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FL Heat

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  1. First off, thank you all so much for visiting with us. It's been a pleasure and an honor to show y'all our food. TJ worked the grill tonight and I made mac n cheese (whole wheat). Mia played outside while he grilled, and she let us know when she was ready for her pig ear. I taught her "Show me", which means go to the cabinet the treats are in. . . (Yes, TJ did in fact grill in shorts, a t-shirt, and houseshoes.) I realized too late that there were no breadcrumbs in the house, so. . .I just browned the cheese on top a little more. And the joy of TJ's life, finely grilled steaks. That's a black angus sirloin & two filet mignons. I had part of a filet, he had a large portion of the sirloin. Don't worry, the leftovers will probably be gnawed upon by the manly man for breakfast. And as promised, tangerines from the neighbor's tree. I'm holding them so you can get perspective on how tiny they are. But packed FULL of flavor. Just SO tart and juicy and sweet and. . .mmmm. And the tree. Sorry about the finger in the upper corner, don't know whose that could be. . . Thank you all again! I hope weather clears up soon where it's crummy, and that it stays beautiful where it's already paradise. Here's a parting shot of us, taken a few months ago, but it's food-related! We were on our way to eat in Las Vegas! Diana (and TJ and Mia and the elusive & camera-shy kitty, too)
  2. A quick note on the herb garden. . .be sure one end is just a bit higher (we went an inch) than the other, and drill drainage holes in the bottom. We lined the whole thing with black plastic (to prevent any accidental leakage onto the house) on the inside, and he built it out of pressure-treated lumber so that it'd last a long time. Lining the bottom with styrofoam peanuts (for more drainage), then filling with the dirt stuff was the route we took. Looking back, I probably should have planted the dill in the middle, but I really had no idea it'd grow as fast as it has. The original plan was to have that fragrant rosemary bush underneath the window. . .the best laid plans. . . I did my weekly grocery shopping today, and I hope to grab a picture of the neighbor's tangerine trees and a tangerine or two a little later today. I'm waiting for it to be a little sunnier, since those tangerines are heavenly when the sun's been warming them. I'm drooling just thinking about it. Diana
  3. I haven't been out there much (except to shop!) Susan, but I'll see what I can find out. Maybe we'll have to hit the mall together. . . Capicolla! Yes! I think it might be purchased on the next trip to the Italian Market. . . Diana
  4. Dinner was soooooooooooo good. We got the antipasti platter (a small one), which we hadn't before, and really enjoyed it. There was a ham-type meat which the waitress said was "cappicoa" or something similar. Spicy spicy! It came with the salad dressing that is the whole reason we get their salads. It's balsamic vinegar, olive oil. . .and we taste garlic & black pepper. But no idea what else, except that it's incredibly addictive. We dip the bread in it, and if it weren't bad manners, would probably order it in a wine glass. TJ got a calzone. It's full of cheese & pepperoni, and comes with a bowl of sauce on the side. It's fun to say "EXCALIBUR!" when he pulls the knife out of the crust. I had the shrimp fradiavolo. Most times it's spicy. . .tonight it was BLAZING. In a good way. My lips were numb by the end of the meal. Half of it came home for lunch tomorrow. Now, as we were waiting for the check, some other folks came in. One woman in particular was wearing enough perfume that it was bothering US. Why would you bother going out to eat wearing that much, when everything you eat is going to taste like your perfume anyway? Blech. We stopped at our favorite ice cream shop afterwards. They serve a locally made brand of ice cream that is flavorful & full of chunks of all kinds of good stuff. Haven't had anything there that wasn't delicious. As mentioned above, here's a picture of the globe basil growing. . . And here's what part of a "globe" looks like. . . Tomorrow's the last day, so please come on over for steaks from the grill. TJ's eager to show off HIS skills Diana
  5. VERY different? Not particularly. I think on the tag it's called "Spicy Globe Basil", it's a little more peppery than regular basil (which is in a pot with tomato plants), but the "globe" is what appeals to me. It grows in clumps on stems, so when you pick it, you just snap off part of a globe and it's a perfect amount. I'll snap some later this evening and take a closer picture to show, since the explanation sounded a lot better in my head than it does typed out. . . We'll be going to my personal favorite restaurant in the "neighborhood" tonight. It's a family-run place called Dal'Italia, and is right across the street from a Melting Pot. Whenever we go and sit next to the windows, I feel sorry for the people at Melting Pot, since there's no way what they're eating is nearly as good as what we're eating. There's a big brick oven and a tiny Italian woman in the kitchen. Her daughters are the waitstaff, their children bus tables & do some of the table service. It's very casual & simple, nothing extraordinary at first glance, but the food is just outstanding. A friend of ours who has Italian family says it's very much like the food she grew up on. The second time we went, I asked if it was possible to buy just the pizza dough (because it's SO good). The waitress went to ask her mom, who unleashed a string of (presumably) expletives in Italian, and stated repeatedly (and loudly) "NO NO NO". Then she went back to singing in the kitchen. The waitress came back, her face a little red, and said that she couldn't sell the pizza dough, but we could buy all the plain pizzas we wanted Diana
  6. Yep, cube steak! The meat market was running a nice special on it this week. Mom & Dad (who live in Illinois right now, but spent most of their lives in Texas) can only find it at Whole Foods up near them. . .and you should hear Dad complain about the cost of organic, free-range cube steak. . . Oh, and Daddy-A. . .the pig ears are purchased in bulk from Costco. . .we live maybe too much in the city to get away with lugging a whole pig home. . .though. . .maybe, if we did it at night. . . Diana
  7. Evening! Dinner tonight was chicken fried steak and sauteed sugar snap peas with garlic. Then a raspberry-vanilla mini-cake from Mazzarro's. Absolutely fantastic. I like raspberries, but after that, I REALLY like raspberries. And for the snowbound, a picture of the herb garden that TJ built on the side of the house, right under a kitchen window. From left to right: oregano, chives, globe basil, rosemary, thyme, dill (the BIG one), and parsley Diana
  8. Sorry for the lateness of the first post of the day, had a wee bit of stomach trouble this morning. Took a trip to Mazzaro's Italian Market & Coffee Roasters early this afternoon. I forgot how crowded Florida can be this time of year, so pictures are unavailable. Too crowded and my basket was kinda heavy When you walk in, the registers are on your right, and the cheese & meat section on your left. A big freezer case full of cheese, then two large refrigerated bins with even MORE cheese. Behind the cheese case, they're usually bagging up balls of fresh mozzarella. Next to that is the meat/fish/poultry case, full of all kinds of prepared and fresh meats. You walk through a narrow area that contains another freezer case, this one full of their lasagna trays and other frozen entrees, plus a refrigerated case with European butters & milks, plus fresh salads & yogurts to pick up and eat on the run. Through the skinny area, past the vegetables & fruit, to the huge display of coffee beans. I always feel a little guilty that I don't drink coffee when I pass by there, because it just looks so. . . .delicious. The shop opens up again, and there's a deli on the left (full of just everything you could imagine an Italian deli having), and a fresh pasta counter (my lunch for today & tomorrow was a piece of spinach & sun-dried tomato lasagna from there). The middle section is large racks of olive oils, vinegars, imported packaged breads & sweets, and bottled goods. Next to the fresh pasta area are all the packaged pastas, shop-made sauces, bottled & canned sauces, canned tomatoes, and all sorts of fun condiments & stuff. There's a tremendous wine selection, focusing primarily on Italian wines and liquors (and liquers!). If anyone knows of a wonderful Italian wine that isn't over $20, I'll pick it up next time I'm there, but my grasp of Italian wine is infintesimal. There's a wonderful bakery with fresh breads & sweets (two of which I picked up for us to share the next two nights), shop-made gelatos and a coffee bar. On Saturdays, they've always got a wine vendor there giving samples and nearly always a band playing near the coffee bar. Really a treat. . .but waaaaay too crowded this time of year. Below is a picture of what I bought, if anyone has any great suggestions for what to try with any of the stuff, I'm game! In case you can't read the labels, the cheeses are Pepato (soft), Tillsit, and Maytag Blue (I know plenty to do with the blue, but I buy other cheeses just to see what they taste like). The vinegar is an apricot balsamic, I figure it'll be tasty in salad dressings. The two desserts are an Italian rum cake and a raspberry vanilla cake. Dinner tonight is chicken fried steak YAY! Diana
  9. Susan, from what I understand, pineapple plants make one pineapple, three years after being planted. Not for the impatient gardener, I suppose. Glad none of your stuff took the cold badly! Dinner tonight. . .roasted sweet potatoes, pecan-crusted chicken. Maybe "pecan-crusted" isn't the right name. It's an amalgamation of several recipes. To make the cooking time faster (the sweet potatoes were coming along faster than I expected), I sliced the chicken breasts into smaller strips. Dunked them each in honey, then into a food-processor-ground mixture of whole wheat flour, pecans, and kosher salt. Baked at 350 for about 15 minutes. Sliced up a tomato from the Sat AM Market, and I had a glass of Franz Reh 2002 Peisporter Michaelsburg Auslese Reisling. TJ had a big glass of water. Mia had Science Diet Lamb & Rice. And a pig ear. TJ's words of advice: "You know, it was a really good dinner, honey, but from this angle (looking at the picture), the chicken looks furry." Rest assured, the chicken is not furry. Diana
  10. Brrrrr.. ...I know I won't get sympathy from people who live where it's REALLY cold, but 40 first thing in the morning IS cold for this part of the US! Breakfast was yogurt & a tangelo; TJ had his cereal & english muffin (at least, that's how it sounded & smelled, I stayed under the covers!). Several months back, I put us on the South Beach program, with the recipes & knowledge I had, not necessarily with the recipes from the book. It worked phenomenally well for TJ, he lost about 40 pounds. I lost 12. Life's so unfair. At any rate, since then, I make a South-Beach-inspired lunch for him in the evening for him to take to work the next day. The lunches usually look like this: Plenty of fruits & vegetables, plus enough protein & fat to keep him feeling full. Mine is usually simpler. . today the rest of the apple walnut chicken salad on whole wheat and Triscuits with spicy hummus. And, since I think she feels left out of the whole blog thing, Mia the beagle made an appearance in the kitchen today, woefully watching me while I made lunch, so I promised that I'd put her picture in today, and she made me swear to take pictures of her dinner tonight, too. Hers will be. . .kibble. Ours will be pecan-crusted chicken and roasted sweet potatoes. Something nice & soul-warming for a cold day. Mia also mentioned I might want to take pictures of the squirrels & birds & their dining area in the backyard. . .and I will, just not today. How about a thriving pineapple plant instead? My brother was stationed in Hawaii and we went to visit him (with my mom & dad) two years back. We brought back pineapples (legally!), and planted the top of one of them to see if it really would grow. And it's done pretty well! Diana
  11. Technically, we have a freeze warning; in all likelihood, our backyard (where anything delicate is) won't freeze, it's protected from northern winds really well. So the tomatoes, pineapple plant, and papaya tree are safe & sound! The herb garden should be sturdy enough, it's got an eastern exposure and gets really warm in the afternoon. Plus we're only about 7 miles from the water, so it never really freezes. . . .frost, once in a while, and if we were further inland I'd worry, but the nice peninsula we're on moderates the temperatures really nicely. I took some photos of the food plants when it was sunny, I'll put them up tomorrow so we can all remember warmth and sunshine. Diana
