Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Places I have been and not...Dream Vacation

Places I have been (and not) I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots.
Apparently, you can't go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

And, sometimes I think I am in Vincible but life shows me I am not!

I have been in Deepshit many times. The older I get, the easier it is to get there.

We have a big anniversary coming up in August.  Fred and I have discussed where we would like to go and it looks like a cruise would be in order.  He wants to go to Jamaica.  I would like to go to Belize and Cozumel.  Figures we wouldn't agree on this milestone vacation either.

Where would you go?

Or would you go to an all-inclusive vacation packages at Sandals Resort?

Or for a totally different bend in the road, have a recommittment ceremony with a big party?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This is hubby of many many years.  He is my foundation.  
Fred was supposed to pick up three thick cut strip steaks for the grill for dinner tonight.  Bless his heart, he got three lean tough top round steaks.  They are going sit in a marinade til tomorrow. Fred is special  man in many ways.  Sending him to the store has always been an adventure.  Once I asked for tomato sauce to make a chili and he brought home tomato soup.  Close, but no cigar.  Fred reads the first part of the word and ignores the rest.  It is a trait he has acquired since the strokes that nearly killed him. Fred can not read well and he is easily confused.  He suffers with steadily increasing forgetfulness. The prideful man he is,  refuses to ask for assistance, no matter what the outcome.   He came home with a bottle of Winking Owl Chardonnay, which worked perfectly for the planned shrimp cocktail supper but was vastly different from the Cupcake Chardonnay on the list.  Easy confusion there.  Alton Brown's brined and broiled shrimp are heads and tails above any other shrimp. They are plump, seasoned and are never ever flabby or tough and the only way I will ever make shrimp again. 

Got involved with a conversation with some cyber friends about old loves and lost loves today. The conversation got started because of the two contractors working on our current kitchen remodel are both name Justin and it leads to a lot of confusion and mis-communication.  This is, however, no worse than when I worked with several fellows named Ed.  Five men named Ed working in one kitchen lead to chaos at Rollande et Pierre in 1974.  You would call out "Ed, I need my ----" and it was a chorus of voices answering you.  This brought to mind the saga of the "Ed" twins who were a wonderful and equally awful part of my life.  I very nearly married one of them. I was 19, and was literally left at the alter with a 500.00 dollar ivory chiffon empire waist dress with fingertip sleeves in lace (a fortune in 1976) and a china service for 24 (That I just trashed in the dumpster this year, it was never used, and it had too many bad memories to keep).  I found out days later after the abandonment that Ed #1 had two other girlfriends and both were pregnant. 'Nuff said. Dodged a bullet with that one. His twin brother had taken me to my Senior prom and was a perfect gentleman. Naturally, I fell hard for the other brother, the one with the devil in his eye. Both of them had gorgeous full heads of auburn hair, freckles and clear green eyes. Oh my goodness, be still my beating heart..

 Anyway, I showed my saved china pattern to my daughter this summer, told her the story behind it and asked if she would care to have it for her "hope" chest.  She told me "no".  Too much pain and too many bad things happened to mommy while that china was in the house.  Perceptive girl, she is.  Tried to sell it, but there were no takers and even ChinaFinders deemed the pattern worthless. Noritake Silver Palace  circa 1976.  According to ChinaFinders, which is a local china pattern locator, right down the street from Painting With a Twist, told me they had oodles and oodles of pieces for my pattern and it wasn't worth much. So it got the old heave ho into the dumpster.  It was cathartic and cleansing to have it shatter into as many pieces as my heart was shattered long long ago.  It also, pinpointed how clearly to me how my daughter, Liv doesn't have that kind of "entertaining gene" in her. The idea of a special china pattern means nothing to her.  She would rather have an "experience". I don't see her caring about a whether the table linens are pressed or if the dishes even match. Setting a table to her is an odious chore. 

It was always one of my favorite things to do to help my mom. I loved the feel and translucency of the fine china in my hand, polishing the silver til it gleamed and it was about the only time you would find me with an iron in my hand...ironing and starching the napkins so I could fold them in fancy patterns. Funny those things were fun to me and I loved the civility of a fine table. But I never could get totally behind the idea of a fine china left only for special occasions, every day should be special day. Company isn't the only reason to use the "good stuff" You should use the "good stuff" for your family and yourself too. Even if you set the table for one. One need not be the loneliest number you ever hear. Treating yourself well only on a special day leads to gradual loss of self. When you stop caring about the things that matter to you, it sends the wrong message to your own pysche. Lack of caring for yourself snowballs into a lack of caring for the things around you and that will perpetuate a feeling of unworthiness. If you feel you aren't worthy of being cared for, it becomes a vicious cycle of self-defeating behavior. That is a terrible thing to do to the wonderful creation you are, a child of a Higher Being, with a purpose and unconditional love from the universe, even if it isn't apparent in the everyday.  Each of us is miraculous in a unique sense and have an intrinsic value that should be nurtured and cherished.  You should have things you love to touch and look at every day to give you that sense of satisfaction and well being. If your food is continually shoved at you through a fast food window, you become desensitized to taste and it leads to a lethargy towards life beyond cooking and the pleasure of a good meal prepared with caring loving hands. Cheaper does not always mean better. Yes, it will take more time and effort but who better to care for your well-being than yourself. Responsibility for what you eat is a choice that lies within.  

As I get ready to put the everyday practical Corelle in the dishwasher, it reminds me of the difference in the loves of my life.  Corelle isn't as exciting or quite like the china I longed for and never used, but it is a dish I can live with daily and appreciate the ease of care and lightness. My dishes are like my Fred.....he may not be as devilish as the Ed of my past, but he is the foundation of my soul. He is my dear husband for better for or for worse, in sickness and in health.  He has been a rock of support and generous of heart, loyal and loving for 28 years.  I'm truly blessed.  Who needs that fine china, afterall?
Notyourmomma's Kitchen Tampa Bay restaurants

Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Bamboo Bistro

The family tried the Bamboo Bistro on 75th Avenue on St. Pete Beach tonight.  It was delicious.
The restaurant occupies the tiny space formerly known as Oscar's on 75th.  There is ample parking behind the building.  It sits next to the infamous "Shhh, Don't Tell Mama" adult store.
The Bamboo Bistro on Urbanspoon
There is a lovely deck in the back with seating.  It has some Roman busts on the wall which is a bit of a disconnect.  It is still a pleasant spot to sit on a fresh cool November evening.  The interior has been painted in a deep red walls, black ceiling and large golden bamboo poles askew against the walls.  The floors are dark wood.

There is a very nice selection of sushi items and specialty rolls.  We chose a spicy tuna roll ($9,95) and one called red hot chili peppers.  Both were very good.  I particularly liked the read hot chili pepper roll ($13.95).  It had tuna inside and tuna outside, with jalapenos, tempura crispy something and it was very good.  I like spicy.  Both were plated beautifully and had generous amounts of wasabi and pickled ginger.

Beer and Wine selections are the usual generic versions.  Hot or cold sake is offered, too.  A generous glass of wine is $5.00 each and a Miller Lite is $2.95 a bottle.

The Daughter raves about the crab rangoon, and they were hot, fresh, crispy and had a nice dipping sauce.  Dad was very happy with his pork potstickers.  They were tender and flavorful.    I can't share a picture of my Tom Yum Shrimp soup, ($3.95).  We ate it before I remembered a picture.  It was tart, spicy, gingery with three perfectly cooked large plump tender shrimp.  Sooooo good.  Service can be a bit scattered but with food this good, we weren't complaining.

The Mr. enjoyed his dish of Mongolian beef very much.  The onions and beef were tender and flavorful. The Daughter could barely eat her entree of Broccoli Ginger chicken, only because she had too much sushi!!.  It was perfectly cooked, the chicken slices were not rubbery.  You could tell this was cooked to order.  The only miss of the night was the Bamboo Eggplant in peanut sauce.  The tofu cubes were lightly fried pillows of airy protein.  The sauce suffered by being much too sweet and cloying for my taste.  It needed a serious punch of lime and heat to counteract the thick sweet peanut flavor.  

Yes, we will go back.  Do the sushi,  Hot & Sour or Tom Yum soup and save some room for the desserts.  We want to try the Thai donut and the Bamboo Banarama Sundae.  Tempura fried bananas, ice cream, and hot fudge.  Just shoot me now.  Really that sounds like fun!

Notyourmomma's Kitchen Tampa Bay restaurantsThose are the happy faces of my family after a good supper.  Please tell them Olivia sent you in to give them a try. .

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts and a recipe or two!

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
Simple Cranberry Sauce
The simplest of cranberry sauces that gets raves at the Thanksgiving table every time it is served.
1 12 oz. package of fresh cranberries
enough maple syrup to cover the berries (real maple syrup and I like to use grade B for this dish)
1/4 cup of good quality bourbon
Heat the cranberries over medium heat, covered with the maple syrup by at least 1/2 inch until the berries pop and soften.
Lower heat to very low, add the bourbon, cook 10 minutes more.
Cool at least one hour in the refrigerator.  

Cranberries: "The Indians and English use them much, boyling them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat, and it is a delicious sauce." John Josselyn, while visiting New England in 1663
Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants. ~Kevin James
Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. ~Erma Bombeck
Sweet Tater Casserole
From a community cookbook from the West Mall Old timers Hockey League  Etobicoke Ontario
2 cups of cooked mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup crushed pineapple drained
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
I bake the sweets, poked with holes in microwave,cool, peel and mash.
Combine all ingredients but the bacon.
Spoon in non stick sprayed casserole dish.
Bake at 325 for 20 minutes, 
Top with bacon pieces and bake five minutes more.
We have so much to be thankful for this year. We have been blessed with good fortune and better health.  Thank you.
 ~Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel.~ 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Get me to the Greek

Very vaguely associated with Greek Pastichio....definitely Americanized and speedy cooking techniques.  Get me to the table quick is the name of the game in this house...a little something different from our usual baked ziti.

1 package of fat rotini noodles, boiled al dente and drained
1 lb. package of lean ground lamb
1 fat yellow onion chopped
handful of frozen chopped peppers (from a stirfry mix)
3 fat garlic cloves minced
1 cup of parmesan grated
1/2 cup of grated mozzarella
1/2 cup of cottage cheese
2 beaten eggs, using one at a time in recipe
1 tsp of ground pepper
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of dill weed
1/2 tsp of dried rosemary
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 jar of light alfredo sauce
1/4 cup of  milk
1/2 cup (generous) crumbled feta

browning in the pan
Boil noodles, drain and cool.
Brown lamb, breaking up chunks.
Brown onions, peppers, garlic and seasonings with lamb.  Allow to cool

Mix noodles with mozzarella, cottage cheese, 1/3 cup of parmesan and one beaten egg.
Spread into a glass baking dish sprayed with non stick spray.

Top with meat mixture evenly.

Add milk, remaining parmesan cheese to jarred Alfredo Sauce with one more beaten egg.
Pour over meat and noodles.

Put in 350 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Pull out of oven, remember you forgot the feta cheese.

Sprinkle casserole with feta and run under the broiler for 2 minutes.
Serve with Pita Panzanella.  Pat yourself on the back for not calling out for take-out.  Take a picture for your friends.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Painting With A Twist is good clean FUN!

St. Petersburg Store Information - Painting With A Twist - Painting With A Twist:

'via Blog this'

My third visit to Painting with a Twist. Each time has been quite fun. I heartily recommend this as a nice activity to spend some "me time" in a very hectic world.

