Another wonderful experience at Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida, KitchenAid Sheet Cutter, Foods I make, and April activities

I am still keeping busy and thankfully still feeling pretty good most days, for which I am extremely grateful. I try every day to remember to be grateful for all of the blessings I have, one of which is that my pain has lessened, and I am still eating the same way and making all of my own food mostly from scratch. I also remember that I can walk, talk, breathe, see, hear, taste, etc. every day. Sometimes I seem to take these for granted, then I remember the times that some of those senses and activities were not easy for me. Such as walking after having an operation or foot surgery, or breathing when I had a cold.

My friend Debbie and I went to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida, this past Thursday. I called Sue Arnold about a week before and asked what she needs me to bring. She said she needs whole wheat bread and some vegetables. I bought 35 loaves of wheat bread to bring and I bought sturdy toys for the animals and some other things they can use. I asked our local grocery store produce and bakery managers if they could donate some items they can’t sell and they were very generous with the donations of bread and vegetables that we were able to bring to the wildlife center. Sue was thrilled with everything we brought. As always, I bring food for us to have a picnic lunch.¬† I didn’t think to take a pictures of how full we packed Debbie’s car with everything we brought. I don’t think anything else would have fit in the car, unless I held it on my lap.

Here is a link to the photos I took on this trip. To see the stories and pictures from the numerous other visits I have made to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center you can do a search in my search box and it will bring up the stories for you to look at. Also, I have directions in a few previous stories. If you use a GPS it will most probably give you a longer way to get there than the directions I give. The first time I went there I used my GPS for guidance and it took 45 minutes longer than the route that Sue Arnold told me about for my future visits. Also, the route I posted from Broward and Palm Beach Counties is scenic and very little traffic once you get off I-95 at Blue Heron Boulevard.

In going to the website for Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, I noticed that the website address has changed. I haven’t had a chance to go back to old stories to change the link so if you click on a link for them that doesn’t work in the story, do a search for it or use the link above to get you there. It is NOT arnoldswildlife.org any longer.

There are several new additions to the wildlife center this visit. It seems every time I go there that there are several new animals to see and of course visiting the nursery and animal hospital is where I often see animals I haven’t seen before or in quite a while. This time in the nursery and hospital were Anhinga and Barred Owls, a baby lamb with a broken leg in a cast, baby rabbits and baby opposum, a baby otter, and several other animals.

The newest exhibit is one with two Prevost squirrels which Sue got this past Sunday. There is also a two week old baby ringtail lemur. You can see it if you look closely in the photos below. As we walked around the wildlife center we saw a rare site. The Indonesian Jade Peacock, which is in an enclosed cage since it is a rare and endangered animal, and one of the resident free regular peacocks seemed to want to show off and try to prove who is dominant. The uncaged peacock was over near the Jade Peacocks cage. Sue pointed out that they were showing off and that it is a rare site. I got several photos of them including one with the wings open which I didn’t realize until I looked at the pictures when I downloaded them to my computer. The albino Wallaby is still there and he loves eating. When we were by the cages to give them banana pieces they came over to get them and then later took their siesta.

There is also a three legged deer in one of the fenced areas. I didn’t take as many pictures on this trip, many of them would be similar to pictures in previous posts and albums. Lulu the camel and her three year old daughter Annie are always fun to watch. After we were there a while we walked around the cages again and went to see the camels and they were laying in the shade under some trees. When we called to them they looked at us but decided to stay where they were. I love watching the animals play with their toys. I watch for safe toys for them when I am at thrift stores, and I always remove the batteries if there are any so the animals are safe. Someone I know had their dog die because somehow it ate a battery, they think it was when they boarded their dog while they were on a trip. If you have animals be careful how you store your batteries. When I see batteries in parking lots or other places I pick them up and put them in garbage cans.

Several animals have passed away, mostly due to age. Sadly, there aren’t any more llamas. There was a llama several years ago named Oreo because he was black and white. A while ago Cricket who was Zeke the Capuchin’s mate passed away as did Foxy Brown the fox squirrel who I have written about before. She was found after starting a 5 acre grass fire by chewing through some power lines. Sue acquires animals in different ways. Foxy Brown came to her when an official searching for the cause of the grass fire saw her on the ground and realized she chewed the wire. They brought her to Sue who was able to save the or a relative of someone who dies or cannot take care of their pet any longer gives Sue the animals. Whenever possible, Sue and her volunteers try to rehabilitate the animals and release them to their natural habitat, but for various reasons it’s not always possible.

