Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Imaginary Friends

Yesterday when I was talking to my MIL, she kept saying "Grant said we were supposed to get some rain this week" and "Jennifer said they're adding a roundabout down on Joyce Street." I'm thinking, now who is this...I'm not recognizing the names of any of her neighbors in this conversation. Then it dawned on me, she was talking about the channel 5 newscast, reporters and weathermen. She was talking like she knew them, the kind of relationship you have with a close friend. I couldn't help but smile :) Then later I was telling my husband that Ree had a bunch of friends over to make mozzarella and she took the funniest picture of Charlie rolled over on his back begging for bellyrubs! Then Karen took the ponies over to visit Margaret, wasn't that nice? She sure looks good for 89, don't you think? And Jayme and Glenco went camping in 102 degree weather, Can you believe THAT??? Imaginary friends... I think NOT!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Flavor Town

Mom used to say, "I wish there was something new to eat"... if you're the cook in the house, you know just what she meant! Well, last week The Fresh Market opened here in Rogers and they have everything I've been craving and didn't even know about! I waited a couple days after their Grand Opening, but it was incredibly busy, wall to wall people, shopping carts bumping into each other, but I have to say we all put up with the crowds just for a glimpse of this new store.

Other Fresh Markets are in much bigger areas like Birmingham, New Orleans and Cincinnati. They are a breath of fresh air in our small community that depends on Walmart, IGA or Aldi for everything we buy. That means if Walmart deems we don't "need" bean sprouts, we can't have bean sprouts. I hate to throw anyone under the shopping cart, but it's true! The Fresh Market offers an old-style butcher shop with fresh fish, in house bakery and complete delicatessen. As I made my way through the store Friday, there was picture perfect food no matter which direction you looked. Magazine pretty produce, from larger than life lemons to giant artichokes... if Food Network was here doing a show, that's where they would go to get the best of the best! 

The meat counter blew me away. We are meat lovers, please forgive me if you are a vegetarian because I'm going to go into a long spiel about the color of the meat, the size of the steaks, the huge delicious kabobs, thick pork chops and roulades of beef and chicken stuffed with spinach, basil and gourmet cheeses. You name it, they had it! 

The in-house bakery was positioned right next to the deli counter, no way could you miss that they had loaves of fresh New York rye waiting to be piled high with corned beef or pastrami. Not in the mood for a sandwich? Just a few steps and you can have sushi made to order or pick your favorites from the colorful packages of California or Dragon roll.

They have a huge selection of bulk foods, I haven't had a source since we left Texas. It's nice to be able to find nuts, dried fruits and whole grains so fresh. The cheese counter that joins the deli will be a favorite hang out for me, many of them I've only read about.

So what did I buy? I bought bean sprouts and the ingredients to make Pad Thai, one of our favorite meals! I know my way back though, I dropped bread crumbs all the way home...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Roaring River State Park

 We took a little road trip up into Missouri last week to Roaring River State Park. It's just a little ways up the road from where we live, so why haven't I been back for like 40 years? In reality, I've been a little busy. We moved to the Gulf Coast, then we lived on the West Coast several years and then the East Coast. Finally back to the Midwest, Texas and then Arkansas. The most important thing, I found my way back to this beautiful place!

      Roaring River runs along shady limestone bluffs, and over 20,000,000 gallons of water flow from the spring.each day. The park's hatchery stocks the streams with more trout each night. The abundance of fish allows visitors to bring home their catch of 4 trout every day.
 You can see in this picture the deep blue spring- breathtaking! There are 7 trails cut through the park's rugged terrain, plus a lodge, cabins and beautiful campsites.
 For 2 1/2 miles the icy cold water meanders along and fishermen dot the banks.

 Let me mention one more time...you get to bring home 4 trout a day, no charge, as in FREE! Look at the size of these Trout Almondines!

For more info on Roaring River State Park, visit Missouri State Park's website and plan a trip soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Right Thing

It's in the news every week now, the controversy that swirls around the safety of our food is discussed at great length. There's hardly a day goes by that you don't read something negative about America's food supply. A farmer's job is to grow the food, whether it's vegetables or meat, to make sure from farm to table it's the healthiest that they can produce. They work with veterinarians and nutritionists to adopt new methods for improved crops and animal health. Too bad they don't report on these new methods to the general public. As consumers we need to know where our food comes from and how it's grown so that we can make the best choices when we shop. With this summer's drought, farmers are looking at new ideas of drip irrigation rather than the overhead sprinklers that were used for years on commercial farms. You just can't count on Mother Nature consistently to provide the water needed to produce the world's food.

Our ancestors knew a thing or two about saving water, 18th century gardeners made thumb watering pots out of earthenware. Follow the link HERE to make your own from salvaged plastic jugs. Perfect for watering delicate seedlings!

Here's another great way to deep water those tomato plants, Rebecca over at Camp Wander has a great idea using perforated drain pipe. She cuts and places them around each plant, virtually trapping the water so that it slowly feeds the roots!

