Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tybee Island - Part Two

 I fell in love with these striking red and white blooms on Tybee Island. My friend Suzy helped me identify them, and they are St. Joseph’s Lily, Hardy Amaryllis, Johnson’s Amaryllis, Bouquet Amaryllis The stunning St. Joseph’s Lily (Hippeastrum x johnsonii) that is so fondly associated with many Southern gardens.

I have been asked "what did you eat at Paula Deen's restaurant" and "how did you hear about Tybee Island". 

We decided to eat at Lady and Sons after touring Historic Savannah on a trolley. It was 11:15 a.m..  there weren't the usual lines going down the block, and we wanted to say we tried Southern food. Once we entered the building, it was just about filled to capacity so they asked if we would like to wait or sit at the bar. We didn't want to wait, so we chose to sit at the bar which turned out to be a good choice We mingled with the tourists at the bar, and the bar tender was very personable. We decided to try the Southern Buffet and had fried chicken, mac n' cheese, collard greens, yams, okra, hoecakes, cheese biscuits and peach cobbler. Not my typical lunch, but we enjoyed it.  Our favorite restaurant on Tybee Island is Sundae Cafe. We gave it five stars. 

We were looking for a destination for Joe's spring break to get away from winter's chill. We hadn't taken a road trip recently, and  my friend's cousin has traveled around the world, and said one of her very favorite places is Tybee Island. She told us it is beautiful, secluded, and only a 16-hour drive from Upstate NY so we decided to give it a try. I was immediately sold when I discovered that the cottages on Tybee rent for roughly half of what we had been paying to stay at a resort in Key West. We got a cozy cottage that offered us both marsh / estuarine creek and beach front environments. The beach was six blocks away and accessed by low traffic cross streets. Horsepen creek, with it's tidal marshes, was at our back door and accessed from the private floating dock. Beach combing, kayaking, boating, fishing, wildlife photography, and visiting the un-inhabited islands and beaches of Little Tybee were all at our fingertips. The cottage is about 1,000 sq/ft with two large windows allowing creek/marsh views. We didn't bring our kayaks but there was plenty of room to store and wash down kayaks, canoes, and even power boats. The back yard was enclosed with a privacy fence and we saw many bird species in the back yard, and occasionally you will see dolphins feeding right off the dock during half tide. 
 The dolphin photo was sent to me by the cottage owner, and was taken at Christmas time. 

I vaguely knew there were barrier islands off the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas, You have to drive through Savannah, Georgia to get to Tybee Island and what a beautiful Southern city it is. Tybee Island is actually nicknamed “Savannah’s Beach” because it’s only about 15 minutes away from Savannah; it’s very easy to take a day off from the beach and spend some time in Savannah, so we did a trolley tour and a little shopping.
I couldn't resist buying handmade honey soap at Savannah Bee. 
Chocolat by Adam Turoni was the sweetest chocolate shop. I bought these sourwood honey filled chocolate bars.

For those of you have been to Savannah, you know a trip to the Paris Market is a must. It's right near Paula Deen's restaurant, and it full of treasures.
When we visited the lighthouse, there was a museum at the beach so I took photos of the wool bathing suits and did some research. Can you imagine wearing one in the hot sun? This is what I found on Victoria magazine's website. During the early 1900s, people flocked to oceanside beaches for popular seaside activities as swimming, surf bathing, and diving. The only activity for women in the ocean involved jumping through the waves while holding onto a rope attached to an off-shore buoy. Their clumsy Victorian and Edwardian style bathing suits were often quite burdensome. Women typically dressed in black, knee-length, puffed-sleeve wool dresses, often featuring a sailor collar, and worn over bloomers trimmed with ribbons and bows. The bathing suit was accessorized with long black stockings, lace-up bathing slippers, and fancy caps.

The lighthouse and the surrounding buildings are perfectly restored. Prepare yourself for the 178 stairs to the top though! We took in the beautiful view of Tybee Island from the top.
 One of the reasons for Tybee’s diverse coastal marine flora and fauna is its particular location on the east coast between Cape Hatteras NC, and Cape Canaveral FL. Tybee is inhabited by northern cold-water species during cooler months, and then during warmer months there are warm-water, tropical species that extend up the coast to Tybee from the south. This nature girl was very happy exploring Tybee Island!
Tybee art
We arrived home from Tybee Island just in time to host Easter dinner for my family!

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tybee Island, Georgia

We recently enjoyed a slower pace and returned home just in time to host Easter dinner for my family of 12.
Local seafood and atmosphere 
 Enjoyed seeing two lighthouses on the island.

