Tag Archives: birds

Smoked Salmon Dip

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASmoked Salmon Dip

It’s late October and I’m having a tough time giving up my warm weather habits…  I’m resisting the impending cold weather as long as I can.  Even if it is a bone chilling 32 degrees outside, I still prefer to order my latte over ice early in the morning on my way to work.  I know that once I start to order it piping hot, I’m going to be drinking it that way until the warm weather arrives again in the spring.  I look at it this way, we still have at least another week of glorious warm weather here in Southern Oregon and I am going to take advantage of it.  That means getting outdoors and enjoying the bright sunshine while it is still here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASmoked Chinook Salmon

While preparing my Smoked Salmon Dip for an appetizer for a dinner party later this evening, I spied some cedar waxwings in one of the trees outside my kitchen window.  I immediately stopped what I was doing and grabbed my camera.  Cedar waxwings are sleek crested medium sized birds that frequent my neighborhood in the fall of the year.  They arrive in large noisy flocks to eat the fruit off of the flowering crab apple tree in the back of the yard.  Cedar waxwings are distinctive for they look like little bandits with dark black masks streaked across their faces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACedar Waxwing

Another way of identifying a cedar waxwing is by the glossy dark grey wing feathers and bright yellow tip on its tail.  Cedar waxwings are similar to Bohemian waxwings but are smaller in size.

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A pair of cedar waxwings deciding on which juicy berry they are going to pick first.  The one on top of the photo is a juvenile.  You can tell by the lightly mottled brown feathers on its breast and back.  By next spring its plumage will look like the mature adult perched on the branch below.

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Cedar waxwings are without a doubt, greedy little birds.  They are in the trees as soon as the sun comes up in the morning, and they stay throughout the day, gobbling up as much fruit as they can fit into their bellies.  It’s amazing to see how many berries one single bird will gulp down.  Within a few short weeks all of the fruit will be stripped from the trees.  Regardless of what the calendar says, that in my mind, officially marks the end of the warm summer months…

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After snapping a few photos of the cedar waxwings, I resumed preparing my Smoked Salmon Dip.  My Smoked Salmon Dip is light, flavorful and easy to make. It’s made with good quality smoked Oregon Chinook salmon, fluffy cream cheese, light sour cream, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, fresh squeezed lemon juice, hot sauce, salt and pepper.  My Smoked Salmon Dip tastes amazing on crackers, toasts, chips and even fresh vegetables.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces smoked salmon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • a few dashes hot sauce (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • garnish with bits of smoked salmon or fresh snipped herbs

Begin by placing the cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and hot sauce in a medium sized bowl.  Using a hand mixer, whip the cream cheese mixture until it is light and fluffy.  Be sure to use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure that the mixture is well incorporated.  Break apart the smoked salmon into smaller pieces removing the skin or any bones.   Add smoked salmon to the cream cheese mixture and blend well.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Keep chilled.  Place in a dish and serve.  Garnish with bits of smoked salmon and herbs.  Makes approximately two cups.

Sweet Puff Pastry Twists and the view out my kitchen window…

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Sweet Puff Pastry Twists

I love living in Southern Oregon but sometimes the weather can be cold and drab at times…  Rain, fog and snow are not uncommon during the cold winter months.  Many of the wild birds that chose to spend their winters here in the Rogue Valley rely on backyard bird feeders for their food sources.  That’s precisely why I always make sure that my bird feeders are stocked with thistle seed, suet and sunflower seeds and that my hummingbird feeder is filled with sweet nectar.

While preparing my Sweet Puff Pastry Twists this morning, I noticed a flurry of activity outside my kitchen window.  Several species of birds were visiting the feeders that I have placed out in our backyard.  The usual visitors that show up every winter are dark-eyed juncos, house finches, scrub jays, black capped chickadees, lesser goldfinches and spotted towhees.  Sometimes I am treated to less common birds to my feeder such as California quail, red breasted nuthatches, and evening grosbeaks.  Then there are birds that I would rather not have visit at all…  Sharp shinned hawks, great blue herons and great egrets.  Sharp shinned hawks hunt the little birds that frequent my feeders.  The herons and egrets try to make a fish dinner of my koi in my pond…  Don’t get me wrong, I think that they are all beautiful but I’d rather not observe their eating habits in my yard.

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A female dark eyed junco.  The males have darker heads and rusty backs.

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A female lesser goldfinch.  The males are bright yellow and have a black cap on the tops of their heads.

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A ruby crowned kinglet zipping through the air towards the suet feeder.  This bird constantly is moving back and forth so it was hard to snap a picture of him.  It seemed that every time I would focus, he would pop out of the frame. His face looks so intent as he bounced his way to the feeder.  I see this bird nearly every winter.  Whenever he would get excited, he would display a large red crown of feathers on his head.  What a cool little bird!

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A female house finch.  The males are brightly colored with a purplish red breast.  Do you see the sunflower seed in her bill?

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A sharp shinned hawk in the tree above my feeders.  When he is around, all the little birds quickly fly away and hide…  When there is no activity at my bird feeders, you can bet he is the reason why. This little hawk is lightning fast and even tries to take down birds his own size!  He is such a beautiful and skillful hunter.  I like him better when he stays away from my hawk bird feeders :).

Back to the cookies… My Sweet Puff Pastry Twists are reminiscent of a cookie that I used to purchase years ago at the old Harry and David country store here in Southern Oregon.  They called their cookies “Croustilles”.  Unfortunately, they don’t sell them anymore but I think my cookies are a pretty good “knock off”.  They’re easy to make, light and airy, crispy and delicious.  They taste wonderful with a hot cup of coffee or your favorite tea.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees farenheit. Begin by rolling out the puff pastry into a 12″ square.  Combine both sugars in a small bowl.  Sprinkle half of the sugar on the puff pastry dough.  Be sure to cover it evenly with the sugar.  Take a rolling pin and lightly press the sugar into the dough.  Gently, flip the dough and repeat on the other side.  On one side of the dough, lightly brush with the egg.

Take a pizza cutter or knife and slice the puff pastry down the middle.  Do the same for the remaining two halves.  You should have four rectangles…  Each 12″ by 3″.

Now, slice each rectangle into 3″ by 3/4″ strips.  You should now have about 64 puff pastry strips.

On a silpat or silicone lined baking sheet place each strip about 1 1/4″ apart.  Twist each strip 360 degrees in the middle, making sure the egg brushed side is up.  They should all look like little bow ties.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until a golden brown.  Remove from oven and immediately place the twists on a wire rack to cool.  Makes about 5 dozen Sweet Puff Pastry Twists.

*** Note: This recipe is not rocket science.  Not all brands of puff pastry are the same size when you unroll it out of the package.  Some puff pastries are larger that what I described.  The key to this recipe is even coverage of sugar and uniformity in size and twists of the dough strips.  And of course, keeping an eye on the twists while baking is also important.  They do brown quickly!