FL Tankful – Titusville

Sunday, sunday, what to do on a Sunday? Let’s drive east to the Atlantic side of Florida. We ultimately decided to head towards Titusville, Florida. Many years ago we drove here practically every weekend to kayak fish………………..but once we got our boat the kayaks sat unused in the garage. With our destination locked in, I dug a little deeper into the history of this special part of Florida.

A post office was created in 1858 in this area and the town was called Sand Point. Henry T. Titus arrived in 1867 intending to build a town on land owned by his wife, a daughter of a prominent planter.

Local history says…………………….Titus challenged Captain Clark Rice to a game of dominoes to decide the town’s name. Titus won. The town was incorporated in 1887. I found this nearby mural of Titus.

Our first stop was dictated by lunch plans. Internet search made the decision Pier 220 Seafood &Grill.

Who can argue with a view like this………………LOVE it!

You had your choice of indoor and outdoor seating. Hmmmmmmm, what to do, what choice do we make? Outside of course! Great place to motor up in your boat and tie up while eating.

We started with a few drinks while waiting for our food. Coke for me and lagers for Adrienne and Eric. Can’t forget the water to keep hydrated.

Smoked fish dip was our appetizer of choice. The ‘chips’ were a little different. Probably not the best fish dip we had ever ordered. Eric also ordered a cup of chowder.

Meals were good. Fish tacos for me with Eric ordering fried shrimp.

A walk to the end of the pier helped our food settle.

Found this guy sitting on the railing. Not too many people nearby to bother him (her?).

PIer 220 is a GREAT location with good food.

Now, how to spend the rest of our afternoon?????? Stop at a nearby craft brewery in historic downtown Titusville. Yep, used to be a hardware.

Playlinda Brewing Company

You can still see remnants of its former life as a hardware.

Our drink selections were very colorful. Left to right: Scrub Jay Lemon Wheat (mine), Playa Porter (Eric) and Blueberry Lemonade beer (Adrienne).

Ginny’s –

A shot of their beer selection.

They had a small menu and a smoked salmon fish dip was a starter of choice. Definitely a step (or two) up from the day’s first fish dip,

Something different caught my eye……….

Nice presentation but the sweet pretzel at Ten 10 Brewing Company in Orlando is waaaaaaaay better – just saying. It wasn’t so bad that we didn’t eat it. 🙂

Last selections before heading home: Robonaut Red Ale on left, Nitro St. Katie’s Irish red at right.

I enjoyed my selection enough to bring some home for future enjoyment.

We all agreed, heading east to the Atlantic coast was a nice change while still enjoying the water – one of Florida’s greatest attractions.

Ginny

FL Tankful – MKR

Exploring in Florida requires a tank of gas and interesting destinations. Let’s see where we can go. The truck has a full tank and we’re headed north. This day included several cool spots to see a bit of real Florida and of course………..lunch. Curious what MKR stands for?

M = Marjorie

K = Kinnan

R = Rawlings

Although born in Washington DC, she spent a number of years in Florida and some of her most widely read and best known works were written in a tiny rural town called Cross Creek. Her and her husband purchased a 72-acre orange grove and she brought national fame to the area with her writing. Now, the farm is a Florida Historic State Park.

She wanted solitude and a chance to save their marriage, however 5 years later they divorced. The community became her solace and although initially hesitant to accept her, she eventually made friends. Indeed, some were included in her books. Her farm has a number of buildings still standing. This was the main house for living and entertaining.

To the right of the main house are the bedrooms.

The kitchen was in the back and alas, no photo. A barn still stands and when tours start up again, the guided tours meet here for a brief introduction before going inside the house.

LOVED the chicken coop, but no chicks inside.

Her most famous novel was The Yearling. In 1938 it was the best selling novel in America. The small community cashed in on the name with a local restaurant serving Southern cuisine as their specialty.

Opened in 1952 it is definitely off the beaten path. They serve food that rural Floridans have hunted, fished and prepared. Fish dip and a cold beer started our meal.

