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Borrego Springs, CA

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cabin fever?

It’s been a miserable weather time for over the last four days.  I worked on Friday helping to clean a big storage area at headquarters, but once I got home I’ve pretty much been stuck inside.  I’ve made the occasional venture out with Emma, or to take garbage to the dumpster, or a quick trip to the grocery store, but other than that I’ve stayed dry and warm inside the rig.  The result is I had nothing to blog about. 

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Today’s highlight was that a blue jay finally stopped by the Hard Rock Bird Café.  Lots of folks don’t like blue jays, and think of them as bullies at their feeders.  I like them.  Keeping the bully theory in mind, here’s a couple of trivial facts about this bird species.  When I was banding birds and captured a blue jay in a mist net you might expect that the bird would put up quite a fight.  The opposite was true.  They seemed to be stunned, and banding them was a breeze.  The pleasant little black-capped chickadee, on the other hand, fought beak and nail when trapped.  What spitfires chickadees are!  So, in my opinion, blue jays are like many other bullies… all bluster, but wusses (sp?) at heart.  Nyah-Nyah

Now here’s the other astounding fact.  Blue jays, bluebirds, and other birds with blue feathers aren’t really blue at all.  If you hold one of their feathers up to the sun, they are actually black.  That blue color is due to the refraction/reflection of light.  I tell you these fascinating little things for two reasons.  One, so you can dazzle your friends and family during holiday gatherings when there’s a lull in conversation.  And secondly, because I have a wee touch of cabin fever from being isolated for these many days.  Disappointed smile  Emma just doesn’t appreciate my babbling…

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The other excitement today was to find this killdeer outside my window as I sat reading blogs at my table.  Lately, Gypsy has been talking about BLTs and meatloaf on her posts.  That sparked me to fix myself a BLT, and to think about meatloaf.  One of her readers suggested making individual sized portions of mini meatloaves in a muffin pan.  That sounded like a good idea to me; just the right size.  However, when I checked my old muffin pan it was rather rusted and unappealing inside the cups.  I ditched it.  Instead, I’m going to use some of those disposable mini loaf pans.  Each loaf will be about a half pound before baking, but I can use the left overs for cold meatloaf sandwiches.  Sounds like a winner to me.  My secret to a tasty moist meatloaf is to make a few indentations in the top of each and put cold bacon grease in the holes before baking.  I made up four of them, and put three in the freezer.  I plan to bake them one at a time, but I’m just not sure how long to do a mini meatloaf in the convection oven.

Does anyone other than me keep a jar of bacon grease in their refrigerator?  If I fry up some bacon, I always keep the grease.  Back when I was little, there was always a jar of bacon grease in the ice box.  Times were not always easy, and my grandmother would sometimes fix us cold bacon grease sandwiches for lunch.  Waste not, want not when you’re on a tight budget!

Enough rambling for tonight.  Hopefully the weather will be a bit better tomorrow, and I’ll have something other than bacon grease and meatloaf to talk about.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

46 comments:

  1. Just a couple of days ago I was telling Bill how my Dad (the cook in our family) always kept an empty coffee can with bacon grease ... he used it for everything from greasing the griddle for pancakes to who knows what all (he was a very innovative cook). I hadn't thought of that in years and now read about you keeping it in the fridge. I was happy that the blue jays finally came to my feeder here... I don't care whether they're bullies or not... they're beautiful!

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  2. I remember lard on bread with salt shaken over top. Stores in California stocked lard (Spanish-side label Manteca, which is also a city in CA) in the past but I haven't seen it in the last few years. So many wonderful things vanishing from our culture, sigh :-)

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    1. I can find manteca in most grocery stores, in the area where they sell Crisco. Lard doesn't need to be refrigerated. My big problem is that lard is sold in too large a quantity to suit me - I used to find it in Virginia in 1# packages, like a block of butter.

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  3. Love potatoes fried in bacon grease!! We ventured to the store this morning and the post office. We are experiencing temps at -9 and strong winds. Inside is the place to be. Tomorrow they come to replace our window that the grouse broke. That should cool off the house!!!

