Squirrel Follow-Up –> What’s he eating?

Remember the Squirrel from last week with that HUGE — piece of FOOD — in his mouth? Nobody knew what it could be. Such an odd “thing.”

Well, guess what, I happened to walk by a tree and as I looked on the ground, I saw it! Yes, I saw, “IT.” I saw what the squirrel had in his mouth. I picked the weird thing up. It was VERY STICKY, like sap. Imagine my surprise when it was sticking to my fingers, felt prickly and I could NOT let go of it. I had to fling it off. Horror of horrors.

As I looked at it, I noticed there were more at the bottom of the tree. So, I peered up into the tree and LOOK what I saw. YES, a bunch of them growing on the branch.

I’ve NEVER seen a tree with these “things” in my entire life.

I stopped people as they walked by asking what tree this was, NO LUCK! So, I did searches online. Challenging, since I didn’t know what search words to use — “sticky spikey ball in tree?”

Needless to say, my searches didn’t pull up much. THEN a brainstorm, I have a friend who used to work at the arboretum. She must know this tree, right?

She messaged, it’s a HAZLENUT tree.

I went back to the tree for further inspection. See photo of where the nuts were. The nuts are protected inside a green leaf-like hairy bract with ragged edges. Nuts in clusters of 2-5.

I LOVE hazelnuts, so this was a GREAT find.

No wonder the squirrel was dodging me left to right! He thought I was after his hazelnuts!

And you know what — NEXT TIME, I might just go after him!

Have you watched that show on Netflix called, “ALONE?” One participant was desperate for food, it was winter, hard to find food. A squirrel had stashed away mushrooms at the top of a tree. The participant cut the tree down to get the mushrooms. He apologized to the squirrel (who wasn’t there), “Everyone for himself in the wilderness! We’ve got to SURVIVE!”

Great wilderness show if you haven’t seen it!

I will have more appreciation for the hazelnuts in Nutella, Loacker wafers, Ferrero Rocher, Godiva, and Kinder Buono chocolates now!

Don’t you LOVE life’s surprises! Thank you, Mr. Squirrel!

Beloved Pizza — NO MORE

Something STRANGE happened when I was in Italy.

I did not like the pizza!

I KNOW… How could that be?

I’ve ALWAYS enjoyed the Italian pizza, but this time. NOPE! In Florence, the pizza crust was terrible. Maybe it was meant to be a healthy version, don’t know, but it’s texture was like cardboard. I could barely eat it. This is a place I have frequented over the years, so it should have been delicious. My heart sank.

In Rome, the pizza crust was so thin it made the pizza soggy, I could barely eat it. Also, they had big chunks of mozzarella cheese on top. When I took a bite and tried to swallow, I thought I would choke. My daughter said the same thing happened to her when she was in Rome. She could not eat their mozzarella cheese. This has never happened before. Soooo… has the texture of mozzarella cheese changed?

I felt the SAME about the sandwiches. I used to LOVE and CRAVE salami, prosciutto, mortadella. It’s the BEST in Italy. We would have this with my grandmother at home at lunch. Put the bread on the table, cut slices and open all the different lunch meat packages, pick and choose what we wanted.

What sadness, really!

I had to think. Had the food changed or did COVID change my taste buds? I’ve never tested positive for COVID, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have it over the past 2 1/2 years. Was it the weather, high 90s, little interest in food?

Oh… it GETS WORSE!

I didn’t care for gelato either. My gosh, this is a major Italian taste bud issue, right! Who doesn’t enjoy a gelato. I did eat it, but I had no sense of this is so fantastic, like I did BEFORE COVID.

GOOD NEWS — Drinking a Fanta with ice cubes was enjoyable and my tastes buds were working. PHEW, so it wasn’t a COVID issue.

Oh, and my FAVORITE cookies — Atene, my grandmother would have these. My taste buds were GOOD. Thank goodness!! I would have been sad to have those memories taken away. Here is what they look like. They are a heavier type of cookie, good with coffee or tea.

