Tuesday, October 31, 2017

HAPPY HALLOWEEN



I made a plain version below.  It is a card I made to thank you for making this blogging world such a pleasure to be a part of.  If any of you would like it, please feel free to copy and use elsewhere.  

And don't forget if you are driving, watch out for all those Trick-o-Treaters out there tonight, especially during those twilight hours.  

A Very Happy And Safe Halloween To You All.


(All my graphics were found at Pixabay here.)


Monday, October 30, 2017

MONDAY RECIPE POST - EASY BAKED ZITI CASSEROLE, WITH THREE CHEESES


We tried this for the first time yesterday - Sunday, October 29th, 2017 - and I found it at The Spruce.  I had made a tomato meat sauce for another meal and wanted to use what I had left over.  We haven't had a pasta dish in a long time, and were looking forward to this Ziti casserole.



Easy Baked Ziti Casserole with Three Cheeses

1 (16 ounce) box of Ziti (or you can use Rigatoni, Penne Pasta, or any pasta that you have in the pantry)
1 (16 ounce) container of Ricotta Cheese
2 teaspoons Seasoned Salt Blend, or to taste (or not if you are watching your salt intake)
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 cups of grated Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1 large Egg
3 cups of homemade Spaghetti Sauce (or you can use your favorite from the store)
1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese

Heat the oven to 350 F. (180 C/Gas 4).  

Get all your ingredients measured out and ready to go before you start your recipe.

Coat a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with cooking spray, or lightly grease with butter.  

Cook the Ziti or similar pasta in boiling salted water, following the package instructions.  When cooked drain well.

In a large bowl combine the Ricotta cheese, seasoned salt, garlic powder and half of the Mozzarella cheese.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Add the egg and blend well.

Stir the drained pasta into the cheese mixture and fold in until thoroughly combined.   Transfer to the prepared baking dish.  Pour the meat sauce over all.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.  

After the 45 minutes is up and using oven mitts, carefully take the dish out of the oven and place on a heat proof surface.  With a large spoon evenly sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the Ziti/meat sauce mixture. Put back in the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the Mozzarella cheese has melted.  If the cheese looks a little pale, pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown nicely.

Serve the Ziti Casserole with a fresh tossed salad and garlic bread.

Original note from the author.  "This is a great picnic or potluck dish.  It can be made in advance and freezes well".

Also:

"With Meat Sauce: in a skillet over medium heat, saute 1 pound of lean ground beef in a few teaspoons of olive oil, until beef is no longer pink.  Add the spaghetti sauce to the browned beef and pour over the Ziti before baking.  If desired, saute about 1/2 cup of chopped onion with the ground beef.

With onion and Peppers: in a large skillet over medium heat, saute 1 cup of chopped onion and 1/2 cup of chopped bell pepper until the onion is translucent and the bell pepper is tender.  Add the mixture to the Ziti with the cheeses."

I made my spaghetti sauce by cooking a chopped onion with the beef on medium-high, until the onions were soft and the beef no longer pink.  I added two large cans of whole plum tomatoes with their juice, breaking up the tomatoes, and also added about three tablespoons of tomato paste.  Next a sprinkling of dried herbs; oregano, parsley and basil.  I also added a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar to take the acidity out of the tomatoes.



What did we think of this meal?  Very tasty!  We had leftovers, so will freeze the rest for another non-fuss-in-the-kitchen day.  



I didn't have salad greens as such, but I made a vegetable plate of crudites, slicing a yellow sweet pepper into julienne-style, cherry tomatoes halves, sliced radishes and a few  already pitted Kalamata Olives.  They complimented the meal nicely.

Gregg suggested, and I thought it was a very good idea, adding a couple of ounces of Blue Cheese to the cheese mixture.  We will try that next time as we both enjoy Blue Cheese.






"All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried."

~Donald Miller~


On the home front it is a very damp, drizzly day.  Looking out the back window it seemed very wintry and the temperatures are dropping.  In the 40s (F) tonight (4 deg. C), and certainly a good day for comfort food.  It rained hard last night and there is a layer of leaves on our deck.

Our son is coming over tomorrow for a few hours.  That always puts a big smile on our faces.

Had a lovely chat with brother-in-law in Germany on Facetime.  I have also been texting with my niece over there, and will be on Facetime with her soon.  I miss them being so far away but am very thankful that we have this super technology.

Nothing more really.  We have been very quiet since our vacation in North Carolina.  Sniffles, cough and sore throat are over and I am no longer a contagion.  I am looking forward to getting out more these next few days.

While I was a bit housebound I watched an old British series on Acorn TV called Tommy and Tuppence.  The time frame is just after World War I.  It was made in the early 80s but is a classic and the fashions are wonderful.

That's about it.  Thank you for coming in and leaving your lovely comments, and I wish you all a very happy, healthy week.



Friday, October 27, 2017

RANDOM PHOTOS- LOST AND FOUND DEPARTMENT AT THE BEACH



We came across this fence on our road trip last Spring, near a beach.  I am assuming this collection is what the owners found on the beach and started their own lost and found department.  Or maybe it was just an artsy piece. Or more importantly cleaning up everyone’s mess and a reminder to us all to take home whatever we bring with us, that our oceans have enough rubbish in them, that we need to be more ecologically responsible.  Whatever the answer, I found it a very interesting display of beach clutter, and it left a lasting impression.




A POEM


"What does he plant who plants a tree.
He plants, in sap and leaf and wood,
In love of home and loyalty,
And far-cast thought of civic good
His blessing on the neighborhood."

~Charles Lathrop Pack~


Thursday, October 26, 2017

GREEN SPRING GARDENS



One day during the month of August, we decided to go for a ride.  We had errands to run, there are always errands of course.  However today, as the sun was shining and the temperature had cooled down somewhat, we felt like walking around a garden. 


I am not really sure why this particular garden popped into my head, it isn't exactly a new place. We were at Green Spring Gardens 10 years ago. We didn't remember it very well.  The only thing I remembered was this beautiful old house.   


It was built in 1784 by John Moss, who owned the 540 acres of farmland the house was built on.  He grew corn, wheat, oats and rye, and also had cattle and pigs until 1843, when Moss' grandson Alfred sold the farm.


The next owner was a man called Fountain Beattie, who raised 12 children and also kept dairy cattle, grew fruit and vegetables.  The farm's accessibility to the Little River Turnpike, one of the best rural roads in Virginia, gave him access to major area markets.



Fountain Beattie rode with his friend, Colonel Mosby during the Civil War.  I could not find much information about Fountain Beattie (I would have loved to learn how his parents chose his first name) but if you click on the second link, it will tell you all about John Mosby, who in his civilian life was a lawyer.  It is truly fascinating.  


Gregg, who is a history buff, and we have had this particular discussion before, when he told me that after the Civil War John Mosby could not find work.  He was a southernor, known as the Grey Ghost of Mosby's Rangers fame.  


Another interesting piece of history is that he became friends with the Patton family in Virginia (more facts from Gregg).  Mosby used to recount his Civil War exploits to their little boy, George.  George grew up to be General George Patton, well known in WWII.  Interesting what you learn.  The connections are endless throughout history.


In 1942 the house was bought by Michael and Belinda Straight, who not only purchased the house but the 33 acres surrounding it.  Although not farmers they raised cattle.  Michael Straight was actually an editor and publisher who often entertained interesting guests such as Aldous Huxley, the English author who wrote Brave New World.  Another guest was Hubert Humphrey from Minnesota, Senator and then the 38th Vice President, when Lyndon B. Johnson was President.


After 30 years of living on what had been an island of undeveloped land, the Straights deeded their house and 16 acres to the Fairfax County Park Authority.  The Park Authority also purchased 11 additional acres to create Green Spring Gardens Park.


And that's the story of how Green Spring Gardens came to be.  I obtained much of this information from the Green Spring Gardens link above, with help from a little research online and also hubby Gregg who is a wonderful source of information.  I have often told him he would make a great history teacher.


There are a lot more photos I want to share from Green Spring.  I will in another post eventually.  In the meantime here are a few flowers and plants taken that day. I had difficulty identifying flowers as there were no markers and I had no success on line.






















Tuesday, October 24, 2017

OLD FAMILY PHOTO - CONFIRMATION

I have already shared an old photo of the same family here.  There are more in the group that I will be posting.  In the meantime here is another in the series, two of the sisters at their Confirmation.  They are Gregg's first cousins, twice removed.  



Monday, October 23, 2017

MONDAY RECIPE POST - CRISPY BUTTERMILK CATFISH WITH ROASTED DELICATA SQUASH



Back to Blue Apron today.  We made this for the first time on 10-9-17.  At first we weren't sure if it would be our cup of tea.  We tried kale one more time, and both of us were surprised that with the additions we made (we added extra green onion and Thai Basil when we were cooking the kale), and using the sauce that came with the dish, it was more than we expected and we actually enjoyed it.  I'm sure you can play around with this to suit your own taste.  The last recipe that came with kale we avoided it, but as it is a very healthy vegetable, we wanted to give it one more try.  The original recipe can be found on the Blue Apron website here.  In the comment section below their recipe, I find it interesting and helpful to read other people's ideas who have made this dish.

Crispy Buttermilk Catfish with Roasted Delicata Squash

Servings: 1
Calories per serving: 650

To get the crispy crust, the fillets are coated three times in the Catfish spice blend (ingredients are mentioned in the list below).  The creamy sauce is drizzled over the catfish and the squash.

2 Catfish Fillets
2 Green Onions
1 bunch of Kale
2 tablespoons of Sweet Pickle Relish
1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup of Buttermilk
1/4 cup of Mayonnaise
2/3 cup of Catfish Spice (a mixture of all-purpose flour with the addition of sweet paprika, ground fennel seeds, ground coriander, cayenne pepper and ground sage.  Not sure on how much of the added spices you should use, you'll have to come up with a combination that fits your taste)
1 Delicata Squash


Prepare and roast the squash:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.



Wash and dry the squash; cut off and discard the ends.  Halve lengthwise; using a spoon, scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds.  Cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick pieces.  Place on a sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly coat.  Arrange in an even layer.  Roast 20 to 22 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.  It might be wise to flip the squash over after ten minutes if you don't want them too brown.  Remove from the oven.

Prepare the remaining ingredients and make the sauce.

While the squash roasts, wash and dry the remaining fresh produce.

Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice, separating the white bottoms and green tops.

Remove and discard the kale stems; roughly chop the leaves.

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, pickle relish and half the vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the kale:

While the squash continues to roast, in a medium pan (nonstick if you have one), heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot.  Add the white bottoms of the scallions; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly softened.  Add the kale; cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly wilted.  Add 1/4 cup of water and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes, or until the kale has wilted and the water has cooked off.  Turn off the heat; stir in the remaining vinegar.  Transfer to a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside in a  warm place.  Wipe out the pan.

Coat the catfish:

While the kale cooks, place the spice blend on a plate.  Place the buttermilk in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.  Pat the catfish fillets dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Working 1 piece at a time, thoroughly coat with seasoned fillets in the spice blend (tapping off any excess), then in the buttermilk (letting any excess drip off), then again in the spice blend (pressing to adhere).  Coating the catfish three times gives it a nice crispy coating.  Transfer to a separate plate.

Cook the catfish:

While the squash continues to roast, in the same pan, heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high until hot.  Once the oil is hot enough that a pinch of the spice blend sizzles immediately when added to the pan, add the coated catfish fillets.  Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through.  Transfer to a paper-lined plate; immediately season with salt and pepper.

Plate your dish:

Divide the cooked catfish fillets, cooked kale and roasted squash between 2 dishes.  Serve with the sauce on the side.  Garnish with the green tops of the scallions and enjoy.



An excellent meal.  We had a few cherry tomatoes left from our last shopping trip, so we added them also.  Not only were they a tasty addition, but they gave our meal a very pleasing color combo.  It was our first time eating a Delicata Squash and it was delicious.   We enjoyed every part of this dish and the sauce, along with the garnish of sliced green onions, was also yummy.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

ANEMONE

Anemone - Anemone hupehensis
(commonly known as the Chinese anemone or Japanese Anemone, thimbleweed or windflower).  They are a species of flowering herbaceous perennials in the Ranunculaceae family.


"I must have flowers, always and always."
~Claude Monet~


Friday, October 20, 2017

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD

I shared the picture below back in July, and I thought he deserved his own post today.


We found him on our last visit to Huntley Meadows Park mid May.  You can learn more about him here.  If you scroll down that page, just beneath where it shows you a silhouette of the bird (left-hand side of the page you will see 'key to identification'), you can click on a button to hear its call.



We always find them at the park, as we walk along the wooden boardwalk that goes over the marshy water.  We have seen them in other similar habitats over the years.  I love their colorful epaulettes on their shoulders.











Thursday, October 19, 2017

OLD FAMILY PHOTO - SIX SISTERS

Gregg recently acquired this wonderful old photograph of family members, six sisters taken a very long time ago.  These old photos are the real treasures.  



"Remember me in the family tree, my name, my days, my strife.  Then I will ride on the wings of time, and live an endless life."

~Linda Goetsch~

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

TWO PHOTOS FROM MY SISTER-IN-LAW

These are two more photos from Gregg's sister, who spent time recently with this little sweetie.  She was helping her with the latest puzzle.



"Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen."
~Orhan Pamuk~






Monday, October 16, 2017

MONDAY RECIPE POST - VIENNESE SAUSAGES WITH CHEESY MASHED SWEET POTATOES

Viennese Sausages with Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes 



We have been enjoying our Blue Apron meals for several months now.  They are excellent but we do have our favorites.  Those favorites end up on my blog.

We made a couple of changes.  Gregg does not like sweet potatoes, so we fixed two kinds of mash today (made this for the first time on 10-4-17), the sweet plus regular.  I am not sure what kind they were as we had them already in the vegetable bin, just a white potato.

Where the original ingredient list calls for a bunch of kale, neither of us like it so we substituted a quarter of a cabbage, and prepared it as directed.

You can find the original recipe here.


Viennese Beef Sausages with Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potato

Time from prep to finish: 30 to 40 minutes.
Serves: 2

2 Viennese Beef Sausages made with natural pork casings (if you can't find Viennese use your personal favorite)
4 ounces of Sweet Peppers
2 cloves of Garlic
1 bunch of kale (this is where we changed it to a 1/4 of a whole cabbage)
1 Sweet Potato and/or 1 white potato
1 bunch of Parsley
1 Shallot
1 tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar
2 ounces of Monterey Jack Cheese


Step-by-step instructions:


Prepare the ingredients:

Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high.  Wash and dry the fresh produce.

Peel and large dice the sweet/white potato.  

Medium dice the cheese.

Peel and thinly slice the shallot.

Remove and discard the kale stems; roughly chop the leaves (or do as we did and use a quarter of a whole cabbage, take the core out and roughly chop the leaves).

Peel and roughly chop the garlic.

Cut off and discard the pepper stems.  Quarter the peppers lengthwise, then remove and discard the ribs and seeds.

Roughly chop the parsley leaves and stems.

Cut the sausages on an angle into 2-inch pieces.

Cook and mash the sweet/white potato:

Add the sweet/white potato to the pot of boiling water. use two small pots for each if cooking both.  Cook 12 to 14 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Turn off the heat.  Drain thoroughly and return to the pot.  Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Using a fork, mash to your desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Brown the sausages:

While the potato cooks, in a medium pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot.  Add the sausages and cook, turning occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Leaving any brown bits (fond) in the pan, transfer to a plate.  Set aside in a warm place.


