Archive | November 2014

Trees in the Fall

Sarah

I live in a wooded part of the state of Texas.  The woods are filled with several varieties of oak, sweet gum, hickory, pine and magnolia.  Every year about Thanksgiving, which is coming up this week, the leaves of the deciduous trees turn all sorts of glorious colors:  yellow, bronze, copper, gold, orange, red and maroon.  The view of the trees from my house is fabulous!  I know the northeast is known for spectacular fall color, but this is pretty impressive.  Crepe myrtles are commonly planted here, and they can be quite vivid.  There are a couple of other trees that should be mentioned:  the Chinese tallow and the ornamental pear.  The tallow tree is not a native and is really a trashy tree and not long lived, but it redeems itself every fall with its showy leaves.  The ornamental pear is not particularly long lived either, but the white blossoms in the early spring and beautiful fall color make it quite popular.  Another of my favorites for its color is the bald cypress. It’s actually a conifer that’s deciduous.  The bald cypress is fast growing and lives a long time.  I have one in my yard which I planted.  The only thing I don’t like about it is its “knees” which come up in inappropriate places!

I’ve tried growing a couple of Japanese maples with no success.  That maple is an under story tree.  I made the mistake of planting one in an area that receives intense afternoon sun.  Its leaves sort of fried every summer.  In another attempt, I planted a maple near my front door.  It seemed to thrive for several years but suddenly died.  I don’t think I’ll try another one.

There are many folks that love the desert and others who like an expanse of sandy beach, but I’m very pleased and thankful to live in the forest– particularly at this time of year.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Drink to Your Health

Becker Vineyards Iconoclast Cabernet Sauvignon

Becker Vineyards Iconoclast Cabernet Sauvignon

Sarah

From Health:

“The list of wines’ benefits is long—and getting more surprising all the time. Already well-known as heart healthy, wine in moderation might help you lose weight, reduce forgetfulness, boost your immunity, and help prevent bone loss.”

Wow! I’ve enjoyed a glass (or two) of wine in the evening for some time.  I didn’t realize I was drinking to my health.

Others claim that wine consumption lowers the risk of having a stroke, cuts the chance of developing cataracts and diminishes the risk of contracting colon cancer.  This just gets better and better!

There are a lot of wineries in Texas, and many produce good wine.  One of my favorites is Becker Winery which is located in the Texas Hill Country.  Their Iconoclast Cabernet Sauvignon is quite reasonably priced.  Becker Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is pricier but highly recommended.

I was recently surprised to read that Mexico is listed among the top 10 wine travel destinations. As I read further, I learned that the article was referring to the Guadalupe Valley (Baja California) which is less than two hours south of San Diego.  Wineries, hotels and chefs have teamed up to create a wine route along Route 3.  I hadn’t seen Mexican wines for sale locally, but after a bit of a search I found that they’re sold at a nearby Spec’s.  This location offers two reds and a white.  I plan to stop by and buy a bottle of each–unless they’re exorbitantly priced!

Cheers!

The Practice of Yoga

 

Susan

I went to a yoga class last night at a neighborhood church and left feeling very energized. My sister Sarah has been practicing yoga since May and has been encouraging the other two sisters to do this also. She and I have had a few back issues and she believes the yoga has been very therapeutic. She practices a form of yoga called hatha. The class I attended was Iyengar yoga which emphasizes flexibility and involves the use of props which enable the participant to perform the various poses. That means if you are very stiff and inflexible you can use a towel or something to perform the pose without risk of injury. My instructor believes that it is very important to maintain correct alignment, especially as we age, to enable our organs and bones to function optimally. I intend to continue to attend the classes in the hope of increasing my flexibility and balance. I will report on any major breakthroughs: if I am ever able to do the wheel pose, urdhva dhanurasana!

Fall Veggies

Sarah

We have such a great variety of vegetables available to us.  At this time of year I’m particularly enjoying all kinds of squash.  I recently fixed butternut squash for the first time., and today I’m trying spaghetti squash.  I just follow the recipes on the stickers on the squash.  The spaghetti squash recipe recommends adding butter, Parmesan cheese and garlic to the shredded squash.  Sounds good.  The most difficult thing about working with these squash is splitting them open to scrape out the seeds and strings!

I’m also cooking beets (for a very long time).  When cool, I’ll peel and slice them and add olive oil and vinegar to sort of pickle them.  Delicious served cold.  Acorn squash is another of my favorites.  I have an old recipe that includes sauteed onion and herb seasoned stuffing.  Of course, sweet potatoes are wonderful and a staple in my diet.  I’m thinking of making the recipe below to enjoy after the candlelight service on Christmas Eve.  Yum!

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

1/4 c. finely chopped onion                                                                                   1 t. brown sugar

2 T. butter                                                                                                                       1/8 t. ground nutmeg

1 t. curry powder                                                                                                          1/4 t. salt

1 T. flour                                                                                                                            1/8 t. pepper

2 cans (10.5 oz each) chicken broth                                                                      1 c. light cream

1 can (1 lb.) pumpkin                                                                                                    Minced chives for garnish

In a 3-qt. saucepan, saute onion in butter over medium heat until limp.  Stir in curry and flour and cook until bubbly.  Remove from heat, and gradually stir in chicken broth.  Add pumpkin, sugar, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to simmer.  Stir in cream, and continue heating, but do not boil.  Garnish with a few minced chives or parsley when served.

Serves 8