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Daily Archives: November 11, 2012

Milkweed in the Meadow

It doesn’t take much to make me happy some days. Like wandering out to take pictures and finding this in the newly mowed edge of the meadow out back.

dried split milkweed seed pod

Milkweed. That wonderful host plant for monarch butterflies. The butterflies we rarely see, but they are in our area because I have seen them twice in our meadow. Never when I had my camera though. I did once find one that lost a fight with some predator and was in pieces off the edge of our patio last year.

But, now that I know where we have milkweed, we can watch and look for the larva and the chrysalis. We have rescued, watched, then released many monarchs at the Conservancy. If I get proficient at it, and can safely move the chrysalis to an area where they can be protected, they have a much better chance of making it to adulthood.

Once I found the seed pod in our area, I did a little looking around and found a few dozen pods in an area about 200 square feet.

I harvested the pods to use at the Conservancy for a project. I decided to spread the seeds around even though they weren’t optimum for drying and transplanting. The pods had all been split and the seeds were past their prime.

I did find quite a few milkweed beetles too.

While out looking to see if there were other areas of milkweed, I did have to be careful to avoid the many many piles of deer scat. It looks like the deer have been chowing down on our part of the meadow. My husband gave the meadow the last cutting of the year, so it could regenerate those varieties of ground plants that the deer enjoy. Obviously, they were grazing for a long time.

deer scat all over the meadow

They also like one place in our front yard. We try to watch the ground when walking across the grass to the mailbox. All in all, it was a pleasant day today. The meadow is in its glory, and I love to walk back there, even if I hadn’t found milkweed, it was still a beautiful sight in the fall.

As a bonus, I have a bag of milkweed seed pods to use at the crafts fair in December for the children’s critter craft area.

Something to Nosh On

The invite said bring something to nosh on, and something to sip. An old friend, met twenty years ago when he worked with my husband, now is living not far from us. He sent the email inviting a bunch of us to join them for an evening of music by some very talented musicians who get together periodically to play.

We haven’t done an evening of listening to great jazz, classic rock, some reggae and all sorts of improv good stuff in a very long time. It was absolutely fantastic, but I can’t get Radar Love out of my head now. It is funny how you still know all the lyrics of songs from your college years.

Of course, I may not forgive them for doing Don’t Worry, Be Happy, but they redeemed themselves with Bob Marley’s Is This Love. I have to rummage around and find my Legend CD now.

Anyway, besides the fact we stayed out late enough that we didn’t get to the birding today, I did have a good time making some of my new dips to take as the noshing contribution to the evening.

I have perfected for my taste, both the pumpkin hummus and the Ajvar recipes.

ajvar and hummus

I decided to experiment with the hummus and I did finally succumb to buying tahini. It gives me the incentive to make more hummus and stop buying it. I also found great hummus dipping chips, Flamous Falafel Chips These work so well with hummus, and with the ajvar.

To make the hummus, this is now my recipe. I adjusted what I use to make it taste the way we like. The amounts are approximate for the seasonings, but here are the basics.

One medium butternut squash, roasted in the oven until soft and scraped out of its skin. I slow roast at a lower temp, 300 degrees. One can of organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed. Three cloves of garlic. Put these three things in the food processor first. Add olive oil, about a 1/4 cup and pulse until it is chunky. Add the juice of one lemon. Plus 2 heaping tablespoons of tahini.

Now, seasonings. I have been experimenting and I like these. Garam masala, sriracha, salt, white pepper and a drop of sesame oil. This is where it gets interesting. I don’t measure seasonings. I try and taste. There is at least a teaspoon of garam masala and salt used this time. Half a teaspoon of white pepper. As for the sriracha, I probably used at least a dozen drops to start, because we like the spicy undertones. I added a few drops when I served it, swirled in to add a little more heat to the sweetness and the garlicky tones. If you aren’t a garlic fan, cut back to one or two cloves. But I love garlicky hummus.

Now, for the ajvar (pronounced eye-var). I have seen recipes that go all over the place and are attributed to Macedonia, Serbia and elsewhere across the Mediterranean. Some use eggplant, and others use only red peppers and garlic. I like the version with eggplant, but next summer when I can get large numbers of peppers, I am going to try the one without eggplant.

oven roasted eggplant

I made this version with four very large red peppers, and one large eggplant, all drizzled with olive oil and roasted until the peppers blistered. I used 325 degrees, and watch it closely. Put the peppers in a container and seal so they steam. Remove skins.

eggplant and peppers, to show sizes used

After removing the peppers and eggplant, turn off the oven. Immediately put cloves of garlic in the oven wrapped in foil and drizzled with oil. They will roast to the perfect texture without burning in the residual heat. I always make a few extra to use for garlic bread, or to put in omelets.

oven roasted garlic

Take the eggplant out of its skin. Remove some of the seeds if you want. I like the slight bite from them, so I leave some of them in.

Pulse the eggplant first, with three cloves of garlic and drizzle in the olive oil. Then add juice from half a lemon plus the peppers, peeled, and making sure no seeds remain on the peppers. Add salt to taste. It also gets better the longer it sits. Do not use jarred peppers to do this. The taste will not be the same. If you have a gas grill, or a gas flame, you can char them over the flame, but I think slow roasting them until they char gives it something better. Do it both ways and see which one you prefer. That is part of the fun of making a recipe “yours”.