Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Instant Summer

Spring was mostly cold and wet. Then on the 25th of May it was like someone flipped a switch. It's been hot, dry and sunny since.

Memorial Day Monday 30 May 2011

Even the daisies are out! I saw the first daisies out at the barn yesterday.

Barn Daisies

Memorial Day has always been a favorite holiday.

L often gets a bath. First bath of the season and she'll be nice and clean for a couple of hours anyway.

Cleanest Horse on the Property

I *always* have a Big Mac.
Crazy Happy

My favorite time of year for as long as I can remember!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Winter 2010/2011

I have pictures of every storm throughout the winter of 2010/2011. I had 25 "candidates" for my Winter picture. But this is the one.

Winter 2010/2011

We've had worse winters. But not recently. This was 12 January. This was the first really serious snow of the season. Suggesting we were to have a winter to remember. We had storms like this every few days for weeks. Looking at this picture makes me want to go have a hot cocoa.

This was the sidewalk down the street on 30 January. Crazy.

Of course blueberry pancakes are good anytime. But they're especially good when the snow is shoulder deep. This actually was breakfast on 30 January!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A little "tubby"?!

I have the vet out to do a coggins and she says Sweety is a little..."tubby". Well. I think she's been looking at a few too many skinny thoroughbreds.

Air Fern

Maybe she does need a little more "tone". Canadian Horses are generally regarded as "easy keepers" and she's fed an astonishingly small amount. So she needs...more work.

It's been dismal and wet for over a week. But Saturday made up for it! Saturday was a perfect day. The fog burned off, the sun came out and it felt like summertime.

My Happy Place

I love surprises like this. We're poking around the woods out there and here's this flowering tree. I have no idea what kind of tree this is but it's not a native wild tree. This was a lucky find because out in the woods things like this only last a day or two and then it's going to look like the rest of the trees.

L wants to eat it.

Did. Not. Like.

Guinness is the stout by which I measure all other stouts. I usually drink stout in the wintertime. I expect a stout to be the brewer's best shot at the strongest thing he (or she) has got. I want it thick. And rich. And creamy. I want to think syrup and even the foam has to be brown.

This stuff might as well have been Bud Light. I honestly don't know what I expected of a "summer" stout but I was very disappointed.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

School Days

Yesterday, after a lazy hour long ride poking around the property, we headed back to the barn and I see the ring is empty and the footing looks pretty good. So L and I went ahead and schooled in the ring for a few minutes. She got so mad!

We haven't been in the ring in ...well, it's over a year anyway, and, considering that, she was really good. We schooled for maybe 15 minutes doing mostly flexing and bending exercises. She's strong and fit but she hasn't been as supple as I know she can be. It's been so wet this Spring it's been hard to school in the fields. If I push really hard I know her feet will slip out from under her.

So we did our 15 minutes doing concentric circles and lapping the rail and finished with some serpentines. I know she was working at it but it was mostly because she was mad. Far as she was concerned we'd already gone 10 minutes over by the time we got there.

L is a very funny horse. And the funniest thing is she doesn't know how funny she is. She got all pushy when we went back into the barn and I smacked her. Well. She *glared* at me! She hasn't given me her "I can't believe you did that!" look in ages and it's very funny.

Dinner this past Friday night was something special. I might have to frame this.

Friday 13 May 2011

That, by the way, is American Paddlefish caviar and I thought it was quite good. Closer to the best than the worst.

Kitchen tip! I made some tabbouleh a week or so ago and of course I had leftover fresh mint. I love mint on peas too. Other than that I don't use a lot of mint and usually I just chuck what's left when it goes bad. But this time the light came on - I chopped it all up finely while it was still fresh, dried it, and put it away.

Chopped Fresh Mint Leaves

Spread out on a dinner plate and left on the kitchen counter out of the way it was fully dried in 48 hours.

Dried Mint Leaves

I'm a little extravagant sometimes but I'm acutely aware of what things cost and I really hate seeing things go to waste.

Edit: You know, I love mint with tomatoes too but I either forget that when I'm shopping or I forget I have mint when I'm fixing tomatoes!

Monday, May 9, 2011


I just love L's feathers!

Feathers - 8 May 2011

I love seeing the seasons change in New England. Roll your mouse over the picture to see that window the day after Christmas, remember this?

1 May 2011

The apple blossoms are out!

Apple Blossoms 8 May 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Results are in!

The shocking results.

On the left is (an expensive) small bottle of hand made organic extra virgin olive oil from a medieval village in Tuscany.

On the right is a domestic extra virgin olive oil (gasp!) from California.

In a blind taste test, straight up, using a baguette, my hands down favorite was the domestic oil from California Olive Ranch.

By the way, it's also interesting to note that I couldn't tell which was which by looking at them.

The shocking part is not that I liked the less expensive product. That's happened before. For many years Colavita was my favorite daily use olive oil. Then one day when I had several bottles of olive oil around I did a blind taste test and, much to my surprise, my favorite was Berio. I've been using Berio up until a year or so ago when I took a liking to Greek olive oils.

I've also found that I'm just as likely to prefer a $6 bottle of wine to a $60 bottle of wine.

I highly recommend doing your own blind taste tests!

But no, the shocking thing is I preferred a domestic olive oil! Who ever would have thought!

It was rich. It was pungent and flavorful. It was spicy. I like strong, bold flavors. Maybe the Volpaia was just too subtle for me. It's a premium product and it's made using a cutting process rather than a pressing process and its highlights include exceptional purity and notably low acidity.

The Volpaia oil, by the way, is roughly 14 times the price of the California Olive Ranch oil. California Olive Ranch boasts a very high level of automation to reduce its costs while claiming to be a superior product.

The California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil at my local supermarket is dirt cheap. The first time I looked at it I thought someone had made a mistake. And the first time I tasted it I wished I'd bought a case.

Yes, I'm raving about the product. Try it!

Easy Marinated Mushrooms. Restraint is the secret here!

I don't know how long I worked on this recipe. A very long time and it turned out to be more about technique than ingredients. I needed an unusually light hand (for me) with the herbs to finally make it work.

Clean 8 ounces of button mushrooms. White or crimini. Cut the bigger ones in half. Sometimes I take the stems out and cut them up.

Finely chop 2 or 3 cloves of garlic.

Bring to a boil:
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch of salt
Add the mushrooms and garlic to the boiling mixture and reduce the heat. Let the mushrooms gently boil, stirring occasionally. After 7 minutes turn the heat off and let them sit a minute or two.

While the mushrooms are boiling put a half teaspoon of dried thyme and a tablespoon of finely chopped red onion in a bowl with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. I like to put a couple of dried chilis in there too. That's optional.

Now here's the technique I accidentally found one night that made them just right: After the mushrooms have cooled for a couple of minutes spoon them into the bowl with the olive oil using a slotted spoon. Toss to coat them with olive oil and herbs.

You can optionally add a tablespoon of the vinegar mixture to the bowl and toss again to emphasize the flavor.

Refrigerate the mushrooms overnight and let them come to room temperature for serving.

These are so easy to fix - I often fix them when I'm just hanging around the kitchen doing other things.

I've used cut mushrooms in a pinch and they're just as good as whole button mushrooms. But they're not as pretty.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A fine specimen?

Well I don't know about that.

Four or 5 years ago I couldn't walk a quarter mile. Nevermind run 3 miles. I quit smoking cigarettes a year ago yesterday and... to mark the occasion? I *finally* threw out my butts! For the time being I never felt better.

Hey he can cook too!

Seared Tuna

Some would call that overdone but that's just the way I like it. I marinated a 4 oz. tuna steak in soy sauce, lime juice, sake, sesame oil and a tiny bit of honey for about 30 minutes. I seared it for 3 minutes each side in a rocket hot cast iron skillet. You need to be careful with the honey. A tiny bit of honey "caramelizes". A lot of honey "burns".

The dipping sauce is soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, lime juice and finely chopped red onion. It's on a bed of finely chopped lettuce and serano chilis.

I always burn the sesame seeds so I sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds over it when I serve it.

I served it with brown basmati rice and steamed asparagus. Asparagus season will peak this month. This was just *delicious*.

Earlier in the day I'd enjoyed a sensational ride with L. She's strong and she's fit and she's been messing with me. So I had spurs. L has taught me two things. It's important it is to be decisive and it's very important to have your horse's mind.

If I haven't reacted by the time she thinks about it I'm already at a disadvantage. She has to believe I know what she's thinking. And I have to be strong enough to settle it the first time. Actually my trainer taught me that. It's not fair to "poke poke"..."poke poke"..."poke poke". I have to give her what she needs and be done with it.

Those are simple things and when I get them right I swear it's like riding a breeze.

After a nice ride L gets grass...

And I get beer!

By the way. That's a Belgian wheat beer. I never had Belgian wheat beer. It's important to have it in a glass. You have to swirl the yeast in the bottle. Do not drink Belgian wheat beer from the bottle.
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