Category Archives: food

A Truly Blustery Day Four In Michigan

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Thursday dawned warmer, slightly, and full of sunshine. We didn’t waste a minute more than needed for breakfast before taking our bikes out for another ride. It was so invigorating the day before, Kelly and I weren’t going to pass it by again. My poor mom. We dragged her out everywhere. This time we stopped at another coffee shop on our way to the Walmart. We needed a couple necessity’s. Ice cream for Hot Tin Roofs, for one. And very few other things, being we were on bikes with tragically little carry space.

By the time we got back to the house, hubby had closed the windows I pre-emptively opened. The sunshine fooled me into thinking the day would be warm, but really it was so chilly even my husband ran from the too-cool breeze. I wasn’t wasting this light, though. Kelly threw on some clothes, we packed Cooper into Mom’s van (along with the cat) and we made for the beach for some more pictures. We found ourselves at the Oscoda public beach. Stunning. Beautiful. Clean. Void of people.

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The wind blew around us like nothing I’ve experienced in the summer. If not for the sun, we would’ve given up for warmer places.

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White caps, the wind-blown look, secretly shivering beneath that thin little blouse and the water lapping at her bare feet. Brrrrrr.

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But the lighting was pretty great.

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Not sure which day we’ll pick, but I like taking pictures of my little girl.

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Naturally we had to include Cooper-duper into our outing. The pier was safe and secure. But the wind blew even harder out here. Thank goodness I didn’t give that pooch a trim before we left Arkansas. He would be shivering, in need of a sweater!

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Last one… take in the color of the water, the way the light winks off the waves or ripples. Imagine gusts of wind chilling you at least another fifteen degrees.

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One last look… just admiring my handiwork.

All that wind and sunshine gave us an appetite. Mom found a little German restaurant down the road. It housed a bakery and only served food until 2pm. Walking into the place, it was old fashioned and in need of an update. Old tables, collector plates lining a ledge on three sides of the room, blankets hanging on the walls. Nothing too fancy. We were hungry and not discriminatory. When the food arrived I was flabbergasted.

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A reuben sandwich on toasted rye, REAL batter dipped onion rings and fresh coleslaw. It was soooo delicious. The perfect end to a perfect day.

Later that night we chowed down on a huge bowl of Hot Tin Roofs…. scrumdilly-icious.

Thanks for spending a moment with me in my little piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

Finally! I Have Some Veggies

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This summer I stepped out on that limb and planted tomatoes and stuff. The past few years have been an effort in futility when it came to gardening. If the weather didn’t fry our plants in the scorching heat, the deer decimated the scrumptious, tender leaves of young plants. If a plant managed to make it past those disasters, the rabbits or turtles took their toll on the low hanging fruit.

This year is the best summer in years!

This is our one row of beans (because I was too wary to invest more beans and time into a gamble).

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My ingenious hubby came up with this design to keep the deer out. This and some coyote urine keeps our garden off the deer radar. As a result, along with plentiful rain, we have a bumper crop of green beans!

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These plants are still putting blooms on too… more beans.

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I’ve picked at least ten pounds of beans from this little row!! I’m amazed.

We have a couple of cantaloupes and lots of gorgeous cucumbers!

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Not to mention tomatoes…

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… and awesome peppers…

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I took these pictures a couple weeks ago. The plants are even more proliferative now.

We have had beans with potatoes every weekend for the past three weeks. The tomatoes have made into outstanding spaghetti sauce as well as spanish rice seasoning. (I should post the recipes, me thinks.)

Thanks for sharing in our small slice of productivity and my little piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

Late Season Bounty

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This year has seen the most inordinate growing seasons of all time. Our summer was a long three months of intense, scorching heat, little rain and record highs. The results of which yielded nothing from my tomato garden but a few measly pieces of fruit and a lot of wilting green leaves. Blooms on the plants died off in the heat, ergo no tomatoes. It is what I call ‘fried flowers’. Not until the rains came in August did the plants show any signs of flourishing.

