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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chino-Latino Cuisino - Two Meals in One!

Now that the warmer months are here - I'll be outside grilling my meals as much as I can. As it gets hotter, I like to find as many ways to utilize the grill can - provided I have enough gas in the tank! One way I found to maximize my grill space is to use cast iron cookware. I can cook beans, tofu, fish and smaller pieces of vegetables without having to make an offering to the grill gods or losing my food because it's fallen between the grates. Trying to cook fish on a grill is a cooking lesson in futility. Even with a fish grill basket or fish grill spatula, it's still nearly impossible to cook a piece of fish salmon or tilapia without both dousing it in a ton of oil and shredding it to bits. This is where cedar planks and cast iron comes in handy. I can still get a smokey outdoor taste and have pretty food to serve.
Outdoor cookery class 101 - I made a bunch of things that will blend together for several meals, utilizing Asian and Mexican Flavors. Asian and Mexican, that's crazy! How is it possible? It's easy - cook things as simply as you can using salt, pepper and garlic and seasoning what will be one meal with Soy, Ginger, Orange, etc., and the other meal with Cumin, Chilies and Lime. Actually, as I think more about it, Asian and Mexican, Latin or Southwest cuisine can have a number of similar flavors. Tomatoes, garlic, cumin, lime, chilies, cilantro. It all depends on how you combine the flavors.

I made turkey burgers on the grill and seasoned them with lime zest and lime juice, as well as Mexican Taco Seasoning. I confess, I do make my own blend of Mexican seasoning - as I don't like the salt, sugar and MSG that you get in the supermarket version. A simple Mexican all-purpose seasoning can be mixed together using: Ground Cumin, Ground Ancho or Chipotle Chili Powder, Oregano, Smoked or Sweet Paprika, Onion and Garlic Powders, Ground Black Pepper, Thyme, Dried Cilantro and Dried Lime Zest. Season your food with salt separately.
So that I could make several meals at once, I cooked a lot of vegetables on the grill - but kept them all separate. Each vegetable was seasoned only with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. I made the onions and mushrooms separate since Liz doesn't like them, but I'll eat them with my Mexican Turkey Burger as well as with my Tofu Scramble. I also cooked squash and zucini, and red and green bell peppers.

I marinated tofu in a soy orange five-spice marinade, and then cooked it in the marinade in a skillet on the grill. It absorbed the liquid, firmed up. I did not have to turn on the oven and bake it for an hour or mess with frying or wok searing it - adding oil and possibly having it fall to pieces the more I touched it.

I made what I'm calling Mexican Cowboy Baked Beans - black beans with my Mexican Taco Spice, fresh minced garlic, tomato sauce, a few tablespoons of ketchup and some worchestchire sauce. I cooked them on the grill in a small pot and let the sauce reduce and thicken. They were tangy, smokey and a bit sweet, but not as sweet as regular baked beans.
To tie both of my meals together - I made a pot of multi-grain rice. A healthier and heartier choice than using white or brown rice, though either kind of rice would be fine if that's all you have on hand. We had our turkey burgers with the rice and Mexican Cowboy Baked Beans, along with the grilled vegetables. Topped off our burgers with some homemade guacamole.
For my lunch on Monday, I'll have the multi grain rice with the tofu, the grilled vegetables and a few handfuls of fresh spinach. When I reheat my lunch, the spinach will steam and cook, and the whole thing will come together, flavored by the sauce the in which tofu cooked.

This was a fast way to cook a lot of food, and to have more options. I hate having left-overs beyond two days. By preparing more vegetables without a lot of extraneous seasonings, you can use them in a variety of meals - Italian with pasta and tomatoes; Asian with a soy sauce dressing; Latin with salsa and guacamole. Learn to taste your food without having a lot of extraneous and sodium packed sauces. I am rediscovering that the way you cook your food can actually enhance it's taste. So many times we forget how a roasted pepper should taste because it's dunked in a brine and then slathered with olive oil. As my mother always says, "LESS IS MORE!"

