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Hope everyone’s year is off to a great start and best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy 2018!
I had to check and see when the last time was I blogged and it’s been well over a year. Like many of you… life just gets in the way and god knows time goes by too quick. As my Mom would say be sure that you work to live not live to work… I’m in the middle somewhere.
I’ve been spending the last year or so doing something that “was” completely out of my comfort zone… out of left field… something a good friend had mentioned many times… SCUBA DIVING. And I absolutely love it now!!!
And since I live in Florida, two questions immediately came to mind, which were 1) what about alligators and 2) what about sharks? Turns out you really don’t have to worry about them that much… or so I’ve learned in my limited experience and talking with others that have been diving longer than I’ve been alive.
From what I know, they seem to prefer the solitude and comfort of being unseen. So diving in clear springs, caverns and rivers help. And they don’t like the bubbles divers release. An alligator will see you long before you see them and be long gone before you get there. More times than not alligators are more scared of us than we are of them, but you do have to be careful during mating season, which runs from April to June. Crocodiles are a different story in south Florida and are known to be more aggressive. You and I know that their bite force is more than enough to hold onto us, but they are more interested in smaller things that can fit in their mouth like birds, turtles, small dogs, etc.
A scuba shop owner, dive buddy and friend of mine once said that if they really want to get you, you won’t see it coming – that was comforting in a way… I think? In all seriousness, sharks also do not like the bubbles divers give off while breathing under water. And we are not their native food source so they don’t really look at us in this manner. A majority of bites that occur are when people are swimming in the surf and it’s more of an exploratory bite than anything else. Sharks do some feeding for other fish in the surf and are often confused thus the “exploratory” bite. Needless to say, I grew up at the beach and still will not swim in the surf. Now, I’ve been on many dives where we saw sharks (10-15 feet away) and they kept on swimming as if we weren’t even there. I’ve even done several dives in Epcot’s 6 million gallon aquarium (Dive Quest) that houses many sharks and you had to hold your breathe with no bubbles just to get them to come anywhere close to you. And regarding blood in the water, they don’t really like our blood. Coincidentally, I cut myself on one ocean dive and was a little worried… and I did not attract sharks from miles away not was I viciously attacked. I saw no sharks on that particular dive. However, I do understand that there are several shark varieties that are more aggressive like Bull, Hammerhead and Tiger sharks and I’ve had Bull sharks swim right by as well. They prefer the blood of their native food source. So once again nothing to worry about…
Here’s a link to one of my Epcot dives at Dive Quest: https://youtu.be/1SdfZJKbiTo
As I was vetting different scuba shops, I learned about the different certification organizations NAUI and PADI then stumbled across Scuba Quest on the Meetup website looking for scuba groups. David, Scuba Quest Owner, and I talked scuba for a while and next thing you know I’m certified through his shop (NAUI certified) and was diving almost every weekend. I still dive regularly now, but have other activities occupying my time… that’s another blog.
Quick plug for David and his shop Scuba Quest at 8092 South Orange Blossom Trail…
Everybody at the shop has always been very helpful, knowledgeable and patient with all of my questions (and I had quite a few) about diving and when purchasing my personal dive gear. And the pricing is very competitive! I love the fact the shop is like a family, also a family-owned business and they have a passion for helping both children and adults with special needs of all levels at the NTC through their ministry. David Sr., David Jr., Jason, Kim, Josh and Roger have been awesome and frequently I stop by the dive shop just to look at gear and wind up talking about everything under the sun. I’m always meeting new and fun people in the dive community at the dive shop, charters and clubs. It’s opened up an entirely new and fun social genre to me that I didn’t know existed. And it all started with a phone call… thanks David and everybody at Scuba Quest! Looking forward to many more dives and destination dive trips!
Honesty, I’ve enjoyed it so much I’ve received several advanced certifications since last year and have been on many dive trips all over central Florida with David, his family, employees and other divers and have trips to Bonaire and Mexico among other places. The advanced certifications for me are a way to gain knowledge, confidence and comfort in this almost alien-like environment that few experience. You’ll see sharks, sea turtles, loggerhead turtles, goliath grouper, moral eels, lionfish squid, blowfish, puffer fish, stingrays, beautiful coral, sponge varieties, tropical fish and so much more. And when you start traveling, you’ll be immersed in not only scuba abroad, but different people, cultures, wildlife, cuisine and much more. On a sidebar, I ate so much on first dive trip, I thought I was going to come back weighing more than one I left. Turns out we dove so much I actually weighed less!!!
Many shops, or at least Scuba Quest, offer exploratory scuba classes where you can try it for free. If you enjoy it you’ll find yourself wanting to learn more, diving different places and immersing yourself in the scuba community. The scuba community is a small close-knit group, everyone is so nice and they share your enthusiasm and intrigue about scuba, whether it is equipment-talk, local dives or destination dive trips. I swore I would do only one night dive (as a part of Advanced Certification) just to do it because I had some trepidation about… well… swimming around in the ocean at night… not being able to see… with Jaws. It turns out there was more visibility than I though due to the full moon, the marine life is very active and not to mention the bioluminescence. Now, night dives are my favorite type of dive. Most recreational dives seem to be 30-60 feet, but I’ve been as deep as 160 feet and had no problems or worries.
Some of this might seem a little scary when you consider your only source of air (or life) is a tank of air. The attraction to me is the amount of focus, preparation and attention to detail that is required. When I’m diving I’m thinking of nothing else… and I love it. Plan your dive and dive your plan. I purchased good new equipment, plan the dive, dive with a good dive buddy, do pre-dive checks and hand signal confirmations, etc. I would recommend not purchasing any gear until after you complete your Open Water certification because in that short amount of time you will find you have certain preferences. So take your time and visit your local scuba shop and talk things out before you make the investment.
And let me tell you that there is something surreal, quiet, exhilarating about being under the water where few people venture. The words to adequately describe the feeling of scuba escape me… I’m not doing it justice. To interact and observe the marine life in their own environment is truly a memory worth making on every single dive let alone making new friends.
And there is limitless information on the Internet through scuba websites and forums. Odds are you know somebody that scuba dives… you just don’t know it. So go to your local dive shops, strike up a conversation and before you know it you’ll be planning your first destination dive trip!
I hope everyone had a fantastic summer! It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a blog and needless to say (like many of you)… a house, family, friends, dog and volunteerism among other things keeps me busy.
The reason for this blog… an article I saw on my Facebook feed about how to make a tire swing.
Just so happens I had an old tire sitting around, several huge oak trees to hang the swing from and plenty of kids and adults willing to give it a try. Before I start any project I like to do a lot of research on how other people do a particular project then create my own DIY. And you’ll see pictures throughout the DIY to help guide you along the way.
First and foremost, you’re going to need a rather strong tree limb with plenty of space around for swinging. Please make sure the tree is strong enough, not rotting in any part of the tree and the particular branch of which you’re going to hand the swing is of ample circumference.
After reading numerous tire swing tutorials I did come up with a “tip sheet” of items I incorporated into the design, parts and construction of my tire swing that you may also want to consider:
- Drill fewer holes to maintain the integrity of the tire.
- Drill holes in the bottom of the tire for water drainage.
- As far as quick links, S-hooks and carabineers go, quick links are the strongest.
- Use rubber-coated pinch free swing set chains or cover them to prevent injury.
- Threading the chain through the noodle rather than cutting it to maintain noodle integrity.
- Use chains in lieu of rope unless you’re 100% confident in your ability to tie a strong knot.
- Use a bike tire tube to cover the chain wrapped around the tree limb to protect the tree.
- Using a 360-degree swivel clamp or Double Eye (or Eye-to-Eye bolt) where tire swing chains come together to prevent chains from getting knotted, twisted or entangled.
- Lastly, guestimate the max weight and number of people that would ride the tire swing at the same time to decide the work load required of the parts that you purchase.
Let’s get started!!! Here is a list of materials I used to make my tire swing
1 Used tire ample enough in size for all riders.
3 Lengths of chain at 4 feet each with an 880lb working load.
3 ½” x 6”eyebolts.
6 ½” x 2” fender washers.
