Shrimp-n- Grits

I seem to have a fixation with food here lately.  But why not?  We must eat every day and food should be tasty.  It not only gives us nourishment, but the sight, smell and taste should appeal to our senses as well.

After achieving a significant milestone in my new job – I worked my first class as an assistant instructor — I wanted to celebrate.  No longer tagging along as a third person, serving as an observer to more experienced instructors. . . I was excited and giddy after I arrived home because it was So Much FUN!!

Celebration for many people means sharing the time with friends or family.  For the serious introvert such as myself, it consisted of: a walk with a friend, a special meal alone and watching an episode of a TV show I enjoy as well as a phone call with a loved one.  It was enough to satisfy the social, physical, and emotional aspects necessary for me to maintain my equilibrium.  Especially after a day spent interacting with students and co-workers, the thought of celebrating in a grander style was simply overwhelming.

As the title of the blog suggests, my special meal (another comfort food) was Shrimp-n-Grits.  The buttery flavor combined with the smoothness of the cheese and the texture of the grits . . . just makes my heart sing!

Cheesy Shrimp-n-Grits

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

8-9 raw jumbo shrimp, peeled

1 slice yellow onion, diced

1 slice red pepper, diced

2-3 medium mushrooms, sliced

1 T. butter

Pepper

Salt

1 t. smoked paprika

1 pkg. instant grits

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Salt and pepper shrimp to taste.  In a non-stick skillet, melt the butter over low heat.  Add the diced peppers and onions as well as the mushroom slices.  Season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika.  Sauté for 3-5 minutes and add shrimp to pan.  Cook for 2-3 min per side or until pink.  While shrimp is cooking, empty instant grits into a bowl.  Add a dash of salt and the water.  Cook for 1 min, 10 sec on high in the microwave.  Stir in shredded cheese and let melt while shrimp and vegetables finish cooking.  When shrimp are pink, add them and the vegetables to the bowl of grits.  Stir thoroughly and enjoy!

Again, if I were a REAL food blogger, I would include a picture of the finished product.  I, however, ate half of it prior to deciding to post the recipe.  Trust me, half eaten shrimp-n-grits is NOT a vision to whet your appetite.

All in all, it was not a bad day.  A sense of accomplishment, a bit of fun, a relaxing 2-mile walk, a beautiful meal, a shot of Jack Ryan and a lovely phone call.  Success!!

Banana Bread

When the mention of a certain food or the aroma of a particular food evokes pleasant memories . . . THAT is a comfort food.  The mere mention or smell brings back reminders of pleasurable times, perhaps a memory with friends or family that are no longer with us.

I have several comfort foods, warm oatmeal being one.  Another that tops the list is fresh, warm, right-out-of-the-oven banana bread.  The girls, having asked me to buy bananas while they were here for the week, then left with four bananas to spare.  And just like that, I was left with the ingredients for making a bit of “deliciousness” as my friend Angela would say.

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Being still in the throes of unpacking, moving and finding items, I have learned to multi-task many of my pans.  My pizza sheet has doubled as a cookie sheet on more than one occasion.  Unsure of where my loaf pans may be hiding at the moment, I substituted a 9×9 pan and the bread turned out quite nicely.

Without further ado . . . . here is my recipe!

Banana Bread

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

4-5 very ripe bananas

1 stick butter, softened

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour *

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray your loaf pan (or in my case the 9×9 pan) with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, peel the bananas.  Using an electric mixer or fork, mash the bananas so they are slightly soupy with some chunks present.  In another bowl, mix the softened butter, eggs, vanilla and brown sugar until smooth.  Stir in the bananas and mix again until smooth.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to combine.  Add into the banana mixture and stir until dry ingredients are moistened – this will be a thick batter.  Pour into the greased loaf pan (or 9×9 pan) and bake 45 minutes.  Let set for 5-10 minutes before slicing, cutting or attempting to eat.

*while the recipe calls for all-purpose flour, I have been known to use 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 3/4 c. of wheat flour.

Delightful little things

“Greatness is a lot of small things done well.”                                            ~ Ray Lewis

While large jobs that are completed are wonderful . . .img_20190719_18594151258842031.jpgSometimes the small jobs that are many and varied, when combined, contribute to a greater sense of accomplishment than one large job. Take, for instance, that glass pendant chain pull pictured to the left. While not a large item per se, when one’s closet lightbulb pull chain snaps and is irreparable, the simple act of replacing it is quite the accomplishment. Not to mention how many wardrobe snafu’s may be avoided when light is available to clearly see the clothing being selected.

 

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Then we have the pictures. There is one in particular that I love and for a few days it has leaned against the bedroom wall and now . . . now, it is gracing the wall directly across from my bed where I can see it when I wake.

 

 

The dining room table has arrived and is in place with the leaves — without them it looked like doll furniture compared to the scale of the room. Now to find a tablecloth for it that fits the timeframe of the house. But in the meantime, my sewing machine is set up and ready to rumble.

MelBeth sent me a lovely bracelet that is an essential oil diffuser for my birthday. Since img_20190720_1234156-1996270446.jpgthis was a lazy no-plans weekend day, I wore it rather than my watch. It was wonderful to catch a subtle whiff of my selected oils: lavender, lemon, bergamot and cedarwood.  I’m sure this will be a favorite piece that I wear often.  I have seen them and wanted to have one, but never broke down and purchased it.

