Green Potatoes 3: Probably Not The Last Crusade🥔


Well, the replies are starting to come in. While this certainly isn’t an issue as pressing, depraved, or salacious as the lady who put the pee in potato at Walmart that one time, it does seem to resonate with people.

What am I talking about? The story so far:

Also, to prove and share my love for potatoes, check out these recipes:

My post on Nextdoor had some strong opinions in the comments. My favorite implied that like bananas, I should just let the green potatoes ripen. Oops.

First, I wrote back to Alsum:

Hello Christine!  

Thank you so much for your prompt reply!  This was a 5 lb. bag of Russet potatoes, I believed purchased at Aldi via Instacart.  Unfortunately, I disposed of all the packaging.  I cooked the whole bag!  Well, everything that wasn’t green.  It would have been purchased at the Aldi in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania… earlier this week.  I really don’t want a rebate or anything.  I just want to stop getting green potatoes.  Can you imagine if 3 out of every dozen eggs were unusable?  Or 5 slices of every loaf of bread just moldy?  I may have to reach out to Aldi regarding their shipping/storage practices… and Instacart about their selection process.  I am sure you take great pride in your potatoes.  I know how I feel with a back yard garden, and I’m only feeding a family of 4.  You guys must feed millions.  I, really though, am going to reach out every time I get green potatoes, no matter the producer.  We, as a society, can’t afford to not get the most value out of a dollar.  I hope everyone can work together to get perfect produce into our kitchens.

Thank you for your time!

-Eric

And, they wrote back to me:

Hi Eric,

These are unique potato mazes! Thank you for sharing along with where you recently purchased your Alsum 5 lb. russet bag of potatoes. I’m hopeful the hands shopping for your produce through Aldi can be educated to remove from the store shelf any green potatoes to prevent this poor experience going forward. It might be worth the call to bring this to the retailers attention to help everyone have a good potato eating experience and use the bag in full.

As a consumer, I couldn’t agree more we need to stretch our food dollar, and it’s important from farmer to retail grocer to work together to provide a quality product.

We hope you give us another try.

Take care,

Christine

I wrote back once again:

Thank you Christine,

I have reached out to Aldi via web contact form and Facebook, but they are not nearly as quick as you with a response.  I am sure you, like all of us, feel the pressure of stretching a dollar lately.  I will most certainly give Alsum and Aldi (and even Instacart) another try.  Hopefully they can adjust their potato handling process.

Thank you so much for your quick, informative and warm response.  I hope the mazes can bring a smile to your co-workers’ faces!

-Eric

Then, my mass email reached Sterman Masser Potato Farms:

Good Afternoon Eric,

You have a knack for writing, I enjoyed your email!

I am very sorry to hear about the many “green potato’s experiences”  you have had.    This particular purchase does worry me, we have not supplied potatoes to Giant Eagle since Sept. 29, 2022.  So if they are our spuds, they were packed over 9 weeks ago and they would most definitely be green or breaking down.   (We suggest a 4 week shelf life).

You are correct in saying eating green potatoes can be harmful, that is true but only if consumed in very large amounts.  To play it safe, we tell everyone just to peel the green away or just throw it out. 

Do you happen to have the kwik lock (plastic tie) to seal the bag? If so, can you tell me what the 6 digit numbers are?  I am sorry I cannot be of much help on this one, but I would let the produce manager know so he or she can clean out their out of date bags on their produce shelf.

Thank you for your message,

Rachel

That was via webform, so I sent the potato mazes and this:

Hello Rachel,

Thank you for such a quick informative reply!  I hope the attached mazes can entertain you & your co-workers.  I believe I will follow up with Giant Eagle and other local grocers about the green potato issie.  It seems that no potato farms are letting green potatoes out the door, but improper storage may be leading to green toxic tubers.

I must confess I have never put much thought into the choice of brands of potato.  I just go with whatever is on the produce shelf.  I will have to seek out Masser Spuds with intent from now on.  

I don’t believe your product specifically was one that has recently been GOA (green on arrival) or turned quickly once it reached my home.  I had some issues most recently with Alsum.  In a bag of 8 total potatoes, 2 were green and unusable as baked potatoes to go along with the delicious chili that my wife made last week.  It’s delicious because she follows my recipe although taking some unnecessary liberties on portions.  The kids are crazy because they say hers is much much better than mine.  I agree with them, because I may be crazy, but i am not stupid.

I also spotted an entirely green bag of Side Delights potatoes at the aforementioned Giant Eagle yesterday.  It lends credence to the theory that Giant Eagle may need to take more care of their precious potato produce.  A lot of people may not understand.  I posted on social media asking if others had noticed the issue.  On Nextdoor someone suggested that like bananas, I just let them ripen at home. 🤦‍♂️

Sadly though, the problem does not seem limited to any one store or potato farm.  The Alsum bag with one quarter of the bag unusable was just the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.  I feel like for the last 2 years, I have been getting a much greater number of green potatoes from Giant Eagle, Shop ‘n Save, Aldi, Walmart, Target, & even BJ’s Wholesale.  It is usually only with bagged potatoes… not ones that I would pick fresh.  There is the convenience of ordering from Instacart or Target home delivery.  Arguably they should be picking better produce, but it is hard to see the whole bag.  

Potatoes usually don’t last long here before they’re consumed.  We grow our own in the summer, but they cannot fuel our entire consumption.  Our small yard and time available are limiting,

If only Mythbusters was still a thing, perhaps they could tell us how much green potato we could safely consume before it felt like we had one of everything from the Taco Bell menu with a side of possible neurological complications.

Thank you once again for your time, and I do hope you enjoy the mazes.

Thank you!

-Eric

And that’s about it for now, other than some standard auto-replies, like this one from Aldi via Facebook Messenger:

I know you’re absolutely riveted by the saga and glued to the screen with anticipation of a solution to the great green potato crisis. Try the potato mazes while you wait!

🌽Maize Maze, 🦃Turkey Maze, & 🙁August is Falling Maze ✍️


I can’t stop. Ha. I’ve been in a maze mood apparently. Someone complete some of these damn things! Here they are from Instagram.

Mike Duke requested a maize maze.

Thanksgiving is my favorite.

Have you heard about August is Falling? See the Gloom O’ Lantern.

Collage of recent mazes.

Ham, Green Bean, n’ ‘Tater Stew :|: The Recipe


So, I have blogged about it before, but that was more just the method. This time I actually measured stuff. Usually I just eyeball a bag of fresh green beans if they look good. Still don’t have a good name for it. Ham, Green Beans, & Potatoes? Ham , Beans, n’ Taters? Grandma’s Special? Daddy’s Favorite? Is it a soup or a stew? It’s delicious is what it is. I generally make enough to have a stunningly large amount of leftovers. I always try to get the ham bone, this time my son & I each got one. He’s a copycat.

A collage  - Ham, green bean, and potato stew (soup?) in a spoon on the top left, the soup in a bowl on the bottom left, and the whole right side is a screenshot of a text from my daughter with a bowl full of ham cubes... saying that the soup would have been perfect without the green beans or potatoes. 🤦‍♂️
Soup – In the spoon & soup in the bowl – and the post dinner text from my 9yo after she said there were too many beans and potatoes. 🤦‍♂️

Ingredients…

The “to taste” is just a few shakes usually. This recipe doesn’t really need any extra salt, so if I have a salt-free blend like Mrs. Dash or the Aldi equivalent, I use that. The bullion is according to directions, I think I measured it out right. I added too much water this time, but I think this measurement is still right. The beef & chicken bullion cubes and even the beer are completely unnecessary, but I feel like it adds a little to the broth. I use a big stock pot with a lid, and an 8-cup measuring cup for the big stuff.

  1. Put your liquids & spices in the pot, put it on to boil, but don’t quite dime the knob.
  2. Cube your ham, dump it in the pot.
  3. Cube your potatoes (don’t peel them!), dump ’em in the pot.
  4. Snap ends off your beans if you have any sus ones, snap them in to bite-size pieces if you want. Or chop them. Or don’t. Dump ’em in the pot.
  5. Boil for 20 minutes.
  6. Simmer for 20 minutes or even longer if you want. Let it cook down & get tasty.
  7. Don’t taste it too early while it is hot and burn your tongue every time, because I definitely do not do that.
  8. Serving suggestion – Serve it up with homemade bread (or store bought fresh baked) and butter.

Obviously, wash the beans & potatoes first. I think I broke down what you need & more details on the method the first time I wrote about this soup (stew?). I use fresh produce beans most often, but the bags are quick & easy to measure. This is also good with leftover ham from a holiday meal.

I like soups, I make them a lot. Well, I make them sometimes, when I have time. If you like this one, check these out:

Spalding Responds. Sort of.


I mean, at least they pretended to care. My review finally went live on Amazon. Wonder if anyone will find it helpful?

Got this seemingly automatically generated super polite “thanks, but go [fornicate] yourself” email:

Politely worded, no further need for follow up on their end. Bravo.

I also reached out via FB Messenger and DM on Twitter. Got this through Facebook, nothing from Twitter:

Shenanigans abound.

Did anyone actually try this? Assembling a Spalding basketball hoop according to the instructions. 🏀🤬


The kids have shown a commitment to their respective basketball teams over the years, so it was time for a significant upgrade in height and backboard size.

We bought a Spalding Ultimate Hybrid® 60″ Performance Acrylic Portable Basketball Hoop off of Amazon.

So, following is my review that should eventually go live on Amazon. I thought you may get a kick out of it.

🏀 This is a sturdy stylish basketball hoop. It is the described height and backboard size. The delivery was courteous and professional despite the dilapidated box. 🏀

That concludes the positive portion of my review. Putting this together was an exercise in patience & mental fortitude, and I failed. I mean, is it together now? Yes. Did it take much longer than it needed to? Yes. Am I, perhaps, just an idiot that can’t follow instructions? I doubt it, because every piece of furniture or children’s toy that I have purchased from the late 1900′ s to now has involved my dumb☆$$ assembling it. My resume includes, cabinets, beds, desks, dining room sets, shelves, dressers, Batcaves, a Kid Kraft Kitchen, doll furniture, the TMNT lair, Barbie’s dream house, and even an outdoor swingset treehouse thing. I have gotten pretty good. I even build LEGO as a hobby. I can follow instructions. I am quite familiar with my local Harbor Freight and Home Depot stores. I have some power tools and I know how to use them. 🔧🔨🪛🗜🚧

This manual had to have been written by someone that has never seen a basketball, a bolt, a screwdriver, or assembled anything. The frustration therein is compounded by the fact that the packaging was obtuse and the instructions at times were actually absurd.

I’m not even sure where to begin. Most furniture to be assembled has the packaging that directly labels the parts. Maybe stickers, maybe it’s stamped, maybe there is a cardboard backing to a pack numbering or lettering each bolt.

Here, we had none of that. They seemingly came in packs to facilitate the process, labeled 1B, 2B, 3B, etc. The book calls the packs Kit 2, Kit 2, Kit 3, etc. and of course the numbers do not correspond. The first bit that was maddening is that the #60 bolt from the first pack was one of the last bolts used. I found no discernable rhyme or reason to the contents relationship in packaging to each other at some points.

The backboard parts list shows an ¹¹/₆₄ drill bit. We’ll get to that in a bit (𝘱𝘶𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘥).

The list of tools required did include sand, a garden hose, a sawhorse, a “scrap wood board,” and “2 capable adults.” While we won’t pause to question if the authors at Spalding were calling me and my wife tools, I will ask you to note the distinct lack of a drill in the tool list.

The first indication that this whole project was, as the young people say “shady AF,” was the fact that to assemble the main pole, I had to measure and mark 3½” down from the top of 2 of the 3 pieces. There was no pencil, chalk, crayon or Sharpie mentioned in the tool list. OK. I have a pencil & a tape measure. The next step was the head-scratcher. The actual instructions are to jam the tubes together and 𝗯𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 (on top of your scrap of wood) until they’re properly seated at the mark you hopefully measured correctly and marked, perhaps scratching with the drill bit?

I mean, this could have been made exponentially easier and fail-proof by maybe marking it at the factory, or having the joints fitted and maybe lock together with a pin or bolt? I mean, the Christmas tree people have had that figured out since what, the 50’s or 60’s?

Throughout the process, I was repeatedly measuring the bolts… because while it said things like #18 or #12, nothing on the bolt or packaging indicated that number.

After most of the assembly, it was time to attach to board pads/edge guards to the backboard. There were no holes in the frame around the backboard for this. Odd. They did, however, include self-tapping screws and suggested that you try to use a ⁵/₁₆” socket wrench to break though the metal frame. 🤣 Here is the first time a portable drill is mentioned. It doesn’t even note using the inexplicably included drill bit, that conveniently is the exact right size. I know I didn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes there, but I did manage to figure that one out.

The rest of the assemble went as expected. I did get a sawhorse/work bench thing out of the deal from Harbor Freight. I mean, it was in the list, so I 𝘩𝘢𝘥 to get it, right?

I will say I made a layman’s error in building that I had to rectify after the initial assembly. When I attached to lower elevator tubes to the backboard brackets, I neglected to be sure that I had went through the screw-jack, and only went through the sleeve. You can imagine my f̶i̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶l̶a̶u̶g̶h̶t̶e̶r̶ absolute fury at discovering my error. 🤬 This, my friends, was all on me.

At the end, I had to literally use a tape measure to check hoop height. It does indeed go above 10′. I suspect that you expect me to measure the heights of the hoop to match of all the provided poorly-screened stickers and place them neatly on the screw-jack to be displayed by the conveniently placed hole in the sleeve at each of the 6 suggested settings? For what I paid for the hoop… those increments should have been stamped into or printed on the screw jack already. This takes me back to the argument that there is probably a better way to build the main tube for more efficient assembly.

If you, dear potential purchaser, have stayed with me this long, then you are brave, resilient, persistent and you may just be a masochist. If you have read all of this and still add it to your cart without selecting professional assembly, then may whatever higher power you ascribe to have mercy on your soul.

I may even email the address in the manual, and try to reach out directly to Spalding somehow either via email or social media.

I don’t want or need anything, other than for them to re-think their entire process.

Oh well. I am off to play basketball, poorly.

Cargo Shorts: Uniform of the Useful


Recently, while camping at a local Jellystone with the family (awesome for young kids, by the way!), it occurred to me just how awesome cargo shorts are. Luckily I have a fashion sense unfettered by current trends, or perhaps a complete lack thereof. Why are they so vilified?

My cargo shorts were the hero of the day for a Saturday camping adventure.

My shorts in the course of the day, at one point for quite some time, contained all of the following…

  1. Car keys
  2. Cabin key
  3. Wallet
  4. Cell phone
  5. Wife’s cell phone
  6. Wife’s lip balm
  7. 4 golf balls from Putt Putt that we need to return for a refund across the camp.
  8. The contents of one “fossil” mining sluice bag.
  9. The contents of one “gem” mining sluice bag.
  10. Tummy medicine.
  11. Campground map.
  12. Multi-Tool pocket knife thing:
    • Plyers
    • Cutters/Strippers
    • Knife
    • Saw
    • Ruler
    • Phillips-Head Screwdriver
    • Flat-Head screw driver
    • Can-opener
    • Other Can-opener
    • File
  13. Epi-Pen.

