Recipes Handed down for Generations

Most people agree that the most important thing in life is family and friends, and when family and friends get together- we eat. We get together to celebrate birthdays, holidays, Sundays, and eat together as family and community. They say that smells evoke the memory more than any other sense. It’s true all of us can remember the smell of bacon and coffee in the morning or the smells of Thanksgiving Dinner being cooked. Here we have our favorite foods like Potato Salad, Cabrito, Barbecue, Pecan Pie. Recipes handed down from generation to generation hand made notes, with directions like a pinch of this, or “about” this much. The kind you got when you asked Mom for a favorite recipe for one of her dishes and she told you she had made it for so long she didn’t refer to a recipe. Check out our Recipes page and Mom’s recipes for some pure Texas cooking. We’ve mined local cookbooks like Polly’s from Del Rio, and The Masonic Lodge, as well as notes from our family for tried and true favorites.

Bank Fishing Lake Conroe

Yesterday I continued my bank fishing at Lake Conroe for the third  weekend in a row.  Last winter my son Randy  and I went down to the boat  ramp at the end of Aspen in Walden  to kill some time and ran into a fellow fishing for catfish. It was a cold windy day, I’m talking about 15 plus miles per hour wind, and we visited with for a while.   Sitting beside him were two buckets full of catfish, big catfish. He used a two hook drop shot set up on two different poles and had close to his bag limit, using shad seined at the ramp.

So yesterday off we went to that ramp to see how a little summer fishing might be. At 7:00 a.m. it was already 82 degrees outside so the water temperature was at least that. On either side of the ramp, at the bulkheads, the water is about 4 ft deep right now. As you move out from the bulk heads, the water level slides down to about 10-15 feet deep up to about 50 ft out. I like to work parallel to the bulk heads, and with the extreme heat I will flip my lure right up to the docks on either side of the ramp to draw out fish hanging out there. I used a Booyah Pond Magic Two Blade spinner 3/16 oz, on a 8 lb test Vanish Berkley fluorocarbon line. I like to use light test bank fishing on Conroe, I also use the Berkley Vanish 12 lb. test, when I’m boat fishing.  

The August 12 TPWD Lake Conroe fishing report called out spinner baits, rattle traps, and plastics.  I started with a red plastic 7 in Zoom worm and Randy fished a Bill Lewis Rattletrap silver and blue.  Randy worked it off the end of the dock as well as some from the bank,  just didn’t have any luck.  I switched from my red worm to the spinner bait and worked it as described above to drag past the fish hopefully hanging close by.  Spotting a branch in the water about 4 feet off the bulkhead, I dropped my spinner just past it and dragging back got a hit.  A large mouth bass latched on and took off.  I got him landed and we measured him before taking a picture and releasing.  He was 18 inches, making him about 3 to 3 and 1/2 lbs.   

I had one more bite, same lure, and I didn’t set the hook good enough, he spit it out and I could see him just under the top of the water.  He was a smaller bass than the one I caught.  At least we didn’t get skunked, by this time it was too hot to fish in the shallower water so we called it a day and headed home.

Large Mouth

Working in the garden, a little fishin’, and grilling

Well, another weekend is almost in the books and it was a good one. With everything that is going on right now, our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by Covid in any way.

Living at Lake Conroe, what is a weekend without some fishing. I now I started my post with working in the garden, however, yesterday I started the day with a little bank fishing on the breakwater at Walden. The TPWD fishing report comes out every week, and I always check it. The information is useful and tells me what has been trending during the week. This week all fishing was pretty good: catfish, bass, crappie- according to the report. The bass report was good for plastics, and unusually did not mention colors. In any case when the fishing report starts out with GOOD, in capital letters you know it’s going to be all right. I fished with a chartreuse 7 inch worm on a Texas rig. Basically I worked the stair stepped terraced rock on the Lake side of the breakwater. Slow walking with a pull up and let drift down motion with the worm works well as you get closer to the rock starting about 25 ft out from the bank. Last week I caught about a one and half pound large mouth bass, so I gave it a shot again yesterday. Sure enough, I snagged about a two pounder no more than a dozen casts in to it. That was it, one more bite I think, walking a worm on rocky bottoms can fool you into thinking it’s a bite sometimes. I gave it up and decided to go ahead and start the yardwork.

