Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Florida Trip - Finally RVing Again

After six months of sitting in the driveway, our coach said if we didn’t make a trip, it was going to go without us, which was too hard to turn down.  And since we now have a person who can house and Madison sit, we had nothing holding us back.  Here is a classic senior moment – plan a trip that includes spending the weekend after Christmas on I-75 and totally forgetting about the traffic.  Talk about dumb.

The first day trip was really nice while we were on US-411 between home and Cartersville, GA but once we got on the interstate, we were soon in a 25 mph slowdown for a few miles north of Atlanta.  This was nothing beside the 12 miles of stop and go south of Atlanta – 70 minutes for this leg.  So the trip to our first stop at Twin Oaks RV Park just south of Perry, GA took us about an extra hour, but we arrived safe and sound so all was well.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas at Almost Heaven South

Since we were leaving two days after Christmas and we were in a bah humbug frame of mind, we did zero decorating for Christmas except for the pine center piece and Poincettia that we received as gifts.  But Bev did want to make pully-ham and invite a few friends to drop by for drinks, ham sandwiches, and a visit.

The recipe came from a co-worker about 40 years ago and is pretty complicated, so I’ll go slow.

1 ea    Ham, cured and cooked
24 oz  Good beer (I used Yuengling)

Put ham and beer in a covered roaster and cook at 250F 10-12 hours.  Baste once/hr last four hours.

As you can see, it’s called pully-ham because it is too tender to slice and chunks are just pulled off of it.  This is after a person or two had attacked it.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Homemade Pasta

Our good friend Ashley was in at Thanksgiving from school and asked if she could come down and make pasta when she came back for Christmas and we replied you bet.  So she came down along with her mother and grandmother and the ladies had a not so traditional (at least for us) Christmas Eve pasta making party.  The recipe we used was a combo of several basic recipes which makes six good servings.

Pasta Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/3 tablespoon lukewarm water

Insert the metal blade of the food processor.  Place all of the ingredients in the bowl.  Pulse until the mixture begins to come together and form a ball, adding more water if needed.  Remove the dough and knead lightly until is smooth and elastic.  Divide the dough into 4 balls, cover, and let rest 30 minutes.

From this point, we used the pasta machine and followed the process from this link.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

We normally only include our annual newsletter with our Christmas Cards, but this year it's pretty short so I decided to post it here as well.

Holiday greetings to our family and friends, we hope you’ve had a great year and here’s a little info about ours.  Things continue to plug along here at the ranch and we’ve had no especially big events since our last newsletter, which we believe is a good thing.

We used the motorhome to spend our first ever wintertime away from home as we stayed in Florida for six weeks in early 2014.  We were originally planning to stay for only a month, but every time we got ready to come home, it snowed here.  We enjoyed this experience as well as the three weeks we spent in Charleston, SC in May, where we also hosted a week long RV rally for our club.  On the way home we experienced an engine failure that, after a tow to Knoxville behind one of those giant wreckers and six weeks in the shop, resulted in a nearly new engine being installed to the tune of $21,000, all covered by warranty, thank goodness.

The coach spent the rest of the year parked for a couple of reasons – we had too much to do over the summer months and Madison decided to go back to regular school (from on-line) which tied us to the school breaks beginning in mid-August.  We now have a Madison/house sitter that will give us more flexibility so we’re planning another winter trip.  An additional reason for not traveling might be Larry's fear of heading out on the road and experiencing another calamity, as we’ve had more than our fair share.

There have been a couple of changes with our kids beginning with Rhett retiring from the army after 23 years and taking a job with a bearing manufacturer in Sumter, SC.  The other change is the move of Eric and Ann to Napierville, IL where Eric is the new chaplain at North Central College and Ann can continue at her same job but work from home.  All of the grandkids are growing like weeds and doing well in school and other activities.  Madison’s move back to regular school is so-far-so-good as she is making new friends and doing well academically.

After another year of trying to survive living with a teenaged girl, I will repeat this from last year - now I remember why young folks raise kids.

We continue to be blessed with decent health and the ability to do many of the things we enjoy, although Larry’s knees continue to give him problems and he keeps putting off doing something about them – replacement required, pain involved, procrastination likely.

