N is for New Orleans- #AtoZChallenge

“N” is for New Orleans, a city like no other. It’s one of my all time favorite places to visit. I first started going to New Orleans back in 1978-79.

I was in the Ocean Marine Technology Program at Brazosport College. It was a 2 year program where I would be able to earn my AB and QMED certificates from the Coast Guard. One of the things we had to do was to take fire-fighting training. We also had to take a ‘Spring Cruise”. We combined them and took a couple of boats up to Delgado Community College in New Orleans to take their fire-fighting course.

That’s me, 2nd from left, back row

I was 17 at the time and the youngest in class. We had a nice and easy trip up, the weather was fine and we all got to practice our celestial navigation skills. We all looked forward to seeing New Orleans and we were not disappointed. We all had a blast and will always remember getting underway bright and early after a late night out on Bourbon Street. 😉

I used to go home to Florida to visit family a couple of times a year and always stopped in New Orleans if I could. I liked to hang around the French Quarter and recharge my batteries for a day. Maybe longer if I met up with some ‘cool’ people. 😉

Years later, when I got older and had to slow down on the partying, I started to enjoy more of the city than Bourbon Street. I’ve gone for conferences, workshops and training, and layovers for traveling to and from work offshore. I always try to spend a little extra time just to relax and enjoy the city.

It’s so easy. New Orleans has it’s own special vibe. They say it’s got “soul”. Yeah, I agree. It feels sultry, hot and humid most of the time. It almost oozes history. You can see it in the architecture all over the French Quarter. It smells delicious. Chicory coffee, beignets, seafood gumbo, salty oysters, and boozy concoctions around Bourbon Street.

The food is amazing! Classic French, Creole, Cajun and all combinations thereof. Soul food, muffaletas, po-boys, fresh seafood, fine steaks, you can get all that and more. Some of the best cooks in the world call New Orleans home.

New Orleans is a city of music. Jazz, Cajun, Creole, Rock, Soul, Blues, it’s all there. All over the place. I love wandering around the French Quarter, finding musicians playing out in the streets. You can almost always find some around Jackson Square or Royal Street. Then there are the second line parades. It’s always fun to join in the party. Where else can you get that?

New Orleans has so many parades, parties and festivals. I love it! I wonder if I would ever get anything done if I actually lived there? 😉

M is for Monkey Bread- #AtoZChallenge

M” is for Monkey Bread! Yummmmmm!!

I tried this recipe last week. I had to make some adjustments since I didn’t have exactly what they called for. Also, since I am only cooking for myself now, I didn’t want to overload the place and wind up throwing most of it away. So, to start with, I cut their recipe in half. I only used 1 can of (Kroger brand) biscuits, and halved everything else except the walnuts and raisins (I like both of those things). 😉

Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Layers refrigerated Original biscuits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Steps

  • 1 Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  • 2 Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces.
  • 3 In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
  • 4 Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
I didn’t have a bundt pan (fluted tube pan), so I just used a round cake pan. It was just big enough to fit with the recipe cut in half. Mine may not look as good as theirs, but it still tasted wonderful and it made the whole house smell delicious for days. 🙂

Fishing: Istanbul

I saw this post come up in my Reader from the Daily Post, re: Fishing. I thought I should be able to come up with something. 😉

Here are a couple of photos from my recent trip to Turkey. The people around Istanbul love to go fishing all around the Bosphorus. I went one day to walk across the Galata Bridge, just to see what they were catching.

It was a beautiful day. I walked from my hotel near the Blue Mosque around Topkapi Palace and down to the waterfront. I watched the ferries come and go and the fishermen all along the quay. They were using bread as bait, and seemed to be doing pretty good.

I walked up to the bridge and crossed over on the lower level. It’s full of restaurants, famous for fish and seafood. I try to avoid seafood as much as possible, just because I’ve had to eat it day after day for months on end and never know when I might have to do that again. 😉

The waiters had no idea of my aversion, so they continued to call out. Trying to convince me to step up and try their specialty (looked like pretty much the same at all of them). I probably should have stopped to see what all the fuss was about. I’m sure a few must have wondered why I was hanging around if I didn’t like fish. I don’t like to eat them anymore, but I still do love to catch them (and I like to watch other people catch them too). 😉

On the way back, I crossed on the upper level. Between a gauntlet of fishermen casting their lines and masses of traffic- cars, trucks, busses, and pedestrians- crossing the bridge, it was an interesting experience. I was glad to get back down to land and away from the traffic.

I descended to a plaza, right next to the bridge. It was full of more fishermen lined up along the water and in between dozens of small barges, gaudily decorated in red and gold. All selling ‘belik-ekmek’ (fish sandwiches) and doing a brisk business.  Waiters dressed in ‘traditional’ Turkish costume, hustling with trays full of tiny cups full of coffee, tea and shalgam– the weird spicy sour drink thats specially for the fish.

I’m not sure what kind of fish they were catching (or selling), I didn’t actually eat any. Here’s a picture, does anybody know what kind they are?

Fishing: Zanzibar

I saw this post come up in my Reader from the Daily Post, re: Fishing. I thought I should be able to come up with something. 😉

Here are a couple of photos from my recent trip to Zanzibar. The fishing was fantastic there, even if they were using very old fashioned methods (hand lines and setting nets by hand).

However they managed, the results were fantastic!

Just A Quick Note

I would say I got up early this morning to fly to Cappadocia, but I never got a single minute of sleep last night. I was up til almost 3 am getting organized and then up at 0500, but never did actually fall asleep.

