July? Really?

The week of the 4th we travelled to my brother and sister-in-law’s home in Etowah, NC; I was happy to have our son with us as he brings a different dimension to the mix.  Not only do I have someone to converse with on the trip, he’s fitness-oriented which helps to keep me motivated.  He hiked in the Pisgah National Forest www.hikewnc.info/trailheads/Pisgah, I walked the hills of the neighborhood; he went to the fabulous Y in Biltmore Park, Image Gallery I did yoga in the backyard; he ran 6 miles, my sis and I walked three.  He got poison ivy.  We always go for a Black and Bleu Burger at the Black Rose in Hendersonville but this time we changed it up as we had been eating more meat than usual.  I had an outstanding spinach salad with goat cheese.  Although that area sees quite a bit of rain, the weather was fantastic compared to L-ville, where it was in the 100’s.  There are so many towns to visit in the Asheville vicinity, we try to visit 2 – 3 times a year.  One excursion took us to the River Arts District along the French Broad River  http://www.riverartsdistrict.com/; as usual I’ve let almost two weeks go by with a post hanging fire and now August is a week away.  The Daughter and family were on another trip over the weekend so thinking I’d have less prep for Sunday dinner, I decided to finally get the back porch cleaned.  Last year it just got a lick and a promise (kept up with the big chunks of course) but with most of the storm damage repair complete it was time.  This is also prep for the annual wood preservative application.  This time I’m trying an Olympic product that promises to last more than one season.  You don’t get much service out of the clear coats but this one talked the talk.  We haul everything outside and scrub it down with Dawn and a degreaser.  I chose solar screen fabric for the top areas when we added the porch on to the house – it was a pretty good decision as it provides a certain amount of privacy but with good visibility looking out.  The fabric is strong and hasn’t stretched in 6 years and has prevented a lot of furniture fabric fade.  My husband thinks it holds in the heat but I think that’s a function of an un-insulated screened porch baking in the sun all day. It’s a nasty hard job but so nice when it’s done.  One other side effect of this production is that all the furniture and trinkets have to be cleaned, painted, renewed and/or replaced.  Whew.  I’m happy with this year’s outcome as I hit a great sale at Target and was able to replace the hodgepodge of cushions I’d collected over the years.  The painting wasn’t so bad either as I’m loving the Krylon and Rust-Oleum products – especially the bronzes and stains.  I’ll probably coat the porch this weekend as the temperature is supposed to be a little cooler Saturday.  The boy-o left today for a two-week road trip thru the Northeast territories with his band Quiet Hollers http://www.quiethollers.com/ .  We all got together for a send-off on Pizza Nite – the offerings were  Barbecue, Garden Veg and  a couple of leftover slices of Margherita frozen from the week before. That one was especially tasty as we made it with fresh Cherokee Purple tomatoes

we brought back from Asheville along with fresh pesto with basil from the garden.  As usual I used Mama Mary’s Whole Wheat Pizza Crusts.  The barbecue was frozen leftover shredded chicken breast tossed with Stubbs’ Spicy Barbecue Sauce, an onion sliced and softened by placing it in a foil pack with a splash of olive oil and placing it in the oven while it preheated to 425°, sliced banana peppers and shredded colby jack.  The Veg consisted of a saute of frozen pepper & onion stir fry blend, pre-sliced mushrooms and a sliced baby summer squash; fresh romas and basil on top of the mix and a shredded mozzarella-fontina blend to finish.  We usually cheese the crusts a bit before adding the toppings and always sprinkle cornmeal on the pan/stone before adding the crust.  They bake about 12 – 15 minutes and I turn down the heat to 385° about halfway thru.  I was using convection since I had both oven racks going.  We were watching the 2012 Clio Awards for advertising – I hope they post them on YouTube soon, there were a couple that were insanely hilarious that I’d like to share; unfortunately I can’t remember the products they were hawking.  America’s Got Talent followed, most of us were out on the porch watching while we ate…just about the time I get tired of this show they arrive at the finals.  I don’t like watching anything competitive – life’s tough enough.  I’d like to see what’s happened to  some of the great and bizarre acts that don’t make it..I hope that they’ve been picked up by some talent scout and we’ll see them in a commercial or Disneyworld.    Or TLC.  Or the History Channel with the Swamp People.  After that I ran everyone off and went to bed.

