Appetizer Failure. Or, was it?

I frequently post pictures and descriptions of the food I cook. Pizzas, Fish. Steaks. Casseroles. Turkey on the grill. Looks good and I get compliments, especially on Facebook. So, it is only fair that I post a food failure.

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This is the cheesy bread that I attempted to make, looking into the trash can. It is a recipe that I learned and often purchased when I was a professor at Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, (1989-1993). I would go over to the student center cafeteria for lunch and order a salad and some cheesy bread. It was so delicious. Makes a great appetizer too.

This attempt was a failure because I accidently removed the cap of the seasoning instead of popping the lid to shake some on the cheese-onion-mayo mixture.

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I screwed that cap off without thinking and poured a whole bunch of salt and pepper blend onto my cheese mixture. Damn.

Well, thinking I at least need to finish the appetizer and give my effort a taste test. Maybe it was not too much. I soon learned that was not the case. I took one bite. The whole batch of cheese mix and the three appetizers immediately went into the trash where it belonged. Now, off to the grocery store to replenish supplies.

IMG_20230122_151534407_HDR_2If properly done, it is grated cheese, finely chopped onion, mayo, with a little salt and pepper, spread on French or Italian bread, and a quick broil in the oven to melt the cheese.  It’s delicious. Not willing to admit defeat, and to learn from this experience, I tried it again the next day to accompany a bowl of chili. The cheesy bread was outstanding. Chili too.

The appetizer is best if the bread is slightly toasted before topping it with the cheesy mix. You get a better crunch when taking a bite.

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Pop it into the oven under the broiler. Keep an eye on it. It does not take long for the cheesy mix to start bubbling. Wait for just that right amount of browning.

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Take it out of the oven. It should look like this.

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Transfer to your plate and enjoy.

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Yum. That was oh-so good.

Failure is only a failure if one stops at that point. One failure can be a learning experience resulting in success. In other words, try, try again until you succeed.

See you on the highway … or maybe at the grocery store.

Brent

Rediscovering Your Own Backyard

Some people travel the world to learn or experience new cultures. Some travel to find themselves. Some never leave home. But like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz said, “There’s no place like home.”

There is nothing wrong with expanding one’s horizons. It is good for the soul and personal growth, but what about exploring one’s own backyard? For me, it started with a presentation at a fly fishing club dinner meeting with a topic that renewed my interest of “rediscovering” the Little Miami River near my home.

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The Little Miami Wild & Scenic River “has the distinction of being the first river in Ohio to be included in the National Wild & Scenic River System (1974), and the first to be added to the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program (1969).” Little Miami Conservancy.

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Alongside the river is the Little Miami Scenic Trail, a Rails-to-Trail route that is 78 miles long and connects with other recreational trails.

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I am sure that I am not alone in overlooking what is in my own backyard. We dream of places far away. Adventures into the unknown. Testing our limits. And yet, here is this incredible, river in my own backyard, and I want to know more about it. To enjoy its stream and the communities that it flows through. This is not a tall order, for it is truly in my backyard, just a hike down a hillside path through a nature preserve, or a quick drive down the road.

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One of my favorite motorcycling roads follows the river, and I am always on the lookout for river access to wet a line with one of my fly rods. This year, I am going to spend more time fishing the river, and visiting the communities along its banks. Places like Clifton, Ohio, where the river passes through a spectacular gorge, and one can visit the Historic Clifton Mill for a meal and to step back in time.  And then there is Yellow Springs, Xenia, Loveland and Milford, and others all ripe for exploration.

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Maybe, just maybe, I will finally use one of the river canoe and kayak companies to canoe down the river. To see the wildlife and the river from a different perspective.

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An incredible site to behold, even from the convenience of your home, is the Little Miami Conservancy Eagle Nest Cam. It is mesmerizing to see a pair of eagles build the nest, lay an egg or two and watch the chicks grow into maturity and then leave the nest after testing their wings. January is when it all begins.

