Heapy House Cocktail for Christmas

The Heapy House salad has been at every Christmas celebration since I can remember. It’s a typical Jell-O salad that any grandmother might make and bring to Christmas dinner. My Grandmother was the main “chef” and as far as I know the creator of the Heapy House Salad. I’ve made it multiple time since her passing and I think I’ve succeeded once in the those 9 years to make a passable version.

Grandma’s Recipe for Heapy House Salad

For Christmas I wanted to re-create the Heapy House Salad as a cocktail. There are some flavors that stand out in the recipe above: peach, pineapple, lime and whipped cream. I was recently introduced to whipped vodka (whipped vodka and any fruity drink go well together) and it really makes this cocktail work as intended.

Below is the recipe that I came up with. It’s a big drink but you can do the math to create a smaller size.

  • 2oz Vodka
  • 3/4 oz whipped vodka
  • 3/4 oz creme de peach
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz Dole pineapple juice

This recipe has been field tested and approved by but some found it too sweet. They key is that it tastes like the original Christmas Jell-O salad.

Check out this version of the Jell-O salad as well.

Hof’s Hut Autumn Daydream Cocktail

So, I had one of the best cocktails that I’ve ever had at the most unlikely of places, Hof’s Hut.  Yes, Hof’s Hut.   The local Hof’s Hut had advertised a cocktail called the Autumn Daydream in it’s fall menu.  It is a mixture of Maker’s Mark, lemon juice, apple juice and cinnamon syrup.  I had the opportunity to have a couple of them and had to reproduce the blessed elixir.  Here’s what I came up with.

First, you’re going to have to make or procure cinnamon simple syrup. I made my own with the linked recipe.  It is great in numerous recipes and is really delicious in this cocktail.  Here is the complete recipe.

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark
  • 2 oz Lemon Juice
  • 2 oz Apple Juice
  • 1 oz Cinnamon Syrup

Shake the cocktail and enjoy over ice.

My buddy Ty Smith asked, “Who the f goes to Hof’s Hut and gets a cocktail?”.  He’s also the guy that said that this is one of the best cocktails that I’ve come up with. While not a Russ Turley original, my version is every bit as delicious as the original.

Looking Back at the Kringle Cast

Apparently I’m getting all friggin’ nostalgic.

I have all, or at least most, of the old podcasts that I’ve been a part of.  Recently I was perusing through them and found this gem.  The Kringle Cast was one of my favorite podcast ideas.  The concept was to have a phone line that children could call into and then Santa Claus and his new media elves, Jingle and Jangle, would play the voicemails and talk about them.  They would also play podsafe Christmas music.  I did a proof of concept show with my own twin 3 1/2 year olds calling in and it really makes me happy to hear it 10+ years later.

It never took off, mostly because I started too damn late in the year and I ran out of time.



What Girl Scout Cookie Reigns Supreme?

Back in 2011, the podcast Homemade is Best was in full production. My co-host Helana and I were hitting our stride and produced some great content.  One of my favorite recipes that I replicated during this time was the homemade Thin Mint recipe.  Still, nearly 10 years later, I still have vivid memories of how much better a homemade thin mint cookie is than the original.

The recipe links from the original episode are not working, but below are a couple that look like reasonable replicas.  Try them out and take the poll!

Links to Recipes & Podcasts:

Keto Pancakes Recipe

Extending Google WiFi

Ever since moving to a larger home two years ago, I’ve been dealing with WiFi dead zones.  The home is 2800 sf and it is a two-story home.  The footprint is not very large though.  You would have thought that a centrally located router/access point (router) would do the job.  Not so.  From day one I’ve had problems.  The cable company router is located upstairs and in an office, while not central, very close to.

The first solution was to purchase one of those high-powered octopus antenna router units.  This helped the adjacent rooms, but didn’t reach downstairs to the FireTV Stick in the back of the family room TV.

Second solution was to use a RAIR (redundant array of inexpensive routers) wired together with Ethernet over power lines with TP-LINK units.  The remote routers were put in access point mode by turning off DHCP and assigning a static IP address to each unit.  This was successful from a technical standpoint.  There were four routers all connected to the cable modem router and it worked…sometimes.  The TP-LINK units had to be power cycled about once a week.

The final solution turned out to be one of the latest mesh WiFi network setups.  I purchased Google WiFi on the recommendation of tech guru Ty Smith.  I unplugged all the RAIRs and configured Google WiFi following the instructions.  It just worked.  The mesh WiFi units were put in basically the same locations as the remote routers, but now everything works.  No static IPs and no TP-LINKs.

Well, that’s almost true.  My twins’ bedroom still has cruddy WiFi.  So bad that they could not do homework on their Google Classroom account and turn in homework. The configuration below is what fixed it all.

Good thing I didn’t throw away the TP-LINK units. Turns out that the walls of the offending bedroom just has too much interference. I could have purchased another Google WiFi unit to see if that would help, but I had a bunch of TP-LINKS now sitting around gathering dust. The above configuration did the trick. In addition to providing WiFi to the previous uber-dead zone, I could now control the devices connecting through the remote router with the Google WiFi app on my Android phone.

Homemade Is Best #24 – The (Lost) Cheese Episode

Many years ago, I had a cooking podcast with a lovely woman called Helana Brigman.  We produced 23 great episodes that were posted at the website, Homemade Is Best.  I let that domain name lapse and it was quickly picked up by a spammer and filled with fake ads touting all sorts of wares.  It is now just a misconfigured webhost landing page.

What’s not widely known, except by Helana and myself, is that we actually recorded 24 podcast episodes.  There was a lost 24th episode that never made it to the website.  Why?  There were some technical difficulties with recording.  The episode ended up being recorded in three separate parts.  And then I ended up changing computers before the episode got edited and posted…until now.  I’m getting rid of some of the old computers sitting around the office and the Mac Mini that I used to record the podcasts on is now going bye-bye.  But before it goes, had to get this lost episode of Homemade Is Best out on the blog.  The podcast was recorded in October 18, 2011.

This episode is all about making your own, homemade cheese.  Ricotta?  Vegan?  How about feta? What about mozzarella? With predominantly the same tools you use to cook your daily meals, you can make your own cheese!  We also snuck in a yogurt recipe.

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Special tools needed:

Be sure to upgrade your kitchen knowledge with the Basic Food Prep Term of the WeekScald

Full disclosure:  I have still not made cheese, but now will.

Combine Multiple PDF Files in Linux

I switched over to LinuxMint full-time this year.  More about that later.  But I’m learning the tools now available in Linux.  So…

I had an occasion of combine multiple PDF files.  Not having Adobe Acrobat Pro or otherwise, I was unaware of how to do it with Linux.  A quick Google search later and I found pdfunite.  Input PDF files get listed first and the last file is the output file that you’d like the input PDF files combined into.

pdfunite 1.pdf 2.pdf 3.pdf output.pdf

It worked perfectly.  I did change the input file names to exactly what is listed above.  Much easier to type in than the verbose file names that I originally used.

Where can I get my own personal beach table?

Folding table image

Personal Beach Table

Every time we pull this little Personal Beach Table
out of the bag someone asks me where I got it. My wife got it at Ross, locally, but they have them on Amazon for only $16.94 and free shipping with Amazon Prime.  It’s the perfect table to accompany the Tommy Bahama Beach Chairthat everyone is buying at Costco.

You can get yours at the link below.

Straight Talk Wireless APN Settings for MMS

Straight_TalkAround September 2013 I decided to ditch AT&T for my mobile phone service and move to Straight Talk Wireless.  I love the service, especially the price.  The service is $45 for unlimited talk, texts and data.  I have not tested the limits of “unlimited”, but it works well.

One caveat is MMS.  Straight Talk has a problem setting up phones with MMS.  Apparently it’s not standard between carriers or phones.  At any rate, sometimes MMS messages have a problem.  That’s probably why you’re here.

Doing some searching, I found a link to a forum post that explained the settings to get MMS working on a Nexus 5, an Android phone.  These setting are the ones that work best for me, so I’m sharing in the hope that you find it useful.

On your phone, navigate through Settings to Mobile Networks, then to Access Point Names (APNs).  Create a new profile and call it Straight Talk.  Populate it with the following settings:

  • Name=Straight Talk
  • APN=tfdata
  • Proxy=not set
  • Port=Not set
  • Username=not set
  • Password=not set
  • Server=Not Set
  • MMSC=http://mms-tf.net
  • MMS proxy = mms3.tracfone.com
  • MMS PORT=80
  • MCC=310
  • MNC=410
  • Authentication Type=PAP
  • APN type=default,supl,mms,hipri
  • APN Protocol=IPv4
  • APN Roaming Protocol=IPv4
  • Bearer= unspecified
  • MVNO type=None

Save the settings and restart your phone.

If these settings do not work with the standard Texting app on your phone, try a replacement like Textra SMS or TextSecure.