Archive for February, 2014

Sno-Birds and Rentals!

I am going to talk about Sno-Birds and Rentals today!

The calendar is racing by…in a few more days it will be the 1st of March…it seems like we just had Christmas! 

Do the months drag by only for the  young?  

I think,… as we age, the days fly by much faster. ๐Ÿ˜‰  Perhaps keeping busy has a little to do with that. 

Florida is a literal melting pot of people. We have “Sno-Birds”,  which are families who come to Florida mostly from Europe, Asia and the Northern United States. They stay during our Winter months…from around October through April or May. They return to their respective homes when our weather starts to really warm up. Quite a few of these Sno-Birds own houses down here, so this is a second home for them.  Others, rent upscale homes for weeks and months.

Some families with small children are here for only a few weeks…a normal vacation for most.  In fact, there is a family at the upscale vacation rental house behind our home as we speak.  They are from Germany and at this moment the two children are really enjoying the swimming pool!  As I sit in my Secret Garden, I can hear squealing and splashing as they play in the pool. The innocence of youth makes me smile.

The other group of renters are the year round renters.  These are the renters the Captain and I utilize for our Rental(s)…which leads me to the following text and pics.

 Rental

We have The Rental rented and the tenants will be moving in on March 1st.  I promised you pictures of the finish…and I don’t think it shows very well, but the outside is actually painted a very pale green with white trim.

 One of the cons of owning a rental house is;  you not only have to keep up with repairs, etc… at your personal dwelling,… one must keep up with repairs, etc on Rentals too!

Rental1

Rental Kitchen

 The finished kitchen…I like the way the painted white cabinets make this little kitchen seem a little larger.  It was worth all the effort of taking off doors and sanding and finishing them off.

 rental5

That good lookin’ man in the green shirt is my Captain…sorry, I just had to include a pic of him.  I never tire of looking at him!

Any man at work always looks good and if he happens to be my man…that is even better!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 Rental2

Rental Lanai

The finished Lanai….See above pic, the Captain replaced the indoor/outdoor carpeting on the Lanai.  

While we were at The Rental yesterday, doing last minute inspections…..the Captain noticed a drip at the faucet in the Master Bathtub, so that had to be fixed.  He spent most of the day yesterday fixing water pipes and tending to the sprinkler system.

Thank goodness, I am not good at that or I would have been the PLO, Private Latrine Orderly….I am sure you remember the Titles the Captain gave me when we started the refurbishing of this Rental! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I hope you are all having a Blessed week and are looking forward to a wonderful week-end.  It doesn’t matter what you do in the way of activities,  just do it with love and thanksgiving! 

I will be thinking of you all…

Me

Don’t Want to Leave You Danglin’….

Don’t want to leave you danglin’ …..so I will update you on some of the queries I have posted and talked about in previous posts in “Confessions – Over the Hedge!

So come with me… as I take my “Cranberry Morning Coffee Cake” and Hot Tea to the Secret Garden to catch you up on all the news!

 

eagle3 The sad news first….in the story “Eagle Cam and Ozzie and Harriet” one of the two little Eaglets has died. We had 3 days of heavy rain and no one knows what happened, but apparently,  it’s health started deteriorating and the little Eaglet named “E3” (the more robust of the two eaglets) died in the nest.

 

White coating In the post “Help! White Coating on Mandevilla Vine” , the pest control people called it Scale, which are tiny white insects that literally suck the sap out of flowering vines. They have since been treated and the showy, pink flowers on my Mandevilla Vines are s-l-o-w-l-y recovering!

 

CA8GANN1In the story about the Kansas City Chiefs 9-0.…I expressed my excitement that the Chiefs seem to have their act together for the first time in years…and they did pretty well in this Season, though fell short of going to the Super Bowl!  “Coach Andy Reid is working to build off the good that came from taking a team that finished 2-14 in 2012 and a year later went 11-5 and made the AFC playoffs.”

 

UPS8

 In my post “Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Heat Nor Gloom…” I told you I ordered a Valentine gift that didn’t arrive in time for Valentine’s Day! Yes, it finally arrived howbeit 5 days late!  I am trying to look at the positive side….I am early for next year’s Valentine gift….that is if I remember where I “hide” it!  ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

fairy10 I am happy to report that I did find a resting place for my Fairy Garden, “Fairy Dust and…Moonbeams” …..The two fairies, bunny and lady bug are happily at eye level in my Secret Garden nestled on one of my gardening racks….no chance of them falling off the pedestal this way. 

