Thursday, August 10, 2017

Old Fashioned Meatloaf

This recipe comes from my 1001 Ways to Cook Southern, a Southern Living (magazine) cookbook.  I have several of the Southern Living cookbooks and love all of them.

I was never excited about meatloaf, having grown up eating a bland version of it.  This one is nothing like that.  I am sure this will become a favorite in your house.

1 tablespoon butter
3 celery ribs finely chopped
1/2 of a large onion, finely chopped
2 lb lean ground beef
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon ketchup

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.  Add celery and onion and saute until tender, about 7 minutes.

Stir together celery and onion mixture, ground beef, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.  Shape into a 10 inch x 5 inch loaf;  place on a lightly greased broiler rack.  Place rack in a foil lined broiler pan.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste and 1 tablespoon ketchup until blended.  Pour evenly over meatloaf and bake 10 to 15 minutes more or until it is no longer pink in the center.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Surprisingly delicious savory galette


Until very recently, I had never heard the term "galette."  In one of my online surfing sessions, I stumbled onto it.

By definition, a galette is a French cuisine term referring to a simple and versatile pie.  It can be sweet or savory.  Further exploration on the web had me really curious.

When I first read the ingredients and instructions for the Tomato and Onion Galette above, I was not at all excited.  But something about it kind of pushed me to try it.  It was delicious!

Here are the ingredients.  Notice there are not specific amounts given.  That is the versatile part of it!

tomatoes, cut in thick slices, about 3/4 inch
thinly sliced red onion, simmered in red wine vinegar
feta cheese
garlic
thyme
one pie crust - I made a whole wheat one, using half all purpose flour and half whole wheat

Begin by cutting the tomatoes into thick slices.  Place on a baking sheet covered in foil.  Sprinkle with a little salt if you like.  In a foil pouch, place cut up garlic with a little water and seal.  Put this on the baking sheet with the tomatoes.  Roast in a 350 oven for an hour.

Prepare the pie crust.

Simmer the sliced red onion in red wine vinegar.

Place the pie crust on a foil covered baking sheet.  Top with red onions, tomatoes, mashed garlic, and feta cheese.  Sprinkle with thyme.  Prepare the pie crust around the vegetables as shown in the picture.

Bake in a 400 degree over till crust is done - about 25 to 30 minutes.

I think you will be very pleasantly surprised with this one!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Round Steak Pie

It has been said, find the dirtiest page in a cookbook if you want the very best recipe!  That is certainly true of my copy of Fan Fare, a cookbook by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, copyright 1981.  The page this recipe is on has been splattered and wiped many times! Over the years, I have found dozens of recipes here that I have used over and over.

Round Steak Pie is a real winner!

1 lb. beef round steak, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons oil
1 can (8 oz.) tomatoes, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 package (8 oz.) frozen Italian vegetables
1 can (6 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flour

Sour Cream Biscuit Topping:
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk

In a heavy skillet, brown steak cubes in hot oil.  Stir in tomatoes and juice, onions, water, sugar, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  Cover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours.  Stir in Italian vegetables and mushrooms.  Mix sour cream and flour together and add to meat mixture.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Transfer meat to a 2 quart casserole.  Top with sour cream biscuit topping.  Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is light brown.

Topping:

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in butter until mixture is consistency of coarse crumbs.  Stir in sour cream and milk until ingredients are moistened.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth.  Pat or roll dough to an 8 inch circle.  Cut into 6 wedges and place on top of meat in casserole.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ginger Salmon

Growing up on Florida's Gulf Coast, I ate a lot of seafood - shrimp, crabs, red snapper, mullet, scallops, sheephead, just about any fish the Gulf of Mexico provided!  Seldom, if ever, do I remember eating salmon.  This is a simple and tasty main course.  Enjoy!

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 pound salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, blend olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard and ginger.
Brush the salmon fillets evenly with the olive oil mixture.  Place in a medium baking dish.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Quick Roasted Vegetables with Chicken


Roasted Vegetables with Chicken

This could easily be a complete vegetarian meal by omitting the chicken.

Start with a variety of vegetables suitable for roasting, such as bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, baby red potatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts.

Chop vegetables and a chicken breast into bite size pieces.  Put these ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour enough olive oil over to coat.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Thoroughly mix everything.

Lay out on a baking sheet with sides, lined with foil.  Bake in a 350 oven for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Great Summer Salads

These three salad recipes are favorites of mine that I've made dozens of times.  I know you will love them too.

Macaroni-Pepperoni Salad

2 cups uncooked pasta
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 cup sliced pepperoni
4 tablespoons pickle relish
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
2 cups grated cheddar

Cook and drain the macaroni pasta.
Mix all ingredients together except for the cheese.
Top with the cheese.  Make ahead and chill for best flavor.


Blueberry Salad

2  3 oz. packages of blackberry jello mix
2 cups boiling water
1  8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 can blueberries (not blueberry pie filling)

1  8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup or more chopped nuts

Dissolve the two packages of jello in the water.  Mix in the pineapple and blueberries and chill till solid.
Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract and spread over the blueberry mixture.  Toss chopped nuts over it.



Swiss Chard and Cabbage Salad

4 cups thinly sliced swiss chard leaves
1 cup chopped swiss chard stems
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
7 or 8 chopped scallion
1 can drained and rinsed garbanzo beans
1  16 oz. cottage cheese
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Combine swiss chard leaves, swiss chard stems, green and red cabbage, scallions, and garbanzo beans in a large bowl.  Add cottage cheese and mix well.  Add vinegar and stir to combine.  Sprinkle with onion and garlic powders and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Paradise Chicken

Welcome to the new version of Sherry's Place!  Here you will find recipes and all things food/kitchen related.  All the recipes are ones I have made in my kitchen or backyard and friends and family have rated excellent. 

I hope you enjoy the new theme of my blog.

Quick story about Paradise Chicken.  When I was newly married, I was not a good cook at all.  My mother was a miserable cook.  During my growing up years, we had probably less than a dozen different meals and they were never anything to brag about.  As I got older, I really wanted to be a good cook and learn a lot of different ways to cook.

I found this recipe in a magazine in the early 70's.  It had won a cooking contest.  I soon found that it was a hit with everyone I served it to and most everyone wanted the recipe.  Let me know what you think.

1 cup flour
salt
1 chicken cut into pieces (bone in)
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large can sliced pineapple, reserve juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Coat chicken with salt and flour and brown in oil.  Remove chicken to baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute pepper and onion in the same skillet as you browned the chicken for about 2 minutes.  Add water and vinegar.

Cut sliced pineapple into quarters.  Mix cornstarch and reserved juice, stir into vegetable mixture in the skillet.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils one minute.

Stir in pineapple.

Pour this over the chicken and continue baking another 20 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A new focus for Sherry's Place

I've been writing this blog since 2009.  I have a handful of regular followers (at least that I know about!).  These are mostly family and friends plus a few good friends I have met through this blog.

Lately, I've been thinking about how I could "energize" the posts or take a different approach.  When I look at my life, there are so many things that are part of who I am.  Cooking/baking, paddling, my dogs, family and friends, firearms, target shooting, day hiking in scenic places. . . I guess you could call my life a patchwork quilt!!!  Then I thought about the internet searches I do most often and it became very clear - recipes and cooking!

So that will be the emphasis for Sherry's Place going forward.  I get excited to find a new recipe that is a real winner.  Often I have mentioned here or on facebook about a new recipe I tried and liked and someone will say, "Put it on your blog."

Plans are still on the drawing board so give me a few days or couple of weeks and I'll be back!  Initial ideas are to feature great recipes, cookbooks that I find especially good, and maybe even kitchen tools that I like best.  These will be ones I have tried and really like, not a quick plop down of something I found on the internet or a magazine without preparing them first and labeling them a "Blue Ribbon!"

I have disabled comments on the blog due to some unpleasant comments from undesirable people.  But I still welcome your comments through e-mail, text messaging, or phone.

So stay tuned.  The best is yet to come!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Super new cookbook for BBQ and smoking meat


I know, every time I get a new cookbook, I say "it is the best!"  What can I say?  I'm hooked on all kinds of cooking, whether it be baking a pie or BBQ or smoking meat.

