Friday, March 25, 2011

Free Range Friday...remarks, reports and recipe

Let's start off with the serious stuff! Because if there is one thing I like to do, it is to get the serious stuff out of the way and let the fun stuff roll! Especially if you are one of those with Lenten persuasion, in which case your fun factor may be dipping down into the red zone about now.

This is from Pam and Chuck, concerning being prepared for fires, of which we've had four good ones so far in just the last week.

Time to Prepare
It's the dry time of year and the season for fires.  On January 22, 2007 Chuck and I were 
spending the night on the "Big Island". We received a phone call from our friend, Al, informing us of 
fire #3 on our hill above Fulladoza Bay. Since 1998 we and our neighbors have experienced 2 other 
frightening fires.  I was quite excited and worried, but Chuck assured me that we were prepared. 
And, you can be too.
  1. Keep all grasses cut very low, the fire will seek out fuel to burn the high grass areas.
  2. Build stone walls wherever you can.  They don't need to be very high.  
    Cut grass on both sides for insurance.
  3. Trim growth near your home, and trim trees to inhibit the fire from jumping 
    from tree to tree.
  4. Have your hose attached and ready for use with a working nozzle.
We returned from the "Big Island" to find our home safe as you can see from the picture. 
The time to prepare is now - not when you hear the crackling flames and smell the smoke.
Pam Schreiner

And while what Pam has to say is all valid, well and good, a picture really is worth a thousand words here you go.

That's pretty damned dramatic to me, as to the effectiveness of cleared land and stone walls. 
I was up there helping to fight that fire. It was terrifically frightening. It came right up to the 
very edges of Kim's house and was so intense, it melted her shower curtain. I watched friends get 
way too close, fighting to save their homes and finally having to leave it to our amazing firemen, not 
knowing for hours whether they would have a home to return to or not. It's dry. It's windy. It's 
that time of year. Do the smart thing. I don't want to read or write about you later on.

Ok, NEXT!!

Because I have a big meal planned for this week, and haven't been doing much in the cooking 
department, I thought I'd share this recipe that sounds so good that my mouth was literally 
watering reading it. It is inspired by the fact that I just ordered (and quickly received) five fresh 
vanilla beans from a finca over on the big island. Thank you, Suzanne!! Supplies are limited but if you
are interested, you can contact Suzanne at   You can also peruse the 
website; there is a lot more than vanilla beans! Suzanne also puts out a great weather update.

Homemade Kahlua (adapted from Dana's Homemade Kahlua)


4 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar 
6 tablespoons instant espresso coffee (Cafe Bustelo is a great choice)
2 vanilla beans, slit open
1 bottle vodka (brandy or rum can be used, but tradionally, vodka it is)


Boil water, sugar, coffee
Simmer for 2 hours (stirring frequently) 
Let cool and add vanilla and vodka
Bottle, cap tightly and store in a cool, dark place. 

One month is a good aging time (but if you can't wait, I understand)

Some other things to do with fresh vanilla beans.

Vanilla extract - for the price of a bottle of vodka or white rum and your beans, you can make a lot 
more extract than that little bottle from the sstore that lasts for years, tastes better and is 
YOUR product! 

Vanilla sugar - stick one split bean into a tightly sealed container of sugar. In a week or so, you 
should have a lovely vanilla sugar. It's addictive, beware

Of course, any time you use vanilla extract, you can use vanilla beans! Buen provecho!

Always, unexpected, I got another Full o' Fun Surprise box from my brother yesterday (great day 
for mail!) Along with LED lamps that plug into phone sockets, Mardi Gras or St. Patrick day beads, 
screw drivers, a trivet that looks like one I had in 1968 - and a lot more - were packages of 
vegetable seeds from Thailand.

This one for lettuce is my favorite (the ones talking 
about planting after monsoons were good too).

On the way home from the PO, I saw some 
white cheeked pintail ducks. 
They are so beautiful - this one put on a show at 
just the right moment.

Enjoy the day! Keep your eyes open, 

you never know what you might see next.

p.s. The format of today's post is all wacky, but after many attempts to make it right, I am just
going to live with it and hope you can too!


  1. Wow - that picture of P&C's, Kim's and Ann's houses is just amazing. I'd forgotten how close that fire came to them and their neighbors. Trim, trim, trim and be alert!!

    and I love the flasher picture.

    and I'm so glad to hear that Jonny's getting back to NC

    and shall we call you Grace?

    (I know I'm behind. Life. . .)

  2. Yes, you may call me Grace...hey, it might help! Jonny made it to NC in fine shape, thankfully! Thanks on that. Ah, life, it does keep on, doesn't it? Go well!