Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hot Dog Or Wiener

Let the confusion begin and lets begin with Wikipedia which says “A hot dog is a cooked sausage, traditionally grilled or steamed and served in a sliced bun as a sandwich” they later say “Common hot dog ingredients include: Meat trimmings and fat, Flavorings, such as salt, garlic, and paprika, Preservatives (cure) - typically sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite.”  Notice no mention of bun or sandwich.  This was accompanied with this photo labeled "Grilled Hot Dogs"

                                          Grilled hot dogs

According to Webster, a wiener is a “frankfurter” and a frankfurter is “a cured cooked sausage (as of beef or beef and pork) that may be skinless or stuffed in a casing.”

When I was growing up, we always grilled wieners from which to make hot dogs and I’ve ordered and eaten hundreds of hot dogs in my time and I never once expected to be served, nor did I ever get, just the meat.  So why when I go to the store can I find a pack of hot dogs?

Have you ever known a kid sing “I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer Hot Dog.”

In looking at Sam’s Club online, I’m happy to report that I found only a couple of packages calling themselves hot dogs, a few more called wieners, and the vast majority labeled as franks (perhaps because it sounds better than wieners).

Now that we have that cleared up, let’s discuss hamburger, which Webster says is:

a:  ground beef 
b:  a patty of ground beef
c:  a sandwich consisting of a patty of hamburger in a split typically round bun

Is it any wonder we have communication problems in America. I love to do food rants.   

Lifted this photo from Facebook.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Marco - Great Mexican Food & Ultimate Dippy Eggs

Happy Thanksgiving To Everyone

While in Marco, we were invited to lunch by friends Meakin and Sam (My Carolina Kitchen) at their home in Fort Myers and while I had my camera, not a single shot was taken.  This is their first season in this home having moved from a condo and they are in the process of updating and getting it to their liking - something they actually enjoy doing.

They served up a delicious Mexican Chicken Soup using a recipe from Ina Garten served with toppings of tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, and avocado.  Check out this link back to Sam’s blog for the recipe and photos.  Since I took no photos, I stole this one from Sam’s post.

The meal was served poolside on a nice Florida day and I now know for sure where to go in SW Florida for a great meal.  Thanks for a wonderful afternoon guys, it’s always so much fun to spend time with you.

Earlier in the week, Bev had bought some double yolked eggs from a farm stand while attending a crafts fair in Goodland and they were on the breakfast menu the next morning.  It took only a minute of thinking to decide that with four total yolks, they needed to be turned into sunny-side-up dippy eggs, sided with a pathetic little piece of leftover sausage (ignore it) and a slice of toasted rustic bread from the farmers market.

There was so much yolk I had to be careful not to run out of bread before egg - I'd like to know how many times I've had this meal in my lifetime - I'm sure it's a pretty big number.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


11/18 – 11/19/13 meal dates

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marco – Lunch at Triad Seafood Market & Café

This day we continued in our search of good restaurants in the Marco Island area in hopes of avoiding tourist food – mediocre food at high prices.  After reading the local guides, researching the on-line restaurant ratings, and talking with some locals, we decided to try the Triad in Everglades City, about a 30 mile drive from our resort. 

The Triad was pretty much a dive situated along the river next to commercial fishing boats – it is a seafood market after all. 

There appears to be a small commercial fishing business on the island and with all of the traps sitting around, I assume it’s mostly stone crab fishing.  From the following shots on either side of the Triad, I have to say that the fisherman don't run a particularly neat operation.

We looked over the Triad menu and found Stone Crabs were in season and for a mere $75 we could eat all we wanted, otherwise they’re about $4 each – I’m not really that fond of them anyway. 

So we looked over the menu and Pat ordered the fried Grouper Basket and Bev and I each had the fried Seafood Basket ($16), which had shrimp, oysters, clam strips, and grouper and sided with fries, a little slaw, and sauces.

I thought our seafood was very, very good - fresh and lightly breaded with Drakes, which I'd never heard of.  I loved the fries and the same type seem to be served around the area - they are super crispy as if they have a light breading on them. After a little questioning and research, I learned that they are Colossal Crispy fries from Lamb Weston.

If were just the food, this would have been a great dining experience and we would definitely go back, but the service was terrible, even though they had just a few customers - we may give them another chance next year.

We finished up the day with this sunset from the condo.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


11/17/13 event date

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Marco – Beef Fajitas - Delicious

For the trip to Marco, I brought four things from the freezer: a pork tenderloin for Pork Diane, the salmon that I forgot to give to Lea Ann & Bob while in Denver for their Salmon Saturday, a pork loin roast, and a piece of flank steak for fajitas - after we got to Florida Bev advised we also had a piece of skirt steak in the freezer so I wish I’d told her what I was planning to cook before we left home. 

Before leaving for Florida, I had already decided to use Alton Brown’s recipe for the meat as adapted by Joshua Bousel over at Meatwave and shown below.  Check his site for some great shots of the process and final product, and his cooking directions.  I followed the marinade recipe as written.

FajitasAdapted from Meatwave and from Alton Brown

For the marinade:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
4 scallions, washed and cut in 1/2
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar

2 pounds inside skirt steak (I used flank steak)
4 bell peppers, various colors, cut into grill size pieces
1/2 large purple onion, cut into slices
1/2 large white onion, cut into slices
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Fajita size flour tortillas
Pico de gallo

1. Place all marinade ingredients in a blender and puree.
2. Trim the steak and cut into four equal pieces.

3. Put pieces of steak in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade all over. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible and allow the steak to marinate for 1 hour flipping half way through (I did it on the counter so the meat could be coming to room temperature while marinating.

Time to go cook.

4. Since I had only access to a gas grill at the resort, I got is as hot as possible.
5. Brush the vegetables with olive oil season with S&P and grill over the cooler part of the grill until softened and lightly charred.  Remove and seal in a foil pouch to finish cooking with their own steam while the meat cooks.  I laid them on some grill grates after the heat was turned off.

6. Add the steak to the hottest part of the grill, season with S&P, and cook on each side 3-5 minutes. Remove the steak from the grill and wrap in foil and allow to rest 10-15 mins.

7. After removing the meat and vegetables, heat the tortillas on the grill until soft, wrap in foil and head back to the condo.
8. Unwrap the meat and veggies and slice as desired.  Thanks to the uneven heat on the grill, I was able to get meat that was medium-rare, medium, and in between from the same cooking time which was perfect for us.
9. Assemble fajitas with the vegetables, steak, and toppings of shredded cheddar, guacamole, salsa, and pico de gallo. I had three, each with one of the toppings – Bev made the pico and the other two came from the farmers market.  Can't believe I forgot the cheese on mine.

I thought all of mine were delicious, especially the one with the best guac I’ve ever eaten.  We haven't made fajitas in a while and all I could say was "what have I been thinking."  After eating a couple of slices of just meat, this will be the new go-to marinade for fajitas and since it was pretty thin, the flank steak worked just fine - but I will be looking in the freezer for that skirt steak.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


11/16/13 event date  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Marco - A Simple Salad With Valdeon Blue Cheese

Bev and Pat went to the Wednesday morning farmers market on Marco Island and came home with a few goodies to make a salad.  While this is just your basic tossed salad, it was totally delicious thanks to the ingredients. 

You just take fresh veggies and greens, some good salami and cheese, good dressing, homemade croutons, and some Spanish Valdeon Blue Cheese ($36/pound) and you have a pretty fantastic dinner meal.

The star of the meal was our first time with this blue cheese.  It was tangier and more creamy than any other blue cheese I've eaten and I really liked it - can't afford it often, but really liked it. 

Queso de Valdeón is a Spanish blue cheese made in Posada de Valdeón, in the northeast of the province of León.  It is made from a blend of raw cow and goat milk then naturally inoculated from the outside-in with the penicillium molds, while aging in limestone caves for 2-4 weeks.  It is a rich and creamy, full-flavored blue cheese, stronger than Stilton but less intense than Cabrales.  The Valdeón wheels are wrapped in Sycamore leaves which contribute to their distinctive appearance and complex flavor.  

They also came home from the FM with the best guacamole I've ever eaten - I must go next week.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


11/13/13 event date

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday Humor – Eating Dogs

A friend sent me this and I had to post it.

Two Irish nuns have just arrived in the USA by boat, and one says to the other, "I hear that the people in this country actually eat dogs."

"Odd," her companion replies, "but if we shall live in America, we might as well do as the Americans do."

As they sit, they hear a push cart vendor yelling, "Hot Dogs, get your dogs here," and they both walk towards the hot dog cart. 

"Two dogs, please!," says one. The vendor is very pleased to oblige, wraps both hot dogs in foil and hands them over. Excited, the nuns hurry to a bench and begin to unwrap their 'dogs.'

The mother superior is first to open hers. She begins to blush, and then, after staring at it for a moment, leans to the other nun and in a soft brogue  whispers:

"What part did you get?"

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Marco – The Rental Condo

I’ve been fooling around with rental property for about 30 years and when I inherited a one bedroom condo in Florida, I decided to rent it in case we wanted to use it at some point in the future.  I was lucky enough to get a tenant who lived there for the entire dozen years I’ve owned it.

Unfortunately she finally got to a point that she could not live alone and moved out so I was faced with the decision of what to do now.  During the Marco trip, Bev and I made the 2½ hour drive up to Bradenton to inspect it and meet with a realtor.

I believed that the tenant had taken very good care of the unit so I was a little shocked at what I found even though she had advised she would not be able to clean it.

I didn’t realize she was a smoker and everything in the condo had a coat of sticky residue on it – the wire shelves in the closets were very sticky to the touch and will require replacement.

