Wednesday, March 31, 2021

THE LEWIS GINTER BOTANICAL GARDEN, A VISIT IN JULY 2009

This post took place years ago, when Gregg and I went on a mini-road trip to The Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond (Virginia). If you went the straightforward route it would take you about two hours to get there but this was summer, and the freeways were very congested with holidaymakers heading down to the beaches. Even when it's not summer we enjoy traveling the smaller, country roads which take us through rural farmland. It is a beautiful ride but takes us longer to get to our destination, and with a stop for breakfast at Amy’s Cafe we reached the gardens in about three hours.

It was our first time here and we were not disappointed. We both agreed that it is the best botanical garden we have visited in a long time, and if ever you are in the area we can highly recommend it. At any time of the year I am sure it will be pretty amazing and we have put it on our list for seasonal visits.  I have it in mind to go back and see their light show around the holidays. We said that we might stay overnight at one of the local hotels next time as we would have liked to have gone back the next day.

I have identified flowers where I can. I tried very hard to remember to look for markers. This is a Purple Passion Flower.

This is a type of Moss Rose.



This is a Stokes' Aster 
Stokesia laevis 'Omega Skyrocket' - Asteraceae.

Spathiphyllum cv - Araceae.

Hopefully it won't be too long before we can get back to 



Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A FRIENDLY LOOK...

"A friendly look, a kindly smile, one good act and life is worthwhile."

~Author Unknown~

Monday, March 29, 2021

MONDAY RECIPE POST - BAKED FLOUNDER WITH PANKO AND PARMESAN

 

We have not had any flounder in a while and we thought it would make a nice change.  I found a simple but tasty recipe at All Recipes here.


Baked Flounder with Panko and Parmesan – serves 4

From preparation to table it took under half an hour.  Each serving works out to approximately 331 calories.


4 (4 ounces flounder fillets)

¼ cup butter, melted

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

½ teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper to taste

1 pinch dried thyme


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Lightly grease a large, shallow baking dish.

Arrange flounder fillets on prepared baking dish and brush with 1 tablespoon butter.

Combine remaining 3 tablespoons butter with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and thyme in a bowl; sprinkle over flounder.

Bake in preheated oven until fish flakes easily with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.

Carefully transfer fillets to a plate with a spatula.


The Panko-Parmesan coating was a very nice addition.  We thought it would also go well with a pork cutlet sometime.  

As there is just the two of us we had one fillet that we shared.  The recipe for the coating I made enough for another meal.  I put the second portion in the freezer as I intend making macaroni and cheese next week, and will use it to sprinkle over the top.

I'm sure you can replace the butter or use less if you want to.  We didn’t use as much. 

We had been for a walk that afternoon, were both a little tired and didn't want to fuss much with dinner.  A few boiled potatoes and Brussels sprouts were the only sides we had, plain and simple.  We put those on the stove top while the fish was cooking.  The potatoes were nice too and we had leftovers that we sautéed to go with breakfast the next day.

Gregg mixed a cocktail sauce, which is horseradish and ketchup mixed together.  He used that as a condiment, and I put a little Thai Chili Sauce on the side of mine. 

We both said how much we enjoy flounder but would like to try cod next time.

Thanks for looking and enjoy your week.



Friday, March 26, 2021

REVISITING MY ASTROLOGICAL CHICKENS

Continuing a bird theme from yesterday, I wanted to share the chickens I photographed several years ago at the

Ho'omaluhi Botanical Gardens on Oahu, Hawaii 


Astrological Chickens
 Zodiacal Influence on Chicken Crossing Behavior

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18): Chickens born under the sign of Aquarius are strong independent spirits longing to break free from traditional conventions and restrictions and the status quo. They are innovative and idealistic always replacing old outdated thinking with fresh perspectives. They are strongly driven to oppose social injustice and oppression. They are always experimenting to discover their own identity. They will cross because it is forbidden to do so and by doing so it will be easier for others to do so in the future.


