Saturday, October 11, 2008

More fun with geraniums!

Since that last post was such a riproaring success, ya bakeheads, I thought I'd share this recipe with y'all.

Back in the day I knew a group of four orphan brothers who had inherited a huge estate. Money and housing taken care of for the rest of their lives, they all decided to live off the grid and go completely alternative, and so they did; the fact that they lived in the middle of an upscale suburb notwithstanding. They ripped out all the landscaping and planted corn and other *ahem* vegetation, cut off the electricity and phone lines, set up several distilling operations for things like fuel grade alcohol, booze grade alcohol and 'et cetera'...tore out the central heating and switched to wood heat and cooking, bought an old gasoline generator and used it to run their amps (they had a band!) and keep the plumbing thawed out in the winter, had honeybees, made mead, wine, vodka, brewed beer, made bread...these guys were like fricken' GODS.

One of the things they made was something they called 'keef'.

Now with a name like that you kind of already get the feeling its going to fry a few braincells, right? Well, it really wasn't keef, it was a kind of homemade cut plug made out of geraniums. They'd knock a chunk off and smoke it through a hookah. Delicious? Oh my God, it was absolutely sybaritic. I've never smoked anything as enjoyable...not only for the effects but also simply as a smoke. If you've ever smoked a fine tobacco through a hookah you have some idea of what I mean...this stuff was just WONDERFUL.

As best as I can remember, the method went something like this:

Large mature leaves, washed, separated into 'fingers', dried flat and cured (in other words, let to dry until they get kind of leathery)

Homemade dry blackberry wine...specifically, the bottom 1/4 of the fermentation with the dregs in it. (Stay with me, it doesn't end up tasting like candy at all.)

a wooden butter press with lid, (oh look it up)
1 brick,
broad, shallow baking pan
-all of this should be surgically clean, including the brick, which can be scrubbed off with bleach water and then baked for a couple of hours to sterilize it.

Method: soak the cured leaves in the thick dreg blackberry wine (how long I don't know. Presumably at least overnight.) You can up the alcohol by tipping in a little vodka. This is just to help sterilize the mixture and sharpen up the taste. The alcohol burns off.

Your butter press should be sitting in the broad, shallow baking pan. It MUST be scrupulously clean. If you're using a wood press, this will turn it purple and flavor it permanently, so be forewarned. Do NOT use an aluminum press.

Line the butter press with cheese cloth.

Take the leaves out of the wine. Let the excess drip off, then lay flat in the bottom of the butter press. Continue this process, alternating the direction of the layers, until all the leaves are used or the butter press is filled.

Place the top on the press and set the brick on top of that.

Set this all aside to a very dry, warm place with good air flow. The brothers used the top shelf of their woodstove. Cover the whole operation with another single layer of cheesecloth to keep dust and bees out.

In a couple of days, lift the 'cake' from the butter press using the cheesecloth liner. In the meantime, dump out any collected juice in the pan and wash it out. Turn the cake over and return it to the butter press. (You can now switch out and use a clean cheesecloth to line it if you're worried about it; and if the stack falls apart, just re-stack it. You don't have to, though.)

Replace the lid, the brick and the cheesecloth covering and let sit for another few days.

Once it has stopped weeping fluid you can take it out of the butter press and just let it sit in the clean, dry pan, wrapped in cheesecloth, with the brick on top. Turn the cake over every day.

This is done when you have a nasty looking black block of hard ick. it will look like old leaves that have been sitting in a pile for a few months, only drier, and it will smell like blackberries (and be kind of pliable, as I recall.) If the cheesecloth sticks you take a damp rag or clean damp sponge and dab it on the stuck places until it loosens.

To use, cut a corner off and set it on fire. I mean, please. You know.

It sounds nasty, but it smokes GREAT. I would go so far as to say it's an epicurean experience, in fact. The brothers would sometimes mix this with fine smoking tobacco, opium, honey oil or hash, and truthfully it was best with a little bit of fine tobacco.

I can't vouch for the complete accuracy of this method, although I'm 90% certain I've got it down here. The brothers always said that the method is the same as for making homemade cutplug chewing tobacco. I wasn't able to find a 'recipe' for that online but its gotta be out there. If you have the straight 411, please, don't Bogart that info, my friend! Share it with us in the comments lounge!


Hey kids! Do you have any favorite geranium recipes? Please leave them in the comments lounge! Maybe we can do a 'Flatbutt Tribal Party Cookbook'!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Harvesting Geraniums with FirstNations!

One of the onerous tasks associated with growing geraniums is stripping and grooming. Now by that I do not mean what you think I mean; no, I mean getting naked and actually taking a bath instead of spritzing on a half gallon of Chanel and calling it French. Actually no, I really mean getting the product market ready. For most people this means getting naked and calling a Frenchman to harvest your geraniums for you, which doesn't make anyone happy and is not sanitary. This is where technology can help you.

