Monday, November 05, 2007

final harvest --- in November!

We've had such a warm autumn that we had to delay harvesting our beets until this past weekend. Beets want a good hard frost to drive more sugar down into the roots, making them, um, sweeter. We kept watching for a frost ... "the frost is on the pumpkin" seeming to say October would be a reasonable time, not to mention past history, but we never got one till Friday night, November 2nd. Everything else in the garden was dead, dead, dead from the cold nights we've had ... once it even went below freezing but without a frost. Maybe that would have been good enough, maybe it's not literally a frost that's needed, but the beets came through those cold nights with very perky foliage so we knew we weren't doing them any harm by waiting a little longer.

Anyway, Saturday I pulled that perky foliage with gorgeous orange roots attached right out of the ground, laid them out to cure for a few hours, lopped off their ears, rinsed off their dirt, and popped them in the fridge. Now every time I open the fridge, I stand over them like Midas, rubbing my hands and dreaming about having yummy roasted golden beets for free for months to come. Sweet. Very sweet.

What's your favorite roasted beet recipe?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

super easy caramel 'n' chocolate pecan bars

This recipe got raves at a party last night, and it was so simple to make that I just had to share it with you. I got the recipe out of a magazine insert from Land O' Lakes butter. If every person in the country makes this butter-loaded recipe just once, the CEO of Land O' Lakes will be able to retire.

It's a simplified recipe for pecan bars, with no precooking of the crust nor caramelizing of any sugar. It takes at most 20 minutes to get the bars into the pan, and only another 20-30 minutes to bake. The only time component to take into consideration is cooling time. Once it's cooled down a bit, pop it into the refrigerator to speed the solidifying of the topping. But beware ... if it gets completely cold, it will be really hard to cut. Either cut about an hour after it goes into the fridge, or bring it to room temp before cutting.

2 c all purpose flour (I used 1 c King Arthur Flour white whole wheat, 1 c KAF all purpose unbleached)
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c salted butter
1 c pecan halves (didn't have any, used sliced almonds, very good!)

2/3 c salted butter
1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 c semi sweet chocolate chips

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Combine all crust ingredients except nuts in bowl (of mixer or food processor)
  • Beat at medium speed until mixture resembles fine crumbs (it will look dry)
  • Press onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9 baking pan
  • Spread nuts evenly over unbaked crust
  • combine 2/3 c butter and 1/2 c brown sugar in 1 quart saucepan
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until entire surface of mixture begins to boil. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
  • Pour mixture evenly over nuts and crust.
  • Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until entire caramel layer is bubbly, rotating pan halfway through. Do not overbake.
  • Remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle with chips; allow to melt slightly. Swirl melted chips over bars, leaving some whole for marbled effect.
  • Cool completely. Cut into triangles or squares.
Makes 36 bars

Friday, September 14, 2007

hi, guys!

My friends, I'm gradually coming to the realization that I'm just going to be a blogging dilettante for the nonce. Life is happening! And it's all good, I'm a happy summer-into-fall camper, but I just have to live it and not worry about blogging it, you know? The briefest of summaries in classic IT project manager bullet points below are:
  • I did get a part in the show with the director! But not the first show of his season, his second, which begins rehearsals mid-October with shows the weekends of November 30 and the 2 weeks following.
  • It's a new, startup theater and I offered to create him a website. It's in the infancy stages, but I think it's going to be just about the nicest site I've ever done, which makes me think it's time to hang out my own web-related business shingle (I mean site) one day soon. Anyway, I'll try to remember to post a link to the Shaker Bridge Theater site when it goes live. [See it here.]
  • Am also building a site for a friend who's a physical therapist, and doggone if that doesn't look pretty nice, too. Ditto re: the link. [here]
  • My real work (IT project management) continues to be busy and gratifying.
  • Simba is doing well!
  • So is The Huz!
  • Got to do some travelling for a couple of weeks in August. I'm not an Orlando fan, but I was down there for a conference and I'm still raving about the hotel there. See previous post. After that the Huz and I went to a nice Christian camp called Camp of the Woods with some friends who go there every summer. It was great!
  • Next weekend we leave for a few days to visit my sis in Seattle for her [cough]ty-eighth birthday, looking forward to fresh seafood and lots of family time and perhaps, perhaps, even a few games of pinochle with her pals!
  • Pal Robin and I are continuing to work our way through every doggone season of Buffy & The Vampire Slayer sequentially, a show that I missed entirely (purposely) during its run and which I've surprised myself by enjoying lots!
And I guess that's about it for now. Life is good here in the soon-to-be-golden Northeast. I hope you're feeling similarly blessed.

