Sunday, January 13, 2019

Biscuit Fail


I like to post recipes and pictures of things that I cook that turn out great, just to let people know that I do more than technology and gardening. And some people want my recipes so posting them here makes it easy to share them. Well, I have a huge recipe failure to share this time, because fair is fair. 

I bought a magazine that was only about cast iron cooking,  because I have a couple of my grandfather's cast iron pans and I love using them everyday. But I wanted to try something really traditional and make biscuits and gravy. Sausage gravy is something I can make on my own and this magazine had an easy enough recipe to make southern buttermilk biscuits in a cast iron pan. Sweet! But I eat gluten free, so I decided to make it with Bobs Red Mill gluten free flour.
Let's get started with all the ingredients accumulated and out on the counter. 

I had to buy buttermilk to make this which is unusual and actually hard to find these days, and following the instructions I put the dry ingredients in 1 bowl, and the wet ingredients in another. Bringing them together with a fork to make a dough in the large bowl.

This is when I started to question my decision to use the gluten free flour. The dough seemed to deflate.. it became as light as air. I keep going and pat out the dough to cut it into biscuits.
You don't use a rolling pin with this kind of dough, you use your fingers and pat it out to the right depth. I am starting to panic because this is so delicate. Using a biscuit cutter, I cut out the biscuits and try to put them in the pan. These just fall apart! It is like trying to move water on the spatula. I get them in the pan... 
And they are ugly! I am starting to panic but I am committed to finishing. In the oven they go, maybe they will rise up in the oven?

After baking they exit the oven a bit bigger but not much more than when they started. Here is the finished product next to the picture from the magazine. They are so flat! The "crumb" is something like a cake, not a biscuit. 


I did eat a few of them and they tasted okay, but the majority ended up as bird food. I will try this again but not with gluten free flour. Biscuits need gluten... 


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Thanksgiving Nov 22nd, 2018


I hosted Thanksgiving this year at my house and invited all of my family and any friends that didn't have a place to go. I love Thanksgiving! It is my favorite holiday because it is about food, family, friends and fun. No pressure like finding the perfect gift for that teenage nephew of yours :) (Hint, they only want money!)
I am thankful for having a family that while small in number, is large in personality and enjoys being together. I am extremely thankful that is has finally started raining, and raining hard! I do need to go up on my roof and clean out a gutter unfortunately, but I will wait until it dries out.

For Thanksgiving, I bought the largest turkey they had in the store because I wanted to make sure we had leftovers. At 26 pounds (about 12 kg) it was the largest turkey that I had ever cooked and I was worried about it getting done enough but not dried out. I usually do a wet brine, but this monster was too big for that. (See picture) So I used a dry brine based on an Ina Garten recipe. It worked out well and along with my convection oven and dry rub from a small spice shop in Murphys, it was one of the best tasting turkeys I have made. 

Dry Brine and Gravy Recipe
Here are more pictures from Thanksgiving!
Beautiful Fall Colors from my window

Food Table - And drink table

One view of the table 
Other direction

Some people stayed around and talked until about 10 p.m., when I got up and went to bed. I had been woken up around 3:30 a.m. that morning by lightning and thunder. It went on for about 45 minutes but then I couldn't get to sleep again. I am NOT complaining! We are so desperate for rain that I will take all of that for a good downpour. After the first good rain - the moss and algae that was dormant on the trees will suddenly "wake up" and turn the most amazing shades of green. It is really beautiful!


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Genealogy Trip To Alabama and New Orleans - Nov 2018


This year (2018), I have taken 2 trips related to genealogy and 1 added weekend to a business trip as well. This latest trip was with my mom and dad, and piggy-backed on a conference they were attending in Naples, Florida.  The ultimate goal was to go to Dauphin Island, Alabama, where my french Guillory relatives landed when they left Canada. We found a map that showed Isla de Guillory on land there and decided to go see the island. The itinerary would look like this - I flew into Tampa on monday night, we all drive to Tallahassee on Tues, on to Dauphin Island on Weds, and then finally to New Orleans on Thursday, fly home on Friday. 
Map of our Trip

Day 1 - Tampa - to- Tallahassee

We spent Monday night at my parents friends house in Tampa, which sat on a lake there.. beautiful place with a pool and alligators in the lake. But hey, it added character!

