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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cooking on the Dairy-Chapter Two addendum

Zucchini Pie

This happened just about 2 weeks ago. I decided that I would use up some of the zucchini that I so painstakingly peeled, deseeded and sliced back in early summer. Mostly I use it for this zucchini pie recipe that we like; once it's all done it tastes almost exactly like apple pie. (I very much miss having apple trees.)

So happily humming to myself I make the crust, thaw the zucchini, measure the spices, stir, stir, stir it all up and assemble; confident in my ability to cook this simple dessert. At the appropriate time I take it out of the oven; sniff, sniff, ahhhh the aroma.

Time for dessert after supper; I slice it and put a generous serving on my husband's plate. A piece lands on my hand, I taste it.


"Dear," I say. "I think I did something wrong."

"What?" he asks. "Did you forget the sugar?"

"Ummm, yes, I did."

Well, ever the optimist, especially when it comes to dessert, my husband takes a nice big bite. It almost immediately lands on the plate again. Ha.

"Ewww," he says, "it tastes almost like green persimmon."

Yep, it sure did. See, to give zucchini pie that tart apple tang you have to add a wee tad of lemon juice to the mix. *sigh*

The possums ate well that night.

Note to self: when making pie of any type, be sure to add the sugar.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cooking on the Dairy-Chapter Two

This unfortunately won't be as amusing as my gelatin caper story. It has taken me so long to post this because I wasn't able to make it into a funny story, mostly it is just odds and ends.

More blunders:

My mother says I have always been the type of person who wouldn't try to do anything unless I was sure I was doing it correctly. I guess that is true. I haven't really made too terribly many blunders in cooking, but then again I am only a bit less than 3 years along in my marriage and cooking career. So, I am sure there are more blunders on the way. Here are the ones that stick out in memory.

About 2 years ago I was making scalloped taters and read the recipe wrong. Please note: a whole tablespoon of pepper will totally ruin your scalloped potato casserole.

My mother in law has this apple salad recipe that she makes. It involves chopped apples, raisins and mini marshmallows. The dressing is Miracle Whip style salad dressing with sugar and a tad of vinegar. A bit after we first got married my husband requested this salad. My MIL told me the ingredients but I did not ask about quantities. I whipped it up; just adding and stirring as I went. When I tasted it I knew I had been too generous with the vinegar. Unfortunately I did not have another apple in the house but was determined to have this salad for supper. So I rinsed off all the dressing and started over. One of my friends said, "You rinsed off .75 worth of dressing to save .10 worth of apple." Ha!

Oops..the baby needs her bottle. Coming soon....zucchini pie.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ellen and Calves

Here's a cute picture; a nice break from all the stories.

Ellen and the calves were fascinated with each other while I did my little walk along the fence line.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Storage Building Story

This will be an interlude from dairy cooking while I cook up another story about my kitchen adventures. I actually wrote this well over a year and a half ago and friends found it entertaining...husband did not find it so entertaining for some reason, so if you know him and see him, just keep mum about it. Thanks! Ha!

It all started about 2 1/2 years ago when we realized that this modular home was not designed with any type of storage in mind. Down on the back of the ridge, built on a slope, my DH had a small 8'X10' building that he had constructed about 20 years ago, back before he had the sawmill or dairy. He'd hand sawn all the boards from oak and built it as kind of an office/hangout back in the woods. He had a small old sofa and dresser in there. Well, he figured he would move it up here for us to use as storage, though he was nervous about the whole process and kept putting it off. But he finally bit the bullet and moved it; quite a process involving the bulldozer, the dump-bed truck, and a couple different tractors with various attachments.

When it was finally in place my job started; and a nasty job it has been. The building hadn't been used in close to 15 years and had become the abode of generations of spiders and packrats. It was FULL of acorns, leaves, sticks and all kinds of nasty stuff. DH had had phone books and manuals and other boxes of things in there, but most of it was trashed. We had to haul the sofa and dresser out so I could get in there and clean. We did that on a Saturday, so they were sitting out all weekend until I was able to get to them on a Monday. The bottom of the sofa had a storage area for blankets, but it was all jammed with leaves and acorns and rat commas. We couldn't even open the dresser.

I started cleaning out the place; moving the few boxes and other stuff. I kept finding these weird looking spiders, but not being too freaked out by spiders I just squished them and moved on. Then DH comes in and sees me squish one and says; "Oh, that was a fiddle-back, otherwise known as a brown recluse." Great! Talk about the heebee jeebees. The place is crawling with them. I dreamed about them all night that night. Ick.

On Monday afternoon we took the old sofa and dresser out to the calf pasture for burning and burial, since they are way beyond repair; just soaked with rat urine...etc. But first DH thought that there might be something worth saving in the dresser drawers, so he gets the crow bar and pries them open one at a time. The first three are just CRAMMED with acorns and fluff from the sofa as well as tons of rat commas. Then we go to the fourth drawer and suddenly DH hops up yelling; "There he goes, there he goes!" And there went the hugest rat I have ever seen; he was as big as Matilda the kitten, at least as long, including his tail. DH said it was about a foot including the tail.

Well, DH is never one to suffer vermin to live so he just hurls the drawer at the rat; acorns, fluff and rat commas flying all over. Darn! He misses. So frantically he looks around for something, he grabs a large dead branch from the ground and the chase is on; around and around in a circle of maybe 20 yards. The poor rat is hopping and scrambling in unfamiliar territory, going in circles in the tall weeds. Not to be outmaneuvered is my gallant husband, who is galloping and scrambling around after it, whacking around in the weeds with the branch. I am standing in one spot alternately covering my eyes and watching the spectacle, yelling; "Oh, the poor thing, eeeww, there he goes, get him, get him!" The sad ending finally came; victory for DH, who stood there puffing and steaming in the cold fall air.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cooking on the Dairy-Chapter One

This was going to be just one post, but I got bogged down with trying to tell everything all on one page, so I am going to make several posts out of my cooking stories. Here is the beginning:

When you are 36 and have been a never-married bachelorette for so long, you don’t really prepare the meals, they just kind of happen; soups, sandwiches, fruit, cereal and milk…etc. I rarely ever ate out, but at the same time I didn’t ever see the point of preparing full meals for myself either. Sometimes I would fix a casserole and freeze most of it to be taken for lunches at work, but for the most part I didn’t bother much in the cooking department. Also, for much of the 12 years I was in Portland, OR I didn’t live where I had access to my own kitchen, I either had to share with a bunch of others, or I only had a microwave and a stove top burner.
So when I got married back in the fall of ’04 I was pretty green in cooking to please myself, let alone someone else. I had visited my future in-laws and had been alarmed at the fancy things my future mother-in-law prepared; Cole slaw, deviled eggs, potato salad and Jell-O gelatin…Ha. When I found out I really was going to join the family I panicked and went frantically looking for recipes for such like as above. (Be advised; if you go on a panicked search of the web for recipes you will only find the weird stuff; deviled eggs with peanut butter, Cole slaw with pineapple…no plain simple everyday food.) Now my mom had fixed ‘tater salad quite often, but when I was a kid I never paid much attention to it. Living on my own I never bothered with it. As for Cole slaw and deviled eggs, my mom never bothered to fix them because we didn’t like them much and would never eat them. So. I did have a friend give me a recipe for the tater salad and deviled eggs, however the Cole slaw I had to figure out on my own. I also absolutely hated (still do) gelatin of any sort, but this is one of my husband’s favorite desserts; strawberry gelatin with bananas.

Not long after we were married I got the notion to fix him some of this concoction, but to make it fancy in a gelatin mold. So I got out the box of gelatin and gave the instructions the once over. Comfortably sure this was going to be a piece of cake, as it were, I boiled ¾ cup of water, mixed the powder gunk in and poured it into the mold. It didn’t look like it was going to make that much so I made another box of it and poured that into the mold as well. Hmmm… Even THAT didn’t look sufficient, but oh well, I just chucked it into the fridge to set anyway. I didn’t have any bananas at the time; I guess I thought he ought to be happy to be getting any of this nasty stuff from me at all. Well, after a reasonable amount of time I checked the progress of my goop in the fridge. Hmmm, it had a really rubbery consistency-like, close to like one of those clear rubber bouncy balls you find in a toy store. The box said to dip in warm water to loosen from the mold. Dutifully I dipped, but one dip didn’t seem to help this Rubbermaid look-alike loosen up. So I just left it for a moment and went and re-read the box. OHHHHHH!!! HA! HA! It helps to fully read the complete instructions! I needed lots more water. Oh, well. I turn back to my gelatin in the warm water….it isn’t gelled any more, it’s melted and watery with just a little island floating in the liquid! Double ha ha! So I just poured more water in it and stuck it back in the fridge. In the end, since I couldn’t get as much water as was needed for 2 boxes of the stuff in the mold, but after so much bother I went ahead and put it back in the fridge to set up again. It turned out really rubbery still, but edible. And my husband, being the good guy that he is, ate it anyway.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hot Diggity!! An Extra Fifty Minutes!!

For the past 26 years; even before my husband started the dairy, he has driven the school bus for the local school district. Yesterday he officially retired. This will mean many things for us, but uppermost on my mind is that we get to sleep in an extra 50 minutes in the mornings.

