Prepping for Fall / Tagine Cooking a Moroccan Dish with Chef George

Farmer’s Market Tomatoes, Mount Juliet, TN

What a productive Saturday! George got out and ran some errands – mainly yard sale, farmer’s market stop for tomatoes, and a store run. Then he washed his car, worked on finances and other things on his list. I enjoyed my day setting about the house, doing laundry, dusting and putting out the fall decor, cleaning out drawers in the kitchen and reorganizing a few things. It was a beautiful thing.

Do we have enough onions?

We were going to need some more onions for all the things we were making this weekend so George bought another (and probably the final) bag of Vidalia onions. We love them for their sweetness. Likely though we’ll be having to eat some baked in foil to eat before the spoil. And that is ok. They are good with butter salt and pepper and baked like that. I like them finally chopped though or at least in rings where they are thin when they come out of the oven.

I opened the drawer for something and was just appalled. I cannot stand disorganization. This was unacceptable. It’s like a hurricane went through the drawer. It’s probably been 3 years before it’s been cleaned out and organized. So yesterday, even though it was unplanned, I quickly just took everything out and reorganized. Some things did not go back in but went in other places.

Not Acceptable (BEFORE)
Ahhhh, much better (AFTER)

I counted NINE things of tape. I had bought more because I thought we were getting low. HELLOOOOOO, they were just hidden.

Ummmmm, really?

So yeah it’s nice to have the right size stopper for a wine bottle and a short one so it will go in the fridge. But, ummm, do we usually have this many open at once? I mean, really?

Saying Good-Bye to Summer Decor

I put away some of the springy items. I’ll put these back in January after Christmas for nice clean fresh look. With so much going on downstairs, I think I’ll just pop this box over in the sunroom out of the way until January. Probably no one will notice nor care. We are not in there much. But the sunroom is clean though for these fall days where we will temporarily get to enjoy some time in there.

I also picked out a few cookbooks to pick some fall/winter recipes for the next few months. My cooking is minimal but I like to find recipes to fix. Sometimes George will fix them or I will fix them. More often than not, it will go on the board or a list for months before I ever fix it – if I even do. But it gives me great fun to think about it. I just have a tendency to overplan my life and fleshing it out is harder to do, but I enjoy thinking about it and planning it anyway. But sometimes I really do end up cooking and a few things have become a classic or fixed again: BBQ meatloaf, Irish Stew, Spaghetti, Alfredo, Amish Pork Chops, Air Fried Hot Chicken, Soups, Salads, and Chocolate Fudge Pie. We’ll see what happens, but these are on the coffee table by my recliner – well Mom sits in my recliner and I have a sofa end recliner, temporarily. lol. I’ll look through and pick some meals. Maybe I’ll make a list like George. What am I saying? He has a whole excel spreadsheet!

George’s Tagine Cooking

His dish looked so pretty last night as he prepared and cooked a beef, leek, and onion dish with peppers and tomatoes.

It cooks in the cone shaped clay cookery called the “Tagine” (Moroccan type of cooking and also his Christmas present). You kinda stir fry the meat and veggies a bit with the “diffuser” so the clay doesn’t crack with the heat. You can see the handle of the diffuser coming out of the back. Then he puts the lighter veggies like tomatoes on top and it steams it when you put the cone on and the steam comes out the top. It looks like a volcano. It cooks pretty quickly. I think the main thing is like any other dish – the chopping and dicing has to happen first.

Yeah the spoon is on the wrong side I think right? But we don’t pay any attention to those rules here! As long as there are utensils near by we are good! I had these other place mats underneath, already there as I wasn’t sure these would show up (delivered by Amazon) by dinner time. I just set them on top of the other placemats. I think I kinda like it that way! It also keeps them from sliding around so much and gives it more depth. What do you think? With the other place mat or by itself????

So the fall placemats came in yesterday mid-afternoon – just in time for the fall decor! The are reversible. I think there are poppy’s on the other side? I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the other side, but I think it will be cute for February placemats with the red. Anyway, I loved the look of the placemats. I also added a can of silverware to the table since I had two sets. Now to make sure the correct set gets added back to the “can” on the table so it’s there when we need it. I’ll have to manage that one.

Of course this dining room table is big enough to house us on one end and George’s office on the other end. He is working one day a week from home. It was a “summer thing” and not a “dreaded illness avoidance” type thing. Anyway, we are graced with the back of a computer while we eat (rolling eyes) but what can you do? His other personal office is in Mom’s bedroom, LOL. Bless him, he gets to go in there when Mom’s in her recliner. I told him we could move out a china cabinet or move something around in the living room temporarily or even in his bedroom if he could let go of some stuff but he didn’t want to change anything around. We’d already moved a lot. But this table was about the only quick option for his work. I’ve worked there before too and it is a good set up for temporary time frame.

