Archive for wildlife

Pumpkin Sambhar ~ Literally!

During my short break from classes, I am having a blast just going to work and coming home — sometimes even having a day off like today. I was poking around for something to do with a leftover ‘pie pumpkin’ from the fall. After Halloween, a local farm stand had these for fifty cents apiece and I couldn’t resist — I bought three. Two went out to the deer.

two fawns
two fawns at the bird feeder in broad daylight ~ that’s how cold it is and how hungry they are

With the last pumpkin, I thought I might make this pumpkin soup in a pumpkin.

As usual when I have time on my hands (a rare occurrence these days!), my mind started turning after reading the recipe. I decided it would be far more fun to make sambhar. OK, I know, when is it NOT more fun to make sambhar? Never! But this sambhar is baked in the pumpkin.

I made a regular onion sambhar with some carrot as well. I added fennel seeds and fresh garlic to the usual tadka, and a pinch each of ginger powder and nutmeg powder with the sambhar powder. A little extra tamarind water offset the sweetness of pumpkin. I made the sambhar on the stovetop, but did not cook the veggies all the way. I hollowed out the pumpkin, rubbed it with oil outside, and filled it with the half-done sambhar. Baked in a 350F oven for about two hours, the sambhar came out delicious. The fringe benefit was the pumpkin bowl — its softened insides bathed in all the spices and just waiting to be scraped out into the sambhar. A little bit of trouble but well worth it!

pumpkin and onions
hollowed out pumpkin with unusually small regular yellow onions ~ I treated them as sambhar onions and they worked perfectly

sambhar ~ ready to bake in a pumpkin
all ready to bake ~ I covered the pumpkin with its natural lid for the first hour ~ then removed the lid and baked an hour longer

voila ~ sambhar in a pumpkin!
voila! sambhar in a pumpkin bowl ~ perfect comfort food for the cold weather

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A Wee Christmas Verse and How To Wrap A Cat

‘Tis the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a kittie is stirring, not even to chase a mouse.
The stockings are hung by the wood stove with care
In hopes that Saint Kittielaus soon will be there.

The kitties are nestled all snug in their chairs
While visions of kittynip dance in their heads.
I’ve thrown down my apron, Meg’s picked up her book,
After hours in the kitchen, we’ve nothing left to cook.

So from Pinks and Daisy, from Gibby and Lemur
From little old Squeaker, asleep by the fire,
We wish you much happiness, your joy our desire.
And let us exclaim as we purr out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all,
And to all a good night!

xmas eve kitty buffet
pre-christmas kitty buffet

xmas eve daisy
daisy, asleep in her chair

xmas eve pinks
pinks has decided he will not be starring in how to wrap a cat for christmas — the sequel

xmas eve squeaker
little squeaker is going on 22 yrs old…

xmas eve deer
magical deer outside ~ late afternoon on christmas eve

german apple pancake
we made german apple pancakes!

the golden boys
the golden boys

my christmas gift!
the best gift any day of the year ~ miss m is here!!

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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 πŸ˜‰
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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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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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 πŸ™‚

pinksgibby
pinks and gibby form a tenuous friendship ~ sharing space but studiously ignoring one another πŸ˜‰

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?

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Beggie Subzi and Moving Home ~ Part One

backyard wildlife sanctuary
not so uncommon in the new home ~ a doe wanders into the back yard in search of supper…

Some of you may know that I dreamed of moving to Michigan for a long time. There was a long period during which much of my and the kids’ immediate futures were out of our control (nobody was hurt physically; suffice to say that a few missteps made by another person affected one and all).

The house was sold last fall. Kids, kitties and I spent quite a few months in a period of transition.

Here then, is the serialised synopsis of the story!

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

Packing up the house was quite a little job πŸ˜‰

kitchen chaos

the kitchen halfway through packing

If my favorite place in the old house was the kitchen; my favorite part of the kitchen was the ‘wall of fame’. From the time the kids were small, I would periodically stand them against the wall next to the cellar door and measure their height. This grew to include the heights of random friends and family who happened to pass by.

A quirky bit to be sure, but then, I have always let the kids write on the walls πŸ˜‰

wall of fame

wall of fame

Once the last box was packed and on the moving van, the m’n m’s and kitties and I relocated to the hometel. We made it a merry Christmas in spite of generic surroundings. Home is where the heart is, indeed! We had alot of fun with the luggage cart, which m dubbed the ‘awkward turtle’ when we used it to haul groceries upstairs!

awkward turtle grocery cart
m and the awkward turtle full of propel and other groceries ~ hallway of the hometel

hometel xmas

Christmas at the hometel ~ note kitties and decorations ~ random cooking show on HGTV! πŸ˜‰

After the new year, we celebrated m’s 21st birthday with the usual popcorn fanfare…

smartfood surprise

note car full of smartfood popcorn and laughing kids ~ hooray for birthday surprises!

In late winter, with M successfully installed in his first very own apartment (!!) and m settled back at college after winter break, the kitties and I moved up to NH to stay with my dear friend S.

You may recall S from my New Year’s Feast a while back πŸ™‚

kitties at dear S's home
kitties relaxing at dear S’s place

We enjoyed S’s incredible hospitality until mid-April; when the uncertainty of the past two years was finally resolved and it was time to take a leap of faith! Dear G flew out to drive home with the kitties and me. Before leaving New England, we took a little trip to the White Mountains.

Franconia Notch State Park
beautiful Franconia Notch State Park

Here, the Pemigewasset River tumbles through the woods to a magical place called The Basin.

basin
the basin ~ a natural wonder!