Back Home

I'm Back! Did you miss me? I have had a whirlwind week and a half since my last abysmal post. To answer any lingering questions - I have forgiven myself for my brash and outspoken stupidity, and it seems I was pardoned by the parties I didn't mean to judge and insult - but did because I didn't think before I spoke. The old ego is a bit bruised from verbally flogging myself and while blackbird pie might be delicious in an old nursery tale but it doesn't taste good when you have to eat crow for an apology. 'Nuff said on that topic.

I went to Arizona for a few days to visit with my best friend, Rachel. While I was there I also caught up with some other old and good friends, Michael, Scott and Chip, and Kathy. It was good to reconnect with old Philadelphia friends who have relocated to Tucson and Phoenix. This was a short visit packed to the brim with visits, sight seeing and touristy things, and lots of great dining. I went on a real Southwest Mexican food kick - you can't help but have excellente Mexicanno food when in the Southwest. We ran the gamut on low-country Southwest style Mexican, dined at a few local landmark old timey Mexican Restaurant chains, to a high-end haute cuisine hotel restaurant that served up the prettiest meal I've eaten outside of my own kitchen!
I am hoping that I didn't put on too many pounds from all dining out. I tried to be very health conscious and make smart choices but it does get hard when there are so many delicious salsas and chips presented, scrumptious refried beans and fideo, fish tacos and Oaxaca style creamy rice dishes. A girl could pack on the pounds fast. Thank goodness I'm back home, safe and sound and ready to return to my Weight Watchers meeting on Monday!
Yes - there were other things that I did on this trip besides eat myself silly.

We went to Phoenix and saw the Diamondbacks beat the pants off the San Diego Padres.

We had a fantastic visit with my friend Scott and his partner Chip and their three dogs,



and Bosely.

On Sunday we drove up to Sedona, taking in the sights, such as the Havillina statues placed throughout the town of Sedona.
We did a little hiking along the red rocks and dried out river bed along the Bell's Rock loop.
Monday was devoted to some shopping and walking though the gorgeous Tucson Botanical Gardens.

The flowers were still in bloom in the gardens as well as in the dessert. The timing was nearly perfect to see the desert before all the color is drained from it and everything turns brown.
We also went through the Tucson Barrio district, a colorful area that is home to many WPA Era Adobes, Casitas and adorable cottage style homes. Some of the homes are in disrepair, while others have been gentrified or left in their wabi sabi style - paint fading but still interesting to see.

Before I knew it, it was time to repack all of my stuff and head for a long day's travel home. I was lucky enough to get an upgrade option to first class - so naturally I took it. So that's what I've been missing all these years! Service, good food, free wine, attendees who are pleasant. Hot towels and warm cookies (I only had a bite!) Yeah Baby! Wish I could get first class accommodations all the time on the cheap.

Trying to eat sensibly while away and exercise proved to be a bit of a challenge. With all that we did in such a short period of time, I still thought I'd be walking, hiking and possibly biking to work off some of the good eats in which I indulged. The best work out I had was going to Rachel's gym on Monday and doing a Brick workout - a run/bike/run set, which was actually an elliptical machine, run, elliptical workout instead. Seems like every time I was ready to get on the one bike the gym had, someone else was already riding it. I did get in a hard workout though, completing a training set and running almost 2 miles. Once home, I got in a few more workouts through the rest of this past week. I rode about 16 miles and went to the gym to do a weight training session on Wednesday; Friday I rode 33 miles; I went out to Paoli and took my bike on the train and then rode back to the city. I can feel the difference in my workouts and endurance levels. Hills that a few months ago stopped me dead and left me breathless and walking my bike up them are now not a problem. The ride home from Paoli is fairly easy - it's a lot of downhill riding with not as many inclines to navigate. Still, my stamina is better, my navigation was sure, and without the cold wind ripping into my lungs, I had a lot of energy left after I made it home. Today, Sunday, I swam some laps at the gym. The swimming part of my training is actually proving to be my biggest challenge - I haven't fit it into my routine yet. Now that I'm back from vacation and so may visits with friends here there and everywhere, I'm hoping to get more of a training routine rhythm going. I should be able to get to the gym a lot this week to get in all of my training; running, weights, swimming, as well as getting ready for the big 5 Borough Ride this coming weekend. Whew! So much for endurance! I have a few posts I'm working on for great recipes. Dining out gave me a number of new dishes that I'm eager to try - fresher salsas, fish tacos with interesting ingredients, great new vegetarian sandwiches and cookies. Stay tuned for a whole new season of Mexican-inspired cuisine!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In the trash heap with a sleeping princess

