I am sitting at the dining table right now watching two adorable little yellow breasted finches bathe in our fountain. We had a pretty cold winter, our harshest weather coming in December and January, and the fountain froze several times causing us to have to turn it off for weeks at a time until the temperature rose enough for it to flow freely again. It has only been in the last week or so that it has been visited by birds again – first it was a dark headed hummingbird and now the finches. As the weather warms and standing water becomes more scarce I know the mockingbirds and blackbirds will show up (and try to take over). We always have pigeons in the yard but they are too large and clumsy to do anything but pick through the grass and rock for whatever they can find. I’ve never seen a baby pigeon but last spring there was one very small young pigeon that sat all day on the lip of the base of the fountain, moving around during the day to stay in the shade, only leaving when I let the dogs outside. I expect to see mourning doves at the fountain soon, and last year for the first time ever we had a robin. Thing 1 and Thing 2 had never seen one before though they had heard about them. They weren’t terribly impressed, I think they expected it to be more colorful. That’s really not as strange as it sounds, robins are not common in southern Nevada though roadrunners are and I’ve only seen two of those in the 22 years I’ve lived here, and I’ve never seen a bighorn sheep. I did see a gila monster once and that is supposed to be very rare these days. Though it wasn’t at my fountain or even in my backyard.
I’ve been considering putting our parrot outside on the patio this year when the weather gets warm. He’s a scaly headed pionus named Max, with a very loud voice and I’m thinking that a change in scenery might be good for him. With all the birds the fountain attracts he should also be well entertained. Of course he will have to stay in a cage, but the upside to this is that he won’t be in any danger of being caught or even chased by our dogs.
The recipe I’m going to share is one I typically make at Christmas; but I have nuts left over from the holidays that must be used before they go rancid, a container of chocolate covered cranberries from Trader Joe’s, and at the moment no cookies in the house. This is basically a variation on shortbread so they will not be soft and puffy but stay dense and firm. It’s been one of the girl’s favorites since they were little.
White Chocolate, Macadamia, and Chocolate Covered Cranberry Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup each powdered sugar and granulated sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate covered (or regular dried) cranberries
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
6 ounces white chocolate – either coarsely chop baking bars or 1/2 package chips
Preheat over to 350 degrees
Cream butter with sugars in large mixing bowl. Add egg, vanilla, and milk; beat until smooth. Mix flour with salt then add, mixing just until incorporated. Add cranberries, nuts, and white chocolate, stirring in by hand. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2″ apart on parchment/silpat lined baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes (cookies should not brown).
Because I send baked goods to lots of people at Christmas I look for cookies that are sturdy. If I make them for shipping I use a scoop to shape, but I prefer the homey way they look just scraped off a spoon if I’m going to serve them to my family and friends.