Continuing north, we passed by Sugar Hill, home of some locally renowned cheddar cheese. If you visit, you will be greeted by friendly folks offering up samples galore… yum!

harmanscheese
country store and post office in sugar hill, nh

From Sugar Hill, the road winds down before turning up again towards the White Mountains.

view of white mtns from sugar hill
view of the white mountains from the road out of sugar hill

bretton woods
the historic Mount Washington Hotel (now an Omni property… kind of sad)

high wind haven!
close up of the Mount Washington Observatory ~ some of the highest wind gusts in the world have been recorded here!

Snow was still on the ground when we arrived back to dear S’s place in the early morning. Bags were packed and waiting; we loaded my most precious earthly treasures (can’t even count the kids in here — they are just *out of this world*!!) into the little Subaru.

The kitties went in last, not entirely pleased with me…

much meowling
the kitties doth protest!

… and that very day we wound our way south from New Hampshire to northern Massachusetts, to pick up the Mohawk Trail which would take us into New York State.

But that is for part two. On to the beggie subzi!

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

beggie carrot
rutabaga and carrot

The humble rutabaga usually makes its appearance on the autumn and winter table in the form of “mashed beggies” or as an integral part of pasty filling. This brassica can have a pleasantly bitter taste which is much improved with long cooking and liberal doses of butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper — the way it’s been dressed for Thanksgiving as long as I can remember.

Here in the north woods, I am learning all over again what it means to make do with what’s in the fridge. I had a hankering for pumpkin subzi, but there’s no room for new veggies ’till the old ones are gone. No worries, there’s a beggie here! I made pumpkin subzi with a rutabaga. This is probably not a traditional Indian dish, but with a little imagination it worked out beautifully. Carrots add sweetness, while fennel gives the dish a subtle something special that can’t be defined.

This is simple as can be — takes awhile, but well worth it πŸ™‚

Beggie Subzi

For veggies:

1 medium rutabaga (beggie, swede, yellow turnip), peeled and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

beggies and carrots
rutabaga and carrot ~ roughly chopped

For tadka/seasoning:

2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 black cardamom

1 TB ginger-garlic paste
1 small red onion, diced

Optional seasoning:

1/2 tsp methi powder
1 TB Kitchen King (I like MHD) or your favorite masala

~~~~~~~~

On medium, heat oil in a heavy pot, when hot splutter mustard, add cumin, fennel and black cardamom and stir one minute. Add gg paste and cook a couple of minutes, then add onion and cook till it begins to soften. Lower heat and add ‘beggie’ and carrot chunks, stir to coat with spices and cook over low heat 4-5 min. Add 1 c water, raise back to medium heat, cover and cook approx. 60 min, checking every 10 min or so, until veggies have softened. Add optional masala powders if using, stirring to mix well. Add another cup of water and cook until veggies are completely soft. This may take another 60 min, or less if you’re in the kitchen watching the stove closely.

When veggies are soft and liquid is almost absorbed, mash roughly and serve with rice or any bread.

beggie subzi
beggie subzi with rice ~ simple craving satisfied!

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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 πŸ™‚

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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101 Reasons To Move To Michigan

I can think of at least 101 reasons to move to Michigan.
I could have stayed up all night detailing them too,
but it’s getting late, so 32 will have to do.
That’s more than enough for me!

I apologize for the lack of a recipe post.
I wanted something up here to continue the fun of posting for dear Nupur’s marathon — but this hasn’t been the best week for relaxation and cooking.
This will have to suffice till I can get back to the kitchen!

In the spirit of exhaustion, I just put these pics up in alphabetical
(by file name, that is) order.

In the end, that turned out fun. Hope you enjoy πŸ™‚


eye agate in the rough


Lake Superior rocks back and forth like an ocean, creating pools like this in an instant ~ where one might find an agate!


Roger Blough at night ~ upbound on the St. Clair River


some of a million coneflowers ~ outside Trout Lake in the upper peninsula


Canadian Steamship Lines Frontenac ~ heading downbound at Mission Point, Soo


the anchor of the Edward L. Ryerson, downbound Mission Point


a northern Michigan home garden


beach peas on Lake Michigan in summer


autumn storm on Lake Michigan


Lake Superior through the trees


mergansers swimming and diving at the Soo


the rocky shore at old mission point ~ lake michigan showing her caribbean colors


American Victory, steaming downbound at Mission Point, Soo ~ thanks, mm!!


the northwoods, in paradise


one little piping plover


sunset over whitefish bay ~ paradise


garden peas climbing a propane tank ~ michigan home garden


more piping plovers


juvenile rose-breasted grosbeak


adult male rose-breasted grosbeak


kitty watching a mess of redpolls ~ lunching in northern michigan ~ photo by G


too many redpolls to count ~ photo by G


ring-billed gull at mission point


sandhill crane ~ somewhere out along a county road in the UP


another sandhill on the same county road, back in the wilderness,
collecting nesting material


male scarlet tanager ~ they flit about so much ~ good luck to me getting a pic!


cactus-like sedum ~ growing on the shore of lake michigan


stumpy lake skegemog ~ part of the chain of lakes


pop-quiz! find the snow bunting
(in winter plumage)


a beaver out of water, at the soo ~ eventually the border patrol came and got him out of the road and back into the river


morels in springtime ~ photo courtesy dear G


whitefish point in spring ~ lighthouse, lake, and laker

Are you ready to move yet? πŸ™‚

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