Friday, January 18, 2008

austral thoughts:


It's one of those California days where it's sunny and mild, right smack in the middle of winter. My thermometer says 67 in the backyard, all protected from wind and alive with hummingbirds. The pineapple sage is abloom. Rosemary too.

Still. There was frost on a few cars this morning and despite the afternoon highs, night has a chill. It's puny by comparison to other environs, but this my friends is winter for here. So, for yummy goods this time of year, well, I guess it's time for something preserved and winter-like. Sauces, jams, chutneys. Beer. But, beer is good in summer too, right? In fact, it's all good in summer.

Didn't you wish it was summer? You could be there you know. Now. Call this a blatant ploy to get you to read my friend Leena's blog. It is. But it's also really about asking you to go here, read about what she needs to complete a Masters in Gastronomy, and then do her the favor and take her survey. It is a matter of life and limb I'm afraid, and if you don't take the survey then pooh-pooh on you. Think: If the Wrangler only knew, he'd be over here breaking my knuckles or something else they probably do to folks in Chicago where Leena is from. Right now. Come on, doesn't the thought of cracked limbs scare you into action?

Wait, I'll one-up myself here and say that if you have not taken the survey, then don't even read any more of this post. Please, exit now. Either take the survey for your own health and the future health of your knuckles, or go home.

This is for scholarly reasons. I'm letting you know right now because time is at a premium. Leena needs your help right now. Your help and input concerning U.S. based food blogs and the effect they may or may not have on traditional U.S. print food journalism. If you are a U.S. resident and have any opinions and/or thoughts about this topic, go take the survey. If you don't, then just go take the survey. If you have not taken the survey yet, and you attempt to read beyond this point, you will explode. Totally and really. Explode, like KA-POW!!!! (Which, by the way, is like, waaaay more excruciating to go through if your knuckles have already been mangled)

If you reside outside the U.S, then, and only then are you exempt. Well kinda, but you still have to go persuade your friends in the U.S. to take the survey. Or you too will explode. Pretty please, with sugar on top? Y'all have through January 28th to pull it together and let her know what you think. Do it.

Well, now, I really hope you do explode, mangled-knuckles-and-all, if you have made it this far in this post without taking a moment for the survey.

Please?..............Take it!

And just in case you think that being a family member, friend, neighbor, or someone else who sees me regularly in real fleshy life makes you exempt from taking it, think: no more christmas cookies, beer or cider, or pretty much anything homemade from the Monkey Ranch for you! Until you have redeemed yourself, and convinced me that you did. (And yes, sorry to sound harsh but this includes you Mom.)

And now, for those who have found it in their heart to complete the survey (sorry, one more time for the lame-o's who haven't done it yet) this is for you:

Holy Crap! What do you do with eight pounds of rhubarb?


Seriously, this is a ton of the stuff. After the high winds and gnarly weather we had around here the week before last, it was getting on high time to go clear out some of the rhubarb that was quite beat up and torn looking. Turns out that most of the leaves were ripped rather well, but the stalks were just fine. Only a few were cracked. So I went out there and got all abusive and tore off most of the stalks that were anywhere past completely upright. I know from experience that the stuff will grow back in, and thick, in just a few weeks. With some tiny strawberries just showing their cute little selves again, it should only be another month or two until we can make my favorite strawberry crack sauce. Maybe I'll have to try a hand at canning some jam in March this year, but I suppose I'll have to check out the storage we have available first. Time for a garage check.

So there we were, out in the garage. Checking on the produce that needs using, preserved items that need consuming, plus some beer and cider that needs cellaring. I can do something about the produce, and some of the beer, in order to make room, but the rest of the hooch I'll have to put in a box and bury deep within the hardly-used-or-accessed back wall of our "garage." It should be nice and chilly in there, as we treat it as only storage and no one ever opens it with any regularity. Seems to me like it would be a nice place to "seasonally forget" about what alcoholic items are available for raiding. The kind that should "age" rather well that is, and need a form of intentional ignoring.

