Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

August 29, 2010

Tomato Days

Filed under: Recipes — Karma @ 9:17 pm
Tags: , , ,

tomcrop

I decided to take a break from the Maine posts to ask you a question: Do you have tomatoes coming out of your garden like crazy right now?  Could you use a few different ideas for ways to use them up?  My tomatoes are ripening and begging to be used, so I thought I’d offer you a few of my favorite recipes.

For my first favorite, I really don’t have a recipe though!  Oops!  But I can tell you how to do it and how you can make it to your liking : Fresh Salsa!
Fresh salsa

My ingredients:

Tomatoes

Hot Peppers – any kind; we grow jalepenos, cayennes and thai dragons

onions

cilantro

garlic

Chop up an onion and garlic cloves.  Place them in a strainer and pour some boiling water over them and let them sit for a few minutes.  Chop hot peppers with gloved hands!  Remove the seeds; depending on how spicy you like it, remove some or all of the inner membranes.  More membrane = more heat.   Chop tomatoes.  My basic proportion is about 1-2 hot peppers per 3 tomatoes, more if you like it extra hot and spicy.  This gives what I would call medium heat.  Dice some cilantro leaves and add in enough until you have a nice sprinkling of green among the red.  Stir, and let sit for a few hours.  Enjoy within a few days for best flavor.

This recipe I got from Cooking Light magazine, but I’ve made an improvement to it. 

Quick Panzanella with Chicken:

Ingredients

  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  cups  (1-inch) cubed tomato
  • 2  cups  diced ciabatta bread (about 4 ounces)
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1/2  cup  fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
  • 1  small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2  English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

Preparation

1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from heat, and chop.

2. Place tomato in a large bowl; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add chicken, bread, and the remaining ingredients to tomato mixture, tossing well to combine. Serve immediately.

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Taking that bread and toasting it into croutons makes this recipe over-the-top delicious!  I toss the bread cubes in a frying pan with olive oil and some herbs snipped fresh from my herb barrel.  I also cook the chicken on my George Foreman grill with some Greek seasoning, rather than just salt and pepper.  I mix up all the veggies and vinegar and oil before adding the chicken and bread:
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Add the warm croutons and the chicken right before serving, and this is what you get:
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Delicious!

This last recipe is a recent one I’ve tried.  It was good, but there was definitely room for improvement.  You can find the full recipe here.  I started with these for my ingredients:
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I pretty much followed the recipe straight except that I had frozen ravioli instead of fresh and big garden tomatoes instead of grape tomatoes.  I par-boiled the frozen ravioli and that seemed to work out fine.  The dish turned out beautifully in my opinion:
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It was lacking a bit in flavor, however.  I think both the tomato sauce and the raviolis could have benefited from more seasoning in the cooking process.  Maybe some basil ( duh, why didn’t I think of that when I was cooking?) for the tomatoes, and some garlic or maybe even a dash of some cajun seasoning on the ravioli.  Meghan and I ground some garlic salt over the ravioli when we ate them, and that helped.  I wanted to include this recipe because I think it most definitely has some potential.  Why don’t you give it a try and let me know how it comes out?

P.S. to Jennifer: yes here’s another that could have been a guest post for you!  Feel free to use the new “reblog it” feature if you’d like!

Trying a new theme

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 11:21 am

I’ve been looking at different themes and trying to choose a new one that I like. This one is called “rubric” – I chose it because it has a wider width and I wanted to use more space on the page for photos. It is also listed as having a customizable header, but I didn’t realize I could only change the photo to the right of the header and the color of the text. I’m not 100% sold on it yet, so I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. I think I’ll have to do another blog post with a larger picture setting to decide for sure, but please let me know what you think!

ETA: While I’m in the mood for something new, I’m thinking the blog could use a more interesting title too.  Any thoughts on that?

August 28, 2010

On the Beach with Sea Birds

I was very tempted to name this blog post “It’s bleedin’ sea bird flavored” after the famous Monty Python sketch, but I thought that might give the wrong impression of what you will see in this post!  (By the way, I chose not to imbed the video due to a wee bit of bad language spoken by John Cleese.  It is quite funny, so go ahead and click on it; I just didn’t want to get any type of “rating” on this blog.  I don’t know just how that stuff works.)  Now, for our regularly scheduled program.