I did something so incredibly stupid and thoughtless that I deserve to be flogged. Well, maybe not flogged but definitely deserve to receive a Harry Potter howler letter that gives me a giant slap and a big wet raspberry in the face. Not to rehash the embarrassing and stupid thing I did, to cause further pain and embarrassment to all parties involved - I will write that I wrote a thoughtless and stupid comment in an email to many people - one of whom was the person I made a thoughtless comment about. It was me being callous and rude and not all nice and I'm truly sick to my stomach at the idea that I brought any pain or discomfort to a person who I don't even know. How do you apologise? If I were a politician or celebrity, I could release a press statement that talks about the deep introspection I am doing. I could go into rehab or counseling and search deep into my soul to find the source that cause this verbal misdeed. I could apologize to no one and everyone at the same time, becoming self-effacing and contrite without meaning any of the words. I don't want to be that person. As it is, I feel so ashamed of myself for dissing someone who has made amazing life strides, negating what this person accomplished all because I am having a problem with my own self. I feel like the world's biggest ass right now, because really, I behaved like an idiot. Lessons to be learned: I have to think more about what I write, when I send it and who is going to read it. I need to look inward and stop projecting onto others what is really my problem. Why do I have such a big mouth and such a small brain sometimes?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Word Play and Working Out

The photo doesn't really have much to do with what I intended to write - I just thought it was funny. One of the managers at Williams-Sonoma was playing around with letters that we use for shelf displays. He wanted to make as many words as he could using all the letters on hand. It appealed to my photo essay collection of of random findings, art, quirky signs, etc. It also reminded me of the word play games that I've had going on with bunch of my friends online. We have been playing Scrabulous and Scramble on our Facebook pages. It's a lot of fun and the games have been going continuously for months. I'm particularly into word games lately, so seeing Christopher's word playing has more meaning to me these days.

I've begun my training for the triathlon this week. I met with Anthony, the trainer, for my fitness program on Saturday. He gave me my booklet with all of the workouts he thinks I ought to be covering over the course of each week. We went through the weight training, resistance and endurance circuit. He showed me all of the weight machines that I'll be using for my full body workouts. It's an intense and overwhelming amount of circuit training but I'm very excited to do this routine. He suggested that I work out 5 times a week; 2 whole body workouts, swimming; a Brick - Bike to Run, with intervals; and band stretches at home. It's a good thing I've started now because I cannot imagine trying to build up the endurance and strength if I did not have 4 full months to get my body in shape. I'm very sore tonight, a bit from our trial workout with my trying each machine and doing 1 set of reps on each. I'm also still recovering from all the other workouts I did this week. Sunday I did a cardio workout on the bike and treadmill with a brief interval on the rowing machine; Tuesday & Thursday I had Aqua Aerobics classes, and swam some laps; Friday I got in a 40 minute bike ride down to Citizen's Bank Ballpark and around the Lakes. I've exercised more this week than I have over the past several months. What's great is I am actually enjoying the workouts. For more than just weight loss, this program will help me define and sculpt my physique. I can see and feel some small changes already. Physically speaking, I feel like I'm becoming someone I don't recognise! It's cool and disconcerting at the same time. I am enjoying the discovery process of uncovering who and what has been under wraps all these years. There is also the experience of rewiring my brain and coordination abilities through the exercise. Oddly, I find that trying to be more coordinated while I exercise is helping my brain and concentration. Small wonder that I am also enjoying the word games at the same time - it's all exercise for the full body workout.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fresh Pasta with Asparagus and Lemon Sauce

 Part 2 of my Favorite Spring Meal - Home Made Pasta with Asparagus and Lemon Sauce. It's not spring without the bright flavor and vibrant green asparagus that heralds the coming of the new season. This part of the recipe is fast - it takes 20 minutes to make and makes enough sauce to serve 4. To round out the meal, serve it with a spring mix salad with balsamic macerated strawberries and sweet & spicy pecans. Serve a saute of julienne carrots and snow peas as a bright and colorful accompaniment. Or if you wish, seared scallops, sauteed shrimp, poached salmon or thin slices of grilled chicken are nice full proteins to add to your meal. The pasta can be served as either a side or as an appetizer.
The original recipe was found in Gourmet Magazine, May 2000. It contains only 5 Ingredients! adapted from a recipe by Faith Heller Willinger.

