BBQ Pizza

This is one of the medic’s favourite barbeque meals that I make and has become the only way we make pizza in our house! It’s a little bit of a pain in the ass getting started and don’t be surprised if you screw it up the first few times (pro-tip: start with individual pizzas first, they’re easier to handle).

Fresh pizza dough (make your own or buy from the bakery section)
Pizza sauce of choice (we love Unico garlic and basil)
Dried oregano to taste
Your favourite pizza toppings
Olive oil
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Flour

Our toppings of choice are usually pepperoni, red onion and mushrooms. I also really like using barbequed chicken and barbeque sauce instead of pepperoni and pizza sauce, with the mushrooms and onion.

Start by flouring your counter and rolling out the pizza dough. This part is one of my least favourite parts. Trying to get the dough to stretch out into a nice, relatively symmetrical (I’m OCD like that) rectangle makes me want to throttle someone so sometimes I give up and go back to it after shredding the cheese or whatever. Once your dough is stretched, transfer it to a cookie sheet or big cutting board and set aside.

Through trial and error, I’ve discovered that I prefer to sautée my veggies prior to putting them on the pizza because the BBQ is really only capable of warming then through, not cooking them.

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Assemble all your ingredients (toppings, shredded mozzarella, sauce, oregano and dough) somewhere close to your barbeque and pour a little oil into a bowl or mug.

If your barbeque has a removable upper rack, take it out and then heat the barbeque to medium. Once the grill is warm, take some folded up paper towel and dip it in your oil. Holding the paper towel with barbeque tongs, oil the grate of the barbeque (be careful of flare ups! Don’t soak the paper towel in oil and have water nearby just in case).

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The next part is a two person job if you’re doing one big pizza as opposed to a few individual sized ones: transfer the dough to the grill (a real son of a bitch sometimes). I find it easiest to have my assistant hold the tray with the dough close to the grill and then I just kind of pick the dough up and throw it on the grill really quickly (before it has a chance to tear). Once the dough is on the grill you have about one minute to try and tug it into a shape you’re happy with, then just shut the lid and wait!

Dough likes to do this when you cook it on the barbeque:

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You can pop the bubbles if you want but it doesn’t really matter. Once the dough starts to get some grill marks and colour, turn it 180 degrees (if your barbeque is big enough, otherwise, turn it as much as you can). Close the lid and let it continue cooking. Once the bottom is fully cooked, pull the dough off the grill, flip it cooked side up on your pan and turn the grill down to low.

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Top your pizza with sauce, and sprinkle with oregano to taste, then add your veggies, cheese and meat.

Again with two people (or super carefully by yourself), transfer the now topped pizza back to the grill (oiled or not, it generally won’t stick and half the time I forget to oil it before putting the pizza back on). Close the lid and let the pizza cook. Keep checking on it and when you start to get grill marks, turn the pizza. It’s done when the dough is cooked through and your cheese is all melty 🙂

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– J.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Okay so I know I promised a chocolate covered strawberry cupcake tutorial but about halfway through making them, I stopped taking pictures because it was such a tedious process between picture taking and baking (talk about labour intensive cupcakes…I’ve realized there’s a reason I normally used boxed mix and pre-made frosting )! There was a moment of panic about ten minutes into whipping the meringue and butter where I thought it would never curdle and turn all frosting-y but it happened in the end! They did turn out amazingly, so maybe I’ll blog them some other time:

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I pretty well followed the original recipe, just drizzling the chocolate instead of dunking the cupcakes. I also doubled the cupcake and icing recipe…and made enough buttercream to frost my house…So if anyone has any ideas for four cups of frozen strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream (other than being a fat kid and eating it with a spoon), let me know!

Try them out for yourself (but they are labour intensive…they took me about three and a half hours!): http://what2cook.net/2013/05/18/chocolate-covered-strawberry-hi-hat-cupcakes/

On to today’s post: Sasuage Stuffed Mushrooms! The medic (my husband) and I are trying to get into a more healthy lifestyle, with healthier foods and more exercise so I changed this recipe up a little to make it somewhat more figure friendly than the original.

6-8 large portobello mushrooms; stems and gills removed

454g Italian sausage (I used pork but for an even healthier switch use chicken or turkey)

1/2 – 3/4c old fashioned oats; pulsed in a food processor

1/2 c chopped spinach, defrosted

4 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

225g light cream cheese (one package of the non-spreadable stuff)

juice of one lemon

1/4 c (ish) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

1/2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F.

Remove stems from mushroom caps and set aside, scrape out gills with a spoon (the fresher the mushrooms, the easier this step is). Place the caps, scraped side up on a tinfoil coated & cooking spray covered baking sheet:

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Remove the casing from your sausages, breaking up into small pieces and brown in a pan with the olive oil:

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Once your sausage is cooked through, drain off any excess fat and mix in your pulverized oats and spinach. The amount of oats you add is up to you and really depends on the amount of sausage you have. My package was 500g, so I used about 3/4c of oats, if you have a smaller package of sausages, use less oats! Set aside to cool. I used frozen spinach that I thawed out in the microwave and squeezed dry, but you can use fresh spinach wilted in a pan with a little water. You can also dice and sautee the mushroom stems if you want to add them to the filling as well. And feel free to change up the greens with whatever you have in the fridge (kale or Swiss chard both sound like good options to me).

In a separate bowl, mix together the garlic, cream cheese and lemon juice then add your cooled sausage mixture to the bowl and combine. Distribute among the mushroom caps based on the size of the cap (the bigger the cap, the more stuffing it gets!) and top each with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. I highly reccomend splurging on a block of good Parmigiano Reggiano cheese…like $10-15 for a piece is not unreasonable as far as I’m concerned. A little goes a long way because it has so much more flavour than the pre-packaged stuff. And when you get to the last bit of the rind (the part that’s stamped) don’t throw it out! Put it in the freezer – nothing makes bottled sauce taste like homemade faster than being simmered with a couple glugs of red wine and a chunk of parmesan rind!

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Bake for 15-18 minutes at 400F, until the filling is hot and the cheese is all melty. If you’d like to serve these as appetizers, rather than entrees, you’ll need 40-48 cremini or white button mushrooms, stems removed.

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We had it with quinoa and a super simple Greek salad (cherry tomatoes, quartered cucumber, orange bell pepper and cubed feta dressed with Renee’s Greek vinagrette).

Adapted from: http://www.johnsonville.com/recipe/sausage-stuffed-mushrooms.html

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ever since I was a little kid, my mom has been making these muffins from an old muffin recipe book (who’s name escapes me at the moment). They are far and away my favourite muffins on the planet, and every time I took them somewhere when I was little, at least one person would ask for the recipe.

They’re pretty easy to customize and change up with a little imagination, I like replacing the banana with mashed sweet potato, the white sugar with brown, halving the nutmeg and adding a teaspoon or so of cinnamon!

1/2 c butter, room temperature

1/2 c white sugar

1 egg

1 c mashed banana (about two medium bananas)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp hot water

1 1/2 c flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup chocolate chips (more or less to taste)

 

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter with an electric mixer:

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Dissolve your baking soda in the hot water and add to the bowl along with the bananas and egg. Feel free to throw some vanilla in there too if you’d like!

I hate bananas that have brown spost on them. Seriously, the second a banana has a spot on it, it is inedible as far as I’m concerned. When they get to that point, I peel them, break them into chunks and freeze them in muffin-batch-sized portions in freezer bags. Then when I want to make muffins I can just pull them out of the freezer and let them thaw before adding them to the mix. I’m not going to lie – defrosted bananas look super icky but they make for moist muffins so it’s worth it!

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If you use fresh bananas, you’ll have to mash them before blending everything together with the electric hand mixer, otherwise just blend it all up with the hand mixer. Once the wet ingredients are blended, take another large bowl and whisk together your flour (I doubled this recipe and used 1 cup whole wheat and 2 cups unbleached), nutmeg, salt and chocolate chips. Then tilt the whole thing into your wet ingredient bowl and fold together until just combined. Be super careful not to over mix or you’ll end up with tough muffins.