Pizza Recipes – use the search box

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As Time Goes Bye Bye

I’ve discovered yet another use for Mr. Clean Magic Erasers they remove oil-based deck stain splatters from your skin.  Having spent the better part of the afternoon reviving the backyard privacy fence with black stain, it was time switch gears and start dinner prep.  I had planned an easy meal (mentioned in an earlier post) of pesto salmon with sweet potato fries and a steamer bag of vegetables, but I also wanted to start on Sunday’s meal as the bro-in-law was in town and would be joining us along with his mother for Sunday dinner.  I had put on my fabric garden gloves for quick removal in order to answer the many calls from work I was receiving as our RIS system upgrade had quickly degraded to a downgrade by the end of the week. The day was blistering hot but the more irritated I became with the work problems, the more productive I became in the yard.  Damn fence got done and as some of you might know, one completed project makes the remaining surrounding environment look shabby.  Proceeded to pot up a bunch more herbs, re-pot root bound ornamental trees, paint the rest of the patio chairs,  yadayadayada.  I finally stopped when I realized hypothermia was setting in.  Looong story short, needed to quickly clean up; the stain had seeped through the gloves and the rest of me was covered in splatter,all of it quite dry by that time.  I have a magic eraser in the shower to wipe down the tile – I gave my hand a swipe with it and off came the stain (that is, enough of it to not necessitate a mineral spirit bath).  I wonder if it would work as a DIY dermabrasion?  Just kidding.  Dinner ensued and I did manage to put together a  tortellini salad for the next day made with  frozen pesto I had put up last fall.  I freeze it in ice-cube trays (leftover whipping cream as well).    Sunday dinner was fun – the weather was beautiful so we were able to enjoy sitting outside.  The meal was great – my favorite tomato tart (good tomatoes from Tennessee are in), grilled flat-iron steak, the pesto salad and a last-minute veggie, green beans with feta, toasted walnuts and cranberries.  Dessert was Very Berry Triple Fruit Pie. The evening’s entertainment (besides our granddaughter, the star of any show) was home movies on the laptop with soundtrack provided my YouTube station http://www.youtube.com/user/4basil9?feature=guide .  We have remote speakers hooked up to our PC.  Our daughter has been transferring our family VHS tapes to DVD and brings a few over each week.  The transfer is taking awhile as she can’t help but watch them as she’s editing.

I’d like to send a shout-out to our Bashford Manor Lowes..fast forward to  Memorial Day weekend, the backyard is coming together but I still had no repair/replacement plan for our deteriorated concrete patio, my main view as I look out the kitchen window while I do most of my food prep & cleanup.  I do have a $4K bid to turn it into a ground level deck and Concrete-man has not called me back with a quote.  I want this off my plate as I’m tired of thinking about this and now have to obtain a number of other quotes for the hail damaged stuff.  I get online for a few minutes and outdoor carpet pops up amongst many other pricey options. Eureka!  Hop in the car – first stop is Target for landscape lights (since I just mentally saved about $3K, I rationalize I can now purchase some yard tchotchkes.  Next door is Wal Mart for a bag of black mulch and, hopefully, some zinnias as I have difficulties starting plants from seed due to the eco-system that is my yard.  Too many critters that appreciate my efforts and enjoy munching on tender seedlings, bulbs and any vegetables that attempt to grow.  On to Lowes where the first person we encounter as we walk in the door asks if we need help and proceeds to escort us to the flooring area.  We quickly decide on a sample and the gal stops a co-worker to help her roll out, cut and shrink-wrap a 12′ x 12′ piece for us.  We were out of there in 15 minutes.  Great service!!  My patio looks so much better and all for under $100. 

I made a cheeseburger salad (using soy crumbles) based on Ree Drummond’s recipe for last week’s Sunday gathering..wasn’t sure about the weather and didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen.  It’s an interactive meal as you build your own salad.  A side dish of zingy coleslaw (I accidentally added a Serrano instead of a jalapeno) rounded it out.  As the title of this post implies, too much time is passing too quickly; can’t remember what dessert was, maybe Ghirardelli Turtle Brownies.  Heading out to the yard as it’s once again Sunday.  Daughter and family are in Florida so it will be a quiet dinner.  Our son has had two career boosts this weekend, one of which was landing a school system bid.  I’m really hoping he can continue on his journey to follow his heart.  Tonight will feature adult beverages,  grilled lamb burgers with spinach feta relish, a bang-up potato salad (had to use up some celery and Wickles Pickles relish) and grilled carrots with fresh thyme.  There may be beans.  Dessert will involve dark chocolate.  I now must go forth and buy sod.

