Winter melon

What would you do with a half a winter melon? I’ve gotten friendly with a farmstand that specializes in Asian vegetables at the San Mateo Farmer’s Market. The woman who runs the farmstand knows I love bitter melon, and has told me about its health benefits. She probably figured this white guy needed to expand his Asian melon repertoire, so today she gave me half a winter melon, and said, “Try it in soup.”

There are lots of winter melon soup recipes online, and I’m leaning towards a simple one with dried black mushrooms, chicken broth, a little bit of chopped meat, and some slices of ginger.* But — what would you do if someone gave you half a winter melon?


*Two weeks later: And here’s the recipe I have been using for winter melon soup:

Half of a five pound winter melon, cut into 2 inch pieces (about 2 pounds of melon)
1 quart of chicken broth
1 knockwurst, cut into 1/2 inch circles
8-10 dried black Chinese mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
half a dozen slices of ginger root, peeled, and slivered
salt to taste

Bring the winter melon to a boil in water to cover, then simmer covered for 20 minutes.
Drain the water off.
Add chicken broth, mushrooms, ginger, and knockwurst to the cooked winter melon. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Autumn watch

Even though the temperature got up to nearly eighty degrees today, it feels like fall. The sun is noticeably lower in the sky, and daylight is noticeably shorter than nighttime. I went for a walk up in the hills overlooking Half Moon Bay, and once you get out from under the redwoods into the chaparral, the plants look tired and dry and worn out, ready for the winter rains. Even the fall asters look faded now, with blossoms that are almost white instead of pale violet.


Above: Honeybee pollinating asters at Purissima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve; the asters are probably the Common California Aster (Symphyotrichum chilense)

During the long climb back up to the trail head, I kept stopping to admire the way the afternoon sun shone gently on the steep hills and canyons that descended to the ocean; admiring the view was also a good excuse to stop and catch my breath when the trail was steepest. After one particularly steep stretch, I turned and saw a Golden Eagle below me. This was a perfect excuse to stop for a moment. I watched the eagle ride the breeze down the canyon until it disappeared from my view behind a forested ridge.