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Pre-heat your oven to 375F (or if your oven is the ninth circle of hell like mine, 350F) and spray your muffin tins with cooking spray or line them with paper liners. Divide your batter evenly amongst your tins, this recipe makes 10-12 depending on how much you fill each tin.

Tip from mom: use an icecream scoop to portion out the batter…perfect amount every time! You can even get mini icecream scoops/melon ballers for mini muffins.

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Bake for twenty-ish minutes or until a toothpick/cake tester/bbq skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (try to avoid the chocolate chips, that doesn’t count as not coming out clean! Just pick a different muffin and try again. Let them cool in the tin for five minutes or so, until you can handle them and then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

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– J.

Smokey Burgers with Lattice Bacon and Donkey Sauce

What is Donkey Sauce you ask? I said the same thing the first time I was introduced to it. It is (not surprisingly) a product of Guy Fieri’s culinary genius – and he says he called it Donkey Sauce because, “You’re an ass, if you don’t like it!”. It was stumbled upon by my husband when he was reading Maxim…for the article of course. Turns out, there was actually a pretty good article that had this gem of a sauce in it. I would put this stuff on damn near anything!

Donkey Sauce:

one large head of garlic, roasted

1 cup mayo (I used light, olive oil based)

5 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1t yellow mustard (yup just standard French’s)

1/4 salt

pepper to taste

To start preheat your oven to 400F then cut the top off of a clove of garlic and drizzle with oil.

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Wrap the garlic in tinfoil and throw it in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. When it’s done, it’ll look like this, all warm and golden and fragrant:

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Let the garlic cool until you can handle it, then you’re going to need to squeeze it into out of its skin and into a food processor. Or, if you have a Kitchenaid immersion blender that came with one of these attachments, I highly reccomend using it:

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It’s my favourite thing ever for making sauces and marinades. Once you’ve squeezed in your garlic, add the rest of the ingredients and blend!

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Lattice Bacon:

One package applewood smoked bacon (I like President’s Choice)

Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil. I usually cover it with heavy duty BBQ strength tinfoil, and then again with a layer of the Alcan Slide tinfoil.

Cut three strips of bacon in half and lay three of the halves down parallel to one another:IMG_0446

Then pull the centre piece back just a tiny bit at one end and lay another of the halves perpendicular to the first three:

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Put the middle piece back and pull the outside pieces up about half way on the opposite end and lay another piece perpendicular to the first three:

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Finally, put the outside pieces down and pull up the centre piece from that same end, putting your final piece of bacon in perpendicular to your first three again before putting the centre piece down:

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Put the cold pan in a cold oven, and turn it on to 400F, then just walk away for twenty minutes! When you come back, your bacon should be getting crispy. Keep a close eye on it, and when it’s as crispy as you like it, take it out of the oven. Let it cool on the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

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Smokey Burgers:

750g medium/regular ground beef

2t liquid hickory smoke

1T Worcestershire sauce

1/4c finely chopped red onion

1 egg

1T minced garlic (I cheated and used jarred)

1/2c (ish) seasoned breadcrumbs (enough to make the mix not too wet)

salt

pepper

extra old cheddar cheese

red or green leaf lettuce

roma tomatoes, thinly sliced

garlic dill pickles, thinly sliced

Put the ground beef, egg, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, minced garlic and red onion in a bowl until combined.

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Put the formed burgers on a plate and cover with plastic wrap, then put them into the fridge for firm up for a bit while you heat up your BBQ. Guy Fieri says you can use a grill pan but I love to barbeque 🙂

Spray the burgers with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Once the barbeque is at medium low, put your burgers on sprayed side down and close the lid. Once the burgers start to form grill mark, turn them 180 degrees to get a pretty cross hatch pattern (and to make sure they get cooked through).

Flip the burgers and cook a few minutes more until you start to get grill marks on the opposite side, turn 180 degrees again and put on your cheese and bacon lattice. Close the lid again and cook until the cheese has melted and the burger is cooked through. All-in-all, it takes about fifteen or twenty minutes to cook the burgers.

To assemble, put some of the Donkey Sauce on a pretzel bun (we also like bakery ciabatta-type buns if you’re not into baking them yourself) and then layer on the burger, lettuce, tomato and pickles (plus whatever out you like…maybe some sliced onion?)

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And that’s it! My little brother-in-law said he loved me when he ate his, so I guess they must be good! Coming sometime this week (or maybe next) Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins…and Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes!

-J.

 

Pretzel Buns!

You’re getting a two-for-one today! Pretzel buns and my smokey burgers with lattice bacon & “Donkey Sauce”. Yes you read that right….LATTICE BACON!

Pretzel Buns:

2T active dry yeast

2c warm water (110-115F…like a warm bath)

5.5c unbleached flour

2T granulated sugar

1t table salt

vegetable oil

cooking spray

1/3c baking soda

kosher salt

Once again, if you don’t have a stand mixer, use a big bowl and a wooden spoon 🙂

Pour the warm water into the stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast and sugar evenly over the top, stirring to dissolve. Set aside to bloom for 8-10 minutes.

In a large bowl, blend your flour and table salt. Once the yeast has bloomed and is all foamy and disgusting, dump the flour/salt mixture in and turn the mixer on LOW. Now the original recipe says to knead in the mixer for eight minutes but my mixer was having none of that…as the dough started coming together and I turned the  mixer up to medium, the big dough ball just wacked angrily from one side of the bowl to another and actually made my mixer skid along the counter a couple inches. Plan B:

Once the dough comes together and is handle-able (a word? I doubt it, but it works), dump in out onto your counter and knead by hand until the dough is elasticky (again, is that a word?). When you tug on it, it should stretch before it tears.

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Oil a large bowl with the vegetable oil and put your dough into it, pouring a bit of oil over the dough and turning it to coat. Once the dough is nicely coated with oil, cover with plastic wrap, leaving a few gaps and a clean, damp kitchen towel; then leave it somewhere warm to rise for about half an hour (again, I recommend the oven with the light on). It should double in size.

Once the dough has risen, punch (literally) it down before turning it out onto your floured countertop (messy!). Knead the dough for a minute or so until it springs back if you poke at it; then divide into eight equal-ish portions and form into bun-like shapes.

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Cut a couple slashes into the top of the buns. I decided they looked kind of ugly with just the slashes, I think next time I’ll cut an X into the top. Anyways…put your buns onto tinfoil (or a silpat) covered & well greased cookie sheets, lightly cover with plastic wrap and let rise twenty minutes, until doubled in size. I found that the Alcan brand “SLIDE” tinfoil was the best versus regular tinfoil; I didn’t try my Silpat this time.

While your buns are rising again, bring eight cups of water to a boil on your stovetop in a large pot and preheat your oven to 425F. When boiling, slowly add the baking soda (it bubbles like mad and will make a hell of a mess if you’re not careful!). Carefully drop two of the now risen buns into the boiling water and poach on each side for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing excess water to drain off, and put back on your tray. Repeat with the remaning buns, two at a time.

About a thirty seconds to a minute after you pull the buns out of the water, sprinkle them with kosher salt. They should be damp but not sopping, otherwise the salt will dissolve rather than stick. They look like a disgusting mess when you pull them out of the water (I was totally having doubts at this point, but I persevered). Pop them into the oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until golden brown.

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They actually turned out! Can’t wait to try them with the burgers.

One little piece of advice when making buns; less is more on your baking sheet. Spread the buns out further than you think you’d need to, otherwise you’ll end up with something that looks like my first foray into bun baking something I like to call the “Pangaea Bun”: http://instagram.com/p/WaWk5hD7tS/

Smokey burgers with Donkey Sauce and lattice bacon to come (once I actually finish making them!)

– J.

Original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/guy-fieri/pretzel-rolls-recipe/index.html

Shrimp Po’ Boys on French Bread

Well here it is friends, my inagural post! I’m excited to get started, and there are so many recipes I’d like to share without having to make them again and do the whole picture thing (cookie-dough stuffed cupcakes, I’m looking at you), but I’m restraining myself because I feel like food blogs *need* pictures! So here is how to make french bread and Cajun shrimp Po’ Boys with smokey caramelized onion mayo & avocado salsa. Apologies in advance for the horrible quality iPhone photos…Original recipes will be linked at the bottom of the post:

French Bread:

I only recently discovered the joy of making my own bread and buns. There’s just something so satisfying and zen about starting with a few ingredients and pulling bread out of the oven! And it’s way easier than you’d think, promise!

Ingredients:

2.5c warm water (it should feel like a warm bath, not too hot! – 100-110F)

2T active yeast

2T sugar

1t salt

3T olive oil

3c wheat flour & 3c white flour; blended – you can do all white or all wheat (all wheat will make a denser bread)

If you have a stand mixer, I highly recommend using it when making dough (mostly because I’m too lazy for all that kneading). In the absence of a stand mixer, use a large bowl and a wooden spoon, kneading by hand as the dough begins to come together.

Pour the water into your stand mixer/bowl and then evenly sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water and stir until the yeast is dissolved-ish (mine went all clumpy at first but a little mixing dissolved it all nicely). It will look like this:

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Now you let it sit for ten minutes to activate the yeast (at this point, your kitchen will start to smell like beer…that’s a good sign). Properly activated yeast will make your mixture all foamy and weird (it was at this point that I googled a photo of what it should look like because I had no clue). If it’s not foamy then something went wrong (either your water was too hot or your yeast is old and dead). It should look gross like this:

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Now you dump in your oil & salt, put your dough hook on your mixer and start adding in your flour about a half cup at a time. Mix on the lowest speed unless you’d like to wear your flour (not cool).

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When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, you’re almost done (yay!). You may need more or less flour, when the dough pulls away and is sticky but handle-able, that’s enough.

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Your dough should still be sticky at this point. Dump it out onto a well floured surface (aka your countertop…this is where shit gets messy), flour your hands and knead for a few minutes before shaping into a ball. Put your ball into a big bowl (seriously guys, a really big one…dough can get huge when it proofs).

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Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a couple little gaps in the edges; then cover with a damp kitchen towel. Turn the light on in your oven and put your covered bowl in the oven for 30-45 minutes (turning on the light warms your oven up just a tiny bit, helping proof the dough). If you’re impatient like me, you can preheat the oven for a few minutes so that it’s nice and toasty before putting your dough in (this will cut your proofing time in about half). Your dough should almost double in size by the time you’re done proofing:

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Personal preference here (or trial and error) – the original recipe called for you to divide and bake now, but traditional baking says  you should punch down the dough and re-cover, repeating the proofing process. I did two rises this time, it’s up to you (if you have the time, I’d go for it, otherwise move on). Divide the dough into two equal-ish chunks (these loaves are *HUGE*…probably could do three loaves). Shape into loaves (the original recipe says to “tuck the ends under like a jellyroll”…WTF does that mean? I made them loaf shaped…good enough). Score the tops on the diagonal with a knife and turn your oven on to 375F, let the bread rest while you wait for the oven to warm:

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Once your oven is at temperature, pop your bread in on the middle rack and on the bottom rack, put a pie plate (or other oven-safe bowl shaped object) with 2 cups of ice. The steam from the melting ice and water will help you get the nice crusty outside French bread always has. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until they are brown and crusty.

Optional: At the 30 minute mark, take your loaves out and lightly brush the tops with melted butter – this helps get the tops extra crunchy and brown!

