Saturday, January 28, 2012

Barn cats

A barn has to have cats.

What's he doing out there?

I don't know how many cats are around the barn. They're usually very busy.


I've actually seen 8 or 10 of these cats, sitting in a line, all of their heads rotating in unison as they watched a mouse scramble across the alley.

On another occasion we had a feral cat in the barn catch a mouse. And they all gathered in a circle and stared. This poor cat layed down flat, growled and swallowed that whole mouse in one gulp.

And then there's this tough guy.

Been hanging around the barn for *years*. We finally gave up trying to catch him. This cat just amazes me. First seen maybe 3 or 4 years ago, see him hunting all the time and seen him snatch up little rodents and baby rabbits who knows how many times. You can plainly see he's not missing many meals.

Life is good for a barn cat. Mostly short. But good.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Cue Yakety Sax.

Question: "What will you do to support the 99 percent..."?
Mitt Romney: "America's right and you're wrong".

Ok, I edited the quote liberally but even in its full context I fail to see anything remotely like an answer to the question. How the question leads to "...if you think... North Korea's better..." escapes me completely.

And then we have New Gingrich's response to his apparent desire to have an open marriage: "I'm appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that".

Nevermind which way I lean - I thought character and family meant a lot to Republicans. It seems a fair question. Apparently I'm mistaken. That response got a standing ovation. I guess he told 'em. Hmmm. The world confuses me.

Michele Bachmann? Rick "Adios MoFo" Perry? Herman Cain? For.. President?

How on earth is anyone anywhere supposed to take these people seriously?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cold and windy

Yesterday was cold. Not too bad really but the wind was just awful. And of course the footing was frozen hard and uneven. Eight or 10 inches of snow usually makes for good footing at least.

Desperate for something to do with L I bundled up and we went for a walk.

15 January 2012. Cold. Windy!

I think I had a better time than L did. She kept giving me dirty looks. We walked for 2 or 3 miles and of course she was a rock star. I've blogged about this walking thing before. You'd think the sense of partnership and teamwork would be boldest when we ride. But no, I find I feel a greater sense of our "working together" when we walk.

We haven't walked in a long time now. Being able to go out and just have a pleasant walk, without having done so in a while, in the cold and the wind, is a huge achievement.

I spent most of that walk thinking how good a hot chocolate was going to be when I got home. Then, on the drive home, I changed my mind. I decided to try a Woodchuck hard cider. I've *never* had hard cider! Shocking I know.

Excellent stuff! Two thumbs up!

They didn't have a variety pack, so, for no real reason, I chose Amber style. I really enjoyed the Amber style hard cider and I'll definitely be trying other styles.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Just a coincidence..

I swear. Really!

I'm braising lamb shanks.

And I see last year, just about to the day, I was...braising lamb shanks.

There must just be something about this time of year that has me needing a serious comfort food fix and braised lamb shanks has always been a favorite.

I used my standard braising liquid recipe and my own Tuscan herb blend. I mix equal parts of dried basil, thyme, rosemary and sage. Well. A little more sage. And with the rosemary I take the dried leaves and run them through a coffee grinder. It's the rosemary and sage that make it a "Tuscan" blend.

Anyone can do a really nice braise.

The most important thing really is to sear your meat. Nice and brown with some chunky well done bits left behind in the pan. I use a well seasoned cast iron dutch oven.

Searing the lamb shanks

The bones will bring a ton of flavor to the dish.

Take the shanks out and put them on a plate. Add a little more olive oil if you need to and sauté chopped celery, carrots and onion until they're soft and reduced in volume. Maybe 6 or 7 minutes. Then add some chopped garlic. Turn the heat on high and in a minute or two add some dry red wine. When the wine is reduced add chopped tomatoes, stock, some Worcestershire and the shanks. Bring it all to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and cover. Keep a vigorous simmer going for 2 and a half to 3 hours.

Then I take about 2/3 of the braising liquid and put it in a blender. Be sure and put a towel over the top of the blender! I've done this I don't know how many times and *this* time the top popped off. Good thing I had a towel over the lid. That's only happened to me once before.

I return that to the dutch oven, add in some fresh carrots and I like purple top turnip, and let it go for another 20 minutes or so.

Bordeaux goes really well with lamb. Here I just found out Bordeaux are generally various blends of Merlot and Cabernet. I had no idea.

Here. Just look at this!

I did something a little different here - serving it over rice. I usually have this over mashed potatoes or polenta. It was very good over rice.

You can do pot roast this way, you can do short ribs this way, you can do all kinds of things exactly this way and it's delicious every time.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I was enjoying a nice ride in the woods with L when we happened across these!

Antler sheds

Apparently these are called sheds. Deer shed their antlers this time of year. A fascinating story really. Apparently after mating the buck's testosterone concentration diminishes. The diminished testosterone concentration causes the antlers to soften and shed.

We see a lot of deer around here. L and I first found our way around the woods following deer trails. Here in west suburban Boston these are of course from a white-tailed deer. I think they're a pretty good size. They're bigger than my forearm. And a nice souvenir of a pleasant day in the woods.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Beach weather?

Now this is memorable! Not a record. Close. The record is 63.

7 January 2012 4:20pm

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fall 2011

Picking my picture of Fall 2011 is challenging this year. Mostly because Fall was...bland. I don't really have one single picture that I think says..."Fall" from 2011.

This is a favorite from the season. And it says "Fall" to me. That's a closeup of L's neck and shoulder from the front with her rhythm bead necklace. It's the color of the light and her winter coat that make it "Fall". I just love her winter coat! I can practically smell her when I look at this picture.

5 November 2011

Of course I have to include this, at least as a "most memorable moment" from Fall 2011. The (big) snow storm in October.

30 October 2011, 8:12 am

With any luck that will also be the last snow of the season! Actually, the snow I don't mind so much. It's the cold I hate!

There are other things that always say "Fall" to me.

Kitty starts sitting in the sun.

It's bourbon cider season!

I like this on ice

Even though you can get this in August and September it really is meant for celebrating the harvest season and always means Fall to me.

The Origin of Oktoberfest style beer is an interesting story

And of course with much sadness, I have my last ear of corn for the year...

The last ear of 2011 corn. 10 October
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