Just Another Outdoor December Sunday.

This morning was a wonderful morning; almost 60 degrees and sunny, so I fired up da pit and put a Boston Butt pork roast on the 'cool side' to smoke.
  With company coming in a couple days, it don't hurt to have some pulled pork around for snacking. 
I had to giggle to myself when I went into the shed and saw the four little black kittens snuggled together on top of their two heating pads for warmth and  the thought came to me how strange to have black cats and white dogs in the family. (The big old white 'cat war veteran', Sarge, who belongs to the neighborhood, makes infrequent visits of late.) 'Ebony and ivory' sets of pets.
Those of you who know me prolly figured out what I went to the shed for in the first place.  On a chilly morning I like to put a little extra kick in the coffee.
Peggy and Beaux (in his Saints shirt) sat on the porch swing enjoying the sunshine.
Beaux, fresh from a haircut seemed to enjoy the warmth of the shirt.  Since the roast would need to smoke awhile I threw some burgers, taters and a few cobs of our buddy, Sam's corn on the grill still in the shucks (oh, so good!) to keep the roast company.

The burgers consisted of 1 lb of beef, 1 lb of pork, 1 egg and one minced yellow onion.  Seasoned with Cajun seasoning, hot sauce and a lil extra Worcestershire sauce, they were really good.  
   I would show yall a picture of a finished plate but it wasn't that kind of day.  As we listened to the Saints get badly beaten by the miserable Carolina Panthers, we just snacked, and being in fear of missing something 'good' happening with our team on the radio, we didn't even bother to run inside and get plates, or silverware, so..."finger food"; thas what we are callin' it and we are stickin' with that story. Peggy had a nice fire going in the little firepit close to the house, so's as to not get too close to where the young kittens were frolicking. It made a nice backdrop for our 'meal'.

While the roast took it's time smoking, we picked 9 grocery bags of our citrus and distributed them out to neighbors, along with our Christmas card.  It has become our tradition to share  some of the bounty of our yard, and our cards, with our neighbors.

I really enjoy spreading a little Christmas cheer around the neighborhood and it was very well recieved by those who were home and a pleasent surprise, we hope, for those who weren't.

 When we got home we discovered that MarkyBear, (the brat) our chubby Bichon, who is so fat that he has a very hard time waddling around and has to back up and launch himself three or four times if he's going to be successful in even getting up onto the couch, (And most of the time he doesn't make it anymore)...well...in just the short time it took us to run up the street and hand out the oranges and envelopes, he had climbed up onto the wobbly glass patio table and finished off 3 of those big burger patties and 2 baked potatoes!  The only reason he didn't also devour the corn is 'cause it wasn't shucked. Peg and I had planned on having those for supper. To add insult to injury, I had to go 'rescue' the big lug off the table so he wouldn't hurt himself trying to get back down, all the while Peg is telling me, "Don't be mad at him, don't be mad at him!" Too late, but I guess it was my fault for forgetting that the 'little' guy had lost a few lbs. lately and now, with some effort, managed to be able to jump up into our patio table chairs, which I foolishly left parked by the table.  At any rate we all liked the burgers, those of us who actually got any of them.  Once the roast reached 175F we pulled it off the pit and there it will rest till the morning.
 That's when it'll get "pulled" and slathered in Peggy's sauce.  I can hardly wait. 
  Those were the highlights of the day. By the way, our team, the Saints, lost such an amazingly embarrassing game, that half of their fans were so disgusted that they left the stadium around half time. Peg said, "The Panthers put our team in a big paper sack, put it on our porch, set it on fire, and rang our bell."
  Just another unordinary December Sunday around here...but, look, did we mention we've got pulled pork sammiches to look forward to out of da deal?

The next day Peggy made her BBQ sauce and we pulled the pork and pored on the sauce and warmed it in the oven so the sauce would set.

This stuff was amazing and now we have some for when company comes it freezes great in qt bags and is a quick fix for the munchies. 


Whack 'em, Stack 'em, Burn 'em Up

  After having two nights where there were a few hours below freezing, I decided it was time to put our garden boxes to bed.  I'm kicking myself right now for not taking pictures as I uprooted our okra, shook the dirt off, and cut the 8-10 ft stalks into short pieces that fit in the bottom of my wheelbarrow.  Once I got them all pulled up, shook off and whacked up, I put the pieces in the compost heap, and hoed and raked the garden level, then removed the string that we use to divide the bed into a square foot grid.  Once the bed was all leveled off with fertilizer and compost worked in, me and my 'assistant yard helper', Beaux, loaded a bale of hay into the wheelbarrow to spread out on some of our box beds.  Peggy stepped out with the camera when she heard me laughing at my helper.

