Archive for August, 2010

Kung Fu Cleo

August 31, 2010

Today the anticipated Meet and Greet took place. It quickly escalated into a Bared Beak and Clawed Feet Event. Roxanne and Cleo have been socializing through the fence with the new girls, Ruby and Coco, for the past four weeks and it was time to introduce them face to face. I set the mood by providing plenty of treats for everyone and things went along smoothly—for awhile.


Ruby and Coco were feeling brave and finally ventured away from their coop to the edge of the lawn where I was sitting. All of a sudden, Cleo took a running karate-style leap, landed on Coco’s back and pecked her full force coming up with a gigantic mouthful of feathers. Bedlam resulted. The two babes squawked with all their might, flew in a circle and headed into their coop. I flew out of my chair screaming at Cleo. I ran after that chicken as she led me on a chase through the yard still clutching her mouthful of black and white feathers like a trophy. Occasionally I got close enough to whack her with a plastic bag of raisins I still had in my hand, like a scene out of a Loony Tunes cartoon. She finally ran into her coop and I slipped the lock on. She sulked for 3 hours before she came out.

Roxanne Playing Mother Hen

Roxanne and the babes got along fine without Cleo. Roxanne hovered over them like a mother hen with an occasional peck if they got too uppity but it was all very quiet and quite civilized. Cleo finally stopped sulking and I let her out on condition she behave herself. The result? Cleo has established authority over the little ones, she only needs turn a beady eye towards them and they run. Otherwise, they’ve all settled down into a peaceful truce. Each staying in their own areas, but feathers are soothed and the neighborhood is quiet. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Summer Borscht
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At least once during the summer I make my favorite vegetable soup, summer borscht. This family recipe comes from my Ukrainian grandmother and all of us were raised on it from the time we could hold a spoon. I recently made a double recipe resulting in a huge pot that I was able to serve to friends, eat for many nights plus give a little away. Immensely satisfying. Anyway, if you’ve never tried borscht, or only tried a heavy winter version, try this light summer vegetable soup. You’ll be surprised at how delicate and flavorful it is. Enjoy!

3 medium beets, peeled, quartered, cut into thin strips*
1 tablespoon salt
1 medium onion, diced
½ cup sliced yellow or green beans
6 cups cold water
¼ cup tomato juice
3 medium potatoes, peeled, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
½ cup fresh or frozen peas
2 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
⅛ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons sour cream

Stir together the beets and salt in a large pot. (The salt keeps the bright red color in the beets.) Stir in the onion, beans, water and tomato juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes, carrot, peas, green onions, dill and pepper. Simmer another 10 minutes. Add parsley and garlic; simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add lemon juice to taste and stir in the sour cream until blended. (Do not let the soup come to a boil once the sour cream has been added or the cream could curdle.) Serve warm with an extra dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Serves 4 to 6

* To eliminate your fingers and hands turning red from peeling and cutting raw beets, use disposable gloves.