Monday, August 13, 2007

cloudy monday #16

My cloudy Monday posts have been few & far between of late (as have all my posts). Maybe you haven't missed them, but I have! This shot was taken across a vacant lot at the top of our hill on a stormy day late in spring. I got a series of shots that I'm ready to show you, Monday by Monday. This one is, I have to say, my favorite. Love the way the light comes from the top right across the clouds.

I'm at a conference in Orlando, staying at a really amazing resort called Universal Portofino Bay. It's modeled after a village on the Italian Riviera and it is possibly the nicest hotel I've ever stayed at. Not that I'm a frequenter of Ritz-y hotels, but back in my consulting days I did get to stay at some nice places. But this one takes the cake. The website doesn't do it justice.

There's a side of me that winces a little ... I can't help but think of the poverty I've seen in Haiti, India, Mexico, the Philippines ... but it's also certainly a pleasure to experience such comfort and attentive service.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Simba 'n' Me

Some of you have kindly asked how Simba's doing. Progress report: great! It's been nine months now since his accident, and the vet said that based on his injury and the amount of his spine that was below the injury (about 8 inches) it would be about 8 months before we'd know the full extent of his recovery. So this is probably going to be as good as it gets, and people, neither one of us is complaining. If you didn't live with him, you'd never guess he'd ever been injured. Sure, he slips a little more on the wooden floors, he doesn't jump as well as he used to, and -- I think he would complain about this if he had words -- he can't use his right hind leg to scratch himself. That's about the extent of his limitations. (He's so cute in a frustrated sort of way when he needs to scratch himself. He'll pick up his foot as best he can and then turn around and look at it, sort of sigh, and then give his head a good shake. When I see him do that I try to scratch his head & side as best I can, not knowing exactly where the itch is.)

Did you know that small dogs are prone to back injuries? The hypothesis is that over a lifetime of jumping onto very high objects (relative to their height) like beds and couches, they stress their spines. Now I pick Simba up onto things and don't let him jump off our very high bed by himself. If I ever have a little dog again I'll start these practices when s/he's young.

This pictures were taken under the dining room table, which despite appearances seems to be a very comfy bed for him. The pillow somewhat lacks, in my opinion, but it's his opinion that counts!

I was moved to post this because I'm going to be away off & on for nearly the next two weeks, and I'm missing him already! I can talk to The Huz on the phone, but Simba's only a face-to-face (or hand-to-tummy) relationship. I have a couple of posts queued up, by the way, so you may be hearing from me a little bit during my travels. The first week I'll be in Orlando for a conference (in August! hard on us pasty white Northerners), then back for a long weekend away at a camp with The Huz, then back for a day and off to a cooking gig. So the only options for posting will be from Orlando, the first week.

So, see ya later, and thanks for commenting!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

moaning meme

Given that I've been so absent from blogging lately, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that the lovely and loving Eva risked one of her tags on me, of all people. How could she possibly have known I was about to re-enter the brave world of blogging? Never mind, whatever the case, I was tickled pink! And lavender! And ... and then I had to sit and think of answers to all these questions ... oy, vey! So, I wasn't annoyed, exactly. More like vexed. At my own dullness of brain matter. But even dull brain matter produces results eventually, albeit sluggishly. So no more moaning about dullness of brain, Pat!

5 people who will be annoyed that I tagged them:

  • Barbara (I don't think I've ever seen her do a meme, so this is bound to annoy her)
  • Lynne (ditto, plus I know she's straight-out busy these days)
  • Jerry (who, if he does it, will be the funniest of us all, and I know whereof I speak)
  • Ilsa (because it's Time for you to start your own Blog, girlfriend!)
  • Rick (who, if he ever starts his own blog, will give Jerry a run for his money)

4 things that should go into Room 101 to be banished from the earth forever:

  • mosquitoes and all other biting bugs that keep me indoors during the nice weather months
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • greed
  • dishonesty

3 things people do that make you want to shake them violently:

