The Minions Arrived Today

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Okay, so I admit it, I love the Minions!  Last year, my husband tired of the assorted lighted trees we had and tons of lights suggested we do inflatables.  They store easily in a couple boxes.  Overall I have always thought they were extremely tacky.  So I thought if you are going to be extremely tacky, then be funny and tacky.  That is when I found inflatable Minions.

Last year they lined our driveway.  My six year old granddaughter was coming to spend the “Holidaze” and I thought she might like them.  To my surprise, a lot of people driving by our house liked our Minions. This year they are in their classic herd, with one trailing behind. They light up at night and I smile every time I see them.

Last year we had Minions Galore on our tree and I plan to do the same this year if my granddaughter is able to come to Christmas.  I told my son, due to the expense of flying I did not really care “when” Christmas day happened.  I am no longer young enough to care what day it happens as far as a morning and opening gift.


This year we added two more Minions and a taller Minion and a Minion Home between our house and our garage.  I only they help people smile in a sometimes stressful time of year.

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So here that are, standing strong and herding traffic and waving at those who pass up by.

Hope you will drive by and honk an hello to the guys.

Think I better buy a couple more Minions.  HO HO HO

The Minions Arrived Today


Every year new trends are announced and we respond to them in some manner. Just how important they should be in your lifestyle is usually at question. “Consumers always want to see something new, but they want that with something familiar”, according to Leatrice Eiseman –executive director of the Pantone Color institute.

There are some that think it is important to have the current trends in design be a part of your home and others that really don’t care. What is most important is how do you bring your home environment current so you enjoy living in it. If a trend seems terrible to you, then bringing it into your home is not the best idea for you.

If you want to add the latest color trends in your home every year, there are many ways to do it and not spend a fortune. Remember when you buy a trendy piece of furniture, you are most likely going to have to live with it a long time. Accents added in the latest and greatest color and/patterns are not terribly expensive to replace when you tire of the trend, as most of us do after a while. If you love a trendy new color, throw pillows or vases might be an easy solution and not cost a fortune. I love that we now have Home Goods, TJMaxx, Marshalls and Ross as great sources for buying easily replaceable accessories. Little or no guilt when you spend $20.00 on a accent rather that the $200 a custom-made designer pillow might cost.

That beige or gray neutral sofa may look dull on display at your local vendor, but it will go with everything you put on it over the years. Look for simple classic lines and you will not grow tired of your furniture. Look for fun splashes of color to liven it up every year or every season. When you shop for your “big” items, if there is even a tiny doubt you will not love it in five or ten years, then it is probably not a good choice.

Clean lines are always in style. Ornate looked great in the Victorian era and if you have a few  family pieces, they can look fantastic in a very modern interior, as a lovely focal point, but a whole room of them might be kind of depressing. Think simple and you won’t get tired of it.

If you go neutral in most of your home, you won’t have to change much often. Paint a wall one of the newly trendy colors and love it for a while. Paint is relatively cheap and easy to replace. Add a couple pillows in a coordinating color and you are looking trendy. Add flowers in the new colors (if appropriate) and your friends will think you know what you are doing.

Texture is another way to add interest to a neutral interior. Trends in texture do change, but they seem to have a little more longevity. A cowhide rug may not go out of style, but florals and certain print designs don’t say in fashion for long.

Avoid trendy when it comes to big signature pieces, as you will want ones that meet the test of time. Dining room tables, beds, kitchen cabinets, flooring and architectural details are not the place to be trendy, as they are all expensive to replace. Pick ones you love when you see them. Pay a little more and get something that is made well with great lines.

One of the most important things to remember about trends: if you don’t like it when you first see it, you most likely never will. That being said, there are some trends that never go out of style. Tasteful animal prints are always a fun look in small doses. Some say granite in the kitchen is on the way out, but I am not sure I am totally on track with that one. Beautiful classic

oriental rugs always add interest to a room and I personally think some of the Mid-Century modern furniture will never go out of style. Mid-Century modern seems to a “trend” coming back to be popular, but I think it never went away as it has always been classic, workable and beautiful. From a designer point of view, they have never made anything more comfortable and beautiful than an Eames Lounge chair or as elegant as a steel and glass Platner coffee table or side table. If I could afford four Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chairs from 1929 in my living room, I would be forever happy.

