Finally Friday!

Easy can be good in my book!  As the hot weather continues and our appetites wane I’m hot on the trail of delicious dinners that are quick to prepare and delicious!  It’s sometimes a challenge.  Those of you who have followed this blog over the past couple of years know that a “make it from scratch” person and rarely buy anything other than tomato products in a can.  There is an exception to every rule, however, especially when it’s too hot to cook!  I stumbled over a box H.T. Trader’s brand Pad Thai at Harris Teeter the other day.  What resulted was so yummy and easy, dinner was on the table within minutes.  Looking over the product information on the box affirmed that as far as “fast food” is concerned, this fares pretty well.  Of course, I added to it with my own fresh vegetables, crushed peanuts and fresh cilantro….it was a hit!

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Chicken Pad Thai

1 box H.T. Trader’s Pad Thai noodles

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast roasted and shredded (I did this early in the day so as not to heat up the kitchen later)

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 egg

1/2 baby carrots, cut in thin strips on the diagonal

3-4 scallions, cleaned and cut on the diagonal green ends included

1/2 cup fresh snow peas, cleaned and cut on the diagonal

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, crushed

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook the noodles according to the instructions and set the sauce packet to the side.  Shred the chicken breast and set aside.  Heat the coconut oil in a wok and scramble the egg, set aside.  Toss the raw veggies in the hot oil for about five minutes, you want them to be crunchy.  Add the chicken and cooked noodles back to the wok then add the sauce packet, soy sauce and sesame oil.  Toss well.  Place a serving of the Pad Thai on four plates and garnish with crushed peanuts and chopped cilantro.

This is great served with an ice cold Asian beer like Tsing Tao.  Hope you enjoy!  There are many different combinations you can experiment with.  I’m trying fresh Georgia shrimp and adding cold cucumber to the mix as well…I think it will be delicious!

An August Garden

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It’s way to hot to work in your garden this time of year.  They don’t call these the “Dog Days of Summer” for nothing!  But a walk through your garden, early in the day can lead to more blooms and food for coming months when Autumn plants will begin to show their color.

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If you have flowering plants you’ll want to dead head them now to bring more blooms.  Love Zinnias?  NOW is the perfect time to plant more seeds and water, water, water to get beautiful, colorful blooms for both inside and out.  When I plant flowers I always want some that can make casual arrangements for indoors.

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Feeding your plants can be both a benefit and a detriment at this time of year.  You want to feed your vegetable garden and any Autumn plants that may be flowering soon.  Chrysanthemums, dahlias and canna lillies love to be fed this time of year as well.  You do not want to fertilize azaleas, camelias or any flowering shrubs as this will interfere with bud formation.

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This is a great time to order some gardening catalogs and select bulbs you’ll want to plant over the next couple of months.  Daffodil, hyacinth and any kind of lily always make a beautiful spring showing.

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I’m dreaming of cooler weather and the day Mr. T and I will walk around the circle of our neighborhood with autumn leaves under foot!  It won’t be long and now that I’m semi-recovered from knee replacement surgery, I’ll be out weeding my overgrown garden that has been fairly neglected this year and plant all sorts of new things for next spring!

Simply Delicious!

It’s no wonder that I love to experiment in the kitchen whenever I get the chance.  My Aunt Ruth happened to be a “Betty Crocker Test Kitchen Cook” back in the 50′s and 60′s.  Whenever we visited her home in New Mexico she always had something new and different to share with us.  I first had an “Italian PoBoy” sandwich thanks to her and many other delicious dishes.  Add to that the fact that my grandmother was one of the best Southern cooks ever…..well, I come by it naturally!  For years I have made Aunt Ruth’s cobbler recipe.  It’s simple and so delicious.  I decided to update the recipe the other day and make it gluten free.  The results were better than I expected.  There are so many gluten free products available for baking these days, it makes it much easier to experiment.  I hope you’ll try this with some fresh Georgia peaches and a few blueberries!  Let me know how it turns out!

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Peach/Blueberry Cobbler (gluten free)

5 large peaches, peeled and sliced

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar, preferably raw, organic

1 cup “Bisquick” gluten free mix

1 cup organic rolled oats, not steel cut

1 teaspoon real vanilla flavoring

3/4 cup of milk (I used Almond Milk and it worked!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a square baking dish, 9″ x 9″, melt the stick of butter.  Mix the sugar, “Bisquick”, oats, vanilla and milk in a large bowl.  When the butter is melted spoon the batter over the melted butter, but do not stir.  Spoon the fruit with any juices over the batter.  Bake for 1 hour, uncovered.  Serve with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream for the perfect summer dessert!