If you want a great place to make a donation this is one of them. All the money donated goes to the care and feeding of the animals. By helping to save these animals they will be alive and available for people to see and experience their behaviors. So many animals are becoming rare, endangered, and/or extinct for so many reasons. It’s so sad to see species disappear. There are many rare or endangered animals at Arnold’s Wildlife such as the Indonesian Jade Peacocks and the Asian Fishing Cats. An albino Wallaby is also rare.

It was really hot the day we visited so many of the animals were sleeping either on the floor of their cage, or in their dens where we couldn’t see them. I still love giving fruit to the different types of monkeys and other animals we could feed. Nothing goes to waste. We fed the bananas to the monkeys, squirrels, and raccoons and the peels went to the deer, kangaroos, and a few other animals.

I took a few pictures of the butterfly garden, which in addition to having plants that attract butterflies, the garden is the shape of a butterfly with the center being the body and antennae and the wings off to each side. Sue said that the plants in the butterfly garden were trimmed back the day before we got there so that they can grow and flower again for the butterfly event there in July. There is a really nice vine covered viewing deck that overlooks the butterfly garden.

It was a fun day, and the weather was wonderful, although a bit warm. As we drove and got about halfway there we seemed to experience getting into June bugs which attacked the car windshield and the entire front end of the car. We had to clean the windows before starting our trip home and when we got home we went through the car wash to get all of the bugs off the car. The front bumper looked like we glued lots of bugs onto it.

The City had a concert in the park several weeks ago and the music was a tribute band of Bon Jovi and Journey so I went to listen to the music. There were lots of food trucks too and it was going to be a wonderful evening. There was blue sky and sunshine. However, as the music started we began to see dark clouds in the distance and about an hour into listening to music it started to rain really hard. Lots of people left, however, hoping that the rain would stop soon many of us took shelter under the roof overhang of the recreation building. The band started playing again after their break, even though it was still raining. But after about 20 minutes they stopped and everyone left. Sadly the wonderful event that I know the recreation director worked hard to organize came to an end. As I am posting these photos I can see my shadow in the foreground. It turns out the same band played the music of both groups. For Bon Jovi they wore long wigs and bell bottom pants and more wild outfits. For Journey their hair changed, as did their clothes. They all had great voices and put on an exceptional show.

My flower bed is still thriving, although as the temperatures are getting hotter and sun is shining longer I can see the heat is taking its toll on the plants. Even watering in the morning is not helping much. The garden and flower pots dry out almost instantly. I did cut the lettuce from the garden and I donated it to the wildlife center last week. I am dehydrating most of the herbs so I can use them when I cook, or for some of them to make tea. By drying them I can keep them longer in case the heat gets the best of them.

When I was looking for a dessert recipe I came across a website that had something called Magic Lemon Cake, they also had a Magic Chocolate Cake. So that night I made the Magic Lemon Cake and it came out pretty good, and it was magic. There are different stages to making the batter, and when it baked it separated into three different layers. Last night I decided to make the chocolate one and it tastes pretty good too. For the lemon cake I didn’t have enough lemons for the juice needed so I added some bottled lemon juice and it still tasted good.

I love using my KitchenAid mixers, both the new and old ones. Since they have different capacity bowls, I switch between them depending on what I am making to see which will mix the batter or dough the best. I also bought a smaller bowl to fit the 6 quart mixer to work for smaller batches and it is working out great.

In order to utilize all that these wonderful KitchenAid mixers can do, I have been buying several of the attachments and they are so much fun to use. I love making pasta with the pasta roller and cutters, I have written about this in previous stories. I grind meat and other foods with the grinder attachment. I have not made sausage yet, but it’s on my list of things to make. I do use the shredder and slicer occasionally. KitchenAid came out with a sheet cutter attachment a while ago and after much consideration, and watching a lot of videos on how it works, I decided to buy it. This attachment is so cool. It slices fruits and vegetables into sheets. Depending on the shape and size of the food the sheets can be 2 to 4 or 5 inches across and several feet long.

My friend Debbie came over one day so we could try this attachment. We put apples and potatoes on the sheet cutter. For the first apple we cut we had a strip of apple that was 8 feet long. Yes, 8 feet, we measured it. We held the apple strip out and she stood where it started and I was at the end. After we put the apple down I took the tape measure and measured the distance. Then we did some potatoes and we got a strip about the same as the apple. The second apple was a little larger and I had a strip almost 10 feet long. The potatoes were about 6 to 8 feet long depending on the potato. Smaller potatoes gave us a shorter strip. We were so busy having fun learning to use this attachment that we don’t have any photos of the apple or potato strips.

