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Possum Living, by Tracy
- Sat, 02 Nov 2013 12:50:00 -0600: The Best Cornbread in the World - Possum Living
The best foods were developed by poor folks, making due with what they have available to them. Mexican food, Italian food, Chinese food, Southern barbecue were all developed by salt of the earth types of people, using a few cheap ingredients to create as flavorful a dish as they could manage. Meat, if included, is usually from animals that are either cheap and easy to raise on a small homestead (like pigs and chickens) or wild creatures that are plentiful and easy to trap (like shrimp, crayfish AKA crawfish or crawdads, blue crabs, even sparrows in Mexico). I refer to this kind of food as "peasant food". Most of my favorite foods are peasant foods. And of those, pinto beans and cornbread are one of the absolute best dishes, as well as cheapest.
As an aside, I have noticed that many young people think ramen noodles are a cheap way to eat. They are not. For one thing, you simply cannot subsist on a meal of ramen noodles for very long. It is just not very nutritious. For another, although ramen noodles look cheap when you are looking at a package that costs only ten cents and supposedly serves two, it is really not that cheap. A meal of cornbread and pinto beans is much more nutritious and filling, and can be much cheaper than ramen noodles, depending on the ingredients you use and how you obtain those ingredients. If you have a small homestead and can raise your own beans and corn, and perhaps a couple of hens for eggs, it can be free if you forgo the milk. Or, even if you buy everything and don't scrimp too much, you can buy milk, eggs and dried beans at the grocery store, and either corn meal at the grocery or a 50 pound bag of dry corn at the feed store (currently about $7.50 where I live) and grind it into meal on a $25 Corona mill. Even if you buy cornmeal at the grocery, you spend less overall on your food bill. This is because, as mentioned before, you can't live on ramen noodles alone, not for long. But you can literally live on beans and cornbread, or even beans and corn mush, which is just cornmeal and water, cooked in a skillet.
But enough about that; I promised to share my cornbread recipe. This recipe is not the poorest possible, but it also doesn't have flour or sugar in it. You don't need those things, and the originators of cornbread didn't have them. If they had, they wouldn't have been making cornbread to begin with. So just leave those things out, and give it a try. You will be amazed at how sweet it is, without sugar. I have seen "cornbread" recipes that are made with a mix of 20% cornmeal and 80% flour, and loads of sugar to boot. That is not cornbread, in my opinion. This is:
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup shortening, lard or bacon fat
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the fat to smoking in a 10" cast iron skillet on the stovetop, while mixing the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. When the oil just starts smoking, swirl it around to coat the sides of the skillet, then pour it into the batter and mix it in well. Set the skillet back on the stove, turn off the stovetop, and pour the batter into the skillet. Pouring it into the hot skillet will create a nice crust. Put it in the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges or slices, add real butter, and enjoy.
Actually, this cornbread is so good, you can leave out the butter if you prefer. It is amazingly sweet, even though it is not sweetened.
- Wed, 02 Oct 2013 17:17:00 -0600: Wages Of Fear - Possum Living
Actually, "Sorcerer." But the original French film was called "Le Salaire de la peur," or "The Wages Of Fear" and for some reason I can always remember that, but not "Sorcerer." This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I just read an article about the best movie bug-out vehicles. There were lots of comments from readers, but not one mention of this movie. Someone even mentioned the Batmobile, for crying out loud. But nobody remembered Sorcerer. This movie permanently changed the way I look at trucks.
- Wed, 10 Jul 2013 16:09:00 -0600: Honda Trail 90 Project, Part 5: Lapping The Valves - Possum Living
In this episode I fix one of the three compression leaks that were preventing this engine from running (and had the benefit of making it cheap enough for me to buy it!): the valves. This is also the most daunting of the three since neither of the two valve spring compressors I have tried were able to work on this head. Honda makes a valve spring compressor that works on this and most if not all of their other motorcycles, but the price is well out of my budget. In fact, it costs about as much as I have in the entire bike so far. I was planning to try building my own valve spring compressor, but then I found one that looks like a copy of the Honda part at a price I can afford, especially since I have other Hondas that I will likely need to use it on at some point. It is made in China (like most things nowadays), but it worked just fine.
Here it is, if you need one. I'm pretty sure it works on other makes of bikes, too.
- Thu, 20 Jun 2013 09:24:00 -0600: Honda Trail 90 Project, Part 4: Rolling Chassis - Possum Living
In this installment, my Trail 90 project starts looking like a motorcycle! I install the rear swingarm, wheel, tire, brake, and sprocket assembly. If I had the engine ready and a few associated parts (chain, etc.) I could be riding this thing within an hour or so. Speaking of the engine, I have one that I am doing a top-end rebuild on. It is an original Honda engine from a 1971 model. But the Chinese Lifan clone engines are a siren song that I don't think I'm gonna be able to resist. You can get a brand new engine with carburetor and all associated parts for less money than a comprehensive rebuild on the Honda engine that you already have, and most people who have them say the quality is actually better than the original Honda. There is no question that the performance is better, because the most popular size is 125cc as opposed to the 89cc original Honda. The Lifan is also updated with 12 volt electrics and CDI ignition. So while I am committed to getting the old Honda engine running for the first ride, I will probably buy one of these Lifans as soon as I can find money for it in the budget.
- Thu, 20 Jun 2013 08:48:00 -0600: Honda Trail 90 Project, Part 3 - Possum Living
In this section I complete the front end assembly of my Trail 90 project.
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