The apartment is taken


Linda Conway Eriksson - Contributing Columnist



Just outside our back door is what’s known in our family as the apartment. It is built solidly on top of our back porch light. Every spring it is occupied by a different family (as far as we can tell). The families are rather diverse in some ways, alike in other ways — they all have feathers. Some are small sparrows, I think, or wrens.

This year, we have doves. It’s a smallish apartment for a family of doves, and I expect they’ll move along to more spacious accommodations when the fledglings are able to forage for themselves. For now, however, there’s always somebody on top of the nest.

One evening several days ago, both parents were crammed into the top, covering either eggs or baby birds. Usually we know when there are babies because of the increased traffic pattern on and around the nest. In past years, we have been able to look out the kitchen window and see scrawny little heads and wide open beaks as they waited impatiently for their hard-working parents to come back and feed them.

After they finally hatch, they seem to take on a more mature appearance and get a little bigger every day. To watch the parents is to learn a lesson in patience and devotion.

We’ve gotten used to each other. Now I can go out the back door early in the morning while it’s still dark, talk softly to mama bird, and retrieve the newspaper without being scolded or dive bombed. Maybe she thinks if she stays very still I won’t see her or maybe she’s thinking more about staying safe from our neighborhood hawk.

At any rate, birds in the apartment are just another welcome sign of spring. I know this is the year we should get rid of the nest as soon as it’s not occupied. It’s years old and has to be nasty. But the birds don’t seem to mind, and I enjoy the birds, so we’ll just see. I suppose if we take it down, next year’s tenants will build to suit themselves.

As the days get longer and warmer I continue to enjoy the vegetables I find in abundance in every grocery store in town. Now that brussels sprouts are available throughout the year, we eat them fairly often. They seem almost like a spring crop right now. There’s a lot you can do with them. They don’t take very long to cook on the stovetop with just a few add-ins to enhance their flavor. They can be served with just about any kind of meat and can really make the meal.

PAN SEARED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1 dozen large, fresh Brussels sprouts, halved

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup chopped sweet onion

4 strips bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled

1/2 cup English walnut pieces

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar reduction

Heat a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and allow it to get hot. Add Brussels sprouts and onions and sear over medium heat, covered, for about 5 minutes.

Add balsamic vinegar reduction, walnuts and bacon, stir and cover. Turn heat to low and allow to cook for about 5 more minutes.

The Brussels sprouts will soak up the flavor of the reduction and bacon; the walnuts add crunch.

Serves four.

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Linda Conway Eriksson

Contributing Columnist

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at lindaconwayeriksson@gmail.com.

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at lindaconwayeriksson@gmail.com.