Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fantastic Italian Villages

The Trout here, wanting to share our short trip into Italy this fall.  


While planning our SE France trip for last October, I came across a great blog about the Nice area by Kevin Hin titled French  Riviera Blog.  One of his suggested side trips was a short drive to the NerviaValley just inside the Italian border above Ventimiglia.  Four wonderful hillside villages are located in the valley within easy driving distance of each other.

The first village is Dolceacqua with its famous bridge Ponte Romano leading from the modern side of the village into the old village.  The  bridge was a favorite scene for Monet to paint way back when.  There is an old castle in ruins above the village.




Once inside the old village, both Susan and I commented on how enclosed the passages felt.  Ghostly silent also, with very narrow passages leading upward to homes with bridges connecting each side of the passages.  We wondered how it would be to live in such a  seemingly  confined space with little light and warm air.



Next came the village of Rocchetta Nervinia which seemed to cling precariously to the hillside above the bubbling stream below.  It too had very narrow and dark passages within the village with that ghostly feeling of silence and closed in existence for its residents.



The other villages are Isolabona and probably the most spectacular of all, Apricale.  Please visit Kevin's blog  for some incredible pictures of these villages.  We didn't want to challenge the narrow curvy road to either so we left them for another time, hopefully to stay a couple of days in a lovely B&B to experience how it is to live in such a quaint setting.  Probably much more cheerful than we now imagine.

We have enjoyed so many villages all over Europe but these just have that unbelievable medieval feeling about them and how hard life must have been at times as these villages were started and added to.
But the valley produces its own unique red wine called Rossese as well as olive oil which we enjoyed at a nice lunch in Dolceaqua.  Another world we discovered!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from our house to yours



Love, Schnitzel and the Trout

Friday, December 14, 2012

Giveaway winner is announced!!

The giveaway winner is announced and it is Karen from Karen Cooks.  Karen send me your address and I will get it to Cathy and the hazelnuts will be on their way.  Thanks for participating.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hazelnut Torte and a Giveaway

When blogger friend, Cathy,  Wives with Knivesadded a "store" to her blog, I was excited.  I knew for years that Cathy owns "The Bavarian Nut Company" in her native Oregon.  Hazelnuts are in her store, so I knew I would have to have some.  I have never lived where they are readily available year-round, so this was a treat.

I remember my grandmother using hazelnuts in her holiday baking, though I was not able to find any of her recipes.  So I did a search, ended up combining several recipes, and came up with my own, so am giving no credit for this recipe.  I will still be working on perfection, but the taste is so good, perhaps looks don't always count.

I ordered both hazelnut flour/meal and whole hazelnuts.  I made two layers of cake.  I halved the recipe and made one layer with whole hazelnuts that I ground and one layer using the the hazelnut meal/flour.  The whole hazelnuts that I ground up made a much lighter layer.  The meal/flour layer seemed a little more "sticky" and dense.  I baked each batter in a 9 inch round cake pan.  In retrospect, I would have used 3 cake pans instead of 2...sigh...you get the picture.  Because of wanting the batter to be separate, I forged ahead.

I decided to add a layer of apricot jam to the top of each layer.  I then added a spread of chocolate ganache between the layers, on top and down the sides.  I had a little trouble controlling the ganache, getting it to the right consistency.  It is 80 degrees today in Florida, the air conditioning is on.  The cake now sits in the refrigerator.  The ganache is stiffening.  sigh.  Still, it really does taste great.  Of course, a small glass of Frangelico goes nicely with it also.



Hazelnut Torte

2 cups hazelnuts, ground
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons flour
8 eggs

Line the bottom of 3 round 9" cake pans with parchment paper.  Butter and flour the pans including the parchment paper on the bottoms.  Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

In food processor, blend the hazelnuts, sugar, flour and baking powder until the nuts are finely ground into a powder-like consistency and until everything is blended well.

Add 8 eggs and process well.

Pour into the cake pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove the cake layers to a cooling rack.

