Sunday, March 31, 2024

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART EASTER SUNDAY

Happy Sunday and Happy Easter.  Will have a post tomorrow with the Easter stuff because today we are having our herbs de Provence pork loin roast for our Easter dinner...but it's cooking now, so no pics yet, ha.

So, here's a healthy "breakfast for dinner"...


Egg white omelet with grilled veggies (mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, fat free cheddar), topped with avocado and whole wheat muffins and fresh fruit on the side!  Healthy food is good!


Here is Hobart, doing what he does best on Easter, laying in his chair, in his spot, on his Afghan soaking up the sunshine and recharging his solar batteries or something.  We allow it.  Because...

#notspoiled

Saturday, March 30, 2024

IT WAS A GOOD FRIDAY OF ZEN TIME

We were both off yesterday so it was a good day to head to the farm and do some things out there and then have the rest of the weekend for relaxing and a little planning, which is what we are doing today and tomorrow!


It was a GORGEOUS day.  Cool, breezy and mostly clear.  Time to hop on Zen Machine 2.


Almost an hour and a half, I skipped some of the farther trails because it was still a bit wet in some spots and I was NOT going to get stuck...been there, done that...three times, ha.


When it was done, it was beautiful as always.  Such a relief to see it neat and tidy.  We moved some stuff around in the house and 2nd Man inventoried some of his kitchen stuff while I did a few things in the yard.


I took the truck for a spin and parked it and that was about it for the day.  We headed back into town.

Quality time on the Zen Machine and both of us together at the farm is always...


...a good day!

 

Friday, March 29, 2024

BIRTHDAYS ARE FUN

 Between 2nd Man, coworkers and friends, I had a good birthday week.


The inside of the card is at the end of this post.


I love getting useful stuff.  Of course a new bag to carry stuff to the farm or in and out at work and that would be a Buc-ees bag (it's a Texas institution, ha).  The chicken is a night light that has an egg that lights up.  This stand device is for when I'm filling bags for the freezer prep I often do, it holds the bags open.  Silicone spoon/spatulas for getting the last bit out of jar,  Really cool.  And then something I had always wanted, herb scissors (with cleaning tools) so you can cut/mince herbs quickly and easily.


Looks like I have a head start on a farm truck for the 4th of July decorations, ha.  The other one is a shiny galvanized metal truck.


How about two bee hotels??  Too cool.  These will be really fun to try and see if we get some bees (these are for bumblebees, solitary bees, carpenter bees, not honey bees).  I've always wanted to try this project.


And here is the inside of the card, my coworkers wanted ti to be a celebration of me having my birthday after the end of the year's unfortunate event, ha.  Very sweet and they all wrote very nice things for me.

#lifeisgood

Thursday, March 28, 2024

WHITE VELVET CAKE RECIPE

Thank you all for the sweet birthday comments from yesterday.  It was a good day, coworkers treated me well and so did 2nd Man, ha!

Recently, 2nd Man made his own birthday cake.  Now, before you feel bad, he asked me not to buy one or make one, he wanted to try something new.  Several of you asked for the recipe & that's why we did this post.

The recipe is from King Arthur Flour.

CLICK HERE

It's called a "White Velvet" cake and yes, it's a 'cousin' of Red Velvet cake. Same texture and method, only no cocoa and of course, no bottle of red food coloring, ha.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (360g) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (28g) cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups (347g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice powder (or 1TBSP lemon juice)
  • 12 tablespoons (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature; cut into 1” pieces
  • 5 large egg whites (175g), at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (284g) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

The steps are a bit more involved to post here, so again, click the link at the top to get all the details on how to mix everything together. 

The batter, once divided, will fill two 8" round cake pans and then you bake them for 35 to 40 minutes.

__________________________

Now, he made his own frosting using mascarpone cheese and then he created a vanilla pastry cream filling for the layer in between.  You could use a traditional cream cheese frosting or if you like buttercream or whipped etc, use whatever you like.  The filling in between layers you could use (as is normal) whatever frosting you have for the outside, but 2nd Man wanted it to be different and more vanilla forward in taste, hence the pastry cream.

It was delicious!

But we only had one slice each because, it's all about moderation now...and my office reaped the reward of the leftover cake (to rave reviews!).


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

1ST MAN HAS A BIRTHDAY

 2nd Man here to hijack the blog and wish my husband a most wonderful birthday!


I'm not as verbose as he is and sometimes not sure what to write, so I will just say that I am happy (and I'm sure all of you feel the same as well) that he is here to celebrate another trip around the sun.

Here's to many many more!

I love you!

The best is yet to come!

Monday, March 25, 2024

LE CREUSET FACTORY TO TABLE ADVENTURE

We had a blast on our "there and back" day trip (see Fri/Sat posts).  These were all amazing deals, the biggest piece was 75% off.  It was retail $625.  That means we paid $156 for it.  Deal!  Most were 50% or 60% off.  We've known this trip was coming, so we've been saving up to get the pieces we've wanted to add to our growing collection.


We got there about 45 minutes before they opened the doors and there were already several dozen people in line.  By the time we started moving in, there were a few hundred in line.  Fortunately, it was large.

In order to keep crowd size controllable, when you bought tickets, you got them for certain time windows.  We got the first of the day, because later in the day, there may be things they run out of. 


Lots of tables set up and you just roamed around to get what you wanted.  They had wonderful employees standing everywhere (in bright orange shirts, ha) and you could ask for a specific color, a certain piece, even "what is the best deal in here" and they would direct you right to it.


40%, 50%, 60%, even some bigger bargains.  These are all factory new, not seconds or defects.

That's why the call it Factory to Table!


They even had bakeware and ceramics, also spatulas and other accessories.  We were just there for the enameled cast iron.

So here is what we picked up.
Yep...seven pieces.


This was a cool piece because it's usually only sold overseas.  It's called a Parisian Bistro Pan.  It has wide handles and a flared edge at the top.  The color is a color not available here, "vapor", kind of a blue gray. 


2nd Man wanted a new pan for cooking his corn tortillas on (a comal) and this looked like a good one to call our own.  It is also in a hard to find color, this one is called "emerald" it goes from dark to lighter.


We also wanted a casserole type dish and this one is 3 quarts, the perfect size for casseroles and side dishes.  It's called the signature oval baker and in a color we don't already have, "Marseille" (a bright blue).


Two classic pieces, round dutch ovens.  The large one is 14 quarts and "cerise" (cherry red) and the other is 9 quarts and orange or "flame".  We already have a 6 quart (black) but found it a bit small for large batches of soups or stews.


Here's a neat one that we had been curious about and with us eating more brown rice now, figured it will be perfect.  It's a rice pot, cast iron but with an inner ceramic lid.  This color is "turquoise".


Lastly, this is a piece we have been wanting for a while now.  A tagine, a Moroccan cooking method/pot.  You layer the ingredients in the bottom and the tight fitting lid and unique shape, lets the steam rise up and rain back down on the food to add moisture and flavor.


The upper portion is ceramic but the base is their signature cast iron with a matte finish to help prevent sticking.  This color is called "volcanic" (kind of a variation on the "flame" color).  We have a clay tagine that we used to use a few years back, but it does not work on our induction stove of course, so this will be fun to have and get back into cooking with a tagine.  He's already looking at new recipes.

 I told 2nd Man that we are going to have to put in our will that we leave our collection to a cooking school, ha!

Sunday, March 24, 2024

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY

It's Sunday again!

How does the week fly by so fast?

A couple weekends ago, we decided to have fish tacos and wanted to reinvent them as healthy.  2nd Man made some corn tortillas instead of flour, the corn tortilla has no fat/lard and he uses minimal salt.  Then we took our mahi-mahi and cut it into chunks and lightly coated them with only whole wheat flour and pepper and then pan seared them in avocado oil spray.  I made more pickled onions, he made pico de Gallo, and we shredded some cabbage.  It was fish and all veggies and I made a healthy fish taco sauce (2nd Man said it was the best) to top it off.