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Adapted from: http://keephomesimple.blogspot.ca/2010/05/quick-french-bread.html

Smokey Caramelized Onion Mayo:

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced
1t sugar
1.25t liquid smoke (you can find it near the Tabasco in a lot of grocery stores)
1.25c mayo (I used light olive oil based…but use what you have)
½T canola oil
1t Worcestershire sauce
1/4t ground coriander
½t Louisiana-style hot sauce (e.g. Tabasco)

Warm the oil in a sauce pan on low as you slice up your onions. When the oil is warm, drop your onions into the pan:

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Stir them around and add in the sugar and liquid smoke (the original recipe called for you to actually smoke the onion on the bbq…far too much effort for me). Cook on low until the onions are nice and browned, 20-25 minutes (I know, it’s a crazy long time, but *please* resist the temptation to turn up the heat, otherwise you’ll just end up with burnt onions).

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Let the onions cool for a little bit (warm but not scalding), then add them to a food processor. Add in the mayo, Worcestershire, coriander and hot sauce. Original recipe called for Crystal hot sauce…I don’t know what that is so I planned to sub in Tabasco…I didn’t have Tabasco either (::facepalm::) so I went with Buffalo wing sauce that was in the fridge (close enough, right?).

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Blend the crap out of it until it’s relatively smooth and you’re done! Mine’s still got a few onion bits in it but good enough (let’s call it “rustic”):

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Tomato and Cajun Avocado Salsa:

Cajun seasoning (enough to coat your avocado…1/4c-ish)

1 ripe tomato, diced

2 ripe avocados, sliced

1/4c finely chopped red onion

2.5T apple cider vinegar

canola oil (enough to coat your pan a tablespoon or two)

Coat your sliced avocados with Cajun seasoning on both sides:

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Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a frying pan over medium-low heat (olive oil has a lower smoke point so isn’t as good for frying stuff…if that’s all you’ve got then use it, just watch your temperature and keep the fan on!). When the oil starts to shimmer (seriously, it should look like it’s rippling gently), it’s ready. Fry the avocado slices for 2-3 minutes each side, working in batches if your pan isn’t big enough (like mine) for all the slices at once:

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The original recipe said they should be blackened…mine refused to blacken. Maybe because it called for Creole seasoning and I used Cajun? I don’t know…I ended up with toasty crisp-ish avocado slices. Another one of those “close enough” moments (I have a lot of those):

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Dice the cooked avocado and combine it with the apple cider vinegar, diced tomato and chopped onion and you have salsa! The original recipe says it’s relish…looks like salsa to me so salsa it is:

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Shrimp (the absolute easiest part of this whole damn thing):

1-2lb peeled, deveined shrimp

1-2T Cajun seasoning

1T olive oil

Drop your shrimp into a Ziploc bag and add in the oil and Cajun seasoning (feel free to just eyeball the amounts or toss in whatever looks good to you…I didn’t measure, this is just approximate).

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Seal the bag and shake the hell out of it. Add more seasoning if you need it, then put it in the fridge ’til you’re ready to cook the shrimp (about 10 minutes before serving).

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Heat your BBQ to medium-ish and skewer the shrimp. Or for the lazy man option (my preferred way): dump the shrimp onto a grill pan on the BBQ. You can also cook them in a skillet on the stove, totally your call. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, until pink and cooked through (when they’re totally pink, they’re cooked through – feel free to find a meat thermometer and figure out at what temperature shrimp is considered done…I like to live on the wild side though haha)

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To assemble a sandwich, split the French bread into sandwich-sized portions and then split lengthwise. Hollow out the bread a little, so you can pack more of the good stuff into your sandwich:

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Top with some of the smokey onion mayo, some lettuce (I used a spinach/arugula mix), 4-6 shrimp and some of the salsa. And you have a Shrimp ‘Po Boy on Homemade French Bread!

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Adapted from: http://www.menshealth.com/guy-gourmet/serve-shrimp-po-boys-super-bowl

Feedback would be lovely my friends! Too many pictures? Not enough? Need more explanation? Do I ramble too much? Comment and let me know!

– J.