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Ultimate Simple Keto Cookbook
Review: The Ultimate Simple Keto Cookbook

As I mentioned in my last post, Emilie Bailey, aka, The Texas Granola Girl, has a new cookbook. This time, it’s all about the simple keto.

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Ready for more keto recipes? Emilie Bailey has you covered with her newest. I know, I only reviewed her first cookbook just two months ago, but. . .I get around to it. Now, she’s got another cookbook with delicious food for you to enjoy.

We’ve had rain almost daily since April, and everything is growing like wildfire. I’m back to paint-bucket gardening this year, and BF finally mowed over the overgrown parsley from last year’s garden spot. I’ve started more parsley in a bucket, so we should have more soon. Basil is doing well, and I hope to get a few peppers. We’ll see.

Let’s get started.

Watermelon Update

So after I published the last blog, the car-guy growing watermelons stopped by later in the evening. No, he was not notified of the roasted watermelon. Here’s a pic of the original three he gave us:

Three watermelons on the stove

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I first showed him the two books by Emilie Bailey because he, too, eats “keto, mostly.” Then, I asked him why the stickers on the watermelons. It took him 15 minutes to explain, but it’s because:

  • The soil in both upper Tangipahoa and Washington Parishes is ideal for growing these melons
  • The melons grown in this area are highly prized for that reason
  • Older and native local residents are aware of the reputation of “Washington Parish watermelons” and will seek them out
  • Melons grown in Texas and Lucedale, MS, are frequently what you get in our local grocery stores, rather than locally grown
  • Some melons are shipped in from as far away as Florida
  • Those out-of-state melons are usually grown on land that is used continuously for melons, requiring the addition of heavy chemicals to continue growing them in the same fields repeatedly
  • These chemicals are in addition to the pesticides used in the out-of-state crops
  • Even local produce vendors (“fruit stands,” as they’re called here) sell out-of-state melons and pass them off as “locally grown”

He went into great detail about why his melons are better, but I guess that’s to be expected. From his description, I don’t believe his have heavy chemicals in them. (I hope not,  anyway.) Admittedly, they are tasty, and I’d highly recommend one if you find them. But if you’re in Texas, of course, you’d need to find one grown in the Rio Grande Valley, or maybe at Froberg Farms in Alvin. 

The Pantry

Our little pantry needs a re-org,  and it’s not the first time I’ve tidied it up. But a lack of additional shelving and no interest from BF means that I’m totally on my own here.

When I moved in, there was almost nothing in it. After emptying out all the boxes from my kitchen in Houston (thank you, Miss Alice and Neighbor E), the pantry was overflowing. And the beginning of the pandemic last year also saw BF doing some panic-buying, which is in boxes under the counter as well.

I was looking for an ingredient last week and had to pull out several things to get to whatever it was I needed. I removed this from the pantry, which wasn’t mine:

Cornstarch can

Is this any good?

I always buy the stuff in the yellow box, and we have one that I purchased long after the move. So using my amateur detective skills, I decided to investigate further:

Bottom of cornstarch can with 2009 date

Wait–what?

Yup, that’s the bottom of the can. BF says he has no idea where it came from, but I’m pretty sure I know. From his last marriage, that’s where. (The divorce was final in 2008.) I’ve found (and disposed of) his junk mail that was even older. Hopefully, we’ve gotten rid of all that stuff he tossed in a box and took with him. Obviously, this can went out in the trash.

So at some point, one of these days, I need to take everything out, check for the expired and bad stuff, and toss it. If I can talk him into it, some wonderful shelving will make its way into the pantry, and hopefully a coat or two of some nice paint. White is fine, but wouldn’t white shelves with a nice cheery color be even better? Because it’ll be harder to “lose” anything in the back like that.

This isn’t the first time I’ve come across older foodstuffs. I try not to have anything too old in the pantry, but it happens occasionally. The GER’s pantry also got a good cleaning when I moved into his house (almost 20 years ago now), and I tossed out a bag full of very outdated stuff that had just sat unused for many years.

The New Book: The Ultimate Simple Keto Cookbook

Author Emilie Bailey, aka, The Texas Granola Girl, spent part of her pandemic energies on writing two new cookbooks. The first of these books is being released tomorrow and is her second book of delicious recipes.

When I got the email from her list, I immediately signed up to review it. After all, it’s a free book! Well, it’s a good one, too, and I knew it would be. Emilie has been posting regularly on Instagram and sending out emails with new and delicious recipes.

Ultimate Simple Keto Cookbook

The latest!

Yes, there are three recipes with turnips. If you like them, the Classic Fauxtato Salad on page 61 is right up your alley. It’s made with everything you’d use for a regular potato salad, but with turnips. Let me know how it goes.

There are nine chapters, including an intro to keto, desserts (of course), and a chapter on keto staples, such as Easy Alfredo Sauce, Creamy Feta Dressing, Ranch Dressing, Quick Marinara Sauce, and Three-Minute Mayo, using avocado oil. There’s even a Basic Sandwich Bread on page 188.

We tried four recipes when I got this book, and they’re all two thumbs up. So let me tell you about the simple keto recipes I made.

One-Pan Chicken Parmesean, Page 122

We had one chicken breast in the freezer and only needed some mozzarella cheese. I gave BF his instructions and shopping list for this and the next recipe, made for dinner one night. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a full set of pictures, and none for the broccoli recipe. But I got a few.

First, preheat your oven to 400F. Slice two chicken breasts in half horizontally to make four cutlets, then pound them to a quarter-inch thick.

Mix up some parm cheese, Italian seasoning garlic, and a half-teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Brush both sides of the chicken with some keto-friendly mayo, which you can make on page 178 or buy (read the labels of course.) Then drop the chicken in the seasoning mixture to coat, and fry in a large oven-safe skillet:

Chicken frying in pan

Just like this

Cook about five minutes on each side and remove from the heat (I turned it off.) Pour some sugar-free marinara sauce over the chicken. I used Classico Tomato & Basil, but she has a recipe on page 183.

Pouring sauce over chicken

1.5 cups of it

Spread it around:

Spreading marinara sauce over the chicken

All over the chicken

Now sprinkle one an one-half cups of shredded mozzarella (or provolone) cheese over the top:

Mozzarella cheese over top of chicken

Yum!

Into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the chicken is completely cooked.

While that was going on, I did the broccoli at the same time.

Sheet Pan Broccoli, Page 80

The second part of this simple keto dinner has no pictures, but it was a perfect accompaniment to the chicken.

I used the countertop oven, which is preheated to 450 degrees. Chop the broccoli into florets, wash, and set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix:

  • 1.5 tablespoons avocado oil (I used olive because I had it)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2.5 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari (tamari is wheat-free, and so is La Choy soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1.5 teaspoons granulated 1:1 sweetener (I’ll explain next section)

Mix this up, and then add the drained broccoli. Toss it around well, then drop it on the baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, until the broccoli is tender. Toss halfway through the cooking time. Serve hot.

This recipe calls for 2 heads of broccoli, but I halved the recipe for me and BF, as I did with the chicken. Oddly, though, it’s a good thing I forgot to halve the seasoning and other ingredients for the chicken because it needed all of it.

Simple keto Dinner on red plate with chicien and broccoli

This was a fantastic and simple keto dinner

I did forget to sprinkle sesame seeds over the broccoli. Next time. Amazingly, he loved both and declared them “winners.” One more in our dinner rotation.

Classic Fudgy Brownies, Page 173

This was actually the first recipe I made. Does anyone want dessert? Once again, I had everything I needed to make these brownies, except butter. BF was instructed to get some on the way home from work because this recipe takes 1.5 sticks of butter. Oh, YEAH.

Now, one difference is that Emilie calls for 1:1 sweetener here and in the broccoli seasoning. What this means is that it’s a blend of sweeteners, frequently erythritol and monk fruit, to taste just like sugar. I wanted to try this one and had good success with it here: 

Sugar in the raw blended sweetener

One of many natural sweeteners available now

This is the ingredient list: 

Back of the package

See, at the top, it says 1:1, because it measures like sugar.

This is what’s in it:

Ingredients list

And if you’re diabetic–there you go!

Making Brownies

These come together in a snap and bake up nicely.

Ingredients for Classic Brownies

The Setup

With eight ingredients, you can have delicious keto brownies. I know, I know–you can buy a boxed mix too. Read the ingredients on that box, that’s all I’m saying.

So you’ll preheat the oven to 350F, and line the bottom of an 8×8 pan with a bit of parchment paper.

Parchment square in pan

You have to weight it, otherwise, the parchment goes sailing to the floor.

Chop up the butter and chocolate:

Chocolate and butter chopped in bowl

And melt together in the microwave, slowly and carefully, in 30-second intervals. Watch it so it doesn’t boil over or make a mess. What comes out is this:

Butter and melted chocolate

Stir them together:

Melted chocolate and butter stirred together

Ta-dah!

And set aside to cool for a bit.

Get Mixing–Wet Ingredients

So now you blend together the sweetener and chocolate mixture together, then the eggs, which must be room temp or it’ll make a big mess at this stage:

Mixing Chocolate And Sweetener

Like so

Now the eggs, one at a time.

Blending eggs and chocolate

Now add vanilla. If you’re lucky, you have some of this:

Pouring vanilla into brownie mix

Right in there, a teaspoon

Blend it well:

Blending vanilla into the mixture with a hand mixer

Almost there

Mix until the batter is smooth, and proceed to the next stage.

Dry Ingredients

Into another bowl, mix up a cup of almond flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, and a quarter-teaspoon of kosher salt:

Mixture eof almon flour, baking powedere and kosher salt

Just whisk to combine. (Obviously, I mixed while the chocolate was cooling a little.)

Now add into the wet ingredients. I prefer to do this a cup or so at a time so I don’t have it all over the kitchen.

Mixing dry ingreients into the wet

Like so.

Once it’s all incorporated, mix well, but don’t over-mix it.

Mixed brownie batter

Yum!

Time to spread it into the pan. Now, remember that you have one and a half sticks of butter here, so greasing isn’t necessary. My guess is the parchment paper is there as an assistant to make sure they all come out.

Spreading brownie batter into pan

This batter is quite thick, so it needs help

Into the oven at 350F degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, “until the center is just set but still jiggles”:

Brownies going into countertop oven for 25 minutes

Here we go!

This is what it looks like coming out of the oven:

Freshly baked hot brownies

Don’t cut into them just yet

You must let them cool for about 15 minutes on a rack, then refrigerate them for 35 minutes or longer before you cut them:

Brownies cut into 16

Now you can have one

I would say maybe 45 minutes because they were still warm and crumbled apart when I removed one from the pan. One of BF’s car-guy friends, this one a millennial, happened to be visiting and tried one. His father is doing keto, so he knows what that is. BF tried one in the next day or two and said it was “good, but dry.” There’s a reason for that.

Remember that when you refrigerate them for a longer time, the butter in the brownies will harden up, so they’ll be a bit on the dry side. However, they will stick together quite nicely, and taste just as delicious.

Of course, I loved them. Can’t wait to make more!

Cheeseburger Casserole, Page 137

Ok, I know, I said I “don’t do casserole,” but this is too tasty to pass up. Ground beef, onions, cream, and cheddar cheese–what’s not to like? Even he couldn’t say no to this one. Last week, we made it. But I didn’t take as many pictures as I intended.

First, brown a pound of 80% lean ground beef on the stove with onion and garlic for ten minutes:

Browning beef with onion and garlic

When it looks like this:

Cooked and browned beef in a cast iron skillet

Like this.

If there is any grease, drain it, then add the browned ground beef mixture to the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan or 9-inch square baking dish. Like the blackberry cobbler, I used 8-inch because that’s what I had.

Mix in a medium bowl 4 eggs, 5 tablespoons of tomato paste, a half-cup of heavy whipping cream, a half-teaspoon of kosher salt, and a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground pepper:

Adding salt to bowl

Mix this up really well, since this is the sauce

Add in a cup of shredded or grated cheddar cheese:

Adding grated cheddar cheese

Cheese makes nearly everything better, doesn’t it?

Mix well:

Cheese in sauce

Stir again

Baking

Now add to the pan:

Pouring cheese sauce into pan

Here we go!

Spread it over the top:

Spread sauce around

it will sink down a little, so mix it around if any beef is uncovered.

Add the remaining half-cup of cheddar cheese:

Cheese topping

SO good!

Make sure it’s covered:

Covered with cheese

Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it’s set and looks like this:

Baked cheeseburger casserole

Delicious!!

Cutting cheeseburger casserole

An easy, one-pan dinner

This recipe makes four generous servings, and we had dinner one night and lunch the next day.

Dinnere is served!

Dinner is served!

BF really enjoyed this one, and I’ll be making this more often, too.

After All That Cooking

Did I have a mess to clean up:

Dishes in sink

The dishes never stop

But the mighty dishwasher of the HeatCageKitchen took care of it:

Countertop dishwasher full

Still working like a champ

And it was a good night.

Until Next Time

Many thanks to Emilie Bailey for the gifted book, which will not collect dust. The next recipe I want to try is Creamy Parmesean Pork Chops on 151. Maybe I’ll wait until we have a dinner guest to try it with either the broccoli or another side from the book.

I emailed her to thank her for the book, and to let her know what we made. She responded that her favorites are the Creamy Cabbage Alfredo on page 96, and the Osso Bucco on page 140. Cabbage? Oh, he’s not going to like that. Move that to the “Drag Week Menu.”

If you’re looking for some delicious and easy keto food, this is your book. And if you don’t eat keto but want some easy, delicious food that simple, this is also your book. Or if you want to impress friends and family while sticking to simple keto recipes, Emilie’s book has got you covered there, too.

The new book is available on Amazon and other book outlets (yes, that’s my affiliate link) tomorrow (July 13th) and is currently available as a Kindle book. I’ll be posting my review there shortly.

Enjoy!!

 

Slice of blackberry cobbler
Review: The Southern Keto Cookbook

Keto? Southern Cooking? The two don’t normally go together. But if you’re The Texas Granola Girl, they certainly do. I’ll tell you all about it.

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Hi, Again Dear Readers:

It’s been a busy week again, and I thought a cookbook review was a good idea, especially for those who are doing keto. And if you’re in Texas, you’ll enjoy this one.

In response to my last post on the delicious Tex-Mex cauliflower rice dish that BF didn’t like, I received two responses. The first, from Aunt Ruth, who was quite complimentary. She might even try it one day. However, the second email came from the GER, who proclaimed, “BARFO! YUCK OH!” I used to cook for the GER. Like BF, if I didn’t tell him it was cauliflower, the reaction would have likely been different.

Incidentally, if you ever come to visit and see this on the kitchen counter:

Can of dog food on counter

Don’t panic.

Understand that it’s not part of any recipe. It’s just sitting there. That’s where we leave it when we get home from pet food supply runs at Tractor Supply. Honest.

Lots to tell, so let’s get started.

Alvin Calhoun’s Funeral

As I mentioned in the last blog, Baton Rouge barbecue master Alvin Calhoun passed away. The funeral was Friday the 14th at Winfield Funeral Home on Plank Street in Baton Rouge.

I was already planning to run some errands in Baton Rouge that Friday. BF was off work, and so the stars were in alignment for us to go.

BF and I went to pay our respects and see him one more time during the visitation period but didn’t stay for the service. We met with his son Davin and his wife Kim, nice people just like Alvin. I downloaded the picture of him onto my phone and sent it to her, along with the blog so they could read it. Davin will be continuing the business they started, and BF will be bringing some motor parts to them soon.

We went to the front of the chapel to see Alvin, and I chanted quietly with him for just a minute. He was well-liked, of course, and there were lots of people there. I couldn’t sit and chant with him for too long, but I did chant a little.

Alvin was dressed in a tasteful suit, and he looked good. In fact, he looked just like we remember him. Of course, we won’t forget him, either.

Friday’s Errands

After the funeral, we proceeded with our errands. It was going to be one, but since we were in the Capital City anyway, it ended up being a “day trip.”

My five-year-old vacuum cleaner needs a new electrical cord, and I made multiple phone calls to try and get it done. Finally, I found someone who would work on it for me without semantics. No kidding–one guy I talked to whined because I told him I had a higher-end Bissell. I found someone else. Once I figured out where I was headed, Friday was the day.

We did make it to Trader Joe’s, and we had to wear masks to go in. They were nice about it, as they always are. They’ve just dropped that requirement this week, though, nationwide. I saw lots of lovely new things, and they even had little cups of ready-to-eat “overnight oatmeal.” More on that later in this blog.

