Friday, August 20, 2010

Nice kitty cat...

Some days we need a little humor!  I found this video - an animated cat.  If you've had a cat sometime in your life, you'll get a kick out of this. I must say that all the cats we've had as a family, PusPus, Houch, S*^#H@!&, Pretty Kitty, Goldie, Spooks, Pretty Kitty (I know I said her twice), and Girlfriend (not really a girl - don't ask it was a sad day for us!), Elmo the flying cat and Bellagio. These felines were amazing in their own ways. Right now, I'm the only one with a cat, Miss KC, Chris has a hamster,Dumbledore and Tim has two pembroke welsh corgies, Kirby & Chloe. Hope you enjoy this shortie.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play

This is great - on the 25th of September - Nick's programing will be shutting down from noon to 3pm.  Yes, the TV will not have any programing available.

Nick began this celebration of a Day of Play to encourage kids and families to get out and play!  Heck, it wouldn't hurt some of us adults to get out and play too.

Check out your library to borrow museum and attraction passes, ask your local parks & rec for activities, check out the website Planet Explore.  At this site, you enter your zip code and find lots of activities in and around where you play.

A great event  you can enjoy on that day is the Waterfall Festival - in the center of Newington from 10am to 5pm.  It is a great event, maybe I'll see you there?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Peanuts - boiled?

I love to travel especially when you can get to have new foods.  I went to this restuarant during Camp St. Louis called Bandana's BBQ.  There was something on the menu that I had never seen before and it really peaked my curisosity - hot boiled peanuts.  I been cautioned not to eat nuts as they could upset my digestive track.  So with them cooked, our hostess said they could be soft, I ordered a portion.  They were really good, ask Shelby.  I'm converted - I just need to get a supplier of green peanuts up here in the north.

Just-in-case you are interested - this is how to make hot boiled peanuts.

Boiled Peanuts Recipe - How To Boil Green Peanuts
Judging from the many variations on recipes for boiled peanuts, there appears to be no wrong way to boil green peanuts.  The important thing is the many tastings needed to determine when they are done. You must taste test the boiled peanuts for saltiness and firmness, as some people prefer soft nuts to firmer ones.

4 to 5 pounds green (raw) peanuts in shell*
4 to 6 quarts water
1 cup plain salt per gallon of water

*Only use peanuts that are green (uncured). Do not attempt this recipe with roasted peanuts.

Wash unshelled peanuts thoroughly in cold water until water runs clear; then soak in cool, clean water for approximately 30 minutes before cooking.

In a large heavy pot, place soaked peanuts and cover completely with water. NOTE: Add enough water to cover the peanuts by 2 inches.

Add 1 cup of salt per gallon of water.

Cook, covered, on high heat for 4 to 7 hours.
Boil the peanuts for approximately 4 hours, stirring occasionally, and then taste.
Taste again in 10 minutes, both for salt and texture.

Keep cooking and tasting until the peanuts reach desired texture (when fully cooked, the texture of the peanut should be similar to that of a cooked dry pea or bean).

NOTE: The cooking time of boiled peanuts varies according to the maturity of the peanuts used and the variety of peanuts. The cooking time for a "freshly pulled" or green peanut is shorter than for a peanut that has been stored for a time.

Remove from heat and drain peanuts after cooking or they will absorb salt and become over salted.

Peanuts may be eaten hot or at room temperature, or chilled in the refrigerator and eaten cold, shelling as you eat them.

Freezing boiled peanuts:
Prepare peanuts as indicated above. Drain, allow to cool, and freeze in airtight containers. They keep indefinitely.

Canning Boiled Peanuts:
Prepare peanuts and brine the same as for boiling for immediate use.
Pack peanuts into jars to within one-half inch of the top, using equal weights of peanuts and hot brine (212°F).

Partially submerge containers in upright position in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Seal while hot and process 45 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. Cool containers in water, label, and store away from heat.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jessica's Day at Camp

Day 2 was great.  I had a little time and went out to the backyard pool.  Denise & I floated about and Chris continued to splash us up.  It was lovely, while the water really warm, nice to relax.  Unfortunately I didn't pay attention and about an hour later, I was sun burned!  Yes - ouch - I was warmed by the glow for three days.
This day was a long time in coming.  I had made plans in January to surprise Jess for her 16th birthday.  There was some family responsibilities I had to take care of and had to postpone the visit.

So a belated Happy 16th Birthday for Jessica.  Her choice for the day was to go to the St. Louis Art Museum.  As she put it, "Aunt Patty will take me".  There was one requirement by me, it had to be a dress up day.

So off to the museum we went.  The building was built for the 1904 World's Fair.  It is grand and very stately and subsequently the museum moved in.  It is also undergoing a massive expansion that is expected to open January 2012.  We went over the the front desk to get information and a map.  Did I mention the is no admission to the museum?  That is right for the museum as a whole is free, only the special exhibits needed a ticket.    The exhibit, The Mourners, a must see.  We went to the desk to get information from one of the hosts.  I had some questions and our host was just lovely and explained all about the museum.  He slipped us two tickets for the exhibit.  The exhibit - amazing - 40 figures sculpted from white alabaster dating back to 1404.

After getting our map and thanking our host for the information, we made our way around the vairous galleries.  Jess thought he was "hot" for me.  LOL!! 

One of my highlights was to see Jessica's eyes as we rounded each corner of the galleries.  Being in the same space as so many famous artists always gives me chills.  She would exclaim, "I studied that in school".  A real treat was to see part of Claude Monet's Water Lilies.  Ever since my visit to Paris and immersing myself into French Impressionism, Monet is one of my favorites.  There is something about being in the prescence of great art that is humbling and exhilarating in the same breath.  When I see it, I reminds me that - all is possible.

Before we knew it, time had flown.  We were full of all the art we saw and now hungry for dinner.  We had a few minutes to make it over to the Loop for dinner at The Melting Pot.  I ordered a split of champagne so Jess could taste and I toasted her.  She picked out each of the courses.  Our beginning was a Spinach and Artichoke Swiss with vegetables and bread cubes.  The cheeses were just delightful !  Then on to a brightly made salad. 

The main course was a Coq Au Vin cooking broth and a full assortment of fishes, chicken, beef, and an extra order of lobster all with individual sauces.  Wow - this was really good. Jess had tuna steak for the first time!  We relaxed, talked about school, summer, which sauce was best with each item we cooked.

The menu at the Melting Pot covers just about everything.  You couldn't go away hungry.  What you could go away with, is just a great satisfied feeling of great fresh food served in a fun way.

Then on to dessert - a chocolate fondu with fruits and cakes.  Yes we had room for chocolate!  This is all that was left.  Mind you if the pot wasn't so hot, we would have scraped every last spec of chocolate.  When we looked at our watch, it was three hours later.  Isn't dining, great food and great company, just fine.

This was a special time for me.  I'm sure we will have some more dates like these in the future.  Thanks Jess!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Taylor's Day at Camp

It was Taylor's Day with me.  She planned that we would do the Loop.  The Loop is the 6000-6600 blocks of Delmar Boulevard near Forest Park.  Its lined with many shops and plenty of places to get a bite to eat.  We walked the entire street - both sides - walked all the planets and visited with each "star" in the Walk of Fame.  A star is for an individual that has some connection to St. Louis - very interesting to find all these folks!

While it was hotttttt and humidddddd, it was great.  We would hop in and out of little businesses and stores.  Visited a yarn shop, while lots from Vermont, there was some hand dyed roving that came from some sheep not far from the shop.  Another shop had this interesting perfume, we both tried it and kept smelling the difference all night long. 

Several shops had vintage clothing, and some with 'hi' fashion clothes.  The vintage vinyl record shop - Wow, talk about stepping back into time!  There were the shops with all sorts of local artists jewelery, pottery, and artwork.  We missed some of the shops as the either closed early or were not open.  Not to worry, it gives us some places to explore on a future trip.

For me it was a great time! We had a chance to talk about her future at college.  About girl stuff, and just about what was going on.  She'll be leaving for college in just about a week from now to join the undergrad class at  Franciscan University of Steubenville!  Go Taylor!!

