Dan Boone

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since Jan 24, 2014
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Dan Boone gardens, plants fruit trees, and tends wild fruit and nut trees and vines in Central Oklahoma.
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Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Recent posts by Dan Boone

I was just in a house where six medium-small toolboxes (the ones about the size of a big fishing tackle box) had been stacked beside the guest bed in a 3-2-1 arrangement to make a three-step stair for the household's small geriatric dogs to use in getting on the bed.  
6 months ago

Dan Boone wrote:
This syrup is sweet (obviously) and in no wise offensive, but not special enough (IMO) to be a signature cocktail or baking flavor.  I will probably use this in place of honey (of which we can never afford as much as we would like) to sweeten medicinal herbal tea mixtures that are already strongly vegetal, or to sweeten cheap booze  (whiskey and/or rum) that always needs a bit of help flavor-wise. The syrup certainly won't go to waste!

One more update: for me the syrup ultimately failed in both tea and cocktails; the slightly-bitter vegetal flavors overwhelmed not only the coconut/vanilla notes but also the flavors of the beverages.

However, I finally did find a perfectly acceptable use for the syrup: it's great for flavoring cocoa (the kind you cook yourself with unsweetened cocoa powder and the dairy and sweetener alternatives of your preference) and especially coffee.  Against the bitterness of cocoa and coffee beans the unwelcome fig leave flavors have to take a number and fight it out; they aren't noticeable. Meanwhile cane sugar is cane sugar and the coconut notes add a bit of richness.

I probably won't make this syrup again but I wanted to come back and confirm that (a) I found a use for it and (b) as predicted the sacrificial/experimental quart of cane sugar did not in fact go to waste.
6 months ago
What do we know about microplastics and bio-uptake by plants?  I know zilch about biochemistry but all the popular-press level articles I've seen about microplastics danger have focused on their ingestion by animals, specifically fish and mammals.  

When I think about the hazards of plastics I imagine them in two buckets. The first is volatiles -- the various hydrocarbon chemicals that make plastics flexible and soft, which can outgas or seep into the environment and be bioavailable and thus dangerous like any other petrochemicals.  The second is particles, which used to be assumed inert, the stable parts left behind after volatiles were leached/outgassed and gone. Science in recent years has begun to suggest that the smallest particles are tiny enough to fool animal biology and thus pose health hazards after ingestion into mammalian/piscene/avian bodies.  

But the next step -- the idea that plants might uptake microplastics from the soil and store them in tissues that we later eat -- is new to me.
6 months ago

Dan Boone wrote:So I am going to be trying this just as soon as this year's new growth gets going.

Well, that didn't happen last year. But I just now saw a post (perhaps a "Reel") on Facebook about making fig leaf syrup, from a forager who goes by ChaoticForager.   So I thought I should do this before it's too late this year.

For context, our weather only started to cool a couple of weeks ago, and my biggest fig tree (a Kadota) is throwing out quite a bit of new growth. The old leaves have had a very long and hard summer. They've suffered fig rust, bird poop, grasshopper predation, and substantial hail damage. They don't look like attractive food. But the new growth is green and bright, and it will be dead at first frost, somewhere between 7 and 30 days from now.  So, why not?

New growth on Kadota fig tree

Kadota fig tree in mid-October, approximately 7 feet tall

First I tasted the young leaves straight from the plant. Considerable tannic bitterness, but the flavor of vanilla and coconut was very much present and surprisingly forward.

I started by picking a very loosely packed quart of young leaves.  Washed and wet, I had about two tightly-packed cups of leaves.

Young fig leaves in a 4-cup measure, about 2 cups worth when washed and tightly packed

Put them in a sauce pan with a quart of water. Brought them to a boil.  Water began to color immediately. Coconut flavor very evident. Wow! Added one quart of granulated cane sugar, brought the mixture back to a boil.

Fig leaves simmering in 1:1 ratio (AKA weak) simple syrup

Simmered for 15 minutes on lowest gas burner setting.  Tasted. Coconut flavor a bit stronger, but also picking up vegetal "boiled greens" flavor notes.  Not as much color as I was hoping for, so I turned up the gas one notch and gave it 10 more minutes.  Strained out the leaves, set it to cool in a Pyrex bowl. Flash chilled a tablespoon in the freezer for cold tasting.  Total yield, about six cups.

About six cups of young fig leaf simple syrup

Final tasting notes, cold syrup: Unfortunately the spinach-like vegetal notes light up my palate first. None of that iron tang that you get from, say, lambs quarters, but chlorophyllic, with an added tannic bitterness that would perfectly work in tea.  Then, the coconut flavor with vanilla notes comes through strongly, but more as aftertaste than foretaste.  Nor are those tropical flavors as strong as I was hoping.

This syrup is sweet (obviously) and in no wise offensive, but not special enough (IMO) to be a signature cocktail or baking flavor.  I will probably use this in place of honey (of which we can never afford as much as we would like) to sweeten medicinal herbal tea mixtures that are already strongly vegetal, or to sweeten cheap booze  (whiskey and/or rum) that always needs a bit of help flavor-wise. The syrup certainly won't go to waste!

Things I want to try next time: Toasting the leaves first (stronger flavor?) and cooking down the syrup until it begins to caramelize. Caramel syrup is always useful, and I want to find out whether the extra cooking (toasting and/or caramelization) drives off and weakens the coconut/vanilla notes, or concentrates them.  

8 months ago

Jerry Brown wrote:Can't find any mention of sawbucks in Foxfire 1, 2 or 3. (You have to look in number 3 to find the index, all 3 are indexed together.)

I realized this thread was five years old and as I was catching up on it, I thought "You know, I should have checked the Foxfire books!" But I don't have them handy, so I'm delighted to learn that somebody else looked. So much for that bright idea.  

Lots of nifty sawbucks in this thread, but still haven't seen one in roundwood built the way I remember. Memory is funny; could be I was nuts all along.
1 year ago
I don't want to rain on your identification hopes, but I gave up on plum IDs a few years ago, after consulting the best local book on tree identification.  It basically told me that there are five types of wild plums in Oklahoma and that all of them hybridize freely with each other and with domestic plums.  In the gentlest possible terms it warned that plum ID was virtually impossible without the resources of a botany lab and quite difficult even with one.  

In your shoes if I really wanted to know bad enough, I think I'd contact my county extension office and see if they know of a local plum expert.

1 year ago
The first numbered bullet/paragraph in my OP was focused on choosing open source software for sustainability.  I just now saw a person on Mastodon state that very starkly:

In the long run, only open source software exists.

Every closed source program (and some corporate OSS) is on an invisible timer for either the company to get bored and shut it down or one of the increasingly small number of Big Companies to buy that thing you rely on and set it on fire.

1 year ago
Healthy-ish vegan snack/meal that can be consumed as finger food if you're so inclined. Not really a recipe, more like a process.

Take a one pound bag of fresh baby carrots.  Cut chunks of bigger carrots from your garden would also work obviously, but you want pieces no more than half as thick as the brussel sprouts to make the roasting time work. Store baby carrots (which of course are actually just chunks of mature carrots that have been mechanically abraded to a uniform smaller finger size) are sized perfectly.

Dump them in a mixing bowl.

Take a one-pound bag of frozen brussel sprouts.  Dump them in too.

Add a small amount of your preferred cooking oil. I use olive oil; any oil would do.  By "small amount" I mean a tablespoon or less.

Stir well, adding your favorite spice mix as you go. I use table salt plus whatever is handy: taco seasoning, poultry seasoning, or one of those KC Masterpiece spice bottles intended for steak.  Use plenty of salt and spice.

Put the seasoned veg into your air fryer. Mine has two racks (like an older-fashioned convection oven) so I split them evenly and swap the two racks halfway through. If you have the basket type, you'll want to shake/stir more frequently. If your air fryer has a temp adjustment, max it. Then cook for twenty-five minutes. That's enough to fully roast everything to overdone browned perfection, which is how I like my roasted vegetables. Adjust cooking time to your taste.


1 year ago

Pearl Sutton wrote:Somewhere in this thread there was talk of feed bag reuse, my feed comes in the heavy paper bags, great for weed suppression!

This spring when I was building and rejuvenating soil for my container garden (by screening together old soil, semi-fresh stallion poop, composted wood chips, and various amendments) there was no perlite to be had at any of the usual outlets within the radius of about 1.5 hours of driving time (one way).  So I ordered a 4 cubic foot bag on Amazon.  To my surprise, it came in a huge multi-layered feed-type paper bag instead of the plastic sack all the big box stores use.   Had to transfer it right away into a half-barrel because I didn't have rain-secure storage for it.

Ended up opening up that empty bag, laying it right down on the weedy sod in the side yard with a bit of stallion poop underneath it (for the worms) and another thicker layer of the poop on top of it. Opened up a tiny hole in the middle, filled that hole with about a quart of new potting soil, and planted summer squash in that. Then covered the whole area, lasagna style, with about six inches of "fresh" (a year old, but not heavily composted yet) wood chips.  A couple of passes with a borrowed mower covered the whole pile with grass clippings, but that was more-or-less accidental.   That hill of squash is presently by FAR the most robust of my half-dozen.
1 year ago
Of course when I typed the phrase "prodigious nut production" in the original post back in 2019, it guaranteed that I would not see another black walnut tree with fruit on it for three years.  

Worse yet, this does not look like a mast year for the local black walnuts that I have easy access to, either.  But I was able to scrounge a literal handful (five green nuts) off one of my neighbor's trees.  It's enough for a test batch.

The green nuts had a strong spicy odor, just sitting in the palm of my hand.  I know that June 24th is the traditional time for picking European walnuts for nocino, but I couldn't find any solid nocino harvest date recommendations for the American black walnuts.  The nuts I found seemed very hard in my hand, so it was an enormous relief when they quartered easily using my best chef knife.  Crunchy and solid, yes, but easily sliced without whacking or chopping.   It was not deliberate that I picked these on an easily-remembered date like June 21, but it seems like a fine date for this species where I am.

Somewhat to my surprise, the chambers in my nuts had a green translucent liquid in them that dripped out onto the parchment paper I used to protect my cutting board.  I wonder if next time I should capture and incorporate that fluid?  

Anyway, five nuts loosely fills about a quarter of a quart mason jar.  So, rough "five nuts to the cup" ratio if you're picking to make a gallon batch.  

I am going with the alcohol-soak first, add spices later approach.  So I topped the nuts to the 400ml line on my jar.  I used Everclear, due to still having a liter bottle around from when I bought it at the start of the pandemic, when it looked like we might need to make our own hand sanitizer.  Some recipes for nocino speak of vodka or other 40% spirits, but all the more serious ones seem to recommend "pure" 95% stuff like the Everclear.  

Experiment finally underway!  I'll keep y'all posted.
2 years ago