Friday, April 20, 2012


Spring is early! We don't usually see leaves like this for another 3 weeks.

20 April 2012

The swallows were back in the barn last Sunday, the 15th. I don't know if they were 5 days early this year or 5 days late last year. I'll keep better track of their arrival. And I heard a White Throated Sparrow last Monday, the 16th. I was going to comment "who doesn't love this time of year" but then I realized allergy sufferers must just hate this. I'm so happy I don't suffer from allergies. I find this a lovely time of year.

Lilacs. 20 April 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stop and Stare Mare

Is he just going to stand there?

Come and get me

I'd really love to know what she's thinking. L's take on things is, I'm sure, most interesting. Yes yes I know she's fat.

L isn't a very spooky horse. When she becomes...concerned...she will most likely stop. And stare. And stare. And stare. My trainer describes it as "processing" and sometimes it can go on for minutes. My trainer also says I shouldn't let her do that. But I've learned over years it's something she really does need to do. It's a bit of an art knowing when she's had enough.

I can usually tell when she's had enough. And I know exactly what will set her off.



A neat stack of logs in the woods..

That is just so WRONG!

One day some kids were playing nearby and they left some small stones in a neat pile by the side of the driveway. Yes you guessed it. She had to stop and stare at those stones. I would so love to know what (on earth..) she's thinking.

And I know that bucket by the door. The blue one. If it was red yesterday I'm ready for her...

Edited to add: And I swear she knows what "It's just turkeys!" means (said in my "stop being ridiculous" tone of voice).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spicing things up

I'm very lucky. No less than 8 specialty grocers come immediately to mind within less than an hour's drive from here. There are some ethnic specialty grocers nearby as well. Food is very culturally distinctive. I like culturally distinctive things.

I've been very happy trying all kinds of new things and after trying my hand at a curry dish last year I decided I needed to play with Indian food. I've had just a passing acquaintance with Indian food.

So I went off to a nearby Patel Brothers market and stocked up on some spices.

Indian Spices

Curries are now regularly on my menu. There are thousands of curry recipes on the web. And I've found if I ask 10 different people how to prepare a curry dish I get 10 different recipes.

I don't think curries are so much about recipes.

The spices: I generally mix a teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander and paprika. I add a half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper (um...usually more..), turmeric, amchur and something else, depending on the main ingredient. If the main ingredient is say, chickpeas, it's chole masala. If it's chicken it's tandori chicken masala. If it's shrimp it's fish masala. You get the idea. If I don't know what to use it's either chili powder or just curry powder.

Technique: I sauté finely chopped onions and chili peppers in olive oil for several minutes, add some garlic, scatter the spices over the onion, give the skillet a shake, add chopped tomatoes. I add some water if it looks like it needs it. When the tomatoes cook down I add the "main ingredient" and let it all simmer for 20 or 30 minutes.

Observations: I've found using finely chopped onions is hugely important. I see ginger in many recipes and frankly, I'm not impressed with the ginger. Mostly I can't tell it's there even when I use a lot. I almost always add 1/2 teaspoon garam masala to everything. Sometimes it's in the spice mix and sometimes, depending on my mood, it's at the end of cooking. I like to squeeze in some lemon juice at the end of cooking. And I like to add some honey too. Especially if I've made it really hot.

The main ingredient. Well. The "main ingredient" can be almost anything you want!


Shrimp. With some coconut milk and peas.

Red kidney beans. Called rajma.

I've used broccoli as well and next week I'm going to try okra (bhindi). I've never ever had okra.

As a matter of fact I even went way out there with my newly found confidence and made Chicken Tikka Masala.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Serving: You serve your curry on a bed of steamed rice or couscous. With some cilantro. You can see I love cilantro!

Pairing: Beer!

Curried cauliflower. See the IPA in the background to the right? It's perfect.

I don't know that my Indian dishes are "authentic". I know the ingredients are! But like all of my cooking I've messed with it some and found things I like. That's really what it's about. And I regularly enjoy things I never would have fixed just a year ago.

Even when it's not quite right you just need to get close enough to know there's a stellar dish hiding in there somewhere.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tuning up

Of course Spring is shedding and tune up season. This started in a big way last Wednesday. The shedding thing.

Familiar sight. 31 March 2012

She's been shedding little handfuls here and there but last Wednesday every brush stroke started taking off a handful.

A couple of weeks ago it felt like May. Dry, sunny, breezy, in the 80s day after day. How nice was that! My heat was off, my windows were open, we were doing ground work in the ring after work and dinner salads were back on my menu.

Even did a few turns in the ring under saddle last weekend. Long time since we did ring work under saddle!

And we had one heck of a nice ride last Sunday before the more seasonable weather moved back in.
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