Oops.

So I messed up last week.

I have a habit of senting out one article a week, plus a joke that I stole from other places on Saturday and Sunday.

I got out of sync.  I’m used to the Blogger software, and while WordPress gives me much better control over what is going out to the world, I missed one simple thing.

The “schedule” button.

So last week, I sent out two articles.  The recipe went out last week along with one about my dog Rack sleeping on the floor.

Not earth shattering, but it amuses me to see a dog wake up, and have his tongue dried out and have to lick the saliva to get it all “right” for a bit.

He’s doing it right now as I slap this out.

The parrot, Oscar, is being way too active across the room and he’s knocking things over.  Will have to do something about that!

“OSCAR! Go Home!”

There, Much better.

Anyway, if you are curious, that recipe for the nuts?  It’s excellent.  I made it twice since then, sent some up North with someone for snacks.

If you want something different, add either raisins or craisins to it, and it tastes like the fruit mix in a Fruit and Nut Bar.  I would say about 1/2 cup.

Melt chocolate and you know what I am going to be doing with the crock pot next time it is clean.

Anyway that’s it for this ramble.  I’ve got a salsa recipe for next week that is really very simple…

Next week on as http://www.ramblingmoose.com turns…

Rack and Oscar’s Visitor at the Door

This was One Of Those Moments.

One Of Those Moments where you just have to scratch your head in confusion, and laugh.

It all started when I got the house to myself for a long week.  About 10 days.

I was rattling around by myself through the holidays, and December 27th, that was going to end.

Boxing Day, December 26th, I had to pick things up.  It was time to stop being a bachelor, and to begin to clean the house.

Living in South Florida, there is a fine layer of dust and sand that gets all over things.  You don’t notice it at first, but you start looking behind things and under things and on top of things that you forgot to look, and there it is.  A layer.  Sometimes there are whole civilizations of dust mites living in it.

You get used to it, so you periodically “Deep Clean” things.

But in just a week, there’s enough that it needs to happen.  Move the furniture around, clean where it was, and move it all back.  Normal boring crap.  However that means that it would get loud.

Oscar Likes Loud.  Oscar, my Orange Wing Amazon Parrot will make noises with anything in the house.  It could be a pencil dropped on the floor, he will chatter to it.  He laughs like I do, says “What?” in appropriate times, and believes that “Hello?!?!?” is an appropriate response to food.

As in “Hello, you had better be bringing me some or else I will get louder”.

Louder can be heard a half mile away.  You don’t want that.  He does “Louder” when the vacuum is run.  The vacuum would be run through the entire house today.

“Oscar, want to play with the Hawks?”

I put Oscar out on the front porch on Aunt Betty’s white plastic table.  She gave it to me with two chairs when she went back Up North and there it sits.  It was pristine when I got it, now three years of Dust later, it isn’t.

Did I say that the dust is from the beaches 2 and a half miles away?

Did I say that the dust is also from The Bahamas about 120 miles east of me?
Did I say that the dust also comes from The Sahara Desert half a world away?

Yes, really.  And it all got cleaned up.

I got out the vacuum and did the house.  Yes, even under the tv table cart and the couch.  All the chihuahua dog worth of loose dog fur were vacuumed away.  You never knew that a McNab Dog would shed so much, after all, he only has one coat and no undercoat.

At that point things got weirder.  I managed to mop the kitchen fairly quickly, and started on the dining room when I noticed that Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) was acting concerned.  “Concerned” in most dogs will mean they might grumble or even bark.  Not with Rack.  He just stares holes through you with twin yellow-green laser beamed eyes as he melts your heart with curiosity.

Or in this case urgency.  He plopped himself in the middle of the living room staring at me.

I looked past him through the big window noticing that Oscar was not being bothered by anyone.

“Rack, I’m going to need that room soon.”

Rack looked at me again as if to say “You had better check the door”.  He’s great for delegating responsibility since he’s afraid of his own shadow.

I went back to finishing the dining room.

Straightening out my own frame and blocking off the dining room, I found out what was going on.  The house had visitors.

Rack retreated to The Corner where he hides but was keeping an eye on both me and Oscar.

Oscar was looking at something just out of view and lunging at it.

And there it was.  A Muscovy Duck.

Mind you, these ducks are completely harmless.  Since they’re Outdoor Animals, they probably have all sorts of things that I don’t want Oscar getting so I watched.  But instead of going to the door and shooing the creature away, I realized it was watching both me, and Oscar.

I reached for the camera and squeezed off a couple pictures hoping that the light in the window wouldn’t wash things out too badly.  It did and I would find that out later.

But there I was.  I was locked in another Wild Kingdom moment.  My house was visited by the ducks again.  This wasn’t a surprise, we’ve got dozens of them.  I am only a short couple blocks from the nearest river and they never quite leave the neighborhood.  They are non-aggressive and harmless.  Since they eat the grubs in the grass, I can even say they’re beneficial.

They’re certainly entertaining, but I never expected them to come quite this close.

There was one a while back that decided that since I hardly ever drive my Jeep, it would roost under it.  I became a foster parent to a brood of baby ducks that would hide under there from the neighbor’s formerly outdoor cats.  Not wanting to disturb them, I would always make certain that I could get outside quietly and go about my business.
Rack doesn’t seem to mind them, but understands that they don’t belong on the porch.

Like this rather curious one.

It hopped onto the porch to see what this green parrot, Oscar, was doing on Betty’s table, and discovered that there was me indoors watching it, and Rack watching all of us being confused.

I squeezed off a few shots more, turning on the flash for the last one.

The duck had had enough at that point when I tried to walk to the door.  It slowly turned around and walked back under the Jeep.  It had to be a part of the brood here.

So that’s the thing.  You may have been used to living around nature, but nature never quite leaves you here in South Florida.  Sometimes it even pays a visit.

I went back to my cleaning and by the time I was done, it was wandering off the neighbor’s property.

Nice to have a little visit when you’re ready for a break from doing things, isn’t it?

2203 Posts? Yep it kept ticking for five years!

This blog.  It’s been a part of me for five years.

I started it with a hello world post.  Everyone seems to.  You find your way back to it if you are interested.

I actually found that I enjoy writing.  I do get wordy, some of these posts are over 1200 words.  Almost all of them are off the top of my head.

Things got slower after a while.  You know, that New Blog Smell wore off.  I was writing about things that happened here in Wilton Manors, and the City Government scene.  I had to stop going to the commission meetings after a while, they were going well into the night and frankly I fall asleep at 10pm on a late night.  Doing that in the commission chambers when the meeting ended at 11pm would be sending the wrong message.

And I am actually quite in awe of the job that the commissioners do here, on average.  If you pay attention to your own city government, you’ll find a few rotten apples here and there and a couple decisions you can’t stand.

No comment there about specifics.

But since this is an “Anniversary Post” for the 2200th posting that happened over the weekend, I figured I’d do the old school Top Ten List of all times.  Since everyone seems to hit the same postings over and again, why not?

So from the most popular post to the 10th most popular post, here it is.

Most popular post:  The Gold Medal Flour Biscuit Recipe.  Trust me, this is an excellent recipe, I use it all the time when I want to show off.  If I really want to show off, I make home churned butter by putting the cream in the food processor and running it for 5 minutes or until I have butter and buttermilk in there.  Works like a champ!

#2:  Two Cycle Engine Repair – I replaced a primer bulb on a weedeater and apparently I did a good job of it since I still use the machine, 4 years later.

#3:  Simply Hired and the User Experience -The website simplyhired.com is not one of my favorites, and I wrote why and showed why they need to change.  They did incorporate a few changes of mine, and continue to change.

#4:  Puns and One Liner Weekend – A List of puns.  I really debated long and hard about posting Jokes here.  Then I realized that people actually enjoy the silly things and this blog gets hit heavily for them.

#5: GFS Marketplace Review – GFS Is a Wholesale marketer of foods and restaurant supplies.  They also sell directly to the public.  I’m quite happy with the store, but their coupons truly annoy me.  The software that they use to create the coupons, on your PC, require that software be installed.  Since nobody has told me what that does on my machine, I can’t say I trust the software.  BUT the place is really quite good, and the staff is friendly.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10:

#6:  An Impatiens Flower Picture – This variety is no longer sold and went extinct.  Impatiens are now larger.

#7:  Jewfish Creek Bridge Picture – The view you get when you enter the Florida Keys.  This is what I think of as the “border” although I may not be technically correct.

#8: Canning 1, Pineapple 0 – Although I am a good cook, sometimes my recipies don’t work!

#9:  Hotmail Annoyance: Turning off Hotmail’s former interface behavior of hotkeys.  I hated hotmail, and I hatie Outlook so much more.  Microsoft has turned evil since Ballmer left.  I can’t believe I am saying nice things about Ballmer since he was the punchline to a joke but there you have it.

Finally

#10: Sister Mary Ann’s Gasoline – Yes, another joke.  Apparently loads of folks liked her story!

Rude Blog? Blogger is OK With That Again

One morning, I was sitting in my comfy bouncy chair, living my G Rated life.  Music playing, the dog by my side, the parrot chattering.

I open up my dashboard thingy after having made a purdy pixture for you folks to look at as well as a backstory.

There are plenty of sites that are nothing more than a picture a day or a list of them.  I look at those as well, they’re great to fill up your computer for when the screensaver kicks in.  I must have close to a gig of them, who knows!

There was a nag link at the top of the page.  I rarely look at them anyway, most folks don’t look at nags I suspect.  Twenty years of being trained to ignore adverts or simply blocking them in my case, and you get that way.

The link pointed me to a page that was titled “An update on the Blogger porn content policy“.

I laughed.  Out loud even.

I may be noisy, but I have never posted that kind of content here.  I could.  It’s legal.  At least it is at this point in history, tomorrow could change that.

The original change in policy was fielded to gauge reaction I suspect.  The reality is that “rude” is in the eye of the beholder.  There are some people who look at this blog every single day, others less frequently.  I know of one person who complains about it loudly, although never to my face.  Apparently I cut a little close to the bone in one or more comments about them.

No, I won’t say who.

But.

Never anything that would even be considered a Hard Parental Guidance Rating, at least in my mind.  If it would get past the censors on the big three TV networks in the more enlightened parts of this backwards sliding country that I live in, I will post it.

Apparently I can now.  Well thanks, I can let my artistic nude flag fly I guess.  It’s not for me, but it is for many people.

There are plenty of blogs out there that have restricted or adult content.  Some are simply to excite the reader, for however long it takes them to finish their visit.  Others are to educate about health or perhaps anthropological issues.  After all, teenage children would keep select copies of the National Geographic under their beds for private reading back in the day.  It was actually a plot point at the beginning of the movie Porkys II.  While seeming random, the plot of that movie is strangely parallel to the whole discussion of whether rude content should be allowed in the movie or not.


That sort of excitement is easy to find.  The educational sites are more important, and that is why the internet exists in the first place – to share information among people who are interconnected no matter how distant.

There was a great amount of noise, digital ink, and whinging done in a short period of time, and Google, Inc. have decided that the Blogger policy on Porn will not be changed.

It doesn’t really effect me here, I’ll continue to write the kind of things that Mrs Grundy in her small town may be interested in reading, but if you need that kind of medical or anatomical information that is hosted on a blog somewhere and somehow connected with Google and Blogger, it will be safe.

Sure, I’m vague, but I don’t need that sort of information right now.  The last time I went for “medical” information it was to diagnose my brake problem on my Jeep Wrangler.

Besides, the kind of excitement that the 1950s teenager found in National Geographic is so prevalent and so easy to come by these days for free online, that you just don’t need me taking pictures of body parts and slamming them up in 16 million colors with my website URL hidden semi-discretely on them.

I’ll remain here, G rated, for all the world to see.

You may return to your regularly scheduled rude websites now, Google‘s fine with it.

Some People Have A Memory, I Have A Blog

Going through the list of old posts on this blog, I noticed that there is a weird counter intuitive pattern.

I have commented about how I put recipes on here because I want to be able to get to them.  We have a recipe box.  It is the size of a microwave.  I mean this is more than the card file that “mom used to have”, this thing is a beast.

