A quiet and cool Sunday

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  What a change!  Cold in the AM with light rain – 50s.  Warming up to a pleasant 70

George made his usual Sunday morning grits and eggs breakfast.  The grits were especially good as he used turkey broth instead of water.  I had made the turkey broth using smoked turkey bones after Thanksgiving.  Yum!

Since the weather was unpleasant, I didn’t do my walk, and being Sunday, no classes were offered.  I spent the morning on the computer and telephone.  What fun!  I booked our flight to Kaui, Hawaii for January and was able to use credit from a Covid-cancelled flight from last fall. 

In the afternoon, I went to Staples to get my Spanish lessons printed and copied.  It is a bit of a hassle since I don’t have Word or a similar app on my tablet.  After a few hours, I got the job done.  Whew!

Some friends in our village put up their Christmas tree.  It is really beautiful.  We, like many others here, won’t be decorating as we got rid of all of our Christmas decorations when we went full-time RVing.  I don’t want to buy “stuff” any more.  But, I do enjoy seeing others’ pretty decorations!

DINNER:  I turned to Lover Boy #2 Jacques Pepin for tonight’s dinner: 


4 striped bass fillet steaks (can substitute other firm fish)
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

For the relish..

1/2 cup canned or jarred red pimientos, cut into julienne strips
1/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped
1/4 cup finely minced scallions
2 T fresh lemon juice
3 T olive oil
Can vary with other fresh herbs.  I added 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For the bass –

Heat the oven to 180.  Heat a grill until very hot.  Rub the steaks with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Arrange the steaks on the hot grill and cook about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the steaks to ovenproof platter and keep warm in the oven until read to serve.

For the relish….Mix everything together in a small bowl.

To serve – place a fish fillet on each of the 4 plates.  Top with the relish. 

This was a great, very easy recipe.  I used redfish which George had caught last week in the Gulf.  Sides were leftover (Thanksgiving) Brussels sprouts,  and rice.  The rice was extra good as I cooked it with smokey turkey broth, made from the bones of our Thanksgiving turkey. 


LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot (really muggy) in the AM. Wind change from the north and cloudy.  Cooler.  High 80

CLASSES:  2 water aerobics classes
STEPS:  10,299

I took my morning walk and returned drenched with sweat.  Yuck!  Thank goodness for air conditioning!

George is busy building a shelf for our new bar refrigerator.  It will be nice to have it elevated, and he will build a wine rack within the shelving.  He loves doing this like this.  Photos of the finished product to follow.

While we were doing water aerobics, black clouds formed above our heads.  It really got windy as the wind shifted from the south to the north.  The palm trees were swinging in the wind, and rain drops started falling.  We continued swimming, and the clouds magically disappeared.  False alarm!  There was a 60% chance of rain, but it fizzled out.  Too bad for the farmers as we really need the rain.  However, this cold front will stick around all week, so I’m not sure how many days we will be in the swimming pool next week.

There was a pet parade this afternoon, but it wasn’t much, probably due to the windy weather.  A few golf carts loaded with people’s dogs drove around the neighborhood. 

Our friends came over for margaritas and to talk about a possible trip to Hawaii in January.  They own a 2-week stay at a condo on Kaui.  It looks like travel to Hawaii is possible as long as you quarantine and/or get a negative Covid test before departure.  That would be so fun! Starting to dream!

Speaking of Covid, my former employer, Mayo Clinic, lit up one of its buildings in purple in downtown Rochester, MN to honor the many Covid patients they are caring for as well as all the Covid patients and their loved ones. 

DINNER:  I turned to my lover boy Jacques Pepin for dinner again tonight.  I modified the chicken recipe a bit to accommodate some leftover Thanksgiving turkey breast….


2 T butter
1 T olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup shopped shallots
1 c diced white button mushrooms
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 T ketchup
1/2 c water

Corn and Peas…

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 c corn
1.5 c peas
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 T chopped chives.

Heat the oven to 180.  Heat 1 T of the butter and oil over high heat in a heavy saucepan or skillet large enough to hold the chicken breasts in one layer.  When hot, add the chicken breasts, and sprinkle them with the salt and pepper.  Saute’ uncovered for about 3 minutes on each side.  Transfer the breasts to an ovenproof plate, reserving the drippings in the pan, and place them in the oven.  Continue cooking for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Add the shallots and mushrooms to the pan drippings and cook for one minute over high heat.  Add the vinegar and ketchup and continue cooking for another minute.  Add the water, and cook until the water is reduced by half.  Add the remaining tablespoon butter and stir until incorporated.