I do think that the taste of food is changing around the world. They, whomever they are, keep trying to genetically enhance meat, fruit, vegetable products and more. There are constantly fraud issues with prosciutto. If you Google, you can read about it.

So — I’m hoping it was the extreme heat that changed my taste buds. I was happy that my daughter said she experienced the same feelings on her trip to Italy, so it wasn’t just “me.”

Soon we will all start having our own organic gardens, so we can trust our produce!

HarvesTrolley – Mini Food Mart on Wheels

I used to work in adverting. As I drove from place to place, I was always on the hunt for new advertisers. At a stop light or stop sign, NEVER know what advertisement is driving by. For example, this HarvesTrolley bus. Brought back memories of my advertising days. I loved the look of this bus, I had to find out more about it. Without getting into a car wreck, I quickly pulled over to check it out.

Turns out, it’s a mini food mart in a bus. Great idea! HarvesTrolley Mobile Market started in Texas, with locations now in IL and New Jersey. During COVID, when it was hard for Seniors to go shopping they started the trolley service along with online order / delivery. Anyone can use the online service or hop on the trolley to buy something. In fact, when I was there a young lady was buying eggs / ice cream and a distinguished gentleman had finished his purchase as well – two huge bags full.

Once they came out, I went inside. It was nice. They had eggs, milk, cereal, crackers, frozen foods, soups, spices, etc. It was a quick look as I spoke to the driver for more information. It had the basics anyone would need, a lot of products can fit into a small space. It worked! The Driver indicated that they go to select locations once a week at the same time. They are still trying to build up their business.

When I first saw the bus, I thought it was the Bookmobile – NOPE, it was a mini mart on wheels.

A FUNNY thought…

Why not get the Bookmobile and the HarvesTrolley to a location at the same time. THEN we could get our books, a snack and find a nice shady tree or bench to sit and start reading.

I’m on board with that!

I’m imagining ME in a hammock RIGHT NOW! Reading my book with the ice cream melting…

SUMMER BLISS!

I didn’t think I needed a Tea Kettle… UNTIL I saw this!

Recently, I was out shopping. Imagine my amazement at seeing so many tea kettles in one place. I haven’t had a tea kettle in years. I was brought down memory lane. I remembered having a blue Chantal tea kettle in my 20s. It had a loud whistle when water boiled.

What happened to that tea kettle? When did I give it away? I was thinking it must have been around the time that Nespresso coffee machines were “the craze.” I remember walking into Sur La Table in California. They had so many Nespresso machines to choose from.

Specifically, they had the Pixie in beautiful bright colors. I was drawn to the Lime green one. They gave a demo, I was sold on the ease of use and bought one. NO MORE TEA. So, that must have been how my Chantal tea kettle was given away.

Lately, I’ve been drinking a lot of tea. When I boil water, I use a pot. I admit, easy to use, but feels like I am camping. When my daughter went to College in Ireland she learned quickly that EVERY house has a tea kettle. Drinking tea is part of their life. It would be like the Italians. Every Italian house has an espresso machine of some sort.

As I looked at the tea kettle display I thought. Should I buy one? Is it necessary? They do whistle, my pot does not. Looking at the choices, I was drawn to the kettle with cherries on it. Made me think of a farm house.

While I didn’t buy a tea kettle that day. The display still has me thinking. Isn’t that the point of a retail display – THINK, then BUY. BRAVO!

Do you see what I see? YES, a cherry tea kettle on my stove!

Happy Valentine’s Day – 2022!

I really like linzer cookies. To start, I like, NO – I LOVE raspberries. Shout out to my future boyfriend, you’ve got Valentine’s Day all wrapped up. Surprise me with a heart shaped dish full of raspberries and a heart shaped box with something shiny (Jewelry, need to be specific, right. I don’t want to end up with a little silver spoon or a business card holder.) in it and YOUR GOLDEN!

I spoke to some friends who don’t do anything for Valentine’s Day. If they are alone, they find it depressing. Personally, I think it is a nice day to do something loving for another person. Even if you are alone, you can do something for a friend, your kids, a family member, etc. It’s a day to be thoughtful.

