Friday, October 14, 2016

Secrets Maroma Beach Resort, Mexico

So we veered off course this year and let ourselves be talked into a new place to go for our annual birthday pilgrimage.

We generally head to Cancun this time of year for a little R&R but this year we had trouble booking our usual spot so let our tourist agent talk us into a new spot. Not a new resort, just a new spot. I was never sure why we were so tied to Playa Mujeres but now I have the answers. 

The resort was quite nice and the beach was better than what we are used to. We did not do a swim out room and housed ourselves on the third floor with an 'Ocean View'  which of course consisted of a sliver of blue water over a lot of resort.  All the rooms are pretty much situated to get such a  view.

After checking in we got the hard sell for more vacation time and possible upgrades payable over a lifetime of visits to Secrets Resorts. Annoying.

We settled in and looked around. They lacked the large meeting space with a live band and bar. That made the evenings very long of just searching for anything to do before the shows began and they didn't start till close to 9:45 pm.  There was usually a duo singing in the lobby with little to no people there.

Our first night we ate at the buffet but it was only fair to be honest. There isn't quite the variety of restaurants to choose from that we are used to.  Most of the days were spent lounging at the pools which were very nice but not a lot of activity. We are kind of used to something going on. A "name that tune" contest, or a bunch of drunken groomsmen at the bar...something, anything.  Very quiet.

The food was just OK. I mean it's usually just Ok with the rare, I gotta go back for that, exception. The Blackened Sea Bass was actually barely brown Mahi. The shrimp were a little tough. Steaks were good.  A lot more up selling. Wine, dining experience, everything. I missed the room snacks we usually get at the other place and the double bed sized lanai. Here that was only available to the first class guests. It was all just a little off. Nice people, nice staff.  Clean place...just a little off.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Girl Loves Her Meatloaf...

Finally back from the annual Mexican migration, I had to make the Birthday Girl her favorite dinner...meatloaf. For most of our 35 years together, I never made meatloaf but a few years back I surprised her and have been making it the last few years. Mashed turnips and green beans for my carb conscious wife are also the order of the day.

This year, as always, I used a pound of ground pork with a few pounds of ground beef. Sauteed onions and garlic with Italian bread crumbs, herbs and then liberally stuffed with cheese before baking and then slathering the traditional ketchup and brown sugar glaze over all.

Its always delicious comfort food and welcome after being gone for so long.

So much to do this weekend. Putting the pond up for the winter, prepping the garden beds and the last of the lawn care. I will have to mow at least one last time this weekend and cover the outdoor furniture. The last of summer is fleeting by and the trees are putting on their fall display. We had our first frost this morning so winter is knocking at the door.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Last BLT of the Season

As I sadly slice the last perfect tomato of the summer garden I reflect on the humble bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. I have selfishly enjoyed at least one a week since those juicy orbs turned fiery red as I cooked a few slices of bacon nearly every Saturday morning. Now I see my time nearly over, the rest of the not so perfect tomatoes will be roasted for soup.

A few short weeks ago, Serious Eats shared his BLT secret and I quickly adopted the technique as my own. After the bacon had rendered its smokey fat, he laid his sandwich bread down and toasted it golden in those heavenly drippings. It was life changing (and no doubt life taking if enjoyed too regularly).

Now I know what you all are thinking but my heart is fine and my cholesterol is lower than yours thanks to some amazing pharmaceuticals. I am not stupid and I drain 95% of the drippings out of the pan before laying 2 slices if Rotellas Twist bread into the hot skillet. Just enough to impart a heady crunch and the scent of bacon-y goodness to the sandwich.

Layered with mayo, crisp iceberg and that juicy red flavor bomb, I hear angels serenade. I have to confess that I have made these even without bacon, just the drippings. Almost a vegan experience except for the meat fat when I just crave that tomato and mayo combo with no bacon in sight (or on sale that week)

So there you have it, my confession of my weakest passion. The BLT, done my way.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Old school....SOS

I shopped the other day and the Budig's Beef Lunch meat caught my eye. I usually use it for Chipped Beef and Gravy or SOS as we called it. Regular dried beef has more salt than anyone needs and its pricey.

While most serve this over toast, I serve it over mashed potatoes. This is comfort food after all.

I happened to have a few quarts of frozen potatoes that I processed last year after Brenda's Dad brought in a 5 gallon bucket of freshly dug red skin spuds. Too much to eat, I froze half of them and they lost absolutely nothing in the translation.  I am sure y'all know how to make chipped beef, here is how I do it.

Chipped Beef and Gravy

3 packages Budig Beef Lunchmeat (way less sodium than dried beef.)
2 T butter
2 T flour
Milk, cream or skim. I use a little cream and skim.
Salt and pepper to taste but taste first. The meat is salty.

Saute the meat in the butter till it gets a little color, add the flour and mix well. cooking the flour a bit. Flood the pan with milk and allow to thicken. Season.  Serve over a mound of mashed potatoes or a piece of toast. 

The Colonel's Original Recipe?

This blog is mostly for me. I use it to bookmark recipes for now or later and this is one of them as the Chicago Tribune posted an article claiming to have an original copy of the recipe. I am archiving this for future reference.

Fried Chicken with 11 Herbs and Spices

2 cups flour
2/3 T salt
1/2 T dried thyme
1/2 T dried basil
1/3 T oregano
1 T celery salt
1 T black pepper
1 T dry mustard
4 T paprika
2 T Garlic salt
1 T ginger
3 T white pepper
1 c buttermilk
1 egg, beaten

Mix herbs and flour, set aside.
Mix egg and buttermilk, soak chicken in it for 20 minutes.
Remove chicken let excess drip off then coat in flour mix and allow to set for 20 minutes.
Fry 3 inches oil in a dutch oven at 350 turning once till medium golden brown 15-18 minutes. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Eating Omaha...Tussey's Casual Grill

Saturday night was a night for adventure. Mostly everyone was out of town, the big game came on at 6:30 and we were looking for somewhere new to eat.

It also happens to be restaurant week in Omaha so menus are posted and unusual spots are featured like this one in North Omaha just west of the Mormon Bridge. It feels like a highway cafe, very casual and the prices were moderate.

We both had the Restaurant week special which included choices from the appetizer, entree and dessert menu. Normally we are not big dessert fans but the price was right so...

We both ordered the same thing, a Black and Bleu flatiron steak with different sides. Mine,  grilled veggies and hers,  garlic mashed potatoes. Opposite night!  For the appetizer we had Short Rib Flatbread and Artichoke dip with crostini.  Both were delicious but the dip was under seasoned.

The steaks were cooked perfectly and generous portions. Then came dessert, we chose the Churros and the Bread Pudding in Whiskey sauce. That was a hit. The Churros and chocolate sauce were room temp but would have been better hot.  All in all the wait staff was attentive and pleasant.

Nice place, far away for us, at a decent price. Very casual, truck stop kind of feel.


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