Since my kids were small we've allowed them to choose their birthday dinners. Of course this usually included French fries, chicken nuggets, or pizza. As they became older they threw in a few surprises, switching out purchased pizza for my homemade pizza, or Italian beef sandwiches that I make in the crock pot.
My oldest turned 20 this summer and he asked for Jerk chicken and Caribbean rice. He'd eaten similar dishes at a small restaurant near the college he attends, and thought that would be a cool birthday meal. I agreed and the week before searched out recipes. I cheated on the Jerk chicken and bought seasoning at the store, rubbed it on boneless chicken breasts that my husband grilled. While looking for a rice dish, I came up with many recipes, and it wasn't easy to figure out what was authentic. I went with a simple recipe with ingredients I could find at the grocery store.
The rice recipe isn't really Caribbean, but rather Latin, and one website said it was Cuban, but originated in Spain. This is a shortcut version, using the canned beans. No matter where it's from it was delicious. I also sliced a mango and served it with the chicken and rice.
Rice and Black Beans
1 15-ounce can black beans (undrained)
1/4 cup Recaito
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups hot cooked white rice
Combine all ingredients, except the white rice, in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil. Lower heat, and allow to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or so.
Notes: I was out of cumin and didn't realize it, so I left it out. Yes, that probably made a huge difference but I loved the taste of the beans, and so did everyone else.
I found GOYA Recaito, which is basically what they are calling a "Cilantro cooking base" for rice, beans, soups, chili and stews. I'm going to try it in other dishes.
I used white extra long grain rice, and cooked it according to the directions. When the beans were heated I mixed them into the rice.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. ~John LubbockThe first day of summer in Michigan brought rose blooms. What's even more amazing is that it's almost the end of June and the Japanese Beetles are not invading my garden as they usually do this time of year.
This was a major fail on my part, and I was determined to nurture the last one. I moved it to a part of our landscape that would allow the rose to grow as big as its little heart desires. Rugosa roses are known for growing rapidly, and in some situations they are considered invasive. I've wanted to grow this variety for the rose hips, which are plentiful and large.
Every year the Japanese Beetles attack with a vengeance, and the bloom above is the first one I've had that isn't partially chewed. One year, over half the plant, which wasn't very large, died off. I carefully cut out all of the dead section, and the next year it seemed fine, but was a little sparse from the pruning. This year seems to be the summer it's going to take off and do some major growing.
This bloom is from a large climbing rose that was here when we bought our house eight years ago. It wasn't attached to a trellis or any type of structure, and was in pretty bad shape that summer. I cut it to the ground, and the next year it came back. I don't know what type of rose it is, but I do know it's very susceptible to mildew. The Japanese beetles also seem to devour it each year. It's full of blooms now, and the munching seems to be minimum.
I have two more roses that haven't bloomed yet, a pink miniature rose and another rose I planted a few years ago. I lost the tag along the way, and I only remember getting it on clearance for just over two dollars. Since I was new to growing rose, I wanted to start with inexpensive plants. It's been trial and error, and surprising at times. The miniature rose was a gift, and I didn't expect it to do well once I planted it outside. It turned out to be extremely hardy and blooms from June until the first heavy frost in the fall.
The first day of summer was humid and hot, but with roses in bloom it was still a lovely day.
Spring has been a time a new beginnings for my family, and myself. In March our first grandchild was born, and while he may have came into our life much earlier than we anticipated, he is a joy to everyone who meets him.
To me, he is a reminder of the miracle of life and the roller coaster ride that is parenthood. He lifts my spirits by just being in this world, and I couldn't image our life without him. Yes, his parents are young, 19 and 20, but my son holds his son and I know he will be a wonderful father. His mother shines when she sees her baby, and I know while she is unsure of many things, she is sure of her love for him. Life is full of surprises that shape us, and changes are constant. Family should be the one thing we can all trust in, and I think we have that in our home.
Spring has brought color to my little ten acre world, and I've already sowed annual seeds and started buying bargain trees and shrubs. I'm adding three new gardens: a butterfly and hummingbird garden, a woodland garden, and a new herb bed. I'm also moving my raised bed for vegetables and trying vertical gardening this year. Below is some of the plants blooming on our property.
I'm writing for two websites, and I'm getting ready to start a rather large editing project. I have edited for other writers in the past, and have really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to this project. I've taken a break from my fiction projects in order to focus on my freelance writing. I haven't given up, but making a living is a priority right now. Plus, writing nonfiction is also important to improving my skills in general.