Posted by Sean
It's no secret that Joey and I are in to birds. I got my first bird in college and had him for 20 years. Since Joey and I have been together our flock has slowly grown. First it was a lovebird, then two, then a conure, some finches and finally our parrotlet Mojoe. Oh, then a few more finches. Yes, we like birds.
When we started to clean up our garden we added some bird feeders and bird baths so we could enjoy the birds outside as well. There are all sorts of little birds that come and visit us sometime times very exotic ones, but mostly just little sparrows and the like. We did have a flock of ring necked doves that hung out with us for a bit on their way somewhere, but mostly we just have our neighborhood birds. Oh, and pigeons. We have also managed to attract a flock of local pigeons. These are just your normal grey feral pigeons. While they are a bit of a nuisance, they come with the territory. I didn't pay them much mind until one day I noticed something different. Off to the side of these grey pigeons was a bright while and grey pigeon. I knew she was different the minute I walked outside and all the pigeon flew away except her. Just just looked at me as if she knew me.
For the next few weeks this pigeon would follow me around the yard as I did my yard work. She wasn't what I would call tame, but she wasn't afraid of me, either. She kept her distance, but was always close enough to me that I knew she was there. I named her Ellen.
As time passed it became apparent that Ellen was here to stay. I went out and fed her each morning. Putting the food closer and closer to me. Joey fed her every evening when he got home. The other day she even ate out of my hand. As we started to get attached to this bird we also started worrying. What would Ellen do in winter? Would she get cold? I decided to call Mickacoo, a local pigeon rescue group.
Elizabeth explained to me that Ellen was a domesticated homing pigeon that apparently got lost or decided not to go home. While Ellen could withstand the elements, she has no knowledge of how to forage for food on her own. It's most likely that the food Joey and I were giving her is what was keeping her alive. She said homing pigeons want a home and Ellen has probably decided she would like that home to be with us. At first I wasn't so sure I wanted to keep a pigeon, but it was too late. I was already attached.
So, Joey and I keeping Ellen and are in the process of making her a home. We already made the main part of her home with a chicken coop we are converting. Some folks think we are crazy. Well, most folks do, but I don't care. I am getting old enough that I deserve to be a little crazy! I've earned it. Besides, we didn't choose to have a pigeon. Ellen chose us.
Posted by Sean
Last Friday I wrote about choosing the recipes for my entire meal from my cookbook library. Well, it was a huge success! My meal couldn't have been any better. It wasn't the fanciest looking meal, but it was tasty.
The burgers were really tender. I had never used my broiler before and they are not all created equal! My new stoves broiler cooks much more evenly. I didn't really follow the recipe very closely. I think you could take any burger recipe, mold them into 1-inch patties and you would be set. I broiled them for six minutes, turned them over and cooked them for six more. Then I topped them with a tomato slice and some mozzarella cheese and broiled them for two more minutes until brown and bubbly. They were delicious.
The ratatouille was delicious. A simple recipe is the way to go, and the recipe from The Joy of Cooking was perfect. I have ignored that book for so long thinking it wasn't fancy enough, but it's just what I needed.
The star of the show had to be the Mac & Cheese from The Best Light Recipe by Cook's Illustrated. This is something I will make again and again. I can't recommend this book, or any Cook's Illustrated cookbook, enough. I love reading the explanations on how they came up with one technique or ingredient over the other. I was worried that this wouldn't taste like the full-fat version, but it did. I see no reason to make Mac & Cheese any other way.
With the success of dinner last weekend, I have decided to do the same thing for this weekend. Head to my cookbook library and pick out some winners. I'm thinking flank steak, but who knows what I will find!
Posted by Sean
It's been a long time since I have cooked so I decided this weekend we would have a proper Sunday dinner. When deciding on what to make I did something I rarely do - I consulted my cookbooks. I also did something I never do. I decided that ALL my recipes would come from my cookbooks, not the internet.
I have well over 100 cookbooks, all easily accessible, that I rarely use. It's so easy to go online and Google what you are looking for. However, it makes no sense to have a library of cookbooks and never use them.
I started off with a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Dieter's Cook Book - Italian Style Burgers. I got this cookbook at Ross probably 15 years ago and used it all the time way back when. You can still get a copy of it on Amazon for a penny, plus shipping. These are more like mini meatloaf patties with broiled tomato and mozzarella on top. They are yummy. This is actually a really great cookbook with beautiful pictures and easy-to-make recipes. In fact, the picture of the burger inspired me to find my next recipe - Low Fat Mac and Cheese. For that I knew right where to go - The Best Light Recipe from Cook's Illustrated. If there is only one low-fat cookbook you buy, this should be it. I have made several and they have all been delicious.
Next, I wanted to take advantage of all the wonderful summer vegetables so I decided to make a simple ratatouille. I thought finding this would be simple, but it wasn't. Every book had some fancy twist on this simple recipe and I really wanted simple. I was just about to give up and make green beans when I saw my Joy of Cooking. I had never even cracked this book open before. It was just something I felt I should have. Well, I found exactly what I was looking for - a simple ratatouille. No frills, no twists, no fancy ingredients. Just a simple recipe.
Yay! I have my menu:
- Italian Style Burgers
- Mac and Cheese
I learned something from this exercise. I actually enjoy going through my cookbooks. It really didn't take any longer than looking things up online and it some ways it was probably faster. I didn't take any breaks to check Facebook or get distracted by some ad. Also, I saw a ton of other recipes that I otherwise wouldn't have thought of while I was looking that I just can't wait to try. It is possible to find what I need without the internet. Maybe I am on to something.
Posted by Sean
I always thought it was incredibly romantic when folks would show me trees in their yards and told the story of how they planted in as a little sapling and have watched it grow for all their years together. It's a real symbol of a life spent together.
When we had our yard cleared low and behold we had a two spots for trees. One was already filled by an apple tree, but the other had been hidden away by huge overgrowth. We didn't even know that spot was there. I was very excited when we found it. We could plant our little symbol!
Now comes the hard part. What kind of tree to get? We really didn't want anything big and weren't sure if we wanted another fruit tree in addition to the apple and lemon trees we have. Both pear and plum trees came to mind, but just didn't feel right. Then we saw it. A blossoming plum tree at Lowes. Joey fell in love with it. This was the tree he wanted. One problem - how would we get it home?
This tree wasn't small. Probably six or seven feet. I have a Mini Cooper and Joey has a BMW sedan. There was no way we were going to fit a tree in there. We decided that we would wait a couple of weeks, rent a truck, then go pick it up.
A couple of weeks passed and we went back to Lowes to pick out our tree. Guess what? They didn't have them anymore. In fact, no nursery near us had them. Trust me, I called them all. Apparently, the time to start carrying these is in January. January?!!! If you know us, that is way too long for us to wait. Besides, we had just finished planting everything in the garden and we really wanted to plant our little plum tree.
After some searching online I found exactly what I wanted. Clifton's Nursery in Porterville, California had plum trees and they shipped them! Who knew you could buy a tree online?! Better yet, I could purchase it through Amazon, meaning I could trust that I would get my money back if the tree never came.
It came. It's was packaged beautifully and is the cutest thing I have ever seen. We both fell in love with this little guy. We got a Dwarf Purple Pony. It's a fruitless, flowering plum tree and only grows to about 15 feet. Perfect for our yard.
We planted our little plum tree last Sunday. I can tell it's happy - just like Joey and I are. It's a perfect symbol or our life together.