That’s all to report from Almost Heaven South and our wish for you is a Very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. 

Beverly & Larry Doolittle

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Country Steak – ALA Beverly

When I was a kid, my mom called this dish Swiss steak, which I later learned was actually made with a tomato gravy.  I’ve heard the dish called Country Style Steak, Country Fried Steak and Gravy, Baked Steak and Gravy – What is your name for it?  It should not be confused with chicken fried steak which is fried and usually topped with gravy but not baked in the oven.

At any rate Bev wanted to make it using her normal recipe, for which there is no actual recipe and it is a semi homemade version.

Her ingredients were:

Six pieces of cubed steak
Flour for dredging
Lawry’s seasoning salt
Some mushrooms she had in the fridge
Half an onion, chopped
One can cream of mushroom soup
Two packages of Pioneer Brown Gravy Mix, made per package directions.

1. Preheat oven to 325*
2. We added S&P to one side of the steak and Lawry’s to the other, dredged them in flour, and fried in oil until browned.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Veal Marsala Ala Karen

We never buy veal for our table as Bev doesn’t think it is beefy enough and it’s usually pretty pricy, but when it becomes available for free and it can be used in a flavorful dish, now that’s a whole nother story.  I’ve mentioned on here many times that our neighbor across the street raises cattle and when he had a calf that was seriously injured and had to be put down, he had it butchered and put it in his freezer.  The neighbors are also not big fans of veal and I think it’s the same beefy issue that Bev has, so when I saw Karen’s recipe for Veal Marsala on her Back Road Journal blog, I thought this might be the perfect way to use some. 

While we have a Marsala recipe that we have used for both chicken and pork, we decided it would be nice to try a different one – check out Karen’s blog for the original recipe and a tempting photo.  I amended the recipe for five servings and the meat we had and that is the recipe I’ve shown below.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mediterranean Chicken and Potatoes

We had five large chicken thighs left from a package of ten and I wanted to try one of the recipes I’d been saving from Pam’s, For The Love Of Cooking blog – her Mediterranean Chicken.  Since the oven was being used, I also wanted to try the Pizza Potato recipe from Cathy at Noble Pig but since I wanted everything to be Greek, I didn’t use the pizza seasoning.  I also wanted to keep both dishes simpler by using Cavender’s rather than the herbs and spices in the recipes.  Please stop by their sites for the original recipes and good photos.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Steelhead Trout with Pasta Alfredo

We had a couple of pieces of Steelhead Trout in the freezer and a half jar of Alfredo sauce in the fridge and decided to combine the two into a meal – Steelhead are related to Rainbows and similar to Salmon in taste.  Bev also found a bag of shrimp and some mixed vegetables in the freezer to add to the dish.

The trout and shrimp (on skewers) were given dusting of Old Bay and grilled over high heat and basted with melted butter after flipping.   The pasta and vegetables were cooked together in water, drained, returned to the hot pan, and the Alfredo sauce was stirred in.  We plated the pasta mixture and topped with the trout and a few shrimp then added some fresh grated Parmesan.

This made for a very tasty and easy semi-homemade dish – perfect for those of you who need a quick weeknight meal.  Of course, it could be gussied up by using fresh vegetables and homemade Alfredo sauce.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


12/4/14 event date

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Humor - Why Beer Is Good For You

I'd never heard this explained so well prior to Cliff Claven's version.

"Well you see, Norm, it’s like this . . . A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers."

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


Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey

Since we have only one oven (a source of irritation for Bev), Thanksgiving meals generally challenge us in oven usage as we always have homemade rolls that require it just prior to mealtime.  To solve this, I have adopted Chris’ (Nibble Me This) spatchcock cooking method and last year I cooked the bird in the smoker over low temps and I did the same this year but used the grill at a higher temp to get a crispy skin.  Bev bought a 14¾ pound Food Club fresh turkey from Food City which contained no artificial ingredients which means it was not injected with a flavoring solution.

I used a combo of recipes and practices from Chris beginning with his brine which I made per his recipe but with regular oranges and less the bourbon.  I spatchcocked (butterflied) the turkey using Chris' method (link below) but prior to brining to make it easier to find a brining container, it fit more easily in the fridge, and it provided the brine more access to the breast meat