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The Wonderful World of C~H~E~E~S~E December 18, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Special Events, Travel & Leisure.
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34 comments

On Saturday, we attended a Cheese Tasting presented by The Fresh Market at the Main Library.

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We had the opportunity to try 10 cheeses from the Eight Cheese Familes:

1. Fresh Cheeses ~ Goat Log and Cilegene (fresh mozzarella)

2.  Soft Ripened/ Bloomy Rind ~ Ile de France Brie

3.  Washed Rind ~ Chaumes

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4. Pressed Uncooked ~ Tillamook Vintage White Cheddar

5. Pressed Cooked ~ Kaltbach Cave Aged Gruyere

6.  Pasta Filata (Stretched Curd) ~ Armenian String

7. Blue Veined ~ Buttermilk Blue

8. Specialty ~ Wendsleydale cranberry and Cran Le Roule

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Each table of four tasters had all cheeses within arm’s reach which enabled us to compare and contrast the tangy peppery goat log with the rich Brie with the sharp Buttermilk Blue.

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Karen LaBonte, the cheese specialist, brought Raspberry and Apricot preserves to pair with the White Cheddar and the Buttermilk Blue.  The Apricot preserves raised the Blue to stellar heights.

2014-12-13 14-46-30_0007Karen also brought a fresh Cheddar Cheese Curds for us to sample, amid squeaks.

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Following the tasting, the Manatee School for the Arts put on a short Holiday Concert.

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Giving attendees a chance to cleanse their palates with cookies and punch.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Are your favorite cheeses Mild or Sharp?  Nutty or Tangy?  Are they Stinky, Aromatic, and Pungent? Peppery, Grassy, or Musky?  Silky or Crunchy?  Citrusy, Earthy, Sweet, or Salty?  Elegant and Rich?  Or Rustic and Barn-yardy?

Holiday Simplicity December 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Life Balance, Special Events.
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54 comments

After reading Simplify Your Life in 1997, we stopped stressing over the holidays.  We do what we enjoy doing, and don’t do stuff that feels like a chore.  We’ve decided Less is More.

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We do not spend hours putting up a BIG tree or untangling lights.

We have a tabletop tree that we store decorated with favorite ornaments ~ many handmade. It’s good to go in about 15 minutes.

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Other decorations collected over the years (Santas, Reindeer, Elves) go from boxes to shelves in about 60 minutes.

When our nieces and nephews were tiny toddlers, I gifted Santas to them (which helped keep our decorations in check).

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Instead of shopping ’til we’re dropping, we send cheery cards and college checks to nieces and nephews, and consumables (food, wine, snacks, books) to family and friends.

BFF and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts with each other. Instead, we spend time creating experiential memories together.

Ignoring the call of the mall leaves us with time and energy to enjoy local Holiday Offerings . . . like the Candy Cane Crawl, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, and PIZZA on Pine Avenue.

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We stopped sending Christmas Cards to everyone we’ve ever known in every place we’ve ever lived or worked (NJ, VA, SC, NC, MD, and here).

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Culling the list from 250+ people we barely remember to those we genuinely care about and want to see again is a HUGE time saver each December.

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Which gives us a chance to enjoy Choirs of Angels in Santa Hats.

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Once they get situated with their hats on straight.

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A new tradition this year ~> collecting and gathering spare change to toss into the big red buckets manned by ubiquitous bell ringers.

Together with our cheery HO~HO~HO!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

What are your favorite traditions? Which ones could you do without?

Sea Hut’s Crab Trap December 1, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Food & Drink, Humor.
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35 comments

After exploring Terra Ceia Island, both the Arts & Crafts Show and the Madira Bickel Indian Mound, we decided to stop for a light lunch at the Sea Hut.

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We sat outside on a small deck with a big boat peering over our shoulders.

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Each table held a water glass to catch cracker wrappers from blowing away.

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A bright blue awning overhead acted as understudy for missing blue skies.

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The Sea Hut’s indoor decor included this toothsome totem.

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And another totem with a more malevolent expression.

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Back at the table, our Honey Puppies arrived in a cloud of powdered sugar.

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To keep our blood sugar on an even keel, we also ordered black beans & rice.

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Food tucked in to happy tummies, another toothsome grin appeared.

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On the way back to the car, we met up with Sideshow Bob in the parking lot.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Thanksgiving Grace November 27, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Fun & Games, Humor, People.
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36 comments

200px-March-hareLord, as you know
We’ve been trying of late
To stick to our diets
To lose some weight

On this day of Thanksgiving
Please turn a blind eye
As we inhale stuffing
And two slices of pie

We promise if you
Will look the other way
We’ll resume our diets
On Black Friday!

Aah . . . men!

For those of you in the States, may your Thanksgiving be full of grace.
Eat, drink, and be merry . . . for tomorrow we die-t!

Gobble.  Gobble.

Related post:  But I Don’t WANNA Be An Onion!

A Taste Of Mixon November 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Fun & Games, Humor, Nature.
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30 comments

A few days ago, we went to Mixon Fruit Farms and Groveside Market for “A Taste of Mixon.”  Guests traveled from station to station sampling Pizza, Fudge, Honey, Oranges, Orange Juice, Cheese, Key Lime Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Peach Chardonnay (and other wine varietals).

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After eating our fill, and turning in our passports, we went outside for a wander through the Citrus Groves.

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The lush landscaping looked great under blue blue skies.

