BLT Pasta Salad

BLT sandwiches, aka bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, are very popular, but then if you are a bacon eater, ANYTHING with bacon is going to be a bit hit.  The BLT is now going to a completely different level, and can be turned into a pasta salad too.  I use bacon and tomatoes for everything anyway, so no news there, but the twist was adding the lettuce to the salad as well.  The lettuce is actually mixed in with all the rest of the ingredients, and not just used as a bed for the salad.  It is an interesting new twist to an old classic.  Larry was more than a bit surprised to see the lettuce was actually mixed into the salad too.  He had a hard time believing it, until he saw it and enjoyed it.  I served this salad as part of our Juneteenth celebration feast.  Celebrating Juneteenth

IMG_3013

IMG_2993

BLT Pasta Salad

IMG_2989

1 lb cooked pasta – elbow, bowtie, shells, etc.

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 TBSP sugar

1/2 red onion, diced fine

1 TBSP garlic

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp dill

salt & pepper to taste

1/4 cup green onions, sliced thin

1 cup tomatoes, medium dice

1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 cups shredded lettuce

 

Combine the pasta, bacon, and vegetables and toss together well.

Then combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and spices.

 

IMG_2992

Mix the pasta and the dressing together, making sure to thoroughly toss everything together well.  This salad is best when served cold.  Chill it in the refrigerator until you are ready to enjoy it.  This is simple and easy to make, and very refreshing on a hot summer’s day.  Top with more bacon and green onions.

IMG_2994

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

 

Nature Walks – Cormorants and Egrets

I just love walking around through “our backyard”.  You just never know who you are going to run into.  Everyday is different and everyday is full of surprise and wonder.  The other day, while out on our “walk-about”, we saw so many familiar faces and friends.  They were all out enjoying the first day of summer.  Nature Walks – The First Day of Summer

Usually I only see one cormorant, but this time, there were two.  They were even on the same lake, although they were definitely social distancing themselves from each other.

Which is my best side?  To the left?

IMG_3047

Or to the right?

IMG_2629

Or looking straight at you?

IMG_3048

Just spreading my wings.

IMG_3101

IMG_3102

IMG_3104

We also saw a few egrets.  Sometimes they like to socialize with each other and sometimes they prefer their solitude.

It’s a bad hair day and something has ruffled my feathers.

IMG_3026

OK.  I’ve regained my composure.  Now I can walk on water again.

IMG_3027

Hiding in the reeds.

IMG_3053

IMG_3054

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

Yak & Yeti

The other night we got together for dinner with friend and fellow blogger, Julia from http://retirementrvdream.wordpress.com/.  Julia and I only live about 30 minutes away from each other.  We met and  became friends when Julia hosted her fun and festive Mardi Gras party, on fat Tuesday, at the end of February.  Two Bloggers Meet  We hit it off really well, and it felt like we had known each for years.  We have been meaning to get together ever since, but as you all know, the world and life was put on hold due to COVID.  But now the world is beginning to open up, it is time to start living life again, and part of that means getting together with friends.

Julia chose a restaurant that is about 1/2 way between both of our houses.  We went to the Yak & Yeti in Arvada.

IMG_3063

IMG_3066

There are four Yak & Yeti restaurants in the Denver Metro area.  This is the Arvada location.  It has been around since 2008.

IMG_3064

Mr. Dol Bhattarai, the owner of Yak in Yeti, has been in the restaurant industry for almost 13 years. Always interested in fine food, he began his culinary career in India. He honed his cooking abilities apprenticing in of the world-class restaurants located in the metropolitan city of Delhi. Not long after, Mr. Bhattarai worked as main Chef in an internationally recognized Indian Restaurant in Dubai.

image004

Coming to the USA and settling in Boulder Colorado, Mr. Bhattarai worked at the Taj Restaurant in Boulder for about five years before launching his own family-flavored restaurant, Yak and Yeti.

Mr. Dol Bhattarai is originally from Syangja village, located in eastern Nepal. This is an area of scenic mountains, fresh air, and natural produce. Generations of Indian and Nepalese influence have made the food Mr. Bhattarai offers tantalizing and tasty for all palates.

