Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend hikes, and broiling gone awry

One of my birding trails; I was scolded by an indigo bunting in the "tunnel" created by the canopy!



First of all, anyone who is interested in birds will want to check out my Dad's post about the chestnut-sided warbler. He was able to follow a family from the building of the nest to the departure of the fledglings. It is very cool.

The past was a fun weekend. Saturday night I made pad Thai for dinner, flipped between NASCAR and Tour De France coverage, and did some reading about how the Founding Fathers developed the Constitution (How is that for a crazy Saturday night?!).

I went up to Elm Creek Park on Saturday after my run and on Sunday morning. The highlight was adding a new bird to my life list: the blue-gray gnatcatcher. I nearly dismissed him as a chickadee from a distance, as he had a long tail and a vocalization similar to a juvenile chickadee. I am glad I investigated, as it turned out to be an exciting find!

Also I encountered a yellow-throated vireo, which I saw mere minutes before the gnatcatcher. A striking bird, and I had only seen this guy once before, so that was fun. Other birds included the common yellowthroat, an indigo bunting that chastised me for getting too close to the nest, sedge and house wrens, catbirds, American white pelicans, redstarts, downy woodpeckers, plenty of goldfinches, a yellow warbler feeding her baby, and I even heard our state bird, the common loon.

Both Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous mornings. Below are some assorted images from those hikes:

From a hilltop overlooking a marsh; some interesting clouds on Sunday



It is amazing how red the sumac has gotten since last week.



One of the horse trails I hike on; sedge wrens and common yellowthroats love the grassy area to the right



A red squirrel snacks on some berries



A monarch butterfly caterpillar on a milkweed, getting ready to make a home for the coccoon



Black-Eyed Susan in full bloom



And, just to be consistent, I need to throw in a food picture! :) Sunday night I made the chicken leg cacciatore recipe from the "Urban Italian" cookbook. I have liked everything I have made from this book, and the cacciatore was no exception.

Chicken leg cacciatore, Urban Italian style



I even screwed up the chicken a little bit. The recipe calls for broiling the chicken legs for a few minutes and then roasting in a hot oven until cooked through. The idea is that you would then toss the chicken in the sauce just before serving so it retains some of the roasted character and texture.

Well, my broiling/roasting skills managed to set off the smoke detectors. This resulted in a comical, Jacques Clouseau-esque scramble around my apartment to open windows, prop open the door to my deck, and wildly fan the smoke away from the detectors with a kitchen towel. I felt like an idiot. For fear of the fire department showing up, I abandoned the recipe and simply stewed the chicken legs in the sauce until tender and done. The dish still tasted great; it just wasn't as the author intended.

Three things can be learned from this experience:

1. My smoke detectors work
2. Don't be afraid to improvise in the kitchen
3. A marinade of extra virgin olive oil dripping on hot metal creates smoke :)


Until next time,

Jean
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