Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I topped the hill at Brady Farm and slowed down as I always do to take in the view of the valley. It is one of my favorite places; I am a flatlander after all and I do not get big sky often. As I crawled past the fields of Black Angus, barns stuffed with round bales and the white farm house with its enormous kitchen garden; I saw movement in a field. I pulled up and stopped to see a coyote lounging with just its head poking above the waving grass.

I have not heard or seen a coyote in 9 years, since I moved to the mountain. I used to have them when I lived on the farm. They would bring me straight up out of bed in the wee hours of the night with their eerie howling and yipping. Instead of their constant presence, I now have the eerie silence of the deep woods with only the occasional owl hoot to keep me company in the dead of night. I sort of miss them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Teensiest Frog I Have Ever Seen

I flipped on the outside light while I was writing last night hoping for some interesting moths. Truth be told I was really hoping for a Luna Moth, they have been reported south of me. When I went out to check what was happening in the darkness, I found a weensy green frog on the deck railing. It was maybe 1/2 inch long, and that may be too generous. That is a begonia leaf in the background. I have no idea what it is. Do you know?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Red Eft

I was getting ready to leave the house for a weekend jaunt to Massachusetts. Scurrying to and fro: packing the car, dashing back in the house for a hat, suddenly remembering it would be helpful to have cash, gathering the perennials I had dug; I had just watered the flower pots on the driveway when I happened to look down and there was a glowing orange eft. I hadn't seen one in years. Shortly after I moved to the mountain, there was one summer when we had efts everywhere. Hundreds got squashed on the road. On my morning walks, I would gather them up and put them on the grass. Maybe this will be another year like that one.

I am taken with them. They are the terrestrial juvenile stage of the Red-spotted Newt. They live in this stage for a few years then migrate back to a permanent puddle to live out their lives as an aquatic adult. Red Efts live in forests. They are one of the wonderful things about living on the mountain.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sounds of Summer

Summer sounds for some it is the chirp of crickets on warm summer nights, or the ring of horseshoes tossed against the metal stake, the insistent whine of a mosquito trapped in the bedroom, or the high buzz of the cicadas in the dog days of August. Yes, we have all of those on the mountain, but the loudest and single most extraordinary sound of summer is the cacophony of Katydids. It starts out slow the first week of August, but soon the chorus will be so loud it will drown out every other night sound.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer Time and the Eating is Easy

Strawberries - buy one get one. That's a no-brainer.

Seeing them at the market and heading off to a birthday party down in Long Valley at the weekend, I had the inspiration to make a strawberry glacé pie. I had not made one this season. It is super easy and perfect summer food.

Well... then I got sidetracked with a trip to the farmers market and making gazpacho so I didn't get the crust and strawberry goo made the night before. I figured I'd get up early the next day. And I did, BUT, well, by the time I had coffee and emptied the dishwasher and thew in a load of wash, and finally finished pa-diddling around and read the recipe for the crust; I realized it so wasn't going to happen. I was planning on a buttery tart crust. It needed to rest in the fridge for a few hours before I could roll and bake. And, of course, the glacé needed to sit overnight to firm up.

While pacing the house in a funk considering and rejecting the yellow spongy cakes next to the strawberries at the store as well as angel food cake (which really is a good alternative), I hit upon actual short cake. I hadn't made them in years.

I pulled out the Silver Palate cookbook, actually sifted the ingredients, cut in the butter and added heavy cream instead of light (Seriously light cream? What is the point? If you are cutting calories then you should not be having cream at all.) The recipe calls for a 3 inch rounds; I used a wine glasses. Close enough. They only took 10 minutes to bake. I cut and juiced the strawberries while they were baking.

I would say they were a hit or at least there was nothing left. The only thing better would be to have the cakes hot, split open with some butter before the berries and whip cream were shoveled on.