Peacefulness and Chipmunk Portraits

Another Gorgeous Mountain ViewIMG_6381Little House in the Rockies is our tiny cabin retreat in Colorado.

We love it. It is sooooo very peaceful.

I can sit for hours and watch the birds and wildlife.

I was there recently, and pretty much just watched, and thought, and wrote, and photographed.

Of note were the chipmunks. They posed for me! When I looked at the photos later, they reminded me of high school senior pictures. You know, the incredibly attractive youth with the bright future posing in the sunlight for the professional photographer that Mom paid to get a great photo for the graduation announcements? What do you think?

fullsizeoutput_27d3fullsizeoutput_27d0fullsizeoutput_27cffullsizeoutput_27dcfullsizeoutput_28a9

© 2018, Glover Gardens

Mountain Sunset Haiku and “Enviation”

purple serenity
soothing summer evening sky
clouds that drift and sigh

39063206_10216949714323699_2761945188606672896_n.jpg
Photo credit: Nancy L.

My friends stayed at Little House in the Rockies last weekend, and one of them snapped this lovely picture.

We get their photos from social media and feel oh-so-happy for them. But we also feel a little jealous because they’re there and we’re not. I like to call that feeling “enviation,” a mixture of envy and appreciation.

Enviation. That’s how I feel right now. I’d like to be on that porch at Little House in the Rockies, looking at that sunset, feeling the mountain air, shivering just a little.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

A Fire in the Fireplace in the Middle of Summer, a Haiku, and Wildflowers

Escaping the Southeast Texas heat for a few days, I’m chillin’ in the mountains at Little House in the Rockies.

Oh, the glory of it! 

July Sunset at Little House.jpg
Dusk falling over Palmer Peak

It was 40°F when I awoke this morning (that’s 4.4°C for my international readers).

Oh, the glory of it! 

A little fire in the fireplace was just right for morning coffee and reading. And finding the names of all the Colorado wildflowers I picked yesterday.

Wildflowers and Homefires.jpg

Oh, the glory of it!

Fire is mesmerizing – have you noticed? I sat with my coffee, staring into the flames, and dozens of welcome ideas came knocking, like neighbors with fresh-baked cookies. So here’s a haiku for the inspiration that flames can bring:

gazing at the blaze,
fiery hues, controlled-burn warmth,
flame-thrown ideas

Now to jot all those ideas down before they leave like Thanksgiving guests when it’s time to do the dishes!

But first, the wildflowers. What a beautiful bounty! Here’s a rundown of the bouquet: Bigelow Tansy-Aster, Black-eyed Susan, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Fairy Trumpet, Giant Red Paintbrush, Mountain Parsley, Parry Primrose, Canada Thistle and White Yarrow.

Colorado Wildflowers.jpg

I gathered this clutch of color in about 20 minutes yesterday afternoon, right before a mountain rainstorm came sweeping through. I hunkered down inside our tiny cabin with a book during the storm, listening to the rain pound rhythmically and peacefully on the metal roof.

Oh, the glory of it!

Mountain Storm is Coming.jpg
The storm is coming over the mountains

I’ve been busy with the camera, so you’ll see posts about hummingbirds and mountains and chipmunks (oh my!) over the coming days and weeks, even as I settle back into the summer heat at Glover Gardens in Southeast Texas.

Wishing you a peaceful and cool Sunday.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

The Jazzy Sounds of Summer at Glover Gardens

The summer months bring a welcome flurry of sound to Glover Gardens. Our Musical Millennial is home from the University of Texas where he’s studying Jazz Composition, and is busy writing, playing, recording and mixing new tunes. Other young musicians who are home for the summer drop in late at night and carry their instruments upstairs to the cluttered lair where the keyboards, amps and computers wait to come alive.

I love it.

Music, laughter and earnest debate about how to ramp up and tweak their collaborative creations drift downstairs to the Grill-Meister and me, and I know that all is right with the world.

Here’s the newest offering, Familiar Territory.  It was written by another musical millennial, one of my son’s frequent recording and playing partners. It’s posted in my son’s Bandcamp site where you can download it for just $1 or stream it for free. (I have a bet with him about how many purchases this post might stimulate from loyal Glover Gardens followers, but hey, no pressure!)

