Maggy Button: Vacation to-do’s, but first the pool
V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N -- in the summertime, as the song from the 1960s says. (Oops, there I go dating myself again!)
It’s a stay-cation, which I don’t mind. My son, David, and I went to Jamaica over Christmas and we are saving our money for a trip to Arizona this fall.
As I write this, it’s 6:30 Tuesday morning and I’m sure Features Editor Lindsey Hollenbaugh will be tearing her hair out because I have, once again, blown deadline. As my coffee mug at work says, "Deadline? What deadline?"
I’m sitting on the deck with a tall glass of iced Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and except for a few neighbors driving down the street on their way to work, everything is quiet. The birds are singing and the neighborhood dogs, for once, are fairly quiet. There’s a gentle breeze blowing the leaves on the trees and -- wait a minute -- was that a rooster crowing on the next street over? The meteorologists are calling for a hot, muggy day in the low 90s and I can’t wait.
Last week, I made a list of about 50 things I wanted, or needed, to do this week. There are only a few marked off. I did vacuum the floors and put Miracle-Gro on all the plants. I did go to the pool store and have the water tested to see how far off David and I were. Kim, the woman at the pool store, told me how much she used to enjoy my husband coming in because the water was perfect every time. She then confirmed, as I had suspected, there was no chlorine or pH registering in the water. I dumped five pounds of baking soda, a bag of shock, a chlorine tablet in the filter basket and one in the floating chlorine holder. I go back today to have the water tested again. I’m not holding out any hope Š
Our yellow Lab, Sassy, has been living up to the retriever part of her breed and wants to be in the pool retrieving her decoy all day. She doesn’t get that all I want to do is lay on a float and drift around the pool, lost in my thoughts or reading a book. (OK, and doing a little snoozing, if the truth must be told.) My friend, Nancy, calls this Zen swimming and posted on Facebook Sunday that she and I were at Button Beach. She and her husband recently moved around the corner and down the street from me.
I also spent some time shopping -- which I really don’t like, but find unavoidable. Even though my part-time job is at a supermarket, I don’t like grocery shopping. Monday night was the first night in a long time that neither David or I had to work our second jobs and were both home for supper, so I splurged a little and went to the market for sirloin tips, "new" potatoes, as Mom called them, and some vanilla ice cream and fresh blueberries.
I also went to the dollar store to see what I couldn’t live without. I came out with beer/soda can coozies that you freeze before putting a can in them, a water dish for Sassy when she’s on the deck, stick cookies that David likes and, of course, because of my spice fetish, a new bottle of parsley flakes. And speaking of herbs, my oregano and basil in the garden are growing like Jack’s beanstalk! Now if David could only remember where he planted the chives so they don’t keep getting weed-whacked down Š
I’ve been procrastinating on my to-do list in favor of reading on the house deck (the couch is comfy for a nap, too) and in the pool. I just finished Janet Evanovich’s "Takedown Twenty" and noticed when I bought it the other day that she has published "Top Secret Twenty-One," which I’ll hold off on until it comes out in paperback. I just started "Crunch Time" by Diane Mott Davidson, which is about a chef/caterer who solves murders. Best of all, recipes mentioned in the book are included at the end of it. I also have a date with Carl Hiassen’s "Star Island" later this week. Not to mention the 30 or so magazines stacked up all over the house.
My list for today includes getting the dog’s nails clipped (I also tried Saturday and Monday), getting the oil changed on my car, vacuuming the pool (which ought to be a lot of fun because I’ve rarely done it alone. Goodbye prime on the pump, it was good to know you Š) and laundry and dusting. Oh, who am I kidding? The car will get done because I have an appointment, I’ll get the pool water tested and the dog’s nails trimmed. After that, it’s all about water meditation.
I ran across a recipe for peach tarts that I want to try once it cools down a little. You can make your own pie dough, but as I’ve confessed before, my pie dough is awful, so I’ll be using store-bought! I also want to try it using an apple, cored and halved.
For each tart, cut a 5 1Ž2-inch round of pie crust and press it into a muffin pan cup. Place a pitted peach half, peeled or unpeeled, cut-side up and top with a thin slice of butter and a sprinkle of sugar. (I’m thinking a sprinkle of cinnamon, too. Top with a 3 1Ž2-inch round of dough and crimp the top and bottom crusts together. Pierce the tops with a knife, brush on beaten egg and a sprinkle of sugar. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, about 35 minutes.
I came across this great meat marinade when I was looking for a recipe the other day. We used to use it when we tailgated. I’ll just have to get some Guinness and make it again!
Makes 1 Cup
4 ounces Guinness Stout Beer at room temperature
1 ounce soy sauce
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon minced vidalia onion
1 teaspoon shallots
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1Ž4 teaspoon fresh tarragon
1Ž4 teaspoon parsley
1Ž8 teaspoon black pepper
1Ž8 teaspoon salt
Finely chop garlic, shallot, onion, parsley and tarragon. Combine chopped ingredients with remaining ingredients and mix. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before marinating meat. Marinade meat (pork chops, burgers, steaks, etc.) for at least 2 hours.
Refrigerate remaining marinade, and use to baste meat while cooking, or reduce over medium-low heat for a finishing sauce.