Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Imminent Departure And Some Bejeweled Poems About Hummingbirds

"A flash of harmless lightening,
A mist of rainbow dyes,
The burnished sunbeams brightening.
From flower to flower he flies."
    -John Banister Tabb

Something made me smile today.  It was the sight of a gorgeous ruby-throat-ed hummingbird feeding on one of the few remaining trumpet vine flowers in my back yard.  It should not be too many days now before they all gather for their grueling non-stop journey to Mexico where they will spend the winter months.  How such tiny fragile souls can fly thousands of miles non-stop through all manner of perils is beyond human comprehension.  These feisty green fairies always make me smile, not only because I love to watch them, but because they remind me of happy memories when my precious cat Sweet Pea and I used to sit in the garden in the evenings and watch the hummers feed on the trumpet vine flowers. 

So, in honor of the most lovely and amazing tiny creatures in my garden today, and every day, here are some poems.

 The Hummingbirds
Minutest of the feathered kind,
Posessing every charm combined,
Nature, in forming thee, designed
A proof within how little space
She can comprise such perfect grace,
Rendering the lovely; fairy race.
     - Charlotte Smith 

The Hummingbird
A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head,
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning's ride.
  - Emily Dickinson

Hummingbird Eggs
In a crook of a branch of the Queen Flowers tree
Precariously it swayed with every breeze
Reminding him of that infant lulaby.

The Mother poked her head out frequently
Fiercely defensive of the treasure
In her small abode.

This totemic treasure carried folklore
Within its ingenious plaitings
A superior intelligence at work.

Functional and minimalist
Her crimson crest and iridescent
Feathers made her the most
Powerful bird in the world.

As she hovered in mid-air stationary
Like a helicopter searching.

Her eyes reminded in the dynamic flashes
The fate that befell those long ago
Who broke the taboo of her death.

Who now on certain moonlit nights
Howl their pain in lonely hours
Over the well known lake of pitch.

The boy approached.  The mother flew.
He saw the eggs such miniature art
And stretched his hands to touch.

She zipped past his ear screeching
Warning of a second totem in anger.
He understood the warning dire

Looked as they lay in their resplendent nest
Climbed down and withdrew from the nest.
The mother circled her treasure

Then calmly brooded.
Overhead thunder suddenly rolled
In the brightness of the day lightening flashed.
          - Anson Gonzalez

Until next time .................
Be Well and Happy.
(And Sweet Pea from heaven who is still
watching the green fairies)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Zucchini, Zucchini, Zucchini -- Some Recipes For Our Abundant Friend

This time of year when I go to our local Farmer's Market, one of the vegetables that is spilling over in abundance is the lovely zucchini.  Nutritious, versatile, it is a shame that it is not in season in our area all year long.  For the time being, however, we shall make full use of it.  Today I have two zucchini soup recipes to share with you - one is creamy and the other is stock based.  Before we get to the soups, I want to share a quick recipe that I made up last week.
Robin's Italian Zucchini
I sliced two zucchini into about 1/8" slices and coated them with olive oil.  Then I sprinkled them with garlic chips.  (I highly recommend the Organic Roasted Garlic Chips from Garlic Festival Foods.  I use them for everything!  Their garlic mustard is also to die for!   )
I grilled the zucchini slices about 2 minutes on each side and removed them from the grill. 

Then I spread a layer of basil garlic tomato sauce in the bottom of a 12"x12" dish and began layering the zucchini slices, tomato sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese, finishing with a layer of the cheese.  I covered the dish with foil and baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.     We had this as a side dish with grilled talapia and grilled sweet potatoes, and it was delicious.  I hope you like it.  You may even add ingredients that will even make it better -- please leave a comment and let me know!  Now, on to the soups!

Creamy Potato and Zucchini Soup With Garlic Croutons
2 tsp Olive Oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb.  potatoes, peeled and diced
2 c. 1% or skim milk
1  1/2 c. vegetable or chicken stock
2 zucchini unpeeled, grated
1 tsp nutmeg
hot pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper
grated sharp cheddar cheese
Croutons - Ingredients:
2 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sheets of lavash bread

Heat oil in a deep heavy saucepan over med-high heat.  Add onion, cook until soft.  Add  garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add potatoes and stock, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.  Add milk, zucchini, nutmeg and pepper flakes.  Cook on low for another 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Puree soup, then return to pot and stir over low heat until heated through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with cheese and serve with croutons.

