Looking through some of my photos, I found a couple of an abandoned building in the Cline Ranch State Wildlife Area near Como, Colorado. I took them in February of this year, and forgot about them.
I’m sure the horseshoe was reason I snapped the picture of the door below; it speaks to the hopeful mindset of the cabin’s inhabitant, whoever and whenever that was. When I looked closer and saw the dried flowers (put there by someone else later, right?), I knew I had to write a haiku about the still life they form together.
I realized the haiku would make the most sense on the door itself. Enjoy.
Click here for another post with lots more photos: Cline Ranch State Wildlife Area. But beware, if you love a winter scene, these photos will stir your wanderlust and you may find yourself searching for discount airfare for Colorado in February…
Today was a great day for me. Let me set the stage for you: My jaw / mouth / face / ear has been hurting since mid-February. I have seen three dentists and one doctor during this time and have received multiple conflicting diagnoses. Grinding my teeth. Jaw strain from an unknown cause, perhaps “biting down wrong on an almond”. TMJ. Fibromyalgia (chronic pain / heightened nerve activity). Old silver filling that might be loosening. Recommendations not to open wide, not to eat popcorn or almonds, to use a fork with a hamburger so I wouldn’t strain my jaw. A couple of the diagnoses were handed out BEFORE the “medical professional” even examined me. They didn’t check out my medical history, look at my charts, ask me what was going on. But they prescribed lots of meds, most of which I never took, because I didn’t believe the diagnoses. Two dental night guards were created for me, one of which wasn’t fitted properly and had to be discarded (although I paid for it), and the other which (I assume) is still at the dentist’s office, no one ever having called me to say it was ready.
I had a crisis of confidence, for seven months, while I also had escalating pain in my face. It might have made me a bit grumpy.
Today, a marvelous and extremely professional full-scale dentistry practice spent time listening to me, evaluating my input, and doing a deep and time-consuming examination. And then they dug in ~ literally! ~ to fix my issue. It turns out that I had a crack in a back molar, a condition that doesn’t show up on x-ray and requires an intensive visual examination. Cracked molar syndrome is hard to diagnose and requires a dedicated, thorough professional to find it. The crack extended to the nerve cavity, my whole tooth was dead, and the infection was into the bone. I had a root canal today and got a crown, and am so very happy to finally have: a.) a medical staff that cares enough about figuring out and solving the problem to spend time on it (I was there for 5 hours) and b.) a solution! I didn’t realize how much the chronic pain in my jaw was weighing on me.
There’s no “poor pitiful me” in this saga, simply a realization and cautionary tale that you have to aggressively seek solutions these days when you have a weird or unresolved medical issue. The burden of investigation and tenacity about solving the problem has shifted from the medical professional to the patient. Sometimes you have to seek help from multiple sources before you get an answer. And you have to listen to your gut. I somehow knew that my problem wasn’t just grinding my teeth or wasn’t anywhere close to being fibromyalgia.
My jaw is throbbing a bit this evening from the oral surgery and the infection from living with that cracked tooth for over 7 months, but my heart is soaring with the knowledge that my issues have been diagnosed and addressed. The oral surgeon even called me at home at 7 pm tonight to make sure I was doing ok. Really! When was the last time that ever happened, a medical professional calling you at home to make sure you’re ok? I’m jazzed about that charming “bedside manner”.
Sandwich Wednesday is a thing at Glover Gardens. The Grill-Meister is also a Sandwich King and takes over the kitchen on Wednesdays, surprising me with a variety of bread-borne main courses like paninis.
I love Wednesdays!
The latest press-perfect panini featured slices of leftover grilled ribeyes and fontina cheese. The Grill-Meister gathered these sturdy ingredients along with some baby arugula we had on hand and sliced some red onions. (We think red onions make almost all sandwiches better.) He pulled out a variety of condiments and set up a do-it-yourself assembly next to the sourdough bread so we could each have a customized sandwich made exactly to our own specifications.
As you can see, the condiment choices were bacon jam, remoulade, Dijon, horseradish cream, and more mustards: deli, creole and stone-ground. All great options, but I went immediately for the Dijon because of its classic combination with steak. The Grill-Meister decided to do Dijon on one side and horseradish cream on the other; horseradish and beef being another classic combo. I followed his lead, and let me tell you, Dear Readers, the Grill-Meister was right. The spicy Dijon and horseradish produce a dual but complementary bite that was balanced by the almost-sweet creaminess of the fontina cheese.
And hey, it’s a weeknight, so don’t go to a lot of trouble on the side dishes – paninis are great with simple sides like fruit, beans, potato salad or even just carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes.
The recipe below serves 2; just increase the amounts if you aren’t empty-nesters like us. Also, if you’re a vegetarian, don’t despair; this panini would rock with a grilled vegetable in place of the steak. You could use portobello mushrooms, eggplant or thick planks of zucchini.
4 large slices of sourdough bread
Dijon mustard and horseradish cream, or other tangy condiments of your choice – see above
6 oz. of sliced cooked steak, deli roast beef or pot roast
1 cup loosely packed arugula (we used baby arugula but grownup greens would be ok, too)
3-4 slices of red onion
4 oz. sliced fontina cheese or other medium-flavored, medium-hard cheese (Gouda or Edam would be a good substitute)
Softened butter to spread on the bread
If you have a panini press, set it to heat up to medium high. Spread the condiments of your choice on the bread slices, then build the panini on one piece of bread, starting with the beef, then adding the onion, arugula and the cheese. Put the second bread slice atop the cheese, then spread a light layer of butter on the top slice. When you are ready to press the paninis, turn them over and place the buttered side down on the bottom plate of the panini press, then spread butter on the top piece of bread and close the press. Push down the top slightly to compress the sandwich and cook for about 7 minutes, or until the bread is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Remove from the panini press and serve.
