Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Just Peachy

We both enjoy cooking and baking, BUT Grenville aka Pat is the resident pie maker at the Frog & PenguINN. 

In season, there's a plentiful supply of peaches from our own small orchard. That means enjoying them not only at breakfast but also for dessert(s).

This past weekend, Pat made a peach pie as neighbors joined us for dinner on Saturday night.

On Sunday, he made a peach cobbler as we were invited to another neighbor's for dinner. That dinner invite unfortunately was cancelled due to a last minute family emergency, but not before Pat had already made the dessert. That's when we called former neighbors who were in town for the week to come and join us for dessert. Nothing like spreading the sweet treats around; besides it saves us from over-indulging.

This peach cobber recipe is fairly simple. If you don't have fresh peaches (or when they're out of season) use the best brand of frozen peaches available and reduce the amount of sugar. And, use a self-rising cake flour if you leave out baking powder and salt. 

Easy Peach Cobbler
Active Time: 15 Minutes Total Time: 45 Minutes Servings 6
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter
  • 1 C cake or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 C sliced peeled peaches, reserved in bowl
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  1. Place butter in 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place dish in oven to melt butter. 
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Stir in milk, vanilla, and sugar to form batter. Using oven mitts, remove hot baking dish from oven. 
  3. Pour batter into baking dish. Spoon peaches and any peach juices evenly over batter. Bake until batter rises and browns on top, about 45 minutes.
Serve and enjoy — we did. Don't forget the ice cream, preferably vanilla bean flavor.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Un-Funnies

It's been a sad week with the loss of two great performers barely 24 hours apart, Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. 

Ms. Bacall succumbed to a massive stroke at age 89. Mr. Williams, 63, reportedly took his own life. Media reports have covered unceasingly his public admissions of battling depression, alcohol and drug addictions. As if that wasn't a triple threat, late this week, his wife reported that he was dealing with early symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. It's the same disease that actor Michael J. Fox has been battling publicly for many years.

Over the past few days, myself (and the rest of the world) have been reading many accounts of Williams genius as well as his demons. “The demons are still there,” he told one interviewer, describing his battle to beat depression even after giving up alcohol. Another time he said, Reality is just a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs.

While I did not always like Robin Williams' performances — the same be said of any performer — I admired his genius, spontaneity and the ability to make people happy and laugh whether at him or anything else. News accounts have described his tireless energy in entertaining U.S. troops. Also his active involvement in the Comic Relief stand-up specials with fellow comedians Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal has raised nearly $100 million for people in need over 20 years.

The reason(s) for his death may never be fully revealed. Contrary to some public opinion, everyone (aside from family and officials) does not need to know nor should they judge his actions. It is a sad event that no amount of commentary can reverse.
“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.” Robin Williams

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

As Seen on TV

Ever bought one of those "as seen on TV" products?

We did or rather I did, and this choice was one of Pat's birthday gifts besides his Tilley Endurable hat. He said that it was his 2nd favorite gift, good as there were only 2 gifts.

And, it's something he's been using regularly but we never owned — a pineapple corer.

Seeing this on TV would have been difficult as we don't ever watch anything, but luckily it was "as seen on Amazon." When you live in a small town, online ordering is truly a good great thing as there are few shopping choices here. 

After coring the pineapple, there is "play time" followed by sampling. Is this how Carmen Miranda got her start?

Carmen Miranda was a Portuguese-Brazilian singer dancer, Broadway actress, and film star popular from the 1930s to the 1950s. She made her first Hollywood film, Down Argentine Way in 1940 with Don Ameche and Betty Grable. Her exotic clothing and Latin accent soon became her trademark. She was voted the third most popular personality in the U.S. that same year.
In 1941, Carmen Miranda was the first Latin American star to be invited to imprint her hands and feet in the courtyard of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre. She became the first South American to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A museum was later constructed in Rio de Janeiro in her honor
Nicknamed “The Brazilian Bombshell” Ms. Miranda was noted for the signature fruit hat outfit she wore in her American films, notably in the 1943 film, The Gang's All Here. By 1945, she was the highest paid woman in the U.S.

Ever buy a TV-advertised special and HOW did it work out ?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Weekend Concert

Weekends are for fun events, even better when they are no cost and include wonderful musical entertainment. That describes the event we attended this weekend in neighboring Onancock, VA just across the highway from here (literally)when Ker Place  hosted a FREE concert as part of a Farming on the Eastern Shore program.

While the concert had nothing to do with the topic, it was great way to spend a summer evening outdoors in a small town. There was picnicking al fresco, toe tapping tunes, lawn dancing, and even an engagement announcement (John & Lisa) in the lower left below.
Ker Place, former Kerr Place, has served as headquarters of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society since 1960. This Federal period Georgian style house was built in 1799-1803 for a wealthy merchant-farmer, John Shepherd Kerr. 

Considered one of the area's major architectural landmarks, it has been described by the Virginia Historical Landmarks Committee as the finest and most elaborate mansion of its type on the VA Eastern Shore. It currently operates as museum with guided tours of the restored interior. It also provides gallery space for Eastern Shore artwork and for programs and rotating exhibits.

And, this weekend the museum ground was rocking with Big Band sounds of the 30's and 40's performed by the 18-member Delmarva Big Band. The band includes four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, a full rhythm section of piano, bass, guitar, and drums and a vocalist. 

The Delmarva Big Band presented a 2-hour concert that featured legacy and contemporary arrangements of tunes popularized by Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie among others. Many band members are professional musicians and educators.

