20160423_113427(1600x1200)Brats are about as basic as you can go, store had one of their specials going so I bought several.  Potato salad, slaw, and three  four bean salad round the lunch plate off in a nice picnic style.  Not a huge fan of eating outside but the flavor was there. LOL

Bixby Diaries: Mountain Adventures

Fire Effects

Fire damage from a few years ago.

LFern and family own property up from a canyon that was hit hard by the 2013 floods and the 2012 fires that turned their property into a moonscape. I used to go up there for some peace and fresh air, but hadn’t made the trip since the fires. I was glad when we went up this past week it was showing signs of recovery.

My birthday was last week and because I have amazing friends, I was besieged with requests to go have some fun. My only desire was that we did something that would give Bixby an adventure. I’ve been feeling that my schedule has left him bored of late. Everyone was happy to oblige.

Where is the puppy

Let’s play find the puppy.

Adventures we had. First we went to visit his buddy Kodiak, then grabbed a picnic lunch and headed up to the canyon for some mountain time. This was Bixby’s first foray into the woods and he left no doubt this was an amazing exploit. Four hours later we took an exhausted dog back down the mountain and he slept most of the next day.

Beautiful boy

“Is that a bear I smell?”

We hiked a bit and then picnicked by the stream. As anyone who has followed Bixby’s diaries knows he loves water and his very own creek was pretty much heaven for him.  He also got to see his very first cows, as they were Angus, fairly certain he thought they were related. He of course then got to snack on cow snacks. Sigh.

Bixby's Big Stick

There were really big sticks to try and fetch. Almost impaling us in the process.Fire RenewalI loved this view, the wildflowers looking like an avalanche of snow.

Here is a video of his adventures – it’s a little long, because to be honest, it’s really for me. I love this dog. He was so good and never once tried to run off. He was content to play within sight of us.

Later in the week, friend Larilyn and I went up to Estes Park where Bixby walked around the big park and played in the reservoir. We may do that more often, since it’s not that far from here. The rest of the week was filled with company coming over. He had a great time. I’m sure he now thinks every week should be like this.

He did two things this week that remind me of how awesome he is and reaffirmed what was clear when I first met him. He is very intuitive and adjusts his behavior accordingly. My neighbor is rather frail but likes to give Bixby a scritch when he sees him and Bixby sits and gently leans on him as he scritches. This is not the case if he thinks you are in fine health, besides trying to just bowl you over with his size and enthusiasm, he still wants to jump up on you. We’re working on it.

Tired puppy

Exhausted puppy sleeping next to my desk at the moment

The other event was as we were walking the other day, we came upon his “girlfriend” a beautiful yellow tabby that loves him as much as he loves her. She comes running whenever she sees Bixby walking down her sidewalk. You can hear all the neighbors on the block do a collective “awwwww”. We met up with a woman and her ten year old son, who had stopped to scritch the kitteh. Her son had some physical disabilities and was unable to speak, but his eyes got really big when he saw Bixby and he got the biggest smile.

He wanted to pet Bixby and I reluctantly agreed, worried that Bixby would be over-enthusiastic and knock him down. I shouldn’t have been worried, Bixby sat nicely, let his new friend feed him a cookie, hug him and love on him. He didn’t budge, didn’t wiggle, just became this young boy’s sturdy friend.

All and all, except for the interruption of a migraine, it was a terrific birthday.



DSC_5285 (1600x1060)More random wildlife!  A snapper makes his/her way across the lawn.  It’s dry so I know it’s been on the road for a while, but there is a pond in sight from where the picture was taken.DSC02312 (1600x1200)We don’t know much about this orange kitteh, it was found in a cardboard box with a sibling.  They are about 8 weeks old and are ready for adoption.DSC02310 (1600x1200)The first one looks a lot like our newest kitty, this one lacks the white patches.  I’m sure there is a name for the different color schemes but I don’t know what they are.  Mrs J says she just calls them orange tabbies.DSC_0378 (1600x1060)Tacos!  These are roast pork with minimal garnish – a smear of beans and a spoonful of salsa with sprinkles of green onion and cheddar.  The general term for the main filling is carnitas, which means “little meats”.DSC_0374 (1600x1060)The coconut curry chicken we had over rice the other day was also good on these garlic mashed potatoes.  I wish I was better at cooking for two, we still have another little bit of this leftover.DSC_5307 (1600x1060)It’s so hard to catch these hummers in mid flight, especially with the long lens I had on my camera.  This was snapped as he approached a feeder and hesitated while he chose a spot to land.DSC_0364 (1600x1060)I’ll wrap up with a classic picnic plate of burger, beans, slaw, and potato salad.


