🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)

They say you learn something every day. Today I learnt what Salsify is!

Walking through my garden, I saw what looked like GIANT DANDELION but upon closer inspection I could see that, besides it's size, there was something different. So off to Google and I'm absolutely thrilled that I have this lovely "vegetable" in my garden! (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa).

Tragopogon porrifolius is a common biennial wildflower, native to Mediterranean regions of Europe but introduced elsewhere, for example, into Great Britain, (mainly in the south) and northern Europe, North America, in southern Africa and in Australia; in the United States it is now found growing wild in almost every state, including Hawaii, except in the extreme south-east.

This is a plant with a root that can be eaten. Salsify looks like a giant dandelion, and in a similar fashion the purple flower (some species have a bright yellow flower) turns into a dainty, but LARGE,  puffball, dispersing hundreds of seeds into the wind. Salsify is also known as Goat's Beard or Vegetable Oyster as their mild and sweet flavor is often compared to that of oysters. Some say they have a slight asparagus or artichoke taste, with an aftertaste of coconut. The leaves of the salsify plant are edible; this root vegetable is not often seen in supermarkets in South Africa, but is as easy to grow as carrots or parsnips.

    •    Easy to grow. Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 10°C and 30°C.
    •    Space plants: 15 - 20 cm apart
    •    Harvest in 14-21 weeks.
    •    Compatible with: Beans, Brassicas, Carrots, Celeriac, Endive, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Alliums, Spinach

It is a fairly slow-growing vegetable but can be harvested in small amounts as required. The ground can be loosened with a fork and a few roots lifted for use.

File:Tragopogon porrifolius - Stierch.jpg
 (Pic from Wikipedia)

The plant grows to around 120cm in height. As with other Tragopogon species, its stem is largely un-branched, and the leaves are somewhat grass-like. It exudes a milky juice from the stems.

When buying, choose firm, medium-sized salsify, with no damp parts.

Both varieties of salsify oxidize when peeled or cut. Immerse them in water mixed with a little lemon juice or vinegar or boil them whole for 15 min before peeling and preparing. Their skin can temporarily stain hands when peeling.

Serving Ideas
Salsify and black salsify are delicious in soups and stews or in a gratin, with béchamel or cheese sauce. They can be eaten cold, dressed with a vinaigrette. Salsify goes well with potato, leek, celery, onion and spinach. They are delicious braised with veal, poultry or fish; they can be glazed in the same way as carrots.

: Both varieties of salsify are best used fresh.

In the fridge: several days, unwashed in a loosely closed or perforated plastic bag.

 (Image from Good Food) I wasn't going to up-root mine to see what the roots look like!

 : Cook briefly so that the flesh does not become mushy.

Steamed: 10-15 min (recommended 
cooking method).

Boiled: 8-12 min.

Salsify is a good source of potassium and contains vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, folic acid and phosphorus. It also contains inulin (a carbohydrate close to starch), which is suitable for diabetics to eat, as it does not affect blood sugar levels. Salsify is blood thinning and has a decongestant effect on the liver and kidneys.


Friday, 25 January 2013

At a slower pace

A winter pleasure visiting my garden - a Grey Lourie which is a scarce visitor to my garden, as I don't really have any plants offering figs or berries. But it probably spotted the apples and oranges I have on some bird feeders. Camera - Canon EOS 550D. 

It is mid-summer and the feeding at my bird tables has come to an almost stand-still as fewer and fewer birds are visiting or waiting for me early in the morning. As summer progresses, I usually slow down my feeding schedule, as there is plenty of seeds, fruits and insects available to keep the birds busy 24/7. 

 Seed cage

 Heart-shaped feeder

 Slate fruit feeder

 One of my Suet feeders

The bird baths, however, are now occupied virtually all day long, with everybody taking turns at cooling off and cleaning themselves. And when the sprinkler is on they, flit in and out and through the spray like small boys playing under a waterfall. 

Winter is another matter - when I go out at about 6am to fill the feeders, the birds are already occupying every tree top and all the branches near the feeders. Three feeders are filled with seeds and bread, two feeders are loaded with fruit and a special feeder is filled with suet and minced meat.

 Patiently waiting at 6am

Everybody waiting near one of the bird feeders

As soon as I leave, the feeder is swamped!

But the days are already getting shorter - the Sparrow that used to wake me up at 4.30am now only starts singing shortly after 5am and soon we'll be heading for Autumn and cooler days. I will start increasing my feeding schedule slowly from about March until all my feathered friends will once again be greeting me en masse in June/July.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Africa, this is why I live here

I have discovered a great Page on FaceBook and thought I'd share it here with you. It epitomises all that is Africa; the amusing, the amazing, the beautiful, the sad, our beautiful fauna and flora unique to Africa and the day-to-day happenings we experience every day.
All pics and info is from "Africa, this is why I live here.

  Christmas at Mfuwe Lodge - Zambia

These jackal pups played in front of us for about 15min before getting bored and moving off. 
- Anthony and Marcelle Robbins

 Uhm....that lion must be real full...probabaly just eaten the zebras sibling?

Elizabeth Hart - Etosha, Namibia
 I can see myself ensconced in this here 'Beach Lounge' for New Years Eve....... :)

 Dolphins surfing
Maitlands Beach.... outside Port Elizabeth, South Africa

 Broken waterpump - Africa, is not for sissies!

 Paradise Flycatcher

 Time for sundowners...

Morning cuddle in the Kruger National Park

 'Reingers' pulling a Christmas Sleigh at Londolozi Game Reserve

A bit of innovation never hurt anybody

Aardwolf den


You know you are in Africa when.... you have an elephant walking straight towards your car!


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

January inspiration

And now ’tis man who dares assault the sky . . . 
And as we come to claim our promised place, 
aim only to repay the good you gave, 
 and warm with human love the chill of space. 
— Prof. Thomas G. Bergin

Ink, wash and collage in my Moleskine 200gsm “Country Diary” 

I've come to like January, the way it shakes, rattles and rolls - lots of rain, everything is green. This is how the universe works when it's happy.



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