28 May 2008

A Break

from our feathered friends.  Surely you need one.  

So...  Papaya Quick Bread.  You see, I had that party, and I had planned on making lots of sangria.  Which I did, indeed, make, but I bought much more papaya.  (I made more than one type of sangria.  I've always been an over-achiever.)  So, I had to figure out what to do with all of the left over papaya.  Shakes (batidas) were somewhat uninspiring (although I STILL have some left to try my own creation).  So, I dug a little deeper.  I wasn't in the mood for a salsa, as that also meant that I would have to then make something to accompany the said salsa.  So, quick bread it was... kind of.  Except the recipes that I found had very little papaya and a lot of everything else.  I had to get creative, which also means that YOU get a new recipe!  I still would change things a little more next time around, but here is the recipe as I made it:  

You need:

3 eggs
1C sugar
3/4 C applesauce
1C shredded carrot
2 1/2 C smashed ripe papaya
1t salt
4C flour (I used 3C unbleached white and 1C whole wheat)
1T baking soda
1t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

You do:

1.  Preheat the oven to 325F and coat either 2 regular-sized or 4 medium-sized loaves with oil, butter, or cooking spray.
2.  Mix together the eggs, sugar, and applesauce at slow speed for 1-2 minutes.
3.  Add in the carrots and papaya, mix 1-2 minutes.
4.  Add the flours, salt, spices and baking soda, and beat at medium for about 2 minutes.  Do not over-mix (just until blended), or your breads will fall flat and heavy.
5.  Pour into the loaf pans.  
6.  If you are using the regular-sized, bake 55-60 minutes; if the medium, bake about 40 minutes.  (You could do muffins baked about 18-20 minutes, too.)  All until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
7.  Allow to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before placing on cooling racks.
8.  Allow to cool on cooling racks completely before wrapping.

(If you don't have a standing mixer, do this:  Mix eggs, sugar, applesauce in a large bowl.  Mix completely.  Add the carrot and papaya to this.  Mix the dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking soda, spices) in a medium bowl.  Add the dry TO the wet ingredients and mix again.  This is where you DO NOT over-mix--just until blended.  Then go to step 5 above.)

Eat well  :)

Now, as I said, I will do differently next time:  I like carrots well enough, but cannot really figure out why they are here.  So, I would get rid of them altogether, and replace that cup with more papaya.  Also, although this is a good sweetness for me, I don't like very sweet things.  So I have a feeling that R (and the majority of you) would prefer more sugar.  (He'll try it tonight.)  In that case, either more sugar inside, or a caramelized topping would be good.  And, I don't know, those spices... I saw one recipe that called for a tablespoon (!!!) of cinnamon and a teaspoon of nutmeg (yes, for the same final quantity).  Even though I am using SOOO much less than that, it's still kind of overpowering.  I might just cut them out completely next time.  I guess we'll know more next time I overbuy for sangria!  :)

27 May 2008


the hawk (a Red-Tailed Hawk, I later researched, who, by the way, looked like this) never came back... so far, I guess.  There is always tomorrow.  

The little one (Saturday) is growing.  Daddy leaves the nest more frequently, now.  I look out to just see Saturday (or the squab, as he is properly called) there; sometimes with dad hanging out on the balcony rail.  Finally, the days are getting a little warmer, too.  Interestingly, Mommy doesn't seem to have a problem staying on the nest all night long!

Both Mommy and Daddy make the cheesy milk that the squabs eat, until they are about a month old.  At that point, Daddy takes over with the food production, and general feeding.  

The squabs stay in the nest until they are six to eight weeks old.  (Oops, underestimated that one...)  Although they start flying at about 4 weeks.  (That should be fun!)  

While I am at it, I had mentioned the book, Extraordinary Pigeons in an earlier post.  Well, this guy, in Utah, actually breeds and sells pigeons of some of the varieties that are mentioned in the book.  So, if you think that they are exotic and not to be found, think again.  His photos are quite nice.  

22 May 2008

Oh... My...G....!!!

Originally, I was going to write, today, a little eulogy... to the little life that was one of the pigeon chicks on the balcony. I honestly do not know what happened.

Whether he was ill, or hurt, but yesterday, I noticed that he was out of the nest...but within centimeters of it. Initially, he was active, and throughout the day, he stayed out... until the evening, when we went to check on him. (It has been a TERRIBLY cold May, and the nights are especially frigid.) By then, his breathing appeared agonal, and he would spread his weak little wings every 3-5 minutes. It was heart-breaking, especially with Mommy and his sibling just a few centimeters away. R suggested that we roll up a T-shirt to block out the wind around him for the night--'just in case.' So, I did.

First thing this morning, I checked on them. As expected--he was just a little heap of yellow and grey feathers. No breaths, no stretches. As R said, "animals act on instinct," there must have been something wrong. I added, "because of course Mommy and Daddy were strong enough to bring baby back into the nest if he had simply wandered out..."

So, as I said, I was ~originally~ going to write about that, but, um, now we have bigger fish to fry. I came home this afternoon. Took a step towards the balcony, and looked straight into the eyes of a... HAWK. I kid you not. I am not talking about a Peregrine Falcon

No siree. This was a real, in-the-flesh (and feathers) hawk. Holy crap. My stomach fell. I really felt like I was looking into the eyes of a predator. He was HUGE--just under 2 feet tall. I opened the window to scare him, but he wasn't scared. He actually stared right back at me, and, on top of it, I briefly entertained the idea of, "What if he flew into the apartment after me?!" Of course, of course, my luck was that the battery in the camera was DEAD--as a doornail, dead. Next, I looked at the nest, both babies (live and ~gulp~ not) there, with no parents in sight (yeah, I guess that makes sense...). So, I yelled at him, and wildly flapped my arms around. At that point, he finally lazily turned tail and flew away. The felines, of course, slept through the whole thing.

