The countdown continues….for tomorrow’s departure

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Really windy again.  A bit concerned about tomorrow’s drive.  High 78.  The local weatherman measures the level of wind by garbage can commentary.  Today, he said they would blow over, and they did!

STEPS:  9833
CLASSES:  1 water aerobics

Today was work, work, work!  We successfully emptied the refrigerator and freezer in the house and moved the contents to Joy.  George does wonders with getting things to fit. 

I emptied out my pantry in the house and filled up Joy’s.  I love this slide-out wonder.

Then, we wanted to clean, clean, clean so no bugs or critters would be tempted to make themselves at home while we are gone…..We pulled out the refrigerator and stove, and gave everything a good cleaning.  Shelves are now empty and washed down. 

We will set the A/C to kick on at about 85 degrees.  The things in the shed will get super hot this summer, so our living/dining room now has a bicycle in its midst.  The outdoor planters will be joining the bike.  We wouldn’t want them to blow over if/when we get high winds here this summer.

DINNER:  Not wanting to get out the pots and pans that I had already moved to Joy, we did a carry-out pizza for dinner.  It was pesto and cheese from a local place we’ve been wanting to try.  Not too bad, and we have some leftovers for breakfast one day this week.

Counting down to our road-trip departure!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very breezy.  High 74

STEPS:  16,247
CLASSES:  Chair yoga, 2 line-dancing, 1 water aerobics

A temperature of 70 always used to seem warm, but down here, especially in the wind, it seems chilly!  We were freezing in the pool so we only did one class of water aerobics. Then to the hot tub to warm up.

We went to the store to  stock up for our road trip.  I always keep a “back-up” box in the back-seat of the pick-up as my secondary pantry.  The bin is full of canned goods, pasta, beans, etc.  As it was overflowing, I had to add a second bin!

There is so much to do!  When we leave, we take almost everything with us.  I don’t leave any food as it would attract bugs.  I place all my spices in a plastic bin which fits perfectly under the oven in the Airstream.

Little by little, I am getting things packed.  We have to take clothes for all seasons, including winter. Thank goodness Joy, our Airstream, has good storage.

DINNER:  After about 2 hours of shucking 10 blue crabs, George gave me the crabmeat that made 3 small crab cakes.  A lot of work for a bit of food!  Sides were  broccoli and a salad.

Saying goodbye to 2 of my boyfriends!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  Cloudy.  High 74

STEPS:  14,045
CLASSES:  1 water aerobics

We will be leaving on Thursday, so today was my last pickleball game.  I ended on a high note – our team won at last.  I will take the paddle with me on the trip, in case there is a court somewhere I could play on.

Today, I bid farewell to two lover-boys that have sustained me during this Covid semi-quarantine.  This is the first time since I retired when we have been in one place for such a long period  These two guys helped me survive….

1)  Jacques Pepin, chef.  Since November, I have cooked one of his recipes almost every night from this cookbook.  The only ones I didn’t use are  from the dessert section and those savory dishes with ingredients I couldn’t find locally.  It is not a complete good-bye, as I jotted down some of his recipes that I will make while we are traveling.  Adieu, Jacques!

2)  Rick Steves, travel writer and tour guide.  Every Monday night, we have been watching one of his podcasts.  They are live programs in which he pieces together videos that he taped in the past.  He always eats and drinks wine throughout the program, ending the 2nd program one a bit loopy, after finishing off a bottle!    As with Jacques, it is not a complete goodbye as we will take some of his DVDs (thanks, Alexis) with us to watch on the road.  We often have electricity but no TV reception as we travel, so DVDs come in handy.

3)  George Reid, my faithful and loving husband.  I will NOT say good-bye to him!!!  We are the best traveling partners and we are looking forward to a nice spring/summer road trip.  (I will be in control of the gas gauge) ……     🙂 

I did another furniture switcharoo….moving all the rattan chairs outside and setting up tables for four couples to comfortably social distance.  We have all had our shots, so the atmosphere was more relaxed. 

I set up a wine bar with my “island”.  Two of the couples coming tonight make their own wine and will  bring different kinds.

The purpose of this get-together was to talk about our France barge trip.  We had signed up to go last October, but it was canceled due to Covid.  We rescheduled for this September, but are still not sure if we will be able to do the trip or not.  This afternoon, we chatted about different options.  Fingers crossed!

DINNER:  We had planned to grill some ribs, but by the time they left, it was too late to grill.  So, I sauteed the meat in butter with onions.  Sides were  sweet potato and okra.  Freeing up the freezer!

Entertaining…

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  Sunny.  High 78

We enjoyed our normal Sunday morning routine – George’s grits and eggs accompanied by “CBS Sunday Morning”. 

Since it was not windy, we walked up to the pickleball so I could get in some practice.  Our neighbors were there, so we played a foursome with them.  It was George’s first time (as he fell down the last time), but he was better than I was, even though I’ve been playing for about a month!  Not fair!!!!

We did a little pruning of the dead-looking shrubs, although we can see bits of green popping through. 

While George went to play pool and chess, I did a lot of cooking and food preparation.  To minimize a huge bag of whole walnuts (that George  bought while unsupervised), I turned a bunch into crumbs in the food processor so that I can use them for cooking while we are traveling.  They make a nice coating when cooking fish or chicken.  Then, I found a recipe for a walnut spread that I made – quite simple – walnuts crushed in the food processor, soy sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and a bit of tahini. 

Then, I made risotto for dinner tonight.  It takes quite a while, so kept me quite busy.  I was prepping for dinner with another couple coming over tonight.  I tried to make everything ahead of time, so I could enjoy the guests, instead of cooking while they are here.

As I said before, we are “baby-sitting” a table for our Canadian back-door neighbors.  It turns out that the couple we invited over today are the original owners of the table.  When they moved, they gave the table to our Canadian friends.  So, it was kind of cute to be able to serve them dinner on “their” table.  I love the way we can move furniture around when we entertain.  We moved the indoor/outdoor table outside, along with the rattan chairs, then moved the dining room table to center stage…

I moved the island that I use for dish-drying to the side, and used it as the bar…

DINNER:  First we had the walnut spread on crackers outside, next to a bonfire. Then, moving inside, we had scallops that I sauteed in a butter/garlic/wine sauce.  Sides were the risotto and green beans that they brought.  A delightful dinner. 

A nice quiet Saturday

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  Sunny.  High 75

STEPS:  14,697
CLASSES:  2 line-dancing

The morning flew by with a long walk then line-dancing.  We decided that it was still a bit too cool to swim, so we didn’t do water aerobics.

George finished up some touch-up painting.  We are out of paint, so I think the job is done!

I worked some more on the summer camping trip.  I looked for an Army Corps of Engineers Campground or a State Park (somewhere along the Mississippi) for Memorial Day weekend.  Everything is completely booked!  I have hesitated to reserve anything, as we are still hoping to go to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in early May. 

I’ve been collecting and organizing old photos.  These are from 1977 when we were living in Japan.  I was an English teacher; George was a consultant for a golf course construction project.  We befriended the owners of a yaki-tori (chicken on a skewer) bar and went there often.  We lived on the top floor of an apartment building, so did our own yaki-tori on a little hibachi grill. The bottom photo is from a ryokan (country inn) where we went with another Japanese couple. George certainly had more hair then!!!

By happy hour time, the temperature was just perfect and we enjoyed an Aperol Spritzer in the driveway.

DINNER:  Lamb stew.  This is one of the last meals I will make from the Jacques Pepin cookbook.  Lamb stew meat was included in our Imperfect Foods shipment, so I was able to make this dish.  Besides the lamb, the stew includes onions, leeks, carrots, and white beans.  It turned out well, and we have leftovers frozen now for the road.

BOOK:  “A Lesson in Secrets” by Jacqueline Winspear.  This is part of a Maisie Dobbs mystery series, taking place between WWI and WWII.  I enjoy her books.  5 stars out of 5

Major pruning

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 74

STEPS:  12,346
CLASSES:  Chair yoga and 2 water aerobics

I felt lethargic in the AM and just could not make myself play pickleball.  Perhaps my lack of energy was a reaction to the Covid vaccine.  So, instead of pickleball, I enjoyed a class of yoga…..a good stretch.

When I got back home, I found George’s legs hanging from the ceiling.  He was in the attic checking out the A/C system.  It is a good thing he is thin, as he had to wriggle around pipes and boards.  All looks good…..another check-off on our to-do list before we leave for the season.

He also made himself a tasty and nice-looking lunch — blue crab and avocado salad.  It was a lot of work….this small amount of crab meat came from 3 blue crabs!  We need to thaw the rest of the crabs before we go and pick the meat out, so we will have a small container of the crab (instead of the big bag of whole crabs hogging the freezer).

The lawn service are here whacking down dead branches from our shrubs.  We can see some green popping through, so hopefully most will come back.  I spoke to the lawn guy in Spanish saying “how sad” and he replied “that is a good word to describe this situation”. 

Now that most people here in our Retama Village community have had both Covid shots, people are coming out more.  The Friday night pot-luck grill/pot-luck get-togethers have been reinstated.  We went up for the happy hour and had a nice time reconnecting with some friends.  We didn’t stay for dinner, though, as I need to use up a lot of leftovers ASAP.

DINNER:  George grilled a tuna steak – just perfectly – brown on the outside and pink in the center.  Sides were okra and rice. 

Frittered the day away…..

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 78

STEPS:  17,646
CLASSES:  2 water aerobics

I really played poorly at pickleball today, but the game  gave me some additional steps!  It was a good workout.

They say opposites attract and it is certainly true for George and me.  These Facebook memory photos popped up today when we were fishing 2 years ago on the Gulf.  This is George fishing…

And this is my idea of fishing…..

And, this says it all…..probably our biggest difference/ bone of contention….

We had some friends over for drinks.  I made a platter of bruschetta, each different…some with salami and goat cheese, some with salami and cheddar, some with sour cream and lox, and some with goat cheese, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Fun to put together!  Darn – I forgot to take a photo!

DINNER:  Palatable, but nothing more….Zucchini and lentils fritters.  I had zucchini to use up and lentils to use before our trip next week (hate to have dibs and dabs taking up space).  So, I found this fritter recipe.  I made the dough with lentils that had soaked all day, parsley, zucchini, and spices.  After getting it into a paste in the food processor, I fried them.  The saving grace was the raita sauce – plain Greek yogurt with diced cucumber, chili oil, diced fresh mint, garlic, and turmeric.  Very tasty

We got shot! …..With Covid vaccine, that is

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Sunny,  High 75

STEPS:  9118

The big highlight of the day was getting our second Covid vaccine.  YAY!!!!!!!!

What a difference between our first shot experience and today’s…..

1.  There was excellent signage today about parking.  The location was the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which is a big campus.  For the first shot, there were no signs and we drove aimlessly around (until we saw a line of old-looking people!)

2.  College security men greeted us today,  asking us if we were getting first or second dose, then instructed us to get in the (short) line.  Last time, there wasn’t anyone around to ask for assistance.  For the first shot, we stood in the cold for about 1/2 hour until another “customer” told us we were in the wrong line.

3.  We waited about 5 minutes outside until we were ushered inside to register.  For the first shot, we waited about 2 hours with mindless, repetitive paperwork.  Most of that wait was outside in the cold rain.

4.  For the first shot, we came poorly attired.  Since we hadn’t known that we would have to stand in line outside, we had not worn warm clothing.  We froze.  Today, we were prepared – gloves, 2 jackets, long pants, and a wind-breaker.  Ha!  It turned out to be sunny and about 75.  And, we were only outside a short time.

5.  The registration process was quick, in person, and friendly.  The first time, we were seated in a big, noisy computer room and had to register via a Zoom call which we could not hear well.

6.  We waited about 2 minutes for the shot.  The guy who “shot” me last time was a novice and it hurt.  Today, I didn’t even know she had finished with the needle. 

7.  Including the 15-minute wait to see if we had any reaction, the entire experience today was about 25 minutes.  This compares with the 3- hour “ordeal” last time. 

It was a totally different experience. Even if we had had a repeat of the first experience, I wouldn’t complain, because now we are vaccinated!!!

We will continue to follow Covid guidelines, wearing a mask and social distancing.  We fear for our state, as the governor lifted Covid precautions; masks are no longer required.  This is   We just hope that there is not another spike.

On our way home, we took some back roads, passing by lots of citrus orchards.  How sad…..they are all brown and the fruit is lying on the ground. 

We celebrated by going to Loretto’s, our favorite bistro, to sit on their patio and enjoy Wine Wednesday with our friends.

Besides the wine, we shared a flatbread and some wings.

DINNER:  George grilled bison burgers, from ground bison we had received with our Imperfect Foods shipment.  He mixed it with some ground pork so it wouldn’t be so lean.  While he was grilling, we enjoyed a bonfire.  It almost got out of control when the wind picked up!

He learned this new technique…..after making the patties, he made an indentation with his thumb, and placed an ice cube in each. 

This kept the burgers from burning, and gave them some nice moisture.  Really good!

Side was a baked potato. 

Paint job complete!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Cool.  High 65

STEPS:  7880.  I just didn’t feel like my regular walk
CLASSES:  Chair yoga and 2 line-dancing

Classes took up most of the morning, then I did computer work all afternoon in the clubhouse, trying to plot our way north after we leave Louisiana in April.  We don’t want to go too far north too early, due to weather.  I am trying to find combinations of Army Corps of Engineer Parks with Harvest Host sites in between.  I’m as far north as Missouri, right now, in my planning.  I’m just planning, and not reserving, as we are “on hold” for a possible trip to Newfoundland.  If that trip comes to fruition, we will zip up north, rather than meander. 

While I was doing all of that, George spent the entire day painting.  He only had the front side of t he house to do, but it took hours to do all the trim work.  He was really beat. He did a fantastic job.  Alas, I did not help at all.  (It would have looked awful.)    We are happy with how the color came out….

BEFORE –

AFTER-

I really like the way the front doors open up, so when we have parties we can go inside and outside easily.  (We had the doors open for the paint to dry).

We went to our local Mexican meat market in search of quail, for one of the last recipes I have left in Jacques Pepin’s cookbook.  They didn’t have any quail, but have a beautiful array of meat and chicken, including some unusual stuff like marinated intestines, pig ears, and pickled pork rinds. 

DINNER:  I had planned on the quail, so had nothing thawed with which to cook.  So, I made a fall-back recipe that is always tasty.  I sauteed some mushrooms and onions, then added some white wine and cream cheese to make a light cream sauce.  I boiled up some good papperelle pasta.  To serve, I poured the sauce over the pasta, and then topped it all  with smoked salmon and capers.  Sides were leftover vegetables – acorn squash and stir-fry zucchini with onions.  Too much food!

March came in like a lion!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Lousy!  Cold, rain, and wind.  High 70 (in early AM) then sinking to 40s

STEPS:  14,500
CLASSES:  One water aerobics

I was pleased to see the little dog waiting for the farmer on my morning walk.  The Border Patrol helicopter was hovering on top of me, and it was so loud that I could not hear my podcast.  As I stopped at the farm entrance to turn off the podcast, the farmer happened to drive up.  It was so heartwarming to see their morning reunion. 

The weather today was crazy.  It started warm and humid.  When I played pickleball, I became drenched in sweat. 

Then, two hours later, I halfway decided not to do water aerobics as it was looking like rain.  Temperatures were predicted to drop.  However, George was at the clubhouse and told my friend that I would be joining her at the pool.  Right at noon, the skies opened up and started to pour.  Winds came up.  A gradual decrease in temperature turned out to be a severe drop instead. I didn’t want to let her down, so I drove up to the clubhouse, ran through the cold rain, and jumped into the pool.  The water actually felt ok as it was warmer than the air temperature.  We managed to make it through one class, as the temp continued to drop,  then hit the hot tub.  After class, I checked the weather and the temp had fallen to about 50.  That plus the wind and rain was not very comfortable for swimming!!! 

Our wine club shipment arrived today.  Now,  we will be leaving soon with Joy with a full pantry, freezer, refrigerator,… and wine cellar!  (aka the shower)

Someone sent me this photo of my mother when she must have been in her 20s.  People commented that there is a strong resemblance between her and our younger daughter.  Here they are, side by side.  I   DO see similarities.  Both very pretty!

Our friends came over to finalize our trip to the Gulf Coast.  We are planning to go as far east as the Florida Panhandle.  No state parks have any availability.  We finally found a commercial park on the coast….not cheap!  We are staying in a combination of state parks, commercial parks, and several Harvest Host sites….a brewery, space museum, antebellum plantation, and winery.  It will be fun!  I served my home-made hummus with baguette slices.  We do not have any good bakeries around here, nor does the grocery store sell good bread.  On my last shopping trip, I found frozen mini-baguettes and baked one to eat with this stew.  What a good find!

DINNER:  I made a recipe that my brother (a great cook) sent me.  I substituted fish for the shrimp.  This is the last of the fish that George caught on fishing trips this spring.    It was easy and really good….

LEMONY SHRIMP AND BEAN STEW (New York Times)
Serves 4

1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves grated or minced
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, divided
1 tsp paprika (Hungarian sweet or smoked Spanish)
1 lb raw, peeled, deveined shrimp (tail on or tail off, large or medium)
4 tablespoons butter (½ stick)
2 medium leeks, dark green part removed, sliced horizontally (from bottom to top), rinsed, then sliced into ½ inch thick half rounds
1 can (15 oz) white beans (cannellini, white kidney, great northern), drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
Parsley garnish (optional)
Serve with crusty bread

Combine shimp, lemon zest, paprika, garlic and ¾ tsps of salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Toss to coat shrimp.
In a large cooking pot (Dutch oven), melt butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add shrimp and cook about 2 – 3 minutes.  Remove shrimp from pot using a slotted spoon and put back in the bowl. Set aside.
Add leeks to pot.  Season with remaining salt and pepper (if desired). Cook leeks over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for 4 – 5 minutes or until the leeks start to brown slightly.  Add broth and beans, bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Add shrimp and any juices to the pot, turn up heat to re-warm shrimp.
Place shrimp and stock in 4 warmed bowls. Sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley.
SERVE IMMEDIATELY

Notes from my brother….
I tried it with the smoked paprika and there were complaints that it overpowered everything, so I will stick with Hungarian sweet.
I have done everything through step 3, and held until time to eat. Just threw in the shrimp, warmed it all back up, and went from there. Worked great.
Serve with salad. I roasted some asparagus pieces and tossed them on top, but again I got some complaints.
I used a Dutch oven, but a high-sided frying pan would work I think.
I did not add the remaining ¼ tsp salt and pepper to the leeks and I thought it was plenty salty. Canned beans and broth vary a lot in saltiness.
You can substitute a firm fish for the shrimp.