Wednesday, June 14, 2017

My new pellet grill review and tips

My favorite cooking device is my GRILL.
There is just something about 
sweating (and sometimes freezing)
your booty off while watching
your food sizzle its way to Flavorville 
that makes it more fun.


*All of the food in all of the pics on this page were made on my pellet grill*

The gas grill has been my grill of choice 
ever since I started grilling, which was 20+ 
years ago.  When I first moved out, 
I admittedly was not the best cook. 
Over the years, I have learned from 
others and read 100's of recipes, and 
now I can cook pretty decent.  
We all have the occasional flop. :)

Steak is probably the one thing that
I got the best at grilling.  
I learned when to flip to get that 
medium to medium-well juiciness 
and flavor.
 I love veggies and chicken and fish and
many other things on the gas grill, but 
it is harder to cook because of the flipping 
required to cook both sides evenly.
It is not as easy to 
flip a flaky filet of fish...
(say that 5 times fast).  :)

Enter the pellet grill...
 picture an aura above it like the 
heavens are shining down...ahhhh...
 well maybe not that much, but it really is
pretty dang neat.  It is like a smoker and
oven and grill all in one. 


So far, I have smoked butts, grilled chicken, 
roasted corn, potatoes and broccoli, made burgers and hot dogs...and
made a pan of chicken parmesan casserole...yep!
Although I did make a frozen pizza on there, 
 I burned the bottom...I gotta look into
that one.  ha:)


I have picked up a few pointers from
friends about the pellet grill.  I have yet to cook 
bacon on mine, but have been told to
look into a Frogmat or similar.  It is a mat
that looks kind of like a screen door that
you use to cook bacon or veggies on instead
of using a baking pan.  It lets the grease
drip through and makes the bacon 
crispy-fied.  :)  Also I was told to cook it
around 250-275 for about 40-45 minutes 
instead of at a high temperature like
I originally thought.
I am looking forward to future bacon.

More pointers I was given...

Make sure the pellets do
not get wet inside the grill, or they will
pretty much turn into concrete and 
not be fun to get out of there. 
Eeeek!

Clean the pellet burn pot out at least after
every other grilling.  This is where the 
pellets fall into and burn.  There is a 
little ignitor that sticks out in the pot 
and makes them burn.  If you don't
vacuum them out or at least scoop them
out (which is what I did so far) they can 
build up a good pile of ashes and 
might cause a fire.

Keep your pellet feeder pretty full at
all times.  I did run out while cooking,
and it is quite a pain in the ass to
remove the food and make sure you 
get the grill lit back correctly.  
So...just don't let your pellets run out.  :)


If you set the temp at 250 for example, 
the grill tends to stay between
240 and 270 for the most part.  
If you are debating on a temperature,
I would stick with the lower temp
and cook a little longer.  The 
food will get more smoke and 
will not as likely burn.  I gotta say
most food does not have the propensity
to burn on the pellet grill...well aside
from frozen pizza I guess.  

My biggest concern is
probably just that...what 
TEMPERATURE????
  The main thing is 
to think of the temperature that 
you would use in your oven to cook a
similar food.  And also keep in mind that
the grill heat is much closer
than the heat in the bottom of the oven...
this is why I burned my pizza bottom. 
We live and learn from our mistakes.
May your grilling experiences be
all good and not burnt.

If you have any pointers, PLEASE 
share them with me in a message 
or on Facebook 
or however! 

As far as brands of pellet grills...
I purchased mine on a spur of the moment...
"I want it today!"
kind of moments.  haha.
It is a Pitboss from Walmart.  
$396 at the time. 
My boyfriend's dad does have a 
Traeger, which is a little more expensive,
but after reading the reviews they are
really close to the same, and I don't think
I would ever know the difference.  
So far mine has worked great!

Sorry for the rambling...I just kind of 
spit out all the pellet 
knowledge that I have thus far. 
 Whew!  Lots to learn. 

Happy grilling, people! :)






Friday, June 2, 2017

My fear and hatred of the brown recluse spider

Waking up at 5 a.m. because my boyfriend
felt a spider on his arm is what made me
go ahead and write about my 
hatred for brown recluse spiders.  This blog entry will be pretty long, as it stems from many years 
of knowing that these spiders live amongst us here in the south,
and the fear of getting bitten by one.  If there is one thing I loathe...it is the brown recluse spider or fiddleback as it is also known.



Brown recluse spiders...if you live in 
Dyer County or the surrounding area...you 
have them in your house.  This is my hypothesis
at least because...they are here.  They are all
over this area.  Even if you build a brand new
house, you are going to pack them up and 
bring them from your previous house.  
Of course you will have way less, but they 
will be there lurking in your clothes, ready
to make babies at your new house. 
I have been to many yard sales and seen them crawling around the freshly unpacked clothes, wondering who messed up their house.  My worst yard sale experience ever was when I told a girl there was one on a ball cap that she was selling, and she (not knowing what a brown recluse was when I told her) KILLED IT WITH HER FINGER.  After I told her it was highly poisonous, I think she probably looked at her finger the rest of the day.  Hopefully she hit his back and did not get bitten.  

 Pretty much, places you may see them at home is in the sink, bathtub, shower, toilet...where they go for water.  If you have seen a brown spider in those places, probably about 85% of the time, it is a brown recluse.  Or if you find a spider dead in a coffee cup or bowl that hasn't been used in a while....yep.  They love cardboard boxes too, especially in the attic or basement.  They also molt and leave their little shell bodies behind.  So if you see spider shells with no spider in there, just stuck to a box or the wall...more than likely it is a brown recluse.  If they are in your clothes that are hanging, they know when you move your clothes around looking for something to wear, and they will move accordingly away from that spot and almost never be seen.  Unless they are unable to avoid you and stay in the shirt that you pick to wear.  I have brown recluse vision and can usually see them across a room.  :(  Also in the BED is where they like to hunt!  My least favorite of all places for them to be.  They especially like bedspreads and comforters that touch the floor so they can crawl up easier.  We built a bed that I absolutely love, but the whole frame touches the floor, which also makes it easier for them to crawl onto.  So I have surrounded it by several of the sticky insect traps now. :)
For years, I have taken all the cover off the bed every night and shook it and the pillows to make sure I am not going to bed with one.  But, they are night hunters so they may end up in the bed after all, which is what happened last night, and my boyfriend shook one off his arm this morning.  It literally makes my skin crawl and makes me yucked out to think about it.  I looked until I found him and killed him.  And yes, I will have nightmares and be even more paranoid now.  
And my boyfriend...being the joker that he is and knowing how much they freak me out...likes to tell me there is one on my arm, back, forehead...yeah...he is asking for it.

Growing up, my parents were aware of them years ago and instilled in me the fear of being bitten. 
They would have sticky traps around, 
 and my dad would spray 
periodically and pretty much we did not see that
many at our house.  When I bought my
first house and went to move in...there were the 
leftover bodies in the corners of my new-to-me
house that made me know the previous owners
had their share of them.  I even asked the 
lady afterwards when I saw her at the store, and
she said she didn't know they had them.  
I explained that they are just normal
looking brown spiders to most people, and she 
gasped after knowing she would just let 
her children kill them if they saw one.  
So pretty much after I moved from there,
even though I tried to spray, I know I took 
more with me to my next house.

I have read about them so much over the
years that I feel like I have learned alot about them.  But I am no expert, and anything I
write about on here is either something I 
read or something someone told me from their
first hand experience with them.  
 And I have heard alot of stories because so many people I ask have been bitten at one time or another, or know someone who has a horror story.  I so far have not been bitten (as I knock on wood, vigorously).

This is perhaps my most horrifying story that I was told first hand by a lady that I know who was helping her daughter
clean out a shed.  It was hot outside, which is what the brown recluse likes, so they were out and 
about in the shed.  The lady was wearing loose shorts and saw a spider on her leg and panicked.  He ran UP her shorts, which is what they tend to do is try to run up and over something to 
try to hide on the other side.  She tried to smash him, and that was a big mistake.  He bit her...yes...you know where.  I get chills and a sick feeling just thinking about it. :(

  One thing I have read over and over, is that 
they do not bite until you put pressure on them.
  They don't just walk across you and bite that I am even aware of.

