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Microwave vs. Toaster-Oven

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Wow, it’s been awhile since I wrote on my personal blog.  I guess this is just a rare period when I don’t have much to say!:)  But I did want to vent about microwaves today.

I remember when our family got our first microwave.  It was sometime in the early 80s and it was the size of a large television.  With it came a hardcover cookbook of microwave recipes with scrumptious formulations for everything from steaks and chops to casseroles and desserts. As a teenager I regaled my family on more than one occasion with creative items like microwaved twice-baked potatoes and nuked soups.  Once the novelty wore off the microwave became more of a “zapper” than a cooker, I’ve used the microwave to heat frozen meals and reheat leftovers ever since.  But our microwave went on the blink over the weekend so I’ve been forced to make do with the toaster oven. And, you know what? The toaster oven food tastes a ton better!  I heated a veggie corn dog (basically the same as a corn dog, just a veggie dog in the middle) in the toaster oven this morning and the breading was so crisp and flavorful compared to the dully, soggy version in the microwave.  I’ve found the same result with other foods.  Now when we do get a replacement microwave, it’s going to be weighing sheer speed versus flavor, but it really didn’t take that much longer to cook in the toaster oven. Of course I could use the regular oven for these same things also and I am sure the result would be the same the toaster oven.  Is there anyone else who has sort of sworn off the microwave?  How is life without it?Image

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Two Newspaper Towns – Which Ones Are Left?

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I ran a post on The Amish Cook site today about the Amish settlement in Clark, Missouri.  In that post I linked to a story in the Columbia Missourian newspaper.  What makes that newspaper unusual?  Well, it is a student-run daily newspaper published by the University of Missouri. But it’s not just any student paper, it’s truly a full-service daily that serves not just the campus community but the whole surrounding area.  That means it butts heads against the main city paper the Daily Tribune which in effect  makes Columbia a two-newspaper town, a real rarity in today’s world.  When I began in the newspaper business back in 1991 the list of cities with two papers was dwindling even then, but many were still hanging on…some examples:

1)  Muncie, Indiana still had two dailies…The Muncie Star and The Muncie Evening Press.  By then the Evening Press was in its dying days and looked it, but it hung on until the mid-90s before finally folding.

2)  Cincinnati….In 1991 the Cincinnati Post was still a scrappy competitor to The Cincinnati Enquirer.  When The Post picked up The Amish Cook I was excited.  At the time you could buy The Post each day within a 50 mile radius of the city of Cincinnati, they were a worthy competitor of the Enquirer.  But gradually the Post began withering away and by the time it ceased publication in 2007 it had become a sad shadow of its former self.

And there were still plenty of other cities back in 1991 that had two papers: Tulsa, Tuscon, Indianapolis, Norfolk. El Paso, and Pittsburgh to name just a few.  But as the internet began its ascension, the fragile few began to fold.

Today, besides Columbia I can name only a few places that still have two daily newspapers.  Obviously the big cities like New York, Chicago, and Boston hang on with two or more, but so do some other more unlikely places:  Fort Wayne, Indiana.  I’m not sure how a city smaller than Dayton, Ohio still hangs on with two, but the Journal Gazette and News-Sentinel do battle daily (they are able to because of what is called a Joint Operating Agreement,but that’s a whole different post).  York, Pennsylvania still hangs on with two dailies.   Probably the most bizarre case of a two-newspaper town remaining that I can find: Crawfordsville, Indiana. With a population barely registering 15,000…two daily papers still publish. Wow!

Did your hometown have two daily newspapers? Or does it still?  Does the demise of the newspaper in general make you upset or are there enough other news sources out there that it really doesn’t matter?

Cumulonimbus Cloud

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Sure sign of a thunderstorm in the vicinity is to look for the tell-tale “anvil top” shape of the clouds.  You see an anvil top and that pretty much means there’s a storm under it. In meteorological parlance, this cloud is called a cumulonimbus cloud. We need the rain so I wish we had been under this cloud.  This is a photo of a cumulonimbus cloud as seen from Middletown, Ohio facing east on the evening of July 5.  Anyone reading this who lives near Waynesville or Harveysburg, Ohio was probably getting drenched and zapped by lightning.  While the storm appears close in the photo, weather radar confirmed it was actually about 30 miles away.  This perfectly formed anvil top cloud was getting a rosy blush from the setting sun.

Grocery Stores, I Miss the Old Days….

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My city has, in my opinion, too many grocery stores for its size.  We have a Meijer (a regional chain), Kroger (a national behemoth), Wal-Mart, a couple Save-A-Lots, an Aldi’s, a Marsh (regional chain), and a local independent store.  These are all full-service groceries and that just seems like too many for a city of 30,000 people.  Rachel and I usually shop at Kroger, although my loyalties still lie with the local Mom & Pop independent (Dillman’s).  IGA used to have two stores in town but those shuttered long ago. Do you still have an IGA in your town?

I think the demise of the independent stores is sad.  They’ve tried to compete.  In northern Kentucky a decade or so ago IGA made a spirited stand opening IGA-PLUS with a bank, dry cleaner, and massive grocery store under one roof. But they still couldn’t compete with the buying power of a national giant.

I thought a grocery store poll would be

would be fun.  Where do you shop?  And are you saddened by the demise of the neighborhood grocery, where the butcher knew you by name and the the baggers carried your groceries to the car?

The poll was tough to narrow down to 10 or so names because there are so many.  I put “other” as an option.  Giant is a great chain in the east, as is Weiss Markets, Sweet Bay in Florida, TOP Foods in Washington State…the more local the chain, the more I like them!:)