This was followed by fried pickles. Whoever thought of that?! Don’t know how it happened but we had them a number of years ago and if they are on a menu, they are usually ordered. The paper doily was an interesting touch.

We had varied selections. Mine was blackened catfish and fries.

Eric ordered the fried catfish with collards and zipper peas.

Adrienne’s selection was free-range venison with her selected sides being zipper peas and collards.

The restaurant has a number of dining rooms with very eclectic furnishings – very woodsy and rural looking. Loved their bulletin board with (mostly) antique Florida postcards.

A trip to this part of Florida, usually includes a stop at another natural highlight – Paynes Prairie State Preserve. It has the distinction of being the first such preserve in Florida opening 1970.

There were herds of wild horses and bison roaming and still exist today. I saw one bison.

There was a 50′ observation tower that was a nice climb.

A nice relaxing day seeing the natural side of Florida.

Ginny

Asian Food Foray

Wow! Really getting into world culture with some food weekends. Recently, we had an ‘Asian’ week of food. YUM!

So let’s define Asian food. Nope, you can’t. Its not that easy. Found this definition on the internet.

I knew that simply saying ‘Asian’ food was a misnomer and Eric is not a purist with his cooking. Let’s just say we’ve (1) consumed food at home with Asian influence and (2) visited a f.a.b.u.lo.u.s dumpling restaurant that WILL have numerous repeat visits.

Let’s start at home……………

Our home Asian dining started with Eric visiting Lotte Market. LOVE this place – almost as much as Lucky’s Market. Still shedding a tear for Lucky’s. 😦

He started our night of Asian influence with Miso soup – from scratch. It was tasty. Not something I’ve ordered when we were out, but it was a nice start. A little glass of sake accompanied our meal.

LOVE a salad with ginger dressing. Visiting a friend years ago, she served this dressing and we asked for her recipe. Yep, straight from a bottle. Can’t do better. It’s the only one we’ve seen in Publix, but no need to search for another brand.

Iceberg lettuce, grated daikon radish and ginger dressing = a very simply but delicious salad. The chopsticks are not for decoration. It has taken me quite a while and I am by no means proficient. During my 6 months in China, I refused to ask for other utensils. If I think about the chopsticks too much, disaster. If I just pick them up, dive in and eat, things go waaaaaay better.

This next thing wasn’t my favorite: sea scallops with a pepper-based sauce. It’s a texture thing – I didn’t like it, but I tried it.

The main event of our evening were these bowls. While similar, Eric catered to my tastes.

Ginny’s bowl (L) Eric’s bowl (R)

Ginny’s – starting at top center, going clockwise: sliced cucumbers, diced white tuna, shredded daikon radish, diced salmon, sliced cucumbers, chopped tuna, avocado and diced yellow tail.

Eric’s – starting at top center, going clockwise: kombu seaweed, salmon, avocado, white tuna, shredded daikon radish, tuna, sliced cucumbers, yellow tail and scallops in the middle. Sprinkled with flying fish eggs (orange stuff).

Dessert had nothing, I mean nothing to do with Asian cooking, but was my request: fried fruit pies. Full disclosure, they were supposed to be peach pies from last year’s Florida peaches we froze. Alas, it was not to be. Ask Eric what happened to the peaches………….. Therefore, at the last minute, Eric had to drive to the grocery store to get pie filling. I requested cherry pie filling and OMG, these fried fruit pies so, so, so delicious.

Another evening we had fried rice, similar but different than our previous renditions. Here was the inspiration. See Eric – tearing pages out of magazines do serve a purpose!

LOVED the thought of putting an egg on this dish. Our fried rice ingredients were bits of pork, sliced carrots and one and half yellow onions. Add a (healthy) drizzle of sirachi sauce and here’s your finished product. Going forward, soft-cooked eggs will always be included.

Now, time for our restaurant dining……………….

Our Asian restaurant choice started with this article seen in The Orlando Sentinel. Soup Dumplings are one of my best memories of living in Shanghai. They’re special. Any time we hear of a place in Central Florida with them, we stop by. Thank you Amy Drew Thompson, Orlando Sentinel food writer.

Before leaving home, the morning started with a Bloody Mary, topped with an oyster. Notice there’s only two, not three. I did not partake. Adrienne was the third for this Asian food adventure.

Shanghai Lane restaurant, located on west Colonial Drive in Orlando. Even their sign has the soup dumplings. 🙂

Another reason this was the real deal – we were the only non-Asian patrons. Just like in China, we ordered a variety of dishes and they arrived sporadically. First to appear was the fried rice. It looked so good, another family nearby decided to order it also.

Next came the star of the show – SOUP DUMPLINGS. We got 2 orders of the pork dumplings (they always come 6 to a tray).

This looked good, especially when the nearby table got it, so Eric went up to add it. Fried bread. Yep, it was fried bread. Probably not going to be a repeat. Fried bread.

This next item was featured in the paper and seen above – fried pork dumplings. They were okay. Hard to eat with chopsticks. Definitely would order more of the soup dumplings – just saying.

Our final order arrived and it was another reminder of our time in China – fried pork cutlet, exactly like we used to get at Din Tai Fung.

Look at those happy smiles!

We’ll be back!

Ginny

Two Orlando Taco Tours

When you can’t travel grandly and broadly, you adjust your plan. We took a few weekends and completed our very own Orlando Taco Tours. There are waaaaaaaay more places than what we visited, but hey! You’ve got to start somewhere. The others will be saved for future Taco Tours!

I’ll agree, this is probably not something most would expect in Central Florida. But, if you dig deep into some of the small enclaves popping up – g.r.e.a.t local food-foraging trips can be created.

We started with a fan-favorite and a repeat of ours: Tako Cheena.

Prior visits did not allow for on-site seating (hence tailgate eats) but with the recent Covid changes and vaccines available it was now an option. Mexican coke (made with cane syrup) and one taco (Pernil Asado – slow roasted marinated pork, spicy mayo, pickled onion & carrot) was my selection of choice.

Eric got the Char Siu BBQ Pork Belly taco (rich fatty cut of pork marinated Catonese style, cabbage and ginger oil). Nope, no photo. I had to take a work phone call and Eric chowed down on his food before I got back. Very eclectic, brightly painted building with a few picnic tables equates to their eating area. A quick shot before we continued to our next stop.

Onward to Hunger St Tacos. The biggest issue here – parking – especially if you go anywhere near lunchtime. I swear they only have 7 parking spots, maybe. And their workers need some of those spots – yikes.

Their mission is to ‘Serve high-quality Mexican street food in a setting that highlights and celebrates modern Mexican culture and art’.

Their dining has always been outside, open-air, under cover. Quite frankly, the building kind of looks like a former gas station that has been given a new life – I like it. Even in Florida, they have prepared for the diversity of weather we get. Seating was in the back of the building with drop-down sides for rain protection and ceiling heaters when we have colder temps. A taco for both of us and some liquid refreshment rounded out this stop.

They have a nice succulent & cacti garden in front. Not plants I’m usually drawn to, but this caught my eye.

Last stop on this day was Reyes Mezcaleria.

Mid-afternoon, there was plenty of space at the bar, giving us plenty of space from other patrons. While not exactly ‘tacos’ it was still Mexican-themed. Michelada drinks (basically a bloody-mary base with beer of choice) and (finally) chips w/green tomatilla sauce & salsa.

Ceviche was a nice change of pace for our selection. It was citrus cured red snapper, red onion, heirloom tomatoes, lime and cilantro – oops, forgot to ask for that to be left off. Don’t really like that herb, but can tolerate it if I have to.

Taco Tour Day #1 complete.

Taco Tour #2 started with Taqueria Ameca – this is the real deal. We were the only ‘gringos’ inside.

Another michelada (Eric) and Mexican coke (me) accompanied our 3 tacos (with homemade tortillas – just saying!). Presentation of their michelada in the styrofoam cup was a bit off-putting, but Eric (graciously) let me have a few sips and it was mighty tasty.