But the Southern Living Ultimate book of BBQ IS fantastic. . . really!

The South is known for it's "barbecue joints", usually little hole in the wall places run by a family and serving up some of the best BBQ you can imagine. This cookbook starts out with a primer on "what is BBQ?" It covers smoking meat and the parts of each animal - beef, poultry, lamb, and pork.

THEN it gets into recipes!  I could go on and on about those!

If you are into BBQ and smoking meat, you need this cookbook!  I've learned a lot in the last few years since I got excited about smoking meat, but even I learned a thing or two!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Little things mean a lot. . .

This year I have been truly blessed to reconnect with two people from my distant past.  Both are friends from my high school days.

In March, when I made my annual trek down to Alabama for a cousins reunion - our 9th consecutive year! - Elizabeth Champion drove a short distance from her home to meet up with me in the rural town where we have our annual reunion.  While I like to say that I hadn't seen her in "50 years", she reminded me, "it is actually more than 50 years!"  Oh, come on. . . I'm not THAT old!

I was amazed that after all these years, we picked up right where we left off!  The conversation flowed nonstop and neither of us were at a loss for words!!!  She said her husband asked her, "She's not a liberal, is she?"  PERISH THAT THOUGHT!  Not everyone in New York State subscribes to that  _________ (expletive deleted!)

Just last week, another long time friend who I hadn't seen in decades, Sandy Graves, and her husband made a special trip to Rochester from Philadelphia to see me.  Talk about an ego boost!  I was in their wedding 49 years ago this summer.

Sandy and Elizabeth were in Rainbow Girls with me back in the early 60's.  The Rainbow organization is a branch of the Masonic Order for girls.

You know, life can throw you curve balls and things don't always go the way you plan.  But there is nothing like an old friend that makes a special effort to catch up with you.  Kinda reminds me of the old Brownie Scout song I sang so many years ago:

Make new friends,
But keep the old.
One is silver
and the other is gold.

Sandy and Elizabeth, you will never know how yor brightened my life.  THANKS!

Monday, July 3, 2017

I'm removing comments section of my blog

Sadly, I am no longer allowing comments to my posts.  In the past weeks, I have had dozens of unwanted comments, some that were just plain vulgar.  Because I had comments moderation, these were all denied before you, my readers, saw them.

Most of you know how to contact me by e-mail or text messaging.  I welcome legitimate comments from friends and family and even those I don't know - but keep it positive and reasonable.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Special company for dinner



My usual routine in the morning, after taking care of the dogs, is to sit with my coffee and watch Fox and Friends on TV.  Not this morning.  I left the TV off.  The dogs were at my feet playing with chew toys.  I wanted to think about last night and the wonderful time I had with Sandy and Larry, long time friends that I haven't seen in decades. . . yes!  decades!

I smoked a brisket for dinner in my Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker.  They loved it. 

I know Sandy from my Rainbow Girl days and we went to the same high school.  When she met Larry, a dashing Navy Officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station, I could feel the chemistry between the two and knew Larry was "the one."  I was right on target.  I was in their wedding 49 years ago!

It was great fun to talk about the old days, share pictures from back then, and catch up on our lives today.

They invited me to have breakfast with them this morning at their hotel.  As we said our goodbyes, I said, "Sandy, don't wait another 50 years to get together again!"

Throughout a lifetime, there are joys, sorrows, and challenges big and small. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have friendships that span so many years.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

New ways with veggies

Like most people, I try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in my diet, without getting bored with the same things over and over.  So I'm constantly scouring the internet, magazines, and my own huge collection of cookbooks to find fresh ideas.

Here is an idea I ran across recently that I really like.

Begin with 4 cups of vegetables cut into bite size pieces.  You can use one vegetable or a variety. . . I like variety!

Bring a saucepan to full boil and pour the vegetables in for 30 seconds to a minute and a half, depending on how crisp you want them.  Remove from the boiling water and place in a colander and run cold water over them.

