Archive for the ‘Potty Mouth’ Category

The squirrels of Lafayette Park

January 4, 2010

 

Over the holidays I went to visit my Mom in Washington, D.C.  Across the street from the White House is Lafayette Park, aka Squirrel Heaven, the highest density of squirrels in the United States.  There is a line item in the federal budget to feed the squirrels, ostensibly to keep them from digging up the bulbs.  The tourists and government workers feed them too.  Hence, you have some very fat and very tame squirrels.  During my visit in freezing weather, I must have seen close to 50 squirrels in this park that covers only one square block.  They are very friendly and will come right up to you to have their pictures taken.  Here are my favorites.

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Chick pea and kale soup

October 24, 2009

chick pea and kale soup

Being raised abroad in an Asian household in an international environment, variety was the culinary mantra.  Different countries, foods, tastes and textures. Try everything and anything at least once.  Got Balut?  Don’t get into a rut (that’s why I don’t think I’ll have any problem reaching my goal of cooking for a year without repeating the same dish twice).  I love colorful food.  Nothing is more unappetizing to me than seeing a Thanskgiving plate with beige turkey, beige mashed potatoes, and beige gravy.  Oh wait!  The stuffing is brown!  Ick.  I’d be piling on the cranberries, sweet potatoes and peas to create some color.

 This soup has Balkan origins, but while at the Farmer’s Market, I became enamored with the bright orange sweet potatoes (we call them yams in the States but they’re really not yams) and purple Peruvian potatoes.  I bet the Eastern Europeans couldn’t find ingredients this colorful.  This soup is as rainbow as it gets.  Yellow chick peas (we call them ceci because of John’s Italian background), dark green kale (I wish there was a way to keep it bright green, but alas, it was too tough at that stage), bright orange sweet potatoes, purple potatoes and red sausage.  It’s not quite cold in LA yet, but this would make a good supper for a blustery winter night.

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • ½ medium onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 cups kale leaves, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked chick peas (you can use canned or soak ½ cup beans overnight in water, drain, add 4 cups water and simmer for 1 ½ hours, I like doing this because they don’t get too salty like canned chick peas).  Drain before using.
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound kielbasa (Polish sausage) sliced into ½ inch slices
  • 1 pound peeled sweet potatoes cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 pound purple potatoes cut into 1 ½ inch pieces

Heat up oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  When oil is hot add onion.  Stir until onion is translucent.  Add garlic and kale leaves. Stir frequently until kale is wilted and reduced in size.  Add chick peas, stock, bay leaf, peppers and kielbasa.  Bring to boil over high heat.  When mixture is boiling, turn heat to medium low and simmer 15 minutes.  Add potatoes and simmer 15 minutes more or until potatoes can be pierced with a fork.  Adjust seasoning.  Serve with warm crusty peasant bread.  Makes eight servings.

By the way, I’ve saved the kale stems for the squirrels. I have no idea whether they will eat them (I had success getting them to eat sweet potatoes, apples and pears in addition to nuts, which they still favor) but my kids gotta eat their vegetables!

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Introducing my squirrel friends

October 13, 2009

Potty Mouth has been complaining that I spend way too much time on my blog talking about food and not squirrels.  He feels he needs to be properly introduced, along with my other squirrel friends, so here they are folks:

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Potty Mouth – Potty Mouth lives in San Pedro and is a daily visitor.  He is my alarm clock.  At around 7:30 every morning (yes I am a lucky gal because I work at home and don’t have an awful commute), he perches on the beam outside my bedroom window and trades barks with Trixie, the Chihuaha next door.  This goes on for about 15-20 minutes.  Sometimes Potty Mouth ducks onto the roof so Trixie can’t see him, then he pops out again.  Afternoons, he moves to the other side of the house, where my home office is, and lounges on the tree, barking at the black kitty that hangs by the pool (I want to get that kitty a little bikini, she’s always poolside).  The kitty ignores him.  We call him Potty Mouth because whatever he’s saying must be something really foul like “Yo Mama is a bitch!” to Trixie, and “Kiss my nuts!” to the Kitty.

