Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Family Fun

In the South, October tends to be such a beautiful time of the year.  Our weather is a little cooler, without being cold.  Our typically green forests change to a lovely blend of autumnal shades.  Our weekends are packed full of activities for family fun.  During this season of harvest, I am reminded to thank God for all our blessings.  What a way to begin the season of thanksgiving! 

Lots of kids stopped by our trick-or-trunk for candy at the Harvest Festival.  Fellow Parrot Head parents wanted to sit and enjoy!

We had a truckload of fun during our trip to Paradise Pumpkin Patch!

These two picked a pumpkin from the patch.  I can't believe they agreed on the SAME pumpkin!

For maybe 5-7 days in the fall, our sugar maple is glorious in color.  Since it was grown from a northern seed source but lives in the south, it changes colors quickly and then throws its leaves off, all in less than one week.  We enjoy it while we can!

Happy Fall, y'all!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Camping and Cooking

During the recent five hour drive to our mid-October camping destination, I pored over my October 2011 Southern Living.  While I enjoyed reading about how to decorate my house for Halloween (I already have the spider webs so I am well on my way!), the recipes piqued my interest the most.  From Quick-Fix Suppers to Fix-and-Freeze Soups, my grocery list grew longer the more I read! 

Ben and Georgia-Lee dancing before Friday night’s dinner on our camping trip.

We give thumbs up to both recipes I tried once we returned from camping – Chicken Enchiladas and Chicken-Andouille Sausage Gumbo with Roasted Potatoes.  We started Monday night with Chicken Enchiladas.  Since it called for two cups of cooked chicken, Ben boiled the chicken for me before I ever got home from kid afternoon activities; perfect timing.

In keeping with my new promise to self (declared on our camping trip!) to use my cast iron skillet whenever possible, I sautéed onions and red bell pepper in the seasoned black cookware.  I transferred the hot onions and bell pepper to a glass bowl to combine with the cooked chicken, green chiles, and cheese.  Instead of grabbing the recommended saucepan as the recipe stated, I continued using the cast iron skillet to make the yummy enchilada sauce.  Fresh chicken stock was still on the stovetop from where Ben cooked the chicken.  Next time I cook this recipe, I will probably make one and one-half the amount of sauce; it was really delicious and the rolled wraps could have used a bit more.  Cleanup was relatively quick and our meal was so tasty.  We added a side of refried beans to be healthy!  Refer to the recipe at

Guess who got a stomach virus late Friday night during our camping trip?  I was actually feeling "better" when this picture was taken.

After our Tuesday afternoon activities, I made Chicken-Andouille Gumbo with Roasted Potatoes.  Instead of the cast iron skillet, I chose to cook everything in our cast iron pot, starting with the andouille sausage.  The sausage cooked quickly in the hot iron; the kitchen smelled fantastic!  Because of the potential spiciness of andouille and since the kids would be eating it, I added only ½ pound of sausage.  After it cooked in the pot, I continued using the pot and following the recipe on amounts.  Stirring the roux is a challenge; this time was only my second attempt at roux.  Something about the constant stirring seemed to take away the stress of the day.  It is true that you really cannot leave it; stick with it or it will stick to the skillet! 

Keep stirring the roux or it will stick to your skillet!

After it was the appropriate color, I added chicken broth and cooked chicken (reserved from Monday night); easy!  Amazing how delicious the gumbo tasted served over the roasted potatoes.  With “a piece of French bread with which to wipe my bowl” (Jimmy Buffet's I Will Play for Gumbo), our meal was filling and so yummy.  We had enough remaining to freeze for another night.  When we have it the second time, I may toss shrimp in to cook with it just prior to serving.  Find the recipe online at: 

Getting ready for Saturday night's dinner on our campout!

Oh, our camping trip – in spite of me being sick for most of our camping trip, I count the weekend as an overall success.  I survived; Georgia-Lee slept in a tent.  Ben entertained the kids while I was sick.  They had a great time swimming, fishing, and hanging out together!  And I cannot wait to read and see what wonderful recipes await in my November 2011 Southern Living! 
Everyone was all smiles on Sunday before breaking camp! 


Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The stack of 28 recycled egg crates stand as testimony to the fact that Benjamin wanted chickens for nearly two years.  Finally, after much begging, anticipation, planning, and preparation, he was happy with the seven laying hens and three small pet chickens packed into the large dog crate in the back of our Tahoe.  The sounds and smells coming from the cargo made me wonder what we were doing!

Labor Day weekend, we visited Ben’s brother Ken, Melissa, and their family.  Our kids get along great and love hanging out with their cousins. 

Georgia-Lee LOVES her cousins!  Ben teases the girls and calls them "chickens."

And it is always nice to visit with Ken and Melissa.  Being with them makes me feel younger!  Ben relaxes and smiles a lot more when he spends time with his brother.  It was during our trip to Concord to see them that we acquired chickens.

“I have wanted chickens ever since the first time I saw Mr. Gene’s chickens,” Benjamin said.  “I thought Mr. Gene was so cool!  He had lots of chickens and pens; I figured he could do just about anything.  And I wanted to be like him.”  So for about two years, Benjamin begged for chickens. 

Mr. Gene Garner holds a little Serama chicken.  He sent this one home with us.  Her name is Brown Sugar, or Sugar for short.  She is the sweetest little thing!

Benjamin claimed he would take care of them and promised to clean their pen.  He read books and researched online about chickens.  From the looks of the growing stack of egg crates gathering in my laundry room, Benjamin also had grandeur dreams of gathering eggs and selling them to make money.  Being a good mom, I supported his plans.  Having chickens was surely a good idea, right?  After all, we live in a rural area.  As parents, Ben and I should give our children the opportunity to enjoy benefits of rural life; chickens sounded like one of those benefits!

Mr. Gene and the boys - Nicholas, Benjamin, and Mr. Gene's rooster

Three weeks later, our ten feathered friends occupy a specially modified dog pen and have pecked their way into our daily routine.  Before and after school, the kids can be found walking around with a fowl (or even two!) in their arms.  Ben and I enjoy late afternoon cocktails while watching the chickens.  Without wanting to count my chickens before they hatch, I would have to say, so far, this chicken thing is working out pretty well! 

Benjamin gets comfortable while holding one of the larger hens. 

Georgia-Lee enjoys holding Sugar.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Divers Down!

Tonight for dinner we enjoyed scallops we gathered from our annual scalloping trip to Dekle Beach with the Hornsbys.  I must admit, the scallops were divine!
Just last month we traveled to the grassy flats of Florida’s Big Bend to go scalloping.  Since 2006, we spend a few days with the Hornsbys gathering the bivalve mollusks.  Scallops seem to like the shallow (4-10 feet) seagrass beds common to the Big Bend area, particularly preferring the area where the sand/mud bottom meets the edge of the grasses.  Amazing that with a swim mask, a snorkel, and a small mesh bag, one can gather and collect these tasty, sweet jewels of the sea! 

Ben and Benjamin scalloping in 2006.

Even after five years of scalloping, the experience still excites me yet makes me a little nervous.  Just under the sea, it is a quiet other-world.  Creatures move and swim in a silent style.  (It is the sharks I cannot help but consider; will someone play that “Jaws” theme song as they approach!?!!)  Searching and finding the scallops with their many neon blue eyes is fun for both children and adults. 
If you have never scalloped, give it a try!  Scalloping season lasts an extra two weeks this year, closing on September 25, 2011.  Divers down!   

In 2007, Georgia-Lee shows two scallops.

More About Dekle Beach
Dekle Beach, in Taylor County, Florida, is a popular scalloping destination.  With very little development, striking views, and an old world Florida feel, it is easy to see why.  However, the small community with beautiful views hides a deeply-felt tragedy   The No Name Storm of 1993 struck Dekle without warning.  Hurricane-force wind gusts and 12’ storm surges followed by low temperatures and inches of unusual snow claimed the lives of ten people in Dekle.  This Storm of the Century forever changed Dekle.  Even now, even among the beauty and peacefulness, there is something slightly sad about the community.  

Three years ago, a resident told me about a lady that clung to a palm tree with her baby for hours throughout the night, gripping tightly as wild waves crashed beneath her.  During the early morning hours, it started to snow.  As morning broke, the lady could hold on no more and fell to her death.  In my morning runs, there is one spot where I can nearly picture the woman clinging to the palm; it has an especially melancholy feel. 

