Archive for the ‘Carnivores’ Category

Four Disasterous Dinners

November 1, 2010

DISASTEROUS DINNERS

Thanksgiving will be here soon. My favorite holiday and I remember the first dinner I made when I became a newlywed. Parents, hubby’s and mine, gathered in the dining end of the living room and hubby carried the beautifully browned bird to the table. I had been worried about my mother-in-laws opinion of my cooking. She had been cooking and baking since she was twelve when her mother passed away and she became the cook for her father, two working older brothers and a younger sister; a job at which she excelled.
My hubby flourished the knife, stuck the two-pronged fork (a set given as a wedding present) into our first turkey and began to carve. Halfway through dinner I realized I had never removed the giblets or the neck. They were still in the little bag stuck in the cavity. Fortune smiled-no one noticed.
The second misadventure happened when my hubby invited long-time friends from his dance class to dinner. It was spring and asparagus beckoned. I trimmed the stalks and rinsed but not enough-the sand remained. Ignored by all. It took a few years and many more dance classes before that dinner was mentioned. Hey-that’s what friends are for and it said dancers have iron stomachs.
Friday-in the days when Catholics just permitted fish-no meat allowed I invited two close friends for dinner and hubby spent hours extracting the meat from lobsters. I made a delectable salad and placed the bowl in the fridge. A few hours before dinner – horror of horrors – I opened the door of the fridge and placed a bottle of white wine on the same shelf. The bowl of lobster slid out of the fridge and smashed in fragments. Lobster, mayonnaise, celery and glass all lay in a shiny, glop of a mess on the kitchen floor. My poor guests had tuna fish that night.
Then there is the tale of Lasagna. Vegetable Lasagna with Marinara sauce – baked ahead and frozen. Misreading the directions, I baked the dish for one hour and served. Still frozen. I checked the directions. When frozen-bake for two hours.
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Little Devil

September 20, 2010

Fierce and ugly, with forty-two needle-sharp teeth by the age of two, the terrier-sized Tasmanian Devil is not the most loved of Australia’s marsupials. But on a visit to the Tasmanian Devil Park and Wildlife Rescue Center in the Port Arthur region of Tasmania, Australia, my husband and I met a little Devil that the unwary might find as cuddly as a plush toy.
The jet-black, course-furred, eight-month old was an orphan being raised in the park’s nursery; this carnivore’s sleepy appearance gives him a look of complete innocence. A triangle of white accents his hindquarters and matches a strip across his chest; dark eyes and pink ears complete the picture. Born blind and deaf, young Devils called “Joeys,” have bad eyesight and flash photos are forbidden. Lactose intolerant, infants are fed special formulas to keep them healthy. It takes about forty weeks to wean a baby and Joeys are encouraged to drink from bowls as soon as possible. At about five and one-half months they begin to teeth and chew on bony shin bits.
A loner, the Devil begins to breed by the age of two; the female visits the male den for a interlude of about two weeks in March and the blessed event takes place about three weeks later. At birth, the Devil has been described as being the size of a jellybean. Up to thirty “Jelly beans” try to make their way to their mother’s backward-styled pouch; nature’s way of ensuring that dirt doesn’t enter when mom is tearing into carrion. Since there are just four teats in the pouch only three or four survive. The Joeys latch onto mother’s milk teats for about three months then they’re left in their grass and leaf lined den – a cave, a hollow log or an old wombat burrow – while mom forages for food. Later, they may hitch a ride on her back or follow along behind. Though they achieve independence by twenty-eight weeks and are agile enough to climb a tree, many never reach maturity as predators often attack them. At night, these nocturnal creatures usually meander along secondary roads looking for road-kill; unfortunately automobiles often hit them as they feast on a diet of wallaby, rodents or lizards. A Devil, fortunate enough to survive the hazards Devils face, may reach the age of six to eight years.
Grown Devils feed at 11:00 am; the former jelly bean now has a broad head, reminiscent of a bear, a muzzle with long whiskers and a squat body with a short, thick tail and back paws with four toes. Devils enjoy nothing so much as a good fight or chase around the enclosure; when angry their pink ears turn red with increased blood flow. Weighing anywhere from nine to twenty-six pounds, they’re particularly aggressive when it comes to food. Snorts, whistles, growls, screeches and demonic screams, worthy of a Stephen King horror movie, rend the air when a Devil protects its find or a competitor ignores the challenge of a sharp sneeze. An overwrought Devil emits a pungent odor only a deodorant manufacturer would enjoy. Often a Devil will sport scars or missing patches of fur earned in combat. Endowed with the strongest jaws and teeth of any animal, nothing edible goes to waste when this marsupial devours carrion or prey. The Tasmanian Devils at the Park are either orphans or have been bred here. Females and their young are kept separate from the males who exhibit no paternal pride in their offspring and would make a happy meal of them.
Fossils have been found all over Australia, but living Devils are alive and well only in Tasmania, having lost a battle over the same food supply favored by the Dingo, a wild dog brought to the mainland by the Indigenous People over 600-years ago. The Dingo never crossed the 150-mile Bass Strait that separates the Island of Tasmania from the southeastern mainland and here, the Devil survives.
A rough period for Devils began in 1830; farmers considered them a nuisance as they ate livestock and poultry. Van Dieman’s Land Company paid a bounty of twenty-five cents for males and thirty-five cents for females and many a Devil was poisoned or caught in a trap. It wasn’t until June 1941, that Devils came under the protection of the law. Today they are a symbol of the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service and farmers realize they have a place in the food chain; they clean up the carrion that would pollute the land and prey on mice and other pests that consume agricultural produce. NOTE: Since our visit, the Tasmanian population has been devastated by disease. Australian scientists and medical personnel are doing their best to find a cure and keep the Devil from extinction.
The Tasmanian Devil Park offers shelter to other animals in need of medical assistance and loving care. Visitor may spot a hand raised Brush-Tailed Possum curled up in a log or a Long-nosed Potoroo (a small Marsupial,) recovering from a broken pelvis or engage in a staring contest with two Tasmanian Masked Owls. The owls – one with only one wing and one with a broken wing seem as interested in us as we are in them. Wedge-Tailed Eagles, White Parakeets, a Pacific Gull, Green Rosellas, who can no longer fly because of damaged wings, and a parrot who doesn’t appreciate travelers, and is likely to take a nibble, also find a haven here. We were able to walk amongst orphaned marsupials – the name comes from the Latin word meaning pouch – as Bennett’s Wallabies and Forester Kangaroos are comfortably situated in a large field. When rehabilitated they return to the wild. A Conservation Centre for Raptors, in association with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, was completed in October of 2001 and is used for breeding and conservation of rare birds of prey. At the present time, anyone seeking a Tasmanian Tiger at the park is doomed to disappointment. There have been no sightings since the 1930’s but the Tiger is wholly protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Act of 1970 and many believe the Tiger still lives in a thick Tasmanian Forest.
for more information about me, please visit http://www.elisewarner.com, My cozy mystery titled Scene Stealer may be purchased at carinapress.com. barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, broders.com and anywherre eBooks are sold

