Sunday, October 22, 2017

Cooking Craze

The newest craze in cooking uses a new machine...the Instant Pot (an electric pressure cooker). The Colonel has been wanting to get one. He has seen many tasty looking recipes on line that use an Instant Pot and the other day he "pulled the trigger" and ordered one. After the Instant Pot arrived I bought an Instant Pot cookbook and we decided to make the Spanish Arroz con Pollo recipe within its pages.

As The Colonel cut up the onion, sweet red pepper and garlic, I lightly browned the chicken breasts in the Instant Pot. I removed the chicken and then cooked the vegetables.

When the vegetables were tender I returned the chicken to the pot and added the rest of the ingredients: tomatoes, paprika, oregano, crushed red pepper, white wine, water, rice and saffron.

The Instant Pot pressure cooked everything in 15 minutes.

The recipe called for the use of a natural release to depressurize which took about 40 minutes. When it was time to open the pot this is what the Spanish Arroz con Pollo looked like once I added the peas.

This is what the finished recipe looked like in the cookbook....

This is what ours looked like when plated up....

They never look like the pictures in the cookbooks!

The Spanish Arroz con Pollo was good but I had expected it to have more flavor. The chicken was fork-tender though. The Colonel and I are looking forward to trying more recipes with the Instant Pot.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Making Hurricane Irma's Acquaintance

(Image from Internet)

The strongest recorded hurricane on the entire planet...the first time that nearly the entire state of Florida was effected by a hurricane (due to its size...roughly 400 miles wide or three to four times as wide as the Florida Peninsula)...Irma sure did make my 56th birthday memorable. Irma jinked west then north instead of hugging Florida's east coast as everyone thought it would at first.

Thanks to Irma I couldn't even celebrate my birthday on my birthday (Sept. 9th). A couple of days prior to my birthday, The Colonel and I had been prepping our home, as well as the homes of Yam and my In-Laws for the arrival of the hurricane. We cleaned furniture and plants off of porches. We lengthened downspouts and sandbagged them in place.

We put my car into the garage as well as some of the plants and furniture.

The Colonel and I then began filling containers with water at home.

Many people run to the stores and fight the panicking crowds to buy water. The beauty of a hurricane (ha) is that you have days to prepare for it and/or flee from, you do not have to buy your water just fill containers (and your bathtub) while you await the storm. We just kept filling containers....

The day before my birthday (Yam had half a day off from work to prep for the hurricane), The Colonel, Yam (Spud sent a card and gift from Jacksonville) and I went over to my In-Laws so that I could open presents and cards. I got everything on my wish list plus a few surprises. I had wanted to go to a certain pizza parlor in town for my "birthday" lunch but it was closed and boarded up but another pizza joint in town was still open so we went there. After lunch and a visit, we parted ways to finish last minute hurricane preparations. That mid afternoon Yam texted saying in town was given a recommended evacuation order. We told her and The Colonel's parents to hold tight until the next morning to see if the evacuation order changed. It did. At nearly 8 a.m. a mandatory evacuation order was given in town.

Yam and her cat Henry arrived at our house around 9:45 a.m. The Colonel and Yam went to collect my In-Laws an hour later. We were all too busy to remember it was my birthday (thank goodness we celebrated it the day before). At 9:15 p.m. the rain started but it was not heavy. There was light to medium rain all through the night with limited wind gusts.

The yard was beginning to fill with water.

On Sunday, September 10th (the height of hurricane season), stronger rain was coming and a big gust of wind occurred around 11 a.m. Shortly after the gust we saw that one of our banana trees had broken and fallen over.

Throughout the day the wind and rains increased. Our power flickered at 5:05 p.m. and the Internet as well as the television were bumped off. The power would flicker off and on most of the day as well as losing Internet and television. With the threat of loss of power, we microwaved items in the freezer for meals, in hopes of not having any waste. We only had two items left when the power finally went out for good at 8:07 p.m. 

Hurricane Irma was roughly 35 miles southeast from us before the power went out. We figure the eye of the hurricane was about 13 miles east of our house around 9 p.m. With no power (read that as no more television), the In-Laws turned in early. Yam, The Colonel and I stayed up a until we heard the wind gusts and rain lessen around 10:30 p.m. I forgot to tell you that water was seeping in through our side door and the dryer vent throughout the raging storm. I used several towels to block off and soak up the invasive water. When the towels became sopping wet I replaced them and wrung the wet ones (by flashlight). Oh my poor arthritic hands and wrists. The Colonel helped too.

The rain and wind dropped off by 6 a.m. the next morning. We were still without power, but The Colonel cooked eggs and hash on our kitchen's gas stove. He had boiled water for our coffee too. It was an impressive breakfast considering the lack of normalcy we were experiencing. 

By the light of day we could see how much water was now in our yard. We had gotten a lot of rain dumped on us.

 The brown strip you see near the top of the photos is the road in front of our house,it is under water.

Once the sun came out the water began to recede. We had our yard back within a couple of days (it is still very soggy but at least we can see grass again). I could almost hear the water receding as I hung up my very damp towels. The Colonel strung up a temporary clothesline for me on the porch.

Hurricane Irma was a Category 2 (96-110 mph winds) when it was in our area. It had grown weaker and faster when it finally reached us. We also were on the west side of the hurricane which is the less powerful side. We were very fortunate. Our power came back on the day after the storm passed at 11:12 a.m. There are a few in town who still have no power as I write this. Yam and the In-Laws' power came on around the same time ours did and we took them back to their homes at 12:20 p.m. Everyone was ready to get back to their homes and routines. 

The Colonel and I waited to go to the grocery until yesterday (three days post hurricane. We had canned foods still but wanted fresh meat and veggies). Some of the shelves were sparse but we saw many stock boys working. There are still lines at gas stations but each day they become less congested. Now comes the part of debris cleanup. We do not have much yard debris at our house. Yam and the In-Laws' yards were full of downed limbs and palm fronds. It appeared that in town got more wind and outside of town, where we live, got more rain.

I do not wish to have another birthday experience like this one any time soon or better yet, ever again...but when your birthday falls around the height of hurricane season and you live in Southwest Florida...  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Quilling: The Art of Paper Filigree

Quilling is the art of rolling and shaping narrow strips of paper (1/8" thick) and arranging them to form designs. It is thought to date back to the 15th century. At that time the paper was rolled on bird quills; thus, the name quilling.

Quilling was first used by the Italian and French nuns in creating exquisite designs to decorate religious artifacts and the walls of churches. As the art form spread to new parts of the world, it was fashionable for the ladies of the 17th and 18th centuries to create beautiful and delicate edgings on folding screens, firescreens, mirrors, boxes and pieces of furniture, with quillwork.

The hatpin eventually replaced the quill and today there are quilling tools available.

Yesterday, one of the ladies in my DAR chapter held a quilling class in her home. Carol had all of the supplies laid out before us on her dinning room table. There were ten of us taking the class.

First, Carol had us learn and make the basic quilling shapes. Once we made them, we glued them to a card that gave the name for each shape. It would be our guide to making future projects.

We used a quilling tool during class. It is a small, metal wand that has one slotted end. The end of the paper strip goes into the slot and then you roll the paper onto the wand's slotted end. The amount of tension that you roll the paper with determines what kind of end product you want...more tension equals a tighter roll.

Once we had all of our practice rolls and scrolls completed it was time to start on a picture. Carol had a pattern of two flowers for us to work with. She had drawn the flowers on paper and then put that paper over a small Styrofoam block and then covered it all with wax paper. The wax paper would help to keep the quilled paper from sticking to the pattern on the block.

Carol had many pretty colors of paper strips to choose from. I chose purple and red. I measured, rolled and glued my quillwork together on the block. I used straight pins to hold the quillwork together. Once it dried, I gently pulled the pretty flowers off of the block and glued them to a piece of card stock. This is what my first attempt at quilling looks like.


When I came home, I felt that my artwork still needed something to finish it. I had some empty space that needed filling just above the flowers.

In the little kit that Carol sent home with us was a pattern and some paper strips for making a bee...perfect!

(Now bear with is hard to snap a picture one-handed and quill one-handed at the same time).

I traced the bee onto the paper, put the paper onto the foam block and covered it with wax paper.

I read the instructions, measured and cut the strips (4" or 6") and began rolling. Once rolled, I glued the end piece of the paper roll. I then pinned the bee's head onto the foam block.

Next came the body of the bee. That would be a loose roll that would be pinched to create a teardrop shape. I glued the body to the head and kept it in place with a pin.

Finally, the wings. They were made just like the body but with gold colored paper.

When the glued bee pieces dried, I gently lifted them off of the wax paper and glued the finished bee to my quilled flower picture. Not bad for a first attempt at quilling.

Thank You Carol!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017