To wrap up our evening - we went to Pi Pizzeria.  You may think, yeah? big deal pizza?  I must say it was the best thin crust pizza I have ever had and it was gluten free!  We shared a salad and designed two, very different, great pizzas. I had a local draft beer - while not gluten free, it was fresh and really cold.   We sat back and enjoyed ourselves.  The restaurant was fun, very very busy, and by the time we left (about 7:30), the place was packed - inside and out - with a line waiting in 95degree weather!

Once again Taylor, thanks for a great day!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Camp Aunt Patty Day 1

Camp opened early this year.  The local kids were given a heads up around the 3rd week of June.  They were told that they better see what they wanted to do and let me know.  As for the St. Louis gang, they were not coming east this summer.  So I transported myself to them.  Getting a date with all of them home - no small feat!

A little snafu with travel - my luggage didn't want to do the camp thing and took another vacation.  The airline was good about tracking it down, scolding it, and getting it to me some 9 hrs later.  Thank you AA!  Thanks Pete!

Knowing I'd be driving around quite a bit, I rented a car.  Thrifty was the choice for this trip and other than finding the 'stand' for them to pick me up, it is a company to do business with.  The front desk folks suggested that if I needed to get back to the airport for my luggage, come by their lot and they would shuttle me over and back for no fee.  Now that is really nice!

L to r - Taylor, Chris, Me, Shelby & Jessica
Unfortunately the car rental place couldn't take care of the weather.  Just as I was ready to pull onto the highway - the heavens open up and I drove in torrents of rain almost all the way to my brother's place.  My GPS, Agnes, yes we named her, worked like a charm except for the flooded roads and finding PF Changs.

Of course, with all of this, I'm delayed in getting to their home.  My dear sister-in-law, Denise, has made a feast and was so worried that it was drying out.  Never mind for me - it was the darn best chicken I've had in a really long time.  Great enough to ask her for the recipe. 

The rest of the evening went well.  We were getting caught up on what has been doing in their lives, figuring out which kid had me for which day and what we were going to do. Continuing checking in with AA to get my luggage.

At the crack of dawn, I'm up and having breakfast with Chris and Shelby.  Taylor & Jessica are already at work.  Shelby is working on a school project- Now this kid has determination - she makes you proud.  She has to write a project and begin the research for it over the summer so they can get a kick start on day 1.  She picked Rosa Parks, and a few others.  I threw in William Wilburforce just in case the various other people she picked didn't pan out.

Then it's 9:15am - yes - what are we doing - I'm off with Denise and Chris to see Percy Jackson & the Olmpians - the Lightning Thief.  It was a great movie and quite the experience to watch it with my nephew, he'll dispute my review.  It's about two hours long and since Chris has the book committed to memory, I received a full dialogue on the differences between the book and the movie.  While the action and graphics would knock your socks off, I'll admit to Chris the book sounds like it had all the soul of the story.  Oh, since my luggage arrived, Chris and I got to share Gluten Free pretzels - yum yum.

You may be thinking a movie at 10am in the morning?  Well, in St. Louis, many of the movie theatres have a free movie, in the morning, once a week during the summer vacation.  That's pretty good and a great public service. 

Back home after the movie so I can get ready for Taylor's day with me. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It Bloomed!

Wow - look what I found this morning as I did my early gardening!

It's a Water Hyacinth.  I found this perennial plant  Bob's Vegetable Stand in Wethersfield at the beginning of the season.  They had explained that I need to put it into a big bucket of water and let it sit.  A month an a half has gone by, nothing happened except for happy yellow jackets that loved the water.  This moring to my surprise, it bloomed.

This plant is considered a very agressive pest and clogs water ways.  While it is a perennial, it will not survive the winter up here in the north.  It is native to South America, and is illegal to transport or have them in Texas.  Florida has had them for decades and if left unchecked, like the Kudzu, the hyacinth will choke out and kill waterways.

In the mean time, I'm going to enjoy the blooms until the frost get's here and may continue to keep this water plant in my garden for summers to come.