Post #671 End of the Harvest

September 15, 2019 at 3:36 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

So middle of September.  In my family that always meant my little brother’s birthday was just a few days away.  But for agrarian type folks, it means the end of the harvest.  Around here, because the planting started late, and the summer was so fine, it means no one really knows exactly when the last harvest will be except soon.  The nights have gotten pretty chill, and we’ve stopped using a/c during the day.  One day last week, we considered putting the furnace on because we were both cold.  We didn’t, and when we got up the next day, the warmth had returned.  That’s the odd thing about weather; you just can’t predict it, or rely on it.  Even the harvest fairs are slowing down.  For a while, there were three or four every weekend and you either tried to go to all of them see very little of each, or you picked one and saw the whole thing in a day.  But now, if there’s one on a weekend, you’re surprised.

You recall all the plants and herbs and veggies we had growing in containers on the porch and around the porch?  Well, it’s time to start deciding their fate.  Last weekend, I got rid of the tomatillos.  Partly because they were only doing okay, not thriving; and partly because our inexperience did not tell us if what we were able to get off the plant was actually a usable product.  Ours did not look like what we got in the markets.  This weekend, I got rid of everything else.  I cut back my peppermint completely about mid-week, and by this weekend it was starting to grow back!  The cherry tomatoes started to die back despite the watering and sunshine, and the tomatoes themselves were small and split.  So those went away today.  The plum tomatoes gave up a ton of green tomatoes, but none of them ever ripened properly.  They turned orange, but never turned red.  So they went away today.  However, that took nearly a half hour!  The way I had planted that one, I put in a corner near the yellow/red rose bush.  That rose bush also had Morning Glories in the pot to grow up the porch railing.  The rose did well, the Morning Glories did okay although they never blossomed (they went away today, too), but the plum tomatoes never really thrived.  At first.  Then, suddenly out of nowhere, they turned into the vine-like plant they are touted to be and took over that entire corner of the porch.  The guy who cuts our grass only ever touched that area sparingly because he didn’t want to hurt anything growing there despite us telling him not to worry about it, so the grass and weeds were tall and rangy too.  Those tomatoes were everywhere!  There had to be four dozen on that one plant alone, and the tendrils of the vine were seven to eight feet long.  And still not a ripe tomato anywhere, even though the plant itself was going into hibernation mode.  Maybe if I’d left it alone for another couple of weeks it would have exploded with ripe fruit the same way the cherry tomatoes did, but by the time I thought that might be an option, it was too late since the clippers had already done their work.

If I was a farmer, all these plants would have been plowed under to provide nourishment for the soil.  Mine just went into the trash bin.  Soon we’re going to have to start composting.  State Law.  But that’s for another day.

We had also talked about which plants we wanted to winter over in the house.  We have a jasmine plant that’s started doing well so that’s being wintered inside.  We also have a gardenia that someone in Rhode Island gave us that’s been doing so well we want to keep it going so inside for that one.  Partner/Spouse bought a plumeria which started liking what was going on so we’re keeping that one going inside.  But I got rid of all the bachelor buttons, and sweet pea.  The buttons did great, but it was end of their life span.  They’ll be back on their own, but I can always get more seeds if I want.  The sweet pea is going to the back yard next year.  I’ve got plans for a veggie garden back there.  I also got rid of the unidentified plants next to the steps.  The herbs also went to the trash bin.  We had plans at the beginning of summer to harvest the herbs as they matured, but the bees kept feeding from the blossoms and since they needed it more than we did, we left the herbs to them.  But the bees are going to sleep, so the herbs went to the trash.

All this left the porch looking naked.  So we got some Autumn plants.  We got mums.

Fall colors and everything!  They were just replanted this afternoon, so they’ll start thriving and looking good soon.  And I salvaged one other plant that we’ve liked for a long time.  This is one that we were introduced to by my sister in Tucson.  It’s called Strawberry Fields.  It’s like a red thistle.  When there are a lot of them, they can be breathtaking.  The blossoms look a little like strawberries, so there’s the name.

We’ve got just the one pot of them, but neighbors walking by keep commenting on how pretty they are.  They like sun and water and are self-seeding.  So next year, I’m going to mix them with the bachelor buttons and see what happens.

Before I got into the farmer zone, though, we both got into the harvest mode.  Partner/Spouse has been dabbling with canning and preserves.  He made some amazing cold-packed pickles about a month ago and has been itching to try something else.  Apples are in season right now and that gave him the idea to make his grandmother’s apple butter.  So we went to one of the local orchards and bought apple stuff.

