The New Basil

This time of year I’m on the lookout for anything that will brighten the flavors of winter. I used to rely on basil for that, snipping it into pasta, soups and salads. Basil used to be rare and summery, but now it’s found all year round in those slim plastic packets.  Even the most modest supermarket usually has a packet or two of fresh basil.

Source: via Dina on Pinterest


Still, about a year ago I began finding basil rather harsh and even bitter. It didn’t inspire me anymore.  What can I say….I had grown tired of it.  So I looked around for a substitute and one day, on a whim, I brought home a package of fresh mint and snipped that into a green salad.

Wow! Pow! What a great flavor. It was sort of basil-like, but not. It gave an air of mystery to baby greens, turned out to be an herb that loves to mask its mintiness and take on some of the neighboring flavors of what’s around it.  In other words, it was a friendly and sociable leaf, willing to go along to get along.

Source: via Dina on Pinterest


I can use mint in salads of all sorts, and also in fruit-based desserts. Of course it’s a must in anything Asian, whether a stir-fry, a soup or anything in between.  And it’s’ brilliant in pastas, too. It adds a bright je ne sais quoi to everything it’s in, without being as declarative as cilantro (which just does not go well with strawberries, at least not in my kitchen) nor as old-school as those basil leaves.

Source: via Dina on Pinterest


Who knew mint could be so versatile?? I find the smell of mint energizing; every time I take some leaves out I hold them to my nose, inhale and feel the happier for it. Not only that, even though mint and basil are herbaceous cousins, mint lasts much longer than basil and you don’t wind up with dissolving black leaves in your fridge. So next time you’re at the store, buy some mint. And don’t relegate it only to dessert. Snip it on potatoes or peas, toss fine shreds in your next salad, sprinkle a little on shrimp, add it to a chicken breast. As far as I’m concerned, mint is the new basil!

Source: via Dina on Pinterest

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Gone Fishing-Part 3

Bernard and I discussed strategy. I took the job of header, with Bernard, net in hand, as heeler. Taking our places on either side of the little pool, Bernard stood with the net poised while I entered the water to wrangle that trout toward him. Faster than a Ferrari, the trout dodged around my toes and was gone. I whirled around. “Where is he?” I yelled. “Do you see him?” (more…)

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Gone Fishing-Part 2

Thanks in large measure to the beavers, the Michigan River is a gold medal stream, flush with wily browns and cutbows.   Fishermen licked their lips and eyed us with envy when we mentioned we had six miles of the river meandering through our property.  “You do?” they asked, drawing that second word out for as long as it took to think up a plausible reason why we should let them fish our private waters. (more…)

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Gone Fishing-Part 1

I’m in love with water. Particularly water that babbles over beaver dams in the summer, ripples with the startled flight of a mallard in the fall, clinks with breaking ice in the winter and rages in muddy madness in the spring runoff. This is my Michigan River, shrouded with dense stands of yellow, red and ochre willows, looping through flooded expanses of marsh with more curves than a Chinese acrobat. (more…)

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Winter fun indoors with horses

Here’s something fun to do with your horse: free jumping! It’s inspiring and a great thing to do as a change of pace when winter forces you into the indoor arena all the time.

Basically, what you do is simple. Set up an alleyway leading up to a one-stride jump. Make the “in” jump just a small cross rail. The “out” jump is the one your horse will really be jumping over and that’s the one you …raise and, eventually turn into an oxer. Start small with that one, too, though, as this exercise should be nothing but fun for your horse.

The idea is to allow him to learn on his own how to use himself over a jump, without the weight and intentions of a rider interfering. And yes, just by our presence, we change a horse’s way of going. You never want to overface him, scare him, or take him by surprise with this. Here’s an excellent article for all the how-to’s of free jumping

If your horse takes to this, as mine does, he’ll canter around the arena and actively seek out the entrance alley like it’s the biggest treat in the world. Here’s a picture of my horse, Magic, in full winter coat, having no trouble at all over a pretty big jump…for a horse who’s not a jumper!

Magic jumping a 3-foot oxer!

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