Thursday, September 17, 2015

When Beeches Stop for Lunch

"Serves 'im right! Bloody humans... "
The trees of Ireland are evidently quite hungry. One was recently found to have eaten a corpse from the Middle Ages.  As if it wasn't enough to be beaten to death somehow, the poor fellow had to endure several hundred years of slowly passing through the alimentary canal (or whatever they have) of a beech tree. 

Life can truly be unfair sometimes.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

You (Almost Certainly) Missed It

If you happened to be in Namibia or the South Pole 8 hours ago as I write, and looked up, you would you would have seen a partial solar eclipse. But since you probably didn't, here's an artist's recreation:

Saturday, September 12, 2015

How to make a Waffle House Omelet

Since it's Saturday and who doesn't like a delectable omelet on the weekend, after all, I decided to reprint one of my most popular posts today:  Benefits From an Old Job.  It's all about my adventures as a Waffle House cook and (the most important part) how to make one of their world renowned Cheese Omelets, with hints on doing it even if you don't own an industrial strength milk shake mixer like they use. I hope  you like it!

*          *          *

Back when I was trying to save up money for college, I spent a year working 10-hour night shifts at the Waffle House in Columbus, Mississippi. Waffle House is something of an institution down south. As a transplanted Yankee I had never heard of the place until I was applying for jobs all up and down Highway 45.

There were several attractions to working there. For one, during your breaks they let you eat as much as you wanted of everything they had, making it the perfect job for a bottomless teenager.

When I started at Waffle House "everything" included steak, and I took full advantage of that rule, sometimes eating 3 or 4 steaks at a sitting. Sadly, after a while they changed this policy to exclude free steak. I have no direct proof, but I've always harbored the suspicion that somehow I was responsible.

In addition to the steak, we were open 24 hours a day (except from 3 to 4, when we washed the place out with a garden hose), and this gave me the chance to see every slice of life there was in a medium-sized Mississippi town. After 1 a.m. the patrons of Cricket's Disco wandered in after their favorite establishment closed for the night. This may have been their wisest choice since we had coffee and they often had put away too much Cricket party beverages.

When dawn broke the Cricket's people were gone but a regular set of farmers, factory workers, and other hard laborers had taken their place, patiently waiting on their coffee, eggs, and grits. And all through the night, truckers pulled in and out, eating steaks and burgers, swilling down our coffee, and telling about where they just were and where they were headed.

Omelet Ambrosia
And then there were the omelets. Even though they are called the Waffle House, they are probably even better known for their delicious, fluffy omelets. It's amazing that simple eggs and cheese can taste so darned good!

Now, my hot, arduous, but filling time as a Waffle House cook is yielding extra dividends. In my neverending quest to get paid for writing stuff I am currently marketing my services to a company that produces, among other things, how-to's and useful information. Rather than submitting an older sample of my work I decided to put something new together over the weekend. As I cast about for an idea while making my Saturday breakfast, the idea struck me to tell the world how they to can make these heavenly omelets.

A little research revealed that Waffle House had actually released their secret recipe on the Web, so I was able to have a check on the accuracy of my egg making memory.

The results can be found below. Enjoy your next breakfast!


How to Make a Fluffy Waffle House-style Cheese Omelet

With over 1600 restaurants, the Waffle House chain is a fixture throughout the southern United States, and one menu item they are particularly known for is their cheese omelet. Many people say it’s the best omelet they’ve ever tasted. Fortunately, I once cooked for Waffle House and they are not stingy with their omelet formula. In this article I will show you how to make a Waffle House-style omelet right in your kitchen.

First, assemble your supplies. You will need:

3 large Grade A eggs
2 slices of American cheese
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
A 9 inch, light weight, non-stick pan
A whisk, fork, or blender

A medium-sized bowl
A small metal spatula

The key to creating a fluffy omelet is whipping the eggs until the mixture becomes foamy. Waffle House cooks do this using an industrial-strength milk shake mixer, but you can accomplish the same thing at home with standard kitchen implements.

Break the 3 eggs into a bowl large enough to keep them from spilling out while you whip them. Using a whisk or fork, beat the eggs vigorously for a full minute until they become frothy. If you prefer using a blender, mix your eggs on a medium setting for one minute. Unlike some omelet recipes, no milk or other ingredients should be added. The mixture is made up entirely of beaten eggs.

