Prepping: For Christmas in East Texas

Life in the city is grand.  Everything convenient, all services close-at-hand.  Yet there’s something special about holidays in the woods…

Let’s start with the food part.  Since there are only two of us this time around, we’re not doing a big meal for Christmas.  Honestly, it looks like a toss-up between a couple of slabs of baby-back ribs on the BBQ or doing a baked turkey breast in the over.

Something I’d strongly recommend if you haven’t been following my “half-baked” efforts at cooking:  Carefully note how much wheat flour you’re using in your gravy.  The older I get, the better I feel limiting white flour to near-zero.  One of my offspring has celiac sprue (gluten intolerance) and the book Wheat Belly is still among the 500 e-books on the  Kindle.

If you’re looking for a better gravy, as a former Wondra user, I can tell you that oat flour seems a lot easier on the old folks digestive system than too much white flour.,

No White Christmas Here

The thermometer drives a lot of the meal-planning decisions:  As of now, it looks like Christmas will feature a high in the upper 60’s.  That’d be late-spring BBQ weather up north, but 70 F is the dead of winter down here.

While we’ve had our usual handful of nights with low temps into the 20’s already, in normal times (despite the climate alarmists) we don’t get our really cold spells until January and into February most years.   Most snow we’ve seen here was about 2 1/2 inches a decade back.  If I plant the garden in February, that ensures a killer frost in April.

This latitude is damn near tropical yet still has close to four seasons.

People up north who visit generally love the place.  But, many of our friends won’t come  to visit in the heat of summer (say July 15 to the end of September) because of worry it’s too hot in the summer.

East Texas Heat is a bit exaggerated. You may recall this past summer I was able to hold the shop temp during the day in the 75-80 range with nothing more than a swamp cooler.  It was mounted outside a window which was opened. I “red-necked” some lightweight plywood and cardboard – plus a few miles of packing tape – into something that kept the cold in and the heat out.  More or less….

This led to watching the humidity like a hawk.  Worst case was about 70 percent and temps in the low 90’s.  Lowest humidity at the day’s high, but that was one day right before a squall line came through.  Otherwise, by late summer, the 95 F highs with 35-50 percent humidity was the rule.  Certainly not Atlanta, though.  Moist enough to sweat (a lot) but not so dry as to cause skin issues and wrinkles.  Florida is a lot more humid than here and it doesn’t empty-out in the summertime. The people are more wrinkled than here, too, going from memory.

A Christmas Gift – Stir Fry

One of the “after Christmas” gifts we’re getting is a collection of plastic storage containers.  I know it seems obvious, but we have a problem with disappearing kitchenware  here.  Glasses, cups, silverware…all seems to quietly disappear sometime in the night.

Been thinking about writing a cookbook I’ve had in mind for the better part of 20-years now…based on a collection of same-size, stacking, food storage units. quart to quart and a half capacity.

Came up with this during my single years (back when) and just never got around to turning out a fancy book with pictures.  The idea, though, haunts me.

Main idea is that you don’t put any basic foods from the store directly into the fridge.  Instead, you make a supply run.  Then, when you get home, all the carrots are cleaned and go in one container.  The chicken breast is cut up into bite-size and goes in another.  The mushrooms get cleaned and fill another.  So do onions, beef, pork, bean sprouts, lettuce, cabbage, celery…all the staples of good eating without all the preservative side-effects.  Several cheese containers…

Let’s say I get the morning:  Pop out two eggs.  Drop of whipping cream and into a slow frying plan.  After a bit, in goes the pre-diced ham.  The cheese containers offer three main varieties:  A parmesan (grated), a mozarella, and a sharp cheddar.  Some sliced provolone and a block of Philly Cream Cheese and you’ve about covered the waterfront.  Slice up half a fresh tomato and maybe a few slices from the mushroom bin and you have a ham, cheese, tomato omelet that’s to die for.

Growing up in a predominantly Asian part of Seattle, my taste for good stir-fry has never left.  Trying to eat just two high protein meals per day, the afternoon meal turns into a stir fry.

Something good would be stir-frying a mess of fresh bean sprouts, pushing them out of the way and tossing in 3/4th’s of a cup of stir-fry beef with a handful or mushrooms.  Done in a super-hot wok, a tablespoon of oyster sauce (or reduced sodium Kikkoman) soy sauce and you’ve got a low-preservatives meal.  All that’s missing is a half-bottle of  Ozeki sake.  Hot or cold, depending on weather and mood.

When the containers start to run down, you start making great soups with whatever’s not been stir-fried.  Pretty quick, it’s time for another store run.

There’s something about an orderly kitchen, with all things prepped for you and in easy reach that like a well organized office or personal workspace.  It’s one of the unicorns of life I’ve been chasing for 50+ years.

One thing I have noticed is that stir fry materials have slowly disappeared from stores in this part of Texas.  Not sure why, although we don’t have a big Asian population out in the wood has something to do with it.  Nevertheless, Asia food is good, simple and quick to fix and (pardon this) hard to  wok away from.

Doesn’t translate well into frozen, though.  Never really understood why, either.

The Cat that Trains People

Sometime over this coming week, look for me to do repairs to the shower in the master bath.  The shower has developed a slow 10-drops per minute leak.

Interestingly, during a few cold nights when  Zeus the Cat stayed in (being a simpering whimp), we’ve been hearing noises from the bathroom.  Finally, on Tuesday (1:49 AM) I took a flashlight in to see what was going on.

Zeus  has figured out how to open the sliding glass shower doors.  And with a shower door pawned open, he then goes in to one end of the showerr where the water is, and takes a lick every so often.  When he’s done with that, he goes to the other end of thre show and takes a bath.

I must have sat there for 10-minutes explaining to him that when you get in the shower the whole idea is NOT to have to lick yourself, but he’s a slow learner.  What can I say?

By now,  it was a little after 2 AM, I stumbled back into bed.  Only to have (guess who?) start meowing at five-minutes to four because I usually get up at 4 AM and he gets some dry cat food before going outside for recycling.

I don’t begrudge him opening the sliding doors and playing with them.  But at age 14, he should be more considerate.  Unless, he’s just getting the hang of training us, in which case who knows what the next “trick” will be?

Off to attack the day’s project list…. Have a great week ahead and seriously, try the oat flour as an alternatrive gravy thickerner.  Better that wheat flour or cornstarch go my taste.

Write when you get rich,





20 thoughts on “Prepping: For Christmas in East Texas”

  1. Hohoho – Yo G

    would like to suggest a 69er dinner for Christmas…dinner for 2 with a hairy view!

    While Im on the subject of Christmas dinner, Santa and Reindeer ..still concerned for Bert the brown nosed reindeer not getting on Santas flight crew again this year – poor guy seems he can fly just as fast as the other reindeer – he just cant Stop as quickly..

  2. George try putting that spring garden under a low hoop cover of better yet try a couple wicking tubs in your greenhouse. I’m sure you Sen all sorts of them in your internet research. Once you try them you’ll be surprised.



  3. George

    “One thing I have noticed is that stir fry materials have slowly disappeared from stores in this part of Texas.”

    I do our food shopping mainly at Wally World due to cost concerns. It seems that their on a slow roll to get rid of all the major brands and replace them with their own store brand. Their also reducing the types of items they stock. She Who Must Be Obeyed likes gherkin pickles. I used to be able to get them at Wally’s but no longer. They used to carry a lot of local south Louisiana brands but those are mostly gone now. I can get some of my favorites at locally owned stores for now but who knows how long that will last.

    So I wonder if this is a national trend to reduce the variety of brands and types of food items available? We all end up eating Tofu!

    And more importantly can we start a conspiracy theory about this?

    • R Mike….they are putting it in the frozen section at walley world I think it is called sams choice…. you can get fresh.. but you have to request it since it isn’t a high traffic item so most people just cut it themselves….

      • I just bought some friday.. they have the meat to.. I personally like the steak.. wife likes the chicken

  4. Hey George, it strikes me that diced food, say chicken frinstance,
    increases surface area, increasing chances for bacterial growth.. No, I don’t have any laboroatory proof. Your thoughts on how long to keep the supplies?

    Merry Christmas to you and all of yours.

