Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weapons of Grass Destruction

Due to the warm weather and heavy rains, here in the South, the lawn wars are a front and center subject most of the time.  I find myself constantly worrying about the lawn and the lawn care equipment.  My Weapons of Grass Destruction get used more than any other tool I have.

One of the things I hate the most about the Lawn Wars is the clean up afterward.  My John Deere mower  is a mulching mower (when it's working) and when I need to, I can put on the grass catcher and bag up the clippings.  Whether I bag them or mulch them, the sidewalks and driveway get a nice even dusting of grass clippings.  Once they dry out, they get tracked into the house and the car.  I try to use a big professional sized push broom to sweep them up after mowing, but the heavy aggregate in my cement driveway keeps them from being swept up easily.  Cue aggravated screaming, cursing and gnashing of teeth.  

I have always wanted a blower to take care of this problem but for one reason or another I never found one at an affordable price at the same time that I had said affordable price to spend.  Until now!   Just a couple of weeks ago, we visited a local thrift store, and there, midst the golf clubs and the expired baby car seats is the beautiful blower you see above. A quick test of the electric motor and for a mere $11.50 (plus tax) it's mine!

At home, the internet tells me that this is the Paramount PB150 Blower, made way back in the early 1980s.  The side you can see there, has a nifty removable grate for cleaning and it shows me that this unit was well cared for. So well, in fact, that it took little to get it ready to use.  

It was only a few days until I could again mow and I was itching to get out the new blower.  After I got the lawn cut, the blower made short work of the grass clippings turning a 45 minute sweeping job into a mere 5 minutes. I was nearly dancing up and down the driveway. Ok, ok...I WAS dancing up and down the driveway. And skipping. Yes, skipping.  So sue me! 

As much as dancing down the driveway while using my new (used) blower may keep me from being considered one of the Good Ol' Boys, I may just do it again next week, too.  Such is life in the South. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Suthun Thinking - The State Sale

The weather has turned warm (very warm) and the short (very short) 2 weeks spring season has come and gone.  Summer is upon the South and it's time for that most honored of  summer activities, Yard Sale-ing.  My wife and I love to hit the yard sales when we've got a few bucks and are lucky to find yard sales up in our area.  Not a long drive.  Great deals too.  It's a great day when first thing on the weekend we find signs pointing us to those aforementioned yard and garage sales. 

Now, that said, you can imagine my interest when this sign popped up in our neighborhood just the other day.  I asked my wife if she was interested and she said it was so late in the day already that we'd probably only find the leftovers, like New Jersey.  I'll wait while you catch your breath. Yeah, a good joke that.  

One of the things that sets Suthunas aside from other folks is their natural ability to confuse things and yet at the same time make themselves understood.  I mean, it's obvious that no one is selling states.  (Yes, the economy is bad,  but I've not seen any states actually for least not yet.)  So, you can guess that SOMETHING is for sale, and maybe you ought to swing on by and see what it is. Thus, the sign has done its job. Confusing, yet effective.

Now, let's see, where is this odd State being sold?  The wooden piece at the top appears to be pointing to the right, but the small arrow drawn on the poster points left.  See what I mean? Just enough confusion to get  your interest up. Nicely done, Suh, nicely done.  

What do you suppose you'll find being sold?  Only some old clothes and furniture?  No States?  Ok.  Good thing we checked.  

Next time you're in the South, be sure to bring extra cash and take home a state or two yourself.  And, if you live in New Jersey, or some other left over state...sorry bout that joke there...we's jes' funnin...

I don't know why I wrote that, I don't talk like that.  At all.  Ever.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Poke Salad or Poke me again and I'll Poke you back.

Last weekend, I was instructed by the wife to go out and cut down a weed.  It was a mighty big weed, too, over 6 foot tall.  As I was headed out, she also informed me that this was a Poke Weed.  Now, immediately my mind went to the 1968 hit song by Tony Joe White "Poke Salad Annie". (Sort of sounds like a party at Facebook - everyone doing POKES!...ok, that joke was rather lame, but let's move on.)  Rather than cut it down and throw it away, I wondered aloud about making us some 'poke salad.'  It's what any good ol' suthun wanna-be like myself would do, right? - The wife laughed at me.

You see, if not prepared properly, Poke Plants are toxic.  I would imagine that all the good ol' boys in the area know this.  So, then, how does one prepare this oddity without killing oneself? The song would suggest that Poke can be prepared to consume, albeit prepared properly being the key.  First, harvest: you want to have young leaves only with little or no purple (yes, purple!).

In the kitchen, cut out the stems and discard. Wash the leaves and boil for about 20 minutes in plenty of water. Pour through a colander and boil again in fresh water for about 10 minutes. Drain it a second time and put it in fresh water to boil for a third time. This time, add any seasonings like onions and garlic, spices, salt, etc. You could also toss in a ham bone or other protein or vegetables as you see fit.  Cook this last time for at least 10 minutes or as long as you need to cook the other ingredients and bingo! You've got a lip smackin' mess of poke grandma would be proud of.

And what does it taste like? I've never had any, so I had to ask around.  According to one source, poke weed has a very strong taste, even after all that boiling.  An acquired taste, I suppose.  Some people love it, while it's a little strong for others. Serve it with cornbread, whose natural sweetness complements the hearty flavor.  (Old timers steep the poke leaves without any seasonings and use it as a tonic.  These tonic users claim that poke tea is the reason for their long life.)

More than a weed or food stuff, Poke also has other uses. In the civil war, soldiers used the purple berries for ink (which is why many old letters you may see from that period appear brown - they were using Poke  Weed Juice!) and as a dye when used alone or with other plants such as pumpkin to produce a rich brown.  The weed grows mostly in the Southern US, from West Virginia to Texas.  

As far as cutting them down, they cut down real easy, I didn't even have to resort to the chain saw.  It's in the wood pile now, but I  have to admit the roots are still out there.  I know I'll see some more of the Poke if we get enough rain.  

I guess I'll be digging those roots up later this year...and now I got that song stuck in my head to boot.