Asparagus Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 lb or 1 bunch fresh asparagus – tough ends trimmed; stems cut into small pieces, tips reserved
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon - finely grate the fresh lemon; use one medium sized lemon – which should yield a tablespoon of zest and 2 tablespoons of juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Fresh pasta of choice – wide noodles work best
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiana-Reggiano, Peccorino Romano, or Locatelli - Plus more for sprinkling
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    1. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Reserve asparagus tips separately, for garnishing. Bring a large (4-6 quarts) pot of water to a rapid boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the asparagus stems to the pot; cook for about 6 minutes, or until tender. Remove the asparagus stems with a slotted spoon, or small strainer; transfer the asparagus stems to a colander and rinse under cold water. Keep the cooking water for cooking the pasta and the asparagus tips. Drain asparagus stems well and transfer to a food processor or blender.
    2. Cook asparagus tips in same boiling water until just tender - about 3 minutes. Reserve the cooking water to cook pasta. Rinse the asparagus tips under cold water and set the tips aside. In a blender or food processor, puree the asparagus stems with the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup asparagus cooking water. The puree should be smooth and bright green. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of freshly cracked pepper. Adjust your seasonings according to taste. The cheese is salty, so use salt sparingly.
    3. Into the same pot of water you cooked your asparagus, cook the pasta until it is just al dente. Fresh Pasta takes about 3-4 minutes to cook. Before you strain the pasta, reserve 2 cups cooking water. Drain pasta – but do not rinse.
    4. Using the same pot, add the puree mixture and cook over high heat to re-warm the sauce. Add the cooked pasta to the puree. If the sauce is too thick, use ½ cup of the reserved cooking water at little at a time to thin the sauce.
    5. The sauce should coat the pasta and be a bit loose. Add the asparagus tips to the pasta, stir to incorporate throughout. Serve pasta with a garnish of lemon zest and a sprinkling of the cheese. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fresh Whole Wheat Pasta

When spring arrives and there is an abundance of asparagus in the produce stores, I get the urge to make one of my favorite Spring meals, Fresh Pasta with Asparagus Sauce. People often ask me what is my favorite thing to cook, or what is my speciality? That's a difficult question to answer because I like to cook a lot of things and I'm always trying to make something new. At this time of year however, I realize my speciality is making fresh pasta; my favorite thing to make is this low-fat, seasonally fresh and light asparagus "pesto" or puree. I learned to make pasta in culinary school and have succeeded in making it ever since. I've taught many classes on how to make fresh pasta. There are an infinite variety of ways to change the flavors, most notably by adding cocoa powder for a chocolate pasta that I like for Valentine's Day.

The Asparagus Sauce comes from Gourmet Magazine, circa 2000. It was one of the featured Five Ingredient Recipes that is simple perfection. I posted the recipe on my old yahoo blog last year, but not with photos. Some of you might remember the recipe, but this time I took step by step pictures to make this a real show and tell feature. I'll post the recipe again here as a two part entry. The first entry is how to make fresh pasta. If you don't have the time, inclination or a pasta maker, then by all means, buy fresh pasta at the store - the best quality you can find. The general supermarket version is okay, what is better are the sheets of pasta you can find at a quality Italian Market, such as Tallutos' in the Italian Market. I suggest using either plain egg pasta or lemon pepper. Spinach, tomato or other flavored pastas will over-shadow in looks and a bit in taste the clean bright lemony asparagus flavor of the sauce. Have the pasta cut into fettuccine or parpadelle noodles - wide enough to have some tooth, but not so thin to become mushy once cooked. I find pasta making therapeutic and relaxing. It takes about 40 minutes to make, but some of that time is for the dough to rest. Gather your ingredients, get sheet trays, parchment or plastic wrap together and have extra flour on hand for dusting. You can use almost any kind of flour or semolina wheat - I've made the pasta tonight using All Purpose Flour and Whole Wheat Flour.
Directions: Mix together 1 Cup All Purpose and 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour, and a pinch of salt onto a board or clean counter top. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

Crack 1 large Egg into the center of the well, or beat the egg in a cup and add the beaten egg to the center of the well. Add in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of cold water.