6 ½” split lock washers.
6 3/8” Quick links with a 2,200lb working load.
1 ½’ Quick link with a 3,300lb working load.
1 5/16” Eye and Eye Swivel with a 1,250 working load.
1 Old bicycle tube.
1 Length of chain at 12 feet based off of a limb that is 15 feet from the ground.
Soap and water.
Drill with drill bits to step drill to a ½” hole.
Socket set or two wrenches.
OK… I think I’ve got everything covered. First, you’re gonna want to wash your tire with soap and water and dry most of the water off if possible. Then take your tire to your work area and place it where it is easily manageable.
It’s time to use power tools and drill holes! I chose to have just three holes versus four to both maintain the integrity of the tire and to make it easier for people to climb on the tire swing. I chose to drill my holes on the sidewall closest to the tread where I feel the tire was strongest. Simply use a pen, pencil or marker and the 2” washer to place and mark each of the three holes until they are equal distance from one another. The distance between all of my holes ended up being 23.5” apart on all sides and yours will be different based on the size of tire you use. Also, don’t forget to drill your drain holes for the rain.
½” hex nut
½” split lock washer
2” flat washer
2” flat washer
½” split lock washer
½” hex nut
Simply tighten all parts taught to the top of the eyebolt, but no need to over tighten so as to once again protect the integrity of the tire.
Now, it’s time to cover our three 4-foot chains with the pool noodles. I bought the smaller noodles as the diameter of the hole in the center was just slightly smaller than the width of the 4-foot chains. I did cut a little off the end of each pool noodle to match the length of the 4-foot chains allowing for one chain link to protrude from each end of the noodle.
Then I simply threaded each of the three 4-foot chains through each noodle using coat hangers and attached one end of each noodle-covered 4-foot chain to the three tire eyebolts using the three 2,200 lb. workload quick links. Next, take the one 3,300 lb. quick link and attach it to the other end of each of the three noodle-covered 4-foot chains.
The easiest (and safest way to prevent injury) to hang the tire swing is to first loop the 12-foot chain around the tree limb. Then I placed the tire on a wheelbarrow and rolled it under the attached 12-foot chain. The order for the hardware attached to the 12-foot chain is as follows:
2,200 lb. quick link
2,200 lb. quick link
Eye and Eye Swivel
2,200 lb. quick link
3,300 quick link (currently attached to three 4-foot chains)
As mentioned earlier, do choose a tree limb of ample strength and circumference to hold the weight of the tire and all potential riders. Then climb the ladder and wrap the 12-foot chain (inserted through tire tube) around the limb and adjust the tire tube so the tree limb is adequately protected. Now, connect the 2,200 lb. quick link to a link in the 12-foot chain forming a closed loop around the tree limb and the other end of the 12-foot chain hanging below. You’ll want to leave the ladder propped up against the tree as you’ll likely have to adjust the chain’s height at least one more time.
Now, simply attach the 3,300 lb. quick link attached to the noodle-covered chains to the 2,200 lb. quick link hanging from the bottom of the 12-foot chain. Then step back, admire your work, take a look at your tire swing height and adjust the height accordingly by detaching the tire swing from the chain and adjusting the size of the loop on the 12-foot chain up or down. I mounted my tire about 24 inches from the ground i.e. the same height as most any chair.
If you do have an itch to decorate your tire, I did find a few things during my research you could do to decorate your tire swing. One thing you can do is to paint the tire different colors or use stickers or stencils. Just be sure to find the right outdoor paint that will weather the elements and won’t peel or rub off on riders. Another option would be to wrap colored rope around the circumference of the tire. Depending on the rope type, it can be expensive to buy the length needed and when it rains the rope stays wet longer thus wetting the pants of riders. Which is another reason I opted to stay with the look of an old-fashioned uncovered tire swing as it will dry quicker from the rain. Here’s a resource for you as well: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/tire-swings/
As with any project, I always measure several times to be certain before I cut, drill or glue anything. And as anal-retentive as this sounds, I actually document what I’m going to do before I do it. It helps me think through the project to make sure I’m doing what I feel is the best way to produce the desired end result DIY project.
And on that note, if you’ve been able to take away at least one thing from this blog that helps you build your own AWESOME tire swing then that makes it well worth the time I spent writing it. Have a great day everyone!
For those that are considering purchasing a dog from a breeder, it can be a little overwhelming finding the right breeder for you. This of course is under the presumption that you’ve already determined the type of dog that you want. I wanted very specific things in a dog and spent hours upon hours researching breeds then began vetting breeders.
As the dog I was looking for was purebred, you should find that most if not all purebred dogs will have a national association for that particular breed. Contact that association and ask them if they have a list of breeders. Also, the American Kennel Club is a good resource for both breed information and a list of breeders. You may find some smaller associations, but I would tell you that you can limit your search to these two or three venues so as to avoid information overload.
Now it’s time to play twenty questions… or more like 53 according to my list. As with most things, the more people you talk to the more you learn and in this case the more questions you have. So here is a list of questions to ask a breeder (in no particular order) some of which may or may not apply depending on what type of person/family you are and the breed of dog you want to buy.
- Will you be having any litters of puppies for sale this year? When do you anticipate your next litter?
- Will you sale your puppies as a family dog, hunting or other type of dog?
- How long have you been breeding dogs? Breeding this particular breed?
- What certifications do you have? Breed club or association affiliations?
- Can you provide me with references if so desired?
- Why did you choose this breed?
- Do you show any of your dogs as well?
- How often do you breed puppies?
- Anything you would change about the breed positive or negative?
- Is this a hobby for you, part-time or full-time job/passion?
- How do you specifically train and socialize the puppies?
- Will the dog fair well in the climate of which I live?
- What are the grooming rituals and frequency?
- Your thoughts on spaying and neutering?
- Health concerns with the breed?
- Health concerns compared to other dogs?
- Likelihood of these specific health conditions happening?
- Thoughts on pet health insurance?
- Can you tell me about the two dogs you’re looking at breeding? Do they have a pedigree? AKC registered? Temperament? Size? How many litters have they had? Family history of the parents? All documentation available for me to see? OFA Hips, elbows, thyroid, eyes, cardiac K Locus checked? Any health problems with previous litters?
- Do you alter the dog after birth in any way i.e. dew claws, tail docking, etc?
- Can you provide advice for vaccination schedules, training, socialization, feeding, watering, bathing, etc.?
- When picked up will puppies be up to date on vaccinations and dewormed?
- How old will the puppy be before it can come home?
- Will it be potty and/or crate trained?
- Are the puppies born and raised at your place or somewhere else? Would you mind sharing the address?
- Do I pick my dog from the litter or do you based on what I’m looking for since you would know their personalities better than I?
- Can I pick the name of the dog?
- Do you provide a health guaranty or return policy? In writing?
- Do you operate using a contract?
- Do you require a deposit and what is your deposit policy? When is it due? Is it refundable?
- What is the cost of your puppies?
- Do I need to give you my name to put on the waiting list?
- Can I come pick up the dog or do you ship them? Cost to ship? Best airline? Other recommendations on picking up the puppy?
- I know you may not want to speak poorly of other breeders, but any thoughts on breeders I should avoid?
So there you have it. As you can tell a conversation with any breeder might be a long one so you can spread the questions out over several calls or at the very least let the breeder know you have a lot of questions. You can even make a joke about it.
As the conversation progresses, you may or may not feel comfortable or feel the need to ask so many questions. I spoke to a number of breeders and once I began speaking to the breeder of which I ending up buying my puppy, I felt an almost immediate rapport with her and trusted her. And trust me when I say that if you talk to enough breeders, you will be able to decide whether or not you want to work with that breeder based on their responses and the manner of which they respond.
All you’re doing is having a conversation and deciding if you like and trust that person well enough to do business, but keep in mind that it is not an interrogation or job interview. A breeder can choose not to sell a puppy to you just as easily so be considerate and respectful of their time and needs as well. Depending on the breed you may have limited options so you don’t want to burn any bridges. As a matter of fact, I spoke to a breeder that declined to sell someone a puppy for what I feel were very legitimate reasons.
In a related matter and of my own personal opinion, having a dog isn’t for everyone. I volunteer at Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando virtually every weekend and we do see dogs surrendered for many reasons i.e. not enough time, too expensive, landlord issues, moving, health problems of owner, etc.
To me a dog is like a child and is something you prepare for in all aspects as you do have to change your life for your dog just like you would for that of a child. And they are not an accessory to an outfit or to project a certain lifestyle… they are a companion and part of your family. You will have to spend money on them and they deserve regular attention. Currently, my puppy and I are going through training and there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel or paraphrasing when the AKC Owner’s Pledge says everything perfectly. Here it is: http://www.akc.org/pdfs/cgc/pledge.pdf
I recently read a quote about dogs from BarkBox that I believe sums up a dog’s life perfectly:
“They might only be here a part of our lives, but to them you are their whole life.”
OK… I’m off my soapbox now – haha.
Now, there are a few specific questions I want to touch on briefly because I just feel they are too important not do to so.
I contemplated getting on several breeders’ waiting lists, but most require a deposit so understand all the terms of the deposit as should you decide to get on more than one list you may end up forfeiting one of your deposits.
Regarding price, a purebred dog will likely cost more than a mixed breed dog and prices will vary from breeder to breeder although they should be in the same range. If you feel you can trust the breeder and they’re going to give you a good healthy dog that will live a long time then it’s well worth the price of the dog.
I want to share one last thing that surprised me when talking to some of the breeders. Some of the breeders may actually pick your puppy for you. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? If you had this image in your mind where you’d go to the breeder, play with a litter of puppies and have this magical connection then I hate to burst your bubble as it may not happen.
And after my breeder explained it to me it actually makes more sense. These breeders spend many weeks with these puppies taking care of them (often around the clock) and see each develop their own personality. They test them for a variety of things some of which include hunting ability, temperament, aptitude, etc. So I prepared a very detailed fact sheet for by breeder including information about: my home, how active I am, time I can devote to the dog and the type of dog I wanted (gender, alpha/beta/omega, previous dogs owned, hunting vs. family dog, my plan for training and socialization, etc.). I know some people are particular about the coat and coloration of the dog, but those traits can change as the puppy grows. I would tell you not to even consider this as there are no guarantees. And if you’re honest with your breeder (and yourself) about who you are and what you’re looking for in a dog your breeder can pick out the dog that best matches your needs. Trust me when I say having a healthy dog that meshes with your personality, family and lifestyle is far better than having a dog that looks a certain way.
And on that note, if you’ve been able to take away at least one thing from this blog that helps you in any way then that makes it well worth the time I spent writing it.
Wow! It’s been quite a few months since I’ve posted anything new. Needles to say I haven’t been sitting around twiddling my thumbs… a house, work and a dog among other things always keeps me moving. That being said I wanted to share with you a project for one of my favorite rooms in my house… the garage!
I think I spend more time in the garage than any of my other rooms. The garage floor was stripped, pressure washed and epoxy coating applied. Walls and trim were painted and all the essential components strategically placed i.e. sports equipment, dartboard, workbench, tools, storage racks, wall decor and most importantly… the beer fridge. I just didn’t know where I wanted to keep all of my yard tools and I didn’t want to drill into the walls so I found this fantastic idea.
And I need to give full credit to the “Gardenista” as this was not my idea. Her page for reclaiming a file cabinet for tool storage can be found here:
For this project, you’ll want to plan in advance what you intend on storing inside your cabinet and you’ll need the following items:
- A file cabinet.
- 4-6 caster wheels per file cabinet.
- All-purpose primer.
- Self-drilling metal screws.
- Peg board.
- White all-purpose gloss paint.
- Paint (color of your choice).
- Pain roller, brush, tape, drop cloth, etc.
- And tools (drill, hack saw, Dremel, etc.)!!!
- NOTE: During pre-drilling you may go through a few drill bits so be sure to buy a couple of extra.
If you don’t have the tools borrow them and the most expensive items you’ll have to buy will be the caster wheels and likely the file cabinet… the other items are nominal in price.
