A Culinary Tale

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It was magic.  I had hearty leftovers with big ideas.  Some pork, some roasted root veg could so easily be made into omelets or bubble-n-squeak, but no I remembered a trick my mama used to do.  If I was hungry and the dinner window was not open, she would give me a snack that wouldn’t curb my appetite.  She would offer healthy foods done all fun like.  I was of the generation before baby carrots, so she would thinly slice cute carrots for me to nibble on while I waited for dinner.  Her other trick if carrots were not available was the ol’ toothpick routine.  You see, offer a child anything in bite-sized pieces with a toothpick and you hit gold.  She would give me a small dish of red kidney beans with a toothpick that shut me up until dinner was ready.  It’s all about presentation, I tell you.  So riding this wave, I thought what could be more funner than soufflé?!  Not a damn thing.  I’ve made a fair bit of soufflé and nary a catastrophe have I encountered.  Until, that is, I tried my first savory soufflé.  It all worked out so perfect.  The leftovers a-go-go, the soufflé mash nicely fluffed and the timing right on.  I stuck it in the oven and got a great rise.  But let me tell you,  the soufflé doth rose but it was a total flop.  For some reason, the innards were an absolute stream.  Boo!  And there goes my blog post.  “no, soufflé is so easy, why don’t people do it more often?” I’d ponder.  “Are they afraid of a little egg fluffing?”  Ha ha, but the joke is on me.  Brent thinks the oven was too hot.  I think he was right (but, please don’t tell him.  It’ll ruin my perfect score).  I recooked the little bastards and they cooked all the way through.  At that point, it was more omelet, less soufflé.

 
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Cut to the next day.  My soufflé debacle slept on and a need for our next soup.  I’m trying to always have a pot of soup on the stove to keep us healthy and warm.  I know you can’t stick a toothpick in soup, but the kids enjoy it mostly.  From where I eat lunch I can see the chicken coup. It’s a coup with too many roosters.  I want to make soup … I have too many roosters … I look at recipes.  There’s one that I’ve made before called “poule au pot” that is LOVELY.  You stick an entire chicken in a pot and make it all soupy with yummy legumes.  I don’t have a chicken.  Though I notice, one finger pointing at a recipe calling for “farmer’s chicken” and four fingers pointing back at me (well, three fingers pointing back at me and a thumb in desperate need of a manicure pointing down at the ground somewhat).  Aw well, I’ll go do the laundry.  I’m not afraid to air my dirty laundry.  We have a lot of it as we are a family of six and making dirty laundry seems like our M.O.  I hear a squawk.  I hear a thump.  I see a black chicken fall.  Legend is fairly good with the chickens, but has an uncontrollable need to chase ten specific chickens.  Sadly, Zora was one of those chickens.  She would have gotten away were it not for that nasty window she thunked into.  It wasn’t looking good for Zora, so I had to act fast.  I suddenly saw soup in our future.  I gave Zora a few moments to recover from her nasty run-in with the window to see if she’d perk up.  She didn’t.  Then off to youTube for “chicken processing.”  TONS of videos on how to process chicken.  And so off I went.  I will tell you this, the  “coning” went fine.  The plucking needs work.  The gutting went okay.  The smell of the soup bubbling away, divine.  I woud’ve kept Zora for eggs, but she made a wrong turn into a window.  We’ll soon see how the poule au pot turns out. As with most great things, it’ll take some time.

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Well, I’m a Sel Snob

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Thankfully it fits within my peasant farmer budget.  In Seattle, I was approaching Salmon Snob.  I never could master salmon ‘ella ella ella … eh eh eh.  But, I really loved that white, wild caught white salmon that turned up at my favorite fishmonger to which I paid my yuppie premium.   No, but salt.  I can tell you now that I prefer sel de Guérande to sel de Camargue.  I taste it.  I could prolly do a blind taste-off.  It’s rad.  I’m pretty satisfied with your run-of-the-mill sel de gris, but give me a Guérande and fah-guetta-bout-it.  Love that taste  It’s truly better.  Husband is playing Britney. K. now J-loi and Pitbull doh! now David Guetta (well not so bad and hard to avoid as he dominates the radio and I hate him but DAMN! everything he creates makes you want t screeeeeeeeam! and here you are reading a silly little post about salt not knowing shit about David Guetta. knowing more than you knew about David Guetta.  you go!).  K. done here.

All Burners A-Go-Go

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For the first time ever, I needed to use all burners.  Sure, I “can” use all the burners, but tonight, I “needed” to use them.  We’re a two fry-pan family now.  Back in our yuppie years, we had a schmancy six burner mega-monster that took (and I quote the contractor here) “four gorillas” to bring up our forty-five steps.  It had mad hot BTU, USB, MSG and LMNOP.  And honestly, I would have been better off with a two burner Hobart second hand from a closing café.  Because really, what are you going to do with all those burners?  Sauce-n-Stuff is a two burner meal.  I LOVE our current stove.  We got it second hand for two-fiddy.  Over the years, Brent and I moved through an electric MagicChef, graduated to the Wolf and downgraded to whatever was cheap that day cause we need a stove NOW.  I learned this: what you really need is to use fresh ingredients and know how to cook.  The stove n’est pas sans importance.

