Saturday, June 27, 2009

Turkey Vultures

Interesting visitor the other morning – a Turkey Vulture! Each spring and fall nearly 40,000 of these critters migrate through here to points south, some as far as Northern Venuzuela. I am just fascinated by so many of them at one time. I was taking a picture of a group of them spiraling up the thermals, when my hubby said “you might want to be careful “looking up”! Yikes! I forgot about that! Anyway, here’s the picture – not very good, they were so high up it looked like black pepper specks on a blue table cloth. (Click on picture for larger yet blurry image) They roost in the big trees around the corner from us along Old Town Road. It is SO creepy – by October most of the leaves are off the trees, but there are so many of them that when you first come around the corner the trees appear to be fully leafed out again… then you realize that the leaves are black and they weren’t there yesterday! One year we hiked across our defunct golf course, and under the big trees there was a blanket of enourmous vulture feathers. Another year I noticed one lone vulture who didn’t migrate. This poor bird somehow spent the entire winter perched on a big boulder outcropping high above Old Town Road. Must’ve relied on the daily roadkill of birds, ground squirrels, and skunks. Occasionally I’d see it on a lower branch of the nearby tree, and by spring it had moved up a branch at a time and then I did see it flying around with a couple large flight feathers missing from one wing. Amazing. I’m guessing the one on our low fence might be in a similar situation.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Light at the End of My Tunnel...

Not just one, but TWO lights!! First, I’ve been wanting to get back to my sewing and crafts for many months now, and I finally got there. Started three things - one, a really cute purse for a “sister” (long overdue Christmas gift), next I'm finishing a pair of knitted fishing gloves for another sister (again, long overdue) and finally a “test apron” of a new pattern for the stack of them that I owe as… uh, yeah, more overdue Christmas gifts! Hey, my heart’s in the right place, I’m just time management challenged! This apron pattern calls for seven yards of bias tape. Well, the ready made stuff was either boring or just didn't match the fabrics I had chosen, so, I decided to make my own. No problem, have made lots of it in the past, but this time I bought a cool little gadget for $6 that makes it way easier. Feed the continuous strip of fabric in -- pull out folded stuff on the other end and run the iron over it! Also spotted a cute little machine that folds AND irons it for you, but it was $99. I like $6 better!! (Yes Catherine, that's YOUR apron fabric I'm using as a background!)

I also need to make “machine rolled hems” on all the apron ties – never done that before, but did lots of it by hand when I was making and smocking baby clothes for everyone. So, found a presser foot online for $23-25, then hit our local sew-vac repair shop and bought a couple of used ones for $3 each. I cannot believe how well these things work! Of course hubby's immediate response was – “can you reupholster my ’49 Buick seats with that?” He’s been asking almost daily for YEARS now. Answer is and will always be, NO. So, here’s the first apron – it’ll match all my black cat décor for the trailer at the vintage trailer rally this Halloween in Kernville!

The second light is the fact that we have a new schedule at work: FOUR TENS!!! Starts on July 20th and it can’t get here soon enough for me. As it is now, my weekends that I’m home have three components: All routine housework and errands one day. Special heavy duty projects one day. Relaxation, recuperation, recreation one day. Obviously I’ve been a day short my whole life, so now, PROBLEM SOLVED!! Thank goodness they got this enacted while the days are long – I am so excited!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Must Try This...

Move over martini, and make room for the BLACKBERRY JULEP! Doesn't that look wonderful? A sister sent me this and I can't wait until the weather warms up again to try it!

1 1/2 oz. Marie Brizard Blackberry
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1 oz. Water

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a Highball 34 filled crushed ice. Stir until the glass begins to frost. Garnish with marinated mixed berries.

MARINADE: The berries can be a mix of blueberries, strawberries, and black and red raspberries. Marinate them for several hours in equal parts of Brandy, Cointreau and sugar, stirring occasionally. For each quart of berries use half an ounce of brandy, one ounce of Cointreau (or a comparable local product), and 1/2 cup superfine bar sugar.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Turtle Update

Well, I came to a decision about my adorable turtle – you know, the “free” pet that cost a small fortune in “habitat development”? I called the California Living Museum Zoo down in Bakersfield, and after a very brief and painless detour through the red tape of the California Department of Fish and Game, she is now in quarantine for about a month at the zoo. Once she gets a clean bill of health, she’ll move into this lovely pond (shown above behind the fence to the right of the Reptile House) with another Western Pond Turtle, a big White Pelican named Betty, a Canadian Goose and some sort of duck. Because she is a protected species, DFG had to approve her being “re-homed” at a licensed facility, and thankfully, due to her tameness, they had to make the determination that she could not be returned to the wild. I am so thrilled she gets to live out her many remaining years being pampered in this wonderful habitat! Also quite thrilled to have all that space back in our bedroom and will be even more thrilled when I unload all the pumps, filters, lights, heaters, chemicals, stock tanks, etc. I will, however, greatly miss her adorable face – she would watch me from her island every morning as I stumbled around in search of coffee, my glasses, and whatever I thought I was going to wear that day. If she saw ANYONE else, she would dive off her island and disappear beneath the water and floating plants. I’m sure my special status was because I was “the lady with the food!” So now I can go visit her at the zoo whenever I am in Bakersfield! Very sad to goodbye, but what a truly happy ending! Oh, she'll be dining and shrimp and trout... wonder if I could join her for dinner one night!! YUM!

Sorry... One More Upside Down Bassett Hound

I just can't stop myself. This dog will sleep anywhere.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Recipe!

Filling the crust...

Adding the cheesy topping...

Right out of the oven!!
Kaarin's hubby Jim is one of those genius gardeners who turns out bushel upon bushel of the yummiest goodies, which means we periodically receive these indescribably wonderful "care packages". Lately we've received a lot of tender little squashes, which I love no matter how you prepare them, but I ran across this recipe and, oh, is it good!

1 unbaked 9” pastry shell
1 egg lightly beaten
2½ cups sliced zucchini (¼” slice)
2½ cups sliced yellow squash (¼” slice)
1 tsp canola oil (I use olive oil)
½ tsp salt
¼ - ½ tsp ground thyme
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp pepper
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
(I use the mozzarella)
¾ cup mayonnaise
(reduced or low fat NOT recommended)

Line unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy duty foil. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes. Remove foil; brush lightly with egg. Bake 5 minutes longer. Remove to a wire rack; reduce heat to 350.

In a large nonstick skillet, sauté zucchini and yellow squash in oil for 10 minutes or until very tender. Sprinkle with seasonings; spoon into pastry shell. Top with tomatoes. Combine the cheese and mayonnaise; spread over the top.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Refrigerate leftovers.

LEFTOVERS? Who are they kidding???

I have to add, I have nearly always made my own pie crust from scratch because I think those rolled refrigerated and/or frozen ones are NASTY and they are way too SALTY, but Marie Callender’s frozen pie shells are really quite good and I keep them on hand now! Woohoo!

I am seriously considering a plan for Kaarin to place a bag (box?) of veggies on the county's "Dial-A-Ride" bus system each week - of course the box would have to be labeled something scary like "medical waste" so that it wouldn't arrive here empty! This could work...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Secret BBQ Recipe!

Okay, here’s my secret – when I look in my refridgerator and notice a gazillion bottles of leftover “stuff”, then it’s time to make BBQ! I take a big ol’ hunk of pork, cut it up into 2” chunks and toss it all in my crockpot. Then, I take all those half-empty bottles, every last one of them, and empty them out into a big bowl. Mix well, pour over the meat in the crockpot and set ‘er on low for 8 hours. That’s it. It’s that easy. The best part about it is that 1) you now have tons of space in your fridge, and 2) it always tastes good because for the most part, you only bought stuff you liked anyway, right? In our house, that generally translates into “spicy!” This makes great shredded pork for sandwiches, and it freezes well. Mine generally has a wide variety of bbq sauces, salsas, marinades, relishes, mustards, jam or jelly, sometimes an oddball salad dressing, and then a hearty splash of Tabasco sauce and a handful of chopped onions. Trust me, it comes out PERFECT every time!