Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Some Serious Sandpaper For Your Brain

The amount of progress we’ve made, as humans, in regard to wiping our backsides, is embarrassing. It’s 2015 and the fact that we’re still shoving paper up there to clean out detritus is absurd and laughable. Look at how far technology has come in recent years — everything from computers to automobiles to video games to communication tools have evolved at warp speed.

Read the rest here....

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Pepper Store

So, it's spring. Well, sort of anyway. Maybe just a wee bit late.

Ms. Avops and myself are going out to pick up some pepper plants for the mini garden that replaced our huge sprawling garden from years back. So first we hit the local grocery store... green bell peppers are sold out, sorry. Next, we hit the local greenhouse... same story. Then we head a little farther out of town to the lady who sells plants in front of her house. Now this is a kind of sad statement as to the regulation of small home-based growers. Seems that this gal, who for years has been selling her greenhouse starter plants at very competitive prices has been shut down by the township. Big Brother told her that there were too many cars stopping to buy her products and that it was causing a nuisance to someone and gave her a cease and desist order. Pretty sad, she always had a good selection of very healthy plants at really good prices. I'm guessing she was causing a loss of profit to the well connected “legitimate business” around here.

Anyway, with that option scratched of the list, off we go to the “Big Box” store in the next town over. Yay! They still have some garden vegetable plants! So we make our way through the elbow-to-elbow crowds to the vegetable section.... and.... there are 2, yes, TWO green bell pepper plants left. One looked like a survivor of a drone strike and the other looked like maybe it was coming down with a case of capsicum fever.... so I grabs the flat of feverish looking peppers and am ready to make a quick escape from the hordes in the “Big Box” open air prison complex.

Suddenly, I realize that Ms. Avops is nowhere to be found........ rats.

So off I go in search of the missing woman. Quickly scanning the writhing hordes, I spot a waving arm! There's the Ms. right back where I started. So I make my way back, bouncing off a few plant zombies, and meet Ms. A right where I got my green pepper treasures. She has a big smile and a flat of decent looking pepper-like plants in her hand. She says "these are the ones we are going to buy!"

 OK, at this point I'm ready to crawl over the barb wire fence to get out of there. She takes my flat of feverish looking green peppers and puts them back on the shelf and gives me HER flat of decent looking green peppers.

Zoom... we're outta there!

Back a the ranch, I get the planter ready for the green peppers and start removing them from the fancy pot, noticing that the leaves are a little different than what I remember from green peppers, I spy some microscopic writing on the side of the flat. So I go get my magnifying glass (yes, I'm at THAT age) and low and behold.... we are the proud owners of a flat of tomatillos!
Great! Now what the heck are tomatillos? Off to the inter-web to do some research.

So, I find out that the tomatillo is:
“a native to Mexico and domesticated by the Aztecs around 800 B.C., tomatillos are one of our most ancient food-bearing plants. Today, you can grow varieties of the same two species the Aztecs grew. Physalis ixocarpa is commonly sold in markets and has large (up to 2 ½-inch-diameter) tart green fruits, which ripen to pale yellow. P. philadelphica produces sweeter, marble-size purple fruits. This species is a common field weed in Mexico, but it is no less delicious. “
Great again! Now, what are we gonna do with 'em? Turns out they are pretty easy to grow (probably has something to do with the field weed thing) and..... they are considered an essential ingredient for authentic salsa (among other things).
Alrighty then, here's a few ways to use these critters if you ever happen to get stuck with some tomatillos.

 Smoky Salsa Verde
Roast a large unpeeled onion, five unpeeled garlic cloves, two to five chile peppers (such as Serrano, poblano, or Anaheim), and 1 pound tomatillos on a charcoal grill or in a heavy, ungreased skillet on top of the stove until charred and soft. Peel the onion, garlic, and peppers and cut into chunks. Pulse all ingredients briefly in a food processor along with sea salt, a handful of cilantro, and a generous squirt of fresh lime juice. Serve with chips or use to smother cheese enchiladas.

Crisp Fried Tomatillos
Halve the fruits. Beat an egg with a ½ cup of milk. Prepare a shallow bowl of seasoned flour and another of cornmeal. Toss the fruits first in flour, then in the egg mixture, then roll in cornmeal. Fry in olive oil in a nonstick skillet until crisp and golden.

Green Rice
Puree 2½ cups raw tomatillos with ten cilantro sprigs. Measure 2 cups of this puree. In a medium saucepan, sautée a finely chopped small onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft. Add 1 cup rice and cook, stirring, five minutes longer. Add the puree and 1 teaspoon salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 20 to 30 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.

And... drumroll please....

Terrific Trio
Combine tomatillos, cilantro, and onion for a classic salsa combo!

And there you have it! Enjoy! It's Summertime!!

Peace, Avops

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Season Of The Blues

Another “The World is Ending” post?

Nah! Nope! Not here, not anymore (hopefully).

Here, it's blueberry season! That time of year that the whole town and township are all about everything blueberry. They have made the humble blueberry into a center of commercial and financial deification. Seriously, they have a blueberry festival, and blueberry parade, a blueberry king and queen, blueberry pancakes, muffins, and probably a dozen other blue things you and I have never even thought of.

It's a little town, about 1000 souls plus another 2000 in the township, so who can blame them for latching on to the blueberry as their savior from the fires of anonymity! I suppose the orchard about a mile outside of the city had a lot to do with this event season. The orchard is a rather smallish operation that has apples, peaches, strawberries, and of course, the venerable blueberry.
They are pretty decent folks, the orchard owners. I've traded some useless (to me) stuff I had laying around the house for 10 lbs of blueberries a few years ago, and have been a steady customer ever since.

The wonders of small town life!

Anyway... I'm going to give you a little blueberry history, just for giggles.

Blueberries, also known as bilberries, whortleberries and hurtleberries, are named for their velvety, deep-blue color, of course. These luscious berries are one of the few fruits native to North America. Native Americans used the berries, leaves, and roots for medicinal purposes. The fruit was used as a fabric dye and combined with meat into a nutritious dried jerky.
The shrub is of the genus Vaccinium, from the Latin vacca for cow since cows love them, a fact first noted by Captain James Cook in the late 1700s.
Blueberries used to be picked by hand until the invention of the blueberry rake by Abijah Tabbutt of Maine in 1822, so it's no wonder that Maine's state berry is the blueberry.
The most popular variety of blueberry is Vaccinium corymbosum, known as the "highbush" blueberry. The wild "lowbush" varieties are a favorite of those who like to pick their own in the wilds.

And... there you have it!

So, now that I've told you everything about blueberries that you never wanted to know, I'll quickly segue into my new hobby of baking! Which is why I've just told you the saga of the blueberry centric area in which I live.

As of late, I've been baking all kinds of breads, cakes and pastries made with...... of course, blueberries! It really is the most excellent way to enjoy the summer months of harvest and stay out of hot sun! I'm really enjoying the new hobby as it seems to be a combination of chemistry and art, along with some really random exercises that combine to make some really tasty comestibles.
I can kill half a day just like that in the kitchen..... no worrying about politics, or world hunger, or killer earthquakes or asteroids or whatever the latest lone wolf killer has been up to! It really is a special world I create when I'm baking the days away.

Today, I will leave you with a couple of recipes for blueberry heaven that I have baked in the last couple of weeks. Enjoy, if you dare!

Blueberry Buttermilk Coffeecake 


Blueberry Hand Pies


Information used in this blog is reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.