Monday, August 3, 2020

MONDAY RECIPE POST - CAULIFLOWER ‘RICE’ AND BLACK BEANS




Cauliflower ‘Rice’ and Black Beans
(Gluten Free)

Ingredients

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 lb cauliflower rice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can (15.5 oz) Wegmans Caribbean Black Beans, undrained (no Caribbean available so I just had the plain)
2 green onions, chopped, for garnish
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Directions

Heat coconut oil in sauté pan on medium-high. 

Add cauliflower; season with salt and pepper. 

Cook, stirring, about 5 min, until tender, being careful not to brown.

Stir in beans; heat through.

Garnish with green onions and cilantro.


The photo above shows our finished meal of chicken, a pineapple and mango salad we made the day before to go with another meal (which I will share some other time), the 'rice' and beans, and Gregg’s veggie stir-fry made mainly with carrots and bok choy, also leftovers from the day before.  

It all looked a bit of a mish-mash but it was very tasty, and he says he would keep it as is, and not exchange the cauliflower for regular rice as he had originally wanted to do.  At first he had asked if we had any rice instead and I would have been more than happy to exchange it as I also enjoy rice. However, I really wanted to try the cauliflower’s version first. This is only the second time we have cooked with this kind of ‘rice’.  So if you don’t like cauliflower, you actually might like it done this way, just saying. 

I was browsing through the recipe site of our favorite go-to supermarket and that's where I got the idea for our meal.  I have just started looking at their meal plans where I sometimes get ideas for dinner if we fancy something different.  The main course was a Jamaican Jerk Chicken, and the two sides suggested were this one and the pineapple and mango salad. The Jamaican Jerk Chicken is already pre-marinated and when cooked has a delicious flavor.  

I already had coconut oil in the pantry, with a couple of other ingredients.  

Also it would be easy to make your own cauliflower rice by chopping with your favorite knife, or using a food processor, (or a blender which is what is in our kitchen). Today I opted for the supermarket's convenience of already made.

There were leftovers which we enjoyed the next day. 

Thanks for visiting and enjoy your week.





Friday, July 31, 2020

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

ALLIGATORS AT THE EVERGLADES IN 2008

Twenty-two years ago and it is hard to believe it has been that long, I saw the Everglades for the first time. It was an amazing experience.  I have been back once, but that has been several years ago also.  

I remember when we first arrived and started walking around, we heard a very strange sound. It was almost like a loud chirping.  At first I thought it may have been a thousand frogs, or like the cacophony you hear from crickets on a very hot night. Then we thought perhaps that strange sound came from birds.  
Finally we were told that they were the mating calls of the alligator. There were dozens and dozens of them, and it was incredible to see them in their natural habitat.

We saw them in the water, lying in the grass below us as we walked on the trails, even on the side of the trails, and the whole time, those loud chirping  calls echoed everywhere...

which to a person who has never heard an alligator before was mesmerizing.


The coastal plains of the southeastern United States are home to most alligators, who live in both natural and man-made fresh water lakes, ponds and wetland areas.

A bit ungainly out of water but they are great swimmers.   That's not to say they can't move fast so don't be deceived.  I read on one of the information boards nearby that they can shoot out of the water like a porpoise.
The males are between 10-15 feet (3 to 4.6 meters) in length and can weigh 1,000 pounds (453 kg). Females grow to a maximum of 9.8 feet (3 meters).


Facts about alligators:

There are over 200,000 alligators in the Everglades, but over 1.5 million in the state of Florida.

As solitary reptiles, you will rarely see alligators in groups, except during the spring mating seasons.  They lay 30 to 40 eggs which incubate for approximately 60-65 days, and produce hatchlings 8-10 inches long.

The jaws of a gator have over 1,000 pounds of closing pressure!

Each alligator has approximately 80 teeth at any time.  When they wear down or are lost in battle, they are replaced with new teeth.  An alligator can go through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.

Gators live approximately 30 to 35 years in the wild, and can live past 50 years in captivity.  

The main diet of a gator consists primarily of fish, but they will also feed on turtles, mammals, snakes and birds.

Often you will see only the alligator's head in the water, not its body.  This allows them to more easily strike their prey, such as fish, without being detected.

Alligators regulate their temperature by moving out of the sun and into the shade, where they rest with their mouths open to release stored heat.  They also cool off by going into the water.

