Beach · summer · Surprise · Vacation

Weekend Getaway part 1

Jeff and I don’t really get away from the ranch very often.  Usually people come visit us, like Misha and Jimmy.  Plus we always have animals to see after, which makes trips a little hard.  But this summer we managed two long weekend trips.

This past weekend we ventured to Galveston.  My old stomping grounds.  Oh how I love the beach!  It is my happy place.  If you have ever seen the movie, City Of Angels with Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage, and then you know the scene when all the angels go to the beach and you can just feel the presence of God.  Well that is how I feel about the beach.  I think it is the most amazing wonder God created.

On our way to Galveston, we made a stop and visited my Mom and Dad.  I got to see my older sister Libby too.  It was a nice visit.  I haven’t seen them in forever.  After that we headed to the Galveston with a pit stop at the boardwalk in Kemah.  If you have never gone to Kemah you should.  It is a little town on the west coast of Galveston Bay.  They have a boardwalk with restaurants and carnival games and rides.  There is an aquarium and you can watch gorgeous sailboats on the bay.

We enjoyed some Bubba Gump seafood and couple of rides and games before heading back on the road to Galveston.

My favorite hotel to stay in Galveston is Hotel Galvez.  It is old historic hotel built in 1911,  and has survived so many hurricanes.  There is a documentray on the History Channel about Galveston.  If you like Texas History it is a must watch.

We did a little shopping and visited an art gallery on the strand, we walked the seawall and ate some delicious seafood, we had an afternoon of spa time,  and of course we went to the beach.  Each day Biv and I would take a walk on the beach and look for seashells.

The beach is so relaxing to me.  And Galveston brings back so many memories.  If you have never been to Galveston, you need to make a trip there.  Especially if you love history.  There is so much Texas History in Galveston.  It was a major port for the United States.  There is the Bishop Palace, which is a must tour.  There is a tour of wood carvings around Galveston.  You can walk or rent motorized bikes.  There is pier 21, Moody Gardens and Aquarium and Pleasure Pier.

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Just to list a few things to do.  Now I know the water is not gorgeous blue like Florida beaches but it is just so relaxing to sit under an umbrella and to feel the ocean breeze.

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Oh how I miss living on the beach and smelling that ocean air.

But you know what I miss the most?  The fresh seafood!!!  And did we eat seafood, even for breakfast.  The Hotel Galvez is famous for their Sunday Brunch.  You don’t have to stay at the hotel to have Sunday brunch there.  Many locals come to brunch after church on Sunday morning.  The food is amazing.  The best buffet I have ever eaten at.  They have waffle, omelet, pasta, prime rib stations with a chef to cook up whatever you want.  Jeff had an omelet with shrimp, not to mention all the other food he ate.  Like his second plate with prime rib and mashed potatoes…which he said reviled mine.

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I had gulf shrimp, raw oysters and  eggs Benedict. Yum! And of course some seafood gumbo!

Here are a few pictures of the Brunch buffet.  And these are just some of the buffet.  I love the pelican ice sculpture with the gulf shrimp. oyster and crab legs.

Then we hit the dessert bar.  OH MY!  All these wonderful desserts.  I didn’t stay on my diet here.   Bread Pudding, Creme Brûlée, Red Velvet Cupcakes, tarts, Chocolate Creme Cups ( which tasted so similar to my chocolate pudding ) ,  Cherry Cobbler and Cheesecake to name a few.  Here are some pics.

Brunch may have started our day with a bang but it was the fireworks out over the Gulf, that really gave us a great finale to our Sunday.  Jeff was so tired from our day of exploring he took a nap on the Adirondack chair on the lawn waiting for the fireworks.


So if you have a chance for a weekend getaway, don’t forget about Galveston, Texas.  So much to do and enjoy there or just sit back and relax on the beach.

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Cooking · Food

Sous Vide Me

Cookbook Collection

I thought I would talk a little about cooking with you today. Cooking is one of my favorite things to do. It is how I show my feelings and how I like to take care of people. I had written a cook book for my daughter, at her request, and then my computer crashed. I didn’t back it up! Rookie mistake to say the least. When I went to rewrite her another one, by this time she was now severely lactose intolerant. So, I had to set about changing recipes and making new ones to accommodate her needs. I will send her recipes at her request from time to time and started saving them along the way. So, one day, I will have a new cook book ready to go. Until then, I try to make sure I write it down and take pictures of the recipe to have additional backup of my creations.

Growing up in Texas, Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food are my favorites. Grandma made great biscuits, but the refried beans and tortillas were my favorites for breakfast. Our mother made great German style foods. Italian was my go to as a teenager. Mother had a great marinara sauce, but I like mine even better. I loved taking Home Economics in school. It helped expose me to different types of food and how to make a kitchen function well. Trust me, if the kitchen set up doesn’t flow well, neither will your cooking.

