Birthday dinner - Crab cakes, cheese grits, champagne and a lovely evening!

Friday was Doug's birthday.  On birthdays we enjoy a good meal and plan a few fun activities.  The weather has improved (no storms !) but was a bit too hot to eat outside.  It's always nice when you can sit on the patio and eat, watch the birds and foxes.


As always, the birthday person plans the dinner the menu.  We are both a fan of crab cakes so this was the indulgence. They are rich and you shouldn't have them too often.

These are easy to put together and a treat to enjoy with cheese grits. The recipe for the crab cakes may be found HERE.  They are tried and true, never let me down. Great with cheese grits.

The cheese grits are a specialty of Doug's and he has them on the table in 5 minutes.   Lots of cheddar, ooey gooey melty cheese grits.

For an accompaniment I made a tomato, cucumber and avocado salad.


Let's not forget the remoulade sauce.  It's rich too but I have to say, a sip of champagne after a bite of crab and sauce is wonderful marriage. The Piper Heidsieck is an extra dry, something we don't see too often at the grocery store.

Early Sunday we were able to take a short ride and get lunch at a rural diner called The Apalachee.  I love rural dining establishments....simple country food like fried chicken and greens and dressing.

So, two good meals, a ride in the country and spending time together.  If the skies were clear and it wasn't so awfully hot in the evenings he would have taken a telescope out too.

Overall a nice birthday weekend. I sure enjoyed it!

Sharing with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday event.  Check out her link HERE

Lasagna Skillet - You won't believe how easy this is!

So......we are all alive and well.  Feeling quite fortunate that Hurricane Irma didn't smack us as hard as we thought she might.  If you'd like to read about our hurricane prep check it out HERE (I have a good 15 Bean Soup there and links).

While this photo doesn't show you how luscious this skillet meal was.....believe me, it's a keeper.  I didn't have cherry tomatoes so I used the vine ripe ones we had.  This baby is packed with corn too and lots of cottage cheese.

skillet lasagna

It calls for ricotta and I think I will use that next time but, trying to keep it healthier, I opted for cottage cheese this time.

Farmer's Market Skillet Lasagna
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini,  thinly sliced
  • 3 ears freshly shucked corn
  • 1 ½ lb cherry tomatoes, divided (I used vine ripe tomatoes this time)
  • ¼ cup basil, thinly sliced
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 8 oz lasagna noodles, broken into thirds (next time I will use 6 noodles)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (I used Cottage Cheese this time)
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella
  1. Heat oven to 450F. Halve 1 lb of the cherry tomatoes. Set aside.
  2. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the zucchini and corn. Saute until zucchini just starts to become tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in the halved cherry tomatoes and basil. Saute until starting to release their juices, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add the water, vegetable broth, and noodles to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until lasagna is tender and most of the water has evaporated, stirring every 5 minutes.
  4. Uncover and stir in the ricotta cheese. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  5. Top with dollops of the mozzarella cheese as well as the remaining cherry tomatoes. Place in the oven and bake until cheese is melted and beginning to brown and tomatoes start to blister. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I grabbed this recipe from Joanne at Eats Well with Others, original recipe may be found HERE

Linking up with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Hurricane Irma Prep

It's Sunday and I thought I would do a short update before we lose electricity. Hurricane Irma is on the way and while it's calm now, we are sure to get high winds and lots of rain. You can bet we will lose electricity sometime between late tonight and early Monday morning.

Here is a map updated 23 hours ago. Doug's brother and family are in Tampa so we are hoping the best for them.  It's the storm surge that will complicate things along with the high winds.  You are in our thoughts Gregg, Barb and Mia!


Since the storm was tracking along the east coast we didn't do all out planning as we should have. Once we realized it was tracking into the Gulf we started filling gallon pitchers and any other water container with water. Also froze several gallon bags with water so that's not only drinking water but ice packs. One case of bottled water is in reserve in the pantry.

I made bread, lots of bread, because good luck finding any on the shelves in the markets.


Also I soaked beans and made a 15 bean soup. This was something I have done for past storms, check out the recipe and post HERE. Only thing different this time is I didn't add any meat, it's strictly vegetarian. We have a good quantity of rice as well. Yellow rice, Basmati, Jasmine and plain old long grain. If need be, a few ladels of soup over a bowl of rice will sustain us for a while.


One of the meals I have planned is a lasagna skillet. I made it before and it's all done in a pan so this will work on the camp stove. I'd planned on posting this and sharing with Beth Fish Reads....later.

skillet lasagna

Now we will be gathering up loose items outside so they won't be projectiles.  Tristan, his daughter and their dogs will be joining us as they are in a mobile home.  Not safe to weather this storm out there.

That's all I have for now.  I probably won't post again until afterwards but might update Instagram if we have a cell signal out here in the boonies!

I will be joining Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series.