Ganache Frosting

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1/2 pound finely chopped semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a small saucepan, bring the cream, sugar and corn syrup to a boil over low moderate heat, whisking until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is melted.  Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

After the ganache has cooled and slightly thickened, spread over the first layer of cake and continue adding the layers.  Spread the frosting on top and over the sides of the cake.

In the photo above, the hazelnut meal/flour is the bottom layer and the hazelnuts that I ground are in the top layer.  Either would work.  I am so happy that Cathy offers such wonderful treats in her store.  While shopping there, please be sure to pick up some of her Bavarian Roasted nuts.  I can definitely cheer for the almonds!!!

Now here is the good news!  Cathy at Wives with Knives has graciously offered a giveaway of a bag of her wonderful cinnamon almonds and a bag of hazelnut flour/meal.  All you have to do is run over to her store and come back here and leave a comment and tell me what you like best from her Bavarian Nut Store, and you will be entered. This giveaway will close at 5 p.m. EST on Friday, December 14.  This will give Cathy time to mail your treats before Christmas.  Hurry on over now to The Bavarian Nut Company. 

The Bavarian Nut Company


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spice up the Garbanzo beans



Several times in the last few years, while dining in southern France, an appetizer has been placed on the table as soon as we arrive.  It happened again on this last trip, and this time I decided I needed to make this at home to go with afternoon cocktails.

It is so simple, so messy, but so darn good, and possibly a little healthy?  These little morsels are positively additive.  Absolutely love the taste!!

So my simple recipe is this:  Empty a can of garbanzo beans or chick peas.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Pat the beans dry and add a small amount of olive oil.  Then add curry.  Judge by the color and taste as to how much you want to add.  I added simple curry powder and then some red curry which has a little more kick.  Mix together, chill and serve in a small bowl.  Toothpicks won't work, so simply use fingers and napkins.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

La Salle à Manger in Provence

It was October 31.  Provence was having a cool spell with rain.  The Trout and I were looking for a wonderful place for lunch.  We came upon the village of Flayosc.  A few restaurants were open, but we liked what we saw through the window and the menu which was posted outside this little restaurant.   We closed our umbrellas and entered a very charming room.


We were immediately greeted by the host of Restaurant "La Salle à Manger," Ronald Abbink.  In perfect English, he welcomed us and seated us by the window.  Robert and his wife, the chef, Liesbeth,  came from Holland and today was the 11th anniversary of opening this restaurant.

We were served amuse buche which was a warm strip of beef wrapped around a sage leave.  Outstanding.  Eaten so quickly, no photo.

Ordering was difficult because we wanted it all.  But, I have to say, the first course was the most outstanding we have ever experience.


What you see above is an absolutely delicious mushroom soup.  First he brought out a hot bowl with hot sauteed mushrooms, a slice of foie gras and a spoonful of marscapone cheese.  Then the magic.  He brought out a clear glass teapot with boiling hot beef broth which he poured over the bowl contents.  Absolutely delicious!  As the foie gras and marscapone melted, it added a delicious "fat" to the soup.  This, by far, has been one of the most outstanding presentations ever.


In the foreground you see The Trout's duck breast with confit in a red wine, grape and fig sauce.  This was accompanied with potatoes baked with a cheese, perhaps like Comte.  Absolutely delicious!


My main course was monk fish on a bed of lentils with a mushroom cream sauce.  Absolutely delicious!  Love French lentils and brought some home with me on this trip.

Now you are thinking, how could these people possibly eat dessert.  Well, when in France, it is really possible.


The Trout had a beautiful slate plate of different cheese from France.  Quite often you will have a choice; cheese or dessert.  Well, if you know me at all, it has to be dessert!


Oh yes, a most perfect poached pear partially wrapped in baked pastry along with a dipper of pear sorbet.  Absolutely delicious, but I think I have said this once or twice before on this post.

We enjoyed a glass of red wine each with this meal as we had miles to go before we got back "home."  This was such a outstanding meal with the most wonderful and friendly people who own this restaurant.  Since the day was rainy and we were the only guests this day, even the chef came out of the kitchen to welcome us and we were able to thank her personally for a perfect meal.