This is just a cool project for anyone to dress up their garage and it can be personalized for any color or theme. You’re only limitation is your imagination. Be sure to read this several times over before you proceed… or not as us men aren’t so good at following directions at times. Yeah… you know who you are.
First, I acquired two four-drawer file cabinets for $15 each on CraigsList. By the way, I got the extra deep file cabinets so the cabinet would be taller (52” tall x 15” wide x 26.5” deep). After removing the drawers, I used a Dremel (or you could use a hack saw) to cut and remove any crossbeams I didn’t want to keep as I left several in to serve as compartments for storing different tools. And the cut doesn’t have to be pretty, but you certainly don’t want to reach in there and cut yourself either so be sure you file down those sharp edges.
Now, we really start to see the project coming to life – it’s time to paint. I wiped down the file cabinet with a generic all-purpose cleaner and applied the all-purpose primer. And no I didn’t have to sand anything from the glossy finish you normally see on metal file cabinets. I did however apply two coats of primer. Next, I painted the pegboard a generic gloss white to match the racing strips.
While the cabinet and pegboard were drying, I measured the bottom of the file cabinet, which would be the back if it were standing up, and cut the plywood the same dimensions then subtracted ¼” on each side so the plywood would be slightly recessed when attached. Now, measure, mark and install your six (6) castor wheels evenly spaced on each file cabinet. Similarly, I measured the side (or bottom) of the cabinet for pegboard placement and cut it to the same minus ¼” on each side so it also would be recessed when attached.
Just so you know, on most if not all file cabinets the bottom of the cabinet will have no bottom – this is where your pegboard will attach. So I painted the file cabinet standing upright like it would stand if it were being used like… well a file cabinet. You do however need to tape off where your racing stripes “will be” and you can just “eye” the placement although both strips should be of equal width and run the entire length of the cabinet and around all three sides. You can see from the picture I actually taped where my racing stripes “will be” and painted Polar gray everywhere else. And I did apply two coats of Polar gray. TIME FOR RACING STRIPES!!!
Be sure the width “between” your racing strips is the standard width of any masking tape (I used one inch) and tape the racing stripes “outline” as shown in the picture below. Because (and I know I shouldn’t start a sentence with “because”) I really wanted the white stripes to pop I applied three coats of glossy white paint. Be sure that as soon as you finish painting and you’re certain you have nothing else to paint pull off the tape while the paint is still wet. This way you get those nice hard lines without the paint being pulled off had you waited until the paint dried.
It’s time to attach the pegboard bottom with caster wheels. I flipped the cabinet over on a cloth to protect my paint, laid the plywood (with caster wheels mounted) on top of the cabinet, centered it and pre-drilled my holes through the plywood and the metal. You do want to make sure that when pre-drilling you get enough metal from the file cabinet “lip” for the metal screws to catch so take some extra time in this stage. You know what they say measure twice cut once… same concept. Now, attach your plywood to the bottom using the metal screws spacing them appropriately as you see fit. Next, do the same thing with the pegboard on the open end of the file cabinet. Center it on all sides, pre-drill and attach with metal screws.
If you have the cabinet right side up on its wheels you’ll notice you can see the plywood and that ugly brown color. If you’re a little bit of a perfectionist like me then you may want to paint the side of the plywood showing the same color as the rest of the cabinet… I painted mine.
And now… we’re done! I have to tell you that you’re going to have more than one person envious of your new cabinet. All of my parts, except the file cabinets, were purchased at Lowe’s. Since I go to Lowes regularly enough to where some of the staff members know me by name, they thought the project came out quite nicely and asked me if I would build them a few. Unfortunately, while I did enjoy building the cabinets I think two is my limit for now.
So load those bad boys up with yard tools (or anything for that matter) and enjoy yet another functional and aesthetically pleasing component to your man cave.
Hope everyone enjoyed a nice and safe Thanksgiving and Christmas and you were able to do so surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. The holidays for many of us are synonymous with many things including good food and a lot of it. We all have are signature dishes, drinks and traditions, but one thing it means to me is… hushpuppies.
