Monday, August 31, 2020

Food That Didn't Happen

 (I know this song has nothing to do with meals or plans or anything else but it was the first song that popped into my pea brain when I began writing this post and was thinking about how I had changed the entire week's meals. Unfortunately for y'all, you are bound to my initial musical thought. Plus I do love this song!)

Once again I made a meal plan and did not stick to it at all, except for the take out thing. I seem to do take out very well. Too well! No idea why I plan and don't follow it. Maybe I am just too wishy washy, busy, or "frankly my dear I just don't give a . . . "

This is what I thought might happen:
1. Crack slaw
2. Chicken Florentine over rice or caulirice, tossed salad
3. Squash croquettes, green beans, sliced tomatoes
4. Hamburger patty, green beans, tomato onion and cucumber salad
5. Grilled lamb chops, caulimash or regular mashed potatoes, broccoli
6. Seared scallops, tossed salad, baked potato (or none) rolls or keto rolls
7. Take out

This is what actually happened: (You will notice except for take out, none of this happened)

Monday: I had cooked some squash and honestly meant to make squash croquettes but when it got time to cook dinner I was not in the mood for that many steps.
Squash casserole, leftover lady peas, dinner roll

Tuesday: I didn't cook, just because. If TheHub wanted to eat, he could have made grilled cheese or we could run pick something up.
Take out from La Fiesta tacos, taquitos, rice, beans and salad

Wednesday: We went to the lake to spend the night so I could meet the security system installer to upgrade the system. I needed a portable dinner  and did not really care if it was really good or not.
Stewed okra, Junky balls, coleslaw

Thursday: When we go to the lake I always grab something frozen to act as ice in my insulated bag. This time I grabbed a pack of cooked chicken, threw in some wild rice and packed some green beans I had cooked earlier.
Chicken and wild rice, green beans, tossed salad

Friday: I had not packed anything that sounded good to TheHub for Friday night. Instead of me grabbing something from town was his idea.
Take out from Granny's Kitchen in Columbiana, Al. (town nearest the lake place) Catfish, okra and green beans (me) Sausage and kraut, mashed potatoes and butterbeans (TheHub)

Saturday: We decided to leave the lake a little earlier than we had planned. It was raining cats and dogs there so why stay?  Additionally we had a few errands we could do between showers. Before we left we made a list of things we needed to restock the lake kitchen, so a shopping trip was in order. Plus there were a couple of other things we wanted to do in the near future so the near future turned into the present. We first went to a local produce market, then drove to Aldi for lake stuff. After that we tried to find a hot tub dealer (Though we had an address we never found it and decided they are selling out of a storage unit. That is just a little too sketchy for me.) Next we drove around a bit looking for a couple of other things, went to Publix, then decided hot dogs sounded pretty good for dinner. Well, TheHub did and as long as I wasn't cooking anything sounded fine to me.
Sneaky Pete's slaw dogs (me) regular dogs (TheHub)

Sunday: We were on the verge of doing take out for the fourth night of the week when the phone rang. I was having a long conversation with my cousin and started looking in the freezer to see if I could find something to make quickly. I found 3 small pizza crusts and threw a pizza together while I talked with her. If the pizza had not finished baking I might still be on the phone.
Veggie Pizza

Since I did not stick to my plan for last week and I still have most of the foods that were to be used then, I am modifying it just a tad and keeping basically the same meal plan.
1. Crack slaw
2. Chicken Florentine over rice or caulirice, tossed salad
3. Peas, okra, cornbread, coleslaw
4. Hamburgers and fixings, tomato onion and cucumber salad
5. Grilled lamb chops, caulimash or regular mashed potatoes, broccoli
6. Seared scallops, tossed salad, baked potato (or none) rolls or keto rolls
7. Take out

Will it happen? Probably not entirely, but some of it might!
Hope you all have a good week staying on plan, going off plan, or with no plan at all.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Back Like a Bad Habit

We left Wednesday for a few days at the lake place. TheHub and I were talking and I am pretty sure we only spent 2 nights there prior to this trip in all of 2020 so far.  We had decided to sell and then things changed so quickly with Mom and we decided to keep it at least another year to see if we will use it like we intended to, or not.

The internet connection is seriously bad there and I am not able to respond to blog posts, but I could read them. So I am up to date reading your posts, but have just been silent where normally I would say something.

Going to the lake is fun but also a bit of a pain in the behind. It is remote so the closest grocery store is about 13 miles away. At the beginning of Covid we rode down and cleaned out all of our food storage there. We had not restocked it and I did not think to buy pantry and freezer items before we went Wednesday.  I also knew we would be getting there about 6:30 or 7 in the evening and who wants to go to the grocery store then and make getting to the lake that much later?

We also had decided we did not want to drive but one car, so I rode with TheHub after he got home from the office. Thursday and Friday he planned to drive into work from the lake place which also meant I was not going to have a vehicle to take to the store. Consequently I needed to pack everything we would be needing Wednesday night through Saturday.

I have also found, over time, it is easiest to have something prepared that just needs to be zapped if we are getting there later in the day. No one wants to unload the car then start rustling around trying to create something for a meal. I will admit most of the time we stop in the town closest to the lake and pick up something to take with us, but Wednesday night we just wanted to get there.

My okra has been producing (slowly) and I just had a large handful of okra pods, along with some tomatoes that needed to be used, and a half of an onion in the fridge. I made some stewed okra and originally thought I would cook some rice and serve the okra over it. I figured that and a side of coleslaw would be an adequate (not delicious but adequate) meal. Then I remembered a pound of sausage I had taken out of the freezer. I thought I would take it down to cook for breakfasts but then I remembered I never cook sausage or bacon at the lake. (The lake house is smallish and arranged so  smells permeate every room and hang around a long time.) I love the way they smell cooking but I don't like smelling cooked sausage or bacon at night when I am trying to go to sleep

I did a quick Google search for some way to use it for dinner and found a recipe using crescent rolls, cream cheese and sausage. Since I had everything on hand it was a done deal. I was talking with Son1 and told him about them but told him I was not crazy about the name and had rather call them something else. Pip was listening on speaker phone  and thought I  called them Junky Balls, so that is the name I will use from now on.

