Catfish, Honey

June 25 was declared National Catfish Day (for farm-raised catfish) by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Farm-raised catfish doesn’t fish well by us, coming from Louisiana, near Lac Des Allemands and Spahr’s Restaurant on Highway 90, in the heart of the Catfish Capital of the Universe, so decreed by Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards in 1975. Where else can you nosh on some of the sweetest catfish you will ever taste other than in a converted gas station that overlooks a picturesque bayou filled with alligators. Des Allemands, LA is the place and home of an annual Catfish Festival to go along with their “out of this world” catfish title.

A St. Cloud, Florida restaurant gives wild catfish a very good try, no farm-raised catfish here either. Their catfish are imported from Lake Okeechobee and other local bodies of water. The restaurant, like Spahr’s is a throwback to another era, but they boast a long list of famous people who have dined there. Our names did not make the list.

We were in the area to purchase local honey from 3Beez Honey Farm, from their small storefront off Grape Avenue in St. Cloud. 3Beez, in oBeeur opinion, has the purest, best tasting honey in the area.

On the way home after the honey buy, we stopped at the St. Cloud restaurant for lunch. Catfish entrees were half price in honor of National Catfish Day. We hit a small jackpot with the size of the restaurant’s abundant portions, bringing half a meal home to our refrigerator.

We reminisced about dear friends now living in Georgia who love this restaurant.

Pass the catfish, honey. It’s been a good day.

Just Enough

Just Enough

Your heart melts, looking into her beautiful green eyes watching her lift each of three young friends to the table to choose a donated danish, cinnamon roll or chocolate chip cookie. She is nine years old, but acts more responsible than some adults. She steers another child to the front of the line, “She’s new. She doesn’t know what to do,” she says. Nine people are in her family. We give her a loaf of raisin bread dusted with powdered sugar to make French Toast. Walking away, she is smiling. Your heart melts a second time.

Today, there was just enough bread and pastries for everyone. A woman, a regular, was missing. We wonder where she is. Has she moved?

“You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, Common English Bible)

You are the Light

You are the Light

A green-eyed child taking care to see that other children get a sweet treat on a hot Florida evening is a light in a dark world. Her light shines in spite of the darkness of poverty around her. Just enough good things shut out darkness.

I Was a Graduation Party “Stage Hand”

I Was a Graduation Party “Stage Hand”

On touchdown, 3 days before graduation, I felt like a roadie touring with a sophisticated rock band sitting in the last seat of a tour bus. “What do you want me to do next?” was my mantra. I rounded corners on photos for photo boards, swept floors and observed divas preparing delicious dishes for a graduation celebration. I had become a graduation party stage hand. I loved every minute of it.

Two divas rode in on clouds of expertise, taking over the kitchen to prepare mac and cheese and cheesy potatoes from family recipes. One of the diva’s sons was graduating the same day. Giggles and fairy dust filled the kitchen as macaroni cooked and potatoes were prepared filling the kitchen with aromas of comfort food. Within an hour, several casseroles complete with baking instructions were relayed to us “roadies.” The kitchen was left cleaner than before the divas arrived. Excited chaos reigned as we watched clouds carry the divas of delicious dishes to the next destination.

On the day of the party, a family friend drove up carrying more fruit than Brazilian Bombshell Carmen Miranda could fit on one of her signature fruit hats. If you want fruit kabobs that could grace the cover of any food magazine, you will need to call Melissa.

I don’t know what would we have done without the graduate’s friend David. He schlepped piping hot casseroles and kabobs to a neighbor’s waiting garage. It is encouraging to know that David goes to the same university that our high school graduate will be attending in the fall.

Rocco and Ginger Watch as soon to be Graduate Leaves.

Rocco and Ginger Watch as soon to be Graduate Leaves.

But wait, it is graduation day! Rocco and Ginger watch as the graduate leaves the house for the formal graduation ceremony. A pot of geraniums sit on the porch. (Geraniums have all sorts of meanings but according to the International Geranium Society, the flowers Americans most commonly refer to as “geraniums” are not true geraniums at all, but are actually pelargoniums. Both belong to the Geraniaceae family and both are native to South Africa, imported to America in the 1700s. Though similar in appearance they have notable differences.) Doesn’t this description of geraniums sound like the human race? Aren’t we all similar in appearance but have notable differences? Don’t we all belong to God’s family whether we were “imported or were born here?”

Dad Hugs Son Leaving for Graduation Ceremony

Dad Hugs Son Leaving for Graduation Ceremony

I’m a good “roadie” who takes instructions well, especially for celebration preparations. Congratulations to all Graduates. To some of you, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your celebrations.

Twenty-two Graduates in One Community

Twenty-two Graduates in One Area of the Community

Every day is a cause for celebration. How are you celebrating God’s amazing gifts He has given you?