PISCES (February 19 to March 20): Pisces chickens are dreamy and sensitive. They are blessed with deep intuition and a wealth of emotion. Pisces are romantic, creative and full of love with a potential for great happiness and lasting joy. Their imagination is so strong that it frequently merges with fantasy. They usually cross because they had a vision telling them that this is the means to the happiness they are striving to achieve.


ARIES (March 21 to April 19): Chickens born under the sign of Aries are natural leaders possessing a pioneering determined spirit, who wish to make their mark on the world. They cross the road to assert themselves and seek action, daring and adventure.


TAURUS (April 20 to May 20): Taurus chickens are strong willed and have a down to earth attitude toward life. They are overly interested in material things and have a real need for security. They feel unsettled unless comfortable. They will cross only if there is more security on the other side or to obtain material possessions.


GEMINI (May 21 to June 20): They are highly restless and are always seeking a wide variety of contrasting experiences. They cross because they are curious and to avoid the boredom of their mundane existence.


CANCER (June 21 to July 22): While having a tough shell-like exterior, Cancer chickens are very sensitive and vulnerable. They have very delicate emotions, and are always attuned to their environment and the feelings of those around them. They have a constant and urgent need to feel safe and always act defensively. They will only cross the road when there is danger to themselves or others on this side.


LEO (July 20 to August 22): Leo chickens are majestic and proud with personalities that need to shine, and greet opportunities with fervor and vitality. They always need to be in charge. They will cross the road with great enthusiasm for the opportunity to escape a normal, humdrum existence.


VIRGO (August 23 to September 22): Virgos are practical and adaptable. They have a strong desire to succeed, are very discriminating and tend to be critical of others. They strive for perfection. They are very poultriatarian and will usually cross for the good of other chickens and because it is the proper or correct thing to do


LIBRA (September 23 to October 22): Libra chickens are thoughtful and sensitive, and are always seeking balance and harmony. They need the respect and love of other chickens more than any other group. They think carefully before making any decision. Libra chickens are prone to stop in the middle of the road to try to decide which way to go, making the crossing a considerable risk to themselves and others.


SCORPIO (October 23 to November 21): Scorpios have a depth and intensity of their emotions that gives them a strong inner power. They are creatures of passion whose focused desires assist them in achieving their aims. They can be ruthlessly self-critical in their quest for truth. They are uncompromising, and stick to any commitment they have made. They cross because they promised to do so.


SAGITTARIUS (November 23 to December 21): These chickens are restless and visionary. They love to explore new horizons and see life as a journey full of adventure. They greet every new experience with a warm heart, a ready smile and an open mind. They cross the road because of a passion to see more of the world and a spirit which longs to be free.


CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19): Capricorns are very ambitious and are always striving to reach the top of the coop. They are tenacious in planning every step to achieve their goals, and leave themselves little time to relax before looking for new peaks to climb. They cross because they must to achieve the success they feel should be theirs.



I hope these brought you a smile.  



Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.








Thursday, March 25, 2021

SOMETHING TO MAKE YOU SMILE, THE THREE GRACES

Introducing Grace, Grace and Grace.

A favorite from my archives.  I remember them well, and they gave me great joy taking their photo.  They still bring me joy with the memory of them, thanks to this photo.  I was sitting on a bench in a park on holiday, and the person next to me was feeding the ducks.  They were waiting in line very patiently.

Wishing you all Faith, Hope and Charity.  





Wednesday, March 24, 2021

ON MONDAY WE TOOK THE NEXT STEP...

and received our second Coronavirus vaccination.  We went to the same place as the first.  A lady coming out of the building asked us if we were going to get our 2nd vaccination and when we replied yes, she rather excitedly told us that we should not worry about any long delays, she said there is a thousand people in there and I was seen very quickly she said.  We thanked her for her kindness in letting us know, and we could also tell she was very happy and relieved to be going home.  We were happy for her.  

This wonderful lady looked after us.  I was surprised as neither of us felt the needle, not even a pin-prick of discomfort.  

