Going to the birds

When I looked out the window into our backyard on a recent morning, my first thought was, “We got TP’d.” A strip of what was obviously toilet paper was hanging from one of the lights on the garage. Since we have high-school age kids living in the houses on either side of us, the idea that some TP had gone astray wasn’t too far-fetched.

But when I pointed it out to Hubby Bryan, he noted that the TP streamer was emerging from an assortment of twigs and leaves. Sure enough, Mama Robin was up to her old tricks, trying to build a nest on top of the light fixture. Regular readers of this blog may remember that we had the same problem last year, and a few of you contributed some helpful suggestions in deterring the bird from locating her nursery so close to our garage entry.

I really thought nest-building season had come and gone this year, but this particular expectant mother must have gotten a late start. Before she could get it fully constructed, Bryan got out the ladder and removed the nest, and I turned a white plastic shopping bag into a bird-repelling streamer. It did the trick. Mama R. must have moved on to a friendlier venue.

However, if we sit on the front deck of our house, we can watch another family of birds come and go from an even more odd location. Some sparrows have set up shop in the streetlight directly in front of our house. They come and go through tiny hole in the base of the light and must perform some amazing aerial acrobatics to do so.

 I don’t think the inside of a functioning beacon would be a very peaceful place to live. I can picture these tiny birds wearing tiny sunglasses to keep from being blinded by the light and trying to communicate over its loud humming.

When I went out to battle the backyard bird, I took note that the rhubarb was just about ready to harvest and began to watch for new rhubarb-utilizing recipes. This first one comes from the May-June issue of Eating Well magazine.

Rhubarb Fruit Salad

In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups thinly sliced rhubarb, 3 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau liqueur; heat to a simmer over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is just beginning to break down, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate for about 15 minutes to cool.

In the rhubarb mixture, stir 1 ½ cups halved red or green grapes, 1 ½ cups small honeydew or cantaloupe melon balls or pieces and 1 ½ cups diced mango or strawberries. Serve or return to the refrigerator to chill further.

Makes 8 servings.

 Rhubarb Custard Bars

For the crust, combine 2 cups flour and ¼ cup sugar. Cut in 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter or margarine until crumbly. Press into a greased 9- by 13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

For the filling, in a bowl combine 2 cups sugar and 7 tablespoons flour. Whisk in 1 cup heavy cream and 3 eggs, beaten. Stir in 5 cups finely chopped rhubarb. Pour mixture over the crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the custard is set. Let stand until cool.

For the topping, combine 6 ounces softened cream cheese, ½ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract; beat until smooth. Whip 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Spread over the filling. Chill, covered, until set. Cut into bars to serve.

 What’s your favorite rhubarb recipe? Please share it by emailing brickers@dglobe.com; mailing to Lagniappe, Daily Globe, Box 639, Worthington 56187; or visit the Lagniappe Area Voices site: http://lagniappe.areavoices.com.

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