Archive for Travel

A Fond Farewell to 2007

This post comes to you from the beautiful wintertime woods of Northern Michigan, where I am currently enjoying a far-too-brief break complete with bald eagles, woodpeckers galore — and to top it all off — my first-ever sighting of an owl!
The jury is still out on whether it was a barred owl or a great grey ;)

Lovely Nupur of One Hot Stove, a dear friend who is always an inspiration and always ready with an encouraging word, has asked us to search the archives for our “Best of 2007″! Break or no break, I didn’t want to miss it, so here I am in my snowsuit.

I thought this would be a fairly easy task, but in the end it turned into something of a slippery slope. Once I started noting favs, I couldn’t stop!

Here are a just a few of the things I enjoyed about blogging in 2007:

Nupur’s A-Z of Indian Vegetables challenged my imagination every week for a spectacular twenty-six weeks.

Lakshmi K’s Regional Cuisines of India took me traveling all over India. A great index page for this ongoing event can be found here.

Bee and Jai, dynamic duo of Jugalbandi, started the popular food photography event Click!; I may have to take a class now!

And of course, there was another fabulous year of Indira’s Jihva For Ingredients, “the original” event, to me, and one which continues to amaze and delight me.

If I had to choose one favorite part of 2007 at Out Of The Garden, I would say without hesitation, it was my long-awaited turn to host Jihva. Toor dal was the theme, and what a party it was! To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. Check out all the fabulous dishes from the bottom of the page here.

More fun that landed on the blog:

amazing agates
amazing agates from Lake Superior

waterline agate
waterline agate close up

black legged kittiwake
black-legged kittiwake over Lake Superior

black tern
black tern at Tuttle Marsh near Oscoda, MI

canning
home canning ~ red tomato chutney, yellow tomato jam, and green tomato pickle

cozy kitties
cozy kitties

redpoll
redpolls mixing with the usual suspects (goldfinches) at the feeder, December 26, 2007 ~ could this be an irruption year!?

Thanks Nupur, for this great opportunity to look back on 2007! It turned into much more than a foodie-journey for me :)

It’s been alot of fun poring over past posts. In doing so, the biggest thing I learned is — at the risk of repeating myself — I have learned so much from all of you!

To each of you who have taken the time to stop and visit, offering encouragement, suggestions, advice, or just a friendly hello, I thank you sincerely.

It is the interaction that makes blogging fun. Without that personal touch, this would be just another site with so many pics of kitties, kids, and khichdi.

I wish you all a wonderful New Year filled with health, happiness and lots of time to go “blog-hopping”!

Comments (26)

Autumn Days

It’s been a beautiful autumn weekend.
You might have to click on the pics for full view…

autumn titmouse
tufted titmouse

squirrel
squirrel enjoying the fallout from birdfeeder

woodpecker
downy woodpecker

sleepy kitties
sleepy kitties on a sunny autumn afternoon

~~~

And a neat article about dal from Little India Magazine ~~
The Magic Broth, for JFI ~ Toor Dal.

It’s not exclusive to toor dal, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

au sable river
and ever summertime dreaming… if you look hard you can see a lone deer taking a drink in this pool on the beautiful Au Sable river, near Oscoda, MI

Hope you all had a lovely weekend! :)

Comments (24)

Garden Subzi a la IndoSunGod

lake superior
forever calling me home… vast and wild… beautiful Lake Superior

long ships passing
an upbound laker (actually a tug-and-barge combination) assisted by a G-tug, and a downbound “saltie” (ocean vessel) pass in the St. Mary’s River, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan (the “Soo”). In the photo, the “saltie” appears larger, but the laker is the longer of the two…

A Michigan trip is always fantastic, but after two weeks of vacation indulgence I was really craving a healthy, tasty veggie dish.

As I expected, I returned to find a very meager selection of goods in the fridge.
For inspiration, I turned to the blogs and the first I visited was ISG’s Daily Musings.
As usual, she read my mind and had a dish ready and waiting for me! She and her aunty cooked up a gorgeous cauliflower subzi using even the leaves! I always use cauliflower stalks, but only this summer did I begin using the green leaves as well. As ISG says — they are tasty!

My crisper yielded half a rather old head of cauliflower, so I couldn’t use the green this time, but I did include the stalks. To make up for the lacking half, I added a giant ichiban eggplant from my own garden, hooray! I also chopped up a garden tomato to use; because it was not quite ripe, I omitted the amchur powder.
No fresh onion to be had meant frozen chopped for a substitute, my curry leaves were past their prime, and the ginger-garlic paste was from a jar. No fresh green chiles either (I really have to go shopping). As tribute to ISG’s spicy recipes, I used two big dried red chiles instead of my usual one ;)

ing
eggplant, tomato and cauliflower with seasonings — ingredients for a quick and tasty subzi

In spite of a few sub-par ingredients, this dish was really delicious.
Thank you ISG, and thanks to your aunty as well!

Garden Subzi a la ISG
this is done backward because I used frozen onion –
if using fresh I would do the tadka first rather than last

1 tsp canola oil
1/3 c frozen chopped onion (or 1/2 small fresh onion)
1 TB ginger-garlic paste (or use fresh)
2 big dried red chiles
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
few curry leaves

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
(use stems and also green leaves if fresh)
1 big eggplant, preferably long asian type, cut in cubes
1 semi-ripe tomato, chopped small

Salt to taste