As soon as I loaded the hay, he naturally had to jump in and climb on top and assume command of his yard chariot.  "We" spread the hay over the new garden bed, our asparagus patch, and over the larger garden bed.

We left Peggy's herb garden and the strawberry patch uncovered since they both have green things growing in 'em.  On cold nights we can just cover them with towels or old sheets.  The strawberries won't get their straw for another month or two. 
Looking close at or garden bed, you can see some green onions growing through the hay.  They should be fine this winter, barring some errant deep freeze.
  The next morning I rode over to good friend Sam's and from there we went to see Sam's kin, Lance. Lance is also a member in our 'trading country boy network'.  The place Lance works was changing out their scaffolding boards, so rather than see them go to the dump, he loaded them in a trailer and brought them home.  Sam and I loaded up a truckload of these solid oak 6' long boards and dumped them in my yard.
The boards are heavy oak 2" by 12" inchs and on each end have an iron pin through them.
With that in mind, I got out our sawhorses and my skill saw and went to whacking each 6' board into 4-18" pieces.  These I stacked in two different places in the yard.  The end pieces got  put in a pile by the new big fire-pit I'd made, while the middle pieces with no pins in them got stacked on the back wood rack (by the doghouse, now 'cathouse').  Since the ones that don't have pins in them are very easy to split, we'll use them in our smaller fire pit.

So after whacking away at them, the pile got smaller, until after a couple water breaks and a couple hours went by, they were all whacked up.
After whacking and stacking and toting and sweating, there wasn't but one more thing to do.  Sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. (MarkyBear lurked under the chair waiting for an appearance of the new tiny yard kitties)

The pit worked wonderful and even passed a grilling test with flying colors. The corner drafted well and did a great job, giving a few pork chops a great smokey flavor.  Of course my sweet spicy rub didn't hurt anything.
Life in our backyard aint all 'work and no play', and after all that whacking and stacking was over it was time to sit back, relax and be thankful for my well-stocked fire pit and woodpile all from our country boy network. As I lifted my first beer in salute, I gave ol' Sam a call and hollered, "Hey, where yat? Why aint ya here?"  but he wasn't around to hear it. Well, I figure, after all that whacking and stacking and hauling and hoeing and raking that all cost me nothing, but gained me a lot; I sat back and enjoyed the satisfaction of a well-earned rest by a nice roaring fire; priceless.


Yard Cats

I got kinda bored sittin' around the house last Thursday, while Peg was busy, so I decided to go sit at the boat landing and 'drown a few worms'.  I got home around 4 o'clock, walked into the backyard and immediately drew a kitty crowd.
Mama yard cat came tumbling out with her 4 tiny kittens as soon as I started moving things around in the yard.
What a nice greeting; they all came wobbling out of their hidey places from around and under the house we had put for them, (installed with two heating pads and topped with a warm blanket because of the freezing temps we've had lately.) I soon came to realize it wasn't me they were coming out for.
Even the small, timid 4th kitten cautiously peeked out with his startlingly blue eyes.  What brought them out of hiding wasn't me but the other "Cat" I brought into the yard.

Catfish that is.  The quickest way to get kitties out of hiding is to plop fresh fish liver in their bowl.  As soon as I had
 "Mr. Whisker-fish" skinned, they all pounced on their bowl, 
            They seemed quite happy with this other cat in the yard.


A Ride To Peg's Pultneyville

One weekend while we were camped out at Dan's house in western New York State, Peggy said we were gonna ride up to Lake Ontario.  I was a little reluctant on accounta having just spent a month camped out at the Webster campground, which was on the shore of the lake.  She assured me I would enjoy the ride to Pultneyville, but still I unenthusiastically climbed into the SUV and only a grumbled a 'little' bit about it, shrugging, 'okay, back to da lake'.  Our time in New York was growing short cuz we'd been there six weeks already and November was fast approaching bringing with it what I feared might be snow, so I dreaded having to be 'wasting' one of our precious days together seeing the same area again we'd already been seeing for all this time.  She assured me I wouldn't be disappointed, and boy! was she ever right.  We drove back up to Webster and were met by the family of deer we had been seeing on a daily basis. Well, okay, you can never get tired of seeing that.

But then as we rode by way of the special scenic road called the Seaway Trail along the lake, the scenery changed dramatically as we rode through amazing apple orchards.  For a South Louisiana country boy, I was bug-eyed, nose-to-the-window as we passed all the trees loaded with all kinds of varieties of apples I aint nevah heard of.  I had no idea there was so many different kinds of apples.  And then, of course, there were grapes growing alongside them in many places, that being grape country as well. Peggy was right I was far from disappointed seeing all this.

