Here I was, sorting through old photos, planning to clean some out in my getting-ready-for-new-years cleaning fest, when I see all these pictures of Mexican food. Now I am really hungry and we are supposed to have Corned Beef for dinner. Hmm. That is not very Mexican.
So, to get you in the mood for Mexican food, here are some old photos along with what they are, I think, and how they are made…
So lets recap guacamole:
Avocados from grandmas tree, salsa made from our own tomatoes and peppers, cilantro from the store because it keeps dying when I try to grow it, sour cream, some lime juice (didn’t grow the limes either, but some friend or other usually has a tree), salt and pepper. The salsa will add the heat, if you like it that way. Mix this all up and there you are jefe!
Or if I have a particularly wonderful salsa, I may just dice up some avocados and dump them into it. Not exactly guac, but it razzle-dazzles up the salsa.
I have tried making my own refried beans many times and am almost always disappointed. Then one magic day I found a recipe wherein I made the beans in a pressure cooker and the recipe included part of a can of evaporated milk. It was fabulous! But that’s all I remember of it and now I cannot find where that recipe was. I never did copy it so it is out in the virtual void of the internet somewhere. I will try to make them again some day, I am sure. But since I am pretty much the only one in the family that really likes them, more than likely we will stick to canned for now. If you have a tried and true recipe, share the love!
Say what? What about fish tacos? Oh yes my friend, we have the feesh tacos too.
Fry up some favorite fish, then break it up with a fork. Have your salsa, guacamole, shredded cabbage or lettuce, lime and cheeses ready. I also make a cream sauce with a mix of mayo and sour cream seasoned with either taco seasoning or a mix of cumin and other flavorful seasoning. Warm the flour tortillas. On your mark, get set, go! Cream sauce-fish-guac-cabbage-lime-cheese-salsa and top with chopped cilantro. There you are carino!
So there. While I may not be eating Mexican food tonight, I at least got to talk about it with you and share pictures. By the time you read this though, I bet I will be chomping my way through some nachos and tacos. Come join me!
So my sheriff uncle says he must not be a real man. Hard to believe when he is geared up in the vest and guns and cuffs and stuff. But he doesn’t like Quiche., so I don’t know.
I don’t think there is a point there.
I am going to sum up the last few days of my visit in beautiful Alexander City, Alabama.
I have met the most interesting people. For instance, just this morning I met the overnight guests that were here last night. They are from China, working for IBM. He is Australian. She is American but spent many years in London. They recently had a trip to Mt. Everest. Before that a while back it was the Himalayas. How they ended up in Alabama I am not sure. They were on their way to Florida. She did mention that the small town feel, the good mannered politeness and the slower pace reminded her husband more of Australia than, say, the east coast. But they were interesting to talk to, or listen to. Thats the way its been my whole visit. Interesting people with interesting stories. I love it.
I leave tomorrow and while I will miss the small town feel, the good mannered politeness and the slower pace, as well as my family here, I can’t wait to get back to my family back home too. I miss ’em, bless their little hearts.
Thats what you say here in the south a lot. And it has a variety of meanings. “Bless your little heart”. It can mean, “what a cute thing to do” or “you horrid creature, go find your mother and make sure she beats you with a stick”. I saw a tee-shirt that said “You’re not from the south? Well, bless your little heart”. I think it’s what southerners say when they don’t want to say something rude. (And rude does not fly here in the south!)So had you better watch their eyes when they say it. Watch for that glint of steel.
Tonight was a miracle. There was a wedding here in the side yard. An older couple getting remarried. Then they came in for dinner. All 57 of them. Imaging how much fun we had preparing and cooking all that food. I picked up some good tips. But what amazed me was the fact that they all came in to eat at 5:00 and by 6;10, the food was gone, the dishes were cleared, the chairs were put back and the house was back in order! Thats one hour! I can’t fathom it. They were still here opening gifts and throwing bouquets. But to eat and clean up, it was like the road runner and Speedy Gonzales were in charge or something. Is it that these southerners just take their eating so serious? They get right down to it, move on to the cake and out the door. My mind was spinning.
I got to visit the Cracker Barrel the other day. I did not realize it was an event. It thought it was just lunch! But the store in front of it was a blast to the past! I wanted everything, but had luggage size issues to keep in mind. So I just bought a bunch of old-time candy for the stockings. The food was just what I had been looking for, good southern fare, inexpensive and unpretentious.