Junky Balls
1 can crescent rolls
4 Oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 pound. sausage
1 small onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

Brown the sausage, onion and garlic powder. Drain well then mix with the cream cheese.
Cut each crescent roll to make 2 triangular pieces. I used Aldi crescent rolls they they are already triangles so I cut them in two. I tried splitting them down the middle but that did not work so I cut the fattest part diagonally into about a 2 inch triangle and used the long skinnier bottom for the other.
Take about a teaspoon of the sausage mix and put it in the center of each 1/2  piece of dough. Start at the fattest end and fold the dough over the filling, then bring the bottom end over to form a lumpy ball. Since all the seas together then lightly roll it between your hands. Place it on a parchment lined baking sheet with about 1 inch of space between balls. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. You can remove them form the pans after about a minute and cool slightly on a rack. Then eat and enjoy, or. do like I did, and put them (cooled) in a ziplock bag and store in the fridge till ready to serve.  I just took them out right before we ate and zapped them for about 30 seconds.

They were very tasty and we did not have anything other than the junky balls, stewed okra and coleslaw. It was a very filling dinner. TheHub and I agreed we could just as easily eaten just the junky balls and coleslaw and it would have been plenty.

These would be great reheated for breakfast (in fact I had them Thursday morning) or with brunch anytime. I can even see having them with vegetable soup during the winter, or as an appetizer with a honey mustard dip.
Give it a try and you might find you really like it.

I am going to make a batch and freeze them to see how they hold after freezing. Will let you know later if it works well. If it does, I am going to make several batches and freeze for our Christmas brunch.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Good Things Happen to Those Who Look for Them

If you read this blog you already know I keep a list of the joys I find each day, and if you are new here__well now you know too!
My aim is to re-read these on New Year's Eve and reflect on all the joys the year has brought. And even though 2020 has been a Typhoid Mary type of  year, there are still joys each and every day. I am not saying they are always easy to find, but they are around,. Every.  Single.  Day.  You just have to look for them. These are the joys, large and (mostly) small for the 34th week of 2020.

This song is one of my favorites. I have told Son3 that I think this would make a wonderful song for a funeral after a long and well lived life. So, if I live a long and well lived life, he is to make sure this is sung.

Wednesday:  I decided I will complete two projects each week. I might change my mind  later and do three each week but, for right now, I am aiming for two. Wednesday I painted a lamp I had brought from Mom's house. It was an off white floor lamp that is now hammered bronze. It looks pretty nice in my living room, but now I have found several more projects for the room.  How can adding a single lamp cause an avalanche of "to-dos"? I need to totally revamp the  entire room. I think I will begin with moving the artwork. That is the easiest project I can do and, this week,  I am all about easy.

Thursday: Although I do not love bad weather, we had a massive thunderstorm with winds so high it blew the umbrellas in the pool and blew all the pool toys out of the pool. It did not last but about 45 minutes but the earth was good and soaked and the pool got about 2 inches of water.  I stood at the window and watched nature's fury. I have a great sky view out the den window and loved watching the lightning. (Until it was right on top of us and then I didn't love it so much)

Friday:  Son2 and Dil2 joined us for drinks, dinner, and laughs. It is so nice to see both sons and their wives  having a good time. The downside is TheHub and I realize how tragically unhip we are. So many of the cultural references they were talking and laughing about flew right over our heads.  Another harsh reality check (realizing we are old) was that none of them knew who Roy Orbison was until we said he sang "Pretty Woman".

Saturday: Sat on the screened porch with TheHub and Son3 for morning coffee  and conversation before the day heated up. Later in the morning DIL3 got her proofs from her photo shoot and they were drop dead gorgeous. I don't know if it was more joyful to see the photos or see her reaction to them.

Sunday: I guess my biggest joy was Son3 and DIL3 arriving at their midway destination safely. They were a little over halfway home and it was much easier than driving straight through. Safe travels are always a cause for joy! Laundry and vacuuming residual cat hair? Not so joyful!

Monday: The day was so quiet when I woke at 5:30. WTH! I know there is inherent joy when you wake every morning, but I am just not a fan of butt early o'clock! I much prefer to ease into the morning. By 1 in the afternoon I felt like it was time to start thinking about dinner. I suppose there was joy in doing 4 loads of towels before 9 a.m.  I also found joy by cleaning out the fridge before 8 a.m. I like finding joy in the mornings, but I don't need so much joy so early.
A second joy is technology. I love movies, but hate to invest the time sitting and watching them while doing nothing else. Thanks to modern technology I can enjoy them several ways. I can pull them up on my iPad and take them from room to room as I do chores. Most of the movies I watch I can mainly listen to anyway. I can  also pull them up on my laptop then run the sound through echo (which we have set to run through 3 different areas of the house), turn it up loud and listen, just glancing at it now and then.  I "watched" 3 movies this way on Monday. When you wake so dang early you have lots of time for "watching".

