“Lost a Week”…..

Or so it seems since I haven’t posted. Things have obviously not slowed down at all and at least some of it has been for fun. Not for diving unfortunately and if Mother Nature doesn’t let up on the wind, I might not make it out in March. I am keeping fingers crossed though. That’s what happened as I saved today hoping to go. Hubby had to take his student to Jules and they did have something special – a sea horse! I haven’t seen many in all the time I’ve been diving and never one around here. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some hammerheads have been hanging around in different spots. None on the more popular reefs yet so we’ll see if they head on their journey or other people have a chance to spot them. Our bud Richie Kohler and Katy were in  last week doing all really deep which is why I didn’t go with them. They did come up last Saturday along with some of their friends – one of whom we also know and two of our friends joined in. Richie had fond memories of the Redland Hotel and wanted to enjoy it again. There were nine of us which worked out pretty well other than running late for a couple of reasons. Anyway, the food was excellent and great conversation, plus the “extra” couple we met have the potential to be future companions.

On an entirely different subject, I’m making at least some headway with my father’s estate in the sense of gathering information and getting various instructions. There are certain aspects that cannot be done electronically and thus extra time will be required. I really hope to have everything done by my birthday in August – or at least have everything that involves others done. His taxes for last year and the estate taxes will mostly involve me and the lady I’ll be working with. The woman who did his taxes in 2020 is seasonal and she has referred me to one of the only staff who is year-round.

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day….

As luck would have it, an event scheduled earlier in the year was re-scheduled and they either didn’t have a choice about dates or picked this evening without realizing it was Saint Patrick’s Day. We have to cover it for the paper and even though it is at a place with a really nice restaurant that part is only open Fri-Sat this time of year. In light of what time we’ll be done, we won’t be able to get anywhere to eat until a little late and it’s not as if we have Irish pubs around. Although a couple of places are doing special dinners, they’re likely to be really crowded by the time we arrive. We decided to swap our usual Thursday pasta night and did that last night to save the lamp chops and mashed potatoes for tonight. We’ll prep everything before we go and it will be pretty quick once we get home. Granted, I normally do a nice Shepard’s pie, but things have been really hectic this week and I simply didn’t have the energy to juggle that.  I think there’s one or maybe two Guinness in the fridge and a Smithwick and I did go get a bottle of Jameson as we are almost out. Not sure yet if will go on the rocks or in Irish coffee.

A friend whom I lost track of was about as Irish as can be – Boston, former cop, and played the bag pipes. We met my first summer ROTC camp which was at Fort Riley and we overlapped for two summers. He was great fun and played the pipes well. In one of those ironic placements, his ROTC assignment was in Alcorn, MS – about as far culturally from Boston as one could be. He did have some adjustments to make for sure. I hope he’s doing well and having a great time tonight.

 

Good Food With a Little Whimsy……

Yesterday was another of a couple of extra tasks thrown in when we already had multiple tasks to handle. The additional began to verge on “juggling” instead of handling, although the extra did mostly include fun.

I read about, then was told about Royd’s being open; something new for Redland, the historic agriculture area where markets pop up periodically. The individual who wrote them up in the weekly Redland View said he’d been keeping an eye on the place because he was curious as to what was going on. A family – still not sure if it’s just husband and wife or if there are two generations involved – have one of the farms and decided they wanted something more to share with people. Royd’s has a set of swinging saloon doors of The Gateway with the store front of The Jail and R l Everglades General Mechandise to the right and City Drugstore to the left; in the Western Store style. It’s actually open on three sides, but has overhead covered with picnic tables inside and the area set up with the mechanical bull. The kitchen truck (might be two) are outside and servers take orders and bring the food. It’s a breakfast and predominantly lunch place closing at 5:00 Wed-Thurs; 7:00 Fri-Sun and opening each day at 8:00. It’s a blend of American and Cuban dishes with sandwiches and full entrees plus desserts. And like most places in Redland, milkshakes are a big draw.

I had the hamburger and brought most of the fries home to Hubby and resisted ice cream. Well, I resisted asking about it because I thought the temptation might be too much. There is also supposed to be a petting zoo or at least animals to see on weekend. I’ll find out more about that when I talk with one of the principles on Monday.

Repeat Louisiana Trip, Day 5…..

Didn’t get the catfish after all; just one of those things. Had a mix-up in some paperwork and had to go back by the lawyer’s office which then threw me off in timing and knew the place would be packed. Estate issue will be more complicated than I hoped, but it can’t be helped. Also different than what I dealt with in Maine with that one; each state has their own way of doing things.

On the up side, the weather did warm up nicely during the day and it was all sunshine. Did meet my girlfriend for dinner; Two Johns is still a nice tradition for us. She lost her mother last year, so discussed those things. She is also retired now; well back working a few days. Her second grandchild – little boy this time – is 8 months old; cute video of his 3 year old sister with him. I explained I still plan to make an annual trip to be able to see ,my aunt, cousins, and old friends. I might swap from the fall though as there have been  times when football games have caused disconnects with getting together.

Anyway, I couldn’t sleep so came on to the airport and of course the coffee guy isn’t even open yet. I have hopes by 5:30 though. Unlike MIA there are vending machines which means Coke Zero is a caffeine option if necessary. Okay, enough for now and am hoping no delays in flights.

Repeat Louisiana Trip, Day 4……

Am continuing with various tasks. Estate issues come with complications no matter what. I won’t get into specifics as they aren’t pertinent to the blog. (I will renew my annual promise to update our wills; perhaps I’ll even do so this time). My good friend is available for dinner in Bossier tonight and I’ll relocate this afternoon. One more trip to the post office and the lawyer’s office, then I’ll go to Cotton’s for lunch. I’ve done many take-outs from there. That was Daddy’s favorite when it became too awkward for him to go out in his wheelchair. He preferred the catfish and fried shrimp combo. He would eat the hush puppies too, ignore the french fries and give me the coleslaw.

Dinner tonight will of course be the exact opposite at Two Johns Steakhouse as I have written about before. I hope it hasn’t changed since the last time. That was actually two years ago as my friend wasn’t in town when I was here in October nor did I try to get in touch on the trip a few weeks ago; that was simply too hectic.

This will be a short post in order for me to pop down for one more coffee and complete two or three things on my to-do list. Hubby is finishing up a class today and he’s currently scheduled to be off to be able to pick me up tomorrow. I will try to remember the place closest to security is probably the one open rather than the one by the gate. I had to back-track last time to grab a coffee before boarding.

 

Fruit and Spice Park…..

Our two national parks, Everglades and Biscayne, get the most attention from a tourism perspective, especially the Everglades. On the County side though we – as in Homestead – also have Biscayne Bay which is next to the national park and another large one which is unique. The Fruit and Spice Park is in Redland; “37 acres of more than 500 varieties of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and nuts from around the world; 180 varieties of mangos; 70 varieties of bamboo; 40 varieties of bananas; 15 varieties of jackfruit trees and numerous other exotic edibles.” (https://redlandfruitandspice.com/) Although we have been to many botanical gardens, this one is allegedly the only one in the world set up like it is. One of the unique aspects is visitors are allowed to take fallen fruit. (https://www.miamidade.gov/parks/fruit-spice.asp)

There are 3 daily tram tours which is good considering the size of the park, but meandering around is great as well. They have such a variety that you can spend hours if you’re so inclined. Although things were disrupted with COVID closures, they are getting back on track. The new superintendent, who has been in place for six months, has a background in biology and education and is very much into research. Among her other goals is to create additional STEM sessions for children. Right now they have Nutrition and Bees and Trees for younger children and various monthly workshops for older teens and adults. They also have periodic “Stargazing Nights” as a family activity. They hold several annual big events like the Asian Festival, the International Orchid Show, Heritage Festival, Blues, Brews, and BBQ. We haven’t done that one for a while and will probably try for this year. There is a $10 park fee, but it does go to a good cause.

Hubby and I were out earlier this afternoon to interview the superintendent and he shot lots of photos plus used the drone. This is another of those situations where we have more than enough material so I’ll have to decide what to trim.

Being Creative With Leftovers…..

As I have mentioned before, we are believers in using leftovers, preferably in a different way than the original. Since we didn’t have as many people as anticipated for New Year’s Eve and I always have too much on hand anyway, it’s been a little trickier this time. I did give away three batches, but two of those were planned as part of the “having extra” anyway.

We did shrimp Alfredo one night and two different soups were created; the one I do as a low carb and Hubby made one for him which was definitely not low carb with a southwestern flair. His used the “Cowboy Caviar” as a base which is what took him in the southwestern direction. I found the remaining jalapeno from that and will roast it tonight for a variation on the Everglades sauce for fish. The regular ingredients are shallots, capers, key lime juice, butter, oil, and rum. I’ll use shallots, roasted jalapeno, lime juice, butter, oil, and Chaca – a Brazilian liquor instead.

The bag of peppers is the final vegetable we need to use so those will also be roasted tonight for a side. We also have salami and pepperoni left from a small deli tray which will get used in a matriciana sauce for Thursday’s pasta dish after I pick up some prosciutto. The nice thing about that dish is you can use multiple different meats in it or go with just basic prosciutto. The remaining frozen garlic bread loaf will last for a while as will the last pork tenderloin. We almost always have one of those in the freezer in the same way of having certain things in the pantry. A tenderloin is so versatile you can go in multiple culinary styles depending on the mood; very much like with chicken.

