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noodlepus, or, how to fox up your chicken soup

Someone made a batch of chx soup at the farm Friday, but put off the noodlemaking because he wanted to use a mixer, and didn’t have one there.

He finally got around to the noodlieoodlieoodles last night, and started running them through the marcato lasagna attachment, which cuts nice, inch-and-a-half wide noodles with a scalloped edge. He wasn’t sure this was the width he was looking for, and he wasn’t especially excited about the scalloped edges, but he noodled boldly forth because it was getting late and the soup had been sitting in the fridge for two days now.

He laid out the noodles along the counter, and threw the strip of excess dough that had run outside the cut in a pile to the side, to ball up and roll out and use for another go when he finished with the first run. But when he glanced over at that little discard pile he was struck by how much it looked to him like the tentacles of an octopus. See for yourself:

Whoa, he said, because there is something deep in him that resonates with the octopus. So he made the rest of the noodles that way. It was, as you can see, unquestionably, utterly, totally worth it. Look at that noodle. Tell me it isn’t hot. Not hot like spicy. Hot like, you know, foxy.

nutmeg and mace: myristica fragrans

I just learned what fresh nutmeg looks like. Here are some visuals to aid in blowing your mind:

Myristica fragrans

myristica fragrans

myristica fragrans

myristica fragrans nutmeg seed

What you buy in the store – if it isn’t ground – is the dried seed (which is inside the brown part inside the red web). But I don’t care about the spice any more. I just want to hold the insides of that fruit. It looks like it should still be beating. I have never seen anything come off a tree that looked so alive.

The shiny red web (the aril) around the seed is mace, another spice (and favored repellent). Two-for-one, this bad boy. About 3% of the oil is toxic, which is why smart guys trying to get high on nutmeg usually come close to dying.

Takes nine years to get fruit from a seedling. And only then if you’ve got a hermaphrodite. Otherwise, you better find your lady a fella, or vice-versa, depending on which it turns out you have. Which makes this one a chancy buy. Which is unfortunately for me not enough of a deterrent. TopTropicals down in FL sells 2-3 yr old seedlings, as well as Plant it Hawaii. Both great shops.

sorry toots, me and cornus kousa got a little thing going.

Mercy child, the geometry of these fruits has got me all sortsa intuned to a spilling-seed-into-the-soil, last-month-of-the-summer last-ditch effort at monoecious reproduction. So hot and yet so smart: so warm and curved and beckoning and still so cold and sharp and hard. Gracious y’all, the intensity of the ambiguity that this fruit pops and locks has got me more than just a little bit flustered.

cornus kousa fruit
cornus kousa fruit in varying states of undress

Dogwood, you have been inaptly named. You are a harder-to-hold pretty, meticulous, and remote kitty than a dirty sloppy hairy best friend. A change is in order, if I may be so bold. May you roll henceforth: Kittywood.

the impossible mangosteen (garcinia mangostana)

My two new mangosteen trees arrived from Hawaii today, looking wonderful. I had pretty low expectations for the size and health of the plants after all my searching and researching. Not only are they nigh-impossible to grow in the US, it seems they’re also pretty hard to come by.

Most of the tropical fruit tree nurseries I’ve been dealing with don’t carry it. And I was nearly tempted by an ebay seller who ships them from Hawaii bare-root, but I bought a rambutan from him a couple weeks ago, and it now looks like death warmed over — I’m not even sure it’s alive — so I figured there was a better route and kept looking.

I finally found another grower, Hula Brothers in Hawaii, selling them for $100/ea. or two for $150, shipping included. I figured what the heck, I’ll most likely lose one, might as well get two, improve my odds. I kept checking the door all day today, and they finally came at five pm. They were the best-looking plants I’ve gotten in the mail yet.

mangosteen treeThat’s probably a five-year-old tree there. Which means just five or six more years until I have a chance at some fruit.

It takes ten years for a mangosteen tree to fruit in favorable conditions, favorable being ultra-tropical always moist and never-lower-than-eighty-degrees kinda weather, preferably on a riverbank. There’s only one known instance of anyone getting one to fruit above the 200th parallel. Some feller in S. Florida got lucky. But I’m going to mimic Thailand/Puerto Rico in a greenhouse, and I’m going to get it to fruit. Mark my words. Check back in six years re: deliciousness.

The fruit is a beaut is the reason for my mania. I have never seen anything so pretty that tastes so good.

mangosteen fruit

pay-per-view

More flagrant than ever before, the garden this spring has been one raucous and debauched carnival of lawless bacchanalian flower sex. Someone asked me how the yard was doing a couple of weeks ago, and the only adjective I could think of to describe it was pay-per-view.

That the bees are back doesn’t hurt: there are more wanton workers barnstorming the sepals, looting the pistils and bracing the stamens than I’ve seen in years. I blush yet at the thought of the countless bodies¬† clumsily adjusting their undergarments, stumbling out of the garden dizzy with the perfume of sex, telltale pollen smeared on their collars.

Of course, that’s nature’s nature every spring. I’m just tuned in to it more acutely this year than any other in memory. I’ve been sublimating pretty hard in 2010, thanks to an especially lusty curiosity and cunning, and an abundance of free time, botanical variety, and midday mead. It all came to a climax today when I realized just how oh-so very badly I want to lay down with this one:

Can that be so bad? Can this particularly innocent instance of polymorphous perversion really have a price? Will Courtney be jealous?

Persnaps, but let this be her consolation: my botanical tryst is short-lived. Alas, this beauty is exceedingly ephemeral: try as I might, I can not preserve these petals. Vivid colors fade, perfect posture wilts, ardor will languish.

And yet!

For whiners like me, there’s always Autumn. The fruit borne this fall will be just another form of the same biological ecstasy, though more visceral and less hysterical, more nourishing and more sustaining, and far more enduring.

Thank you, pesto, for making winter worth living through.

eremurus like octopus

I am beginning to think that the octopus is my familiar, though I am not sure we’re supposed to enjoy our familiars as cuisine as much as I love mine.

Regardless, I like its style.  I like the cut of its jib. I like its inky defense mechanism and its stink-eyed seafloor stare. I like its sucky tentacular gelatinous reach and its super-slick swimability.

So naturally I like things that resemble the ‘pus. Exempli gratia Eremurus rhizomes. Check them:

eremurus-ruiter-cleopatra

I planted half a dozen of these bad boys when the ground thawed for a minute last week. Come spring: kapow!

Cormac McCarthy’s Typewriter

Continuing with the spasm of materialism inhabiting this e-ournal* for the last couple of weeks (it’s the holidays, bub), consider Cormac McCarthy’s Olivetti for auction this friday at Christie’s.

cormac-mccarthys-typewriter

I begged and begged Courtney to buy it for me but no dice. I don’t know what I’d do with it anyway except look at it sitting in the corner.

And write letters to myself from him:

Steve,

What a slamming writer you have turned out to be.

– Cormac

Sigh………..

* Thank you A.H.M for lending this appellation.

boundless wants

continuing in the vein of posting images of pretty things I want, stuff your eyeballs full of these babies:

iwoodecodesign-wood-sunglassesiwoodecodesign makes some badaxe sunglasses outta woot!

They may set you back a pinch, but being all photosensitive like I am I think my doctor might deem them absolutely necessary! But here’s the rub: unless you live in Louisville or enjoy ordering something for your face that you can’t try on first, then you’re out of luck. Most of their bidness is overseas apparently, and these bad boys don’t retail at your local sunglasses carousel. You can order from their site, but without trying them on you’ll be ordering somewhat,ahem, blind.

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