Monday, June 26, 2017

Native Plants

Why native plants?

Suburban sprawl and development has led to the fragmentation and disappearance of native flora and natural habitat for both plants and animals.  The crisis in the honeybee population has brought attention to the disappearance of pollinators of other sorts as well.  Many native insects depend on specific native plants for their food source and the disappearance of those native plants leads to the disappearance of those insects.  In turn, these insects are often the primary food fed to baby birds, so a decrease in insect population results in a decrease in the bird population.  We generally see insect-eaten plants as a bad thing but it is a natural part of the food web and we need to appreciate the role of native plants and insects in the grand scheme of life.

Native Plant Societies




Helpful Websites

The Audubon Society at Beechwood Farms in the North Hills offers native plants for sale and has a list of native plants with descriptions.

The Penn State Extension has provided a list of native plants without photos.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources tells you why to landscape with native plants and what to look for.  The site includes a searchable native plant database.

Commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Pennsylvania.  These include a photo.

Bibliography

All of the following books can be obtained from the public libraries in Allegheny County.  Just do a title search in the eiNetwork online catalog: https://librarycatalog.einetwork.net/

Subject Search: Native Plant Cultivation

Armitage's Native Plants for North American Gardens
By A. M. Armitage; Timber Press 2006
Armitage provides an alphabetical guide by scientific name to native plants of North America that make good garden plants.

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control By Jessica Walliser; Timber Press
Jessica Walliser cohosts the Organic Gardener radio show on KDKA with Doug Oster.

Attracting Native Pollinators, Protecting North America's Bees and Butterflies
By The Xerces Society; Storey Publishing 2011
The Xerces Society is a nonprofit that works to save invertebrates (including insects) and their habitats.  Check out their other publications.

Bringing Nature Home
By Doug Tallamy; Timber Press
Tallamy contends that because man has left so few natural areas in the U.S., people have to make their home gardens into habitats that can support wildlife.

Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change
By Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher; Timber Press
"Garden Revolution shows how an ecological approach to planting can lead to beautiful gardens that buck much of conventional gardening’s counter-productive, time-consuming practices. Instead of picking the wrong plant and then constantly tilling, weeding, irrigating, and fertilizing, Weaner advocates for choosing plants that are adapted to the soil and climate of a specific site and letting them naturally evolve over time."

The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden
By Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy;  Timber Press
Darke and Tallamy show how you can make a diverse layered landscape: "one that offers beauty on many levels, provides outdoor rooms and turf areas for children and pets, incorporates fragrance and edible plants, and provides cover, shelter, and sustenance for wildlife."

Native Plants of the Northeast, a guide for gardening and conservation
By Donald J. Leopold; Timber Press 2005
Entries for nearly 700 species of native trees, shrubs, vines, ferns, grasses, and wildflowers from the northeastern quarter of the U.S. and eastern Canada.

Planting in a Post-Wild World
By Thomas Rainer and Claudia West; Timber Press 2015
Rainer and West advocate gardening to bring nature back to cities and gardens by replicating nature’s style: robust and diverse.


Easy-to-Grow Native Plants

These are plants that have grown successfully in my Monroeville garden.

Perennials

Sun
Baptisia, False indigo
Butterfly weed (rather difficult to get established) Asclepias tuberosa
Canadian Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis (reseeds itself)
Canadian Windflower, Anemone canadensis
Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca (spreads aggressively by rhizomes)
Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' (This cultivar clumps instead of invading with rhizomes.)
Monarda didyma (common beebalm)
Obedient Plant, Physostegia virginiana
Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea (the common variety reseeds itself)
Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata (spreads by seeds)
Wild Senna or partridge tree, Senna hebecarpa (flowers covered with bees)

Shade
Allegheny Foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia
Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis
Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum (once established they spread aggressively)
Northern maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum
Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense
Wood poppy or Celandine Poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum (reseeds all over)

Shrubs and Trees
Fringe Tree, Chionanthus virginicus (fragrant flowers)
Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius
Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea
Winterberry,  Ilex verticillata (male & female plants required for berries)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Comida Colombiana

Videos

Video de  Sutamarchán sobre el cocido boyacense que utiliza chuguas y cubios.
Sabores y Saberes Tradicionales de Boyacá (18 minutes)
Sweet y Salado (videos en YouTube sobre como hacer la cocina colombiana).  Tambien tiene un blog con las recetas.


Señal Colombia Los Puros Criollos (TV documentarios de 25 minutos)
Los Puros Criollos Temporada 1

TVAgro: AgroPlay
Muchos videos sobre la agricultura, las artesanías y los animales.