 

cat pictures10 The aloof “fence sitter” in my poem, “Pharaohs and Kings” ,...visits occasionally… however, with it’s air of independence, one never knows when this elusive cat will show up. I am being patient, but I have been known to be a little stubborn too…. or so the Captain says! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

dress up2

 
dress up17                                                                                                                                          

Speaking of animals…our little Jesse James sported a beautiful Valentine’s Day Scarf (see pic of his closet) after his grooming! I started to take the scarf off him as soon as the groomer left, but Jesse actually acted like he wanted to keep it on..He is sporting his green dragon Halloween costume in the first pic.  I think I created a star when I dressed him up Dress Em’ up But Can’t Take Em’ To Town”…next thing you know he will be snooping around for sunglasses!

 

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

And finally, my Kansas Jayhawks! Last night, they won the College Basketball, Big 12 Championship for the 10th year in a row after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners. So the road to the “Dance” begins and the Jayhawks are well on their way! Rock Chalk Jayhawk….KU!

I hope this fills in the blanks….I will continue to keep you all up to date. If you have specific questions that I have not addressed, please do not hesitate to let me know in the comments section below.

Have a great Wednesday   or “hump” Day for some!

Me  

Bugs and Spiders and Worms, Oh My…..

Bugs and Spiders and Worms, Oh My….

Does the “frozen tundra” in your part of the world have you thinking about Spring…Gardens…Canning and things such as this?

I am certainly getting the fever to till the earth, tote that barge and lift that bale!  Of course, that usually means in “Me Speak”…the Captain will be doing the lifting and toting…and the tilling too! I am soooo good at planning and organizing, that it takes all my energy, …leaving none for lifting, toting and tilling! ๐Ÿ™‚

canning

Canned tomatoes

As our thoughts turn to Spring, my thoughts turn to the abundance of vegetables and fruit that abound here in Florida!  I go to the Farmers Market every Saturday and come home laden with small cucumbers (canning cinnamon pickles), tomatoes (canning salsa and chili sauce) strawberries (canning strawberry preserves) and many other goodies.

canning2

Fresh picked tomatoes

 

Over the next few months I will be providing some of my canning recipes that my grandmother gave me.  

canning1

Peeling blanched tomatoes

Yes, it can be a lot of work…but the rewards of eating fresh tasting foods in the middle of Winter make up for the extra time it takes to prepare.  Remember the story of the little red hen? No one helped her prepare…so she didn’t share…;)  I am different, I would share even if the Captain didn’t assist….Wouldn’t I?  

Sure I would! ๐Ÿ™‚

canning3

Funneling juice into canning jars!

My point is, if you are interested in canning or “putting up” veggies for the Winter months…engage the family to assist!  It could be a fun project. That is how I learned to like “canning”.  My Grandmother made it a project that I was a part of. Hence, I learned to appreciate the art of “canning”.

I find that now I like to can in smaller amounts…whereas when my children were little, I canned quite a few quarts of certain foods.  I will be doing pints, not quarts and only of some fruits …because Florida’s growing season is almost all year round’…there is no shortage of fresh produce.

As my thoughts drift back to my Paternal Grandmother…(Both of my Grandmothers “canned”) …I really learned a lot at Grandma’s knee, …so to speak.  She and I “put up” dill pickles, green beans, peaches, jams, jellies and tomatoes just to name a few foods.

There was only one thing I didn’t like about canning at my Grandmother’s house.

I didn’t like going down to the root cellar… because of the cob webs and the dark corners and crevices.  And that was where she kept all her canning jars and lids and where we put all the quarts of canned produce! (We made so much that Grandma also supplied my family and my Aunt’s family with canned jars of veggies and fruits). The onions and potatoes were in large barrels by the door…I didn’t have to search for them!

Because I was smaller, (than Grandma) I was elected to go fetch ‘things” in the cellar and to place “things” in the cellar when we finished. There was a dirt floor and the “shelves” consisted of the cement foundation of the house and it was on this cement foundation that “things” were stored. There was an old wooden chair that was my makeshift “step stool” (and it was a rickety chair at that!)

