Monday, April 25, 2016

Bacon, Corn and Potato Chowder

I'm in Florida. Most of the year we have heat and humidity that makes us question why we don't move to a cooler locale ...but...if you have time invested at one place of employment linked to a retirement fund, that is the big decider on where to live. Can't just chuck it and move to Hawaii. So we get ourselves up, mostly on time, and drag ourselves in to work to make what we call "Bourbon and Bones Money."

Now that the whining about the heat is out of the way let me present a wonderfully rich bowl of soup. Yes, it would be better welcomed in the cool Fall months. Call me crazy but I love soup year round. No matter the temperature, I like a bowl of soup for lunch.

Look, I also made a fresh baguette to go with it.

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By the way, since you need to shave the corn off the cob and we all know those kernels fly off everywhere, here is a tip. Put the pointy end of the corn in a Bundt pan. Carefully shave the kernels off and they will collect in the Bundt pan. No flying pieces of corn.

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But please do be careful because I would hate to get an email telling me someone cut themselves badly. I don't always cut corn off this way but it's guaranteed you won't have a mess.

Here is a snap of everything merging and heating. It was quite lovely.

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Bacon, Corn and Potato Chowder
This is a Curtis Stone recipe and I adapted it for our taste.

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 tsp butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
2 sticks Celery, cut into small pieces
2 sprigs Thyme
2 tablespoons AP flour
1 cup Water
5 large potatoes. (Curtis called for Yukon Gold. I had baby red skinned so that's what I used), cut into small dice
1 cup broth
Almost 3 cups milk
4 cobs Sweet Corn, shave off the kernels
1 tbsp Parsley, roughly chopped

Directions

In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the butter then the onion and garlic and cook for about 4 minutes until the onion is soft.

Add the celery and thyme and cook for 4 minutes. Let the veggies get soft.

Now fold in the flour and stirring constantly, cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the broth and potato. Cook for 8 minutes, or until the potato is tender.

Add the milk and corn to the pan and increase the heat to medium high. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.
Once the soup has reached a rapid simmer, cook for 3 minutes or until the soup has thickened. Discard the thyme sprigs and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

If anyone else made soup or salad don't forget Deb in Hawaii has a linkup for her Souper Sunday. You don't have to post on Sunday.

Check out I ♥ Cooking Club and see what others served up. Also linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday and with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.
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SouperSundaysCurtis Stone Badge Resized


Thursday, April 21, 2016

♫ ♫ Looking out my back door ♫♫

When the weather is good we spend quite a bit of time on the porch. We like to sit out there reading while the dog bakes in the hot grassy yard. We like to sip coffee on weekend mornings, watching the birds vie for their place on the various feeders. Evenings we take our dinner plates out and eat, then have a cocktail, observing the change of guard in the bird world. The cardinals are always last to get a meal, fleeing before dusk, then if we’re lucky we hear owls moving in across the field. I love the back porch.

From firepit

Here is a view from where I sit. You can see the grill where Doug cooks our wings, fish, burgers and kebabs. Straight out are numerous azaleas, the pink one in full bloom this particular day. The old swing set our son enjoyed as a child has been re-purposed as a bird feeding station. To the left of that is our utility shed, not in the photo.

Sometime in the past few weeks I must have shot a hole through our shed. I’m a great aim, LOL.

azaleas

When you want to attract birds you also get unwanted vermin who steal the seed at every opportunity. This is why there is a hole in the shed. Shooting vermin on an almost daily basis resulted in collateral damage to the shed but fortunately nothing inside was damaged. I guess.

Speaking of grilling ......Recently Doug grilled these fabulous burgers. Nothing like good quality meat and fresh ingredients. I cut up fresh corn from the cob and served bourbon baked beans.

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Have you ever been walking, in your neighborhood, park or campground, and the scent of a charcoal fire hits you? That is one of the most wonderful aromas ever, in my humble opinion. Gas grills are quicker but the taste of anything cooked over a charcoal fire is absolutely amazing. And delicious.