And, they were darn good.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Funnies

Peek-a-boo . . .

Who's hiding from whom?

The weekend is nearly here — Enjoy yourselves, everyone — We will too !

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Coming Up Cornflowers

This spring and summer, we had a wide and colorful variety of bachelor’s button (or cornflowers) in the Frog & PenguINN wildflower meadow. Most returned as “volunteers” as these annual flowering plants have a tendency to self-seed. Cornflowers are in the family Asteraceae and grew as weeds in crop fields in their native Europe

While the classic bachelor’s button is true blue, the flower comes in a variety of colors, from pastel pink and lavender to deep purple and white with other colors. Blooms can range from 1 to 3 feet tall.

The bachelor button connotation refers from an early use when bachelors would wear the flowers in suit coat buttonholes when courting. In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love. If the flower faded too quickly, it was seen as a sign that the man’s love was not returned. 

The blue cornflower was one of the national symbols of Germany. This is in part based on a story that Queen Louise of Prussia was fleeing Berlin, pursued by Napoleon's forces and hid her children in a cornflower field, weaving cornflower wreaths to keep them quiet. 

The cornflower was the favorite flower of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy. It was worn by his son, John F. Kennedy, Jr. at his wedding in tribute to his father. Cornflowers were also used in the funeral wreath made for Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

Flowers are edible and have a sweet, cucumber-like taste. They can be used to make tea and have been used in traditional herbal medicine as an anti-inflammatory and for treating conjunctivitis. Cornflowers attract bees and butterflies because of their high nectar content.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Day at the Races

We had a weekend day at the races* at the Great Pocomoke Fair in Pocomoke, MD, a 45-minute drive from home. We didn't lose $ bettin' on the ponies as this is the only fair in Maryland that features a single day of harness racing — with no betting. Harness racing is always on the last day of this annual event.

Although fair attendees don't bet here, there are cash purses for these exhibition and USTA (United States Trotting Association) sanctioned races. Race participants come from neighboring eastern states, including our home state of NJ. The prize monies are awarded with support from Ocean Downs (MD) Racetrack which provides financial support to the Great Pocomoke Fair to further promote harness racing in Maryland.

Horse racing was always a highlight of the Great Pocomoke Fair from its earliest days. Trotters came from many nearby states even then. Races were run several days in a row, with as many as a dozen horses in a race, unlike this single afternoon event. 

Watching these spirited horses and skilled riders made for a fun outing. Threatened thunderstorms held off so that all 12 races were completed.

* A Day at the Races was the 7th film starring slapstick comedians, Chico, Harpo, and Groucho Marx. Like their previous MGM feature A Night at the Opera, this 1937 film was a major hit for the trio. 

In the film, a veterinarian posing as a doctor, a race-horse owner, and friends struggle to help keep a sanitarium open with the help of a misfit race-horse. 

It was the only Marx Brothers film to receive a competitive Oscar nomination. 

It can be see (FREE) online at YouTube here. It's in B&W and running time is just over 1-1/2 hours.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Funnies

We wondered if this was is where guys went to buy bachelor party cakes . . .

And, then wondered even more if a girl was baked inside? (of course not)

OK, enough kidding around here and no offense intended to anyone. We'd never heard of this bakery group before seeing this sign when stopped at a gas station. Being curious nosy, I checked online and learned that . . .

Bimbo Bakeries USA is the US corporate arm of Mexico's Grupo Bimbo. It is the largest bakery company in the U.S. The company is headquartered in Horsham, PA and owns six of the top 12 fresh bread brands in the U.S. It's also a top sponsor for many major American-owned soccer teams across the globe. The company name Bimbo was coined in 1945 by combining bingo and Bambi. As many know, the English word, bimbo is a derogatory slang term for an attractive but unintelligent female and has negative connotations. But, it has no comparable meaning in Spanish.

So now I know and so do you — Welcome to August. Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Feed Me!

This is not a story about Audrey the plant from the Little Shop of Horrors. Instead, it's about the occupants of this weathered little red birdhouse.

House sparrows are more closely associated with humans than any other established North American wild bird. There are about three dozen species of sparrows in North America. The species was introduced to New York City in 1851 when NYC faced a serious problem. The snow-white linden moth was devouring fruit trees and leafy elms. City officials hoped the sparrows would devour the moth larvae and they did.

But, there's is a similarity between the fictional Audrey and sparrows — a non-stop appetite. After eating moth larvae, sparrows devoured vital crops, stole the nests of native birds, and flourished in urban habitats by killing off weaker species — in short, they were predators, especially targeting bluebirds. By the 1980's, America’s indigenous bluebird population was in steep decline. It has since been coming back.

Sparrows flourish in large cities and country settings, and can often displace other birds from nest boxes, (I'm unsure if that happened here.) This sparrow family occupied half of a two-nesting birdhouse, which must have been tight quarters.

This duo kept the mother and father sparrow quite busy every 5-10 minutes. Although they are primarily seed-eaters, sparrows also eat small insects and considerable supplies are required to feed the young ones. 

Another similarity to Audrey . . . Come on back and feed me us!
These sparrows were in a mimosa tree at our grandchildren's Rhode Island backyard where we visited last week. We don't have birdhouses in our Virginia backyard, but there are plenty of crepe myrtle trees which annually host several families.

How about you — birdhouses or not?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pretty in Pink

Not referring to our granddaughter, Ellie (this time) but these blooms in downtown Nashua, NH, this past week.

Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts. Sigmund Freud

Enough said — Enjoy your Sunday and the flowers around you.

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