A CARNIVORE NO MORE

September 6, 2010

My husband’s eyes are as big as a starved puppy’s. Tonight his dinner will be pasta with marinara sauce and a big, mixed salad. Yesterday he was served salmon, vegetarian baked beans and a big, mixed salad. Tomorrow–chicken marsala is on the menu along with noodles, green peas and a big, mixed salad. He longs for a thick medium-rare porterhouse, a succulent rib roast with oven-browned potatoes on the side or my specialty in days long gone by– juicy leg of lamb with pineapple stuffing. Whenever guests were invited to dinner, leg of lamb was on the menu.
My taste for meat began to its slow journey to oblivion when I auditioned, got the job and worked as a singer at New York City’s Radio City Music hall. The holidays had begun and I joined a large ensemble of singers, dancers and Rockettes performing in the Music Hall’s annual Christmas Show. Dressed in 18th Century finery we sang a medley of carols, and then dashed to our dressing rooms to change into our costumes for the major highlight of the show-the procession to Bethlehem. Clad as common folk, we accompanied the three wise men from the east and walked across the Music Hall’s huge stage as we made our way to the manger to worship the Christ child.
Joining robe-clad singers and dancers were camels and sheep and I began to bring
carrots to feed the sheep between the shows. My favorite, Sally, a wooly charmer, began gaining weight and one day she missed a performance. Since the motto for both chorus members and animals is “The Show Must Go On,” I rushed to Sally’s dressing room as soon as the Nativity Scene ended and discovered Sally in her stall, now a proud mother of lambs. Before the end of the holiday season, the lambs had joined the procession.
There was no way I could serve a festive dinner whose main dish were members of the theatrical profession. I had trod the boards with soft, warm, cuddly and affectionate fellow performers. Lamb was now off my menu.
I began to take a closer look at cows. I no longer saw a prime cut, to me they were big eyed bovines with long lashes; introspective and calm creatures, wanting nothing much out of life but a chance to chew their cud in a green meadow under a sun-filled sky. Soon steaks and roasts, stuffed peppers and cabbage, chili and my famous (amongst friends and relatives) meat loaf went the way of legs of lamb and lamb chops.
Somehow I don’t feel the same way about chicken- a most versatile item on my bill of fare. And if someone has a chicken for a pet, please…I don’t want to know about how charming, funny or intelligent she may be. I admit to worrying about our oceans, over fishing and the poor fish that are being slowly poisoned with PCBs. But hey…I’ve been married a long time and marriage is a compromise.
Still, I love pasta-pasta marinara, pasta ai fungi, pasta with egg plant, pasta with clam sauce and then there are risottos-vegetable, mushroom, cheese or seafood. For a change I may serve cheese blintzes, cherry blintzes, apple blintzes and blueberry blintzes topped with non-fat sour cream. And what about all the things you can do with vegetables?
Speaking of vegetables, someone once asked me if I had ever heard a carrot cry; I don’t think that’s true, do you?
For more information about me – http://www.elisewarner.com Scene Stealer my mystery may be purchased at barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, carinapress.com and anywhere eBooks are sold