Here is a blurry snap of the cheeseburger. Wish it had been clear but I was probably in a hurry to tuck into this juicy burger.

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While I am showing off the yard, check out these willowy shrimp plants we put in. This bee stayed the night attached to the flower and had to wait for the air to warm the next day before it could fly away. In fact, there were several bees attached to the shrimp plant blossoms. Not being one to court a sting I didn’t get too awfully close.

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That’s my garden & porch wool gathering for today.

bee

🍸🍸🐾🐾 🍸🍸🐾🐾 🍸🍸🐾🐾 🍸🍸🐾🐾
🍸🍸🐾🐾
🍸🍸🐾🐾🍸🍸

Monday, April 18, 2016

Orzo Salad with Tomato, Feta and Basil

There is something about a salad chock full of carbs, leafy greens, tangy feta cheese and fat grape tomatoes that commands attention. Here is another of Curtis Stone's recipes that we loved. So far he's batting a thousand and I am finding more and more to try from his website and cookbooks. So happy that I ♥ Cooking Club selected him as the resident chef for these next 6 months.

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The theme this week is Something to Eat on the Sofa so I am guessing you may do an eye roll or wonder, who eats salad on a sofa? Well, if we decide to watch a movie and move our trays out to the living room, it isn't always hand held foods such as pizza or quesadillas. Just sayin'

Here is a closeup of the magical, healthy and delicious star of the plate. We decided this would go into the meal rotations.

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Orzo Salad with Tomato, Feta and Basil

Salad:
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
3 cups (not packed) fresh baby spinach leaves
12 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons thinly sliced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, shallot, and garlic. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking to blend well. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Now grab a large bowl and toss the orzo, spinach, tomatoes, nuts, and parsley with enough of the vinaigrette to coat. Fold in the cheese. Season the salad to taste with salt and pepper.

You could mound the salad onto the center of a large platter, sprinkle with the chives, and serve. I just put it on the table and we served ourselves, grabbed as much as we wanted.

Check out I ♥ Cooking Club and see what others served up. Also linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday and with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.
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SouperSundaysCurtis Stone Badge Resized



Thursday, April 14, 2016

Homemade Soup

One thing is for sure........if I have bits leftover from a meal I will usually find a way to make use of it in soup or a casserole. Such is the case with this chicken and rice soup. Nothing planned but it turned out well and provided us with lunch for a few days.

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A few days ago I roasted a chicken with veggies for our dinner. Roasting a chicken is not a time intensive chore, well...98% of the time it isn't. We had been having a less than perfect day with Aja being ill so we went for comfort food and a quick dinner the evening of "the vet visit."

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Whenever I have a whole chicken for roasting there will be other meals from the leftovers. That was part of the goal.

There isn't a set recipe but I'll tell you what I used this time. Shredded cooked chicken, leftover rice, carrots, zucchini, celery, onions, garlic, corn and peas. Once that has mixed up I sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour over the mixture and stir gently. This forms a paste type mixture but the beauty is, once I slowly add milk and/or broth, it slowly thickens into a cream based soup.

If you prefer it thinner just keep adding broth. I tossed a tablespoon of butter in there too. Just for good measure.

By the way, Aja is doing much better and we don't even mind the dent in the bank account to get her on the road to good health. We love her awful.

ajaSleeping

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





Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A sick Shiba Inu and a Chicken Dinner

Sometimes little stressors poke a hole in your otherwise non-exciting life. You’ll be rolling along, planning a motorcycle ride or a nice dinner or a good dig in the garden and WHAM. Completely disrupts your plans.


aja111

One thing that happened 2 Sundays past was a backup from the septic system.. We had an incredible amount of rain which overloaded the pump to the septic tank. This in turn caused it to shut down, flooding our downstairs bathroom.