Raices de los Andes

Hay algunas verduras, particularment las raices o los tubérculos, que no se encuentran en los Estados Unidos.  Aun en las ciudades grandes de Colombia, los ibias, cubios, y chuguas no son muy populares excepto en la région de Boyacá.  Esos tres tuberculos se encuentran tambien en Perú, Ecuador y Bolivia bajo nombres differentes.

Ibias  (Oxalis tuberosa)

Variedades de Ibia (Oca) 

En Peru la ibia se llama oca de la lenguaje Quechua.
Cultivariable: How to grow Oca
Wikipedia: Oxalis tuberosa

Cubios (Tropaeolum tuberosum)

Variedades de cubio

Cubios son de la misma familia de los Nasturtiums, la flor del jardín, y también tienen una flor bonita.  En Perú el cubio se llama mashua.

Más información:
Wikipedia: Tropaeolum tuberosum
Cultivariable: How to grow mashua
Southern Illinois University Ethnobotanical Leaflets: Mashua

Chuguas (Ullucus tuberosus)

Variedades de Chugua


Chuguas se conocen también como rubias en Colombia, como ullucos en Perú y como rubas en Venezuela.
Cultivariable: Ulluco

Hoy Cocinas Tú: Cocido boyacense y salsa criolla
Lo tipico de esta receta es en las raices usadas: ibias, cubios y chuguas, ninguno de los cuales se puede conseguir en los Estados Unidos.

Cubio, ibia y ruba, tubérculos marginados en lista de la FAO
Zoom's Edible Plants: Papalisa/Ulloco/Ullucus tuberosus

Arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza)

La arracacha es una planta de los Andes que es muy parecida al apio, inclusive se llama también "apio criollo".  Es usada en sopas como la papa.



Cuando llegué a Colombia en 1973, no me gustaba la arracacha pero dentro de un año estaba usandola en una crema de arracacha.

Videos:

Raíz de la selva tropical

En Colombia las regiones andinas y selváticas están muy juntas y por eso se puede encontrar frutas tropicales y raices andinas en el mismo mercado.  Hay algunas raices tropicales que son muy comunes en cualquier mercado.

Yuca (Manihot esculenta)




Esta raíz se escribe yuca y no yucca lo cual es una mata completamente distinta de la familia Agave.  La yuca se llama tambien manioca y casava y es la planta que nos da la tapioca.  En Colombia la gente ponen yuca en sopas como ajiaco y sancocho y también la fritan como papas fritas.  En los Estados Unidos se puede conseguir la raíz fresca cubierta con cera pero es mejor conseguirla congelada porque es menos trabajo (ya está pelada) y la calidad es mejor.

Wikipedia: Manihot esculenta


Frutas de la familia Solanacea

Lulo (Solanum quitoense)

El lulo es una fruta parecida al tomate, y crece en una planta perenne subtropical del noroeste de América del Sur. En Colombia el lulo es usado en jugos, helados y postres.

Planta de lulo

Lulos
Wikipedia: Solanum quitoense

Tomate de Arbol (Solanum betaceum)

Tomate de arbol es una fruta que cresca en un arbol y es nativo a los Andes de Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia y Chile.  Nueva Zelandia ha cambiada el nombre a "tamarillo".  Se usa para jugos.



Más información:

Uchuva (Physalis peruviana)

En los Estados Unidos se conoce como "ground cherry" y recentemente como "golden berry"; en Sud Africa se conoce como "cape gooseberry".  Se puede comerla fresca or en conservas y hoy tambien se encuetra seca.


Más información:

Frutas de la Pasión

Todas son enredaderes pero son de climas diferentes.

Maracuyá

El maracuyá es muy ácido pero tiene mucho sabor y olor.  Se usa mucho en jugos con bastante azúcar.  Dicen que el maracuyá morado es originalmente de las selvas de Brasil per no conocen exactamente de donde en América del Sur viene el amarillo.

Más Información:
TVAgro Video: Cultivo de Maracuyá (23 minutos)
Wikipedia: Passiflora edulis

Granadilla (Passiflora ligularis)

La granadilla es muy dulce y se puede comer sin azúcar, comiendo las semillas tanto como la pulpa.  Es una fruta originaria de los Andes centrales de Perú pero hoy Colombia es el principal productor a nivel mundial.

Más información:

Curuba (Passiflora mollissima o P. tarminiana)

La curuba (banana passionfruit) crece en los valles de los Andes y no tiene una cáscara dura como el maracuyá y la granadilla.  Como la maracuyá se usa para hacer bebidas porque es un poco ácida.

