Category Archives: Wild Critters
These two diving ducks showed up on the front pond yesterday, I didn’t know what they were but went online and a nice fellow told me they were both female Common Goldeneye ducks. Thanks, Mike!Mrs J maintains a suet feeder that woodpeckers like a lot. This one is a Red Bellied Woodpecker.These are a pair of Downy Woodpeckers. The male has the red patch. Downys are our smallest woodpeckers.Canada Geese are frequent visitors and can really honk up a racket when the dogs show themselves. I took this one through the window of the truck as we returned from an expedition.Spring is turtle roaming season. Homer is keeping a wary eye on this one as he heads back towards the pond.I include this one of a deer, taken by an automatic camera that overlooks the spot where Mrs J scatters corn and other seeds, because of the groomed look of her hair. I’m guessing it results from walking through thick vegetation – maybe that’s why they call it brush.
Katie was enjoying the first snow free day a little too much. It’s a good thing she got her ya yas out because we got more snow:It started out with a little sleet but that turned to snow and that fell all day and didn’t taper off till after dark.
Not quite six inches. I got out on the tractor today and bladed the drive.One of Mrs J’s fortified carrot cakes was reward for my labors. It’s a box mix with extra shredded carrot, raisins, and crushed pineapple. Mmm… moist and sweet, especially with the toasted coconut on the cream cheese icing. There’s a little orange zest sprinkled on there, too. Smelled great!Quesadillas with egg, roasted pork, and cheddar garnished with sour cream and a nice hot sauce.Ginger Boy oversees doggie dinner prep. Mrs J buys dry kibble and leavens it with her own blend of goodies. She adds cooked chicken, rice, cottage cheese, green beans, sweet potatoes, liver, and ground beef in varying proportion, cooking it up in big pots and freezing it in plastic containers. The pups love it so she must be doing it right.A stir fry with chicken and various veggies over yellow rice. Not bad but far from my best effort.
We’ve been seeing plenty of Cardinals, Starlings, and Robins and I’ve been hoping for Cedar Waxwings but they haven’t shown up yet, at least so far as I’ve noticed.The Starlings tend to take the dried fruits to the closest ice free platform to pick them apart. I suppose that’s smart because they can easily get to the parts that would fall to the ground, otherwise. The closest snow free spot to the tree is the roof edge right under the window and that makes my cats crazy.
Mmm… posole with a few garnishes with quesadillas. The dish is similar in spirit to the classic tomato soup/grilled cheese combo. I made a huge batch of posole a few months ago and pressure canned several quarts of it to put back for quick dinners. I think there are six quarts left. The quesadillas are beef, cheese, and bean.Mrs J spotted Miss Bea down in the yard trying to decide if the deer was a threat. She decided the answer was no and proceeded to ignore it. She treats me the exact same way.We had chili one day this week, I used some ground beef and threw in some chorizo meatloaf that didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped and had frozen. Worked better as chili than as a meatloaf.There was enough chili left over to make a few chili dogs. These are garnished with chopped pickled jalapeno, fresh onions, and shredded cheese. The dogs are actually smoked sausages that claim to incorporate Vidalia onions in the recipe. I didn’t notice any particular onion-y taste but the natural casings did have a nice snap to them.This little pup took a few seconds off from the towel fight to pose for a picture. All the new arrivals get a flea bath whether they like it or not.Hard to beat a nice steak. I boiled the potatoes first and then squashed them a bit before frying them in duck fat and olive oil. Tasty little things with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper! The veggies were stir fried in a little stock with a dab of soy, and a spoon of chili garlic paste.One more puppeh! I think he likes her!I’ll wind this up with an enchilada platter. These are beef, bean, and cheese rolled in corn tortillas and are baked with a roasted red pepper sauce. The corn salad with black beans was pretty good, it has chopped celery, onions, red and green peppers, garlic, and is dressed with a seasoned rice vinegar/garlic oil vinaigrette.
Just a reminder: You can make a burrito out of nearly anything you can wrap a tortilla around. We had chicken chili with white beans a few days ago and the little dab of leftovers worked great with the addition of Monterey jack.I call this a “cuddle” of puppies. I like how the little guy with the white on his muzzle is framed in this picture.Mrs J likes banana bread so much that she buys bananas and lets them ripen just so she can make it. The one has raisins and pecans. I found a jar of apple butter on the pantry shelf, applesauce works well as an accompaniment but apple butter just goes it one better.Notice the subtle segue from apples to snakes? LOL Here’s your random wildlife, a small snake in the grass beside the walk this morning. I’m not sure what species it is but I would guess it’s a juvenile black rat snake. The mottled look fades over time.We made the last batch of tomatoes into soup and canned 7 quarts. I amazed myself with a practical application of arithmetic – I knew my canner would hold seven quart jars so I figured how many inches of juice I needed and let the tomatoes reduce at a simmer until it measured the correct depth. I won’t burden you with the formula lest I make a foolish error but if I remember correctly 7 US quarts is a tad over 5 inches in my 10″ pot, I think I went five and a quarter-ish, making a mark on a wooden spoon.I never said there wouldn’t be math! I did say there would be kittehs, though. They named this one Brock and he was adopted the next day after Mrs J posted this picture on the shelter’s facebook page.I’ll close out with a couple of sammiches, here’s a loaded chicken tenders sammy with some potato salad from the local Kroger deli.More sauerkraut than pastrami on this reuben. There wasn’t much pastrami left so I compensated a tad.
