Monthly Archives: January 2012

Un. Buh. Lievable.

Perhaps you read my post a few weeks back wherein my health insurance provider intended to DOUBLE my monthly premium because of a serious and chronic condition…which I don’t have. And the only way that I could get my premium adjusted back down was to have my medical records, and a letter from my doctor, sent to the underwriters for their review. No promises, of course. But they’d review it. Again. Of course, it was their initial review that had determined that I have a serious and chronic condition in the first place.

Because they are, apparently, morons.

Hopefully, you’ve never had to get a copy of your medical records. They’re yours, and yours for the asking, but in this day and age of HMOs and PPOs and feedlot-style health care providers, you have to find just the right department and pay a small processing fee in order to get them. To obtain a letter written by your doctor should be easier, if he or she has the time, but in my case the doctor in question is a colleague of my usual GP, who was on vacation the day of my visit, and so I was bounced around from office to office until someone figured out who needed to write exactly what on my behalf and then where to send it.

By the time I made all of the phone calls and got all of the paperwork, I’d also applied and been approved for health insurance from a different company. Yay!

Today, I called my “old” provider and requested that my insurance be cancelled, effective immediately. When asked why, I explained that I didn’t like having to jump through all of these hoops to prove that I didn’t have the chronic condition they were accusing me of. The rep apologized, and then informed me that I can’t cancel over the phone. I have to fill out a form. A-ha! More hoops! To speed things up, he can email me the form. Well, that’s a relief! Also, I confirmed that I can return the form via email as well, although the rep seemed astonished that not only do I not personally have a fax machine, but I also haven’t worked in any office with a fax machine in a number of years. Because this isn’t 2001.

A couple of hours later, I received the email. It contained not the form in question, but an attached HTML document which I was instructed to download and open. I did, and was directed to a secure Web page that required me to create a password- and secret-phrase-protected account which I then had to sign in to in order to get to the page where I could finally download the Disenrollment Form. The Disenrollment (is that even a word?) Form which contains precisely zero personal information. Not an address, not a member number. Not even my name. And therefore, requires precisely zero security.

It’s as though they’re BEGGING me to leave.




Filed under doctors and dentists, pet peeves

Why am I up?

Why am I up?

Because I’m sick with a cold, and occasionally awaken because my nose is running or my breathing is labored or I’m coughing. Or any combination/all three.

Because one of my smoke detectors has a sporadic low battery chirp, but I can’t tell which one without getting out of bed and standing in the stairwell, by which point I may as well get the spare batteries and a ladder and change the damn things, but then I’d be AWAKE. The chirp inexplicably stops during daylight hours. This has been going on for three nights.*

Because I’ve never been able to find the switch that turns off my brain, and its chatter is deafening.

Because the ghrey kitteh thinks that my sole purpose is to provide a lumpy surface upon which she may sleep. And she is kind of heavy.

*Since I’m fully awake anyway, I finally did this. Turns out the batteries in the chirping smoke detector test at full strength, so I put them back in. The chirping has stopped, for now.

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Filed under pet peeves, pets

Cookbook Tuesdays: Mirro-Matic Pressure Pan // Stuffed Peppers

Woo! The final in our Mirro Challenge series. (The winner won’t be chosen until tomorrow, so there’s still time to post your recipe review in the comments of that there linked post, hint hint.)

I’ve written about my 1954 Mirro-Matic Pressure Pan before. I’d used it (against modern safety precautions, don’t follow my example) for canning, and when I discovered the Hip Pressure Cooking site, I started using it more frequently for dinner. But I’d spotted a fancy new electric model at Costco, one with digital settings and a timer, and as much as I love Sturdy Old Timey Stuff, I wanted that newfangled Cuisinart jobbie.

Lo and behold, my dad and his wife splurged and got it for me for Christmas! The old one will go into storage for the time being, because I love it so (and it will work even if the power goes out) but the new one gets all the gigs now. I’ve actually only used it twice: to prepare an overdone roast (user error; I’m still a n00b at this) and again last night to steam a giant globe artichoke in a record 10 minutes. TEN. MINUTES. That includes bringing the cooker up to pressure.

I considered posting a recipe from the new Cuisinart guide today, but quite frankly, most of the included recipes are annoyingly fussy and they’re also all written specifically for the fancy electric cooker which might confuse any of you with “regular” pressure cookers. “High” on the Cuisinart is a mere 10psi, so timing is different. Instead, I’ll post a recipe from the trusty 1954 guide by Mirro. I haven’t actually made this one yet, but I do have 6 bell peppers in the fridge which need to be eaten soon or sooner, and a pound of ground buffalo in the freezer. This recipe for Stuffed Green Peppers is the short list! (Click image to enlarge)

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Filed under collections, food, kitchen, life-threatening clutter, vintage

Cookbook Tuesdays: Magical Desserts

If you read last week’s post (and if you didn’t, why not?) then you know that I’m giving away a copy of Magical Desserts with Whip ’n Chill to a random taste-tester of the likely-inedible Banana Tuna Salad.

I still have a hard time typing that out.

Anyway, I thought the prize itself deserved to be shown off with a more in-depth mention than it received last week, so here we go.

Back in the early 1960s, General Foods introduced a product called Whip ’n Chill to their Jell-O brand lineup. Available in chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and lemon flavors, this “deluxe dessert” (instant mousse) mix could be served plain or, with the help of this 44-page recipe booklet from 1965, originally available for 25¢ and the tops from two boxes of Whip ’n Chill, be turned into a number of potentially delightful desserts.

You will learn that Whip ’n Chill is synonymous with versatility because its light creamy texture can be chilled plainly in dessert dishes, sherbet glasses, or pie shells. It can be layered in parfait glasses with fruit, nuts, or whipped cream. It can be frozen in fancy shapes or simply in a freezer tray. It an be turned into a frosting or filling to make a plain layer cake or angel food cake an extravagant delight.

Etcetera, etcetera. For every recipe with an unfortunate or uninspired name like Refrigerator Loaf (ladyfingers, vanilla Whip ’n Chill, peanut brittle) or Applesauce Dessert (vanilla Whip ’n Chill, applesauce, nutmeg), there is an equally magnificent sounding recipe the likes of Heavenly Lemon Cream (lemon Whip ’n Chill, sour cream, lemon zest) or Emerald Créme Pie (too many ingredients to list).

But what really got me interested in this cookbook were the photographs of some of the more fanciful desserts. I’ll leave you now with some images from the book (click to enlarge), and encourage you to try your hand at winning a copy for yourself. No box tops required!

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Filed under collections, food, nostalgia, vintage

Cookbook Challenge: Doing My Part

Okay, folks, I have taken on and completed my portion of last week’s Cookbook Challenge, the long-waiting Ketchup In Dessert from a 1956 ad for Heinz Ketchup.

First, we start off with some tart, green Granny Smith apples.

Apples: both tart and green

We peel them, slice them, and arrange them in a shallow, buttered baking dish.

Next, we mix up some ketchup and lemon juice.

It's organic, baby.

And then, um, pour it over the apples. (NOTE: I’m using a vintage aluminum pie pan because I forgot that you’re not supposed to mix tomatoes and aluminum until after I’d poured and I wasn’t going to dirty an extra baking dish, but there was very little contact and everything survived. Still: do as I say, and not as I do.)

Appetizing, no?

Still with me? Good! Now we mix up some flour/sugar/cinnamon/butter into a fine crumb.


And top the apples with it.

Ketchup: Masked!

Bake bake bake bake…hey, the kitchen smells pretty good!

Looks unassuming, eh?

Time to serve!

Nobody will ever know.

VERDICT: It was actually pretty good. The ketchup adds an interesting flavor note that your guests would be hard-pressed to put their finger on, but is in no way overpowering or, well, ketchup-y. If making this again, I would stir the ketchup thoroughly into the apples before pouring them into the baking dish, to better distribute the color. It’s a bit jarring to see that streak of red just under the crumbs!

Now it’s your turn: A winner will be selected on the 11th! Get on it!


Filed under amusement, food, kitchen, reviews, vintage