We got apple cider.  We got apple donuts.  We got four varieties of apples.  We got a bagful of apples to make apple butter.  We got two pears!  We got a two quart jar of cherry pie filling (which I’m going to eat not in a pie!)  We even talked to an old gent for a couple of minutes who was the farm’s very first customer ever (11 years ago).  There were little kids trying to pick apples from a tree.  There were bigger kids getting “lost” in a corn maze.  There was a middle-aged woman running from a large house across the road (dirt, of course) with bags of freshly made apple donuts.  It was quite a scene, and just what we expected.  It was a bit of a drive from our place, but completely enjoyable throughout.  Then we stopped at a hardware store to get an apple peeler/corer.  He couldn’t get it to work right, so he did it by hand.

I also got an apple cookbook because, well, I’m me and we had apples!

We each ate an apple as we were driving away from the farm.  If you’ve never had an apple picked right off the tree and still chilled from the overnight air, you’re missing one of life’s pleasures.  It was delicious.

The cookbook reminded me of one flavor combination that I’d forgotten about – apples and onions.  Pork and apples is a match made in culinary paradise.  Who hasn’t liked pork chops and apple sauce?  But I used to make pork loin with fried apples and onions.  It’s so easy.

Bake a pork loin in your favorite manner but in an open pan.  When the pork is done and still juicy, set it aside covered, and put the pan on the stove top on medium-low heat.  Add a little water or stock to the pan to loosen the brown bits  in the pan.  While that is heating, core an apple and slice into wedges and set aside.  Next, peel and slice an onion thinly.  When the pan is ready and all brown bits are loosened, add the onion and stir.  Cook the onion until softened and brown.  Do not add any more liquid to the pan, but add the apples.  Toss and coat the apples with the onions and cook until the apples just start to get soft.  Do not allow them to get mushy.  Take off the heat, but do not cover (that will make the apples mushy.)  Slice the pork onto a serving plate and spoon the onion and apple mixture over the pork.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I’ll let you know how the apple butter turns out and what we do with the rest of the apples.  I’m thinking of drying some of them into apple chips.

What would you do with a bunch of apples sitting around?  Feel free to share the post far and wide.

As always,

 

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Post #670 The Mexican Grilled Cheese

September 11, 2019 at 8:29 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

When I was growing up in the Arizona desert, I did the “normal” stint in my teens of working at the local fast food places.  I started at the one with the arches, but after a year and a half I moved on to a regional place specializing in Mexican food.  I really liked working there, though I didn’t stay very long.  I learned to make a lot of Mexican foods in bulk from scratch.  I learned to make refried beans by the gallon and learned to use a pressure cooker in the process.  I learned to make corn tortillas from scratch, and to use those to make deep fried taco shells, which I still make today although in a modified technique.  I learned to make salsa in many formats, and I learned to make quesadillas.

Everyone who grew up in my town takes a moment to sigh a little when you say “quesadilla.”  Eye lids go to half mast as you recall the last one you ate.  Quesadillas are a comfort food beyond compare.  Utter simplicity in ingredients and execution.  But so good and so satisfying.  I’ve written about them before, but they bear repeating.

Quesadillas, in my mind, followed the same progression as nachos.  From my experience, nachos started as an innocuous snack that turned into an appetizer, but as they gained popularity turned into Supremes and Grandes and eventually an entire meal.  Quesadillas haven’t had quite the same popularity, but did follow that progression.  I first knew them as a vary simply snack at a Mexican restaurant, but then grew more complex and became an appetizer.  As the public demanded more from them, they “grew up” and turned into a main course as a meal unto themselves.

When I started making and eating them, they were very simple.  We took a large flour tortilla and put it on the low side of the grill.  I spread a very thin layer of green salsa for some kick, and added a thick layer of sharp cheddar cheese.  When the cheese had started to melt a little, the top half of the tortillas was folded over the bottom half creating a half-circle.  That sat on the grill for about a minute, then flipped with a spatula (or your fingers if you were very daring; I wasn’t) and cooked on the other side for a minute or so.  By the time it was done, you had a toasty flour shell filled with melted cheese and peppers.  This was cut into four wedges, put on a plate, served hot with a cup of salsa for dipping.

So you can see the similarity to a grilled cheese sandwich, can’t you?

It was a simple snack and people gobbled them up like crazy.  Including me and my family and our friends and nearly everybody we knew.  Even the northern tourists ate them up, although most never quite got the hang of the pronunciation.  Kay-Suh-Dee-Yuh.

