A Trip to Bass Pro Shop

As I noted earlier in a post this month we spent a week visiting our  son Sven and his family in League City, Texas. League City is half way between Houston and Galveston on Texas Highway 45. As we don’t have a Bass Pro Shop around here, I enjoy frequenting that establishment when ever I can. To get to a big Bass Pro Shop you have to take Highway 45 North from League City and get onto the Sam Houston Tollway heading west.

Upon approaching the first toll booth I remembered an incident that happened to us on the way to South Royalton, Vermont one year. I was driving a Ford Ranger pickup with a bicycle fastened to a bike carrier in the back of the pickup being followed by the Pickle Queen and our oldest son  in our van. I was slow getting off the line after paying a toll and unbeknown to me the wooden barrier came down between the cab of the pickup and the bike. Pickle Queen still gets a chuckle out of telling everyone how that barrier shattered into hundreds of pieces. But I digress.

About a half mile from the second toll booth, we saw a huge semi-truck crash into the toll booth stalling traffic. Finally, a Texas DOT truck drove up to the toll booth, a work crew jumped out of the truck, rushed up to the booth, and busily started to repair it. They applied a substance to the broken pieces, placed them back in order, and had everything put back together in no time. I looked over at the PQ and said, “They needed something like whatever these workers used on our trip to Vermont.”

Being totally amazed at how fast the fix was accomplished, I had to find out what the workers used. One of the workers was still next to the booth as I stopped to pay the toll, so I asked, “What on earth was that stuff you used to put the tollbooth back together with so fast?”

The workman, without blinking an eye, said, “Oh, that was toll gate booth paste.”

Keep your fork


The Girl Scout Cookie

Depending on the Council, troops of Girl Scouts spend six to eight weeks each spring selling cookies to fund their activities during the coming year. In 1917, a troop of Girl Scouts in Muskogee, Oklahoma baked and sold cookies to fund their yearly activities. By 1936, the Girl Scouts had licensed bakers to produce and distribute cookies across the United states. By the late 1940’s, 29 commercial bakers were making Girl Scout cookies. This number dwindled to four by 1978. Today, only two bakers are left. Councils across the nation order from one of these two licensed bakers each year. Their recipes are virtually the same, but the names of the cookies may vary. Both bakes use the THIN MINTS (the most popular cookie) and GIRL SCOUT S’MORES names but vary with the other cookie names, such as TREFOILO/SHORTBREAD, DO-SI-DO/PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH, CaRAMEL deLITE/SAMOA and  TAGALONG/PEANUT BUTTER PATTY.

Here is the original sugar cookie recipe which was developed in 1922.

1 c butter
1 c sugar, plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then vanilla, salt, milk, flour and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll out dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and if desired, sprinkle sugar on top. Bake in a quick oven (375 degrees) for about 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes 6-7 dozen.

Keep your fork

More Protein, Less Sugar

The trend to me seems to be consumption of carbs for the morning meal and protein in the evening. Supposedly weight control will be easier by following this advise. Throw less sugar into the mixture and you’ll be in tall grass. Here are a few thoughts on more protein and less sugar in your food plan.

  • Instead of using butter and/or sour cream on your baked potato, use salsa instead.
  • To flavor smoothies without adding fat, use peanut butter powder for the flavoring.
  • Substitute Greek yogurt for the mayo on sandwiches and salads.
  • Use warm apple sauce or sautéed fruit on waffles and pancakes rather than syrup.
  • Add a tomato slice, pepper strips and/or shredded spinach on a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • To get a thick, creamy texture with added protein and fiber to a smoothie, add cannellini or butter beans to it.
  • For added protein, use bone broth rather than chicken broth in your recipes.
  • Fill your plate with vegetable swap-outs such as cauliflower, rice or zucchini noodles.
  • To get a healthy, satisfying flavor to your veggies, try roasting rather than steaming or boiling them.
  • To add protein and Vitamin D to a garden salad, salad pasta or whatever, top with a poached or sunny side up egg or two.

Keep your fork



Excitement in Bentonville

The Norfolk Southern track in the Shenandoah Valley connects Front Royal to Waynesboro Virginia. The trackage was built on the Eastern side of the Massanutten Mountain as it was thought that the rail service would carry pig iron, cannon balls and other munitions to and from the furnaces in Page County during the Civil War. The trackage consists of a single track with various side tracks scattered between Front Royal and Waynesboro to allow trains traveling in both the Northerly and Southerly direction to meet and pass.

The cargo we see going by our place consists mainly of double decked containers going to and from the Inland Port located in Front Royal along with what ever they carry in tank cars, open gondola cars, box cars, etc. One big exception occurred one day last summer. As you know, the bigger circuses having mainly animal acts, were more or less forced out of business. They made one final sweep of the country by railroad and we were lucky enough to have the train pass our place late one afternoon. Here’s what happened at Bentonville, location of one of the side tracks 2 miles north of us early that evening.

The circus animals had been loaded and traveling for quite some time. Having to pull onto the side track at Bentonville to allow a container train to pass, it was decided to unload the animals and stay put on the siding until morning. Bentonville, being a small town consisting of a post office, 2 gas stations, a canoe outfitter  and around 9 homes, doesn’t see exciting things very often. So, when the circus train started unloading, a small crowd gathered.

While unloading, an elephant, frightened by two local boys, escaped and made its way to a nearby farm. The farmer’s wife, alone at the time, had never seen an elephant before. Looking out the kitchen window and seeing the large animal, she immediately called the Warren county sheriff.

“Sheriff,” she said, “there’s a huge animal that I’ve never seen before in my cabbage patch!”

“What does it look like?” the sheriff asked.

She replied, “It’s about ten feet tall, has four legs and two tails. I can’t tell the front from the back. It’s got one small tail on one end and a big long tail on the other end.”

“Well, what’s it doing?” the sheriff asked.

“It’s pulling up my cabbages with its long tail,” she answered.

“What’s it doing with the cabbages?” the sheriff asked.

She replied, “Sheriff, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you!”

Keep your fork

Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

If you’re a fan of  ‘Moonshiners’ on the idiot tube you already know that we live in the heart of home-made liquor country. Here’s a recipe for Irish Cream Liqueur for the more gentile of you who don’t have access to the needed equipment or hidden site to manufacture the medicine needed to ward off the chilblains.

1-3/4 c of your favorite liquor; Irish whiskey, brandy, rum, burbons, scotch or rye whiskey
1 14-oz can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 c (1/2 pint) whipping or light cream
4 eggs
2 Tbsp chocolate flavored syrup
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. Serve over ice if desired. Store tightly covered in the fridge up to one month. Stir before serving. Use only Grade A, clean, uncracked eggs.

Keep your fork

Fresh and Dried Herbs vs. Salt

Having been told to ‘throw away the salt shaker’ from more than one doctor was hard to hear. But with hypertension (high blood pressure) and CKD (chronic kidney disease) along with diabetes and cardiovascular (heart) worries, I took their advise to heart (No pun intended). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day, about 1 teaspoon of salt. I’ve found that by reducing the amount of salt I use, my taste buds are being retrained to sense other flavors. They say that you won’t even miss the taste of salt, but I haven’t come to that point yet.

We do have hanging herb containers just outside the kitchen door that I frequent while cooking along with other herbs and spices in the cabinet that help make my cooking more pleasant to the palette. Some salt ‘replacers’ include: thyme, mint, lemongrass, dill, chive, basil, parsley, black pepper, ginger, chili powder, vanilla extract and cinnamon.

Here are some thoughts on using less sodium without sacrificing flavor.

  • Do not have the salt shaker on the table.
  • Limit processed foods, including cured, pickled, salted or brined products.
  • Look for “No salt added” or “Low sodium” when selecting canned food options.
  • When selecting fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, choose the ones without sauces or seasonings.
  • Eat out less. You can control the amount of salt used when eating at home.
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt. Add dried varieties during cooking and fresh herbs at the end of cooking or when plating a dish.

Keep your fork

We just returned from a week in Texas visiting our son, Sven, and his family. Seeing the variety of people who call Texas home reminded me of this old Texas story.

A Texas farmer was making a visit to an Australian farm for the first time. While being shown around the farm, the Texan pointed over at a field and asked, “What’s growing out there is that field?”

The Australian replied, “Them are watermelons, mate.”

Scoffing, the Texan said, “In Texas, we grow potatoes that are bigger than that! What’s on those trees over there?”, pointing to nearby trees.

“Those are our finest Australian apples, mate,” answered the Australian farmer.

With a sneer, the Texan said, “Back in Texas, we grow grapes bigger than those apples.”

About that time, three kangaroos hopped by at a furious pace. Startled, the Texan asked, “What were those?”

The Australian farmer replied, “You mean you don’t have grasshoppers in Texas?”

Keep your fork