Tuesday, October 31, 2006

simbabushka


Even though Simba sternly rebuffed me the last time I broached the subject of a Halloween costume, this morning I just couldn't resist asking him again. Now, Simba has a very soft spot in his heart for grandmothers. They are soft, and gentle, and make sweet murmuring sounds when they see him. They sneak him little bits of food when I'm not looking, knowing full well that a grandmother has license to break rules that others must obey. When he rolls over on his back they ooo and ah over his tummy and simply cannot resist reaching for it. Yes, grandmothers are a special lot.

So when I showed him the babushka kerchief, and asked if I could take a picture of him in it, I could see the memories in his eyes. Look, you can almost see a grandmotherly figure in his right eye, right there, see?

He let me tie the kerchief on without complaint. He even consented to look right into the camera.

Simbabushka. It's probably exactly what his own dear grandmother looked like, don't you think?

Hey, dog lovers! This Sunday night, we can expect to see lots of canine hijinks over at Weekend Dog Blogging at Sweetnick's place. Head on over for head shots, tummy shots, jump shots and what nots!

Monday, October 30, 2006

cloudy monday #1

It seems as if most people around here dislike November, because it tends to be cloudy and thus gloomy. I've always liked it. November clouds seem magnificent to me, full of majesty and character, unlike most summer clouds.

This year, we've had November clouds in October. It's truly been a banner month for them. So I've decided to start a "cloudy monday" theme here on my blog. Each Monday, I'll post one of the photos I've taken of clouds. If you'd like to join in, just send me a link to your cloud pictures and I'll add them to mine the following Monday. If nobody else joins, well, that's OK. I just want to share these shots with you.

The picture above was taken Thursday. I parked on a quiet overpass on I-89 and took shot after shot of the changing clouds to the south of me. They seemed to be swirling: the ones to the left were clearly moving to the right, and the ones on the right were moving to the left. Somehow I happened upon them right in the middle of all this excitation.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

roasting and pureeing butternut squash

As I mentioned in my previous post, about half of our lovely harvest of butternut squash has turned into wrinkly scary-looking old squishes, just in time for Halloween. but not really a happy sight for someone who hoped to keep them in the cellar and eat them gradually throughout the winter! When I cut into them, they look OK, but it's hard to believe that they won't get progressively more wrinkly and at some point become inedible. So, I've spent the past couple of days roasting and pureeing about 10 squash.

It would be feasible to roast and puree them without adding anything to them, especially if you're thinking of adding them to recipes such as this incredibly yummy soup. But I reasoned that I'd like the flexibility of scooping some out into a bowl to eat, or adding it to a recipe, so I went ahead and prepared it for the table by adding a little unsalted butter, skim milk, and salt. It's so yummy that way. I found myself completely unable to put it all in refrigerator containers. It's like frosting ... you just have to lick the bowl, and of course you have to not scrape the bowl very clean before doing so. :o)

When you cook this many of one item, you learn to be a bit more efficient. Most recipes will tell you to cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove the strings and seeds, and roast cut-side down on a greased baking sheet or dish. I've always hated that. They can be hard to cut, and then there's those darn strings and seeds to get out! A long time ago, I posted a request for recommendations on how to get rid of the durn things easily. I got no responses, so I either you guys all find it really easy and don't know what I'm fussing about, or you struggle with it too and have no answer. Since then, I read a tip somewhere that said using a grapefruit knife makes it easier. It makes sense, but I haven't tried that yet.

Anyway, yesterday I did the usual halve, seed, and roast bit with my squashes, cooled then a little, then scooped the flesh into the food processor. But I didn't like it that the flesh of the squashes had become brown and crusty where they touched the baking pan. So I decided to try roasting one of the squashes whole, to see how that would work. It was great! It took just a few extra minutes to roast, but the flesh was all soft, and --- best of all --- the seeds and strings were a snap to remove!

Pureed butternut squash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put as many squashes as you'd like on a baking sheet, preferably an insulated one, or a glass baking dish. (If you don't have an insulated baking sheet, try layering two baking sheets so the heat from below doesn't totally toast the squash on one side.) Put the baking sheet or dish in the oven, on a rack in the top or near-top position.

Start testing the squash after about 35 minutes, by piercing them with a skewer in the narrow part of the squash, but not near the stem. Try to get as close as possible to the wide, seedy end as possible; I've discovered that's the part that cooks through last. You want the squash to be absolutely soft and mushy. Overcooking is better than undercooking.

