Monday, January 26, 2015

Silver Dollar Pancakes

I don't even know how to make pancakes, or it's more like I can't remember all the ingredients.

So, it's off to the internet to find a pancake recipe. Often when I search for a "simple" recipe, I find more "glorified" recipes than simple, so it is not always a straightforward task to find a recipe.

But, I got lucky, twice. I found a recipe for "Good Old Fashioned Pancakes" on allrecipes.com. A bonus was I just realized that their recipes offer an "adjust recipe" gadget that will give you the amount of ingredients needed for any number of servings. So, I was able to take the original recipe for 8 servings and adjust it for 4 servings. Cool.

But, as usual, I had to adapt the recipe for my needs.

Original Allrecipes Old Fashioned Pancakes recipe

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons white
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 egg
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg, and melted butter; mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.


My Silver Dollar Pancake recipe

First, I couldn't handle the 1/2 and 2 tablespoons stuff or the 1/2 egg, so I made adjustments.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons b powder
1/4 tspn salt
1 1/2 tspn sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil


Process:
Mix dry ingredients together well.
Add liquid ingredients.
Stir and mash until mixture is smooth.
Batter should be slightly thick. If batter is too runny, add more flour and stir until batter is smooth.

In a lightly oiled skillet, using a tablespoon of batter, drop a circle of batter into the skillet leaving room for more batter. Drop three more circles of batter into the skillet. When the batter bubbles throughout, flip the pancakes over to cook on the other side.

It doesn't take long to cook pancakes, so be careful not to cook them too long.


I went a little crazy. I wanted to add something to the pancakes but all I had was corn kernels, so I added 1/2 teaspoon to the top of the batter as it cooked and made Corn Silver Dollar Pancakes and they came out great.


Results: 16 silver dollar pancakes.

Potato Pancakes

Leftover Boiled Potato - Potato Pancakes


Ingredients:


1 leftover potato or part of potato, mashed
1 egg
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 a stalk or less, diced
2 heaping tablespoons flour
1/4 tspn baking powder
s/p to taste
1/4 cup milk
A dab of olive oil


Process:

Add potato, egg, onion, celery, flour, baking powder, s/p and milk together.
Mix thoroughly.
Stir and mix until batter is smooth.
Add olive oil to skillet.
Heat to medium-high.
Drop a tablespoon of batter one at a time into skillet to make small pancakes.
Add olive oil to keep skillet oiled.
Pancakes cook quickly.
Like pancakes, batter will bubble, flip and cook on both sides until light to medium brown.
Continue making pancakes until batter is done.

Servings: 9 small pancakes.

Boiled Potatoes

Boiled Potatoes


Ingredients:

1 large mexican white potato
2/3 cup milk*
2/3 cup water
A dollop of olive oil
S/p to taste

Variation: Instead of milk, use equivalent amount of water.
Note: When using more than one potato, increase liquid.


Process:

Peel potato. Cut in half vertically.
Place in large microwave dish with a cover.
Add water and milk.
Add a dab of olive oil to top of each half.
s/p to taste.
Cover.
Cook on high, 10 minutes.


Check periodically to make sure liquid does not boil dry. Add more water if needed.
Time may vary depending on size of potatoes and wattage of microwave.
Potato is done when you can pierce easily with a fork.

Note: To use leftover boiled potatoes, see Potato Pancakes 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Tightwad Kitchen Gadgets

In my departmento, I have a microwave, a two-burner electric stove and a crockpot.

Being a tightwad is always a challenge. Cooking in a small kitchen without an oven and other kitchen gadgets like a blender is also a challenge. Add in the unique characteristics of my kitchen gadgets and this compounds the challenge to cook inexpensively, healthy and tasty.

The microwave has only one temperature setting: high, and one way to set the time, push the red button to get one minute each time you push the button.

With finicky settings and I am beginning to think the burners on the two-burner electric stovetop transfer heat differently, using the electric stovetop is always a surprise. Liquids boils at half the settings. Finding simmer is still a mystery.

The wide range of kitchen gadgets that you can buy is endless. But, as a tightwad, I am always seeking ways to work with what I have.

Below are my kitchen gadgets. My two favorite gadgets are the handheld grater and my commuter coffee mug.

