Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ravioli Is Sooooo Easy!!! Part 1 of 2

If the thought of canned ravioli makes you shudder then make your own - I did it a couple of weeks ago and it was just so darn simple and easy. Here's the basic dough recipe:

Just mix the flour and salt and then add the (beaten) eggs and water and mix until just-mixed:

Knead (adding water if it does not form a cohesive dough) about 5 minutes and then form into a ball then form into a flat disc and put in the frig. while you...

...grate up your vegetables of choice and...

...mix into the vegetables something to hold them together. I used cottage cheese, feta cheese, olive oil and lemon juice, basil and garlic. Don't worry about how much - just mix things together until you get a paste-like consistency. Extra filling can be spread on bread and toasted for a quick snack.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface:

Once you've rolled the dough out pretty thin, cut it in half:

Put dollops of filling, evenly spaced, on one half of the dough:

Brush some beaten egg between the dollops (this is supposed to help seal the dough when you boil the ravioli, however I've made this a second time and didn't use the egg and it worked just fine that way too):

Plop the other half of the dough on top of the filling side and carefully push down between each filling dollop so that they are sealed all-around (try not to have air pockets w/in the ravioli):

Cut them out with a sharp knife and lay out on floured plates making sure that all edges are sealed:

Drop them in a pan of boiling water. When they float they are done (takes about 5 minues):

Next time: the sauce!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Late Summer & Sitting Bull Falls

So - lots been going on here...what with work and gardening and keeping up with cooking. We've squeezed in a little crafting - Jennifer knitting and Steve & Jennifer taking a tin smithing class at the university. We promise photos of those things sometime soon. It's a little harder now to blog regularly and share all we want to, but sometime soon we also plan on blogging about some of the food we've prepared recently. Even with our super busy schedule we are finding time to cook simple from scratch meals. Jennifer is planning on a zucchini lasagna on Friday...we are still getting so much zucchini from our garden. Last weekend we went back to Sitting Bull Falls/Spring. What a beautiful day we enjoyed! Here's some photos of the day:

One of the pools formed by the springs...

Jennifer enjoying...

A super cool little grotto with ferns...

Steve enjoying...

The reflection in the water...

A crevice spiny lizard out on a rock face...

Wavyleaf Climbing Milkweed seed pods...

Cardinal Flower...

Salvia Summa Supreme...

Black-waved Flannel Caterpillar?

As-of-yet unidentified caterpillar found crawling on Steve...

As-of-yet unidentified skipper nectaring on Cardinal flower...

Red Satyr...

Southern Dogface nectaring on Cardinal Flower...

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

We've Struck Green Gold !

Hatch, New Mexico is the chile capital of the world and that means that we (being fairly close to Hatch) get 30 pounds of freshly harvested chiles for $19.99 !!

And the local grocery store where we buy them roasts them up for free:

And if that were not enough value, you can make a peasant sack dress from the bag:

Even the cats approve:

Just dump 'em in the sink:

...admire the still-steaming-from-the-roaster charred green-ness:

...and bag 'em up for freezing:

We've already made green chile sauce and then made a bean-rice-green chile pie. It was so darn good, we'll have to post the recipe next time we make it. Celebrate your local produce :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another Harvest Session

Our garden is a-crankin' !! From upper left: sunflower, hubbard squash, zucchini, (in the colander are tomatoes, black-eyed peas, lemon cucumbers and chiles):

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yeh - we're stylin'

Steve working on a revegetation site...

Jennifer gearing up for the bat flight program...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Citizen Science: try it out at your place - it's fun!

Xerces Society compiled a great list of citizen science projects you can practice in your own backyards - so of course we had to share. Paying attention to the creatures and happenings on your own little piece of land or apartment balcony is super important and adds up to quite a bit of data when added with other folks observations. Try it out at your's fun! Click here to check out these programs. Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer Wonders

We were quite fascinated this past weekend...

by these damselflies mating...

and laying eggs in the desert stream at McKittrick Canyon...


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Flannel Moth Caterpillars, Cute But Deadly...

