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Friday, December 19, 2008

they'll never become self-aware at this rate

nnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooo
nononononononononononononononononono

A cautionary tale:

  • If the power cord has detached from your laptop and the battery is about to run out, do not hastily jam the power cord into any old hole in the general area of the power jack, assuming that it will only fit into the power jack.

  • It will also fit into the USB port.

  • That will make your screen go black and the computer will start turning on and off repeatedly by itself.

  • Also, do not attempt to reproduce the accident, "just to see if that's what happened," by purposely sticking the power cord into the USB port.

  • That will make sparks come out of the USB port.

  • And make your computer smell bad.

Back to the Hamsterworks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

my yogurt is gender-neutral

Slate's Explainer column has a list of unanswered questions from 2008. Here are two of my favorites:

  • I have been accused of assault in Ohio. The woman fell over a box in the hall backward, and my brother opened the door, saw her lying there, and started hitting me. I got him down and held him down. It was all over a fight concerning my niece. What do you think will happen?
  • Can men eat the Activia yogurt that is advertised exclusively to the modern woman in khakis? Will it have the same internal regulatory effects on the male system that are promised for the female bowels? If not, why not?
To see the whole list, go here.

should I get up and pee, or just pee in the bed?

The crookedness of the picture is thanks to my begloved hands.

If you're a goat, the answer is: Either!

It's supposed to get into the single digits tonight, like, if I wanted single digits I'd move to Minnesota, where winter is the most beautiful ten months of the year. (People in Minnesota: "Shut up, lightweight. We get single digits in June.")

Our goats are Nubians, which are technically a desert goat, so they are well-suited for our dry, sweltering summers. However, they are not as happy in the bitter cold as Saanens or Alpines. And since Catwoman doesn't have anyone to cuddle up with, I was concerned that she might have a rough time, so I tricked the children into helping me prepare for the night. I shouted excitedly, "Okay, everybody get your snow clothes on!" And they came running up the stairs, and then they found out that we were just going outside to pitch hay into the goat pen. To their credit, there was minimal murmuring. We're out of straw right now, so we got some of the "licorice" hay (this is hay that has gone black and moldy from being wet--oh, those hilarious farmers) and tore it all up to make a thick, softish layer of bedding. In case you're thinking about doing the next run of PBS's Colonial House or something, you're going to want to use straw, not hay, for your louse- and bedbug-ridden mattress. Hay is super scratchy and pokey. I don't know why it's ever been called "a roll in the hay," because the bruises and scratches you'd get from that would be grievous and apparent. I'm just saying.

The reason you want thick bedding on the floor is so the animal can nestle down inside, as well as pee and poo and do other hideous things in it. The decaying waste matter puts off heat (like a compost pile), and it keeps the animal warm. Then in the spring you muck it all out and put it on your garden, or weed patch, as the case may be. It's pretty much exactly like indoor plumbing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

local cheese: beehive cheese co.

On my birthday a few years ago, before we decided "Screw that noise. No more birthday presents for siblings." my sister gave me a set of cheese knives and some Promontory Cheddar from the Beehive Cheese Company. You wish your sister were so cool. I enjoyed it so much that I've dabbled around a little in their line, and every cheese has been a pleasure to eat. Just last week I tried Full Moon for the first time, and I may start cheating on Midnight Moon with it. I am a cheese polyamorist!

Promontory Cheddar: tangy and lemony, a little bossy. Very distinctive--maybe I've told you this already, but this summer we were at the house of some friends, and Jill was sharing a cheese with us that she and Mike had bought for a picnic (or something--the details are fuzzy). She couldn't initially remember the name of the cheese, but when I rolled it around in my mouth, I thought, "I've had this before . . this is . . . it's . . . Promontory Cheddar!" And she totally confirmed! Layne: 1, Cheese: 0.

Barely Buzzed: yum. A rubbed rind of ground coffee and lavender buds--it's a WWII vet with a punchy, assertive flavor--it seems grumpy at first and doesn't get along with everything, but it is enormously rewarding and there are times when nothing else will do. It's what I almost always bought, before I discovered Full Moon.

Full Moon: in my party scenario, the one where Brie keeps talking to its reflection? Full Moon is the attractive (but not TOO attractive) guest who manages to be witty and clever without being catty or snide. Bright, creamy, wonderfully versatile, and makes a killer omelet.

I still have to try the Emigrant, Uintah Jack and SeaHive (Eeeee! So excited to try this cheese!), but stupid Good Earth never has them. I'ma try Harmon's.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the winningest winners of all

Mesdames et messieurs, I present to you the winners of the 2008 Baba Capra Giveaway:

3rd place: 3 bars of soap to Sarah my sister-in-law who is conscious of her state of happiness
2nd place: 4 bars of soap to Jenny (who may share her soap with her husband if she wishes, although he did not win)
1st place: 5 bars of soap to Sarah who is Jill's sister

Woot! The excitement is palpable! Winners, email your mailing address and any last fragrance requests to me at babacapra at gmail dot com. Non-winners (none of that 'losers' kind of hate speech around here), I feel sad that Lady Luck made snake eyes at you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

product may stay: Ariat Fatbaby boots

Don't barf, you guys. I know cowboy boots are something they wear in small towns where the girls are hair farmers and do their makeup all hard and shiny, but they can be a very practical and comfortable choice for the average, non-tobacco chewing citizen as well.

Here are the first cowboy boots I bought, three years ago:
They are the Fatbaby Brown Bombers, and three years later they are still comfortable enough I could sleep in them, not so hickish as to call attention to themselves, and they're in great condition. And I love wearing them when I'm going to be shopping for clothes, because they're easy-on, easy-off. No laces to tie, after all. However, they are a gateway drug, because this is the pair of boots I mentioned that I bought last week:
These are the Fatbaby Poppy boots, and I really have no excuse other than I like the orange flowers, and I needed a pair of black shoes. I am ashamed, but not enough to not wear them, and I'm not promising that I won't pull up my pant leg and show off the embroidery on the shaft if given the chance.

A friend of ours is also a fan of Ariat boots, because they have an insole similar to an athletic shoe, rather than a gym floor, like most cowboy boots. They are really terribly comfortable, and although they have clompy soles and are not recommended for riding, I don't own a horse, so no foul. And they do have a line that is approved for riding, with a smoother clompy sole. I can't recommend them for everyone, but if you're a boot kind of gal or feller, Ariat is the way to go.

Remember, today is the last day to enter the BABA CAPRA GIVEAWAY, so if you're considering how great it would be to finally have some soap so you could take a shower already, then take the plunge and leave a comment on last Monday's post--the "maybe tonight" one. 7:00 MST tonight is the cutoff.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

this is why you measure twice: adventures in english I

Seen on a car while running errands: a myriad of custom bumper stickers, including "American Soilder" (emphasis mine). FAIL.

scienticians agree: sugar is habit-forming

MSN's "health and fitness" department has their finger on the pulse, all right. Who knew that sugar is addictive, except maybe all bipeds, the mid- to high-functioning quadrupeds, and the cetaceans?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

layne muses, larry king-like

I tried the "Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage" recipe from this month's Cook's Illustrated tonight. I have to say it was pretty good. The children renounced it and all its dark works, but I sort of couldn't stop eating it. It said to dice the squash into 1/2 inch pieces, but I rejected their reality and substituted my own, because I was running short on time. So 3/4 to 1 inch pieces it was, but of course they took longer to cook and I suspect that the resulting texture was therefore inferior. Shut up, thermodynamics!

Traci is on her date this week, and Catwoman is destitute, despondent and forlorn. Since goats are herd animals, you don't ever want just one of them, unless it's a house goat. And I don't know how easy they are to crate train, but I'm guessing: not. When I was young my parents got a goat named Bruno from somewhere (hey . . . it's their fault I have goats!), and put him out on the ditch bank to keep the weeds down. And that was the noisiest animal I have ever had the misfortune to meet. (And then came Finola.) He just bawled all day long, and now I know, it's because he was terribly lonely and probably a nervous wreck from recognizing that if a slavering wolf came creeping, he was on deck.

