Dieting…..that four letter word

Soooo, I have decided to join Weight Watchers and drop some unwanted pounds.  My menus are going to change to accommodate my diet.  I won’t be posting monthly menus until I have lost my target amount of pounds.  I will from time to time post meals that I am cooking.  Also starting in August, we will be empty nesters and the meals I cook will be smaller in portions to just accommodate the two of us.

On the meals I cook,  I will start adding the WW points to each recipe.  I know this summer I will be loading up on watermelon which is 0 points.  🙂  I LOVE watermelon!!

So starting in June I will no longer be posting my monthly menus.

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Oyster Fry

I went to an oyster fry in Frederick, Oklahoma yesterday.  I had never been in Frederick before.  It was a nice small town.  I think the thing that impressed me the most about it was how quiet it was.

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As we were leaving Texas there were lots of pump jacks working on pumping lots of oil.  I hadn’t seen that many pump jacks since I was out in West Texas.  There were quite a few here.

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Then we arrived in the small town of Frederick, Oklahoma.  The buildings in the downtown area were very old with lots of character.  One particular building, the Ramona Theater, had even more character.

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The town was restoring this little theater.  I enjoyed the little tour I got of the theater and took in some of the history of it.  It was built in 1929.  Evidently it was suppose to be haunted.  Several other people on the tour claimed they “felt something” but I didn’t.  A ghost hunting team had done an investigation here at one time.

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And what town isn’t complete with it’s own courthouse?  Actually this is the county courthouse and I think it is the largest building in the town.

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The high school was really big for a small town and I am guessing a lot of students from the surrounding area attended here.  Looks like they have a really good football team too.

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Loved browsing the shops and the crafts fair before the oyster fry started.  I just had to buy some homemade soaps.  I love homemade soaps so I stocked up on some goat’s milk soap.  Then it was on to the oyster fry.  We had worked up an appetite from all that walking.

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The oyster fry was held at a local elementary school.  Chefs fried the oysters outside.  It was a cold day to be cooking outside.  Lots and lots of oysters were being cooked up.

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We went inside the school and went to the cafeteria where we sat down to eat oysters.  You could have these raw if you preferred but most people ate them fried.  They were excellent.  If you are interested in attending, they have this every year the last Saturday in February.  This may be something I may have to attend every year!

Feelin’ Like Andrew Zimmern

I have been traveling a lot lately and one of the things I do enjoy is trying out the local cuisine.  My first stop was in Galveston, Texas.  Now to be honest with you I love seafood and I had been dreaming of an oyster poor boy way back since last September.  So the first thing I did upon arrival in Galveston was to drive down the Seawall and find the restaurant that I think might serve up an oyster poor boy.  We stopped at a restaurant called “Fishtails” across from the new pleasure pier that is being built.  I ordered the most wonderful oyster poor boy and I savored every morsel!

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 The next day we got on our ship and began our voyage to Honduras, Belize and Mexico.  

Our first stop was in Honduras.  It was a cold, foggy, rainy day when we first arrived.  The beautiful green mountains were draped in a white mist.


The rain clouds slowly drifted away and we took a bus to a pretty little beach.  While we were there we had lunch on the beach.

 
While you may think that hamburgers are more American than anything else, what was different was the red beans and rice served with it.  It didn’t taste at all like the Cajun red beans and rice.  It had a sweet taste to it.  It was really good!  We  also had a small piece of chicken dipped in a sweet barbeque sauce.  

In Belize we didn’t have time to stop and eat.  I really wanted to try some conch.  I have never eaten it before, maybe next time!

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I did have time to do a little shopping.  I love coffee.  I saw this bag of coffee beans and just had to pick it up.  I have been drinking this since we got back.  I grind up the coffee beans fresh every morning.  Starbucks move over!  The coffee in Belize is wonderful!

Then it was on to Cozumel, where we docked there early the next morning.

From Cozumel we got on another boat and went to Playa Del Carmen.  I think this is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen.  I could have stayed here for the rest of the vacation!

