Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hiking Along Blue Water Creek

Went with the hubby and the dog, Benni, today to a BLM wilderness area called Bluewater Creek, near Grants, New Mexico. The hike along the river was a little over three and a half miles out and back.

The creek gets its name from Bluewater Lake which is upriver. I’ve never been there so I can’t vouch for whether the lake is blue, but the creek is not blue by any stretch.

Brown water creek would be more accurate. Much like every other river and stream I’ve seen in New Mexico, except maybe Sitting Bull Falls down near Carlsbad which is in an earlier post.

The waters, both lakes and streams, in New Mexico are mostly murky, silty, brown; but hey, water in the desert is a gift.

These waters are fast flowing and make pleasant babbling sounds here and there or louder rushing water sounds as they spill over rocks and ledges.

The trail crosses the stream at three points (maybe a fourth but the trail kind of gets lost at that point) and the engineers did not do a great job of placing nice flat rocks to walk plan to have wet shoes if you cross the stream. Bring water, lunch, a walking stick, phone, camera.

The stream runs through a canyon with high rock cliffs on both sides in some areas. The contrast between the rocky cliffs, the desert plants, and the more lush vegetation and varied plant specimens along the river is very striking.

I was especially fascinated by the wide variety of vegetation and the fact that many of the plants are not seen very often in New Mexico. Some remind me of plants native to my New England woods.

The area along the river is a micro climate and micro botanical garden.

I am not a botanist but I will take a stab at naming a few of the plants we saw. There are dense stands of small willow trees, almost bamboo-like along the river. Along with the ubiquitous Junipers, some PiƱon, a few species of Oak, wild Iris, Prickly Pear, Cholla, Maidenhair Fern, Dandelions, wild Verbena, etc.

Here are a few photos: (If I have mislabeled any or if you have a better description, please leave a comment and I will make corrections).

Click on photo to enlarge:
Wild Roses (A Smaller Version of Cape Cod Rose)

Benni Fetching a Stick - Willow Along the Stream
Indian Paint Brush?


Wild Geranium
More Wild Geranium
I really want to know what kind of Juniper or Cedar or (?) has these yellow flowers
Unknown - These flowers are on a tree, similar to a Juniper
(Readers suggested Mexican Cliffrose or Mesquite)

Sad How People Can Ruin a Beautiful Spot - This came down off a cliff
Some Variety of Maple
Pin Oak?
Another Variety of Oak
Virginia Creeper
Claret Cup Cactus - Certainly not too rare in New Mexico
I think this is Horsetail
Wild Geranium

A Display of Cholla Cactus
One of Three Crossings - Plan to get your shoes wet


Friday, May 15, 2020

My Best Italian Bread Ever

I was up at 4:30 am after being awake for an hour. Decided to make bread dough.

Then I made blueberry-banana-walnut muffins for breakfast along with "one -eye sandwiches" or "egg-in-a-hole".  Later made meatballs, sausages, braised pork in wine - all for the tomato sauce.

But back to the bread.

My more recent attempts with a softer dough (more water) resulted in very good, but somewhat flat loaves. There was good texture, but the dough spread out on the baking sheet and the loaves looked more like focaccia.

The "experts" tout "high hydration" and small amounts of yeast as the key to success. Some even say "no-knead" bread is the way to go. Tried them all.

I had been more successful before consulting all the experts, so I went back to my original non-recipe technique. My "recipe" is simple. Makes three loaves of Italian-style bread.

One coffee mug of warm water, three teaspoons of yeast, a little sugar (not more than a teaspoon) into a large bowl and let the yeast start ot foam up and make bubbles.

Add flour (2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour and the rest King Arthur Bread Flour and some All Purpose flour) and three teaspoons of salt. But I never actually "measure" the flour. Next time I will make an attempt to do so.

So I add some of the flour (maybe 3 cups) to the water/yeast and beat it with a wooden spoon, then keep adding flour until it's too stiff to work with a spoon. Then I knead it and add small amounts of flour until the dough is not sticky, but still soft. And knead it some more.

It goes into the fridge for 6-8 hours. It comes out of the fridge and I punch it down, then let it come to room temperature.

Sprinkle corn meal generously on baking sheets, divide dough it into three, form loaves, place on baking sheets, let rise for 45 minutes plus the time for the oven to heat, set oven temperature to 475 degrees, when temperature is 475, place a roasting pan of boiling water on floor of oven, brush loaves with cold water, sprinkle sesame seeds if desired, slit loaves with razor or scissors, put loaves in oven, rotate loaves from top and bottom shelves after 10-12 minutes, bake for another 12-15 minutes till the loaves are well browned, turn off oven, remove loaves from baking sheet and place them on oven rack, crack open the oven door with some potholders and let oven cool along with the bread loaves.

Perfection. Crisp, crunchy crust. Soft, light, interior. Bready, yeasty, delectable taste. With some butter or with a meatball and tomato sauce.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be out in the garden.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Life in New Mexico

A few videos from this morning. I had to stop when I saw these feral horses frolicking in the field along the highway.  There were at least six horses pairing off and having a fun time. Quite a sight for a Connecticut Yankee.

Happened to be listening to  Jeff Krasner's album,  Strong for You playing in the background. Unfortunately, they seemed more interested in the car or me and stopped to stare for a while.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

LGBTQ Seniors Hit by Lockdown Isolation

In lieu of writing a post, which I've been mulling over, I'm sharing some excerpts from an Article from the Daily Beast: LGBTQ Seniors Hit by Lockdown Isolation ‘Triple Whammy’ Are Fighting Back

While most of the SAGE members are from New York City, their experiences may ring true to some of us.

       The virus has raised other urgent questions for LGBTQ seniors: the quality, as well as quantity, of the life they have left. Kevin Burns, 71, from Albany, told The Daily Beast:

       “The thing at the back of your mind is ‘How many years do I have left?’ It’s complicated. In your seventies, you are hoping to do things, because in your eighties you may have to slow down. For the last couple of months, we have lost this time, and we are thinking, ‘How much more time are we going to lose?’”

      “We were told from the beginning that coronavirus especially affected their age group,” said Paulette. “Our immune systems are weaker, the virus attacks organs and blood. So because you’re older you have this worry it’s just going to come and get you. So you isolate.
     “As many years as we hope we have, they are running down, and now we are deprived of what we enjoy doing even if it’s once a week, or whatever the time frame is and whatever the activity is. The virus is cheating us of our remaining time. For me, personally, spring was a time to travel. Not being able to do that is a minor glitch compared to other people’s suffering. But as seniors, we all have things we look forward to. This current situation means we can’t do anything. How long will this go on? How long will older people be told they cannot go out, or do things?”

      Burns and his friends presume this spring and summer are now a diary-date tundra. No dinners, no holidays, no Broadway trips, no Tanglewood, no Williamstown Theatre Festival, no trips to the Cape or Maine before the main holiday season begins. “I know this may sound frivolous. I know people are suffering. But these are just the things I did and am missing. I know I am lucky, and am thankful for that.”

      Every senior Burns knows is being scrupulous about wearing a mask and washing hands. He laughed. “People talk about the danger of underlying issues. We all have the same underlying issue: It’s age! It’s kind of infuriating to do what we’re told and then see younger people hanging out together not wearing masks when I go out walking.

 As for me...Walk the dog each morning with neighbors on the trails around town, but I'm basically an introvert and spend most days alone anyway. Lucky to have my gardens and flowers. Grocery store every two weeks, and that can be frightening.

The deck has seating for a crowd and we usually have a crowd over a few times during the summer. But it's just me and Leon, so far.


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