Friday, September 22, 2017

Equinox Minus One - #SkywatchFriday

Today, in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the first day of fall.

Last night, I took pictures of the sunset from near Johnson City, New York.
The last sunset of summer.

Alas.  Goodbye, summer.

Visit bloggers from all over the world on #SkywatchFriday, to see what the sky looks like from other places, all over the world.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Shadows on a Sidewalk #ThursdayTreeLove

Last night was Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year (but so much more is involved).

"Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement."

These next 10 days (The Days of Awe) end a period of self reflection for practicing Jews, including deep thought on what each and everyone of us can do to make the world a better place to live in.  It is a time for renewal and for spiritual connection.

These next 10 days also require us to face what we fear the most, and require us to examine how we can repair relationships, and reach out to others we may have hurt or not done enough to maintain a relationship.

A number of people I know were impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  I also have friends who are connected to friends or family in Puerto Rico,damaged so heavily by Hurricane Maria.  Mexico City has suffered a major earthquake. Meanwhile, I sit here dry, with a roof over my head, and no major health issues. 

The other week, I read a quote by Thomas Jefferson on a blog:

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.

For many right now, there is no sunshine, only shade, only suffering.  What I can do to make the world better after these natural events?  What can I do to move us back into the sunshine?  That will be one of my challenges.

For now, I want to thank all of you for spending a few minutes reading today's post. 

You, my readers, are part of my sunshine.  You encourage me, you comfort me, you listen to what I write about. 

Today, on our last full day of summer, I would like to thank you for this past year of your readership.  I thought of this quote the other day, as I saw sunshine on a sidewalk and the shadow of a tree losing its leaves.

May the coming year have less shade for you, and much more sunshine, friendship, and good times.

Now, all of us - yes, all of us, now have to work our way through the shade next few weeks and months.

One day the sun will come out again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Summer Ramblings - The First Touches of Fall

It's the last post of summer 2017.

The weather, after a wet summer, has suddenly turned sunny and warm this September.  We bask in a late summer "warm wave" while the author of a blog I read often, who lives in Alberta, experiences snow showers.
The goldenrod is winding down (complete with my shadow).

A daylily in my yard that is suddenly reblooming (it did last year, too).

Some random pink flowers in a Binghamton, New York front yard.  I should know what these are, but I don't.

And yet...fall looms.  Some trees are already turning color, their leaves falling and coloring the sidewalks.

Mums are everywhere.

Goodbye, summer.  Goodbye (almost) to eating lunch outside.
Goodbye to butterflies.

On Friday, we will welcome fall, and next Wednesday, new seasonal features intermixed, perhaps with more "fall prevention" (as in humans falling) features.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Last Summer Tuesday - Honey Apple Cake

Tomorrow, besides being the last summer Wednesday of 2017 for us in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the start (at sundown) of the Jewish New Year.

Two of the traditional foods for this happy occasion are apples and honey.

Both apples and honey are produced locally in my area of upstate New York.  So, I like to combine the two every year.  I have a favorite apple honey cake recipe I'd like to share with you.

It isn't my recipe but I have adopted it as "mine". Sort of.

I made it slightly differently from last year.  Here is this year's recipe.

AM's 2017 Version of Tori Avey's Apple Honey Cake

3 large eggs (I was fortunate enough to use free range brown eggs from a local farm)
3/4 cup honey (local buckwheat honey from the Finger Lakes, which is quite dark, and is a good fall honey)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup unrefined coconut oil melted gently in microwave (this is solid at room temperature) mixed with 1/4 cup canola oil.
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups King Arthur's White Whole Wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon, freshly ground
3/4 tsp Penzey's pie spice
4 apples, peeled, cored and shredded (you will also want to use the resulting liquid)

Here, you get an idea of how dark buckwheat honey is
 I had local ginger gold apples in the house, and also a pippin apple I had never eaten from the local farmers market called Saint Edmund's Pippin.  This is actually more of a cider and fresh eating apple, but it's what I had.

You will bake this in a 9 inch Bundt cake pan.

Method (sorry, not metric)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

While oven heats, mix the wet ingredients:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy.
Whisk in honey, white and brown sugar, melted coconut oil, and vanilla

Then mix the dry ingredients:
In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, baking power, baking soda, spices.

Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stir to blend.  You don't want any dry ingredients, but you also don't want to over beat.

Fold in your shredded apples and liquid from the apples.

Spray your bundt pan with cooking spray, coating the inside evenly.

Now, pour your batter into the pan.  You don't want to overfill (Tory Avery, who wrote the original recipe, warns you not to fill more than 3/4 full.)  Smooth the batter on the top so that it is flat and even.  You do not want any air pockets.  I press down on the filling gently with a spoonula.

Bake for approximately 75-90 minutes.  When the edges darken and pull fully away from the sides of the pan, and the cake is browned, test with a toothpick.  This is a moist cake, so you don't want to under cook.  But, you don't want to overcook it, either.
All done - wonderfully dark (not burned)

I don't put a frosting on this although the original recipe calls for one.

In the mood for more apple recipes? Check this blog out.

