Category: cooking

It’s a coffee maker. No, it’s a music box!


When I’m at a loss for a blog idea (which is often), I call in the Never-Fail Blog Topic Generator: the Hammacher/Schlemmer catalog. They seldom disappoint, and yesterday this gem appeared in my in-box. It is a combination music box and espresso maker that plays an odd assortment of 30-second snippets of songs such as Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water as the beans brew. (Let’s just pause here a moment while you run those two tunes through your head.)

If you are reaching for your credit card so that you can have your very own Music Box Espresso Machine, I should warn you that it will set you back $4200. That’s a lot of beans, friend.

I try to imagine how this product came about in the first place. Did the inventor’s children accidentally Crazy Glue his wife’s heirloom Swiss music box to Mr. Coffee? What else can we juxtapose?

Oh wait, those already exist.

For just an instant, I considered trying to invent something and pitch it on some local cable TV channel at 3AM, but that would be silly.

Any fool can see that all the good ideas have already been taken.

Good Luck


So long, 2015. I’m going to miss you because I just liked writing “2015.” I’m sure I’ll get the hang of “2016” in a month or two.

I grew up in Ohio and our traditional New Year’s Day meal was pork and sauerkraut, which was supposed to bring good luck through the new year. I’ve always considered myself fairly lucky and I do like pork and sauerkraut, so I’ve continued the family tradition. It’s tasty and why take chances? This seems to be a popular New Year’s meal in the Midwest; in the South, it might be black-eyed peas and ham hocks.

When I moved to New England, I discovered most people had never heard of a good luck meal. Given the way that these folks drive, I would think they must be eating something for good luck because most of them do make it home from work each day.

I’m off to the store. Given that the market serves the Polish neighbors here in town, maybe I’ll vary the menu with kielbasi and pierogi this year.  And sauerkraut, of course.

What is on your New Year’s menu? Whatever your meal might include, I wish you health and good luck in the coming year.

See you in 2016.


I changed your recipe and now I hate it


I was looking for a recipe for a salad to take to a neighborhood picnic this weekend. My all-time favorite recipe is for a cold spinach salad with sesame oil dressing but you have to blanch and chop about 6 pounds of spinach and I didn’t want to take the time for that. Instead I searched for similar recipes on the Internet and found one I liked at (If you’re interested, click here.)

I admit that when I’m trying a recipe for the first time, I follow the directions exactly. I want to see what the recipe is supposed to taste like before I start changing  it. So it’s surprising to read how many cooks just start tossing in their own ingredients right from the start. Granted, most of them are probably better cooks than I am.

I did read the reviews because I never know when I’ll come across an idea for a blog post, and these reviewers did not disappoint.

First, most of the reviewers loved the recipe. They might have added an ingredient or two, but not enough to make something other than what the chef had in mind.

However, if you are reviewing and rating a recipe that you’ve changed, what, exactly are you reviewing? Is it great –or bad–because of your tweaks or in spite of them?  One reviewer acknowledged this when he or she wrote: “At this point I’m no longer reviewing the original recipe, since all the modifications make this an entirely different salad.”

Another cook gave it a low, two-star (actually, two-forks) rating after making 8  (eight!) changes to this simple recipe.  “I thought the salad wasn’t really memorable,” she wrote.

Maybe that’s because she forgot what the original recipe was supposed to be.