Posts by Ellen Rocco

Help us build the annual summer reading list

A summer reader. Photo: Emily Mills, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

A summer reader. Photo: Emily Mills, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

What are you reading this summer?

What titles have you been reading at the beach, or at the camp, or maybe on your Kindle in the back seat during that long day trip? Do you have any recommendations from the new releases section at your library? Have an old favorite that just says “summer” to you?

Many of you let us know during our annual summer reading call-in program Wednesday, joining Readers & Writers hosts Ellen Rocco and Chris Robinson and book maven John Ernst to share their picks of the season.

You can still help us build the list by making your suggestions in a comment below, or via email to ellen@ncpr.org.

In a few days, we will publish a compiled list of everybody’s favorites right here.

Mid-summer beauty and bounty

Keene Community Garden. Photo: Sarah Prince

Keene Community Garden. Photo: Sarah Prince

Lilies are the leading ladies of the landscape during July. Other showy growers right now: squash and cukes, plus tomato plants growing like, well, weeds, though not many of us have seen anything red yet.

Your photos from the past week came from Schroon Lake, Plattsburgh, Tupper Lake Junction, Keene and parts unknown but definitely on NCPR’s landscape.

Here’s a gallery of gorgeous photos from flower and vegetable gardens sent in by NCPR friends.

Ken and Barb Adams garden in Plattsburgh. Flowers abound.

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Clematis Contesse de Bouchaud. Photo: Ken and Barb Adams

Daylily Pasque Flower. Photo: Ken and Barb Adams

Daylily Pasque Flower. Photo: Ken and Barb Adams

Split Rail Fence. Photo: Ken and Barb Adams

Split Rail Fence. Photo: Ken and Barb Adams

Many of you know George DeChant’s photographs from his contributions to our Photo of the Day feature. I’m assuming these garden photos were taken in his hometown of Saranac Lake.

 

Lily. Photo: George DeChant

Lily. Photo: George DeChant

Lilies. Photo: George DeChant

Lilies. Photo: George DeChant

dechantlily3a

Nursing home flower box. Photo: George DeChant

Nursing home flower box. Photo: George DeChant

Helene Vanderburgh has been checking in periodically with photos from her Schroon Lake garden. Here’s the latest selection.

Lilies and daisies. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

Lilies and daisies. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

Mallow and gooseneck loosestrife. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

Mallow and gooseneck loosestrife. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

Finally, something to eat…

Squash up the wheel. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

Squash up the wheel. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

A proud husband Glenn Poirier sent in these photos from Tupper Lake Junction taken by wife Nancie.

Nancie's garden.

Chives and herbs, plus a bee.

Nancie's onions.

Nancie’s onions.

Tomatoes in Nancie's garden.

Tomatoes in Nancie’s garden, plus peppers, cukes, herbs.

From Patricia Bowdish in Lisbon, some beautiful garden photos:

Photo: Pat Grace

Photo: Patricia Bowdish

Photo: Pat Grace

Photo: Patricia Bowdish

Photo: Pat Grace

Photo: Patricia Bowdish

Photo: Pat Grace

Photo: Patricia Bowdish

Finally, my favorite of the week. This from Canton–we all can relate.

Weeding is highly overrated. Photo: Maegan

Weeding is highly overrated. Photo: Maegan Bos

Keep those photos coming…Flowers usually reach their peak in July, but August is vegetable month. All gardening photos welcome. I’m posting about once a week. Send your photos to: ellen@ncpr.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A near perfect gardening month

 

I never saw a tree frog in a lily before a recent NCPR photo of the day...but here's is one I found at my house last night. Who knew? -- Martha Foley

I never saw a tree frog in a lily before a recent NCPR photo of the day…but here’s is one I found at my house last night. Who knew? — Martha Foley. Correction: a commenter below noted that this is a spring peeper, not a tree frog. Our apologies to misidentified amphibians everywhere.

Seems to me the weather has been cooperating nicely with gardening goals: a fairly balanced mix of sun and rain. And, it shows in your photographs of gardens from across the region. The collection today takes us from a school garden in Long Lake to a master gardener in Potsdam, from a scenic location along the shores of Cranberry Lake to Martha Foley’s perennial flower patch outside Canton.

We begin in Rose Rivezza’s charming garden patches.

One of the new hugels (see text) built recently in the Rivezza's Potsdam yard. Photo: Rose Rivezza

One of the new hugels (see text) built recently in the Rivezza’s Potsdam yard. Photo: Rose Rivezza

Here’s what Rose wrote about the hugel (in photos above and at right below):

rivezza3a

Another view of the hugel. Photo: Rose Rivezza

 

 

 

“…something new we did this year (at our son’s urging) that we are so excited about.  It’s a hugel ….a mound planting done by inverting sod, manure, and dirt over buried/mounded wood.  This one is covering a willow tree we took down after we let the logs and bigger branches dry out.  The idea is that the decaying wood will hold more water and begin to add nutrients to the soil.  I just think it looks cool.  This one is planted with zucchini (kind of densely planted at the end so I can harvest the blossoms rather than the fruit), eggplant, peppers, parsley, sorrel, nasturtiums, and some perennials.”

Two more photos from Rose’s gardens. The one on the left below shows herb boxes with petunia accents built into a ramp for Rose’s dad. The photo on the right highlights raised bed planting of chard.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Rose Rivezza

Photo: Rose Rivezza

Photo: Rose Rivezza

Photo: Rose Rivezza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becky Bradt has helped make gardeners out of some of the children at Long Lake Central School.

Here are two recent photos.

Youngster weeding school garden. Photo: Becky Bradt

Youngster weeding school garden. Photo: Becky Bradt

 

Trimming rhubarb. Photo: Becky Bradt

Trimming rhubarb. Photo: Becky Bradt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down the road in Blue Mountain Lake, Mary Leach’s garden looks great. Fabulous pepper!

A tidy and nicely fenced patch. Photo: Mary Leach

A tidy and nicely fenced patch. Photo: Mary Leach

Tomatoes coming along nicely. Photo: Mary Leach

Tomatoes coming along nicely. Photo: Mary Leach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Mary Leach

Photo: Mary Leach

Photo: Mary Leach

Photo: Mary Leach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More from the region’s gardens:

 

Cukes running amok. Photo: Jane Sandberg

Cukes running amok. Photo: Jane Sandberg, Jericho, VT

A Schroon Lake garden in July. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

A Schroon Lake garden in July. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ken and Barb Adams sent in this photo of their gorgeous, whimsical garden.

Photo: Ken and Barb Adams

Photo: Ken and Barb Adams, Plattsburgh

 

A different notion of a garden, from Mary Jo Lampart in Cranberry Lake.

Photo: Mary Jo Lampart

Photo: Mary Jo Lampart

We end with lilies…one from Martha Foley’s garden, one from mine.

Lilies and bee balm. Photo: Martha Foley

Lilies and bee balm. Photo: Martha Foley

Lilies in front of my DeKalb house. Photo: Ellen Rocco

Lilies in front of my DeKalb house. Photo: Ellen Rocco

Okay, keep those photos coming. We’re trying to post once a week with a scan of gardens across the region. Send photos to ellen@ncpr.org and remember to include your name and where you live and garden. Happy weeding.

 

 

 

Recipes of the week: keeping it fresh and simple

My garden this week. Garlic scapes, peas just in front of garlic, clematis and cukes. Photo: Ellen Rocco

My garden this week. Garlic scapes, peas just in front of garlic, clematis and cukes. Photo: Ellen Rocco

Thanks to those of you who shared tidbits of recipes and food ideas for this week’s food post about using early garden bounty. Here’s a sampling of some of the themes and standout suggestions.

I want to start with one that was included in NCPR’s book, “Stories, Food, Life.” It’s perfect for this time of year because just about everyone I know is eating fresh salad greens from their own gardens or from farmers markets. It’s Ben Strader’s salad dressing recipe. Ben is the director of the Blue Mountain Center in Blue Mountain Lake. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to attend a number of Board retreats, conferences and seminars at the Center. Whenever salad is served at a meal, there are big bottles of Ben’s dressing to go with it. Mix up a batch and keep it in the fridge for those summer greens.

Ben’s Blue Mountain Center Salad Dressing, Ben Strader, Blue Mountain Lake

Mix into blender: 1/2 cup water, 1/2 apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup tamari (or good soy sauce), 1-1/2 cups nutritional yeast flakes (use a bit less if powdered), 1-1/2 cups safflower oil, finely chopped garlic to taste. Blend away, then pour on just about anything but ice cream, and enjoy.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, Rhonda Butler, Asgaard Farm, Ausable Forks

First, prepare maple vinaigrette by combining 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup maple-flavored vinegar, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste and, if you like, some fresh green herbs like chives, basil, oregano and/or thyme.

Wrap 4 medium beets in foil and bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes, or until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove the beets from the oven, cool and slide the skins off beets.

Arrange fresh garden greens on individual salad plates or on a large platter and dice the beets on top of the greens. Dot the beets and greens with pieces of fresh chevre. Sprinkle with walnut pieces and drizzle vinaigrette over everything.

Okay, these recipes address the abundance of salad greens and beets at this time of year. How about those peas or chard? Snap peas can be added to every salad and stir fry, of course. I am a personal devotee of shelled sweet peas. I remember my son, from his days as a toddler right up through middle school, plopping down in the pea patch and happily shelling and eating peas. I very briefly blanch peas (a minute or two, until the peas turn bright green), then dip in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain the peas and store in the fridge. I add these to everything: green and potato salads, stir fries, cold soups.

Swiss Chard and Garlic Scapes, Ellen Rocco (this isn’t really a recipe, it’s a way of thinking about using whatever is coming out of the garden at this time of year)

Rinse a big bunch of chard leaves. If it’s small and young, leave whole. If it’s getting large (more than 6-8 inches), chop up the leaves a bit. Trim a batch of garlic scapes (it’s up to you how many you use) and slice up a bit. In a large frying pan or wok, heat some nice oil (sesame is my favorite for this) and toss in the scapes. Soften them up a bit, then throw in the chard. You may want to add a bit of water and/or soy sauce. Cook until chard is tender to the tooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

You can do the same sort of thing with beet greens (which feel like velvet on the palate), kale, young collards, endive…whatever.

Please add your ideas for early summer cooking. These are just a few ideas to prime the pump.

Coming next week: beverages for hot weather sipping…or guzzling. Share your suggestions and favorites with Nora, nora@ncpr.org.

 

 

Garden check, early July

Monique Cornett, our summer digital and news apprentice, snapped this photo of her father Mark's garden after the wind swept through St. Lawrence County last night. Photo: Monique Cornett

Monique Cornett, our summer digital and news apprentice, shared this photo of her father Mark’s garden after the wind swept through St. Lawrence County last night. Photo: Mark Cornett

This corn was nicely mounded and will recover from the wind. Last summer, a severe storm drove through my garden when the corn was about 10 days out from picking. We lost some but salvaged 75% by building a stick and rope lattice system down each row to which we tied individual stalks. Time consuming, but I love fresh corn!

With the holiday weekend,  fewer submissions of garden photos this past week, but here’s what’s come in. Keep sending those garden pictures to me at ellen@ncpr.org so we can track garden progress through the growing season.

The Rudd garden in Potsdam. Photo: Jim Rudd

The Rudd garden in Potsdam. Photo: Jim Rudd

Jess Prody's lettuce patch in Canton. Photo: Jon Sklaroff

Jess Prody’s lettuce patch in Canton. Photo: Jon Sklaroff

Jess Prody's tomato and nasturtium patch in Canton. Photo: Jon Sklaroff

Jess Prody’s tomato and nasturtium patch in Canton. Photo: Jon Sklaroff

 

 

From NPR: Behind the Civil Rights Act

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs Civil Rights Bill, July 2, 2014. Photo via the LBJ Library.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs Civil Rights Bill, July 2, 2014. Photo via the LBJ Library.

This past week we marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was landmark legislation in so many ways, touching virtually every arena of life in the United States at that time. While the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s largely played out on southern soil–in Mississippi and Alabama and Tennessee–the legislation reached into discriminatory practices in every state of the union.

mlkandmalcolm2

A few months prior to the passage of the legislation, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X met in Washington outside of Congress. Apparently, this was the only time these two leaders met in person. Photo: public domain, via Wikipedia

NPR invited observers, scholars and writers to de-construct the Civil Rights Act to help us understand what life was like in 1964, how the Act impacted our political, cultural and social infrastructure, and how all of this relates to life in the United States 50 years later.

Behind the Civil Rights Act is an amazing resource featuring Nina Totenberg, NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent; Barbara R. Arnwine, President, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Nikole Hannah-Jones, Reporter, Pro-Publica; Clay Rise, author of “The Bill of the Century,” and half a dozen other participants.

There is so much content at the site–photographs, legislative language, essays. It’s all usable on your tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop. It’s interactive and beautifully put together.

I can’t think of a better resource to share with you on this July 4th weekend, 50 years after this legislation became law of the land. I remember the day, vividly. It was a brutal summer: Medgar Evers, an NAACP leader in the South, was murdered, as were three voter registration civil rights workers. Behind the Civil Rights Act brings it all back–and forward into present times–and provides a level of understanding that is worth your time.

Happy July 4th. We can be proud of this piece of our history.

 

Football, 1; Soccer, 4

soccermodernball_375

Photo via

Photo via Tigers.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to argue here that we replace football with soccer as the number one field sport in the U.S. Before I give you my irrefutable and carefully researched reasons, let me share my credentials.

I am a hardcore Yankees fan…at least post-season, or if C.C. is pitching.

I watch some basketball but I miss the old days–before foul calls punctuated every five minutes of play.

I love watching top level women’s sports–largely because it feels more authentic and less driven by commercial activity.

I never watch golf…even back when Tiger was playing at the top of his game.

I follow both winter and summer Olympics.

I have personally completed five marathons…walking.

Photo:

Football (soccer) in Malawi. Photo: Francesco Veronesi via Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Okay, now my soccer vs. football, pros/cons.

* Football is much more physically dangerous than soccer. Score one point for soccer.

* The U.S. is basically the only country that plays football, making it very 20th vs. 21st century–it’s a global economy and a global sports world nowadays. Score one point for soccer.

* Soccer requires greater athleticism and less equipment/gear–go anywhere in the world with a soccer ball and it’s “game on!” within minutes. Score one point for soccer.

* Aside from the “off sides” call, the rules of soccer are much less complicated. Score one point for soccer.

* Football has tailgate parties. Score one for football.

Like the title of this post says, football, 1; soccer, 4. Now go tune in a World Cup game.

First official US soccer team, 1916. Photo via Wikipedia.

First official US soccer team formation, 1916. Photo via Wikipedia.

 

July in the garden

Beets reaching toward the sun. Photo: Daniel Romlein, Potsdam

Beets reaching for the sun. Photo: Daniel Romlein, Potsdam

As we begin July with hot, humid weather, our shout out to gardeners across the region brought in a wonderful range of photos. Gardens are going into full production, moving from greens, radishes and volunteer herbs to peas and beans and beets. Some growers are already seeing summer squash and cukes.

Great fun across a wide range of gardening: from pocket raised beds and patio pots to expansive, long-rowed ventures.