It’s a fun tune to listen to, and was obviously fun to record.

Thomas Wenglinski and Joel White 2
Thomas Wenglinski and Joel White

Watch this space! These two are planning to write and record enough new material for an album before heading back to their respective colleges. And there’s an upcoming gig at Cezanne in Houston on July 14, for any of you locals that want to hear them live.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

(cover photo © Mallory Frenza)

Digital Postcard: Glover Gardens Hibiscus

I love hibiscus! And hibiscus seem to love Glover Gardens. Here are a few of my favorite Glover Gardens hibiscus pics, a late-summer garden digital postcard.

fullsizeoutput_15f1
I love the bright yellow

 

fullsizeoutput_160a
A white Texas Star Hibiscus

 

IMG_4951
A red Texas Star Hibiscus

 

IMG_0827
Mahogany Splendor Hibiscus; it’s relatively rare and hard to find

 

IMG_0822

 

IMG_0812
Another Mahogany Splendor

 

IMG_4987
Hawaiian Hibiscus (I think)

 

IMG_4961
A beautiful pink double-bloomer

 

IMG_4956

 

hibiscus2

 

fullsizeoutput_1600
Tall and leggy Lord Baltimores; that’s Godfrey on the left

 

IMG_6068
A Lord Baltimore, close up

 

fullsizeoutput_14ef

 

fullsizeoutput_14f7

 

fullsizeoutput_14fb
Lord Baltimore Hibiscus, blooms as big as dinner plates

 

IMG_6056
I don’t know the name of this beauty

 

fullsizeoutput_14ea
The red bud to the left is the newest hibiscus, with an interesting shaped-bloom (pics to come)

 

IMG_6031
See the bee?
fullsizeoutput_14fc
Another white Texas Star, which bloomed for the first time on Dad’s death day

 

IMG_4558

DSC_0022

 

fullsizeoutput_15f3
A rose peeking through the hibiscus bush

 

IMG_0834
A double bloom, in the midst of opening

 

fullsizeoutput_15f2

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook (feel free to share with attribution and links)

Cool Off in the Hot Summer with Salmon Louie Salad

In the late summer when the heat is getting you down, it’s time for a gigantic salad for dinner.  The Grill-Meister is partial to Crab Louie (or is it Louis?) Salad but also loves when we have plank-grilled salmon for dinner, so one night we decided to combine the two ideas and make a Salmon Louie Salad. And we threw on some grilled shrimp, too. Yum!

fullsizeoutput_15ff.jpeg
Doesn’t that just look like it will cool you down on these blistering August days?

This is a super-easy one-dish meal, although you could serve a crusty french bread with it.  There isn’t really a firm recipe or amounts for the salad part, but I’ll talk you through it. Leave out the shrimp if you want; it’s good but not necessary for the meal to be glorious.

Ingredients

  • Your favorite salad greens (we like a mix)
  • Enough boiled eggs so that you won’t be fighting over them
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Tomato wedges or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced bell peppers (red, green, yellow)
  • Sliced red onions
  • Croutons
  • Grilled shrimp (1 lb peeled and cleaned shrimp, 1 tbsp olive oil, seasoning mix)
  • Plank-grilled salmon (recipe here) – see ingredients list in that recipe, and don’t forget the plank!
  • Thousand Island dressing or your favorite (no need to stick with tradition here if there’s something you like better); I like this Remoulade
  • Salt and liberal amounts of freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions

Start with the plank-grilled salmon recipe, because you’ll have to soak the plank for at least 30 minutes, make the spice rub and apply it to the fish, and heat up the grill.

Salmon After Spice Rub
The spice rub assembles quickly and is just the right balance of sweet and spicy

Toss the shrimp with olive oil and about 2 tsp of your favorite Southwest or Cajun spice mix (we always use my Zippy Southwest); if you don’t have a spice mix on hand, try 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper).  Set aside with the fish.

Prepare the plates and start layering on the goodies, starting with a big fluffy base of greens and arranging the rest of the ingredients except the croutons all over each plate, leaving space in the middle for the salmon filet. Store the plated salads in the refrigerator until you’re ready for them.