  • tailgate or cut in too closely in front of you (1 car length for every 10mph, people!)
  • find something negative about every situation, and feel compelled to verbalize it
  • say they believe in tolerance but don't practice it

2 things you find yourself moaning about:

  • being too busy
  • being so far away from my bro & sis

1 thing the above answers tell you about yourself:

  • that I'm well-intentioned but still complain too much, and not nearly grateful enough for all the good stuff.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

bitten bad

As a wee person, I decided I would be a famous actress when I grew up, kind of like Marilyn Monroe but without the funny eyebrows. Life has no limits when you're wee. Of *course* I will be prettier than Miss M! At least if sheer determination could make it so. And I knew one thing for sure: I totally did not want to be a housewife.

Fast forward lo! these ahem many years, past careers and moves and more years supporting myself than would ever allow any theatrical endeavors, and here I am, married, no kids, and finally, finally allowing myself to indulge those theatrical inclinations. (Parenthetically, but with parentheses --- I heard a young woman today lovingly describe her mother as "drama-free" --- and wondering where she herself came from, as being decidedly not drama-free. Isn't that a wonderful turn of phrase? Drama-free. I'm of the "decidedly not" variety.)

I started out in the spring of 2006 with a murder mystery benefiting a friend's non-profit organization. That summer I auditioned for and got a chorus a/k/a "extra" part in large community theater organization's production of Singin' In The Rain, complete with rain. That was a great learning experience and the source of a couple of new friends. Later that summer, I acted in a Neil Simon comedy in a small community theater in a nearby town, and then followed that up with another murder mystery that was staged in February at a resort for an entire weekend, the mystery stretching across several days. And that murder mystery was subsequently turned into a regular one-night play and produced at another local community theater's playhouse over a couple of weekends in early June, with the same cast. I really grew to love those guys, it was a really wonderful experience made more so by the opportunity to stretch it out a little longer than usual. (There are rumors we may re-unite for a second production, of a new mystery, at the same resort this winter.) Finally, I had a good-sized role in a reading of Samantha's Stars in July.

April 2006.
July 2006.
October 2006.
February 2007.
June 2007.
July 2007.

Not bad for the first year or so! In all that time, I got a part in every play I auditioned for, leading me to have great confidence in my auditioning ability and, in fact, to really just relax and have fun auditioning.

Does one hear a bit of hubris in that statement? A touch of braggadocio? One hopes not. But ...

After the Neil Simon show, one of the board members for the community theater mentioned another play to me: Painting Churches. It's a fabulous script written by a woman named Tina Howe, and I just fell in love with it. Have had it in the back of my mind all year long, knowing that I would love to act in such a quality play, loving both the female lead roles. I talked about it, off & on, all year long. And encouraged my friends to try out for it too, reasoning that it was such a great play, it deserved to have the very best actors in it, even if it's not me.

So friend Robin decided to audition for it with me, but on the 40-minute drive to the theater she said she didn't want to do it if we didn't both get parts. Her main motivation was so we could hang out together, on the drives & otherwise. I appreciated it, but made sure she understood that I was making no such offer. I'd had my heart set on this play for far too long.

After the audition, on the ride home, friend Robin began waffling. Who could blame her? It's really THAT GOOD a script. The audition was a blast.

She got a part.

Guess who didn't. Yep, Miss Hubris herself.


Turns out, I was in that awkward in-between age. Not old enough for the retirement-age mother, not young enough for the daughter. Although I do believe I could have acted either role!

The woman who got the mother part did a wonderful job with it, but I can honestly say my friend Robin was the best actor up there. I was doggone proud of her. And by then, the sting had pretty much gone out of not getting a part, so I could just sit there and enjoy the wonderful, wonderful play. That was just this last weekend.

Which brings me to tonight. Auditions. For a play I'd dearly love to be in, with someone who has a reputation as a really good director. Can it be that I'm jinxed when it's something I really, really want? Will you keep your fingers crossed for me?

Sunday, July 22, 2007


It's nice to have friends, isn't it? It was nice to hear from Barbara, most forgiving AND prompt of blogging friends, who saw my post yesterday and immediately dropped me a quick comment letting me know she's still there. Hi, Barbara, and thanks for the idea to put up some pics of Simba. He's lookin' good, isn't he?

