Dylan the Butterfly

One afternoon a few weeks back when our dill was tall and seed bearing, my husband noticed that the plants had some new tenants.

Eastern Black Swallowtail

We had two Eastern Swallowtail caterpillars happily munching down on the plants.  We had already taken our seeds for next year and they weren’t going after our vegetables so we let them be.  Besides who doesn’t like butterflies hanging around?  We planned to keep on eye on them and hopefully get to watch their different stages of development.

Fast forward to the next morning…We were sitting in the kitchen, eating breakfast, drinking our caffeinated beverage when something caught Honey’s eye.  It was a cardinal-and he too was watching the dill plants with a great deal of interest.  Before my husband could get the sentence out of mouth, the cardinal pulled one of the caterpillars off the dill and chomped it up.  Being no stranger to walking out into the backyard in my pajamas and shooing away various unpleasing creatures (usually squirrels stealing from the bird feeder and one time a snake) I leapt up and ran to the dill plant to see if the other caterpillar had survived.  He/she had.  

Standing there for protection I could see the cardinal was still standing by, waiting for his second breakfast.  This would be a good time to mention our’s and practically the whole neighborhood’s bird feeders were full.  I was depriving him of a filet-type meal, but there were enough worms and seeds to keep this cardinal’s belly full.  I realized I couldn’t stand there forever and so my husband suggested we bring him in.  We cut part of the parent plant (and a few more blooms) and set the caterpillar up on my office bookcase.

Dylan on dill 

I sent this picture to my sister Firefly, because our Dad raises butterflies and I thought she might get a kick out it.  She thought it was cool and  asked me what had I named him.  To be honest it had never occurred to me to give this little guy/gal a name.  I had no idea what I was doing and I figured it probably wouldn’t make it to the pupa stage.  I thought about it for a minute and decided to call it Dylan, it was a caterpillar of the dill and I had no idea what its gender was.

A few days went by and it ate everything it could and pooped constantly! We had finally run out of fresh dill plants when Dylan decided to start exploring the rest of my bookcase.  I was worried he was looking for food and I put what small remittence of the dill plant I could find in the ball jar Dylan had been perched on.  That did not entice Dylan back, instead Dylan found a candlestick and slowly crawled up it.  At first I was scared that we had starved it to death, but then I noticed over a few hours that it was beginning to contract and not in a morbid kind of way.

Dylan takes a rest

The next morning we saw that the pupa had began to form and one Home Depot trip later, Dylan was in complete pupa form.  

Dylan in pupa state

In case your wondering that thing beneath the pupa is Dylan’s former head.  I looked it up and people said that was normal.  For ten days after obsessively checking on it a couple times each day (I didn’t want it to get trapped in the house), I discovered one morning that Dylan the Butterfly had woken up. 

Dylan wakes up

I had reached Dylan before he/she could fly, but Dylan could move around very quickly.  So I grabbed an empty trash can and put the entire candle stick in it.  Then I covered it with a piece of paper, telling him with each step that I took to get to the backyard to “stay put”.  I had visions of Dylan making a break for it and Bailey and Hitch finding a brand new toy.

When I made it outside and took off the paper, Dylan hoped right out and onto the cement of our patio.  I figured Dylan was still tired and needed to pump up his wings before he could go start his month of fun.  So I put out my finger and for some reason Dylan latched on.  I put him on a flower that was next to the plant where he was born and took a few pictures before he flew away.

Dylan the ButterflyIt took longer than I expected for Dylan to leave the flower so I got a few chances to check on him.  Each time I worried I had put him in the wrong spot; it was too windy, the flower wouldn’t give him enough nourishment, he was in a spot where a bird would come along and eat him.  But I realized I had to let Dylan figure this out, it was out my hands now.  It had been three hours from when I put him on the flower, but this time when I checked on him, he was gone.  I was a little disappointed not to see him but hoped he was off having some fun.  

Garlic & Rosemary Chicken

After I finished the first draft of my novel I waited the few weeks I gave myself to let it rest in my mind. I then picked up my trusty red pencil and began making the edits. I now have a very red hard copy of my novel.

I took a break from blogging because honestly I didn’t know where I was going to go from here.  Was I going to share the ins and outs of my writing process here, would I form another blog to make connections with other writers, or was I just going to go “June Cleaver” of this thing and let the novel part just be a cute pun?  The truth is that I still haven’t decided but I’ve really missed writing here… so here I am.

I have been enjoying the summer.  We have explored new places in town and a few out of town, I have won courageously against the Battle of the Beige in our house (even with the summer weather), my sister Firefly came back for a visit and got to see some sunny days this time, our garden has shocked us with how much it has produced in such a short time, and we have really enjoyed getting to know our new friends out here.  Oh and we discovered one of the most addicting board games ever…Star Trek Catan.  Seriously don’t start playing the game unless you have time for a couple rounds.  Thankfully (for our sake) it requires three people to play, so we have to wait until we have a willing guest to dive back into it.  Anyone free Sunday afternoon? 😉

Today I am keeping close to the kitchen because I have an enormous pot simmering on the stove.  I am making my first homemade chicken stock from a chicken I roasted over the weekend.  It’s one of those days where they have been predicting rain, but the sun is shining and our plants are threatening to wilt if they don’t get a sip of water soon.  While I debate the merits of a pre-storm watering I have been organizing and categorizing files on my computer.  I’ll let you know how the stock turns out, but I happen to know that the chicken that I am making with it was delicious, so I will share that reipe with you now.

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This is my own hybrid of a recipe, I have seen parts of it in books and around the web, so if you have any feedback I am all ears.  Now I treat raw chicken like it is acid so I wash my hands a million times when I make it and I try my best to make it so I don’t touch anything I don’t need to while I handle the chicken.

So with that in mind I highly recommend taking everything out of the pantry/fridge before you unwrap the chicken.  I found that grinding the pepper into its own little prep bowl helps, same with the salt. Make sure your garlic cloves our peeled and the rosemary is clean.

Garlic & Rosemary Roasted Chicken:

(1)one whole chicken 3-5lbs

(4-6) sprigs of rosemary

(2-6) whole cloves of garlic

(3) Tbsp Olive Oil

(2-3) tsp Ground Black Pepper

(2) tsp Kosher Salt

(2) tsp dried rosemary (or fresh if you want

large Dutch/French oven capable of being in a 450 degree oven (I use use the 6.5 qt Costco Le Creuset knock-off)

meat thermometer

enough aluminum foil to cover the chicken

 

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

2. rub around a tsp of olive oil all over the inside the oven pot with a paper towel

3. empty chicken cavity of its insides, wash inside and out and then dry with paper towels.  Once it’s dry put chicken into oven pot

4. put 1-2 tsp of pepper and 1 tsp of salt into cavity of chicken.

5. put 4 springs of fresh rosemary and the garlic into chicken cavity

5. OPTIONAL: stuff a few springs of fresh rosemary between the chicken breast and its skin.

6. rub bird with remaining olive oil.

7. Sprinkle the rest of salt and pepper onto the bird.

8. sprinkle dried (or fresh rosemary) onto the bird

9. Put on the middle rack of the oven with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not cover.

10. Cook until internal temperature has reached 180 degrees, it should take around an hour to get to that temperature.   (Just to be on the safe side I usually cook my chicken until 183 degrees).

11. Once it is cooked, remove it from the oven and put a piece of aluminum foil over the bird.  Let it cool for ten minutes and then transfer to another plate or board to serve.

Enjoy with potatoes and steamed vegetables, or if someone at the table has been very good: biscuits.