Life Part Two

The adventures of Fay and Bob as they move beyond the 9 to 5 life


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More on Himalayan Salt Blocks

After eating off one of the Himalayan Salt Blocks on Thursday I got curious to find out more.   This is a great article on all the uses for this unusual natural resource.  I thought you might find it interesting.

http://www.saltnews.com/cooking-with-himalayan-salt-plates-blocks-bricks-platters/

If you are thinking of purchasing one make sure you read the comments at the end of the article.   There are some very important tips on how (or how not to) heat them.


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Ember- Great gastropub in downtown Greer SC

I don’t write about dining out very often.   We go out a few times a month, usually to someplace different each time.  Having spent decades in food service it takes quite a restaurant for me to want to go back to it.  I have found a few and last night I added another one to my list.

It is a small new gastropub in downtown Greer.  What is a gastropub?   I think of it as a pub but with more upscale food and affordable priced.   Thursdays is half price wine and dessert, always a good deal.   The most creative items on the menu are the Himalayan salt block cooking.   The 6-by-6-foot block is cut into a blocks about 4 inches thick and 8 -10 inches. It is mined from crystalline pink salt under the Himalayas, is heated to a blazing 700 degrees and brought to the table, where diners have the choice of beef, shrimp, ahi tuna or crab cakes to cook on the block.  Kind of a new age fondue.   The people at our table had shrimp, beef and tuna.   Bob had the smoked chicken and grits and it was fantastic.   We sampled three different appetizers and all were good.

You can read more at:  http://www.greenvilleonline.com/article/20120112/NEWS/301170005/New-dining-experience-lands-Trade-Street


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It’s been three years

Where has the time gone?   It has been three years since we moved to Travelers Rest and what an exciting and fulfilling time it has been. It seems so long ago when I was consumed with cleaning out the accumulation of stuff in our Vadnais Heights house, staging the house, worrying about getting a mortgage, finding a moving company, selling the house in 10 days,  packing, moving, unpacking, etc.

It has taken Bob much longer than me to feel comfortable here but then he is the worry person in our household so I guess that shouldn’t be surprising.

I have to say we had high expectations of living near Greenville and the area has exceeded our expectations.  Greenville Newcomers, the Woodworking Guild and OLLI have enriched our lives in so many ways.   Yes we did many activities with these organizations but more important that is where we made new friends.  At first everyone was a body with a name tag but now we have friends to do things with, to call if we need help with something and we can help them. We have absolutely no regrets about moving here.   For us it was the right decision.

Bob’s woodworking shop has certainly exceeded his expectations and the things we are creating amaze us.  We are still a few weeks away from finishing our last three projects and I can’t wait to show you.  The summers are longer and hotter than we expected but everyone tells us the last two summers are the hottest in anyone’s memory.  I hope that is just a fluke and not permanent global warming.   The winter season is barely noticeable, at least to someone raised in MN.

We have really enjoy all the people who have visited us and hope you keep coming.  After 16 years we said goodbye to our little cat Tanya.   Smoky and Sabrina keep us entertained, when they aren’t sick. We have had so much fun on long and short vacations exploring this part of the country and have several more trips in the planning.  Our trip to Alaska last summer was a dream come true.

Looking forward we want to continue to be active volunteers  in our community, improve our woodworking and other artistic skills, travel and have fun with our new friends.  Hopefully we can play host and hostess to out of town visitors.

Time flies when you are having fun.


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Peaches

I’ve been talking about how delicious the SC peaches are.   Just read this info in a local magazine.  South Carolina will produce 90,000 tons of peaches.   Georgia, the peach state,  40,000 and California 815,000 tons.   That’s a lot of peaches.

SC is excited that an agreement signed earlier this year by the US and Mexican governments will now alow SC peaches to be sold in Mexican stores.  This deal has been in negotiations for years.  Mexico had concerns about invasive pests from the Southeast. 


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Southern Living

It’s been awhile since I commented on Southern Living.

I have said before I miss MN  lilacs and Papa Murphys Pizza.  Bob and I confimed in the last couple weeks that we miss MN sweet corn.   I have purchased frozen sweet corn several times and thought it was tough and not very sweet.  Two of the last three purchases of corn (Furman Farmers Market and Travelers Farmers Market) were both tough and not sweet.  We didn’t even eat it after the first few bites so I can add sweet corn to my list of things I miss. We have tried swiss chard and so far haven’t found a recipe that grabs us but haven’t ruled that out yet as a good vegetable.  Made an ocra dish a couple nights ago with onions, green peppers, tomatoes and garlic.   It was ok.  Okra doesn’t have much flavor and if over cooked is slimey.   I have only had ocra as fried ocra , which I like, and  in soup so will try it again in a different recipe.  I have fried green tomatoes on my list of things to make.   The blackberries are WONDERFUL.   VERY VERY SWEET.

At least these last two years I like MN milder summer better but I still wouldn’t trade SC summer for MN winter.

The SC peaches are still fantastic.   I just made another pan of peach crisp.  I have heard I can enjoy peaches into Sept.

We went to our second of four lectures at Furman on Civil War to Civil Rights history.   This week we heard about what happend during reconstruction after the war.  From 1868 to about 1890 the life for the black population was on a forward track.  Then things changed and reverted back to what we now describe as segregation, equal but seperate and the Jim Crow laws which were in place until the 1950′s and 60′s.  Believe me. It’s both simple and complicated.  The history of the south continues to fascinate both Bob and I.

Coming from the north we didn’t realize we should have ceiling fans in every room in the house plus outside so we recently fixed that.  We added fans in the guest room and office.   The office feels 10 degrees cooler.   The third fan went outside under the deck by the hot tub.  We look forward to sitting down there in the fall when it is still warm but the leaves are changing.

Summer concerts and festivals close by are at least two days a week.  Travelers Rest will start Friday concerts this Friday and run into the fall.   I’m sure we will attend some of those once the temperature gets below 90, which doesn’t look to be any time soon.

Smoky and Sabrina seem to handle the heat better than Bob and I do.  I just make sure I always have water out for them.  Every month they get flea medicine and two kinds of tick medicine so no more ticks since Smoky had his trip to the vet to remove two big ones on his tail. 

One other thing I have noticed is I don’t wear shoes or sandles much any more.   I am barefoot most of the time in the house and only put on shoes when I leave home.   In the winter I put on socks, not shoes.  At night if my feet get cold I cover them with a blanket.  The other purpose of the blanket is that it entices Sabrina to sit on the lap.  Dual purpose blanket!

Hope your summer is going well.  Our next side trip is up to Asheville next weekend for a woodworkers exhibit.


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Alert for people with nut allergies

Bob has been doing lots of research on different finishes, including those that are safe to put on wooden things that will be in contact with food like salad bowls, utensils, wooden cutting boards.  Tung oil is made from the oil of the seeds of the tung tree.  People who are allergic to nuts may have an allergic reaction to foods that come in contact with a surface that has been finished with tung oil.  We were both quite surprised to read this and I wanted to share it with you.

Many people have nut allergies and I would never have thought that it could come from the bowl itself.   Even the odor of tung oil may set off a reaction.

 


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Swiss Chard

For dinner tonight I made my first attempt of preparing Swiss Chard, which I got from the Furman Farm yesterday.  When cooking it looks like the perfect Christmas food.   Really pretty red and green.   It tastes like a blend of beets and spinach, that’s my best description.  It was a flavor unlike anything I have tried so my brain and taste buds didn’t quite know what to think of it.  I decided that this, like collard greens, is something I need to try at least two more times before I say I don’t like it. 

How fun is it at age 60 to try a new food!

Grilled fresh peaches over ice cream for dessert!   I know I love that.


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Mint Julep follow up

I made mint juleps for Bob and I and another couple.  I have only had one in my life and the others never have had one.  It is an interesting combination of flavors with the sweet and the mint and the bourbon.  Two of us liked it enough to have again and the other two weren’t so sure.


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Mint Julep

There is a mint julep in my future.   Got my mint from the Furman Farm and have some TN Jack Daniels in my liquor cabinet.  Stay tuned tomorrow to hear how it went.   Bob turned a muddler last weekend so we have everything!

4 fresh mint sprigs
2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 tsp powdered sugar
2 tsp water
Muddle mint leaves, powdered sugar, and water in a collins glass. Fill the glass with shaved or crushed ice and add bourbon. Top with more ice and garnish with a mint sprig. Serve with a straw.


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Summer fruits and vegetables

Just picked up my first batch of fresh produce from the Furman Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Now I have to figure out what to do with swiss chard and pole beans.  Also got cucumbers, potatoes, green pepper, tomatoes, beets and two kinds of mint.

With all the produce coming into season,  this week I made chilled cucumber soup, chilled peach soup and peach crisp.  Now the freestone peaches are coming in and I hear the peach season lasts until labor day.  So fun and oh so very good.

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