Do you have a favorite apple recipe?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Music Moves Me - Harvest Time

Welcome to the early harvest edition of Music Moves Me, a blog hop I participate in every Monday.  Some weeks, we have a theme.  Other weeks, we can blog about whatever music theme we want.  This is one of our "freebie" weeks, so:

Today, I celebrate the harvest coming in here in upstate New York.

I live in apple country, and thought, why not find some songs mentioning apples, or harvests, or even the harvest moon.

First up, is a song from my early teenaged years - Apple Peaches Pumpkin Pie by Jay and the Techniques, a singing group from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Next, we are going to go into the past.  Way into the past.  Shine On Harvest Moon, here, was debuted in the 1908 Ziegfeld Follies.  This version is from the 1931 Ziegfeld Follies, as sung by Ruth Etting.  Writing this blog post allowed me to learn more about the Ziegfeld Follies.  I know there is some connection between the Follies and the city I work in, Binghamton, but I couldn't find much on it in the limited time I had to write this.

But the song goes even further back than that.  How about a version from 1909, as sung by Ada Jones and Bill Murray?

From 1972 - Dancing in the Moonlight, by King Harvest, a band that originated in Paris, France.  The song is still with us, being incorporated into the soundtrack of a current movie called "Hitman's Bodyguard".

Neil Young - Harvest Moon.  Doesn't this song make you want to dance in the light of the harvest moon with someone you love?

I will end with a 1962 song from Judy Collins which was an adaptation of a Yeats poem - Golden Apples of the Sun, here sung live in 1976. It begins "I went out to the hazelwood..." The imagery of the poem is amazing, especially if you read it approaching your senior years.

Come join this blog hop and do some dancing and apple eating.  Tomorrow, follow along while I make an apple cake for Wednesday evening.

Join this #MusicMovesMe blog hop every Monday - here are the people responsible for it:
X mas Dolly is the Conductor of this trip, and the other Conductors are her fellow bloggers Callie of JAmerican Spice, ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Binghamton University Nature Preserve

You can live in an area for over 30 years, and yet, barely spend any time in a prominent part that thousands live and work in.

For me, a thirty plus years resident of the Binghamton area of upstate New York, such a rarely visited area is Binghamton University, better known by many as SUNY Binghamton.  It is considered (by many) to be one of the top universities in the country.   Several cousins of mine who grew up on Long Island/Queens have gone there.

I used to go on campus once a year for an annual event, but, for years, the only time I have gone is when it is Parents Weekend, if I have a cousin in attendence.  This year, I did.

I've seen the campus grow over the years, with more and more buildings lining the campus.  Enrollment increases every year.  In some ways, the university has led the revival of downtown Binghamton, once a bustling city of some 80,000 people and now down to about 47,000.

But does it make me want to go back to college?  I can look at photos, and realize how much I have aged since my college years (in a commuter college in New York City, where there were no dorms and I lived at home).

Yesterday, my spouse and I walked down streets jammed with students, and their visiting families.   Being in crowds is not a favorite for me, one reason, perhaps, I left my native New York City. But I knew there were a couple of places I could find peace.

One was the Memorial Garden at the Fine Arts Building, commemorating the 15 alumni who died on September 11, 2001.

I gazed upon the memorial.
Later that day, with my cousins, I walked the marsh trail, one of several nature trails on the campus' Nature Preserve.  There, I took a couple of pictures of bidens, which are just now coming into bloom.  They are another member of the large aster family.
Bidens and bee.

I will feature a couple of more photos on Skywatch Friday.

Let me tell you something about the Binghamton University Nature Preserve.

In the late 1960's, what is now the Nature Preserve almost became ballfields.  The big word here is "almost", because it was saved for future generations.  Expanded in several stages, the preserve now covers 182 acres of living laboratory, and it's open to the public.  Trees include hemlock and oak. Here's a plant list. Mammals living in the preserve include white-tailed deer, beaver, coyotes, fox, mink, muskrat, bats, and porcupines.  Black bears visit, but do not live in the preserve.

I tend to ignore this wonderful resource of our area except once a year or so.  But Binghamton University has much to be proud of with this preserve - the greatest concentration of bird species in the Southern Tier of New York, and more. (Unfortunately, yesterday, it also seemed to have the greatest concentration of gnats in the Southern Tier.  I knew I should have brought bug spray.  Due to gnats, and the mud (I do have my balance problems), I decided not to complete the entire trail.

Perhaps I should become less of a stranger to Binghamton University, and come better prepared.

It is strange how I ignore the treasures in my area.

Do you?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Local Saturday - Summer into Fall

The transition from summer to fall continues here in upstate New York.

Today, some pictures from a local farmer's market.
Summer squash transition into winter squash.
Eggplants (aubergines) transition into onions.
The last of the peaches.

Welcome, cauliflower.
Soon, the bounty of summer will be no more.  The loudly chirping crickets declare it, as does the sun which rises later each morning and sets earlier last night.  The geese fly overhead.

We will have a brief season of cool weather crops, and then, that will be it until next year.

I can't help but be a little sad.

But summer will end on Friday, regardless of what I think.  The rhythm of the seasons will not be denied.