Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Call Is Out

These recent pictures inspired me to write the following poem.


 The Call is Out

“Come one, Come all,” their voices sang.
Circling, diving, gliding
over rooftops, wires,
and even nearby shores.

The flocks began to swell
with electrifying speed,
soaring to dizzying heights.

Pelicans, pigeons, skimmers,
herons, cranes and seagulls,
just to name a few.

With their feathered suits,
preened and pressed,
they lined the pier
with stately grace.

As the ship’s horn bellowed
into the evening fog,
a signal the vessel
had just returned.

There they perched
an army of birds
stood at attention
in military formation
welcoming the crew
from a day at sea.

by Sue Ready
_______________________________________________________
As  I explored the diversity of Texas cooking some regional foods were overlooked in the recipes posted such as fish, peaches, pecans and beef.  Hard to cover it all in a month so I thought I'd post some recipes for your consideration.
The first recipe a shrimp salad is one that is tried and true. It was given to me by a lady who has lived here in Texas all her life.      

 South Texas Shrimp Salad

Ingredients:


· 1 cup small shell pasta
· 1 strip celery diced very fine
· 3 hard boiled eggs
· 1/4 c onion minced very fine
· 1/4 c chopped bell pepper (I used red and also very finely chopped)
· 1/2 lb boiled and seasoned shrimp, peeled, deveined and those you can chop in 1/2
· 1/2 lb crabmeat...I used a can of the not very expensive and you couldn't even taste it so you  can forget the crab unless you have some very good lump crab to use
Sauce:
· 1 cup mayo
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 cup sour cream
· 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
· 2 tsp. Heinz cocktail sauce 
 and 1/8 tsp. Sweet Baby Ray's Marinade & Sauce Buffalo Wing Sauce
Directions:
  •  Cut some of the white off the eggs and chopped them very fine too...so you could tell they were in there but couldn't really see big pieces. Cook pasta drain and cool. Mix pasta celery, onion, bell pepper, shrimp and crab in big bowl.

  • In another bowl mix the sauce ingredients and pour it over the pasta mixture. Mix thoroughly and then seal in a  bowl and chill for 4-6 hours or overnight
Recipe submitted by Jo Blaylock 


Little Smokies in Whiskey Sauce
Cook’s note: FYI These little snacks are real popular here and each recipe I found emphasizes the use of  Heinz when purchasing chili sauce. Using whiskey was new to me but sure sounds good to add a little zip:)
Ingredients:
  • 1-cup Jack Daniels’s whiskey
  • 1 cup bottled Heinz chili sauce
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 1-cup brown sugar
  • 2 LB. smoked cocktail sausages
Directions:
  • Combine whiskey and chili sauce, Tabasco and brown sugar in a saucepan
  • Over medium heat stir to blend and simmer 15 minutes or until slightly thickened
  • Add sausages and heat through about 10-15 minutes
  • Transfer to a warming dish/tray or crock pot–use toothpicks for serving
 Candied Pecans
Ingredients:
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
Directions;
  • Toss pecan with oil and place on a baking sheet
  • Bake @350 for 10 minutes stirring every 3 minutes
  • Toss with confectioners sugar in a bowl
  • Cool store in airtight container till ready to use
 Pecan Crusted Red Snapper
Ingredients:
Pecan Crust Breading
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or use Panko crumbs
  • 2 cups finely chopped pecans (use food processor)
  • 1 tsp each dried basil, oregano, whole leaf thyme, white pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced

Pecan Crusted Red Snapper

  • 6 boned fillets red snapper (could substitute another type of fillet)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup olive oil
Directions:
  • Pulse all breading ingredients in food processor until medium fine place in flat dish and set aside
  • Prepare fish
  • Combine eggs and milk to create an egg wash
  •  Dredge red snapper in flour until well dusted and then pass floured fillet through egg wash wetting the entire fillet and then through pecan breading-use hands to press in breading to fillet
  • Set aside on a cookie sheet till all fillets are completed with breading
  • Heat oil in pan and sauté fillets until golden brown in batches of 2 or 3
  • As each one is cooked place on a baking sheet in warm oven @ 180
  • Serve with a sauce made of garlic/lemon/herb juice