One could only access the root cellar from the outside of the house, I had to lift one of the heavy double doors and prop it up to keep it from closing on me.  

Picture this:

Kansas!… Dorothy!… in the movie “Wizard of Oz”…Tornado overhead! ….Wind blowing like crazy! and Dorothy is trying to get the cellar door opened and the wind keeps blowing it shut!

That was me! I was like Dorothy!…only I went down to the root cellar with the Bugs and Spiders and Worms, Oh My…..

However, in the dead of those Kansas Winters….I have to admit I enjoyed all the fruits (literally) of our labor.  I cherish the memories of my Grandmother,… teaching me to “can”….she taught me a lot over the years, but I think “canning” with her was my favorite!

Me….

Cranberry Morning Coffee Cake

This Cranberry Morning Coffee Cake is a great way to greet any day…I like to make it the night before and heat up a slice with my morning hot tea. 

Cranberry Morning Coffee Cake

Cranberry Morning Coffee Cake

The recipe is easily modified with other fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and yes, even peaches and apples. Just see what is in “Season” and go with it!

I forgot to snap a pic before I slid the cake into the oven!  I took a chance that the cake would not fall and took the pic while still in the oven...Oooops!!

I forgot to snap a pic before I slid the cake into the oven!
I took a chance that the cake would not fall and took the pic …Oooops!!

 

I use frozen cranberries but fresh work just as well.  Always rinse your frozen cranberries and drain well.

If using fruit such as peaches…the cake will be more like a cobbler, but it is just as good.  

The orange zest makes the coffee cake sing…so test out your own vocal chords and enjoy the duet of wonderful flavors! 

In fact, the Captain is singing now…..:)

Me

  • Cranberry Morning Coffee Cake
    Serves 12
    A delicious coffee cake, so good with your morning coffee or tea. The glaze is optional but why wouldn't you want to drizzle it over the coffee cake? ๐Ÿ™‚
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    Total Time
    1 hr
    Total Time
    1 hr
    Ingredients
    1. 1 tablespoon sugar
    2. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    3. 3 eggs
    4. 2 cups sugar
    5. 3/4 cup butter, softened
    6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
    7. 2 cups flour
    8. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    9. 1/4 teaspoon cloves
    10. zest of one orange
    11. 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
    12. Glaze: (Optional)
    13. 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    14. 1 tablespoon milk
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Grease and flour spring release pan or a 9X13 baking pan
    3. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon and set aside (this will be sprinkled over the cranberries).
    4. Using a mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.(since eggs are the leavening, beat them really well, about 5-6 minutes)
    5. Add in butter and vanilla, mix well
    6. Stir in flour, nutmeg, cloves, and orange zest, batter will be thick.
    7. Spoon half of the batter into the cake pan ( I used a 8 1/2 inch cake pan with spring loaded side release)
    8. Place cranberries evenly on top of the cake batter
    9. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the cranberries
    10. Spoon the rest of the batter over the cranberries
    11. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
    12. Remove to a wire rack to cool, gently using a knife to loosen cake from the bottom and sides of the pan, or use your quick release
    13. Allow cake to cool completely
    Glaze
    1. Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk
    2. Microwave for about 30 seconds
    3. Drizzle over the cake before serving.
    4. Note: heating the glaze mixture gives a crunchy glaze that is so good. The glaze can be as thin or thick as you like. I like thicker glaze but a healthier glaze would be a thinner one. It is up to you! I have made the glaze much like a doughnut glaze...thinner and it adheres because of the heating in the microwave. Drizzle away! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Notes
    1. Check after about 30 minutes, and cover with foil if cake is browning too much. The wonderful smells of spices and oranges fill the kitchen making one more than ready to sample this wonderful coffee cake.
    2. I have made this same coffee cake recipe with blueberries and even peaches! The texture is more like a cobbler when using fruits such as peaches...Still yummy!
    Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

 

Tuna Salad Dip

This deviates from the usual sandwich type tuna salad. It can be used in a sandwich, but it is meant as a dip for crackers or scoop type chips.

This is a great mustard/mayo based appetizer.  

