No Scents, Nonsense

A "Danish dough whisk" is a wise investment.

Coronavirus Disease 2019? We Don’t Have Much Time So Call Me Covid-19 for Short

News from a few days ago alarmed me until I thought it through. In June 2017 at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, I brushed against a rosemary bush for sale and found I couldn’t smell that strong scent. I checked myself for the next days. Basil I could distinguish. Chocolate had diminished — still sweet and fun but dimmer. Similar for other food odors and tastes. As it was smell, my taste was muted, too, maybe by a third?

My physician gave it a name, anosmia, but also had me take meds to lower allergies and cure any thrush. The drugs had no effect, so he suggested an ear, nose and throat doctor. The otolaryngologist ordered an MRI of my neck and head and found no “unusual abnormalities.” He recommended a neurologist to see if it was nerve-related. I chose to live with anosmia but kept the names he recommended.

Some smells and tastes have returned in the last couple of years but not at full depth. Every so often the an odor comes through full strength, and I rejoice. Even when it’s animal poop.

Anosmia has joined fever and dry cough as a symptom of coronavirus 2019 disease (though Slate.com is skeptical). Wait, was there a Covid-17? No, not one that caught, so to speak.

Let’s chalk up the dulling of my tongue and nose to being on the far side of middle age. I started needing hearing aids 15 years ago. Eyeglasses were prescribed for this boy at age 8. I’m getting old.


I have a couple of the risk factors for getting hit hard with Covid-19 but not the worst ones. So My Beloved and I work on computers from home, thankful for jobs that allow that and with them health insurance.

I am sure I will get infected at some point despite the recommended precautions of cleanliness and distance. I go a hair further in caution at her insistence.

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Flapjacks or Flapjanes

Cakey Pancakes, low-fat vegan
Cakey Multigrain Pancakes are low-fat vegan and rise more than other recipes.

Pancakes, hotcakes and the like are pretty much just another flatbread. But they mean breakfast maybe more than brunch and sweet usually not savory. These two low-fat vegan versions are not bland, either.

Cakey Multigrain Pancakes

Four servings

  • 2 Tablespoons egg replacer powder OR ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups plant milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Dash vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds (optional)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal, traditional OR quick
  • Zest from 1 orange, minced (optional)
  • 1 cup berries (optional), frozen is fine (thawed or not)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • Oil spray
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Dress Up

Lettuce Rejoice

Here are two vegan salad dressings, essentially “whole food plant based low oil,” using pantry items (well, my ongoing pantry of staples!). The first is really quick and the second super tasty.

Healthier Savory Dressing

Based on “2-Minute Oil-Free Balsamic Dressing” from Forks over Knives

2 parts good quality vinegar
1 part vegan mayonnaise
1 part nutritional yeast
1/2 part dried herb blend, such as Italian
Pinch ground mustard
Pinches of salt and pepper
2 parts water

Combine all ingredients in a lidded jar. Shake well to combine. Can serve immediately; refrigerate leftovers.

Notes: If using a tablespoon for “part,” this will make about 1/2 cup of dressing, enough for 4-8 servings of salad. (The original made just a single serving, 2 tablespoons.)

To minimize dressing and maximize the fresh flavor of the greens I add a smaller amount of dressing to the whole bowl of greens, before separating to plates — and toss not with a fork or something but with a clean hand. This coats all the leaves quickly and thoroughly. You might need another tablespoon of dressing as you go along. Be careful not to bruise (wilt) the lettuce by mixing too roughly. The hand-mix method works for any dressing.

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That’s What He Is, All Right

Official White House photo pf President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence
Official White House photos of President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence

From Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, to Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, neither spoken nor written have I ever used the phrase President Trump or any variation. That is I did not adjoin the word “president” and the word “Trump.” Or “president” and “Donald J. Trump,” etc. I called the man by his names, and I liked DJT. Also said “the president.

Why haven’t I called Trump president? It’s not because he didn’t win the office. I think he did. He, the Republican Party in general and his campaign managers figured out how to game the Electoral Collage, which states to focus on.

You can’t win a big competition just by being the best campaigner. It’s more key to slam any rivals. Somehow negativity sticks with us humans better than positivity. Turns out that creating doubt isn’t hard. Making it stick takes more strategic effort.

Republicans figured out how to slander the Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton so effectively that even most of her supporters said something to the effect of, “Yeah, maybe she is (whatever), but she’s best we’ve got for 2016 and better than him.”

The GOP got there first and hit hardest. The more Democrats stamped and hollered about Trump, oddly, the more firmly his followers back him. Why? He owned most of the allegations, turned them around by bragging. That’s why calling Trump a liar is weird. At the least expected times, the habitual liar tells the truth.

It’s not that the Trump Republicans practiced “you can fool some of the people some of the time,” but engaged in “you can fool enough of the people.”

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Me Burn My Bridge? You Lit It

Pyrite cube from Fuente del Moro, Navajún, Spain.
Pyrite cube from Fuente del Moro, Navajún, Spain.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. This Just Happened

In late August 2019, Millicent Whitehat, a recently retired college instructor, came up to me late one afternoon as we were leaving a reception at the university.

“So, you have a job on campus, right?”

“Yeah, webmaster for the College of Education and Health Professions, three years last July. It’s been great, it really has.”

“I’m very glad to hear it. You know, they did not treat you right, and I’ve felt bad about it, but nothing I could do. That [Reedman], I don’t know how you worked with him. He’s never fit in, I’m not sure who likes him. He has no personality.”

No personality, what did she mean by that?

“I’m not sure he was the problem. I felt we got along, got along well enough. He’s of a type in newsrooms that I knew, so I felt I could handle anything that came up with him. I never figured out what happened, that made them cut me out of the job. Do you know?”

“No, I never really heard.”

“I’ve wanted to find out, but to ask around I never knew who to approach. I mean, who really knew and who would tell me, and would they be truthful or lie, or would they know just part of what happened or just one point of view, and still there’d be no complete picture then either.”

“I understand. You’d best forget it and move on. I guess you did move on.”

“Yes, I did and this is great, where I’ve landed. Yes I’ve obviously moved on, but no I can’t forget. That’s just not something I could do. That hands it to them, you know?”

A mutual friend at that moment joined us, as if they had come in together and obviously heading toward the car. Millicent’s manner indicated the friend’s presence ended our talk. We exchanged cheerful good-byes, and I walked toward the campus center.

[Quotation marks are used here because I’m certain of near-journalistic accuracy. The absence of such punctuation later indicates reliance on strong memory.

[Names HAVE been changed. However, my name as always is “I” or “me.”]

So did Millicent know what happened? Gosh, how could she? 

Department chair Baton knows, most or all. Ethics center director (interim director at the time) Reedman knows, at least his role in it. Now-retired Professor Alto is complicit and had to have colluded. Beloved Professor Bass told me several times all this happened at levels above him and he was powerless. All assistant department chair Dr. Cornet had for me was a sudden gesture of empathy. Their word for me: “insubordinate.” The allegation is false.

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Lettuce Rejoice

Plate of lettuce salad
Source: National Cancer Institute’s 5 A Day Resources

It’s getting harder to find a satisfying bottled salad dressing, for the convenience. They seem sweeter now, at least the lower fat varieties.

Speaking of oil, there’s a way to cut that in half: toss your salad with a hand not utensils and you’ll need just half the dressing — 1 Tablespoon per serving instead of the suggested 2 — to coat the leaves. It takes seconds as your fingers quickly tell when all are moistened. That works when the cleaned lettuce is bone dry as experts advise or when the veggies are gently shaken of water.

Adapting this no-fat vegan 2-Minute Oil-Free Balsamic Dressing from Forks Over Knives has become my go-to rather than a Ken’s or Newman’s Own. I often prefer vegan mayo instead of Dijon mustard as the resulting emulsion is more creamy than tart.

The recipe is a modest amount but easily scalable. It makes just under a half cup of dressing, for 6-8 servings if hand-tossed (above) or 3-4 servings conventionally.

Easy, Real Salad Dressing

  • 2 Tablespoons quality vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan mayo OR prepared mustard such as Dijon
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs such as basil or Italian spice blend
  • pinch dried garlic
  • pinch dry mustard (Colman’s recommended)
  • pinches salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a small jar with a good lid and shake. Refrigerate until needed.

Notes: Balsamic or red wine vinegar work great, but if you want a lighter color then rice vinegar is good. Cider vinegar has a stronger taste, but sometimes that’s the right thing.

Nutritional yeast is a flavor booster with umami.

Heck yes, this recipe is a starting point. Don’t worry about the nutritional yeast. Replace the salt with a dash of soy sauce. If fresh herbs are available, mix rough-chopped ones in the bowl with the lettuce and drop the dried spices from the dressing. Whatever. Go for it.