Archive | July, 2013

Guilty Pleasure

27 Jul

DSC_7931Not once, but twice, I was recently served bananas in a savory dish purported to be made with plantains. I was so disappointed to taste the cloying sweetness of a cooked banana when I was hoping for an exotic starch. I decided I needed to buy a plantain and cook it myself.

The only way I have ever eaten plantains were the plantain chips I had when visiting my folks and sister when they were living in Panama. So when I brought home this green banana-on-steroids fruit it sat in my kitchen for a few days while I pondered what to do with it. Last night I began searching for recipes online. It was then that I learned that plantains taste blandish and starchy when they are green but turn sweetish when they turn yellow. Yikes! My plantain was halfway between green and yellow. I wanted to cook it up before it got too sweet.

I opted for a traditional Latino dish called tostones. I followed this recipe and they turned out great. And guess what? They tasted like a homemade version of the plantain chips I so loved to eat during my visits to Panama. Since they were deep fried in oil, tostones will not become a regular treat and my search for plantain recipes will continue.

But today they were a welcome guilty pleasure.

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Backyard Shenanigans

12 Jul

Chickadee at the new peanut feeder

Chickadee at the new peanut feeder

We had been filling our bird feeders with a premium seed and nut mixture and enjoyed seeing quite a variety of birds visit. Aside from the usual house sparrows and house finches, we saw titmice, cardinals, nuthatches, wrens, chickadees, blue jays, brownheaded cowbirds, and woodpeckers, to name a few. But then the icterids discovered the premium mix. I didn’t mind the red-winged blackbirds, but the grackles and starlings chased the other birds away and gorged themselves, going through the entire contents of the feeder in less than a day. We then switched to plain safflower seeds, having learned that grackles and starlings don’t much care for those seeds. But we lost many other visitors as well, particularly the woodpeckers.

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Squirrel raiding the peanut feeder

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A Hasty Retreat

So, Brad installed a peanut feeder and sure enough the chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and blue jays returned. We haven’t yet seen any woodpeckers. But the peanuts have been a seemingly irresistible temptation for the squirrels. Over the last few days I’ve watched as they pondered how to get to the feeder. I saw many slips and mishaps of failed attempts. Then yesterday I looked out the window to see one squirrel had succeeded in attaching himself to the feeder, but I don’t think he managed to extract one peanut from it. He was clinging to the feeder upside down. I took one fair shot of him through the kitchen window but I wanted to get an even better closer shot. I tiptoed out onto the deck but as soon as I aimed my camera the little bugger flew from the feeder to the deck, lost his footing and fell to the ground. I’m sure he’s okay…he scampered away very quickly. Haven’t seen a squirrel at the feeder in about a day but it has been raining most of the time. Time will tell if they have learned their lesson.

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Sparrow without tail feathers

In other news, we’ve had a cute little female house sparrow without any tail feathers making frequent visits to our feeders. She seems to get along fine without her tail feathers. I only hope a cat was not involved in her disfigurement. Couldn’t have been Baxter or Lulu as they are kept indoors but some of our neighbors allow their cats to roam outside.