Now choose one of the following marinades to pour over your vegetables  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

To prepare either of these marinades, combine ingredients and place in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

Rosemary-Garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper


Orange-Oregano
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 strips orange zest
2 sprigs fresh oregano
salt and pepper

This would make an excellent picnic dish and goes well by itself or with meat from the grill!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Did this really happen?

Everyone knows how much I enjoy using my grills and smoker. 

The times I spend preparing food on the grills or the smoker are among the most pleasant moments in my life.

This incident happened last week and I am just now able to talk about it.  I had just placed a steak rubbed down with a fantastic rub on the grill, closed the lid, and checked my watch to time the cooking.  In less than a minute or two, fire erupted on the outside of the grill near where the propane gas hose connects to the grill.  I don't remember the next few seconds - which seemed like hours.  The next I remember, I was turning the valve off on the gas tank, my heart pounding.  The fire slowly got smaller and then went out.  I ran several yards away thinking the tank may explode.  It didn't.

This has never happened to me before.  I only use Weber grills (charcoal or gas - Weber is the best!) 

I have used this grill many times with never any trouble with its operation.

Later, when I disconnected the hose from the grill, it wasn't tightened all the way.  You can bet from now on, I will make sure it is tightened securely.  That may have been the cause.





Friday, June 9, 2017

Getting started in smoking meat

A couple of people who follow me on facebook and see my blog have asked me recently about how to get started.  "It seems so complicated, but you really like it!"

Well, that is exactly what I said for years before I took the plunge and tried my luck with it!

I am no expert.  What I've learned is from internet and cookbook research and the old fashioned "trial and error" method.

Here are just a few basics to get you started.

First, you need a smoker!  After scouring internet sites, I decided on the Weber Smoky Mountain smoker.  I went with the 18.5 inch (their middle one) size.  I found that many professionals use this one.  It is easy to use and even I, a mechanically challenged woman, easily assembled it on my living room floor with my two Labs watching closely from the couch.

Okay, one deep dark secret. . . After it was assembled, I was scared to use it!  I was still in the "this-is-too-difficult" mindset.  It sat in my living room for a week.  Well, okay, two weeks.

My first venture was a whole chicken.  That is the one I recommend for beginners.  It is totally idiot proof!

I made a simple brine of water, brown sugar and kosher salt, enough to cover the entire chicken, and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, I took it out of the brine, rinsed it well and dried it with paper towels.  After that, I rubbed it very generously with a rub.  There are plenty of store bought rubs and recipes for homemade - I've used a variety of both and they are all good.

The instructions tell you to let this sit at room temperature for 45 minutes or so.  Following the instructions with my smoker, I set up the smoker.  I use the minion method for charcoal.  What this means is, place cold charcoal in the base of the smoker and cover this with a chimney full of lighted charcoal when it turns white.  On top of this sprinkle a handful or so of soaked wood chips (I tend to use either hickory or apple chips for chicken).  The water pan goes over the charcoal.  Finish putting the smoker together and place your prepared chicken on the grate.  Adjust the bottom vents to maintain a temperature of about 220 to 225.  You may have to adjust the vents several times during the cooking.  Always leave the vent in the dome shaped lid open.

This is the hard part!  Sit back in a comfy lawn chair with a glass of wine.  Enjoy the warm sunny day while you watch the puffy white clouds go by in the sky.

Take notes of what you did for the first few smokes you do for reference.  After that, you will be an old pro and won't need to do that.  I find if you are using wood chips, you probably need to replenish them about every hour or so.  If you use wood chunks, they usually last the entire smoke and they don't need to be soaked.

A whole chicken is ready anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours.  Using a meat thermometer, check for doneness.  It should be 165 degrees.  Truthfully, though, after you've done a few, you learn to tell when it's done by looking at it!

I recommend getting a couple or more good cookbooks by such authors as Steven Raichlen, Jeff Phillips, and others.  These have been excellent resources for me.

So, go ahead.  Just do it!  Soon you will be enjoying the most wonderful tasting smoked meat you could ever imagine!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Getting ready for lots of smoking!


Every three day summer holiday Lowe's marks down their Kingsford charcoal and wood chips and chunks for smoking.  And they were kind enough to put the charcoal packs (40 lbs) in my cart and in my car.  They were all out of wood chunks so I stopped by Home Depot to get those.

I've never smoked with the chunks before.  They should last for an entire smoking without having to replenish like I do with the chips.

I had big plans to smoke baby back ribs this weekend but it looks like it is going to rain most of the time.  YUCK!  I wonder what it's like to stand over the smoker with an umbrella for several hours???

Monday, May 22, 2017

Poor Baby


It's tough keeping things stirred up around here but I work at it.

Bailey will soon be two years old.  Although she has calmed down quite a bit from the rambunctious puppy stage, she still has her moments!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The very best bbq sauce

My kitchen smells wonderful right now.  I'm making a "first of the season" batch of bbq sauce.  I've tried dozens of recipes over the years and this one is my favorite.  I use it on chicken and baby back ribs on the grill and sometimes on left over roast beef.

It is taken from "Smoking Meat" by Jeff Phillips.

Memphis Barbeque Sauce #2:

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 tablespoon dry mustard

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Use a whisk to thoroughly combine.

Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour.

I store it in the refrigerator in a glass jar with a lid.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Old lawn mower finds a good home!

Life is funny sometimes.  I was mowing my lawn one night this week with my 20 year old Toro lawn mower.  It has served me well.  Other than routine tune ups, I have never had to spend money on it.

Less than half way through mowing the lawn, oil starting flying everywhere!  Never had that happen before.  For a few seconds, I was kind of in a daze with what happened.  Then I recovered enough to turn it off.

I didn't want to spend money on a 20 year old mower and the shop owner agreed.  So I bought a mid-range mower, another Toro.

Now what to do with the dead one?  I put a post on our neighborhood facebook page stating that I would be putting it out by the road and it was free for the taking.  In less than an hour, it was gone!

An older gentleman loaded it into the back of his pick up truck and then came to my door.  He asked about it and I explained that as far as I knew, the motor was still fine and that it had spouted oil when I was using it.  He knows someone that likes to tinker with old things.  Maybe he can breathe new life back into it.  If nothing else, he can retrieve the gas from the half filled tank!

Around here, if you want to get rid of something quickly, put it out by the road.  A few years back, I had an old rickety step ladder.  It was left behind when I moved into this house 20 years ago.  The last time I used it, it was the same as standing in a rocking chair.  I put it out by the road and it disappeared!  Now why would anyone want a totally unsafe step ladder???

Monday, May 8, 2017

The decline of Sears

It's not the first retail giant to go into steep decline.  But this one kind of rattled me, you could say.

The famous Sears Roebuck Catalog that most older Americans grew up with, began back in the 1800's.  In rural areas, the General Stores of the day could not stock the variety of merchandise that the Catalog brought to your doorstep.  If you had asked me back in my childhood, I would've told you Sears Roebuck would be around until the end of the world.

The news is reporting Sears is all but shutting down.  In a downward spiral over the last couple of decades, a string of upper level managers have made poor business decisions, unable to bring the retailer back into the glory days it once knew.

My first job was working in the Sears store in downtown Pensacola, Florida the summer after my sophomore year in college.  I have often said that I learned more that summer working at Sears than anyone could ever learn in a Psychology 101 class.  I learned to smile and be courteous to customers no matter how tired I was from standing on my feet all day or no matter how rude they were to me.  I learned when there was down time from waiting on customers, I needed to find something to do to keep busy, such as straightening merchandise on shelves.  I was awe struck by the number of people who would shoplift right in front of you and then deny it.  That was the summer I learned to "read" people!  You know, this woman is likely to cause trouble, but that one is not!  This one is trying to distract me and that one is not.  Same went for fellow employees.  If you were waiting on a customer that involved a commission sale, an older employee knew how to push you aside and take over your customer.

As a temporary summer employee, I was bounced around from one department to another.  After I had been there a few weeks, I found that two particular departments, Jewelry and Boys Clothing really liked me and vied for my time.  That was an ego boost, for sure.

It wasn't just poor management that has brought Sears down.  Times have changed.  Most of us today shop primarily on the internet - myself included!  It has become popular to shop online with easy return policies and expert customer service.  So why bother to drive to a store, many times paying to park your car, when you can sit in the comfort of your home and shop and compare with your computer?

Who knows for sure?  Maybe by a stroke of genius, someone in the hierarchy of Sears will manage to turn things around. . . I doubt it.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A new tenant in my bird house!

Two weeks ago, my son took down the old (over 20 years old!), rotting bird house and attached my new bird house in its place.  Now this was no ordinary new bird house.  It is made of cypress and very well constructed.  The squirrels should have no interest in chewing this one to destruction.

Every day I eagerly checked to see if new inhabitants had taken residence.  Nothing.

I was really getting discouraged.  Maybe it is the human smell on it.  But with all the rain we have had, surely that has been washed away.

This afternoon I was drinking a glass of water and staring blankly into space at my kitchen sink.  My idle gaze was interrupted by something flying near the bird house.  It was a real live bird that just flew into my bird house.

Now I have baby birds learning to fly to look forward to! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dinner tonight

Hot off the grill!  I grilled chicken thighs rubbed with Crazy Good Chicken Rub from Stuart's Spices here in Rochester.  Delicious!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Smoking a brisket today

Today I smoked a brisket in my Weber Smoky Mountain Smoker.  It turned out DELICIOUS!

Most of you already know how much I have enjoyed my Weber smoker.  I enjoy sitting by the smoker, enjoying the outdoors. . . people walking their dogs, the Cardinals and Robins coming by for a visit (when Bailey and Morgan are not in the backyard!) And when the dogs are in the backyard, watching them chase each other and fight over sticks (as if that is the only stick in the whole world).  It is a time when I can put aside the craziness going on in the world and look forward to a great tasting piece of meat at the end of the day.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Bird House


My new bird house just installed yesterday.  As I sit at my kitchen table I can watch the birds go in and out of it. . . now all I need is for a mother bird to come in and build a nest!



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Recipes for smoking meat

I belong to the Weber Smokers facebook page and someone asked me for recipes.  Here are two of my favorites:

Marinade for Brisket

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

Just before smoking rub with:

3 T. paprika
2 T. black pepper
2 T. salt
1 T. sugar
1 T. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin

After the above preparation, I let the brisket sit at room temperature (about 45 minutes), while I prepare the smoker and get the charcoal heated.  The last half of the smoking, I spray with apple juice about every hour or so. 


The next recipe for Mesquite Smoked Roast is another real crowd pleaser!

Brine:

1.5 to 2 gallons water
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire
2 T. garlic salt
2 T. molasses


2 to 3 large roasts

Seasoning:

3 cloves chopped garlic
coarse ground pepper
McCormick's Sweet and Smoky dry rub
Garlic powder or salt

Set aside two cups of the brine

Soak roasts overnight

Remove from brine and rinse

Coat roasts in chopped garlic and pepper

Coat well with dry rub

Use reserved brine and inject the roasts

Let stand at room temperature at least half hour

Place in smoker (225 to 230 degrees)

Smoke about 5 hours.

Let stand about 30 to 45 minutes covered in foil to allow juices to redistribute.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring is here!


There is color in my front yard!  Yes, I still have to weed and prepare the soil for planting, but these early blooms are welcome!


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Facebook. . . the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Where would our lives be without Facebook???  I have come to accept the fact that with Facebook, it really is "the good, the bad, the ugly."

For the good:  Most of the time, I do enjoy Facebook.  I have connected with friends from my "way back" past that I may never have connected with in any other medium.  Case in point:  there is a Facebook page for my high school Class of 1966.  I truly have enjoyed that. . . none of us look like we did on graduation day!!!  Recently, on my annual trip South, I met up with Elizabeth, someone I hadn't seen in over 50 years.  That was a very enjoyable evening and oh, the laughs we had!

The bad:  There have been a few (very few) people that I have unfriended and some that have unfriended me.  One example:  Someone I knew from work who suddenly and totally unexpectedly lost her husband.  He died without warning.  She is left with two small children to raise.  Now anyone can have deep sympathy for that.  But as the months turned into years, she still flooded facebook with tales of woe.  I refused to play along with her pitty party and she dropped me and several others.  I wish her well, but she needs to learn to pick up the pieces and move on.  Few, if any of us, pass through this life without being struck by tragedy and life altering events.  I'm no exception.  But you don't dwell on it and eventually you find ways to be happy again.  At least I did a little over two decades ago.

