Friday, February 23, 2024

PERSIAN SWEET LEMONS DISCOVERY

 Discovered something new (to us anyway) at the store the other day...the "sweet lemon".  We stood in the store and did a quick Google search to make sure it was a real thing and not a misprint and also to make sure it wasn't a "Meyer Lemon" (which can be slightly sweet but are still acidic like a lemon).  Sure enough, it's a real fruit and so we bought one.


They have a wonderful sweet floral sent from the exterior.  If you look at the picture above, you can see the familiar yellow of a lemon has a bit of an orange tint to it.  Slicing it open it looks like a lemon.  But taste wise, wow it was SO good.  It really was a "sweet lemon"!  Not super sweet, but not at all sour.

After a little research, there are several varieties of this low acidity, sweet fruit.  It is not a true lemon but believed to have been a natural mutation of two citrus species a few hundred years ago. They are native to Asia but have been grown around the world for centuries where they are also known as "Limettas", "Shirin" and "Musambi".  There are several varieties with names, Ponderosa Sweet Lemon, Millsweet, Persian Sweet Lemon, Limu Shirin and Moroccan Limetta.  They say that the tree is prolific and almost everbearing throughout the year.  We're sure they are freeze sensitive like all citrus.


Since we only had one, we figured "let's try it in some iced tea?".  SO good.  Squeezed a bit in and it sweetened it slightly and gave a great florally, lemon flavor.  We could totally see them being used to make a sort of lemonade without needing sugar.  Fun fact, after they are cut, in about one to two hours, they become more sour like a lemon...but if you put them "in" something, they stay sweet.  

Hmm, off to Google to see who sells them...

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

QUICK PICKLED RED ONIONS

When I made ribs Sunday, we needed some pickled red onions.  We had already used up the ones I made last year.  You can see that post HERE.

But the ribs were the next day and I needed less salt and something that I didn't have to cook the brine first.

So, I tweaked the earlier recipe a bit and these came out great!  We really like them.  There is no heating of the liquid so it's quick and easy and it uses minimal salt (still need some) which works for our healthier eating.

PICKLED RED ONIONS

1 cup water

1/2 cup apple cider or white vinegar

2 TBSP sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 red onion, thinly sliced

Slice the onion as thinly as possible.  I like to slice them vertically because it gives you the strips instead of the rings, but hey, you do what you like!  The thinner the slices, the more the vinegar mixture will permeate to soften and mellow the onions.

Put them into a jar, one medium to large red onion should make enough for one pint jar and the liquid will be enough to fill it up.

Mix all the ingredients together and whisk until sugar and salt is dissolved, no cooking necessary.

Pour it over the onions, put a tight fitting lid on and give it a gentle shake.  You can leave them to sit for an hour and eat right away but if you do them overnight, they'll get super good.  You can actually keep these for up to two weeks if you keep them in the fridge, though they don't last that long here!

You can also do like our last cooked brined batch and add jalapeños, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, etc.

They were very good even after just 24 hours of being in the fridge, we'll finish them off over the next few days.  They are great with BBQ, adding a tang and crunch.  Some people use sliced pickles for this and that's great as well, but Texas BBQ likes the red onions.  They are also great on sandwiches, tacos and are a frequent condiment with TexMex food.  Heck, last night we had a salad and put the onions in there!

Enjoy!


Monday, February 19, 2024

COLD DAY AND ZEN 2 BEING PICKED UP

It was COLD Saturday.  And wet.  Ugh. 


When I got out there, it was 46 and felt like 39.  Actually felt like 29, but that could be the blood thinners  talking, LOL!


Can a picture convey cold?  This one should.  That sky.  It just looks cold.  Anyway, the property is greening up and it will soon be mowing season.

Speaking of...


Zen Machine 2 is sitting outside, waiting to be picked up this week by the dealer to have its first annual maintenance.  It's included for the first two years, they pay the service, I pay for any parts needed.  They will change the oil, filters, check the belts, sharpen the blades and make whatever other adjustments are needed.  I covered it with a freeze cloth we had, just to keep the seat and dashboard from bird poop (ask me how I know about this potential, LOL!).  The rain was gone and Sunday was gorgoeous and this week is clear too.  They are supposed to come Tuesday.

As soon as it comes back, it will be time for mowing!  I checked with the doctors office and they said I was clear to do that as long as it was a riding mower and not me pushing one.  At least until my checkup in April where they will do ultrasound and blood panel.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART DAYTONA 500 SUNDAY

It's been an odd weekend of weather.  Rain on and off all day Friday (ugh).  Saturday was COLD (brrr).  Today is nice and getting warmer (phew).

The other night, we had pork chops, sautéed squash and applesauce on the side.  I have always loved "pork chops and apple sauce" said in my best Brady Bunch impression, ha.  If you know, you know!

Of course, as part of our new healthy eating post heart attack, this is a very lean cut of pork, pan seared using olive oil spray with only some pepper and other seasonings.  The squash was cooked in the same pan as the pork chops and 2nd Man added fresh herbs.  Then, of course, apple sauce on the side.  Apple and pork really IS a great combo.

Hobart, as usual, is unimpressed by anything we do.  Just give him a nice place to spread out and sleep. In this case, the couch with back cushion moved so he has plenty of room.  We do it.  Because...

#notspoiled

Regular readers know that we are NASCAR fans.  It's been off for a few months now and this is the big weekend of the first races of the season:  Daytona weekend.  The truck race was run Friday night and yesterday was supposed to the be the Xfinity series but it was postponed due to rain.  Welp, as this posts, no one is sure if the actual Daytona 500 will even happen today.  It may be postponed to Monday.  While we're at work.  Of course.

We'll still do our annual tradition, ribs and coleslaw.  But, I'm tweaking my recipe and there will be minimal salt in anything and we're using a different cut of pork chops that are a little leaner.  Will have details on how it came out soon.  It's doing it's thing in the oven now and the apartment smells HEAVENLY.

Friday, February 16, 2024

FIVE GALLON BUCKET SCORE

 Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock where people can put the things they don't want.  I've found quite a few cool items over the last few years. 

As many of you know, a five gallon bucket is a staple in the garden.  And around the house.  And in the workshop.  Well, just about anywhere.


After all the years of discovering some fun things downstairs in the recycle area, we were finally able to score some ubiquitous 5-gallon buckets!


There were six in the stack, they are pretty clean but need to be hosed off a bit.  Otherwise, perfect for use (of course no food storage).  We have three that we picked up a few years back at Home Depot (the ubiquitous bright orange ones) and they proved invaluable when we needed to water the wild pear tree during the drought.  We also used one as a planter.

5 gallon bucket ideas, image via Wikicommons.com

There are a gazillion uses listed on the internet, just Google "5 gallon bucket" and whatever it is, I think a 5 gallon bucket has been used, ha.

I'm sure we'll have no problem finding something to use them for.  Will get them cleaned and hung up in the shed waiting for further use.


 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY 2024


Found this last year, after Valentines Day sale, and picked it up.  It sort of matches the one 2nd Man found for Easter a couple of years ago (that one had a vintage pale blue truck filled with Easter eggs).


Made up some bags of Lindt truffles for my coworkers.  We are trying to stay away from chocolate (except for a small piece of antioxidant rich dark chocolate) but I can live vicariously through others, ha.

Saw these below in the grocery store the other day and thought it was a pretty brilliant marketing idea.  They used heart-shaped foil pans to create meals to go for Valentines Day.


These were boneless ribeye sweetheart cuts with garlic butter...love the way they even sliced them and placed them opposite each other.  Pretty cool.


Then there were the New York Strip Steaks with garlic butter but they put them in a ready to go meal combo; one with crab cakes and asparagus, and the other with loaded potato and bacon wrapped asparagus.

Since red meat is no longer on our list of things to eat (none since 12/8), we won't be buying this of course, but we'll give props to whoever came up with the idea.


Monday, February 12, 2024

RAINY SATURDAY AND STORMY SUNDAY

We thought the rain was gone and so off to the farm we ventured...


It was overcast and getting darker and gloomy.  We had to bring some things out there to put up plus I needed to drive the truck since I didn't get to do that last weekend because it was so wet.  Also watered the porch plants but that was about it because...


...it started raining.
We headed back into town.


Then yesterday, a very strong line of storms came through, hail, strong winds, heavy rain and of course...


...a tornado in the area!  It was far enough away from the farm and from Houston, but the same line of storms that produced the tornado moved over the farm and parts of Houston earlier in the morning.


This picture is from a few weekends ago.  Several of you have asked how the wild pear tree is doing, the one we had to butcher prune at the request of the power company last Summer.  Here it is.  It's doing great and this is even after the hard freeze.  Now whether it produces fruit this season, we have no idea, but at least it's still doing well.

So ready for Spring...

Sunday, February 11, 2024

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART BIG GAME SUNDAY

 It's been a stormy weekend so it's a a good time for some healthy food and some Hobart!


Here's a simple one...we had some pan seared salmon over mixed veggies and topped it with avocado, Greek Yogurt and chives.  Very good.  Side note, we are obsessed with plain Greek Yogurt as a sour cream substitute...zero fat and and minimal sodium...and tastes exactly the same as sour cream.  It's all about healthy choices, right?


So a package came the other day and Hobart did what cats do.  Here he is looking back and saying, "WHAT?  Haven't you ever seen a cat in a box?"


"Now leave me alone and let me sleep..."

And of course we did.  Because...

