Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Cheesy Zucchini Pie

 What to do with all the zucchini?

 I've been giving most of them away. Of course I've cooked my dinner with them a couple of times and Tom and I had a batch breaded and fried. But, still ... you can only eat so many zucchini.

 And all from one plant.

 Dorothy Bush, a friend in Cincinnati, suggested Cheesy Zucchini Pie. That's what she did with one of the zucchini's I sent to her via Tom. She liked the result and it sounded different enough that I thought I'd give it a try. The recipe is here.

This pie has no crust and is easy to put together. The hardest part is grating the zucchini. Make sure your wring it out before you use it. And the 10 ounces they suggest? We figured that was weight, not volume, and that seemed to work.

 The topping is a mixture of eggs, flour and cheese. It's light and browns nicely. I added a little broiler to get a golden brown top ... though it wasn't necessary.

 The taste? Well, zucchini is virtually tasteless so the main flavor is onions. I used onions from my garden and they are quite strong. The onions and the zucchini cook right in the pie and that sure makes this an easy project.

 Quite flavorful and something different. And a way to make use of the annual windfall of zucchini.

Imperial Moth Returns

 I last saw one of these guys in September, 2013 (click here to see my post at that time). I was coming home  from the Y this morning and this caterpillar was lying on the concrete porch, certainly dropped out of the maple tree above. You know in advance when they're there by the little balls of excrement that rain down.

 While my purpose here is hardly to talk about excrement, this caterpillar produces something unusual. The dark little balls are textured, look almost like Four O'Clock seeds to me.

 Here's a look at what dropped in today:

 Imperial moths are common in Ohio. Interested in the life cycle and see what an adult looks like? Click here.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Cereus Blooms Again

 Our Night Blooming Cereus gave us a beautiful flower yesterday. Thursday night ... but we got up to see it. I've written about it four times here on the blog and posted many pictures. Click here to see past posts.

 It seems summer is the time it chooses to open, whether we keep it indoors (usually) or take it out to the back porch (this year). The last four times it's bloomed have been: 8-5-09, 9-4-15, 7-29-16 and 9/8/17. Perhaps I missed something in that six year gap. But I remember Mom telling me that blooms were rare. That doesn't seem to be the case of late.

July 20, 2018 - 1:19 am

 Tom and I had talked about getting up to see it fully open. Tom got up to use the bathroom about 1:15 am and I suggested we turn off the security system and step out onto the back porch. The picture above was what we were met with.
 By the way, the sky was phenomenal, too. Venus was in the west, brilliantly lightning that sector of the sky. And to our south was Jupiter and just above it, Arcturus. Both were behind a wisp of cirrus clouds, lit from above by the moon. I don't think I've eve seen a more enchanting sky.
 Leading up to the Cereus bloom I took these shots:

July 8, 2018

 Tom first discovered the bud on July 5. It took me a few days to remember to take a picture. By then it had grown quite a bit. Initially there were two buds but one dropped off.

July 19, 2018 - 8:08 pm 

 When the pink strands begin to unwrap, the flower is set to bloom as soon as it gets dark out. This is the last stage one sees before flowering/

July 19, 2018 - 10:06 pm

 I remember some years the flower has an incredible sweet scent, one that is so strong it carries through the closed door of the porch into the house. In recent years the scent has become very subtle. The flower, however, has not.
 I remember Mom and I enjoying the flower last September and I feared then that it would be the last time we'd share it together. It turns out she had just six weeks to live. My consolation this year was being able to enjoy it with Tom.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Sun Worshipers

 Sunflowers! I plant them most years and I am never sorry to see their huge yellow heads staring back at me from the garden. This year Tom and I bought two varieties. One is the "Giant Sunflower", huge things that already have passed eight feet and have not yet begun to bloom. The others are a common sunflower, already mature and blooming.

 When they are younger they exhibit heliotropism: they track the sun. During the day the giant heads follow the sun from east to west. By morning they have returned to the east. As they age, I suppose they exhibit something of human nature: they become too stiff to move. Ours are now entering that phase.