I am sitting here in the breakfast room at the Mistletoe Bough typing to the sound of a million crickets looking for mates outside on this warm November evening.
It was a warm and breezy day with trees changing color and flowers still blooming.
4 days ago, as most of you know by now, I learned that I was being whisked away to visit my aunt in ‘Bamy as a birthday gift from my husband. I am staying in a large Victorian home, sleep in a big fat four poster bed in a large beautiful room with its own pinkalicious bathroom. This house was built around 1897 and renovated in the 90’s into the beautiful inn it is today. I came just in time to help her cater a wedding that is being held here this next Sunday. Even brought my own apron, just in case. (and while it might seem weird, my own ziplock bag of yeast. I would have brought flour, but it wouldn’t fit in the suitcase. And you know how yeast can be so pricey.)
The guests I met this morning were here for the big football game yesterday. I guess they take their football very seriously here. And they lost, for the first time in forever. But instead of trashing the rooms, they were quite perky and friendly this morning. They enjoyed fresh baked croissants, mini muffins, a fruit cup, juice and a potato sausage casserole that I am going to share with you. It really was delicious. Better than the recipe made it sound.
I have not gotten any good wide shots, but some close-ups from around the property and of the holiday regalia she already has up. We are finishing decorating some trees tomorrow. For today we got to visit with the guests, (one of whom loved to bake and talked sourdough with me) that were leaving this morning and then shopped till we dropped. I think I did drop. Especially after a huge lunch at Olive Garden involving pasta, creamy sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and bits of steak. At least I wish I could drop.
Instead I will share some more photos with you. Then I will share this breakfast recipe. Then I can drop.
Now you have been patient. Before I talk about the lost cemetery, I will share this recipe with you.
Sausage Hash-brown Bake:
you will need:
1 lb sausage, either cook and crumble some up or use sausage crumbles, all pre-cooked
1 2 lb bag frozen hash-browns, any kind, thawed (she thaws in fridge over night)
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. onion dip, like what you use for potato chips, the stuff the kids fight for at the holidays.
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 bell pepper chopped (she actually skipped the pepper and used red onions instead)
1/4 cup red bell pepper chopped
1 cup grated cheese of your choice, divided (she uses a cheese blend, cheddar and jack)
1/4 cup butter
In a big saucepan, mix soup, dip, 3/4 cup of cheese, onions and peppers and the butter. Stir over medium heat until warm and the butter is melted.
In a large bowl mix potatoes with the cheese mixture. In a greased 9 x 13 pan put a layer of half of the potato cheese mixture, sprinkle the sausage over that then the rest of the potatoes over the sausage. Now sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top and cover with foil.
Put in a 350 oven for 45 minutes.
Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes.
Serves 8 happy people. While it is baking you can be blogging with me or doing your nails, or playing with your aunts doggy, Max.
And now for this…
First my aunt told me to come outside for some excitement. Then she had me sit in the back of the open truck, legs dangling, while hanging on to the trash bin. She drove down the hill/driveway while I hung on to the trash, screaming the whole way down so she could put it on the curb.
Later she told me she had something exciting to show me. I was a little hesitant this time.
“It can’t be as exciting as the whole trash can thing.”
“No, maybe not, but it’s very cool” .
We had been driving in the middle of no where, which is pretty much most of Alabama, when she pulls over. I see a little wooden something, a gazebo?, standing amongst the trees. She traipses in and I follow. There is an enclosed grave belonging to a child who died at the age of 3 back in the early 1900’s around 1905 we think. His name was Looas Davis. At another site there was a baby grave named Davis who was only 3 months old when she died. Scattered amongst the trees and grass and vines we found all kinds of grave markers, some no more than crumbled granite or marble. Some just little nubs of rock sticking up. It was sad and charming and made us wonder. The engravings were kind of amateur and I am betting there were more that we could not see anymore under the soil. Some little community here in the woods, where they buried their young. The graves were so small. If there were adults buried there, we did not see if. They might have been worn down.
After that we went on the lake house then onward and upward to shop so I could get new boots at Kohl’s at 30% off, yahoo! My feet are happy feet now.
How come it is 2 hours ahead here, so it should be only 6:40 to me, and yet I am exhausted.
Jet lag I bet.
More tomorrow with pictures of some of the Christmas decorations and some bread I am making.
Here is another tid-bit about eggs you should know. A little tid-bit.
When you see a little speck in an egg you’ve crack open into a bowl, there is no need to panic.
I know some people think the speck (usually a red one) was going to be a baby chick. That is a fertilized egg. But think about it…
1) if it was fertilized, they would charge you loads more to buy them.
2) 99.9% of those hens never see a rooster so how could it be fertilized? Even chickens have to follow the basic laws of procreation. She needs a rooster to fertilize that egg.
So breath free and know you haven’t killed any future fuzzy little chicky when you crack open that egg.
Take a close look. See any difference? The one on the left a light lemon yellow and flattish. The one on the right an orange color, the yolk standing up firmer. Pretty easy to tell which one came from the chickens on our back yard.The ones that get let out to roam and eat grass and bugs and run around a bit.
The yolk has all the fats and lipids in an egg. Egg yolks are wonderful for dogs coats. Our dog gets one in his dinner most nights. Usually I slightly fry one up, so the yolk is still raw but the whites are cooked. Dogs, so I hear, have trouble digesting egg whites. Although it didn’t seem to bother our dog when he was stealing eggs and eating them shells and all. Maybe forbidden fruit digests better? We also give him coconut oil. I just cook the egg in it. That is also supposed to be magic for dogs.
Store bought eggs are cleaned and treated with a bleach solution to try to kill off salmonella. You must keep them refrigerated or they can deteriorate quite quickly.
Home grown eggs should not be washed until you are ready to use it, just wipe it off if needs be. They can be kept in the fridge too, but do not have to. If you little red hen has hid them and you finally find them, maybe with a clutch of 12, which means at least one is 12 days old, you can still eat them.
When the hen lays them there is a protective layer on them that dries on the shell. This keeps bacteria out while the hen keeps laying. If they are not washed, the protective layer works for you too. Once its washed, that layer of protection is gone and the porous egg-shell can now be infiltrated with bacteria and other unwholesome things.
Ever wonder why a hen can lay fertilized eggs at different times but have all the chicks hatch at once? It’s because they are dormant until the hen sits on them and the temperature of the eggs goes up. They all get warmed at once, they all start growing at once, they all hatch at once. And boy, are they cute?
Did you know tests done on free range eggs, eggs from hens that really and truly roam around a pasture all day, have several better qualities for you? They are lower in saturated fats and cholesterol, while having more vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, more vitamin E and D and lots more beta carotene. Thats from all the chlorophyll. The hens eat grass and other greens and the chlorophyll breaks down into more beta carotene for the eggs. Which is what makes the yolks so orangey. Nifty, huh? So “let them eat grass!” should be the mantra. I know when we keep the girls locked up for a while, no roaming privileges, the egg yolks are lighter, more yellow and less orange.
Our hens love flying bugs. Crawly bugs don’t impress them much. But if one of those bright green beetles flies by they get very excited, running and jumping a lot like raptors from Jurrasic park. I would hate to be one those beetles. The funny thing is, it’s almost like the buggers want to get caught. They will fly blithely through the cage, somehow not even realizing how close a brush with death they had, then turn around and fly right back into the pen! They rarely make it out alive a second time. Next thing I know the hens are fighting over a leg or a wing. Yep, tiny feathery dinosaurs is all those chickens are.
Here is an egg tip. Lets say you hard-boiled an egg. Then you wanted it chilled so you put it somewhere in the fridge. But then someone else comes along trying to be oh-so helpful and puts it back in with the rest of your eggs, never wondering why it might be out floating around on its own in the first place. Now you get to figure out which one was the hard-boiled one without cracking it open.
Easy! Just spin it. Yep, if it spins quickly, it is boiled. If it wibble-wobbles and spins slowly, it is still raw and the yolk is sloshing around inside slowing it down. There is your egg tip for the day.
Oh and for those of you that want to stand an egg on its end, but feel they need to wait for the equinox, never fear. You can, maybe, with much patience, stand an egg on its end any ol darn day of the year, not just on the vernal equinox. Sorry if I am raining on your astrological parade.