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November 10, 2010


Hi Beth, when I opened your page and started to scroll down, the picture had not fully loaded on this slowboat of a laptop, and I got one of those odd photo extensions on your sumac where the lower portion suddenly presented what looked like a long string of Japanese paper cranes. I thought you'd enjoy the transformation.

I always loved the way sumac held on to its color in the midst of the winter gloom in Wisconsin. Very nice photo.

place looks calm and relaxing.

I love sumac leaves, too, so I'm glad you posted these.

We use Sumac quite a lot in cooking. Is this a plant that produces the berries?

Hi, Aleppo, thanks for writing! I think the sumac that's used in za'atar, for instance, is similar -- but I'm not sure. The Iroquois made a tea out of the "fruit" (big red conical clusters of blossoms) of this plant that tastes something like lemonade; it does have that astringent citrusy flavor.

The sumac used in za'atar is Rhus coriaria, which is in appearance substantially similar to the North American staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina).

And thank you, Beth: I've been thinking and dreaming about the Old Country fairly often these days, and this little infusion of sumac is just what I needed. However, Thistle says he hasn't gotten his oak leaf yet.

ooo, the oak leaf may be a problem! Not too many oaks nearby, except up on the mountain. But you've given me a good excuse to go for a hike and see if there are any left! Happy late fall, Chris, and thanks for the info and links about Rhus coriaria.

To be strictly accurate, the main ingredient in za'atar is thyme, but some mixtures also have sumac in them. Plain sumac, a coarse red powder, is sprinkled on salads and on kebabs, especially the kind where ground meat is patted onto skewers and grilled. It adds a wonderful lemony flavor.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.