My plants are confused. I hear there’s a lot of that going around. A week ago in Central Florida temperatures averaged 60 and the evenings dipped into high 30s or 40s. This week the lows are in the 60s and the highs in high-70s to high 80s. My plants don’t know whether to hibernate or bloom, as some are doing. Just spoke to someone in Texas who was in the midst of that horrendous below-freezing weather a couple days ago and today her area is in the high-70s. The rapid variance of temperatures is just like the world news. Recovery is imminent, airlines and cruise lines preparing for tourism crush, and COVID-related infection and death numbers are plummeting. Those stories contrast sharply with other current news that says tourism won’t recover until 2022 or 2023, and the new U.K and African viruses are more deadly and spreading quickly. What, and whom, to believe. I think the solution is: we believe what makes us feel better. So, my advice is to find something positive on which to focus and just do your best to make it happen.
Russ is not big on my all-but-the-kitchen-sink salads. Yes, he can pick out the items he’ll eat, but every once-in-a-while (or in our household, more often than not), I rely on ingenuity to create dishes that will appeal to both of us. That’s how this Tomato, Avocado & Salted Peanut Salad came about. They are all ingredients he enjoys. (A can of cocktail peanuts sits by his side of the loveseat to continually munch on while watching TV).
A short while back there was a viral-bound joke that if vaccination site managers wanted to have their operations, appointments and follow through go smoothly, they should turn to meeting and event planners. The joke continued that not only would the task be done skillfully and to everyone’s satisfaction, but all those seniors who had endured standing in long lines, (sometimes throughout the night), unsure if they’d even score a shot, would have been served snacks, a drink and maybe even a chair. I was likely among the meetings & event Insiders who didn’t see the surface humor in the proposition. I had discussed that same “duh moment” ad nauseum with industry friends and my husband and wondered why no one in charge hadn’t already figured that out. Who better to strategize all the minutia of appointments, parking, cue lines, qualified staff, and follow up visits to fulfillment, than a planner?
Book your meeting by December 22 and stay by December 31, 2020 at any of these participating Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, FL properties and receive a $3 room rebate per actualized room up to $5,000. Created by the Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB), the program for new bookings (only) will also cover destinations besides those in Lee County. Fort Myers venues include Crowne Plaza Fort Myers At Bell Tower Shops, Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center, Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, Drury Inn & Suites, and the new Luminary Hotel & Co., Autograph Collection (which is slated to open in September). Captiva Island properties include South Seas Island Resort and ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort. Two Fort Myers Beach properties are Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina and DiamondHead Beach Resort. Other meetings properties are: Embassy Suites Hotel (Estero), Gasparilla Inn & Club (Boca Grande), Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa (Bonita Springs), The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village (Cape Coral), and Sundial Beach Resort & Spa (Sanibel Island).
I’m making myself sit at my computer and write this blog today. What motivated me is a hotel that is hosting a job fair and they wish to have qualified candidates attend. When so much of the world is in turmoil, it makes me feel good to share the good news I receive. As I hear from both meetings & events, hospitality and leisure travelers, there is still uncertainty about hopping on a plane, attending an event or attraction, or staying at a resort. I have been using this column to highlight safety protocols undertaken by individuals and companies. We all want to work, travel, and to feel safe while doing so.
Once upon a time I catered international cuisines. I had an Israeli Chef then as a partner, so preparing Middle Eastern delights became a focus of our business. One of the dishes I learned then and have always enjoyed making and eating since is spanakopita, a Greek-based dish that includes spinach, feta, filo or puffed pastry. I have made small triangles or thin roll-ups for appetizers, larger versions for side dishes, or have layered a 9×13 pan with many sheets of buttered filo piled atop one another, added my filling, and then topped with more layers of filo.
Yesterday I was in the mood for using my hands other than to lift weights to strengthen my bone density. As I perused my refrigerator, pantry shelves, and freezer, it was as if all the ingredients for spanakopita yelled, “Pick me, pick me.”
The most difficult job I have ever had as a writer is to get the first sentence written. That one simple idea encapsulates my path for where the remainder will follow. It’s like taking a journey, with one foot in front of the other, but until you take that first step, you will only idle in place and never move forward. So it is today, as I begin this next post.
Globally, we are still entrenched in Covid-19 or in the aftermath for those nations fortunate enough to have had strong leaders and the backbone to do what was strictly necessary to flatten that darned curve. Many of us though, are still seeing deaths soaring, jobs and businesses being lost (perhaps permanently), and entire industries having to reinvent themselves (and we thought online sales were outshining brick & mortar stores before Covid). My first attempts to begin this post all seemed too depressing, sad, and without hope. It is not what I want to convey.
Life as we knew it pre-COVID 19 is starting to reappear as far as travel, hotels, restaurants, gyms, hair salons etc go. As this blog is globally read, it makes no sense to tell you which places are reopen or will soon. What is of more value, is what they are doing to assure your safety as much is humanly possible, such as how the majority of theme parks worldwide will check temperatures at the entrance and anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be denied entry (as well as their family). As you all may be aware, how to safely reopen differs from city to city, state to state, and country to country. For instance, I just heard from a woman that a particular airline is not requiring masks for staff or travelers and that people were packed in to all seats (thanks to fewer flights). I have seen pictures of businesses, including restaurants, not requiring masks or social distancing. What do you think? Is that something we should discuss?
In my household, real men (meaning my husband, Russ) not only eat quiche, but enjoy it.
My favorite quiche recipe came from my sister, Debbie. Although I have made it exactly as she gave it to me the first time, I have never made it the same way twice ever since, not because I don’t adore her original recipe, but because I use whatever cheeses I happen to have available. I don’t exactly follow original suggestions for amounts of cheese either, usually putting at least a half-cut more… just because. Although I usually use fresh spinach because that’s what I know what Russ will eat, Debbie’s recipe also includes broccoli as an alternative.
Occasionally I add some cooked, crumbled bacon, but have also added al dente diced asparagus and/or ham. My cheese assortments have been swiss, gruyere, muenster, boursin, feta, ricotta, cheddar, or a mixture of Italian cheeses. The result is that each time, the texture and taste are different. The dish lends itself to improvisation.
Fixing a meal quickly can be done, but it is not my preference.
Today was just one of those days when groceries were being delivered sooner than expected and I had about 45 minutes to prepare a meal of my husband Russ’ choosing. Shortcuts were necessary. So, I didn’t take notes on quantities in order to give you precise amounts. I used what I had available, and with ingredients I knew he’d eat.
But before I tell how I made it, I need to vent. If anyone ever asks me about what I disliked intensely during the months of Coronvirus fears, other than the expected answers such as socializing and getting my hair done, I would say it’s being so concerned about keeping my husband and I safe, that I didn’t do my own grocery shopping. I am one of those rare (apparently, as my friends have noted to me) people who enjoy grocery shopping. If the watermelon isn’t the right color, the cantelope mushy, or the romaine lettuce spines are ribbed in pink, I am not buying them. I’d do without first. I’m just as choosy about meats, poultry, or cheeses.