SO good!

I was trying to do laundry and Hobart was helping.  Apparently he thought he "pressing the sheets" before washing or something.  Of course, I delayed the laundry while he slept.  Because...

#notspoiled


Saturday, March 23, 2024

SAFELY BACK AND OFF TO THE FARM

We made it safely back from San Antonio (see previous post) yesterday afternoon.


We got a few things...😁

Don't worry, we'll have a post with details on what bargains we picked up.

Today, it's off to the farm, hoping I'll be able to mow but we had some very heavy rains Wednesday and into Thursday night.  It could still be too wet and I'm not risking I with Zen 2.  If you've followed the blog for awhile, you know I REFUSE to ever get a mower stuck in the mud again, ha.

If I can't, at least I can get a few other plant related projects done.  Today IS a gorgeous day!

Friday, March 22, 2024

OFF ON AN ADVENTURE

 As this posts, we should be about 30 minutes outside of San Antonio, TX.

We are headed there for an adventure...


The Le Creuset Factory to Table Event!

2nd Man has always wanted to go, as we are big fans of Le Creuset cookware.  For those not familiar, here is the description from their website:

"Straight from the Le Creuset factory to you, our Factory to Table Destination Shopping Events are hosted in various cities nationwide. Every shopping session features exclusive discounts on a vast selection of products from around the world, including limited-edition colors as well as rare shapes and styles."

Each shopping session is an hour and a half, you shop, buy what you want and have to leave so the next group can come in (so it's not a crazy, crowded, free for all, ha).  It should be pretty fun and at prices up to 70% off retail, it'll be a great way to pick up some new pieces.  These aren't seconds either, the are regular first quality sold in retail stores.  They even bring in rare colors and shapes normally sold only in other countries.

I tried to get us tickets to the VIP event the day before because the big thing for that is that you have the ability to buy what they call a "mystery box".  One per ticket holder, it cost $50 and is guaranteed to have at least one piece of cast iron and a whole lot of other products. Some people have gotten two or three pieces of enameled cookware in their box ($$$$).

Alas, the tickets for that event sold out in minutes.  So I got us tickets for the first session of the first regular day, today.  We'll still get to shop the good stuff just won't have the chance at some fun things in the mystery box.

We'll leave there at 11:30ish, grab lunch somewhere and then head back to Houston.  It's a 2 1/2 hour drive and we want to get through Houston before rush hour.


Who knows what fun things we will pick up!

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

ANNOUNCEMENT UPDATE

It's time for an update that many of you have been wondering about.

We're getting much closer to a new home to replace the one above!

We had planned to do this in 2019/2020, but as we all know, the world had other things in store as we were forced to weather both unemployment and a pandemic.

We've looked at manufactured homes, log cabins, even a steel barndominium.  The contractor decision we gave up on when we had such difficulties finding someone both reputable AND willing to come to a rural location, not to mention it was going to cost almost as much to remodel and do an addition as it would be for new construction.  Also had a bit of homophobia added to the mix and that was disappointing as well.

We went to look at some log cabins last Winter, but they aren't really our style.  Then last Spring, we visited some manufactured homes and they are nice but SO expensive now, almost as much as building new.  The barndominium route was promising (even went to a Home & Garden show that featured them) but then we found out banks don't like to do loans for those and there were too many moving parts with subcontractors that it would be risky at best.

We ultimately decided our best path forward was indeed to build new.  This will give us the chance to have input into designing OUR dream home and after all these years of waiting, why not get EXACTLY what we want?

Flash forward to early last Fall.  We had a new home builder that we liked, visited the models and office (about 65 miles from downtown) and picked a floorpan we loved.  The general foreman/salesmen spent almost three hours with us answering all our questions and even took us to lunch.  It was a great fit.

