Betty, Birthday, Briny’s

I knew that today would be a bit off.  Getting up at 4AM means that this afternoon will be a bit draggy, so when I got back from the extra early dog walk, I put up a supply of extra strong iced tea. 

Good for what ails ya!

I wandered out into the predawn gloom and said hello to my neighbor Vern as he went out to pick up his paper. 

Going out into the city, I was mentally scratching my head.  Trying to bootstrap your mind at stupid o’clock simply isn’t always successful.

Rack didn’t care, we did a lap around town.  He’s getting used to his collar and now thinks it’s great fun to tow me.  Nope.  Won’t work.  I’m too big.

During the dog walk, I tend to let my mind wander free.  My feet are, may as well let my head go.  I didn’t have anything pressing to write about, the weekend wasn’t terribly exciting.   I did bake a cake, but since it was a mix, it didn’t bring anything interesting to the table.

Good cake though, the addition of a moist sheen of cocoa mixed with cake batter gave it an iced look without the extra four hundred thousand calories of buttercream.

Getting back into the house I started to get into the routine.  I walked into the bedroom and saw the picture of Betty and her two friends in the back of Kevin’s Mercedes on the rainy day we went to the Dixie Pig for barbecue.  That story was so outrageous, and the picture so good, that I considered writing about it again.

Coming into the Kitchen, I prepared something for the crock pot.  Probably it will be done by lunch since it is so early a start.  I was thinking about Betty’s 95th birthday and knew she would appreciate the meal.   Chicken Tikka with Yogurt, Raisins, Corn, Green Beans and either Rice or Quinoa.  She loves spicy food, and Indian is one of her favorites.

Slopping the chicken juice onto my clothes made for an early shower and probably an early laundry.

I walked back into the bedroom and saw the picture collage there.  Mom’s professional picture, the view from where my brother in law Mike proposed to my sister, and the picture of Betty and the “Golden Girls”.

Settling down at the laptop and looking through the pictures I have here, I realized that I did have something to share. 

Betty does like food, her Italian meals have always been excellent, although I think we could give her a run for her money with the red sauce we have been making lately.  Start with roasted Roma Tomatoes…

One time we took her to Briny’s Irish Pub.  It’s a mainstay here, and up until the time of the picture, you could always get an excellent Fish and Chips.   We stopped going because the chef changed and the food got less cutting edge and more mass market.  How tough is it to make french fries, really?

As we were sitting there, Betty had an excellent view of the New River.  We watched the Andrews Avenue bridge go up and down a couple times as we had our meal.   As I’m playing with the camera, I placed it on the table and told her to smile.  She looks like an ad for the place.  Showing her the picture in the little 2 inch screen, she squinted and said “Oh no! You can’t show that picture! It makes me look like I’m a drunk!”.  No, not really it makes you look like you’re enjoying yourself, and I think that was a diet soda.   Four years ago, it’s a bit difficult to remember what someone else was eating at a meal in a pub.  I’m pretty sure that I went for the fish and chips with a Guinness but I’m predictable that way.

Since I wasn’t able to get anywhere near her in New York, the closest being the North side of town over the weekend on a dog walk, it was a subconscious celebration for me.  I’m wondering if I’ll ever be able to get back up there at this rate.

Birthday cake, Spicy Chicken, and a Beer for us tonight.   We can’t be there, but we can be there in spirit.

Happy Birthday Betty, 95 and counting!

Happy Birthday Kevin. Here’s Your Cake!

Ok, so it is a slightly wrecky two layer chocolate cake, but BOY was it ever good!

It’s our thing here.  I make a three layer cake.  I freeze two layers.  I Ice one layer and turn that into dessert.  That way we get three different half cakes and they’re all fresh. 

Yes, I have indeed found a way to “Right-size” a cake.

Why Pink?  Burma-Shave!  I don’t know, I just saw that little bottle of red food color number whatever and thought why not?

Now to all you cake decorators out there, and you know who you are, the reason why the icing is uneven is because I’m crap at decorating.   The other thing is that you should always chill your icing before you put it on the cake.  Not to freezing, but “room temperature” is not the best idea for Buttercream Frosting.  The top layer slid a little bit in a tectonic shift that made it look like a San Andreas Fault fragment relocated to South Florida.

I’ll set the lawn chair upright in a second.

Anyway, it was damn good even if I do say so myself.  A bit too sweet icing if you ask me, but this is not my cake.  I also have enough icing leftover to do it again in all its Pink Glory.  If it were for me, I’d make up some chocolate ganache and turn the whole bloody thing into a giant brown truffle, but that’s not mine even if I will enjoy half of it’s pinkness.

Ladies, sing with me the song of your people:  “Mmmm Chocolate Truffles!”.

All hail the pink half wrecky-cake!  Nom Nom Nom.

Happy Birthday Pat!

It’s that time again!

It’s time for Pat’s Birthday!

This is what she’s getting! 

A Box of Random Goodies!

That is if the box made it.   I sent it parcel post last week.  Went up to Oakland Park P.O. on Dixie Highway, just over the other side of the line from Wilton Manors.

Nice folks up there, they always ask what smells so good in the box.

I tell them but I’m not saying until Pat gets the box.

I’ll probably hear something got crushed.
It usually leaves her scratching her head as to What on Earth was I thinking?

Something Granular,
Something Blue,
Something Baked,
Happy Birthday to You!

Happy First Birthday, Rack!

According to our admittedly sketchy math, this is Rack’s Birthday.

Not an Earth-shattering event, but something for me and mine to keep in mind.

Lettie, my old McNab dog passed in April, and I found Rack at the Dog Liberator‘s about a week later.

