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Friday, August 7, 2009

Garden Sun~Roasted Garlic

It's garlic, shallot, and onion season and my husband dutifully had been picking the garlic and shallots. He began picking them last week prior to the nearly week-long stretch of searing, record breaking heatwave in the triple digits, which is not all that common for these parts of Oregon. He last spring he painstakingly rototilled, mulched and created rows for this "pet" garlic and planted each one (of about 100 cloves), just as specified by "Gardeners Annonymous" LOLL. There were so many garlic plants, that I offered to help if needed, which he graciously declined. He wanted to see this whole process through from beginning to end, and I had no problem with that. Because there were so many, as he dug each garlic head out, he put them in a pile to process later, and he figured they could nicely "cure" there in the sun.

Well as the story goes, my husband got sidetracked with other of his many projects and the pile of garlic had been forgotten...and left in the sun. I just came across them just yesterday, and with a laugh and taunt on my part, we decided to finish processing and storing them. In the kitchen he and I worked, destemming them, peeling off the outter layer of garlic skins that were in contact with the soil, and neatly trimming the root ends. When he began doing so, he discovered the cloves of each head to be somewhat soft to the touch, and yellowed.. instead of the firm white cloves we all know. Upset and beside himself, the whole bushel of garlic nearly made it into the compost pile. However, upon further inspection and not without my additional laughter, we realized they had been quite literally cooked in the sun.

We investigated further, smelling and tasting... and we were very pleasantly surprised to find that the cloves were very similar to traditional oven-roasted garlic! Pleasant, mild, roasted garlic with tons of fresh flavor! The pile of garlic heads spent about 4-5 days of 100+ degree heat but are very edible and tasty SUN-ROASTED garlic!

For dinner, we decided to sample this gift from the sun. We finely minced the sun-roasted garlic and creamed it with butter, then spreading it on sourdough bread. That along with garden cucumbers & tomato salad was our simple, healthy and deliciously light dinner. Because the shelf life is not long once the garlic is roasted, we decided the put them in jars with white distilled vinegar and dill and processed them in a hotwater bath to seal them. A little bit of sunshine to enjoy in the dark days of winter.

Sometimes it's a good thing to make the best of an unexpected situation!

Simple things.


Bathing Beauties

Walking by the backdoor this morning with coffee cup in hand, I took a double-take out at the backyard. In our dog's paddock adjacent to the yard, were three hawks perched up on the rim of River's water trough, sipping the water. Even more entertaining was then watching them take turns jumping in, flapping their big striped wings.... they were BATHING! They seemed giddy, playing as they did so, hopping from side to side on the rim. Mother kept a watchful eye on us during this morning bathing, as she could see my whole family peering through the window at her's, and their antics.

We've identified them as Cooper's Hawks. It's a family that's had a nest in the margin of our forest overlooking the side yard ... basically their pantry. It's a mother and her two fledglings. Besides the barn owls shacked up in the "dog house" (an oversized nesting box my husband built, hoisted, and attached 50 feet up in a large douglas fir), we are also very humbled and honored to have a very private and shy occupant. She's an amazing raptor who's chosen to raise her youngsters in our forest every year. For years we've watched the courtships, the new hatchlings, and like watching one's own children grow and change, watching the hawk's growth and behaviors change, but on an accelerated level. It's exhilerating when anticipating the hatchlings, to look up the tree where sunshine streams through the branches near the tree tops illuminating the nest, and finally seeing little round tufts of fuzz glowing golden in the forest sunlight.

Equally amazing has been watching the mother dismantle the nest stick by stick, to encourage her fledglings to fly and take care of themselves, once they've grown their flight feathers. They flapped and exercised their wings jumping from branch to branch, and now they do so by jumping from tree to tree. They're almost as big as she is, yet daily we still hear them making their demanding "key! key! key! calls for her to bring them their meals... throughout most of the day, every day! She's an excellent mother who takes her job seriously and gives great care to her vivacious brood. Regularly we watch her bring meals back to the exciteable youngsters, she's a perpetual and efficient hunter. However, I suspect she's also anxious for them to become self-sufficient and I'm quite confident that she is one mother who will not experience "empty nest syndrome". Like any good mother, her job is to make them healthy, strong, and independent.

Simple things.

Where the wild winds blow,

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sweet As Molasses

... waited 'til well past sundown, and under the light of the full moon, slipped a rope around the old resting paint's neck. Once he discovered there was no escape, I braced for a fight. But the old man began licking the palms of my hand like an over-grown puppy....

I was given the advice by a couple knowledgeble cowboys to use molasses with worming paste to get a horse to take his medicine... a method passed down from early cowboyin' days they said. It worked very well, better than expected.. simple yet ingenious! I had made a comment yesterday about the fact that I had missed putting the worming tube in the corner of my wise old paint's mouth (and...yeah without a halter)... and with Cash, you ONLY have one chance. Once he knows what you're up to, you only see dust in the wind... afterwhich he won't let anyone about three horse-strides near him! He's a wise horse full of experience, and once he sees the halter in your hand figuring what you're up to, he's gone.

So taking their advice, I dipped part of the worming tube in molasses (happened to have some left over from my husband's barbeque recipe). Of course, some had gotten on my hands.. and while I was gently interacting with the horses, they investigated and tasted the sticky molasses. Like a big puppy Cash lapped up the molasses with his big soft tongue, and I slowly put the tube in the corner and in went the medicine! No drama or dust to settle. He looked mildly surprised but continued his full enjoyment of licking the sweet molasses off his lips and my fingertips... He looked like a teenager who's found new love, even "starry-eyed". Reminded me of myself when I'm eating chocolate!

I shared the sticky stuff with the others as well and had horses all around me, smelling it, tasting it. They were all very enamored with this as well... there was no pecking order, no one horse bit or flattened their ears at another, all were "starry-eyed" and seemingly entranced .. almost a little eery. Blaze couldn't get enough of the aroma of the molasses, more so then eating it in this go-round. Reno, the same, only she touched some with her lip, and then curled her upper lip toward her nose to concentrate the heavenly smell.

I had the whole herd fighting for my "worming" attention!

Then like over-energetic children feeling a candy-sugar rush, they all bucked and played in the pasture for quite some time after. I must admit sampling it myself and attest it to be very tasty. I wonder if there's a candy made of only molasses.

Simple things.