Archive for birds

Happy New Year!!

Just a few shots of low-key holiday happenings here in the beautiful north woods…

Wishing you lots of love, good health, and happiness in 2014!

winter birds
pileated woodpeckers in the front yard

meg in the leelanau peninsula
a wintry trip up the leelanau peninsula to show miss m sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore

sleeping bear nat'l lakeshore at Glen Arbor
sleeping bear point as seen from glen arbor ~ snow covered dunes

the new kitchen aid!
for christmas dg and I got ourselves a mutual gift ~ a kitchen aid mixer!!! seen here after whipping up maple buttercream frosting for miss m’s cookies :)

pileated woodpecker
pileated woodpecker at the window suet feeder ~ this amazing woodpecker is the size of a crow and so beautiful! we have three around the yard…

red haven peaches
summertime dreaming… locally grown red haven peaches

summer bounty in Oct
more summertime dreaming… the mess of tomatoes still ripening indoors in october

spice cabinet
dg built a new wall cabinet for spices and things… here it is in progress

the tree
the tree

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Season of Change ~ Time Heals, As Do Fritters :)

autumn in northern michigan
stormy sky in autumn ~ my favorite!

Wow, this post has taken a long time to write. It’s cathartic and contains some things I needed to set out on paper — even virtual paper — in order to work through them.

Thanks for your indulgence!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have always been glad to live in a place where I can experience four seasons. Without winter, I don’t think I would appreciate spring. I’ve always especially loved autumn. In my old life, I looked forward to this season of change; trees adorned in flaming colors against dark and stormy skies and that brisk feeling in the air lending new energy to my walk and to my outlook on life.

Then last autumn came crashing in.

old house being packed up
living room of the old house ~ almost through packing

It’s just over a year since the Massachusetts house was sold.

It had to be sold and I was glad, but… it resulted in a period of panic and mayhem which gave way to a period of anger and frustration, all due to circumstances beyond my control.

Memories of that time are bitter, and I hate that.
I don’t like to be bitter. That’s not *me*!

Since April I have been racing from that old life headfirst into the new. I’ve been frantic.

Frantic is not good. It’s time to stop and remember. It’s time to assimilate all that happened. It’s ok to have a good cry over what should have been. It’s time to heal.

Therefore, I am doing my best to allow myself to feel every emotion I pushed deep down inside last year. If I can do that, I can continue to forge ahead into my new life with my customary enthusiasm.

My new life is a bright one and happy, but sometimes it’s hard to be cheerful *every day*.

It’s tough to be away from my kids. Though they are grown to adulthood I am forever bound to them. There are moments when I am a bit lonesome for the m’n ms.

I can’t always predict or control when those moments occur.
They sneak up and ambush me. I’ve had a good meltdown or two, lately ;)
That’s ok; it’s not my fault.

It’s natural.

who would not miss these kids  :)
the best kids in the world ~ nope, I am not biased :)

In my new life, I strive to make each day positive and peaceful after the uncertainty and upheaval of the past few years. Sometimes I succeed, other times I am still struggling.

I take comfort in believing that I made the best choices I could during a trying time — I did what I thought was best for both the kids and myself. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but this too shall pass. Time is a great healer.

So is love.

chickadee at feeder
autumn view at my new home ~ bird pond and chickadee at the feeder

There is a lot to be said for a small gesture made by one, which means so much to another. The old adage is true — sometimes actions speak louder than words :)

When the corn had been eaten (mostly by raccoons) and the plants began to fall over, I mentioned to DG that a corn shock would be the perfect autumn decoration. At that time, he didn’t really go for the idea — perhaps it was too festive ;)

Several days ago, a corn shock was waiting when I returned from work. Dear G made it for me. That small gesture, as well many larger ones have spoken volumes.

I am snug under a new roof, with a new room at the back of the house besides. The garage has been cleared so that my car fits in, and that enormous supply of wood mentioned in a previous post, cut and stacked by hand, is at the front door. All this is done in anticipation of the cold and snowy winter to come, and it is all very much appreciated by me.

awesome wood pile and corn shock made by dg  :)
the corn shock that DG made for me, leaning on the huge wood pile he made for winter warmth… yep, I am happy :)

Did I mention I have a little pumpkin and scarecrow near the front step, and the maize is hanging on the front door as I have always had (and probably he has never had) — making the new home more home-like for me.

So, to you Dearest G — thank you for your constant winter preparation, as well as festive fall decorations.

Thank you for your love; spoken and unspoken alike.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen…

I made some garden fritters a la Mandira!