Tuesday: I woke this morning listening to the birds, then got out of bed for steaming hot coffee and cinnamon rolls DIL3 had made and frozen.  Hers are a Swedish version, not as sweet and with no icing. They are perfect for a quick breakfast or an afternoon snack along with black coffee. All I had to do was zap it for 30 seconds and use the keuring for a super quick and delicious breakfast. I usually do not eat breakfast, but the cinnamon rolls were screaming at me from the freezer. I tried to get them to be quiet, but they were relentless!
Mid -morning I had a call from Pip. She is hard at work becoming a writer so we decided to c0-write stories. She decided who and what the characters would be. (2 unicorns named Rainbow and Star and a very tiny dragon named Puddle Hider) and what their special talents would be. She also decided the unicorns hated having their hair brushed. (Transference perhaps?)
I wrote an opening to the tale and emailed it to my son so she can read it and add the next bit to it. Then she will send it back and we can see what develops from there. I am not sure if I will write a conclusion or the story will continue. I guess it is just up to her.
After work TheHub and I went to vote in our local elections, but only one of us got to vote. The other forgot to bring her drivers license. I am very glad this was just an election for one seat, since every other position was unopposed. I don't feel much guilt, but for the next 4 years I can't gripe about anything this councilman does (even though I was going to vote for him anyway) Afterward we ran by a Mexican restaurant and picked up dinner. Joy!

This weeks projects:
1. Painted a floor lamp
2. Repositioned  artwork in the foyer, living room, and den.
3. Found some black spray paint made for plastic and sprayed a white plastic table I found at Mom's. It works well as a small side table for the deck.

Monday, August 24, 2020

All Aboard!

Keto, keto wherefore art thou keto?  I have been so far off  keto  that it is ridiculous. Son3 and DIL 3 had been at our house for nearly 2 months and I have ignored every single law of keto. Grains? Every day!. Peas and beans? You betcha! Sugar? It has been a diet mainstay.   Son3 managed to lose nearly 10 pounds while they were here and I am pretty sure I found them. Well they left Sunday morning to get back to the city, and there is no excuse for me to not jump right back on the keto train.

And yes, I know this song has nothing to do with food, but as soon as I typed the words "keto train:" this is the song that popped into my brain, and would not leave me alone until I posted it here.

As usual my menu plan and reality took a deep departure form each other. Oh well, I tried (kinda)

What I thought might happen:
1. Stuffed baked potato, tossed salad
2. Grilled grouper, squash casserole, salad, green beans, rolls
3. Hamburgers with all the fixings
4. Risotto (Son3 and DIL3 say they are serious this time)
5. White BBQ chicken, caulitato salad, green beans
6. Veggie dinner: peas, okra, tomato slices, cornbread
7. Take out pizza, tossed salad

What actually did happen:
Monday: It was the first day of the meal plan and already I was punting. So much for my planning skills.
Refrigerator stuff. Ground chuck, bits and pieces of leftover veggies, onions, spices, and broth over mashed potatoes.

Tuesday: DIL3 had a photo shoot to update the pics for her portfolio. Turns out a photographer in Alabama (one whose photos have been used in Vogue) and childhood classmate of Son3 is much more reasonable than a shoot in NYC. Imagine that! Since they were out later and Son3 wanted his wife to have a taste of his favorite pizza joint from his childhood, they picked it up and brought it home for a late dinner.
Davenport's pizza, either veggie or pepperoni

Wednesday: DIL3 made us the most wonderful dinner. How nice for me and oh my goodness how delicious! It was almost like going to a restaurant.
Chicken, risotto with onions and asparagus, raspberry tiramisu.

Thursday: I forgot to take anything out of the freezer to thaw for dinner. Fortunately I keep packages of browned ground chuck frozen for nights like this.
Taco salad, black beans, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream toppings, leftover tiramisu 

Friday: Son2 and DIL2 came over to eat with us, bearing ice packs for Son3 and DIL3's departure. We are sending them back loaded with frozen stuff: pulled pork, ground chuck, pork tenderloins, chicken breasts, blocks or cheese, butter and other assorted things. They will have to quarantine for two weeks upon their return, so we figured we could give them a leg up to avoid some grocery delivery fees.
Grilled steak, tossed salad, baked potato, rolls,  pineapple cake

Saturday: Son3 and DIL3 loaded the car for their return trip while we helped them round up any errant items we could find. Meanwhile Son2 and DIL2 stopped by the house before dinner and stayed for the meal and conversations afterward
Hamburgers with all the fixings,  chips, leftover tiramisu

Sunday: Son3 and DIL3 left for home at about 11 this morning. TheHub and I spent the day doing odd jobs but mostly reading and watching the golf tournament. When it was closing in on dinner time and I had nothing planned, we did my next to favorite thing. Take out! We are old and we share one entree because it is more than enough for us and is much easier on the wallet. That being said, The Mandarin House portions are very large.
Kung pao chicken from The Mandarin House. 

Possibilities for this week:
1. Crack slaw
2. Chicken Florentine over rice or caulirice, tossed salad
3. Squash croquettes, green beans, sliced tomatoes
4. Hamburger patty, green beans, tomato onion and cucumber salad
5. Grilled lamb chops, caulimash or regular mashed potatoes, broccoli
6. Seared scallops, tossed salad, baked potato (or none) rolls or keto rolls
7. Take out

Have a great week staying on plan, off plan, or with no plan!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020


Every week I post a joy that happened each day, Some days it is more difficult to recount a joy at the end of the day than other days, but there is always something joyful. But,  man oh man, some days you really do have to look, hence today's song!   Tuesday officially ended the 33rd week of the year and  it brings us one week closer to 2020 being over. Hurrah!
I look forward to New Year's Eve when I sit down and review every joy for every day of the year. I know there are things  I will forget and this will be a reminder of how joyful my life truly is.   

Wednesday: Met one of my cousins and her daughter at Mom's. She wanted a couple of the sentimental things my aunt (her mom) had made and given to my mom. I enjoyed the visit with them (thank you both for wearing masks) while we reminisced about various family events.