P1000241 (1600x1060)We had a nice day for a picnic.  Here’s the grill master enjoying a brew.P1000243 (1600x1060)A few of the ginormous chicken breasts.  Lily, the grill dog, is taking a short break.  Don’t reach for a chicken unless you know her.  Also on the menu were pork steaks, and roasted corn:P1000238 (1600x1060)I didn’t get there in time to get a picture of the corn piled atop the grill.

P1000248 (1600x1060)In the spirit of good old American Innovation, here is a sauerkraut dip.  It has cheddar cheese, mayo, hard boiled eggs, and green onions.  Maybe cream cheese – alas, I didn’t take notes.  It drew favorable comments along the lines of “you can’t even taste the sauerkraut”.P1000254 (1600x1060)The serving table was laden with all the usual side dishes.  Note the can of insect repellant.  Mosquitoes were not a problem but ticks are a concern.P1000258 (1600x1060)There was the usual collection of desserts but Mrs J will be miffed if I don’t feature her pudding pie.P1000259 (1600x1060)Faithful Grill Dog.  She accepts tips!

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Chipotle Macaroni Salad

Photo by JeffreyW

EDIT: Just realized the tomatoes were omitted from the ingredient list. Corrected now.

What a week. The Colorado wildfires became personal again, as my office was smack in the middle of an evacuation zone. The authorities never had to make it mandatory and as I write this, that fire is well contained.  Add to that, one of the guys I work with was in a horrible motorcycle accident at the beginning of the week and that shook us all up. I was ready for the week to be over sometime around Tuesday night, so I’m grateful it’s Thursday and the weekend is within sprinting distance. Even happier that Independence Day is around the corner

Since I love July 4th, I have quite a few recipes that celebrate it with great picnic foods. All 21 of them can be found at this link.  There is quite a variety: fancy appetizers; cold salads; grilling ideas; fun desserts; and even cold drinks. There is also an entire post of potato salad recipes from Balloon-Juicers.

I really like tonight’s featured recipe. It was a huge hit last year at the July 4th picnic. I’m actually making it right now for a going away party, that’s how it became tonight’s recipe.

All right, now it’s your turn, what are your favorite foods on July 4th? Are you all-American with burgers and dogs or something more sophisticated? Share your favorites in the comments and we can all argue about it, good-naturedly of course.

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Chipotle Macaroni Salad

Chipotle Mayonnaise:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1 tbsp limejuice

Mix together ingredients and set aside while macaroni cooks.

Macaroni Salad:

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (or equivalent)
  • 8 oz cubed sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 thick cut bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (optional)
  • 1 cup chipotle mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt and macaroni. Cook until al dente (firm to tooth). Immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Do not drain well, allow macaroni to stay wet, remove to bowl. Immediately add garlic, celery, onion, parsley and lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in cheddar cheese, tomatoes, bacon and chipotle mayonnaise. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to chill 15 – 30 minutes. Serves 8-10.

Just a note: There will be no recipe exchange next Thursday, we’ll pick up again on July 12th.

Picnic Post

Too many pictures to post them all separately so I’ll do a slide show.  I will leave out the sweet corn pictures since I treated that aspect to a post of its own.  This was put on by the Johnson clan and friends and was well attended although there have been years with more folks.  A good time was had by all, despite the heat.

Main course was pork steak with an able assist from some grilled chicken breasts, along with a tenderloin from a wild boar from a recent hunt in Texas and a chunk of beef that looked good on the plate.  I have no idea what the cut was and forgot to ask.  The grill master used a secret recipe dry rub that was very good.  I think it had garlic powder, salt, sugar, paprika and cayenne, probably onion powder and black pepper.  Mr Johnson promised to leave a sample with me for an analysis.  Stay tuned!

Most of the usual sides made it to the table, but there were no baked beans!  I wish I had known because my potato salad was one of four, and I make a killer baked bean dish.


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Apple Crisp Revisited: Now with Pictures

Couldn’t let JeffW and Mrs. J outdo me, so I got the camera out today when I decided to bake today.  Going on a picnic tomorrow, so I thought it would be a good time to make some more Perfect Apple Crisp to take along.

I made it in the skillet, but then transported it to a glass baking dish because I think it browns better in it and I have a cover for it and it will be easier to pack.

Oh, and where are we going on this picnic?   The Wild Animal Sanctuary.  Where there are lions and tigers and bears….oh yeah and a beautiful black panther that had his very own television show on Animal Planet.  I’ll try and get pictures.

Happy 4th of July

We hold these truths to be self-evident…..

Yeah, I’m still a sucker for July 4th.  I’ll be watching 1776 sometime over the holiday.  There will be fireworks. And a picnic.  I love that we are a country of rebels and continue to be a country of rebels.  It’s not always pretty, but really, would we have it any other way?

This year I’ve made Macaroni Salad with Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Chipotle Mayonnaise.  Have a safe and happy 4th of July.

For a full-size readable copy of the above photo, click here.