This WILL be a repeat in the future – very authentic.

Onward to the next stop……………….Black RoosterTaqueria.

It is a tiny little place and their website had a phrase I can honestly say I’ve never heard. To quote info from their website ‘The husband/wife team’s mission was to create a place where delicious food is swiftly serviced and enjoyed by people with a passion for art, sustainability and real ingredients. Their concept is ‘Farm to Taco’.’ Hmmm. I like that last phrase ‘Farm to Taco’.

We squeezed in along a bar facing the street, still trying to maintain covid distance from others. First arrival were the chips and accompanying dips: guacamole and tomatillo.

Tacos arrived soon after. Chicken (L) for me and pork fat (R) for Eric. LOVE the thinly sliced radishes on top for crunch.

We really had planned on one more Taco stop…………………..but the draw of pretzels from a nearby brewery pulled us. One accompanied with beer cheese or mustard dip (left) and the dessert taco (right), topped with cinnamon sugar and a cream cheese dip. OMG!!! Hands down the dessert taco was my fave!

Closing this post with a week of Eric’s Mexican meals that closely followed our taco tours. The protein in Eric’s tacos were fried trout (caught by us not that long ago) with chopped cabbage from our garden and avocado topped with a spicy mayo.

It’s time for Florida’s sweet corn to arrive in local grocery stores. Last year was our first foray into street corn – and it will be repeated, lots.

Add in a cheese & jalapeno quesadilla and dinner was complete.

This meal was just one example of our home-life furlough during Covid. It gave us time to more widely explore a variety of cuisines, indulge in time for their creation and enjoy eating at home. There is a silver lining – if you just look for it.

Ginny

Those drinks on the white tray……..Eric’s home-made michelada base and Mexican beer. Everything for this meal was delicioso!

S.G.I. 2021 Chapter 5

Can I just say that work REALLY interferes with writing blog posts! Of course finishing this up has n.o.t.h.i.n.g to do with my procastination for that last vacation blog post from a trip. Nope.

Regardless, let’s put this one to bed…………………

The Beach. Even in the winter months, there is still beauty along the surf and in the sand.

One enterprising family created this and so far, the surf had not destroyed it. Not sure how long before the surf crushes their creation.

A little further, sand, water and wood made an interesting photo. It kind of looks like a castle.

Weather at the end of the week was less than charming, but it didn’t stop our anglers.

Dennis was sure he could catch something on the other side of the rocks.

Just to prove that I walked down in ‘yucky’ weather……………..the hood is up for a reason, it’s lightly raining.

Luckily for me (and Warner) he hooked a fish and the action began.

Team effort – remember? Dad gets to climb over the wet, slippery, dare I say ‘treacherous’ rocks to net the catch.

Once again, it was a team effort, as Warner (somewhat) patiently waits for the verdict concerning length of his catch.

Yeah! It is within the slot. The left photo had a freshly caught redfish (minutes out of the water) and the right photo a redfish (after some time on ice) back at the rental after everyone cleaned and warmed up.

Catching such a beauty was a nice way to end the week, fishing The Cut.

Let’s get back to the meals………

Sometimes you need meat, like these burgers and dogs. Grilled outside gave a nice char to them.

Add in some beans and baked potato wedges – and you have a meal.

The last night’s vacation meal is usually a bit over the top, on purpose. We’re celebrating a week with good friends and good memories in a special place. This trip was no different.

With shrimp being locally caught, it is always included in the meal planning. A trip to Dail’s was an easy task. It’s located midway on the island. This time the final product were stuffed with crab.

Our fish for the evening was redfish, blackened. It is a production. Fillets are prepped, along with the necessary butter.

Warner and Eric took care of lighting the grill. Yes, it got dark before we ate.

No matter, the fish was mighty tasty. Add in the green beans and rice and the meal was (mostly) complete.

I say mostly complete, because you ‘need to fill in the cracks’ with ice cream.

Alas, the week on S.G.I. was over except for a last few group shots. Dennis staged this one.

While I wanted a photo on the beach. Yes, the wind was still blowing.

I don’t know Dennis, I may like your photo better. 🙂

You may have noticed another member of our vacation party which made their photo debut above. Remy. It took him a bit of time to get used to us – he was very protective of his family of four. By the end of the week, he came around. That and I was the only one in the house for a short time on Saturday.

I’m not really a dog person, but did enjoy his antics throughout the week. Although Eric fed him tidbits of meat and sat as his feet during dinner – you never knew what Remy was thinking.

So ended another fun-filled week with friends at S.G.I.

Ginny

Eric’s Easter Eats or E3

Easter Eating for Eric was a time for a special meal and this year was no different. He had been planning this for a number of days. Me? My plans involved a bunny and plants. We named her Georgette.

We started our morning with early brunch at ROOT & BRANCH bistro + bar, in Clermont. It’s a nice local chef-owned eating establishment having cozy (but spaced out) seating and a locally-sourced menu. Their farm to table concept incorporates ingredients sourced from farms within a 200 mile radius of Orlando.

While waiting for a plate of their delicious homemade biscuits, we enjoyed a beverage.

Snapaloopza Spritzer on left, Bloody Maria on right.

Drinks were quickly followed by the biscuits – BTW ordered before the drinks! Yes, we were that determined to order them.

Biscuits with a side of strawberry preserves.

Oops, another bunny photo of Georgette. Hanging out in the driveway with the blue sage.

I ordered the Egg Sammie and almost forgot to take a photo. Deliclious eggs were accompanied with smoky cheddar cheese, sitting on a slab of ham. Mixed cut potatoes accompanied my meal. You can almost see my sammie at the bottom of the photo.

Eric ordered a new entre for himself: House Benedict (one of my previous choices and a top contender for me).

We were waaaaaaay too full to order any dessert. Let’s just say we were keeping any extra space for our afternoon Easter meal prepared by Eric.

We leisurely enjoyed the fine weather (Yes, really! Excellent weather, sun, with clouds, temps in the 70s) as the meat was cooking. What meat you ask?????? Hang on, you’ll see very soon. We broke up the afternoon with a few other delicacies, Texas oysters. Definitely not something that was any part of my Easter tradition growing up, but hey! We live in Florida.

While they were very tasty, I was ‘jonesing’ for some salty popcorn. Never expected that did you. It’s a typical Sunday snack when we’re out and about tasting craft brews.

Voila!

Eric came outside, grinning from ear to ear…………with a bowl of salty goodness. I knew there was a reason we’ve been married for 26+ years.

Georgette slipped in again! This time sitting with the amaryllis blooming in the back yard. Sneaky bunny.

One of the best ‘foodie’ things resulting from our Iceland trips were adding lamb to our meat menu. Okay, okay, it had always been in Eric’s food realm, not so much mine. He has searched for Icelandic lamb (it’s something very special) but availability is limited, in the fall and generally a special order or request from the butcher. Truthfully, I’d rather journey back to Iceland for my next lamb meal – just saying.

Meat prep included deboning a leg of lamb, salt/pepper/herb rubbing while sitting in the (garage) fridge two days, drying to concentrate the flavors. Braised for 5 hours adding red wine, some garlic and herbs from our garden. Here you go.

Okay, maybe not my most photogenic meat shot, but hey, we were hungry and they were breathing down my neck!

Green beans & new potatoes along with an interesting radish salad rounded out the meal.

Plated

One more thing is needed to take the meal over the top – dessert. Strawberries are a favorite spring treat. Pair them with angel food cake, topped with cream cheese icing and a dollop of freshly whipped cream. This was a meal fit for a king and his family.

Georgette? Where did she go? She’s hiding in our veggie and herb garden. Can you name plants seen below? There are 5.

I can’t believe it. Started a post in the morning and posting before bedtime – that’s a first for me. I’ve got my last 2021 S.G.I. post to complete (yikes – way, way over due) and another one lined up for street tacos.

