Frank T Hogg

A Test To See If I Can Live For Free

Not freedom, free as in no cost. Well, no, you can't but maybe you can live well by spending much less, eating better, being more healthy and enjoying life. Some years ago I realized I was working two weeks each month just to live at the house I was in. That money was not invested, it went to costs, taxes , etc. It was out the window never to come back. Sure it was nice at the lake and all but it just took too much to be there. I downsized and moved to Virginia. My current house is ¼ the size of the lake house but I am as comfortable if not more so and whenever I want to look at a lake I can drive 10 minutes to one.

Now I'm wondering if I should downsize even more. While it doesn't cost much to live here it does take a lot of my time. I have to mow the grass every 4 days and there's always something to fix, paint, make , etc. If I could afford it I could just, "Call the guy" to do it but then I'd have to work to afford it.

I told you all that to tell you this…

I've been thinking about selling all my, 'stuff' and my house and car, buying a used motorhome and living full time in that. The idea has a lot of appeal. I could travel and see stuff I'll never get to see otherwise. I could stay at campgrounds on lakes or in the mountains or desert. I could live in Florida in the winter and north in the summer. I could go anywhere, do anything and not have all the shortcomings of living in one place.


Can I do it cheaply enough? Will I enjoy it or is this just a pipe dream? Only one way to find out is to try it.

I'm going to go to Rocky Knob National Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a week and see. I'll have no cell service, no internet, not even a TV. How will I survive??? But during that week I'll take notes about all kinds of things I'd need to know to do this permanently. How much water, how much propane fuel, how much gas, etc. If this works out okay then I'll try it again but for two weeks and see how it goes.

There are a lot of people doing this and all seem to love it. It may not be for me but I'll know more next week than I do now and I'll let you know in more detail than you probably want to know just how it worked out.

Look for an update to this on or about June 4th.

App Glut

The App Store has around a half million apps, a lot of them free and I have done my best to get far too many of them. I have 291 in iTunes but only 228 on my iPhone. I don't know what most of them do. It's gotten to the point were when I hear of a new neat app and I attempt to download it I find I already have it.

I 'almost' downloaded, 'Path' just now but I realized that with such a non-descriptive name I would soon forget what it is, does or that I even have it. And if that isn't bad enough I also have 632 songs, 1,019 photos and 34 videos. I rarely use my iPhone to listen to music so why do I have 632 songs on it? Simple, because there's room for them. Even with all that I have 6.5GB free, that's 6,500MB or enough for 2,000 more songs and still have room left over. Now you can get an iPhone with 64GB which is TWICE what I have now! Imagine what it'll be next year or 5 years from now. What in the world are we going to do with all that room?

I was watching a show on about new stuff and they mentioned a neat app for the iPad called, "Paper". At first I assumed it was a way to eliminate paper in an office or something along those lines. No, it's a drawing program! I guess, "Draw" was taken. My point is that there are so many apps that descriptive names and icons are pretty much useless. There is no easy way to know what any of these apps do without running them. It would be nice if Apple or Google could find a easy way around this.

In the meantime I'm going to start deleting extra apps... As soon as I figure out what they do.

Honey, Maple, Peanut Butter Sandwich

I like PP&J sandwiches. Occasionally I'll use honey instead of jelly. The problem is that honey soaks through some breads and that makes it kinda messy to eat. I also like Smuckers Natural peanut butter but it is kind of a pain because you have to mix it before you can use it. This is difficult when the jar is new because there isn't much room to stir it. I usually dig down and get some solid peanut butter a few times until there's more room in the jar. Then I mix it and keep it in the refrigerator which stops it from separating.

I was about to do this one day last week when I noted the honey setting behind the peanut butter and decided to experiment. I poured off the peanut oil and replaced it with honey and added some pure maple syrup because I noticed that too. You have to add a lot more honey than the oil you took out to make it spreadable. But after about 4 days the peanut butter started to get really stiff so I added even more honey and heated the jar in the microwave for 30 seconds.

This combo tastes really good and it doesn't separate like the peanut oil. The other advantage for us lazy bastards is you only have to put one thing on the bread instead of two. Kinda like Goober Grape but with better tasting peanut butter.

I'll update this in a bit to let you know it adding more honey kept it soft enough to spread over time.

Update: The honey didn't make it softer. As a matter of fact I had to nuke it for 30 seconds to make it soft enough to use until it was gone. Tastes good. I'll do it again on my next jar but I'll not pour off the peanut oil this time.

Update: It works much better if you do not pout off the peanut oil. The resulting mixture has the added benefit of not separating and no more need to stir before use.

ISLAGIATT - It Sounded Like A Good Idea At The Time...

I ran across this site, Breadtopia and watched some very interesting videos about bread making. One of them talked about letting the dough set for many hours, 8 or more and that doing that developed character or some such. I thought that letting the dough set overnight would require no work and therefore fall into the "lazy" category. I mixed up a batch as noted below, transferred it to a bowl and let it set overnight for about 16 hours. Then I transfered the dough to the baking pans. It looked a little odd but I attributed that to the character it received by that long setting.

Then the trouble began. After 2 hours it became obvious the dough wasn't going to rise enough to bake. I "guess" the yeast had died. Not wanting to waste it I put it back in the bread machine, added yeast, salt and sugar and ran the dough cycle again. Then back into the pans and wait for it to rise and then bake it. The resultes were exactly the same as if I hadn't bothered doing all that, "character" stuff.

Live and learn.

The Old Fart Bachelor's Lazy Bread Recipe

by Frank Hogg

Store bought bread is full of bad stuff and home made bread is delicious but hard to make. I like homemade bread and have been working on the easiest way to make it. I use a bread machine to make the dough but transfer that to baking pans for the final rise and bake. This is my current effort based on others. It makes two 1 1/2 lbs loaves of substantial bread.

If your bread machine is not big enough then just use half the ingredients.

Start with the liquids first and load into the bread machine's bowl.

14 oz Water
6 oz beer (Great use for old beer... Who has 'old' beer???)
2 tbl vinegar
4 tbl molasses
4 cups white bread flour
2 cups wheat flour
3 tsp salt
3 tsp yeast
8 tbl wheat gluten (optional)

So far we've spent about 5 minutes on this.

Set the bread machine to the dough cycle. Mine does this in 1 1/2 hours. Check it after 10 minutes. You're looking for a nice round ball of dough. Add either more flour or water a wee bit at a time to achieve this.

I turn on the oven light at this time because my house is cold and the light warms up the oven enough to use for the bread rise.

Dump the dough out of the bread machine's bowl onto wax paper that's been sprayed with cooking oil. It doesn't hurt to get a bit of it on your hands to stop them from sticking. Play with the dough a bit and using a large dry wall knife or one of those fancy kitchen gadgets, cut the dough in half. Shape them into rough loaves and put them smooth side up into two oil sprayed 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 bread pans, Put both pans in the oven covered by the wax paper oil side down. BTW your oven shouldn't be too hot, 75-80 or so is good. Set the time for 20 minutes and come back to check it. Keep doing this in 10 minute increments until the loaves are 1-2 inches above the top of the pan. Usually takes 30-40 minutes.

This effort takes about another 5 minutes for a total of 10 minutes so far.

Take the pans out of the oven, keep the wax paper on and set the oven to 350. BTW that's the default setting on my oven which is why I use it. Bake the loaves for about 40 minutes or until the internal temp is about 200-210. Longer gives you more crust.

Take the loaves out and dump them out of the pans onto a cooling rack and leave them alone. Cutting into a hot loaf has negative results, so be patient.

That's it. The total working time is 10-15 minutes and the results are great. Total time start to finish is about 2:30 to 3 hours depending on how fast your oven heats up etc.

Besides great tasting bread it's a lot cheaper than buying bread at the store so it's a win win.

Comments: You can use the bread machine to do the whole thing but I've had problems doing this. Primarily because you can't control things after you put stuff in there. The dough may not have risen enough before the bake starts and you end up with squirrel food. You can get a decent loaf but it requires trial and error and precise measuring and is a pain. Then when you do get a good bake you end up with an odd shaped loaf with a hole in the bottom where the mixer goes. The main problem is controlling when to start the bake, when the bread has risen enough and that's why this system works best for me.

Variations: You can use all white flour but if you do that you don't need the molasses. You can substitute honey or maple syrup for the molasses which would give a different flavor to the bread. Sugar will even work. The main reason for any of it is to enhance the wheat flour and give the yeast something to feed on.