Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fireflies, Dangerous Cheese, and Making My Day

Great firefly photo from Bev

I've been scarce around blogland the past several days. That's mainly because a whole bunch of stuff is happening. On Thursday night, I gave my firefly talk down at the Midewin National Grasslands. This is a brand new talk for me, which meant that I spent a bunch of time early this week preparing the talk. Only after I agreed to do it did I remember that I don't actually have any firefly images. Fortunately, what I do have is some good friends in the blogosphere. Bev over at Burning Silo is a really great photographer and let me use some of her firefly images. Thanks, Bev!

Spo and I have been exchanging a couple of comments about bacteria in food- this prompted by a discussion of the suspect nature of sun tea, which never gets boiled. On Thursday night, a co-worker attended a cheesemaking class in Chicago. She's been interested ever since I brought some homemade mozzarella into work. Friday morning, she brought in a half gallon of raw cow's milk. Yay!! This is udderly new territory for me (sorry). You can't buy it here in Illinois, because as an unpasteurized dairy product, it's "unsafe." I've just spent the morning making more Camembert. Thanks, Jill!

Raw cow's milk

This is un-homogenized milk. You can see the cream floating at the top of the jar. I got an excellent separation of curds and whey. The curds seemed less fragile than the ones that I usually get from store-bought milk. Because this milk has never been pasteurized, I'm supposed to age it for a minimum of 60 days before I eat it. Otherwise, it's somehow less safe. Fine by me- that will have it ripe just about when I'm going out to New England to spend some time on Martha's Vineyard with Chilmark Girl. She wants to try some of my dangerous cheese.

Raw curds and whey. These were some of the best curds I've ever gotten.

Sometime late this week, I was told by Kathie at Sycamore Canyon blog that I make her day. she even gave me an award to that effect. I'd like to thank all the little people who made this possible. I'm also very touched that Kathie enjoys my blog so much. Thanks, Kathie!


Here are the rules of the award:

The rules for this award are:

1) Write a post with links to 5 blogs that make me think and/or make my day.

2) Acknowledge the post of the award giver (Thank you Kathie!)

3) Tell the award winners that they have won by commenting on their blogs with the news!

So who makes my day? This turns out to be hard, because so many folks' blogs make my day. If I have to do just 5, I will go with:

1. cedrorum at Mutual Causality. I really enjoy getting to chat with somebody doing ecological restoration in a different part of the country on an ecosystem that I've never even gotten to visit before. He's also a great guy and a good writer who should have a wider readership.

2. Rodger and Mark at RodgerDodger and Scuff Productions (note how I'm cleverly slipping in an extra winner here by giving the award to a couple who keep individual blogs). Rodger and Mark were some of the first folks that I became friends with entirely through blogging. I enjoy getting a glimpse into their lives and the nature that surrounds them in the Pacific Northwest. They also make great pickles and inspired me to get back into canning. And they have great musical experiences. Since I've known them they have gotten to see both the Tubes and Todd Rundgren in concert.

3. tr at From the Faraway Nearby. He showed up as a commenter on my blog just a few months ago. It's inspiring to hear tales from somebody who travels even more than I do. He's an awesome photographer and writer, has a fascinating blogroll, and even appreciates the joys of a beverage that contains bugs.

4. Homer of Homer's World. Homer's a really nice guy with a fascinating job as an archaeologist in Tucson. I enjoy hearing about his career and the city where he lives (one of my favorite spots anywhere). Plus, I secretly want to go to one of the pool parties he blogs about.

5. UrSpo of Spo Reflections. Blogging makes my day, so how can I not include the guy who got me into it? Spo and I have been friends for about a decade now, and I really enjoy much more regular contact with him through blogging.

Thanks, guys! You all make my day.

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At 15:36, Blogger cedrorum said...

Thanks for the award Doug, it would be my first. I've got to say, I think a little bacteria is good for you. If you keep things too sterile your body doesn't know how to react to germs. At least I think that's true. On second thought, maybe that's what has lead some people to think I'm a little off. BTW, I'm looking forward to your firefly post.

At 16:14, Anonymous Mark H said...

Me thanks you also, Dr. T. I couldn't be more pleased than to receive this from YOU. I'm also flattered considering the differences in our nature knowledge. WE are just hobbyists, you are truly working miracles not just through restoration, but through education...us for example.


And I am SO jealous you found some whole milk. Tough stuff to come by...We used to pick it up a half gallon at a time as little kids....walking a half block away to get it from old man Nielson. Great memory that was. Now I want some for cheese.

At 07:33, Blogger Chilmarkgirl said...

WOW- I am so excited that I will get to eat some of the dangerous cheese- I just wonder what kind of wine to pair it with? I must say the curds and whey look quite unappetizing-it's amazing that some that looks so gross can turn into something so yummy! Speaking of yummy I made some really delicious peach sorbet for a dinner party last night- and it actually turned out to be dangerous sorbet-after cooking the raw peaches with sugar and water I poured the boiling hot liquid into my blender and thought the top was on tight- thankfully I had my hand on the lid when I turned the blender on so only a small amount of firey liquid shot out burning my arm- Must be the week of dangerous food!

At 13:46, Blogger Gary Lee Phillips said...

I think you'll find that raw milk makes much better cheddar too, for most of the same reasons. I'm afraid that the laws about such things are inspired not by a genuine concern for public safety, but rather by an ill-concealed desire to keep cottage industry down and promote the big food companies and producers. They also are designed to keep the lawyers in lots of bucks, of course.

At 14:17, Blogger Robin Plan said...

What a pleasant suprise to find your blog and post about raw dairy. I love raw dairy and it's so much healthier if it is pastured cows, not pastureized milk.
Great blog and post.

At 17:55, Blogger T.R. said...

Doug, Thanks!

How awesome to receive this award from you, the real American idol!

Your the whole package (naturalist, scientist, intrepid traveler, nature lover, humanitarian) the real deal and the guy I wished lived next door (especially during the buggy season).

I have learned so much from your blog and don't feel I'm truly worthy of the accolade until I have caputured and ID'd my first Cicindela fulgida in the Oklahoma salt flats.

Keep up the amazing blogging that so and inspires us amateur naturalists and fellow travelers.

At 17:57, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

I just realized I don't have any digital firefly photos. I have some old ones somewhere on slides (A project for next winter). I know where the fireflies will be this summer and will remedy the situation. Great post and thanks for calling this to my attention.

Let us know how the cheese turns out.

I mentioned to Martha the other day about your cheese-makings skills, and she said, "Stop right there, you have too many hobbies now.". Maybe later. We have a great upscale market called Central Market, and they stock hundreds and hundreds of cheeses from around the world, as well as small local cheese-makers. Yum.

My brother has a day-care and I was telling some of his budding bug hunters about the number of legs on the caterpillar. They were fascinated. Interesting post on that subject also.

Congratulations on the award. You truly deserve it.

Have a great time in New England and take lots of photos. I look forward to hearing about the trip.

Your friend,

At 18:43, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

Thank you Doug! I grew up on raw cow's milk and fed it to my kids when they were young. I know how to milk a cow and a goat and recently saw raw cow's milk in the healthfood store with a health warning on it! Imagine, a health warning on cows milk but you can buy food that's processed and full of fake stuff without them warning you, or it can have GMO's and they don't have to tell you! Go figure! Good for you on the cheese making. I will have to check out the blogs you recommended now! :)

Good luck on your talk!

BTW, Gallicissa in Sri Lanka has some awesome photos about some rare dragonfly which hasn't been described since 1936. Have you ever visted him?

At 21:32, Blogger Ur-spo said...

we've been without a computer for a few days!
I thank you very much for the award and I want to thank my agent.
i am honored.

At 14:10, Blogger robin andrea said...

You are an inspiration, doug. Fireflies and raw milk in the same post. It's that kind of eclectic interest that make Gossamer Tapestry so much fun.

At 20:52, Blogger Doug Taron said...

cedrorum- there seems to be increasing opinion that some bacterial exposure is good for you, and excessive use of antibacterials can be counterproductive.

Mark - Yeah, it's tough to come by. It's currently illegal to sell it in Illinois.

CG- Sugar burns can be nasty. We've made our flight arrangements for MV in August. I'll bring cheese.

Gary Lee- I suspect you are right about the politics of raw milk.

Robin- Welcome to the Tapestry, thanks for stopping by. This is my first experience with raw milk. I haven't actually had any yet- that will have to wait for the ripening of my cheese.

tr - *blush*. thank you for the kind words. You may be waiting for a while on C. fulgida. I don't think that one gets into OK.

Troy- Thanks so much. And thanks for sharing the caterpillar leg story with the budding naturalists. You never know who you will inspire.

Kathie- That's great, all these folks are coming forward as raw milk aficionados. Thanks again on the award. the talk went well, and Gallicissa's blog rocks.

Spo- As much as anything, that's a thank you for inspiring me to get into blogging.

Robin- Thanks. I do enjoy these odd pairings of subject within a single post.

At 12:46, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Aak, tr, I blew it. Of course you can photograph C. fulgida in OK. Even though I both read and typed fulgida, my mind kept thinking fulgoris.

At 21:41, Blogger T.R. said...

you say fulgoris, I say fulgida. Fulgoris, fulgida, tomato, tomato, lets call the calling off off! I believe they can be seen around the Great Salt plains area somewhere north of me. If Google doesn't lie!

At 20:18, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

Doug, so glad you visited Gallicissa! I thought you two would have a lot in commmon. He has another great dragonfly post up right now!


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