If you’re making the remoulade, now’s the time.

img_0457
Remoulade before mixing; it goes really well with salmon

Grill the salmon according to the directions in the recipe.

Salmon in the Grill
I add a few sliced red onions and poblano peppers if there is room left on the cedar plank.

Throw the shrimp on the grill after you remove the salmon (tent foil over the salmon while it is resting and after adding the honey drizzle called for in the recipe).  The shrimp cook pretty quickly on a hot grill, about 2 minutes per side.

Add a salmon filet, some grilled shrimp and the croutons to each plate, then add a sprinkling of salt and generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Serve with the dressing of your choice; I like to serve it on the side.

fullsizeoutput_1603

This salad goes really well with a crisp Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc, if you’re a wine drinker.

Enjoy! (And cool off.)

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

haiku: hungry hummingbird

hello, hummingbird!
drink up before your journey;
~ thanks for stopping by ~

Hummingbird on Feeder (3).jpg

This hungry little beauty zoomed up to the feeder at Little House in the Rockies within two minutes of my filling it, and then posed for me for a moment.  The early bird gets the bright red go-juice! Migration is just a month away for this Black-Chinned Hummingbird.

Mindfulness is so easy in the quiet of a mountain cabin.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

My Room with a View: Nautical Twilight in Aberdeen

If you ask a Scottish person what time the sun goes down, they’ll say “Ach, not late, aroun’ aboot half-ten in the summer.”  DON’T BELIEVE IT.

The sun never stops giving a wee bit of its glow to the summer night sky in Scotland.  It sinks beneath the horizon in what is called “nautical twilight”, and never lets the sky get completely dark.  Not that I’m complaining – it is beautiful.

I was reminded of the nautical twilight phenomenon during a brief stay in Aberdeen this week.   Aberdeen is a coastal city perched on the east side of Scotland right on the North Sea.  I had a room with a view and snapped these pics to capture that ever-changing but never-dark sky while enjoying the cool night air and familiar cries of the seagulls.  (This lass grew up amid sand and seagulls in a wee coastal town in southeast Texas, albeit with warm nights and actual darkness after twilight.)

IMG_4876
An afternoon shot of the church across the road from the hotel
IMG_4886
At 8 p.m. from my hotel window; the church is mostly behind the tree on the right, but there’s a beautiful bell tower being restored
IMG_4892
At 10:00 p.m.
IMG_4897
At 2:00 a.m. – can you believe it?
IMG_4898
At 4:00 a.m.
IMG_4899
At 6:00 a.m.; check out one of the many seagulls in the top left

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Margaritas, Perfected Over Time by the Raconteur

I have a friend who is a margarita-maker extraordinaire.  My son’s godfather, he is a true renaissance man with a variety of interests, a broad palate for both food and libations, and an uncanny ability to describe the essence of a thing in humorous, quirky way; you might call him a raconteur.  In fact, that’s what I’m going to call him here in the blog:  the Raconteur. He has perfected the mixology for this ubiquitous cocktail through years of practice, experimentation, and feedback. I’ve blogged about the Raconteur and his ‘Ritas before, when I profiled the marvelous Krups juicer he uses. A Friday night tradition for years back when I was a single mom was enjoying pizza and wings with the Raconteur and Kat-Woman, his wife; we washed them down with his hand-made tart margaritas.

We’d laugh and talk and catch each other up on happenings at work and in our extended families, and often share the food and drink with random neighbor friends who somehow began to realize that the party was always at my house on Friday nights.

On several occasions, we put together taste tests to try out the absolute best combinations of a variety of tequilas and orange liquors; these things are important to get right.

100_1884
A taste test with three different tequilas during a group trip to the Rio Frio in West Texas, more than a dozen years ago
100_1885
He was tickled by the idea of the taste test, even before he started mixing
100_1896
All ready for the tasting
100_1905
We served everyone three small margaritas, so they could judge the best.  The “cocktail waitresses” are me on the left, and “Kat-Woman” on the right; she’s my son’s godmother

I’ve been working on the Raconteur to be a guest blogger for Glover Gardens, and recently, Kat-Woman sent me the photo below with a suggestion to do a Margarita post.

fullsizeoutput_8be
The current favorites for tequila and triple sec

These days, we enjoy the Raconteur’s ‘Ritas at Glover Gardens when they visit, or Little House in the Rockies.  He finally agreed to share his thoughts on the topic:

“The margarita recipe is simplicity itself, although different than the the ones that are so often published.