Soon, I promise.

Ginny

What were those plants with Georgette?

bottom left, clock-wise: kale, cabbage, collards, fennel and bronze fennel. I will admit, the cabbage is hard to see behind Georgette’s head – but it’s there.

Spring has sprung in the Darden Garden

I’m interrupting the SGI saga to show pretty pictures of flowers. 🙂

Typically when Spring arrives it is a very subtle thing. Not this year. While I need to finish the last few days of SGI, upon returning home we had a plethora of things blooming.

With that short introduction………here you go.

Tabebuia chrysotricha – what? How do you pronounce that? It’s tough even I will admit. Much easier to call it a yellow Tab. Another common name is yellow trumpet tree. Hopefully that’s obvious once you see the flowers. Ours was planted in the backyard and I’m guessing approximately 15 years old.

This bougainavillea was also being grown in the back yard. Watch out! Those branches have long thorny spikes.

Looks really bright and colorful – yes? The true flowers are seen in the photo below. That little tiny white thing. The hot pink color that is the most striking are actually bracts.

Another backyard blooming thing is this peach tree.

This is not a typical fruit tree you would expect to see in Florida, but this newer variety doesn’t need as many chill hours to bloom and product fruit. Got to love photos taken with an i-phone!

Terrestrial Orchids. They are also referred to as ground orchids since they are grown in the ground – duh. A great deal of orchids are consider epiphytes and they grow on trees. Years ago I bought a plant – probably at a local plant sale, can’t remember – and it’s kept growing and growing and growing.

You might notice that I have them growing in a pot – 6 pots to be exact. Usually once a year, after they bloom, I repot them since the bulbs get overcrowded and the older bulbs eventually die. This may be the year I finally plant some in the ground. Holy cow! I’m still amazed at the shots from my (old) i-phone.

There’s one more plant(s) blooming in the backyard – azaleas.

After moving in, we wanted some separation from our neighbors, not necessarily a fence. This was a perfect solution.

Onward to the front yard.

Chickasaw plum, also known as Cherokee plum, Florida sand plum or sandhill plum – who knew? I just wanted to double-check my spelling and this popped up. Mr Google says it is a North American plum-bearing tree, cultivated before the arrival of Europeans.

I’ve been cutting a branch and putting them in my weekly floral arrangements that I take to work. It adds a different shape and interest in my bouquet.

Couldn’t resist a shot of these Johnny Jump ups – LOVE the name.

I mean really, most people would think they were pansies. However, the flowers are much smaller, probably about an inch in diameter. Unless you get a close up……….such an interesting pattern of colors.

I always, and I mean a.l.w.a.y.s have at least one pot of geraniums. They are great plants for the Florida winter. I’ve had pretty good luck keeping them through our hot, muggy summer if they’re placed in a shady or north-facing spot.

You’ve got to cut the stems and add them to your bouquets! It is a game-changer.

For years, we’ve called this plant Russian Sage – it’s not. Yes, it is a sage plant, but the name has stuck. Eric knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Here’s the best thing (besides the fuzzy flowers) it is v.e.r.y. easy to propagate new plants. Cut growing tips 4-6″, strip off the bottom leaves, stick into a well-mixed potting medium (ie, soil) and place in a spot that has filtered light. It roots fairly quickly and can be planted.

A year ago, we discovered a pair of nesting hawks was hanging around the neighborhood. Drinking my coffee one morning, this guy showed up. Nope, not a flower, but for me………it’s a sign of spring.

Ginny

S.G.I. 2021 Chapter 4

Rain greeted us mid-week.

Along with fog – thick as pea soup. Yikes! Driving into town, you can barely see the river from the Apalachicola bridge.

They say take lemons and make lemonade. We’re taking rain and eating oysters! The day was the perfect time to head west for Indian Pass Raw Bar. Outside seating in a screened room was perfect for the current Covid environment.

This is the place that operates on a honor system.

First up was oysters two ways: raw and baked.

Preceded by some fish dip and cups of seafood gumbo.

Cole slaw was my choice of side, to go along with my chicken tenders – sorry Eric. At least the corn dogs were not my choice. Spoiler alert – they were Audry’s, both of them.

Topped it off with a slice of key lime pie before heading back to Apalachicola. BTW – Eric and I both got our own slices. That makes a lot more sense if you read the blog posts for S.G.I. 2020. 🙂

A trip into town was not complete without going to Piggly Wiggly.

I am always amazed at their intense selections. Look at these options for canned artichokes on the top row in the photo – at least 6. My Publix at home doesn’t carry that many! Party-size condiments and veggies underneath. How long would it take to get through that jug of mayo?

What place needs this many BBQ sauces? I stopped counting at 55. Really? Really.

This next photo was intended to show their jelly/jam selections (55+) but then I noticed the nut butters (15+) and that doesn’t count the ones chopped out of my photo.

Okay, you can laugh now. I love to visit grocery stores when we travel. There are usually items I’ve never seen, locally-made product (great for souvenirs or gifts) and just ‘stuff’ that is interesting. Eric just lets me wander as he gathers items on his grocery list.

Still two more stops before leaving town: 13 Mile Seafood Market and OCB. Googled 13 Mile Brand and discovered the name refers to a tiny community 13 miles west of Apalachicola. The family business began in 1957 and four generations harvest oysters, shrimp and fish from the Apalachicola Bay and Gulf of Mexico. Their seafood market opened in 2009 along the Apalachicola River.

Directly behind the seafood market is one of their shrimp boats.

OCB = Oyster City Brewing. Instead of cans, he gets the growlers filled. Also picked up their local newsletter The Forgotten Coastline. It is always interesting reading.

Oops, meant to include a third stop – our lot. It looks rough and definitely needs mowing and some tree trimming cleanup. It’s just not an attractive sight. Ugh.

But no, we can’t head to the rental yet. On SGI are several local businesses and one we occasional visit is Sometimes It’s Hotter. Usually it’s to pick up some locally-baked bread, which was our original intent this day.

They have an amazing wine selection for such a small community. This is only 1 of 4 walls that contain their wine choices.

Although not a purchase – since we make our own – I like they have things made from the area.

By the time we got back, the rain had stopped and I had a chance to walk to the beach. I started walking along the coastline, no storm in sight, just clouds. But boy, was I glad I wore my raincoat. The weather changed that fast and I would have been soaked in just a few minutes.

One more post is coming to finish out the week. Stay tuned.

Ginny

S.G.I. 2021 Chapter 3

Ahhh, the meals. Some could argue this is the best part of any vacation. Traveling with Eric, food is never far from our agenda. SGI food is mostly (but not always!) about a meal that is a ‘production’. And by that I mean it is a good thing.

Our first production meal was Paella. A Spanish rice dish, generally accepted as originating in Valencia, Spain. A unique seasoning associated with this dish is saffron. Depending upon your location the veggies and meats can vary. We’re using clams from Cedar Key, Florida and shrimp from the surrounding bay.

No finished photo, we were too busy eating this delicious dish. Maybe next time.

Another evening turned into a (former) typical SGI meal: fried fish and fried shrimp.

Sushi, Poke’ bowl and rolls. Who would have guessed in those first SGI trips I would be eating raw fish for dinner. And, who would have guessed that a sushi mat needed to be packed from home. And, who would have guessed that you could find a sushi mat kit on the island! Below are the results, courtesy of Dennis.

This production involved Eric and Dennis.

The shrimp were steamed before topping the rice, along with a slab of raw tuna, sliced thinly for the other offering. Someone made plans………otherwise why would you pack black sesame seeds – just saying.

The Poke’ bowl I mentioned earlier………….here it is with some asian-marinated and grilled redfish, tuna, cucumber, shrimp and avocado.

Etouffee, a dish found in both Cajun and Creole cuisines, typically served with shellfish over rice. Etouffee is French for ‘smothered’. Also, one of Eric’s favorite dishes to prepare and eat. Warner prepped the shrimp.