Then, they grew up and became an appetizer.  I was in a TGIFriday’s back in the 90s and noticed a quesadilla on the menu.  I read through the description.  It was still my hometown favorite, but they added meat to it!  What a novel idea!!  Spicy grilled chicken or steak or pork!  Whoda thunk it?  Of course, I ordered it, and didn’t like it.  The cheese they used was waxy and tasteless although it melted pretty well.

That’s the key to anything you make that’s simple in concept and execution.  The ingredients have to be high quality.  Make a note of that kids, cuz it will serve your culinary efforts well the rest of your lives.

But I went home and started my own experiments and came up with a really tasty combo of salsa, chicken/steak, tomatoes, onion, and cheese.  It was large and lumpy, hard to cut into equal wedges, but delicious.

The next time I truly noticed my by-now-proprietary snack was here in Vermont, of all places.  We have a local pizza/sub shop nearby that delivers.  It’s about the only thing that delivers to us.  They have decent food; it arrives hot; and some of the time they get the order correct.  Most of the time they don’t.  So I try not to order anything too complicated.  Usually a sandwich or a cheese pizza.  The couple of times I’ve added fries to it, or a piece of cake, it never showed up.   Partner/Spouse can’t count the number of  pieces of carrot cake they owe him.  Probably a whole cake by now.  But they do have a quesadilla on the menu.  You can have it filled with various things, some of them local.  It took me a few months to be brave enough to try it, but it turned out to be very good.  Loads of cheese, a crispy-ish flour tortilla (not as crispy as I like but it had steamed in the wrap on the way to the house), and a half pound of shaved steak.  It was like a Philly cheese steak in a tortilla.  It even had mushrooms.

Which led me to another variation of the quesadilla.  It’s sort of like a fusion.  Take a cheese-filled dish of any kind and grill it between two flour tortillas.  I’ve seen or heard of shrimp scampi quesadilla.  The Philly cheese steak I just told you about.  I know of someone who likes hot dogs and cheese and toppings rolled in flour tortillas and grilled.

When I was a kid, quesadillas were folded.  Now, I use two large flour tortillas and place one on top of the cheese-covered one once the cheese has melted a little so they stick together.  They hold so much more that way.

The process is easy.  Heat a skillet large enough to hold whatever size flour tortilla you’re using.  It’s gotta be flour because they toast up better than corn tortillas.  Don’t get the skillet too hot, and don’t use any oil or sprays in it.  Partner/Spouse uses butter to toast his quesadillas, but I don’t.  While the skillet is heating, get your fillings ready.  Here’s where you can go to town.  Use whatever fillings you like, but make sure to bind it all together with cheese.  Use whatever is your favorite cheese, but make sure it’s a melty type of cheese.  Go nuts with it.  Try Brie, or Gruyere, or Povolone, or American.  Mix it up and and use more than one kind.  Use a cream cheese spread.  Just don’t use a cheese spread designed to be a dip.  It will turn to liquid and ruin your quesadilla.

Once the cheese(s) have been selected, prepare the veggies and meats if you’re going to use them.  Leftover meats are excellent for this, but you can use fresh cooked, too.  Grilled meats are excellent.  We tend to use spicy meats and veggies because that’s our favorite flavor pallette, but use whatever you like.

When everything is ready, put one tortilla in the pan and spread the cheese(s) and fillings as thickly over the top as you like.  Watch the cheese carefully and when it starts to melt into the filling, set the other tortilla on top and press lightly.  Judging carefully when the cheese is fully melted, use a large spatula to flip the quesadilla over.  The top quesadilla should be a deep brown and crispy toasty.  Let the bottom tortilla reach the same level of browness (is that a word?) which should take about a minute or two.  Set the quesadilla on a flat surface and use a large knife or a pizza cutter to cut into several equal wedges.  Serve hot with a dip if you like.

Quesadillas are pure comfort foods.  What are some of your favorite comfort foods and how do you shake them up to keep them new?

As always,

 

 

 

Post #669 The Big Adult Question

September 8, 2019 at 11:56 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I just recently had the “pleasure” of batching it one night.  Partner/Spouse was out of town on a business trip overnight.  I worked my normal shift, off at 5:30.  Throughout the day, that adult question languished in the back of my mind.  Everyone knows that question.

“What the heck do I make for dinner tonight?”

The possibilities were endless.  I had leftovers I could repurpose into something.  I could thaw something quickly, or I could cook something from its frozen state into a delectable dinner.  I could stop at the store on the way home and grab something.  I could even be a bad boy and stop for a pile of bad-for-me burgers and fries.