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  4. Now that you bring it up, it's possible there was a jar of bacon grease in our fridge growing up. Certainly in my grandmother's out on the farm. Mini meatloaves sound perfect! It's cold here too....but we're used to it so I guess not so bad. Plus I have to go to work so I get out a bit. Was supposed to go Christmas shopping after work but it's so windy and so cold I figured another day would work. Even if stuff ends up late to where it's going.

    I did not know blue jays feathers were black. Really? I'll have to wait till I find a feather. They ARE bullies at our feeders, I have what I call the 'band of 5' jays that arrive all at once, dominate the feeders and then leave. The little birds are here all the time though so I don't feel so bad. Blue jays are beautiful and fun to watch.

    Now I'm rambling..so I'll just wish you a good night!

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  5. Our son called (yes called, not texted) the other day with a question. Why did we always keep the bacon grease in the fridge? So I explained to him about frying eggs or taters in the grease and adding it to my baked beans and everything else. So, guess what - he also has a can in his fridge. I'm sure that Emma is more than willing to let you babble as much as you want to as long as the food gets put on the table in time.

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  6. I always save bacon grease, as my mom did. I'm going to try your suggestion about poking holes in the top. You are talking about my favorite bird, the little black-capped chickadee! They are so sweet and polite with each other, taking turns at the feeder. I was really surprised to hear that they can be fighters when the need arises. I like bluebirds but they are noisy and bold.. We have Stellar's jays in this area and they are so much fun to watch and listen to.

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  7. Sunshine and a 48 degree high is promised for tomorrow! That sounds even better than my favorite eggs, fried in bacon grease.

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  8. My grandmother on my dads side also had a jar of bacon grease..and she used lard in her home made donuts ...the best I have ever tasted...
    makes me :)

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  9. Interesting about the blue feathers. I love bluejays - so beautiful.

    Hmmmmm .... now I want meatloaf.

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  10. If the highlight of your day is a blue jay, it must be a very boring day!

    Paul is going to go nuts when he reads this blog. He loves meatloaf.

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  11. I have started frying the bacon in the cast iron skillet and then immediately after making gravy!! YUM!...

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  12. We always had bacon grease too...I love fried eggs cooked in hot bacon grease...makes the edges crispy!
    I love bluebirds...

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  13. Bacon, meatloaf, eggs, and gravy. What great subjects ,and I haven't had supper, yet. Think it will be bacon, eggs fried in the grease, and a pan of gravy. All with a pan of hot biscuits. Thanks to Judy, and all the other commenters.:-) Oh, the bird information was interesting, also.

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  14. You know, I understand about that generation the lived through the hunger of the Depression. They saved tin foil, and glass jars, and plastic wrap and rubber bands in balls that just grew and grew over time. They saved because there just wasn't enough to go around and you never knew when you'd be happy you saved those buttons, or rubber bands, or whatever. My grandma saved aluminum foil. This doesn't sound to awful, but you know, the way she saved it was to put the foil briefly through soap and water bath, rinse and then set it up on top of the sink to dry. When it was "dry" she'd put the "new" used foil on top of the next most recently used foil, and then press them down and flat. There were wrinkles but they were still relatively flat. And she would diligently save pennies by using that foil over again, and over again. There was just this one thing about it. While she did give it a quick run through the soapy water in the sink, it really had enough grease on it that it needed a LOT of soap and a LOT of hot water rinsing, but that wasn't done. So all those pieces of reclaimed pennies saved by using the foil over again, meant that grease from one or more meals was then introduced as the cover to the next bit of leftovers to go in the fridge covered with foil. I explain this to say, I understand about your grandma making bacon grease sandwiches. However, my stomach lurched when I read that sentence just as it did as a child when I'd see my grandma put that penny-pinched, used and greasy foil on top of something I knew we'd be eating at another meal. Which is not to say we didn't have our weird family "recipes" for tough times. My mom would put mayonnaise and ketchup together to make "thousand-island dressing," and we'd dunk saltine crackers into it for yummy fill-you-up lunches that were really made of quiet desperation. So I'm with you on this, but my stomach left the room several minutes ago. ;) Oh, and I've just arrived home from camping out in Georgia for four days, and it rained three of those days. One was a temp of 65 or so and I had the windows open and the fan on in the camper. The rest of the time, it was wet, and cold (40s) and just really wretched. So know some where you're coming from on the weather front. Hope things improve for us both. I have deep water aerobics in the pool tomorrow at 7:30 am, and I'm telling you know, I'm thinking it's going to be very, very ugly for those first 90 seconds in the pool!