Thursday: Thursday was a fairly uneventful day, but there is still something wonderful about just waking and watching the hummingbirds flit and fight. Those Ruby Throated males are pretty dang territorial!

Friday: Son3 and DIL3 planned a get together with a long time friend of Son3's. The nicest thing about my house right now is the back yard. They could visit and distance outside and jump in the water whenever they got hot. Since he and his wife have a new baby, they have been isolating themselves to  grocery store runs for the past few months, and since I only go to the grocery store ( no more than once a week) masked and squirting hand sanitizer right and left,  both they and I felt comfortable holding with me their baby. There is nothing more precious than a baby who has learned to ooh and coo then break out in a huge toothless grin!

Saturday: Swimming laps brings me great pleasure. There is something so joyful  about the rhythm, the water, silence except for the sound of bubbles from exhaling underwater, and really good goggles Then as a bonus we found butcher made hot dogs that were delicious!

Sunday: My sister and I cleaned the remaining clothes and shoes from Mom's closet and had them sitting on her porch for pick up the next day. She had over 20 pairs of shoes and most had been wore no more than 5 times, though many were still new in the box.

Monday: I moved a very old floor lamp from Mom's house to mine. It does need a few minor adjustments to work with my decor, but I think it is going to look really good in my living room.

Tuesday:  I found that hummingbirds really do like the potatoes than at flowering. They seem to really like the lavender too. I love watching them and obviously have my yard planted with flowers they are fond of.  Other than the bird watching it wa a pretty crappy day, until the evening. TheHub and I went for a nighttime swim and I love swimming at night.

Hope you find the joy in every single day. Just look for it and be sure to Ac-cen-tu-ate the positive

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Easiest Cake Ever

I am not sure if I found this recipe or if this recipe found me. Thinking about it, I am pretty sure it was the latter because I cannot imagine a world where I would consciously look for a pineapple pecan cake. Somehow or another a picture of this cake landed on a page I was reading. I guess the genesis does not matter as much as the fact that I actually decided to make it.

TheHub and I do not usually have desserts. It is really a rarity around here, unless I am doing Keto and then I will make one once or twice a week. When I cook or bake something keto there is little damage, since they are usually tasty when you eat them, but not so tasty you want to overeat them.
Since Son3 and DIL3 have been here, I have made them more often, and they have been nothing remotely like a keto dessert.  I think I only tried this because I had everything on hand that the recipe called for and it looked like it was going to be a snap to make.

But first, music! I don't remember when I first heard this and it took me a bit of searching to find it, probably because I had the name of the song totally wrong. Hope you enjoy it anyway.

And now__Cake
For the cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
1 20 ounce can  crushed pineapple (do not drain)
1 cup pecans (optional, but see below)

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl and stir to blend. In a small bowl, beat the eggs then add them along with the pineapple (juice included) and the pecans to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until it is just moistened. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 350°F  for about 35 minutes until it is completely done (use the toothpick testing method)  Cool completely before icing the cake.

Beat the butter and cream cheese until it is nice and smooth and well blended. Add the confectioners sugar and continue beating until it is smooth, then add the vanilla and stir until it is creamy.  Frost the cake and enjoy.

I was surprised that the cake baked so beautifully. It was a lovely caramel color and rose well for a pretty dense cake. The pineapple flavor is not as pronounced as I thought it would  be, but it was pretty tasty anyway. The day after baking it the cake; however, was very moist and the pineapple flavor was a little  more pronounced. I used an off brand of pineapple that was canned in its own juice. I am going to try it again this week (halving the recipe) and use Dole to see if that makes a difference. Additionally I am going to add 1/4 teaspoon of pineapple extract to it just to see if that adds a bit more flavor punch.

TheHub and DIL3 both loved the cake. After  he finished his cake when I asked TheHub for a critique he told me he was not sure yet and needed another piece so he could be a well informed critic. My guess is that he was still not sure because I saw him sneak a third very small piece right before he went to bed.

Son3 did not like it at all. He is a tactile eater and found the cooked pineapple "feel" off putting. I also am a tactile eater and did not find this cake "felt" bad at all, so maybe I am not as freaky about the way food feels in my mouth as I thought I was. That being said, keep jello and bananas totally away from me!

And now following Roberts's Rules of Order, I have additions and subtractions to the reading of the minutes.

I know some of you live in areas where pecans are fairly expensive. I live in an area where pecans grow in every cow pasture I have ever driven by. They are plentiful and during the fall are not terribly pricy. I would have been really teed off to use so many and not get the full flavor if I paid a premium for them.

Do not put the pecans in the cake. They did not add enough flavor to waste that many. Instead use about 1/4 cup and sprinkle them across the top of the iced cake. That way you would actually enjoy the taste and crunch of them better. To be honest the pecan flavor never really came through the baked cake at all. 

When I try it again I will post the results of the changes here.

Monday, August 17, 2020

It's a New Day, It's a New Meal

 If you read my blog previously you probably have surmised that I love music and delicious food, or maybe I love delicious food first and then music. No matter what the order, my joy requires an equal measure of both.  
Just about anytime I write a blog post, a song pops in my head, so from now on I think I am going to start sharing them. This song hits on two levels. First it is a song I like, plus it is jazz, which is my favorite genre. The jury is still out on Michael Bublé, though. I really prefer Harry Connick Jr. as a contemporary jazz crooner.


If you have been reading my blog you also know I post a weekly list of possible meals mainly trying to use what I have on hand. It is never really a meal plan because I tend to go rogue a lot and rarely have exactly what I thought might be possible, but it does serve as inspiration when it is almost dinner time and I have not even begun to think about the meal.

