Skipper butterfly on chive bloom

26 05 2018

Nikon D850, Nikkor 105mm micro

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


WEB Skipper on Chives

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Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

26 01 2011

Comfrey (also comphrey) is a perennial herb of the family Boraginaceae and is native to Europe. I photographed this flower at the Huntsville Botanical Garden in Huntsville, Alabama.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





“With Basil then I will begin, Whose scent is wondrous pleasing”

3 10 2010

Re-post from 10.13.2008

…from Michael Drayton’s 1612 topographical poem, “Polyolbion,” describing England and Wales. Drayton was an Elizabethan poet and one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries.

Yesterday Karen and Gina and I made far more pesto than we really needed. My basil harvest was fairly skimpy this year (enough for about 4 cups total). Gina’s harvest was about the same. Enter Karen—that’s her in the first photo, arriving with a bountiful harvest of both Genovese and Purple Basil that she and I planted in late spring in her memorial garden honoring her mother.

In the second photo, you’ll see all the ingredients necessary for a “Pesto Preparation Party.” Ample basil, olive oil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic, a food processor, salt and pepper, and plastic containers for freezing. The soda and brownie bites are simply fuel for the cooks (but every bit as essential).

Gina and I have made pesto from our homegrown basil for the past two gardening seasons. This year Karen joined us (thankfully—otherwise, our final product would have been far more skimpy!). Having never made pesto, Karen was an eager and willing assistant. We told her our basic recipe, but after watching us “tweak” the recipe batch after batch, no doubt she is now confused on exactly how much of each ingredient we really used. Gina, as usual, served as the quality control inspector, sampling each batch on a bit of bread, then announcing, “needs more garlic,” “tastes too green and/or basil-y,” “add more salt,” and “cheese, must have more cheese!” Each batch was a little different from the previous one, so we ultimately just combined all the batches into one. Please don’t ask me for our final recipe. We have no idea what it is. We just make it from a basic recipe similar to the one here, (or see recipe below) then tweak to perfection as we go along.

Basil Pesto Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. If you are using walnuts instead and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first before adding the basil. Add the garlic then pulse a few more times.

2. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula. Add grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup. Serve with pasta, over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguettes.

We ended up with SIXTEEN containers of pesto. When Gina and I prepare pesto with our meager harvest, we max out at about seven containers. Muchas gracias to Karen and her contribution this year!

SIDEBAR: Every year Gina and I make pesto in preparation for the much-anticipated annual Pesto Fest that Michael and I host in our neighborhood. This year’s event was slated for Sept. 27, but had to be cancelled due to the constant rain we had that week, including the day of the event. We thought rescheduling for one of the next two weekends would put us into too-cool-to-have-it-outdoors scenario, but that was not the case. The past two weekends have been glorious. Sigh….take a look at last year’s festivities here. There’s always next year!

P.S. Gina and I made “Sage Pesto” the first year and strongly advise that you avoid it at all costs. Ewww.

Click here for the “How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother” recipe.

Click here for a slew of pesto-based recipes.

Click here for more recipes, folklore, and growing tips.

Click here to learn more about growing, harvesting, and cooking with basil.

And finally, click here to read about basil in literature and art at the site for The Herb Society of America.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Redux x 2: Still unidentified blue pinwheel thingie

7 04 2010

Previously posted in March 2008

I photographed this same type of flower a few years ago (see link here), and I still haven’t been successful in identifying it. I think I’ll take a print to Green Spring Gardens and maybe they can identify it (since they’re the ones who grew it). In the link I just provided, you’ll read my father’s take on the origin of the flower. It was quite involved (he had extra time on his hands, apparently), but still didn’t really identify the flower.

FYI—in reference to my father’s note about not pronouncing the “h” in “herb”—no matter how often I tell him that it’s usually the British who pronounce the “h” in “herb,” he still thinks that’s the only way to pronounce the word. He even points out that if Martha Stewart says it like that, then it must be right. (He says that if “erb” is correct, then we should also say “umongous,” “uge,” and “erbert oover”—as in the name of our 31st President). I’ve done the research and actually—both pronunciations are correct (although he will never agree). Most Americans say it with a silent “h.” Some pronounce the “h” if it’s a person’s name, then don’t when referencing the green stuff. I’m taking a poll, here and now. How many of you pronounce “herb” with the hard h? And what is your reasoning for doing so?

An aside: While searching “pronounciation of the word herb,” I found a synopsis of one of Alexis Stewart’s (Martha’s daughter) radio shows. In it, Alexis says that her mother pronounces it incorrectly and goes on to explain her mother’s reasoning. (Martha and my dad—separated at birth—who knew?). An excerpt from that review is below. I am not responsible for the terrible practice of not capitalizing the first word of each sentence, nor the positioning of the period outside the quotation marks, nor the lower-casing of Martha’s name. I know better than that. I’m hoping the practice of lower-cased i’s and names is simply a phase bloggers are going through, although I sincerely doubt it. What can I say? Aside from the “Great (H)erb Debate,” I am my father’s daughter.

then alexis said that martha says the word “herb” incorrectly. martha pronounces the “h” and claims she pronounces the “h” because, after all, people pronounce the “h” when they say the name herbert, so why shouldn’t they then pronounce the “h” in the word “herb”.  alexis added that trying to explain to martha why her pronunciation is faulty is like playing tennis with a hopelessly bad player – there’s just nothing you can do about it.