BF has finally set foot in Cost Plus World Market, where I buy his favorite British cookies, Jammie Dodgers. He had no idea what they were until I brought some home one day. They’re a favorite now, right behind Oreos.

And for the next time I make pesto, I found this lifesaver with a slightly curved end:

Blending spatula

Where has this BEEN all my life?

I mean, REALLY–the blades in my blender have left cuts in my other spatulas, but now I don’t have to ruin any more of them. It’s about the same length as my others:

Blender spatual full length

Can’t wait to use this!

It wasn’t expensive. Kitchenaid has a similar model, but I didn’t know that either. Next door is Joann’s, where I got some buttons for two projects and two on-sale patterns.

I also replaced my years-old coffee grinder that blew up the other night.

Bodum coffee grinder with box

Similar to the previous model

Wish I’d bought this a long time ago–it’s much quieter than the older one and doesn’t scare the cat. Bed, Bath & Beyond has some very high-end expensive models, and. . .I went to Target for this $20 model.

During a quick FaceTime call to BF, while I was out shopping recently, he told his manager at work that “there’s a whole other world that Amy’s in that I’m not familiar with.” (She waved at me, too.) Now he’s been introduced to a couple of those places. After a stop at a local outdoorsman place, the feeling is mutual. But I did pass on those locally-made dog treats they had made with nutria meat. Nutria is a large rodent creature that is an invasive species mistakenly introduced into the US, and thrives in coastal states like Louisiana. I don’t think even our dogs would touch those treats. Ever.

New Sprouts Market In Baton Rouge

We were headed home and what did I see? A new Sprouts Market! I had no idea!

I never made it to the Sprouts that, um, sprouted, in Houston before I left. Longtime friend of the blog LK visited the one near Pearland on Old Chocolate Bayou Road when they first opened. I meant to go, but I never made it. Or maybe I was afraid to because of all the great stuff they have and I didn’t have money for all that. Oh, well. There are now 49 Sprouts Markets throughout Texas, and Louisiana just got one.

I’ll be stopping in next trip and giving a full report, finally.

Low Caffeine Movement?

It seems that drinking high-octane coffee during the pandemic has led to something unintended–caffeine overload. Now one company wants to help with that. 

New startup Buzz Lite recognizes that coffee lovers don’t like caffeine overdoses and offers an alternative. It looks like the millennials are leading the way, but lower-dose caffeine can benefit those with high blood pressure and other caffeine-induced issues.

Yeah, OK, I’ll just go ahead and admit that I can get downright grouchy if I OD on caffeine. BF just ducks and sneaks out the back door to get to the garage.

What’s Amy been drinking with her decaf since she got here? Community Coffee’s Half-Caff Ground Coffee. Add about a half tablespoon or so into the decaf and it’s just fine. No burning my stomach or anything, and I get enough “boost.” It’s when I add full-strength coffee or have a cup of very strong tea that I start reaching for the Tums.

Half-caff has been around for a while, and it just takes knowing how much you can tolerate without bad side effects. I’m glad I’m not the only one, though.

Buzz Lite Coffee is currently only available online, but may eventually be as widely available as other brands of coffee.

The Texas Granola Girl

What happens when a Texas ranch girl goes keto and starts a blog? You get The Southern Keto Cookbook.

The cookbook has been available since last year and is one of those wonderful titles I received from my year-long Callisto benefit. I’ve made a few recipes from this book, and I always want to make something else and get BF to eat it. He just told family members his philosophy of my cooking over the weekend: “Stay ALERT! Stay ALIVE.” Not all of it is bad, though.

Emilie Bailey is a rancher’s wife in a city north of Dallas. She cooks and works on the ranch with her husband and two daughters. She’s a seventh-generation Texan and is also a former restauranteur. After a health diagnosis of inflammation for both her and one daughter, she began creating keto recipes that are just as enjoyable as their non-keto counterparts.

Here are a few that I’ve made since receiving this book.

Keto Green Chile Cauliflower Rice Bake

Well, on page 64-65, is a recipe I think I tried first, and even BF liked it (mostly because of the Monterey Jack Cheese.) Tasty, cheesy, and a nice touch with the can of green chiles.

Adapted from Emilie’s mother’s rice dish, it’s a creamy, delicious side dish that’s easy to make and good anytime. I haven’t made it since last year, so I need to make it again.

NOTE: you must cook the cauliflower rice prior to making this dish. I speak from experience. That’s why there’s a bit of yellow highlighter and a note to make sure I don’t forget.

Keto Turnips? NO

Ok, I hate to rain on this parade, but turnips and I do not get along.

Emilie has six recipes for turnips, including one I tried on pages 66-67 for Cheesy “Hash-Brown” Casserole.  Turnips are used here as a substitute for potatoes. One of our neighbors grew turnips in his garden last year and brought over a bunch. Well, this was the first recipe I tried.

Never again.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad recipe at all. And I know there are people who just love turnips. Not me. BF wouldn’t try it, so I ate it all week. Well, until it made me horribly sick.

As I mentioned in the post on cauliflower rice, I’ve made mac & cheese with cauliflower many times. I need to make that again sometime. But the turnips nauseated me!

Maybe it’s because I ate it every day for a few days. I’ve never eaten turnips that much or that often. Much as I like this book, I have to pass on those six recipes. If you like turnips, you’ve got six recipes to enjoy with them.

Granny’s Blackberry Cobbler, Keto Version

Now here’s one sweet treat we can all get into.

Dessert is always essential, and Emilie doesn’t disappoint here, either. Allow me to show you a dessert that I like because it’s tasty and keto, and BF likes it because it’s sweet and tasty. 

We have blackberries growing all around the property. When they start to ripen, I pick and pick and pick until the cycle is over. Right now on the other side of the garage, there is a mass of the little berries I’m anxious to see ripen so I can pick them all. One reason is I want them is for a cup for this delicious blackberry cobbler on page 176. If I pick enough I can freeze them and make this anytime.

Note that the pit bull loves these little berries, and will eat them off the vine if I show them where they are.

The Keto Dessert Time

There is a quart-sized bag of frozen berries from last year that I forgot to use up, so I decided to make one this week. I let the berries thaw for a few hours prior to baking. They were juicy, and they worked just fine.

Ingredients minus sweetener

The Setup

Of course, I forgot one essential ingredient:

Sweetener bag erythritol

This is essential, of course.

Emilie, like many keto authors, uses a blend of this and monk fruit, but I don’t have any right now. So because I didn’t think it was sweet enough, I added a bit of my secret weapon “booster.”

Bottle of liquid stevia in my hand

Liquid Stevia

One of the biggest differences this time is that I decided to use almond MEAL instead of almond FLOUR, as I normally do. This may be why it didn’t bake in the recommended time, and I had to put it back for another 20 minutes. But it came out just fine. 

Making Cobbler

There are a few steps, but it’s not difficult. First, mix the dry ingredients and whisk them together:

Whisking dry ingredients together

Just like this

Then start adding in the wet ingredients:

Adding sour cream

I did this out of sequence but it came out fine. Next up: a stick of melted butter:

adding eggs

And three eggs, whisked and beaten well:

pouring eggs into the mix

Right in.

Pouring almond milk

Almond milk instead of regular dairy? Yes.

Finishing

Spraying baking pan

Don’t forget the cooking spray!

Now add the very thick batter into the baking pan:

Spreading batter into baking pan

I had to do this, it was that thick.

Now add the blackberries–sprinkle them over the top:

Sprinkling blackberries

One cup, but I wish I’d added a little more

Next, you press the blackberries into the batter a little, so that they’re still visible but “stuck” in the batter.

Berries pressed into batter

Like this.

Mix up a tablespoon of the sweetener (no stevia here) and a quarter-teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and sprinkle that over the top.

Spreading cinnamon topping

It makes a nice sweet and crunchy topping

And Bake!

At 350F degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s baked, “or until the top is golden brown.”

Blackberrycobblerbaked

Ta-dah!

You must let this cool for a good 30 minutes before cutting into 9 squares and serving.

Slice of blackberry cobbler

It is as good as it looks.

Emilie also suggests serving with fresh whipped cream, but we didn’t do that.

I did, however, let our dinner guest TT know that while he was welcome to try some, it’s keto, gluten-free, and not what he might be expecting based on the Instant Pot chocolate cake. He said that he was full, and left shortly thereafter. The Boy had also come by to work on a motor, stayed for dinner, and was going to try some but ended up forgetting. 

BF didn’t. I might make another one next week.

Oh, and if it’s cold from the fridge, warm it in the microwave. You’re welcome.

Two Things

This cobbler look longer to bake than I remember from last year’s, but there are two factors that likely affected it:

  • First, I used a pan that was 8″ by 8″, not the 9″ x 9″ suggested in the recipe. That’s what I have on hand.
  • Second, I used almond meal instead of fine almond flour made from skinned almonds. It makes a heavier and denser batter, I think, and that probably was the main reason for the longer time required.

It was still good.

Followup: The Overnight Oats Post

Last week I served BF dinner and said, “I wouldn’t feed you anything bad.” He responded, “what about quinoa? And the Awful Falafel?

Remember my post on overnight oatmeal about five years ago? I wrote this when I was living in Houston, and told BF about it on one of our nightly calls. I suggested that he try overnight oatmeal for himself. It would be perfect for a single guy living alone. Breakfast–done! Well, that’s what one thinks.

Five months after I moved here, the weather warmed up in February, and I decided to make it one night. The next morning, I went where BF was snoozing with the cat, and I asked, “Honey, would you like to try some overnight oatmeal?” Rolling over and half awake, he says, “hmmm, sure.” I gave him a bite and got a reaction I wasn’t expecting. He was then wide awake when he said:

“AAAAAHHHH!!! That’s disgusting! It tastes like cat vomit! AAAAAHHHH!!!!”

Yeah, OK, I guess you didn’t like it. Thanks for the unvarnished opinion, as always. Believe me when I tell you that I still giggle when I think about this pivotal day in our relationship history.

To Anyone Who Will Listen

BF likes to tell HIS side of the story frequently, most often to coworkers. It was at that point that he began telling AK and then everyone, “she’s tryin’ ta kill me!” I’ve been offered my own opportunity to tell the story from my side on a few occasions. However, the conflict comes down to one factor: BF never read the original blog post.

So last week, I looked it up and read it to him. Finally, he understands that overnight oatmeal is served cold and that I like it with chocolate, peanut butter, agave syrup, and a few other things. You can make it with a wide variety of ingredients, customized to your own tastes. BF is so used to the packaged “instant” stuff that he doesn’t know how to make it for himself. Why would he, when there is such a thing as “instant microwave oatmeal?” Never mind that it has 6,000 grams of sugar and a host of other chemicals that you might not want to eat. 

Well, we keep soldiering on, as two imperfect people who don’t give up on each other.

Until Next Time

Whether or not you’re doing keto, I highly recommend The Southern Keto Cookbook by Emilie Bailey. The food is good, pretty easy to make, and enjoyable whether or not you’re from the South. I want to make so many more, like the Roasted Poblano Cauliflower “Mac” & Cheese on page 78 and the Texas Taco Hash on page 168. But there is. . .well, never mind. It looks tasty, for me, anyway.

Turnip lovers may like this book for the six recipes alone, but the entire book has plenty of great recipes we’ll be enjoying for a long time. And it’s all healthy, keto-friendly, and uses ingredients that are generally easy to find, even in this part of Louisiana.

Emilie’s newest blog post was just posted today. What’s she cooking up? Keto Rice Pudding, with, no kidding, cauliflower rice. You’ll have to read it to believe it, and I need to find whatever allulose sweetener is, order it, or make it with what I have here. Dairy-free, her newest dessert uses full-fat coconut milk and almond milk. It’s just so crazy I have to try it, and BF can have his Jammie Dodgers.

Happy Dining, Y’all!

Low Carb Mexican Cauliflower Rice in a bowl
Mexican Cauliflower Rice (Keto/Low-Carb)

Cauliflower rice is a tasty dish for low-carb and keto eaters. I recently found a dish that uses it for Taco Tuesday or anytime you want something with a delicious Tex-Mex flavor. Let’s get started.

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Finally, I want to tell you about another fast dinner recipe that’s good anytime. IF you don’t have a fussy eater like BF.

R2D2 And Cauliflower Rice

In my big Instant Pot post, I mentioned the Etsy shop that makes wraps to turn your ordinary IP into something else. In our case, mine became R2D2, because BF is such a Star Wars fan. It just made sense. And, let’s face it, it’s funny. However, I neglected to post pictures of what mine looks like dressed up as a droid:

IP with R2D2 wrap

Isn’t it cute?

I just happened to look on Etsy and found it. Becky has a wide range of them.

Left side of IP with R2D2 wrap

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

I haven’t tried any cauliflower rice recipes in the IP yet, but Corrie Cooks has a recipe for IP Spicy Cauliflower Rice. I’ll try that soon, even if just to use the machine for something that night.

Oh, and that little spot to the left of the IP? That’s a little burn mark. I’ll take care of it soon. My many-year-old coffee grinder blew last night.

POW!

I plugged it into the wall socket and heard a loud POP and a bright flash of light. Scared the bejeezus out of me.  BF was in the living room and saw the flash.  I showed it to him, and he said, “well, you got your money’s worth out of it.”  We looked at the underside and saw that the copper wires were exposed, and I suppose touched when I plugged it in. Into the trash can it went.

If I remember correctly, I bought it while I was working at Boeing so that had to be prior to 2012. So it’s time for another one.

Cauliflower: The “New” Vegetable

So, again, I read many blogs, both on social media and in email. One that I discovered a few years ago and only recently rediscovered was Carolyn Ketchum of All Day I Dream About Food. Her blogs are all about low-carb, keto, and gluten-free foods.

This delicious one-skillet dish popped up on Facebook or Instagram one day, with a graphic that said it was “keto.” Seeing as we were getting onto Taco Tuesday, I thought we could do this instead. So, without telling BF what I was doing, I set out to make it for us.

What Is Cauliflower Rice?

Now, cauliflower rice is this new thing that keto and low-carb folks do to eat something that looks like rice, and when properly cooked, acts like it. However, it’s infinitely lower in carbohydrates and takes on the flavors that you add to it. Suddenly, cauliflower is “having a moment,” and it’s the “newest” vegetable on the foodie scene.

I’ve found these recipes in a search on The Pioneer Woman’s website:

Of course, you could search for recipes anywhere, like Pinterest, or any blog you like. Flip a coin in any direction, you’ll likely land on a recipe for it that’s different than mine and everyone else’s.

You can buy all sorts of cauliflower-based things now, including my favorite, Caulipower Pizza. The company has added a range of new and healthier foods, including riced cauliflower, sweet potato toasts, tortillas, chicken tenders, and pastas.

Basic Cauliflower Rice

I’ve made the cauli-rice a few times, and honestly, I could eat it every day the way people around here eat white rice. If you have a food processor, you wash and cut a whole cauliflower head into florets, and grind it up until it looks like grains of rice. From here you can do a number of things with it, like the recipe I’ll describe shortly. Or, if you don’t want to mess with it, you can buy it already ground into bits:

Bagged Cauliflower Rice

You don’t have to do it yourself–it’s available ready to cook.

I can’t believe we can buy this here. I’m very glad our local Winn-Dixie carries it. I haven’t looked for it in either Walmart or Rouse’s yet. What you get is perfectly chopped cauliflower:

Open bag of cauliflower rice

You might think it’s white rice, but it isn’t.

It’s still raw cauliflower, of course, but it cooks quickly.

Holding a little cauliflower rice

See?

Cooking Cauli-Rice

To make cauli-rice as a side dish for nearly anything, it’s really simple:

Ingredients for cauli rice

The setup

Heat your pan on medium-high, then add in the oil and butter:

oil and butter heating in pan

Melt the butter in the oil like so.

When it’s melted completely, add in the cauliflower rice:

Pouring cauli rice into skillet

Here we go.

Stir it around and add in some salt and pepper:

Grinding pepper into caulirice

Grind it fresh or from a jar.

As always, use a light touch on salt. You can always add more if it’s not salty enough. Keep stirring for five to seven minutes:

Stir frying cauli rice

Cook it until the cauliflower is just softened:

Cooking cauli-rice

It doesn’t take long

And enjoy it with all manner of keto or low-carb dishes, or pretty much anything you like–even if it’s not keto. I served this with the Instant Pot pot roast I blogged about last week.

Cooking it like this takes out the “chalky” taste that BF doesn’t like–as well as Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, no kidding.

Low-Carb Mexican Cauliflower Rice In A Skillet

This dish was almost as easy as making regular cauliflower rice.

MexicanCauliRiceIngredients

The setup

So I got all the ingredients together and got started. This is one of those times I wish I hadn’t told BF what was in it until later. He doesn’t appreciate it when I buy grass-fed beef or anything organic.

One packet of organic ground beef

I get it when I can.

I did just a little prep work to make the cooking process easier, as I always try to do:

Cut veg and measured ingredients

It’s worth the trouble

Since it’s Taco Tuesday, there is the appropriate cheese:

Mexican cheese blend

This is easy, but you could use plain cheddar too.

The Process

Start browning your ground beef:

Ground beef browning in cast iron skillet

Just like you would if you were making tacos

Drop in the chopped onion and bell pepper:

Adding  pepper and onions into the pan

Now cook for a few minutes until they soften and the meat is no longer pink.

Cooking veg in ground beef

Add in the taco seasoning:

Adding taco seasoning

If you like the packet stuff, go for it. You can also use any kind of taco seasoning you like, or mix one up.

Step Two

Now add your chopped tomatoes:

Adding tomatoes into pot

And the cauliflower rice:

Adding cauliflower rice to skillet

Stir a little, then add the half-cup of chicken broth:

Pouring broth into skillet

Now reduce the heat to medium-low, and let it cook until the cauli-rice is done. This should take about eight minutes if it’s raw, and ten minutes if it’s frozen, according to Carolyn.

Cheese!

Now take that cheese and sprinkle it on:

Hand sprinkling cheese into pot

Almost there

You should have enough to cover the top:

Top layer of cheese in cast iron  skillet

Now put a lid on it until the cheese melts:

Lid on pot

And dinner is served!

Pan of Mexican Cauliflower Rice

Meat. Cheese. Taco seasoning. Cauliflower Rice. Any questions?

You can serve it with your favorite toppings like avocado and sour cream. If you have others not eating keto, tortillas, tortilla chips, or other non-keto things will be great too. Or, you can have it just like this.

Low Carb Mexican Cauliflower Rice in a bowl

Dinnertime!

Not the neatest picture ever, but it was delish. I don’t care what BF says.

New rule of thumb: do NOT tell BF what’s in it until he tries it!

If you’re interested, Carolyn Ketchum also has some additional recipes for cauliflower rice on her website. You can read more about Carolyn on her About page.

New Taco Tuesday Options!

Sure, tacos are delicious, but you don’t have to eat them every single week. It’s always nice to have another recipe that has the Tex-Mex flavors as another dinner option.

Since you’ll make it in one pan, dinner will be ready in about thirty minutes, so it’s great for a weeknight or a fast dinner on a weekend. And it’s healthy, too.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten free chocolate cake
The Accidental Hiatus

Hiatus. I didn’t intend to, but I took one.

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Hi, Again, Dear Readers:

It’s time for another “oops, I haven’t blogged in a while” post. It was an accidental hiatus.

The Quiet Holidays

During the hiatus, The Holidays arrived and left quickly. It’s cold here, frequently below 30F in the mornings, but look who showed up:

Robin in frosted grass

Isn’t he cute? I think there’s a nest somewhere. That’s frost on the grass, not snow. I’m still praying for snow.

Last year brought some changes in dynamics for us, and Thanksgiving was, indeed, us with his friend TT up the road. The Boy spent his holiday with his grandmother, which was good, and everyone else was elsewhere. We heard absolutely nothing from any family members, including BF’s brother, who lives on the other side of town. That’s OK.

We also attended the holiday party for BF’s work, and it was nice to see everyone again. I brought a batch of Joan’s Broccoli Madness, which went over well. Nobody had ever heard of Sweet Tomatoes, so I had to explain it.

Didn’t know you could make “fudge” with frosting from a can, some kind of nuts, and peanut butter all mixed together. That was interesting.

Joan’s Broccoli Madness returned when BF’s sister and brother-in-law drove in from Atlanta. They came for Christmas and left the day after New Year’s. For dinner with them, I also made some chocolate shortbread fingers from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. I certainly made friends with those, and BF thought they were great.

His sister and brother-in-law should be making a trip back this way in the next month or so. Maybe I’ll make more Joan’s Broccoli Madness again. It’s SO good.

Christmas Presents

Ok, BF and I give each other little presents all the time, so getting a “big Christmas present” is kind of silly. He took care of several things in the house for us in 2020, so expecting a big, expensive anything would be a bit ridiculous.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t actually buy anything. From 9DollarShirts on Etsy, I bought him this:

BIGFOOT TSHIRT I Want To Believe T-Shirt Funny Mens Kids image 1

Because he’s a big fan of BigFoot. I catch him watching BigFoot videos on YouTube all the time. He even upgraded his phone so he could see them better. (Well, that and he needed to upgrade anyway, the apps were failing.) It did arrive on time for Christmas, and he didn’t know until I gave it to him.

But for me, BF got something a little different:

Blue Snapon sherpa blanket

So now I have something from Snap-On

Yes, that’s a sherpa blanket with the words Snap-On imprinted into the top fabric. Very soft and fuzzy.

Inside of sherpa blanket

Warm and snuggly!!

Seems he was buying some of their cool car-guy gifts for his brother and brother-in-law when this caught his eye. But I know what really happened–it was on the truck and he said to the company rep, “I’ll take one of these for the little woman.” No real thought went into “what to get Amy for Christmas.” It was an opportunity that presented itself and he took advantage.

I think it’s funny.

After washing, I took a nap with it–and slept like a big cat. I couldn’t wake up! Since then BF has tried it and had the same experience. Later he told me that the Snap-On representative who sold it to him said that when you take that nap, plan on spending all day on the couch. No kidding.

Let’s see what he finds next year.

2020 Isn’t Really Over

Well, it’s February, and the last time I blogged was November. Sorry about the hiatus.

You remember 2020, yes? We haven’t indulged in the Jack Daniels Tennessee Apple, and we never bought any, either. But that doesn’t mean 2021 is going any better.

We all had hopes that 2021 would bring improvements, but that hasn’t really happened. The pandemic is still going on, and lots of people are getting the vaccine. But so far, it’s a continuation of 2020–on steroids.

Six days into the new year, Mike Rowe posted this picture on his social media with the caption, “well, here’s to 2022.”

Mike Rowe drinking to 2022

No kidding, Dude.

And it’s been that way ever since. Ready for another hiatus? At least I’m still writing for lawyers and other clients.

Hiatus And Website Woes

If you tried to access this blog back in December, you may have noticed that it was down for a couple of weeks. There’s a reason for that. The security certificate expired, and I didn’t realize it.

Sure, I got those notices, but at one point, there were two certificates on this site. Thinking I still had one that expired in February, I didn’t bother with it.

Then the site went down, causing my accidental blogging hiatus.

So I paid for everything, (it wasn’t expensive) both this site and the one I bought last year for copywriting, got some help from my hosting company, and the site came back up. With one problem. 

It seems that I get the message that parts of the site are not secure. Now, I think there’s something horribly wrong with it. And getting into a live chat with the support people–in Russia–will take pretty much all day. So I procrastinate and do other things instead.

Then one day I get a message from a friend of the blog RR, aka “Banana Rat.” He’s a web guy from a long time ago, and a longtime “Boeing brother” that I’ve kept in touch with all these years. I recently told his girlfriend that “we never dated, but we joked about it.”

He’s re-starting his little “side hustle” company that he’s had long before I knew him after a six-month gig that just wasn’t working for him. Like me, he’ll be working for himself. So I’m advising him on copy for his website as well as his LinkedIn presence, along with my own. More as we get it going.

The Help I Needed

So the hiatus, I hope, is over for now.

Banana Rat (RR) got into my host account and spent the afternoon chatting with the Russian folks to get my websites taken care of. They thought they were talking to me, which I think is funny. But the certificate for this blog wasn’t installed as it should have been and now it’s done.

The certificate and other issues on HeatCageKitchen are, for the most part, repaired, and are fine going forward. Just one or two things to be fixed, either manually or with the help of a paid tool. (I’ll decide on that later.)

The WordPress app on my phone told me yesterday that this site was suddenly getting more traffic, too. That’s funny, too, because it was Banana Rat doing all the work.

The copywriting website that has been sitting for a year unfinished is now up and running with WordPress in it. However, it’s just a blank website, and he put a new WordPress template in it for me. Now, I can begin adding content. I created a free report this time last year to upload, but that’s as far as it went. Because I was in a training class, the report on SEO was critiqued with very positive feedback.

So after sitting in limbo for all of 2020, my second website is finally coming around. And then I can start moving forward with things on the copywriting side.

Why He’s Called “Banana Rat”

I have a habit of name-calling that generally involves the word “rodent.” Instead of actually swearing at someone and calling them a very impolite name, I call them a “rodent.” I don’t have any particular love for rodents, but squirrels are cute. And it’s much less offensive than calling someone a “@#$%&* *&#(!.”

While at Boeing, I called RR a “rodent” one day on the phone during a work-related call. He proceeded to enlighten me with descriptions of banana rats. These big dog-like critters are found all over Cuba, and they hunt in packs. He mentioned that he’d played golf around Guantanamo Bay once, and saw them walking around and doing whatever they do. But they’re more than rats–they’re BIG rats, like dogs, weighing as much as 20 pounds! Can you imagine a bunch of those coming at you with sharp, nasty teeth?

They cause problems at Guantanamo Bay and are also an invasive species. So much so that the US Department of Defense is paying attention to them.

But because RR had to tell me about these beasts, and he’s a big dude himself, he has forever been nicknamed “The Banana Rat.”

Mainstream Keto

Have you taken a hiatus from your resolutions yet?

We’re now deep into New Years’ Resolutions, except for folks who have already abandoned theirs. I’m still trying to eat keto, despite the stuff BF wants to make for dinner. Jambalaya is primarily rice, and I quit eating it years ago. But. . .sometimes I eat rice. That’s why I say “mostly keto.”

For some time, longtime diet product company SlimFast has been offering keto-friendly products. I see them at my local Walmart and Target. Recently I discovered that they have been keeping up with what dieters want, and they’ve got their own brand of “fat bombs.”

If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s a small snack that you create with a healthy fat like coconut oil, cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, or something similar. It contains enough fat to keep you satisfied until your next meal, and also offers additional nutrients. You can find a myriad of these recipes on Pinterest and other sites like Jen Fisch’s Keto In The City.

Not to be outdone, SlimFast has a line of ketogenic products to help you along. I found the peanut butter cups first, and then last week decided to try the Strawberry Topped Cheesecake.

Slimfast Keto Fat Bomb Strawberry

Looks good, yes?

Well, remind me not to get these anymore and start making my own again. They’re OK, not great. They’re not bad, but not like the homemade stuff. I guess if you were out and needed something to snack on immediately they’re a fair option. But I kept nibbling on these, and they’re just OK. Walmart here charges $10 for this box, and on their website, it’s $13. I’m not buying them anymore.

Slimfast fat bomb back of box

See? It’s easy!

Honestly, it may work for some folks, and that’s great. But keto–and weight loss in general–is more than just eating little chocolate nibbles and magically turning into a clone of still-gorgeous fifty-something Cindy Crawford. It just doesn’t work that way.

But Slimfast still has all the shakes and drinks and things that are purported to help lose weight. Again, it may work for some folks. I’m not recommending or criticizing Slimfast. If it works for you, and you like it, go for it.

Keto instructions from Slimfast

It’s easy, right?

Nestle used to have one that was a shake thing, chocolate raspberry. I used to drink one with their “nutrition” (candy) bar. Delicious! But all that sugar isn’t good. I quit the Nestle concoctions after I couldn’t stomach it anymore.

Of course, in the badly disorganized pantry (the next hiatus) is the stuff that BF likes, too:

Natures Bakery Brownie bars

I found these at Target, and he likes them.

It does have whole wheat flour, but BF doesn’t care. Why? Because he thinks this is a healthy breakfast:

Strawberry Pop Tarts

Yes, he really does.

He also brought home a box of Banana Moon Pies and some Hostess Ding Dongs, the chocolate rounds with “cream” in the middle.

If ever the police come with a warrant to search the house, they’ll just know they’ve hit paydirt the minute they get to the kitchen. Once they open the pantry door and see gluten-free and organic things next to the Pop-Tarts and mac and cheese in a box, they’ll just “know” they’ve found “the perps.” 

The thing is, I’m pretty sure about what’s in our pantry. There’s nothing in there that can’t be purchased in any US grocery store, including dog food. But if a cop or two wants to help me reorganize the pantry, they’re welcome to come by. 

Be aware that there have been many cases of cops who know little of botany arresting people for their garden plants. There are millennial cops who don’t know the difference between okra, tomatoes, and other common garden plants and Snoop Dogg’s favorite green.

Breathing & IF

Thankfully, during this hiatus, I’ve not had any more allergy problems since my visit to Dr. Hall in Baton Rouge. I’m following his advice, and so far, so good. He’s highly recommended if you need an allergy doc, as well as his partner.

I’m still doing intermittent fasting as well, but I can’t say that I’ve lost any weight yet. But it’s a good thing to do anyway, because I’m not eating late at night, and we try not to eat late anyway. The next step is getting back to exercise, which is proving easier said than done.

The years I went walking on city streets are over, because walking or riding a bicycle in a rural area is a challenge as well as dangerous. There are no sidewalks. In either case, you’ll face:

  • Speeding drivers
  • Untethered (and intact) dogs who go on the attack
  • Snakes and other native species
  • Holes in the ground
  • Potholes in the asphalt
  • Cracked roads
  • Uneven and rocky roads
  • Other nonexistent road amenities

So I’m stuck with inside workouts, but with lots of other things to do. I did buy a bike trainer a couple of years ago from eBay for a good price. So. . .soon, it needs to happen daily, and end the exercise hiatus I’ve had to take for a while. Thank heavens for the Roku.

Valentine’s Day And The Hiatus Cake

So we’re coming up on our annual date night (we have others) and we’re having discussions about the dinner and dessert as well as the movie.

As another hiatus project, I made a small chocolate cake recently, taken from the January/February issue of Mary Jane’s Farm magazine. It was first posted on the affiliated Ranch Farmgirl blog.

Gluten free chocolate hiatus cake

Cute, isn’t it?

Gluten-free, made from scratch, and is sweetened only with maple syrup. I bought that especially to make this cake for us. I tried it out last month after getting a preview email from one of the magazine’s bloggers. The recipe uses two very small pans, known as a “cocotte.”

One pan in hand

See how tiny?

Actually, any pan like this with a lid is a “cocotte.” For this recipe, the top is not used.

But I have to warn you that “cocotte” is also a French word that means. . .the same thing as the Italian term “Puttanesca.” That is, a female with a specific profession. . .the world’s oldest.  Aside from that, I bought two of these little covered cast-iron Dutch ovens at Bed Bath & Beyond, along with two tiny skillets for “just for us” cooking. Sometime.

Pair of cast iron cocottes

Intended for baked eggs and small portions, these finally got used.

The cake is made with almond flour and a few other ingredients. The frosting is also rich and delicious.

Recipe for cake

A small list of ingredients for a small cake with big flavor.

The article lists variations too:

Variations

Variations on the theme

It’s a small cake just big enough for two to four pieces, and no leftovers. I like that part, because BF eats something twice and he’s done with it.

Bottom of page

The rest of the article.

These cute little pots are available here on Amazon, if you’re interested. (Yes, that’s my affiliate link.)

I convinced BF to try it. He liked it, but not as much as “the one you make with regular flour.” The maple syrup makes it taste a bit different than a standard cake.

In other words, he prefers the cake from a box or one I made him a couple of years ago from a book that was from scratch and just six inches around. A yellow cake with chocolate frosting, from a box, and the frosting in the paper can. That’s what he likes best.

I also considered making some heart-shaped chocolate waffles for him. But he didn’t understand that they weren’t keto and nixed the idea.

There is a solution for us: mug cakes. You know, a single serving of cake mixed in a coffee cup and is whatever and whenever you want. One for him, one (keto version) for me. Two chocolate cakes, two ways. They’re all over Pinterest and other recipe sites, just do a search.

I also tossed out the suggestion of fondue, which got me a funny look. What’s wrong with hot, melty cheese that you can dip nibbles into and eat?

