Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cuban Stuffed Pork tenderloin Ala Pam

A couple of weeks ago, Pam over at Pam’s Midwest Kitchen Korner posted a recipe for StuffedCuban Pork Tenderloin and I immediately wanted to make it in the smoker.  So the last BBQ day, I made several for customers and us.

I started by trimming it up, splitting it lengthwise and pounding it to flatten a little.

Then I spread on some Dijon mustard, dried oregano, and S&P.

Then I added some good baked ham, Guggisberg Swiss cheese, and Clausen dill pickle slices.

Lastly, I rolled it up and tied with butcher twine.

After two like this I decided to pound the ends a little flatter and fold them in to square it up some, then repeated the assembly process.

Since they were flatter, I used my rib rack to help them stand up and retain the cheese – I lost just a little.

The only one I got a finished shot of was a round one.

I really liked the flavor and will make them again but will do a couple of things differently.  First, I’ll square them up again but pound them even flatter, then I’ll use shredded cheese and diced pickles which will allow me to roll them into more of a pinwheel.  I will also add more mustard and more oregano to the inside and also to the outside to give the pork more flavor and I’ll sprinkle on some paprika to give the outside more color.  Finally, since mustard usually loses most of its flavor in the smoker, I’ll serve it with a mustard sauce.

Thanks Pam for the great idea and I look forward to the next time I make it.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  Nothing again


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fall Creek Falls Day 2

Yesterday I posted about our first day at Fall Creek Falls State Park on our initial RV camping trip and this post will cover the rest of the trip.  I’d showed a shot of the falls and here is another view with the first one being a more normal flow (pic from the web) and the second as we saw it.

Here we all are back on day one at the falls overlook.

After our bike trip and a nap by the other three (I’m not a napper, I just go to bed early), for supper, Pat and Steve whipped up grilled cheeseburgers, baked beans, and potatoes cooked in foil and it was all delicious, really hitting the spot – this is mine, with the tomato a little ragged on this side.

Sunday for breakfast I fixed my favorite camping breakfast – sausage gravy and biscuits (baked at home and nuked to reheat), fried eggs, sausage, sliced tomatoes, and Bev cut up a delicious cantaloupe – can’t believe I forgot the pic – the aroma must have overwhelmed me.

After breakfast and sitting around the fire sipping coffee, we broke camp, toured the park in Pat and Steve’s RV, and checked out some other falls and the Caney Creek Gorge – this is Piney Falls, or it would have been with water - now it's just a wet spot.

Just back from Piney Falls

I did a little research but didn’t find anything about the gorge formation but it is very impressive even without the water falls.

This trip was a test of how we did with the RV and how the dogs did and we were very pleased with both.  We weren't concerned about Sweetie as she minds well and hangs around us, but Coco is more apt to bark at things and run off.  Happily she did very well and both seemed fine with being left in the camper for a few hours while we biked.

After the tour, we headed home with a stop-over at Chestnut Hill Winery, near Crossville, for a sample and a few bottles of, mostly muscadine, wine which we thought were very good.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  I took a few days off after my blogiversary.


Monday, August 29, 2011

It’s Just Like Riding A Bike

How often have we heard this expression when someone is talking about the ability to pick something up after many years and I now have first-hand knowledge, but let me digress.  I’d posted sometime back that Beverly bought us a motorhome and after a couple of trips to the shop for HVAC repairs, we were finally ready for our maiden camping voyage.

Our friends and neighbors, Pat and Steve, are experienced RVer’s and they agreed to accompany us on a weekend trip over to Fall Creek Falls State Park – about 100 miles away.  This way if we ran into any snags, we had some knowledgeable help with us.  None of us had been to the park in many years and Bev had never been.  We left early afternoon on Friday, got there around 3pm, and they came down after work, arriving about 7pm.  We had two sites close together, but we were somewhat isolated from our neighbors, so it worked out just perfect.

