Monday, February 27, 2012

Sinister Bananas

We have a new cat in the barn.

Shiny new cat

He came up the driveway a few weeks ago. Nice cat. Very sweet. Very friendly. A "drop off", apparently. Sometimes people will abandon their pets near a working barn thinking they'll find a good home there. Oh, as often as not they're right I suppose.

This guy is cute. Barely more than a kitten.

Cute as a button

And he's talented!

But. He has some Siamese blood in him somewhere. You can see a little Siamese in the shape of his face. For the time being he's living in a stall. And he will. Not. Shut. Up. And he has that distinctive Siamese voice. Of course all the horses think there's a mountain lion in there.

They were all kinds of spooky and bug eyed for a couple of days.

Can I stomp him?

I'm gonna stomp him.

No, I didn't let her stomp him!

Now. About those sinister bananas. I go fetch L last Saturday. It was nice out. It was a little chilly and breezy. But nice. For February. And apparently our new kitty had all the horses a little anxious. L was spooking at *everything*. So there we are, warming up, bareback, and she's huffing and snorting and crow hopping around. And then... there's this.

Bad Bad Bananas

Those are bananas. Someone had thrown a couple of bananas out to the compost pile and missed. Landed by the bedding pile.

L is a mare. Some days she has the heart of a lion. And some days she'll spook at that bucket that wasn't there yesterday. Or maybe that blue bucket turned into a red bucket overnight. Mares will do that.

As we were jigging past the bedding pile, whose plastic wrap was blowing a little in the breeze, she spotted those bananas. She leaped and she spun and got all poofy. She snorted and huffed and backpedaled. While I'm hanging on. Bareback.

I was gently managing this behavior but really, when she started up at the bananas. That was just completely ridiculous. Completely unacceptable. So I had to put some leg on her and manhandle her beyond her distractions.

Which is when I noticed. With or without a saddle you can't "stick" to a horse. Oh of course you can use your balance and center of gravity to your advantage. And sometimes things can get so out of hand you're not gonna stick to your horse not matter what. But what I was really doing was controlling the way she moved keeping her from moving in such a way that she'd lose me.

Sometimes I get it right and we went on to have a most pleasant ride.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The year in review - 2011

This time of year I often recall the previous year. 2011 was a good year for a whole host of reasons.

L and I enjoyed some positively stellar rides.

20 August 2011

We still haven't sorted out our canter. Oh, of course she can run like the wind but we need to work on transitions and collection. That will just have to stay on this year's "to do" list. Our "thing" is trail riding but that's no excuse. She can do schooling exercises as well as just about anyone. And those are important. I learned an important lesson just yesterday. I'll have to blog about it.

I have roughly 3650 pictures from 2011. And those were the keepers. If you take that many pictures you're gonna have a good picture here and there.

A Masterpiece

Another Masterpiece. Well. The horse is!

Many of them are just moments from daily life

The view from my office window. 21 January 2011

Driving to work, 20 June 2011. Yes that's a horse farm. It's not Kentucky but we do have a lot of horse farms around here.

Driving to work, 14 July 2011. The corn is early.

Someday all the daily life pictures will be just fascinating to someone I'm sure. We take the things in our daily lives so much for granted. You realize of course, sometime very soon, many people won't even know what this is: phone?!

Sometimes I tried to go "poetic" and "artistic"

Remember this? Same place, 22 January 2011

I *love* tomatoes. 27 August 2011

And I just like to document my favorite things

Old favorites...

A little extravagant sometimes

Gazpacho. Summer in a bowl!

New favorites...

I discovered Spanish wine in 2011!

I really like Spanish wine

I discovered the wine (and cuisine) of Puglia.

You mean.. it's.. not all about.. Tuscany?

I made Spring Rolls! I never made Spring Rolls before. These were my very first Spring Rolls. It takes a little practice.

Shrimp Spring Rolls

And the leftover vegetables inspired me to make something I call "matchstick salad". Cut carrots, pickling cucumbers, celery, green and red bell pepper along with a jalapeƱo or a Serrano pepper into matchsticks, mix with some chopped lettuce and dress with an Asian dipping sauce. It's light, it's healthy and satisfying.

I have another new favorite. A friend of mine says this doesn't look very good. I dunno. I can't agree. I should really give credit to where I found this but I just don't recall. It's not an original recipe is a deceptively simple, declicious tartine.

A deceptively simple tartine

Marinate some red onions and carrot curls in extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of salt and rosemary.

Crumble some goat cheese on a slice of your favorite rustic bread. This is a whole wheat Tuscan pane from a local bakery. Lay some snow peas on top of the goat cheese. Then add the marinated onion and carrot. This is a delicious sandwich I have all the time during the Summer. I think Chianti goes great with it. But I think Chianti goes great with everything.

These guys made for a huge surprise in 2011.

Tomatillos. 18 September 2011

I've had all kinds of salsa verde and I never really liked any of it. But along around September I had a *ton* of garden fresh tomatillos.

Garden fresh tomatillos

I researched tomatillo recipes and found that basically...the *only* thing you make with tomatillos is...salsa verde.

So I was faced with kind of a problem. I would have really hated to waste them. I wasn't about to chuck 'em out. And I don't like salsa verde. And nobody I know even knows what they are so I couldn't give them away.

So I picked a salsa verde recipe at random. I roasted the tomatillos, chopped them by hand, and made some salsa verde.

Absolutely delicious salsa verde

Much to my surprise, I just *loved* my homemade salsa verde. So did everyone who tried it. I honestly don't know what made the difference. Garden fresh tomatillos? The way I roasted them? Hand chopping them? The simple recipe? I just don't know. But here's how you make delicious salsa verde:
  • Peel the papery outer layer off your tomatillos and rinse them thoroughly in warm water. They have a sticky coating on them under the paper. You need some warm water to get that off. Not all of it comes off though. It's harmless.
  • Coat them in olive oil and roast them in a 350 degree oven oven for 30 to 40 minutes
  • When the tomatillos have cooled put them in a bowl and give them a few strokes with a potato masher. Then, a handful at a time, chop the mashed tomatillos on a cutting board and transfer to another bowl. This is going to be messy. It's worth the trouble.
  • Add a pinch of salt, chopped red onion, minced garlic and your favorite chopped chili peppers. I was lucky. I just happened to have garden fresh Cayenne peppers all season long. They were a treat.

I don't know if I'd call this my picture of the year but there is something I really like about this picture. Funny, I don't know exactly what it is. I just like it a lot. Maybe it was the time of year. Or the time of day. L and I ride out here all the time. This is our road to the woods. Looking at this picture I can feel the breeze. I can hear the crickets. I can smell the hay. Everything is just right with the world here.

18 September 2011

Monday, February 13, 2012


I smoke a pipe now and then.  I think this is a "bulldog" shape.

Golden Parker 140

I always hated this pipe. So It was the pipe I took with me when I fished and climbed mountains back in the day. If I lost it then it wouldn't be any big deal.

I didn't lose it.

Now it's become a favorite. Memories. It's a good pipe. Parker is a Dunhill "second" and Dunhill is just about the best pipe there is. Now, 35 years later, it's a favorite. I remember a Summer day back in 1975, puffing this pipe sipping Jack Daniels with the director of White Mountain search and rescue, overlooking the ramparts of Carter Notch, watching the wildcats in the rocks. At the time it was fairly remote.

When you swim in the ponds in the notch the trout nibble your toes.

This pipe and I have been through a lot!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Look at this. Hard to believe.

4 February 2012 11:44 am

I have to be careful so as not to speak too soon. But here it is the 5th of February and I haven't had to wear long underwear yet. My fingers are crossed!

So there we are out enjoying the lovely day.

After the fall...

When all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, L gets all kinds of spooky and stupid. She stumbled and as she caught herself she slipped in the mud. Next thing you know there I am sitting in the mud and she's eating grass. No, not her fault really. I got caught a little off guard and there's no good reason for me to be in that position. Of course I know better than to be "caught a little off guard".

I realize"dismounted" can be an awful experience. In some (sad) cases it can even be a defining experience. Fortunately L's only 15.1 hh and the ground's not too far away. Mud, by the way, really is softer than clay. The scope of my experience is wider.

I gathered myself up and brushed off as much mud as I could. I gathered up L and climbed back on board and forgot about the whole thing just a few strides later. I decide we'll turn around and go back the way we came the same spot going in the other direction she stumbles again and slips in the mud!

And I'm thinking to myself "Aw no. Not twice in one day!" as my left leg starts losing its grip.

Fortunately I managed to stay with her and I don't have to live with that! So there. I felt I redeemed myself. A little bit anyway.

Note to self. Again. When it's clear you've lost your seat, and you and your mount are going to part company - let the reins go. At least I don't use a bit.

I still have to call it a good ride. Nothing broken and she didn't leave me out there to walk home. She's a good horse. So I went home and had a beer!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Get out the good stuff

I've been saving this...

I look forward to my friend T's fishing trips as much as he does.

I have salmon fillets and a brown trout fillet. He had a *huge* steelhead fillet I just didn't have room for in my freezer.
I always do a simple maple syrup or teriyaki glaze on my grilled salmon so I decided I'd try a mustard glaze for a change.

A treat money can't buy

Did you know wild salmon turns mostly white when you cook it? Farm raised salmon gets its coral pink color from dyes in the food pellets. It keeps most of its pink color when it's cooked. So I'm told anyway.

I mixed up a honey Dijon mustard sauce with a splash of soy sauce.

I painted the glaze on the salmon for its last minute in the oven. I drizzled a couple of tablespoons over the salmon on the plate. Some fresh dill would have been excellent with the honey mustard but I just happened to have some fresh cilantro I wanted to use.

I think honey glazed carrots with parsley is *perfect* for salmon but I didn't want to overdo the honey so I had peppermint peas with it. Good choice. In the wintertime I always have a red wine with salmon. Sometimes in the summertime I'll have a white wine with it.

I have two recipes I want to try. One is a parchment baked treatment. I've never done a parchment baked fish. And the other is a simple baked treatment. I've wanted to try the simple baked recipe for I don't know how long.
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