Abstractions: Bold

I could possibly use these in my living room. My walls are a similar yellow, Spiced Butternut from Behr. The color actually looks closer to the yellow here than the online sample. Also, once my paint job is entirely finished (an ongoing saga*), we will hang the red opera banners from the Hannibal series. My husband bid on the banners in the prop auction after the show ended.

The ones below are re-edits of the Pinky Pinks abstractions from a previous post. I just wanted to play around with them a bit more to make them unrecognizable from the originals. I wouldn’t have a room to put these in if I had them printed, though.

*The paint saga:  I wanted bolder paint than the usual greige, beige, cream, or light tan I have always used in common areas. The color I chose is A COLOR. And, it’s in a two story high living room. A LOT OF THAT COLOR.

I haven’t painted all the way to the top. I can’t decide if I am sold on the color. So, my house has been half-painted for over a year now due to indecision. My husband has just resigned himself to living like this because I’m too difficult to deal with on the issue.

Maybe my little abstractions will get me motivated to do something about this problem.

Split/Screen

Small scenes from St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery in New Orleans. I like how the plant appears to grab at death, as if to shoo it away behind the tombs. Or courageously claw at it–protecting us.

But this is an illusion. We are trapped in this maze.The maze is suffocating. Yet, we are are still here walking the same paths over and over bumping into the same obstacles.

I suppose it is better than not existing and not walking the same paths. Then again, I don’t really know that.

All I know is that there is no escape from this path.

That and chickens are delicious dinosaur descendants. Specifically, some kind of T Rex. No really. Chickens are closer to dinosaurs than any other bird.

What will rule humans like we rule chickens? Giant bacteria monsters like  The Blob?  Or giant algae sucking up our oxygen. There was a bacteria which caused a giant oxygenating event  2.3 billion years ago which led to life today. What if algae took over and ate all our oxygen in a “giant de-oxygenating event”?

DOOMSDAY ALGAE.  NO OXYGEN. Do I worry about stupid stuff? Yes! Yes, I do. OR DO I?

st-louis-no-1-air-plant-pink-flower-web
With pink flowers
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Blocked in
st-louis-no-1-air-plant-red-flower-web
With red flowers

More Moss!

Here’s some more pretty winter moss in Austin, Texas. I took these at the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. 16 years in this city, and I never heard of the place until I was researching places to find fossils. My son has a science fair project, so….

I’d feel bad not knowing about the preserver but my husband is from Austin and never heard of it. I think we may need to get out more.

I “underexposed” (AKA exposed for the sun on the moss) these for a dramatic feel.
moss-in-light-web Continue reading “More Moss!”

Abstraction and Shapes: St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

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Geometric Abstraction

Used to be, I could spend hours shooting different angles and vistas in the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans. Now you have to be a part of an official tour group. Why? Rampant vandalism.

Thanks, assholes! Brilliant damn idea to vandalize a cemetery.

how faux-emo of you; gosh, you just rage against the machine; much point made painting a famous tomb a hideous bright pink. MUCH.POINT.MADE.; no narcissists here; fake anarchists

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Angles Blocking and Hidden Horizon

The light side:

At first, the Catholic Church refused visitors other than family members of the deceased. I completely understand. It took thousands of dollars to clean up the stupid mess. I’m not religious, but I do respect history and the emotional connection people have to geographical locations and certain architectural structures. (No, really. I am attached to a couple of tangible items and would be sad if they were damaged by some dumbass.)

The church then decided that visitors would be allowed as long as they are accompanied by a responsible adult AKA a tour guide. Considering what (fake anarchist) people were doing, this is a fair outcome.

Also, I learned a great deal about body decomposition in New Orleans. If I had just been focusing on taking pictures, I would not have learned what I did from my tour guide. The pressure of having two kids with me along with the time limitations also led me to make abstractions and focus on angles instead of documenting the place. I hadn’t done that in the past.

Tour: French Quarter Phantoms  I took two tours from them with Sam, who has a passion for the history of New Orleans. I love historians! Knowledge is power. It’s the one thing no one can take from you.

Moss!

As far as plant cuteness goes, there is a tie between pussy willows and moss. I happened upon a small patch while looking for fossils with my 8 year old.

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Plush moss near Hamilton Pool Road.

This area of Texas is fairly dry and rocky, so you wouldn’t expect to find moss hiding out under the trees. But there it is! Bein’ all cute with its wittle teddy bear fuzz.

Edible Landscaping: What to do with so many peppers?

Lemon Drop Tree: Marmalade

Small Tree, Adapted to Austin This citrus is not a native to Austin. However,  it is well-adapted to the central Texas region in that it tolerates our heat, cold, and varying moisture. It is also very unlikely to become invasive, which is a major concern when you introduce a non-native species to your yard. It’s cute, … Continue reading Lemon Drop Tree: Marmalade

Austin Tea Blend

Proportions 40% Turk’s Cap flowers 50% Bee Balm leaves 10% Mexican Tarragon Native Plants I have experimented with Turk’s Cap for a few years–with entirely mediocre results. I think this is finally a winning recipe. I treated it like a hibiscus flower and dried it for tea. All three ingredients are native to Texas. Turk’s … Continue reading Austin Tea Blend

Why limit your peppers strictly to the garden? There’s no reason why you can’t plant hot peppers as annuals in your landscaping beds. In Texas, they grow easily in the blazing sun and don’t having rampant pest issues. And they are perfect for xeriscaping.

The habanero pepper is a nice choice because of its cute, wrinkled bright orange fruits. That would be a nice addition to an ordinary flower bed. I also recommend the chili pequin bush, a Central Texas native, because it grows very happily in our climate and spreads, or volunteers, with ease.

IDEAS!

I’ve got practical uses for all hot peppers–other than using fresh in salsas. To a certain extent, you can substitute one pepper for another in most recipes. Now, mind you me, don’t go putting the same weight of habaneros in a hot sauce as you would jalapeños. Unless you like burning your innards!

  1. Give them away to neighbors/coworkers/whoever. Seriously, this is the most efficient way to get rid of them. Not very fun, though. But it builds goodwill. :/
  2. Habanero Hot Sauce! Chile Pequin Hot Sauce! 
  3. Jalapeño jelly. I think I go through 1 jar a year. My coworkers and friends appreciate the gifts, though.
  4. Habanero jelly. I’ve seen recipes for making jelly with straight peppers. I haven’t tried that yet. I prefer to mix them with fruit, especially peaches.
  5. Pickling. My preferred method of preserving peppers.
  6. Fermenting. Not as gross as it sounds, I swear! If you’ve had Tabasco, you’ve eaten fermented hot peppers. Here’s a recipe from a home cook.

Eat the landscape: Pickled Peppers

Hot peppers are the perfect small bushes for hot, sunny areas where other plants may not survive. Habaneros are especially cute in the fall because they have orange fruit for your traditional fall color. It can be in short supply here, flaming sumac aside. It is reported that you can eat the fruits of the flaming sumac, but I haven’t tried them yet.

Wait for me to try the flaming sumac fruits, and see if I live to tell the tale before you go do it. If I have posted an unfamiliar native plant in my recipes, I assure you I have eaten it repeatedly with no ill effect. Then I give it to my son to eat and see what happens. He’s my first-born, and thus, the experimental child.

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A colorful mix of peppers and onion on the left and pickled habaneros hiding on the right.

For this giardiniera recipe, I used the puny green bell peppers I managed to grow this year, jalapeños that turned red on the bush, and store-bought onions. The smaller jar contains pickled habaneros.

An Austin restaurant, Azul Tequila, serves a red onion-habanero pickle with their carnitas de puerco dish. I love it, and it is easy to make.  You don’t have to process that pickle dish to use it. YES, EASY PICKLE. You can make this “quick pickle” by soaking the onions and peppers in vinegar for a few hours before serving.

For canning purposes, you’ll have a few more steps. After years of pickling, I have come up with a flavor profile I prefer, but I am not going to throw that at you. My one piece of advice for flavoring is to mix water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a proportion you find tasty. Then pick your choice of herbs/spices. If you don’t like vinegar, you must use another type of acid to lower the Ph. People have actually gotten botulism from home-canned goods.

Then again, some people are gross and leave the Thanksgiving turkey out all night on the table and make soup of it in the morning after the cats gnawed on it. (True story from a friend whose in-laws do not follow proper hand washing technique…and more! My friend did not eat the soup.)

Please, please boil the jars for at least ten minutes. But not the lid with the wax ring. You boil that, you weaken the seal when you put it on your finished product. Anyone who tells you otherwise is working with out-of-date information. Hot, soapy water will clean them sufficiently. No bumpy/jagged edges for the glass, either.

  1. A 3:1 vinegar (does not really matter which kind) to water ratio. Or more vinegar if you like it.
  2. Salt to taste. We aren’t fermenting, so it’s not that important. Only Kosher salt!
  3. Sugar to taste–or none. I like to take the edge off the vinegar with it.
  4. Spices/herbs like mustard seed, peppercorns, or dill. It’s really up to you and the herbs and spices you prefer.
  5. Tightly pack your veggies, and pour the hot brine on them. Leave a bit of space (1/4 inch or so) between the filling and rim. Wipe rim dry with a dampened towel.
  6. Put the lid and band on, and boil for at least 10 minutes. Take out, let cool before storing.

