The Meat Box from Misfits Market arrived. Come see what I got!
Hi again, Dear Readers:
I said I was going to do it, and I did–I ordered a box of mostly meat from Misfits Market. BF was rather pleased, and we’ve got a little more stashed in the freezer. In this post, I’ll open the box and show you what I received.
Blast from the Past
The other night, BF went somewhere, and I was flipping channels on the big TV. We actually have access to two, and sometimes three, sets of PBS stations locally. Generally, they have much the same thing. This evening, I happened to catch an old episode of Baking with Julia. Guess who was the guest? None other than Martha Stewart.
Let me point out that this is Martha Stewart from back in the day, like the late 1980s. It’s not the current Martha Stewart that hangs out with Snoop Dogg.
Julia Child herself passed away in 2004. When this was filmed, Julia was all over public television, and Martha Stewart was best known as a caterer in Westport, CT, a few years after her first book, Entertaining.This show was likely filmed around the time of her original Weddings book.
In the show, Martha Bakes a beautiful three-layer wedding cake with apricot filling and a crisp dacquoise center. The wedding cake episode is in two parts because the cake takes quite some time to bake and construct. Martha baked the cake in the first show, along with the dacquoise, and made the buttercream icing. That’s what they’re doing in the picture above. The finishing and decorating with marzipan fruits are completed in the second show. I came in about halfway through the first episode.
I don’t know where to find the recipe she made, but you can see the second half of the show in this video on YouTube. Although there is no wedding cake in my future, it certainly was interesting to watch from an artistic standpoint.
Buddy, the weird little dog, is growing quite quickly. If you don’t believe me, look at this picture from his first day here:
Now, look at the size of his paw. This picture was taken just a couple of days ago.
He’s learning to bark and frequently has barking fits for no reason. The cat has let Buddy know he’s not the favorite. The pit bull frequently needs more breaks from being around this hyperactive puppy, even though he’s a little bigger than Spencer now. And if we’re not careful, Buddy likes to use the pit bull as a chew toy. Poor thing has teeth marks in a few spots.
And the cat doesn’t care about anything else but himself.
Speaking Of The Cat
Over the weekend I went shopping in Hammond. I know, it’s just Hammond, but it’s what we’ve got here. I made it to Hobby Lobby first, then to the Target for some provisions I normally buy there.
One thing I prefer to buy at Target is the Fancy Feast cat food for Tab E. Cat, because they have a wider range of flavors for our resident apex predator. The big-name brands aren’t particularly healthy, I’ve found, and even vet’s offices use FF. Except for this past weekend, there wasn’t any:
And that wasn’t the only food they were out of this time:
So, I had to get something else in cans, and Tab E. Cat isn’t liking it much.
Tractor Supply is also experiencing similar shortages, as well as our local Winn-Dixie. I’ve bought some of Tractor Supply’s brand of canned cat food, but even that’s kind of scarce, too. I’ve seen comments on Facebook about shortages of cat food all over the US, and it’s particularly concerning for shelters. Fingers crossed that this will soon resolve and it doesn’t spread too far.
The Meat Box
So this past Saturday, my second order from Misfits Market arrived:
I was a little concerned because the box did not appear to be completely taped shut.
Thankfully, it wasn’t a big deal. I was also concerned because the box didn’t feel cold. This is particularly worrying because I ordered meat in a “cold pack.” But that also was not a big deal. Let me show you why.
Opening it carefully, I saw much the same thing I saw in the previous box:
But that’s not the only cold pack.
Once I lifted off the cardboard, I saw why it wasn’t a big deal. Inside the box was a Thermal lined foil pouch:
That’s where all the meat was. Much like a mailing envelope, it was sealed shut with a sticky flap:
Inside were more cold packs keeping the meat cold:
Two go into this envelope:
And some of it was still frozen! Once I removed the meat and ice packs, I could see that the package was also insulated:
Now we have more ice packs, which we will keep in the big freezer for the occasional power outages. But you can recycle them:
Everything arrived in good shape.
The Other Stuff
Of course, I ordered another bag of sugar snap peas.
I washed them, dried them, drizzled on a tiny amount of sesame oil,and sprinkled in a tiny bit of salt. Tossed them around and enjoyed them immensely, because that’s the most delicious way to eat them. If you have black sesame seeds, toss in a few with the oil and salt.
I also ordered a bag of those tiny bell peppers, which are sweet and great for snacking.
BF, of course, likes neither of these things.
From the Pantry section, I ordered another bag of Xanthan Gum, which was nearly 50% off:
And no, it’s not past its sell-by date, either.
Good to know. I use this in some of my alternative baking projects like the ones in the Babycakes books.
OK, so, to have a good round of protein, I got some of BF’s favorites—pork chops:
Bacon ends, cost, $4.99:
Our next stirfry is in the freezer (no, not the dog, that’s sarcasm):
This is where the meat comes from:
Two pounds of grass-fed ground beef, destined for the freezer, but I don’t have a picture of, along with a couple of sirloin steaks:
Read the next section for more on these. This is the entire contents of the box:
This was $67. . .I don’t know if it was a bargain or not, but the website said I saved $27.
The Little Steaks
Now, when we get steaks on occasion, they usually look something like this:
But these little grass-fed models are smaller than that:
These two steaks were $9.99, which I thought was pretty nice. (They’ve since sold out.) Not exactly Texas-sized, are they? But don’t be fooled.
Originally, I intended to make them for dinner on Saturday evening when the package arrived. However, BF’s sister came to town, so there was no cooking that night. I mentioned them to BF last night. After a couple of jokes, he said, “Why don’t you have the little snack-sized steaks for lunch tomorrow?” Really, the packages aren’t that big, so the steaks can’t be terribly large, right?
Until I cut the packages open, unfurled them, and discovered that six ounces of grass-fed sirloin is a good six-ounce steak:
So, I texted that picture to BF and asked if he’d like to have steak and mashed potatoes for dinner. He was quite happy to see that, and said “yes.” I stashed them in a food storage dish and put them back into the fridge.
BF was impressed with the meat we got this time. The rest, not so much, but that’s OK. There’s probably going to be another order soon if I can pin him down in front of the laptop to look and see what’s available.
Order As Much As You Want
I should point out that I ordered two sirloin steaks because that’s what I wanted. Remember, this was the first time ordering meat from Misfits Market. In a future shipment, I can order six, if I want that many (assuming they have some.) Stash four in the freezer and keep two in the fridge for dinner. The pork chops are a package of two, so that’s a dinner for us as well, and I can re-order those if I want.
But I could just as easily order more—or less—than that if I wanted. If BF decided he wanted me to stock the freezer a little more, we could order more of the steak, bacon, pork chops, or any of Misfit Market’s chicken selections. Of course, the same rule applies to the $30 minimum for the cold pack, and a $30 minimum overall for the order. This last order was about $67, and I didn’t have any promo codes.
The shipment is totally customizable for the single person all the way to families. For instance, Neighbor E or The GER might order just enough meat and things for a week, whereas someone with a family of four (or more) would probably order a larger amount for a week of meals. It’s what you want, how much of it you want, and paying for it, just like your local grocery store. But with Misfits Market, you’re buying food in a more direct fashion than grocery shopping while helping the supply chain and cutting down on wasted and discarded food.
I’m guessing they’ve done well during the last couple of years.
We’re talking about another box, and we’ll decide on Tuesday if we want to order again, or skip until next week.
Coming Soon To HeatCageKitchen
Well, actually, I don’t know what’s coming up just yet. But I’m working on these things. I have a couple of topics in the pipeline. But of course, I’m always open to researching and discussing anything you’re interested in, too.
If you’re considering ordering from Misfits Market, you can use my promo code: COOKWME-GK3IAXCZOGR for a discount on your first shipment. Just remember that it’s an auto-ship subscription, and you must manually cancel weekly if you don’t want a box.
Meantime, it’s officially spring, and time for me to quit making and wearing sweaters all the time. But Walmart keeps bringing in these incredible cut bundles that are just the right yardage for sweaters. . .I’ll try.
Misfits Market is another player in the online grocery game, with a twist. The company partners with farmers and food producers to get potentially wasted organic produce, meats, and other sustainably sourced grocery items right to your front door at a discount. Do they deliver on that promise? I ordered my first box recently. (NOTE: this is NOT a sponsored post.)
Hi, again, Dear Readers:
After last week’s blog post on soup—which I sent to two potential clients because it was SEO-optimized—I thought about the next blog. I do that a lot, and sometimes it gets away from me. (Sorry about that.) It’s chilly again today, so soup is a great idea.
I had a couple of vague ideas which will likely manifest here later. But I did what most people do now—I checked with our old friend Google, who led me down several merry paths and to more bunny trails. That’s OK, it’s time I added to my blogging repertoire, anyway.
The New Stove
The new appliances are wonderful. This morning, BF decided to bake some canned biscuits while he cooked us a delicious breakfast. But I was kind of concerned because I didn’t show him the controls for the oven. Well, he figured them out, and baked them all by himself:
The controls are simple and you just need to remember to turn the oven off when you’re finished. But today, he proudly declared his biscuits “perfect.” I was so happy for him! Next up, I’m sure he’ll tackle a cake or brownies.
New Plugin For Recipes
The first thing that sparked my interest in the research was a plugin for WordPress called Recipe Maker. It’s a thing where you type in the recipe once, it shows it in the blog post, and allows the reader to click and print. Chances are you’ve seen it nearly every *other* food blog you’ve ever read, but not mine. There’s a reason for that.
I was this many years old when I discovered WordPress Recipe Maker. It never dawned on me to look for such sorcery, and of course, nobody ever told me, either. I blame the Banana Rat, who knows all about this kind of thing.
In a Zoom call last week with overseas guru WF, she told me, “now there’s a WordPress plugin for just about everything.” So now I want to look at plugins for hours on end, just to see what I can find. But I’m busy elsewhere.
You can see a similar example of this type of plugin on AllDayIDreamAboutFood. You can click the little box that says “Jump To Recipe” and go directly to it, or you can read the whole blog first. However you get there, the recipe plugin allows you to see it in one place and print it for yourself if you like. I don’t know if Carolyn uses WordPress or not, but it’s the same thing as the one I installed here.
And today you get a recipe for keto peanut butter eggs, sugar-free, complete with chocolate. You’re welcome.