When they're done, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Being careful not to burn yourself, cut the squash in half crosswise at the very top of the seedy end. Then cut each of those sections in half lengthwise. This crosswise-then-lengthwise technique compensates for the softness of the cooked squash. If you cut it lengthwise and try to work with it that way, odds are the squash will collapse in half anyway, and that's much messier than cutting it.

Use a spoon to remove the seeds and strings. Be careful, because they're so soft you might be at risk for removing some of the cooked flesh, too.

Scoop the soft flesh into a food processor. Add a tablespoon or two of unsalted butter, and process till smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides. With the processor running, add a little milk till it's the consistency you want. For a small squash, I used about two tablespoons. Also with the processor running, sprinkle salt to taste. I used a large pinch.
That's it! It's such a beautiful orange-sherbety color, and tastes so smooth and sweet. Butternut has such a wonderful, sweet, mellow flavor. It's not one of those things you have to acquire a taste for. I'd serve this to a baby and I bet it would be eaten all up! If you want to serve it to company, experiment with adding some of the classic pumpkin spices to it: nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice. But don't add too much. It's so good all by itself.

P.S. Tomorrow I plan to kick off a new weekly event. Please stop by to see what it will be!

P.P.S. This post qualifies for ARF 5-a-day! Hurray! Head on over to Sweetnick's for a roundup of anti-oxidant-rich foods and recipes this Tuesday night.

Friday, October 27, 2006

butternut squash, smoked sausage and corn soup

The fabulous Alysha over at The Savory Notebook recently blogged about this soup (that's her photo of it, used with her permission), just as I was posting my plea for butternut recipes. I was excited to try it, because the Huz and I are both nutso for sausages. I have lots of recipes using all kinds of sausage; in fact, may I please point you to a wonderful brand? McKenzie Country Classics bills itself as "Vermont's Original Purveyor of Specialty Meats." I don't know about that, but I do know that when I make gumbo, it's tastiest when I use their kielbasa.

But getting back to the soup: I hadn't intended to try it quite this soon. I just recently made my much-in-demand curried pumpkin soup with mushrooms, and the Huz had it for lunch three times this week. I wasn't sure he would want to eat pumpkin soup for lunch and then come home to butternut soup. But I discovered that some of the beautiful squish sitting on my windowsills are looking a little peaked. See how wrinkly this one is? I'm suspecting we left them out in too-cold weather so they got frostbitten, although I always thought butternuts could take a light frost and keep on tickin'. I guess I thought wrong!

So I cut into one to see if they would still be good. And they were! At least for now. But I probably need to use them up sooner rather than later. (Fortunately, fewer than half are like this. The rest will go into the cellar and be used gradually through the winter.) So I was off & running with this soup recipe of Alysha's.

As I said, I was very interested in trying it. The Huz was slightly less so. When confronted with unusual combinations of things, like squash and sausage, he can be a tad cautious. Not negative, exactly, but not exactly enthused either.

And that's all changed now.

Wowowow! Is this a yummy soup! I did make some adjustments, based on ingredient availability (I had no wild rice nor half-and-half) or preference. So, please take a look at Alysha's original recipe, and then come back and I'll tell you what I changed, in case you'd like to follow my crooked path.

Back already? My, we're speedy, aren't we? Did you even look at the recipe? I only ask because if you didn't, the rest of this will be gibberish to you and so I won't feel offended if you decide to stop reading right here. (Note added later: I decided to write up this recipe with my changes here. Below is a description of the changes I made, with my reasons.)

OK, so for those of you still with me, here's what I changed.
  • Since I didn't have any wild rice, I substituted basmati rice for the wild, and rather than putting it in the soup, I served it on the side. We scooped the rice into our bowls and poured the soup over. I was afraid otherwise it would get mushy. (Actually, I ate mine without the rice and it didn't seem like any sort of deprivation to me!)
  • I substituted evaporated milk for the half & half. I often do that for cream soups. It is far less likely to separate or curdle if the soup gets hot, and it has only 1 gram of fat per tablespoon as compared to 2 for half & half.
  • I used less broth. The total in the original recipe calls for 12 cups of chicken broth, and uses 4 to cook the wild rice. I used one 14-oz can of chicken broth for my basmati rice, one in the squash puree, and only two more in the soup, for a total of 8 cups.
  • I used 3½ pounds of squash, and rather than peeling and cubing it before cooking it, I halved it lengthwise, cooked it with the seeds still in it, and then scooped out the seeds and scooped out the squash right into the food processor. And I didn't have time to let it cool, so it went right into the food processor hot, and right into the stockpot hot too.
  • I used my secret pepper weapon: ground white pepper. It has such a nice, gentle pepper flavor that I can use lots of it without burning my palate. And it is less noticeable visually in light-colored food. I love white pepper! It's a bit softer than black peppercorns, though, so it doesn't grind nicely in my pepper grinder. I find I'm better off buying it already ground. So I substituted that for the freshly ground black pepper the recipe calls for.
  • Because I used regular kielbasa, I didn't use olive oil when sauteeing it, and I didn't add any salt during cooking until the whole soup had come together. Then I salted lightly, perhaps ½ teaspoon did it for me.
Alysha, thank you so much for the inspiration, and I hope you don't mind that I took a bit of a crooked path with your beautiful recipe! (I guess I'm like Kalyn, who says she can never make a recipe as it's written.) (Alysha comments that it's really Emeril's recipe.) (Ok, enough parenthetical remarks. The end!)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

wordless wednesday

Don't forget to visit Sweetnicks this Sunday for Weekend Dog Blogging. Simba made me promise not to dress him up in any silly Halloween costumes, so he won't be featured this week. But I bet the ones that are there will be priceless!
(Follow the links in the sidebar to lots more wordless wednesdays. This is #20!)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

bring in winter squash: check!


More in the saga of last harvests: here's what our wonderful butternut squash vines yielded for us this year, plus a couple that were given away. I'm told they need to spend some time in a sunny windowsill for a few days to "cure" the skin before putting them away in the cellar. Windowsills we've got, sunny they're not, but they've been duly distributed about the house and actually look rather festive in an organic autumnal sort of way.

This many squash will easily last us all winter. I love to make pureed squash with brown sugar and the usual spices. Do you have a favorite squash recipe? I'd love to hear it!

So now all that's left out there is parsley and oregano. And the parsley's going to have to come in soon.

Tales of emerging growing things and notes of encouragement are hereby solicited from denizens of the southern hemisphere!

Monday, October 23, 2006

cloud obsession confirmed

On my trip up north recently, the sky was almost completely obscured with layer upon layer of clouds in varying colors of white, grey and blue. I love travelling on a cloudy day. No glare, no sun beating in and overheating me. But most of all, I love to look at the clouds. I was so glad I had remembered to pack my camera.

When I saw this Casper-y ghost floating across the road, I just had to stop to get a shot of it.

I couldn't decide which picture I liked better, so I'm posting them both. Can you choose a favorite?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Weekend Herby Blogging

We had a great turnout for WHB this weekend, with some intriguing surprises in the entries. It has been much more fun than work to be the host, and my heartfelt thanks go out to Kalyn for sharing the opportunity! And to all you friendly bloggers for sharing your recipes. It's been a great experience for me! But enough about me, let's look at what all of YOU have been cooking this week ...

First up is Gattina from ... um ... Gattina with some cunning little Grape Mini-Cakes. These sweet bite-size delights have some ingredients that made me go back and read the recipe twice. Not to mention some enviably beautiful photos. Check out the entry and see if you don't agree!

If Gattina's goodies didn't raise your eyebrows a bit, then take a quick jaunt over to Brilynn's Jumbo Empanadas for a gander at her beautiful They're Just Brownies... Or Are They? This is Brilynn's first entry to WHB, and I think you'll agree she's a wonderfully creative addition to the crew. Welcome, Brilynn!

Regular contributor Cate of Sweetnicks fame returns from a cruise and wastes not a moment "diving" right in with a selection from the prolific Rachael Ray, Lime Chicken Avocado Salad. Not only is Cate a great cook, but she's also the host for Weekend Dog Blogging, so after you check out her recipe, take a look at all the canine cuties submitted this week, including my very own Simba.

Burcu from Almost Turkish Recipes stops by with an intriguing recipe for Barbunya Beans (Barbunya Pilaki). Don't they look delicious? Burcu tells us that barbunya beans, which are native to Turkey, are very close to roman or red beans. I'm not sure I know what those are, but the recipe is loaded with all kinds of vegetables, parsley, and tomatoes, so it qualifies for WHB on many fronts!

Ruth from Once Upon A Feast has also "over-qualified" for WHB with this yummy-sounding Leek, Mushroom & Swiss Chard Soup. There's just nothing so warming as a bowl of soup, and I don't know about you, but warming is just what's in order in my neck of the woods.