My recipe is 2:2:1. Two parts tequila, two parts fresh-squeezed lime juice and one part triple sec.

Some published recipes call for 3:2:1. Too much tequila for me. Tequila by itself has a taste that is similar (in my imagination, never having tasted the real thing) to kerosene. That is why you balance it out with the lime and the triple sec. And, I like lime juice.

One often sees a recipe that is 2:1:1:1. Two parts tequila, one part triple sec, one part lime juice, and one part simple syrup. If you compare this to my recipe, you will see that it is similar, except that one of the two parts lime juice has been replaced with simple syrup. Makes a sweeter drink, and one that is cheaper to make. Great for restaurants, and the patrons get a sugar rush with their drink.

But I don’t need the sugar rush, I think excessive sugar increases the chances of a hangover (think champagne!) and it masks the taste of tequila. I know that I said just above that straight tequila tastes like kerosene, but lime and triple sec transform it.

So, do yourself a favor and stick with 2:2:1. If it isn’t sweet enough, add some sugar. I do that for my mother-in-law. Just beware of the three consequences I listed above. And cook your steak well-done if you want to. (Note from Glover Gardens – he’s being sarcastic here.)

I salt the rim, but I drink from the same spot on the rim, so I don’t take in much extra salt. Mostly decorative, but it does tone down the sweetness from the triple sec.

I mostly use el Jimador Reposado for the tequila and Hiram Walker 48 or 60 proof for the Triple Sec. Luxardo triplum works well, too.

Cheers!”

A final note on margaritas:  always, always, always use fresh-squeezed lime juice for margaritas. Anything else is simply criminal. For more about the Friday night Pizza, Wings and ‘Ritas tradition with Kat-Woman and the Raconteur and the perfect juicer, here’s The Juicer for Me, for You, for Ritas.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

A Memorial Day Menu from Glover Gardens

The Memorial Day forecast calls for rain in Southeast Texas, but that’s fine by me.  A rainy Monday Memorial holiday calls for sleeping late, a date with a good book, some barbecue in the afternoon and a war movie or two.  Whether or not you’ve got rain in your forecast, here are a few tried and true recipes that are just right for the Memorial Day table.

My Spicy-Sweet Honey Chipotle Pork Spareribs are cooked “low and slow” in the oven and then given a quick finish on the grill for that time-honored char. Give ’em a try!

fullsizeoutput_52a

If you’re vegetarian, try the rub from the ribs recipe on grilled eggplant; my blogger friend at Pleasant Peasant Cuisine suggested that in a comment on my post about the ribs.  He used the rub on his Stuffed Squash Blossoms, which would be a great vegetarian main dish for Memorial Day or a lovely side.

stuffed squash blossoms
Photo credit to Pleasant Peasant Cuisine; these beautiful squash blossoms have been treated with the rub from my ribs recipe

What’s a barbecue without a slaw on the side? Here’s my slightly spicy Pepper Jelly Slaw recipe.

IMG_2297

Or you could opt for a Throw-Down Side: Quick and Easy Black Bean Salad.

IMG_2164

Serrano Ham and Corn Pudding is a great side for ribs (actually, I think it is a great side for anything, and it’s not even one of my original recipes).

233408

Why not finish off the meal with some great big cookies that are chock-full of cookie goodness?  You’ll like my Glover Gardens Comfort Cookies, and since they have nuts, oatmeal and dried fruit, too, they qualify as “healthy”.  That means you can eat more of ’em!

Cookies and Milk
No one can stop at just one Comfort Cookie

Happy Memorial Day! And no,  even though I’m blogging about the menu, I haven’t forgotten the reason we celebrate: those who gave their lives for our freedom.  In their memory, here’s a photo of our flag, taken at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. I love how prominently it is displayed there.

1410782_10202308616347512_2144783120_o (1)

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook