Can you substitute lard for butter?

Cooking self-tutoring: the tutor experiments substituting lard for butter.

A scones recipe calls for butter…what to do if you haven’t any? Normally I use margarine instead.

Today, hoping for scones that would be a little more crumbly, I used lard instead of margarine. It worked.


Here’s the scones recipe in which I made the substitution:

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Do you use your agenda?

Self-tutoring in psychology: the tutor reflects about organizational habits.

My wife and I use a common agenda to coordinate schedules, including the kids’ activities. It’s used not only to remind us, but just as much to prevent double-bookings.

When my thirteen-year-old brought his school supplies home last week, he left them on the dining-room table. In solitude, I examined his 2017-2018 agenda.

His name is written on the front, by my wife. Inside he makes one entry: “Lecture”, printed for Tuesday, September 12.

My son’s year was successful…he obviously didn’t need to use his agenda beyond that single entry. All those empty pages, those empty boxes that represent days he spent at school, offer mysteries of what actually happened.

I don’t use organizers nearly to the extent of some people, yet in some contexts they can suddenly be very important. Hence, I will be happy to provide him with an agenda for the coming year, whether he needs it or not. I need to provide it to him, because it will represent another year with so many days which may, individually, need organization.

As for his agenda from this year, empty but for one word, and dated 2017-2018…I’ll keep it:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Crunchy peanut butter vs smooth: which is more popular, and by how much?

Self-tutoring about peanut butter preference: the tutor inquires about the popularity of crunchy vs smooth.

We eat a lot of peanut butter, but have gone years without buying crunchy. I’d say 95% of the peanut butter we’ve ever bought has been smooth.

Yet, I notice crunchy peanut butter every time, and want to get it. I’ve always liked it, but of course, I like both. The question that finally crystallized in my mind: who does buy crunchy peanut butter, if we so rarely do?

It turns out about 60% of people prefer smooth peanut butter. I thought the difference would be much higher.

Recently we’ve been buying some chunky, some smooth:)


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

What is clarified butter, and what is ghee?

Self-tutoring about cooking: the tutor arrives at the definitions of clarified butter and ghee.

Clarified butter and ghee are not the same but can be explained as follows:

  1. Clarified butter is begun by heating butter at low heat so that it melts.
  2. As the butter melts, solids will sink to the bottom and a foam will form on top.
  3. The clarified butter is just the liquid without the foam or solids.
  4. If the butter is heated for longer, the liquid will deepen in color and the foam will solidify and sink. Then, the liquid is ghee.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

How to keep eggshell out of your baked goods

Self-tutoring about baking: the tutor shares a simple trick.

When you bake something, you definitely don’t want eggshell in it. Of course, it usually wouldn’t happen. However, the odd time, an egg might crack irregularly, so that a piece of shell separates from the rest and lands in the bowl with the egg.

It’s easy to retrieve the shell fragment if you can see it, which is why I try to remember to use a dark-colored bowl, and put the eggs in first. Then, if a shell fragment lands in the bowl, it’s easy to see and remove.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

A rub for chicken legs

Self-tutoring about cooking: the tutor shares a find.

I searched up a rub to elevate some chicken legs on the barbecue and found this one from Brenda McGrath at, a site I often visit for recipes.

I rubbed the chicken legs in it, then indirect-grilled them on the barbecue at medium-high heat for about 80 minutes.

One of my kids commented that the chicken legs tasted “like barbecue chips.” Everyone loved the rub. Thanks, Brenda!

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Why flour a cake pan?

Self-tutoring about baking: the tutor wonders why flour a cake pan.

Apparently there are two reasons to flour a cake pan:

  1. Help support the batter as it rises against the pan.
  2. We assume that the pan has been buttered before floured. Then the flour reduces the melting of the butter into the dough.

An idea I read is that, for a chocolate cake, you can dust the pan with cocoa instead of flour to serve the same purpose. Neat, eh?


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

What is the point of gardening?

Self-tutoring: the tutor delves into the philosophy behind urban gardening.

In the late ’80s I talked to a farmer, and survivalist, who lived way up north. He didn’t have a garden. His wife did; he snickered at its mention.

“You’re a survivalist…why don’t you believe in gardening?” he was sometimes asked.

“It’s much cheaper to buy produce at the grocery store,” he would smile. “If you think of the money you could earn for the time spent tending a garden, you come out way behind, gardening.”

He didn’t talk much, that man, and he was almost always right when he did. Back then, he could make $20/hour for working…why would he garden?

My father had a garden in the 80s in a region where agriculture is favourable. Yet, our home sat on a sand hill; our soil wasn’t so good as that of our neighbours across the street, who lived on the flat.

I came to learn that my father loved gardening. Evenings from late spring to early fall, he’d spend out in the back yard. Sometimes he tended the garden, while other times he’d stand there, smoking a cigarette, surveying it. He was proud of the garden. No-one else could see it; our garden lay behind a bluff that backed onto woods. He took personal pride in it, regardless.

About a third of his time out there, he spent planning what he’d do next year. If I went out to talk to him, he’d discuss the crop, but soon begin about how the soil was better than last year, and what he’d yet do to improve it. We were surrounded by deciduous trees whose leaves he collected each autumn, then tilled into the garden. He loved talking about compost.

During our three years there, he improved the soil a great deal, from almost pure sand to darker stuff more like loam. However, he was a military man; we had to move. All that progress was lost to him when we moved away to live on a base.

My father had known, when we arrived there, that we were destined only to move away in a few years. Yet, his compass, first to last, was improving the soil. We ate delicious produce from the garden – I still remember the first tomato we picked from it and how good it tasted. However, he didn’t mainly talk about that. Rather, he talked about how good the soil would be next spring or how much it could improve after ten years of composting.

My only conclusion is that Dad’s point to gardening was to improve the soil. Whatever produce we ate from it – and we certainly did – was a bonus.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Baking: the scones I made this morning

Self-tutoring about lifestyle: the tutor shares an easy recipe everyone seems to love.

I like scones, especially hot from the oven. They’re surprisingly easy to make: here’s the recipe I used this morning, from

I substitute margarine for butter, and find it works best if the margarine is cold from the fridge.

Best of luck with your breakfast cooking:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Yard work, exercise and fitness: the unintended work-out

Self-tutoring: the tutor shares about yard chores.

Yesterday, I thought perhaps I wouldn’t get enough exercise. I thought wrong.

For the seeds I found in our shelves, I decided to open up more garden space from a rectangle of the lawn. It was a spontaneous decision that meant using the shovel and pick-axe.

Turning over the sod took me about 45 minutes. A pick-axe is handy to have for such jobs.

When I was a kid, my Dad had a roto-tiller that would’ve done the job in under 10 minutes, no sweat. We lived in a farming place, then. Now we don’t, so I till by hand:)

I’ll keep you updated on what I plant; I hope to start today.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.