 We were all set up and when they arrived we fixed some eggplant parmesan sided with some lasagna we’d taken with us to reheat, salad, and garlic bread, with all cooking done on my 30+ year old Coleman Stove – it still worked fine

As you know, breakfast is my favorite meal and breakfast cooked outside in the cool morning is the epitome. Saturday morning, Pat fixed bacon and scrambled eggs (again on the Coleman stove) - it was delicious and we were well nourished.  Now let’s get back to riding a bike – it was the only transportation we had with us, other than a hooked up RV.  Pat and Steve are experienced riders and regularly go on 50 mile rides and I have a bike a friend gave me that I was riding a couple of years ago.  Beverly had an old Columbia that was her mom’s and only had five speeds none of which were really low and it had suspect tires on it.

That’s what we had and we decided to see the somewhat hilly park via bike and when Bev started out her track was like a snake and I could envision her as a little pile along the trail – the park has lot’s of bike trails.  But as time went on, she improved and we rode down to the falls then around the lake to the Inn for lunch.  I assume due to our low rainfall for several months, the lake was down about 3" and there was just a little water coming over the falls but at 256' high, it was still very inpressive.  Click on the shot and note the person on the rock at the bottom of the falls (bottom of the shot).

I have bad knees and they were hurting  at lunch, but when Pat and Steve offered to bike back to the campground, get their RV and come get me, I had to decline  - no way was I going to wuss out.  It was mainly flat and I walked up most of the half mile hill but made it back with no issues for a total trip of 7 miles.

As we sat around talking, Bev said she didn’t think she’d been on a bike since high school (she’d be angry if I told you how many years that is, but I’m 65 in 2 weeks and she’s just a little younger than me), yet she rode the 7 miles thru campgrounds, along roads, and trails thru the woods, and I’m now absolutely convinced that once you learn to ride a bike you never forget how – I’ll have to try some of those other things I thought I’d forgotten how to do.

Please tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  Nothing


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Open Faced BLT & Egg For An Old Dog

Trust me when I say that during my lifetime I’ve eaten lots of egg sandwiches, either on bread or biscuit, and with toppings ranging from just mayo to a souped-up BLT.  And for all of those years, the egg was either beaten and fried or the yolk was merely broken and fried hard.

We used to eat breakfast regularly with friends Kathy and Ashley and Ashley would usually order a bacon and egg biscuit with the egg cooked over easy, then she would eat it with a fork rather than in her hand like a sandwich.  This went against 50+ years of how an egg sandwich was “supposed to be cooked and eaten” so I never tried it.

Then a few days ago Big Daddy Dave posted a BLT with an egg and the egg yolk was still runny and he’d previously posted about an Irish Breakfast Sandwich, again with a runny yolk.

So I says to myself, you may be an old dog, but you may be missing out on something here, especially as the lover of runny yolked eggs and maybe it’s time to learn a new trick.

It was BBQ day, I was up at 4:30am, and hungry by 6:30 so I decided to give it a try, but I went open faced.  I laid down half a hamburger bun (because I had an extra), spread on some mayo and added Benton’s fried bacon and Cabot sharp cheddar and nuked to melt the cheese.

I fried a sunny side up egg, in a ring and got the lettuce and tomato (Red Brandywine) ready.  When the egg was done I built the final sandwich.

It was delicious, but I had to hold it with one hand while I cut out a bite to keep it from going everywhere and I’ll cook them this way from now on.  This would have been perfect had I added a little diced onion atop the cheese prior to nuking.

Two years ago today I made my first blog posts - I did several as I was practicing.  I can't believe I'm still at it but I'm sure the new blogger buddies I've met and the great things I learn from you has a lot to do with it.  Thanks for stopping by to read my ramblings.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  My One Year Blogiversary


Friday, August 26, 2011

Bacon Cheese Wiener Burger

So the kids could play in the lake, we invited Dave and Laurie and their son and family over to the dock for a cookout of burgers and dogs and I ate a hamburger but topped it with chili, mustard, and onion rather than the usual condiments - check out Big Daddy Dave's blog after 8am for the details. The next night we decided on a rerun except this time I substituted two wieners for the burger.  I first split the wieners lengthwise to get more grill area and after flipping, topped them with smoked gouda cheese and a couple of bacon strips.

