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bear by san

March 2017



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drive train _ netcurmudgeon

it's hard to dance with the devil on your back

Working with windfall apples requires a particular kind of attention. At the risk of sounding like a Christopher Kimball essay, you never quite know what you're going to get from looking at the outside of the fruit. I mean, you can spot the rotten ones pretty easily--but then sometimes you can have one that looks completely miserable, but once you peel it and cut out a couple of bruises, it's all sound fruit. And then there's another one that looks rosy and perfect--not even a bruise--and even seems fine once you peel it, but as soon as you cut more than skin deep, you realize it's riddled with wormholes.

Anyway, as you've probably guessed, there's a hundred-something-year-old Macintosh tree on the property line between us and the neighbors, and its been dropping apples slightly smaller than tennis balls all over the back yard. I properly earned my thrifty Yankee card today, because after my morning run not only did I go out and clean up a bunch of apples, but I picked out the decent ones, took them inside, and turned them into an apple crisp that is now cooling on the kitchen counter.

I also pulled all the picked-over chicken carcases out of the deep freezer and boiled up a batch of stock, part of which will be chicken soup for dinner tonight and the rest of which will go back into the freezer in quart containers for future soup, gravy, and the like.

2013-08-20 13.06.22

(Dogs think chicken soup day is the BEST DAY. Especially since he gets all the kind of squidgy bits when I pick the bones over.)

I feel like I earned my apple crisp tonight.

I've got a new running route--or actually, two new routes with a common root, as it were. A fellow runner tipped me off to a pedestrian-friendly back way to the neighboring town, which is not the terrifying corrida de toros the state highway entails for foot traffic. It's gorgeous! Tree lines lanes through farms and orchards, and on the way out the hill is gentle and easy. (On the way back, you do it all at once, so it's brutal--but then it's over with, and you have that long gentle hill to run back down for dessert.) So I can run out, loop around the neighboring town's common, run back, loop our common, and get 10K. Or I can run over, run around their lake, run back, and get 11 miles.

 And it's pretty and I like it a lot. Ahem.

Anyway, when I got home, I happened to notice that the dill from our farm share had a hitchhiker:

2013-08-20 09.35.37

2013-08-20 09.36.00

Isn't it lovely? It's a black swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) (my favorite local butterfly), and though you can't see the osmeterium in these photos, it poked it out at me when I harassed it to make sure it was alive.

Well, reader, I am kind of a sucker. Because it turns out that these caterpillars feed on plants in the carrot family (thus its home on the dill: they also like fennel, carrots, parsley, Queen Anne's lace, and such like).

None of which we currently have in the yard.

So I carted the little dude down to the local park and found it some Queen Anne's lace to hang out on:

2013-08-20 10.15.08

My good deed for the day.


It was a really cute caterpillar.
Both of the statements above are true. :)
It's been raining so much here that my ancient apple tree is just blowing fruit off before it's ripe. The rabbits are having a field day with it, as are the horses. I'm hoping to be able to salvage at least some, so that I can make some cider and some pie.
I hear rotten/underripe apples make the best cider.
It really does, but bug guts in the kitchen , well, I have trouble with it.
That's why the cider press is in the SHED. ;-)
Man, I'm going to need another shed. I've got one for the chickens and ducks, and I'm having one built for the goats. But I don't have a cider shed!
Then you'd be Celia "Three Sheds".... :-)
Ooh, that's totally going to be my gangster name!
Over here, windfall apples are all too often full of earwigs, which leads to me shrieking and generally making a fool of myself, alas.
Mooncat is very keen on chicken soup day, too.
I know that dog look! That is "Monkey! Why are you taking my picture when we could be eating more chicken? Not that I am displeased with the chicken experience thus far!"
Hickory nuts have the same problem. Also, I am somewhat in awe of your cookery. I consider myself an accomplished and varied cook, but I frequently search your archives for ideas.
What a beautiful caterpillar! Huzzah for giving it a tasty home.

Also, stock out of bones. Go you. I cannot wait to have a working kitchen again, ideally before we reach soup-making season...
The Mexican groceries in my neighborhood have tamale steamers, which are basically giant aluminum stock pots and every time I see them in the windows I think "I COULD MAKE 128 QUARTS OF SOUP. 128 QUARTS..."
I, um. Use a tamale steamer to make stock. *g*

Watch the lid. It gets HOT.
You might also be an overachiever. ;-P
We had a lot of chicken carcasses. And tamale steamers are cheap.
Huzzah indeed! The Consort has a ginormous forest of some sort of plant growing out of the planter at the corner of the driveway and sidewalk, which is *full* of gleeful honeybees. So far I have dissuaded him from cutting it all down even though it currently blocks the sidewalk and half the driveway, because, happy bees.

Sadly, the produce of another friend's sour cherry tree was riddled with maggots. :-(

Edited at 2013-08-20 10:59 pm (UTC)
Pretty Caterpillar is Very Pretty.

Giant Ridiculous Dog somehow looks even more ridiculous without this all enveloping blanket of fur, though much cooler.

Also utterly adorable with those deep, soulful eyes, which we can see for once. ;)
He's happier in general unfluffy, though I miss the fluff. But I travel so much now that keeping his coat in shape was... prohibitive.
Ok, I am usually wigged out by caterpillars, but that one is lovely! I seem to only see the plain bright green ones which just look so....squishy. Eeek. So nice of you to find it a new home :)
And it will grow up to be a pretty butterfly!
Now you have my mouth watering for apple crisp--sounds lovely! You are indeed a virtuous Yankee.

Also? That's an amazing catapillar!

Edited at 2013-08-21 01:58 pm (UTC)
It's pretty good apple crisp. Very tart.