What I thought might happen last week:
1.  Hot Dogs and fixings, baked beans, coleslaw
2.  Veggie dinner, squash, okra, tomato slices, cucumber slices, cornbread
3.  Pulled pork, corn on the cob, tossed salad
4.  Marinated chicken, broccoli, rice, something else but unsure what
5.  Risotto (Son3 and DIL3 plan on cooking the meal, but this is all they have mentioned)
6.  Grilled grouper, sliced potatoes, green beans, tossed salad, crescent rolls
7.  Smoked brisket, some green veggie, salad

What really happened:
Monday:  I had planned on having just a vegetable meal, but changed my mind at the last minute (after remembering I had ground chuck in the fridge that had to be used right then).
Mini meat loaves, squash, air fried okra, tomato slices
Harvest: 1 lb green beans, 2 okra pods

Tuesday: Son3 and DIL3 had an opportunity to go to an outdoor jam session with a former high school friend of his. They were going to do their own thing for dinner, so TheHub and I decided to run out and grab some take out. Did you know Captain D's makes a pretty dang tasty fish sandwich? Neither did we until Tuesday night! We tried to order one side of French fries to share but the guy at the window kept trying to make it a family size order. (4.59 for fries? No way) After multi tries to explain we only wanted one single side order, we gave up.
Fish sandwich, potato chips
Harvest: 3/4 pound green beans

Wednesday: The day came and went and I forgot to take anything out of the freezer until a little later in the day. I had a package of chicken breasts I had gotten fresh from Aldi and frozen so I took them out, zapped them to thaw quickly, then punted for a less than stellar meal.
Baked chicken (cream of something soup and wine poured over it) mashed potatoes, green beans 
Harvest: 1 pound green beans, few okra pods

Thursday: Thanks to The Big Dude at for the inspiration. I had a smoked butt, pulled and ready for a meal. This was a fun and different way to enjoy BBQ.
Red neck pork tacos with coleslaw, green beans
Harvest: 1 1/2 pound green beans, 6 tomatoes

Friday: Son3 and DIL 3 had guests for a late afternoon and evening swim. We wanted to get out of their way so we ran a few errands then stopped at Costa's take-out window for ziti for 2, which really is ziti for 4 plus leftovers.
Baked ziti, tossed salad, Italian bread
Harvest: 1 pound green beans

Saturday: TheHub brought a bag of okra from a work friend's garden and it needed to be cooked. We love lady peas with okra so we went to a local produce market to grab some. It did change dinner plans, but what the heck!
Lady peas, corn on the cob, air fried okra, tomato slices, cucumber slices
Harvest: Another blooming pound of green beans

Sunday: Earlier in their visit DIL3 mentioned that she grew up eating hot dogs made at a butcher shop in Sweden. I don't guess I had ever thought of getting a hot dog at a butcher shop. I have always bought Hebrew Nationals in a plastic pack at the grocery store. Saturday, TheHub and I set out on a mission to find in house made hotdogs and lo and behold! We found them a the first meat market where we stopped. They were delicious and I will be buying those seriously overpriced dogs again!
Hot Dogs with fixings, pasta salad, coleslaw
Harvest: More green beans

Meal possibilities for this week:
1. Stuffed baked potato, tossed salad
2. Grilled grouper, squash casserole, salad, green beans, rolls
3. Hamburgers with all the fixings
4. Risotto (Son3 and DIL3 say they are serious this time)
5. White BBQ chicken, caulitato salad, green beans
6. Veggie dinner: peas, okra, tomato slices, cornbread
7. Take out pizza, tossed salad

Hope you have a good week staying on plan, off plan, or with no plan at all!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Joy to the World, All you Boys and Girls

I keep a list of things I find everyday during the week that bring me joy. Some are large and some are small, but they are always there. I am hoping on New Years Eve when I re-read them I will look back and remember things I had forgotten that are joyful.
For me, I find keeping a running list tends to make me focus on joys in my life. (Though I do admit to succumbing to wicked thoughts about a few things that regularly piss me off. I guess that is why I need to keep my list)

Wednesday: My Beloved sister came over for a swim but while I was changing into my suit I noticed slight plumbing issue. My joy was being able to fix it myself and still have some swim time with her. The water felt wonderful. Started watching A Year in Space on Netflix.

Thursday: This week the days are running into each other. I planted a couple of yellow squash plants and replanted green beans, even though the existing plants are still blooming like crazy. I was also finally able to harvest a lime. I have been babying a lime tree all spring and summer and it is finally ready. I think I have 5 more that should be pickable in a few days. I am calling this a huge success and joy since this is not a citrus tree climate. It is a great climate for a couple of varieties of apples and my apple trees look great. As for the apples? I have 2 remaining that may or may not ripen. Meanwhile I have very happy squirrels and chipmunks.

Friday: DIL3 has been in Alabama several times, but has never been outside of the city while here. This trip we drove to Moundville and Tuscaloosa. Moundville is the site of a prehistoric Native American city that was, at the time the largest settlement in North America. It was built somewhere between after 1200 but before 1400. There are lots of artifacts that suggest it was a major spot for trade and was a place where many "well heeled" people lived.
After we left there we went into Tuscaloosa and did sight seeing at the University of Alabama. DIL3 even got her picture made with the statues of Nick Saban and Bear Bryant. The joy was seeing her response to what she was seeing. Then of course we bought Dreamland bbq and brought it home to eat.

Saturday: TheHub and I woke and went to the lake to do a few chores. After we got home we watched a little of the golf tournament then went for a quick run to pick up delicious food from the Lebanese Food Festival.

Sunday: We had our usual morning breakfast while we streamed our church service. I have gotten quite spoiled worshiping with TheHub while wearing shorts and sipping coffee. The change back to traditional church is going to be a difficult process.  Afterward TheHub went out in the yard to do some yard work and I stuck my head in the freezer to do some mini defrosting/ rearranging/inventorying. While he roasted I was wearing ski gloves and freezing. Later Son2 and DIL2 came by for a little visit. Then we were treated to a frog serenade in the back yard. It honestly sounded like a Budweiser commercial.

