5.07.2016

Where the Easter Ham Wound Up

  After all the hubbub of Easter was over, I had taken all the leftover ham off the bone and froze it for future plans.
  Well, it wasn't all that long before the future arrived, so I took it back outa the freezer, thawed it out and cut it into chunks, and all the while, da dawgs were on high alert for any goodies that might happen to fall in the short distance from the cutting board, to the stock pot.
(...and a'course a small chunk or two mighta accidentally dropped, makin' it worth their while.)
Then, I coarse chopped a couple yellow onions,
and threw them in the pot,
then added our own homemade Cajun Spice,
and some Crystal Hot Sauce.
I ferreted out a bag of dried white beans out of the cabinet.
Once I sorted through them and rinsed them, I covered the whole shebang with water and put it to simmering all afternoon.
Once they reached the point of being almost done,
Peggy went out in her herb garden and grabbed some parsley off of her big beloved parsley root.
Once she took the leaves off the stems and chopped them,
it went into the pot along with some of our chopped bell peppers from the freezer. Just like most everything I cook, I let this simmer along while the rice pot worked, doin' it's thing. When both were done, we put them together. Not too bad for a supper of leftovers.
Our frozen larder holds plenty of possibilities starring leftovers, so stay tuned for more future coming attractions featuring "Back to the Freezer". 

4.29.2016

My Old Homemade Backyard Firepit

  A few years ago I scrounged up some cinder blocks from one of our neighbors, and some rebar and angle iron that I scored from my good friend, Sam and used it to build our fire pit. Having the rustic ol' thing to go sit and relax around, especially when friends join, has given me much joy.
Over the years we've burned stacks of wood in it, and to be honest, if I'm in a hurry or just being lazy, I might just start it up with a pile of charcoal briquettes and some lighter fluid. 
Using that quick method, once I got a li'l pile of briquettes going, I throw on some wood and voila! have a blaze in no time.   Peggy, on the other hand, is a start-a-fire-from-scratch gal, gathering up dry bits of things, creating 'stages' of tinder and graduating to heavy wood: a pile of light dry leaves, then dry twigs, then larger twigs and branches and finally logs or hunks of wood 'strategically placed' according to her, then she lights it. I'm not that patient to wait for it to catch and spring to life.
  While I don't mind pokin' the fire once it gets lit, Peggy enjoys tending to it, adjusting the wood, bringing the un-burnt ends back into the coals and moving logs around so they get enough air; stuff like that. I let her do all that. I even made her a hook on the end of a long rebar that she likes to use.
   She picks at me for 'cheating' at lightin' fires, so I decided I'd show her that I could start a fire from scratch, too...and fast. So, here is a li'l video of what I did. 
  I am a lucky man indeed. This is just one of the many reasons Peggy and I make a great team; she loves fire poking and I prefer fire sittin', sippin' and, like the last line in the video says, she does make my rocking world go round. Ya might say, 'she lights my fire'.

4.27.2016

My fishing Buddy

   Sometimes when Peg is busy or needs me to stay out of her hair for a bit so's she can concentrate on what she needs to do, I jump in TinkerBail , my old jeep...tinkerin' or bailin' her out, but she's pretty reliable now days.  I pull her outa the driveway and go ride somewhere to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery we got around here or go find a bank and toss in a line to see if I can pull in a few catfish.  It's a wonderful way to just sit and relax with a good book, wilin' away a few hours enjoyin' the sights and sounds of beautiful South Louisiana. 
   I don't post about it very often, 'cause I aint a trophy fisherman or a fill-the-ice-chest kind of guy neither.  Usually it's just a few fish; enough for supper or for one of our friends or neighbors, and that's enough of a day of catchin' for me.
  Well, anyway, here's today's fish story:
   With today's traffic bein' what is it, what with unsafe drivers thinking they are playing one of their 'road rage' games along our highways, or who knows..drunk or 'high' or especially texting...driving distracted, anyhow, Peg and I never leave our driveway without first prayin' and askin' the Lord to come along with us and keep us safe, along with everybody else on the road. 
  So, today, I just didn't feel like fishing alone and was talking to the Lord like I usually do. Like the old song says, "What a Friend we have in Jesus".  Peg and I take that literal. I'm not ashamed to say that He truly is our Friend, and has pulled us out of a lot of messes and has also blest us beyond words.
  So today, I figured He was my fishin' buddy. I hoped He wouldn't mind if, just for today, I called him Buddy. After all, He used to hang out with fishermen and pulled some fancy fishin' tricks on 'em, too. 
   I knew rain was coming this afternoon so me and my Buddy
decided to head for the Mississippi River to a li'l sandy place I know of and sit under a tall shady tree and watch the ships pass by.  
  Well, right off the bat, my Buddy was pullin' my leg a little and was probably laughin' up His sleeve. I tied on a hook and pulled the line tight and "Yaw!" it snapped!  After a couple tries I decided that the wimpy string on the Yankee fishin' pole that I call "Mac" wasn't near stout enough for the River's current, so I stripped all the line off and put some 30# mono on the reel, tied on a hook and good chunk of lead. 
   I rared back and chunked it hard, but the "flimsy" rod shot that piece of lead way out into the River all the way to the end of the string I had just put on.  When I saw it go, I was wondering for a second there if I did, for sure, tie it. (yes, I did) 
  When I tried to reel it in a li'l closer, I quickly found the drag was so loose that I figured it couldn't be reeled in with all that  weight, without slipping.
  Finally, after screwing the drag all the way down, I was able to reel it in and gently lob it out to the right distance this time. All this rewinding and messing around took about an hour, 'cause while doing that, I was also busy pulling in, re-baiting empty hooks on one of my hand lines that kept falling victim to some small bait thieves. I think my 'silent Partner' was enjoying all the goings ons. They didn't have  the luxury of all this fancy equipment back in His old fishin' buddies' days. 
   Finally I got everything set up where I could sit, relax and enjoy mah-self, when of course, it started drizzling rain.
This is my folding chair sitting by the water.  My Buddy's pole, "Mac" is the one ya see leanin' on the ice chest.  I cut a stick for a hand line that's stuck in the sand there, too. 
  So, 'we' sat there in the warm rain enjoyin' the day, anyhow for about 45 minutes. All I had got so far was empty hooks. 
But it wasn't all bad; I love sitting there looking out across the wide river.
 Well, true to form my Buddy hadn't been fishing for 10 minutes when the pole bent. It was a nice little channel "cat".
Barely got him in the ice chest though, before it really started raining hard. I called Peg (my favorite weather gal) and she said I better pack up and come on home before the big part of the storm got to where I was, cuz she was looking at the radar map on her computer and said it was fixin' to  get really stormy.  
Man, I hated to have to pack up and head home because that meant that my fishin' Buddy's pole had skunked me. 
 The bad news being the trip was cut short and when I got home, Peg showed me the weather radar; would you believe...! The bright red indicating a really, really thunder and lightening showdown headed straight for where I had been sitting over at the river...split apart...part of the strong weather went just north and part went south. Even the weather guy pointed it out and had a good laugh about it, but he didn't know how it happened. Me, too, neither, but I have my suspicions.  
The good news is, tho', back at the house it had rained too much for me to cut the grass tomorrow, so I may just have to head back out to the riverbank again for another try.  Being out-fished by a danged Yankee fishin' pole named "Mac" that Nobody looked like they was holdin' onto,  really took da cake.
 
~~~The next day I went back to my spot and again sat in the rain enjoying the river.
I sometimes wonder if the crew of the ships at anchor across the river look at me over here fishing like I look back over at them.
It wasn't long until I dragged a nice 'channel cat' onto the beach.
And soon another one joined it in the ice chest.
Lightning began to flash just as I ran out of bait, so I headed on home.  
After the thunderstorm passed I took the fish outside and cleaned them.
 I will spare you the cleaning part in case ya squeamish, but they made a nice bag of fillets that I stashed in the freezer for future court bouillons or for when we do a nice fish fry.  Time will tell.
