Eating breakfast on the porch every morning gives me a front-row seat to this annual ritual. The ash tree outside the window sports a squirrel-sized branch stub about ten feet off the ground, perfect for a spot of solitary hull-removal. The tree trunk offers protection from attacks in the rear, while the elevated location allows the nibbler to keep a wary eye out for the competition:
|About halfway through the hull-removal process|
It's not unusual for another squirrel to sneak up the tree and mount a surprise attack from the side. Skirmishes and property disputes are frequent, providing plenty of entertainment for the breakfasting blogger.
Fresh walnut hulls are thick and tough, but the squirrels remove them in just a few minutes. Starting at one end, they chew methodically round and round, turning the nut in their paws and spitting out bits of hull with a toss of their head, until the brown inner shell is revealed:
|Can't believe he chewed the hull thing....|
Walnut juice is a potent dye - I wonder what colour this guy's teeth are after a day spent chewing through walnut hulls? :)
On a side note: nuts and acorns are thin on the ground this year. Neither the walnut tree behind the house, nor the oak tree in front, have borne anywhere near the amount they usually do. A commenter from Canada recently mentioned that hickory nuts were in short supply there. Does anyone know the cause of this year's poor nut crop?
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Cooler weather calls for comfort foods, and in the Micawber household, homemade pizza ranks high on the list.
Inspired by a Boulder pizza restaurant that uses a crazy-hot wood-fired oven to cook pizzas in about 90 seconds, I've been baking our own pizzas at the hottest temp available in our home oven:
The results are amazing: a springy, crisp-bottomed crust with chewy interior; perfectly melted cheese that stays creamy, not rubbery; and baking time cut in half - about 10 minutes (or less) does the trick for a 10"x15" pizza.
Pizza crust recipe can be found here (disregard the temperature instructions; bake instead at 500º in a well-oiled pan).
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Blueberries have all but disappeared from the local grocery store (alas). We celebrated the last of them with some fresh blueberry ice cream adapted from this recipe.
Here's my version - Really Fresh Blueberry Ice Cream for Two:
- Puree 1 cup fresh blueberries in blender, food processor, or immersion blender cup.
- In separate bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 1/2 cup milk or milk substitute (we used coconut milk beverage).
- Add 1/2 cup whipping cream or heavy cream, 3/4 tsp. vanilla, and a pinch of salt to liquid in bowl. Mix well.
- Combine with blueberry puree, then freeze mixture according to ice cream maker directions. If you have enough willpower, let the ice cream cure in the freezer. (We didn't.) :)
The colour and flavour were out of this world...
...and the tiny bits of blueberry skin added just a hint of pleasant texture.
Next summer I'll try adding a hint of lemon to make the blueberry flavour really pop.
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