Yesterday we were hiking in an exceptional desert canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains and came across this cute little caterpillar hanging out on a bigtooth maple:

Jennifer's sleuthing revealed that is it a larval stage of the Black-waved Flannel Caterpillar. On its way to becoming a Yellow Flannel Moth, this fuzzy little critter appears cuddly but beware because, as David L. Wagner/Caterpillars of Eastern North America says, "...flannel moth larvae are among our most well-defended insects. Beneath the soft outer hairs are warts fortified with hollow, poison-filled stinging spines that are capable of delivering painful particularly large Amazonian species reaches more than 8 cm; stings from this behemoth, "el raton" (the rat) have purportedly resulted in human deaths."

Wow! Good thing we have a look-but-don't-touch policy. Still, this little one is very cute, we maintain (and deserves to be able to defend itself):

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lavender Lemon Balm Cookies

I just finished baking a batch of these tasty cookies and thought I would share the recipe. I used lavender from the Three Rivers Food Coop and lemon balm from our garden. I found the base recipe at and it follows with my changes in bold.

2 tbsp minced lemon balm leaves
1 tbsp lavender with extra for garnish
1 tsp lemon juice (I used 1 tsp lemon extract instead and may use 1.5 tsp next time for an even stronger lemon flavor)
1 c butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
1 egg
2 1/3 c all-purpose flour (unbleached white)
1 tsp salt (this was accidentally omitted in the original recipe)
Whole lemon balm leaves for garnish (I used lavender instead)

In small dish, combine first 2 ingredients, press mixture with back of spoon to blend. (I just added the above two ingredients in with the rest and did not do the first step.) In large mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and lemon mixture. Gradually beat in flour and salt. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Roll in wax paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On wax paper slice into slices about 1/8" thick. On ungreased cookie sheet bake 8 to 10 minutes. Will brown slightly around edges. Yield: about 60 cookies.

I was impatient this evening so chilled the dough about 1 hour and then rolled little dough balls and smashed them on the cookie sheet with my hand. I then sprinkled a little bit of lavender on top and cooked as instructed above. YUM!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rustic Sphinx Caterpillar

Steve found this caterpillar munching on a Desert Willow near the employee picnic tables at work. We watched this bad boy for a few days and estimated his length around 4 inches upon last sighting. So big and so beautiful! Check out a little more information here if you are interested. This caterpillar turns into a really neat moth and is pictured here. The pupa is pictured here.

Hope ya'll are enjoying a great week!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Black-Eyes Peas

Remember that band - The Black-Eyed Peas? Yeah, me neither.

So here's the real mccoy - blacked-eyed peas from our garden:

So what's the difference between a pea and a bean? Not much. All peas and beans are in the same family of plants known as Legumes. The incredible thing about legumes (other than their beautiful flowers) is that they "fix" nitrogen. Plants cannot use nitrogen directly from the atmosphere (as they can other atmospheric gases such as oxygen and hydrogen) so they must get it from the soil. Soils are generally low in available nitrogen. What to do? Long, long ago the first agrarian people figured out that rotating crops worked better than growing the same crop in the same spot year after year. The reason for this, and the reason its been done ever since, is that the rotations always included a legume (which helped the other plant in the rotation by providing them with nitrogen). In a symbiotic relationship as old as the first terrestrial plants, leguminous plants and a soil bacterium work together to benefit each other - the former gets nitrogen, the latter gets carbon for energy. Suffice it to say, without legumes we'd be up a creek without a paddle, foodwise (and barren-land-colonization-by-plants-wise).

Back to the black-eyed peas. They dry quickly on the plant and are very easy to shell:

Check out these beauties:

The pods are engineered with a twist that propels the seeds (peas) away from the mother plant; think Witch Hazel if you are East, think Screwbean Mesquite if you are west (the former is not a legume, the latter is - the seed propulsion mechanism is not specific to any one plant family).

Its a start!!

You can even tie the pods up for a start on your harvest season decorations:

Black-eyed peas from the garden - way cooler than any formulated pop band, we think!