Saturday, January 20, 2024

The Pheasants In My Neighborhood

I have lived on my property for over twenty years. Once in a great while I would see a pheasant, but they were few and far between. For the past three or four years, in September, I am seeing a dozen or more. At first I didn’t know what was going on, but in talking to others it seems that someone is releasing them in bunches. I don’t know who, but I am very happy to see them in my yard. 

For a couple years, only a few would hang around. I don’t know if they were hunted or if they left to find a mate, Sometimes in the Spring the males will lose their minds and start flapping their wings and puffing up to look huge. They also make very strange loud sounds. Then they would disappear. I always figured there was a girl in the neighborhood they were trying to impress. For the first couple years I never saw females, but now there are a few. I think it's a ratio of about five to one.

This year is very different. They showed up as usual but instead of leaving or spreading out, they are spending the winter as a group. One day I saw three males under the bird feeder, then two females showed up. The guys were showing off by strutting their stuff and suddenly five more males came out of the woods. Then three more females.  I was watching but couldn’t get videos because they were all running around and posturing for the girls. As I am watching more male pheasants came running out of my side yard as fast as they could. It was a circus and reminded me of the phrase "herding cats". In this case it was pheasants. They can run very fast when they want to.  

All these pheasants have become quite tame. I think having available food has made them very comfortable. I can walk outside within a few feet of them, and they just slowly walk away. When I go into the house, they are back before I close the door. I can hear them. Recently I heard one on the step to my porch. I think he was wondering where the corn was. A recent snowstorm covered a lot of their food. I really didn't want to go out to the garage in the cold for seed, so I made popcorn.

Has anyone made popcorn this way? I knew they couldn't have oil or salt so this was my technique. It is actually a really good way to make popcorn without any added calories. I don't eat much popcorn because I like it smothered in real butter. 

All you need is a cake pan, popcorn, water and plastic wrap. Put 1/2 cup of popcorn in the pan and add 1/4 cup of water. If you are making it for yourself add some salt to the water. I wanted it plain this time.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the plastic to vent the steam. Microwave for five minutes. If it isn't starting to pop, then add one minute at a time until all the corn is popped. My popcorn was stored in the refrigerator so it took nine minutes to complete. No oil needed.

I took the popped popcorn and threw it outside. I didn't realize it isn't the best thing to feed birds. It doesn't have much food value and nutrition. It is probably true for humans too. Especially the way I eat it. I ended up adding some corn and seeds to the mix. The bluejays and Dark-eyed Junco's are loving it.

I look forward to seeing these birds everyday. They are in the yard and in my driveway to greet me when I come home. Hopefully this year they will nest nearby, and I will be able to enjoy seeing baby pheasants. The turkeys have become somewhat of a nuisance, but I doubt if anyone will complain if they see more beautiful pheasants in the neighborhood.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Homemade Rice-A-Roni

On the heels of my Hamburger Helper recipe, I also tried one for Rice-A-Roni. I don’t buy that product either because of all the sodium and preservatives to give it shelf life. The box mix has palm oil, corn syrup and lactose. These are all ingredients we should avoid.  You have to be careful with dried soup base because some of them have corn syrup and high sodium also. 

In a clean mason jar add 1/2 cup of broken up vermicelli. You can make the pieces as small as you want.

Then add 1 cup of plain long cooking white rice (not instant), 4 t. of the best dried soup base you can find (either beef or chicken), 1 t. dried parsley, 1/2 t. Italian seasoning and 1/4 t. garlic powder.

Seal it up and keep it in your pantry.

To prepare brown 2 T. of butter in a pan. Add the dry ingredients from the jar and brown to your desired color without burning it.

Add 2 3/4 cups of water and simmer for 20 minutes. The liquid should be absorbed.

This can be eaten as a side dish or add some meat and vegetables for a hot dish.  It’s very good.