The ever-resourceful Sher found a perfect use for the last tomatoes of the season: doesn't Red Snapper With Warm Tomato-Saffron Vinaigrette sound divine? It sounds as if she's mourning her final tomato harvest much as I lately lamented our final green bean harvest. Commiserations, Sher!

To continue with the prolificness ... prolificity ... prolificousness ... oh, heck! whatever! of Rachael Ray, we have Genie of The Inadvertent Gardener telling us about Iowa City Cowboy Spaghetti, which she assures us makes it onto her table at least weekly. That's a powerful recommendation from a busy cook who rarely repeats recipes. With tons of veggies and even whole wheat pasta, it sounds like a recipe we all might like to give a shot!

From Coffee & Cornbread comes this deceptively simple Warm Tarragon-Dressed Potato Salad. I simply love warm potato salads, and this Nicoise-inspired dressing has me yearning for a few days in the countryside of France.

For a change of pace, Ulrike from K├╝chenlatein brings us a short essay with beautiful photos of the fruit of the blackthorn shrub. The fruit, called sloe, can be made into a liqueur called sloe gin, of the "fizz" fame, but Ulrike discovered a distillery that makes it into a kind of sherry made of sloes.

Speaking of over-achievers, next comes Chrispy of Experimentation of Taste with not one but two entries for WHB this week. First she banishes the grey-weather blues with the ultimate comfort food, Mac N Cheese, which may not seem like a WHB entry until you see the recipe. Then she launches an ode to tomatoes with a Tomato-Ricotta Tart. Each is an excellent reason to skip on over to this busy blogger's site for a visit!

They're just coming into grilling season Down Under, so Ange of Vicious Ange was inspired to Griddled Eggplant with feta, mint & chili. Doesn't that combination sound interesting? And I don't mean the damn-with-faint-praise "interesting," but the really-really sort of interesting. Since we don't have a gas grill and have to wait for the charcoal to heat up each time we use ours, we don't grill in cold weather. This one will have to wait until our grilling season returns. Or perhaps I could prevail upon gas-grilling pals to let me make them at their house. Or hmm, I wonder if I could take that stuffing and use it elsewhere ... hmmm ...

France pops up again, this time in the form of Virginie from Absolutely Green. She shares this simple recipe for Green Tea-Infused Rice. Her blog is written in French, but there are links to get English translations of it and of her post. I just discovered the Google translation tool myself recently. How cunning!

One of the very fun things about hosting WHB has been hearing from folks from around the world. This time it's Haalo, another Australian food blogger, from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once. In case there was any doubt, she proves incontrovertibly that it's mint season in Australia, because her recipe also features mint: Mint Sorbet. Yum.

Skipping back over to Germany, we hear from Anna from Anna's Cool Finds. No, wait, she's from California! I plead that the title of her post confused me: Supper Club - States of Germany. Anna sounds bodaciously self-assured, serving her Cucumber and Potato Soup to 17 other chefs!

My goodness, it is so fun to hear from folks in the southern hemisphere. Here we are, mourning the loss of the harvests from our gardens, and then they come along with posts about heading into summer! Our next entry is from another Anna, of Morsels and Musings, this time from Sydney, Australia. She tells how she grew from hating zucchini to loving it, and shares a recipe for spaghettini con zucchini.

Well, well, well, look who's here. It's Kalyn herself, checking in with an absolutely mouth-watering recipe for Grilled Halibut with Garlic Cilantro Sauce. Halibut is one of my favorite fishes, and I promise not to make any jokes about eating it just for the halibut. Oops! I think I just did! Sorry!

Now along comes Strata from My Bay Area Garden with an article about Extending the Harvest: Peppers & Dill. I was especially interested in her creative use of inter-planting to shade her peppers, but all the solid information about harvesting and storing dill will also be of interest to those of you whose dill hasn't gone dormant for the winter yet ... or those of you whose dill is just now greening up!

Lastly, you DO want to read this post from The Serendipitous Chef on saffron and paella. I give you this quote, which provided me with a surprise chuckle and a fun ending to this roundup:
"... it’s the do what’s necessary to appease the bickering factions lifestyle. The brown rice kept TeenGirl happy, the chicken and lack of sea food kept TeenBoy happy. The absence of protracted arguing kept the Serendipitous Chef happy."
Oh! I nearly forgot to point you to my own contribution, from earlier this week: green beans with toasted walnuts and herbs. Just scroll down to see it. This one is truly a favorite in our house. I'm about to cook up the very last green beans from our garden, and this is the recipe I will use. If you're a green bean lover, do yourself a favor and try it!

