Showing posts with label around connecticut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label around connecticut. Show all posts

22 November 2018

Turkey, Turkey

Small feathered dinosaur.

Have you every stroked a turkey? Last weekend Barnes Nature Center, part of the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut, hosted two turkeys from its sister center, Indian Rock Wildlife Preserve. The pair, a male (tom) and female (hen), had been raised together since hatching in May and seemed very at ease with the crowd of humans that had turned out to gawk at them.

And pet them. I'd never touched a turkey before and was, for some reason, astonished to discover how soft and satiny they felt. Even their raw-looking heads were soft -- like kidskin. And warm! Especially the dewlap/wattle.

Look at that display!

Don't know what a dewlap/wattle is? It's the fleshy growth under the turkey's neck. The fleshy bit that hangs over the beak is called the snood. The lumpy red bits around the base of the wattle/dewlap are called caruncles. How do I know all this? A young man was very eager to explain it all to me so that the next time I see wild turkeys in my backyard I'll know exactly what I'm looking at.

We were allowed to feed the turkeys and, being adults, we were allowed to feed them by hand instead of from a paper cup. I was completely chuffed to get both turkeys eating out of my hand at the same time. I felt like some kind of Turkey Whisperer. However, I am not going to try that with the turkeys that occasionally visit our backyard. "Local Woman Pecked To Death By Wild Turkeys" is not the headline I want to follow my death.

I have conclusively determined that turkeys like food.

19 November 2018

Autumn's Bounty

While I'm not hosting Thanksgiving this year, that has not kept me from unrealistic fantasies of covering my kitchen counters with Brussels sprouts, carrots, turnips, parsnips, cranberries, winter squash, and potatoes. Fall is my favorite season and its harvest produces my favorite flavors. Food-wise there is nothing that makes me happier than a sheet pan packed edge-to-edge with roasted fall vegetables.

I first discovered how delicious roasted vegetables could be at a little restaurant in Montpelier, Vermont in the early naughts where I, in a fit of vegetarianism, ordered a platter of what turned out to be delicious vegetable candy. I have been hooked on roasting vegetables ever since.

Growing up, there were many vegetables my mother cooked that I insisted I did not like, but I've come to realize it was not the vegetables but the method of preparation that was off-putting. Boiled vegetables are, generally speaking, ick. Sautéed or lightly steamed vegetables are better. Roasted vegetables are the best. The sugars in the vegetables become caramelized, creating a layer of sweetness and depth of flavor that cannot be achieved with any other method. Also, I love the crispy, slightly charred bits that stick to the pan. Those are, for me, the cook's reward.

Also it's an easy/completely lazy way to cook. Put your chopped vegetables on a baking tray, toss with oil, season as needed, and roast in a 425°F oven for 20-30 minutes or until desired level of yumminess is achieved. If you want to be fancy, you can stir the vegetables and rotate the pan about halfway through the cooking time for more uniform roasting. Sometimes I do this, but I usually don't because I'm off doing Important Things like napping meditation or laundry.

Anyway, dreams of mounds of autumn vegetables led me to attend Gresczyk Farms' annual Fall Festival this past weekend. This family friendly event had touchable farm equipment (I know a tractor when I see one, but that's about it), a hay bale playscape, food trucks, tons of free samples of locally produced goods (including wine), live music, and so much produce. Tables and racks and carts of fruits and vegetables. And that doesn't even include what was already for sale in the farm store. I walked in with fifty dollars in my pocket and walked out with four dollars and So. Much. Stuff.

From Gresczyk, I bought Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, yellow onions, and yellow potatoes. I also purchased a wee perfect-for-two chocolate cream pie (The Husband loves chocolate cream pies) and wedge of strawberry rhubarb pie (ditto) from Granny's Pie Factory, a pie shop in East Hartford I have been meaning to visit since last Thanksgiving. Because pie wasn't enough for sweets, I picked up three six packs of Real Cookies Bakery -- cinnamon chip, ginger molasses, and triple chocolate. Operating out of Canton, Real Cookies' cookies are definitely very morish and I ate almost all the ginger molasses cookies while watching Doctor Who. (How many times can I use "cookies" in one sentence?)

You may be astonished I did not purchase any parsnips or winter squash. Gresczyk Farms, rather surprisingly considering the bounty of veg they were selling, did not have any parsnips. I was briefly excited by cream colored roots that, disappointingly, turned out to a variety of carrot. Soul? Crushed. That's when I decided to buy too many cookies. Or that's what I'm telling myself.

More likely, we just wanted cookies.

As for the squash ... my bag of holding was simply overloaded and could not accommodate squash without rupturing. I could probably have loaded The Husband up with squash, but he wouldn't have been happy about it and I'd already picked up so many other things he doesn't like to eat. The Husband, not liking vegetables (that aren't corn, peas, green beans, proper baked beans, tomatoes, or cucumber) since 1976.

