Monday, November 28, 2011

A Kosher Thanksgiving...

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Well, almost.  It all started in the meat department of the local Shop Rite about a week ago around 7 PM.  I thought, if I go do the holiday shopping on a Sunday night, most people would be home watching football and the trauma of the shopping ordeal would be lessened.  Wrong.

Oh, an empty seat at the big table.
Waiter, sparkling apple cider for everyone!

Having a ball, Emmett's hands
fly over the keys.
For the most part, the aisles were passable....until you got near those free birds.  You know what I'm talking about and it's got nothing to do with Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird.  I think I saw several  older women of the gereatric set heaving those frozen winged creatures like  David heaved that stone that took down Goliath.  I was surprised the stock boys weren't armed with pepper spray.  As fast as they were filling the frozen bins, the birds were either being grabbed up or tossed about as customers sought the biggest and best they could find to grace their Thanksgiving table.

Wait a minute!  Is this the same
stuff everyone else had?
This year I was not going for the whole enchilada but was targeting a turkey breast.  Dinner was going to be small and this would cut back on roasting time and cleanup.  I spotted my  prey and swooped down on the biggest breast I could find in that deep frozen cavern and made my way to checkout .  So there I was, all set to bag (love doing my own bagging) when the teenaged checker asks "Is this the turkey you want?"   "No, of course not, I just put that there to take up space" I'm thinking but respond "Yes it is."  Simple, right?  No.
Lisa supervises a duet by Max and Emmett.

"That'll be $135.82."  I'm thinking, that's a little high.  But wait, "Did you take the (free) turkey off?"  "No, it's not free."  What?  Wait a minute!  I've met my requirements!  I have receipts to prove it!  Your honor, let the record show that I have spent at least $300 in grocery purchases prior to this transaction!  "What do you mean, it's not free?"  "It's Kosher.  Kosher turkeys are not free."  "Well, @&*%!"

Max serenades Nan, his great grandmother.
So, with about 10 people behind me, I have a decision to make.  Do I venture through the 'demiliterized zone' and enter the 'front line' to make an exchange while holding up a line of tired, ready-to-get-angry bird shoppers or pay my bill and calmly walk out of the store while the voice inside my head screams 'How could you be so stupid!  Didn't you read the fine print!'  I pay and walk.

Nate, a domino fan.  In the absence of
dominos, Jenga blocks will do.
Reviewing my receipt, I realize this special turkey breast has cost me $23.  I consult my Jewish friends..."So, what's so special about a Kosher turkey? "  They respond..."You'll see.  You're gonna love it."  They were right.  This was probably the best turkey I've ever had.  It was moist and really flavorful...the kind of turkey you imagine serving but have never come quite close to, the kind that you know tastes  as good as it looks in the Norman Rockwell drawings.
Uncle Ken goofs with Emmett.

I truly hope you had a wonderful, peaceful, and 'flavorful' Thanksgiving holiday.  Tomorrow, Kosher turkey on German pumpernickel for lunch!     And by the way, I went back on Monday night for the free turkey.  Hey, after all, it was FREE!

Friday, November 25, 2011

New England Revisit...

(Click photos to enlarge)

A friend recently posted a wonderful photo of a school bus on her blog 'Besoterio' and I immediately had a flashback to a photo I had taken following a week-long photography class in New Hampshire.

This 'school bus thing' got me paging through a number of photos I had taken that week and the beauty of autumn really hit me.

Route over the Squam River, Ashland, NH
View from the covered bridge.
As winter quickly approaches, I hope you enjoy my trip back in time and a last glimpse at colorful fall in an unbelievably beautiful part of our country.    

Make sure to listen for the loons.  Can you hear them?



Motorcycles use caution!

Old hitching post detail.



Monday, November 21, 2011


(Click on the photos to view large)

A popular fishing spot.

Last week I had the luxury of a few hours to myself. The question of what to do was partially answered by my car dealer.  My one-year old SUV needed a window replaced so that took 2 hours. But, not a total loss, since I was able to get some reading in and concentrate on cleaning my camera equipment.