Now, of course, I keep looking back at the balcony--to see if HE comes back, but also because now I'm (again) freaked that the parents won't come back. And now, I wonder if he was who originally hurt the other little one, or who Daddy was fighting with a couple of days ago--remember?

Not much is going to get done today, I fear. I am on the look-out.

19 May 2008

Cookbooks... and gardens... et al

Completely a self-absorbed, me, all about me, kind of post.  

I desperately want this cookbook!  I adore Jamie Oliver's style, and I have one of his cookbooks.  Since I now also have my little AeroGarden (where the --2 kinds of-- basil, by the way, threatens to take over the kitchen on a daily basis), I really, really want this book.  

By the way, the thyme is not far behind.  The mint, dill, and *finally,* the chives are just fine, thank you, but the parsley, oh, the parsley.  Well, let's just say that, to their credit, if you have something that is failing in your AeroGrow, the kind people will replace that pod.  Sadly, I just realized that!  A FULL four weeks into growth--yikes.  Now, I cannot raise the lamps, and I have to keep cutting back all the herbs... Let's just say it hurts, just a little.  Of course it's just grand that the herbs grow without soil, but I do love outdoor gardens, too.  Oh, well, we New Yorkers make do.  Next, I think, will be the Japanese herbs... but that is many, many months away... by then, I may change my mind to the chiles and tomatoes, or, who knows, there are so many choices...  (OK, I know, I've completely derailed this... I have to change the title.  There, that's better.)

As an aside, considering the girl-cat's panache for anything green or flowery, I am simply AMAZED that she has not yet discovered the herbs!!  :) 

To finalize the haphazardness of my thoughts, and in case anyone is wondering:  The pigeons did just fine for the party this weekend.  The balcony remained blocked off, and the guests did not even complain, too much.  Mommy stayed on the chicks throughout, keeping them warm.  (It has been quite a cold May!)  

Speaking of that, Daddy got into a bit of a scuffle today.  I don't know exactly what happened, but I heard all sorts of pigeon noises at one point.  When I looked out, I saw a pigeon that looked ~almost~ like Daddy chasing another pigeon away.  I then realized that it WAS Daddy, and that the ~almost~ was because he had been pecked at!  Now, he has some loose white feathers high on his chest.  Once the intruder was gone, he went back and settled on the wriggling, peeping little yellow chicks in the nest.  And all was right with the world, again.  :)

Ok, so I guess the post wasn't all about me, after all...


There is a new FDA recall--this one is again a big deal in the medical world.  Apparently, Medicis realized they accidently mislabeled a bottle of azathioprine--an immunosuppressant--with minocycline--an antibiotic!!  Then, it went out with the lot of antibiotics, of course.  So, now they are recalling the minocycline, which they brand as Solodyn.  (They brand azathioprine as Azasan.)

Here is their own recall page.

If you may have taken the implied medication, please contact your physician immediately.  

18 May 2008

Right on Time

18 days I read, and 18 days it was--We have pigeon babies--chicks!!  One was born Friday, the other Saturday--both exactly 18 days from the days their respective eggs were laid.  So, R decided we should call them "Friday" and "Saturday."  I know, very imaginative, but, really, what DO you call pigeons, anyway?  

So, now they will stay in the nest for roughly a month.  Learning the pigeon ways, tricks of the trade, and all.  And then, well, off they go, I suppose.  That's when I get my balcony back.  

For now, they are TINY, and very weak.  They literally cannot hold their little heads up, and their eyes are humungous!  In puppies and kittens, the paws are huge, in pigeons--eyes!  

Mom and dad still take turns keeping them warm--these little ones cannot regulate their body temperature, yet.  They have to be kept together--the siblings, that is--or they get lonely.  They don't mind letting  you know, either.  They'll make lots of noise until their brother or sister is next to them.  Both parents make milk to feed them.  Lots of teamwork!  :)  

Everything is as it should be.  

Oh, I should also let you know that there is a great book, called Extraordinary Pigeons.   It's quite amazing, and will change the way you think of these birds. 

01 May 2008

More about pigeons...

Did you know that pigeons weigh less than a pound?! That's pretty amazing, but I suppose it should be intuitive, in a sense. I mean, they do have to be airborne, and considering that they reach speeds of 50, yes, FIFTY, miles/hour, they should be light. They just look bigger, I guess.

Did you also know that they seem to be the only (?) bird with such amazing color variation? I mean look at them--it seems that no two are alike. Some are all grey, all white (doves, after all, are pigeons with another name), all brown, some with white-, or black-tipped wings, some spotted, some banded (or striped) some with iridescent greens, reds, or blues around their necks, or on their proud bellies. They really are amazing.

Our couple is gorgeous. Never mind that the daddy is quite skittish. He got ridiculously frightened as I tried to open the window yesterday. (End result--window didn't get opened, and he returned to nest within 2 minutes.) Back to colors: the female is just -gentle- there is really no other word for her color or manner. She is beautiful, pale grey, with a few spots. She is quite small, too. She walks slowly on small grey feet, but is proud and determined. Daddy is much larger, probably twice her size. He looks more like a 'typical' pigeon in some respects--he is a darker grey, with a pale belly and darker yet tips to the wings. His distinguishing feature --and maybe why she fell for him? :) --are the iridescent green and red patches around his neck. I already wrote of his propensity to run. Oh, and he has red feet. They both have very clear eyes.

303 species, right in all of our backyards, and they seem to be the birds that we know the least about. So, Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY, is doing a program to try to change that. It's quite interesting. Please take a look--maybe you'd like to become a pigeon watcher, and help out. :)