Zeke’s good friends Doug and Heidi have moved to their new home in Alabama. Roll Tide! They won’t be back to the Keys until after Thanksgiving. And, just as I predicted, friends Brooks and Sharon found a house they love in Central Florida. They’ll close on it later this month and will be moving out of Miami in the near future. Bye, bye, bye! I’m having them, Sharon’s sister Sandie and Mom Connie, all over for farewell dinner in December.
My new car- a Mini Cooper Countryman with four doors and enough room for all three grandsons- is finally built and is being shipped as we speak. Hopefully, I will have it by next month. The bad news is I might not have any grandsons to ride around in it. More on that later.
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.Ferris Beuller
I do have something to look forward to and that’s a trip to Disney World with Wyatt and Zeke. It was Wyatt’s Birthday gift two years ago, at which time he picked his Mom to be his special guest. The trip was set for April 2020, then the Pandemic hit, the trip was delayed and now A.J. has little Phoenix in tow; Disney with a seven-month-old baby is a whole different (not always Magical!) experience, so Bop and Gigi will be taking Wyatt (hopefully in my new car) in early December. We’re staying at Animal Kingdom and I’m excited!
Zeke and I had really yummy grilled lamb chops, from Wild Fork, for our Sunday dinner last weekend. To go with it, I tried a Grilled Summer Squash and Red Onion with Feta recipe from Bon Appetit. It flips the switch on marinating, by grilling the veggies first and then dousing them with the marinade, thereby letting the flavors in the marinade soak into the vegetables, instead of getting steamed off. I served couscous to round out the meal; it was delicious.
Grilled Summer Squash and Red Onion with FetaCourse: Side DishCuisine: GrillingDifficulty: Easy
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for grill
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
4 medium summer squash and/or zucchini, cut lengthwise 1/4″ thick
1 medium red onion, cut through root end into 8 wedges
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
8 oz. feta, crumbled into large pieces
4 banana peppers from a jar, thinly sliced crosswise
Generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; lightly oil grate. Whisk garlic, vinegar and 1/2 cup oil in small bowl to combine; set marinade aside.
- Toss squash, onion, bay leaves on a rimmed baking sheet with remaining 3 Tbsp. oil to coat; season generously with salt and pepper.
- Arrange squash and onion on grate. Grill squash, undisturbed, until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes.
- Turn over and grill on second side until tender and starting to release liquid, about 2 minutes. Transfer squash back to baking sheet.
- Grill onion, turning occasionally, until tender and charred around the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer back to baking sheet.
- Arrange squash, onion, bay leaves and feta on a rimmed platter and pour reserved marinade over.
- Scatter banana peppers on top and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
- Let sit at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before serving.
- I substituted pepperoncini for banana peppers.
The grilled vegetables went onto a simple sandwich I made the next day. I heated up a small flour tortilla in a cast iron pan, smeared it generously with softened goat cheese and topped that with the warm grilled vegetables, fresh cilantro sprigs and some middle eastern hot sauce. This was a perfect and delicious light lunch and I loved the idea of re-purposing those vegetables!
The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.Calvin Trillin
Tuesday night was my Book Club meeting. The book we read- The Great Circle– was 608 pages! It was a good book, which interwove two story lines about a Female Aviator and an actress who is playing her in a movie. After reading about the daring feats of Marian Graves and how she fixed and flew her own planes and became a bush pilot in Alaska, I decided the least I could do is learn how to drive our boat- ‘Bout Time- a bit. So, when we went out on the boat the other day, I told Zeke to let me start the engine and pilot it, which I did for a while. Then, I got bored with it and turned it back over to Zeke. Next lesson: Docking!
I had a delicious Beet and Lentil Salad at Zucca in Coral Gables for lunch recently, which I tried to replicate to bring to the Book Club meeting. The salad had two different beets- red and yellow- in it, so I tried two methods of cooking them. The first, I roasted in the oven in aluminum foil. The second I boiled on the stove. I much preferred the roasting, although the red juice did leak out the top of the foil, so place it on a cookie sheet when roasting. The boiling method achieved a cleaner taste and smoother beet, but it took a LONG time. I saved the beet juice from the boiled beet to make a smoothie with and added the tops from the beets in it as well. I even pickled the stems to use as a garnish. Waste not, want not!
The Beluga (black) lentils for the salad were hard to locate. They were small, black and did actually look like caviar! I ended up just getting the French Green Lentils from Whole Foods bulk area. To assemble the salad, I plopped down some Spring Mix on a plate, sprinkled on the lentils, sliced beets, crumbled feta cheese. and toasted hazelnuts. I brought a homemade orange vinaigrette to dress it. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and it went well with the poached salmon and quinoa hostess Sumita prepared for dinner. Only half of us finished the book, but we all finished our dinners; it was nice to see everyone.
The Easy White Chili (see previous post) made an simple lunch, when paired with a quesadilla filled with sauteed mushrooms, red onions and cheddar cheese. On Thursday night, I roasted some Butternut Squash on a sheet pan with Chicken and Apple Sausage, with some sliced green apple on the baking sheet, as well. Although I find cutting hard squash a little intimidating, once I peeled it, it was pretty easy to slice in half, remove the seeds (I roasted them) and cut into 1″ chunks. I tossed the chunks in olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and cayenne pepper and roasted it at 375 for about 25 minutes. I roasted the squash about 15 minutes, before adding the sausage. Chicken sausage tends to dry out quicker than pork and I didn’t want it to shrivel up. Since it’s already cooked, it’s simply a matter of heating it up. A nice, easy, Fall meal!
The Roasted Butternut Squash turned out delicious, but the next day, I didn’t want it again, so put it into a pot, covered it with chicken broth and simmered it about 10 minutes, until the squash was tender. I added some curry powder, a 1/2 cup of apple cider and blended it into a puree for soup. I topped it with sour cream and butternut squash seeds and it made for a light and healthy lunch. I had it again for lunch the next day, but this time with the sliced sausage, for a heartier soup. I love when leftovers can be transformed into something different!
Thursday, when my babysitting gig with Phoenix fell through, I relished the idea of a whole day to myself and getting a lot of things done. A.J. asked if I wanted to go to the pool with Wyatt and Phoenix and I told her I had work to do. But, on second thought, it was a beautiful day, so around noon, I joined them at Riviera. I ordered sushi and chicken fingers (two things they do well) for lunch, along with ice teas for us and an apple juice for Wyatt; we spent a lovely day at the pool.
Christopher and Courtney are coming down at the end of the month, for a wedding in Key West and Liam’s First Birthday. Packages have been arriving every day from Amazon Prime (how did we ever live without it?) and Oriental Trading Company for the party. The theme is Western, since they are living in Colorado and, being the pack rat that I am, I still have Brad, A.J.’s and Christopher’s cowboy hats from when they were little.
So, what is there to do about all this change? Enjoy every day, love the one you’re with, cancel work to hang out with your kids and grandkids by the pool, toast big and small successes with friends at Happy Hour, dance like no one’s watching, plan dinners for those moving away, and trips to visit them when they’re gone. Carpe Diem baby, because all we have is the present moment. Buy the shoes, drink the wine, plan the trip.
The one thing that will change your life forever is accepting that everything is temporary. Happiness. Pain. Failure. Success. Your relationships. Your entire existence is temporary and the fact that you can’t be sure whether you will live another day is enough to show you that whatever it is you’re stressing about- it will pass.ruby dahl
Up Next: Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce