Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas


'Twas the night before Christmas & out on the ranch
The pond was froze over & so was each branch.
The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.

The kids were all home on vacation from school,
And happier young folks you never did see-
Just all sprawled around a-playing their Wii.

Then suddenly, some time around 8 o'clock ,
There came a surprise that gave them a shock!
The power went off, the TV went dead!
When Grandpa came in from out in the shed
With an armload of wood, the house was all dark.

"Just what I expected," they heard him remark.
"Them power line wires must be down from the snow.
Seems sorter like times on the ranch long ago."
"I'll hunt up some candles," said Mom. "With their light,
And the fireplace, I reckon we'll make out all right."

The teenagers all seemed enveloped in gloom.
Then Grandpa came back from a trip to his room,
Uncased his old fiddle & started to play
Some old Christmas songs the ole' fashioned way.

Mom started to sing, & 1st thing they knew
Both Pop & the kids were all singing them, too.
They sang Christmas carols, they sang "Holy Night,"
Their eyes all a-shine in the warm firelight.

They played some charades Mom recalled from her youth,
And Pop read a passage from God's Book of Truth.
They stayed up til' midnight--and, would you believe,
The youngsters agreed 'twas a fine Christmas Eve!

Grandpa rose early, some time before dawn;
And when the kids wakened, the power was on..
"The power company sure got the line repaired quick,"
Said Grandpa - & no one suspected his trick.

Last night, for the sake of some REAL Christmas fun,
Gramps pulled the main switch - the old Son-of-a-Gun!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

seaside candy roll- pecan log

I saw this recipe on Blind Pig and the Acorn yesterday and decided I absolutely had to make one. When I saw the recipe, I immediately thought of Stuckey's and their pecan rolls. My mother absolutely loved them so whenever we were on a road trip, we would stop and get a pecan roll or three. Since I was already shelling a big old pile of pecans yesterday, the posting of the recipe was perfect timing and I just shelled a few more so I could make some today.

I followed the recipe from the Blind Pig with the exception of the maple flavoring and the corn syrup. I do not like maple anything except for pure syrup so instead used vanilla. I do not buy corn syrup either, so instead used a recipe for a corn syrup substitute.

corn syrup substitute

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup water

1/4 tsp. cream of tarter

dash of salt

Combine all ingredients in a pan. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and put a cover on for 3 minutes to get sugar crystals off the sides of the pan. Uncover and cook until it reaches soft ball stage. Stir often. Cool syrup and store in a covered container at room temperature. It will keep 2 months.

Seaside candy roll

1 cup pecans

1/3 cup margarine

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon maple flavoring

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound powdered sugar (4 1/2 cups)

Chop 1/2 cup of the pecans finely and 1/2 cup coarsely. Mix together margarine, corn syrup, maple flavoring and salt. Start adding powdered sugar a cup or so at a time. Mix well, when too stiff, turn out and knead the rest of the ingredients into the dough, reserving the coarsely chopped pecans for outside coating. Once the mixture is smooth-divide it in half; roll/shape each half into a roll 2 inches thick. Brush rolls with additional corn syrup. Roll in coarsely chopped nuts; wrap in wax paper or foil and chill; slice into 1/4 inch pieces before serving.

These are very very sweet and quite tasty although not quite the same as what I remember. After doing a bit of a search I believe that the Stuckey's logs are made from a different type of nougat. It is a bit more detailed and lengthy process than these are but for those interested here is the recipe.

fruit leather

**the pics are from 3 separate batches of leather. apple butter leather**

I have been on a fruit leather making kick as of late. It is soooooooo easy to make and it is cleaning out the freezer a bit to make room for some meat to go in there. We were recently going to purchase a side of beef until I had a look see in the freezer and figured we could perhaps fit 20 pounds of meat in, certainly not enough space for half of a steer.

Making leather is a great way to use up some of the many fruits I have frozen that otherwise would likely be forgotten about until next summer when I need room for more fruit and veg. It is not that we do not like our fruit, I just forget about it because of the old, out of sight out of mind thing. The canned jellies, syrups, jams, pie filling and fruit are all on shelves so we use them regularly but the frozen stuff gets forgotten. The leathers will make a nice and healthy addition to the manthings lunches and a great snack to have around the house too.

We only have a solar dehydrator here, but I have learned over time that underneath the wood stove is a great place to put trays of fruits and veggies to dehydrate them in the winter. It does not get too warm but provides a nice steady supply of low heat that does a great job of drying and is as quick as a commercial made dehydrator and its free! Before trying this at home, check and see how warm it is under your stove, for all I know you may be able to roast a turkey under yours.
** thai golden and watermelon**

When I make the leathers, I use frozen fruit. I simply thaw and puree in a food processor or blender.The consistency I like, resembles a thick applesauce. If it is too thin I strain it through a strainer bag for a spell. I use no sweeteners in mine though some folks do. I then spread it on a plastic wrap lined cookie sheet to about 1/4 inch thick and place under the stove on bricks. I would not suggest using wax paper, mine stuck to the leather and was tough to get off. Within 24 hours or so I have a nice sheet of leather. I like to rip mine up like jerky and throw in a jar to just grab as needed. You can also roll the sheet either in the wrap or cut in sections, roll and then wrap. It is just a matter of preference. Ours are not meant for long term storage but they can be vacuum sealed and stored like any other product for long term.
**mixed berry with apple**

I have not tried any of these additions as yet but thought some of them were pretty neat ideas. I really like the idea of the whirled up squash in order to stretch the amount of fruits.
  • finely chop nuts to add to the fruit puree.
  • adult-flavored fruit leathers, small amounts of fruit brandy or liqueurs (or nut liqueurs) can be added to the puree.
  • unflavored (or vanilla) yogurt with a fruit puree.
  • add zuchinni 50/50 to the puree for increased yield. The squash picks up the flavor of the fruit while having no flavor of its own
  • leave bits and chunks of fruit in the puree
  • add spices to the puree to enhance flavor

Monday, December 20, 2010

monday's mountain musings

Yippy! I finally have a two week break from school! I do not think I have been so excited about a vacation to no where in about 35 years to be quite honest. This semester,I am taking a psychology course. And while I love studying and watching people, I have no real interest in studying it and find it to be quite ludicrous to spend an entire semester doing so. That said, my lack of interest and not caring for the teaching style of the professor, it has made the last 3 weeks of life seem like hell.

The weather here has taken a turn for the better, at least for a couple of days. We are now seeing 40s during the day which is much better than what we have been having. The cabbages and the veggies in the greenhouse seem to be holding up quite well despite the extreme temperatures we have had so early in the season.

Although I have not written much in the last couple of weeks, I have been busy and taking pictures so that I can post about what we have been up to. Over the next couple weeks I will probably be posting more than I have been recently because I will have more time. Although, I did sign up to take an online small business class and business writing class over my break so spare time will still be limited. I have ideas and want to try some of them out but to do that I need to know more about business, planning, and so on before doing so. If I do not move on my ideas now, I will again sweep them to the back of my mind with it nagging me for another year until I have time again.This has been something I have been pushing back for many years, it's time to quit procrastinating.

Today, to begin my break, I have to do a load or two of laundry, wash dishes, make some bread and cookies and go fetch drinking water. What a relaxing way to start vacation... Tonight, I am hoping to catch the eclipse but the weather man is saying clouds and freezing rain. For those that celebrate, Happy Solstice!