We met him out there at the property and walked around with him on 12/3.  We were hoping to have a good announcement about that meeting at the first of the year.  In fact, I even had a post ready to go.  Check your calendar...12/3...the Sunday (five days) before my near fatal heart attack.

Sigh...

2nd Man reached out to him to let him know what happened and he was super nice and very concerned, even called to check on me.  He told us to just reach out when we were ready and so we did.  In late January.  And he was no longer with the company.

Sigh...

He went to another builder, we tracked him down and checked out the new company, but alas, it was not our style of home (very modern designs and VERY high end).  Honestly, we were also a little disappointed that his prior company didn't bother to followup with us as probable customers.  I mean, we were almost ready to sign papers, we were that far into the process.

Sigh...

But, never ones to give up, we have found another builder!  We went out there the past weekend and had an amazing experience.  We found a floor plan that is perfect and we've spent the last few days modifying it to make it perfect.  We are almost ready to make our final decision and pull the trigger.


We've both agreed though, that we should wait until my big checkup in April.  This one will be an ultrasound of my heart to see how it's (hopefully) healing on the inside and the full blood panel to see how my numbers are.  The last thing we want to do is start this process and then find out I'm going to need another procedure or, God forbid, surgery.  I feel great on the outside so fingers crossed that will go well on the inside!

We are SO ready for big changes to be coming!


Monday, March 18, 2024

SPRING IN THE ORCHARD

 I got the orchard area all cleaned up, it's SO nice now.

It's a multistep process.  First, I edge around each raised bed.  Then I go into each bed and edge inside (careful of course to avoid the base of the trees/bushes).  Then I use the little electric push mower to get in between the beds a bit more.  Lastly, I get the big Zen Machine and go around as much as I can and it "cleans up" all the grass from the prior events.

In the end, it looks like this and it makes us happy.  Now in the upcoming weeks, I'll add soil as needed and top off with mulch and it will be picture perfect and good for the the season.  But for now, we're happy and the trees are happy and blooming.

Speaking of blooming...


Nectarine...


Plums...


Cherry blossoms (bush cherries)...


Fig tree (no blooms but happily leafing out after almost not making it last Summer)...


Both pear trees...


Blueberries (two varieties) are flowering...


This is the mayhaw, flowers and buds all over...


One apple tree...


And the other apple tree!

Spring is definitely doing its thing!

Sunday, March 17, 2024

GOOD BIRTHDAY FOOD AND HOBART ST PATRICKS DAY SUNDAY

Yesterday was 2nd Man's birthday!  So we had some good food for sure.


Regular readers might know this but new ones might not, his favorite meal that I make for him every year on his birthday, is a tuna casserole.  Don't judge, we know it can have a negative connotation, but I do make a really good one...problem is (now) we have to eat heart healthy.  We're cutting back on salt, trying to reduce saturated fat to as little as possible and staying away from white flour in lieu of wheat/whole grains.

So, I had to reinvent it using healthy ingredients.  This is made with no fat cheddar cheese, vegan mayonnaise that I found and we LOVE it, Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream, heart healthy cream of mushroom and whole wheat pasta!  Oh and organic tuna in water two cans to add the extra Omega 3's.  It's just about as healthy as it can get.

It tasted wonderful and he loved it!


He made his birthday cake and it was a regular cake...but we limited ourselves to one slice each and the rest will be taken to work.  It was a white velvet cake with vanilla cream filling and mascarpone frosting.

Delicious!


Gotta have some celebrating with sparkling rosΓ© wine.


Hobart laid there while we ate and celebrated in his own way.  By sleeping.


And check this out.  You know me, I could NOT pass this up!  My goal is to have an old farm truck to represent every holiday, ha!  Too cute!

"May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full Moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door..."   - Irish blessing

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all and especially a Happy Birthday to 2nd Man.

#notspoiled