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Steak in Cast Iron Skillet With Peppercorn Sauce

Steak in Cast Iron Skillet With Peppercorn Sauce

Steak is one of the few things I can guarantee every person in my house will enjoy.  Here’s my favorite easy method you can do anytime, no grill required… You will need a seasoned cast iron skillet large enough to hold the steak flat, a…

The Florida Aquarium and the American Victory Ship

The Florida Aquarium and the American Victory Ship

Back in January, we took a day to visit the Florida Aquarium in Tampa because we are all about aquariums…seriously, we go to every one we possibly can, including the ones here in Oklahoma, which are obviously few and far between… Our visit coincided with a…

Backyard Birdbath Deicer

Backyard Birdbath Deicer

Birdbath deicer House of IngramsDo you enjoy watching birds in your yard?  One of the very best things you can have is a birdbath.  Water is vital for birds all year round.  What do you do when it’s freezing outside?  You could bundle up every hour or two and run outside with some hot water in a kettle and pour it into your birdbath…or you could get a deicer for your birdbath and stay cozy indoors.

This post contains affiliate links.  See my full disclosure here.  

Here’s my birthday present this year!  We have a birdbath in our backyard and with our temperatures going and staying below freezing so much, we really need a heater to keep the water liquid for them.  Birds don’t get in the water and splash around when it’s super cold, but they always need water to drink.  It’s especially important around here this year, where we are in a full-on drought.

The K & H Pet Products Ice Eliminator Original Birdbath Deicer

My husband found this on Amazon and I think it’s pretty well designed.  A few years ago we had a different heater and it had lots of ridges that made it very difficult to clean.  This is smooth, and you can even sand it and spray paint it to match your bird bath.  I elected to leave mine natural, as our bird bath is light colored.  And I’m lazy.

It has a thermostat so it doesn’t run when the temperature is above freezing and has a 3 year from purchase warranty.  That’s really good since birdbath heaters in my experience only last a season or two.  It uses just 50 watts of power so it’s energy efficient.  It has a short 18-inch cord so you will need to get a good outdoor extension cord and plug into an outdoor outlet, ideally one that is GFI just to be extra safe.  You should probably also wrap your connection with some electrical tape or use a weatherproofing connection.

woodpecker deiced birdbath House of Ingrams

So far our temps have gone down to the low 20s and there was a ring of ice around the edge of the bath but liquid water in the center.  The result, happy birds this morning.  Happy me, because I don’t have to run out and refill with warm water.   This is a win-win!

woodpecker deiced birdbath House of Ingrams

I will update this product review as needed.  So far, I am really happy with this deicer.

The Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Have you ever heard of the Great Backyard Bird Count? It’s February and almost time for the 2018 Great Backyard Bird Count! This year it goes from February 16 through 19.  Started by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audobon Society in 1998, this…

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

While in Florida we visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  If you have small children, you have probably seen this place in the Dolphin Tales movies.  It was all new to us.  This is a wildlife rehabilitation center that rescues and releases marine animals.  There are…

St. Petersburg Mural Tour

St. Petersburg Mural Tour

 

 

In early January we went on a family vacation in Florida.  One of the highlights of our visit was a walking tour to see just a few of the murals in downtown St. Petersburg.  A good friend of mine from high school lives in St. Pete and when she found out we would be in town she set up this great tour for us.

St Pete mural tour

The tour company is called Tour St. Pete.  They offer group and private walking tours.  There are a few different options, so check out their page and see what sounds good to you.  Their website has a slideshow with lots of fun pictures.  We enjoyed the mural tour.  Greg, our tour guide, is extremely knowledgeable about the murals and the artists who create them.  I believe he said there are something like 400 murals at this point, and they add some every year.  I definitely want to go back and do the Sunshine City Tour, which is about the history of St. Pete, and would love to take another mural tour sometime.

Our friend and her family came along with us and we had a great time catching up while we checked out the amazing art.

St. Pete mural tour

St. Pete Mural Tour Cat

No one will ever mistake me for a photographer, so try to imagine how great these murals look in person based on my not so amazing photos…

Peacock mural St. Pete tour

 

St. Pete mural tour

St. Pete mural tour

Up close you can see all the layers of color the artist used to build the final product…with spray paint, ya’ll!

St. Pete Mural Tour

The obligatory “run from your imminent destruction” shot!  Note the end of an old “Coca Cola” ad they incorporated into the mural.

St Pete Mural Tour

 

St. Pete mural tour payphones

We also found some old payphones!

St Pete Mural Tour

This one is stunning in person, look closely at the different textures going on within the shapes.

These are just a few of the murals we were able to see.  I highly recommend you visit and go on the tour if you get the chance.  As with any walking tour, dress sensibly for the weather, wear good walking shoes, put on that sunscreen and hat, pack along some water, and don’t forget your camera!