She was warm, friendly and very communicative, listening to our questions and giving us all the information we needed.  She peppered her conversation with the most genuine and wonderful humor, which would go a long way to settling any nerves of the people she saw.  We made sure to thank her and tell her how very grateful we were to her, and many more like her who made this gigantean process go this smoothly.

I was happy to get this process behind us, and have great hopes for returning to somewhat of a normal life very soon.  I know we are all going to have to use our common sense.  It is going to be some time but perhaps we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

This lovely lady was joking how popular she had been, that she had been all over Facebook because you know, we asked her if she would mind us taking her photo as we like to record all important events and we considered this a very important event.  "Is this my good side?" she said, and laughed.  We told her both sides were her good side.  I asked her if I could use her photo on my next blog post.  She happily gave me her permission to do so.   

Just like last time we were in and out of the building within a short space of time.  This was the fastest, from the time we showed our ID, including the ten minutes we had to wait to make sure we had no adverse reaction.  We were in and out in 20 minutes.  

It has been two days now and neither of us have had any ill effects.  I am aware of my arm near the injection site, but there is no pain.  I slept all day yesterday and remember having very long naps with the first dose. "Good grief, this has been a very short day" I said to hubs, and we both laughed.  I had heard that being tired was one of those side effects, but no headaches or chills or fever.  Maybe I should touch wood.  Also a very dear friend gave us some good advice, from her own experience.  Stay hydrated and keep the Tylenol handy.  Thank you dear friend!  I think you know who you are.  We are both smiling in your direction.

We had Pfizer.  If you have had any experience with your vaccinations, maybe you can let us know in the comment section?  Just like each one of us is different, our experiences may be too.


A lot going on in our world.  I am watching the news now.  I am greatly saddened by such loss.  My heart is full for those who are left behind.  

Thanks for stopping by and please take good care of yourselves out there, be safe, be happy and be healthy.






Monday, March 22, 2021

MONDAY RECIPE POST - BRAISED BEEF SHORT RIBS IN RED WINE SAUCE

There were some beef short ribs in the freezer.  I don't remember ever cooking them but had always heard how good they were.  I did my usual search online and found a wonderful recipe at this site called Recipetineats hosted by Nagi.  I enjoyed her food blog very much.  I don't put all her tips in my post, so I always recommend you take a look at the original version, not only for those tips but to see other recipes and photos.  She gives other ways to cook this meal, in a slow cooker for instance, and there is a great how-to video.  I will be going back often as I will enjoy adding other meals to our list.  Thank you Nagi!   We made this for the first time on March 21st, 2021 and gave it a ten-out-of-ten.


Braised Beef Short Ribs in Red Wine Sauce

Serves 5

Calories: 524 per serving


A lot of cooking time so I started early, first preparing all the ingredients in the morning which is a big time and energy saver.  (I am at my most productive in the a.m.)  The beef was put into the oven at 2.30 p.m. and meal was on the table at six.  I most always have hubs in the kitchen, and was happy to get everything ready before we started cooking the meal.  Normally he will do most of the meal prep while I read the recipe and pitch in with things like chopping the garlic and herbs at the kitchen table.  I have mentioned this before but since retirement he has become an excellent chef and enjoys being more of an adventurous cook than I.  Consequently we have a lot of fun in the kitchen.


5-6 beef short ribs 

1-1/2 teaspoons each salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 large onion, chopped (brown, yellow or white)

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups very dry red wine

2 cups beef stock or broth, low sodium

2 sprigs thyme 

2 bay leaves

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof pot over high heat.

Add half the ribs and brown thoroughly all over (5 - 7 min in total). They should have a nice carmelized crust on the surface.  Do this in one layer and cook in batches if you have to.  When each batch is done remove and put on a plate until you need them again  

Turn heat down to medium.

Add onion and garlic into the same pot and cook for 2 minutes.

Add carrot and celery, cook for 5 minutes until carrot is softened.

Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

Add wine, broth, thyme and bay leaves.

Stir until tomato paste is dissolved.

