Thursday, August 22, 2019

Squirrels, Exercises, Stew,

Funny, I talked about squirrels yesterday and to night PBS showed a film about them. I didn't realise there were so many families of squirrels, nor did I realise that Prairie Dogs and Chipmunks were part of those families. Probably should have done. I knew they had clever brains, but one squirrel variety can increase the size of it's brain in winter and decreased in the spring so that it can recall the position of some 9,000 nuts it has secreted during the year. People say they forget the nuts they hide, but according to the documentary, it is more likely they didn't need the others. They bury some 10,000 every year. Another fascinating ground squirrel can confuse a predataory snake by first throwing dirt on it which allows it to listen to the rattle so it can estimate the size and danger of the snake, it can then pump extra blood into it's tail which it waves at the snake which is sensing the warm blooded animal and the increased blood in the tail makes the snake think it is much bigger than it is and changes its mind. I knew squirrels were clever, but it was fascinating to see this documentary.

I went down to exercise class this afternoon and the room was very warm, used to have two standing fans there but now there is only one. I managed fairly well I am pleased to say. I then came back into the apartment and just conked out. I am not sure how long I slept, but it seemed like forever.

Mind you, I made my Spiced Beef in Red Wine this morning. A lot harder work than I remembered. All the prep work was really playing havoc with my back. However, I have to report success. We ended up having it for supper although I had kind of thought of just doing it for the freezer. I still have close on 1 lb of beef to use up but am out of leeks. I was very pleased with the results though. Having checked a few recipes on line, I did flour the beef before I cooked it.

Just before lunch, ladydog called and said she was on her way. She thought we were going to the Red Lobster today instead of tomorrow. However, looking at my calendar tonight, I wonder if I goofed. I certainly intended it to be Thursday so I could go to exercises today, but I had written it down for today. Either way, we are definitely going there tomorrow. If I goofed ladydog, I apologise.

I thought this chilled soup sounded good although there is a lot more than just peaches and goat cheese.I think I might try this over the weekend.

Chilled Peach Soup with Fresh Goat Cheese

Chef Jason Franey of Seattle's Canlis makes this sweet and tangy summer soup by marinating fresh peaches overnight with dried apricots, honey, vinegar and olive oil and then pureeing the mixture.
Since peaches can vary in flavor, Franey suggests seasoning with vinegar to taste as you purée

3 cups sliced peeled peaches (about 4 peaches)
1/4 cup finely diced peeled seedless cucumber, plus thin slices for garnish
1/4 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper, plus thin slices for garnish
1/4 cup diced dried apricots
2 Tbs honey 3 tablespoons crumbled fresh goat cheese, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, plus more for seasoning
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
1 large garlic clove
2 cups diced baguette (1/2 inch)
Basil leaves, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper

1. In a bowl, toss the peaches, diced cucumber, yellow pepper and apricots. Add the honey, 3 tablespoons of goat cheese, 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Add the garlic. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Discard the garlic. Transfer the contents of the bowl to a blender and purée. Add 1/4 cup of water and purée until very smooth and creamy; add more water if the soup seems too thick. Season with salt and vinegar. Refrigerate the soup until very cold, about 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the diced bread and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the croutons to paper towels and season with salt.

4. Pour the peach soup into shallow bowls and garnish with the sliced cucumber, sliced bell pepper, goat cheese, croutons and basil. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season with black pepper and serve.

Servings: 4

Source Food & Wine

Author Notes
Pairing wine with soup can sometimes feel like too much liquid at once, but in this case, a glass of Champagne gives a nice lift to this fruity soup. Pour a refreshing Brut like the NV Henriot Brut Souverain or the NV Gosset Excellence Brut.

Have a great day


  1. Hi Jo - funny about the squirrels ... I was in St James Park yesterday and the only 'rare breed' wildlife I saw was a squirrel! The RB Survival Trust is bringing a few in to graze the park to see the difference between mown and natural grazing. They'd obviously taken them back to the farm in Mudchute ...

    Well done on the beef ... I heard them say that the elderlies spend too much time on their backsides (me too!) ... but even getting up and doing the dishes, hoovering, dusting all helps - so your cooking does too - I go very simple now ... though peach soup and goats cheese sounds delicious - cheers Hilary

    1. They showed a section about a Scottish woman who works at saving red squirrels. Grazing? I didn't know squirrels grazed.

      I don't do much housework Hilary, but I do spend a lot of time cooking.

  2. I dislike squirrels almost as much as I hate deer. Interesting documentary a few years ago about how pine trees have years when they produce no cones in order to starve the squirrels. Seems that the squirrels eat the seed cones and decrease the number of new trees that can sprout, so the pine trees communicate to each other in the forest not to produce food for them. Fascinating.

    1. I figured you would Denise. I would love to have seen that documentary. Fascinating that they do that. Of course now you have me worried, I just read a novel about trees attacking humans.

  3. Watching them, you wouldn't think squirrels were smart.
    Glad you got down to the exercise room.

    1. Saw a programme years ago about someone setting up a really complicated trail to get nuts and they filmed the squirrels working it out over a few days. Clever little so and sos Alex.

      Yes, I can't do as much as I used to but better than none at all.

  4. It was probably me being confused. I've been distracted all week.

    1. Well, I hope you remember lunch is today.

  5. The things I have learned today about squirrels... I will never look at them the same again. I always thought they were a bit "ratty" to me, but I'm a changed man :)

    1. I'm glad you are a changed man Mork, but not sure it was the squirrels that did it.