Use a fork and begin incorporating some of the flour into the egg/oil/water mixture. Take the flour from the inside of the well and work from the inside out. As you begin to incorporate most of the flour, use a bench scraper to gather up all of the flour. You can use the bench scraper to also cut the flour and egg mixture together - almost like making pie dough.

Gather the flour together and compact it to form a tight ball. If the dough is too dry and won't hold together, add some cold water to the dough, a tablespoon at a time; don't let the dough become too wet and sticky. Begin kneading the dough, pushing it forward on the board with the heel of your palm and pulling the dough back onto itself. You must knead the dough until it becomes soft, pliable and as smooth as a baby's bottom, about 10 to 15 minutes of kneading. Depending on the coarseness of the whole wheat flour, the dough may have some roughness to it from the wheat germ.

The overall texture of the dough should be as soft as play dough. Divide the dough into two portions - either as you start to condition and knead it; it may be easier to work with in smaller portions. After the pasta dough is smooth, form each half into a ball; wrap each half lightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes.

After the dough has rested, cut each ball in half - again, it will be easier to work with in smaller batches. Run half of the ball of dough through the widest setting of your pasta rollers. My machine starts at #1 for the widest setting and goes to # 6 for the thinnest setting. On the first pass through the widest setting, I usually run the dough through 3 times, folding the dough over on itself in thirds. This conditions the dough and if it is too wet, I can dust it with some flour to help it set. Continue running each portion of dough through the rollers, passing it through each successive thinner setting one time. The dough will elongate and become thinner and longer with each pass through the rollers.

Before I cut the sheets of pasta into fettuccine or other noodles, I dust each sheet with all purpose flour and let the sheets rest on a tray for few minutes. It's easier to work with one sheet at a time and give yourself enough room so the pasta doesn't get crowded, clump together or dry out too fast. Have a sheet tray ready with about 1/2 cup of all purpose flour on it; use this for tossing the cut noodle to keep them from forming a sticky glutenous mass. When you are ready to cut the noodles - have your sheet tray and more flour handy.
If you are really organized, you can either dry the pasta on a drying rack, or keep the noodles laid out length wise. To keep the pasta for use later or for future use, make sure you add enough all-purpose flour to the cut pasta and toss to combine. Wrap the pasta in parchment or wax paper, forming a long cylinder and closing up the ends. Wrap the paper in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Generously salt the boiling water and add the pasta - straight from the refrigerator or freezer to the pot of water and boil for 3-4 minutes. Drain and dress immediately with sauce of choice. Next post - the Asparagus Sauce - Don't miss it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My name is Denine and I am a Bread Addict

"They say bread is life. And I bake bread, bread, *bread*. And I sweat and shovel this stinkin' dough in and out of this hot hole in the wall, and I should be *so* happy! Huh, sweetie?" - Ronny Cammareri, MOONSTRUCK

I have a general addiction to all tasty foods with bread being one in the top ten foods I love and crave. This challah bread was my first attempt at bread baking. The recipe and dough were given to me by my friend Jill. We had a challah baking lesson a few Sunday's ago, and I took the dough home to finish. This was my braided and baked result. I'm writing about it today because I've been thinking about how I miss bread and would like to be able to have my daily bread without the weight gain and carb addiction cycle. In moderation - it's okay. It's the everyday-eating-the-entire-loaf that gets me into trouble. However, I've been doing well with the weight loss over the past few weeks. Keeping the bread intake down, exercising and eating sensibly have helped me to lose about 4 pounds in the past 3 weeks. There were two weeks with smaller under a pound losses and last week was a 2.4 pound special. My tally thus far, 54.2 pounds. Liz and I together have a combined weight loss of over 100 pounds! To put this into a visual perspective that would be the equivalent of:

5 of my dog, Hamlet
2 Sacks of Carrots

      Danica Patrick - the Race Car Driver

      3.649 Bars of Gold

      7.5757575...Standard Building Bricks

      7.1428 Stone in British Weights & Measures

With this in perspective, it makes me not want to eat bread! I'm hoping to lose more weight, but more than that, I'm looking forward to getting in shape for the triathlon in August. I've started working out at the gym. I've hired a trainer to help create a workout program and nutrition guide to get me into shape so I can complete the events.