~~~~~

Heat oil over medium-high flame and add frozen onion — when sizzling and beginning to brown, add ginger-garlic paste and stir 2-3 minutes. Add dried chiles, cumin, mustard and curry leaves. When mustard pops, add chopped tomato and reduce heat to medium. When tomato softens, add cauliflower and eggplant. Cook 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring once or twice. Add about a cup of water, cover, and cook an additional 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Add salt to taste, and give all a big stir before serving (or gobbling up straight from the pan — it’s that good!) :)

garden subzi
simply delicious — a garden subzi a la ISG!

~~~~~

While I was away, I was lucky to receive some special thoughts from two very dear and special friends — thank you so much, Supriya and ISG, for thinking of me with these lovely awards! Your kindness truly makes me happy every day. I will be passing these along soon, too :)

schmooze award

thoughtful blogger award

And last but certainly not least, please allow me to wish you all a very happy (albeit belated) Independence Day — from 1947 to 2007 is a wonderful accomplishment and still going strong!

Comments (17)

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N … in the summertime…

That was a song we knew as kids — or rather, a jingle — to be sung with glee and gusto on the last day of school. I wish I could reproduce the tune here, ’cause that’s how I felt today. Today was the last day of work for two whole weeks; once I see the little gal safely ensconced at camp on Sunday, I am officially vacationing.

Vacation means only one thing — wonderful, wondrous Michigan!
Dear home state, land of myriad treasures and simple beauty.

lake superior waves
wild waves on superior…

lake huron sunrise
serene sunrises reflecting on huron…

da yoopers
tourist traps you can’t pass up…

beach pea
and natural surprises springing up everywhere…

lighthouse
the majestic mystery of a lighthouse, standing steadfast against wind and time…

lake superior vista
and the endless vistas seen from the tower, the lake calling out to my heart…

That call resonates within me all year long… in sleep and in waking hours; now I can heed the call and journey home.

Wishing you all a wonderful, wondrous vacation too –
whenever and wherever it may be!! :)

Comments (15)

Foxtale

Tawas Point is a small peninsula jutting out into Lake Huron.
There you can find a beautiful lighthouse, and for wildlife fanciers, a network of sandy trails leading around the point, teeming with birds and other creatures…

tawas point light
lighthouse at Tawas Point State Park, Lake Huron coast

furry friend
a little fox was hurrying along a path…

furry follower
another fellow came scurrying along behind…

disappearing
they disappeared around the corner…

playing
a little ways off the path they were playing like kittens — the fox on the right is a youngster in a fresh coat, and the fox on the left likely the mama…

young fox coming closer
the young fox was curious and came slowly back out toward the main trail…

foxes scoping out the scene
and waited…

watching their backs
only a little wary…

young fox in a shiny coat
before emerging for a closer look…

sitting in the sun
young fox in the sunshine

Comments (10)

Lake Huron Sunrise

lake huron sunrise
lone duck at sunrise …. lake huron

Comments (9)

Strawberry Jam with Mom

We went to the Cape to visit my folks.

Mom had a big bunch of fresh local berries waiting…

cape cod strawberries
sun-ripened and hand-picked… fresh strawberries from cape cod

… and she showed me how she makes jam. Growing up, we did not spend much time in the kitchen with Mom. She is the first to say she is not a fabulous cook, and I learned by trial and error as I got older.

Mom’s talents lie in other areas — she’s a nurse and even at age 70 she still works a full week, lending her caring hands and heart to those in need.
Her patients love her, and I am so proud of her.

Back to jam — Mom’s recipe isn’t much more than following the instructions in the Certo package. Nonetheless, it was fun to help. It’s so much easier than I thought it would be — I have to try my own hand at it one of these days.

Strawberry Jam

4 c crushed strawberries and their juice (from about 2 quarts fresh berries)
7c sugar
1 package Certo fruit pectin

~~~

Wash, hull, and crush the berries with a potato masher. Place in a large heavy pan, add the sugar, stir well and bring to a rolling boil (a boil that does not cease when you stir). Add 1/2 tsp butter if desired to reduce foaming. Add Certo and stir continuously at rolling boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and skim any foam from the top.

Ladle into sterilized jars.

The instructions call for processing sealed jars in a canner for ten minutes.
Mom always refrigerates her jam, so she doesn’t process it.
She seals the jars the way her mother and father did, and she told me how:

Fill the sterilized jars very near to the top and tighten lids very well.
Then while still hot, tip the jars upside down and leave for five minutes.
Turn them back right side up and you should be able to hear the vacuum seal forming — it makes a popping noise.
She does this on a tray in case of leakage.

boiling the berry crush and sugar
berry crush and sugar at a rolling boil

adding pectin to the berry crush
adding the certo…

stirring it up
mom stirring it up!

homemade strawberry jam
homemade strawberry jam

It’s funny how you go along, not realising your parents are getting older, then one day it hits you.

I am fortunate in that I see my folks often — my kids even more so. They live fairly close and I guess I take that for granted. It was really special to spend an afternoon in my mother’s kitchen, learning something new from her.

I need to make the time to spend more days like that, and I intend to :)

hammock
welcoming hammock between two old cedar trees…. my folks’ yard

Comments (19)

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