I’ve shared so many photos already in this blog post. So tomorrow I’ll share some of the fall decor pics.

I’m not sure what today’s plan is. I’ll see – we had talked about having a big breakfast today. But then Mom and I said we might grab lunch out before going to the store. I’m going to the store. Not sure if she is going with me or not. I am going to get a few things for the work week mainly. I don’t really want to go anywhere tomorrow on Labor Day. I guess a store will be open for a few hours but I’m not getting out tomorrow.

Today’s plan still a bit up in the air for the brunch or lunch but I’ll be doing these things today:

  • Ironing
  • Soaking the beans for tomorrow’s baked beans
  • Changing George’s sheets
  • Changing my watch band to the tan one instead of the white.
  • Work on some Christmas lists, shopping ideas – I might not have time later
  • Pick out my free audible book for September
  • Unset my alarm for tomorrow morning
  • Might start the puzzle
  • Work on photo/video files
  • Pick out 3 recipes for the future so I can be ready to go
  • Help plan the menu board
  • Work on the project list if any time left
  • Kinda like to make some homemade bread but thinking that is planning too much – depends on time. 😉

Coffee tastes better on a morning when you don’t have to rush out the door. I’ve already done my devo and reading for the day. It’s currently raining and will likely continue over the next few hours or so – I think. I’ve not really checked the weather. I just checked radar and it’s here!

What are you making for Labor Day? And When are YOU fall decorating?

Meanwhile in Texas

River goes to a college football game

I had to google which game it was. I think it was AT&T stadium – Stanford vs K-State. Look at this little booger! He is half a person already! I’m sure he is heavy! He is a big buckaroo for sure! ;-). Bless him. Those legs! I have to show you his football shirt! I guess he’s gonna love football!

And we’re off….Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday! This 3 day weekend has been such a blessing so far.

Making a Bucket List for Summer

So we are “back in business”! Now that things are getting back to normal – whatever normal was, we are getting our plans on and bucket listing again. Our bucket list looks quite a bit different than someone in their 30’s or 40’s but these are 1)Things we want to do by end of summer. 2) Ideas for places we would really like to eat 3) Places we would like to go if given the chance. 3) Meals out with a few friends. 4) Need to do items (not very many) 5) Dishes we really want to cook 6) Sometimes personal to do items are on there. 7) Sometimes cleaning/chores get put on there esp if they are big ones.

We have a lot of restaurants we want to take Mom to and Mom’s wishes were put on the list. There are a lot of new restaurants since COVID that we want to try.

I have been wanting to get this bucket list done since early May but two months later, here we are. It’s just been difficult to find the time as really – the bucket list is a non-essential item. It’s a fun thing. We have been nose the grindstone for two months with not much time for planning or even thinking about non-essential items. It took forever just to find time to do this list, so you know we’ve not had much time to even think about doing any of these things other than in conversation (“one day”).

Ahhhh, so this simple bucket list means the world to me. It’s an icon – a picture of normal, a picture of happy times, a picture of doing fun things together, or meeting goals, or getting things accomplished.

It’ll be fun to see what we get done. It’s not a list to make you hurry, unless you look at it like “let’s hurry up and have fun”. The list helps us remember when we are planning our weekends, of all the options we have. Or in spare time – what our goals are. It keeps it in the forefront of our minds.

There are so many restaurants we would like to go to we actually have a separate restaurant list, lol. In the pic above you can see the little short list. I think we made that back when we planned our anniversary.

Make Your Own Bucket List

It’s fun to sit back with a pen and a cup of coffee and write down all the things you would like to do, places you would like to go, books you wanna read, hikes you wanna do, places you wanna shop….whatever your hype is.

Then while sitting with the family – at a table or restaurant – have a pen and paper handy – or write on a napkin as we have, and ask what the family members would like to do, goals they have, things they want to do. Some things may surprise you!

Then just buy some poster board (the half cut ones work great). I created a little bucket list posting area of our kitchen. And I use a black sharpie.

It’s good to do them by season. I usually do about three per year as it seems to work out better than doing four.

Winter into Spring, Summer, Fall/Christmas. Mainly I’m too busy in the fall to do the winter one as we have more to do and are busier that time of year so I have to clump part of winter in the fall one and the last part of winter into the spring one, lol. It works.

