Monday, December 29, 2014

Pumpkin Recipes for the New Year

Pumpkin Recipes for the New Year

Well, Thanksgiving is over and winter is officially here. It was time to dig into the pumpkin that has been gracing our front steps. What should I do with it? The seeds were the easy part- bake and eat. But what about the rest? Time to consult prior recipes and find new ones.

Pumpkin soup is one of my favorites and I make it each year. I like to try new things, however, so I looked online and came up with some possibilities that sound scrumptious. The good part of all of this is if I run out of pumpkin I can always use butternut squash, which the market seems to have all season.

Surely I’m not the only one who is eager to experiment so if you have a pumpkin recipe that you love and are willing to share, please send it along. Meanwhile, let’s try some of these. Happy eating.

And BTW Have a Happy and Healthy 2015!

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins:

Chef John’s Pumpkin Scones:

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce from Circle B Kitchen:

100 Ways to cook a pumpkin from Endless Simmer:

Pumpkin Oat Pancakes from Cookie & Kate- it’s gluten free:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cozy in Our Indoor Backyard

Cozy in Our Indoor Backyard

This past week has been cold and often rainy so I decided to enjoy our backyard inside. We stacked firewood from a two-year-old cord (now nicely weathered) in the fireplace in our den then added branches that had fallen onto the lawn during the windy Fall days for kindling. The logs were lit and blazed with delicious warmth. The scene cozied up the den. We planted ourselves on the sofas and read books in the light and warmth of the flames. Ahhh.
            We tend to make fewer fires than most people who have fireplaces which means that the leftover wood in the cord is nice and dry for the next season/s. We discovered how wet wood can be really smoky so we appreciate letting the wood age.
            But what about the environmental cost of having a fireplace? Well, there is a cost but that impact depends on the type of fireplace, the kind of wood, even the kind of fuel. Whether a tree is burned or dies it oxidizes, just at a different rate. Trees are a renewable resource – we can replace them. Reputable wood harvesters know how to actively manage their wood lots.
            I admit I like my fireplace. I also confess that I am concerned about its consequences. Isn’t that like so much of life? We make choices and hope they aren’t harmful as they support us in how we choose to live.

What kind of wood is good for the fireplace?

Pros and cons of different kinds of fireplaces:

And what about the environment?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hawk in Suburbia

Hawk in Suburbia

I am used to seeing hawks off in the distance, wings spread, floating on the air currents beyond the height of our neighborhood trees. There is a grace to their flying, so smooth that it almost seems they aren’t flying at all.

Occasionally a hawk will come closer, just above our backyard trees. No doubt it is scoping out the movements on our bird feeders. Most of the time the birds are savvy and disappear when the hawk is around, though not always. I have found splashes of feathers on the lawn, usually from a mourning dove that didn’t move off fast enough. And we have enough squirrels and chipmunks to satisfy the hungriest hawk.

This week I was surprised, however, to find a hawk right in our backyard, sitting in the maple tree near our patio. It wasn’t the kind of place I would expect a hawk to be. It was high for people but not typical hawk height. And it was close to an inhabited site. The bird sat on a lower branch, another unusual activity. It seemed to be aware of every move we made near our back storm door but it wasn’t inclined to leave. Eventually, it took off across our yard to places unknown.

I admit I was shaken. It is one thing to see such a creature in the distance and quite another to have it within whistling distance, which I couldn’t help doing. Was it getting used to us? Not necessarily a good thing. Our living needs are obviously different. Can we live together in peace? As people take up more land space from the natural inhabitants the question becomes urgent. I hope we can do a better job of co-existing with the hawks than we often do with people who have divergent lifestyles.

A common bird in America: