Saturday, February 18, 2017

First of the season grilling

It was like a nice Spring day here in Western New York today.  So I dusted off the portable Weber Q grill and look what I did!




 I love the Weber Q grills.  I have a larger one for a crowd, but this smaller one is ideal for one or two people.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Nancy, may God bless your soul

At 1:30 this morning, awake, I heard a ping on my cell phone beside my bed.  I knew.  No one would be sending me a text at that time of day unless it was Robert.  "Nancy passed away at 1:25 am.  Very peaceful."  Nancy was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.  In the beginning, it looked like she might beat this awful disease.  To be honest, until just a couple of months ago, I refused to believe she wasn't going to survive.  I am an expert at denial.

Nancy and Robert have been good friends of mine for 43 years.  Soon after I arrived in Rochester, I met them.  We watched each other's children grow up.  A few years back, I was visiting my son and daughter-in-law in Virginia for Thanksgiving.  During my stay, they decorated their Christmas tree.  John held up a handmade Christmas ornament that I had seen on our tree for years as the boys were growing up.  "Mom!  Do you know where this came from?"  It was an ornament he had made in Nancy's Sunday School class decades ago.

Not long after we met, Nancy and I decided we wanted to get into backpacking and wilderness canoe camping.  What we lacked in skill and experience, we more than made up for in spirit and enthusiasm for the great outdoors.  Over the years, we spent many fun days in the Adirondacks of New York State, local day hiking and canoeing in the Western New York area, and even up in Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada. We hiked, over several years time, the 130 mile long Northville-Lake Placid Trail in the Adirondacks.  This was done, sometimes in weekend jaunts and in some sections, on week long trips.  At times it was just us.  Other times we were with a group of friends.  We had experiences that I will treasure forever.

There was the time three of us, Nancy, me, and another woman backpacked into Wanika Falls.  The leanto journal had an entry that there was a resident mouse that made his presence known during the night.  Sure enough, during the night, that rascal mouse ran non stop around the back of the lean to, through a hole, and around the back of the inside of the leanto and right over my face, multiple times.  I was in the middle between Nancy and the other woman, can't recall her name now.  When I complained, Nancy insisted I was dreaming.  "Go back to sleep," she groaned.  Unbelievably, the mouse only chose my face to run across, not the other two.  And NO, I was not dreaming!!!

One winter, we spent a long weekend in the Keene Valley area of the Adirondacks, staying at a bed and breakfast, and cross country skiing and snowshoeing in several locations there.  We skied the Jack Rabbit Trail, a lovely ski touring trail that runs from Tupper Lake, through Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and south toward Keene Valley.  The B&B innkeeper drove us to the Lake Placid section of the trail, after we dropped our car off at our ending point for the day.  It was an absolutely beautiful day and the snow conditions were just perfect for a wonderful day long ski through the woods.  At about the mid point, there was a small restaurant where we stopped for a welcome bowl of chili before continuing on our way.

Another day on that same trip, we decided to snowshoe up Cascade Mountain, one of the 46 High Peaks in NYS.  The trail conditions that day were not good at all, but turning back was not in our vocabulary.  We should have had crampons on our boots.  Crampons go over the bottom of your boot and are covered in spikes from toe to heel to make it a snap to walk or climb on ice.  Instead we had our snowshoes, which only had one inverted V-shaped "claw."

We weren't doing too badly, until we reached a steep pitch of solid ice.  It was probably close to being a 45 degree angle uphill and maybe 30 feet from start to finish.  "I'm not going up THAT!" Nancy proclaimed.

"Just give me a minute, I'll figure this out," I responded.

"NO WAY!" Nancy wasn't going to have any of this insanity.

This sheet of ice was surrounded on three sides, bottom and two sides going up, with small evergreen trees.  "I got it!" I yelled.  "We can hold onto these evergreens and pull ourselves up!"

She wouldn't budge in her determination. . . and neither would I.

I started up, slowly, but determined.  In maybe ten or fifteen minutes, I made it to the top.  Nancy was still at the bottom, not giving an inch!  I finally convinced her to try it and all the way up, she was calling me every bad word she could think of, even though she was doing just fine making her way up.

"Just HOW do you suggest we get back down?" She was really angry!

"I don't know, we'll figure something out," I replied.

The summit was just minutes away from that spot and an easy walk, almost flat, to get there.  The view was spectacular.

Miraculously, out of no where, we came upon a young man.  I asked him if he had suggestions on how we could get back down "that icy spot!"

"Oh, that is the fun part!" he promised us with a big smile.  He pulled an ice pick out of his pack that ice climbers use.  "All you do is sit down, hold the point of the pick in the ice on your side and slide down, fast or slow, depending on how hard you push on the pick."

Nancy's face lit up in an instant and she forgot about being angry!  I let her go first.  She was laughing hysterically, even climbing back up to do it a second time before giving me my turn!

Now I am sure this young man told all his friends about these two crazy women he ran into that day on Cascade Mountain.

As Nancy's illness and strength gained the upper hand on her, we found different ways to spend time together.  On two occasions in the last few months, we took outdoor chairs to Mendon Ponds Park and just sat there talking and taking in the beauty of this delightful park.

This doesn't even scratch the surface of the many good times we had over the years.  My life has been truly blessed by having Nancy as my friend.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Target shooting fun!

I just placed an order for small beachballs online, 5 inches to 9 inch diameters.