 

All of these are small things, but I delight in them. They make me happy and bring me joy when I see them.

 

And for the grand finale of the day. . .

Fresh homemade banana bread!

Bits and Pieces

“God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.” ~ Anonymous

I’m not so sure about that as it seems as though every time it rains or there is a bit of wind, another section of my privacy fence falls over. I finally purchased the hex nut bit I needed for my impact driver to remove the screws holding the boards together. This week I managed to tear one 8-ft section apart and set it out for the trash. The section that had blown into the neighbors yard was pushed over into mine which I appreciated since it was too heavy for me to lift and move. Tonight, I noted a third section had fallen, but I was too tired to walk out in the yard to see which way it landed. I’ll find out tomorrow.

Below is a photo of a privacy fence idea that I found on Pinterest and saved. I like this but to add a bit of eccentricity to it, the wood panels would be 4-feet as well as each corrugated metal panel. Those would be joined together to form an 8-foot section. I’m pondering using old hinges to join the sections together with a piece of rebar running through the hinges, and then a 4″ post between each 8-foot section. I don’t know. I’m still playing with the idea.

fence

Between training, the heat and humidity and doing things like tearing the fence apart, I am beat most evenings when I fall into bed. Some days the rain helps keep me inside to do the things, but then there are days when I feel like taking a few hours to catch up on my reading. I just have to remind myself that I work hard and it’s okay to relax for an hour or two doing something just for fun.

Earlier, as I was doing laundry, I was thinking of some of the books I’ve read that have largely influenced my life. The first book that came to mind (besides my Bible) is Joshua by Joseph Girzone. Based on the life of Jesus, this is a story set in modern times. This led me to consider a conversation I had the other night. The other party had concerns – quite valid concerns – about spending time together as friends and the ideas that others might have based on their likely erroneous perceptions.

Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where people no longer choose to see the good in just about anything and everything. Even the most innocent friendships are judged to be inappropriate or scandalous or worse. Which reminded me of the story line in Joshua. A single man, who lived simply and only did good for others was found by members of the community to be suspicious because he had no ulterior motives. Why does society have such difficulty accepting things at face value? Is it a testament to our decline as a civilization that truth is no longer spoken?

Much like my fence has deteriorated and decayed over the past 10 years the house was vacant (and probably a bit before then even), the world is not what it was 10 years ago and that makes my heart hurt.

My how time has flown

humor-roller-coaster

It seems like I was just headed to Missouri to get my kids for a summer visit after four long months without them (not counting the 4-5 hours I got to spend with them every third weekend).  This past weekend, I took Savannah and her friend home.  Sam had gone home the previous week to attend camp.  At this point in time, I have absolutely nothing in writing that gives me a clue as to when or how often I will see my children.  Am I worried about it? Actually, no.  I am frustrated but not worried.

As I’ve said many times, “God did not bring me to Alabama to my dream job to just abandon me.”

I recalled the other day a memory.  It was as sharp and clear as if it had been happening right then.  My daughter and I were sitting in the back section of the Baptist church we attended.  The minister was preaching on the subject of God’s call on your life.  He mentioned that as parents, we fear for our children’s safety.  We want the best for them.  Sometimes, God’s call and our ideas for safety do not align.  He used the example of “if God calls your child to serve as a missionary in Papua, New Guinea.”  I clearly recall turning to my daughter and saying, “If God calls you to Papua, New Guinea to serve as a missionary (or anywhere for that matter), I will help you pack!  I learned long ago not to interfere in God’s plans.”

It is rather disheartening then, when I feel called by God to go and do something that is my passion after years of studying and waiting and praying and crying and waiting and wondering . . . when my family balks and whines and complains.  I’ve always tried to be supportive of my kids in their choices whether it was school, relationships, vehicles, pregnancies, jobs or anything else. Now it’s my turn to go where I feel I’m being led . . and I get pushback? Seriously?

My faith is one of the biggest components of my life.  Without it I would have given up hope many times over and over many years.  All I knew was that God had given me this passion for emergency services and emergency preparedness:

  • He provided opportunities for me to use my healthcare background in joining my community’s small volunteer fire department,
  •  A paramedic I mentored at the hospital where I worked told me about a 2-week fire academy I was able to attend and receive my initial HazMat certifications,
  •  An ER patient informed me of a part-time firefighter position which had opened up at the fire department where he was a board member,
  • A very intuitive emergency department manager sent me to Anniston, AL for emergency management training,
  •  That initial training plus my job as a part-time firefighter/medic led me to pursue a degree in Fire Science followed by a degree in Emergency Services Management
  •  Those degrees led me to pursue additional training at both Anniston and New Mexico facilities.
  •  It was while I was attending training at Anniston that I was offered an opportunity to join the team as an instructor/trainer which leads me to where I am today.

Is this where I envisioned myself back in 1992 when I thought I was going to have to quit nursing school to muddle through a divorce following the loss of a child? Not in a million years!!!  BUT . . .

At that point in my life, I promised God that if HE could find a way to help me finish school, I would serve Him wherever and in whatever capacity He led me.  God did his part, now I will spend the rest of my life doing my part in that promise.

1992 to 2019 – 27 years.  My how the time has flown and with it the adventures, the heartaches, the laughter, the tears and always a sense of amazement on my part to see how God’s plan unfolds.

I’m just gonna keep holding on and enjoying the ride!!