Now, mind you, it does serve two people with two very different cooking styles.  Every fall, for example, when it comes time to bake Fruitcakes, we dig down to the bottom of the box.  Finding the recipe, we place an order for the candied fruit, and wait.  When the fruit arrives, we make up these cakes.  They’re nothing like anything you would find in a supermarket. 

At least in a larger supermarket.  Those things are cloyingly sweet and gooey. 

Homemade fruitcakes are rich and sweet but in a savory and almost spicy way.  That was the original recipe.  Not the gloppy stuff you find at a roadside tourist trap in the south.

Trust me it’s a different world I’m talking about.

But that’s the thing.  Since it is a box, the recipe you haven’t used is always buried under the flotsam of baking.  My own recipes, pre-blog, were printed out and saved into a book.  Then, I started to “print” them to PDF files and saved them on my chip, a 128gb postage stamp sized memory chip.  I can move that between machines, and old copies of the files sit on servers now.  Since there are so many I threw up my hands and moved the best online.

So the blog serves as a mental scratchpad. 

Any task like that I tend to write up. 

Thinking that nobody really wants to read about my recipes, I would cast them off to the four winds like the milkweed seeds that I casually tossed over the fence that one day.

Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

But you see, that’s the weird thing.  The postings that I think are so much filler are the ones that the internet seems to like.  My recipe for Gold Medal Self-Rising Biscuits gets hit more than any other blog posting in the four-plus-years that I’ve been at this.

The stories about my McNab Superdog, Rack, get hit heavily too.  Apparently there really is an attraction for those feel good stories coupled with a picture of an admittedly good looking dog.

What was all this navel gazing about anyway, you ask? 

Simple.  I ran out of bagels.  I ran out of biscuits.  So I needed to make more over the weekend.  That caused a cascade of things.  Pizza Dough was made, risen, then half of it is rolled.  The remainder goes into Pretzel rolls

Serendipity is that act of finding something you wanted more than what you were looking for in the first place.  In my case, it’s Challah Bread.

In March.  Sure, it’s not traditional to have Challah in March, but Mom got it all the time and called it Jewish Egg Bread, and we loved it with peanut butter and jelly, or toasted with butter.

Buttah?

No, Mom’s accent wasn’t “Like Buttah”, but she did have a funny way of saying things.  “Jew-eesh Aig Bread” was how that came out along with her Zs that came out “D’Zs”.  I guess if you spoke only Italian until 7 you’d have an accent too, even if you did have an appreciation for proper Italian foods and sauce that you start on Saturday for Sunday’s dinner.

Don’t judge me.  I still say “Crick” for creek from time to time…

Even if I am not planning on churning butter for those biscuits, and settling for Cream Biscuits, I was going to do some serious cooking.  Since there was Char Siu Pork in the crock pot, there’s extra ginger.  Can’t waste Ginger since it is too good, so why not make Crystalline Ginger?  While that’s simmering there’s always time to make Lemon Curd since there are two Meyer Lemons in the fridge.

Recipes aside, those jokes that I feel a little guilty about posting always get hit heavily after the immediate posting.  They save me from Writer’s Block, and I haven’t had to do any during the week.  But if I ever get completely blocked, or have somewhere to go in an emergency in the morning, you’ll see one during the week.

No, I wasn’t going anywhere with this.  Other than the kitchen.  That’s what happens when you need to do some cooking and your recipe file is online.  You start finding things you forgot you knew how to do.

Now, does anyone have any good ideas of what to do with Ginger Simple Syrup?  Pancakes perhaps?

The Little Mysteries Of Writing

Sitting down at a keyboard and writing, rambling on, can be an odd preoccupation.

You end up having a conversation with the inside of your skull.  An imaginary person is sitting there, and you’re talking away.

It is possible to be entertaining, instructional, and engaging.  It is even possible to do all of that all at once.

It is possible to annoy, anger, and enrage.  I’ve done that as well.  In fact I’ve had someone once, thankfully just once, threaten me.

I laughed it off.  Being “On The Net” since the dusty old days of when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and the years started with 19, I have watched things go from being an academic discussion to the current obsession with cats, selfies, selfies with cats, and butts. 

Thanks to some pseudo-celebrities, it’s even Selfies with Cats and with Butts. 

We’re doomed I tell you, Doooomed!

This audience is always imagined, and sometimes it shows its head.  Mostly polite of course.  Most people are, or at least try to be, or at least think they are.

I’ve been at this for quite a while, and probably will continue for a while.  After all, it’s easy to take a picture.  It’s even easier to write about what you were thinking about.  I tend to do that and keep a few pictures in abeyance – that’s in my back pocket.  Bang out a few paragraphs and so forth.

But you really never know what will get people excited. 

I’ve found that the recipes and the dog postings are very popular.  There are, however, some days you just don’t understand.

This business with statistics.  You go into your favorite blogging platform and you can find out what people were looking at.  You also can do that with Google Analytics.  Both of which I do on a daily basis.

But I think I had a statistical anomaly that I am still scratching my head about.

Linux.

No don’t run away.  It’s not going to be banging on about how wonderful it is, or how it’s the perfect thing to do with your old computer that got replaced on Xmas or Chanukah or your birthday. 

It is, but that’s not the point.

While I do talk about Linux from time to time, I don’t do it frequently enough to become an authority about the subject.  I’m kind of “middle of the road” with my knowledge on the subject.  Level 2 support, maybe Level 3, if you’re taking notes.

When you look at your statistics and see that you got so many hits from so many places, you have to scratch your head.  Yeah that again.

I got 75 percent of my readers in yesterday from people sitting on a Linux computer.

3 out of 4 readers yesterday agreed that Linux was the platform of choice.

As opposed to about 1.5 percent of them in the real world.

Fifty times more people hit this blog with a Linux computer than in the real world?  Is my math correct?

Penguins unite!  You have nothing to lose but your Microsoft shackles!

As I write this on Windows 8.1 on a rather nice laptop…

Cross platform here.  Platform agnostic.

Dry, I’ll stop that before I confuse you.

I just … don’t… get… it.

So instead I will just post a picture of the beach at Fort Lauderdale and call it even.  After all, my own family is suffering through some below 0 F wind chills today.  It won’t even hit 70 here today or as we say “It’s not a beach day … unless you’re from Minnesota”.

But the Linux thing…. I just don’t know!

Reminds me that I need to find the chip reader.  There’s an i7 laptop that needs a copy of CentOS dropped on it for a server project I want to complete with WordPress and a proper LAMP stack.

How to Fail At Pizza Crust Without Really Trying

I have a lot of recipes.  Many of them I share, some others I don’t.

Oh come on, you know you hold back one or two of your favorites if you really like to cook or bake.  After all, how would you know what to bring to a party?

My chocolate chip cookie recipe is one of those.  I’ll let you in on a secret though.  Churn your own butter.  It really makes the flavor pop!  Five minutes in the cuisinart later you have butter and buttermilk.  Make biscuits.

But the thing is that nobody ever tells you of the failures.

For every successful cook, there is a trash can full of fallen souffles, burnt biscuits, and wooden roasts.  Things that got undercooked, or overcooked.
Things that got the wrong proportions.
Things that went into the oven and the power went out.
The yeast might have been bad.

Any of those things!

The recipes I share are tested.  I have done them more than once.  I don’t do them rushed.  I take pictures.  I marvel at the color of the crust, the flavor of the crumb, and the mouth feel of the flake.

But I have done them before.

Some of them I have done many times before.

Many many.

Really, that many.

But I am on a quest.  The quest for the Grail?  No Monty, not the quest for the Grail, for Camelot is a very silly place.

The quest is for the simplest recipes I can find for a given menu item.  They may take a little extra time or be quirky, but once I get it figured out, they’re golden.

Fudge, for example, is dead simple.  Three ingredients for the basics, then toss in your goodies and you’re done.  It can even be done in the Microwave by a bright five year old as a treat for mommy.  Doesn’t even need daddy’s help, and may even be better without it.  You really just have to “warm up” the chocolate and stir it until smooth.

