Pumpkin Pie Spice – For When You Only Need A Little

I bake.  A LOT.

I had all this stuff out in the kitchen on hand.  In fact my spice rack got so large that we had to put some hanging wire spice racks on the wall behind the door.  Six feet worth of spices.

You may have all four spices on hand.  If you make things like Gingerbread or Spiced Bread, you certainly have most of it. 

The Allspice is a bit more uncommon in American Cuisine, but I had it leftover from my move here back in 2006.  It is popular in Middle Eastern and Caribbean cuisine, so if you ever tried to make some of that, you’d have it around.  

Pumpkin Pie Spice on the other hand is a bit more of a single purpose thing.  It goes into pies.  It goes into some breads, usually with a can of pumpkin when you want “That Taste”.  But other than that, I’m hard pressed to figure out why it is here.  A small can of the stuff lasted us for years.

Why keep it when the recipe is so simple?

Equal Parts of four spices.

I needed a teaspoon of the stuff.  So the recipe is for exactly one teaspoon.   If you need more, scale it up.  If you need less, scale it down or just make it and take what you need.  It’s that simple.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

Preparation:

  • Add to a jar equal parts of all four spices.
  • Mix the spices evenly until done.
  • Use as your recipe would require.

Remember, the recipe may be scaled to your needs.  If you need more, just double or triple it.  If you have leftover spice, store as normal or add to a candle or potpourri.

What starts with F and ends with K

What starts with an “F” and ends with a “K”

A first-grade teacher, Ms Brooks, was having trouble with one of her students. The teacher asked, “Harry, what’s your problem?”
Harry answered, “I’m too smart for the 1st grade. My sister is in the 3rd grade and I’m smarter than she is! I think I should be in the 3rd grade too!”

Ms. Brooks had enough. She took Harry to the principal’s office.

While Harry waited in the outer office, the teacher explained to the principal what the situation was. The principal told Ms. Brooks he would give the boy a test. If he failed to answer any of his questions he was to go back to the 1st grade and behave. She agreed.
Harry was brought in and the conditions were explained to him and he agreed to take the test.

Principal: “What is 3 x 3?”
Harry: “9.”

Principal: “What is 6 x 6?”
Harry: “36.”

And so it went with every question the principal thought a 3rd grader should know.
The principal looks at Ms. Brooks and tells her, “I think Harry can go to the 3rd grade.”
Ms. Brooks says to the principal, “Let me ask him some questions.”

The principal and Harry both agreed.
Ms. Brooks asks, “What does a cow have four of that I have only two of?”
Harry, after a moment: “Legs.”

Ms Brooks: “What is in your pants that you have but I do not have?”
The principal wondered why would she ask such a question!
Harry replied: “Pockets.”

Ms. Brooks: “What does a dog do that a man steps into?”
Harry: “Pants.”
The principal sat forward with his mouth hanging open.

Ms. Brooks: “What goes in hard and pink then comes out soft and sticky?”
The principal’s eyes opened really wide and before he could stop the answer, Harry replied, “Bubble gum.”
Ms. Brooks: “What does a man do standing up, a woman does sitting down and a dog does on three legs?”
Harry: “Shake hands.”

The principal was trembling.

Ms. Brooks: “What word starts with an ‘F’ and ends in ‘K’ that means a lot of heat and excitement?”
Harry: “Firetruck.”
The principal breathed a sigh of relief and told the teacher, “Put Harry in the fifth-grade, I got the last six questions wrong… “

Joe’s Tavern

Joe’s Tavern

A man comes home from the bar, drunk, late one night. Upon entering, he immediately explains to his wife what happened.

“You’re never going to believe this, but I was just at a bar where you sit in lounge chairs, beautiful women serve you, and there are brass toilets!”

His wife, thinking he’s just drunk, doesn’t believe him. “Really? What was the name of the bar?” she asks.

“Joe’s Tavern,” he replies.

She takes out the phone book and looks up the bar. She finds a “Joe’s Tavern” in it, and calls the number. A man picks up.

“Excuse me,” she asks, “but is this Joe’s Tavern?”

“Yes it is,” replies the man.

