Remember back when this blog had a life? When there were recipes, photos, ideas and sometimes even reflections and sorting out jumbled thoughts?
That is what I want to get back to. Facebook has turned me into a sideliner who can't muster up much more than a random drive-by "like" or some sort of emoticon left as evidence that I was still out there.
Has it really been that long since my last post? Most people would think that I must be living an exciting life, right? Wrong.
That would maybe help explain my reluctance to keep up to date here, but really I just haven't had anything of interesting to share. I don't know if it's the winter doldrums or what but I just seem to be going through the motions these past months. I must need a boost in my vitamin D levels, or just maybe just some sunshine would do the trick. While I know that tanning beds are not good for our skin, I wonder if I should do five minute sessions two or three times a week to help with that.
Not much going on in the kitchen department. With K. being out of the state three out of the last four weeks, I haven't seen the need to get carried away. We'll see what happens when he returns...
Usually this time of year I start looking forward to spring and thinking about the yard. I get so excited about making plans for the pots and the pallet garden. This year I'm going to scale it way back. I can't even venture to guess how much money we have spent on plants for this place each year. Most of my perennials don't make it through the winter although we group them together and bury them under a huge pile of leaves. This year we didn't get them gathered up in time due to the fact that we had constant rain at the end of fall. And for most of a way too cold summer season as well. When we had a break in the rain, I did make the attempt to cover them with leaves but most were frozen to the ground and what I did use ended up blowing away a week or so later...Best to just do a few hanging baskets, my rock garden and a few containers of kale, lettuce and maybe some Brussels sprouts. I've got way too many containers and pots so along with getting rid of some of our unnecessary junk items from the interior hoard, I'm going to cull the gardening collection extensively! Wish me luck in this endeavor and pray that my yard sale will be an amazing success! I need to simplify--stat!
See what I mean about excitement? Woo-Hoo.
What are some things that are weighing you down? What makes that mid-winter slump a little lighter for you?
A couple of weeks ago, K. and I along with our friend Terry attended a fund raiser for The Red Cross. It was a casual gathering called A Taste of Mardi Gras. Fourth Street was blocked off between G and H streets and the rain took a break for the festivities. Admission was $30.00 which included one libation and all the food a person wanted!
There were many representatives for the fine restaurants in the city, each offering up their version of New Orlean fare. Sadly I can't find a list of the ones that were there, but Ginger and Gumbo House are the two I can remember. I have to say all of the things I sampled were great!
Beads and charactors everywhere--many went all in and dressed up.
Does this guy remind you of anybody?
Nice young lady.
These two look related, but they aren't. ;)
The King and I!
There were dancers of all kinds. Belly and otherwise.
This gentle man was so generous. I asked him if I could take his picture, and he was hesitant at first. I told him I wouldn't take his photo if he objected, that it was his right to refuse and I would respect that. He asked to shake my hand. After we did, he exclaimed that my hand was freezing! He then turned his bike around and said he would make one approach, stop and let me have one shot, "So make it good!" After that, he reached into his pack and gave me this...
He insisted I take it to exercise my hands to increase circulation; also to help allieviate the arthritus he ascertained existed in my left thumb-joint. This all derived when he clasped both of my hands in an attempt to rub them gently to warm them a bit. This was a chance encounter that lasted but a few moments, yet it has stuck with me. He is clearly a person of very modest means, a big heart and was so kind to me.
This was his friend, and he was quick to let me know that his friend never allows anyone to take his photo. Never. This fellow was also very concerned the scrape along the right side of his face would mar his cameo. I suggested a 3/4 view. He acquiesced and told a tale of an epic bicycle wreck during one of our recent wind/rain storms in his neighborhood of Government Hill, hence the scrape Coincidentally, Karl works in that same neighborhood. We had driven through there the morning after that particular storm and I am not surprised by his tale of the whole incident. He was returning from downtown to check on his wife. There's a clandestine homeless community in this neighborhood that I'm pretty sure they are a part of. This encounter with these two men is one more way for me to reach out to the people who are a part of this town's disadvantadged. I just can't believe there are folks that live without shelter in this place during the winter months. It just--no words! I can't articulate my feelings about this subject. I am honoured that both of these proud and determined men allowed me to have the gift of a conversation with them. Thanks, guys!
I've been using the hand grip thingy almost every day and have to report that I am seeing an increased mobility in my left hand. Yay! When I see him again, I will give him my thanks!
After that, we decided to check out the bars on the block. They were helping sponsor the event, so it was our civic duty!
The Anchor Pub and Club.
Cool old school interior.
(Except for the ugly trash can.)
Bet you can guess the name of this hot spot. Didn't much care for this one. WTH is the allure of a mechanical bull, anyway?
Friends havin' fun!
Nurse! (Notice she'e getting a bit blurry.)
Our next stop was my favorite. The Pioneer Bar, definitely a great vibe in here. I felt comfotable and the place was reasonably packed. Just enough folks enjoying the evening with friends.
Last stop--started to rain a little.
Please step away from the shot!
Fourth Avenue in the mid to late 1950's.
Fourth Avenue 2012.
All in all it was a great night, and we left just as the rain began again in earnest!
I know that I talk about being home sick at times a lot. One of the ways I deal with that is through the foods I cook for myself and K. Today, I'd like to share a simple recipe that can be used many ways. I can't take credit for it though, it's through K's sister's generosity that I now know how to make this any time I'm craving one of my favorite foods!
In New Mexico, you can just buy it already prepared at your local market.
It's made in Albuquerque by a company that's been around for a while and it's pretty good, but you'll find many native New Mexicans prefer to make their own. Traditionally you begin with dried red chile pods, but I like to use red chile powder. It saves a little time. Just be sure to get the powder that has no additives as some companies think it's okay to put non-food ingredients in the powder in order to prevent clumping.
1/2 C. corn oil
6 Tblsp. all purpose flour
1 C. Red chile powder, medium or hot (I like hot!)
3 Large cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
1 Tblsp. pressed onion (I do this in the garlic press.)
3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano
4 C. cold water
In a large sauce pan toast the chile powder on medium-high heat. Be careful not to breathe in directly over the stove. Chile fumes are not fun! Ventilate well while performing this task. When it reaches the smoking point, remove from heat and reserve in a bowl for later.
Toasting the powder.
Add the corn oil to the pan over medium-high heat. Let it reach temperature, and stir in the garlic and onion. Saute these together for a couple of minutes until the garlic is clear being careful not to burn the garlic. Remove the garlic and onion from the oil with a slotted spoon. Reserve that for later.
Next, brown the flour in the oil. When that's ready stir in the chile powder--remember breathe carefully! Add the cold water, stirring constantly to blend. It should be the consistancy of a thick gravy. If it seems to thick, add more water a little at a time.
After more than a week of fitful sleep and too many projects nipping at our heels, pressure from Karl's work and a seemingly never-ending to do list, I had awakened waaaaay too early yet again! This time rather than toss and turn in frustration, I did the unthinkable and *gasp* I got up and took a shower, had some tea, and dressed before 9:00 AM. I know, I know! Shocking, right? Must be like, the Seventh Sign!
Next, I dug out the pic-a-nic basket, loaded it up with a few things, along with a nice bottle of wine and a decent cloth. I had a plan, and I would flesh out the rest of the goodies later once we got on the road. Karl was ready and he knew I was up to something, wondering quietly what the heck had gotten to me. Gathering up a couple of leashes, jackets, camera, binoculars and the dogs, off we went; in a blizzard of horseradish! (That; folks, is a famous Mom-Mom-ism!)
Initially, my plan began with breakfast. That whole notion disappeared when Karl suggested we hit the downtown market. (By the way; don't click on the link there to watch the commercial! Trust me on this.) We hadn't been this year, so I was game. This year has been pretty meek for the local farmers' markets as it was a cooler than usual season. Most produce yields were down, so we haven't had much luck finding our favorite carrots, potatoes, lettuce and such. Still, it's fun to watch people, peruse the artists' booths and partake in various food items. Think small county fair and you get the picture. It was a fun way to start a Saturday, and enjoy what little sun the day had to offer.
After this outing we got distracted by a couple of yard sales, finding NO good junk! That was really a blessing in disguise as we need to have a yard sale our own selves. Can you say, "Too much stuff?!"
We were set! We decided to head toward the Kenai Peninsula for a nice day trip and to find a great spot for all of us to enjoy. It was starting to look a bit blustery along the Turnagain Arm, but we were escaping our duties as home renovators, so wind be damned! ;)
Meandering our way toward Seward. No real scheme in mind, we rode along enjoying the sights along the way. One of the neat activities on that route is the paved biking trail at 63 mile on the highway just up from Hope. Stunning views! Right here would be a great spot to insert a great photo, but as many times that we've made this trek, we haven't even one pic! I couldn't find one on the innertubes. Sooo; next trip!
This Image of the Trestle Found Here. By Frank Keller #339801.
About mile 14 is the Snow River train trestle. Benson loved that stop. He got to run, "water" a few bushes, splash around in the river a little, smell everything carried on the brisk breeze. He gave it two paws up. No thumbs, you know. Roo, not so much. She hates the wind!
We still had that matter of a picnic! Up the road at 12 mile is our favorite stop on this stretch. Snow River Valley.
This is from June 2010, when we had Gibson for that short year.
Snow River 2010
The lupines at this rest area are beautiful! By August this year they were spent, but the view was still spectacular.
Benson says, "Look what I've found!"
Some seriously wonderful wine!
What a good lookin' Dawg!
When we finished our meal it was time to set off for the trip home. Just up the road from the Snow River Valley, is a wild life viewing boardwalk at about 14.5 mile. It extends over a lilly covered area that is a haven for water fowl and moose. We continued on, enjoying the day and the drive. I didn't feel one bit guilty about shirking the responsibilities at the house!
The junction of the Seward and the Sterling highways is a beautiful spot called Tern Lake. Right before that at 36.0 mile is a great place to spot salmon spawning. Dave's Creek is a great place to walk around, stretch and use the "facilities."
Time to wash up.
It was a bit drizzly, but still not so bad that we couldn't walk around and take a few pics. There were quite a lot of salmon spawning and trying to move up stream. It's amazing how powerful the instinct that drives them to perpetuate the species carries them to their very last breath. It's quite a journey.
The bridge over Dave's Creek.
Looking back in the opposite direction.
Almost at the end...
One of Karl's pics.
When the fire weed blooms to the top of the stalk that indicates winter is six weeks away.
By now, drizzle had become all-out rain, so we climbed back into the car. I can't believe we'd never taken the time to stop there considering the many times we've travel past. We'll have to visit again.
When we reached Indian, I asked Karl to pull over so I could take a photo of Mary Lou Redmond's place. There has been some dispute over the location of the decades old neon sign and its' distance from a federally funded highway.
Personally, I say leave her be. She's one of those colorful characters who has been around for a long time. Her sign should have been grandfathered in when the highway was widened. She's not hurting anyone plus, it reflects a bit of local history. That sign may be the only thing left from the town of Portage.
Here, you can see what the town of Portage looked like before the 1964 earthquake; just after; in