Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chickpea, Cucumber, Tomato and Feta salad
{It's a side dish but it's also a pita sandwich!}

Last week my eating patterns were way off. Always happens when Doug leaves town....I seem to eat late and I usually just toss a meal together from leftovers in the fridge.  Ok, I did treat myself to sushi one day for lunch.  That was great.

One evening I made my egg and rice stir fry and stayed up late to finish my latest Peter Robinson book. For dinner the following night I made a salad with chickpeas, tomatoes, olives and feta.  I stuffed a pita pocket with it and had a nice light dinner.  There was enough salad leftover to serve as a side with a Greek Shrimp Scampi for dinner once Doug was home.


He had to go to Marathon in the Keys but it's not as great as you'd think.  Fly down for a meeting and then back again the next evening.  No time to enjoy that tropical part of our state.  To make things complicated, he couldn't get a flight back until near 11:00 P.M. and that means I drive to the airport late.  In the dark.  If your vision isn't great that can be a scary expedition so.....and this was probably stupid......I left super early and sat in the short term parking and watched a movie on my tablet!  Crazy, huh? :-)

The following evening the good life begins when we can make a meal and enjoy it on our covered porch.  Sit and sip wine, talk, eat seafood and watch a couple of foxes eating the leftovers I leave on a tree stump.  I think our actual home could be smaller and we'd be fine as long as we had a covered porch.  It's just about the best room of all.


Here is the recipe for the salad.  Obviously a recipe is more like a guideline so substitute where you like and make it per your taste.   Summer salads are always so good!

Chickpea, cucumber, tomato and Feta salad

  • Ingredients
  • 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 15 grape tomatoes, halved (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup pitted  olives
  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced 
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled or cut into 1/2 inch cubes

  • Dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Place all salad ingredients into a large bowl and toss to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Pour onto salad and toss again to well combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as you'd like.


Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday and with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

 . SouperSundays

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stir - Eggs, Rice and Veggies

Back in January I had a good time reading Stir by Jessica Fechtor and making a few of the recipes from this remarkable memoir.  The author mentioned one of her favorite toss-together meals was leftover rice with egg and vegetables. Since reading this I have made this simple stir-fry several times.

Turns out it's a go-to for me when there isn't quite enough rice to make a second appearance as a side dish. Or there are just a few stray vegetables in the fridge.  Or if my husband is out of town and I am feeling magnificently lazy about cooking - yes, this is it.

{Since Doug is out of town and I planned an evening of reading, this worked out well.}

I had a few cherry tomatoes and a half of a yellow bell pepper.  Some black beans and that little bit of rice .....how easy can this get?!  It's a stir fry that takes under 10 minutes.  Once the veggies are softened I crack one of those luscious free-range eggs in the middle.


Just use the spatula to make a part in the mixture. and drop the egg in that space.  I am soooo very lucky that a lady I work with has free-range chickens.  The eggs I buy from her are large and the yolks have that rich orangey yellow color.  I am fortunate.

Once I had a few asparagus stalks and a lone zucchini - that one was a good combination.  Sprinkle some Parmesan on it and you are ready to roll.  You could even drink a glass of white wine with this meal.....just sayin'.

Linking up with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.


Monday, May 01, 2017

Turtles, Books, Social Media and Retirement

OK, a new week and a few changes for me.  For starters, this is my first day of retirement and working on the D.R.O.P  which means I can save money but still earn a salary.  I have to come in to work but somehow....I am calmer.  Just thinking of all the plans we can make once we leave the workforce for good makes for happy thoughts.  Anticipation.

Soft Shell Turtle   / We saw this turtle at the park. I have never seen a soft shell turtle and it was a sight to behold. What a prehistoric looking creature. Looks like it could deliver a mean bite too so....I stayed clear of the head.


 To give you an idea how large this thing is - compare to our 33 pound shiba inu Aja.
It walked under the fence, took a dive off a cliff and then waded into the water.


Social Media / Holy cow....I had recently gone back to it....thought I might try going back on Facebook.  Something I swore I wouldn't do again.  My Wordfeud buddy Stacy told me the politics could be irritating but I had no idea how right she was.  Basically I baby-stepped into FB following only 3 pages and well..... rather than rabbit on about it just let me say I quickly deactivated.  So, no social media for me and don't be offended if I dropped off the grid on all of them (Instagram and Twitter included).  My two blogs will be all the SM I can handle.

