Monday, April 25, 2016

An exciting new salad recipe

I am always looking for ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my meals.  There is my fruit salad, made of chopped fruits of whatever I have in the house:  cantalope, honeydew melon, blueberries, kiwi fruit, grapes, strawberries, mango. . .

On the vegetable side, there are salads, stir fry, and my weekend, "clean-out-the-fridge-omelette" and don't forget smoothies.

Here is a new salad recipe I ran across today that caught my fancy so much that after work I ran to Wegmans to get the ingredients that I didn't already have.

Equal parts of:

roma tomatoes
cucumber
avocado
red onion
cilantro

Chop all of the above and place in mixing bowl.

Combine the following:

juice of one lemon
salt
olive oil

Pour this over the salad and enjoy.

I like the blend of flavors, not to mention the high nutritional value.

Try it!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A brisket in the smoker today

There is a brisket in my smoker right now, slowly cooking to perfection!  My all time favorites to cook in a smoker are a brisket and a pork shoulder with Carolina BBQ sauce served at the table.

Here is the recipe I used today, although I have others that I also like.

Marinade for a brisket

1 pint orange juice
juice from 2 limes
juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 cup olive oil

Combine ingredients with a whisk.  Score the brisket so that the juice penetrate s into the meat.  Marinate at least a few hours, or better, overnight.  I have a Tupperware marinating container that I've had for years and I like that because the bottom of each side has ridges so that the juice covers the underside.

About an hour before you are ready to put it in the smoker, take it out of the marinade sauce and lay on a large cutting board.  Use the rub recipe below to cover both sides and then let it sit on the counter for 45 minutes:

3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon cumin

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and rub into meat.

Until last summer, I never cooked a brisket.  I believed all the war stories I heard over the years about it being a junk piece of meat, "most often made into hamburger meat."  That can be true if you don't know how to properly prepare it!  Put it in a smoker for most of the day and you will have the tastiest and most tender piece of meat you could ever imagine.

One of life's greatest simple pleasures is smoking meat.  Sitting by the smoker, taking in the aroma, letting your mind rest from the stress of the everyday world, not to mention the wonderful flavor when your meat is done, it doesn't get any better than this!

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Thank You note. . .

. . . that brought me to tears.

I received the following handwritten note in the mail today:

Dear Sherry,

I cannot tell you how much we appreciate you planning your Alabama trip around the wedding!  It meant so much that you were there to celebrate this special occasion with Jeremy and Emily!!  Lots of good memories made those two days!  Take good care and get to planning next year!

Much love,
Rita

Folks, I work in a high stress environment where I am often "kicked in the face" figuratively.  Rarely, does anyone say thank you to me, much less in a handwritten note.  My work life is so PC oriented that it is disgusting and throw in the politics. . . well, I'm sure you understand.  I know I am not the only working stiff that experiences this type of thing.

Thank you, Rita.  You made my day a lot brighter.

And I was honored to be invited to this storybook wedding.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ramblings

I still find myself laughing and thinking about things that happened on my trip last week.  There is Aunt Ilene. . .94 years old and can still get out on the dance floor. "I'm not coming back next year [to our cousins' reunion]".  We have heard that since year one.  In 2009, our first reunion, she said, "I'm glad to be here one more time [on our property where we hold the reunion]"

It is warm this weekend in Western New York. . . warm and sunny.  The dogs have enjoyed spending more time outside running and fighting over sticks.

It is nice to see people again around the neighborhood.  People walking dogs, or riding bikes, or pushing baby strollers.

"You were gone last week, weren't you?"  My next door neighbor called across the fence while I was sitting out back with the dogs.

"Yes!"

"Your trip down South that you take every year?"

"That's right!"

After the third day when the front door outdoor light wasn't on and she never saw any lights in the house, she figured I was gone.

Drum roll, please. . . Tomorrow I'm going to cook baby back ribs on the grill!  All of you know how much I enjoy cooking outside, whether it is ribs on the grill or smoking a chicken, or better still, a brisket.  One of the joys of smoking meat is sitting by the smoker, looking up at the white puffy clouds moving across the sky and taking in the aroma coming from the smoker.

I made my usual pilgrimage to Costco a little while ago.  I really love that store.  I'm finding out many of the Kirkland brand of products are top rated.  Their dog food is one of them.  Their laundry products are comparable to Tide and Downy and a lot less expensive.

Enough of my chit chat. . . the dogs are letting me know it is time to feed them!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cousins' Reunion, Part 2

On Thursday, most of the cousins' had arrived.  A few couldn't make it and they were missed.  Next year!

I arrived before anyone else and went about trimming back the overgrowth and weeds along the road in and around our "gathering space."  When Pam and Aunt Ilene got there, they joined me.  Yes, Aunt Ilene is 94 years old this year and she pulled more weeds than anyone else. . . really!

This year I stumbled onto an idea of bringing beach balls to throw into the pond and use for target practice.  That was the most fun!  I had 4 inch diameter and 12 inch diameter.  By accident, I discovered if you aim just below the ball onto the surface of the water, the ball goes flying into the air, staying intact for another round!  "Hell, Sherry, why'd you get 12 inch diameter?  That's like shooting a fat boy at close range."  Yes, that's Kenny!!!  One  ball floated into an area that wasn't safe to shoot at due to the flat terrain and the possibility that a stray bullet could travel far enough, even through massive trees and bushes, to hit something or someone in the distance.  I'll bet that one is still there next year, if we can get to it.  Some parts of the pond are heavily lined with bushes.

On Friday, we headed to Pell City, Alabama, out from Birmingham for the wedding of Jeremy (Rita's son) and Emily.  To say it was a storybook wedding is an understatement.


