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November 4, 2012

Candyland

gum

lifesaver

Our budge hotel in Grand Rapids is a veritable Candyland. Lifesavers on the floor, Tic Tacs in the hall, gum on the doorstop (all on display for the entire three days we were here). Ewww.

gum

April 14, 2012

The Waterways of Louisiana

The Waterways of Louisiana

Lake Martin Louisiana

We spent our day in the swamp yesterday… well, rivers, bayous, lakes, and marshes… but they all have a few similar characteristics here in Louisiana… trees growing out of the water and an amazing array of nesting birds. Absolutely gorgeous. Especially our the Nature Conservancy at Lake Martin.

We didn’t get to see any alligators yet… which is probably just as well.

We also got our fill of pepper sauces at the Tabasco factory on Avery Island, Louisiana. They had the hot pepper sauce in and on everything… including two flavors of ice cream.

Tobasco Sampleville

April 6, 2012

One-Stop Shopping

One-Stop Shopping

One-stop shopping

Schulenburg, Texas, prides itself on homemade bakery and meat. We tried the bakery. It was pretty good, but it’s Good Friday, so we couldn’t over-indulge.

February 19, 2012

Microwave Potato Chips

Microwave Potato Chips

Microwave potato chips and sweet potato chips. My first time making these.When I was a kid, my mom tried her hand at homemade baked potato chips. I remember someone munching on them and saying, “They’re just like bought chips.”

I took my first bite and thought, “Blah. These are nothing like real chips.”

A few weeks ago, the folks at Weight Watchers were chatting about microwave potato chips… that’s what happens at those meetings — we talk about food. These chips were the buzz because they are made with no oil and you can eat a whole potato and only use up a few points.

My mind flashed to the dry potato chip wannabe my mom pulled out of the oven way back when. I wasn’t expecting much.

Tonight I whipped up a batch of potato and sweet potato chips. I gotta say; they are tasty and the texture’s pretty good too. I’m not gonna say they taste like store bought… they’re a bit different… some might even say better.

Here’s how I made them…

Ingredients:

1 potato or sweet potato
Butter Flavored Fat Free Cooking Spray
Salt

Instructions:

  1. Peal the potato and slice it to about 1/8 inch thick (it was kind of fun testing a few different thicknesses).
  2. Coat a pan or tray with cooking spray.
  3. Spread the potato slices in a single layer on the pan – don’t let the slices touch or they’ll end up sticking together.
  4. Place the pan in the microwave on high for 3 minutes (our microwave is a 900 watt).
  5. Remove the pan from the microwave and flip over the potato slices (you’ll notice the potatoes have shrunk a bit).
  6. Return the pan to the microwave and cook for another 3 minutes, but keep an eye on the slices… when they show signs of browning they’re done.

If you let the chips cool for a few minutes, they will crisp up. This is definitely a small-batch recipe… which keeps your portion control in check.

Next up… trying them with the skins on, tossing them in barbeque sauce, dill, or Parmesan cheese.

February 16, 2012

My New Love… Cream of Wheat Cake

My New Love… Cream of Wheat Cake

Loving Liam's farina cake.I spotted a recipe in the “Cook’s Country Lost Recipes” magazine that tempted me enough to buy it (it’s the edition marked “Display Until April 30, 2012…” and if you haven’t checked it out, you really should).

Imagine a smooth Cream of Wheat (farina) custard with all the makings of great comfort food… and it pairs nicely with healthy fruit. Although it requires some time on both the stove top and the oven, it’s quite easy to make.

Nonna’s Breakfast and Dessert Farina Cake from Cook’s Country Lost Recipes

Serves 15 to 18

4 cups whole milk
1-1/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into chunks
1 cup farina
16 ounces (2 cups) whole-milk ricotta chees
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
  2. Bring milk, sugar, and butter to simmer in large saucepan and cook, stirring often, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in farina until smooth. Off heat, stir in ricotta and vanilla. Let mixture cool slightly, then stir in beaten eggs until combined.
  3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle top with cinnamon and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then serve warm.

