Lighthouse (Really) Dog Biscuits

No, really, they are Lighthouses.

Any resemblance to a “willy” is purely coincidential and completely in your own mind, you naughty person.

At least that is what I tell people every time I use that silly cookie cutter.   It *is* a lighthouse cookie cutter.  I bought it in a Marine Goods store on Cape Cod one year because it did look like a slightly “wrecky” version of a lighthouse and found it amusing.

So yes, it does look like a willy to me too.

That’s our own secret.

Everyone who has ever seen these things ask me about that little story.  And, Yes, I could break down and get new cookie cutters and stop using these, but why?  I was even looking at cookie cutters at the thrift store yesterday and had a private laugh then moved on.

Anyway… The dogs love these cookies.  I baked them after seeing a link to a bunch of recipes the other day on www.petfooddirect.com and this was the simplest one that I found.

This is their pumpkin dog biscuit recipe.  Everything was human grade.  In fact, I sampled one since they smelled so good.   They’re a bit bland as a human cookie but they’re not meant to be human cookies.

My dog loved them.   He first picked it up after sniffing it, set it back down, circled it and then devoured the thing.  I gave a dozen to Lisa and Bill across the street for Ellie, and Ellie devoured it and asked for more.  I have another container to give as a gift later.

So the recipe is a winner.

My recipe here is a double batch.  The original link made a smaller batch but I never do anything in half measures.  Plus if you double the batch you use exactly one can of pumpkin puree.  Do not get the pumpkin pie filling in a can – you want pumpkin puree.   The extra sugar isn’t good for the dog and it really isn’t good for you.

You also want to make this in a stand mixer.   Mine churned through the ingredients and ended up with a strangely rubbery batter.  Similar to those “really neat stretchy rubber erasers” that they use in art class.

Rolled out thin is better than thick since they will be dense when cooked.  If thick, you will have a little trouble cooking out all the moisture for the right consistency.

Also, keep them in the fridge.  They’re human grade and moist so they will spoil eventually like any cookie.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup peanut butter (unsweetened or natural)
  • 2 cup pumpkin puree (canned, not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Process:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Add all ingredients to the mixing bowl at once.  
  • A Stand Mixer is highly recommended.
  • Mix ingredients until smooth.  
  • Consistency will be thick and stretchy.
  • Roll the batter out on floured board or table until 1/2 inch or less in thickness.
  • Cut with cookie cutters as desired.
  • Pierce with fork in each to allow even baking and for steam to escape.
  • Bake at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.

Lighthouse cookie cutter is optional.

No You Silly Parrot, You Don’t Want Espresso!

If you choose to take an animal into your life, it is going to change you forever.

It also is a lifetime bond, until one of you goes, that animal should remain with you.

If you can’t handle that truth, get a beanie baby. They cost about a buck at the thrift stores.

On the other hand, they can make things much more interesting.

Having finished what I set out to one Sunday Morning, I decided I would like a nice mug of espresso.  Padding into the Kitchen, I snapped on the lights above my head and went to work.  I filled the maker with some water, put in the grounds – full but not packed, and then set it on the back burner on the stove.

Soon the elements were glowing red, and I went to work.

Hello.

I got the box that contained my green coffee beans and decided to roast some decaf.  If you get …

Hello.

If you get unroasted decaffeinated coffee beans, they are a brown color instead of the green of the regular beans…

Hello.

Pouring them into the popcorn popper, I slid it out to the serving area on the other side of the kitchen window and closed the window down.  Plugging in the popper, I touched the timer on the counter to watch the time.

HELLO!  BRAAAAKKKKK!

What do you want you noisy old buzzard?

HELLO!

My noise detector had started to make it’s warning sounds.  You see if you have a parrot in the house, they tend to be quite involved with what you are doing.  A parrot may be “just a bird” or a pet to you, but to that parrot, you are its mate.   They do not form a friendship bond, they form a pair bond or a mate bond with you.  Intensely social, a parrot or other bird will want to be doing what you’re doing at pretty much any moment it is awake.

HELLO!  HELLO!  WHATWHATWHATWHATHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Yes, Oscar, I’m roasting coffee.   Want a bean?

HELLO!  OK! HELLO!  HEREWEGO! HEREWEGO!HEREWEGO!H!E!R!E!W!E!G!O!

I’ve had Oscar since 1986.  He’s not at all a cuddly bird.  Named after Oscar the Grouch, he can be quite arbitrary and grumpy.  But he’s mine.

Or rather, I am his.

