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Friday, June 3, 2022

Aldi Meal on Blackstone Griddle and Two Grads

I'm usually not one for doing recipe type blogs and I really don't even like reading recipe type blogs. But this is more about using a new cooking tool for taking camping or around the house.

In my last blog, I mentioned about picking up a new propane Blackstone Griddle. We bought the 17 inch size because we want it small enough to take camping. It's good enough for the two of us to create a meal or we could sneak on enough for four people or more if we needed to.

We decided after just frying up a couple burgers, now to try to make one of our absolutely favorite meals. This meal is made completely with items that are purchased at Aldi. We love that store!

We gathered up:

  • can of Aldi's sliced potatoes, 
  • half of an Aldi's Parkview kielbasa sausage, sliced on an angle, 
  • half a bag of Prince Edward Medley frozen veggies which are comprised of carrots, green beans and yellow beans 
  • a clump of fresh asparagus 
  • a valdelia onion 
  • and some chopped garlic for flavor 
We also use Aldi's extra virgin olive oil and a variety of spices in this recipe.

I grabbed a couple pats of butter that are on the tray in the pic below,  but I decided to not use them. We really didn't need a lot of oil to cook on the griddle and the butter wasn't necessary at all.

I gathered everything up on the tray skillfully made by our dear friends Rodger and Lila Thode of Washington.  It's such a nice big sturdy tray and can carry everything from the kitchen out to the back patio where Steve set up the griddle. 



Blackstone Griddles are available for under $100 at Walmart and many other places too. Our friends Bill and Janet Edwards had one when we went camping a couple weeks ago, and we just had to get one for ourselves. It runs on propane and can be used either with the little propane disposable cylinders or with an adapter hose from a larger LP tank.



We had watched a few YouTube on different techniques and recipes. One of the things that was sold separately was called a steaming dome. You can set vegetables on the grill, give it a squirt of water, and set this dome over the top so they can steam inside. You can also use it to bake items inside like biscuits. We weren't about to shell out an additional thirty or forty dollars for the fancy domes from Blackstone website, instead I came up with this idea of sacrificing this blue enamel bowl. Steve then riveted on a nice little screen door handle and we have a perfect steaming dome!



Steve started out with the griddle on high to get it evenly heated up. He spread on some extra virgin olive oil. We might have started with a little too much oil, but this is the first few times using it... so the oil can help season the cast iron of the griddle.



Once things were up to temperature we backed down the heat just a little bit. We piled on a stack of the Prince Edward's Medley frozen vegetables and also some fresh cut up asparagus to start out on the grill. We figured those take longer to cook than the sausage or potatoes.



After he tossed the vegetables around a couple times, he gave them a dollop of water to create steam and put the lid over the top of the frozen vegetables. The asparagus he was going to keep rolling around on the grill to fry at a bit.

Then he put the sliced onions and bits of minced garlic in the other corner of the grill to get that started. The can of sliced potatoes is drained of water before they are dumped onto the griddle. Now the heat is backed off down to about mid to low range. We weren't sure how fast it was going to cook?



We let things go for a while and flipped the vegetables around a couple times. Then we realized we could kick the heat back up to about mid-range to finish things up. The more we use it, the more we will get comfortable with what levels to set it on while we are cooking different items. 

The final item was the fully cooked kielbasa sausage. We sliced it thin and laid it on the griddle to kind of brown it up and warm it through. We didn't want to fry it too long because then it would lose its flavor and become tough in texture.



We carefully watched and flipped each item around until we were sure everything was done. By timing the order in which we put things on the grill, everything got done at exactly the same time! 

And here are the results!



This is one of our favorite meals, but we usually make it in the oven, baked in a casserole dish under a tinfoil layer. Now we know we can do it out on The Blackstone Griddle and it comes out even more flavorful and tasty. Doesn't everything taste better when you cook it outside?

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Yesterday we had TWO graduations to attend! 


The first one was for our grandson Clayton. He was graduating from the Elementary School 4th grade and will be moving on up to the Middle School next year. They had been given a tour of the middle school so they would know where they are going next year and ease a little of the apprehension that comes with starting something different. They will be changing classes instead of being in one set classroom like when they were in the elementary school. So it's a time of change for him. 

They had a special celebration for the 4th graders held out at a beautiful little city park just south of town. All of the students were given a special surprise of a t-shirt from the school and they were all given permanent markers to sign each other's shirts. Can you imagine this many 4th graders running around with permanent markers? ACK!