Fredericksburg Peach French Toast

Ingredients:
  • 3 fresh peaches
  • 1 (3 oz.) cream cheese softened
  • 3 Tb. chopped pecans
  • 12 bread slices
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • ½ milk
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
Directions:
  • Finely chop 1 peach and stir in pecan and cream cheese in a small bowl
  • Spoon 1-1/2 TB. of cream cheese mixture onto each of the 6 bread slices-spreading evenly
  • Top each with remaining bread slices
  • Beat eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in small bowl
  • Dip each sandwich into egg mixture
  • Melt 1 TB. butter over medium heat-might have to add more butter to complete toasting
  • Cook 2 sandwiches at a time 3 minutes per side
  • Slice other two peaches and place thin slices on top of each cooked cream cheese/ egg bread mixture
  • Drizzle with syrup
 Brisket with Barbecue Mop Sauce
Texas barbecues range from ribs to goat to sausages but beef brisket remains king. The brisket is basted  and served with a sauce called mop sauce. This sauce also is excellent on pork ribs too. It adds flavor and retains the tenderness in cooked meats even after slow roasting. Be sure to add foil under meat when basting to catch the drips. 
Ingredients:
  • 1 TB. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. chili powder or chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 TB. butter
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1-cup Lone Star beer (Texas) or some other kind of lager
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 TB. steak sauce
  • 2 TB. brown sugar
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
Directions:
  • Combine black pepper, chili powder, paprika, and cumin –set aside
  • In saucepan melt butter and sauté onions, peppers and garlic
  • Add spice pepper mixture and cook 2 minutes
  • Add rest of ingredients and stir till well blended
  • Simmer 15 minutes
  • Makes 5 cups










The World According to Bella

Did you know that there is just .0006 percent chance of being born on Leap Year Day?
Very few people born on leap year day will have a golden birthday. A golden birthday is when your age matches the date of the day you were born. So you would be 116 years old when you could celebrate your golden birthday.
Good news for the ladies…today Feb 29th it is a day when woman can ask for a man’s hand in marriage, so a woman no longer has to wait for a man to ask her. Check out movie that Amy Adams was in called Leap Year on this very subject. It was good.

____________________________________________________________________
The World According to Bella
Mrs. S seems to be hogging computer. Does she not get it! I have been waiting patiently to get on. I insisted she add this cartoon I picked out.

30 days here has gone by fast. I've settled in quite nicely and have my routine down. Now they want me to leave. Just as I was getting used to being outside all day long, going to the park and walking along the beach.  But Mr. C and Mrs. S tell me I will really like our next out of the way stop (which reads to me like another long, long car trip) Mississippi. Hey, I even spelled it right! 
To keep myself occupied while they scramble around packing I decided to make a list about what I leaned visiting Texas

  • I can never catch those darn cats
  • Everyday is a “bad hair day”
  • Everyone stops and calls me “a pretty dog”
  • Some places let me inside and are generous with doggie biscuits
  • A fenced in yard is like having a giant playpen
  • I am a way bigger size than most dogs here
  • When highly motivated (like to catch a bird or cat )I can open the screen door on my own.
  • It is possible to shed one’s winter coat in 30 short days
  • Mrs. S is capable of writing lots of blogs when “housebound”
  • Everyone and I mean almost everyone here drives a pick-up
  • I think there are more RV and trailers here than in Florida
  • You need a birding book to figure all the birds’ names
  • I hear “Y”All come back” a lot
  • We are called Winter Texans
  • Everyone is real friendly and waves to us a lot
  • I have yet to catch a bird
  • Mr. C and Mrs. S take real good care of me
Wish me luck sitting in the van for all those long, long hours.  I just hope this place they call Mississippi is good.


