Monthly Archives: November 2013

The coming plague

Triangle friends, I hope today’s headline scares you into reading this post.  If you haven’t wrapped your oak trees yet, you’re running out of time.  In December the female moths, after mating, will crawl up the tops of these trees and birth hundreds of green caterpillars unless they are stopped in their tracks.  If you’re not scared yet, read my lamentful post from the spring.

This year I  wrapped each  tree with a band of cheap insulation covered by a second layer of tar paper.  Yesterday I coated each tree-band with a ring of sticky Tanglefoot Glue, the adhesive that catches the moths.

I thought every store in the Triangle was sold out of this stuff, but it turns out Stone Brothers had family-sized tubs of it.  Just like butter in a skillet, the glue went on better once it was heated up a little bit.  I slopped it on with a stiff brush, learning after-the-fact that a putty knife would have been better.

The tree of greatest concern was “Old Cyclops,” the massive oak tree in our front yard that blots out the entire block from a Google-earth perspective.


He’s so named because of his one eye and small, gaping mouth.  He’s so enormous that I used half a tub of glue on him.

Let’s hope this helps curb the worm infestation.

The Rogue Squash

This year we had some butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata)  grow up out of nowhere in our backyard.  I’m sure a kindly bird dropped the seeds off for us (unless there is a Squash Fairy.)

squashI cut off a piece and tasted it; it was the most delicious piece of raw squash I’ve ever had.  Later that afternoon I discovered a little secret, though: squash tastes even better when cooked with cream and sherry.  That evening we dined on squash soup!

To prepare the soup, I had to cut the squash in half.   This turned out to be an excruciating task.  For a minute I thought about getting the electric saw out of the basement,  but that thing scares me.  Thankfully, Shawnna  suggested heating the  squash in the oven for 10 minutes or so, which made it easier to cut through.

Once I’d cut the squash in half, I  placed the pieces in a baking dish with a little bit of water and cooked at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes.  After letting it cool for a couple of minutes, I took out the remaining seeds and peeled the skin away. Throwing in some ginger, salt and pepper,  I chopped  up the pieces and mixed them in the food processor.   Meanwhile,  I sauteed some onions with butter, nutmeg and allspice.  Everything then got thrown into the dutch oven with vegetable stock, cream and sherry.

squashsoupI turned it up to a boil, and then let it simmer for a while.  It was probably some of the best soup I’ve ever made.

Squash is a New World Native and was growing in Mesoamerica before the arrival of any humans.  It was part of the diet for many indigenous people from South American to Canada, who started cultivating it between 8 and 10,000 years ago. I wonder if they had any soup recipes?