George Rucker's Breathtaking Newsletter for July 4, 2017

 Hey you, good morning,

I like to cook using a crockpot, however lately I feel they are a little too hot.  I am going to see what I can find about them in general.  We can consider this as an invention that helped mankind.

     https://www.thespruce.com/crockpot-101-483001 (My first spot to check)
   The crockpot or slow cooker is one of the best time-saving appliances in the kitchen. It's great for beginning cooks because all you have to do is fill it and turn it on. Hours later, you come home to a house filled with wonderful smells and dinner ready for the table. Here's how to use a crockpot.

Crockpot 101

Purchasing and Safety

    When you are buying a crockpot, look for one with a removable liner. They are much easier to clean. If you have a non- removable liner, however, all is not lost! Line your crockpot with a cooking bag and you'll have no cleanup at all. Spray the inside of the liner with cooking spray before you fill it to make cleanup easier.

    140°F is the temperature the food needs to reach as quickly as possible. If you are at home during the cooking times, test the food temperature after four hours of cooking on LOW - the temp should be at least 140 degrees. If it isn't, there's a problem with your crockpot and you should get a new one.

    For food safety reasons, it's a good idea to cook on HIGH for the first hour to quickly bring the temperature up to 140°F. Then turn the dial to LOW and finish cooking.

    The LOW setting is about 200°F, and the HIGH setting is about 300°F. Note that both of these temps are well above the minimum safe temperature of 140°F.

    Experts recommend you do not put frozen foods in the crockpot. All foods should be defrosted before cooking so the food temperature can reach 140°F as soon as possible. However, since none of my family members are in a high-risk group, I often cook frozen foods in the crockpot. The informed choice is up to you.

    One hour on HIGH is equal to two hours on LOW.

    Remove cooked food from the crockpot or liner before you refrigerate the cooked food. Because the liner is made of such thick material, the food won't cool down quickly enough to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Crockpot General Cooking Tips

    Only fill the crockpot one-half to three-fourths full. The foods will not cook properly if the appliance is filled to the brim. If the food and liquid level are lower, the foods will cook too quickly and may even burn.

    Foods cooked on the bottom of the slow cooker cook faster and will be moister because they are immersed in the simmering liquid. Most root vegetables are placed on the bottom of the crockpot for this reason.

    Remove skin from poultry, and trim excess fat from meats. Fats will melt with long cooking times, and will add an unpleasant texture to the finished dish. Fatty foods will also cook too quickly.

    You can thicken the juices and concentrate flavors by removing the lid and cooking on HIGH for the last half hour of cooking time. Or mix some cornstarch with water and stir that into the liquid. Cook on low for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the juice is thickened.

    Most meats require 8 hours of cooking on LOW. Use cheaper cuts of meat - not only do you save money, but these meats work better in the slow cooker. Cheaper cuts of meat have less fat, which makes them more suited to crockpot cooking. Moist, long cooking times result in very tender meats.

    Follow the layering instructions carefully. Vegetables do not cook as quickly as meat, so they should be placed in the bottom of the appliance.

    Don't lift the lid to stir, especially if you are cooking on the low setting. Each time you lift the lid, enough heat will escape that the cooking time should be extended by 20 minutes to half an hour. To check progress without lifting the lid, spin the cover until the condensation falls off. Then it's easy to see inside.

Specific Crock Pot Cooking Tips

    For best results, ground meats must be cooked in a skillet and drained of all fat before cooking in the crockpot.

    Seafood should be added during the last hour of cooking time, or it will overcook and have a rubbery texture.

    Large pieces of meat can be browned before cooking in the crockpot, but this step isn't necessary. But browning does add color and helps in flavor development.

    Cayenne pepper and tabasco sauce tend to become bitter if cooked for long periods of time. Use small amounts of these ingredients and add toward the end of the cooking time.

    Add tender vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini during the last 45 minutes of cooking time so they don't overcook. Canned tomatoes can be added with the rest of the ingredients at the beginning of cooking time.

    Dairy products should be added during the last 30 minutes of cooking time unless the recipes state otherwise.

    Liquids do not boil away in the crockpot, so if you are making a recipe that wasn't specifically developed for the crockpot, reduce the liquid by 1/3 to ½  unless you are cooking rice or making soup.