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Benches invited wanderers to meander awhile.

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But the fish whispered . . . “Feed Me!”

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We complied.

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A mural (commissioned by koi) encourages visitors to feed the fish.

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How could anyone resist those friendly fins?

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Back on track, we continued our trek.

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And stumbled across a turquoise maze.

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Which invited us in.

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And in and in and in . . . the way mazes do.

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We got out.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

A Symphony On The Sand November 20, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Food & Drink, Humor, Music & Dance.
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34 comments

Last weekend, we went down to Coquina Beach for Symphony on the Sand.

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Despite gray overcast skies and steady drizzle, the audience enjoyed the show.

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Those who had ordered the $100 a plate dinner had to eat it with one hand while holding an umbrella over their head with the other.

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Since we hadn’t ordered dinner, we didn’t feel too crabby about the weather’s lack of cooperation.

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Especially since sunny skies tend to be rather prevalent here.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Fun Pub Signs November 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Fun & Games, Humor, Joke.
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38 comments

IMGP1105bKathy sent me some FUN Pub Signs.  My favorites:

* Today’s Special:  Buy 1 Pint for the price of 2 and get your 2nd Pint FREE.

* FREE Beer.  Topless Bartenders.  False Advertising.

* Alcohol and Calculus don’t mix.  Don’t drink and derive.

* Jokes about German Sausage are the Wurst.

* FREE Air Guitar with every Pint!

* The Perfect Martini:  Pour Gin, Vermouth, and Olives into the Trash where they belong.  Drink Whisky!

* Helping UGLY people have sex since 1864.

* Come in and meet your future Ex-Wife.

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* I distrust camels and anyone else who can go a week without a drink.

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* Alcohol!  Because no great story started with someone eating a salad.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

 

“Shiver Me Timbers!” November 8, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Fun & Games, Special Events.
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30 comments

The fun on Halloween did not begin and end at the Halloween Bake Sale.

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After getting a kid fix at the costume contest, we went to 101 Bridge Street to enjoy a cold draft beer.

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I ordered a Fat Tire to go with a Greek Pizza.

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BFF ordered a Ultra Light to go with a Four Cheese Pie.

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We didn’t waste any time digging in.

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On Saturday, before heading to the parade, we went to Coquina Beach to hook up with the Pirates.

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Standing next to me, this one looked rather dapper.

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But next to BFF, he looked like a dwarf pirate ~ not the least intimidating.

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Due to a cold front, the weather was too brisk for sun bathing.  That might be why we heard bones rattling as this guy sputtered, “Shiver Me Timbers!”

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Aah . . . that’s better!

A Halloween Parade & Fall Festival November 7, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Fun & Games, Humor, Special Events.
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42 comments

Tired of waiting for Trick or Treaters to ring our bell, we went out looking for them.

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And found them in droves.

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At the Trail of Treats sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

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This mom seemed a bit protective of her dragon.

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In addition to a Costume Contest, the kids had a chance to march in a Halloween Parade.

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It looked like so much fun that most of the parents joined in.  Costumes optional.

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At the end of the Parade route, we popped in to the Harvest Festival at Anna Maria Elementary School.

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In the lobby, we found a Bake Sale.

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With table after table of baked goodies.

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Amazed by the quantity and quality, we bought a package of Baklava . . . to assist the school’s fund-raising efforts.

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In addition to baklava, there were cakes, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, popcorn balls, witch’s fingers, cake pops, etc.

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We have never seen so much sugar in one place at one time before.

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The tables ran down both sides of the hallway.

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Guarded by witches, scarecrows, ghosts, spiders, pirates, and hobgoblins.

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The baked goods kept going and going and going.

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Now we know why we haven’t had a single Trick or Treater ring our doorbell in the five years we’ve lived here . . .

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They were all in a self-induced sugar coma at the school!

Aah . . . that’s sweet!

Curried Quinoi with Potatoes & Spinach November 6, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Vegetarian Recipes.
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38 comments

I often cook by experimenting with ingredients to come up with something “different.”  One step leads to the next to the next.

On Halloween, I went into the kitchen to mix up some Tabbouli and a batch of Black Bean Salsa ~ two favorite sides.

One . . .

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Two . . .

2014-10-31 14-45-12_0005I noticed two onions that needed cooking so I chopped them and tossed them into a saute pan with a bit of oil.

I added a couple of cubed potatoes to the pot.

Since that looked like the beginnings of Tattie Soup, I added a vegetarian bouillon cube and 2 cups of liquid (1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of tomato infused liquid drained from the can of Ro*Tel used for the Black Bean Salsa).

At that point, I remembered I had 1/2 cup of Tikki Masala in the fridge.  So I stirred that in, sure we’d enjoy a hearty bowl of Curried Potato Soup while watching Halloween Specials.

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Then I decided to defrost and add a 10-ounce package of frozen spinach to the mix.

After the soup morphed into Curried Potato and Spinach Soup, I opened the pantry and saw some organic quinoi that longed to jump into the jacuzzi.  I checked the instructions ~ ready in 15 minutes, the same cooking time as the potatoes.  Perfect!

I measured out 1/2 a cup, rinsed it, and stirred it in.  After the mixture came to a boil, I turned it down and let it simmer until the potatoes were tender, the quinoi was cooked, and most of the liquid was absorbed.

I took a quick taste.

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Aah . . . that’s yummy!

Do you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen?  Or would you rather follow a recipe?  (Or order take out?)

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