Saturday, May 30, 2015

My flower garden

It doesn't look like much now, but in the coming weeks, this should be a kaleidoscope of color!  I don't remember the name of the tall plant in the center, but it has bright red blooms by mid-summer.  In the front are Black-eyed Susans, that soon will be covered in bright orange blooms with dark centers.

This is the beginning of a bloom of one variety of Shasta Daisy.

Another variety of Shasta Daisy.

A single bloom on one of the coneflower plants.  Later in the summer, these plants will be tall and covered with purple blooms.

I have to plant deer-resistant plants in my front yard.  But "deer-resistant" doesn't mean deer PROOF!  So I sprinkle grated Irish Spring bath soap and human hair around my plants in my never ending war with the deer!

Watch for later updates on my garden this season.

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!