Sometimes, You Need To Grab The Bull By Its Horns

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Or be handed a rope wrapped around horns with a bull on the end.  I wasn’t planning to hop in the pen and separate the calves with Brent, but sometimes you need to act on an opportunity.  We need to wean the calves.  Brent is finishing up his cow pen design.  Using the buildings we have, Brent had successfully and calmly scootched the two black calves (baby bulls) into the pen and locked the door.  With one left to go, he thought he’d try the same approach.  Gordito, the final male calf to be separated, was very calm, but waffled a bit in joining his buddies.  Brent decided to rope his horns and gently guide him in that way.  One thing led to another and I found myself holding onto a rope with a bull on the end pulling with all my strength to guide him into the narrow hallway that will lead him to the pen with his buddies.  He was a bit stubborn, but with Brent’s presence and pressure, he got him into the gate.  And let me tell you these three things.  One, cow poop is slippery when wet.  Two, when you’re handed a rope that has been sitting momentarily in cow poop, it is slippery as it is wet.  Three, when you go watching your husband work with the cows, be sure to leave your wedding rings at home, try to avoid wearing a miniskirt and always wear underwear (climbing over fences can be somewhat tricky without vital undergarments).  I’ve always been a fan of wearing a miniskirt after thirty-five and by-golly France has time after time supported me on this virtue.  Thankfully, our Madonna will lead the way for women in miniskirts.  However, when you are roping bulls and dragging them calmly through to a pen, I might recommend alternate attire.  The bulls are very pleased with their new accommodation.  They have some lovely hay, the finest water and are close to their mums as they grow up and get on with it already.  I mean you can’t sit around, watch Lost and play video games all day.  They’re big bulls now and it’s time to grow up and step into life already.  The mums are doing very well.  Two of the mums are practically thanking us for helping the bulls move on to their special purpose.  The other mum is moo-ing a bit, but is close to her calf so she should work it out in a couple of days.  The bull pen is silent.  I think the boys were ready.  And now we get to use “bull pen” in its original form.  I love this about farming.  We grabbed the bull by the horns and it’s hanging out in the bull pen.

GrayCute was right there the whole time helping Brent with all the tractor work.  Moving hay with the tractor can be tough work, but some cat has to do it.

Somewhere, Somehow A Stig Is Watching You

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A friend of ours gave Otto a Stig full of body wash (If you give someone a Christmas gift and they don’t blog about, does it make a sound?).  Otto thought the statue of The Stig was okay.  When I showed him that it secretly contained soap for the shower he was immediately pleased in that “ooo. Secret treasure” sort of way.  He ran upstairs and put it in the bathroom for later use.  Cut to nine hours later, end of the day, kids in bed, I hop in for a shower.  Water is hot.  Carrefour Discount soap nicely lathered.  Total calm except for a strange feeling I’m being watched.  I then notice The Stig, arms folded, face hidden staring at me.  Creepy.  I give him a little scooch which faces him the other way.  I have a feeling we’ll be refilling The Stig when his soap runs dry, but he will have to rest in the obstructed view section.

I’m A Maniac

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OH what a feeling! At last, I used our metal glue gun. Much thanks to Brent for holding the baby and pushing me out the door so I could spend a few hours with some very, very nice people who taught me how to get started welding as well as cow milking. Result: cow milking == hard, welding == FUN!

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I still would like to get a house dairy cow, but there ain’t no way I will be milking by hand. It was great at first, but after awhile both the cow and me were thinking “are we done yet?” The woman whose cow I milked was fast, fast, fast at it. She made it look so easy. She milks twice a day and it takes her somewhere between twenty to fifty minutes. I’ll look into milking machines for one cow and see where that goes. The milk is amazing. I made some ice cream. One of the best ice creams I’ve ever made. I’m forever working on my recipe, but I think that fresh, creamy, fat milk made a huge improvement.

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Then, I welded.  I must admit, I squealed a few times when I first made that spark.  Brent said, “people who weld don’t squeal.”  After a couple goes, I got used to the spark and learned quickly to love it.  Yes, yes, the welds aren’t perfect.  I played a bit with little steel rivers to work on my rod-to-metal distance.  It takes a little getting used to because the rod of steel shortens as you go and you need to maintain that perfect little weld bead.  But, I stuck shit together with steel!  I have a lot of practicing to do.  Thankfully, I have a lot of metal.  I feel much more comfortable returning to our book on “Farm Welding.”  Last year when I started it, I hit way number ten (of twenty) on how I was going to kill myself, then gently put the book down. I haven’t picked it up since.  Today helped me get past safety and general “this works like this.”  Now I’m excited to  learn the rest of the story.

And with that, I leave you this: