Brookield Zoo

Brookield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Royal Red Shrimp Boil

Our first knowledge of this species of shrimp was from our friends Steve and Debbie McCormack from the blog Down the Road. As we traveled back to IL after our winter in AZ, we stopped in Waveland, MS. Steve and Debbie told us that we needed to find a restaurant that served "Reds". We have had shrimp before but they told us we REALLY needed to eat some of these while we were along the Gulf Coast. Royal Reds are a tastier species compared to the pink, white, and brown varieties. Not many folks have even heard of the Royal Red before the mid-90s, (I never had) but it has since grown to be very popular with locals and well-informed tourists along the Gulf Coast. Royal Red Shrimp can be identified by their large size, rich crimson color and their naturally salty and flavorful taste that has been compared to both Lobster and Bay Scallops. Royal Reds can be found all year long, However the Royal Red season runs from late summer through the end of fall. If you’re hungry for the freshest possible Royal Reds, try ordering them during the peak month of September.

Because they prefer sandy environments and cool temperatures, the Royal Red Shrimp live at distances that reach sixty miles from the Alabama shoreline and only a select few Gulf Coast fishermen are licensed to harvest Royal Reds, which are immediately frozen when they’re brought on board because of the distances that Royal Red shrimpers must travel. Royal Red Shrimp, whether bought from a distributor or ordered at a restaurant, may run a higher price because of their incomparable flavor and texture.

We ordered our first "Reds" at the Blind Tiger Restaurant in Bay St. Louis, MS just down the road from the Buccaneer SP where we were staying. The restaurant steams their Reds so we ordered a pound to share. These shrimp are large, rich texture and meaty and as Debbie told us....they have an almost buttery flavor even before dipping in drawn butter.. Ours already had the heads taken off. (This is important in a moment) We fell in love with these shrimp and had to have more on our way back to AZ this winter. So when we stopped in Gulf Shores, AL and stayed at Gulf SP we found another restaurant called The Steamer and Oyster Bar right off beach. We went in and ordered a pound of Royal Reds. This time when they waitress brought out the Reds.....They had their heads on.

We should have been prepared for that event but we never had shrimp that way before. Alright then...We rolled up our sleeves and dove into the shrimp. Pulling the heads off and the tails. Peeling the outer shell off and savoring the flavor as we chowed down.


We couldn't get enough. We knew that we wouldn't be near the gulf this winter so we found a seafood market near the park and ordered 2 pounds to take with us. The market flash freezes the shrimp and they come pre packaged in 1 pound bags. We hurried back to the rig and got them in the freezer and dreamed about when we could get our hands on this delicacy again while in AZ.

Last winter we made good friends with a Canadian couple, Ron and Patsy, who I 've spoken of before. They were going to be coming back to the RV park here in Gold Canyon a couple weeks after we arrived so we decided to introduce them to Royal Reds. They have a home in the park with more room than we have in the rig so once they got settled back in a their home we offered to share our cache of shrimp with them. We settled on a date to get together and brought our shrimp, salad and some wine to their home for a BOIL. Patsy made some fried rice and steamed asparagus. The other Reds we had, as I said, were steamed and we had never boiled shrimp ourselves before. So we cleaned up the shrimp and got them in the boiling water with a little seasoning.

We had done some research on how long to boil and what they should look like. We found that because they make their home in deeper waters than other Alabama Shrimps, Royal Reds have a natural saltiness to their taste, so you don't need to add a lot of extra salt to your other ingredients. Just make sure you’re careful about overcooking when dealing with Royal Reds; these Shrimp are naturally a pinkish color even when raw, and it only takes half the time to cook them compared to Pinks, Whites or Browns. We also found that boiling with the headed on, we should look for some white froth coming out around the head. Once we saw that we strained them and cooled them a little and got busy.

Watching a pot boil
 
Their done 

Finished product

Time to dig in
 

So delicious and so happy to share with our good friends from Canada. We had a great evening playing cards and a new board game called Sequence. We look forward to more dinners with our friends, games and of course, hiking. Oh and more Reds in the future. Guess we'll have to travel back to the gulf Coast again. I'm loving this retirement thing, for sure.



 
Here's looking at you kid.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Veterans Day Observance, Waxing the rig, A Rainbow and Pizza

Activities continue here at our winter stop, Canyon Vistas RV Resort. Last week the park had a Veterans Day parade, flag retiring and new flag raising in tribute to all the veterans that have served our country. A local high school band performed during the parade and the flag ceremony. The event was very respectful and moving since many residents here are military veterans from several wars.

Thank you to my Dad, my son and brother in law for their serve.
 




A number of folks decorated their golf carts and followed the band in the parade.Even the Canadian residents showed their respect. Perfect day for observing the sacrifices of our veterans.

With the great weather and having had the rig pressure washed the week before I was able to get started on waxing the rig. I first got on the roof and used some UV protectant and then after the sun was lower I got to work waxing the front cap. The job was made a lot easier with my new buffer I got this summer. Wax on, Wax off.




Camp Lowry is starting to look real good.
 
Still a lot to go with waxing but it's a start. We've had some rainy days lately so waxing has been put off but after today the sun is supposed to shine again and I can get going on the rest. However with the rain comes a rainbow and we were blessed to be able to get some photos of a beautiful rainbow over Superstition Mountain yesterday.
 
 
Click on the photos for better viewing
The rainbow was so wide I couldn't get the whole thing

Superstition Mountain

 
People were pulling off the side of the road in awe of the sight. Me included. These photos were just with my IPhone. I'm sure others with better cameras and lens were able to get some spectacular pictures. I'm happy with these though. Rainbows are beautiful but the mountains just make them better. My opinion.
 
We had a chance to get together last weekend to go for some pizza with our son. He recommended going to Gilbert, AZ. We went to Oregano's Chicago Style Pizza on Gilbert Rd. There are several location in the area. They have a great supreme type pizza with a thin crust. The crust was paper thin and perfectly crunchy. It's called the Numero One-O 
The menu reads like this:The name says it all. A traditional combo of house made sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and mozzarella cheese makes one really tasty pizza. It's a must-have.A definite return visit is in order.
 
 
 
I continue to play Pickleball and we've done a little more hiking. More to come on our hike to Silly Mountain and our Shrimp boil with our Canadian friends, Ron and Patsy. 

 
Thanks for following along.
 
 
 





Sunday, November 8, 2015

More arrivals, more activity and more hiking

Our Canadian friends, Ron and Patsy, arrived at the end of Oct along with more and more park residents. As the weather has turned cooler in the north and the temperatures in AZ are more comfortable the mass arrivals are beginning. We were very happy to see our friends and have been getting together with them regularly. We've been playing cards, board games and getting to the pool for some relaxation. Ever since we got here I've been wanting to go to Dirtwater Springs Restaurant in Apache Junction for the All You Can Eat Alaskan Cod so last week we went with Ron and Patsy. Ron and I definitely got our monies worth. I know I'll be able to talk them into going again. :-)

 I, of course, have been playing Pickleball about 2-3 times a week and played some more golf. Glenda is going to the line dancing lessons that just started last week. Last winter I posted a lot about my hiking with the RV park hiking club which hasn't started yet so to get myself back into shape Glenda and I got our first hike in on the Lost Gold Mine Trail last week. It's an easy terrain trail and very scenic. A great first hiking adventure.
 
Click on photos to enlarge
Lost Gold Mine Trail

Saguaros, Cholla and the moon

Trail to the Gold Mine?

Horsemen on the trail

My hiking companion

We spent about 2-2 1/2 hours on the trail. As you can see in the photos we had to share the trail with some horsemen/women. One of the horses had some hoof covers to give the horse better traction and protect the horses feet. We had a great time and enjoyed that first hike.

Last week we got the rig washed by a professional pressure wash company. It looks great and now it's time for me to do some waxing. The plan is to do it in sections. Some in the mornings and some in the late afternoon when the sun is lower. First I have to apply some UV protection to the roof. If you're going to play, you have to pay. Ha ha. Actually waxing the rig is long overdue. We did put some new rug step covers on and I put wheel covers on the tires for the winter. Before applying the covers I put some UV protectant on the tires. This will reduce tire deterioration and cracking. The rig is looking really sharp. Once the wax is applied the rig will be in great shape for the winter.

On Friday we got together with Ron and Patsy and did a more strenuous hike up Siphon Draw toward Flat Iron. Siphon Draw is the lower portion of the more challenging hike up to Flat Iron. The trail begins at about a 10% grade and leads to a section of flat rock called "The Bowl". The trail is somewhat rocky but mainly dirt. We took our time and stayed hydrated. Once we got to "The Bowl" we stopped for some lunch and watched folks that had started earlier and were coming down from the top of Flat Iron. Round trip was about 4 hours or so. We all hit the pool and hot tub the next day.
 
Click on the photos to enlarge
 


 

                                                                                 Praying Hands Rock
 

Glenda, Patsy and Ron below



                                   Flat Iron to the right

The Bowl

Glenda enjoying lunch

Ron and Patsy

Our RV friends, Steve and Debbie will be coming to the area in January and Debbie wants to go the top of Flat Iron. She tried last spring but wasn't able to get up the last section so I have to get into shape to help her make it this time. The views are spectacular and even though it will be a challenge to get back up there, I know it will be worth it and see the look on her face too.

                                                         Some photos from last year.

The view of the RV park(top, middle) from Flat Iron

Looking out from the top

View down to Flat Iron from the Hoodoos above

On top of the world

We're feeling more comfortable this year since we know more folks and are able to renew our friendships. We really enjoy moving around the country(lot more to see)but it's nice to put down some roots for a short time. RV parks aren't for everyone but this is how WE'RE doing it. I know I'll be ready to start moving again in the spring. Making plans for our travels next spring/summer but for now this is paradise.

P.S.   I've lost almost 7 lbs. since we arrived. Another good thing about being here.