It was good to hang out with friend R after church this morning for a half an hour or more, catching up on her news and sharing mine.

And it was nice to have friends over for dinner tonight for the first time in ages, F & J, parents of the late Zeke and new parents of zany Zane, who came along for dinner but didn't eat much. At least not much of what I cooked, which was (for the foodies amongst us) organic spring greens w/ tomatoes & celery and a mix of some very garlicky leftover homemade caesar dressing and a vinaigrette; roasted veggies (golden beets, fingerling potatoes, mushrooms, sweet potatoes seasoned with cinnamon, cumin, and sweet paprika, and spicy cauliflower), seared shrimp with a balsamic-brown sugar reduction, rice, and for dessert some vanilla Haagen Daz with cubed mangoes and optional chocolate sauce. A bit of wine, a bit of sun tea, and a good time was had by all. Most especially BY me, because I got to hang out with friends, the Huz, Simba, and a sweet-tempered baby boy. It was so relaxing, with good conversation ranging over acting, travels, work, family, and a tiny bit of current events. They stuck around till little Zany just really needed his own bed, and afterward my very best friend of all and I washed dishes & cleaned up the kitchen together and talked about the upcoming week. It was all so blessedly NORMAL!

photo shoot (for barbara)

I'm going to pretend I don't see that camera. I'm just not interested. Really. I'm not.

Does she still have it glued to her face? Dang, still there.

I hate to look, but I just gotta know ... is the flash up?

Oo, oo, quick, close your eyes!

Ah, come on, enough with the torture already!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

hello? hello?

No, it's not a cloudy Monday, but this photo is appropriate because I feel like one of those really lame fair-weather friends, you know the ones, they love to hang out with you when there's nothing more interesting going on in their lives, but the minute there's any other possibility zoom! they're gone in a cloud of dust as you raise your hand to say, "Hey! Wait a minute! What about me?" You know? One of those kinds of friends. I have been missing in action, remiss, misappropriated, misplaced, Miss Where Are You for just ages!

But I'm not one of those kinds of friends, really I'm not. My life just got a teensy little bit out of control and I've been buried under a veritable landslide of two things: work (and the heading says "not very much about work" and I promise I'm going to spare you the details) and acting. All of it good stuff, but truly without enough time to even get the bare essentials done, never mind the things I love to do that unfortunately don't help pay the mortgage. The phrase I've been using with my local pals is that I've been setting a "personal best" for busyness. Not that it's good, but it's definitely been extreme, even for me.

But all that is behind me now, and I'm back, and I'm so glad to see you, and how have you been? Let's settle down here on the couch with some frosty mugs of diet root beer because we are that fabulicious and sensible all at the same time and get all caught up with the goings-on, and did you really? and no way! and gosh it's been a long time, I've really missed you and the laughter and the tears and let's not ever let it be this long again OK?

So I'm back, with a stack of digital photos (didn't know you could stack them, did you?) and some stories to tell, and I'm not going to start right this minute but I really think I'm back, so please stay tuned, and oh yes! My friend ... have you forgiven me enough to leave a little comment to let me know you've dropped by?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

cloudy monday #15

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging Recap

The first order of business is to send a big "Thank you!" to Kalyn for being so generous to share hosting responsibilities for what has turned out to be such a hugely popular blogging event as Weekend Herb Blogging. I've been largely AWOL on the blogging scene for a while as work has reared up, grabbed me by the ears, and hollered, "Pay attention to me!" and I have to say, I've missed it --- and you, blogging friends --- very much.

So it's a real treat to have my turn to host roll around and force me to set aside work for an evening and walk the rolling hills of blogland, waving to my friends and learning all sorts of new things in the process. Come with me, we're in for a fun trip!

Truffle from What's On My Plate not only wins first prize for earliest entry -- Monday, and very early Monday indeed! -- but she also bends the brain of this spring-addled New Englander by celebrating autumn. She's from Melbourne, you see, and they're saying goodbye to summer as we turn our faces south and welcome the sun. Celebrating autumn sounds like a good idea, though, when you read her recipe for Roasted Red Wine and Rosemary Plums on Creamy Vanilla Polenta.