That is why sooo many people get bit while putting on their clothes.  The LOVE to hide in
our clothes, and when we put on our clothes, the pressure from the clothes touching our bodies makes them bite us.  If you ever ever do see one on you, DO NOT smash it.  Brush it off if at all possible.  

I know it may seem super silly, but I do not put on anything
until I observe it well and actually either fold it and stomp on it, or shake it well then squeeze whatever it is from top to bottom so that I would squish any would be spider inside.  
Something I read years ago that I loved was that it may be gross but, 

"A squished spider cannot bite."

Most of the stories I have been told are from clothing or shoes that was put on.  I did have one lady that sat down in a used car that she and her husband were looking at to buy.  It had been sitting for a long time in a shed.  She had on shorts and sat on one.  She ended up with a huge hole in the back of her leg after the rotting had stopped. 
I have never written these stories down, and it gives me the creeps, but I really felt like I needed to get this information out of my head...and today was the day.

More crappy news is that brown recluses are
hard to kill and can live for years.  They also can live for months and months without food and water and are not above cannibalism.  If they don't have food, they will eat each other...that is what we are dealing with here. 
 UGH!   
There are a few sprays and powders that have been found to be effective on killing at least a portion of them, but due to their reclusive nature they still can avoid alot of killing methods.  
They also walk 
with their body held off the ground more so than most spiders, so they don't drag their body through
the poison, making it even less effective on them.
They like bugs but are not picky, if you kill their prey, they really don't care.  They don't mind eating dead bugs, it really just makes it easier on them, so they say...thanks for killing my food for me.  :(

Once again, this is all stuff that I have read or been told over the years and have read in enough places that I am pretty sure most of it is true.

4 years ago, my dad got in the bed to lay down.  He did not check the bed beforehand, and as he got in, he felt a tiny tiny prick on the back of his leg.  He got up and searched to no avail.  The next day, he showed me and there was a spot that looked just like a bruise about the size of a quarter.  We were both sure of what bit him.  He waited a couple hours but the spot was getting bigger, so he went to the doctor.  She gave him a shot of 
anti venom, and I believe an antibiotic shot...not 100% sure because I have forgotten exactly what he got.  I have heard similar stories where they get a shot that is for leprosy, which probably was what this was.  They have found it to be best for brown recluse bites.  Anyway, dad's leg continued to look grosser by the day and he got more shots and was told..."DO NOT PICK AT IT."
And yes, he was really wanting to pick at it, but it really didn't need to be opened up.  By the time it got to its' worst point, several days later, it covered a large portion of the back of his thigh and was black, blue and red looking under the skin.  After several more shots, it started to heal from the inside and actually got better and did not "rot" out like they can and have to be dug out...which makes me want to gag thinking about it.  He also was fortunate for catching it early and not getting sick.  Most of the time, people may not even be aware they are bitten and go a day or so, then they can get flu like symptoms and really need medical attention.  It took several months, but his leg healed completely, thank goodness!

As far as the bites, I have read also that normally the male is the spider that bites most people.  The female stays with the egg sac having a 100 more babies and waits for the male to go hunting (in our bed of course).  The severity of the bite is determined by many factors.  The age of the spider for one, if it is a young spider, it may not know how to control the amount of venom that it uses, so it may inject more into its' victim.  Also how hungry the spider is makes a difference. They are likely to inject more venom if they are hungry, to be sure and kill their victim or prey.  The severity of the bite also is determined by the person they bite.  I really believe it is similar to being stung by a wasp.  Some of use are barely allergic, while some of us could die from asphyxiation from a bee or wasp sting.  Spider bites are similar in that, some people may get bit and never even know it.  They may get a small raised bump or no bump at all, whereas, some people are like the man I knew in my next story.  

