Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pic Today 11/30/10


There's black gold in "them thar' hills"
. . . in Missouri hills, that is.

No, not OIL black gold . . .

Black walnut is considered by many
the finest wood in the world, and
Missouri is the #1 state in black walnut production.
Demand for this valuable hardwood
has never been greater, which means
the price has been going up, up, up.

Black walnut timber has been prized
for furniture, veneer, gun stocks (and bowls)
since colonial days, not to mention its nuts.
The dark tight-grained inner wood
shrinks and swells less than any other wood.

Tall, straight mature trees with no knots
are bringing $800/MBF and up.
(MBF = 1-inch x 1-foot x 1,000-feet board)

The 3 logs pictured here would easily fetch $2,000.

(Grab the chain saw, Honey!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pic Today 11/29/10


The mystery of the 'circle and X'
in the middle of the winter woods.

"Go to the winter woods:
listen, look, watch;
the 'dead months' will reveal
a subtler secret than any
you have yet found in the forest."

-- Fiona Macleod,
Where The Forest Murmurs

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pic Today 11/28/10


. . . throughout the neighborhood
and "hung with great care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon
would be there."

-- with posthumous liberties taken
from Clement Clarke Moore (1822)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pic Today 11/27/10


Stores, shops and malls
didn't waste any time . . .

Shoppers were standing in line,
some at midnight after Thanksgiving,
looking for discounts and sales at area stores.
They wanted to be "first" when doors opened.

If the economy is bad,
you wouldn't know it.

(This obsession with selling and buying
may be missing the point
during the holiday season.)

Let's stay home
and enjoy each other!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pic Today 11/26/10


The only thing better than
a beautiful table at Thanksgiving . . .

is having your family sitting around it.

"Any thing is worthwhile
that brings a family together.
The happiest moments of my life
have been the few which I have spent at home
in the bosom of my family."

-- Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pic Today 11/25/10


In America, we celebrate the holiday
of Thanksgiving . . .

a day when we feast as the pilgrims did
(on roast turkey and pumpkin pie),
give thanks for our blessings,
and most importantly,
share time with our family.

From start to finish,
here's wishing you a day
when you can be thankful
and share time with your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pic Today 11/24/10


Throughout Colombia,
the streets are alive at night . . .

holiday lights, inside and out,
musicians and vendors,
fresh hot food on every street;
(Colombians love to eat through the night.)

Corn-on-the-cob con queso, hot off the grill . . .
fried empanadas and chicharron (pork skins) . . .
bowls of fresh limes, raw coconut and
sweet uchuvas (goose berries).

And it's not uncommon to find a crowd gathered
to listen to tales of days-gone-by
from veteranos sabios (wise old timers).

The nights are alive in Colombia.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pic Today 11/23/10


. . . in the village of Garzon,
Huila region, southern Colombia.

Known as the "soul of Huila",
Garzon is proud of its religious and cultural heritage.
Strange then that this street shrine,
once occupied, is now abandoned.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pic Today 11/22/10


They're plantains (platanos),
and they're not just in South America anymore.
In fact, you can find them in most
international grocery markets these days.

They're not eaten raw as a sweet fruit, like bananas.
And they're absolutely delicious when cooked,
especially fried as "chips."

Here's an easy recipe worth a try:

1. Get 3-4 large plantains; let them ripen.
2. Peel and slice into 1/4" oval rounds.
3. Deep fry them in 2" hot oil (350˚)
until golden brown. Turn once.
4. Drain and cool on paper towels.
5. Press and flatten each round.
6. Deep fry again, until crisp.
7. Drain, cool and serve.

Serve with spicy salsa or mole.
Muy delicioso!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pic Today 11/21/10


The cultivation and use of coca in Colombia
is part of an ancient culture and tradition.

Coca has been used by chieftans and shamans
for thousands of years, and continues to be used
in prediction rituals, curing the sick and sacred offerings.

The shaman's treasured ceremonial vessel was the "poporo",
a container (often made of solid gold) which held
powdered lime, made from ground and heated sea shells.
The shaman would chew coca leaves during religious ceremonies,
and dip a stick into the poporo adding a small amount of lime
increasing the effect it had in activating the powers
of concentration, memory and spiritual vision.

The most treasured symbol of Colombia's
indigenous pre-Colombian culture is the famous
"Poporo de Quimbaya" (300 A.D.),
a solid gold lime vessel in the shape of a gourd
with 4 rounded globes, now owned by the
Republic Bank of Colombia.

Today's shamans continue to respect the
power and spiritual use of coca in their religion.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pic Today 11/20/10


On a mountain top, far above Bogota,
lies the Sanctuary of Monserrate, built in 1657,
and a popular pilgrimage destination for
thousands of Colombians and foreigners alike.

For over 4 centuries, faithful and devoted believers
mount with devotion the narrow, rustic steps
to the sanctuary and chapel at the summit
as a penitential act . . . including athletes,
foreigners and curious tourists.

For those who make it (at nearly 2-miles elevation)
Monserrate is a destination for thousands each year
who search for peace and forgiveness,
with a priest's personal blessing on each forehead.

For those less fit, there's a cable car to the top.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pic Today 11/19/10


Closer to the equator, southern Colombia
is warmer with lower elevations
and dense, verdant jungle.

Wild orchids, enormous ferns and palms,
thorny vines and trees you'd never climb,
plus tropical fruits for the picking . . .
like these bananas and sweet achachuras.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pic Today 11/18/10


The fruits of Colombia are the
culinary bounty and "medicine chest" of South America.

The varieties and flavors of these tropical foods
are extraordinarily delicious and nutritious.
Some are exported, but most are not.

The best of Colombian fruits include:







Passion Fruit


and 100 more!

Aside from their mouthwatering taste,
many of the local fruits have medicinal and curative benefits.

For example, the kiwi like flesh of the pitahaya fruit
is eaten with its crunchy seeds to lower blood sugar
in type-2 diabetics, and naturally excretes toxic
heavy metals from the blood.

University research in Colombia confirms the
anti-cancer benefits of the giant guanabana,
a 30-pound football shaped fruit
covered with spikes. (Ouch.) (But yummy.)

And sweet mandarinas, whose juice starts the day
for so many Colombians, are supercharged with
Vitamin C and anti-oxidants.