BUCKET LIST FOR MEAL PLANNING

We also have a chalkboard that we use for meal planning. If you have followed my blog for long, you have seen it. We have a fairly large black board and we list all the meals we want to fix on one side (we also look in our freezer and see what we have already) and then we plan meals off of that board on the other side.

I went to the store last night after a VERY long 11 hour day at work yesterday. Always funny to see extra things on your menu. Was it something we told Alexa she didn’t understand? Or was it George playing tricks? I think it was the latter. But you never know! lol. One thing’s for sure – we don’t need any extra fat butts around here in these parts! lol I’m scared to think about what a camel pump is. :-O

Chicken in a Reynolds Oven Bag

Ok, so….buy those Reynold’s Oven bags, and then plan some chicken or steak dinners- or pork chops – I’m sure you could use just about any meat. The box had a chicken recipe on the back for an example. I followed it, sort of. Mom was fixing the vegetables as we’d been to the farmers market so I only added onion and green pepper.

I wanted my chicken to marinate first so I just used storage bags to let them marinate in the fridge for a while in Italian dressing.

Here’s what I used.

We keep a pretty full fridge going! And you can see our July 4 – other half – of the watermelon!

I just think the dinner in the bag thing is a great option for “what’s for dinner”. It really made the chicken tender cooked in an hour’s time. I had a lot of chicken in one bag. Very tender. For chicken – I had two types – bone in with the skin and no bone, skinless- the chicken with no bone/skinless turned out much better with better flavor. But they were both good.

I really like cooking the chicken with skin/bone in – in the air fryer with a little bit of Nashville hot seasonings. Oh it is so crispy and good. The key is adding olive oil rub on top of and under the skin, and putting your seasonings on and under the skin pocket. So flavorful! I am glad I learned to put rubs UNDER the skin pockets!

Well that is about all I know other than…..

We picked up my car from the shop after work yesterday too (yes we were really late eating dinner, but Mom was patient with us). I know it’s hard for her to eat so late and her eating schedule has changed a bit. It was hard for me too, to eat so late, but I learned to snack a little if I needed to because b/w 11 a.m. when I eat lunch and 7 or 8 p.m. is a long time. Anyway, oil was leaking so they had to fix a seal and do an oil change as well and that was $700 ish at Firestone. I think that is high, but we get our cars back very quickly when we leave them there. They have been very customer oriented. So there is that. Very friendly here.

I guess I better get to work. Busy week cramming five days into four, but most of that was yesterday. I’ve about caught up with the normal schedule, but it is quarter end and very busy. The real success of “how payroll went” will be determined on Friday when we see how many did/didn’t get paid properly. We’ll see how many calls I get. Just a lot going on that would make it easy for mistakes to be made. Someone added time on a termed employee yesterday that plugged up our payroll processing/balancing and then someone made a mistake while data entering something that messed up the banking deposits again, but those were easily found/fixed. Also someone entered a punch with a date of 2002! lol. All of these probably caused about an hour and half delay total. But I got through it. Now to get the “after payroll” stuff done and tomorrow and Friday will focus on quarter end and working on payroll errors where PTO’s were not turned in, time not turned in etc. Should be a fun Friday for that. Also have to work on HOL pay some this week. So it’ll be a busy one. OH did I mention it was quarter end? I won’t have a lot of time this week to work on it but I should get some. It’ll be dependent upon how many of the plants forgot to pay things as to how much time I have to work on it. I may be busy fixing errors and doing back pay, creating emergency checks and funding through pay cards. lol. Might as well expect it. That way if it doesn’t happen I will be pleasantly surprised. Yea haw!

So….what is on YOUR BUCKET LIST THIS SUMMER? I hope you do one, even if it’s just for yourself!

Meanwhile back in TEXAS! Little Roo in his Jammies!

Office Decor Finished, Revelations, Heaven, Tagine Cooking, Collagen, and the Weekend, Whew!

So the chair corner is complete! The table is in, the pillow is in, the throw added, the lamp in place, the books in the holder, and a drink on top! George had to help with the table. I couldn’t get the first screw in as the grooves were not very good and bolt would not screw on it. George was able to force it and gave me tips on how to do these things, such as Lefty Loosy and Righty Tighty. LOL LOL

I debated back and forth about keeping the White Board on the wall but the look just defeated me. So it had to change! The White Board was moved.

The white board ended up in the corner there by the desk. It looks better there. I use it a lot to keep me focused on things that are not really on a to do list but I want to remember. So I’m taking these with my camera and I’m just not good at the indoor lighting yet. I probably needed a flash to tell you the truth. I haven’t taken many lessons yet. They were even hard to fix with lighting effects. But I’ll get there one day when I have time to resume the lessons.

I am happy with the office changes. I think it meets my purposes now much better. The chair was an excellent addition for meeting my needs. Its much more enticing to do a devo and prayer now than it is at the desk which pulls you into the computer instead of writing and studying.

As mentioned before, I still wanted that side table there for projects. I needed the horizontal surface! And of course you see that Roger is there. We were putting the table together and he fell asleep there. Yes he is wearing a diaper!

I pulled some little signs from my “beachy” spare bedroom and added the sign board over the chair.

And the Thankful pillow…..warms my heart and reminds me to be thankful for all of our blessings and I will see it every morning when I approach the chair. Thankfulness is a part of my written prayers to God in my Prayer journal.

Revelations, How the Earth Ends

I finished the book of Revelation this week. Wow! What an ending. If you want to see how it all ends, go check it out. It’s quite the show. It will top every block buster you have ever seen. I once thought it was hard to understand Revelations. I had always approached it with much trepidation. And in reading it I think it was not so much hard to understand as just hard to imagine. Most of us in our lives are just not used to seeing such graphic scenes. We are told in this book, that you are blessed if you read it. You know me, I’m always wondering how or why we are blessed for reading it. I can think of several reasons:

  1. Gosh while all that was going on if you are present for it, at least you will know how it ends.
  2. And you will know what is coming.
  3. And you will know what things are represented and why – the 7 lampstands, for example, represent the 7 churches of Asia.
  4. You see the reward in descriptive beautiful detail (of heaven, the New Jerusalem) and to hold on to your faith regardless.
  5. You know not to accept “the mark of the beast” in which people accept it to worship the one who has 666 on his forehead.

I did a screenshot of this on the internet showing the jewels that are contained in heaven. Although two of these are different from what the Bible says (perhaps they have two names, but I’m not totally familiar with some of these gems).

However, for the most part we can expect these gems to be in heaven. I really had not “taken in” the description of heaven so much other than remembering that the streets were of gold, the gates were pearly, and there would be no night, no crying, no death, no pain. But I really “took in” the reading about heaven. If I understood correctly the actual gates are big huge pearls – not made of pearls but each gate made of one big pearl and have the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel inscribed. Wow. That’s big. There are twelve foundation stones in the wall surrounding heaven, representing the 12 apostles of the Lamb.

I did some research on how big heaven is based on the Biblical definitions of “stadia” and “cubits”, which you have no choice but to look up on the internet really and see how many feet are in them. And do the math. I had come up with at minimum 1379.54 miles and as big as 1431.81 miles. Somewhere I read on the internet where they calculated about 1500. I was not far off. My math is only as good as the definitions of stadia and cubits as found on the internet. I screenshot this giving us North Americans some perspective of the size of heaven. So approx 1500 in width, length, and height!

And this is what I wanted to do when I put this room together. A place to study, learn, grow, teach, share, be creative, and go from there. So I’ve put the new room to purpose!

Tagine Cooking

George cooked with the Tagine I bought him for Christmas. Tagines are a Moroccan style of cooking. You layer meats and veggies along with oils and herbs and spices. Part of it, is the steam that rises through it that helps it to cook. Our tagine is glazed which means that it doesn’t have to be seasoned before cooking.

You start with butter and then keep adding the ingredients. And BTW, I video’d this for a future YouTube Vlog so it’ll be there. Here were the ingredients he used. Candle not included, and neither is the dog food over in the corner, LOL.

Other than the chopping it didn’t seem to take too long to cook. About like anything else – 40 minutes or so. The sweet potatoes almost did not get done, but they were done just enough. He added frozen peas and also you cannot see that there is preserved lemon on the table as well as onion and garlic. He used the spice in the blue can which is Ras El Hanout a Moroccan Spice. Neither can you see the Yogurt and cilantro we added to each plate at the end. See final result down below and you can see it there.

To describe what Ras El Hanout is I’ve copied a blurb from Google.

The mixture usually consists of over a dozen spices, in different proportions. Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric.”

Since we plan to cook with this quite a bit (maybe some weight loss if didn’t add that french bread on the side which gathered the juices and was exquisite!) – anyway, since we plan to cook with this a bit, I decided it was a MUST for him to have this spice already blended as opposed to making our own.

