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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! 

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! 

Shishito growing on vine
Have You Tried Shishito Peppers?

Shishito peppers really are a thing, and I’m not swearing. They’re delicious, and generally not hot. 

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

Just popped in for another blog post, this time on something new I can’t believe I discovered. Thank heavens for streaming and Philo TV.  Shishito peppers are a new item in the US produce market, and of course, I’m one of the last people to know.

Let me tell you what’s been happening.

A Zucchini Recipe

If you’re seeing lots of zucchini, I have a simple recipe for you. The inspiration is out of the book from which my favorite cheesecake comes, The 30-Minute Low-Carb Cookbook by Pamela Ellgen.

I had some leftover roast chicken and zucchini. I flip open this book and there is this recipe using pesto, chicken, and zucchini.

You have my attention. 

So I read it and realize that I have the ingredients, including the basil and other ingredients for pesto. I probably have 25 containers of pesto in the freezer dating back to 2018 (or maybe 2017.) Why should I make more? (I will, because I need to cut the basil soon.)

The recipe calls for spiralized zucchini, but I don’t have a spiralizer. What I do have is a Norpro Apple Master, which does much the same thing.  Sort of. I’ll get a spiralizer one day, OK? For now this is what I have to work with.

Two cups of cooked chicken are called for, and so I managed to pick and chop exactly two cups from the chicken carcass in the fridge. I used some of the recently made tarragon butter. BF really enjoyed the chicken, and it was really tasty, but he didn’t want to know what was in it.

Once I finished with the zucchini (cutting the cores into matchsticks and cleaning the machine), I sauteed it in a tablespoon or so of olive oil for two minutes. Then, I added in the chopped chicken, sauteed for another couple of minutes. Then I added in an entire container of my home-made pesto from 2019, which was I presume to be a cup, but I think was more. It was the first one I grabbed when I opened the freezer. It was probably too much. Next time I’ll just use measure out one cup.

Well, when I finished it, this is what I ended up with:

Pesto Chicken And Zucchini

It’s so GREEEN!!!

The recipe also suggests serving it with additional Parmesean cheese (because you would have put some in the pesto) but I forgot to add some.  It was delicious as-is, and if you’re a fan of zucchini and pesto, this is highly recommended for a quick dinner.

If you don’t have chicken already cooked, you could also pick up a rotisserie chicken (or chicken parts, if HEB still sells them that way) or cook a couple of thighs in the toaster/convection oven, air fryer, or heck, even poach it if you’re really in a hurry.

It’s low-carb, gluten-free, and without cheese, it can be dairy-free, too.

BF’s reaction to this delicious dish was to exhibit another of his retching noises.

Speaking Of Him

We’ve had another flora and fauna fiasco.

It seems that although BF remembers his Dad having a garden and a bounty of fresh produce every year, he doesn’t remember everything. I should have seen this early on and paid closer attention to what he was doing.

BF wanted some green beans, and he planted them. These beans grow on vines, and so at some point, he asked for a stake to let them grow up onto. The corn, watermelon, beans, and potatoes were pretty much BF’s domain, so I didn’t ask questions.

Last week after our garden massacre, I was out there looking for the cucumbers, zucchini, and any peppers ready to pick. Pulling up more dead cornstalks, I thought to myself, “we should have been picking those beans by now.” I look over at one stake, where I saw one bean before, and realize that it’s about dead. Not only are there no beans, but there are also no leaves.

On the other stake, there were plenty of leaves and little purple flowers. No beans, just flowers, and leaves. That’s when I realized it.

He Staked Weeds

The next day I brought him outside to ask him about it, and said, “Show me the beans.” He turned around and walked inside without a word!

I pulled out as much of the weed as I could find, and there was a considerable amount. Even off the stake, there was so much that it was like pulling a heavy quilt off a bed.

When I got inside, he said, “you don’t have to be so judgmental.” I wasn’t trying to be, but if it was indeed, planted beans, I want to harvest some.

I’m not mad at him–it’s actually funny. So now I ask him, “where’s the beans?” It’s along the same lines as asking, “didn’t you pay the light bill?” when we have a power outage like we did this past weekend. (Yes, we paid it early and everyone else was out of power, too.)