We were about to go on a long ride but had to cancel, go to Lowes and buy gloves, another mop, cleaning supplies, etc. OK, so that was unfortunate but it’s handled now. Life was rolling along fine again.

Next stressor: Worse than a septic system failure is having a beloved pet fall ill. Last Friday we arrived home to a seriously distressed old girl. Aja was having a great deal of difficulty trying to pee, evidently had an advanced infection which we were unaware of until we saw blood. We contacted our veterinarian and got good advice, something that saved us a bundle from after-hours emergency care.

We kept her comfortable with Previcox (we had some on hand) and arranged for her to see our vet first thing Saturday morning. The wallet is all that is stressing now, well….mostly……because we think it may be a bladder infection.


ajaSleeping

Just like we need to do for ourselves, you can’t get a good diagnosis without tests, X-rays, blood work and a through exam. People are usually shocked that veterinary care is so expensive because we can use an HMO or our health care and pay a $40 co-pay. Alas, we never did take out pet insurance for Aja so we just deal with it as it comes up. No $40 co-pays. But she’s our baby and we wouldn’t see her suffer when we can get her medical care.

bill

She is improving daily but not at her 100% energy level yet. If you have a pet you know they are family, you know the concern as you watch them in distress or worse, the heartache of losing one. She appears to be on the mend now.

So, yeah….it’s Saturday night and we spent the time at the vet’s office and didn’t get much else done that day. That’s where the roasted chicken comes in. It’s easy and you can change out the tastes and flavors by using so many different combos of ingredients. I just used what was on hand. We had a half bag of carrots left, fresh chard from the garden and three sweet potatoes.

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That made life easier. A throw together dinner that allowed us to both relax, watch out for Aja in case she needed to go out, and enjoy a decent meal an hour and half later.

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That’s my stressor story.




Wednesday, April 06, 2016

G'Day Curtis Stone!
I brought you Asparagus Parmesan Risotto

What a week! We took last Friday and Monday off to give us a long weekend. In addition to having fun - riding to Dothan, gardening and relaxing - we also had to deal with the horrific aftermath of too much rain. I mean lots and lots of rain. It came up on the patio and stayed there. It flooded out or septic system and we had a mess to deal with. But it was more fun stuff than nasty stuff so I consider us lucky.

So, talking about good things let me share a great recipe I discovered on Curtis Stone's website. I was not familiar with this Aussie chef until I checked out I ♥ Cooking Club. This is their first week cooking his recipes and they are hosting a welcoming party.

Behold out the fluffy pearly textures of Arborio rice. It was so nice to make. So relaxing to stand and stir, letting my mind drift off as I poured spoons of wine and broth in the mixture.

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This has some of our favorites - onions, garlic, white wine and lots of asparagus. You don't add the asparagus until near the end so it cooks just perfectly. Not too crispy, not too limp. It's just the perfect texture.

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I'm going to look into more of Stone's recipes since this one went so well. Here is the recipe. I hope you all are having a good week and good times in the kitchen!


Asparagus Parmesan Risotto

About 5 cups store-bought vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus, woody ends removed, stalks cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler, for garnish

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Method

Bring the vegetable stock to a simmer in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to very low and keep the stock on the heat.

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and thyme, and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the shallots are tender but not browned. Add the rice and sauté for 30 seconds to coat with the oil. Stir in the wine and cook for 3 minutes,or until it is absorbed.

Add 3/4 cup of the hot vegetable stock and cook, stirring constantly, until it has absorbed. Continue adding the hot stock, 3/4 cup at a time, stirring until each addition has been absorbed, for about 22 minutes, or until the rice is al dente (the center of each grain of rice should still be slightly firm).

Add the asparagus and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Discard the thyme stems (the thyme leaves should have fallen off the stems and into the risotto). Remove the risotto from the heat, and add the butter, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mascarpone cheese. Stir until the butter has melted. Stir in the parsley, mint, and lemon juice, and season the risotto generously with salt and pepper.

Divide the risotto among 4 warmed serving bowls. Garnish with the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve.

Recipe may also be found HERE at Curtis Stone's website.

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

Curtis Stone Badge Resized

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nigella's Cole Slaw and dining on the patio

If this weather holds out I will be very happy. It’s not too hot, certainly not cold and the rain has lessened (for a few days). This means we can finally eat dinner on the patio without needing coats. We can turn on the little colored lights that border the back of the house and watch the cardinals and finches get their last meal of the day before dusk. Grilled foods are now a regular for months to come.

Doug grills the very best wings, crispy skin yet retaining moistness. Whenever he grills wings I make Nigella Lawson’s version of cole slaw.

slaw

These are a natural together and the slaw is so easy to prepare. I don’t think I have ever had buttermilk in the house when I undertake the slaw process but no worries – just add a few teaspoons of white vinegar to a ¼ cup of milk. After it sits it’s remarkably thick, you’d never know it wasn’t true buttermilk, unless you are a buttermilk connoisseur.

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This is from Nigella Express, one of my very favorite cookbooks. I use this cookbook and recipe so much the pages are water stained.


New Orleans Cole Slaw

1 head of white cabbage, weighing about 2 pounds before trimming
2 carrots
2 sticks celery
4 scallions
1 cup best quality, preferably organic, store-bought mayonnaise
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) buttermilk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup pecans, fairly finely chopped


Directions
Trim and shred the cabbage; you can do this either by hand or with a food processor.

Peel and grate the carrots, and finely slice the celery and scallions.

Whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, maple syrup and vinegar and coat the shredded vegetables with this dressing.

Season with salt and pepper and toss with the chopped nuts.

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



Monday, March 28, 2016

Stream of Consciousness

Finally the pollen is clearing up here in North Florida. It must have been the deluge of rain we received over a 72 hour period. Seriously, our back porch area had a moat for hours over the weekend. The ground couldn’t absorb the rain as fast as it was falling. On the plus side of that, I am breathing again. Doug cut the grass a week ago and the yellow powdery pollen was floating everywhere. I’m sure that’s where I got a snoot full of the horrid stuff.

All the rain has the back yard looking fairly well....lots of blossoms on the azaleas


I recently finished Tana French’s book Broken Harbor, very much enjoyed it. I would read anything she wrote. Well, I saw her fifth book was on sale at Amazon for the Kindle price of $7.99 so I bought it. Right now I am savoring the fact that I own it and finishing All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith. Then it’s back to police procedurals. I am giving Doug a chance to read it first if he wants, but will get to it soon as I await French's next book, The Trespasser.


What is up with Instagram? If anyone reads this and knows what they are doing with the photo stream please clue me in. By the way, I deactivated my accounts with Twitter and Pinterest - I have not “dumped” anyone, I have dumped those social media accounts, that’s all. But Instagram still has my attention if I can figure out what the fuss is about push notifications, Anyone?

This is from Pumpkin the Raccoon's account on instragram. I love following him.


The garden looks good, for a small garden. We harvested baby broccoli and now realize we need to plant full sized broccoli. The baby variety yielded good stating flowerettes but it wasn't enough. Will write that down for next year's plan. The Chard looks amazing and so far the tomatoes are doing well. Doug saw a few formed strawberries so we’ll see if we can get any before the birds or rabbits eat their share.

We haven’t had any wine since October. How about that….it just happened while I was ill with a cold. I didn’t want anything but orange juice and tea. Doug made me a bourbon and honey to help my throat and I enjoyed it. Then he got a cold. So after a month we were both off wine and hadn’t wanted the foggy old head that comes with over indulgence. Just thought I’d mention that.

So, that’s about it here. Looking forward to Spring weather and riding on the trike to find good local chow, take photos and have fun. Hope all is well in your world. Let me know about Instagram if you know what’s up.