Then I added spicy mustard, homemade hotdog sauce (chili), and onions.
I sided it with our, hard as it was to believe, first potato salad of the year – what were we thinking.
It was very good, but I couldn’t tell that it was any better than a normal dog with the same toppings and it was definitely so big the dogs got about a fourth of it.  However, it was a good way to use a leftover burger bun.

As you might guess, I had to give the leftovers a try for breakfast, so I nuked a cheeseburger topped with an onion slice for 1 ½ minutes.  Then I topped it with a sunny side-up egg cooked in a ring to make it pretty.
This combo did not work well and I would not recommend an egg topped burger.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gardening Thursday – Putting Your Garden To Bed

In my June 23 post titled “Gardening Thursday - Fall and Winter Activities,” I covered preparing the soil, which step 4 of my 14 step program.  It is pretty much the final gardening step of the year but a few things need to happen prior to it.

The first thing I do is remove any plant material that I don’t plan to till into the soil with the good stuff going into the compost pile and any bug infested or diseased material, such as blighted tomato plants, either destroyed, bagged for the dump or, in my case, taken deep into the woods and dumped.

The next thing is to take up and store the drip tape watering system and dismantle the various trellises and pull up the stakes – this is the hardest of my fall jobs, especially the 8’ steel fence posts.   

Once the garden is cleared, I proceed with step 4 and when I’m done, it looks like this – except this shot was taken a few weeks later and some moss had grown.

It's also a good idea to properly store your tools at this time by cleaning, sharpening (shovels, maddocks, etc), and oiling the metal parts and appying linseed oil to unfinished wooden handles.

I've run out of topics so this will be the last of my every Thursday garden post for this season, but I will keep doing them if I come up with a topic or in response to one that your request.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Some Things I’ve Given-Up On

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve either posted or commented on a couple of things I’ve given up on and it got me to thinking while I was mowing the lawn the other day.  I’ve always been a pretty positive person and don’t yet consider myself a cynic, but there are a few things I’ve just given up on and I’m sure there are more than these.

One I’ve already mentioned is the ability to make dill pickles that are better than the Clausen ones I can buy in the store, but please let me know if you have THE recipe.

I’ve given up on ever having a great 30 year old body, but am hopeful I can someday soon, get to a decent 65 year old one.

I’ve given up on all professional sports as it’s all about the money and they’ve forgotten it’s just a game, as have the fans.

I’d mentioned previously that I’d given up on a Southern Living Magazine quality lawn – it’s just not important in the grand scheme of things and I have better things to do with my time and money.

I’ve given up on the Federal Government and have gone from hoping they can help solve our problems to just hoping they don’t lead us to destruction.
I’ve long sense given up on trying to change others and realize I need to just work on being the best I can be.
I’ve given up on the news as a place I can go to just get the unbiased facts so I can draw my own conclusions.
I’ve given up on keeping up with technology and wish the manufacturers would make an old farts model of everything that simply does the little things I need – I’m pretty sure my cell phone is a camera, video recorder, text messenger, and maybe can solve world hunger, but it just makes it more complicated for me to just send and receive calls.
I’ve given up on making a fortune in the stock market and now just try to make sure I don’t lose any more of what I have.
I’ve given up on owing my own restaurant and just enjoy my little BBQ business as a maybe break-even substitute – Bev’s sure I lose money.
I’ve giving up on the Olympic Games as being anything more than a financial and political event.
I’ve given up on the idea of everyday sex but am totally committed to improving beyond on our current annual event J.
And worst of all, I’ve given up on the fundamental goodness of Americans and believe my parents were indeed part of the greatest generation, that we baby boomers are a pretty decent bunch, and for those following, the ends do seem to justify the means and it’s all about me and I think that this now influences all of the above except the personal ones.
I worry about the society I’ll be leaving in a few years but realize there’s not much I can do about it at this point, so I think I’ll just enjoy my golden years and make as many memories as I can with my honey, as I finally know that’s what I’ll be thinking about in the last hours of my life and not all of that other stuff.
Sometimes I just have to get philosophical.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eric & Matthew Visit And Tomatoes

