Saturday, May 23, 2015

I love this coffee maker!

I am a coffee snob.  I like good coffee.  Do not interrupt me when I am enjoying my coffee in the morning.  Even Morgan knows that.

After much time sitting at the computer going through coffee maker reviews and talking to a few people, I chose the Kitchen Aid 12 cup thermal coffee maker.  "Thermal?"

How can a metal container keep coffee warm without a warming plate underneath.  "I would never go back to a glass pot," someone wrote on my Facebook page.

This morning I enjoyed my first three cups of coffee from this wonderful machine!  There really is a difference in coffee makers.  Suddenly I was sitting in a 5 star restaurant enjoying a truly remarkable cup of coffee. . . okay, I was really sitting on the couch in my cozy robe and slippers with Morgan in my lap.

May God grant that this coffee maker lasts as long as I do!

The features I like about it:

  • removable water tank for easy cleaning
  • two settings for either regular or bold taste (I chose BOLD!)
  • easy programming capabilities
  • well constructed, thick pot
  • it can be programmed to turn on anytime (good feature for weekdays)

If I had to choose one less-than-desirable thing about it, it would be it's size.  It borders on "massive!"  That is a small price to pay for the results.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Another super avocado recipe

You all know I'm hooked on avocado.  It packs a lot of nutritional value and can be used in so many ways.

I'm not sure if you'd call this one a salsa or dip.  Whatever you want to call it, it's great!

2 avocados, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
4 oz. kalamata olives
1 4 oz. can mild green chilis, diced
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
generous dash of garlic powder

Combine the first four ingredients.  Mix well.

Pour the juice of one lemon over the mixture.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and really sprinkle on the garlic powder!

Serve over chips or crackers.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to everyone who is privileged to be a Mom.  These are the flowers my kids sent me.  They are beautiful.  The photo doesn't do them justice.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

New Children's Hospital in Rochester

When I was in the third grade, I was hospitalized with an appendectomy.  I was placed in "the children's ward" as it was called.  My hospital bed was among 12 others in a large room, each in a tiny cubicle.  The bathroom was down the hall.  The walls were bare.  Nothing about the atmosphere spoke of positive reinforcement.  My hospital chart was hooked at the foot of my bed, open for anyone walking by to take a look.

Times have changed!

The new Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong is about to open its doors to the community and what an upbeat, patient and family friendly place it is.  When you enter the lobby, you know you are in a welcoming place.  There are play areas for siblings of patients.  What really is behind that secret wall???  There are quiet areas with comfortable furniture.  Each floor has a theme.  The first floor features waterways and there are delightful panoramas of regional lake and streams.  Another floor features meadows.  Still another displays cityscapes.

Each patient room is a private room with views of the city.  On the eighth floor, you can actually watch planes land and take off at the Rochester airport several miles away.

The rooms have a bathroom with a shower.  On each patient floor there are inviting lounges, some adults only, others for teens.  They even included a family kitchen for parents to prepare snacks or light meals.

The hospital planners spoke with families of former patients to get their feedback on design and amenities and it shows.

What a dynamic place to serve the needs of sick children in the Rochester region.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A chicken in the smoker today

It is an absolutely beautiful weekend here in Rochester.  A perfect day to fire up the smoker this afternoon for the first time this year.

I got into smoking meat last summer and wish I had tried it years earlier.  It is so very easy and the result is moist, delicious meat.

There are a lot of excellent smokers on the market.  Being a Weber fan, I went with the Weber Smokey Mountain and I've been very satisfied with it.  I even managed to assemble it by myself!

Right now my chicken is soaking in brine in the refrigerator.  I use a simple brine recipe:

4 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar

The chicken needs to be totally covered in water, so I triple the recipe to accomplish this.

Soak a couple handfuls of wood chips (hickory, apple, whatever you like) in water.

About an hour before I'm ready to place it in the smoker, I will take it out of the brine, pat it dry with paper towels and then rub it down with olive oil, followed by using this rub recipe:

4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
a pinch of oregano
a pinch of thyme

Be generous in spreading the rub on the chicken.  When I'm finished, I leave it sitting on a cutting board at room temperature for at least 45 minutes.  During this time I set up the smoker.

Light up the charcoal.  When it is ready, place it in the bottom of the smoker.  Throw in the soaked wood chips.

Fill the water bowl almost to the top with water and place that in the smoker.  I use silicone gloves to do this since the charcoal is really hot!  You can get creative here by placing chopped fresh rosemary in the water bowl.

Next place the prepared chicken on the grate, close the lid, open the top and bottom vents about half way.  From this point until the chicken is ready - about 2 1/2 hours, but check with a meat thermometer - all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the wonderful aroma coming from the smoker.  Occasionally check the inside temperature of the smoker and adjust the vents to keep the thermometer within the "gray zone."  On my smoker, the thermometer has a marked zone which is optimal for smoking meat.