Croutons - Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.  Combine oil and garlic in a small bowl.  Brush lavash bread with oil, fold bread in half and tear along fold.  Tear the bread until you have long strips 3/4" wide.  Place on trays  and bake 10 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Recipe Courtesy of --

Note -- Personally, I would just use store-bought croutons -- This is just too much bother for me.  I had no idea what lavash bread was, so I looked it up.  This is the story -- Lavash is a soft, thin flatbread widely used in Iran, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.  Dough is rolled out flat and slapped against the hot walls of a wood oven or a "tandoor".  While flexible like a tortilla when fresh, lavash dries out quickly and becomes brittle and hard.

You learn something new every hour.  However, I would still use the store-bought croutons.  


3 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 sliced onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 tsp. oregano
6 cups beef stock
1 large tomato, cored, blanched, peeled, diced
1 lb. zucchini, diced
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large saucepan, heat oil and brown garlic.  Discard garlic.  Add potatoes, stir to coat, and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add onion, parsley and oregano, and cook until onions are softened.  Add stock, tomatoes, celery, zucchini, and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until zucchini is tender.  Pour soup into individual bowls and sprinkle freshly ground pepper and 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese over each serving.

Recipe courtesy of:

In the Comments section following this recipe, several people indicated that they felt that the amount of beef stock should be cut back to 4 or 5 cups instead of 6 cups.  Also, some people stated that they eliminated or reduced the celery.  (I would be one of the people who eliminated the celery, since I do not care for it).

I hope that you enjoy these soups.  Be Well, Well Fed, and Happy.


I'm Dreaming of ...... Beautiful Fall Dresses From The Shabby Apple

Anyone who knows me knows that I love clothes.  I also have a certain romantic style, and it is not often that I find a line of clothing that is everything "me".  Well, the other day I discovered "The Shabby Apple", which is an online ladies clothing store featuring mainly dresses, as well as accessories such as jewelry, handbags and shoes. I love so many of their dresses, I don't know where to start!  I can't order any right now, but let's take a look at my favorites anyway.  Prices range from $75-100.

My absolute favorite - The Berkshires - Cider

      Yosemite - Black Oak

        Yosemite - Chicaree


             1943 - Ingrid

           Jody Maxman

Proceed with caution Ladies -- This one could be addictive and expensive!!!!!

Be Well, Well Dressed, and Happy!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

September's Lovely Tokens - Fall's First Acorns

"By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
Within summer's best of weather
And Autumn's best of cheer."
  - Helen Hunt Jackson - September

Aaahhh September the loveliest!  I took a little nature walk at a local park looking for pine cones for some craft projects and, although I could find very few nice pine cones, my efforts were rewarded with some other fall treasures.  It is amazing what you can find when you just walk quietly in the woods, stand still, look down, and let your eyes focus on the treasures that nature has waiting for you to discover on her wonderful carpet.  I was both surprised and delighted to find acorns!  I thought that it was a bit too early for acorns to have fallen, but I found the early crop of both green and brown babies.  I was seeking them for some craft projects -- including the acorn caps to put on some needle felted acorns that I am making.  Next to many of the acorn trees were chestnut trees, who were also dropping their fruit shells, so I also gathered some of those beauties. 

Perhaps the best surprise of the day was the discovery of an old bird's nest which had fallen to the ground!

After my walk, I went over to visit some lovely horses which are boarded at the park.  They are the members of the Allegheny County Police Mounted Patrol Unit who have their stables in the park.  They were having a bite to eat after a hard day's work.  They were all so friendly, they all came over to greet me and to be petted. 

Finally, it was a stop at our local dollar store flower shop to buy some beautiful mums to decorate the front porch and the driveway.  I bought quite a lovely spread for a little dough.  I got most of them planted in my pots, but I ran out of potting soil.  I'll post some photos when the outside decorations are complete.

All in all, it was a lovely Autumn day!

Be Well and Happy.  Robin