Fran├žois-Xavier (FX) of visits from Switzerland to share a simple recipe from Tuscany called Devil's Chicken, Pollo alla diavola. If you like your recipes with lots of pictures illustrating the technique, then you will love this one. His recommendations for portion size are so practical: "I recommend a half chicken per guest so nobody will feel stepped over if they don't get their favorite part. Just take smaller chicken to adjust portion size."

"As the monsoons approach, the urge to have a quick spicy hot appetizer strucks any Indian head." So says Sushma, she of my favorite travel destination, India, and writer of Sunkiran's Recipe Source. She shares with us a vegetarian twist on the traditional Chicken 65, substituting cauliflower for the more traditional chicken to make Gobhi 65. Between the spices and the cauliflower, Sushma is over-qualified for WHB, wouldn't you say?

Ruth from Once Upon a Feast never fails to make my mouth water, and this week is no exception. Cedar Planked Salmon with Early Spring Greens & Blueberry Salad is a winner, loaded with antioxidants and all those other things we love to get into our diet, but most of all, tasty, tasty stuff. I could have shown you her picture of the plated salmon with the salad, but I was fascinated with the look of these gorgeous salmon steaks. You'll just have to hop on over to her blog to see the picture of her final product. She even gets to use Atlantic salmon, and considering that she's writing from Halifax, she gets it fresher than fresh. Trying not to drool here.

Amy over at Nook & Pantry has done us all a favor and posted the recipe for Tzatziki sauce. I love the stuff, being a big fan of Greek gyros, but have never thought of making it myself and finding other uses for it. Salmon, anyone? Amy comes to us from Seattle, our first entry from the U.S.

Charise of More Bread And Cheese, Please fame, celebrates Mexico's Cinco De Mayo in Ohio with Chipotle-Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes (aka Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes). Mexico seems to be the place to be to look for creative uses of chocolate. I'll never forget my first taste of chicken with mole sauce (pronounced mo-lay, for those of you who were envisioning a chicken-and-rodent meal!). Anyway, back to the cupcakes ... shhh, don't tell anyone, but these are super easy. Check the recipe to see why. And isn't that picture yummilicious?

Jaden of the eponymous Steamy Kitchen sez, "If I were stuck on a deserted tropical island with a GE Profile Oven, this is what I would make." Pretty hearty recommendation, that, and seeing the absolutely stunning pictures that accompany this post, I suspect I'd eat just about anything if she would just plate it and set it before me. It wouldn't even have to be as delicious-sounding as her Tropical Island Salmon. Jaden's steamy kitchen is in Florida.

When an entry starts out with, "Last year, I did not grow nearly enough parsley. What parsley we did grow came up sparsely (Parsley, sparsely. It feels like an Ogden Nash poem…)", you know you're going to have a good time reading what follows. Check out Genie's post over at the Inadvertent Gardener about Parsley, watered down and a simple solution, and have a few laughs in the process. Be sure to check out her "About" section if you think you'd like to laugh a little more before you leave.

Next up is Swank Caterers from somewhere In the Woods near the Triangle, North Carolina, US. I'm not sure, but I think The Triangle refers to the three cities framing a section of the US where the large majority of US-made furniture is made. The Huz and I made a trip down there once to look for a good deal on a leather sofa, and found one, but ended up not buying it for reasons which are best not discussed here if I still want to have a Huz when I wake up tomorrow. But I digress ...

SC from NC offers Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts (but not in one dish). Two of my favorite veggies, and her Roasted BS (ahem, sorry, I couldn't resist! please read on) is a variation on one of my own favorites posted back in the days when I had more time for blogging.

So, when's the last time you said to yourself, "Gosh, I gotta make myself some homemade tofu one of these days!" Never? Well, Willa of Yumminess Ensues in Pennsylvania hadn't either, until an offhand comment from a visiting foreign exchange student made her reconsider. Read the story of her journey to homemade tofu and ask yourself, "Could this be me?"

And then skip up one entry and read all about rhubarb. Very timely for those of us for whom spring has only just arrived!

OK, now no kidding, we're getting some really interesting entries this week, and this one has to be one of the most unusual combinations ever, if I'm allowed to be the judge of that. Lettuce and noodles? Who'dathunkit? And the answer to that question is Sophie, of Oxford, UK and Mostly Eating. She tells us it's really calming by virtue of being, well, a little bland. And now that she mentions it, that picture does look very mellow ... mustn't look, got too many more entries to add to this post, can't allow myself to mellow out! (Did I just harsh my mellow??)

