Local Sugar Cane Cola

I grew up with cola and soft drinks sweetened with actual sugar (from actual sugar cane), as opposed to the overly sweet high fructose corn syrup used here. While I have never been a real fan of the cola flavor, I especially detest cola drinks in this country.

Every so often we have gotten a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola from a local restaurant, just to taste the difference. When we do, it brings back memories of growing up overseas, and I invariably think, this is what coke is supposed to taste like.

Well, the other day, at our local food cooperative ((Our local food coop is The Community Mercantile, in Lawrence, KS.)), I found this:

Lost Trail Sugar Cane Cola

Made in KS It is the real deal. Expensive, yes, but no moreso than your Jones Soda or your Extra Ginger Brew. It tastes like cola should. And, it is made just about sixty miles from here, in Louisburg, KS (where, incidentally, my wife’s uncle lives). The Louisburg Cider Mill ((The Louisburg Cider Mill, in Louisburg, KS, has a pretty impressive web site.)) is mostly an apple cider and root beer brewer (and aren’t those a dime a dozen nowadays) but they also make this stuff.

Now, there’s a lot of stuff out there about high fructose corn syrup ((High Fructose Corn Syrup at Wikipedia, not a bad article but a little left of center.)), the sugar lobby ((Sugar at Wikipedia, though this is an cautionary exercise in Wikipediating… wow this article is a mess.)), and sugar alternatives ((Stevia, a sugar alternative at Wikipedia. Pretty interesting, especially the part about Cargill and Coca-Cola.)). The health foodies have their angle, the naftites have their angle, industry has their angle, even the Japanese have their angle. The politics are fascinating, too ((Sugar in the 2007 Farm Bill, skip down to the section on sugar.)).

I’m not going to get into it, except to say this: I like the idea of actual sugar. And, it tastes better, too. So there.

Turning parsley into butterflies

First one out

A few weeks back, we noticed the fattest, coolest looking caterpillar (or “calerpitter” as our four-year-old calls them) on our Italian parsley. We’d decided to grow the parsley because it was easy and cheap, and once we put it in pots on the deck (away from the bunnies) it flourished. The caterpillar was so cool, we did a bunch of research (they are swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, and they love parsley) and had just decided to build a caterpillar cage when… it disappeared. (Eaten by a bird, we think.)

Never fear, the three pots of parsley had plenty of caterpillars hatching on them. In a few days, all three pots were down to nubs, and there were five or eight or fifteen caterpillars on them. So we put the cage together (two pie plates, some small-hole mesh, baby food jars with water and parsley, and some sticks for cocooning), put it on our screened in porch, and started moving caterpillars. We started with just two, but eventually felt for the little guys on their parsley sticks, and moved ten more into shelter.

We’ve been feeding them, cleaning their cage, watching them, and moving the chrysalises out to a pot where the butterflies would have enough room to dry their wings.

And today, the first of them hatched. Once she starts to flutter about, we’ll have to corral her and let her out of the porch, where she can try to find more parsley (good luck) or get eaten by a bird.