Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Souvenir From Texas

I will begin our tale of our trip to San Antonio, Texas with what we brought home. Not a souvenir from a store but a gift from Texas herself.

Unlike Indian Paintbrush, which is Wyoming's state plant, Texas's state plant, the prickly pear cactus, covers their countryside and when I spied them loaded with jelly supplies, I was determined to bring some home.

How would this Wyomingite have a clue about making prickly pear cactus jelly? A friend who was raised in New Mexico introduced me to making the jelly when she brought some of its fruit home from a trip to see her mom who still lives down there. That was fifteen or better years ago and though I have never seen the seed pod perched on top the plant before, not even in pictures, I recognized it right away.

At first I just wanted some pictures and as I cautiously stooped to take some close ups, the idea of making jelly entered. I figured if I was to take home a real souvenir of Texas, this would definitely be it. Best of all, it could be shared.

I discussed my plans with Kirk. He thought it was a good idea and while I snapped some more shots, he went over and grabbed a hold of the pod with one hand and cut it off with his pocket knife. Some of you guessed it. He spent the next twenty miles digging fine haired thorns, that aren't at first visible, from his hand.

But, first he cut open the pod, scooped out some of the juice, tasted it, and declared it delicious.

In the next town, we bought hot dog tongs preparatory for our trip home. We planned our travel time so we'd stay in Junction the first night and head north early in the morning so as to be in the area where we had seen the cactus lining the fences. As long as we didn't trespass, who would care? The pastures were infested with it. If the local residents wanted any, there was more than enough for everyone.

I held the camera to record the event and the plastic sack, while Kirk twisted off the pods.

When we got home, I picked zucchini, some boat sized, along with the green beans. While I canned fifteen pints of beans, I watered the garden, and hung load after load of washed clothes and bedding on the line. Our daughter, Josie, and her girls had stayed most of the week to take care of the animals. I had to laugh when I found a juice box in the bathroom drawer and coasters lined up between the metal frame and the mattress on the spare bed. Who knows what other treasures I'll find around the house when I clean.

As I'm still unpacking, the jelly making will just have to wait until tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.

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