Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ghost Garden


No, these are not for Halloween at The Frog & PenguINN. After a couple of recent colder overnights, Grenville covered the veggie garden which is still producing. An eggplant is ready to be picked and you might be able to see the tomatoes. We’ve picked several and had them ripen inside by the kitchen window.

Greetings from us and this ghoulish family.

Happy Halloween

Hope the day brings you treats — not tricks.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hedge Sitters

Early mornings we have a lite breakfast before heading to the local YMCA and there’s a lot of “company” outside the dining room window. Three feeders are located near a row of hedges, which an assortment of wrens, sparrows and finches find very convenient. 
1 on hedge2 on hedge3 on hedge
Do you also have breakfast with any backyard visitors?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Colors? — Not Here

Some fellow bloggers have been posting about wonderful seasonal fall colors in their area(s). We have longingly admired them, yet fall color has not yet reached a large portion of the VA eastern shore, except on the calendar.

Sure, we’ve had a few recent nights when temps dipped into the low 40s. There was even an early morning frost last week, but the predominant color here remains green. Here’s a view of crepe myrtles at the side of the house taken late this afternoon.IMG_2572

Leaf raking is still a couple of weeks (or more) away. Eventually, these leaves will turn to beautiful yellow and red colors around Thanksgiving. Our garden and yard flowers also seem to be thinking of another season. Here’s what some flowers in the wildflower meadow looked like this earlier today.meadow flowers1027

Not to be outdone in the colorful department were these blooms in front and back yard pots. Apparently also enjoying  a rejuvenation in cooler weather.

back yard blooms1027front yard blooms1027

Some yard flowers and plants are showing appropriate seasonal colors . . .fall colors1027

We’re looking forward to MORE fall colors, hopefully before winter starts.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

MSC Open House

This time of year weekend event abound on the VA eastern shore from yard sales, bazaars and festivals, an annual bike tour, dinners and auctions and other fall-themed events.MSC collage

Through our involvement with several organizations, lately there’s been no shortage of weekend activities. This Saturday, we participated in an Open House event at the Marine Science Consortium (MSC) on Wallops Island. Grenville represented the local  Master Naturalists group of which he is an active member while I took photos which will be provided to several participating groups.shells collage

MSC is a non-profit environmental learning center and field station (officially called the Chincoteague Bay Field Station) that is supported by 13 member universities. Formed in 1968, it provides education and research in marine and environmental sciences through programs ranging from elementary to university levels and beyond. Its location on Virginia's Eastern Shore, between the Atlantic Ocean and ecologically important Chesapeake Bay provides a natural teaching classroom for the biological, chemical, and physical sciences. painting collage

Exhibitors at the MSC Open House house included representatives of many area organizations such as Master Naturalists, SPARK (Shore People Advancing Readiness for Knowledge), Waste Watchers, National Park Service, Space Flight Academy, Ward Museum, and the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District.Milliped collage

Parents and children alike seemed to enjoy themselves as they were introduced to these organizations through the volunteer representatives, most of whom provided hand-on demos and activities that included painting, nature stamping, and examing various shells and insects up close and personal.spinning collage

Unlike last weekend’s event, the 2013 Watershed Festival, which was held outdoors in often rainy weather, this event was held indoors and also included guest lectures as well, but the kids who attended had the most fun at the exhibits.hurricane collage

Speaking for Grenville and myself, fun stuff wins out every time on at least one day of the weekend

How was your weekend spent — chores, fun or some of both?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Funnies

During a September road trip to visit family in Lancaster County, PA, we stayed at a Hampton Inn in Mannheim, PA, which featured a unique “welcome.” Hampton welcome

These visitors stayed awhile, before heading back to their place.Welcome DucksHeading Back

The next morning they returned — just in time for breakfast.breakfast group

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup (No Dairy)

Here’s a first-time recipe at The Frog & PenguINN. It was made for two reasons — cauliflower and fresh mushrooms were on sale at the local supermarket this week and I needed to find a way to use both at one time, while still fresh.cauliflower soup1024 (1)

Searching various recipe sites online and our own cookbooks yielded many variations from roasting the cauliflower first, cooking it in water, or adding cream. This recipe used only chicken broth as the liquid base, although you could add some dairy for a creamier texture (see below). The mushrooms and cauliflower together made a naturally rich, thick broth. This recipe is gluten-free if you use broth and oil labeled as such.

Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup (No Dairy)

  • 1 head of cauliflower shopped into florets
  • 3 C mushrooms, sliced, your choice (button, shitake, portabella)
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-6 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp ground white or black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 TBSP cooking oil, your choice (olive, canola, vegetable)
  1. Sauté garlic and onion in oil until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add cauliflower, mushrooms and seasonings; sauté for another 5 minutes.cauliflower soup1024 (5)
  3. Add 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is fork tender, 20-30 minutes.
  4. Pour soup into a heat proof blender, reserving some pieces of cauliflower and mushrooms if you want a chunkier soup. Better yet use a stick (immersion) blender. It’s easier and there’s much less cleanup.cauliflower soup1024 (6)
  5. Blend until smooth, return to pan to reheat. If soup is too thick, add more broth after blending and stirring well. Ladle into soup cups or bowls and enjoy.

Dairy to add some creaminess (optional)

After blending soup, return to pot and stir in:

  • ¼ to ½ C heavy cream or half and half cauliflower soup1024 (9)

This recipe was so easy that Grenville has (can you guess what’s coming) declared it another “keeper.” We served it with a sandwich of pulled pork as we had frozen leftovers from a recent Sunday dinner. It would also be great with some crusty bread and a side salad.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Train (and Car) Colors

Our recent road trip to Niagara Falls, NY, involved a long train ride from and back to the Amtrak station in Wilmington, DE. Travelling this way gave both Grenville and I time to enjoy the scenery along the way without worrying about the traffic.

Of course, we passed many trains – much to Grenville’s delight.train scenes

Upstate NY was already in fall foliage mode at the end of September. Here on the VA eastern shore, we’re waiting for the leaves to turn and they will, but not until mid-November (or later).fall colorsfall colors2fall colors3

Travelling in late afternoon gave old factory buildings and utility lines a glow.old factoriescity scenes1

Driving home from the station there were more colors — highway lights.hiway lites

The above effect was my attempt at an abstract. It was done by circling the camera during exposure; this was the only “decent” one out of several attempts.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ground Breaking Day on the Eastern Shore

Many of you know we live in a semi rural area. Our town is just one mile square. Our population is just  500. In fact if you take the population of the entire Virginia portion of the Delmarva peninsula, Accomack and Northampton counties, we are just slightly over 50,000 folks (not counting livestock).
Amazingly, we have had a Hospital here for over 85 years. But the time had come for a new, modern facility.

Today was the Ground Breaking Ceremony for our new hospital. A few hundred people showed up. From Hospital staff and Administrators, Local, County, and State elected officials, Hospital Board Members and Trustees, and an lot of just plain folks like us.
In 2008, after many years of being a Community owned and operated hospital, they realized the need to associate with a larger health care organization. After a few years of searching, the Board of Directors chose Riverside Health Care System. The choice was based on the fact that Riverside was not a Corporate run organization. Being two of the poorest counties in the State of Virginia, this was vitally important to our citizens.

The distinguished gentleman in the center above, with the blue tie, is our Mayor, Jack Pierson. We all are so glad that he got to keep his gold shovel since he will be breaking ground for our new Town Hall soon. Of course in true Eastern Shore style, we had some refreshments afterwards. Nothing too splashy.
SOOOO what is this all going to look like you may wonder...... well, this is what it looks like now
And this is what it will look like in about two years.
 The new hospital will be approximately 155,000 square feet with an adjacent physician office building of approximately 44,000 square feet that will also house the new Cancer Center, all constructed with materials that are compatible with the architectural character of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Along with a skilled, experienced and compassionate staff, here’s what you can count on once you’re inside the new Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital: • 57 all-private Inpatient Rooms (with expansion capability for 12 more rooms) • 3 Operating Rooms equipped with the leading-edge safety features • State-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit • 24-hour full-service Emergency Department with 13 private rooms • A comfortable and comforting Newborn Unit • 2 Sleep Study areas • 10 Infusion areas • A Diagnostic Center with MRI, CT and general radiology capabilities • Day Surgery facilities and other outpatient services In all cases, the new facilities will include the latest technology to help you heal and keep you even safer… all brought together with one of the nation’s most advanced electronic health record systems. 
So that is our BIG NEWS here on the Shore. I hope i didn't bore anyone, but we are very excited about this finally becoming a reality after many years of talk, discussions, arguments, and a lot of planing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ribbing Always Allowed

And that’s not referring to joking we have around The Frog & PenguINN. This ribbing refers to what was on our dinner menu this weekend. This was another crockpot-easy dinner of baby back ribs. Usually in summer months, Grenville prepares these ribs for cooking outdoors in a smoker. But, we were busy with assorted yard work and smoking ribs requires some tending and time, neither of which we wanted to do.

This first-time recipe was was SO easy to prepare with ingredients already in stock. I checked online for prep and cooking times and after finding several recipes, adjusted the seasonings to come up with this one. We used a smaller package of ribs that were in the freezer; if using a larger amount, just adjust the seasonings — experiment freely because you can’t really go too far astray. You could also omit the rub and just add more barbecue sauce.

1020 baby back ribs crocked (2)
Forgot to show the cut up apple in the ingredients photo above. It was a latecomer to the photo session. Also, I used a Splenda brown sugar blend, regular is OK too.

Baby Back Ribs in Crock Pot

  • 3 lbs. baby back pork ribs
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 apple sliced
  • 1/2 C barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar

Rub ingredients

  • 2 TBSP Splenda brown sugar or equivalent
  • 1 TBSP smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp white pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cut rack of ribs in half to allow layering in crockpot. Place sliced onion and apple on bottom of1020 baby back ribs crocked (3) crock pot, then pour apple cinder vinegar on top.
  2. Combine rub ingredients; mix well. Rub on all sides of ribs. This is a somewhat messy process and placing them on paper towels requires less cleanup after the rub is applied.
  3. Criss-cross rib layers in crockpot. Pour barbecue sauce on top and around.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hrs. (if you’re in a hurry, but low and slow is best).

That’s all there is to do for prep work, so go and do whatever else you need to get done and then come in and enjoy.

1020 baby back ribs crocked (9)
Serve with a side order of beans, coleslaw or veggies of your choice. Ours was sautéed zucchini, carrots, onions and celery — leftovers from last week’s grocery shopping.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Watershed Festival 2013

Yesterday, we spent most of the day assisting at a local event, the 2013 Watershed Festival, a free event featuring hands-on activities for children and adults. Children enjoyed visiting the various exhibits and collecting tokens that were later exchanged for prizes.

A watershed describes an area of land that contains a common set of streams and rivers that all drain into a single larger body of water, such as a larger river, a lake or an ocean. Not only does water run into the streams and rivers from the surface of a watershed, but water also filters through the soil, and some of this water eventually drains into the same streams and rivers. These two processes are called surface runoff and infiltration.
Grenville (Pat) is involved in several local environmental and naturalists groups, including the sponsor of this event, the Eastern Shore Soil & Water Conservation District\Environmental Education Council. He and another volunteer manned the registration table shown above.
Watershed fest 1
Exhibitors included the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore, Kiptopeke State Park, Eastern Shore Master Naturalists, Eastern Shore Agriculture Research & Extension Center, and Coastal Zone Management; all featured interactive displays focused on the treasures found throughout the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore.
Watershed fest3
Several exhibits dressed in pirate gear in keeping with the event's "treasures" theme.
Pirate gear
One of the most popular exhibits was the Madagascar cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa), called the hissing cockroach because of the unique sounds it makes when they forcing air through the respiratory openings (spiracles) found on each segment of their abdomen. Originating from the island of Madagascar off the African mainland, it's one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching 2 to 3 inches at maturity and is found in rotting logs. Unlike most cockroaches, they are wingless and feed primarily on vegetable material. Their lifespan in captivity can exceed 5 years.
Madagasgar cockroach
Face painting was another popular exhibit with lots of "Spiderman" painted faces, camouflage ones, and some cute kitties too.
Painted faces
Despite the drizzle and light rain that came and went during most of the late morning into early afternoon, more than 250 people attended the event.
As you can see, we are getting used to this new format which lets the photos be a larger size. However, when posts (like this one) are created using the MarsEdit blog editor (Mac only), they cannot be clicked on to enlarge. It's just a quirk of this blog program — not your computer.
Hope you all had a good weekend, however and wherever it was spent.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Scene(s) in Dunville

Dunville sky

As mentioned earlier, our recent Canadian road trip included  a stop to visit friends in Dunville, Ontario, where we saw a very large mudcat and an RCAF museum.

Farm scenesDunville silos

Driving along back roads, we saw sights that were similar to those back in our eastern shore VA home — farmland, farms and barns. Some of the most scenic buildings were the most run down ones, especially red barns.

Rundown red barnAnd, there were many nicer ones as well — also in red.

Red barns1Gray and white are also good barn colors from older ones to those in better condition.

Old gray barn

Old gray barn2

As Grenville was driving, I shot these scenes along the drive from Niagara Falls to Dunville without any pull-overs using a Canon Elph point & shoot.

Gray white barns