I think it's important for you to know that I ate an awesome omelet for lunch today composed of eggs, Midnight Moon, and sauteed spinach.

Some person flushed a marker down the downstairs toilet. I'm guessing it's the same person who flushed a toothbrush down the upstairs toilet. Freaking kids.

I am working like a little coal miner getting the soap ready for the drawing next week. Or is that swearing like a coal miner? I think it's working like a coal miner, swearing like a mule skinner. Those are both pretty intense jobs, though. I'm guessing you can get a nice sweat on no matter which one your career aptitude test aims you toward.

I bought a second pair of cowboy boots. It's so gross of me, but they are super comfortable, and pretty low-key. I hate me a rhinestone cowboy, but I guess animal husbandry entitles me to wear them. That wasn't the case when I was ten (old enough to know better) and I got a cowboy(girl?) outfit complete with high-heeled boots and spurs, which I wore to school. Not so much with the zero tolerance policy then.

If you haven't entered the drawing, be sure to comment on the previous post! Real-life acquaintanceship is not necessary, and dudes can win, too. I'd be willing to try a rosemary or pine scent if you're too afraid that grapefruit is a chick ride.

Monday, December 8, 2008

maybe tonight . . . maybe tonight . . . maybe toniiiiiiiiight!

Some soaps I have made.
Clockwise from top right: Orange Pomander with Nubbies, Oatmeal Spice with Nubbies, Citrus Classic, Cinnamon Classic, Lavender Classic (in the center)


IT'S HERE IT'S HERE IT'S HERE IT'S HERE IT'S HERE IT'S HERE IT'S HERE

John came home heavily laden with the mail and totally harshed my buzz, because he said that the large brown package in his hand (not a poo joke) was my information from the American Dairy Goat Association (insiders call it the ADGA), which it was, but also? There was another, smaller package that had MY POWER CORD! You need to go back and read the last bit of that sentence in Oprahvoice. I'll wait . . .

So I have my internets! And my typing! And all of the keys on my keyboard, including but not limited to the I and 9--because John is awesome like that and replaced them when he did preach unto my laptop hellfire and damnation.

So it's time for the best little Baba Capra Giveaway in history. Also the first one of those. And I've decided to give away some homemade soap, specially made for your paws by my paws. Here's how you win: leave a comment in the comment section of this post. The one I'm writing/you're reading right now. It doesn't have to be intelligent, and misspellings and grammar errors will not be penalized or decrease the likelihood of your winning. Am I not merciful? Next Monday near this time I will put all commenters' names in a receptacle which may or may not be a hat (I don't promise what I can't deliver). Some member of our family will draw out a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner, and I will post the names of same. You all want to win this, because soap is good for washing stuff, and we all need to wash stuff. Also, flavors! By which I mean scents!

Lavender Classic
Cinnamon Classic
Citrus Classic
Grapefruit Ginger with Nubbies
Oatmeal Spice with Nubbies

1st Prize will be 5 bars of soap, 2nd is 4 bars and 3rd is 3. All with no scary ingredients. You may choose one scent or a medley (up to 3, or it might be the Twelfth of Never before you get your loot). Leave a comment and your scent preference and win a major award! Thank you. That is all.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

something's comin', I don't know what it is but it is gonna be great

Okay, my power cord was supposed to be here on Thursday, so every day since then I've woken up thinking, "Today's the day!" and it is never the day. Never. I've ganked John's computer to write this entry because the Hamsterworks is just that bad. A fan like a commercial range hood, a version of Windows that predates written language, and a mouse that could give Eichmann a run for his money.

As my anger grows and becomes sentient and self-sustaining, I feel that my relief and joy will be similarly prodigious when (IF) my power cord finally arrives. So I am hereby announcing the First! Annual! Baba Capra! Giveaway! to celebrate the occasion*. I will have to think about what it will be, because a lot of what we are known for here at Baba Capra either a)is perishable or b)has too many hooves to wrap. Whatever it is will hopefully be worth the boldface font and exclamation marks.

*I should clarify that the giveaway does not begin today, but rather on that blessed undisclosed future date upon which my power cord arrives. I will keep you apprised.

Friday, December 5, 2008

shut up, all of these

I blame country music for the fall of Western civilization. Here's why:

Where Are You Christmas
The Christmas Shoes
It Wasn't His Child
A Baby Changes Everything

There are others, but I want to talk about examples #3 and #4 for a minute. I've noticed that there is a sort of bait-and-switch theme to a lot of country music, especially at Christmas. It's like "Oh, this guy's wife cheated on him, and is having a baby, but he's cool with it, because you didn't know this, but the baby is Jesus. Now don't you feel like a jerk, Mr. Judgy McJudgypants?" or "This teenage girl got into trouble and is having a baby, and isn't ready, but she's not even going to put it up for adoption, because you didn't know this, but the baby is Jesus. I bet now you wish you hadn't been so judgy, Mrs. Perfect McRighteousness." And I think it's grody--I was telling my sister that it reminds me of those weird Christian rock songs you read about that make you think the guy's singing about his girlfriend, but instead he's singing about his relationship with the Lord. And it seems that for a religious person that would be sort of a blasphemous way to talk about God. But what do I know? So if they want to compare Mary to an unfaithful wife or a teenage girl of loose morals, I guess that's their business. In fairness, I haven't heard all of the words of these songs, because I had to change the station. I have heard the one about the shoes, though, because the little Urchin Voices at the end are hilarious. We like to sing along in Glomer voices (remember Punky Brewster? That was a crazy cartoon.). These are the musical equivalent of spray cheese.

Country music hasn't been good for about twenty years, and hasn't been sincere for at least thirty. I realize that popular culture might disagree with me, but just because a lot of people listen to it doesn't make it right. Naked lady truck decals and novelty trailer hitch covers displaying any variation of the sentiment "Cowgirl butts drive me nuts" are not indicative of people governed by reasonable or rational thought. Shut up, country music.

Also, shut up, EPA. I'm sure this has nothing whatsoever to do with the government wanting to drive small suppliers out of business to clear the way for industrial agriculture. You guys, animal poop stinks, in case you were wondering. And global warming? Totally caused by animal farts. Let's not talk about the fact that these animals aren't supposed to be stacked nose-to-derriere in a sea of their own waste, but our insatiable appetite for meat at every meal (while I'm at it: shut up, Dr. Atkins . . . oh, wait . . . I guess you did) has created a demand for animal flesh that the earth is not capable of supporting. I promise, meat that is good for you is also good for the environment. Happy animals running around in grass, producing enough poop to fertilize your garden and enough meat to feed your family, and that's it.

Any other terrible Christmas songs that make you either switch channels or listen in mystified horror? I've got one that may be controversial: anything sung by Josh Groban.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the yummy trifle with a stupid name

I had an idea for a trifle the other day. Trifle is occasionally a point of contention in our household, because John is a trifle Nazi and feels that trifle is: cake, soaked in fruit liqueur, topped with custard and unsweetened whipped cream. I, however, feel that trifle can be defined much more loosely. As long as there is a representative from each of the cakey, custardy and creamy factions and it's assembled in a trifle dish, it's a trifle. Another way in which we disagree is that John permits the use of Little Debbie snack cakes, as well as Cool Whip--don't blame him, you guys. The main thing to him is that the cake is soaked, and I think the soaking is optional. And my definition has acquired even more feature creep, because hearken: Funky Monkey Trifle, with peanut butter cookies playing the part of cake. It's a revision of a Cooking Light recipe for Funky Monkey Parfait (because they, the lovers of product placement and fake food, use Nutter Butters, which are a fine cookie, but: let's take out the mummifying foods where we can). I haven't made this yet, but you had better believe I'm going to. And don't ask me what chocolate and peanut butter have to do with monkeys. Maybe that's the funky part.

Funky Monkey Trifle

peanut butter cookies, broken into bite-sized pieces
sliced bananas, not too ripe
dark chocolate custard (I guess you can do milk chocolate, but if you do you're a baby)
pastry cream (optional, but has pastry cream ever been the wrong choice?)
very lightly sweetened whipped cream

Alternate layers of cookies, bananas and custard (and pastry cream, if you're using it) until you get to the top, then pile on the whipped cream. It's good for your body!

