The raccoon that climbed

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. St. Paul made the national and international news this week because a raccoon climbed a 25 story office building downtown. #MPRraccoon  It took the critter hours and hours. The tired rodent took a nap on the roof of the building before being captured and removed.

If there is a life lesson it is about how hard the little raccoon worked to climb the building and how all of that work was wasted when she was captured and brought back down to the ground by a man.

The news media did an excellent job of covering the event but I thought I would use my crazy photojournalistic skills to fill in some of what the media did not cover. After all, it is Friday. (Scroll over the photos or click on them to see captions)

Look for raccoon T-shirts and caps and other memorabilia. There is also artwork depicting the MPR raccoon scaling the building.  Maybe someone will write a song about it too. Minneapolis may have hosted the last Super Bowl but they don’t have office towner climbing raccoons like we have in St. Paul.

Riding in St. Paul

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. One of the things I like to do for fun is to go for a bike ride. I also use my bike to run errands and for appointments.

It was hot last weekend so I started out early in the morning and rode along the Mississippi River to downtown and then picked up the Bruce Vento trail behind the ballpark and took that through Swede hollow park, past the old Hamm’s brewery and then onto Lake Phalen. I biked along the lake to Keller lake and then on to Spoon Lake in Maplewood.

I have to say it was a wonderful ride. The regional parkland along the lakes have boardwalks that go right over the wetlands. I plan to go back soon. The trails are not nearly as crowded as the trails along the river between Minneapolis and St. Paul.

lakes and parks
Lakes and parks

Rhubarb is a vegtable

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun . . . and no I am not aking this up. Rhubarb is a vegetable. It is also a good source of calcium, Potassium and vitamin C. I grow Rhubarb and have put it in pies, jam, jelly, rhubarb cake, rhubarb sauce and rhubarb crisp. Each of those recipes need a lot of sugar.

Rhubarb can also be used to make salsa. I have found a few recipes. It makes sense because if you add enough pepper it probably tastes like pepper. I might also try roasted rhubarb and rhubarb butter which isn’t butter at all but is made with rhubarb, honey and orange juice and can be used as a sauce for pork or chicken. I may try it as a barbecue sauce or marinate or glaze the next time I grill chicken.

The best way to find new, exciting, nutritious or tasty recipes that include rhubarb is by asking Google.

Eventually I will have to make rhubarb pie or cake because I can.

Growing rhubarb is easy and it is fun and can be one of the many joys of homeownership. Even on my inner city postage stamp sized lot I am able to grow a nice rhubarb crop.



biking through the woods

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. My bike, the woods, and my camera are three of my favorite things. Last Sunday I got to take a bike ride through Lilydale Regional Park which is where the birds and flowers live.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Red-winged blackbird

I also saw a great blue heron and a couple variety of finch and some bald eagles. I also saw some turtles, geese, ducks and one fat turkey.

I have been interested in bird photography for some time but have a hard time fitting it in.  Houses are easier to photograph because they don’t move around.

Bird photography is particularly challenging on Sunday afternoons because of all the bike and car traffic. Bikes don’t make much noise but I often hear the riders by the time they are within a quarter mile of where I am bird watching.

I do enjoy the river and the parkland along it. Biking or walking are the best ways to take it all in.

Have a great weekend. Don’t scare the birds away.

Dandelions are edible

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Everything greened up nicely this week and the dandelions are in full bloom.

You might say they grow like weeds. The name came from a French word for lions teeth.

The leaves of the dandelion have jagged edges that look like lions teeth if you are a French person. I am half French and can speak from experience.

My mom, who is 100% French told me that her family often ate dandelion greens in the spring.

I have eaten them myself. They are full of nutrients and they are good in salads. The younger they are the better they taste. Dandelion tends to get bitter as it ages.

I recently found a recipe for dandelion bud pickles. It is almost too late in the season to find buds where I live but a person would I am sure there are plenty outside of the downtown area. Picking the buds will reduce next years crop as will harvesting the roots and roasting them.

Here is the recipe to be made in a 16 o.z. jar:

1/3 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
apple cider, brown rice or white wine vinegar
tamari or soy sauce

All you really need to know is to clean the buds, you know pick off the leaves and was everything. (the bud should be closed)  Put the buds in the jar with the onion and other seasonings and fill the jar 1/3 with the tamari or soy sauce and then fill it to the top with the vinegar. I have seen recipes that include ginger root, bay leaves, and honey.

If pickles are not something you normally make and you don’t want to experiment use google to find a recipe that makes sense to you.

If you are irritated with your neighbor because of all of those dandelion seeds that float onto your property ask if you can pick the buds and pickle them. It isn’t likely that any of our neighbors will stop being obnoxious so we may as well make the most of it.