This time of the year I try to be very mindful of watering the right amount, not too much or little. Even here in East Texas, the fires weeks of August through much of September the heat will begin a toll on the St. Augustine. Deep watering will establish a good root structure, so if you see some wilting from skipping a day to allow some dryness in your yard, the wilting can be quickly restored by watering during the day in a pinch if you have to. I have a lot of potted plants in our backyard in addition to our beds, so I started getting some old growth that can cause thinning out and leaf damages this time of year as well. I found that re potting some into a different pot, moving them around from sun to shade and vice versa can adjust the plant’s growth and blooming habits. On some of our herbs like mint, sometime you may need to harvest and store what you can and then go ahead an cut them way back to keep them healthy. Some herbs like rosemary, don’t need much water at all, and they are almost maintenance free, those you will not have the stretching out problem you might see with your other herbs in the garden whose lower leaves will show yellowing and burning. So, I spent time pruning, harvesting, cutting back and moving plants around from one bed to another some coming out of pots, some going back in.

Even though the small bass I caught was not a keeper, and did not constitute a mess that we could feast on, HEB saved the day. I picked up some fresh harvested never frozen wild caught Salmon for 9.99/ pound. Can’t beat that. A little cracked pepper, garlic powder, and sea salt, 4 minutes each side on the grill and man it just doesn’t get any better than that. My wife and I also grilled a ridiculously tasty Tenderloin so together we had surf and turf. With the meat shortages we’ve had lately I was pumped to find the high quality Tenderloin, and of course, we realized just how blessed we are to be able to eat like kings. Well, that’s about it for now, please leave comments or share your thoughts, and have a blessed week.

In the Garden

So, tonight my middle granddaughter, Little Bug (that’s her nickname, her given name is Vanessa) walked with me in our backyard looking at all of our different plants. We have some in pots, even some in a wheel barrow, and of course some planted in the ground. I didn’t realize all the varieties that we had until I started walking around with her, telling her about each one. Of course, she has seen all of them before, but I guess we had never just went around to all of them at once, smelling them and looking at each one with a new eye. We started at the baby wandering jew, it was a start at least 25 years old. We have it climbing all along the fence in the back yard. Next we checked out the azaleas, transplanted from the front, the bonus variety that bloom twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Then we picked a bloom off the day lilies, two of them in a pot-rescued from the front yard where the deer like to eat the blooms when they were planted in the ground. Our next flowers were the marigolds, planted in a galvanized water trough, up under the shade of our tree, so they get a good mix of shade and sun. The marigolds are so fragrant, Little Bug likes the way they smell, and so do I. The, on to the mint, also growing in the shade in a pot on a wooden ledge under the Oak tree from our back door neighbor’s yard. Of course we stopped to take a mint leaf and rub it between our fingers, smelling the leaves- she said it best, ” It makes me hungry”. It reminded me of the gum I keep in my truck all the time. Rounding the corner on another wooden ledge, also in the shade since our backyard gets direct west sun, we have dianthus and snapdragons. Kind of late in the year for snapdragons, and even the dianthus, but like I said, they’re in the shade so they are still blooming and healthy. Then, up next to our porch in a huge pot is our bougainvillea, it is growing like mad after being pretty much wiped out by the freezing in the winter. None of the leaves have turned red yet, we checked out the thorns, reminders to be careful around bogey. Up on the porch are our two hibiscus plants, one red, one orange. The red one is three vines twisting around each other. Last plant we came to is one of our favorites, very fragrant- the rosemary. My wife uses it in a lot of dishes, my favorite being rosemary bread.

I love working in the gardens, come by it naturally from my family going back to my grandparents. Until tonight, I really hadn’t thought about all the different plants in our backyard- it was fun taking a new look at them all at once. I always love to get the grand kids into it as much as they will, showing them the different plants, how they grow and how they smell. I tell them that you have to dig your hands right into the dirt, hold it up to your nose and smell the life in the dirt itself. Vanessa tonight noticed the snails and worms that inhabit the soil, the mini eco system- how we leave cuttings and leaves and even invader plants that grow around the flowers and herbs. I don’t weed everything out like I used to, I’ve learned to let the ecosystem do it’s thing. I don’t know about everyone else, but nothing seems so natural than planting, growing, watering, feeding, whether it’s plants, animals, kids. or souls. It’s all the same.