Well, anyway, we’re nursing some tomato plants. The Chocolate Cherry plants have flowers and are looking good so far.

We really need to get an earlier start next year.

On another note, the wife of one of his car-guy friends posted a picture of something they cooked out of their garden. BF mentioned that this friend keeps his garden free of Mother Nature’s creatures with the use of an electric fence. I like it.

The Shishito Discovery

As always, I’m watching Ina Garten while sewing, and it’s a show I’ve never seen before.

She starts talking about this tasty appetizer and these little peppers that you just saute up and eat, seeds and all (skip the stems.) They’re not big, about the size of a lipstick. Picked green, they’re sweet, but if left to turn red, they’re hotter.

Ina also says that there is always an occasional hot one, and she seems to get that one.

So I did a little reading on the subject. Although Ina says they are from Japan, they’re actually grown all over Asia. They’re small, with thin walls, and cook quickly.

Of course, nobody has them here, but I remembered them when I saw the plants at Tractor Supply. 

Growing Shishito

If you’re in Houston, you may be lucky enough to see these small, spark-plug sized peppers in Central Market, select HEB stores, Rice Epicurean Market, Whole Foods and maybe Trader Joe’s. This being Louisiana, I can’t imagine where you’d find any unless you were in a bigger Rouse’s, or maybe Whole Foods, since they sell Hatch chiles in late summer. And of course, they would be in Baton Rouge or New Orleans–IF you found them at all.

But in our case, the local Tractor Supply store had some, and I grabbed two of the plants. I was on my fruitless search for more Anaheim chile plants, but I really wanted to try these.

Oh, am I glad I did!

They took a while to start producing. But once they did:

Shishito pepper with bell

To the left are some Anaheims and one little bell pepper called Tequila.

I just let them grow for a while, but one Friday night, I realized I had to pick them. The larger of the two plants had so many peppers that it was tipping over. I picked them and came inside to find the recipe.

Turns out the recipe is in Ina’s last book, Cook Like A Pro. I’ve used this book for several recipes, but this recipe passed me by. It’s my first introduction to these delicious peppers.

Fast And Easy Saute

Of course, I didn’t take pictures, but it’s a quick one. You can find the recipe here on The Food Network’s website.

But it really was simple, you saute them on a fairly high heat with olive oil. While they cook, add salt and pepper. Remove them from the heat, squeeze over some lime juice, sprinkle on some flaked sea salt, then toss. (Yes, I have Maldon’s Sea Salt as well as a few other types.)

I had to do them in two batches because I didn’t have a really big skillet. No matter.

One of BF’s car-guy friends was over, and we were also having some Texas Tamales. BF offered him some tamales, and I asked him to try one of the peppers. He had one of each, and loved both.

No, BF didn’t want any, but I did:

Tamales and shishito pappers on red plate

A truly diverse, multicultural dinner!

My little surprise was that there were no hot peppers in the bunch. I ate some of them that Friday night, and the rest I ate with dinner a couple nights later. NO HOT ONES. Woo hoo!

Ina’s Next Book

The next Barefoot Contessa cookbook comes out in early October, titled Modern Comfort Food. She announced it on social media a few months ago, and Clarkson Potter moved up the publication date by a couple of weeks because of the current events. We all need comfort food, yes? 

Has the fair Ms. Garten discovered alternate waffle maker recipes? It seems so–in the description, it says:

In Modern Comfort Food, Ina Garten shares 85 new recipes that will feed your deepest cravings. Many of these dishes are inspired by childhood favorites–but with the volume turned way up, such as Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese sandwiches (the perfect match for Ina’s Creamy Tomato Bisque), Smashed Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions, and the crispiest hash browns that are actually made in a waffle iron!

It’s gonna be great. All of Ina Garten’s books have delicious food with great directions, so this will also be a good one.

If You See Some, Get Some

When I went looking, I noticed that Giada de Laurentiis also has a recipe for these, but she makes a “baked salt” with olives to go with it. I haven’t tried that one yet. Like Ree Drummond, Giada is doing her show at home. I’m catching up with all my favorite shows as I can, hence Philo TV.

