Smokin'!! Another 'Experiment' Gone RIGHT!

 While snooping around in cyberspace or watching food tv, lately, I've noticed folks talking about using coffee grounds in their bbq dry rubs. I normally take my coffee black and don't like anything in it...same with my beer, I want my beer to have beer in it. Well, despite this, my bein' a 'foodie' and all, it kinda got me curious.  
   It's really great having a friend with a smokehouse, 'cause he usually has an empty shelf when he's makin' his sausage. With that in mind, I mentioned to Sam that I was thinking about experimenting with a coffee ground rub on smoked meat. He said he was firing up his smokehouse in two days to make a batch of wild hog sausage, so it didn't take me long to hatch a plan. Two days later we were ready to start cookin'.
   The dry rub was simple: equal parts coffee grounds, Cajun seasoning, and light brown sugar.  I measured it out in a mason jar and headed over to Smokin' Sam's, taking along some chicken legs and pork steaks to give the dry rub a test run.
Here's what the chops looked like when they came out of the smokehouse where they had enjoyed a few smoky hours underneath Sam's 70 lbs of wild hog sausage.
I brought Peggy some samples, plus video and photos of the day's exploits, so she made a short video.
As you can plainly see, we had a good time like we always do, along with the results of our test. Now, I still don't want any chicken in my coffee, but I will take some coffee on my chicken, and I think I just might have to have another "chop" of coffee real soon.


We DID it!!

Well, now we are pretty excited. After more than a year and a half, we finally finished our book and it's on sale as an ebook. Within the first couple of minutes we sold one copy...woo hoo! There's an option to let people read 20% of the book for free, so about twenty (maybe) people are doing that right now...we hope they'll want to buy the whole thing. In a few days it should...we are HOPING... be available on Nook, Kindle, Amazon, and etc. The link is here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/566680
   I, Peggy, am not a huge fan of science fiction, so when Cappy asked me to co-author, I had a lot of input and fun weaving a lot of stories around the main story. I loved developing the characters and their funny dialogs.
  Cappy is amazing, to me. His knowledge of cutting edge science and imagination allows the reader to 'be there' in the future, living normal and exciting lives. There are no monsters, or witchcraft or aliens, but there are high adventures to be sure.
I, of course, am prejudiced, but to me, now, it's a "fun read". It's about a captain, much like 'our' Cappy, who pushed oil barges up and down the Mississippi River, and all around the bayous and back waters of South Louisiana. The barges he pushed were the size of football fields. The captain in our story, carries huge barges in the shape of octagonal freight containers from planet to planet. Pricey merchandise. Hmmm. Wouldn't a space freighter, traveling, isolated and alone out in the universe attract the attention of bad guys (pirates), looking to take advantage of the situation? Who's gonna survive?
Actually, we hope it's us! We hope it sells like gangbusters!
Well, since you've been along for so many 'rides' with us, here on our blog, we just wanted you to know where we've been and what we've been up to. Wish us well; we'll keep you updated.


2015 Fall/Winter Garden Experiment: Garlic; It's ALIVE!!!

Those of you who follow this blog, know we are always trying to raise new things in our garden beds.  We have a few square foot style garden boxes. The lengths vary, but none of them are more than four feet wide.
  One of our oldest 4'x4' boxes has been through several different incarnations.  We created it to be a simple, unassuming herb garden, and for several years it worked quite well, producing a variety of herbs, but also included one 'rosemary monster' who rose up and took over half the box one season. 
  We uprooted Rosemary and moved her to another part of the yard, where she pouted and decided to give up the ghost, no matter how hard we had tried to appease her. We tried resurrecting her, in a way, by buying more of 'her', time after time, planting, then digging her back up 'cuz she didn't like it there...or there....or nope, not there either. Finally,  we put her in Peg's new shade garden; the same spot 'she' had liked so well before. Well...so, then she got 'squashed' this year in the onslaught of the "Great Renegade Butternut Squash Takeover, Summer 2015." She's dead again, or so it appears.
  Next, in this same 4'x4' garden, we planted strawberries. This experiment lasted for several years. We bought strawberry plants from the local big box garden centers, and from the local ag. Since both of those efforts were unsuccessful, we then we hunkered like fiends over brightly colored seed and plant catalogs and rubbed our hands together waiting for our next strawberry specimen's arrival. Meanwhile, we fluffed up their bed with fresh straw from a feed store 15 miles down the road. We fertilized and watered and checked the chemical makeup of the soil. The healthy young strawberry plants arrived and got planted in amongst the paltry few who were still faltering, in their effort to survive. 
   Oh, they grew alright, these new ones. The bugs, the birds, and the blankety-blank weeds were having a ball in that bed, but we got barely a berry. And that last sentence was the best thing that we got out of that whole strawberry box deal.
   Talking with folks, we agree, that because of our extreme southern heat, strawberries will never do well here; at least in our yard. We live just south of prime strawberry growing territory. Drat! Foiled again.
  Back to Square One. What to try next?  Research!
  After picking a few brains; that of friends and garden forums, we decided to grid off the 4'x4' plot and try to bring new life into it. The body of our investigation and consultation of my associates led us to believe that we might be able to breathe new life into our garden by growing garlic. With that  in mind, we decided to execute this plan.
We dug through the old soil, worked it over and prepared it for another undertaking. 
 We scurried to the market and brought home a few cloves of garlic, then we pulled off their toes and stashed them in a large aluminum wash basin.  
    To make sure they were properly spaced, I dug out our old 4-hole garden stencil. Wiping off the cobwebs, I discovered it looked like it was old, decrepit, crumbled and mangled, so I quickly disposed of it.  Peg, my accomplice, unearthed a 1 foot square piece of cardboard and I laid out plans for making our new stencil.  The trick is to go in 3 inches from all the edges; that way all bulbs get planted 6 inches apart with 4 to each square foot. This way they will be buried 6" from their neighbors, as well.
After laying out the grid, I used a circle templet for the holes, then knifed them out with an exacto knife.
They didn't come out exacto, but what the heck, close enough for planting garlic.
This old pine box is, as best as we can remember, around 13 years old. The 2"x12" boards are starting to decompose and several of the nails slipped out and had to be relocated. Several others had were rusted, decayed and broken off .  I put the pattern down on the bed and poked holes into the sod with my finger, while Peggy took pictures and helped me place all the toes in the plot, and cover them. It was hot and thirsty work, and frankly, my stein of beer made that whole body of laborious toil well worth it.

We had prepared the garden box by working the old soil and adding compost, organic garden fertilizer and to top it off, we dumped in a sack of Miracle Grow garden soil. When we find it deeply discounted, we get a few sacks and use it to supplement whatever needs burying or worked into the soil around the yard...whenever it's called for. 
    This was 5 days ago. We must have done something right 'cause this morning when Peg went outside strolling and looking at the empty plot, she saw something coming up out of the ground! An early riser poking its little garlicy head out of the ground. So far, this experiment looks like it's working! This time if we have a successful crop, we'll be able to say, "That stinks!" but this time it will be a GOOD thing.


Tenth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

   We wrote, "The Tolling of the Great Southern Belle" ten years ago, after Hurricane Katrina had devastated South Louisiana and the coastal cities of Mississippi and Alabama.
   Cappy was out on the boat, riding it out. His boat was tied up and he was alone. Everyone else had 'jumped ship', until after the worst was over. I heard him try to stay calm over the phone, but it was difficult, when he kept getting thrown hard from one side of the wheelhouse to the other. He thought he might not survive, but didn't tell me until much later.
  I had 'run' to Texas to take a young woman there, in my SUV loaded with her stuff and cat, plus our two dogs. We were in a news blackout so didn't hear how badly things had gotten back in New Orleans, until the next morning in the hotel. I was only getting bits and pieces between times when the young lady (I had driven there and I had paid for our hotel suite) kept turning off the television, disgusted that "anyone would want to watch that stuff." (The original mold of ingratitude was not created because of her, but just one more thing to have to endure because of all the confusion due to the storm.) The first indication that let me know I had run from a very bad situation, was from Cappy, when the phone service came on temporarily between us. He said, "Oh, Peg. This is not good. The levee breached and there are bodies floating in the streets of New Orleans. I've never in my lifetime heard of that happening." 
   At the time I wrote the "Tolling" blog post, here at home, a few scant days later, anarchy seemed to be ruling the streets in New Orleans. Chaos. Panic. Death caused by the hurricane and flood was now accompanied by lawlessness. The death toll kept rising. 
   I feared that the beautiful city of New Orleans may have been completely gone forever, and so I wrote:

            The Tolling of the Great Southern Belle  

She was one of a kind, our Nola. She was a grand lady, the finest example of gracious Southern Hospitality. She was a beautiful hostess, a lady of refinement, gentility, and humor. (And her food!...My, Oh, My, Momma NOLA's Cookin'!) But for all her artisocracy and proper Southern manners,we all knew that beneath all the lace and petticoats, she was a foxy seductress, a siren, who's wanton, bluesy, raunchy, soulful, music wafted through her French Quarter. We loved her for all that she was...with all of her sins and for all of her goodness.
What a terrible 'cat-fight'. Nola had been able to defend herself against Betsy and Camille; been battered and bruised, but recovered...eventually. It appears that Katrina has beaten our Dear City and surrounding area.
New Orleans Saints have multiplied beyond number as of yet. More go Marching In all the time; those not having been rescued, and now more recently, victims of crime. No one knows how high the death toll is going to be. New Orleans, Louisiana, or 'NOLA', the Great Southern Belle is still tolling.


Could Ya TRY Not to Get Creeped Out By These Very NICE Banana Spiders?

When we see the first banana spider we know Fall can't be far behind. (These are not to be confused with the Wandering Banana spider indigenous to Brazil, which is poisonous) Another name for these huge 'ladies' is the Golden Orb Weaver.
  This one took up residence under the patio underhang, not far from where the doves had raised their small family last month. What an intricate and fancy web she's got going for her this year. Looks like she's got it on zigzag.
She's apparently camera shy, and scurried to hide, but I caught this nice shot of her, below, as she hurried away.
She usually stays parked in the middle of the web unless we scare her by walking too close to her setup. She seems to be making a good living up there. 

She's rather small by comparison to our other banana spider standards. She looks to only be about the size of the palm of my hand.  As Fall approaches, there will probably be several of them setting up shop in various spots around our yard.  We try not to bother them unless they block a path.  They are great at catching skeeters and we appreciate that, as well as their beauty.  (It took Peg awhile to be able to look at them as one of God's creatures, and it helped that they ate a ton of mosquitoes.)
   As more show up, I will try to get some pictures of their webs covered with morning dew shining like glittering strands of tiny jewels sparkling in the morning sun.  
Sadly, these wonderful creatures have become the bane of Fall hunters as they walk through the woods, hunting.  Imagine creeping through the woods, concentrating on the tops of trees for elusive squirrels, or looking down, eyes darting behind bushes or shrubs for prey and walking face first into one of these huge spiders, whose web is exactly nose high.
Here, below, is a link to a couple of stories where Peg thought one 'got her', and only because of these dreaded South Louisiana mosquitoes, has she finally come to terms with the realization that, a lot of the bigger bugs are really on her side (NOT Literally!!) after all. 


Our Book got a 5 Star Review!!

After a year and a half of researching and writing, we finally got our book, "Space Freighter First Dock: Neo-Eden" published, for now, as an online ebook. This was a little more than two weeks ago. We have since, been anxiously awaiting any kind of feedback for all the hard work we'd put into the venture. We have been in the dark, wondering if any of the twenty or so buyers actually like what we had written.
   It's a long book, (nearly five hundred pages) with rich characters and a lot of, what we feel, are fun and interesting stories wound around the main story line. We were hoping and praying others would agree. That being said, we should have known it would take anyone some time to get through it, and comforted ourselves with that thought.
 (Peggy here: it's not what I'd call the usual sci-fi, but more read as though it were a fun tale taking place, even today. No vulgarity or bad swearing. Plus, despite, in today's world, it being politically incorrect, we honor God.) 
  So, two weeks went by and still no sign of anyone letting us know their thoughts on the matter. 
  Finally, we woke up the other morning and found this review accompanied by 5 stars on Amazon:  
Sci-Fi Fans take notice and buckle your seatbelts! Ray and Peggy Robin (Cappy and Pegody) authors of Space Freighter First Dock: Neo Eden, have written an exciting new book.
Original story line from Earths future filled with page turning delight. Well-developed characters, fast paced, outstanding descriptions of old and new earth, their ship the Intrepid, and other worlds.
Delicious mystery, thought provoking intrigue and brilliant dialog.
Space Freighter First Dock: Neo Eden is truly a page turner that catches the imagination and won’t let go. This is the best new Science Fiction story I’ve read in years and I’m sure it will become a fan favorite with the promise of many more installments.
Look for Cappy and Pegody to be 2016 Hugo or Nebula Award winners, if not both!
Truly a must read for Sci-Fi fans everywhere.

Just in case you think we made it up it is here on the Amazon link:


Don't forget you can get a free sample and distributor discount at smashwords:


If you decide to read our book, please do like the angel who wrote this review on Amazon and give us the review you think we deserve and/or drop us a note and let us know what ya think.
  It must be noted: the man who wrote the review above, is a noted author, himself, J.D.Ludwig, who wrote Overreach: Blood of Patriots, also available online and in bookstores.
  Whaa Hoo! It's getting to be a fun ride now!