I think this would be a much better trifle than the one I made for Thanksgiving, which, though better than I feared (that was some DRY cake), did not age at all well. Five hours in the fridge is the max--past that, and you'd better have chickens or pigs to eat the waste.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

science baby

This is a post about goats, so abandon hope all ye who enter here who don't want to read about dairy character, udder conformation and the ins and outs (zing!) of artificial insemination.

We have decided not to breed Catwoman. She is so bowlegged that I would feel very uneasy putting the extra strain of pregnancy on her legs. Last spring when she was still long before her kidding date she was just hobbling around like an obese grandma, and she looked terribly uncomfortable. I think another pregnancy would be painful and possibly fatal, and my magic porridge pot of guilt and self-recrimination doesn't need any more ingredients. So, the question is, what to do with her? And this is where I may gross some of y'all out. I would rather eat her than sell her. But hear me out. I don't want to take the chance of someone buying her who will stick her out on a ditch somewhere by herself, or breed her until she dies in childbirth. And I'm not willing to keep her as a pet, because she eats a freaking ton of food and is darn expensive. And she's not so old that she would be inedible, so . . . I don't know. It's sick, but at least she would go to a good home in our tummies.

Traci is going to have a prolonged date with Cyclone, the Boer goat down the street, since I HATE milking her, but she does make wonderful, big babies that put on weight quickly. For us to eat. Because that's what meat is, is an animal that is dead now.

Our plan is to keep both Catwoman and Traci through the winter, while saving our pennies, then in the spring we will turn Catwoman into white packages and buy another doe to be friends with Traci--hopefully one as nice as Finola.

Conformation-wise, Catwoman has Traci beat handily. Catwoman is willowy and refined, with a lovely, well-attached udder, whereas Traci is shaped like a lazy trapezoid with a crappy udder. She's a Jeep. Catwoman takes after Finola, and is an improvement on her in many ways, except I wish she were black. I would love to find another doe like Finola.

The huge headache has been finding a Nubian buck, as you know, because why pay a ton of money for a superior animal if we're just going to be breeding Nubian/Boer crosses? But last night we realized that, duh, my grandpa raises beef cattle and has his own liquid nitrogen tank for the storage of straws of . . . bull juice, we'll call it (I don't even want to think about the weird searches I'd turn up in otherwise). So we can buy straws of fancy buck juice and keep them in the tank, and use them to breed our fancy doe. Fanciness all around! I've been squeamish about artificial insemination, because I am such a proponent of a diversified gene pool, and I don't like the idea of a bunch of animals running around with the same parents. But we really don't have a choice, since there's no Nubian stud service anywhere around. And it should drastically improve our herd, but you never know with Nubians.

I still have no power cord. I hate this computer.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

computers are fun

On Wednesday night John broke my laptop down to nanoparticles, replaced the power jack, then put the computer back together again, and even had two tiny screws left over. I am a lucky girl. I mean, using all those tiny tools? Occasionally grounding himself on the napkin holder so as to not fry the motherboard? And economizing in the rebuild so we have two extra screws to use in case we build our own eyeglass frames? Hott.

Anyway, it turns out that the power jack isn't the problem--the power cord is. Which John thinks would have been cool to figure out before the taking-apart, but . . . bygones. So as soon as my new power cord arrives I shall return with great pomp and ceremony to my little internet fiefdom.

Monday, November 24, 2008

infernal machines

I may have mentioned a while ago that my daughter the Destroying Angel did smite my laptop, and now it is a sad paperweight. So I'm using our backup computer, the Hamsterworks Home Abacus and Typing Machine, and things will therefore be a little quieter around here until John has broken my laptop down into its elemental components and put it back together again in a worky sort of fashion.

Friday, November 21, 2008

timewastery

1. This caught me in my funny bone. I know, barrels? The Comics Curmudgeon, he is a funny sort.
2. I love this cooking website, but I can't in good conscience do a perma-link because I know there are some of you who like to partake only of wholesome media. Have a good time in heaven with the Camdens.
3. Remember these? What an awesome toy. Oh my gosh, I wish I could do this with my own clothes. Then maybe I'd be eight feet tall, willowy, and fiercely stylish, instead of wan and drab and wearing frumpy momwear.
4. Speaking of which, this is is a fun little place to look at clothes that you either hate or can't afford. And to see famous peoples looking like buffoons. Also, let's be honest, to get great ideas for outfits that you'd wear if you weren't a frumpy mom. Maybe I'm projecting.

Earlier today I realized that we haven't had chocolate chip cookies around here for over a week, and that is some bull crap right there. Besides, vitamins.

with a swatter that shines like justice

Big Orange, my trusty steed.

On this, the (cross your fingers) last day of the Wasp Dynasty, let us pause for a moment of reflection. I will not miss the wasps. I am glad they are dying. I hope they all die, especially the mothers and children. It may surprise you that not only do I thinkswear, but I also harbor repressed violent tendencies. I know, next I'm going to be telling you that a dog/cat breeding will not bear viable offspring. But with the recent necessity of killing numerous wasps daily, I have derived a great deal of pleasure from swatting a wasp out of the air, then beating the living snot out of him until his exoskeleton bursts and the gooey innards spill forth, while his stinger stabs and stabs and stabs. Yippee ki yay, indeed. I realize that the wasps don't care if I dispatch them with extreme prejudice, but I do. It's satisfying to take an autonomous being and bend it to my will, since I'm only SURROUNDED by all these other autonomous beings that care not a whit what I say. In the absence of parental programming I would have been a terrific dictator. Thanks a lot, mom and dad, geez. Way to kill my career goals.

So long, wasps. You were a worthy foe.

Monday, November 17, 2008

pay for every dance, sellin' each romance

Because no day would be complete without me haranguing everyone on the origins of their meals, here's an interesting article.

Today I did some more prep on the garden--I really hope that green-waste-on-cardboard thing works. Also I bricked the ground in front of the chicken coop so when it turns into a sloppy mudhole we'll have a place to stand without sinking ankle-deep into a morass of poultry excrement. Our rooster Fauntleroy has passed on (I think it's neat how I said "passed on" instead of "involuntary manslaughter"), and I don't feel in too much of a hurry to replace him. I got mighty sick of taking a beating stick into the coop every time I needed to feed or water them. I will miss his noise, but not his spurs.

The goats are in a real state. Well, not really, but we're in a real state concerning the goats. Traci needs a bro (or a braaaa), and Catwoman is like an orange on toothpicks. I don't think her legs can take another pregnancy. She had been flushed really well last fall when Cyclone did his dirty, dirty business, and her prodigious weight gain from the triplets knocked her shoulders all out of whack. Now she walks like a nasty old bulldog. Here are the problems I see:

Traci's udder is so poorly attached that she may end up stepping on it.
Traci's milk is fine, but nothing amazing.
Catwoman's legs are terrible.
Catwoman's milk is not as sweet as Finola's, but it's good.
We can't find a Nubian buck to breed to our does.
Goats can't be by themselves.

So we have a goat that we can breed, but don't want to, a goat that we want to breed but can't, and no Nubian buck in any case. So we'll probably have to breed Traci to Cyclone and use the babies for meat again, and I don't know what we'll do about Catwoman, because we can't sell her, or Traci will get all Louis Prima on us (or if you're an 80s remake fan, all David Lee Roth on us). This is the life of an agritainer.

And some good news--I have only had to kill 4 wasps* today. This is what they look like.
Would you say wasp or hornet? Or yellow jacket? Or bringer of pain and discomfort both temporal and spiritual?

*Never mind. John killed six more this evening.

Friday, November 14, 2008

wasps are ruining my life

Today's wasp tally: somewhere around 10. I didn't count very well.

I called an extermination service because I will lose my entire mind if this doesn't stop. They're getting faster and more aggressive, and one of them dive-bombed me today and got in my hair and I had a grand mal seizure trying to get it out before I got stung. You know how I know they suck? Because when you swat one of them and it's in its death throes, its stinger just pokes and pokes and pokes until it dies, probably of exhaustion. Stupid wasps.

I went to the feed store this afternoon and the feed store dudes gave me some guff about how I've never brought them any goat cheese. I promised them some next spring, and one of the guys asked if goats don't make cheese in the winter, so I told him, "No, I don't make goat cheese in the winter." Because there are fun things to do on a gentleman's farm in the winter, but milking a goat is not one of them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger bun today

Chucking It as a life philosophy doesn't always make one's life easier or simpler, which may come as a surprise to you, my gentle readers. "But!" you query.

"What about living in a house with character?
What about those placid mornings spent milking small ruminants?
What about gathering eggs like Easter every day?
What about the smell of fresh-cut hay in your field?
What about spending time at home with your family, rather than driving from lesson to practice to recital to appointment?
What about feeding your family honest food?"

To you I reply,

"Wasp infestation.
Trimming hooves, castrating and disbudding.
Cannibalizing eggs.
Hay usually moldy and no equipment of our own.
Still a bunch of stupid errands to run.
Me in the grocery store deciding that I can't in good conscience purchase hamburger buns."

And I wouldn't trade it, but don't be thinking that it's always as fun as I make it sound. Thank goodness I have Heidi to be my spotter and put on her blog a great recipe for homemade hamburger buns. I modified it with honey and some whole wheat flour, and I've got to say, I felt totally unconflicted serving these sandwiches for dinner tonight:
Delicious, despite the bad picture and the presence of out-of-season greens, non-local avocados, sweatshop chicken and early-puberty cheese. Okay, make that only partly conflicted.

We accompanied them with edamame (which had gone south--we tried to save them in the freezer forever because we were desperately hoping Costco would start carrying them again, but maybe three years is too long?), hummus, and seared spinach with garlic (yum). If you're interested, here is the basic makeup of the sandwich (NOT sammy. Unacceptable terminology.):

bun
baked chicken thigh or breast
cheese (we used Neufchatel, but Monterey Jack would be better)
avocado
spinach

Embellish as you wish with condiments and toppings. Not complicated, but good for your body.

Today's wasp tally amended to 18.

talk of bond, james bond

Today on Talk of the Nation they were interviewing Roger Moore, and I got an embarrassingly large smile on my face. I have a soft spot in my heart for Rog, because he was my first James Bond. I think I can agree with most people that Sean Connery is the superior Bond, but I do feel that Roger Moore brought an irreverence to the role that was endearing. Sean Connery was a little bit scary, which is probably more true to what a James Bond sort of person would be like in real life, but I liked Sir Roger's playfulness. Would you agree that the pendulum sort of swings back and forth like that? Connery--scary, Moore--suave, Dalton--scary, Brosnan--suave. And Daniel Craig is back to the scary. (I don't count George Lazenby, because I haven't seen his film. I know, what kind of Bond fan am I?) So, who is your favorite Bond?

Today's wasp tally: 13 (I KNOW!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

friggin' wasps

Today's wasp tally: 4

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

product may stay: RJ's Natural Soft Eating Licorice

I cannot support licorice that is hard or in any way waxy. To my mind, Twizzlers are the lowest form of licorice--lower even than the hated Red Vines, because at least Red Vines are soft-ish. I really believe that you could melt Twizzlers down and make candles out of them. Until recently, the best black licorice I'd eaten was Kookaburra, but its softness is highly variable according to packaging--the bags are usually safe, but the clear tubs aren't, no doubt from exposure to air and light. Stupids, have Doritos corn chips taught you nothing? A foil-lined bag is imperative in maintaining freshness and flavor!

What I'm trying to say is I bought some RJ's Natural Soft Eating Licorice (Hey! This licorice is for eating, not for washing your backside.) from The Good Earth (store, not book) today, and it doth rock. Soft, not waxy in the least, no weird aftertaste. They're like licorice ropes of varying diameter cut into about 2 1/2" pieces. Spectacular. I imagine their All Sorts are good, too, but I like my licorice straight up.

Today's wasp tally: 6

ETA: I should have clarified: this licorice is black, because black is the good kind. YES, IT IS.

Monday, November 10, 2008

or what? you'll release the dogs? or the bees? or the dogs with bees in their mouths so when they bark they shoot bees at you?

So, awesome: we have a wasp infestation. Inside our house. Yes, you heard me, INSIDE. We never had wasps when we had crappy wood-framed windows! Outside, sure, all the time. They love to build their little hatenests in the awnings over our windows. But starting a couple of weeks ago we have to kill at least 5 wasps a day. Yesterday John went on a hunt, stamping out evil wherever he could find it, and killed probably about thirty of them.

So, tell me, how do you determine whether you have hornets or wasps or yellow jackets? Mud daubers we've ruled out already. But we can't tell what these beasties are. Wikipedia, our go-to information factotum, has given us only more confusion and misery. We can't tell if their bodies have little to no hair, or are fuzzy. We are suspicious that they are hibernating queens looking for a good place to build a nest in the spring.

I did find out that they are good predators of other insects, so my anger is appeased somewhat. But they are still a creature conceived in and hatched from Pandora's box.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

food declaration

A comment on my last post reminded me of this thingie I signed recently. I did it with some misgivings, since I tend to distrust governmental involvement in the food industry, seeing's how that's kind of a huge part of why we're in this mess to begin with. But it's worth reading through and deciding how you feel about it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

turning animals into food

Part of raising animals for meat is the unsavory fact that at some point they have to be harvested. Now, I'm pretty out there, but butchering my own animals is not something I'm willing to do at this point in my journey toward self-sufficiency and sustainability. There is one exception--about 5 years ago we had a chicken who was eating the eggs, and she had an insatiable appetite. We couldn't keep her around, and we decided that if we were going to call chickens food storage, we should probably know how to process one. So we headed over to Steve and Marilyn Adams' house, because they were lucky enough to possess a stump. They also had a number of their own chickens, and were well-versed in the ways of dispatching them. Steve showed us how it's done:

1. Hold the chicken upside down.
2. Lay it across the stump.
3. Give it a good whack through the neck with a nice sharp hatchet.
4. Let the blood drain into a 5-gallon bucket.

And there's your dead chicken, to do with what you wish! Here are the steps we added:

1. Hang the chicken upside down from the braces of your step ladder.
2. Skin it.
3. Cut the meat off the carcass.
4. Use the meat in a recipe for chicken and dumplings.

Let's imagine for a moment how awesome John and I must have looked as we stood in the backyard of our house, in a Utah County subdivision, butchering the chicken that was hanging from our step ladder. It was like the pre-story to an SNL "Appalachian ER" sketch. The chicken and dumplings were great, though. It's become a favorite at our house, but we do sweatshop chicken now.

Anyhoo, last month when Edna lamed herself with the twine I spent an entire day trying to find a meat packer who could fit us into their schedule because: not going to kill my own goat. At least not on purpose, not right now. And for a lot of reasons (high oil prices, high transportation costs, hay fields being converted to corn fields, corn being turned into gas instead of food, don't freaking get me started down this path), it's become terribly expensive to own animals, therefore the six-months-to-a-year waiting list to get your animal butchered. But luckily Edna healed up nicely (she is at her new home now), and we were able to get an appointment for our two wethers with a mobile packer who took them out to the plant in Tremonton and helped them shuffle off this mortal coil. A week later they were frozen white packages, and they reside in our freezer now. I've said this before, but there is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from serving your family meat that you know while it was alive was treated humanely (the wethers are like, "Excuse me? The castration?"), was not diseased, was not given antibiotics or growth hormones, and was raised on a diet of the food it was meant to eat. We do so much damage when we try to circumvent natural laws.

The other day Superman was pointing to an ad in a magazine of mine, advertising those bagel pizza things (the ad was saying how healthy they are compared to the pizza rollup things--seriously, people?) and said, "Those look good! Can we buy them?" And Killjoy Mom said, "No, we can't." And Superman said, "They're plastic?" Does he know me or what? So I'm one of those weird mean moms, but it's something I believe in. I think we're killing ourselves with our food. So if I try to feed them real food as much as possible, then I don't feel as bad when they go somewhere else and eat plastic. And I'm glad that my kids know that when they eat meat, they're eating a tremendous amount of hard work and money, and that a living creature was sacrificed to provide that food, something not to be taken lightly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

blogging the election

Pretty exciting stuff, huh? I wish they'd stop showing that putz in Grant Park who's hanging out with Oprah--you know, the weak-chinned fellow who's covered in flopsweat, even though he's at the winner's rally? Shut up, pasty guy.

I thought McCain's concession speech was gracious, and reminded me why anyone might have wanted to vote for him once upon a time. I wasn't in love with him to begin with, but I felt like he became unrecognizable during the campaign--just a total caricature of all the things people loathe about Republicans. And how about those gross, tacky people who were BOOING Obama? Shut up, classless weirdos.

Oh! They're playing my kryptonite song at Grant Park--the Ghostbusters 2 one! Awesome.

I wish they'd stop yammering and get to Obama's acceptance speech. I never thought I'd say this, but: shut up, Brian Williams.

FINALLY. The speech.

John just said, "They've been married only 6 years longer than us, and he's the president. I'm not even the director of my group at work." Hee.

Oh, this poor man. The road ahead is indeed long, and the climb steep. I just hope for our sake that he can live up to all that's expected of him, because he has a steaming pile of mess waiting for him.

Well, that was fun. Happy new president to us! My initial good impression of Obama faded, as you know, but I am interested to see how this plays out. I'm excited, because it's times like this that remind me that we do live in the greatest nation on earth. Our ability to vote, to have confidence in the legitimacy of the outcome, to know that no matter what party takes what office, we can rest assured that we're on the whole in competent hands . . . well done, us.

vote pie!

We had a red, white and blue dinner today. Red represented by corned beef, white by potatoes and blue by the blueberry pie you see here. There was also rutabaga and carrot, but we won't concern ourselves with their orangey color. Also some bacon and black pepper scones, which were nothing great.

I made some more quince jam as well (it takes too long to type "preserves," just to sound like a prig when you're done). And by "some more" I mean "all of the quince jam I or any of my descendants will ever need."

What with the dinner and the jamming I have literally (yes, literally) been on my feet tending to a no-foolin' hot stove since about 11:00 this morning. Here are my conclusions:

I could really do with two ovens
I could really do with all four of my burners working all the time
I love using pate brisee, and I'll NEVER GO BACK
I'm very thankful that Wendy has a food-milling attachment thingy for a Kitchenaid mixer, because that last time of mashing the quinces through the mesh colander sucked deeply

you know what I'm going to say

VOTE! It's super fun to be a grownup!

let's all play stick your leg out!

I am so the target demographic for this parody, which I poached from All8.

Monday, November 3, 2008

voting, gross crushes and pants

This is an absolutely fascinating article about voting. I was able to get my mind off the fact that Netflix was RUINING MY LIFE and not letting me watch Batman Forever while I was running. Which reminds me--does anyone else think that Tommy Lee Jones is pretty foxy for an old dude?

I've had something on my mind for a while, and I'm going to get it off my chest--some of you have already heard my views on this, but please be patient. Pretend I'm that old lady across the street who keeps talking about her great-grandson named Peter and calling him Peter, Peter, Pumpkineater.

SKINNY JEANS ARE NOT NEW. THEY ARE MOM JEANS BY ANOTHER NAME.

I implore you to watch this informative video: Mom Jeans

Skinny jeans are merely Mom jeans that are tight all the way up, and you don't look good in them. "But--" No. You don't. Nobody does. I can accept them worn inside riding boots, but have we learned nothing from the 80s? Your typical woman does not need help making her thighs appear bigger. Straightleg and flared pants are your friend, even if you are luckier than I, and do not possess a delicious pair of drumsticks.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

sorghum vs. molasses

Saturday we were talking with some friends of ours about molasses, and Richard brought up sorghum. I wondered if maybe molasses came from sugarcane, and sorghum from beets, but as it turns out, molasses comes from both sugarcane and sugar beets, and sorghum is a variety of grass (of the genus Sorghum) from which one can extract a sweet syrup, as with cane (to which it is related) and beets. So there you go, Richard. The Wik to the rescue once again.

Also, has anyone else heard that you will get different (read: inferior) results when you use beet sugar instead of cane? I had heard that somewhere, and the interwebs seem to back up that assertion. I have bought almost exclusively cane sugar, so I haven't had the opportunity to do any testing of my own.

Also, does anyone else feel annoyed with honey producers claiming their product is organic and pesticide-free? Because don't bees kind of get to choose for themselves from which flowers to sup? I guess if you put the hives in the middle of your organic field that is at least 12 miles across you can reasonably say it's not sweatshop honey or whatever, but how many honey producers do that? I claim OBFUSCATION!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

eat that, neighborhood!

I'm done voting!

I was trying to find where to sign Captain America up for basketball, which, do they have to make it so hard for me to give them money? Finally, after trying two other buildings I found the right place in the basement of the police station, which freaked me out, because I had to walk right past the police dogs, and I've seen Mythbusters, I know those guys don't screw around, puma musk or not. But I was not accosted.

And the bonus is that the first wrong building I went to while looking for the "give us money to teach your child athletic prowess" department had early voting. I got my cute little sticker, which doesn't have the cachet that it would next Tuesday, when I could use it to browbeat the non-civic minded around me. Also--no candy! What gives, aged volunteers? I've come to expect to be offered a piece of ancient, nasty Brach's Pick-a-Mix when I do my civic duty and exercise my franchise!

I hope I didn't break the country.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

getting to know quinces, getting to know all about quinces

(Sung to the tune of that song from The King and I--I don't care if the meter is wrong!)

Here is what I know about quinces:

They are very fragrant and do, in fact, perfume the whole room.
I think Nate's grandma's tree is a Pineapple Quince, because that's what these quinces smell like.
They are in the Rosaceae family, so they're cousins to apples, cherries, pears and such.
They are very high in pectin and help with the jelling of other fruits in baked goods.
They are fuzzy like a peach, but hard like an unripe pear.
When raw they are inedible.
They taste yummy when they're cooked.
They take a terrifically long time to cook.

Making quince preserves:

I altered a Martha recipe somewhat, because I looked at the equal parts of quinces and sugar and said, "No, thank you." Refer to Martha for the ingredient list.

Wash the quinces and pull off any leaves or stems, then put them in a pot with 5 cups of water and (if you're me) 2 cups of honey or (if you're not me) 1/2 cup of sugar. Bring them to a boil, then reduce heat and let them simmer until they're tender (mine took about 2 hours).

Once they're tender, remove them from the pot, reserving the liquid. Let them cool enough to chop them into big pieces (I forgot to take a picture of this part), then return them to the pot, seeds, skins and all. Add the lemon juice and (if you're not me) the remaining 5 cups of sugar.

Stir them and let them cook for eleventy billion years until they're soft and the liquid has thickened. They should get to about 220* on a candy thermometer.

Plop the mess into a sieve and moosh it through the mesh with a spoon. Or use a food mill or something fancy if you must. Give the leftover gook to your chickens.

So sparkly!

This is how much I got. Not 7 cups, if you're wondering. But I only need 1 1/2 cups for the cake I'm making, so that's okay. I think the honey-for-sugar swap may have affected the results.

And all I had to do was dirty every dish in my house!

If anybody was wondering, quince preserves taste equally great on both Wensleydale and Midnight Moon.

So if you see some quinces, snatch them up and make some preserves. Or put one under your armpit and give it to your husband. Oh, wait. I think that's supposed to be an apple. Well, preserves it is, then!

at least it's almost over

I keep hearing people expressing the idea that next Tuesday will be a litmus test of America's progress in its treatment of racial minorities, and it bothers me a little. Perhaps I feel this way because I live in an idyllic rural community, but my politics transcend race. I will not vote for Barack Obama because I disagree with him on a number of core issues, but I will not be voting for John McCain, either--for the same reason. And I resent the claim being made that an Obama loss next Tuesday would mean that America is still racist. I will not say that there aren't racists living here--I've certainly had the ill fortune to meet enough of them--but I don't think you can place all the blame at their door. It's the same way I felt about Hillary. Yeah, it's time to have a female president, long past time, in fact, but you don't vote for someone based solely on their gender. Nor do you vote for someone because of their race. Likewise, you don't NOT vote for someone because of their race or gender. That is a ridiculous and dangerous way to conduct governance of an extraordinarily diverse country. So, I do feel that it's quite likely that there will be a Bradley Effect in play, but I don't expect it to change the projected outcome of the election. If Obama loses next week I will eat my hat. Which would really suck, because I'll have to go buy a hat to eat. But I still have enough faith in my countrymen that I believe they, like me, will vote for the person they feel best represents them and their approach to how to help America succeed.

I get so frustrated because I feel like in our modern political arena we only get sound bytes tailored to get airplay, and we're never able to scratch past the carefully constructed veneer and see who any of the candidates really are. So we're left with Obama the Pandering Socialist, Biden the Duplicitous Windbag, McCain the Senile Warmonger and Palin the Redneck Barbie. And I'd guess--I'd hope--that the truth is quite different.

John thinks that we should have a "C-None of the Above" option on the ballot, and if more than 50% of the population chooses C, we get a do-over, Bush leaves office immediately, and the interim president is selected at random from the phone book, because whoever it is surely can't make things any worse than they already are.

Monday, October 27, 2008

makery

Things Chucking It I've done recently:

I made yogurt with some milk that was getting close to its pull date. My children refuse to eat it, because although it tastes EXACTLY like the Mountain High yogurt we buy, it is in an unfamiliar package. But the joke's on them, because I put it in their lunches today, and they'll eat it or starve. The Hulk: "I'll starve, thanks."

Nate's grandma sent some quinces for me, so I'm making quince preserves. I wasn't supposed to peel and core them.

Here is our slow cooker applesauce. Super easy and delicious. Chunk the apples up and cook them until they're soft. I added a little bit of honey and some cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. So I'll feel even more like I'm eating pie filling!

As soon as I find a slow cooker at the D.I. I'm going to get together with some other hippie ladies and make some soap that supposedly only needs to cure for a day. I'll be happy because I wash with lard.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

quirk tag

I've been instructed to list six quirks about myself. What, only six, you say? However did I narrow it down to only six?

1. I cry about some really stupid crap.
For example, I cried while watching Ghostbusters 2 on the treadmill yesterday. Like, not even Ghostbusters Original Recipe. But you guys, with the giant Statue of Liberty, and the playing of "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher," and the baby, oh my gosh, the ENDANGERED BABY. It's the confluence of three of my known kryptonites: nostalgic patriotism, unfettered joyful singing, and jeopardy of a small/cute/furry creature. Jeez, I'm not a robot. Speaking of which . . .

2. I'm fairly certain that intelligent robots will factor heavily in bringing about the end of the world.
John is concerned about my mental well-being.

3. I resent schedules imposed by external forces.
For example, I have one piano student, and every Wednesday I wake up and think, "Well, THIS day is ruined!" because I know I have to be at my house for a specific half hour that afternoon. Even though I'm at my house almost all of the time, anyway. I feel claustrophobic about it.

4. You know those old ladies in nursing homes who swear? That's me.
I know this, because I curse in my brain all the time. It's only the social filters put in place by my parents and my religion that keep me from swearing like a mule skinner, so when I get senile? I'm probably going to get evicted from my assisted living center.

5. I love words, especially big words, especially big German words.
Schadenfreude? Gotterdammerung? Weltanschaung? Angstschweiss? Petersburger Schlittenfahrt? With their ability to create words of such precise, descriptive meaning, it's a wonder that these people aren't running the world.

6. I'm a grammar stickler.
I check and re-check and edit all my correspondence, including emails and text messages. In fact, I refuse to use text language, because I find it asinine, so I type everything out. I'm fine with using an informal, conversational voice (as you may note from my blog), but I hate errors. I found a spot in the comments of one of my posts from a while ago where I had typed "thought" instead of "though," and I seriously considered trashing, rewriting, and reposting the comment.

There they are, six of my hideous disfigurements. I tag Claire (happy birthday!), Jill, Heidi, Courtney, mmm.chocolate, and the tipsy baker.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

so, I make an incision just below the navel?

What is your opinion of health care? Is it a right?

My own opinion is that it is a need, but not a right. I think the world would be much better off if we all had access to affordable, quality health care, especially preventive care. As the situation stands, you have people who can't afford their co-pays, so they don't see a doctor until their problems have gotten drastic enough to require a hospital visit. But I get nervous when people refer to it as a right, because I don't think anything that requires the participation of another person to be a right. For you to have quality health care, you need help from someone who has the ability to provide it, and your rights do not include forcing them to provide that care. Am I making sense at all?

We may as a country take the same road we have with public education and decide that a healthy populace (like a well-educated populace) benefits society enough to merit government funding. I'm not sure how I feel about that, given the state of our public schools, but I'm willing to consider it. I really hate taxes, though. It's the libertarian in me.

So, to sum up, I think our society desperately needs better health care, but I don't want people thinking they're owed it simply because they exist. I am a fierce believer in Oliver Wendell Holmes' quote that "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."

Our inalienable rights as described in the Declaration of Independence are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not the achievement of happiness. (Or the pursuit of property, as my AP Government teacher Mr. Bishop said it.)

But we're all grownups here, and I'd love to hear different opinions. John has broken me and turned me into someone who likes to hear all sides of an argument. I used to be so absolute!

Monday, October 20, 2008

this is what people do who don't live by a good bakery

Joy of Cooking, my longtime companion.

ingredients in the bowl--lotsa eggs

sticky dough

It's a good thing I'm familiar with sticky bread doughs, or I would have killed this by adding too much flour, just to get it off my hands.

ewww

But you add a little oil to your hands, get a bench scraper, and you can work your will upon it.

After two rises (one in the fridge, don't ask me why, Joy is the boss of me) you separate it into three balls and let them sit a spell.

Roll the balls into strands, then dust them with flour so they won't mesh into a big lump in the braid.

plaiting the bread

all done, and fairly decent looking

first layer of egg wash

second layer of egg wash, then a dusting of poppy seeds for my drug test

This is the prettiest bread I've made since that time I made Steven a Bread Wife (she was not as pretty as the Marzipan Wife, but was much better tasting). This bread is not very fun to eat.

But my childhood run-ins with the stomach flu taught me many things, like thinking about sourdough pancakes is a vomit catalyst, and a sojourn in eggs and milk will improve many things.

And so we were able to eat some scrumtrillescent French toast, with homemade butter even. Challah is not great for just eatin' on, but I will be making it again and again for weekend breakfasts.

man, do I ever feel your pain

This website makes me laugh:

You Suck at Craigslist

Because, yes. People are the worst. I've gotten some great things from Craigslist, but you have to do some serious weeding. Does anyone go to school anymore?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

of one-holers and desserts

I want all of you to drop whatever you're doing right now and LISTEN TO ME. Close down all your other tabs, pause your tunes and hearken: THE GHETTO BATHROOM/TOIDEYGYM IS FINISHED! I only have a sucky picture, because it's sort of a difficult space to photograph, but know this: it is so, so great to have another place to deal with waste matter. And apparently, here in the 21st century, the quantity and temperature of the shower water are controlled with one knob! What a time to be alive.

The turd churner is regrettably not part of this picture, but rest assured that it has worked according to spec thus far.

I bought a box of peaches last week that I think must have gotten frozen, because they were all mealy and tasted like if bland and sugary and plastic all gave birth to a malformed baby. But, living by the adage of "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without," I refused to throw them all away (at least until they have been around a little longer). So I made a peach upside-down cake and peach cobbler. Also I had some rolls left over from a baby blessing that John was supposed to leave at the guest of honor's house, but he is so greedy and evil, you guys! He stole them from that sweet little baby and took them to our house! Anyway, the rolls were about to go south, so I made them into a pumpkin bread pudding. And by pumpkin I mean Butternut squash, because that's what I had. There were some issues relating to ten pounds of potatoes in a five pound sack (COBBLER, BOO), and I would be embarrassed to enter these dishes in the county fair, but the children were delighted with The Day of Three Desserts. My favorite was the bread pudding, and it will be made again.

