Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What 18 Day of Rain Does for the Garden

It has been a very wet spring and early summer here in Jersey. Last I heard we have had 18 days of rain straight here in Ocean County. The sad part of that news is that I haven't been to the beach much. This past Sunday was a beautiful beach day though and Christine and I headed up there after church. The weather was beautiful, but the water was not great. There was a green algae bloom, the result of all the run off from the overflowing bay. That is kind of unusual for the Jersey Shore, because contrary to popular belief, excellent coastal water quality is one of the high priorities for our state. However, the result of all the rain was healthy vegetation in waters and the same has been true of the my garden.

We put lots of sweat equity into the garden this year and lots of compost, and it already starting to pay off. Here are a couple of photos of early garden results.

Fresh Sugar Snap Peas in abundance. We had them along side a nice chili that Christine cooked up along with a fresh arugula and leaf lettuce salad fresh picked from the garden.

Raspberries and blackberries galore.

The flowers love the rain. One of my hybrid day lilies.

Well, my chore for the day is to do the July bills. After that I have some church reading to do. It looks like another fine beach day, so I am headed out before supper, then I plan to grill a nice London broil for a supper on the deck.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Breakfast at Shut Up and Eat

Yesterday, Christine and I had a lovely breakfast at an interesting little joint called "Shut Up and Eat". Like the majority of restaurants in Northern Ocean County, "Shut Up and Eat" is located in a strip mall. Their strip mall is the K-Mart Plaza on route 37 in Toms River. The restaurant is a quirky little place. The theme is Mom's cluttered kitchen table--a decorating style that might be called "tacky chic" There is a diner counter that folk eat at, as well an eclectically furnished dining room. Nearly every inch of the wall are with pictures, photos, plaques, etc. The tables are set with mismatched thrift store mugs, dishes and salt and pepper shakers. The servers dress in pajamas and there is a standing special that gives you a 13% discount on your meal if you show up pajamas.

We had a nice breakfast that we constructed out of the breakfast specials that were posted on the door. I had two eggs over easy, hash browns, rye toast and coffee with a side of corn beef hash. The coffee was fresh, hot and full of flavor. The eggs were cooked just the way I like them. The hash browns were crunchy with a bit of a peppery kick. The star for me of my meal was the corn beef hash. It was homemade, with big chunks of corn beef, green peppers, potatoes and onions. Yum. Christien had the silver dollar with a side of bacon special. The bacon was nothing special, but the silver dollar pancakes were light and tender. What really impressed me about her meal was the the pancakes were served with a bottle of real maple syrup. Now that is something to write home about. What was especially exciting about breakfast at "Shut Up and Eat" was the bill. We got out of there for under $10. I really don't know when the last time was that I had such a nice breakfast for such a small amount of money.

"Shut Up and Eat" is trying to get themselves on Diners, Dives and Drive-ins and they are asking everyone to send an email to Guy Fieri about the place. If you live in the area or are on Rt 37 on your way to the beach, be sure to stop for breakfast at "Shut Up and Eat."

Shut Up And Eat - K-Mart Shopping Center, 213 Route 37 East, Toms River. 732.349.4544.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bria's Sweet Sixteen Cupcake Tower

My family celebrated my youngest daughter's sweet sixteen. I am feeling old. Bria wanted a special cake for the occasion and we brainstormed all kinds of ideas and finally decided to make cupcake tower. It came out pretty great. Her sister and her boyfriend spent a couple days before the event making cupcakes. They made carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing, devil's food cupcake with Mary Steven' famous white icing, chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with fudgey chocalte icing, and my favorite, german chocolate cupcakes with pecan coconut icing.

Instead of buying the cupcake stand from the craft store, we build our own. It was pretty easy. In this picture you get a better idea of the structure.

We took 3 different size Wilton cardboard cake trays and the top was a plastic wilton cake tray, created styrofoam columns by gluing together styrofoam discs and covering them with ribbon. Then we glued them to the bottom of the top three trays. We glued a large styrofoam disc to the bottom tray and glued a dowel to the center of that disc. Finally we connected the tower together by pushing the dowel through the center of all three top trays. It really worked out well and was quite inexpensive. The great thing is that is breaks down for easy storage. The top of the tower was supposed to be topped by a fondant covered topsy truvy cake, but the heat that day caused us to have an "Ace of Cakes" moment so we had to improvise.

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