Category Archives: Wild Critters

Tidbits

DSC_9141 (1600x1060)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.DSC00571 (1600x1060)I call this a “cuddle” of puppies.  I like how the little guy with the white on his muzzle is framed in this picture.DSC_9146 (1600x1060)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.DSC_4902 (1600x1060)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.DSC_9158 (1600x1060)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.DSC00585 (1600x1060)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.DSC_9157 (1600x1060)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.DSC_9163 (1600x1060)More sauerkraut than pastrami on this reuben.  There wasn’t much pastrami left so I compensated a tad.

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Tidbits

DSC_9025 (1600x1060)Here’s a piece of that raspberry pie.  Yum!  A scoop of vanilla will improve most anything whether it needs it or not.DSC_4874 (1600x1060)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.DSC_9036 (1600x1060)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.DSC_9032 (1600x1060)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!DSC_4884 (1600x1060)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?DSC_9002 [1600x1060]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.DSC_8997 (1600x1060)Tacos are a quick and easy meal.  These are ground beef with the usual accompaniments.

Tidbits

DSC_4847 (1600x1060)Lots of praying mantises today.  This one had a hold on a hummingbird before Mrs J, hearing a small commotion in the bush, reached in to rescue it.  She said she thought it was hung in a spiderweb at first and only saw the mantis when the bird’s foot didn’t come clear.DSC_4857 (1600x1060)This fellow is in the coleus but isn’t the same one from the other day.  That one had green eyes.  I’m not sure if mantises can change colors, a quick search found answers all over the map.  Some said yes, some no, and a few were firmly in the sometimes camp.DSC_4855 (1600x1060)I’m pretty sure this one is the same one from before.  He is in a green coleus right next to the vari-colored one, both of them in pots Mrs J has set in the shade of a small crabapple tree.DSC_4858 (1600x1060)My habaneros are loving this August heat.  I picked this bush once already and there are as many ripe now as before.  These are more than I will use.  Need any?DSC_8964 (1600x1060)We’re loving the big slicer tomatoes the garden is producing.  They are perfect for BLTs, or BELTs, as is the case here.DSC_4845 (1600x1060)Toby is still not sure I won’t do something to him he won’t like.  Ginger plays with him quite a bit and Toby doesn’t seem to mind, but let Homer come by and there will be trouble.  Toby has taken a serious dislike to that boy and we’ve had to separate them lest fur fly and the dogs become fearful for their own safety.DSC_8971 (1600x1060)I’ll close with a few more sammiches.  I fired up the panini press for this reuben and all the cheese ran out.  The pickle is a bread and butter spear.  Tasty!DSC_8968 (1600x1060)Last is a mushroom Swiss burger.  I sauteed some brown buttons in butter and olive oil, added beef stock with cornstarch for a thickener, and ladled them all over the cheese covered patty.  It’s a classic burger recipe, and for good reason.

Tidbits

DSC_8890 (1600x1060)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:DSC_8933 (1600x1060)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.Screenshot (5) (1600x1060)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.DSC_8864 (1600x1060)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.DSC_4841 (1600x1060)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:DSC_4842 (1600x1060)

Tidbits

DSC_4791Rain 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.DSC_8841 (1600x1060)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.DSC_8846 (1600x1060)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.DSC_4801 (1600x1060)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.DSC_8836 (1600x1060)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.DSC_8828 (1600x1060)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.DSC_4804 (1600x1060)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.

Tidbits

DSC_8819 (1600x1060)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.DSC_4785 (1600x1060)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.DSC_4782 (1600x1060)I found this young hummer going for the red honeysuckle this morning.  Most of his pals are hanging out on feeder row:DSC_4783 (1600x1060)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.DSC_8814 (1600x1060)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.DSC_8799 (1600x1060)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.DSC_8810 (1600x1060)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!

Tidbits

DSC_8743 (1600x1060)Cherry tomatoes!  More than we can eat so I’ve got most of these dehydrating.  Kept enough of them back for a nice pizza Margherita.DSC_8744 (1600x1060)This one is a thin-ish crust, painted with garlic infused olive oil and sauced with sauteed cherry tomatoes with more garlic and fresh herbs.  It gave us a chance to use some of the latest batch of homemade mozzarella.DSC_8750 (1600x1060)Fresh oregano and thyme in with the sauce and fresh basil added after it came out of the oven.  A pretty good pie!DSC_8733 (1600x1060)Yellow melon for dessert.  These are super sweet and I think they are the best melons ever.  I really should get back over there for another one.PICT4135 (1600x1060)Random wildlife!  This young whitetail still has prominent spots.  They slowly fade over the summer.  Momma isn’t far away.DSC_8739 (1600x1060)I’ll wrap with a couple of sammiches.  Here’s  pulled garlic pork on a bolillo roll with slaw and a drizzle of a locally bottled bbq sauce.  I grabbed a bottle last time through the store because I knew I was running low and it’s a lot like the stuff I make myself.DSC_8718 (1600x1060)Last is another classic Reuben with our own corned beef and sauerkraut.  This one has provolone and thousand island dressing.

Tidbits

DSC_4734 (1600x1060)Our cherry tomatoes are doing great.  I’ll have to start freezing or drying some soon.  I didn’t make a dent in them with this pasta dish:DSC_8721 (1600x1060)This is an easy dish and it tastes great but we can’t eat it every day.  Unlike the BLTs:DSC_8717 (1600x1060)Mrs J has named these her all time favorite sammiches.  This one is a BELT, it’s topped with an egg.

Our Vitex nearly didn’t survive the winter, it did die back to the root but it is coming back.  They are late bloomers and are just now producing something to catch the eye of a hummingbird.DSC_4752 (1600x1060)This is a Ruby Throated Hummingbird – the gorget really catches the light when the angle is right.DSC_4753 (1600x1060)The little peppers are coming along, plenty of red ones, a few orange, not seeing any yellow one so far.  Of course they all start out green.  DSC_4737 (1600x1060)The dill in the background is pretty with the yellow flowers looking like bursting fireworks.  This is the first time we have had luck growing dill.  Aphids and caterpillars usually make short work of it.  I’ll try to collect the seeds for baking rye bread.

Sunflower Buffet

DSC_4729 (1600x1060)I noticed a Goldfinch working a sunflower yesterday so I grabbed a few shots.  I realized a little later that the flower he is on is the same one I photographed a week ago:DSC_4698 (1600x1060)Those sunflower have been a real gold mine over the years, providing some of my all time favorite photographs, like this winter shot of finches gleaning from the dry bones of the previous season’s crop:DSC_3274_Snapseed [1600x1200]I can easily understand why finches love these flowers, the seeds are a great source of food for them.  I bet this hummingbird was disappointed, though:DSC_9944 [1024x768]

Early Birds

DSC_4674 (1600x1060)Mr and Mrs Goldfinch arrive early at the sunflower buffet, hoping to beat the rush.

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