More and more, it’s looking like frozen pizza or another pack of tamales for dinner again. Don’t yet know what movie to rent, but there are more animated films at RedBox to consider.

Some days, I think about the days when Miss Alice used to come for dinner sometimes. She always says that she misses my cooking. Then I think I’m ready for a hiatus from cooking dinner for BF.

Well, if Miss Alice does come for a visit, I’ve got plenty of vegetarian recipes to make. BF will probably eat a bowl of cereal or a ham & cheese sandwich like he always does when I make something he’s afraid of.

Until Next Time

I hope not to have another hiatus for a while. I am getting more comfortable with the infernal Instant Pot, and have not yet hit it with a sledgehammer. That being said, I can’t say that it’s “revolutionized” my cooking, either. I use it for some things and will experiment with others. So one of these days. . .there will be a blog post.

Please stay warm, and stay safe–it’s not over yet, and we do know a few folks who have had the bug. I met a man in Rouse’s one day who had it, along with his wife. Agreeing that the media likes to talk about it at high volume, he did say to take it seriously. The man said that he was in the hospital for five days, and the biggest thing is the fatigue that hangs on long after it’s over. Fingers crossed that it’s resolved soon and we can get back to normal and visiting again.

I’ll be back again soon.

Happy Dining!

 

Jack Daniels Apple
Update: October Edition

It’s been busy lately, so I’m giving a quick update on the recent events at the Casa de Rurale.

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Hi, Again, Dear Readers:

It’s October already, and that means that 2020 will be ending soon. You’ve got a great reason to celebrate.

I just realized that it’s been too long since my last post, and I’m delinquent in getting back to it. There isn’t an SEO keyword for this blog, it’s just an update.

Since it’s October, that means my birthday is coming up. I need to gather up supplies for the cake–chocolate, butter, eggs, and maybe a bag of Swerve or two. I have erythritol but might pop for the Swerve since it’s already powdered.

We haven’t heard from our newlywed friend Justin, but we have the little picture book for the next time we see him, and possibly Bronte.

But this is still 2020, and odd things are still happening. Just the other day, we had some renegade bulls hanging out in the road: 

Bulls in the middle of the raod

Someone forgot to close the gate and they just wandered on by

No kidding, they were acting like kids skipping school. Except they are a lot bigger. Makes you think about something along these lines:

Jack Daniels Apple

It’s tempting, isn’t it?

Well, it’s an option. We haven’t tried it yet, but hang on, it’s October now. December 31st is coming. We might start sipping it one of these days.

Last Of The Summer Veg

I know, I know, the “victory garden of 2020” was a disaster. But that doesn’t mean I quit growing anything. I still have pots.

First, the Meyer lemon and key lime tree that came with me from Houston are still going strong. We keep saying we’ll plant it, but we haven’t decided where yet. I have several key limes growing now, and three Meyer lemons that will be ready to pick in December.

Some time ago, I put several avocado seeds in a bucket to see what would happen. Now, something is growing out of it, and I believe it’s avocado. I haven’t dug down to look at the source, but I did see a picture of it on Facebook in a homesteading group. A lady put the seed in her composting bin, and the darn thing sprouted. Looks just like mine, and it’s huge right now. So I’m hoping for the best, and looking for another planting spot so I can have avocados all the time.

BF is not particularly thrilled with the prospect of an avocado tree growing on his property, but he doesn’t have to eat them. They’re all for me, anyway.

Second, amazingly, the four basil plants, one flat-leaf parsley, and one Texas tarragon plant are thriving despite being surrounded by weeds. There is still a watermelon vine growing out there, but no melons. I need to dig them up and pot them but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I recently made two batches of pesto. Good thing–when I found myself feeling ill from the breathing problems and then the Prednisone, Pea & Pesto Soup was made frequently.

I recently bought a grape tomato plant, some romaine lettuce, and a “sweet snacking pepper” plant at the local Tractor Supply. Well, the peppers got as big as my thumb, but they sure are tasty. I’ve been eating the tomatoes as they ripen, and when the lettuce got high enough, I made a little salad:

Salad with romaine, sweet peppers and tomoatoes

It’s not much, but it was delicious.

I topped it with a mix of a little EVOO, some flavored vinegar, and a pinch of pink sea salt. Delicious.

Finally–Trader Joe’s Coming To Mandeville

After years of prayers, emails, hopes, and wishes, a new Trader Joe’s is being built in Mandeville, somewhere in the vicinity of the current Whole Foods store, right across Highway 22. ETA: no idea.

Although it’s not on the website yet, our district leader OR knows someone who is familiar with the situation. The store’s facade and inside are being built out as we speak. There are also some threads on Facebook regarding Northshore affairs, and they have confirmed that it’s happening. I’m sure it will be announced when the opening date is close.

Of course, BF still says the same thing: “It’s just a grocery store.”

Now, for me, this TJ’s is still close to an hour away. But I’m more likely to be in the Mandeville/Covington area than Baton Rouge, so this is great news. Once we get back to having in-person SGI meetings, I’ll be heading there more often. But Baton Rouge has been on my travel itinerary recently.

New Baskets In Winn-Dixie

Our local Winn-Dixie has finally refreshed their baskets and now we have not only cup holders in the baskets like HEB, Whole Foods, Publix, and Kroger, but we’ve got those smaller ones like Central Market. I call them “urban baskets,” because they seem to be the forte of big city grocery stores:

Two-level grocery baskets

For when you just want a few things.

These have a couple of spots for holding drinks and things:

Second level drink holder

Keeps the drink out of the way here

Top-level holding area for urban basket

For whatever you need at your fingertips, like coupons

The irony, of course, is that if you bring a cup of coffee or other beverage into the grocery store with you, drinking it is out of the question. You have to wear a mask, no matter where you go here.

Keto Ice Cream!

Found this in Rouse’s a couple of weeks ago:

Keto Ice Cream

Coffee and chocolate!

I get the irony of the brownie mix, but there is a reason for it. First, darn it, I wanted some ice cream, and these were just waiting for me. Yes, they are delicious and smooth, with no sugar added and no gluten either. Highly recommended if you come across it. Yes, Aunt Kathy and Aunt Ruth, you too. Rich, high-quality stuff that’s hard as a rock when completely frozen.

I’ll be getting more one of these days.

Dinner Guests

The other thing is that for the period of a week in October, we had company for dinner at the Casa de Rurale. No, we did not host a) “ultimate man,” TV host Mike Rowe, b), any member of the British Royal Family, c) anyone from any political class at any level, or d) friends visiting from Houston or New Orleans. No, I was cooking for CAR GUYS!

One of BF’s younger coworkers asked him for help getting his silvery-blue Chevrolet Silverado back in running condition. The thing was here for a week, parked in the garage, and The Boy came every night to work on it. BF helped, supervised, and allowed him to use his Snap-On Tools, but The Boy did most of it himself. He bought not only the right parts but good parts, not just cheap ones. He also joined us for dinner every night. One evening, he had a friend who helped him with some of the repair work who also had dinner with us.

On most of these occasions, a high-school chum of BF’s came by, who lives just a couple of miles up the road. TT lives alone with his dog, no girlfriend, and likes to “drop by” for dinner on occasion, especially after he discovered I can cook. Well, this man needs a friend, too, and BF just happens to be close. He doesn’t cook for himself, we think, and maybe needs more help we can give him. Knowing we had company, he invited himself for dinner a few times.

Every night for a week I was in the kitchen cooking for guests. I used the Instant Pot two or three times for soup, for chili, and one or two other things that went over well. They kept coming back for more.

To clarify, BF is always my “ultimate man.” Mike Rowe is second in line on that one.

Requests And Desserts

So I made brownies for dessert one night. Oatmeal snacking cake on another. I forget what else I made, but it was well-loved by everyone. And I think BF brought home something else like the frozen pie thing another time. But I didn’t share my Keto ice cream.

NO. WAY.

BF insisted on mashed potatoes and gravy one night, but not just any gravy–and no packets either. He wanted the gravy from a Barefoot Contessa book that I should never have made that first Thanksgiving. Because now, he wants it all the time. (I don’t eat it.) The recipe worked fine, just like the last time. BF and The Boy loved it, although I fussed at The Boy for attempting to put ketchup on meatloaf. He tried the meatloaf and decided that it didn’t really need ketchup anyway.

Then TT came by and demolished the remainder of the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy on that “visit,” and said it was one of the “best meals he’d ever had.” He must have been quite hungry at that point. We wondered if maybe hadn’t eaten for a day or so. 

We breathed a sigh of relief when we had our first dinner alone. The Boy now complains that he is missing the gourmet dinners.

I’ve Been Ill

For the last 18 months (or more), I’ve been suffering from horrific allergies. I’ve mentioned it a few times before. It just started up one day for no apparent reason. Sneezing, coughing, and an endless need for a tissue. Despite trying multiple treatments, the problem continued to worsen. Then one day, right after the Southern Oaks wedding, I literally couldn’t breathe anymore. I couldn’t open up my breathing passages with anything–they were sealed shut and kept me from sleeping at night.

It was time to step up my game. I needed a doctor.

I tried finding an allergy specialist six months ago, but of course, this isn’t Texas, much less Houston, so I didn’t have good luck with that. There’s one doctor’s office right in Hammond that one of our district members goes to. When I called and asked questions, the response from the female answering the phone didn’t give me a good feeling. She acted like a snob answering my questions, and I figured if the person answering the phone treated me like that, the doctor could do the same thing. Been there, done that, no thank you.

I’ve also tried:

  • Bee pollen
  • An air purifier
  • Super-duper HVAC air filters that we have to order online
  • Quercetin
  • Bromelin
  • Butterbur
  • Homeopathic allergy remedies
  • Essential oils, including peppermint and eucalyptus
  • Sudafed, regular and PE
  • Claritin-D
  • Other OTC allergy pills
  • Various nasal sprays

 

I was still sick–and getting worse. Trying to sleep while breathing through your mouth doesn’t work well.

Oh, and just because you can’t breathe doesn’t mean you go bare-faced here–you must wear a mask. 

BF’s very intelligent sister began taking their father to doctors in Baton Rouge this year, about an hour southwest from us. They visited an ophthalmologist, a gerontologist (similar to a pediatrician, specializes in geriatric patients), and a cardiologist for starters. Locally available medical care wasn’t giving him what he really needed, and she wanted to make sure he was getting the best care they could find. So off they went at her insistence and much to his chagrin.

That gave me an idea–look for a doc in Baton Rouge. That’s where LSU Medical School is. I did, and I thanked her for it later.

Finding The Right Doctor For Me

I really needed help, fast, so I figured I’d start looking for and calling ENTs who treat allergies at the suggestion of a nice lady on Facebook, WM. After researching the Mandeville/Covington/Slidell area, I looked to Baton Rouge. It’s about the same distance, and shopping is better.

Remember that in Houston, driving 100 miles or more in a day is not uncommon, and you may not even leave the city. Trips to Woodlands Wellness & Cosmetic Center to see Dr. Davis were at least 100 miles round trip, especially if I did some shopping in The Woodlands. This wasn’t a big deal for me, although I was pretty tired when I got home. The same thing happened after the trips to Baton Rouge, even if the city is smaller.

Here’s the thing–is it better to just go to someone nearby, or find the right doctor for your needs and drive farther? Do you have to go to the closest doctor, even if he or she isn’t what you need? I found that out in Houston, and if it’s worth the drive, then go.

I did some research on a few places that came up on my search engine results page (SERP) and made some phone calls. The second one I called answered all my questions without any attitude. They were so nice! I made a couple of calls to them after reading their patient reviews and got an appointment on the following Tuesday. I was in bad shape at that point.

Tuesday couldn’t come fast enough.

Baton Rouge General Hospital

I didn’t realize that this clinic is located in the hospital itself. I’d never been there before. Thanks to Google Maps, I got there on time safely.

My appointment was with Dr. Hall of Sinus & Nasal Specialists of Louisiana, and he took care of me right away. Using a scope, he saw right away what was going on. (First words: “Oh my GAWD!”) He prescribed the well-known steroid Prednisone to take care of the swelling.  While I didn’t like the idea of taking it, the stuff worked wonders. It was a short-term, quick-and-dirty solution that did the job he intended. I did feel ill while taking it, but that’s worn off.

I’m breathing better now, and he said I didn’t need anything else–no prescriptions, no surgery, etc., just a twice-daily sinus rinse and two shots of Flonase right afterward.  If I do need help again, call back. I will. Dr. Hall knew what to do and took care of me. That’s greatly appreciated. Five-star ratings on Google and a couple of other places.

Of course, the GER couldn’t leave it alone. He let me know that Prednisone was going to turn me into, um, a much larger version of myself. That hasn’t happened, thank heavens, and I’m done with it anyway.

I also found this recipe on their blog, and I hope to make it soon. I love poblano peppers, and this looks pretty tasty. Especially now that I can smell the peppers roasting. Well, BF won’t be happy when I make it, but Miss Alice might enjoy them.

More Delicious Findings

So on that same trip to Rouse’s, I found something I’d long forgot about: blueberry sausage.

Blueberry Sausage

Can you believe it?

Obviously, this is locally made. (How far is Hattiesburg from here?) But I used to go to Central Market’s meat department and buy a half-dozen of their blueberry sausages, sold individually, and by the pound. Buy one, buy three, buy a dozen, however many you want. It’s been a long time since I was even there, and when I saw it in Rouse’s, got it. I couldn’t wait to have it.

BF did not share my sentiments. So it was mine, all mine. I had it over a couple of days with whatever else was in the fridge for lunch.

This is what BF prefers. You would never put blueberry sausage in it unless you wanted to get your butt kicked:

Jambalya mix

BF’s “secret” to making jambalaya, adding a cup of plain white rice to the mix.

It’s good, but I do tend to get heartburn after eating it. This is readily available locally, along with a number of other rice mixes.

TJ’s In Baton Rouge

Now back to Trader Joe’s: I saw this culinary delight the other day. But when I texted a picture to BF, he said no:

Lobster ravioli packet

It’s not gluten-free, either.

But he was happy when I brought home some of these:

Fig and bluberry breakfast bars

He enjoyed the strawberry, but I brought something new for him.

Also saw these adorable things:

Tiger figs in clamshells

Cute, but I did not buy them. This time.

No picture, but I also found some Halloumi cheese, the grillable kind. BF was not happy to see that. It went into the big freezer. One day he won’t be home and I can enjoy it by myself.

And look what else I found:

Shishito peppers from Trader Joes

Can you believe it?

Can’t wait to cook these up. They really are delicious

A Word Of Advice

I want to pass on a bit of wisdom because I feel it’s necessary.

Always, always, remember to say “thank you,” whether it’s the grocery store stocker working extra hours to make sure supplies are on the shelf, the person who fills up your water glass in the restaurant, and even the garbage people, as we do when we catch them. Say it and mean it.

This I learned from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda many years ago, and I’ve tried to remember to say “thanks” whenever it is warranted. I thanked Dr. Hall as well as his wonderful staff when I was there. If it weren’t for them answering my questions on the phone, I would have kept looking.

This weekend I was reminded that although I did say it to a particular individual in our “circle,” I believe I didn’t say it enough. I did mention it to Aunt Ruth, and I will continue to tell others the same thing. But in this case, I wish I’d said “thank you” just one more time. I can’t say more, so I’ll leave it at that.

I periodically tell BF, “thank you for everything.” It’s why I bring him the little treats when I go to Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mandeville/Covington, or even Hammond. It’s my way of thanking him for letting me be me, and not minding when I go out for an SGI activity, or anywhere else. He doesn’t mind when I head out, and I always tell him where I’m going (primarily for safety reasons.) No reason for him to think I’m sneaking around because I’m really not.

I also try to remember to thank him when he comes home with an occasional surprise, like when someone gives them fresh veg or other things at work. I always ask if he remembered to thank the person who gave it to him. “Just say thank you,” I tell him.

I try to remember to thank people whether I’m in the local shops and restaurants, or on the phone with someone in another city or state. Why? It’s necessary and goes a long way.

Until Next Time

For a handful of reasons, October is my favorite time of the year. So I guess I’m trying to enjoy it at the same time.

I’m still planning the blog on the Instant Pot because it’s a big one. But because it’s a bigger article, it’s taking some time. Maybe by the time I publish, I’ll be in love with it like everyone else. It did perform admirably when I needed it to, but I used recipes I knew would work well.

Thank you to each of you who generously take the time to read my silly little blog, and keep coming back for more. I’ll be back again soon.

Enjoy! 

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