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.