Monday, March 30, 2015

Spier Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

I have had some health issues and we have cut way back on wine. Kathy and I decided it would be nice to purchase a bottle, while we were still on Kauai, so February 26 2015 we enjoyed a bottle of Hanaiali'i Merlot.

Last night we were looking for an antler, (Yogi's favorite chew toy), and the pet store is next to Total Wine and More. I asked Kathy to pick a bottle while I got the antler.

When we reconvened at the truck, Kathy was quite excited. I looked at the receipt and was a bit sad, it was an $8.99 bottle of wine.

We opened it tonight and I was astounded. The bottle label says it has notes of currants and mint. Maybe I am psyching myself out, but I felt I could taste the mint, the black currant is pretty much a given with any Cabernet Sauvignon. Kathy, (who loves caramel), feels there is a hint of caramel. It is a mellow wine, thanks to the French Oak barrels. We are going back to Puyallup for a Costco run, so we might pick up a couple of bottles, perhaps put one in the high grade cabinet for Rudy's visit and put a couple in the cellar and let them get some age.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

GF Low Glycemic Tabouli Bread

When I made the Tabouli the other day, I made a lot of it and we have not gotten it all eaten and it is starting to get soggy.

So I wondered, maybe I could make Tabouli bread. I put a handful of oats in the pan, added some garlic powder, sunflower seeds, red pepper flakes, four heaping tablespoons of brown rice flour, a level tablespoon of olive oil and of course, the quinoa Tabouli. As a binder I used shredded cheese and egg white. 350 degrees till I could smell it and turned off the oven and let it coast.

Then Kathy and I took a walk, (shaping a heel), and had a few look and sit training sessions with our ten week old puppy Yogi. When we got back we tried it and each went back for seconds.

Ryobi versus Kobalt versus AC power

I don't like small gas engines. I do have a 4 cycle gas powered pole saw and keep it and the gas in a metal shed.

I bought the Ryobi 24v string trimmer to manage the blackberries down by the lake, (I know, I know you have to pull them out and get their roots). Its battery quit accepting a charge the second year. I went to Amazon and ordered two new batteries and they sent me 2 18v. This is when I learned about Amazon's return policy when you buy something from an Amazon merchant instead of Amazon itself. Now I am stuck with two Homelite 18v batteries. Last year I bought a Ryobi 18v string trimmer to go with my batteries and it works for light duty applications. This year, the Ryobi factory battery quit accepting a charge, (in both cases about a month after the warranty expired).

Lowes carries a proprietary brand of tools, called Kobalt. I decided to give them a try. I bought the leaf blower, string trimmer and hedge trimmer. They all use the same battery and icing on the cake, they were running a promotion where you got an extra battery if you bought a tool.

Yesterday was a church work day at Lake Tapps Community Church so I piled everything in the truck. The Kobalt string trimmer seriously outperformed Ryobi. The Kobalt hedge trimmer runs a little slower than my AC powered on, but cuts quite well. The leaf blower is a bit heavier than my AC blower and doesn't blow as hard, but not having a cord, means small jobs are much easier, no setup time with the cord. I will set a google calendar to come back in 13 months and update this post, but the batteries and tools appear to have warranties.

I bought the tools from the Lowe's in Bonney Lake WA. Everybody was incredibly friendly. They did not have the Kobalt Pole Saw, but one lady took my name and number and said she would research it. Who knows, this may be like the time I tried to buy a factory new Ford Interceptor :), (even with someone from the office of the President at Ford trying to help me, no go). Or, it might work and I can get rid of that last small gas engine.

Monday, March 23, 2015

GF, Low Glycemic, Tabouli Salad

One of the side effects of my first trip to Israel was rekindling my love of Tabouli, Falafel and Hummus.

Yesterday, I was motivated to make to Tabouli, (or Tabbouleh if you prefer. Kathy is gluten free so I substitute quinoa for bulgur, (cracked wheat). I was able to source most of the ingredients from Winco, but  the mint which is growing outside. I used the red quinoa from the bulk aisle.  For spices I added a lot of tumeric, powered garlic and sea salt to taste. I was careful not to overcook the quinoa or to add too much water. As soon as it was al dente, I took it off the heat and used a spoon to open up the center of the pan so it would cool quickly.