That's it for this week, folks. A huge and hearty "THANK YOU!" for joining the fun, whether by blogging or by reading. Next week, Weekend Herb Blogging will be hosted by Fiber of 28 Cooks. Send your entries via e-mail to CLBritto AT LancasterGeneral DOT org.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

get yer Weekend Herb Blogging here!

I'm back from beautiful northern Vermont, which turned unseasonably cold and even snowed last night! The snow melted right away where we were, but this morning the nearby mountaintops were still agreeably sugared with a light dusting. And by the time I left this afternoon, it had not melted. Is that a sign of the sort of winter we can expect? I'm hoping so. (Shh, don't tell the Huz. He does all the snow clearing at our house.)

These pics show the view from the window over the kitchen sink. I was able to catch these shots just as the sun swept across the valley and up onto the mountaintops. Breathtaking.

Please don't be misled into thinking I spent all that much time enjoying the view. As I mentioned, it was a very busy time, with long days agreeably spent in culinary creation, and short sleep times too often spent tossing and turning. Therefore, I am spent.

So anyhoo, the deadline for WHB submissions is fast approaching! Get yer red-hot entries to me (pat DOT langille AT gmail DOT com) by mid-afternoon tomorrow, and I promise I'll have my wits back about me, will stop imitating Depression-era newsboys, and will post the roundup tomorrow evening. Till then, zzzzzzzz ...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

away

I'm off to do some cooking for a group of 20 for a few days. 20 breakfasts, lunches, dinners. 20 mid-morning snacks, mid-afternoon snacks, evening snacks. 20-hour days, nearly! Back this weekend. Tired and happy, I'm sure. See you then.

wordless wednesday

Hey, dog lovers! This Sunday night, we can expect to see lots of canine hijinks over at Weekend Dog Blogging at Sweetnick's place. Head on over for head shots, tummy shots, jump shots and what nots!

Follow the links in the sidebar to lots more wordless wednesdays. This is #19!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

picture of "Connie"

For those of you who asked for a picture or two of the play, here are a few from the rather chaotic finale. Sorry they're not the greatest quality; it's not easy to take photos of a brilliantly-lit stage from a dark theater. I'm just glad to have any pictures at all!

At this point in the play, Connie has poor Alan in a complete dither, convinced she's going to leave him and go to Europe for a fling. This playboy, who thought he was the player, has been played. But she's not just bluffing. If he doesn't decide he wants to settle down, and decide it right now, by Thursday she'll be on a plane to Europe. That's what you see in the rather cool look on her face in the picture on the left. In the picture on the right, he's pleading with her not to go, and she's listening, but so far she hasn't heard the magic words.

Then the phone rings, and he has to take it. She retreats to the couch to consider her position. She has just about decided he's not to be believed; he's still playing games and it's time to just give up and move on. Meantime, his mom, his dad and brother Buddy confer, listen, heckle, whatever. It's quite the Looney Tunes family she's contemplating joining here.

Finally, in a scene that wasn't photographed, he proposes, she accepts, all conflicts are resolved, and everyone leaves to go to a party except Buddy, who's expecting a girl to come by any moment. And there's a quick funny moment at the very end after we're all gone, the doorbell rings, and he rushes over suavely to open it, only to find ... only to find ... but I don't want to spoil ALL the surprises for you!

Monday, October 16, 2006

green beans with toasted walnuts and herbs;
Weekend Herb Blogging

(If you're new to this blog, and a bear lover, please scroll down to see who visited my yard last week!)

Finally! Here's the recipe for green beans that I've been tantalizing you with, lo! these many days. When we had a glut of green beans (sort of like a flock of chickens), I began exploring different recipes for them. Those of you who know me have already surmised the path for my exploration: I made a beeline to my Vegetables Every Day cookbook, doing the "Ask Jack" routine: "What should I do with my green beans, Jack Bishop?"