If everyone in America was forced to buy the book(s), The Mac is Not a Typewriter or The PC is Not a Typewriter (excellent little books by Robin Williams—the author, not the actor), we would all be (grammatically and publishing-wise) better for it. I imagine Ms. Williams could retire early if that transpired. I know I could finally stop losing sleep over all those excess spaces after periods and misplaced punctuation.

FYI, contrary to the popularity of the practice, you should only put one space after the end of a sentence before beginning a new one. In covered-wagon days, there were proportional typefaces, and every letter and punctuation mark occupied the same width, so two spaces were necessary to make the sentence break clear. These days, the tap of a keyboard spacebar yields 1.5 characters; plenty for spacing before starting a new sentence. Save those extra spaces for other paragraphs—recycle! Old habits are hard to break. I came from the era of typewriters and had the “two space rule” drilled into my head. Then I entered the world of desktop publishing with my very first Mac. If I can break the habit, so can you. Really. Give it a try. Pretty please? It’s the right thing to do (although you may have been blissfully unaware until just now).

And remember, this rule includes just one space after any punctuation—quotation marks, exclamation points (which my father abhors, but that’s another posting), as well as the oft-used periods.

One comment in a forum on the subject of space after periods signed his letter, “Just say NO to Double Spacing!—brought to you by PADSAP (People Against Double Spacing After Periods).

Whaaaa? There’s a club for people like me? Where do I sign up? Hey Dad—maybe we can get a two-for-one membership.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

pinwheelthingie





Blue pinwheel thingie, redux

6 04 2009

I photographed this same type of flower a few years ago (see link here), and I still haven’t been successful in identifying it. I think I’ll take a print to Green Spring Gardens and maybe they can identify it (since they’re the ones who grew it). In the link I just provided, you’ll read my father’s take on the origin of the flower. It was quite involved (he had extra time on his hands, apparently), but still didn’t really identify the flower.

FYI—in reference to my father’s note about not pronouncing the “h” in “herb”—no matter how often I tell him that it’s usually the British who pronounce the “h” in “herb,” he still thinks that’s the only way to pronounce the word. He even points out that if Martha Stewart says it like that, then it must be right. (He says that if “erb” is correct, then we should also say “umongous,” “uge,” and “erbert oover”—as in the name of our 31st President). I’ve done the research and actually—both pronunciations are correct (although he will never agree). Most Americans say it with a silent “h.” Some pronounce the “h” if it’s a person’s name, then don’t when referencing the green stuff. I’m taking a poll, here and now. How many of you pronounce “herb” with the hard h? And what is your reasoning for doing so?

An aside: While searching “pronounciation of the word herb,” I found a synopsis of one of Alexis Stewart’s (Martha’s daughter) radio shows. In it, Alexis says that her mother pronounces it incorrectly and goes on to explain her mother’s reasoning. (Martha and my dad—separated at birth—who knew?). An excerpt from that review is below. I am not responsible for the terrible practice of not capitalizing the first word of each sentence, nor the positioning of the period outside the quotation marks, nor the lower-casing of Martha’s name. I know better than that. I’m hoping the practice of lower-cased i’s and names is simply a phase bloggers are going through, although I sincerely doubt it. What can I say? Aside from the “Great (H)erb Debate,” I am my father’s daughter.

then alexis said that martha says the word “herb” incorrectly. martha pronounces the “h” and claims she pronounces the “h” because, after all, people pronounce the “h” when they say the name herbert, so why shouldn’t they then pronounce the “h” in the word “herb”.  alexis added that trying to explain to martha why her pronunciation is faulty is like playing tennis with a hopelessly bad player – there’s just nothing you can do about it.

If everyone in America was forced to buy the book(s), The Mac is Not a Typewriter or The PC is Not a Typewriter (excellent little books by Robin Williams—the author, not the actor), we would all be (grammatically and publishing-wise) better for it. I imagine Ms. Williams could retire early if that transpired. I know I could finally stop losing sleep over all those excess spaces after periods and misplaced punctuation.

FYI, contrary to the popularity of the practice, you should only put one space after the end of a sentence before beginning a new one. In covered-wagon days, there were proportional typefaces, and every letter and punctuation mark occupied the same width, so two spaces were necessary to make the sentence break clear. These days, the tap of a keyboard spacebar yields 1.5 characters; plenty for spacing before starting a new sentence. Save those extra spaces for other paragraphs—recycle! Old habits are hard to break. I came from the era of typewriters and had the “two space rule” drilled into my head. Then I entered the world of desktop publishing with my very first Mac. If I can break the habit, so can you. Really. Give it a try. Pretty please? It’s the right thing to do (although you may have been blissfully unaware until just now).

And remember, this rule includes just one space after any punctuation—quotation marks, exclamation points (which my father abhors, but that’s another posting), as well as the oft-used periods.

One comment in a forum on the subject of space after periods signed his letter, “Just say NO to Double Spacing!—brought to you by PADSAP (People Against Double Spacing After Periods).

Whaaaa? There’s a club for people like me? Where do I sign up? Hey Dad—maybe we can get a two-for-one membership.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

pinwheelthingie