Avoid opening the lid during the smoking process.  Towards the end of the smoking time, I will lift the lid and insert a digital thermometer to test for doneness, but actually, after you've done a few chickens, you can tell when it's ready by looking at it.

The Smokey Mountain Smoker has an opening on the side to insert a digital thermometer so that you can gauge the temperature during the smoking process.  I've never used that.

When you remove the meat, close all the vents, leave the lid on and leave the smoker to cool down completely and I do mean COMPLETELY!  On one occasion last year, I brought the smoker inside the three season room when it was cool to the touch and I was "sure" all the coals were dead. . . WRONG!  Now I leave it outside overnight to remove all doubt!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How many Moms are guilty of this? I am!

How many of these did you say to your kids when they were growing up???

Sunday, April 26, 2015


When I became interested in homemade smoothies back in the winter, I carefully scoured the internet for recipes.  As I made each one, I made a note of the ones I liked and the ones I didn't care for.

Then I got adventurous with what I put in the Vitamix.  And THAT'S where the trouble started!  When I found one of my own concoctions that I liked, I would forget to write down what I put in it and of course, the next time I pulled out the Vitamix, I couldn't remember what the last one was made with.

It is true that just about any fruit and/or vegetable you put in a smoothie is tasty and very nutritious, which is why I got into the smoothie craze in the first place.  But everyone has their own likes and dislikes.

I just put together a very good one, which I am drinking as I write this.  Here are the ingredients:

about 2 cups of loosely chopped kale
one orange
one small Empire apple
chopped mango
a scoop of raw honey
a scoop of coconut oil

How big is a "scoop", you ask?  Well, I stick a teaspoon into the jar and whatever I come up with is a scoop!

You really don't need to fuss with exact measurements with a smoothie.  And while I do have some that I like better than others, you really can't go wrong with what you throw in the blender.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Where the buffalo roam

I had hoped this would be a lighthearted post that would draw laughter.

Sadly, it won't.

When I learned earlier today that a herd of buffalo had escaped from a farm near Albany, New York and crossed the New York State Thruway, all kinds of comical scenes popped into my head!  Imagine driving down the Thruway and thinking you see a herd of buffalo on the major highway that runs across New York.

Just now I have learned all the animals were shot and killed with the blessings of the New York State Police and the owner of the herd.  It was agreed that there are no acceptable cages to corral the animals to return them to the farm.  Obviously, a group of such large animals running loose is a danger.

I'm not sure why buffalo are raised.  For food?  I don't know.  It is sad they needed to be put down.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Avocado Heaven!

I am on an avocado kick these days.  It is highly nutritious and if you look around, there are many ways to prepare it that are really good. 

My newest discovery is avocado toast.  A quick internet search brought up a lot of different varieties.  It is quick, good for you, and filling.

Here are just a few that I like.  I would love to hear from you on your favorite ways to use avocado.

  • Toast a thick slice of bread of your choice.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Combine mashed or finely chopped avocado, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Spread on the toast and enjoy.
  • Cover a toasted slice of bread with olive oil.  Combine avocado, chopped coriander, a dash of hot sauce and salt and pepper.
  • On a slice of toast, still hot from the toaster, place thinly sliced cheddar.  Then cover the cheese with sliced avocado.
Another way I eat avocado is sliced on crackers sprinkled with salt.  Goes great with a glass of wine.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A scam I was unaware of

I wasn't going to put this on my blog.  It certainly doesn't fit the tone of my posts.  But if it alerts someone else, then it will be worthwhile.

Recently, I drove to my annual cousins' reunion down South.  The first night I was in a Hampton Inn in Kentucky.  At 3:30 am, my phone rang and woke me from a dead sleep.  A "friendly" male voice on the line apologized for disturbing me.  He explained the hotel computer had crashed and they had lost all their registration information and "I just need some information from you."

"Can't this wait until the morning?" I asked in a not too pleasant voice.

"No, I'm awfully sorry, but we need this information now."  He asked for the credit card information I used to pay for the room.

When I continued to resist, he became more assertive.  I was told if I could not come to the front desk right then, he would send Security to my room to escort me.

THAT is when I hung up!  I would have hung up much sooner had I not been asleep when the phone rang.

The next morning I checked with the front desk.  They told me they would never call my room at such an hour.  But the more disturbing piece of information was when they told me the call had to have come from inside.  It is not possible for someone outside the hotel to call directly to a guest's room.  A guest who overheard me talking to the desk said she had heard of this type of thing.

No real harm was done, other than disturbing my sleep.  If this man's motive was to get me to leave my hotel room at that hour, he failed.

When I travel, I will smile and say hello to anyone who I have eye contact with.  But beyond that, I don't get involved with strangers, no matter how "safe" they may appear.