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:

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. 


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!


Black-eyed Peas Jambalaya!

   Mama usta call it "Rio-fev". (roll the 'R' and accent the 'fev'.)  It was an old family recipe that has several different versions, but mainly, she'd use whatever kinda meat she had handy. 
   This morning we had four leftover chicken thighs in the fridge that Peg had grilled and smokey'd up outside on our faithful Old Smokey grill, while I mowed the lawn.   
   Alongside the smoky thighs hanging out in the fridge, I found half a breast of baked chicken, so, as long as none of them had anything better to do, I decided to do like my Mama did and cook up this ol'-fashioned dish for Peggy who was feeling a li'l under the weather. 
   I dragged out our big black iron pot and seasoned the bottom of it with three thick slices of bacon cut in small pieces.  Once they started sizzling, I threw in some rough chopped yellow onion and sprinkled on our own blend of Cajun Seasoning.  
  When the onions softened up nicely, I added a lb. of dried black eye peas (that I washed and sorted) and over-topped  everything in the pot with an inch of water, then brought it to a boil. I reduced the heat, put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for about an hour. 
  After an hour, the beans had swollen up and began to soften, so I added the leftover chicken. An added bonus was a clove of roasted garlic that I found which Peg had stuck in the cavity of the baked chicken when she had cooked it. Into the pot it went, as well.
  A half an hour later, I added some parsley fresh out of our garden, some of our green onions and bell peppers that we had harvested, cut up and froze earlier in the season, and let that all cook in, lid on. 
   After yet another half an hour, I sampled. (Cajun cookin' takes time...the ingredients have to 'get to know each other' and 'marry'.) 
    The beans were nice and soft, thoroughly cooked, so, from years of experience, I 'gauged' the pot by eye and decided I would need to fill my regular coffee cup about two times with my usual Mahatma long grain (uncooked) rice, so first I added three cups of water to the beans that already still had some juice in them. (Don't add the rice just yet.)
    I brought it all back again to a good rolling boil then added the two cups of rice and let it all simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes "at a good bubble", stirring every minute or so. While it was simmering away, I preheated the oven for 250 degrees.
   After about five minutes, I put the lid back on tightly and stuck it into the 250 degree oven and went about my business, letting it 'do its thing'.
  An Hour later I took it out the oven and fluffed it up. Viola! (if food be the music of love, play on!)

 I guess most folks around the country call this "Hoppin' John", and around New Orleans it's "Black-eyed Peas Jambalaya, but where I was born and raised, the Cajuns call it "Rio-fev".  One thing most everybody calls it, though, is 'delicious'. 
    I wrote this post as an example of how I cook with no recipe or ingredient list 'cause I just used whatever I found in the fridge. I didn't put any measurements for yall, 'cause I don't measure...like my Mama, I just add 'til it "looks right".  
    Since my 'sous chef' was under the weather, I did manage to write down the steps myself about what I was cooking during the whole process. 
  Most Cajun men love to cook, having had the dishes passed on down to them by their family. I learned how to cook at both my Dad and Mama's side, not to mention my grandparents, as well,  and now I  pass the dishes on to the next generation, or to anyone who wants to spend a little time leisurely tending to a pot of good Cajun cooking that has passed the taste test of time. 


...And Now THIS!