Ready To Roll
Installing the plugin into WordPress was easy. I tested it and it works great. Going forward I’ll be using it whenever I post about a recipe—which might be more often.
And who do I have to thank for this? Aunt Ruth, sort of. She emailed me after the soup post and said that she couldn’t find the measurements for the onion and celery for one of the recipes. I emailed back and told the Recipes page had the PDFs, but I attached both PDF files to the email. Then it clicked, and I went back hunting for Recipe Maker to install.
With the new plugin, I won’t need to make PDFs—it will be a section I type in, and you can print them right from the page.
Where has this been all my blogging life? Well, I have it now. But I’m still blaming Banana Rat for not telling me about it previously.
Shopping At Misfits Market
The second suggestion from this research was to order something like a meal kit (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, etc.) and write about your experience.
I’ve not ordered from the meal kit companies. But I have been seeing ads for some time from Misfits Market. What the heck—go check it out! So I did (and had the money to do so.)
I told BF about it. He just gave me that smile he has when he’s not sure what to think about what I just said. Finally, he said, “it’s OK, that’s your thing.” Really, he wasn’t at all interested.
Organics For Less
Misfits Market is all about organic food—primarily fresh produce—that’s either surplus or isn’t “pretty.” I did write about organic recently, and how it’s distinguished from conventionally grown and produced foods.
They also stock a variety of other organic pantry items, including meats and plant-based proteins, that are either surplus stock or near the sell-by date. On things that aren’t “raw,” like baking powder or salt, that’s probably safe. Meat out of date probably isn’t, but you knew that already.
Think about this the next time you go to your local grocer. Whether it’s HEB, Randall’s, Kroger or Food Town for my Texas readers, or Rouses, Winn-Dixie, or Walmart for my non-Texas readers, look at all the lovely produce that’s pretty and perfect. It’s especially true in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and The Fresh Market. Few if any irregularities exist in the avocados, apples, limes, lettuce, tomatoes, and zucchini, much less any other produce.
So, what happens to the veg that isn’t as pretty? Chances are it’s discarded and becomes landfill waste. Even though it’s of the same nutritional quality as the aesthetically and cosmetically perfect veg, it’s tossed out. But if you’re going to cut them up and eat them, or cook them, or make guacamole anyway, what difference does it make? Apparently quite a bit.
An estimated 40% of fresh produce is discarded and goes to waste because it’s not cosmetically perfect. Why does this happen in uber-efficient America? Enter Misfits Market, and several other vendors like them.
Many grocers and suppliers donate to food pantries and charities that help people who are in need, This is frequently called “food insecurity,” or not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Neighbor E used to volunteer at a local food pantry in Clear Lake, packing boxes and helping with the grunt work. Local grocers donated all manner of things, including The Fresh Market (this was before they closed their Texas operations.) He was also gifted some nice things that were extra, some of which he kindly shared with me. I loved making coleslaw, since he, like BF, doesn’t like cabbage.
You’d think that all these growers and producers would be taking advantage of food pantries to gift food to those who need it. Unfortunately, most small farms and producers don’t have the logistics to get everything everywhere before it goes bad, especially on a weekly basis. That’s where companies like Misfits Market help people buy quality food that isn’t the most attractive.
Founded in 2018, they just published their first annual report. They just opened their Texas facility last June, which explains why we’re now able to buy a box. The company also supports hunger relief programs, putting their money where their mouth is, literally. I like that.
Amy’s First Order
When you sign up, you’ll see a variety of pre-selected produce in your cart that comes to the required minimum of $30. You can add, subtract, and edit what’s there, as long as it comes to at least $30 before you apply any discounts.
There was no way I wanted beets! So those were replaced with a salad bag, extra avocados, and one or two other items. You can “shop” the website’s “aisles” and select from other available produce, meats, and dry pantry items. (More on the meat order later.) I clicked the button, and I was charged the next day when it shipped—from San Antonio, or Fort Worth, I’m not quite sure. The FedEx app first showed SA, but later it was FW. So, it came from somewhere in Texas.
My first Misfits Market package arrived that Saturday. The delivery lady from FedEx said, “I see a lot of these.” So, it must be popular around these parts. I offered to open it so she could see the contents, but she didn’t have time. Thanking her, off she went.
BF was at work the moment I opened the box:
There was a lining in the box to help keep everything at cold temperatures throughout the 72-hour trip:
And the cold pack on top to continue the refrigeration:
I stashed that in the freezer to use later. Why not? Then I removed the top layer:
Not everything was wrapped in a package, but that’s OK. But everything on my list was in the box, like the purple sweet potatoes:
No kidding, those aren’t something left by Broc. . .I mean, Buddy the puppy. And Fuji apples:
A bag of carrots that maybe was too far gone:
Some sugar snap peas, another one of my favorites:
Organic, but not locally grown, like most of the produce in the US:
A bunch of avocados—a bag as well as two loose ones:
I’ll be enjoying avocado anything I want for a while. Guacamole, anyone? And some bagged salad:
I bought a similar bag of salad from Walmart the night before, and of course, HE wouldn’t eat any. “It doesn’t have Thousand Island Dressing on it,” he said. We had a bottle in the fridge, but he wasn’t budging. So, I enjoyed both myself, although not all at once.
They Didn’t Have Pears
I was supposed to get some Anjou pears, but they were out of stock. That’s OK, since it’s past pear season, and I knew that. I guess the website hadn’t been updated. The company refunded the $4.19 to my account. The company doesn’t substitute things and thank heavens—I would have tossed any beets that they sent.
I forget where I found it, but I also had a $15 discount code. I may have got it from Honey, since there was no benefit from Rakuten.
I drink limes all day long. What I mean by that is that I just stopped drinking iced tea in 2012, right after I left Boeing (long story and I still don’t.) Because I’d been adding limes instead of lemons to my iced tea for several years, I just kept drinking water with fresh lime and Sweet ‘N Low. Now I’m used to drinking this. It’s confusing to people here because I don’t drink Coke as BF does. I keep a small bowl of cut limes in the fridge all the time, on top of the iced coffee maker. Running out of limes is like BF running out of Coke or milk, it’s not a happy occasion.
But buying limes in Houston grocery stores isn’t the same as buying them in Central Louisiana. They’re expensive because lemons are more popular here. Good luck getting a slice of lime in a restaurant—IF you can get lemon, they bring a garnish slice. Only one Mexican restaurant gave me enough lime slices once, and it wasn’t the local establishment. With more Hispanic folks moving into the state, we may see more lime availability and better pricing.
Even though I’d bought a couple of bags in the prior week, I still ordered more from Misfits Market. I have enough to last a while. They’re different sizes, and still green, but will ripen in the fridge over time.
And, BTW, if you didn’t know—they sell limes green in this country so that people can tell the difference. Ripe limes are also yellow, but bright green when you cut into them. So, if you’re buying limes for juice, look for some that have a little yellow on them, or are kind of yellow. Those are ripe and juicy.
Cooking the Sweet Potatoes
Unlike BF, I prefer sweet potatoes without the stuff people add to it in the South—marshmallows, pineapples, etc. I think that baked, split, and served with melting butter and salt is good. But my favorite is the sweet potato French fries. I frequently buy sweet potatoes for this reason. They are usually locally grown, even in Winn-Dixie. BF knows someone who grows them, and we’ve both bought from the man and been gifted some. My new nickname for this man is “Mr. Sweet Potato Head.” (Well, I couldn’t resist.)
Make the sweet potato French fries: cut them, put them on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet, drizzle a bit of olive oil on them, a bit of salt, toss, and bake at 400F for 40 minutes. If you have the convection setting on your oven, use it. You can also use an air fryer (Neighbor E now has a small one for himself.) Just don’t overdo it.
So I cut these little oddballs for the same purpose:
Did the same thing, cut, olive oil, and salt:
Baked them, and this is what happened:
If you burned them, how can you tell?
They tasted the same as the regular locally grown ones I buy. There is the novelty of the purple coloring, and they are organic. I did over-cook them a little bit because I didn’t take them out of the oven right away. Even though the countertop oven shuts itself off, it doesn’t cool right away, so they keep cooking for a bit. There was some burning, and the dogs enjoyed those. Or, as I call it, “Cajunizing.”
As I mentioned, the carrots looked a bit past it, but I wasn’t about to throw them away if there was some part that was useful.
Just to use up these carrots, I cooked deer roast in the Instant Pot last night with this recipe from Corrie Cooks.
First I cut the ends off and got to the “good part,” sampling them to make sure they didn’t taste bad:
Then cut them into smaller parts to put in the IP.
Instead of the fresh thyme, I substituted Everything But The Leftovers seasoning from Trader Joe’s, sold in the fall. It worked well in this dish. The seasoning is modeled on their very popular (and inexpensive) Everything But The Bagel seasoning blend and is quite good. BF really enjoyed the dear roast this time, so I must get more of that seasoning mix when it comes back around later in the year. If you can’t wait, you can find it on eBay, and of course, it’s also being sold on Amazon.
OK, so what are the good things about Misfits Market? First: it’s a great example of American-style capitalism. Find a need and fill it. They’ve done that well and grown in the process. Misfits Market delivers to nearly every zip code in the US. Amazingly, including ours.
For the organic consumer: you’re able to buy “not so perfect” organic produce and other products at a discount of as much as 40% off regular retail prices in exchange for getting the “not so pretty” agricultural products. Like those funny-looking purple sweet potatoes.
You choose everything in your shipment—there are no surprises.
They ship it right to your door. However, I haven’t compared prices to my local vendors, partly because organics aren’t widely available. Sure, I got some organic celery last week, but there isn’t enough availability here to do an apples-to-apples comparison. I do think the sugar snap peas were a good price at $3.45. (BF doesn’t like those, either.) If I were in Houston, I could compare it to HEB or Kroger and get a better idea.
The company uses eco-friendly packaging, which includes insulation made from recycled plastic bottles:
Unfortunately, we don’t live where curbside recycling is available. I’m not even sure where we can recycle this stuff. The box was nice enough to re-use in the house or burn with other paper waste. The lining? I’ll try to find a recycling place that takes it or use it for something else.
Making The Trip
Everything is packed to withstand a 72-hour trip from the packing facility to your door at a refrigerated temperature, and that lining helps. Understand that the contents may very well be a bit banged up on the trip. The box really shouldn’t sit out for long periods, particularly in warmer weather, even with the ice packs or cold packs. Bring it in as soon as you get it, if you can, to avoid spoilage. If you work away from home, it’s best to get your delivery on Saturday, if you’re going to be home, of course.