Meanwhile for the corn and peas….Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the corn, peas, salt and pepper.  Saute’ 3-4 minutes. 

To serve, arrange a ring of vegetables on each of the 4 plates.  Cut each breast in half crosswise on a slant and place the breast pieces in the center of the vegetables.  Coat the chicken with the sauce and sprinkle on the chives. 

We really liked this.  I modified the recipe to use up an-already cooked turkey breast (instead of the chicken).  So, I skipped the first part describing how to roast the chicken.  I just warmed up the turkey with some turkey fat leftovers and continued on with the recipe.


Good thing I had a bunch of shallots!  Asparagus was ridiculously cheap during our last shopping trip – $.89 for a huge bunch, so we just had to buy them.  This recipe was a great way to use them…

1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed
1 T good olive oil
4-5 shallots cut into thin slices
1 T butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Cut the asparagus on the bias into 2-inch pieces.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the asparagus and shallots and cook 7-8 minutes, until the asparagus is just tender.  Stir in the butter, salt, and pepper and toss to mix. 

This was super easy and tasty.  I didn’t have quite enough shallots, so I added a few scallions.. 

Back in the saddle….

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Nice.  Sunny.  High 85

CLASSES:  2 water aerobics
STEPS:  11,275

Back in the swing of things, I did my morning hike and then 2 water aerobics classes.  I am going to pretend that this stay in South Texas is my “spa” where I do a lot of exercise and eat/drink healthy.  We will see!

The houses across the street from us back up to a pasture.  That field is a popular route for undocumented people to come across.  They took these pictures this morning of the Border Patrol activity.  I read that about  500 undocumented people are caught daily in our area.  It is so sad. 

After our big Thanksgiving meal, our freezer is beyond stuffed.  I could hardly close the door.  There is so much food in there that I have lost track of what is in there.  So, I took everything out and did an inventory.  Then, George put things back in, with his great organizational skills, and now there is room to spare! 

George has discovered our community’s buy/sell facebook group and spent time wheeling and dealing today.    This is a dangerous thing.  He bought a grill from someone (his 5th!!!) and an air compressor.  Now he is trying to sell some of our other grills and air compressor.  😦 

The highlight of the day was going to our local brewery.  On weekends, food trucks and vendors set up on their large patio, accompanied by live music.  Everyone is careful to social distance, and we sat at a picnic table far away from the crowd. 

George had two of their beers (he said they were good), and I abstained as the designated driver.  Good thing, as I almost had a wreck on my way home.  We wound our way through a neighborhood, and I pulled in front of a car that I thought had a stop sign.  My bad.

DINNER:  After yesterday’s gluttony, I wanted something light, so turned to Lover Boy #2 – Jacques Pepin.  With his help, I prepared the two dishes below.  George had smoked the trout yesterday on the smoker while he was smoking the Thanksgiving turkey.  (Trout that he had caught last week in the Gulf). 


2 smoked trout filets – small
1 hard-boiled egg – thinly sliced
1 cup diced tomato
1 cup pitted mixed olives – Kalamata, black, green, cut in half
1/3 cup finely chopped onion – I used red
5 T chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 T olive oil

For horseradish cream…

1/3 cup whipped cream cheese
1 T horseradish
1/4 tsp black pepper
Squeeze lime or lemon juice

Bone the trout, chop in bite-sized bits and set aside.

Mix together egg, tomato, olives, onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, and oil in one bowl.
Mix the horseradish cream ingredient in another bowl.

To serve –

Divide the tomato mixture among 4 plates.  Make a well in the center of each mound.  Spoon the sauce into the well in the center of each salad.  Arrange pieces of trout on top of the sauce, using about half of a trout per person.  Serve with French bread.


3 bunches broccoli, stems removed (use stems for a different recipe)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 T butter
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Cut the broccoli into florets.  Bring 2 cups water to a boil.  Add broccoli and garlic.  Bring back to boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook about 10 minutes. 

Drain, saving the water. 

Put the solids into a food processor.  Melt the butter and cook until brown.  Add to the food processor along with the salt, pepper, and 3 T of the reserved cooking liquid.  Process until a fine puree. 

Serve immediately.  Serves 4.  Note – this was a little bland, so we added hot sauce, more salt and pepper at the table. 

A smokin’ turkey day!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Warm and sunny.  High 82

Today was all about eating.  None of that pesky exercise!!!  🙂

George got the smoker grill going early in the morning.  It will take all day to smoke the 11-pound turkey.  He got the smoker going with some mesquite coals and mesquite/apple smoking chips. 

I made a sauce for basting the turkey – using the herbs we had rubbed the turkey with plus some Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and melted butter. 

He “mopped” the turkey all day long.  It got smaller and browner as the day went on.

While he had the smoker going, he smoked the trout and redfish that he had caught a few days ago in the Gulf.  I will use the smoked fish for future recipes…..stay tuned.

George checked the Retama Village Classifieds Facebook page and saw a small beer refrigerator that a neighbor was giving away.  We struck while the iron was hot!  We put it in our bar area which handily has an electricity outlet.  He moved all his beer there from our regular refrigerator, and suddenly I have a lot more room! 

We skipped lunch but munched on pate and crackers and some Cape Codders – cranberry juice and vodka. 

Towards the end of the smoking, we put the sweet potatoes on the grill and some stuffed jalapeno peppers.  The peppers were stuffed with cream cheese and bacon bits, then wrapped with smoked bacon.  We had them as appetizers.  Wow!

We ate our meal around 5:00.  The final menu was:

Cranberry sauce with Grand Marnier
Sweet potatoes
Brussels sprouts with bacon and parmesan (recipe below – I added the parmesan)
Paired with a Pinot Noir

We are not big sweet eaters, so we didn’t have any dessert.  We didn’t need it! 

We certainly have a lot to be thankful for today and all days. 

Now….what to do with all those leftovers!!!

Sugar cane harvesting

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Quite pleasant.  Sunny.  High 80

I had to get up early this morning for a blood draw appointment at the doctor’s office.  Medicine here is so different from what I am used to at Mayo Clinic.  They do a good job with screening and encourage mostly telemedicine appointments.  I was probably the only patient there who speaks English.  All the staff are completely bilingual.  The lobby gives you a feeling that you are in Mexico.  Not today (as the front door is locked due to Covid), but usually, street vendors wander  in off the street selling sweet things from a box that they strap around their necks, and people distribute religious pamphlets (even though there is a sign saying no soliciting). 

Another fun event today was doing laundry!  That tells something about the day. 

I made cranberry sauce with Grand Marnier for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner.  Here is the recipe….The author is quite funny….read her description of the wooden spoon.

The fields around our community are planted with corn, hay, and sugar cane.  It is now the season for harvesting sugar cane.  First they burn off the excess foliage.  We get a lot of smoke in the air on days they are doing this.  After the burning, then they go in with machines to chop it down.  Sugar cane doesn’t require replanting every year; it comes up on its own for about 3 years, before requiring new plantings.

Pre-Covid, we attended an educational lecture at our clubhouse about sugar cane harvesting.  One of the interesting/sad things is that undocumented people often hide in the sugar cane fields.    So, the harvesters surround the fields several days before burning and over a loud speaker system, shout out that they will be burning the fields soon – in both Spanish and English.  They purposely drive trucks that are not white, as the undocumented know that Border Patrol vehicles are white.  The harvesters plead for the undocumented to come out and assure them that they are not Border Patrol.  However, some don’t comply and from time to time, we hear that some were burned/killed.  These are some photos a neighbor took this week….

DINNER:  Flatbread pizzas.  I need to use a lot of leftovers tonight in order to make room for all the Thanksgiving leftovers that I am expecting tomorrow.  With that in mind, I spread some naan slices with cream cheese and sprinkled with Italian herbs.  Then, I added a mix of sauteed green peppers, scallions, mushrooms, leftover sausage, and leftover pepperoni.  I topped it with Parmesan and mozzarella, and baked until everything was melted and hot. 

In the evening, we prepped the turkey for its smoking tomorrow.  George has a recipe that calls for an herb rub.  We put all the herbs together, and rubbed her down.  The smoking tomorrow will probably take all day.  I thawed some of the fish George caught last week, and will smoke that as well, since we will have the smoker going.  We also plan to smoke some bacon/cheese-filled jalapenos.  It will be fun tomorrow doing all of that!  More to come! 

Travel desires and a Spanish class!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:   Very nice.  Sunny.  High 84

We ventured out today to do our Thanksgiving meal shopping.  It was remarkably calm.  We loaded up on turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and stuffing.  George will smoke the turkey….all day long on Thursday.

