Sometimes cooking can be difficult, but not if you call on a professional chef to help you. I got to work with Chef Ryan this week. He came and taught me how to make chicken broth, chicken pot pies, and mushroom risotto!
We also made homemade butter and he taught me some french culinary words like:
béchamel - which means a roux (a mother sauce) made of butter, flour, and milk
mise-en-place - which means everything in place; all your ingredients ready to go
mirepoix - a combination of carrots, onions and celery
It was really fun and everything tasted soooooo good! If you want to contact Chef Ryan you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
He also does catering.
Wow it's been a while since we've blogged! Sorry to all our loyal followers who have been anxiously awaiting a new post.
Yesterday we went on a field trip! Hurrah! We went to the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in Modjesko canyon (Modjesko canyon is named after a famous actress who lived there in the 1800s). It's a beautiful spot in the heart of the canyon with green hills, sycamore trees and birds tweeting galore. The Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary has been in operation for 80 years, and for the past 40 years CalState Fullerton has operated it. It's located in the Santa Ana mountains which border between OC and Riverside. There are approx. 2,000 native plants found in the mountains.
We learned tons about the land and native plants and animals that live there. Our tour guides Mark and Kurt were chock-full of information and stories about the sanctuary. We started out in the natural science center, and learned about the food web and how it is so important. Species that are endangered aren't good, because then it makes the web unbalanced and (for example) insects could become overpopulated and we'd have a huge dilemma when the certain animal that eats insects, isn't there to eat them. We're disturbing over their home, and their natural habitat is disappearing. Animals can adapt, but not as quickly as humans are moving into their territories.
After learning about the food web, we looked at some taxidermy and learned more about the native animals, and got to hold a corn snake and learn about him. Then we went outside and did some birdwatching, and hiked a little hill.
Here are some fun facts that we learned!
-Since Southern California is pretty much a desert, we only get about 12" of rain a year. This is one of the reasons why having native plants is so important. If we import non-native plants then they won't be able to survive and thrive in the new habitat. Non-native plants also typically need more water.
-A few native animals in our mountains that are on the endangered species list, include the desert pocket mouse (sounds so cute!) the Mojave desert tortoise, and the Arroyo toad.
-Mugwort brings relief to a poison oak victim. Poison oak oil only bothers people, not animals.
-75% of birds do not make it past 6 months old.
-Bobcats are not much bigger than a domestic house cat, and they leave humans alone. The only time an animal would strike at you and use their defense mechanism, is when you're messing with the animal. The number one animal that causes most deaths, is deer because of deer trying to cross roads and causing car crashes. But that's our own damn fault because we built roads through their home!
-It's not toads that croak (thanks for painting that picture Disney), it's frogs. Possums don't hang from their tails either.
-The Gray fox is the one canine that can climb trees.
-How to tell if an animal is a herbivore or a carnivore: Herbivores eyes are on the sides of their head, and carnivores eyes are in the front of their head.
-How to recognize a rattlesnake: They have a big triangular head and blunt tail. 90% of rattlesnake bites are caused by humans messing with them. They are the only snake that can sense heat. There is a rattlesnake grasshopper that mimics the rattling sound. Rattlesnakes can also bite up to 20 hours after dying. Adult rattlers don't like to use their venom, so they'll dry sting you. There are two types of venom, one affects muscles and one affects the blood. Snakes live for 20 years.
-Tarantula females live for 25 years and males breed at age 8 and live for only 10 years. Hairs on the tarantula's abdomen carry poison. They can release them into the air if they feel threatened, and get into your eyes and hurt like hell. Tarantulas molt and spin webs with their feet. There is a Tarantula Hawk Wasp that is the tarantula's number one enemy. They have the most painful sting of all insects. It's a parasitic wasp. They bite the tarantula and paralyze them then lays their eggs under the tarantula so then when the babies hatch they have food. They devour the poor paralyzed tarantula alive.
-The CA grizzly bear (on our state flag) is now extinct.
-The possum is the only native marsupial in the US. It was brought by the pioneers and they have 50 teeth. They have a small brain for their body type and have an 18 month life span.
-The Desert Tortoise is our state reptile. They live long lives into their hundreds.
-How to tell a turtle from a tortoise: Turtles have webbed feet for swimming, and tortoises have more claw-like feet for walking on land.
-We get 20% of our water from rain, 40% from the Colorado river and 40% from the Sacramento delta. Starting in 2018 the Colorado river is not renewing our contract and most of our water will be coming from the delta. We will have to majorly cut down water usage.
-Crow jay ravens are incredibly intelligent. They can bury up to 200 nuts in 200 different places and remember where each one.
-Sycamore trees drink 400 gallons of water from the ground each day.
-Hummingbirds migrate and they make nests with spider webs, dryer lint and other soft materials. Hummingbirds are only found in North & South America. The nectar that people set out for them is 1 part sugar, 4 parts water. They have a super high metabolism. They also get protein from insects. The colorful ones are males.
-Bats can eat 1,000 mosquitos a night (go bats!). They are the only mammals that can fly. 4% of bats carry rabies. Bats purr like cats (aw).
-The falcon is the fastest living creature, it can fly over 200 miles per hour!
-The cochenille bug is the bug that changed the world! They are small white scaly insects that live on cacti, and create a small white substance to live in. They are parasites. Cortez discovered the bug. When it's ground up it makes a beautiful red color. Cortez imported the bug, and told people it came from a grain (back then the microscope hadn't been invented yet). Spain made more money on the bug than silver or gold. Acid is what makes the dark red color. Starbucks got in big trouble because they used the bug in some of their drinks. The vegetarians and vegans went berserk.
-The woodpecker eats insects and acorns. You can tell a male from the red marking on his head, and the female has black & white on her head. They gather nuts and store them in trees.
-Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary is right next to Juan Flores peak. The peak is named after Juan Flores; a famous bandit from the 1850s. His gang was chased to the top of the mountain, and legend is that he jumped off the peak on his horse and made it to the ground safely. He was eventually captured in Simi Valley and lynched at age 22.
-Our CA state animals:
The Gray whale - marine mammal
Mojave Desert Tortoise - reptile
and Dog Face Butterfly - insect
The white bits are the cochenille
We highly recommend checking out the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary! It's a great learning experience.