My first attempt was on a Friday Date night. I went with my daughter. We had Joanna as the instructor. You are encouraged to bring a glass of wine or "adult beverage" and/or light snacks. They provide ice, cups, wine openers, plates and napkins. The room was packed with many couples and it was nice to see so many men with their wives finding their artistic side. Each painter did one half of a painting to match up as a whole at the end. It was the "Love tree." You are guided step by step in painting and given hints from helpers roaming the room. They provide the canvas, the paints, the brushes, the aprons. There is one rule that always tickles my funny bone...don't dip your paint brush in your wine and don't drink the rinse water from your brush cup. Periodically, the instructor will ring a cow bell, and encourage you to take a deep cleansing breath, step back, shout "WOOHOO" and take a sip of your drink. Relax your shoulders, and have fun. Roll with it.
My second visit was just last week.  I forgot to mention that there are several pictures, hundreds to choose from and there is a monthly calendar posted showing the date, time and chosen picture to paint at the website.  As anyone who knows our family dynamics, we are suckers for turtles.  Therefore, the painting.  "Turtle heading Home" had to be one for Olivia and me to paint.  Our dearest Tyler had to wear a body cast for three long years and we called it his "turtle shell".  Tyler tolerated that shell through many a long hot Florida summer and it was never easy on him.  However, it became a nickname that stuck and we began collecting turtles.  Especially since ancient lore has given wisdom to the turtle and we all know that Tyler was wise beyond his calendar years on earth.  He had an old soul to tolerate a broken worn out body, he was very wise, kind and loving.
My version

Olivia's pretty turtle heading home.
Finally, we come to today.  I just had the best time, painting "Breakfast at Tiffany's".  It was truly challenging.
Fortunately, our canvas had a nice pencil outline of the shapes we were going to fill in.  This painting was done in all greys, blacks, white and the Tiffany blue.  It involved a lot of mixing, shading and concentration.  I will say the class moved quickly and I'm not exactly happy with my efforts.  Poor Audrey has a bigger boo-tay than I would like and my Tiffany package is lacking a bit of sparkle.  That being said, I am happy to report that if you are unhappy with any painting and want to "touch" up some areas, Painting with a Twist offers SOS Saturdays.  The first Saturday of the month, they allow you to come back with your canvas (reserve your space) for free and they will assist you in fixing what you aren't happy with...nice bonus.  

They offer all kinds of paintings to chose from, they have private parties and offer classes that will provide a benefit for specific charity.  Particularly Paint your Pet day, it costs a little bit more ($55.00) but ten dollars is donated to a local animal charity.  Plus, you get the benefit of a lasting portrait of your pooch.  You send in a photo of your dog or cat, they will do a pencil sketch on the canvas to get you started.  Tell them if you want a comic or realistic version of said pet, including background color and they will have it all set up for you.  

Oh, lest I forget....there is a frequent flyer, er, um, frequent painter card that you get.  Ten punches and you get a free visit.  They offer gift certificates too.  Olivia is taking her friend for a night of painting as a Christmas gift.  Go, have fun, take a deep breath.....and WooHOO!  

2527 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33713
Tel: (727) 327-4488

Pita Panzanella, if you wish!

A riff on a panzanella salad, with feta cheese, a bit of dried mint and a bit of oregano to a tart vinaigrette.

five mini wheat toasted pita breads
1/2 of red pepper, diced
1 bunch of green onion, cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp of oregano
1/2 tsp of dried mint, crumbled in your fingers
2  tbsp of red wine vinegar
2 tbsp of olive oil
1/3 cup or more of crumbled feta

Toast the bread slightly.
quarter pitas
toss with veggies
dress with vinegar and oil
sprinkle with herbs
toss with feta
grind some fresh pepper over all
stir and let the dressing soak into the pita
serve it up and dig in.

Butternut Squash Pork Pie

Always on the hunt to find uses for butternut squash.  This is a delicious addition to a pizza and there is the lovely benefit of veggie vitamins.  Did not have any Italian sausage in the freeze or frig, but I did have some fresh ground pork.  So, I cooked the raw pork crumbles, seasoned heavily with Italian seasonings, garlic and onion and topped a boboli crust with a butternut squash/marinara base as a  sauce and it worked.  It was a good supper with a fresh salad.

1 thin Boboli pizza crust
4 ounce of defrosted butternut squash puree, drained
1/2 cup of prepared marinara sauce
1/2 lb of fresh ground pork
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of dried rosemary
1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning
I/2 tsp of Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 cloves of minced garlic, minced fine!
1/2 yellow onion chopped fine
4 slices of monterey jack cheese
3/4 cup of shredded jack, cheddar mix
no oil, no butter oy vey

Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Heat pizza stone.
Cook raw pork until no longer pink with garlic, onion and seasonings.
Mix butternut squash with marinara
Place crust on a pizza paddle,
Spread on mixed sauce.
top with four slices of cheese of jack cheese (only because it was getting dried out on the edges)
Spread with cooled crumbled pork, onion, garlic and seasonings.
Top overall with shredded cheese
cook 10 minutes at 425.
Broil, 3 minutes to toast the cheese.
Ready to cook.
Ready to EAT!  YUM!