So I made Green Beans with Bacon and Onion and Braised Green Beans with Soy and Sesame, which were yummy and will be made again. But for hands-down simple and delicious, this recipe zoomed right to the top of my list. I made large pots of it, sent half of them to work with The Huz, and ate the other half myself for lunches and snacks. I even had them for breakfast one morning. It is so incredibly satisfying to eat something right out of your garden that you know is healthful and reasonably low calorie and just ... um ... satisfying!
Green Beans with Toasted Walnuts and Herbs
¼ c chopped walnuts, toasted and cooled *
1 T minced fresh herb such as tarragon, basil, or parsley
1 pound green beans, ends snapped off
Salt
1½ T walnut oil (I used a bit less)
Freshly ground black pepper
  • Bring 2½ quarts of water to boil in a large saucepan.
  • Place the toasted nuts and herbs in a large serving bowl and set aside.
  • Add the green beans and 1 tsp salt to the boiling water. Cook until the beans are tender, about 6 minutes. Drain the beans well and add them to the bowl with the nuts and herbs.
  • Drizzle the oil over the beans and toss gently to coat them evenly.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
*To toast the walnuts, spread them on a baking sheet and bake them in a 300 degree oven until you smell them, about 10 minutes. Or toast them in a dry skillet until fragrant.

*This may seem like very few walnuts, especially if you love nuts as much as I do, but believe me, it's perfect!
I'm sad to say that we harvested our last green beans earlier this week, just before a killing frost. While lifting the vines to find beans hiding under them, I found this perfect picture of the end of the growing season: a red maple leaf that drifted down and somehow got lodged right next to a small green bean. Now, without the vines to replenish them, our supplies are dwindling. Tonight I'm cooking some in a beefsteak braise with tomatoes, wine, potatoes, onions and garlic. I do so love the green bean season. I'm already dreaming of more green bean explorations next summer.

This is my entry in Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging, which is hosted --- well, whaddaya know --- here this weekend! See the rules for Weekend Herb Blogging here, write a post this week about herbs, plants, veggies, or flowers, and send me your entries at [email removed] by midafternoon this Sunday, 10/22, to be included in Sunday's roundup. I am so looking forward to seeing your photo and reading your post, and sharing it with everyone! So rev up your creativity, dig out a favorite cookbook, or do a little research, and let's see what you come up with this week!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

eat & run, ursine version

First of all, I apologize to those of you who connect via a modem. This post is going to take a while to download. I whittled the list of pictures down to 12, from dozens and dozens that I shot, and I just couldn't bring myself to eliminate one more!

About a year & a half ago, I wrote about a little bear who came to visit in the middle of the night and then again the next day, when I could get a picture of her. Check
the post to see the picture. It was shot through a window with a screen on it on a cloudy day, so it's not very clear but she's very cute nonetheless. Read the story to see why I think it's a she.

On 9/25 this year, we had a visit from a bear, larger than that one but still small. It's impossible to tell for sure, of course, but I think this might be the same little girl. This time she was big enough to reach the long hanging feeders, so she was able to whip them off the line hard enough to make all the feeders clang to the ground. Then she settled down and proceeded to spend about 45 minutes cleaning up her mess. Well, at least she cleaned up the seeds. She forgot to hang the feeders back up when she left.

So here are a few pictures of my little bear. Enjoy!

How many feeders do you count on the ground?

In the picture below, I swear she's smiling.
When I called to her to try to get her to look my way, her ears went up and her head swung around, but she was in no way frightened. Just checking it out to see if she needed to be concerned about me.
Don't you love the way her lips are all bunched up here? She was still chewing as she checked me out.
You might think that she was being threatening in these next two pics, but nothing could be farther from the truth. She was yawning.
I changed the setting on my camera to "cloudy" here, which made a big difference on the colors, but I'm not sure it's really an improvement.
I watched her for about 15 minutes. When it became clear she was just going to take up residence for a while until she finished all those seeds, I left her in peace. About 45 minutes later, I came back to check on her, and was startled to find her wandering around on the back deck. In fact, she was right next to the windows! I ran for the camera and barely took this shot before Simba got wind of what was going on and put his nose right next to hers, barking madly.
She decided the risk outweighed the benefit of sticking around, not knowing when the crazy dog might jump right through the glass to get to her, so she hightailed it out of there. I was a little bummed; I hadn't gotten a very good closeup of her. My next shot was going to be with me on my knees to get a really good head shot. Oh well.Two weeks later, she hasn't been back. Either she has a really large range that she's working (and, after all, she ate all the seeds so in a bear's mind maybe there's no good reason to come back), or my fierce little 11-pound guard dog has made this stop on her route fall way to the bottom of her list. It's also possible she didn't mark anything with her scent, so she can't find her way back without some luck in the formula.

In any case, it was a delight to have her here. I agree with folks who say it's not good to entice bears into your yard by feeding them, because it's not good for them to get too comfortable around people. They become pests. And people find ways to deal with pests that often result in the bear's demise. So I'll do my best not to entice. But when a bear is as well-behaved as this little lady, I'll also do my best to enjoy her visits, if she chooses to return!