Saturday, December 29, 2018

Our Christmas Meals

As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post, I’m trying to steer us away from the traditional holiday meals (turkey and ham) to something I know we all like better.  Since Wende could only come down on the 23rd, we decided to have two Christmas meals with the same menu for each - grilled steak, baked potatoes, veggies, and rolls – our grill gets used year round thanks in part to a covered patio and living in the south but I have used it in the snow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Sausage & Grits Casserole

While organizing the pull out pantry recently, I discovered that we had several containers of quick grits in addition to the stone ground ones in the freezer and when I began thinking about another breakfast casserole, I wanted it to include grits.  I looked through my saved blogger recipes and sure enough found just what I was looking for in the form of Sausage & Ranch Grits Casserole from Steph’s Plain Chicken Blog but since I had no ranch dressing, I decided to make a southwestern version.  I did another search and found a recipe for Mexican grits so I used both recipes and things I wanted in it to get the following.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Bev and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years.  Below is our annual newsletter should you want a summary of our 2018.

"It seems like only yesterday that we wrote the 2017 newsletter but here we are again.  We hope all of you have had a good 2018 and here are a few comments about ours beginning with our family.  Wende continues to do well in her duel role as bread winner and new mom and seems to be very happy with both – Eliza turned one in early November.  Rhett and Beth continue to reside in SC where he works for SKF bearing maker.  Eric and Ann are still living near Chicago and the big change for them has been Eric’s acceptance into a doctoral program for ministers.  The biggest change for the kids was that Kathy’s long divorce process is finally over but some of her kids are having a difficult time with it.

And speaking of the grandkids, were now have three in college with Reece’s attendance to University of Tennessee while her sister Madison is a sophomore at South Carolina and cousin Katelyn is a sophomore at Texas A&M.  The others are spread between junior and high school and all are doing fine.

We continue to spend some time on the road in our RV and began this year by finishing up a trip to west and north Florida, ending up near Penasacola where we filled the freezer with fresh seafood to bring home.  After that, we attended two spring rallies with our travel club then made our big trip of the year to Michigan and Wisconsin from late July to early September.  We basically made a trip around Lake Michigan hitting the major tourist areas near Traverse City, MI and Door County, WI and while we enjoyed the trip, we don’t feel the need to return.  We did make a stop near Chicago on the way home to visit with the Doolittle’s and fill our freezer with sausage from our favorite maker in Aurora, IL.  It went very well with the old fashioned, real deal kraut from our local Amish Market.  Our final trip of the year was another club rally in at Sevierville, TN. And now, we are finalizing plans for a two months visit to the southwest beginning in January.

We continue to enjoy cooking and making new dishes and we even had a Tex-Mex Thanksgiving meal of burritos, enchiladas, and beans for a group of 11 diners and it was a big hit.

Kathy and her kids and a couple of the Walker girls came in for their annual summer visit where we all had a good time but after being kept awake much of the first night, we slept out in the RV for the remainder of their stay.

The major event here at the ranch was getting a new metal roof on the house.  We got 25 years from the initial shingle roof but decided painted steel was a better option for the new one.

Bev, Pat, Cindy and others will be off to Marco for their annual two week visit during mid December, while the dogs and I hold down the fort.  Speaking of Cindy, it continues to go very well having her live with us and she is now just another member of the family.

As always, if you want to check in on us occasionally, you can do so via Larry’s blog:

So that’s all from our piece of the world and we wish you a very Merry Christmas and your best New Year ever.

Beverly and Larry"

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Cheese Steak Omelet – Sorta

When I was 16, my dad was transferred to southern New Jersey and I was soon exposed to my first cheese steak sandwich from the Giant Sub Shop.  They used great bread from the local Italian bakery and meat similar to Steak-Um’s quick cooked on a flattop grill then topped with provolone cheese and caramelized onions, if requested.  It wasn’t until years later that I discovered on TV that these were not the normal Philly Cheese Steak sandwich (ala Geno's or Pat's) which is made with chopped, thin sliced rib-eye and usually topped with Cheese Whiz or white American cheese, and onions are an option.  Other than the better meat of the Philly version, I still prefer the South Jersey version - no Whiz.