Back to the linzer cookies. One day, I want to make them. A few years ago I bought the cookie cutters. I got the recipe. I was THAT close to making them, but didn’t. So, they are still on the “bucket list.”

I get emails from TableWare International. I’ve always liked tableware products, so it’s fun to see the latest industry news. GUESS WHAT – Fiesta (leading dinnerware brand) comes out with a new color every year. This year they have some new HEART shaped dishes. They’re really pretty. See TableWare International’s article, “Love it! Heart-themed pieces from Fiesta Dinnerware.

The Fiesta dishes look similar to THIS photo with the fruit. Visit FiestaFactoryDirect.com to see ALL the color choices. Oh, and look at their ABOUT section. They started in 1871, two brothers from East Liverpool, Ohio, quite a story.

Do you see how FUN and EASY it can be to make Valentine’s Day special?! It’s all about the hearts!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Merry Christmas! Angel blueberry scones…

I decided to surprise my daughters with some blueberry scones. I made them into Angels. They were very good; however, I should have taken them out a little sooner. I haven’t baked in a while, so I was a little rusty on the timing. STILL the Angels were a big hit.

My daughter made protein waffles. Interesting ingredients: vital wheat gluten, oat flour, fat free cottage cheese, egg whites, some water. Before you shake your head, they were good. I would not have known they weren’t made from a waffle mix. They were delicious, very filling.

It’s fun to do some baking, home cooking for the holidays.

Wishing you ALL a very Merry Christmas Eve / Day!

TA-DA –> The Kodiak breakfast!

Well, it’s Sunday, I decided to make waffles. I wrote about the Kodiak Cake brand mix the other day. Today I used the buttermilk and chocolate mix. Why not be adventurous. I topped my waffles with blueberries and raspberries that I picked in Michigan this summer and froze for winter. By the way, frozen raspberries are quite the treat. They change color and become darker once frozen, but the flavor is still there. I added some maple syrup. It’s the PERFECT breakfast!

My friend is in France…. she’s probably eating a wonderful croissant right now!

Wondering what YOU are having!

Chocolate cakes – trying a HEALTHY version!

I’ve been trying to embrace this health craze. Less fat, more protein — pancakes, waffles, cakes – NOTHING is the same anymore. Lately, the talk of the town is the Kodiak Cakes brand. Different people I spoke to were raving about their high protein pancakes. Delicious and kept them full until 1 pm. Of course, I asked, “What are you talking about?”

I like to eat pancakes / waffles occasionally, so was not up to speed on this Kodiak Cakes brand. Turns out, Kodiak Cakes, has been around since 1995. The company was started by Joel Clark based on his mother’s buttermilk flapjack mix. They are located in Utah. Due to funding the company was slow to take off, but now it has and it’s the latest craze.

It’s an interesting story, you should read about it. Joel Clark was even on Shark Tank in 2014; however, he did not accept a deal with any of the Shark Tankers. That show though introduced his product, people were interested and sales took off at Target. 14 grams of protein per serving does sound good, right!

I bought a box of Kodiak Cakes and made pancakes. I have to say, they had a great chocolate taste. This chocolate mix though, I felt was heavy and the texture was more like a cake than a fluffy pancake. I found a recipe for using the Kodiak mix to make little muffins. I decided to make mini cakes instead. They are cute looking, but the recipe I used was not good. The texture of the cakes were so dense. I went by the reviews and they were saying how “fantastic” their muffins were.

Imagine a cake with these ingredients (too much protein): 1 cup Kodiak mix, 4 eggs, 1 cup unsweetened applesauce or 4 smashed medium bananas. Mix, cook at 350 until done.

Baking is about experimenting. We win some, we lose some, but we don’t give up.

I’m on a quest to make these little cakes healthy and delicious. I just need to fine-tune the recipe.

If you haven’t heard of Kodiak Cakes give them a try. They have all kinds of flavored mixes. You can’t go wrong! High protein, just add some fruit, light syrup – you’ll be in breakfast heaven!