I further checked out the gift package that our daughter had sent me.  Included in the Rick Steves’ box of travel stuff, there was also a t-shirt, with his motto….”Keep on traveling!”  That certainly describes me, too!   We received an email today from a homeowner in northeastern Italy inquiring if we would like to return to housesit for their beautiful home and cutie-pie dog, but the dates don’t work….even if Europe does open for us in 2021.  It got me thinking again, and salivating, about European travel.  We will just wait and see.

Then, Spanish class!  I had put out the word that I would teach Spanish to a few people in Retama Village, our community.  At first, only one couple expressed interest, then people started to come out of the woodwork, and I ended up with 11 pupils plus George.  We had the class outdoors in order to social distance.  I am creating my own curriculum as there aren’t any textbooks that really meet the needs of these people.  It was fun.  We will start meeting twice a week.  I checked these books out from our local public library to help me get started….

DINNER:  I have lab work tomorrow, so I am fasting.  Darn!  I made George brisket tacos.  I have seen them on restaurant menus so I thought I would make some, using the leftover brisket George had smoked last week.  He said they were good!

BOOK:  “The Department of Sensitive Crimes” by Alexander McCall Smith.  He is the author of that African lady detective series and also books about life in Scotland, where he now lives.  He writes delightfully.  This is his latest book. 

The joys of camping……flat tire!

LOCATION:  Back in our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Cool AM, then warming to 84

I am downgrading the rating of the Bay View RV Park where we stayed in Rockport from 2 to 1.  (It started out as a 3.)  While we were there, we ran over something and punctured one of the Airstream’s tires a little.  We had to put some air in it  yesterday as there was a tiny leak.  Then, this morning, it was even flatter, so George had to remove it and replace it with the spare tire.  A big job!  Better to do it here at the Harvest Host winery, though, rather than out on a highway!

We had about a 5-hour drive back home.  Most of the drive was pretty bleak.  We had spotted a new  BBQ restaurant on the highway when we first left Mission, and were looking forward to  stopping there for lunch today.  Sadly, it is closed on Mondays.  We talked with the Filipino owner who was there smoking brisket for tomorrow.  We plan to stop there  some time on another trip.   

This is the route we took on our 5-day camping trip.  It was a nice get-away.

Our lovely daughter surprised us with a gift package that arrived at our door this afternoon….a DVD set of my “lover man #3” – Rick Steves.  I can’t wait to start watching the DVDs and reading the books….salivating over possible 2021 European travel. 

DINNER:  Since we didn’t get together with our friends Irene and Rob for the last night’s camping trip dinner, we went over to their house to eat it tonight.  Rob grilled some porkchops that he had marinated in harissa and garlic paste  – yum.  Irene made ratatouille and boiled potatoes.  Great dinner and a great way to wrap up our little holiday together.

Harvest Host #61!

LOCATION:  Port Lavaca, Texas – east central part of state near Gulf of Mexico
CAMPGROUND:  Our 61st Harvest Host site!  Rusty Hook Winery.  We are in a big field behind the winery, adjacent to farm land.  Fairly basic but nice and peaceful.  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Mostly sunny and hot – 82.  A nice breeze in the evening.

We dithered around the RV park at Rockport, after our customary Sunday morning grits and eggs, accompanied by “CBS Sunday Morning”. 

I may downgrade my rating of the Rockport RV park from 2 to 1.  While we were there, part of the Airstream’s electricity would not work – the microwave, TV, and some outlets.  We assumed that some fuse had blown, but we couldn’t figure out the exact issue.  George experimented this morning by replacing the 50-amp electricity cord with the 30-amp cord, and voila’!   – things started working again.  The problem was not with Joy, our Airstream, but with the electricity hook-up.  (The power stand looked like it been backed into). 

We took off about noon as we only had a one-hour drive today, pretty much straight north.  We stopped at a roadside park for a picnic lunch.  We passed several car convoys, heading south ….several sets of a car pulling a beat-up car, pulling another beat-up car.  These cars are destined to have a second life in Mexico. 

Once we got set up in the winery, parking under the lone shade tree, we unhooked and went into the town of Port Lavaca to meet up with our friends Irene and Rob.  They are staying at a KOA north of the town as they are not Harvest Host members.  We said we would meet in the historic district, thinking it would be like cute Rockport with shops.  We were wrong.  There is nothing to the town.  All boarded up and sad.  We tried to find some coffee shop or wine bar along the seashore, but zip.  We got excited when we found a brewery with a waterfront view, but alas, it was closed on Sundays.  What?