When you look at the name of my blog, you won't be surprised when I tell you that my favorite title among the submissions ... and there were many good'uns!... was the one from K├╝chenlatein: Where's My Tarragon? (gone) --- get it? LOL. Given that her native language apparently is German, I'm especially impressed with the wordplay in English. Anyway, send some mean thoughts in the direction of the slugs and snails who have been devouring her first batch of tarragon, in hopes of diverting them from the batch she just potted up!

Newcomer Nicole is an American in Sicily, joining us from Pinch My Salt. She grows lots of fresh herbs herself and today she offers us a gorgeous picture and delicious-sounding recipe for Herbed Tuna Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts.

Seared Salmon Fillets with Dill Dijon Sauce. I read the title and I almost wanted to say, "'nuff said." But that wouldn't be fair, because then you'd have no clue where to go to get the recipe! So please do go pay Terry at Blue Kitchen a visit, and while you're there, see if you can get him to divulge his recipe for this most excellent dish. Salmon, Dill, Dijon ... it's a match made in ... wow! That was close. I almost cliched. (If I already did and didn't catch it, have mercy. I really don't want to know.)

Brigitte from Singapore does such a good job of summarizing what her post is about, that I don't see any reason not to use her own words:
"For this event I made three different vegetable tarts each with puff pastry. One tart is with leek. And I combined leek with the herb thyme. The other tart is with tiny Roma tomatoes in 3 different colours, red, yellow, and orange. And I combined it with dried Oregano and fresh basil. Those three herbs are ordinary and I use them very often. The third tart with carrots is a bit unusual. I combined it with sweet touch of lavender and fennel. It was very delicious and even my three children loved it. I don't dare to make the puff pastry myself in the Singaporean climate, not in "my" tiny non-airconditioned kitchen. I bought a frozen, ready-made one."

As the evening progresses, and I see more and more beautiful pictures of luscious foods, I'm getting a bit hypnotized by it all. The hypnotist is murmuring, "You must eat very soon. Your eyes are getting very big for your stomach. You must eat very soon."

When I do finally succumb, (oh! Did I say "when"? Didn't I mean "if"?), it just may be goats cheese toast with sunkissed tomatoes like this from Once Upon A Tart that receives my undivided gluttonous attention. Honestly, folks, doesn't this picture must make you want to rock back on your heels and howl? No? Ok, maybe it's just me. Or maybe you're just not willing to admit it, with all of us listening in ...

I am totally enchanted with anyone who calls herself a geek, a name I have proudly borne for years. I always think it's kind of cute when I declare myself a geek and some sweet thing says in shock, "NO, you're not!" as if I were putting myself down by saying such a thing. Oh, yes I am, and so is Vanessa from What Geeks Eat! You go, girl! Today she shares with us a lovely recipe for Green Pizza, all the way from Wisconsin by way of San Francisco.

Rinku from Cooking in Westchester brings us this Indian- accented Citrus - Thyme Chicken. It uses both orange AND lemon juice, and drumsticks. Between the natural tenderness of dark chicken meat and the acid of those juices, I have to believe this is one of the most melt-in-your-mouth dishes possible.

Our next contributor from Australia is Kate, from Sydney, sharing recipes and tales at Veggie Friendly (not to be confused with those friendly Veggie Tales). Kate decided to experiment with daikon, and after one disappointing recipe she found this winner: Roast Daikon and Sweet Potato Pasties. I love just about anything with sweet potatoes and am intrigued with the notion of adding the radish flavor of daikon. You, too?

Before I sat down to write up this round up, I had visions of sharing with you some pics and rhapsodizations about my newfound love, golden beets. Beets, golden beets, overcomers of my life-long dislike of beetlike things! But time is going by and I had already given up on sharing that recipe tonight, when along came The Well-Seasoned Cook, Susan from New York, with this fabulous recipe for Yellow Beets with Walnuts. I'm so glad these lovely veggies are getting some attention today. I'll rhapsodize about them at some later date. Meantime, even if you're not a beet lover, head on over the Susan's blog and see if she can convince you to try them. You won't be sorry, I promise!

