Hot and sweet

It's easy to grow lots of peppers even in Vermont. Jalapeños are in the upper left corner.

It’s easy to grow lots of peppers even in Vermont. Jalapeños are in the upper left corner. November 3, 2014

While I was putting a finish on the first pint of maple syrup of the season today, I also processed the peppers from last season. On a visit to New Orleans in November my friend Shannon introduced me to the idea of making Louisiana hot sauce. I had never considered doing this, but I had just harvested several gallons of Jalepeño peppers, so when I returned to Vermont I stemmed and seeded all the bright red ones, chopped them up and covered them with brine. The jar quickly started to produce bubbles of CO2, so I added a bubbler to let the gas escape but keep air and bacteria out. You can see it working in the video below.

Today I pureed it in the blender and added several tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Instead of just bottling it, I boiled it first. I guess that destroyed all the probiotic benefits the fermentation might have added, but I thought it might keep longer. I should have bottled some without boiling to see how it did.

Gas Ice Bait Beer

Everything you need in Chauvin, Louisiana.

Everything you need in Chauvin, Louisiana.

The levee of Bayou Petit Caillou supports the long strip of houses that is Chauvin and Cocodrie, the narrowest towns I have ever seen. Way down delta in Louisiana, you are either on the levee, in the bayou, or somewhere out in the salt marsh. For exactly 100 years, Cecil Lapeyrouse’s Grocery has been on the levee. Today most of the houses are seasonal, and the store gets by with business from people coming down to shrimp or fish or have fun. We stopped by on our exit from the LUMCON Marine Center in Cocodrie where Public Lab held its annual meeting. That had fallen into the fun category.

Its not a problem that the old Chevy on the levee takes up a prime parking spot. I think this car is exactly as old as I am. And in better shape.

Its not a problem that the old Chevy on the levee takes up a prime parking spot. I think this car is exactly as old as I am. And in better shape.

There is more stuff for sale than for display only, but it is close.

There is more stuff for sale than for display only, but it is close.

Most of these cameras seem to have more than half the age of the store.

Most of these cameras seem to have more than half the age of the store.

Titan 2 launch

Teddy launching the Titan 2 under a Flowform 16.

Teddy launching the Titan 2 under a Flowform 16.

I almost didn’t make it to the farm yesterday because 1) one of my A590s died, 2) the old CHDK sync mode does not work with A590s, and 3) it took me a while to install and learn how to use the new CHDK. Teddy almost didn’t make it because I was not sufficiently explicit about which gate I meant and he waited at the other gate. But we were flying the Sutton Flowform 16 by 5:00 PM in a janky 15 mph north wind with gusts of 20 mph. The Titan 2 Rig made its maiden flight with two A590s triggered by an MK111 timer.

The Titan 2 Rig with two A590s triggered in sync by an MK111 timer.

The Titan 2 Rig with two A590s triggered in sync by an MK111 timer.

One of the A590s was full spectrum (its IR block filter had been removed), and it had a 720 nm IR filter in front of the lens. So that camera saw mostly near infrared light. I white balanced that camera on grass, and the photos have a little color in them. We took 565 pairs of visible/infrared pairs over the Middlebury College Organic Farm. The cameras were aimed straight down, but the wind was swinging the Picavet quite a bit, so we got lots of slightly oblique photos, and more than 100 of the pairs were before or after the flight part of the flight. The shutter speed on both cameras was locked at 1/800 second at ISO 80, and most of the photos were taken at f 2.8. Some of the NIR photos were taken at f 2.6 (the max aperture), but there was not much difference in exposure between the two cameras. About 80% of the photos have no conspicuous motion blur.

Pleurotus

The fallen aspen tree spanning my pond. Dinner was the second cluster from the left.

The fallen aspen tree spanning my pond. Dinner was the second cluster from the left.

Just sauteed in butter on freshly baked bread.

Just sauteed in butter on freshly baked bread.

A year ago on my birthday Galen gave me the 2006 update to Orson Miller’s mushroom field guide, with no knowledge that I had the old one or a dozen other mushroom books. This year he gave me Eugenia Bone’s 2011 Mycophilia, with no knowledge that it is a wonderfully smart and funny book about mushrooms and the people who make and use knowledge about mushrooms. I am reading it now, so when I noticed the profusion of oyster mushrooms sprouting from the aspen log across the pond, I was primed to act.

