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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Fishing Lessons

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We have the talon method.

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And we have the beak method.

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Which do you prefer? The parents out there seem to be teaching their juveniles how to fish.

This is in downtown Columbia MD. Wilde Lake. It seems the Triadelphia Eagles have relocated to become the Wilde Lake Eagles. I have heard there were as many as 20 out there. Today, we found 4 or 5.

The juveniles …

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… haven’t developed that white head and white tail.

As for mom or dad …

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… rather obvious, aren’t they?

I took my pictures today with my puny little D90 and a 200 mm lens. There were quite a few avid bird photographers out there.

If I win Powerball, maybe I will get one of those $2000 lenses, to do the up close shots. Still, all in all, it was just amazing to watch the eagles fish.

We hear that they are on Wilde Lake because of work being done out at Triadelphia, where they normally hang out. Eagles aren’t thrilled by all the photographers, walkers and bikers that ring the lake. While they are trying to get a meal.

If you get a chance, pop down. Morning or afternoon. They do like sunny days, though. When they can see the fish more easily.

Wildflowers in Winter?

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It may be cold outside but inside this Saturday you can be transported. To visions of the flowers that bloom naturally, here where we live.

Are you like me, who just waits for that first carpet of blooms, telling us spring is coming?

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Besides buttercups, and dandelions, what do you know about those perennial flowers (and weeds) that mark the changing seasons here in Maryland?

Do you know what these are?

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Would you like to hear more about the flowers you see in your travels, on your hikes, or your commute?

Come to the Howard County Conservancy Mt. Pleasant this Saturday morning at 10 am for one of their free events. A second Saturday “Wonder Walk”, except that in the cold dreary winter, the walks turn into talks.

Jo and Bob Solem, known to many who are active Howard County birders, are also avid recorders of the wildflowers that grace our area. They are presenting some of their finest pictures and talking about the lure of these flowers.

It may be cold and rainy outside Saturday morning but in the Nature Center, you can think about spring.

A Few Good Posts

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The New Year in blogging. My philosophy for 2016. I am going to go for quality, and not quantity. Fewer posts. More content. New material.

I realized that many of my posts are reruns of former years. Thanks (or no thanks) to Facebook memories. I want to remedy that. To find different things to blog about.

Interesting in my year end blog stats. How my older posts keep getting viewed. Like that baby chick thing from Tractor Supply.

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That post keeps getting hit. Over and over again. Even in the winter here, I get hits. From places in the Southwest, where I suppose they are looking for chicks in their temperate climate.

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My other big topic with staying power. That hexbeam of my husband’s. From all over the world. I think I should photograph more of the diagrams if the number of times that picture gets viewed is an indication of popularity of a topic.

Also, for whatever reason, people seem to be obsessed about life without heat. It was my second most viewed post. Mine wasn’t even that dire. It was a whiny post because our heat pump gave up the ghost and it was cold on our first floor for two days.

It is interesting to see what people read the most. Besides these few strange topics, my food posts get more views. I am not classified as a food blog, even though I do blog often about what I cook and what we eat.

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Those three top posts weren’t from 2015. WordPress tells me I should write about them again. Since they have “staying power”. Or maybe I should put more of my dining posts up here as they are also popular.

I don’t know. I like to write about what is happening now. Not what I did in the past. I do know that this year I need to expand my horizons and make this more of a regionally focused blog, instead of just Howard County. Spread the wealth, so to speak.

 

 

 

 

 

Keepers

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Happy New Year! I admit it’s good to see 2015 in the rear view mirror, and I look forward to 2016.

This year my theme for  my New Year’s Day post is a positive one. To focus on all the good things from my trip through 2015. Those “keepers”.

Let’s start with my garden and my food preservation. I have a short list of keepers here. I came to the conclusion that I needed to focus. Grow just what I use, and not be swayed into new foods that end up living forever in the freezer.

Keepers are preservable foods like zucchini fritters, caramelized onions, oven roasted tomatoes and simple syrups made from fruit. I find myself heading to the freezer to use up these goodies. Over and over until they are gone. For my future garden there will be tomatoes, onions, and zucchini to keep my supplies at a level that will sustain me through the following winter.

At Larriland next summer, the strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cherries will be used to make the syrups. I am even thinking of pureeing and freezing peach ice cubes, instead of slices or halves.

They are the perfect size to drop into a container of plain yogurt, or to make an awesome sangria on these “warm” winter days. Or the best ice cubes out there.

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Ice cube trays have become my best preservation tool. I find that I use things that were preserved in small batches. No more large jars, except for tomato sauce. Everything else worked better for us if it was in individually portioned sizes. Including pesto, and compound butters.

Moving on. What worked and didn’t work for us when it came to healthy eating. I settled on a combination of Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, Friends and Farms and Larriland to supply us with the bulk of our perishable foods.

For 47 weeks, I get a Community Supported Agriculture basket, which I have expanded to include bread, meat, fruit and cheese.

From Friends and Farms, I settled on a protein and dairy bag. Meat and seafood, eggs and occasional cheese. This works for us. It has changed my cooking and how we eat.

As long as these three sources are available to us, they will continue to be our source of food. We no longer shop in the frozen food aisle of any store.

If I can, I will put away my own “frozen” dinners. At least I know what is in them. I make large amounts of lasagna, meat loaves, meatballs, soups, stews, whenever I get a good quantity of beef and pork, or ground chicken or turkey.

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Having a meat option in our bags and baskets has changed my cooking dramatically. I use smaller quantities of meat in my recipes. I use more exotic vegetable combinations and have new favorites, like parsnips.

The biggest change I saw in the past year. How much I got used to having a dozen eggs every week. I made egg salad. Potato salad with eggs. Frittatas. Souffles. Crustless quiche. A meal with eggs in it replaced meals with meat.

Cod and catfish. Thanks to Friends and Farms, these two have become regulars in my dinner choices. Both are good choices from a sustainability standpoint.

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Simple meals. My new mantra based on wanting to showcase great food that doesn’t require fussiness or hard to find ingredients. That catfish was baked, after sprinkling it with bread crumbs, paprika, salt and pepper, and thyme. Served with an easy to make salad, and boiled fingerlings.

Other than food, what else happened in 2015 that I consider a “keeper”. I have to say it was my switch from paper to iPad. NPR on line. NYTimes on line. iBooks for my new reading purchases. Bon Appetit on line.

I have pretty much transitioned to reading all about it on a tablet. Maybe more so, because I can make the print bigger and easier on the eyes.

Last but certainly not least are the friends my husband and I have made, and are including more and more into our lives. We certainly have embraced retirement and expanded our circle of friends. Like those lyrics from an old Girl Scout song. “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver. The other is gold.”

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Here’s to a happy, healthy 2016!