Friday, March 26, 2021

Ten days go by, and with them a few chores, some cooking and some tips & tricks.

So here we are, a little further down the road into spring. As I mentioned in my last post so many things are already in bloom. My neighborhood, when it was developed, was well-planted with azaleas and they are lovely this time of year but my yard is a xeriscape and utilizes red rock as the ground cover. As such, every leaf and fallen bloom makes it look messy and eventually breaks down into dirt which makes it easier for weeds to take hold. Since we are seasonal and not available to tend to it during the summer it can become overgrown and unkempt looking (and our HOA doesn't like that). The gist of this story is that we have 1 small azalea in our yard and simple enjoy everybody else's azaleas. 

They make a lovely scene (not my yard, btw, but a common area).

Common area in between buildings.

We get a fair bit of dew on our lakeside deck surfaces, and that translates to mildew. Part of our spring cleaning is to address any surfaces that got green over the winter, ha ha. It was my job to scrub up stuff deckside to beautify things for sundowners and dinners out back this spring.

Going, going, and gone, easy peasy.

On the cooking front, I made a new batch of cornbread breakfast strata which turned out great and will provide several heat-n-eat breakfasts which is so convenient. Add a bowl of fruit and you're all set.

I generally put sausage, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes,
asparagus pieces and cheese with the cornbread crumbles.
The recipe details are on the food page up at the top of this blog.
You have to scroll down a fair bit to find it..

Also, I thought a shot of my "seasoning" freezer baggies might be useful for y'all to see.

There's tomato paste, hatch chilis, chipotle peppers,
rosso pesto and basil pesto. 

Here's another cool thing I found the other day; snack bags from Walmart that are square and 5"x5". A much more useful shape then Ziploc's snack bag. Don't know how long they'll carry them so I'm going to set a couple of boxes aside just in case.

Pretty nifty size.

I'm sure to some folks (my sister included) all the cooking stuff gets boring but for those who enjoy reading other ppl's culinary exploits, I give you King Ranch Chicken.  I decided to take a stab at making this casserole after watching the Pioneer Woman prepare it. We love Tex/Mex flavors and I'm always looking for things that I can reheat easily. This really fits the bill. It was delicious and I reheated it a week later after being frozen and it was a big success around here. We serve it with tortilla chips for a salty crunch. Not going to elaborate on the recipe since you can get it off the site.

Creamy sauce w/Rotel, torn up corn tortillas

First set of layers built, includes onions, peppers, mushrooms
hatch chilis, cheese and shredded rotisserie chicken. I sautéed
the veggies as opposed to Ree's method of leaving them raw.

Baked up gooey and delicious. Glad I had a pan under it!

Yum, yum, yum.

Here's a shot of my latest puzzle effort.  It was pretty time-consuming as the pieces were all very strange shapes. I hadn't experienced one like that before. Also, since it was a thrift find, there were 5 pieces missing - Wha?! Haha - No big deal, it was still fun.

Wonderful southern breakfast with bacon, grits and eggs.

That's about it for today's effort, hope you enjoyed it and thanks for visiting.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Cool lunch outing with a friend and spring delights

Yesterday I had a fun, productive and busy day on a great weather day.  I had made lunch plans with Nancy, formerly of s/v Silver Seas, to have a picnic lunch in a riverside park.  Nancy is familiar with this part of Jacksonville, an old stately section called Ortega.  Beautiful!  We hit the weather just right and it was very obvious that Spring had sprung! Every azalea, tulip tree, and redbud tree was in bloom and much of the grasses were bright with springtime color.

Before these shots were taken, we had each picked up some fast food and met at a local used book store called Chamblin's Bookmine which has around 23,000 sq ft of retail space. I love this place and have long since completed my personal collections of book series that I read and reread by searching these stacks. They have another huge store in the downtown area of Jacksonville, FL.  Here is a collage of shots from there  plus one more.

Check out the gorgeous pencil drawing, looks like 
a book cover in the making, tons of books to peruse.

This shot is indicative of how slap full of books this place is.

After lunch I had an appointment to get the final fitting of my new orthotics and pick out some new sneakers as well.  I have had plantar fasciitis off and on for many years.  I think it started after going barefoot for so many years aboard our sailboat.  

I need to have a couple of good pairs of athletic shoes for walking and hiking this summer so I bought some Kuru's (thanks Marlene, we'll see how they do) and some New Balance Fresh Foam's to go with the new inserts.

Anyway, while I was waiting I stepped across the street looking for a Bead shop that I had found some interesting beads at in the past. Drat, it wasn't there anymore, but in it's place was a very fun mineral shop cum headshop type place called Midnight Sun. Really fun to have a look-see! (I could have spent hours there, lol). It's a case of "what goes around comes around" - or welcome to the 70's, haha.

Just barely scratches the surface, everything from
tie-dye and batik clothes, incense, jewelry, hand-carved
Balinese wooden wall hangings and mineral stones.
Finally, I took a few shots of local flowering shrubs and all, (sorry about this all you snowbound folks) hope you enjoy them!

One of the many azalea banks within my neighborhood!

Azaleas, unusual in their pale pinkness.

Tulip tree in full bloom in someone's front yard.

Azalea hedge in someone's front yard.

Well, thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoyed.

Friday, March 5, 2021

My sister's got talent, plus more food topics & puzzles.

 So my thoughtful sister sent us one of her special gifts yesterday and it's definitely making the trek out to Colorado with us this summer - we love it and think it will be a great decorative addition to Rocky (our Cougar 26RLS).  She specializes in various needle works and creating custom greeting cards, etc. and this one is reversible - very cool.  I'll attach some monofilament at the corners for hanging. Thanks sis!   💙👍

Beautiful 2-sided western needlepoint

Italian Sausage & Veggie Pot Pie

So, the other day I had some Pillsbury pie crusts, a plethora of fresh vegetables that needed to be used and had picked up some "on sale" ground Italian sausage so it sounded like a Pot Pie was in the offing.  The veggies might sound weird or even discordant but flavor was great and it was very well-received by all. 

Besides the sausage there was cabbage (white),1/2 eggplant, fresh mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, garlic and a plum tomato.  Everything was cut up to a smallish dice and sautéed with Italian herbs, Mrs. Dash garlic & herbs, fennel seed, caraway seed and onion powder.  While the mixture cooled I made up the "gravy" that would keep the filling moist.  It included tomato paste, ham & chicken stock, basil pesto, and sundried tomato pesto.  Whenever I make stock from bones or open jars of pesto or salsa, etc, I usually freeze some of it in ice cube trays then decant into freezer bags so I can use as needed without having to worry about spoilage - so handy!

After everything cooled off I mixed a modest amount of shredded Asiago cheese in, put the mixture in the crust, sprinkled some mozzarella on top, then added my top crust. Baked at 425 for 35 minutes and covered the edges after 20.

For us, we can get 4 meals out of a pot pie, so I usually freeze 2 portions and leave one in the fridge to eat in a few days (haha, my every other day easy meal).

If you ask my husband, this one will definitely be going into the rotation and I liked it too.

One more food item I made this week was fondant potatoes. Basically baking potatoes that are fried (in butter & thyme), then baked with stock. I used ham stock. Yummy. I learned how to make them by watching youtube videos.

2 russet potatoes ready for the oven 

When not amusing myself with food prep I work on the current jigsaw puzzle, here is the one I just finished - fun!

Boy, it's going to be great when we can get back to doing normal things. Spring is well underway here in N Florida, although we did have a small overnight cold snap with lows in the upper 40's.

Here's the previously completed puzzle that never got published - big whoop.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!