Make Mine a Rag Arm

What good news! All of the Hurricanes’ home baseball games will be televised this season on ESPN3.

That meant we were able to watch the opening game of the season on Friday night as the Hurricanes took on Rutger’s Scarlet Knights. And in attempt to emulate the Mark Light Field experience, we made milk shakes.

Vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, milk and mix.


A black and white for John.


Add strawberries, and it’s a rag arm for me.


Not quite the same as at the ballpark, but with a win and a milkshake, it’s a good way to prepare for the real thing next weekend in Miami when the Hurricanes host the Gators.


Pigging out at Pigfest: Polk County

We were introduced to a new event yesterday, the Lakeland Pigfest, a place to enjoy a warm January day with friends and family while feasting on delicious barbecue.


According to the festival website, the goals of the event:

  • Raise money for local charitable organizations
  • Create a relaxing event for all walks of life
  • Eat some world class barbecue!

From the size of the crowd and from the food we tasted, I’d say they met their goal.


Ribs by the bones, wings and pulled pork sold in sample sizes made it possible to try quite a variety of food. I’m proud to say none of us succumbed to any of the fried selections. No fried Oreos. No fried strawberries. No fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. No fried bananas.


That doesn’t mean we skipped the sweets. We just stuck to strawberry shortcake.


The Lakeland Pigfest is held at Tigertown on Friday night and Saturday. If you missed this year’s event, mark your calendar of January 2017 so you can pig out.

(Thanks, John, for sharing your pictures.)

Columbia’s Competition

When it comes to eating we’re creatures of habit, or maybe we just can’t pass up a guaranteed delicious meal. That’s why a trip to St. Augustine always includes a meal at the Columbia restaurant.  You really can’t go wrong with any of their dishes.

However, apparently the week after Christmas requires advance planning to dine at the Columbia. We stopped by the restaurant a couple of hours before we planned to eat to make a reservation only to be told they were completely booked for the night. Time to come up with Plan B.


As we walked through the streets reading posted menus, I searched Yelp reviews looking for more options. With a 4.5 star rating and reviews that read:


Unique menu. Florida fare with a southern twist.

An amazing oasis in a sea of mediocrity. The Floridian breaks the mold.

We decided to give The Floridian a try. This proved a good decision resulting in four pleased diners.


One order of shrimp and grits, one shrimp and sausage autumn risotto and a burrito. All delicious!


But by far, the best meal was Sarah’s, Fresh Catch Floridian with roasted potatoes and veggies. I can’t remember when I’ve seen her eat so much.


The one downside of our visit: John’s meal was delivered almost ten minutes after the others, but they made up for this by offering us four free desserts. Therefore, we ordered dessert, something that happens rarely and enjoyed every bite of the chocolate cheesecake and chocolate pie.

On our next trip to St. Augustine we’ll have a hard time deciding where we’ll eat.


Food for Thought

I love this time of year…grapefruit season. Most mornings from November through March we start the day with a grapefruit freshly picked from one of the trees in our yard. As much as we enjoy our fruit trees, we haven’t made a commitment to planting a garden and growing our food from farm to table.


So when this morning’s fishing trip a  couple hundred yards from the house resulted in catching enough bass for lunch, I couldn’t help but think about how strange it seems to eat two meals in a single day consisting of food that didn’t make a stop at the grocery before being served on our table.


However, I don’t expect the trend to continue for dinner unless we’re able to shoot a squirrel. But do we need a license for that? And how do you clean and cook squirrel?

I think those are questions I don’t really want answered. A trip to Publix sounds like a better idea.

It’s a Popcorn Kind of Day

With an American League Baseball playoff game and college football on the schedule for this evening, popcorn is calling my name. Here’s a repeat of popcorn treats originally posted last October. What is it about October that makes me want popcorn?

Sixteen billion quarts? That’s how much popcorn is consumed by Americans each year. And what better time to pop up some of this tasty treat? After all, October is National Popcorn Month and with the World Series just around the corner, it makes sense that the games be accompanied by popcorn.
Sure, you can just throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave, but why not add a little pizazz with one of these yummy recipes.
A Halloween favorite, the popcorn ball, with a twist = Caramel Cashew Popcorn Balls.

Caramel Cashew Popcorn Balls

Maybe this simple, spicy Garlic Parmesan Popcorn hits the spot.

Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

What about a little S’more Caramel Corn?

S’more Caramel Corn

If I could still eat peanut butter, Puppy Chow Popcorn would be my favorite.

Puppy Chow Popcorn

How can you resist Browned Butter Snickerdoodle Popcorn?

Browned Butter Snickerdoodle Popcorn

I’m not sure about Key Lime Pie Popcorn. I love Key Lime Pie, and since I love everything about Florida, I guess I should give it a try.

Key Lime Pie Popcorn

Cookie dough + popcorn? Yum! Monster Cookie Dough Popcorn

Monster Cookie Dough Popcorn

Try White Chocolate Merry Munch for a sweet, chocolate flavored popcorn. Maybe this will need to wait for December. It looks like Christmas.

White Chocolate Merry Munch

And finally, here’s a simple, traditional Popcorn Ball Recipe from Jolly Time®

8 cups popped JOLLY TIME® Blast O Butter or Butter Microwave Pop Corn
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Keep popped popcorn warm in 200º oven while preparing syrup.
In 2-quart saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, water, butter and salt.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
Continue cooking without stirring until temperature reaches 270º on a candy thermometer or until a small amount of syrup dropped into very cold water separates into threads, which are hard but not brittle.
Remove from heat.
Add vanilla; stir just enough to mix through hot syrup.
Slowly pour over popcorn, stirring to coat every kernel.
Cool just enough to handle.
Shape into balls, using JOLLY TIME® Pop Corn Ball Maker or buttered hands.
Cool on foil or buttered wax paper. Wrap in plastic wrap; tie with a ribbon.

A Bushel or a Peck?

Driving from Maine to Vermont, we saw hand painted signs pointing the way to Burtts Orchard, a place to pick apples. So we took a slight detour and found the advertised orchard.


I think the woman at the stand was a little surprised that we wanted to pick apples in the rain instead of just purchasing a bag of apples, but what fun is that? I can buy a bag of apples at any grocery.

So we were given a map indicating what type of apple was grown in each row with the ones ready for picking highlighted in yellow, an apple picking tool, and asked if we wanted to pick a bushel or a peck.

We decided a peck would be plenty, especially since they would be kept in the car until we returned home. Then we headed out to start picking.


The first couple apples were pretty puny so we moved on to another row and got busy picking only apples deemed worthy. We picked McIntosh, Empire, Gala, and Honeycrisp, all traditional September varieties and even picked a few Golden Delicious and Fuji that were ready a couple of weeks before their usual October picking season.


Of course, there was a little taste testing during the picking and after filling our bag, it was back to the stand to pay for our freashly picked peck. For less than $8.00, we left with fruit that we’d snack on all the way home. However, who can tell which apple is which? Was that a Honeycrisp or an Empire? Oh well, it doesn’t matter. We’ve started an apple a day habit.

Shamed by My Phone

A couple of years ago, I lost 25 pounds by exercising, watching my diet and using the app Lose It! to monitor my progress. Well, a few of those pounds have moved back to my waistline so I’ve been making an effort to get back to using Lose It! to track my eating and exercise habits.

After going on an eleven mile bike ride in the heat of a late August day, I received this message from my Lose It! app:


Thanks for the encouragement! Two days later after another eleven mile bike ride and a three mile walk, I turn on my phone to see:


I really felt like I’d accomplished something after riding almost 25 miles…in the rain. That’s 666 calories burned, even at a slow pace of 9.1 mph.


So how did Lose It! help me celebrate? With this message:


Apparently walking, bike riding and lawn work is not something to celebrate. The message is loud and clear. EAT LESS FOOD!


Yes, I’ve eaten Cheetos, cookies, and nachos. I’ve even consumed a couple of glasses of Coke. The latest message from my phone:


I think my phone just called me a Fred. I’ll keep exercising, but I need to do a better job with my diet…and I’m sure Lose It! won’t let me forget!


Potatoes Please

Another food to celebrate. This time it’s potatoes. That’s right. This Wednesday is Potato Day. Time to add some yummy potato dishes to the recipe box.

Instead of French Fries, why not try this baked substitute: Baked Garlic Parmesan Wedges

Potato Skins are always a tasty treat, but what do you do with all the potato that gets wasted? Maybe these potato rounds are the answer: Easy Potato Skins


If calories are no problem, you might want to try this homemade version of a local restaurant’s Potato Mountain Melt: Cheesy Ranch Potatoes

My family LOVES mashed potatoes so I’m sure they’d appreciate: Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole

Roasted potatoes are pretty standard fare, but lemon herb? That’s a new twist: Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes

Leftover mashed potatoes? Never at my house, but these look yummy enough to make as a side dish even if you have to start from scratch instead of with leftovers…or better yet, could you use Simply Potatoes® or some other refrigerated mashed potato? Mashed Potato Puffs

Another plan for those non-existent leftover mashed potatoes: Cheesy Mashed Potato Waffles

Or maybe a healthier sweet potato treat would be a better way to celebrate: Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Do you have a favorite potato recipe? I’d love to add it to my collection.

Lunch at the Seafood Market

Before we could check into the house we rented on Ft. George Island for Family Weekend, we launched the boat and set out to find a restaurant on the water. Since the house was located just across the river from Mayport, we knew there were several restaurants located along the docks where the fishing boats returned with their daily catches. What we didn’t know was that there was a seafood market that also served the fresh fish to diners overlooking the docks.


According to Yelp, Safe Harbor Seafood Market was the place to go for good seafood, so with the help of Google Maps we located Safe Harbor and indeed, it was a true seafood market. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of pounds of fish, crabs, shrimp and even squid filled the icy display cases.


We ordered at the counter, took our number to the table and in a matter of minutes, the server delivered some of the most delicious seafood I’ve ever tasted. Shrimp, grouper, fries, slaw, and amazing hush puppies…what a great way to start the weekend.


No boat? No problem. Safe Harbor Seafood Market can be accessed by car, just down from the St. John’s River Ferry on Ocean Street in Mayport. This is a must visit place the next time you’re in Jacksonville.


S’more S’mores

It’s National S’mores Day tomorrow, and guess who’s ready for some chocolate, marshmallow, graham cracker goodness? Instead of making the traditional s’mores by the campfire, here’s seven variations of this traditional treat. Maybe one for each day this week?

Don’t want to light a fire to roast marshmallows? No problem. Try these Baked S’mores Cups. Get the recipe from Moms Need To Know by clicking here.

Dunking s’mores? Sounds like a good idea. Click here for the recipe for S’mores Dunkers from Raining Hot Coupons.

Yum, S’mores Krispie Treats! Click here to get the recipe from Whole Yum.

This looks like a delicious, less messy, s’more variation. Click here for recipe for S’mores Campfire Cones from Frugal Coupon Living.

What a good idea! S’mores on a stick. Click here to check out the recipe from Scattered Thoughts From a Crafty Mom.

Now this is the easiest s’more recipe ever! Fudge Stripe S’mores. Click here for the recipe from Butter with a Side of Bread.

I haven’t had much luck with making truffles, but this recipe for S’mores Truffles makes me want to try again. Click here for the S’mores Truffles recipe from High Heels and Grills.

Graham crackers? Check. Marshmallows? Check. Chocolate? Check. Ready to make some S’mores.