Monday, August 31, 2009

You Say Tomato

So we have about 8 tomatoes on our 3 mail-ordered tomato plants. That is about 5 more than we got on our 3 tomato plans last year which is thrilling. Also that the tomato plants struggled terribly with the nasty weather this summer, we are THRILLED. Even if they don’t turn red, even if they don’t taste good, even if the bunnies get to them before we do, I am very proud of our gardening capabilities. Despite the peppers and eggplants not doing anything, we were successful with carrots, peas, broccoli, lettuce and tomatoes. We’re working on the zucchinis. Still hoping the bunnies stay away so we can get the flowers to make a vegetable, but we’ll see.

Other news on the homefront, the HD is working on our new fancy tv and the work has begun on our bathroom. The popcorn ceiling is no longer. WHOO HOO!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

BIG TV

So we’re finally moving into the new age of electronics. We’ve discussed, at length the idea of getting a new tv. We talked about getting one with our wedding money and mounting it on the wall but we both were very nervous about the wall mount. And after we moved into our house we realized we didn’t want a tv in that location anyway. So two years later and after truly appreciating many other peoples’ big, clear, hi def tvs, we got one. And it’s big (for us) 42 inches of pure plasma tv. Just in time for football and play off season (will the Sox even make it this year?) Oh yeah, check us out!

Now, the excitement of getting the TV was dampered a little bit by not fitting in my car. But after some seat moving and finagling and a promise from the sales guy it's safe and secure I drove very slowly and carefully home. We cleared a path into our house, it carefully was lifted from the box onto the stand and we sat down to see how it looked. Boy, it looks great. Then we started plugging things in and turning it on... nothing happened. For a while it was black screen. Then it was scanning for channels. Then it was snowy and scanning for channels. With Dave's deafening silence interrupted with a FUCK here and there, it makes for a bit more disappointment. I offered to take a shot at it and he didn't reply so I snuck upstairs to avoid all of that.

A few minutes later he comes upstairs and quietly asks me to get the number for the cable company, he has been on the phone with them 3 times. We've finally found some channels but they are def not in hi-def (ha ha, get it, def not in hi def?). In fact, the picture might have been clearer on my old 27 inch chubby tv. Cable company thinks the problem is a defective box (since TV and HDMI cable are brand spanking new). Dave is concerned it's something with the cable company (hence another call to them). They are generally quite helpful so hopefully they'll figure out what's wrong. What a bummer to have to wait 2 more days (after 2 years of waiting to finally get the stinking tv) to see this glorious picture.

Next on our list is a new computer with wireless Internet. oohhH! Very exciting, I know! Maybe we'll hire someone or bribe Jim to come down and set it up for us.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The bathroom

So, we're getting our bathroom re-done. I hope the worker will begin on Monday. He will remove the popcorn ceiling, paint the ceiling and walls, install the vanity, new light fixtures and mirror, curtain rod and all other extra items and we’ll decorate with this shower curtain and accessories.
Now the only thing left to do is dress up the window and find a Hawaii themed photo frame to put the pictures of Dave and I surfing. Since the whole process of choosing the items for the bathroom has been amazingly easy, I’m sure the search for this minor accessory will either take months OR result in various arguments… maybe we should just bag the idea instead. J my surfing pictures aren’t very cute anyway!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Late Summer Harvest

So I haven't been neglecting the garden, but with the strange summer weather we had in June and July (cool temps and heavy rains- including a tornado) some of our plants just didn't take. The peppers (jalapenos and bells) and eggplants were duds. The day after I put them outside, the temps got cold and I think it just stunted them. Some of our tomatoes are working but one died. We enjoyed some incredibly spicy lettuce early summer and are looking forward to some autumnal lettuce too.
Our carrots, onions, broccoli and sugar snap peas have been our edibles. The peas have been fun and exciting to watch (and eat). The broccoli grew really tall with one head and then the secondary shoots popped off too! Overall it's been a little fun and exciting as well as disappointing. But, we'll do it again next year since this years weather has not been ideal. So here are our short stubby carrots. They aren't as orange as I expected, but maybe I yanked them too early?
We also harvested some blackberries. Now don't be confused, you're right, I never mentioned PLANTING these berries. But remember those pesky, thorny, suffocating-my-lovely-garden weeds? The ones that I have to go out and hunt for at various times during the summer b/c otherwise they will take over that area of the garden? Yeah, well those are wild blackberry bushes. Apparently I missed this bush when I was hunting. It is on the outer side of our garden and when we finally discovered it we decided to wait and see what berry it produced. These are quite tart/sour, but might make great muffins!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oh Tom

