Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

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After 30 loaves of squash bread and 9 quarts of minestrone for the freezer not to mention several meals, I am ready to take a break.  This is just from two days!  I only planted three hills.   The food pantry I donate to is only open on Wednesdays but this method has worked in the past.  We’ll see how many people still cook.

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Bridled Tern: A Rare Connecticut Visitor

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Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus) Photo courtesy of Valerie Gebert

Yesterday we had the opportunity to see this rare visitor from southern waters in Connecticut, only the second record sighting of a Bridled Tern here.  The bird was sighted about 10 days ago on Falkner Island which is under conservation as a portion of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.

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Falkner Island a/k/a Faulkner’s Island.  The island has been drastically reduced in size by erosion, reducing the size of the Roseate Tern nesting area available.  It was estimated at 8 acres in 1639 and reduced to 2.87 acres by 1987.  Hurricane Sandy and other storms have done even more damage and the Army Corps of Engineers have reinforced the eastern boundary in an attempt to slow the damage.

Andy Griswold took a day off from work to take his boat out to try and see it and we were lucky enough to get seats.  We waited 2.5 hours before the bird made its appearance.  It was a life bird for all of us.  During the wait we constantly scanned the rocks, enjoying the interactions between the parents and chicks of the many terns that nest there.  Most were Common Terns, a few the endangered Roseate terns (the island hosts the largest breeding colony in the State) and a couple of Black Terns were sighted as well.

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Just a few of the thousands of terns coming and going around us.  What a cacophony!

Finally Andy spotted it and we watched delighted for 16 minutes as it perched, flew and was chased by the Common Terns.

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A Walk in the Woods Yields a Mushroom Frittata

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Chanterelles and boletes, trimmed and ready

We found quite a few chanterelles and boletes on our morning walk, one bolete was the prized “penny bun” and a good size too.  I trimmed them, caramelized a vidalia onion and sauteed the mushrooms until they released their liquid and browned a little.  I added fresh thyme and spread the mixture evenly in the pan.  I added salt and a small glug of water to five eggs, beat them with a fork until creamy then spread them over the mushrooms in the pan.  I cooked them on the stove top on low heat until I saw the edges start to harden then finished it off under the broiler (this ensures a tender interior without the trauma of trying to turn it over in the pan).

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Yum!

We rounded off our lunch with a slice of a lemon/ginger/rhubarb pie which I had brought from home.  I gave the recipe for this pie in my July 25, 2016 post on this blog.

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Pete’s Tree: Native Plant Success

 

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This Catbird is one of the several species enjoying the early season fruit from the Pagoda Dogwood

I have championed native plants here previously, especially deer resistant bird friendly ones and I now have another success.  My sister-in-law wanted to do something as a memorial to our son Pete after his death from cancer in 2013 and we decided on a Pagoda Dogwood.  In only three years it has borne a bumper crop of fruit and is covered with birds each morning, especially Gray Catbirds, Northern Mocking Birds, American Robins and Cedar Waxwings.  This tree has early season fruit, a much sought after food source for birds.  We planted it near the bird bath where it would have the moist soil it enjoys.  It has so much going for it; early fruit, deer resistance, spring flowers, fall color and it’s native to this area.  I know Pete is enjoying the bird show.

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Here’s what it looks like in the spring.

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Strawberries!!!

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On Friday my husband and I picked 25+ pounds of strawberries at a local farm.  They were daunting when I got them home.  Of course we wanted jam and I like an old recipe from colonial days.  The New England colonists brought with them Sweet Woodruff, an herb native to Europe, where it was a necessary ingredient in their May wine but they also put it in strawberry jam as a flavor enhancer.  I made 12 jars of Strawberry-Sweet Woodruff jam and 14 jars of Strawberry-Pineapple.

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They’re the reddish ones in the middle

The farm gives out free recipe sheets and there was a recipe for a strawberry/pasta/kale salad which intrigued me but when I tried it we found it underwhelming.  I thought it had promise though so I tried it again, making it a whole meal this time using chicken chunks, quinoa, kale, strawberries and roasted sunflower seeds.  We really enjoyed it.  I used a sweet & sour lemony vinaigrette and garnished it with the zest from the lemon.

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And then there were the other uses:

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On cereal

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Strawberries and cream with a sprinkling of sugar

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Strawberries give me a chance to use my beloved old Royal Doulton berry plate that I found at a flea market with my brother. The bowl is perforated on the bottom so the berries don’t get soggy.

I also made a fresh strawberry pie, too sloppy to show you.  It’s been very rainy here and I should have used more cornstarch as it’s more like a thick sauce and spreads all over the plate (but still tasty).

 

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Lady Jane is Always the First to Bloom

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I always summer my Amaryllis bulbs in the garden and rest them for a couple of months in the fall.  I bring them up into the sunlight in late January to have some beauty in the cold days of winter.  I’ve had Lady Jane at least 20 years.  Happy Spring!!  [Click here for a link for full instructions that I posted earlier.]

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Happy Pi Day!!

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In celebration of Pi Day, 3/14, I made this raspberry pie from berries we picked last fall.  Yum!!

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