Flags waving tall in the wind…
join us from across the rough seas…
representing their aged and their young.

Flags waiving tall and so proud…
join us with their shared mysteries…
representing strong lessons to be learned.

Flags waving tall in soft skies…
join us with their rich histories….
representing amazing days to be yearned.

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Flags Waving at Rockefeller Center Ice Rink

Side note for photography:
For those who are interested trying out Photoshop or other editing software; this picture was taken on a dreary cold winter day with no sunshine. With the help of Photoshop I changed the sky to blue and richened the color of the buildings. The color depth of the red and blue on the flags were enhanced.

This flavorful rice dish is one of my standards to serve with chicken, seafood or pork. Friends will often ask me to cook up a batch of the Greek Rice to serve with dinner. It’s really easy to make and has a nice nutty flavor with the browned Orzo pasta added in.

Left overs can be used for a refried rice by reheating in a little dab of hot oil then mix in some scrambled egg, fresh chopped green onion and chopped meat such as grilled chicken.

Ingredients
3 cups Chicken broth (substitute Knorr’s Vegetable bouillon for vegetarian)
1 1/2 teaspoon Cavendars Greek Spice
1 cup Basmati Rice
1 medium Bay leaf
2 tablespoons Pasta; orzo
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Parsley

Greek Rice
Greek Rice served with Grilled Teriyaki Glazed Yellow Fin Tuna

Preparation
In medium size sauce pan, add olive oil and heat to medium temperature.

Add orzo and brown the pasta until a nutty brown color. Add Basmati rice and coat with olive oil. Stir for a few minutes until rice is warm. Stir in salt, Cavendar’s spice and parsley.

Slowly add chicken broth to cover warm rice mixture. Drop in the bay leaf. Bring to boil and then cover.

Turn down to low heat and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed into tender rice. If more liquid is needed, add water and recover until rice is soft and fluffy.

I can’t wait to give this recipe a try. Usually I only get calamari at a restaurant but this recipe looks as though I can get top restaurant quality right at home!

A snowy blanket of white icing
covered the dells
While I snuggled my jacket
against winter chills
The sled I approached
at the top of the hills
And raced down the slope
wide grinned with my thrills

Sledding in Central Park
Sledding in Central Park

From a whale sighting trip in Kauai on a cool February day (2010), we lucked out and sighted both dolphins and whales during the trip. It was quite cold during February, but I couldn’t miss out on trying to get these pictures even in brisk weather.

I never thought we would see so much action and it was exciting to be there.

I’m not quite sure if this is two whales but it appears so. One is breathing out from the blowhole and the other is just ready to slap his tail and go under. Whales breathe just like human only through the blowhole. I never thought I would have the opportunity to photograph these elusive sea mammals and my heart was pounding every second.
This trip was in 2010 so my memory is not as vivid as I wish, but pictures do help to revive the sensation. I think this first larger picture may be a pair of whales based on the positioning. One is blowing and the other is just ready to splash the water.

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One whale or two? What do you think?

The second large image was one that I thought would be impossible to capture and it almost was. I must have taken over 50 shots to get just this one. It may not be perfect but it was close to what I was trying to achieve. The water is deep blue, the tail is horizontal and there is water flowing from the “Flukes”. Did you know that each side of the tail is called a Fluke and that together they are called Flukes.
Each fin is named based on where it is located on the body of the whale. The fin on the top is called the “Dorsal Fin”. The fins at the side of the body are the “Pectoral Fins”. There is your whale and dolphin education for the day.

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Never thought I would capture this image!

The names for fins hold true for the dolphins that are pictured below and for porpoises.  These pictures were taken on that same day in February a little earlier in the day, they are of dolphins.

Porpoises have smaller mouths, a more portly body and what is called spade shaped teeth.  I didn’t see any porpoises so there are not pictures of this sea creature to share.

The pictures below are probably of dolphins, not porpoises.  Dolphins tend to have elongated beaks or noses, a curved dorsal fin and a longer leaner body that a porpoise.  The dolphin is also a marine mammal like the whale. It is also more common to see dolphins than to see porpoises.  Just the same I was thrilled and lucky to see as many as I did.

One of the best and most enjoyable gathering of my friends was a few years back for a Holiday Baking Party.  Five of my best friends were invited for a cooking party at my home.  In order to take this type of gathering you need a fairly good size kitchen, several ovens and lots of champagne and orange juice.  To begin, section off several areas of your kitchen to serve as a prep area for each of your friends.  I sectioned off five areas and at each of those was placed  a set of measuring spoons, measuring cups, a hot pad and a vintage grandma’s apron. You don’t need to provide all these items but they can be purchased fairly inexpensively (except for the apron) at the local dollar store or super market.  Gauge the number of friends to invite based on the size of your kitchen and how many prep areas you can arrange but hopefully have at least three participants including yourself.

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Asiago Cheese and Tomato Bruschetta

Have on hand some hors d’ hourves such as the Asiago Cheese and Tomato Bruschetta   for noshing  and Mimosa or Martini’s to sip as you cook.

Items for the prep area:
1 Champagne Flute
1 Set of measuring cups
1 Set of measuring spoons
1 Hot pad(s)
Grandma’s vintage aprons

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Measure cups, measure spoons, hot pads and champagne flute

Friends should bring the ingredients and pans for whatever they want to cook.  Suggested baking items are cookies, sweet breads or pies.  Or, someone may want to take on making up a batch of fudge, penuche or chocolate truffles.  That year I made up truffles and took the corner closest to the stove top.

You may want to find out what each of your friends will be baking so that you can stage a cooking corner just for them.  At an un-staged area, put out all your baking pans, measure bowls, spatulas and anything else that you think someone might forget to bring.  If you are an avid baker or cook like me who has to have every cooking tool they see, then this should be a cinch.

Put on your favorite Christmas music station or Holiday Playlist from your portable media to set the background.  This is an easy party to pull off as you only need a few appetizers, the staging area, Champagne and music to set the stage.

Basic Mimosa Recipe

Basic Mimosa Recipe
Image and Recipe from About.com Basic Mimosa Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Sparkling Wine, Cava, Prosecco or Champagne (1 bottle)
  • Orange Juice (1 carton)
  • Triple Sec (optional)

Preparation:

Fill half of a champagne flute with chilled sparkling wine or Champagne (about an ounce) and top off with chilled orange juice (again about 2 ounces), gently stir. If you’d like to add triple sec, just a splash to taste works out fine. For added flare, slice up a strawberry to decorate the rim of each flute.

Enjoy a fun time at your Baking Party and Best Holiday Wishes from KCinAZ!