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.

Do You Know Patsy Ann?

Do You Know Patsy Ann?

When you live in a tourist town, expect company. How sweet it is when family members visit. The theme of a recent issue of Alive Now magazine was Hospitality, our hospitality to God. How are we extending His hospitality to others?

We get to pick up family from the airport or pick them up at their hotels, and have lunch or dinner with them at theme parks or local restaurants. We get to put hospitality into practice with our family, guests and strangers we may meet. The story of Patsy Ann has been on my mind, maybe because a friend is traveling on her second trip to Alaska in a few weeks. Patsy Ann left a deep impression on me when I first saw her statue in 2002.

Official Greeter of Juneau

Official Greeter of Juneau

*”I think about the story of an English Bull Terrier born in 1929 whose name was Patsy Ann.  She lived in Juneau, Alaska.  Patsy Ann was known for enthusiastically greeting every ship that docked in Juneau.  In 1934, she was named “official greeter of Juneau” by the town’s mayor.  Born deaf, and intended to be a gift from a father for his two daughters, Patsy Ann chose to make her home along the Juneau wharves and at the longshoreman’s hall.  Though unable to hear, it was reported that she could sense a ship’s whistle a half-mile away and would run to the wharf to greet passengers.  On the 50th anniversary of her death, a statue of her was dedicated by The Friends of Patsy Ann organization.  The statue sits with Patsy Ann facing the waters of the channel where she greeted Juneau’s visitors.  The organization bearing her name raises scholarship funds to promote ‘understanding, respect, kindness and compassion.’  Those words sound like love to me.  Patsy Ann knew her passion and lived it despite being deaf.  I imagine what she looked like, her wagging tail and big eyes smiling, greeting the passengers disembarking from a ship… One could say that Patsy Ann flourished in her job as official greeter.  Today, all that remains of the stray dog named Patsy Ann is a bronze statue and a plaque summarizing her story…”

I like to think of myself as an official greeter in the name of Christ, at an airport, in a grocery store, or at a turnstile to enter a theme park. I strive to exude the enthusiasm of Patsy Ann, to promote understanding, respect,  kindness and compassion. I am grateful for family and friends who have extended amazing love and warm hospitality during their visits.

“…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)

To see more of the story of Patsy Ann, click here.

*Excerpt first published November 25, 2011 by St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

 

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

The Foodie in Me

The Foodie in Me

In January, we dined at the Walt Disney Resort’s California Grill.  It was the first time we had been there since its re-opening. A few years earlier, we celebrated my soul sister’s February birthday at this renown restaurant.

February is a busy time in our home. My husband is preparing for the annual conference of an organization he manages. During his preparations, he thinks we should have a nice dinner before he boards his plane for the conference. I’m up to my elbows with my own “stuff” to do, to file, to clean, to prepare but my “stuff” is nothing compared to his conference preparations.  “Okay,” I say.  We went to the Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s Boardwalk.

Expect Fine Food at the Flying Fish Cafe

Expect Fine Food at the Flying Fish Cafe

I was reluctant, not so enthused because of “stuff” on my overflowing plate that I could better manage if put on a large platter.  The Flying Fish is a favorite of my husband’s.  He wanted to sit by the kitchen. We sat at the restaurant’s bar, side by side, noshing on food worthy of any fine restaurant in the country, reminding me of a favorite birthday spot in New Orleans, Peristyle, where the portions were refined, delicate, and filling. After dinner at the Flying Fish a few nights ago, I have decided that it is a personal favorite in the world of the Walt Disney Resort.

On our ride home, I began to reminisce, thinking of Colorado and the Arapahoe Cafe where we met a young waitress I will call D. D is the mother of an  8-year old son who loves to read. She is a Christian mother living and working in a secular environment. We had a lovely visit, chatting more than we probably should have. D’s faith leads her life. Her son’s full name is made up of three prominent names that are in the Bible’s Old Testament. Remarkable. We pray for D and her son, thankful that our paths crossed. By the way, the Arapahoe Cafe serves good food. We noshed on some spiritual food while dining, thanks to D.

Arapahoe Cafe

Arapahoe Cafe

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

It’s from Thailand not the Philippines

On a road trip, we decided to overnight in Savannah, GA, a favorite spot.

I had told my husband that our daughter-in-law really liked our frog that I had bought in Savannah years ago and I would like to find one for her.  After dinner at the Sapphire Grill, we were on a mission to find a frog like the one that sits by our back door, guarding us from intruders like spiders, “Show me the Money” lizards and other like-minded creatures such as geckos.

Frog

Frog

Staying at a familiar place, I chose to talk to the locals while my husband went up to our room.  When I arrived, I heard, “Yes, frog.  Oh, it is from Thailand.  It is blonde wood?”  We had walked the streets of this river town searching for the frog, having solicited tips from locals about where we could find this fat frog carved in wood.  Years ago, I paid $29.00 for my frog, imported from the Philippines at some Savannah shop but I couldn’t remember the name of the shop.

At the Sapphire Grill, we sat next to a young couple celebrating an anniversary.  We exchanged conversation.  They lived on an island near Savannah.  Their children visit our locale for sports competitions.  I gave them a business card for our charity.  They didn’t know anything about frogs from the Philippines.  I had expected to have my favorite Chilean Sea Bass, a signature dish at the restaurant.  They don’t offer it anymore since Sea Bass has become over-fished.  How things have changed.  A new addition next door to the restaurant is a Paula Deen retail shop.  Had I known what was coming for Paula, I would have bought a few things in the shop.

The next morning, we checked out of our hotel to continue to search for the frog.  My husband had honed directions to a retail place that had a frog from Thailand that they stopped carrying because it was too expensive.  We parked.  We walked.  The shop was fantastic, featuring all sorts of high quality imports from around the world.  He asks about the frog.  The sales clerk says, “You were the one who called about the bronze frogs?”  We looked at each other.  Thailand?  Bronze frogs, not blonde wood frogs?

Leaving Savannah that morning sans frog, we chuckled about blonde wood.

Stay tuned for more Savannah escapades.

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:  http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/recipes/canada-salmon.htm

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