Slowly pour 2 tablespoons of oil into your pan over high heat. Let the oil warm until you see small ripples on the surface, then add the whipped eggs.

It is important to let the eggs set with as much frothiness as possible. The preferred method for doing this is to hold the pan over the heat and slowly rotate it in a circular motion so the outer edges of the omelet move toward the center. However, you can get the same result by gently pushing the solid edges toward the liquid middle with a small metal spatula.

Once the eggs become firm it is time to turn them over. Waffle House cooks are trained to flip them gracefully in the pan. Although this is the most effective method it takes practice and can result in painful grease burns on your hand and wrist. Unless you are a pro, you may want to simply use your spatula to flip the omelet over.

After it has been flipped, allow the omelet to cook for about 30 seconds. It is crucial not to disturb it too much during this phase. Otherwise the omelet can “fall,” just like a souffle, and you will loose all the fluffiness you’ve been laboring so hard for. Very slowly rotating the eggs is all you need to do at this point. Then, after 30 seconds, flip your omelet back.

You are almost there. Let the eggs cook for 30 more seconds. While you wait, take 2 slices of American cheese and place them on the omelet in a double diamond formation. When 30 seconds is up, fold the omelet so that the cheese is covered and slide it onto a plate.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Mike the Wonder Chicken

Once there was a chicken named Mike who got along quite well without his head. No, really! Well then, watch this PBS video if you don't believe me.

 Geeze! Skeptics.

Now that you're a believer and will never doubt me again, be sure to drop by Fruita, Colorado if you're in the vicinity next May and take part in the bacchanalian revel they put on yearly in honor of our favorite headless chicken. His decapitated ghost will thank you for it!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and has been for the last 10 years. A little over a year ago one of my all-time favorite cousins took her life. And she was one of the last people I could ever have imagined doing that. I've known her since she was born and she was always such a happy, cheerful person. I'm about as stunned by it now as I was when I first heard it had happened.

So I want to make sure I highlight this day this year. The possibility of commiting suicide can be roiling beneath the surface of anyone under the right circumstances; no one is immune. In fact, it could happen to you, too. There are signs that someone is contemplating taking their life. We need to be alert for them and not deny them when we see them.

The signs, according to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, are these:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

If you observe these signs in someone, what do you do? Three things:

  1. Ask them if something is wrong.
  2. Be there for them to talk to.
  3. Call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for guidance, and encourage them to call it too.

And if you don't live in the US, please go to this web page, click on your country, and contact the center in your area.

What if you're online and someone seems to be talking about killing themselves? For some time now, many of the major social media sites have had a suicide prevention mechanism in place. Google automatically brings the Suicide Hotline up if you search for self-harm-related subjects.  This page tells you how to contact the safety teams for several social media sites.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Meaning of Life Revealed -- Briefly

Like most deep and heavy people in the world, you too have no doubt contemplated the question: What is the meaning of life?

Well, you're just out of luck!

The actual meaning of life was discovered by a guy named Postmil back in 2000, and he offered this blinding revelation to the highest bidder on eBay.  Here's what the most important moment in all of history looked like if you had been chosen by the Fates to be bidding at the right place and at the right time.

I have discovered the reason for our existence and will be happy to share this information with the highest bidder.


But you weren't. And so, after a total of 8 bids, the infinite truth of all existence was passed down from the Trancendent Ascended Master postmil to the new avatar for a new age  on February 8, 2000 for a suitably humble and self-effacing $3.26.

And the cosmos was changed forever.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Michigan Under Seige! Is No Meat Safe??

"Now where's that freezerrrrrrrr..."
Deep in the fog-shroudded Ypsilanti night a dark figure slithered through the quiet neighborhood. Spying an open window he or she slid inside, ready to silently relieve the inhabitants of their most valuable possessions...

Which turned out to be "frozen meats and a chain saw."

Never captured nor even sighted, the dreaded "Frozen Meat & Chain Saw Monster" still stalks the nights of eastern central Michigan -- and the nightmares of her people. Who knows what frozen meats he will desire next? What brand chain saw will he purloin?

It is conjectured that the fiend may have watched this very video before embarking on his crime wave: