Once upon a time…

once-upon-a-time

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Deleting the AddThis Floating Link Bar – a Solution!

Oh my god…I think I fixed it!

Okay, so here’s the deal…I’ve been trying for a month to get rid of this link bar that floats on the left side of my SimplySmartDinnerPlans (WordPress.org) website….to no avail.

AddMe Floating Links Fix

Searched and searched, and no one seemed to have an answer (but lots of folks had the same problem.)

AddMe Floating Links FixIt wasn’t such a hassle on the desktop version of my page, by totally fubar’d my mobile versions, as the link bar wouldn’t disappear, so no one could read, or more importantly SUBSCRIBE to my site!

(Are you starting to feel my pain?)

Hovering over the “Share” button showed a reference to “AddThis”

Naturally, I deleted every reference to AddThis, and the AddThis plug-in I could find, I changed my cache plug-in, even changed my theme…everything that anyone even remotely suggested might work…nothing did.

Then…today…I was cleaning up and reorganizing some of my widgets, and I didn’t like the way the Facebook Like Box (Jetpack) widget looked in my sidebar, so I opened it up to explore my options.

Look what I found…

AddMe Floating Links Fix

Except…where it says, “Enable Other Social Buttons”, mine was toggled to “Yes”.

I switched it to “No” (because there wasn’t a “Oh, HELL No!” option…) hit “Save”, and then refreshed my page. BOOM – floating link bar GONE!

Opened up my iPhone and iPad and checked the pages from there, and there was my beautiful, unobstructed website in all her glory!

Now, I don’t know if this is THE fix, but I can say that it worked for me, and I hope it does for you as well. Now, I’m off to share this link on about a hundred forums, lol.

Just Perry

PS – Oh, and if this works for you, and you find yourself just dying to show your eternal love and gratitude, please go to my website www.simplysmartdinnerplans.com and sign up for our free weekly dinner plans and recipes. It’s free, and it helps support some great causes! – P

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The Raising of America raises some disturbing issues

The Raising of America

A big thank you to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon for inviting me to the limited screening of The Raising of America, last night in Portland.

I learned a lot…like there are some amazing, big-hearted, forward thinking people out there who are working damn hard to fix some very broken issues in how we. as a country, are investing (or not) in our future generations.

Also learned some frankly disheartening facts about where we stand as a nation in areas like healthcare, education, nutrition, etc.,

Did you know:

31 countries around the world provide a year or more of paid maternity leave. Most of Europe and Central Asia — or 38 of 53 countries — provide at least 26 weeks or more of paid leave.

The United States, we who tout great pride in family values, is the only high-income country that does not offer a paid leave program.

US law requires larger employers and public agencies to provide “up to” 12 weeks of unpaid leave, assuming you’re a full-time employee for at least 1 year. (Parents adopting children receive an average of six weeks, unpaid.)

Our “best case scenario” also assumes you can afford to take 3 months unpaid leave.

Somethings not right…

It’s not about money. We have plenty of money, certainly as much or more than most, if not all, of those other 31 countries.

It’s our focus, not our finances that are f***ed up.

Perhaps it’s time to stop being the planet’s police force and personal line of credit, and spend those billions on US education and healthcare…on saving our own country (ie: let’s get our OWN air-mask on first, before we try to help the guy in the seat next to us with his…)

Perhaps it’s time to stop bailing out ineptly run and hopelessly corrupt businesses and start investing in the future leaders of America. Perhaps it’s time to start really evaluating what our politicians are worth…and then demand that they earn their pay.

Perhaps it’s time to face the hard truth that in some key areas, maybe many key areas, America ain’t “#1” anymore…and fix that.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Just Perry

PS – I DO love it, I’m NOT going to leave it…but I would like to make it better.

Categories: Rants | Tags: | 1 Comment

Moma Dixie’s Hibachi – a project

KushiyakiI love Kushiyaki (Japanese-style skewer grilling), and one thing I’ve always wanted in my outdoor kitchen is an old-school Hibachi (not one of those crappy sheet-metal ones you see on the shelves these days, but the beautiful old cast-iron jobs) so when Moma Dixie told me I could have hers, I was pretty freakin’ happy.

Quick aside: Moma Dixie is Vickie’s mother, my mother-in-law, who’s been in Heaven almost a year, but as she was my mom for almost exactly the same amount of time that my own mom was my mom, and accepted this loud, weird, and often obnoxious guy her daughter brought home eighteen years ago, with open and loving arms…she will always be Moma to me.

‘Nuff said.

Now, just to be clear, Moma was not an “outdoorsy” kinda gal, either in recreation, or cooking (if you knew her, you’re laughing right now.) Smart, funny, a classy sharp-dressing lady of the fifties and sixties, BBQ and grilling were not in Dixie’s wheelhouse. 🙂 This Hibachi was probably owned and used by Vickie’s dad, or maybe her grandfather, and sat in Moma’s shed unused for decades, before I discovered it while dispatching wasps (a whole ‘nuther story.)

Restoring a Hibachi grill

Post shop-vac, it looked a lot worse before. 🙂

Greasy, rusty, and thick with cobwebs…it was love at first sight, which is kinda evocative of how Dixie made me feel, lol. As she had, I saw the potential buried within the mess.

So, all of that to say that, while much of this project is about my love of grilling and restoring a cool grill to its former glory, much more of it is about my love for Dixie, who filled a very special place in my heart.

As you can see, there’s a lot of work to be done (I’ll do you a favor and dispense with the metaphors here) and this post will be the first in a probable five-step process covering surface cleaning, deep cleaning, repairs, “beautification”, and finally of course…grilling.

Let’s get started…

Restoring a Hibachi grillFirst thing, I removed the grill and ash grates (I’m missing one ash grate…if anyone has a lead on one or two of these, you’d be my hero!) and have the interior a good scrub with a wire brush. As you can see above, there’s a ton of baked on gak, and I’m a little scared about what I’ll find underneath.

Hopefully all that crud isn’t the only thing holding it together.

Restoring a Hibachi grillAs you can see, that alone made a huge difference. The interior looks to be very solid, no pitting or major corrosion. The bolts and wing-nuts holding the legs and handles in place are in pretty bad shape and will likely need replacing. That hole to the right of the wing-nuts (below) is one of the air vents, which has some corrosion, but is still functional.

Restoring a Hibachi grillFlipping it over, the bottom is pretty rusty, and you can barely make out the word “Taiwan”. The feet appear to be solid, those they’ll need to be sanded and varnished.

Restoring a Hibachi grillIMG_0436 (800x598)Next, I removed the legs and feet (the screws and wing-nuts will have to be replaced for sure, but I think I’ll need to refurb the leg spacers – upper right in the pic above – as I’m not sure where I would find replacements. Some degreaser and high-heat silver pain should do the trick)

Then I took the wire brush to the bottom and sides, which are in really good condition. You can see the outside view of that air vent (below) and both sliders work perfectly. I’m concerned that I may not be able to get the handles off without damaging them, so we may be doing some taping during the painting process, and again when I sand and varnish them.

Restoring a Hibachi grillThat done (for now) I stated work on the grill grates, which were caked with grease and dirt, but looked to be in good shape.

Restoring a Hibachi grillIMG_0440 (800x598)Brushed and ready for deep cleaning, the grill grates are in excellent shape. The grate handles, like the main handles will be scrubbed, lightly sanded, and varnished to maintain the original color.

IMG_0441 (800x598)On the shopping list now:

  • High heat chrome paint
  • Black stove polish
  • Engine Degreaser
  • New screws, wing-nuts, bolts
  • Wood sandpaper
  • Steel wool
  • Clear lacquer

FYI… When translated into English, “hibachi” means fire bowl. It is a heatproof container designed to hold charcoal.

The use of the Hibachi as a kind of “space heater” is recorded as far back as 785 AD in Japan and China, by the samurai classes and aristocrats but gradually spread among the general population. Adding the grill and using it as a cooking device came centuries later. If you replace the open grills with a flat iron plate, you go from a hibachi to a teppanyaki, another very popular Japanese cooking method (think “Benehanas”.)