My friends that are non-cooks or even anti-cooks are those who I find the simplest recipes for.  Cooking is one of those things that everyone, without fail, can learn, but they do have to at least try.

I went onto a search.  A quest!  No, not for that damn Grail, Monty, go sit down in the corner.

I was searching for “Three Ingredient Recipes”.  Those usually are the ones that you mash together with a fork in a big bowl and then toss in the oven at an appropriate temperature.

Usually 350F.

For about 30 minutes or until done.

I found a lot of them.  Just go to your favorite search engine that doesn’t track what you are doing, type in “Three Ingredient Recipe” and find what you are looking for.

At least that was the theory.

I was planning on a two ingredient pizza crust.  It was easy they said.  A cup of Self Rising Flour and a cup of Greek Yogurt.  They warned it will be sticky and they warned to make sure you used the real Greek yogurt and not the crap that has corn starch to thicken it.

I have everything on hand on a daily basis for that. 

The whole weekend I was thinking about trying this.  Seriously.

Ok, I don’t have a life.  So give me one, I’ll make failed pizza crusts for you, honest!

Finally I decided it was time to do it that day.  I waited until it was time.  I even had someone here who wanted to watch.  “Drop In” friends will do that.  They will help you if you have a task to get done if you make a hint.

So I got out the mixer. 
Dough hook. 
Self Rising Flour. 
Proper Greek Yogurt that was one step removed from Cream Cheese.
The dog got interested and joined us in the kitchen at this point.
Turn the bloody mixer on.
Get the parchment paper and line the cookie sheet while I’m watching the magic happen.
Dust the cookie sheet liberally with flour so it doesn’t stick.

They always tell you that when you make a pizza.  Pizza crusts tend to be drier than bread dough.  Put down a lot of flour and knead well.  It is like playing with clay, you have to work it.

Blah blah blah, this is two ingredients, right?

Finally I get bored with watching it spin and switch off the mixer.

I end up with something that looked more like biscuit batter.  Thick and sticky.  I could use it to spackle a wall.

No, really.  I have a hole in the wall I could have slapped this puppy into and it would have sat there on a vertical surface just drying out and …

Pouring the batter out onto the flour I began to roll it out.

That would be when I found the problems starting.

It stuck to the paper so I added more flour.

It stuck to the wooden rolling pin so I added more flour.

It started making holes in the crust so I added more flour.

At this point it was about a cup and a half of flour total.  This wasn’t right.  The parchment paper was turning into a wet sticky mess and fully bonded with the bottom of the pizza dough.

After about 5 minutes more of this silliness, I got another piece of parchment paper and dusted it heavily with more self rising flour.  I was expecting, that, if I ever got this in the oven, it would burst open in a scene that I Love Lucy would have been proud of as the crust would fall out onto the floor and ask for asylum here in South Florida.

Taking the dough and parchment paper, I flipped it on top of the new parchment paper.  A parchment paper sandwich now, I began to peel the dough off the older paper onto the new.

I began to grumble at this thing.

Cursing everyone from the Doughboy on the commercial to the inventor of commercial yeast, I started to pick at the sticky goo.

Thirty minutes later, I was still picking.  I had peeled about a half of the dough off the paper and I simply gave up.

You see, life is a learning process.  You win some, you lose some.  I’m sure you heard that before.

In this case I probably should have simply added more flour to the mixer until I got to where I could work the dough.  At least that was what my baking skills told me.

I didn’t.  I wadded up both layers of parchment paper, the glue like batter, and tossed it unceremoniously into the trash bin.

With. A. Thump.

We had Chicken Parmesan sandwiches instead.
With Home Fries since they cook well with no fuss.

I was beaten but not done.  I know I will have that pizza.  Just with my fool proof yeast risen dough.  After all, it is my sister Pat’s pizza dough, and I know that recipe like I know the back of my hand.

All the way down to the piece of dried pizza dough that I found stuck to my fingers when I was eating that Chicken Parm Sandwich.

Mmmm Chicken Parm on Home Made Rolls.

Let me tell you the story of Pat’s Pizza Dough….