Más información:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chobani Passion Fruit Greek Yogurt

This stuff is good enough for dessert! I don't usually buy the individual yogurt containers but it looks like I'll have to run out and get 10 more of these for $10 at Giant Eagle. I was really impressed that the maracuya pulp at the bottom actually contained seeds! (Hm. I wonder if I could plant them...)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Slayers, Saviors, Servants, and Sex

Slayers, Saviors, Servants, and Sex: An Expose of Kingdom Fungi by David Moore.

No, it's not an exciting romance or adventure thriller but a nonfiction book about fungi by a mycologist from The University of Manchester.  It's an easy, short (152pp), often humorous read that will get you thinking about fungi and maybe a little more interested in them.  I've loved mushrooms for a long time.  I used to collect boletus up at the lake in summer and was thrilled with all the mushrooms at UC Santa Cruz.  Moore doesn't just talk about mushrooms but about molds like penicillin and other members of the kingdom, about its very long history, and about fungi as offering a solution for many of our problems today.  Fungi are the ultimate cleaner uppers, the decayers, so that they should be looked to for bioremediation, rather than the bacteria. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bon appetit's Italy issue

So I picked up the latest issue of Bon Appetit and I said, oh great! Italian food! So I start paging through it and I read "how to drink like an Italian", which was interesting. I'll have to pick up some Campari. Then there was an article on a bacon burger (Italian?), and another on boiled peanuts and hummus and Japanese pubs, then one on hollandaise sauce; then one on Houston -- at which point I'm asking myself where is this Italian food?? Then one on salmon, and then finally a little reminisence on an Italian mother-in-law; then one on cinco de mayo; then a huge ad on botox; another ad on Turkey; then a cucumber, mint and basil soda recipe; a big ad on Frei Brothers California wine; an ad on tuna; an article on new jersey asparagus -- I'm beginning to dispair!

Finally on page 102 there's "30 reasons we love Italy" followed by Italian dolce (reworked by American chefs of course) and the rest of the articles on Italy. Fortunately there are few ads here so maybe it really was worth the wait! At least they make it easy to tear out all the ads!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sausage Recipes

This is as good a place as any to jot down sausage ingredients. Here are also some tips:
1. Keep the meat cold.
2. Cut the meat in long thin strips to grind it.

Emeril Lagasse's Homemade Mild Italian Sausage
Ingredients
3 pounds well-marbled pork butt, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted fennel seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground anise
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoons dry red wine
Pork casings, optional

Le gourmet TV Hot Sicilian Style Italian Sausage Recipe
Ingredients:
5 feet medium hog casing
4 1/2 lbs lean pork butt
1/2 lbs pork fat
2 tbsp coarse salt
1 tbsp whole fennel seed (sometimes we grind it, sometimes we don't...)
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper to taste - 2 teaspoons is a good starting point for your first time making this


Homemade Wisconsin-Style Bratwurst
•4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes and stored in the freezer for 30 minutes
•1 pound Pork back fat, chopped and stored in the freezer for 30 minutes
•3 tablespoons kosher salt
•1 tablespoon sugar
•1 1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
•1/2 teaspoon coriander
•1/4 teaspoon celery seed
•2 teaspoons ground black pepper
•1/8 teaspoon ground marjoram
•1 1/2 teaspoons dried ginger

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sausages

So Saturday I finally made home-made sausages. I had bought 13.5 pounds of pork shoulder at Costco and I picked up sausage casings at McGinnis's so I was ready. For a long time I had had the equipment: my KitchenAid mixer, the food grinder attachment and the sausage stuffing accessory. I'm not sure what I was waiting for. Maybe inspiration from a simple recipe, which I found in Rosetta Constantino's My Calabria.
It was very simple with sweet paprika, hot paprika, salt, fennel seeds and ground pork. Constantino's mother says that if your hands aren't red after mixing the sausage meat, you don't have enough paprika.


Our first attempt at stuffing wasn't so great, we were using a little funnel for stuffing them and they resulted in rather wimpy sausages. So we compacted the sausage meat so they looked decent and then changed the funnel to the wider one so that more stuffing would be extruded. It was always difficult to find the opening for the casing since they were really thin. But if you fill the 3 foot casing with water, it's easier to gather it up around the funnel mouth.





These are the hog casings soaking in cold water. They came in 3 foot lengths, tied together. You gather the hog casing up around the funnel mouth, turn the mixer on high speed, and start pushing the sausage meat through the grinder.
You need two people to fill the sausages. One to push the meat through the grinder and the other to gradually pull out the casing. After the first string of sausages, we were almost experts!

And yes, we were very proud!