Take 1/2 cup of the grapes and cut them in half. Remove the seeds with the point of your knife. Set aside. Put the remaining 2 cups of the grapes in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of water and cook over medium-high heat until the grapes break down. Use a potato masher or wooden spoon to mash all the grapes in the pot. Pour the contents of the pot through a fine strainer over a bowl, pushing on the grapes to get all the juice. Discard the seeds and skins. Put the juice back in the saucepan with the halved grapes, the balsamic, the shallots, the rosemary, the salt and the sugar and bring to a boil. Cook until the compote is reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes.
Cook of the month Sue Wiley and her husband Tom love muscadines. They’ve grown two rows of muscadine vines they started as a hobby
into a 220-vine, you-pick operation. Tom enjoys the growing process. “And my pleasure comes from eating them, especially the black varieties, and visiting with our many repeat customers,” Sue said. She started making basic muscadine jellies, but Tom encouraged her to make some that included the hull, so she did, and this version quickly became his favorite. “He really likes the texture,” she said. “It just adds something extra.”
5 pounds muscadines (black or bronze)
6 cups sugar
1 box Sure Jell
Prepare jars and flats before starting jelly. Keep both in hot water. Wash muscadines. Cut muscadines in half and remove hulls. Cut up hulls. Place hulls in a pan and just cover with water. Cook on medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. If water gets low, add more. When tender, remove from heat and set aside. Place pulp in pan and cover with water. Cook about 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and press through sieve to remove seeds. Mix hull mixture and seedless pulp mixture together. You will need 6 cups of this.
Place in large pan and add Sure Jell. Mix well and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, mix well and return to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam. Pour into hot jars to ¼ inch from the top. Wipe jar top and cover tightly with lid. Place in water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars and place on towel-covered counter to cool. When cool, press on top of lid to check if it’s sealed. If it’s sealed, it won’t spring back.
Refrigerate any unsealed jars. Yield 5-6 pints, or 10-12 half-pints.
Alabama’s only native grapes are as full of valuable nutrients as they are flavor.
Muscadine grapes (of which scuppernongs are one variety) are the native grape of the Southeast and have been growing wild all over the region for centuries. Their verdant vines produce round, plump fruit that once nourished Native Americans, and they were discovered growing freely, climbing up trees and tangling over brush, by Europeans colonizing North Carolina. Today, this grape variety is cultivated all over Alabama in backyards, on farms and at wineries, and wild vines still twist around trunks tucked away in forests and tumble and crawl over fence posts on the edges of fields.
When I was a kid, my mama’s daddy had four lines of scuppernong vines off to one side of his backyard. On any late summer or early autumn visit, my attention was fixed on the sun-warmed, speckled golden orbs that hung from the vines, almost hidden beneath wide green leaves. I’d pick as many as I could reach and pop them in my mouth, devouring their distinct sweetness, earthy and woodsy. The grapes’ thick, sinewy skins make you work for even the tiniest taste; you have to chew through that rubbery exterior while your teeth dodge slippery, bitter seeds. But boy, is it worth it.
I still like eating muscadines straight out of hand. No muss. No fuss. Just a cup for spitting seeds in. They also hold up well to cooking and lend their sweetness to this month’s reader submitted recipes.
For the rest of this week, Alabama Living will be featuring Muscadine recipes. Follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss any of these great uses for Alabama’s grapes.
Immerse and soak plank in water for at least 1 hour, drain. Preheat grill between 350 degrees to 400 degrees (medium-high heat). Combine salt and next 7 ingredients, rub over fish. Place plank on grill rack; grill 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Carefully turn plank over, place fish on charred side of plank. Cover grill with lid and grill fish 25 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Cut fish crosswise into slices.
Pour marinade over shrimp and cover all for at least one hour. Put shrimp on skewers and place on medium-hot grill. Cook for two minutes per side until finished. If you don’t want to grill, you can place the shrimp and marinade in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté until shrimp are done (three to five minutes). Use liquid smoke to give your shrimp grill flavor if you choose to cook indoors.
As strange as it may seem, wild critters are a serious and escalating problem that electrical utilities continually battle. Squirrels, raccoons, opossums, snakes, and birds have caused more bizarre electrical outages, blinks, surges and service interruptions than the public would believe possible. And trying to put a stop to the problem is not only expensive, but nearly impossible.
The critter situation has become a war — and the critters are winning. As subdivisions invade what was once natural habitat, more and more wildlife ends up with human neighbors. And that inquisitive wildlife is stirring up trouble by turning power lines into highways or power poles into perches.
