Chimichanga Omelettes – a different take on Omelettes

This is one of those things which came to me while lying awake early in the morning, in a “hey, what if…?”, mad-scientist sort of moment.

Sure, they’re not really figure-friendly, but they turned out well…

We had a couple of the store-bought chimichangas left in the freezer, and the more I thought about this, the more interesting it sounded. But before doing these, I checked with my wife, who doesn’t like “unconventional” breakfasts, and she said this sounded good to her. So away we go…

First, I heated/cooked the chimichangas in the microwave according to their package directions, going a little shorter on cook time to make up for the time they’d spend in the pan. Then I put them in a skillet to crisp up the outsides and keep them hot. This skillet will become my “topper” to bake the Omelettes from the top.

A couple eggs and a shot of Ranch for fluffiness..

Into the hot pan that’s had a pat of butter, and the trick of lifting the edges to let the uncooked eggs flow under. Here, we’re ready to cook the top:

And now the one pan on top of the other. This is something I thought of a while ago, for a time-saving and energy-saving technique. You don’t have to have the oven on and waste all that power/gas. Meanwhile in the hot pan, the chimichangas are still crisping. Perfect multitasking…

And the result:

Note how puffy! Now to turn it out onto the plate, and to insert the chimichangas into the middle, as I’m turning them out. This required a bit of fancy dancing with the camera (phone) while this was happening.

And the way it came out:

What would I do different? I used butter in the pan with the chimichangas, thinking that would help make them crispier; it did initially, but the butter soaked in, creating the opposite effect.

Did they turn out well? Oh yeah. This was a breakfast that kept us going all day. I’d recommend a good hot sauce to accompany them. Something not too spicy; so you can enjoy all the flavors here.

Hope you give them a try, and enjoy them as much as we did.


Hazy and Smoky (with photos); and a change I can feel: Rain’s Coming.

This morning, I’ve been enjoying a rare privilege of sitting outside in the sunrise, with a cup of coffee and a dog companion.

The breeze is up; a welcome change from this summer, when all we had were lighter winds that heralded the change from hot to hotter; or from strength-sapping oppressiveness to I’m-glad-it’s not-so-awfully-hot-today.

We had a strong cover of smoke and cloud last night, so we didn’t get very cold; about 58° overnight. This morning we have an East wind of about 10 knots, varying up and down by about 7 knots each way. We have some light ashfall coming from the fires in the Gorge, but nothing like earlier.

The humidity is way down; in the high teens to low 20s. I’ll miss that, but I’m glad to trade it for cooler weather and rains to put out the forest fires.

Locally, the Archer Mountain fire is under control and is being slowly knocked down. This is the fire that is only about ten miles away from us and was raining ashes and blackened evergreen needles everywhere here for a few days.  There was a lot of concern about some of those ashes still being live, but thankfully, no secondary fires.

Now the haze and smoke are almost to the point of being oppressive. Our house is tight, and we’ve kept it closed up, but my poor wife is suffering terrible coughing fits. Out here, my eyes are streaming, and even the light effort of watering the flowerbed brings on coughing.

And right now, we have no health insurance. (This is a post for another time, and I need to let my rage at the Dilbertian COBRA payment system cool a bit before I write about it.)

Back to the weather:
Here are some photos of how things are right now. I’ll start with a few grab shots on my way home yesterday. I-84 is finally, finally, open westbound, meaning that my two-hour drive is finally back to an hour.

On the way home, anyway.

It’s still almost a two-hour drive to work. At about 50 MPH, as we’ll get some slowpoke up in front of about forty cars, someone who is completely oblivious to the line behind. Listen, WSDOT: If you want things to be safer on SR-14 in the Gorge, put up a few signs. I even have the slogan: “Keep a mind for those behind. If you want to go slow and sight-see, please pull over periodically and let everyone by.”

So back to the drive home. Here’s a shot when it was safe to grab one on the I-84 highway. I’ll say up front that camera angles won’t be perfect, as I prefer keeping my attention on my driving, rather than grabbing a snapshot. Visibility was about 2500 feet at this point, but in some places you had to be careful, because it would suddenly go down to 100 feet. You can see a big patch of smoky obscurity coming up:

These photos also show the great curse of automatic cameras: due to software tweaks, they see better than you do. Keep this in mind as you look at these photos. Things are quite a bit more obscure than you see here.


Here’s coming into Cascade Locks. Note how everything looks so deserted. Well, yeah, and smoky.



Crossing The Bridge Of The Gods. You can’t see the far end of the bridge – and it’s not all that long.


Looking East, toward Cascade Locks:


And looking West, toward North Bonneville. Yes, those are streamers of smoke from the forest fires.


Finally, home… And the Ridge is just a looming presence in the haze.



Oh yes, we can’t wait for the rain. It’s been since June 15th.

A Cowboy Version of Eggs in Purgatory

On a recent camping trip, I had the brilliant idea to use up one of the cans of chili in the cupboard – for breakfast!

Combine that with a couple of soft-fried eggs, and you get this “Cowboy” version of Eggs in Purgatory. It was so good that I grabbed the phone and made a quick snapshot:

Here’s all you need for two people:

  • 1 can of Dennison’s Chili (we like Dennison’s because it doesn’t taste ‘tinny’, and it tastes like real chili)
  • 4 eggs

Open the chili and get it heating in a pot. Add about a tablespoon of water to ‘loosen’ it just a bit so it won’t scorch on you while you cook the eggs. Fry the eggs until the white sets, then plate: Chili on the bottom, eggs on top. Toast is up to you; we found we didn’t need it because of the carbs in the chili.

This is a great one because it’s flavorful, and can go together on anything you brought to cook with.

Simple, quick, easy… say Grace and enjoy!

What We Did Before NOAA 

Too often, we take for granted these things which technology has brought us.

You know, it’s great to have a fairly accurate, hour-by-hour forecast; especially in an area of the world where it’s been impossible to have any kind of accuracy in a weather forecast. And look at this, it’s on the phone!

But isn’t it all too easy to take it for granted?

Tonight whilst sitting the sunset, my nose and ears were getting really chilled, and I just knew from old folklore that we were going to get a frost tonight. The sky was clear.

All the things I’ve seen from so many decades of watching the weather, and those bits of folklore passed down from my grandparents say that we will get a hard frost tonight.

I was reminded of those times when we had ‘weathermen’, and not those mere readers of the computerized forecasts from NOAA. The local NBC affiliate tried a new idea instead of the typical scene of having a guy standing in front of a map. I still remember “KING’s Cartooning Weatherman, Bob Hale”. Bob could whip out a finished illustration in the five -to ten minutes they gave him during the evening newscast, and all while going through the area forecasts. Keep in mind, we had several different forecasts that had to be done: The Olympics, Metropolitan Area, Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca,  Costal, and finally Southwest Washington forecasts. Even found an old photo of Bob on set:

First thing to understand here is that I live in the Pacific Northwest; one of the VERY most difficult regions in the world for weather forecasting.

In those older times, there were no such things as satellites. TIROS was launched in the early sixties; an East coast observation satellite. Weather was the most blackest of black arts.

It was easier on the East coast: there were more ships at sea and the Atlantic was more predictable. In the Midwest: you could look at was happening in Canada, and then add a couple of days.

But for us, there were no weather satellites; no photos of cloud formations, no idea of what was coming; other than what was sketchily available from the few barometric and sky observations of a very few offshore mariners.

It had been that way forever. Technology began to creep up on the problem, but all we did was add some sophistication and consistency to observations. Weather balloons began to be used; and in the case of a possible big storm, the big guns of sounding rockets were used.

But no matter how much the technology of those days could be applied, predicting our weather remained one of the hardest things in the world to do accurately. But there were a few whose minds could see and interpret the maps with consistent accuracy; and such insight was a Gift.

In the early seventies, I had a radio show, and I had my best-est of all best friends – Dan, whom I still consider my best friend of all time, on the show, to give his forecasts. In those days, we used terms seldom heard now; things like onshore flow, high or low pressure-induced wind pattern vortexes, and others. The thing is, Dan was right, almost all the time.

I still don’t know how he did it, but he did. And this was before the inception of NOAA and all their sophisticated satellites and computer models. Dan’s amazing mind on my little radio show beat all those TV weather forecasters almost all the time. I need to say this: There is a gift of some things of prescience about weather, and Dan had it.

And tonight, I just wanted to remember and to give credit (albeit delayed) where credit is due.

Thanks, Dan. Thanks for being my best friend.

I don’t know how many others appreciated your gift, but I do. And I wanted to make sure you knew that.

I’m really, REALLY, ready for the winter storms to be over…

Almost a month to the day, I wrote something similar while sitting in the home office and looking out the window.  And here I am today, feeling the same thing.

Thursday through Saturday, we watched an ice storm roll in and cover everything with cold slipperiness. All the windows on the North side of the house were turned into pebble glass, and it began to feel as if we were living an endless scene from Frozen.

Saturday brought enough thawing so that we could at least see out the windows, so the icy claustrophobia began to lift. Weather reports brought hope that perhaps today (Sunday) we might be able to go to church, and then to the store to pick up a few would-be-nice-to-haves.

That’s not happening.

This morning we have heavy snow showers, and as of the time to get up for church, about a half-inch accumulation. Remembering that there’s probably still a layer of ice underneath that, we’re staying put. Again.

Time to finish touching up my resume’ before I send it to some friends for proofing, and to begin to put together my new website. Last time I was out of work, I hand-coded my entire website; let’s see if I can avoid that, this time.

We have lots to be thankful for: the power is on, which means we have water to drink, and the heat is running, so we’re warm. It’s easy to ‘be still and know that God is’ when it’s this quiet inside and outside.

