I ain’t as young as I once was. I’ve got a few years on me now. But there was time, when I was in my prime, that I could really lay it down.Toby Keith
So at the end of July, according to the Astro Twins, three planets changed Zodiac signs, causing major upheaval. In addition, on Sunday, August 8th 2021, a Powerful Portal called Lion’s Gate opened, bringing Transformative Times, which are both exciting, as well as turbulent and scary. Jupiter returned to Aquarius after a 2 1/2 month respite in Pisces (hugs, indoor dining, movies in theatres!), bringing us, once again, back to reality. The fact we all hoped COVID was finally over is now obviously not a reality. It, and it’s variant Delta, has raged back with a vengeance.
In my own life, many changes are happening as well. Christopher and Courtney, with 8- month-old Liam, are leaving next month for Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where Courtney has taken a Traveling Nursing position. And so, that brief shining moment when ALL three of my grandsons were in the same city at the same time, is almost over. They will be there for three months (I think) and in the Fall, which should be a glorious time to be in Colorful Colorado and its leaf-laden glory, I am happy for them, but…
I’ve been watching Liam since he was a couple months old, most recently every couple weeks for stints from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. while his parents worked and (shocker!) I’m going to miss him! His chubby cheeks, sweet little laugh, big brown eyes, luscious eyelashes, smooth, soft skin, his smell, the way he’s trying to stand up, precariously, holding on to any object in sight, the way he bounces to music when a song comes on. His smile with those two little bottom teeth! I can always FaceTime and sing him “Five Little Speckled Frogs” and read him “Peek A Boo”- his favorite book. But it’s not the same, is it? No, it is not! So, I’m sad. But he will be home for his birthday in November at least, for a party at his Gigi’s so I’m already thinking about a theme. Baby Shark?
In addition, Lauren has left Miami and is in transit (after a wedding in Massachussets) to California, where she’ll start a job in San Francisco in the Fall. She studied her a** off for the California Bar (one of the hardest in the U.S.), took it a couple weeks ago, packed up, shipped her car and she’s off. So, another door closes. Emma has also been busy studying for her end-of-semester exams for Accelerated Nursing at UM and is one-third of the way through. She did great on her tests so yay Emma! And yay Lauren! And, dare I say it? We are empty-nesters once again, so yay us! Of course, every time I say that, something happens to change it and with this Lion’s Gate hocus pocus, I don’t trust anything to stay the same!
And Wyatt, my sweet little five-year-old grandson, starts Kindergarten this month! So, #sweetlittlewyatt isn’t so little anymore! Unbelievable. He’s very excited for Kindergarten, so much so that he keeps asking if he can just start school now. Just wait baby! For he is still my “baby” even though the younger generation of grandsons is on the rise.
Getting to the Foodie part of this post, we were lucky enough to get Florida Lobsters from a neighbor in the Keys from Mini Season, so had a farewell Lobster Dinner for Lauren, with Emma and Gui. Since there wasn’t enough lobster, Zeke got Steaks to make a Surf ‘N Turf and I made Baked Potatoes (with the fixings), Mushrooms in red wine and some nice, fat Asparagus, which Zeke grilled. I also made a homemade Chimichurri sauce for the steak.
Now here is my tangent on cooking proteins. After you take into account the grade (like Kobe beef will obviously taste better than USDA Prime) they mostly taste the same. The only way to change the taste is to: marinate them, season or rub them prior to cooking. After cooking, the only way to elevate the taste, is with a sauce to go with it. I prefer rubs over marinades for the most part, but it just depends on the protein and the rest of the meal. And you have to choose a sauce according to: the protein served, the season and your own personal tastes.
Zeke grilled the steaks and lobster (my favorite way to cook them) and of course, there was lots of melted butter served on the side for our lobster feast. Since I had a boatload of bananas from my tree (all ripe at the same time), I made Banana Ice Cream. In an effort to “lighten it up”, I used half almond milk in place of the cream. It tasted good that night, but upon later tasting, it was a little icy.
