Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday, a foodie day and post -

Good fresh food, a necessity of life, is something we all enjoy, right?
Sadly, sometimes it's not healthy, and now and then it's downright dangerous!
The latest scares here in the USA are about eggs and Romaine lettuce.

Below you will see why I'm not at all concerned about my eggs. . . . . but
Romaine, probably my favorite leaf lettuce because I'm addicted to Cesar 
salads, will be missing from my refrigerator for some time. Salmonella (the 
egg scare) and E. coli (now covering all Romaine including whole heads as
 well as pre-chopped in bags) are both illnesses nobody wants to have - the
 latter of course being life-threatening in severe cases.

So, here's to ways of solving food contamination - we need to be sure what we
 eat is safe. Probably the only way to be 100% regarding veggies and fruits is to
 go back to growing our own - possible for some people, not so for others.
Today I'm looking for Romaine lettuce seeds and may give growing some
a try - I do have garden space so no excuses for me.

 Meanwhile, imagine my joy at finding these yesterday - freshly picked 
local North Carolina strawberries from just south of Raleigh. . . . . . .
. . . . . . and how delicious compared to the long distance ones transported 
and chilled for days before arriving at the grocery store.
The farmer selling these shows up each Spring at his 'patch' next to a 
nearby gas station. . . . . . and he told us this year's crop, despite a chilly
March, is going to be great and he will have fruits until early June.
Note he uses recyclable paper punnets, not those awful plastic clamshells.

Bob and I are back on a Muesli kick. I prepare it the night before with 2% milk
and a dash of orange juice and refrigerate.
We always enjoy this type of cereal on board ships - they seem to make the
 best (perhaps as the chefs are usually European where people love Muesli) - and
 we feel we are getting our daily does of goodness in this morning bowl. 
I usually add other things to my boxed mix (currently an excellent German one
with almonds, hazelnuts and raisins - purchased from Aldi), such as chopped
 dried apricots or prunes, oat bran, turmeric, chia seeds. . . . . and of course today 
the strawberries that taste like strawberries should, and Bob will always add fresh blueberries. 
A small dash of heavy cream just prior to eating makes it rich,
 but I never add sugar!

The beautiful eggs - oh how I absolutely love these.
Joan, a member of my Tai Chi class (and yes, I've just graduated from 
Beginners class and am now in Continuing) has chickens and sells 
these perfectly healthy eggs.  She brings them to class 'unwashed' but they
 are this clean so she must keep a fastidious chicken coop, and says 
this way allows you to use them for up to 2 months even if kept unrefrigerated.
One should always rinse eggs just prior to using, but of course you know the 
store-bought ones are washed as most people don't want dirty looking eggs,
something we've been brain-washed about in modern life.
Joan also told me the names of which chicken laid which color egg - and I
have to say they are the best tasting eggs I've had in a long time. 

Last but by no means least - pots of fresh basil are now coming into stores,
  I found this pot at Lidl on Thursday.  I've already cut several pieces and put into
 water to root on the kitchen window sill, later I will transfer them to a pot.
Soon I'll be planting basil seeds in large pots for my own harvest later in
 Summer. . . . .tomatoes, pasta, pizza, soups and salads all need to be
 enhanced by this wonderful Mediterranean herb. . . . . . and who can live
 without homemade pesto!!!

Here's to a wonderful weekend.
Anything special to share from your Spring kitchen today?

Friday, April 20, 2018

. . . . . now there are three!

 This morning, such a chilly but bright and sunny one, I peeked in from my
 little step stool, camera at the ready, and found mama finch, despite the cold,
 has laid another egg. IF she decides to lay the maximum of 6 it's going to be 
very crowded in there and, because she is so tiny, I've no idea how she can
possibly sit on all those eggs for two weeks!
Will keep you updated.

Potting Shed and lovely George Taber azaleas.

Today's bright sunshine beckons us into the garden especially as next week
 will not be as pretty with clouds and rain expected.  Bob will be firing up the mower
 later as the grass is long, and we'll be digging holes to plant two new azaleas and
 a hosta purchased yesterday at a roadside stand - all plants grown here in
 North Carolina out in the country south of the city. I love buying local.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Nesting. . . . . .

One of our new hanging Boston ferns has already become a home.
I didn't even have time to put the FOR RENT sign up!
Sweet mama-to-be!

Don't even ask how long I had to sit without moving/breathing at the dining room
 window to get this shot. The slightest move near the window and she flies out 
of the fern and takes a while to come back.
This rather plain little bird has moved onto the front porch. . . . . . . . and is 
laying her eggs.

