Lazy Lobster in Key Largo….

We’ve never made it down to Lazy Days restaurant, although a number of people have recommended it. The owners have now also opened Lazy Lobster in Key Largo, Bay side. (MM 102, 102770 Overseas Hwy, 305-451-0565; http://lazylobsterinthekeys.com)

A couple of weeks ago I needed to make a run to Key Largo and asked a dear friend if she had half a day open and we’d go down for errands and lunch. Since she didn’t have a particular favorite place in mind she wanted to go to, I suggested we give Lazy Lobster a try. As most people here know, there are lots of restaurants in Key Largo and it’s one of the toughest businesses to be in. It’s not really a surprise they opened in a previous restaurant that wasn’t able to sustain. Another absolute in Key Largo (well, throughout the Keys), is there is only so much waterfront. If you’re not on the water, you really have to focus on food and Lazy Lobster does so. The decor is pleasant, there are some tables on the front porch (okay, you overlook the highway), and more outdoor seating is on the patio.

The food is fresh, well-prepared, a nice variety, and the staff is friendly. Prices are in line with places like the Fish House. If you’re in the mood for raw bar fare you won’t be disappointed and if you have a non-seafood person along, he or she will have plenty of choice as well.

 

Valentine Day Musings…..

Valentine’s Day used to be important to me for reasons that I’m not going to go into. I enjoyed the whole of it even when I didn’t have a “Valentine” to celebrate with. I find that has changed now. I don’t mean I’m anti-Valentine, merely that it doesn’t carry a great deal of significance. Several years ago, we stopped going out because quite frankly, it tends to be the same kind of semi-chaos as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Since we both enjoy cooking, Valentine’s Day is another time we do a special meal at home. (The exception obviously is when we travel.)

We’re at the stage where we buy fewer and fewer gifts and with trying to watch my carbs, a box of lovely candy isn’t really a treat. (Well, okay, a few will do). Flowers are nice, although I’ve never particularly cared for roses because they simply tend to wilt too quickly. I think as much as anything though, with us having been married for more than 28 years, it isn’t that we’ve lost romance. It’s actually the opposite. Our romance is a daily thing, a thing of comfort, of a togetherness that doesn’t need a special day to acknowledge it. After all, when you’re married, there is the anniversary and often the anniversary of when you met. (Which was ironically Feb 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day and then I didn’t see him for a while because he left on a business trip).

I know it can be a difficult day for some people – those who aren’t in a relationship and would like to be or those who recently lost someone they love.

Whatever category you fit into, I hope you enjoy or make it through the day. And if it isn’t an easy day, be gentle with yourself as you reflect.

Coffee Time…..

I didn’t really start drinking coffee until I was in the Army. I always liked the aroma, but didn’t care for the taste. In fact, I’ve posted before about as much as I now love coffee, I still don’t care for coffee-flavored things and do not hand me an iced coffee. In general, I drink three to four mugs in the morning and then might have “social coffee” later in the day as part of a meeting. Coffee after dinner if we’re out is also the norm. With that said, this has turned out to be far busier week for both of us than anticipated. The detailed ins and outs of that aren’t important. A few days ago though the coffee maker starting having problems. Either the pump that sends the water through the basket with the grounds isn’t working or the internal line isn’t clear. In the time the entire pot would usually be made, I barely had one mug’s worth as the machine was gurgling as if all was fine. This, by the way, isn’t something you want to face without the benefit of having had that first mug.

At any rate, after determining the heating element seemed just fine, the obvious solution was the old fashioned method of heating water in the kettle and manually (slowly) pouring the water through the basket. As an aside, as much as we enjoy a French Press, we don’t have one because it is so much easier to hit the button on the coffeemaker and walk away until the coffee is ready. However, this was a semi-emergency. (We do have some packets of instant coffee for all-else fails situations). The solution worked quite well, but neither of us have had time to go and buy a new coffeemaker. If nothing changes, that will be a high priority “to-do” for tomorrow.

Why, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” Is A Phrase…..

The phrase is credited to baseball great Yogi Berra, and anyone watching the Super Bowl last Sunday couldn’t help but think it. With my New Orleans Saints having another poor season, I was glad to see the underdog Falcons, (Hubby’s home team) overcome odds and make it to the Super Bowl. Everyone who watched knows the outcome, but if someone didn’t – it was a double-stunner. The Falcons surged and had a blow-out going. The idea they could keep the New England Patriots scoreless until deep in the third quarter was definitely not expected. And then it happened. It’s called a momentum shift among other things and now the stunning part was all to the Patriots as they roared back and won. If you were not emotionally invested in the game, it was amazing.

There are other phrases, too – like, “You have to play all four quarters” or “Never Give Up”. Now, in all fairness to most of we mortals, the Patriots were favored to win and have a powerhouse team that comes with a multi-million dollar price tag. Their players are some of the highest performing in the sport. For those of us who may be facing obstacles, our resources are likely to be far more limited. On the other hand, there are also times when what we need is encouragement to see our ability and recognize that getting behind doesn’t mean something is hopeless. We can all lose sight occasionally of a goal and absolutely encounter set-backs that cause to want to give up. That doesn’t mean the game is over though. Here’s to anyone who may be going through a bit of a slump.

Women in Agriculture…..

I attend different community events and today was one of those annual gatherings you don’t find in every part of the country. Well, actually, you might these days. As I have mentioned before, the modern history of deep South Florida only dates to the late 1800s due to a lack of roads and the difficult environment of thick foliage, heat, humidity, bugs, and snakes. Once Henry Flagler extended his railroad, getting goods to markets was improved and big packing houses were commonly seen close to the tracks. The large agricultural area here is still “hidden” from many people in Miami who don’t realize the sheer number of acres being grown. And the face of agriculture has changed over the decades. Small family farms have never been easy to keep going and there are new challenges for multiple reasons.

With that said, twelve years ago the Dade County Farm Bureau Women in Agriculture Committee looked closely at the statistics of agriculture in our region and realized numbers backed up something they already knew – women were a significant force in local agriculture. They had the first annual luncheon to publicly acknowledge a woman who made special contributions for that year. These are women who farm along side husbands/parents or in some cases, start their own business. They participate in programs like Ag in the Classroom, helping plant gardens at schools, are advocates for agricultural issues and much more. I didn’t know until today that more than 36% of our farms are owned by women. Today’s honorees were in fact a mother and daughter representing the 3rd and 4th generation of a family who came south in 1917 to plant their first local fields. Although the mother did marry into the farming family, the daughter started with chores and responsibilities at an early age and plans to continue with the family tradition. Right at 100 people were present today at Schnebly’s Winerary and Brewery which is the perfect setting for such an event. It was a delight to be surrounded by these strong women, and yes, there were men there as well.

A Soup Kind of Day….

We do get spoiled in the Sunshine State. When we have rain, it generally comes in bands mixed with partial clouds and sun, but we do have days like today with overcast and little break between rain. Although it’s not pounding rain, it is winter and our temperature did drop. No threat of ice or snow of course, which still puts us in far better shape than having to deal with that. Not to mention it will all clear up within a couple of days and return to our “normal”.  We had already decided on the Spicy Mediterranean Seafood Stew for tonight (I’ve posted that recipe before). Chili will be next week naturally as the Superbowl meal.

In continuing to work on lower carb soups, I thought to try a version of cream of vegetable. I was going to do cream of broccoli and saw we had a bag with a mix of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. We also had some extra Pecorino cheese since I had accidentally grabbed that instead of Parmasean not long ago. What I hadn’t realized was the silken tofu I was going to sub for cream was past it’s “use by” date. However, it wasn’t too much of an impediment.

So, the bag of vegetable mix (4 cups) into 8 cups of vegetable stock; some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Turn to low heat, use the stick blender to “cream” the veggies. Add 1/2 tsp of each: dried red pepper flakes, oregano,basil, thyme. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir 1/2 cup (happened to be the amount left in the container) finely grated Pecorina cheese and cook another 5 minutes.

It’s obviously low in fat, although I didn’t do  a calorie count. It comes in at 17 carbs per bowl, which in this case held four ladles full (standard soup ladle). Granted, that’s higher than the turkey and sausage soup I previously posted, but it’s also packed with veggies. It just depends on what you’re in the mood for.

Snuffle and Sigh……

Our temperate winter weather doesn’t keep cold germs from being transported in. Well, maybe they come plenty of other ways, too. Anyway, Hubby got it first and initially I thought I would escape, but no such luck. Before I continue, let me say I’ve become more cautious about differentiating between a common cold and something worse. A couple of years ago, I ignored what were actually pretty obvious symptoms and went through nearly a month of bronchitis bordering on pneumonia. This go-round, the usual TV ads were on about colds and medications and I decided to give a try to one advertised as helping shorted the severity and length of a cold. Remember, the standard cold lasts 7-10 days. With this method, you can use nasal swabs, a nasal spray, tablets that dissolve, or crystals you put on your tongue to dissolve. The clear warning though is to start treatment the minute you feel the first symptom. In my case, it was pretty close to that. I chose the dissolving tablets and later picked up some of the nasal spray.

The first four days I was very nearly won over, then Day 5 was like going backward. I was also told, however, I shouldn’t have used that product alone, but could have combined it with a standard product as well. Hmm, didn’t think about that. I have swapped back to regular products. At the moment, it seems as if I will come in at the 7-day mark instead of 10, although we’ll see.

Along those lines, what I have been doing when traveling is using another of the products advertised. I start taking it 3 days prior to travel, throughout the trip, then for 2 days after. It’s difficult to know if that has had any impact. All I can say is since I’ve been doing this, I haven’t picked up a cold during travel. On the other hand, I know an older lady who swears a daily dose of apple cider vinegar and honey is the best prevention you can use for a number of things. Thoughts?

Something About the Blues…..

Despite not being quite myself with battling a cold last night, we’d had tickets for weeks to see Muddy on the Waters, A Blue’s Tribute at the Seminole Theatre. I grabbed a nap and we had dinner at home instead of out as we usually do as part of a theater evening. It was the Nighthawks performing with Muddy Waters’ son, “Muds” Morganfield joining them in the second part. I had debated about going, but I had also booked us a seat on the aisle so that meant I could be on the side and not breathe on anyone other than Hubby and it was his cold that was passed to me anyway. What a fun performance it was and a really talented group. In looking around, there was definitely a preponderance of Baby Boomers. There were some younger people too, but it got us to wondering if the Blues as a music genre is fading. I certainly hope not.

In fact, we sat next to a couple visiting from Iowa.The gentleman is a big National Parks fan and they’d been to the Everglades earlier and will be headed down to Dry Tortugas. They are major Blues enthusiasts and assured us the Davenport, Iowa Blues Festival is well attended every year. It’s actually the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival put on by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society and this past July was their 31st. Having been to the area multiple times during my Army days, summertime is when you want to have an outdoor festival. On the other hand, that’s also peak dive season here, so I doubt we’ll be headed up there. Then again, we haven’t tried the Blues, Beer, and BBQ Festival at Fruit and Spice Park since that first year. I’ll have to see if it’s still an annual event.

A “Modern” Classic…..

One of the reasons we added Kindles in our household is because like so many people, we cannot bring ourselves to throw away books and there really are limited places to give them to. By the way, for those who might not know, the Homestead Kiwanis have a marvelous “Just One Book” program where they give books away at different events. They mostly need children and young adult books though and we have none of those left around.

Anyway, back to the main point of the post. We have a stationary recumbent bike we both use 2-3 times a week. When Hubby is on it, he watches a lot of webinars. I pop in a DVD and depending on the DVD, may also read. The other day, when I was looking through the numerous filled bookshelves, I saw Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig. Published in 1974, it was praised as, “The Fabulous Journey of a Man in Search of Himself”, and sold quite well. Bear with me for another aside because it’s pertinent as to why I didn’t read the book before. Most of you who follow this blog are aware my first husband, my son’s father, was killed in an accident when our son was only four months old. The wonderful man I married eight years later is the one I usually talk about in these blogs and he has been a terrific stepfather. I was a Captain at the time of my first husband’s death and through one of those quirks in Army assignments, I wound up in a special training course several months later. Let’s just say I was still going through emotional adjustment. During a discussion with some friends, as the topic turned to unexpected blows most of us encounter at some point, one guy said, “I suggest you read  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I think it would be of interest.” I politely said I would, not particularly planning to. About three months after, I was settling into the new house at my new assignment, and having put off unpacking multiple boxes of books, decided to tackle that task.

And there it was, in the second box I opened, right on top – a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I certainly hadn’t bought it, so it had to have been one of the many books my first husband had when we merged households. I was startled, but still wasn’t ready to read it. I did, however, keep it all these years and am just getting started on it. We’ll see how it goes and I’ll post later after I finish.

And Four More Days Slip Past…..

Goodness, gracious, I’ve managed to let four more days elapse without posting. I do try to post every three days and more in between if there’s something extra special. Part of it though is I really did fall behind after almost killing my travel notebook computer. As it turned out, I only killed the keyboard and there is an on-screen one I can use. Well, that’s assuming I can adapt to the keyboard, which happens to be another of the technology things I don’t do well with. Hubby, however, is okay with it and now comes one of the interesting aspects of technology. Please excuse the use of name brands this time, but it’s directly applicable to the subject.

When Hubby was trying to decide if he wanted a Surface like I had or an IPad, he gave it a lot of thought and finally decided on the IPad. When my Surface began to have problems, we took a look and unlike technology that normally falls in price as new generations are released, that hasn’t happened with the Surface. So, for me, we swapped instead to a little notebook computer which I enjoyed all of the ten days I owned it. Getting back to me actually killing only the keyboard. Hubby showed me the on-screen keyboard and it quickly became apparent this was not going to work. Since replacing the keyboard would cost about half as much as buying another notebook, he’ll be getting me a new one. However, he’s fine with the on-screen keyboard and the partially crippled notebook computer allows him to do things he couldn’t with the IPad. So, it hasn’t been a complete loss as he now has his IPad and the notebook in addition to his regular desktop and of course we have IPhones. I’m not going to say the house is beginning to look like an electronics shop, but there certainly are a lot of devices and cables around.