A Google search will turn up more results for you, like this blog from Paleo Scaleo. Jessica is in South Carolina, and also grows them herself. I will be saving more of the seeds before the season is over so I can grow them again next year.

Don’t forget that if you buy them, you can save the seeds in a Ziploc bag and start them next year. Ditto for Hatch chiles. That’s always my plan.

Shishito peppers are a delicious thing to have, whether you’re snacking on them in front of the TV, or serving them at your next cookout or dinner party (whenever that is, right?) They’re healthy, gluten-free, low-carb and keto, so why wouldn’t you? Just make sure you have some dairy milk around, even skim, for the possibility of a hot one.

Don’t worry about BF. He’ll either come around one day, or he’ll keep eating ravioli from the can. He likes that stuff.

Enjoy!

Cheescake slice on red plate with fork
A Tale Of Cheesecake

Cheesecake–the word conjures up images and tastes of sweet and creamy, and with good reason.

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

As promised (and way too late), here is my blog on cheesecake. Today’s post comes with two separate recipes from two different books, one of which was a gift from Callisto Press.

I don’t remember the first time I had cheesecake, but it was probably one of those frozen numbers. I remember being in a restaurant somewhere in New Orleans in the late 80’s and ordering blueberry cheesecake for dessert. I got the last slice they had. That didn’t go over well with my dining companions, but today I couldn’t tell you who they were.

Learning Cheesecake

I’ve bought many of them until I learned how to make them from Suzanne Somers’ cookbooks. From her first book, Eat Great, Lose Weight, I started making the Sugarless Cheesecake on page 186, but with Somersweet when it became available. The original recipe called for Nutrasweet, which I would never use. Later, she discovered that Nutrasweet wasn’t the best option and eliminated it from subsequent books.

From Get Skinny On Fabulous Food, I also like the Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake, which involves some sugar, so it’s “Level Two.” This means you’re incorporating some carbohydrates into your eating plan. I always made it with Somersweet. But with the wide availability of sugar-free chocolate and chocolate chips, I might revisit this recipe and try it again with erythritol (Swerve.)

In her Sexy Forever Recipe Bible, which is partly a “best of” compendium book but with other new recipes, there are three cheesecake recipes. On page 343, the New York Style Cheesecake is from one of her smaller books, Desserts. The next one is called Cappuccino Cheesecake on page 345, and is similar to the Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake. All of these recipes used Somersweet. I’ve never made it, but on page 344, there is also Peppermint Cheesecake With Chocolate Crust from another book.

There may have been one or two others here and there, but until recently, Suzanne Somers recipes have been the standards by which I make cheesecake.

Today I offer two more delicious offerings that are also healthier options.

Cheesecake #1: Keto In The Instant Pot

I’ve mentioned the multiple keto cookbooks I’ve been gifted, but there is one that I bought: Keto In An Instant by Jen Fisch.

Keto In An Instant Front Cover

Newest book by Jen Fisch.

Last year I reviewed her book Keto In 30 Minutes. I later got her first book, The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet while on a Target run. She has one more book that I plan to get soon.

After her 30-Minute book, I subscribed to Jen’s emails and found out about the upcoming IP book, and later pre-ordered it. Jen promised, and this book delivers with some tasty food, some of which BF likes.

Keto Gumbo Recipe

This is one particular recipe he likes, minus the okra.

One particular delight, of course, is her Vanilla Bean Cheesecake on page 197.

Because it’s an Instant Pot, you’ll need a six-inch springform pan. Naturally, I happen to have one, bought about 1996 or 1997 to make a no-bake cheesecake for “company” from a Martha Stewart magazine dinner. (I was a newlywed at the time.) Used once, I’ve dusted it a few times, so I was glad to find a reason to use it.

The crust is made from almond flour, a tablespoon of erythritol, and two tablespoons of melted butter. Jen’s trick to ensure a nice crust is to encase the bottom in foil that’s lined with a paper towel. Press the crust down in the bottom of the pan, just as you would with graham cracker crumbs.

Keto nut crust in the bottom of the springform pan

A simple nut crust underneath

I don’t have any pictures of what comes next, so I’ll have to tell you: mix up 12 ounces of softened cream cheese, the insides of a vanilla bean (or a little more than a teaspoon of vanilla extract), 3 large eggs, a quarter-cup of heavy cream, a teaspoon of grated lemon zest, and two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice with your electric mixer (a hand mixer will work.) Then pour this over the crust.

Into And Out Of The Instant Pot

Ok, as with most pressure-cooker recipes, you’ll need to add a cup of water into the pot. Add the trivet with the lifting handles, then carefully put the pan on top of the trivet in the pan. Cover the top of the springform pan with foil.

Put the lid on and secure it, then set it to cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. When the 45 minutes is done, let it depressurize on its own for 15 minutes, then quick release to pop the pressure completely. Now you can remove the lid.

You’ll first remove the pan with the trivet from the pot–be careful, it’s hot–and remove the foil and paper towel from the bottom. Let it sit out for an hour to cool, on a wire rack. After an hour, cover the pan with foil and put it in the fridge for anywhere from 4 to 24 hours.

Cheesecake and the pan

Obviously I didn’t follow the directions exactly.

Yes, I know, sometimes I don’t do it exactly right or I don’t read the directions correctly. It happens. At this stage, it’s light and fluffy, but it hadn’t been refrigerated. Once it’s refrigerated, it’s a little flatter, more solid, and more like a cheesecake, as in this picture.

Cheescake slice on red plate with fork

Doesn’t that look delish?

There is never a bad time to have a delicious cheesecake, especially if it’s a healthier version:

Cheesecake with chaffles on a red plate

And what’s wrong with having cheesecake with breakfast, or egg & cheese chaffles for dinner?

If you’re just wild about the Instant Pot, as BF’s sister and sister-in-law are, this is a great dessert anytime. Remember, it’s only a six-inch diameter, and you’ll need that size of a springform pan if you don’t have one already. They’re not expensive, and that’s the perfect size for the Instant Pot. Plus you’ll have to plan ahead.

But that’s not the only way to do this.

Cheesecake #2: Even Easier

Ok, so now you know how to make a delicious, low-carb/keto/sugarless/gluten-free cheesecake in your Instant Pot.

What if you don’t have an Instant Pot, or don’t want to mess with yours? Ladies and gentlemen, I have yet another solution: The Everyday Vanilla Cheesecake from The 30-Minute Low-Carb Cookbook by Pamela Ellgen. It’s on page 126, and I’ve been making it since December 16th of 2019. How do I know? Because whenever I got the book, in October, I think. I flipped through it and kept thinking I needed to try this out. Finally, I did, loved it, dated the recipe, and I’ve been making it ever since.

Literally. When I make one, I seek out the ingredients for the next one. That is, I get more cream cheese, and check my supplies of almond flour, cream, lemon, and butter.

What’s so great about this cheesecake when you’ve got Jen Fisch’s deliciousness? Well, for the following reasons:

  • There is little baking/cooking–the crust is baked for a short time, but the filling isn’t
  • No eggs are involved, good for people like The E Man, who is allergic to eggs
  • You can eat a slice of cheesecake in an hour
  • It’s two inches bigger than Jen’s

 

Not that Jen’s cheesecake isn’t worth it, because it is. But even Jen may like this one, even though it’s not hers. (I don’t know, I haven’t asked. Just an opinion.)

Ingredients

The Setup

This version happens in two parts, essentially. Unlike the Jen’s Instant Pot cheesecake, you’ll make the crust first, bake it, then mix up the filling. But before we get started I need to tell you about the sweet part.

Swerve Or Erythritol?

Like most of the newer low-carb and keto dessert recipes, they tend to call for Swerve brand sweetener, which I wrote about a while back. It’s a great replacement for the extinct Somersweet, and it works just like they say it will, cup-for-cup.

However, erythritol is available in a number of forms, and from a number of places, including Whole Foods, Amazon and Vitacost, who has a 3-pound bag for $13.99. From what I’ve seen, that’s not bad. Vitacost also sells other brands, as well as Swerve for about the same price as other stores, including Walmart.

Should you decide to pass on Swerve and buy plain erythritol, you may find that it’s like regular granulated sugar. It doesn’t dissolve or “melt” like regular sugar would, so you have to grind it yourself. It doesn’t take much to do, just drop it in the food processor until you get the consistency you need.

Remember my little blender/food processor combo?

It’s perfect for this task, because then I empty out the powdered erythritol and blend up the crust. It works like this–first I grind up the sweetener:

Grindning erythrytol in small food processor

I drop all that I need for the entire recipe in and grind all at once.

I dump the whole thing into a pinch bowl:

Erythritol ground in a bowl

These little bowls are very handy for setting out ingredients anytime.

And then get on with the crust, starting with the half-stick of melted butter:

Melted butter in a bowl

Butter binds the almond flour to make a nice crust for your cheesecake.

I pour it into the food processor first:

Pouring melted butter into food processor

There is a bit of residue from the erythritol, that’s OK

Then add two cups of almond flour:

Almond flour in food processor

Right on top of the butter

A small bit of salt:

Pouring salt into food processor

Just a tiny bit for contrast, no need for salty/sweet

Then add the two tablespoons of sweetener:

Erythritol pouring into food processor

Goes right on top

Now blend it up:

Blender running

This little food processor function is great.

It takes a couple of minutes for the whole thing to mix up perfectly. It took longer if I put the butter in after the almond flour.

Blended crust for cheesecake

Looks like this.

Once it’s well blended, add it to your ungreased, unlined springform pan.

Pouring crust into cheesecake pan

Just like that. It’s the consistency of cookie dough.

You’ll need to press it into the pan. A trick I learned on The Food Network was to use the bottom of your measuring cup. It’s fast and easy as well as a lot more even. If you have arthritis, you’ll likely prefer that too.

It doesn’t take long, and once you get the hang of it, you’re done.

Pressing crust more

Works great, doesn’t it?

Now in the process, you’ll see some of the crust move up the sides. I like to take that off so that it doesn’t break off and make a mess when the cheesecake is done.

Trimming edges of cheesecake crust

A butter knife would work well, too.

When you’re done, it’s nice and neat.

Neat cheesecake crust in pan

see?

Bake it at 350F for about 8 minutes:

Temperature on oven

Perfect!

When it’s done, you’ll have a lovely crust.

Crust baking in the oven

Doesn’t take long at all.

When the time is up, put it in the freezer. In my case, I put a cork trivet underneath to keep it from melting the ice trays. Our kitchen fridge and freezer doesn’t have a lot of room.

Be careful not to grab the clamp–I did that once. Fortunately, nothing bad happened, even though the pan was very hot.

Now time to get on with your filling.

Making The Filling

I start this while the crust is baking, and in the middle, I have to stash the crust in the freezer.

Your sweetener is already measured, so now just squeeze out your lemons and measure out the heavy whipping cream:

Heavy whipping cream pouring into measuring cup

Just a half-cup.

Add your ingredients to the bowl, starting with your room-temp cream cheese:

Emptying cream cheese into bowl

They’re really soft, so they fall right out of the foil packets

Add in your previously ground sweetener, one-third cup:

Pouring sweetener into mixing bowl

It looks just like sugar!

Then the cream:

Pouring cream into mixing bowl

Then the lemon juice and vanilla:

Pouring vanilla into mixing bowl

I found my favorite Mexican Vanilla in Hammond, of all places. Must get more soon.

Now start mixing:

Mixer in action

It starts out like this, but gets very smooth in a few minutes.

You’ll know when it’s ready:

Well mixed cheesecake filling in bowl

Just like that.

Take a taste and see if you like it.

Secret Weapon: Liquid Stevia

Ok, if you feel like the filling isn’t quite sweet enough, here’s what you add to the filling, one drop at a time:

Liquid stevia

Any brand of stevia will do. Add drop by drop, it’s powerful!

I put about six drops in and blend it along with the erythritol. It doesn’t change the taste, and makes it a tad sweeter, but not overly sweet. If you want more, add a little more–but one drop at a time, or you’ll ruin the cheesecake.

And if you’re alone in your kitchen, you get a special treat at this point.

Beaters covered with filling

Yum!

At this point the crust may still be hot, so you might leave the filling off to the side and do a little cleanup, maybe fill up the dishwasher or set some things aside to soak. Doing so will give the crust a little more time to cool off.

