Another Chapter of Brain Rumbles To Ponder-Version 2014.1

Jan 23


I had some time off during the holidays and I have been confused as to what to offer up to you folks. Of course,content is never my problem,just paring it down or making sure I put forward something that you would enjoy and find unique and maybe a bit helpful.

I love PBS. The only cooking shows I ever watch are on PBS,except the occasional production from Ireland or England. Recently I

Merlot clusters ready to be harvested

Merlot clusters ready to be harvested

caught VINTAGE-NAPA VALLEY 2012″ on my local PBS station.It was unlike most wine shows. We were treated to the daily problems and issues confronting the juggling of wine holding tanks,when to harvest for the best results and such. It profiled two women winemakers.They used their instincts a lot,just like we all do within our jobs. One had her young son with her. I liked that. They had to coordinate the contracted picking and production crews to maintain the labor costs. Fascinating stuff. If you like the world of business,or wine and how it is made gets you excited….or both,please seek out this series. It was the first of a new 6 part presentation.

Speaking of PBS and cooking shows. You all know by now that I LOVE anything Jacques Pepin has on PBS….anything. I would watch him show how to peel an egg,for goodness sakes! There is another excellent chef that has had a long running relationship with PBS….Hubert Keller. A native of Alsace, he has five acclaimed restaurants of many types….located in San Francisco,St. Louis, and Las Vegas. Every time I watch an episode of his PBS show, “Secrets of a Chef”, he has some great recipes,very entertaining and is quite informative. I just have one thing I feel I want to mention (and have for many months),it is his use of the word,”really”. I can not understand why the producers allow him to continue to use it so often as a descriptive word or term for his processes for the dishes he is showing. On one recent show, I counted him saying “really” 52 times! Maybe I am being a bit petty,but I do not think so. There are many fine cooking shows out there ,many pose strong competition. He will keep his long time viewers,but may lose some first timers if this continues. Sorry Hubert,but I felt compelled to mention it. I will continue to watch. I like his choice of recipes and dishes. I learn every time. Too really,really bad.

Nicks in The Cutting Board
I was a kid,I stepped on a bee in the clover of our lawn. The sting got infected. The country doctor told Mom to mix equal parts of alcohol and glycerine,soak some cotton in the mixture, then wrap my foot. Within four or five days it took the swelling away and also the infection. My mom loved those old remedies. These are the kind of things that kept people alive for thousands of years.Having a trained doctor or medical person at hand is a fairly modern occurrence. I often wonder if the doctor learned this from his mom. CUTTING BOARDS: I have posted my feelings about this before. I even wrote to Cooks Illustrated magazine,they ignored me. The recipes and chefs these days. Chiles are hot,right? On cooking shows, I continually see them chop the hottest of chiles on the same cutting board they just used to slice some pineapple. If a cook had done that in my restaurant,he would have gotten an ear full. Use a different board for chiles,the reverse side for onions and garlic. It is COMMON SENSE. Do these people want their fruit salad to taste like Serrano chiles? Do they look forward to their customers enjoying their expensive Swiss cheese on their Cobb salad with the taste of garlic? I don’t think so. I personally do not think it will ever change! Am I the only one on earth that it bothers? JEEZ! I just don’t get it. I say have composite boards of different colors,if you think permanent markings won’t work. Oh well.  DO NOT USE: Please DO NOT USE any bouillon cubes of any kind or brand when you are cooking. I don’t care what the recipe requires. Use a quality meat or vegetable base that is not made with a majority of salt. I prefer Better Than Bouillon, I have also mentioned this before. How about this?If you work long hours,get home late in the dark, and have not been tempted by ordering a pizza delivery on your phone or have driven through the drive-thru at Mc Donald’s on the way home. Boil some water,add some left over vegetables ,or frozen, if you have them. Stir in some of your favorite base….. to your taste. Add some left over rice or pasta from last night’s dinner….maybe some shredded chicken or beef left over from Sunday dinner.. Throw in some of your favorite seasonings….perhaps a bit of whole marjoram (my favorite),some Louisiana Hot Sauce or a dollop of Thai Sweet Chile Sauce-whatever you want or have. You now have a great quick dinner in 15 minutes and you saved $10.00 to $30.00. That is now a damn fine soup and a good thing,dear friends. Agreed?HAMBURGERS: Please quit smashing your hamburgers when cooking in a pan,on a griddle or over the grill this summer. Hamburgers are best if juicy. Right? Mashing them squeezes out all the flavor and juices. Jeez,people
CHEF’S KNIVES: Please buy Victorinox from Switzerland-the people who have made the Swiss Army Knife since 1884. Cooks Illustrated has rated the 8″ popular size that cooks like (home cooks or professionals alike) the most popular for 8 years running in their annual test. It has scored best every time over Wustoff,Henkels,Shun, Gerber and others.That is not to say these other knives are not of a high quality or superior construction. They are many chefs and cooks that prefer them. This is a test that is the same over and over and i happen to like the best cooking utensil for the least money spent. The cost of this knife? About $40.00! The others are around $100.00 and more. Any thing else need to be said here?  I don’t think so.  


Remember this sage information. I guarantee it will be the most important thing I have imparted to you,dear readers, during this attempt to hold your attention, even for just a few moments….and for that I am very thankful and most grateful-to say the least! 

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” MARK TWAIN




  1. The cutting board thing irks me, too. I’ve had fruit salad in restaurants that tastes of garlic. Ugh! I take the labeling a little further in my kitchen. There are two long wooden spoons in the crock next to my stove. One of then has the word ‘sweet’ burned into the handle. God forbid I see anyone using that one in a pot of chili!

    • Julia,what a good idea regarding your wooden spoons. I’d not thought of that. I will now. I also remember times when a fruit garnish tasted of garlic. Don’t restaurants understand that a seemingly great meal and it’s memory just got sunk?

  2. Ross! Hamburger smashing drives me crazy! I have taken away Brent’s burger cooking privileges because I caught him squishing the burgers. As a young lady raised in the meat industry, I know that there is NEVER a reason to abuse your meat patties in this way. Holy cow!

    • I hope Brent has learned his lesson,but I doubt it. once a burger smasher,always a burger smasher. Keep him on brats and hot dogs only.There are some rules one just does not break!

  3. Really, really, really enjoyed the title “Sage Advice”-made me chuckle rather than groan. Well done! (oops, really, really, really, really did I say really? really sorry, honestly, no pun indended. Really!

    • Really ,really good comment…..which I really appreciate. OUCH-GROAN.Ha!Ha!Thank ye,thank ye,ver’much!

  4. Judy (Mitchell) Armstrong /

    Hi Ross,

    Happy New Year.
    I had an elderly Norwegian friend. She fell and REALLY skinned her knee…dirt, tiny pebbles,torn, bleeding flesh. I had my latex gloves, hydrogen peroxide, ointments,etc. I
    was ready to make it better the traditional way. She suggested I use HER traditional method…make a bread poultice. She told me to scald some milk. Add a slice of white bread to soak up the milk.
    When it was slightly cooled, she had me apply this bread to the
    lacerated and gritty knee. She told me to cover it with a bit of cellophane
    and then wrap some gauze around the whole thing. Next morning, I
    removed the poultice and the knee was clean. The dirt and pebbles came off
    with the poultice. The lacerated knee was pink and healing! Pharmaceutical Companies-take note!

    • Judy! My mom used that bread and warm milk method on me often! I had not thought about it for 60 years. I’ll bet you used that again and passed it on to others. Many thanks!
      I’ll bet it came from the Vikings,who understood what happens with natural yeasts (they sure didn’t buy their yeast in a foil packet).

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