Pumpkin Season!

September 22, 2014 § 4 Comments

Fall is here… which means some of Lola’s very favorite produce is also in season:  cranberries, pomegranates, and squash galore!  I dropped by our wonderful local farmer’s market today to see what I could pick up.  I grabbed a whole bunch of fresh, delicious fruits and veggies, but was also introduced to something new: a cheese pumpkin!  One of the farmers described it as a little creamier than normal pumpkins, and recommended I try it since I really like butternut squash.  (I didn’t mention it was for my parrot!)  I picked up a miniature one to try.

a mini cheese pumpkin

He’s a cute little guy, isn’t he?  I decided I’d roast him up and serve him to Lola for dinner.  One of my favorite ways to serve mini pumpkins to her is as a bowl, stuffed with her nightly mash.  (One of the many wonderful contributors to the forum Avian Avenue, Saroj, shared this awesome idea!)  Lola absolutely loves it.  I like to roast them, then scoop out some of the insides, and replace them with her dinner.  Of course, I save the insides too and especially the seeds, as she loves eating those as well.

roasted, stuffed, and ready to serve

Tonight’s dinner was the Avian Organics Quick Serve, one of Lola’s very combinations.  I added some fresh pomegranate seeds to the finished product, then put it all inside her little cheese pumpkin and into her bowl.

Do you think she liked it?  I absolutely love watching her go after her dinner with gusto!  She actually ate and destroyed a huge amount of the pumpkin, more so than usual.  Of course there is some waste involved as she’d probably burst if she consumed the entire pumpkin, but I think the foraging, enrichment, and nutritional value are worth it.  Pumpkins are extremely high in Vitamin A, and contain others like Vitamin E and B.  Plus, if you scoop out a good amount of pumpkin to save for future meals, you can minimize waste.  It’s such a fun and creative way to serve meals, and even my picky eater goes after this healthy treat quite zealously!

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Some Random New Things in the New Year

January 16, 2014 § 2 Comments

2014 has only just begun and it already feels like a whirlwind!  Goodness, sometimes life can really get in the way.  🙂  Anyway, just a few random updates here with no particular threading holding everything together.

fantastic foraging foot toys!

not the greatest photo, but lola working on her almond

First up, Lola has brand new all-time favorite foot toys!  The wonderful Kris Porter of Parrot Enrichment designed some amazing and enticing foot toys, exclusive to Things for Wings.  They are awesome!  They are perfect for a smaller in shell almond (I usually buy Lola these chunky big kahuna ones because they are much more challenging, but these holes are only 3/4″ I believe, so only smaller ones will fit).  I lodged a few inside the foraging holes and let her work away.  They drive her nuts because she can’t get the almond out without actually breaking into the wood.  It’s one of the few foraging toys that combines both visibility of the treat but also more of a challenge.  I have trouble with increasing the difficulty rate of a lot of Lola’s foraging because for her, once it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.  But these give her visual confirmation of a reward, and also make her work much harder for it than a lot of my more simple foraging toys.

lola’s sunflower basket

On the topic of Things for Wings, we’ve gotten two awesome packages from them in the past month or two, but keep forgetting to take photos.  I did snap one of her gorgeous Sunflower Basket, which is both a toy and a forager and a perching area all in one!  I’m wondering if it will fit in her cage.  I’m planning on rearranging the whole cage soon, though, and will definitely be adding a lot of our new perches (like the Fantastic Foraging Perch or the chunky willow bark foraging perch!) so I will have photos soon.  Sabrina also got some cute little toys.

nautical goodies from oliver’s garden

What’s that?  More toys?  Well, I couldn’t resist placing an order with Oliver’s Garden before they shut down for new year renovations.  This one was just a small one but we got some awesome goodies– Lola’s beloved crabby toy, an awesome new lobster toy that has stainless steel hardware to be side-mounted, as well as an awesome hitching post perch for Sabrina and a tiny maple candy toy too.  To fit in with Sabrina’s all natural oasis, I switched out the colorful beads below the perches with some natural ones, but it still looks gorgeous.  I’m thinking of using it as a foraging platform for her and putting some natural materials in it and maybe some sprinkles of seed or crumplets for her to pick at.  I love that she will be able to perch on the small, natural wood perches on the side.

veggies and more!

In other news, here’s a photo of a big batch of mixed veggies I made the other day.  It had a mix of fresh and dry ingredients: sweet pea shoots, broccoli, kale, bok choy, watercress, coconut, pomegranate, red peppers, carrots, mulberries, mango, goji berries, figs, laver (seaweed), corn, peas, sesame seed, dandelion, and alfalfa.  I think that’s everything.  For some reason it was still very wet and my attempt to freeze it didn’t pan out well but I’ll keep trying.

Sabrina and Her Leafy Greens

December 5, 2013 § 2 Comments

Usually Sabrina is very timid when it comes to anything that is bigger than she is, or anything new coming into her cage, or pretty much anything at all, but one thing she loves with a passion is a nice big leafy green. She won’t even run from my hands coming into the cage if she sees a fresh bunch of carrot tops in them!! Since I know I don’t do it for her, I love seeing her happy. Here are a few photos of her with some of her favorite leaves 🙂

trying some carrot tops on her big swing

and some more on her cork perch

can’t forget about the chard!

are we done here?? please exit the premises.

I also tried ordering some eucalyptus leaves for the first time from a new vendor for me, EucProducts. They were running a pretty great Cyber Monday deal, so I took the plunge. I am really quite pleased with the beautiful and fresh leaves that arrived (and quite quickly, considering that they were coming from across the country). Their smell is out of this world! I washed them very thoroughly and carefully and let them soak for a bit before offering them up. Lola seems to really enjoy stripping and tearing up the stems / branches in particular, and they release even more of a lovely scent as she does.

lovely, fragrant, and fresh eucalyptus leaves

Although I was nervous as I had read a few mixed reviews online, I was very happy with what arrived in my box. If they can maintain this type of quality I will be a frequent customer! 🙂

A Colorful Batch of Fresh Veggies

November 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

My latest batch of fresh veggies looked particularly colorful and lovely.  I normally steer clear of things like beets because I personally find them vile, but they are quite healthy and they do add a rich color, so when I saw some gorgeous ones on sale at the farmer’s market, I decided to add them.  I also added another ingredient that normally I’d never buy for myself: radishes.  I think they’re gross but I do think texturally they add a nice variety to the chop.

Otherwise everything was pretty much as usual: kale, broccoli leaves, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, acorn squash, delicata squash (my new favorite squash!), pumpkin, butternut squash, assorted colorful peppers (sweet and spicy), and pomegranates.  At least I think that’s everything looking at the photo.

And that’s the finished product.  Looks nice, doesn’t it?  I think the beets and the turnips really do add some depth, purely visually speaking.  Normally it doesn’t look quite as lovely as this!  I like to chop everything extra finely so that Lola can’t pick out the bits of things that she likes and only eat those.  My arms were aching by the end of this but I think it’s worth it.

That photo of the mix didn’t include the squash, but that’s because I’m still having trouble figuring out how to both cook it and chop it very finely without it simply turning into mush.  So as you can see I have it cubed, but it’s still pretty large.  So I guess Lola can pick those out… thwarting my best attempts.  Anyway, I mix all of this good stuff up with their fresh sprouts and some supplemental foods, and that’s their morning meal.

As some of you might know I don’t freeze any of my veggie mixes because Lola refuses to eat it and because the texture gets disgusting, but I recently read this awesome blog post by Laura Ford and it gives me hope.  I actually feed a lot of different dryer supplemental foods as is, so adding them into the mix is an interesting idea.  I might try to make a big master batch of veggies along with all of the dry stuff and see how it freezes and more importantly what the girls think about it!

My Attempt at a Grain Bake

November 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Patricia Sund’s blog post on her grain bake has been spreading like wildfire.  I decided to give it a try and see if it was something that my girls would like, too. Normally, their dinnertime meal is a cooked mash that I make fresh every night. My little princesses have never taken well to eating anything that has been previously frozen and reheated, with the one exception of bird bread. But I figured I’d give it a shot, at least a miniature one in case it wasn’t a hit. I made mine in a small (about five inch) pie plate, rather than one of the larger baking dishes, just to test it out.

the organic grain and legume base

I used a base of several organic and GMO-free grains and legumes.  I think all in all there was tricolor sprouted quinoa, three kinds of sprouted lentils, wheat berries, brown rice, rye berries, spelt, pearled barley, bulgur, and buckwheat groats.

topped off with fresh, organic butternut squash, carrots, cranberries, and pomegranate

Next, I threw in a variety of fresh, organic, and seasonal fruits and vegetables, including several of Lola’s favorites: butternut squash, carrots, cranberries, and pomegranate arils.  I filled it up with water and into the oven it went at 350 degrees.

the finished product, right out of the oven

It cooked more quickly than I’d expected, but then again it was a very small portion.  I just let it bake until all of the water had been soaked up by the grains and legumes, which probably took no more than 30 or 35 minutes.  I’m not sure why, but I thought that when it came out of the oven, it would be solid in texture like a bird bread or like a baked cracker, but instead everything keeps its own independent consistency.  (It makes sense; there is no agent to stick any of it together.  Not sure why I was expecting any different.)  It is actually somewhat similar to their normal mash, but the grains are harder and less mushy than I typically got on the stovetop.

