15 February 2012


"What's that one?"


"Oh.  How about that one?"


---paraphrased from Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation

Apparently the Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up this month - and in just a few days.  From the 17th-20th, people all across the country will choose one spot to watch for at least fifteen minutes, counting all the birds they see and submitting the data here.  The GBBC also has a Facebook page with lots of great photos (ooooh, pretty).

I read about this in The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Newsletter, and also included in this issue were links to some really great bird videos from the Macaulay Library.  You can see Sandhill Cranes and Northern Gannets and Western Grebes and Greater Prairie Chickens... and a lot more if you go poking around in there, I'm sure. 

I'm dying to make another barnswallow joke, but I'm not sure how many of you Imaginaries have seen Mr. Hobbs.

...You know what?  I'm gonna do it anyway.

"Do you know what that is?!  It's an incredibly rare bird I've been looking for my whole life!"

"Oh, yeah?  What's that little guy sitting next to him?"


12 February 2012

Roast Beef Leftovers

One of my favorite things to do with roast beef leftovers is to make pasties with them.  I've found multiple pasty filling recipes that call for starting from scratch with raw meat (and tried several of them), but honestly, leftover cooked meat just works SO much better.  After Thanksgiving I even made filling from leftover turkey.  But roast beef is definitely my favorite.

3 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter
> 1 cup water (added according to baker's judgement)
(you could make a double batch since I always wind up with more filling than will fit)
+/- 2 cups roast beef leftovers (or cooked meat of choice), diced fine
1 small onion, diced fine
1 potato, diced large
1 carrot (if desired), shredded or diced fine
1 - 2 eggs
garlic as desired
thyme as desired
Rosemarie as desired
Barely soften the butter - just enough so it's easy to mold with your hands
Put flour into a large mixing bowl
*Put the butter in with the flour and mash together until the flour resembles fine bread crumbs
add the water a splash at a time, just until the dough is neither dry nor wet and doesn't stick to your fingers.  Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for half an hour.
Chop the meat, onion, potato, carrot, and garlic and scramble the egg(s) in a separate bowl.  Heat some olive oil in a big (BIG) frying pan and saute the onions and garlic.  You can either scramble the eggs at this point in the same pan, or you can add the other chopped ingredients to the garlic and onions and scramble the eggs in a separate pan while the main mixture is heating up, then add the eggs in once they're almost done.  Add the herbs as desired.  Once everything is heated through, turn off the burner and take off the heat.  PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 350 DEGREES F.  by this time the dough should be chilled.
Take the dough out of the fridge and work it in your hands until it has warmed up a little.  Now you can roll the dough out on a surface and cut out perfect circles until you need to lump the rest back together and roll it out again, but I find that the repeated rolling out ruins the texture of the dough, so I just break off palm sized pieces and work them out with my fingers, like you sometimes see done with pizza dough.  However accomplished, one you have a flat, roughly round bit of dough, drape it over your hand and scoop filling into its center.  Then fold it up so when it lies on its side on the pan it looks like a fat half moon.
The pan?  Oh, yes.  Just a regular cookie sheet will do - I always spread baking parchment over the bottom.  Repeat until you run out of dough.  Once the oven is preheated, cook the pasties for 30 minutes.  Then slide the rack out and slather the topsides with melted butter or an egg-wash, after that, cook for another 20 - 25 minutes.
Pasties can be eaten hot or cold, and keep in the fridge for several days.

I made a batch of these last night.  My brother likes to have them in his lunch, which is great...the only problem is - I'm on a no-wheat diet so I couldn't have any.

Yes, I'll admit it.  I cried.  Just a little.

*this is one of the most important actions I've discovered that helps give the crusts a nice texture - it works on bread dough, too.