Next post: Deep Cleaning!

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Fantasic Customer Service from Amazon.com

Amazon.comI think, much too often, we’re very quick to share a negative customer experience, but don’t shout out the good ones nearly enough.

I do a lot of shopping, both physical and digital with Amazon.com, and I’ve had a snarky comment or two about them in the past.

For the sake of fairness, here’s the transcript from the six-minutes of exceptional customer service I received from their online chat support, today…

(Note the “above and beyond” highlighted in red.)

Sometimes, good stuff happens, too…

JustPerry

My Initial Question: Last summer, I pre-ordered the instant movie, “Chef.” A while later my wallet was stolen and I had to cancel my credit cards. Before my new one arrived, Amazon tried to charge me for the movie and the purchase was declined. Now, when I try to buy the SD movie (with a new card on file), I get an error message telling me that I can’t because I’ve already purchased that title, but I didn’t!

Is there any way to fix this?

Thanks,

Perry

07:30 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Hello. Thank you for contacting Amazon customer service. My name is Vinit. I’ll be glad to help you today. Please give me 2 minutes to check your account details.

07:31 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Thank you!

07:31 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): You’re welcome.

07:32 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MH78URE Please go to the above link and try purchasing the HD copy. Let me know what happens.

07:32 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Okay…

07:32 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Thank you.

07:33 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Will the HD version play on my ipad?

07:33 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Yes Perry . It will also include the SD version as well. Let me know once you place the order.

07:34 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Done!

07:34 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Great! I notice that the order has been generated. I also notice that you have rented this video a while back. Let me issue you a refund for that.

07:34 PM PDT Perry Perkins: Wow. Thank you!

07:34 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): You’re welcome 🙂  I have made the necessary changes. The refund has been issued and now you have the SD and the HD copy in your video library 🙂

07:36 PM PDT Perry Perkins: That’s awesome, thank you so much for your help!

07:36 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): You’re welcome 🙂 Have a great day!

07:36 PM PDT Perry Perkins: You too!

07:36 PM PDT Amazon(Amazon): Thank you. Bye!

Thank you.
Amazon.com
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A fantastic day of fishing with David Johnson’s Guide Service

David Johnson Guide Service

I had a fantastic day of salmon fishing on the Oregon coast with David Johnson’s Guide Service last week.

David Johnson Guide ServiceNow, admittedly, I had a couple of solid advantages in that, one: I spent the day fishing with my best friend, Chef Chris, who in compliance of our grand twenty-five years fishing tradition together caught both more, and much bigger fish that I did (it’s an unspoken understanding that we have) and, two: we’ve had the privilege of knowing David Johnson for almost the same amount of time, back before he was the unspoken authority and premier fishing guide here in the Pacific Northwest.

Our friendship goes all the way back to when he was just that nice kid who fished every single day.

I’m pretty sure that’s a habit he’s maintained during the two and a half decades since, as well. I’ll leave the personal anecdotes for some other time, and try to stick with a straight-up customer review.

First of all, David really goes out of his way to provide an exceptional fishing experience. Bait looking slightly worn? Run a line of over the rocks? Maybe just a little too much (or too little) weight on the line?

Dave is in constant motion making sure that everything is new, fresh and in top shape.

Fishing with David Johnson“Some guys,” David confided, “are really concerned about the overhead and will let clients run bait until it falls off the hook. I don’t do that. I want my clients to catch big fish and lots of ’em, because that’s what brings them back. Saving a couple of dollars by skimping on fresh bait isn’t how you make money in this business.”

What’s his biggest issue with clients?

“It’s getting the guys to keep their rods on the rod holders,” he laughs, “the men always want to hold the fishing rod and them WHAM try to set the hook on the first nibble. You’ll miss at least 90% of your strikes if you don’t wait until a salmon had solidly taken the bait and starts swimming away. Guy’s just wait for that. Listen to your guide, he WANTS you to catch fish ! Leave the rod in the rod holder!”