We had two beach days. The other days were only 55-60 degrees.
 Miles of white sandy beaches
 We grabbed lunch at Lady and Sons in Savannah on the day we took the trolley tour.  Filled my shopping tote with some southern goodies.
Spanish moss dripping from the trees in Savannah.
A very laid back island (no ball gowns), we enjoyed the nature trails.
Creative small businesses
Cherokee Roses blooming in March

Lights out! Sea turtles dig in the dark. Tybee has incredible turtle ponds.
Loved the polka dot shutters on the cottage across the street from ours.
Tybee Island is a picturesque, casual town located 20 minutes east of Savannah, GA. Perhaps the most laid-back destination on the southeastern coast, Tybee Island offers something for everyone with its miles of white sandy beaches, incredible turtle ponds, wildlife-filled marshes and epic sunsets.
Who can resist this home with a 45 foot Porch with views of the Ocean. It even has an Elevator in the kitchen to haul groceries.  Surely, one of the finest homes on Tybee.  I was going to take a photo of it, but felt awkward.
 We rented a cottage on Horsepen Creek, and the property had some of the most beautiful azaleas I have ever seen. I have since found out that the owner's mom was an avid gardener until her health began to fail in her mid 80's. 
 Her favorites were azaleas, camellias, and day lilies. She had many varieties of all three. She had rooting beds for azaleas and distributed many plants to various friends for over 40 years.  He said there's at least several thousand plants around Savannah that she rooted from cuttings of various varieties. The house he grew up in was on 1 3/4 acres and probably 1/4 was in various flower beds. In his early days he had to dig many holes when he would have rather been out in the adjacent woods.  Probably spurred his "turn to the sea"--he could get away in a boat whilst his younger brother got stuck with the digging. 
I have a million more pictures, but I don't want to bore you. After a long New York winter, everything looked so lush and beautiful so I just kept taking pictures.

Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Key West - Let's Party

Looking at the photo below, you'll see that our weather is far from tropical. We can pretend that is white sand ;-)  Made a quick trip to Hobby Lobby and Aldi's for a few palms and hosted a Key West themed dinner for our family last weekend. We've been wanting to do this since returning from Key West last February, and chose several menu items from the cookbook "My Key West Kitchen".
The menu consisted of several dishes from the cookbook I picked up in Key West and others I found on the internet after doing some extensive research and reading reviews. I love reviews and they were spot on.
Key Lime Pie Martinis
Skip and Go Naked Drinks (Susan Branch)
Coconut Shrimp
Tuna Cakes
Candied Bacon Pineapple Wraps
Pork Havana Key West Style*
Oven Roasted Mojo Chicken*
Dinosaur BBQ Honey Corn Bread
Yellow rice*
Black beans*
Sunshine's Key Lime Pie*
Cuban Coffee

* = menu items from "My Key West Kitchen" by Chef Norman Van Aken

I used a recipe from one of the establishments in Key West for the Key Lime Pie martinis and they  taste just like key lime pie in a glass. I'd love to pour one for you ;-)

Key Lime Pie Martini
Graham cracker crumbs, for rimming the glass
2 lime wedges
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) vanilla flavored vodka
1/4 cup (2 ounces) key lime liqueur (recommended: Ke Ke Beach Key Lime Cream Liqueur)
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Ice cubes

Pour the graham cracker crumbs in a shallow dish. Rub a lime wedge around the edge of a martini glass and roll the edge in the graham cracker crumbs. Chill the glass for 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Combine the vanilla vodka, key lime liqueur, pineapple juice, and cream in a shaker. Fill the shaker half full with ice and shake until well blended. Pour into prepared martini glass, garnish with a lime wedge and serve immediately.
What’s so special about Key West?
The weather, architecture, food, music and flowers blooming in the full moon light, especially in February for me. And for anybody else that wants it ;-) Key West lies 150 miles south of Miami and 90 miles north of Cuba. This little spit of land, four miles long by two miles wide, hosts weather that is consistently beautiful thanks to its subtropical climate, with temperatures of seventy-five to eighty degrees year round.
“Over the years, what used to be a funky little out-of-the-way, stuck-in-time place, has evolved into a sophisticated island resort. The little Conch houses have been bought up, remodeled, and often resold. And although the gentrification of Key West is celebrated by some residents and opposed by others, the fact remains that people who have the means to go anywhere in the world keep coming back to this place, just as my husband and I have returned again and again.”
Leslie Linsley "A Tropical Lifestyle"
A Tommy Bahama tablecloth from the Christmas Tree Shoppe, margarita glasses, tea light candles in blue mason jars with a label I printed from the computer, star fish, sea shells, mini palm trees from Hobby Lobby and bottles of Fiji water. 
Several items on our menu were gluten free including these tasty crispy coconut shrimp. They were a bit hit served with homemade pineapple salsa.
One of our entrees was an eight-bone rack of pork prepared Key West Style. The rub was made with olive oil, black peppercorns (bruised), Old Bay seasoning, garlic and red onion. The glaze was olive oil, butter, garlic, sweet onion, orange, toasted cumin seeds, sherry wine vinegar and orange marmalade.  
Our second entree was Oven-Roasted Mojo Chicken that was marinated overnight in Sour Orange Mojo (a class Latin-American sauce) which consisted of garlic, Scotch bonnet chiles, kosher salt, toasted cumin seeds, EVOO, fresh sour orange juice, sherry wine vinegar and pepper. I couldn't find sour oranges, so the recipe said to use equal portions of lime and orange juice.

Some Key West Table Ideas:
Cuban bread
Fiji Island Water
Shell dishes
Crushed shells from Michaels
Jimmy Buffet music
Beachy cocktail napkins
Mile Marker 0 sign
Key West Motto is "Come As You Are"
Don't we all look like we are in the tropics?  We felt it was still too chilly to wear tank tops and flip flops.
 You may have seen "THE TRAVELING TOTE" logo on my side bar.
We are a group of five that are fond of the MacKenzie-Childs tote bags. Throughout the year, we will each write a connected post about the places our tote bags have taken us. They might include business trips, shopping adventures, weeklong vacations or simply every day escapades! 

 My bag, Miss Aurora, begged to go to Key West in her dreams. She enjoyed it so much, that she had another dream about Key West

The bags were named by their owners :-)
My bag is named Miss Aurora and my non-blogging friend Colleen  has Miss Mackenzie Joy 
We have Linda and Miss Rosie @  More Fun Less Laundry
Patti and Miss Kenzie @  Pandoras Box
Sarah and Miss CC @  Hyacinths for the Soul

Miss MacKenzie Joy made her debut on 2/28/15 to celebrate birthdays with a group of friends at Zeina's. 
I don't leave the house without a tote bag. Just call me the BAG LADY. During the week, I have been known to use my bag like a brief case.

Do you have a favorite tote bag? You should see how large my purse is. I put everything but the kitchen sink in it. Always good to be prepared ;-) 
Thanks for stopping by! I will be joining Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday and Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Happy March and Garden Vegetable Quinoa Chili

According to our local meteorologist, we officially survived the coldest month on record since 1857. The official average temperature for February 2015 was 7.2 degrees, crushing the old record of 9.2 degrees set back in 1857.  Not only was it the coldest winter ever on record, February 2015 came in at the third snowiest winters with 40.4" of snowfall. The ski resorts are very happy.
I welcome March with open arms.

We have been trying to eat healthy {and stay warm}. I've been using Bob's Red Mill products forever, especially the dried garbanzo beans (chick peas).
We make hummus twice a month using the recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, and we love it on these Greek salad sandwiches. I soak the garbanzo beans before going to bed, and make the hummus in the food processor in the morning. Easy peasy.

When I was asked if I would like to review Bob's Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook I immediately said yes since my good friend Donna has celiac disease. 

I've been cooking gluten free for our dinner parties with Donna for over eight years, and am always interested in trying new gluten-free recipes.

The recipe I chose from the cookbook included quinoa which I use on a regular basis. It is classified a super-food by nutritionists and a “super-crop” by the United Nations. The National Academy of Sciences calls quinoa “one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom.”

{This recipe will be on our menu on a regular basis. It was that good.}

Garden Vegetable Quinoa Chili, page 129
Courtesy of Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook by Camilla V Saulsbury, 2015 © Reprinted with publisher permission.
Makes 8 servings

112 tbsp vegetable oil                 
2        zucchini, diced                   
1        red bell pepper, chopped        
1        green bell pepper, chopped       
112 cups chopped onions               
4        cloves garlic, minced            
3 tbsp   chili powder                  
112 tbsp ground cumin                  
1 tsp    hot pepper sauce              
2        cans (each 14 to 19 oz)
         red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1        can (14 to 19 oz) black 
         beans, drained and rinsed
1        can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes 
1        can (14 to 15 oz)
         tomato sauce
112 cups hot cooked quinoa
         Fine sea salt and freshly ground
         black pepper
Suggested Accompaniments
         Plain Greek yogurt
         Lime wedges
         Fresh cilantro leaves
         Chopped green onions
         Chopped radishes

1.   In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, red pepper, green pepper and onions; cook, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and hot pepper sauce; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
2.   In a small bowl, coarsely mash half of the red beans with a fork. Stir mashed beans, whole red beans, black beans, tomatoes and tomato sauce into the pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Stir in quinoa. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with any of the suggested accompaniments, as desired.

If using the larger 19-oz cans of beans, you may want to add up to 12 cup water to thin the chili.

Storage Tip
Store the cooled chili (without any accompaniments) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave using the Defrost function. Warm chili in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

Now it's time to choose a menu for our Key West Party.  Thank you for stopping by! I am joining Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.