You see, in order to get the little kiddies to school on time he had to do the milking pretty early. For the past 26 years he has been eating his cornflakes at around 3:15 AM every morning on school days! When I came on the scene about 3 years ago the concept of a 2:55 AM arising was daunting. But I eventually adjusted; however groggy I was during the day. I take the occasional nap, but I never know when he might pop in and have me do something; oh, like drive the tractor to tow him on his motorcycle to get it going, or chase a wayward calf or whatever. There are no end of surprise chores on a dairy.

On the weekends, during school vacations and over the summer he still prefers to get done early with the milking and be able to get on with other things, so we still get up pretty early: 3:45 AM. But it is incredible the difference that 50 minutes makes, I am not half as tired and I don't really feel the need for long naps.

So, I am celebrating an extra 50 minutes of sleep; yes, sleeping in until 3:45 AM is a welcome luxury. The kids won't miss him for too long (so he says) and we won't be zombies during the day.

Hot diggity!!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Pregnant on the Dairy

(First off...thank you to everyone who has visited and commented. I appreciate it so much. Someone asked for more about the baby and DH. I will start with the beginning of baby and go from there...ha. You will get some of DH in the story. Usually I write these first in Word and go back and edit, but I am just going to put this in off the top of my head and maybe edit later. Here goes...)

The whole thing began with DH asking me a question: "Had any deep thoughts lately?" I told him we had best be thinking about whether we wanted to have a baby or not because the biological clock was ticking pretty loudly. This threw him for a loop. See, he was 47 at the time and I was 37. We had only been married for just over a year and THAT was a huge leap for both of us since we neither had been married before. At age 44 his sister was the youngest in his family and so he had no exposure to babies and their ilk. He wasn't sure what to say. But suffice it to say and to make a long story short...the deed was done and I found out I was pregnant back in early summer of '06.

I had never connected the dots between pregnancy and living on a dairy, but it wasn't long before the whole picture presented itself! It was early one morning when I was doing chores that it hit; hard! A cow back in the holding corral did a wee-wee. The smell was so strong that suddenly I found myself bent over holding onto a tree and hurling up my toenails. It only got worse from there. If you have ever visited a dairy you know that cows do much worse than pee. My husband got so he knew what was going on when he heard the barn door slamming. It was a wonder I didn't kill that tree. But maybe that's why it had such a great acorn harvest the next fall.

For the 1st 5 months of the pregnancy I was so nauseous that any strong smell would set me off. Just the smell of the fresh milk as I filled the bottles would gag me. Calf poo, fresh mown grass, warm fresh milk, the stupid skunk some stupid heifer decided to chase, the algae smell from the ponds...all the things I never thought about before, it's a good thing our dairy is so wooded. And whoever called it "morning sickness" really missed it by a mile. For me it was 24 hours a day. I had to leave my window shut at night because the wind would blow in some of the nastier dairy perfumes. Even then sometimes I'd roll over in bed at 11 PM and have to run to the restroom to hurl.

My husband was a never ending source of fun. Keep in mind he was totally new to any of this pregnancy or baby stuff. I didn't really get that big, but one of his comments was: "It's hard trying to keep pants up on a ball isn't it?" *sigh* He was always comparing cows and humans, too. Like: "Why is it you never see cows out hurling behind trees and bushes?" Dunno, that's a good question. I wanted to know that one myself. They seem to have an easy time of it.

That nine months seemed to last forever. Most of my friends had their first babies 2 to 3 weeks early; not me. I tried to prolong the discomfort for as long as possible. Finally I had to be induced. Miss Ellen came along in Feb of 07.

She was worth it all.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

More of What I Have Learned on the Dairy

As the years go on I keep learning new things here; not all of it has to do with bovines.
Here are a few more things. I will keep you posted as other things come up.

1) Cows can walk up stairs.
2) With the right motivation cows can walk backwards down stairs as well.
3) A pack rat is a very large beastie; close to the size of a squirrel.
4) An agitated pack rat running straight at you takes on the dimensions of a VW Bug.
5) A 24 hour old calf can outrun a 40 something year old male and leave him in the dust.
6) A 24 hour old calf can contain a lot more poo than you would think.
7) A 24 hour old calf is already an expert at sharing its poo; and is very generous at spreading it around.
8) Training a calf to take a bottle is a task to be dreaded.
9) A bull is an obnoxious, ornery, ungrateful, unpredictable, dangerous (...etc) wretch.
10) No matter how you shout, wave your arms, rev your 4-wheeler and otherwise make a fool of yourself in public, a bull in the middle of the highway will not move.