Wavelengths 

Tiffany stained glass window at Chicago Navy Pier

My microwave died and went to appliance heaven. 

Well. More like fell apart. 

The door plastic started cracking and then the tempered glass front exploded all over the kitchen one evening as I was about to heat up water for tea. Freaked the kids out. Personally, I thought it was super cool. Did you know tempered glass can still pop and explode even as the pieces are lying on the floor? 

It might seem like a simple thing to fix, right? Just order a new door. Except they no longer make this model of microwave. There is no door replacement. We will need to replace the whole dang unit.

However, this is not a microwave that sits on the countertop. Oh, no. It is mounted under a cabinet over the stove/oven and also serves as the stovetop ventilation unit. Apparently, it is also hard wired in, meaning there is no plug to unplug. Getting someone to take this out and install a new one when it is hardwired in is no small feat as it turns out. 

So, for a number of weeks I have been forced to go without a microwave. 

And you know what? It has not been the end of the world. 

In fact, I have found that I prefer heating things up in my toaster oven. Reheated bacon is crispier. Pizza is heated evenly. Corn dogs are yummier. Left over scones taste like the first day they were made. Tea? There is something nice about a whistling tea kettle as opposed to a microwave ding and I swear the tea actually tastes better steeped in water from my kettle. 

The other thing I have found? The couple of extra minutes it takes to use those other methods? They don’t really make a difference in my life. Schedules have not come crumbling down. We have not run late, we haven’t had to make cuts elsewhere. 

Never would I ever have believed I would ever say this: I can live just fine without a microwave. Not only can I live without a microwave, I now choose not to have one. 

That is incredibly liberating.

Makes me wonder what else I can live without…

Behind The Scenes

Gnomes in Switzerland

WordPress reminded me yesterday that I have been blogging for three years. Three whole frickin’ years. 

How the HELL did that happen, anyway?

I thought it might be fun to talk about the reality of what three years actually means here at Behind the White Coat:

5,060-ish people “follow” this blog as of this writing. When I wake up tomorrow it might be a few more or a few less. This number is meaningless, though, trust me. 

I average about 300 hits on my blog per day. That’s right. Sometimes less, like when I don’t post for a few days, and sometimes more. WordPress has changed how it calculates hits so many times that I don’t really know what that means anymore. I might get more traffic if I were on Facebook or Twitter or other social media platforms but honestly, I just don’t have that kind of energy. 

This post will be #865. That is a whole helluva lot of hot air. Some of it I am proud of. Some is painfully, woefully laughable. Some just flat out sucks. I have bared much of my soul here. Bless all of you who have taken the time to read anything I post. I appreciate all of you more than you could know.

Each day I spend between 2-3 hours reading other blogs and answering comments. Over three years that is an awful lot of time. Fortunately I don’t have any other serious hobbies right now. Anyone who tells you blogging is easy is either lying to you or selling something like SEO whatama-ever-thingamajigs (I have no idea what that really means, anyway, do you?).

I was Freshly Pressed in 2015 and featured on Discover WordPress in 2016. Those were huge honors but I found that they made me nervous. I don’t really want to become famous after all. That surprised me. When I started blogging I had delusions of grandeur. I was gonna be the biggest thing since KevinMD. Ha! Not my goal anymore. What is my goal? Having fun, making connections, and learning something new.

For 2016 I had a total of 112,879 page views and 27,416 visitors. The most viewed post was Black and White and Blurry All Over but not because it was some amazing piece of writing. It just happened to go up the day I was featured on Discover WordPress purely by accident. I got lots of hateful comments left by plenty of scary people on that one. 

Which brings me to the fact that I have had my fair share of trolls. The really psycho ones can be pretty scary until you figure them out…. They all have the same agenda, though, no matter who they are. It is best to just ignore that they even exist. 

In truth, I follow 1, 957 blogs. Only a small fraction of those still actually do any posting. This makes me sad. We have lost some fantastic bloggers over the years. Some left due to time constraints, intimidation, boredom… death. I hate to unfollow anyone, afraid I’ll miss their comeback post someday. 

Me, though? 

I’m not going anywhere anytime soon….

The Deviled Inside

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What food do you love the most at Thanksgiving or Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter? What do you look forward to being on the table? 

I don’t really care for turkey or dressing. Or congealed cranberry “sauce” from a can. Green bean casserole? Ick. My personal favorite holiday food is deviled eggs. In fact, I ran an extra four miles this morning just so I could eat 4-5 eggs and not feel guilty about it. Oh, who am I kidding? I will probably try to eat six or more…. Of course, I have to sneak them. Most people judge you for openly putting that many deviled eggs on your plate.

For my international readers who may not know what deviled eggs are exactly, they are hard boiled eggs that are shelled and cut into halves. The yolks are popped out and mashed with mustard and mayonnaise, some salt and pepper, and then piped back into the egg halves. They are then topped with a dash of paprika and a slice of pimento stuffed green olive.

Mmmmmmm…..

There are countless variations out there. Some with bacon. Capers. Dijon. Schiracha. I haven’t met a single one I didn’t like. 

I first discovered deviled eggs when I was a kid. Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house, to be more precise. She would boil up about three dozen eggs and assemble several platters of deviled eggs, one for the elder adult table, one for the lesser adult table, and one for each of the kids tables. Fortunately, the kids at my kids table hated deviled eggs. More for me….

Here’s the thing, though. The eggs are hard work. I would much rather make a key lime pie with a homemade graham cracker crust and fresh squeezed lime juice from dozens of those teeny, tiny limes without the help of a juicer or garlic press, my finders bloodied from trying to get a tablespoon of zest off of the awkward rinds, than make deviled eggs.* 

Why do I love something so much and yet hate to make it? Dunno, but there it is. Probably a good thing because honestly, I cannot control myself. Twice a year, if I am lucky, I can get my fill.

So, what are YOU eating today?

*I made a key lime pie once and I promise you it will not happen again!

Squashed

wooden bridge in a forest

One of the things that I love about fall is the food. Particularly, winter squash but more specifically butternut squash tossed in a bit of olive oil, dusted with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, and roasted until the edges are golden….

Delicious.

Generally speaking, though, I am lazy when it comes to prepping winter squash so I don’t eat it often.

I was home with my kids yesterday since school was out so we went to the grocery store to stock up for the week. As it turns out they now have cubed butternut squash in containers ready for your cooking sheet. I jumped for joy right there in the produce section. Then I looked at the price. $4.95 for a container with approximately two cups of raw cubes. 

My breath caught. 

Dang. That’s pricey.

Still. I really wanted some roasted butternut squash. But for that much? I hesitated for a moment but still plunked a couple of containers in my cart. 

Then I made my way through the rest of the produce section. At the end of an aisle was the butternut squash. The whole squashes. For less than one of those containers. That would make what, 8-10 cups? The frugal angel that sits on my shoulder won out.

Alright, I decided. I have a sharp knife. I can make cheese. I bake my own bread. I make my own humus and pesto. I make and can my own jelly and so far no one has died from it, knock on wood. Why am I letting a tasty squash get to me? I can DO this! 

Well let me tell you… that was some work.

I spent almost two frickin’ hours peeling and dicing that thing. My hands are still cramping. The force required to cut through the flesh is such that if you slip up, it isn’t going to be a simple cut finger you end up with. Oh, no. It will be a full on amputation. 

What I want to know is why we can genetically engineer maroon carrots and clone sheep but we cannot make a more friendly butternut squash.

It was worth it, though…

Tributary

bright uellow gerber daisy

There are exceptional people you can come across in life if you are lucky, people who make you feel like a better version of you. Smarter. Prettier. Kinder. More patient. 

Not empty flattery. No. They have a knack for finding the gem of you and making you sparkle and shine.

I have been blessed to find a few of these people in my lifetime. Paul Curran was one of those. I looked forward to his comments for that very selfish reason. He made me feel better about me.

I realize that he was a virtual friend, someone I never met, but what I feel now is a very real sense of grief and sadness. Strangely that is made worse by the fact that I can find no obituary, no mark of his passing except for the deafening silence that exists now on my blog and on many others. 

I want to fill up that emptiness. I want to shout out to the world, to his physical friends, to his family: I KNEW PAUL CURRAN. He was my friend. He existed. He was a priceless member of the human race. He touched many lives. He made a difference. He mattered.

Just as I hope someone will say about me when I am gone.

Risen (As In Sourdough)

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I had a request for my sourdough cinnamon roll recipe. I have worked on perfecting this for years, though truthfully it has taken years because I only make them only 1-2 times a year. I am not gonna lie, they are an awful lot of work. However, I can safely say they are the best damn sourdough cinnamon rolls you will ever bless your mouth with. 

Victo’s Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients for the dough:

1 1/2 c fed sourdough starter
2/3 c whole milk 
2 Tbsp granulated sugar 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp butter, melted 
1 tsp salt
2-3 c unbleached white bread flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Ingredients for the filling:

3 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 c coarse sugar like turbinado
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts), optional

Ingredients for the glaze:

1/2 c confectioner’s (powdered) sugar 
1-2 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

You want to start at maybe 2PM m-ish the day before. In a large bowl mix together sourdough starter, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, melted butter, salt, and 2 c of flour. Knead this together to form a rather sticky dough. Add up to 1 c more flour if the dough is not holding together into a ball. Do not add too much flour or the rolls will be too dense.

Once the dough is homogeneous (that magical consistency that takes maybe ten minutes of kneading), sprinkle in the baking soda and make sure it is thoroughly incorporated. Roll the dough into a ball and place it in the bottom of a greased bowl. Turn once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in a warm area to rise. 

This first rise should double the dough and can take 2-3 hours. Longer if it is cold, quicker if it is warmer.

When risen, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it a few times to get rid of bubbles. Then roll the dough into a rectangle measuring roughly 9″ x 18″.

Brush the rolled dough with the melted butter, and sprinkle the entire surface with coarse sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. Make sure you cover the rectangle end to end to make sure the end pieces get filling too.

Starting on one of the long sides of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log. Using thread or dental floss (NOT the mint flavored kind) cut rounds off of the log, and place them into a buttered 9×13 pyrex casserole dish. I usually cut 12-15 rolls.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hrs, then place in the fridge overnight. An hour or two before baking, remove from the fridge and let sit at room temperature until they are about double in size from when you first made them (it will rise some in the fridge overnight so it may not have far to go). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the tops just begin to brown. Don’t undercook them, though… that’s just gross. 

Mix up the glaze and drizzle over the tops of the rolls once they come out of the oven. Serve warm. 

If you are brave enough to try to make them, tell me how it went!