The grater is easy to use, easy to clean and easy to take apart and to put back together, so I love to grate cheeses and vegetables. The commuter coffee mug is one of my favorite thrift store finds, probably cost about a $1. But, I use it as a mocktail shaker most of the time.

My wooden cutting board is really solid. I use it to crush peanuts, cereal, ice, and other things for various recipes.

Surprisingly, I bought a melon ball scooper to use as an ice cream scooper but use it to scoop out apples and to make mini-meatballs.

The spatula is useful to get those last dregs and drabs out of jars of mayo, peanut butter and the like as well as scraping bowls to get the last of a mixture.



I use a coffee cup and spoons for measuring out ingredients.

The funnel can be used for many things. I often use it for making my own sodas.

I save plastic bottles. Fill a clean bottle with club soda and add a flavoring, as little or as much as you want depending on your tastes, like making a Spritzer. Below are just a few ideas for some Spritzer flavorings:
  • cold tea,
  • soft drinks, I like making a diet soda spritzer because I get the flavor and a bit of caffeine;
  • fruit juices, fresh or from a container;
  • concentrates, like lime, jamaica, horchata or others;
  • canned fruit juice;
  • coffee;
  • powdered drink mixes;
  • liquid drink mixes like Pina colada or coconut creme.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy Birthday (91) - Guy Williams (b. 1/14/1924)

Zorro, the perennial masked hero, has been portrayed in film, on TV and on stage by many, such as: Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Robert Livingston, John Carroll, Reed Hadley, Tyrone Power, Guy Williams, Frank Langella, Alain Delon, George Hamilton, Henry Darrow, Antonio Banderas, Christian Meier, and others in a wide variety of adaptations of the stories of Zorro by Johnston McCulley.

But, unofficially, many Zorro fans consider Guy Williams, the greatest Zorro ever.

Guy Williams, an Italian-American, was born in New York on 1/14/1924 and died on 4/30/1989.


Guy Williams and Gene Sheldon
as Zorro and Bernardo, his servant 

He gained fame acting in Walt Disney's TV production of  Zorro which ran from 1957 to 1959. The series was cancelled at the height of its popularity due to Disney's conflict with the broadcasting company that aired the show.

Guy's fans have created many online fansites as well as campaigned for variety of historic markers including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to honor their favorite Zorro.

Below are just a few of the Guy Williams/Zorro fan sites.

Guy Williams' Family website
http://zorrofx.com/dads_pg.htm

Guy Williams Web Shrine with links
http://www.guywilliams.net/links.htm 

Celebhost.net
http://www.celebhost.net/guywilliams/guy.html

Beth Wilson's Guy Williams on Bonanza
http://website.fabpage.com/zorrothefox/will.html

Bill Cotter's Disney Page
http://www.billcotter.com/zorro/

Disney's Zorro Page
http://www.zorrolegend.com/disneyzorro/disneyzorro.html

Many of Guy Williams fans wonder what happened to him after Disney's TV show Zorro was cancelled.

To learn the answer to that question and much more about Guy Williams' life and career, read Antoinette G. Lane's fine biography, "Guy Williams: Man Behind the Mask" listed on Amazon.

I interviewed Ms. Lane and posted the interview "An interview with Antoinette G. Lane" in an earlier blog post and a shorter version was featured on Boomer Cafe, "Zorro, a Masked Hero to Many Baby Boomers."

According to Ms. Lane, Guy's early training in fencing and horseback riding as well as his early modeling career made him a perfect candidate to star in Disney's Zorro.

Personally, I have a fond affection for the entire Walt Disney production of his 1950s TV show Zorro.


I learned from Ms. Lane's biography that Disney brought movie-making production techniques and quality to television production. This can be seen in the choreographed sword fights and horseback riding and chase scenes.

Disney also used Mexicans and Native Americans as actors and extras. The stories were set in the early history of California when it was ruled by the Spanish, providing an authentic historical context for the story.





Today, we celebrate the life
of a wonderful man and actor, Guy Williams.


Thanks to Kathy G. for the photograph.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Expresso de Arte & Casa Maryposa - Two new cafés

I was out on errands and found two new cafes. I was delighted.