I went about giving Oscar two decaf coffee beans, still warm from the first batch, and went back to roasting batch two.

HELLO!

I guess I had better turn the music down a bit, I’m well into the parrot…
HELLO
zone.

*sigh* Ok, Oscar, what?

The espresso maker was now gurgling away, I had another two minutes between first and second crack on the third batch of beans.

I raised my hand to scritch him behind the neck and he growled and walked away.

Ok you silly old buzzard, have your bamboo stick.

Hello?

The espresso was now done, the water had either been made to steam or deep dark espresso.  I poured it over the…

He-LOW!

French Vanilla Creamer and began to stir it with the Coffee Spoons that my sister had shipped me down from New Jersey for the holidays.  This one had French Vanilla

HELLO!

Chocolate on them so that I was going to get a deep and rich kick of chocolate and coffee and vanilla.

Noticing that the last batch was now on Second Crack, I made note of the time, gave it another 30 seconds for that darker roast I have been shooting for these days, and unplugged my aging popper.  That was the end of the…

Hello.

noise for the morning.  I poured the beans out onto a dinner plate to cool and went on stirring my espresso.

*sip*  Yes, Pat, that was a wonderful cup of…

Urp.  Braak.

Espresso.

Thanks!

Boudreaux’ Confession

Boudreaux’ confession

Boudreaux was feeling guilty, so he went to confession.

“Father, I kinda took a little lumber from that new construction site.”

Priest: “What did you do with the lumber, my son?

Boudreaux: “Well, Father, my porch, she’s had a hole for a long time. I’m afraid that someone will break their leg, so I fix the hole.”

Priest: “Well, that’s not so bad.”

Boudreaux: “Well, Father, I had a little lumber left.”

Priest: “What did you do with it?

Boudreaux: “Well, my poor dog Phideaux, he ain’t never had no place to get outta the weather, so I make him his own little doghouse.”

Priest: “OK, anything else?”

Boudreaux: “Well, Father, I had a little lumber left. So you know, my truck, she ain’t never had no place to get outta de weather either, so I make her a two-car garage.”

Priest: “Now, this is getting a little out of hand.”

Boudreaux: “Well, Father, I still had a little lumber left.”

Priest: “Yes?”

Boudreaux: “Well, my wife, she always want a bigger house. So I add two bedrooms and a new bathroom.”

Priest: “OK! That’s definitely too much. For your penance, you are going to have to make a Novena. You do know how to make a Novena, don’t you?”

Boudreaux: “No, Father … but if you got the plans, I got the lumber.”

The Xmas Angel

When four of Santa’s elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Xmas pressure.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.

Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the liquor. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and an irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Xmas tree. The angel said very cheerfully, ‘Merry Xmas, Santa. Isn’t this a lovely day? I have a beautiful Xmas tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?’

And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Xmas tree.

Navigating by Remote Control

Ok, rule number one.  When a bunch of people are going for a ride in the car, driver sits behind the wheel.  The rest of the people line up by height.  The tallest gets the seat in front next to the driver.  The shorter people go in the back.

How do I know this?  Simple, I’m 6’4″.  Tall people don’t fit in the back of the car, it just doesn’t work.  Unless you’re driving a limousine or one of those boats that they used to sell back before the 1973 oil embargoes, there just isn’t enough room back there for anyone over 6 feet tall no matter how you try to spin it.

That might explain how I constantly got drafted to be the know-it-all who is next to the driver up front all the time.  Yes, the navigator would be a nicer way to phrase it.

I don’t care if she’s your wife or your elderly grandma, putting someone in the back who is over 6 foot tall means that you’re just not thinking.

But it does mean that you get good directions.  You should at any rate, or that tall person should be locked in the trunk, which might even be worse than sitting behind the driver in a compact car.

I got excellent at giving directions, but there were always limitations.  Back in the stone age, when your grandparents and dinosaurs roamed the Earth, there were somethings called Maps.  These things were typically either in a book or were a giant piece of paper best used on a wall to cover a nasty stain that got there when you tried to cover up a food fight you had when you were 12.  You would open this and now the entire surface of the car was covered with a sheet of paper covered with brightly colored lines representing roads of various shapes, and rivers.

Don’t drive on the Blue Roads.  They are rivers.  Your car won’t survive long nor will it get where you are planning on going unless you are trying to collect on the insurance.  In that case, you’re a bad person and you made me a Sad Panda.

Later, you would find things that would fight that massive sheet of paper by simply printing out the road in a strip.  Don’t stray from your route or else you will fall off the edge of the map to where There Be Dragons, and who knows what other evil creatures of the night might find you as you hurtle through the unknown in your little compact car of doom.