Wednesday night I had A.J., Justin, Wyatt and Phoenix over for dinner. I made Shrimp Cocktail (with a mustard sauce since they are both on Keto), Mojo Pork, Mashed Garlic Cauliflower and Grilled Veggies, which I’d marinated in balsamic vinegar. I served the pork with three sauces- Peanutty Salsa, Chimichurri and Ketchup (for Wyatt who likes ketchup on everything). Although my pork loin caught fire on the grill, I was able to rescue it and it was cooked to a perfectly pink interior. Zeke claims I always try to “man his grill”, but he was gone so I “Whoa-manned” his grill; and, other than the small fire, it went well, so perhaps I have a future in grilling. Dessert was banana ice cream (now icy) and rum cake to celebrate Justin’s birthday.
After dinner, we went upstairs and watched a Home Movie of a snow-skiing trip to Steamboat Springs from when A.J. was eight and went with my parents, her cousin Allie and Aunt Kelley. With her brown hair, boundless energy and little chipmunk voice, she reminded us all of Wyatt. Wyatt was meanwhile, bouncing around the bedroom on my exercise ball, Justin was on his phone (home movies are notoriously boring for anyone other than the people on camera) and baby Phoenix fell asleep on my bed. A good time was had by all- LOL!
Then, Thursday night was my Book Club meeting. We read A History of Love. I offered to bring a dish and was going to bring Mushrooms with Tofu (to go along with my vegetarian kick) but it’s been so hot lately I just wanted something cool and refreshing, so ended up making a Nectarine and Burrata Salad from Real Simple Magazine. I used peaches instead of nectarines (because that’s what I had) and I got the burrata from Trader Joes. I followed the recipe exactly, but added some arugula underneath the salad. It was pretty easy to make, beautiful to look at and everyone enjoyed it. The pickled red onion and fresh mint leaves added a welcome touch.
So elegant and simple, but just a little different.Guta, from my Book Club commented.
You could also use mangoes instead of nectarines- a delicious alternative if you have them. My Mallika mango tree gave me quite a few lovely mangoes this summer, but alas, it’s finished for the season now. Everyone brought a salad to start and then we had a lovely Beef Stew made by our hostess, Louisa.
I would like to share a recipe that all our family loves and it’s a great one if you’re on the Keto diet. I will always love mashed potatoes, but I’ve also come to love Mashed Cauliflower and it goes great with grilled meats, Roast Chicken and could even be used as a base for a Veggie Bowl, if you’re trying to eat plant-based. Now Zeke is going to say I “stole his recipe”, but this isn’t patented, so he can’t sue me. A note about cauliflower (I got mine at Trader Joe’s), make sure you pick one without any dark spots on it.
Mashed Garlic CauliflowerCourse: Side DishCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Moderate
1 Head Cauliflower
4 garlic cloves, skins off, divided use.
1/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
- Put a steamer basket into a large pot, with a couple inches water on the bottom.
- Trim cauliflower. Cut the core out and the outer leaves off and cut the head into large florets. Don’t worry about making them perfect, as they will get blended.
- Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place cauliflower florets into stainless steamer, along with two garlic cloves and cover. Steam until tender. Test by inserting a sharp knife into the cauliflower. If it goes in easily, it is done. Remove from heat.
- Put steamed cauliflower, steamed garlic cloves, the butter, two raw garlic cloves (if desired- it will make it spicier), the broth and milk into the blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Season with salt, white pepper and extra butter, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. If you don’t have white pepper, you can use black, just the black specks will appear in your creamy white mash. If you don’t have a steamer, well, you should really get one. They are less than and come in handy!
- This recipe can be made ahead and reheated in the microwave, just make sure to cover it with a paper towel, as it will splatter. My daughter A.J. also eats this as a dip, cold, for veggies!