but still exploring British fluff ball technique ;-)

    By looking at cone length you can determin visusl range. Some birds only have 2 cone lengths, like dogs, so only see limited colors (usually the blue green range) while some birds have 4 cone lengths picking up reds, yellows, oranges on one end, and ultraviolet on the other.

    The recalcitrant seeds do expect abrasion or chemical attack. One tree in New Zealand was approaching extermination until they figured out it was dependant on moa eating the fruit. Now it is dependent on people doing scarification.



    Or maybe Jacaranda

  34. Timster says:

    Good luck with getting the clay pipes and setting yourself up with a tandoor oven. They are great tools for cooking. Between that and the Kamado BBQ I do a lot of cooking over charcoal and do not regret for a second getting rid of the gas/propane BBQ.

    That’s a great use for the clay pots. I’m not sure that would be appreciated so much by the other half of the family as I’d need to tip out some greenery to get the pots!

  35. H.R. says:

    @Timster re clay pipes – It’s looking like I can, and will probably have to buy new. There were a few other companies in my State on the search results. The clay pipes are obviously resurgent because the problems with plastic pipes have taken quite a few years to show up, but now they are showing up.

    Governments in particular are looking at 50 years of service versus 200 years. They want to do a project, walk away and forget it. From what I’ve seen all my life, governments don’t like to do infrastructure maintenance or repairs. They wait until something breaks completely and usually with calamitous results. Then they get off their butts and try to fix it. If they can push that problem 200 years down the road, they’ll do it.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think you’ll find the words ‘preventive maintenance’ in any more than a handful of government publications.

    IDEA! Maybe if I visit the factories… they probably have a pile of seconds or chipped and broken pipe that they’d sell or give me a piece from. I don’t need watertight or anything and I’m probably going to cut into it anyhow.

    What the hey. They have to pay to have it hauled, or maybe not. There’s probably a secondary market for broken tile; coarse filter media perhaps. Still, they are probably only getting a penny or two per pound and don’t have to pay to haul the stuff off. So why not humor some old guy, since he sprang for lunch?

  36. Compu Gator says:

    H.R. [replied] 11 April 2020 at 6:10 pm [GMT]:
    […] her boss and one other guy advertised in advance that they “loved hot food, the hotter the better, and no chili was too hot for them.”

    Uh, huh! I could see where H.R. was leading readers. So I stopped and got a cold tall beer from my kitchen. Great story, evoking more laughs from me than I’ve enjoyed in quite a while. Dang! I wish I could write stories as well as that one by H.R..

  37. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ve told this one before, so the short version:

    About 40 years ago, the Old College Roomie and I made Chile together from time to time. Always using Chili Powder and dry red pepper with some black pepper in the meat sautee.

    Well, being all smug with our culinary skills, decided we ought to “up our game” by using Real Chilies ™.

    Both having no clue at all about chilies, we decided that since I had a Mexican Good Friend as a kid, I was the Local Expert by default and I was dispatched to the store with the mission:
    Buy Chilies!

    We had a recipe from somewhere that called for something like 3 cups of chilies in a medium pot of final product. I bought what I guessed would fill 3 cups once chopped.

    At the store, the first hurdle arose. There was more than one kind of chili.

    What to do? Well, Executive Material knows that when in doubt, you make a decision! I don’t remember what the name was. Dark glossy green and about a finger long. Looked like chilies I’d seen before. DONE!

    So back at the kitchen…

    The recipe said to chop them up and remove the stems. Easy peasy. Slice the very top off. Cut the rest into stips and rings. Into the pot.

    First clue of things to come was when I scratched an itch on my upper lip. 10 minutes and a pint of milk later I was only in modest pain and could see again. A great deal of hand washing followed.

    Skipping forward… the chili was done. With great pride we each shoved a test spoon of it down the hatch…

    After running out of milk, and approaching water poisoning, vision , speech, and coherence returned.

    We froze that batch, and for a couple of years after, would spice up each few gallon pot of chili to quite spicy enough, thank you very much, by adding one carefully measured cup of that batch.

