January 19, 2015

2015: The Year of the Monkey [Wrench]

In the last months of 2014 we saw our youngest son, Chuck, return from his overseas tour in Qatar, finish his four-year Army commitment, and re-enter the civilian world by moving to Huntsville to begin an intense job search. Three weeks later he was employed. I was beyond relieved.

Also in the last months of 2014 our middle son, Luck, returned from his year in Kuwait and settled at a new post in the States. Again, my relief was immeasurable, due mainly to the horror of ISIS and the knowledge of their rapid worldwide expansion.

And finally, the Holiday Season; always a joyous time, a beautiful cap to mark the end of any year. Oldest son Captain and his wife Princess had our first grandson on the day before Thanksgiving. This blessed event made December and particularly Christmas a time of great happiness for our entire family.

Three days after Christmas we (Chuck and me in my old Odyssey van and Beaver in his Audi) drove 12 hours, convoy style, to Huntsville. The plan was for me to spend about three weeks at our apartment there, being a wife and mom, shopping and relaxing and enjoying my family, before driving to Dallas to help my parents make their move to Florida. What happened instead was this: A week into my visit a family friend from Dallas called to say that my father was in the hospital and I needed to come right away.  That night I drove to Little Rock and the next day made it to Dallas by lunchtime.

Two weeks have gone by since my drive to Dallas. Today my 88 year old dad is 100% healthy and ready to come home from rehab tomorrow morning. Our moving date of January 25 still stands. Someone threw a wrench into our Big Plan but as a result my father, physically and mentally exhausted from the burden of being a caretaker and from having had to make the hard decision to leave his home and community, has been forced to leave all care and responsibility behind and get some much needed rest. Also, and just as importantly, my mother and I have had time to work out a positive relationship based on new roles and abilities, and now we work together toward our common goal.

Everything happens for a reason!

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One of the reasons I was looking forward to spending time in Huntsville was I knew I'd have time to write in this blog.  My first post was going to be an essay on craft beer tasting based on my own experience and the many scribbled notes I had made. Well, that post never happened.  But I need to get rid of these random pieces of paper. So here are my notes. Maybe I can find the photos that accompany my story when I get home, and make a proper report.

Stone Go-To IPA (4.5%):  In the flight glass, light, citrusy, hoppy.  Cloudy golden.  Carbonated - medium sting.  Very drinkable.  Slight bitter aftertaste.  After pouring it into a proper glass, it is much less citrusy, loamy smell, not an easy session beer unless you love the IPA.

Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale (5%): In the flight glass, large head. Low sting. Light amber. Feels thin, light, wheat aftertaste. After pouring it into a proper glass, it really opened up the flavor, giving it more body and aroma. Balanced and drinkable.

Lagunitis Day Time Ale (4.65%): In the flight glass, more sour.  Crystal clear, pale golden, floral smell. After pouring it into a proper glass, it smells herbal, loamy.  Nice even taste, not bitter. Medium sting.

Brew Dog 5 A.M. Saint (5%): Dark amber/orange. Somewhat cloudy, smells malty. Delicious, sweet, caramel, very sour initially, sweet and sour, hoppy finish. Malty. Solid, very cloudy amber color. Medium to small head. Low carbonation. Not as oily as a porter or stout, not as citrusy as an IPA. Great session beer for someone who wants a bit more but not uber-dark or uber-bitter. Beaver says it's similar to Negro Modelo or Pepe Nero (Goose Island).

Red Hook Audible Ale (4.7%): Clear Amber color. Very carbonated, light. Faint orange flavor, sort of a weird candy aftertaste. Carbonated like a Bud Light but tastes like beer. "Brewed in collaboration with Dan Patrick."

Founders Double Trouble IPA (9.4%): Light amber, clear, very little aroma. Smooth. Very little bite - low carbonation. Citrus finish (grapefruit).

Oskar Blues Brewery Mama's Little Yella Pils (Brevard, NC, 5.3%): Amber, cloudy, no head.  Smells like yeast.  I think we got waylaid during the Yella Pils tasting.  Must try another one LOL!