I did make changes to the veggies. Mandira’s recipe called for besan, we had just picked green peppers, and I love green peppers and besan combo! I boiled the corn and cut it off the cob, and I added jalepenos. I roasted all the veggies in a non-stick pan with a spritz of oil. I tried two versions — with and without egg. The egg version came out something like a pajeon!

Both were great with maggi sauce :)

Garden Fritters a la Mandira
see original recipe here

For veggies:

2 c corn kernels (2 small ears, cut from the cob after boiling)
1 c green bell pepper, seeded and diced (1 large pepper)
2-3 jalepeno peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 c onion, diced

For batter:

1/2 c besan
1/4 c rice flour
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chaat masala
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste

water to make a thick batter
canola oil (or Pam) for spritzing
canola oil for shallow frying

optional: one egg

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heat a nonstick pan over med-high heat and spritz with canola oil or Pam. Add diced veggies and let them roast for 5-10 minutes — it depends somewhat on the heat of your burners. We don’t want to burn the veggies, only roast them golden with a few dark spots. Flip and toss them from time to time, until they smell and look roasted. Remove to a plate and allow to cool for a few minutes.

pan-roasted veggies
pan-roasted: corn, bell pepper, onion and jalepenos

Meantime, mix the besan and rice flour along with the seasonings in a large bowl.

When the pan-roasted veggies have cooled, add them to the bowl of seasoned flours. Mix well and add sufficient water to form a thick batter. I used approx. 1/2 c plus a couple teaspoons.

thick batter for fritters
a thick batter for fritters ~ optional egg added after frying the first batch :)

Heat canola oil in a non-stick pan over med-high. When it’s hot, make the fritters by dropping spoonfuls in, flattening them as you go. Cook until golden and then turn to fry the other side — approx. 5 min per side but your mileage may vary depending on your burner.

Remove fritters and drain on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve hot with Maggi (dg’s favorite) or your favorite chutney/condiment.

*Optional: mix one beaten egg with the batter and cook in the same manner. These will be softer inside and more like a Korean panjeon. The jury is still out on which was tastier :)

garden fritters a la mandira
garden fritters a la Mandira! classic on the left and more korean/pajeon style on the right

autumn in the north woods
view from the mailbox is some changed from May ~ still a very happy camper!

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Out Of The Surplus Garden ~ Plus Pickles as Promised!

“Where have all the bloggers gone….”

Sung to that old tune Where Have All The Flowers Gone, this phrase keeps running through my mind.

~~~ begin tiny rant ~~~

Time and again when I click on a link, from my own blog archive or another, and I receive the same message:

“To access your blogs, sign in with your Google Account.
The new Blogger requires a Google Account to access your blogs”

Where *have* all the bloggers gone?

I mean the bloggers of yore (if ‘yore’ means several years ago!).
I know life can come crashing in — often unexpectedly.

It happened to me.

I understand taking an extended break — I had to do so myself.
I know there are times when I can’t get motivated to post a thing.

I know blogging takes hard work, time, and a certain desire and drive to keep plugging away. It’s not very lucrative for hobbyists such as myself! ;)

I started my little blog venture purely for my own selfish pleasure. Along the way, I learned much, found camaraderie and friendship. For these reasons, I am thankful to be back once more. The thrill that accompanies each new visit to my old haunts — the same thrill that comes from a comment at my own humble blog-home — these have not diminished :)

That said, I do confess to missing some old friends. For example, Suganya would have liked the kitty pics I took last night…

daisy playing
daisy playing with her jingle toy

pinks talking to me
pinkie talking to me about how hungry he is ;)

Never mind, I tell myself… don’t look back. If you must, look upon the happy times and all you have gained from them!

And if you find yourself stalled in blog land with unpublished drafts in your dashboard, as I was for so long, here’s a thought. As miss m and I said to one another countless times throughout the past year of trial and tribulation… don’t stop, don’t give up! If you’re even thinking of giving up on just about *anything*, I promise you’ll think twice after viewing that little one-minute clip ;)

~~~ end tiny rant ~~~

Meanwhile, back at my dashboard….. several recipes lurk!

Lucky me, I have good friends out there; they never fail to come to my aid. Take dear ISG, who blogs all that tempting food for thought and plate, over at Daily Musings. I peeked in the other day and there was her perfectly timed vellarikka pachadi. I made this last night and it was awesome! I added brinjal and a couple of rogue okra, too :) Since we are still eating down a huge pot of rice and (green) beans, I wanted a little something fun to float in the curry — a la kadhi pakora.

isg's cucumber pachadi
ISG’s vellarikka pachadi ~ YUM!

