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The Ethological Study of Ella The Cat

The Ethological Study of Ella The Cat 2560 1920 Jason Stadtlander

Let’s face it, cats are really just glorified cuddly, walking stomachs with four legs and razor blades attached to the ends.

That being said, I’m not sure I could get through this pandemic without my Ella. She has been my companion since day one of the COVID19 pandemic and she continues to follow me around the house all day long, sits with me as I work all day, and wakes me up in the morning.

It is the waking up in the morning that I have begun to study and thought of particular interest. There’s a very specific pattern to this waking up and ‘getting the human to feed me’ element to it all. It is a very specific series of steps where there are a few adjustments that she has worked out just case I might be getting off track from her desired outcome.

Here are my findings (from Ella’s perspective):

  • Step 1 – Jason’s box next to his bed makes noise and he is no longer unconscious (alarm goes off). I must jump up on top of him and sit at the highest point on top of his body and look down upon him until he acknowledges my presence.
  • Step 2 – Once Jason acknowledges that I am here and begins to pet me, I can turn my lovely butt around so that he can see it. This will entice him to push me off and get up.
  • Step 3 – If I see Jason looking at his phone, I must jump back up on the bed and nudge under his arm to force him to see that I am what he should be focusing on.
  • Step 4 – For some reason at this point, he seems compelled to go to the room with all the water and I really don’t want to have any part of water, so I must remain at the threshold of the door frame and wait to ensure he does not forget his reason for getting up. Eventually, after being wet for a while and using something to dry off he once again goes back into his room.
  • Step 5 – I must constantly rub myself upon his ankles while he is putting on his fur and remind him again, why I have woken him. However, I must be careful not to trip him as he will step on my leg or tail because he’s clumsy.
  • Step 6 – I must lead him down the stairs and wait every few steps to make sure he is coming. If he gets distracted, then I need to go back and remind him to follow me.
  • Step 7 – I must stand by my dish as shown and wait for Jason to come to feed me.
    • Step 7a – Jason often becomes obsessed with the thing on the counter that makes dark liquid. So frequently must lead him to where my food can be found.
    • Step 7b – Jason often seems to think that he is in the kitchen to feed himself and starts taking items out of the big metal box to eat, but again, I must lead him back to where my food can be found.
Where’s ma food?

I will note that she has started a new step (Step 8) recently, which is the “fake cough/hairball” which she starts to do if she becomes significantly irritated that I am not getting to her food. She bends over and starts coughing and hacking. I know this to be fake because if I reach down and grab her dish, she instantly stops doing it – every single time.

The “Fake Cough”

So, what does all this show? As I see it shows one of two things. 1.) I have to much time on my hands and I’ve turned to study my cat’s behavior. 2.) I have come to the realization that I have never trained my cat but in fact, have been the one trained by my cat. Who’s the higher species now?

How to Boil The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

How to Boil The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg 4032 3024 Jason Stadtlander

I make salads for lunch almost every day. Hard-boiled eggs are a perfect compliment to my (and your) favorite salad.

There are few things more infuriating (to me) than trying to peel that hard-boiled egg and being unable to separate the shell from the egg. Am I right? Admit it, it is the thorn of your existence. It is the one thing that you lay in bed thinking about until 3:00 AM, “How on Earth will I deal with that egg in the morning? How will I peel the shell and not go ballistic? How will I keep from throwing that egg at the wall and pulverizing it into a million little pieces?! How? How? HOW!?”

I have the answer to your dreams. The monumental recipe that will change your egg dealing days forever!

  1. Select your favorite eggs (No more than 8 if using a medium sized pan) and put them in a medium-sized pan.
    This is important If your eggs are too close to walls of the pan, the shell will cook into the egg. There should be enough room for 1-2″ of water between the egg and the pan.
  2. Fill the pan with water so that there is at least 1 – 2″ of water over the eggs.
  3. Heat up the water on high heat.
  4. Once it starts to boil, turn it down just a little and only then set the timer for 20-22 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off, put the entire pan of eggs in the sink and run cold water over them for 2 minutes.
  6. Immediately after you turn off the water, pour a bowl of ice into the pan
  7. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes.
  8. Your eggs are ready!





Friday Food: Get Your Yummy Fries Here!

Friday Food: Get Your Yummy Fries Here! 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

I’m a fry guy – die hard in fact. I love my spuds. Maybe it’s the Irish half of me? I don’t know. I own a deep fryer at home and love making homemade steak fries, no batter, no extra stuff… just potatoes, canola oil and some sea salt. They melt in your mouth and have my boys begging for more.

Now, finding some good fries always seems to be a challenge I take on. I work in downtown Boston and I have a plethora of fast food, diners, restaurants and vendors all around me.  Now, you’d think it’d be super easy finding the perfect fry. The real question is; What makes the ‘perfect’ french fry?

Pick Apart The French Fries… err Pommes Frites

Before we discuss what makes the perfect fry, as all of you know I love etymology (the study of the origin of words).

Despite the name, French Fries do not come from France. The french actually call them “pommes frites” which literally means “fried potatoes”.

French Fries actually come from Belgium (which of course is near France) and can be traced back to the late 1600’s where villagers would slice and fry potatoes during the winter months.

The use of the actual name “French Fries” didn’t come about until the early 20th century (around 1920) when the term “french fried potatoes” were being used. We crazy Americans had to shorten it to french fries.

The Perfect French Fry

Of course the definition of ‘perfect’ is subjective, so perhaps we should call this, the Perfect French Fry according to Jason Stadtlander?

1. Natural cut potatoes – many manufactures ground up the potatoes and then press them into french fries (sacrilege!). Nope, they need to be cut up via a knife or fry press with the skins still on them.

2. Fresh, not frozen or par-fried – I’ve tried them all and par-frying (pre-frying) and frozen just don’t hold a candle to fresh cut potatoes.

3. Peanut Oil or Canola Oil – Peanut oil is very expensive but very flavorful. The downfall to peanut is, some people have allergies and it’s also high in saturated fat. Canola oil is definitely a little more expensive than vegetable oil but low in saturated fat and high in Omega 3. So out of the 14 odd regularly used oils, Canola gets my #1 vote.

4. No spices except sea salt – Too many places try and throw tons of various spices and they just don’t go. Sometimes a little cayenne pepper can be nice, but sea-salt is the perfect marriage to the potato.

5. 400° F (204° C) Temperature – Ideal french fries should be fried for 6-7 minutes at 400° F

Ketchup, Catsup… What ever…

The ultimate condiment with french fries. Although Europeans might argue that mayo is a better condiment. Personally, I like Ketchup, but I much more prefer malt vinegar. Especially on fresh fair fries – Yummy!

Where Does One Get The Perfect French Fry in Boston?

Well, I work in Government Center, so keep in mind, I’m localizing this to the Government Center, Beacon Hill, Downtown Crossing and MGH hospital areas. Strangely there aren’t very many places that even offer french fries because they are Italian or specialty restaurants.

The Bad:

A few places I’ve tried which just rank as terrible on my French-Fry-Ometer and should only be purchased in desperation are (in no particular order):
1. Burger King – Center Plaza
2. McDonalds – Downtown Crossing
3. New Chardon Cafe – New Chardon Street
4. Kinsale – You’d think an Irish place would be great at potatoes but they’re not.

The Great:

Here are a few of my favorites nearby (in no particular order):

1. B. Good – Decent fries, but too small of a size and only one size offered
2. Red Hat – One of the oldest taverns in Boston. Under new management and have great fries.
3. Five Guys – Always love Five Guys’ fries but really love that you get your money’s worth. They are always heaping over with fries.

The Best:

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Walloon’s Food Truck – Every Thursday

My choice for the best fries goes to a food truck that can be found at the corner of Cambridge Street and New Chardon every Thursday lunch hour called Walloons. Fabulous fries, fresh cut with sea salt. They do have an interesting flavor which might be some paprika, I’ll have to ask next time. For those that like sweet potato fries (which I’m not partial to), they have those as well.

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Walloons French Fries

Walloons French Fries with a nice little pocket for Ketchup


Going Nuts over Nuts and Those Digestive Guts

Going Nuts over Nuts and Those Digestive Guts 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Going Nuts over Nuts and Digestive GutsI work out pretty regularly and one thing I’m always looking for is protein and good ways to satisfy those munchies in-between meals. One of my big go-to munchies are nuts, especially almonds.

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut…

Now, I’ve never had any allergies to nuts so I have never really thought twice about eating them except for fat content from time to time. But let’s face it, I’m a guy and at the end of the day, I don’t really care much about a few grams of fat here and there. Well, recently I got some trail mix from Trader Joe’s and it has peanuts, almonds, cashews, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and cranberries in it, very yummy. However, after eating a few handfuls I found myself feeling bloated. At first I thought I must have eaten something odd other than the trail mix, but later found that when I tried eating it again, I had the same problem. After doing some research, I found that peanuts are not as good for the digestive tract as I always thought they were. In fact, different nuts have very different properties. I tried cutting out peanuts from the mix (ate the rest that was in it), and voila, no problems. Here are a couple interesting facts I learned about peanuts along the way:

  • Peanuts can get a fungus that generates poisons called aflatoxins. Apparently aflatoxins can cause liver damage.
  • Peanuts are not actually nuts, they are legumes, edible seeds.
  • They are not only high in protein, they are high in vitamins and minerals.
  • Some people may not have severe allergic reactions to peanuts such as anaphylaxis, but may in fact have allergic reactions that present themselves in digestion issues.

More NutsWhich Nut is the Right Nut?

So… that brings me to the next question. What are the best nuts to eat, and why? I thought it would be best to lay out some of the facts I found along the way first:

  • Raw nuts, especially almonds, cashews and walnuts have been linked to lower cholesterol and help with weight control. That’s right, eating nuts can actually help you lose weight.
  • Walnuts help fight inflammation because of the omega-3 fatty acids (brain food) they contain.
  • Almonds are high in fiber and very good for your digestive system. They also are high in antioxidants.
  • Brazil nuts are very high in selenium, which has been proven to prevent some cancers such as bone, prostate and breast cancer.
  • Pistachios contain less than four calories each, making them the “skinniest” nut you can eat. They’ve also been shown to reduce lung cancer.

So which nut is my favorite? Well… If I have my choice, cashews are my favorite. Why? Because they they are high in iron and magnesium (which helps with your neurological system) and doggone it, they just taste great! Which nut is your favorite?

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