How Do You Like Them Apples?

If I had a dollar for every time I found a recipe which called itself ‘simple’ but was actually simple only to those with larders like specialty stores and a mis-spent youth watching food-related television, I would be… well, marginally more plutocratic than at present.

This baked apple recipe, however, actually is simple. It has few ingredients, many of them optional or variable, and the processing required is minimal. Nor will it have a noticeable effect on your power bill as it does not require an oven to be heated, thus greatly speeding up the whole process.

Bramley's Seedling Apples

First, catch your apple – the more or less compulsory part of the recipe. In my case, it is a Bramley from the back garden. Ballarat apples are also suitable (albeit less fluffy once cooked) or, probably, any other kind of cooking apple. I haven’t tried this with any but the two apples named, as this is an unspectacular two-person kitchen, not the National Baked Apple Research Laboratory. Which, I’m sorry to tell you, is not a thing.

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The Other Kind of Lime Scale

Not the sort which forms on the inside of kettles when your water’s a bit on the hard side. That kind is something that simply happens of its own accord. The kind we’ve got is something else entirely – it’s intentional.

Coccidae
We have a little lime tree in a pot. It wasn’t doing terribly well earlier this year, so I dosed it with nitrogen and Epsom salts and compost and mulch, and it perked up a bit. It perked up a jolly lot more when I discovered the existence of scale insects, and gave it a drenching with some organic anti-scale spray.

In due course I moved the lime into a larger pot, and it continued flourishing. But hist! the plot thickens. The ants which had always seemed interested in the lime continued their attentions in the new pot. I don’t usually interfere with the doings of ants who keep outside the house, but this…seemed odd. I suspected. I inspected. I learned the dreadful truth.

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The Weird and Wonderful Stick Insect

Spending one’s days pretending to be a small piece of plant material doesn’t seem like much of a lifestyle aspiration to me (though there are moments…). Stick insects, on the other hand, seem to have a passionate devotion to the artistry required to really get inside the part of A Stick.

So here for your enjoyment are ten fascinating facts about the wacky, wonderful stick insect.

Phobaeticus chani Bragg, 2008; Holotype Female dorsal view

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