Balance may be one of the key words in bringing trendiness into your home or office environment. Function of the piece should be an important part of your decision making when buying long-term pieces. Maybe this year the glass dining table is popular. You buy one, then you remember you sometimes have twenty for holiday dinners and the glass table does not expand. That brings the word “versatility” to mind. Can you use that trendy item some other way in the future? Can you paint it? Can you change it?

I have a beautiful old-world Baker round dining table I bought twenty years ago. When I got tired of the wood look, I painted it black and put a dark wax finish on it. I paired it with see through ghost chairs, so it now looks up to date. It expands and I have seated twelve for dinner. Think about what you have and how you can change it, to make it more current. Good lines always look good.

Timeless design always doesn’t pull from trends and is quietly understated, simple and sophisticated. Let go of the idea that your taste will never change. As we go through life our taste changes. What we should strive to do is to find something that is highly functional, not bland, while being subtle, adaptable and will pass the test of time.

If you are having a hard time finding the right balance in your home, it might be the time to hire a professional interior designer. I would love to help you make your home your living paradise. It is what we designers do.



It’s Sunday night and weekend passed way too quickly.  The backyard had a lot of plants to cut back for winter and chickens are very funny, but very messy.  Time to clean up their mess before the rains come.

The Korean Beef Short Ribs became, as I told my husband, the meat eater: “Meat over Rice” and that was all he ate, as that was all i cooked.  I took some Butternut Squash soup out of the freezer and cut up the rolled pork loin with broccoli rabe adding it to the soup.  Put a little fresh Regianno Parmesano and you have a pretty tasty dinner and not wasted food.

The chickens got the left over Pea Salad and they were happy too.  It is a nice relaxing evening here at “Kingsley Manor”. Off to binge watch Poldark.

Beside dinner, I baked another Paul Hollywood’s Pain de Savoie for my husband’s office pot luck, designed an invitation for my granddaughter’s birthday party, wrote an article for a local magazine and caught up on my online class.  Grandma was pretty busy today.


Just a nice Winter Meal

Short ribs

My husband loves “meat & potatoes”, so to make him happy I cook a lot more meat dishes than I would really like to eat.  I could eat fish and chicken seven days a week, but I do have to admit this meat dish was pretty good.  I would add a little more beef stock than the recipe suggested and maybe add a little white wine to tenderize the meat.  The recipe came from Cooking Light Magazine.  I would not really consider this a “light” dinner, but it was tasty.  The recipe was by Marianne Williams.

Oh, and do NOT touch your eye after chopping up the chili; as it is not a fun moment. 

Prep Time
20 Mins
Total Time
8 Hours 20 Mins
Serves 8 (serving size: 1 short rib and about 1/3 cup rice mixture)

The slow cooker makes a masterpiece of beef short ribs as the meat becomes buttery tender and the cooking liquid reduces to a spicy, deeply savory sauce. Sake, a dry rice wine, and mirin, a stronger, sweeter rice wine, balance each other here (the alcohol will cook off as the dish simmers). Both are available at most grocery stores. Spicy, tangy kimchi, or Korean-style fermented cabbage, adds heat and complexity to the dish.

Just a nice Winter Meal

Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions

I love cooking and if you follow my blog you get that right away.  As I grow wiser in my cooking skills (have more time to cook) I am learning the subtilties of flavor. Why use an onion when you could use a leek.  Why shallots and not onions.  Why a yellow onion instead of a sweet Walla Walla onion.  It is important to know the differences and why you use one in one place and another in another dish.  What onions taste good raw and which ones may not so much. So I started doing a little onion research, or why do some make you cry and others do not.

Yellow Onions

Yellow onions, the most popular cooking onions add excellent flavor to most stews, soups, and meat dishes. In fact, typically when a cooked recipe calls for onion, yellow onion is a safe way to go. Yellow onions have a yellow-brown papery skin on the outside and a white flesh.

It is to know if someone is cooking with yellow onion because my eyes start to water due to effect of higher sulfur content. The yellow onion has a high sulfur content, so it has a more pungent flavor and smell, which typically makes it too strong to eat raw unless there are other ingredients to counter-balance the flavor.  I use yellow onions in stews, soups, sautéed dishes, and shish kabobs. They have excellent flavor when cooked, and I rarely cook without them.

Yellow Onions

White Onions

White onions have an all-white skin and an all-white flesh. They have a slightly milder flavor than the yellow onion and are a great substitute if you’re in need of an onion flavor, but don’t want it to be too powerful. White onions are commonly used in Mexican cuisines. I don’t know if I have ever used them and I finally now know when to substitute.

White Onions

Red Onions

Red onions are used more in non-cooked dishes, such as salads and sandwiches. Of the different colored onions, the red onion is the most mild, sweet onion. Red onions have the purplish-red skin which color is layered though it’s white flesh. I personally don’t like to cook heated dishes with red onion because it doesn’t produce enough onion flavor to enhance my meal. Keep in mind that cooking an onion diminishes its flavor, but increases the flavor of the food around it. I love cooked red onions caramelized for hamburgers.

Red Onions

Sweet Onions
Sweet onions, sometimes referred to as “short day” onions, because their growing season occurs during the fall and winter with harvest usually in spring /summer, are fresh onions, picked and cured for a short time, then rushed to market. Storage onions, or regular globe onions, are harvested in late summer and fall, stored in warehouses and delivered to markets throughout most of the year.

Although there is no official industry standard, it is generally accepted that an onion should contain at least 6% sugar to be in the “sweet” category. Some sweet onions, like the OsoSweet, have recorded sugar levels of up to 15%. Storage onions usually range from 3%-5% in sugar content.

Unlike sweet onions, regular onions have high levels of sulfur compounds. It’s the pyruvic acid in the sulfur that causes tears, harshness, and indigestion. That’s why great sweet onions are always grown in soil with low amounts of sulfur. Typically, sweet onions have pyruvic acid levels that measure below 5%; storage onions usually run 10%-13%. Because a sweet onion is also a fresh onion it is very high in water content, which further dilutes the effect of the sulfur and increases mildness.

The best sweet onions deliver a burst of sweetness when bitten into, are incredibly mild, with very little if any sharpness, and have a subtle, fruity flavor. They should still taste like an onion, but be much sweeter and milder.

Sweet onions have a thinner, lighter color skin than storage onions and tend to be more fragile. Signs in produce sections usually differentiate between sweet onions and storage onions. Most producers also put stickers on each individual onion, such as “Texas 1015 SuperSweet,” “Sweet Imperials,” etc. Another indication is price – sweet onions are a premium product that can range anywhere from 79 cents a pound and up.

Although it seems like sweet onions are a relatively new item, they were first introduced to America around the turn of the century when a retired French soldier brought some onion seeds from Corsica to the Walla Walla region of the Pacific Northwest. But it wasn’t until the savvy farmers in Georgia realized what a special thing they had in the Vidalia onion and began spreading the news far and wide that the sweet onion finally got the attention it deserves.

Once considered just a spring/summer treat, these sweet orbs are now available year-round. Vidalias, a springtime delight, now show up in markets until late fall, thanks to controlled-atmosphere storage. And now with the development of the OsoSweet onion, we can enjoy mild, sweet onions all winter long.

Onion vs Shallot

In the culinary world, you may come across two ingredients that may somehow confuse you, the onion and the shallot. Some people may consider them very similar as they often substitute one with the other. However, established culinary experts know the distinct tastes and texture they provide in every cuisine. So, how different are they from each other? Let’s break it down.

Onion is a general term used to refer plants in the genus Allium. However onions, as a common name, usually refers to specific specie, the “garden or bulb onion” (Allium cepa).

The bulb onion is a popular kitchen ingredient that is used worldwide. As the name implies, it is bulb shaped but sometimes flat almost disc shaped. Its skin colors are white, yellow or red. The taste depends entirely on the variety. It can sharp, spicy, tangy and pungent or mild and sweet.

Onions are grown from seed or commonly, from sets. They eventually grow into a large single bulb per plant. Onions are rather difficult to propagate since there are special processes involved to produce a durable bulb.