This tour was on a Sunday afternoon, and SpaceX was going to launch a rocket at 8pm CST that night…we finished the tour and set off across the state of Florida toward Cape Kennedy…but that’s another post.

Many thanks to my friend Stephanie, her family, and Greg from Tour St. Pete!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Turkey Pot Pie Soup (Low Carb and Keto Friendly)

Turkey Pot Pie Soup (Low Carb and Keto Friendly)

Do you still have some post-holiday turkey lurking in your freezer?  Here’s a tasty way to use it up.  Back in the day, I would have made a fabulous turkey pot pie using a Pillsbury pie crust…but our new way of eating doesn’t call for…

DIY Peanut Butter Bird “Suet”

DIY Peanut Butter Bird “Suet”

    It’s winter in Oklahoma.  We had a long very warm fall but the bottom dropped out in late December.  It is flat COLD today and it’s not going to warm up for a while.  I have filled our bird feeders with black oil sunflower…

Simple Bone Broth in Electric Roaster

Simple Bone Broth in Electric Roaster

Bone Broth made in an Electric Roaster

 

Bone Broth

Making bone broth isn’t a new thing, but here’s my latest version.  One of the problems I have had in the past is keeping the broth simmering but not boiling for several hours.  I have made broth in the slow cooker a few times and it works pretty well, but your volume is limited by the size of the cooker.

I picked up a shiny red electric roaster this past November after I found out I had three turkeys to cook for various events.  It worked great for the turkeys, and I got to thinking…this has precise temperature control and holds a LOT.  Why not see how some bone broth comes out?

Electric Roaster
Oster Electric Roaster

My bone broth is very simple.  I don’t add vegetables or anything but a little apple cider vinegar and some kosher salt. (Note, in the picture below there is a rack under the bones.  Mistakes were made…don’t use a rack.)

I put about 5 pounds of beef soup bones in the cooker and roasted at 400 for about an hour.  Mine went in frozen so I added a little time.  If yours aren’t frozen, adjust accordingly.  Browned is great, black not so much.

I turned down the heat to about 150.  I then added 2 gallons of cold water and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.  I let this sit for an hour to let the acid from the vinegar begin to pull minerals from the bones.  Then I turned it up to about 250 and covered.  I let it go for about 48 hours.  I will NOT add any more water.  If it is more than a bare simmer, I turn down the heat.  Generally, right around 200 or under is where I keep the temperature.  Check every so often to make sure things are going well.

Evaporation is not a bad thing here unless you start to boil dry.  Reducing the volume of fluid will concentrate the flavor of your final broth.  This time I went 48 hours and ended up with right around a gallon of broth.

After 24 to 48 hours, strain your broth using a fine sieve.  There will probably be a lot of fat on top.  If you place in a nonreactive container and cool in the fridge the fat will solidify on top and you can lift it off.  Discard or save to use for cooking, or make some nice cold weather bird food.  Don’t put it in freezer bags until it is completely cool; they always seem to leak when you put in warm or hot liquids.  I like to cool overnight in the fridge and then place in labeled quart freezer bags, then place on large baking sheets in the freezer to freeze flat.  They store better that way.

Gelled Bone Broth
Gelled Bone Broth

If things went well, your cooled broth will gel, just like Jello.  It is basically meat jello, because your long slow cooking process extracted the natural gelatin and collagen from the beef bones.  If it didn’t gel, don’t worry!  It’s still good bone broth and fantastic for soups or what have you.  You will need to add salt and pepper to taste (I like to add a generous amount of Lawry’s Seasoning).

Bone Broth

Simple Bone Broth

An easy way to make a lot of bone broth in an electric roaster.

Servings 16

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds grass fed beef bones
  • 2 gallons filtered cold water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat electric oven to 400 degrees.  Place bones in an electric roaster and cook for one hour or until browned.  Reduce temperature to 150 degrees.  Add water, vinegar, and salt.  Let sit for one hour.  Raise temperature to 250 degrees and cover.  Bring to boil and adjust heat to keep at a low simmer.  Cook for at least 6 and up to 48 hours.  The volume will reduce by quite a bit.  Watch to make sure it doesn't get too low.  Let cool a bit then remove bones and strain broth through a fine sieve.  Place in a non-reactive container and refrigerate until cooled.  Remove fat from the top.  Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or place in freezer bags or containers to freeze.  

  2. You will need to add salt and pepper to taste.  Lawry's seasoning is excellent.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Color for the Dining Room

New Color for the Dining Room

Our house was built in 1983.  The very first thing we did after we closed on it back in 2004 was rip out the old brown cut pile carpet in the living and dining rooms (yes, carpet in the dining room, it’s an eighties thing).…