Then the parents were asked to come attend, as well as Grandparents, for the rest of the event. Clayton was very happy that he collected 30 signatures from friends on the back of his shirt. Of course, Grandma and Grandpa got to sign it too! 

During the awards ceremony, Clayton proved that he may be a big boy going on to 5th grade, but he's still small enough to sit on his mom's lap. AWWWWW



Each child received a diploma sending them on their way to Middle School.


Proud of you, CLAYTON!



When the event was over, his mom had to go back to work. The children were allowed to leave with their parents or else they had to return back to school with the teachers. Instead, we went for the third option, we stole the kid and took him with us. We had a couple errands to run and he was very happy to go for a ride in the Mustang convertible! Cool dude.




Every kid loves to ride in the back seat and raise their arms to feel the wind. Just like a roller coaster ride!



When we got back to our house, one of the first things that little guy noticed was that our backyard had very very tall patches of grass. It had been "No Mow May" and we left the grass growing with little violets and dandelions. This is to help the bumblebees get their early nutrients before there were enough other flowering blossoms out to gather nectar. 

We know just why Clayton noticed, because he was antsy to hop on the zero-turn rider and get to do the lawn.



He did a great job, always under our supervision, and when he was done he even helped to clean off the mower before it was safely stowed away in the garage. A little bit of green folding money went in his pocket for a job well done. Thank you Clayton! 

Now we had to drop him off at his house when his parents got home, and head on over to a dinner out with our oldest grandson for his eighth-grade graduation! 

Our daughter Heather and son-in-law Jesse invited us out to River City Steakhouse for a nice dinner. That was so sweet of them. 

Then from there we went over to the middle school to see our oldest grandson graduate from eighth grade. He will be moving on to the high school next year. Oh my, where has this time gone? This young man is now taller than me and he is growing up so fast. Where was that first little grandson baby I held in my arms 13 years ago? 

I found his name here on the program, so I guess that means he's really moving on up to high school. He had all A's and one B so he was on the honor roll! We are so proud of him!





The gymnasium at the middle school was packed to the rafters on the backside with everybody attending the special awards night. We got there early, because I was worried we would end up sitting on the other side where you really couldn't see anything because there were so many people attending.


All of the young men and women were trying to be as poised and confident as they could. This was a big change for them now to move on up to Middle School. Many of their opportunities ahead of them include choices of curriculum and even some of their classes in high school can already earn them college credits. 

As I looked at all of their faces, I could see all the different stages of confidence or insecurity, I could see the ones trying to find where they fit in, and ones who were trying to be different. I could see ones who were scared and apprehensive, and other ones who were confident and eager to get this over with. It was very interesting looking at all of their faces. 

Two of the valedictorians from the high school came to talk to them and urge them to make the most of their upcoming four years in high school. 

It was a long program but it was wonderful to see him take this next step in his young life.



Here is our youngest daughter Heather, husband Jesse, little Whitney, and Jameson--- the newest student entering Oconto High School in the fall.


Our butts were sore from all the sitting all day long and it was good to get home and pop into our jammies for the evening. 

Boy oh boy, do we feel old. I thought these grandchildren were still babies?

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Date Night! 



Tonight we had root beer floats in these very same promotional mugs that we saved from our first date, 27 years ago!


Happy First Date Anniversary to us, here is to many many more!



Monday, May 30, 2022

Tick Bite and Blackstone Griddle

Ahhhhh the risks of living in tick infested Wisconsin. Yep, so far this spring, Steve has had three woodticks crawling on him. One of them happened to dig in it's nasty little head take a good bite. He didn't even feel it until later on that evening and pulled it out. He was pretty sure he got the head out, but that nasty little tick left a pretty big hole!!!



Sure enough, by the next evening, it started to swell and he started to get the big red patch around the bite. It was on his upper thigh but was not causing him any discomfort.



By Sunday morning we felt it was definitely infected and he needed to get into the Urgent Care. Look at that big nasty hole when I zoom in close with the camera. LOL (skip this picture if you don't like looking at that kind of stuff)



Off to Urgent Care we went, and he was able to see a doctor within just a few minutes. He is being treated with 10 days of Doxycycline. Topical triple antibiotic cream was applied for the first day. But because the bite has healed over, there's really not much sense in putting any more of that on.



If he experiences any type of fever, chills, or pain he is supposed to contact them back and we will go further from there. As for now, it will be treated just as an infected tick bite. We will test for Lyme's if he experiences any other symptoms

So we will keep an eye on him, but it doesn't bother him in the least.

On our way to pick up his prescription, we stopped to take a look at a Blackstone Propane Griddle. Our friends Janet and Bill Edwards had one when we camped with them last weekend. We had watched a few YouTubes to learn some of the versatility that these griddles can offer when we are camping. Also we can use it to cook outdoors while at home and not heat up the kitchen during the summer. So we looked them over and we turned our backs to walk away. Before you knew it, one jumped right into our shopping cart!



It was a beautiful day for a ride in the convertible, and Steve said there's just no way---- it won't fit in the trunk. We knew when we loaded our groceries in the trunk, it wouldn't fit.

But..... you know what happened next?



That big box with that new griddle hopped right in to the backseat! I guess it was going home with us???



Since the box hitchhiked a ride home, Steve figured we might as well open it up and take it out and check it out. He had assembled in no time flat.

We seasoned the cast iron portion with oil, this is an important first step. If anyone has ever used cast iron, you know that's important to take care of the griddle surface by seasoning, plus it also prevents rust. 

We seasoned the inside cooking surface and also around all of the sides and back and bottom as well. We might give it a second seasoning by putting it in the oven and baking it for a while. We saw a YouTube on how to do that method. Today is too hot and humid to attempt that. 



In the meantime, we decided to just griddle fry up a couple burgers. It sure was a nice little unit to set out on the picnic table. Then it can also be easily stowed away in the lower compartment of our motorhome when we take it camping. We only bought the 17-inch one burner unit. There's also a two burner and three burner version available as well.



It can run off the little one pound propane cylinders, or with an adapter hose off a larger 20 lb barbecue tank. Also on many RVs and motorhomes there's an external propane outlet to hook up extra propane devices such as this griddle too.

This kind of looks like a
 happy griddling man.



Takes his mind off his tick bite!

Oh yes, did I happen to mention that a few accessories also jumped right into the shopping cart, along with the griddle? Now we have some new toys to use as we explore new recipes for the Blackstone griddle.



The temperature control is really nice and the surface heats up pretty evenly. Our burgers were delicious and tasty and done to perfection.


Yum!!!



I want to try some of the stir fry recipes, and Steve wants to do multi part breakfasts,  and skillfully make all of the items finish at the same time.  

If anyone has any favorite griddle recipes to share, please put them in the comments below. We have been watching a bunch of YouTube's with some creative ideas that we are going to try as well.

Remember on yesterday's blog post about draining our excess rain water from our backyard low spots? Well, Mister Steveio (who is always watching the Facebook Marketplace ads very closely) found some materials to help him in his upcoming project. We are on our way to get some used PVC irrigation piping that is worth about $700 if it were new. We are picking it up for 50 bucks and it will be a great help once he starts trenching out some of the low-lying areas. So that is what we are up to this morning.


I will finish this blog up with a heartfelt thank you on Memorial Day to all of our veterans who gave their lives for us.

 

It is a sad day, but also a day of honor to remember them for giving their greatest sacrifice.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Stay-At-Home Memorial Weekend

Since we went camping last weekend, we decided to have a Stay-At-Home Memorial weekend. We usually do not care for camping with the crowds or the busy Holiday Weekend Warriors. We prefer peaceful quiet rustic serene camping. We decided it's better to leave the rig parked and stay home. That's okay, because we had a couple things to take care of.

We have gotten over 2 inches of rain in one huge deluge. This of course flooded up the center of our backyard all of the way to the back of our two and a half acre property! Generally, it just sinks into the ground and dissipates... but there is more rain in the forecast. It also runs to the north, all along our fence line too. 



I can tell you this, the standing water bothers Steve (quite a lot!). So much so, that he has a collection of big roll up flat hoses and a couple of pumps. After a big rain, he sets them out the to pump it all down into the existing drain tile. We have some underground piping in one portion of the yard and from there it goes out to the curb and down the street. But he has to get it OVER to the portion that is already there. 

The water doesn't come up near the house during this time of year. But it still fills in that middle section of the yard and can kill off the grass if it doesn't dissipate soon enough.

View from our bedroom:



So here is Steve with one of his gas-powered pumps set in the red Radio Flyer wagon. With his series of hoses, he moves the water from one section to another in the backyard until it is routed completely over and down through the drain tile and then out to the curb. From there it glides down the street to the nearest storm sewer.


We have decided to get more drainage pipe and rent a trencher and get more laid underground than what we have now.  He has to wait for the ground to dry up a bit before doing any trenching work and laying pipe.  I don't know what he will do once the water problem is solved, it's been kind of a "hobby" for him to go play in the puddles? 

~~~~~~~

We also had another reason for staying home. We had a couple of commitments with the grandchildren.

This smallest grandchild just happened to be graduating! Can you believe it? Actually graduating! From her 4K Kindergarten preschool class---



Here she is in the little white and blue dress sitting with her little friends at the daycare. They had a cute little program for each child and the families. As grandparents, we were included in the event. 



She received her preschool diploma!


All of the different daycare workers wrote in indelible marker on the back of a Frisbee for each child. What a wonderful momento of their time at preschool.  Awwwwwww



Here she is with Miss Abby. She is really going to miss her and said that even though she only lives a couple blocks away, she will look for her whenever Miss Abby walks her dogs.



We took the little graduate back to our house for a special overnight sleepover at our house to celebrate.

She was helping me in the She Shed with finishing up this long runner rug. It's 84 inches long. She helped me unroll it and cut it free from the loom.  



She is quite the helper in my she shed Loom room. Here she is rolling it up so we can carry it upstairs and take care of hemming the ends before listing in my Etsy store.



I love the colors in this rug. It reminds me of the Wisconsin Countryside. So that's the name that I gave it! This is from my listing on the Etsy site:

Imagine driving through the Wisconsin Countryside on a beautiful summer day. 
Red barns dotting the green landscape. 
Blue sky with white puffy clouds. 
Bright yellow bits of sunflowers.
Multicolored window boxes and flower beds in bloom. 
This rug has every color I can think of as we drive through the Wisconsin Countryside.


Here is a link to the rug 
and other items that I also have available 
in my Etsy store


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After helping me with my rug, we had just enough time to pick out some fabric and sew a little sun dress and matching blankie for her dolly. She helped with all of the pins, and measuring the elastic. She learned how to draw the end of the elastic through the casing with a big safety pin.  These skills I show the grandkids, I hope will last them a lifetime. 



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Then the youngest grandson also had an event at the elementary school that we needed to attend. They called it their Historic Wax Museum! All of the parents and grandparents and special guests were invited.  

The fourth graders had chosen a historic figure, they did research and gathered information and facts. They created a display board of their particular figure that they had chosen. Then they dressed up in character and became wax figurines. They prepared for this for weeks in advance. In front of them on the floor they had a button. You had to tap the button with your foot and the wax figurine would come to life and recite their information --- from memory! Over and over again as someone selects their button to push. Boy oh boy, that sure takes a lot of courage when you are only 10 years old.

MEET WILLIAM CLARK
of the famous LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION! 

The parents and grandparents and visitors went from site to site, gaining information on all of these historical figures. Here is Clayton's presentation that I downloaded to a YouTube link:



The crowds of people went from display to display throughout the entire cafeteria for all of these brave young fourth graders were willing to recite about their historical figure, at a moment's notice, with grace, talent and flair. We walked around visiting quite a few of the characters, and asking questions and thanking them for their information. We met people such as Abe Lincoln, Ann Frank, Michael Jackson, Helen Keller, and Martin Luther King, to name a few.



Then the school allowed the other grades to come in and take part in the event. Imagine our surprise when we ran into our next youngest granddaughter, first grader Whitney! We had big hugs all around, and it was so nice to have such an educational event for all of the school children to take part in.


~~~~~~~~

Spring has finally arrived at our home in northern Wisconsin. The lilacs are out in full bloom, and the smell is just heavenly. The flowers on the lilac bushes on each side of our home are abuzz with bees and hummingbirds. We have the traditional purple color, and a few small sprigs of white lilac just starting to grow. 



I was sitting out on the front porch with a soft breeze coming up from the south. The intoxicating smells of the lilac intermingled with my cup of coffee this morning. It was so comfortable to sit out and enjoy the front porch again. I miss it so much in the winter. 



Little Binney likes the front porch too, 
nestled up by my feet on the porch swing.



Our little nest of wrens on the front porch has been safely monitored from afar. They built a home in the top of the wreath. We don't walk too close to it since the 3 babies arrived. 



They are growing by leaps and bounds.  I use the camera zoom feature to get a picture while standing far away. 



They are pretty big now, and we noticed that the mom and dad are not bringing as many worms and bugs to feed them. Instead, mom and dad are sitting out on the power lines, calling loudly to the babies in the nest. We think that they are trying to entice them to try their wings and flap and fly and come on out and leave the nest! So far, none of them are taking the dare!!!

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Steve was able to complete more of the drywall on the ceiling of the garage. He's about two-thirds of the way done. Earlier this month, he insulated the entire ceiling. Now he's been putting up the large pieces of drywall, one piece at a time with our neighbor's drywall lift. See how we hung our canoe, (a.k.a.The Green Bean), from the ceiling in our garage? I can walk underneath it, but Steve has to duck. But it's up and out of the way and easily stores all of the cushions, life jackets, paddles etc inside when it's suspended up above.  Now we will wait till next week when the stores aren't so busy to pick up the last 9 pieces of drywall. 

  

Even though we are home, we are finding ways to keep busy this weekend. 

Steve decided to get the motorhome backed out of it's parking spot alongside of the garage and give it a good bath on all four sides. It hasn't been washed yet this year and he thought it might be a good time to take care of it. He only uses a gentle car wash soap in the bucket. The finish on the motorhome, even though it's 26 years old, looks wonderful! It has such a good clear coat that it does not even need wax. It's never been waxed or buffed and looks just great when Steve is done with the gentle wash and rinse. He did a great job!



While he was washing the motorhome, I decided to take care of washing the king size quilt from inside the motor home, as well as the king size quilt on our bed. Both needed to be washed very carefully on gentle delicate cycle, spun out gently, and then hung to dry. They just fit on our backyard fence and lightly touch the grass. The one on the left is called New England Stellar Log Cabin and the one on the right is a Star Block variation. Yes, I made both of them.



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Earlier this week, my friend Vicky asked me for a recipe. Actually, she asked me the week before and I forgot to give it to her until last week! So I thought I would share it with you.  I am not one for recipes, really, but I saw this recipe online... one easy dump-in casserole with all Aldi ingredients!



Aldi One Pan Baked Sausage Vegetable Potato Casserole Recipe:

Have dinner ready in less than an hour with this simple casserole. Prepared with just a few simple Aldi ingredients, this is one dish the entire family will ask for over and over again.

Half of an Aldi Parkview Polska Kiebasa.

One Aldi can sliced potatoes or you can use raw ones.

Half bag of Aldi Prince Edward frozen veggie medley.

and added thin sliced raw onions and minced garlic and spices, and 2 TB olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

I slice up some sweet Vidalia onion and put some minced garlic into the bottom of a glass casserole dish, liberally sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.



I love these Aldi canned sliced potatoes! Cut open the top of the can and drain out the water. Then put in 2 TB of extra-virgin olive oil into the can. Put the lid back on and shake it around a little, or carefully tipping it up and down, until the potatoes are coated with the olive oil. Then dump them in the pan with the onions and minced garlic.



We really like the Polska Kielbasa from Aldi, it's the Parkview brand that they carry. I only use half of a ring of the kielbasa for the two of us. You're making a meal for 4, of course use the full ring. I slice it on an angle that makes it look kind of fancy.



Dump the sausage in over the potatoes and onion mixture. Then I liberally apply some spices. I like Lawry's, and black pepper, as well as dried parsley flakes. Then our local grocery store has a mixed seasoning bottle similar to Mrs. Dash called Harvest Blend.



Next, I cover up the entire casserole dish with tin foil and seal it around the edges, tight to the rim of the casserole dish.

Place the dish on the center rack and bake the potatoes and sausage for 20 minutes at 400°F, stirring halfway through.

Now for my third part of the ingredients, add our favorite Prince Edward Medley frozen vegetables. They are green beans, yellow wax beans, and little baby carrots. I use half a bag of this for a serving for two. I might add it's a very generous serving because Steve usually has a double serving and I have one. If you're making it for a larger group use the whole bag.



I just sprinkle them over the top and then I seal the tinfoil back around firmly on the edges. That way the steam from underneath of the potatoes and meat cook up through the vegetables. Return the dish in the oven and continue baking for an additional 20 minutes. Stirring halfway through so that all of the ingredients are fully cooked.

Yummmmm while I was typing this blog this afternoon, I decided to make it for supper tonight!


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Tomorrow is another day, Sunday, which is due to get windier and maybe the temperatures will start rising. Today we were only in the low 60s. But by Monday and Tuesday is supposed to be up in the high 90s and humid! Ugh!!!