Archive for January 2014

Top 10 Vegetables   1 comment

VegetablesIt was another creation from Velda’s kitchen … and it got me thinking. What are my favorite vegetables?

Mind you, not a conversation with self that I would have had 30 years ago. But what is age if you can’t enjoy a bit of perspective?

So what are my favorite vegetables? 30 years ago, the answer would have been easy: green beans. Today, it’s a little murkier. Still, here are my Top 10 Favorite Vegetables, in classic Top 10 style:

Number 10: Black Beans. I’m pretty sure I’d never even seen a black bean until I moved to California. No matter; they are infinitely better than pinto beans, and will always be my choice at every Mexican restaurant that gives me a choice.

Number 9: Lima Beans. This forlorn vegetable would have probably been ranked more favorably … but Velda hates them. She will condescend to make me lima beans about once every 6 months … and that means she doesn’t really put much creativity into the presentation. I really like lima beans, but Velda cooks so many other vegetables so much better, I have no choice but to rank them poorly. Yes, it’s her fault.

Salt & pepper to taste. Sprinkle with finely minced fresh parsley, if desired.

Salt & pepper to taste. Sprinkle with finely minced fresh parsley, if desired.

Number 8: Carrots. If you haven’t tasted her wonderful Honey Glazed Carrots, then you don’t know carrots. Try them; they will rock your world.

Number 7: Brussel Sprouts. This is actually the much-maligned vegetable that got me to thinking this evening. The recommended recipe is MrsMowry’s Brussel Sprouts. Get them fresh – not bitter – and these will do you right.

Number 6: Green Beans. No vegetable dish from Velda’s kitchen has drawn as much ire from the children as Green Bean Casserole: the only demanded vegetable on the holiday table. The kids went into open rebellion when Velda began to mess with the recipe. I really thought we’d have a violent incident the year she substituted fresh green beans for Del Monte. That was simply not acceptable. Don’t mess with the recipe: French’s Green Bean Casserole.

Number 5: Tomatoes. OK, OK. Tomatoes are a fruit. I don’t care. They are a garden vegetable, and there is nothing like flavorful, fresh tomatoes on burgers. Or with cottage cheese. Or on a salad. Tomatoes. Love’em.

Number 4: Chocolate. The kids were taught that chocolate was a vegetable by Aunt Sis, and that makes as much sense as the vegetable machinations performed by your local school system. If they can say that ketchup is a vegetable, then this makes sense. Chocolate should be a part of a balanced diet. ’nuff said.

Green Bean 51Number 3: Green Beans. When not in a casserole, green beans should be sautèed and served with onions and bacon. Here’s the recipe: Velda’s Green Beans. You can thank me later.

Number 2: Spaghetti Squash. This must be the dark horse candidate, as this vegetable has never been mentioned in the blog before. However, its a wonderful addition to just about any meal. If only Velda served Spaghetti Squash more often, I might be able to photograph the process and share a recipe. You can only hope (with me) that I can do this some day.

Mushroom 34Number 1: Mushrooms. This a no brainer. I’ve written about my favorite morels, in Hunting Mushrooms With Grandpa. And then, of course, there was Wild Mushroom Cobbler. Don’t deprive yourself: get you some ‘shrooms. Swiss & mushrooms are now a part of my favorite burger. Stuffed mushrooms are my favorite appetizer (and ask Velda to make them again, please, for Superbowl Sunday … and I’ll blog the recipe!).

What’s missing from my Top 10? Onions & garlic. Though they’re a part of just about every good meal … I simply could not include them in this list. In my eyes, they are flavors. Spices. Not a vegetable to be requested as a side dish.

This is a wonderful soup, but the presentation makes it better!

This is a wonderful soup, but the presentation makes it better!

I probably should have included celeriac. However, since I’m in America where no one knows what the heck that is, it’s out. Americans don’t know celeriac … unless they’ve had this wonderful recipe: Velda’s Celery Root Soup. If you think it’s time for soup … make this soup. And thank me later.

MrsMowry will probably hit me in the face when she sees me next, as I’ve left potatoes off the list. Sorry, m’lady. Mashed potatoes are fabulous. Your potato pizza is the bomb. But … not a Top 10 item. Make me some and change my mind. Please.

If I missed your favorite, PLEASE add your Top 10 list below. I really want to see if any of my dear readers can find a place on their list for kale. Or okra. Or beets. Or asparagus. Or turnips. Or peppers. Or pumpkin.

So, what’s your list???

More

Monticello.org: Thomas Jefferson’s Favorite Vegetables

WashingtonPost.com: A Dietician’s Favorite Vegetables

Klat.com: Everyone’s Six Least Favorite Vegetables

TasteOfHome.com: Top 10 Grilled Vegetable Recipes

DinnerWasDelicious.com: Most Of Our Favorite Vegetables Are Not Vegetables

AVeggieVenture.com: Favorite Recipes For Thanksgiving’s Top Twelve Favorite Vegetables

Posted January 22, 2014 by henrymowry in Living Life

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The Beauty Of The Tetons   3 comments

Grand Teton NP 04:  Photo and caption by Glen Hush/National Geographic Photo Contest - www.ngphotocontest.com) I had been in Teton National Park for 5 days and hadn't yet seen the tops of the Teton Range due to non stop storm systems moving through. October can be like that in this majestic part of America. Large herds of bison roam free in this park as well as in Yellowstone, just to the north. It is an awe inspiring sight indeed. After taking pictures of this herd, I felt that I had been "shut out" as the mountain peaks had still not been revealed to me. It wasn't until I looked at the pictures on my computer that I realized that in a few frames, the peaks had been revealed. What a great surprise.

(Photo and caption by Glen Hush/National Geographic Photo Contest – www.ngphotocontest.com) I had been in Teton National Park for 5 days and hadn’t yet seen the tops of the Teton Range due to non stop storm systems moving through. October can be like that in this majestic part of America. Large herds of bison roam free in this park as well as in Yellowstone, just to the north. It is an awe inspiring sight indeed. After taking pictures of this herd, I felt that I had been “shut out” as the mountain peaks had still not been revealed to me. It wasn’t until I looked at the pictures on my computer that I realized that in a few frames, the peaks had been revealed. What a great surprise.

Posted January 21, 2014 by henrymowry in National Parks, Photography

Spent Grain Bread   4 comments

Posted January 20, 2014 by henrymowry in Photography, Recipes

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Badlands National Park   3 comments

Badlands NP 00Where Is It: 400 miles northeast of Denver, in southwestern South Dakota. It’s 277 miles west of Sioux Falls, on I-90.

The Birth: From USA Today:

President Franklin Roosevelt officially proclaimed and founded the park as a national monument in 1939. It became a national park by an act of Congress in 1978. But the road to this status started well before 1939. The South Dakota legislature recognized the area as early as 1909 as one to be preserved, but it was not until two men joined forces in the 1920s that action occurred, leading to its founding. South Dakota U.S. Senator Peter Norbeck and local homesteader Ben Millard worked tirelessly and received approval to preserve the area as a national monument in 1929. Norbeck loved the artistic side of nature, was a conservationist and said he would rather be remembered as an artist than a U.S. senator. Norbeck died three years before Badlands was officially designated a national monument.

Today, the Park is jointly operated by the National Park Service and the Oglala Lakota Nation.

It Happened Here: In the late 19th century, homesteaders moved into South Dakota. From Wikipedia:

The U.S. government stripped Native Americans of much of their territory and forced them to live on reservations. In the fall and early winter of 1890, thousands of Native American followers, including many Oglala Sioux, became followers of the Indian prophet Wovoka. His vision called for the native people to dance the Ghost Dance and wear Ghost Shirts, which would be impervious to bullets. Wovoka had predicted that the white man would vanish and their hunting grounds would be restored. One of the last known Ghost Dances was conducted on Stronghold Table in the South Unit of Badlands National Park. As winter closed in, the ghost dancers returned to Pine Ridge Agency. The climax of the struggle came in late December, 1890. Headed south from the Cheyenne River, a band of Minneconjou Sioux crossed a pass in the Badlands Wall. Pursued by units of the U.S. Army, they were seeking refuge in the Pine Ridge Reservation. The band, led by Chief Big Foot, was finally overtaken by the soldiers near Wounded Knee Creek in the Reservation and ordered to camp there overnight. The troops attempted to disarm Big Foot’s band the next morning. Gunfire erupted. Before it was over, nearly three hundred Indians and thirty soldiers lay dead. The Wounded Knee Massacre was the last major clash between Plains Indians and the U.S. military until the advent of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s, most notably in the 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Size: 244,300 acres

# Visitors: 892,372 in 2013. Peak attendance is in July; December is the low.

Animals: The black-footed ferret was considered extinct – twice. Now, thanks to a captive breeding program housed at this Park, there are over 1,000 wild-born animals released over a wide range. From Wikipedia:

The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), also known as the American polecat or prairie dog hunter, is a species of Mustelid native to central North America. It is listed as endangered by the IUCN, because of its very small and restricted populations. First discovered by Audobon and Bachman in 1851, the species declined throughout the 20th century, primarily as a result of decreases in prairie dog populations and sylvatic plague. It was declared extinct in 1979 until Lucille Hogg’s dog brought a dead black-footed ferret to her door in Meeteetse, WY in 1981. That remnant population of a few dozen ferrets lasted there until the animals were considered extinct in the wild in 1987. However, a captive breeding program launched by the US Fish and Wildlife Service resulted in its reintroduction into eight western states and Mexico from 1991–2008. There are now over 1,000 mature, wild-born individuals in the wild across 18 populations, with four self-sustaining populations in South Dakota (two), Arizona and Wyoming.

It is largely nocturnal and solitary, except when breeding or raising litters. Up to 91% of its diet is composed of prairie dogs.

Choices: From Gorp.com:

When you drive the Badlands Loop Road, you will find scenic overlooks and signs explaining some of what you see. Bring your binoculars! If you are lucky, you may spy bison or pronghorn grazing, spot a coyote stalking rodents, or perhaps catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep delicately picking their way across a steep slope.

A visit to Roberts Prairie Dog Town, five miles west of the Pinnacles Entrance on the unpaved Sage Creek Rim Road, gives you a chance to visit a different “home town.” You may walk a nature trail, set off cross-country with a backpack, or attend an amphitheater program on a summer evening.

The Ben Reifel Visitor Center and park headquarters are open year-round (facilities include information desk, exhibits, bookstore, and restrooms). The Cedar Pass Lodge is adjacent to the visitor center and is open during the spring, summer, and fall months. The amphitheater and the Cedar Pass campground are also within walking distance.

Within five miles of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center are several trailheads, scenic overlooks, and three self-guiding nature trails. The Fossil Exhibit Trail is wheelchair accessible. The Cliff Shelf Nature Trail and the Door Trail are moderately strenuous explorations of the Badlands rock formations. A pamphlet for the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail provides a lively introduction to the wild plants and animals living among the Badlands rock formations.

Fees: $15 for a 7 day vehicle pass.

Staying There: Cedar Pass Lodge is the only hotel – and restaurant – in the Park. It also operates a 100+ spot campground that offers reservations – and electricity – in many spots. There is one other primitive campground in the Park, operated without reservations.

Contact Info:

25216 Ben Reifel Road
P.O. Box 6
Interior, SD 57750Park Headquarters: (605) 433-5361

More

National Park Service: Badlands National Park

Vimeo: Badlands National Park

National Parks Traveler: Musings From Badlands National Park

JasonsTravels: Driving The Badlands

Backpacker.com: Badlands National Park

The Whiskey Rebellion   1 comment

Whiskey Rebellion 00

The painting depicts George Washington and his troops near Fort Cumberland, MD, before their march to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. Unknown artist, attributed to Frederick Kemmelmeyer. Circa 1795. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thomas Jefferson was a great President. He opposed the taxation of whiskey. And he had red hair! How could I not be a fan?