Start the vegetables:

While the potato continues to cook, add the
shallot to the pan of reserved fond; season with salt and pepper.  (If the pan seems dry, add a drizzle of olive oil.)  Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly browned and slightly softened.  Add the kale (or cabbage if using), garlic and peppers; season with salt and pepper.  Cook stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until the kale (or cabbage) has wilted.


Finish the vegetables and sausages:

Add the browned sausages and 1/2 cup of water to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until the water has cooked off.  Add the vinegar (be careful as the vinegar may splatter), and cook stirring constantly 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined.  Turn off the heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.


Plaste your dish:

Divide the mashed potato and finished vegetables and sausages between 2 dishes.  Garnish with the parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

Enjoy!



The only Viennese anything we have ever had are those little Viennese cocktail sausages you get in a can, back in the day.  These Viennese sausages were very good, a different consistency to what we have eaten before.  They are made by a company who sell specifically to Blue Apron, and I am not sure you can buy them elsewhere.  We will probably be using a different sausage at another time, that is if we can't get the Viennese Beef Sausage variety.

The dark green of the kale does add a pretty look to the final appearance of the dish.  Due to our own personal taste and even though the colors were more subdued, we felt the cabbage was an excellent substitute and one we preferred.

Use the addition of salt at your own discretion.  We don't add as much as is called for in the original recipe.


Friday, October 13, 2017

MORE FROM THE ELIZABETHAN GARDENS IN MANTEO, NORTH CAROLINA

 
I have a doozy of a cold so if your comment is late in appearing, it is because I have the pace of a snail 🐌 right now. Thank you all for visiting and thank you everyone who leaves a comment.  I probably won’t be posting again until Monday. 


The Elizabethan Gardens' website can be found here.



Right outside the gift shop/entrance there was a very large selection of garden ornaments.  I would have enjoyed taking a few of these home but managed to keep myself in check.  We are downsizing and trying not to add anything else right now.


They were fun to look at though.















So, I tore myself away from all the garden goodies and started to explore.




These beautiful gardens can be found within the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, on 10 acres next to the  Roanoke Sound.  There are hundreds of native plants, and many others from around the world.  We didn't see any wildlife apart from a few squirrels, but it is home to a variety of birds and animals.



The Elizabethan Gardens are only yards away from the original homes of the 1580's Lost Colonists.  In the photo below is the building that contains the gift shop where we bought our tickets.



The following photo showing the iron gates were once placed at the French Embassy in Washington DC, and they gave them to the garden as a gift. 



We came across a statue of Virginia Dare.  The original sculptor's vision carved her as an adult, with fishing nets draped around her waist.  He saw in his mind-eye, what he believed she would look like had she grown up on Roanoke Island.  



Virginia Dare was the first baby born to the colonists in the New World, and was only an infant when she and the other colonists disappeared.  (There is a very interesting history here.  And there is also an urban legend of Virginia Dare and the White Doe here.  As legends often are, it is a rather sad and fanciful tale.)


This statue itself has an interesting history as it was carved in 1859 in Rome and was eventually donated to the gardens.  First, however, it survived a Spanish shipwreck, was a controversial display in the Raleigh State Hall of History, and then had a long stay with the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, and original author of the Lost Colony play, Paul Green.  There is a popular belief that Virginia Dare survived and was assimilated into the local Native American culture, that maybe others were too.


The Garden itself was officially opened to the public on August 18th, 1960, on what would have been Virginia Dare's 373rd birthday.



There were a lot of nooks and crannies to find, and more flowers to share, but I will leave those until next time.



If you would like to see my other posts from the garden, you can click on the label below this post that reads, "The Elizabethan Garden_Manteo_NC.”


I have also included two maps of the area and where it can be located.