The bigger benefit is that that food that would get tossed out is re-sold. This offers healthy and high-quality food to a wider group of people who might not otherwise have it. By sourcing food that wouldn’t sell in a regular grocery store, it’s going to dinner tables instead of to landfills. By buying from Misfit Market, you’ll contribute to the fight against food waste in the US. You can read more about their mission to offer good food at better prices on their FAQ page. They discuss their sourcing here, and their farmer-to-customer process here.
Unfortunately, I’ve found Misfits Market’s website to be a bit wonky. Signing in is difficult and changing browsers doesn’t help. If you put the wrong password in, it keeps looping around to the login page. The site doesn’t tell you that the password was wrong. It took several tries on a different browser to access my account this afternoon.
Additionally, I can’t figure out how to go back to the “shop” function, but I guess it must be in the window of a shipment. In my case, the billing date is a Wednesday, and so I have until Tuesday at 10:45 pm to change the contents of the next box. On Wednesday morning, they charge me, and the shipment arrives on Saturday.
As I mentioned, the carrots disappointed me. A sharp knife made them salvageable.
While Misfits Market does claim to be 40% off regular retail, I haven’t really compared prices with local grocery stores. I wonder about buying groceries that are shipped and trucked from Fort Worth, TX all the way to central Louisiana. I’m not saying it’s a bad service—it isn’t, it’s actually a good idea that checks a lot of boxes. But is it socially responsible? Well, that’s kind of a conundrum—I don’t know if it’s better or not, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it again.
Shipping was $6.99, so not too bad, and in addition to sales tax of $1.57 for Louisiana. The box went many miles to arrive at my door. Most produce is shipped from elsewhere into every grocery store in America, and I realize that. But Misfits Market also works directly with farmers and producers, bypassing grocery stores and bringing quality foods directly to America’s doorsteps, wherever they may be, helping to improve the food chain.
I’m thinking the Pros outweigh the Cons on this one, but that’s just me. If you’re considering ordering a Misfits Market box, may I suggest a little more reading so you can decide for yourself. Signup is free, but they do ask for a payment method.
Misfits Market is a weekly subscription service, so you must pay attention and cancel this week’s box if you don’t want it. (The company also offers the option to buy and donate a box of food to a family in need instead of buying the box for yourself.) Otherwise, they charge your card and you get another box of produce and things you weren’t ready for.
I’ve skipped this week’s order because I wanted to see what was in the first box before the next one. And I wanted to make sure I had the money for it, too. If you decide to order, be aware that you are signing up for regular weekly deliveries, and you have to cancel them manually. Should you not want to continue, you’ll have to cancel your subscription entirely.
Our Next Order
We’re planning a “meat box” for the next order to see what that’s like, probably next week. BF likes to cook breakfast for us, and that generally means bacon and eggs. Since bacon has been on the high side around here, I’d like to see what Misfits Market has in the way of bacon, ground beef, and other items. If we like it, we’ll buy some to stash in the freezer, right next to the Texas Tamales.
For meat, you must order a minimum of $30 “cold pack” items. That is, to make it cost-effective, certain items like meat and plant-based protein must come to the $30 minimum, which counts toward your overall $30 minimum. But if you order less than the $30 minimum of produce or other things, you’ll still need to order $30 of “cold pack” items to make the box. You could order more, of course. Just watch your total, which is easy on their web site’s shopping interface.
I’ll let you know about our “meat box” in a future blog post.
Until Next Time
No, BF wasn’t particularly impressed, even though most of the contents, if not all, were organic. He just doesn’t appreciate it when I buy organic for us. Oh, well. Maybe the meat box will give him a little more to look forward to next time.
If you want to try new things, or make your grocery shopping a little easier, Misfits Market might be a good thing for you. I do have a referral code if you want to try it, and you’ll receive a $10 discount on your first order. That code is COOKWME-GK3IAXCZOGR. Again, it’s a subscription service for weekly deliveries, not a one-time purchase like Amazon or other online retailers, so you can’t just order once and go back later.
You also choose what’s in your shipment so that there are no surprises, and you don’t get something you didn’t really want. Like beets. And they ship it right to your door.
More to come on this blog. Meantime, enjoy!!
Today’s post is not sponsored, but more of a love letter to Bolner’s Fiesta Spices Company. If you like a good chicken and rice, you’re reading the correct blog today.
Hi, again, Dear Readers:
If you’re in Texas, you probably look at Fiesta Spices like you look at the shelves when you shop–it’s in every grocery store, everywhere. Of course, it is, because the company is in San Antonio, and their spices are widely available throughout Texas. But when you find it in the middle of Louisiana, where Hatch chiles are not embraced, that’s something to celebrate.
I can get a small selection of Fiesta spices and products at Albertson’s, which includes their River Road brand of Cajun-style spices. I had no idea that River Road was a Texas company until recently.
BF’s Seasonal Mantra
Yes, he’s saying it: “I hate cold weather!” Repeatedly, and more often if there is an implication and/or inference of snow in the forecast. Despite my sincerest hopes, snow has not made an appearance, and for this BF is happy. However, despite the incredible Arctic chill, we’ve fared well. And as BF is fond of saying, “it gets cold in the piney woods.” He’s not kidding, either–it was 17F when that cat showed up five years ago.
Still, the closest thing I get to a fireplace is streaming on my Roku through YouTube or another streaming channel. I look for the ones with music, but there are some with just the crackling sounds. PlutoTV’s fireplace channel is now just a loop of commercials until Christmas.
For many years I’ve asked BF for a space heater that looks like a fireplace. I’ve shown him multiple available models that look and feel like a fireplace but don’t carry as many risks as a real one. We could even build a nice little wooden mantel for it and put the “fire” inside. Nope–didn’t think it was a good idea.
But last week saw the purchase of exactly that–a space heater with a fireplace-like inset. We got the last one at Walmart. All the rest of the heaters were gone in anticipation of the sub-freezing weather. Obviously, last year’s big freeze is still on everyone’s mind, both here and in Texas. I use it in the back room where it gets really cold, and the pit bull pulls his little cushion in front of it to stay warm. Awwww. . . .
Sure enough, last week we woke up to no power. The weather was fine, just really cold. BF got up, started the camp stove like he’s done many times before, and got cracking on bacon and eggs for us. After a short phone conversation with his brother, he went back to sleep. He had to go to work at noon. Meantime I started dusting because I don’t need power for that.
Entergy said the power would be back about 9:30 am, which came and went. About 11 am, I asked him to please get the generator set up so I could plug in a heater. He dragged it to the house, filled it, and started it up. I went inside to get an extension cord, only to see the ceiling fans start turning. Nevermind! I flipped the switch to turn it off and that was the end of it. BF was out in the shop snickering because he knew what happened. I plugged the heater in for the back room, the HVAC system kicked on, and he went off to work.
BF also purchased another indoor heater this week, one that runs on the same propane bottles as the camping stove. It will keep us from freezing if we have another outage, and no need to go into town for petrol if we don’t need it.
And it works well, too, because we tested it.
Since it is winter, though, we always need something warm and comforting for dinner. Luckily, I found something that’s easy and fast.
Finding Fiesta Spices
Living in Texas as long as I did, I got used to buying certain things. When I moved here, I had to find what I needed locally or order it online. Ask our mail ladies how many packages they handle from all over the US with my name on them.
A few years ago I found in Winn-Dixie one spice brand I used to buy, but not many of the Mexican variety. What am I supposed to do with a tiny bottle of cumin?
I always bought Fiesta because it was there, it’s good stuff, and readily available. I brought a fair amount of it with me when I moved. Leave Texas and the brands are all different–and you can’t always get those big containers of ground cumin, coriander, and chili powder. Then one day I stumbled on Fiesta Spices in Hammond. Oh, Happy DAY!!
It was kind of an accident–I went into the Albertsons to look for something Rouses didn’t have available. I walked down the spice aisle and there it was! A whole section of the shelf of JUST Fiesta Spices. And River Road, too!!
I was so happy, I didn’t know what to buy first. (I think I bought a big container of chile powder.) BF stayed in the truck while I went into the store since he’s not enamored with grocery shopping. Really. He’d rather not be bothered with grocery shopping, ever.
Foodies Of Instagram
In the quest to make a good dinner for both myself and BF, it’s frequently a hit-and-miss proposition. Really, the thing I think he’ll dislike is the thing he asks for again. And the thing I think he’ll enjoy is what he’ll turn up his nose at, loudly. (“She’s tryin’ ta kill me!”) But this time, things went well, and all because of an innocent Instagram post a couple of weeks ago.
I follow a myriad of people and companies on Instagram, including some food bloggers and culinary celebrities I’ve mentioned here. Jen Fisch of Keto In The City and Emilie Bailey, The Texas Granola Girl, are two of them. Others include Stephanie O’Dea, Ina Garten, (The Barefoot Contessa) her protege Lidey Hueck, Rachael Ray, Valerie Bertinelli, Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) plus her two daughters, and of course, the Goddess of the Home, Martha Stewart.
I originally joined Instagram to follow sewing maven MimiG, who occasionally posts foodie stuff, some of it in sponsored posts. I also follow her talented sewing/designing husband Norris Danta Ford, both of whom are very nice folks. Since then I’ve followed more like Emilie Bailey and Jen Fisch, both of whom are active on IG. I even follow a couple of personal injury lawyers who produce interesting video content. Many will answer questions if you ask (the lawyers don’t give legal advice) and interaction seems to be easier on Instagram.
So this particular day, the folks at Fiesta Spices posted a picture of Arroz Con Pollo, or Spanish chicken and rice. The post (and the recipe) featured Fiesta’s Spanish Rice Seasoning.
That sure does look good. . .so I asked:
Dinner is solved! The recipe is also on Fiesta’s website.
We had another reason to head to Hammond, and a quick trip to Albertson’s was added to that trip. There it was, the Spanish Rice Seasoning right on the shelf. Also got some chicken thighs on sale, broth, and promptly forgot the cilantro.
Wait, hang on–you mean they have it in the big bottles? For $8.72? Yep, that’s good to know.
Making Arroz Con Pollo
This couldn’t be easier to make, and it’s faster than the jambalaya BF insists upon making occasionally. (I know, keto what?)