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  15. Gypsy's reader says you all are going to die! grease? man oh man … I remember making the best fried potatoes fried in bacon grease…. she too had a canister to pour the grease.

    I grew up with grease. I'm fat and I'm probably going to die because of said fried potatoes in grease…. well, along with pie.

    I have given up grease and pie. If I die the death of 1,000 screams... I'm going to be really pissed.

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  16. On a Coast Guard cutter I was stationed on years ago, the cook always used bacon grease in, on or over every meal he cooked. The entire crew started putting on lots of weight. I'm glad I got off after two years of eating like that. The cutter was starting to take on a heavy list... :c)

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  17. Add me to the 'mother kept bacon grease' list. Look at what a discussion you started. And you said you had nothing to blog about.

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  18. Bacon grease, or lard, was always in our refrig..in a coffee can..Mom used it for almost everything..Not such a great idea if you already have a Cardiologist in you Doctor loop! We have had our day/night shades down for the last 4 days..I am about to go nuts!!

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  19. Yes the weather sure had been a bit nippy around the Nation. Walking Fred gets to be a hassle getting hm dressed for the cold. He has decided he doesn't like the cold or the dark besides rain. Yes I am babbling too.

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  20. Yep, I keep bacon grease too. I also use it in my favorite cornbread recipe.

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  21. I think Blue Jays and Cardinals are my very faves. . .and yes, I keep a mason jar with bacon grease in my fridge. . .every great once in a while. . .but not too, too often, after I've cooked bacon, I will whisk the eggs into the leftover bacon grease. . .if ya whisk them real fast they get light and fluffy from the bacon grease getting incorporated. . .oh my goodness. . .delicious!

    what a great post. . .hmmm. . .bacon and eggs for breakfast I think! :)

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  22. Interesting idea abut Blue Jays being cowards at heart:) Bacon fat was saved way back in my farm days but not in the last way to many decades:)

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  23. I think I'm taking on cholesterol from just reading the responses!

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  24. I have to admit that while I save my bacon grease, it's only because it is easier to dispose of after it's solidified. I guess I'll have to start using it instead of eventually throwing it out!

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  25. Sorry, no bacon grease here unless I'm cooking something in the pan when the turkey bacon is done. lol

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  26. growing up there was always a jar of bacon grease but didnt keep it in fridge. food always tastier when fried in bacon grease, but
    of course your arteries arent as happy as your taste buds. yep can remember gravy being made from the bacon grease and then poured over bread for dinner. Blue jay vs chickadee correlation can be made between 109 lb laid back Riggins and 8 lb feisty Sadie....brush their teeth and see which one puts up the most fight. guess those little animal packages just have to show their spirit, the old 10 ft tall and bullet proof.

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  27. What I remember most was that dad wanted goose grease on his bread. But he was from a German culture and they all liked their greese and potatoes.

    Glad to see Blue Jays making a comeback. Corvids in Texas - and other places - were really hit hard by West Nile Virus.

    One of the best books I've read was one left in the Volunteer Housing at Malheur NWR. It described the various species of ravens, magpies, crows and jays. None of them is going to go extinct any time soon as all of them have remarkable abilities to learn new skills and figure out solutions to problems. And it also helps that they can make their homes almost everywhere and eat most anything.

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  28. My mother always kept bacon grease. I remember her putting it on biscuits. When she got to the point with Alzheimer's that she could not remember how to cook- I threw out that bacon grease.

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  29. I like blue jays and blue birds, but had no idea their feathers were actually black ... like polar bears that aren't really white, and glaciers that look blue ... it's all about the light.

