Audio with Static Image as a Video File

I came across a need for this when I wanted to upload an audio recording of coyotes to Facebook. FB doesn’t allow simple audio files. Nor does it allow a video file with an audio track but no video track.

I picked up the needed ffmpeg command online and adapted it to my need.

ffmpeg -loop 1 -i imagefile.jpg -i audiofile.m4a -c:a copy -c:v libx264 -shortest result.mp4

The image file should be a reasonable size, not some 3k x 4k hi res image, otherwise the resulting file will be too big. I have used a jpeg file but not tried png although I would expect that to work.

The audio file also can be in any form that ffmpeg supports but m4a works well.

Output to x264 works well for compressing the static image. And FB is happy with it.

‘-shortest’ causes it to stop on the shortest of the input files. ‘-loop 1’ causes the image to be looped for the duration of the audio file. The audio file will always be the ‘shortest’ because it is finite whereas the image is looped.

Plum Pudding

This recipe is based on “Tiny Tim’s Plum Pudding” recipe at the Taste of Home website. I see this same recipe on many sites so I can’t give credit to the original author but I can link to the site where I first found it. My modifications have been minor because it is a fine recipe to start with. But I made a few changes and notes that made a significant difference.


1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 – 15 oz cans whole plums, drained, pitted, chopped
1-3/4 cups chopped Medjool dates
2/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried cherries
1 cup golden raisins (sultana raisins)
1/2 cup dried currants
1 cup shredded carrots
1 oz brandy


Mix all dried fruit ingredients in a bowl with the brandy.
Generously grease an 8 cup pudding mold or two 4 cup pudding molds.
Chop dates.
In a medium size bowl, mix bread crumbs, flour, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
Gradually add the spice/bread crumb/flour mixture.
Drain the brandy from the dried fruits. Add the chopped dates and mix well so that the dates are well distributed.
Fold the fruits into the mixture in the large bowl.
Transfer to the pudding mold(s). Cover tightly with heavy foil and tie the foil with string to secure it.
Place on a rack in a stockpot with about 2 to 3 inches of hot water. Bring to a gentle boil and steam the pudding for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Add water as needed to prevent the stockpot from drying out.
Remove the pudding from the stockpot and let cool for 5 or 10 minutes before removing from the mold.
If serving immediately, prepare the Hard Sauce, unmold the pudding onto a serving plate, and serve warm.


  • For best results, use fresh spices. Zest a whole orange instead of using dried zest from the store. Grate nutmeg from a whole nut. You get the idea.
  • Use light or dark brown sugar. I prefer dark.
  • For dramatic presentation, pour a couple of ounces over the pudding, turn out the lights, and set it on fire when bringing it to the table.
  • Don’t use dried, already chopped dates. Use ‘fresh’ dates. They are messy to pit and chop but the result is well worth it. This alone makes a major difference in the final result.
  • For a smaller group, use two 4 cup molds. Serve one immediately and freeze the other. (Unmold it, wrap it in cheesecloth or plastic wrap, put it back in the mold, cover well and freeze.)
  • Make sure you have a way to get the hot molds out of the stockpot. I used string to create a simple kind of hanging basket that I could lift out easily.

Dr. Rebecca Lancefield’s Eggnog

I first heard about this recipe on an NPR program. The comments and recipe below were copied, in 2013, from a website whose name and URL I have long forgotten. I have made this many times over the years and always enjoyed the results.

As I recall from the NPR program, at some point Dr. Lancefield and her colleagues wondered about the science behind making this with a dozen raw eggs and nobody ever becoming sick from it. So they did an experiment. They made a batch and injected a massive dose of salmonella into it. It then sat in the fridge and was tested each week. After a short time–two or three weeks if memory serves–there was no trace of salmonella. The alcohol did what you might expect. If there is a lesson from this, I would say: Don’t skimp on the alcohol and Do make it by Thanksgiving to be consumed at Christmas.

With that said, the following is the recipe as I copied it down.

Dr. Rebecca Lancefield’s Eggnog

This recipe comes from Dr. Rebecca Lancefield (1895 – 1981), a prominent microbiologist who worked at The Rockefeller University. One of her perhaps lesser-known legacies is related to eggnog: every year, she would make eggnog in the lab before Thanksgiving, let it “mellow,” and then serve it at Christmas. Forty years later, the eggnog tradition persists in that laboratory.


12 Eggs
1 Pint Bourbon or Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey
1 Quart Rum
1 Quart Heavy Cream
1 Quart Light Cream
1/2 – 3/4 Lb Sugar (to taste)


Beat the eggs, add bourbon and rum slowly while stirring to prevent precipitation of egg proteins.
Beat heavy cream separately until it peaks and add it to the egg/bourbon/rum mix.
Add the light cream while stirring.
Add the sugar to taste while stirring. Add nutmeg to taste.
Leave standing at least overnight in refrigerator with the lid slightly ajar.
Serve after at least 2 – 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Chip Garbage Cookies

This recipe began with the basic oatmeal cookie recipe on the oatmeal box. But, of course, that wouldn’t be enough. So we added chocolate chips. Then we added nuts. And then whatever was lying around in the kitchen cupboard was fair game. Like currants or coconut or raisins.

Eventually we started calling it our Chocolate Chip Garbage Cookie recipe. No actual garbage involved, just whatever looks handy. Some people seem put off by the name but you won’t be put off by the result.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes per batch
Servings: 3 – 4 dozen cookies depending on size


1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soad
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins or black currants (optional)


Chop nuts and set aside. Measure chocolate chips and add to nuts.
Measure oatmeal and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar well. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla.
Mix baking soda and baking powder into the flour. Add to the wet ingredients slowly, mixing well.
Add remaining dry ingredients, mixing just enough to distribute well.
Put dough in refrigerator to chill while preheating oven to 375F.
Form dough into 1 – 1.5″ balls and set apart on cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on size and how you like them.