    Lessons Learned included the fact, missing in our recipe, that the seeds go with the stem and must be removed under pain of pain. That the particular variety of chili matters and must be stated. Then, that it is best to add the chili in stages with taste tests unless you really know that chili. Finally, water makes it worse and milk is fine for not that hot cases, but otherwise just gives you 20 seconds of false hope before you are subject to a surprise atrack. Finally, in the end, you get a suprise attack in the rear guard a day or two later and milk is not the solution….

  38. H.R. says:

    Well, thanks, Compu Gator, but I’m just babbling along here today.

    I checked off my two to-dos today; mow and take a shower. So I’ve been hanging out here making a nuisance of myself.

    Those that know my posting style and habits are aware that most of my comments are 1 or two liners and maybe a paragraph or two. I don’t touch type and I type twice as fast when I use two fingers, so my comments are usually short due to that.

    I’ve made a lot of long posts today – actually over the past several days since I’m imprisoned – and a fair number of other comments with lengths way out of character for me.

    Also, I’ve made more serious comments than I usually do. Most of mine are teasing-type or banter-filled posts. BTW, I only tease people I like. I get all formal, and forget about me writing in dialect, which I do a lot of just for literary practice and for fun.

    Egads! I’ve even provided some links!

    All that stuff I wrote above can only mean one thing: The signs, omens, chicken entrails, and prophesies are all converging and…
    The World Ends Tomorrow.

  39. E.M.Smith says:

    Made a loaf of sort of ciabatta bread tonight. The sponge from prior bread making had sat over night. It was thinner than expected. Last night I’d added equal mass of flour and water, but thought it a bit thick, so added more water. Mistake. Just add equal amounts of water and flour by weight. As it ferments, water is created. So today, added more flour. Then turned it out on a very well floured board and turned, folded it to a loose dough stage. Ought to have used a bowl, as picking up a loose dough loaf is a challenge, but got it onto an oiled baking sheet. Raised in a warm 100 F oven for about 40 minutes, then sat on the counter as the oven warmed to 450 F. Baked about 40 minutes, a very nice crusty Italian style loaf resulted. Will go very well with tomato dishes, soups, or dipped in olive oil. Buttered too!

    I left about a cup in the sponge pot. (I’ve now dedicated a pot & lid from an old double boiler as a sponge pot. One pot of the set having expired in a LOCA, loss of cooling accident, some years ago). It now gets a couple of cups flour and matching 1 cup water added and stirred in, for tomorrow. About 250 grams flour and 250 grams water ( 8 ounces weight flour one cup / 8 oz. water) with 1/2 tsp (5 ml) salt per cup of flour ( 125 grams flour).

    This ferments overnight making a yeast rich sponge, that is dumped on a well floured surface the next day and worked into a nice dough / loaf. Repeat each day for daily bread. Adding only flour, salt, and water as the sponge is your yeast / starter.

    When you get tired of that much bread, set the sponge pot in the fridge to slow it down, or freeze it to go on vacation ;-)

  40. E.M.Smith says:


    The world can’t end tomorrow. I already have other plans, plus the next bread sponge is already started. Can you move it to Wednesday? I never liked Wednesdays much anyway…


  41. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Well, if I can make it out fishing tomorrow, that might throw some sand in the gears of the Wheel Of Fate.
    When in checkout lines and the cashier gives that automatic, corporate mandated, totally unfelt, spoken in a random direction, “Have a nice day,” I always reply, “Thanks, but I had other plans.”
    OK. I am carefully checking my email address for typos. I see none. If this hits the moderation queue, then that shoots my email address typo theory down.

    Which means the moderation switch is on for my posts and E.M . has determined “H.R. needs watching before hurts himself or someone else.”

    Just tell me straight up E.M. I can take it “Don’t run with scissors for the next few days, H.R.”

  42. E.M.Smith says:

    Turning leftover mashed potatoes, flour, milk and leftover vegetables into Tater Cakes

    2 cups mashed potatoes, cup of flour, 1/2 cup milk, seasoning & chopped leftover vegetables or meats (optional). Spoon into pan and fry.

    I’m going to work up a prepper version using instant potatoes and canned milk. I was inspired to buy two big boxes of instant mashed potatoes by Larry Ledwick’s stories.

  43. Timster says:

    Re Tater Cakes.
    Similar but different in Oz. We would batter and then deep fry them. oh, and less of the veggies. Just taters :-) …kinda like this

    These do sound great though

  44. E.M.Smith says:


    A few of your comments had email addresses ending in .c missing the final “om”, and thus offending the WordPress Gods Of Om… so I hand edited them to “put it back…”

    So that was not on me….

  45. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m thinking “filled with bacon and cheese” then fried in too much butter, woukd be wonderful…

  46. rhoda klapp says:

    Your tater cakes are our bubble and squeak. Any leftover veg from sunday lunch and mashed potato in any proportion. For tradition that should include cabbage. A few bits of fatty bacon don’t hurt. Start off by frying (in butter, bacon fat, beef fat, you know the score) and finish under the grill.

  47. H.R. says:

    Second comment from the top, I mentioned a dish I was going to make from found-around ingredients from my stash.

    E.M. gave it “sounds good” but mentioned he was thinking more along the lines of prepper food salvaged from l-o-o-o-ng-term storage that one might otherwise have considered to have gone bad.

    I was thinking more along the lines of supply chains disruptions so can’t get more food, but utilities are intact; fridge, freezer, water, gas, electric OK.

    So the mac was from an old box of elbows. The sausage was from the freezer and getting long in the tooth. I had an onion, but a bit of dried onion would work nicely. The cheese sauce was in a jar and a “gourmet” thing so that’s cheese that can be stored for a long time after any hope of real cheese is long gone.

    Anyhow, last night I made that baked Mac ‘n cheese with sausage crumbles and a bit of onion and it’s yummy!

    I browned the sausage and broke it down it down into large crumbles, about 1cm or a shade smaller, adding the onion towards the end.

    The elbows were cooked until just right for a final baking, i.e. to the low side of done.

    The cheese sauce was designed to use out of the jar with fully cooked mac, so I needed to thin it so it would have some liquid for the mac to absorb. I had milk in the fridge, but dry milk or tinned, condensed milk could be mixed with water to make regular milk in a no-refrigeration scenario.

    I mixed that all into a greased (bacon grease!) flat rectangular baking dish and topped it with bread crumbs, optional but traditional on baked mac ‘n cheese. Into the oven it went at 350(F) for 25 minutes to start, then I kept an eye on it to make sure the bread crumbs browned, but didn’t burn. I think that was another 10 minutes or so for the batch size in this case.

    Obviously, a larger batch would take more time, but the time is whatever you want, since everything is cooked and the baking is just to blend all the flavors and put a crust on the mac ‘n cheese.

    Note: A Dutch oven over fire would work just fine.

    Also, I had some bread crumbs, but as a prepper tip, all that bake your own bread that E.M. is posting how-to articles on? Any that gets dried out before you finish it up can be crumbled up into bread crumbs and put in one of those glass jars you emptied of something else some months ago. That will make sure you get maximum use out of your supplies.

    Of course you could always use any of the old remains of bread up to make bread pudding instead of bread crumbs :o)

    Well, sausage, onion, mac, and cheese is a good flavor combo. For a proper prepper dinner, add some greens on the side, either what you’re growing or dandelion greens or other gathered wild greens would make for a nice complete meal.
    I’ve never seen a recipe for this, although I’m sure I’m not the first to make it and there’s probably a similar recipe online. It’s just most people think of, and like, mac ‘n cheese and so don’t get past that.

    My point was that meals don’t have to be boring and that working from a prepper stash is actually a way to come up with something new, because what you’ve got is all you’ve got so it can result in “Hey, this sounds like it would all be good together.”

  48. E.M.Smith says:


    I remember Mac’N Cheese with browned hot dog bits in it. Some other kid’s house in about 1960 and I was invited to stay for dinner. As I have some hotdogs in the freezer, I think I’ll give that a try in a few weeks.

    I’ve also added various vegetables to the mix sometimes. One of our “regulars” it tuna noodle.

    Make a package of Kraft Mac’N Cheese per package directions. In a quart casserole dish, layer drainded tuna bits, Mac, and peas, stir together, do another layer. I usually get about 3 layers. Reserve a bit of Mac for the top layer.

    Sometimes I top it with cheese shreds or slices. Bake at 350 to 375 for about 20 minutes until the top looks good and the edges are starting bubble a little. Ceramic dishes take longer, metal very fast.

    I’ve made this with canned salmon and it is good too, though a different flavor. I suspect some hotdog slices or SPAM cubes & corn would work too.

    If you use 2 boxes Mac & 2 tuna cans, then it takes a whole can of peas, otherwise you have a half can to deal with.

    Made it with turkey leftovers one year, also nice.

    I top half with ground pepper for me, the other plain for the spouse.

  49. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and in the restaurant we’d toss the heel ends of all the bread in a box atop the fridge. It would dry out, then I’d run it through a hand crank grinder to make the breadcrumbs for anything breadded.

    I still do that, but now it is just a gallon sized plastic tub. You can also cut it in cubes for stuffing.

  50. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Not surprised to hear about the hot dogs and mac. Particularly when mom’s stayed home, 1 income, and if lots of kids, had to stretch things to make a meal.

    Plus, that sounds like ’50s/’60s casserole cooking, which also brought us that gosh awful lime jello mold with cottage cheese, shredded carrots and pineapple? Americans had a poor palate back then. The coasts had more ethnic and spicy or complex flavored dishes with things no one in Indiana could pronounce. Chicago, too.

    Flyover country was salt and pepper, a bit of onion, and Velveeta cheese as the main flavor enhancers. Catsup, yellow mustard, and mayo were the sauces.

    But farm food, farm food! Meat & potatoes & egg noodles and bacon and sausage and poultry and pork AND veggies of all sorts, fresh in season and canned otherwise. Flyover country is the home of all that comfort food Americans love. Not sophisticated in the least, but done very well with all the flavor of fresh, quality ingredients being the feature, not fancy schmancy spices.
    Per bread odds and ends. The nicer restaurants bake their own little mini loaf side breads, and if you order a salad, it’s obvious they make their own because they are nothing like any crouton you can buy. I asked once, and the place I was at said “Yes, we make our own.” Aha! I thought so.

    At home, I don’t think a lot of people think to make their own bread crumbs, but I know a fair number make their own croutons to get them seasoned the way they like OR to make sure there is no seasoning at all; food allergies and whatnot.

    The bread crumbs just popped into mind because it’s no biggie to buy a big container of them, but if food may be scarce, people need to start thinking how to stretch what they have out to the end where it was all eaten. It’s something obvious to me… now. But it’s best to have ideas and thinking like that up front rather than hope the ideas come to you when you really need them

    You write a lot of tips on those usages and that type of thinking. I’m an amateur chef-wanna-be foodie that’s always been concentrated on novel flavor combinations and textures/presentations. Just reading your posts has been getting my head in the correct mode for simpler survival type cooking.

    Have your survival stash ready and know how to use it, which is what you’ve been writing about. Once someone gets that down, then you make hay while the sun shines and go as crazy and $$$ as you want with your foodies fantasies.

  51. H.R. says:

    I forgot to mention farm baking. Omigosh! Omigosh!

    Forget I mentioned it ;o)

  52. E.M.Smith says:


    Dad grew up on an Iowa farm with an Amish cooking style via his Mom. Lots of “never waste” and make from scratch. Lots of garden vegetables, canning, preserving, and on farm ham & bacon making.

    You used what was on the farm ’cause a trip to town was rare. Buckboad and horses era, and kerosene lights. Big pantry and a food storage for yearly crops like fruits to jams or dried, or green bean canning. If you wanted green beans in winter or early spring, you canned them.

    Now you know where I get it from ;-)

  53. Compu Gator says:

    H.R. [replied] 13 April 2020 at 5:05 pm [GMT]:
    Flyover country is the home of all that comfort food Americans love. Not sophisticated in the least, but done very well with all the flavor of fresh, quality ingredients being the feature, not fancy schmancy spices.

    Oh, would that you were correct in your attribution. But “mac-&-cheese” is traceable to both an Italian cookbook and an English cookbook from the 14th Century. Recall that Italian pasta is sometimes credited to Marco Polo’s experience with Chinese cuisine during his Silk-Road journey at the end of the 13th Century, but that might’ve been a 20th-Century marketing campaign. Wikipedia claims that the Chinese mein or mienits documented as existing there during the Han Dynasty: Approx. the same time as arguably the best years of the Roman Empire [#].

    In the U.S.A., the subject dish seems to be credibly credited to the Mid Atlantic Coast, and notflyover country“. Perhaps seeking to establish it as a dish of Southern comfort food, there are modern writers who credit the dish to Thomas Jefferson himself. They trace it to his years as U.S. Minister to France (1785–1789), in Paris where the combination of Northern-European cheeses (made into Mornay sauce) and Italian pasta were apparently popular. He is documented as serving such a dish at a state dinner in 1802 (as PotUS 1801–1809). Then Mary Randolph (of the very prominent Randolphs of Virginia) provided a recipe for “macaroni and cheese” in her cookbook The Virginia House-Wife (1824) [☆].

    Well, I’m one of the apparently rare United-Statesians who doesn’t like mac-&-cheese. I visualize it as potentially drowning me in waves of weight-inflating calories and arterially-clogging cholesterol. If I must suffer comparable ill effects, I’d much rather get them from fried chicken or the wonderfully juicy skin of a lecheria pork roast [♡]. I consider mac-&-cheese the “poster dish” for the U.S. obesity epidemic. Hey-ell!, I’d long suspected that the recipe was a Yankee plot to addict residents of the rebellious South to its comforts, so that the resulting widespread obesity would ruin the cultural advantages of Confederate soldiers, notably superior horsemanship compared to the urban Yankees, and hobble the fitness of Southern slaves to do useful work.

    Note #: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_noodles#History”.

    Note ☆: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macaroni_and_cheese#History”.

    Note ♡: See! There are things that I especially like about Puerto Rican culture. The corresponding Cuban and Texas pork roasts seem too dried-out to me, but my sample-size is certainly too small. Unfortunately for me, the lecheria I like is situated in the far east of Orlando, where it’s inconsistent with minimizing consumption of gasoline.

  54. Compu Gator says:

    Compu Gator [replied] 13 April 2020 at 11:33 pm [GMT]:
    I’d long suspected that the recipe was a Yankee plot to addict residents of the rebellious South to its comforts, so that the resulting widespread obesity would [….] hobble the fitness of Southern slaves to do useful work.

    Well! What a quaint 19-Century idea: Attack the economic bases of your adversary’s society. But really now: That’s all in the past! Sovereign nations of the 21st-Century are much too advanced to use such simplistic strategies against our adversaries, aren’t we?

  55. Power Grab says:

    @ EM:

    Great chili story! I don’t remember reading that one before!

    When I was in high school, for some reason a classmate brought in a batch of jalapeno cornbread. It was part of an assignment, IIRC. When they cut up pieces for everyone, and handed them out, they said as people started reacting to the heat, “Don’t go drink water! That makes it worse!” I think someone said something about milk, but I don’t think anyone had milk in the classroom. I don’t think I had had any jalapenos before that.

    Dad used to tell the story about his dad and the jar of peppers on the restaurant table. Once upon a time Granddad was eating at a restaurant with some buddies and took out a pepper from the jar on the table and popped it in his mouth and chewed and swallowed it like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. One particular buddy refused to take the bait and told him why. He said it was because he could see a trickle of sweat running down Granddad’s face while he was eating the pepper.

  56. E.M.Smith says:

    Some kind of grain paste cooked has been a feature of human cooking from before history began. Attempting to assign ownership for the invention of “noodles” is futile. Some of these primitive fresh noodles would have dried to dry noodles sometimes.

    Also, Rome & China knew about each other before Marco.

    Finally, millet was the major grain of China , not rice, and certainly not wheat, in ancient times. Millet does not make really good noodles and was usually eaten as cooked grains. You can make noodles from it, but wheat is easier, IMHO.

  57. E.M.Smith says:


    My other chili story is at Mexican Friend’s home. I think I was about 12 at the time. Maybe 14. So they often had some new “cousins” show up for a while. Typically little or no English and never seen in town before. Tended to rabbit out the back when La Trucke eeennnesse INS was spotted near.

    I’d been swapping meals at his house for his at my house for many years. Mama Celerina grew her own chilies and made her own very hot Salsa Verde. I knew that sauce and usually used only a few drops. Two New Cousins were seated across from me (and didn’t know my Spanish ability). They plotted putting one over on the Gringo…

    Each took a taco and put a generous 1/4 spoon of salsa on it, then did the Yum Yum eating show…and asked “you try?” with looks and gestures. OK, sais me… I pick up a taco, and lift a 1/4 spoon of salsa. I say “That looks kinda small”.. look of disdain…and dip up 1/2 teaspoon and hold it… They look at each other with a mix of mirth fading into “will he blow up at us…” hook set, I dip up a full spoon, smile and say “That looks good” and dribble it on my taco. They gets looks of Oh My God we killed him… I take a long pause for effect.

    Now for unknown reasons, even modest hot makes my head sweat. From in the hair right down to my chin, where sweating stops… There is no doubt when I eat any chili spice.

    I proceed to take a big bite, let my eyes slowly widen a little, chew, swallow and take another bigger bite. As I eat the whole thing, my redhead transparent facial and neck skin brightens to quite pink / red, and a small river starts running into my collar. I finish the whole thing as they watch astonished. It dawns on them that I know this salsa and I was willing to walk through pain to turn the joke on them. The “smile in the eyes” giving me away.

    Upside was that from that moment on I was accepted by them as the crazy gringo with macho!

    Unfortunately, I could not taste any of the rest of the meal…

  58. tom0mason says:

    Do you like the relatively cheap pork, pork chops, sausage, etc. Or maybe chicken and eggs. Probably coming to a store near you will be a hike in the price as meat processors are shutting down.

  59. E.M.Smith says:


    Went grocery shopping today. Smart & Final are back to having weekly discount prices on selected chicken parts. 99 ¢ / pound instead of 79 ¢ but plenty of supply. One different brand from before. Regular price up near $1.30 – $1.50 / pound.

    The USA is very large with lots of packers. Outages need to be in % to say anything about prices.

    Smithfield are owned by China, so likely high contact. Plus export a lot of pork to China now. This is likely a bigger issue for China exports than USA dinner.


    This is why I canned a bunch of Chicken at 79 ¢ and filled a shelf with canned hams & SPAM. Oh, and a few pounds of bacon in the freezer. So likely not going to be an issue for me anyway ;-)

  60. Compu Gator says:

    E.M.Smith 14 April 2020 at 1:25 am :
    Mama Celerina grew her own chilies and made her own very hot Salsa Verde. I knew that sauce and usually used only a few drops.

    Sooo, more importantly, were you ever able to obtain seeds from her chile plants so you could grow them as an adult? Nowadays, chiles home-grown in a smallish farming town ca. early 1960s might count as fairly close to “heirloom” seeds.

    I ask because a disabled elderly resident of my neighborhood, whose lawn I cut when in my teens, had a tall Tabasco plant[*] at the gate to her back yard. It had grown taller than the gate and its fence, which were of the tall wrought-iron variety (i.I.r.c.), so maybe over 6 ft. tall. It was well adapted to Central Florida, because during my tenure, it received no gardening care whatsoever (none was ever requested).

    One of my modern regrets is that even after her eventual death, I never obtained any seeds from such a successful plant. I would’ve needed to accomplish that before any outsiders bought the property and tore out all of her long-lived well-adapted plants. They would’ve done that so they could boutique her landscape before flipping the property.

    Note *: Now my favorite hot-pepper variety to grow. I can now be sure that her plant was a Tabasco, recalling childhood games running around our neighborhood: The first to reach that gate would pull off a pepper or two, then squirt its contents at the nearest of the children chasing him. I’ve learned recently that only Tabasco plants produce pods that have any fluid inside.

  61. Power Grab says:

    @ EM re: “Upside was that from that moment on I was accepted by them as the crazy gringo with macho!”

    So did they stop trying to challenge you with the spicy food?

  62. E.M.Smith says:


    Unfortunately, no. My seed saving didn’t get going until about 1985.


    Never another challenge from any of the various Mexican families, friends, relatives… I think maybe it became a reputation or something…. Or they feared they might kill me as I was clearly too crazy stupid to refuse a challenge….

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