The bad news is, my girls haven’t taken to it.  I knew Sabrina wouldn’t go for any of the veggies but she snubbed the grains too.  I think they are a bit al dente for her tastes.  Lola, too, wasn’t impressed, which surprised me, because she is generally a pretty good eater.  She completely ignored all the veggies and fruits with the exception of the squash.  That one threw me for a loop because she loves them all fresh.  And she isn’t a huge fan of the grains, but she does love the baked lentils.  Not sure why she is being so picky about the rest.

The good news is, I made very little, so there isn’t too much waste, and I’m letting Lola pick the lentils out of it since she does like those.  All in all, it’s a great recipe and it’s very easy to make, but my guys wouldn’t eat it.  I might try again with more water to see if maybe a mushier consistency is more palatable to them, but until then, I guess I’m cooking them a fresh mash every night!

Lola Eating Stuff

October 26, 2013 § 3 Comments

Well I’m utterly pleased with the wonderful dialogue that proceeded from my last post!  I love hearing from people in agreement and disagreement alike; those of you who disagree with me are in some sense maybe even more helpful in that you force me to think harder about my beliefs and why I believe in them, so thank you to all of you who have commented and engaged in this discussion.

On a slightly more lighthearted note, here are some photos of Lola eating various things 🙂

Sweet red pepper!! Scrumptious!!

Yummmm it’s all mine!!

an apple a day keeps the vet away, right??

munch munch munch

Hey, this isn’t food!! Oh well, basswood is fun too!!

stuffed pumpkin dinner

I also went to the farmer’s market this week and picked up a bunch of mini pumpkins and squashes for Lola. These things are so cute and look adorably festive on the countertop, but are also such a breeze to cook and make a great and creative dinner!! I put them in the oven for a little bit until they are soft and edible, slice off the top (or for acorn squash, slice them in half), take out some of the insides, and stuff them full of her usual mash. Lola absolutely loved this dinner! She went to town with eating in part and destroying the pumpkin. I think Sabrina would have a near heart attack if I put a pumpkin in her bowl (also not sure I could find small enough pumpkins for her), so instead I mixed a little bit of the pumpkin into her mash and served it in her normal bowl. She also seemed to approve 🙂

Charles and Sabrina Being Civil!

January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

My picky little two loved the bread!!!  Charles completely pigged out on it, and Sabrina obliged and munched on it as well.  I think this not-quite-recipe is going to be a keeper.  Next time, I might add some more “wet” ingredients to make it a little less dry, but overall I think it was a pretty good combination.  The bread must have put them in a good mood, because they were actually willing to tolerate each other today, and even go so far as to share a boing!

I won’t go so far as to say they were happy together, but they definitely weren’t angry.  I’m pretty excited, as I recently decided to go ahead and get a new divider with stainless steel bars instead of their current acrylic one.  I won’t install it right away– we’ll probably do trial runs on the weekends to see if they can handle actually being able to get at each other between the bars– but I’m hoping that we can slowly work on rekindling their relationship (or at least getting them to tolerate each other’s presence for more than an hour or two).  The new divider should be here in a week or two.

In other news, I’ve graduated from chopping vegetables daily for my fresh food mixes to chopping vegetables about twice weekly instead, and keeping the extras in the fridge, which seems to be working well.  Today’s vegetable mix contained seven different kinds of leafy greens (regular kale, lacinato kale, watercress, broccolini, parsley, collard greens, and bok choy), fresh ginger, yellow squash, cauliflower, green, red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers, carrots, and possibly some other veggies I’m forgetting.  It was my first time adding fresh ginger to the mix and it smelled divine!!  The mix looks really beautiful and colorful.  I hope Lola likes it.  I’ll be serving it up tomorrow, along with my first attempt at my thawed fruit mix, and of course freshly sprouted seeds and grains.  I hope it doesn’t all become too mushy because of the fruit.  We’ll see how it turns out.

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