When a Moose means a lot!

Moose memories. For over 30 years, every September my father went moose hunting in Canada. He’d be gone three weeks in the wilderness with either my brothers or friends. That was a highlight of his year. Two months before he left, he’d go shopping for groceries to bring on the trip. He’s start pulling out his hunting gear, etc. It was a big ordeal, all of us helping to pack up the truck.

We then would eat moose meat ALL year. The moose burgers were good, but if we heard my Dad yell to my mother, “Pull out a moose roast for tonight,” we ran to visit our friends. Moose roasts were so dry and gamey tasting, just AWFUL! My Dad wised up to this tactic of ours and would say, “EVERYONE will be home for dinner tonight!”

My Dad liked to play pranks on his buddies. Since we had a lot of moose meat, he would give some to his friends. One year he had the hoof of the moose, wrapped it in the white paper that the butcher shop uses and wrote “TENDERLOIN” on it! Gave it to his friend and waited. It took a few months, but you can imagine when his friend called. He sure was mad, his poor wife was unwrapping the “tenderloin” package and found the hoof. She was NOT amused and did not want anymore moose meat from my Dad.

When we were kids we’d have our friends over for dinner. They were excited about having hamburger and french fries. We would stare at them as they ate their burger and keep asking, “So, what do you think? Do you like the burger?”

They would say, “YES, it’s really good!”

When they were finished eating we would tell them they had just eaten a moose burger. At first they looked at us and said, “WE WHAT???” You just had a moose burger. Wasn’t it good! They had to agree, moose burgers were good.

Now my Dad is in his 80s, going moose hunting is too strenuous for him. So, of course, there is sadness to this. I know my Dad misses going. A surprise happened at the store. LOOK, what I found — A MOOSE PLATE!!

I smiled. My Dad would look great at the head of the table for Thanksgiving with his very own MOOSE PLATE!

So, he will have a BIG SURPRISE this year. I hope he likes it as much as I do.

He’s got to smile… RIGHT!!

Diners… American Breakfast – the BEST!

This past weekend, I was in the mood for a “real breakfast.” I mean a little bit of everything. There is something wonderful about going to a diner, they still have that old fashioned feel. Simple and full of choices.

When I got there I knew exactly what I wanted. Although, if I go to The Original Pancake House in California, I like to order the 49er pancakes, they are huge and bit chewy – wonderful! They are probably crepes, just made larger.

Back to my diner experience, I went for the usual… scrambled eggs well done (my mother used to make them so runny, I could not eat them), bacon or sausage, toast and pancakes. I KNOW, this is why they say Americans are fat. So true, this meal is really for two people, I could not eat it all. Mainly, I like the variety. So, too bad they can’t offer one egg, one slice of bacon/sausage, one slice of toast and two small pancakes, right! Anyhow, I wasn’t going to complain, this is what I wanted.

Oh, when I got to the diner, there was a line. So, I put my name on the waiting list. To keep myself busy, I got the menu. Laughing, everyone is line was eyeing each other. I mean, what else do you do, when you are waiting, right.

There was a man next to me, it appeared he was with his wife. He decided to be flirty. I wasn’t too keen on that. His wife looked grumpy. He asked me HOW I got the menu. REALLY – the menus were on the counter in front of us. To try and shooooo him away, I said, “There they are, but here you can have mine, I’m done with it.”

To which he said, “So, what are you going to order?” He leaned into me like an eager puppy to look at menu with me.

WHAT??? Wasn’t that his wife next to him??

This guy was an expert at trying to pick someone up. I didn’t like it!

So, I politely looked at his female companion, smiled, said I had not decided AND moved away.

I HOPE that wasn’t his wife. Awful to have a husband like that.

GOOD NEWS – they did not seat me next to them. Thank goodness or my dining experience would have been ruined.

Instead, I was next to a family with a little girl who was loud and super talkative. She must have been two years old. Then another family across from me. The little boy kept talking about coloring his monsters, looked like he had a coloring book.

So, I had a delightful dining experience!