    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    A Suprise

    Imagine my surprise when browsing a new issue of BHG Special Publications 2012 Chicken Dinners in Texas (I might add a long way from home) and I read the page with the recipe Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. At the top of the recipe it reads...If there were such a thing as a state soup, Minnesota's would be some version of this rich, creamy soup. Well, now Minnesota  besides being known as the queen of the hot dish/casserole scene (see blog posting January 19th 2012) we can now lay claim to wild rice soup:) 
    I am posting their recipe and my own below. My recipe differs from BHG as the chicken and wild rice are cooked first before adding to the soup and there is an addition of some extra spices. 
     Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
    Recipe from BHG Chicken Dinners Special Interest Publication 2012
    Ingredients:
    • ½ cup finely chopped carrots
    • ½ cup finely chopped onions
    • ½ cup finely chopped celery
    • 1 TB. butter
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 3/4 cup wild rice uncooked, rinsed and drained
    • 12 oz. boneless chicken and cut in pieces
    • 2 TB. flour
    • 2 TB. butter
    • 2 cups half and half and light cream
    • Ground pepper-salt
    Directions:
    • In a large saucepan sauté carrots, celery, onions in 1 TB. butter for 4-5 minutes
    • Add broth and wild rice bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmer for 30minutes
    • Add chicken and simmer 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender
    • In small bowl add flour, 2 TB. softened butter to make a smooth paste-stir into rice mixture and cook uncovered till thickened
    • Cook and stir for one minute
    • Add half and half and cook over medium heat until heated through
    • Season to taste with pepper and salt
    • Serves 4
     _______________________________________________________________________
    Ever Ready’s Wild Rice Soup-Serves 4-6

    Ingredients:
    • 1-2 TB. butter
    • ½ cup grated carrots
    • ½ cup finely chopped onions
    • ½ cup finely chopped celery
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped silvered almonds
    • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
    • 2-3 cups cooked wild rice
    • 1/3 cup flour
    • 4 cans chicken broth
    • 2 cups half and half
    • 2 cups chopped cooked ham or chicken
    • 1/8 tsp. curry
    • ¼ tsp. dry mustard
    • ¼ tsp. paprika
    • 1/8 tsp. marjoram
    • 2 TB. fresh chives
    • 2 TB. fresh parsley flakes
    • 1/3-cup sherry-optional
    Directions:

    ·Mix flour with chicken broth and set aside

    In butter, sauté carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery, almonds in fry pan

    • In soup pot add sauté mixture,chicken or ham, chicken broth with flour mixture
    • Cook on medium heat till thick
    • Add cooked wild rice, whisk in the seasonings
    • Cook 1 minute
    • Turn heat to low-medium setting: add half and half 
    • Cook on low heat for 30 minutes but do not let soup mixture boil
    • Add sherry in at end before serving



    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Longfellow

    February 27, 1807-March 24, 1882
    Listen my children and you shall hear
    Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
    On the eighteenth of April in seventy five
    Hardly a man is now alive
    Who remembers that famous day and year.

    First verse from Paul Revere's Ride written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

    Longfellow became the first American poet inducted into the poet's corner in Westminster Abbey, London, England. He is known for his long narrative lyrical poems such as The Song of Hiawatha and Paul Revere's Ride. He also created verse that became popular for children to recite such as The Village Blacksmith
    It is interesting to note that while he had a lot of literary successes Longfellow suffered many personal losses. His first wife died in miscarriage. His second wife whom he courted for 7 years bore him 6 children. One day while using a candle and sealing wax her dress caught fire. She died several days later due to extensive burns. Longfellow in trying to save his wife suffered extensive permanent facial injuries. Thus when you see pictures of him he is always bearded.
    The Cambridge Bridge was renamed Longfellow Bridge in 1927 in honor of Longfellow who wrote about this bridge in the poem The Bridge in 1845. It spans the Charles River connecting Cambridge to Boston. Locals refer to it as the Salt and Pepper Bridge due to the shape of the central towers.