Quite honestly, this is the main reason we love France so much.  The food and the wonderful people we meet.  This will forever remain as a most memorable meal.  I do hope, in your travels to France, you will look for the village of Flayosc in Provence and Restaurant "La Salle à Manger" at 9 Place de la République.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Moules and Frites

I think I can honestly say, if I were fortunate enough to select my "last meal," I would choose Moules and Frites.  I ate them in the small town of Vence in Provence just last month.  I ate them another time on our 3 week trip.

Moules and Frites in a restaurant in Vence, Provence


I have eaten them  twice since coming home; the last time being tonight.  I absolutely love them.



We have tried several recipes in the past, but we sort of made up our own which works great for us.  This is what we do.

Moules and Frites

Oven-Bakes Fries

4-5 potatoes, Yukon gold or russets, cut into 1/2 inch sticks with skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut potatoes into 1/2" sticks and soak in cold water for 5-10 minutes.

Remove from water and place in large pot with cold water, cover and put over high heat until water begins to simmer.  Cook potatoes for 2-3 minutes or until almost cooked through.  Do not overcook.  Drain and place on paper towels to drain.

Put olive oil on a baking sheet, add potatoes and toss with hands until the potatoes are covered.  Can add more olive oil if necessary.  Spread out evenly on baking sheet and salt and pepper.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until fries are crispy and light brown.  Remove from oven, salt and pepper more to taste.  Serve immediately.

Mussels

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large shallots, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
several shakes of red pepper flakes
3/4 cups white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds cleaned and de-bearded mussels
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped.
salt and pepper

Heat butter and oil in large cooking pot (Dutch oven) over medium high heat.  Add minced shallots, garlic, and pepper flakes, and stir frequently until soft.

Add white wine and bring to boil.  Add cream and add mussels to pot and cover with lid.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until mussels open.  Discard any mussels that do not open.  Stir in chopped parsley and season to taste.  Serve immediately.  Dip crusty bread into the broth or simply eat it with a spoon.  So delicious.

In November 2001, The Trout and I had our first trip to Paris.  We found a cozy restaurant one evening and sat at a table  for dinner.  As often happens in a foreign country, the best entertainment comes from the table beside you.  More than once we have entered into conversations with fellow diners.  But, this evening, no conversation was exchanged, but we learned the correct way to eat mussels.

A middle-aged gentlemen in a suit, with briefcase, sat down at a table for one.  Immediately we are thinking...he has just finished his day in the office and wants a nice bite to eat before going home.  We watch as he orders moules and frites.  Very carefully, he took his fork to grasp the first mussel out of the shell.  He then used that shell to pinch the rest of the mussels out of their shells.  So clever and so easy.  We have been eating our mussels like that ever since.  See photo below.


On the right I am holding the mussel and the left sided mussel is pinching it out of the shell.  I know I am really going over and beyond what many of you may want to know, but I just wanted to share what we learned one cold evening in a small bistro in Paris, many years ago.  My favorite meal......

Monday, November 26, 2012

Petit dejeuner at Angelina

Sometimes you just have to ask yourself, "why not?" and go for it.  It almost seemed illegal, but The Trout and I had a breakfast in Paris that we will not soon forget.

The studio were we renting in Paris was in the 1st arrondissement which was walking distance to the Tuileries, the Louvre, and so many other sites.  And, walking distance to Angelina, for the best pot of hot chocolate in the world!!!


The decor in Angelina's is so romantic and elegant, it almost makes you search the room for Marie Antoinette.  The waitresses are perfectly dressed in black and white and set your small tables very properly.  It was a 40 Euro breakfast, but so much fun.  A pot of thick, rich, hot chocolate, four pastries including croissants,  2 hard rolls with jam and butter and two large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.  And do you see that cup of beautiful white fluff in the front of the photo?  That is whipped cream, so stiff that the spoon stood upright in it.  This is added to the cup of hot chocolate.  You need to imagine the very best chocolate bar melted to the perfect temperature, poured into a cup and then you add that whipped cream to smooth it all out.  I mean...it was such a luxurious taste.