Meeting with the trainer, Anthony, was quite a sobering experience. He is a boot camp instructor; has competed in the Iron Man Triathlon and has the physique of a Young and Pre-Steroid Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's intimidating and quick to the point. He got my vitals and stats, writing down my current weight and height. Then he took my body mass index - which at first I thought was a great number. After I looked it up on an online chart, I realized my body fat percentage is still in the obese range. I cannot, make that, I don't want to imagine what it was before I dropped the 54 pounds. I realize he is looking at me today, not at where I was 8 months ago, and that he's a trainer, so he's apt to see everyone not in shape. It's not that I want to feel like I'm perfect, but I would like to feel good about my current choices, where I am today and where I'm going physically. Among the many facts he brought to light, one was not to "scare" me to give me a quick reality check; the swimming part of the triathlon is the hardest part. It's in an open body of murky water with lots of people kicking and pushing. And you have to keep swimming or else. Heady stuff. What I took from my initial meeting with Anthony was that it did make me determined to want to see this event through to the end. Rather than feel defeated before I begin, I am taking the approach of just going ahead and being as prepared as possible. Body and strength training, weight loss, smarter eating choices, it has to help me get ready for the coming events of my summer. So into the pool I go; running on the treadmill; working out with weights. I figure the next month will at least help with the 42 mile 5 Borough Ride through New York on May 4th. That which doesn't kill me, makes me stronger.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

From Little Chicks to Big Bird

Today's post is more or less a photo edition. We have chickens! The PreK class got eggs for one of their spring life cycle projects. The eggs came in on Friday, and were set in a brooder box. Part of the project involves having the kids in the class guess which egg would hatch first. The teachers and several of the admin staff picked egg #3. Egg #1 hatched first. Egg #3 was the fifth to hatch out of 6 or 8. It's a fun project, allowing the children to learn about the cycle of life and to see life bloom before their eyes. Two or three of the chicks hatched within an hour, and I noticed a chick pecking out of its shell when I went check in on them. Last year there was an egg that didn't hatch and inevitably, a chick that didn't make it past the exhausting process of coming out of its shell. This brood is hearty, all the babies seem to be doing well, eating a lot of feed and huddling together for comfort and warmth.
The Phillie's 2008 Season has begun in true Phillie's Phashion - they lost the first home Day Game opener and the first Evening Game Opener. Like good Philadelphia Sports Fans, Liz and I hold our hearts out on our sleeves for our Phillies, full of hope, only to have our expectations crushed. We attended the first opening night game, thinking that they would surely pull out a win against one of the worst teams in the league, while facing the 3rd string pitcher. The Phils had an embarrassing night on the field, giving up a home run and not bringing in any runs of their own. I think they ended the game with 1 hit and 1 error. Typical April start to the Phillies baseball season. The game ended quickly; how could it not when you get nothing but pop up outs and strikes all night? The best part of outing? We got t-shirts that are so big on each of us, thanks to the recent weight loss, that the shirts will now become nightgowns. Yeah Weight Loss - Boo Phillies!

There are some wonderful signs of spring in the Philadelphia area. I found my first dandelion of the season. One at this time of year is a pretty flower; come summer when there are thousands they are just pesky weeds. The dogwood trees in Rittenhouse Square are almost in bloom. On Monday, the tree in the center photo was just about to start opening its blossoms. I noticed that on Wednesday the tree had almost burst forth. The photo to the right shows one of the smallest bird nests I've ever seen. So delicate and tiny, all the way out on the tip of a small thin branch. Can you imagine the wee bird that calls this home? Must be no bigger than a minute!Saving the best for last - During my lunch break on Thursday, I had to run some errands. In order to get around Center City quickly, I biked around town. As I was riding north along 16th & Sansom Street, I saw a person in a Big Bird Costume lumbering down the street. Reason # 1000 why I love having a camera with me! What was so funny about this scene - no one seems care that Big Bird is strolling down the street. Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?