August 8, 2020

Leypin Selfie Stick/Tripod from Amazon

I was singing for a funeral recently and saw a family member set up a tripod with a phone so she could broadcast the service to friends and family who could not attend. My big question after the ceremony was who made the cell phone stand and where did she get it?

Not surprisingly, she bought the Chinese-made Leypin accessory online from Amazon. I ordered the same thing and the package arrived in two days with the company name Yunteng on the box. Much to my chagrin, the tripod comes disassembled with tiny paper instructions; the parts are plastic and seem very flimsy. Despite those negatives, after some experimentation, I was able to assemble the parts to hold a smart phone for filming. Curiously, I ended up with two extra pieces that I did not use. Another plus is you can fold the tripod and use the holder as a selfie stick.

One note of caution. It was fairly easy to try the bluetooth remote control attached to the tripod to activate my phone’s video-filming. After immediately receiving a SPAM phone call on my iphone, I decided to NEVER use the Bluetooth remote control again.

All in all, I am satisfied with the $25 spent on a gadget that facilitates my ability to make videos and take photos without someone shakily holding the device. Ready for your close-up?

Romanesco Broccoli

I am now a big fan of the chartreuse-colored vegetable called Romanesco Broccoli, a cross between cauliflower and the green stuff Bush #1 did not like. I first encountered this cruciferous vegetable at Whole Foods where the distinctive fractal shape drew my eye.

The dictionary calls the shape of the head a logarithmic spiral. Romanesco Broccoli is no recent hybrid; it’s been grown by the Italians since the 16th century. Whatever it is, Romanesco is a most beautifully architectural vegetable.

The taste is slightly different than either broccoli or cauliflower with a crunchy, delicate nutty flavor. I have tried it raw with dips or steamed it as a side dish; both are delicious. Buon Appetito!

N95 Masks vs. other respirator face masks

I got into a discussion about respirator face masks with bass player Jim Cox and had to do a little layman’s research to better understand what’s what. Health authorities are allowed to recommend foreign masks during health and manufacturing emergencies. The 95 or 99 number refers to the mask’s ability to filter out 95 or 99 percent of viral particles.

Here are some of the respirator face mask models with their region of origin:
N95/N99 – United States
FFP2/FFP3 – Europe
KN95 – China
Special 1st – Korea
P95 – Mexico
P2/P3 – Australia
DS/DL2/DL3 – Japan
I love “buying American,” but could not find any US-made N95s or N99s, so I went with the Chinese-made KN95 purchased online. Thus far, I have been happy with them.

Happy hunting for these masks, especially if you will be in an indoor setting with other people. Outdoors, the pleated paper masks seem to be fine. Homemade or purchased reusable masks are a whole different story. Regardless, the eyes have it.

iPhone SE vs. iPhone Pro Max

Do you get a sinking feeling when your phone fails to keep a charge for very long? Your storage is so full you have to jettison photos, videos and phone messages? Yes, you have hit the timed obsolescence planned by cell phone purveyors. You need a new phone.

I reached that sorry state recently and narrowed my search to two Apple phones, the low and the high, the new SE or the iPhone 11. Price was the immediate difference — the current SE starts at $399; the iPhone 11 begins at $699.

The next point of comparison was the ability to take pictures. The SE has one camera — the iPhone Pro Max has three. The Pro Max gets higher resolution in the front-facing camera and can take better photos in low light. The Pro Max averages multiple images to get the best picture.

Photo taken with iPhone Pro Max at 40 feet.

Another point of comparison is the phone’s size. Some like the 4.7-inch pocket size of the SE, while the myopic might opt for the iPhone 11 Pro Max at 6.1 inches.

You may discern which way I was leaning. Yep, I went for the bigger phone with more bells and whistles. The iPhone Pro Max takes great photos and videos, has outstanding battery life and the larger screen makes it easier to read everything.

Having previously owned an SE, I can attest that it is great value for the money, but if you will be using your phone for a lot of media, you may opt for a version of the iPhone 11.

Photo taken with the iPhone Pro Max at 10 feet

If you can eke a little more use out of your current phone, you may want to wait for the iPhone 12, but the release date is up in the air.

Even though Apple stores are not open, buying a cell phone online or by phone could not be easier, The product comes beautifully packaged and Apple support is all too happy to help you set up your new device.

One final note, I bought a black Apple Silicone Case for my iPhone Pro Max for $29.99. A wise investment since my butterfingers frequently drop this expensive little business investment.

Organic Hibiscus Tea Bags

Just a short note about FGO Organic Hibiscus Tea Bags.

I am always looking for herbal teas that have real flavor without caffeine. FGO boasts being eco-conscious, their product being raw from Egypt. Even the brown paper package containing 100 tea bags seems good for the environment.

The sweet and tart tea made with hibiscus flowers is purported to support digestive health, lower blood pressure and combat chronic inflammation. I drink this delightful tea because it also tastes good.

https://www.amazon.com/Organic-Hibiscus-Eco-Conscious-Lined-Kraft/dp/B07ND51YPC

Caviar and Chow-chow to tickle your taste buds

In my quest to keep my palate amused, I have been experimenting with yet two more new food products, chow-chow and caviar.

When I first saw the term chow-chow in a food column, I thought, what the heck is that? My husband whose mother was from the south informed me it is a Southern condiment which is basically a pickle relish.

Being raised in the Tater Tot Casserole belt of the Midwest, this pickled condiment was unknown to me. I am now enlightened and a fan of chow chow, especially the varieties sold by Mrs. Campbell’s.

The sweet southern version of chow-chow I bought features cabbage, vinegar, sugar and red bell peppers. Other recipes can have red and green tomatoes, carrots, beans, asparagus, cauliflower, peas with some southern varieties being exclusively made with cabbage. Chow-chow may vary according to U.S. regions such as Northern, Southern, Pennsylvania or even Canadian. The name chow-chow may be a nod to the relish’s European origin as “chou” means cabbage in French.

The relish is great with hamburgers, mashed potatoes, hot dogs, fish cakes as well as egg, tuna or chicken salads.

I had a Proust madeleine moment when a memory of my aunt’s caviar pie appetizer dish popped into my head. Doubting whether my local grocery store would carry caviar, I summoned an Amazon page of caviar in glass jars. Sticker shock hit me with many selections being over a hundred dollars. Thankfully, I found a Black Lumpfish caviar product billed as Iceland’s Finest; a mere $22 for three small jars.

Creme fraiche, toast points, hard boiled eggs, finely chopped onions and lemon are some of the traditional accompaniments to caviar, but you can add it to pastas, risottos, soups and sauces as long as you do not cook the delicate fish eggs. You must add caviar as a condiment after the dish is already cooked.

If you are adding alcoholic beverages to your little indulgence, you can serve ice-cold vodka shots, crisp champagne or a dry white wine. Prost and Bon Appetit!