Striper Fishing Lake Conroe: Spinner Baits on Slopes and in Troughs

Well, we survived Spring Break, seriously it was fun riding horses-watching the grandkids riding horses, just spending small town Texas time chilling and taking it easy at our cousin’s place in Smithville. Back to Montgomery where it’s not really a small town anymore, but there is Lake Conroe. Hooray, got out yesterday and the water was pretty nice. Early on, it was a little breezy, Weather Channel on my iPhone said 5-7 mph. Now, for me- I’ve experienced that 7 mph is pretty much the magic number. Over that, it’s still tolerable but you’ll fight waves some crossing the southeast to northwest body of the lake, and it will be challenging holding position on the north end of the lake. In Spawning season there are a couple of creeks on the north end that I like to visit. This year it’s been a late spring in Texas, at least one friend told me Ray Hubbard was late spawning season just like Lake Conroe. So yesterday I started out just outside of Walden Marina breakwater east levee. There is typically fish stacked on the inclines where it transitions from 15-25 pretty quick, I saw bait balls on my fish finder and tried a chartreuse rattle trap, and after that a chartreuse spinner with a silver trailer. Seeing the fish hanging deeper I tried a blue black crawdad with speckles Texas rigged which is usually dependable. Nothing doing, so I blasted off to the North end and started working ledges off the second finger north of FM1097 on the west side. There are always stripers stacking on transitions and on out into the deeper 20-25 ft depths. I caught my first striper shalloow in about 15 ft of water. The wind had died down, I saw one boat anchored, it gets hard to hold as you come around the bend west to east and north unless you stay close to the shoreline. There wasn’t any action in the shallows with plastics, and even the dependable rattle trap wasn’t dragging up any so I had gone to the shelves further out where it breaks from 15-25 feet gradually. I could see a lot of stripers so I worked in circles using a heavier (about a 3/8 oz) spinner chartreuse with large trailing silver spoon. I figured it was heavy enough to get down where the fish were and it worked. I caught about a two pounder, released it. The wind kicked up, so I headed back to the south side. On the way I located a big hump that gets mostly passed by with boat traffic but it’s a good transition from 25-30 of water to as shallow as 8 ft and on the left side of it heading south there are big troughs. The second one I worked was full of bait fish and the tell tale striper signatures. I caught a nice one just under limit at 17 inches, release it quickly after a picture and moved on to calmer water. I spend about 30-45 minutes working some small brush piles (man made) in one of my favorite coves. It was already about 11:00 in the morning by then and usually I only do well over there early on for large mouth, and the docks there are pretty productive, I take people over there to put them on fish pretty often.

All in all a good day, it was starting to sprinkle when I was going into Walden Marina where I keep my boat slipped. It didn’t deter people just going out. Today, this afternoon, my wife and one grand daughter went out to the levee and bank fished for a while it was just too nice of a late afternoon to not be at the water. We didn’t catch anything, but she worked on her casting and it was a pleasant time.

Laminate Flooring Won’t Click

Want to know how to get tongue and groove, “click in” laminate to click together? We just got through ripping up the carpet in our living room, and installing laminate flooring. We used Pergo high quality flooring, and it looks absolutely awesome. Just one little problem with installing it- we couldn’t get it to click together easily, or almost at all. There are a ton of videos on the internet showing how to click together tongue and groove but it just wasn’t working for us. Here is our video of how to make it work with the toughest click in laminate ever. This video is not a total how to- there are plenty of those already on the internet, but it is the only way we found to get hard to click boards together and once you master it, everything goes real quick after that. Click here to watch.https://youtu.be/Fd_5tY16OW0

Christmas time in Texas

It’s 51 degrees, sun shining, and three weeks until Christmas.  My St. Augustine grass is still green.  I put up the Christmas lights Thanksgiving weekend, played golf last Friday afternoon, and went fishing on Lake Conroe last Saturday morning.  Don’t you just love the holiday season in Texas?  ‘Course, don’t tell that to the folks living in the Panhandle.  I don’t know about ya’ll but this time of year all the Christmas  arts and crafts come out of storage at our house along with the tree lights and all the cool collectable and sentimental ornaments we’ve saved over the years.  We have ornaments our daughter made and now the ones the grand kids made, and I’ve got the grand kids working on more.  We use the big bottles of acrylic, set the kids up on the crafts table that’s well worn with paint, glue, and glitter- and let them rip!  Every year one of our Nativity scenes takes a hit from kids and grand kids or the inevitable breakable is  snatched off from the lower branches by a dog and one year the cat toppled the whole shebang climbing up the tree of course. We’ve learned to put the breakables and shall we say less fancy ornaments at the bottom of the tree.

I keep my easel right by the crafts table which tends to be surrounded by toy vacuum cleaners, Thomas the Train rideable, and a toy shopping cart.  Yes, all girls.  So far. My middle grand daughter saw me painting some details on a work in progress for just a quick minute (didn’t even get my palette out), and given that she was not set up for painting said “Grandpaw, that’s not fair”.  So, as you might can tell we have a new generation hooked on creating art and I realize just how incredibly blessed we are!

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