I still haven’t managed the attraction of a GPS.  Sure, I have the software on my phones, whether Android or iPhone.  They work well enough, but then you get this rather assertive voice barking at you while you’re stuck in traffic.  The one I used last had a fight with the one the driver had turned on for the same route and as a result there are little computer chips and shards of LCD screens laying on the floor of the car.

It wasn’t a pretty sight.

This time though, I will be a Navigator by remote control.   Kevin is coming back from up North where he spent a week with Mom.  Holidays with Mom, then Mom and Sister’s Family.  He’s currently stuck on the Auto Train where a switching problem in Banjo Player County Georgia has him limping along to the promised land of North Florida and Sanford Beyond.

How these trips go are that I start getting calls when the train is past Daytona on its way South.  Then he’s sitting in the station playing with the iPhone getting fidgety waiting for the giant train to disgorge his car so he can drive back.

Stop by a Wawa in Central Florida if one is nearby and get an Italian Hoagie.  I swear the bread is made by license by them from Amoroso…

As things progress I get more calls saying I just passed a cow in the middle of a field, do you know where I am?

Well, no, I can watch your progress on Google Earth, but I don’t have access to those Spy Satellites that I’ve heard about.  If I did, this world would be an interesting place, but that’s a different flight of fancy.

It’s bad enough that I load up Google Earth and start looking at things like borders on the map and scratching my head as to why I can trace the border for miles when the neighbors have been peaceful for 200 years.

You know, Pennsylvania and Maryland?

We seem to have jumped over the standalone GPS era and went right to the Smartphone based GPS.  But it’s still easier to ask me, 100 miles away, where that particular cow is.

Ok, just get yourself home.  I’m sure you must be back in Florida by now.

You’re not?  Oh well, I’ll go make some espresso.

Silence is Golden, Especially on a Holiday Morning

Picture it.

Wilton Manors, FL.  6AM December 25, 2013.

All is silent.

No, really.  Silent.

This little quirky island is never really quiet.  Not the kind of quiet I’d get when I would roll out to the New Jersey Pine Barrens, shut off the motor, and hear nothing but winds blowing through the pine trees.

Here I can hear traffic from sources as far away as I-95, two miles away.

At that time in the dog walk I heard something I hear rarely.  Crickets.  As Rack and I walked past the little M.E. DePalma Park, the loudest sound I heard were the crickets that flocked there to live among native plants.  It’s a little urban oasis that has a distinctly different sound and smell than the usual grass that is planted everywhere here.

You walk past the tall grasses waving their purple heads in the breezes and you smell hints of oregano.  There are a couple different plants that grow wild that smell like that, it just makes me want more pizza.

But the thing is that the crickets were usually mostly drowned out by the traffic on Dixie Highway or Wilton Drive two blocks away.  This morning I could hear the crickets that were away from the park in people’s yards which I can’t usually hear.

This morning, nothing.  No Traffic.

Repeat after me… Ahhhh….

Living in a resort town, you get used to the ebb and flow of visitors.  This is the beginning of Snowbird Season.   I’ve heard more than once “If this is Snowbird Season, what can we hunt them with?”.  My normal response is “your businesses and not your shotguns, thank you”.  So we’re used to having crowds in February, and not so much in August despite the fact that it’s typically cooler in Ft Lauderdale on the hottest week in August than it is in Philadelphia, Chicago, or Dallas.

That Ocean is a wonderful thing.  Those breezes are a wonderful thing.  No, don’t move down here, it’s a crowded place, you wouldn’t like that… no really you wouldn’t.

Ok, that didn’t work, in the time it took for you to read this blog article, we gained another snowbird or two.

On the morning of December 25th, when the Long Winter’s Nap is just ending, you lot are not on the roads.  It gives my quirky little resort town and many other quirky little resort towns a ghostlike silence that you only hear on the morning of a holiday.

With people beginning to wake up everywhere and shell their presents of the wrapping paper, they just aren’t outside making a racket.  It was a cooler morning so the air conditioners weren’t running.  You can tell when Florida is cool because the AC is off.

This day being what it is, even if you aren’t with family at that time of day, you’re typically not going to be in your car going somewhere unless work requires it.  Because, just because.  That’s why.  Everyone deserves a day off.

I’m glad you took that morning off.  Even the airplanes weren’t flying out of the airport, 8 miles to the South.  It was appreciated. 

