Tag Archive | family

Mom! Mom! Mom!

It’s BABY BIRD time again! Nothing screams Spring like seeing all the little critters coming out. The first chicks I’ve seen this year are these three Common Starlings. They sure were a squawky bunch of kids. I heard them before I looked out the window to see them.  They are sitting on the yew that is right below the suet cage. These guys weren’t hip to landing on the swinging cage. I can’t imagine they have many hours on their pilots licenses yet, as their landings were a bit rough, especially when the branch bounces as each one lands.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

My Mom’s Favorite Thing…

imageI’ve been doing a lot of de-cluttering. I have had some stuff since I don’t know when. Time to cut some ties. If I ever intend on becoming a full-time RV-er, the load must be lightened.

I did come across some things I totally forgot I had. Yup. The problems of a hoarder 😉

I did find one of my Mothers favorite things.

This it a ‘Round Tuit’. These are worth their weight in gold, and then some. These can move mountains, end wars or make a child clean their room…

Just in case it was only your first cup of coffee this morning, ‘Round Tuit’ is a play on words, re-interpreting the idiom to get around to it as get a round tuit. First used at the 1964 World’s Fair which was held in Queens (Flushing).

I bet you’ll put it on your Christmas list now, huh?!?

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Fried Turkey, Cranberries, Stuffin’ et all!

This is a reblog of my recipes for my cranberries and stuffing =-)

We’ve been frying our turkey for years now. I’m not going to get into all the rules for frying here, although there are some funny EPIC FAILS on this topic!

I will share my recipe for stuffing though. Many who have come over to my house for Turkey Fry Friday in the past have asked me for it.

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I am horrible about placing ‘amounts’ on ingredients, as I add more of what I like and less of what I don’t. With this recipe, there really is no wrong answer. However, have these thing for the base and add things you like including: pork sausage, celery, carrots, use cornbread instead of plain bread, cranberries, raisins, water chestnuts (nice crunch!) or even nuts.

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Melt a stick of butter in a large pot. Cut up and combine everything except the chicken broth and stuffing. Here you see: Onion, Mushrooms, Celery and Apples.

I’m not really cooking it, just getting it started. I then add my seasonings like: Onion powder, salt/pepper, garlic, rosemary and of course some thyme. After this, I add my chicken broth.

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I then put my stuffing into a large bowl.

**As my family celebrated Thanksgiving November 2nd this year, ironically, I could not find stuffing (dried bread quarters) to save my life. I used fresh bread this time and the stuffing turned out like a bread pudding. Actually, everyone liked it more than normal!

Back to the directions…

Pour the pot mix over the stuffing and mix. Depending on how you like your stuffing (dry or moist) add more chicken broth or more stuffing to compensate. At this point I take a taste to see what I came up with. I tend to make mine moist, however you will loose some moisture cooking, be aware.

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Smash either into your turkey or into a oven safe dish if you are frying. Remember, you CANNOT fry the turkey stuffed. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.

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Although you really don’t need to inject anything into the bird for moisture, we like to add some garlic butter for some zing.

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Although my family loves the jelly-type cranberry sauce, I find it quite disgusting. This year I made fresh cranberry sauce, something I never thought of doing. It was a big smack to the head as to how easy it is and why I’ve not been doing it over the years.

  • 12oz of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water

Other additions (after cooking): orange slices, raisins, cinnamon..

Boil all 3 ingredients while stirring until the berries ‘pop’. You will hear it. Then remove from heat, let cool and add other enhancements if wanted.

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Turkey Time!!

Most of the fails happen upon entry. Be sure your turkey is defrosted, dry (water will make it splatter) and you use the ‘2 person + pole’ method of dunking for safety.

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Almost down!

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It only takes 3 1/2 minutes per pound @ 350F. Pretty quick, IMO.

Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!!

Copyright – Ilex Farrell

Hummingbird Nest

While we were camping at Illinois State Beach, we noticed a hummingbird  coming and going into the tree above our camper. After a lot of searching, we finally noticed the nest above our camper, with one baby in it. The nest was well hidden and mom was smart and used two cones of the Scots pine for the base.

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Male hummingbirds don’t help the female build the nest (or helps at all, really) and she will spend several hours a day for week collecting materials to build her nest. The most common nesting materials found in hummingbird nests include:

  • Cotton fibers
  • Moss and lichen
  • Plant down from thistles, dandelions or cattails
  • Small bits of bark or leaves
  • Feathers
  • Fuzz, fur or hairs from leaves
  • Spider silk

These materials are intertwined into a dense cup that is decorated with moss, lichen and other local materials for camouflage. The edge of the cup is curved inward to protect the eggs and the spider silk gives the nest it elasticity to enlarge as the babies grow.

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Help hummers build heir nests by planting clematis, honeysuckle, milkweed (Asclepia) and blanket flower (Gaillardia). Pasque flowers offer both soft foliage with silken hairs and mid-spring flowers followed by fuzzy seedpods.

