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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Idyllic IRELAND . . . and Irish Ham and Cabbage


Brown's Dolmen


a B&B on the Irish Coast

Ireland is Incomparable!  Just ask . . .

Marilyn and Bill.   



            From BRITISH COOKERY:  a complete guide to culinary practice in the British Isles

4 lb picnic ham
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
Brown sugar
1 large cabbage  

·        Boil the ham with bay leaf and peppercorns for 1 hour 40 minutes.
·        Remove ham.  Boil cabbage in the ham stock until tender.
·        Mash cabbage thoroughly.
·        Preheat oven to 450.
·        Strip off bacon rind and coat top of ham with breadcrumbs and brown sugar.
·        Bake ham 15 minutes until crisp. 
·        Reheat cabbage in oven at same time and serve with ham.

*                                                                 *******

I had doubts about mashing cabbage, but decided to try mashing some of the cabbage.  I quartered the cabbage and cooked/simmered it for 30 minutes in the pot with a lid on it.  The smallest chunk did mash pretty well. 

Anastasia and I did a taste comparison on the mashed cabbage versus unmashed and decided that the mashed actually had more flavour!  

So I put the lid back on and cooked the cabbage another 15 minutes.  It did mash/smash up but maybe you could cook it even longer.  I’m just not sure how mashed it’s supposed to be.  But it was good.

THE HAM was SO good that Anastasia said it may even be better than her roasted ham so she's going to try boiling her next ham!  I didn’t put on any breadcrumbs; just a bit of brown sugar.   Also I did NOT strip off the rind.  The ham looked great when it came out of the oven after only 15 minutes.

I served the ham and cabbage with those fantastic Scene-Stealing Potatoes I blogged 5 years ago:

Green Donuts on St. Patrick's Day, 2017, in Rockport, Texas

                     and Green Beer in Port Aransas, Texas  


Friday, 10 March 2017

Spring Break in TEXAS . . . the Plan

 Kepler loves trips and often asks when we go on another one.

So, with a four-year-old in mind, Bryan and I planned an 8-day round trip in TEXAS that would never involve more than 3 hours of driving in a day.


 It's going to be fun . . . lots of beaches! 

Photos from Past Trips with Kepler and Nicole


Bryan and I made potato noodles/gnocchi yesterday and then added them to sautéed cabbage and onions.  Delicious!

2 cups finely chopped cabbage
8 ounces sliced onions
2 tbsp butter
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried dill

Sauté cabbage and onions in butter until tender.  Stir in pepper, salt, and dill.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Kepler Moments 2016-2017 . . . and Marble Birthday Cake

 As Nicole says, “He has this weird ability to make every moment the most important and special one.”  

Gage Gardens in Marathon (March, 2016)

Chilly day, but Kepler got really excited about  riding a horse in Fort Davis (March)

                                                                   El Cosmico in Marfa  (March)

                                                                Portland, Oregon  (April)

Trail of Mosses, State of  Washington (July)

Victoria, B.C. (July)

Disneyland (December)

                                                              Cruise (December)

Kepler also makes friends wherever he goes!

                                                        A stranger's birthday party: Carl's Jr in Laredo (February)

Mall del Norte in Laredo

New Children's Museum in Laredo

Kepler's 4th Birthday:


½ cup softened butter
1 ½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup milk
4 stiff-beaten egg whites
2 one-ounce squares, unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 tbsp hot water
¼ tsp soda

*Preheat oven to 350.
*Butter and flour cake pan.   (13x9)
*Melt chocolate.  Set aside.
*Cream together butter and sugar.  Add vanilla.
* stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.
*Beat egg whites until stiff.
*Beat flour into butter alternately with milk.
*Fold in stiff egg whites.
*Combine chocolate, water, and soda.  Add to ½ the batter.
*Alternate spoonfuls of light and dark batter in the cake pan.
*Bake for 35 minutes and check.   It may take 45 minutes.

Kepler ate one wheel and gave the other one to Grandpa.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

COWBOY is a VERB, Alpine, Texas, Part 2 . . . and POPOVERS

“Howdy! Let’s Get Started!” was the first session, and Amy Auker who cowboys in Arizona warmed us up with a tender poem about a cow and a calf.  Love turned out to be the main theme of the two-day Cowboy Poetry Gathering.  Love of family, love of the cowboy way of life, love of country, love of the land, love of horses . . .  love of one’s pickup truck.

Mike Blakely introduced the other key note when he told us a story about his father.  When asked for the secret of success in his 60 year marriage, Mike’s father replied, “I don’t try to run her life . . . and I don’t try to run mine.”

Twelve different sessions were scheduled for each hour! We didn't know any of the performers so we were trying to choose between titles like "Snake Bit & Saddle Sore" and "If This Hat Could Talk" or "Swift Justice".
The first CD I bought was by Caitlyn Taussig who cowboys in Kremmling, Colorado.  She’s a beautiful young woman who went to university but couldn’t wait to get back to ranching.  Some of her songs are murder ballads!

A session called “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” featured Doug Figgs, a farrier and songwriter who incorporates Spanish into his lyrics.   His grandson, at 10 years of age, has already won a couple of buckles at rodeos and enough money to buy a horse. 

Kevin Davis, singer-songwriter as well as firefighter and rodeo cowboy, wore a turquoise bead necklace and the white shirt below.  His song about a man and his son put a lump in my throat and I saw two men wiping their eyes. 

Sally Bates, a witty poet-singer, prefers to read her poems rather than recite them from memory, citing an old friend: “It took me 60 years to get these words from my head to paper so I’m in no rush to put them back again.”  Her dad was a 'cow-boss' and later a 'jigger-boss'.  One of her poems was about sitting at a kitchen table "When Daddy and Uncle Dick would talk". 

Doris Daley from Alberta, Canada, imagined for us what it would be like to be a mother whose 15-year-old son dies on a cattle drive to Nebraska.

Jim Wilson (black vest), backed up by his friend Jim Jones, made us laugh with “As I walked out in the streets of Lajitas”, a song about the Snowbirds in Texas who mispronounce words and insist on riding ‘horsies’.
Red Steagall, with his powerful voice and stage presence, commands a lot of respect among his fellow artists.  He even performed at the White House for President Reagan. For its motto, the Sul Ross University has adopted the phrase "ride for the brand" from Steagall's poem, "The Brand".

Dan Roberts mentioned that he drove about 160 miles in a round trip to Terlingua that weekend to eat the queso at the Chile Pepper Cafe. I bought a CD by Dan Roberts who has written songs for Garth Brooks.  I loved the ghost song he co-wrote called “The Beaches of Cheyenne”. 

I wasn’t ready for the weekend to be over so quickly so I also bought a CD by Gail Steiger whose stories and sense of humor reminded me of my brother, Donald.  When he autographed it he said with a twinkle in his eye, "As the guys says, if you don't like it you can mail it back to me and I'll send you one that I don't like."

The final performance was on Saturday evening.  There was Mikki Daniel, so talented and pretty, but grey-haired Yvonne Hollenbeck won a standing ovation for a poem about a quilt and the American flag. 
The “Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering” was so much more than we expected.  Thank you to all the performers and the volunteers and organizers in Alpine, Texas.

I'd like to offer something in return so here is one of my favorite recipes.



2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil

·        Start oven preheating to very hot: 475 degrees.
·        Grease well 6 to 8 tin muffin cups or pyrex custard cups.
·         Beat together eggs, milk, flour, and salt with electric beater for 1 and ½ minutes. 
·        Add oil.  Beat 30 seconds.  DO NOT OVERBEAT!
·        Fill muffin cups ½ full. 
·        Bake 15 minutes.  Then reduce heat to 350 and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and firm. 

·        Serve hot with butter and jam.  YUM!

Monday, 27 February 2017


Every year, Alpine hosts a Cowboy Gathering. Performers who actually live and work on ranches present songs and poems and stories about how those came to be written.

Our weekend was journaled by Bryan:

Day One:  Thursday, February 23, 2017

We reached Alpine about 5 pm and drove straight to the Sul Ross State University campus to buy tickets for the weekend events.  They went on sale at noon and it was first-come first-served so the Friday night show was already sold out!  Then, we walked around to check out the locations of the next day’s venues.  It is an impressive campus situated on a hill.

There’s a cactus garden, and I never realized that there were so many different kinds.   Note the names . . . especially of this fella below!

Our next stop was to book into the Value Lodge which lived up to its name.

If you would prefer something fancier, the HOLLAND HOTEL's the place to be.


we snagged a window seat and enjoyed a plate of spicy “Epic Fries”;  

beer-battered and loaded with homemade queso, BBQ brisket, bacon, aioli,  green chile sauce, and more!


Of course, a Chuckwagon Breakfast was offered each morning, but it was chilly out so the first morning we headed to Magoo's Restaurant instead. 

Bryan had a splendid breakfast burrito 
 while I tried the pancakes.  

Not as good as my pancakes . . . Just sayin'.


MY BEST BUTTERMILK PANCAKES  (makes 10 to 12 pancakes)

Buttermilk is a magic ingredient.  There is NO substitute. It makes pancakes so fluffy!

1 ½ cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp vegetable oil

*Stir together dry ingredients in a small bowl.
*Beat egg in medium-sized bowl.  Stir in buttermilk and oil.
*Stir in dry ingredients but don’t beat.  Batter will be lumpy.

*Butter hot frying pan and bake pancakes.

          Fluffy and fantastic!