The Mad Experiment Continues

Last Spring, as an experiment, we planted some yard-long beans in our little square foot garden.  We were told they were good hot weather plants that could withstand our South Louisiana Summers.  If you look a little ways back into our blog archives, you will see how we were thrilled when we planted them and they practically jumped out of the ground! Now, with them growing, we've harvested plenty and cooked them several different ways.  Well, here it is the middle of an almost record dry, extremely hot August, and we are happy to report that the beans have survived without us even watering them. Not wanting to venture out into the miserably oppressive heat, ourselves, we had given up, but they didn't. They are still producing aplenty, so here's a picture of yesterday's harvest:
These, along with a few okra and some small peppers are all the garden is producing in the summer heat. Peg used up the peppers already, or they'd be smilin' at ya, here along with the beans and okra.  
So, this is the freezer's haul for one day. Not a bad deal. Not shabby at all. (shade garden notwithstanding)
Even though the volunteer squash has retreated, because the heat has beaten them back,
taking another look this morning, it looks like they've gotten their second wind.
Maybe they plan to take over Peg's shade garden and the yard again this Fall. A few of her flowers survived the onslaught of Summer drought and squashes taking over their bed. If those viney beans and viney squash ever crawl across the yard and meet in the middle, head to head, who knows what kind of plant versus plant entertainment we'd find ourselves watching for the next few months or so. I guess this proves what simple folks we are. It's the little things in life that tickle our fancy that we find "Madcap" fun. Muah ha ha, anyone? (anyone?)


An Update On Our Nesting Doves

The pair of doves that nested on our patio hatched a pair of little ones and cared for them 'til one morning we woke and discovered that they had all flown away. There was no sign of struggle or anything sinister; they had just packed their little birdies up and flew the coop, so to (conveniently) say. 
 We miss seeing them every morning and hope they all survive wherever they went. We hear their coo on occasions in different parts of our yard, so know that they are still around, just not on the patio anymore.  If we locate them, you can be sure we will take more photos, but for now, here is a short video...'baby pictures', if you will.  
They grew so fast that before we could remember to film them again, they were gone.  They were a joy while they were here, though, and we wish them well. Sighhh...so here we are, empty nesters...they did leave us that to remember them by.


Asparagus Beans in a pot __?___ Yards Long

When life hands you a bunch of yard long beans what's a poor Cajun man to do?
Drag out da ol' black iron pot, whack them up into little pieces and smother them down to the point ya can barely tell they are beans, das what.  First ya grab some bacon pieces and whatever smoked sausage ya have on hand and throw that in the pot.
Once that renders down some, toss in a couple chopped up onion and some Cajun seasoning.
  As I have mentioned before ,the salt from the seasoning draws moisture out of the onions and speeds up the cooking process.
Once the onions have cooked down a little.
 dump in a big pan of yard long beans and a little more seasonings.
Cook them down,
Until  they are totally 'smothered', looking nothing like beans at all; then they are "done".
Then, dish them up with salad and a steak and call them supper.
They were very good; slightly different from our normal snap beans, and in our opinion a wonderful addition to our back yard garden.  This was our first dish with them and we plan to try them several other (maybe less cooked down) ways, and we will let yall know what we think, but so far we are thrilled to at how productive they are, and live up to our friend, Todd's endorsement.  I have noticed that several of yall are commenting that they look thinner than regular beans, but I can't help but wonder if they just seem that way because they are so long.  Once "whacked" up and sitting in the pot they look pretty normal to me. ( 'Course I 'm not sure I'm the right spokesperson for "normal".)


Yes!! We Have Some Bananas!

  As I have oft said before, the problem with living in a semi-tropical environment is the 'semi' part.  Two winters ago, we had one of our rare hard freezes, which (temporarily) killed all the banana fronds.  If you look back  in our blog, (somewhere) you will see that I had to whack our dried brown banana palms down to the ground, in hopes they would start over.  Well, they came right up again, growing vigorously, like they do, and grew all year with most of them managing to survive all the way through last winter.  Here, in sunny South Louisiana, it takes the bananas two years to mature, because our growing season is not quite long enough for them to complete their cycle of bringing bananas to 'fruition'. 
  The other day, Peggy excitedly called me to come look out the back door, where she was pointing out a huge banana flower we had somehow overlooked.  
   To me, they look for all the world like a big purple ice cream cone hanging from a stem, and, right now, I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture right then.  That was July 3rd, and I never got around to taking a picture of the flower 'til yesterday, the 6th. A lot has happened in just those three days.
As you can see, the flower already started opening, exposing the first of the tiny little green baby bananas. See 'em? They have some kind of little yellow bloom on the end of each one.
Yall help Peg and me remember, and I'll try to take a picture a week or so, from now, to show yall how the bananas are progressing. We'll have to go look, now, through all the thicket of banana palms back there, to see if we don't find some more  bananas! For now, though, yes, we got some!