Thursday, December 31, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
"Every Christmas my Mom would get a fresh goose, for gooseburgers, and my Dad would whip up his special eggnog out of bourbon and ice cubes."
Christmas breakfast was just a biscuit on the go. Today, even though it's not even light out yet, I'm making a real breakfast. You start with the best pre-made eggnog on the planet, Oberweis, if you can get it. This is not the time to use something out of a 3 gallon barrel that just says "eggnog" in black letters on it. The origins, even the ingredients used to make the first eggnog are subject to debate. with much history and life in this tasty little brew. It might have been tho developed from posset , a medieval beverage made with hot milk. It's been suggested that the "nog" came from the word "noggin", a Middle English term used to describe a small, wooden, carved mug used to serve alcohol. Yet another story is that the term derived from the name "egg-and-grog", a common Colonial term used to describe rum. Eventually, it was said, the term was shortened to "egg'n'grog", then "eggnog".
Even if you don't love eggnog, you will like these - light and tall, incredibly rich and worth the trouble.
The secret is clarified butter and the eggnog. The batter is quite thick and you have to watch the heat in the pan when cooking as they are, pardon my French, delicate little bastards. Too hot and they burn before they cook through, too cold and they are rubber. Try a test pancake for practice and then prepare yourself for a treat.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
My first set of wheels was technically a small blue bicycle that transported me from one adventure to the next. My first automobile was another matter. What I wanted was a muscle car. What I GOT was a high mileage VW Bug. NOT exactly the wheels I had envisioned. But all the family budget would allow.
I open the door to my vehicle, the door creaking gently open so not to wake Barkley in the house. It's a large truck, extended cab, with a short bed. It cost as much as homes used to and serves me well, serves me practically. On it's stereo is Vivaldi and Celtic music, sedate adult music that I listened to on the drive home. As I go to climb in, I catch a reflection in the side window of my truck and see a small smile. I think today I'll listen to something else.
Windows cleared, the road is mine. The neighborhood is still asleep. It's just me and my ride, miles of road interspersed with the angular cuts of farm land, ringed with blue/black sky. I sort through old CD's at a stop sign, selecting some not listened to for a long time. I salute the road, with a small burst of gravel, fabric against my skin, the sound of cotton and warm flesh in action, the heat of the road in me.
Ahead is only the miles, with nothing to do but take in the passing landscape. My home is more than a small house, my life more than work and heartache, it's this whole open world. Up ahead a horizon, up above a sky, inscrutable, desolate above the land it wombs. I surge from a stoplight, Billy Idol with a rebel yell, hitting the highway. Adulthood can wait for just a few hours. There will be enough time to put on my professional demeanor in just a few hours, but the hours are inconsequential to me now. Time doesn't matter when I'm on the road. My age doesn't matter with the steering wheel under my hand. The asphalt flows past, black sleeves and alabaster hands, my lips forming into soundless words, the thump of the beat of the music, pounding along with my youthful heart.
Monday, December 21, 2009
That phrase is oft associated with song lyrics but it's actually from the Bible.
To everything there is a season,and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
Holidays are a time of joy and also one of reflection. Most of us have lost someone close to us in our lives. A parent, a spouse, a friend, a beloved pet. It does not matter what form love takes, it becomes part of us, and losing it is like peeling away that outer layer of skin, leaving nerve endings exposed to the cold. We all know that every life must end, but when it ends much too young or abruptly, it is just so hard to accept. For the true majestic, incandescent blindness of love is its willful refusal to fully acknowledge that at some time death will take someone from our lives here.
I remember a moment four summers ago, when I was staying at home after my Dad had suffered a mild stroke, walking into the home of my childhood, carrying groceries and seeing my Dad so still on the couch, it appeared he wasn't breathing. For just an instant, everything went into high relief, like a scene in a 3-D movie - the Safeway bag dead weight in my arm, the sun glinting off my old piano against the wall, Dad's slippers on the floor. My whole life suspended, bathed in bright June sunlight. In the short terrible space between that moment and the next, when he opened his eyes and smiled, I got a glimpse of grief as it would look in this new incarnation. And perhaps, for those of us who have had that glimpse, it is partly the encroaching darkness that makes the light so vivid.
I look at portraits of myself and then look at that of my own daughter, wondering if decades from now, the upcoming generations of our women will remember the strength and love from which they were born.
For now my Dad is here on this earth and though there are days he's a little befuddled and often forgets my name, he is still with me; with my stepmom, a kind and good woman, lost in the shadows of her own mind, dancing to memories we can't see, a smile always on her face.
For now, for this season, I'll concentrate on the good days; for those conversations together, for quiet mornings reading from a book together, even if neither remember my name. Every hour, every day is grace. And I am going to savor that, for it's not what you've lost that counts, its what you do with what you have left. There will be time for mourning later.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
When they got into stuff I didn't have the skill set to do, I retired to the safety of the kitchen and made Guinness Stew for everyone.
This is all you need (OK, and coffee). I bet most of you have these things on hand. This makes enough to feed several hungry people, with leftovers, as I doubled the regular recipe.
Toss 4 pounds of stew meat in a mixture of flour (about 6 T. seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper and a dash of cayenne or Penzey's Northwoods Seasoning) and then brown on all side in a large, deep pan in which 5 tablespoons of olive oil is heated until hot, not smoking (add in more oil as needed as it cooks up).
Barkley wants a poster made out of this picture.
After the meat is removed to keep warm, saute six cloves of garlic, or the equivalent of chopped garlic, in the pan with two chopped onions, stirring up the little bits of meat and juice from the bottom of the pan until the onion starts to caramelize. Add in 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and six chopped carrots and cook 4 minutes. Add in six potatoes, peeled and diced into big pieces, and the meat. Pour 32 ounces of room temperature Guinness and a 32 ounce can of beef broth over the top until the meat is covered, adding more of both if needed.
Bring to a boil and boil 3 minutes, then reduce heat, stir and cover. Simmer for an hour, until the vegetables are tender, adding in 2 tablespoons of parsley and a another pinch of salt and pepper (to taste) about 10 minutes before it is done. To thicken broth slightly prior to serving, make a roux out of a small spoonful of flour and some cold water in a large coffee mug. Slowly stir in a little of the hot broth into the mug, stirring so the flour doesn't congeal, and then pour that, in a thin stream, into the stew to thicken, stirring as you do. It's also good unthickened, more like a rich soup than a stew. The broth does not taste like beer, but it's wonderful.
Sprinkle with more parsley if you like and serve with a loaf or two of fresh bread to dunk in the rich broth and you are set.
click to enlarge photos
Friday, December 18, 2009
I waited for an hour while they went over it thoroughly. The shop supervisor said they found nothing wrong and like me, figured it was packed snow or ice. When I got out my credit card, he quickly said "Oh Miss, no charge, no charge at all.", shooing me out the door with a fresh cup of hot coffee. I was really pleased.
Then after I got home I noticed, that having come from a hunt recently, and a field dressing, the truck bed was covered in blood stains. No wonder they didn't charge me. :-) They either figured me for a fellow hunter or an axe murderer.
But I'm home, Barkley happy to see his "Mom" and I'm ready to unwind. Tomorrow, a bit more "home improvement" to be done. to the tune of a big pot of Guinness beef stew and fresh bread. Later, some time to write a real post.
Tonight, a long, hot bubble bath.
Uh. . . . Or maybe not.
(I had asked Barkley to put away the stuff in the bathroom but he used that "opposable thumb" excuse again)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
2. ammo cans
4. Shell Sorter Brass Sorter 380 ACP Adapter Plate
5. Mossberg Sight Kit Ghost Ring Mossberg 590
6. The Barrett 82A1 rifle kit. Featuring the 82A1 semi-automatic rifle. Includes-
Semi-automatic Rifle, 50BMG, 29" Bbl, Black Finish, Composite Stock, with Leupold Vari-X III 4.5-14X50 Scope, Cleaning Equipment, Air/Watertight Carrying Case, and M1913 Accessory Rail, One 10-Round Magazines (on sale at Impact Guns for only $9,999)
7. Lyman Trigger Pull Gage Electronic Digital 0 to 12 lb
8. Lyman "Reloading Handbook: 49th Edition" Reloading Manual Softcover
9. Ney Certified Pure Tin Bullet Casting Alloy (99.85% Pure), 4 of them please
10. Hornady Lock-N-Load Bullet Comparator Basic Set with 6 Inserts
11. Any of the Lee 6 cavity Bullet Molds
12. A new coffeepot
13. and a tank (well I can ask)
My very own cat
and a pot roast
Sunday, December 13, 2009
People laugh at me because I have this simple cell phone that does nothing but ring, no blackberry but there are some things that just beg to be built by hand and I just marvel at stuff like this.
In high school I was the shy, geeky kid that skipped a few grades, and not a lot has changed. I'll never be the "it" girl of either the prom or the blogosphere, and I don't care to be. With these people that are my family, with toys we all share and the ability to work and laugh hard and well, I think I will survive most anything. Even selling a big old house and soon, building my own cabin, with a little help from my friends.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
"Or even better, some of that magic .223 dust." - Brigid
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Of store Brands I like Blue Bell (from those years living down south with the annoying Texas Longhorns). It's not totally natural, but it is, in my opinion, one of the best store ice creams for the price, hands down.
Trader Joe's vanilla is pretty good. But Trader Joe's is an hour's drive away.
My brother always has some Tillamook in his freezer. The Marion berry flavor is my favorite. It has corn syrup but it doesn't feel like a visit back there if I don't eat some.There are others that have the little specks of vanilla bean, but specks don't always translate into flavor. Breyers at one time used to be really good, almost like a fresh gelato, but since they were taken over by Unilever, they removed the "pledge of purity" which used to be on every carton and added some gums and chemicals. The label now? MILK, CREAM, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, EGG YOLKS, NATURAL FLAVOR, NATURAL GUAR GUM, SALT, ANNATTO (FOR COLOR), NATURAL CAROB BEAN GUM.
I don't care if it's "natural" I don't want "carob bean gum, guar gum and corn syrup in my ice cream. The taste? It shows.
Hagan Daz is good but still, for the price, has a strong alcohol and vanilla odor. If you take a sniff after it's melted it smells sour. They have a new one that is five ingredients only. The vanilla and coffee flavor of those are excellent.
Ben and Jerry's? There was one that I liked that was some chocolate brownie thing but it's off the shelf now, at least at my local store. For the most part I like my ice cream pretty simple That's strictly a personal thing. I want my ice cream plain not with chunks and monkeys and granola, gummy bears or ground up hippies in it. But Ben and Jerry's IS a high quality ice cream for those of you who like the add ins.
Everyone should gave a great recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream in their repertoire. Here's my favorite, which comes from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)
It's not super quick to make and real vanilla beans and the pure extract aren't cheap, vanilla being most of the most labor-intensive of all crops, but it's worth it.
The three most common cooking vanillas are Bourbon, Tahitian, and Mexican. Bourbon vanilla, from Madagascar has a bold, very-pronounced flavor. Tahitian is more floral, and a rare find. Real Mexican is strong, yet creamy-tasting. But don't buy the cheap Mexican impostors. They can contain coumarin, which is toxic and banned in the U.S. True Mexican vanilla will be similarly priced to the best stuff (not cheap, and worth it).
I know it's winter, but take yourself back to summer with a bowl. What's the fun of being an adult if you can't be a kid every once in a while. - Brigid