Keep sending those photos to me: ellen@ncpr.org

 

The whimsical Entayant Garden at Rainbow Lake. Photo: Don Bush

The whimsical Entayant Garden at Rainbow Lake. Photo: Don Bush

From our long-time Vermont gardening friend Cassandra Corcoran, this series of recent garden photos:

Asparagus bed, with nettles towering behind the roses. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Asparagus bed, with nettles towering behind the roses. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Third mounding of the spuds. Garlic hiding behind. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Third mounding of the spuds. Garlic hiding behind. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broccoli, lettuce and beets. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Broccoli, lettuce and beets. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

 

 

 

Cannellini beans and one hearty plentiful zucchini. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Cannellini beans and one hearty plentiful zucchini. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little raised bed garden at Chase Lake. Photo: Caryn Allen

Little raised bed garden at Chase Lake. Photo: Caryn Allen

Little Indian Lake garden, with praying mantis sculpture. Photo: George DeChant

Little Indian Lake garden, with praying mantis sculpture. Photo: George DeChant

Remember to send your gardening photos to me–successes as well as failures. I’ll share some of my failures this summer. We learn from our mistakes, right? Photos should be emailed to: ellen@ncpr.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predators on our landscape

Raccoon. Photo: Eliya, via Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Raccoon. Photo: Eliya, via Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Several converging experiences over the last week got me to thinking about the role predators play in the food chain and even, it turns out, on the shape of our landscape.

It began with my hen house, led to the ridge at the top of my hay field, and ended in Yellowstone Park.

Photo: Mary Thill, Saranac Lake

Photo: Mary Thill, Saranac Lake

A few days ago, I mixed up the usual morning hot mash for my laying hens and headed out to the hen house. Shock of “things are not as they should be” when I opened the door. Feathers everywhere. Three dead hens, three seriously injured. And up in the rafters, an adolescent raccoon. I dumped the mash and ran to the tool shed to find something to encourage the raccoon’s immediate departure. By the time I returned, it had left on its own accord.

Human error. My error made it possible for the raccoon to attack the hens. The previous night, when I closed the hen house door after dusk, I didn’t notice the raccoon was already tucked in along the rafters. Over the course of the night, it must have played “catch the bird” with the hens. Not much sign of eating but lots of destruction.

I’ve learned over the years that the best defense against raccoon, fox and weasel attacks on hens is to have a way to secure the hen house door at night–plus metal stripping along all small openings so the weasels can’t, well, weasel their way in. While I am not opposed to the killing of a wild animal that is clearly rabid or exhibiting aggressive behavior around my house or barnyard, I really prefer to find other solutions. Live and let live (as long as the predator understands that the hens or lambs get to live, too).

Two (vulnerable) lambs. Photo: Ellen Rocco

Two (vulnerable) lambs. Photo: Ellen Rocco

The next night, I heard coyote calls over the ridge. With my sheep flock gone, I no longer worry about lamb safety, but as recently as last summer, if we had sheep pasturing out of sight of the house, in spite of the combination of permanent and moveable electric fencing, I probably would have walked to the back pasture to make sure any recently born lambs were safe. I never lost lambs to coyote, but neighbors who also raise sheep certainly have. Once again, solid fencing or night time housing can protect against predators.

Frankly, I love the call of coyote, even when it sets me worrying about predatory attacks. Of course, coyote, like most predators, are opportunistic. They go for the easy prey, feeding largely on field rodents and birds rather than domesticated animals.

The third episode in my predator musings came with a video my brother sent me. A long time activist on behalf of wolf protection, my brother has closely followed the re-introduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park and the ups and downs of their protected status. This video, shared below, is extraordinary because it explores how the wolves have had a much deeper impact on the ecology of the Park than we usually attribute to them. Yes, we all know that deer populations run out of control when humans are their only predator. We also know that uncontrolled deer populations destroy bird and other wild life habitat. But check out this video for a different take on the role of the wolf–a story of how the wolf’s impact on deer behavior has transformed the Yellowstone landscape.

After watching the video, I went down the hall to talk to our web guy Dale Hobson about sharing it with you. He reminded me that we have some extraordinary photos of north country predators taken by our listeners and web audiences–in the www.ncpr.org Photo of the Day albums.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Imprint of a Great Horned Owl that went in feet first to grab a mouse under the snow in Canton. Photo: Joshua Johnson, Bemus Point NY.

Imprint of a Great Horned Owl that went in feet first to grab a mouse under the snow in Canton. Photo: Joshua Johnson, Bemus Point NY.

Red fox headed home with lunch for the crew. Photo: Amy Cook, Gouverneur NY.

Red fox headed home with lunch for the crew. Photo: Amy Cook, Gouverneur NY.

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“Catch of the Day,” mink with a brown trout on the West Branch of the Ausable, Photo: Larry Master, Lake Placid

 

Two predators go for the easy snack: bird feeders.

Unusual visitor to the bird feeder, a marten. Photo: Howard Linke, North River NY.

Unusual visitor to the bird feeder, a marten. Photo: Howard Linke, North River NY.

A rare daytime visitor to the suet feeder--a fisher--caught on trail cam. Photo: Larry Master, Lake Placid, NY

A rare daytime visitor to the suet feeder–a fisher–caught on trail cam. Photo: Larry Master, Lake Placid, NY

 

North Country gardens–your first photos

Foxglove at Kent Family Growers in Lisbon. Photo: Megan Kent

Peonies at Kent Family Growers in Lisbon. Photo: Megan Kent

We begin our summer garden scan with an assortment of photos from North Creek to Lisbon, with an emphasis on flowers. Keep those garden photos coming. We want to see how your vegetables and flowers are doing. Don’t be shy. Perhaps you’re doing a patio garden with potted tomatoes and lots of flowers. Send us photos. So much fun to see what everyone is up to out in the dirt. Photos may be emailed to ellen@ncpr.org and be sure to include your name and the location of your garden.

We had a great email from Megan at Kent Family Growers in Lisbon. The family runs a vegetable and flower CSA. Here’s what Megan had to say about growing flowers:

This has been a pretty ideal spring for many flowers, with carmine red Maltese Cross at it’s peak currently, Delphinium soon to follow and Lilies next in line.  The plastic “high tunnel” is producing Snapdragons, Zinnias, Rudbeckia and Ageratum and the Sunflowers and Celosia are slowly growing their way into the limelight for the fall.  Working with flowers is one of the most enjoyable activities I experience each year and I feel a small loss with every passing of a particular flower’s peak.  During the winter months, the lack of flowers in my life feels like a vitamin deficiency in my body, so I try to take in as much as I can before the frost.

Here’s another one from the Kent farm:

Foxglove. Kent Family Growers, Lisbon. Photo: Megan Kent

Foxglove. Kent Family Growers, Lisbon. Photo: Megan Kent

In Schroon Lake, southeast of Lisbon, Helene Vanderburgh sent us this photo, entitled “Almost Red, White and Blue.”

Almost red, white and blue, in Schroon Lake. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

Almost red, white and blue, in Schroon Lake. Photo: Helene Vanderburgh

Not far from Schroon Lake, over in North Creek, Mary and Roger Abramson sent us photos of flowering shrubs.

White spirea, North Creek. Photo: Abramson

White spirea, North Creek. Photo: Abramson

Close up of red weigela. Photo: Abramson

Close up of red weigela. Photo: Abramson

Red weigela, North Creek. Photo: Abramson

Red weigela, North Creek. Photo: Abramson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine bark flowers, North Creek. Photo: Abramson

Nine bark flowers, North Creek. Photo: Abramson

Okay, your turn. Let’s get some vegetable garden photos into next week’s garden round up. Again, send those photos to ellen@ncpr.org, include your name and location. Thanks.