Archive for February 7th, 2006

Bird’s-Nest Pudding

Pare and core six or eight nice tart apples, and put them in a pudding dish. Take a quart of milk, six eggs, and sufficient flour to make a thin  batter – pour it over the apples until the dish is nearly full.  Bake it until the apples are clear, or you think it is done. Eat it with wine sauce – or, cold sauce made of butter, sugar and nutmeg beat well together.

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Swallow’s Nest Soup with Rock Sugar Recipe
Also known as Bird’s Nest Soup, this sweet dessert soup is made from the nests of the swiftlet, a type of swallow.

Serves 4

2 ounces bird’s nests (approximately 6 whole nests)
7 tablespoons crushed rock sugar, or to taste
4 cups water

Directions: Prepare the bird’s nest: soak it in cold water for several hours or overnight. Rinse well. Go over the nests and pick out any loose feathers. Bring a pot of water to boil and simmer the bird’s nests for about 5 minutes. Again, rinse well and squeeze dry. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups at this point. If not, adjust the amount of water and rock sugar accordingly).

Place the bird’s nests in the pot and add the water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the bird’s nests are quite soft. Add the rock sugar, stirring to dissolve. Serve the soup hot.

Note: You’ll want to save this for a special occasion. Authentic bird’s nests are quite expensive, not surprising given that the nests come from the hardened saliva of the swiftlet swallow. It could be a good choice for a romantic evening, as bird’s nest is rumored to be an aphrodisiac.

(This recipe is adapted from Chinese Regional Cooking by Florence Lin)

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Bird’s Nest Cookies
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• 1-1/3 cups (3 1/2 ounces or 100g) flaked coconut
• 1 cup (2 sticks or 240mL) butter
• 1/2 cup (120mL) granulated sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups (480mL) all-purpose flour
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 12 ounce package (1-3/4 cups or 340g) “M&M’s”® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Baking Bits, divided

Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).
Spread coconut on ungreased cookie sheet. Toast in oven, stirring occasionally until coconut just begins to turn a light golden color, about 25 minutes. Remove toasted coconut from cookie sheet; set aside. Increase oven temperature to 350°F (180°C). In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; add to creamed mixture, only until combined. Stir in 1 cup (240mL)”M&M’s”® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Baking Bits. Form dough into 1-1/4-inch (32mm) balls. Roll heavily in toasted coconut. Place 2-inches (50mm) apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. With thumb, press indentation in center of each cookie. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until coconut is golden brown. Remove cookies to wire rack; immediately fill indentations with reserved candies, using a scant teaspoonful in each. Cool completely.


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Bird’s Nest Soup Recipe – 30k

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Ingredients :
2 ounces
6 tablespoons
2 cups
Bird’s nest
Crushed rock sugar
Method :
1 Prepare the bird’s nest by soaking it in cold water for several hours or overnight.
2 Rinse well.
3 Go over the nests and pick out any loose feathers or dirt.
4 Bring a pot of water to boil and simmer the bird’s nests for about 5 minutes.
5 Again rinse well and squeeze dry.
6 Place the bird’s nest in the pot and add 2 cups of water.
7 Bring to a boil and simmer until the bird’s nest are quite soft.
8 Add the rock sugar, stirring to dissolve.
9 Serve the soup hot.

Note :

This nest of a tiny bird that lives in cliffs mostly off the coast of southern China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Borneo is considered a major tonic food. It is light gray regurgitated Gelidium seaweed mixed with swallow saliva and needs extensive attention to pick out extraneous items before washing, soaking, cooking, and serving. This hand labor and the fact that it is difficult and dangerous to gather nests makes them very expensive. Bird’s Nest is said to nourish kidneys, lungs, heart and stomach, and to regulate circulation. As they are made with saliva, one of what the Chinese consider to be three precious substances. Bird’s nest, high in protein and with reasonable amounts of calcium, iron, and riboflavin, is deficient in three essential amino acids: lysine, methionine and tryptophan.
andom Cooking Tips
Chef’s Tip: A 1-cup dry measuring cup has the exact same volume as a 1-cup liquid measuring cup. It’s the nature of the contents – the fluidity (and spill-ability) of liquid ingredients, and the challenge of leveling off dry ingredients – that makes the two different types of measuring cups useful and necessary kitchen tools.

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Recipes with a distinguished touch from the chef to the chief

Pioneer Press – Jan 18 1:17 AM

George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush lived in China in the 1970s, when he served as chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to that country. “The Bush Family Cookbook” by Ariel De Guzman features many Chinese recipes, including this one.

Makes 6 to 8 servings, if part of multicourse Chinese meal.

¼ cup rice wine

¼ cup soy sauce

1½ pounds beef tenderloin, cut across the grain into 2-inch strips

½ cup chicken broth

2 star anise

1½ teaspoons chopped fresh ginger

Dash ground cloves

2 scallions, chopped, plus additional, sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

1½ teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons rice or cider vinegar

3 dried hot red peppers

Peel of 2 mandarin oranges, pith removed, thinly sliced

3/4 teaspoon five-spice powder

3 tablespoons canola oil

Salt, to taste

To marinade beef: In bowl, combine rice wine and soy sauce. Add beef slices. Stir to coat well. (Note: Because beef is already so tender, it doesn’t need to marinate.)

To make sauce: In another bowl, combine broth, star anise, ginger, cloves, chopped scallions, sugar, vinegar, hot peppers, peel and five-spice powder.

To stir-fry beef: In wok over high heat, heat oil until barely smoking. Add beef. Stir-fry until liquid has evaporated. Add broth mixture. Cook until sauce reduces somewhat and thickens, coating beef and orange peel. (Note: Be careful not to overcook beef.) Taste. Add salt, if needed. Remove hot peppers and star anise. Garnish with sliced scallions. Serve.



(With Food-Bush-Cookbook)

(For use by New York Times News Service clients.)

c.2006 Houston Chronicle


These are delicious, easy to make and worthy of revival. I used a mixture of crimini and button mushrooms. The recipe says it makes 24 croustades, but I had enough filling for 36.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

½ pound mushrooms, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1½ tablespoons chopped chives, plus extra for garnish

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

36 croustades (recipe follows)

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for about 4 minutes, until softened, stirring frequently to avoid browning. Stir in mushrooms and cook until all moisture has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add flour. Stir for 1-2 minutes. Add cream, stirring until thickened and bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, cayenne, parsley, chives and lemon juice. Pour into a bowl to cool.

Fill croustades with mushroom filling, mounding slightly. Sprinkle each with Parmesan. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and finish briefly under the broiler. Garnish with additional chives. Serve immediately.

Makes 36 croustades.


Until you get the knack, you may break a slice or two of the bread while you press it into the mini-muffin pan.

If you brush each slice lightly with melted butter, it makes the job a little easier.

1 loaf Pepperidge Farm

Thin-Sliced bread

Butter, melted, if desired

Lightly grease a mini-muffin tin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a 2½-inch biscuit cutter, or a glass of the same size, to cut rounds out of bread slices. Gently press the rounds into the muffin cups.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until crisp and golden-brown around the edges. Lift out of cups and cool on racks.

You can make these a day in advance and store in an airtight container.


2 ounces Stilton cheese, plus 1 ounce cubed

1 teaspoon honey

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sour cream

¼ cup heavy cream

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

2 heads Belgian endive, petals separated from hard core, sliced thinly lengthwise

1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed

1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 small red onion, cut into thin rings

½ package alfalfa sprouts

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

12 grape or cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

DRESSING: Combine the Stilton, honey, garlic, vinegar and sour cream in a blender. With the machine running, slowly add the heavy cream.

Transfer to bowl. Season with salt and pepper, remembering that Stilton is salty.

SALAD: Arrange the endive and watercress on 4 plates. Lay the jicama matchsticks and onion rings over the salad. Arrange the alfalfa sprouts like a bird’s nest on the watercress.