So, by the end of the day, I was tired and the thought of stopping at the grocery store was daunting.  So, X that option out.  What did I feel like eating?  I seriously considered PBJs and chips.  Add Kool-aid to that and I’d be 9 years old again.  I do that all the time.  But not tonight.  Didn’t feel like it.  Besides, there were other things I wanted to get done that evening.  I had a load of towels to go into the dryer, and I wanted to wash a load of t-shirts and get them dried before bed time.  And I wanted to get the kitchen straightened up so the health board wouldn’t fine us, and the neighbors wouldn’t look at us in disdain.  And I wanted at least a half hour of front porch sitting time with a glass of wine.

It’s the same old problem that faces everyone who cooks, and it faces us every single day.  Most of the time we have to take other people into account and try to guess what they might want.  It gets old.  I’m lucky because Partner/Spouse is an active participant in the decision process, and he likes to cook too, so many times when he suggests something, he cooks it.  And when either of us are tired, the other steps in and cooks.

Or we order delivery.  But even that gets old sometimes.

So, I’m driving home and I decided to take “the long way” home which really only adds about five minutes to a six minute drive.  But it goes passed all the shops and restaurants and some beautiful old houses.  It skirts a stream/river and some old wild undergrowth.  It’s a nice pleasant drive.  The weather was spectacular, the car was humming, the windows were all rolled down.  Even my hair was blowing in the wind.  The tired feeling from work was relaxing away from me.  The crisp fresh air blowing around me felt as clean as a shower.

When I got home, there were six ripe cherry tomatoes waiting for me!  I walked in and greeted Buddy.  What a character.

I put the towels in the dryer, then set up the washing machine for the load I was bringing down.  I set the oven to 350 because I suddenly realized what I was cooking for my dinner.

You know, I’ve noticed recently that a vast amount of money is spent by manufacturers trying to help us answer that adult question, and coincidentally, sell us their product.  “I feel like chicken tonight!” “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner!”  “Pork, the other white meat!”  “Mmm mmm good, that’s Cambell’s soup!”  “Starkist tuna is chicken of the sea!”  Even Spam is trying to convince us that it’s great for tacos these days.  One hint:  It’s not.

And those are just from a cursory, mild check of the memory banks, no real effort put into it.

I went upstairs with the dog following me slowly, begging for attention.  I changed clothes, made sure fans were on and windows open to bring the cool air into the house, and played with Buddy for a few moments before going downstairs with the shirts I wanted to wash.

I threw them in while the dog waited patiently to go out.  He hadn’t peed for several hours and was crossing his legs in desperation. I washed my hands, grinned at the dog who was looking at me with dire need and got his harness and leash on.

He raced to bottom of the porch steps into the grass and didn’t even lift his leg.  He squatted like a little girl dog and peed for about six minutes straight with the look of unbelievable relief plastered on his face.  Dogs can be so expressive.  Then we walked for several minutes around the wildflowers while he took care of other business and I enjoyed the sun beating on me, and the breeze blowing passed me, and neighborhood noises.  I could even hear the creek a block and a half away.

Back at the house, I put the dog’s dinner together and turned to what I needed to do.  Big mistake because he refused to eat because he thought I was getting something more interesting than the dog food in his bowl.  So I went to the living room and turned on the music channel and the computer, in that order.  By that time, he’d finished scarfing his food, cleaned his bowl and the floor around it (he’s a messy eater), and investigated the rest of the kitchen for anything dropped, then joined me with a large resounding burp.  He’s the soul of a trucker.

So now the question is answered.  What to make for dinner?   I took out a piece of chicken from the freezer and set it aside.  When we shop, we look for deals on large packages of meats and split them up into separate two-person sized portions.  It keeps costs down for us.  We found some large chicken breasts recently and when I split them up, there was one sitting by itself.  I wrapped it up thinking I’d use it to make soup, or add to rice, or something.  The something was a single meal for me.

I coated the chicken with a tablespoon of olive oil and my hands.  That sucker was cold!  Then I sprinkled coarse salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder over it, and put it on a foil covered baking tray.  I figured and hour at 350 would get it done.  While that was cooking, I took time to clean the kitchen up, and put the dry towels away.  Then I took my Chromebook along with a glass of wine to the front porch.  The door was open so I could hear the music and anything else that was going on in the house.

