Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Four berries for breakfast...

Lookie here at what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow!

Chris picked these this afternoon.  They look and smell delicious.  I can't wait to enjoy them as part of my breakfast tomorrow morning.

While I was in Baltimore over the weekend, I did get the chance to stop at Valley View Farms in Hunt Valley, MD to look for a zucchini plant...and a few other things:

Zucchini - only two plants this year will mean having a manageable harvest...presumably.  One of my favorite things to make with zucchini besides zucchini bread is "zucchini oven chips."  These little gems are thin slices of zucchini dipped in skim milk and then a mix of bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and pepper and then baked until they are crispy like, well...chips!

Cucumbers - same with the zucchini, just two plants to keep the crop manageable.  My parents reminded me of a simple salad of cucumbers, onion, vinegar, and sugar over the weekend...I can't wait to make this with my homegrown cukes!

Lemon Thyme - I like fresh thyme and this lemon variety just sounded good!

Mint - for mojitos, natch!  And iced tea.  But mostly mojitos.  ;)  And check out the variety...pineapple!!!  I may or may not have said, outloud at Valley View, "Hells yeah, pineapple mint!"

Chives - they're a perennial and I actually really like the flowers on chive plants.  I will use these from time to time for cooking...definitely for baked potatoes with sour cream!  

Gerbera Daisies - OK, these obviously aren't going in the vegetable garden, but I wanted to showcase them since my mom bought them for me.  I *love* Gerbera daisies; they are my absolute favorite flowers!  I love them in all colors, but my most favorite color is the deep, deep red...<sigh>.  Gorgeous.  I do like this light peachy pink variety that Mom got me.  Thanks, Madre!

Finally, if you're a long-time reader, and by long-time I mean "all 12 days this blog has been in existence," you may remember from my second post that we have an American Robin nest in one of the Arbor Vitae out front.  I snapped this next picture on Friday, May 27th; two of the babies hatched that afternoon.

Wanting to give Momma Robin, or Mobbin as I've been calling her, a few stress-free days, I didn't take another picture until this evening.  You'll see three faces and the back of the head of the fourth baby bird.  My goodness they look uncomfortable in this heat.  When I first pulled back on the bush to reveal the nest, the one little baby's head was hanging out over the edge of the nest as if to say, "omg, it's hot!"  Mobbin must have been out eating; she was not on the nest when I went outside and she was nowhere to be seen or heard.  

OK...last picture...the Rhododendrons are in full bloom in the front gardens.  

Monday, May 30, 2011

A scorcher in the saddle...

...man alive it was a hot one today!  Scooby's temperature gauge indicated 90 degrees most of the way up US 322 from Harrisburg to State College this afternoon between 12 and 1:30 PM.  So naturally, I thought it was a good idea to once again* don the mostly black helmet, black jacket, black pants, and black boots and climb on the back of the Concours for an afternoon ride with Chris.

We set out at exactly 2 PM and the temperature was 84 degrees.  I didn't snap this first picture until we got out of the neighborhood.  Our starting mileage was 11,380.  (BTW, the Connie is just over 10 months old...loving that average monthly mileage!)
Off we go!  84 degrees and sunny.

We headed north on PA 550 to the Julian Pike, crossed US 220, and headed out Beaver Road to Black Moshannon State Park.  We were briefly on PA 504 west (very briefly) before hanging a right on Casanova Road, which led us past the Campground at Black Mo and north toward Winburne (Casanova to Casanova Spur to Winburne Road).  Casanova Road was not my favorite road; it was quite bumpy and I was getting bounced around in the saddle...a lot.  

Heading north on PA 550 just past Waddle.

Julian Pike

Swimmers on the beach at Black Moshannon State Park

Casanova Road

Blue skies and sunshine = WINNING!

Sign indicating we're approaching an ATV crossing

We turned right on Kylertown Drifting Highway (oh, the irony of the picture) and headed north on PA 53 to Moshannon, where we picked up PA 144 south through Snow Shoe and down to Wingate.  We continued on PA 144 south through Milesburg, Bellefonte, and Axemann to Rishel Hill Road, which brought us behind the Centre County Correctional Facility and over toward Fisherman's Paradise on Spring Creek Road.  This where we encountered a douchbag in a minivan who insisted on going 15 MPH in a 35.  We didn't last too long behind him.  It was also on this road where we were forced to skirt around a minivan who had to slam on his brakes to avoid rear-ending the jerk in front of him who stopped in the middle of the road while executing the worst right-hand turn EVER.  Here's where I think, "I'm so glad I ride with a proficient motorcyclist."  I put my life in his hands and I trust him to take good care of me.  

Love the irony!

Hey Yogi!

Farm Crossing Ahead

Wink, wink!

Heading south on PA 144 toward Wingate

Spring Creek in Bellefonte

Tallyrand Park in Bellefonte

Village of Axemann

Jimmy Carter came (still comes?) to Spring Creek to go fishing.

Their house has a bridge...does yours?!?

Spring Creek - world famous fishing right in Centre County

Accident avoided, it was a short jaunt south on PA 550 to Rock Road, through Houserville and Lemont (via Houserville Road, Pike Street, and East Branch Road) until we reached our destination - Meyer Dairy!  Any good, hot, summer afternoon ride has to include ice cream - "to be cooled down" is a basic physiological need!  :)  Chris went with his traditional small hot fudge sundae with mint flake ice cream; I tried a new flavor - orange pineapple.  It did not disappoint!


Ever the traditionalist - hot fudge sundae w/mint flake.

Trying something new - orange pineapple ice cream.  YUMMO!

Trying to be artsy with the helmets.

From Meyer Dairy, we headed south on Business US 322 to PA 45 and proceeded west on PA 45 to Pennsylvania Furnace, where we turned right onto...drum roll, please...Marengo Road!  If you've read any of my other local ride reports, you know this is a sweet road that is practically in our backyard and we try to take it coming or going whenever possible.  

My proficient motorcyclist

Oh, hey!  How's tricks?

Looking over Chris' right shoulder...

...and then his left.

Do you need any livestock evaluated?  If so, bring them here. 
(USDA Livestock Evaluation Center)

I hear a chorus of angels...we must be on Marengo Road!

Oh Marengo...you're such twisty fun!

A shady patch along Marengo Road

We returned home at 5 PM with three hours of saddle time and just under 100 miles.  

*I did a very brief ride with my friend, Chris Hornberger, on the back of his Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive this morning.  I negotiated this ride as part of what he owed me for doing him a favor last week.  That Burgman is a hoot!  I was a little hesitant to ride with someone else, but once I hopped on the back and we took off, I knew I didn't have anything to be afraid of. We did a quick little loop out from the Starbucks in Shrewsbury that was approximately 11 miles and took about 25 minutes that sent me back to Happy Valley...well, happy!  Thanks, Bubbles!!!  Now don't lose any more keys!  ;)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

'Til we till...

...our vegetable plants reside on the deck.  We bought almost everything we need for the vegetable garden last weekend.  The only thing we still need to find is zucchini.  In fact, that's on my to-do list today, and if I can't find any locally, I guess I'll look at Valley View Farm in Hunt Valley, MD when I make my way to Baltimore tomorrow morning.  

With the amount of rainy days we've had this spring, we've been hard-pressed to find a good day to rent the high-powered, super-duty tiller from United Rentals.  We're hoping to be able to rent it one day this week so we can get the soil turned and get the plants in the ground.  I am SO READY for garden-fresh veggies!

Here is what we have going into the garden:

Sunsugar Cherry Tomatoes - these were an absolute FAVORITE of many of my co-workers last summer.  I would bring in entire grocery bags full of these suckers and they would disappear almost instantly.  Some folks would just eat them like candy during the day in the office.  I don't think many Sunsugars made it home!  These are delicious in salads and for snacking.

Burpee Big Boy Tomatoes - for hamburgers and sandwiches.  Mmm...a simply sandwich of sliced tomatoes and a slight slathering of mayo on white toast...that's a little slice of summer heaven right there!

Sweet Olive Grape Tomatoes - another variety that is good for salads and for snacking.  I also have some "light" summer pasta recipes that call for grape tomatoes...looking forward to trying those out.

Cilantro - fresh salsa, anyone?  I'll have plenty of tomatoes!  And I love the smell of it.

Sweet Basil - another intoxicating smell!  I LOVE fresh sweet basil.  My favorite use for sweet basil is to slice up a ball of fresh mozzarella and do toothpick-skewers of a hunk of mozzarella, a grape or cherry tomato, and a basil leaf.  Make up a plate of those, drizzle with some EVOO, and grind some fresh black pepper on them...easy-peasy, light, summer appetizer!

Leaf Lettuce - for hamburgers, sandwiches, and salad.

Gold Rush Squash - a hybrid yellow-skinned, zucchini-type squash.  This is a new one for me; I bought it because I couldn't find regular zucchini.  I like serving a mix of green and yellow squash when I steam it up, so I think this will work nicely.  The yellow crookneck squash I've done in the past has had a horribly tough skin that I did not care for at all.

Orange King Sweet Peppers - these beauties will allegedly be orange (duh) and big (hence, "king").  We'll see...

Cantaloupe - nothing says "summer breakfast" to me more than fresh sliced cantaloupe.

Sugar Baby Watermelon - likewise, fresh sliced watermelon says "hot summer night snack" like nothing else!  I love watermelon!

Green and Yellow Beans - like green and yellow squash, I like to prepare a mix of green and yellow beans when I serve them.  Beans have done wonderfully for me over the past few years, so I am hopeful this season will be no different.

Broccoli - for snacking at lunch, in salads, and for steaming for dinner.

If you've been to/seen our garden over the last few years, you might notice we're not doing as many plants as in years past, so our overabundance of vegetables won't be the same.  Rest assured, however, we will share what we can, when we can!