Superman is not daunted by my bounty of baked goods made from ingredients nearing the end of their shelf life.

As you can see, I have a picture cord again, finally, and will post tomorrow about the challah, which made up for its wan personality by enabling us to have the most rocking French toast we have ever eaten. And I'm not exaggerating for effect.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

no pictures of challah

I made challah! And it worked, I think. It's not a very exciting bread, is it? Maybe because I'm not eating it on the Sabbath. And, not having grown up in a Jewish family, or knowing any Jewish people, I had never heard "challah" pronounced. You will be glad to know that it's pronounced with a hard h, as with chutzpah.

That reminds me--I once worked with a girl named Hala Day. Crazy, no? She sat next to Roxanne, so there was much singing of Sting and Madonna that went on. Ah, those halcyon days of yore, working for an educational non-profit. Back when I lived in a studio apartment and could hear my newlywed downstairs neighbors screaming at each other every day. Good times.

I will do a better post of the breadmaking when I am able to download the pictures. But I celebrated WORLD DAY OF BREAD. And it was good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

whoops

Sorry I forgot to tell you peoples about this earlier, but tomorrow is WORLD BREAD DAY. See?

3rd World Bread Day hosted by 1x umruehren bitte aka kochtopf

So tomorrow I'm going to celebrate by baking bread and blogging about it. I'm going to attempt challah, which I have never made before. Should be an adventure, since all the kids will be home on Fall Break.

Monday, October 13, 2008

cheese for conference weekend

Purple Haze
Bleck. It's a decent chevre underneath the herbs (I'm looking at you, FENNEL), but I like my cheese to taste like cheese, not licorice.

Brillat-Savarin
John's dad could not stop eating this cheese. We spread it on a slice of the Dutch oven bread, and it's great. It's like Brie, but if they were both partygoers, the Brillat would listen politely and contribute to conversations without trying to steal focus, while the Brie would stand near the mirrored wall and accidentally keep starting conversations with its own reflection.

Maytag Blue
All the blues I've eaten recently disappoint in comparison to Roaring Forties, but this is okay. A little tangy, smooth-textured, and has a nice finish--a lot milder than you expect.

Midnight Moon
I realize that I've already done this one, but it's so good, you guys. So caramelly and nice. I want you all to go to Whole Foods and buy it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

dinner report

Tonight's Menu:

Red Beans and Rice
Collard Greens
Green Beans
Monster Bread
Pieces of Chocolate

The red beans and rice were delicious. Maybe not authentic Cajun--you'd have to ask Matthew--but good all the same. The collard greens came from my own garden, if you can imagine. I can't believe they survived, but they did and they were pretty good. I think I'll try the Swiss chard next, since it's the only other plant that survived my negligence. The green beans were the result of a last-minute caving of my resolve to force the children to eat dark, leafy greens. It's a good thing the world economy is going down the pissoir--maybe it'll teach them to be grateful for their slimy vegetables! The monster bread is because I tried to make some sourdough bread, but didn't have enough time to do it properly, so the bread didn't rise. There it was, 30 minutes to zero hour, and I had no bread. So I mashed it in a pan, sprinkled olive oil, coarse salt and fresh pepper over it, and pretended it was focaccia. It was surprisingly successful. The pieces of chocolate are to prevent cancer and dementor attacks. That is all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I hear digging, but I don't hear chopping

We thought we were going to have to take Edna to the chop yesterday, because of course she got a piece of twine wound around half of her hoof (you know, because goats cheweth the cud and parteth the hoof) and lamed herself but good. It was in so deep that it had started cutting off the hoof. But the Allreds (to whom Edna rightfully belongs, so they had a vested interest) came over after dinner and we stuck Edna in the milking stand, sprayed her with lidocaine, plied her with grain and comfrey leaves, and set to work with an x-acto knife. Happily there was a spot on the inside of her hoof where Brian could cut away at the twine, and about a minute later the twine was extracted, and nasty it was indeed. Then we soaked her foot in epsom salts, then greased it up with some sort of pasty herbal thing Wendy brought. Almost immediately Edna started to put a little bit of weight on the foot, and her spirits improved considerably.

Also yesterday I went to the library (no fee this time!), picked up the milk, took Superman to preschool, taught a piano lesson, picked Superman up from preschool, made five loaves of bread, cooked meals and practiced a song for a funeral--not someone I know, I just seem to be a hired gun for this sort of thing. And I was sworn in at city council meeting to be on the Board of Adjustments or somesuch. I love rural city council meetings. True to form, there was a farmer there wanting ag protection so he can't be sued by the new move-ins because he's farming, and another wanting the speed limit decreased on his road so his livestock won't keep getting hit by the morons that are using it as a shortcut to Idaho. You know where my sympathies lie. I'm the sort of person who wants our town to have restrictive covenants that say you have to buy an existing house, and you can't subdivide a parcel of land into anything smaller than 5-acre lots, which have to be kept agricultural. And now I have my foot in the door! See how I begin to snake my tentacles into the system and commence exercising unrighteous dominion over my fellow townsfolk?

I've been out to check on Edna, and her foot isn't looking great. I was hoping to avoid penicillin if possible, but we may have to use it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

denny's . . . love denny's . . . can't get enough

Sorry it's been so ALL POLITICS ALL THE TIME around here lately. But I'ma talk about it some more all the same. I'm thankful that NPR has commentators to parse the bombast and hopefully find the kernels of truth, if there be any. Now all we have to do is decide which lies are deal-breakers and how much we want the deficit to increase over the next four years--by 200-something billion, or merely 200-something billion.

I highly recommend visiting procon.org and factcheck.org to help clear the waters a little. During the primaries of this interminable presidential campaign I visited the websites of all the candidates to see what each of them had to say. Well, good luck finding anything of substance or worth. I learned that they were all very fond of buzzwords and propaganda, or barring that, insane, but I certainly didn't feel that any of them were being terribly forthright about what they really intend to achieve while in office.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

product may not stay: this stupid shirt I bought from old navy yesterday

WARNING: any male readers who are not my husband may want to skip this boring and yet overly intimate post.

So I bought these shirts from Old Navy, because it's time for my summer uniform of jeans and T-shirts to change to my winter uniform of jeans and long-sleeved T-shirts. And I guess I didn't poke and pull enough in the dressing room, because the elbow-sleeved shirts with a sort of henley front are so low-cut that my dinners are always plated, even with a tank top underneath. I wore one today while I was out running errands, and I was miserable. Pull, tug, shimmy, yank, pull, tug, shimmy, yank. Now I've got to go back and exchange them, which is a big hassle. Friggin' Old Navy. Product may not stay.

Monday, October 6, 2008

having goats is like money in the bank . . . if the bank is your toilet

Current goat situation:

Traci: staying on
Finola: don't remind me
Catwoman: staying on--her udder was much better this year than I expected, and her milk had that hint of sweetness that marks her as one of Finola's babies
Edna: going to the Allreds, our wonderful neighbors who have chaperoned us down the path of better nutrition and conspiracy theory
Catwoman's twins: gone to the Christensens in payment for Cyclone's services
Tenacious D: soon to be packages
The Other Boy: soon to be packages

We think we can get away with not buying any beef this fall--we certainly don't have the room in the freezer for it, anyway, once the two wethers are dealt with.

I am really looking forward to only having two mamas kidding next spring. I was knackered by the end of kidding season this year--although it made a terrific excuse for the extreme suckitude of my garden.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

you, too can be unrepresented!

A fun/discouraging quiz for you to take can be found on procon.org. I took it, and found that, as I suspected, none of the ridiculous yahoos running for office represent me. I am in 30% agreement with both McCain and Obama. I guess I should be relieved it's as high as that. Perhaps I can make like whatever Utah city that is that has declared independence from the U.N.

Ah! I just found it. It's La Verkin. Hee.