December 6, 2014

It's a Grandchild!

We knew he was going to be a boy, and we knew what his name was going to be, but no one can tell you exactly when a baby will be born. My little grand-bundle-of-joy finallycame into this world on November 26. The moment he was born the hospital played a pretty recording of Brahms' Lullaby over the speaker system, a sweet tradition they have for every baby born there.

After a day and a half of waiting in the lobby of the maternity ward we (the Mothers In Law) heard the lullaby at 1:30 and then again at 1:40. We absolutely knew one of those was our baby. Ours was the first one as it turns out.

I remember babbling baby talk to him when I finally got to hold him. Less than two hours old, his eyes were wide open and he was calmly looking all around him. It made me feel like we needed to exchange a few words. My side of the conversation came out something like this: "You're grandma's cutest little baby! Such a BIG boy! So sweet! Grandma's precious little angel! Such a pretty little baby! You're the sweetest little baby boy!" and so on.

Needless to say we are all simply overjoyed to have this new little baby in our family. To vent some of this joy I must post a few pictures.


Baby shower time!


Dr. Who fabric for the nursery (Spoonflower)

Cutest wooden baby hangers with custom covers by Grandma!

Awesome maternity shirt taken the day before labor.

And here he is!  Two hours old.

Skeptical about hearing Grandma's babbling.

Two days old, with his Granddad.

Sneak peek: The baby photographer doing her thing.

Tired dad (center) Skypes with the proud new uncles.

Day Three - Home from the hospital and in Nana's arms.

Day Four  - The swing is already a useful tool at dinner time.

October 10, 2014

Fall Garden

New mulch (left) makes the shrubs stand out.  Beds on right aren't mulched yet.

My favorite time of year in Fort Wayne was fall. Around the first of September the St. Vincent boy scouts would start setting up for their annual Haunted Castle, and as I watched them progress with their fence-building and other chores, the huge old maple tree behind the old church would start turning color. By mid-October when the Castle was open for business, the nights were cool and crisp and the days were glowing red, yellow and orange.  For 20 years, I treasured each day, not wanting fall to end, and when Halloween came and went, and they broke down the fences and cleaned up the barricades until next year, our beautiful colors were nearly gone. Driving up and down that section of Auburn Road in November amid swirling drifts of brown leaves, the only comfort was the anticipation of the first beautiful blanket of new snow.

We gave up four seasons when we moved to Florida, but in the course of a year there have been so many days that have just blown me away with their tropical perfection, that I'd say it's a fair trade. Plus, fall comes to the beach in subtle ways. Most of the year the crotons which are so commonly used in tropical landscapes don't appeal to me, but this time of year I tend to seek out the hot colors of the spectrum, and darned if those crotons don't look absolutely gorgeous!  I'm glad I put off mulching until now. Against a fresh layer of dark brown mulch, my schefflera and crotons really pop!

We only got half the yard mulched though.  Down here you can't have dyed mulch delivered by the truckload; you have to buy it bagged at a place like Lowe's.  So I ordered 50 bags, which they fork-lifted onto my driveway on a pallet, and Robyn and Mark, my gardeners, worked nearly 2 hours spreading it out.  Only half the front beds got covered!  I'm afraid I'm going to need about 200 bags total by the time we're done mulching the entire front and back yard.

I yanked out the dying geraniums and overgrown lavender from the porch pot and found some amazing fall-inspired plants at Sun Harbor Nursery to replace them.  Their mums were just about to open.  I got there in the nick of time too!  There were about six plants left, so I bought two, but now I wish I'd bought them all.  I put one plant in the pot with a sweet potato vine and a coleus, and the other plant in the bed right off the porch.  I'm interested to see how a chrysanthemum does in the ground here.

Fall colors in the porch pot.

Today I'm going to the U-Haul storage room to pull out my Halloween bins.  I've decided to let Captain Morgan and Princess go through and choose what they want, if anything, from my decorations, and then I'll give away the rest.  The kids throw an annual Halloween party so they might find some of the decorations fun or useful.  On the other hand, with a baby on the way, they are trying to get rid of stuff to make room.  I almost hate to push more stuff on them.