I must also mention we are plagued with a small herd of deer from the neighboring woods. They have found our garden a cornucopia of snacks. This year, discouraged from the decimation we endured last year, I planted only tomatoes. When the plants were still very small, before the deer could nibble them to death, our son made large wire cages to place around the plants. It is due to those cages we are now blessed with tomatoes. Yay kiddo!! The idea was my husband’s. It has been said he is a man before his time. He is truly quietly brilliant.

Well those plants just needed a little water to get them going. In October those plants are still growing out the top of the cages.

I have never had plants grow to this height. They have a shovelful of horse manure at the bottom of the hole. I tell you, manure makes the difference.

There are a bunch of tomatoes on those vines. Granted, I don’t cut off the sucker rods at all on these plants, but they aren’t stunted in the least.

But now we are well into the fall season. Leaves are red and brown and the trees are almost bare. As you see, the pasture grass is its own shade of done. Bermuda goes dormant under 80 degrees.

This doesn’t deter those tomatoes in the least, though. A couple frosty mornings scorched the upper-most vines, but still these sturdy plants endure!

There are a few brown leaves here, but that doesn’t diminish the size or the number of the fruit.

There is some frost damage but….

Check out these tomatoes! They are ripening on the vine. To me this is a huge accomplishment in gardening. This fall the weather is still mild… mildly warm. Temps in the 70s and 80s at the peak of the day. This allows the garden to finish its growing season. Remarkable.

If you look carefully, those broken ends on the stems are where the deer took liberties. They can only reach the pieces hanging out, thankfully, leaving the bulk of the plant to flourish inside the wire.

With giddy smugness, we enjoy fresh tomatoes despite the summer and the animals. The summer I thought would be a total loss is turning out to be stupendous.

Let me know how your growing season is this year. I love the out-doors and gardening is pure joy for me.

Thanks for visiting my little piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

Bertie the Hummingbird

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I have a friend I’d like you all to meet. He disappeared from the farm for a short while, but has returned when the lady in charge filled the water feeder with a fresh batch of sugar-water. Originally I thought the heat presented a deterrent, but it wasn’t all that, it was just me not taking care of the details.

This is Bertie. He hangs around. I mean he really hangs around. He finds the wire of my flower-pot a perfect perch for hanging out.

The basket wire is in close proximity to the feeder. It’s an easy flutter to flit from the feeder to the wire and the wire to the feeder.

I think he sits here so he can keep an eye on that feeder.

He hovers…

…and sips.

And then he flits…

Bertie takes a good look at me. Amazingly I don’t freak him out too much. The camera is enough to undo any tiny creature.

He spends a loooot of time in the air.

He also samples from every hole in the feeder. He gives me a good look at his back.

And that is the newest piece of heaven from my little piece of heaven. This feeder hangs in front of the window from which I sit and write half the time. It offers me such a happy diversion. I just wanted to share it with you.

Love,
Jeannene

Mushroom Tetrazzini

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Today’s post is all about the food.

My daughter found this recipe on the Rachel Ray show and she loves this sort of thing so I was compelled to make it. Boy am I glad I did. This is a tasty dish. Now I realize there are plenty of people who have an aversion to ‘shrooms. I feel sorry for you. For the rest of you…. enjoy!

We have the cast of characters in this dish….

Melt 2 tbsp of butter with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Slice a pound of mushrooms of your choice.

By this time the butter is melted nicely. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute for about 15 mins.

While the mushrooms saute, finely chop one medium onion and four cloves of garlic.

Then add them to the mushrooms and cook for another few minutes until they are translucent.

Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of wine. Recipe calls for Marcella, but there is always wiggle room as far as I’m concerned.

Now we add 1 cup of heavy cream.

Simmer until the cream bubbles and sprinkle a little nutmeg into the sauce.

Shred fresh Parmesan.

Then add it to the mushrooms just before the noodles are done.

Be sure and stir them all together….

Cook the Tetrazzini now until it is al dante.

Dump all those noodles into the cream sauce and mix together.

Be sure all that beautiful, fattening sauce covers every noodle.

Now serve it on a plate and enjoy.

Eat away….

It should be noted that the only two people who really like this dish are constantly concerned about their weight. Needless to say, this dish is on the menu on an infrequent basis only.

We enjoyed this dish (and now we do some yoga and a jog). Hope you all do to.

I’m just going to put this out there… tell me if you are a mushroom lover or not.

This is my little piece of heaven today….mmmmm.

Love,
Jeannene

More Chocolate

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This my final share for the holiday season. It includes more decadent food stuff that will only add pounds and inches to your hips. But I promise they will taste yummy and will not disappoint any palette. I don’t have a real name for these except they are chocolate dipped Ritz crackers with peanut butter in side. The light crispy cracker makes these too wonderful to leave at just one cookie.

Here are the main characters in this little play.

This is so simple. Take the peanut butter and smear it on the crackers, but not too thick. I don’t like to be gnawing peanut butter all day.

Top that with another cracker and you are ready for the good stuff – meaning chocolate.

Melt down some chocolate disks or chocolate almond bark in a bowl (I microwave them).

Now these gems are to be covered and slathered in chocolate and then laid on a sheet of wax paper to be placed in the refrigerator for a few minutes until the chocolate hardens. They are messy otherwise.

The final product is this little thing that resembles something else, but I won’t go there. These are decadently delicious.

I forgot to take a picture of the inside, but these don’t lay around very long.

The light crispy cracker gives the peanut butter an airy feel and the chocolate coats your mouth with deliciousness.

Enjoy this little piece of my heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

We Have Learned a New Tradition

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Yesterday I braved a food item I have avoided making for twenty years. I hail from El Paso, Texas where this is a common staple. Granted, I never learned how to fix these the eleven years I lived there. Who needed to learn how to make them when they were sold every two blocks throughout the city.

The scrumptious, yummy tidbits I’m talking about are TAMALES.

Tamales are awesome. Corn masa wrapped around seasoned meat. Mexican heaven.

They are not easily obtained here in Central Arkansas so I finally broke down and made some of my own. I have to admit, my daughter spurred me on. We picked up a package of corn husks and that was all she wrote.

I discovered tamale making is not a secret science and it is possible for a novice to make edible food.

Here is our little journey.

First, you have to soak those corn husks. It doesn’t take long, but they must be wet to wrap properly.

While these are soaking, I cooked three chicken breasts with some green chilies. Sorry no picture of the chicken breast. Picture fail.

And the masa must be mixed with some oil and salt and water, or in this case, chicken broth from the meat.

Then you mix it until it is the consistency of peanut butter.

The mixture is then spread on 2/3s of the corn husk as demonstrated by my very capable daughter.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture on the masa.

Then roll it into a nice slender cigar shaped tube and tuck the bottom tip over the outside.

We stacked these neatly in a strainer and steamed them in a large pot for two hours. Yes it takes two hours to cook, but they are great when cooked properly.

The finished product was as yummy as the tamales we bought in El Paso.

These passed the taste test of all the family members.

Mexican heaven.

Oy Channukah, Oy Channukah….mmmm

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Tonight I wish to feature, center stage, the heart of a Channukah meal.

The Latke.

This is a delectable morsel of food fashioned from shredded potatoes, diced onions, some eggs and bit of flour, sprinkled with salt and pepper. Variations of this basic holiday fare abound. My favorite creation involves green chiles, but I leave that for another occasion. Today we visit the plain variety.

Latkes are significant because they are fried in oil. The oil is a reminder of the eight days the Menorah burned in the temple on only one days worth of oil. And we all know that fried potatoes are the bomb.

First thing, we shred a pile of potatoes. I use about four pounds.

Be sure you put them in large bowl.

Dice up two small onions and add to the potatoes.

Add three eggs. These come from my chickens.

Then pour a half cup of flour over the potatoes, sprinkle with seasoning – salt and pepper (I add garlic powder too) and mix everything up in the bowl.

Spoon the mixture in a pan containing a thin layer of oil. Oil is the operative word.

Fry those babies until they are crispy then flip them over for the same treatment.

Crispy on both sides means they are cooked all the way through. Place on a plate.

These are served with sour cream and applesauce. Slightly sour and the sweet combine to lavish the palate with a delicious contradiction supported by a culinary staple – the potato.

Enjoy today’s little piece of heaven, we certainly will.

Love,
Jeannene

The First Night of Channukah

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Greetings from this little piece of heaven. Yes, it does still exist and I am alive and kicking.

Today is the first day after the end of the Nanwrimo challenge and my head is reeling from not writing. I was 3500 words short of the 50K. I could not get those last words in, but it didn’t matter. I learned a ton about writing this month and lot about myself. The adventure was so worth the effort. Today I took care of family business and I baked and cooked. Therapy from the onslaught of plot bunnies and words.

There is nothing more cathartic than spending time creating things you can stuff into your mouth. Very satisfying.

In honor of Channukah tonight, I made some of my kids favorite cookies. They are your run of the mill Spritz cookies. Spritz is a basic butter cookie.

These are the players…. Oh.. that egg is out of one of my chickens.

Just the basics as you can see.

Mix the 1c butter with a half cup sugar.

Add 1 tsp vanilla and the egg.

Mix it all together.

Add a cup of flour.

And mix it up. Dough will be firm.

For the next step you will need a cookie press, hence the name Spritz (German for press).

Select one of those discs and surprise yourself with the pattern. The shape morphs into an uncommonly good looking cookie.

Now it is time to decorate the bland dough with bright granules of sugar or other intriguing pieces of candy.

Put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 9 minutes and voila!!

And then we have the final result. Tasty and satisfying.

Happy Channukah from my little piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

At Last… Chile Rellenos

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Last night when I walked into the fresh foods section of my little grocery store, bags of fresh green chilies from Hatch, New Mexico greeted me. Without hesitation I opened a bag and drew in one long, lasting whiff of home. It was heaven to me. I come from West Texas, the dry desert southwest and all its beauty. Not to diminish the natural resources growing from its own soils, this section of the country is known for it green chilies. Labor Day weekend is the annual chilie festival in Hatch. Hundreds of pounds of the peppers are roasted over large rolling propane roasters, the savory aroma of roasted peppers wafting through the air and heralding the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I LOVE green chilies and everything you can make with them or anything to which they can be added.

This brings me to last Friday evening. On our trip to Alabama we stopped in the small town of Wynne, Arkansas, a small east Arkansas farm town about forty-five minutes from Memphis. After settling into our hotel we found a place to eat. We ambled into a tiny Mexican food restaurant across the street. The place was charming and dripped with atmosphere. All the tables were of brightly colored tropical somethings with chairs to match the table. We were taken in immediately.

From the menu we ordered our meal. I requested a No. 8 – spinach enchiladas, Corvette Man ordered a chilie relleno a la cart and our daughter ordered a taco salad. We gnashed on chips and wonderfully seasoned spicy salsa as we awaited our meal. When the food arrived, a large oblong platter was set before C Man. The dish contained a swath of perfectly melted cheese with a small scrap of green in the center of it. He fished the green morsel from the lake of cheese to discover it was a poor excuse for a chilie relleno – it was only a piece of green chilie and barely constituted a whole bite. He was sadly disappointed.

When I dug into my No.8, disappointment unfolded with the first slice of my fork, for the enchilda was beef and not the expected vegetable. Next to it lay a pork tamale – another disappointment. We ate our meals without complaint, unwilling to bring upon us some dreaded kitchen revenge. We made light of the whole meal, though, jesting about the chilie relleno, or lack there of.

This brings me to my meal. When I found those beautiful chilies I knew I had to make chilie rellenos for C-Man. The meal was a rousing success.

To make these, it is necessary to roast the chilies to remove the tough outer skin. I put these in the broiler.

This is what they look like when done.

Peel the skin from the flesh of the chilie.

The contrast of fresh versus cooked.

Open the chilie and insert a small bit of coteja cheese.

Dip the cheese stuffed chilie in a flour/egg mixture and lay in hot pan with oil.

Cook the chilie until brown then flip over.

The result is the tastiest low calorie meal around. These peppers turned out to be a bit spicy. Wonderfully delicious and satisfying.

Love green chilies.

Chilies are always a little piece of heaven to me.

Love,
Jeannene