Spaghetti special at the Mug!

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The flu has disappeared!

Week 7, 2021

Flu has virtually disappeared from the U.S., with reports coming in at far lower levels than anything seen in decades. February is usually the peak of flu season, with doctors’ offices and hospitals packed with suffering patients. But not this year….

So, what’s going on? What’s the basic cause at work here? Let’s look at some of the primary possibilities;

  1. Excessive hand washing, social distancing along with masks also stopped the flu in its tracks.
  2. Somehow the Covid virus muscled out the flu.
  3. Or, was it a combination of the the previous two choices.

Three doors, just like the game show, to choose from. Hmm. Well, the obvious choice (in my view), would be Door #1 – By making the population completely paranoid and by insisting that everyone avoid everyone else, while stripping their hands of the protection provided by the micro-fauna that protects them via excessive hand washing must have combined with the use of face diapers to the spread…even as the Covid-19 spread pretty darn well on its own.

Very cool if that was the main reason. However, all things come at a cost. Incidents of suicide, depression, anger and persistent feelings of isolation have all gone through the roof. How many died from those causes? Hard to tell… Perhaps they were lumped into the Covid cases…

So, in order to avoid, what is essentially a cold for 98 percent of the population, Americans probably did pay a rather steep price. The question remains. Will we be wearing masks and hiding from one another from here on out? I sure hope not.

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Meatloaf Sandwiches!

After recently having a meatloaf disaster, I began to make plans for a more traditional recipe. In the meantime, I worked my way eating through the old one by making meatloaf sandwiches!

Being a rather simple man with a head full of sand, I like to keep my sandwiches to be rather simple; a couple of slices of white bread, a slab of meatloaf and some mayo.

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A meatloaf miscue! Or, how to make polpettone italiano !

Sometimes, even an experienced cook, such as myself, makes a critical error. This was one of those times!

Meatloaf is a definite comfort food. Easy to make and in terms of a recipe, I used used fairly standard ingredients – See this effort from the past. The only items that were different, on this occasion, was that I used a dash of soy sauce along with a dash of vinegar. In addition, the veggies were also run through a food processor first to help make the various flavors more readily available. As far as technique went, I’d also gotten more loosey goosey with the exact amounts of what goes into each loaf. (I tend to eyeball everything as I go along). Oh, and yes. I used a six quart sized unit, instead of the two quart Crock pot that I normally employ for small loafs.

One other big difference was the unusual mix of meats I used. I had originally decided to use equal amounts of ground beef and pork for this effort, but therein lay my big mistake. As it turned out, the package of ground pork I’d purchased was mislabeled and was actually a package of ground Italian sausage! (For the uninformed, the main difference is that Italian sausage uses fennel as a flavoring agent. You know, that cute little spice that adds just a touch of the taste of licorice)….

Normally I’d have no problem with doing a bit of culinary sperimentazione, when it comes to whipping up a mean meatloaf, but this particular ingredient was just a tad over the top! Fennel. Really?

In the end, I had made myself a standard meatloaf that gave the diner just the barest aftertaste of breakfast sausage. Ahem. Yet, it was definitely edible and so I consumed it with gusto. (I even planned to make up a couple of meatloaf sandwiches using white bread and mayo, and so life went on).

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On the concept of slippage!

In Stephen King’s wonderful novel ‘Black House’ (the second book of a two book Talisman series), he discusses the concept of slippage. A quaint term he used to describe the tendency for people, who desperately want to hold onto at least an ‘illusion of normality’, even when that is no longer possible. Slippage is like standing in the house known as ‘Rose Red’. A dwelling that appears to be OK at first glance but which is, in point of fact, quite insane. Some of us can perceive slippage rather well. Others of us are totally blind to it. Blind that is, until the pressure of forces beyond our control crash down around our heads and thrust us into a new and sometimes disturbing reality.

Here in the United States slippage is going on in full force for those of us with clear and penetrating sight. You can see it in the eyes of the people on the streets around you. No one wants to look too closely at anything anymore. Rather they sidle up to it, preferring a quick glance from the corners of their eyes. After all, a mere glance affords one a good feeling of normality without having to risk the queasiness that might come with true vision . (Something that can be said to be especially valid for some politicians who stumble about the great halls of Congress). Those who regard these individuals, in even just a cursory manner, cannot ever ever see what they are really up to.

Closer to home, I’ve begun to see evidence of ‘things that are not quite right’. Shelves at grocery stores that are no longer filled, apps line the one for McDonald’s online purchases quitting, closed shops, air stations that no longer work. Well, you get the idea.

Yes, even while slippage seems to now be in full force, many of us are still walking the daily walk, never having to deal with or perceive the foul visual stench that has become much of our government….

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Where’s air for you car when you really need it?

Sometimes it’s the little problems that can become very big problems. Such as not being able to add air to a underinflated tire.

Forsyth MO. – One morning, after getting into my Jeep to go drive to a local store, I noticed that a low tire icon had lit up on my dashboard. At the time I wasn’t very concerned as the town where I lived had two air stations; one at a Conoco station and one at a convenience store called Casey’s.