The Yak & Yeti specializes in foods from Northern India and Nepal, where “food is an art form that has been passed on from generation to generation, from guru (teacher) to vidhyarthi (pupil).  The cuisine is as rich and diverse as Nepalese & Indian civilization, encompassing a vast scope of traditions and regional variations in taste, color, texture, appearance, and delicacy. The hospitality of Nepalese & Indian people is also legendary. In Sanskrit literature there are three words that form the motto of Nepalese & Indian hospitality: “Atithi Devo Bhava,” meaning “your guest is your god.” Food is the crown of festivals and celebrations, and whatever the occasion, Nepalese & Indians eat with great gusto.”

We all ordered something different, and everything was delicious.

As soon as we ordered our meal, we were served a plate of Indian flat bread with four different sauces.

IMG_3067

 

Then our meals were delivered.  We feasted on Lamb Biryani, Honey Chicken Curry, Lamb Vindaloo, and Tandoori Salmon, along with Basmatic rice, and alu naan and garlic naan bread.  Everything was so good.  Northern Indian food is not nearly as spicy as Southern Indian food, but you can still choose your level of spiciness.

IMG_3068

It seemed like we all ate quite a bit of food, yet by the time we had finished eating, it looked like there was still a lot of food leftover.  Of course we brought it home.  It was too good not to take it home with us.

Julia and Bruce in between courses.

IMG_3069

Bruce knew he wanted dessert before we even ordered, so he saved room for it.  He was the only one who did though.  The rest of us were too full for dessert.  Bruce was waiting for his kheer, which is an Indian rice pudding.

IMG_3071

Once again, we had a very good time and a scrumptious meal.  It’s so good getting together with friends and sharing a meal.

Yak and Yeti Brewpub in Arvada is located at 7803 Ralston Road, Arvada, CO 80002.  Call ahead for reservations at (303) 431-9000 or you can contact them by email at yakandyetiarvada@gmail.com or online at http://www.TheYakAndYeti.com.  

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

 

Nature Walks – Colorful Flowers All Around

It was pretty cool when we first started our walk, so we took a long walk.  By the time we got home, we were all hot and tired.  The clouds had burned off, which made it quite a bit warmer.  Today, there were not as many critters out and about, but there were a lot of colorful flowers.  Some of these flowers are wild flowers and some are from the neighboring gardens.

The Whites

IMG_2814

These are my daisies, in my front yard.

IMG_3112

 

The Orange and Yellows

IMG_3091

 

IMG_3049

IMG_3080

IMG_3110

IMG_3109

IMG_3023

IMG_3094

The Red and Pinks

IMG_3084

IMG_3086

IMG_3060

 

IMG_3090

IMG_3093

I just love flowers.  They always brighten up even the gloomiest of days.  Even the weeds can be pretty.  If you are willing to open your eyes and actually see what’s around you, you can find beauty in everything.

Stay sand stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

More Food From our Juneteenth Celebration

Our Juneteenth celebration was a feast of what I like to call Southern tapas.  Celebrating Juneteenth  The dishes I prepared were all small dishes and mostly finger foods.  But as we all know, and a concept I am VERY familiar with, a lot of small things can easily add up to a lot.

The little smokies wrapped in puff pastry were super easy to make, only required a few simple ingredients and were a HUGE hit.  If you are so inclined, you can definitely make your own puff pastry, but that is a lot of work.  I’ve done it, but most of the time, I just don’t have that kind of time, so I buy the pre-made puff pastry, which works just as well.  These little snacks are perfect for any occasion.

Smokies Wrapped in Puff Pastry

IMG_2995

I package puff pastry, completely thawed

24 mini smoked sausages or smokies

egg wash

poppy seeds and/or toasted sesame seeds

honey mustard sauce for dipping

 

Cut the puff pastry into 24 equal squares.  Place a smokie in the center of each square or at an angle at one of the corners.  Fold the dough around the smokie and wrap like a burrito.

IMG_2996

IMG_2997

Preheat oven to 400* F or 200* C.

Brush the wrapped pastries with egg wash, and tightly pinch the seams together so they don’t unfold.  Sprinkle the top of the pastries with either toasted sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds.

IMG_2998

Pop them in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.  Serve immediately.  These are best when served hot with some honey mustard sauce on the side for dipping.  I made my own honey mustard sauce with honey, Dijon mustard, and then I added a dash of my Sweet Heat Mustard as well. Bread and Jam

IMG_3011

These are light and and flaky and taste of so good.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – The First Day of Summer

It is a beautiful day out in the neighborhood. It is warm, but not too terribly hot.  We saw so many beautiful things today.  All the flowers were in bloom.  We saw turtles, herons, egrets, the goslings that are almost all grown up now, cormorants, prairie dogs, and yes, even another large snake.  Larry asked if I wanted a picture of the snake, and I said nope.  The one I have is more than enough, thank you, and I did not even take that picture.  I had to google it.

All the cacti were in bloom too.

IMG_3025

The goslings are almost as big as their parents now, and have lost all of their baby feathers.  They grow up so quickly.

IMG_3020

He’s walking on water.

IMG_3027

What’s your sign?

IMG_3019

Just looking around.

IMG_3042

Stranded on the island in the lake.

IMG_3035

Hangin’ out on the rock.

IMG_3056

Is this my best side?

IMG_3047

Even though there were two herons that flew right over me, I could not get them.  This is the best shot I could get of the heron today.

IMG_3039

Daddy, I’m hot.  I’m thirsty.  Can I have some water please?

IMG_3030

I took a lot of pictures today.  There are plenty more to come your way.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

Celebrating Juneteenth

Most people are completely unaware of Juneteenth and its significance in American history.  But to people from the south, particularly Texas, and, most particularly people of color from the south or from Texas, it is a very important day in history.  In Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger, from the Union Army announced the Federal orders proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were free.  This was 2 1/2 years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

Freedom Day: What the Juneteenth flag symbolizes - CNN

The Importance Of Celebrating 150 Years of Juneteenth (With images ...

As you know, my mother was from Texas, so I grew up learning and knowing about the importance of Juneteenth.  In honor of the day, we had our friends Jonathon and Priscilla over and celebrated the day by watching a documentary about the importance of the day.  And of course you know I celebrated with plenty of food as well.  I made an array of simple Southern foods just for the occasion.

I made deviled eggs, a BLT pasta salad, browned butter lima beans and ham, little smokies wrapped in puff pastry and shrimp beignets.

IMG_3013

Priscilla made some delicious lemon cookies and added fresh strawberries and cream.

IMG_3015

We feasted first, then watched the movie.

When most people think of beignets, they think of them as sweet, donut-like fried pastries.  And they would be right in thinking this too, however, beignets have come a long way, and are not just sweet treats any more.  I made them with shrimp and peppers, thus making them savory instead of sweet.  They were delicately light and crispy. It was hard to stop at just one.

Shrimp and Pepper Beignets

IMG_2999

2 TBSP butter or bacon grease

1/3 cup green onions, sliced thin

1/2 red bell pepper, diced small

1/2 red onion, diced fine

1 jalapeno, diced fine

2 TBSP garlic

1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into small pieces

2 TBSP Cajun or Creole seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 1/2 cups Bisquick

1/2 cup warm beer

canola or vegetable oil for frying

 

Instead of butter, I used some leftover bacon grease from when I made the bacon for my BLT pasta salad, to saute the shrimp, peppers, onions, garlic and seasinings.

IMG_3001

Let the shrimp mixture cool a bit while you make the dough.

Mix the Bisquick and cheese together thoroughly, then add the beer and knead it all together to make a soft dough.  I find it is better to use your hands.  Any kind of beer will do.  As with anything, changing the beers around will also enhance the flavor of the beignets slightly too.  This will be a very soft dough.  Do not over mix it or it will become tough, which will make them a lot less flaky and delicate too.

IMG_3002

IMG_3003

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle, about 1/4- 1/2 inch in thickness.  Then cut the dough into about 4 inch squares.  You will have enough dough for about 12 beignets.