Because of legal protection, alligators are no longer endangered.  They are, however, still classified as threatened to insure their continued protection and that of the endangered American crocodile.

The above information, and more,  came from this site, and though we did not go on an airboat ride, it is on our list for whenever we go back.

They are fascinating to watch and fit into my category of absolutely magnificent, but like any wild animal we must never take them for granted. Don't get too close if you can help it.  I know, I am preaching to the choir but I saw first-hand people within a few feet standing way too close, even with their children, for those photo ops.  

I have heard and looked at photos of unexpected alligators in people's gardens, on the golf course, just about anywhere where there is water.  If you live in alligator country I would be very interested to hear your story of any encounters you have had.

Stay safe, stay healthy and thanks for looking.










Tuesday, July 28, 2020

ACROSS THE FIELDS...


Across the fields as green as spinach,
Cropped as close as Time to Greenwich,
Stands a high house; if at all,
Spring comes like a Paisley shawl.
Patternings meticulous
And youthfully ridiculous.
In each room the yellow sun
Shakes like a canary, run
On run, roulade, and watery trill.
Yellow, meaningless, and shrill.
Face as white as any clock's,
Cased in parsley-dark curled locks.
All day long you sit and sew,
Stitch life down for fear it grow,
Stitch life down for fear we guess.
At the hidden ugliness.
Dusty voice that throbs with heat,
Hoping with your steel-thin beat
To put stitches in my mind,
Make it tidy, make it kind,
You shall not: I'll keep it free
Though you turn earth, sky and sea
To a patchwork quilt to keep
Your mind snug and warm in sleep!

~Dame Edith Sitwell~
1887-1964



Monday, July 27, 2020

MONDAY RECIPE POST - PECAN-OATMEAL PANCAKES



Pecan-Oatmeal Pancakes

Makes 14 to 16 pancakes

This week's recipe comes from Taste of Home here.


1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.

Combine milk, eggs and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until blended.

Fold in pecans.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour onto a greased cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat; turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes.  Cook until second side is golden brown.

Our cast-iron skillet is too heavy for me to handle easily these days, and I don't have a griddle any more. I used a regular frying pan.  

There was no whole milk in the fridge.  I used 2%  instead.

I had blackberries in the fridge but any other favorite fruit would be nice to make it look pretty. Raspberries or strawberries would give a more colorful presentation.  Blueberries is another favorite of mine.  Or bananas and blackberries, which you can see here.  A mixture of all would be delicious.  
I topped/drowned my pancake with Maple Syrup, an old standby and one I have always enjoyed (I need to wake up first before I try pouring out of any bottle. This wasn’t such a catastrophe but I have had others, and all learning experiences). For a change of pace I would like to try Raspberry Syrup and will put that on my grocery list for next time, unless I make my own.

The website said 3 pancakes (1/4 cup of batter for each one) works out to about 402 calories.  One was more than enough for me.  It depends how hungry you are.  There is more nutritional information at that website above.
You can halve the amount of ingredients if you want to make a smaller batch.  However, as I like to use my freezer for quick and easy meals, there were a lot of leftovers to do that.  I used up the rest of the pancake batter, put them on one of my cutting boards in a single layer, popped them in the fridge and flash-froze them.  Once frozen I wrapped them up individually in aluminum foil and stacked them in the freezer. I suppose you could also freeze small portions of the batter and cook the pancakes later if you prefer. 

I used old-fashioned oatmeal.  I read a while ago that you can give these oats a whirl in your blender. Don’t pulverize them, just a couple of bursts and you can use them instead of the quick cooking oats called for in a recipe. 

I hope you like the sound of this.  I really enjoyed my pancake.  It is not for everyone I know.  Hubs prefers the crepe versions I make, which I also enjoy. Actually, they are a cross between a crepe and an American pancake, and like the English pancakes I learned to make from my Mum when she made them once a year on Shrove Tuesday.  


Stay safe and enjoy your day.






Saturday, July 25, 2020

AN OLD VISIT TO THE NORFOLK BOTANICAL GARDEN IN VIRGINIA


My photos this week are from a trip I took to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia some time ago.  It is a lovely garden and one I can highly recommend if you ever find yourself in that area. 
We started at the Japanese Garden which was a gift to commemorate the historic trip of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Paul Snyder, the first official delegate to the Sister City association with Moji, Japan.








Further along we came across these lovely lion statues....


and another pond adorned with a carpet of water lilies.


This flower below is called Melampodium.

A nice garden of flowers but I didn't make a note of what they were.

In the next photo you will see my main purpose for going to the garden.  
I had heard about this plant and the explanation next to it read: "Once in a Lifetime: You are witnessing the only flowering of this specimen of the Century Plant (Agave Americana). The Mexican native may wait between 10 to 30 years to flower, depending on climatic conditions. This plant is 15 to 25 years old. After flowering the main plant will die, but small offshoots will continue to grow around the mother plant."  


As these photos are several years old, I am not sure if those offshoots are thriving. I do hope so!

Hopefully we will be able to visit the garden again one day, but as it is some distance away, and with everything else going on, I am not sure when that will be.






Friday, July 24, 2020

FENCES AROUND THE WORLD

This quaint cottage and its pretty picket fence is my choice for today's Fences Around the World. I was on vacation in 2015 and walking up a lane in a neighboring village near my old home.  

Thank you for hosting Gosia :)

If you would like to see other Fences Around the World, or join in with your own, you will find the link here.

Thank you for stopping by.  
Have a great weekend!






Thursday, July 23, 2020

BIRDS SEEN IN HAWAII, DECEMBER 2008

More good memories of our trip to Honolulu in December 2008.

This little bird is the Warbling White-eye (Zosterops japonicus). It was introduced to Oahu in 1929 from Japan. It's a common small bird in the city as well as the forest.
It nests from February to November. The nest is a small cup of woven fibers and grass. The eggs incubate for 11 days and then fledge after 9 or 10 days.

The Warbling White-eye at a distance looks very similar to the native Amaki'i. It's easily distinguished however, by the white circle around the eye. The Amaki'i has a black circle.


Common Waxbill(Estrilda astrild)
The Common Waxbill is only found on Oahu. It was introduced from Africa sometime in the late 1970's. This bird is very shy. It travels in large groups of individuals that are most easily recognized by their call as they fly away. The easiest place to see them is in large open grass fields where they are found eating weed seeds.


 The Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata) Also known as the Brazilian Cardinal, it was introduced around 1930 from South America. It feeds on seeds, plant matter, insects and fruit.
Look for this bird traveling in family groups. If you see a bird with a brown crest and black bill, it's a juvenile. Observe the unique interaction of the juvenile with the parents. Often, the juveniles will wait for the adult to pick up the food and give it to them, even though they are the same size.







Wednesday, July 22, 2020

GIRAFFES AT THE HONOLULU ZOO IN HAWAII - DECEMBER 2009

Has anyone heard of Giraffe Manor in South Africa?  Has anyone actually been there?  It would be a fabulous experience to stay and see these beautiful animals as close as their guests do.  What a phenomenal experience that would be.  You can see what I am talking about at this link 
The Giraffe is one of the most interesting animals.  I am sharing favorite photos taken of the ones we found at The Honolulu Zoo on our trip to Hawaii in December of 2009.

Interesting facts about the Giraffe:

A male can grow as high as 18 feet (5.5 meters), females up to 14 feet (4.3 meters).

Males can weigh up to 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms), females up to 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms). 

Their lifespan is between 15 to 20 years. 

Those bumps on its head are called ossicones, and both the male and the female have them.

Size at birth is 6 feet tall (1.8 meters), 100 to 150 pounds (45 to 68 kilograms). Gestation period is 14 months.  Age of maturity is 3 to 5 years.

A giraffe's foot is the size of a dinner plate - 12 inches across (30.5 centimeters).

They have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as we do, seven. Each one is just much bigger than ours and can be over 10 inches long (25.4 centimeters).

A giraffe's tongue is 18 to 20 inches long (46 to 50 centimeters), and is blue-black. Some people think the color is to keep it from getting sunburned.

Giraffes can moo, hiss, roar and whistle.

The record running speed of a giraffe is 34.7 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour).

Its range is in pockets of Africa, south of the Sahara Desert and its habitat is the savanna.
They have a spotted coat similar to a leopard, and for a long time people called the giraffe a
'camel-leopard', because they believed it was a combination of a camel and a leopard. That's where the giraffe's species name came from, "camelopardalis".

I found all these interesting facts, and more, here.
Also here.