So if you want to grow some of these, you might need to go visit HERE for some great tips on growing tomatoes. Aunt B. knows what goes good with those fresh slicers too!

A "light lunch" at her house looks like this...

Two go-withs, cold pears and cottage cheese!

Some beet pickles and bread and butters,

A nice tray of deviled eggs,

Chip n' dip, crackers and olives~

Honeydews and cantalope from the garden~

And bacon, nice and crispy!

Treat yourself to the pleasures of Summer, and say thank you to America's Farmers who put food in our mouths every.single.day.

Just Remember...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Are you watching me?

We love to set outside in the summer, but this year's extreme heat has kept us indoors a big part of the time. There's just few things more pleasant than setting outside under a tree with a big glass of iced tea.

The only time now that we can enjoy the patios is late in the day, just as the sun is going down. I usually water the few flowerbeds that have survived the deer and the heat. I don't know which one has taken the biggest toll this year!

But sometimes I get a funny feeling, like I'm being watched...

I know, that sounds silly. We've lived out here on Granny Mountain 7 years now and there's nothing to be afraid of. Lots of times I even go up to the mailbox after dark. 

When the moon is out, you can see the deer standing right at the edge of the yard. They watch us closely... "Deer Buffet" starts when the living room lights go off! 

  I wonder who tells them that the coast is clear?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Big Dip

Would you say you're "brand loyal?" Do you reach for the Honey Nut Cherrios and never go near the Great Value Honey Nut Spins?  For the most part I'd say I definitely buy certain brands. Trial and error, I don't buy something twice that fails to meet my high standards! Well, unless it's on  SALE and then I might be swayed! That's how I ended up with ice cream that was only slightly better than the stuff you get complimentary at the all-you-can-eat-buffet.

I bought a 1/2 gallon, it's not really a 1/2 gallon anymore... the brand I bought was 48 ounces. You have to look hard in the freezer section for 1/2 gallon sizes, prices for those are in the $5-$6 range. Last week when I was picking out a special treat for the two of us, I was swayed by a $3.98 container of Butter Pecan. Jerry had a love affair with butter pecan milk shakes the summer he was 15 years old and worked at Ronnie's Drive-in. He was allowed one meal on his shift and he would wait and get it right before closing. He'd choose Fried Something and a large butter pecan milk shake, take it home and eat it in bed... then go to sleep! He weighed maybe 120 and at 6 foot was hoping he'd gain a few lbs. It took years before eating like that caught up with him. Somewhere around 30 he was finally able to gain and somewhere around 50 he had trouble keeping it off! 

Friday night I scooped out two servings and set down to savor the taste. It wasn't spectacular, it was just mediocre, I've had better. A little searching and I found an article on the
Ben and Jerry's Vanilla scored the highest with ultra creamy taste with a deep hazelnut aftertaste. Placing a close second is Haagen Dazs' Vanilla, creamy and smooth but with less vanilla flavor than the winner. Down the list was Wells Blue Bunny and Breyers, both had a pleasing vanilla taste but with textures like soft serve or ice milk. Yep, that was our complaint... it had that complimentary restaurant soft serve taste.

I'm afraid we are spoiled to the good stuff or a drive thru Andy's Custard. So tell me... which brand do you like best? And do you remember Big Dip? I don't think it's around anymore, but it was soft serve and they actually bragged about it on the box! Funny how times have changed from "New and Improved" to "Old Fashioned." 

Monday, July 23, 2012

American Picker Paradise

They start warning you long before you reach the Boxley Valley that the roads are very crooked and steep. If you have a tendency to get car sick, take your meds BEFORE you come! It's worth it though, the scenery is breathtaking!

Sharp curves to the left...

Tight turnbacks to the right... 

...and then you begin to see things you haven't seen for awhile! 

It's just the beginning, you are in for a treat... there are treasures behind these doors!

In the fall when Bikes, Blues and BBQ motorcycles roar down Highway 21 into Kingston, Mr. Little loves to tell them that this odd contraption will "keep the June bugs out of their ladies eyes!" In reality, it's a set of vintage bull blinders, used to control a mean bull from getting a good bead on a person! 

In perfect condition, an old Victrola!

Something to keep the cabin warm!

Don't you wish this old trunk could talk?

Wheels from an old wagon

I have this at the farm...

We guess this was an old meat slicer?

From antique to retro, they have it all! I bet my old lunchbox is over at Mom's, it had monkeys on the side!

Even the building itself was historic, this part used to be the old post office for Kingston!

If Mike and Frank on American Pickers hear about this place, there won't be anything left for us.

Old irons like Grandma had to use, can you say "drudgery?'

Everything you can imagine is in here, even arrowheads and Indian stones  from a nearby cave!

If you stay awhile, you'll learn some very interesting facts about Kingston. Things that you wouldn't expect in a town of only 373!

Thanks Janet for sharing some of the charm that is only around for people that travel the 
Backroads of America!

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