Prior to the condo visit, I had talked with my realtor daughter, Kathy, and she had talked with the local realtor, so after a little discussion, we decided to sell it.  As it turned out, we were even able to meet with a contractor to get a price to get it in shape to sell.  From this point the realtor will look after everything – I like that part.

I always thought it would be nice to have a doctor, a lawyer, and an airline employee (relatives used to fly free) in the family but have now decided a realtor is better than either the lawyer or airline employee – I’d still like a doctor though.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


11/14/13 event date

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Marco - Red Rooster Breakfast

All for all the remaining marbles in the pot – what’s my favorite meal of the day?  Anyone not say breakfast?  There are many restaurants on Marco Island and most of them serve tourist food – mediocre at high prices – so we’re always looking for some good places - usually where the locals eat.  So far, our favorite breakfast haunt has been Hoot’s but we decided to give the Red Rooster a try.

Like many of the restaurants in Marco, it was in a strip mall and a relatively small place.

Being in Marco before the season starts, we were promptly seated and waited on - the room was a little more than half full. 

Bev had the Huevos Santa Fe containing chorizo, black beans, cheese, green chiles, and eggs, sided with home fries, salsa, and sour cream.

She thought the Santa Fe was pretty good but she would not order the potatoes again.  I couldn't believe she would order Tex-Mex food in Florida after recently spending six weeks eating the good stuff out west. 

Pat had the Scrambled Egg Croissant special which had cheese and bacon and sided with hash browns.

She thought hers was very good and I thought it looked awesome – look at those fluffy eggs.

I tried the Irish omelet which was stuffed with corned beef, onions, and Swiss cheese sided with hash brown casserole and rye toast.

Since I try to order the food that is likely to be the specialty or favorite of the area (I know where most of the Marco Islanders hail from), I thought mine was very good and would order it all again.  I guess it’s the influence of those who reside and visit here, but rye toast is nearly always on the breakfast menu and all that I’ve had has been outstanding and some is made on-site.

Total cost of the meal was $30.50 (Bev and Pat drank just water) so we were paying the somewhat higher Marco prices but not the even higher tourist prices and the food was certainly above mediocre, so I walked away satisfied and would eat there again.

And what do you do while sitting on your condo balcony in the evening, why watch a wedding of course.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


11/12/13 meal date

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Marco - The 2013 Visit & Pork Diane

After getting the house/dog sitter settled in, we headed off for our normal two week time share vacation at Marco Island, FL.  I didn’t make the trip last year but came this time as I had a piece of property I needed to arrange to sell – left from my family. 

I’m not a big fan of heading to the heat of Florida, soon after the cool fall finally replaces the summer heat at home and one of the reasons for the RV is so we can travel with the dogs.  But, alas, Bev and Pat really like this trip so it stays on the agenda but it may be a fly-down-there-for-them from now on while I dog-sit.

I’ve posted about The Charter Club before but here is a brief recap via shots from our balcony.

 Madison, Bev, & Pat enjoying poolside.

Our first in-condo meal was courtesy of Pam at For The Love Of Cooking using her recipe for Pork Tenderloin Diane.  Please check Pam’s site for photos and the recipe which I followed as written but made double the sauce and served it by individual plate rather than on a platter.  I served it over potatoes mashed on the plate and a salad that Bev whipped up.

I added sauce to the potatoes then topped with the meat then a little more sauce.  Since I’ve become a fan of lemon butter sauce I thought the meat was very good, but it was a bit over powering for the potatoes – solution: a piece of meat and some potatoes in each bite.  Thanks Pam for a very good meal.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


11/10/13 event date

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Montezuma Pie

Bev decided she wanted to turn the remaining Cuban pork roast into Montezuma Pie using a recipe from My Recipes.

2 medium tomatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 flour tortillas
Vegetable oil
2 cups cooked, diced pork
1 (8-ounce) carton commercial sour cream
3 whole green chiles, chopped
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Hot pepper slices

1. Place tomatoes in container of an electric blender; process until pureed. Combine tomatoes, onion, and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil . Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until onion is tender.
2. Cut tortillas into fourths; fry in 1/4 inch hot oil 5 seconds on each side or until softened and lightly browned. Drain well.
3. Layer one-third of tortillas in a lightly greased 2-quart casserole. Layer half of tomato mixture, diced pork, sour cream, green chiles, and cheese over tortillas. Repeat procedure.
4. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Place remaining tortillas around outside edge of casserole. Bake, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with hot pepper slices. Serve immediately.

Cooks notes: 
1. You’d better fry up extra tortillas or you may not have enough for the pie - with a little salt, they are addictive. 
2. I changed the cooking times a little based upon our outcome.

I’m not sure how much the flavors in the Cuban pork influenced the final taste of the dish, but I thought it was OMG delicious and when Madison tried it, she had a similar reaction.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


11/3/13 meal date

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Some Thoughtful Philosophies

A girl I grew up with, who is now a 67 year old cancer survivor, has been posting a lot of philosophies on Facebook and here are some I like.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.