Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sand Dollars, Titanoboa, Blueberries, Movies.

For years I have known about Sand Dollar shells which appear in every tourist Keyhole_sand_dollarshop in North Carolina, painted or unpainted. There is a religious legend associated with them which you can read here, versions of this appear on many postcards available in sea side towns, but, it never occurred to me, until today, to find out what a sand dollar really is. Google to the rescue of course and I found a Wikipedia page all about them. I realised they must have been alive at one time, but that’s all I knew. Some of it is interesting reading telling how they move around, how they clone themselves when under attack, and how they normally mate. They are not exclusive to the east coasts of the States either. Apparently the one with which I am most familiar is the Keyhole Sand Dollar. By the time I usually see them they are totally white and frequently painted. People do find them on the beaches but few and far between, maybe the professionals have grabbed them all early.

I seem to be plagued by snakes lately. I understand a 42 ft. long fossilized snake Titanoboawas found in 2009 and now a sculptor, Kevin Hockley, has built a replica of the thing. It was so big, it snacked on crocodiles. It was christened Titanoboa. and is something in the region of 58 million years old. The critter was found in Colombia and stunned paleontologists. There is a documentary Titanoboa-Monster-dinosaursabout it on TV which is what brought it to my notice today. In fact, I seem to remember I blogged about it three years ago. I mean, look at that damned thing, the thickest part is as high as a man’s waist. The second picture is a representation of what it would have been like in its swampland home. The article talks about how it was found. The mine where it was found has, apparently, been quite a source for fossils. And I was worried about the Pythons in the Everglades, mind you, they are still living.

Thursday night I watched a delightful movie called Just Like Heaven with Reese Just Like HeavenWitherspoon (Elizabeth) in the lead. Mark Ruffalo played the male lead (David). She gets into a major car crash and her spirit haunts her apartment which is being leased by David. He eventually agrees to help her remember who and what she was/is and discover she is in a coma in the local hospital. Some of its funny, some of it’s tear jerking. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I guess it was more of a chic flic because Matt went and played a computer game. Of course Matt doesn’t like movies with things that aren’t true like ghosts. I, of course, do. Then last night Turner Classic Movies showed “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” which Matt swears he had never seen. I am sure I did see it many years ago but had basically forgotten a lot of the movie. What a great one it was, you couldn’t do better with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn and then adding Sydney Poitier to the mix, I wasn’t going to watch it again, but I am so glad I did. I hadn’t realised that the actress who was the daughter was played by Hepburn’s  young sister. They said Spencer Tracy died 17 days after the completion of the film.

Having just read an article expounding the efficacy of blueberries (in other words, how good they are for you) I thought I would share the following recipe. The article basically said a cup of wild blueberries a day will keep the doctor away. Matt has blueberries with his breakfast, I never do, maybe I should start.  Blueberries are good for high blood pressure and diabetes and are good for both heart and brain health. The emphasis here though, is on wild blueberries which I certainly don’t see round here. I loved baked camembert or brie dishes too, so I will certainly be trying this one out.

Baked Camembert with Wild Blueberry Chutney and Salad


Wild Blueberry Chutney
1 tablespoon olive oilBaked Camembert
1 medium red onion, diced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons light balsamic vinegar
3 cups (720ml) frozen wild blueberries, strained and 2 tablespoons of juice reserved
Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic Vinaigrette and Salad
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup (60 ml) light balsamic vinegar
3 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup baby (approximately 90g) arugula
½ head red lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite size pieces
2 carrots, julienned

Baked Camembert
Approximately 2 cups (475ml) vegetable oil for frying
4 tablespoons flour
2 eggs, whisked
6–8 tablespoons breadcrumbs
4 small wheels of Camembert cheese (each approximately ¼ lb. or 125 g)

Wild Blueberry Chutney
  • Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions, sweat until tender and translucent, approximately 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of honey, mix to incorporate until onions are caramelized and golden, approximately 2 minutes.
  • Deglaze with balsamic vinegar and blueberry juice.
  • Stir in blueberries, simmer until mixture has reduced to a sauce consistency, approximately 8 minutes.
  • Season Wild Blueberry Chutney with salt and pepper, remove from heat. Set aside to cool until serving.

  •   Balsamic Vinaigrette and Salad
  • In a small bowl, mix garlic, honey, mustard and balsamic vinegar together. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Whisk in olive oil and set aside until assembly.
  • Place arugula, lettuce and carrots in a bowl and place in fridge until assembly.
  •   Baked Camembert
  • Place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in individual, high sided dishes.
  • Season flour with salt.
  • Heat oil in a non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Line a tray with paper towel.
  • Dredge each wheel of Camembert, one at a time, in flour, shake off excess. Coat Camembert in egg wash, followed by breadcrumbs.
  • Gently place breaded Camembert in heated sauté pan. Once cheese is golden, approximately 2 minutes, flip and continue frying on other side until golden.
  • Remove Baked Camembert from pan and place on paper towel lined tray.
  • Repeat process with remaining Camembert
  • Assembly
  • Place each Baked Camembert on a plate.
  • Dress Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and arrange on each plate.
  • Spoon Wild Blueberry Chutney over Baked Camembert and serve immediately
  •    Have a great weekend


    1. Hi Jo, about the sand dollars, Selma, Peggy Ham, and I found a bunch over at Fort Macon on Nov....we had to wade waist deep to get them, but they were alive and our grand daughter brought some here that she and friends found on an island and they as well, were alive and green.....we bleached them out and those that Hailey brought are now ready for decoration for Christmas. Have a great Day Love Dottie

      1. Never did find any myself. Interesting critters. Did you read the article. Do you decorate your tree with them like Selma did? Can't remember.

      2. Yes, I still have most of them.....they have yellowed with age, and I need to take a few and see if I can rebleach them.....but Hailey is so tickled to have her own to put on the tree....Selma and I made ornaments from the clamshells as well as the sand dollars.....Bill patiently drilled holes into hundreds for us and we sprayed and decorated....some of my fondest moments. I crocheted the strings for them with red and white thread. Dottie

      3. I remember Selma's tree as being really unusual and pretty. For some reason cannot remember seeing your tree at any time.

    2. We saw a special on that snake. It was huge.

      1. Must have missed it. Pity. Can you imagine meeting up with that monster?