It was a Sunday morning and I was surprised to see all the young families coming in with their children for breakfast.  Hot chocolate is their specialty, but the coffee smelled delicious also.  Angelina also sells pastries and chocolates, a light lunch and they serve tea in the afternoon.  It is something you would not find in America, so you really need to see and enjoy.

 The restaurant was first opened in 1903 by an Austrian who wished to honor his daughter, Angelina.  It is located on Rue de Rivoli.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Planning our 2012 Trip to France

THE BAOUS OF ST. JEANNET


Trout is writing today about our travels this fall to France.

Schnitzel's knee problems precluded our usual spring trip to France, but once she gave me the go-ahead for a fall trip, I hit the computer to start planning.

First of all, finding flights.  We have been able to use frequent flyer miles for many of our trips thanks to credit card offers and earned points.  Many airlines offer 40,000 miles to take out their card with Chase, etc., and even up to 100,000 by British Air.  This sounded good but I did not realize that BA charges for a fuel charge on top of fees and taxes so a free flight with them costs close to $800+.  Still a savings over the usual $1000 ticket price.  I usually start looking as soon as I can, like a year in advance, I think, for the best selections.  What is nice about using miles is that you can cancel and redeposit the miles for a pretty cheap fee of $40+ a ticket.

I had close to 80,000 miles on AA, so that is where I went for flights which offered a good selection out of Tampa to JFK and then to CDG at 40,000 miles a ticket, a good price.  I had to buy a few miles but we still saved over $1,200 for two tickets.

Once we had our dates for mid October for 2 1/2 weeks, next was "gîte" (apartment) hunting.  We have rented over 14 gîtes over our trips to Italy and France and only twice (once really) were we disappointed in what we found.  What is nice about  a gîte is that you have your own space with a kitchen, bath, LR and BR, laundry, and privacy.  We go out for a fresh baguette in the morning for breakfast and usually eat in at night so this is handy.


I generally use Gîtes de France to search for a gîte.  They have 1000's that they have reviewed and rated (1-5 ears from low to high amenities) before listing on their pretty good web sites.  It is easy to confirm a gîte, get answers to questions, get contract copies by email, make payments via a PayPal like system with no fees and hassles like getting a bank wire or draft.  I have also used VRBO with success, French Connections, Chez Nous, etc.  I like to rent at least 3 star gîtes and/or those with good references from previous renters as found on their web pages or in SlowTrav where I have reviewed many of the gîtes we have rented and found those other travelers have liked.

It was pretty easy to find gîtes near Nice for our first week and Les Arcs for our second week, since it was the low season.  For a high season rental, I would book as early as possible for a good selection.  These are 7245 and g1915 in the Gîtes de France search system.  Check out www.les-trois-baous.com for 7245.  This means three pinnacles like that as shown above. It was about the nicest we have even rented.   We had 3 days at the end of trip in Paris and I found a studio (meaning tiny) in a great location through www.paris-rent.fr.  We paid $529 and $364 for the gîtes for a full week each (low season) and $307 for 3 nights in Paris.

The living room of the first gîte.

Our little home for the second week.

Now that we have our flights and housing, we needed a car.  I have pretty much always used Auto Europe as a broker for a rental with no problems and good prices.   Again, start early and check often for price changes and get on their e mail list for offers.  We paid $286 for a compact for 12 days, I believe.  $80 for gas for the 2 weeks, $25 for extended damage insurance  and $60 for an emergency medical policy through American Express was in addition to the car rental.

When we did our first trip to France, I rented the car at CDG and did the nerve wracking drive out of Paris to Burgundy/Provence.  I got smart and found out about the great train service in France so we took the bullet TGV train from Avignon straight into CDG and our flight home.

Now we look for train connections out of CDG to wherever we want to end up and then back for our time in Paris or flight home.  Look into a great article at Parisbytrain.com/tgv-tickets/ for great advise on how to book tickets for the trains and also for the Paris Metro, RER trains from CDG downtown, etc.