The common oyster mushroom is Pleurotus ostreatus, but there is apparently an almost indistinguishable species around here that likes aspens and cottonwoods, so this might be Pleurotus populinus. That made it more exciting to have it for dinner since I really didn’t know what species it was. It was also exciting because it was an excellent dinner.

Graft

Black Prince, a variety of Russian Krim tomato that I tried for the first time this year.

Black Prince, a variety of Russian Krim tomato that I tried for the first time this year. September 14.

I first heard about grafting tomato plants two years ago, but hot house tomato growers have been doing it for a while, and in other countries grafting has been an important way to increase vegetable production for decades. It was so important in Japan that a robotic grafting machine was developed in 1993. By grafting desirable tomato varieties onto selected rootstocks, generally increased vigor and also specific resistance to root-borne diseases is gained. My tomatoes have failed in two of of the last four years, so I decided to try grafting last year.

Buddles

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Stream in Soldiers Delight. I can't remember where this is. Fall 1973.

Stream in Soldiers Delight. I can’t remember exactly where this is. Fall 1973.

As a kid, my favorite thing about Soldiers Delight was playing in the streams. They were very different from all other streams I knew, which were muddy. In Baltimore County walking in a stream generally meant walking in mud. The water in Soldiers Delight streams was clear, and the stream bottoms were mostly stoney. The stream banks were also grassy and sunny. Streams elsewhere could be sunny, but even managed streams through pastures or parks were often lined with a thicket of woody plants. At Soldiers Delight long stretches of streams were lined only with tall grasses and wildflowers. Plus there were minnows and frogs and snakes. These were great streams.

Arrested development

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Entrance to the Choate mine.

Entrance to the Choate chromite mine at Soldiers Delight in Maryland. Fall 1973.

Entrance to the Choate mine.

Entrance to the Choate mine. Although trash was being removed from the area, fresh appliances had been dumped above the entrance. Fall 1973.

Soldiers Delight would be a lot less interesting to some were it not for its contribution to the economic history of Baltimore County, Maryland. Serpentine outcrops including Soldiers Delight, Bare Hills, and the State Line Barrens in Pennsylvania supplied most of the world’s chromium ore in the mid 19th century. Issac Tyson, and later his sons, owned land and operated mines at these places, shipping all the chromite to Baltimore and monopolizing the industry from the 1820s until after the Civil War. But the long term impact of this activity may have been more ecological than economic.

Red Dog Redux

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Red Dog Lodge in December 1967. Photo by Ellis J. Malashuk.

Red Dog Lodge in December 1967. This is the crop marked on the print I bought (see below) of a photo taken by Ellis J. Malashuk, December 7, 1967.

I was really pleased to learn that the archive of my own black and white negatives includes a 1973 photo of Red Dog Lodge. But last week I found a 1967 photo for sale on eBay, and it’s much better than mine. It was taken for an article that ran in the Baltimore Sunday Sun Recreation section (page 11) on December 10, 1967. I inferred that from notes and stamps on the back of the photo, and from a citation of a Paul Wilkes article “Campaign to Save Soldiers Delight” from that date.

Marker historical

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<em>The Soldiers Delight historical marker in 1969.</em>

The Soldiers Delight historical marker in 1969.


The Maryland Historical Society installed the Soldiers Delight historical marker in 1968. It looks brand new in the 1969 photo from The Baltimore Sun archives, and it appears to be on the west side of Deer Park Road near the overlook. I photographed the marker in 1973 when it appears to be on the opposite side of the road. It also appears to have been repaired after being broken off the post. I found a recent photo from August 2009 showing a completely new sign now back on the west side of the road next to the overlook parking. The wording of the sign has not changed, only the number of paragraphs and the number of spelling errors.

Seldom scene

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A mouse eared chickweed at Soldiers Delight. I don't know which species this is.

A mouse eared chickweed at Soldiers Delight. I don’t know which species this is. Spring 1975.

There are portraits of more than a dozen species of plant among my old negatives of Soldiers Delight. Most of these are characteristic plants of the barrens, like post oak, blue stem, and moss phlox. A few photos are of plants that are uncommon in Maryland except on serpentine. I don’t know these plants well enough to be sure of the identification, and some might be impossible to indentify just from photos. I photographed these between 1973 and 1975 before I paid very close attention to plant names, but I must have been aware that certain species were special at Soldiers Delight.

Assay office

Click to enlarge photos Land purchased by the State of Maryland for the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area included two historic buildings: Red Dog Lodge and a log cabin said to have been built in 1848. The lore is that…