Archive for wildlife

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 🙂

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? 🙂

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Someone to Watch Over Me

“There’s a somebody I’m longing to see
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone to watch over me…

I’m a little lamb who’s lost in a wood
I know I could always be good
To one who’ll watch over me…

Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh how I need
Someone to watch over me
Someone to watch over me…”

— George Gershwin

mama sanderling, watching over her babies at the edge of Lake Superior

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What Happened To…

…. the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer?

have a listen to Nat King Cole’s classic, set to pics courtesy of Snowqueen555.
The last sunset pic reminds me of Michigan,
so thanks, Snowqueen, whomever you may be!

Well it’s certainly crazy, but not hot and hazy — more like a June monsoon in my neck of the woods. If New England has seen five sunny days this month, I’ll eat my hat. Also not much time for lazy! The girl-child is off to drivers’ ed and then summer camp — while the boy-child is on break between classes and a summer internship. It seems once school lets out, life gets more hectic! I was, however, fortunate to enjoy a visit to my beloved upper peninsula over the past couple of months.

sandhill cranes ~ twenty miles north of nowhere and just south of Lake Superior

snowbuntings wfp
snow buntings playing at whitefish point

the lighthouse at whitefish point ~ with a laker far off on the horizon

lake superior agate

dream boat ~ the Edward L. Ryerson ~ steaming downbound from the Soo

a sunset in paradise…

And the garden, of course, takes much spare time in a most rewarding way!

As a very late birthday gift, I bought myself some organically grown heirloom tomato plants which arrived late in May, all the way from California (thanks, mom!).

In spite of the heavy rains and lack of sun, these tomatoes are taking off.

marianna’s peace ~ heirloom ‘potato-leafed’ tomato ~ early June

… and late June

How does your garden grow?

Oh, and by the way… I’ve been cooking too, albeit mostly simple things of late.
I am hoping for some hot weather in July to get homemade dosa/idly batter going quickly! Tonight, it’s cool and rainy, so it’s this Udupi temple special from Ramya’s Mane Adige ~ a dish so delectable that it’s become a fast favorite. She made hers with brinjal; I also added pumpkin to mine in the form of sweet buttercup squash. So sweet in fact, that I didn’t add much jaggery. The squash was also a good thickener, so I didn’t use coconut. And of course, for seasoning, it was none other than ISG’s magical sambhar podi 🙂 No photos of that, as it’s still on the stove, but check out Ramya’s pic and you’ll be drooling, I promise. Thanks, Ramya!

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What Would You Do…

with this…?

53 grams of feathery piping plover among a ton of Lake Superior agates
(the agates are just waiting to be found!)

with this?

half a pound of pungent peeled garlic cloves

with this…

colorful dals
half a pound of colorful washed moong, masoor, and val dals

or with these…

furry felines
thirty-three and a half pounds of furry felines sleeping cosily on Thanksgiving

What would you do if you were invited to a very special occasion — Nritya Nipuna no less — with a birthday party to follow?

I have been invited to this special celebration and I humbly ask for your advice 🙂

What would you wear?

What would you bring for the birthday kids (there are two — a boy and girl)?
Is there a gift of special significance for sixteen-year-olds?

Would you bring some food along with the gifts; would that be welcome?
The party is to be held at a local school.

What would you do, if you were me?

monarch at lake michigan

Thank you in advance 🙂

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Canary Beans with Brinjal and Goda Masala ~ Full Moon Rising

canary beans
buttery yellow canary beans ~ dry and soaked

It’s been hard to get back into blogging recipes! I have lots of things I want to try and a couple of projects I want to work on, but somehow I can’t get myself moving fast enough for my liking. Oh well, it’s just a little bump in the blog-road… nothing to worry myself about. Baby steps to get back in the swing!

I am a big fan of dear ISG’s cooking, which you can find over at Daily Musings.
I had some beautiful fresh brinjals in the fridge, and I was in the mood for some beans. ISG does great things with bean-and-veggie combos, but I was too tired and lazy to grind paste or powder. Instead I left the onion chopped fine and used dry ingredients, with flavors inspired by ISG’s spicy masalas. Then for a little twist, I added my quasi-goda masala. The result was surprisingly good!

If you haven’t tried canary beans, also known as frijoles canarios, hurry out and get some from your local Latin American market. They are rich and buttery, unlike any bean I’ve ever tasted.


Canary Beans with Brinjal and Goda Masala

For the beans:

1/2 c canary beans, soaked 6-8 hours
1-2 dried red chiles
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch of hing

For the brinjal gravy:

1 tsp canola oil
1 TB ginger paste
1 TB garlic paste
1 big red onion, chopped very fine
5-6 small purple brinjals, cut in quarters
1 TB dhania-jeera powder
1 TB goda masala** (see note below)
1/2 tsp kashmiri chile powder
pinch of javitri powder (my Hindi vocab word-of-the-week!)
1/2 tsp salt

2 TB tomato paste (optional)

chopped cilantro to garnish


Drain and rinse the beans. Cook in the pressure cooker with the turmeric, hing, dried red chiles and 4-5 cups water. (I don’t have a whistling pressure cooker — I cooked these about 12 minutes and they were a bit too soft. Next time I’d probably quit at 10 min). Once cooked, set aside and reserve the water.

For the brinjal gravy:

Heat the canola oil in a medium pan over med-high. Saute the ginger and garlic paste for a minute, then add chopped onions. Saute a further 5 minutes over med-high — if they start to stick, add a little bean water to free them up.

Now add the brinjals and cook another 5 minutes, stirring and adding more bean water as needed to keep from sticking. After 5 minutes, add all the powdered spices and salt. Stir well, reduce heat to med-low and cover the pot. Cook 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until brinjals are tender.

Now pour on the beans and their cooking water. If you are using the tomato paste, add that now as well. The mixture will be very liquidy. Turn up the heat and let the gravy boil about 5 minutes. Then lower the heat and let it simmer another 10-15 minutes, or to the desired consistency.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

I had this with some cooked cauliflower (yep, it’s Weight Watchers time again!),
but like so many bean dishes, I think it will be even tastier tomorrow.
Then I will try it over rice. 🙂

canary beans with brinjal
canary beans with brinjal and goda masala ~ a bean dish a la Indosungod!

**NOTE: I don’t have all the ingredients to prepare an authentic goda masala, but I did find something close in the store: Badshah brand Rajwadi Garam Masala (oddly, stone flower is not listed as an ingredient on the website, but it is on my package). This is the closest thing to the real deal I have found yet.

More fiddling with the new camera… I really need to take a class before I can use this properly.

Lots of animal visitors are leaving tracks in the snow…

many tracks
many tracks to and from the swingset in the backyard

I didn’t see who made all those tracks, but today I looked up from washing the dishes and saw another visitor watching from afar…

coopers hawk
a beautiful coopers hawk in the backyard ~ the females are larger than the males and this was a big girl!

I ran outside with the camera, and just managed to get that one shot above before she noticed me, even from that far away, and abandoned her perch…

coopers hawk
female coopers hawk taking flight

Pinkie is a moon cat. Whenever the moon is bright, he likes to sit in the window seat or doorway and soak up the moonlight. Photo quality is not great here, but his expression is clear 😉

moon cat
pinks the moon kitty

full moon
hazy full moon on this chilly January evening

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Kadaisal, The Little Masher and Sumeet, The New Mixie

It could almost be the title of a children’s book:

“Once upon a time, there was a lovely wooden mathu — masher — named Kadaisal. Kadaisal the Mathu was a humble, traditional utensil. Sometimes she felt inferior to the fancier, newer machines suddenly available in trendy “Y2K” shops. What she didn’t realise was that with her classic beauty, she was most precious to all who knew her. With her graceful shape, she made joyous ease of mashing the yummy dals and veggies cooked in her kitchen. When one day she joined a collection of strange kitchen tools, she was scared. Perhaps she wouldn’t fit in.
She rested, (somewhat) timidly, on the (somewhat) cluttered countertop, wondering what would become of her in this new kitchen far from home.
(She didn’t know she was already at home in her *new* home!).

Soon after, Sumeet the Mixie moved in, unannounced, yet also welcomed.
Sumeet was much bigger of course, newer, and showing off — making all sorts of noise, taking over the counter, where little Kadaisal needed only a tiny spot. Sumeet and his siblings, the extra blades and jars, needed a great deal more space and often some earplugs for the user to wear.

Poor Kadaisal, already growing happy in her new home, soon thought her useful days were over.

It took only one batch of ISG’s mashed brinjal to prove her wrong. The bigger and shinier Sumeet could turn out amazing powders and silky smooth chutneys, and for that he was most appreciated! Still, that could not compare with the delicacy of Kadaisal’s traditional touch.

Kadaisal was reassured. Confidently she took up residence among the other wooden spoons in the pottery crock near the stove… awaiting her next turn in a pot of dal or brinjal… ”


One such Sumeet traveled all the way from India to Massachusetts via Canada, thanks to my secret santa 🙂 He rests comfortably waiting for the tough grinding jobs that need doing! Bring on the idlis!

One such mathu traveled all the way from India to Massachusetts in search of a happy new home, all thanks to dearest ISG who takes such good and generous care of my humble Indian kitchen! 🙂

Oh, and in case you wondered ~~ they both lived happily ever after, content to live side-by-side on the (somewhat) cluttered countertop, doing their unique work 🙂


OK, so that was a little bit of a silly tale, but my sincere sentiment was behind it and my most humble thanks go out to dearest Secret Santa and ISG 🙂

I’ve been away from the blogs too long — I promise to get around to visit soon.
I miss you all! Alot has happened since New Year’s Day. I was sick for a time with sinus problems (see ISG’s kollu paruppu rasam for a good remedy!) and then the kids’ vacations were upon me.

*begin bragging mom section*

My son made high honors with straight A’s for first term of sophomore year in college, and my daughter was chosen for a part in a very small cast of a Holocaust play at her high school — they’re keeping me busy lately, but happily so.

*end bragging mom section*

Another very happy thing is, I went for a little vacation to Michigan ~ always too short! 🙂 Still another is, I have a new camera, and I haven’t learned to use it very well yet — so my photos here are a bit poor. However, I have cooked some yummy things with the new Sumeet and the new Mathu.

Here are a few…

mythreyee’s hubby’s ridge gourd chutney
Mythreyee’s hubby’s Ridge Gourd Peppercorn Chutney
Made exactly according to their recipe with a little garlic added ~
do try, ’cause it’s *delicious*

ISG’s kollu chutney and rasam
ISG’s kollu paruppu chutney and rasam have healing powers indeed!
After days of totally blocked sinuses and no aromas, I can finally smell again.
And oh, the taste!
I used fresh tamarind water and it was excellent. I couldn’t stop eating the rasam.


And let’s not forget Little Kadaisal, who made me this lovely kathrikkai kadaisal with just a few graceful swishes 🙂

kathrikkai kadaisal from ISG’s Daily Musings
kathrikkai kadaisal, made in the traditional way ~ thank you ISG!


A few snow-shots with the new camera. I am still learning 🙂

snowy woods out back
snowy woods in the backyard… about two thirds of the way down, on the right, you can barely see the deer tracks in the faint, shrouded moonlight…

deer tracks close up
deer tracks in brighter light ~ leading from my driveway up through neighbor’s yard to the woods out back

moon in hazy winter night sky
the winter moon in a haze, far above the swamp maple out back…

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Jihva for Chocolate and Winter in Michigan

I must be getting old. I took a few days away at the end of December — came down with a bit of a cold, and now here it’s January 5 and I am still not caught up with the New Year!

Happily, I am able to make it to Jihva for Chocolate by the skin of my teeth. I’m sorry, Deepz, for the very late entry — so glad you extended that deadline 🙂

When I was a girl, my great-aunt used to make these “cookies” for my sister and me. She always used Nestle butterscotch morsels. I remember this in large part not only because they tasted so good, but because we kids, at such a young age, could help. Nowadays with the microwave, it’s an even better recipe for young ones. They can do most everything themselves with only a watchful eye on the micro to be sure the morsels don’t scorch.

I found chocolate-caramel morsels in the store today, so decided to try those. My daughter took one taste and promptly carried the whole batch off to a gathering of her friends this eve, so I guess the recipe stood the test of time 😉

No-Bake Chocolate-Caramel Krinkles
makes about 16-20 snacks

1 10-12 oz bag Nestle chocolate-caramel morsels
1/3 c peanut butter
3 c corn flakes cereal

choc caramel morsels and pb
choc-caramel morsels and peanut butter ready to microwave

In a large bowl, microwave the morsels and peanut butter on half power, about 2 minutes — check after the first minute as microwaves vary. Stir until smooth. Mix in the corn flakes. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper.

Let stand until hardened — about 30-45 min.

Good luck keeping them around with kids in the house 🙂

Chocolate-Caramel Krinkles
Easy No-Bake Chocolate-Caramel Krinkles

Thanks Deepz, for choosing this yummy ingredient and bringing back some sweet memories 🙂


My Michigan trip was far too short this time. Winter beggars can’t be choosers however — I’ll take a couple of days up north, any day. Still homesick 🙂

pileated woodpecker
pileated woodpecker ~ for perspective, this bird is large as a crow

icy fence at Holland, MI
ice hanging from a fence at Holland, MI

lake michigan sunset
snow-covered sand dunes, under the muted colors of a wintry sunset over Lake Michigan

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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

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

cozy kitties
cozy kitties

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”!

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Winter Wonderland

We’ve had some snow this week! Last night’s batch had piled up pretty high by this morning, but mild temps this afternoon and evening produced this bubbly effect in the backyard tonight — reminds me of a pancake ready to be turned 😉

pancake snow
pancake snow in the backyard

One morning earlier this week, a great big buck deer wandered out of the little woods back there. I didn’t have the camera to capture him, but today there were some smaller creatures looking for a bite in the windy, sleety storm.

dark-eyed junco
dark-eyed junco ~ snowbird

chickadee sheltered in the arborvitae

keeping warm shelling a sunflower seed

Pass by Menu For Hope for a spot of the good feeling that comes from sharing with those in need 🙂

sleepy kitties
warmth and comfort in the midst of the storm

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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 enjoying the fallout from birdfeeder

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! 🙂

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