Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Autumn Leaves

A noisy gust of wind passed through the neighborhood a few minutes ago, reminding me that autumn is here and getting serious about it. The leaves are beautiful, but they are falling fast, which is what I understand they tend to do at this time of year.
A couple of nights ago, I watched the ducks swimming in circles on the river. When they do that, a change in the weather is imminent, according to those Old Farmer's Almanac prognosticators.
Here, at least, many of the ducks and geese who graze on the grass in the park nearby are in no hurry to fly south, because they have it good here. And whatever else happens around Halloween (The season actually started Oct. 5 this year.), geese seem to know that this is not a good time to be flying very close to shotgun range.
Other critters are targets at this time of the year, too, including deer and elk, bighorn sheep, bears and wolves. So it's a good time to stay indoors and drink eggnog.
One auto dealership in the Boise area is promoting a "Buy a truck, get a gun" sales offer. The purchase of a pickup or larger truck from this dealer entitles the buyer to a new rifle, shotgun or, as the ad puts it, "Whatever else you can dream up." The radio spot also seems to tie this together with the notion that buying a truck and getting a gun have something to do with "our American heritage." I know the right to bear arms (meaning have guns) is guaranteed in the Constitution for members of a militia, and that has been accepted by the Supreme Court to mean "anybody." But I am not sure that the right to own a pickup truck is similarly assured.
Speaking of geese (nice segue), I notice that the more or less permanent-resident geese in the park like exercise. I say this because they arrive early for grass-grazing around the lake, flying in over my apartment, then touch down on the river, swim to shore, then struggle up the embankment and waddle across the grass and the Green Belt and street pavement to get to their favorite meal venue. Since there is a big lake right there, I wonder why they don't simply fly over to the lake, touch down there and start eating much sooner.
So, we may have hit upon two notions about waterfowl at this time of the year. One is that ducks swim in circles because they are forecasting a change in the weather. The other is that gees are silly.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I'm getting acclimated to Boise, which is a fair accomplishment, considering I was in the moderate and damp climate of Tokyo for the past 32 years and am now high and dry here. So cold is not as awful where I am now as it was when I was where I was. Even so, as nighttime temperatures range in the 30s, it is a good time for soups and chili and stews to ward off the different form of cold.
Today is chicken-vegetable soup, which is another way of saying "cleaning out the fridge soup." I found a packet of three decent chicken thighs with the skin and bones still there, hiding in the freezer, put them in a big pot with a nicely chopped medium onion, three cloves of garlic, two carrots, two sticks of de-veined celery, a chopped fistfull or two of green beans, a tomato, a half-dozen sliced white mushrooms, and six golf ball-sized redskin potatoes and covered with water, added about a teaspoon of salt and a mortar-ground blend of black, white, rose, green and Jamaica peppercorns, one each of chicken and vegetable boullion, and a finely chopped fistfull of herbs (basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and chives) and a little more dried Italian parsley, a dash of chili powder, and three chopped green onions. It's a good idea to allow at least a couple of hours for this. First vover the pot and bring the combination to a bubble, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Stir once in awhile, until the chicken kinda gives up and sheds the skin. Drain off any ugly brownish bubbles. Pause a moment to remove the chicken, remove the skin, bones and gristle and shred the chicken meat, returning it to the pot with the veggies. Add one 5.5-ounce can of V-8 juice, unless you have a good reason not to, and stir the ingredients again, cover the pot and let it simmer again for an hour, stirring now and then.
By this time, no doubt, you will have had at least one glass of wine and should be rooting around for a baguette or some other nice crusty bread to soak up all the delicious flavor melange you are creating. Resist the temptation to ladle the soup out for at least 90 minutes, and longer if possible, because all those flavors are getting to know each other better, and you will reap the benefits.
Stay warm, and bone appetit!