I did not have the opportunity to try the menu at Expresso de Arte on Calle at 62 #445 x 53 y 51 in Centro but the decor was lovely.

The cafe is large and the menu includes Fetuccine Alfredo, Pannis y Ensaladas, smoothies, frappes and more. The café is open Lunes a Sábado 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.


Then, as I returned home, I saw a new cafe, Casa Maryposa, had opened near me. I decided to take a peek. The decor was heavenly with a butterfly theme. Lots of places to sit and a jardin in the back.



I wasn't hungry but decided to have a beverage. The menu ran from nachos to Fajitas, and had a wide selection of beverages and desserts. I got a chocolate frappe. Nothing cools you off like an ice cold frappe.

The owners were pleased to talk about their café because they had only been open about a week. They use fresh ingredients in their menu items.

The owners were kind enough to give me a sampling of their desserts.




Oh yum, I could not remember the last time I had such delicious desserts. The cookies are fantastic. The Banana Bread is great and the Spice Cake, moan!, it's really good.

Casa Maryposa is so close to my apartment, I can roll out of bed and have Banana Bread or Cookies, or Spice Cake!!!!

Casa Mayrposa
Calle 62 #360 x 41 y 43
Colonia Centro
Martes - Jueves 11:30 - 7:30
Viernes - Sábado 11:30 - 6:00

Facebook page to launch soon. "Casa Maryposa"







Sunday, January 11, 2015

Choosing a Book Cover Designer

Ok, you've written the best story you could. Maybe you had some beta-readers give you feedback. Maybe you got it professionally edited. Now, you feel you are ready to publish your story but you need a cover.

Many say that a great book cover gets you the attention you deserve. I agree, I do think a professional-looking book cover is important.

The question is do you contract the services of a Book Cover designer or DIY (Do it Yourself). Obviously, that is up to you. Research your options. Below are some resources.

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, an online publishing service, offers a free Style Guide which has information on creating a quality book cover and steps to get a list of book cover deigners to find an artist to help you.

Besides writing my novelette which included a lot of research on various topics, I had to pick a book cover designer from dozens of possibilities and it was a learning experience.

I searched online. I used Mark Coker's artist list.

After interacting with several book cover designers, I learned: designers have different styles, different prices and to my mind, different customer service skills. Just looking at their website can tell you alot about the deisgner, not only about their style but about their customer service approach.

Look at a few book cover designer's websites to get an idea of the range of styles.

Look at the book cover artists samples and if possible testimonials.

It is helpful if you find some book covers you like, so you can communicate with the book cover artists. You may need to learn some new terminology about typefaces, the type and size of image files you will need not just for your ebook cover but for your website and more. If you are creating a cover for a POD, you will need back cover information like a book summary, reviewer quotes, and a spot for a barcode.

Once you find a few book cover designers you like, contact them, usually through email. Look at their response to see if they have taken the time to be clear about their turnaround times, costs, number of proofs and more.

I found several book cover designers' replies were off-putting. One designer did not even have an email, you had to use a contact form. I felt that made the artist inaccessible. Also, I would not use a designer who did not offer multiple forms of contact including a mailing address.

Method of payment for services is another thing to consider. When I was looking for a book cover designer, my only payment method was by check and that did not work for some designers.

Price was a factor because I had limited funds. Plus, some artists' style did not suit my story.

But, I got lucky, my book cover designer and I worked well together. I think Jolenene Naylor produced great covers for Gina's Dream/El Sueño de Gina. I am not an artist but Jolenene made it fun letting me select various elements for the cover.

Unfortunately, I do not think Jolenene is taking any more clients, but you can check her site for updates.

For my second book, Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook, I did it all myself, including making a good looking book cover using Apple's Pages software. One article by Michael Canfield helped me make the cover.



Also, encouragement from Ted Summerfield's free marketing guide, The Backward Approach to EBook Success helped me in my struggles to make my own book cover.

I don't want to make it sound easy. For me, it wasn't. Lots of research and countless attempts trying a wide variety of approaches took a lot of time and effort but the result was worth it.

Note: The RKFNC cover artwork is from Wikipedia Commons and I followed the credit guidelines.

Updated 1/15/2015