Some squirrels have developed a taste for insulation on wires or even gnaw on the wire itself, resulting in crispy critters and lots of mad consumers.
Large birds using poles as a perch can also cause problems, as do raccoons, opossums, and even snakes that have crawled into substations and shorted out equipment affecting thousands of consumers.
While weather continues as the leading cause of power interruptions, approximately 30 percent of Wiegress Electric’s total outages are critter-caused in some way.
The Co-Op has spent thousands of dollars on devices to thwart critters from special insulators to bandingpoles. But there is basically nothing squirrels can’t get by. And when they unwittingly touch a live wire — it’s lights out, both for Wiregrass Electrical consumers and the bushytail.
For Wiregrass Electric’s employees, critters make every day an adventure, from the serviceman dealing with the family dog protecting his turf to the lineman who just discovered a hornet’s net attached to a transformer he’s working on. WEC’s field workers have to deal with bee, wasp, and hornet stings, spider and tick bites — and even fire ants that invade underground transformers. And let’s not forget wild animals flushed out by right-of-way crews.
Who would think about a raccoon causing a serious power outage? Believe me, critter outages are a problem that we continually have to deal with in providing you with dependable service!
But regardless of what causes your power to go off, we rush to get it back on as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we can’t control either the weather or critters when they threaten your power service.
A simple recipe for home-made sauerkraut from Elaine Kitchens of Cullman.
Quart canning jars
Canning rings and lids
Cut up as much cabbage as you desire with a kraut cutter. Stuff cabbage in a quart canning jar, tight. Put 1 teaspoon of salt on top of cabbage. Pour boiling water over salt until jar is full. Screw canning ring and lid on jars. Put jars in an out building or carport for 6 weeks. Jars will work over the rim. After 6 weeks, clean outside of jars, tighten rings and put jars in your cabinet.
Sue Robbins and her husband developed their recipe for pear relish after enjoying a version made by some friends. “We’d let them pick pears from our trees, and they made a relish,” she says. “We liked it but came up with our own.” They use the abundance of fresh pears their two trees yield and also turn to their yard for other ingredients. “We use peppers I grow in our garden,” Sue says. The Robbinses add the relish’s mix of sweet, tart and heat to amp up all kinds of things: vegetables like fresh field peas, meats like pork and turkey – Sue always puts some out at Thanksgiving – as well as salmon. But they like it best spooned atop a grilled hot dog.
1 peck pears (about 15 pounds)
5 red sweet peppers
5 green sweet peppers
3 hot peppers
5 large onions
5 cups sugar
5 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon saltPeel and core pears, grind and drain off most of the juice. Prepare peppers and onions and grind (do not drain). Dissolve sugar and salt in vinegar and bring to a boil. Add other ingredients, boil for 20 minutes. Put in hot jars and seal.
If you are among the ranks of millions of fishermen who prefer artificial lures, the chances are pretty good that sooner or later you may find yourself dangling from the business end of a set of treble hooks. How many times have you overshot your target and hooked a springy willow bush? Two or three healthy jerks on the rod and the lure snaps loose, flying back straight at your face.
Or, how about the age-old technique of landing a bass by grasping its lower jaw and shoving your thumb into a mouthful of treble hooks. Is your fishing partner the type of fellow who prefers a long rod even when you’re sharing a small boat?]|||||
Believe me, the whistle of a lure as it passes the ear is carrying more than just a message.
These are but a few examples of the many ways anglers manage to get themselves hooked. Once it happens, the hook must be removed or the trip is ruined while you search for a doctor; no easy task on many weekends.
One recommended way of removing an embedded hook is to push the point of the hook on through the skin until it is exposed. Then snip off or bend the barb down so that it can be backed out. This works pretty well provided you have the necessary tool for cutting or bending the barb and you’re not too sensitive to pain. Even then, you wind up with two puncture wounds instead of one, compounding the chance of infection.
Another method, which is easier and less painful, requires only a piece of strong fishing line or shoe lace. Run the line around the middle of the hook’s bend forming a loop. Wrap the line around the hand or finger and grasp it between the thumb and index finger. Hold the lure carefully in your hand while applying pressure downward and backward on the eye of the hook, then give a sharp jerk on the line. The hook will back out of the same hole it entered with a minimum of pain and tissue damage. Dab a little antiseptic, apply a band-aid, and you’re back in business.
As a precautionary measure, if the hook involves any part of the eye, see a doctor immediately, and if you haven’t had a tetanus booster recently, get one within 48 hours.
Removing a hook with a piece of string can be accomplished by one person as long as the hook can be reached with both hands. When this is not the case, it pays to have a good fishing partner who can follow directions.
