Love My Blackstone Griddle

Blackstone griddle

“Cooking is a philosophy; it’s not a recipe.” — Marco Pierre White

Marco Pierre White

I thought I would do something a little different. My fiancé bought me a new toy. Welcome to hillbilly intro to cooking. It’s simple but tasty. The key ingredient is the Blackstone griddle. The flat top is made of cold-rolled steel. This design and material allows for even heat distribution and controlled cooking across the whole griddle.

Stir fry vegetables and meat.

Today is a stir fry vegetable with crawfish tails and andouille sausage. For the vegetables I used cabbage, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, minced garlic, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. I cooked everything in olive oil.

Stir fry

I put some olive oil on the griddle and then I added the meat and cooked for about 5 minutes, then I added more olive oil and put the vegetables on the griddle and mixed together and stir fried.

Before I started cooking I put 2 packages of ramen noodles in a bowl, covered with cold water and added bullion and soaked for 20 minutes. When vegetables were about half done, I drained the water, and h CC I added noodles to the vegetables and meat, then I mixed thoroughly and stir fried until noodles were crispy.

Finished

Believe it or not this is quite tasty. Thanks for reading. Remember to be kind to each other and spread the love!

Autumn Has Arrived

Silver Mines Recreation Area

“It’s the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves.!”Winnie the Pooh; Pooh’s Grand Adventure

Here in Missouri, autumn arrived with cooler temperatures and rain showers. Leaves have begun turning and some dropping to the ground. Some persimmons have started to ripen. Stores have begun stocking apple cider and caramel apples. It’s starting to look a lot like autumn.

As a child I loved raking leaves. I would make huge piles and run and jump into them. I managed to entertain myself for hours. My father tricked me into biting into a green persimmon. OMG! I didn’t think I would ever be able to spit again. Please don’t try that. Take my word for it. Soon the sky will be filled with the sounds of geese headed south for the winter.

Big River

Stores have already begun stocking Christmas decorations and it isn’t even October yet. Halloween will soon be upon us. I love Halloween. There was a time I would be planning a Halloween party. I used to have a hayride followed by a bonfire, chili and karaoke. Here in Missouri deer hunters will head to the woods and start scouting the woods for deer sign. Bow season is already happening. It won’t be long and there will be frost on the pumpkin.

This is the time of year that people start reflecting back on the year and see the things they have to be thankful for. Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Families and friends will gather together and celebrate. I enjoy cooking the Thanksgiving dinner. I have a Dutch Oven big enough to cook a thirteen-pound turkey in, it weighs 45 pounds. There is nothing better tasting than a turkey cooked in a Dutch Oven. I also cook the pies, dressing and other vittles in the Dutch Ovens. I have a fairly large assortment of them.

left to right- dressing, turkey, and sweet tater pie

It also begins the bonfire season. I do love me a good bonfire. I love to watch the flames dance and the smell of wood smoke. I usually have three or four fires a week. I love to camp this time of year also and I think the fishing is better than it is any other time of year. I do about 80% of the cooking outside so I enjoy the cooler temperatures.

I love a bonfire, how about you?
My cook area plus I have a Blackstone griddle.
Cooking a pot of beans

To those like me who enjoy the fall, I say Happy Fall to you! May your refrigerator be full of apple cider, your cupboard filled with caramel apples, and you have plenty of wood for the fire. This is also the time of year when a big bowl of chili tastes best. Be kind to one another and spread the love.

The Four Seasons/ What’s Your Favorite?

Trees are beginning to change on the Big River

The debate over the favorite season rages on. I looked at several polls and studies, but I didn’t find a clear winner. What say you?

Dogwoods bloom to usher in the spring.

A total of 40 states have picked spring as their favorite season. The spring weather and the countryside adorned with the blossoms of dogwood, redbud and many other flowering trees. The days are longer, and Americans begin to venture outside and dust off their barbecue pits. The gardeners begin preparing the ground for planting and the grass begins to green up.

With the summer the campers venture out.

A survey of 2,000 Americans revealed that they don’t want summer to end. Barbecue season goes into full swing, and they enjoy the warm weather. They begin venturing to the beach, rivers and lakes to enjoy water activities like boating, swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. They bring their campers out and start spending the weekends in state parks and campgrounds. Americans begin taking summer vacations and traveling. One survey revealed that 40% of Americans say summer is their favorite season.

