Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Horses are special

Of course horses are special! Everyone knows that! But not everyone thinks of why they're special.

I've had animals of some kind or other my entire life.   Dogs.  Cats.  Birds.  Mice.  Hamsters.  Bunnies.  Fish.  I can't ever recall not having animals around for more than just a few weeks at a time.  We bond with them and they have special places in our lives.  They're family in every sense.

But horses are still special.  They're big.  They're a lot of work.  They require a big commitment to their care and training.  My horses have brought a grace and dignity to my life that I wouldn't have otherwise.  Horseback riding is much like dancing.  It's one of the few athletic activities that requires moving with another living being.  Boxing also comes to mind.  But no, even on the ground, it's more like dancing.

Much of our training is convincing our equine partner that there's nothing for them to be afraid of, nothing is going to hurt them, and you build your relationship on trust.  You can't make a horse do anything.  And whatever they do they have to do under their own power.  So you learn to persuade.  And build a partnership working together.

So.  I lost another friend this past season.  It's very hard to explain my affection for G.  I didn't blog much about G.  Truth is.  G was dangerous.

Seriously. She'd break your arm if you weren't paying attention

There's nothing rational about one's affection so I never thought about it much.  I'd had G since she was born.  She was the cutest baby!  Her sire was a 16+ hand champion Overo Paint.  Her dam was a classic Quarter Horse type Tobiano.  Fifteen hands, very stoutly built.  G was to be my forever horse.

Things don't always work out.  For whatever reason...oh, her delivery was very difficult and she was very sick when she was 4 or 5 months old...G turned very aggressive when she turned 2.  You learned right quick to recognize that hard look in her eye and let her have it.  Less she kick you in to the middle of next week.  Things got very hard when she was 8 or so because she stopped giving that hard eye warning.  You'd just hear her suck in some air when she was gonna let you have it and you had better be fast on you feet.  You learned to pay attention...*always*.

And she never grew in to what we'd thought she'd be.  Barely 13 hands and 800 pounds she was too small for me to put under saddle.  We started training her drive but she persistently came up lame after brief work sessions.  Turns out she had a bone defect in her right foot that caused her to be lame under the slightest amount of stress.

She ended up just being a big expensive pet.  It's sad really.  She was a real cute horse and if she'd had a kind heart and willing temperament she'd have been a great project for a 4H kid.

Very cute horse. 31 July 2004

I don't think one ever gets over this stuff. I've been through it before, I'll go through it again. Very hard decisions are sometimes thrust upon us and we never think of that when you get yourself into it.  Thankfully she never did hurt anyone.  And she left this life as easily as one can.  And with a mouth full of clover.  For that I'm grateful.

RIP little G. 11 March 1996 - 7 October 2016.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Spring milestone

The first of the season's daisies!

27 May

That's my back yard. In another week or so there will be thousands of daisies out there. I'll be sure to update!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

My basil!

I *love* basil. I have a window box in my living room window full of basil. Between Margherita pizza and Bruschetta and Caprese salad and pesto not to mention sandwiches...I just *love* basil. I grow basil in pots all year long but it's especially prolific in the summertime. So...I have this window box in my living room window and my basil just isn't doing well. I don't know why. It's all laying down flat, wilted and dying. I mean really, basil is easy...it's like a weed. Grows like crazy.

There's no evidence of the (stupid) cat messing with it and ...well...I got it. I glance over the other day and...

The little bastard

That's why my basil hasn't been doing well! So I booby trapped it! I stuck a bunch of bamboo skewers in the window box and hardly a day later? My basil looks a *lot* better!

Basil marinara:

I got this recipe off the web a few years ago.  It's supposedly a genuine Tuscan recipe.

Sauté a yellow onion in olive oil.  Add a 28 oz. can of ground peeled tomatoes.  Simmer that for 15 minutes.  Resist all temptation to add garlic or anchovies.  Take it off the heat and mix in like a cup of whole basil leaves. And a splash of extra virgin olive oil.  Serve that with some pasta.  I like thin spaghetti.  The idea is to have a nice whole wilted basil leaf in every bit of pasta.

*Insanely* good.  Light and bright and refreshing.  Of course Chianti or Toscana is the *perfect* pairing.

Edited to add:  I also include a pinch of red pepper flakes in my marinara.

Edited to add:  Found a picture!  Now how good does this look!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The best of 2016?

Really? No way! This...is tempeh. It's a dried, pressed tofu product from Indonesia.

Here's what it looks like when you open the package:

When finely chopped up it has a texture a lot like ground beef. And like any tofu product it's..almost completely flavorless. You can Google tempeh recipes. There are a lot of them out there. Many are Middle Eastern and of course Indonesian. Think peanut sauce. I often run it over the coarse face of a box grater and make a vegetarian chili with it. Or mix it up with taco seasoning for a taco. Or even use it for American Chop Suey (which I'm told is a uniquely New England dish).

But I think I came up with this one myself. Inspired by a taco one night. I cut the tempeh on its face at an angle to form planks. I mix them with barbecue sauce. I make a really nice barbecue sauce. Basically it's a dry rub with some ketchup, cider vinegar, molasses, some mustard and whatever hot sauce I'm in the mood for. I let that sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Put the barbecue sauce marinated tempeh in a baking dish and heat it for 10 minutes in a 350° (F) oven. Serve it on a whole wheat hamburger bun, on some lettuce with a little more barbecue sauce. And some thinly sliced onions.

And I swear. It was the very *best* thing I ate in 2016. Much to my surprise.

Here. Take a closer look. Try one sometime!

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