Crabby Creek at sunset

In spite of its tragic past, Dekle pulls and tugs on one's coastal heartstrings.  Ben loves the area, the fishing, the views; I think he actually relaxes at Dekle.  Benjamin spends hours exploring Crabby Creek, the canals, and the long dock with Gus.  Georgia-Lee follows Hannah, just happy to be there.  

I could have eaten another plateful of rice and scallops – mmm!

Ben’s Favorite Rice with Scallops
1/3 cup butter
2 T chopped green onions
¼ t garlic powder
2 T lemon juice
2 T dry white wine
1/8 t dried dillweed
4 dashes hot sauce
1 pound fresh bay scallops
Crawford rice or white rice
Lemon slices

Melt butter in a large skillet; add onions, stirring until tender.  Add garlic powder, lemon juice, wine, dillweekd, and hot sauce; heat until bubbly.  Reduce heat to medium; add scallops.  Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes or until scallops turn white.  Serve over hot rice or Crawford rice.  Garnish with lemon slices. 

2011 Scallopers

In 2006, scallopers take a break to read a few books.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Savoring Summer

Summer is still here, even if school has started!  I wrote this post about summer on July 25, 2011, but forgot to post!    

Swinging back and forth in the hammock, I soaked in summer.  Just after , I picked the garden.  As the summer garden ages, plant yields change.  I gathered a basket full of tomatoes, a few cucumbers, okra, a couple of squash, and banana peppers. 

I LOVE picking the garden!  Ben plants it; I reap what he sowed! 

After picking, I wasn’t quite ready to go inside.  I wanted to stay outside, linger just a little longer.  With eyes closed, I heard sounds of summer.  Crickets chirped, singing in harmony as night fell.  Mosquitoes trilled in my ears.  From across the yard, the hammer beat, beat, beat and the saw occasionally buzzed as Ben and Benjamin worked to finish the chicken coop.  They listened to the radio; occasionally, a familiar line or two from a country song drifted my way.  Georgia-Lee chatted and played dolls, pretending and making her Loving Family come to life with the unused boards and other building materials near the coop.  It had been a good day, starting with Sunday school and church, followed by lunch.  Early afternoon consisted of visiting grandma and cousins and later repotting plants.  A summer dinner of fish tacos and fresh homemade salsa while the sun went down allowed us time to go back outside.  Since the sun dipped below the horizon, temperatures were comfortable, even if the Alabama humidity was not.  Wanting to remember the contented feeling I felt, I savored summer for a few stolen moments in our hammock hidden in the trees.

Fresh Summer Salsa

1 c chopped Vidalia onion
3 c chopped fresh tomatoes, peeled
1 c chopped green bell peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t salt
½ t black pepper
1/3 c chopped cilantro
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, minced

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir to blend.  Keep refrigerated. 

This recipe comes from the 1993 Cooking on the Plains cookbook by my sorority at Auburn University, Kappa Alpha Theta.  We served fresh summer salsa over fish tacos – yum!

Too funny not to share!  Meet Squishy Squash (right), Cutie Cucumber (back left), and Gordy.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Last Snapper of the Season

A couple of weeks ago, we squeezed in a quick trip to the Forgotten Coast to fish and enjoy the un-crowded beaches.  I could seriously entertain thoughts of moving to that part of Florida.  From Mexico Beach to Port St. Joe, Indian Pass to Apalachicola, something about that area really pulls on me!  Surely, part of that stems from the fact that my dad and granddad loved fishing the Forgotten Coast.  (Daddy liked Bay City Lodge in Apalachicola; his brother Brownie Parkman runs a guide service out of Bay City.  Their daddy fished the Dead Lakes of Wewahitchka.)    

We found all the supplies we needed at Mexico Beach Marina before heading out the pass.  We mostly trolled and fished public reefs just off Mexico Beach.  The Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association actively places new reefs in the gulf waters in addition to maintaining the existing ones; they do a great job promoting sport fishing opportunities.  Everyone caught fish – either snapper or king mackerel.  On Saturday, we swam in the waters off St. Joe Beach; Sunday we swam at Mexico Beach.  The raw oysters at Regan’s Oyster Bar tasted delicious.  A fast trip but still so wonderful to enjoy hours on the coast!       

Daily limit for snapper are two per person per day.  Good thing we all like to fish! 

Gulf Red Snapper season closed July 18, 2011.  Since it is federally monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service, the season closed on the same date in all Gulf of Mexico waters.  We didn’t know it, but the last snapper we caught during our weekend jaunt would also be our last snapper of the season! 

Benjamin sure was pleased with his catch!  It just happened to be the last snapper we caught during the 2011 Gulf Red Snapper Season!

Snapper can be cooked A LOT of different ways.  We cook it in fish tacos, fried, baked, grilled, and stuffed.  Since we have been eating it at least three times a week lately, our snapper recipes run the gamut! 

We enjoyed “fancy” stuffed red snapper last week along with several garden fresh sides.  Georgia-Lee and Benjamin prepared a beautiful outdoor table setting under the oak tree for dinner. 

Our official menu (Benjamin fixed a menu board!) included stuffed red snapper, fried okra, sautéed squash, sliced tomatoes, and bread.  Cool cucumber water was our drink.  (I read how delicious it was supposed to be; we all drank it but thought it tasted like watery pickle juice!) 

Pumpkin and Max joined us too – they were hopeful for any crumbs that might come their way!  We lapped up our dessert of vanilla ice cream with fresh Fort Valley, Georgia, peaches from Uncle J.B. Bush.      

    Love those Georgia peaches!

Stuffed Red Snapper

4-6 Red Snapper fillets
3 parts breadcrumbs
1 part parmesan cheese, grated
Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning

In a bowl, stir together equal breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and enough mayonnaise to make a thick paste.  Cut fillets in half.  Place half of fillets in greased glass baking dish.  Season and stuff with breadcrumb mixture.  Place thin pat of butter on top of stuffing; cover with remaining fish fillet halves.  Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes.  Just before serving, squeeze fresh lemon over fillets.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Paddling Spring Creek

With 18 kayaks and canoes, our group of nearly 30 individuals enthusiastically prepared for launch on Spring Creek.  Coolers, sunscreen, life jackets, and kids scattered across the landing.  Hot July temperatures and ever-present gnats encouraged everyone to load vessels with a purpose.  Three sets of Registers, the Hornsbys, and the Smiths were ready for our Spring Creek paddle!    

Since 2001, we have traveled to see Angie and Payne Hornsby at their Lake Seminole cabin during the Independence Day holiday.  We have watched our kids fish, swim, play, laugh, and grow in this beautiful outdoor setting.  In recent years, we kayak and canoe Southwest Georgia’s Spring Creek, which flows into the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers at Lake Seminole.  The trip down the spring-fed creek is fun for all ages!

Shelly Marshall Schmidt, of Oh Schmidt Productions, snapped this happy photo of the girls.

Originating from natural springs, Spring Creek travels through Clay, Calhoun, Early, Miller, Decatur, and Seminole Counties.  Covering 530,000 acres of land in Southwest Georgia, the free-flowing Spring Creek watershed is part of the Flint River watershed.  The creek waters run clear because of the limestone bottoms and cool because it is spring-fed.  Longleaf pines, cypress, and various hardwood trees grow and shade the banks of the creek.

Paddling Spring Creek

Through the crystal clear waters, we saw bream, bass, and gizzard shad.  In some places, large trees lay strewn across the limestone bottom; they are visible reminders of the old sawmill located up the creek.  Many years ago, timber was hauled to the mill on the creek.  Add the rope swings, 20 foot wooden docks, and gorgeous springs; there are lots of things to see and do along the way.

Benjamin readies himself for the jump into the cold spring.  We could see clear to the bottom of the hole, at least 30 feet or more deep!  Thanks, Shelly, for the photo.
By the time we stopped for lunch, everyone was starving!  Lunch turned out to be a trip highlight.  The single sandwich I fixed early that morning went too quickly.  What really looked appetizing was the corn on the cob.  Yep, corn on the cob, still in the shucks!  While some of us fixed sandwiches, Brinson Register was up early boiling an entire crate of just picked, locally grown sweet corn.  Several hours later, the corn was still warm; it looked and smelled delicious.  Brinson and his sweet wife Libby even remembered butter and salt, as if it needed anything to make it taste better!    

Aww shucks!  Aren't these corn eaters cute?

Brinson’s Spring Creek Paddle Sweet Corn
Get a big pot of water; set stovetop temperature to high.  Once water comes to a rolling boil, drop in fresh ears of corn, still in the shucks.  Allow corn to boil for 10 minutes.  Remove from water.  Pack together in cooler to keep warm.  Shuck and eat when ready.  Serve with butter and salt on the side. 
Packaging is environmentally friendly! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, America!

Happy Birthday, America!  We have much for which to be thankful on Independence Day.  In celebration of this special day, we visited with family and friends across the land – well, at least parts of south Georgia and our corner of Alabama!

Our patriotic weekend began at the Fort Mitchell National Cemetery.  The cemetery reminds visitors that many individuals serve our country during their lifetime; it is a visible and meaningful representation of service to our country.  During our visit on Friday, July 1, 2011, we paid last respects to my uncle, Peter Soukup.  Uncle Pete was married to my dad’s oldest sister Frances Parkman Soukup for more than 50 years and was father to five of my first cousins.  He served the United States of America with his military service, retiring as Colonel.  The site of the American flag draped over this former soldier’s casket was poignant.  In spite of temperatures in the upper 90s, chill bumps covered my arms during the 21-gun salute and playing of Taps.

Going on now for a decade, an annual Independence Day tradition includes a trip to see the Hornsbys in South Georgia.  Angie and Payne Hornsby host us at their comfortable lake house on the Spring Creek branch of Lake Seminole.  Look for an upcoming post dedicated to our kayak trip down Spring Creek.

Hornsby and Smith kids at Lake Seminole

After leaving Lake Seminole, we drove to Lake Eufaula to see Mammy.  Of course, we miss Papa being there.  He sure loved all the food and fixings that comes along with the 4th of July – barbeque, corn, potato salad, Brunswick stew, and more!  We visited with Mammy and ate lots of delicious food.

Mammy, Ben, and the kids at Lake Eufaula
We wrapped up our weekend in Parkmanville at Mama Ann’s house.  She fixed a family favorite – homemade ice cream!  So cool and creamy, we were all ready to enjoy a big bowl.  The ice cream recipe originated from my mom's mom, Georgia Pharris Dudley; we called her Mama Georgia.  The ice cream is easy to prepare and is a staple recipe for summer get-togethers.

Mama Georgia’s Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 cans condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla
  • milk, 2% or whole (Mama Georgia used whole milk; Ann uses 2%.)
Beat eggs.  Add condensed milk.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour into ice cream canister; add milk to the “fill line" of ice cream canister.  Place in ice cream maker; pack with ice cream salt and ice.  Ice cream is ready when motor stops turning ice cream canister. 

Mama Ann enjoys homemade ice cream with the kids.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It Takes a Village

They must have been a young couple, in a hurry to find a home.  The spot they selected wasn’t exactly in the best of locations, if you know what I mean.  They put things together rapidly in order to prepare for their little ones, who would obviously be arriving soon.  The old saying “the wolf was at the door” was very close to the truth for this pair.  In spite of the problems that could easily be foreseen by outside bystanders, the couple forged ahead.  They showed teamwork, communicated well (although sometimes I thought she sounded a little chiding), and made a good solid effort to keep their home and their young brood together.  All in all, I completely enjoyed watching their daily activities.

When I heard Ben yelling instructions at the dog and both kids, I knew immediately that something was wrong.  Georgia-Lee quickly moved Max to a secured location; his canine curiosity was definitely piqued.  Benjamin ran to get the tallest ladder we owned.  Before I knew it, he climbed the ladder 15 feet into the maple tree and placed the squawking baby mockingbird back into its nest.  A nearby nest mate didn’t fair as well.  Both Mama Mockingbird and Daddy Mockingbird seemed none too pleased with the order of the morning.  I breathed a sigh of relief once the baby was back in the nest, sure that the world was now at peace.

Morning excitement as Benjamin places Baby Mockingbird back into its nest.

