Thursday, July 16, 2020

Cilantro Life

Even though I love having lots of fresh cilantro from the garden, I don't despair when the hot weather makes it bolt. Sooner or later cilantro wants to fulfill its destiny and make seeds. You'll know this is happening because the stems lengthen and thicken, and the new leaves stop growing flat and wide; they become narrow, feathery. Then come the flowers, sprays of tiny, white blossoms. Enjoy the flowers, and enjoy the bees that will come, too. They love cilantro flowers. All parts of the plant are edible, and you don't want to miss out on what comes next!
These are coriander seeds, and they came from my cilantro plants. In cooking, the dried fruit we know as coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant, and it's a wonderful and popular flavor in many dishes, including garam masala, albondigas, sausages, and pickling. I keep mine whole, until I am ready to cook with it. Toasting it will heighten the intensity of the citrus-spicy flavor. I crush and grind the dry seeds in my molcajete, a traditional Mexican mortar and pestle.
When cilantro has bolted, the plant gets surprisingly tall, and I love seeing it in the garden, white flowers floating in the breeze. The flavor of the leaves intensifies, though there are fewer to collect. That's ok, I am looking forward to seeing the seeds form. Each tiny white flower, with help from the bees, will make fruit, the coriander. I want them to stay on the plant as long as possible, so they have time to mature, ripen, get round, and full. And as this happens, the plant will look pretty scraggly, acabado. Don't be too hasty to pull it up!
I let my cilantro hold the seeds for as long as possible, and about when the plant keels over, I pull it up from the roots, and find a place to hang it, so the seeds can dry and harden a bit more. I pulled mine out on July 5th, and by the 8th, I saw they were turning from bright green to a pale green, almost golden color. Also, they were attracting birds! Time to save the seeds!
I snipped off the umbels... the stalks of short stems. The seeds are still holding on and this is, along with the hint of green, a sign that they should dry a bit longer. They will dry and harden in this old pan.
This pan has been sitting in my kitchen for seven days. Most of the seeds are golden to toasted brown, and you may notice the distinct ridged texture of the globular fruit... it is a schizocarp. It's time to collect the seeds, a favorite activity of mine. I simply roll or pop the seeds from the stems. They are dry and ready to come off easily. Tiny bits of dried flower parts come off, too, and those can be seperated with a metal strainer. I'm not too concerned about it.

If I am lucky, some of the seeds stayed in the garden bed, and the cilantro will reseed itself. But just in case, I will be planting seeds in a cooler part of the garden, since hot summer days are coming. And I will have plenty of coriander left for cooking with, as well.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Oh, Just Ugh

1. I am sad. I started to list the reasons why, and... ok. yeah. nevermind. Or is it never mind? 2. Even though I committed to crocheting a blanket using the yarn I have on hand, I have already broken with my virtuous scheme, and ordered a few more skeins of yarn. I mean, please, it's no good using all the colors on hand, if they're going to clash. It's bad enough I use cheap acrylic yarn, I don't want to make a green, lavender, blue, yellow, teal, burgundy, and grey blanket. I was progressing at a happy rate, then realized that I don't want to get much further, before introducing the colors that I ordered, because I am still going for "harmonious, scrappy, pleasing, random, organic, unassuming, yet very pretty." Good grief, that sounds like a trope... the young woman in the movie that wears glasses, and scrappy shoes, has no idea she's beautiful. She's plucky and resourceful, a misunderstood outsider on the verge of greatness, brilliant, yet humble, poor, yet not weary enough to look down-trodden. Yeah, that's the blanket I am shooting for!
3. Here's something I wanted to share on Instagram. In Stories. Stories is a nice place to test something out, because it can be deleted, and it disappears after 24 hours. But it turned out longer than expected and I can't get the whole thing to load. I want a tech wand. A wave of my wand and I would understand why one time I had a very long video, and an IG window popped up and asked, "Would you like this long video to upload?" No pop up window option, this time. I'll post it here, instead. No. Nevermind. Never mind. No spellcheck. No autocorrect. No paragraph breaks. And no videos over five minutes. Back to point 1: I am sad.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Travel Anniversary