      • Actually there are a lot of studies and articles on just that issue….

        what I want to try.. is you can buy canned refrigerated meat… HAM.. and the only difference is.. they didn’t pressure can it.. so I have been wanting to try that.. when they canned it the temperature had to be brought up to 180 degree’s… then if you want it shelf stable.. you pressure can it for the recommended amount of time.. I have been thinking I will buy a couple of them and then pressure can them to see if that will work…
        I have to do a bunch of chicken breasts.. but for those I am going to retort can them in pouches.. freeze dry a few.. the same with hamburger.. I can and freeze dry hamburger all the time.. love it.. you have to cook the hamburger first then hot rinse it.. to get the fat out of it..
        I did raw steaks.. but seriously.. it did freeze dried ok but its better to cook it first then you don’t have to cook it later and you can snack on it if you want..just make an old trail mix..

        in europe food irradiation is quite common…

  5. Perhaps retraining Zeus to be outside a few hours a day will stiffen him to the cold. Could start this spring and continued into next winter. Then his mouse friends and neighborhood cats will buddy up and spend more time together !! In short he has forgotten he is a cat, and needs to be chasing other animals around. Great suggestion for the gravy thickener !!

    • “Perhaps retraining Zeus to be outside a few hours a day will stiffen him to the cold.”

      years and years ago.. they were trying a new feed for cattle.. that would swell up in the stomachs.. the idea was that they would eat less..
      We were discussing this while on break and this old Texas rancher.. was telling us about his horse.. he said yesery bob.. I was training my horse to eat less.. each day I would give im a little less.. almost had him trained..
      what happened..
      OH he upin died on me..

  6. Bear in-mind, gravy exists to encourage humans to eat fat.

    Two dietary components without which we cannot survive are salt and dietary fat. These have also historically been in short supply. In the wild, there aren’t many fatty animals (bear, bison, and water-mammals are the only ones that spring to mind that’re not African or South Asian natives.) When hunting or raising fatty animals became practical, we had to learn how to eat lard, suet, and blubber without getting sick. Frying it in flour, and later simmering it in flour, were what our distant ancestors came up with.

    I’d not be afraid to try rye or barley flour, George. I dunno about rice flour though — ‘might be too starchy, but ya never know…

    • Actually, been thinking along the same lines, myself. I don’t hold any particular grudge against wheat – and Wondra was my go-to thickening for 30-years. But, since reading “Wheat Belly” and trying oat flour, I’ve been really happy with the results.
      I’m just sitting here (5-something AM, so nothing sounds particularly mouth-watering but more coffee!) and the idea of fried chicken in a rye gravy…well…..hmmm…
      On the other hand, stew meat cooked to half past tender with a barley flour thickener, well, that might be interesting…

      (Or not..)

      • Hi George, after long being away the question of gravy thickening intrigued me some, What I would do is use cornstarch but NOTE: Use only organic cornstarch or non GMO cornstarch. As you may know 99% of corn and corn products are from GMO corn now days. Unless labeled non GMO or Organic. My two cents. MERRY CHRISTMAS !!

  7. Sir,

    As you can see from the transcript at 01:29:39, the President doesn’t like a shower drip either. It certainly drew a line in the sand having a rally in the city of Battle Creek, Michigan, a historical home of good eating and natural medicine on the same night that Ms. Nancy set alight an impeachment vote.

  8. “I have noticed is that stir fry materials have slowly disappeared from stores in this part of Texas. Not sure why, although we don’t have a big Asian population”

    speaking of stir fry….LOL LOL LOL LOL one of my many hats .. was I worked grocery.. I worked grocery from when I was 12 working at a Kroger store sacking groceries.. did it part time my whole life.. anyway…
    I was working late one night stock.. and went over to get myself some of the luncheon meat.. for break.. and what the heck.. I stared bor about five minutes.. then asked the meat guy shoveling in these small packages of what the heck is it..
    I said.. what is that.. he said… PORK AZZHOLES.. what.. yup. this time of month we sell a lot of them..
    I had never seen anything like it.. then as my friend and I were heading up to go on break.. this small asian dude walking by with his cart.. loaf of bread, mayo,onions, lettuce ketchup pickles etc.and the cart full of the azzholes.. my friend taps my arm and says.. what in the heck is that.. without missing a beat I said.. dam haven’t you ever seen anyone have an azzhole sandwhich before….. LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL… the one that got me was I was in the ethnic Isle a while back and there was a jar.. in the jar I was looking at it.. it was pickled centepedes LOL LOL LOL…

    • yes.. dan and it makes awesome fresh pasta.. I love to make fresh pasta and that is the ticket.. great stuff……

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