Thursday, May 17, 2012

Family Dinners

Oh man I am so glad to be back, well partially back, I have had P-monia since May 6th! I missed my Grandaughter Kingsley's 15 Birthday (5/9) and just living in general. So I was excited to have the family over last night for a post Birthday dinner for Kingsley and a Pre Birthday dinner for my Son in Law Scott.There is a rule that whenever I have the kids (and grandkids (teens) over for dinner, I have to prepare a meal that I have never cooked before. This really makes it a fun challenge, and I look forward to all of us being guinea pigs! So far all my meals have turned out excellent, and the raves have been so appreciated. I have cooked everything from New England Clam Chowder, Crab Newburg, French Peas, and this past week I made Cheese Grits (made up my own recipe) Shrimp Scampi  (made up my own recipe) and Herbed Greenbean Casserole (from the Criso recipe site).  The family really looks forward to these nights.

Rena'z Gritz (my recipe)

4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups 1/2 & 1/2
salt to taste
1 1/2 cup quick grits (not instant)
2 bags of Cheddar/Jack (the 2 cup bags)

Bring water and 1/2 & 1/2 to a boil, add salt
and grits, stir, let return to a boil (watch out for the splats)
reduce heat to med, cover and cook about 10 min (stirring)
add 2 bags of cheese and stir till melted.
So creamy and deelish.

Rena's "Shrimp Scampi" (My Recipe)

1 1/2 lbs shrimp peeled with the tails on. (this gives 6 people about 8 shrimp)
( had the girl count out 50 shrimp and they came to the 1 1/2 lbs)

Mix together in a large bowl:
1 cup of canola oil
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
2 heaping teaspoons of minced garlic (out of the jar)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 shakes of hot sauce
(even if you stopped right here, this makes a bang'n salad dressing)
toss in shrimp and mix all up and let shrimp sit in this mixture for about 20 min
Melt not one, but "TWO" sticks of salted butter and after cooled a little, pour in with the
you will notice there is no salt in this recipe as it will toughen the shrimp, the salt comes
from the butter.
Now arrange the shrimp in a baking dish that can hold all the shrimp and juice, I try to get
the shrimp into a single layer.

Put the baking dish into a 450 degree oven and cook for 10 minutes.
Put into a fish shaped platter Juice and all ("Presentation is Everything", my motto)
Cook the large Coles garlic bread (this cooks at 450 for ten min, so I put in with my shrimp! smart huh?)
slice into 1" strips as this is wonderful for sopping up the buttery juice from the Scampi
Everyone loved this, hope you will too!

 Herbed Greenbean Casserole (from the Crisco recipe site)

3 cans greenbeans drained
In a large bowl mix 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
2 tsp of dried basil
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup of the (shredded) parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
reserve about 1/2 cup for the topping
Put beans in the bowl and add 1/2 cup canola oil
and mix all together
put in a baking dish and top with rest of dry mix.
bake at 350 degrees for 30 min or until light brown and bubbly.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Urban Dwellers

I have been thinking for a long time about doing a Coffee Table Book. My subject would be animals and birds that have adapted to the Urban setting. To me the only bird that seems at home in the city is a Pigeon! But yet when I go to the grocery store, or any mall for that matter, there are tiny Wrens, "Town Birds" we call them, flitting in and out of the overhangs, nesting in any opening under or in an eave, or behind huge back lit letters, in little median bushes, or trees in the middle of parking lots and these little birds are so busy, and just a sing'n, they seem happy to be in this Urban Setting! As a matter of fact, I don't have any of these flitting around my yard, with their never ending chirping. I just have the normal Cardinals and Blue Jays  and a few Chickadees, but nothing like the parking lots seem to have! The other week after coming off the ramp on the expressway, I noticed on the side of the embankment, there were five huge Wood Storks, just hang'n out! Cars just whizzing by, exhaust fumes washing over them, but yet there they stood! Actually quite majestic looking, for a Wood Stork. Then yesterday when I went to the Dollar Store, right in the middle of this huge parking lot there was a White Heron in one of the small round medians in the lot. Same scenario, cars whizzing by, exhaust fumes washing over him (or her), but yet this White Heron just stood there, not minding at all that I had backed up to get a better view, I took a picture. The Heron did not move, this bird was at least three feet long, his wing span must of been huge, but his eye kept looking right at me, I drove around the little median the Heron was on, driving so slow as to not make it fly away, but as my car crept up closer , the Heron just looked at me, I took another picture. Honestly I truly think we shared a moment, so still, just looking at each other, I wondered what it thought of me just sitting so close and staring..the Heron was still looking at me as I slowly drove away. Even while out riding our bikes we take a route that goes down a big sidewalk that has a drainage ditch between us and the road, and in the ditch we have seen Snapping Turtles, Wood Storks, Ibis and Herons, in drainage ditches! Same scenario, cars and bikes whizzing by, exhaust fumes washing over them, but yet there they are adapting to the never ending sprawl of "Urbania"!  (my new word)