Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Here is the juvenile, feeding on the carcass in the field. When the birds are disturbed, they fly up a short distance into the trees, not losing sight of their meal. They will sit all afternoon, waiting ,until they think it's safe to resume their feast.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
We were invited to a gingerbread house party yesterday at our friends Kate and Bassyou's house. They met while Kate was in the Peace Corps in Mali and fell in love, got married and came back to the States to live. Bassyou was a resident in the village where Kate did agriculture work and has adapted amazingly to living here in the states. They are expecting their first baby in February! Before this happens I am determined to invite myself over to learn how to cook Malian food ... they seem to have connections to people who can really cook.
Leave it to a Peace Corps volunteer to have the ingenuity to use graham crackers for the walls and roof (I stupidly stayed up until 2 AM making mine - see earlier entry)! As a result, we ended up making Baltimore city row houses - a very cute twist on the traditional chalet style. At the party Rhys became engrossed with building her row house and spent the entire time with a cottonless q-tip and icing, painstakingly gluing each tiny M-and-M to the structure. I think she may have spent two hours gluing and decorating. She is truly the most patient human being I have ever met.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
and at night.
We took arty photographs
visited a few museums, ate amazing food, especially the dim sum ! and were oh , so cosmopolitan,
just like Mr. and Mrs. NYC.
But how will we explain THIS to the mother of our teenage house guest ?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Lest you think I have been a lazy bum this weekend, watching movies and noshing on bon bons, think again! I stayed up until TWO AM this morning making gingerbread houses for my sweet little ones and their friends, so we could have our first annual Gingerbread House Party! After realizing that I should a) Follow directions EXACTLY and b) Not leave it to the last minute (sound familiar, Mom?) I pulled it together and created four little masterpieces secured with fishing line so as not to succumb to gravity. (See inspiration above).
Amazingly they all made it through the night and R was so excited she came downstairs at 1:30 AM because she had "fallen out of bed" and was thrilled to find me in the kitchen, baking away. The next morning the intrepid decorators braved the icy rain and showed up to realize their visions. A fun time was had by all and, miraculously, we made it through the day without one single sugar related meltdown. The house smelled so Christmasy and the carols were playing and it really got me in the Christmas spirit! We capped off the day by taking a long blustery hike in the country with the dogs and came home feeling really fantastic.
What a great weekend!
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Can you imagine that I could look this cheerful at 5:30 in the morning!? Only after being awoken by my youngest (featured) calling out: "Mommy! ...Mommy!" It was so exciting! His first really intelligible word and the crazy thing is, he sounds just like his sister. So I run upstairs to her room and she is fast asleep, then I hear it again and I am wondering the whole time how in the heck it is possible for her to throw her voice!? Then it occurs to me that there is someone else nearby and sure enough, once I walk into W's room, there he is looking mighty pleased with himself and giggling. So of course we had to go and play in the playroom to celebrate. He speaks! Yippee!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
And this is what we find ourselves doing in the final hours of a trade show ... the silliness is our only defense against the intense cabin fever we feel after 4 days in the concrete jungle we call the W. Springfield, MA Equine Affaire.
Friday, November 9, 2007
I am currently in W. Springfield, MA at the Equine Affaire. Flew in yesterday and was able to make it there by 4:30PM (having had to delay the trip for a day because of one sick child, only to get here and learn the next one is ill). In the span of 3 hours I was asked if my product was kitty litter (ARG! This is OBVIOUSLY NOT the Feline Affaire), was graced with repeat visits by a very talkative Quiet-Talker who also Mumbled (he was like the old man in Hot Fuzz, I swear it was that bad) and had many, many, many unsupervised children who had many, many questions. Also arrived in time to find out that my sexy new business cards have the WRONG email address! That said, and despite the obvious irritants, I am kind of enjoying the sort of guerilla sales environment - in a perverse sort of way. I'll follow up with pictures soon! If I survive! On the bright side, there is every sort of carnival food that one could dream of there and then some more (fried dough anyone? Chuck Wagon? Apple Fritters?) so at least I won't lose weight ...
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
It is getting chillier outside and thank goodness I have a wonderful assistant at work who loves to cook and makes us warm lunches at the office every day! She is Chinese and makes delicious things like this Noodle Bowl. Martina has been making us lunches since she started and she tells us how much it means to her to be able to not only do her job (administrative assistant) but to indulge in her desire to cook for people as well. She has a catering business on the side and brings us the leftovers! When she interviewed for the job she told us she really didn't want to work very many hours because she enjoyed her catering. Now, after several months, she tells us that she loves her job so much because she can combine her interests, despite the fact that they are so different. It makes me wonder if other people would be happier and more productive if they were allowed to pursue their interests in a creative way.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
That reminds me, has anyone planted bulbs yet this year?
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
There was even a table with exotic fruit - jujubes, kiwis, cactus pears, paw paws, persimmons, pears, both Asian and domestic, and some nuts - all grown by the members of the group. I had my first taste of wild persimmons and loved the flavor until my mouth puckered horrendously. Apparently that's the typical aftertaste of a persimmon and can be quickly remedied by a slice of cheese, which had been thoughtfully provided.
There was homemade cider as well and apple butter made entirely without sugar according to an Amish recipe. Cider is boiled down and reduced by half, thus concentratin g the sugar in the fruit and then the peeled apples are added and boiled until they make applebutter. At this point it can be left as is ,or some spices can be added , such as cinnamon, cloves and allspice. I was told that the Amish make this in a big copper kettle and as soon as one batch is finished , the kettle is passed on to the next farm - it is passed on so fast, that the kettle never even gets rinsed out! I'll definitely have to try to make some of this yummy applebutter here at home .
And which apples were Number One in my taste test ? Tioga, Ashmead's Kernel and Swarr - did you ever have a taste of any of them ?
Monday, October 15, 2007
Well, here is the breakdown for T's fish dinner.
Fish, caught by son-in-law $0
Fine for parking in a Handicapped Parking Spot $ 202.00
Towing car to impoundment lot $ 204.00
Fee charged for using a credit card to get car out of hock ( what the...? ) $ 24.50
Total $ 431.00
R' s new hairdo and sad expression - priceless !
And yes, the car is ok and back home in the garage - phew !!!
And to top it all off, T called that night to tell me that my car had been stolen ! He had gone to the city for dinner, parked my car in a wonderfully safe spot and when he came back 4 hours, later it was gone. Called the police, who did not show up until 5 hours after the first call, by which time everyone had gone to bed exhausted. This morning T and son-in-law are combing the impoundment lots, hoping that the car was towed instead of stolen. Why aren't they calling the impoundment lots on the phone ? Because they have been busy for hours and don't answer. Maybe they're talking to the police and that's why they can't show up at the scene of a crime in a timely fashion ?
Where are you, little red car ???????
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Here's the newly built cider press. It has a 1.5 ton jack which pushes down on a plate inside the tube to squash the apples and squeeze out the juice.
Here we go - cutting up apples and grinding them in the food processor. The ground apples are then placed in a cloth and made into a sort of bag, which is put into the hole in the tube. The jack then descends and exerts pressure.
Hurray, we have juice and it tastes pretty good !
Uh oh !!!! Too much pressure is bowing the metal grate under the tube ! There are ominous cracklings and poppings. Stop the press !
The mechanical crew ( composed of T ) has gone to the barn to figure out how to fix our problem. Here is the cider we have made so far.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The chickens are definitely progressing from cute to dinner !
In a week to 10 days, the only survivor will be the little black chicken - our " free, exotic chick "which is included in every order of chicks from Murray McMurray, our favorite chicken seller.
Marmelade de Pommes
4 T unsalted butter
2 pounds apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 T lemon juice
2 T Calvados ( apple brandy from Normandy, don't substitute, leave it out if you don't have it )
1/2 c plus 2T sugar
2 large eggs
Heat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 4 cup terrine mold.
In a heavy pot, melt the butter and add the apple slices, lemon juice, Calvados and sugar. If your apples are very sweet, you may want to adjust the amount of sugar.. Cover and cook the apples slowly, stirring once in a while, until they are soft and falling apart. If they are very juicy, uncover and boil away the liquid. Mash any large lumps with a fork and adjust the seasoning, adding lemon juice, Calvados or sugar , if needed. Basically, you have just made fancy apple sauce. Now it gets interesting :
Take the pot from the heat and cool just a bit. Stir the eggs a little to break up the yolks and add to the apple mixture. Beat to combine. Spoon the pudding into the prepared mold and smooth the top. Set the mold into a roasting pan and fill it halfway with boiling water.
Transfer this bain marie plus pudding to the oven and bake until the pudding is firm to the touch, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature, in slices. Pass the vanilla custard sauce separately. How about replacing the vanilla with Calvados in the sauce ? Sounds good to me.
Speaking of apples - this weekend there will be some crazy cider making going on here at the farm. T and friends have made a cider press and we are all curious whether the thing will work. Our trees are loaded down with apples and I am envisioning gallons of cider and possibly making some of our very own Calvados. Hope that's not illegal....
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
If the link doesn't work, then just copy this address into your web browser: http://www.oceansalive.org/home.cfm