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Hummingbird eggs are no bigger than navy beans. Most females lay two eggs, which they will incubate for about 15 – 18 days. Juvenile hummingbirds will leave the nest about 18 to 27 days after hatching.

A neighbor of the hummingbird was a chipping sparrow, with one egg.

 


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Garden of the Gods – Shawnee National Forest

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The Shawnee landscape took millions of years to form the Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois. Long ago most of Illinois, western Indiana and western Kentucky were covered by a giant inland sea. Millions of years ago, great rivers carried sand and mud to this inland sea where it settled along the shoreline. Over time, the enormous weight of the sediments turned them into layers of rock, thousands of feet thick. At the Garden of the Gods, the sediment layers averaged over 20,000 feet thick or about 4 miles deep.

Ultimately, a great uplift occurred raising the inland sea above sea level causing it to fill in with sand and mud. The uplift also fissured the bedrock uncovering it to erosion including windblown sand, rain, freezing-thaw actions, which wore down the layers of sediment creating the stunning rock formations at Garden of the Gods.

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This place was so beautiful with its large boulders that looked like rock stacked art. You can also learn about what happens when an unstoppable object meets an unmovable object..

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They call the tall stack to the left ‘Devil’s Smokestack’. To help with scale, there is a human on the top of the ridge to the top right.

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The colors are magnificent! So many minerals, so much mixing. Looks like nail art to me! 😉

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I love these steps.

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Yodel-Lay-Hee-Hoo!!!

 

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Cave in Rock State Park

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Looking at the cave from the Kentucky side of the Ohio river. The whole photo encompasses Cave-in Rock State Park. The cave can barely be seen to the right.

When my husband told me he wanted to go to ‘Cave in Rock’ State Park, I thought there may be lots of landslides there… Punctuation and emphasis are heavy’s in this phrase. For I took it as ‘Cave-in! Rock!’ or as in ‘the Rock is Caving in’. The true definition is ‘Cave IN Rock’ as in ‘there is a cave in this rock’. I’m not sure where else there may be a cave? Anyone?

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Now we’re right over the cave. This is a good 40′ feet high and a straight drop in. The coolest thing is that we could see the large (invasive) Asian carp swimming below.

Cave-In-Rock in southern Illinois sits atop the high bluffs overlooking the scenic Ohio River and surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest. The heavily wooded park is named for the 55-foot-wide cave that was carved out of the limestone rock by water thousands of years ago.

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Here are the limestone walls near the cave and the entrance of the cave. Limestone formations were formed via the glaciers and the nearby Ohio river.

The first European explorer to visit this area was M. de Lery of France, who in 1729 called it ‘caverne dans Le Roc’. The cave was frequently mentioned by later travelers in diaries and journals.

We saw too much graffiti in the cave, whether it be spray paint or carving. So sad. Why do people feel the need to cause such destruction. Leave some rock stack art instead!! It was fascinating tho, that during the year of 2011, many names were added to the ceiling. Yes, that means the water was that high!

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All the colorful minerals. There is just a bit of light coming from the nearby crack in the ceiling.

The cave served as a backdrop for a scene in the movie “How The West Was Won”. The scene was a near-accurate portrayal of how, in the 18th and 19th centuries, ruthless bandits used the cave to lure unsuspecting travelers to an untimely end.

In 1929, the State of Illinois acquired 64.5 acres for a park that since has increased to 204 acres. The well-wooded, 60-foot-high hills and the rugged bluffs along the river – commanding expansive views of the famous waterway – became Cave-In-Rock State Park.

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Lookin’ out onto the Ohio river.

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Holes in the walls have become bird houses.

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Petrified wood in the limestone.

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All the boys in a nearby alcove, the boys and me at the entrance to the cave.

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The light that lights up the main cavern comes from this crack.

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Little Oreo has been in rivers, but none as large as the Ohio. When a barge passed and created a few waves at the shore, Oreo didn’t understand and growled and bit at the waves.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Saganaki – Flaming Greek Cheese

It’s been for-EVER since I have made Saganaki or Flaming Greek cheese. It is really easy to make.

Finding the cheese is the tough part 😉

Cut the cheese (giggle) in 1/2 inch (1 CM) slices – Kasseri or Kofalotiri cheese works best.

Put your pan on high heat, add olive oil and get your cheese ready.

Cut a lemon in half and pick out the seeds. Pour a shot of Brandy. Drink. Pour one more for the cheese…

I dredge the cheese through some whipped egg and lightly flour them. Drop in pan carefully.

Brown on both sides, about 3 minutes each side.

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After browning, pour the brandy shot over the cheese and ignite!! Yell “OPA”

Put out the fire with the lemon.

Serve with crunchy French bread. YUM!!

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl