My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Feathers, leeks and unicorns

We went on a long hike with the dogs on Sunday - a beautiful, warm, sunny Spring day (that didn't fool us one bit, since hard-earned experience has us girding our loins for the big snowstorms that come in late March and April), and I found this wild turkey feather waving from a dead stem like a little avian flag.

I found two more turkey feathers in the same vicinity, which was on the edge of a very deep and wide ravine that the turkeys often fly across. Apparently when they flapped their wings for take-off, a few feathers came loose. I find turkey feathers on my hikes all the time, but usually in the summer. I'd never found winter feathers before, which were covered with incredibly thick, soft, warm down that their sleek and streamlined summer feathers lack.

Note the iridescent shimmer of the feathers' tips,
the fluffy soft down of their bases and midsections,
and the two naughty adventure dogs in the distance. :-)

I stuck the trio in the snow for someone else to find - perhaps a barn swallow or wee field mouse will use the down to line their nests!

We returned from our hike to feast on a new soup recipe we tried this weekend from our newest cookbook, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment by Jill Nussinow, one of our cooking instructors at Camp McDougall. I often have difficulty finding organic Yukon Gold potatoes, or leeks that don't look like they were used to sweep a barnyard, but last week I won the lottery. And so, potato-leek soup, made in the pressure cooker, was our yummy reward along with organic oat bran bread and über-deluxe tossed salads!

This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I took this photo last week and was just wondering if anyone else sees the unicorn prancing across the sky? :-)

It actually looked a lot more unicorn-like a couple moments earlier, but by the time I grabbed my camera and snapped this picture, the wind currents had thickened his neck and dislocated his front knee! :-( But at least his unicorn horn was still intact, and his mane and tail (which seems to have an arrow pointing at it) were still flying! There's nothing like a warm, sunny day to make everyone - including cloud unicorns - want to kick up their heels! :-)

More goodies for fellow cloud-gazers can be found here, here, and here. :-)


  1. A cookbook recommendation? Seriously, it is healthy? If so I need to pick this one up. I have so few healthy books.

    I absolutely see the unicorn. That is wild! Good eye!

    The girls do get far away on their walks don't they? I would say adventure dogs is a good name for them.


  2. Hi, Ali! The dogs are funny on our hikes. Willow usually sticks close by, Tess ranges way out ahead, and Josie lags way behind (too distracted by sniffing everything in her path!) So we're quite a parade. :-)

    I'm not sure I can recommend the cookbook since I've only tried two of the recipes so far! :-) But as cookbooks go, this one is healthier than most. There are quite a few more details in the Amazon reviews, but I'll try to review it here á la Ali review-style! :-)


    1. Almost every recipe calls for oil. (But see "Pros" for caveats!)
    2. There are no photos.
    3. Some recipes call for honey (so it's not vegan), but that's easily subbed with agave nectar, date syrup, etc.
    4. It's a pretty pricey cookbook, given that it's not very thick (around a hundred recipes).

    1. Most of the oil called for is for sautéing, so that's easily dealt with. In fact, she has a page with info and tips for McDougallers at the front of the book, telling you how to dry sauté, what to use for an oil sub in her salad dressings, and additional tips about substitutions or omissions. Not every recipe can be easily made oil free, but the vast majority can. And she has individual notes for McDougallers at the top of some of the recipes, too.

    2. The recipes are almost entirely whole-food. So far I've only seen one that called for vegan margarine, and very, very few use any sweetener (usually sucanat, stevia or the aforementioned honey). I think I've only noticed one recipe that used any flour. They are veggie-intensive, along with fruit and legumes. Now and then she calls for vegan cheese (usually easily omitted), but I haven't noticed any recipes that use TVP or meat analogues. She uses tofu, tempeh, and mushrooms instead.

    3. She includes some helpful notes about various vegetables, like when to buy them, how to select, store and prepare them, etc.

    4. She has the recipes arranged by season, with another chapter for any time of year and a chapter devoted to pressure cooker recipes. (And because I know you especially love these, I wanted to tell you she uses mushrooms quite a bit, has several different salad recipes and three recipes for veggie burgers!) ;-)

    5. The book has a great index!

    Hope that helps! :-)

  3. Definitely a unicorn. Totally. Well-spotted.

  4. I see the unicorn, too! It sounds like you had a very pleasant time. :)

  5. Lalo,

    Thanks so much for the thorough review! I will look for it on my next trip to the bookstore.


  6. Ali, Mary & Molly - I am glad you saw the unicorn too! Clearly, you would all be great fun to sit on a hillside with, spending a lazy summer afternoon identifying cloud shapes. :-)

    Ali, I hope you can find this in a bookstore. Having a chance to browse through it would be good!

  7. I loved the turkey feathers. They were so full and fluffy looking. The way you put them in the snow made me laugh. To me it looked like a Turkey tail where the Turkey's body got buried like in an avalanche. (or like when a 2 year old plays hide and seek and thinks they are hidden when only their head is hidden). Maybe other tiny critters will also get a chuckle out of it. I like to think that little critters laugh.

    I could definitely see the unicorn too.

  8. AdventureJo - Yay, another unicorn-spotter! :-)

    Of course wee critters laugh! You should hear Val and Tino giggling at all hours of the night. :-) I'll have to tell them what you said about the turkey feathers sticking up out of the snow, that will make them giggle for sure! It made me laugh - especially the part about how they reminded you of a toddler who thinks they're hidden when only their head is! LOL

    (Btw, aren't you supposed to be in class??? It's okay, I won't tell anybody!) ;-)

  9. Looks like a unicorn to me ;-). And this is coming from someone who can pick out (or make any shape formed from clouds. I saw Winston Churchill the other day ;-).

  10. Spuddles, my fellow cloud gazer! So you saw Sir Winston the other day, eh? Stogie and all? How's old Winnie looking these days? (Curmudgeonly in a cumulous kind of way, I'll wager!) :-)

  11. Nope, no Winnie....just Winston and his stogie, burned down to a nubbin'!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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