You can only book a train no more than 90 days out, so on the 89th day at 4pm (remember France is 8 hours ahead of mountain time making it 12am there), I was at the Anaconda, Montana library to use their computers to bring up the reservation site.  Bingo, great prices of 30E per ticket going.  Two weeks later, I did it again for the train back to Paris and paid 40E each.  A month later or more, I would have paid 3-4 times those prices.  You may have to pay a bit more for a train out of CDG, but it is worth I think rather than taking an RER train downtown to Gare de Lyon.

The time and dollar savings but less chance of a nervous breakdown by not driving is substantial.   From Paris to Nice would have taken 9 hours (933K) and we would have paid and estimated 106E for gas and 72E in tolls each way.  Close to 400E vs 140E for the train.

If you plan on spending any time in Paris, you must learn the metro system.  There is a metro stop within 20 minutes of any place in Paris, I was told, and it is easy and fun to get from A to B and back.


All of this takes a fair amount of computer time to research and book ( I love the Fodor's site for posing questions of other travelers and finding ideas for touring,) but highly satisfying when we look back on the sites we saw, wonderful meals, getting around safely and finding nice lodging  as cheaply as I  make it and meeting the great people of France and fellow travelers.  We would not give back a second of the great times we have experienced in Europe.  Next year we are taking a break but look out 2014!!!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our first meal in France


Our first great meal in France was in the village of Fayence.  We had made reservations at La Table d'Yves.  The weather was just about perfect, so we ate outdoors on October 20.  After a long flight, one night in a B and B that was nice but unremarkable, we picked up our rented car and drove to this lovely village.  The restaurant sits outside of town and from where we sat outside, we had a beautiful view.


The amuse buche, which means to tickle the palate, was beautiful.  Parmesan sablets, palmatiers with tapanade and tomato confit.   Tickle it did, indeed!!

I did not take a picture of the cauliflower soup with truffles and truffle oil because....well, it was so good, my spoon never rested.


My first course was pear and blue cheese in fillo dough.  It was very good, though the blue cheese was quite strong.  Never fear, it was eaten.


We both had guinea hen breast with a mushroom and chestnut stuffing.  It was very good.  Note the unusual way of cutting and serving the guinea.  The gravy was delightful.  For me, the stuffing was a little too sweet, but loved the chestnut crunch.


What could possibly pass for dessert?  You see, quite often when you order the plat du jour, it comes with an appetizer, main course and then dessert.  This restaurant added a lot of other little treats.  So what you see above is not really just your traditional creme brulee.  You see, it has a pink cast to it because it is flavored with violets.  And yes, I really, really enjoyed it.


When you order coffee in a nice restaurant, which is only served after the meal is complete, you usually get a treat with it.  What you see above is what I would describe as vanilla pudding with cherry jello in the glass, rose-flavored marshmallows (handmade) and an small almond cake with a cherry.  It was quite the topper to a great meal.


Since this was the noon hour and we had much more driving to do, we each had only one glass of wine.  Here, The Trout, is sending cheers to all.  We arrived safely in a country we love and are ready to eat and drink our way through almost 3 weeks of fun.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

An American Cemetery in France

Perfectly pristine and cared for.  We came across this American Cemetery in Draguignan, France.  The weather was not good this day.  It was slightly misting, but would not stop us from a quiet walk through an American Cemetery in France.  





"The site of the Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial in France was selected because of its historic location along the route of the U.S. Seventh Army's drive up the Rhone Valley. It was established on August 19, 1944 after the Seventh Army's surprise landing in southern France. 

On 12.5 acres at the foot of a hill clad with the characteristic cypresses, olive trees, and oleanders of southern France, rest 860 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the liberation of southern France in August 1944. Their headstones are arranged in straight lines, divided into four plots, and grouped about an oval pool. At each end of the cemetery is a small garden. On the hillside overlooking the cemetery is the chapel with its wealth of decorative mosaic and large sculptured figures. Between the chapel and the burial area, a bronze relief map recalls military operations in the region. On the retaining wall of the terrace, 294 names of the missing are inscribed. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified." 




