Chief Smusher

Originally posted on What Challenge:

A few years ago, almost 2 decades ago, my son’s in-laws invited me to Thanksgiving diner. I was going to bring desert in the form of Pumpkin Pie. Now when I make Pumpkin Pie I don’t use that canned stuff, but will chop up, cook then mash the real thing. That is a bit of work, but then I have done all the work, sorry Libby.

This particular Thanksgiving my older grandson, probably about the age of 3 or 4 said he’s like to help. But his comments about Pumpkin Pie went about like “Yetch!” and that he didn’t like it. But he would come help me do all the work.

Now making pumpkin pie from scratch does involve a bit of work, scrape the innards from the pumpkin, cut it into small pieces and cut off the hard outer skin. I handled the knife, my grandson was too small…

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Tale of two dinners

This is the story of two dinners, one a great success, the other sort of. Further back than I want to remember my wife came to me with an idea, The conversation went like this.

Her, “I’m thinking of inviting Father Tom to dinner in a couple weeks.”
Me, “That sounds great, what’re having?”
Her, “I don’t know yet. You can cook anything you like!”
Me, “Ok, I’ll come up with something.”

I do like to cook, and had been collecting the “Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cooking” ( sadily it sees that eBay is the only place to find that 12 volume set.), the mid 1960s edition in the grocery store every month or so. Yes it was that long ago.

I worked a day or so mulling over the books till I came up with a menu I had never cooked before. I do have some confidence in my abilities in the kitchen. The combo I came up with was based out of the “Pennsylvania Dutch” section and consisted of “Pork Balls with Noodles”, “Sour Beans”, hot Popovers, and ending with “Rhubarb Pie”. And this would be on a weekday evening after I worked all day.

I could go on with how I timed everything so that I spent almost no time in the kitchen after Fr. Tom arrived. The dinner was a great success.

The second great dinner was probably about 5 or so years later. We were hosting a Thanksgiving dinner to include my sister and her husband. And again I was the cook. Almost disaster. I wanted something that looked traditional, but not Turkey. So out of the same set of cookbooks I came up with “Crown Roast of Pork.” Man that thing was huge. It just barely fit in my oven! Add to that, I had no pan large enough to hold it. Two cookie sheets covered with aluminum foil wouldn’t do the trick either. In a panic I knocked on a neighbor’s door and asked her if she had any idea. Luckily she had a sheet cake pan large enough and would loan it to me. One disaster averted.

All but one enjoyed my creation, including mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and if I remember, cranberry sauce (out of the can). There was one holdout that didn’t like it, “It’s NOT turkey and this Thanksgiving!”

Both of these were so far back that I don’t have any pictures, the crown roast photo if from What’s Cooking America

for the Daily Post Shaken and Stirred Nov. 26, 2014

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Aladdin and Miss Suzzie

I could start this “Once Upon A Time” but I think not. So how do I start this? A long while ago Blue Crabs, Oysters and Rockfish were plentiful on the Chesapeake Bay. That’s when the water was cleaner than it is today. Back in the 1940s and ’50s I remember boats loaded till the gunwales were awash. Today a couple dozen bushels of crabs is a good catch.

Over harvesting and pollution is holding down the crab, The crab population count in 2014 is one of the lowest in history. But the Rockfish seems to be staging a small comeback

So where does Miss Suzie and Aladdin fit into this story. They were two of the many work-boats plying the waters of the Chesapeake. Today they lie rotting on the shore of the West River, near Shadeyside, Md. I discovered them, and the remains of a few more while kayaking from Galesville

. These decaying hulks most without names serve as a reminder of what riches the Bay once provided. In the middle of the last century one could find ghost of old work-boats like this in many of the marshes along the shores of the Bay.


About all that’s visible of Miss Suzzie.

More remains of Aladdin. Her bow resting on shore amidst weeds.

While I was paddling around here I shot some other remains.


Though not a hull, it definitely belongs to a piece of sunken wreck. The water here is just a few feet deep but the water is too turbid to see what it is connected to.

Sailing vessels were used mainly for hauling in Oysters, and nets full of fish. The extreme rake of the mast was designed to hoist the cargo to and from the hold.

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A few days Off The Grid

Have you ever wanted to spend a few days Off The Grid? Would you call a fast channel crossing a cruise? We did both! Aboard the Capt. Jason II we crossed the Tangier Sound in the Chesapeake Bay to Smith Island where we had a few days Off The Grid, well not fully, but with very limited cell phone and no Internet we came close. Smith Island is served by boats from Crisfield, at the southern most tip of the Eastern Shore in Maryland. Another island nearby
is Tangier Island, about 10 miles south of Smith Island in Virginia.

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Birds, Birds, Birds at Wilde Lake

From time to time I take my camera to Wilde Lake and wait for some god photos to happen. Earlier this week was one of the good days; Woodpeckers, Great Blue Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, and an Osprey. Unfortunately the Black Crowned was hiding and I didn’t get a chance to shoot it. There was also a reported sighting of a Yellow Heron, and of course plenty of Canada Geese. The Osprey just made one turn overhead, not a good photo-op. So I’ll just leave you with what I think are some good shots.

Adult and Juvenile Woodpecker

Adult and Juvenile Woodpecker

Great Blue Heron fishing

Great Blue Heron fishing


Heron and Canada Geese

Heron and Canada Geese

6-gbhon island_3642

There are two nests of Green herons, with about 4 or 5 chicks in each of them. Today they were big enough to fly, but still stayed around ‘home’. I was able to get some shots of one of the nests while the chicks were just fighting for the best place on the tree branch to get fed. While the adult just stood by and watched.

6-juvenileGH_3690

Adult and Juvenile Green Herons Adult and Juvenile Green Herons

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On the Water on the 4th

The heavy work finished last night, the racks installed and the kayaks loaded. The gear bags sorted, and everything checked.we were ready for the Fourth of July. So when the morning dawned and the Weather Underground forecast was for sun and clear sky the only thing left was to consider the wind and decide where to launch.

Based in central Maryland we have many choices, so let’s see: Piney Run Park – too small, Baltimore harbor launching at the Canton Waterfront Park Well. there’s Fort McHenry across from the Canton put-in, but the Potapsco River is always busy and the crossing would not be comfortable. Annapolis – again it would be busy with lots of powerboats and confused water. Ok, look north. Lake Marburg in Codorus Park, Pa. but we’ve been there a lot and there are lots of pontoon boats – I call them party barges, way too busy for our tastes. There’s not much to the west, so we looked south. The Potapsco River at Daniels (see some my earlier posts), good, but it’s a short paddle upstream before we hit rapids that neither of us wanted to attempt, and we had a lot of rain in the previous couple of days – fast-moving water with lots of mud. Further south is Seneca Lake in Black Hills Park. That’s good when no one is fishing, but when fishermen are active so are the power boats. Add to the fact that we covered most of the lake about a month ago helped us decide against it. Only one convenient place left to paddle, Tridelphia Lake. Yes, we paddled there only 2 weeks ago but there is very little power boat traffic. Our last trip to Tridelphia opened up a new vista for us, unlike open water, it would have plenty of shade, So we decided another visit was in store.

When we arrived at the Tridelphia Lake Road boat launch ramp the lagoon calm, but we could see the water out on the lake was a bit rougher, nothing to be concerned about, so we unloaded the boats and gear then launched. The paddle up to the head of the lake was into the wind, and seas – lots of work. Once at the head of the lake we turned into a small stream, about 30′ across, and headed into very quiet water. The rains I mentioned earlier caused some run-off from the nearby farms and lots of turbidity so we couldn’t see much underwater. This stream continues for almost a mile and unlike the body of the lake, it is tree covered. We paddled in shade most of the way in pure “wilderness”. Not a sound of a car or truck could be heard, only the calls of many birds, and twice we spotted what we think was a Beaver, but with a loud Splash of its tail it disappeared underwater. The video gives a better feel to our day on Tridelphin Lake.

After tying off to a snag along the creek for lunch we turned back, into sun, and the main body of the lake. The chop that we fought on the outbound part of the trip helped push us along on our return to the car.

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