Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The camper awakens

I know, I should post more. But when you're camping in your office you find little to write about and time seems to move in funny ways. Particularly in my office where they neglected to add ways for air to get out... or in. Oxygen deprivation, weeeee! Seriously, they've come in with sensors and done tests. We have all these fans to move oxygen into areas where it wouldn't normally flow and still have to get out into the hallway every few hours to wake up and let the O2 count in the office return to normal. As stupid as oxygen bars seem every so often they sound like really good ideas. We want to mug one of those old men we see wheeling an oxygen cart around the hospital.

Well, I still can't get at the pictures from my trip home so let me tell you about my experiments in prickly pear preparation. There's a large patch out in the pasture across from my parents' house. It's about 1/3 of a mile in. Ask nice and they'll probably let you go pick some. They were looking pretty bad back in December, but they were healthy and fairly fat in early July.
The first task was peeling them. A potato peeler doesn't really work. Potatoes are nice and hard but prickly pear pads have a lot of give and tougher skin. I found that taking a pearing knife, cutting off the edges, laying the rest on a hard surface, and then using the knife to cut off the skin worked ok. But then you turn it over and things get harder. By then it feels like you're trying to cut the skin off a pancake.
Then I took it in and washed it off. I should have washed it better. It has this unpleasant slime that causes one to make silly faces as it goes down your throat. I sliced it into strips and threw them in the same vinegar and water solution Dad uses for his cucumbers. It wasn't bad except for the slime. I'm gonna have to find different instructions on how to prepare them.
There was one that I tried burning the needles off of. There were websites that claimed a gas flame should do the trick. So I turned on the stove and waved the pads over the flame. Sure enough, the needles lit up and about half burned off. The rest was too close to the pad and wouldn't burn. So we moved the pad closer. That got a little more to burn but mostly it caused the internal fluids to turn into steam so that the pad suddenly inflated like a balloon.

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