We cut the strips into squares, and they were approximately 4 or 5 inches depending on the width of the strip. We baked the chips in the oven until crispy. Some of the apples we baked plain and some we sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Personally, I like the cinnamon sugar ones the best. I can’t eat too many of the apples due to the fiber and my ostomy. The potato chips were great. Some I sprinkled with a little salt, and some I sprinkled with different seasonings like garlic powder, tumeric, herbs de provence, etc. I learned that they have to be watched carefully so they don’t get too dark or burn since they are fairly thin. This sheet cutter attachment has a thin blade, thick blade, and the set I bought has the new noodle cutter blade. This blade cuts the fruit or vegetables into wide noodles instead of sheets, it is so cool. I watched the videos of the noodle cutter but have not tried that one yet.

¬†Debbie had to go home, but I decided to keep trying this attachment. I took pictures as I did the different steps. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods, so I tried the sheet cutter with sweet potatoes. That worked well also. However, because the sweet potato is a really hard food it was a bit of a challenge to get the remaining core off of the skewer. I had to use a knife and cut it off carefully, then I baked the pieces which were thicker than the chips. There is a part of the food left on the skewer, it’s about an inch. This is okay for fruit like apples because it’s the core. For potatoes and other foods the core is still good to eat so I cut it into pieces or slices depending on what I want to use it for. The key to getting the longest, most uniform sheets is to use foods that are the most evenly shaped. Until the food is even, there are small pieces that are cut. They are still usable, but are not always part of the sheet. As I was posting the sweet potato pictures, I saw that I have one pictures of my potato chips after they were baked. I don’t peel most foods that I cut because most skins or peels can be eaten, I do peel my sweet potatoes, not regular potatoes.

I am still baking and cooking lots of different foods and trying new recipes. I admit that I have too much stuff, but I like to cook and having the proper equipment and gadgets makes it easier and more fun, and frequently saves time. As I am making things I find some items that help make my life easier. For example, a few weeks ago I made one of my favorite desserts… chocolate, chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes from the Handle the Heat website. I have made this many times and I always make extra which I freeze so I can eat them whenever I want without having to make them. I make them in mini cupcake pans.

A few weeks ago I decided to make some and since I had a lot of chocolate bark left from the holidays I would use that in place of some chocolate chips in the cake batter. All seemed well as I made the batter and filled the cupcake pans which I lightly sprayed with oil. I baked the mini cupcakes and when I went to take them out of the muffin pans I found they didn’t come out as easily as they normally do. I wondered why and realized that most probably it’s because the chocolate bark does not have as much oil or other substance as the chocolate chips do. So I bought some silicone mini cupcake cups to try and I used them when I made banana muffins to take to Sue at the wildlife center since she loves my banana muffins and I thought that the peels could feed some animals.

If you want a great banana bread/muffin recipe search for Tyler Florence Banana Nut Muffins. This recipe is the best one I have found and it always gets great comments when I give it to people. In fact, I had a few in my backpack at an art show I went to this weekend and I gave two people each one to taste and they said it’s the best banana muffin they ever ate. It uses butter, brown sugar and bananas, also flour, and the regular other ingredients. You don’t have to make muffins, it works in any size pan. I don’t add nuts because so many people are allergic to them and when I take them places I never know if someone may be allergic so I leave them out. It seems whenever I want to make banana bread that the bananas at the store are too green or not ripe enough. When I am not making banana bread they seem to be almost perfect for it.

¬†Recently, for some reason, I see to be watching hacks on You Tube and I have seen many great tips or have gotten lots of great ideas for things. One of the tips I saw was to ripen bananas, so I tried it the other day. It’s easy, put the bananas on a baking sheet, bake at 300 degrees for 15 to 30 minutes until they soften and turn black. They can leak some liquid do you can put parchment paper under them. I had one of eight bananas leak liquid. After about 15 minutes they were half black, I turned them over and put back in the oven. It took 25 minutes until they were ready. I let them cool a few minutes and opened the peels and put them in a bowl. The banana were very mushy and easy to mash and whip. They tasted good but were not as sweet as if they ripened naturally. They worked fine in my recipe and since there was sugar in the recipe it was okay that they weren’t as sweet. They were still partly green when I baked them.

Using the silicone cups worked great, the muffins easily popped out of the cups. So I ordered some more of them in different sizes and shapes. It seems some of the shapes I ordered will fit into the round cups of regular size muffin pans. I like to make baked donuts sometimes and I have metal donut pans, however, I saw these cute different shape silicone donut cups so I bought them. I will post pictures in my next story when I receive and use them. It will give me a reason to make baked donuts again. Also, since all of these silicone cups are separate and not a large pan I can take some on my trip because they won’t take up much space and I can use them in my toaster oven to make different foods, not only baked goods. These silicone molds are easy to get foods out of and clean. Wow!!! New things for me to try. The wood roller in the picture below is to roll out dough. I have rolling pins but sometimes, especially when making pizza crusts, a rolling pin is too large to fit into parts of my pans so this smaller roller will work for that.

After much thought, I decided to order a mandoline. It will help me when I slice foods for my dehydrator or to make chips so slices will be uniform. I don’t see many mandolines at local stores so I looked online and I found one I like that has a variable adjustable slicer. Most mandolines have between one and three thickness blades. This can slice between 1 and 9 mm which is great. I can choose what thickness I want depending on what I am making. In case you are interested, it’s the Mueller Austria V-Pro Blade Mandoline Slicer. I like this one because the julienne blades are part of the slicer and there is a plastic guard covering them so I can’t easily cut myself and there are several cutting blades to make different shapes. I am not getting anything in exchange for this post. I like to share good things I find with my readers.

I love my Curtis Stone durapans and bakeware, nothing sticks so it cleans easily which I really appreciate when I have a sink and counter full of dishes and pans when I cook and bake. Especially on days when I make several things in a day. I should show you a picture on those days. I try to wash dishes and pans as I go so I don’t have a lot at the end. Most of the time that works, but sometimes it’s not possible. Some dishes like the magic cake uses several bowls and measuring cups, I try to use a measuring cup or bowl more than once if possible for a recipe.

Last year I bought the Curtis Stone Trio Pan. It seemed like a good pan for making different things at one time since it has three separate channels for food. The first time I made three different breads at one time, blueberry, banana, and cinnamon. The other day I made potato bread in it which made nice uniform long loaves. Brownies would also be good, there would be lots of crispy edges. This pan has inserts to lift out whatever is cooked. It would be great to make different foods at the same time. Like for meatloaf. My neighbors I cook for like onions and I don’t. Or they can eat foods I can’t like corn, carrots, etc. So, I can use this pan to make different versions of the same thing. Maybe peanut butter in a brownie, and the other two sections can have different additives. It’s hard to do that in a regular open space pan.

I still love to make my wheat thin crackers, and I usually make a triple batch at a time when I do so I have them to snack on for a week or two. I also made some chocolate pistachio biscotti. One of my friends gave me a brick of good quality cocoa powder. She asked if I would like some and I said yes. It’s been in my freezer and I decided to make chocolate biscotti and give her some. So I took the cocoa out of the freezer thinking it needed to defrost. After two days it was still hard. I thought perhaps it’s like a brick of coffee that feels firm and when the package is cut it’s loose. I cut open the package and it was still a hard brick. I realized I had to use a metal grater to grate this chocolate into a powder. It wasn’t easy, but I finally got a cup of it grated and I made a double batch of biscotti. I also make soft baked pretzels, the first time I made them into short rods, now I make them into 1 or 2 inch puffs.

It’s that time of the year again, the mourning doves are back and building their nests, and laying their eggs. There is one that comes every year and builds her next on top of the pillar near my front door. She and her mate came back a few weeks ago and they finally are happy with their nest. They built one and took it down and rebuilt it again. Now she is sitting in the nest and has not moved for about 8 days. I haven’t even seen the male for several days. I put a bowl of water and some bread pieces nearby but I don’t think they have eaten or drank anything. I feel bad that the mother bird is just sitting. I know it’s part of their life. I don’t understand how she can survive without food or water. It’s hard to get a good photo, there is quite a nice nest with lots of twigs. This is while the male and female were on the pillar before the nest was built. The female sits and has her tail usually up along the back wall. She does change position every once in a while.

As usual, this post is longer than I planned. This past weekend I went to a very large arts and crafts show with 600 vendors. One of the booths was a non-profit for fair housing and anti-discrimination. They had some fair housing and other literature and on the table were some pencils, activity books, and crayons. When I looked at the boxes of crayons I noticed they said Multicultural Crayons. I opened the box and saw they are all skin colors. The staff told me they contacted the crayon company and had them create these special boxes for them.

Whenever I go to arts and crafts shows I am always amazed and inspired. There are so many creative and talented people and they come up with things I would never have thought about, or have thought about and needing and now someone created it, or sometimes I ask who would ever buy that? but that’s not often. Someone there designed unique planters that are a pair of children’s jeans with the legs stuffed, wearing footwear, and the jeans could have decorations. The waist area was open and it held a flower pot with plant. If you want to see these creative planters you can go to thedudespantplanters dot com. I have a few orchids and I don’t do well with indoor plants in my apartment or I would have bought one. Also, when I leave on my trip in a few months I would have to give it to someone to watch. I guess instead of a plant, I could use it to hold a bowl of candy. There is nothing saying I have to use it as a planter. This is one of the most unusual and fun things to look at while I walked around the show. I saw a beautiful purple handmade fabric hat I almost bought, but I have several hats and don’t wear them that often so I resisted buying it.