Roasted Butternut And Red Pepper Soup

I've had roasted red pepper and tomato soup and loved the flavor combination.  I found a surplus of cooked squash in the deep freeze.  Hmm, what to do?  I decided to combine the butternut squash with the red pepper soup and it was a delightful fast flavorful soup.  The addition of pasteurized refrigerated crab made it a meal.    The added benefit of another vitamin rich veggie and a subtle thickening without using heavy cream.  Bonus!  A dash of chili oil gives it extra zing!

3 tbsp of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp of thyme, dried and crumbled in your fingers to release aroma
1 tsp of marjoram, dried and crumbled
1 12 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained
2 packages of frozen butternut squash, thawed but not drained
1 can of beef broth, low salt
1 can of chicken broth, low salt (14 1/2 oz)
two strips of fresh lemon zest (zest remaining lemon for topping, fine grate)
1/2 lb. of fresh claw crab meat ( lump if you can afford it), all shell removed  (totally optional, soup is good without it)
salt and pepper
lemon zest, minced chives or parsley as garnish
chili oil or lemon oil as a flavor punch drizzle

Heat oil in large sauce pan over moderate heat for a few minutes, add onions, garlic, herbs and cook until fragrant and soft.
Add drained roasted red peppers, defrosted squash, both broths and the strips of lemon zest.  Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove lemon zest.
Cool slightly and then puree in batches in a blender.
Return to low heat, keep warm, taste and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add crab meat and heat gently.  Serve with crusty french bread (preferred) or a dinner roll, if that is what you have on hand.  ~wink~

After blending and stirring in crab, reduced on low.  

In my bowl with a drizzle of chili oil.  

Bacon Clam Pizza

On the hunt for tasty fast food...this will fit the bill. Very easy and delicious. Almost tastes like a smoky clam chowder on a bread crust. Quick to put together and the flavor very good.
1 thin Boboli prepared pizza crust
1/2 cup of light Alfredo sauce
1 10 ounce can of chopped clams well drained
1/2 red onion, slivered
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tsp of minced garlic
one package of precooked bacon 8 slices used
sprinkle of fresh minced parsley
pinch of red pepper flakes, if you like a bit of heat
1 cup of shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat your pizza stone, (you have one, don't you?) for twenty minutes
While the stone is heating, make your toppings.
In a tbsp of the olive oil, sweat the red onion slivers and minced garlic until fragrant.
When the stone is super hot, top with prepared pizza crust, spread with the light alfredo sauce within 1/2 inch of the edge, sprinkle with chopped cooked bacon, sprinkle with clams, top with cooked slivered onion and garlic.
Brush edge of crust with reserved oil.
Cover pizza with the cheeses, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and parsley.
Bake 15 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Phase Two House Remodel/backyard

New Deck Color

Pool Care of Tampa Bay did an awesome job on the pool. They did it in one week. Totally thoroughly pleased as can be. Dawn, Steve, Mike were a delight to work with and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a pool re-do.
Old Deck Color

As a matter of fact, we hired them to redo our mismatched pool deck. They have fixed the cracks and filed down the rebarb reconnecting the beam to the pool..all part of our initial contract. They have removed the handicapped lift and filed it down. Moved our non-working hot tub to the front yard, which in this neighborhood, it may grow legs and walk away. Everything else has, recycling at it's best. We have settled on a Caribbean Tan for the color to unify the decks.

Fred is going to rescreen our back porch and install tan lattice around the bottom of the screens to deter the dog from bursting through....although truth be known Charlie Brown could barrel through anything. He did drag me across a driveway once. And I'm a big gal.

Going to pressure clean the porch once the deck is done and recoat the pebbletech with a thick coat of polymer. It is supposed to be recoated every four years and it has not been done since the house was built in 1974. It is long long overdue. That should be a reasonable redo for under 200 dollars.