The snow has let up enough for the trees at the edge of the meadow to show themselves a bit. Those deck railings yesterday had 8″ icicles hanging from them:

Okay, I’m ready for the winter storms to be over

Since the second week of December, we’ve been in a continuous cold snap. It’s been a ‘friendly’ kind of chill, easily tolerable; you just dress for it and it’s no problem. It’s when the weather turns harsh that it gets tough to take. You can always stand it for a day or two, because the latest storm will blow itself out. Most nights here on the side of the mountain have been mid-teens to low 20s, days mid-20s. The last few days the temps have almost hit single-digits just before sunup. It’s been so cold the last few days that I’ve had the pellet stove going constantly, to supplement the heat pump and help keep it from using the expensive auxiliary heat.

A pause for a White Christmas note here: None this year, either. I’ve been living in this part of the country for more than 63 years, and I only remember TWO true White Christmases. Usually we get snow, then it’ll melt right before Christmas, and then the day or so after Christmas we get a good bit of snow. That was the story again this year, only that snow is still with us: We still have about 3″ of snow left from the storm that came along just after Christmas, topped by a half inch of hail from a thunderstorm a week or so ago. It makes the driveway just plain treacherous.

Yeah, I’m ready for this to moderate.

Meanwhile, I’m appreciating the beauty of the winter for what it is, trying to “remember not to forget” (as my Mom used to say) to thank God for the ability to see this with my own eyes and experience it in person.  The other night Dara had been running around and cavorting like a puppy in the snow, and I was trying to capture her in the midst of her joy:

Let’s talk about ice storms. This region is famous for them.

A couple weeks ago, we had the worst ice storm I’ve seen up here in 26 years. The evergreens survived just fine (as soon as the sun comes out, they absorb the heat and can shed the ice quickly), but there has been a lot, an awful lot, of broken branches and branchfall from the oaks and alders everywhere around; my one neighbor across the road has lost a lot of wood. You have to stay away from those trees, because they are on deadly hair triggers. The branch can snap and bounce in any direction without any prior indication it’s going to move. Going up to my upper meadow right now is not recommended, as that stuff is invisible overhead, and will snap and fall to the ground without warning. Usually the birches here and there will just bend and do fine, but this time almost every one of them has the top broken out of it. The trailer is parked in the upper meadow, but it’s safe in an open spot much closer to the house.

The winds are what everyone talks about, because the Gorge is famous for its winds. Our winds have been moderate; about 20-25 knots constant, gusts past 45. There have been some nights where we’ve had real wind – it gets so loud in the lee side of the house, it’s as if you’re standing in the middle of the surf at the beach. You actually had to raise your voice to be understood. Last night was one of these. The gusts tend to hit so hard on that lee side of the house, it sounds like a body falling against the outside of the house.

Yesterday morning, the winds had really come up, with intermittent hard snow showers. You can tell the weather is breaking because the winds aren’t maintaining a constant speed, but instead are gusting wildly and then lulling. Gusts were hitting something past 60; they hit and then back off so quickly that my anemometer can’t speed up fast enough to measure them. But you see an 80-year fir out there at the edge of the ravine bending and swaying like a birch and it does give you a little bit of pause.

I’d let Dara out to go do her morning potty and I think she got seriously cold. She came in, got pets for being a good girl, then disappeared. I got to looking around for her, wondering where she went, and here she’d hopped up on the bed next to my wife, with her chin on my wife’s elbow. The expression here says it all: “What…”

We tend to get powder snow here that drifts up quite a bit; the wind is blowing the snow around so much today that it’s like living inside a snow globe.

We’ve been snowed in a few times, but my neighbor a couple houses up is a farmer and tends to get cabin fever. He’ll stand it only so long, then we’ll hear him coming and working the road with his D8 CAT. One time when he was plowing, I took a cup of hot coffee out to him and asked him how the drifts were, up at his place (he’s a little more exposed than we are) and he said that although he’d had the CAT plugged in, he’d had to shovel out the cab of it so he could find the seat to sit down and uncover the dash so he could get it started. That’s a drift of roughly eight feet deep.

Back to the present. Our weather is supposed to finally moderate, and get into the mid-30s. That would be a relief, if for nothing more than to be able to walk around outside without fear of falling. But we are supposed to go through an ice storm first. And late last night, the predicted ice storm hit. This morning, all the windows on the North side (the Ravine side) of the house are iced over. All the glass looks like that pebble glass that’s used in bathroom windows which lets in light but preserves modesty. It can give you a touch of claustrophobia if you think about it a bit too much.

Yeah, I’m ready for this to moderate.

First Snow on the Ridge

It’s been cloudy and cold on the side of the mountain lately; and thanks to the time change, it’s dark when I get home. The Ridge to our North has been hidden behind cloud and invisible in the darkness, but this morning, it was as if God hooked his thumb under the edge of that blanket of cloud – and lifted it just for a few moments, saying, “Take a look at this, child.”

There was the peak, with a mantle of snow. First time this season. The speed at which the clouds were moving told me that I had mere seconds to grab this shot. I grabbed the closest thing that could make a picture and …

Here we are.

Our local peaks are visible between the two big trees, and to the right of the fuller large tree.

Ain’t you amazing, Lord? What else do you have in store today? May my eyes be open to see.