Simple Tomato Salad

The leftovers demonstrate what epople choose so lets take a look at testing a dish and how to come to a consensus. To me this means listen carefully to the consumers (those you are serving) and look at the bowl following the meal to see what is left over. These two simple measuremenbts are key in recipe development. They have been a great guide for decades. It just works!

I am always reminded of a time we wer on the way to a pot luck at our son’s school. Everyone brought fancy salads, some of which were hard to recognize what was in them. Over initial protests from my honey, I  was allowed to bring a large bowl of mashed potatoes. Next to all the fancy dishes at the party, it may have seemed a bit plain. The truth was revealed at the end of the dinner party bya simple comparison of a bowl that is completely empty next to some that have barely been touched. It was easy to see that this was the most popular dish of all. That Mashed potato bowl scraped clean, and I mean really clean.

Now I love to use this measuring method when I make a new dish Such is the case with this Simple Tomato Salad. The bowl returns empty, and the guests are oh so pleased. I think  you will be too. Enjoy!

Tomato Salad by Charley Carlin

Simple and Popular Tomato Salad


A Pile of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
A couple clove garlic, finely minced
A splash of olive oil
A splash of seasoned rice vinegar
A small pile of minced cilantro
A dash of salt
Possibly a pinch of pepper
Oh Yes, I liked to add a couple minced scallions too!

Mix it all and chill and serve!
Make it in the Morning and you have one dish for dinner completed!
Way to easy.

Charley Carlin - Blogger!

Charley Carlin

About The Chef

Charley Carlin loves to scan recipes on the internet and put them in the blender of his mind to create combinations that come from the ingredients he typically has in his kitchen. Flavor and colorful presentation are paro pf the joy of cooling.

Charley Favorite Chili Verde

We love Mexican Food. We Love It! If we don’t have Mexican food for a couple of days, the cravings start. So we take recipes and modify them to match our cooking style, our available ingredients and of course our taste. Seems simple enough. And when easy recipes hit the jackpot, I am ready to use them again and again and share them with friends as we carry on about our recipes.

So, after several attempts at Chili Verde, Anet, Judith and I agreed that this is our favorite Chili Verde recipe. It is suited our taste buds very well. The biggest problem is that we want to eat more, even when we are full.

One Brown Onion – Minced and two or three three fresh jalapenos seeded, minced and sauteed

a pound or so of pork (loins, chops or whatever) cut into cubes (your choice of size  – say half inch cubes) and browned in a bit of oil.

put it all into a crock pot with a couple cups of Herdez Green Chili Verde Salsa – enough salsa to cover the ingredients 

Mix gently and Let it cook on medium for a couple hours (or more) and serve over rice (or just bet a big bowl of it!).

Easy, Tasty, Satisfying, Smells terrific, and We are happy. Herdez - Fabulous - Charley Carlin

I have found that I like to add potatoes as well (or instead of) with the pork. I chunk the potatoes and boil them till fully cooked, rinse and add them to the mix – and extra sauce if needed Keep everything covered and the masterpiece is on the way..

Do the same with carrots as well. works great, tastes great and We Love It!

Vasa Museum

The Vasa Museum is by far the most outstanding museum I visited on a recent trip thru Scandinavia. According to the museum guide the Vasa Museum has had over 25 million visitors and is far and away the most visited museum in all of Scandinavia. Upon entering the parking lot our tour guide noted that the real hot spot the could cause world war III was the parking lot for your buses, vans and taxis. Apparently some very heated arguments arise over parking due to the popularity of the museum.The Vasa Bow By Stupid Vacations

After entering the museum, it is so modern looking and there were over two hundred architects vied for the chance to have their designs chosen. It is a very interesting museum from the outside, but the most impressive, breathtaking first view of the Vasa is incredible.

To consider that a warship of this size – 226 feet in length armament – 64 cannons – that launched in 1628, and sank less than an hour later, has been preserved and restored for all to see is way beyond any superlative I can come up with.

Referred to by some of the workers as the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, it is again amazing that they claim to have 97 percent of the original pieces. The have over the course of 30 plus years figured out how to protect the original parts so they can be seen by future generations.

The ship on its maiden voyage sailed about 1400 feet, fell over and sank. The bronze cannons were recovered and the rest was left to the sea. Luckily, as I understood the speaker, the mud was a low oxygen content so the ship was preserved. In the early 1960’s recovery started and the results are now available for all to see.Broadside Vasa - By Stupid Vacations

The question arises – What is so important about a ship with such poor engineering that it immediately sank? – Well I asked that question and was informed of a different point of view. Yes, the ship design is not one that will be used as the blueprint for a duplicate. The Vasa does give us pure insight into the building styles, and other construction techniques, that might have never been able to be examined with our eyes of today. I don’t think it is much of a stretch to say that there are not many boats avail to examine that were built in 1628.

This museum is a definite must see when you are in Stockholm. Don’t miss this one. Oh yes, do your homework on the web prior to arrival to minimize the overwhelm when viewing this fabulous artifact in person. The Vasa - Stupid Vacations

Nedra Wood

Nedra Mae Wood, 81, of Garrison, Texas passed away on May 16, 2020 in Garrison, Texas. 

1938 - 2020 Nedra Wood

1938 – 2020
Nedra Mae Wood

Born November 10, 1938 in Tucson, Arizona, to the late Howard Wood and Anna (Mustain) Wood.  A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Nedra was only a small child living during the depression when she lost her mother, then a little while later her father.  She was graciously taken in by her aunt and raised just like her own.  While she persevered through life, she was a very talented artist, creating many pieces of her own throughout the years.  Nedra was a devoted, loyal friend.  She loved to be outdoors and was an avid gardener.  Her loving spirit and kind soul will be missed.