Another great product I saw there is called Traveleyez. Check this out, it’s a set of two pouches connected by zippers that you can put on the strap of a pocketbook, backpack, suitcase, put on the handle of a bicycle or walker, I guess it could even go on a pair of crutches if you have them, and they can lay flat in a suitcase, etc. It can hold a phone in one pouch and eyeglasses in the other so they are both always handy. Or other items you use frequently and want handy can be put in them. No more searching in our pocketbooks, pockets, backpacks, etc. when looking for glasses or our phones. I like the idea of having a bright colored zipper so it’s easy to locate the case, they also come in black or brown leather for those who don’t like color. I love bright colors!!!

When I go shopping, especially to the grocery store I read the food labels and the print is usually too small to read. I don’t always want to open my pocketbook and find my glasses. So, if there is someone nearby I ask them to read an expiration date or something on a label, or I squint to see if I can read the info. I guess sometimes I am lazy by doing that. I find that I am not the only one needing glasses. If I use the Traveleyez cases my glasses would be handy and so would my phone that would be in the other pouch. I can see lots of uses for this product, even putting keys in one side if I go out for a walk and only want to take my phone. When I walk and take my backpack if my phone rings I have to take the backpack off, remember which pocket I put my phone in, and then unzip it and take the phone out. By then I have usually missed the call.

I don’t talk on the phone when I am driving, it’s not safe, so I let the phone ring and check it later. I did buy a phone holder that goes on the dashboard or clips onto the air conditioning vents to talk hands free but I don’t seem to use it. When I am driving I like to concentrate on that. There are too many crazy drivers and I need all of my attention to be focused on the road and other cars. If I am stopped at a red light and my phone rings, if it’s handy and I can get it in time I will answer, quickly say I am driving and will call you back and then I hang up. Or if it’s something important I need to handle at that moment I will say hold on a minute and I will find somewhere to park so I can talk. Texting and driving and talking and driving are not usually safe things to do. I can almost tell by how someone is driving if they are texting or talking while driving. They go slower, change lanes at the last minute, etc. I’m sure you can identify them too, and maybe are one of them. Usually nothing is so important it can’t wait a little while.

When I go walking I tend to not bring any identification with me which is not a good idea. I solved this issue by wearing the ID ON ME identification bracelet which I have written about several times. It comes with insignias for either a medical alert or just and identification. There are different styles so they can be worn on wrists, sneakers, necklaces, keyrings, etc. It’s a great idea for children to wear an identification bracelet with important information too, it’s not just for us adults. We never know when something unexpected will happen and this can save valuable time if help or medical treatment is needed. On my insert I wrote my doctors contact info, who to contact in case of emergency, my medical condition, medicines I take, allergies, my funeral home contact information, and a few other important pieces of information. I know you are probably thinking… funeral information. Hopefully that won’t be needed for a long time, but sadly, we all see the news where people unexpectedly die for various reasons.

In October 2013, I wrote an important story called Really, seriously, you would rather be an Ostrich? It’s about the importance of having your legal documents in order and letting your family and/or friends know you wishes if the unexpected happens. Most people don’t want to talk about this for some reason, but it is really important. One of my close friends husband died unexpectedly in the middle of the night from an asthma attack. They had read my article and discussed their wishes with each other. When he unexpectedly died she knew what he wanted done. I told my wishes to my trustees, a few friends, and the funeral home I chose, and it’s written in my trust and will.

I guess I have written more than enough for this story which when I started it was not going to be this long. Like I have written before in other posts, when I start writing I pray about what to write and ask for the story to be what it’s supposed to be. I have a general idea like for this one I started to write about the wildlife center, and I thought I would add a little about some of the foods I am cooking. Now at the end of this post you can see how it evolved.

If you get a chance check out Superstition Mountains cougar shadow. I wanted to write about it in this story but it’s long enough without it. I will write about it in my next post.

I am still doing pretty well physically, and I am still drinking the glass of celery and water that I mix in my Vitamix every morning, and when I remember and make the effort I put Tumeric, fresh cracked black pepper, and Matcha green tea powder into something I eat or drink. All of these things seem to be working to minimize or eliminate my pain and increase my energy. And I still go to the gym 5 days a week for either chair yoga and/or cardio activities.

 

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