Human Flower Project
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Get Down with Bissap
Build your verve and calm your nerves with a glass of festivity, gift of the hibiscus.
Brewing bissap from hibiscus flowers over an open fire.
What’s red and healthy and drunk all over?
Hibiscus tea. It goes by many names across the world – karkade in the Sudan, roselle in Thailand, flor de jamaica in Jamaica, and Red Zinger at your favorite hippie restaurant. Since moving to Texas 12 years ago, it’s been our favorite summertime beverage, though only today did we learn that it’s a widely acknowledged “refrigerant,” that like Barton Springs Pool, can actually lower body temperature.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Wendish heritage is strong on noodles, Lutheranism, coffee cake, and roses.
Window of the Luther Rose: St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Serbin, TX
Photo: Human Flower Project
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in tiny Serbin, Texas, looks severe as a whitewashed Amish barn, but inside it shines likes a sapphire. The sanctuary really glowed Sunday with two services, part of the town’s celebration of its Wendish heritage.
Pastor Robert L. Hartfield had come all the way from Pennsylvania to preach the German sermon. He remembered the faith and courage of Johann Killian, another Lutheran minister, who led a group from near the Spree River through to Liverpool, Ireland, and on to Texas in 1854. The Wends, a Slavic people from the northeastern part of today’s German nation, risked their lives to sail away for many reasons, primarily so they could go on practicing their hard line Lutheranism after the German state required all churches to come into one more moderate Protestant union.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Gasping for Apples
‘Wide” crosses with Eurasian crab apple trees bore red-flesh fruit for Albert Etter. The Burtons of British Columbia carry on his colorful legacy.
Pink Pearmain, one of the Burtons’ 27 red-flesh apples
Photo: Harry Burton
Harry Burton is a zealot for red flesh apples. He and his wife Debbie grow 27 varieties of these freaky fruits at their farm on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, and hold an apple festival there every fall.
Through a combination of indolence and congenital nostalgia, we’ve always found white flesh apples plenty fine (same goes for pink roses rather than blue ones, green foliage, and one headed kittens). Today, though, Harry enticed us into reading a short bio of pomologist Albert Etter, his hero.
It was Etter, a German immigrant to Humboldt County, California, who figured out how to make red flesh apples tasty. “Where conventional plant breeders would make their crosses between the most desireable standard varieties, Etter preferred ‘wide’ crosses that utilized primitive, almost wild types that are genetically distant from the more common kinds. Many of his best apple varieties have a crab apple for one parent.”
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Breadfruit: The Real Thing
There’s no taste like home; for Georgia Silvera Seamans, that’s creamy Jamaican breadfruit.
Artocarpus altilis is a member of the mulberry family.
Drawing: Bats and Breadfruit
I received a small gift of Jamaican breadfruit recently. Until I prepared it, frying slices and serving them with cherry tomatoes, avocado, and scrambled egg for dinner, I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed breadfruit.
You can eat it with breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And I have. My husband, a non-Jamaican, asked me what one would traditionally eat with breadfruit. It partners well with eggs and slices of tomatoes, and I also remembered one of my favorite accompaniments – ackee and saltish, Jamaica’s national dish. (Or maybe it was ackee & saltfish, prepared with onions and tomatoes, with a side of breadfruit.)
My mother used to prepare breadfruit by frying peeled slices or by slicing a breadfruit that had been roasted on the stovetop. Simply place the fruit on a burner, slowly turning it until it is charred entirely. Slice the breadfruit and remove the skin before serving. More detailed roasting preparations as well as selection tips can be found here.