Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Belated Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone - if not a bit late!

Doodle and I spent the holiday in Panama City Beach, Florida.  This is the second year we have spent Thanksgiving there and I think it may be our last.  There is just not much to do in that area of Florida other than the beach. The weather was perfect, low to mid 70's for the weekend with the nights and mornings down right cold.

This time around we ate at the Hognose Snapper and what a treat!  I had the best lobster spring rolls and their fried fish was battered just right.  I definitely recommend eating there while visiting PCB.

We also saw Lincoln while we were out of town.  It was a good movie, Daniel Day Lewis, looks amazing like Lincoln and I sure it will be nominated for many upcoming awards.  What courage it must have taken those men to vote "yes" to the Thirteenth Amendment.  We may have come from humble stock but we certainly had guts when it counted. 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

That's the ultimate goal of most turkey recipes: to create a great skin and stuffing to hide the fact that turkey meat, in its cooked state, is dry and flavorless.  Does it have to be that way? No. We just have to focus on what the turkey is and the turkey needs.
~ Alton Brown

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Dust Bowl

Photo Credit
Did anyone watch the PBS special on The Dust Bowl?  It has been on our local station the last two nights and what an amazing program.  Ken Burns does such a great job on documentaries.

"THE DUST BOWL chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the "Great Plow-Up," followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom seen movie footage, bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance. It is also a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us—a lesson we ignore at our peril".

Photo Credit
I had no idea the dust bowl lasted almost ten years and the amount of dust that was deposited is unfathomable.  Last night, they said during one storm over 14 inches of dust was deposited in just a couple of hours, can you imagine?  The dust was everywhere, in your clothes, your bed, your food (if you had any), the pictures are astonishing and shocking.  What resonated with me the most, was this was our fault and experts believe it could happen again!  How frightening that we learned nothing!

If you get a chance, watch the program, it was riveting.   

Monday, November 19, 2012

Artificial vs Real


Doodle and I are locked in the classic battle of getting an artificial tree versus a real tree this year.  We went and looked at artificial trees this weekend and everything looked, well, artificial.  Add to that, I want a flocked tree, he does not, and we just gave up in disgust and went home. 

Why is it so difficult to find a nice, reasonably priced artificial tree?  On the other hand, why are real trees so expensive also?  You cannot get a decent tree for under $80.00.  For a tree that you will recycle in three weeks!

How do you handle this dilemma?   Do you just spend the money on a real tree each year and enjoy or have you found that perfect artificial tree?


Sunday, November 18, 2012

What in the World?

Do you know what this is?  

Photo Credit
Doodle and I brought one home from Kansas, they were everywhere, lying on the ground.

It has a nice orange smell and has made the kitchen smell great.

The skin is rough and bumpy.  It is relatively hard and heavy.

The tree has huge thorns growing on all the branches.

Some people in Kansas call them "Hedge Apples".

Figured it out?

This fruit is from the Osage Orange Tree.  They grow throughout the great plains which explains why neither Doodle or I had ever seen one.  They were planted as living fences, makes perfect sense when you see them, they are usually in a straight line. In fact, looking back through the Kansas photos, you can see the trees.  Squirrels and deer like to eat the seeds from the inside of the orange, which from what I can tell is difficult.  One website recommends a hack saw to open the orange.

I think I am going to try growing one of these in the front yard... I mean if it grows in Kansas, why would not it grow in Georgia!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Fragments

Happy Friday once again!  As I say each week, Fridays just cannot come around fast enough!  I do not have too many fragments this week, nothing has been happening around these parts.

Mommy's Idea* This morning I asked Doodle if he could change one thing about me what would it be?  Is that not a loaded question!  He said he wishes I was more content.  I had a feeling he would say that.  Sometimes when I say something, I realize he is thinking that I am not happy, when really, I am just saying, wow, wouldn't it be great to have a houseboat or ten horses outside our window.  It does not mean I want the particular item but rather just the option to have it.

* This weekend we are trying another new recipe with shrimp and goat cheese.  I will let you know if it turns out and is worth sharing.

* Have you ever Googled yourself?  I did and while I did not find too much, I was amazed at some of the things I did find.  You never think that a company would just put your name out there but they sure do.  I then spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get my information off the site. 

* Our office had their Thanksgiving luncheon today, what a gigantic waste!

* I finished reading Game of Thrones by George RR Martin, what a great book.  Although I am quite dismayed that all the characters I liked seemed to die in the first book.

* Have a grand weekend everyone and no, the picture had nothing to do with this post, I just figured a photo is nice.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Soy Ginger Chicken

For awhile, Doodle and I were trying new recipes each weekend and loving it.  We found a couple of really good ones through Southern Living.  However, as is so often the case, we just stopped cooking, got lazy you could say and were back in the rut of having the same things over and over.  That all changed this past weekend when Doodle found two different slow cooker recipes. 

I have never really used the slow cooker, I am always worried that whatever it is may overcook and burn (yes, that happened... had to throw the entire cooker away... it was bad).  However, since I was home yesterday and had picked up all the ingredients over the weekend, we gave it a shot. 

The recipe was easy, especially if you actually buy skinned chicken.  Let me just say, buy the chicken skinned, I may never eat chicken again after yesterday!

Soy Ginger Chicken - Martha Stewart


Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches long), peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (1 cup packed)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 chicken drumsticks and 4 thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total), skin removed
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Directions
  1. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together soy sauce, sugar, garlic, cilantro, ginger, 1/2 cup scallions, vinegar, coriander, and pepper. Add chicken and carrots; toss to coat. Cover, and cook on low until chicken is tender, about 6 hours. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat from surface of cooking liquid.
  2. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Ladle 1 cup cooking liquid into measuring cup; whisk to combine. Pour into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil; cook until thickened, about 1 minute. With slow cooker turned off, stir in cornstarch mixture. Serve chicken with white rice, and garnish with cilantro sprigs and remaining 1/2 cup scallions.
I neglected to add the carrots, somehow I completely missed that part and I would have added a bit more corn starch to thicken the sauce to coat the meat.  Mine only cooked for 4 hours, which was plenty, the meat had fallen off the bones.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest natural resource - the minds of our children.
~Walt Disney

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Who Wouldn't Want to See a Polar Bear

Photo Credit
Did anyone see the list of Adventures that should be on your bucket list?  It was the Ultimate Adventure Travel Bucket List through Travel & Leisure.  I printed it and showed it to Doodle, as he is looking through the list, I can already tell that most of the adventures are not his speed.  Then he comes to meeting the Polar Bears in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.  I have been talking about this vacation for years now.

I excitedly exclaim, "Who wouldn't want to see a Polar Bear!"  Doodle just looks at me and giggles... I ignore the giggle, tell him the Polar Bears are dying out, we need to visit them soon.  By this point, he is unable to contain an outright laugh.  I give up!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Holiday Cards



Yesterdays shopping trip was great.  While we did not much actual shopping done.  We had a great day.  It seemed everything I wanted was at least $500.00... I could have easily spend thousands of dollars yesterday. 

COME ON LOTTERY!

I did get our holiday cards and just have to share, I love them! The inside reads "Never lose the magic!"


Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Fragments

Welcome everyone to another edition of Friday Fragments.  What a week it has been!

* Finally the political ads are done and finished for oh maybe the next six months before they start up again. I am grateful that I live in a country where we celebrate freedom of speech, but I wish there was a truth-o-meter with all these ads, speeches, and debates, perhaps, it would limit the number and scale of lies.

* I am sure the politicians would not say lies, rather, stretching of their truths.

* Why is my degree in Political Science again? 

* I am off today, a dear friend and I get together every November for our annual shopping day.  Back when her children were young, we shopped until we dropped.  Today, we will meet for breakfast, poke around some of our favorite stores, have lunch, laugh and talk, the shopping has taken a back seat the older her children of gotten.  In fact, her son is driving now... I just made myself feel old!

* The weather has turned colder here, we are freezing at night with highs in the 50's.  Although this weekend they are saying we will be back in the 70's and I wonder why I cannot find a thing to wear... how does one dress for 40 degree temperature swings?

* On a related note to the weather, I have to find new clothes for Shen, he is just not staying warm enough.  I have purchased and returned more outfits than I care to acknowledge to Petsmart.  I finally told the salesperson, either my dogs are getting fat or the clothes are getting smaller.  She said, it sounds a lot like her clothes, I had to agree.