Put beef back into the liquid.  They should be submerged but if not add a little water.  If there are pieces above the liquid, these will steam when cooking, so not to worry too much about this step.  Just so that most of the meat is submerged.

Cover with lid and transfer to oven for 3 hours, or until the meat can easily be pried apart with forks. 

Remove carefully from the oven and keep covered to stay warm until serving.   

In the recipe Nagi says to remove the beef and strain all liquid in the pot, pressing juices out of the onion, carrots, etc, but adds that this is optional.  We decided to skip this step and keep the vegetables.  

You may want to thin or thicken the liquid if necessary - simmer to reduce/thicken, add water to thin, also adjusting seasonings to your own taste. 

Place beef on serving plate, spoon sauce over.  

Serve and enjoy!

We both said we wouldn't change a thing with this meal.  It was delicious.  

Our beef short ribs didn't have any bones.  It is hard to tell if the flavor was affected because we thought this had an amazing taste without.

There was a lot of broth left.  I will freeze in 1 cup portions and use for any beef-based soups we make.

We served it with macaroni and cheese and a mixed green salad.  I like to add blueberries to my salad, along with a few walnut halves and dried chopped dates.  It was a Boston lettuce and we sliced mini sweet peppers and sliced mushrooms.  It all went together very nicely.  I don't add any dressing to my salads normally.  I think it comes from not having any salads in childhood.  We always had lots of other vegetables from my Dad's garden, but the only lettuce brought home was fed to our pet rabbits and my Dad, God Bless him, only considered salad as 'rabbit food'.  Little did I know how much I would enjoy salads later on in life.  Hubs enjoyed one of his favorites, blue cheese dressing.

Have a great week everyone.




Friday, March 19, 2021

RANDOM PHOTO - A PINE CONE

 

 
"No one can look at a pine tree in winter, without knowing that spring will come again in due time."

~Frank Bolles~
1856-1894

Frank Bolles was a writer and university secretary, born in Winchester, Massachusetts.  He developed a love and an appreciation of nature that never left him.  


Thanks for looking and have a great weekend.







Thursday, March 18, 2021

TO A WATERFOWL - ANOTHER POEM BY...

William Cullen Bryant 

1794-1878 


"To a Waterfowl"

Whither, 'midst falling dew,

While glow the heavens with the last

steps of day,

Far, through their rosy depths, dost

thou pursue

Thy solitary way.

Vainly the fowler's eye

Might mark the distant flight to do 

thee wrong,

As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,

Thy figure floats along.

Seeks thou the splashy brink

Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,

Or where the rocking billows rise

and sink

On the chafed oceanside?

There is a power whose care

Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,

The desert and illimitable air,

Lone wandering, but not lost.

All day thy wings have fanned,

At that far height, the cold thin

atmosphere,

Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome 

land,

Though the dark night is near.

And soon that toil shall end;

Soon shalt thou find a summer home,

and rest,

And scream amongst thy fellows; reeds shall bend

Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.

Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven

Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my 

heart,

Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,

And shall not soon depart.

He who, from zone to zone, 

Guides through the boundless sky thy

certain flight,

In the long way that I must tread alone,

Will lead my steps aright.


And that's the end of my post.  I wish you all a great day, and thank you so much for stopping by.



Wednesday, March 17, 2021

DUCKS AND GEESE

 An old post revisited.   This is a Egyptian Goose.  You can click on any of their names to learn more.  


Here we have a Blue Swedish Duck.  

They have a Mallard ancestry.


 

I shared this one recently, a Bar-headed Goose.


A Blue-headed Mallard.  I was surprised to see the color of his head.  There is an explanation here.  The green headed ones I am more used to seeing.





This one has a pretty light brown color, a female I think.  The male has a brown hood and a buff-colored body.  There are also chickens described as Buff Orpingtons.  I didn't find much information but the above site shared some if you would like to take a look.  



I sure got a kick out of these geese running down to us as we were bending over the fence trying to take their photos.  I think they were used to people feeding them, and when they saw us they were hopeful.  Sorry duckies!
We thanked them for giving us such a chuckle, and we left smiling.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.