Monday: We were treated to an unexpected visit by DIL2. She is a home visiting occupational therapist and was working near our house. Since she had a 2 hour window between visits she came by here to see us and have lunch.

Tuesday: My dear friend lost her husband and because of Covid had a small service for her immediate family in the backyard of her home Monday evening. Her 5 year old granddaughter came dressed in unicorn rain boots that he had bought for her. She also wore a rainbow swim cover-up because "he loved to watch me swim".
My friend sent me a picture of the ensemble Tuesday. There was a huge amount of joy seeing that picture that was two fold. The first was just how stinking precious it was, and the second was that a 5 year old would take the time to pick out an outfit with deliberation, thinking of how it would honor someone she loved.
I also had a phone conversation with one of my favorite blog friends, which is a huge joy.

And that wraps up the list of my joys for the 32nd week of the year. Hope you find your joy also. It's out there but sometimes you really have to look hard to find it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

S’mores Brownies

Monday was National S’mores Day and, if I am nothing else, I am a patriot. Who am I to ignore a designated day?  This is not a recipe, but is more of a "how to" so you can be a good patriot too. I am declaring that all National Food Days are now International, so deliciousness will honor no boundaries. 

9x9 pan
cooking spray
parchment paper (critical for later brownie removal)
brownie mix and necessary brownie mix ingredients
8 or 9 graham crackers, keep 5 whole and crumble the rest into small pieces
chocolate bars, broken into small pieces (depends on how much melted chocolate you want on top of yours
mini chocolate chips (I used about a tablespoon, maybe 2?)

Grease a 9x9 (Yes I cheat and use Pam) pan then put parchment in the bottom of the pan. Spray the parchment with non-stick cooking spray and place graham crackers on the bottom only of the pan. (Takes about 5 long grahams) Use your favorite brownie mix and make according to the package directions. Spread it across the graham crackers and bake it as the package calls for. (Or make your own from scratch.I am not going to get into an argument about brownie quality, since the magic is all about the toppings) After the brownie is baked let it sit to cool until it is cool enough to touch.

Add a layer of marshmallows. Mini marshmallows would be easiest, but I only had regular sized ones which I cut in half and covered the brownie with. If you choose to cut them, kitchen shears and cornstarch will be your best friend. (Trial and lots of error). Run the pan under the broiler until the marshmallows are toasty and golden brown. but watch it carefully because there is a fine line between toasty and charred.

As soon as you take it out of the oven stick the chocolate pieces in the marshmallows. Sprinkle the mini chips over that, the sprinkle the graham pieces on top of that. I did hand place some of the graham bits upright into the gooey marshmallow, but it is not necessary. 

Even though your mouth says yes, yes, yes; wait until the brownies are cool to cut them. They are still ooey, gooey and delicious, but you can actually get them out of the pan once they are cool.

If you want to be patriotic a little late, or just want to practice your skills for a patriotic National S'mores Day 2021, by all means, go ahead with my blessings!

Monday, August 10, 2020


"Sup_per_time, and the cookin' is easy" I can imagine Ella's voice singing that!  It's the perfect song for hot summertime cooking, because easy it one of my key aims when it is hot as blazes outside and I don't want to create more heat (or a bigger mess) than necessary.

I try to think of  what will sound tasty for dinners during the week, and at the same time will use the food I have in storage. Sometimes it hits and sometimes it misses since there are 4 of us eating right now and everyone has their own personal taste and wants. It is usually pretty easy to punt since I do have a lot of food stored, but there have been occasional unplanned trips to the grocery store when we just don't want anything I had thought might sound good.  I am seriously trying to limit any exposure any time I have to be out of the house, yard or car because wearing the masks in the heat tends to be suffocating. On those days, I often turn to a takeout meal. As usual I did not stay on plan, but we ate, had fun, and are using nothing from the entertainment budget so I am calling the excess takeout acceptable.

This is what I thought might happen for the week:
1.  Take out
2.  Take out
3.  Big salad and rolls
4.  Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots
5.  White bbq chicken, caulitato salad, green beans
6.  Grilled steak, baked potato, tossed salad
7.  Spaghetti with meat sauce, tossed salad, garlic bread
8.  Soul food dinner

And this is what we actually ate:
Monday: When Son3 and DIL3 were here pre-Covid, we had taken them to The Red Pearl for dinner. It is our all time favorite Chinese restaurant, and it has a wonderful Asian market attached to it. They asked if we could get something from there again. Normally We would go to and eat, then shop for things I can't find in a traditional store. Now? I call it in, and TheHub runs in to grab it as I sit in the car waiting to hold it and keep everything upright until we get home. No in store browsing!
Assorted entrees with rice, pea leaves, sautéed mushrooms
Harvest: A smattering of green beans

Tuesday: I had ground chuck in the fridge that needed to be used and a husband who loves spaghetti and had asked to have it.  Since I had everything on hand to make the sauce, and had to cook the beef immediately, it was kind of a no brainer.
Spaghetti, meat sauce, tossed salad, toast
Harvest: 1 cucumber, 1/4 pound green beans, a handful of okra

Wednesday: I had an appointment late in the afternoon so I stopped at a small open air produce stand on the way home and bought some veggies from local farms. TheHub and I grew up in Alabama and during both of our childhoods most summertime meals were vegetarian, because the produce was abundant, inexpensive and delicious. (His mom was a much better cook than my mom was, so his veggie meals tasted better than mine!) We still love veggie meals! So does Son3 who also was raised on them during the summer, and DIL3 is a good sport and goes along with it.
Lady peas, air "fried" okra, corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and cornbread.
Harvest: 2 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1/4 pound green beans