Taking a stroll through my own archives, I found this recipe from Nags at Edible Garden, formerly Cooking and Me. Using that old standby Upvas Fasting Mix in place of besan, I mixed the batter and cooked it as a pancake, in a non-stick frying pan. Cucumber (yes, more cucumber!) took the place of potato and onion.

thick cucumber pancake
a thick cucumber pancake

It turned out better than I hoped — in fact it was great.
For once I didn’t skimp on oil for frying — I bet I used a whole TB! The pancake was crispy and crunchy outside, melting soft inside.

cucumber pancake
crunchy outside ~ soft inside

I broke this pancake up (after I ate about half of it hot!) and had it for my supper at work tonight, soaked in ISG’s pachadi — a loose and liberal adaptation of dahi vada with a double dose of cukes! ;)

my dinner
my dinner tonight ~ thanks ladies!

Cucumbers in check, next up was the gigantic lebanese squash. You may recall I was thrilled to have these growing earlier in the summer — and far be it from me to complain. Like plain old zucchini in Nana’s garden years ago, these did take over and come on much faster than I could cook ‘em. One day I thought they had all but gone by — I looked down to find this monster :)

miss squeaker and the squash
little miss squeaker isn’t much bigger than this squash ;)

Not to worry — as I was in backtracking mode, this chutney by Mythreyee’s hubby, originally using ridge gourd, came to the rescue! Lebanese squash is more watery than ridge gourd; it needed to be drained well before grinding and still came out a little thinner than I like. Nevertheless, it was as tasty as I remembered and also made a great, healthy alternative to guacamole. Served with Snyder’s of Hanover corn chips, it was a hit.

lebanese squash chutney
chutney made with lebanese squash ~ recipe by Mythreyee’s husband

Finally, we come now to the pickle section (just for you, dear sra)!

Disclaimer: Making pickles is fun and easy. Remember to follow safe food guidelines at all times. I have referred to USDA guidelines and others when preserving at home. I am not a food safety expert and am only relating what works for me in my kitchen.

Not to scare anyone off, just advising to err on the side of caution :) Here is a good place to start.

Food poisoning is nothing to joke about — if you make these or any other preserved product and you have the least inkling something is wrong — I would say follow that old addage: “when in doubt, throw it out”!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This bread and butter pickle recipe came from my mom. These are a treat because they’re not ‘sickly sweet’ like some bread and butter pickles from the store. I believe the addition of onion makes a difference too. The most important part, in my opinion, is to slice the cucumber and onion as thinly as possible. I like to use kosher salt — if you can’t find that, canning/pickling salt can be used. In a pinch, I am sure any coarse salt would work.

Mom’s Bread and Butter Cucumber Pickles

makes approx 2 pints

Vegetable preparation:

4 medium cucumbers
1 large yellow onion (preferably sweet)
2 TB kosher salt

cucumbers and sweet onion
cucumbers and sweet onion

kosher salt
kosher salt — my favorite brand is Diamond, but can’t find that in Michigan!

Pickling solution:

1 c white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 c white sugar
pickling spice (optional)

white vinegar and sugar
white vinegar and sugar ~ brand is not as important as freshness!

pickling spice
commercial pickling spice ~ you can omit, or make your own with yellow mustard seed, clove, bay leaf, and black peppercorns ~ this brand uses cinnamon but I remove that

You’ll need several pint or half-pint sized canning jars, also called mason jars. How many will vary depending on the size of your cucumbers. After you’ve made pickles for awhile, you know how much they will shrink after salting and can estimate. This recipe made 2 scant pints for me. You can reuse old canning jars and rings as long as they are clean. It’s preferable to use new lids each time you make pickles.

canning or mason jars
this package of half-pint mason jars came with brand new lids and rings

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wash the cucumbers well. Cut a bit off each end. Slice very thinly and place into a large, non-reactive bowl.

Next, peel and wash the onion. Cut a bit off each end. Slice very thinly and place into the bowl with the cucumbers.