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the fishing circles of the NW you’ve probably come across David Johnson in magazines, TV or radio. He’s written or been featured in over 50 local and national magazines, hosted half a dozen TV shows and has been a regular guest on Portland and Seattle radio.

With a degree in Fisheries and a life time of fishing the North West and Alaska David knows the ins and outs of salmon, steelhead and sturgeon fishing. (From Dave’s website)

I couldn’t agree more. Although, in all fairness, I probably can’t give David all of the credit for the fact that our ship-mates, Don and Teri, were completely delightful people whom became boon companions by the time the first fish was landed. I’ll just attribute it to the fact that the level of quality service David provides attracts awesome clients, lol!

David Johnson Guide Service4 beautiful silvers and a couple of big Chinooks is a day well spent!

Fishing with David Johnson

David in the middle of the most impressive fillet job I’ve ever seen. Leave a little meat for the stock pot, Dave. Sheesh!

Fishing with David Johnson

              See what I mean?

Follow a fantastic day of fishing with dinner at one of my all-time favorite brew pubs, The Pelican Brewery & Tap Room in Tillamook.

Smoked Cheddar Burger, beer-battered fries, and a Tsunami Stout with good friends old and new…can’t imagine how you could end a day much better than that!

Find out more about scheduling your own amazing trip at David’s website: David Johnson’s Guide Service

-Just Perry

PS – You didn’t think I was going wax poetic about these lovely salmon and not give you some bait to plate ideas, did you?

Here a few of my favorite recipes to go along with those lovely fillets you’re gonna bring home…oh and be sure to subscribe to our blog over at SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com, as I’ll be posting a couple of new recipes there soon, including an amazing salmon chowder, a teriyaki salon collars, and how to make a delicious simple fish stock.

Enjoy!

Dill Salmon with Lemon OrzoSimple Poached Salmon with Lemon-Parsley Orzo

Citrus Poached SalmonCitrus Salmon and Honey Glazed Carrots

Broiled Salmon, Thai Cucumber Basil Salad & Furikaki RiceBroiled Salmon, Thai Cucumber Basil Salad & Furikaki Rice

Oh, and here’s a helpful post to read before you try any of the above…
How to remove salmon pin bones  How to remove pin-bones from salmon

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Microsoft Office “checking for new mail in subscribed folders.”

checking for new mail in subscribed folder

Hey everyone, I had the same problem with Outlook hanging on “Synchronizing subscribed folders” and “checking for new mail in subscribed folders.”

I think I FINALLY found someone who knows the answer!

Apparently (at least in my case), it was that Outlook had my entire folder hierarchy “subscribed” to check for updates every time, instead of just my Inbox, Sent, and Trash (and I had about a hundred other folders!)

Once I “unsubscribed” from all but those three, the problem went away immediately!

It’s not my answer, so I’m not comfortable copying and pasting it, but you can see the step-by-step instructions here. I’ll give you the long URL too, so you can see where you’re going:

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2010-outlook/outlook-2010-synchronizing-subscribed-folders/9b9e35bc-eb3f-40b1-a410-437bc6f0ba98

Hope that helps!

-Just Perry

Perry P. Perkins
Executive Chef
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

Want to take the hassle out of meal planning? Check out our free weekly meal plans and shopping lists! 

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Appreciation Deficiency

mean-peopleHave you noticed that some folks just seem to have a serious “appreciation deficiency?”

These people are the ones who never tip 15% (or, God forbid, more), and never look their waiter/waitress in the eye.

They’re the gal who never says “thank you” when you hold the door for her, or the guys who never let the person buying a single item go ahead of them in the checkout line, and the ones who wouldn’t even think of slowing down to let a car pull in front of them in traffic, or wave if YOU let THEM in.

They’re the ones who stand in your cubicle doorway and complain about co-workers for an hour (then go stand in someone elses cubicle to complain about YOU for an hour…)

And the never, ever, help anyone move.

You know what else I’ve discovered about these people? They’re usually chronically unhappy and mind-numbingly boring to hang around with.

It’s best to love them from a distance, but you don’t want to breathe their air for long.

-Just Perry

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Everybody loves Raymond…except me.

