Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Believe It or Not Spring Is Here

Tomorrow morning, March 20, 2014 at 11:57 am, it will officially be Spring.  The temperatures are still below normal, but there are little teases to make me a believer.  Two years ago it was 80 degrees.  That is what living in Wisconsin is all about.  You never know what the next day will bring as far as the weather is concerned.

The Sandhill Cranes are back.  We heard them before we saw them.  I heard a group of Sandhills were seen in Rock County Wisconsin traveling with two Whooping Cranes.  I'm hoping I will see some Whooping Cranes this spring.  Hopefully the eight that were raised nearby will return to the area.

I wrote about the River Otter and the Eagle a few days ago.  I was worried that the Eagle had eaten an otter for dinner, but I was wrong.  The otters are hale and hearty.  We had at least four of them out on our pond last weekend.  The otters always look so happy.  They play and splash around.  They can hold their breath for eight minutes so they dive down in one area and come up a long ways away.   They can even choose when to have their young.  They have something called delayed implantation.  After they mate, the female can have fertilized eggs in her uterus for up to nine months but once it is implanted, the baby otters are ready to be born in 60 days.  I'm not sure what factor triggers the implantation.  Maybe it's even the weather.

The mail lady stopped today with a package.  She asked me if we had seen any new animals out on the marsh.  I told her about the otters.  She said "did you shoot them"?  I was shocked and said that the only shooting I do is with a camera.  She said "but they eat all the fish".  I told her they could have all they want.  I wonder how many others think the way she does.  I hope not many but I'm afraid in this area she is the majority.

The red winged blackbirds have also returned. 

Hopefully in a couple weeks I will be able to report the return of many more of our favorite wildlife.

Turkey Vulture.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Colcannon Irish Potatoes

Top of the morning to you.

Yesterday was St. Paddy's Day.  I hope you didn't drink too much green beer or this sunrise will be blinding.  A lot of Americans, whether they are of Irish heritage or not, celebrate St. Patrick's Day by eating Corned Beef and Cabbage.  If you don't make it yourself, it is readily available at many restaurants.

We had our corned beef and cabbage celebration a week early, so yesterday we had a more traditional Irish meal.  Corned beef and cabbage is something Americans made up but it's not really Irish.  The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in New York City and not Ireland.  The Irish usually used pork because it was less expensive.  Little did I know that the Boiled Dinner my mom made with ham, potatoes, carrots and cabbage was probably more traditionally Irish than that made with corned beef.

This Tuesday's recipe is for a more traditional Irish meal with ham.  It is very inexpensive to make.  If you have some leftover corned beef, it could be mixed with these potatoes.   It's also good with crumbled bacon. 

Irish potatoes with ham

Colcannon Potatoes
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 pound green cabbage, shredded
6 tablespoons butter, divided plus more to top the potatoes
Salt and pepper
8 to 10 scallions or onions, chopped
1/3 to 1 cup warm heavy cream or half and half or milk

Put the potato chunks in a large pan.  Cover with water and add 1 teaspoon of salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan and sauté the cabbage, keeping it on the move until it’s tender and slightly golden at the edges.  Season it with salt.
Then add the scallions and continue to cook for another minute or so.
Next drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Add the remaining butter and 1/3 cup cream.  Heat the cream or milk a little.  It keeps the potatoes from cooling off too much and makes them less starchy.  Mash the potatoes until light fluffy, adding more cream or milk if needed. Season them with salt and pepper.
Then stir in the cabbage.

The Irish like butter so make a well in the potatoes and put some extra butter in the well.

I had some ham leftover in the freezer from last Christmas.  We had that with the Irish potatoes instead of bacon or corned beef.

If you like the taste of cabbage and potatoes, here is another blog I wrote using similar ingredients.