    Sunday, February 26, 2012

    A Toast

    Life moves pretty fast. 
    If you don't stop to look around once 
    in awhile you could miss it.
    From the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off
    So as the Oscars unfold here's a toast-enjoy



    Mexican Coffee

    Recipe form The San Antonio Tex-Mex Cookbook
    A little Kalhua and cinnamon turn regular coffee into a fiesta in a cup

    Ingredients:
    • 1-1/2 oz Kalhua or other coffee liqueur
    • 1 cup fresh brewed coffee
    • 1 TB. whip cream
    • A dash of cinnamon

    Directions:
    • Combine coffee liqueur and coffee
    • Top with whip cream
    • Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon 



      Texas Sheet Cake



      Texas Sheet (Sheath) Cake aka: Mexican Chocolate Cake

      Cook’s note: I dare not mess too much with this classic cake that epitomizes Southern hospitality. But I will say there are many variations of this recipe to choose from online and in cookbooks. Some use sour cream in the cake while other recipes opt for using buttermilk instead. I picked a Mexican Chocolate Cake recipe from a recently purchased cookbook The San Antonio Tex-Mex Cookbook. I added 2 TB Kahula and substituted coffee instead of water for the cake.
      Oh, my this was soooooooooooo good and I might add Oscar worthy if having a party today
      Ingredients:
      Cake
      • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
      • 1 cup water or freshly brewed coffee
      • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
      •  2 cups flour
      •  2 cups sugar
      • 1 tsp. baking soda
      • 2 eggs beaten
      • ½ cup buttermilk
      • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
      • 1 tsp. vanilla
      • ¼ tsp. salt
      • 1/2 cup oil
      • optional 1/8 cup Kahlua

      Icing:
      •  ¼ cup butter
      • 4 TB. unsweetened cocoa
      • 9 TB. milk
      • 2-1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
      • 1 cup chopped pecans

      Directions:
      Cake
      • Melt butter in saucepan, add cocoa and water or coffee
      • Bring to a boil and set this mixture aside
      • In a bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, soda and pour into hot cocoa mixture stirring   with a wooden spoon to mix well
      • Beat eggs and add in buttermilk, oil cinnamon, vanilla, optional Kahlua and beat well and pour in chocolate mixture and beat all ingredients
      • Pour into greased 13 x 9 pan or a jelly roll pan with sides
      • Bake @ 375 for 25 minutes in a 13 x 9 pan or 400@ for 20 minutes in jelly roll with sides -check center for doneness with large toothpick
      • Cool cake 15 minutes before pouring on freshly made frosting  
      Icing:
      • Melt butter in saucepan medium low heat and add cocoa and milk, whisking to blend well
      • Bring to a boil and set aside
      • Place powdered sugar in mixing bowl and then add hot chocolate mixture beat well to remove lumps optional to add 2 TB. Kahula and may have to add a little more milk for right consistency
      • Stir in nuts and pour over cake or leave nuts out and sprinkle nuts immediately after pouring on frosting- the frosting amount is generous so you might think about not using all but any left over icing tastes great right out of the bowl :)  

      Saturday, February 25, 2012

      Chicken Enchiladas


      "Always walk through life as if you have something new to
      learn and you will."

      -- Vernon Howard 


      Chicken Enchiladas
      Recipe from a new publication called Chicken Dinners 2012 (found at grocery stores/bookstores until May 1) serves 6 made some adaptations
      Cook’s notes:
      • The recipe called for using either flour or corn tortillas. I used corn because after some reading found that corn tortillas are considered more authentic for enchiladas. I warmed tortillas in microwave 20 seconds on high covered with paper towels rather than frying to make them softer for handling and to keep fat count down. Keep covered while working so they do not dry out
      • For a lower calorie count used low fat cream cheese, sour cream and chicken soup.
      Ingredients:
      • 1/3 cup silvered almonds
      • ½ cup chopped onion
      • 1 can kidney beans drained and rinsed
      • ½ green pepper diced and ½ red pepper diced
      • 1 can diced green chile peppers
      • 1-3 oz. low fat cream cheese
      • 2 TB. milk
      • ½ tsp. each cumin, chili powder and dried oregano
      • 3 cups cooked and shredded chicken used deli rotisserie chicken as a huge time saver
      • 8-10 corn tortillas-depends on how much filling you use recipe called for using 1/4 cup filling
      • 1-10oz. reduced fat cream of chicken soup
      • ½ cup sour cream
      • called for 1-cup milk but used green enchilada sauce with chiles( 10 oz. can)  instead of milk and it was great! 
      • 2 cups Monterey Jack
      • added chopped tomatoes
      Directions:
      • Toast slivered almonds on cookie sheet 350 for a few minutes and set aside
      • Sauté onions, and peppers in 1Tb olive oil remove from heat and add 1 TB. canned chile peppers and rinsed kidney beans
      • In a bowl combine softened cream cheese, 2TB. milk, spices, shredded chicken, and onion/pepper/beans mixture, stir till smooth
      • In a 3 quart greased baking rectangular dish fill each warmed tortillas and place seam side down in dish used ¼ cup of enchilada sauce on bottom before adding finished rolled tortillas
      • For sauce combine reserved chile peppers, soup, sour cream and 1 cup milk or the substituted green enchilada sauce pour mixture evenly over tortillas 
      • Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and shredded cheese
      • Bake 350 covered for 35 minutes, remove foil- add almonds bake 5 minutes longer
      • Let set 10-15 minutes before cutting-serve with side of chopped lettuce, salsa, olives