Happy New Year…..

We did the traditional New Year’s Eve party although with a smaller group. One couple both had to work – not sure what they’re doing now and will catch up with them later. Another neighbor decided to tuck in and the other set of friends who were only going to come for a little while weren’t able to make it either. I’ll be doing up some leftovers obviously. The real question is the extra cheese cake sampler as the dessert platter brought meant the sampler was never open. The dessert platter had this fabulous array of choices.

Fireworks were definitely abundant in the neighborhood and when we pick debris up from backyard and pool you know they were close. Granddaughter did have to put on her earphones a few times. On the other hand, having what was in essence a triple private fireworks display was nice for those who don’t have problems with it. Prior to that, a trip to the Everglades Outpost Rescue place was the activity plus a stop at Robert Is Here for milkshakes and dried exotic fruits to take home. There were alligators of all sizes to see at the refuge; the gray wolf was still in residence as well as the camel and a white tiger has been added. Apparently a situation where as often happens, someone wealthy obtained it, then discovered keeping a tiger is different from what he imagined. Fortunately, he did find a place to surrender the tiger to rather than abuse it. Pool time after was with Dad and Grandpa while I continued party prep and sent daughter-in-law to rest. The cold of granddaughter has now passed to Mom and Dad in the usual way.

Their flight for this evening has been delayed for about two hours with the standard phrase of “we’re trying to lessen the delay so please arrive at the time for the regular flight”. Since Fort Lauderdale airport isn’t the most extensive, they’re thinking about do they really want to spend four hours there if it is the full delay.

Merry Christmas……..

What a lot of places we’ve been for Christmas over the years. Many with relatives and friends; one incredibly lonely time when I was sort of stranded in London rather then being where I was supposed to be, but that’s definitely for another post.

Growing up in Louisiana, my maternal grandparents and much of that side of the family lived 30 minutes west. The tradition was big Christmas Eve at their house with grown-ups having drawn names for presents and all the kids getting a bulging stocking from Mamaw and Papaw which included lots of fireworks. It wasn’t a meal as that took place the following day back at their house again. For some reason, one year my mother decided we should open all our presents when we returned Christmas Eve because having the traditional opening and prepping everything to take for the Christmas meal was admittedly a bit hectic. On the other hand, Christmas morning without opening presents just wasn’t the same and we didn’t repeat that. Of course, in a one-income, working middle class family, there weren’t that many presents to unwrap and stockings tended to be things like maybe some new socks, plus tangerines because those only came into the small town groceries part of the year. It seems we went up to Arkansas to be with paternal side of the family occasionally, although I don’t recall  how often.

Moving on to when I was single and mostly away in the Army, there was usually a family that drew in “the orphans” either as individuals or groups and Hubby and I did the while we were in Maryland and Virginia. I’ve posted before about Christmases in Maine which periodically meant the 26th or 27th as “late Christmas”; never longer than two days after. I’ve also explained the kids have Christmas in Virginia and we bring them down the 27th or 28th depending on their Jan start date back to work/school. They’re exhausted with lead-up to and performances of Nutcracker so a few days of relative quiet before tackling airports at holiday time is important. Fortunately, it is a non-stop, little over two hours flight time which does help. We’ll go over late afternoon today for the big meal with friends. And yes, I will be having candy at breakfast.

 

Seafood Explosion…..

For reasons that have escaped many of us, here we are 20ish minutes (given no traffic) from Key Largo and with Biscayne Bay as well as a great deal of fishing that occurs out of the Everglades, yet the last dedicated seafood restaurant closed several years ago. Until recently, there was a Red Lobster – also a bit of a puzzle as they don’t do regional seafood. In all fairness, the non-franchise restaurants do carry local seafood and last year I wrote about the great couple that opened Krab Kingz. It is one of the crosses between fast food and sit-down because you order at the counter and they bring the food to your table. They do serve with mostly plastic ware and they don’t have coffee, but they also source as much locally as possible and only USA products for everything else.

With that said, we suddenly have three different seafood places preparing to open – two for sure that are some kind of franchise and the third I only learned of the other day. The Crafty Crab has been “pending opening” for quite some time but it looks as if it’s close now. The Juicy Red Crab is much more recent and also looks as if it’s close to opening. I think the name of the third is Noah Noah Seafood and I believe it is a stand-alone and might have just opened. It’s in the Hotel Redland which was one of our hangouts until Chef E didn’t manage to get through the COVID closure. It’s supposed to be seafood and Mexican which should be an interesting combination.

We will have to try them all of course. I made a comment to Hubby the other day and he said one of the “food writers” mentioned not long ago these crab franchises were the new trend.  I always hope new local businesses succeed, but to have multiple similar at one time might not be the best idea. We shall see.