Maria baked a cake for me and Geoff, for our wedding anniversary. Actually, she baked two cakes! The other was vanilla. Every year Geoff and I like to think of our own anniversary gift theme, because often the traditional ones have so little appeal. Usually our choices are based on what we have going on, like the year we were landscaping and finishing our home and concrete was being poured... that was 13 years, our Concrete anniversary. Last year we started riding bicycles, and that was our Bicycle Anniversary, for 30 years of wedded bliss. Around the dinner table, Geoff and I shared funny moments from our wedding with everyone. Then someone wondered aloud, What's the 31st anniversary gift? Cruelly, it's a really good one, folks: Travel! We all groaned and laughed at the irony.
We travel. We go from the backyard to the front yard, and upstairs, then downstairs. And 'round and 'round our neighborhood on our bicycles. We visit the driveway, linger at the gate, pop into the lab, kick back on the porch.
Most of my tours are of the garden, which is obvious, I suppose. I think this week could be the end of the wildflowers, even though I water them. Real summer is coming on, hot summer. More sun, higher temperatures, and I see the tiny flowers, shriveling up. Now, besides taking pictures, I am collecting seeds. I still don't know the names of many of these blossoms, and finding their seeds is a bit of a mystery, too, which I like. I enjoyed some quiet and contented hours sorting through dried stems and flower heads, seperating their parts, and saving the seeds. On Instagram, I wrote, So much is unsettled and disrupted by the pandemic, and the delays, the cancelled plans are frustrating, sad. More than ever, I am so glad to have gardening opportunities... even a pot and soil would suffice. When I cannot plan a vacation, anniversary travel, or know what school will be for Maria, when jobs, healthcare, even simple outings are uncertain, complicated, it's a relief to grow things. Gardening is a welcome activity. I enjoy pulling up weeds, adding fresh herbs to dinner, and watching for new sprouts. Best of all, I love the moments when I imagine and anticipate the next season, next year, the next garden. It's hope, and faith, and purpose. My mind finds relief from worry, from over-thinking the many things that I have no control over. It's soothing, comforting, to do even simple things like sorting seeds, anticipating harvests. I wish everyone could know this meditation, this immersive and healing activity.
Alex is hammering brass, a piece that he will shape into a bosse for his wolf shield.
William got the riding mower running again. The battery had died, so Geoff ordered a new one. The mower was a dead thing that came with the house, but Geoff repaired it, and he and William have kept it running all these years. Just as William started mowing the long grass, the goats leaned in and opened the gate. It seems they couldn't resist the chance to help trim the lawn!
Yesterday, Geoff called me over to see the rack he bought. It's made to add a basket to the bicycle. We rummaged around and found just the thing to suit for a bike basket, which I scrubbed clean, then I watched him add it to the back of my bicycle. I took this picture, happy in my red gingham dress, happy having watered the corn sprouts, happy talking to Geoff and watching him work, happy in the shade, happy imagining all the possible things I could load in the new basket, all of the reasonable and fanciful possibilities. ***************** It smells like cedar at this end of the house. Here's a link showing all the firewood we ordered... this time we are using it up much faster, because of our Driveway Theater gatherings. I think we've already burned at least a third of it. (We will see if I got a paragraph break between basket talk and cedar talk. Blogger has introduced a whole new editing format, and one thing I can't figure out is how to get spaces between paragraphs. Oh, and one more thing: There's no auto-correct for spelling! Horrors! I can spell, and I do try to proofread, but after 18 years of blogging with the help of auto-correct, or at least the red underline that suggests a misspelling... yeah, this is hurbble. lol. I see from the preview, I still haven't figured it out...)
Dahlia came back! This was a gift from Karen, AKA Mrs. Snacky. It bloomed last year, and then seasons changed, and life and time did their thing, and fortunately, the tubers didn't get dug up, nor tossed out, so it just slept, all safe and snug, and now it's back. Having happy memories, gives me another way of traveling... back in time, revisiting, places, and events, recalling friends, and all of the goodness we've shared.
Ta-da! It's an old recycling bin.
Do you remember, in 2016, when someone threatened that electing Hillary Clinton would bring taco stands to every corner? Tacos. That's the least of what we've lost. Anyway, I have an obsession with food carts, and baskets, with mobile libraries, deliveries, sharing, packing up essentials and trekking out on an adventure. I can see these things might seem random, disparate... but they are, somehow, in my mind, very much a common thread, and my head is full of fanciful possibilities. I wish I could ride around with this basket full of yarn, or a chicken, or bunnies, or things to giveaway, to share, like tacos, or bread, or books, craft supplies, flowers. Someday, I will ride a bicycle between two points, and carry all I need, and share the adventure and whatever I bring with me. I will mark my progress on a paper map, take pictures, then come home and unpack all of the memories, before planning the next ride. I am saying this, a sacred wish, in hopes of seeing it come true.
I've started crocheting, again. I finished at least three works in progress, and have a cupboard full of shawls. They are emotional and physical insulation from the hard, crashing bits of life. Now, I am switching to making a blanket, because I need something with more coverage. I am on a mission, to use up the yarn on hand. Hopefully, it will look colorful, yet harmonious, random, but still pretty.
After giving up on rooming with goats and hens, I traveled to a cozy place, like a cabin, or a treehouse. After sunset, it's cool and full of the soft sounds of night, like owls calling, and crickets singing. I watch the moon rise, Jupiter, and Mars. In the morning Venus shines, or everything is hidden in mist. Maria moved in, too. And the cats. Geoff works late, then peers in, smiling. I love him, where we have been, and our ideas, our hopes, our life in a home with a view.