Summer’s gone.

Wow, that was fast. All of a sudden it is October 1st! We’ve been busy the last month or two.

We have happily welcomed out of town visitors, after a long COVID-induced drought of sorts. In July we enjoyed Patrick, Nga, and Nick. In September we had visits from Jake and Natalie, and then Noreen.

We enjoyed our visits with them, but somewhere in there Autumn slipped in. The high temperatures have begun dipping into the low 90s, so I guess I’ll have to brace myself for wearing pants and shoes soon.

The best way to beat the heat when guests visit is to hit the lake.

We went on a brief brewery crawl with Jake and Natalie. Outside seating, of course.

When guests are here, the gameroom actually gets used for playing games. Lots of billiards and darts played. I actually hit a double bull to win a game of darts!

We always eat well when guests are here. BBQ, TexMex, homemade pizza, and more. Julie made sushi rolls one night for Noreen, Monte and me. Delicious.

I wonder who will show up next?

Quasi-normal.

Yesterday Monte and I drove out the Texas wine trail to our favorite wine-club vineyard to pick up our May box of wine. It’s a big deal for us. We’ve deferred picking up our wine boxes for over a year because of COVID. But the winery is now open by appointment, so I booked us for a pickup, a tasting, and some lovely charcuterie.

Zinnias!

I’ve missed our drives out here. The visit to the winery was very nice. The wine was delicious, we saw the tail end of some lovely wildflowers, did a little antiquing, and grumbled about the return of traffic on the way home.

Buon viaggio!

We moved Trident to her slip Friday, just an hour or two before a hellacious storm front moved through. We were rocking and rolling at night, but we were safely tied up in the marina. It’s been raining here ever since.

We were so fortunate with the weather window that we had for the prior 2 weeks. We really had no crazy weather to speak of while we were on the move. Thanks mom! 🙂

We walked around in the rain on Saturday just because it was the only day I had to explore the town. We visited a couple art galleries and wine bars and uber-ed home, falling asleep while watching Master and Commander for the millionth time.

Nibblies!

Today is Sunday, and I’m flying home. Happy to close the book on another adventure with my sailing sister. I’m looking forward to spending a new summer on Nirvana with Monte.

The cycle of life.

We welcomed a new Weber grill into the fold today. We have 2 or 3 out back at a time, but when we burn through a grate or the body of a kettle, it’s time for a new one and recycle the old one.

So shiny!

Irish dinner.

For St. Patrick’s Day, I whipped up a lovely corned beef dinner, that I think even my Limerick-born dad would have enjoyed. Instead of cabbage, I opted for Brussels sprouts; they’re like tiny cabbages 🙂

Sláinte!

Birthday boy.

Happy birthday, Monte! Julie and Ryan brought their vaccinated selves over last night for a lovely dinner of steak and risotto, to celebrate with us. After dinner, we had cake and ice cream, and wii-ed a bit. 🙂

Wood-fired pizza.

Julie and Ryan came over this weekend with their new toy – a wood (pellet) fired pizza oven! It’s made by ooni. They set it up out back and we made pizzas until we couldn’t eat another bite. It worked really well, and the pizzas were delicious.

I made my favorite, a knock-off of Brick Oven’s Tuscan Truffle pizza. It has a mushroom and truffle oil pesto, with a little bit of prosciutto. It is topped with arugula and shredded asiago cheese after it comes out of the oven. Stupendo!

To make the mushroom pesto, blend the following in a food processor:

  • 8 oz brown mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp white truffle oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 oz shredded parmesan cheese

What the dukkah?!

Colleen turned me on to a new taste treat, an Egyptian-heritage nut and spice blend. Apparently Trader Joe’s sells some. Instead of running out to the store, I asked Google for help finding a recipe and picked this one because I had all the ingredients for it. I just made some and I like it. You can serve it in another dipping dish alongside bread and olive oil, pita and hummus, or veggies and hummus, or whatever else floats your boat.

Click through here to see the recipe as I found it. I used almonds instead of hazelnuts.

Biscotti on my mind.

I will do a bit more baking before the temps start hitting the triple digits again in Austin, at which point I am loathe to turn on the oven. I still have a couple of months.

I made almond biscotti yesterday (that recipe was posted in an old Sheila365 post here). Today I made a batch of chocolate biscotti. I love to dip one of these in my coffee in the morning.

Chocolate Biscotti Recipe (Preheat oven to350 degree F, makes about 2 dozen)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


2 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg white

Combine first 8 (dry) ingredients in large bowl.

Mix next 4 (wet) ingredients in small bowl with a fork.

Add wet to dry ingredients and stir until all is crumbly but moist. Then use your sparkling clean hands to massage and knead the mixture in the large bowl until it holds together in one moist loaf.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and place the dough on the baking sheet. Shape with your hands into a flat loaf, about 3/4″ high and 4-5″ wide. I like to square the ends so each piece is approximately the same size.

Place in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 mins. Then remove loaf and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. After cooling, slice the loaf into individual biscotti pieces about 1/2″ wide. Place each biscotti on its side on the baking sheet.

Bake in 325 oven for 10 minutes, then turn each biscotti piece and repeat for another 10 minutes.

Cool on rack, and enjoy!

If you care to count your calories, you may like to use a recipe calculator to estimate the calories per serving for your favoite recipes. I use the one at VeryWellFit.com. I plugged in the details for this recipe (assumes 24 pieces) and it says one biscotti is about 100 calories.

Enjoy!

Snow day.

We got a full day of big wet snowflakes falling in our part of Austin on Sunday. A nice change. And it took my mind off of the Seahawks’ round 1 playoff loss the night before. The snow was still on the ground all day Monday.

And a snow day means it’s time for cocoa in the snowball mugs!

Cheers to a new year.

I met up with some friends in Laura’s backyard today to cheer in the new year and to wish Doray a happy birthday.

Let’s hope 2021 is amazing. But I’ll take at least better than last year.

Cheers!

Old times.

Google tells me that the 18th century Scots phrase “auld lang syne” translates literally to “old long since,” or roughly to “old times” or “old times past” in English. As I was looking back through photos from 2020, I found one from New Year’s Day 2020 that perfectly depicts the old times, in stark contrast to the times we live in now, post-COVID.

This was taken a year ago at Ann’s New Year’s Day party; a very casual, annual, bring-whatever-leftovers-you-have, game-day get together with friends. I look forward to it every year. But not this year, sadly. This picture really reminds me how long it’s been since I hung out with a bunch of people, in close quarters, heads together, laughing and hugging, with no masks, or worries (other than, perhaps, a lingering hangover). I do hope we get back to this, eventually. Soon. We simply must.

Happy New Year to you and yours!