So, winter time and the living is easy. The garden is showing some promise of potatoes and a few onions at least. The blueberries I planted behind it all are not showing to be any worse for the wear of transplanting. The hops too. They're acting dormant right now, but with some new soil around them and tender loving care they just might produce a little crop this year also. The rhubarb, up front and center will flourish no matter what we do, or don't.

There you have it. A brief glimpse of life in oaktown in the middle of winter. Good eats, good drinks, even a little good gardening. Still, it's summertime somewhere else. Namely for the lower half of the planet. Go check it out, and if you're a US resident who has read all this and STILL NOT taken the survey.........well, I guess you're hopeless in the helping out department. You probably never comment here either, you just read and read and read and probably, every now and then think "this guy is such an ass!" But I'll never know if you don't write. So............

Go ahead, let me know. But more importantly, from now until the end of the day on January 27th, 2008, for US residents, GO TAKE THE SURVEY!!!!!!!!

I'll shut up now. But only if you've taken the survey. If not, I'll see you in your dreams..........

If you have, please let me know you did by leaving me a comment. Consider it a form of bragging to the Monkey Wrangler and whoever else might be crazy enough to be reading any of this. Please, please, please?


Chilebrown said...

I took the survey. Does that qualify for one of your Stouts.
I am using your starter at a 'Three Pot Dutch Oven Cookoff' at Cal Expo. I am making sourdough braided two tone bread. How can I not win with Sourdough Monkey Wrangler Starter!!!

Mimi said...

Since you begged and begged and begged and begged, I went ahead and tried to take her survey. Somewhere in the middle of the survey, the damn thing timed out and I couldn't continue or go back. She got half a survey out of me. I hope it doesn't mess with her results. Oh well....

K & S said...

check out "nami-nami" or "la tartine gourmande" for ideas on rhubarb... :)

If I go to Hawaii before 1/27, do I qualify to take the survey??

Celia Fae said...

I took the survey. one handed. alice says hi.

Monkey Wrangler said...

Chile: Thanks bro', I knew I could count on you. Qualify for beer yes......but the stout is now gone and we're on to IPA's.

Kat: I think that would be okay since you reside there part of the year? At the very least, get one of your aunties or mom to take it if you can. Thanks and thanky you!

Mimi: Timed out huh? I'll ask Leena what's up with that function and if your portion is good. Catch you soon on the details, I'll let you know on your site later.

Celia: You rock! One handed and all. Give the lil' squirt a squeeze. Ahhh hell, squeeze them all, especially that hubby.

Thanks y'all! If more folks keep up with taking the survey and talking others into doing it too, then hopefully, just hopefully Leena won't come kick my ass.

cookiecrumb said...

I took the survey. Hell, I hosted Leena's request on my blog a few days ago! So we're good.
Anyway. As for your garage hooch storage. Let me just tell you how good the apple cider was that you brought over. Dry, sparkling, sophisticated. (I already told you, didn't I?)
And the mixed cider (with a little bit of pear chez moi) tasted just the beginning of vinegary, so we put a paper-towel lid over it and let it sit out for at least a month. Then, one day all of a sudden: perfect vinegar.

K & S said...

will do!

Kimberly said...

This is your mom and yes I took the survey...see you and the monkey's soon...xxoo's

Callipygia said...

See you in your dreams?! I have crazy enough ones already... I'm going now to take it!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Cookie: Oh my! Dry, sparkling and sophisticated? No, I had not heard, so thank you. Wait, did I make it? You sure? Cause if so, I think the magic is in the yeast and the apples

Anyway, thanks for apple/pear hooch idea. I'll be opening my bottle today and starting with your recipe for vinegar.

Kat: Cool! Thanks! Have a good time in Hawaii.

Mom: Yeah! Go Mom! Catch y'all tomorrow.

Calli: Eh.....uh, yous betta take da su-vey huh?

No really, thanks Callipygia. I'll drop by sometime soon and say hi, as I've been WAAAYY behind on reading anyone else's stuff lately.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I took the survey. Stop nagging me, will ya.

Mmmm, beer. And pickled beets with fennel, which I am having for lunch on top of butter leaf lettuce and blue cheese for lunch (er, except for the beer part since I am at work). Thanks bro!