- Parsley, I used one whole WinCo bunch, (48 cents, read it and weep my Hawaiian friends). Removed the stems, chopped them finely and tossed them in a pan to become soup.
- Mint, it is early in the season, so I didn't have as much as I would like, but there was some pineapple mint and the lemon balm looked very happy so I used some of that.
- Handful of sunflower seeds, (Kathy's suggestion).
- 6 1/2 artichoke hearts from a jar. I pulled the outer leaves which can be woody and tossed them in the soup pot.
- I poured some of the oil from the artichoke jar and then added some avocado oil.
- Small handful of dried blueberries, (not the tiny crunchy totally dried ones, these are like dried olives). These are a foil against the heavy dose of tumeric.
- Teaspoon of black cumin seeds, both for the taste and also because they are supposed to be very good for you.
- Lemon, fresh lemons have their place, but I picked up the 2 pack of RealLemon from Costco and keep one in the fridge. Works just fine with this application. The rule of lemon and almost everything else in cooking, you can always add more, but you can't take it away.
- Stir well, add 2 ripe chopped Roma organic tomatoes, stir in gently

Friday, March 20, 2015

Gluten Free, High Protein, Low Glycemic Cookies, Kale Chips

Last night they had a gathering for newcomers to Lake Tapps Community Church. Kathy and I are not newcomers, but since we live in two states and used to travel a lot we do not have the roots one would like to have. Kathy asked the Coracks is we could come and they said yes.

It was not necessary to bring something, they put out quite the spread, but I wanted to. And it turned out at least one person other than Kathy was on a gluten free diet. I have been experimenting with nut flours instead of grains.

I used equal portions of almond flour, dried powdered peanut butter, coconut flour and whole oats as the base. If it was just Kathy and I there would be no added sugar, or very little. However, other people expect cookies to be sweet. I added dried dates, shredded sweetened coconut, chocolate chips and a teaspoon of turbinado sugar. For the liquid I mostly used egg whites, but some coconut milk as well. Cinnamon and vanilla extract served as the flavor enhancers. 350 degrees worked well.

More and more, when I bring food to a party, I try to use a recycled container so that I do not have to remember to take it home. We had finished all the whole kale chips from a Costco organic two pack*, so we used the crumbs to enhance our salad at lunch and packed the cookies in that. There were only four remaining when we left and I saw at least one person come back for seconds.

In the coming weeks I want to experiment with almond flour, dried powdered peanut butter, coconut flour and whole oats that have been blended so they handle like a flour for pasta. My first attempt to duplicate the Wild Sage Almond Flour Ravioli tasted good, but it lacked presentation because it did not handle well.

* Kathy and I both enjoy Kale chips. We usually use olive oil from a misto to help the sea salt stick. However, I have never come close to anything as good as Costco's Pacific Superfood chips. They are dried at 112 degrees so they count as raw foods and they package says the ingredients are cashews, nutritional yeast, olives, olive oil and sea salt. However, they are fairly expensive, I think the use of dried olives drives the price up. Perhaps my Google fu is lacking, but while I could find dried olives, they tend to be sold in 5 - 7 oz jars ranging from 15 -19 dollars.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Meatball Sausage and Ham Fricasee (Meat lover's fricasee)

It is our turn to bring the soup and starch for our church small group. I was thinking a Creole inspired soup and Cajun potato skins might be fun.

Soup base, I blended the potatoes left from the potato skin operation, essentially the cores with a small onion and chicken stock. Cooked rice and quinoa in chicken stock. I started the soup as quickly as possible, since it needs to cook for several hours.

Meatballs, I found some 93% lean ground turkey, cut up a bunch of parsley, added garlic and Cajun style spicing. I set up a station next to my boiling pot, make the meatballs and dropped them into the soup to cook.

Added some andouille sausage cook with a little olive oil and dried tomato paste. Went through by fridge looking for things to make the soup interesting, baby carrots, a red pepper, half a poblano pepper, Chopped them up small held them in reserve.

The core spices are salt, red pepper, paprika, and garlic. One of the folks at small group doesn't like too much spice, so I used more paprika than red pepper.

For the potato skins, I took a bit of the turkey, cooked it with Cajan spice, let it cool, finely chopped a handful Cremini mushrooms, mixed them with the turkey. I was trying to get the same umph as bacon using the Cajun spices. Two of the people in small group are lactose intolerant, (one just barely), so I used egg as their binder, for the rest of the potato skins, cheese.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The muskrats ate my floating dock

I know, I know, it sounds crazy, in fact it is crazy. We live on a lake, guess that is obvious from the title and one day we were paddling our canoe and met one of our neighbors, a history professor at a local community college. He and his next door neighbor share the biggest dock on the lake. We complimented him on his dock, he told us its history, it used to be at Alan Yorke Statie Parke, but they were replacing it with a newer model and they figured out how to cut it into sections and transport it and rebuild it on our lake. There must have been a lot of men involved since that is a big dock.

Then he said it is sinking. Oh, I said, I thought styrofoam lasts forever if shielded from the sunlight. He said, the muskrats are eating it. He was a nice guy, seemed to be intelligent, but who or what could eat styrofoam. And that is a LOT of styrofoam.

Then we went away for a long time. When we came back, we were excited about canoeing on our lake. Kathy jumped down from the upper dock to the floating dock and said, "Uh Oh". About one third of our styrofoam was missing. We could still launch the canoe and we paddled around the lake and we saw our neighbor. He had a new dock, it was a bit smaller, but he, (and his next door neighbor) still have the largest dock on the lake. This one, as I am sure you have guessed did not have styrofoam flotation.

Kathy and I had two business trips to do, a month later we got back to the lake house and our floating dock was 50% floating and 50% sunk. Muskrats are 2 to 4 pounds according to the Washington State website. For the life of me I cannot understand how they eat that much styrofoam, or even why. The answer is they do not eat, they burrow, from the website: "Floating dock barriers: Muskrats will burrow into floating docks, generally those floating on Styrofoam, scattering the broken white foam along the shoreline. This becomes an environmental danger, due to birds and other small animal eating this foam. To solve this problem, the dock needs to be pulled up on shore and 1-inch mesh hardware cloth (aluminum and stainless steel are also available) needs to be used to cover the Styrofoam."

Too late, our dock is dead. Now what to do? I started brainstorming lots of ideas, but on another canoe trip, we noticed another dock. It was not near the shore, it was operating like a boat, but I knew I had seen it as a dock. Later when they parked it or whatever they do, we canoed over it had a sticker that said I went to their website. Wow, that looks like fun.

However, they sell kits and at the time I was suffering some pretty serious health problems. Somehow, or another, in our communication they said they would build it at cost if they could have the photo rights.

Yesterday, we planted some blueberries. One of the holes was harder than normal because I had to dig up an existing wild cherry, (cherries and blackberries can cause a lot of trouble in Washington). But we got the job done. Kathy had brought down some water bottles with ice and we laid on our Rolling Barge floating dock. It was a beautiful day, the trex decking felt great, it doesn't get better than this.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Kauai to Seattle March 5, 2015

Alaska Airlines 854 boarded a little bit early since it was a full flight and they wanted to be on time for their departure at 2:15 PM. It was a wonderful flight, not too bumpy. I got one of the portable entertainment systems and watched Defenders of the Galaxy which was stupid, but being a geek I had to see it. Next I watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. That is actually a pretty good movie, didn't get to see the ending, we had strong tail winds and got to SEATAC early.

Starline limo was on time, we were in the car by 10:25 PM and we had light traffic coming home. Kathy and the driver had an animated discussion about dogs, he has two Huskies and we are getting a Rottweiler next week. As soon as I got our bags in the house I set up my computer and the NewsBites draft was in my inbox. I did my part and sent it to Alan. Friday, I worked to catch up with the mail that was unanswered the day before.

The weather here was perfect, between 60 and 70, not a cloud in the sky. Saturday we slept late, I was up several times in the night. Spring has come early and I was sneezing. I hope all those budding plants keep in mind, late freezes can and do happen. In the mean time it is fun to see all the flowers, especially the cherry trees.

Cherry tree at Windmill Gardens

We slipped over to Lakeland center to drop our dry cleaning off at Regency cleaners and while we were there we ducked into Hagen's. Kathy found a starter of red thyme she is excited about and I picked up a gorgeous piece of deep red, wild caught, salmon and a dozen free range chicken eggs. I also grabbed some organic strawberries, we will wipe them out for breakfast before church. Dinner was chili lime salmon over a bed of parsley, wild rice and asparagus with a garlic aioli, and a potato pancake with one of those eggs, (don't tell anyone, but I slipped in some ground chia seeds as well). For dessert I made a nectarine and almond flour pastry with a touch of Irish cream. It must have worked, Kathy was licking the pan.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kauai Kapaa - Mariachi's

Bottom line: I would avoid, Monaco's is the best Mexican in Kapaa/Waipoli/Wailua. Kathy and I went there Sunday night for a concert. They said it started at 4:00 PM and Kathy wanted to be there then, (I had been thinking something closer to 6:30 after some of the warm up bands were done).

When we got there it was happy hour and they do have food at happy hour prices, so we split a Carne Asada which was a bunch of french fries that had been warmed on the griddle, some melted cheese, a few bites of meat topped with a teaspoon of guacamole. They also served chips and salsa, I added their hot sauce to the salsa and that was a fun spicy combination.

I ordered a Negra Modelo, it was warm when I got it and served in the smallest cup I have ever seen a beer in. It was one those little clear plastic cups they give you at fast food places when you ask for water instead of a fountain drink.

The bands were so so, the chairs uncomfortable so we left early, good thing in a sense, we had walked there and five minutes after we got home it started raining and kept it up for hours. To be sure we need the water and I was glad it was not on my head.