   At least I did twice as good as I did yesterday...I wonder how many I would come home with, sittin' out there at the River with a week's worth of readin', reelin' and relaxin'. Might be fun to try and find out.

4.18.2016

Spring Babies

Spring has sprung in our yard and the yard is full of "babies".  We have baby asparagus:

(Along with full grown dollar weeds, Grrr.)
  Yes we have baby bananas:
We, for the first time, have baby brussel sprouts. We tried, but failed to get much from them, but we learned from the experience and are already planning to try again in the Fall.
The baby carrots are doing fine and should do well in our loose garden soil.
We also have baby grapes that we will fight the birds for and unfortunately, we usually lose.
Moving to our row of citrus trees, we were thrilled to see our small two year old kaffir lime tree flouring with tiny baby limes.  We usually pull the citrus off the first year to allow the tree to grow big enough to support the weight of the fruit. Since the tree is still rather small, we might end up doing the same thing; however we are excitedly leaving one of two of them to mature this year.

Our other citrus, including our Meyer "lemon monster", our exceedingly sweet and extra juicy Ruby Red grapefruit, the Naval orange and Louisiana sweet Satsuma trees are all doing great and are also filled with baby fruit.





(Lord, please say the same--->) We will again be able to share our wonderful citrus bounty with all our family friends and neighbors, as in past years. (Last year notwithstanding)
Elsewhere in the yard we also have baby sweet peas,
baby pomegranates,
and "Twitchy's" baby yum yums, which are a variety of nectarines.
Over by the fence where we planted blueberries last Fall, and they are trying hard to ripen their baby berries despite the birds, and 'who' we might suspect are squirrels, who have been upending the chicken wire "cages" that we hastily fashioned. We notice the biggest almost bluest baby berries have been stripped off the young bushes. Never fear, we are plotting and planning to build proper cages for them in the future. (Take that birds and/or squirrels!)
 In an effort to get a few paw paws this year, we wrapped the bloom-filled one of our two paw paw trees with bird netting.  This is another fruit that the birds get before they even get a chance to grow at all and ripen; they usually eat the dark baby flowers...completely.
Our wise old pecan tree, one of two that were planted by my father way back in the early 90's and our two new small pecan trees have no baby nuts, so far, but are all flowering nicely.  Hopefully, we can get a few nuts this fall when we go to war with the squirrels for them. Peg has already seen a big red squirrel perusing the limbs looking for food. All's I can say, is he'd better watch out or the shoe's gonna be on the other foot. 

Well, that covers most of the Spring time baby reports. It's always an exciting time for us as we await their growth. A last minute addition to this post is a joyous discovery I just made.  We now have baby figs or as we call them "figlets".

Speaking of Spring...I hope you don't mind if we "spring" this on ya (see below). It's not so much for our regular readers, and I hope they aren't offended at seeing this again, but we wanted to include the information below to any new readers, which helps and encourages us with the writing and posting of this, our blog.

 About our blog ads:
Every time I visit a blog or privately owned forum, on my way "out", I click on one of their ads; mostly things I am interested in, anyhow.
   When I do this, it adds a penny or two to that blogger's account. It's kind of like leaving a tip to let the blog writer know ya appreciate their posts. If I don't leave a comment, at least the ad click helps make the writer feel good.

  We know this because it makes our day when we get a comment or an "ad click" and we always always thank you here at home and ask God to Bless you for doing so. 


4.15.2016

Plum Amazing! (Our 2016 Loquat Crop)

  This year turned out to be a bumper crop for our two Japanese aka Loquat plum trees!  The mild winter had them setting fruit earlier than usual and the fertilizer we give them every February spurred them on in their making and growing big, heavy fruit for us 'til their branches were sagging to the ground under all the weight of the plums.
They grew in clusters like grapes and ripened so fast that before I knew it, it was time to call my friend Mr. Tarzan to come get some for his wine making. 
 He makes wine with the loquat plums that he gathers, and that's his 'niche' in our "Country Boy Network".
Well, when I called him up, he came right over the next morning and he and I picked 'til our pickers were sore. We estimate that we got 120 lbs. of 'em loaded into the back of his pickup truck, and it didn't even seem to us, or the trees, that we had hardly made a dent in the harvest. Here's a short video that Peggy put together of me and Tarzan picking 'em.  
  I picked another 100 lbs of them, so Peggy sorted, washed, peeled and pitted, then froze them for a future jam making project. 
Anybody doubting our fertilizing technique just needs to look at this short little video and the Lemon Monster blog post, because, MAN! it sure does pay off! 
You will note that I avoided all the plum puns I coulda used and for me, this is strange cause I am a punny kinda guy. (Of course Peggy put plenty of plum puns on the video production part of this post.)  

3.30.2016

Our Two Blogs

Well, while ya mighta not been lookin', some time ago, we started another blog dedicated just to our 'take' on foods.
  What a better name than "The Round Robin's Cajun Country Cooking Blog". (Take one look at us two Robins and you'll know why.)