In addition to the great blue heron, Hills Beach is populated with many other photogenic sea birds, and not just the gulls that we all see everywhere from the shore to the parking lot of McDonald’s.  Sandpipers and plovers were all over the place at low tide, quickly scurrying around to eat up little bits of food in the tide pools and shallow waves.
pipin' and ploven'

I would always get confused as to which were the pipers and which were the plovers.  Luckily, the cottage that we stayed in had a nice birding guide with great pictures for identifying birds.  I remember now that the sandpipers are the ones with the long, pipe-like beaks:
sandpiper

And plovers have the short beaks, and are related to killdeer, (what a terrible name!) :
plover

I also had the pleasure of seeing a snowy plover, which I thought was one of the sweetest looking little birds I’d ever seen:
snowy plover

That breakwater that I took you for a walk along was also a roosting spot for some terns and a duck:
duck and terns

sea duck

I wonder what that duck is about to scoop up?  I also wonder if this is also a tern:
tern?

It was much smaller than a gull and didn’t appear to be juvenile.  Any ideas?  Tracy?

In addition to the sea birds, the yards around the cottage were very friendly to the more common birds we see everywhere in the northeast such as the sparrows, chicadees and even the hummingbirds (which of course I didn’t get a picture of).  There were many birdfeeders and birdhouses along the small lawn area of the cottage and surrounding houses.
busy birdfeeders

Many of the birdhouses were occupied with baby birds.  Busy parents spent a lot of time flying back and forth feeding the little ones:
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(Sorry that one isn’t a little clearer – I took it through a screen so that I didn’t disturb the scene.)  Looks like a nice, tasty grub the babies are so eager to eat! Yummy!  Speaking of hungry birds:
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The girls have a tradition at the end of vacation of feeding the gulls any leftover bread items that we won’t be taking home with us.  It never fails to attract a crowd.

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I guess the birds weren’t the only ones who were hungry! Gee, you might think I never feed the kid.  All part of being 13, I suppose!

ETA: I just realized that I tagged this post with “cormorant” and never included my cormorant shot.  Sorry for skipping you, cormorant!

cormorant

August 26, 2010

Visiting Southern Maine

As I may have mentioned once or twice, I have been visiting and loving the southern Maine area since I was a child.  I was very happy with the opportunity to share “my” place with you as the subject of Scott Thomas’s latest photo assignment, a travel photo essay.  I hope you enjoy your visit to the northernmost of the contiguous 48 states with me!

Piscataqua river bridge

The Piscataqua River Bridge connects the New Hampshire and Maine Turnpikes, both part of Interstate 95.  The bridge, which is 3/4 of a mile long and rises 135 feet above the river, first opened to traffic in 1972.  On summer weekends, the bridge carries over 100,000 cars a day between the two states. (pronounced: pis-CAT-ih-qwah)

Yummies

A short distance past the bridge on Route 1 in Kittery, ME, you will find an absolute must of a stop! Members of this family have been genetically unable to pass by this sign without stopping in since the store‘s opening in 1986!

Hills Beach Mosiac

Hills Beach in Biddeford, ME is a quiet, private beach community.  Lined with condos, magnificent homes and beach cottages, it has been a family destination nearly every summer since I was a small child.  The waves are gentle at high tide, and at low tide the water virtually disappears beyond the small islands off shore, making for lots of exploration space and a sandbar that allows residents of Basket Island (square 5 above) to drive to shore!  The University of New England  makes its home on Hills Beach Road.  (All pictures here can be seen in a larger version on my Flickr page)

Wood Island Light

Wood Island is one of the islands easily visible from Hills Beach.  Located near the entrance to Biddeford Pool, Wood Island Light was built in 1839 and automated in 1986.  Its signal is alternating white and green light every 10 seconds.

Goat Island Light

Lighthouses are ubitquitous along the coast of Maine.  Not far from Hills Beach, in the village of Cape Porpoise, you will find Goat Island Light.  It was built in 1859 and automated in 1990.  Its signal is a white flash every 6 seconds.

Walker Point

Perhaps one of the most commonly photographed homes, Walker Point in Kennebunkport is the summer home of former President George H.W. Bush.  It was built in 1903 by George H. Walker.  George’s daughter, Dorothy, married Prescott Bush and Walker Point has remained in the Bush family ever since.  Dorothy and Prescott’s son, and then grandson, went on to become the 41st and 43rd Presidents of the United States.

