Friday, September 13, 2019


Today, while my husband mowed the lawn, I started trimming some of the plants and shrubs that look like they were dragged behind a fast moving car on a dirt road. I know I’m jumping the gun on my transitional plan of moving from summer to autumn this year, but our outdoor vegetation seemed to have reached its peak and gone over the proverbial edge.

Most of the leaves on the flowers are brittle and brown. The ferns are brown-tipped and tired-looking. The Black-eyed Susans have lost all their petals. And many other drooping flowers have gone to seed with the exception of goldenrod and asters that line the roads.

So when exactly is fall?  This year, it will be Monday, September 23rd. The first day of fall lands on the Autumnal Equinox in the northern hemisphere and lasts until the Winter Solstice in December which starts on the 21st —the shortest day of the year—and in the Northern Hemisphere, the darkest day. 

In the stores and landscape centers, mums, gourds, and pumpkins have popped up on displays. Pumpkin spiced coffee is in the cafes and donut shops, and apples are piled high in the supermarkets. Cider is now available.  The scents of cinnamon and nutmeg drift in the air.

 I have to admit, autumn is one of my favorite seasons. It brings cooler, crisp temperatures, colorful maples leaves, and a cozy feeling when you break out the homey fall foods. What is better than the smell of a roast with vegetables in the oven, pumpkin pies or cookies baking, or applesauce simmering on the stovetop? And who doesn’t like a cup of hot chocolate at night?

Are you a fan of fall? Or do you like another season better? 

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Saturday, September 7, 2019


September is here and so are the pumpkins. Leaves are beginning to dry or take on color, sumac is turning red--and all the smells of autumn waft in the air. Everyone knows I’m a fan of the taste of pumpkin whether it's pumpkin cookies or pumpkin pie (with lots of Kool Whip or ice cream to accompany it). Here is a little recipe for pumpkin cake.


 Pumpkin Cake with Apple Cider Glaze

For the Cake:
1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree           

For the Glaze:
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons apple cider
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Empty the contents of the boxed cake mix and pumpkin puree into a large bowl. Using a hand-mixer or stand mixer beat until well incorporated. The batter will be very thick, but will come together nicely.

Pour batter into a greased 7 x 11 X 2 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over bake.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then flip onto a platter.

Make the glaze while you're waiting.

Combine powdered sugar, apple cider and pumpkin pie spice. Glaze should be thick but pourable. Add more sugar or cider if needed. Pour over the cake while still warm. Reserve some to pour over each slice when served.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

We Got Skunked!

            A group of striped skunks have invaded out neighborhood. We noticed them one night as they emerged to eat the seeds dropped from our bird feeders. Earlier, I had seen holes scattered around our yard where they had dug for insects, mushrooms, earthworms, grasshoppers, beetles and grubs. I later found out they eat wasps and honeybees as well.
Skunks will eat honeybees.
Skunks are adept at digging.
The striped skunk range covers most of the continental United States from Canada to Mexico. A group of skunks is called a surfeit, and they travel no more than two miles from their dens or from a water source. They have poor eyesight, but excellent hearing and smell. In the wild, they live from 2-4 years and weight 6-10 pounds.
Best known for their black fur coat with a white stripe running up their back, these mammals are nocturnal—active at night—and for the most part, are generally solitary creatures that live and forge alone. However, they are known to hibernate during the coldest months in winter where they gather in communal dens for warmth.
Mating season is one of the only other times when they tend to socialize. The females have litters of one to seven young kits in late April through early June.
Skilled little diggers? You bet. They are proficient excavators with five clawed toes and can damage foundations when they tunnel underneath a home or a building to take up residence. A burrow can reach three to four feet below ground and six to twenty feet long, ending in round chambers lined with leaves and grass. Our furry Pepe Le Pews dug their burrows under the cement foundation of one of our pole buildings.
Everyone knows skunks are notorious for the foul odor of their spray, but did you know that they are almost predator-free creatures with only the great horned owl as an enemy? Their defense mechanism—their sulfuric spray—is capable of reaching 10 feet and the odor can be detected up to 1.5 miles away.
Although skunks may appear to be cute and furry, they carry many diseases including leptospirosis, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, intestinal roundworm, and rabies.
How do you rid your yard of them?  Professional trappers are the easiest means. To date, five have been removed from our yard and our neighbor’s property.
I’m hoping they will all be removed… and long-lost relatives do not show up for a late summer visit. 


Thursday, August 8, 2019

BON APPETITE - August is SALSA Month!

It's that time of the year when the tomatoes are ripening faster than we can eat them. This is an ideal time to make salsa.

  • 4 cups chopped peeled fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt - optional
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped find - optional
In a bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Let stand for about 1 hour. Serve at room temperature. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Yield: 3-1/2 cups. You can substitute lime juice instead of vinegar.

Friday, July 19, 2019

ICE CREAM . . .in a cone, please.

Wafer Cones
July is the month to enjoy special summer treats like watermelon, key lime and peach pie, blueberry cobbler, strawberry shortcake—and ice cream, my favorite of all! Whether it’s a waffle cone, sugar cone or wafer cone, as long as it’s filled with ice cream, I’m in summer dessert heaven.

The first ice cream cone was produced in 1896 by Italo Marchiony, who emigrated from Italy in the late 1800s and invented his ice cream cone in New York City. He was granted a patent in December 1903, although July 23, 1904, is credited as the day and year the cone was invented.
Waffle Cone
A similar creation was independently introduced in 1904 at St. Louis World's Fair by Ernest A. Hamwi, a Syrian concessionaire. Hamwi was selling a crisp, waffle-like pastry called zalabis, in a booth right next to an ice cream vendor. When the ice cream vendor ran out of dishes, Hamwi saw an easy solution to the problem. He rolled one of his wafer-like waffles in the shape of a cone, or cornucopia, and gave it to the ice cream vendor. The cone cooled in a few seconds. The ice cream vendor loaded it with ice cream. The customers were happy. And the idea of an edible cone came into existence as part of our staple desserts in America.
Soon thereafter, ice cream cone businesses and factories sprung up creating all types of cones from the rolled cone which was  baked as a waffle to the batter-made molded ones.

What followed next were the many, many flavors of ice cream created to fill those wonderful, walk-around, funnel-like inventions. So when you buy or fill a cone with your favorite ice cream this summer, you’re eating a piece of history dating back over a century ago.

I have to admit, vanilla is still my favorite flavor of ice cream, followed by butter pecan—heaped in a sugar waffle cone. When you’re trying to beat the summer heat, do you have a favorite flavor and a special kind of cone you like the best?