Food and Drink / We honestly don't have crab cakes all the time.  We certainly don't have champagne all the time either but we had both during our recent vacation.  Tonight, since it's my retirement day (and we celebrate even the smallest of events) we'll have a sparkler and seafood.   Hopefully we can dine outdoors but the rain chances are high.  We'll see.


Speaking of seafood, this beauty of a Grilled Grouper sandwich was had on a recent ride to Mad Anthony's in Panacea.  Good weather is forecast for this upcoming weekend and I hope we take a long ride.


On the upcoming menu I'm planning Tangerine Scallops, Broccoli and Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese and Enchiladas.

Books / I finished Out of Time by Deborah Truscott and In the Dark Places by Peter Robinson.  Just started Robinson's last book When the Music's Over and then......I will be caught up on the DCI Banks series until his next publication.

when the Music is

That's it for now.  We have a good dinner planned and I am looking forward to it immensely.  Hoping to update the book blog this week too.  Thanks for your kind comments on both sites.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

A lesson learned about putting a gas cap on crooked.
{Plus a lovely Grilled Chicken Salad}

I want to share the salad first and then I will tell you a story. This is a wonderfully filling grilled chicken salad I had at Beef O'Brady's restaurant in Tallahassee. I had set out to get pizza for lunch but couldn't quite get a car buying deal to move as smoothly as I (naively) thought it would.

As the hours passed I revised my plan.  Beef O'Brady's restaurant was the closest thing to the Tax Collector's Office.
So guess what......


It was a good lunch and I had Doug and Tristan with me so I had good company as well.  The salad options were plentiful and I have to admit vacillating between a salad and a sandwich.  The burgers looked good too but the healthy aspects and lightness of a salad appealed.

OK, so here's the story.  This is news you can use (if you aren't already aware of this info).  I wanted to buy a used vehicle and loan it to our son.  This would give him the ability to find work and get the granddaughter into day care.  A 2007 Subaru Forester was acquired for a reasonable price.

This is not THE car but a photo I snagged off the Internet.  It is white and looks quite a bit like this one.  It's basically my car.  I bought it and the title is my name but I am loaning it out indefinitely.


So the money is exchanged, I get the title of the vehicle and head off to the tag office.  I actually had the tag from my old Scion xB (here is the Scion story) and hoped to use it, transfer the tag.  When I get there they ask if I brought the Forester in so they could verify the VIN.
That's a big, fat No.  Can't  attach the tag from the Scion because it's registered to another vehicle and attaching it to this car would be a felony.

I was instructed to call a police officer to meet me where we left the Forester and have the officer verify the VIN.  They gave me this long form the officer would fill out, then I bring it back to the tag office.  By the way, this is after waiting for a half hour at the tag office to begin with.  Then we decided to get lunch immediately.  Hence the salad.

Back we go to call the police, he fills out the form, I call and get insurance and arrange for proof to be faxed to the tag office.  Drive back to the tag office.

We wait, not as long this time, and the lady who "helps" me this time is awful.  She looks at the form and says it was altered so I can't use it.  The officer wrote his badge number on the line above, crossed it out and wrote his badge number on the correct line.  Are you kidding me?!  

The VIN wasn't altered, the signatures weren't altered....it was clearly a mistake by the officer and not a big mistake at that.  {deep sigh}

I asked if she would check with her supervisor and after deliberation, she decided it would be OK to accept the form. Oh. My.  You know what that was......it was a county worker knowing they have that little bit of control over someone.  The power to make you jump thorough hoops.  She took her time staring at the form  and giving the OK.

So, now I own a little Forester.

Here is the next lesson.

If you screw your gas cap on crooked the Check Engine light will eventually come on.  This in turn shuts down the ability to use cruise control.  I didn't know this....it's written on the gas cap.  See photo below of our gas cap.


Have you ever heard of such a thing?  Honestly, in all the years driving I never noticed that warning.  My husband's boss checked her car (a Mercedes) and that warning is on her gas cap too.  Tristan checked their Nissan Rogue and the warning is there.

Now that the Check Engine light is on the cruise doesn't work and now the AC isn't blowing as hard nor is very cold,  Tristan is going to take it to the seller tomorrow and he said he could reset the engine code.  (He's a mechanic).


1)  If you buy a car outright and have the title, plan on extra time at the tag office.