  12. Happy Sunday! Breakfast didn't really exist this morning....lunch was simple. TJ had a leftover roast pork sandwich and some of the leftover fruit salad: I had an apple walnut chicken salad sandwich on wheat (I buy the wheat bread from the Publix bakery--reasonably priced, and so long as it's kept in the fridge, keeps for the whole week) and some leftover cole slaw. Dinner was at Beef O'Brady's, a Florida chain of sports-type-restaurants. The buffalo sauce is good, the one near us has plenty of TVs and isn't usually overcrowded, plus TJ says the beer is cold, which makes it plenty good enough for football watching & dinner. We started off with potato skins. I wondered what they did what the rest of the potato, since this place doesn't serve mashed potatoes. Maybe they're food-service potato skins? I dunno. One of the great mysteries of life. A little while later, I had a buffalo chicken salad. . .which is romaine with a sliced chicken breast that's made buffalo-style, croutons, parmesan, and either blue cheese, ranch, or oil & vinegar for dressing. And in his first attempt at food porn, TJ photographed his buffalo wings. (--cue angels singing in the background--) Don & Laura (from previous entries) joined us, but I think they're kinda over having their food photographed, so I let them slide tonight. Tomorrow's a normal day, and I hope everyone has a great Monday! Diana
  13. The Cuban place was called La Fonda, on S MacDill Ave, near a big pink building called the St Croix Office Complex or somesuch. Down near where Mike's Pies USED to be (they aren't there anymore, either!). . .and a fancy day spa, whose name escapes me at the moment. As to the new places. . .chances are good we won't be the ones to find them, we're a lil bit behind the power curve on that! But we're planning to go to Dal'Italia sometime this week. . .mom & pop place, I think I told you about it already Diana
  14. Whew. I'm beat. Not long after we got home this morning, we had to start the prep work. We have two rubs that we keep on hand, a "sweet" rub and a "Texas" rub. Both are based on recipes from Steven Raichlen's "Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades". We use the "Texas" rub (it's spicy!) on the brisket, and the sweet rub on the pork. Brisket (why, yes, those ARE my hands, and I AM doing the dirty work!) For the pork shoulder, we put on a paste of plain yellow mustard and the sweeter rub: TJ had to make his barbecue sauce. I've been sworn to secrecy regarding the recipe, but this is how it looks before it starts cooking: He got the meat into the smoker. . .the brisket we cut into two pieces to shorten the cooking time, and put them on the top racks, the pork shoulder is on the bottom. Is there anything more beautiful than a smoker at work? That was my mom & dad's smoker, but they downsized into an apartment, and for some reason, the management wasn't real thrilled with the idea of a slow-burning fire generating lots of smoke for hours on end. So we got it Back inside, I was working from my mom's oldest cookbook, making baked beans. I'd never done that before. They were pretty good, but I wanted to show just how well-loved this particular book is. This page isn't where the baked beans recipe came from, but it's just. . .touching to see the stains & wear of time. So to accompany the pork & brisket, I made cole slaw (from TJ's grandma's recipe, given to me by his mom), the baked beans, and he grilled corn that we bought at the Market this morning. That's 7-year-old Rachel wolfing down a brisket sandwich in the background. She'd never had it before, but by the end of the night, wandered up to the platter, grabbed a piece with her hands, ripped it in half, and wandered off gnawing on it The pork shoulder was chopped (look, we were hungry, and it finished late, no time for pulling). . .look at the beautiful smoke ring! The brisket was sliced. . . . And after a trio of cookies (gingerbread-type, chocolate chip, and snickerdoodles), this is what the clean up crew found on the previously full brisket platter: I'm from Texas, my brother & dad went to the University Of Texas (I went to Austin College, which isn't in Austin), and mom & dad send us shirts from UT whenever they visit, hence TJ's "TEXAS SOCCER" shirt in the brisket picture. He wore it special for the photographs Tomorrow's football day (American football, anyway), so chances are good some sort of sports bar food will be involved. Oh, and I ended up putting 1 quart of the strawberries into a salad with some tangeloes and red grapes. Rachel liked the grapes. Assorted other adults picked out the strawberries. So I'm still open for ideas about what to do with a whole 'nother quart of the things. Y'all have a good night, and dream of brisket! Diana
  15. It was empty this time, just has a neat pattern, but when the market is jumping (we were there about 9AM, when it opened, but after 11 it's a madhouse), they keep ready-to-go skewers of fruit, so after making a smoothie, he throws a skewer in. Diana
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