Tell me that’s not awesome. See the above FB post from my friend Dave, and the photo of backpack shorts found from the bowels of social media? Perhaps that is the only possible evolution to something more useful. Are you brave enough to try?

So, cargo shorts dad, or just cargo shorts man… you continue being you. Cargo shorts mom or cargo shorts woman? You be you too! Fashion will circle back around. Or not. Who cares? We stand the test of time.

I also wear high-top Chuck Taylor All Stars with shorts, which my wife erroneously and hilariously thinks is a faux pas. I mean, what?

I have also noticed that socks with Crocs is a thing. I got into Crocs almost like I imagine someone succumbs to an addiction. I thought they were dumb. I got some for creek shoes at camp. They were really comfortable. I got some fur-lined ones for slippers at home. I wore the regular ones into the yard to garden. I wear them to cut grass, take out the dog, take out the trash. I wore them for a quick run to Rite Aid. Wore them for a longer run to Giant Eagle. Wore them with socks while gardening or mowing the lawn to keep the dirt from getting in between my toes. Will I be wearing Crocs in socks to the kids’ school and sports activities soon?

Tell me in the comments what you store in your cargo shorts. What should I be keeping in mine? I didn’t even get into how different shades of camo PERFECTLY compliment my band T-shirts and Star Wars or Batman T-shirts.

You probably shouldn’t take fashion advice from a guy with lambchop sideburns anyway.

Smoked BBQ Burgers 🍔


My son & I made some smoked BBQ burgers. Thought I would blog it so I can refer back.

🍔

Used lump charcoal on a side smoker-box attachment on my Char-Griller grill, & a mix of wood chips – some Jack Daniels oak barrel ones and an apple/hickory/oak mix. I just put the chips in a foil tray on that grate, I don’t have a box for the

The burgers were just Ground beef, a few drops of A1, some Rib Rack Honey BBQ sauce, McCormick Grill Mates barbecue seasoning, onion powder, minced garlic, French’s crispy fried onions, & some chopped up slices of Gouda cheese.

Little dude helped prep the starter chimney for the grill, and mix the burgers, make some patties & check the temperature.

Tried to keep it at 250° for about an hour,

went up a few times so we played with the vents to get it right.

Slathered on some BBQ sauce at the end for a little less than 10 minutes.

The buns, which I should do on the propane side of the grill next time…

Melted some butter & garlic in rhe microwave, brushed it on the buns, put them in the oven at 375° on a pan with a roasting rack for a few minutes to toast them… pulled them put and added BBQ sauce to the bottom and a slice of Gouda and some more French’s onions to the top… toasted until the cheese was starting to melt & the onions got a little more toasty.

Not a bad dinner! It tasted like a Rack of ribs on a bun and the burgers were really juicy. It almost tasted like a rack of ribs or some brisket on a bun.

🍔

So, how do you do your burgers on the smoker? I did get advise to sear, but skipped that as they seemed done & pretty together when I checked them. Any special recipes outside of the normal? We do a mushroom and swiss melt with these onions too… sometimes I make a molten cheese ball on the inside… from regular grilling to the counter-top grill. We try to make them different that what you typically get out. I have been known to do pizza or chili cheese burgers too… but we are definitely coming back to these and trying more styles in the smoker. Maybe a bacon/cheddar/jalapeño one next?

Smokin’ Spare Ribs 🍖 (3·2·1 Style)


So, recently I got a smoker attachment for my Char-Griller grill as a gift for Father’s Day. I tried it out today and the results we fantastic. I hit up the Google machine and some non-BBQ-ing Facebook groups for advice, tips, & tricks. (I imagine that they are as intense as guitar groups and I am just not ready yet.) I kept getting advice on the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs. There are many variations of that technique. I think it went well. I tracked my progress with the #AiXeLsyDBBQ hashtag. Maybe I’ll do some more next time.

The quick and dirty of this method is…

  1. Get your coals to 225°-ish. (I used a chimney to avoid lighter fluid and it was awesome.) I added some wood chunks in the chimney, and on top once I spread on the coals. I did not soak the wood, but I may next time. Control the temp with your vents. Open a bit warms it up, closed cools it off… all because of airflow.
  2. Remove the silverskin, and put a nice rub on the ribs. I used one from the section of Walmart by all the grilling stuff.
  3. Put the ribs in the grill part if you have an attachment, or not on the heat for 3 hours.
  4. Pull the ribs out, wrap in heavy duty grilling foil, add some apple cider, apple juice, vinegar, pop, or whatever. I added some Straub. Unfortunately I made 2 racks and used the whole bottle, so I drank one myself.
  5. Put them in for 2 hours, smoking really isn’t necessary at this point if your wanna save your chunks or chips.
  6. Pull them out and unwrap them. I should have saved the drippings for the barbecue sauce on the side, but I did not. Shame on me. Do that.
  7. Sauce those ribs up. Liberally. Like, and obscene amount.
  8. Put them back on for 1 hour. (3-2-1… get it? Guys! They said the thing!)
  9. Always check with a thermometer for done-ness. They should be pretty damn done at this point, arguably overdone.
  10. EAT.

I know fall-off-the-bone isn’t competition style. A bone did pull right out of one rack, but the meat was in tact, not falling completely apart. I know the foil wrapping bit is then steaming not smoking… but, rules are made to be broken and a healthy dose of anarchy warms my little punk rock heart.

I would definitely do the ribs like this again. I may try a homemade sauce. This was pretty basic store-brand stuff from Shop ‘n Save with some dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, and Straub American Amber Lager. I may try different chips, or a smoker box, or to soak the wood. I even read some people eschew charcoal in favor of all wood once the fire is going.

I also threw on some baked potatoes, turkey legs, grilled veggies, and sauce on the attached burner.

Can’t wait to try out a turkey, pork loin, brisket, and whatever else I haven’t thought of. Mac n’ cheese? Jalapeño poppers? Meatloaf? Bacon?

What do you do in the smoker? What are your go to foods? Got any tips & tricks worth sharing? Do you click the tongs twice or three times? Before, during, or after?

Any excuse to drink beer and play with fire all day is a good excuse to me. Plus, the family was awed by my hereto unknown skills with smoked meats.

What music are you playing while you’re grilling or smoking?

This is the full adventure as told via Instagram:

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱 II: The Wrath of Fawn


Damn deer ate my tomatoes.

Think they’ll come back from this, or is it just best to replace?

Also, we planted some swiss chard from my daughter’s school science class, some snap beans, some yellow onions, and garlic. We also had 1 volunteer squash pop up in the yard, and 4 back by the compost pile. Not really sure what they are. I have had some WEIRD hybrid stuff in the past. When you grow multiple varieties they can cross-pollinate and the seeds can make some wacky stuff. They could be that wacky stuff or just pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash or zucchini.

Gorillas in the Mint

Check out the original blog from this year for a nice embedded chart.

Revised Garden Map & Harvest Dates:

Follow my instagram for all the latest stuff, and some other plants around the yard.

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱


This year, I had some big help in the garden! These two have been gardening since they could walk, and I think they’re enjoying it and really getting the hang of it.

The kids have their own YouTube channel now, with a little hep from some old guy that blogs occasionally. Check out their gardening how-to:

I also made a map, and decided to make a chart of the suggested harvest dates on the tags just to see how accurate they are. I have been gardening since I can remember, and don’t know if I ever paid attention to that. We just picked stuff whenever it appeared & ripened.

Garden Map & Harvest Dates 2021

We made sure to get all the tags & try to document it all. The kids are loving math & science, so why not incorporate it into the garden? We can see if the harvest dates noted on the tags are anywhere near when the plants are actually ready.

I’m excited to see how it turns out! And, yeah, we got some more jalapeño since they liked it last year… and this time we’re trying some poblano too!

Whoa, Instagram is a trip down memory lane with these kids and gardening!