* Have a grand weekend everyone.  Stay warm, safe, and dry.  If you are in the Northeast, know that everyone is wishing you well and that the power crews are working as quickly as possible.  It just takes time, trust me, I know! 


Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
~Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Road to Oz

Rounding out the last of the Kansas related posts, I thought I would share a couple of pictures that do not fit into a post.  As we were driving sometimes, we would see a sign that just made us laugh or smile.  Wouldn't it be fun to say you live in Yoder?  I mean really!
Or how about on the Oz Highway?

Overall we enjoyed our visit, the country is beautiful and the people friendly and welcoming.
I wonder where our next adventure will take us....

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Underground Salt Museum & Mine

The highlight of our trip to Kansas was a visit to the Underground Salt Museum. Before researching things to do in Kansas, I had no idea there was a salt mine, that you could visit.  How cool is that!  Doodle and I paid for all the tours, which included a visit to the museum, train, and dark tram tour.  When you arrive, you are ushered into a room and shown a safety video.  You are then outfitted with a hard hat and a breathing device that you have to keep on at all times.  Once that is completed you enter an elevator, really it is a metal box that clangs while it that takes you down 650 feet in total darkness.  It was so dark, you could not see your hand in front of your face.  The elevator opens and you are in the salt museum.  This part of the mine is no longer being actively mined and has been turned into a museum. 

It is amazing, you are surrounded by salt, ceiling, walls, floor.  They ask that you do not lick the walls... seriously, they ask you that.  There are various passageways that continue on forever, with exhibits that tell you about how the mine was found, old ways of mining, how they mine the salt now, and what is stored in the museum. 

None of the trash that the miners brought down ever went back up.  There are piles of trash from the 40's and 50's scattered around.  It is how they know when that part of the mine was blasted.  The train ride takes you past a part where the ceiling collapsed.  The driver assured us that would not happen in the museum. 

Doodle and I walked around in awe, we were in a salt mine, 650 feet down. The museum stores several famous Hollywood movie props as the temperature is always 68 degree with 40 percent humidity. 

The dark tram tour whisks you around another part of the mine where they found an almost pure 6000 pound chunk of salt, that is on display.  It also tells you that the mine is compressing on itself, but so slowly that it will not affect us.  Finally, you are taken to an area of mined salt and allowed to fill a small bag with salt.  Of course, I was the only one climbing to the top of the pile and was asked not to climb.  The good stuff was up there!


This is part of the large chunk of pure salt that the miners found. 
Doodle and I did sample a bit of salt, from the pile. It tasted like salt but saltier. 
  Whorls from the machinery used to mine the salt.  This is what all the walls and ceiling looked like.
The museum is amazing, people of all ages walking around in awe.  Looking up, pointing, it was a great couple of hours and well worth the money!  GO, VISIT!   

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

It dawned on me this morning that I never finished our adventures in Kansas.  I will get the final posts done this weekend, I really had been saving the best for last.  One of the areas that I wanted to be sure and visit was the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.  Early in the history of the United States, tallgrass prairie covered 170 million acres across the North America.  Now only about 4% remain most of which is located in the part of Kansas we were visiting.  I thought it very important that Doodle and I see this, since it is disappearing at an alarming rate. 

We looked at the webpage early and realized, we had to get a move on to arrive in time for their bus tour, so we drove, like the wind arriving with 5 minutes to spare, only to be told they did not have enough staff that day for the bus tour.  In fact, the ranger expressed concern that funding was dwindling and the preserve did not get that many visitors (hello, we are in Kansas).  We opted not to wait for the later bus tour but did the walking tour on our own.

 This is a joint venture between the Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service with the total area covering over 10,000 acres.  Part of the national preserve includes an 1881 ranch house, three story barn, and other various outbuildings.  Including a three person outhouse. Doodle and I enjoyed our visit to the area and talking with the volunteer in the house.  He was the one that told us how to tell if an area has been overgrazed and the different types of grass found on the prairie.  This is a definite visit, we need to support this new preserve to ensure it is available for generations to come.
 This is what you see in Kansas, miles and miles of it.  It was beautiful and haunting to think of the people that traveled in wagons.