Losing Lettie, I was basically “ordered” to “go get another dog” by Kevin.  It helped me get through my own feelings of loss.   She was the Canine Ambassador to Snowbirds in Wilton Manors, even if she really didn’t care for the attention toward the end.

We finally see Rack at The Dog Liberator, April 21, 2013

We picked up Rack a week after we contacted Giselle.  The timing was for the best since she was able to help him come out of his shell enough for us to continue the work on the recuperation of this dog’s shattered psyche. 

Smart dogs don’t take well to shelters.  They cower and hide in the back of the cage and end up being put to sleep in much higher proportion than a less smart dog.  McNabs are the smartest around, and other similar breeds like Border Collies, Poodles, German Shepard Dogs, and the like will suffer the same fate.

Since we got him, he’s grown much more assertive.  He doesn’t hide in the crate when the train passes by a half mile away, but he still hides from the trash trucks all the same.  He still doesn’t like Wilton Drive and all that noisy traffic, but he’s no longer shivering in abject terror when we get there.   It’s fear but it’s more manageable and with time he’ll do well.

Whatever he went through before he ended up in the right hands with Gisele and finally us, did leave him with a fear of strangers.   We can manage that, it isn’t necessary that some snowbird gets to meet my dog.  Most back off when I tell them “He Won’t Let You” and leave the vague comment hang in the air.

He has discovered the joy of other dogs by leaping in mid air when he sees them a block away.   We’ve got to work on calming him down, silly puppy.

Giselle said that he was “About 7 Months Old” when we first spoke in April.   So I’m “doing the math”.  That means that today would be close enough to a year old today.  We’ll never know for sure, and this is a good a day as any.

There were a few stumbles when we got him.   It took a solid three months for us to get him fully dewormed and on food that he could tolerate.   Puppies don’t always digest their food well so we were giving him probiotics and switching the foods around until we found one he could tolerate.   Wellness Puppy food made him have loose stools, and apparently that is common even if it is a high quality food.  We switched to Merrick and Orijen and both are excellent foods that he tolerates exceedingly well.

We won’t be giving him “extra treats” today for his birthday, I don’t want to clean up extra mess outside on our walks.  His regular food is fine in a Kong or a tennis ball with a slit in it.   Those two toys keep him busy for a half hour at a time!

So, if you’re looking for a dog at the shelter, look extra long at that dog hiding at the back of the cage.  They may need a little extra care because of the shock they’ve been put through, but they’re definitely worth it.

Happy Birthday and many more to come, Rack!

How Would You Like Some Questionable Cake – Picture

This Cake is Questionable!

This Cake LIES!  It’s all LIES I tell ya!

I mean here’s this cake.  It doesn’t even have the common decency to be a full cake! 

It’s Not ROUND! 

What is with those candles?  They are QUESTION MARKS!  I mean, Come ON! Question marks?  What are they supposed to say?  Is it for a birthday?  Is it some secret how old they are?   The candles aren’t even NEW!  They were *GASP!* Burned Before!!!!!

Nobody just makes a Half of a Cake!  Sheesh! Two layers and not THREE?

And look at that icing… It’s NOT CHOCOLATE!!!!!   It’s Commercial Vanilla Icing that’s brown to LOOK like Chocolate!  On top?  Rainbow Jimmies?  I bet they are tutti fruiti too just BECAUSE!

I’m so confused *grabs fork*  What’s inside?  Orange Icing in the middle?  It doesn’t taste like Orange!  It’s … More Vanilla?  At least the cake itself is still Chocolate…

And oh so very fresh and tasty too. 

Ok, I’ll have the rest of that slice.

Happy Birthday Kevin – Picture

Happy Birthday, Kevin.  Enjoy your cake and here’s some for tonight!

Sure, it’s a quarter of a cake now.  The icing is “Commercial” and day glow orange.  It’s still fresh and the good news is that there are two other layers in the freezer that can be Iced when you want more.

Scratch Cakes only stay fresh for about 2 days.  After that and you end up with something that really isn’t that good.   So make up three layers, freeze two and serve one.  Three times the fun that way!

So everybody who reads this, say happy birthday to Kevin.  He’ll enjoy it.  Even if you don’t read this on his birthday, go ahead and wish him a happy birthday.  

Chocolatey Goodness at a Manageable Size

Yes, I right-sized a cake.

You see, a home made from scratch chocolate cake will not keep more than 2 days without turning dry and crumbly.   You really can’t bring it back to life without a gallon of milk and even then it isn’t great.

The recipe I use for cake will make two 9 inch layers or three 8 inch layers.  A while back I got another one of my patented brainstorms.  Why not freeze all but one layer and treat that last one as a cake?

One round layer didn’t look right so I sliced it in half and made a two layer cake out of it.  Four generous slices made for a less-guilt birthday cake.

Since I made three layers and will make this cake into three separate “D” cakes, I’ll get 12 slices out of it and not feel too bad about the results.  

Since it was half a cake or more like a third of a cake, we sang “Happy.” and stopped.  Not the whole song, just the word “Happy”.  It seemed enough.

The Jimmies are leftover from Halloween.  I’ve got this Warehouse Sized container of the things and they just don’t get used up as fast as you’d expect.  There is enough for one or two more cakes at this rate.  D Cakes that is.

I’ve got the pictures of the before and during of the cake baking episodes so some day I may share the recipe.  It’s really quite good even if every time I make the thing, I do it wrong but differently.

Happy Birthday just never quite says it enough when you have a freezer full of chocolate cake “discuses” wrapped in cling film.