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Aja's dental day

Aja had to get her teeth cleaned on Thursday.   We worry about her being under anesthetics for too long as she's an old girl of 15 but she did very well.  The photo on the left is her enjoying the pre-anesthesia.  Probably humming  a Dire Straits tune, she's a big fan of Mark Knopfler.

The second photo captures her slowly waking up.  She came out of the anesthesia well but look at her!  She's a groggy old gal.  Aja needed 2 extractions as those teeth were loose.  That's a danger should a piece break off and she swallows it.



Much thanks to Breanne at Cumberland Animal Clinic for sending me those photos.  We love everyone at Cumberland and so does Aja.  If your pet pulls to get inside of your vet's office then you know it's a good place and they are well treated.

Here is some information about dental cleanings and why they are important, click HERE

Here is one of my favorite snaps of Aja, smiling and showing her pretty teeth. Yep, she's spoiled. As all pets should be :-)


Everyone is talking about Hurricane Irma's Wednesday.  Everyone is talking about Hurricane Irma around here.  With good reason though, this is a big bad storm and I certainly feel very sorry for folks in it's path.  I took this snap from the Weather Underground site.  This is the latest, as far as I know, as of  2:00.  You can see this was posted at 11:00 but they haven't updated yet.


Honestly I think a cold front is going to steadily push the storm eastward and hopefully into the Atlantic.  Go die there, Irma! Doug and I had already talked about leaving the area if it makes it into the Gulf-  especially if it's still a very strong storm.  Our home wouldn't withstand the storm surge or the strong winds so....we would leave.  But I remain hopeful as the track seems to be changing.

What we have experienced here is some underlying panic with people crowding the roads, raiding the grocery store shelves of canned goods, bottled water and long lines at the gas stations.  Some gas stations ran out of gas altogether.  We heard this morning that WalMart had water delivered at 3:00 and it was sold out almost immediately.

We bought a few gallon containers and will fill those with water if needed.  There were a few in our pantry as well. Also, we have some canned goods on hand and a camp stove with propane.  The grill is available and we have charcoal but all we ever grill anymore is fish.  Basically we are prepared to endure one of our regular Florida storms but we definitely don't have all the supplies we need for long term.  We will rectify that after all the commotion is over.

Here is a link a local news station published called Digital Disaster Kit list.  It's a handy list.

If things go as planned we only have 4 more years in the most.  Well, that's my update for now.  Hoping for a turn to the east with this storm track.

Asparagus with Parmesan: A Mary Berry recipe

September....already.  It's a month we hope will bring Fall temperatures and relief from the heat, the month we celebrate Doug's birthday and a month closer to our vacation.  Lots to look forward to here. I only have a few days to take off as I cashed my leave out last May but it will still be good to be off work.  Assuming we are all here....Hurricane Irma has a little worried.

Getting back to a schedule here and posting more about cooking and life events.
A while back Katherine posted HERE about Mary Berry's cookbook and I was intrigued.  Every once in awhile I will read a post about someone watching a particular show or, in this case, the Great British Bake-off.  When we had TV feed I liked watching Nigella Lawson's show and a few other cooking shows.

Anyway, after reading about Mary's book I checked it out of the library and prepared her tomato, avocado and mozzarella salad.  That was a hit and I have quite a few others marked to try.   This is another simple recipe - Asparagus with Parmesan.


We've had this asparagus with pan grilled honey-soy salmon and potato cakes.


Asparagus with Parmesan

1 1/4 pound asparagus
30 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
lemon wedges and flat leaf parsley to garnish

2 TB olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Trim the asparagus and toss the woody ends.  Make the marinade in a shallow dish.  Combine oil, vinegar, garlic and pinch of salt and pepper.

Roll the asparagus in the marinade and cover, marinating 15 minutes.
Next sprinkle the Parmesan on a plate.  Roll the asparagus in the cheese and arrange in a single layer in an ovenproof dish.

Pour remaining marinade over the asparagus and roast for 10 - 15 minutes until lightly browned and hot.  Garnish with lemon and parsley if you'd like.

I am sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.  Thanks to Katherine at I Wish I Lived in a Library for highlighting this book.  We are enjoying it.

What's up here..........
{Storms, Books, Scammer and Movies}

What's up here......

Homemade Indian Cuisine
I tried a Veggie Tikka Masala this past week and wow - it's a keeper. It made way too much but I can freeze some of it. I will post the recipe soon. It's vegetarian but you could add chicken if you wanted. tikka

Storms - Last night we had a big storm roll through.  We've been having quite a bit of rain but this one was accompanied by much lightning and thunder.  Naturally, our electricity went out.  It went out just before dinner was started so alternate plans had to be made.  Such a bummer.  We did end up lighting candles and sitting in the den with Aja, same as we do many evenings.  We had gin, tonic and only needed to raid the freezer for a quick moment to steal ice.

gandT   Only thing missing was music ....and air conditioning!  Fortunately Talquin Electric has fantastic customer service and by 11:00 we heard the guys out there in our field, shouting at one another and trying to find the problem.  You don't realize how much you take A/C for granted until it's out for hours.