2) If something incidental is screwed up on a VIN identification form, politely ask if a supervisor could weigh in.

3) Always screw on your gas cap correctly being sure you have a reliable seal.  Read HERE about why this is important.

So....that's my story.  I'll be sure to update about the vehicle after the Check Engine Light is reset.  Hopefully we will have cruise control and AC again!

 Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday Series.

. SouperSundays

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Turkey Wrap

It's Sunday. Vacation is almost over....so sad. We always take the Monday off following a vacation because it's just easier to glide into the work week on a Tuesday. I don't know why that is but it works for us.

We enjoyed a variety of naughty foods and drinks while we were off but it's time to get back to healthier eating. Many of our vacay meals were fairly healthy, I must add, such as grilled fish and raw oysters but there was the indulgence of 2 bottles of champagne and several bottles of Chardonnay, red blends, a few cocktails and beer. Plus the aforementioned post listing of JalapeƱo poppers, and chips and salsa and peach tarts.....yeah, like that.

So on Saturday, instead of a cheeseburger, I selected a turkey wrap stuffed with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, sweet peppers and light Italian dressing. It's never a hardship for me to eat a wrap, I love 'em.


As you can see this one was packed. By the end of the second half I was just picking out the veggies and eating them as I was getting too full to continue eating the tortilla. Whew.....glad I didn't order the corn nuggets as I had originally planned.


After lunch we took a short ride down a shady canopied road. Great weather and cool temperatures, we hated to come home but we still had to get some shopping done. I also needed a haircut, getting shaggy and I suppose I will play dress up and pretend I am an adult and get back to work.

Once we leave the workforce I assure you my "uniform" will be shorts, jeans, t-shirts, boots and sandals .....weather dependent on those choices.

Healthy meal plans coming up and a switch back to gluten-free soon. Doug needs to get off the Prilosec for a while and interesting enough, he doesn't have the heartburn issues when we eliminate gluten.

Hope your week is shaping up well and weather is good for anyone reading this.

Linking up with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday. Linkup is Here


Thursday, April 20, 2017

A last Vacation before retirement
St George Island and lots of food and drink!

When you tell people you are retiring most people think you are leaving the work force.  That's a valid assumption.  I am a Government Drone in Florida and we have this program called D.R.O.P.  This means I actually retire on May 1st  but continue to work in my same position and receive my same salary.  My retirement check isn't paid to me, it is invested.  So this is a good deal for folks who want to work a little longer for benefits and saving for cool trips.  Or land somewhere.  Or whatever you want. I am planning to participate in this program for 2 or 3 years maximum. Then it's gone-gone for retirement.

Participating in this program means you cash out your leave time.  For the last of my leave time we are spending a week having fun. We stayed at a condo on St George Island for the last several days. Oh bliss.  Seafood, sea breezes and relaxation.

Our first night in the condo we stayed in and I prepared this old favorite, North African Couscous with shrimp.  Our elderly dog isn't a fan of change and we decided we best stay in and keep her company.  So I made this (below).  It went well with Dreaming Tree Chardonnay and freshly sliced avocado.  Everyone was happy.


Sunday we drove to Apalachicola for a lunch and to get supplies.  We forgot it was Easter and so many places were closed.  That was a bit of a drag as we wanted to get Coconut patties and eat at this one particular restaurant.  We did find Boss Oyster open and had enormous raw oysters and a grouper sandwich.

Take a look at these oysters.  So fat and salty, you will need to floss afterwards!

IMG_9394 IMG_9395

On a walk down the beach we saw this large Blue Heron wading about in the water. Then we saw another one, begging off a man fishing.


 The fisherman said he caught some pompano but when he caught smaller fish he'd toss it to the heron.  What a beautiful beggar.


 Doug was able to get very close to snap photos of this beauty.


Someone with talent built this sandcastle, complete with a moat and turrets and designs.


When we had our last night's dinner on the island we ate at The Blue Parrot.  Doug had a grouper fillet stuffed with crab meat and I had large shrimp stuffed with crab meat.  Incredibly good.  So were the cocktails - a Rum Runner for him and a Mai Tai for me.


Ok....see this cat?  He lived on the deck, I guess.  He would make his rounds to the tables and stare.  He was picky too.  Wouldn't eat a hush puppy or baked potato.  He did accept a small offering of shrimp.  He looked like he needed medical attention and you know his diet isn't good.
 But, there he is.


Right....we also went to The Blue Parrot for appetizers one afternoon and took Aja.  Jalapeno Poppers and beer.  And no, I am not wondering why I gained a few pounds :-)


B.J.'s Pizza is excellent pizza.  I know someone from work who gets one when she visits the island and takes it home, despite a 2 hour drive and it being, obviously, cold.  Great pizza.  We took that back to the condo and watched The Huntsman.  Not a great movie but the pizza was good and so was the Dreaming Tree Crush.


 Island life...I think we could adapt to it. It was very pleasant sitting on our tiny deck and listening to the surf, sipping a drink and enjoying the sea breeze.


A view of the lighthouse.


We enjoyed quite a few walks on the boardwalk and on the shore but Aja was sure ready to head home.

Great start to the vacation, we thoroughly enjoyed it.  The rest of the time we will plan a motorcycle ride and hopefully go to target practice.  Goodbye beach!


 Linking up to Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series since I shared so many food photos.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sesame Noodles with Tofu, Scallions and Cashews

America's Test Kitchen has done it again. Another winner. Before anyone clicks away because you see the word Tofu just think about substituting chicken.  If you really hate tofu.....just sayin'  :-)

But if you are a fan of ATK then you will know they don't steer you wrong.  It might be fun to work in that type environment.  Taking different approaches to cooking a recipe and finding just the right combo of flavors, temperatures and cooking times.

(I did not make the Spring rolls.  Store bought on that count)


This is easy to put together and definitely another weeknight quickie supper. Most of it is prepared in the same pan so there wasn't too much washing up to do.  If you like Lo Mein you will like this.


Here are some of the ingredients I used...........


Sesame Noodles with Tofu, Scallions and Cashews

14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into ¾-inch cubes
¼ cup tahini
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Asian chili-garlic sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound fresh Chinese noodles or 12 ounces dried linguine
Salt and pepper
4 green onions, sliced thin (divided)
½ cup raw cashews, toasted and chopped


Spread tofu out in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and let drain 10 minutes.
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil.

In a bowl, whisk together tahini, vinegar, oyster sauce, chili-garlic sauce, ginger and soy sauce.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over high heat until shimmering. Add tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add noodles and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. (I cooked them longer!)

Reserve 1 ½ cups cooking water, then drain noodles and return them to the pot. Whisk tahini mixture to recombine.

Add tahini mixture, tofu, half of the green onions and ¾ cup cooking water to pot and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add remaining cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve immediately, topped with cashews and remaining green onions.

Linking up with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Tomato, Mozzarella and Avocado Salad from Mary Berry's Cookbook

Do you make use of your local library?  I sure do and it has saved us money with all the books, CDs and movies we have checked out.

One of the books I recently checked out is Cooking with Mary Berry.  I first heard about this book at Katherine’s site.  Check out her review and lasagna at I Wish I Lived in a Library.


To quote from Katherine’s review:  
"From the very first time I watched The Great British Bake Off (or The Great British Baking Show as American PBS seems to call it) I adored Mary Berry.   She seems so nice and she says things like "scrummy" and always seems to be delighted when people do well and so sad and sympathetic when they do poorly."

Mary sounds like a nice lady.  So different from an American cook off show I had seen in the past.

It’s times like this that I have a twinge about what I am missing on TV.  This sounds like something I would watch and when I saw the nice comments about the show I wondered if I could get it on DVD.  Sometimes you can request a series from the library but I’m not sure this one would be available.

That’s not to say I miss spending $100 or so to have Satellite!  I don't think we will go back to that but who knows if change our mind when we retire. I sure look forward to that.   


Anyway, I very much enjoyed looking through this book and found many recipes I would prepare.  Since we are getting into warmer weather here  I chose a simple Tomato, Mozzarella and Avocado salad.  It was wonderful, absolutely bursting with flavor as well as pretty to gaze upon.  There are many more recipes from this book I want to try so they will be popping up now and again. 


I wanted to give a shout out to Katherine for alerting me about this gem.


Here is the simple "recipe" for this salad.

Thinly slice a Beefsteak tomato and some Mozzarella.  Layer the tomato on a plate then add Mozzarella slices. Cut an avocado, pull the pit out and gently pull the skin off.  Now cut avocado slices and layer on top of the tomato and cheese.

Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the avocado to prevent browning.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil.

Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday


One more look ...........