New York Cheesecake

9:22 AM

I enjoy baking for the sake of eating desserts once in a while. The quick and easy stuff are cakes and brownies out of a box, which altogether aren't terrible, but made from scratch or what I consider officially homemade baked goods are always beyond comparison.

Making a cheesecake seemed like an impossible task, but the recipe and the procedure were surprisingly simple provided you have patience. Unfortunately, I'm forbidden to tell you all what's in it - for it was Jen's mom's recipe.

According to my wife, this a traditional New York Cheesecake. No crazy chocolate or caramel drizzle or what Jen calls cackified pie filling out of a can as a fruit topping. No lemon or key-lime flavor enhancements or "fusion" to make the idea of cheesecake seem more cultural or regional, and no nuts or any kind of funky additions.

Cheesecake purest - that's what I am. Despite the time it took to make this, eating it is certainly worth every second of investment. But I think it's more fun to share with family, friends and neighbors.


Summer's End

5:27 PM

Our back yard once again teems with wildlife. Two or three squirrels take turns being nature's acrobats for a snack at our hanging bird feeders. Meanwhile, Chippy, our adopted chipmunk, stuffs his pouches full of the seeds those piggish squirrels drop onto the floor of our deck. Chippy then disappears for about ten minutes and returns with empty pouches.

About a dozen or so adolescent cardinals also frequent our feeders. Both males and females are patched with brown baby feathers still. Some still have what appears to be baby fat. Some of them will stay to create next year's generation of cardinals that will partake of our feeders, and some others will find mates and homes abroad in the forested hills we live in.

Nature casts indicative signs of the time of year and we, as people, are compelled to parallel the activities of wildlife. As the blasted heat and long days of summer give way to cooler mornings and earlier evenings we inherently read the signs and change our daily patterns and make preparations for the subsequent cold months ahead.

I look forward to wrapping up summer projects, like getting a final harvest from our back-deck garden, and packing things away for the winter. I'll assess what worked and what didn't and make plans for next year's garden. However, I also look forward to new projects the change of season will inspire. For example, I'm really good at making soups, so I look forward to those cozy hot meals when the weather becomes blistering cold. And of course, there's always the holidays to look forward to.

 A young female cardinal. Either she still has some baby fat or she's been hitting the feeders a little too hard.

 This finch shows me exactly what he thinks of me and my camera.

A young Towhee scratches in my flower pot for dropped seeds. Around his neck is a ring of brown baby feathers.

At the same time another young Towhee scratched around looking for food on the floor for the deck. A sibling perhaps? Again you can see his undeveloped neck and head.

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