Everyone knows about my lust for Tom Brady. He’s sexy, strong, powerful, sweet and golden. In short, I love him. He was my boyfriend for a long while until he married that hideous beast named Giselle. He is a funny guy, he’s a football icon and so sexy. He does some modeling, but the modeling he does and the endorsements he chooses are unique- like Stetson cologne. Stetson? Come on Tom. The cologne you can buy at the drug store? Oh Tom. You would think Giselle would put a stop to that. She seems to have some good business people surrounding her considering she makes more than he does each year. But I digress…

So this week Tom was on Entourage on HBO. Entourage is a good show. I’m not sure what I like about it, but it’s a great way to spend 20 – 30 minutes each week. I was excited to see my ex-boyfriend’s HBO debut. And sadly, I was disappointed. He looked uncomfortable, distracted and somewhat unhappy to be there. The only time he had the slightest (and I mean SLIGHTEST) hint of movie-star quality is when he talked about Giselle… oh Tommy, you can do better than that! You are a hunk! Give it a little try! Put some emotion and emphasis in your voice. Show me your glowing smile. Move a little.
And why is he wearing a sweater? It’s LA. He looks kind of dork-ish… in a golden sexy sort of way! Oh I’m disappointed…

Here’s the weird thing, I found this picture online… now THIS is a show with Tom I could watch! We can see some skin, imagine him working hard, getting sweaty in a field of tall grass… where can I see THIS episode? Did they photo-shop him into this picture? God he’s hot… and why is he holding a goat?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

*Restaurant Review* Cherry Pockets Restaurant- Polk County, FL

After a business trip to Tampa (read: Red Sox game with clients) I drove to my parents house to spend some time with them. It's always interesting to visit them in Florida, especially with what we end up eating. Sometimes they attempt something a little bit crazy, like the delicious grilled romaine salad with bacon/bleu cheese vinaigrette, or sometimes we fire up the smoker and smoke a bunch of fish, poultry and meet and other times we do some of my favorites (ham). Rarely we go out to eat considering it's Kissimmee, Florida which means it is rare to find a successful restaurant that isn't a chain - because I don't do chain restaurants.

Surprisingly my parents suggest we go out to eat this trip. I think- ok, where are we going? They've talked about this Cherry Pockets place a few times. They mention it is a fish camp- whatever that means. The first time they went they had a great meal and great service. The second time they went the service was poor. So ok, we'll give it another try. Armed with directions we head out to Cherry Pockets. My parents warn me it's out in the middle of no where but let's be honest, my parents LIVE out in the middle of no where.

So we head out and we turn a direction I've never gone. Everything is always - go out to the main road (about 10 minutes) and then turn right. Before we even get to the main road we turn left. I mention to them, 'I've never been this way' and they remind me 'this place is out in the middle of no where'. So we drive along looking for the signs for the roads the directions tell us. We head down some roads, along some old farms (cows out in the pasture) and then along a road that looks new and larger homes. The next turn is the driveway for the Cherry Pockets fish camp. We know this because we see this (minus the two people):
I giggled thinking of this place as a 'resort' but think to myself- this is Florida, let's check this place out. So we drive into the resort and come upon a bunch of mobile homes that are not in the best of shapes. Some have rips in the screens, some have old beat up cars - I saw a Chevrolet Chevrette (circa 1980) and this place was in dire need of some weed wacking. But, I think to myself, this is Florida, my parents have eaten here before so suck it up Yankee and give this place a try. So I swallow my comments and my concerns and we park and walk out to the restaurant. So we walk up to this place and it backs up to, what appears to be, a swamp. There are boats in the swamp along with some typical Florida swamp grass and that's when the bell goes off in my head- OH, people come to fish here! It's a FISH CAMP. Oh yes, I get it now.