George searched the internet looking for a restaurant/bar with a view and found nothing.  One bar got a 5-star rating.  He read the review:  “Great bar as the beer is cheap and they don’t have as many fights as the other bars in town”.   Wow!  What a glowing report!  As we drove around, we did see one bar that was doing a good business, so we thought we would check it out.  It was a typical Texas dive.  A big sign at the entrance warned about fighting – police would be called and the fighters would be banned permanently from the bar.  They are serious! 

With nothing else to do or see, we decided just to return to the winery.  Rob and Irene came with us and we did a tasting.  We sat out on the patio so that Trix could join us.  The wine was just so-so, but we supported the winery by buying some local salsa and bloody Mary mix from their gift shop.  We always buy something at a Harvest Host (free)  overnight stop. 

The winery closed at 6:00, so it became utterly peaceful.  We sat outside and enjoyed our own beer and wine.

DINNER:  I warmed up some of the beef brisket George had smoked a few weeks ago. I served it with Spanish rice and sauteed mixed vegetables.  This was the evening that our friends had planned to cook dinner, but since we are separated, we will postpone our get-together until tomorrow night when we are back in Retama Village.

An even bigger fish day!

LOCATION:  Rockport, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  2nd night at Bay View RV Resort
WEATHER:   A bit cloudy but nice.  High 80

George and our friend Rob got up at the crack of dawn to go out on a charter fishing boat for a half-day fishing trip.

While they were fishing, Rob’s wife Irene and I walked Trix their dog around the RV park.  The park has a lake where we spotted these beautiful flamingos. 

The boys returned at noon with a TON of fish!  Redfish, drum, sheepshead, and trout.  Wow!  We packaged everything up and froze most, saving redfish filets for tonight’s dinner.  Here are photos of their trip….

We drove in to the very cute town of Rockport.  We strolled around the historic district which has lots of shops selling beachwear, beach-style decor, and knick-knacks.  Trix was allowed in all the shops and was greatly admired.

Back at the park, I made us all margaritas which went down well.  The boys fired up their gas grills. 

DINNER:  Starter was the filets from the drum George caught yesterday at Lake Corpus Christi.  I sauted them in the iron skillet over the grill with butter and garlic.  For the main meal, each couple shared a redfish filet (quite large).  Irene made steamed broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes for us as sides.  We paired the meal with an Italian white wine.  All very very good!

A fishy sort of day

LOCATION:  Rockport, Texas  on the Texas Gulf Coast
CAMPGROUND:  Bay View RV Resort.  A huge RV park.  Strangely not paved, so very dusty.  About 80% of the RVs are seasonal/permanent so it is cluttered.  Full hook-ups.  2 swimming pools.  Bathroom is inside clubhouse.  Haven’t found a shower yet!  No picnic table or fire pit.  Cable TV, but no PBS.  Very poor wifi.  $45/night.  Sand spurs all over!  2 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 80.  Cool evenings

George got up early to go fishing on Lake Corpus Christi, where we spent last night.  The fishing pier on the lake is quite nice.  He recruited our friend Rob to accompany him.

Rob’s wife Irene and I met up with them later at the pier.  On our way, we saw a bunch of deer.  Then, a turtle in the lake, followed by this heron and egret.  Lovely

Here are the fishermen….

Trix, their dog, was excited about the fishing, too.

Then….George caught one!  It is a drum.  He had not taken his bucket with him, as he didn’t think he would catch any fish, so I had to carry the fish back to our campsite (with my finger stuck in its gills) to place in a bucket of water.

We had only a 1-hour drive, straight east, to get to Rockport.  Our friends drive a motorhome and pull a jeep behind it.  They followed us.  Once we arrived at the park, they told us they watched another car almost rear-end us.  Guess who was driving?  This happened at the entrance of the RV park.  Apparently, a reckless driver who was in a hurry passed our friends on the right, then swerved back in the left lane, not realizing I was there and was getting ready to make a left lane into the park.  The guy had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting us. 

We got settled in and took a walk around part of the RV park.  George and Rob spent some time on the internet researching possible guided fishing trips for tomorrow. 

Then, we all went to a great seafood restaurant.  They spread the (few) customers around inside, tent, and roof-top seating areas.  The evening was cool and pleasant so we sat on the roof-top. 

We started with oysters on the half shell.  I haven’t had these in a long time, and they were great.  They come right from the Gulf here.

We shared a blackened amber jack fish dinner.  It came with shrimp gumbo as a starter, rice, and steamed vegetables.  Excellent!

The dock was busy with commercial boats getting ready to go out early in the morning.