I’d posted a while back that son, Eric, and our nearest grandkids had moved to the Baltimore area so he and Matthew made a quick trip in this past weekend to pick up his canoe.  They were only here about 12 hours as they wanted to spend Saturday night camping on their way home. 

Bev and I discussed several breakfast options and since he reads my blog, I wanted to give him one of my breakfast from leftovers, so he got a reheated salmon cake and corn fritter that was left from supper the previous night and or course the requisite fried egg.  Since he slept in Matthew and I ate first. 

Matthew had his usual Meme breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and, most importantly, chocolate milk.

You healthy eaters may want to skip the next shot.  As is our norm, when cooking bacon, we cook the entire package then reheat it as needed, to minimize the number of bacon clean-ups.  Since the cook top was already dirty from last night I just cooked it there rather than outside, which generated a skillet of bacon grease.  Ever hear of basted eggs, they were the norm when I was a kid and are a sunny side up egg that has the top cooked by flipping the hot bacon grease on it with the spatula.  I only do this every 5 years or so as meat fat is the one thing I’m a little careful with, but I had to have two eggs, one of which went atop a corn fritter.

Then when Eric got up, I fixed his and he also had a basted egg.
I was pretty sure this would get us through until lunch.

I know I’ve posted our canned goods many times, but wanted you to know that the stack of maters in the header shot made exactly 21 quarts of canned product – never had it come out just right before.
If you count the jars, you’ll only find 20 as we had another first - when I was removing the jars from the canner, the bottom of one of them broke off.  I suppose we’ve probably canned 1000 jars over the years and this has never happened before – oh well.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.
One year ago:  Stuffed Bison Burger

Monday, August 22, 2011

Salmon Leftovers

If you’re going to have leftovers to have to deal with, grilled, wild caught, sockeye salmon is a pretty good one.  When we grilled salmon for supper the other night, I intentionally cooked extra with the intent of making some salmon spread – I was ready for a fix, but Bev has become a big fan of salmon cakes.  Like me she grew up on them but they were made with canned salmon, some type of filler, beaten egg and not much else, so when we first tried Mary’s recipe over at one perfect bite we knew it was a keeper and this is our 4th time to have them.  If you use this recipe be careful not to add any salt until you’re sure you need it, especially if you use salted butter and Zatarain’s Pro Boil.

We also had some fresh corn and okra in the fridge that needed to be used.  We knew what to do with the okra (I really only like it one way), but hadn’t decided on the corn, then along came Mary’s recipe for Corn Fritters over at Deep South Dish – check her site for the recipe and pictures.

Bev followed the recipe but added some onion and green pepper and rather than clean up after deep frying, we just fried them in a skillet like pan cakes.

Here’s my plate.

The salmon cakes and okra were delicious as always and we all agreed the corn fritters were a definite keeper and will be deep fried the next time - Bev was still talking about how much she liked them two days later.  Nothing like a fried everything meal to help the ole waistline - at least we didn't use bacon fat.

And the previous day, you know I had to try some of the salmon for breakfast.

Ann Burrell may have become my new favorite on the Food network when I heard her say the other day - plunk an egg on just about anything and I'm a happy girl.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  Giving The Cat A Bath (Worth re-reading) 


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Grilled Salmon And A Boat Ride

Yesterday was tomato day and I decided to use them for a new header shot - it gave me a whole new appreciation for the folks who do this in the market as they kept rolling off.

A while back, friends Joe and Carol were over for rib roast dinner at the dock and we started with a salmon cake appetizer which they both loved but didn’t know how to cook the salmon.  So we set up another dinner with a grilling lesson as the key event for the day using the wild caught Sockeye Salmon we’d recently purchased for Kroger’s.

For the salmon, I used our normal and very simple process of:

1.    Oil both sides of the fish
2.    Sprinkle flesh side with Emeril’s Essence
3.    Grill skin side down over high heat until skin releases
4.    Flip, reduce heat to medium, brush top side with melted butter, and sprinkled with Essence
5.    Cook a couple of minutes, flip, and brush top side with butter
6.    Cook a couple of minutes, flip, and brush with butter.
7.    Keep doing this until the desired internal temp is reached (135* for me)

We had a couple of guests who aren’t salmon eaters and I had a whole beef filet, that Bev had recently bought on sale, wet aging in the fridge, so I opened it and cut off the small tail end.  I trimmed it up, added Montreal Steak Seasoning and grilled it to medium – per their request.

Here’s my surf and turf plate which included grilled pineapple, slightly over-creamed fresh spinach, and Garlic Cheese Drop Biscuits (Red Lobster recipe), which I’d already eaten.

Joe and Carol had to leave early to pack for an out of town trip so me and my girls (friend Kathy, Bev’s sis pat, and Bev with Coco and Sweetie) went for a boat ride (it’s a tough job, but someone has got to drive the lovely ladies around) and of course the dogs wouldn’t miss it.

Our dock is in a cove that is protected from the wind and waves and it was nearly dead calm back there, but when we got to the main channel there were small white caps.  Not to be deterred, we headed for the four mile long cove across the lake that allowed us to avoid the wind and stay in the shade, which made for a really nice ride.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  Tuscan Steak And Beans


Friday, August 19, 2011

A Couple Of Breakfast From Leftovers

The other day we grilled up a couple of big steaks at the dock and had some leftover meat, mushroom sauce, and rolls, so the next day for breakfast it was basic scrambled eggs and reheated steak both topped with the sauce and a toasted roll.

The following day, I diced and sautéed the meat with some onion and chili pepper then scrambled in some eggs and sided with the reheated roll topped with the sauce.

I thought both of these meals were easily as good as the dinner, but hey I’m a breakfast guy.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gardening Thursday – Growing peppers

After posting all of the pepper pictures and receiving several questions, it seemed a post devoted to peppers was in order.  Per Wikipedia “Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years by the people of the tropical Americas, and are now cultivated worldwide.” 

Peppers (so named by Columbus because the flavor reminded him of black pepper) are generally broken down into sweet or hot with the heat level being zero for sweet peppers and measured on the Scoville Scale for the hot or Chile peppers.  The heat in peppers is a function of the amount of capsaicin in the ribs of the plant and ranges from 1,000 for anaheim, 4,000 for jalapeno, 50,000  for cayenne, 300,000 for habanero, and now the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper with a Scoville rating of 1,463,700 (per Guiness World Records).

As nightshades, peppers are similar in growing conditions to tomatoes and are susceptible to the same bugs and diseases, although I rarely have problems from either - I do occasionally get blossom end rot if I let them get too dry.

Peppers like well drained garden soil with a pH around 6.5 and not too much nitrogen fertilizer.  I pretty well treat my peppers and tomatoes the same, except I don’t plant the peppers deeply like the tomatoes – click here for my tomato planting post.  They are tender and must be protected from frost and freeze, so I usually transplant mine about a week after the average last frost date.  Like most plants, it’s important for them to develop a good root system early on and any blooms (or fruit) should be removed for the first week or so. Sweet peppers and chiles like slightly different growing temps.

Chile fruits do not set when mean temperatures are below 60*F or above 90*F. However, flowers drop when night temperatures are above 75*F.  Fruit set may be stalled if temperatures rise above 90*F after several flowers have set and fruits are developing. 

Sweet peppers grow best in air temperatures 65° to 80°F and are most easily grown from transplants, planted  after the last frost in spring after the soil temperature has risen to at least 65°F. In temperatures greater than 85°F, peppers may drop their blossoms although set fruit will ripen. The ideal temperature for sweet peppers is a daytime temperature around 75°F and a nighttime temperature around 62°F.  They both like afternoon shade to give them some relief in the hottest part of the day and mine get this from the large maple trees across the road to the west of my garden.

Since it’s been getting hotter earlier in the year, I’ve started planting my peppers earlier as well.  I like plants that are as large as they can be without beginning to bloom yet (or I pinch them off) so they can hopefully beat the heat with a good fruit set.

Like most veggies, I give them 1 ½ inches of water per week applied every 3-4 days.

From a feeding standpoint, I again, do it just like tomatoes with a handful of compost and a little calcium into the planting hole, then a low nitrogen fertilizer when I get golf ball sized fruit and every 2 ½ months thereafter – remember too much N will grow plant material at the sacrifice of peppers.

Peppers are shallow-rooted, so cultivate around them with care. Mulch is good to keep soil temperature and moisture even. 

In the long growing season of the South, peppers can get pretty tall and since the branches are brittle and break easily, I support mine as shown in my plant support post.  Here’s 5’-1” Bev standing in my pepper patch and a couple are a foot taller – I think she’s been sneaking in some extra fertilizer.

Make sure you use both hands and small shears to harvest as you will get more than you want if you try to pull them with one hand – this is the voice of experience.

Chile heat levels are the results of two factors, the plant's genetics and the environment in which it grows.  This information comes from the National Gardening Bureau - “Peppers cultivated in a hot climate with days in the 95ºF range are spicier than those grown where days are in the 70ºs. Drought-stricken chiles are hotter than those grown with lots of water. If you yearn for spicy peppers and live in a cool climate, cover the soil with black plastic mulch or grow peppers in containers on a concrete or brick patio in full sun. To turn up the fire, keep the water and nitrogen fertilizer to a minimum. Alternatively, if you prefer milder peppers, keep the plants well watered—but not soggy—and provide afternoon shade in hot climates. A general rule of thumb is the riper the chile, the hotter it is.”

Here is an article regarding pepper growing from the New Mexico Extension Service.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Baked Haddock Ala Claudia

We brought back quite a bit of Haddock from our seafood shopping trip in Portland, Me. so I’m always on the lookout for recipes for it.  When Claudia over at What’s Cooking Italian Style Cuisine posted a recipe for Baked Haddock, Buttery Lobster and Wine sauce, I immediately put it on my try-soon list.  We had some King Crab legs in the freezer that needed to be used, so I decided to use them instead of lobster, otherwise I followed her recipe – please check out her blog for the recipe and some very nice photos.

Ready for the butter and parmesan.

Ready for the oven.

Out of the oven, let’s eat.

I cooked it in the toaster oven and after 35 minutes it still wasn’t done and the bread crumbs never got crispy and I believe both can be attributed to using too small of a pan.  It was so tight the lemon juice and wine came almost to the top of the fish – note to self, bigger pan next time.  The verdict was too fishy for Bev (not surprising since it tasted like a fish dish) and I thought it was outstanding and would definitely make it again - excellent recipe, not so excellent execution on my part.  The cayenne gave it a nice kick and the crab worked very well on it.  Thanks for a delicious meal Claudia.

Hey ladies out there who grill or want to learn how, let me introduce you to Robyn Lindars, the Grill Grrrl.  She was here for our blogger party in June and is on a mission to let women know they can be grill meisters if they choose to be.  Please check out her blog for a video on delicious looking kebabs - the marinade alone is worth the visit. 

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago: Pasta Puttanesca