Fall colors begin showing up on the Big River

Another survey says that 29% of Americans pick fall as their season of choice. The changing of leaf colors, cooler temperatures and the holidays may be the reason for this. With Halloween comes bonfires and hayrides. Then Thanksgiving brings family gatherings and good food. It’s a time when people reflect on the things, they have to be thankful for. The air begins to have a chill in it and chili, stews and soups become more popular at the dinner time.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Only 11% of Americans consider Winter their favorite season. Alaska and Vermont are the only two states that winter is the best season. Hot chocolate becomes quite popular. Americans enjoy sitting in front of the fireplace watching as the flames dance within. Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling have become quite popular. Snow “bunnies” rejoice at the sight of fresh fallen snow.

Each season has its pros and cons, and it depends on the likes and dislikes of each individual. Personally fall is my favorite season. Enjoy your favorite season.

My Love for Fly Fishing

“If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”

Vincent Van Gogh

One reason I have a great love for fly fishing, is because when fly fishing one is surrounded by the beauty of nature. One has to seek out a body of water where fish live. You aren’t going to find them in a shopping mall. No, one has to venture to a lake, stream or a river.

When fly fishing, the angler ties a fly on the end of a monofiliment line and casts into places he/she think fish may be holding. The monofiliment line is tied onto a heavier line which helps to cast the fly. When fly fishing the angler tries to present the fly, which looks like an insect, in such a way, that the fish thinks it is real and takes the bait. I find fly fishing to be a lot more fun than using a spinning outfit. For one reason, even when you aren’t catching anything, you are still busy casting. It depends on an angler’s personal taste as to what they prefer.

I prefer a river or stream where I wade into the water presenting my flies to the fish, hoping to entice a fish into feeding on my fly. My presentation has to mimic the real bait. It really is a challenge and to me that equals excitement. I also find it relaxing and helps me to clear my mind and connect with nature.

My fly fishing buddy David Tripp fishing on the Big River in Missouri
The prize

Forty-five minutes of fly fishing at Bennett Spring in Missouri
Bennett Spring in Missouri, one of Missouri’s four trout parks
Caught this bass at Giessing Lake located in Engler Park in Farmington, MO

Some anglers like fly fishing and some don’t, for different reasons. As for me I love being surrounded by nature and the peace it brings. With the first cast I can feel the stress caused by everyday life begin to melt away and my mind leaves that part of life behind and begins to focus on the healing powers of nature. After a day of fly fishing, I leave the water recharged and feeling alive. It is a great feeling.

The Magic of a Bonfire

“We dare not talk of the darkness for fear it will infect us. We dare not talk of the fire, for fear it will destroy us. And so we live in the half-light. Like our mothers before us. Come to the fire. Feel it warm your skin. Come to the fire. Feel it burn in your belly. Shine out through your eyes. Come dance in the fire. Let it fuel your prayers.

Lucy H. Pearce

Bonfire, is actually derived from Middle English “bonefire”, literally a fire of bones. Bonfires can be enjoyed throughout the year however autumn seems to be the most popular time of the year to enjoy them. Associated with bonfires is chili, hayrides, Halloween celebrations, singing and scary stories. Smores and marshmallows are a popular food staple around the fire.

In southern Louisiana bonfires are lit along the Mississippi River levees to provide light for Papa Noel to navigate along the river in his pirogue that is pulled by 8 alligators. In Texas a long-time tradition is the Aggie Bonfire. The students of Texas A&M University build a bonfire before their annual game against the University of Texas and dates back to 1909.

Bonfires are a good place for friends to come together and enjoy one another’s company. It’s a place where scary stories are told especially at Halloween parties and hayrides. The dancing flames easily mesmerize those who dare to look into the flames. Several pounds of hotdogs are consumed, and chili is usually found. It is a place to relax, slow down and enjoy life.

I hope you enjoyed my post and remember to be kind to one another and spread the love. Thanks for taking the time to read it. In the comments, please share with us the best bonfire memories in your life.

The Approach of Autumn

Soon autumn will be upon us. The air will be laced with the aroma of burning wood as good friends and lovers sit around a bonfire. The aroma of pumpkin spice will fill homes. It’s a time when you grab the one you love and embrace each other as you watch the dancing flames of the fire.

It’s the time of year when you reflect on the events of the summer and give thanks for all you have. Kitchens come alive as families begin canning the bounty of their gardens. Their reward for their hard work.

It’s the time of year to dust off the chili pot and dig out your chili recipes. Apple cider and apple pies are abundant. The nights become cooler and a chill is in the air.

Soon the countryside will display the beauty of the changing leaves. Mother Nature begins preparing Mother Earth for the coming of winter.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The beautiful colored leaves and crisp autumn mornings wake my soul and I feel more alive this time of year than any other time of year. I am thankful that I have been blessed with the joy of another autumn.

This weekend we started our celebration of fall. Friends, bonfire, and homemade chili. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Be kind to one another and spread the love!