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Lil Bitty – hands down our sentimental favorite.  She came to visit us in Castro Valley, California.  John had just been let go by the company that acquired his employer.  He sat in the backyard feeling depressed, when this sweet squirrel came down the fence, hung on by her back paws and stretched her front paws out for peanuts.  She would eat out of our hands.  John could put peanut butter on his finger and she would lick it off his finger.  I used to leave peanuts out on the cooler on the patio for the squirrels.  She would climb on the cooler, grab one and then hop onto the handlebars of my bike to eat them.  If I was on the patio, though, she would come right up to me and want to be hand fed.  She was also very acrobatic and could do back flips off of the chaise longe.  She stayed with us for only six weeks and disappeared the day John got a job offer in Scottsdale.  We don’t know if she was killed, moved on, or had babies.  We moved away a month later.  We called her our little angel.

Stealthie Ninja – The first squirrel to visit us when we moved to San Pedro.  Initially, she would sneak into our yard to take peanuts surreptitously.  We believe that she was the squirrel we saw running down the sidewalk when the realtor showed us the house.  We can credit her with our signing the lease.  We couldn’t have cared less what the house looked like – there were squirrels in the neighborhood!  She’s often waiting for John when he comes home.

Sweet pea a young baby female squirrel who has recently started visiting us.  Shy sweet and curious.  She loves sunflower seeds.

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Bully or BB – a big brute of a squirrel with very large (ahem) nuts.  He’s scrappy, with a torn ear, usually doesn’t comb his hair and goes digging through the munch box, tossing on the ground whatever he doesn’t like (read corn) till he finds his nuts (the loose kind, not the ones attached to his body).  He’s quite territorial and will chase other squirrels.  He’s had many a scolding from us.  He’s the only squirrel in San Pedro that has been brave enough to eat out of my hand.

Cary Grant an extraordinarily handsome, well kept, and well-mannered squirrel.  Sleek, shiny coat and impeccably groomed.  Unlike the other squirrels he would not be caught dead digging through the munch box with his butt in the air, eating like a pig in a trough.  He opens the box, takes what he wants and then climbs to higher ground to eat it.  Every morning, when he hears the garage door open, he waits on the roof of our house.  He watches John drive away, and then climbs down for breakfast.

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Leo and Max two baby squirrels that live in the tree down “Squirrel Alley” of our complex where there are lots of squirrel nests.  They are inseparable and always playing together.

Sumo Sumo was a huge female, probably pregnant, in Castro Valley.  She loved lying on the fence or on the branches of the tree next door and chattering away in an irritated fashion.  She also loved staring you down. 

Rambo Rambo was a fox squirrel in Castro Valley.  Unlike the other fox squirrels that had a tinge of red on them, he was all grey with a very creamy underbelly.  We called him Rambo because he loved to crawl around on his belly in the yard.  He also was tough and would sit in the rain gnawing on corn on the cob (he LOVED corn on the cob) with his tail over his head to keep himself dry.  He would also occasionally eat out of our hand.  He was also the only squirrel who would eat the corn cobs we screwed onto the budgee chord (though he refused to bounce up and down for our amusement).  John also found him in a neighbor’s yard about a block away, one day, eating an entire piece of bread.

Teddi – Teddi was a very dainty female squirrel that loved to eat seads and nuts we scattered in the yard.  She wouldn’t eat out of my hand but would follow me around when I did yard chores.

Scrawny – Scrawny was probably Bittys’ little brother.  He was very skinny with black feet.  He would also eat out of my hand, though he was a little more tentative than Bitty.

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Giblets There’s one word for Giblets – DEFIANT!  No matter what goodies you put in the squirrel munch box or on the ground, he was determined to raid the bird feeders.  It didn’t matter how high you strung them up or how many obstacles you placed, he was always up forthe challenge. One day I caught him in the chickadee feeder and yelled at him.  He climbed to the top of the tree and chattered at me and twitched his tail.  I shot him with the garden hose.  He shook himself off and chattered back at me.

McGibbers – McGibbers was a very smart squirrel.  He was the first to discover the squirrel munch box and knew how to prop it open.  We put squirrel “polenta” logs out for the squirrels (they have some kind of sweetener in them to bind the ground corn together)  We couldn’t get a single squirrel to try them while we were there.  One day, I saw McGibbers on the metal polenta bracket and got excited because I thought he would finally try the polenta out.  Instead, he sharpened his teeth on the metal bracket and then took off.