 

Tuna Salad Dip
Serve on lettuce with scooping crackers making a pretty presentation.
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Total Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. Three 6-ounce cans white meat tuna packed in water, drained
  2. 3 tablespoons minced celery
  3. 1/2 small red onion finely chopped
  4. 1 teaspoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  5. 3/4 cup prepared Miracle Whip (or mayonnaise)
  6. 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  7. Freshly ground black pepper
  8. Freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a small mixing bowl break up the tuna with a fork.
  2. Toss with the celery, onion, and parsley.
  3. Add the Miracle Whip (or mayonnaise) and mustard
  4. Season with pepper, to taste.
  5. Stir and add lemon juice, to taste, if desired.
Notes
  1. This is used as a dip for crackers or scoop type chips. It is great as an appetizer or late night snack.
  2. Sweet pickle relish can be added if desired. This tuna salad will be a little loose which aids in dipping.
Adapted from Kari
Adapted from Kari
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Succotash

Just what is succotash?  Actually it is leftover veggies, that is how my Mother explained to me! ๐Ÿ™‚

It always includes corn and lima beans….and other veggies. I have added a few fresh spices and red bell pepper and onion,  but my Mother never did.  She just mixed the vegetables and served.  If we had company, she would open up a can or two of whatever vegetable she had on hand and it stretched the dish to serve more people.

If you have not eaten succotash, you must try it.  Very good! You can use fresh corn on the cob, peas or green beans. Really tasty!

 Me

Succotash
A delicious mix of vegetables, consisting of corn, lima beans and whatever vegetables you would like to add..
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup olive oil
  2. 3 tablespoons butter
  3. 2 cloves minced garlic
  4. 1 medium onion, diced
  5. 2 medium red bell peppers, diced
  6. 2 medium zucchini,diced
  7. 2 ten-ounce packages frozen lima beans (or you can use canned, drained),
  8. 3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (or you can use canned, drained)
  9. Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  10. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (optional)
  11. 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and onion; cook until tender ( about 3-4 minutes).
  3. Add bell peppers, zucchini, lima beans, and corn.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in herbs, and serve.
Notes
  1. If you don't care for zucchini, you can substitute green beans. Actually, you can use whatever vegetables you would like...succotash is a mixture of veggies with corn and lima beans being the star!
Adapted from Kari
Adapted from Kari
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Breaded Tomatoes

 My Grandmother loved Tomatoes and I used to help her can all her veggies from the garden. I was so glad for the experience as I turned to canning after I got married.  Grandma made her breaded tomatoes with a bit of sugar and I found out when I started making them…the sugar is necessary for the acidity of the tomatoes.

I hope you like this side dish…

Me 

Grandma's Breaded Tomatoes
While growing up in the Midwest, this was on my Grandmother's table often. It is a quick and easy recipe using canned tomatoes and makes a great side dish.
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Total Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 (28 ounce) can chunky peeled tomatoes, with liquid
  2. 3 slices stale bread, torn into pieces
  3. 2/3 cup white sugar
  4. 1 pinch salt
  5. 1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a heavy sauce pan, combine the tomatoes, bread, sugar, salt and pepper.
  2. Cook until heated through and the bread has absorbed the tomato juice.(about 20 minutes)
  3. Do not eliminate the sugar as it takes away the acid of the tomatoes and simply makes the taste great!.
Notes
  1. In the days of my Grandma...nothing was wasted and if one had stale bread, it was used for stuffings, bread puddings, and Breaded tomatoes! Nothing went to waste!
Adapted from Kari
Adapted from Kari
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Tomato Gravy

This recipe was another recipe of my Grandmothers…she really loved tomatoes and she liked to include them in a lot of her recipes.  She told me once that this recipe came from her part of the family in the Southern United States…not sure exactly where, but I believe around Georgia. 

Grandma taught me to can vegetables from the garden and so we used to “put up” lots of mason jars filled with wonderful tomatoes that tasted just as fresh as the day we picked them  from the vines.

Try this Tomato Gravy and see what you think!