“My husband claims he was just at your bar. At your bar, do you sit in comfortable lounge chairs?”

“Yes.”

“Do beautiful women serve you?”

“Yes.”

“Are there brass toilets?”

No response. Suddenly, she hears the man shout. “Hey Louey! I just found the guy who peed in your tuba!”

I-95 North, Deerfield Beach, Florida

I purposely drive Jeep Wranglers because they are simple.

My own 2002 Jeep has only about 44,000 miles on it since I don’t drive much.  That’s not the Jeep’s thought.  It only means that every time I take the car out, it is like driving a brand spanking new Jeep.

I truly enjoy the experience.

But they are a simple beast.  The newer ones have succumbed to the bigger is better motto.  That means that in order to have my own simple car, I will hang onto it as long as possible. 

A Data Center has its own place, just not in my car.  Since they don’t make the VW Thing, or the Ford Model A, I’ll hang onto this one.  At this point it qualifies for Classic Plates, so I guess it is a classic. 

It’s my third one, having had a CJ 7 and an earlier TJ just like this. 

Simplicity has its place, but it doesn’t have to be quite as simple as that. 

Being a technology nut, I do have my way of getting my fix while driving.  While the car has the old school needles and dials on the dashboard, I have a way of getting to the computer and getting more information.  Ironic that I go out of my way to get the world’s simplest car and end up “tarting” it up with gadgets, isn’t it?

Sure, more distracted drivers you may say.  Did you ask the guy in that white car that was texting when I passed?

Point taken.  I’ll be careful.  No worse though than more “modern” cars with all that glowy crap on their dashes, right?

This was what is for me a Long Trip.  I had to plan for it.  Normally all I ever do is drive around town, and by town, I mean a little 3 by 1 mile island with an occasional swim across the river to the neighboring town where the Post Office is.  Maybe two miles when I do that, or perhaps three.

No, I was leaving the area and going up to the next county way up there in another area code.

Yes, I was going to Wellington. 

Now no complaints there, I was visiting Larry and Kathie, my Godmother and her husband.  Great people. 

But it did give me an excuse to break out the OBD II Module and use the software to talk to the phone.  I’m trundling down the highway in my big black and tan beast, making sure to stay well beyond 2 seconds behind the guy in front of me. 

An occasional glance at the display tells me that the EPA was confused when they tested the car.  15MPG is not realistic unless you’re stuck in traffic.

At normal highway speeds, the speed limit in Broward County, FL on I-95 North on a clear day with few other drivers, is 65MPH.  A tick over 100KPH for my friends outside of the US.  That was basically what I was doing because I noticed a long time ago there is a built in speedometer error of around 5 percent.  If the Speedo is doing 65, I am really only doing 62.  Makes me wonder if someone at the Gov’mint got with the car dealers and said to dial it down so the dummies didn’t speed quite so badly.

62 MPH is 100 KPH.

I’m humming along on giant 31 inch black donuts, in the not-quite-fast-lane glancing at the phone.  18MPG. 

Groan.  I can do better than that. 

I slowly pass that white Toyota with the texting man behind the wheel who doesn’t realize that TXT=RIP.

He pulls off at the next exit and I’m able to slow down a little bit after I get into Palm Beach County with a THUMP at the border.  The canal is the county line. 

The aerodynamics of a Jeep Wrangler are as bad as you may expect.  Think of an adult’s shoe box.  Then park a smaller child’s shoebox on top that is one half the size.  Now try to push that beast forward through the air at Highway Speeds.

Clearly this isn’t a vehicle for high speeds.

I eventually get off the road at Forest Hill Avenue.  West Palm Beach, FL, I believe. 

Turn West.  Here’s where I realize if I relax I can see some silly numbers.  

No, really, the sun glare lets me see the phone as clearly as the dash.  21.8MPG.  Not bad for a 4 liter 6 cylinder motor pushing 2 tons of steel and plastic.

Eventually I get to Larry and Kathie’s place for a long overdue visit.  Empty out the car because having a Jeep means that you can’t leave anything in it.  Windows are made out of Cling Film and held together with Zippers.

Security?   We don’t need no stinking security.

Slap a giant grey metal flying saucer over the steering wheel and slide a metal club in there to lock it all in place.

Hi Larry, Hi Kathie, Great to see you!  Let me set down all this crap…

I See You!

Security Cameras.

They’re interesting beasts.  I have installed them professionally, and we installed one at home.

They’re not all they’re cracked up to be, but there are some things to be aware of.

Outdoor cameras don’t always perform as well as you might expect.

I think this was what I was being told when I received this picture.  Partly at any rate, and partly because Kevin was gone and looking at my porch from the Auto Train.  He was sitting there most likely somewhere in Georgia on that night, maybe feeling lonely, missing me, or just being curious as to whether he could catch me coming and going.

I’m a TV game now.

We’ve had the DVR, that’s like a VCR but no tapes used, for about 4 months now. 

We’ve seen some pretty odd things in it.  The scooters that ride past the house in the small hours amused me, but I am in Florida and a scooter can be viable as a “daily driver” here – if you don’t mind being hunted down by snowbirds who have yet to learn to drive.

The ducks on the lawn are amusing to watch.  The hedges that are “in frame” are visited each morning by them when they’re grubbing around in my indifferently maintained gardens.

No, really, there are hedges there, you just can’t see them.  On the left of that pole.  See the shadow?  That’s a hedge although you couldn’t prove it by this picture.

And that’s the rub.  They promise 30 feet of Night Vision, typically, although some promise more.   It is like the mileage claims for a car when they say “your mileage may vary”.

My version of that is “Never Trust A Chinese Manufacturer”.

You couldn’t use that picture in court to prove that yours truly was at the front door with his faithful sidekick, Rack the McNab Dog, could you?

You could try.  I’ve heard some pretty sleazy tricks in what passes for a court room in this country, and I try to avoid court rooms as a general rule.

So a few basic rules?  I’ll keep them as brief as possible.

TVL – TV lines.  We’re all used to HD TV now.  This camera is Standard Def.  Old school square, just like all the DVRs that are being dumped.  Do you need HD?  You might, but HD Is expensive.  This camera is 420 TVL (Lines) and Standard Def.

Night Vision.  They slap that array of Infrared LEDs around the lens of the camera.  It puts out a glow.  It will have a “Feet of Vision” attached.  Divide that by two to get your real distance, seriously.  Just like the MPG scores on a car, your mileage may vary.  After all, I can get 40 MPG rolling down hill in my Jeep at 40 MPH.  I’ve seen it.

HD vs SD.  My own opinion is why not both.  Put SD cameras (not as sharp) on things that you will watch from “close up” like your front door, and then put the good HD cameras on things that you want to see crisply.   You may even be able to use fewer cameras by using more HD where you need it.   Instead of my having two cameras on the driveway and one that leaks onto the front yard, one HD camera may do it.  That will save a couple channels for use elsewhere.

Number of Channels.  My DVR will record up to 8 channels.  Some do 4.  The most I have ever seen is 16.  You probably don’t need 16.  Really, you don’t.  You will want to save recordings, so get a big hard drive for the machine of at least 1 TB and roll with it.  It doesn’t have to be fast since you’re not recording a lot all at once.

I will say though after looking at that picture… it needs to have the camera moved.  That’s just too fuzzy to be worthwhile.   Maybe closer to the front door.

I wonder if I can convince someone else to go up on the ladder.  I hate those ladders.  Nothing looks more ridiculous than a tall man well over 6 feet trying to balance on one of those things.

So? Are They Friendly? If I have to ask…

Have you ever been out and saw someone dumbwalking?

I did at 5:40 in the morning on this particular day.

More importantly they were “on my planet”, which is to say they were so involved in texting or playing some game that the guy didn’t realize that he was about to have a Dog Incident.

Not to worry, I had read Rack’s reaction to the two Schnauzers or Scotties and nothing happened.

Hey, Buddy, Pay Attention, you Bonehead!

Actually I defused the situation a lot more politely.   Having seen this person before, I knew his dogs were out of control.  While Mr X was standing there engrossed in what he was doing on the small screen instead of building a relationship with these two living and breathing creatures, those same creatures had spotted us.

His dogs had went into an aggressive stance.  They crossed to his rear and formed an X across his back with the leashes.  Rack at this time had walked to the far side of me and had stretched out my arm to get as far away as possible.

I used The Voice.  This is the Command Voice that I can use well.  Lots of booming sound, designed to wake someone up and draw attention.

“Are They Friendly?”

I knew better, having seen these dogs before, I had seen them lunging and growling both at me, my dog, and others in the same situation.  Clearly this is someone who should not have a dog, let alone two.

“Oh Sure, they’re friendly!”  Then he noticed it was me and looked away as far as possible.  As he was gathering his dogs together, I passed.

Of course my thumb had just flicked the safety switch on my Taser Flashlight that was in my pocket, and I had it out at my opposite side.  I pretended to look at an object with the light thereby proving that everything was energized in case I needed protection.  It either is a Flashlight or a Taser but not both.  I generally need to watch, and that flashlight gets taken out of the pocket other than to light my path a startling amount of times, roughly every fourth or fifth walk.

Having gone through a dog bite incident, I simply wasn’t going to walk blindly into that situation again.  There are just too many bad dog owners out there.  The dogs can be trained.  The people are questionable.

I see this far too often.   Living in a resort town, Wilton Manors, people come here literally from all over the world.  They take a lot of time and effort to get here.   So what do they do when they get here?  Pull out the smartphone, sit in front of a coffee shop, and ignore the world.

I could have saved you vacationers a lot of time, if you really wanted to use that phone, you could have done that on your own couch.

As for the locals who have the little yappers?  A dog is a dog is a dog.  They all can be trained, even the dinky little Frou Frou dogs that city dwellers have a preference for and some people feel it is appropriate to stuff into a purse.  That is to say that somewhere deep down there is that spirit of a Wolf.  If you don’t take control of your dog, your dog will take control of you.

You have been “owned”.  Or “Pwned” as Them Thar Kids say now a days.  And it is never appropriate to stuff a dog into a purse.  A dog is not an object, it is an intelligent and sentient being.

Your dog will take control of the situation.  Since dogs are territorial beasts, they will growl, show teeth, and go to protect what they think their territory is.  That is to say, you.

On the other hand, a well trained dog is welcomed just about anywhere.  Many restaurants and shops will allow a well trained dog in.  If your dog is lunging and growling and barking, it is not well trained and simply does not belong in public.

Some people don’t need a dog, a plush toy would do, or even a picture of a plush toy may be more appropriate.

So every time you go out and see a dog in a shop or a restaurant, watch the interaction.  It really isn’t that hard to tell if the person is over their head and needs training.   The dog has trained them to be in the back seat and is now in charge anyway.

As for the rest of our walk?  I got well away from that dumbwalker and dropped Rack’s leash.  When there

are no dogs around, he’s being trained to be a “Good Citizen”.  For now, this is only at the early walk.  The other walks are a bit too intense.  I intend to get him to the point where he can walk off leash anywhere, whether there are other dogs there or not.  The minute I drop Rack’s leash, he circles back and glues himself to my leg.  Then he looks up at me for suggestions.

Where’re we gonna go, Dad?  Huh?  Walkies?  GREAT!

Mango Jam Recipe, Fresh from the Bread Machine

I will admit it, Mangoes are something of an obsession with me.

My neighbor has a huge Mango tree that has just the right kind of fruit, Hagen Mangoes.  They’re beyond sweet, tasty and grow as large as 2 pounds each.

Unfortunately he “trimmed” the tree, which is to say he “elevated” the tree.  This means that the lowest fruit is more than my own reach of 8 feet from the ground.  Since it is a mature tree, the top leaves of it are at least 30 feet from the ground.

This means that in order to get the fruit, I have to use a Fruit Picking Pole, another pole duct taped to it, and maybe even a ladder.  It also means that there will be fruit left on the highest branches to mature to an almost melon size and weight.  What grows up, must fall down, and a 2 pound fruit will do some major damage when it crashes to the ground.

If you have a fruit tree, trim it like an umbrella, broad and not tall.  It will make it easier for you to pick later.

At any rate, what is now falling is the last fruit of the year.  So I wanted to do it justice by making something out of it.  I went in search for a good fruit Jam recipe and found an excellent one.  This will work with anything with a “pudding” consistency so I suspect if you wanted to make a banana jelly it would work too.  Of course if you want to save calories, you can reduce sugar by substituting in some Stevia or other alternate non-liquid granulated sweetener.  I did in the first batch, and went all sugar in the second batch, and both were wonderful.  You just couldn’t tell the difference.

The nice thing about it was that I was able to use this on my bread machine’s Jam and Jelly setting.  No effort at all.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups chunked ripe Mango pieces.
  • 1 Cup Sugar or other granulated sweetener such as Stevia as recommended on the package for substitution.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice.
  • 1 Package of unsweetened or sugar free Fruit Pectin.

Process:

  • Cut up your Mangoes into chunks until you have four cups of the fruit.
  • Mash slightly the Mangoes, and add to the bread machine’s bucket with impeller blade in place.
  • Add 1 Cup of Sugar or sweeteners.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice.
  • Add 1 Packet of Unsweetened SureJell Fruit Pectin.
  • Select Jam and Jelly program on your bread machine and press start.
  • Alternately, this may be cooked on medium on the stove until the jam begins to set.

I did use this recipe to can some Mango Jam for later by boiling the jars and lids to sterilize, then boiling the jars to re-sterilize and set the lids.  With all Canning Recipes, you are on your own to decide how long to store the result.

In the specific case of the second go with this recipe, I did my first ever canning without any help, so it really is a “Science Experiment” for me!

The Jam was a success and tasted wonderful on French Toast or with Peanut Butter on some homemade gingery bread.

You do bake your own bread don’t you?  If so, Pat’s Pizza Dough is a great basic recipe, or just search this blog for things like Cinnamon Muffins or Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  I can guarantee that all of those will work out well for French Toast since I have used them all for that once they got a little past their peak.

Rack’s Breakfast In Bed

Yep, I’m creating a monster.

I realize that I’ve caved, given in, turned into a tower of jello, but it’s been a very stressful month for a very fearful dog.

… and that would be a lot of jello.

It has been raining since June and it is now Mid July.

No not every minute, this is Florida in the Wet Season and we don’t need an Ark.

I don’t mind the rain, and neither does Rack.  The problem is the Thunder that comes along with it.  Many dogs are terrified of Thunder.  Thor using his hammer making the world quake occasionally is bad enough, but this is the Land Where Thunder is Born.

They shouldn’t have named the place after flowers.  Thunder would be a better name at this time of year. Or at least Rain.

Rack being a fearful dog on a good day hides most of the day away now.  I’m only 2 miles from the ocean here.  There are usually storms Just Off Shore before the dawn, and sometimes they roll on land to water those flowers and make more pet mosquitoes so people can swat them and curse them by the pool and wonder if Mr Burns wasn’t right in putting a Dome over Springfield.

No, really, can we build a dome?  Pump it full of DDT?  I’ll even let people leave.

Well, Most people anyway.  Do take your pets.  The termites will be gone too.

Maybe in an alternate universe we can all slide in and have no mosquitoes to feed the birds.

None of that helps my Rack in the corner vibrating in fear as the windows vibrate from a lightning strike that hit my block.

I get him out for the walk if the lightning is more than 15 seconds away.  While lightning can strike anywhere within 5 miles of the actual cell, I’m thinking that I don’t make as appetizing a target as those power towers that run up and down Dixie Highway or the Shoppes do.  15 seconds are 3 miles, roughly, at 5 seconds per mile between flash and boom.

Dutifully I check radar on the computer or phone, set out plenty of water, some food, and hope beyond hope that Rack will “Grow a Pair” and eat breakfast.

Not Gonna Happen.

We get back in after a terrifying walk around the block because deep rumbling too low for me to hear means that there was a thunderstorm on my planet.   Rack was vibrating at the door to get in and he literally bolts for his crate, his corner under the table, or his bed.