I’ve never had the seal not “pop” shut. But if a jar doesn’t pop shut after a couple of hours, do not store the jar. Process with a new lid.

I have overfilled jars before, which I notice when I put the lid on, try to close the jar, and hot brine overflows. WHOOPS.  Just dump some of the brine out, wipe the rim and lid, and close it again.

 

Austin Tea Blend: Eat the Landscape

40% Turk’s Cap flowers

50% Bee Balm leaves

10% Mexican Tarragon

I have experimented with Turk’s Cap for a few years–with entirely mediocre results. I think this is finally a winning recipe. I treated it like a hibiscus flower and dried it for tea.

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All three are native to Texas. Turk’s Cap prefers partial shade, and the other two require full sun.

I dried my leaves and flowers in the oven over a couple of days. 225F for about 40 minutes the first day–turning them every 10 minutes with a spatula. I let them dry for 2 days in a single layer in my kitchen. Then I put them in the oven again for 15 minutes to fully dry. That did the trick…this time.

Just so you know: Austin is fairly humid, so drying plants is a bit of a challenge. When I made egg white meringues one time, they took about double the time to make than Martha Stewart’s recipe called for. And then they got sticky by the morning. I sent them with my husband to work. LOL. sticky meringues. classy.

Tea bags! If you drink loose tea, you will already have bags, a strainer, or a teaspoon contraption. These are small, inexpensive items just to have around. Or you can take the nuclear option and just pour boiling water over the leaves like a madman.

Chile Pequin Recipe: Eat the Landscape

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Ingredients for a chile piquin hot sauce–Tabasco style.

 

I’ve dried these in the oven before for ground red pepper. You can also wait for them to dry on the plant. Then you cut the stems and shake the peppers off. 

You can pick the green or red peppers and use them in salsa–however you’d use a hot pepper.

There’s a lot of educational stuff below the recipe. Read it if you are interested in using more of your landscape for food. You probably should read it because, you know, zombie apocalypse. You’ll need this information when that happens.

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup chile pequin peppers (AKA Chile petin, Bird pepper, Turkey pepper)
  2. 1/2 cup onion
  3. 1.5 tbsp. minced garlic
  4. 1 cup vinegar
  5. Salt to taste

 

RECIPE (Go see Emeril Lagasse for a better explanation.)

  1. Get a kid to harvest the red berries of the Grand Chile Pequin. This will cost you a few additional dollars for allowance. But the tedium you avoid is worth a 5 note. I don’t use the green berries because they aren’t as fragrant.
  2. Emeril’s recipe: He says 20 serranos or tabascos. Depending on your love of spiciness, get 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the pequin peppers.
  3. A clove or two of minced garlic. I also mush mine with the knife and some salt. Mom taught me to do that.
  4. A half of a medium onion. He says to slice thinly. It hardly matters because:
  5. Sautee for 3 minutes. Put 2 cups of water in and cook down for about 20 minutes until the liquid is gone.
  6. Blender. With a cup of vinegar. He said to use white vinegar, so I did. I doubt something untoward will happen should you use white wine vinegar. BUT WHO KNOWS. I live dangerously.
  7. Sieve it. Then do it again. And again. And again. Until you’ve got more of a liquid than a thick Pepper Smoothie.
  8. Put in a sterile (boiled 10 minutes) jar. Lid. Put in fridge for at least 2 weeks. Because Emeril says so.

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ALL THE GOOD INFORMATION

Chile pequin is an excellent landscaping bush for scorching, dry locations. And you can eat the berries. Well, peppers. Those suckers are hot! I prefer to plant bushes that serve a dual purpose. Either feed me or some animal around here–or be gone. You can’t just sit here looking pretty!

Being a native plant, the piquin has done swimmingly through both the droughts and the rains. It’s found throughout the Americas. If you are in a northern region, it would probably be an annual. But I don’t know that for sure! It dies down to the ground here in cold winters. (Yes, it does get cold in Austin. Not Minnesota cold, but enough to kill most tropical/sub-tropical plants.)

There aren’t a whole heck of a lot of recipes for some of the native landscaping plants you can find in Austin. (winecups…they tell me at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center that you can eat the tubers. Huh.)

But these are chili peppers. Seriously. This is easy. Mash ’em. Fry ’em. Put ’em in a stew. <<<—waaaiiit. That’s taters. That’s the speech Samwise Gamgee gives to Golum. Wrong plant. WAIT AGAIN. Those capsicum annuums are members of the potato family.