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Eric Libby

Research fellow at the Sante Fe Institute studying the evolution of biological complexity

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5/30/2016

One of my favorite hikes in the Santa Fe area is the Rio En Medio hike. It winds along a cold stream (river by Santa Fe standards) under the cover of a forest with ponderosa pines and oaks. The flowers along the trail are beautiful and fragrant. The hike leads up to a waterfall that you can go into as long as you don’t mind losing sensation in your toes for a while.

The entry to the waterfall
Spring blooms

5/20/2016

Gravlax! I used the recipe from Cooks Illustrated because onion juice seemed like a good counter to the lack of fresh salmon from the surrounding desert. One slight change, which was part intentional and part accidental, was letting it cure for an extra 24 hours. The results with a little sour cream and some nearly dehydrated dark bread were excellent. Cured fish makes an amazing breakfast food.

Gravlax

5/7/2016

It wasn’t hard to find but it wasn’t straightforward either. Plaza Blanca is this wonderful set of rock formations hidden in the New Mexico country side next to a mosque. It is a great place for a few hour hike and I imagine it is even better at night during a full moon. Next time…

Plaza Blanca rock formations
Wildflowers in bloom

5/1/2016

Santa Fe’s latest art attraction Meow Wolf has received attention in the national news (see the NPR story). So on a cold, rainy spring day with snow falling and melting it seemed like a perfect opportunity to step into this strange world. The alternative was to stress about whether my plants would survive the capricious weather. Meow Wolf is an absolute spectacle with too much to absorb in one pass. I rest in comfort that I will visit again.

Meow Wolf sights

4/23/2016

Hiking in Valles Caldera National Preserve, we stumbled across some spring ecology starring a lone coyote and a prairie dog community. The prairie dogs were a bit too clever and dove down to hide long before the coyote got close. Briefly, the coyote turned its attention to something a bit more juicy and ill-prepared, i.e. me. Upon closer inspection, it decided to keep trotting along but not before it posed for a few pictures. (Photos taken by Gabby Libby Beans).

Valles Caldera in spring.
Prairie dog (not a dog) and a coyote (closer to dog)

4/10/2016: Garden flowers in bloom

Flower bulbs and seeds planted in the fall have finally paid off this spring. They may not be as spectacular as the stone fruit blossoms in town but I played a bigger role in their success— me and the bags of manure I purchased.

Garden flower success

4/2/2016: Desert Botanical Gardens

Close up of cacti with colors.

Visited the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix in the morning before the sun broiled the earth. There was a nice bonding moment with a cactus wren but mostly I spent my time in awe of the fantastic gardening and the beauty of the Sonoran desert.

A saguaro that looks like a cartoon broccoli.

3/25/2016: Kombu no tsukudani

Through random encounters with this preserved algae dish, I learned that translucent brown-green squares equals deliciousness. The problem was that I could not find any in my local grocery store. This is completely understandable though as the nearest ocean is 1000 km away and the local cuisine follows more of the green chile and corn tortilla persuasion. Wondering if I could make it myself, I found a recipe for kombu no tsukudani that used ingredients available in Santa Fe (including the kombu).

My first attempt at making this dish was also an attempt to impress family. I impressed upon them that I could make rubbery algae that exhausted their jaw muscles. Tasting the potential, I tried again and found much greater success. Although this is by no means authentic to discerning palates, it made me happy. I used the same recipe as before but let the vinegar work its magic for three times longer. I also found that with enough sake, kombu– like people– eventually breaks down into something far less rigid. In the end, my little jar of success will probably find its way into various rice-based dishes. Because of its deliciousness, its lifespan will be short– short and glorious.

After six hours, the final product.