Saturday, July 22, 2017

A cool Humboldt Fog rolls in. . . . . . . . .

Doing all we can to stay cool here in central North Carolina as the weather continues 
to heat up. End of week became dangerously hot with the actual temperature
 hovering at 100F yesterday and will continue over most of the weekend. 
The heat index will make it feel more like 110F and could be life threatening for
 those who don't take care! 
We know to stay out of the sun, in air conditioned spaces, drink plenty of water, and 
not do stupid things such as mowing lawns, pulling weeds, jogging - or even
 walking far outdoors!

Northern California coast - Trinidad, Humboldt County 2016

I've shared these foggy coastal photos before but couldn't resist displaying
 them again as they are so refreshing on these hot days.

San Carlos, CA wine bar - perfect cheese plate with
 fresh bread, apricots, honey and chutney, and great
 cheese choices.

So what should we eat in 100+ degrees?
Always looking for hot stove alternatives in oppressive, steamy weather.
Salads of course are always good. Chilled soups such as the cucumber gazpacho
 we've enjoyed lately - and luckily I've several pouches in my freezer as I made so
 much last week. . . . . . . . and how about cheese plates! 
I love cheese in any shape or form. When in California last year, wine
tasting also meant cheese tasting, and did we ever get some fabulous 
offerings both at wineries and restaurants!

High end wine tasting in Napa - the way to go!

After hot, sunny weather in and around Napa and Sonoma, it rained heavily
 for our visit to Northern California, but it was so beautiful and allowed for
 some mysterious looking photos of the coastline bathed in fog with crashing
 waves. . . . . . . . and the discovery of what has become one of my most
 favorite cheeses ever. . . . . . . . . . . 

. . . . . .Humboldt Fog - a soft-ripened goat cheese made in Arcata, CA.
 Winner of many awards both in the US and internationally,
with just four ingredients, pasteurized cultured goat milk, salt, enzymes 
and vegetable ash, this is a remarkable cheese. . . . . . and all can be
eaten including the rind and ash.

 Each handcrafted one pound mini wheel features, per the maker Cypress Grove
"a distinctive ribbon of edible vegetable ash, buttermilk and fresh cream,
 complemented with floral notes, herbaceous overtones, and a clean citrus finish.
 As Humboldt Fog matures, the creaminess develops and the flavor intensifies."

Yes, on these hotter than you know what days, I'll be prepared when it 
comes to eating and drinking. A somewhat expensive cheese, but Costco stores
 are offering Humboldt Fog mini wheels at an excellent price.

What to drink with this cheese?
While the cheese is young, a chilled
 Sauvignon Blanc - my always favorite white - or a demi-sec sparkling wine, 
is suggested. When ripe, a Pinot Grigio, Rosé (my summer drink), Vouvray,
 or a sweet sherry. When mature, a Zinfandel or Pinot Noir may be best.
If you prefer a thirst-quenching cold beer, the maker suggests wheat beer, 
IPA or Porter with a young cheese, pale ale
 with ripe, and IPA or Stout when the cheese has matured.

Do you have a favorite cheese?
I'm admitting to being a cheese-aholic. . . . . . . how
 about you?

The weekend's here again already - 
have a great one.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Asian Market shopping and cooking. . . . . . . .

On a hunt for foods to serve on these very hot days, I remembered I needed
 rice paper wrappers to make Asian summer rolls. I use veggies (lettuce, carrots,
 radishes, cucumbers, fresh mint and basil leaves) and shrimp.
 A peanut dipping sauce is really good served alongside.
Our favorite fresh rolls are always part of the meal at our local Thai restaurant.
 Instruction on how to make them at home was given to me by my
 Vietnamese manicurist as these rolls are actually a Vietnamese delicacy.
  Always delicious. . . . . . light, cool and nutritious on a hot day.

Last night's supper - Summer rolls with shrimp, peanut sauce and chili-lime almonds.

A stop at the Asian Market this week. . . . . . 
. . . . . . . a place of wonder, plus colorful photo opportunities!
The owner is Thai and very helpful when people like me keep
 picking up, pointing, or asking, "what's this, what do you do with that, 
how do I cook this" etc?

I asked if I could take photos with my iPhone as I didn't have a camera
 with me - he smiled and said, "go ahead take many."

Rows of shelves were groaning under the weight of thousands of items.
I had no idea as to what most were let alone how to cook them
into tasty and fragrant Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese etc. dishes.
Freezers were stuffed with plastic bags hiding shapes I didn't even wish
 to know about. . . . . but the fresh produce was interesting.

My favorites were the fruits and vegetables not usually found in
the regular grocery chains.

These are dragon fruit, a type of cactus - talk about colorful!
Since coming home and reading about them I think I'll go back soon 
and buy a couple. They are great to add to a fruit salad, nutritious,
 low calorie, and so pretty when cut open.  Their flavor resembles a cross
 between a kiwifruit and a pear. Have you ever tried one?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . . . Ladybug/Ladybird

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home. . . . . . 

If you stopped here Wednesday morning you would have seen my entire post - thanks
 to all who left kind comments. 
I'd had problems posting that morning but it was visible for a while.
Later in the day my entire post just disappeared (although the comments remained!),
 flying off into Google thin air with the ladybird perhaps!

This was my sketch for Michael's theme this week - you can visit him here
at SCRIBBLE PICNIC to view the fun art done by our weekly group.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

More golden faces. . . . . .

. . . . . .while on the subject of sunflowers (please forgive me if all this is a bit
 repetitious) I just have to show you how they look today, the first one is fully
 opened and the bees, both big and small, seem to be in heaven collecting
 pollen off those hundreds of what will become seeds.  

Oh how we all - humans and animals - seem to love sunflower seeds!

. . . . . . and look at this!  Had no idea until I looked at the photo on the
 computer - a small bee zooming directly in for a landing, wheels legs down,
 feast ahead!

More buds opening soon!
Now I'm wishing I'd planted many more.

Honey bee and bumble bee sharing a meal. . . . . . . . . so beautiful!

Thank you for your kind comments on the previous 'sunflower post' - hope you
enjoy these additional photos also.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sunflowers are blooming. . . . . . . . . .

Back in early June I planted a packet of sunflower seeds along the low brick wall
 in the front garden in hopes they'd take root and grow before the squirrels found
 them and dug them up!  I've been watching them carefully, fascinated by their 
healthy growth, reminding Bob not to mow over them, and watering them when
there's been no rain and the temperatures have climbed into the 90's.

Just a few days ago the sunflowers were still in bud - the heavy rain from the 
thunderstorm on Thursday evening brought renewal to the garden. 
Funny how rain does such a better job than the garden hoses. How precious
is water falling from those huge clouds billowing across the skies.

Of course they are facing east, toward the rising sun, away from the cottage.
Each morning I pop over and take their picture from my neighbor's side of
 the wall - the same wall I cross to go care for the neighbor's cat Ms. Nala.
Just today and tomorrow remaining as our neighbor returns in the evening.

So, hanging out the 'sunflower flag' this week seems appropriate.
 The gold and green colors of the huge flowers are beautiful and already
 I'm picking other spots where I plan to try growing sunflowers next summer. 
 They will provide late summer food for the birds. . . . . . . . . . oh yes, perhaps
 the squirrels also!

Wishing you all a wonderful summer weekend.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Up to no good as usual . . . . . . . .

Whilst on a mission to take bird photos in the back garden recently there were,
 as always, bushy-tailed interlopers practicing gymnastics. . . . .and these two playing
 peek-a-boo on a tree. I swear squirrels smile - don't you see them doing that here,
 with a glint in those beady eyes?

Of course they too were after the birdseed - they eat more than the sweet 
birds - but we keep filling the feeders out of the goodness of our hearts, 
for the love of nature, and the entertainment they provide while we're 
enjoying a cool summer supper, or just sipping a couple of refreshing
chilled drinks, in the screened gazebo.

Right now the temperatures have soared even higher - today the heat 
index will be 106F and this will continue throughout the coming weekend.
If I was in a fur coat I would not be chasing or playing with anything -
I'd be skinny dipping in the birdbaths!

"Thanks for the snack Mr. or Mrs. Homeowner". We cleaned out the suet 
feeder BTW - any chance of a refill?"

"Cool birdbaths you say - I'm headed for a dip right now!"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . . . . . . . . Dot and line

. . . . . . . .be creative with a black dot and a straight line!

Oh gosh, for a non-artist like me today's challenge 'thrown out' by our
 creative host Michael was really difficult. I searched through many, and
 I mean MANY, of my own photos and couldn't come up with anything to turn
 into a meaningful sketch. I was about give up and then thought
 'stick figure' - anyone can turn one into something made up of a black dot
 and a straight line.

My husband loves baseball. Each Summer he returns to his home town
to meet up with his brother for baseball and beers for a few days.
He'll be off to lovely cooler, greener, New Hampshire next week, enjoying
brotherly pursuits . . . . .and I'll be happy knowing he's happy. . . . . and I 
don't have to cook dinner for a few unbearable hot nights. 
Wine and cheese anyone!

SCRIBBLE PICNIC continues to bring out the best in our 
wonderful artists - do go visit Michael's blog today and see what
they've come up with.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Birds and their offspring. . . . . . . .

The garden has been exceptionally busy these past few weeks - many new
 family members now learning the ropes regarding eating, bathing and doing
whatever parent birds teach their youngsters. We keep the feeders filled - not cheap
 by any means - however we love our birds. The birdbaths are cleaned and refilled for both
 the birds and squirrels during this hot weather, and to get rid of pesky mosquitoes.

Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinenis

Handsome slate-gray bird with black crown and long, thin black bill. 
Often seen with tail lifted exposing a chestnut-colored patch, 
just visible here.

This young catbird is busy learning its way around my garden with
 a parent (male and female have same appearance) close at hand
 on the suet feeder.

A secretive bird, the catbird was named 'Bird That Cries With Grief' by
 the Chippewa Indians due to its raspy call.

Brown Thrasher - Toxostoma rufum

A baby Brown thrasher perched on a birdbath considering a drink or
 a dip perhaps. . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . . while one parent watches from the bench. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . and the other checks out the food supply!

Again, male and female are identical, a little larger than the American robin,
 with streaked breast, rusty coloring, and yellow eyes. The male has the largest
 documented song repertoire of all North American birds with over 1,100 song types.
This pair have either two or three youngsters - lovely to watch them interact.

I actually parked myself in a chair - with a camera of course - on the back deck
 for a while yesterday morning to watch the busy birds and squirrels.
Guess what? Cute squirrel photos coming next time!

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