The Round Robin blog doesn't consist of our yard, or our dawgs, or etc., but just offers our gluten-free Cajun recipes, and if we think about it when we are dining out, we'll add our opinions about the restaurants we enjoy.
 This is just a 'heads up' to let you know. Here's the link:
http://theroundrobincajuncountrycooking.blogspot.com/

Another thing we wanted to find a way to tell you is this: (which we also posted on "The Round Robin blog")

                About our blog ads:
Every time I visit a blog or privately owned forum, on my way "out", I click on one of their ads; mostly things I am interested in, anyhow.
   When I do this, it adds a penny or two to that blogger's account. It's kind of like leaving a tip to let the blog writer know ya appreciate their posts. If I don't leave a comment, at least the ad click helps make the writer feel good.
  We know this because it makes our day when we get a comment or an "ad click" and we always always thank you here at home and ask God to Bless you for doing so. 

3.13.2016

What's for Supper?

 It was just one of "those" days yesterday.  Torrential rain was coming down from morning 'til night, so Peggy occupied herself inside by catching up on sewing projects and such, so I said I'd cook supper. Pretty nice of me to say I would...but then I wondered: "what to cook?"
  So I stood there in front of the fridge with the door hanging open, just looking around in there, when I spied the pack of pork chops I'd already thawed out for the next day. I figured 'what the heck' I'll cook 'em now.
They were pretty chops I had scored on sale awhile back, so still not sure what I was really gonna do with them, I took 'em out, rinsed them off and plopped them on the cutting board, ("meat side" up to avoid getting lectured at again...I've learned...I've learned). 
    So, then, there they sat while I ruminated about what to do with 'em. I remembered that the last chops with this particular cut had come out a li'l dry and kinda tough on the bbq pit, so I decided I'd whack these ones into pieces and cook them in the ol' black iron pot to keep them tender.
First I trimmed off the fat and bones, then cut them up. I saved the trimmings and bones for doggy broth.
Peggy boils the scraps down then takes most of the fat off, leaving a broth that she puts on the dogs' dry food. They love the extra flavor and it's better than just chunking it all into the trash, since, heck, we paid good money for it.  
    In the old days, my Mama would fry a piece of that fat and use it to season her pot, but now we try to be a li'l healthier so we just use a spoon of veggie oil instead.
    Those of you who know me, pretty much know what's coming next: to the pork I added our own blend of Cajun spices, Crystal Hot Sauce and Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire sauce . This combination is what Peg calls the "usual suspects", all gluten free, of course.  
While the pork sizzled away in the black iron pot, it started smelling like "home" around here, so to complete the mood, I  'fired up da jukebox' with some good ol' Friday night music. Now we're talkin'!
Back at task, I rough cut a couple of big yellow onions.
As I was rakin' them into the pot, Peggy sashayed out into the kitchen, grabbed me around the waist and started swaying to the beat of the song that was playing.  Giving the pot a quick stir  and joinin' Peg in the middle of the kitchen, we slow danced while the wonderful Cajun smells and music swirled all around us. Now, that's what I'm talkin' about! 
 After a few songs, Peg went back to her sewing project and I went back to tending the pot.
    The pork and onions cooked down and began to brown, but I still hadn't decided what in I the heck was cooking.
    From this point, I could go in a lot of different directions, including to just let it cook down a li'l more and serve it over rice. Then, one of my favorite childhood dishes came to mind! I decided to make 'pork and beans'.  No, not what you normally think of, like the beans in a can in a red catsup sauce, but the old Cajun version of pork...and...beans.
    I ferreted a pound of dried great northern white beans out of the cupboard (no Cajun pantry should ever be without an assortment of dried beans) sorted and washed them, dumped them into the pot and covered them with water, turned the music up a li'l and opened me a beer, relieved that now I knew what I was cookin' for sure.
  The beans simmered for almost two hours while I cleaned up my cutting board and knife and such, checked on Peggy, piddled with my laptop in the kitchen, writing some more on our second book, "Space Freighter: Exigent, Oer", caught up on different forums and Face Book, and all the while enjoying the music, the whir of the sewing machine in the background and the aroma of memories long ago from my grandmother's kitchen wafting throughout the house. 
 Peg came by occasionally for a hug and a bit of barefoot kitchen cuddling and swaying some more to the music.
  A couple of hours later, I added some chopped bell pepper and green onions, then put on a pot of rice to cookin'.
The greens "cooked in" while the rice steamed. When everything was cooked, I turned off the stove; let the pots 'settle', while I relaxed with a beer or two before supper, then had Peg plate it up.
This is Cajun pork and beans, along with one of the coleslaws that Peg makes. I was probably about 12  years old before I discovered  that this wasn't what the rest of the world meant when they said, "pork and beans". If you give this "recipe" a try, I promise you you will never look at a can of pork and beans the same way again.
A lot of 'ingredients' went into turning one of "those" days into a wonderful meal. So...that's what was for supper!