So maybe we'll secede from the Union and establish our own system of government. I think I'll go with a benevolent dictatorship, which is pretty much what we already have.

it's nature's candy, but not like raisins, which are mean to kids

Those Angelus peaches I bought the other day? They are so, so sweet. Like, so sweet that the Brix scale is all, "Look, you're on your own, man." I'm loving them, but I'm a little afraid of how the Hales are going to compare when I buy them next week (because this is the last picking of Angelus). They'll probably taste like grapefruit aspirin. But! I will persevere.

not to pile on . . .

. . . but this video from Letterman is pretty funny.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

because I like lecturing folks

Peach season is still on for a while, so don't be fooled. In fact, the peaches are cheaper now. I just bought a half bushel of Angelus peaches for $15, and the Hales are only $12 a half. I was paying $18 and $20 dollars just a few weeks ago. And I'm not sorry for it. I'm telling you, Sumida's has incredible produce. I just heard this morning that he had to sell his apple and pear orchards to be turned into houses, because things are so tight. WHY WILL PEOPLE INSIST ON BUILDING THEIR HOUSES ON FARMLAND? WHY WILL THEY NOT SUPPORT THEIR LOCAL FOOD SUPPLIERS?

Please, if any of you live near a place where you can get some local produce, please go buy something. Hey! Let's make it a challenge!

Baba Capra Challenge:
Procure some produce grown within 25 miles of your home. The closer the better. Those of you who grow everything you eat, I salute you. You are exempt from the challenge. For the rest of us, let's find something local and yummy and eat it. And it's not just about fossil fuels or herbicides or pesticides or industrial agribusiness. It's about supporting the people who feed us. It's about saying thank you for doing all the crappy jobs like thinning peaches, picking beans and digging potatoes. It's about eating food that's real, that's been grown not because it ships well, but because the taste of it makes you have to sit down and catch your breath.

Local Harvest is a good resource, but it is missing a bunch of places. For example, it doesn't have any of the fruit stands along Highway 89 listed, or Mitchell's in American Fork (which may have gone out of business by now, for all I know), where they sell the most wonderful apples. It will at least have farmers' and gardeners' markets listed for your area, though.

Please leave a comment telling me what you bought, where you bought it, and what you did with it. I do love talking about food.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

you should eat this

Here is the recipe for the Moroccan Chicken. I promise it's not hard. It just takes a month if you preserve your own lemons and take a vacation to California.

Here is the recipe for preserved lemons. You don't have to make your own, but I didn't want to buy them.

you have to vote for one of us, it's a two party system

Whether or not it was calculated to curry favor with the voting public (totally was), John McCain's suspension of his campaign to go back to Washington and work on the bailout (GRRR) was the right thing to do. Will the plan that is eventually implemented be wrongheaded and allow unprecedented governmental invasion of the private sector? Absolutely. Will it reward greedy, immoral lenders, investors, and people who knowingly bought more house than they could afford? Absolutely. But even so, Senators McCain and Obama have an obligation to their constituency that predates their presidential campaigns.

Obama's reason for not suspending his campaign or delaying Friday's debate was that now, more than ever, the American people need to hear from the men campaigning to become president and be in charge of this whole mess in 40 days. (He also said a really stupid thing about both himself and McCain having big planes painted with their names, that can get them to Mississippi in a hurry. Umm, so?)

Something we say to our children is, "I can't hear what you say, because your actions are so loud." What do we care what they say in the debate, if it's already been proven that their desire to rule supersedes their desire to actually do the job?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

sometimes I feel like a good mom

Like this past Saturday, for instance. Check out this menu:

  • whole wheat pancakes made from fresh ground flour and sweetened with honey instead of sugar
  • butter we made ourselves from shaking the cream that rose to the top of the . . .
  • raw milk
  • eggs from our happy chickens who still have their beaks and can walk around and flap their wings
  • real maple syrup
  • peaches from Sumida's fruit stand (the quality of their produce is superb)
  • Crenshaw melon from Sumida's
  • grapes from my parents' vines
The presentation in this picture is not what it could be, because I forgot to take a picture while it looked nice.

It's just breakfast, and it's just pancakes, which: not going to win me an award (although they should--they're Emily's recipe and are irresistible), but meals like that make me feel like I have a handle on at least one aspect of my life. There is an unrelenting barrage of noise and traffic that life brings, and sometimes I feel like I'm in real danger of losing my entire mind, don't you know? But cooking is a salve for and respite from that. I get to show my family I love them, teach them that real food tastes better, and calm down enough that I don't have to velcro them to the wall. And I think we can agree that is a good thing.

It looks a little bit like a cheese store threw up on our table.

On Tuesday we pretty much ate cheese for dinner. We ate a tomato salad with the mozzarella that Emily learned how to make on Saturday (she did a great job), sourdough toast from my nasty first batch of sourdough bread, peaches from Sumida's, and a crap-ton of cheese. I found two new kinds that I heart; Cana de Cabra and Midnight Moon.

Cana de Cabra is a soft goat's cheese that is a little like Humboldt Fog, smooth and creamy and mild.

Midnight Moon is my new boyfriend, although John may be vying for its attentions. It's very much like an aged gouda, sweet and tangy with flavor crystals.

mama loves her stories

You. Guys. I love that crazy Terminator show. Because we rarely watch conventional TV anymore we had no idea that the new season started three weeks ago, so imagine my dismay and glee last night when I realized that we had missed the first three episodes, but could watch them all online on FOX's website. Woot!

So of course we watched all three episodes back-to-back, because see prior evidence re: no willpower. And I love it so, so much. Anyone who knows me at all well and my opinion that humans are their own worst enemy, because of their arrogance and love of playing God, will understand why this show might resonate particularly well with me. Plus I love crap getting blown up.

Monday, September 22, 2008

tree season

This weekend we bought some trees, and got two of them planted. Here's what we got:

Cottonless Cottonwood
Stella sweet cherry
Skyline Honeylocust
Autumn Blaze maple

The cottonwood is not a fancy tree, but they do grow wicked fast and get HUGE, so we'll be able to have shade before our grandchildren are dead. I'm excited to finally have a cherry tree. I love Honeylocusts, and the nasty wind snapped our last one, so we had to replace it. I bet the Honeylocust we planted at our old house is huge now. And the Autumn Blaze maple is supposed to be a good cultivar of the Red Maple--it's a cross of the Red Maple and the Silver Maple, so it tolerates alkaline soil without getting chlorotic, and is drought tolerant. I hope it will be a good tree--the fall color is supposed to be excellent. Dirr says mostly good things about it.

Also this weekend we finally ate the Moroccan chicken that I've been preparing for a month--that's how long it took to preserve the lemons, take a ten-day trip to California and back, buy the saffron, wait for the weekend so I could make it for more people than just John and me and our ungrateful children, and make the dish. Good times. It was yummy in my tummy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

let's try being a citizen of america first

I'm going to complain about politics for a minute, because it's my blog and so far the Patriot Act doesn't forbid it.

I feel that America, and specifically its president, should be primarily concerned with being, good, kind, just, and decent because it is the right thing to do, not because we're concerned that we've lost standing in the eyes of the world. If the rest of the world happens to think better of us because we are good people, that's fine. But this argument I keep hearing that Obama's policies would help redeem us to everyone else, and using that as a reason to vote for him? That's garbage. Will Obama's policies help US? Will WE be a stronger, better nation because of them? That's the question that should be asked, not whether the cool kids will like us better if we . . . just . . . act . . . DIFFERENT, somehow.

Also, I am annoyed by the belief that politicians seem to have that, even in this age in which practically nothing goes unreported, they can say completely contradictory things, lie about their past, and it won't cause a problem for us. Perhaps it's because there is just so much noise from all points about pregnant daughters and the role of women in government and stolen identities and drug addiction and racist preachers that we really aren't able to catch them in their lies. But when you hired a private lobbying firm to get more federal funds in your town's coffers, don't turn around and say that when the government tried to give you money you refused and said "No, thank you."

I am disgusted by these people. Deceitful, arrogant despots-in-training, all of them.

And! And! Government-mandated charity is not good, it is redistribution of wealth. It is socialism. If you want to help the poor and needy, be generous with your own money and lead by example.