Blowing Cave

In addition to the summer home of the former President, Kennebunkport also features a natural tourist attraction located across the little bay from Walker Point known as Blowing Cave.  When the right combination of tide level, cave fullness and wave speed combine, a beautful flume of water sprays out from this erosion-carved cave.  Obviously those factors were not coming together on the day I visited!

(This is a photo of the cave in action that I took back in 2006.  I have no idea what camera I was using at the time!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit about one of my favorite places!  Maine has so much more to offer (and I still have so many more pictures to share!) This photo essay is but a tiny fraction of the treasures found in this magical place.  I’ve been as far north in Maine as Bar Harbor (home of Acadia National Park) and enjoyed beauty in many spots along the way, yet Hills Beach is the place I return to again and again.  I thank my parents for introducing this place to me and hope that I’m instilling a similar love in my own family.
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August 25, 2010

We Made It… (via A Half Hour a Day)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 8:59 pm

So remember the story I told you in my last blog post about what a small world it seems to be in the world of the blogosphere? Well, it got even smaller yesterday! I’ve mentioned my friend Renae, my best friend since childhood, a few times here and there in my blog – the quilt post, my Mystic trip and in the Walk Down Memory Lane. Renae doesn’t have a blog ( but she REALLY should, she is soooo funny!) but she was involved in the little community that grew up around Shrew’s Daily Shutters (recently back from blog inabsentia) and included Ivoryhut, Music Maven, my sister, and Kanniduba, among others. Well, check out what happened after Danielle’s horrible car trip to Florida! Sorry you had such an awful trip Danielle! Hope you time in Disney makes up for it!

We Made It... So, I will NEVER, I repeat, NEVER drive to Florida again. We prepared to leave home on Saturday morning at 2:00am.  Then overslept.  So we got up at 2:30, and gathered the last minute things.  As we made to walk out the door at 3:30, Zan got an alert from work, so he had to get online just to "check something out" before we left.  That something took about 20 minutes.  So we finally got out of the house, locked up, waved our goodbyes to our dear … Read More

via A Half Hour a Day

August 23, 2010

My Mystery Photo Subject

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 6:29 pm
Tags: , , ,

Did you read yesterday’s blog entry?  Because if you haven’t, you should really go back and read it before you read this one.  All set now?  Okay, good.

A seal? Beach Blanket Bingo? Hot air balloons? Naked sunbathers?  No, it was none of those things, although any would have made interesting photo subjects.  Well, Scott, maybe not naked sunbathers!

Here is my mystery photo subject as I first saw it:
Blue Heron 1

Coming around the bend in the little, misty harbor – there on the very edge of the bank.  Do you see it?

Blue Heron 2

I was so happy when I saw it standing there!  What a beautiful, tall bird!  I suppose they may actually be quite common, but I’d never had the opportunity to photograph a great blue heron fairly close up.  I quietly stalked the bird, creeping closer and closer, snapping picture after picture, never sure which one would be my last, closest picture.
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Blue Heron 3

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This one, as it turns out, was the closest I got….
Blue Heron 4

…before it flew away:
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Hey, Plainmama could be the owner of that boat in the background!  Although very soon she would have to change the name!

Speaking of other bloggers, the first view I actually got of that heron was on Sunday morning as I made my way down the beach in the other direction.  Rebecca the Housewrecka, another blogger from my town, was winding up her vacation just down the road from me on the weekend that we arrived! Small world, huh?
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I saw it silhouetted like this, so I wasn’t 100% positive it was a heron at the time, but I was pretty sure as I watched it fly away:
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Funny side story about Rebecca and me: Although we live in the same town, we did not know each other at all until she had a photo selected by the Pioneer Woman for one of her photo assignments of the local barber shop in our town, which I also happened to photograph for Scott’s “Hometown” assignment.  (Becky – I couldn’t find your shot from P’Dub – want to leave a link to it in the comments?)  My sister spotted the shot on PDub and told me about it.  We followed the Flickr link to her blog, which I read and started commenting on. Then, one night in town at a summer concert, I saw a woman walking through the crowd with this adorable puppy.  I suddenly made the connection and walked up and asked her if she was who I thought she was – and she somehow knew who I was too!  We figured out we were vacationing in the same spot when I recognized a view on one of her blog posts as being from this place that I love.  Small world indeed!

August 22, 2010

Morning Walk

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 3:13 pm
Tags: , , ,

I was having trouble deciding where to get started with sharing my photos from Maine.  I actually have list written here in front of me of all the different themes or titles or subjects I could use to share different groups of pictures.  As anxious as I am to share as much as possible, I know my vacation photos won’t be as interesting to you as they are to me, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to cull down to some favorites or the ones that will help me tell a story.  I finally decided to start with how I started almost every morning of my vacation: with a walk on the beach.

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This particular morning started out with fog lying over the water.  I wasn’t sure whether I’d end up getting any nice photos.  One of the great things about the place we stayed, Hills Beach in Biddeford, is the extreme fluctuation between low and high tide.  The tide was on its way out on this morning, so it made for great places to walk.

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I walked a long stretch of beach, past the area where I stayed as a child, to a breakwater, still cloaked in fog, that I know very well.
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This breakwater, and another across from it, create a channel into a small harbor.  The water remains deep enough, even at low tide, to be able to take a boat out to the open water.
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I climbed onto and walked along the breakwater until the little harbor was in plain sight, where the fog was beginning to lift.
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I was struck by the beautiful blue of the water as the sun broke through the fog.
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I was delighted by what I found around the bend from this scene.  But I am not telling what it was that I found and of which I happily photographed many many pictures.  You will have to come back to this blog another day this week to find out!  (Feel free to theorize in the comments.)

After a good amount of time spent with the mystery photography subject, I turned back and headed toward the breakwater that I have hopped along since childhood – although I admit to hopping a bit more cautiously this time around with the Rebel in hand.
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I stood on “my” breakwater and took comfort in the fact that there are still a few things about “my” beach that hadn’t changed.  I looked out as the remains of the fog lifted, and a sparkling day began.
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August 21, 2010

Home Again

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 1:35 pm

Hi everyone! We are home and I have 500+ photos from Maine to sort through and edit. We have a party to attend this afternoon, but I’m hoping to spend a good amount of time tomorrow catching up on blog reading and hopefully getting the first of many Maine posts posted. I’m missing Maine terribly right now, but I think reliving some of it through the photos will help! Thank you also to all you photographer friends for all the help and advice about using my new camera. I’m very happy with most of my shots and I am looking forward to sharing with you.

August 15, 2010

Quick “Hello” from Maine!

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 8:17 pm

Hi everyone!  I have a bit of time using some tethered Wi-Fi from hubby’s iPhone so I thought I’d take a minute to share a couple pictures from our first day and half.  Having been here for 30 hours, I’ve taken about 125 pictures so far!  Wonder what that puts me on track to take over the course of the week.  I’m having a lot of fun, even trying to remember the tips I’ve gotten from so many of you helpful folks, plus the things I’ve read in Understanding Exposure.  I’ve got a little mantra I’ve been using to try to keep the  aperture lesson straight: ” big number, big focus area, little number, little focus area.”  (That’s right, I hope? I realize it’s actually that a big number means a small aperture, but you know what I mean, right?)

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The cottage we rented for the week

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Path from cottage to beach

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View from the path

I’ll will have lots to share as the week goes on; I don’t know if I’ll blog again before I get back, but I hope you don’t get sick of views from Maine! 😀

August 13, 2010

Headed Down East

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 9:12 am
Tags: ,

According to Down East Magazine: “When ships sailed from Boston to ports in Maine (which were to the east of Boston), the wind was at their backs, so they were sailing downwind, hence the term ‘Down East.’ And it follows that when they returned to Boston they were sailing upwind; many Mainers still speak of going ‘up to Boston,’ despite the fact that the city lies approximately 50 miles to the south of Maine’s southern border.”

To my blogging friends and readers: tomorrow my family and I will head to Maine for a 1 week vacation on the beach.  I expect my internet access to be limited, perhaps only via Hubby’s iPhone, so I don’t plan to be doing any posting and will probably catch up on reading all of your blogs upon my return.  I plan to take lots and lots of photos to share! I should probably clear out my 4GB memory card, just to be sure!  I will be keeping Scott Thomas’s photo assignment in mind, and I hope you will too!

Have a wonderful week and keep your fingers crossed for nice weather for us!  I’ll leave you with some shots from last year’s vacation.

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