Coyotes and assasin bugs....

Dateline: Sun 03 Sep 2006

The coyotes were out last night on the old limestone quarry, thick as fleas to hear them carry on. They were running the woods behind the house we built 3 years ago. They make a yip-yip-yipping dog-like sound that either chills you or thrills you. They must have had a good old time because it was a cool night with the moon a slice of pale yellow in its first quarter.

Earlier in the day, Gabriel, 5 years old, and I found ourselves a humongous bug on the back-porch screen. He was big and impressive enough -- a couple inches long with 6 legs and a striped ridge of a back -- that each of the men had to come and give him a cursory once-over. Never content with just seeing, they had to know. Guy, 62, looked in field books to no avail. Then Andrew, 31, captured him in a jar as Zera, 29 sketched him.

My two big boys -- that's Andrew and Zera -- spent the next 30 minutes trolling the Internet until they had him: assassin bug. Dead ringer. And a beastly fellow he is, too.

So much for my romantic notions about insects and how generally harmless they are. This assassin bug feasts on the "blood of vertebrae" and is known to carry disease. His bite decidedly hurts. Andrew tossed him out into the weeds. Both boys talked about the nasty, brutish world of bugs.

This morning, so far, so good. The not-so-feral cats and others God has bestowed on us -- Cecil, Earl, Pseudo Cecil, Salome and Coonyer -- are all accounted for in the yard. Nobody got 'et up in the night by either coyotes or assassin bugs. (Altho just now, Guy and Zera rescued a big fat mole from the jaws of Cecil. Life and death, a daily drama).

On a happier and more productive note, I made corn fritters with chili sauce for members of the family who made it out to Putnam yesterday (Andrew, Joy, Gabe and the Fat One Ezra, 2 months old; Zera and Parn; Guy and I).

Actually I found the recipe and Guy made the sauce and Joy cooked up the fritters. We all agreed the recipe was so good it deserves sharing. The source is The Week magazine, which sounds religious but is really a collection of news from all around the globe for a week. I like it because it features "the best of" columns, etc., as well as global and national news, real estate, gossip, recipes and as a bonus at the end, an essay that is usually a dessert for the head.

Here is "The Week's" corn fritters with chili sauce (adapted from bill's food by Bill Granger (Morrow Cookbooks):

Sweet Chili Sauce

1 red jalapeno, finely chopped

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1 tsp. salt

1/3 c. sugar

1 small clove garlic, minced

In a small saucepan, combine the jalapeno, vinegar, salt, sugar and garlic. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about two minutes.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to a slightly syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and set aside to cool while making the fritters. (The sauce continues to thicken until it cools; it can be made a day ahead).


1/2 cup rice flour (I could not find it in Gr'castle so I used cake flower -- the point is, the recipe calls for fine flour)

1/2 cup regular flour

1/4 tsp. baking power

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 c. water

2 cups corn kernels cut from 3 large cobs

\\ 4 spring onions, finely sliced

3 T. cilantro


In a bowl, stir together rice flour, flour, baking powder, salt, coriander, and cumin. Add the egg, lemon juice and water. Beat until smooth. Add the corn, spring onions and cilantro, stirring until just combined.

In a large frying pan, pour in enough oil to generously cover the bottom. When the oil is hot but not smoking, spoon 2 Tbls. of batter for each fritter into the pan, about 1/2 inch apart, immediately flattening each fritter slightly.

Cook over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown underneath, then turn and cook the other side for about 2 minutes. Use a splatter screen to cover the pan. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil if necessary.

Serve immediately with chili sauce. Serves 12

We doubled the recipe.

Earlier we had Gaye's Chicken Salad, from the Star's Taste section -- just a simple recipe with fresh fruit. Joy asked that we keep the mayonnaise and bleu cheese on the side so everyone could get his/her own consistency or fat level.

In the evening, we had Ugly but Good --- a very easy recipe. You cook a couple pounds good chuck until it is almost browned in 2 T olive oil. Add green pepper, celery, onion and chopped garlic. Then add a T or so of Worstershire sauce, oregano, chili powder and cayenne, to taste -- a dash or two. Finally put in a 28-oz can of tomatoes, diced or chopped. Cover and let simmer for an hour or so. Twenty minutes before serving, add a cup of rice.

Voila! Ugly but good.

All dishes guaranteed to keep the critters at bay, especially when you serve corn fritters with chili sauce as a first course. And we do like it hot.

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