There's hardly a more dramatic fruit than blood oranges, as you can see from this photo. If you haven't tried them, go ahead and spring for just one. They're expensive but worth it. And if you have a few extra sitting around, you might care to let your eyes wander over the Blood Orange-Citrus Marinade for Grilled Chicken that's featured at Cucina Bella tonight. Read carefully for a great tip about how to be sure your marinade saturates your chicken well.

Ackey is featured ... wait a minute, you say? Sounds like something a toddler might say when describing something he's just tasted and rejected, you say? What's ackey, you say? Well, I'm so glad you asked, because Sarina over at TriniGourmet has most generously shared about her love of this plant, which is native to Jamaica and sorely missed by our Sarina, who lives in Trinidad and can only get the canned version at exorbitant prices.

Strawberry Coffee Cake. So good one friend described it as "strawberry crack." I read things like that and am reduced to speechlessness. Friends, rather than try to say more, I shall just say, please go to What Did You Eat, and tell 'em Pat sent you. And anyway, isn't a picture worth, etc., etc.? Sure it is. Just do it.

Is it just getting late, or are these last few posts really rather indescribable? Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything from Melbourne, Australia brings us Slippery Jack or Suillus Luteus, a mushroom that she handles fearlessly. I have a friend who is an amateur mycologist, and it's amazing how much there is to know and learn about these rather mysterious critters. Did you know there are mushrooms that look normal-sized above the ground but whose bottom parts spread for acres? [Come to think of it, some days I think that description comes uncomfortably close to fitting me! ... ] Anyway, please go visit Haalo and read all about Slippery Jack and how he comes to an untimely end in her omelette.

Y of sends us her ode to quinces, autmnal fruit currently in season Down Under. She offers a number of options for using them, and muses,
"The most amazing thing for me about this fruit is that the flesh of quinces are, in their raw form, they are astringent, colourless and practically inedible. When cooked however, the application of heat and acidity over time, transforms them into amazing perfumed, ruby coloured fruit. Kitchen alchemy, at it’s very best."

Next up is Ros, from West London, who writes in Living to Eat "One Duck Salad, Two Interpretations." Both interpretations involve fruits; I leave it to you to find out which ones. Duck is so expensive here in the US, we have it only on special occasions, but it sounds as if Ros rather easily gets her hands on it. Lucky Ros! It used to be a tradition for family Thanksgiving dinners, but has become too costly for the large groups that surround our table(s) these days.

Sorry if I'm rambling a bit, this isn't supposed to be about me, is it? Oops!

Anyway, her "interpretations" sound fabulous, so if you're ready to treat yourself (or if you live somewhere that has affordable duck) then please give her recipes a try and let us know what you think!

And last, but most certainly not least, is the originator of Weekend Herb Blogging lo, these many moons ago, the Herb Blogging queen herself, the doyen of South Beach, the one we all love to love, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, who brings us Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Capers, and Oregano. I never knew till now that Kalyn and I share a love of capers, those little flower buds that, when pickled, add such a nice, salty piquant zing. I confess I sometimes eat them right out of the jar, but now I know I have to save some for this gorgeous. healthy dish that Kalyn is sharing for this week's event.

P.S. I just realized I left out Paul and Freya from Writing at the Kitchen Table (love that name!) Many apologies, you two, especially since you wrote such a lovely paean to a dish near to my heart, Sag Aloo from India. Catch this wonderful thinking/writing:
"Ingredients are like schoolchildren. Some get on like a house on fire, hanging out at sleepovers, getting drunk down the park together, falling in love whilst others just bully the weedier ones, or they are bolshy troublemakers. Some are so quiet that you don't even notice they're there, and 20 years later you can't even remember their names."
For more fun writing, head on over to WatKT and leave a comment, will you, to make up for my omitting them till the next day? Thanks!

Well, that's the roundup for this week! Next week, May 14 - May 20,the host will be Rinku from Cooking in Westchester. Send your entries to rinkub AT aol DOT com

Saturday, May 12, 2007

get yer Weekend Herb Blogging here!

Stay tuned for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted right here, you heard me right, RIGHT HERE on this blog, TOMORROW!

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, probably somewhat late as there are moms to celebrate in the early part of the day. Till then ...

BIG bear

Our little bear has a friend. Or competition.