What surprised me was:

  1. How good the tomatoes were.
  2. The preserved lemon added a lot of distinct flavor that did not taste like lemon juice.
  3. How good that the yogurt was to spread around on top, that added a lot of flavor and reminded me of greek food and their yogurt cucumber dressing.
  4. The couscous was really good underneath it all and
  5. The french bread (baguette sliced) was sooooo good to soak up the juices. Normally I don’t like any bread soggy but this was perfection as you still had the crusty structure to the french baguette slice.

This was a basic beef recipe, which George wanted to start out with. Next he is going for lamb. But this recipe here is a keeper. I think I could eat out of the Tagine every night and be happy. I’m posting this pic below for a 2nd time so you can notice the diffuser here underneath the Tagine – that was recommended to keep the heat source from cracking the pot with changes in temps. While you can only see its handle, it is a metal plate of sorts that diffuses the heat gradually. The Tagine can also go into an oven as well and be transferred back and forth for certain dishes.

Enjoying the Weekend

Gosh we enjoyed our day yesterday, both getting to do things we love and enjoy as well as doing some work too. Got some laundry done and worked on the office as you saw. Studied and organized my world a bit. I videod a lot of things yesterday which took considerable time. I videod the office additions and George’s cooking and also him making our drinks. He made a Paloma for me which was recommended to go with the meal. He made a bloody mary for him.

I fixed a big bowl of popcorn and watched a YouTube show or two. And I got the back up drive and the external hard drive ordered! Yay! That means next weekend I can back up and download Big Sur as I’ve been talking about forever!

I opened up my Collagen Elixer and will start taking it today. I’ll let you know how it works. Here’s what is in it. I’m interested to see how it tastes. Hold on – I’m gonna go get it now while I’m doing this blog entry. LOL

Ok, surprisingly it tastes like COMMUNION at church. It’s like a grape drink. So it has a marine collagen blend, biotin, zinc, vitamin C and acerola berry extract among other things. Oh I love this taste. I may not be able to give this up. lol I also like the glass bottles. Although I’m not sure what you could do with them. I look forward to THAT everyday – Wow! I am taking a pic every day to see if I notice a difference.

A quick google of what studies say:

Some studies show that taking collagen supplements for several months can improve skin elasticity, (i.e., wrinkles and roughness) as well as signs of aging. Others have shown that consuming collagen can increase density in bones weakened with age and can improve joint, back and knee pain.

I also have figured out that Saturday is just a great filming day! I get up and after coffee and blog, go take a shower and fix myself up with hair and makeup! Then I can “vlog” til my hearts content, LOL. I did a few videos without a lot of make up and hair, and I was not happy with it!

I’ve also decided I’m enjoying the longer version of my hair and I probably need to keep doing it myself. It’s actually how I’ve wanted my hair all along – or close to it. I’m still learning how to style it while it’s longer. Like the bangs, mmmm I’m not sure about having them roll under so much, but I like the curls on the side coming into my face. I found a hairspray that holds pretty good w/o being sticky. Probably not to days end though. Here’s the back. I’m due for another trim though – just slightly – but this length is good. I always wanted my hair to do this, even back in highschool but I had to get a perm back then to do it. Now I just use my curling/blowdryer – it’s a blow dryer with brush attachments and works better than anything I’ve ever owned. And quickly too.

The Rest of the Weekend

Here’s George’s to do list pad on the Fridge! Seemed like a good place to insert that pic as I talk about my to do list today.

Things I have to do today:

  • Put my Vitamins in the little daily holders, along with the BP Meds
  • Finish laundry
  • Iron
  • Fix Beef Stew for tonight
  • Check the Weather for this week
  • Plan my outfits (it helps so much each morning to have this all mapped out already)
  • Do my nails

Things I Really SHOULD do today:

  • Clean house a bit more (vacuum/dust/pick up/put up)
  • Put our normal nic nacs back out from where I took them up to put out Christmas
  • Decide where we are going for Valentines Dinner in case we need reservations
  • Set up my next autoshop on THAT SYSTEM I DO.
  • Do the software update for my phone and Apple Watch.
  • Continue to clear of emails
  • Look up the next recipe (I’ve cooked twice this week, and want to continue to help out in the kitchen)
  • Look into Elder Care/Senior Care (Basically how to care for aging parent period – I know NOTHING!)

Things I WANT TO DO today:

  • Start a Spring Check List
  • Do a camera lesson
  • Watch YouTube Shows
  • Read
  • Work on a New Intro for the Videos
  • Start working on getting the videos/photos I’ve taken into their respective “video files”
  • Plan future videos, although they do a good job of just happening

So ok quite the blog entry today! I need to go DO SOMETHING, AnYtHinG from these lists! ha.