Category Archives: Bake Your Own Darn Good Cookies

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

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.

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.

Publishing Update – E-Reader Edition

As promised earlier today on Facebook
a Publishing Update!
Big or small, here’s the thing & here we go….
{Coming up – E-Readers & a Big Fat THANK YOU}

Ooh — BOOKS!

How do you like reading recipes?

When it comes to baking & cooking, I’m not particular — I prefer working from a recipe card, a piece of paper, or a book. Most of my recipes have coffee rings and other bits of ingredients decorating their edges. When it comes to working from an electronic screen I don’t mind working from my laptop, and I often do.

About a year ago I asked on the WIBC Facebook page what people prefer to work from — paper, computer screens, recipes written in pen on their forearm, etc. Largely I learned folks prefer paper, and I’m all for it. I am, however, planning to get my book published and As Soon As Possible following up with publishing for e-reader.

I have a little more work to go on my book before analogue publishing, and I’m already taking steps toward the re-format to follow. With this I have been learning that e-publishing is a different game — you have to do all sorts of different things to have your book appear right on an e-reader and there are different things you need to include in the writing — not to mention the things you CAN include …… yep, try to put a web link in your paper book!

*To That End*…. I posted a question on my personal Facebook profile lately asking about what I need to know to reformat my book as an e-book … the answer, A LOT. Okay, so, I’m working on that.

Big Tex – consummate Texas State Fair resident from 1952 to 2012

One of the responses I got was from an e-friend, Aleta somewhere in the great state of TEXAS (<– Note, everything is bigger in TEXAS), very kindly pointed out that to reformat my book for e-reader I would want to see it on an e-reader as I work, and she offered to send me one of her earlier cherished models.

My mom has been using e-readers for years … I’ve helped her figure out a few bugs with downloading her books …. but otherwise I’ve never used one & barely touched the things. I like my analogue books and have a stack of them to plow through. I asked my editor, Linda, if I needed one of these & about taking Aleta up on her generous offer. Short-story made longish by yours-truly, I took Aleta up on her offer and a smart little unit arrived by post yesterday!

Ophiuchs wrasselin’ a serpent with Hercules lending a helping club

This looks like a great device! And now I have to figure out how to work it …?… which, when it comes to electronics, I have a knack for that. I’ll just have to control my temptation to peek at it when I’m not currently working on my practical-publication — gotta get that puppy DONE!

There’s this great thing about finding passion for something & being a DIY’er — you say you want to do something and people come out and volunteer their support. Aleta has certainly helped me to go forward with her support in the new direction of Whidbey Island Baking Company.

Thanks Aleta!
All the Best ~ Don

WIBC on Facebook

The Great State of Texas and Texas.gov

Ophiuchus AKA the Serpent Bearer

Hercules who occasionally lends a helping club

…it’s still morning somewhere, right?!?

Mmm …. pie!

Sunday afternoon on the WIBC-Facebook page I said that I had a progress announcement about my baking book — and that I was going to post this morning …. and it’s now PIE’o’clock (3:14PM) …. and I’m realizing I didn’t get to it*, ACK! I’ve been busy getting my BagpiperDon website working right so it’s as equally as awesome as my recent updates to this site. ANYWAY…

I had a conference call with my editor, Linda, on Sunday. She is A*W*E*S*O*M*E — she’s bold, she’s brilliant, she’s hilarious, Linda Makes Work FUN! (And yes, Linda, you may quote me on that for your portfolio.) We nailed down a number of things both having to do with my book and my plans to re-release it after paper publication as an e-book. I have a check-list of the things I need to satisfy (as provided by my friend & e-publishing coach, Tom) — toward the end of my call with Linda I ran down the list and updated it.
(PSST! – Linda has a bran-new website COMING SOON – see here at CheckChick.com!)

Here’s the HURRAH Announcement

There are 18 total To-Do items on the list, I have 11 DONE, I have only 7 more to go!

Now — real quick — what does that mean?  Simply speaking, there are big tasks and small tasks in writing and publishing a book.  Usually writing the book is a huge task — DUH, obviously!  Other tasks may take a few hours, days, or weeks, and those are considerably short …. even if that means taking two days to craft a few paragraphs for the wings or back of a book.  There’s still the final edit work to do on my book, and the other tasks are really pretty small … but they add up & take time.  For DIY boot-strappers like myself that just means nose-to-the-gumption-grindstone!

“So when is your release date, Don?”

I am hoping to publish by Black Friday, however with everything going on I think it will be closer to Xmas. As many of you know I experienced a hard-drive crash early this year and have had to re-start my project working from old back-ups, e-documents I thought I had lost completely, and most but not all of the photos I had planned to include. Having received Linda’s added involvement has been nothing short of a GIFT! The book has been coming back together, and while it’s not done Right Now it is a better book than I had written last year. Do you think that this adds to my excitement???

OH YEAH!

So, work to go!
Back At It — Don

Tom and his many abilities at TrimbathCreative.wordpress.com
Linda, my editor, at CheckChick.com and her Check Chick Facebook page

* So here’s a little insight about being a small business owner….
It’s said that in ancient times if the gods wanted to get revenge on some humans they’d make them go crazy — and to accomplish this they make them fall in love. In modern times, I think gods make people go crazy by making them think “Hey, I can start & run a small business!”  Is a small business Love?  Well, if you’re passionate about what you’re doing…. then, Yes!