Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Maine trip...part 1

Eric and I just got back from Maine and some of our photos have been downloaded, so I thought I might as well post them now, rather than wait! More to come...

The first couple of days we got to hang out with Eric's mom and dad and grandma- Eric and I took Grandma to tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House, which she had never done, despite decades (30-40 years?) of going to Bar Harbor every summer. Eric and I, of course, consider tea and popovers at the Pond House to be an essential part of our time on MDI, so we just had to share! I think Grandma quite enjoyed it too. She is looking forward to meeting her 12th great-grandchild (aka The Wee).

We also took a family trip out to Thurston for Lobster (that's its official name...something which, despite the fact that I've been there like 4 times I never quite took in) in Bernard for, well, lobster, kind of. That is, Grandma, Linda (Eric's mom), and I all had lobster, Eric and Richard (Eric's dad) had various non-lobster, non-seafood of any kind of food. That's the two of them, trying not to get get sprayed by lobster juice.

Thurston's location is ridiculously picturesque...

Eric and I took a walk around Little Long Pond, a new-to-us walk, which is actually Rockefeller property that they let people hike about on, and apparently, you can let your dog off-leash, which you can't in the Park. So we met lots of doggies! The pond is quite pretty and there's this amazingly fancy boathouse (I guess one might expect fancyness from the Rockefellers, huh?).

You can just see the boathouse on the right,

Here we are at The Bowl,

A more or less quintessential Acadia Nat'l Park photo, this one at Ship's Harbor, a hike we had never done before, but which is quite lovely!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fourth of July walk

Amazing, I know! But these photos are actually from today! We took a walk, with the dogs, in our neighborhood Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. It was a gorgeous day- we saw an egret and a great blue heron as well as an (unidentified) hawk. We consistently see egrets and great blue herons when we are there- it's right next to the Mississippi River, on what we call the flyway for these birds. The summer prairie wildflowers were also out- and I tried to get some photos.

I took about a million photos of the really beautifully fuschia/deep purple colored Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea), which was new to me. They weren't too easy to capture, they wave around in the air lots. And somehow the color doesn't quite come through.

from the top (if you click on the photo, you can see all the little stamens sticking out. So cute! Okay, maybe only to botanists...),

And Coneflowers! We saw lots of the Long-headed Coneflower (Ratabida columnifera),

Apparently the morph with so-called purple colored ray petals (which I would describe as deep red, almost brown, not purple, but whatever!), are rarer than the yellow morph. And on our little walk, indeed we saw only one (almost makes one want to be a plant population biologist or something). This isn't the best photo of it, but here you go,

Here's a photo I stole from,

Brown-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) intermixed nicely with Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta),

Another Brown-eyed Susan, cos I just can't resist!

There are a couple of ponds at the Vento, at which we saw Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata; no photo) and also nearby, Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa),

I think Nodding Thistle (Carduus nutans) is way cool-looking! And kinda scary.

Not a wildflower, but here Moose (Canis perpetuo latrans Phil.) is trying to hide from the firecrackers that people on the bluffs high above us were letting off. Poor guy.

Catching Up Part II: Cat

Vasco continues to amuse and occasionally annoy us (or, if you're Lucy, he continues to terrorize).

He loves to sleep in dog beds:

Moose's (this caused considerable annoyance for me, since he would sometimes claim this bed in the middle of the night, when Moose had temporarily gone elsewhere; Moose, upon returning, would whine/bark at me to remove him, rather than forcing him out using his 4-1 size advantage...):

Suzy's (while we were dogsitting):

He also loves to climb and look out from high places:

A door:

Another door:

A bookcase:

A cabinet:

And he continues to find cute places to lie, or cute poses to strike:

In a glass pan:

On our newly-installed Flor carpet:

And in various cute-overloading spots on the couch:

Here are a couple of short videos of him as well. In this one, Vasco demonstrates his climbing technique. He requests to be picked up by meowing, or sometimes simply jumps up on my leg and climbs me like a tree. He scrambles up on my shoulder, then requests to be brought over to various parts of the house, to sniff the wall, explore, and, if opportunity presents itself, find a nice place to perch for a while.

Does anyone else's cat do this? Vasco likes to run his paws over smooth surfaces-- our kitchen stools, window glass, or the bath tub. He seems to get a great deal of enjoyment out of this...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Catching Up Part I: Food

Gee, it's been over 2 months since last we posted here on the Menagerie....

In an effort to catch up, I'm going to post a bunch of pictures from the past 2 months. I thought I'd divide them up into a few themes.

First up: food.

Here are some of the things we've made recently (and remembered to take pictures of!).

Homemade gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce: (making the gnocchi was easier the second time around, and easier still with Jenny helping!)

My first attempt at Cornish pasty (various ground meats, carrots, rutabaga, onion in a pie pastry crust):

A couple of pies I made for some get-together or other (Easter?).... Cranberry pie:

And a couple of views of my very first chocolate cream pie. Both turned out very well, thank you.

I recently made quiche for the first time. I chose a traditional recipe for a traditional quiche: Quiche Lorraine, which has bacon and swiss cheese (apparently not in the most traditional versions, but hey, can you have too much cheese?) and chives. It was good-- not too eggy, which is important to me, and plenty rich.

This is one of the rhubarb pies I've made this spring. I love rhubarb, and last year I found what I consider to be the best rhubarb pie recipe out there. It's a custard, which means it uses eggs to make the filling have a good consistency, but it's certainly not eggy. I'm sad that the rhubarb is more or less gone now....

I've been making pie crust using some new ingredients this year. I bought some local lard at the farmer's market a while ago and have been figuring out how to use it. It's waaaay different from the supermarket lard I've used previously, and also very different from any other shortening I've used. So I've had some disasters: crust that was so crumbly it fell apart as I was making it, etc. But I'm getting there. The secret seems to be to use the lard as a seasoning, to give the crust good flavor, but not as a main ingredient. For that I use organic vegetable shortening and butter. Or sometimes lard instead of butter.... Experiments continue, and are tasty.

Next up: Kitty pictures!