The world will have a slack week this week, maybe getting back to work sometime later in January.  But it won’t be quite as silent. 

Now… when’s the next major holiday?  Oh yeah, New Years….

Happy Holidays from Ramblingmoose.com

Happy Holidays – yes, all of them.

With Rack the Laser Dog staring his glowy eyes at you, may you have a wonderful end of the year, and a better 2014!

If Santa Clothes came by and left you a Yellow Polyester Leisure Suit with Lime Green Frogs, and a Lump of Coal, you are probably my nephew remembering his childhood.

You see one year, when my little nephew was a toddler, he learned about the Holiday ATM that is known as Santa Claus.  For months, Jon was telling us how he was going to get action figures, a new bike, and all the other things that a kid would want.

Then Thanksgiving hit.  We told him that Santa Clothes would come for a visit and bring him clothes for Xmas.

Predictably that didn’t go over too well, but it did start a new family tradition.

Every year from that point onward, I made it a quest to find my nephew a lump of coal.  Even when he was a teenager, he knew that he would get a lump of coal in his stocking and some piece of clothing that he actually wanted from me, along with everything else I could find that he wanted for the holiday.

The lump of coal was a hard candy.  It tasted like licorice and he did enjoy it because he was in on the joke.

So maybe Santa Clothes will bring you a sock and a lump of coal.  You might just like it.

Especially if it was licorice flavored and came in a small bucket with a teeny weeny little hammer.

Mmm Licorice Flavored Coal!  Yum!

Mind you, one year I actually did find a real lump of coal and gave him one of his own along with the licorice lump and an article of clothing.  I think it was gloves that year.   He also got a haul of goodies that he really wanted but the gloves he used all that season – or so I was told.  Philadelphia and the suburbs get quite cold in winter.

If You Hear Your Dog’s Toenails – You Aren’t Getting Enough Exercise

Lately, Rack has gotten lazy.
Consequently, I’ve taken advantage of that as well.

Ok I got lazy too.

But I got better and I made sure Rack got better too.

I noticed that Rack, being a “Social Eater” didn’t want to eat his food unless I’m watching him.  Strange mutt.  He’d get excited and decide to eat once he got back after our march around town. 

We have a couple different routes, all made of loops around specific blocks.  The rectangular blocks here are all 1/2 mile.  If you have Exercise OCD, you’d love it.  Pick a block, any block and if it’s “square” it’s 1/2 mile.

Or so.

Rack, being a social critter, decided that now that he hauled my own bulk out of bed, he’d go out and see who else is awake at stupid o’clock, also known as 5:30 in the morning.   Sniffed the food and started heading to the front door, did you?  Fine, let me get your leash.  Hey, I’m back here dog!

We’d go out of the front door into the brightening morning, listen to the songs of the crickets and semi-trucks a mile or three away on I-95, and get about one block in.  He knows the neighborhood well, so he’d start to herd me back to the front door.

Yes, I am being herded.  Yes, my nickname is Moose.  Yes, a Moose is being Herded by A McNab Dog in Florida.

He is very insistent you know.

So after a truncated walk that happened because none of his friends were out, I’d get towed home by his 45 pounds.  I guess he really did want that food.

Repeat this for a couple days.  I started to notice that I could hear his toes tick on the Florida Tiles in the house.

I know the name is redundant.  The nearest state to my house is The Bahamas, not Georgia.

This all means that I had to break out the electric sander and file down his toenails.  It’s an appliance that looks like a Dremel, spins at 5000 rpm and has a little sanding cylinder on the end of it.   If I ever run out of sanding cylinders, it conveniently will take Dremel bits.  It is a dog foot care device I can replace parts at the hardware store.  Yes, it is strange, but that is my life.  Everything is a bit odd and if you did a documentary of me, you’d have to tilt the camera 30 degrees so it would be filmed like the bad guys in the old campy Batman show from the 1960s.

Come on, Chum, it’s time for a walk.

You see while he’s slacking on his walk, my own weight went up a pound.   Sure on a big guy, a pound isn’t much but it’s time to stop this slacking.  A Dog Walk is much more than mere exercise, it’s a bonding experience, and a learning experience for both of us.  If you are out on a walk, your dog will burn energy.  That’s energy he doesn’t burn up in the house chewing up the couch pillows or the recliner.  If the energy isn’t there, he doesn’t turn into a bouncing spring and pounce on the neighbor’s dog either.

They tend not to like that and it gives you a bad reputation.

Oh, yes it does.  We talk.  We talk about you when you’re gone too.   You know who you are and who doesn’t pick up after your dog.