My Take on Photography

“Every artist has a central story to tell, and the and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.”

Gregory Crewdson

Photography is an art, and the photographer is the artist. There are those that will say this isn’t true however I have to disagree. Both must have a passion for what they do, along with creativity and a good imagination. A photographer only has one time to snap a photo then that moment is gone forever and can’t be recreated.

When l am framing a shot, I examine every possible angle I can shoot it from, then I imagine what I want it to look like. It requires an eye for detail, patience and flexibility. Light is a key composition and can greatly affect the photo. In a studio one can use artificial light but in nature one must learn to use what light is available.

When I take a picture, the subject must excite me. I sell my photographs and I have to rely on people buying them. If I’m not excited, I can’t expect the viewer to be excited. I have to capture the viewers’ attention and hope they buy it.

In Bruce Barnbaum’s book The Art of Photography Mr Barnbaum lists 14 elements of composition. They are light, color, contrast and tone, line, form, pattern, balance, movement, positive and negative space, texture, camera position, focal length, depth of field and shutter speed. There is so much more involved than point and shoot.

I am basically a landscape photographer. I love nature and am mesmerized by a river. Sunrises and sunsets always grab my attention. It never seems to fail that I see the best ones when I am driving down the road. They can be short lived, and the photographer has to act quickly. When I go hiking, I always have my camera with me. Quite frankly I suck at portraits, and I am in awe of those who have mastered it. Wedding photographers I think have the hardest job. It takes a lot of patience and creativity with some imagination. I am in awe of them.

There was only about 10 minutes between these two photos, and it changed quickly. I took them in Silver Mines Recreation area. This is the St. Francis River that meanders through the park. It is located between Ironton and Fredericktown, Mo. Kayakers love this area and have kayak races here in the spring when the water is up. When the water level is up the kayakers head for the river.

I hope I haven’t bored you with my photos. In closing I am going to post a few more photos I took when hiking at Silver Mines.

The first two were taken of the trail and the last one was a photo of what is left of the damn that was built when the old silver mine was in operation. Thanks for reading and remember to be kind to one another and spread the love.

Time

“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”

Bill Keane

As I have aged I have become more aware of time. None of us know just how much time we have left to travel the road of life.

I have also learned how important it is to focus on the present.

I have seen so many who have talked about the past only to remember the low times they have encountered instead of the high times. It’s called the past for a reason. That time is gone. It no longer exists and there is nothing you can do to change it. What’s done is done.

Some will argue that time spent on the future is time well spent. Maybe it is to some extent but really it’s a shot in the dark. We have no control over it and we have no idea what will happen. We have no idea if our plans will succeed. No matter how well we plan there is no guarantee.

Wouldn’t it be better to focus on the present? The past is gone, the future is tomorrow and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. We should focus on the present. Our actions and attitude can make it enjoyable or miserable. We are in control and it can be time well spent.

Right wrong or indifferent, I choose to spend time on the present. It’s a good time to be thankful and enjoy life. It’s a good time to enjoy life and be thankful and praise God for giving us another day to enjoy the present.

Life Is Like A River

St Francis River

On a recent visit to Silver Mines Recreation Area, I sat and watched the water of the river flowing under the bridge located in the park.

When we arrived at the park the water was up and running over the bridge I was sitting on, now watching the river run under the bridge. Like life the river has its lows and highs.

St Francis River

As I sat looking up river I watched as the river rolled past the rocks headed for its final destination. It rolled past the rocks so gracefully not letting it stop it or slow it down. These rocks could represent the obstacles in our life. We need to approach our obstacles in life like the river deals with the rocks. We need to learn to roll around them and leave them behind us like the river and be thankful they are behind us.

St Francis River

At the end of the rapids there are deeper pools of slow moving water. Those waters represent the slow, peaceful times in our life when we can relax and enjoy the peace in our lives. A time when we can reflect back on where we have been and what we have accomplished. A time to be thankful for surviving all the obstacles we have faced.

Shabby Chic Painted Rooster

Shabby Chic Painted Rooster

Today the city of Caledonia had its Blackberry Festival, and the little town was flooded with visitors from out of town. We decided to take some time and go check it out. While walking around the little village the Shabby Chic Painted Rooster was able to grab our attention and we decided to take a closer look inside.

The shop is known for their famous Fragrance Cookie and Tart Melts, and Warmers, Goat’s Milk Soap, Lotion, Hand Crafted Sweatshirts, Vintage Items and Home Decor. Hours: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Friday their hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m… They are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There was plenty to see and had a great selection of items for sale. You can reach them at 636-232-8509 and they are located at 129 S State Hwy 21, Caledonia, MO 63631. shabbychicpaintedrooster@yahoo.com