South go the Birds

Bloged in birding by mark Thursday October 20, 2005

For Mark, this was a completely AWE INSPIRING Experience.

I was just out in the driveway throwing the booda ball for Mac when I begin to hear the unmistakable chortling calls of the Mighty Sandhill Cranes and immediately began to look overhead to find them. As it turned out, there were three groups flying withthe winds coming up the hill, so were obviously heading south. There were some high misty clusters of clouds in the sky to my south as I watched them pass over the hilltop not so very far above me and I was thrilled, as always to see these magnificent birds.

I was about to quit watching them heading south, noticing they were still climbing, getting higher, when, to my surprise, off in the distance they began to circle back and now were into one group. I could STILL hear the magnificent calls. The immediate wonder was WHY are they coming back?

Well that was answered quick. They were not coming back, but climbing the cross winds, or more accurately, gliding higher and higher in circles. The wings were not moving. I watched for at least five minutes as they truly gained lots of altitude and began to appear more distant as they got up into the wispy clouds, and finally into the thick clouds……. After I could no longer see them, but still hear them, it was clear they’d finally settled into a southern fly direction and the sounds faded out. But I could still see them in my mind, easily gliding along on the prevailing winds headed towards their winter homes.

Watching an event like this always brings a sense of wonder and awe. By the way, we’re hearing geese fly by regularly now……….we’re approaching the real high traffic season for these wonders of nature headed back to warmer climes. We should also begin to see OUR winter visitors, the beautiful Varied Thrush in about 3 weeks.

Ah……………..

Panaderia in ST Johns

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life,Oregon,Portland by mark Tuesday October 18, 2005

In HEADLINE news from downtown St Johns, the “standard” for “best” Mexican Food in this area that has LONG belonged to the “Burrito Express”, has finally been challenged, and passed to a new eating spot.

Burrito Express had just cleaned and painted their small space as if to say, “Hey……..we’re getting challenged”………..but to no avail. The Mexican Grocery / Panaderia located next to the used Bookstore, two doors down from Nola’s Coffee, across from the Bicycle Shop, kitty-corner from the Starbucks……..ahem, What I’m saying is I don’t even know the NAME of the Mexican Bakery…..is the NEW KID ON the BLOCK with mucho gusto muy bueno FOOD. (AND, the place is NOT Café Ole’ which is on the opposite side of the bookstore. Oh yes, if you’re a big drinker, it’s two doors from from Dad’s Lounge, and across the street from SLIM’s Bar………… hah!

This little grocery/bakery has quietly expanded its kitchen in the back of the store to produce complete meals that are all genuinely North Mexican Food Creations. From Barbecued Lamb (Barbacoa) only fixed on weekends, to grilled Tortas, to the standards like soft tacos with choices of about 8 kinds of meat, this was a real surprise to find. NO, it’s not elegant like the Southern Mexico/Central American place on Belmont that’s only open for dinner, but worth the trip, this is a dive like Burrito Express where little English is spoken……….and maybe that’s why the quality of the food is a good surprise.

Even if you go INTO the grocery store you will never even know somebody’s cooking food in the back unless you walk through an unannounced doorway at the back of the store….after you pass through the doorway, you’ll see about 5-6 small tables and a counter to order from…….. CHEAP and GOOD.

Next time you’re “ready for adventure” (as Ranger Rick would say)……………….and in a Mexican Food Mood…………..have some fun and go through the magic doorway at the back of the Panaderia in downtown St Johns.

IF you do, please report your opinions……………

Best food regards,

Serendipity & Reggie

Bloged in General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Monday October 3, 2005

:mrgreen:Serendipity is finding something unexpected and useful while searching for something else entirely. It’s Great Word and doesn’t often get a chance to be used while life’s happening to us.

WE lost Jocko one year ago. His heart failed on the very day we were having the neighborhood over to celebrate the arrival of Paul & Kristin to the little hamlet (luckily he died about two hours before everyone arrived).

The cage has been here empty with of all his toys, etc., for a year:

We just might have sold it before now but by spring were wrapped up in kitchen plans that buried us until a couple weeks ago. With the work of cleaning up the house and putting much stuff back where it belonged, the cage was in the way, and with clear minds now, we decided to list it on Craig’s List to see if anyone was interested.

We listed it and had two quick requests for pictures that we sent…………but somehow decided we weren’t asking enough. We deleted that ad and about 8:00 pm Friday, re-listed it at $200 to include all the “stuff”. Oddly enough at that moment, and out of curiosity, we just glanced below our new ad to see what people “were” selling in the pets section of Craig’s List. Just a few ads below our new ad (and there are hundreds of ads in this section) was a Vancouver entry saying the man had just gotten a job change that would involve lots of travel and he had to part with his three birds: a Sulphur Cockatoo, a Red Macaw and one African Grey Parrot, nine years old. He’s had all three since they were babies. He had entered his ads within minutes of the time ours was placed.