A customer of mine put his overalls on one morning and felt a bite of some kind on his inner thigh, but not knowing about brown recluses, he went about his day thinking it was just something that barely stung him.  Several hours later, he said he thought he was going to die.  He had a pretty bad reaction and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.  He had fever and even said he blacked out for a bit.  He recovered but was very aware of the spiders after that day.  This is one of the stories that makes me pretty sure that people can have an allergic reaction to them that would be similar to other insect allergies. 

 After mentioning I was writing this, another customer just told me a story that will give me even more nightmares.  He said his grandfather got bitten on his back, and it got pretty much swollen to the point it was like he had a softball on his back.  The bite got so bad that he actually ended up having a heart attack and dying.  That was the saddest story I have been told about one. 
It just made me sit here and stare at my computer. Sigh :(

Some people may have been bitten and never even know it.  I sure hope I am in this category, but I am going to try my best to avoid getting bitten, just in case I am not.

Another tidbit is that the fangs of the fiddleback are not very big.  Therefore, from my readings, they cannot bite THROUGH your clothing.  That's not to say if it is a really thin shirt or something that they may not can, but typical clothing is too thick for their fangs.  The bad part is that they like to hide so normally, they are already INSIDE 
our clothing.  We make them bite us when we press down on them.  I just cringe thinking about it.  :(

Recently in the news, I noticed that
 that Megan Linsey (who I was not aware of because I rarely watch), but she was the runner up on the Voice season 8 and was bitten on the FACE while she was sleeping.  She had a terrible time with it.  You can just type in her name and there are pictures all over the internet.  It makes me queasy to think I would roll over on one with my face.  

As far as killing these abominations...
I have tried several different sprays and bombs and powders over the years.  Like I said, they are definitely not the easiest thing to kill.  I think they are the cockroach of spiders.  They hide in the walls and crevices and corners.  They love clutter and anything that doesn't get moved very often.  Pyrethrins is one of the chemicals that I have read that can actually kill them, and that I have used.  They make various sprays and foggers and powders that contain this chemical.  Typical foggers that you get at the store are not effective because of the nature of the brown recluse.  That's not to say it might not kill one if it hits him directly, but it is not effective like it would be on other insects as far as them walking through the residual spray and dying.  I typically order my stuff from domyownpestcontrol.com.  You can type in your bug problem, and they will give you ideas on what products may help to rid you of your pest.  Also the Co-Op here locally, sells a dust called Demon I believe that you add to water and spray.  It has been found to be also slightly effective on them as well.

Ok...now that I have talked about them this much, I feel super creepy like I knew I would.  I just wanted to post this in case anyone might read it and be more aware of the brown recluse.  Kids are even more susceptible because their bodies might not can handle the venom like an adult.  So try to watch for these spiders and if you see very many, buy some sticky traps or spray to try to prevent being the next victim.  

I sprayed my attic and bedroom like a crazy woman this morning and put down the extra sticky traps around the bed. If you have pets, you need  to fold the sticky insect traps to prevent them from getting stuck to them.  If you don't, just let them lie flat against the baseboard.  These spiders like to walk against the baseboard more than just across a room.  If you fold them, also put them against the baseboard.  You can also put some under your couch, bed, etc. to find out where they may hang out.  

That is all I have.  I am spidered out.  :(


Friday, May 26, 2017

You can make your own butter in 20 minutes? What the crap?


Facebook containing the wealth of knowledge
 that it does, has inspired me
many times through recipes, how-tos, 
did-you-knows.  This experiment
has to be one of my favorites though!

There was a blog that popped up on how to
make your own butter just by using 
whipping cream.  
I was immediately intrigued.
So of course on the way home, I picked 
up a half pint of whipping cream. 

The instructions were pretty simple.
You just need a jar with a tight lid and just
enough of the whipping cream to fill it 
a little less than half way.  It needs to be able to shake
well.