Tuesday - April 17, 2018
Wednesday - April 18, 2018
The guests - Mr. & Mrs. House Finch - on our front feeder.

Finches lay 2-6 eggs - I'll keep you updated if more appear!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

After the storm. . . . . .the garden this week -

We arrived home from a weekend out of town and found the garden
sparkling with color. That night terrible storms passed 
through the area and I feared waking to azaleas and such beaten down,
their lovely blooms blown away or scattered across the ground in the wake 
of the high winds and several hours of torrential rain.

Monday was clean up day, mostly small branches, twigs and debris from
where the water had swirled through the garden. Flowers looked somewhat
 battered but not broken and by yesterday, with brilliant sunshine and a Spring
 breeze, everything perked up and we enjoyed afternoon coffee on the front porch
 with a friend who was kind enough to say how lovely the garden was looking.

George Taber - my favorite azaleas.
Spanish bluebells beneath the fig tree.

Bluebells and Solomon's Seal.

Hickory tree catkins awaiting wind pollination.

Hoping lovely plants are beginning to bloom in your Spring garden.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Puerto Edén. . . . .Cruising the Chilean Fjords

Villa Puerto Edén, Chile
March 15, 2018
Temp.Range - 40-51F
Cloudy with Rain

Tucked under the shadow of the snow-encrusted Andean peaks, lies
 Puerto Edén, a Chilean hamlet and minor port only accessible by sea. 
Located on Wellington Island west of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, 
it is the only settlement, has a population of 176, and is renowned for being
 home to the last Kawésqar people, a nomadic seafaring people. 
Also called 'canoe people' by some anthropologists, they built canoes 8-9 meters
 long and one meter wide which would hold a family and its dog, on which they lived.
They continued this fishing, nomadic practice until the twentieth century, when
 they were moved to settlements on land. Their traditional language is
 Kawésqar and is now endangered as few native speakers survive.

In 1881, European anthropologists took eleven Kawésqar people fom Patagonia 
to be exhibited in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, and the Berlin Zoological Garden.
Only four survived to return to Chile. Early in 2010, the remains of five of the 
seven who died were repatriated from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, where
they had been held for studies. Upon return of the remains, the president of Chile
formally apologized for the state having allowed these indigenous people to be
taken out of the country to be exhibited and treated like animals.
A very sad story needless to say.

Puerto Edén has an extremely wet subpolar oceanic climate and is widely
 reputed to be the place in the world with the highest frequency of rainfall, and an
 average of 226 inches per year.
Because of the extraordinarily humid climate, the village has no roads, only
 pedestrian boardwalks connecting the houses and few shops. These walkways, 
sadly in disrepair, were very wet and slippery due to the climate conditions, 
and one of our passengers fell and broke her wrist - she however remained a
 trooper and continued on with the trip following attention by our charming
 Ukrainian ship's doctor. 

Puerto Edén is a very poor village but it was interesting to see how people manage 
to carve out a living in such a remote part of the world. There were a few
 handmade objects for sale by two women in a tiny shack, and it is always
appreciated to spend some cash for although landing fees are paid by the ship,
the villagers themselves gain something directly out of tourist visits.
We were told we were the first tourist ship to visit the island in 13 months - of course
only small ships are able to get there and landing is only possible by Zodiacs.
We were asked not to purchase any food items from the tiny grocery as the people
receive supplies infrequently via a Navimag ferry - their only lifeline with the outside
 world - and a weekly transport boat which takes local fish and shellfish products
 to markets. The inhabitants' livelihood comes from diving for mussels and sea urchins.

It was a dry landing onto a jetty with staircase and handrails.
Brightly colored wood and corrugated sheet metal buildings make 
up the hamlet.

A wet welcome - hard to tell which was humidity and which was actual rain - not
 a very cheery, comfortable climate that's for certain.

A typical house in the village - few people were actually seen.
Fuchsia was rampant on the island and home to many hummingbirds - they
 were so fast though I was unable to take photos of those beautiful tiny birds.

Our ship at anchor in the fjord, and fishing boats from which the men dive for
 mussels and sea urchins - the latter sold mostly to Japan. Most do not use air tanks, 
just hoses attached to an air compressor on the boats.

We left Puerto Edén with a forecast of a severe weather system affecting the
 Chilean Pacific coast. 
This produced a very rough, stormy night - a lot of people seasick - and required
 changes to our planned route as we were required to take shelter longer in the fjord
 system before continuing north on our ocean voyage. 

Next time, visiting Melinka where damage from the huge earthquake of 2016
was still visible - but people go about their lives despite tremors 
almost daily! 

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