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Thursday, August 30, 2018

WTF - Bears prepping for Hibernation

"And then I saw the bear," - Jimmy Buffet

The bears on Beech Mountain are now in full swing getting in those last calories so they can go to sleep looking like Jabba The Hutt from Star Wars emerging next spring looking like Thor.

This means activity increases and you have to be Bearwise during the last month of summer into fall.

This amazing magnet is sitting on the counter at Fred's General Mercantile and it's free. Pick one up to remind yourself of these facts about bears:

Never feed or approach bears. I know, DUH! But people like to feed the animals and this attracts bears.

Do not approach a bear! Not even for a selfie! If you see a bear while out and about on the mountain you can do one of two things, turn and go the other way, or make as much noise as possible while making yourself look as big as possible. (wave your arms, open your jacket anything to make yourself look intimidating.) My husband told me to just give the bear my "mom eye" and he'll run the other way. Most of the time they are afraid of you and will run away. I always say there's plenty of food on the mountain so I don't think they'll think of us as FOOD!

Secure your home. Once they start in full eat mode prepping for hibernation, they get more creative looking for food. If you have bears regularly in your backyard as I do, I move to keeping the back doors closed taking away the temptation to come into my kitchen and help themselves to my pizza. (Seriously, this actually happened to friends, they came into their kitchen and found a bear standing over their pizza)

Secure your garbage or recycling. Trash cans on this mountain are not bear proof, meaning whatever you put out will be strewn up and down the street and into our beautiful woods. The wooden lids will deter raccoons and crows from going through your trash but they will not keep a 500lb bear away. Put your garbage out the morning of pickup. (Pickup schedules can be found at Beech Mountain Town Hall) or use the Beech Mountain Convenience center across from Fred's General Mercantile, take your trash to the dump then go over to Fred's for the morning paper and a great cup of coffee.

Remove bird feeders at night. Everyone loves feeding the birds and squirrels but during this active time this is a buffet for bears. Bears will come on your deck for bird feeders, pet food you leave out, humming bird feeders, anything edible. Don't make your deck the place they remember as a food source.

Clean your grill. If you've grilled, run it at a high temperature to burn off all food bits and run a brush over the grill cleaning off the debris. This keeps the bear from tearing your grill apart looking for food.

Secure your vehicle. Make sure there is no food in your car and all windows are up. I learned this lesson luckily with a raccoon. I thought I had all windows up but one was partially down. I went to my car to get something and a raccoon was sitting in the front seat holding a taco my son left in my car. With much noise later he disappeared into the woods with it. Luckily this wasn't a bear because a bear would have totaled my car. This happened on Sugar Mountain, a bear got into a car after a doughnut and the door shut behind him. Needless to say the car was totaled from the bear trying to get out. I wouldn't want to be the police coming and opening the door to the car letting the bear out. Our bears are creative enough to open some car doors, lock your vehicle even in our neighborhood where we don't lock cars.

Being Bearwise means being logical. This is the time of year they are packing on the weight and are not afraid of finding new food sources. Don't let your deck, car or house be their next buffet.

What are your bear proof ideas?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

WTF - Top Ten of the Week

My Top Ten WTF moments of the week.

10. Finding the thermos from end of school last year still in the backpack as school starts.

With food in it.

9. Coming home to a small bonfire at the top of my drive way and a child holding lighter fluid saying, “What?”

8. My son putting a dish on the counter. I said, “What’s that?” He looked at me and said, “Another dish to do?”

7.  Trying to understand why they each need a $120 calculator when seriously, who uses math after school.

Of course this shirt, I mean WTF?
6. My son saying he’ll switch cars with me, then I get in and the brakes are metal on metal. Have you ever completely geared down a mountain? I have.

5.  Finding a take out box of empty mussel shells after wondering for two days, “What is that smell?”

4.  A woman in my exercise class complaining to me that she is “sweating?”

3. When my son showed me his paycheck saying, “Where did all the money go?”

At least he will get it back.

2. The dog bringing in the dead squirrel from the backyard and dropping it on the bed.

  1. Walking down to a raccoon in my car, holding up a taco my son left in it from lunch before. Just to give us both the benefit of the doubt, my one window will roll up then come back down to spite me.

