Friday, July 6, 2012

Caution: Aggressive When Threatened

Hard to see isn't it?  
     How did this happen so quickly, or how had this gone unnoticed so long?  Easily missed by the inattentive and walked by many times on the way to the fowl, this paper creation draws and repulses.

     The white-faced or baldfaced hornets have found what they must consider the perfect building lot.  Location, location, location.  Near a field with flowers and a pond with water, what more could a hornet ask for? Maybe to be left alone by the humans.

 One entering the nest. 
     The design of the nest can't help but draw attention.  Waves of paper ridges create the outside walls that draw the viewer cautiously close.  Hornets are not exactly friendly and are very aggressive when threatened or think that they are threatened.  Who can read the mind of a hornet?  How close is too close? It is said that one hornet is the guard hornet, so it would be foolish to touch the papery creation.  Tempting it is, but necessary to resist the desire to feel the paper or tap it to hear if there is a hollow sound. A foolhardy choice that would be. It is best to keep your distance.  However, the intriguing design can draw one in for closer inspection.  Not for too long though.  It is a game of chance.  How close can one be and still not be considered aggressive?  With the likelihood that there are between 400 and 700 inside it's not worth finding out.

Easy and especially good to avoid cooking on a hot day.               
                          Sweet-and-Spicy Chicken
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 chicken leg quarters (2 1/2 pounds total) (used chicken breasts sliced horizontally, removed skin)
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges (root end left intact)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, sliced into rounds
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
½ cup raisins

1. Combine cumin, cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and
1/2 teaspoon pepper in zip lock bag; add chicken and toss to coat. Heat
oil over medium-high. Cook chicken, skin side down, until golden, about 4
minutes; turn and cook 2 minutes.

2. In slow cooker, place onion, garlic, and ginger. Add
chicken, skin side up, then top with tomatoes and their liquid and raisins.
Cover and cook on high until chicken is tender, 3 1/2 hours.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Oh Maggie, the Wayward Farm Dog

Believe now? There isn't a duck in duct tape!
Wisdom - Don't speak too soon. Just when the words come out, "She's beginning to lose her puppy behavior,"
 a relapse occurs.

Yes, the doors were slightly cracked, no she doesn't push through open doors, but hey a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.  Out she went and at the first feel of freedom and a whiff of wild creatures in the air, she was off.  Where you ask?  First to the neighbor's yard and woodline.  Well, smells are so much better there and the deeper one goes, the better it gets.

It was summer's second hot, really, really hot day. Never mind that this was not a planned outing.  Had it been there wouldn't have been a mad chase over hill and dale barefooted.  Yes, barefooted and with a foolish thought that she could be coaxed into coming back and caught.  About half way through the woods there was no sign of her stopping and little chance for her wanting to stop.

A neighbor through the woods yelled her direction and that she was following a deer.  Now halfway in and barefooted - does it really matter to your feet if you go the second half over rocks twigs and broken glass to the other side or retrace your steps and go back out the first half?  Same distance. Split second decision - just keep going.

Still in pursuit, although she was out of sight, the second half was the only choice and chance to find this dog.  Remember she was still really becoming much better. What a shame to lose her now and having wasted all the frustration of puppyhood. Upon reaching the road and my rescue ride, along with a pair of shoes, there was still the chance that she would show up on one of the streets.  No luck.  Now a walk back calling futilely through the woods was in order, but this time with shoes. Thoughts of Plan B for finding a lost dog were filling my brain. The sound of jingling license tags brought a glimmer of hope. There she was! Spied back in neighbor's yard, she almost came close enough to be caught, but then had second thoughts.  This owner is well-trained; follows me everywhere was the look in Maggie's eye. Off running again.  Luckily, a man  studying his temporarily disabled vehicle was just ahead of Maggie.  The look in his eye was sheer trepidation watching a lady, huffing and puffing, chase a large yellow dog out of the woods and headed his way. In spite of it all, he responded cautiously when asked to call my dog. Call my dog. He appeared not to have been a very brave man, but he reluctantly called the dog and then grabbed her collar when directed.  At last, no more running.
Teeth marks? Muck, not duck boots!

Is there hope that she will become a good farm dog?  Let's just say the verdict is still out, but certainly hope so.  Her penchant for feathery creatures remains. She has caught a wayward chicken or two and gummed them quite a bit before being stopped, no harm done.  And that noisy bantam rooster that didn't quite understand her game? He lost a few feathers, but lives to continue that crazy barnyard racket which probably put him in trouble in the first place.

Another day, another chance - she still has a good heart  (also good teeth, good claws, good determination)

Fun food for the 4th!  (adapted from Cooking Light) 
Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad
(cut potatoes to similar size if necessary)
2       cups fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 10 ounces)  
2 cups small red potatoes, quartered (about 10 ounces)
2 cups small blue potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 10 ounces) (Cooked separately as they might bleed their color)
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
3 hard-cooked large eggs, finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
Place fingerling and red potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender.
Drain and allow to cool slightly.
Repeat with blue potatoes.  Simmer 10 minutes or until tender.
 Add blue potatoes, onion, parsley, dill, chives, and eggs to bowl; toss gently.
Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients. Pour over potato mixture; toss gently to combine. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Tip – if not serving right away, add blue potatoes just before serving.