Graduate with Parents

Graduate with Parents

Buy Local

Buy Local

A trip to Port Canaveral last Friday included lunch at a restaurant featuring fresh Florida fish. Both of us scarfed down the delicious Cobia (lemon fish) sandwich on a pretzel roll. Locally caught, very fresh fish. The trip’s purpose was to scout out my husband’s planned fishing trip on Wednesday.

A fresh fish market at Port Canaveral

A fresh fish market at Port Canaveral

Buy Local.  Question your Supplier

Buy Local. Question your Supplier

A few days after our Port Canaveral trip, I stopped at a specialty market to purchase fish for dinner. I purchased tuna imported from Indonesia. I avoid farmed fish, salmon, talipia (aka Frankenfish), catfish, and any other farm raised fish which drives my husband slightly crazy. The store was offering a deep discount for “fresh frozen” wild salmon though by 1:30 in the afternoon, they were sold out. I asked for a rain check for the “fresh frozen WILD King Salmon.”

Most intriguing was a sign on avocados at the store. “Fresh from Mexico” it read. Living in Florida, I wonder why grocers don’t offer more “Fresh from Florida” avocados?

Fresh from Mexico??

Fresh from Mexico??

Perhaps Florida avocados are being flown across deep waters to international destinations. I succumbed, buying two “organic fresh from Mexico” avocados because the price was right and an avocado’s skin is tough enough to keep out pesticides, plus, you don’t eat its skin.

I am thankful for country of origination labeling however, I am an advocate for local produce and fish. While living in Louisiana, we often purchased fresh catfish from the “Des Allemands Outlaw Katfish Company,” at Lac Des Allemands, Louisiana. It was a well worth a drive for fresh catfish from the waters of the bayou.

What are your thoughts and preferences for local produce? For fish? Do you have a local grocer of preference you would like to share?

Dining Around

Dining Around

Our route would take us on a few of Florida’s less traveled highways. The plan to stop at a Starbuck’s en route never materialized. Instead, plan B took us to a breakfast cafe in a tiny town’s historic district. I was unsettled about the looks of the place before I opened the car door. No, I don’t think I want any coffee as I watched my husband pour something white into his coffee that came  from a foot-tall plastic blue bottle straight from a wholesale store’s shelves.

Checking in to the resort, the desk assistant’s attitude was a trite unfriendly. I whispered to my husband, “We’re not at Disney World® anymore.” Our room wasn’t available. We headed to lunch over roadways packed full of tourists like us. There was a long waiting list for a table at Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon. My husband remarked that he didn’t think there was a person under 60 years old in the restaurant besides the staff. The grouper sandwich was worth the wait. We split a slice of homemade key lime pie.

Back at the resort, we checked into a spacious room, heading immediately for the screened private balcony. A clear sky and the sun’s rays lent a warmth to our spot 12 floors above a marina.

That evening, we dined at the resort’s poolside restaurant. The waiter brought my husband’s white wine in a giant sized plastic communion-looking cup. My husband waited for a clean wine glass, telling me he would not be pleased if it were plastic as he poured the wine into the stemmed glass… it was plastic. But wait, we were poolside. “They’re not going to give you glass barware by the pool,” I remarked as I sipped my club soda from a plastic hurricane “glass.”

At Doc Ford’s the following day, we noshed on my husband’s favorite, Yucatan Shrimp. My husband kept saying, “They don’t taste like yours.” There’s no jalapeño in the shrimp at Doc Ford’s.

Sanibel Island, Cape Coral, Tarpon Point Marina and Bowling Green

Sanibel Island, Cape Coral, Tarpon Point Marina and Bowling Green

Train Travel Adventures

Kale Chips Do Not Travel Well by Train

Visiting family spring breakers insisted on shopping to supplement and fortify a stash of snacks, almonds, pretzels, string cheese, peanut butter, snow peas, and cucumbers. House guests often buy more than they consume. The house was full of March Madness mayhem, recording games to watch after returning home from theme park marathons. Spring break brought family restful hours by a community pool. Heavy eyelids made their way downstairs for breakfast and trips back to the grocery store for more, donuts! Full from adventuresome days, family departed to return to not so warm temperatures of their hometown. After their departure, we readied for a brief train trip to Savannah, GA with Hilton Head Island as our final destination.

I placed a package of Kale Chips into the beige-trimmed navy canvas satchel that contained a writing journal, camera, iPad and other travel security items I felt necessary to bring along, but I forgot the binoculars. After boarding the Amtrak Silver Meteor train for Savannah, I threw the satchel into the overhead rack. The inexpensive Kale Chips turned into crumbs. I thought they would be a perfect snack while reading the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, but since Kale Chips were crumbs, I would need a spoon. I had packed two bags of a favorite comfort food, Cheez It crackers, (left behind by family spring breakers). One of the bags had turned into crumbs like the Kale Chips.

The train ride was relaxing until across the aisle, a frantic voice connected to a friend screamed into her phone, “The ADT alarm is going off at my house, the police are on their way. I’m tired of buying things for thieves to steal.” She got off the train before I heard if her friend went to her home to meet police.

