Archive for December, 2008

Our Wild Life

December 19, 2008


(The Hunter)

I actually took these shots back in late summer, but I’m just now getting around to posting them.  I know the quality of the shot above was not so great, but it’s about the best I could manage from a distance with my point-and-shoot.  But I feel lucky to have gotten that—after all, it’s not every day you see a bobcat in your backyard. 

We had just sat down to supper, and Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man was gazing out the sliding glass doors. 

“Wow,” he said.  “Look at that.”

Now, here’s the thing about Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man—if he sees something and wants to call your attention to it, whether it be a common house finch or say maybe…an ivory-billed woodpecker…his response is pretty much the same.

Not “Wow, look at that common house finch!” or “Wow, look at that ivory-billed woodpecker!”  Nope.  Just “Wow, look at that.”  So, when you look where his finger’s pointing, it’s sometimes hard to figure out just what he’s seeing or whether it’s actually worth turning your head for.  I mean, seriously…if he were to see a pterodactyl perched on our barbed wire fence post watching a herd of stegosaurus graze in the pasture, I’m sure he’d nonchalantly say, “Wow, look at that.”  

Anyway, when he said that, I rather languidly looked outside, but saw nothing but the usual field full of wildflowers. 

“Umm…what?”  I said.  “I don’t see anything.”

“Over there—by the oak tree,” he said, pointing in the direction of about ten different oak trees.  We have nothing BUT oak trees in our back field. 

I looked again, but still saw nothing.  Rather irritably, I said, “Could you perhaps give me a hint as to what I’m looking for?”

“A bobcat.  It’s a bobcat.”

I jumped up then.  “A bobcat?”  I ran to get my camera and peered out the back door.  Then, I finally saw him–a gorgeous wildcat–crouching in the weeds in the pasture.  And I knew why he was here. 

It was the bumper crop of bunnies we had this year.  They bred like…well…rabbits, and every time we stepped outside, there would be bunnies cavorting everywhere in the grass, apparently blissfully unaware of the fact that danger lurked nearby. 

He was a beautiful bobcat, and I badly wanted a better photograph than the smeary shots I could get through the window of the back door.  So, trying to be stealthy as a cat, I slowly opened the door and stepped out.  He looked up and our eyes locked.  But he didn’t move.  He just gazed coolly and steadily at me, perhaps sizing up my potential as tasty prey, and I gazed back, transfixed.  I was able to get off a couple of shots before I finally sent him bounding back into the forest when I tried to get a little closer.

But, for a moment, my heart beat a little faster, and so, I’m sure, did his.  But not as fast as the hearts of all the poor  little frightened bunnies in the grass. 


(The Hunted)



My Daily Bread (or Having My Cake and Eating It, Too)

December 11, 2008


My friend Clara over at Clara’s Corner, in her comment on my last post, asked for the recipe to my Pear Bread.  Well, the truth is, I’ve made that bread so often, I don’t use a written recipe, but I did write it down earlier for my children (in case I kicked the bucket or something) so here it is, for what it’s worth.  I cook mostly by trial and error (which means my family often endures the trial of eating my errors), so I don’t use a lot of written recipes, although my family probably wishes I would.

Anyway, this used to be apple bread, because the place we lived before had an ancient, abandoned orchard nearby which produced some of the most ugly, gnarly, wormy old apples you ever saw—but they made good bread.  But now we have pears instead—hence the apple bread becomes pear bread.  But, at its core, it’s the same recipe, so I hope you find it appeelling.   (See how y’all inspired me with your wonderful puns in the comments?) 

Okay, so I really should confess, too, that this is really as much cake as it is bread.  In fact, I was looking the other day at my friend Judy’s wonderful recipe blog,  Recipes From a Southern Country Cook  and I noticed that an apple cake recipe she had on there was remarkably similar to my apple/pear bread recipe.  But, you know, if I call it bread, we can eat it without guilt because apple/pear bread just sounds so wholesome and nutritious and…non-fattening.   And if we called it cake, we’d feel awful for eating a whole loaf in one sitting.  Not that we’ve done that, of course.  Well…not a WHOLE lot. 

Well, not every day or anything….

Ahem…anyway, without further ado (or any more puns), here’s my recipe for pear bread.  We like a spicy bread, so you may want to adjust the spice for your taste.  Also, we like a very fruity, moist bread, so if you don’t, you may wish to add less fruit.  Adding more fruit, however, makes it easier to rationalize that second piece!  After all, fruit is GOOD for you!

Apple/Pear Bread

4-5 cups of apples or pears, peeled and diced
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans (raisins are also good)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour (sometimes I also add a handful of oatmeal)
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg 
1 half teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

Mix together pears, white sugar, brown sugar, and pecans.  Then, separately mix together the vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla (I use a little electric hand mixer).  Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. 

Then, alternate adding the pear, sugar, and pecan mixture and the sifted flour/spice/salt/soda to the oil/eggs/vanilla mixture.  Or, really, you could just mix all of it together at one time, and I’m sure it would turn out fine.   Mix well and put in two loaf pans.  When I use a lot of fruit, sometimes I have enough for three loaf pans or at least, enough left over to fill a couple of those little tiny loaf pans you can get at Walmart.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes (the tiny loaf pans obviously take less time) until top springs back when pressed.  Let cool, then turn out of the pan.  And, by now, the house smells so good that you just can’t help yourself.  Go ahead.   Have a slice or two. 

After all, life is short.  Enjoy it!

My Pear Paradise

December 4, 2008


Golly, has it really been over a week since I last posted?  I do apologize—you know how it is this time of year.  Truth is, I barely even touched the computer when my favorite people in the world were home (that would be my children, of course).  It was lovely having them here, though the time passed all too quickly.   Besides the usual Thanksgiving turkey, dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, etc., we had a Thanksgiving kitten

Well, not for dinner, of course…ha,ha.  It was a stray (probably feral) kitten who wandered up to our doublewide.  We fed her and made her a soft little bed outside, but she would have none of that.  When she heard us laughing inside, she climbed up the window screen repeatedly to peer in, clinging to the screen and meowing indignantly all the while!  In fact, we’re going to have to replace all three screens now—they are so damaged from the kitty’s claws.  She was both amusing and entertaining (if a little destructive), but we’re really dog people, so we took her to the Humane Society where I feel quite sure she’ll win someone’s heart. 

Besides kids and kittens, we’ve had a most bountiful yield of pears to keep us busy.  In fact, we just harvested our last ones three weeks ago.  As you can see from the picture above (taken back in October) showing the pear windfall, the trees produced a bumper crop this year, with some pears as big as softballs!  And the three big tubs of pears you see below are but a drop in the bucket (no pun intended) compared to overall pear production.  We’ve been eating and sharing and cooking and baking…and still, we have pears.  We put them in our pseudo-cellar (which is to say…in the crawlspace) hoping that we might be able to preserve them for a little longer. 


The sweetest and juiciest pears were the ones that fell naturally from the trees, so every day (before the groundhog could get them!), I picked up pears, a pleasant task in the warm autumn sun.  I was fascinated by all the winged creatures feasting on the fallen pears.  Yellow jackets, wasps, hornets, and honeybees dined side by side, buzzing drowsily, not seeming to care when I stumbled over them.  I was able to watch them up close as they moved across the yellow pear globes, like little winged astronauts exploring new planets.  There were so many, in fact, that I had to pick up each pear gingerly, lest I disturb one of the explorers.



Of all the things I make with pears, our favorite is pear nut bread, preferably warm right out of the oven with a glass of milk.  In fact, it’s probably the reason Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I have gained…ahem…several pounds lately.   After all, pears are good for you.  Right?


Anyway, I took a picture of a couple of pears that I had peeled and I was going to post it with the caption “A Pair of Pared Pears.”  Because, as you may recall, I really like puns.  But I am aware that not everyone shares my affinity for wordplay, and, sadly, some people are actually quite annoyed by it.  So I shall refrain.

I’ll just eat my pair of pared pears, with the sweet juice running down my chin, as I sit in the sun on my porch, thankful for another day…in Pearadise. 🙂