Friday Dance Party – Being Set “Free” With Graffiti6

It’s time for another edition of Friday Dance Party here on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

I’ve been set free several times this week.  I just haven’t been in the groove much at all this week.  It all started when I realized that last weekend was Labor Day weekend.  For some reason, I thought it was this coming weekend.  How do I totally miss a holiday weekend?  When someone at work mentioned the long weekend ahead, I thought they were joking.  Then I began to think about what I would have felt like if I had come into the office on the actual Labor Day Monday and no one would have been there.  That would have really set me free.

At the beginning of this week, it hit me that Summer was drawing to a close.  Another feeling of being set free.  Where did Summer go?  It seems like a couple of weeks ago that I went home for a visit over Memorial Day.  Like a few days ago that we left to spend the Fourth of July in Las Vegas.  Are you telling me that it is time to officially not wear white, harvest the remainder of the vegetables from the garden, winterize the swimming pool in the backyard and, the worst part, begin to locate all of the winter snow shovels so I can put them inside the garage in anticipation of our first snow storm.  Am I really beginning to think about snow?

I also thought this week was close week.  Close week is the time every 28 days that my company closes their books and sees how much money they made or didn’t make.  When my company exceeds their profit forecast, it is chalked up to excellent execution.  When they don’t make their profit forecast, it’s the accountants fault.  Those damn accountants…they must have made ANOTHER mistake.  Needless to say, close week is fairly stressful and I got all crazed and fired up for it a week too early.  Close week is next week.  Wasting all this energy on something that didn’t happen really set me free.

And now this weekend I’m being set free on the Jersey Shore.  We’re off to Asbury Park…home of Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.  Actually, I’d be just as happy to get a glimpse of Snooki or The Situation.  I would set my family and friends free as they watch me take off my shirt, do a little dancing with some fist pumps and then leave with my new friends (drunk, of course) and go do some GTL.  I can only hope!

So with a week’s worth of being set free, it’s time to give thanks for making it through.  We did it again!  So let’s dance this week and be set “Free” from Graffiti6, a London-formed duo that began in 2009.  Let’s give thanks for all that we have and all that we’ve done to close out another week.  By chance, if you see me on the MTV channel with my Jersey Shore friends, let me tell you in advance that I am so sorry for setting you free.  I know the feeling!

We’re Cooking Again – An Old Time Recipe From My Grandma

We’ve had a bumper crop of green beans here on Glen Road and I have been thinking about a green bean soup recipe that my Grandma used to make from as far back as I can remember.  The problem was that I didn’t have the recipe and I would never be able to make the soup from memory.  So I had my mom and aunt confer and get back to me on how to make this old-time soup just like my Grandma used to make it.  There are a number of foods that I remember from when I was young and this soup was one of them.  I know to many that the idea of a green bean soup will not sound too appetizing.  However, when you add thinly sliced onions, cubed potatoes and a garlic-laced roux, you end up with a slightly thick green bean stew with lots of flavor.  My recipe is for a double batch.  Some to eat now and some to freeze for later this Fall when soups just seem to taste better.  So if you have a late season green bean harvest and don’t know what to do with them, why not give my Grandma’s green bean soup a try.  It starts with some fresh green beans:

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 cups of fresh green beans (cleaned and snapped into 1″ pieces)
  • 4 to 5 large potatoes (cleaned, peeled and cut into cubes.  I used Yukon Gold potatoes.)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (thinly sliced.  A mandolin works perfect.  We are onion lovers so feel free to use less onion if you wish.)
  • 6 tablespoons of flour
  • 6 tablespoons of melted butter (let the butter cool slightly before using)
  • 6 to 7 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and fresh pepper to taste

Directions:

Place green beans, potatoes and onion into a stock pot and cover with water.  Add enough water to cover all the vegetables.  Place on medium heat and boil until the vegetables are tender.

While the vegetables are boiling, start to make the roux.  Just the word “roux” makes most people think of some fancy cooking routine that takes a lot of time and patience.  Don’t let the word fool you.  A roux is nothing but a cooked mixture of flour and a cooking fat, like butter or vegetable oil, that is used to thicken sauces, soups and gravies.  A couple of things on the roux for this soup:  first, you want to cook the roux until it turns a deep golden brown.  Second, keep the garlic in the pan until it starts to brown and then remove it.  If you leave the garlic in too long and it burns, it will ruin the flavor of your roux.  Last, mix the flour and cooled, melted butter in the pan until well combined and then add the whole garlic cloves before turning the stove heat on.  Here are a few pictures showing how the roux will progress.