Mix the cucumbers and onions well, separating the onion rings as you go. Add the salt and mix again. Cover and leave for four hours, stirring every hour.

thinly sliced cucumbers and onions tossed with salt
thinly sliced cucumbers and onion are mixed with kosher salt and left to stand

While the mixture is salting, prepare your jars:

Wash jars, lids, and rings well in hot sudsy water. Rinse well in hot water. Leave the jars upside down to drain, in the dish drainer or on a clean towel. Place the lids and rings into a clean plastic or metal bowl.

canning or mason jar
a pint-sized canning or mason jar, showing the three parts ~ jar, lid, and ring

When four hours is up, transfer the cucumbers and onions to a large colander. Rinse well under cold running water, tossing and squeezing to remove as much salt as possible.

cukes and onion after salting
cukes and onions after salting for four hours ~ you can see how they have wilted down

rinsing the cukes and onion
rinse the mixture well and squeeze to remove excess salt

Fill a pot or kettle with enough water for sterilizing the jars, lids, and rings. Bring this to a boil as you make the solution below.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the vinegar and sugar together, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. When this solution is hot and the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Run the glass jars under hot tap water to heat and temper them. When the plain water is boiling, discard the tap water and fill each jar with boiling water. It’s fine to let the water run over the rim too. Fill the bowl of lids and rings with boiling water as well.

preparing the canning jars
canning jars, lids and rings prepared with boiling water to sterilize

Now it’s time to pack your pickles, one jar at a time.

Empty the first jar, taking care not to scald yourself with the boiling water. Set it on a clean towel to absorb heat. If you are using pickling spice, put a scant teaspoon into the bottom of the jar now. Using a clean spoon or fork, fill the jar with the cucumber and onion mixture. Pack it in lightly, leaving at least a half inch at the top to allow room for the pickling solution.

canning jar with picking spice
optional pickling spice goes in first

filled canning jar
the jar is filled with cucumber and onion mixture ~ leaving room for solution

Now carefully pour the hot pickling solution over the veggies in their jar. You can pour directly from the pot, use a clean ladle, or a clean canning funnel. Fill the jars nearly to the top. Don’t worry if you run out of solution, just make more using the 1:1 vinegar to sugar ratio.

canning jar filled with pickling solution
carefully fill the jar with pickling solution ~ use a clean fork to press around the side of the jar, allowing the solution to seep down to the bottom

Place the lid on the jar and then the ring, tightening gently.

canning jar with lid applied
first the lid is applied

canning jar with lid and ring applied
then the ring is fastened over all

If everything is sufficiently hot, you may hear a slight pop when you fasten the ring — this means the jar has self-sealed — it is nothing to worry about. You can test whether the jar is sealed by pressing gently in the middle of the ring. If it bounces back, it is not sealed. (Don’t worry if your jars don’t self-seal. These are not processed pickles and must be refrigerated at all times.)

Repeat the process until all the jars are filled.

Allow the pickles to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge. They should keep for about a month after opening.

mom's bread and butter pickles
mom’s bread and butter pickles!

I wish I could take credit for the beautiful red cucumber kimchi I made — alas I cannot. It comes directly from this recipe with all credit to Dr. Kim.

cucumber kimchi from Dr. Kim
Dr. Kim’s cucumber kimchi

And sadly, I am still working on the banana peppers. When it came time to open the jar, they were mushy and not at all what I hoped. When I get that recipe settled, I will post it.

banana pepper pickles
banana pepper pickles ~ heat packed and not crispy :(

Leaving you now with a halfway decent shot of a halfway unusual bird sighting a few days ago — a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. He was lunching in a tree at the top of the steps that lead to beautiful, ever-changing Lake Superior :)

yellow-billed cuckoo
yellow-billed cuckoo ~ in the upper peninsula

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Up North Rocks

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan rocks — literally and figuratively!

Just back from a glorious mini-break, I am happily faced with two hundred-plus pics to go through (not bad for three days!) and a garden full of produce to preserve.

I promised pickles for dear sra and pickles I shall post soon.

For tonight, just a quick few photos from the lovely autumn days in the UP. The river shots are just for my dear friend ISG — we all know she is a river girl at heart! :)

muskallonge lake
muskallonge lake ~ view from the eastern shore

lake superior
lake superior shoreline

a tiny agate
a tiny agate… (lake superior rock!)

tahquamenon river
the tahquamenon river

cut river
the cut river where it flows into Lake Michigan

lake michigan ~ view from US2
looking west from US 2 ~ Lake Michigan in the UP

More UP fun to come — but next up — pickles, chutney and perhaps tomato jam :)

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It’s A Long Way To Tipperary, OOPS I Mean Toledo! Moving Home Part Four

Warning warning! Long post, not much food either. I’d best hurry along with this ‘moving home’ story before I’ve been home a whole year!

