Saturday, May 28, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day has always been a special day for us - to remember and celebrate my sister Marcia's birthday on May 30, and to visit the cemeteries where our families are buried. We also made an afternoon of taking fresh peonies to the cemeteries and visiting grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles grave sites.

And we always then enjoyed some traditional Memorial Day food - grilled chicken and ribs, home-made potato salad, baked beans, deviled eggs, and yummy desserts. I have a dessert to share with you today.

Whoopie Pies

From Food Network Kitchens

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet.

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey's
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons fine salt
18 large marshmallows (not minis)

Put the unsweetened and semisweet chocolates and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl; heat at 75 percent power until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir, and continue to microwave until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. (Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)

Whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until smooth.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into another bowl. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until moistened. Switch to a rubber spatula and finish folding the batter together; take care not to over-mix.

Use a small cookie scoop or spoon to drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto the prepared pan. Repeat to make 36 cookies, spacing them about 1-inch apart. Bake until the cookies spring back when lightly touched, about 6 minutes.

Cool the cookies slightly. Transfer half of the cookies to a rack. Turn the remaining cookies on the pan over, so they lay flat side up. Place a marshmallow on top of each flipped cookie and return pan to the oven. Cook just until the marshmallow begins to soften and puff, about 3 minutes. Cool marshmallow topped cookies slightly, about 2 minutes. Top with the remaining cookies, pressing lightly to make sandwiches. Cool whoopee pies completely on wire racks. Serve. Store in tightly sealed container for up to 1 week.

Enjoy your Memorial Day, and remember our troops!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blue Jays vs Hawk

Tonight Wayne and I were sitting on the back porch eating our supper when I spotted a hawk in a tree at the edge of our yard. All of the other birds disappeared - most went into hiding in the wisteria bushes. And all was quiet... until a pair of blue jays let the hawk know that this was their backyard. They dive bombed the hawk, until the hawk flew to the opposite side of the yard, and they dive bombed it again and chased it on down the street. Blue jays are noisy anyway, and you should have heard the racket they created as they chased this hawk out of the yard.

Soon the birds were back on the feeder. Here are some special guests at the feeders tonight, and one bluebird who chose to land on the cable line.

This red-breasted woodpecker is a frequent visitor to the feeder. He usually gets the feeder to himself.  The white bucket behind the feeder is a baffle to keep the squirrels out of the feeders. It works most of the time.

This is the first time we have spotted the female rose-breasted grosbeak eating the corn. She very meticulously plucked off a kernel, ate it, and helped herself to another kernel.

This bluebird landed on the cable line and waited for me to snap his picture. We have a bluebird box on a tree out in the yard. They loved it earlier this week when I mowed the yard - they swooped down to get the bugs I had stirred up.

Jenny wren has built nests in both wren houses now - guess they can't decide which one to set up house in.

All of our backyard birds certainly do give us a sideshow, especially in the evening when they come in to feed. We like our feathered friends.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Enjoy our Backyard Birds...and Tuffy too!

While cleaning our back porch this morning, I sat and watched the birds that come to our feeders every day. Soon I grabbed my camera so I could share them with you - we feed the birds year-round so have many that stay here all year long. In addition to the cardinals, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, hummingbirds, and American goldfinches that I photographed, I also saw some hairy woodpeckers, titmouses, mourning doves, sparrows, and wrens. What fun to listen to all of them singing their songs. Needless to say, we buy sunflower seed in 50 pound bags. :-)

Here is my Smilebox album of photos of the birds in our backyard today...

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cosmati Pavement at the Royal Wedding

The Cosmati Pavement at the Royal Wedding in Westminster Abbey - looks like a quilt, doesn't it?