Passionate About Photography

Sunday mornings are great for a short drive to a beautiful place to enjoy nature and take photographs.  In fact, almost any morning is a great time for a drive since being retired! We have several favorite destinations, which include the House of Refuge on Hutchinson Island (Stuart, Fl), Jupiter Island’s Blowing Rock Preserve, and Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach.  Any of these locations will provide hours of entertainment. Read More

For the Love of Goat Cheese

Generally speaking, most people would expect to have a souffle for dessert, but we found a great recipe on Epicurious that we like to serve as a first course.  That is because the main ingredient in the souffle is goat cheese.  This souffle is a great starter to a main course of beef tenderloin or rack of lamb.  It is not as intimidating as a dessert souffle and can be made ahead and refrigerated.

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Goat Cheese Souffle – Ingredients

2 4-ounce logs soft fresh goat cheese

2/3 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)

4 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

6 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter six 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups.

Cut one 4-ounce goat cheese log into 6 equal rounds. Place 1 round in each prepared dish. Crumble remaining 4-ounce cheese log into large bowl.

Bring milk to simmer in small saucepan. Remove from heat. Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in hot milk. Continue cooking until mixture is smooth and resembles thick paste, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Pour mixture over crumbled goat cheese in large bowl. Whisk in Parmesan, yolks, herbs and pepper. Cool soufflé base to lukewarm.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon salt in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Gently fold 1/4 of egg whites into lukewarm soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining egg whites. Divide soufflé mixture among prepared dishes. Transfer dishes to baking sheet and bake until soufflés are puffed and golden brown on top, about 22 minutes.

Place soufflé dishes on serving plates. Alternative: let souffles cool to room temperature and remove  from baking dishes, (slide a butter knife gently around the inside of the cup to loosen) wrap individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  To serve: preheat oven to 350, unwrap souffles and bring to room temperature on a cookie sheet.  Place in oven and heat through, about 10 minutes.  

Note:  We have served the souffles with mixed greens and Raspberry Vinaigrette, alongside a Caesar salad (middle picture) and with the Roasted Pear that we shared with you in a previous post. Obviously, it is very versatile and can be accompanied however you like!

Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Mix 1 Cup fresh Raspberries with 1 tablespoon sugar.  Let stand for about 10 minutes then mash with a fork until juicy. Place in a salad dressing container and add 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey and salt to taste.  Shake, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Plating the Salad

Toss greens with desired dressing, add about 1/2 cup per serving to a salad dish and top with the souffle.  If serving directly from the oven, set the baking dish on a plate and add salad greens alongside.  The souffle will deflate quickly, which is why we like to remove them from the baking dish and place on top of the salad.  It still tastes just as delicious.

The Raspberry Vinaigrette recipe is from Allrecipes.  We use this cooking site and Epicurious  religiously as their recipes are highly reliable.  We often tweak, or create our own recipes, but for the most part, we use reliable sources.

 

Bok Tower Gardens with a Side Trip

Florida is a long, narrow peninsula which enables us to visit many destinations as a day trip – no overnight stay required.  That works for us because we are spontaneous travelers for the most part. It is nice to decide on Friday to take a drive on Sunday and be greeted by something beautiful and interesting just a couple of hours away.  Lake Wales is one such place.  It is located in the middle of the state, about two hours from our home.  There are several reasons that you might want to visit there, but our favorite is the Bok Tower Gardens and Pinewood Estate. The Gardens and Estate are open year round, with some blackout dates.  Please check the schedule on their website before you go. Our favorite times to visit are at Christmas and in the Spring.   Springtime offers a glorious display of azaleas and camellias while the winter draw is the fully decorated Pinewood Estate. The home was built in the 1930’s for Bethlehem Steel Executive,  Charles Buck. The Mediterranean style home has distinct Latin influences throughout that reflect the owner’s interests.  It is well worth a tour even when not decorated for Christmas.

The photography enthusiast will appreciate the reflective pond in front of the tower.  Find just the right spot to set up your tripod and you will be rewarded with a full reflection of the tower.  The photo below will give you an idea of the possibilities.

Admission is reasonable at $18 per person and you can likely find a Groupon or other discount rate through a search on the internet.  Plan several hours here to fully enjoy the gardens and home.  The walking trails meander throughout the estate and vary from gravel to paved paths, so sturdy walking shoes are suggested.

Pack a lunch and eat on the grounds, or enjoy something from the menu at the Blue Palmetto Cafe.  As a side note, bicycles are not allowed inside the gardens.

Extend Your Stay

If you happen to have your bikes with you and want to extend your trip overnight, head North to Winter Garden, which is about one hour away.  There you can ride the West Orange Blossom Trail.  This well marked, paved trail extends 22 miles from the Orange/Lake County line, through  Killarney, Oakland,  the city of Winter Garden, and downtown Apopka.  We mapped a ride of about eighteen miles and took our time, enjoying several rest stops along the way.  Our favorite stop was in downtown Winter Garden for a slice of pizza at the Winter Garden Pizza Company.  Of course, you can skip the pizza (that would be criminal) and power ride the entire trail if that is more your thing.  The full trail does not loop around, but there are sections that do. It is shaded in areas and exposed in others.  Most of the trail is scenic, however, it does wind through a couple of residential and industrial areas.  Take a look at the Park website here to plan your ride.