Do you ever make up your own lyrics? I did :)

I was playing with words when I put this title down — I was thinking (and singing in my mind) “it’s a long way to tipperary, it’s a long way to go… it’s a long way to tipperary, with the sweetest guy I know…”

Then I came to google the song and found it is an old WWI song, which has been translated into Kannada as something of a parody — how cool is that :)

If you care to hear the song, in English or Kannada or instrumental — here are a few links — I don’t pretend to have done thorough or proper research ;)

version one ~ mitch miller big band

version two ~ TP Kailasam Eternal Song ~ kannada

version three ~ dixieland

the lobby at erie

gallery of fossils
gallery of fossils embedded in a rock wall ~ outside the motel lobby at Erie

what was this...?
I wonder what creature this was in its long-ago life…

From Erie, with its fascinating fossils in the rock outside the motel, we drove down past the harbor where we saw one lone tug-barge combo, similar to this.

No time to stop for photos of the harbor, nor of the gracious homes lining the waterfront road — we were Toledo-bound and the temperature was rising fast. I was excited however, for today! Because we like the beautiful freighters that ply the Great Lakes (some might call us boatnerds), I planned this leg of the journey to take us along the shores of Lake Erie. Erie was the only one of the five Great Lakes I had yet to see, and it’s home to several port cities I had read about for years.

We set off early, in order to take the scenic route and avoid highway driving as long as possible. Traveling west on US20, we crossed the state line into Ohio.

ohio welcomes us!
requisite state welcome sign for the scrapbook

My first glimpse of the real Lake Erie was just a few miles ahead, at Conneaut (I didn’t count the harbor at Erie PA!). There, the dormant grasses waved in the morning sunshine and I was able to walk down onto the sand and bask in the beauty of the wide open water. Something about the Great Lakes speaks to me; Lake Erie on this hot blustery day did not disappoint.

wild grass at conneaut
grasses at conneaut

lake erie at conneaut
lake erie at Conneaut ~ hot and hazy day

lighthouse on lake erie
west breakwater light at Conneaut ~ loads of gulls on the jetty, and loads of ducks in the water ~ probably mergansers

From Conneaut, we meandered along Lake Road to the next stop, Ashtabula — home to an active Coast Guard Station, interesting bridges, and a rich maritime heritage. Ashtabula County itself is evidently home to many covered bridges as well. I wish there had been time to visit the Hulett unloader at Point Park. A vacation to Ohio may be in order!

ashtabula lift bridge
lift bridge at Ashtabula ~ every flag along the way was at half-mast for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing…

coal conveyor at ashtabula
interesting coal conveyor at Ashtabula

closeup of the conveyor
close up of the operation ~ complete with old coast guard house and fish tug tied up to the dock

vinca
vinca in bloom at the Ashtabula CGS

Leaving Ashtabula, we continued along the back roads through Geneva-on-the-Lake, a little tourist town which was still boarded up for the winter. You could envision it humming with summertime activity; like so many places on Cape Cod, the shuttered shops seemed to call out “come back on Memorial Day!” as we passed by.

By now it was nearly 100F in the car; concerned for the cats, we headed onto the highway to skirt around the crowded metropolis of Cleveland. Exiting west of the big city, we made one final sightseeing stop at the port of Lorain. The wind had really picked up and the water was a little choppy. A complex of purple martin houses stood at the shore — a surprise perk!

lakeview park
lakeview park at Lorain

lighthouse at lorain
lighthouse at Lorain

purple martin in flight
purple martin takes flight on the edge of Lake Erie

here's lookin' at you, kid!
purple martin on his front doorstep ~ here’s lookin’ at you kid!

Taking leave of Lorain, it was back onto the freeway to be blown — and I do mean *blown* — directly into Toledo. Never have I known such a strong crosswind while driving. Across the farmland of western Ohio, it was all I could do to hang onto the steering wheel! What a relief it was to unload our weary selves, along with two weary, hot little kitties, at the motel in Toledo. It was raining hard — severe thunderstorms had passed shortly before our arrival. In the aftermath of the downpour, I ventured out for our only takeout meal of the entire trip — the famous Tony Packo’s (apologies to any non-meat eaters)!

Notes on our travel through Ohio:

By this time, we were wise to Miss Daisy’s ways and let her ride in her cat carrier. There, she was somewhat shaded from the sun and content to be in her own little house. The carrier has mesh sides, so she always had a view of big brother Pinks riding along beside her in his bed. It was an unseasonably warm day for mid-April. In the car, the thermometer quickly reached 90F, then 100F.

Worried about the cats in such heat, we made frequent stops to be sure they were hydrated. For me, it was like having babies again.
We soaked paper toweling with cold water and squeezed it into their little mouths to be sure they were getting a drink — like it or not. Both cats got sponge baths at every stop, too. I can never thank dear G enough for being so diligent and helpful in caring for the kitties on that trip — and ever since.

They are truly now *our* kitties :)

ohio kitties
kitties in the hot ohio sunshine

dgtoledo
a weary dear G, leaning on the steadfast Subby ~ Toledo after the storm

~~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, we are swimming in cucumbers and more. Coming soon: pickles!

a million pickles!
pickles!

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Creatures of Yard and Garden

Just a few of the interesting guys (or gals!) who have surfaced lately…

walking stick
have you ever seen a walking stick?

who am I?
no idea what sort of caterpillar this is…

some kinda wasp
dg probably knows the scientific name for this ~ I think it’s a (harmless to humans) parasitic wasp

OK, enough insects…

baby chickadees
a family of baby chickadees has been hanging around…

ovenbird!
took me awhile to figure this one out ~ there were several out under the woodpile the other day ~ ovenbird!

scarlet tanager
scarlet tanager!

hermit thrush
this little hermit thrush loves the pond ~ when they sing, they sound like bells…

squeak
little miss squeaker is quite elderly ~ she spent the day outside while her room was scrubbed down

squeaker
she loved the carrots!

At last, a few days with temps over 70 have provided the garden with just the nudge it needed to start producing in earnest. We’ve been picking cucumbers like crazy, banana peppers like mad, and a few other odds and ends like bell peppers, dusky variety eggplant, and the odd cherry tomato. Fairytale brinjals are next in line and I hope the beans aren’t far behind. There are two varieties of pole beans, and some long beans and papdi beans have flowered along with the horticultural beans mom sent.

dusky eggplant
this dusky eggplant looks like the big bitter variety, but it’s sweet and tender

wall o'beans
one side of the wall o’beans!

beautiful bean flower
at last I caught the beautiful purple long bean flower open!

garden entrance
the entrance to the garden has been taken over by the lebanese squash ~ no end in sight!

Meanwhile, back in the house…

pakoras!
I made some pakoras with fresh picked veggies including lots of my fav, peppers ~ yum :)

pinksgibby
pinks and gibby form a tenuous friendship ~ sharing space but studiously ignoring one another ;)

I can’t wait to get outside in the morning — it was over 90F today so I expect the cucumbers will be thick.
How does your garden grow?

Comments (6)

Eggs with Spicy Gravy and Epic Tour of Top Secret Location!


remedy for a chilly night ~ eggs in spicy gravy

We’ve been in the deep freeze here, with nary a snowflake to be seen. Tonight there is a light snowfall at last, and it is still falling as I type. I’m happy to see it softly blanketing the frozen grass. This means great birdwatching tomorrow morning ~ the feeders are full and I’m hoping for a siskin or redpoll to join the usual suspects.

I was in the mood for something really spicy to ward off the chill, but I wasn’t in the mood for a ten-step evening in the kitchen. Plenty of eggs on the counter and plenty of onions too, hmm…

Here’s what I whipped up.

Eggs with Spicy Gravy

6 hard boiled eggs, yolks removed

For gravy, spray a pan with non-stick spray* and fry:

1 big onion, roughly chopped
1 inch ginger, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 sprig curry leaves
1 big green chile, slit
2 dried red chiles

Fry until onion is golden brown and starting to stick to the pan. Remove to a bowl and set aside.


browning the onions etc

To the pan, add:

1/4 c coconut (mine is frozen finely shredded)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 TB chana dalia

Dry roast this mixture until browned and fragrant. Remove and set aside. Don’t wash the pan.


roasted coconut and spices, fried onions and chiles, tomato

Grind the onion mixture and the coconut mixture up together (yep, skipping steps, lazy lazy…) :) Add 1 c water to the grinding bowl and rinse the residue — reserve this water.

Now heat 1 scant tsp oil in the pan. Add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 2 red chiles. Fry 2 minutes, then add 1 small chopped tomato. When the tomato starts to soften, add the ground mixture. Cook five minutes, stirring, then add:

1/2 tsp red chile powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp methi powder

Cook a further 2 minutes, then add the reserved rinsing water and a very small bit of jaggery and mix well. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes, stirring. Add the egg whites.

Voila! Quick and spicy eggs :)

note: the addition of methi may seem strange — I did not add this initially but when I tasted the gravy, it was lacking something — I tossed in the methi on a hunch and that was the missing link!

