Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Squidoo Charity Giveaway

Hey! Have you heard? The March of Dimes is in the running for the $80,000 Squidoo Charity Giveaway. http://www.squidoo.com/squidoo-charity-giveaway

They need our help! Every vote is worth $2. The contest is running until October 15th or there are 40,000 votes. Please, please go and vote for MOD. It is a great way to support all the work they do without it costing you a dime. Isn't that refreshing!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Birthday party hats

“I can make a hat out of a paper napkin. You start with a square.”

“No you don’t! You need a rectangle.”

I looked on in disbelief as first Ross then Louise started to fold their napkins into party hats. I have no idea how to make a party hat or anything else for that matter out of a paper napkin. (I can do a great octopus out of a straw paper though.)

We had finished a fantastic meal of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, smashed potatoes with sour cream and parm and peas with pearl onions. Not to mention the Greek lemon soup to start. Louise had outdone herself again. Out of 6 friends, 3 of us have birthdays within days of each other. 2 others are a mere few weeks ahead. This year we all got together to celebrate.

As each hat was smoothed and folded, they were passed around the table until we all wore tiny blue “Happy Birthday” paper hats perched precariously on our heads. As we laughed over the silliness we had to keep adjusting our chapeaus to keep them from falling off. It felt good to laugh.

Of course there is a maverick in every crowd.

I would much rather have a get-together than a gift any day. Time is the one thing we can offer each other that costs nothing but is worth everything. Thanks you guys for making my birthday, no, our birthdays special. You are special and I treasure our friendship!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Baby Black Rat Snake

I walked into the family room to find 3 cats all in a row staring intently out the screen door onto the deck. Looking out, I didn't see anything, so went back to folding laundry. The Hmong dresser scarf was not quite dry so I opened the door to drape it over a chair. As I started down the steps I found this little guy sprawled full length along the riser. Thinking it was dead, I touched it with my toe. Hello, not dead.

Well my friends, I am pleased to announce the arrival of a baby at my house. Remember the black rat snake I kept cutting out of the netting back in the Spring? Well, she is apparently still around.

Is this the cutest face ever?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jerusalem Artichokes

I was on a nature walk at Sandy Hook where Jerusalem artichokes were growing wild everywhere. They are in the sunflower family—tall and beautiful in the autumn sun. Wild, or cultivated, the tuber is divinely delicious. Have you had them? I cooked them a lot when I grew them myself. Now I get them by the box-full from the flatland. Buuuuut, I wonder if anyone would notice if some disappeared from the Hook?

They are often called sunchokes in the stores and look sorta like ginger root. If you pull them yourself, keep the large ones and leave the smaller ones for next year. Some folks find them evasive. I have not had that problem, maybe because the winters are so much harsher here. Or maybe because when they are young and tender, the deer like them too.

Wash the choke but there is no need to peel it. The skin is thin and tender. They can be eaten raw or cooked. I prefer cooked; I think they have more flavor. They are wonderful in soups or gratins. Marcella Hazan (one of my favorite cookbook authors) has a few recipes using them. I usually chunk them and roast them with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and shallots at a high heat like 400. I sometimes throw in rosemary, just like I would with potatoes. To me they taste just like artichoke hearts. Be brave. Try them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Block Party

I am really not good with mail. I do not get it everyday, so it sorta accumulates in the box. When I do stop to get it, I usually throw it in the car and only dig around for it when it is time to pay bills. But a few weeks ago when I got the mail, I actually flipped through it. Among the bills, catalogs, and weekly newspaper, I was surprised to find a notice for the annual block party.

The block party is always at the other end of the street 3 blocks from my house. I do not know anyone down there and for years was not invited. Wait, that sounds harsh. Overlooked might be better. In 8 years, I have only been down there once. Image my surprise to be included. Should I go? I scrutinized the flyer and its list of things to bring. I could bring a salad or "specialty dish". I noticed that they were also looking for burgers, soda, ice. I could cop out and bring 4 bags of ice. But I have a wonderful Thai cold noodle salad that is light, sparkling with a touch of heat. Buuuut, maybe not. Maybe something more normal like baked beans. I hedged. Did nothing. Then it rained and the party was rescheduled and I forgot.

Last night I came home from the birding festival to find the street filled with cars. Perplexed, I squeezed past. It took me a few blocks to realize that I had missed the block party again. Fiddlesticks! Oh well, there will always be next year. If I am invited.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Summer drink

The quintessential summer drink, a gin and tonic is very refreshing in the dog days. But even though there is always a bottle of Boodles in my freezer at all times, I never have one in the winter or colder months. Do you?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Miss Winkie and her bean

I came home one day last week to discover desiccated and mostly shredded bits of a yellow wax bean on the floor. Huh. Obviously one of the cats had had a field day. I gathered up the bits and tossed them into to trash. Then on the weekend, sipping coffee and lounging in the comfy chairs in the kitchen; I saw Winkie make a lightening leap onto the counter, grab a yellow wax bean from the bowl, jump down and dash off with it, like a thief in the night (except it was broad daylight). Rather than yell at her for being on the counter, I chuckled at her desperation to get the bean. Amused that she chose the yellow wax as opposed to the basic green Kentucky Wonder; I followed her into the foyer. There she was throwing it high in the air, pouncing on it, batting it around til it scuttled past the stairs and onto the hardwood of the dining room. She would stop to occasionally to give me a guilty smile. In the end she ate it. Or most of it. She spits out the actual beans, preferring the pod.

The green beans in the garden are almost done, I haven’t pulled the plants yet; I’m keeping them to grow play things for my cat.

The other cats? Peshaw. They think she is a nut. Why play with a stupid bean when there are catnip bags in the bowl in the family room?

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Sitting on deck on a warm summer evening, I looked up as the wind filled the sails and thought so...this is 3 sheets to the wind. Love looking up at the sky? Go check out other skies from around the world at Skywatch.

Great Spangled Fritillary

I love saying that. Great Spangled Fritillary. The whitish looking spots on this butterfly are really shiny silver spangles in the sun. Great Spangled Fritillary. Try saying it out loud. It is one of the first butterflies I learned after Monarch and Swallowtail. I found this one nectaring on the Rocket in my yard (I'm tellin' you this Ligularia is a butterfly magnet). I also love that their larval foodplant is violets. There is something very endearing about a caterpillar that prefers violets to all other food. What butterflies do you have in your yard?