In 15 years of living here, this is the Biggest. Bear. We've. Ever. Seen. You know how when you look at a picture of a gorilla, the thing that makes him look soooo strong is his shoulders? Well, this bruiser has shoulders like that. He is HUGE! Male black bears can get to be as big as 500 pounds. This guy has to be in that neighborhood.

And, for contrast, female black bears run between 90 and 400 pounds. "Our little bear" is definitely down closer to 90 pounds. She's so small that at first we thought she was a yearling. But it's the third year seeing her, and she's still tiny. For a bear. She'd make a darn good-sized dog, though!

You can read a little more about our little bear here if you're curious. Follow the links backward from that article to get the full history with her.

Some of you left comments about being afraid of our little bear, and I totally understand that. But having lived in the woods and among bears for some 15 years now, and having interacted with this bear from a distance for a few years, I know that she, like most bears, wants to avoid us as much as we want to avoid them. Each bear is different, and if you observe them for a while you begin to figure out their temperament somewhat. So I respect our little bear for what she would be capable of if cornered, but I know that as long as I exercise some common sense we'll never get into the situation where she would hurt me.

I'm not so sure about this guy.

He's way too comfortable around people. He came up onto our deck at night, as you can see, to empty our can of bird seeds (foolish me for leaving it outside; never again!). Then, once he was done, he came over to the back door, where the Huz was standing and I was kneeling trying every setting on my camera to get a decent shot of him. He wasn't interested in us; he was sniffing around for more bear chow. (Can you imagine how much he has to eat, to power a body that size?) At one point, I was lying on my stomach shooting through the bottom window as he was literally sniffing the window. The flash went off right in his eyes. He just paused for one second and continued his food hunt.

The picture didn't turn out. He was too close.

I'm going to be verrry cautious for a while, knowing that this bear is in the neighborhood. Fortunately, he seems to be a nighttime bear. He's been back three nights in a row, always pretty late. We may never see him during the day, but I'll be cautious before stepping out the back door this summer.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

an upper valley ursine visitor (UVUV!)

The little bear who visited us last year is back. Here you can see her just outside my kitchen window. She's licking the fallen sunflower seeds off the ground, since she can't reach the feeders.

You can see lots more pictures of her here. (If you click that link, be patient; it goes to my October archive, which has a lot of posts.)

It looks as if she did very well through the winter. Look at that gorgeous coat!

Ambling away.

Little bear has been an honorary dog at Sweetnicks' Weekend Dog Blogging before, so this is my entry for this week. This Sunday, head on over to Sweetnicks' place for a peek at more, shall we say, traditional dog shots!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Simba says "Bye, Zeke!"

In loving memory of Zeke, gentle companion of Faith and Jerry for 14 years
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!
more pictures of Simba
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Friday, April 27, 2007


clouds on vacation

The Cloudy Monday feature has been on vacation for a while, as I spend days, nights and weekends dog-paddling madly to keep my head above water with work. I'm OK, in this case no news is good news! In fact, I was able to break away with a girlfriend, her daughter, and her friend's daughter to spend a week at their time share in Grand Cayman, where this lovely picture of clouds etc was captured from our balcony. We got to do lots of scuba diving and spent evenings in a devoted madcap effort to watch every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A good time was had by all. And then, of course, I returned to the work scene behinder than ever.

On a theater note, the murder mystery weekend was a success in nearly every way but headcount. That Saturday was a major snowstorm and lots of our participants stayed home. But it was actually kind of fun to have a smaller crowd, as we got to know each of the participants and were able to keep tabs on how well they were figuring out the murderers. (We had a "plant" in the participants who wasn't detected, so he was able to clue us in on who was catching on and what we might want to do to throw them off.) By the end of the weekend, we all kind of hated to say goodbye to each other ... although I have to admit, 48 hours in character is a stretch for me!

Well, the good news is that it was so well received that a local theater group agreed to have us give several performances of the murder mystery, condensed to a single night! So the first two weekends in June we'll be performing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons, and hoping like mad the folks who see it early don't tell the later audiences whodunnit. This will be a very different experience for us as actors from the previous one, which included lots of improvisation and ad libbing. This will be scripted like a play, but all the same actors are returning, with the possible exception of one substitution for a small part, so it's really going to be fun.

And we're hearing rumors there may be another murder mystery weekend next year ... :o)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007