The driver was on time to pick me up at 0545, there was an accident on the way to the airport, but it didn’t delay us too long. I was checked in by 0640. The flight to Cappadocia was supposed to board at 0700 (it was actually a few minutes late).

They board with those damned busses instead of gates, so there’s a mad rush to get to the plane when they stop and let you off. I had a window seat but it was pretty cloudy for most of the way. It was a short flight (only about an hour), but I was nodding off most of the way.

I perked up over breakfast, and the sky cleared up as we neared Nevshahir (anyone know how to make the Turkish letters?).

The driver was waiting for me at the airport, but we had to wait for a few other passengers. Once we got to the travel agency’s main office, I had to wait some more for another group to show up. I was nodding off again.

We finally got on the road around 0930, which was pretty much on schedule.

It was a long day, full of interesting sights to see and things to do. Uchisar Castle, Goreme Open Air Museum, Cavusin village, Pasabag fairy chimneys, (lunch), Avanos pottery demonstration, Devrent Valley, Urgup fairy chimneys, and a carpet factory to top it all off!

I’ll have to give you the rest of the story tomorrow. I’m just too tired to go into it all tonight, and I have to get up early again tomorrow. They’re picking me up at 0530 for a balloon ride. 🙂

One thing I’ve learned since I got here. Don’t book any tours before you get here! It’s much cheaper here than in Istanbul. For example, I noticed a balloon tour posted for 240 TL, (around $80), when I was quoted $160 for the same thing in Istanbul!

I think that goes for the whole trip. I decided to do this on the spur of the moment, so I didn’t take any time to plan or research. I know I could have saved a ton of money by booking my flights, hotels and transfers myself. At least on the Istanbul side. It’s easy enough to take the metro from Sultanahmet to the airport. That saves a ton of money right there!

Hope you all have a good night, sleep well. I know I will. 🙂

County Fair- Contests!

This year I entered a contest at the Brazoria County Fair for the 1st time ever. I’ve been wanting to get involved for years, but I never managed to get ready in time. I was always busy working offshore, so I was never prepared when the time came.

This year, since I joined the Brazosport Art League, I got an email reminder in time to join in. I entered 3 pieces. I won prizes for 2 of them! I was really shocked when I got the call.

Sunset Arch- won 1st prize

Sunset Arch- won 1st prize

Leaves- won 2nd prize

Leaves- won 2nd prize

helped with the intake of art. Getting everyone’s information and helping to hang the art. I was really impressed with how so much of it was so good. One old guy brought in some ducks he had carved. They looked real. He said he spent a couple hundred hours on them, carving each feather, painting each detail. He won 1st prize in sculpture. He definitely deserved it! 🙂

I really enjoyed the whole event. Helping out, I got to meet so many interesting artists and learn about their work. I went to the awards ceremony and got to learn a little about how the judging worked. Afterwards, I spent the rest of the night at the fair.

It may be corny, but I still like to wander around and check out all the animals on show. I like to watch the rodeo. I like the greasy fried fair foods. Gimme a corn dog and a funnel cake or some fried Oreos and I’m happy. I don’t do the rides anymore, but I like to see how much fun people are having. Same with the games. I always like to listen to the bands and watch the dancing.

I missed my friend Chris’s band on Friday night. I was up in Houston with the Sail la Vie club on a dive bar tour. 🙂

I didn’t realize until I went to pick up my artwork that the fair was already over for this year. I hope I’ll be better prepared next year. I do want to enter the photography contest next year, and the fine arts again too. 🙂

red starfish

red starfish

PS- All my art is for sale. Photos, paintings, etc. If you like one of my photos, let me know. I can upload it to Society6 and have it put on t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, towels, clocks, pretty much anything. I’m entering another art show this weekend in Freeport. Sunset Sip. 🙂

Galatoire’s 33

Looking for a nearby place for lunch today, we wandered into this place after a couple of false starts. One of the ladies from the travel writing workshop was specifically looking for Galatoire’s and so we figured we would go ahead and try it out. It’s right around the corner from our hotel, at 209 Bourbon Street. Only took about 5 minutes to walk.

It’s definitely not my usual kind of place. I’m not one to enjoy spending big bucks on food and drinks. In fact, I much prefer the opposite end of the price scale. My favorite place to eat out at home is Chinatown where the all you can eat buffet is less than $15 including drink and tip!

I figured I might as well go ahead and try it since it really was a super deal. Looking at the normal prices where a ribeye goes for $44 and side of onion rings is $7, the fact that the entire lunch cost only $20 today was enough to convince me to give it a try.

The other ladies I was with both really enjoyed their meals. I’m not much for seafood (or creole/cajun either) so I was pretty much out of luck for the special. I sure wasn’t going to choose anything off the regular menu tho I definitely prefer steak over fish any day! I decided to try the ‘broiled drum casino’ in the spirit of exploration as a travel writer. 😉

The appetizer was ‘roasted beet risotto’. It was really very good. Not what I was expecting, but nice. It tasted more cheesy than anything else to me (might have been the truffle oil). I really couldn’t taste any beets at all.

The fish was very well done as well. I really liked the sauce. It was creamy and cheesy also. It tasted smokey and salty from the bacon. Very nice. The drum was cooked just right and tasted nice and fresh. I’m sure if I liked fish better, I would have just loved it. I did enjoy the broccoli. 🙂

I chose the Bananas Fosters Cobbler for dessert, it was excellent. Too bad by that time we were in a real rush to get back to the hotel before the next session started.

It’s not my kind of place, but I would recommend it if you’re out to impress. The service was excellent and so was the food. I thought the prices were sky high, but not out of line with similar restaurants.