French Toast, Finally!

It was a meal I had to plan for.

What kind of bread to make?

I solved that with the Pumpkin Yogurt Bread. I didn’t want to take the time to get out the loaf pans and grease them up and … (cue the teenager in me) it just is SOOO PONDEROUS!!!

First I had to get the ingredients but found the pumpkin pie spice had been used up last November when it was actually “normal” to make a pie.

Find that recipe and make up the spice.  Oooh, it smells like November!

Then put the recipe to use by making the bread.

There’s a problem with making bread in the bread machine.  They cook unevenly.  If you have an “Upright Loaf” in a tall bucket, instead of being wide, the bottoms of the loaves get “well done”.  That is to say you end up with something that would rival some Roman Empire Era Produced Ceramic Tiles that vaguely looks like bread.  Toss in an explosion from Mount Vesuvius and while Pompeii would get buried, the bottoms of these loaves could possibly survive.

Except.

I wanted French Toast.  Those tough bread bottom pieces would actually serve me well.  Sure, you could kill a man with one tossed the right way, but soaked in Egg?

It would be wonderful.

My weekend culinary project.  Breakfast.  It only takes four hours to make.   Including all the standing around with baker’s OCD staring at the bread machine like an old Liz Taylor joke?

What does Liz Taylor do while waiting for the microwave?   She screams at it “HURRY!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Blame Joan Rivers for that one.

After hovering over the machine, it decanted well.  I sliced off the inedible heel and set it aside.  Tomorrow was time.

And time came.

Two eggs, a splash of milk, a dusting of cinnamon to taste.
Whisk it until it begins to froth. 
Place the floor tile sized piece of bread in the yellow puddle of eggy goodness.

At that time I began to poke at it like a caged beast.

Grrr, soak up that egg!

Making up a mug of coffee would occupy my time.  Here’s hoping that the caffeine hits after the cooking is done.

Poke at the floor tile obsessively a bit more.  Flip that beast over for the soft side down to sop up some more egg.

Consider what it would take to get this piece of bread into the upper atmosphere and whether atmospheric braking would slow it down enough that it would be cooked by the time it landed.  Mentally note that if you did that you had to be nearby to fight off everything from Ants to Killer Bees, Reticulated Pythons named Monty, and a host of introduced beasts that were rarely helpful to the environment.

Plan B.

Pick the egg shell off the floor and walk over to the now hot griddle.  Warmed electrically to 375F, a plank of cast aluminium casts off a significant amount of heat.  Spread some butter on the griddle that immediately infuses the room with the sound of sizzle and the scent of Elsie the Cow.

Stab with a fork that Roman Pumpkin Floor Tile rescued from an Aerospace fate worse than death.

Hey, it’s soft! 

Allow the excess to drip off and plop it down on the butter.

As the heat hit this eggy slab of bread, it sang.  The room sizzled.  Poke at it with a pointy fork again to make sure it didn’t stick.

Nope, we’re good!

I let it cook to a golden crust and flip.  Time to repeat.

After that finished, pour the left over egg wash onto the skillet and soak up the rest of the butter while making the end to a great breakfast.

Sometimes good things really do come to those who wait.  Even if it takes three different recipes to make it all come together and the better part of an afternoon with an overnight sleepover party in the fridge with the mango jelly.

Yes, serve with Mango Jelly for a little tart bite, Vermont Maple Syrup warmed to top it off.

Goodbye Lisa

We met a few months after I moved into my current home, probably back in 2007 or so.

Your dog, Babygirl had gotten loose.  Babygirl, a red nosed pitbull, getting loose was like saying a love sponge was sent waddling down a driveway to shower you with licks.  Dog’s personalities always reflect their owners.  This was a friendly dog.

Your son Bill, had gone out after her, apologizing the entire way.

I remember seeing you at the door waving and saying hello, then ducking back into the apartment.

You weren’t the kind of person that got out and about the town, so by the time we met you, it was our good luck that you moved in across the street. 

We grew to trade recipes.  Later meals would be shuttled across the street.  You made an amazing Lamb Dinner, one that I looked forward to having every year.  The roast beef was excellent, and served up the way I liked them, rare.  I’d return the favor with pulled pork, roast chicken, and the baked goods that I enjoyed making. 

I knew not to bring over the Mango jelly and the raw fruit, you couldn’t have them in the house.

It became a warm friendship.  Whenever I’d leave the house, most times, I would just wave at the window where you sat behind.  We knew that nothing would happen without your notice so we were fortunate to have the best burglar alarm we could, a neighbor watching over us.

Your retirement meant that we’d be doing the occasional meals together, trading war stories, hearing about how it was in hurricanes past and how we could better integrate in this environment here in South Florida.  Despite what it appears to snowbirds, South Florida is not as straightforward a place to live as you may expect.

Some of the pictures of our life in the neighborhood together became treasured.  I managed to get your Babygirl to pose, and she wouldn’t do that for just anyone.  That picture is still on your wall today, Babygirl smiling in the sun at me, as if to tell me that her own time was short.

Ellie came later and we all laughed as she would get out and run around the neighborhood.  That is to say, I’d laugh at the time, and you’d laugh later.

Your laughter was always there.  Somewhat reserved for good friends only, we got to see it often.

Ellie is a barky dog with a hair trigger, and she is why I got started waving at your window long before I left the property.  She’d bark at me when I was on my own front porch, but she accepted our presence over here and later nearer to the house.  I am one of the few “outsiders” that can calm her down.

Ellie was your protector and companion.  She knew what was happening long before we did, and became more protective as a result.

We all had to intervene on you more than once when you tried to walk her.  Ellie could tow my Jeep!  So for you, walking the dog wasn’t in the cards.  You weren’t quite up to that task.

As your cancer became apparent and finally diagnosed, we all did what we could to watch over you.

Ellie was there by your side, warning people to stay away.
Bill helped you get to and from your appointments and kept us filled in on events.

It gave me an excuse to bake more and put on another 5 pounds that I have to take off.  On the other hand, maybe all that food helped you stay a little longer, we’ll never know.

Eventually you were housebound.  We have your key still in the hiding place.

I had to come over once to help you with a delivery when everyone was gone.  I learned at that point that Ellie completely trusted me.  She was barking at the nonsense coming in at the front door, me.  I told her “Ellie, it’s OK” and she quieted down completely behind the closed bedroom door.

What I didn’t tell you was I was completely out of my depth.  I was in your house setting things up for your medical apparatus.  It does go together like the pictures, but that didn’t help, I was too flustered to remember my glasses.

Not a good time to go in blind, was it?

Eventually I got you settled in, and went home.  Half an hour later I was back when you got a delivery.  Signing for that and taking it in was a bit of a stretch but I became your Other Son (with a wink) and it got to where it was going.

That was the last time I saw you.  The reports coming from Bill became more dark, like an approaching thunderstorm in the wet season.

Finally the 24 hour nurses came.  That went on only for a week.

Yesterday, in the rain, you left.  It was right after 5PM.

Goodbye Lisa, we all will miss you.

Pumpkin Yogurt Bread Recipe

I had been chasing this can around the kitchen for far too long.

Having pulled it down from the counter, it was now or never.  I was going to do something with it.

I’m not really a fan of Pumpkin Pie.  Oh sure, I’ll eat it and enjoy it if it is offered.  I will just never go out to buy the stuff if I have a different choice.

Key Lime Pie anyone?  How about Cherry Pie?

So the canned Pumpkin sat.   I was going to make some dog biscuits with it.  I was going to make a pie to take with us to a party. 

I had plans for it.  But mostly the can just got shuffled around.

I had enough of that. 

All of that nonsense was running through my mind when I was looking to be creative over the weekend.   I had a list of recipes that I wanted to make.  Since the new bread machine came with them I thought I would try it out. 

This one popped out at me.  I could get rid of the Pumpkin and make something I liked at one step.

It turned out well, but the bread machine didn’t exactly like the recipe.  The fix was simple.  When you add all the ingredients, add the brown sugar first.

I was taught that when you cook with brown sugar, always pack it into the measuring cup to get an accurate measurement.  When I added the brown sugar last, the puck of the brown sugar sat on top like a surfer never getting mixed into the bread machine.  Break the puck up into pieces then add the rest of the ingredients to the bread machine bucket.

If you make this recipe in a stand mixer, you won’t have this problem.

At any rate…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Canned Pumpkin  (I used the entire can of 12 ounces and it was fine)
  • 1/3 Cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter, Softened
  • 3 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour, however you can substitute up to 1 1/4 cup Whole Wheat flour for a different flavor.
  • 1 1/2 Tesapoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice – Recipe for spice is here!
  • 1 3/4 Teaspoons Yeast

Process for Bread Machine

  • Add ingredients in order listed.
  • Break up Brown Sugar before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cook in bread machine on your Sweet Bread Cycle

Process for conventional oven

  • Mix all ingredients in your stand mixer with dough hook until smooth.
  • Pour batter into greased 9 inch bread pans
  • Bake at 325 F for at least 50 minutes, or until done.
  • “Done” happens when it passes the Toothpick test, so look at it around 50 and see where you’re at.

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…