*Non-stick spray can be substituted with a couple of sprays from an oil spritzer — I’m trying to avoid excess oil and this treatment makes the onions brown up nicely.


they’re getting along swimmingly!

~~~~~~~~~~

My sister and I went to a Top Secret Location on the weekend. Feast your eyes, and see if you can guess where! ;)

disclaimer: I did my best to keep people out of photos, but on the busy weekend it was not so easy. Any appearance of you, your family member, your best friend or next-door neighbor is strictly unintentional! My goal was the food not the folks :)


entrance with worker serving up fried king trumpet mushrooms, gift boxes of mandarin oranges, persimmons, giant fuji apples and asian pears


just a few of the dozens of kinds of tofu, with a few bean sprouts thrown in for good measure


wide view of produce section


the giant korean radish section


hot and spicy kimchi alley, also many prepared specialty dishes in here


a smattering of the pickles and miso on display


fresh noodles, yum!!


rice (ok, this shouldn’t shock anyone) :)


overview of seafood section, frozen in foreground, fresh counter off in distance to the left, where they will fix your selection Any Way You Please. I have seen fresh kingfish here… hmmm :)


frozen dumplings ~ some of about a hundred varieties! various Asian specialty seafood and meatballs, sausage, etc fill the upright cases.


myriad dried noodles, from japan, china, korea, vietnam, and more


even more dried noodles!


dried shiitake mushrooms, some in fancy gift packs


condiment central ~ one of the endless aisles


the fabulous food court ~ lunch anyone!?

~~~~~~~~

This is truly only a taste of the wonder and delight your local Top Secret Location has in store (no pun!). If you’re lucky enough to live near one, run, don’t walk, especially on a weekend, and be sure to get there early and have a small bite of breakfast before you leave. If you’re a foodie like me, it will take you at least 3 hrs to get through the place, and that’s on the first visit.

The preferred plan of attack, developed over several months of experimentation, is to arrive around 10 am on a Sunday (not as crowded as Saturday). This is sufficiently early to secure a parking space, but not so early that you’re tired and cranky by the time they start whipping out the endless free samples. If you don’t get enough for lunch that way, you can haul your purchases out to the car and come back for lunch at the food court. I highly recommend the soondubu :) Stop by the bakery on the way out for a mini-loaf of pan bread or a green pea pastry, and perhaps just one last bite of the sweet persimmon samples as you head out the door…

I tried to get a snapshot of that tropical fruit sample table as we were leaving, but a manager-type caught sight of me (what, after 2 hrs in there taking photos??) and sternly ordered me to put my camera away. He did not, however, confiscate my camera — so while my evil plan of stealing trade secrets lies in pathetic ruins, my ultimate goal of the epic tour is realised. ;)

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Kohlrabi Sambhar — The Joke’s On Me!

fresh kohlrabi
fresh and tasty kohlrabi bulbs and greens

Before the New Year I promised to post kohlrabi sambhar, inspired by Anita’s delicious haak. Looking back in my archives I saw that the joke was on me —

I’ve already posted the very same, way back in 2009!

Well, it didn’t spoil by keeping — this is still far and away my favorite sambhar, aside from Suganya’s spicy sambhar, or Padma’s udipi sambhar, or roasted eggplant sambhar or oh, yum, jackfruit chips sambhar… ok, I admit it, there is no such thing as favorite sambhar. Happily there are endless varieties to try!

This is quite a lame excuse for a post, using all these old links, but it’s fun to delve into the past, and next time I promise something more original. At least I’ve kept my promise to myself — get back here and post *something* before another week flies by. This weekend, perhaps a field trip to the new Wegman’s is in order! Now that would be something to get excited about :)

To redeem myself, here are a few belated photos from late summer in Michigan’s glorious Upper Peninsula…

birch trees in late afternoon
birch trees on the shores of a small lake ~ late afternoon in the upper peninsula

lone loon in the upper peninsula of michigan
a lone loon glides along…

great blue heron stalking
in the distance, a great blue heron stalks the shores of that little lake

great blue heron upper peninsula
contemplating supper…

northern lake huron landscape
landscape of northern lake huron shore near les cheneaux islands

northern lake huron fauna
flora of northern lake huron

a small island in northern lake huron
a small island in northern lake huron

a small island in northern lake huron
a closer look

monarch on northern lake huron
monarch on goldenrod ~ north shore of lake huron

monarch on northern lake huron
monarch on goldenrod ~ north shore of lake huron again

SS Herbert Jackson
one of my favorite boats ~ the classic laker Herbert C. Jackson! just managed to catch her upbound to the Soo; here she is in Lake Munuscong, the area where the St. Mary’s River empties into Lake Huron

No trip to the Upper Peninsula would be complete without an agate foray!

unusual green and white agate from lake superior
an unusual agate from lake superior ~ it looks blackish but it’s actually green and white

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Is it global warming, or just cyclical oddity? My daffodils are coming up in the backyard; it’s been an unseasonably warm fall and early winter.

Yesterday the weather finally turned cold — not just here but up and down the east coast — strawberry farmers in Florida were setting ice film on their fields to save the fruit, and it was 11 F on my way to work this morning.

Now it feels good to recall those lazy, hazy days of summer, melding into golden autumn.

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Merry Finches to All, and Happy New Year 2012!

tower of redpolls
a tower of redpolls ~ february 2011

By this time last winter, the ground was buried under two feet of snow; this winter we’ve seen only a few cold days and even fewer snowflakes — showing up most auspiciously, just for miss m on Christmas morning.

No little redpolls have come looking for my thistle seed yet, but good things come to those who wait!

A belated Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, and all the other wonderful winter holidays I’ve missed — I have been busy boxing up books and glassware and weeding out old clothes — now that the college grad is finally set up in a good steady job, and the college sophomore is fully engaged at school, it’s time to get serious about trading in the old homestead for something more managable.
Could 2012 be the year that Michigan becomes reality? I can only hope!!

packing mess
packing mess ~ my desk is under there somewhere…

Meantime, it’s been a wonderful Christmas; kiddies and kitties happily in attendance.

daisy loves the new tree!
daisy loves the new tree…

cardinal tree topper
cardinal topper strapped in and ready to go!

christmas eve 2011
christmas eve ~ calm before chaos

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year ~ filled with peace, joy,
lots of yummy kohlrabi sambhar (inspired by this, coming soon) and many wonderful winter finches!

male redpoll
male redpoll at the sunflower feeder ~ february 2011

male redpoll
another male redpoll waiting his turn

female redpoll
female redpoll ~ february 2011

little flock of redpolls and goldfinches
mixed flock of redpolls and goldfinches ~ february 2011

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Goan Fish Chowder a la Bong Mom

garden in new hampshire on memorial day weekend
newly planted new hampshire garden in Memorial Day sunshine ~ complete with picket fence!

A few weeks ago I saw this irresitible curry dish at Bong Mom’s Cookbook.
It was one of those drop-everything-and-cook-now moments, just like I had with Suganya’s sambhar a long time ago.

Sure enough, the dish was even tastier than it looked; I’ve made it 3-4 times since. I’ve made it as intended, I’ve made it with tofu in place of shrimp…

goan shrimp curry from Bong Mom
with tofu *and* shrimp…

I guess you could say I am hooked :)

Tonight I had a nice fresh piece of haddock but no ideas. I thought of S’s wonderful Goan Curry and decided to try it with the fish. I also had a few boiling (waxy) potatoes… hmmm…

While the onions were cooking I thought the potatoes might be good in the curry. By the time I got to frying the spice paste, I had diced the potatoes and tossed them into the pot. That was a throwback to New England clam chowder, in which you cook the potatoes in the clam broth base so they absorb the flavor. By the time the spice paste and tomatoes were well-cooked, the potatoes were about half done — perfect! Time for the coconut milk. Since this was fast turning into ‘chowder’ I made it a little more liquid with water, and covered the pot to simmer until the potatoes were tender.

goan fish chowdah cooking
potatoes cooking in the spicy coconut milk broth

Had I been looking for a low-fat supper I would have put the fish straight in, but by now I was really into this chowder parallel. I shallow-fried the fish in a little coconut oil — o heavenly aroma!

shallow-frying fresh haddock

When you add your fish to the chowder depends on how you like it done — I prefer my fish just barely cooked through, so I added it at the very end, turned off the heat and let it rest about ten minutes before serving. If you prefer your fish falling-apart-done, you could add it sooner and simmer awhile longer before the resting period.

goan fish chowder ~ heaven in a bowl!
goan fish chowder a la Bong Mom ~ fusion heaven in a bowl!

Oh, the delights of this tasty dish! The sharp and tangy bite of vinegar, garlic and chiles, mellowed by the rich coconut; succulent fish and melt-in-your-mouth potatoes, all swimming happily in an aromatic sea of goodness.

All I need now are a few oyster crackers — but I never was a fan of oyster crackers… some rice will do even better.

muthu samba rice in waterfall
muthu samba rice ~ I still think it looks like sugar…

So to recap, this is nothing more than Bong Mom’s wonderful Goan Shrimp Curry with fish fried in coconut oil in place of shrimp, and a few potatoes cooked in the spice paste.

If you haven’t tried the original recipe yet, don’t wait another moment!

bong moms goan spice paste
tantalizing and addictive ~ Bong Mom’s goan spice paste

Thanks for the fusion inspiration, S!

And to S in NH — thanks for the new garden :)

feathered friend in nh garden
I’ve heard of bunnies at the garden gate, but turkeys?!? ;)

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