Friday, March 31, 2017

Brunch Is Served!

About 12:30 this morning we were awakened by a distinct "WOOF" nearby (or would have been awakened if the sandman had already sprinkled us with dream dust). We looked out and didn't see anything. There it was again, louder-WOOF, and now we find it is coming from our front yard beneath the Dogwood. 

We see a large dog standing there and we recognized him as one we've seen around before. He is friendly and we always fear for him running loose. There was another dog crouched down on the ground like he had something he was guarding. He did! At first we were afraid he had another animal. 

Thankfully not, however he had snatched the suet feeder out of the tree. It is a plastic-coated wire container with a block of suet bird food. Yum, every dog's favorite midnight snack, right? He was barking and growling, seemingly daring the other dog to try and take it. The friendly dog was just standing there watching and thinking, "Yeah, I'm never getting any of that, and here I am standing guard. That's just selfish!"

This is where the feeder had been hanging since the first of the year. Never would I have imagined that dogs would go after my bird feeder. Squirrels yes, dogs no.

We needed more food for the birdies, so we got what we found at Walmart and it was a different brand and mixture of fat and seed. Apparently this had more aroma than the previous ones. 

After it was cleaned up and reassembled, we relocated it. It is now more than a foot above my head. The picture doesn't show it well, but it is a fair bit higher than before. I suspect there is one dog in the neighborhood that isn't feeling too well this morning, so if your dog has a case of the...well you know, I'd be happy to tell you how it happened.

Note to my birds: Sorry you didn't have any breakfast here this morning. How about some brunch?

It is a simple feeder and an inexpensive way to start feeding the seed-eating birds in your yard. The feeders are a couple bucks and the food is less than a dollar at Walmart.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Love It or Hate It?

I hold to the firm belief that letters belong in literature, not mathematics. 
― J. Spredemann

As a kid, I did well enough in school in all subjects except math. That was my Achilles heel. I did okay until the sixth grade and that was the beginning of my downfall with the onset of what they called "new math" whatever that was. They tried to teach me things like Base 8 and Base 10. I still have no idea what those are or who uses them and why...maybe Charlie on Numbers. Anyone watch that?

Who knew numbers could solve so many problems, even crime? What is the statistical probability that the suspect took bus #25 into town on Friday night, picked up the paper at a news stand, then walked 14 blocks to an alley behind the pawn shop on 12th Street to commit his nefarious act and return home by the nightly news? I'm sure there is an app algorithm for that.

And then came Algebra... I never did figure that stuff out. This can cooler is spot on and sums up my thoughts on that subject perfectly.

Available at Dollar math required!

Anyway, decades later my math skills consist of the basics, with a few percentages thrown in to calculate savings. I've come clean about my lack of Mathematics skills. What about you? Love it or hate it?

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Homemade Shrimp and Grits

Hi there! Time to get back into action. It is a cold, windy day in the sunny South. After having a very mild, Spring-like February, Winter roared back with a vengeance, dropping the overnight lows into the 20's and even dropping snow in some areas over the past weekend.

This seems like the perfect time to pull out some long neglected cold weather comfort food. While I'm not a great fan of grits, hubby and I both like shrimp and grits. He has tried them in just about every restaurant that has them on the menu, so I decided I should make some myself. After all what's hard about making grits?

Image Source: Todd Sanders
The only required ingredients are, of course, the shrimp (any size is fine) and grits, again any style you like will work. Next you decide on your liquid. There are as many different recipes as there are folks making them. You can use just plain water, or chicken, vegetable or shrimp stock, which can be combined with anything from skim milk to heavy cream, but the use of dairy is not required.

Next comes your choice of cheese such as cheddar, parmigiano reggiano, gruyere or whatever you enjoy. If you don't like cheese, don't add it.

In addition to the shrimp, there is often another protein such as Tasso or spicy sausage. The remaining add-ins/add-ons may include garlic, onions, parsley and green onions.

Now we get down to how I made shrimp and grits for two.

10 extra large (16-22 ct.) shrimp, cut into thirds
1 link Andouille sausage, diced
2 cups water (I simmered the shrimp shells)
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cups quick cooking grits (let me assure this is anything but a quick recipe)
1 cup shredded cheese (combination of sharp cheddar and habanero cheddar)
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TB olive oil
1 TB butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cajun seasoning

Bring the water and milk to a boil and add the grits and salt, then reduce the heat, stirring frequently.

While the grits are cooking, add the olive oil to a skillet and brown the sausage, then add the onions, letting them soften before adding the garlic. After about 5 minutes, add the shrimp and Cajun seasoning and cook for about 5 minutes, more or less depending on the size of your shrimp. Add the 1/4 cup of water to deglaze the pan, then add the butter, cover and keep warm.

When the grits are cooked to the texture and/or consistency you desire, it's time to stir in the cheese. Serve in a bowl or soup plate and spoon the shrimp and sausage mixture on top.

Serves two. Total prep and cooking time about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

As I mentioned, this is not a quick-fix meal. The grits alone took well over 45 minutes to cook and even then they were not as thick as they are when I just use water. Also, use a heavy bottom pot because using milk seems to make them stick to the bottom. Perhaps it was a combination of my lightweight pot and my stove, but they required almost constant stirring.

I also chose to cut my shrimp, but leaving them whole makes for a prettier presentation. 

I congratulate my sou chef for helping bring the meal together. We both agreed that we will be doing this again, with a few adjustments. I may change up the liquids and ratios, and use wine instead of water to deglaze the pan.

Sadly, I have no picture of our tasty creation because after the extended wait for dinner, we plated and ate, so I borrowed an image found online.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Open That Bottle Night

Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures - Michael Broadbent

It seems we are on a wine theme this month. We started with National Drink Wine Day last Saturday. Now we are moving on to Open That Bottle Night on Saturday February 25. This coincides with our Cheers gathering this month. Our group epitomizes today's quote. We have been getting together most months for ten years. We share good wine, good food and most importantly good company. It's a civilized pleasure I hope will continue for many years.

Now a little more about Open That Bottle Night. It is always the last Saturday in February. It was originated by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher of the Wall Street Journal in 2000 and has been celebrated every year since. 

How will you celebrate?

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

National Drink Wine Day

It seems that now there is a day for everything. In fact, there are more events than there are days in the year, and today is National Drink Wine Day, as if we need a designated day to consume the fruit of the vine.

We're Ready
If you don't get to celebrate today, however, you still have 19 more chances. There is at least one official wine day each month except January. I don't know what January did wrong, but I didn't find a single day devoted to wine. All right wine lovers, I guess we'll have to make one up.

Check these out...there is something for everyone!

February 25 Open That Bottle Night
March 3 National Mulled Wine Day
April 17 World Malbec Day
April 24 Sauvignon Blanc Day
May 9 National Moscato Day
May 25 National Wine Day
May 26 National Chardonnay Day
June 21 Lambrusco Day
July 15 National Strawberry Rhubarb Wine Day
August 1 International Albarino Day
August 14 International Rose Day
August 31 International Cabernet Day
September 15 International Grenache Day
October 20 National Champagne Day
November 7 International Merlot Day
November 9 International Tempranillo Day
November 16 Beaujolais Nouveau Day
December 4 Cabernet Franc Day
December 20 Sangria Day

January does get recognition with regard to the consumption of adult beverages. January 1st is National Hangover Day. 😡

In addition to drinking wine today, it is also Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, World Whale Day, Pluto Day, Battery Day and World Pangolin Day (click to see what a Pangolin is, if you're like me and didn't know).

Find more things to celebrate at Days of the Year calendar, and visit The Traveling Corkscrew for more things wine related.

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