 

Gasparilla Inn Food and Wine Weekend

The start of a new year is a good time for resolving to break bad habits and begin positive new ones.  One of my favorite resolutions, and the one that we made together some years ago, was to devote more of our travel time to seeing our own back yard – Florida.

We have stayed true to our resolution and continue to seek out new experiences within our state. We will share many of our adventures here, both past and future.  Our Florida excursions are typically laid back, casual, bikes on the rack kind of trips. But, once in a while we stumble onto something really special.  The Food and Wine Weekend at Boca Grande has become one of those treats.  Malcolm and I are passionate about many things, but food and wine top the list.  To have this weekend right in our “back yard” is incredible.

This  is an annual event that brings guest Chefs and wine Vintners together for a weekend of incredible food, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and a seven course Master Chefs dinner that is incomparable.   The weekend begins on Friday night with a “taste around the world” dinner party at the beach-side pavilion across the street from the Gasparilla Inn, which hosts the entire weekend.  Saturday is filled with wine tastings and cooking demonstrations from renowned Chefs.  The really neat thing is that the Chefs liberally share cooking techniques, restaurant “shortcuts” and recipes with participants.  I love that no question is ever too basic.  One big take-away from the weekend is always the recipes!

Time is allowed for lunch on your own, but we rarely make it to one of the Inn’s suggested restaurants since we tend to fill up on the Chef’s delicious samples.  Saturday night kicks off with a cocktail party at the Inn, followed by a formal diner prepared by all of the Master Chefs.  Caution, this night should only be experienced by those who love, I mean really LOVE food that is inventive, expertly prepared and masterfully presented.

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Off to Dinner

One of the featured Chefs at the 2016 Food and Wine Weekend was renowned Chef John Folse of New Orleans. We attended a demonstration in which he prepared Osso Buco with stone ground grits. The grits were rich with heavy cream and butter and the Osso Buco was generously seasoned and fall off the bone delicious.  Forget counting calories this weekend and simply enjoy.

 

Our favorite wine sampling was a Newton unfiltered Chardonay that was served at the around the world reception on Friday night.  There was also a lovely assortment of Greek wines that were represented by the Vintner himself.  All of the Vintners and Chefs were accessible throughout the weekend to answer questions and provide expert instruction.

A Few of the Many Tasting Samples 

 

The Inn

The Gasparilla Inn is the most gracious Inn of it’s era still in operation.  The hotel offers rooms, suites and cottages, and sits within walking distance of the Gulf.  Amenities include golf, tennis, croquet, boating, spa services and beach side dining to name a few. You can check out their website here to plan your special experience.

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Taking a break on the porch of the Gasparilla Inn

The 2017 Food and Wine weekend is scheduled for January 13 – 15.

 

Welcome to Picture Retirement

We have been doing this ‘retirement thing’ since 2006 and in the beginning, we struggled to find our “new identity” as a retired couple. But, through trial and error we have managed to get to a comfortable place where we at least know what we want out of our retirement years.  What we want, is to have a home base that is reasonably close to where our daughter lives, some time set aside each year for travel and adventure, and a balanced lifestyle that includes hobbies, volunteer work, friends and family. Fitness and health are very important at this stage of life and while we do pay attention, we are not fanatical about what we eat or how much we exercise.  All things in moderation works for us.

We live in Florida where the sun shines 95% of the time and temperatures average in the 80’s for most of the year.  We are surrounded by water and flat terrain.  Both of which provide great opportunities to get out and enjoy the outdoors.  We have access to several international airports, universities, hospitals, theaters and fine dining establishments. Our town has a well-developed network of volunteer opportunities and an abundance of community activities that can be attended for free.

We can watch the sunrise on the Atlantic and set on the Gulf of Mexico in the same day, should we chose to do so. Coast to coast is a short three-hour drive.  The Florida Keys are a bit further, but still accessible, and the Forgotten Coast is a day trip away.  Our beloved Treasure Coast provides a myriad of activities, with nooks and crannies still to be discovered.  From Tallahassee to Miami, our cities and towns are culturally diverse, laid back, trendy, eclectic and always fun to visit.  We have more State Parks than we could ever visit, although we are trying and our wetlands and preserves are teeming with nature just waiting for the avid photographer to discover.  This is paradise, and we get to call it home!

Photography is a hobby that we both enjoy and our blog posts are picture intensive. All of the photographs here were taken by either Malcolm or myself.  You are welcome to copy and share, but please give photo credit to “Picture Retirement.” You will find more of our photography on Instagram at Picture_Retirement.

We hope you will follow along as we continue our journey.

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