*I half the recipe and put it in a glass pie pan for a smaller batch.

 

June 30, 2011

Eating Oysters Without Me, Thank Goodness

Liam’s been in Ireland for over a month now, I’ve been busy teaching in Milwaukee, and today Liam threw back my first raw oyster.

Must confess, this is one activity I’m quite happy not to partake in. I’m just not a seafood eater… it’s just not my thing.

Yes, there are many times I feel like I’m missing out, but all it takes is one nibble for my gag reflex to kick in and remind me, “no fish for you!”

June 14, 2011

Family Roadtrip Traditions

Family Roadtrip Traditions

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

When I was growing up, my family had a few travel traditions. We always left the house by 6:30am. I sat on the right side of the car, my sister on the left, and my brother “on the hump.” We always stopped for breakfast at a place called Wheeler’s in Standish, Michigan, and on the way home the car couldn’t pass by the ice cream shop in Hale, Michigan.

In the last two years, I’ve started a new tradition. Sadly, I’m the only one in the family who gets to enjoy it, because it always happens on my way to or from a visit with kin. There’s this old-fashioned mom and pop roadside restaurant near Blaney Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s right on US-2, and each time I rattle the chimes on the door, I smell the loaves of fresh bread before I actually see them spread out over three tables… yep, here they sacrifice table space to let the bread cool.

I’m not sure how they do it, but they always have about six homemade pies on the specials board. I can’t resist. This time I fell for the strawberry rhubarb.

BTW – Liam’s in Ireland… I’m trying to get him to email some pics for me to post… but he keeps forgetting every time he finds wifi.

March 3, 2011

Strawberry Season

Strawberry Season

Strawberries in Yuma, AZ

We were zipping through Yuma, AZ, on our way to Ajo, and couldn’t resist stopping at one of the roadside stands for some enormous, sweet strawberries.

I never knew this, but Yuma is a HUGE agricultural region. In fact, in the winter months 98% of all the lettuce consumed in the U.S. is grown in there.

February 7, 2011

Taste of Home

DSCN0300

Blizzard in Arizona

At this time of year, I would have thought Arizona would be about as different from my Michigan/Wisconsin home as any place in the US could be, but this week has had it’s share of surprises.

First off, it felt a lot like home when temperatures dipped to about 21 degrees Fahrenheit while we were camping at Picacho Peak between Tucson and Phoenix. Icy Marquette, Michigan, had nearly the same temperature that day! Our furnace does an excellent job of keeping the RV warm, but with holding tanks filled with water and… um… other liquids, a serious freeze could be quite a (more…)

February 15, 2010

Rattlesnake!

Rattlesnake!


We were at the end of our hike this morning when we spotted a Japanese couple standing on the steep-sloped trail. They were holding hands and looking directly at the rocks.

I thought, “This is a bit weird.”

When we got closer, the man turned to us and said, “Rattlesnake.”

There, under a rock ledge only a few feet from our heads was a rattlesnake. He was not “rattling,” and he didn’t seem to care that he had an audience.

Production

After our hike, we went right into production… our first full day of work in eight weeks. We are waaaaay behind. That said, the warm weather makes working outside easy, and that means production is much more enjoyable.

Salmon with Dates and Basil

As a little treat, I tested out a new recipe this evening. I really don’t like fish, but I cooked some salmon and it turned out scrumptious. Here’s the recipe:

1 tbs melted butter
1 sliced date
8 leaves of fresh basil
2 salmon fillets
Salt and pepper

Place salmon in an ovenproof dish (I used a glass pie pan). Add freshly ground salt and pepper.

Mix butter, date and basil in a bowl. Spread mixture over the fillets.

Cook in the oven for 14 minutes (sorry, I used our convection oven and set it to “grill,” so I’m not sure what temperatures to use).

Then I served it with black beans with peas and hot pepper flakes and a side of avocado slices. Mmmmm.