Filling And Freezing

Ready? Carefully pour and/or scoop the filling into the not-so-hot-now crust:

Adding filling to crust

Really easy to do

Use a spatula or other tool to smooth out the top:

Cheesecake with smoothed top

It will freeze like that, so it’s important.

Back into the freezer:

Cheesecake in freezer

Almost ready

The book says 15 minutes in the freezer to “firm up,” or an hour in the fridge. Your choice. I usually leave it for more than an hour, but of course, it’s hard as a rock.

BF had to repair this hinge for me because one day I pulled out the rivets with a frozen cheesecake:

Rivets in cheesecake hinge

Yes, I broke it, and he fixed it.

But generally, it pops right out:

Releasing cheesecake from pan

It usually just separates when the pan expands.

This is what you end up with:

Cheesecake on pan

Isn’t it lovely? All nice and neat!

Because I consume this cheesecake a sliver at a time, I cut it in quarters first:

Cutting into the cheesecake

Mine is a bit frozen, so it’s a little difficult

 

Cheesecake cut in quarters

Makes it easier

And then with a smaller knife, I cut a slice out:

Slice of cheesecake on plate with fork

Ta-dah!!

It really is that easy and that good. You could eat the whole cheesecake if you wanted to (even I can’t do that) but it’s very rich and delicious, so you don’t need much.

BF said he had a small bit of it when I wasn’t looking, and he agrees that it’s quite delicious. I’ve served a bit to one of his car-guy friends who has been here for dinner several times (because he was here at the right time.) He was quite impressed because I did warn him it was gluten-free and sugar-free.

Other Cheesecake Notes

The first thing I should mention is that in order to make the cheesecake quickly and make sure the filling comes out smooth is to leave the cream cheese out for a good long while.

My suggestion is a minimum of four hours. But if you’re making a cheesecake after work, just take it out of the fridge and leave it on the stove in the morning and get to it when you’re ready. If you want to make it first thing in the morning and have it at dinner that night, take leave the cream cheese out all night.

Make sure that if you have critters, they can’t reach the cream cheese packets. Nevermind how I know that. You probably don’t need to leave it out for two days as I do sometimes. Unintentionally.

Use ONLY fresh lemon juice for this, or lime, as I’ve done a few times. If you use lemon extract, you will regret it. Immediately. Nevermind how I know this.

Conclusion: Cheesecake Is Delicious

I’ve added both of these to the Recipes page, as well as the recipe for El Chico’s Chorizo, which I intended to add at the time of the post and apparently forgot.

I also took the opportunity to do a bit of updating on the recipes page, and it’s a little easier to find things now.

If you really like cheesecake, there is no end to the recipes you can find online. Check Pinterest, AllRecipes, do a Google search, or any website you prefer, recipes are available with a few clicks. Whether you want gluten-free, low-carb, dairy-free, or you want the best cheesecake there is, go looking for it, you’ll find it. (I just can’t vouch for them all!)

Remember my slow cooker post a few years ago when I made a low-carb chocolate custard? Slow cooking expert Stephanie O’Dea has two recipes on her website for cheesecake, one standard type, and one for pumpkin cheesecake. Both can be made anytime–canned pumpkin is available year-round in the grocery store, likely on the bottom shelf.

Stephanie’s aren’t keto, but if keto isn’t your thing, that’s OK too. I’m thinking maybe a pumpkin cheesecake if we meet up with BF’s family at his Dad’s place up the road. I brought what he calls the waffled  “Awful Falafel” to Thanksgiving last year and loved watching him cringe when his sister, brother-in-law and sister-in-law enjoyed it. That’s what he gets for yakking to his friend in San Diego about my “horrible” cooking. I’m sure a pumpkin cheesecake might be a welcome addition this year, too.

The “Keto House”

On a related note, Jen Fisch’s first book was highly successful and allowed her to buy and renovate a house in Arizona. It’s now available to rent on AirBnB and Homeaway, a beautiful desert oasis that makes me want to plan a trip with BF sometime. It’s big, so we could go with several people, but maybe I just want to go with him, too.

That’s a ways off right now, but darnit, it’s a goal!

That’s all for now. More tasty food coming.

Happy Dining!

 

 

 

 

 

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