Within 45 minutes or so, just before we were scheduled to leave home for several hours, we once again spotted the baby bird on the ground under its nest.  When we looked up at the nest in the maple tree, we saw a gaping hole in the bottom side of the nest.  What could we do?  Due to time constraints, we were forced to leave the little bird on the ground.  Mama Mockingbird and Daddy Mockingbird watched and chirped.

Baby Mockingbird looks a little unhappy about a second fall from the nest.

The nest remained quiet and still when we returned home.  The ground beneath the tree revealed no baby bird.  The attentive young couple was nowhere to be seen.  We released Max from his captivity.  Georgia-Lee and her friend braved the heat of the day, playing on the tire swing and talking beneath the shade of the oaks.  With great excitement, they yelled that they found a baby bird.  Sure enough, more than 100 feet from where it fell from its nest, the baby sat on the ground, beak open and squawking.  Georgia-Lee quickly confirmed that it was our much beloved Baby Mockingbird, especially since both parents were watching (and fussing) nearby. 

Concerned parent

As a little boy, Benjamin always claimed he wanted to be a veterinarian.  When he carefully repaired the nest and gently placed Baby Mockingbird inside of it (for a second time in one day), he certainly was getting on the job training!  Not long after human commotion subsided, Mama Mockingbird and Daddy Mockingbird returned to the scene.  They showed up, showering their little one with attention and with food (much like many of us Southerners do when something is wrong with someone for whom we care!).  

One of the parents rests on a branch of the maple before moving into the nest, hidden in the branches and leaves.

I have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child.  I also know that natural selection removes the weakest from nature.  I hope that in this case, we are the village.    

Monday, June 27, 2011

Love You, Daddy!

Last week, June 20, was Father's Day.  I feel so blessed to have grown up in a family with both my Daddy and my Mama.  And for the past 11 years, I sure have missed my daddy!          

I have always loved this picture.  Both Daddy and I look so happy!  It was taken in the late afternoon, spring or summer, maybe 1989 or 1990.  Daddy was probably just getting home from work, as he was standing beside his Chevy truck.  He always liked Chevrolets; therefore, so did I.  I had been cleaning my car, a 1969 Camaro, which I really liked.  In the background, you can see his big ol' John Deere tractor.  Mama really captured it all in this photo!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Season Opener Snapper

The morning dawned calm and beautiful.  Within no time, the condo at Navy Cove was bustling with activity.  We donned swimwear, savved up with sunscreen, gathered snacks, filled water bottles, and grabbed the camera.  Getting ready for Alabama's opening day of red snapper fishing with the family definitely requires proper planning!

Looking at the Navy Cove Lagoon, it is a beautiful morning for a fishing trip!

For two long years, Ben has had plenty of time to plan this fishing trip.  He has been tying rigs, reading fishing forums, confirming coordinates, and checking the weather for the past few weeks.  Snapper fishing season in Alabama opened June 1, 2011, and Ben was determined to be ready.  Last year, he was equally prepared for opening day.  There was nothing he could do though about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the fact that federal waters were closed to fishing the eve of red snapper season in 2010.  Anyway, waters were open and we had a beautiful forecast this year - calm seas and an eager group of fishermen!

Not long after we anchored the boat and floated just off the rig, Ben got our lines into the 65' foot waters.  If Ben was a deckhand on a charter boat, he would have really earned his tip on this trip!  During the next 80-90 minutes at the rig, we caught our limit of snapper.  He was constantly taking big snapper off the line, cutting fish for chum, tying leaders, fixing weights, and hooking pogies.  Looking around occasionally at the five or six other boats fishing the rig, it seemed we were the only ones catching!  Georgia-Lee reeled in her two, I reeled in mine, and Benjamin handled his and probably Ben's too.  I really hope Ben enjoyed the fishing trip as much as the rest of us did!

Benjamin and Ben smile for a quick photo before getting the snapper in the cooler.  Notice how much Georgia-Lee is enjoying the fishing trip snacks!

Check out the big one that Georgia-Lee reeled in!

On the way back to Navy Cove, we stopped by the Dock Store at the Gulf Shores Marina for ice cream and Coke.  I am pretty sure that the promise of the treat afterwards might have been what lured Georgia-Lee to go on the fishing trip!  :) 

What a sweet reward!  American Girl Lanie enjoyed the fishing trip too!

Later in the evening, we ate fresh snapper for dinner.  Dinner was delicious, definitely worth repeating.

Season Opener Snapper

4-6 Gulf Coast red snapper fillets
1/2 stick butter
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1/3 cup crushed Saltine crackers
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon Zatarain’s Creole seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt

·        Melt butter, add Creole seasoning, salt, and Vidalia onions.  Allow seasons to blend and onions to become tender. 
·        Combine crushed saltines and grated parmesan cheese.
·        Spray glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Place snapper fillets in dish; brush with buttery sauce.  Cover fillets with saltine/cheese mixture.  Spoon the remaining butter sauce and onions over the covered fillets. 
·        Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until fillets flake. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Salt Life

A full week of beaching, fishing, and staying on the lovely Gulf Coast is a great sandy privilege.  For our family vacation this year, we returned to Navy Cove in Fort Morgan, Alabama.  We discovered Navy Cove back in 2006, the first summer Ben owned the Champion and the first summer since Hurricane Ivan ravaged the Alabama coastline.  We found Navy Cove to be the perfect vacation spot for our family and my sportsman husband.  Sure, the dedicated boat slip, bay access, proximity to the pass, fishcleaning stations, opportunities to catch shrimp, mullet, and more from the dock are all great things.  In addition to all of that, the condos are nice, the pools refreshing, the beach close, and the sunsets AMAZING!

Beautiful sunsets and smiles on these Smith kids!

Our fourth family vacation at Navy Cove didn't disappoint.  The weather all week was perfect - upper 80s, lower 90s, with a slight breeze most days on the beach.  Beachbumming was fun and plenty relaxing.  Fishing proved successful (check back for a future post on snapper fishing) and delicious - we ate fresh mullet, snapper, redfish, and/or trout every day!  We enjoyed our time together as a family - we enjoyed the Alabama salt life!    

Georgia-Lee works on the beach bum she and Ben created seaside.

Mobile Bay offers a bounty of activities; one of Benjamin's favorites is casting his net at dusk.  He caught shrimp, mullet, pogies, and more this trip.

Working on clean plates, the crew enjoy Ben's fried mullet, sweet potato fries, and Vidalia onion rings on the balcony.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Parkmanville Pile-In

Cousins + Summer = GREAT!
Thanks for the great photo of the kids at the creek, Laura!

Last weekend, my sister Jill visited from Starkville, Mississippi.  She and I haven't seen each other since the half marathon in April.  Benjamin hasn't seen her kids since before Thanksgiving!  They haven't been to Ann's in several months.  Needless to say, everyone was excited that they were coming to Parkmanville for a long weekend.  Combined with the fact that it was the first weekend since the last day of school, my kids figured life doesn't get any better! 

The boys spent Friday evening wading and swimming in the gravel pit.  A number of years ago, when the land where Ann lives belonged to my grandfather Richard Lewis Parkman, the county "borrowed" gravel from the site.  A pond now exists in the shallow pit; we've called the pond the "gravel pit" since I was a little girl.  We walked a pretty good piece from Ann's house, down the dirt road, around the horse pasture, past the 10-year old planted pines, and through the food plot to get there.  Jill and I talked the entire time.  It doesn't seem that long ago since she and I were the same age as our kids, wanting to do the same type of things.  (Well, at least I did - I was such a tomboy.  I am not sure Jill really wanted to do these things when we were little.  Turns out, Jill was blessed with boys so she gets to do these things now, whether she wants to or not!)

Wading into the gravel pit, captured in photo by Jill

On Saturday, we spent the day at Callaway Gardens.  The Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, and Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden may never be the same!  We packed a picnic lunch as well as a lot of activities into our time at Callaway.  More fun was had at Ann's upon returning to Parkmanville.

"We promise to behave in church - just let us sit together!" begged Ann's grandsons.

All Ann's daughters and grandkids joined her for church at Crawford Baptist Church on Sunday.  (Brother Steve Williamson preached a really good sermon!)  We went back to her house for lunch and spent the afternoon on the Uchee Creek, which weaves its way through the lower part of her place.  Later, we sat in the swing in the shade of the wrap-around porch - it's one of my favorite ways to spend time at her house.   

Ann, her girls, and the grandkids on her porch
Super job getting so many smiles, Joseph!