I tried the Casey’s location first, only to find an out of order sign taped over the unit. Then, a trip over to the Conoco station (aka the White Oak) also proved fruitless, as while the unit worked and took $1.50 in quarters, it provided less air pressure than I could have, using just my lungs! Money and time both wasted.

The solution to my problem manifested itself in the form of a local dealership known as The Kar Lot and an auto specialist by the name of David Scobee who is a ‘can do’ and ‘no problem’ sort of professional. The dealership is located at 16099 Hwy 160 Forsyth, MO 65653 and can be reached by calling 417-546-8484 during regular business hours. Please consider giving them a call the next time you need service or if you might be interested in getting yourself a new ride!

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Something dead in bread!

While I was searching for a meal that might fit into some semblance of a modified Paleo Diet aka DanO Diet, I threw together a hamburger on a slice of bread with a side of taters concept.

The ‘fries’, were from a frozen bag of Super Crispy Dipper Fries from a distributor named Westlamb. All in all, it was a great lunchtime repast.

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Spring 2021 weather outlook!

Despite Old Man Winter’s fashionably late arrival, he made a no-holds-barred entrance. And AccuWeather forecasters are warning in the company’s annual spring forecast, released this week, that the winter hits may keep on coming even well into spring for some regions.

It could be a long ride of wintry weather as the official start of spring is still about four weeks away. Astronomical spring officially begins at the equinox, which will occur at 5:37 AM EST on March 20, 2021, and nearly three weeks after the start of meteorological spring, which, year in and year out, starts on the first day of March.

Similar to the winter months, the overall weather pattern across North America will be influenced by a phenomenon known as La Niña. This is a phase during which the water near the equator of the Pacific Ocean is cooler than normal, which, in turn, affects the atmosphere. The effects in the U.S. from La Niña “could create a volatile situation” with an active severe weather season anticipated and more snow chances predicted across the northern tier.

“I agree with the AccuWeather experts,” Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer said during an AccuWeather Network special for Groundhog Day. “It’s going to be a late start to the severe weather season, but it’s going to be incredibly active. I think we’re going to be storm chasing a lot in April and May.”

Above statements were excerpted from www.accuweather.com.

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Crockpot meatloaf!

Asking me if I’d like a meatloaf sandwich would be a lot like asking me if I like money. Yes to both! Making a batch up in the slow cooker can pose some problems, however!
This meatloaf recipe was done, on the fly, as far as the ingredients went. I used what I had on hand, and in the case of bread crumbs, I improvised by using a couple of slices of bread!


First off, here’s the ingredient list:
½ cup diced onion, ¼ cup diced celery and bell pepper, 8 oz can of tomato sauce, ¼ cup of milk, 2 eggs, 1 ½ pounds of ground beef, 2 slices of bread (crumbled), 2 medium potatoes (cut into pieces), 1 slice of bacon, ketchup, salt and pepper to taste.


For this meal, I used a small crock pot that had been in the family for almost forever. I placed it on the counter top and set the heat control to high. Next, I peeled the two potatoes and cut them up into equal pieces so that they would cook at the same rate. These were placed in the bottom of the slow cooker.


On tip of the potatoes was placed two lengths of foil that had been folded into a sort of cross. These were placed over the potatoes, over which another roughly circular piece of foil was also placed. (These make extracting the finished meatloaf from the close confines of the slow cooker a breeze, later on).

I then assembled the ingredients for the meatloaf, itself, in a large glass bowl. Basically, you add everything all at once (less the bacon and ketchup) and then mush it all up! This finished product is pretty wet and is therefore somewhat of a challenge to get into the slow cooker! (I could use less liquid, I guess, but I’ve found that sometimes the quality of the meat loaf can suffer).


Once you do get the mass of meat into the pot, cover it with a strip of bacon to form a cross and then I like to add a little topping of ketchup to seal the deal.


Cook on high for about four hours or low for six. Voila! Dinner is served! (See the You Tube version at http://youtu.be/v37ye_KQBT0 )!

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March! A potentially rough month!

‘March, the third month of the year, was named for the Roman god of war, Mars. … In the early Roman calendar, March (or Martius) was the first month of the calendar year. As March brought the first day of spring with the vernal equinox, it was the start of new beginnings.’

The above factoids exhibit some of the diversity that occurs in the month of March; new beginnings and sometimes chaos. (The chaos being in the number storms that can crop up at any time! The new beginnings symbolized by the arrival of fresh vegetation that benefits from the nitrogen rich melting snow and spring rains).

March is also one of the months that we see the largest increase in sunlight, via increasingly longer days. When combined with increasing temperatures, the likelihood of strong storms also begins to increase. March 20th is the official start of spring and is eagerly awaited by all.

Here, in southwest Missouri, however, some of the signs of spring often occur well before the 20th. Very often, within the first couple of weeks of the month, you might see; garlic grass, Bradford pear trees in blossom, daffodils and crocuses all erupting at the same time! Wow!

This March of the year 2021 should be yet another in a long line of great springs. Get out and enjoy this month whenever you can!

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