While the chicken was cooking, I had to think about what other side dishes to go with the main protein.  And there were a ton of things I could have.  I tend to be old fashioned and think in terms of protein-starch-vegetable.  Well, vegetable was taken care of with the tomatoes I pulled from the plant when I got home.  A little salt on them and they’d be fine.  Just like candy!  So what starch would I be having?  I could have some pasta with butter and cheese.  Or I could have rice (and we all know how I feel about rice!)  Or I could have potatoes.  And I thought, ooooh, potatoes!  We have those mashed potato mixes that are as simple as boiling water.  We have frozen tater tots, but I didn’t really want to stand at the stove for the time it would take to fix them.  Then I remembered we have frozen potato hash brown patties.  That’s the one!

After an hour, the wine was done, the breeze had turned a little cooler than I liked, and it was time to dry the dishes and put them away.  I checked the internal temp on the chicken and it was spot on.  The skin was crispy and blackend with the seasonings, so it came out to cool off.  I set a small skillet to heating some oil, just enough for two potato patties.  While that was heating, I cut each tomato in half and sprinkled with a bare pinch of salt.  Then, to add a little more veggie, and make things interesting, I fished out some home made pickle chips and set with the tomatoes.  When the oil was ready, the potatoes were cooked.

Let me tell you, that all was so good!  I got dinner ready, and all the tasks I wanted to get done were completed.  Just as I sat down to eat, my phone went off.  Partner/Spouse was calling to tell me about his fun day.  I put him off so I could eat, but called him back within a half hour.  He’d had a great day, too.

All in all, it was a good bachelor evening, and I remembered when I had been a true bachelor after the divorce and it was just me and Sporty, my dog at the time.  I ate a lot of tacos, pork chops, and PBJs.  Oh, and grilled cheese, too.  This night was much better because there was something to look forward to.

So, how do solve the riddle of “What to make for dinner?”  Is it planned, or is it whatever is on hand, or is it making a phone call for delivery?  Let us all know!  Feel free to share the post far and wide if you want to.

As always,

 

 

Post #668 How Many Fun-Filled Weekends Are Too Many?

September 1, 2019 at 3:29 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Well, so far, it’s not a whole summer’s worth.  I know I’ve said this before, and I’ll likely end up saying it again.  We had a great weekend, and it’s still not over.  It started about two and a half weeks ago when I asked my supervisor if I could take Friday off.  She approved it and I worked extra hours during the week to make up the time and get all my work for the day off done ahead of time.  Of course, it didn’t end without the drama, but that’s a different story for a different forum.  Suffice to say, I got the time off, and the work got done.

So Friday morning, we got our new state licenses.  It was fun.  Yeah.  We got there about 20 minutes before opening and sat down at the table, being the only people there.  A few minutes later, a lady about our age came in and smiled and sat with us, asking if we were there for DMV.  We invited her to join us and made small talk.  About ten minutes before the office opened, the front door opened and about two dozen roughnecks walked in and stood in front of the door waiting for it to open.  I thought to myself, “Oh, hell, no!”  So I stood up and motioned to the other two (lady friend included) and walked to the front of the line that we had started and parked myself.  I glared a dare at the interlopers but no one challenged us or said anything.  We were successful.  I was the first number issued; Partner/Spouse was the second; new lady friend was the third.  After that, I paid no attention.  I was called first, and finished with my new license about fifteen minutes later.  There’s some wisdom to “God helps those who help themselves.”

After that, it was hair cut time.  I hate the process of getting my hair cut in this state.  I’ve found one place where it’s walk-ins only.  And it’s a nice place and the guy does a good job.  It’s just always busy.  My shortest wait has been twenty minutes.  No other place in this state have I found that is walk-in friendly.  And it usually shoots my blood pressure through the roof trying to work it out.  So this time, Partner/Spouse made me do the internet sign in and when I got there, I sat right down.  Of course, if I’d been a walk-in, it would have been the same since the place was empty.  We’d stopped for breakfast at a small bakery where we each got a ham and cheese croissant using locally sourced ingredients.  Very good.  There was a hair cutting place a door or two down from it so I stopped in to see about a hair cut.  They had nothing available that day.  The earliest they could accommodate me was Monday.  There were no customers in the shop at all.  And from the stylist’s conversation, it didn’t sound like anyone was coming in immediately.  My seven minute hair cut would not have put anyone’s nose out of joint.  But I said no thank you, went somewhere else, bowed to the new convention (which pisses me off) and got my hair cut.

