Monday, October 27, 2014

Apalachicola Florida - Boss Oyster & The National Forest

We took a week off earlier in October and played. We didn't spend lots of money, we didn't travel but we did enjoy each and every day we were away of our work environment. The days consisted of reading, crocheting (for me), star gazing with the telescope (for Doug), shooting at Talon and preparing some good meals at home.

We did select one day to drive to Apalachicola for oysters and bop along some dirt side roads into the national forest.



After wandering around the tiny little town of Apalachicola we decided to try eating at Boss Oyster.



The menu at Boss Oyster will have you at a loss - there are so many good offerings making it difficult to choose. This photo below is just a fraction of the choices.



We started with a dozen raw oysters. They serve oysters with bacon, with jalapenos, with spinach and cheese...any combination you can think of - they'll prepare it. Menu Here

We had them plain. Big, fat, salty oysters. Horseradish for mine please!



I never did get a photo of the baskets we ordered. Doug had the grilled grouper and I had the grilled shrimp with cheese grits and slaw.

This is a view we had from our seats in the restaurant. It was such a nice day we sat outside on their deck.



On the way back home we explored little side roads, just to see what was down there.



Honestly, we couldn't have asked for better weather. The skies were brilliant blue, the temperatures were not-too-hot and not-to-cool. A rare thing in these parts as you are usually taking cover from the blazing sun



This was one of the best days. Doug's SUV has mud all over it from the little roads but it was a blast bumping along, having the wheels skid a little as we took a muddy curve.



It's a two-hour ride to get to Apalachicola but well worth it. Great day!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Crocheting again

Recently I've revived my interest in crocheting. I honestly don’t know why I stopped….maybe it was my total immersion in genealogy projects and sorting through mounds of census. Puzzles intrigue me and researching family history certainly provides mysteries to be solved.

Then, reading through my favorite websites each week I watch with envy as Lucy produces all these wonderful crocheted throws, blankets and clothes. Check her out at The Pie Patch!




My Nana taught me how to crochet but that was over 35 years ago. She very patiently sat with me and showed me how to do the stitches, it seemed easy. I need visuals when learning so I turned to You Tube and children’s books.



Face it…if a craft book is geared toward children it is usually super simple, easy directions with many illustrations as examples. This is such a book. I’m not ashamed to say it helped me immensely.


Now my stitches are more uniform. I figured out one problem was not counting my stitches properly. That makes for a crooked mess. When you want to hear, “Oh, what a lovely blanket” but instead you hear “What on earth is that?” well………you know you need help!

The plan here is make several squares in complimentary colors then stitch them together. A patch work throw……I think it will be pretty. After I get used to the single chain I will move on to double, then triple and hopefully a beauty of a Tunisian stitch!

It's not crooked as the photo appeared, just my angle taking the shot :-)



If you are like me and need to see someone crochet this link at You Tube is wonderful. Otherwise, check out a children's book - it helped me immensely.

Soon I will have more rows accomplished and show you my end project. I hope.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Squash and Mushroom Bake

Yea…it’s Potluck theme again and I am bringing a casserole to the party. This week I have another recipe from Nigel Slater’s cookbook Eat. It’s a lovely squash and mushroom bake that’s super easy to put together.



It’s very pretty as it emerges from the oven, the cheese and béchamel bubbling up, coating the veggies within. Alas, when you spoon it out on your plate it isn’t a lovely site at all.

Tastes great but once scooped from the baking dish it doesn’t have visual appeal. The mushrooms give this casserole a very earthy flavor, lots of tastes mingling with the melty cheese. It’s quite good and we will have it again.

It was a nice side kick for the potatoes and lamb.



If you ever want to serve to guest and keep the aesthetic appeal you best put this into ramekins to bake and serve individually.

Look at that gooey cheese covering the roasted mushrooms and squash........




Here is the recipe – I modified a wee bit.

Several Summer squash, cut into thin slices
Roughly 8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced in chunks
6 ounces of a cheese mixture, I used Monterey and cheddar
Salt and pepper
Basil leaves
Béchamel sauce


Method

Heat a small amount of olive oil and sauté the s slices until browned. Do the same with the mushrooms and add basil leaves, seasoning with salt and pepper to your taste.

Now layer the squash, mushrooms and cheese until you have several layers. Since I used a smaller dish I only had two layers. I, am after all, cooking for two and not a large group.

Make a quick béchamel sauce or use a store bought variety. Pour a cup or so over the veggies. Bake at 375 F for a half hour.


This is my contribution to I Heart Cooking Club this week. Check out the delicious fare at the link above.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wine Wednesday - Valreas Cotes du Rhone
{The last wine review for 2014}

We like a good Cotes du Rhone and this label proved to be a good one to add to our wine cooler.



Incredibly rich and deeply purple in color, a pleasant red berry aroma and taste of slight mineral and intense berry. This holds up to other Cotes du Rhone labels we have enjoyed in the past yet it costs far less than we have spent on other good Rhone wines.

Are you ready for the kicker with this one? It was a mere $5.99 at Trader Joe’s store in Tallahassee. I don’t know how they manage to acquire so many good wines for such low prices but hey….I am thankful.

This will be my last Wine Wednesday report for a few months. See you with more wine selections in February next year!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lizards, burgers and books


See this little guy? There were two of them trapped between our bathroom window and screen. I thought I would try and rescue them, toss them outside so they could live. The first one got away. I had it by the tail and he jumped, leaving me with a wiggling tail as the rest of him scurried away under the door where the towels are kept.



This resulted in me hanging this sign on the door to the toilet. No one wants that sort of surprise, having a lizard jump on you when you are doing your business.



Both lizards have since been removed to the outdoors. We're all happy about that.