05 October 2018

Around Connecticut: The Sweet Beet

I've been following The Sweet Beet, a vegan health food market in Granby, on Instagram for almost a year now and their postings invariably fill me with a strong desire to get in my car and head north. Unfortunately, Granby is about 45 minutes from here and that always seemed like a long way to go to get a smoothie or chickpea salad sandwich. Until Friday, that is.

This was my Friday off -- the perfect time to tootle around the northern part of the state, admiring the fine beginnings of fall, collecting my farm share, and drinking vegan yumminess. I headed north from West Hartford after therapy, reducing my trip to a mere half hour. Pulling into Sweet Beet's shared parking lot, I found myself full of a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I had looked forward to visiting for so long ... surely I had overhyped the place in my head?

Happily, no. The Sweet Beet is charming and staffed with very nice, helpful people who want you to have an exemplary shopping experience. I obtained the "Candy Corn" smoothie (boo-nana, pineapple, mango, turmeric, carrot, hemp, cinnamon, and coconut ... best smoothie I've had in 2018) of my recent fantasies, as well as a number of interesting krauts and pickles, several store-made ready meals for work, and a few mini cupcakes ("Sweeties") to share with The Husband.

21 March 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Orchids

Two of the thousand orchids on display at the Nutmeg State Orchid Society's annual show and sale last weekend.

29 November 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Hill-Stead

Hill-Stead, a Colonial Revival mansion, was the first architectural project of Theodate Pope Riddle, fourth registered female architect in the United States.

28 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday: At Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden

Roses in bloom at the Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden in New Britain. The Garden was first built in 1929 along Grand Street, but was relocated to the World War I Memorial when garden restoration began in 2009. Walnut Hill Park itself was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr.

13 October 2016

Around Connecticut: Goldburgers

Whenever we hit the Newington Farmers Market, we stop at GoldBurgers for lunch. As good as a really good homemade burger can get, Goldburgers is always miles above. These are the freshest, juiciest, most flavorful burgers going and, trust me, we eat a lot of burgers.

One of my favorite burgers off the regular menu is the "Twice Roasted" -- two beef patties layered w/ provolone, CRISPY bacon, roasted red peppers and onions on a sesame seed bun (ridiculous amount of seeds on that bun!) spread with a schmear of roasted garlic. All burgers can be customized, so if you prefer chicken or need MOAR GARLIC or want to skip the bacon, they'll accommodate you. (The Husband occasionally orders bacon-y things sans bacon and I've finally trained him to ask for bacon on the side so I may enjoy his bacon and mine).

The daily specials board is always worth checking out, too, as it always contains interesting stuff. Of the daily specials I've tried, "Fried Chicken Mac Attack" -- fried chicken strips, fried mac 'n cheese square, tangy slaw, blue cheese, and hot sauce -- is probably my favorite as it was totally yum with perfectly balanced flavors & textures.

We've also shared the poutine a couple times. While I feel the gravy could have been beefier, the salty fries and squishy cheddary curds were omnomnomilicious. The first time we ordered these, the man behind the counter was happy to tell us all about how Goldburgers makes its fries -- hand-cut every morning, blanched, and fried as needed -- and what they're doing clearly works as Goldburgers' fries definitely vie with Five Guy's as my favorite fry.

Fountain sodas are all provided by Hosmer and the assortment is fairly good -- in addition to safe standards like Pink Lemonade and Cola Red (Coke analog), there's more interesting flavors like Black Cherry and Birch Beer. Goldburgers also offers freshly brewed unsweetened iced tea, bottled water, and a few other beverages I don't pay any attention to ... because Goldburgers' unsweetened iced tea is good.

tl;dr: Everything at Goldburgers is good. Go there.

29 September 2016

Around Connecticut: Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Outdoor Market

I started visiting the Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Outdoor Market in August and it has quickly become my go-to farmers market. It's easy to get to, provides ample parking, and has just about everything I could want to buy. Also, it puts me conveniently close to Bantam Bread and several yummy vineyards. Yes, Bantam Bread is a regular at the market, but I like the whole grain spelt (so deliciously sour) and that's found at the shop, not the market. Also, Wave Hill Breads is usually on hand with their unforgettable caramelized garlic bread and their shop is a zillion-million miles from me, so ... Wave Hill at the market, Bantam at the shop.

Free "sample" carrot, cucumbers, fiery pickles, lemon curd,
garlic loaf, & a "normal" loaf for The Husband.

Beautiful peppers (for stuffing!), crunchy cucumbers, sweet strawberries,
& the World's Best Blackberries.

Hillhome's Texas Pickles are sweet-HOT & my new favorite pickle.
Go through a jar every 2 weeks.

The Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Outdoor Market runs Saturdays through late October, when it then goes on hiatus until reopening as an indoor winter market.

Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Market
Center School parking lot
Woodruff Lane, Litchfield
Saturday 10-1

28 September 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Ferris Wheel By Night

Ferris wheel by night during the 2016 Bristol Mum Festival.

08 September 2016

Around Connecticut: Hosmer Mountain Soda Shack

The Husband gave up caffeine about six months ago and now drinks nothing but caffeine-free or decaffeinated products. While Barry's makes a decaf black tea blend that still brews a proper strong cuppa, soda's been a bit of a problem. (Yes, yes, we shouldn't be drinking soda ... blahblahblah ... don't care). So, I thought, why not take him to Hosmer Mountain Soda Shack, that paradise of retro pop, and let him run amok?

Aside from Cola Blue, Cola Red, Sarsaparilla and Red Lightning energy drink (which tastes like pomegranate creme soda and I would drink all the time if it weren't an energy drink), none of Hosmer's sodas contain caffeine. If soda, caffeinated or no, isn't your thing, try the flavored seltzers or the spring water.

Hosmer makes over 30 different flavors including "old-fashioned" sodas like cream soda, sarsaparilla, birch beer, root beer, and ginger beer -- which Hosmer describes as "dangerous" because it's sooo spicy, warming, and delicious -- as well as the traditional colas and manymany fruity flavors. The Husband seems quite fond of the pineapple and peach sodas whereas I am, obviously, all about the ginger beer.

All Hosmer products are sold in glass bottles (12 oz and/or 28 oz depending on variety), so you need to save the empties to return if you want your deposit back. Don't simply toss them, willy-nilly, into the household recycling bin ... as we have done, more than once.

I strongly recommend filling a 24-pack with a little bit of everything your first time, and then keeping a list on the fridge of what you've drunk and whether it's worth repeating or, a month or so down the road, you'll find yourself standing in front of cases of Orange Dry trying to remember whether you liked it or had even purchased it that last time 'round. As an added incentive to buy more soda (do we need one?), Hosmer offers a "buy ten cases get one free" tally card ...

Visiting the Manchester store reminds me of going with my mom to the old Hostess thrift store (outlet) in Norwich -- that same sort of utilitarian-yet-hospitable "our stuff is so awesome we don't need to be fancy" vibe. The staff is friendly and perfectly willing to answer any questions, but seem also just as happy to leave you alone browse. (And there are hard decisions before you ... how many sodas? which kinds?)

Hosmer Mountain Soda has two locations in Connecticut, the one we've visited at 15 Spencer Street in Manchester and another at one at 217 Mountain Street in Willimantic. The Manchester store is closer to home, but I'm sure we'll manage to get to the Willimantic store one of these days, too.

25 August 2016

Around Connecticut: Torrington Farmers Market

Popped in at the Torrington Farmers Market on Tuesday, while I was out running some other errands, and picked up a delicious assortment of vegetables. It's a small market -- at least on Tuesday -- with, I think, five produce tents and one seller of soaps, but everyone was extremely friendly and wanted to talk about their stock so I ended up spending more time at the Torrington Farmers Market than I'd expected. Which is fine, really! There are worse ways to spend part of a beautiful August afternoon ... doctor's waiting rooms, for example. Ugh. NO DOCTORING IN THIS POST GOSHDARNIT.

Produce! I bought some! Including ground cherries (aka husk cherries) which I had never eaten before, but upon downing a sample knew I had to own a basket of because ohhhh the extraordinary flavor. Both sweet and slightly bitter all at the same time. Kind-of like tiny tomatoes and yet also completely unlike. The woman I bought them from recommended adding them to salsa or salads, but I've just been eating them by the handful every time I pass through the kitchen. Ground cherries have quite a lot of vitamin A and C as well as niacin and thiamin, so there are certainly worse things to mindlessly snack upon!

Not shown in the photo are the four ears of corn I bought to go with that night's barbecued chicken. The corn was 50¢ per ear, which might seem like highway robbery but for the DROUGHT (we're six inches below normal rainfall levels for this time of year) and the pure, unmitigated DELICIOUSNESS of those ears.

The Torrington Farmers Market runs Tuesdays and Saturdays through October. While I enjoyed Tuesday's visit, I'll have to stop back on Saturday to see if the market is bigger -- this seems true of my city's market, anyway -- and I'll need more ground cherries, too! [ed. 9/4/2016 -- went on Saturday and it's twice as big and twice as busy]

Torrington Farmers Market
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (parking lot)
837 Charles Street, Torrington
Tuesday 3-6
Saturday 10-1
Accepts cash, WIC FMNP, & SFMNP

17 August 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Emancipation

"Emancipation" by Preston Jackson, 2006. Part of the Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk installation on the Founders' Bridge, it celebrates President Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, declaring enslaved African Americans as free citizens.

10 February 2016

11 November 2015

Wordless Wednesday: The Glass House, New Canaan

View of the Glass House and swimming pool from the hillside

View of Pavilion in the Pond and Monument to Lincoln Kirstein from the Glass House

07 October 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Salt Marsh

View of the salt marsh through the tall grasses at Rocky Neck State Park, Connecticut.

15 July 2015

Wordless Wednesday: At the Farmers Market

Garlic and a snarl of garlic scapes.

Pattypan squash and zucchini.

Bunnicula's been at the cucumbers!

08 July 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Baseball

Our local summer collegiate baseball team, the Bristol Blues, at Muzzy Field.

25 February 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Someday My Spring Will Come

Green thumbs are itching for spring! Greenhouse at Elizabeth Park, Hartford.