Here’s a piece of that raspberry pie. Yum! A scoop of vanilla will improve most anything whether it needs it or not.A hummer looks at the vitex. A lot of the birds zoom in to check it out but there isn’t much there to keep them interested.We’ve eaten more of those stuffed Anaheims. This batch is filled with cream cheese and cheddar with ground beef cooked with taco seasonings. They are topped with more cheddar and a sprinkle of lime flavored red pepper.This is a curly dog with slaw, topped with yellow mustard I’ve turned into a relish with chopped and sliced serrano peppers. Cut a hot dog lengthwise but not all the way through and then with crosscuts and they curl when cooked. There was a diner in my home town that made these, I first ate one over fifty years ago. Time flies!We spotted this snapper crawling at a considerable remove from its regular home in a small pond. I’m not sure why it left home, it seems late for an egg laying expedition. Just wanderlust, maybe? Population pressure?Mrs J favors bean soups and I am happy to oblige! This isn’t the best I’ve ever produced but it wasn’t bad. I’ve developed a habit of taking some of the cooking liquids released from chunks of meat that I smoke and reducing them more in a saucepan. Because of all the salt in many of my dry rubs the reduction is too salty to use in a gravy but can be frozen in an ice cube tray and treated like homemade bouillon cubes.Tacos are a quick and easy meal. These are ground beef with the usual accompaniments.
Don’t try to do this at home! We browsed around at the local Amish run store the other day and finally picked up a squeeze tube of pie filling after seeing them there every time we went. They have several different flavors, we took home the cherry:There are little chips of fruit in there but nothing the size of a whole or even half cherry. There are 2 lbs. of it in the tube, not sure what the volume is but I think it’s plenty for at least one 9″ pie. We didn’t buy it for that, though, because the squeezable nature of it is perfect for fried pies. Alas, we discovered that those prepared crusts from the store are just not very good for that. They tasted good but they were so fragile they were impossible to hold without coming apart. Looks like it’ll be back to Mrs J’s Famous Fried Pies crust recipe to use up the remainder.Yay me! Alas, the thrill of turning over another million views is tempered somewhat by a new method for counting that Flickr.com is using. I’m not sure what the new scheme is but it has drawn much comment from the user community.Hard to beat a nice ribeye. Grilled sweet corn is another one of those things that we’ve been doing that is relatively new for us. Mostly we just boiled it. I’ve always buttered and salted mine but I’ve been going with other seasonings lately. Old Bay is very good on it, tonight I used some of Olde Thomson’s tex-mex blend of seasonings.Mrs J spotted this fellow on her Coleus, down in the shade of a crabapple tree. I scrambled down there with the camera and got a few decent pictures. Mantises are one of my favorite insects. They don’t show much fear of the camera but you can make them pay some attention:
Rain was threatening the other day and the hummers were really stoking up. I played around with placing strobes on the ground around the feeders to try to stop the motion of the bird’s wings. I took a few shots but it started to rain so I gathered the strobes up and quit before I could thoroughly try different settings. I posted this at high resolution, click on it and it’ll get really big. I counted about 30 hummers in this shot.Made a pot of chili just for this picture. Turned out to be pretty good chili, I simmered some dried chilis to make a mole and added that to a chorizo/ground beef mixture with a chopped onion and a ton of garlic. I held off putting beans in, adding them later.I think there are beans in the chili on this hotdog we had later in the day. It has minced jalapeno and red serrano peppers with onions and shredded cheeses.Ginger had lots of fun with his new toy. I think every cat in the house took a turn with it, and Katie spent a few minutes chewing it.Mrs J put together a salad, I added the olives and the pickled garlic. It has a vinaigrette dressing of rice vinegar and olive oil with the usual herbs and a bit of Dijon.The habanero bush on the patio was starting to look like the peppers were thick enough on it to break the branches down so I went ahead and gathered all the ripe ones. I have most of these drying to be ground for pizzas and the like. I learned last year not to breath the dust from the processing.We opened the front door and found this stick insect clinging to the glass of the storm door. No idea why he was there, the location pretty much defeats the blending in strategy in avoiding predators. We see these now and again but almost always when they are away from their normal habitat. Makes me wish for a decent macro lens for my camera.
I bought a jar of pickled garlic to round out an online order a while back and liked it well enough to try to duplicate it. I found a recipe for French pickled garlic that was reiterated over scores of web sites so I just picked this one at random to link to here. The jar I bought had a definite yellow tinge to it so I added turmeric to my version. It worked just fine. I have some of mine here with a Cubano sammich prepared in my grill press/panini maker.Mrs J made a little cat toy filled with catnip and polyfill. Ginger was playing with it until I decided to try for an action photo whereupon he ran off and hid under the couch.I found this young hummer going for the red honeysuckle this morning. Most of his pals are hanging out on feeder row:Made a meatloaf yesterday with ground beef and chorizo plus some chopped peppers, onions, eggs and bread crumbs, etc. I was thinking meatloaf sammiches from the get-go.The gravy is from the drippings with Worcestershire, dark soy sauce, and catsup added. I liked the Kaiser rolls well enough to use them with a basic cheeseburger.I made a sauce for it with sauteed mushrooms and garlic in butter and oil. Swiss cheese rounds it out. Grilled sweet corn has become a favorite this summer. Butter and salt and pepper work just fine, sometimes I use Old Bay seasoning instead of the salt and pepper.This one is a simple cold cut sub with ham and cheese and plenty of veggies with a vinaigrette dressing.
One of these days I’ll cook a real deal meal and surprise everyone!