Salmon and Pasta Dinner for One
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John

Total prep & cooking time: 15 minutes.

Ingredients used:

  • Salmon – Kirkland Signature
  • Pasta – From Costco.
  • Basil Pesto – Kirkland Signature.
  • Mixed Vegetable – Kirkland Signature
  • Seasoning (garlic pepper & seasoned pepper) – From Costco.
  • Lemon & Rosemary – From the front yard of my house.

This is one of my favorite quick dinner. It takes so little time, and the meal is fantastic.

I put the pasta in boiling water, microwave the vegetables, and fried the fish – all at the same time.

Fish and vegetables were ready when the pasta was done (about 9 minutes). So the entire cooking time was about 10 minutes. I put them on a pretty plate and enjoyed them. This was an excellent dinner.

This is yet another example of how buying food in bulk benefits single people living alone. Costco is not just for people with big families. Frozen foods and dried pasta last a long time. You buy in bulk and enjoy them for a long time. It’s like… you are almost glad nobody loves you.

The table looks empty. I should have used a placemat.

Corned Beef Round – St. Patrick’s Day
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John

Created March 17, 2017. Updated March 16, 2021.

Top of the morning to you.

I’ve been making a special St. Patrick’s Day dinner since 2013 (9 years as of 2021). I always buy Bill Bailey’s Irish Brand Corned Beef Brisket from Costco. In 2020, they switched from briskets to round cut. Personally, I didn’t notice the difference between brisket and round. I enjoy their brisket (Round) very much. Costco always stocks an extra amount of Corned Beef Rounds from late February to the beginning of March.

The traditional cooking method is slow cooking for 10-12 hours. I set my slow cooker in the morning before I go to work. The dinner would be ready when I come home from work.

Since 2020, Costco also sells pre-cooked Corned Beef Brisket that you can microwave for about 20 minutes. So, if you don’t like to cook, you can microwave. Personally, I prefer slow cook. I enjoy the cooking experience. It looks like the microwave version is gaining popularity. My visitor reported she enjoyed precooked round very much.

Bill Bailey's Corned Beef Round, formerly brisket
March 13, 2021. Bill Bailey’s Corned Beef Round, formerly Brisket, with Cabbage and potatoes

The slow cooking method is simple. I put the meat and water to cover the meat and cook it low for 10-12 hours. I put cabbages in the pot later (last 2 hours or so). And I boil potatoes.

Some people soak the meat in cold water over-night to take the salt out. I think that’s an excellent idea to promote a healthy diet. But that will change the taste that Bill Bailey originally intended. So, I follow the direction on the package.

I like to eat my corned beef brisket (round) with juice. I don’t know how authentic this is, but I like it.

To me, it is frustrating to think that I may never get to eat an authentic home-cooked Irish meal, prepared by real Irish people in the real Irish household. The same goes with real home-cooked Chinese food, real home-cooked Cajun food, real Texas BBQ, authentic soul food, etc… I am very frustrated about this. I wish I can make friends everywhere so I can visit them and enjoy their cooking.

Costco Corned Beef Brisket, Bill Bailey
Brisket
Corned Beef Brisket Costco

3 hot sauces I always keep
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John

My song of the day – Purple Rain. I bought this tape back in the 80’s.

I have 14 bottles of hot sauce. It’s fun to try different hot sauces. To me, it’s an inexpensive activity to get my mind off of what’s going on in the world. I am not a crazy hot sauce guy. I can comfortably enjoy the SHU heat scale of 40,000. This means, I can handle spicy food better than average people, but I am not in the extreme tier.

I don’t need 10 bottles of hot sauce. I only need three. My 3 favorite hot sauces are Tapatio, After Death, and Crystal. Tapatio and After Death have been my favorite for about ten years. Crystal became one of my favorites after my trip to New Orleans.

*SHU (Scoville Heat Units) – measurement heat of chili peppers.

  • Tapatio – Super cheap, super tasty, but not very hot (SHU 3,000). They are made in California, but Mexican folks love it. If you go to authentic Mexican taquerias (restaurants), you are likely to see Tapatios. You will rarely see Valentinas, which is a Mexican counterpart of Tapatio.
  • After Death – It is expensive and hard to find. I will be lucky if I find this online for $10. It has a SHU of 50,000, which is way too hot for me. But I mix this with Tapatio. I’ve been mixing Tapatio and After Death for about ten years, and I really like the taste of that mix. Depends on my mood, I can make a mild or strong mix. Because it’s too hot, one bottle lasts a few years.
  • Crystal – Cheap and not very hot. To me, Crystal is more of spice than hot sauce. Crystal is a true Louisiana product. A few years ago, I visited New Orleans and tried a lot of different food. Everywhere I went I saw a bottle of Crystal on the table. I had such a memorable experience in New Orleans. Since then, I always keep Crystal in my house. I replaced Tabasco with Crystal. I respect Tabasco for its history and taste. But, Tabasco is too expensive for what they offer. Frank’s Red Hot can also replace Tabasco. They all have that vinegary taste. To me, Tabasco is for rich people.

I went to Costco in New Orleans and took a picture of Crystal Hot Sauce (left). New Orleans will always be special to me.

I have some Asian spices as well. But I didn’t include them in this line-up, because these Asian sauces need their own weight class. Fried Chili in Oil is not hot at all. Sriracha comes in a 28 oz jug because we use a shot glass full at a time.

I will talk to you soon. Keep in touch.

I send special love to those who are alone and feeling depressed.

Test Your Kitchen Thermometers
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John

My Thanksgiving Turkey was a disaster due to my faulty kitchen thermometers. I had three digital meat thermometers and all three of them were trash. I tested those thermometers on both ice water and boiling water. All three of them failed miserably.

It was my fault for not testing the thermometers. Now that I look back, I was naive to trust cheap kitchen thermometers without testing them on my own.

Thermometers that I threw out, two Mavericks and one Taylor
I’m not sure if I will ever buy another Taylor or Maverick.

I trashed all my thermometers and bought 3 new ones. I also bought 2 extra probes. They all passed my test. Moving forward, I will use two thermometers with probes at the same time to double-check my progress. When I’m done with cooking, I will use the third thermometer to confirm my work.

And I shall test my thermometers every year, at least 1 month before Thanksgiving Day, rather than 1 day before Thanksgiving, so I will have time to buy a new thermometer if I have to.

To test the kitchen thermometers, I shall…

  • Take the temperature of ice water – Temperature should read almost 32 F (0 C).
  • Take the temperature of boiling water. – It should read 212 F (100 C), or very close to it.

To redeem myself from the Thanksgiving turkey disaster, I baked a Christmas turkey with my new thermometers. Finally, my turkey came out super-fantastic.

New thermometers – all tested.
Makin’ bacon
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John

Yesterday, I had a quick chat about frying bacon with my friend,

Above is my friend’s plate.

Below is my plate, I cook pancakes with butter, so I don’t need additional butter when I eat. I fried eggs in bacon fat. I warm up my syrup.

I think my bacon looked better because they are Costco bacon. I bet her bacon was a cheaper quality brand. Actually, everything on my plate was from Costco (bacon, eggs, syrup, pancake mix, butter… even the pan I cooked with).

That beautiful plate was $1 at a garage sale. It’s from England. I like pretty plates. So does my friend.

Split Pea & Ham Soup Recipe – Kirkland Signature
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John

I make ham dinner for Christmas. New Year’s Day is when I enjoy split pea & ham soup. I make split pea soup with a leftover ham bone. I follow the recipe that comes with the ham.

Except, I do things a little differently. I put less ham. I don’t put salt and pepper. Ham is salty already, and I can always add salt later. When it comes to water, I put just enough amount of water to start. I would add more water as needed. Starting with less water is much better than starting with too much water – because there is no going back if you end up with thin soup. You don’t need to think too much about how much water is needed. You can just eyeball it and add more water as needed. The soup will tell you how much water is needed. 

To make the soup, you have to be the soup.

Also, I put a few bay leaves that are not in the recipe.

The soup was amazingly good. I ate half and put the other half in the freezer.

Split Pea and Ham Soup - Costco Recipe

Kirkland Signature Split Pea & Ham Soup Recipe

Split Pea & Ham Soup recipe

  • 1 (16-oz) pkg. dried green split peas, sorted and rinsed
  • 2 quarts water
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 kirkland Signature Spiral Sliced Ham bone with leftover meat
  • 4 cups cubed ham (or remaining leftovers)
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Place split peas and 2 quarts water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat: reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Drain
  2. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan. Saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil over medium-low heat until tender  – about 10 minutes.
  3. Return the split peas to the saucepan.
  4. Add ham bone, cubed ham, 2 quarts water, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Remove cover and continue simmering until desired thickness, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove ham bone: cut off any remaining beat. Dice meat and return to soup before serving.

Kirkland Signature Spiral Sliced Ham

Leftover turkey from Thanksgiving 2016
Thank you for visiting.
John

Because I live alone, I have to vacuum pack and freeze most of my turkey meat on Thanksgiving night. I vacuum pack them as soon as possible.

I thawed the meat yesterday (July 25, 2017) and took a short time to fix this dish. It was amazingly good.

Turkey from last year