If you don’t have a panini press, you should get one! But actually, you can simply heat a skillet to medium high and follow the same process, using a spatula to press down the sandwich and turning to cook the second side after the first is browned.
Note: The panini party with the leftovers is why we always, always, always grill more steak than we can eat, but this sandwich would be just as good with roast beef – either the sliced kind from the deli, or the for-real kind if you had an old-fashioned roast for Sunday dinner.
Glover Gardens is non-commercial, but we do occasionally recommend products, just our opinion about stuff that works or is good. That’s the case with this panini press.
We had a little family birthday celebration for yours truly this past weekend at a local eatery, Crú Food and Wine Bar in The Woodlands, TX. It was simple, unfussy, lovely, and delicious. Check out some of our dishes.
The food was world-class, and not so expensive that the fam couldn’t also swing for birthday gifts! And the mimosas were excellent, with carafes of about 6 glasses for only $10. Yes, you heard that right – $10 mimosa carafes. We’ll be back for brunch again soon!!!
Y’all know that I love to make up new recipes or tinker with ones that I find to make them mine. But sometimes, a recipe is already juuuuust right. (I flatter myself that I can tell by just looking.) You may remember that the Grill-Meister recently caught some trout, and I convinced him to smoke it – and then wanted to make a really good spread out of it. I set out to do my usual Google search, and found quite a few. But this one from Two Peas in a Pod blog stood out.
Why is it perfect? Let me try to describe it: chunks of smoky trout in a creamy spread with a bit of crunch from the celery, a bit of spice from the red pepper and a tangy finish from the lemon juice. After the first bit – on either a water cracker or a salty chip – you just want more, and more, and more. All I did to “enhance” this perfect recipe was add a bit more crunch by doubling the celery (because the Grill-Meister is big on a celery crunch in a salad) and sprinkle in a few drops of Tabasco.
Today is my birthday. I’ve had a blessed life, rich with experience and wonderful people.
One of my blessings is a treasure trove of family history I have just inherited. My Dad died recently, and my Aunt-Mom gave me his computer to copy his pictures. Dad was a great family historian, and took loads of photos. The picture archive includes old ones from my childhood that Dad scanned, and I found some from my 6th birthday party. What a gift; too cool not to share with you to celebrate my birthday.
We played Blind Man’s Buff at that little party; that’s Mom below helping us to get started and get that blindfold on tight. I’m the short little girl in the plaid dress with the bow.
I remember my Dad building the patio cover and the little brick barbecue in our back yard. We lived in Burleson, Texas, and he was an account executive for Exxon. Mom was a registered nurse (RN) but was just about to quit working to be with us kids full-time. They were proud of that little backyard and really enjoyed giving parties like this one.
We also played Pin the Tail on the Donkey, another game that requires a blindfold. Hmmmm….
Mom was so beautiful; look at that smile.
The thing I remember most about that 6th birthday party is Mom helping me get dressed. She said that the puffy sleeves on the little plaid dress (see below) were called “pork chop sleeves”. I thought that was really funny and decided to call them “steak sleeves” instead. My 6-year old wisecrack cracked her up. I’ve never since heard of pork chop sleeves (did she make it up?), but to me, they’d still be called steak sleeves. Fashionistas – are pork chop sleeves a thing?
I have lived a full life to this point and am so grateful for all of the people in it; those who are still with me and those who have gone over the rainbow but left their permanent imprint. Happy birthday to me.
As I mentioned in my recent Trout Tacos post, the Grill-Meister recently went on a deep-sea fishing trip off the coast of Biloxi, Mississippi and brought home some bounty from the sea.
Today’s culinary adventure is smoking some of the trout he caught. The Grill-Meister is a wizard at smoking salmon (see Tom’s Smoked Salmon), but this is our first time to tackle trout. After looking at some recipes online, I developed the brine recipe, marinated the fillets overnight, drained, dried and got them ready, and the Grill-Meister took over at the smoking point.
Wood chips for smoking (the Grill-Meister used mesquite)
Combine all of the ingredients except the trout in a large glass baking dish, and stir to mix. Add the fillets, pushing them down into the brine to make sure all of the fish is covered, then put a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the brine and fish to make it almost airtight and keep the fish submerged. You may want to cover it with another layer of plastic wrap to seal it well. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Remove the fish from the brine and dry it on a layer of paper towels, then let it sit on a rack for about an hour to come to room temperature. Get your smoker and wood ready per the instructions from the manufacturer, and heat to 190°. Smoke for about 2 hours, keeping the temperature at around 190°, or until done. Cover and chill until you are ready to use it.
Three pounds of smoked trout is richness! How to serve it???
Smoked Trout, Plated, Al Fresco
Here’s one way: flaked, with dipping sauces fresh from our foray to the farmers market today.
Our sauces are shown below; we love to support our local vendors.
The spicy cocktail sauce for our smoked trout is Big Bayou Cocktail Sauce (with Jalapeño). Yum! The green sauce is from Pain Train, their special, once-a-year version with roasted Hatch chiles.