Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Using Tomatoes

Our tomatoes have been ripening the last couple of weeks and I am on a search for new ways to use them. In years past we would go to one of the local farms and pick tomatoes to supplement our meager crop and can jars of salsa. This year we plan to eat them as they ripen

One of my favorite dishes is Bruschetta. To make Bruschetta, I just chop up some tomatoes (any kind or size) add a little olive oil and fresh chopped basil. Stir it up in a bowl let it set a few minutes and serve it over some toasted bread (you can put a little more olive oil on the bread if you want)
In this photo I had also added mozzarella chunks to make it more of a meal.

Another one of my favorites is Avocado and Tomato Salad. To make this I simply chop up however much tomato I think we might want to eat, chop up an equal amount of avocado, add a little lime juice, sprinkle with cheese and you've got yourself a meal

Then of course there is the Tomato Sandwich. We like it with thick hearty Artisan bread with big slices of tomato, if you really want to get fancy you can add some lettuce and bacon and you've got yourself a BLT... am I making you hungry yet?

We have sliced them and topped them with tuna and chicken salad. 

Sliced as a side dish is always nice and we also dump them into all sorts of salads and pastas. Our "problem" is we don't have enough tomatoes to can but enough where we have to be vigilant about eating them. We gave some away, then the next day my husband came home from work with a half dozen more...a coworker wanted to bless him. Apparently our young son is having the same "problem" He counted over 60 green tomatoes on his plants. We would love to hear how ya'll use your fresh tomatoes...ideas accepted here

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Lake Adventure

 Let me tell you about our Lake House Adventure. A couple of weeks ago several family
members rented a Lake House within a couple hours drive from where we live. Four families would be represented, with a total of seven adults and four children, ages 2-12.

Five vehicles were loaded up with enough food and beverages to last us a week. Add to that linens, clothes, beach towels, water toys, a corn hole game a kayak and anything else we thought we might need for a weeks stay. My son's car was so packed they lost one child during a rest stop break. They didn't realize she never got out of the car, she was asleep, still buckled up, covered by water noodles.

The four families traveled separately, son and his family left a couple of hours before we did, hoping they could get into the house early. My husband and I drove separate cars because we were the ones that had the kayak. I followed what looked like an Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile for over two hours, I didn't have to worry about getting lost

When we got to the house things initially looked good, nice layout, enough room for everyone. We made the beds, put all the food away and headed out to the dock. We put the kayak in the water, blew up the inflatables (two that were large enough to hold small families) and settled in.

First hint that there might be a problem was when we saw a lake of water on the kitchen floor. Fridge was leaking from the ice maker. Easy solution, shut ice make off. Then we started to cook dinner,  fajitas were planned, I was in charge of grilling the vegetables, then problem #2 quickly surfaced. The grill temperature never got above 200 degrees, the gas bottle was full, so it looked like grill didn't work. I was starting to get a pit in my stomach, everything we planned to cook for the week's dinners was for the grill. My mind was racing, we can still make this work, we have a griddle, a broiler and a stove. Unfortunately things continued to go downhill. Problem #3, although the house had been listed as having central air there were no air ducts downstairs where three of the bedrooms were. The dehumidifiers in the downstairs hall should have clued us in right away. No a/c in the hot, humid south can be challenging.

The whole time these events were unfolding I kept praying for wisdom, this was for another family member to fix or not. I kept thinking, it's not about you, it's not about what you want or don't want. I had to go off alone a couple of times, cause sometimes there is just not enough duct tape to keep me from saying what I shouldn't. The Lord was faithful to me in this situation, in the end I was ready to accept whatever way this was going to end...God is after all, in control all the details of our lives

There is a wonderful ending to this story. The managing company got us into another house which was bigger and better equipped (two kayaks, a paddle boat and a air hockey game) But you know what that meant don't you. We had to load up all the food, undo the beds, and repack everything into those five vehicles to move to the new house, which was only a few miles away. We were quite the sight, especially since we decided not to deflate the inflatables but strap them onto the vehicles...anyone say Beverly Hillbilly's. Then we had to unpack everything all over again into the new house. We did it in about three hours...needless to say I was exhausted...but was worth it.

The week could have been a disaster but it wasn't, instead memories were made (some I'm sure we will laugh about in years to come) and relationships were renewed. What more could one ask of a family vacation

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Things Kids Say

We spent last week with my son's family on vacation, the last day of the trip just so happened to be his birthday.
I woke up that morning, looking for my usual cup of coffee, DIL and Little Miss were already up and had been talking about what they were going to do for Daddy's birthday. DIL said I needed to ask Little Miss what gift she wanted to get Daddy....okay I'll bite

Me: What do you want to get Daddy for his birthday?

Little Miss: A ranch

Me: A ranch? (I knew they were talking about getting a bigger house, but this seemed a little strange) 

DIL suggested I ask what kind of ranch she wanted to get her Daddy...apparently she had more information than I did

Me: What kind of ranch do you want to get Daddy?

Little Miss: You know the kind you crank

Me: (it took a few moments, I had only had a few sips of coffee) Ohhh,  you mean a wrench. (Apparently her southern drawl is getting a bit thicker)

He got his "ranches" 

Happy birthday to our son. We love watching you be a husband and a dad. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Citrus-Marinated Chicken Thighs

We eat lots of chicken at our house so I am always looking for different ways to prepare it. This recipe was in the August issue of bon appetit and it is fantastic.

Citrus-Marinated Chicken Thighs
1 bunch scallions
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems only
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp finely grated lime zeal
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp kosher salt
2 lb. skin on, bone in chicken thighs

Set aside 1/4 cup sliced scallions. Pulse cilantro, garlic, citrus zests, citrus juices, soy sauce, oil, salt and remaining scallions in a food processor or blender until a coarse puree forms.. Set aside 1/4 cup marinade, then place remaining marinade in a large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken, seal bag and turn to coat. Chill at least 20 minutes.
Preheat broiler. Remove chicken from marinade and place skin side down on a foil-lined broiler proof baking sheet; discard marinade. Broil chicken until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn; continue to broil until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees, about 12-15 minutes ( I did use a thermometer). Serve chicken with reserved marinade and scallions
Serves 4
Do ahead: Chicken can be marinated 2 hours ahead, keep chilled

This may sound a little labor intensive but I'm telling you, it's worth it. Great for a summer meal on the deck or patio

Monday, August 5, 2013

Random Weekend Happenings

This past weekend we decided to work on a more permanent solution for our deer problem. We had temporarily extended out picket fence with chicken wire so the deer would not jump over into our backyard. It has been successful, although there is evidence they they have continued to try to jump the fence.

We had resisted putting up a privacy fence on this side of the yard for a long time. We have always felt it isolates you from your neighbors...and makes a yard feel "closed in" but the deer aren't giving us any choice...so the picket fence and chicken wire started to come down and the privacy fence has begun to go up.

Did I mention we still had an extra pair of hands to assist...which was a good thing because I am only a mediocre assistant. We still have a long way to go but the posts are set and most of the framing is done (and the picket fence and chicken wire are down)...which is a good thing because our extra pair of hands leaves for home today.

 We really need to get the outer slates and the gate done by the end of the week. The hard part is done (I think) Looking ahead to some full evenings and a busy "Furlough Friday"this week.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Could it possibly be the beginning of August, which for me signifies the beginning of the end of summer

Taking the time once again to consider all the things I have to be thankful for
  • For small successes that encourage the heart
  • For young son who has done so much of the "heavy lifting" around the house the last couple of weeks. I have flower beds that have been mulched, holes that have been dug for plants and fencing. He has helped shop and cook and has been an extra pair of hands for his dad. We have enjoyed his visit so much and will miss him when he has to go back home. You have been a blessing to us son.

  • I know I say this all the time but I am thankful for friends who are willing to point me to the truth of the Word of God. I need these truths all the time, in every aspect of my life. I am thankful for have friends that are not afraid to speak into my life...even when it's hard
  • For unexpected company Tuesday night which made for a chaotic crazy evening, which we love, thanks Mic for thinking of us
  • For my DIL that brought over ice cream sundae makings Tuesday night. She wanted to make sure I could join in, so she brought nondairy ice cream just for me, I was really taken by that kindness (I am currently avoiding dairy to try to reduce inflammation....MD's idea after some testing she did)
  • For summer evenings that have been cool enough for us to sit outside after dinner...a fan helps
  • For family days with my older son and his family. I am thankful that they live close and include us in many of their activities
  • For a faithful God who is with us always, in good times and in bad, when the sun is shining and when it is not...He is faithful always
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,( *them* might be whatever is making you fearful right now) for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you  Deuteronomy  31:6