And there he will stay until the rain stops.

Or until the next walk comes and I pick the little guy up and carry him to the door shivering to take him out again into that steamy noisy hell-hole that I call my street.

However.

Scare the hell out of your dog week happened in the middle of all of this chaos.  You may call it The Fourth Of July instead.

Rack hated it.  He wanted to be anywhere else.

I sat in my house on the actual night of July Fourth in a smaller version of my own war video.  Surrounded on all sides by Rocket’s Red Glare, whistling, and of course the report of a mortar being fired followed by an airborne explosion.

None of this was amusing to a fearful dog.  He skipped a meal that day and the next.  I was able to get him to eat the prior night’s bowl of kibble mid afternoon on the next day.

Forget the second bowl, they were back at it firing off rockets to scare off the evil demons in the sky, or the British, or just to have a Bit Of Fun.

The next day when it was only rain, I found myself wandering through my neighborhood wondering what was wrong.  Some sort of post holiday post traumatic stress disorder expecting explosions and whistles and general chaos was going through my own mind.  I know Rack saw it the same way.  Slinking from tree to shrub, he worked his way around the block.  He didn’t stand tall that night.

We did make it home in one piece, and it seemed to relax him that there were very few fireworks being shot off.  Vacationers perhaps, getting rid of a joyous armory before going back to a more sensible city where such things weren’t allowed.

Luckily it has been getting quieter.  The storms were at a better time of day for us.  Rack even managed to get a meal in without running for cover.

But that schedule thing?  Nope.  Not really going to work out.

I started helping him out.  Rack would hide, I’d give him his space.  After a while, I’d bring him his bowl.  If he ignored it, I’d crumble a cookie or three into the bowl.

Spoiled brat that he is, he is now accepting it for normal-ish.

I’d put the bowl by his bed.  He would melt into the bed and prove that the McNab Dog is versatile, but can be lazy at times.

Yes, he would just roll his head over to the bowl and eat.  Why not, who wouldn’t want breakfast in bed?

Except.

In this case Breakfast was being started at 10PM.  Yes, time for breakfast at night.  While a dog won’t necessarily starve themselves, they certainly will make you tear your hair out while you worry about when they will get around to eat sometimes.

We’ve worked out an agreement.  I put out the food.  He ignores it and eats it in his own good time if there isn’t anyone firing off fireworks or having celestial flash-booms in the area.  If there are, it may get eaten and I can obsess over timing regardless.

Silly lazy mutt.  Melting into the floor won’t help, but I will put the bowl there when you need it.

A Parrot and a Magician on a Ship

A Parrot and a Magician on a Ship

A Magician, who performs magic tricks on a ship had a parrot which helped him perform his tricks. One day, the parrot died so the magician replaced him with a new one.

On the night of his first show, the parrot would keep giving away his tricks “It’s in the hat”…”it’s up his sleeve”…”It’s under the table”

..frustrated, the magician cut his show short. Shortly after, there was a hurricane and the ship sunk, the magician and the parrot managed to get them selves onto a raft.

The first day passed and not a word was spoken, the magician and his parrot were sat there looking at each other waiting for help.

As day 2 started, the parrot is looking around confused and frustrated.

Eventually, the parrot turns to the magician and says “Alright, i give up. What have you done with the ship”.

A Day At The Races

A Day At The Races

Two female teachers took a group of pupils from years 1, 2 and 3 for a field trip to Epsom Racecourse. When it was time to take the children to the ‘bathroom’, it was decided that the girls would go with one teacher and the boys would go with the other.

The teacher assigned to the boys was waiting outside the men’s toilet when one of the boys came out and told her that none of them could reach the urinal. Having no choice, she went inside, helped the little boys with their pants, and began hoisting them up one by one, holding on to their ‘willies’ to direct the flow away from their clothes and shake them dry.

As she lifted one boy up, she couldn’t help but notice that he was unusually well endowed. Trying not to show that she was staring at his equipment the teacher said, ‘You must be in year 3?

‘No ma’am’, he replied. ‘I’m riding Atlantic Jewell in the next race, but I really appreciate your help.