Not only Veteran's Day, but let us remember every day and never forget.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Little French Gougères

When I saw my friend, Chris, post these delectable morsels on her blog The Cafe Sucre Farine, I knew I had to try them.  She had been cooking and baking French for a few days in preparation for her week, starting today, at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.  Be sure you flip over to her blog and read all about it, because she will be blogging all week about her journey.

I had all the ingredients on hand for the gougères except for the Gruyere cheese.  After a quick trip to the grocer, these little puffs were ready for afternoon cocktails.  I enjoy making the pâte à choux dough because it is simple and so versatile.  Cut open and stuff with vanilla custard, ice cream or make them more savory stuffed with ham salad or tuna or crab salad.  But a simple, airy puff with delicious cheese in the dough is perfect for a glass of wine or an afternoon martini.



If you don't know, Chris, run over there right now and copy her recipe.  I followed it exactly and I want you to be sure to bookmark it as she spends her week in school, cooking French.

Chris was baking these in preparation for her French cooking class this week.  I was baking them in preparation for our trip to France which starts on Thursday.  À bientôt.  We'll be back after election day.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hankie or no hankie

While in my closet the other day, I came upon a small box that made me smile.  I knew exactly what was in the box though I had not opened it in several years.  The memories go back to the 1950's.

When I was growing up, it was traditional to be recognized on your birthday not only by family members, but friends of my parents.  Pretty typical was a card with an enclosed handkerchief.  Sometimes just a handkerchief without a card.  I do not know when or why this started, but I do remember elderly ladies (about my age now) would always carry a handkerchief when in public.  Perhaps to stifle a sniffle, catch an unexpected tear, or just to be holding onto something.

I remember my mother-in-law would always have a handkerchief in her hand when she was expecting visitors.  My grandmother would spend a lot of time crocheting edging onto a linen handkerchief for gifts.  I feel fortunate I still have several of those.

So it was no surprise when I opened this box and found 35 memories from my childhood.  In "those" days, Kleenex had not been invented yet.  If they had, they certainly didn't make it to small town Iowa.  I honestly do not know where I would even go today to find a store that carried ladies handkerchiefs.  Of course, it is very easy to find men's handkerchiefs.  It also is pretty typical for a man to carry a cloth handkerchief in his back pocket.  So what happened to the ladies?



I remember being in Brussels, Belgium, many years ago, on a search for Belgium lace on beautiful handkerchiefs.  I bought three at the time.  One for me and one for each of my daughters.  I remember the first daughter that got married carried this handkerchief on her wedding day.  It was so hot for this outside wedding, she handed it to the minister to wipe his brow and it was gone forever.  I do not know if my other daughter still has hers, but I do know that mine also disappeared somewhere.  sigh....

The females I know stuff their pockets with those disgusting tissues that always seem to be forgotten in pockets and go through the laundry and end up making a mess in the dryer.  I think I would actually enjoy getting out my iron and giving these beautiful little memories a quick press after going through the washing machine.  Now the decision.  Should I start carrying these little treasures or just stay with the Kleenex?  What would you do or what do you use for those unexpected tears?

And yes, I honestly do believe that all 35 of these handkerchiefs have never been washed or used.  They have permanent creases which  60 years can do to anyone.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tuscan Shrimp and White Beans

We found another shrimp recipe that we like a lot.  I love white beans such as Cannelloni, so this combination worked out just fine.  We did halve the recipe for the two of us, but next time I think I will not because I am sure the leftovers would taste just as good.


Tuscan Shrimp with White Beans
recipe courtesy of Michael Chiarello

3 cups canned Cannelloni beans
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small serrano chile, thinly slice, or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced fresh tomato, canned or fresh
1 cup whole basil leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Drain the beans over a bowl and reserve the liquid.  Put the while beans in a large skillet with just enough of their liquid to moisten them.  Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and bring the beans to a low simmer.  Keep them warm while you prepare the shrimp.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the shrimp, season with salt and cook for 1 minute, tossing frequently.  Remove the shrimp with tongs to a bowl.  Add the garlic to the pan and saute until the garlic browns.  Add the chile or chili flakes and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomato and basil and stir briefly.  Then add the lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 1 minute and then stir in the shrimp.  Toss well and cook briefly to reheat the shrimp.

Spoon the white beans on a platter for individual plates.  Drizzle with olive oil and top with the shrimp.  Serve warm.  Serves 4


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Home Again and Craving Shrimp Cakes


Long time no posting and since I have gotten out of the rhythm of doing it regularly, I am now overwhelmed at how confusing the whole process can be.  This is not good.  I also think the relationship between the camera and the computer might not be going as smoothly as it should.   I will go on and keep cool about it all.

We are back home in Florida after a good summer out West and visiting with our children.  In three months, we drove 12,000 miles.  Yes, that number is right.  It turns out to be 3000 miles each way and 6000 miles while we were in Montana.  Nothing out there is "nearby".

We spent most of 3 months in our travel trailer parked in the prettiest place in Montana, with the greatest of friends right next door.  It was a test--if we could do it and if we would like it.  With the good help of another Montana friend, we had a new mattress made for the bed in the trailer and that solved a lot of problems.

We made it through a small hail storm, (think tin can), through a lot of heat, (think A/C), and toward the end if was getting a little cold at night, (think space heater and trailer furnace).  And, we are still talking to each other because with the slide-out, we really did have quite a bit of room.  I do enjoy a shower without hitting my elbows though.  The trailer is now being stored in Montana for our return.  We will be back.

So, after getting home  and restocking the refrigerator, one of the first places we went was to our local fish store.  We like to get the shrimp fresh (I know, they probably were frozen at some point) and enjoyed eating these shrimp cakes.

In Montana we had dinner with friends at a great restaurant in Twin Bridges.  The Trout had shrimp cakes and I started thinking about how we could fix this at home.  Then, within a week, Framed Cooks posted her recipe for shrimp cakes.  She used raw shrimp and another recipe I found used cooked shrimp.  Hmmm..which to choose.  We both voiced our opinions and decided that the cooked shrimp recipe might be too "tough" whereas the raw shrimp might be just right.  I think we chose the right recipe, because they were excellent.  Very easy also.  We will make this recipe again and will substitute crab meat for the shrimp someday.

Along side we had just a few scallops sauteed in butter and garlic and our favorite salad dressing, Pacific Rim, on Romaine lettuce.  We kept some of the dressing aside to drizzle on the shrimp cakes and it was perfect.

Crispy Shrimp Cakes
  from Framed Cooks

1 pound finely chopped peeled and deveined shrimp
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tablespoon chives (we also added some tarragon since it was growing out of control when we got back)
1 tablespoon horseradish
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil and form into patties.  Will makes 6-8 patties.  They will be soft and loose, but chill for 30 minutes on a plate in the refrigerator and they will be just fine.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add patties to skillet (transfer from plate to skillet with a spatula)  Easy.

Fry each side until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side.

I forgot to add that we simply put the raw shrimp into the small 3 cup food processor we have and it only took about 8 or 9 pulses and the consistency was perfect.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Montana Moose



We were thrilled to see our first moose of the season.  We were driving on the highway when a large black object ran across the road.  This is exciting for people who grew up in the Midwest, lived in northern Wisconsin and now in Florida.  I can count on one hand how many of these majestic and dangerous animals we have seen.

We were guessing that a baby was nearby, but did not see it.  Be sure to click on the photo to get a closer view.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writing from Montana

It is not difficult to tell you where we have been.  We are still in Montana.  Hot days and cool nights.  Fishing is only so-so this year.  We have been busy though.

Last year we spent just over one month in the travel trailer.  This year, a year older and spending almost three months in the 26 footer, we decided a new mattress was in order.  It really has made a difference and we sleep a lot better.

The antics we went through to bring it to the trailer including borrowing a pickup, heading to Butte, loading up and bringing it back to the trailer, about 140 miles round trip, loading the old mattress on the truck and then dropping it off at a thrift store who wanted it...perhaps to even sell it as a  large dog bed.  Can you imagine!!!!

The Trout has been fishing and the last couple of days joined by a friend, so I was even able to use the car and drive the 80+ miles round trip to the grocery store.  Nothing real convenient, but slow paced is good.

Woke up to lots of smoke this morning.  The car was covered with ashes and burnt pine needles.  Must be from the fire in the Bitteroot Valley to our west.  It just doesn't smell good and people with severe allergies or lung problems are always warned to stay inside.  Such a difference up here in the Northwest compared to what is happening in New Orleans and that area.

Found out Florida just got a lot of rain, which is so much better than the strong winds, hurricane and tornadoes that accompany those storms.  Let all the stormy weather pass before we get home again.

No exact date as to when we are heading back east and south.  Going to visit our daughter in Wisconsin and then our other daughter who lived in Ohio, has moved to Western North Carolina, so we will stop there to see the mountains where she is living.  We do want to get home early enough so that we can settle better heading to France in mid October.  No roots grow under our feet.  Each birthday tells us that we need to get our traveling in before it becomes more difficult for us.  Besides, we are still enjoying Europe so very much.

My Kindle has been smoking since I downloaded 35 books before coming out here.  Getting a lot of reading done and we do have satellite TV which has been great as we did enjoy watching the Olympics.  It is getting much darker earlier at night and we really have noticed the change in weather.

Lots of people have been asking how we are, so thought I would just send off a short posting.  I still check a lot of blogs when the Internet is cooperating.  Just not as slick as cable out here.

Hope to be back to regular blogging after the middle of November.  Maybe then we can grow a few roots.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fly casting lessons

I can't really remember how long ago it was...3 years, I think.  It was a day spent searching out new blogs when I came upon one named Knitting Mania.  When I found out that Pat and Chris were building their dream home in Montana, I knew I had to read further.  Yes, it was within miles of where we spent each summer.  Long story short, we have become great friends.  Though we only see each other in the summer, we do correspond during the rest of the year.

So last night we were invited to dinner at their beautiful home.  One small request was that the trout give them some fly fishing lessons.  He was more than happy to teach his beloved sport of fly casting to Chris and Pat.


Chris actually caught on quite quickly.....


As did Pat.



The Trout left the rod behind so that they can practice, and in a couple of weeks, they will come over to our modest travel trailer for dinner and a walk down the stream.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A delightful B&B in Medora, North Dakota

We have slowly shuffled our way from Florida to North Carolina, to Ohio, to Wisconsin and then  we spent a night at a delightful B&B in Medora, North Dakota, overlooking Teddy Roosevelt National Park and the National Grasslands.  Eagle Ridge Lodge is one perfect, unexpected place.



Some 13 years ago, Paul and Joanne built their dream house and B and B and have been busy ever since.  The live on the edge of a crater view of the badlands..  The scene changes daily as the sun travels over the sky.  When full to capacity,  they can easily house 23 people.  Their home is a retreat for weary travelers, a gathering place for a weekend of quilting or knitting or conferences.  Breakfast and dinner are served and I understand lunch can also be available.

A little off the beaten path, but well worth the trip.  Eagle Ridge Lodge is where you can meet other travelers and share stories and laughs.  It was a beautiful change for us since we usually are rushing to get West.  Paul told us at breakfast, which was a very tasty, fluffy, baked French toast with homemade caramel syrup, a slice of ham and fresh pineapple and blueberries, that originally the land they built on was an Indian ceremonial ground.  It was not just us...everyone seems to have immediate calm when they stepped upon this land.  It wasn't until breakfast that someone at our table mentioned that there are no televisions in the B&B.  Honestly had not even missed them at all.








Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's a Good Day

Gulf of Mexico
Siesta Key 2012

There has been a lot of concern from my blogging friends about The Trout.  Things are going quite well.  After surgery, the surgeon changed his mind about keeping him in the hospital overnight, so I got to bring him home.  He has been resting and doing quite well pain-wise.  It will be a couple of weeks until the staples are removed and then we can start thinking about heading out of Florida for the summer.

Both of us thank all of you for your good thoughts, prayers.  It certainly looks like the surgery was successful and we are grateful.