In Playa Del Carmen we got on a bus and went to Xel-Ha.  It is a beautiful little place with a huge lagoon that is wonderful for swimming and snorkeling.  There are lots of underwater caves to explore and cenotes to swim in too.

The water was so clear that you could see right through it.  Snorkeling wasn’t really necessary!  You could get in the water and swim with all the animals that were swimming in the lagoon like dolphins, stingray (gulp!) and there were some  Beluga whales here too!

Mexico isn’t Mexico without a few iguanas hanging around.  Mexicans actually eat these things.  They say it tastes like chicken and NO I did not eat one!!

There were lots of Macaws and Toucans hanging around too.  They are such beautiful birds!

With all that swimming and sun it is easy to build up an appetite!  We stopped and ate lunch in Xel-Ha.  The front part of my plate is Fish Vera Cruz.  I just couldn’t seem to get enough seafood!!  Going clockwise from the fish is a sausage and bean dish.  I forgot what it was called but it was delicious!  Next was a poblano and sour cream dish.  This dish was yummy and I may try to make this one at home sometime.  Next to that is Ceviche which is raw fish.  Normally, I do not eat anything RAW in foreign countries but I do like Ceviche!  I survived!  Try it at least once.  If you don’t, you won’t know what you are missing!  Then next to the Ceviche is the old stand by of refried beans.  Yup, you also see a Margarita on the rocks!  After all, it is vacation time!

And then of course, to top it off I had some flan.  Oh was it wonderful!  The sugar and vanilla that is in Mexico tastes so different from what we have here in the US.  The flavors are just wonderful!  BTW, I do use Mexican vanilla in all my recipes.  Just can’t bet it!!

The Royal Treatment

I have been gone. I have been gone a long time. I have been gone on a much needed vacation. I have been gone on a very refreshing and wonderful cruise. If you have never gone on a cruise, I suggest you try one some day. We certainly got the royal treatment and traveled to some fantastic places.

The food on the cruise was absolutely superb! Now it is diet time for me—only down side of indulging. I wanted to take away some of the wonderful dining experiences with me so I purchased one of the cookbooks offered on the cruise.

Each dish was arranged artfully just like in the photos and brought to the table. I would have loved to have observed how they are able to feed so many people in the galley.

Throughout the book the chefs are featured who created each dish. There is a picture of the chef and a little bit about where he is from and his experience. I found it interesting that all the chefs were men!

One evening I ordered this Caprese Salad. It was delicious and looked just as beautiful as it does in this picture.

This New England Clam Chowder was exquisite!

I ate lots and lots of seafood while on the cruise. Getting truly fresh seafood is something I can’t get where I live. I miss it so much. This lobster and shrimp fit the bill and satisfied my seafood craving.

Then of course there were the wonderful desserts. I could not resist them.

In the coming days I hope to try out a few of these recipes to bring back some memories of our cruise.

These boots are made for walkin’

Leddy Sign

ML Leddy is a unique boot store located in San Angelo, Texas.  They aren’t like any other boot store.  They make boots by hand, the old fashioned way and probably it is the best way.  This part of Texas has lots of ranches and lots of cowboys.  It isn’t unusual to see a cowboy at the local Walmart in his boots, spurs and chaps.  You can hear him walking down the aisle with the clink, clink of his spurs.  You can smell him coming a mile away because needless to say, he smells like his horse but then I guess all cowboys do.

This is the sign they have hanging inside the area where the boots are made.  It truly is a handmade Texas legend.  ML Leddy started his boot making back in 1922.  Boots have been made here for presidents, rock stars, and everyday cowboys.  All boots that have been made are recorded in their history book.

Beverly Allen, the granddaughter of ML Leddy, showed us around the boot shop and told us all about how they made boots.  I saw this pair of cactus boots and just had to get a picture of them.  This pair was in the shop for repair.  They were getting re-soled.  Each boot is custom fitted to the customer.  The design put on the outside of the boot is also custom designed.  She picked up another boot and said, “Oh, this boot was won by this cowboy at a rodeo.”  Etched on the outside of the boot was the rodeo and year.  Each boot has a story to tell about the owner.  I looked at another boot that had a purple horned toad on it and yet another one with an orange longhorn.  If only these boots could talk, what stories would they tell?