BF isn’t a fan of chicken thighs the way I am, but that’s been the least expensive option lately:
Ideally, boneless and skinless chicken thighs would be the best option, but I got what was on sale and just removed the skin myself.
Just get all your ingredients together, and get started.
I used my chili pot, and it worked perfectly. First, add the olive oil:
Then start frying the rice in the oil:
Then add in the tomato sauce:
Then the seasoning:
The 2.5 cups of chicken broth:
Carefully add the chicken thighs:
Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the chicken is cooked. I think.
I actually don’t know how long I cooked it for, I just looked at it a couple of times. I cut open one of the chicken pieces, and it was done. Might have been 25 minutes, but of course, the chicken is the barometer. You can add a little more water or broth to the rice if needed.
When you open your pot, this is what you get:
The rice is deliciously cooked:
And you’ve got a tasty one-pot meal that’s on the table in less than an hour.
Feeding Arroz Con Pollo to BF
Now comes the scary part: will he like it?
I’m happy to report that it was a two-thumbs up! BF really enjoys this dish and will be happy for me to make it again. I better order a restaurant-sized bottle soon. He’ll keep me around for this one.
Arroz con Pollo could be a perfect dish for our Valentine’s Day “dinner and a movie” night.
Now that I think about it, I bet you could make this in the Instant Pot, too, although maybe not using the pressure cooking function. I’ll have to fiddle with it and see how it works. If the power goes out, I can plug the IP into the generator, saute the rice, add everything, and then cook it normally until done with the glass lid. Maybe pressure cook it for 15 minutes? I’m thinking ahead to the next winter power outage, and if we can do this on the generator.
What Happened Next?
Two days after this success, Fiesta posted a picture of a spatchcocked chicken seasoned with their Chicken Rub, featured by a different poster.
As you can see, I also mentioned the previous night’s dinner from their post. And when I went to Hammond the next morning to run errands, I picked up a bottle of their Chicken Rub for us.
A few days later I took two chicken thighs out of the freezer and used this chicken rub:
I forget what else I made with it, but BF enjoyed this dinner and said I should make it again.
Two winners in a week! (Although BF may soon complain that he is “clucking” from all the chicken.)
Fiesta’s Tamale Kit
During the holidays, lots of companies have online contests for different things. In the case of Fiesta Spices, it was a bottle of this or a that. Not expensive things, but it was fun, so I entered and tagged people every day.
Then on December 19th, at 8:37 in the morning, I got a message on Instagram from Fiesta. I won their Tamale Kit!!
As requested, I sent them the address, and it arrived on December 28th. Woo hoo!! But checking their website, it’s out of stock right now. So I guess I got the last one.
Now for the bad news: making tamales is a long-term commitment. Seriously. Lots of labor and a little hand cramping. But done correctly, well-made tamales are delicious. At this point, I don’t know when I’m going to be making our own tamales. When I do, I will need to get a Food Saver to freeze five dozen of them. Meantime, Texas Tamales will have to take care of our cravings for real tamales.
Buying Fiesta Spices
If you’re in Texas, you already know where: your local HEB, Kroger, Food Town, Randall’s, Fiesta Mart (the grocery store chain, I miss them too), and every other little place that sells Hispanic foods and goods. Toss a quarter in any direction in the state of Texas and you’ll likely find at least a few Fiesta Spices products.
Locally, there are two stores I’ve found that carry Fiesta Spices. The first is Albertson’s in Hammond. Chances are the other Albertsons carries them too, but I’ve only been in the Hammond store. Amazingly, the Walmart in Covington also carries a huge selection of Hispanic foods and spices, and I believe they had some as well.
I don’t remember seeing Fiesta products in Los Primos last year, but I may have also missed something. In my defense, I was just wide-eyed at all the wonderful things from Mexico they have. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but I should make more Salsa Macha soon.
But if you’re in a place like, say, Idaho, chances are Fiesta Spices aren’t something in your regular grocery store. For that, you have the option of a) buying from their own website, or b) ordering from their Amazon store.
Now, this wasn’t the first time I’d ever had Arroz con Pollo, nor will it be the last (now that HE likes it.) My mother had a complete set of The Betty Crocker Recipe Collection, circa 1971. In it was a recipe she used, sort of, and made many times when we were growing up–Arroz Con Pollo.
If I remember correctly, she didn’t use pimientos or olives:
It was pretty easy, so that was the draw, plus everyone ate it. The recipe was scaled down for a family night dinner for six. But we didn’t know it was simply Spanish chicken with rice. This was New Orleans in the 1970’s, before Paul Prudhomme and Emeril and all that.
Recipe “collections” like these were sold as a small package bought monthly for a small price, and the storage box usually came with the first package. Over a year or two at that price you’d have the entire collection in your kitchen. Most people didn’t add up the total cost of these little “collections” that you bought for a small sum every month. My father bought the whole thing for my mother, and I only recall that recipe ever being used. Maybe one day I’ll go through all the cards and if there’s anything else that rings a bell.
Then one day, about 15 years ago (and probably more) my mother decided to get rid of her Betty Crocker Recipe Collection. I convinced her to give it to me instead of tossing it in the trash. As a fan of the always amusing and occasionally crass Vintage Recipe Cards website (also on Instagram), I might actually use one of these recipes one day. But nothing with aspic, gelatin, or other “gourmet” techniques of the day. Occasionally recipes from this collection show up in the postings.
Until Next Time
If you’re looking for something new and different for dinner, Fiesta’s got you covered. Their website has a huge library of recipes featuring their spices and products, both Mexican and Cajun. Let’s face it, a muffuletta has nothing on these Fishing Sandwiches.
There are also keto recipes featured, and guess what? The links take you to The Texas Granola Girl’s website! These were two of the many recipes that feature Fiesta Spices (and of course, sponsored by the company.) Keto Deep Dish Pizza and Keto Shrimp Etouffe look like two dishes I need to try really soon, especially the second one. Oh, wait, there’s a Mexican Shredded Beef recipe for the Instant Pot.
Wonder if he’ll *almost* want to yell at me as he wanted to the first time I made the Wheat Belly Gumbo recipe.
Another warm and delicious vegetarian recipe is coming, along with a couple of cookbook reviews and another Spencer story. Right now, we all need warm comfort food, and I’m looking for more of those too. Don’t worry, spring is on its way, and soon we’ll be watching the Gulf of Mexico again. Meantime, make some delicious Arroz con Pollo and find something funny to watch.
Vegetarian and keto are two words many people believe are incompatible. Emilie Bailey, a/k/a “The Texas Granola Girl,” is here to show you that they can work together.
Hi, Again, Dear Readers:
Well, we’re a couple of weeks into 2022. Have you forgotten your resolutions already? Not me! I haven’t made any. After the last two years, who’s doing that, anyway?
Mother Nature’s bipolar weather patterns are literally having us all use our heaters at night and air conditioners during the day and then swap in a couple of days. This week we may be looking at snow in our area, and north Houston will not be spared that winter treat. (The prospect of snow does not make BF very happy.)
I discovered recently that I have two new readers. Welcome! This humble little blog is nine years old and contains information about food, cooking, foodie trends, some health and wellness, and the occasional contrarian opinion. Also included are anecdotes and sometimes extra information that may or may not be useful, depending on your perspective. New trends (i.e., the Instant Pot and the Air Fryer) are highlighted as well as updates and features from other bloggers who write more than I do. Stick around, you might find something you like. Check out my recipe page, which I need to update soon.
So let’s jump right into 2022!
The Post-Holiday Reset
The rich food of the holidays is over, and it’s time to get back to eating healthier. Hobby Lobby had this, and, well:
Yes, died and went to heaven. It’s fantastic with corn chips. Until I got halfway through the jar and read the ingredients. First up: sugar. I was heartbroken, but it didn’t stop me. I did buy one more, and that was the end of the dip.
Plus, I gave in to the Cranberry Bliss Bar, despite the large price increase since my first in about 2007:
BF was not interested in this Starbucks holiday standard, and I can’t even get him interested in trying a little bit. But copycat recipes abound, so I could conceivably make some any time of year, such as the upcoming Valentine’s Day.
But today, it’s time to re-set and get back to eating healthier. I fell off the wagon a few times, but not for the entire six weeks.
Getting A Move On
I’m exercising when I can, and bought this “resolution” back in June:
Called the Sunny Health & Fitness Row N’ Ride, I use it less than I should. That’s probably why I end up with sore muscles. The first day I used it I was crab-walking for four or five days–my legs really hurt! When I bought mine, it was less than $100. Part of the reason was so that I could exercise without doing any more damage to my foot. I’m also conscious of possible knee problems with walking, as well as gaining good lower-body strength. So I need to make more time for this baby.
The mail lady was not happy about delivering the 25-pound package. (It does require some assembly, which BF cheerfully handled because he’s a guy.) She remembers when BF shipped home boxes of tools and things before he returned from Iraq.
If you consider buying the Row ‘N Ride, know that it has a strict 220-pound weight limit. That’s OK for me, BF, Miss Alice, and Aunt Ruth. But not for one of BF’s car-guy friends, who has himself gone keto and lost a considerable amount of weight. The man is also well over six feet and over that weight limit, so I had to stop him from hopping on my machine. The company makes a Pro model with a weight limit of 300 pounds, which would be more suited for him.
Sunny Health & Fitness has a wide range of home health equipment, from small things like ab wheels and yoga mats to elliptical bicycles, rowing machines, and the Row & Ride. The company also has a YouTube channel that’s free. They frequently post content including workout videos on Instagram and Facebook. Many of their videos don’t require exercise equipment, such as body weight routines and even yoga.
For some folks, the New Year “diet” means going to or back to keto, low carb, paleo, low-fat, or whatever way of eating you prefer. Others may be considering the non-carnivore route. And for that, I’ve got your back.
I know, I know–the word “vegetarian” has you turned off already. Right now, I can hear you turning your nose up. (Except you, Miss Alice.) Well, today, I’m going to change that.
Emilie Bailey’s newest book is all about vegetarian food that’s also keto-friendly. Vegetarian Keto In 30 Minutes has some wonderful recipes that both vegetarians and non-veg people alike can enjoy. Yes, even maybe BF. But we’re not converting, just eating some tasty and different recipes.
In the intro, Emilie explains that the recipes are quick, and don’t require any ingredients that are hard to get, even here, no complicated cooking methods, nor any expensive kitchen stuff. That’s appealing even to non-vegetarians like myself.
“Yes, but, Amy, isn’t keto all about eating lots of organic meat and dairy?” No, it isn’t, actually. Keto, as I’ve said previously, is pretty much “Low Carb 2.0.” There are macros, but not really calorie counting. The thing is, you can’t over-eat fat without upsetting or hurting your stomach. Real fats make you stop at some point, whereas you can overeat carbs all day long.
If you’ve ever polished off a bag of chips and salsa, you know what I’m talking about. Don’t get me started on chips and salsa in a Mexican restaurant. If you’re in Texas, you know very well what that means.
Emilie’s book takes keto into the vegetarian genre of cooking, because she enjoys vegetables, and had plenty of recipes to focus just on this type. When most people hear the word “vegetarian,” the words that come to mind tend to be things like “bean sprouts,” “wheatgrass” and “soybean ‘meat.'” I’m happy to tell you this is not the case in Emilie’s book. The recipes aren’t difficult, either, and there’s something for nearly everyone here.
The short review: good food to be had here, and you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy them. Honest.
Types Of Vegetarians
If you’re not completely familiar with the concept, there are a few “flavors” of the non-meat genre:
- Vegetarians, who just don’t eat meat
- Pescatarians, who are vegetarians but also eat fish
- Lacto-vegetarians, who consume dairy but no eggs
- Ovo-vegetarians, who consume eggs but no dairy
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians, who consume both dairy and eggs
- Flexitarians, who generally don’t eat meat but do once in a while or alternate between veg and carnivore
- Vegans, who only consume plant-based foods, including plant milk and products like almond, soy, oat, rice, and others
- Raw vegans, who eat plant-based food that’s uncooked, or “unprocessed plant foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.” (I’ll pass–I still like sweet potato fries, thanks.)
Emilie’s book focuses on lacto-ovo recipes. There are multiple egg-based recipes in the book, one of which I’ll show you.
Why Go Vegetarian?
Everyone has a different reason for going veg. You can ask five people and you’ll get five completely different and diverse answers.
Miss Alice accidentally became vegetarian, no kidding. During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, she and her daughter were running low on things, so she just ate rice and veg and gave her daughter the protein. Discovering she liked being vegetarian, and it worked for her, Miss Alice kept up with it. Because she included fish, that actually made her a pescatarian.
Many people have a specific idea of what the word means. Walk into nearly any American grocery store, and you’ll see offerings like these:
I can’t say I know any Hispanic folk who would welcome that in their tamales. Or any gringos, for that matter. But there is a market, and our local Walmart carries it. I pass it up the same way I did in Texas. But there are people who buy these products, just not me.
I have tried being vegetarian a few times, I really did. Gave up quickly because was always so hungry. Well, I didn’t have a book like this. As with many things, It’s a matter of finding what works best for you and sticking with it.
So let’s try out a few of these recipes and see what’s good.
Versatile Sandwich Round, Page 31
Do you like a good English Muffin? Here you go.
Emilie says that bread is one of the first things people miss when they go to keto. She’s right–no sandwiches, which is a shame unless you have a substitute. Well, thanks to Emilie, you can make anything from an eggy breakfast sandwich to avocado toast anytime. Pretty much anything you want to put between two slices of bread will work on this little sandwich round, even bacon, egg, and cheese.
You’ll need a little ramekin dish that’s safe to use in the microwave and just a few ingredients.
Mix up everything in the little bowl:
And the rest, then mix well:
Then microwave for 90 seconds on high, or a few seconds longer as needed.
I don’t have a picture of it cooking, but this is what comes out:
Flip it out onto a plate, carefully, because it is quite hot:
To make a sandwich, cut it in half lengthwise with a serrated knife:
You’re probably wondering what I did next. Well, it would have been avocado toast if I’d bothered to toast the round at this point. But I didn’t. I just mashed up a ripe one:
Then spread it liberally onto the halved rounds:
I didn’t bother showing this to BF, because I knew what would happen. Well, he came inside just after I finished it. He took one look at this and said, “oh, look, the cat threw up on your plate.” Thanks, Honey, I really appreciate that. Wait until you discover what *you’re* having for dinner. (Hint: it’s whatever YOU make.)
This little eggy thing is about the size of a standard English muffin. It’s useful for any manner of sandwiches you like, veg or non-veg. And if you’re missing bread at dinnertime, this is a great option, too. Cut it in half, or cut it as I did, then cut it again into quarters from the top, so you have four half-moons. Next time I’ll try to toast it too.
A few years ago I thought that Hamilton Beach’s amazing little Breakfast Sandwich Maker was the most wonderful thing ever. It makes breakfast sandwiches in five minutes or so, and you don’t have to leave your house! No drive-through window nonsense, either. Made correctly, you could use the Versatile Bread Round to make yourself a keto–and even non-vegetarian–breakfast quickly.
Emilie also offers a sweet version, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Turmeric & Avocado Egg Salad, Page 87
Ok, I’m going to issue a warning right up front: this dish is delicious, but it has a very strong tart taste. Like I wouldn’t even try it with BF. I’m not saying it’s bad, because it isn’t–this is a flavorful recipe. But the next time I may cut the lime and capers in half because I couldn’t eat it too fast. It opened up my sinuses, too. It’s that strong.
Although Emilie tells you how to boil eggs, you know what I used:
Once they were ready, I got started scooping out the avocado:
Mash it up in a bowl:
Now add in the rest:
Then the juice of the lime:
Then the capers:
Drop them in with the minced up onion:
Then the turmeric
Then take care of the eggs and add them in:
Stir it all up:
This recipe actually made two servings:
But I haven’t made this pucker-your-lips recipe since! For someone who is totally vegetarian, though, it might be OK. I’ve read that vegetarians have a higher tolerance for spicier foods, and this definitely fits that bill.
Open-Faced Pizza Omelette, Page 60
Who among us has never had leftover pizza for breakfast? Well, OK, maybe you, Aunt Kathy, but even you can love this one.
Yes, Dear Readers, I actually have had pizza for breakfast. Twelve years ago, in the middle of June, while I was working for Boeing, I got really, really sick with some kind of bug that was going around–fever, chills, coughing, the whole horrible bit. I was told by coworkers and colleagues that it was “something the Shuttle people brought back from Russia,” and I was one of the last people who became ill. Camped out on the futon, I watched a lot of TV under a wool blanket with two big, hairy cats (weight total: 40 pounds) on top. In June, of course. I didn’t want to make anyone else ill.
For about two weeks, I had pizza delivered a couple of times, because I was just too sick to cook for myself. It was also when I discovered Pea & Pesto Soup. I started making the delicious soup after I quickly got sick of delivered pizza and Taco Cabana takeout. I’d been growing basil, so the pesto took a few minutes of prep.
Fast-forward twelve years, and now pizza for breakfast is a) keto, b) vegetarian, c) easy, and d) tasty. And, really, you can have it anytime you want a delicious pizza thing. What kind of crust, you ask? Eggs!
So, this dish isn’t too far away from a normal omelet. Somehow I didn’t get a shot of the ingredients, but this is the recipe with the list:
And because I made my own pizza sauce:
It really did taste like a well-made pizza. I’ve used this sauce on Caulipower pizza crusts, and it works great.
First, make the base by melting the butter over medium low heat.
In case you’re wondering why there’s salt in there, I’ll explain. Emilie’s recipes call for salted butter, which I never have in the fridge. So I toss in a touch of kosher salt to hopefully make up for it.
And, this little cast-iron pan is just the right size. Bought two of these as well as two small covered cast-iron cocottes at Bed Bath and Beyond a couple of years ago, thinking I could make a quick dinner with them in the countertop oven. Well, I’ve used them, just not as much as I thought.
Meantime, mix up the two eggs, a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, a quarter-teaspoon of Italian seasoning, pepper, and salt.
Pour this egg mixture into the little pan:
Let it cook (no stirring) for a couple of minutes:
Cover it and let it cook another 3 or 4 minutes:
Once it’s cooked, take the cover off and add the pizza (or marinara) sauce, other toppings, and of course, the cheese:
Cook on the stove for another minute. Next, turn on the broiler, which in this case is in the countertop oven, and put the pan on the bottom rack:
Shut the door for a minute or two:
Your Pizza Omelet is ready. And what’s better for a delicious lunch or even dinner than a dessert from Emilie’s first book, some Blackberry Cobbler?
BF would not touch it, despite his enjoyment of bacon or sausage and eggs for breakfast and pizza when he wants to eat his way. Well, I enjoyed it, anyway. And for the record, he does like the keto blackberry cobbler, too.
Dark Chocolate-Macadamia Clusters, page 126
What would any cookbook be without dessert? Again, Emilie doesn’t disappoint with a chapter called Sweets & Treats, including 11 dessert recipes. One even has grilled peaches!
For me, though, I wanted chocolate.
True to her word, Emilie’s ingredient list isn’t difficult to acquire.
For most recipes, I am generally limited by what I can find at Walmart and Winn-Dixie. I only get to Rouses occasionally, so when I want to get something I can’t find locally, I buy extra and stash it in the pantry or freezer. Fortunately, I could get everything at Walmart.
Lucky for us, sugar-free chocolate chips are available here, and I’ve been buying them ever since. Walmart carries other varieties, like this newcomer to the candy game.
Unfortunately, I tried some of these and didn’t care for them. Well, they were clearance-marked pumpkin spice, but I wasn’t impressed. So I’ve passed on these for the Hershey’s, and because the Hershey’s bag is bigger.
Melt 1.5 cups in the microwave:
Stop it and stir every 20 seconds. It should take 1 minute, 20 seconds to complete, but stir it until it’s completely melted and mixed with the oil. Then add in the half-teaspoon of vanilla.
Add in 1.5 cups of roasted and salted macadamia nuts:
Drop them right in and mix:
Once they’re all coated in chocolate, start dropping them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Until you’ve finished:
At this point, you’re supposed to sprinkle a touch of flaked sea salt on top of each one. Of course, I forgot. And I have a nearly-full box of Maldon’s Sea Salt, too.
Now stash them in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes, and they’re ready to eat:
The other mistake is not realizing that these macadamia nuts were raw. I should have put them into the little oven for a few minutes and then maybe salted them. I don’t normally keep macadamia nuts around, and because I didn’t care for these, I’m inclined to avoid them. On the other hand, I might check Winn-Dixie or Rouse’s to see if they have them roasted, then try this recipe again. Because, chocolate.