Then we shopped mindlessly waiting for an airplane to arrive.  Then something absolutely unheard of occurred.  The plane was a half-hour early!!  How does that happen?  And my ex-wife was here.  My best friend, a confidante, a fun person to be with.  We haven’t seen her since we left Maryland, so it’s been about three years.  When we got to the car, I gave her a chocolate macaroon since I figured she’d be hungry from the flight.  And once we got home, we took her to our favorite diner, Wayside.

If you say Wayside to anyone in this area, their eyes are going to half close and their lips are going to smile.  I haven’t yet met the person who doesn’t like Wayside.  So far, everything they’ve served us has been good.  Friday was no exception.  This was the place where I first had maple sausage that I liked.  This was the place that I first ate fiddle head ferns.  This is the place we direct everyone when they want to know where to eat.  It’s been around for just about a hundred years (no exaggeration) and they’ve been good for all those years.  We ate so much that we didn’t want to eat the dinner I planned so we ordered chinese when the time came.  But long before that time came, we did our first bout of front porch sitting.

The weather was perfect; the wine was perfect; the bloody mary was perfect; the company was perfect; the music was perfect.  I love sitting on the front porch watching the world go by.

Saturday we got up and went to the state capital for our favorite farmer’s market.  First we had breakfast at our second favorite diner, which is actually the first diner we ate at when we first started interviewing here.  It’s called Down Home and has the best orange juice I’ve ever had.  I had a BLT, Partner/Spouse had eggs, and she had eggs benedict with a fried green tomato and applewood bacon.  I tend to shy away from anything too complicated at someplace I don’t know very well, but she raved over these things.  In most places when you order eggs benedict, you get a poached egg on top of canadian bacon and an English muffin covered in hollandaise sauce.  This place takes the plural literally.  She got two poached eggs on separate english muffins with the fried green tomatoes in between each and bacon sitting just ‘neath the eggs.  The whole thing was slathered with half a quart of hollandaise.   It came with a small bowl of boiled collard greens which I haven’t had in a long time so I had some.  Just right.

After that, we shopped the farmer’s market for our weekly fresh veggies, etc.  This time of year things are cheap and plentiful.  I went through my first harvest of cherry tomatoes pretty quickly since I was just grabbing them as I left the house for work.  We got a ton of stuff since we planned to have appetizers for dinner while doing our front porch sitting.

Then came the star of the day.  We went to a craft show.  It’s supposed to be the biggest craft show in the area.  There were about a hundred or so crafters with booths.  We didn’t buy too much, just wanting to see what was available.  Oddly, we didn’t buy any foodstuffs.  That’s unusual for us.  We got a few ceramic dishes, and a “new” salad tong that’s a one handed device.  Then we found a sheepskin slipper with the soft bottom sole rather than the plastic one.  And they weren’t expensive.  But the style we wanted weren’t available in men’s sizes and the largest woman’s size was woefully too small for our feet.  Even their website didn’t have it.  The guy apologized and said he was beginning to rethink that decision since we were the third customer that day to say that to him.  We’re on the mailing list so if he does come up with a new product, we’ll hear about it.  He’s local, too, so that’s a plus.  But we went to a different company that’s also local and has what we wanted in our size for a slightly higher prices (really only a couple of dollars and no shipping since we’re in the state) so we’ll get our leather slippers with sheep’s fur inside soon.  The crafts were very nice to see.  We’ll be going to more of these as the days go by.  It’s the harvest time and these fairs and festivals will be coming thick and furious until the snow falls.

When we got home, we were all tired.  Lag from the previous day, and the walking and walking and walking we’d done that day caught up to all of us, and we’re all in our 60s now.  Once our butts hit the chairs, we were gone.  We ordered a pizza for lunch then the other two crashed while I worked on the computer.  Dinner was the tacos we should have had the night before.  No front porch sitting, but binge watching some of our favorite shows with the doors and windows open until it got too chilly to stand (seriously, too chilly) then off to bed early-ish.

Today . . . today is the day that made moving to Vermont exactly what we dreamed of.  Partner/Spouse and I got up late-for-us but early for the rest of the world, about 6:30.   Ex-wife didn’t walk downstairs till almost 9.  So, off to Wayside because we had a plan.  Sundays is their Eggs Benedict special and she wanted to compare.  There was a line out the door but it moved quickly.  Several times people leaving told us it was worth waiting.  Several people would come in and ask if this was the line to sign the list and left when we explained it was the line to get in.  We got in under ten minutes so I can’t imagine anyone was too upset.  I was contrary and ordered a burger and fries.  Ex-wife got the eggs benedict and Partner/Spouse got hash and eggs over easy with a side of maple sausage.  They make the best maple sausage.  The maple flavor is subtle rather than overpowering so it enhances the flavor of the pork instead of killing it.

After breakfast, we went to one of our favorite spots, the Stone Circle in Marshfield.  I’ve asked people where this circle came from but no one seems to know.  Today we found out from signs on the covered bridge that it has something to do with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corp which also sponsors one of our favorite food drives, Veggie Van Go.  The walk to the covered bridge is easy and short.  The walk to the stone circle is more of a challenge.  On the way there, we passed a crabapple tree.  We saw this tree in early spring, the first time we came to the circle and I wondered if it was an apple tree.  Turns out I was right and the fruit was almost ripe.  I want to go back in about three weeks and check it out.  I love crabapples.  They’re small and tart and sweet and intensely apple flavored.

So now we’re back home, sitting on the front porch.  I’ve finished my second glass of wine, and she’s about ready for her second home made bloody mary.  Let me tell you about that.

She’s loved bloody mary’s for as long as I’ve known her.  She likes them strong and light.  She likes them plain and complex.  She likes them with garnish and without.  She likes them best cold, but will drink them warm.  Her favorite is when she can taste all the veggies in them.  So I got some very ripe tomatoes at the farmer’s market, as well as some cucumbers and scallions.

We have a Ninja brand mixer set.  That base is powerful, the second most powerful one they make.  Ours has six or seven attachments and can make a smoothie in no time flat.  So I decided to make home made bloody mary mix with fresh veggies.  I chopped two very ripe tomatoes and put it in the blender with four ice cubes and whizzed the hell out of it.  It has a very rosy appearance.  I scooped out the center of a lemon, pith and all and put it in there.  I also took about four inches of an English cucumber and chopped it up and put it in.  I whizzed all this together for several minutes until I couldn’t see any pieces of skin or pith or seed.  Then I added a touch of salt, and celery seed.  I whizzed and combined for a few more minutes to be certain it was liquified.  I put some ice in a glass and poured about a shot of apple vodka into it then added the mix until the glass was full to about a half inch from the top.  I used a fork to stir and mix the alcohol around, added a scallion for garnish and served it.  She pronounced it delicious.  Even from here I can smell the fresh veggies.  I took a sip and it’s the freshest vegetable juice I’ve ever tasted.  I love it when a plan comes together.

So tonight, we’re grilling super thick pork chops outdoors with wood chips.  That, with a garden salad and crusty bread and butter will be dinner.  The chops are marinating in a lemon herb sauce to get more flavor in them.  I’ve got some applesauce left from the cake I made a couple weeks ago so that will round everything out.

Early bed time tonight since she has an early flight.  Tomorrow will likely be low key and relaxing.  We’re predicted to have some rain so we didn’t plan anything outdoors.  I have some writing work to get done, but even “work” on a rainy day off is no chore.

So how’s everyone else’s weekend going?  I hope as well as mine.  Share what’s going on with you.  I love to hear it all.  And feel free to share this post far and wide!

As always,

Post #667 Lifetime Favorites

August 25, 2019 at 10:43 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

I don’t spend the bulk of my time thinking about food although it would seem that way given my blog and my hobbies.  I typically only think about food just about the time my stomach reminds me it’s time.  And then, just like most people, I’m thinking about what I want, what sounds good, what sounds easy, and what sounds quick.  I have a few stand bys that never fail to work for me.

PBJ:  Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I’ve been eating them for as long as I’ve been alive.  I’ve even taken them on backpacking trips lasting several days.  My mom believed that as long as we were eating PBJ and playing in the sun, all us kids were going to be okay.  When I was a kid, any jelly would do, but I would only eat creamy peanut butter, never crunchy.  Still will only ever eat creamy and it’s been over sixty years.  For a long time, I would only eat grape jam and it had to be ice cold.  Nowadays, I’ll branch out into other jams and use raspberry and blueberry.  I’m a wild man.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich:  There are so many variations on this theme, but it all boils down to cheese melted between pieces of toasted bread.  My ex-wife was a master at making these.  Recently, I was home from work not feeling well.  I nursed my symptoms for a few hours then decided it was time to eat something.  I went directly to grilled cheese cuz that’s what I wanted.  So good.  Hot toasty bread, hot melty cheese.  It’s good for what ails you.  Quesadillas are just grilled cheese using flour tortillas and some extra spiciness.  Bruschetta is just an open faced grilled cheese with tomatoes.  Heck, even fondue is another form of it.

Messy’s Bacon Egg and Cheese on a Croissant:  When we lived in Rhode Island, just down the road from us was a diner called Messy’s.  It wasn’t messy at all, and it had the most glorious food.  My total favorite was their breakfast sandwich, and it was the only thing I’d order.  They had tons of other things, but I didn’t care.  They’d see me coming and start making one immediately.  They sliced a fresh croissant lengthways and grill it in butter.  While it was grilling, they cooked an egg so the yolk was hard, but didn’t scramble it so the yolk and whites were separate.  A slice of cheese was melted on top and two large strips of bacon were added.  The whole thing was set inside the grilled croissant and served hot.  I’ve found a place here in Vermont that makes something similar.  It is so GOOD!

Texas de Brazil:  This is a chain restaurant specializing in Brazilian churrascaria.  It’s a dining experience not be missed, and since I’ve blogged about it before, I won’t go into extreme detail.  But the method of cooking results in the most flavorful meats I’ve ever had.  The various cuts are skewered on thin swords and crushed salt is ground into the meat.  It’s then leaned over an open flame so the outside sears.  Once that’s done, the meat is brought out and sliced at the diner’s plate until they reach the raw part and the process is repeated.  I’ve managed to come close to the same thing on a gas grill with steak and kosher salt.  If you ever have a chance to try authentic churrascaria, take it.  It can be pricey, but you’ll never forget it.  The two major chains in the US is Fogo de Chao and Texas de Brazil.

Poutine:  This is one of my new favorites, but it boils down to crispy French fries smothered in savory beef gravy and cheese.  It’s a Canadian dish, and I’m told it’s only authentic in Canada.  But the samples I’ve had here taste pretty damn good.

Tacos:  Nuff said, right?  One of my coworkers and her family have taken Taco Tuesday to an art form.  Tuesday night is always, always tacos.  Nothing else.  They invite friends over to stuff themselves with tacos.  Their fillings vary with whatever is on hand.  Last week was venison.  We have tacos at least once a week.  One time while in Virginia, I had tacos three times one day.  In Tucson, near the University, there was a chain restaurant called Los Betos whose rolled tacos, or taquitos, were amazing.  We’d buy three dozen and take them to parties.  Corn tortillas filled with spicy beef and rolled tightly pencil thin then crisp fried and lightly salted.  Dunk one end into salsa and bite.  So good.  I’m drooling now.

Bone in Pork Chops:  My mom used to buy the thin cut chops and fry them till they were leather.  I must have been in my twenties before I tasted how pork chops were supposed to be cooked.  Fried till done, but still juicy, lightly salted and that’s all.  No apple sauce, no pepper, just tender juicy pork flavor filling your mouth.  I’ve never said no to a pork chop.  Years ago, my ex-wife and I would go to dinner with her parents to their favorite place and they had pork chops on the menu.  Her mom and I would nearly always order that.  The first time we did, her mom got to the bone-gnawing part before I did and apologized as she picked it up and started tearing the meat of the bone with her teeth.  Before anyone could admonish her, I followed suit and said, “I’m right with you.”

Brownies:  I can throw a pan of brownies together in next to no time.  One time I was at a friend’s house and she didn’t have dessert to serve for a dinner she hosting that night.  I popped a pan of brownies into her oven before she could say anything.  They got rave reviews.  They’re so chocolatey, gooey, and good.  One of the easiest chocolate desserts to make, and one of the tastiest.

Plain Buttered Toast:  I love toast with a slather of butter on top.

Caramel Creams:  This is a candy I used to eat as a kid, and got reintroduced to just recently.  I don’t know if it’s a regional thing or not, but I haven’t seen this particular one for a long time.  Soft caramel shaped into a roll around a soft vanilla cream center (not a swirl like I’m used to seeing) then sliced thin and wrapped.  When you bite into it that burnt sugar caramel flavor with the sweet vanilla cream is over the moon.

Spaghetti:  What’s not to like about pasta, meat, and tomato sauce?  Throw some parmesan cheese on top and eat it.

Pizza:  Pizza is so good, and can be so healthy if you do it right.  But the crust has to be right, the sauce has to be right, the cheese has to be right, and the cooking method has to be right.  Or it can be spectacularly wrong.

Burgers:  Yeah, I’m a sucker for a ground beef patty that’s been fried till done.  I like them in about a zillion different ways.  Maybe I’ll blog about ’em soon.

So, that’s my trip down memory lane and sharing my total favorites and stand bys with you.  What are yours?  Feel free to share the post far and wide.

As always,

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