We were 6 cars back from the train’s engines. I didn’t hear one whistle as we traveled over railroad crossings. I never heard the crumbling of Kale Chips or Cheeze It crackers either. A train stop in Jacksonville turned into a long delay when the crew made the decision to ditch one of the sleeper cars for safety reasons. People carrying pillows joined us in coach class when they had to be relocated from their roomy sleeper cars.

This is living large

Living Large

My husband, sitting by the window, was glued to his iPhone, watching every inch of terrain on a satellite map he downloaded. With the rocking back and forth of our train, I read and read and read, sometimes gasping at Dr. Davis’s statements meant to bring a laugh. I disrupted my husband’s map adventures more than once with “You’re not going to believe this…” statements as I read portions of the book’s pages to him.

We seldom miss a meal in the dining car when traveling by train. I ignored what I had read minutes ago when a warm sour dough dinner roll was set before me. Dining car meals bring adventure, one never knows who a dinner partner is going to be. We shared a table with a Connecticut artist traveling home from an extended family visit with her son and grandson. Her interesting clothing and jewelry gave me a clue that she was probably an artist. Roosters, she had been painting roosters, 68 of them so far. How many roosters have you seen walking around your neighborhood? Me, none but I do like roosters.

Serene Marsh Veiw

Serene Marsh View

We were going to Hilton Head by way of Savannah, taking a taxi from the Amtrak station to the Savannah Airport to pick up a rental car for the one hour ride. Our Amtrak scheduled arrival time of 7:15pm turned into 9:15pm, altered in part by the sleeper car’s ditching a few hours back. Type A personalities may not do well traveling by train. After arriving in Savannah, we took a taxi to the airport (no charge) to pick up a car.

Driving in the dark Georgia night, my husband begins to fiddle with his iPhone. He was searching for a map to our final destination while driving on the interstate! I’m a “Type A nervous nellie.” Minutes passed. He pulled over to the side of the road to figure out the map. As second-class navigator, I made an executive decision. It was time to consult a professional, Siri, who lives and breathes to get me out of nervous situations, especially when the situation relates to directions. I voiced my request like Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise might command, “Get Directions to …” Siri’s audible commands navigated us to the resort at Hilton Head where we spent several days relaxing and enjoying South Carolina’s coast.

We went to a favorite spot for dinner. The Sunset Grill, a fine dining waterfront restaurant rests on top of a self-service laundromat in an RV park. Floor to ceiling windows on three sides offer breathtaking views. We appreciated the view of a vibrant sunset, unlike the time we had dinner during a heavy fog. Facing the Intracoastal Waterway at the Hilton Head Harbor Marina, one never knows what you may see in the calm waters. We’ve never been disappointed.

Fast forward to the end of August. We are ready for another visit of family. Will they make a trip to the grocery store, shopping to supply snack cravings? I’ll encourage them to buy some Kale Chips and Cheeze It crackers, secretly hoping for leftovers. (I won’t be saying a word to the author of Wheat Belly.)

Welcome to Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

Welcome to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort

Look for Shadow when you visit

Look for Shadow when you visit

Mileage from Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort
Mileage from Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort

Find the Recipe Please

Late in the day, I hear words from another room.  “They don’t have it anymore.”

“Who doesn’t have what?”

“Canada, they don’t have the salmon.”

“Canada? What salmon?”  I begin to think that there’s been an environmental accident.

He is searching the internet to find EPCOT’s Le Cellier Steakhouse Restaurant recipe for Maple Glazed Salmon.  The restaurant is in the Canada Pavilion at EPCOT’s World Showcase. I’m working on a project with a deadline that demands deep concentration.  I’m interrupted.  I hyperventilate, losing my concentration.  I pull out our oversized 2006 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival cookbook.  The salmon recipe isn’t in the book.

Somebody save me, I thought.  Being the family “queen of resources,” I take my iPad, knowing exactly how and where to search for the recipe.  I locate it, show it to a frustrated husband, and return to my work.  My husband is happy.  Le Cellier still has salmon on its menu, prepared another way.

The voice from the kitchen speaks, “Do we have pecans?”  Preparations begin.

Salmon Ornament

Salmon Ornament from Alaska

The wild salmon exceeded his expectations.  He remarked that he thought it was probably the best Maple Glazed Salmon he had ever prepared.  He didn’t overcook the pecans like he had the last time.

Later that evening while fixing lunch for the next day, he couldn’t find any ham for his sandwich.  He was frustrated, again.  I’ll get ham for him.  I insisted on going to the local grocery, a tourist “nerve center” that attracts vacationers looking for food to fill cabinet shelves in vacation housing.  During the day, the aroma of fried chicken cooked in hot grease hovers over the grocery store parking lot.  Maybe it serves as a tourist magnet, attracting vacationers to the store.

I enjoy people watching and observing selections vacationers put into shopping carts.  Distracted by vacationers, I had to ask for help to find ham.  My “queen of resources” tiara grows dim.

For the Maple Glazed Salmon recipe, click here:

©Barbara Moran Blog