Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tricks Were NO Treats

This Halloween 2012, Mother Nature played some VERY nasty Tricks along the U.Spumpkin swirl 102404. east coast, called “frankenstorm” Sandy.

She is definitely off the Treats list this year.

We are keeping those still affected by power outages and flooding in our thoughts and prayers — especially family and friends in our native New Jersey.

Update: We heard this morning that Beatrice’s mom is OK, but is still without power or phone service. She is staying at her son’s home, also in NJ.

Thanks for everyone’s well wishes. We continue to keep everyone’s safety in our thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Aftermath & Black Bean Soup

First, MANY THANKS to fellow bloggers and friends who have called and/or emailed to ask if we were OK during the megastorm called Sandy. We appreciated your concern and are OK, as are family members along the east coast; some in NJ lost power, which hopefully will be restored soon. We pray that you and yours fared well during the storm’s worst. Today’s forecast on the VA eastern shore is intermittent showers and light winds, thankfully.

1012 black bean soup (1)IF you were reading Grenville’s weather update posts yesterday, you know that our area, like most of the eastern U.S. was pummeled with relentless downpours and gusting winds. It was perfect soup weather, if you didn’t lose power OR have a gas stove (as we do).

1012 black bean soup (4)Black bean soup was on the menu with nasty weather outside The Frog & PenguINN. I’ve ordered it when dining out, but never made it. Best of all, it uses many of our favorite spices, ones starting with the letter “C” like cumin, coriander, cilantro, cayenne. And, while not a spice, chicken broth also coincidentally it also begins with “C.”

Black Bean Soup

  • 1 C dried black beans
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped
  • 7 C broth (low sodium chicken or beef or combo)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Scallions, chopped (optional)
  • Plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)

Sort through beans to discard any that don’t look good; then soak overnight in enough cold water to cover. Failing to do that, I followed a fast method on the bean package: sort, wash, add 3-4 cups of hot water, boil 2-3 minutes, then set aside for 1 hour before using.

  1. In a large, wide pot, sauté carrots, celery, and onions until softened (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add drained black beans, broth, spices and a bay leaf to pot.1012 black bean soup (6)
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered until beans are tender (about 1-1/2 to 2 hours), stirring occasionally.
  4. Discard bay leaf; use a food processor (or blender) to puree the soup, adding more broth as needed. Return to pot and reheat to serving temperature, adding salt to taste.

    Chop scallions and use as a garnish for individual servings. Top with plain yogurt or sour cream, if preferred.

1012 black bean soup (9)

Notes: Tried using the immersion blender, which had trouble pureeing the beans, so switched to food processor.

To spice up the flavor, I added a dash of cayenne pepper (not too much) and 1TBSP of chipotle seasoning.

Yield was two containers. One was frozen for another meal; the other is on tonight’s dinner menu to be enjoyed with a salad and Grenville’s homemade bread.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy By Starlight

What a great title for a song…. well maybe not. AND we have no starlight here tonight. BUT we do still have wind, and some rain, and most importantly ELECTRIC!!!!!!

At last look, Sandy was making landfall in Atlantic City. Word is that she got about a block or so in from the Boardwalk and got mugged!!!!! Shows she "Ain't no Jersey Girl".

If you are north or west of us you are in for a lot of wind and some rain. BUT mostly the wind at about 40 mph with some big gusts. If you live near the water you should be SOMEWHERE ELSE…. Hopefully you will make it through with no major problems like we did. You will all be in our thoughts.

With that we will say thank you again for all of your concerns and well wishes (even from the Pottie Room Grammy).

AND as C. C. Moore once wrote "Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!!!!!!!"


Sandy @ 2PM

Deteriorating is the best description of our conditions here. WESR is on Emerg. power, we have a long list of roads closed due to flooding. Power for the most part is still on all over the Peninsula. The towns of Saxis, Wachapreague, Chincoteague, and Locustville are closed due to flooding.  The list of roads closed is extensive. Sandy has made a turn and is heading toward the Jersey Coast.

We have been calling neighbors checking on them and all are hunkered down and safe. I found out that my rain collector is not the only one that gave up collecting due to the wind. Down the road, Possum Lane's quit also. 

These pics are borrowed from For more go to their website. 













Stats at 2PM in Onley:

Temp= 51.4 dropping

Baro= 976.2mb Dropping

Wind NW 33 mph gusting to 45 mph

Rain= 5.25" as measured at Accomac Airport.

According to our local forecaster, the best is yet to come this evening. County Emerg. Radio is getting busy with trees down, one on a structure with entrapment. Hopefully folks here are taking the advice from our "Heros" at WESR, Will and Charlie Russell, to stay where you are, stay off the roads, listen to WESR for updates.

For Beatrice and i, we are going to have our afternoon coffee, and get ready for some Pumpkin Soup, Fresh Italian Bread, and Salad.


More later

Sandy Update 1

Back again. Wind has seriously picked up. For a while i thought our rain collector had clogged with debris since it was telling me that it was NOT raining. So i trudged out to check.

IMG 0277

Turned out that the wind was blowing the rain SIDEWAYS!!!!!! and nothing was going into the collector. The rain is sort of light right now, but the wind is sustained at 15mph, gusting to 25mph.

Reports from our local radio station WESR 103.3 ( there is serious flooding on the seaside and the bayside. High tide on the bayside is still an hour away. AND County Emergency Radio is beginning to report wires down and transformer fires.

Here at the F&P we still have power, and Storm Activities are underway.


IMG 0275

   THe Pumpkin Pancakes were great. Princess Beatrice is hard at work on a pot of Black Bean Soup.

IMG 0274

  Latest stats

  Temp=52.2F falling

  Baro= 980.5 mb falling

  Wind= N-NW 17 Gust =25+

  Rain moderate, blowing sideways

IMG 0276

  Minor    flooding


Good morning all… Yes we are being visited by Sandy this morning. First i want to thank everyone who has contacted us about how we are doing. THe answer is "we are ok and waiting". So far we have cleared the yard, patio, porch and anything else i could think of.
Sandy Pics1
Yesterday we had the start of the rain about 11am. mostly light with a little wind. By evening we had received less than 2 inches of rain, gusts to 25mph. SOOOO we headed out to get some last minute supplies. Good thing, since our local Food Lion is closed today (Wally World is open trying to grab that last nickel floating down the road). As you would suspect, folks were grabbing the essentials. Bread, milk, water, Chef Boy"rdee. We picked up emergency Ice Cream!!!!!
Sandy Pics2
As you can see, not a can of Chef Boy R'dee "Sketty and meat balls" to be found.
This morning is another story though. Rain and wind started to pick up about midnight. We are only showing gusts to 25mph but the trees look like they are swaying at more. RAIN… we have  2.8 inches so far.  Temp  52f and dropping, Barometer 985mb and dropping. On the plus side, we are not experiencing flooding here at the F&P. Our usual joke about living in the Eastern Shore Mountains at 35 ft above sea level is a really important right now. Storm surge is predicted to be 8-10 feet on both the east and west side of the peninsula. This will eventually affect us since all of our storm water drains to the Seaside through Rat Trap Creek. When it backs up due to surge we feel it.
Local radio was giving a "one word" closing list…. EVERYTHING!!!!!! Well not everything. Shelters are open here for folks who are on the sea or baysides. Emergency services, power and phone, VDOT are all on duty, AND our great local radio station, WESR 103.3 FM, (Unpaid Plug) is on the air and owner Charlie Russell (Our Hero) is at the controls for the duration of the storm. Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is at a Level 4 restrictions (small cars only, but WHY would you want to be on it??????). Chincoteague Causeway is closed. On the plus side,,,, County Emergency Radio is quiet.
We will be experiencing the height of the storm sometime this afternoon or evening as Sandy passes us, and heads towards the Jersey Shore. From the radar we are watching (Weather Underground) the worst of Sandy is on the west side. For more updates you can go to, and type 23418 into the search box to connect directly to our weather station.
 BUT never fear, kitchen preparations are well under way. We have defrosted a nice container of Pumpkin soup, I made a new loaf of bread yesterday, and we have lots of salad stuff. This mornings Hurricane Breakfast will be 'Pumpkin Pancakes & Bacon". AND just in case we have extended problems, the Princess is whipping up a crockpot of Black Bean Soup while we still have power. Now you didn't really think you would get through a post without some food talk??????
Some warnings….. If you I've west of us get ready for wind and rain. If you are in the Blue Ridge you might even be getting some snow (I'm jealous). North of us, you are really in for a rough 24 hours. Wind, Rain, trees and wires down possibly.
More later as long as we have power and DSL connection.
Stay Safe all. Grenville

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Butterflies and Wildflowers

Our recent visit to the Natural Bridge included some other interesting sights, indoors and outdoors. A new exhibit there is billed as "Virginia's largest indoor, live butterfly garden." And, while we're not exactly sure of complete veracity of that statement, the exhibit was interesting. The exhibit advertising also claimed that there are "hundreds of these amazing creatures" in flight among tropical plants and trees. While, there were certainly a lot of them fluttering by, it didn't seem like many hundreds to us. But then we were not counting.


Unfortunately, there was no printed guide available to identify the ones we saw. The young lady who was minding the exhibit confessed to not knowing the what was featured there. That's probably just as well because I would not have been able to remember the names anyway.


The butterflies were flying around the exhibit and visitors had to be careful where they walked lest one end up under a shoe.

Blue Ridge wildflowers

On our walk to and from the Natural Bridge, we saw several varieties of wildflowers. These are just a few of the ones still in bloom.

My apologies to fellow bloggers at not catching up with your posts this week. As Grenville mentioned earlier, I am in NJ visiting my mom; unfortunately, there is no internet available in her neighborhood. My wi-fi access is available by trips to a nearby Panera or library where my time is limited, which makes it difficult to post and read blogs. I will resume blog reading and commenting (and doing a lot of catching up) when I return home this coming Sunday. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blue Ridge Sights without Colors

Our road trip through parts of VA Blue Ridge towns a couple of weeks ago was a lot of fun and we saw so many interesting things in numerous small towns and large cities. We also met several blogger friends, which was a special treat.

Blue Ridge colors

The only drawback was the lack of magnificent fall colors. We heard that autumn burst forth the week AFTER we had visited.

Blue Ridge Views

Still, we enjoyed seeing the famed Blue Ridge Mountains. Driving along parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stopped at every scenic overview.

Blue Ridge Farms

And. of course, there's always the next time to (hopefully) catch some fall colors.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge

mabrey mill

One of the most popular attractions on the Blue Ridge Parkway is located only a mile north of Meadows of Dan at milepost 176.2 (U.S. Highway 58) on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, Virginia.  Mabry Mill was a working water and grist mill in the community until the 1920s, and was remodeled by the National Park Service. It now serves as the highlight of an easy Mountain Industries Trail, with live demonstrations of early mountain crafts. Unfortunately, the late afternoon we visited, there were no demonstrations being held, but we took a self-guided tour through the buildings around the restored mill and buildings representing rural Appalachian life; none were open to look inside.

mill buildings

Mabry Mill was built by Edwin Boston Mabry when he returned to Floyd County in 1903. Edwin Mabrey was one of the fifth generation of Mabrys to live in the same part of Virginia.It started as blacksmith and wheelwright shop, then became a sawmill. By 1905, it was in operation as a gristmill. By 1910, the front part of the mill was completed and included a lathe for turning out wheel hubs, a tongue and groove lathe, a planer and a jig-saw. Between 1905 and 1914, Mabry bought adjacent tracts of land to where the mill is today, mostly to acquire more water power. 

The mill has been called one of the most photographed views in the U.S. The entire area is a major tourist attraction mainly for the picturesque views of the mill itself. A short trail around the mill connects historical exhibits about life in rural Virginia. The trail allows visitors to view the gristmill, sawmill, and blacksmith shop.During peak seasons, demonstrations of crafts are given by National Park Service volunteers at Mabry Mill.

Mabry Mill2

Visitors can see live exhibits, a real mill and a working miller to demonstrate the milling process. The grounds of the mill include other interpretive media all designed to tell about mountain industry. The Matthews Cabin is an example of mountain architecture and workmanship and offers a look into the tanning and shoemaking crafts. There is also a whiskey still, a sorghum mill and a working blacksmith shop. Maybe on the next visit, we will be able to see some of these demonstrations.

mabrey mill3

Meanwhile, a fellow VA blogger, Diane, also recently visited the mill and captured some of the demonstrations and events in several post; check out her blog, Dish to see them. 

Barn Door Update!!!!!

Most of you know that the Princess is away this week, but her loyal Frog has been busy. Remember the Barn Extension Project????

1 0926 barn doors1

Well this past week has been hanging the sliding doors. I always liked the way barns looked with the doors that slide open and closed on a track. BUT the way our barn and the extension are laid out i couldn't hang them so they would open in the middle. They had to slide past each other like on a closet opening. Sounds easy right????? Well not so fast there pard'ner!!!!!! The rails you use on a barn are a lot heavier, and 10 feet long. The doors are 4 ft. by 7 ft. and take two people to move around. AND theses doors have to be through bolted to the track hardware. BUT the Princess held up her end of the doors magnanimously. 

After numerous adjustments and major tweaks with the SawZall, they finally slide like they were designed too. I believe the Louisiana term for this is "Slides slicker then bog scum on a wet door knob". Next (this has been my Sunday and Monday project) was to pretty the whole thing up with some paint and trim. I was having so much fun (insert large dose of sarcasm here) i not only painted the new extension, but most of the old barn section too. Amazing what a gallon of "Red Barn" paint will do.

Barn Doors

Lastly was painting and installing the trim. AND again i was having such a grand time (snicker, snicker) i repainted the trim on the old section of the barn too. This last picture is from late this afternoon.

IMG 0259

Hopefully the Princess is reading this and sees the finished project. All we need now are the Alpaca's……..

Tomorrow i get to start scraping and painting the train station we are working on. What fun!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Buchanan & Clifton Forge, VA

One of the things that we enjoy most about road trips is the ability to not only visit small towns along the route, but also to walk the main streets. Our road trip through the VA Blue Ridge included many small towns like Buchanan and Clifton Forge.


Buchanan is nestled within the slopes of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. It's an example of “small town America” and one of the reasons we enjoy seeing these towns. The town has several notable buildings include the Buchanan Theatre, which is Botetourt Country's oldest thanking theatre. Its exterior features include art deco concrete details on the facade, a neon sign, and a free standing ticket booth. Concerts are still Ransomesregularly held here. 

Buchanan's downtown, which is also the main street, is home to specialty and antique shops and art galleries. It's also a popular destination for history buffs who visit the town's four Virginia Civil War Trail markers. And a visit to Ransomes is like stepping back in time where you can lunch at a 1950s era soda fountain and grill and also get a prescription filled at the pharmacy that's housed in the same building. It's also home to the Buchanan Swinging Bridge. 

Clifton Forge

Clifton Forge is part of the Roanoke Region. The Jackson River flows through the town, which was once known as Jackson's River Station. The area is renowned for its mountain views and clear streams; Clifton Forge is home to Douthat State Park, one of the original six state parks of Virginia, built during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt's by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The town has a rich railroad heritage with the first passenger train arriving in Clifton Forge in 1857. Clifton Forge developed with the railroad industry and became a major maintenance facility for steam locomotives of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O) now CSX. The town was a virtual boomtown during the heyday of the railroad when the C&O employed nearly 2,000 people who lived within the area.

But, the advent of the diesel engine in the early 1950s brought many changes to the town when the C&O Railroad located its maintenance diesel shops inC&O museum West Virginia. Many of the jobs formerly located in Clifton Forge were transferred to the new facility. The Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society, Inc. has its museum here which we also toured.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chicken, Peppers & Onions + Pasta Florentine

When we’re at home, chicken thighs-peppers (2)we cook a lot cause home-cooked is much better than when we’re traveling and always eating out. Our little garden is still producing and we have more peppers than needed just for salad fixings, so it was time to find a new recipe.

This recipe is really easy and used items readily available in the freezer and pantry.

And, not only was it so easy, but prepared in a single pot that could go from the stovetop to the oven with leftovers for a second dinner.

Baked Chicken with Peppers & Onions

  • 5-6 chicken legs & thighs, skin removed (used only thighs)
  • 1C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2-3 large green, red or yellow peppers, sliced
  • ¼ C white wine (used cooking wine)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp basil
  • 5-6 medium potatoes, quartered (left these out)

Heat oven to 350 F.

  1. Brown chicken in olive oil and then remove.
  2. Add chicken broth and simmer. Place pepper, onion and chicken thighs-peppers (5)potatoes (if using) in large baking pan, then add chicken.
  3. Pour liquid over chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano and basil.
  4. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees uncovered.

chicken thighs-peppers (1)Serve with your choice of rice. Ours was served with a side of wild rice and a salad.


Here’s the second night’s dinner which used leftover peppers and onions and cut-up chicken. This recipe can also be made without leftovers.

Pasta Florentine

Or how to use leftovers in a second meal . . .

Preheated oven to 350 degrees. Cooked some colorful spinach bowtie pasta. While pasta was cooking, heated tomato sauce and defrosted a package of frozen spinach (could alsopasta florentine (2) sauté package of fresh spinach, if available).

Drained pasta, added peppers, onions, chicken, spinach and tomato sauce. Sprinkled with grated cheese; covered with grated mozzarella. Baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Another easy meal with leftovers for another dinner.pasta florentine (4)

Friday Funnies

Just wondering . . . WHY these are usually located ?power of suggestion1012 (1)Right near these ?power of suggestion1012 (2)




Power of Suggestion ?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Volunteers Welcome

Not, the human type of volunteer, but others here at the Frog & PenguINN — most unexpected, but VERY welcome.

First, there was the butternut squash vine that was voluntarilyIMG_5814 growing near the mulch pile. We made sure to avoid it when cutting the lawn for the past several weeks. Here’s the payoff, Grenville harvested 3 squash, some of which will be used in a roasted butternut squash soup this weekend. And, of course, a recipe post will follow.

asparagus1017Another surprise for the second time since our main spring crop ended was a regrowth of asparagus. While, the output is not enough for a side dish at dinner, it’s been wonderful in an asparagus-cheese breakfast omelet.

These marigolds are adding vibrant fall colors to the back patio. Last year, several marigolds1017 (2) were planted,  bloomed and were not replaced this spring. But, last year’s deadheaded blooms, which had been left in the pot reseeded. And, these didn’t bloom in full force until last week — just in time for the season.

ALSO, the warm mid-70s daytime temps here on the VA eastern shore are giving us an added bounty . . . tomatoes and peppers for evening salads.peppers-tomatoes
Broccoli, cauliflower, winter lettuce and herbs are also doing well.broccoli and more

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkin - Not Just for Pie

YES, it’s that time of year again, cooler fall weather and vibrant colors (soon here, we hope). And, it’s also soup time we well. I found this recipe in a Sunday newspaper after we made an emergency Dairy Queen stop on our way home Sunday afternoon. We needed a “treat”. That’s what Grenville told me. Yes, I believed him as chocolate was involved.pumpkin soup (1)

This pumpkin soup was on the F&P dinner menu last night with a wonderful chef salad made by Chef Grenville, of course.

All the soup ingredients were in our pantry (maybe in yours too). This recipe uses many of my favorite spices — which are ones starting with “C.”

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

  • 1 TBSP canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 C reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated fat-free milk
  • 6 TBSP plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • Parsley leaves for garnish
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over low for 30 seconds.
  2. Add onion and cook 3 minutes or until soft; add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  3. Stir in spices, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute, stirring.
  4. Whisk in broth and pumpkin. Bring just to a boil; reduce heatpumpkin soup (3) to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add milk and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Add a little more broth for a thinner soup.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with yogurt (if desired) and parsley. Add pepper to taste.pumpkin soup (5)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cheaper to Travel It Seems

We should get out more often, Grenville said, driving home from our week-long road trip through the VA Blue Ridge this weekend. Of course, he gets no disagreement from me.

It was really cheaper to travel AWAY from home.

When we left our VA eastern shore him, local prices averaged $3.69; when we returned they were $3.65 — not a significant change. 

BUT, on the 6-hour drive home, here's the range of gas prices — from the LOWS to the HIGHS and everywhere in between. Prices got higher, the closer we got to home.

1014 GAS costs1014 GAS costs11014 GAS costs2

GOOD NEWS is that we didn't pay ANY of those prices, but instead found this price . . .

IMG 3828

And, we wish we could have brought a supply home!