Slow Cooker Ham & Rice – Results

Follow-up to today’s Slow Cooker Ham & Rice Experiment …

OBEY!Wouldn’t it be handy if I could somehow succinctly sum-up my slow cooker ham and rice experiment — perhaps using a 1-10 score card system or a red/yellow/green-light indicator?

Well … I don’t have that … so let’s break it down in short order.  Ready … GO!

The Rice

Rice rice baby!
Pretty idyllic looking rice, huh? Yeah, mine didn’t turn out this nice.

In the previous post I wrote two ways to slow cook rice.  I’m going to have to try this again because my 2 parts water to 1 part rice flopped.  About half of it turned to mush.  I received a text from my mom about 4 hours into cooking saying that she does equal parts water and rice then cooks on high for 1 hour.  OOPS!  When I’ve had her slow cooker rice it’s turned out great.  I’ll have to try this the next time I need rice.

The Ham

Hammy ham ham!
Also NOT my ham …. looks like a good one though!

Cooking the ham for 8 hours was of course easy.  When I pulled the pieces out of my 2 slow cookers the work to clean it out (remove the fat, bone, etc) was straightforward but a bit time consuming … but then at times I can be fastidious.

At the beginning of this work I took a nibble and the ham seemed to be on the bland side*.  I didn’t know if this was because of the way I cooked it or if it was just a lower-salt ham**.  As my ham cooled the flavour seemed to return.  I suspect this happened as a result of the water I cooked it with steaming out.

Johnny's Seasoning Salt
The Johnny’s

Ultimately I opted to give the ham a little boost improvising a simple glaze with what I had on hand.  In a 2 cup  measure I started with a healthy splash of apple cider vinegar.  Then I added a healthy dollop of molasses followed by a hearty sprinkling of Johnny’s Seasoning Salt, then about as much warm water as the molasses.  After mixing I felt that the volume was a bit low, so I doubled everything except the vinegar.  In increments I poured this around on the meat, tossed the meat, and repeated until all of my ‘glaze’ was in.  I then cooked on high for another hour.  It didn’t ‘glaze’ of course, but it made additional elements of flavour.
(Hindsight — I could have used a cap or two of liquid smoke as well.)

In the end, it turned out pretty tasty — not fantastic, but I think this shows promise.  This is definitely worth another attempt along with some further tweaking.

(WARNING – SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION in another 3… 2…)

Well, back to work on completing my ***FIRST RECIPE BOOK***.  It’s pretty close to being done!

* It made me think of the 1979 Coppola film “Apocalypse Now” when the character Jay ‘Chef’ Hicks talked about military cook training when they boiled beautiful cuts of meat — I thought my ham was destroyed.
** If you’re not familiar with how ham is cured there are 3 common ways, 2 of which use a special pink salt which gives ham its color.

Links

Slow Cooker Ham & Rice EXPERIMENT

Trying something new-to-me today — I’m preparing ham and rice slow cooker style!

Black slow cooker ... it must be EVIL!
Not my actual slow cooker … too bad, then it’d match the rest of my appliances!

While I’ve baked plenty of hams, during the past week I thought about how I wanted to prepare the one in my fridge.  Lately I’ve been busy up-to-my-ears and I wanted something that would be Low Hassle.  Then it occurred to me — I should be able to slow cook a ham (read: DUH!).  I posted the idea on my Facebook profile and of course other folks have done this before.  Doing it, I’m told, is simple — put the ham in the slow cooker, add about a pint of water, and cook it on low for about 8 hours and then it falls off the bone!

(WARNING – SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION in 3… 2… 1…)

WOW — that’s practically identical to my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork featured in my soon-to-be-published ***FIRST RECIPE BOOK***!

I got started about three hours ago.  The ham was big enough I had to cut bits off and fit it between my 2 regular-size cookers.  When it’s done I plan to clean the meat — getting rid of the fat, bone, etc.  The friend who said she prepares ham this way sounded like she shreds it, too.  My original thought was that at this point I would add a glaze for flavour, as I would BBQ sauce to my Pulled Pork, and re-cook it on high for 30-60 minutes — but folks who replied said that wouldn’t be necessary.  So I think I’ll keep it simple for this first time around.

As for the rice, I’m doing my mom’s trick in my small cooker — usual 2-1 ratio of water to rice and let it go all day (note that this cooker only cooks on one temp which I believe is high).  Believe it or not I think this is the first time I’ve all 3 of my slow cookers going at once!

UPDATE – My mom said she does 1-1 water & rice and cooks for 1 hour.  I did 2-1 and cooked for close to 4 hours.  It came out sticky but … well, I got lucky.  Results may vary, experiment, you’ll find out what works for you.

All that and some french-cut green beans … yeah, I think I’m going to have a nice dinner for the next number of nights — not bad for a single guy!  (*Read my follow-up to this experiment here.*)

Lastly, I realized a LOL lately…
Slow Cooker = Easy-Bake Oven for Adults

This is the gender-neutral version of the Easy-Bake Oven that Hasbro designed to satisfy one individual's complaint. Seriously ... we're getting offended about this now?!? How about just learning to cook with a REAL stove and oven....

Links

Priorities on a Sunday night

Taking it extra easy Sunday night Priorities
Eight forty five PM Priorities
And it’s time for a new post on my Facebook page
I’ve played bagpipes for the last 3 days Priorities
I’m exhausted and recovering Priorities
Back to work on my book tomorrow Priorities

Okay, so Elton John did a much better job on those lyrics than I did…

Time for a quick update — some maybe not so new…

PrioritiesLife of a bagpiping budding recipe book author — it has a certain quirky romance to it, but in reality it can be a juggle … well, on top of fixing a truck, contributing to finish building a house, and helping to support one’s parents.  Since late last year I’ve had to prioritize these things — and shift my priorities depending on the week! Priorities

I’ve been working to knock down my ToDo List, and frankly … I’ve had a few things to get out of the way to where I can refocus on finishing my book. Priorities

Frankly … today has been spent resting

couch potatoThe last 3 days I’ve been on a St. Patrick’s Day tour playing Celtic-rock both with Geoffrey Castle and my own band, Nae Regrets.  Each day things ramped up.  Thursday I opened for Geoff in Kirkland.  Friday morning I had a Nae Regrets rehearsal in the morning and then played for Geoff in the historic Mount Vernon Lincoln Theater (video below).  Saturday Nae Regrets played in Mountlake Terrace, then I flew down to Auburn to play for Geoff, and then I flew back to Maplewood neighborhood in North Seattle for Nae Regrets to play a house party.  And then I got my tired self home and CRASHED until 10AM Sunday morning.

goofy juggler
Imagine each red ball as things I’m working on — yeah, it’s about like that right now

All of the shows went well.  Taking off for three days and playing was also a nice break from everything I’ve been focused on.  AND NOW …

I’m pleased to announce that a variety of ToDo items are out of my way and I can make finishing my recipe book my prime focus …. at least until something else comes up.  Yeah, I never learned to juggle in practical terms however I sure can figuratively juggle!

So this week I aim to… bake cookies and take pictures to make some step-by-step instruction photos, work up the surprise content, and address some final writing.  And depending on how I’m feeling tomorrow, rest-up some more from this fantastic past weekend!

LINKS
Yeah, it’s about time to replace my chanter reed (what makes the melody) — it’s become sensitive to over-blowing.

Bag Pipper Don

The Mighty Wurlitzer is not the only pipes that are played at the Lincoln Theatre.

Posted by Linda Ann Lipke on Sunday, March 18, 2018

And now Elton John in the event you got the tune in your head — or wanted to hear it right after my lame parody lyrics.

Priorities

Building Oneself In The Book Business

Rock 'n' Roll baby
Geoff Castle’s 2013 Celtic Xmas Concert in Anacortes, WA – photo courtesy of Chris Terrell

Lately I focused some of my time on studying how to build oneself in the business of self-publishing books — in other words, marketing.

When it comes to gaining attention, my knowledge-base was born out of the music industry — promoting bands, representing albums, and selling my services as a solo Highland bagpiper for people’s life events ranging from weddings to retirement parties and of course funerals.  I applied this DIY gumption and (albeit subtly) my rock ‘n’ roll marketing approach to period of my business when I was producing baked goods, and I have been continuing this into this new endeavour of writing and self-publishing recipe books.

E-Readers

thumbs up for the e-reader
Thanks Aleta!

As you will recall from my 07Nov2017 blog post, an online friend — Aleta — generously offered to send one of her earlier e-readers to me.  She wanted to support my plan to turn my first recipe book into an e-reader edition, and it helps to have a device to view your work as you are converting your book file into an e-reader file.  As I have been learning about the conversion process I have also started learning about other authors publishing and marketing their e-books.  Much to this voracious reader’s joy I have also learned about free e-books!  Among these I have found books and articles on marketing.  This morning I read a marketing article that enhanced both thoughts and plans I already had…

How to Turn your Book into 18 STREAMS of Income
by Kary Oberbrunner

Kary Oberbrunner
Kary Oberbrunner … we haven’t met.

Go-getters, movers and shakers, creative people, and artist have at least two things in common — we all have great ideas to work from and we all make mistakes.  When we learn from our mistakes or learn about mistakes to avoid and-how we all grow!

Kary Oberbrunner’s article “How to Turn your Book into 18 STREAMS of Income” points out marketing mistakes for writers to avoid (like thinking of books as business cards) along with options and opportunities that they may have not realized.  Some of what Mr. Oberbrunner presents in his article I am already familiar with and is parallel to my direction — other elements have shown me new ideas or ways to think differently about things I already know.

His main focus in this article is for writers to turn their books into an income stream.  One morsel — section 2 on ebooks, suggesting why most (every?) author should turn their printed book into an e-book — particularly resounded with my plans and I had an AH-HA! moment.  The gist of the writing was …

“Ebooks are as close as your smartphone. You can read an ebook while standing on a subway, sitting in a doctor’s office, or waiting in line at the grocery store.”

Relative to my recipe book everything before ‘grocery store’ made sense once I read ‘grocery store.

baking books
Recipe Books — JOY JOY JOY!

Folks haul their phones everywhere, and often folks with e-readers haul them everywhere, too.  They might have 100+ books on their e-reader but they don’t haul 100 books everywhere.  Most of the books I have put on my phone duplicate to my e-reader and vice versa.

While I have queried and found that most people prefer to NOT cook or bake working from recipes on an e-screen, it could still be beneficial to have your recipes — or preferably My Recipes (<– I am not above shameless self promotion) — on your phone or e-reader.   Folks don’t haul all their recipe books to work where they think about what they are going to make for dinner, and then haul those books to the grocery store where they double check ingredients they are going to buy.

The big AH-HA! I had was…

I had already planned to convert my book to an e-book, but now I am thinking — PLEASE put my recipe book on your electronic device.  If you don’t want to work in the kitchen from an electronic screen, I understand — to each their own — but bring it with you when you shop, or when you are going to be thinking about what you’re going to make for your friends or family.  Or what you might make for the hottie  in the accounting department at work whom you just landed a date with!

Does it make sense for me to convert my recipe book to an e-book?

OH YEAH!

All things Kary Oberbrunner

Book Title & Recent Publishing Work

So here’s a thing… about publishing

Tom E. Trimbath
This is Tom. He’s taller in person.

I’ve been fortunate enough to gain a friend and self-publishing coach in one of my Whidbey Island neighbors, multi-book author Tom Trimbath.  My introduction to Tom came through attending his presentation at my local library — how to self-publish a book.  At that time I had a few books roughed out and privately socked away that I intended to work on publishing at a later time — a children’s book, a book on how to become a professional highland bagpiper, some screenplay ideas … you know, the usual. publishing

The Amazon River
Online booksellers — we can all think of one in particular!

One of the tips that Tom gave in his presentation was that because of online booksellers, book titles are no longer just book titles, they are also search terms … and by the way, book covers are no longer just a book cover, they are also an icon representing your book on that online seller’s site …  I mean, this all makes sense when it’s pointed out but you might not think of it if you’re not an author trying to self-publish or new to the arena. publishing

So for the past 2+ years, the title I’ve been working with for my coming book has been “Bake Your Own Darn Good Cookies”.  This was the kinder and gentler version of a title to another book I plan to publish (more on that later).  Good title, fun title — sure — but there are problems with it.  There aren’t really any good search-term words in it … it doesn’t represent the fact that my book gives recipes for various types of cookies, coffee, and main courses, so it kind of confuses the reader …. and it doesn’t really fit with my icon, er, I mean, book cover artwork. publishing

All that to say … publishing

Laptop, comfy spot, what more do I need?I’ve been working on a new and better title.  I’ve come up with one, it’s functional — it has many of the attributes I’m aiming for.  It might still stand a bit of work-shopping (polishing), but it’s encouraging to have something that feels like a better fit for the whole package. publishing

How exciting is all of this — is this some Block Buster announcement?  No, not really — but for an author and their book, it actually is pretty important.  Also, frankly, I felt I needed to provide all the great folks who have been interested and supportive of my endeavour with an update. publishing

So what’s also going on — what’s left to finish my book and when is it going to be published?

Those are questions I both do & don’t have precise answers for…

Nooo!!Some Additional Writing and Final Editing – This book has required an extra year due to my hard drive crashing when I was nearly ready to publish in January 2017.  Suffice to say, I’ve learned the hard way, BACK-UP YOUR HARD DRIVE.  I had to nearly start over, fortunately I managed to locate an early back-up along with smaller pieces I located in my e-mail history.  I’ve been working with these materials since June 2018.  The main writing is nearly done — I need to add some writing in the introduction to make the original writing make sense and complete the final editing.  That and re-doing the pagination.

How to roll biscotti dough in nuts
See the light reflections at the bottom and to the left? Yeah, those are kind of a problem.

Graphics – I took cover art photos last January; most of these were recovered.  I lately made two batches of cookies to take step-by-step instructional photos, showing how to roll & cut biscotti along with spreading & cutting cookie squares.  To the left is an example of these … unfortunately I picked up light flares in the stove top.  I’ve figured out the lighting so I don’t get these flares and I plan to re-take these pictures soon.  Then it’s a matter of inserting all of my pictures into my book.

Content Surprise – YES, I have a content surprise.  Something you have probably NEVER seen in any recipe book before.  Since my original draft of the book I have added 2/3rds more surprise to the surprise and I need to do the initial development on that 2/3rds.

So what is the final book looking like — and when is it going to be published?

Working on my book is one of my current top priorities, and it will be done as soon as possible …. when that is?  Could be weeks, could be a few months yet with everything else I’m juggling.  The EXCITING news is that it looks to have around 50 recipes ranging from numerous types of cookies, several flavours of my unique biscotti, hot beverages, coffee cake, easy applesauce, and some delicious main courses.  Also, I’m trilled to feature guest writers who have contributed both recipes and chapter introductions (you know who you are and thank you Thank You THANK YOU!). publishing

I’m excited … it’s coming … finally, soon.

~ Don

All things Tom Trimbath…

Priorities, Focus, and Accomplishments (AKA Crazy Avoidance)

Nooo!!
I seriously looked like this for a few days…

Just over a year ago I was nearly ready to publish my recipe book … when my not-backed-up hard drive CRASHED.  I researched getting the information on my hard drive recovered through a number of data recovery companies.  That proved prohibitive — I was going to have to start over!  Fortunately, I found an old back-up on one of my other computers.  To my relief I did not lose any of my recipes, which is of course the most important part — but for all the rest of my work … I was going to have to start over.  What did I learn from all this? Priorities

priorities That’s right… priorities

BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE.

CheckChick.com
Writers — need an AWESOME editor — ask for Linda…

So, using the partial back-up I found, I restarted my book during June 2017 and I have been working on it since.  I even got a SUPER COOL editor by accidental fortune and dhum luck …. er, I mean, dumb luck.  I am here to say that things have been going well and I’m nearly done!  Again. Priorities

BagpiperDon
Like this from the 2013 tour but this time with more hair.

This past holiday season, despite my preferences, I had to take a bit of a break from this work.  I needed to prioritize on things other than my book. On top of working my day-job, baking a ton of cookies as gifts for friends (that’s kinda my thing), I was preparing for time with my family, and my truck let me know it needed a number of repairs.  In addition to all that I had been asked once again to contribute to the annual Celtic-rock Christmas tour by the esteemed fiddler, Geoffrey Castle.  Given my previous music experiences with Geoff, that was an opportunity was I was NOT about to miss! Priorities

So now it’s January 2017 … I mean 2018, and I am back to work — on my book, on my day-job, on my truck, on my music, on … on … on … TOO MUCH!  Out of necessity, I prioritized during the holidays to get things done, so why not now?  That occurred to me last week, and it’s left me thinking…. Priorities

Tonka dump truck
This looks a little different than my truck

I need my truck for coming events.  My book needs to be brought to completion because … well … with trials & tribulations the project has been going for a prolonged period.  I want to enjoy the next stage of it — having it published and connecting with people about baking and good food.

So it makes sense to put everything else aside and focus on these, right?  I think so!

I’m sizing things up — I’m considering this temporary shift.  If I do it, I see it as being possible that I could be done with my book in a matter of weeks, my truck too!  By doing this I would reduce the directions I’m stretched in and attempt to keep my sanity (/CHORTLE), and then be better able to focus on both the work that remains and the work ahead.  This could also better allow me to promote my coming book — which has been a challenge with everything already happening. Priorities

thumbs up for Priorities

So there’s my thought, maybe my Plan Of Action — we’ll all know soon enough — wish me LUCK! Priorities

All the Best ~ Don

Linda at CheckChick.com

Geoff at GeoffreyCastle.com and Wikipedia

If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a small business owner … it’s being both of these kids … and you have to wear the costume.
Yes, in front of Everyone.

Star Wars Cookbook II

Star Wars Cookbook IIIf you’re like me, right now you are grinning from ear-to-ear having seen the latest Star Wars installment “The Last Jedi“!  In anticipation of the film, I looked on my library’s website for what material from the cannon they had available.  As it turned out, they had LOADS!

Star Wars films, soundtracks, books, audio books, William Shakespeare‘s Star Wars books — AND THIS — The Star Wars Cookbook II -Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes by Frankie Frankeny &‎ Wesley Martin.

Being into sci-fi, and soon to publish my own first baking/cooking book, I’ve started to look at recipe books with a different eye.  When it came to this Star Wars cookbook … I Simply Had To Check This Out!

Han-Burgers
Clever recipe titles!

Attributes

Geared toward kids, over the course of its 60 wipe-clean pages it features hilarious photographs and fun Star Wars themed recipes.  This second installment of The Star Wars Cookbook series even includes a washable plastic stencil of Darth Maul’s iconic face to help decorate culinary creations.  While kid-cooks might think they’re getting it play with their food, it instead teaches to get creative with cooking.  Bring your kids into the kitchen to learn to cook without the use of Jedi mind-control tricks!  Adults as well as kids will have a great time with this book.

Plastic stencil of Darth Maul on the left

Links

The Star Wars Cookbook II -Darth Malt and More @ Amazon.com
ISBN-10: 0811828034
ISBN-13: 978-0811828031

The Star Wars Cookbook II: Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes @ Wookieepedia

NOTE – “Star Wars” and all other names, references, images, et cetera are the property of their respective copyright owners.  If I have somehow violated copyright, please instruct as to how to correct this ….. in other words, Disney, please don’t sue me … besides, I don’t have anything.

Cling Wrap — A Pro Tip

Cling wrap — ever have problems getting it to stay on your food?

Cling wrap

Here’s a pro-tip — don’t put plastic wrap on your food, put your food on your cling wrap!

Yep — all sorts of problems can follow when cling wrap gets pulled out of the box, put over food, torn off … but instead, try this…

Cling wrap - you're doing it wrong

On a clean surface clear of other items, put your box of plastic wrap down with the opening pointing away from you. Pull a large section out (+/- 2 times the size of the plate you look to cover) and lay it down on the surface, the box will ‘hold’ the other end straight for you. Next, place the plate you wish to wrap *on* the cling wrap and bring the lose end up & over the plate to start covering your food. Rip the other end of the plastic wrap off of the box and fold it over the plate & cling wrap. Repeat as necessary to get everything covered.

Done right and you will have a good seal on your food that can also help to prevent leaks.

A box of cling wrap with a slide cutter makes this easier over those with the saw blade, but with some careful attention those will work just as well.

Cling wrap righter

Expiration Dates and Food Waste

Being a small business that has produced food I am full aware of how expiration dates work.  In my experience everything in the following video is accurate.

I am aware of and I have written on the topics of food quality and hunger.  One of the other things that Adam touches on in the video is food waste.  According to the USDA food waste in the United States “is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply”.  In 2010 this amounted to “approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food”.

This is perfectly good food that could feed the poor, hungry, and homeless.  A high percentage of this is food is never seen by the public but instead goes directly into landfills.  This makes added loss of land, water, labor, energy, and other resources diverting this food to dumps according to the EPA.  This could be beneficial to society but instead contributes to pollution.

The USDA reports on “How much food waste is there in the United States and why does it matter

The EPA’s report on food waste being the largest component of municipal landfills

Further reading in an article by TheAtlantic.com

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares – EXPERIMENT

What’s green and brown and all mixed up?

Some of my recipes I imagine and then create – with others I get the flavour idea from some other recipe, glean what I need from it in the way of flavouring and proportions, and then create my own cookie.  Early this month I came across a recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies – and they looked TASTY!  I instantly thought about this flavour being a cookie square…

Spread out in my forming pan and ready to go…

Around the middle of the month I got the opportunity to give it a go – take a look at the results below – it seems this is one of the times I nailed the recipe in the first go.  Here are two other bits of good news…

Yeah, I know, they’re a little toasted on top & don’t quite look minty green. I’ll see the inside results when I cut these apart after they’ve cooled over night.

…In simple terms, the way this recipe worked out, I learned more about my base Cookie Square recipe, enabling me to more easily make other flavours I imagine.

…I’ve already included this recipe in my soon-to-be-published baking book – not only do you get to see them here, but you will have the opportunity to make them yourself!

And how’s the book going?  There’s still a good chunk of work to do but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m working with an editor — Linda AKA CheckChick.com, who is FANTASTIC — and the writing is better than ever!  My *HOPE* is that the book will be published late-December or early-January.  Keep your eyes here and on the WIBC Facebook page…..

YEP – these cookies are GREEN! Trust me, I know – I live in a state where 1/2 of everything is green ….. not minty though.

Est. 1Dec2014