That’s a different story.

I started taking Rack out on longer and longer walks over on the other side of the Drive.  I’ve walked under the one stand of Australian Pines that is protected by a fascinating and very fierce woman who watches over those trees as they are something that brings her joy.  I’ve walked Rack out to the smallest town in Florida, Lazy Lake, a silly little one block affair with 38 people at my last count.  We’ve walked past the Wilton Manors Elementary School, chock full of students who are amazingly interested in learning from extremely proactive and involved teachers.

Wilton Manors is a fascinating town, and I am wearing out my sneakers seeing a lot of it lately.

I’ve lost that pound and more and Rack’s toenails have stopped ticking on the off white floors in my house.  The benefit is that he’s not watching over me as much as he was earlier.  A tired dog is definitely a happy dog.

Too Much Food? Try a Deconstructed Turkey Instead

This particular drama happened to start back in early November.

Bill, my neighbor from across the street said that I was going to be getting a turkey for the holidays.
Great!  I like turkey.  It isn’t Lobster, but I don’t have a lobster pot and the idea of plunging a creature into a pot of boiling water is a bit “Medieval” for me.

But nobody likes giant hunks of leftover turkey lurking in the refrigerator or freezer.   I literally had little bags of leftovers from last year’s Thanksgiving feast in July.

To compound the drama, I was told it could be as much as a 30 pound bird.

THIRTY FREAKIN’ POUNDS!

As the drum beat of the clock and the march of time got closer to the actual day, we kept thinking about what to do with a 30 pound bird.   I’m the only one in the house who eats turkey, and while I can pass a platter back to Bill and Lisa, I was going to be on my own for the Lion’s Share of the roast.

I don’t have a Lion handy.

I came across an additional problem.  I hate dried out turkey.  I mean let’s at least “honor” the animal who died for your table by preparing it well.  Lets not overcook the breast.

This problem is because Turkey Breast should be cooked to an internal temperature of 140, Turkey Thighs are to 180F.  Dark Meat likes it hot, White Meat likes it cooler.

So I decided to butcher this bird down into pieces.

When the actual bird arrived, it was a big bird,but only 17.45 pounds according to the tag.

Great!  I had a more manageable bird, but it was still too large for my refrigerator.

I defrosted it partially and went to work.

Cut the bird into pieces.  Wings in one bag.   Each thigh and drumstick in their own bag.   The main body, the white meat went into four different bags.  The giblets and the neck are in my refrigerator and I’ll be making them separate.

So great!  Now I have a full freezer and one drumstick and thigh in my refrigerator.

The recipe is dead simple!  Of course it is, all my recipes are once I break them down.

Cook your Dark Meats separate from the White Meats.

Season the parts with a rub.  In my case, I used the Sylvia’s Secret Chicken Rub.  Since Sylvia was the Queen of Soul Food, she needed a sceptre, and I suggested a turkey drumstick.

All this silliness aside it was cooked as such.

  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Turn heat on oven down to 350 and place prepared Turkey Parts in the oven.
  • Place Turkey in a baking pan or cookie sheet after rubbing with your favorite spices.
  • Roast DARK Turkey parts for 1 hour or WHITE Turkey parts for 45 minutes and test the internal temperature on the thickest part of the meat.
  • The Turkey parts may not be done at this point, but check every 10 minutes from this point forward.
  • For White Meat, it is done when the meat reaches 140F.
  • For Dark Meat, it is done when the meat reaches 180F.

If you really want a treat, you can roast your favorite vegetables at the same time.  A Potato or Sweet Potato both will roast in roughly an hour at this temperature.  Just score the skin on the potato, and add some spices at this point against the skin inside of the aluminium foil wrap.

I had mine with some Stove Top Stuffing but that really is just because I was being traditional.

The benefits are that you can cook just what you want, and since you are only roasting for an hour or so, plus or minus, you aren’t heating your house for three hours.  

Who wants that hassle?

Too much?  Pass some across the street to Bill and Lisa.  They like Turkey too!

Asking for a Day Off and Two Hunters In The Woods

Two Hunters in the Woods When One Collapses

He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed.

The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?”

The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”
There is a silence, and then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”

Asking for A Day Off

A worker goes up to his boss and asks:
Worker: Hey, sir, I’m having a kid, can I have the day off?
Boss:Sure go ahead

The next day, the worker comes in and the boss asks:
Boss: Hey! Is it a boy or a girl?
To which the worker replies: “I don’t know, but I will tell you in nine months.”