It was a *very*grumpy* morning for me when I walked into our living room and belted out, “What should we do when your mama is tired and grumpy?”
“Go to The Lost Road!” Alastair (5) shouted.
“Wow, good idea,” I thought. “That really might do it!”
But I was suddenly in a fix: Frederick had announced some days prior that on our next adventure on The Lost Road we should cook something with pine needles.
There I was, tired and grumpy, with a pine needle problem.
The solution came simply. I asked on our Facebook page for suggestions and not only did we get the excellent suggestion of making a syrup and adding it to flan but we were even directed to a recent NPR article. Apparently cooking with pine needles is “a thing.” Gourmet chefs have started making pine vinegars and syrup.
The grumpiness began to fade.
Not only did we have a plan, we were on the cutting edge of “Cooking with Conifers” (read the NPR article here).
We were cool.
(You have to find your coolness opportunities wherever you can get them, the opportunities being so rare and all.)
I found the boys out with the hens and we headed out. I should mention that Frederick who turns 12 in April, is working on perfecting the adolescent, “I don’t know!” He provides a demonstration here in the video but ended up getting into The Lost Road adventure.
It turns out that our gardening zone (“Zone 7”) is also called “The Digger Pine Zone,” characterized by the scrubby digger pine. We set off after its needles.
A big problem we had was that digger pines can get very tall. We quickly found a half dozen pine trees, all too tall for us to collect their needles in any reasonable way.
We decided that we really need to get a chain saw down on The Lost Road, lest it get lost again.
Boom! Pine needles and our plan for using them:
We covered the needles with water, brought them to a boil, reduced the heat, and allowed them to simmer for some hours until the liquid was reduced by half. We then used the liquid to make a pine needle syrup (which did make an excellent flan). We have been experimenting with pine sodas as well. The butter project was a complete success with an excellent shortbread cookie. I’ll post recipes in the next week or two. It’s a fun project!
The boys posed with the pine needles on our back porch. You can just see Alastair there on the left, about to explode, thinking, “I have a basket full of pine swords! Sitting still is impossible!”