Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review - Cookin' it with Kix: The Art of Celebrating and the Fun of Outdoor Cooking

Cookin' it with Kix:  The Art of Celebrating and the Fun of Outdoor Cooking by Kix Brooks

Cookin' it with Kix:  The Art of Celebrating and the Fun of Outdoor Cooking has 256 pages of recipes, beautiful photos and heart warming personal stories by country music icon, Kix Brooks.  Kix is a man of many talents and boundless energy.  A singer and song writer in his own right, he is also half of the highest selling duo in country music history - Brooks & Dunn.  Kickin' it up a notch from there, he began hosting American Country Countdown in 2006, co-founded Arrington Vineyards, and then hosted Steak Out with Kix Brooks for the Cooking Channel.   His latest endeavor is "Cookin' it with Kix" and again, he "Kixed it outta the park!"

The cookbook is broken down into 8 chapters:
  1. Where I Come From
  2. Cook Out!
  3. Cooking in the Woods
  4. Celebrate! with Food
  5. Easy on the Sides
  6. A Little Kick
  7. Sweets and Indulgences
  8. Libations, Cocktails and Beverages
In the first chapter Kix shares a little about his background - growing up in Louisiana, surrounded by family who made lasting impressions and helped to shape him into the man he is today.  

The second chapter features recipes for frying fish and grilling out.  One thing I liked about this book is that Kix shares easy ways to make substitutions, like swapping in shrimp instead of crawfish in his Crawfish Etouffee recipe.  Believe it or not, I've never had grilled oysters and Kix manages to make them look appealing to me.  The Shrimp Po' Boy was a favorite for me and will probably be one of the first things I try to make, along with the accompanying Spicy Remoulade Sauce.

Chapter three covers cooking in the woods and I almost flipped when I saw the recipe for Wild Turkey Tenders.  We literally made the same thing 2 nights before I received this book, but the recipe here sounds better than mine.  Looks like we need to gear up for turkey season again.  Elk Chili looked fantastic and I was reeled in by this recipe because I favor beans in my chili.  I actually make a good venison chili but I'd love to try the elk version.  Now if I can just get my hands on an elk.....

Celebrate with food for holiday meals and get togethers in chapter four.  Red beans and rice, shrimp boil, tacos, and ribs are all covered.  I must have turkey on the brain because I was drooling over the Spatchcocked turkey.  Do you know that that is?  I didn't, but Kix explains it and now I want to try cooking a turkey this way, along with a batch of his cranberry-orange sauce.  Thanksgiving can't get here quickly enough for me.   

Chapter five is all about the sides like Aunt Katty's cheese wafers, roasted brussel sprouts, angel biscuits, jalapeno corn muffins and molasses apple butter.  I know folks in the south who take pride in their pimento cheese and Kix supplies not one, but two yummy sounding recipes.  You will be hard pressed to decide which one to make first.

Learn all about rubs, sauces and condiments in chapter six.  Dry seasonings, tartar sauce, hot sauce, barbecue, and steak sauces are all covered here.  If you're so inclined, you can grown your own hot peppers so you can customize your sauce to your liking.  Kix encourages you to tweak the spices when you make you own tartar sauce.  Check out the straight up barbecue sauce and the creole barbecue spice - you'll take your barbecue to new levels.

No meal is complete without a little dessert afterwards and chapter seven will not disappoint.  How does fired up bananas foster sound?  Or maybe old fashioned banana pudding, beignets, homemade peach ice cream with bourbon caramel sauce, or strawberry shortcake is more your style?  I stopped in my tracks over the recipe for heavenly hash.  Everything looks mighty fine to me, but the recipe that had me at bourbon was "bourbon soaked celebration cake."  With bourbon in both the cake and the glaze, this one is sure to please any bourbon lover in the family.

The final chapter covers libations, cocktails and beverages.  Learn how to make a good scotch on the rocks, a manhattan, a moscow mule, and my favorite - a bourbon slushie.  Hmmmm.... I'm beginning to see a pattern with me and bourbon!  You can enjoy non-alcoholic beverages as well and try out southern tea, peach tea, lemonade or cider.

