Football and More

img_8592All the talk about and around Houston these days involves the Super Bowl to be played here Sunday.

img_8595Downtown Super Bowl Center is alive with activity and thousands gather to participate in the goings on and, perhaps, spot a celebrity or two.

img_8594From what I see and hear there is something for everyone be it art or live performances.

Office View HoustonAs exciting as all this is, there’s more to this big city than Super Bowl activities, and, hopefully, visitors will have opportunity to take some of it in.

Houston is a city of bayous designed for drainage, but they are also becoming sources for outdoor activity.  Buffalo Bayou is the largest, and it has recently undergone significant change.

These days folks can hike and bike,  kayak 

bbayou-4-e1462310177369or take a scenic boat ride on the bayou.

img_1652-version-2For sure, visitors will find lots of good eats in Houston as it is one of the country’s best foodie cities with cuisines for every palate.  One could eat here for a very long time without having to go to the same restaurant twice.

img_7776sA don’t miss is TexMex.  It doesn’t get any better than at any one of the many Mexican restaurants here.

MFAHFor quieter moments, a visit to one of Houston’s outstanding museums is a delight

img_1205-1as is a stroll through a nearby park.

As I think about it, there’s much that Houston has to offer, but with the emphasis on football some visitors  may not get an opportunity to experience it.  Come Sunday, if I open the windows it just might be possible to hear the noise of the crowd cheering for a favorite team.  For a few thousand dollars I could be there, too, but I’ll be watching on TV with plenty of chips and queso handy.   

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Those Special Evenings

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him.  The people who give you their food give you their heart.”

Cesar Chavez

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are few things I like better than spending time with friends, especially those evenings when we gather around the table to share a meal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the laughter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand the sometimes energetic discussions, most of which seem to evolve around politics. These days that subject can evoke a lot of emotion as well as some pretty funny comments.

Foodie Adventure Spain/fishDinner is always a treat,  and most of the time it is a meal to which we’ve all contributed.  That way no one has to spend all day in the kitchen, and everyone is comfortable having played a part in the preparation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat I particularly get a kick out of is the effort made to set a lovely table.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAgain and again I see how that is opportunity for one to express their unique creativity.  Too, an inviting table always makes the food taste even better!

So, what is your favorite way to spend an evening?

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Tablescape Thursday

Favorite Things Thursday

Impressions and Tidbits

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 7 days it is not possible to experience all that Sicily has to offer, but we did get a good taste of the southern part with visits to Modica, Siricusa, Ragusa, Ragusa Ibla and Scicli plus a few other spots.  While none have very large populations, all have tightly packed residential and business areas.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASicily is largely agricultural, fascinating considering the rocky terrain.  Clearing the land must require back breaking labor and  what happens to all those rocks?   It appears that most become dry stone walls which mark plots of land and define boundaries.

img_8240Not all crops are out in the open.  There are literally thousands of green houses dotting the landscape which I suppose allow year round farming.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithout question there is a lot of food emphasis in Sicily, and I loved the combination of flavors in dishes like arancini.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFood goes beyond what is eaten.  According to our guide, food references are common to every day language.  For example, being told you look like mozzarella means you have a very white body.  Being compared to ricotta implies no muscle tone.  A nice person is said to be sweet as honey and straight, glossy hair is like spaghetti.  Are you getting the drift?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA real delight was learning that Sicily is known for cannoli, one of my very favorite sweets.  I made it a point to have at least one each day and justified it by telling myself that I was walking it off!   Can I tell you how good cannoli is when the shells are fresh made and filled with creamy homemade ricotta.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother find is Modica’s chocolate made in the Aztec tradition dating back hundreds of years. It has a somewhat grainy texture and is not as sweet as most chocolate. The bars are said to be good not only for eating but perfect for delicious hot chocolate made thick by adding a dab of cornstarch.  Hopefully, my chocolate will last long enough for me to try it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA special treat at the chocolate maker was trying traditional mpanatigghi biscuits filled with chocolate made from carob.  The  prickly pear was a tasty complement that required special skill to peel without puncturing a finger.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASicily does not appear to be as noted for art and architecture as say Tuscany or Rome, but it has its own unique character and flavor.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is much to enjoy and for sure, no visit would be complete without a stroll along one of its beautiful beaches.

In a nutshell, these are some impressions and tidbits of Sicily.  Next, I will share the important part of a Foodie Adventure, time in the kitchen.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments  you leave behind

Foodie Adventure #4

For the fourth time, the hubby and I have joined Chef Michael Salmon for a Foodie Adventure, this time in southern Sicily.  Now, before sharing bits of the adventure with you I’ll answer the question I’ve been asked again and again: What is a Foodie Adventure?