As we grow up and get exposed to more cultures, our food sphere expands. I love food. I love figuring out the spices and learning different ways of cooking. From drinks to desserts, I am always excited to taste new things and how it is made. Learning what wines to pair with food, and how to make those cute little bubbles of spirits makes cooking so much more exciting. There is a wine or liquor for every course, I just love it!

I also love setting the table properly. I don’t get many occasions to do that anymore with the kids all grow up. So anytime Marie wants to have a party, I am right there with her. I miss setting the full array of dishes for a table. Berry bowls are one of favorites. Few know what they are, and I love explaining the history of it. My husband and I have yet to really buy a nice set of dishes since we married (both previously divorced). So, you will see a lot of pictures with my deer dishes from good old Bass Pro. But Marie, Marie is the collector of dishes. Part of that is my fault for giving my old china to her. It makes for great occasions when you have an array of different dishes to use and expands your décor options for the parties. To me a good set of dishes/China just makes the food taste better. It can be dishes from the dollar store but if you put in the effort to set a nice table, the food just stands out.

Recipe Collection 1

Both Marie and I are collectors of cookbooks. Some we both have, and some are unique to the other. I have been known to take all my cookbooks and stack them up beside my chair for a day of inspiration as I thumb through them. I love to feel the pages in my hands and sometimes the little stores that go along with them are written with the recipe. Don’t get me wrong, Pinterest is great for a quick idea and go to source. But nothing beats a good old cookbook in your hand.

Marie and I are both collectors of kitchen gadgets. Whether it is new or an antique, we both love our kitchen gadgets. KitchenAid has made it even easier with their mixers and all the wonderful attachments. Things as simple as a rolling-pin to a garlic press are so much fun. Pastry cutters and a simple mandolin can take a pie from good to great. One of my favorite ‘gadget’ you could say is my sous vide machine. I love it! My husband’s friend made his own sous vide from a YouTube video. Yeah, that didn’t work out too well. Then another friend who happens to be an incredible chef in his own right, showed me his set up. Again, the set up was homemade but far superior to the other. I opted to buy the actual whole machine for myself. They make an incredible countertop version. You would be amazed all the things you can make in it and how much it will help when it comes to throwing parties.

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Sous Vide supreme

One of my husband’s favorite meals, venison with a Bordelaise sauce, I use my sous vide to cook. I decided to cook it and share with you how easy it is to make. Since my husband’s hunting and fishing supplies roughly 90% of our meat, I always have something wonderful on hand. With the meat defrosted, I prepared the sous vide machine by filling it with water and setting the temperature. I like my meat medium rare, so I set it for 134 degrees. As the water heats up I season the meat with my go to seasoning of granulated garlic (fresh garlic seems to go rancid when sous vide too long) and Tony Chachere’s Spicy Blend. Then I vacuum seal the venison loins in two separate bags making sure to double seal the ends. Once the water reaches the 134 degrees I place the sealed meat in the rack and set the timer for 4 hours. The venison would be ready in an hour if need be, but I wanted this for dinner, so I set it for 4 hours. The machine will cook the meat to the 134 degrees but never go beyond that and hold it at the temperature until ready to eat.

 

Bordelaise sauce is a fair easy sauce to make. There are many different versions you can find on the internet. I prepare it the way I was taught by a chef friend of mine. I use half of a large shallot chopped (about 2 tablespoons), 2 cups of beef bone broth (I make my own but you can used canned broth and add a demi-glace to it), one tablespoon of butter, 2 cups of red wine (I used a Cabernet, but I prefer a Merlot), fresh cracked pepper and thyme (I showed a bottle of thyme but remembered I just planted some fresh so used it instead). Sauté the shallots until tender then add the thyme (roughly ½ a tablespoon). Then add the wine, broth and cracked pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper so about a tablespoon). Simmer until reduced by half, strain the sauce before serving.

 

While the meat was cooking I prepared a butternut squash for the oven. Peeled, diced and seasoned with rosemary, garlic and Tony Chachere’s Spice N’ Herbs seasoning. I prepared a baking sheet with foil and sprayed it with avocado oil spray. Oven heated to 425 degrees, I cooked the squash for 20 minutes turn them halfway through the process.

 

Once the meat was ready, I removed it from the bags and let it sit for a couple minutes. Normally I would have prepared the grill to sear the outside, but it was raining. Instead I heated my skillet until it was hot and seared the outside of the meat. I like the lines the pan makes but I don’t want to cook the meat. I remove it from the heat and use a torch to make the lines darker on the meat and give it a little crunch on the outside. Perfectly medium rare!

 

Finished off the meal with some English peas and I have a happy husband. Have you tried Sous Vide cooking yet?

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