      Thursday, February 23, 2012

      The World According to Bella

      Juvenile Antics (at least by Mr. C and Mrs. S standards)
      My feelings are hurt. I overheard Mrs. S telling Mr. C that my late night behavior is just like having a toddler around. Well blame it on those darn cats!!! They are always prowling around the yard outside the fence all day and through the night. Since my doggie ears are quite sensitive to any sounds they wake me up from a deep sleep. And sometimes I am having the best dreams about catching rabbits. So when I hear them I need to show those cats a thing or two. 
      My pacing back and forth with my doggie nails click- clacking on the floor wake Mr. C and Mrs. S up. Of course they are never sure if I really just need to do "my business" and it is an emergency. They are easily fooled. Just as the front door gets opened I fly down the steps, snarling,growling and barking. I run furiously around and around the yard. Now remember this cozy little house is built on stilts. It is 6 feet off the ground and with a fence the enclosed area has been my private doggie track. The last few nights I had my people up at least three times. But I just couldn't help myself. Then after the recent garbage incident they now don't consider my antics one bit cool or cute.
      One of the up and out- up and down- nights I exhausted myself running round and round trying to scare those darn cats off. And I know there is more than one out there. Then I found the garbage can unattended without a top. What a discovery in  the wee hours of the morning! The wafting  smells made my nose twitch. Finally I couldn't stand stand it one minute longer. I pushed over the can and began pawing furiously into the tied bag. Just as I  was polishing off the remains of the Broccoli/Ham cornbread dinner I was yanked by my collar and scolded by Mr. C. He had been waiting for some time by the door wondering what I was doing.  And boy was he mad! I might add he doesn't like to miss his sleep.
      Last night I used some self control and got up only once. 
      I posted a picture of me at the beach. Being well behaved of course since I was on leash. And  I did not even try for this jelly fish washed ashore. 
      So how do you like the sandcastle we made? I thought it needed a moat!


      Wednesday, February 22, 2012

      February 22, 1732-December 14th ,1779
      Today is the birthday of an American general, commander in chief of colonial armies in American Revolution and first president of the U.S, George Washington. Two interesting facts about Washington is that he declined a third term of being president. With with exception of Franklin Roosevelt's three year term he set a precedence for a two year limit for presidency.
      Perhaps a little known fact: Washington over time cracked so many Brazilian nuts with his teeth (that is according to John Adams, second president) he lost all but one of his real teeth. He then had dentures made from hippopotamus tusks.   
      February 22, 1892-1951
      Edna St. Vincent Millay was an American lyrical poet, playwright. and feminist. She received the American Pulitzer prize in 1923 for Ballad of Harp Weaver.  Her opera King's Henchman in 1927 was quite popular. She is well known for coining  the phrase, "My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah my foes, and oh my friends, give it a lovely light. 
      Little known fact: Her middle name St. Vincent comes from the name of a New York hospital where her uncle had received care after an accident at sea and her parents thought this was a fitting tribute. 
      _____________________________________________________________
      It was brought to my attention by a Texan living next door to us that I really needed to include King's Ranch Chicken Casserole in my blog. Especially since we visited the ranch last week. I am told this dish is quite popular with Texans. So here it is...Sounds quite good:)
      King Ranch Chicken Casserole  
      Ingredients: 
      • 1 cooked large chicken fryer
      • 1 onion chopped
      • 1 green bell chopped
      • 1 garlic clove, minced and pressed
      • 1 can of mushroom soup
      • 1 can of chicken soup
      • 1 cup of chicken broth 1 can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with green chiles
      • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese an/or Monterey Jack Cheese
      • 1 dozen corn or flour tortillas, sliced in 1 inch strips (6 inch size)

      Directions:
      • Cook and debone chicken and shred with fingers into bite size pieces set aside
      • Saute onion, garlic,pepper till tender
      • Combine soups, broth and tomatoes to make the sauce
      • Grease a casserole dish, layer 1/2 chicken, 1/2 sauce,1/2 tortillas, 1/2 sauteed vegetables and 1/2 cheese and repeat with another layer ending with cheese
      • Bake uncovered 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly
      • Serves 6-8

      Tuesday, February 21, 2012

      Pecan Coconut Streusel Coffee Cake

      "Trust that little voice in your head that says 'Wouldn't it

      be interesting if...' And then do it."

      by Duane Michals 
      American photographer

      Recently this bag of coffee pictured went a long journey. It was a gift that started out in Belize and landed in  Minnesota. And then the bag was sent south to Texas. I must say it was a "first " trying coffee from Belize. A cup of this wonderful coffee just begged to be served with a slice of Texas Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake.  What a great gift for one who loves coffee. 
      Ingredients:
      Coffee cake
      • 1-1/2 cups flour
      • 3/4 cup sugar
      • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
      • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
      • 1/2 tsp. salt
      • 1/3 cup softened butter
      • 2/3 cup buttermilk
      • 1 large egg 
      • 1tsp. cinnamon
      • 1tsp. vanilla
      Streusel
      • 1/4 cup flour
      • 1/4 cup brown sugar
      • 2 TB. butter softened
      • 1/3 cup flaked coconut
      • 1 tsp. cinnamon
      • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
      Directions:
      • Preheat oven 350 glass pan or 325 using a dark or non stick pan
      • Grease a 8 inch pan with PAM
      • In a large bowl stir flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt till mixed
      • Cut in 1/3 cup butter using two forks or pastry blender till mixture crumbly
      • Add buttermilk, egg, and vanilla
      • Beat on medium for 1 minute
      • Spread in pan
      • In small bowl mix all streusel ingredients except coconut and pecans on low mixer speed
      • Stir in remaining ingredients and sprinkle over batter
      • Bake 30 minutes if at 350 temperature if baking at 325 add about 10 minutes more but check at 35 or until toothpick comes out clean from center
      • Serve warm

      Monday, February 20, 2012

      The World According to Bella

      "Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen
      to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the

      never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen,

      child. Anything can be."


      -- Shel Silverstein 

      Hit and Miss

      Well I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this sign in the window! Talk about southern hospitality. I knew this was the place for me. I could hardly wait to get inside and practically dragged Mrs.S through the door. It got even better with a nearby water dish and this guy handing out biscuits.   

      Can you imagine being let inside an aquarium? Where I came from it that would be a no-no. Inside I had no idea what to expect. Lucky I have long legs and was able to see all the tanks. This one was my favorite-a leopard spotted eel. Though a bit scary looking.

      Just when I thought I was on a roll for field trips it came to a screeching halt. I had to miss a boat trip to nearby wildlife refuge. The sign: No Pets Allowed told me loud and clear I was not wanted. And was I disappointed.  I love boat rides.  At the lake I never miss one. And this boat ride around here is considered a big deal. The Wharf Cat goes to the refuge to see whooping cranes who are wintering here in Texas. I'll bet you did not know that a flock of them like some 200 fly over 2,000 miles from Canada each year to come here just for the winter. Must like the weather.

      In this pictures taken by Mrs. S the cranes are forging (hey... a new vocabulary word for me)  in shallow waters and in fields. They seldom eat fish but like crabs, frogs, berries, small reptiles and plants.

      Mr. C thought the whooping cranes seemed larger than he had expected. Standing tall at  5 feet with a wingspan of 7-1/2 feet didn't impress me much. When I stretch out on the floor I'm 5 feet nose to tail. Just no wingspan to brag about.  Anyway they look small to me in the picture.

      This was  the picture I liked best a Blue Heron in flight.

      While they were gone I did some serious napping on the floor back at the house. Tomorrow I get to go back to the beach that Mrs. S missed two weeks ago due to her leg injury. I am so happy she is up for this trip. She always packs good snacks.  

      Sunday, February 19, 2012

      Tex-Mex Cuisine

      Tex-Mex food is a cuisine that has evolved over the centuries since the Spanish conquered Mexico then ventured north to explore Texas. Hispanic people were living in Texas as early as the 1700's. In the mid 1800's there was a huge influx of Germans who settled in the Texas Hill Country and in the central Texas region bringing their culture and food. After the Civil War ranching started to flourish bringing Texans love of beef and barbecues. 
      In the introduction to the cookbook Lone Star Eats by Terry Thompson-Anderson, the editor sums up the diversity of foods found in Texas by saying," The way we eat in Texas reflects the sum of all our parts."  
      She was referring to how the geography and the diverse ethnic groups that have settled in the state have dictated the types of food available from coastal regions, to Rio Grande Valley to Hill Country to Central Texas Regions.  
      I splurged and bought the cookbook Lone Star Eats. It is a huge volume of over 500 recipes that has been gathered from some 65 Texas cookbooks. Will certainly keep me busy exploring Tex-Mex cuisine. The following recipe started out with one from the book, then it morphed to one from Southern Living and lastly ended up being this one. 
      FYI:I had never thought of making Mexican lasagna with corn tortillas instead of pasta. I really liked the change.




      __________________________________________________________________
       Mexican Lasagna
      Cook’s note: This recipe has several options.
      There are a variety of chiles to choose from depending on your palate for “hotness”. Jalapeno and Serrano chiles are fresh. You can moderate the heat of fresh chiles by removing seeds and the whitish veins inside the chiles before using them. Poblano chile is peeled before used. When the poblano chile is dried it is called ancho chile. Jalapeno chiles when dried and smoked are called chipotle chiles.
      Toppings can be varied using combination of chopped lettuce/tomatoes/sour cream
      Salas can be varied depending on level of “hotness” mild, medium, hot
      Kidney beans or black beans
      The following recipe calls for using a 9 inch pan and serves 4-6
      Ingredients:
      ·        1-LB. ground beef
      ·        ½-3/4 cup onions diced
      ·        ½ green pepper diced
      ·        ½ red pepper diced
      ·        2 cloves of garlic minced
      ·        optional chiles
      ·        ½-1 TB. chili powder
      ·        1 tsp. dried oregano
      ·        ¼ tsp. cumin
      ·        1-16 oz. jar of salsa
      ·        ½ can refried beans
      ·        8 oz of enchilada sauce
      ·        1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
      ·        optional black olives
      ·        1 can black beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
      ·        3-4 cups Mexican cheese (package found in dairy section)
      ·        1 package of yellow corn tortillas (6 inch size) you will need 10
      ·        optional chopped tomatoes and lettuce
      Directions:
      ·        Brown ground beef with onions, red/green peppers, garlic
      ·        Drain and add mixture back to fry pan
      ·        Add spices, salsa, enchilada sauce, refried beans, corn, beans
      ·        Cook on low heat for 10 minutes uncovered
      ·        Grease 9 inch pan and place 4 tortillas in bottom of pan overlapping-to fill in spaces cut another tortilla into 4ths and use that one
      ·        Place half of the meat mixture on top of tortillas and ½ of the cheese
      ·        Repeat with another layer ending with cheeses, black olives can be added at this time
      ·        Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35 minutes-remove foil and cook 5 minutes longer
      ·        Let set 15 minutes before cutting
      ·        Can serve with chopped tomatoes/lettuce/sour cream on the side