She is survived by her special friend, Sally Langston; and numerous cousins; and a host of family and friends that will miss her dearly. Continue reading

Charley’s Fajita Spice Mix

We consulted the internet and found several recipes, examining the feel, flavor, and core tastes of the fajita spice mix! To get the taste that other chefs like and modify it to match our tastes and our pantry is always the challenge, but I find it really easy!  A little more of this, a little less of that, oh my we have noe of this, or something like that and you will be file. Some leave out the garlic, some leave out the cayenne, everyone has their fears, loves, and exclusions. I encourage you to develop your own version, we have fun, and you just might too!  

So here it comes, our version:


1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder (optional)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

No Disclaimers, Only good tastes, every different version is like going to a different restaurant.


Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Try this soup once and you will always remember it! Having achieved rave reviews around the table Butternut Squash Soup is a winner!


butter 1 Cube new line chopped onions three cups
chopped carrots four each
chopped celery three stalks
butternut squash cubes 8 cups
garlic cloves minced 3
chicken stock 8 cups
oregano 1 teaspoon
Granny Smith apples peeled cored diced three each
curry powder 1 tbsp
Dill 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon creme fresh (garnish)

saute onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in butter until onion is transparent
add cubed squash apples and chicken broth
add all seasonings similar until squash and carrots are soft about 40 minutes
use an emersion blender or regular blender to cream soup mix until smooth
adjust seasoning with salt (if needed)
For service, garnish with Creme Fresh and fresh dill

Will pair nicely with a good chardonnay.
Serves 16 (1-cup servings)

Thanks to Cheryl Keast for this wonderful recipe. Everyone ate three bowls and all were too full for the main course! Wow! Thanks!

Hibernation in the Heat

I believe we are all familiar with the quality of hibernation from stories we were told as children, or we saw on the television. I do remember from the Disney show in my youth seeing this defined.
So on a trip once a few years back while at a roadside rest in the Mojave, I learned that snakes do a similar form of ‘hibernation’ in the hottest part of the summer called estivation. Now for reptiles that slow down during cold weather there is Brumation. So many words and such fun adding another one to the vocabulary, unless you were already familiar with all this. Enjoy!
Read on for the rest of the story Continue reading

Gullfoss Waterfalls

The Gullfoss Waterfalls outside Reykjavik, are a few steps beyond impressive. We arrived on the site near the fall where there is a small shop, a restaurant, and a post office box. There is a medium sized parking lot and lots of tour buses and cars and vans and more with a line of people walking up to the viewing area. There is a fork in the road, with one path leading up to the upper falls and it looked like a single file line that stretched to whole way, maybe almost a mile, and it seemed never ending. People coming and going to get a couple minutes with a close up view and a few photos.
The alternate path went down several large stairways with viewing platforms along the way. Visitors were warned to remember that what goes down must come up. And for the average age group of the visitors, going up would be taxing.
The scope of the falls is near impossible to get from a picture. Saying the falls are huge, or gigantic, or even ginormous do not do them justice. Having visited Niagara Falls last year and completely enjoying their grandeur, I must report that Niagara has a longer drop, while Gullfoss has a wider span with a two tiered drop. Now depending on which one you visited lately, might sway your opinion. Also depending upon your heritage you might vote for one over the other. Additionally the event surrounding your visit, like a proposal or honeymoon, might cloud your objectivity in choosing the greatest of the two.
Rather that take sides I will say the the people of Iceland are sure that Gullfoss is greater than Niagara and while I was looking at the falls I agreed with them.
Today, after consideration and much thought, I will declare that they are both knockouts for beauty and impressiveness. Definitely a must see, both of them.

50 Shades of Yellow

Journalism and reporting takes on many shades of yellow. Even when telling stories around the campfire, some can spin better yarns than others. The competition to create a darker and darker story seems endless. Many think they are ‘telling the truth’ when it is usually they are simply telling their versions or ‘side of the story’. Imagine an investigator trying to solve a crime, or an arbitrator attempting to get the ‘facts’ straight. What a puzzle!

First Rule of Investigation

I know one investigator who says the first rule of investigation is that everybody lies. Indeed it is so. The words we use and their personally attached interpretations, meanings and anchors often seriously complicate our ability to lift the fog of our misunderstandings.
Let’s examine one of my favorite misinterpretation quagmires which got my attention some time ago.
So a little background first. A long time ago there were crusaders. Crusaders sure sound like good guys, but are they? Depends on what the cause is and what you believe is the right way to handle it. Near the crusaders were reformers who were surely trying to bring knowledge to those they perceived were in need of enlightenment.

Who is the Good Guy?

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Zanskar Girls School – Preserving Tibetan Culture

The Zanskar Girls School Project seeks to educate young women and preserve Tibetan Culture. Located in North Eastern India in the State of Kargil, near Tibet,  are some remnants of Tibetan Culture. The Zanskar Valley, which is isolated during five winter months, has a one room school with sixteen girls who live and learn for seven months of the year. They learn English, Indian, reading, writing and arithmetic, but importantly they learn of their Tibetan Culture, Peace, Buddhism and the Tibetan Language.

Zanskar Girls School - Young Tibetan Women

Zanskar Valley School

We wish to improve the conditions of the school and these women by supporting their growth and operation.  There are three nuns who are the instructors. We are working to give support to build another room and allow more students to attend. Girls go to school here till eighteen, when they decide to become nuns, or go into the world and have families. The need to educate women is an important world issue, and we find this to be a fitting location to give our support.
Continue reading