The ugly:  Well, sometimes I am too lenient.  Generally, I won't accept a friend request unless it is someone I know, or at least someone who has mutual friends on Facebook.  A man requested to be my friend.  His Facebook page had very little information.  I assumed it could be because, maybe he was new to Facebook and was trying to build up his page.  WRONG!  He insisted on "conversations" with me, which I kept to a minimum and only gave out very general information.  All of a sudden I got a message from him, "Based on our conversations and mutual understanding (what???) I want to send you a package.  Please send me your real name, street address, phone number,. . ." and I'm not sure what else he asked for.  NO THANKS!  I unfriended him.

Occasionally, I run across people who are not on Facebook.  Usually, this is because they are computer illiterate.  Others, due to the nature of their jobs (one person I know is a psychologist in a prison - that's good enough reason!) have to avoid any social media.  So, my bottom line, enjoy the jokes on facebook and the interactions with friends, but be careful!


Friday, March 31, 2017

Big Meat Order

You all know how I love smoking and grilling meat.  Tonight I brought home a large order I had placed with my farmer that includes beef, poultry, and pork.  There is a cost savings in a bulk order.  But more important, it is nice to have a particular cut of meat when I want it rather than, "Oh, I really wanted baby back ribs tonight, guess I'll have to wait till my farmer makes another run to Rochester."

It was a lot of work getting all that meat down the basement stairs and into the freezer.  I may not be able to move tomorrow morning!  But as I put it away, I was thinking of all the wonderful recipes I use - briskets in the smoker, baby back ribs, whole chickens to put in the smoker, oh, and those great tasting tenderloins that I have so many recipes for.  The stew meat that makes delicious crockpot stews. . . roasts to cook with baby red potatoes and carrots (an easy and delicious meal).  Then there are the breakfast meats that I can't live without - cottage bacon and breakfast sausage.

Last summer I smoked a large rack of baby back ribs.  I cut off a part of it and gave it to my neighbors across the street.  Their oldest child, as she was eating it, said, "I feel sorry for vegetarians!"

Monday, March 27, 2017

Adzuke Bean Casserole

Someone on facebook asked for the recipe of my adzuke bean casserole.  I could not figure out how to post it as an attachment.  It never worked.  So here it is!


Adzuki Bean Casserole

1 cup dried adzuki beans
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp (or more) soy sauce

Soak dried adzuki beans in 3 cups water overnight, or early in the day.
Drain beans completely and boil for 45 minutes.
Saute onion in 1 tsp olive oil for one minute.  Add bell pepper, saute one minute.  Add apple and saute until onion is translucent.  Drain beans and mix into vegetables.  Season with basil, salt and soy sauce.  Oil an oblong casserole dish and pour in mixture.  Embed bay leaf into top of beans and bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
Serve with rice and a salad.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Our Ninth Cousins' Reunion Was Loads of Fun!

People often ask me, "Why do you insist on driving two full days both going and returning when you can fly?"  At the end of an 11 hour day of driving, I have asked myself that question.  I really don't like to fly in this day of terrorism and increased security at airports.  Allow someone to "pat me down" or search my baggage?  NO THANKS.

I truly enjoy the drive through a varying landscape and cultural diversity.  I pass through 8 large cities - Buffalo, NY, Cleveland, OH, Columbus, OH, Cincinatti, OH, Louisville, KY, Nashville, TN, Birmingham, AL and Montgomery, AL and arrive at the small town and rural area where we hold our reunion.  At the Pennsylvania Welcome Center, I look out over Lake Erie, sometimes filled with large sheets of ice.  Driving through Central Ohio, I see huge farm lands and feel a sense of a slower pace to life than I live.  Into Kentucky and Tennessee, there is rolling terrain.  In Alabama, along the way there are both ramshackle rusted tin roof homes that have no doubt been there many decades as well as upper middle class large homes on large tracks of land. You see old, old wooden barns that are gradually falling apart through neglect.  Oh, the stories those barns could tell!

We hold our reunion on land "out in the middle of no where," many acres of land that have been in my family for generations, back into the 1800's.  No, we don't care to rent a convention room and have a formal dinner.  Not our style.  Rather, we enjoy target shooting, walking the land, catching up on everyone from the previous year.  And yes, the tales get bigger each year!



Any regular reader knows I am really into guns.  We set up all kinds of target shooting scenarios.  If the breeze is just right, we throw different sizes of beach ball into the water and take aim at them.  If you hit in just the right place, the ball goes flying into the air!  Another fun thing to do is shoot a plastic milk jug filled with water with a hollow point bullet.  The water splashes all over!  Then there are the regular peel off bullseye targets where many an ego has been crushed when your shooting partner beats you.


Eating is a big part of the day.  This year we kept it simple.

 

And there is Aunt Ilene!  She is 95 years old this year, Pam and Kenny's mom.  She's going through a phase where she doesn't want to eat or drink.  On the day before the "official" reunion, a few of us had gathered at the old homeplace.  I made a sandwich for her and said, "Here, I made this especially for you and I want you to eat it."  I then gave her a bottle of water.  I watched her out of the corner of my eye.  She ate a little over half the sandwich and gave the rest to the dog when she thought I wasn't watching.  She drank all the water, eventually.

It was really a fun time.  I look forward to this time every March or April.  It is important to stay connected to your roots.  It's good for your soul.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Haven't changed in 50 years!


Recently I had the pleasure of meeting up with an old friend from "way back."  Elizabeth and I were friends since junior high and high school days.  We had lost touch for decades but through facebook, we reconnected again.  It was great catching up. . . lots of laughs.  Another friend, who saw this picture on facebook, is trying to adjust her schedule and hopefully catch up with me - in person - before I leave where I am right now.  Hope you can make it happen, Sue.




Thursday, March 9, 2017

Holy Moly!

Yesterday and into last night the Rochester area had severe winds, clocked at 80+ mph at the airport.  On my street, there was a huge tree knocked into the street, many homes all around me lost siding, my neighbor lost a beautiful glass top picnic table.  The roof was ripped off a high school.  In short, very extensive damage.  Through all this, the worst that happened to me is a few small branches fell in my yard. . . the type that Morgan and Bailey like to run with and fight over in the backyard. 

One street over from me, no one has had electricity since 2:30 yesterday afternoon.

Now I'm learning all the schools are closed because so many people do not have electricity and many schools were damaged.  The Jewish Community Center has opened their facility for people - with proper ID - to take showers and numerous other buildings are allowing people who have no electricity to come and stay warm.  The temperature is COLD!

Needless to say, I am very thankful that I escaped this disaster unharmed.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

It's March!

Forgive me for sounding excited about a new month. . . but in the Northeast, you learn to appreciate even the smallest sign that winter is almost over.  Even though we had a mild winter by Western New York standards, still the grey, dreary days of winter can take a toll on even the most positive minded person.

In Rochester, we had one snowfall of almost a foot.  The rest were a few inches here and there.   Definitely not a brutal winter.

I have become a strong warm weather type over the years.  The things I like to do involve being outside enjoying the sunshine and warmth.  My Weber smoker has been gathering dust over the winter.  So has my bike!  And maybe I should think about getting my lawn mower tuned up this year.

March, of course, can go from one extreme to another here.  We could have another heavy snow or we could have sunshine and blue skies!  I'm still waiting for the first crocuses to pop through the ground.

I am looking forward to my annual trek South this Spring for our Cousins' Reunion.  That's coming up soon and this year will be our ninth year.  You'll see pictures and posts on my blog.  It really is a fun time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Those were the days


Yes, that is really me on the right!  Robert Lauterbach was going through old pictures on his computer and sent me this one of Nancy and me backpacking with another lady on the Northville Placid Trail in New York's Adirondack Park.  This picture is over 20 years old.  We spent a week hiking from Long Lake, NY up to the northern end of the Trail in Lake Placid.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Brilliant morning sky



This was taken a little before 7 am this morning.  The colors were prettier than this shows.  Kind of looks like a raging fire, doesn't it?

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.