 Look at the mathematical precision of the future seeds. The exquisite whorls exhibit Fibonacci numbers causing the spiral pattern. These are Fractal patterns, the same as seen in fern leaves.

 Attracted early to the massive flower heads, we've watched butterflies and bees enjoy the early nectar there. I innocently planted two packages of seeds and two months later dinner is served. We stand beneath stalked miracles.

 Really, how high are they? I am 6'2" ... or I was before I began shrinking. Surely the giants already tower over me by two feet, maybe more. Notice that none of the "giants" have begun to bloom.

 As I watered the garden this evening, I enjoyed the shade these plants already afford. This fall the birds will take their treats here and Tom and I will enjoy the show. We planted these for their beauty. Their food is given back to nature as repayment.

The only risk is their height. Already four have been felled by a sudden storm. They break with a gust of wind. Or, after a day's rain, when the ground is soft, their surface roots cannot carry the weight and they are toppled by the wind. But that risk is not enough to stop planting them.

What better fun can come from a two dollar pack of seeds than sunflowers? Those small seeds contain such power. It is enough to stand back and watch this slow golden explosion. It's a wonder we're not knocked over by their beauty.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Red, White & Blue Ash

 July 4th found Tom and I at Summit Park in Blue Ash. It was a free event: two concerts ... John Waite and Pat Benatar ... followed by fireworks. We got there just after 4 pm (the scheduled gate opening time), walked some distance from where we had to park and found a spot at the edge of a structure that offered some protection from the sun (the high was 91°).

 Even early in the afternoon, attendees had staked a spot on the ground with folding chairs and blankets. In 2017, it was estimated that 100,000 attended this event.

 John Waite performed at 6 pm. Best known for "Missing You", the song was a number one hit in 1984.

 In another claim to fame, Waite was a part of Ringo Starr & His All-Star Band in 2003.

 The lead guitar player (l) played with Matchbox 20. I'm not quite sure who he was introduced as. Perhaps Kyle Cook.

 A short video taken during the performance of "Missing You". My essential tremor is causing the video to shake. Sorry. For the Benatar video, I took a Gabapentin and seem to have calmed a bit.

  An "Observation Tower", completed last year, looms 125 feet over the park. A glass elevator takes spectators to the top. It appears that during this event it was open only to security personnel. The structure changed color once it got dark (red, white and blue); it was made dark during the fireworks.

 Looking away from the stage, most every spot on the lawn was occupied.

 Two video screens (one on the left here) showed ads. It would have been nice if it had shown close-up's of the performers.

 At 8 pm Pat Benatar (65) took the stage. On the left is her husband, Neil "Spyder" Giraldo (62). Both are consummate professionals.

 A number of audience members sang along and danced with the performers.

 Benatar sang all of her top songs: Love is a  Battlefield, We Belong, Hit Me with Your Best Shot and Heartbreaker. The set lasted about an hour and a half.

 Here's a video of Benatar singing "Let's Stay Together" ...

 Tom was on his feet for the entire Benatar concert, She's a favorite of his. When we visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, we voted for her induction.

 Another audience member gets into the act ...

 Opposite us and far in the distance, the concerts were filmed. I wish they had placed the feed on the two large monitors.

 As Benatar's performance ended, the sun was setting and the air was cooling a bit. There was even an occasional light breeze.

 In the foreground is the structure was sat on. It had a concrete base, much nice than the ground. And a plywood board covered part of the the roof offering constant shade. I, of course, staked a spot on the north side but close enough to the corner to see the stage.

 At 10 pm Arthur Rozzi Pyrotechnics provided a spectacular fireworks show.

 The fireworks lasted until about 10:30 pm. We then walked back to Tom's car, probably half a mile east, amid thongs of others who blocked traffic. Once we found Tom's car, we sat in it until well after midnight until enough of the cars had cleared out that we were able to fairly easily exit.

 We didn't get home until about 1 am and didn't get to bed until 2 am. Since I'm usually in bed by 9 pm, that was one late night for me. I know we were both asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

 It was a wonderful free evening of entertainment. More information on events at this venue can be found here.