Month: May 2012

Makin’ Hay III – Bride of Straw Bale

Building a Better Monster… You know in the Frankenstein franchise where  the good doctor tried to fix all those iggy little problems with bolt head, and made a beautiful wife for him…? Well…I did the same thing to the straw bale garden this year… and consequently, got more than I bargained for. **Note: I wont be going into the Straw Bale Gardening set up this time – If you would like the instructions to create your very own hay bale garden – Click HERE and get the preparation instructions for the bales. You can also search Hay on the site and get all the previous years gardening updates and outcomes. Timing ended up being my big issue. I expected to be complete with the renovations by the 1st of May, and now at the end of the month, I’m still not finished. There is  still a couple of loads of gravel to haul and spread… a potting shed to construct… and the last of the bed retainers. I think I’ll be through by September at this …

Simple Dinner Sunday – All up in your grill…

It’s the Memorial Weekend and I’d be remiss if I didn’t have a grillin’ thang or two to add to the backyard hoo haa. And since I’m not going to be doing the cooking tomorrow.. you get it today. And, since I kinda lean that way anyway, it’s a couple of stupid simple dishes from the Asian inspired side of the road: Sweet Chili Pork Blades and a Quick Griddle Kale Stir Fry Okay, I say simple – and I mean it. So that means I’m pulling together a couple of bottled and canned things to speed up the process. 1st, you’re going to need a bottle of this: Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Yes, I can make it myself.. and you probably can too – but why bother. You aren’t going to make it as good as what comes bottled up for your enjoyment, and remember.. we’re doing things quick today. Do make sure you find the sauce with the shredded carrots and turnip in it… if you can. (Hint… this one has it.) Right then, …

Say Cheese…

I’m a pretty big cheese whore. I mean – I can tear through a block of cheese like nobody’s business. I love those deep complex flavors. Which is probably why I never really cared much for cream cheese, cream cheese frosting… or cheesecake for that matter. It’s like  munching on a pile of milk flavored Crisco… and that just isn’t appetizing. Add to that – Jane’s zero tolerance for lactose – cream cheese has no place in this house. We had a hankering for carrot cake this week, and while I could have used the Tofutti Soy Cream Cheese for the frosting – I wanted something with a little more taste to it. Don’t get me wrong, the Tofutti product are a passable substitute for dairy… texture-wise, but they lack severely in the taste department. And, if I’m going  to go through the trouble to make a cheese frosting – I don’t want it to taste like sweetened tofu. You’ve seen me write about Cabot’s Cheeses before. Their Extra Sharp and Seriously Sharp Cheddar are are …

Altered States

Before you go and get all self righteous on me about overly processed, preservative laden canned goods… Yes, I used readi-mades – occasionally. Why? Because they can be particularly handy, and because not everyone has the time, talent and ability to do everything from scratch – but everyone has the right and duty to serve their family something more than just microwaving a pizza. I like to show that canned goods are just as good of a jumping off point as fresh ingredients…. in some things. I’m a sucker (with a capital G) for those tubed sweet rolls. The gooey cinnamon rolls are good, but I especially loved the orange ones as a kid. Maybe it’s because my taste hadn’t changed, maybe it was because they were always waiting on me at the breakfast table when my dad didn’t really feel like cooking breakfast, maybe it was because it was my job to squeeze the little pouch of overly orange flavored icing over the still-warm-from-the-oven pan. Whatever the reason, I still crave them today. Unfortunately, they don’t taste like they …

Apple and Currant Cream Tart

My life is full of apple memories. I remember watching mesmerized as my granddad, equipped with his trusty pocket knife, cut artful, seamless spirals of apple peel sitting in his chair… My father taking huge cheek bulging half-apple bites out of his Saturday yard work snack apple… My brothers and I carefully picking our way through the crab apple tangles near the house, trying to reach that elusive, less insanely puckering fruit near the top of the tree… Eating the oddly confusing pear-apples (looks like an apple – textured like a pear – tastes like nothing) that grew in my grandfather’s unattended orchard… Busting my lip during my one and only apple bob… My first fresh squeezed apple cider at some mountain festival as a child… Some kid from grammar school blowing half-chewed apple in my face… I still don’t remember why… Endlessly feeding green apples to a mule… It’s no surprise I gravitate to the local apple barns and decorative displays at the market. The other week out shopping with Jane, I’m always trying …

Mixed Paella

Admittedly, I was going to go all Martha on you all and tag this a Simple Dinner Sunday, but my conscience just wouldn’t let me. Point In fact, there’s nothing simple about good paella. True, you can buy one of those “yellow rice” tubes, toss in a chicken breast and a package of that mixed seafood you find at the back of the freezer cabinet – but why bother. Sometimes, taking a shortcut is as believable as opening a can of Chef Boyardee and telling your family “Look, I made ravioli!”. Although I have been to several Atlanta restaurants that appear to have done just that…. um, the yellow rice thing… not the canned ravioli. When I started researching the paella, I knew I wanted more depth of flavor that saffron and garlic alone were going to give. I stumbled on an old recipe for the broth that I liked – but not the rest of the preparation. I decided to keep the broth and tweaked it a bit. The chicken marinade is my own creation …

Another Mother Further

There is no other to compare to you You’ve got me blindly givin’ all that I have to you   You’ve shown me feelings that I – I’d never find   But those feelings ain’t complete when you’re not here all the time…   Leon Moore – Baby Love,  Mother’s Finest   Yes.. it’s that day again – we set them high upon that well deserved pedestal and give them all we’ve got. And we do it will all the gratitude and love we can pull from the deepest depths of depth of our ever-loving souls.. ‘Cause – let’s face it, without their love, tolerance and belly distorting sacrifice, we just wouldn’t be here. Now, after the eating is done – I’ll admit that as of Wednesday, I still had no idea what I was making for Mother’s Day… I was thinking “easy way out – Pot Roast”, but with our current UnFun diet, I wasn’t really going to be able to make it a great roast, and  calorie-wise, there wouldn’t be anything else on the plate. So I pony-ed up …

Something Fishy Afoot…

Sole I’m picky about my fish. I want it fresh, I want it firm, and I want it to have it’s own distinctive flavor. Which is why I never really liked flounder or sole. Bland and just a textural desert. Although I did get a hoot out of gigging for them in Savannah even if the point really wasn’t catching them but rather skulking around the marshes in a flat-bottomed boat,  getting stinking drunk on cheap wine out of a box. Ah… the joys of a misspent youth. Tilapia Come to think of it, you’ll probably never see a post containing tilapia either… but for different reasons altogether. Sustainable or not, I can’t bring myself to eat it – a weird-assed texture and an odor (not aroma)  that’s something from the bottom of a long uncleaned goldfish aquarium… it’s just nasty – and no amount of positive spin on it is going to make me like it any better. King Salmon However, I do love me some salmon… as long as it’s wild. And as a …

The morel at the bottom of the bag…

I’m. Not. Happy. That’s sort of been the theme here at Turtle Creek for the past 9 months or so. Think of it as a pregnancy, only there’s no giggling little bundle of joy at the end of the turmoil…. just two people that are getting very tired of each other’s constant company. I haven’t talked a lot about it because it’s family, but generally  if you’ve been following along these months – you would have noticed the change in the tone of the posts. To bring you up to date: Back in July, Jane had a heart attack and a mild stroke as a result of the first procedure. As operations go (it was a multiple stent thingy) it was fairly easy. In for a couple of hours – slide in the tiny mesh things and out… easy peasy. Then there was the stroke, and an alarming drop in her vitals, and eight stressful days in CCU trying to get her lucid… only to go back in and repeat the whole exercise 2 months …