When ready to serve, drizzle with dressing.

Garnish with the cheese cubes, pine nuts and tomatoes. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

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Watching wildlife

Southwest Florida Birding Festival aims to help locals connect with nature

Bonita Daily News – Jan 20 12:33 AM
By Jim Alred (Contact)
Friday, January 20, 2006
Randy McCormick leans close to his scope, trying to remain silent as he zeroes in on his prey. The intense concentration etches lines on his face. Then a grin replaces it.
“The bird in the tree over there,” he points quickly, trying not to make too much noise. “It’s an immature bald eagle.”
Almost on cue, the good-sized bird sitting in a cypress tree in the middle of one of three ponds at Eagle Lake’s Community Park in East Naples takes flight, circling before soaring away.
McCormick, the education coordinator at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, is preparing for the second annual Southwest Florida Birding Festival. The event kicks off today and runs through Sunday, and activities include numerous birding field trips, presentations and family activities.
“We’ve got a dozen different family activities on tap, especially for the kids — but the parents enjoy it, too,” McCormick said. “We just have a variety of activities throughout the day that people can go to to enjoy birds and to enjoy the festival. It’s a place to be able to connect with birds, with outdoors and with wildlife.”
The activities include a gigantic eagle nest for kids to climb in to experience what it’s like to be an eagle, crafts, programs that discuss the different types of beaks and feet of certain birds, and a few other educational offerings.
McCormick learned to love birding from a friend in college, but his love for the outdoors helps fuel his passion for birding.
“I just like being out where the birds are,” he says. “Being outdoors is great, and watching and spotting birds is a lot of fun. But if you don’t see any new birds while you’re out it’s not a total loss, because it’s better than begin cooped up inside.”
On this day, McCormick manages to spot a number of species within a quarter-mile stretch bordering two of the park’s ponds. Several wood storks stand tall, oblivious to onlookers, while another attempts to devour a fish it has just caught.
Anhinga circle the pond, swim in it and even stand on the shore, drying their wings.
A few great egrets don’t like the extra attention and follow the eagle’s example of taking flight, while a glossy ibis remains too interested in rooting for lunch than take notice of the man with the birding scope.
These are just a sampling of the birds McCormick expects people to see during the festival. But he hopes they do more than fall in love with birding.
“People have to realize these birds need a place to live,” he says. “We’re lucky to have so many areas in Southwest Florida to see these birds, but we have to make sure we keep it this way.”
As for first-time birders, McCormick suggests bringing two key items.
“The two most important pieces of equipment are a good pair of binoculars and a field guide,” he says holding up his own binoculars, hanging from his neck. “The binoculars will actually give you a chance to get close enough to see some features, and the field guide has pictures to help you identify the birds you see.”
McCormick also recommends dressing appropriately for the environment you’ll be exploring and making sure to bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen and bug repellent.
If You Go
Southwest Florida Birding Festival
What: Activities include bird watching field trips, presentations, live raptor display, build your own nest, Wall o’ Wings, Optic Treasure Hunt, looking at feathers under a microscope, migration station, crafts and face painting.
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 9 p.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower Road, Naples
Cost: Three-day admission, $15 per person; one-day admission: $10 for adults, $4 for children ages 6-12, and children under 6 are admitted free. Most field trips carry an additional charge.
Information: or 417-6310, ext. 501
All presentations will take place in the auditorium at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Pre-registration for presentations is not required. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
10 a.m., Birding Basics: Using Binoculars and Field Guides, Randy McCormick, Education Coordinator for Rookery Bay Research Reserve
11 a.m., Gardening for Birds, Doug Suitor, Collier County Natural Resources Department
1 p.m., Nesting, Migration and Conservation of Swallow-tailed Kites, Ken Meyer, Ph.D., Executive Director, Avian Research and Conservation Institute
2 p.m., Wood Stork Recovery in Southwest Florida, Jason Lauritsen, Big Cypress Ecosystem Coordinator, Audubon of Florida
3 p.m., Birding the Dry Tortugas, Larry Manfredi, Professional Guide, South Florida Birding
7 p.m., Keynote, The Singing Life of Birds, Donald Kroodsma, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts. Kroodsma, the reigning authority on avian vocal behavior, will sign copies of his book, “The Singing Life of Birds,” after the presentation.
Noon, Saving Panthers and Wood Storks: Regional Recipes for Recovery, Brad Cornell, Big Cypress Policy Associate for Collier County Audubon Society and Audubon of Florida
1 p.m., Sonny Bass, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist, Everglades National Park
2 p.m., The Life History of Brown Pelicans, Ted Below, Avian Ecologist, Rookery Bay Research Reserve
3 p.m., Birds and Art, Jerry Jackson, Ph.D., Professor, Florida Gulf Coast University
4 p.m., Eagles in Florida, Lynda White (and her bald eagle, Paige), Project Eagle Watch Coordinator, Audubon of Florida
Noon, Your Computer Can Make You a Better Birder, Peter Thayer, President of Thayer Birding Software
1 p.m., Florida’s Forgotten Flock: Flamingoes, Bob Showler, Ranger/Naturalist, Biscayne National Park
2 p.m., The Birds of Sand Dollar Spit, Ted Below, Avian Ecologist, Rookery Bay Research Reserve
3 p.m., The World of Woodpeckers (with an Ivory-billed Update!), Jerry Jackson, Ph.D., Professor, Florida Gulf Coast University
Field trips
Note: Registration is required for all field trips. On the Rookery Bay Web site, all trips will reflect a standard “closed” status in the reviewing stage. Upon entering the registration process, however, trip status indicators will accurately reflect each trip’s status. If you have difficulties navigating the system, call (239)417-6310 ext. 401.
12:50 p.m.-5 p.m., Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
6:45 a.m.-noon, Birding in Big Cypress National Preserve
7:20 a.m.-10:30 a.m., Collier-Seminole State Park
7:45-10:30 a.m., Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Backcountry Birding Truck Trip
7:45-10 a.m., Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Family Field Trip Birds of the Boardwalk
8-11:30 a.m., J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
6:45-8:30 a.m., Everglades National ParkTen Thousand Islands Boat Trip
6:45-11:30 a.m., Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
9:45 a.m.-noon, The Collier County Landfill
7-9:30 a.m., The Collier County Landfill
8:15-10 a.m., Marco Island Burrowing Owl Field Trip
7:45-10 a.m., Sand Dollar Sandbar Lagoon Coastal Waterbird Field Trip
6:50-11:30 a.m., Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
7:20-10:30 a.m., Collier-Seminole State Park
7:45-10:30 a.m., Corkscrew Swamp SanctuaryBackcountry Birding Truck Trip
7-9:30 a.m., Eagle Lakes Community Park
9:45 a.m.-noon, Eagle Lakes Community Park
6:45-8:30 a.m., Everglades National ParkTen Thousand Islands Boat Trip
8:15-10 a.m., Marco Island Burrowing Owl Field Trip8-11:30 a.m., Picayune Strand State Forest
5:45-8 a.m., Picayune Strand State Forest Red-cockaded Woodpecker Roosting Site
7:45-10:30 a.m., Sand Dollar Sandbar Lagoon Coastal Waterbird Field Trip
6:50-11:30 a.m., Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge

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Gear up for spring’s flings

Purple Martins were seen Feb. 2 – not the earliest ever but a welcome sight indeed – over Singing River Hospital in Jackson County.

Two Long-billed Curlews (and nearly 20 Marbled Godwits) have been seen sporadically on the beach at and east of Moses Pier in Gulfport. Searchers may face difficulty gaining access to parking bays along the beach. So, temper all your frustrations with patience.

An amazing report of two Swallow-tailed Kites in the last week of January awaits further verification, because this would be the earliest arrival date by a month or so. A male Vermilion Flycatcher has been seen on various dates throughout the winter in one of that species’ favorite haunts – the ponds at Windy Hills in Lizana.

Bald Eagles at Jackson Ridge are nesting in the same vicinity as they have for years; the old nest tree came down during Katrina, and the new nest tree is close enough to underscore another example of site fidelity.

Eagle nesting is also under way on the grounds of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge adjacent to the Seaman Road Lagoons. Thanks to Lew Proudfoot, Claire English, Dale Greenwell, Kay Vanderly, Ned Boyajian and Scott Hereford for keeping me in the loop. (Note: I do not check my messages at Eskimmer with regularity, so go directly to my personal e-dress, listed below.)

Want-list items: Board fencing is still on the want list, so if yours is destined for the trash pile please contact or to arrange for board pickup. Hundreds of birdhouses have been made through this recycling program, sponsored by Mississippi Coast Audubon and Audubon Mississippi.

While Katrina may have been the catalyst, these Birdhouse Clinics will go on for years to come. For more information, go to and follow the links. (You will also find a great idea for a bird feeder made from the same size boards and a two-pound coffee can).

MCAS field trip: Saturday, February 18; meet 7:30 a.m. at Kmart parking lot, corner of Mississippi 603 and U.S. 90 in Waveland. Bring drink and snacks, as such items are not widely available in Hancock County. This is a trip to a wonderful but privately owned property birders know as Jackson Ridge, and is highly recommended.

Do check the Web site at for late-breaking details. Scheduled leaders are Ned Boyajian and Jerry Bird ( bird

Our own Arbor Day: Circle March 4! We have upwards of 20,000 trees, including red oak, red maple, bald cypress, and even some Live oaks for distribution at various points along the Coast and southeastern Louisiana. PODs will be announced in this column and elsewhere in advance of that date.

This is a cooperative effort between the National Arbor Day Foundation, National Audubon Society, Audubon Mississippi and Mississippi Coast Audubon Society and we are so proud it is exceeding all expectations.

Oopses, misses, and outright afterthoughts: Birder Mike Kayes relates that prior to Katrina he had good returns on a small investment in a plastic Purple Martin condo. I had previously stated this wasn’t such a great idea. Also, if you are putting up a Wood Duck house, be advised wood shavings or chips, to a depth of four inches, should be added (and changed each year).

Biloxi Sun Herald

Despite a housing shortage, Eastern Bluebirds may still be picky. Check the near surroundings for habitat suitability, try to use more than one box (bluebirds like company) placed about 300 feet apart. Do it now. Get more info at

Forward, March: Here’s to spring’s earliest migrants. When late February merges into March, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Swallow-tailed Kite, American Golden Plover, Upland Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Barn Swallow, Northern Parula, Black-and-white Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, and Louisiana Waterthrush are on the agenda.

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Bird build-up waiting 

By LINDA McALPINE – GM Today Staff 

January 31, 2006
BROOKFIELD – Plans to put up some artificial nesting platforms for a great blue heron rookery may be on hold because of the weather – it has been just too nice outside.

The rookery, part of which is in Brookfield and part on private property in the town of Brookfield, at 19400 W. Capitol Drive is home to more than 100 herons and straddles a wetland.

And therein lies the problem, according to Tami Ryan, area wildlife supervisor for the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
We need a blast of arctic weather so the ground will freeze so we can get into the wetland,” she said.

The DNR, We Energies and American Transmission Company are working together on a plan to install 40 power poles with nesting platforms attached to replace some of the trees the herons had been using for nests that were blown over in a windstorm last fall.

Ryan said the poles hold between four and six platforms each, so as many as 100 spots for nests will be added once the poles are in place.

There is a risk that without the new nest sites, the herons, which return to the area in late March, could decide to move elsewhere.

Bill Kolstad, Brookfield’s park and recreation director, said that if the weather cooperates and the ground freezes, the installation project would take about three days.

The plan was approved by the Brookfield plan commission last week but still needs to go before the city council at its meeting at 7:45 p.m. Feb. 7 at Brookfield City Hall.

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