Then simply shake it for 20 minutes.  To be honest, the first 5 went pretty fast, but the next 15, not so much.   I took the lid off to look after 10, and 
it had turned into something resembling
marshmallow fluff.  It seemed
harder to shake while it was in this
state because it was not moving, but I kept 
shaking.  If your mind is slightly in the gutter,
like mine tends to stay, it will also be 
an entertaining 20 minutes.
My boyfriend helped by
shaking for a couple of minutes to give me a
break in between, which helped. ha:)

After 15 minutes, I could tell it was separating
into buttermilk and butter.  I took the lid
off and amazingly it smelled just like buttermilk.
I am still just in awe of how it goes through 
this transforming process.  Even if you only
do this once, you gotta try it.  

After 20 minutes I poured off the buttermilk into
a small glass, and scooped the butter into a dish.  
The instructions I had read said to rinse the
butter in cold water to make it keep longer.
It seemed a little weird to rinse the butter, but do your best to get the residual buttermilk out of
it.  If you don't get the buttermilk out, I read that
it will go sour in a week.  Whereas, if you 
rinse it thoroughly through a sieve, it will 
keep 2-3 weeks.  I didn't have a sieve, so I will
make sure and eat mine within a week. 


I tend to like salt, so I normally buy salted
butter.  I added a heavy dash of salt to my fresh butter, and it turned out good.  Well, at least my dad said so.  I brought him some 
to eat with the toast 
that he sometimes eats for breakfast.  I plan
on eating mine tonight with some biscuits
as a breakfast for supper night.  The 
buttermilk will probably make great
buttermilk pancakes too!

I also think this will make the BOMB flavored
butter.  Just add some of your favorite jam to it and mix it up a little, spread it on a hot
roll....oh my:)


Love what you eat and eat what you love! :)




Saturday, March 25, 2017

Oven taters beans and chicken...SUPER easy!


I have been in an experimental cooking 
mood, and I saw an oven meal on Facebook 
I adapted it to what I had handy and the 
flavors I know we like.
It turned out to be super easy and was
a really delicious supper!

There is not alot of foods that can beat 
a good ole' fried tater.  
This oven method turned out some
yummy potatoes that were as
good as fried.

Oven Taters Beans and Chicken

5-6 medium red potatoes washed
one medium sweet onion
bag of frozen green beans
1 pkg chicken breasts
soy sauce 
olive oil
butter
Greek seasoning
garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place chicken breasts in a bowl or large Ziploc bag and add several dashes of soy sauce to coat them. Put the chicken back into the fridge to marinate. Cut the potatoes and onions into chunks. Place them on a large baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and toss to coat.  Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.


While potatoes are baking, cook the green beans for about 3 minutes in a little water just to get them unfrozen. Drain them well with a colander and try to press most of the moisture out of them.  Remove the potatoes from the oven and sprinkle the green beans on top. To the veggies, add some Greek seasoning, garlic powder, and a couple of dashes of soy sauce (not too much soy, it is very salty and the green beans will soak it up).  Toss or stir them lightly to coat.
Lay the chicken breasts on top of the veggies and sprinkle them with Greek seasoning and garlic powder.  Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake the whole pan for about 35-50 minutes or until the chicken is done and the taters are tender. I slightly stirred the veggies half way through.  Also about 10 minutes before they were done, I put a little butter on top of each chicken breast so it would be super moist.  



Get cooking! :)




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cabbage and not your ordinary meatballs


It is strange sometimes how food
enters my brain.  I may start in the morning
trying to figure out what I want for
supper and sometimes I have no
clue even at the end of the day.  

Yesterday I started out craving something
like spaghetti and meatballs, but I was trying to
figure out how to make it more healthy.
Not that spaghetti is terrible, but the
noodles alone are pretty rich in calories.

Then I remembered I had a head of cabbage
in the fridge that needed to be used.
So cabbage and meatballs it became...

But these are no ordinary meatballs...
We processed our own deer burger back in 
the fall, and I added canned jalapenos, 
diced garlic, bacon and 
Greek seasoning to the meat 
while grinding it.  Therefore, while
sitting in the freezer, all those flavors melded
together and made some yummy meatballs.