These are the forms used in making the boots.  The leather is fitted around the forms.  The table in front of the forms displays some of the tools used to make the boots.

This is where the toe builder sits.  He has been building the toes of boots for 38 years.  Nine boots are completed a day.  It takes 10-12 months for a boot to be completed.

They also make custom made saddles.  The saddle shop is located in the stockyards in Ft. Worth, Texas.  It takes about 1 1/2 to 2 years for a saddle to be finished.  Someone (hmmm….I wonder who?) commissioned ML Leddy to make 2 saddles for the 2 teams playing in Cowboy Stadium for the Super Bowl last year.  Beverly Allen said Dan Rooney, owner of the Steelers, called them up himself to say it was the best gift he had ever gotten.

Talk about a custom made saddle, this one has a built in radio!!  You can see it under the horn of the saddle.  This particular saddle was made back in the 1940’s.  Just look at the design on the saddle and it is all handmade!

So if you ever happen to be in San Angelo, stop by ML Leddy and take a look at their boots.  You will get to see a very unique part of west Texas.  It is the kind of legends that Texas is made of!!

Here is their website:  ML Leddy’s

Medieval Times

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Has anyone ever been to Medieval Times? We went last weekend and it was loads of fun. The first thing they did was assign everyone a color. They put a paper crown on us according to the color that we were assigned.

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Then we sat down in this arena. The sections were painted in colors and we were suppose to sit in the section that was the same color as our crown. As we sat there they introduced us to the knights.

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Ours was the yellow knight. He did alright in the competitions. Our section cheered and cheered for him but in the end he didn’t win.

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This knight was the announcer. He was on a beautiful Clydesdale horse. Clydesdales are what I called the Budweiser horses. I usually see that type of horse pulling one of those Budweiser beer wagons. They are such pretty horses.

There were also some Lipizzaner Stallions. They were beautiful. They actually seemed to dance as they performed. After the Lipizzaner Stallions performed, a falcon came out and flew around retrieving little pieces of food. The bird was trained very well.

Then the dinner came. I thought the food was excellent but some people in my party thought otherwise. The first to come out was a delicious Tomato Bisque and garlic bread. Oh did I mention that all the food is eaten with your hands? The soup was drunk instead of eaten because that would be next to impossible to eat with your fingers!! Next came roasted chicken. Everyone got 1/2 a chicken each. It was really good. Then we got a rib and a half of a baked potato. For dessert we had some sort of apple turnover. It was all really good.

As we ate we watched sword fights and jousting. Ah, what fun! If there is a Medieval Times near you, try to go if you haven’t. It is loads of fun!!

Fresh, Fresh, Fresh

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Just got through watching Gordon Ramsey’s Great Escape.  He spent the week in Vietnam learning their cuisine.  It was interesting.  He said, “If it moves, they will eat it.”  I don’t think I could eat anything that moved but I did learn a few things from the segment.  It appears that most Vietnamese do not have refrigerators.  They go to the market everyday to buy what they are going to cook for that day.  Then I began to wonder…..what if everyone cooked that way?  Gordon Ramsey made an interesting comment, “If you want to improve your cooking, get rid of your refrigerator.”  Hmmmm…….I think it is time that I clean out the refrigerator and look at it in a new and different way.  And the freezer??  That is all for convenience but does the food REALLY taste that good after it has been frozen?    A good gauge of what makes a restaurant a success or not is if it serves fresh food and not frozen.  Patrons can taste a difference.

If you are a working mom like me it is hard to cook up a meal everyday without being able to freeze a few dinners but there are plenty of quick tasty meals out there that take no time to cook up.  We have all those fancy appliances that make things so much easier like microwaves, pressure cookers and slow cookers.