A shallot, on the other hand, is referred to two different Allium species the Allium oschaninii and the Allium cepa var. aggregatum or Allium ascalonicum.

The Allium oschaninii is the French grey challot or griselle. This specie is considered as the “true shallot” but still cannot beat the Allium cepa variety in terms of global popularity. The latter is widely accepted as the shallot.

Shallots, the Allium ascalonicum variety — grow in clusters, just like those of garlic, where separate bulbs are attached at the base. However, unlike garlic, the individual bulbs are not encircled together by a common membrane. They are closely related to multiplier onions and are rather easy to grow as they require little soil preparation. The plants seldom form seed, so they’re usually grown from cloves ñ they are vegetatively multiplied.

They look like elongated onions and the skin is colored copper, reddish, or gray. Shallots have a mild taste which is a mix of sweet onion flavor and a touch of garlic.

1.  Shallots grow as a cluster of bulbs from a single planted bulb similar to garlic while onions grow as a single big bulb per plant.
2. Shallots are a lot smaller compared to onions.
3. The common onion is Allium cepa while the commonly accepted shallot is Allium ascalonicum.
4. The shallot may resemble the taste of onion but milder and sweeter in flavor. Distinctively from onions, shallot may taste with a hint of garlic.
5. Onions are more difficult to grow than shallots.
6. Onions are seed-propagated, whereas shallots are vegetatively multiplied.
7. Onions are almost disc-shaped bulbs while shallots can appear like elongated onions.

How to Pick a Good Onion

In general, when you’re choosing onions in the store, the best ones will be firm, have a crackly outer skin, and have a mild scent. If their scent is overwhelming it’s a good sign the onion is starting to spoil. Avoid onions with dark spots or mold as well, though every once in a while I’ll still purchase those if I’m going to use them right away (I guess that’s my altruistic side coming out–take one for the team, you know). On another note, onions tend to store better in a slightly cooler, darker area, although the fridge is not recommended. The onion smell has a tendency to spoil the flavor of other foods in the fridge.

Here is a great chart to help you decide what to use.  Oh wait, where do Leeks fit in?

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Leeks vs Green Onions 

leeks Leeks

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Onion is one vegetable that is an integral part of kitchens around the world. It is used both as a vegetable and also eaten raw in the form of salad. It has a pungent smell but used in cooking, to add to the flavor and aroma of many different types of food recipes. There are many different types of onions with green onions being very popular in European and Chinese cuisine. There is another variety called leek that confuses many because of its similarities with green onions. However, despite similarities, there are subtle differences also that prevent leeks being substituted with onions in many recipes.


Onion is a flowering plant belonging to the genus Allium that also contains garlic and leek. It is the edible bulb of onion plant that is used universally in cooking or as raw vegetable. Even the stem and the leaves of onion plant are used in cooking in many parts of the world. The most common and popular type of onion around the world is the red onion that is also called common onion. Onion bulb is known for its health benefits to human beings. It is anti-inflammatory, reduces cholesterol levels, and also has antioxidant properties. However, most people love it to consume onion bulb because of its taste and aroma. The paste of onion bulbs is used to thicken curries and to add to the flavor. The characteristic feature of red onion is its multilayered structure. It has a pungent smell and brings tears to the eyes of a person who cuts it into pieces.

One of the varieties of onions is green onion or scallion that is known by different names such as spring onions, baby onions, salad onions, gibbons, etc. These varieties have smaller bulbs that are not fully developed. The leaves are hollow from inside and are edible. These varieties are milder than red onions and used cooked as well as raw.


Leek is a plant that belongs to the family of genus Allium. It is a symbol of Wales and Welsh leeks are very popular all over Europe for their taste and aroma. Leek is a plant that does not produce a strong bulb and has long leaves that are cylindrical and crunchy to eat. People mistakenly refer to the heath of leaves as the stem of this plant. The part of these leaves that is just above the root or the bulb and is light green in color is edible though people also consume the hard and dark green part of the leaves of leeks too.


Leeks vs Green Onions

• Both green onions, as well as leeks, are part of the same onion family, but leeks are larger and are milder in taste and aroma than green onions.

• It is harder to cook the leaves of leeks while green onion leaves can be easily cooked.

