I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A 5-K, Turkey and Papaya Jam

Life has been fairly hectic lately...but when isn't it?

Work is crazy, the house is a wreck and 5 am is a time I see on a fairly regular basis for training for a half marathon. This week I even ran my first 5-k in 10 years and did not do bad at all. 9 seconds stood between my goal of 11 minute miles and the reality of my performance. So next time I will simply run 9 seconds faster. Or I may simply set another goal and blow my 9 seconds out of the water.

This week there was an awesome sale at Publix and turkeys were only .59 per lb. Frugal me went for the  lowest priced one in the freezer and it was a mere $10.08. It did not dawn on me that 10.08 translated into a big a** turkey. We went to mom's for Thanksgiving thus Mr. Turkey's goose was cooked on Friday. A 19 lb Turkey is FREAKIN' BIG- for two people. After an awesome dinner we pulled it all off of the bone and made 2 crock pots of stock that cooked overnight last night.

Turkey is great and a treat we savor only a few times a year. However, waking up this morning to the smell of turkey stock was completely nauseating. Windows were thrown open and the doors as well, to encourage a breeze to get the smell out of the house We did get 6 quarts of meaty rich stock. Four of which are resting in the freezer and two that are simmering in soup as I type. And...the house smells like turkey yet again.....sigh... this may be a record.

Simmering fruit and sugar replaced the smell of turkey for a few hours today as 15 lbs. of papaya became jam. (The 15 lbs was the peeled and cleaned weight). Pomona's pectin can make anything into jam if you try hard enough. There is an issue of adding acid to the papaya as it's natural pH is too high to be safely canned in a water bath. Lime juice and ascorbic acid worked well to get the jam in a lovely safe spot and not affect the beautiful taste of the sweet orange hued canned sunshine. We now have 20 glowing pints cooling and at least 60 more pounds of fruit on the tree. Seriously, I could start a business. Only  it would be regulated by the same division I work for and that gets waaaay too hairy. That gets filed under someday.

Hope everyone is enjoying Turkey as much as we are...


Friday, November 1, 2013

Pimento Cheese and Beer..... or.... Why I will never be stick thin!

Today I made pimento cheese. So yummy! Years ago at a small Country Club in Durham, NC, the little old lady who ran the snack bar taught me how to make real southern pimento cheese spread. It was so easy and so delicious. Pieces of shredded cheddar mixed with plain old mayonnaise and bits of canned roasted red pepper, adding sweetness to the spread. It was seasoned with only Tabasco and salt.

Spread on cheap white bread and grilled... OMG.....heavenly. When you add an ice cold beer on the side you enter another whole dimension...nirvana! From the same amazing woman I also learned about good ham salad and cheese straws. Anyone see where this is leading? Needless to say I was the thinnest of any time in my life. However, that was most likely from the pack a day habit, pot of coffee a day and the 12-16 hour workdays more than the food.

Greasy cheeseburgers with bacon, chili cheese fries, chili cheese burgers with slaw on them, 1/4 lb hot dogs with slaw and mustard, Carolina BBQ, chicken and dumplings, peach cobbler, dump cake, mustard greens and collards greens simply swimming in bacony brothy goodness, cornbread- Oh my! Long live the food of the south! All of it was amazing. Then I went to Culinary School and discovered warm buttery croissants stolen from the bakeshop and eaten with hot rich coffee to which full fat cream has been added. Followed by tastes of Tuit Amande, Creme DuBarry, Crepe au Crabe Benedictine. Yet, I was still thin. Again the pack a day, pot of coffee and long hours most likely contributed.

Then years later, reality hot and I stopped smoking. My weight went up but still was manageable. Grad school  and running came along and by that time I was vegetarian. Weight back down. Lovely!

Then when I moved back to Florida, running sucked (from asthma) and I gave up being vegetarian, moved in with my then boyfriend, now hubby, a chef. We cooked, we ate, we drank wine, such good food!! Weight really went up. Started doing serious yoga and riding my bike to work. Weight back down.

Yo-yo describes me. Got laid off and began sitting a lot on the next job, some yoga, no bike riding....Guess what?...Yep, weight back up. Asthma got a lot worse and I was sick a lot....on steroids... you see where this is going?

Today, I run when asthma permits. which happens to be several days on most weeks. Slowly, some of the inches are coming off. The weight...not as much but I feel tons better. The asthma is under control. A vegetarian diet is what I am eating most of the time. So bye bye double bacon cheeseburger.
But hey Pimento Cheese is still vegetarian and Gluten Free Beer Rocks. Tonight I had a little bit of nirvana, on gluten free crackers with a beer. It ain't Carolina BBQ but I am loving it!!!!