How did I get the raccoon out? A lot of noise and throwing a handful of dog food in the woods.

What happened to the taco? It took it with him. Leaving behind dirty paw prints on my seats and shredded tin foil all over my car.

I was looking forward to that taco.

What’s your greatest WTF moment so far?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

BBQ Chicken Bowls ala Sous Vide

I don't know if your kids are like mine but both boys hate cafeteria food. I don't think they've eaten the food at school since Kindergarten. Now with two high schoolers the beginning of the school year means meal prep!

Best Gadget to help with meal prep? The Sous Vide Machine!

The Sous Vide (pronounced Sue-VIED) is a precision cooker, meaning it cooks food to a precise temperature and keeps it there. Restaurants have used these for years, cooking to a temperature then finishing the item on the grill etc.

I use the Magic Mill Sous Vide Machine. 

Yes, this is another machine for the kitchen but,

There are benefits to cooking in a water bath.

Food is cooked evenly to a precise temperature, it does not require babysitting.
Food is cooked in its own juices staying tender and moist.
Less waste as food does not dry out and lose volume when cooking.

Here's my Sous Vide recipe for BBQ Chicken Bowls

1lb chicken
Rufus Teague Rub
Vacuum seal bag - another gadget I love, my Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer

Rub the chicken with Rufus Teague 
This stuff is awesome!
Place in Vacuum seal bag.
Vacuum out all the air.

Cook the chicken in a water bath at 140 degrees for 2 hours. The reason you vacuum seal is to keep all the air out of the bag helping it submerge in the water. If you don't vacuum seal you can always weight down the chicken in the bag with an item from the kitchen.

Chicken can be used immediately or transferred to the refrigerator already sealed in the bag.

As needed (each of the boys' lunches take a full chicken breast) grill the already cooked chicken in a cast iron skillet for grill marks or pan sear for texture. Don't cook too long as the water bath already cooked it.

My additions:
Vacuum Sealed Chicken

Green Beans
1 cup green beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce

1. Brown garlic in olive oil.

2. Add green beans, sauce for 3 minutes.

3. Add soy sauce saute for 2 more minutes.

Cilantro Lime Rice

1 cup long grain rice

Pan Seared Chicken Breast
1/2 lime juiced

2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. Cook rice according to package.

2. Combine rice, lime juice, cilantro a touch of olive oil.

Layer rice with chicken finishing with green beans.

The perfect thermos meal for school!

With just a little chicken left, I sautéed the chicken with some Texas Pete Wing Sauce. In a large flour tortilla, I added Spring Mix, chicken, Ranch Dressing and shredded cheddar for Buffalo Chicken Wraps.

Coming up next Sous Vide Beef for Steak Fajita Thermos Lunches!

This is another version of the Sous Vide. Food is placed in a container, the cooker inserted for even cooking. This is beneficial for large groups of food, some even fill coolers with water using this type of cooker.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

WTF - Back to School Edition

What's the proper way to prepare for back to school?


Panic more as one child asks you to order two books they were supposed to read over summer.

Watch all the "good" Moms posting pictures of backpacks purchased, school supplies organized, and meal prep started for lunches.

Realize your house is a wreck, feel better as you tell yourself "I'll be able to get to it when they are in school."

Tell your kids their backpacks from last year were expensive and good enough for this year.

Find the last lunch from last year still in the backpacks.


Go through your drawers for pieces of paper and a few pencils.

Tell the kids to get their school supply list the first day of school.

Send a gentle RIP to all the summer plans along with all those people you said, "We should get together this summer."

Find the computer cord from last year that cost you $26 fine when he couldn't turn it in.

Tell your children to get back to a school schedule and they say, "Boy that's getting up when I'm usually going to bed."

Hunt for those expensive math calculators because you're not spending that money again.

Make your back to school PTO donation because you're not volunteering your time.

Four massive mounds of laundry because you don't want to take them out for Back To School shopping.

Dig out the lunch boxes wondering if you should throw away the Slim Jim you find in a box or just recycle it for the first day.

Watch a boy listening to his summer reading book on tape as he is sleeping on the couch.

Go into their rooms the night before moving alarm clocks from beside the bed to across the room.

Go back to bed after they leave for school.

Sit up and panic because you forgot that back to school picture everyone's posting on social media.