Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter Sunday

Elly, Basie, and I had a wonderful Easter Sunday. A few weeks ago I put up a new Spiral Feeder from backyard bird and the finches just love it. It's about 3 feet tall. They really like being able to slip along the spiral perches from hole to hole. So much so that our older finch feeder, with individual perches, only serves as a backup feeder now -- the birds spend 90% of their time on the new one. I took this picture Sunday afternoon.

We decided to spend the day at home (a typical holiday choice for us) cooking a multi-course dinner. Elly had the clever idea to listen to choral masses. We have a good-sized collection of classical CDs, both instrumental and vocal, but haven't listened to them much over the past few years. We listened to three Tallis Scholars CDs -- Palestrina Masses, Allegri Miserere, and a Josquin CD with Missa Pange lingua and Missa La sol fa re mi. We also listened to Dvorak's Stabat Mater.

Basie seemed to think it was good napping background music.

I started off making biscuits, following a recipe from the Cook's Illustrated Baking book. These turned out marvelously. I won't tell how many Elly ate. My first adventure in making biscuits.

Elly made a Gruyere and leek tart, combining multiple recipes, which turned out quite nicely.

And also a puff pastry with an asparagus and shitaki mushroom filling that was another triumph.

I took charge of dessert, making a parfait with layers of strawberries, lemon mousse, and white chocolate mousse. I used some more of the lemons from Dick Harshaw's yard in Phoenix.

Here is one of the parfaits. They weren't quite a photogenic as the Bon Apetite version, but they were delicious.

We enjoyed a terrific bottle of 2005 Treana Red supplied by my sister and brother-in-law (Karen and Tom) with our dinner and ate leftovers for days.


waxwing said...

Your dinner looks delicious. I've tried to make biscuits, but they always turn out too hard. I usually resort to the kind made by the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Have not heard of of those spiral bird feeders, but I can imagine the birds like it. I have a sock thistle feeder and the finches can't get enough of it.

Fiske said...


I haven't tried a sock thistle feeder yet, which is something I mean to do.

The folks at my favorite birding store, Backyard Bird here in Kansas City, were really high on the spiral feeder. They all have multiple feeders of this type in their backyards (a good sign that the feeders really are effective). I have to say I have been pleased and impressed with the results.

I have only made biscuits once, so I can't claim to be an expert or anything! On the other hand, my wife used to make biscuits for her dad all the time (when she was growing up) and she said these were the lightest she had ever tasted. It's a buttermilk recipe made with a food processor. The Cooks Illustrated book had several pages explaining what it takes to make a light, delicate biscuit: using cold butter, not over processing the dough, and using a 50/50 mix of all purpose and cake flour. It was pretty easy to do, really, just following their directions. You might be able to find the book at the library.

I'm not always impressed with Cook's Illustrated recipes -- they have a tendency to over-analyze / over-work recipes and often go for approaches that don't work as well simply to differentiate themselves from other cooking magazines and books. Still, some of their stuff is really good. Like their buttermilk biscuit recipe. :-)


Lori said...

I love the picture of Basie. Our puppy from the Zena and Bing litter came home on the day before Easter. Piper is a whole lot of fun. She should be a couple of months younger than Basie - born on Valentine's Day. How much does Basie weigh now? Piper was the smallest of her litter - some of the boys were giants! Anyway, just wanted to let you know that the puppy is home. Now Susanna can have a vacation.
Best regards,

Fiske said...


Thanks for checking in. Elly and I have wanted to send you an email, but we have no way to do it -- your Blogger profile is blocked. Would you send me an email (by clicking the email link at the top of my blog in the info paragraph) so we can get your email address?

Congrats on Piper, and what a great name. Basie is about 34 pounds right now. He is 4 and a half months old. Following advice from Susanna and our vet, we have never fed Basie puppy food. We switched him to a grain-free adult dog food just after he came home. It is very important for puppies, especially large breed puppies, to grow slowly. Otherwise, they can develop all sorts of bone and joint problems. Moreover, there is some evidence to suggest that rapid growth in large breed puppies contributes to bone cancer.

Our vet still thinks Basie is very solid for his age. :-) But he is not fat, just a healthy, well-proportioned dog, which is what we want. Going with adult food from the beginning does not ultimately affect a dog's final size. It just takes them a little longer to get there, which is fine.

Also, Emma is a bit on the small side. Zena is larger. It wouldn't surprise me to find that Zena's larger puppies turn out to be quite a bit larger. We sort of expect Basie to end up in the 80 to 95 pound range. Plenty big. Our Rotty was 155, and that is too big. At least for us. Anything under 100 seems pretty manageable to us.

Please send us an email so we can stay in touch. We want to see pictures of Piper.

Fiske & Elly