Store these in the fridge in an airtight container, nibble at will. Just not all at once.
Frozen Hot Chocolate, Page 129
This was actually the first recipe I tried in the book. There’s a reason for that. Besides, it was hot out, and it was just after Hurricane Ida, in the days after we had power restored.
A few weeks prior at Rouses, I saw a can of coconut milk. I bought it, because I keep seeing it in recipes but can’t remember which one. Well, darn it, that can came home with us, and I soon found a use for it.
I keep almond milk around for several reasons, including running out of milk for coffee. Intrigued by the name, I grabbed my little blender.
I won’t question Emilie’s naming convention, but technically it’s not “hot chocolate.” It is, however, a pretty tasty concoction. More like a dairy-free chocolate shake. Who wouldn’t like that?
I’ll admit the ingredients are not what you’d think of in a standard chocolate shake:
Note: after I took this picture, swapped out the Mexican vanilla for a different one that was actually sugar-free.
You’re probably thinking, “Amy, why is there an avocado there?” Sometimes there are ingredients in my blog pictures that are for another recipe, or just happen to be caught on camera. But this time, it is part of the recipe. Now you’re thinking, “enough with the avocado!” They’re not in *every* recipe, I promise.
I also made it when BF wasn’t around, and he only saw the finished product.
So you add the ingredients into the little blender:
Blend it well:
I know you see the little green bits at the top. Just scrape down the sides with a spatula and keep blending. Then add your ice cubes:
Blitz again, and it’s ready:
It does taste a bit different, and the coconut milk is subtle but present.
I did ask BF to try it in a sweet tone of voice. I cornered him on the sofa, where he was looking at yet another Big Foot video on YouTube, and asked him to PLLEEEEZZZE try a little sip. Reluctantly (and with a funny look on his face), he took the tiniest of sips. “It’s missing something,” he declared. And he felt like it wasn’t sweet enough.
I’ll agree, I felt like it needed to be a bit sweeter, but that’s OK, too:
It wasn’t until the next day that I informed him it contained a tablespoon of avocado. You actually can’t taste the avocado, even if you know it’s there. Mostly, I think, it’s for adding viscosity and healthy fat. Then he made a face and pretended to get upset at me. But that’s all in the fun of helping him try new things.
Occasionally, he likes something that he thinks he won’t (especially if I don’t tell him what’s in it.) For a recipe that works, I write in the cookbook, Winner! Make Again! That’s legally gathered evidence of his approval for future repeats, just in case.
There Is Tofu
Yes, there are several recipes for both tofu and turnips here, but not many. I’m allergic to raw soy, so I’m quick to avoid it. I’m sure they’re delicious in their own way–and I could make them with substitute ingredients, like meat. In fact, I might actually do that one day.
For instance: page 120’s Tofu-Stuffed Peppers With Feta could be converted by swapping out the 14-ounce package of extra firm tofu with, say, a pound of ground chicken or turkey. The two peppers are cut in half and laid on the side, used to hold the filling. Mix and bake as you would for the tofu, 25 minutes.
On page 84 is a Mushroom-Tofu Lettuce Wrap with Peanut Sauce, which might also be good with ground turkey or chicken in place of the tofu. The peanut sauce with soy/tamari, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, fresh ginger, and peanut butter sounds interesting. Wrapped in lettuce with some grilled chicken strips might be a nice summer lunch, too.
Think about it: in the same way one would use tofu in place of meat in a dish, the opposite is also true. So there’s no saying I won’t try a tofu-based recipe by swapping out the tofu. I just won’t make them when BF is home.
Also found when buying ingredients for the Chocolate Macadamia Clusters were two items not normally found in Walmart:
The peanut butter is organic, but the almond butter isn’t. And the almond butter has no salt or sugar, which is unusual for anything you find at Walmart.
When you think “organic,” chances are the first thing you think of is “Whole Foods.” You’d be right–both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have a variety of organic foods, as does HEB and its upscale Central Market. In fact, on our last trip to TJ’s in December, we found some organic hot chocolate (in packets) for BF to enjoy. Whole Foods also has some organic hot chocolate in a can, with 22 grams of sugar in every serving. So understand that “organic” doesn’t always equate to healthy.
What It Means
Calling a product “organic” is more than just a name. The USDA has specific guidelines for the production of organic food, so it’s not just a term like “natural” or “healthy.” There is also a certification process that food producers must follow in order to have the seal on their labels.
I prefer to buy organic whenever I can, but I don’t do it all the time. For one thing, organic is more expensive because of the more intensive farming and processing practices involved, including the certification. Another is that not everything organic is necessarily better. Strawberries, yes, but bananas, not so much since you peel them to eat them (unless they’re marked down to sell fast–then you buy them and make banana bread!)
The FDA has a series of blogs called Organic 101:
- Part One discusses what’s not allowed in organic farming
- Part Two discusses substances that are and are not allowed inorganic farming
- Part Three explains what the organic label means
Of course, no matter what, reading labels is essential for eating as healthy as you can.
Good Food No Matter Your Persuasion
Despite the “hippie” or “millennial” image that many people have of vegetarians, people from many walks of live became vegetarians for whatever reason. Miss Alice’s reason was practical and not as much of a choice as a decision, if that makes any sense. (As of late, she’s fallen back on the carnivore wagon, but she’s healing from injuries, too.) Others make a conscious choice to avoid animal products, or just find avoiding meat less expensive. Again, everyone has a unique reason for going vegetarian.
For those of us who stay on the carnivore bandwagon, Emilie’s vegetarian keto book offers a range of recipes we might not think of otherwise. I see it as a supplement to her last two great keto books. It’s also an expansion of delicious keto recipes that I can enjoy and have in my pocket if someone drops by and says, “oh, I’m a vegetarian.” Mind you, the likelihood of that happening here in the middle of rural Louisiana is a bit low, but I like to be somewhat prepared for the remote possibility.
Another good reason to have this book: you’re out of meat, or you’re tired of the same old thing. Isn’t that reason enough?
Many thanks to Emilie and her publisher for sending me a copy and letting me preview the book, too.
Until Next Time
If you’re going keto, thinking about going vegetarian, or just want some new and different tasty dishes, Vegetarian Keto In 30 Minutes has 90 recipes that will keep you in tasty, healthy food that’s fast and easy to prepare all year long.
In the next blog, I have a non-keto, non-vegetarian recipe that involves one of Emilie’s occasional sponsors. However delicious, mine will not be a sponsored post.
The holidays are done, and we’ve been quite busy since my last dispatch. Time for a New Year’s catchup, including our little dog Spencer.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
I’m sorry that it’s been three months since my last update. A lot has happened, some of which I won’t mention here. But since the hurricane, we have had much happening at the Casa de Rurale, and I’m just going to jump in and start somewhere.
Grab your cuppa, this is a long one. Here’s hoping your Holidays went well, wherever you are and whatever the weather.
The Tradition of Black-Eyed Peas
For the record, I did make black-eyed peas on New Year’s, using this delicious recipe from Stephanie O’Dea, that I’ve made before. I made it the first New Year’s I was here, and we really liked it. I made the full recipe, so we had it twice and I froze the rest for a fallback dinner for another night.
BF has an injured shoulder and might be having surgery to remove two bone chips. Ouch! This is in addition to my foot injury, which I’ll explain later. So, I’ll be playing Florence Nightingale soon. Told him he’ll need to eat healthier food so he can heal, but he doesn’t believe me. I also told him to admit the truth, and that he injured himself wrestling with BigFoot.
I still owe you a review of the Vegetarian Keto Cookbook by the Texas Granola Girl. It’s started, but I put the book down next to my desk, and I have not been able to finish that blog post. That’s hopefully going to be next.
Winter Vs. Summer
A popular meme on Facebook says that “Winter and Summer are fighting for custody of Texas.” Boy is that ever true, and we’re involved in it!
If you remember the freeze from last February, it looks like we had a break from winter this season. We had an 80-degree Christmas, and the next cold front came after New Year’s Day. My paint bucket garden has peppers, lettuce, a small amount of basil, green onions, sage, parsley, the recovered Meyer lemon tree, three or four sprouted avocado seeds that need planting elsewhere, and a little green tomato plant with flowers on it. In December! But that won’t be for much longer, some likely won’t make it to spring. The basil already took a hit with the sub-freezing temps last night.
This past weekend, West Texas saw sub-freezing temps and so did we. Hopefully, Texas is in better shape this time and ready to handle whatever comes its way. We’re warm, and have plenty of blankets, sweaters, hoodies, and socks. I miss the fireplace that I had in Houston, and I have to make up for it with the one I stream on TV from PlutoTV’s Crackling Yule Log Fireplace Channel. BF doesn’t understand.
The Post-Hurricane Cleanup Continues
We got some great firewood, and one day we’ll have it behind the house to use later. We know many people who are going to be out of their homes for quite a while.
A few weeks after power restoration, huge trucks with crew began appearing on our little back road, picking up more downed trees and branches. There are still multiple uprooted trees everywhere. Removal of these gigantic tree stumps will be quite a long time. Scenes like this are still common:
BF was able to get one backhoe operator (using a $20 bill) to give us a nice big log for the eventual wood stove he’s planning to install in the living room. After the February freeze, he decided that it would be the next phase of the “beautification project” for the Casa de Rurale. He even has one picked out.
In mid-November, more trucks began appearing with bigger equipment. This was a different company but doing the same thing.
This company didn’t observe property lines or boundaries, either.
While I was working in the back of the house, they rolled onto the property with a backhoe and attempted to take our firewood. It wasn’t on the side of the road—it was pushed far enough back to where they had to trespass on the property to get it, leaving huge marks in the grass. I caught them just in time, shooed them away, and threatened to call the cops.
Later that evening, BF was in the shop, and they came back attempting to do the same thing. He shooed them away too.
A couple of days later a nice lady came to the door from a different company that was “observing” the tree removal company. She said they were a “nightmare,” breaking the rules (and a few laws), and were terrible to deal with. They came in from Florida after winning the contract because they had the most experience. This lady said that she would mark our address as a “no go” or something. They never came back.
