26 July 2010

The Best Roast Beef Ever

Last week I thawed a rump roast, grass fed, purchased from Whole Foods some weeks ago. I grew up on a ranch on grass fed beef and now it's the "thing". At any rate, I wanted to make a nice dish and am a bit bored with the traditional slow-cooked roast beef of my traditional upbringing. Additionally, we have great neighbors who are regularly willing guinea pigs to my curiosity with new dishes (even such that they would eat stew in the heat of an Iowa Summer!). At 4:30pm on the day of our dinner, I found a recipe on my new favorite site: simplyrecipes.com(any website with a "Gluten Free" section is a favorite!) and began the process of preparing my treasured beef via the instructions of Carbonnade Beef & Beer Stew.Carbonnade: Beef and Beer Stew While there a few improvisions, I followed this recipe pretty much to the "t" (a rare thing in my kitchen). I used baked in olive oil and sea salt, Ore Ida fries instead of noodles or potatoes and this sealed this great deal.

24 July 2010

The Sphinx Humingbird Moth

Having never seen a Humingbird, my husband and I thought that might be what were seeing an evening last week. After a very fun, multi-lens, photography session, he and I researched and realized we had a couple (at least) of White-Lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moths. We had a blast capturing these resourceful fellows. In the four summers we have lived in Western Iowa, we have never seen these before...must be all the rain!

Attributes of Hyles lineata

Family: Sphinx Moths, Hawkmoths (Sphingidae)

Subfamily: Macroglossinae (Macroglossinae)

Barn Swallow Babies

We have 5 new Barn Swallows at our house. They hatched in their mud nest (braced by a random nail sticking out of the under-frame of our deck) at the begging of this month and learned to fly within the last 48 hours. This process of getting these 5 into the world started many weeks ago however. As is frequently the case, a pair of swallows prefers a nest on our deck over our deck lights. In so many ways, these birds truly are a "friend of the farm" since they eat a ton of insects and are appealing to look at with a soft song. However, I did not want their nest on my deck outside of our door so round and round we went right light to left light and finally they found their current spot and I relinquished my efforts and began to admire the month-long process of the nest construction. We have had approximately 6 inches of rain since their mud nest was built and it is completely safe from this wet weather. There are frequent cultural references to the Barn Swallow in literary and religious works due to both its living in close proximity to humans and its conspicuous annual migration. The Barn Swallow is the national bird of Estonia.
The first pictures on this post weretaken on July 11th and the last pictures, their day of flight were taken on the 22nd. What an amazing pace of of hatching to flying! Keerat described them as having little football helmets. It was as amazing to watch the adult birds, up to 15 at a time, keeping vigil on the power lines above. The way we see it, we have 5 more insect eaters living at our house!
Their first day of flight took them to the deck to which their home was built. They spent all morning cleaning and arranging their new big bird feathers. There were 2 who took an extra day to leave the nest but all are officially fliers now.

19 July 2010

Our backyard is a steep hill into a clearing where we can see glimmers of the sun set. Never in my years of appreciating sunsets have I seen such a distinct water-color of pink, purple and blue contrasted with the black shadow of the trees. It reminded me of my grade school art classes in which we created pictures by scratching off black crayon over watercolor or marker and then it reminded of my grade school art teacher Joan, a renowned oil painter and dedicated to her talent. Maximizing your talent is sharing it with budding minds when they are most influenced in hope that even if they don't have all of the talent to live as an artist, they will appreciate the world differently, maybe via a sunset many years later.
Posted by Picasa