The recipes in Cookin' it with Kix are varied and easy to make using most ingredients that you will find in your cabinet or are readily available.  I also enjoyed the "Kix Tips" that accompany many of the recipes.  Some great examples are....

  •  how to tell your grease is hot enough to fry in by using a kitchen match
  •  how to pick the perfect avocado
  •  how to make your biscuits crunchy
  •  how to make clarified butter
  •  and one of my favorites - how to take banana pudding up a notch by using bourbon.  Oh boy!!! 
A bonus to the book is the personal stories that pepper the pages - they are delightful!   I've had the pleasure of seeing Brooks & Dunn in concert and they put on a fantastic show.  However, because of this book, I saw a side of Kix that is entirely different from his "boot scooting, guitar playing, wild man" presence.  He's down to earth, humble and genuine.  I had a good laugh reading about how he started his yard on fire trying to deep fry a turkey.  Don't worry, this was way before turkey fryers were on the market and Kix knew his way around a kitchen.  Kix shares heart warming stories about being raised by his dad and grandparents, fishing, hunting, and growing up in Louisiana.  Save a tissue for the story he shares about his late sister Midge and the amazing day they had together at the Kentucky Derby.  Make yourself a mint julep (recipe provided) and raise your glass in her memory.  Believe me, Kix and Midge would both appreciate that.

Visit the W Publishing FB page and Thomas Nelson Publishing for more book selections.

Be sure to visit the Kix Brooks FB page.

(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Photo images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.) 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tool Chest Re-Do

A couple of weeks ago I found this great tool chest underneath a stack of junk in the garage at an estate sale.

It was in pretty sad shape, but it was sturdy and the inside had 4 stacking wooden shelves.   Louie kind of turned his nose up at it but sometimes you see something and you just gotta have it!  I gave it a good scrubbing and let it sit outside for a few days in the sun.  Then I stained the inside of the box and the shelves with a dark stain....

I pulled out one of my new favorite brushes - the Zebra Wedge brush.  I won a box of their brushes a few weeks ago and I have to say - I love them!   They are amazing.  The bristles are thick and the paint goes on like a dream.

A couple of weeks ago I got this full container of lavender paint at a garage sale for 50 cents.  It's a really pretty color and come on...... 50 cents!

The box got 2 coats of paint and then I decoupaged some rose napkins on the top and one napkin on the front.  Decoupaging with napkins is one of my new favorite things to do.  Have you tried it yet?

Then I gave the whole box a light distressing, put a coat of polyurethane over the napkins and then waxed the entire thing.

What do you think?  I adore the color!  Plus the lavender paint and the rose napkins kind of keep my husband from stealing it from me.  LOL!

The drawers are awesome.  I can't wait to fill them up with all my tools.  Plus, the box is on wheels and has a handle so I can roll it around when I'm working on something.

It's so purty!!!!

Linking up with...
Talk of the Town 7-11-17

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book Review - Complete Guide to Boating and Seamanship

Complete Guide to Boating and Seamanship by Vin T. Sparano, Universe Publishing, 2017

Summer has arrived and if you're anything like me, you're spending as much time on the water as you possibly can.  Boating novices and experts alike will benefit from this newest offering by award winning author Vin Sparano.  This paperback edition contains 336 pages of useful information and 600 color photographs that will help you navigate any type of vessel, how to make your boat safe, and bring you up to date on electronics.

Complete Guide to Boating and Seamanship is broken down into ten sections:
  1. Boating Design and Construction
  2. Boats for Outdoor Recreation
  3. Outfitting Your Boat
  4. Boating Safety and Tips
  5. Fishing Basics for Boaters
  6. Freshwater Game Fish
  7. Saltwater Game Fish
  8. Cooking Techniques
  9. Survival
  10. First Aid for Boaters
Chapter one covers the different types of hull design and the advantages of each.  You will learn how the materials used to build a boat affect its cost, buoyancy and durability.  Do you want a boat of fiberglass, aluminum or wood?  Learn the advantages of each in this chapter.

Let's take a look at the reasons you want a boat in chapter 2.  This chapter on Outdoor Recreation covers a wide variety of options - Are you using a boat for fishing, hunting, camping, or skiing?  Maybe you want a kayak or a canoe?  How about a paddleboard, a jet ski, wakeboard or water skis?  Chapter 2 has the best section on learning how to waterski or wakeboard that I have ever seen.  I've been an avid water skier my entire life and I was happy relieved to see that I've been doing everything correct all these years.   There are plenty of ways to spend time on the water -lets narrow it down here.

Chapter three will tell you everything you need to know about properly outfitting your boat.  I found the photos and descriptions on trimming your motor to be particularly helpful.  Inboards, outboards and trolling motors are covered.  Learn about depth sounders, marine radios, GPS devices, and anchors.  Four pages are devoted to showing you how to properly tie a multitude of knots.  All boats need a trailer and you should know how to choose one and properly maintain it.  I've been backing my husband's boat into the lake for years and even I learned a new tip on the best place to put your hand on the steering wheel when doing so.  See, I told you, something for everyone!

Chapter four covers all kinds of boating safety and tips, basic tool kits, spare parts to have on hand, safe boating procedures, and what kind of personal flotation devices you must have.  All boaters need to know how to properly handle wind, weather and water, and learning how to forecast the weather to a certain degree is always helpful. You can never be too cautious when you're on the water and other people's lives depend on the decisions you make.  Read this chapter twice for good measure.  For me, this was the most important chapter of the whole book.

The fifth chapter is all about fishing and covers the basics - reels, rods, fishing line, hooks, lures, and baits.  I thought the section on using birds to guide you to fish was really interesting.  Did you know that every species of fish has a preferred temperature zone that they like to stay in?  There is a four page chart listing different species and what their upper to lower temperature ranges are.  If you like to fish, this chapter is for you.

Chapter six covers everything you need to know about freshwater game fish and chapter seven covers saltwater fish.  There is a huge list of fish, each accompanied by a color drawing and an in-depth description about that fish, where they range, their habitat, size, what they eat, best fishing methods and the baits to use.  These two chapters are not only informative, but they are interesting as well.

So now you've gone out and caught some fish - what's next?  There is nothing quite like fresh fish for dinner and chapter eight covers all the bases.  Learn how to field dress and fillet fish, which species taste the best, how to properly use a fillet knife, and how to smoke or freeze them.  Complete with color photographs, you'll learn how to fillet a fish in no time.  Now I have a taste for a bluegill dinner.

Chapter Nine touches on the all important subject of survival.  Learn how to properly prepare a survival kit, signal for help, make a solar still for safe drinking water, and surviving the heat and cold.   One item that I was particularly interested in is the Lifestraw Personal Water Filter.  It's a 2 ounce filter that lets you drink directly from lakes and rivers like using a straw.   Chances are, you may never need to apply any of these survival tips, but it's always wise to be prepared, right?

The final chapter is really useful in all walks of life, not just when you're on the water.  First aid techniques are always good to know and you should be able to recognize and reduce internal and external bleeding, stop a nosebleed, apply a tourniquet, provide artificial respiration, and perform the Heimlich Maneuver.  There are 4 types of venomous snakes in the United States and if you spend time in the outdoors you should know how to recognize them and what to do if you've been bitten by one.  Equally important is how to deal with spiders, scorpions and ticks.  Steer clear of poison ivy, oak and sumac by looking at the drawings and find out how to relieve symptoms if you're unlucky enough to stumble through a patch.  Sunstroke, hypothermia and frostbite are all covered in detail and if you plunge a fish hook into your finger (as I have done) you can usually remove it yourself without a trip to the hospital.  Brush up on your first aid - you never know when it can come in handy.

Complete Guide to Boating and Seamanship should get you well on your way to hours of enjoyment on the water, be it river, lake or ocean.  Vin Sparano's books set the standard in excellence.  I know because I've had the pleasure of reviewing several of them and I can promise you that each one is loaded with valuable information, colorful photos, tips galore and wonderful stories.  One of my favorites from this book is how a Key West charter boat captain sacrificed  $ 2,000.00 worth of equipment in an attempt to land not one, not two, but three blue marlin at one time.  And that's no fish story.  Pick up a copy of Complete Guide to Boating and Seamanship.  I'll see you on the water!

(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Photo images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.) 

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