Any Floridians reading this?  I'd love to know how you bring fall into your yard.  Please share your ideas or tips!

August 20, 2014

A New Blog!

Chicken Fannie Biryani
Beaver and I do love to cook.  We love researching recipes and shopping for ingredients.  We'd rather spend the evening in the kitchen making something amazing than going to a restaurant.  Since we're apart some of the time due to Beave's work, when we talk on the phone, guess what we always talk about?  You got it -- COOKING!

Because of our shared interest and because I don't want to overrun this blog with recipes -- I want to encourage myself to cover more subjects so I can practice my writing -- I've started a new blog that will be co-authored by both me (Bonnie) and Beaver.  Here's our (my) first post:  Chicken Fannie Biryani.  If you're a Google+ friend you'll see the posts from Cooking With Beaver and Bonnie automatically on your timeline, just like you see these No Foot posts.  Otherwise please bookmark our cooking site and visit often!

August 17, 2014

Recipe - Cheese Crisps

Vintage appetizer recipe, Cheese Crisps, ready to bake.

Before the days when appetizers were called "munchies," most holidays, parties and gatherings called for some planning ahead, locating recipes, cooking or baking, creating something special to serve with cocktails or as a pre-dinner snack. For example, back in the 60s and 70s, my mother made Cheese Crisps to keep on hand and serve anyone who might drop by during the Christmas season.  They were standard fare at parties during that time too.  I haven't thought of them in over 30 years, not until the May 2014 issue of Southern Living featured a very similar recipe.  It took some digging but I found my mom's version, hand written on a piece of notepaper (with the words, "When the going gets Tough, the Tough go SHOPPING" printed on top). When I made these wafers the other day I followed her recipe for sentimental reasons, and they came out great, just like I remembered.

Curious about the history of the recipe I went through my cookbook collection and found many variations, the earliest being in renowned Texas cook Helen Corbitt's Cookbook (1957). Her "Cheese Pastries" had many variations but the basic recipe consisted of shredded cheese, shortening, flour, salt and cayenne pepper.  I found "Cheese Wafers" in the General Foods Kitchens Cookbook (1959):  Perfect for a mother-daughter graduation tea party, these delicate wafers called for "snappy cheese" and "butter or other shortening" in addition to the common other ingredients.  I also found "Cheese Crisps" in my grandmother's late-sixties cookbook produced by VEPCO (Virginia Electric & Power Company) which featured pecans in the dough and called for shaping the dough into rolls which were refrigerated and then sliced thin to form the wafers.  In 1972, Southern Living's Party Cookbook included "Crunchy Cheese Biscuits."  It is nearly identical to my mother's recipe, though hers is doubled; and finally there's a recipe from D.S. Freeman (Richmond, VA) High School's Faculty Favorites, probably published in the early 70s, which was submitted courtesy the Home Economics Department.  It featured the addition of an egg white to the otherwise standard mixture.

Since this recipe is so easy (you can buy your cheese already shredded) why not give it a try next time you need an appetizer?  We're all tired of tortilla chips and salsa, potato chips and onion dip, and even though we haven't seen corn chips and bean dip in a while that would be a yawner too.  Here's my mom's version of a very old favorite (she used grated Velveeta), but it's so adaptable I urge you to tweak it to your liking and make it a tradition in your home.

Patricia Axtell's Cheese Crisps

Makes about 80 wafers

Ingredients

2 cups grated yellow cheese
2 sticks softened margarine
2 cups flour
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350

1.  Mix cheese and margarine; add flour and mix well.

2.  Mix in Rice Krispies and seasonings.

Well mixed and ready to shape into balls.

3.  Shape into small balls (shooter marble size) and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Mash with fork crisscross.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes.

"If you wish you may substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper for the Tabasco, onion salt and Worcestershire sauce.  Both ways are good."

Cheese Crisps ready for baking.