This 'n That

The hills are alive with the sound of . . . cicadas. If you live on the east coast, you know what I mean. The 17 year cicadas woke up a few weeks ago leaving holes in the ground; dozens of disgusting carcasses (shells? casings? larva?) littering the deck, sidewalk, lawn, etc., and filling the air with an incessant buzzing. They almost drown out the sound of all my neighbors' lawn mowers!

My next door neighbor has tons more cicadas than we do. Who knows why? But my poor hydrangea bush, relocated from the side garden to the front garden earlier this spring, looks horrible. These very large, red-eyed pests seem partial to some shrubbery while ignoring the rest.

Speaking of pests, I am on the lookout for ants. They have invaded my kitchen annually for the last several years and while we've had some individual sightings, no large infestation yet. Another reason why we are delighted to have had such a long, cool spring. (You will notice that I did not use any bug pictures, ugh.)

My three sons have been home for a couple of weeks for their summer breaks and it is back to buying three gallons of milk per week. A small price to pay for their company. Looking for jobs and low-priced cars are on some of their agendas. 

Summer cooking is always a challenge. I avoid using the stove and oven, and grilled food starts to taste the same after a while, so I frequently prepare cold dishes. Because I'm always on the lookout for something new, please share any and all of your favorite summer main dishes with me. Please, please, please?

Tomorrow will start a string of hot, humid days in the 90s, so I baked five loaves of bread this morning keeping out one and freezing the other four. They came out looking beautiful, which is rewarding since my last few batches were mediocre. Again, who knows why?

Since I use my slow cooker all year long (sometimes putting it outside in the summer), I started dinner while my bread was baking. And in a Transitional-Woman first, I'd love to share a recipe provided by my friend Jodi in Indiana. It doesn't look very pretty, but everyone loves it and I've substituted all over the place when I have run out of one of the five ingredients (don't you love it already, only five ingredients).

1. Take frozen chicken breasts (or thighs, boneless is easier, but bone-in works too), however many you want and put in your slow cooker.
2. Pour a jar of salsa over the chicken (I have used diced or stewed tomatoes when I've run out of salsa, but add some spicy seasonings if you do this).
3. Drain and rinse a can or two of black beans (depends on how many breasts you cook, can also use kidney beans or any of your favorite beans) and toss in.
4. Cook on high about 4 hours or low about 7.
5. Use two forks (it's easier to use big meat forks) and shred the chicken (now you know why boneless chicken works better).
6. Chop up an 8 ounce package of cream cheese (I use low fat) and mix into the pot (I have also used low fat sour cream instead).
7. Add about 8 ounces of frozen corn or a can of corn and mix.
8. Cook for 20-30 more minutes.
9. Serve over rice (brown is better for you :) ).
10. Make a green salad and you've got a great dinner. The leftovers are lovely too.

That's enough this 'n that from me for one day. What have you been up to?


  1. I lived in Maryland last time the cicadas came out. I was just a kid, so thought it was the most fascinating thing ever. I sort of miss them, but seeing as how I have a vegetable garden now, I'm probably glad I don't have to deal with them again.

    I have a hard time with figuring out food in the summer, too. And ants have invaded us this year. We thought we'd found where they were coming from, but lo and behold, they showed up again today after we sealed an area a few days ago. I rather hate them.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  2. How about if I box up a few thousand cicadas and send them your way? We have plenty.
    I am sorry about your ant invasion. It is indeed a trial getting rid of them. I rather hate them as well. There's nothing quite as bad as clever insects.