Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Landing Gear Up!

This is a picture of a Great Blue Heron.

It is North America's largest heron.

It grows to be 4 feet 7 inches from head to tail. Its wingspan can fall between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet 6 inches and it weighs about five pounds.

It is a big bird and looks even bigger when it nearly collides with your windshield. I know, because this happened to The Colonel and I the other day.

We were heading into town on a road that has a 55 mph speed limit. From this road we were going to make a left hand turn onto a residential street. To negotiate this turn successfully and safely (not taking a rouge heron into account) we would start slowing down before the turn at a given point on the road.

We came to that point and The Colonel began to apply the brakes. We slowed to roughly 35 mph when the heron chose that moment to fly right in front of the truck's windshield, narrowly escaping an impact.

The heron flew diagonally from the lower corner of the passenger side of the windshield to the upper corner of the driver's side. This all took place in a matter of seconds, but like any near miss or accident, when it is played back in your mind, goes in slow motion and all details are magnified.

The Colonel and I estimated the heron to be a mere three inches from the windshield. At that range the bird looked like a pterodactyl.

The heron was so close we could see the fear in its eyes as it retracted its landing gear (read that as extremely long legs) just in time to avoid them hitting the windshield on the driver's side.

The Colonel said the heron was so close he thought he even saw its backside (not his actual word) pucker up. I must admit the "pucker factor" was a bit elevated in the truck cab as well.

I shutter to think what would have happened if we had not chosen to slow down to turn left and proceeded straight on the road going 55 mph.

Sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're almost the bird.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

National Coverage For My Friend's Cover

The other day The Colonel and I visited Books-A-Million so that I could spend some of my birthday money.

I came home with an armload of books (I have two armloads stacked near and on my nightstand already).

While at the bookstore, The Colonel made a bee line to the back of the store to peruse the magazine section. I met him there after choosing my armload of books.

My dear friend back in Indiana has been knitting for nearly four decades. She is a very creative and prolific knitter (she also sews magnificently). So it comes as no surprise to me that one of her designs has made the September 2010 cover of Creative Knitting.

I am so proud of and happy for my dear friend.

I laid my armload of books down on a nearby bench so that I could whip out my camera to snap a couple of pics of the magazine. I got a few strange looks from one of the other patrons, so The Colonel suggested I cut my photo shoot short.

"Just one more, I promise," I said.

I wanted to shout out to everyone in the store, while waving the magazine over my head, "Hey, everyone, this is my friend's design and isn't it cool that she lives in another state, but people in Florida can see her work, heck it is a national magazine, so all of America can see her work!"

Again, I am so proud of and happy for my friend.

So proud and happy in fact, that I moved the copies of the magazine to front and center of the knitting section of the magazine stand.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!

The Colonel got me a Cuisinart ice cream machine for my birthday from Sur La Table. With this machine I can also make frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbet as well as frozen drinks (Pina Coladas anyone?).

I tried my hand at making a sugar-free, mint chocolate chip ice cream a couple of days ago.

I started out with the basic vanilla ice cream recipe that came with the machine (in place of vanilla extract I used peppermint extract and Sweet 'N' Low in place of sugar).

I whisked together 1 cup of whole milk, 6 teaspoons of Sweet 'N' Low, 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract.

I turned on my machine and then poured the mixture into the freezer bowl through the ingredient spout.

I poured the 4 ounces of mini chocolate chips into the machine during the last five minutes of the 25 minute mixing cycle.

The mixture had to ripen for two hours in the freezer.

We had the ice cream after dinner.

The ice cream had a great flavor. The consistency was not as creamy as I was expecting. I am not sure if that had a lot to do with using the Sweet 'N' Low instead of sugar.

The instruction booklet that came with the machine did say the consistencies will be different than store bought products because this is made with fresh, pure ingredients and does not contain the gums and preservatives that commercially produced ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbet do.

I think I will try my hand at frozen yogurt next.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hobo Packs: A Culinary Blast From the Past

Another food-centric blog entry?

First hot dogs, then guacamole, now Hobo Packs?

When ideas for blog entries present themselves, you gotta run with them.

I look through my cookbooks to get menu ideas for the upcoming week. I make my grocery list based on these menu ideas and this helps to curb any impulse buying and food waste.

One day I saw a recipe for Hobo Packs. Hobo Packs consist of meat and vegetables cooked in aluminum foil. I thought this looked easy and fun to make for dinner and the clean up would be a breeze. Hobo Pack dinners were a popular item in the 50s and 60s. The Colonel said he used to have them for dinner once in a while when he was a kid.

I bought some ground beef and made it into patties. I then seasoned the patties with Montreal Steak Seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and B-B-Q sauce. Next I peeled and sliced some potatoes and carrots and placed them with the beef patty. Finally I sliced some red onion and placed it on the meat and veggies.

I then folded the foil to create a sealed pack.

I placed the four packs onto a baking sheet and put them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven and baked them for 45 minutes.

When opening the Hobo Packs be careful of the escaping steam.

I served my Hobo Packs on dinner plates, but for less cleanup, eat them right out of the foil pack.

The beauty of Hobo Packs for dinner is the ease of preparation, the quick and minimal cleanup and everyone can personalize their own pack.

The Colonel enjoyed this culinary blast from his past so much he wanted them the next day.

This retro repast has made it onto my menu list for future food fare.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Guacamole Fresca

These avocados came from a tree on my DSIL's lot in town. She and The Colonel picked them. When they brought them home to me they were still a bit hard, so I placed them in a brown paper bag for a few days until they became ripe and soft.

They were ready to be made into guacamole this afternoon.

I have never made guacamole before and lucky for me, I had recently seen an easy recipe for it in Southern Living magazine.

I took two avocados (the other two went home with DSIL and she took them to some people at work), cut them in half, scooped out the flesh and then mashed it in a bowl.

I then put 1/3 of a cup of chilled, drained salsa (your choice, I had some Don Pablo's mild salsa on hand) and 2 Tablespoons of lime juice into the mashed avocados and mixed well. Finally, I seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste.

Thank goodness I had some tortilla chips in the pantry. I broke them out and gave my Guacamole Fresca an official taste test.

Muy bueno.

My Guacamole Fresca has a light taste. There is a subtle lime flavor in the background and the small amount of salsa is just right to complement the fresh avocados.

Often times I find the guacamole in restaurants too strong and overpowered by garlic and lime juice.

This simple recipe is simply delicious.

Muchas gracias for the avocados DSIL.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How My Lunch Triggered a Happy Childhood Memory

Last weekend Spud's NJROTC unit held its annual picnic. It was a beautiful day beach side. There was no rain at this year's picnic.

After the picnic there were still plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers left uncooked so they were divided amongst the picnickers and I now have some hamburgers in my freezer and hot dogs in my fridge.

I decided to have a hot dog for my lunch today.

I placed an all-beef hot dog in a bun, loosely wrapped it in a paper towel and microwaved it for 30 seconds. When I unwrapped the hot dog I was immediately thrown back in time, by my old factory nerves, to the Hot Dog Days of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (OLMC) Catholic School.

Hot Dog Day at OLMC was special. I don't remember the frequency of the scheduled Hot Dog Days, I just remember there didn't seem to be enough of them.

On Hot Dog Day morning, Mom would give us our quarters instead our packed lunches. When you were in your classroom that morning your teacher would take a count of how many hot dogs would be needed that day for lunch. Along with your hot dog order, you had a choice of white or chocolate milk (hardly anyone would order white milk), a small bag of popcorn (and if you were lucky enough or rich enough, because they cost a bit extra) an ice cream sandwich. If I remember correctly, 50 cents would buy your hot dog, popcorn and milk.

The school would smell wonderful near lunchtime with the delicious aromas of the hot dogs and popcorn. The orders were delivered to the classrooms and lunchtime would take on a carnival like atmosphere. Hot Dog Day was always something I looked forward too.

I have some more hot dogs in the fridge and I am looking forward to being transported again to the happy memory of OLMC Hot Dog Day when I next zap and unwrap my lunch.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010