Okfull_episodes_everybody_loves_raymond_212ay, so I started watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” on Amazon Prime.

At first it cracked me up (I like the brother), but I’m in season 4 and now I find myself spending most of each episode screaming at the screen for Debra to divorce that whiny, self-absorbed ass-hat of a husband, send the little thumb-sucker back home to his weaselly, dominating b**** of a mommy, and find a real man.

I don’t think I’m getting the most out of this “comedy”…lol.

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Cook the World Project – Recipe 5: Canada

h

This is our fifth post, as my seven-year old daughter and I continue our journey to cook our way around the world.

Approximately once a week (yes, yes, it’s been awhile), Grace picks a country and we research the food of that nation and pick a traditional dish that we want to try. We shop and cook together, and maybe even work in a side trip to an ethnic market or food-truck, once in a while.

We post our processes, notes, and maybe a brief anecdote, but mostly it’s all about the recipes.

 Last time, we visited The Philippines and cooked up some amazing Chicken Adobo.

fThis week, Gracie headed up to the great white north and chose Canada! After some research on the subject, we landed on one of my favorite street foods…Poutine!

Poutine is a common Canadian dish, originating in Quebec, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds, and can now be found across Canada.

It’s most often sold in small “greasy spoon” type diners and pubs, as well as by roadside fry wagons (commonly known as cabanes à patates, literally “potato shacks”).

The dish originated in rural Quebec, Canada, in the late 1950s.  Montreal hosts a competitive Semaine de la Poutine (Poutine Week) every year in February. Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, and Quebec City similarly hold ‘La Poutine Week’.

Poutine is Acadian slang for mushy mess and is best described as a heart attack in a bowl. Disco Fries, also known as “Elvis Fries,” served in New Jersey and select New York City diners, are made with brown gravy, mozzarella, and heavier steak fries.

e

Traditional Canadian Poutine

2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
20 oz. beef broth
10 oz. chicken broth
Pepper, to taste
2lbs traditional-cut frozen French fries
1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese curds
Fresh ground black pepper

This is the most traditional “Canadian Poutine Gravy” recipe I’ve found. The combination of chicken and beef broth creates the unique flavor I remember from up north! Some versions use a 100% chicken gravy, which I really want to try! I think this will make a great side dish to my dad’s Southern Fried Chicken (and maybe a small dish of lipitor, lol)

dCheese curds are fresh, young cheddar cheese in the natural, random shape and form before being processed into blocks and aged. (Cheddar cheese is typically aged from 60 days to 4 years before being sold.) and are little known in locations without cheese factories because they should ideally be eaten within hours of manufacture.

Their flavor is mild, with about the same firmness as cheese, but with a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a defining characteristic due to air trapped inside the porous material. This “squeak” has been described by the New York Times as sounding like “balloons trying to neck”.

Unlike the aged variety, curds lose their desirable qualities if refrigerated or not eaten for a few days (the squeak disappears and they turn dry and salty).

Feeling adventurous? Wanna make your own? Check out this post!

Okay, back to the recipe…

Directions:

Poutine GravyPrepare the gravy: In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns golden brown.

Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds.

Add the beef and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in the cornstarch and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

Season with pepper. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary, to taste.

Make ahead and re-warm or keep warm until your fries are ready.

Bake fries according to package directions (yes, you can make your own homemade fries, and yes…it’ll almost assuredly taste better.)

When fries are just golden brown, remove from the oven, sprinkle with cheese curds, and return to oven for 3-5 minutes until curds have softened.

b

FYI – that it’s really a traditional step, but I like the cheese a little more gooey.

Remove fries/curds from the oven, top generously with gravy, sprinkle with pepper, and serve immediately.

c

THE EASY & EVEN EASIER VERSION:

If you want to skip the homemade gravy (just promise me you’ll try it from scratch sometime), mix equal parts KFC gravy with low-sodium chicken stock and reduce by half at a low simmer.

If you’re REALLY in a hurry, Wendy’s new version of their fries would work well, too.

Be sure to serve it with a nice tossed salad (then you can at least pretend it’s healthy…lol!)

2

 

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