Oak Sapling at the Edge of a Swamp

Nature Walks

On another walk, earlier in fall before all of the leaves had turned and fallen, I spotted this young oak. This is a particular breed of oak tree that grows in swamps. Supposedly, its roots are shallow and so the tree is more likely to fall over in a storm. I think that the leaves on this sapling are most interesting shapes, as they have a slight rippled texture to them that I believe was from the harsh summer we experienced.

Delicious Mousemelon Harvest

Cooking and Household, Gardening

This post may be slightly out of season, as the garden has now been put to bed, but as I plan the next year’s vegetable garden, I want to shine a spotlight on the delightful Mousemelon Vine I grew this year.

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It was very slow to germinate, but managed to fight off weeds in my survival-of-the-fittest gardening style. This plant hails from the southern part of our continent, so it’s a bit slow to grow, in my opinion. The harvest was a small basket full- maybe a couple cups in total volume, and most were eaten in the garden. All the tiny fruits were eaten before I could make them into a dinner salad. Delicious. Being perfectly honest, I could have probably increased my harvest if I had spent more time cultivating and babying the vine, however, I prefer plants that are strong enough to make do on their own.

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The fruit are so tiny and cute! They really do look like mouse-sized watermelons. The taste is a most refreshing blend of cucumber and lemon, though it is not related to either. You can generally find mousemelon seeds in the cucumber section of your seed catalog. Make sure you get a catalog that provides heirloom seeds. Not only will you be supporting our agricultural heritage and encourage biodiversity, you’re more likely to find unusual gems in their selection, such as this mousemelon.

Wild American Persimmon Harvest

Cooking and Household, Nature Walks

Along one of the places I walk, there are some wild American persimmon trees. These persimmons are different than the ones you see at the grocery store, which are Japanese persimmons, generally. American persimmons are smaller, about the size of a ping pong ball, and a much more muted orange color, like the color of pumpkin butter. T The alligator bark on the very tall but somewhat thin trees is unmistakable. Persimmons grow way up high, so you’ll have to pick yours off the ground.

They are ripe when they look overripe- when they are so soft and squishy that their skin wrinkles slightly and splits or squishes easily when touched. You’ll think that you’ve gotten to them too late, but that’s exactly when a persimmon has reached its perfection. They have a texture like homemade jam or over-evaporated fruit butter- not solid and very thick without exactly being a liquid. There are about 4-6 seeds in each fruit, and they are large and easy to pick out while eating.

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There are many things that a persimmon can be made into, however, I’ve only eaten them raw so far. I took a very small harvest this year, dodging drunk wasps who also feast on the (slightly fermented) fruits. These persimmons were delicious.

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2016 Oil Painting of Fern/Vines

Drawing

Here is a past work I made with the same oil paint set as my galaxy landscape. This one started out as a fern, but them turned into some type of vine. It was a couple years ago that I made this one, back in 2016. Oil painting is definitely enjoyable to me, but it does take a while, requires special handling of the materials used to create the art, and the piece in progress and finished needs a place where it can sit quietly and dry for very long amounts of time. Oil painting is definitely more of an occasional hobby for me, but I still greatly enjoy it.

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The Sycamore Tree

Nature Walks

Here is a sycamore tree from one of my walks. Sycamore wood isn’t great for firewood, nor carving, for it is weak, however, it is a faster-growing shade tree and therefore a popular landscaping choice in some areas. This can be a problem as it frequently sheds its weak branches in storms! As unhelpful as it may be for practical purposes, I still am fascinated by the patterns you find on sycamore bark. It’s almost like camo print, and I’m sure that a camo print based off this bark would be quite effective. The tree produces a ball seed pod almost like a sweet gum tree, but the way you tell the difference is that sweet gum pods are painfully spiky whereas sycamore pods are more soft, and you can crush a sycamore pod easily in one hand.

Purple Potato Harvest 2019

Cooking and Household, Gardening
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Cross-section photo taken mid-slicing for dinner.

I grew some purple potatoes this year. They were delicious potatoes that had purple skin, purple marbled with white insides, and the whole thing turned a deep purple when cooked. I was told that purple potatoes apparently originated from more mountainous regions, with the pigment to protect any potatoes near the surface of the soil from the sun due to the thinner atmosphere. The purple pigment is a sign of the higher content of healthy compounds in the potato!

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I love how cool and whimsical this type of potato is, and it is used just the same as any other potato. Cooking with them makes my dinners more interesting visually.