Dog is my Copilot

(As seen at

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Sometimes the clues to the puzzle are subtle, and not what you might be expecting.  For example, watching a magic show (Penn & Teller: Fool Us), the opening act chose three “random” audience members.  Now, we never saw exactly where the sleight of hand occurred (though we have some theories)…but we did notice that she had a microphone transmitter pack, and it was under her clothes.  There is no way she could have miced up in the little time between being selected and coming onstage, at least not routing the cable and transmitter under her clothes.

That, boys and girls, is called a plant.  Subtle clues, and not at all in the sleight of hand.

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Homemade sourdough banana bread with homemade butter:

Yum.  😁

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On Retirement

We were disappointed to learn this morning of the retirement of Frank Deford,  NPR’s Wednesday morning sports commentator, who has decided to hang it up after better than thirty-seven years.  We always enjoyed his program; he was witty, full of interesting trivia and interesting analysis, and always able to provide a unique perspective, both topically and stylistically.

We will miss his weekly contribution to our commute, but we trust that he’ll enjoy his retirement in his adopted home of Key West, Florida, where we suspect he may just find fans not only of his body of work, but maybe even a fan of his pencil-thin mustache.

Godspeed, Mr. Deford.  May your retirement be everything you want it to be.

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Cookies, Revisited

It being Teacher Appreciation Week at Joey’s school, we spent the evening making cookies.  We of course made molasses crinkles (“ginger cookies” to the uninitiated), trying both the Grandma’s Molasses recipe amount of ginger, and our modified version.  It was unanimously agreed that our version was superior (also, we use butter instead of shortening, because butter).

Next up were chocolate chip cookies.  The Toll House recipe is a classic, and pretty good, but empirical research has shown the Ghirardelli recipe (with Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips) to be better, and some experimentation has improved upon it even further.  We are pleased to present our new standard chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2 cups Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract (not imitation)
  • 2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/3 to 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper


  1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
  2. In stovetop skillet, toast nuts gently; chop coarsely
  3. Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside.
  4. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
  6. Add cayenne pepper; start with 1/3 tsp, and add a little bit at a time until you figure out how much you like. You're looking for a pleasant warming sensation to complement the chocolate, not necessarily spicy (though we found a bit of heat was quite good, and well-received by others; experiment liberally with this).
  7. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
  8. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  9. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack.

Serve warm with cold milk, ideally whole milk from Braum’s.

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Creole Seasoning

Having used Tony Chachere’s for years, but always finding it too salty, we embarked upon a project to make our own creole seasoning (largely as a result of watching lots of Kevin Belton).  Here’s where we stand.

Creole Seasoning


  • 1 tablespoon Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Salt


  1. Add all; mix thoroughly. Store in sealed container or Ziploc bag in the freezer. Keeps long enough that you'll use it all up before you have to worry about it.

We usually make it without the salt, then add salt to taste depending upon the dish.  You can adjust things as pleases your palate (we like additional cayenne, but make the base a bit milder to keep it reasonable for others, and add the heat at serving); remember, as Kevin so eloquently puts it, “people make New Orleans food, not recipes.”  Goes great on fish, chicken, and pasta (especially alfredo); works well to season flour for frying (such as in chicken fried steak), or in grits (add a bit of cheese and some extra garlic for the best grits you ever had).

Bon appétit!

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Reuben Sandwich, Improved

Several months ago, we embarked upon a project to perfect the Reuben sandwich.  We think we’re getting close with this:

  • Rye bread.  Walk straight past the bread aisle to the deli.  Get something fresh from the bakery, ideally a small loaf (small loaves are great in that you’ll eat the whole thing before it has a chance to go stale; if that means the sandwiches are small enough that you need to make two or three, fine, make a few of them, just be sure to use good, fresh bread).  Most bakeries these days have slicers that will give you nice, uniform slices; avail yourself of this if you can.
  • Corned beef.  Duh.  Make it yourself if possible.
  • Sauerkraut.  Again, obviously.  We intend to experiment with homemade as soon as we are able.
  • Cheese.  Here’s where we start to diverge from tradition: instead of Swiss, use a good horseradish cheddar.  Boar’s Head is surprisingly good, but if you have one you like better, go for it.
  • Dressing.  Again, here’s some wiggle room.  Russian dressing is still good, but we’ve always liked dijon mustard with our corned beef, so we played with Grey Poupon’s deli brown mustard with horseradish.  It was fantastic.

The preparation is as important as the ingredients.  Leaving the cheese on a sheet of the deli paper, soften somewhat in the microwave; we found about 12 sec to be perfect.  While that’s working, spread your mustard on your bread.  Put the softened cheese on top of the corned beef (on a plate) and heat the whole thing until the corned beef is hot and the cheese melted (the cheese takes longer to warm than the corned beef; if you were to nuke it all at once, without the preheat, you’d overcook the corned beef).  When that’s ready, transfer meat and cheese to one slice of bread.  Heat a bit of kraut in a small bowl; drain and place atop meat and cheese, then close the sandwich.  (If you have a toaster over to broil things, that’s even better, but we don’t.)


You.  Are.  Welcome.

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“I have come to learn about the contrarian nature of the winds. It seems that while in the air, I alone command their direction. That is to say, that there will always be a head wind, irrespective of my direction of travel.”

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