  Sometimes it seems like God is having more fun coming up with things in our yard, just to surprise us. Squash invasions. Kitty cat invasions. Doves roosting and raising their young'uns right outside our back door. Giant banana spiders in close proximity to the bird nest...spiders almost big enough to catch the wee baby doves (but not). Odd. Weird, quirky, but fun stuff. Always something.
  Peg took Master Gardeners classes, but none of those lessons prepared us for what tricks The "Master Gardener" holds up His sleeve. Maybe because, no matter what He's given us, we have always been truly grateful, so He keeps tossing odd things into the mix for us to enjoy. 
   Well, one of the things we learned from the Master Gardener's class is that when a tree is stressed, it goes into survival mode and tries hard to reproduce itself, usually in the form of leaves or blooms out of season. We've begun to nickname our Yum Yum tree, "Twitchy", after one of the more nervous characters in our book, "Space Freighter, First Dock: Neo-Eden". (...yes, we take any opportunity to advertise...forgive us) The poor tree has been tossed around in the winds, been frozen from harder than normal weather, its roots covered over again as it was leaned sideways again from sitting high in the soil, having been planted that way by us, knowing it also hates wet feet. Every other week, whether in the heat of Summer or dead Winter, there's high-strung Twitchy, holding out one or two spindly branches, waving about five or so bright pink flowers into the wind, that we know will never produce fruit...not in those weather conditions, or in the oncoming weeks, either. There have been years when about twenty fruit were fully ripe, but then the birds pounced on them, so we barely got a nibble of Twitchy's yummy Yum Yums. The poor thing seems like it's always stressed about something. But it is trying.
    All the trees and plants in the yard are 'in the same boat', tho'. Nobody else seemed to be complaining, but last Spring a strong thunderstorm blew through our yard just as our Satsuma orange trees were in full bloom. The bees never got a chance to pollinate the gorgeous white flowers, because the wind took off with almost every single petal, scattering them all over the neighborhood. It soon it became obvious that we would have very few, if any of these luscious little oranges come Fall.  
   That was sad, because they are the first oranges to ripen, are so easy to peel, (like a tangerine) and we love going out for a stroll in the yard and eating one or two as we go. What's kind of cute to us, is that often we'll see a few of the rinds along the road, where one of our neighbors, apparently out for a walk, had stopped to pick one and enjoyed it on the spot. That's fine with us because we always share them with the neighbors, anyhow. Often, they'll find a plastic bag of them hanging on their front door knob. Our satsumas are usually an overly abundant crop. 
    Because of the strange winter, too, this year, even our navel oranges suffered somewhat, prematurely rotting and falling to the ground before they were quite 'right'. The thunderstorm hadn't affected their flowers, since it has a later blooming season, but the extra dry weather, followed by extra wet, extra cold, then by extra warm bothered their production. The grapefruit and lemons, thank the Maker, both seemed to do quite well and as a result, we have a bumper crop of both this year.
   We consider ourselves truly blest because of this and in all the joy and juicy-ness of the grapefruits and lemons, we almost forgot about the Satsuma tree way out in the corner of the yard.  The other day on the way home from the store, as we were passing along the street, I noticed a hint of orange in the tree and was amazed to see around a dozen ripening fruit that had survived. This was very unusual, because, here it is March, but harvest time for Satsuma oranges is in the early Fall, months and months ago.  The tree should be in hibernation. What in the world's going on over there? I marched over and had a look. On closer inspection I was very surprised to see what the tree had been up to. It has faithfully given us fruit every year for well over a decade. It had definitely been stressed last Spring and by all accounts, should not been able to give us anything this year. We had given up on it, but fed it its 13-13-13 a few weeks ago. It apparently hadn't given up on us. Come wind or high water, it was going to give us something. Some THINGS is what it gave us, alright. 
It seemed as if the fruit had quit growing, but the skin kept going.  Looking for all the world like some mutant squashy orange mix breed, I was sort of concerned, but I picked them anyway. (see the short video:)
I shared a few with our neighbor and they looked at them kind of skeptically, but said they would try them.  They taste delicious and juicy, just like they always have.
      We thought we had some kind of mutant Satsuma on our hands.  We still think so. It's kind of confusing, but now more so, since Peg was wandering around Whole Foods and was aghast to find this: a whole display of them! And they call them "SUMO" oranges.  

So, our satsuma tree used all that stress, must be in the same way a body builder uses stress and built himself up into a SUMO orange tree. (take note, Twitchy) We wonder what this enterprising tree is going to produce next year. Regular or SUMO sized? Only The True Master Gardener knows, but either way, ORANGE you happy for us?