Pond boat ramp...kept natural
 Then, just before a nice cold rain hit, I was able to head over to Davidson’s Mill Pond Park. It was perfect timing – there were few people there and the area where I’ve wanted to photograph was void of the usual fishermen. No offense to those who fish but I didn’t think they would appreciate my tripod in the middle of their fishing poles and tackle boxes.

Shoreline color.
The shoreline was so quiet, I searched the woods for deer, hoping they would not realize I was there and make a noon time appearance.   Maybe next time.

It was cold, it was cloudy, it was damp, it was wonderful. Sometimes you just need moments when you are solitary and feel totally alone in your surroundings. These moments help us rejuvenate and enable us to go back to the crazies that surround us; the crazies that too often try to devour us.

Two malard couples...a double date perhaps.
Take advantage, appreciate and enjoy your solitary moments and really see your surroundings.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Only 5 minutes!?....I'm so there!

2 loaves - one to keep and one to give to mom
Growing up, I vividly recall the hours and great effort my mother put into baking bread - especially for the Easter holiday.  It wasn't just any bread, it was Russian Easter babka that would be blessed along with a number of other food items that were not to be eaten until after the Resurrection.  As the years have gone by, my mother is no longer able to create that wonderful bread; she is unable to read that old handed-down recipe because of failing eyes and her arthritic hands just can't manage to knead that great bowl of dough over and over again to get that just-right consistency.  It's a sad turn of events...bread is a staple in the Russian culture but especially important during the Easter holiday and she took great joy in it's creation.
Nooks and crannies

So, when I came across a reference to artisan bread in 5 minutes a day via a wonderful blog I follow (Chronicles of a Country Girl), I could not help but get excited.  You see, aside from the fact that my time is limited, I'm not one to stand over a kitchen counter, repeatedly kneading and pounding dough just to have it fall flat in the oven.   Artisan bread you can create in 5 minutes a day...too good to be true, right?  But, after taking a look at the cook book, I could not pass up giving this a try.

This project did not go without some effort.  I made sure I had fresh flour (yes, I haven't baked in some time) and fresh yeast and I was glad to find that old pizza stone hidden behind the cookie sheets.  The results were wonderful!  Aside from that heavenly smell of fresh baking bread throughout the house, the finished product was not just beautiful to look at but just so delicious.
Get the butter, quick!

With Thanksgiving dinner around the corner, maybe you'd like to give this a try but, be warned, the book specifically states you should not cut into the bread until it's thoroughly cooled.       I dare you not to!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A moot point...

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The path around Bissetts Pond
South River, NJ

Lately I’ve been spending some of my free time hiking in a wooded area near home trying to capture some autumn color and just enjoying what so many of us often fail to notice…..mushrooms, beaver activity or a lone deer if you’re lucky, perfect acorns, sunlight filtering through the trees, peace and quiet….you get the picture.

Pine needs of gold and green sparkle in the sun.

After reading the information the ranger provided for hikers, I realized I’ve been referring to the area as the ‘woods’ when, in fact, it’s noted as a ‘forest.’  This realization caused me to start questioning what is a ‘woods’ and what is a ‘forest.’  After looking it up on the Internet (Wow, remember encyclopedias!) I came up with about a half dozen different answers and finally considered it a moot point.  But, is it?

Golden leaves catch a spot of sun through the surrounding tall trees.

 When I think of ‘forest,’ I think of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, Bambi, The Black Forest, and that saying ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees.’  Mention the word ‘woods’ and I immediately have visions of Hansel & Gretel and the old witch, Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf (the same guy that demolished the pigs’ houses), full moons and bats, and some mother shaking her finger at her child, admonishing him not to go into the ‘woods.’  I must confess, walking through the forest alone, I did have an inkling of these ‘woods’ visions for just a moment.

The back of a dying leaf shows
like a topical roadmap.

So maybe it is a moot point.  After all, whether you walk through the forest or the woods, you can still have the same thoughts, still have the same imaginations and still get the same results – beautiful surroundings and peace and quiet.  And if our paths should cross during your next hike, you’ll know me because I’ll be wearing a red hood and looking for Robin Hood.  Oh, I so hope Maid Marian is not around that day!
Silver grass along the shore of the pond.