Place about 1-2 TBSP of shrimp filling in the center of the squares, making sure not to over fill them.   Then bring the corners together, making a triangle.  Firmly press the edges together, then press with a fork to seal the seams.  I have to admit, I love stuff in my stuff, so I often over fill things, which makes them difficult to work with later.  Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour before frying them up.  Serve immediately after cooking them.  These are best served hot.

IMG_3004

IMG_3005

When you are ready to cook the beignets, fill a deep skillet with enough cooking oil to cover the surface of the beignets.  Bring the oil to 350*F or 180* C.  (DO NOT USE OLIVE OIL.  The smoke point of olive oil is much lower than either vegetable, safflower or canola oil and will burn).  Carefully place the beingets in the hot oil, adding only a few at a time.  Cook them until they are golden brown and crispy.  Remove them from the oil and place them on a paper towel to extract some of the grease.  Repeat until they are all cooked.

IMG_3012

IMG_3014

These beignets are so light and crispy.  They literally just melt in your mouth.  You won’t be able to stop at just one.  Go ahead.  I dare you.  🙂

Stay safe and stay well everyone. ‘Til next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going North to Toronto, Eh – Part 2 – Poutine

The second part of our Toronto tour was Larry’s impromptu version of the Canadian dish poutine.  Going North to Toronto, Eh – Part 1

Poutine is a Canadian dish that was first created in the small rural town of Warwick in Quebec, in the 1957.  It is French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds.  Legend has it that a customer in a local restaurant had asked for a mixture of these ingredients, but because he was in a hurry, he had them all thrown together in one bag.  When he looked in the bag,  he said “This is a ‘poutine,’” using the joual—or Québécois slang—for a “mess.”  The name poutine stuck and has been used ever since.  This dish even found its way across the Southern Border to the United States, to New Jersey.  In New Jersey, however, they make it with Mozzarella cheese sticks instead of cheese curds and call them Disco Fries.Poutine Recipe | Chuck Hughes | Food Network

I am NOT a cheese fan, nor am I am big gravy fan, plus I am already fat enough and I don’t need to waste my calories on something that I don’t like 2 out of the 3 main ingredients. This one was all for Larry.

We did not have cheese curds and Larry did not want me to make gravy just for him, just for this dish, so he improvised.  He used some leftover mystery sauce we had and added cheddar cheese to it, then added all of this on top of his fries.

IMG_2987

If poutine is your thing, then you will like this, but it is definitely NOT my thing.  To each his/her own.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

Going North to Toronto, Eh – Part 1

Larry finished another puzzle.  This one was the skyline of Toronto.  Since he did this puzzle all by himself again, he chose the dinner.  He had already picked out his Canadian meal too.  He wanted pealmeal bacon and poutine.

Toronto

Canadians know peameal bacon as an iconic national breakfast food, but the back bacon’s backstory is even richer than its flavor. In fact, the story of peameal bacon is tied to several important themes of the last two centuries: the rise and fall of the British Empire, emigration and immigration, and the development of modern agriculture. But more than anything, the history of peameal is a salty tale of how Hogtown got its name, not to mention its most iconic sandwich.

Pealmeal bacon is a center loin pork loin cured in brine then rolled in cornmeal.  It is a traditional Canadian dish, that is specifically from Ontario.  We could not find anything specially from Toronto, so this would have to do for our puzzle and a meal series.  Pealmeal bacon is more like ham, when compared to smoked back bacon or side bacon. The cooked slices have been described as resembling small pork cutlets. It is eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, served in slices or as an ingredient in a pork dish.  The name “peameal bacon” derives from the historic practice of rolling the cured and trimmed boneless loin in dried and ground yellow peas to extend shelf life. Since the end of World War I, it has been rolled in ground yellow cornmeal instead of the yellow peas though.

Larry made the brine for the pealmeal bacon and let it marinate for about 2-3 days before we cooked it up.

Brine for Pealmeal Bacon

IMG_2936

2 cups water

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup Kosher salt

1 TBSP garlic

2 TBSP sugar

2 TBSP Tabasco or other red pepper sauce

2 TBSP mustard seed or ground mustard

1 TBSP celery salt or celery seeds

pepper to taste

2 lbs pork loin

cornmeal

 

Mix all the ingredients together in a sauce pan except for the pork and cornmeal.  Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add ice cubes to the mixture then pour into a plastic bag and add the pork loin.  Let it marinate in the refrigerator anywhere from 3 days – 2 weeks before cooking.

When you are ready to cook the pork, pat it dry with a paper towel.

IMG_2980

Completely coat the pork in cornmeal.  We used pork chops rather than pork loin, but it is the same concept.

IMG_2981

You can either pan fry it or roast it.  I pan fried it this time, which made it nice and tender on the inside and crusty on the outside.

IMG_2985

Once the pealmeal bacon is completely cooked, slice it up and serve it however you like.  In Canada, this is most often served as a sandwich.  I too made it into a sandwich, but I served it on some pita bread with some lettuce and tomatoes.

IMG_2986

Larry also wanted poutine to go with his pealmeal bacon sandwich.  I opted for just plain French fries.  Sorry to all my Canadian friends, but poutine just sounds absolutely disgusting to me.  (More on poutine later).

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

To My Daddy

Father’s Day is just around the corner.  People all over the world are celebrating their fathers in many different ways.  For many people, especially little girls, their daddy is their first love.  I know my daddy certainly was and still is.  If he were still with us today, he would be 95.  But sadly he passed away at 82, in 2007.  I miss you and love you Daddy.  I will always be your little girl.

Many of you might know, my dad immigrated to the United States after WWII from Australia.  He lived in the United States ever since, mostly in Pasadena, California, for the rest of his life.

My dad in Melbourne, Australia in the mid 1930’s.  Like Paul Newman, my dad was always complimented for his beautiful blue eyes.  Daddy would have been about 12 or 13 here.

Young Daddy - 2

At 14, Daddy ran away from home, lied about his age, said he was 16, and joined the Australian Army.  He fought in North Africa in WWII.  This was in 1939, in Melbourne, right before being deployed.

Daddy

The St. Kilda Boys.  St. Kilda has always been a rough part of Melbourne.  And now you can see why.  This motley crew gathering together during a break from the war.  I don’t know why my dad was not in his uniform at this time, like his mates were.  More than likely, he was being the rebel that he was was always known to be.  The gentleman to my dad’s left, in the Air Force uniform, was my dad’s best mate.  Even though after WWII, they were separated by 1/2 a world, they never broke their brotherly bond.  They were best mates their whole entire lives; probably still are too.

The St Kilda Boys 1942

After WWII, Daddy took to the sea.  This was the first of his many seaman’s ID pictures.  He was in the Merchant Marines, often doing military sealift commands, for the rest of his career.  He loved the sea.  It was his calling.

Young Daddy - 1

Before settling in Pasadena, Daddy was a vagabond, and tried living in various others parts of the US.  I believe this was in New York, shortly after WWII, but I really can’t say for sure where or when it was.The MobDaddy’s travels took him to Texas, where he met my mother.  They stayed there for a few years, but the shipping was better in California, so they packed up and went to the Golden State, where they lived out the rest of their years.  Plus my dad and my grandfather never got along.  When my mom announced they were getting married my grandfather’s response was ” Why do have to go an’ marry a damn ferirner?”.  They were off to California.

Port Arthur Texas, where my mother was from, around 1950, right after they got married

Young Daddy - 4

Living’ the good life out in California, mid 1950’s.

Young Daddy - 7

Young Daddy - 6

Mom and dad were married 14 years before I came along.  It was just the three of us, plus all our fur babies, from that point on.  This was in our backyard with most of our menagerie.

Old Family Photos

Daddy loved the sea.  He sailed around the world many times over.  The sea was a part of him.  His last big sail was a cruise up and down the California coastline that we did together.  I bought him a trip on an old fashioned Cutter ship replica.  You can tell by his big smile that he was loving every minute of it.

IMG_2747

All grown up, and living in Colorado.  We would bring my dad out to stay with us all the time.

Daddy and the Dogs

Daddy walking me down the aisle on my wedding day in 2003.

Walking Me Down the Aisle

Our Daddy/Daughter dance.

Daddy Daughter Dance

Mr. Cool.

Mr. Cool

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

 

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.