When we got to the lake she took me to a park she usta love to come to and relax while gazing out over the lake.

    Okay, Cappy wanted me to tell you about this little park. The name is Forman Park. Just being in the park makes me feel as though I'm stepping back in time, to a more peaceful era. There's just something about the place. Even in summer, the air coming off the lake is cool and crisp. If the park is crowded; people everywhere, families picnicking or just relaxing, everyone is polite to one another, and still there's the quiet and restfulness. Often, I'd make the long drive by myself on weekdays when the kids were in school and folks were at work, leaving the park almost desolate. I'd go just to spend time alone to read, I might have my art supplies along, or just being still and listening to my own thoughts, or, and especially to try listen to what the Lord might be trying to tell me. And still today, when it's time to go home, it's always with sadness and regret that I have to leave, but I always do so with a sense of having been refreshed and with a longing to return soon. I hope Cappy felt that way, too. (To get a good feel for the place, click on the pictures to make them bigger)

The park was very nice and surprisingly not crowded.  I guess with all the apple orchards and harvest festivities around, everyone was elsewhere, so that made our visit all the better. We stopped at a restaurant/ice cream stand/bar there in Pultneyville and had a nice visit looking at the boats in this marina, while she had some frozen raspberry sorbet, keeping the windows of the SUV up and the heater on, cuz it was cold out up there already. The heater on...eatin' ice cream cuz it's cold outside. Shakin' my head. We're always laughing about one thing or another wherever we go, so that's a good thing.
      On the drive back to our camper we passed several front yard fruit and vegetable stands where folks were selling their harvest goodies.
 I learned from Peg that the 'Honey Crisp' apples were a local favorite prized for their flavor.  She said, tho', that when she was a kid, MacIntosh was the apples her family bought by the bushel load and snacked on them every night while watchin' tv, till the basket was empty. There were also pumpkins every where. Pumpkins and squashes.

It was an amazing trip and I learned something. In New York sumac is not poison like poison ivy like I'd always heard it was, and in the Fall it's quite beautiful. Peg says the Indians...nowadays to be politically correct I guess I should say, 'Native Americans', but they used to make a 'lemonade' kind of drink out of the dark red fuzzy 'berries'. Ya learn something new every day, it seems.
It sure added to a wonderful Saturday drive. I'm so glad we went that day and look forward to doin' it again sometime. When it's warm again.


Teaching Joe To Make My Cajun Chicken Spaghetti

  Son, Joe, came over one Saturday and I passed on a little Cajun cooking lesson.  I love teaching the guys how to cook the dishes my father cooked and passed on to me.  I came into their lives late, but am slowly trying to pass on a little knowledge of my family's Cajun traditional things.  I have taught Dan how to cook a few things and it really makes me feel good when he calls and tells me he is cooking this or that, that I taught him, for his family.
Dan and "Beaux Bear" greeted Joe as he arrived carrying a sack of munchies.
Since I had left my metal wind break for the outside propane stove back home in Louisiana, I improvised with a pizza box and with Joe looking on and helping to stir,
I started by browning half a dozen chicken thighs, and we visited while they cooked.

I took the chicken out and put in some sliced sausage and diced onion. We tried in vain to try to find some authentic Cajun sausage, so used Hillshire brand.
After they cooked down somewhat, I added a can of diced tomatoes and a can of Rotel tomatoes and let that cook down some more.  It started getting cool outside, as the sun dropped for the horizon, so I moved the whole project into our lil camper.  That way it would be warm and cozy for the photographer, (Peggy, who had been hiding out in the warmth of the camper) to visit with Joe, too.  I bet yall were wondering if I ever cook on the camper stove and the answer is, "hardly ever, but yes."

Joe paid close attention and helped with the stirring and such while we had a wonderful visit.
I showed him a couple tricks to get that particular flavor that we all love that makes our Cajun Chicken Spaghetti so special.

We had a good time and boy! did our lil camper smell wonderful.
Joe loved the stuff and polished off 2 big plates of it.  It was all I could do to save Dan a plateful.
With Peggy's gluten-free pasta stirred in, it was very good if I do say so myself, and very difficult to sacrifice my own second helping for Dan, who had gone in to work that night for some light-duty paper pushing, but I was proud to do it; aint that what Step-pops are 'posed to do? When Dan got home from work at 4:30 in the morning (he's a nightclub manager), first thing, he dove into his spaghetti, licked his fingers and fought the urge to come beat on the camper door to see if there was any more left and tell us how good it was.
   For those of you not familiar with my Chicken spaghetti, here is the recipe, complete with a how-to video from our other blog: http://theroundrobincajuncountrycooking.blogspot.com/2014/03/cajun-style-chicken-spaghetti.html