Longtime readers understand my affinity for HEB, Texas’ homegrown chain that’s one of the oldest and most respected grocery companies in the US. But in Louisiana, one of the many homegrown grocers is Rouses. They carry many items that are more difficult to find where I am, including my favorite chocolate almond milk for hot chocolate. In the late summer, they’ve had Hatch chiles. Understandably, they didn’t do the in-store roasting this year, but they do have some in jars.
Never had them pickled before.
Rouses has a bi-monthly magazine that they have on racks by the doors. I pick them up when I see them, and I have been meaning to send one to Miss Alice. The November/December issue has recipes for some of their delicious cakes featured in the bakery, including our Hammond store.
This issue also has a fair amount of information about what they did for hurricane recovery after Ida’s landfall. This included how fast they could reopen their stores after the storm ended and recovery began. So many of their employees also suffered losses, many stores were heavily damaged, and everyone worked hard to get food and supplies into the stores for everyone who needed things. I, for one, was very glad to see our Hammond Rouse’s open, even if they did have floor fans drying up everything. That’s to be expected after rains and flooding and all that. (The Hobby Lobby next door also had roof damage and was closed for a couple of weeks.)
No, it isn’t HEB, and they don’t have a disaster recovery vehicle like HEB. But they do have a DR team that swung into action immediately. Now, I like Rouses a lot more than I already did. Many thanks to them for getting our Hammond store open again and making sure that people could get what they needed when it really counted.
The Karma Of Spare Parts: The Dishwasher Returns
After two months of hearing about the “worldwide supply chain disruptions,” I was really in a bad mood because I had to start hand-washing everything again.
Then I found myself with a stomach bug of some kind on Halloween. Mind you, I’d begun walking again in October, and made three miles on Saturday the 30th, no kidding. But the next morning, something got ahold of me, and I was horribly sick. I won’t describe it, but I was very “wrung out” for a week. That ended the walking, and I had a hard time standing up for too long.
I’d been washing all the dishes and kitchen things by hand since the day before Ida made landfall when the leaking began. Annoyed as I was, I donated the red dishes to a local thrift store and bought paper plates and bowls. That helped. BF didn’t. Nor was he happy about me giving away *his* dishes that used to be called “ours.”
But when I was ill, BF swung into action and took care of me best he could. He went to Walmart and got a heating pad and some Nut-Thins crackers so I could eat. I was hungry but my stomach was in very bad shape for three days. I was afraid of more stomach troubles than I already had.
On the third day, I went into the kitchen (he was back at work) and saw that three days of dishes were untouched. Piled in and around the sink and on the stove, the one thing he didn’t bother doing was dishes. I did ask, and he promised. It took an hour and a half to slog through the dishes before I could get anything to eat after three days of nut crackers.
I was REALLY unhappy at this point, as well as being unsteady on my feet.
After finally getting some Pea & Pesto Soup, I pulled out the offending gasket and went looking online for something to replace it. I contacted a few online vendors that dealt in appliance parts, but none carried the replacement gasket for mine.
Then I thought: what about Amazon? It’s always a great place to start research, even if you don’t buy there. I’ve bought replacement gaskets for my Starbucks tumblers that I use daily. The original gaskets had long ago become moldy, and I knew it was a matter of time before they would break. I asked for suggestions on Facebook, and someone suggested I look there. It took a few tries, but I got bigger and heavier ones that work better for both cups. Could I have the same luck with the dishwasher?
It took a little while, but after a search on Amazon, I found just the thing. Took measurements, looked really closely at the pictures, and found one that I was sure would work. I simply needed to trim the gasket down to fit in the smaller space. I ordered one and immediately installed it when it arrived a week later, snipping it to fit. Ran the dishwasher, no leaking at all. I ordered a second as a spare and put everything in a Ziploc bag for later. Finally, the Heatcagekitchen Countertop Dishwasher is back in operation!
The first lesson learned: Amazon has a huge range of little parts and things like gaskets you can order when you can’t find them anywhere else. Just takes some careful looking around and searching.
The second lesson is that BF will get out of doing dishes anytime he can, which is all the time. This includes loading, running, and unloading the dishwasher.
Chances are, you’ve noticed the sharp rise in the price of just about everything. It started about this time last year when the price of petrol started increasing. Shortly thereafter, the prices of everything else followed suit since shipping and transporting goods (especially food) increases with the price of fuel.
We’ve been trying to buy a little extra here and there because we know it’s going to get worse. I’ve also been looking for sales on coffee and stocking up. Mostly, It’s Community Coffee since that’s locally produced in Baton Rouge. Last week I found big packages of both pork roast and chicken at Winn-Dixie on sale to freeze in smaller bags for meals.
But BF is also buying extra things like rice, dried beans, and other things for long-term storage, as well as stashing extras in the freezer. He’s even talking about getting a bigger freezer to store more stuff. I’m sure there will be more deer sausage involved as well.
I have organized the big chest freezer with shopping bags, but I have to stop him from putting anything in there. He literally tosses things into the freezer without regard to the bags. How do you find anything like that?
We’re conscious of this, and yet we still haven’t cleaned up the pantry. I’ve asked for help, including some additional shelving to eliminate wasted space, but I’m on my own. So I have to find a time when I’m not doing anything else to clear everything out, clean it well, then replace and re-organize everything.
More Dash Appliances For The Holiday
Right before Christmas, I was in Target and discovered that they had a sale on some of Dash’s little appliances. I got two of them: the waffle stick maker, and the doggie treat maker. (This is a similar model on Amazon.) I’ve been wanting to get the doggie treat maker for some time. I also got the waffle stick maker because I was making waffled falafel to take to this year’s Christmas party at BF’s workplace.
BF, of course, continues to go around telling people that I’m trying to kill him with the quinoa and the “awful falafel.”. (Not yet, I haven’t.) I thought it might be nice to make the falafel as waffle sticks, and it worked well. I, Miss Grace, and Miss Ruth (not to be confused with Aunt Ruth in Texas) enjoyed them.
Both the doggie treat and the waffle stick makers are slightly larger than the smaller round Dash mini waffle makers. Dash now makes a full-size waffle maker, as well as a full-sized waffle maker that makes 4 mini waffles at once.
Veggie Mash Waffle Sticks
If you follow Dash on Instagram, you’ll see there are frequent videos by a redhead who calls herself Ms. Dash, and she’s usually with young children. I don’t know if they’re her children or not, but she’s always making delicious recipes featuring a specific Dash product, many of them vegan.
One day Ms. Dash demonstrated a recipe for using leftover vegetables and turning them into a mash that you cook in the waffle stick maker. This gave me the idea to get one for the holiday party waffled falafel. I cooked some cauliflower in the CrockPot, and I added a little too much liquid.
It made a mash alright, but a very soupy one. The addition of coconut and almond flour didn’t help. Therefore, making them into waffle sticks was less than stellar. But the waffled falafel turned out great and even easier to eat.
Treats For The Pup
Now, in the case of the doggie treat maker, I had to buy some peanut butter and whole wheat flour (I know, I know), but I had canned pumpkin already.
It took a little while, and I decided to make a double batch. That wasn’t the wisest idea, unfortunately.
The pit bull gladly ate all we gave him. But because I didn’t let them completely cool, they went into the plastic zipper bag and became a bit damp. A week or so later, they had MOLD on them. They became possum food.
Next up, some banana-based treats with flax and a few other ingredients. I didn’t make so many at once and let them cool completely then dry out a little to prevent them from going bad. I keep making them so the 85-pound “puppy” doesn’t get upset.
I might have bought the donut maker and the mini-Bundt cake maker since they were also on sale at Target until Christmas. But BF couldn’t give me a straight answer. If I do get them, I’ll probably have to order them online. I showed him the mini pie maker too, but he’s still indecisive. He can have frozen pies for a little bit longer.
But our other hungry little pup didn’t get to enjoy these homemade treats.
While it was hot for Christmas, it was very cold in the days preceding.
Some months ago, BF saw a video on Facebook for a pullover jacket made from a military wool blanket. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t exist—no website, and complaints from viewers in the comments. Still, asked me to make this jacket for him. I had to go back and look for the hard-to-find video so that I could understand what he was asking me to create.
Simplicity had just published a suitable pattern. Because it’s not exactly the same, and no stretch in the fabric, I needed to make it larger. He also requested a quilted lining similar to his work jackets. I ordered some quilted lining from a company called Wawak.
Once I got everything assembled, I started cutting. Then it was a matter of putting pieces together. As I sewed, things became more difficult, heavier, and harder to handle. I used an ultra-heavy-duty 1975 Kenmore sewing machine that was gifted to me last year. But I took my time, and late on a cold Sunday night, I finished it, a week before Christmas.
BF was thrilled and wore it to work the next day. He received many compliments, including from two women who also sew. In fact, he wore it for two days, because it was so cold before it warmed up. When it became warm and he isn’t wearing it, the cat nestles comfortably in the hood or on top of the scratchy wool.
Later I posted pictures in the Facebook group for The McCall’s Pattern Company. BF was delighted to see that his post garnered more than 600 likes. There were also more than 100 nice comments from fellow sewing enthusiasts.
Now that I’ve finished it, I can return to cutting and sewing my own things. I have two big blue IKEA bags full of projects to cut, plus two more full of cut and ready-to-make projects. There is also a bag or two of projects I’m either going to cut later or I need something else to finish, such as outer fabric for a purse.
I also want to finish a queen-sized quilt I started in Houston. I’m not a quilter, so it’s a big deal. I pinned it up in Neighbor E’s living room because he has a non-carpeted floor and a bigger living room space than I had.
RIP Spencer, The Garbage Gobbler
One of the unhappy things that happened since my last dispatch was the loss of BF’s little dog, Spencer. He was a 14-year-old rust-colored mutt, about 25 pounds. He was as friendly as all get-out, no matter how fiercely he barked when someone knocked on the door.
The dog previously belonged to someone else, and BF acquired him not long after moving into the Casa de Rurale in 2010. BF had another dog at the time, and not long after that one passed, the beloved pit bull came along. Through it all, Spencer just wanted to be friends, because friends share their snacks, right?
Even when the cat took a few swipes at him or jumped him like the mighty African lion taking down a gazelle on the savannah, he didn’t mind a bit. Because, after all, the cat was playing with him. The cat lost, but Spencer was always ready to play or try what you’re eating.
Spencer was always hungry, or so it seemed. Anytime you were in the kitchen doing something, we’d be right there with his metronome of a tail. It doesn’t matter if you were getting a cup of coffee, cutting onions, or washing dishes, he was ready for you to share it with him. I thought I was going to break my neck when I fell over him a few times when he was looking for food. But he just knew I had something tasty he would enjoy. He just didn’t know what it was.
