Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Carl Kurtz's Photo Essay: Greater Yellowlegs

In preparation for the upcoming second edition of A Practical Guide to Prairie Restoration by Carl Kurtz, we're excited to be sharing Carl's beautiful photos and observations about nature!

Carl Kurtz is a professional writer, teacher, naturalist, and photographer. He and his wife and partner, Linda, live on a 172-acre family farm in central Iowa that is one of the few prairie seed sources in the Midwest.

Shorebirds come in all sizes, shapes and color styles.  The smallest are species like least sandpipers and semipalmated plovers at 6 or 7 inches in size up to the largest, godwits and curlews, varying from 18 to more than 20 inches. Plumages can be mottled with fine streaking or barring, while some species have more striking coloration.  Their bills vary from long and straight to short and stubby, some bills curving downward, some upward and most designed for probing in moist soil or in muddy shorelines. The greater yellowlegs featured here are medium in size at about 14 inches.  They are currently in mid-continent migration heading for their sub-arctic breeding grounds. 

Thanksgiving Holiday Menu 2: Desserts

What Thanksgiving meal is complete without dessert?

Election Cake from Seasons of Plenty

2 and 3/4 cups flour, sifted                          1/4 cup warm water
3/4 teaspoon salt                                          1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon nutmeg                                      1/2 cup raisins
1 cup milk                                                   1/2 cup citron
3/4 cup sugar                                               1 egg
1 envelope yeast                                          1/2 cup shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, salt, and nutmeg. In a saucepan scald the milk; then add 1/4 cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, sprinkle dry yeast into warm water. Stir lukewarm milk mixture. Add 1.5 cups sifted flour mixture and beat with wooden spoon until smooth. Cover with towel and set in a warm place. Allow to rise - about 1 hour. Dough should be light and bubbly.

In a second bowl, crea shortening and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Add egg, beating well.

Using your hands, mix dough with creamed shortening and sugar. Add remaining 1 and 1/4 cups flour. Knead in citron, raisins, and nuts. This must be thoroughly blended, so take your time.

Place dough in a well-greased 10-inch tube pan and cover. Set in a warm place and allow to rise about 1 hour. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan before inverting.

Combine ingredients for sugar glaze. When cake is still slightly warm, drizzle with sugar glaze.

Pumpkin Pie (Mrs. S. D. McClelland) from P.E.O. Cook Book

Peel the pumpkin, remove seeds and the stringy parts. Cut in small pieces and steam. When done beat to a cream with large spoon; press through sieve. to each quart of pumpkin, add three well-beaten eggs, a helping coffee cup sugar, one pint of new milk, one teaspoon each of ginger and nutmeg, half teaspoon allspice and tablespoon melted butter. Line pans with crust. Bake half done, remove from oven and fill with pumpkin and bake again until a light brown.

P.E.O. Cook Book(Souvenir Edition), edited by David E. Schoonover

Seasons of Plenty, by Emilie Hoppe

Thanksgiving Holiday Menu 1

Surprise your family with this delicious meal from the University of Iowa Press's cook book collection. Come back on Wednesday for our dessert ideas!

Roast Turkey (Elizabeth Hiller, Cooking School Instructor) from P.E.O. Cook Book

Select a plump, young, ten-poung turkey, dress, clean, stuff and truss. Place it on a rack in a dripping pan, rub entire surface with salt and spread with a butter paste, make by creaming together one-third cup butter an adding slowly one-fourth cup flour. This is spread over breast, wings and legs. Place in a hot oven and borne delicately, turning turkey often. Reduce heat when evenly browned, add two cups water to fat in the pan and baste every fifteen minutes until turkey is cooked.

Buttermilk Biscuits from Prairie Cooks

2 cups all-purpose flour                                  1 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons sugar                                           2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup butter or margarine

Sift flour and sugar together. Add butter and cut in as if mixing a pie crust. Stir soda into buttermilk and add all at once to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until it holds together. Turn out on floured board and knead two or three ties. Pat dough into a 1-inch-high round and cut out with a 1.5-inch biscuit cutter. Gently bunch any remaining dough to form and cut last biscuits. Place closely together on buttered baking sheet and brush tops light with buttermilk. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until brown. Makes 16 - 18 biscuits.

P.E.O. Cook Book(Souvenir Edition), edited by David E. Schoonover

Prairie Cooks, by Carrie Young with Felicia Young

Monday, November 19, 2012


In cutting through ice, the muskrats are adept if they work from below, and they may work well at this in water. They may gnaw upward through the ice in the middle of a marsh, and then heap up the vegetation for  a new lodge around the new hole. I happened to be walking across the care ice of a marsh center when a muskrat cut through ahead of me. It pulled its wet body out, and there it sat amid ice splinters beside a hole leading down through a foot or so of ice. A muskrat may similarly gnaw from below the ice over the plunge hole of a solidly frozen, abandoned lodge and rehabilitate the lodge in a few hours.

From OF MEN AND MARSHES by Paul L. Errington