Using a #40 scoop works really well for measuring out the dough and it keeps your hands cleaner.
Another option is to roll the dough into a 1.5″ log, chill, and then cut 1/2″ slices to put on the cookie sheet. This is also useful if you want freeze half the dough for later.
Longer bake time produces crunchier cookies.
Use high quality semi-sweet chocolate chips. Ghirardelli or better.
Chilling the dough for 10 minutes after placing on the cookie sheet will reduce the spread and make higher cookies.


This recipe can be tweaked in a lot of directions depending on your preferences and imagination. The simplest is to add the optional currants or raisins. My family objects to that, so I make them without. Read on for more…

Oatmeal Cocoa Walnut

Leave out the chocolate chips. Increase the sugar to 1 cup of each and add 6 – 8 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder. (Sift it together with the flour to avoid clumping.)

Coconut Cocoa Walnut

Same as for Oatmeal Cocoa Walnut above, but replace the 2 cups of oatmeal with 2 cups of shredded coconut.


A variation that can be used with any of the above:
Replace about 1/3 of the flour with Almond flour.
Use chopped almonds for the nuts.

Banana Bread

This recipe is based mostly on a recipe for “Banana Nut Bread” from the McCall’s Cook Book (1963). The primary change is the addition of chocolate chips. This change was demanded by my family and, after some resistance, I gave it a try. We now think of it as Banana Bread Crack. With the chocolate chips, it disappears in a couple of days. Without them, I still have banana bread left after a week.


2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (a little more if using unsalted butter)
3/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup mashed (very) ripe bananas
Zest of one orange. (Fresh, please.)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli or better)


Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch bread pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, if you have it.
Sift the flour with the salt and baking powder.
Roughly chop one cup of walnuts and set aside in a bowl.
Measure out one cup of chocolate chips and add to the walnuts.
Mash two or three ripe bananas, depending on size, to get a cup or so.
Zest an orange.
In your mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and egg until smooth.
Add the mashed banana, milk, and orange zest. Mix.
Add the flour slowly, mixing until incorporated and smooth.
Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips.
Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake on middle shelf of the oven for about an hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool for 15-20 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Notes and Variations

For best flavor, use fresh orange zest. Second best would be a few drops of orange oil. If you have no other choice, use 2-3 tbsp of the dried stuff that comes in a bottle.
Don’t cheap out on the chocolate. Use whatever is your favorite high quality brand. Semi-sweet works best.
If you don’t want to put in the chocolate, increase the sugar to 1 cup and nothing else needs to be changed.
Let it cool completely to room temperature before slicing. It will tend to crumble if you try to slice it when warm.

What is Bodging?

We all should know what Building means, but “Bodging”? There are a large number of definitions of bodging which you can look up in online dictionaries. Leaving out the more prurient among them, there is some agreement that bodging is solving a problem with a “quick fix” that may not be perfect for the long term but will, hopefully, last long enough.

I am taking a broader view to include clever, unofficial fixes, updates, changes, or implementations that get the job done. I have often found that advice given by so-called experts or professionals lack imagination and have undesirable secondary costs.

Let’s take, for example, the problem of supporting a double-bowl stainless steel kitchen sink attached to the underside of a granite countertop. The initial professional installation involved some clamps that were mounted into slots cut into the underside of the granite. The clamps failed and the sink dropped within weeks of installation. This was probably due to the large in-sink disposal unit mounted under one side of the sink. Very heavy. Vibrates a lot. But it was also part of the initial installation.

The professional recommendation for a fix was to use pine 2x3s to build a frame under the sink that could support the weight. That it would. But the result would be that the cabinet under the sink would be largely unusable for any kind of storage.

My solution was to install 1×3 boards horizontally under the front and back lips of the sink, supported at the ends by small boards attached to the cabinet sides. This solution took no space away from the cabinet and was invisible unless you crawled in and looked up. Fifteen years later, the sink has not budged.

So, is that “bodging”? I think so but a very successful bodge indeed.

Mandarin Orange Cake

Well, I like baking cakes so the answer is easy. The only problem is coming up with a recipe.

My friend Mr Google hooked me up with a lot of recipes for Mandarin Orange Cake. 90% of them had the first ingredient as “yellow cake mix” or “white cake mix”. Well, that’s not happening.

But there were a few “from scratch” recipes. Because I wanted a simple recipe, I narrowed it down to two that are very similar and this is a slight variant on those. This worked out surprisingly well and was very quick and easy to make.


2 cups all purpose flour

1.5 cups white sugar

2 large eggs

22 oz canned mandarin orange pieces, drained

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 325F.

Grease a 9×13″ pan or line with parchment paper and lightly grease that.

Sift flour with baking soda and salt.

Put all ingredients in a large mixer bowl and beat well for 3 minutes.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

The cake is done when a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean.

When cold, ice with a cream cheese icing to which several drops of orange oil have been added.

Notes and Variations:

The original recipes called for a syrupy topping. I have changed to a cream cheese icing because the original is too sweet for my taste.

The original recipes listed two 11 oz cans of mandarin orange. My cans were 15 oz, so I went with 1.5 cans, more or less.

You can replace the 2 tsp vanilla with almond essence.

You can add a few drops of orange oil to the batter to kick up the flavor.

I haven’t tried this yet, but I think it would make a good layer cake if baked in two 8″ square pans or two 9″ round pans. I would use the same cream cheese icing between the layers.

You could add raisins or coconut or nuts (chopped almonds?) to the batter.