The simple answer is it is a delightful week of eating, touring, eating, cooking and eating with 16-20 other fun loving and adventurous folks who come from all over the U.S.  Some will have met on another of the Foodie Adventures so friendships are renewed.  For sure it is an experience to be savored.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChef Michael and his energetic wife Mary Jo of Camden, Maine’s Hartstone Inn always find wonderful places for us Foodies to stay.  This time lovely accommodations are at Cavalonga in wide open spaces  surrounded by olive, citrus and almond trees near Ragusa.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we arrive we are greeted with appetizing antipasti trays and refreshing beverages perfect for tired travelers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWaiting in our rooms are lots of happys that Chef Michael and Mary Jo have left for us.  The most important one is the apron that will get lots of use and more than a few stains as we prepare nightly feasts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASettled in, we are ready to begin the adventure.  Each day begins with breakfast prepared by Chef Michael who gets up earlier than the rest of us.

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Then it’s on the bus for a day of visiting local points of interests

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Learning to make cannoli

plus places having to do with food.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALadies, of course, always want to do a little shopping, and the guys just shrug their shoulders and look for the nearest place to have gelato or a glass of wine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALate afternoon we return to our temporary home, wash our hands, don the apron and head to the kitchen to prepare the evening meal under the watchful eye of Chef Michael.  

By the time we are finished, we’ve worked up an appetite for our 4 course meal, and we appreciate it enormously for having worked together to make it happen.

So now you know about a Foodie Adventure.  Next, I’ll have to share a bit of Sicily and a recipe or two from the week.  Do come back.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Newburyport Impressions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAViewed from the boat, Newburyport has the look of an old New England town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough prosperous today, I learned from one shopkeeper that by 1970 the central area had fallen into such disrepair that it came close to being demolished.  At the last minute, a decision was made to rebuild rather than tear down, and rehabilitation began in the early 1970’s.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThus it was that the historic architecture and heritage of the town was preserved. 

Now there is a diversity of shops, restaurants and businesses contributing to Newburyport having become a popular tourist destination.

What struck me was how much brick there was.  Even the sidewalks were brick, and it was interesting to note the varying patterns.

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Like in many New England towns, flowers brighten the sidewalks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand provide opportunity for creative display.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne day may not have been long enough to experience all Newburyport has to offer, but that was time enough to be left with a sweet memory. In case you are wondering, this is a s’mores pizza.  If you ever have occasion to try one, I suggest having friends share it so you don’t get sugar overdose!

Pipe DreamsNow it’s back to the boat to ready for the next phase of this boating adventure.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

A Can’t Miss Favorite

 “Lulu, are we having chowder tonight?”

When the kids come to visit, that’s the first question asked, and I’m happy to respond positively.  Not only is it a family favorite, it is one of those easy to fix failsafe dishes.  Another plus is it’s gluten free which is becoming important to more and more people.

OK, no more wasting time talking about it, here’s how you make it.

Lulu’s Fish Chowder

1 lb. haddock, cod or salmon*

2-3 Yukon gold or red potatoes, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bottle clam juice, heated to boiling

2 c. milk or half and half, warmed

1 t. dill

2 T. butter

salt and pepper to taste

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn a large baking dish, layer the onions and potatoes.  Sprinkle with garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALay the fish filet on top and dot with butter.  Add the clam juice and dill.  If you are using fresh dill, increase the amount to at least 2 teaspoons.

IMG_4358 (1)Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350.  The fish should be flaky and the potatoes and onion soft.

IMG_4362 (1)Remove from the oven and add the heated milk.  Stir gently to break up all the ingredients.  Spoon into heated bowls and serve with oyster crackers. A simple green salad is all that is needed to complete the meal.

Make the chowder once, and I’m betting it’ll become one of your family favorites.  This recipe is about 4 generous servings, but, as you might guess, it is easily doubled.

*If using a salmon filet, bake with skin side up and remove the skin when the dish comes out of the oven.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Full Plate Thursday

Share Your Cup Thursday

A Peaceful Escape

For the last few days, it seems all we have done is work, me in the yard where there’s always something to do and the hubby replacing and painting rotten boards on the porch.  Enough is enough, so I suggested we take a break and head out on the boat for an overnight stay.  There was no resistance to that idea!

IMG_6910 (1)Penobscot Bay is chock full of islands, many of which have  little protected harbors and coves which make for a very peaceful escape.

IMG_6859I especially like finding a place where we are all alone and the only sounds are the wind whistling through the trees and water lapping gently against the hull.

IMG_6848Once settled, it is time for a little refreshment

IMG_6849and games of backgammon.  Already, whatever we left behind is forgotten and it’s easy to enjoy nothing more than being.

IMG_6916As day slowly fades away, thoughts turn to dinner.  I have no problem working in the compact galley where there is space for everything.

IMG_6865Since this adventure was very last minute, I brought whatever I could find in the refrigerator.  There were a few slices of salami, mozzarella, a tomato and some salad greens which when combined on a pizza crust made a very tasty dinner.

moonlightBefore calling it a day, I wandered out on the deck to take in the beauty of the night. Surrounded by nothing but darkness, the light on the water couldn’t have been more beautiful.  The sky was filled with twinkling stars, some seeming so close it would be possible to grab a handful of starlight.  Such are the moments that remind me why I love being in Maine.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Metamorphosis Monday

The Scoop