I also had to watch out for him–the cat litter box held amazing mysteries he couldn’t believe. I finally turned the darn thing around so Tab E. Cat has to go under a chair to get in it and keep Spencer out.
I considered buying the Dash doggie treat maker many months ago but only got it because it was on sale before Christmas. Spencer would have been all over me if I’d made treats for him, and he’d know immediately what it was. At least the pit bull is polite about asking for one.
Spencer also scarfed his share of cat food when Tab E. Cat wasn’t looking.
Where have we seen this before? Oh, yes—Jezebel the Step Kitty, may she rest in peace.
I started taking Spencer out for walks earlier this year. It was spring, after the changeover to Daylight Savings Time. The pit bull weighs 85 pounds, but I just can’t handle the lovable lap dog. Because if he sees a bunny crossing the road and wants to follow, you too are going follow the little bunny. So, I had to stick with just walking the little guy.
Spencer and I enjoyed going out for those walks, sometimes as long as two miles. But I had to quit when I developed a painful heel condition. Called Achilles tendinitis, it’s one of those things that I have to let heal on its own (and it still hurts). There are some at-home treatments I need to try soon because I’m still limping a little.
Unfortunately, the daily walk with Spencer ended in pain until my heel would get better, so I thought. He wasn’t going to let that stop him. One evening I let the dogs out to go see BF upon his return from work. Spencer decided to take himself out for a walk, trotting off like it was no big deal. BF had to chase him down the street to catch him because he was fast.
The Free Spirit
There have been a few times where Spencer got loose and went off by himself, casually trotting back home when the spirit moved him. When I first moved here, he went on a jaunt and someone found him, then tied him on a short leash to a tree—no food, water, or shelter. We didn’t know where he went, and he was gone for four days. We heard him howling and barking but didn’t know how to find him. Fortunately, the weather was good.
I went looking for him one afternoon and found him on someone’s property just across the road. Immediately I leashed him, untied him, and brought him back. He drank so much water we thought he was going to sink. I fed him right away because I knew he was hungry. That’s when we started keeping a closer eye on our little free spirit.
Later he managed to lose one of his eyes, and somehow broke one of his incisors. He didn’t care, as long as you had something tasty for him.
The First Taste Of Gourmet
Longtime readers may remember my discovery of Nigella Lawson’s delicious sweet potato supper, cooked in the oven on a sheet pan on top of parchment paper. Well, after BF discovered how much bacon was involved, he liked it, asparagus and all.
So did Spencer.
This dish is cooked at 425F for an hour. The pan is very hot when it comes out of the oven. Even with a potholder, it can burn you. So, it sat out on the counter, on a cork trivet. Unfortunately, it was on the lower counter that Spencer could reach.
While we were enjoying this delicious dinner at the table, BF heard the rustle-crackle-crinkle of the parchment paper and immediately knew what happened. Spencer was in the kitchen investigating the pan with the rest of dinner. “Oh, NO!” BF said, and walked into the kitchen to find Spencer enjoying his own gourmet cuisine.
Pork Chop Heaven
Another day, BF and I came back from the grocery with a large pack of boneless pork chops bought on sale. When we buy something that big, we divide them up into small freezer bags of two for the big freezer. During the process of adding them into the big freezer, I dropped several. I thought I’d picked them all up.
Later that night, the dogs found the bags and gorged. We presume it was Spencer who found them because he liked sniffing around the freezer looking for anything we missed. He found them and they had raw pork feast during the night. Fortunately, nothing bad happened, and they were both fine. We did have to pick up shards of plastic freezer bags from the living room. That’s when we realized our little sniffer had been busy.
BF’s favorite Spencer story was a couple of years ago. BF likes to fry fish, and it’s how he believes fish should be prepared and eaten. He fried up three large filets of catfish, leaving one piece to take the next day for his lunch. The call came to go down the street to his dad’s house, while we were finishing dinner, so we left quickly. The remaining piece of fish was sitting on a big red plate on top of the stove.
We didn’t think the dogs could reach up there, but they did. We also believe the pit bull flipped the plate onto the floor and it broke since he’s the bigger dog. Both dogs plus the cat had delicious fried catfish for their dinner. BF was so disappointed–they took his lunch! You couldn’t deny that they had consumed the fish because they all had crumbs around their whiskers.
When we discovered what happened, they gave us the look that said, “What?”
A few weeks after the hurricane, on an ordinary morning, I was thinking I should take Spencer out for a walk that very nice day. That’s when Spencer started having trouble walking. Later in the morning, he couldn’t stand up at all. He tried to stand and walk, but he just couldn’t. The poor pup was shaking as if he were cold, even though I had a blanket over him. Lying sideways flat on the floor, his legs were stuck out straight, shaking, alternating between sleeping and trying to move.
He didn’t want to eat his regular food, and I began hand feeding him whatever he would eat and anything he wanted. (The potted meat in a can and the deli-style ham leftover from Labor Day at the fams went over well.) We arranged to take him to a vet we’ve visited before. This vet had a “wait and see” attitude. He gave Spencer a “feel good” shot for pain, plus a couple of other things, which left the poor pup suffering. He didn’t even take an X-Ray.
When we realized he was not getting better, we arranged to go see the local in-town vet but had to wait until the evening.
We didn’t find out until later that LSU in Baton Rouge has a 24/7 walk-in veterinary facility. It’s an hour away, but we could have gone there instead. However, they may have reached the same conclusion.
The Animal Communicator
I was fortunate to be able to talk to a very nice lady named Ami Pope, a Japanese Lady in California who is a trained animal communicator. It’s a long story of how I was introduced to Ami, and her help is greatly appreciated. I was quite upset and just didn’t know what else to do. After a phone call and texting some pictures, Ami very kindly talked to Spencer for me.
Spencer told Ami that he knew something was wrong, but he couldn’t quite tell her what it was. He was OK, she said, and he understood. There was something in his head, he thought. He did not want us to worry about him, even if it was his “time.” She also told him that we were very worried about him, and we didn’t want to lose him, but Spencer told Ami that everything was OK.
I took care of Spencer for about a week, cleaning him up, putting him on a cushion, on a towel, or a blanket, hand-feeding him, and doing anything to make him comfortable. BF was working, so it was up to me. He kept trying to move around, but he could only operate his front legs. Movement was possible, but not what he was used to doing. At one point he could sit up and move his front legs, but he pivoted in a circle propped up on his tailbone.
Without any progress, we took him to the other local vet. Realizing how old Spencer was, he kindly recommended that we send him to the Rainbow Bridge.
So, reluctantly, and with many tears, that’s what we did. I texted BF from the vet’s, picked him up from work, and brought him back to the vet’s office. We hugged Spencer and told him we loved him. I told Spencer to go find my cats, Catmandu and Kismet, and let them know I still miss them after all these years. Both of us held him and petted him so he didn’t feel alone in his last moments.
We were with Spencer when he passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. He seemed comfortable, but he was always that way. The folks at the Kent Veterinary Clinic were very nice and understanding. They wrapped him up for us and we took him home for the last time.
Resting In Peace
After we buried him, Ami had one more talk with Spencer. He told Ami appreciated all the treats, the cushions I made for them, and the walks all the way to the church at the intersection. He loved going for those walks, and I didn’t even realize how much he enjoyed our walking around.
Spencer also told Ami that he also appreciated that we took care of him at the end of his life, instead of letting him go on his own in the backyard. We couldn’t do that to him (or any dog) and we hope we did right by him. BF did the best he could for Spencer and gave him a better life than he might have had otherwise. Spencer appreciated all of it, he said to Ami. I wish we could have done more, but there wasn’t much else we could do.
If you are interested in her animal communication services, contact Ami Pope via her website (scroll down to the bottom), by email at email@example.com, or by phone at 619-655-9494 to set up an appointment. Ami is a very nice lady who loves animals. I highly recommend her services. She works to put people and pets in touch with each other. I can’t say enough about how she talked to Spencer and told us what was happening with him.
Still Making Friends
Spencer was a sweet, likable doggie, and was just friends with everyone. I used to say that my tabby Kismet would purr for the burglars. I think Spencer would have been pretty much the same. He was a free spirit, marching to the beat of his own drum. Not particularly smart, but a lovable dog, who got along with the pit bull, the cat, and nearly anyone who came around, including other dogs.
Spencer is buried under a tree at the back of the property, where he’s had some visitors burrowing in the ground. BF has had to re-bury him a few times. We believe it’s the misguided armadillos that don’t realize they aren’t in Texas. They’ve not pulled him all the way up (he’s well-wrapped) but they’ve come close to going all the way down. But we think Spencer just appreciates the company because he liked everybody.
We miss our little Garbage Gobbler. I wish I could take him out for one more walk.
Until Next Time
Once again, I was chided for something I wrote in this blog, and it happened to be this post. At BF’s request, I’ve edited the passage to appease the offended party. With that, I offer two points:
- HeatCageKitchen is my blog, I pay for it, and I’m constitutionally protected by the First Amendment
- Obsidian vs. Cox, 2011, in which the Ninth Circuit ruled that bloggers are considered “citizen journalists” under the First Amendment, and are thereby protected as such
As one of my lawyer clients pointed out, if you don’t publish anything untrue, you’re good. I did, of course, from three eyewitness accounts. But I suppose recollections vary based on individual perspectives.
A more polite call would have worked much better than what we were subjected to, Girle.
We’re amazed at how many alleged adults act like high school kids. On the other hand, maybe if they keep coming back, they’ll drive more organic traffic!
Anyway. . . .
So, If you’re making resolutions to get healthy, stay tuned for my next blog post.
You’ve undoubtedly seen the commercials for diets, fitness equipment, and other “get your fat butt back into shape” ads airing since Christmas. I’ll tell you about something I bought back in June that’s been a “resolution” since the summer–if I could quit getting injured, of course.
In addition to the new Emilie Bailey book, I also have two other cookbooks to tell you about, one of which I’d call “healthy-ish.” You see that term here and there, which means that something is healthier than it could be, but maybe not perfectly healthy. In other words, less sugar, less flour, or those ingredients are replaced with something else that is healthy.
I’ll be back as soon as I can with another blog post for you, and more posts in 2022.
Happy New Year!