So when Bev reminded me that we had some cheese steak meat in the freezer, I decided to use it while she was away and during my early morning drive to the dog groomer, I decided on a South Jersey Cheese Steak omelet for breakfast.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Italian Sausage Pasta Bake & A Short Rant

While Cindy was here for three days between her trips (now in FL with Bev), we had fish every night and I had it another night so I got my fix and then I ate the last of my casseroles so I was ready to move on to something else and pasta is always a favorite.  So after a night of chili, I went freezer and came up with a package of sweet Italian sausage from our favorite Wurst Kitchen and since I like the idea of casseroles to eat on for several meals I went in search of baked pasta dishes and found several that were pretty simple so I used them as a guide and made up my own.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Walleye and Baby Limas

Well, the two casseroles are gone after a week and it was time for something else to eat.  Since Bev is not a fan of lake fish, other than crappie, and I was eating alone and working on the freezer, I opted for a meal of deep fried Walleye, from Michigan, and baby lima beans – Bev doesn’t like them either.

For the fish, I just salted and peppered the skin-on fillets then dusted them in House Autry Seafood Seasoning, which made for a light breading on the fish – note how finely the breading is ground.

I cooked them in 350F oil a couple of minutes per side until golden brown – they were pretty thin so it didn’t take long and I hate overcooked fish.

For the beans, I used a recipe from the web for Cracker Barrel Baby Limas and sort-of followed the recipe.

1 cup water
1 chicken bouillon cube (Larry used chicken base)
2 slices bacon (Larry used a tsp of bacon grease)
1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly mashed (Larry used ½ tsp of garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sugar (Larry omitted)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen baby lima beans

1. Bring water, chicken base, and bacon grease to a boil in a medium pot.
2. Add remaining ingredients. Stir and cover. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
3. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every now and then and adding a little more water if needed. (There doesn't need to be much liquid, but you do need some.)
4. Season to taste with salt.

The fish was delicious and the beans were very good – I didn’t even need to add butter to them.

I only ate 1½ pieces of the fish and knew what I would be having for breakfast the next morning.  I nuked the fish for a minute then put it in the toaster oven with the English muffin to crisp up a bit and I added a couple of sunny-side up eggs for an outstanding breakfast.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


12/15 & 12/16/18 Meal Dates

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Couple Of Casseroles For A Bachelor

It’s that time of year when Bev, Pat and various friends of theirs head to the time-share condo for two weeks on Marco Island, FL while the three dogs and I hold down the fort at home.  During these times, I’m faced with the situation of cooking for a single and one of my strategies is to make casseroles – fortunately I like reheated leftovers and don’t mind eating the same things several times in a row such as this piece of breakfast casserole.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

New Roof At The Ranch

At 25 years on a 30 year roof, we had spots with very little gravel and we decided it was time for a new roof (it was more important than the new flooring we’d been considering for this year).  The two major decisions were using painted steel or shingles and which roofer to use.  After researching it and considering our wooded location, we decided on painted steel with a 40 year warranty so I went to the local company that makes the roofing and got the names of three installers they would recommend.  They each gave me a bid for both metal and 40 year shingles (about $1000 cheaper) and some homes we could look at to see their work and look at colors – we knew we did not want one of the bright ones and it’s better to see a whole roof rather than just a small sample.

Of the three bids, which were pretty close, we opted to stick with our metal decision and go with the middle bidder (Valley Vista Construction) as I felt the best about him personally.  If you are considering a metal roof, our cost to remove the old roof, clean up and haul off, replace any damaged wood, and install felt and roofing with a two year installation warranty was $272/square or $2.72.sq.ft.

So they showed up at 9am on the coldest day of the fall at 22F (8 degrees below normal) and began the removal process – note the frost.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Heuvos Rancheros Ala Larry

As I understand it this dish is basically a tortilla topped with beans, eggs, and sauce and while I’ve eaten them out many times, I can’t recall ever making them at home, but that changed today.  My construction of them was based upon using what we still had left from our Tex-Mex Thanksgiving meal and I made a single for Bev and a double for me.