Pasta with Pesto

Fresh Tomato Tart

Flat Iron Steak Southwest Rub

Green Beans & Cranberries

Very Berry Triple Fruit Pie

Cheeseburger Salad

Coleslaws

Grilled Lamb Burgers

Spinach Relish

Classic Potato Salad with Cornichons

Mother’s Day Eve

I picked up a nice looking large outdoor plant pot at Aldi (one of their usual ‘seasonal’ items) – anodized bronze with a fleur-de-lis pattern.  I think they’re fiberglass or resin – durable and lightweight but depending on what I’m putting in them I sometimes add something for ballast, broken bricks, rocks etc.  since they can easily tip over in a good wind.  Also, no sense wasting all that soil if I’m just planting a cluster of herbs.  I had an empty plastic orange juice bottle in the recycling bin…filled it with water, added a few drops of bleach to retard mold and voila, perfect fit.  This container will hold thyme and sage – I’m trying to start the sage from cuttings from last year’s plant that got extremely leggy over the winter and bolted after the first warm days of spring.  Wal Mart had great looking herbs for $2 – picked up basil, thyme, cilantro (thought it was regular parsley, will give it to daughter as I have the cilantro-tastes-like-soap gene and although I can’t taste much of anything, cilantro still tastes like crap to me) oregano and dill, which is in the ground behind the peonies and against the fence, as it gets very funky-tall.  The basil is in a good-sized pot as I plant seeds next to the plant every few weeks as it’s quick to bolt as well.  I still have frozen basil and frozen pesto from last year that I need to use.  Maybe I’ll add some tortellini and pesto to the Mother’s Day menu.

It’s good to go back and read what one’s written before one publishes; spell-check and grammar check is great but there needs to be a WTF-check; I left the o off of pesto in the last paragraph.

This has been a difficult work-week and we’ve been dealing with a lot of hail damage details.

Having said that, I’m lucky to have a job and a house and cars and insurance!

I went on my quarterly field trip to Meijer’s to stock up on the pizza crusts mentioned in a previous post, refried black beans with jalapenos, vegetarian baked beans, Alfresco products (nitrate free yummy sausages), ground lamb and a hundred extra bucks worth of other stuff.  I bought a double-walled cup for my afternoon iced coffee.  I saw the most beautiful picture of a glass of coffee on What Katie Ate whatkatieate.blogspot.com – stunning photography on that blog.  I decided I needed something a little more attractive than the plastic cups I usually drink from.  Ha.  The new cup is plastic. But attractive.  I returned to find the boy-o cooking up his weekend breakfast mash.  That is such a good thing.

We whiled away a couple of hours talking..so nice for me.  I put dinner in the crocker..which reminds me, I’m doing the Fight for Air walk June 9, Arnold C gave me a fantastic donation!!!

Saturday’s I like to have something chugging away in the crockpot filling the house with good smells and leaving me time for other endeavors; summer brings fresh things that entail a lot of prep and dealing with the grill and Mr. Man.  I often think I’d like an electric Foreman Grill.  I think I’ll pick one up at Kroger next week wonder if the senior discount will apply.

I’ve been trying to do most of the grocery shopping on the way home from work – dependent on whether or not I get a walk in during the workday lunchtime.  I think what this really means is that I am grocery shopping every day of the week.  The theory is I’ll have it all done before the weekend but if the bulk of it’s done during the week, this leaves time for more frivolous grocery shopping but at a less frenetic pace.  Or whatever psychological term you want to call what I do.

Tonite’s offering is Tarragon Chicken with Leeks and Peas in the crockpot…such a sweet recipe.  I love adding my frozen whipping cream cubes at the end.

Barb’s Chicken with Tarragon Slow Cooker

Back in the day we all had free-standing freezers; I’m lucky enough to have an immense French-door fridge/freezer combo that we were able to retrofit into our eensy-beensy galley kitchen.  In addition, we have a fridge in the basement that stores beer, all of my flours, back-stock misc. crap and more frozen stuff.  I still shop daily. I wonder what the net cost is of a loaf of reduced day-old bread that’s been languishing in the freezer for 3 months?

Martha, is it a good thing to have 3 frozen hambones?  I’m not a ham fan but the gents sure love it’s salty nitrate-infused goodness.  OK I lie – I love me some pea soup and the ham/pineapple pizza’s good for using up the leftovers.  Also good to add to the Sunday breakfast omelet for the menfolk.

I still haven’t posted last week’s rant…I’ll tidy it up and get it out tomorrow as I need to move forward with this issue.  I thought there was forward movement to reduce the amount of packaging but it only seems to have gotten worse.

Sooo…sliced & blanched 2# of Vidalia onions for tomorrow’s casserole, scrubbed the spuds, prepped the flat-iron steak rub, wondered which beet recipe I’d like to use (if I do the orange salad I’ll need more arugula but at least I have the orange!), wrapped up a couple of goodies for the other Moms in our lives and threw down a couple of brewskies.  See you tomorrow.