It all started in 1791, when the House of Representatives, on a vote of 35 to 21, passed the Excise Whiskey Tax. This legislation was wildly unpopular with farmers and eventually precipitated the “Whisky Rebellion.” Farmers, whose grain crop was a chief ingredient in whiskey, loudly protested the tax.

The year was 1794. US citizens in Pennsylvania had decided that the new government’s decision to tax whiskey was unfair.

In July, a mob of whiskey rebels attacked and destroyed the home of a tax official. The reports are unsure, but it seems that some tax officials were tarred and feathered , and some were ridden out of town on a rail … both of which were “extra-judicial” punishments that were exacted by vigilante mobs, not the fledgling government.

There were published illustrations of this phenomenon, such as the one below. It is important to note that the tar used in such spectacles was not the hot, asphalt-based tar that one might expect. Rather, the tar was pine tar, which can be in liquid form at room temperature. But still … the spectacle sought to punish the focus of the event with humiliation. It’s also true that if you were truly riding a triangular, split rail, then you would be, uh, uncomfortable. Injured, even.

Beware the whiskey tax rebels!

Whiskey Rebellion 02

“Famous whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania”, an illustration from America’s first century: being a popular descriptive portraiture of the one hundred great and memorable events of perpetual interest in the history of our country by R. M. Devens (Springfield, Mass, 1882). From the New York Public Library Digital Gallery; illustrator unknown.

The first US Secretary of the Treasury (1789 – 1795) was Alexander Hamilton, who understood that he needed to create a way for the new republic to pay for itself. One of his solutions was a tax on whiskey.

Pennsylvanians revolted, and an armed rebellion was in the offing. Hamilton advocated the use of military force, which Jefferson passionately opposed. President Washington decided to put the state militias on alert, and then sent in negotiators. When that didn’t help, Washington embraced Hamilton’s view, and sent a force of 13,000 troops – led by Hamilton and Virginia governor Henry Lee – to end the rebellion.

George Washington reviewed the troops at the Carlisle BarracksWhiskey Rebellion 03The final result?

The rebels saw the awesome power of the army, and folded. Ultimately, there were only 2 civilian casualties. Rebellion over.

From The Atlantic.com:

Not everyone fell in line, though. Albert Gallatin, a Pennsylvania politician who would later become one of Hamilton’s successors as Treasury secretary, called the levy a hypocritical attempt by elites to “tax the common drink of the nation,” even as they continued to enjoy their imported fine wines and brandies. Georgians launched a petition to exempt peach brandy as “necessary of life … in this warm climate.” And Thomas Jefferson, who was known to enjoy a drink, led a successful effort to repeal the tax shortly after he was sworn in as president.

More

Carlisle Barracks History

Alexander Hamilton: The Whiskey Rebellion

The Daily Reckoning: The Whiskey Rebellion

The Daily Reckoning: The Whiskey Rebellion, Part II: Enforcing The Wealth Tax

The Daily Reckoning: The Whiskey Rebellion, Part III: Ending The Rebellion

January 17, 1994   Leave a comment

Twenty years ago today.

Posted January 17, 2014 by henrymowry in California

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Stornetta   4 comments

I was tweeted this photo on Monday, and I had no idea where this wonderful landscape was located. Maine?

The tweet, from the US Department of the Interior, stated that it was a part of the Point Arena – Stornetta public lands.

I still had no idea where it was from.

The tweet stated that this place was recently featured in a New York Times article about 52 places to go in 2014. OK.

I still had no idea where it was from.

Surprise! It’s from northern California.

Stornetta

More

Bureau of Land Management: Stornetta Public Lands

Posted January 16, 2014 by henrymowry in Photography

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Not Enough Snow   Leave a comment

Crater Lake NP 01

Crater Lake National Park has received 25” of new snow in the past week bringing current snow depth to 32”. A far cry from the 78” that should be on the ground on this date, but combined with predicted mild temperatures and sunny skies over the next few days, it should make for some good outdoor activity and great photography just about anywhere in the park! Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 1/14/14.

Posted January 15, 2014 by henrymowry in Photography

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Kenai Fjords National Park   2 comments

Where Is It: About 125 miles from Anchorage. Only three of the National Parks are accessible by road: Kenai Fjords, Denali, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks. You can reach this park by train, plane or boat.

The Birth: From Wikipedia:

Kenai Fjords National Monument was initially designated by President Jimmy Carter on December 1, 1978, using the Antiquities Act, pending final legislation to resolve the allotment of public lands in Alaska. Establishment as a national park followed the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. The park protects the icefield, a narrow fringe of forested land between the mountains and the sea, and the deeply indented coastline.

Size: 669,983 acres … making it the smallest National Park in Alaska.

# Visitors: 281,279 in 2012. July had peak attendance; winter months have almost no attendance.

Plants: From Wikipedia:

The plant communities at Kenai Fjords are shaped by glacial retreat. New lands exposed in former glacier beds are at first stony, lacking in soil. The first plants to appear in recently glaciated areas are lichens and mosses, with a few hardy plants such as dward fireweek and yellow dryas. These pioneers are followed by other plants as the moss and lichen break rock down into soil. In particular, Sitka alder is capable of fixing nitrogen, supporting itself and enriching the soil. Willows also appear at this stage. Willows and alders are followed by black cottonwoods, then Sitka spruce. The mature forest features Sitka spruce and mountain hemlocks, with an understory of Devil’s Club, Alaska blueberry, elderberry, baneberry, watermelon baneberry and lady fern in the coniferous forest understory. A similar succession pattern is seen at the park’s nunataks, exposed rock outcroppings in the Harding Icefield. Forested portions of the park are dominated by conifers, with deciduous forests confined to areas recently vacated by glaciers.

Animals: From Wikipedia:

Large terrestrial mammals in the park include Alaskan brown bears, American black bears, moose and mountain goats. Smaller mammals include beaver and river otter. Marine mammals include sea otters, harbor seals and Steller sea lions. Cetaceans seen in park waters include orcas, fin whales, humpback wales, minke whales, Dall’s porpoises and Pacific white-sided dolphins.

Bird life at Kenai Fjords includes bald eagles, the Peale’s subspecies of peregrine falcon, black-billed magpies and Steller’s jays.

Choices: From NationalGeographic.com:

For recommendations on getting around the park, visit the Kenai Fjords National Park Information Center near the small boat harbor. The most popular and accessible area in the park is Exit Glacier, 13 miles northwest of Seward. You can drive to it or take a tour bus. Trails offer half-hour hikes to the glacier and a full-day roundtrip hike to the Harding Icefield.

Otherwise, hiking is a matter of exploring wilderness shores and ridges accessible only by boat and plane. From mid-May to late September, daily tour boats from Seward offer round-trip half-day and full-day excursions to the fjords and outlying islands. Charter boats take kayakers and campers to any fjord they wish (most often Aialik Bay) and pick them up the same day or days later. Kayaking, fishing, and backpacking guides are available. Ask the park for a list.

From Seward or Homer you can book a breathtaking one-hour flight over the Harding Icefield and Kenai coast. For extended adventures, skiplanes drop off and pick up skiers on the icefield, and floatplanes do the same for kayakers in the fjords, weather permitting.

Fees: $5 for a car’s 1-week pass.

Staying There: There are 10 sites and 4 cabins in Kenai Fjords only campground, which is a walk-in, tents-only campground. No fees are charged. There is no lodging in the Park.

Contact Info:

Kenai Fjords National Park
P.O. Box 1727
Seward, AK 99664
 
Visitor Center (Late May – Mid September) – 907-422-0535
Park Headquarters – 907-422-0500

More

National Park Service: Kenai Fjords National Park

Homemade Pasta   Leave a comment

Posted January 13, 2014 by henrymowry in Photography

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