Feed me!

This is a shout-out to Soup’r Natural on York Road in Hereford.  (And a thank you for the thank you from neighbors Glenn and Kelly!) I’m still thinking fond thoughts about a meal we had there over a week ago.  When you consider that I can’t remember what I had for lunch today or even what I’m currently wearing, that’s really saying something.

I am a believer in home-cooking.  Somewhere along the way, life got ridiculously complicated and my energy levels dropped and some nights the thought of cleaning up dinner just does me in.  Pizza has its place and a juicy rotisserie chicken from Graul’s can often really do the trick, but there are nights when I just want someone to feed me food like I would make (or better!) and clean it all up.  And after a long commute home, I don’t want to drive to Cockeysville or Shrewsbury to eat dinner.

One recent frazzled evening, John and I decided to use a gift certificate we had been given to Soup’r Natural.  First off, it was so nice to drive just a couple of miles.  Woo hoo!  Next, the clean timber aroma of the restaurant naturally made us loghome dwellers feel right at home.  And then the food just made us really happy.

John was quite content with his beef bourgignon.  It was nice and manly for him.  I ordered three specials of the day: tomato tart, spaghetti squash, and cranberry bread pudding.  Since this is my blog and because I didn’t really pay attention to John’s food, I’m going to gush about what I ate.   This will sound silly, but the tart was very cheesy and tomato-ey.  It began with a really good tomato, seasoned with fresh herbs.  I know they were fresh because the herb gardens, growing all my favorite herbs, are right outside the building.  The spaghetti squash was served in the skin, topped on one half with very nutty pesto and on the other half with a marinara sauce.   Piping hot and  very tender, the squash flaked easily with the fork.  And then the bread pudding…well, cranberries are just the thing to add pop to a typically heavy dessert.  Yum, yum, yum…I love cranberries.

I think this meal resonated so deeply with me because when life gets stressful, we eat poorly.  Restaurants do not typically help.  My body wanted vegetables and the vegetables were the stars of my meal.  (John, of course, wanted meat and meat was the star of his meal, too. )  So the food made my body happy and the ambiance made my soul happy.  My wallet was pretty happy too.

A notice out front clued us in that we could have brought a bottle of wine and we saw other diners enjoying their wine with their meals.  We’ll keep that in mind for next time.  Troyers’ is just a stone’s throw away.

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar

I was sitting at Café Maywood Tuesday morning, enjoying the quiet with my coffee and my journal.  I noticed a caterpillar on a marigold leaf.  So much for my quiet time…

“Hey, Harper, come out here and see this caterpillar!”

“Wow…it’s so cool…”

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar in Hereford, Maryland--click to enlarge

We’ve never seen one of these before.  Furry white and very soft.  And it has a red face!  So strange!  And whiskery things.  They aren’t antennae.  They stick straight up like antennae, but they look more like cat whiskers.

I took its picture and then Harper took pictures of everything else on the porch.  (So glad for digital cameras!)  Then I had to find out what it was.  I’m no entomologist, but the internet is a wonderful thing.  After looking at a crazy number of really bizarre looking caterpillars, I finally found ours.

It is a sycamore tussock moth.  The whiskery things are called tussocks, hair tufts or pencil hairs.  (“Whiskery things” sounds just as scientific to me as “pencil hair.”)    This type does not bite or cause skin disorders.  What?  Caterpillars can bite or cause skin disorders?  I was relieved to know that this is “safe” for humans since I had encouraged Harper to hold it.  The problem with this caterpillar for us is that it likes to eat trees.  In particular,  the trees that grow all over Maywood.  Besides sycamores, they eat maple, oak, hickory, walnut, honey locust, and woody shrubs.    (Hmm…woody shrubs like mountain laurel?)  An infestation would be problematic.  They are in the same family as gypsy moths and they produce three generations a season.  They could be prolific, given the opportunity.

One website mentioned a bird-friendly environment as the best way to manage them.  Well, then, tree-hugger John can sleep at night.  We have all sorts of birds around here.  I wonder if the pileated woodpeckers like to eat sycamore tussock moth caterpillars.  It’s an awfully cute little caterpillar, but I’d be content to offer him to a woodpecker.

Here’s something else I learned today.  One can be an entomologist (one who studies insects) or an etymologist (one who studies the history of words).  The field of entymology was invented today by me.  It is the study of the history of the names of insects.

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar--Here birdy, birdy!