Starbucks has screaming fast internet connections!
Having more time off lately we had just about used up our cellular data plan for the month.  So....since we had updates, I wanted to back up my phone/ tablet, use large amounts of data, etc. we went to Starbucks.  The coffee isn't fabulous but a cup of black tea is very good.  In my opinion.  The internet is screaming fast there too so all my updates were completed within an hour. 

While we were there, a woman came in sighing loudly, apparently frustrated stating she has been "stuck there" for over an hour.  She asked Doug is she could use his phone so she could call for a ride.  He acquiesced.  She called someone and spoke rapidly about being stuck, sighed some more and then hung up.  She then asks us if we could help her in any way, any help at all. We don't typically carry cash and something just seemed amiss anyway.

When she walked back outside Doug checked his call log - she made a 2 second call.  Evidently calling herself and hanging up because she talked to the air for a good minute.  Such a scammer - I get tired of so many people who won't take responsibility for their lives.  When I was a lazy teenager my Dad told me the world didn't owe me a living.  You had to work for things, earn them.  

I have enjoyed The Last Policeman by Ben Winters.  It's pre-apocalyptic and has a good story line.  While I could have wished for a better ending, it's good enough that I want to get the next book and read more about Detective Henry Palace.  
Also I enjoyed The Mountain Between Us and hope the movie is as good as the book.  Lots of sadness but a good story.  The same way The Light Between Oceans was good but sad.

And NOW, finally, I have the very latest DCI Banks book Sleeping in the Ground.  This will catch me up with the series.  It's written in real time so I do have concern about Banks getting will the author handle that, I wonder.

Movies - the best one we have watched so far has been Guardians of the Galaxy II.  Picking up a few new movies this weekend from the library but we had really looked forward to this one.


That's it....long post..........what is up in your world? I'd love to know what you are reading, cooking and looking forward to this September.


Robert Culbertson will be missed.....

I've been absent from my online journaling lately and sadly, not for good or fun reasons. My father-in-law died August 17th.  The head of the family, a good man who always had good advice, always offered support, was forever in search of knowledge and furthering his education in any subject he had an interest.

His obituary may be found HERE but the personal stories and remembrances could go on and on.

My husband spoke at Dad's memorial service, starting with "What can you say about a man who has been in your life and influenced you for 60 years...." many stories could be told and laughed and cried over.

I like this photo of him.  He is the handsome gentleman, second from left.  It was his daughter's wedding and everyone was happy, everyone was healthy and it was an all around good memory and time.


Pictured are his wife and two children with her and his two sons from his first marriage.  My handsome husband on the far right.  This was taken 7 years ago.

I wish I could write a memorial fitting to such force of nature as Bob Culbertson.  You will be missed by many.

Shrimp Paella and a Tomato Cucumber Salad from Beth Fish Reads

Am I ever glad it's Saturday! I want to put this past week behind us and head into the weekend with with positive things, good things.  If you had not read about the puppy abandonment experience yesterday, click here if interested.

Today lets talk about healthy semi-vegetarian fare.  I do have shrimp in this recipe but you may omit it or use tofu if you don't want seafood. Loved this quick little meal and it's so pretty.  Lots of colorful vegetables. Also, it was fairly quick to put together and this makes it a good weekday/workday meal.


A side dish was a cucumber, tomato and feta salad.  Another quick fix.  This recipe I borrowed from Beth Fish Reads, check it out HERE.  My version isn't as pretty but the salad was very good.


The recipe for Shortcut Shrimp Paella comes from Cooking Light.  I made some adaptions to the recipe but I usually use a recipe as a guideline. ( Fresh wild caught shrimp stars in this paella but you could use tofu or chicken thighs, whatever your preference. )

I used a Vigo yellow rice mix and cooked it with vegetable broth.  While that was cooking I sauteed 1 cup green and red bell pepper strips in a tiny bit of olive oil. Next toss in a few chopped garlic pieces, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric and a cup of frozen peas.  Season with ground sea salt, a few shakes of ground pepper and cilantro (if you like it).

Once the veggies are soft place a pound of shrimp on top and a little less than a 1/4 cup water.  Mix it and then cover.  The shrimp should cook in roughly 6 minutes so if you time it  right, the rice will be done at the same time.  That's perfect.

While the paella was cooking I started slicing tomatoes and cucumbers for the salad.  I'll put this on the meal rotation again for sure.

Sharing with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday event.  Check out her link HERE and join in if you are inclined. You'll find some good meals and book reviews over there :-)

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Birthday dinner - Crab cakes, cheese grits, champagne and a lovely evening!

Friday was Doug's birthday .  On birthdays we enjoy a good meal and plan a few fun activities.  The weather has improved (no storms !...