Dehydrating Food Is An Art

Dehydrating food caught my interest. After viewing many dehydrating machines, I selected one that has nine trays, stainless steel shelving, digitized timing and heat selections. And of course this machine also had to meet my budget. There are many different price ranges and purchases of trays that can drive up the cost. Luckily I came upon one that provided everything in a bundle.

My first attempt at dehydrating fruits was interesting. Upon reading the manual,  I discovered that the dried food in the grocery store has preservatives and this gives it the color. And it tastes different too. At first, I did not have the proper cutting tools and sliced the strawberries very thin. After watching a video one woman suggested an egg slicer to cut the strawberries so I will be trying that out! Although, slicing the strawberries thin makes a great crackle topping to yogurt. The bananas that I purchased were old bananas at discount and very wet. Next time I will just purchase bananas that are ripe and believe that it will dehydrate better, less chewy. The organic pears were delicious and now that I have an apple, potato core hand machine, the slices will be consistent and should dehydrate better. A few days before dehydrating I picked some organic parsley from my garden box and sandwiched it in-between two paper towels for drying. I decided to place the parsley onto a tray and into the dehydration machine and it was amazing how it turned out. I just picked up a handful of organic parsley and it crumbled right in my hand to a very rich consistency. So far I am very excited about trying out other herbs, fruits and veggies and creating fruit rolls. As I explore this dehydrating process it makes sense to share my experiences storing food and dehydration tips on the blog. Hope you enjoy it. Pictured below is fruit crackle on top of yogurt and the fresh organic parsley from my garden box. Dehydrating Food is another form of art where you can be creative!

 

Ghostly Encounter and a Rusted Rimmed Tire

On my walk along the road side, I noticed that someone placed a large used truck tire with rusted brim up against a street sign. The perfect item to write a short story on how it may have ended up on the side of the road. This is part of a series about ‘Things I Find On The Side Of The Road.’ by Elizabeth McLaughlin
052017-9It was sunrise and there Frank sat at a worn out marbled linoleum topped, chrome legged kitchen table contemplating about that days work. Usually the last sip of hot strong coffee from his favorite diner sized ceramic mug always tasted its best! Being in the demolition business  presented a different challenge each day and often required going into Trenton where most of his client base resided. This particular job Jason was going to assist Frank with the removal of a dilapidated commercial warehouse and was already on his way to work. Although, Frank was a contractor he held  an intrinsic conservative work ethic rule. His grandfather always instilled into him that everyone was to be on time whenever it was his dime.
Trenton could be a very sketchy place to work and the warehouse location was far from being situated where modern industry flourished. Frank made a left hand turn onto Chambers Street and the only sign of life was an oversized rat scurrying across the broad street. Abandoned, skeletal framed warehouses were sandwiched in-between a few vacant row houses.  All scheduled for demolition to make room for future development. The old red Mac Truck made its way down a weeded, broken black top driveway, its heavy wide tires drove over parts of broken porcelain sinks and grey metal file cabinets. From a few partially glossed windows faux brown leather office reception chairs dangerously dangled and could crash onto the street at any given time. Jason stood at the entrance to the warehouse, holding two cups of coffee. “This place sure does look like the creepiest job site we have ever worked”, said Jason. Frank nodded and took a sip of coffee and placed it onto a window ledge and then reached into his denim coat pocket for a key to the padlock. And, with a stern look in his eyes, Frank ordered, “Today we have to inspect the structure and start moving some debris out, tomorrow the rest of the crew will come with heavier equipment.” Jason’s eyes almost rolled over thinking how dumb it was to think it really mattered unlocking the padlock because just a few feet away a portion of  metal siding was peeled off the exterior wall. However, Jason knew better and restrained his emotions because it would only stir bad feelings with his macho boss. Frank yanked the brittle deteriorating doors and suddenly both became unhinged, twisted and dropped with a loud bang landing at their feet. They peered upward to see a few wooden ceiling beams had collapsed.  “This building is supposed to be just debri”, Frank gasped. Jason could not believe it, huge wooden spools of cables lined the warehouse floor and at the far end on the second level he spotted a leaded glass enclosed room. “That must be the office, let’s check it out, we can get a better view from that platform”, Frank said. The rotted out wooden stairs were very unstable but Jason volunteered to be first and test its integrity. The antiquated staircase had two platforms and after arriving safely to the first it was Franks turn. Although Frank had a lifetime of experience dodging debri he still took cautious steps, one at a time only to feel the staircase swaying back and forth with each step taken. CRACK! One step collapsed under Franks weight but he was able to recover by balancing most of his weight onto the railing. Upon reaching the platform they both gazed in amazement at the expansive structure. Architecturally beautiful for its industrial days, massive wooden beams formed a linear perspective of pure elegance from the 1800’s. The sun shone a hazy beam of light through the roof-top. Pigeons circled and landed at the other end of the warehouse. “Those F-ing, stinking pigeons made nests inbetween all those iron beams.”, “Now, Terry did not tell me it was a warehouse for old suspension bridge parts. This could be part of the freaking Brooklyn Bridge”, screamed Frank! His voice echoed and bounced off the brick walls that created a massive scattering of  birds.” “Don’t scream too loud Frank, the platform might collapse”, “And, this has to be THE worse job ever case scenario that Terry pulled on us”, Jason whispered. They both decided it was still safe to continue their venture up an iron ladder and onto the next platform leading toward the office.
Oversized, dense spider webs draped the office entry. The wooden door creaked open and to their surprise a few old wooden filing cabinets with matching desks and chairs remained in near perfect condition. Time stood still for many years in this room, even the tops of desks had stacks of papers ready to be filed and a working Remington typewriter. An eerie, unsettling aura filled the toxic air mainly because of all the company portraits that hung on the mold laden cracked plastered walls. Directly in the center of the portraits displayed a photograph that stood out from the rest. It was an extremely angry moustached faced man, dressed in a typical period suit, hair parted down the center and slicked down.   