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This nest can be seen from the road along the river where I wander. It’s huge and most visible when the trees are barren of their leaves, but you have to know where to look.

Even though I have lived near this river for nearly 16 years, there is so much more I want to learn and experience. It’s going to be a rediscovery of my own backyard.

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What’s in your backyard?

See you on the highway.

Brent

Donut Appreciation

Who doesn’t like a good donut or two, pastries included? In my opinion, there are two uses for donuts. First, they are a delightful treat often bringing joy as that doughy delight hits the tongue for a little self-satisfaction. Second, donuts and pastries can be a valuable relationship-building tool for the benefit of friendships. Stay with me on this one.

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I occasionally buy a coffee and donut for friends. It is a simple gesture to show appreciation for the friendship. I have also been known to show up with donuts at places of business that I frequent—mostly motorcycle shops. Also, very much appreciated. To me, it is appreciation for their friendship and for the work they do. The apple fritters seem to go over the best. My wife calls this act schmoozing, something she claims I do very well.

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We have contracted to build two homes during our 37-year marriage, and both times, I went the extra mile with showing appreciation to the builders. I would show up with a box of donuts while the house was being framed. Then the plumbers and electricians. The drywallers too. In all, I think I invested about $100 of donuts each for both houses, and I still claim those investments resulted in a better built house. Why? Because the craftsmen felt appreciated. They weren’t building just another house, they were building a home for the guy that shows up with donuts! The builder of our home in northern Indiana became my best friend, and I mean best friend that lasted until he passed several years ago, and I still miss him.

I am not the only one that thinks donuts have more capability than just a doughy delight. Donuts, like other food and beverage items, can be the focus for tourism. For example, take a look at what the shops in Butler County, Ohio did.

Want a donut? You have to have a coffee or tea with that, and that’s why Butler County in Southwest Ohio county created the Donut Trail. Visit all the shops, get them stamped on your “Donut Trail Passport” and you get a free t-shirt. Makes you want to wander through Ohio, doesn’t it.

So, the next time you think you want a donut, maybe you should think about buying a donut for a friend. Show a little appreciation. Don’t forget to use the tissues.

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See you on the highway … or maybe at a donut shop.

Brent

New Year, New Me?

I never make New Year resolutions. Really. New Year goals? Well not exactly. Is that a problem? Maybe, and here is what I am going to do about it.

It has been on my mind for some time. A couple of years maybe. Since I have semi-retired … let’s face the reality … fully retired, I have not done much writing or photography except for on Facebook and photography on Instagram. Why should I post my creative material on those social medias when I have my own? That question was driven home by an article posted on The Verge, and shared on FB by a good friend, Bring Back Personal Blogging.

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Getting ready to ride on the first day of the year.

This year, with the weather cooperating, I managed to get in my first ride of the year. January 1, 2023, I took the Moto Guzzi V85tt Adventure for a short ride. Proof is in the second photo, a photo I always wanted to capture.

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Welcome to Morrow! January 1, 1:12 p.m.

I have ridden past this sign many, many times, but it always seems to be in the afternoon when the sun is on the other side of the sign and the light is wrong. On this day, it was perfect, and my ride is documented by the date and time of the sign. “Welcome to Morrow” Ohio, a small town near my home. I suppose I can mark this item off my list of motorcycle ride photos.

So, I’m going to do a little more motorcycling this year including some long-distance travels. I’ll be writing about those.

Business-card-image-smI’m going to be writing about other things too, ideas that harken back to my earlier web site, Sojourn Chronicles. More photography, and especially Black & White photography. I love B&W. Nearly all of my documentary work was shot on B&W film, as was much of my newspaper work. Oh, those were the days. Now, it’s all digital for there is no dark room space here at the galactic headquarters.

The plan is more frequent posts right here. And, I’d like to get that frequency to weekly. Stay tuned.

See you on the highway.

Brent