We exchanged e-mails with this fellow for an hour, and decided to have a “look” at this bird Saturday morning expecting lots of bad things to discourage our new interest in adopting a new kid. That wasn’t found. “Reggie” was in great health, is micro-chipped, and plenty tame. The three birds had completely filled up the Dining Room. He did say the bird did not like females…………. Hence, WE drew the conclusion that if he were going to be gone so much, the wife took a stand and said the birds would have to go. I can imagine how she felt cleaning up the constant dusty presence of parrot sized birds in their huge cages if the birds didn’t even like her…..the fellow says the Parrot had “stalked” his little girls……(THAT one I wonder about…a tame parrot will naturally walk toward the family to be with them but we weren’t there to see it).

He could have charged hundreds of dollars because with the Parrot was the big cage (not as big as Jocko’s we have here), and boxes of supplies that themselves were worth the $250 we finally paid being convinced this was good for us and for Reggie. We walked out of the Sappington House with Bird in tow, large cage, and all the supplies. Someone else had already taken the Cockatoo.

So, in one night, while looking to sell a cage of a pet lost, we now found something else, hence: SERENDIPITY. Here was Reggie Saturday night:

By now, we believe she isn’t yet much of a talker probably because she was with the two other large birds since she was born. She whistles a little and says a weak hello. We’re going to WORK on that immediately. She’s eating well and easily comes out of the cage to be with us.

MAC? Unhappy pup who views this animal as a toy to be chewed and tossed around so yes, firm rules are in effect for dog until he gets bored with the new resident:

It was quite the unexpected event and now we are responsible for two kids………a parrot approaching adolescence and a pup that in dog years is now about the same age. Serendipity ! ! ! ! ! ! Great Word, eh?

In the kitchen, we cooked on the weekend. Rodger played with some Ciabatta recipes and ended up with a delicious Italian Bread. Then a Texas Fabulous CHILI called, “A BOWL OF RED” he finished and with the rain pouring Saturday Night, that was perfect. We’ve posted the recipe in that section and calle it, “A Bowl of Red” for those wanting a great Warm Comfort Meal on one of these colder fall nghts.

So now I’ll go iron shirts in front of the bird and “talk” repeated phrases…… ahh, Training once again!

Mark & Rodger.

CHILI – a Bowl of Red

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out by mark Saturday October 1, 2005

A BOWL of RED: (TX Chili)
Source: Angela’s Biscuit Catalog

If you want any respect in TX, cook chili as a meat dish, not a soup, and remember that beans go on the SIDE,
Never inside.

4 bacon slices chopped
1 lg. onion chopped
4 plump garlic cloves, minced
4-pound chuck roast, trimmed of surface fat and cut into ½ inch cubes
½ cup good-quality chili powder, such as Gebhardt’s.
1-tablespoon cumin seeds roasted, toasted in a dry skillet and ground
1 tablespoon mole paste (see ingredient tip)
2 teaspoons crumbled dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
Approximately 2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
1 to 2 tablespoons MASA HARINA
Chopped onions minced fresh or pickled jalapenos and saltine crackers, optional.

Fry the bacon in a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot over medium heat until brown and crisp.
Remove the bacon from drippings w/ slotted spoon and reserve.

Add the onion to drippings and sauté briefly until softened.
Mix in the garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the beef and sauté it until it loses its raw color. Add the reserved bacon, the chili powder, cumin,
Mole paste, oregano, salt, vinegar, and cayenne. Pour in just enough stock to cover. Reduce the heat to
Very low and cook uncovered for about 3 hours, stirring about every 30 minutes. Add MORE stock as
Needed to keep the mixture from getting dry and sticky.

In the last 30 minutes of cooking, stir in the masa harina, a couple teaspoons at a time, to thicken or “tighten” the
Chili. Serve the chili immediately or let it cool, cover and refrigerate overnight, and reheat. Serve the
Chili steaming hot in bowls, with garnishes as you wish.

Ingredient Tip:
Mole paste is a ground mixture of chocolate, toasted chiles and seeds, and seasonings used to flavor
Black mole, the dark sauce often served with chicken or turkey in MX. We particularly favor a version made in
Small batches in Oaxaca, MX, by American ex-partite Susana Trilling and imported into the U.S. by
Williams-Sonoma.

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