Jason turned and said, “Oh man, this guy is the creepiest. Look at his penetrating eyes, Frank he is following us wherever we move, it seems.”, “I bet he must have owned the business, sorry Frank, but something is not right about his hands being mangled.” In order to gain a better view of the warehouse floor, Jason had to use his leather work glove to remove a thick coating of dust. Both turned their backs to the company portraits in order to glance out the leaded window frame when a distinct number of clicks caught their attention. “Did you hear what I just heard?”, murmured Jason. Frank replied, “Yes, it came from over at that desk with the typewriter.” A frozen tingling sense of fear overcame them that accompanied a natural reaction to panic and dart out the door. But no muscle could be moved.  Instead right before their eyes the gentleman in the portrait appeared in solid form with a grimacing worried smile and quickly faded into thin air. Their paralysis lasted for seconds but it felt like an eternity to the strong men. Suddenly, CRASH! The photograph flew off its holding nail and landed up against the filing cabinets. Picking through the pieces of glass, and overturning the gold leafed, hand carved frame they decided to peel off the thinly worn wood backing. Out fell a yellowed envelope and upon opening it discovered a notepad. Frank flipped through the pages to discover that it was a map of a bridge with hand-written engineering notes. In the introduction was written in elegant script, The Brooklyn Bridge Project.
Jason’s mouth dropped wide open in shocked disbelief. Frank read out loud a notation, “whoever finds this writ shall hold the key to unimaginable wealth!” “I don’t know exactly what we have here Jason, it needs to be studied in detail, so let’s get the hell out of here now!”, Frank said. The office door mysteriously slammed shut, Frank ran to it and grabbed the crystalline door knob. The solid door would not budge so Jason started to kick at it with his work boot. Still the door remained sealed which left the men with only one more option and that was to break the windows. They lifted up the heavy metal typewriter and threw it through the window and climbed over the radiators. It was a frightening experience and the men scrambled for the iron ladder, again Jason went first as it creaked and swayed with the bottom detaching from its brace.  Upon reaching the platform safely, Jason yelled up to Frank, “This is going to be extremely tough  Frank, I hope it can hold your weight!” Jason reached over to a pile of pallets and found a thick rope, attached it to the ladder and tied it to a beam. “This may help some, take your time.”, said Jason. Frank swung over and tightly grasped the iron ladder to make his decent, the upper brackets heaved back and forth, and with a sigh of relief, the rope did its trick. Quickly, Jason started to go down the stairs that swayed even more than ever before. He reached mid-point and the stairs just gave way, hurling Jason like a bouncing rubber band, suspending, darting back and forth over iron beams and spindles of industrial roping. It would not make for a soft landing, only to a pigeon. He clung to the railing screaming until it lodged itself between two wooden posts. Jason precariously positioned his body over the suspended railing. Jason pleaded with Frank, “you have to do something and quick buddy, I will not be able to hang here for a long time.” Frank looked around the platform and spotted the rope that was used to secure the iron ladder. It was long enough and a spools worth of roping. He made a huge thick knot and tossed the end to Jason.  Before he could secure the wooden spindle the iron beams gave way to the wood debris holding it up and Jason plunged down. The wooden spool holding the rope slid towards the edge of the platform and Frank did what he could and even placed his heavy body weight onto the spool to prevent it from moving further. Miraculously, the spool caught the edge of the platform side-wall just right and secured itself. Frank looked over the platform edge and could see Jason dangling, almost lifeless from the rope which he had tied around his waist. Jason looked up at Frank, and smiled and said, “I made it buddy. That was one hell of a staircase!” Jason was able to untie his lifeline and jump to the warehouse ground. Frank was feeling the heat, large beads of sweat dripped down his face. Jason knew it would be a complete embarrassment for macho Frank to call First Responders to save him, therefore, the only decision out of this mess for him was down that rope. Frank decided to make a harness rope, he learned about this process from the First Responders class. At the time he laughed about doing it and vowed that he would never have a need to use it. However, this training class came in handy and Frank was about to make his own primitive harness from a piece of rope and securing a military grade clip from his key chain. “Okay, I am coming down, it should be a breeze”, said Frank. And surprisingly it was, Franks sweat disappeared as he reached to safe ground. They both decided to take the rest of the day off and meet up early the next day at a local diner.
Frank turned his red Mac Truck onto route 206 and all that he could think about was surviving the day and the mysterious contents inside the notepad. That is, until the red Mac Truck dropped. “Shoot!”, said Frank. Yes, he had a blow out and the truck needed to be pulled over to the side of the road for its repair. Luckily he was prepared and had a spare tire on rim ready to go in the back of the truck.  Frank hobbled to the side of the truck, slowly bent down and made the necessary tire change and hopped back up into his cab forgetting the flat tire on the side of the road.
Mitch was travelling to work the next day and spotted the huge tire on the road, decided it was a danger to other vehicles and propped it up against the street sign. And this is how the rusted rimmed tire was found on the side of the road.

This Years Garden Box

I was hoping to be traveling and setting up the garden box at a new location but here it is summer again and still not on the road. I planted summer squash, tomatoes, assorted sunflower mix, lettuces, parsley, mint and peppers. So far there is growth coming up out of the soil and I look forward to this mix in the garden box. A beautiful hanging basket adds color until the seedlings grow up.

gardenbox

Desert On My Mind

I wanted a brownie but all I have is meatballs. Tonight I over fried the meatballs to hard crusted shells. Brownies came to my mind and perhaps it was from a blog that I was reading that somehow left an impression. Now if I only had the proper ingredients and someone out there in culinary land has a recipe that can transform meatballs into brownies I could turn these meat bombs into something sweet!

meatballs

The ACID JAZZ MAN

The Acid Jazz Man
by Elizabeth McLaughlin
Phillipe studied with the best that Paris had to offer. Dodging from night clubs to smoke-filled lounges, sneaking back stage and performing among the greatest. He had the talent of translating everything into cool and in demand by the coolest entertainment personalities globally. Everyone loved his groovy pitch black dyed goatee and fedora green velvet hat. It added to his intoxicating addicting persona. This Thursday afternoon was practice and after catching the red-eye from London to New York City his hometown, Phillipe was preparing for a special jam. His antiquated warehouse roof top sandwiched in-between brick apartment buildings transformed into a well-known hot spot for musicians to gather and gig. A loud horn honked and door alarm buzzed. Phillipe ran across the wooden loft floor to open up the steel framed window and yelled down to his new band to take the freight elevator over to the left and that he would meet them up on the roof top. The group of  disheveled musicians piled out of a renovated dark grey cargo van, grasping black musical instrument cases and headed for the huge rusted freight door. Phillipe finished his lemon plunge martini over lunch while the band unloaded equipment and then headed for a spiral staircase over by his front door and ascended up to the ceiling and swung open a silver aluminum roof top hatch.
There Yvonne da Bomb Bomb greeted him with a long huge wet kiss on the lips and sultry hug. Yvonne da Bomb Bomb was just that a Bomb and known for her smooth vocal tones, tribal linguistics and animal tones to blues, funk and soul. Her afro bounced up and down along with every mechanism a woman would love to achieve developing at a local spa. Yes, Yvonne, capital “Y” for short possessed it all, therefore, her stage name. The “Y” was from Nairobi, Africa and very gifted by ancestry. Aiko another vocalist but from Japan, known as “love child”, smiled and gently tugged on Phillipes ear and whispered something wild but quiet. Lucca shouted over to Phillipe, “hey man when you can break away, show me where to set up the drums, we gotta get this beat going.” Phillipe dislodged his grip on both girls and joyfully flipped his arms upward and said, “man, over by the water tower stage, is where we will be setting up.” Skinny Bean, a clarinet player offered to assist Lucca with the bulky drum set-up. Skinny Bean was known at his home town, London, as Skinny and in the New York City jazz circles, Bean. Hence, the combination suited his physical appearance as well as geographic playing location perfectly. Skinny Bean and Phillipe go back many years meeting at the .famous Blue Note Club in London. Skinnies  parents originated from the Caribbean, he grew up on the ghetto streets and as a young boy would street play for tourist dollars over at Piccadilly Circus. He performed at the best under-ground jazz club caverns where it was quite common for famous musicians to make surprise appearances. Some clubs even closed, its doors but Skinny would never take a closing for granted. Skinny would stand outside the padlocked doors and still perform for undying clubbies and fans, collecting tips all night long until the club reopened under new management.
theacidjazzman
A one two, a one two, three, four, and with a nod of his head Phillipe pursed his narrow lips up to his horn. The rest of the band chimed in as neighboring pigeons began to take roof top flight and circle above the stage. That is until there was an abrupt door slam and out shuffled Pete, late as usual, rolling his keyboards along his side. Phillipe turned and fingered for Pete to come to the stage, “hey man, don’t ever do this to me again or your out.” Pete travelled from New Orleans, Louisiana, and his resume offered a one time musician for the great Elvis Presley. After the Presley experience Las Vegas was usually his gig town but he never fit in with the country band scene and longed to do more free style creative work. Phillipe met Pete while performing at a Las Vegas lounge, found him stooped over a whiskey filled glass and the rest is history. They somehow bonded as musicians do and Pete was offered to show off his stuff and then to play in a new upcoming acid jazz band. It was the break that Pete needed, especially after a turbulent divorce from his wife,  and business associates.  The two girls did a dagger glare stare at Pete as he approached them to set up, side stage. Phillipe once again signaled for a start and the band harmoniously clicked as if apart but one. “Y” – opened up with soothing bird noises and the roof top was transformed with a following of flute, horns, base, and drums.
It became a ritual for the neighborhood and as word got out on the street that a gig was in place., people of all ages began to fill up the roof top with heads bobbing, clapping and break dancing bodies spinning against the polished wooden dance floor. Legs and arms tightened and contorted to the beats. Sweat began to pour from Phillipes face as he blew his horn, thoughts wandered into a different emotional plane that transformed into the perfect blend of music. It was the genre of music, calling him to transform, distort, reach, familiar notes into something quite unique. Notes repeated and then glided off into a higher extreme, the crowd loved it and Phillipe then knew that his band was in the gold. Skinny grabbed the mike, de, bop, de, de de, bop, bop, bop as “Y” wrapped her long legs onto the silo stairs and snaked up to the top of the air conditioning units. In the distance old iron fire escapes offered groupies the perfect balcony view.  Lucca looked up at “Y” and repeatedly sang, “hey babe I’m gonna kiss you tonight, hey babe, hey babe” “Y” pointed down to him and teasingly responded with, “hey babe, who do you think you are, come on over and try.” And then she screeched out a loud leopard noise. Everyone cheered  and laughed while continuing to hold the beat. Then the melody changed very quickly as it first started. The beat changed and so did the vocals,  In a high-pitched voice, Aiko proceeded to anchor the crowd in harmony singing “Sisters, Brothers, we are all together.” Scratching noises were produced from a turntable, as “Y” took to the cowbell. Horns blared in the background. Phillipe yelled, “It’s all about the beat babes, the beat, the beat…” (to be continued)