Vacation means sitting on the patio. We've had some nice days to sit outside and eat. Here is an excellent grilled burger, mozzarella tomato and mixed green salad tater tots, an indulgence. The burgers were only $3.49 each so what a savings on a lunch out. Doug just popped them on the charcoal grill.

After lunch we read, watched the birds, chill out.





Bookish Talk.....Recently I have enjoyed:

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Broadchurch by Erin Kelly
Eat by Nigel Slater
Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Currently reading Diana Gabaldon's latest book Written in My Own Heart's Blood.

The plans for vacation are loose but we have gotten to the theater and watched Gone Girl and it was good. The book was also good and had more detail but, I can't complain about the movie. We also made it to Talon once (so far) for some target shooting. Haven't been on the range in a while. Getting in some crocheting and lots of reading too! Doug has been fortunate enough to be out with his telescopes several times, weather has been decent excpet for that bugger of a storm we had last Tuesday.

That's about it here, hope all is well in your world.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Arroz Con Pollo from One Pot

Comfort food. That's how I feel about foods I prepare in my Dutch oven. Recently I had the opportunity to receive Martha Stewart's latest cook book One Pot. It's amazing!



The first thing I made from this book is Arroz Con Pollo. My husband proclaimed it was the best Arroz con Pollo I have ever made. Now that's a big compliment and I can say, I loved it too.




This base is a breeze to prepare and it will fill your kitchen with tantalizing aromas as it simmers.



Mixed greens, mozzarella and tomato salad made a good side. You don't want to take away from that main dish.



Recipe follows but if you'd like to see the complete book review check me out at Novel Meals.

Arroz con Pollo in a Dutch Oven

Ingredients

1/2 cup dry white wine
Pinch of saffron
6 chicken thighs
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic (3 fat cloves)
1 large tomato, diced
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock, plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups short-grain rice, I used Valencia
1 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine wine and saffron; let stand until ready to use. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, skin side down, until browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Flip, and cook until golden brown, 2 minutes; transfer to a plate. Drain all but 2 TB fat.

Reduce heat to medium, and cook onion and garlic, stirring often, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add tomato, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Stir in wine-saffron mixture, 1/2 tablespoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the bay leaves. Cook until wine is almost completely evaporated, 8 minutes.

Stir in stock, rice, and olives; Nestle chicken into rice, skin side up. Bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to oven. Cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20 or 25 minutes.

If you get your hands on a copy of this book you will love it. Thanks for coming through again Martha!

This is my 9th book in the Cookbook Countdown hosted at Kitchen Flavours.

CookYOURbooks

I am sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Gluten Free Recipes in 30 Minutes Cookbook
{Misleading Title}

I will list the Pros and Cons:

Looking over the recipes you'll find many that can not be prepped and cooked in under 30 minutes. Since the title is Gluten-Free Recipes in 30 Minutes - one would think that half hour includes prep and serving time.



*Honey-Barbecue Wings actually has a 49 minute cook time and that doesn’t include the prep. You are meant to boil the wings for 9 minutes, drain then transfer to a baking sheet for 25 minutes more, then turning the wings and baking an additional 15 minutes.

*Same with the Spicy Buffalo Wings recipe. Total time, as above, equals 49 minutes and that doesn't include any prep time.

*The Three-Bean Chili may be prepped in under 30 minutes but it’s a slow cooker recipe and this takes 8 to 10 hours. It gives the option to use a Dutch oven or stockpot but this cook time is 3 hours.

*The Beef and Shallot Stew also takes hours to cook – 4 to 5 hours in a slow cooker and 2 hours in a stock pot.

*Spicy Turkey Chili is another slow cooker recipe (or you can opt to cook on the stove-top for 1 hour.)

*Almond Butter Frozen Yogurt takes over 3 hours after you prep and cook the required ingredients.

*Herb Roasted Chicken takes an hour and half.

*I was going to make the Maple-Lime Chicken but I realized I needed to marinate it for one hour. So I decided to plan and make it the following evening. Then I noticed the discrepancy in the description which mentions chicken breast and in the ingredient list which mentions chicken thighs.



The cooking time states to cook for 2 minutes each side in a pan and then bake for 15 minutes or until done. We all know thigh and breast meat cook for different times but I also know breast or thigh meat will not cook in 15 minutes. I abandoned trying this one.

I did try the Cinnamon-Raisin Baked Apples. The prep is certainly under 30 minutes but the bake time was not. The recipe calls for a bake time of 15 minutes or until they are very tender.

Well…….I baked the apples for 30 minutes and checked on them. Still not done. After 45 minutes we decided to eat the baked apples. We need a knife to cut through them. They were just OK so I won’t make them again.

apple

We added a dollop of Cool Whip and that was nice….but didn’t take away from the fact that these weren’t tender as expected.



Pros:

This book is divided up into chapters explaining how a gluten free diet works, the advantages and necessities for those with celiac disease and those who are wheat intolerant.

I liked the section explaining how to make your own gluten-free flours such as quinoa flour, almond flour and an all-purpose baking mix. I don't know if the recipes are accurate though as I had trouble with one recipe straight off. (See Baked Apple recipe above)

There are also conversion charts, a list of Gluten-free brands and resources at the end of the book.

There are many recipes which you can actually serve in under 30 minutes such as the soups, many of the appetizers and all salads. Mac and Cheese and many seafood recipes are also under 30 minutes. That is not the case with all recipes though.

I just felt that the title is misleading because you get the initial impression the meal is ready in 30 minutes. That is in the TITLE of the book.


Overall, you would be better served to check this out of the library first to see if it's for you before parting with your money.

I won this book from LibraryThing.


This is my eighth book in the Cookbook Countdown hosted at Kitchen Flavours.

CookYOURbooks

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