My dad and his friend

We took off driving to Tallahassee and ate lunch along the way in a tiny little town named Chiefland, Florida. There was a BBQ restaurant there named BBQ Bill's so we stopped to eat there. It was everything you would expect from a florida panhandle BBQ restaurant... very homey feel and everyone was polite. (So many ma'ams on this trip, it started to cause me to say it!) I basically ordered a large slab of meat.. 
Weather was rainy every day!

Dad with his rib order

My meat only order... was really good just a lot of meat
The weather was rainy every day... every single day was warm, humid and raining! We made it Tallahassee and had dinner there at another local place that just opened, Bumpa's Local 349, and it was fantastic! Great assortment of local beer which is always a plus for me! 

Day 2 - Tallahassee to Dauphin Island
On the road again!
My dad putting gas in the Lincoln he rented.. mom is in the back seat.
Before we made it to Dauphin Island, we stopped in to see another of my dad's friends in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. This area of the gulf coast got hit by Hurricane Michael and we saw the downed and snapped trees for miles and then it suddenly stopped. The path of devastation was so distinct that you can see where the line was... and once again.. the rain and rain and rain!

Mom and Dad and Friends at lunch
Then on to the island! It took about 5 hours to make this drive all together and we made it to our motel just about sunset.  It is the only motel on the island, everything else is home or condo rentals. The same family has owned it for 30 years and, well, it shows the age.. It is something that you would see in a movie where the place hasn't been touched since the 80's or 90's. But it was clean and cheap and the views are spectacular.

Gulf Breeze Motel

Day 3 - On the island and then on to New Orleans
We spent Thursday exploring the island, and visiting the local history center. What a fantastic place! Why didn't anyone tell me there were places like this with these beautiful beaches that were closer than Hawaii? And way cheaper.... We had dinner on Weds night and they were selling beer for $2 and wine for $4. The whole dinner for us was about $50 which is what I can expect to spend on dinner for myself here in San Francisco.  Here are some pictures from the island.

Beaches were white, soft sand with warm water and as you can see it was a slow time of the year.

My family settled here in the early 1700's, thinking they could grow vegetables and make a living. The island though, is mainly sand and with every storm it moves around. They didn't stay too long, but long enough for my 6th great- grandfather, Joseph Gregoire Guillory to be born on the island in 1716. There are a couple of people buried there, including Joseph's first wife, Marie-Jean Lacase and his young daughter Marie-Louise Guillory. We went to the oldest catholic cemetery on the island to see if we could find their graves, but we couldn't. If you think about the conditions there, with the heat, humidity and rain, a wooden grave marker would be gone by now almost 300 years later. We loved the island and the people there, who were just so nice. 

Old map

Lighthouse Bakery was amazing!
We only spent a day there but saw the whole island, which shows you how small it is!

Although we didn't find anything of genealogical interest there, we did decide that we would like to go back for a vacation. Only downside is that the mosquitoes were huge and for some reason, they loved me! This side of the family left the island and moved to Mobile, Alabama where they had a plantation. Joseph Guillory was not a nice man, and yes, he owned slaves. He actually had four children with one of his slaves named Marguerite. A descendant of hers, filed a court casein Lousiana, because she while she 97% Caucasian in her DNA, she was still being required to identify as African American. NY Times Article  
If you decide to start looking into your family history, be aware that some things you will find are not pleasant. Part of this family moved to New Orleans, and that is where we are going next!

Day 4 - On to New Orleans!
New Orleans is a place that my family has a lot of history with for a brief amount of time. My fifth great-grandfather, also a Joseph, left Mobile and moved to Ville Platt in St. Landry Parish, Lousiana. That is where they joined the local Cajun community there and lived through a lot of stuff... His son my forth great-grandfather, was born in Lousiana in 1781 and married Severine Lemoine. The Lemoine (Le Moyne) name is famous because that is the name of the man who started New Orleans. I am not sure if she is related but will look into that. The other branch of the family that is important here is the Bernadas line, and that is who we visited in the cemetery.  
St. Louis Cemetery #3 Bernadas Crypt

We also did some fun things, like go to Preservation Hall for the Jazz show. We also went to a couple museums and of course, ate a lot. It rained every single day of our trip... 
mom and dad
Day 5 - Last Day in New Orleans
Before we all left we had some time, we went to see St. Joseph's Cathedral, a place that we know our family supported because their name was on the plaque as an original family.
Mom and Dad in front of the cathedral

All of us
It was raining, again on Friday and I had the most time to kill before my flight. So I went to the Aquarium and on a bus tour of the city. New Orleans has so much history and we could spend a week visiting the family sites but we didn't have that much time. It was back to California and the terrible fires burning here, wish we can send some of that rain we dealt with everyday to my home state.
I will leave you with this video from the aquarium of a seahorse eating the little creatures in the water.

Beautiful Butterfly in New Orleans

Sign outside the aquarium, yes it is raining
We had a really good time, and drove about 750 miles, and we are still talking to each other!


Saturday, July 7, 2018

July 4th 2018 - Long Weekend in MokeHill

Happy American Independence Day! 


4th of July this year was smack dab in the middle of the week.. so I decided to come up here on the 3rd and stay for the rest of the week and weekend. I am dog-sitting a friend's dog as well, a female husky named Flower, so it seemed like a better idea to have her here in this big house vs. my small apartment in the city. The weather was really good for the 4th only getting to the mid 80's but it soon got hotter the next couple of days. My garden this year is very small, due to the gophers and everything getting eaten, I decided to not plant a couple of the beds. But, I did finally finish putting mulch down over the whole garden after working on it for 4 years. I also have my neighbors goats here eating the weeds down... so that is always exciting! 
I did the middle section over the memorial day weekend so the goal this weekend was to finish it finally.

 I always lay out weed block fabric and tack it down with landscape staples. Make sure you overlap the edges by about 4 inches or more to help block the weeds from finding a seam to poke up though. One thing i have learned is to use A LOT of mulch.. each of these piles is one 2 cubic foot bag of mulch. I used to put it much thinner but this is the most effective way to keep the weeds out. The reason it has taken so long is that prepping the dirt to get all the weeds and rocks out and somewhat smooth takes a lot of effort. And I wait until Lowes has this mulch on sale...
My "helper" Flower supervising my work

Finished it finally! Now because the other bark has lost the color, I will be putting more bark on those thin spots. But for now, I am done! The goats are here again and here are a couple of pictures.

They love attention!

They also really like dogs... they would follow us on our walk. Flower is not one who likes them however... 
Random garden pictures..
California poppies

Carrots from my yard.. i got a lot of them and this is just a small batch.

This is a carrot that I let go to seed. I want to see if I can actually get seeds this way and plant them.

Must have a frog picture!

This is a picture of one of the tomatoes I started in my greenhouse aquaponics system. I have planted 5 of these tomato plants in the garden and hope they survive. I also have about 6 more in the greenhouse in the grow beds for back up plants. For me, tomatoes don't taste as good grown in the greenhouse, they need the dirt to really get that bright tomato taste. However, starting the plants in the grow beds gives me a really nice transplant to use.

And finally, the quail this year are not as plentiful has they were last year but that is because we didn't get the amount of rain like last winter. But they are still on my property and they tend to hide in the bushes and branches of trees that fall down. This one is the look out for his little group of quail..
Such a pretty bird, and to be honest, they are very tasty too. I can't hunt on my property so they are safe from me, but not the other predators like cats, dogs, foxes, hawks and coyotes. 

Hope everyone had a good holiday!