    Stir in spices for the last hour of cooking. They will lose flavor if cooked with the rest of the ingredients for the long cooking period.

At the end of this article there are a list of sites with recipes for these crockpots, 22 of them, so if you have access to a computer it would be worth the visit.  The web site is at the start of this section.

No slow cooker, no problem, here is a list of the top contenders for 2017 from http://www.pressurecookerportal.com/best-slow-cooker-reviews/

Cuisinart MSC-600 Cook Central 3-in-1 Multi cooker      4.9/5   4 - 6 - 7 (quarts)

Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker   4.7/5   6 (quarts)

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker      4.6/5   6 (quarts)

Cuisinart PSC-350 Programmable Slow Cooker      4.5/5   3.5 (quarts)

Crock-Pot Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Cook & Carry Slow Cooker      4.9/5   6 (quarts)
I am not a Steelers fan so I put this at the bottom but it probably is the best.  Just buy a Pats sticker to cover the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL emblem.  It does get a 5 star rating with over 500 reviews from Amazon.com

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Ever since avocados are considered a health food the price has been going up and up.  I was in Hyannis BJ’s.  They sell them by the bag for $6.49, perhaps 6 to 8 in the bag, but all I needed was just one for supper so I paid the $2.00 each offered at Stop & Shop which is next door.  The price for chicken was not bad so I bought two breasts for my recipe and was planning on cutting it in half for Patty and I.  This meal is extremely good and I feel healthy.  It gets 5 stars from both of us, I left my 5-star rating with the site.  I served it over GOYA brand rice, the yellow kind.  I do not feel you need much of anything else other than something to drink.

Grilled California Avocado Chicken (recipe from https://therecipecritic.com/2017/06/grilled-california-avocado-chicken/


Ingredients

    ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
    ¼ cup honey
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 Tablespoons olive oil
    2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon pepper
    4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    4 slices mozzarella cheese
    2 avocados, diced
    3 roma tomatoes, diced (any tomato will work)
    ¼ cup fresh chopped basil
    salt and pepper
    balsamic vinegar for drizzling (optional) (used balsamic glaze as vinegar would be too thin.)

Instructions

    In a medium sized bowl whisk the balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, olive oil, italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Add the chicken breasts and coat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
    Meanwhile, in a small bowl add the avocado, tomato, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
    Heat the grill to medium high heat. Grill the chicken on each side about 6 minutes or until cooked throughout and no longer pink. Top with mozzarella cheese and avocado, tomato basil mixture. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.

Notes: The chicken was cooked in a ridged bottom, cast iron pan for grill marks.  I also found 7 minutes was not long enough for my taste and went to 10 minutes.  Perhaps an additional 2 minutes while letting the cheese melt and warm the topping.

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It has been a few years since my visit to Yellowstone park, perhaps 30.  There has been some seismic activity there lately.  This does not seem to be in the news so I thought I would mention it.   I have noticed more than the usual number earthquakes on the planet for the past two years..

Yellowstone Supervolcano Earthquake Swarm Reaches 878 Events in Just Two Weeks

Over 800 earthquakes have now been recorded at Yellowstone supervolcano over the last two weeks, with the ongoing swarm taking place on the western edge of the National Park.  Earthquakes at Yellowstone are not uncommon as they have about 1500 to 2000 small ones a year, but for almost 900 in two weeks is uncommon.

But there is virtually no risk of the volcano erupting, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) currently lists the volcano alert level as normal and the aviation color, which lists the potential risk to fights, is at green.

The current earthquake swarm began on June 12. A week later, the USGS put out a statement to say that 464 earthquakes had been recorded, with the largest being magnitude 4.4 “This is the highest number of earthquakes at Yellowstone within a single week in the past five years,” it said.

At the time, a spokesperson for the USGS told Newsweek activity appeared to be “slowly winding down,” adding that “no other geological activity has been detected.”

However, in a newly released statement about the ongoing swarm, seismologists from the University of Utah said 878 events have now been recorded at Yellowstone National Park.

The University of Utah is part of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO), which provides long-term monitoring of earthquake and volcanic activity in and around Yellowstone National Park. Jamie Farrell, Research Professor at the university, said that as of June 26, 878 events had been recorded as part of the ongoing swarm.

“The swarm consists of one earthquake in the magnitude 4 range, five earthquakes in the magnitude 3 range, 68 earthquakes in the magnitude 2 range, 277 earthquakes in the magnitude 1 range, 508 earthquakes in the magnitude 0 range, and 19 earthquakes with magnitudes of less than zero,” the latest report said.

An earthquake with a magnitude less than zero is a very small event that can only be detected with the extremely sensitive instruments used in earthquake monitoring.

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Perhaps being ex-military I found this joke to be very funny and it made me chuckle almost everytime I even thought about it.

Bob was sitting on the plane at DFW waiting to fly to Chicago, when a guy took the seat beside him.

The guy was an emotional wreck…pale, hands shaking in fear.

"What's the matter, afraid of flying?" Bob asked.

"No, it's not that.  I've been transferred to Chicago.  The people are crazy there, right?  Lots of shootings, gangs, race riots, drugs, poor schools, and the highest crime rate in the USA."

Bob replied, "I've lived in Chicago all my life.  It's not as bad as the media says.  Find a nice home, go to work, mind your own business, and enroll your kids in a nice private school.  I've worked there for 14 years and never had the slightest trouble."

The guy relaxed and stopped shaking and said, "Oh, thank you.  I've been worried to death, but if you've lived and worked there all those years and say it’s OK, I'll take your word for it.  What do you do for a living?"

"I'm a tail gunner on a Budweiser truck..."

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Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety-one?

If four out of five people SUFFER from diarrhea, does that mean that one out of five enjoys it?

Why do croutons come in airtight packages?  Aren't they just stale bread to begin with?

If people from Poland are called Poles, then why aren't people from Holland called Holes?

If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a race car is not called a racist?

If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked ,   then doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?

Do Lipton Tea employees take 'coffee breaks'?

What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?

I thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks, so I wondered what do Chinese mothers use, Toothpicks?

Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen can look for them while they deliver the mail?

Is it true that you never really learn to swear until you learn to drive?

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?

Whatever happened to Preparations A through G ?

Why, Why, Why  do we press harder on the remote control when we know the batteries are getting weak?

Why do banks charge a fee due to insufficient funds; when they already know you're broke?

Why is it that when someone tells you that there are one billion stars in the universe you believe them, but if they tell you there is wet paint you have to touch it to check?

Why do they use sterilized needles for lethal injections?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why did Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose cruel idea was it to put an "s" in the word "lisp"?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that, no matter what color bubble bath you use, the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people run over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it and then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will ever open from the first end you try?

How do those dead bugs get into the enclosed light fixtures?

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

Why, in winter, do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

Do you ever wonder why you gave me your e-mail address in the first place?

And A FAVORITE:

The statistics on sanity say that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness.

Think of your three best friends. If they're OK ... then it's you!

REMEMBER, A day without a smile is like a day without sunshine!  And a day without sunshine is like night!

Now, stop laughing long enough to forward this onto somebody else who could also use a good chuckle!

May the Lord Bless and Keep you, be gracious unto you and make His face to shine on you and give you peace.

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EATING IN THE FIFTIES

Breaking your bread was mandatory.

Pasta had not been invented.  It was macaroni or spaghetti.

Curry was a surname.

A take-away was a mathematical problem.

Pizza? Sounds like a leaning tower somewhere.

Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.

All chips were plain.

Oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking.

Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves and never green.

Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.

Chickens didn't have fingers in those days.

None of us had ever heard of yogurt.

Healthy food consisted of anything edible.

Cooking outside was called camping.

Seaweed was not a recognized food.

'Kebab' was not even a word, never mind a food.

Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.

Prunes were medicinal.

Surprisingly Muesli was readily available.   It was called cattle feed.

Pineapples came in chunks in a tin;  we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.

Water came out of the tap.  If someone had suggested bottling it and charging more    than gasoline for it, they would have become a laughing stock.

The one thing that we never, never had on/at the table in the fifties . . . was elbows,     hats and cell phones

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Another week’s letter finished.  See a few of my 150 or so readers at exercise later today.  Stay well.

George

For a weekly letter, put letter in the subject line and email grucker@capecod.net

As usual older copies can be found at the bottom of Walter’s web page with his usual addition of wit.  I just found out Walter is a Korean War vet and served in the Army, myself Viet Nam War vet and served in the Air Force.  Visit www.capecod-beaches.com