The beginning–the flour and cooled, melted butter combined and then the garlic cloves added before turning up the heat:

The middle–the roux is now more sauce-like and lightly simmering:

The end–when the roux is a deep golden brown, take it off the heat and let it cool a bit before you add it to the vegetable mixture.  Note that the garlic cloves are gone.  Again, make sure to remove them when they begin to brown.  If they burn, your roux will not be good and you will need to start over.

Once your vegetables are tender, add the roux into the vegetable pot and stir the roux until it combines with the water.  Once combined, add plenty of salt and pepper.  Taste buds vary, so add until you are satisfied.  I tend to add more, versus less, salt and pepper.  For me, it’s around 1 tablespoon of salt and about three teaspoons of pepper.  Remove the pot from the heat and let the soup sit for a few hours.  This is one of those dishes that is better the longer you wait to eat it.  Letting the soup sit for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator allows the flavors to combine.  When ready to eat, place the pot back on the burner and simmer until hot.  Ensure that the salt and pepper levels are adequate.  Serve it any way you like.  In our house, we eat just the soup with some fresh bread or rolls.  Any way you serve it, this hot and hearty soup is one that pleases.  At least it has in my family for almost a century.  Enjoy!!

Friday Dance Party – Where Have You Been?

It’s time for another edition of Friday Dance Party here on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

If my calculations are correct, I am just finishing up my eighth Summer here on Glen Road.  It’s crazy how time flies!  Over the course of all these years, I’ve done and seen so many things on our property.  I’ve worked to landscape our huge yard (both in the front and in the back), built several raised beds to grow vegetables in, planted fruit trees and, as you well know, I’ve witnessed a lot of wildlife that either lives or visits our property.  Some of these critter interactions are bad ones (woodchuck, I’m talking about you!), but the majority of them are really quite pleasant.  The one that is absolutely my favorite is to watch and listen to all the different birds that fly through on a daily basis.  I’ve seen cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, goldfinches and lots of other unique varieties.  Some that I can’t even name.  I think I’ve seen most of what Connecticut has to offer in the bird arena…..except one and it is my favorite.  The bird that never seems to visit my yard is the smallest of them all and that is a hummingbird.  I was never sure why I had never seen one.  In fact, there were many times I would discuss this with my Dad (another bird lover).  He didn’t know why either.  He said I had sufficient red flowers everywhere, lots of Spring/Summer/Fall bloomers, enough forest for them to nest in and I even had a hummingbird feeder.  It was a true mystery.

Well, I’m happy to tell all of you that on Sunday of last week, I was taking a little break from an intense day of gardening.  It was what I call a quiet moment.  One where you sit down (or sometimes lay down) right where you are gardening and you just lay still and listen to Nature.  You listen to the wind, you watch the birds, you listen to the birds singing.  Basically, you just sit there and appreciate life.  Meditation for gardeners.  As I laid there last Sunday, something wonderful happened.  I saw two hummingbirds fly to a butterfly bush and begin to feed off the blooms.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  So small and so quick.  They eventually made a couple of sounds to each other and then sat on a low-hanging branch at the beginning of the woods.  As they flew away, I slowly picked myself up off the ground and started to walk back to the house.  On my way, I ran into another hummingbird enjoying my zinnia patch.  This might sound weird to many of you, but my eyes filled with tears at the sight of this third bird.  Yes, I had finally seen some beautiful hummingbirds in my garden, but more than that, I am sure I was witnessing some divine intervention or, better said, what I believe to be some Dad intervention all the way from Heaven.

So this week’s song is dedicated to the three hummingbirds that finally visited.  It’s Rihanna’s big Summer hit “Where Have You Been”.  It’s another week down and, for most of us, a three-day weekend.  Happy Labor Day!  Turn the speakers up and celebrate life and say goodbye to Summer.  Hasn’t it gone by so quickly?  Dance to celebrate that we’ve made it through another week and, better yet, another season.  As well, know that I’ll be out in my yard this weekend asking those three hummingbirds…..”Where Have You Been?”  Do you think they’ll answer?