Me

Tomato Gravy
Serves 12
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound of bacon
  2. 1 teaspoon butter
  3. 2 tablespoons flour
  4. 2 cans diced tomatoes (28 ounce cans)
  5. 2 teaspoons salt
  6. 4 teaspoons ground black pepper
  7. 1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk if you do not have cream)
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon in a heavy skillet over medium (10 minutes)
  2. Remove the bacon to a piece of paper towel to drain.
  3. Add the butter to the bacon drippings.
  4. Stir in the flour and scraping the bits of bacon off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon
  5. Cook until beginning to thicken, about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir the tomatoes into the mixture
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add the cream (or milk) and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes or until the desired thickness.
Notes
  1. We always had beef, chickens and pork in our freezers growing up in the midwest and we always had fresh eggs and cream on the farm....so these ingredients were readily available. This recipe might sound strange to you, but try the tomato gravy over biscuits at breakfast OR try the tomato gravy over mashed potatoes for dinner. Either way this recipe is a winner.
  2. Thanks Grandma!
Adapted from Kari
Adapted from Kari
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Vera’s Spanish Rice

Vera is my Sister-in-Law,  and she lives in New Mexico where Spanish Rice is as common on the every day table as Pinto Beans!

As I have mentioned in previous posts…Vera, makes the best Mexican Food I have ever tasted.  She makes her dishes with a love of food and it shows in her cooking.

Below is her recipe for Spanish Rice….and as with most great cooks…they don’t measure something they have been making for years with recipes handed down generation after generation…I have had to “modify” this recipe a bit.  Forgive me Sis…if I have altered your recipe in the wrong direction.  ๐Ÿ™‚

I have taken liberties and tried adding a salsa instead of the tomatoes…that is good too.  I have also used the Rotel tomatoes and green chiles….and that is good too.

Our family likes the original Spanish Rice recipe (printable below) and I hope you like it.

Me

Spanish Rice
A simple Spanish rice recipe that is nice and fluffy and delicious! But don't peek at the rice too soon.....
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of uncooked white rice
  2. 1 teaspoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  3. 1 can of tomotoes (diced)
  4. 1 small chopped onion
  5. 1/2 medium sized green bell pepper (chopped)
  6. 1 clove minced garlic
  7. 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon comino (or cumin)
  9. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Brown the uncooked rice in heavy skillet in small amount of oil....(Vera doesn't use oil...but she stirs constantly until the rice is lightly browned.)
  2. Add the chopped onion, garlic and bell pepper and keep stirring until slightly tender.
  3. Add the tomatoes, comino, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  4. When the rice mixture begins to boil, cover the skillet and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Cook 12 to 15 minutes and do not remove the lid for the full 15 minutes.
  6. After the 15 minute period, turn stove off and let the covered skillet stand for another 12-15 minutes.
  7. DO NOT remove cover until after the final 15 minutes has elapsed or you may end up with wet mush!
  8. Serve and Enjoy!
  9. Cooking times vary, but I find that about 30 minutes total cooking time gives me the dry, fluffy rice I am looking for.
Notes
  1. I have to share something funny regarding this recipe.
Years ago, when I asked my Sister-in-law how long to cook the Spanish rice....here was her answer
  1. "a good long while"
  2. I actually have that written on the recipe card....
  3. I love you Sis....;)
Adapted from Kari
Adapted from Kari
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Creamed New Potatoes and Fresh Peas

We had a garden and we planted potatoes on St. Patricks Day! I couldn’t wait til we dug in the fresh dirt and little globes of potato splendor were soon clutched in our hands.  (The fresh smell of rich soil is a smell I still love).  Add that to fresh peas and we had a feast! The potatoes not the dirt! ๐Ÿ™‚

The following is a printable recipe….I hope you enjoy! 

Creamed New Potatoes and Fresh Peas
Serves 12
Fresh from the garden or off the shelf in the store...a good comfort food side dish.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds of New garden potatoes or red bliss potatoes
  2. 3 cups fresh or frozen peas
  3. 1 tablespoon minced onion (optional)
  4. 2 tablespoons butter
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  6. 3 tablespoons flour
  7. 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  9. 2 cups milk
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-12 minutes or until tender, drain, leaving about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of liquid in the pot.
  3. Add peas, sugar and onion and bring up to a boil and reduce heat and cover.
  4. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until tender.
  5. Add milk to the peas and potatoes
  6. Mix the flour with a little water to form a paste about the consistency of heavy cream and add to the potato/pea mixture
  7. Cook on medium heat, stirring until thickened.
Notes
  1. This recipe was a staple at our home growing up. It was quick and easy and we looked forward to this dish when the spring potatoes were dug in the garden...But it is good all year long. Do not overcook the peas....the sugar brings out the sweetness in fresh peas! Yummy!
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/
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