#notspoiled

Friday, February 9, 2024

BARGAIN LANDSCAPING ITEMS

 So, one of my very sweet coworkers thought of us on a great deal.  Her Sister was liquidizing her late husbands's landscaping business and she asked us if we wanted any of the great "pre-sale" deals.

Sure!


An industrial wheelbarrow, in my favorite color red!  It's in great shape (just needs to be hosed off a bit) but it is otherwise in excellent condition and ready to be used around the farm!  One can always use an extra wheelbarrow, you never know what you might be pushing around on the property.


Then there were hoses.  We got six unused garden hoses, each 50' long!  They also had some brand new sprinklers, so we got four impact sprinklers and two circular spot sprinklers.

These will all come in handy with new flowerbeds and garden areas as we develop them around the farm.

All of the above for $15.

There may be one more thing our future, something really cool to have, but trying to figure out the logistics of it (if they still have it) so stay tuned on that front.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

HOW TO ROAST GARLIC IN THE OVEN

.Since we didn't plant garlic last year, we don't have our usual good supply.


So, we got a 2lb bag (that's a lot of garlic, ha) and decided to roast some so we can enjoy the added flavor with our new diet of healthier cooking.  Plus garlic is SUPER heart healthy.


Cut off the top 1/4 or so, to expose as much surface area of the garlic as you can and leave the tighter paper skins on (some just fall off naturally).  Other people just cut it in half but that's wasting too much garlic, ha.  


I like to make a little foil packet, you can put it in a dish and cover with foil, whatever you prefer.


Then drizzle them with olive oil.  You want the oil to really get down in there so I drizzle it in a small stream and let it get into all the nooks and crannies.

You can also add herbs here, salt and/or pepper, etc.  We aren't doing added salt so we just used the pure garlic and olive oil flavor.


When we cook with foil, if foil comes into contact with the food, we like to put a piece of parchment over the food so that's what I did here but again, not necessary, you do whatever you like!


Seal it up and pop in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes...


At the end of 45 minutes, take it out, carefully open the foil (remove the parchment if using) and leave them exposed and put back in for 15 more minutes...


...or until you like the color, we feel this is a good place to stop, so we always do a total of one hour at 400.  It has always worked well.


Then you just squeeze them out one by one.  If you are trying to keep them intact, you will have to be gentle as you remove the papery skin and the usually pop out pretty easily.  A few get squashed when I do it but it's OK, they are going to get spread onto bread or stirred into a dish so it's all good.


We put them in a small jar (Mason/Ball of course, ha) and keep them in the fridge.  They will keep a few days in the fridge without oil, or you can pour olive oil over them and they'll keep about a week.

*note: they will spoil and garlic in oil without oxygen can actually run the risk of botulism...so be safe!


They are delicious this way.  Here are a couple of bagels spread with just a touch of heart healthy butter and a couple cloves of roasted garlic...
OH MY.  SO DELICIOUS!


Monday, February 5, 2024

PENCIL BOXES AS STORAGE CONTAINERS

 This is a storage tip for something we use that works great.  We like to be organized whenever we can  One thing we found that works great for inexpensive storage is a pencil box.

During the school year, you can find them almost everywhere.

I found the long one on the left at our local grocery chain, and the other smaller one on the right was from Walmart.  The bigger one was $1.75 and the smaller one was .99 cents.

What makes them great is that you can put just about anything in there as long as it fits.

This one stays in a large drawer to keep our chip clips and similar items all together.  That way, they are in one place and don't move around ending up at the back of the drawer, ha.  It's also nice to pull out the box and find just the right clip for the job.

We used the longer one for the attachments to our hand held mixer.  Again, keeps them all in one place (this sits on a shelf behind the mixer) and bonus, they stay dust free and clean until you use them.

Check this out!  Eight spice containers (from Penzey's anyway) fit perfectly in another one.  It makes it easy to keep similar spices together.  Right now we only have this one, but 2nd Man wants me to pick up some more so we can put jars in others and have "theme boxes".  For example, Mexican cooking, Italian, seasoning blends, baking spices, etc.

But, they are not only for the kitchen.  This one stays in our bathroom drawer and keeps our bandages and minor would care needs all in one spot.

Grab the box and go!

Of course, you could use them in a desk or craft room.  In our smaller apartment, it helps with organization for sure, but this will be something that helps at the house as well.

Always great to stay neat and organized!


Sunday, February 4, 2024

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY

 Good and healthy food!

We are eating more fish than ever and it's so good.  We had a salad with homemade dressing and then Mahi-Mahi as the main course.  2nd Man pan seared it, minimal oil, with just some lemon pepper as seasoning.  He served it over a bed of brown rice with green onions and dried cranberries.  It was wonderful!  We really like the Mahi-Mahi, it's so mild and tasty.

I was in bed the other morning and Hobart was next to me.  I got him to stare into the camera for a at least a moment.  He was waiting for breakfast but also enjoying the warm sheets.  Because...

#notspoiled