Friday, July 18, 2014

beetles with taste

When A and I first arrived down in southern NM and got a house, we planted fruit trees right away. Even if you're not sure you'll be in a place long, if you get fruit trees in the ground you might get a crop before you know it and, in the Land of Entrapment, it's never wise to predict moving on. Consequently, we put in two cherries, an apricot, and a peach. One of the cherries and the apricot promptly died and the other cherry tree gave up last spring, but the dwarf peach has carried on and this year we've actually been getting a decent batch of peaches off of it.

Alas, despite netting to avoid the depredations of birds and red squirrels, we're still sharing way too much in the way of peach flesh.

The culprits?

Based upon one miscreant caught in the act from this picking, at least some of them are click beetles.

Regardless of the losses, we're pretty happy that our tree is producing in its fourth year. Not enough fruit to can or even freeze, but enough for sliced peaches in the morning or over homemade vanilla ice cream. Peaches, like tomatoes, are one of those fruits that are best ripened all the way on the vine and then eaten fresh. I don't think I've ever purchased a decent peach in a grocery store. Next year, if it looks like we'll get peaches again we'll look at some control so we don't have to share quite as much with them.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

summer and bbq

Today dawned cool-ish, cloudy, and very humid with some puddles from an overnight shower. I'll take it as a good portent for the rest of the summer, as it always seems to me that the monsoon season should start around Independence Day if we are going to have a good one.

Chad Love recently posted about the drought continuing in his end of the near-Southwest. In contrast, southeast NM has the prospect of at least approaching "abnormally dry". After no precip for the first four and a half months of the year, we got a big storm in late May followed by some decent rain in June. If the afternoon thundershowers come through for the rest of July and into August, we might actually see some birds this year and the deer, elk, antelope, etc. that have made it this far might go into the winter in decent shape.

Many years we celebrated Independence Day by taking advantage of the opportunity to go up to a wine festival near Santa Fe which features New Mexico wines. That festival is a bit further down the road, so this year we contented ourselves with work, house work, and making another foray into cooking ribs.

This year it was back ribs. A little salt and pepper is all they got before going onto the barbecue, indirect heat only with smoke from oak splits, four and a half hours at around 200 F.
A cold beer and some light reading make tending the fire and the meat barely any work at all.

Meanwhile, sauce, this one a ketchup based recipe with lots of added acid and a fair bit of heat, along with diced onion and celery. I'd post the recipe, but it isn't mine to share.

For the last hour and a half or so, I wiped the meat with the sauce every ten to fifteen minutes to create a glazing. The sauce and glazing technique are both from A's father, who has been making fantastic ribs in a well seasoned  mushi kamado pot for decades. Lacking a ceramic pot steeped in years of smoke and vaporized meat essence, not to mention anything like the amount of practice, I didn't get to quite the same result. Nonetheless,

at the risk of bragging, they came out pretty well. The low heat kept the sauce from burning except on the very ends of the bones, where it formed little crunch bits of carcinogenic goodness, and the meat was nicely seasoned and glazed. Another hour on the heat would have been good, but the meat still falls of the bone. The layer of connective tissue on the inside of the ribs wasn't quite to the point that it completely falls apart, hence the call for an extra hour. All I needed was an earlier start, another couple of chapters to read, and another Shiner (or so).

In a completely uncompensated endorsement, if you can find it, I'd strongly recommend accompanying your summer grilled meats (or winter elk frites) with Korbel's "Rouge"

A medium-dry sparkling pinot noir/cabernet blend, this is a medium bodied red that goes well with well handled game, not so tannic that it overpowers the meat, but still handles the richness of barbecued ribs well. At +/- $12 a bottle, it isn't too much of an extravagance to go with a nice dinner.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

interface, part 2

Last year we had cat and squirrel through the glass. Come the new year, the parties have stepped up their game a bit:

Getting up into the tree, the cat can't quite keep up with the tree rat.

So, he takes his metaphorical ball and goes home (look on the right side of the trunk, one cat-height above Tommy's back).


Sunday, February 23, 2014


Ragweed, kochia, grass, creasote bush, or elm, all take second seat to juniper, which fills the eyes with tears and the air with sneezes come this time of year in the Southwest.

That isn't dust, it's pollen knocked loose by a thrown stone and a small portion of what that tree is producing right not. The occasional 70 degree day in February doesn't come without a price.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Another season gone

Last weekend marked the end of quail season here, which is pretty much all she wrote until spring turkey and then the long slow spell (hunting-wise) before dove and grouse in September.

We didn't take much advantage of our opportunities, work again interfering with life. This was a surprisingly decent quail year and, if it will just rain or snow a bit in the next couple of months and we get a normal monsoon in the summer, next year might be pretty good. That said, my folks and sister came out for an early 76th weekend for Dad and only bumped three coveys in two days and a whole lot of miles. The first of those was gratifyingly large, well over 20 birds, but took off down a thirty mile an hour tailwind and flew way, way out there. We pursued nonetheless but never found them.

The second day of our hunt, the weather went from 70 degrees with a thirty mile an hour wind to 28 degrees and overcast, all day long. One of the coveys we ran into flushed at 200 yards and flew another six, then flushed wild a second time and just about went out of sight. Late season, tough hunting.

A month ago, back around the end of duck season, A and I headed north up to our old stomping grounds on the Rio Bravo and got together with friend Matt for a weekend of duck hunting.  The first day didn't go real well, as we hadn't been out scouting. We found a spot in the dark where a half dozen mallards were roosting in a nook of the current, but ducks passing over once light came were few  and not interested in our spot. The flood last September took out a lot of  sediment and the river isn't as spread out as it has been in other years, making it a little harder to find a setup. Our second day, we had a much better place and had ducks trying to land as we were putting out the decoys.

It wasn't perfect, though, and several big bunches of mallards gave us hard looks and circled, but wouldn't commit. A pair of widgeon tried to land in the dekes- those we just flat missed. At the end of the day, we had a few birds and quite a bit of fun.

 So, now the big game proclamation is out and the deadline to apply for next fall's hunts is fast approaching. Time to sit down with a calendar, a map, and the odds from last year's draw to try to figure out how to get the best out of a little time afield and maybe put some meat in the freezer.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Are you gonna eat that?

Turkey vulture trying to face a ferruginous hawk off of his kill, just outside of town:

Not much more detail in the photo available, as this is a crop from a long shot. The birds were on private land, preventing a closer approach.
A's photo.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

A happy and prosperous 2014 to all y'all- tight lines, smooth swings, a favorable breeze, steady hold and a smooth release...