This is me and Lynn.  Lynn and her husband and children have been friends with Kip and Rita for years.  She is our adopted cousin!


Isn't this a beautiful setting for a wedding?  The weather was sunny and warm.  This is Applewood Farm in Pell City.  The reception was held in the Chandelier Barn just out of view of this picture.  Had it rained, the staff was ready to instantly set up in the "barn."  Thankfully, that wasn't needed.


Emily being escorted to the altar by her Dad.


Mr. and Mrs. Jeremy Wiggins!


You can click on these pictures to get a better look.


Just like all the other cousins' reunions, every year since 2009, this one was just a wonderful time, well worth the two day drive each way.  I am so fortunate to have the crazy, fun loving, wacky cousins that I have.  

Friday, April 8, 2016

Another great reunion has ended

Our eighth annual cousins' reunion is now over.  It was a fun time and one I will not forget!  It had twists and turns of the unexpected that will give me a lot of laughs going forward.

I decided to arrive in the small Alabama town a day earlier than usual just to spend quiet time on the land that has been in my family since back in the 1800's.  After driving twelve hours the first day and eight hours the next day, it was a relief to arrive at my destination.

The property is out in the middle of no where, miles from civilization.  I like it that way.  It is a true escape.  "I don't like you back there all by yourself," more than one of my cousins said to me when they knew of my plans.

The old road, actually, it is more a "path" than a road, leading back to the property was ragged with weeds and branches slowly covering it.  I pulled out my folding chair and planned to read my book.  But I found myself really taken in with the solitude, the peacefulness.  All around me were tall trees, mostly pine, a quiet pond, bright skies.  The only sounds were the birds singing and the breeze blowing in the trees.  Occasionally a car drove by on the paved road, about a quarter mile from where I sat.  I could feel the stress of the everyday world draining from my body.  My work life is frantic, full of politics and conflict.  Even the strongest soul needs to escape this routine once in awhile.

"Ping!"  That meant a text.  Two of my cousins found every excuse in the book to text me to check up on me.  I didn't mind that.  It's a good thing to be able to escape the real world but still be connected "just in case."  And it is comforting that somebody cares.

Once or twice I got up from my chair and walked around a bit, imagining the scene a century ago of my dad and his siblings playing on this very land and helping out in the cotton fields.  My grandparents farmed this land with animals and cotton fields.

When I finally decided to leave and return to my hotel, I was "attacked" by two big dogs running at me as I got out to close the gate to the property.  I know dogs and I knew these were not vicious dogs.  One of them jumped up on me wrapping his legs around me, clamoring for attention, his tail wagging back and forth.  His owner came running after him, embarrassed that he had jumped on me.

"I saw you go back there and was so worried about you being back there by yourself!  There are snakes back there!"

Laughing, I said, "Yeah, I get the same thing from my cousins."  Truth is I have never seen a snake on the property.

I'll continue with my adventures in following posts!




Sunday, April 3, 2016

Snow in April?


I forgot to put my car in the garage last night and look what happened!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

DOGS. . . Ugh!

I wanted to see if Bailey is mature enough to give her a nice dog bed that is much more comfortable than the old towels I throw into her cage.

Last night I put two old bed pillows covered with two old pillow cases in the cage.  At night, both Bailey and Morgan sleep in an oversized cage.  Morgan doesn't need a cage, but it prevents me from stumbling over her if I get up in the middle of the night.  Also, it allows me to get out of bed in the morning without being attacked by an over excited dog. . . Yes, Morgan, I love you too, but could we hold off on the claw marks and wet tongue on my face the second the alarm goes off???

Things went well.  I noted there was less moving around in the cage during the night.  This morning both pillows were intact.  I was proud of them both.

Maybe I judged too quickly.  A little while ago, I put them back in the cage so that I could get some work done around the house without worrying about the two of them getting into trouble - you know,  the "when things get too quiet" syndrome.

I was busy in the kitchen when I heard that unmistakeable sound.  Going to the bedroom, I saw it.  Bailey was ripping away at the pillow and the filling starting to come out.  Now that is all I need for her to swallow a big chunk of that!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My annual trek South

Before long, I will be heading South for my annual cousins' reunion.  This will be our eighth year getting together on the old homestead where my grandparents raised cotton. . . and four children.  It is a fun time and one in which we look forward to all year.


We enjoy target shooting, walking the land, fishing, and just telling tall tales that get bigger every year.  Like the time when we were kids and there was a dead white bird with a long neck at one end of the pond.  Someone used a small branch to prop up the bird and Kenny, who was at the far end of the pond, shot it with his rifle.  "YOU GOT IT, KENNY!"  From his view, he thought the bird was alive and for a short while (well, depending on who you believe), Kenny thought he had hit it!


It is a two day drive down and two day drive back for me.  Yes, I am tired after that.  But it is a welcome change of pace for me.  I drive along on the interstate and watch Spring come alive the further South I drive, listening to my satellite radio, and enjoying the scenery.  I drive through or around 8 large cities but out on the open highway, it is a relaxing drive with no schedule to meet and being my own boss.


It is important to keep in touch with your roots and believe me when I tell you, nobody has the kind of crazy, colorful relatives that I was blessed with.  There will be a lot of laughs.  Political correctness?  What's that? 


Watch for pictures in future posts.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Apple, Cauliflower, and Grape Salad

This one's a sure winner.  You will love the blend of flavors.  And it is a nutritious lunch or part of a dinner meal.  Take it to your next potluck!


2 sweet, crisp apples, chopped
1 small head cauliflower
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup grapes

Combine the above.

Dressing:

1 cup mayo
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon horseradish

Combine the dressing ingredients and then stir into the salad.

I couldn't wait till it chilled!  It's good without sitting in the fridge.