A few weeks ago, this three-toed box turtle walked right up to our back door. Although her species is native to the area and her shell is scuffed and weathered, she seems too tame to be a wild turtle. There’s no way to tell her exact age, but she looks like a wizened old lady, so we named her accordingly– Winifred (or Winnie for short). She always seems to be smiling, and it does not bother her at all that both the cats and the chickens approach her with suspicious interest. I’m really glad she’s low maintenance, because this house is at full pet capacity.
I once tried to cultivate my own sourdough starter, and when it developed streaky orange mold on the second day, I dumped it out and gave up for seven years. Happily, my second go at it worked out just fine. I used this guide, and after trying a few different sourdough recipes, decided I like a low-hydration loaf (similar to this one) because of its regular crumb structure and sturdy slices. I can’t wait to experiment with different flours and incorporate wild yeast into other types of bread recipes. It feels like magic to create something as substantial as bread from just flour, water, and salt. I’ve been eating it every morning with a thick schmear of homemade cultured butter and a drizzle of mesquite honey.
Our mulberry tree really went crazy this year, so last week I spent some time picking berries while the chickens foraged on the fallen, over-ripe fruits on the ground. Red mulberries are pretty underwhelming in the flavor department, but they have a lovely, delicate texture and you can dress them up with a little lemon juice. I made a cobbler and some compote, and next I’ll whip up a batch of muffins with the buttermilk leftover from that cultured butter.
Recently, I’ve gotten back in the habit of making weekly batches of yogurt. It’s a little bit of work, but somehow the homemade kind tastes infinitely better than grocery store yogurt. The leftover whey makes an excellent fertilizer (especially for low-ph-loving plants), and a very welcome chicken treat. And because I will find any excuse to use up eggs, I’ve also been making orange curd to spoon into the bottom of each jar of yogurt (this batch got some of that mulberry compote, too).
Back in April, I found a spiky woolly bear caterpillar while doing yard work. I put him in a jar with a stick and some dirt, and fed him a steady diet of dandelion greens and thistle leaves. A couple weeks later, he formed a shiny black cocoon, and after what seemed like forever, he emerged as a giant leopard moth. We set him free by the back door, and after hanging around for a day, he took off into the world. I was kind of relieved to have one less creature to take care of, but I’ve just found ten black swallowtail caterpillars on my fennel, so the process begins again.
– This is a great way to use up six whole eggs and is like a weird and delicious amalgam of brownies and chocolate mousse.
– I binge-listened to this entire podcast in under 24 hours, and I wish I’d never heard it so I could listen to it again.
– After a series of mishaps and setbacks, my garden is finally on its way.