I know my dad’s way of life was so much different.  They had no refrigerator or electricity.  Every morning he woke up early to milk all the cows on the farm.  While he was at school his mother would make butter, cheese, and cream from the milk.  They grew all their own fruits and vegetables.  Grandma would can what they couldn’t eat and keep it down in the cellar for eating during the winter.  Once a year they would butcher a pig.  In order to keep the meat from spoiling, they would smoke the meat so it would last a long time.  They would fish in local lakes and eat fresh fish or eat lutefisk (a dry cured cod fish–a delicacy to Norwegians).  Wow, what a wonderful diet!  No processed foods, additives, preservatives, etc.  We really need to get back to eating this way again.  It is so much healthier.

Last night we went to eat at a restaurant that noted in their menu that they used fresh tomatoes from the local farmer’s market in the Caprese Salad.  Mmmmm…..freshness at it’s best!!  Here is a really good recipe for Caprese Salad by the way. Fresh vine ripened tomatoes make all the difference in the world!!

So in an effort to take advantage of summer’s bounty, I will be posting recipes that reflect what fruits and vegetables are in season.  Take advantage of local farmer’s markets in your area.  It is a wonderful source of fresh food.  Bon appetit and here’s to your health!!

Farmer’s Market

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I went to the local farmer’s market today.  I love the fresh fruits and vegetables.  This is what I purchased for $15.  I love fresh okra and it has been years since I have eaten it.  My favorite way to fix okra is to sliced it up and coated it with corn meal.  Then I pour some oil in a skillet and pour the corn meal coated okra in the skillet.  I cook the okra until it turns brown.  I add some salt and pepper to it too.  My family loves it this way because the okra isn’t slimy.  To tell you the truth, I don’t like slimy okra either.  🙂

I think I might make a fresh peach cobbler with the peaches I got.  I will take some pictures and tell you how it turned out.  I usually just use the canned peaches so using fresh ones should really be good!!  Might add some vanilla ice cream to it too!!  Yum!!

I got the tomatoes for the salads I serve for dinner.  I love a good fresh salad before a meal.  This time of year I could just eat salads for dinner.  It has been so hot lately that I haven’t wanted to do any cooking.  🙂

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For Father’s Day we took a drive to Meers, Oklahoma.  We ate lunch at the Meers Restaurant.  I had to get a Meersburger.  It is the best.  If you ever happen to go by there, stop by the Meers Restaurant and try one of their hamburgers.  The meat is from the owner’s own Longhorn cattle.  The Meersburger is served in a tin pie plate and it is as big as the pie plate too.

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The Meers Restaurant is in a very very old building.  There are lots of antiques around.  The ceiling is made of tin tiles.  It isn’t unusual to see a buffalo wondering around outside either.  I didn’t see any this trip though.

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Then the day ended with a drive up to the top of Mt. Scott.  The view is beautiful.  It was very windy up that high but it was pretty looking down.  There are windmills in the background.  This area has lots of windmills that are used to produce electricity for the area.

A Step Back in Time

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This time of year I love to take a drive to the  Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas.    We went earlier this year and I am glad we did.  It wasn’t so crowded and the temperatures were much cooler.   The Renaissance Festival is like a step back in time.  There are demonstrations of all kinds that show how things were made long ago.  For example, there is glassblowing, candle making, and blacksmiths forging swords.

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There is jousting.

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And Henry the Eighth.

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And the Queen, of course.

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And the Queens Court.

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Then there are these wonderful turkey legs. Truly Renaissance type food and good too!!

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I guess they ate too many turkey legs!!!

Just For Grins

Mmmm……got to revisit a place that I used to enjoy eating at called Grins in San Marcos, Texas.  They serve up the best hamburgers.  I ordered the southwestern burger with green chilies and monterey jack cheese.  It was wonderful.  The french fries were the best too.  They were even better with chili powder sprinkled on them.

Oh my, and then there is Gil’s, home of the manske roll.  What is a manske roll you ask?  A manske roll is the best, most awesome cinnamon type roll you have ever eaten.  It is really big and it is served hot with lots of butter.  I didn’t have the time to stop and get dessert after the wonderful hamburger but I will have to make a point of partaking in a luscious manske roll the next time I go to San Marcos.