21 October 2010

21 October - Orionids; Hunter's Stew

Astronomy:  The Orionid meteor shower, which started on the 17th of this month and will continue through the 25th, reaches its peak tonight and tomorrow, with about 15 shooting stars per hour.  Unfortunately, the full Hunter's Moon will pretty much drown it out.  Still, you might be able to see something.  Viewing is best in the predawn hours.  Look south/southeast; the meteors will appear to be coming from Orion's right arm (left as you look at it).

You should know what Orion looks like, but if not, here is one of the clearest images I could find.  The 'belt', the three stars at an angle, is very recognizable.  The reddish-yellow star is his right shoulder (left as you are looking at it), and the meteors come from just above that.

(They are not in this photo, but if, when you are stargazing, you look to the right of his left shoulder (right as you are looking at it) you will see a group of stars hanging down in a semi-circle.  These are often drawn as the skin of a beast he has recently slain, and since he is waving it in the face of Taurus, the Bull (the 'V' of the horns is easily seen), this makes him the oldest bullfighter in history.)

Orion, in Greek mythology, was a mighty hunter - a real Nimrod - and so in his honor, and that of Canis, his faithful companion, and the Hunter's Moon as well, let us have a HUNTER'S STEW:

Start with 2 pounds of moose, elk caribou, venison, or (if you are not a hunter; or you are, but your shot accounted for one of the local farmer's best milk cows, and you have paid a really whopping fine and now own a carcass) beef pot roast.

[ahem!  And even if he flushed a pheasant and startled you so that your shot went wild, dropping poor Elsie in her tracks, please do not substitute faithful Canis for the above. Thank you.]

Cut up the meat into manageable chunks and brown in 2 tablespoons of hot bacon fat in a large saucepan or kettle.  Just cover browned meat with water and simmer, covered, for about an hour. [From the Experience Files: check on the level of water throughout the hour.  You'd be surprised how fast it can evaporate, even at a slow simmer.  Add a little hot water if needed.] 

Cut 6 carrots into 1-inch pieces. Add carrots, a bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste to the pot; simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Coarsely chop 3 medium onions; peel and cube 6 medium potatoes. Add onions and potatoes to pot; simmer, covered for 20 minutes (you may need to add a little hot water to keep the ingredients covered).  Quarter a small green cabbage and add that to the pot; simmer, covered for a final 15 minutes.  Season as desired and serve.

[And for faithful Canis?  Probably his usual kibble.  Something like this recipe might operate so powerfully on his digestion as to make moving the doghouse to the very end of the back 40 feasible.  Of course, cabbage may have the same effect on the Mighty Nimrods of the house, in which case they should also be sent out to the back 40.]