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  30. Mom still keeps bacon grease in a little aluminum container especially made for it--the container sits in the middle of her cookstove.

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  31. Yes, my mom always had bacon grease in the frig; but I don't because I hardly ever buy bacon. Another money-saving action: saving the paper wrapping from cubes of butter or margarine to use for greasing cake pans and cookie sheets.
    By the number of respondents to this post, I'd say you're right on with blog topics on nasty weather days! Anything that sparks our memories like bacon grease is GOOD! Thanks for helping remember life with my mom.

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  32. I just did a search for cooking times and came up with this, https://www.google.com/search?q=mini+meatloaf+recipe&oq=mini+meatloaf+&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.11154j0j8&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8#es_sm=122&espv=210&q=mini+meatloaf+cooking+time

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  33. I still keep it to fry potatoes in but we hardly ever have bacon. I used to have a brown crock in the fridge and that is all it held.
    Your Jay is beautiful...someone in Park Rapids has a Cardinal again this winter they live near a river. I was super jealous.
    -24 this Am thought I would share that freezing fact:)

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  34. Any day I see bluejays is a good day. They are so beautiful with the snow!

    My Mom was very cautious about a lot of greasy food but the one yummy thing she did was pour bacon grease (and bits) over popped corn. Has butter beat every way there is. I rarely buy bacon but I would save the grease if I did for this one thing!

    Cheers,

    Jo, in the land of snow, wind and sub-zero temps.

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  35. I don't save bacon grease but I might start. I read of a recipe for suet using bacon grease, cornmeal, and bird seed. We have a northern flicker who loves our suet feeders so I'm thinking of trying to make some homemade. Your jay picture is beautiful. I love the jays, even though all we have are scrub jays. We have two "regulars" who want their peanuts lined up on the deck rail every morning.

    I do still eat an old depression era food that would have cardiologists cringing. Seems everyone had a cow and chickens back in the day so milk, eggs, and butter were always available. Flour was cheap, so you mixed an egg into flour to make little "dribblings" and cooked them in simmering milk. Top with a pat of fresh butter, salt and pepper and you have a poor man's porridge. It's my secret guilty pleasure and makes me remember Grandma.

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  36. I shape my meatloaf into patties and fry them just like hamburgers. Quick, easy, and makes for already sliced leftovers. Potatoes friend in bacon grease served with chocolate pudding was one of our favorite meals when I was a child.

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  37. Dang, it is cold! I'm still stuck in Dallas. Came up for a dog show, but also got a massive ice storm as well. Can't complain too much though because we did not lose power like some others, (many) did! So I have a space heater going in the RV while I'm parked in a friends driveway. Hope to head back to the Houston area tomorrow. Keep warm! Interesting trivia on the bluebirds! Enjoy that meatloaf.

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  38. Another one here with mom having bacon grease in the coffee can. She mostly used it like we use Mazola now, just easier for her to use the grease over and over again. Something about her eggs tasted so much better in bacon grease.
    She also collected rubber bands and had the hugest can of buttons I have ever seen. She washed sandwich and freezer bags diligently once they were used, and tried very hard not to waste food (she got really creative with leftovers so we wouldn't be bored).
    Amazing how these things remind you of home....

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  39. I know it hard to blog about something when you didn't do much or didn't get out. We are in the same state of mind, just sitting back and not doing much. But you always come up with some great pictures.

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  40. When baking a regulation-sized meatloaf, I punch my fingers down all around so that the heat permeates the whole loaf fairly evenly. This gets the inside cooked before the outside is too dry. When doing baby meatloaves in either a muffin tin or small rectangular pans, just punch a good sized hole in the center - for the same reason. You will find that the hole nearly completely fills in. No one will notice, and if they do, unlikely that they will care! If it is undesirable for you, you can fill it with catsup or cheese if it is still visible when you take it out of the oven.

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  41. I've not heard of cold bacon grease sandwiches, but I have heard of mustard sandwiches!

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  42. Now I am hungry. Mom always had bacon grease and would never make a pie crust w/o lard.

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  43. Nice Post. Thanks for sharing this in Your blog

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