Friday, December 30, 2016
A western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) and a northern alligator lizard (Elagaria coerulea) sharing the weak sunlight of a cool spring day in Oregon (taken last April. Because I'm slow these days).
They look very similar, and occupy similar niches, but they're not too closely related. It's probably the equivalent of a pig and a deer cuddling up together.
Monday, October 24, 2016
5 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped into little squares (or a 50:50 mix of apples and pears. Yum)
Tsp of cinnamon, maybe some nutmeg, pinch of cloves also good
about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of finely diced candied ginger (yeah, you read that right. I said ginger lovers, didn't I)
about 1/2 a lemon worth of lemon juice
Toss that all together and dump into a square glass baking dish.
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter (salted, sweet cream)
Pinch of salt
Maybe some more cinnamon
Cut that all together, then mix in:
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts (if you scavenged them from your neighbor's yard and roasted them yourself, you get bonus points), pecans or walnuts would also work swell
Dump topping over the apple mix and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes
Really good with vanilla ice cream. Tastes like autumn and Christmas both. Kinda spicy.
If anyone actually makes this recipe, I really would like to know. Not many people love ginger the way I do.
Monday, September 26, 2016
Searching for springboard notches while hiking is now a classic PacNW pasttime.
I ran across this extra special stump during a Chritmas hike. It must have been a bitch for those poor loggers back in the day: they tried really hard to cut it closer to the ground, with four saw marks (note how ragged the saw marks are, too, showing that it was a hand saw, not a chainsaw),
before they gave up and cut six feet higher up the trunk. (That's the notch from the springboard they eventually put in).
There's also signs of what I think are healing in the bark. It lived as 'living stump" for at least a few years before finally succumbing completely to rot. (Now home to numberous invertebrates, mosses, lichens, and a robust salal plant.) Nearly every one of these old stumps is a nurse log. Huckleberry and hemlock love them especially.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Salmonberry is native to the Pacific Northwest and is very important to native americans all up and down the coast, from what's now Alaska, to what's now Northern California. It hasn't been domesticated, so this is only available by knowing a good picking spot (and having permission to pick there).
I also feel obligated to balance the extreme fruit-bias in our culture by informing everyone that the entire plant is edible. The fresh spring sprouts can be eaten raw or steamed.
They have inconsistent (and most people say bland) flavor; birds and bears eat them before you can get them; and they tend to grow near stinging nettles and devils club.
I froze the berries, then cooked them and mashed them up, then dumped them in cheesecloth to get the juice out. (I can't stop myself from squeezing the cheesecloth to get juice out. That's supposed to make the juice cloudy, but I didn't see a big problem.)
Yield: 9 cups of jelly, packaged in six 8oz jars, and five 4oz jars, and some extra I ate on toast right away.
I see a 4oz jar of Alaskan salmonberry jelly is selling on Amazon for six bucks, I should get on that.
This was my first time tasting salmonberry anything (except fresh). It's very good. Reminiscent of raspberry (go figure), but it's own unique flavor.
Pojar, Jim and MacKinnon, Andy, ed. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Revised, Lone Pine, 2004
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
In the wall of a fair booth I volunteered to clean out. It's only July 5th, usually you don't see them this big until at least the end of July or August. The nest was mostly inside the wall, with three exit holes on the outside wall, and two exits on the inside. It was probably three feet in diameter inside the wall cavity.