Why would I be ordering beachballs in the middle of winter, you ask?  For target shooting, of course!

Our annual cousins' reunion is coming up soon down South.  There is a pond where we gather.  Placing beachballs in slow moving water and shooting at them is a lot of fun.  If you aim just at the waterline underneath the beachball, the force of the bullet sends the intact ball flying into the air.  Or hitting the ball dead center makes it "explode."

Another fun idea - fill a plastic gallon jug with water and close the lid.  Stand back because you may get wet!  Fire a hollow point bullet into the jug and water goes flying everywhere!

To set the record straight, this is done in a safe environment with no chance of a stray bullet traveling long distances and harming an individual or animal.  The other side of the pond, across from where we shoot, has a backdrop of land sloping down to the water.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Recipe Search - Can you help?

A reader responded this week to one of my blog posts from back in 2011.  She stated she learned to cook an Asian dish in her Home-Ec class in the 1960's, had lost the recipe and asked if I might know of such a recipe.  I have a collection of cookbooks from the old "Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers" that were popular in the 1960's.  A careful search through each of them turned up a dead end!

Here are the ingredients that the reader remembers:  ground meat, sausage, rice, soy sauce, bean sprouts, topped by dry noodles.  Do any of you have such a recipe?  I remember the "dry noodles" that were popular on Asian dishes back then but don't know the proper term for them.

I even did a search on allrecipes.com because that site has a search engine for recipes with specific ingredients.  Didn't get anywhere with that either!

If you have this recipe, I will post it on my blog for the reader. . . she didn't give any contact information so I told her to check my blog in case that recipe shows up!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A lazy frigid winter day


It's too cold to run and play for long outside so we decided to take a nap while Sherry is busy reading her book.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My new bird house



When I moved here 20 years ago, there was a wooden bird house on the electric power pole right outside my kitchen window.  It was somewhat weathered so had been there awhile.  I enjoyed sitting at my kitchen table watching the birds go in and out and when the new babies hatched, I watched them learn to fly.

Several years ago, the pesky squirrels began chewing the roof off the house and the birds left.  For so many years, the squirrels were not a problem.  

I just got a brand new bird house from EvensensProductions.com.  It arrived yesterday.  Bailey and Morgan stood guard as I opened the package.  You would think they felt a need to inspect it before letting me near!  "Do you mind if I look at it and take a picture?" I asked them.  Morgan stepped aside.  But Bailey still needed to sniff it!

It is made of thick cypress wood.  That should deter the squirrels!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Finally, a garlic press that works!



I have probably had 4 or 5 garlic press tools over the years.  They were hard to clean, didn't work properly, and finally ended up being thrown out.  

I use a lot of garlic in recipes.  In recent years, I have just chopped up the cloves with a knife.  That is tedious work!

Enter the Rosle garlic press!  Yes, I was hesitant to spend over $40 for it.  Now I am pleased to tell you it is the best!

The basket where the garlic goes in, pulls away from the rest of the tool for easy cleaning, although still staying attached, so no worries about that piece getting lost.  And in the blink of an eye, 2 or 3 cloves placed in the basket turn out evenly crushed.  I love it!

It is stainless steel and goes right in the dishwasher.  No need to pick left on dried pieces of garlic with a toothpick!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I love a good deal!

Who doesn't like finding a good deal?  I have always had large wall calendars in my kitchen, almost always with pictures of Labrador Retrievers for each month!  Each year the price kept inching up until finally I was not willing to pay over $15.00 for them.  For 2016, I printed off twelve pages (one for each month) and pinned them to the bulletin board in my kitchen.  Plain, and no eye appeal, but they didn't cost anything either!

I was in Wegmans recently and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.  There was a large selection of big picture calendars for $2.99.  They had been marked down to $4.99, and then to $2.99!

They aren't Labrador Retrievers, but they are pretty outdoor scenes of paths in the woods.

And if you come in my kitchen this year, you will likely have to put up with me bragging about what a good deal my calendar was!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Roasted Veggies and Chicken





Now this is a real winner!  If you are looking for a recipe that is quick and easy, tastes good, and highly nutritious, this one is it!

Cut up a variety of vegetables into bite size pieces.  Go for color.  I used eggplant, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, broccoli, red onion, and brussels sprouts.  Cut up one or two chicken breasts into bite size pieces.  Combine on a foil covered baking sheet.

Add 5 or 6 chopped garlic cloves, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and paprika.  Drizzle with olive oil.  With your hands, mix up all the ingredients and spread over the sheet.

Roast in a 450 oven for 15.

MMMM-Good!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Never on Sunday rule

Like most people, I look forward to watching the Tournament of Roses Parade each New Years Day.  So, after a leisurely breakfast, a pot of coffee, taking up time with the dogs, I reached for the TV remote and turned on the channel guide to see which channel would carry the parade.

Duh!  It wasn't listed.

So I did a google search on the internet to find the right channel.  This year is it on Monday, January 2. I clicked on a "Never on Sunday" link and learned why it isn't today.  The parade goes back to the late 1800's.  It was agreed that it would never be held on a Sunday because it was feared the parade would disturb the horses tied up in front of churches along the route!!!  That rule still holds today.  I would guess it has lasted this long due to Sunday being designated as NFL coverage!  I note the college bowl games that are usually on New Years Day are also delayed until tomorrow.