Friday, February 26, 2021

It's mostly a foodie post

 One of the things I do to amuse myself is to cook, then eat, haha.  So last week our youngest daughter asked me for my chicken cacciatore recipe, which I had made for her and her husband when they visited us aboard s/v Dreamtime while we were berthed at Porto Cupecoy Marina, St. Martin back in 2011. (Get out the way-back machine!)

Jacqui & Matt take in the sights in SXM - love these guys!!

Anyway, as I had just made spaghetti and meatballs using the same basic recipe it was an easy write-up as it was all fresh in my mind.  Here's how I make chicken cacciatore:

First off, I've found that this really kicks up the flavor of a red sauce - Priano Rosso Pesto sauce - it's a product of Italy. I buy it at Aldi for a couple of bucks. It's basically a sundried tomato style pesto with basil, cashews and various Italian cheeses.  It really adds a depth of flavor to the store bought pasta sauce I use (any brand that is on sale, lol).

Take chopped chicken tenders or (even better) chopped up boneless/skinless chicken thighs, pat them dry, then season with salt & pepper, Mrs. Dash garlic & herbs, and lightly flour.  

Sauté in med-hot pan with a good dollop of olive oil. Just trying to get some color on them, they'll finish cooking in the sauce. Remove from pan to a plate after about 5-7 mins and reserve.

In the same pan (over medium heat) add a bit more olive oil and roughly chopped onions, mushrooms, and I also add 1/2 of a diced eggplant (skin on is fine, no need to salt or soak and I really just add it to stretch the batch so we'll have a freezer portion or 2. We never even taste the eggplant, lol). Part way through, add a couple of tablespoons of the Rosso Pesto Sauce and continue saute'ing until everything is lightly browned and softened, about 10 mins.

Add a big jar of pasta sauce, the reserved chicken and any juices on the plate, plus a 1/2 C red wine and 1/2 C chicken stock (I usually have some stock on hand in the freezer but I've used the powdered chicken bouillon in a bit of water), a splash of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, some herbs & spices of your choice, I use onion powder, Mrs. Dash garlic & herbs, oregano, ground fennel & whole fennel seeds and basil, plus a bit of cayenne for some kick.

Let it simmer over low to med-low heat for 30 mins and there you have it. 

Here's the same sauce with meatballs instead of
chicken.  I like some of my noodles bare. Can't be
beat with garlic toast and kalamata olives,
and don't forget the shredded parmesan.

Another foodie thing that is on my schedule each week is a big bowl of fresh fruit.  We have a bowl most days unless we are having granola.  It doesn't take long to cut up and it's so convenient to have it ready to go. 
A grapefruit, a Navel orange, some pineapple and grapes
are usually what I have on hand. Sometimes I'll cut up 
an apple too and during strawberry season I'll add 
a few of those to our bowls right before serving.

Here is an homage to Manuela aboard s/v Paradise, a fellow foodie and good friend, currently in Mexico. We travelled together down to spend the summer in Venezuela in '07 and she taught me how to make these tasty stuffed peppers. These make for a super appetizer.  She's an excellent, gourmet cook!


20 to 24 banana peppers
canola oil
1 cup soy sauce mixed with 1/2 c
up of water
1 large can of tuna/pink sal
1 small onion
1 Tablespoon cap
4 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
pepper to tast

Using surgical gloves, towel over your nose and goggles or glasses, cut stem off peppers, cut a slit length wise in each pepper, but not cutting through to other side. Remove seeds. Heat oil in skillet and pan fry peppers to a golden brown. Remove and soak in soy sauce mixture until cool. Refrigerate. Mix tuna, mayo, onion, capers and pepper together and stuff each pepper and serve. Warning some or hot and some are not.

Here is a link to her food page

On our trip down to Salt Springs last week we spotted a banana plant which had not only bananas busily growing, but also a banana flower.  Back in the early days Manuela also taught me how to make a yummy salad from the flower.  (I'm including Manuela's recipes and I hope she doesn't mind - 😉  She also has a very interesting blog about the glamorous lifestyle of living aboard a boat. She and Sid left L.A. back in '97 and they're still at it!)


Slice flower in narrow rings and soak in salt water at least one hour. Drain.
Cover with salt water and boil 5 minutes. Drain and cool.
Mix 1 cup each soy sauce, oil and vinegar with crushed red peppers and garlic. Heat.
Mix flower with 1 chopped onion or scallions.
Pour on warm dressing. Stand one hour. Chill and serve with slice bread or crackers.
Holds well in refrigerator.

Friday, February 19, 2021

A Meandering Road Trip down to Lake George, FL & vicinity

 After a foggy start, yesterday was predicted to become sunny, breezy and to warm up to the 80's here in North FL so we decided to make a day of it road touring down and around Lake George, a journey of about 100 miles each way.  We headed down through the Nat'l Forest, stopped at Interlachen to pick up a Subway wrap then stopped for a gander in the Rodman Resevoir/Dam campgrounds.  What a pleasant first stop, a beautiful, clean, manicured picnic area with covered tables and a few photo op's too.

Picnic pavilion at Rodman 

Plenty of lily pads and Egrets

Nice sunny spot

Just nice to get out and walk around. As we left we passed by the Dam and saw tons of birds fishing, including at least 3 Osprey circling around overhead.

To the right of the pier across the way you can see all
the birds lined up; cormorants, pelicans and others
plus the osprey just circling overhead.

From there we headed down to our projected lunch spot, Salt Springs - this part of FL is really neat with the St. John's river, (flows south to north - one of the very few in the U.S. that does), many freshwater springs and lakes galore.  Of course there are a lot of "piney woods" too which we don't particularly enjoy for hiking or hanging out.  However, there are also many. many live oaks (some are giants), also cypress is fairly abundant.

If you zoom in on this area map you can see
many of the various springs and lakes.

One portion of the Salt Springs boiling up from the aquifer

While looking for manatee (nope I didn't see any), we did see juvenile mullets and a few  fairly good-sized ones plus some cool looking blue crabs.  There were several swimmers out and about.  The boat ramp and springhead are separated w/ buoys.

This is taken from the spring head with the spring run 
heading out to join the St. Johns River (and the boaters).

Blue crab zooming around.

A giant of an old live oak. The branches get so large
they swoop down to rest on the ground. Usually full
of the ubiquitous Spanish Moss which I find kind of
creepy but my Southern husband likes just fine.

After lunch we headed on south then east around the bottom of Lake George just to check out the various lakeside properties and marinas and such - cheap thrills, lol.  Lots of pastoral views - green grass and black cows.

Coming on north again we passed by a fascinating roadside yard art business - I could have easily spent a hour or two browsing!  However, with miles to go and in an attempt to avoid any rush hour traffic we pretty much breezed on by.  I did get a few pics though.

They had all manner of large statuary - I loved the horses and elk,
Ed voted for the bear. Look these guys up on line:
Barberville Roadside Yard Art & Produce

And then, it's "home again, home again" and luckily for me I had some grilled chicken drums and baked potatoes ready to go (for their 2nd go round) so after sautéing some fresh spinach/onions and hitting it with some shredded parmesan, an easy supper was at hand.

Thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed meandering with us!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

A chilly week ends with rain and an OMG burger

 This past week started out pretty chilly and grey then migrated towards warmer by becoming wetter. During the early part of the week I was lucky enough to get some ribs prepped  for the grill and the Cap made it so in his usual fine style. TASTY! He also did some hanging out by the firepit.

Too bad I had to use flash but you get the idea.

Meanwhile, I'm a bit of a broken record, cooking breakfast, reading books, doing puzzles and watching the tube, cooking supper. Normally, here I would say "normally I would be out and about grocery shopping, going to the library, thrifting for treasures, chatting with neighbors, etc", but that's probably the same story for you.  Let us live through this blah-ness.

I think I told you about making french toast, freezing it
and reheating it in the microwave- there you go. 

Latest Puzzle effort

So, once a month or so we indulge in a burger and a beer. This had become a pub treat for us during our time out in Colorado.  Once a week or every 10 days we would drive 80 miles round trip to go into town and hit Home Depot or Lowes, the library, the thrift (for a pot lid or some useful doodad) and King Sooper's for some grocery shopping.  Sandwiched in there would be a visit to the local pubs for a burger and a beer.

One of our favorites

Great burgers and fries
and a nice variety of beers

They also have a wonderful ambiance
and a huge selection of whiskeys.

Well, since we didn't go out west this year we've had to take the bull by the horns and take our shot at it.  This entails prepping the patties (I buy frozen, yes, I know. Can I balance that out by saying I grind my own turkey for turkey items?). They then get shaped into a medium thick, bun-sized shape and sprinkled with Montreal steak seasoning on 1 side and Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herbs on the other, plus a couple of drops of Worcestershire sauce. They then get covered and allowed to marinate for a bit.  We always plan this to be a late lunch/supper sort of thing, because this certainly fills us up. We substitute out baked beans and tortilla chips for the fries.

Cap has perfected the grilling portion of this endeavor and we get to "omg'ing" as we eat it.  SO good!! Fixings include mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, sweet onion and (dill pickles for him).  Mine comes as a cheeseburger, yeah!

The plating could be prettier
but you can't beat the taste!

Add to that a likely brewski, Intuition I-10 IPA for me, and a refreshing Yuengling Lager for him and what a meal.

I can pick it up at Publix

Of course, we soon end up in a bit of a food coma and then it's just small "snackage" and hot tea for the remains of the day.

It's Valentines Day and my sweetie honored this commercially-driven hallmark holiday anyway!  So thoughtful and sweet. Love you Honey.

Perfectly shareable too.

Hope y'all are having a great day, and thanks for visiting.

Friday, February 5, 2021

A great ham shank and some demolition going on

I had been doing some daydreaming lately about re-doing our New Year's Day dinner of ham, black-eyed peas, rice and cornbread and finally yesterday I made it so.  A 7.5# shank portion Smithfield ham went into the oven at 1:30 and by 6:00pm I was carving up all that luscious, succulent goodness and cackling about leftovers, ham stock and  ham-infused grits. Wowza, so much fun! (Yeah, I know - I'm easily amused, lol).

The fat cap is still on at this point. Took it off, scored the ham and back into the oven for another half hour - oh, I added some more water at this point too.

The next morning some ham, diced baked potato (with creole seasoning), fried egg and toast with homemade peach jam got our motors started.

Later, I will get my Instant Pot out and pressure cook the bone, and the scraps, along with water, some herbs and seasonings to make a delicious stock for soups, stews, and preparing grits, or barley for additional breakfast sides.  I'll use what stock I need for cooking, then I add some powdered bouillon to it to get a very concentrated stock. This, I usually freeze in an ice cube tray, then decant the cubes into a freezer baggie for later use, like stretching a stew or making gravy.

The Demolition

When we moved to our quiet neighborhood some years ago there was an old, unused concrete racquet ball court facing our roadway.  We loved the house and backyard views so much we just figured we'd live with the eyesore out front.  Well, guess what? The new owners just had it demolished and it gave us a much better view! In a matter of a few hours it was knocked down, cleaned up (all materials to be recycled), and the ground prepped for sod or whatever (I'm kind of hoping for tomatoes - haha).

The racquet ball court before, not too pretty

The after, although the new owners has landscaping plans too.
So much better!