• Leeks look like oversized green onions.

• Green onion leaves can be eaten raw, but leeks require to be cooked before consumption.

• One has to blanch the leaves of leeks as mud and dirt hides in between its leaves.

• It is the light green part of the leaves of leeks that are edible.

• Welsh leeks are very popular, and the vegetable is a national symbol of the country.

So did this help or are you now totally confused.

Once again ~ Happy Cooking!~

Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions

 Difference Between Broccoli, Broccolini, Broccoli Rabe, and Chinese Broccoli?

I was reading a new recipe that called for Broccoli Rabe and I wasn’t sure if I had ever used it in a recipe, so went online (of course) to see what I could find out about it.  It was interesting to me the differences and similarities between them.

The Difference Between Broccoli, Broccolini, Broccoli Rabe, and Chinese Broccoli

What sets these winter veggies apart is the plant family from which they come. While broccoli, Broccolini, and Chinese broccoli are closely related to cabbage, the closest kin to broccoli rabe is the turnip. Taking a closer look at the size of their stalks, along with their leaves and florets, shows the differences.


Broccoli, a member of the cabbage family has thick, crisp stalks topped by rounded green florets. It is mildly bitter has a grassy, earthy flavor. Most people only eat florets, but  the whole plant is edible. I peel the stalk and slice in to 1/2 inch slices and cook all together.  Being an artist I like the look it gives, adding variety to the little trees.

You can steam, sauté, roast, stir-fry, or even purée into a sauce. It is just too simple, so try them all and decide how you prefer to eat it.  It makes a good side dish when cooked, but it can easily be incorporated raw in salads and crudités.



While it might look like it, Broccolini is not baby broccoli. This lanky vegetable is a hybrid; first created in 1993, it’s a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. It has small florets, long stalks, and a few small leaves which are edible.

Compared to the bitter flavor of regular broccoli, Broccolini is more mild, with a sweet, earthy taste. It can be eaten raw, but Broccolini is best when cooked. Sauté, steam, roast, or grill it.  I always thought they were related and did not know why I liked Broccoli so much better than Broccolini.

broccoli rabeBroccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe isn’t really related to broccoli. It’s closely related to the turnip. Approach it is just as you would with bitter leafy greens, like mustard greens or turnip greens.

This long, slender vegetable,  often referred to as broccoli raab and is similar to rapini, has thin stalks with deep-green leaves and small buds that resemble broccoli florets. Broccoli rabe is sold fresh in grocery stores and farmers markets at its peak in the cold  of winter.

The flavor mellows to some extent as it cooks, but broccoli rabe still has a bitter taste that’s a bit earthy and nutty as well as the others. It’s particularly popular in Italian cuisine, and when sautéed or blanched to soften the stalks and leaves it is at its best.


Chinese Broccoli

Chinese broccoli, known as kai-lan, gai-lan, and Chinese kale is a leafy green vegetable closely related to thick-stemmed broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts with leaves, thick stems, and tiny florets.

Widely eaten in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai cuisine, Chinese broccoli has a slightly bitter and earthy taste, and tastes best after a quick steam or sauté, or in a stir-fry. It might prove tough to find Chinese broccoli in large grocery stores. Asian markets are more likely to carry it. Our wonderful Central Market in Poulsbo has all four kinds.  But of course they have the best produce always!

Used Interchangeably?

Yes, but there are a few caveats.

Because they vary in size and shape, certain swaps work better than others. If you’re focused on florets, broccoli and Broccolini can easily be used interchangeably. If you’re cooking with the broccoli stalk, Chinese broccoli also has a thick stem and makes a good substitute. And if the leafy greens are what you’re after, broccoli rabe and Chinese broccoli can be used for one another. Do keep in mind that you may have to adjust the cook time to account for the swap.  Happy Cooking!

Here is the recipe from Cooking Light Magazine that captured my attention and I am going to try tomorrow.

Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Prosciutto and Broccoli Rabe

Prep Time
30 Mins
Total Time
1 Hour 50 Mins
Serves 8 (serving size: about 3 oz. pork and 2 Tbsp. jus)

How to Make It

Step 1

Cook rabe in boiling water 3 minutes; plunge into an ice bath for 1 minute. Drain well. Wrap rabe in paper towels; squeeze dry. Chop rabe into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place in bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; stir well.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Step 3

Cut into pork loin lengthwise from right to left, 3/4 inch from bottom, keeping knife parallel with cutting board; do not cut through the other side. Continue slicing lengthwise from right to left, unrolling loin as you slice, to form a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Season with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Step 4

Arrange prosciutto in layers to cover inside of loin. Spread rabe mixture on top, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll pork up left to right. Tie with twine in surgeon’s knots at 2-inch intervals.

Step 5

Combine stock, wine, and Marmite in a roasting pan. Place pan over medium heat; cook until Marmite dissolves, stirring. Set a roasting rack in pan.

Step 6

Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Place loin in pan; cook 12 minutes or until browned. Place loin on rack; cover loosely with foil. Roast at 325°F for 50 minutes or until meat registers 150°F. Remove pork from pan; let pork stand 20 minutes. Swirl butter into pan juices until butter melts. Cut pork into 3/4-inch slices; serve with jus.

 Served with this Water Chestnut and Pea Salad
Pork loin

  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup prepared ranch salad dressing
  • 5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • 1. Cook carrots in a small amount of water until crisp-tender; drain and rinse in cold water. Place in a serving bowl; add the peas, water chestnuts, onions and cheese. In a small bowl, combine the salad dressing, bacon and pepper; mix well. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Chill until serving. Yield: 6 servings.


 Difference Between Broccoli, Broccolini, Broccoli Rabe, and Chinese Broccoli?


For years we all ground our own breadcrumbs and I often still do for some dishes, but when I discover Panko I switched in most cases, as it is lighter and more crunchy.

In the late ’90s, chefs started talking about the glories of a Japanese breadcrumb called Panko. This light and airy bread version of breadcrumbs was only available in Asian markets and some higher-end luxury gourmet grocery stores. They were pale and large compared to traditional American crumbs, and they fried and toasted up in a more crunchy manner. People took notice and home cooks begin experimenting with this new-to-them style of crumb. By the early 2000’s Panko was readily available in the US.

If they are just breadcrumbs, why are they so different looking and why do they cook up so uniquely? And can I make my own the way I do with regular breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs while simple to make just are not the same and sadly you cannot make panko at home because the bread isn’t baked, but cooked on a metal plate with electrical currents.

It is believed that it was the Portuguese who introduced frying to the Japanese as there is no record of oil, or “abura,” prior to the Portuguese landing in Japan. So when you eat a shrimp tempura, thank a Portuguese for this wonderful entrée.

What is fascinating to me is the story of the creation of the breading for tonkatsu, panko, which became a household word, however, was undocumented.

The invention of panko happened during World War II. While the Japanese were at war with the Russians, they wanted to eat bread out in the battlefields. Unable to bake the bread, the Japanese used their tanks’ batteries to quickly “bake” their bread. They discovered that the bread was extremely light and airy, with very small air pockets.

This method of using electric current to bake bread with no brown crusts is how panko is made today at Upper Crust Enterprises.

Masashi Kawaguchi started Mrs. Friday panko-crusted shrimp fish sold to restaurants and in the frozen section, food service, cash and carry outlets. He brought the panko from Japan, but the best flour comes from the United States, Canada, and Australia. Mr. Kawaguchi thought this did not make good business sense to ship the flour from America to Japan, then back to the United States as panko, so sent his son Gary to Japan to learn how to make panko.

Mr. Kawaguchi opened two plants 35 years ago and the present location in Little Tokyo is now run by Gary Kawaguchi. One of the cleanest, most monitored factories we have seen, it is an impressive operation. We had to remove all jewelry, wear a hairnet, (Jim had a beard net) clean and wash our hands twice before we began our tour around the panko factory.

The bread dough is carefully mixed, kneaded, and risen twice, just as you would if baking bread at home. The bread goes through a specially made “oven” for 1 1/2 hours where each huge loaf of bread is electrocuted. When the bread comes out, the loaves are whitish slabs of “bread” that looks and jiggles like tofu. Tom tore off a piece of bread for us to taste.

The bread was soft and billowy and tastes like bread should.

These loaves are air-dried on large racks overnight. The next day, a special food processor cuts these loaves into long crumbs. Unlike their competitors, Upper Crust has healthy looking panko flakes, not tiny crumbs.

By weight, their panko gives 26 percent better yield per pound because of the larger, slivery crumbs with an airy texture.

Asked whether gluten-free panko would be a future product and he said the gluten in wheat flour was necessary to get the texture and airy panko crumbs. Tom suggested using crushed rice crispies, corn flakes or dehydrated potato flakes for coating when cooking for someone with gluten intolerance.


Today, producers make the crustless loaves, let them rest for a day or so, then put them through a sort of mill or grinder with screens to make the bread shards. They then bake the shards at high heat to remove any remaining moisture, giving them that signature texture.

The Japanese first learned to make bread from the Europeans, and panko is derived from pan from the Portuguese and -ko, a Japanese suffix indicating “flour“, “crumb”, or “powder” (as in komeko, “rice powder”, sobako, “buckwheat flour”, and komugiko, “wheat flour”).

Polenta vs. Cornmeal! The Big Debate ?

I found this article on Epicurious written by Sheela Prakash on November 13, 2017 and thought it was useful information, so am just passing it along.

Ah, the endless polenta vs. cornmeal debate. A few nights ago I found myself standing in the bulk section of my grocery store, staring blankly at a bin of cornmeal. I had come in search of polenta, which I had planned to make for dinner. But it seemed as though everybody else had the same plan—the polenta was sold out. However, there was plenty of coarse-ground cornmeal, and from all I knew they were essentially the same thing. So I went home and made, um, polenta. And it worked. Sort of. I cooked it low and slow, and the results were indeed porridge-like. But something was missing in consistency and flavor.

Confused, I reached out for help. Glenn Roberts, of Anson Mills in South Carolina, and Sarah House, of Bob’s Red Mill in Oregon, were able to set the facts straight:


Polenta is not an ingredient—it’s a a dish. “The term ‘polenta’ refers to the traditional Italian preparation of a variety of coarsely ground grains or starches cooked into a porridge,” says House. “For example, Northern Italy is known for polenta taragna, a porridge of cornmeal and buckwheat meal.” Chestnut flour, chickpea flour, or coarse ground rice are just a few of the many grains that were traditionally used, and are still used, in Italy. However, cornmeal polenta is by far the most common preparation and today, particularly in the United States, when you hear the term “polenta,” it refers to the cornmeal version.


So, is polenta cornmeal? And can you use those bags labeled “cornmeal” and “polenta” interchangeably? Yes and no. “Most people, including chefs we know and love, say any version of medium or coarsely ground corn works for polenta,” says Roberts. “Ultimately, yes, a cook can prepare a porridge from medium or coarsely ground corn. Fine-grind can be a bit too pasty if prepared this way. I like [fine-grind] best for baking or breading. But for those who are sticklers for authenticity, choosing a product specially designed for polenta will produce an ideal dish,” says Sarah.


Cornmeal in a Bowl

True polenta is made from a specific variety of corn. “Polenta should be made from corn that at one point culturally grew in Italy, even if the variety is now grown in the United States,” says Roberts. Authentic polenta is most typically made from a variety of corn called eight-row flint, or otto file in Italian. It’s an heirloom variety that produces a porridge that is deep in both color and flavor. It’s also milled differently from cornmeal, which yields a different, fuller mouthfeel.


In a pinch, sure, use that medium or coarse-ground cornmeal for polenta. But when possible, try to seek out the cornmeal that’s labeled “polenta,” as this is most likely to be the real stuff, the otto file—the stuff that will yield a bowl of porridge with a rich yellow-orange hue and a specific, addictive sweetness. Look for polenta from respected mills domestically and in Italy. Roberts likes Mulino Marino, a mill in Northern Italy whose polenta is made from the eight-row flint variety. And, of course, he also recommends his own company’spolenta, which also uses this heirloom corn.


Traditionally polenta is cooked in water. But it can also be made with stock or milk for added creaminess and flavor. Be sure to season with salt. Toward the end of the cooking process, it’s common to stir butter or olive oil in to the polenta for luxe creaminess. It’s also common to add cheese, like Parmesan. Then, your polenta can be topped with any number of things. Ragout is typical, but it’s also delicious served with mushrooms, roasted vegetables, or with a protein like fish. Or, just eat it on its own, as a creamy porridge. Need to know more about how to cook polenta, step by step? Check it out here.

Polenta vs. Cornmeal! The Big Debate ?

The Litter Dance


This is Frostyman the Cat not wanting to model his lovely new Christmas outfit. I wonder if I am the only cat owner that wonders if your cat wakes up in the middle of the night takes a cup of cat litter and dances around the room (rooms) throwing it here and there.

When I retire at night, after watching TV or reading with Frostyman in my lap or in an adjacent chair I nicely put him out of the bedroom and close the door.  I know when I went upstairs to relax that I had a very clean floor.

When I come down in the morning there is magically spread cat hair and cat litter through out the entire downstairs and of course cat hair at the top of the stairs where he has impatiently been waiting for me to open the door and go down and feed him.

It always amazes me just how much litter and cat hair can appear overnight.  Now I do understand the pine needles that magically appear too, but the amount of litter always amazes me.

I clean the litter box every morning, so it is not from having a dirty box. Maybe I should try a new litter every time I buy new litter.  There has got to be something that does not come with the cat from the litter box.  We already have the litter box, so the cat goes through a door to his own private bathroom.


So here is his private entry to his private bathroom,


and here is his outdoor litter area.  I am thinking next house have a tunnel about six feel long to get there, with a grate he has to walk across, kind of like the ventilated plastic on this door that opens.

If anyone can suggest a better litter or better idea.  Please share with me.

The Litter Dance

Do you have “Daily Chores”?


Luckily the change the diaper stage is long gone, but it seems I start my day basically the same every day.  I have a dear friend that I think starts her day the right way.  She makes a cup of delicious coffee, takes it back to bed and reads for an hour.

I wake up to Frostyman the Cat, sometimes AKA as Asshole Cat, knocking at the bedroom door about 6 AM saying: “Feed Me!  Feed Me!”  Rather than lay there and listen to him, I normally got down and make him happy.  I did not say make me happy, I said make the cat happy.  Then at last I get my coffee.  I attempted letting him sleep in the bedroom like a lot of normal cats do, but he thinks 5 AM is attack the feet if they move on top of the comforter. One, it is not pleasant and two, it is really hard on the well-being of the comforter.

Since I recently started teaching a college class in interior design online, my office hours are 7:30 AM till 9;00 AM.  During that time I read and grade assignments and interact with students on one computer and read my email and Facebook on a second computer. In that time or before, I always run the dishwasher and put away dishes, do one or two loads of laundry and vacuum the floor.  Daily clean up comes with a long-haired cat that is a little messy.  I do laundry every day, because I truly hate doing laundry. My logic in every day laundry is that I do it every day, there isn’t very much with just the two of us and it is over and done with very quickly. When my granddaughter is here in the summer, there is a lot more laundry, but her clothes and little and cute!  Makes a big difference to me somehow.

If I don’t have a blog, I sit down and try to come up with something interesting with my second cup of coffee.  This one decaf or the blog might be too long fired by caffeine. Still my Pj’s I am always a little worried that someone might come to the door, but since I cute Pj’s I am not totally worried.

Shower-time is next so I can check on the chickens, let them out if I am not leaving right away and see if they have added any new eggs.  I often take them a treat too. I figure I should be dressed to clean the outside litter box.  We have a lovely little house that we built on the side steps, that connects to the laundry room with a little door, so there is no litter in the house.  Not a perfect solution, as the cat brings litter in the house on his tail and feet every time, thus the vacuum every day feature of my morning.

With the clean clothes put away, the dishes put away, the chickens happy and the litter box clean I get on with my day.  As you know from a previous post where the weekly trash to the street is my duty, don’t fall under it on the way to the street.  It is not good for your ego or your health.

So do you have the same chores everyday or do you vary by the weekday.  I did most of the same stuff when I working, but added chickens this summer as I am home a lot more time.

Happy Choring!

Do you have “Daily Chores”?