 

At Home With History

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A lovely home sits on the west side of Highway 17 as you drive into Brunswick.  A home filled with history.  It is known as the Dart House.

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Built in 1877 by Robert Dart, son of Urbanus Dart, a founding father of the City of Brunswick, the house is now for sale.  For years Dart House has been the home of the headquarters of our Chamber of Commerce.  This is a house with strong bones.  It survived two major hurricanes as well as being the birthplace of  generations of Darts, many of whom still reside in the area.  The home received a total renovation before becoming the Chamber’s headquarters.  Beautiful pine floors and other Victorian architecture grace this historic residence.

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Located directly across the street from the famous Lanier Oak tree where Sidney Lanier is said to have taken shade while composing such famous poems as  ”The Marshes of Glynn”.  Helen Keller visited the famous tree during a visit to Coastal Georgia.

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The Dart House is a symbol of history.  It speaks of another time when lumber remained a major industry in the area and places like the Oglethorpe Hotel were filled with visitors as downtown Brunswick bustled with energy.  Having moved from the location a couple of years ago to a downtown location, the Chamber has now put the Dart house on the market.  No one knows what the outcome will be, but I’m hoping that this lovely home is allowed to remain on its historic grounds, overlooking the marshes, holding its many secrets and sharing a bit of history for years to come.

For more information on saving the Dart House:  https://www.facebook.com/SavetheDartHouse/timeline

A New Day…

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I have a section on my site for “Odysseys”.  I used this term because it can mean so many different things.  A journey of discovery is what I have always seen it to be.  As this new week begins, I’m writing about something a bit different.  I have long been a believer in living in the NOW.  Right here…..right now is all that we every really have.  The news holds frightening tales of death and destruction all over our world each day.  I’m not an ostrich by any means, but I choose to stay away from the news as much as I can since I feel it has a detrimental effect on my efforts to remain positive in the light of adversity.

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The other word I want to write about today is “Forgiveness”.  Without forgiveness we are at a stand still.  Lord knows we have all had negative experiences in our past that add to who we are, what has happened to us and how we relate to each moment.   Some of these experiences have to do with finances, some with loss and some with feelings of betrayal.  We all have a story.  I think that being human has this aspect built in as a challenge for us all to rise above the mere state of being a human and find that quiet spirit that lies deep within us all.

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There are no exceptions to this……none.  I made a vow never to bring politics or religion into this blog when I began writing it a year and a half ago.  My life has been filled with all sorts of challenges during that time that readers never even know about.  I have chosen this blog as my way to express my love for where I live as well as the joy I find in simple things each day.

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I think I chose to write these words today because I want my readers to take a look at their lives and see what is holding them back from fully living each day.  If there is someone who hurt you that you’re continuing to hold bitterness for…..let it go.  You don’t have to verbally forgive them, just let the issue go….deep within your heart.  Holding on to the hurt is not hurting the other person…..it’s destroying you and your peace of mind.

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This is a world of cause and effect.  And I truly believe that you get back what you give out.   That said….I’m beginning this new week on a positive note.  I’m finally feeling better and I am so grateful for that in a way I have never been before.  I embrace growth…..change……life and love in ways I have not before.  Join me in erasing the past and beginning with a clean slate today!  I’m starting each day with prayer and going over a mental list of things I am so very grateful for.  I’m ending each day adding to that list with wonderful things that happened during the day….even if that thing is as simple as climbing the stairs normally again.  The longer I live the more I see the importance of health…..the temporary state of finances and the opportunity to forgive and move on with life.  It’s a wonderful world, only misshaped by misunderstanding and a stubborn resolve on the parts of so many never to forgive and forget.  It’s essential to our well being.  It’s our responsibility to teach the art of forgiveness to our children, and in so doing those lessons will reach out to the world in a healing way.  I know this to be true and I hope you will join me.

Simple Sundays

“Art of Noise” is one of my favorites musical groups.  Their recording of “Island” is so relaxing….and the video…absolutely beautiful!  I hope you’ll enjoy this offering for your Sunday morning listening.  It’s not a long piece, but viewed full screen I think you’ll love it!  Wishing you a wonderfully relaxing day…..wherever you may be!

On The Radio

I had the best time talking with Christina Patelidas Godwin on the radio this week.  We talked about life, her dancing, love, personal training and so much more!  Join us as you come to know this vibrant, wonderful young woman!  This is what I love about doing the radio show.  Inspiring and energizing!

Finally Friday!

When the dog days of summer hit the island my greatest goal, when it come to cooking, is to keep it simple and keep the kitchen cool.  I’ve never been a big pork eater, but found myself ordering a copy of Libbie Summers wonderful cookbook, “The Whole Hog”, mostly because I cannot resist her style and daring!  The book has not disappointed me.  It has also led me to reopen my recipes and pull a few out that I’ve always loved.  Carnitas are one of those favorites!  They are perfect for light summer eating, easy to make and I have never found a soul who did not love them.  With the fabulous “Frontera” line of Southwestern sauces and seasonings from Rick Bayless, my job is much easier.  If the weather were cooler, I’d welcome the time to make a slow simmering salsa verde, but in the heat we’re having now, I’m so happy to have found his garlicky green Carnitas sauce.  I think you’re going to love this!

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Carnitas with Salsa Verde

(Serves 3-6)

3-6 thin, bone-in pork chops, or 1 pound boneless pork shoulder meat, cubed (If you don’t eat pork you can substitute chicken)

Sea salt and ground black pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup water

1 package “Frontera” Carnitas sauce

Heat the oil in a large skillet until hot.  Add the pork and sear until crusty on all sides.  Add the water and simmer on low for one hour.  The water should have boiled off by now, add the Frontera sauce, cover and cook for 45 minutes.  The meat will be falling apart or shredding when finished which is what you want.

12 corn tortillas, heated

1 cup shredded red leaf lettuce

1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup minced, fresh cilantro

juice of one lime

1 tablespoon olive oil

crumbled goat cheese

Heat the tortillas for about 20 minutes, wrapped in foil.  Place the shredded lettuce, tomato, onion and cilantro in a shallow bowl.  Sprinkle with the lime juice and olive oil and toss.  Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve:  Place a large spoonful of the carnitas in a tortilla, top with the lettuce mixture and crumbled goat cheese.  Roll up and enjoy!  Delicious!

Pair this with a cold Tecate or Corona beer…..icy cold beer and carnitas….yum!

 

Savories and Sweets

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While visiting Decatur this week I finally found the time to visit “Greene’s”.  Known for their delicious Georgia Pecans, Greene’s offers a full assortment of nuts, candies and all sorts of gourmet items.

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If you’re looking for specialty items to make a wonderful dinner you’ll find them here!

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Bath and body items to soothe and delight the body, mind and spirit.

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Homemade fudge….incredibly decadent!  I indulged Mr. T. in a half pound of milk chocolate/caramel/peanut fudge.

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Toys for kids and plenty of candies they’ll love picking out themselves.

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And my most favorite…..candy and nuts by the pound!  The most delicious dark chocolate covered almonds ever.

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It’s a good thing I live almost five hours away from Greene’s!  And then….I found out they mail order.  Look them up on their site at:  www.greenesfinefoods.com.

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I saw a selection of ice creams, but I didn’t go there….saving that for another time!

Could This Be Heaven?

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It just may be heaven…..that is, if you’re a foodie like me!  A trip to Atlanta means an excursion to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market.  This is not just any farmer’s market.  It’s a “world” market that offers delicious foods from every nationality known.  Shoppers bear witness to this fact as they push their carts through the wide isles wearing sari’s, elaborate head wraps, and all sorts of ethnic apparel making one feel as though they have entered another country entirely.  I always think of the first Indiana Jones movie, “Raider’s of the Lost Ark” when I enter and look down the endless aisles, stocked to the ceiling with goodies!

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I could spend hours going up and down the aisles of this market, the size of two football fields combined.  All sorts of condiments and ingredients for Asian cooking are available along with a huge selection of dried tea leaves, nuts, seeds and spices.

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Huge bins are filled with local, seasonal produce at amazingly reasonable prices.

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Fresh flowers, cut and ready for you to assemble your own bouquet ala green grocer’s markets in New York City.

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The cheese section always calls my name with at least four or five gourmet cheeses making their way into my basket.

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Fresh sausages, seafood and meats abound.

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Breads, homemade and filling the air with the aroma of yeast, herbs and oils.

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I always purchase olive oil at the market when I go!

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And wine!  The wine and beer department is unequaled in selection and price.  If I get separated from Mr. T on one of our visits I always know I’ll find him standing in the wine department, mesmerized by the sheer number and selection of fine wines at very low prices.

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It’s an experience not to be missed if you find yourself in Atlanta.  Take an ice chest, you’ll easily fill it with goodies!  Oh how wish we had something comparable to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market in Coastal Georgia.  For now, I’ll be content to make the drive, stay with our daughter and her family and make an outing of a visit to this fabulous place!