Thursday: Friday is garbage day here, so I try and clean out the fridge on Thursday. The aim is to have nothing to add to the garbage, but my aim and actuality rarely coincide. This week I still had an entire container of rice, half the mushrooms, about 1/2 of the pea leaves, left over and a little more than 1/3 pound of green beans, and a half of an onion in the fridge. Add in 1/2 (ish) pound of frozen ground chuck and some seasonings and we called it dinner.
Garbage rice pilaf, or Variation on a theme of leftovers, ham muffins.
Harvest: 1 cucumber, 1/3 pound green beans, 1 tomato, 1 bell pepper, 1 lime

 Friday: We drove DIL3 to Tuscaloosa for a little sight seeing. Before we left T-Town we stopped to pick up our supper at the original Dreamland. They have other restaurants but nothing beats the original. I am guessing it had something to do with the aged hickory smoke pits. The building is a true dive and not somewhere I want to dine in, but I will do take out from there anytime we are in Tuscaloosa.
Ribs, potato salad, white bread, banana pudding

Saturday: It is now food festival season, though all of them are changing to drive through only. I guess it means they are no longer festivals__just food. Saturday was the annual Lebanese Food Fest, and we were thrilled to be able to do a quick drive through the St. Elias parking lot and fill our car with deliciousness.
Spinach pie, meat pie, green beans, rice pilaf
Harvest: 1/2 pound green beans, smattering of okra pods

Sunday: I had planned Sunday's meal for Friday, but we decided to do a little road trip ending with the ever famous BBQ. Not that I minded eating something delicious and not having to cook, but it meant I absolutely had to cook what I had taken out of the freezer  to thaw Thursday afternoon.
Corned beef, cabbage, new potatoes, tomato slices, cucumber slices
Harvest:  1 pound green beans, 2 okra pods

Over all it was a good week with too much take out, but honestly until Friday morning I did not realize it was time for the Lebanese festival and I would have planned it in the weeks menu anyway. We go there every year, so it was traditional for us anyway. (I guess it means I am spending too much time at home. Every other year I would have seen the yard signs about the festival everywhere I drove. Another way Covid is changing my life.)

Now going forward, but in no particular order, here are this weeks possibilities:
1.  Hot Dogs and fixings, baked beans, coleslaw
2.  Veggie dinner, squash, okra, tomato slices, cucumber slices, cornbread
3.  Pulled pork, corn on the cob, tossed salad
4.  Marinated chicken, broccoli, rice, something else but unsure what
5.  Risotto (Son3 and DIL3 plan on cooking the meal, but this is all they have mentioned)
6.  Grilled grouper, sliced potatoes, green beans, tossed salad, crescent rolls
7.  Smoked brisket, some green veggie, salad

Hope you all have a good week staying on plan, going off plan, or having no plan at all

Friday, August 7, 2020

Eating Remnants

In an effort to have little to none  in the food waste department,
(I am failing on the none part) I am trying to incorporate leftovers in different ways. Today as I was cleaning out the fridge I found about a cup of scrappy ham pieces and needed to either toss them or use them immediately .

I was also seasoning a turks hat pan I had bought years ago but never seasoned. Since I inherited Mom's, I thought I would give this smaller one to Son3.  I have baked the pan in the oven several times with bacon drippings and decided it was finally time to see if the seasoning was working.

Since I had the pan already hot and greased with bacon fat whatever I was going to make needed to be savory, so why not some simple ham muffins.

I have had this muffin recipe in my baking repertoire for years and years. It is simple and easy to add or subtract from to make countless varieties of muffins. This recipe just does not take itself serious and does not get mad at you for any alterations you do to it. Plus, not only is it an inexpensive recipe, it is easy peasy!

1/4 cup oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar (for savory muffins or 1/4 cup for sweet ones)
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup additional item* (I used ham)
1/2 teaspoon extract* optional based on what type muffin you are going to make
Spices and herbs * optional, see above

Mix the oil, egg, sugar and milk until well blended. Mix all the dry ingredients together and stir into the egg mix. Stir till blended but do not over stir.  Add your additional item then spoon into well greased muffin tins (or in my case a cast iron turks hat pans)

Bake at 350 for about 18 minutes. Remove from the pan and eat immediately or put them in a bag and freeze for longer storage.

* Add in berries, grated apples, cranberries and orange bits, nuts, bananas, pineapple, cooked sausage, cooked ham, diced chicken, peppers, onions, cheese.  (I am sure you can use pumpkin too but I am not a huge pumpkin fan and never tried it)
 Use part brown sugar, maple syrup, or coconut sugar if you want to.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Joys week 31

As per my usual for 2020 Wednesday post, I am recounting the joys for each day with the aim of rereading them on New Year's Eve to remember that even the crappiest of days has something joyful. This is the list for the 31st week of the year.

Wednesday: My lovely neighbors came for a swim early in the morning. I got to drink coffee and listen to kid's laughter. I love it! There was supposed to be a huge rainstorm and it did rain buckets__for about 5 minutes. That was not a bad thing ! With as much rain as we have had this summer I was still able to get my groceries without getting wet. Win!

Thursday: Shortly after Dad passed away, I moved all of Mom's banking to my bank. Hers was a large national bank and mine is a smaller regional one. We were having issues with her bank so we emptied nearly all of her funds to new accounts 5 years ago. This days joy was twofold.  I was overjoyed that Dad had the foresight to set up a system which has made this process virtually seamless. Secondly, even though my bank's lobby is not open without an appointment (It's a Covid and mask thing) I  was able to do what needed to be done at the drive in window. Every time I drive up they greet me calling me by name, know the situation, and provide the services I need immediately.  Tending to business without jumping through hoops is a true joy

Friday: TheHub and I went to our local seafood market and found gorgeous, fresh (still smelled like the Gulf) grouper and snapper. The place is expensive, but sometimes (especially with fresh seafood) you get what you pay for and for something so delicious I am willing to buy it every now and then.

Saturday: Red and Helena had a little socially distanced outdoor concert for our neighbors Saturday evening. It was a very cool thing for them to do. Every neighbor that came talked about how much they had missed live music. Afterwards the family had a small cookout for Son2's birthday which was also fun.

Sunday: TheHub and I watched our church service online, then we had a kind of lazy day around the house, which was wonderful.

Monday: The day was gorgeous, kinda hot but beautiful. I had a long swim by myself with nothing but bird songs and blue skies.  I could almost hear Willie Nelson's "Blue Skies" in my mind as I swam laps.

Tuesday: I had a couple of appointments and was dreading one of them. I got pretty good news so I am counting that as a joy. A huge joy, in fact!

So this is the list of the joys for the week. I know there were more that I forgot to write on my list. Joys happen every single day, if we just look hard enough to find them. Hope you find your joy for the week.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Food for the Soul

As most of you know, Son3 and DIL3 came to Alabama just to escape the confines of the city. Essentially they traded one Covid hotspot for another one, because we live in a state where people can be unmasked idiots and are then surprised the infection rates have gone up.. At first they were staying for a couple of weeks, then changed their plans to be here for a month. Now they have decided to extend the visit a little longer. It is fine with us. We have the space (and lots of doors) and a pool in the back yard that they can use day and/or night without fear of Covid.

I had compiled a list of meal possibilities before they got here and we have eaten variations of almost all of them, but I am tired of looking at it, so today I officially say adios to this list.  I have a new list of possibilities but it is a very loose list, which I may or may not follow partially. It is just meal ideas really, based on what is available with my very limited trips to the grocery store.

The former list of possibilities: 

1.   Herb stuffed boneless leg of lamb, rice pilaf, asparagus, tossed salad, rolls 
2.   Hamburgers and all the fixings, zucchini fries 
3.   Chicken enchiladas, Mexican street corn, green salad 
4.   White bbq chicken, coleslaw, green beans, Texas toast 
5.   Pulled pork, baked beans, caulitato salad, pickles, buns 
6.   Lady peas, corn, fried okra, cucumber tomato and onion salad, cornbread
7.   Grilled grouper, sautéed crab claws, tossed. salad, broccoli, Italian bread
8.   Ham, au gratin potatoes, collard greens, dinner rolls 
9.   Steak, twice baked potato, tossed salad 
10. Snapper, zucchini fritters, sliced tomatoes, Greek bread 
11. Fettuccine al fredo, tossed salad. Italian bread 
12. Greek chicken salad on lettuce leaves, crusty rolls or baguette
13. Squash, green beans, fried green tomatoes, coleslaw, cornbread 
14. Grilled tuna steaks with mango salsa, zucchini fries, tossed salad, rolls
15. Bruschetta, tossed salad, assorted cheeses
16. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, green beans 
17. Greek meatloaf, potatoes, tomato slices, green beans. 

This is what we really ate for the week:
Monday: It was a day and a night like most of the are now but I really and truly did not feel like cooking, so I grabbed a jar, cooked some noodles and called it dinner.
Fettuccine al fredo, tossed salad, cheesecake

Tuesday: I had planned on a take out meal at least once during the city escapee's visit, but had not necessarily planned it for Tuesday. Since I forgot to take anything out of the freezer to thaw, the take out meal planned itself. Best 23 dollars I could spend!
Bojangle's dinner in a box (fried chicken, biscuits, mac and cheese, green beans and a quart of tea )

Wednesday: We had a simple "eat from the garden" type meal. However; my wonderful DiL made us an incredibly delicious chocolate mousse for dessert. Did I need the dessert? No!  Did I eat it? You bet!  Did I enjoy it? Absolutely!  Do I regret eating it? Not in the least! 
Squash, green beans, coleslaw, cornbread, chocolate mousse

Thursday: This was another day I did not feel like cooking. Luckily I always have some chopped cooked chicken in the freezer. I warmed it and tossed with with some sauce lurking in the fridge.
Bbq chicken, tossed salad, cornbread

Friday: Son3 had requested Gulf seafood while they are here. It is not a problem since my favorite little fish market gets seafood delivered every morning, fresh form the overnight catch. It is a little pricy, but the flavor is outstanding.
Gouper, cajun snapper, smoked tuna dip, green beans, okra, potatoes

Saturday: Son2 had a birthday Friday, so after a little neighborhood thing that they came to see, they stayed for a birthday celebration.
Burgers and all the fixings, chips, caramel cake (one of his favorites)

Sunday: IIt was a mostly lazy day at the casa. Midday my beautiful DIL made cardamom rolls and cinnamon rolls for fika. I am not Swedish so I am unsure of exactly what it means but it is a little sweet snack and coffee. I had planned a meal, but we were still not hungry for much when dinner time rolled around. Instead I reached for some refrigerated  leftovers and the one remaining zucchini to create a less than stellar, yet filling meal.
Ground beef hash, steamed broccoli

And onward to meal possibilities for the coning week (and I use the term possibilities in the loosest way possible)

1.  Take out
2.  Take out
3.  Big salad and rolls
4.  Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots
5.  White bbq chicken, caulitato salad, green beans
6.  Grilled steak, baked potato, tossed salad
7.  Spaghetti with meat sauce, tossed salad, garlic bread
8. Soul food dinner

Sunday, August 2, 2020

It's Space!

In honor of Bob and Doug (and Tremor's) return to earth, I would like to leave a little song DIL3 wrote from Tremor's viewpoint.