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Friday, July 9, 2010

Cycads and other delights--- Miss Jersey Giant and avocado gazpacho

The Cycad Garden

That mislabeled plant you bought at the Big Box is not a sago palm at all.
It’s a cycad with an astonishing and impressive history.

cycad fossil  (from W commons)

 Cycads were around with the dinosaurs---and were the food of herbivore dinosaurs (ex. Triceratops .) Somehow the cycads survived The Great Die Off that killed the dinosaurs, and so many other creatures. (Latest theory for the GDO is an enormous meteorite (6-10 miles wide) that created the Chicxulub crater in Yucatan, Mexico which either obscured the sun with dust, or sulphur dioxide gas which shut down photosynthesis, cooled the planet , starved the herbivores, and then the meat-eaters (T.rex) (See

A cycad at Lotusland

This means your “sago Palm” is can do nicely without full sunlight, though many cycads  love the sun.. The most remarkable collection of cycads anywhere are  here in SoCal –not on the back lot of Universal Studios as you might expect along with Jurassic Park and the T. Rex--- but at Lotusland (

Mme. Gana Walska loved the curious, and the grotesque as well as the beautiful. Cycads are all of the above, as well as being drought resistant, slow growing and good companions for succulents.The cycad collection at Lotusland was acquired by Mme. by selling a million dollars worth of her jewels at Sotheby’s-- so don’t miss it!
Local news :we are exchanging apples from the amazing " bears 2 crops a year " apple tree for eggs from the Urban Farm. Our favorite Bad Girl --Miss Jersey Giant in the white feathers-- turns out to be a great producer of lovely cream colored eggs. Of course, the Urbane Farmer has to be swift to gather them before she eats them. She's still a Bad Girl....
We've also gotten Haas avocados from the Urbane Farmer  and found a recipe for avocado gazpacho in the LA Times for June 24th in the Food section.
Servings: 4
1 cup packed fresh bread crumbs
Water for soaking the bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic
1 pound ripe avocados (about 3), peeled and chopped
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
11/2 teaspoons salt
Chopped green onion, for garnish
Chopped tomato, for garnish
Chopped cilantro (optional), for garnish
1. Soak the bread crumbs in water to cover until softened. Drain off the excess water (reserve the water to thin the soup if desired) and place the bread in a blender with the garlic. Purée until smooth. Add the avocados and lemon juice and purée. Blend in the oil and salt. Thin the soup, as desired, with the reserved water.
2. Serve the gazpacho at room temperature or chilled. Garnish each serving with chopped green onion, tomato and cilantro.
Each of 4 servings: 315 calories; Thank you LA Times!

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