I am sure you could buy some ground 
chuck and add similar 
ingredients one day, then let it sit in the
refrigerator until the next day to incorporate
the flavors into the meat. 

Cabbage and meatballs

1 small head of cabbage, chopped roughly
1 small onion diced
1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds ground meat (mine was deer)
1 egg
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 can petite diced tomatoes (15oz)
1 can tomato sauce (15oz)
garlic powder
salt 
pepper

In a large deep skillet, add the cabbage, onion, a little salt and pepper and the water, cover with a lid and cook on medium low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You can add more water if it gets too dry, but you want most of the water to cook out.  While the cabbage is cooking, mix the egg, meat and breadcrumbs together with some garlic powder, salt and pepper and form it into balls about the size of golf balls.  



Place the meatballs on top of the cooked cabbage.


Then pour the tomatoes and sauce over the top...


Put the lid back on and cook on low for about an hour or until the meatballs are done, stirring about 2-3 times and making sure there is enough liquid.  You can add more tomato sauce to make it more of a soup if you would like.  


It is not the prettiest thing, but I added a little
shredded sharp cheddar on top, and it was
yummy!






Enjoy everyday! :)







Friday, March 17, 2017

Asparagus quiche...or your favorite other veggie


When I try to think of what is for supper,
sometimes I can just look through 
pictures and something will catch my eye.
I was looking through pictures on Google 
yesterday trying to decide what I was craving
and playing Word with Friends on the computer
with my sister.  
She said that the night before they made 
a quiche for supper and Bingo! I had
my supper idea.

I knew I had a bunch of asparagus in
the fridge that needed to be eaten, and 
asparagus was meant for a quiche.  It must be
the harvest time for asparagus somewhere 
because it is as cheap as you will ever see 
it in the store, and it is fresh and beautiful, 
so I have been buying alot lately.

I wanted to write this recipe down because it
turned out pretty good, and it is so much
easier to just look back at my blog. :)

Basic Quiche 
(add your favorite veggie)

2 T butter
6 eggs
1/3 cup milk or whipping cream
1/2 finely diced onion
1 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 bunch of asparagus (or other veggie) chopped into about 1" pieces 
seasoned salt and pepper 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet.  I also sprayed the edges with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk the eggs and milk very well in a large bowl.  Add the onion, cheese, salt and pepper and stir well.  Pour into the skillet and bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.  After 10 minutes, drop your veggies into the egg mixture which will be starting to set around the edges.  Bake for approximately 20-25 more minutes or until set.  

I am planning on trying this with broccoli next time.  I will use the frozen kind in the microwavable bag and drain it very well and 
drop it in just like the asparagus.  I think it will
be awesome. 

Love what you eat and eat what you love! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fresh salmon burgers! Soooo good!


This is one of those recipes that
I made years ago then forgot
how much I liked it.

I love salmon and have tried
it in many ways.  This burger
is the bomb and in my opinion...
better than a cheeseburger. :)

I regret that I didn't get a photo 
of my salmon burger.  
 I was a little too hungry, and it 
looked just a little too tasty to wait 
for a photo.
But I will try to get one next time!

Fresh salmon burgers

2 nice size salmon filets
1 egg
1/4 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce
2-3 large dashes of Cavendar's Greek seasoning

Chop the salmon filets with a large knife until  very finely diced.  Add the egg, crumbs, soy and seasoning to the salmon in a bowl and mix well.  If you have time, it is best to let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm up some.  Add enough oil to a large skillet to cover the bottom of it well and heat over medium to about 350 degrees.  While it is coming to temp, form one of the patties and gently place it in the oil.  Mine made 4 large patties.  I just made them about the size of a hamburger bun.  They will not shrink very much at all.  Cook about 3 minutes per side.  You want them to brown nicely but not burn.   

We topped these with cheese, lettuce and tomato.  Then he put mayo on his and I put avocado and mustard on mine.  You pretty much can top it how you normally eat your burger.  We LOVED these.  
I will most definitely be making them again soon!

Love what you eat and eat what you love! :)