Monday, February 13, 2017

Sapping, spaetzle, and an infestation

© 2017 Joshua Stark

The fun with the stand mixer continues!  I've whipped up egg whites for home-made Belgian waffles, and made a gingerbread (from James Beard's recipe) with the paddle.  I've also tried the dough hook twice -- for a soda bread, and yesterday, for spaetzle dough.  I'm still getting the hang of it, but it is coming along.

If you've never made spaetzle, the recipe is super easy: 3 cups flour, four eggs, a teaspoon salt and another of nutmeg, and about 1/2 cup of water.  After mixing the dry ingredients together, mix the eggs in the middle with half the water, and then beat in the rest of the water until it's a smooth, elastic and fairly sticky consistency.  The dough hook worked for this part really well, and let me do other things while it worked.

Now, the hard part (for spaetzle):  I don't own a spaetzle press.  I do it the old fashioned way, by cutting it on a board... something like what this absolutely amazing woman does.

Please, take a moment to watch that video, because that woman flat-out rocks!  

Anyway... I'm actually nothing like that woman.  First, I don't have a board with a handle.  Second, the board I do have is too wide to fit into my pot. I also don't have a knife that flat -- my knife is too sharp and kept getting caught on the board. What I got was a quick whipping up of the dough, followed by an hour or so of wrestling with a very sticky, gooey mess.  

I finally was able to cook up a bunch (it kept growing and growing!), served alongside garden chard and elk meatballs. The kids liked it alright.  The wife absolutely LOVED it!

That latter fact bodes ill for my future.  

Now, for the infestation:

Not the best pictures, but they clearly show what was a short-lived infestation of maybe twenty or so Meleagris gallopavo.  They were first heard jumping from our roof to our neighbor's roof -- I wasn't quite sure what they were, then hey!  There's a jenny staring at me through the window!

I called a couple of times, since a jake was keen on struttin' his stuff, and then I hooted like an owl a couple of times and three or four of 'em immediately gobbled back.  It was great.

I don't know if they were roosting in one of our gigantic trees, but we'll be looking for them tonight (update: no return of the flock).

These are city-folk, and we won't be hunting this particular flock come Spring.  However, I have been very pleased with the efforts of our first bird last year

Speaking of trees, I just this morning discovered that people tap walnut trees for sap.  I have a monster English walnut in my back yard (it could easily accommodate three taps), but I have a sneaking feeling that our temperatures rarely get cold enough for a good flow.

Has anybody out there tapped trees in California?  Have you tapped trees where you maybe get three weeks, total, of below freezing temps?