still going

I wrote some months back that I was trying to use my old stove-top pressure cooker one evening to cook beans for tostadas and I couldn’t get the lid to close, so I used the electric pressure cooker instead. It turns out that I had had a brain lapse and I was trying to secure the lid left to right instead of right to left as I should have.

stove top pressure cookerRecently I pulled out the pressure cooker again. I got the lid properly closed, but when it came up to pressure I did not hear that reassuring jiggling. What I did see was steam coming out around the handle. Not good. I turned off the heat and let the pressure drop. The beans were not cooked and the water was mostly gone.

I ordered a new sealing ring. When it arrived I put it in and did a water test. I filled the cooker about a quarter full with water and turned on the heat. The cooker came up to pressure and I once again heard that reassuring jiggling. When I took off the lid I discovered there was very little water loss. That was a relief.

I’ve had that pressure cooker since some time in the 1980’s. It’s nice to know that it’s still going.

Secular Music Friday: Forever in Blue Jeans

simply to remind myself…

moving things around

I have written about my internet radio and how much I enjoy it. One of the things I like about it is that I can control it from an app on my iPad and iPhone. That works out well when we’re in another room and listening via one of our 900 mhz wireless speakers.

internet radioThe problem, though, after we moved to Hemet was that the output was not strong enough and when we were in the bedroom we would get clicking and popping. I therefore switched to listening via the stations’ web pages on my desktop computer, which also has a 900 mhz transmitter.

When me moved here I had set up my internet radio and transmitter on a side table to the left of my computer table. After I got my new hearing aid, however, I realized that it was silly to have it on the left when my good ear with the hearing aid was my right ear. This was especially the case since the top of the printer table on my right was empty due to the demise of my printer some months back and the fact that I was connecting to Terry’s printer wirelessly.

So I moved everything to the computer table. That shift of five feet or so means no more popping on the speaker in bedroom, so I can use the internet radio and control it from my iPad.

A small thing but a nice change.

cod cooked in corn husks

corn husk codI have had my Halibut Cooked in Corn Husks recipe for quite some time. It comes from the charming Marcela Valladolid on her old Mexican Made Easy program on the Food Network.

I made it again recently, but I used cod instead of halibut. Halibut can be very expensive, and the marinade is quite strong. Halibut has its own distinct taste and texture, and the marinade corn husk codoverwhelms that. Rather than cooking the fish on the stove top, I cooked it in the oven at 325° for 40 minutes.

Be sure to put a lime wedge on the plate! It is essential to getting the proper taste. I served a Mexican rice blend on the side and had butter lettuce from the garden with a homemade vinaigrette dressing.

The result made for a very tasty dinner that was inexpensive and not a lot of work.

in defense of tautology

I get an email each time the folks at publish a new blog entry. The pieces are often interesting and I have the opportunity refresh and review my knowledge of various grammar rules. Sometimes, however, the people there can get just a little too fussy and stuffy. Such was the case with a recent discussion of tautologies.

A tautology is, of course, a needless repetition of words. The Grammar Book crew tells us that we should eliminate all tautologies from our writing.

tabletSome tautologies we can clearly do without. “Forward planning” is a good example. Can you plan for the past? However, the article also cites phrases such as “each and every one,” “above and beyond,” and “vast majority” as forms to avoid.

The piece admits that tautologies will always exist in spoken language. (When I was in the food service business in college the cook would say that he was going to “steam off” the vegetables. The unnecessary “off” is part of the rhythm and cadence of spoken English.) The story then goes on to say, “Careful writers, on the other hand, have the time and the will to infuse their linguistic diets with protein. They cut the sugar and carbs that add calories without nutrients to their thoughts.”

What the Grammar Book people fail to acknowledge is that 1) cadence and rhythm matter in written English as well as spoken and 2) the longer version can have a different shade of meaning than the simpler form.

To cite their examples, both “each and every one” and “above and beyond” have a cadence that a stripped down version would be without. They also offer a form of emphasis that would be missing in a simpler version. There are instances where “vast majority” is indeed appropriate. Fifty percent plus one is a majority, but not a vast majority. In a recent ballot initiative in the City of Lake Elsinore, California, the No vote was 3,320, while the Yes vote was 446. In this case, the vast majority of people casting their ballots voted No.

Here’s another phrase the blog tells us to avoid: “invited guest.” Again, there are times when “invited” might be appropriate. If you are driving down the interstate and are getting tired you might stop and check in at a motel. You are a guest at the motel, but not an invited guest. However, if you receive an invitation to a formal banquet on linen stock with raised ink and then are treated shabbily by the host, someone might write in your defense that you were, after all, an “invited guest.”

While there are plenty of situations in which tautology is best avoided (don’t you hate those signs that read “ATM Machine”?) tautology is nonetheless one of many components that makes English the rich language that it is.

Use it when appropriate.

grilled mahi-mahi with Thai coconut sauce

I was looking for a grilled mahi-mahi recipe to fix on a recent Saturday. Terry and I definitely wanted to have fish that day, and it was going to be hot, so we knew that we wanted to grill. It had been a while since we had fixed mahi-mahi and it is a fish that we both will eat. (While I love halibut Terry eats it only rarely.)

mahi-mahiI have been adding a lot of grilling recipes to my database since we bought our grill, and have set up custom searches for the various kinds of seafood for which I have recipes. The recipe I selected, however, was one that I have had for a number of years: Grilled Mahi-mahi with Thai Coconut Sauce.

I made the recipe pretty much as specified and it turned out better than expected. It was very tasty and had something of a kick to it. Terry gave it her highest endorsement, “You can make this again.”

Sacred Music Friday: The Lord is My Shepherd

The Plymouth Choir of First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska, Tom Trenney, conductor, arranged by John Rutter. Last Sunday was Good Shepherd Sunday on the liturgical calendar.