So what is a hush puppy do you ask? It is by many definitions and that of Wikipedia:
a savory, starch-based food made from cornmeal batter that is deep fried or baked in small ball or sphere shapes, or occasionally oblong shapes. Hushpuppies are frequently served as a side dish, usually at seafood restaurants.
I was raised in the South and where there are many southern delicacies (like any part of the country) including shrimp and grits (I’ll share this recipe later as well along with my secret ingredient), barbecue, catfish stew (see previous blog), a smorgasbord of seafood dishes and served with many of them… the hushpuppy.
What I’m about to tell you is a story ten years in the making… one of trial, error, frustration and finally “The Thrill of Victory preceded by the Agony of Defeat.” Wait – that’s the intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports that I watched growing up. OK… it wasn’t so dramatic but it did take me over ten years to create the perfect hush puppy recipe.
You might ask what’s so hard about frying hushpuppies… more than you think. Much like making meatballs from scratch a frequent mistake is to overcook the outside and undercook the inside while creating a delectable treat that awakens the taste buds and leaves you wanting more. The first few years were pretty bad. My family was very patient and cordial as they attempted to eat the bricks I was serving… which were later used to build a fire pit. Haha!
Last year I purchased this handy dandy “quick-drop” hush puppy batter dropper to drop the them quickly into the oil rather than spooning them and even still they were not holding together they way I wanted. Then my twin brother and sister (shared credit given to both) decided to put the batter in ice cube trays in the freezer and it worked like a charm! I simply scooped them out with a spoon, they stayed to consistency in a nice oval shape and cooked to a nice golden brown… heaven on earth. So last year they were almost perfect and this year we plain and simply – nailed it! Not only are the hushpuppies soft… they even taste great cold.
When I prepare them I do not use any of the optional ingredients only because we have a lot of kids and they may not like them. However, when I cook in the kitchen whether it be shrimp and grits, catfish stew, fish tacos, etc. I do enjoy trying new ingredients all the time. That being said feel free to try my recipe many years in the making and hope you enjoy them.
Serving Size: 25 to 30 hushpuppies
*Double to make four ice cube trays full (64 hushpuppies).
1 1/2 cups Gold Medal unbleached
1/2 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar (then add to taste)
1 large egg
1-1/4 cups buttermilk (then add to taste)
vegetable oil, for frying
Optional Items to Add
2 cans of MINCED sweet kernel corn or creamed corn.
1/3 cup minced red onion
2 tsp onion powder
1/3 cup sweet onion
¼ cup orange marmalade
In a large bowl, whisk together onion, flour, cornmeal, corn kernels, baking powder, salt, sugar and onion powder.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cover and chill 1 – 2 hours checking consistency for ice cube shape.
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat with 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in it. Heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees F.
Drop tablespoonfuls of the chilled batter, about 6 at a time, into the oil. Fry and flip until both sides are a deep golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined tray to drain and cool slightly.
Fry remaining batter in batches (making sure the oil is always at 350 degrees and allow hushpuppies to cool just slightly before serving.
Now my twin brother, whose sole responsibility is to make the honey butter came up with the idea to add cream cheese and cinnamon so feel free to use, adapt and make it your own. He uses a blender and although I’ve never seen him make it as I was busy with the hushpuppies it amazes me how light and creamy the honey butter is that he makes… you could bottle it and sell it – it’s just that good!
Add 1 cup of butter.
Add honey to taste.
Add 1 oz of cream cheese (whipped).
Add cinnamon sugar to taste.
A funny story about the laws of supply and demand during our time at the beach this past Thanksgiving. I’m so busy prepping turkeys, frying them and watching the turkey fryer (as I don’t like to leave it unattended for safety reasons) that I’m downstairs in the cold salivating over hushpuppies I just cooked as I only had 2-3 and then had to go back downstairs. I get a break after the first turkey, go upstairs, look in the serving dish where the hushpuppies were and… there were none. Keep in mind that this is about 60 hushpuppies gone in less time than it takes to fry a turkey. I asked “where are the hushpuppies?” I was told they’re gone. I laughed and replied “no, really where is the other bowl.” Unbeknownst to me every single hushpuppy was eaten, everyone loved them and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
BY: Cory Prado