Stuff and Nonsense: 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.


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.


#Wordless Wednesday: Old Cat Is Old

Little is very old now and smelly and weird, but also still very soft and snuggly.


#WordlessWednesday: Gate in Autumn

Gate leading to the Shôyôan Teien, College of East Asian Studies, Wesleyan University.