Sunday, August 29, 2010

Potatoes and a Volunteer Avocado

What could be more exciting than digging up potatoes?

Possibly discovering that the "unknown" seedling that had taken hold in your garden turned out to be an avocado plant!:

Still had the brand decal on the seed too:

If only we could actually grow these babies for real and get fruit for guacamole!

Cooking Frenzy

Sometimes Sundays are for cooking, eh? Today we got going on cooking and ended up with a respectable amount of stuff for the week.

Jennifer made lentil soup...

...and stored it in handy, lunch-size jars:

She also baked some squash....

...that Steve then pureed in preparation for a squash-millet pot-pie scheduled to be made later in the week:

While all of this was going on, Steve made a quadruple batch of pie dough two of which were saved for the aforementioned pot pie and the other two for quiche and tart cherry pie!

We ate some for lunch...

...and then packaged the rest up for the weeks' work lunches. Cooking can be fun!

Friday, August 27, 2010

More caterpillars plus a little more...

It's caterpillaring time for us and we are having so much fun! Here's the remainder of our Battelle Darby Creek caterpillar pictures from last weekend plus a couple from today - same location. Check out this post for Part 1.

Yellow Bear - Variable Colors (Virginian Tiger Moth)

Spotted Apatelodes (moth)

Fall Webworms (moth)

Fall Webworm Adults? (let us know your thoughts)

Checkered-Fringe Prominent aka Morning Glory Prominent (moth)

Hickory Tussock (moth)

Eastern Comma (butterfly)

Banded Tussock (moth)

We use David Wagner's Caterpillars of Eastern North America all the time for identifying caterpillars and cross referencing food plants. If we don't know a caterpillar, but know the food plant we look up the food plant in Wagner's book and see what caterpillars use that plant as a host plant. It's worked very well for us thus far.

If you've noticed our sparser blog posts it's because Jennifer started her job as an environmental educator with Columbus Metro Parks at Inniswood Metro Gardens a couple of weeks ago. We're adjusting to our new schedule, but life is good. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars!

A good friend of ours visited us this past weekend and found our first spicebush swallowtail caterpillar! We're always scouting out spicebush and sassafras for these cool cats, but found no success until now. Thanks for your great eye Beth!

Jen & Beth checking out the caterpillars...

Early in the spicebush caterpillar's life they look like bird droppings; pictured is a 3rd or 4th instar....

The 5th instar looks like a snake! How cool is this guy? The "eyes" are not really eyes and are used as a defensive mechanism against birds. The real head is up top and tucked under a bit.

Another view of a 4th instar caterpillar. Once we found one, we found many others!

And finally, the caterpillar that caught Beth's attention, a prepupal caterpillar. Before the caterpillar wanders and finds a place to pupate (turn into a chrysalis) the body changes from green to yellowish orange. WOW!

We hiked the Dyer's Mill trail at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and found many other caterpillars on this same hike...that's part 2!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Steve's Trail Mix Cookies

Adapted from this recipe, Steve came up with a big winner by changing up the flours and adding some classic trail mix goodies:

Steve's Trail Mix Cookies (alterations are in Blue Font):
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup each of white flour, whole-wheat flour, flaxseed meal and wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup each of carob chips, sunflower seeds, pepitas and cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. Grind oats in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in carob chips, sunflower seeds, pepitas and cranberries.
3. Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until firm around the edges and golden on top, about 15 minutes.

Here they are, fresh out of the oven:

And up close:

Even Bobcat loves 'em!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Coming to a Combustable Near You

If you value your forested natural areas, read this and keep abreast of it in your area.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Day at Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve

The Nature Conservancy's Big Darby Headwaters preserve is a splendor of woodlots, wooded drainageways and recovering oldfields. The latter is our favorite for summer exploration because the profusion of blooming wildflowers attract so many interesting insects. Here's a scene that typifies the uplands of much of Darby Headwaters.



Teasel (left) and Queen Anne's Lace:

Common Wood Nymph:

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail:

Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar:

Gray Comma:

Gray Comma:

Hackberry Emperor:

Jagged Ambush Bug:

Monarch Caterpillar:

Flower (morning glory family):

Pipevine Swallowtail:

Red-Spotted Purple on Boneset:

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Teasel:

Viceroy Caterpillar:



A couple of cool fungi we came across while in the woods:

Jennifer got this great shot with a beautiful sky and a Tiger Swallowtail in flight: