Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Angraecum didieri

Mini Angraecums are a peculiar addiction that has affected all too many of my friends. Surely such small plants could hardly be a problem...and then you have twenty of them, all of costly, several needing Special Conditions or at the very least a bit of coddling. In return, you may or may not get lovely fragrant white flowers in varying quantities, for varying periods of time. Sounds fair to me!

My personal forays into the Angraecoids were mostly limited to Aerangises, which have performed poorly for me. Or I let them down. Either way, I decided to give up. But lo! Last year Cal-Orchid released a large selection of Angraecum didieri, multiple growths, in spike or just blooming size. I had to have one.

I flowered it, and then nearly killed it. What the hell! Yellowed and then browned leaves, bottom to top. The crowns barely hung on. I suspected thrips and washed the plant. I doused with cinnamon. I watered, spritzed, shifted to another spot. It sulked. It did nothing at all but remain alive. I suspected I'd overwatered and cut back a bit. The mix seemed OK, so I didn't mess with that.

So naturally I got another one this spring, when opportunity arose. And...

Well, it sort of sat there for a month, which wasn't surprising, really. Tentatively, it made a leaf from one of the two growths. Extended a few root tips. Sat there some more. The two tantalizing spikes did nothing. It got watered with everything else, with both plain water and MSU fertilizer (at irregular intervals). Then I decided to finally open the bottle of MegaThrive I got late last year, and spray it all over everything, twice a week.

Buds and flowers on EVERYTHING. Well, not everything. But the newer Ang. didieri burst into bloom literally within ten days of being sprayed. One of the tantalizing spikes evolved nearly overnight. One more tantalizing spike remains...

The older plant, meanwhile, remains alive. It now clearly needs repotting, along with a couple dozen other plants, so hope springs eternal.

Knitting up VK Live 2013: Dragonfly Fibers Super Traveller

Dragonfly Fibers Super Traveler "Bad Moon Rising"

I obviously did not have enough yarn stash, so I went to Vogue Knitting Live in January 2013 to remedy that situation. Seriously, only a few months after Rhinebeck 2012, I realized my stash lacked certain things. Big bouncy fluffy yarn for warm hats, for example. I bought 2 skeins of that sort of thing at Rhinebeck -- but otherwise my stash was now almost entirely lighter weight yarns, especially the nice hand-dyed stuff.

Normally, this has never been an actual problem. Knitting with 2 strands of yarn works very well. I've done it any number of times, when a bulkier yarn was wanted for a scarf or hat. Combining 2 different yarns this way isn't exactly rocket surgery. I just didn't feel like it, this time around. My last attempt, combining 3 yarns, was very pretty but not actually successful: a bit too bulky, too stiff. Discouraging.

Insanity aside, I did manage to find a couple of skeins of lovely bulky wool. Dragonfly Fibers satisfied my urge for beret material: Super Traveler. Amazing smooshy squooshy 100% merino wonderfulness. AND THE COLORS. Bad Moon Rising (pictured above) was impossible to resist. So was Admiral Benbow:

Dragonfly Fibers "Admiral Benbow"

You see my problem, right?

So, hats. The Bad Moon Beret has become my favorite warm woolly winter hat. It's just a tad too big at the headband, so it slips a bit if I move my head fast or bend down for a few moments, but I can live with that.

Bad Moon Rising Beret

The Benbow Hat is a bit too snug, but again, I can live with that. Warm and toasty rules.

New Hat

Spring Beets & Beer Stew

Spring is taking its sweet time this year. But the New York City Greenmarkets are finally showcasing something other than potatoes and ten-month-old apples! Asparagus, beets, broccoli rabe, lettuce, scallions and herbs overflow the tables. All is well.

What to do with a gorgeous bunch of tender young beets with lovely velvety leaves?

Prep your favorite big cooking pot. Combine several meaty country-style pork ribs with chopped onions and plentiful salt, pepper, rosemary & thyme in sizzling olive oil. Add 1 bottle of beer (I had Sam Adams handy). Cover and simmer 1/2 hour. Add raw beets, peeled and cut into pleasing chunks. Cover & simmer 1 hour. Add cleaned & sliced beet greens and/or chard greens (and stalks), mix well, cover & simmer 1/2 hour. Add partially thawed frozen green fava beans (mine are imported from France, yours might come from an Asian market), simmer 15 more minutes.

Serve however you like: potatoes, rice, bulgur, bread, couscous, polenta.

If it happens that you devour all or most of the meat but have plenty of cooked greens & beets leftover, be sure to reheat them with thawed frozen or canned black-eyed peas. Seriously. Really good.

Lamb shoulder or shanks would be equally good here, too. Lamb and beets are a truly magical combination. I'll make that next.