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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

More Cooking Moments on ❤️❤️❤️

~Sunday, February 14, 2021~

Day 245

Oh my goodness. Last night’s rain was probably the hardest rain we’ve ever been in. Yes, the trailer hung in there. I can’t imagine how the tent campers fared with that kind of deluge. It was quite a different morning as we were awoken by a few peacocks in our campsite. And it was very cool to witness their flying skills. We’ve never seen a peacock fly before….just hop from place to place, but never take to a tree. There were 3 having quite the chat that must have lasted for at least 30 minutes. Their call sounds like a crying baby. Then before you knew it, a male (the more colorful of the two), was off with 2 chickees. O.k. Now we know what that was all about.

Happy Valentine’s 💝 Day everyone! And what could be a better way to celebrate than to spend it doing errands. Over the years, Jeff and I have become less enchanted with the whole Hallmark Greeting created holiday. Don’t get me wrong, we still exchange “I Love You’s” and say “Happy Valentine’s Day”, but minus the pressure of buying candy, cards and flowers. It’s definitely become less complicated. One thing though we always do to celebrate….make fabulous Valentine’s Day dinner, at home. More on that later.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to express a little love today to our amazing mother so my sister Tracy and I had a beautiful bouquet of flowers sent to say “we love you” from afar.

It was so nice to be back among my retail therapy…..and not the clothes kind. I’m talkin’ Costco, Trader Joe’s, Target and Total Wine (our first time). We knocked it all out in about 4 hours. O.k. back to Total Wine (a version of BevMo that we’re used to, but better). Oh my goodness, you ask and you shall receive. When we asked where the triple sec was, we were introduced to nearly a whole aisle of it. I think that goes for most anything; full aisles of the same type but about 100 different brands. Total Wine is totally awesome. The last mission of the day was to find firewood. The last time we were in Florida, we heard about the shortage and we’ve had very few campfires on the whole trip. So we were bound and determined. Score…...Lowe’s had just gotten a pallet in so we took 3 bundles. We certainly learned a lesson from our last firewood purchase…..if it’s hardwood which this was, you need to lift the bundles to find the lightest ones. Lighter means dryer. We’ll let you know how those worked out for us. It might not be a bad idea to stock up again before we head to The Keys.

When we arrived back with our treasure trove of goodies, it must have taken about 2 hours to put everything away. As I’ve mentioned before, as nice as it is to have the freezer, fridge and pantry restocked, it’s also quite a challenge in finding space for everything. Thank goodness for our bathroom cabinets as they always serve as spillover storage from the kitchen on these big shopping days.

Now for a little Valentine’s no frills celebration. After pulling out a few tried and true binder worthy recipes, we decided, for starters on our Blue Cheese/Onion on crostini appetizer. This has always been a hit with friends and family. It’s basically a bed of caramelized onions, then topped with sherry, blue cheese and pecans, spread on garlic glazed crostini. Paired with a delicious bottle of bubbly, it’s the perfect pre-dinner concoction. Yum! 😋Now for the main course and side dishes. We had picked up 2 Ahi Tuna steaks at Costco and prepared them with pickled cucumbers and a garnish sauce made with ginger, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, a tinge of honey and garlic. The Ahi gets a breading of panko then seared on high, 1 minute per side. While Jeff worked on that dish, I prepared a jasmine brown rice dish. I always cook the rice first in chicken or veggie broth, set aside, then in a separate pan, sauteed garlic, onion and ginger before wilting a little spinach in with it. After the brown rice is added, there’s a pinch of salt, pepper and one of our favorite spices….Harissa thrown in the mix. Oh, and don’t forget the toasted pine nuts. Are you hungry yet? The final side dish was the thinnest asparagus we’ve ever found, this bunch was from Trader Joes. All that’s needed is a light coating of olive oil, pepper and salt, then garnished with a little parmesan cheese before heading to the oven.

Everything turned out delicious. And what could be better than pairing it with a great find from today…...a bottle of Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir called Oregon Territory. Since pinot's should not age long, we thought this was a find with the age that it was and its 92 Wine Spectator rating. In fact, we probably should have nabbed more. Only $15/bottle.

During dinner, we had so much fun reminiscing a full range of topics…...COVID hitting at what was supposed to be the start of our trip, but instead moving in temporarily with my mom for 3 or 4 months which as it turned out was a win-win for all of us. We were able to help her out during this difficult time, and she gave us somewhere to stay after the sale of our home. And it was the perfect place to put the finishing touches into our trip. We just remember what a crazy time it was back in March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone was hypersensitive, everyone hunkered down at home, barely making trips to grocery stores or gas stations. Everything was shut down with no one knowing what the heck had just hit us all. After things calmed down a bit, it came our time to depart, almost in disbelief that we were actually making this thing happen, after nearly 3 years in the making. It was 2017 when we decided we were going to sell the house and move out of state. We knew we had to get out of California to surrender all of our obligations. It just became too expensive to live there, as beautiful and amazing as it was, it had served its purpose. Our children were raised in an amazing community with amazing friends. Hannah had already been out on her own, and it was time to give Shane the little nudge that he actually embraced quite well. It was time to move on to the next chapter. And what better way to find our next suitable abode then to travel the country to figure it out.

From there, we talked about the fabulous trips we have shared together over the years with our greatest accomplishment….summiting Mt. Whitney after 22 days and 210 miles of hiking the JMT (John Muir Trail). We were so fortunate to have a month off from our work, to make this bucket list item a reality. This RV trip definitely scores at the top with all that we have seen and learned along the way. Never would I have imagined seeing all we’ve seen and learned all we have in these short 7 months. What was once intimidating and far fetched of an idea, has become quite simply….reality and a way of life for us (at least for now). What stories we will be able to tell one day!

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