Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wildcrafting with Feral Oranges

Feral Oranges: they're lumpy, covered with warts, and they taste bad. But that's no excuse to let them fall to the ground and rot.

Central and North Florida are full of feral orange trees. Some are remnants of old groves, others are volunteers of these domesticates, and still others are direct descendants of the original Spanish oranges favored by the Native Americans.

But to the typical neighborhood housing committee, these fruit trees are considered a nuisance. That's because they attract animals, and also because of the nasty stinking mess that rotten oranges make when they are not picked. To review: feral orange trees are a nuisance because animals try to harvest the fruit, and also because animals are incapable of harvesting all the fruit.

You can almost hear the hushed whisper during the neighborhood meetings: That's terrible, isn't it, all those disgusting animals creeping around in our neighborhood, tainting our perfect lawns?

So we harvested a bucket of these fangley fruit in a suburban neighborhood outside of Orlando. Over the last few weeks, we've been adding the taste of feral to our dishes, mostly in the curries and stews that call for lemon or vinegar.

But last night we hit our stride. I bring you: the Feral Lemondrop.

Recipe for Feral Lemondrops
1. Squeeze those warty and maligned juicy oranges.
2. Add sugar or honey to taste (just like lemonade).
3. Add your favorite inebriate - we went with a dry sake and triple sec.
4. Crust the glass rims with unrefined or raw sugar.
5. Enjoy the sweet tang of feral with some ginger cookies or shortbread.

Thanks to the "Feral Princess" for her participation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ancestral Brew in Ireland

This is applied archaeology at its best:

Two hungover scientists decided to test their theory that some Bronze age trenches were made to brew beer.

From the Wired story:

Then they repurposed a cattle trough, filling it with water and placing it in a clay-lined hole. Using granite stones toasted in a nearby fire, the pair heated the water until it was steaming but not bubbling — according to the brewers they consulted, 153 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for breaking down starch into sugar. Then they scooped in barley. After bringing the concoction to a boil, they transferred it to containers, added bog myrtle, meadow sweet, and, of course, yeast — all ingredients available to Bronze Age boozers.

These intrepid truth-seekers knew they were on to something after they got drunk on their dirty trench beer.

Thanks to Archeoblog for the lead.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

the Murky Murk

Besides reflecting on the particularities of marsh ecology, the following quotation also reveals why Luke Skywalker had to train in Dagobah.

"What should the seeker of enlightenment do? Fearlessly look into the seat of the trouble. Where the grief is the strongest, the doubt most disturbing, the turmoil most opaque, the ignorance most dark - that is the place where enlightenment will break through. Lotuses only grow in swamps."
David Brazier, from the Feeling Buddha