Anyone with access to a machine shop and scrap steel can make this simple, elegant and highly effective tool which can handle everything down to the daintiest bud:
This highly technical tool is called: a piece of metal with some holes in it.

The one I saw was made out of 1/4 inch thick stainless steel angle stock. The draw holes had first been bored on a drill press, and then the guy had taken a mandrel and gauged them out wider by whamming it through from the back of the face plate (he made four different sized holes.) Using a mandrel also makes the burr on the outer side crown up nice and high, which is what you want. To finish he simply took a rat tail file and filed the crowns nice and sharp. And there you have it!

You can clamp this to a table, or use nails or screws to attach it to your work surface. It cuts off the leaf material like a knife; you get very little waste. (Hint: to be really effective, the stems should first be de-budded and then drawn through top first, against the curve of growth.)

The tinier holes stem the buds neatly. Feed them through stem end first; duh. The lower portions drop off and the top pops off in one piece.

An unexpected side benefit of this tool is that you can periodically scrape off the face of the draw plate with a razor or exacto and collect honest to crap hash. Yeah, it will be harsh because of the chlorophyll and frag. Knock a couple bucks off the price. It's still bonus cash, and it has the added benefit of not having passed through the hands of a nine year old kid who wipes his ass with his fingers.

I hope this has been helpful. I know I've spend many an hour bitching and clipping hunks of skin off the sides of my fingers wishing I had a goddamn clue, so I offer this as a public service to those of you who labor in ignorance as I once did. You'll still have to do a little scissors and clippers work, but nothings perfect; and there won't be any Frenchmen involved. Yay!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Quaint Vignettes From My Charming Rural Idyll

This year, because of the mild conditions, the farmers around here have yet to harvest the feed corn. I guess the upside of that is that I haven't had to put up with the truly godhorrid stench of silage being trucked around-and I have no idea what that shits about either; it seems like they make it, and then they drive it around the county for a couple of weeks for no good reason that I can figure out. Maybe it likes to go on car rides. Maybe driving it around for a couple of hours is necessary to the whole silage process. What I do know is that the stuff smells absolutely disgusting. Worse than pig shit, worse than rotted liquid pig manure even, worse than whatever that Parmesan-foot-ass stuff is that they spray on the fields in July. And if anyone could identify just exactly what that stuff is for me I would appreciate it. But anyway....

The smell of silage defies description. It smells worse than the dump. Really. You know how if you spend enough time at the dump you eventually stop smelling it? Not so with silage. Its one of those smells that you can taste, and if you get a strong enough whiff of it you gag-not even as a disgust response either; you don't get the chance to register disgust. Its involuntary. You're driving along having a nice chat with your buddy and then a truck goes paHEURGK! HUAAARP! *BURP* ...yeah. Men dig that.

Around here a kid can drive farm equipment on the street. I suppose there's a special permit involved or something; all I know is that I envy these kids. Maybe the Fates conspired to keep me out from behind the wheel of large equipment, though, given what I was like when I was younger (i.e. EVIL) and Lord only knows what I would have got up to with a corn auger under my command. Actually I know what I'd have done; I'd have headed straight toward my grade school. Drove that mother right through the parking lot; grind through all those Datsun subcompacts and Toyotas RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRkshhhhCRUNCKCRACKGADOON! SSSSSSBOOM! SCREEECHcrunchmangledestroy! Then hammer down straight toward the main office, locked on target, lasers charged and ready; and bury that bitch full speed right up to the rear wheels. Hop out of the cab at the last minute, of course, before it goes up in a huge ball of flames FOOM! with all them big freakyass pointed things flying off and then aw fuck, man, here they come all twirling down back out of the sky eeeeeeeEEEEEWOOOOOOOOOOM!
Right through the main boiler! DIRECT HIT!
Meanwhile I would stand across the street and watch it all go stern skyward...take a majestic half turn...and then silently sink beneath the chill dark seas. And I would laugh a grim and icy laugh- heh heh heh heh heh!-light a panatella, turn, and ride my horse off into the desert.
(that's The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly music. keep up.)

So yeah. Better off that I don't get a corn auger for Christmas this year.

I keep trying to talk my husband into getting me one of those little mini backhoes like landscapers use? But he says that all I'd do is go around digging holes. Well, duh, yeah, that's what they're for.
"In the middle of the night. At random," he adds.
But here again; duh, that's what they're for. If you had a mini backhoe, wouldn't you? Who'd complain? Someone wakes up because their dog is barking and you're out in their front yard in your mini backhoe digging a hole, what? Like they're going to even call 911? "Yes, hello, 911? It's 3:am and there's a native American in a mini backhoe digging up my landscaping?" Please. No way. Especially if it was modified so that flames shot out from underneath it, and had big telescoping spider legs that would unfold out of the sides with pinchers on the end that had black poison dripping off them that would hit the ground and stuff would dissolve into glick and smoke would come up? See, no. You'd have to be pretty stupid to try.