Monthly Archives: October 2008

Geese

Happy Halloween! On this day, I honor a frightening inhabitant of our lake, the goose. Or, to be more correct, geese, and these guys are not on the loner circuit. Its been said that these birds poop between 1/3 to 1 full pound of poop each day. Yucko!!! Along with that, they looooooove to feed on perfectly manicured lawns. Lovely, I know.

Our neighbors get the fun of cleaning lots of goose poop off their docks, but not us. Why? Dogs! But, I know what you’re thinking, dogs poop, too. But, we have a solution for that too …. teens who like to earn money! I figure we’ve got a good 3 to 4 years free from both goose poop and dog poop duties. How sweet is that?!

I’ve got a funny “Stupid Goose” story for you. When we put in new grass in the back yard, and when we just had one dog who didn’t take his goose – chasing duties very seriously, those geese had a field day on our new sod.  Our solution tested the persistence and cleverness of the geese, and they failed both big time.  We just pounded some little stakes on each end of the yard and stretched two fishing lines between them, about 3 and 4 inches off the ground.  The geese would run into the fishing line and couldn’t figure how to get over or past it and leave for friendlier territory at a different house.  What a relief!

And there you have it … frightening tales of geese and poop to add to your Halloween experience.

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Sticky Sweet Apple Pecan Buns

Oh, the strawberries are divine! I was just sure that they needed to go into some dish, and your suggestions have been greatly appreciated. But, for this first go at fresh Fall Strawberries, I once again returned to my general modus operandi and munched them down plain. Well, kind of plain. The strawberries were not gussied up at all, allowing their beautiful sweetness to shine, but the pecan sticky buns that happened to jump on the plate had plenty of gussy in them! Now, don’t get all trash talking to me about diet, as these sticky, very sticky actually, buns were based on a recipe from Cooking Light, meaning you can eat ’em all without guilt. Right?! I recommend you put these lovely buns in your weekend morning rotation, with or without the Fall strawberries.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter, chilled, plus 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 2 Granny Smith apples (about 12 oz. total)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon peel. Cut the 1/4 cup chilled butter into 1/4-inch pieces. With a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in milk all at once; stir just until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until cool, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan over medium-low heat, melt remaining 1/2 cup butter. Stir in corn syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour mixture into the bottom of an 8- by 8-inch baking pan. Sprinkle pecans evenly over mixture. Peel and core apples and slice as thinly as possible.

3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead about 15 times, adding just enough flour to keep dough from sticking. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 12-inch square.

4. Distribute apple slices and raisins over dough, leaving a 1-inch border along top edge. Working from the bottom, roll up dough, squeezing as you go; pinch edge to seal. Cut roll crosswise into 9 slices. Lay slices flat over syrup and pecans in pan.

5. Bake until rolls are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Invert a platter over pan and, holding both tightly together, invert again. Lift off pan and let rolls cool about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Notes:

  • The original recipe called for lemon zest, but I’m more of an orange girl, so I went with that.
  • I omitted the suggested raisins … just a personal preference.
  • Not having made this type of thing before, I worried about the very thin dough when rolling it up, but the buns were nice a puffy coming out of the oven.

Summer in October

Can you believe this?! Our little strawberry stand is open! They did that thing where plastic coats the rows of dirt and strawberry plants are planted.

Of course I stopped by to pick up a few baskets of their sweet strawberries. How could I not? They are also growing what looks like a large backyard garden with some peppers, green onions, and some kind of leafy greens. The owner told me that they will be open Friday to Sundays for about one month here. The good news on their end is that these strawberry plants produce a bit of fruit now, then get the season started again for them in April. Double the pleasure, double the fun!

Now, what to do with strawberries in October? Any ideas?

Lake Acne

This photo may look nice, relaxing, and even take you to some calm space within yourself. Don’t be fooled for a moment! This is the absolute bane of lake and delta life. Tules. UGH! When we notice a house with tules, either quietly moving in or already totally invaded, we all feel so badly for that family. Tules don’t play nice at all. They creep into your water space, multiply, and refuse to leave. It is like developing a bad case of acne. Everyone sees what is happening and feels really badly for you … they understand. And what is creeping into our back yard right now? You guessed it.

 

If you have a pair of gloves and a little time, you’re most welcome to join the fun in pulling tules. 

Beer and Pretzel Dip

Monday Night Football is all about getting together with a friends. We rotate houses each week, with the host providing a light meal for the group, and the rest of us occasionally bringing a snack or side dish. It is all quite informal, and it always works out perfectly without a lot of planning. When the game is worth watching, not like last night, we watch and chat. When the game has no glory, we just chat and catch up with each other and share a few laughs. We also have a simple little pool set up … just a few bucks involved, just choose the winner for each game, no spread involved. This provides fodder for a bit of trash talking each week. Either way, “our” team wins.

When deciding which little snack to bring yesterday, the thought of tailgating types of food brought to mind: beer and pretzels. Yum! And what could be better than beer and pretzels? Well, just add some cream cheese (that always helps!), ranch (for that slightly trashy aspect of the game), and cheddar cheese (it is a dip, you know) and you have the best darned pretzel dip ever! Mind you, there is nothing local, nothing fresh, and nothing healthy at all in this post. But, if you had seen my friends’ eyes open wide and a smile light up their faces when I walked in with a bowl of dip and bag of pretzels to our gathering last night, you’d know this just begged to be shared!

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened

8 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 pkg dry ranch mix

6 oz beer

Directions:

Mix well and chill for at least 60 minutes. Serve with pretzels.

Notes:

* I’ve whipped this up successfully with low fat cream cheese and cheddar with good results.

* Since a bottle of beer is more than 6 ounces, you’ll have to figure out what to do with the rest on your own!

* If you like a nice winter beer, do give this Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale a try.

14th Birthday

My little girl turns 14 today. Wow.

I’m very fortunate to say that she is a pleasure to spend time with and I consider myself blessed to have each of these 14 years with her. She is a poised, bright, interesting, independent thinking young woman who saves most of her drama for the stage, and we are just so proud of her!

Happy birthday, Dyl!

Baked Butternut Squash Risotto

This recipe comes from the Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook that I recently re-found right on my very own cookbook shelf. And while I do have a decent little collection, it sure pales in comparison to my friend Mrs L! You go girl!

Naturally, this recipe is located in the Autumn Main Courses section. I love butternut squash, but others in the family don’t share my appreciation. With this dish, I figured everyone could just get the bits that they like … rice or squash or both. When all was said and done, this was a bit sweeter than I had imagined, and I was the only one who actually liked it. And you know what that means … more left overs for the cook!

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

3 TBS olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups Arborio or other short grain white rice

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup grated Parmesan or aged Asiago cheese

ground pepper

Directions:

1.  Place the broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Adjust the heat to maintain a low simmer.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a large oven proof frying pan with a lid, warm the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and squash and stir to coat with the oil.  Pour in the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed.  Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until it is absorbed.  Continue cooking, adding 1/2 cup broth at a time and stirring often until you have used and additional 1 1/2 cups broth.  Total cooking time from when you added the wine will be about 12 minutes.

3.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups broth and bring to a boil, stirring continually.  Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese.  Cover and bake the risotto in the oven until tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, let stand, partially covered, for 5 minutes.  Season to taste with pepper and serve immediately.

Notes:

* This was my first risotto and I found it very easy.

*  Do bother to use a decent parmesan cheese here and not that pre-grated stuff in a bag.

*  I didn’t bother to actually measure those 1/2 cup additions of broth, figuring that my ladle held about that much liquid.