a wee beastie concern

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

last stanza to Robert Burns poem dating 1785

The other evening I was out watering the plants.
We were babysitting our grand-dog while the kids had gone to the beach
with our daughter-in-law’s family–so the old black lab was right by my side.

I have two fig trees in pots nestled within my shrubbery and while I was watering,
I was also picking a few ripe figs…

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a tiny wee little brown beastie came wobbling right
in front of me.
Half wobbling and half hopping.

Luckily the old black lab, Alice, didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary as
I told her to go back toward the house.
One thing she is, is a mindful dog—I quickly threw down the hose.

I had to do a double-take because I wasn’t certain I was actually seeing a baby
rabbit as it was just so tiny.

He kept coming toward me and instinctively I picked him up and drew him close to me.
He nestled into my warmth.

His fur was irradescent…he was that young.

I called out to my husband to come quick.

“What do I do, what do I do” I practically wailed while holding this tiny brown bundle.

“Are you sure that’s a rabbit” my husband quips.

Yes, I sardonically replied…we have had a wealth of rabbits in the yard this year and
I know my rabbits. This was no mouse or squirrel.

The rabbits I’ve seen have been in the back of the house…I’ve not seen any upfront
so close to the house.

My husband pulls out his phone and turns to google to read what’s out there about
finding a baby rabbit.

“We need to find its den, its nest” he explains.

Den??? Nest??? What???

I don’t see a den or a nest, just a baby rabbit wobbling about in the pine straw
near my potted plants.

I also look for some information and everything I read emphatically says to
“put it back where you found it.”

I know from heartbreaking experience, baby wild rabbits, despite our best intentions,
are nearly impossible to raise to adulthood.

I gently put down “hoppy” and said a little prayer.

I always ask St. Francis to come help when I find baby wildlife.

Sunday we headed over to Atlanta to take Alice back home since her people had returned
from the beach blessedly in one piece and COVID free.

Once back home, late Sunday afternoon, I hesitantly ventured out into the yard,
looking for little “Hoppy”.

Low and behold, my small bundle heard me making my way over to the shrubbery and he,
or she, came tumbling toward me.
And the thing is, he didn’t hesitate…he actually kept working his way toward me.

He reminded me of when I first found Percy as a kitten.
I was reluctant yet tiny Percy kept making his way toward me as if to say…
I am yours.

I put this tiny baby back down while running inside to bring out some lettuce, just to
see if he take to it…knowing he was still most likely nursing.

I read that mothers will leave the dens during the day to feed and return only briefly
at night to nurse their “kits.”…and sadly not all kits are meant to live.

Crawling around on all fours through the pine straw, in and out of the bushes,
I did a little investigating thinking surely there must be a hollowed-out spot near a bush…
a nest of sorts.

When low and behold, I watched my little friend as he headed toward a small opening
camouflaged in the pine straw.
There was a tiny little hole, with a good bit of soft fur around the opening…
“Ah-ha” I heard myself exclaim…. finally there was indeed a nest!

I felt better knowing he’d not just wandered away and was alone.

My husband asked if I could see any other “kits” down in the hole but I wasn’t
too keen on poking my hand down into a hole in the pine straw.

I left some lettuce and walked away, once again, saying a tiny prayer
for my tiny friend.

We’ll see what tomorrow might bring…

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

Robert Burns

just make mine vanilla

Love ice cream.
I let myself have that about once a week.
Vanilla.

Tim Tebow


(three old shots from back in 2013 when I was first making my vanilia extract–the longer it sits,
the better it gets…just add a new bean or two over time and top off with the sprit of choice)

I like to cook.
This much we know to be true.

I use to post a good bit about my cooking exploits but over time I’ve obviously shifted my
focus and attention to issues I find more pressing…
issues like those concerning Christianity
and the practicing of our faith in a post-modern, post-Christian era.

However, I will still raise the battle cry over other issues I think pertinent to this good fight
we call life…

Take today for instance…(or yesterday if you’re reading this on Saturday)

I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few items.
I needed some cat food and Grapeseed oil so while I was over in the cooking oil aisle,
I decided I needed to check out the spices.
I needed to peruse the spice area as there seemed to be a mental list somewhere nagging
in my brain, begging me to remember something from this particular section that I needed…

I grabbed some Adobo chili powder.
I’ve never used it before but I’d seen a recipe for slow-simmered chicken…a recipe for chicken tacos…remember, I’m trying to reduce the iron content while looking for foods that will avert the absorption—spicey things supposedly help.

While still perusing, my eyes stopped on a bottle of Vanilla beans.

Ahhh, the mental alarm clock sounded.

Yep, I needed some more beans as I’d used the last two I had in the recently poached pear recipe.
(also a tasty recipe I once posted)

I grabbed the bottle.
There were two measly beans in the bottle.
Vanilla beans are a precious commodity.
But why companies are so chintzy I’ve never figured it out.

I looked at the price—they are usually costly as I’ve paid almost 10 bucks a bottle before,
but I was wondering just how high they might be now.
I do prefer ordering my beans in bulk as it’s cheaper but I needed to have at least two on hand.
One never knows when an unctuous creme brulee is calling…

What to my wandering eyes did appear but a 2 and a 5 joined together…as in
25 dollars for the bottle!!!!!!

WHAT?????

Is this a misprint??? my panicky brain wonders.
I march myself, with the bottle in hand, over to a gal at a register.
“Is this price correct” I practically screamed at the unsuspecting cashier.
She scanned the bottle.
“Oh my gosh” she practically screams back.
“25 dollars for Vanilia beans???? she nervously screams again.

“That’s what I thought” I reply almost exhausted from our heightened sense of distraughment.

I use vanilla beans a lot.

I’ve actually made my own vanilla and bourbon vanilla extracts, a recipe in which
I’ve shared in prior posts from back in 2013.
A homemade vanilla extract is the best of the best!! And it lasts forever.

Making the extract required my having to buy a bunch of beans…
beans I had actually ordered from Amazon–
I used Tahitian and Madagascar beans as each offers a different floral warm scent and taste.

Once home from the store, I decided to go check out the Amazon site,
just to see what they were currently selling my bulk bag of beans for as I was going to order
a new batch just to store for when I needed them—

Immediately I see that 5 beans, just 5 little beans, were going for a whopping 27 bucks.
Which did, however, beat the grocery store’s two beans for 25 bucks.
My regular ordered batch of shrink-wrapped beans was going for…
sit down before I tell you…
1/4 of a pound of beans at $115.00 while a full pound of beans listed for $400!!!!!!!!

For a batch of homemade vanilla extract, you need a good 15 to 20 beans…
of which maturate in a bottle that is large enough to contain them with enough vodka or
bourbon poured over to cover…as they are left to steep until a deep rich brown color
appears and the heady spicy aroma of delicious warmth wafts from the uncorked bottle.

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON????? I practically wail.

I immediately race to the trusty all-knowing Google to type in ‘vanilla bean prices’
and sure enough, I found many articles and news stories regarding the exponentially
skyrocketing prices

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vanilla-bean-shortage-madagascar-drives-up-us-prices/

A precarious commodity that is a fragile commodity.
A product that is prone to drought, fickled growing seasons, poaching, farmers who don’t
allow the pods to fully mature in a race to get the pods to a demanding market and finally
it is simply a matter of time…for it takes three long years for a plant to produce a pod.

According to Wikipedia, vanilla is the second most expensive spice coming in right
behind saffron.
And gathering a ready pod is extremely labor intensive because these pods of
this particular species of the orchid family are each hand pollinated…pod per pod.

Vanilla, just plain old vanilla.

Consider its humble base taste…it is often the brunt of those who refer to things as
just being average..as in vanilla, as in plain jane, as in generic, as in nothing special,
as in the bottom of the list.

Yet vanilla is a great building base—a needed and important humble building block.
Imagine Chocolate chip cookies without that added splash of vanilla.
Think vanilla bean ice-cream, sour cream pound cake, pannacotta, rice pudding,
milkshakes, protein shakes, puddings, eclairs, cookies, candy, yogurt, chewing gum,
cosmetics, perfumes, aromatherapies…the list is nearly endless….
all without their needed vanilla.

There are four main types of vanilla beans used in our consumption: Tahitian, Indonesian,
Mexican and Madagascar

http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/4-kinds-vanilla-beans-know

There are however those purists out there who do indeed favor the unadulterated flavor
of that simple, smokey, sweet, floral flavor of just plain old fashioned vanilla.
No swirls of caramel, no colorful sprinkles, not bits of cookie or peppermint or toffee,
or chocolate syrup or diced fruit…just simple, plain old vanilla.

So I suppose I might just have a little problem…a little expensive problem…
As we might all just have a largely flavorless problem…

Here’s to hoping the current growing crop thrives…
hopefully in time for this summer’s long-awaited and even yearned for home-churned ice cream…
because it just won’t be summer without a bowl of fresh homemade vanilla ice cream!!!

There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are
a precious jewel.

Proverbs 20:15