While Eric chopped some green onions. Along the side you can see part of the ‘trinity’: onions, celery and bell pepper, chopped and diced.

Yeah, I got a photo of the finished meal.

Here was a first for us (really, just Eric and myself)………….baked, lightly seasoned, crisp greens. Ansley had done this at home and it was a great idea to use some of the greens we ‘gifted’ them from our garden. Collards, mustard greens and kale were trimmed for step 1.

Before tossing with olive oil, salt and freshly chopped rosemary for Step 2.

Then came the waiting game in a low and slow oven. Very nice and quite tasty! Nope, no photo. 😦

Prior to any S.G.I. trip, Eric usually brings along some home-made frozen food. It was perfect for lunches. Thaw, heat and serve. Can’t get much easier – at least for me.

A week prior to the trip, Eric smoked a chicken and made gumbo – my absolute favorite and always requested recipe from Eric’s repertre’. Gumbo comes from the Bantu langage, meaning okra, a typical ingredient used for thickening. It’s defined as ‘aromatic soup-stew charactistic of Creole cuisine’. Eric always has to serve it over rice. Me? I can eat it with or without rice. Yes, there are bits of okra in Eric’s gumbo.

We also brought some frozen chili. Love my beans in chili. Can you see them below? Eric – maybe a few more beans next time?

Potage soup – what is that? Old French calls this ‘food cooked in a pot’. It had its origins in the medieval cuisine of northern France. It’s different every time and created from what it’s on hand. Ours was composed of potatoes, carrots home grown arugula & mustard greens. Add in a drizzle of creme fresche and you have a tasty, warming meal.

And a frozen package of our cooked greens. We periodically harvest our greens in the winter and blanch before putting them up to serve the remainder of the year. Those ‘white’ pieces of goodness in the pot – pork, for extra seasoning.

My contribution………………..frozen cookie dough balls. One evening I actually baked them, while the rest of the week, they were eaten as is.

Why did I include the shot below? Peas. These were supposed to be a part of the paella and they were missed. Sorry Dennis. Maybe Eric will remember next time.

Ginny

S.G.I. 2021 Chapter 2

The previous post I mentioned The Cut. Formally it was known as Bob Sike’s Cut. A google search revealed it as the #2 activity from TripAdvisor. BTW – #1 was the State Park, ironically at the opposite end of the island. Ha! It’s odd this being #2 since they only way to access this area is (1) rent/own a place inside The Plantation or (2) have a boating vessel to get you there.

But I digress. It was created in 1954 and I found an on-line photo from that time. It was named for Bob Sikes, a prominent politician from this area. He was a state representative for the US Congress 1941 – 1978.

It’s creation was for efficiency, giving more direct access to the Gulf – both for recreational fishermen and commercial operations. Here is a more recent photo I found on the internet. Weather and hurricanes have taken their toll. And yes, so has development. Looking at the bottom photo you can see some docks and houses have been built. This area is gated off – a gated community within a gated community.

Take a glance as the anglers. You can definitely see the rocks that keep The Cut channel open.

Notice all the coats? These were the temps that greeted us one morning. Add in the wind, the moistness, and sitting on the rocks – you have one cold day.

It wasn’t too bad walking to The Cut to grab my photos but was a real bear walking back. Not running today.

So how was the fishing? See for yourself. Audrey was the first angler to hook a keeper redfish. That wording was deliberate. She hooked it, Eric reeled it in and Warner netted the fish. Definitely a team effort.

Dennis caught this beauty. There are a minimum of 10 ‘spots’ on this Redfish and we only see one side………..

Eric pulled this one in – out of the slot, thus after a quick photo it went back into the water. Redfish this size tend to be the females and are a breeding size and are not kept to ensure the Redfish population continues. This lady is only showing 1 spot near the fin.

The following day Dennis caught another redfish.

Winter fishing (for us, well not me) was all about The Cut. Next up, some of the fabulous meals that sustained us during the week.

Ginny