The best advice though is to make sure your lures do what they were designed to do and catch fish — not people. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a predicament much like the fellow who accidentally hooked his wife in the upper lip. The story goes that she was speechless, but only for a moment.
Dedicated Volunteers Make Local Beaches Sea Turtle Friendly
By: Gabriel Tynes
They are often the first people on the beach every summer day — a small army of volunteers armed with cell phones, trash bags and cameras, patrolling the sand between Fort Morgan and Orange Beach for signs of endangered life. Some of them walk for their health and others do it for the friendship and camaraderie. However, the object of their mission is often nowhere in sight.
The Share the Beach program brings volunteers together to comb the sand for sea turtle nests every morning between May and October, which is turtle nesting season. They look for the tell-tale tracks females leave behind as they drag themselves from the sea in the middle of the night to lay as many as 160 eggs.
If a nest is discovered, volunteers will make a phone call to area professionals, who evaluate it for its likelihood to hatch. Often, the nest is moved slightly inland to prevent it from being washed away or trampled, and it is clearly marked and covered with a screen to help keep out predators. The incubation period lasts around 55 days, after which about 65 percent of the eggs are likely to hatch.
Making Their Home
While the program has uncovered encouraging information, organizers say it is still too young to provide many clues about the overall welfare of the state’s sea turtle population.
According to Kelly Reetz, a naturalist at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, volunteers have identified at least 15 sea turtle nests along Alabama beaches as of this past June. In 2006, there were 46 — eight more than they found in 2005.
“It has been fairly productive lately,” Reetz said in June. “Our first turtle this year was a Kemps Ridley, one of the more scarce species, so we were especially excited about that.”
Although several species of sea turtles live and breed in the Gulf of Mexico, the loggerhead is by far the most frequent turtle to grace Alabama sand. In fact, as many as 95 percent of the nests discovered in recent years have held loggerhead eggs.
“I don’t know if that is saying something about the numbers of other species or the wider range of the loggerhead,” Reetz said. She also emphasized that Alabama is on the western-most end of sea turtle nesting areas in the United States, and therefore sees less variety in nesting turtle species.
Indeed, Alabama records far fewer turtle nests each year than other coastal states like Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. But that doesn’t make the local habitat any less important to their survival.
“I think if the turtles just stopped nesting here altogether that would indicate something about our effect on the environment,” Reetz said. “But from what I’ve seen, mother turtles are resilient, and they will nest just about anywhere there is sand. What you have to worry about are the hatchlings.”
Reetz said a major problem with human encroachment onto turtle nesting grounds is that lights from nearby developments can confuse the hatchlings, and lead them to travel in the wrong direction, often toward their death.
“Instinctively, the hatchlings are looking for the flatness of water and the light from the moon and the stars,” she said. “Imagine being less than one inch tall and looking behind you to see dunes that look like mountains. Meanwhile, in the other direction, there is the moon and the stars and the sea and it should be enough to get you to go into the water.”
Reetz said in the areas where the dunes have been flattened and high-rise condos have created an artificial sky, turtle hatchlings are prone to wander in the opposite direction than they need to go. Reetz remembers one occasion when she was called to a condominium complex where a nest full of turtle hatchlings and fallen into a swimming pool and storm drain.
“There was a pelican there just having its way with them,” Reetz said. “When you see something like that, you really realize how helpless they are.”
A Helping Hand
While the volunteer program has reduced such incidences to a minimum, sea turtle welfare ultimately depends on cooperation from several different parties. For its part, Baldwin EMC turns or shades street lights along Fort Morgan and West Beach roads where sea turtles have been known to nest in the past. Other organizations promote habitat conservation or the use of special devices to help exclude sea-going turtles from fishing nets.
Second-year Share the Beach volunteer Sandi Caudill walks a portion of Gulf State Park every Friday along with her husband and three others. Together, they have discovered two nests this year — both loggerheads. They believe they are really making a difference, and are excited about witnessing the hatching of their two nests, which are due sometime this month.
“That is when you know what you’re doing matters,” Caudill said. “The entire process is satisfying, but being able to see the hatchlings crawl toward the water will be the most fulfilling part of it. Without volunteers, many of the eggs wouldn’t stand a chance.”
Although total population figures are a mystery, all sea turtles remain protected under the Endangered Species Act, which makes it a felony to disturb nesting females, their eggs, or their hatchlings. Anyone who spots a beached or nesting turtle should call state wildlife authorities. Meanwhile, Share the Beach is always looking for willing and reliable volunteers, and anyone wishing to contribute may call 866-Sea-Turtle.