Sidenote: I confess, I have a fear of alligators. My parents have a little ditch in their yard out by the street (like many Florida homes do) and whenever I walk around their neighborhood I am very fearful of encountering an alligator in the ditch. I keep my eyes peeled for those little lizards that scurry all over Florida too. Those don't necessarily scare me but they do startle me enough to let a little shriek slip out and a small jump to the side. Ok, now back to the restaurant.

So as we turn to enter this single story building which looks slightly unsturdy I'm trying to figure out if this is just a kitchy little place the is designed to look as though it's out in the sticks and kind of beaten up or if it really is just a beaten up little place. As we head in, I mention I need to use the restroom. My dad stops as we're walking toward the entry and points his cane across the way and says 'it's up that hill'. I look over at a latrine like building. And I think- oh lordie, what kind of place is this? My parents mentioned 'climbing the hill' but I didn't believe them. They were right, it's a small hill, because it's Florida and there are no real hills in Florida, and I gather up some courage and head over to the latrines. As I walk up the ramp to the ladies side, I encounter one of those damn lizards who nearly scares the _ _ _ out of me! I giggle to myself and open the door. Ah, at least there is running water! And I check around on the floor and walls for any other lizards and see none. So I take a deep breath and use the bathroom, wash my hands with running water and soap and get the heck out of there. So I head over to the entrance of the restaurant:



And when I walk in, I find an actual, clean, bustling, yummy smelling dining room. The hostess greeted me with a smile and a Florida-southern accent and directed me to my parents. We order our drinks which come quickly, our waitress is patient with my delay in deciding what to eat and my questions (why are crab and grouper spelled 'krab' and 'grooper'? Because they are imitation grouper and imitation crab). So I decide I'm not going to order imitation krab or grooper but other than that, I can't decide if I want a steak, fried chicken with a Parmesan sauce, shrimp fettuccine or a crab (with a 'c') cake sandwich. I ask the patient and polite waitress which she suggests but unfortunately she didn't eat seafood, chicken or beef. So we ask someone else who recommends the crab cake sandwich. I was leaning toward that option anyway, because it had a hush puppy (who doesn't love fried cornbread?). I was too chicken to try to frogs legs or the alligator but was thrilled to see them on a menu. My dad ordered the blackened rib eye which comes on dirty rice served with a salad. My mom ordered the seafood medley fettuccine (which included krab, grooper, shrimp and oysters).

So the waitress brings over salads for my parents and a loaf of brown bread. The bread is a small loaf, dark brown and absolutely delicious! The bread is soft with a very slight crust which makes it easy to cut and is so yummy! It is served with a seasoned butter which is a nice flair. The salads have a lovely sweet tangy dressing. I think it was raspberry vinaigrette. The salad tasted fresh and cold, but not like it was sitting around in the fridge for a day or two. It was a simple salad and while I'm not exactly sure, the dressing tasted homemade. I was impressed with this place sofar.

There was a lull in between me scarfing down my dad's salad and our main meals to fully appreciate in interior of this place. And it was fun. There was a fish tank that had a big fish in it with a sign that said 'Please do not feed me, if I'm hungry I'll bite. Oscar' There was a shelf with kitchy things on it lined with various southern license plates. There were t-shirts and tank tops for sale that said 'I climbed the hill at Cherry Pockets'. Meaning- they used the latrines. Very cute, I thought. And there was a bar and outdoor seating area attached to the restaurant with some live (and very good) music playing. Many diners seemed to head outdoors after finishing their meals to enjoy the surprisingly lovely night and the really great music. My parents also mentioned, though we didn't see if it's true, that if you go out to the docks and jump up and down an alligator will come right up to the docks. In hindsight I should have gone out there.

So our meals come and everything smelled really good! My crabcake is about 1.5 inches tall, sitting on a lovely soft roll smothered with a seeded mustard served with french fries and the hush puppy. The crabcake had a nice crust on it and when I bit into it I was surprised at the flavor and texture of the crabcake. The texture was soft and light while the flavor was bold and strong. There wasn't too much crab-flavor. You could taste crab in there, but the stuffing was sweet and salty and just tasted really great with the mustard sauce and the sweet roll. The hush puppy lived up to my expectations and the fries were just ok- they seemed to have a batter on them which some might like but I wasn't thrilled about.

My Dad's steak was great. The blackening wasn't what I expected (or what he expected) but was still quite delicious. There was a white sauce on it too. The dirty rice was delicious! It had so much pepper (green and black) flavor to it, it was quite surprising. The rice itself was fluffy and well cooked. My mom's dish had some great flavor to it. The noodles were a tad overcooked for me but the sauce seemed to coat all the noodles very well. The imitation fish was a little off putting. The shrimp were great (my bite had shrimp and noodles) but she seemed a bit disappointed by how much imitation fish there was in the plate. In hindsight she said she would have ordered the shrimp fettuccine. After we were all stuffed, the waitress asked if we wanted desserts. We all were full but curiosity got the best of me (if there was something I just HAD to have, we could always take it home with us, right?) So our waitress tells us all the desserts are hand made by the owner. And there were probably 6-7 different options. After we listened and looked at each other we decided to skip the dessert because we couldn't decide which one to order which made me think we didn't want (or need) the dessert. Sadly we declined the dessert.

This place is funny. If you live in the area, you absolutely should check it out! The place is surprising, don't be put-off by the exterior of this place or the tattoos on the wait staff. They are all lovely and friendly and the food was very good. I was thrilled to turn my parents back on to this restaurant since it isn't a chain and the food was good. I would give this place 2.5 stars. Somewhere to definitely go. This is not a date place, this would be a great family joint or a fun place that is WAY off the tourist path and worth it for the laughs of what it looks like, the location of the bathroom and the really good food. I recommend checking this place out.

ps- to all my parents friends who read my blog. Thank you. Funny that you might read it more than they do! I hope you enjoyed this restaurant review. Thank you for recommending this restaurant to my parents.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fiber One Honey Clusters and Mangos

I recently saw a commercial for this cereal (which was very funny, by the way) so I thought I’d give it a try. I haven’t had cereal in a long time and this promised to taste like brown sugar and honey clusters. Really, what more could a girl want? I have to say, while this cereal does LOOK like sawdust and is rather unappealing the flavor of it is shocking! The little flakes are so brown sugary and the little sawdust clusters really do taste honey-like. It’s funny how unappealing the cereal looks but it is really delicious!



And just last night I had another first. I cooked with a mango. I’ve had mango in the past and it always seems to taste soapy. I was afraid the mangos I chose were too soft, but since I was using them that evening, I took the chance. These bright orange meat fruits were so juicy and sweet I could hardly take it. I struggled a bit with how to get the core out (what the heck does the core look like anyway?) and then just cut it like I would an avocado. So with the chopped mango, I made Mango Rice Salad with Grilled Shrimp. The rice salad was YUMMY and beautiful! It had rice, mango, red peppers, shredded carrots, green onions and lime juice. It tasted so fresh and sweet. The shrimps (and chicken) were marinated in a curry paste. They tasted good too but the paste was a little too much. I think next time I’ll just sprinkle some curry, cumin, red pepper and ginger onto the skewers rather than marinating them. But the spice and the sweet salad was lovely. Here is the full recipe. Enjoy!

Mango Rice Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Randy Mayor


Yield 6 servings (serving size: 2 skewers and about 1 cup salad)
Ingredients
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 36 shrimp)
2 cups water
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1 1/4 cups uncooked long-grain rice
3/4 cup shredded carrot
2 cups diced peeled mango (about 2 mangoes)
1 1/2 cups diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Preparation
Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Bring water and coconut milk to a boil in a medium saucepan; add rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Add carrot and next 7 ingredients (through salt); toss gently to combine.

Prepare grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Thread 3 shrimp onto each of 12 (6-inch) skewers. Place skewers on grill rack or grill pan coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done. Serve skewers over salad. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.