Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Decadent Chocolate Mocha Pudding

In the past week, I've watched the sun rise and set...all from the back end of a cow. I thought with the birth of Maggie Moo, my days facing south were over. But, since the whole purpose of a having a Jersey was for the liquid white gold she would produce, I've spent more time hunched over a cow (and under) than standing upright.

While researching "how to milk" articles, I stumbled across one common statement. Cow's like to be milked.

Sure they do.

Someone forgot to inform Tilly of this little known-only-to-delusional-farmers-fact.

I don't know if Tilly enjoys the slurping sound of a metal machine or not, but I know that she does not enjoy standing in a stanchion. She does not enjoy having her udders washed, even though the water is warm, nor does she like the towel buffing I give her after her mini-bath. The whole process tends to loosen Tilly's bowels and make our usually mild mannered milk cow a little testy. And there never seems to be enough molasses covered grain to soften her mood or stop up her back end.

So, why do I do this twice a day?

Two words. Pud-ding. With all the milk we've been getting, I've only had one thing on my mind. Pudding. And because I'm a sleep-deprived milk-maid with a bruised and slightly smelly ego, it must be chocolate with a coffee twist.

And that is why I'll be watching the sun rise again tomorrow.

From the underside of a somewhat cranky cow.

~Chocolate Pudding~

~The players~
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tb. cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half & half, or light cream
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I like Trader Joe's 70%)
1 Tb. instant espresso powder
pinch of salt
1 Tb. pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. They won't whisk smoothly, but that's okay.

Combine the milk, cream or half & half, chocolate, espresso powder, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the chocolate melts. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture in the egg mixture, whisking constantly. (You may need a little help here.)

Pour back into the saucepan and place back on medium heat. Continue to whisk until the lumps are gone. Cook until thick, 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and pour back into bowl, or if you like, individual dessert cups/ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu Monday~9/24

It's that time of year again. You know the one. When everything is right with the world. Okay, that might be stretchin' it a bit, but all is right in my world. The leaves are starting to change, the temperatures are less than sweltering, and I have soup on the brain.

Not literally. Although, there are times...

Now that Tilly has her own milk assembly line (of one), I'm thinking chowders. And cheese. And sour cream. And pudding.

Morning milk

Lots of pudding.

Here's what else is cookin' this week...

Thai Cashew Chicken, Jasmine Rice, Sweet & Sour Coleslaw (recipe coming)
Potato Corn Chowder, Kefir Cornbread (new)
Salmon Patties, Macaroni & Cheese, Garlicky Green Beans
Chickpea Fritters, Meatloaf, Garden Salad with Bleu Cheese Dressing
Venison Steak, Mashed Potatoes with Milk Gravy, Peas
Lunches: Leftovers, Meatloaf Sandwiches, Nachos
And pudding.
Maybe Definitely twice.☺
This post is linked to Menu Mondays at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September Busyness

Earlier in the week, I shared a couple of pictures of my canned goods pantry. Those were only a partial picture of the foods we've put up. The jars that didn't fit in the cupboards are now stacked all over the garage.

Where the exercise equipment is supposed to be.

But it's not, because it's canning season.

Ya. That's it.

 Canning isn't the only thing that's been happening around here though.

After a chilly couple of nights, I decided to make a mini hoop-house to protect my pepper plants. How difficult could it be? After all, Pinterest makes it looks so easy. With some PVC pipe, painter's plastic, and clamps in hand, I was ready to go. 

Note to self: When erecting a structure on a hill, make the necessary adjustments before putting the plastic on.

Better yet, make the adjustments before allowing the Mister to see it.

His to-do list just got longer.☺

We finished butchering the last half of our 57 meat chickens. My Mister wants you to know that he can remove the neck, and eviscerate an entire chicken in 1 minute, 34 seconds.

Because everything is a competition when there are 6 males in charge of the butchering.

Our birds averaged out around 7.5 lbs.

Which is about 1.5 lbs. more than the crock pot can handle.

I finished processing the feet for stock. Do you know how many feet come from 26 chickens?

Like, a million. Or 52. Somewhere around there. Honestly, I lost track after 3.
After hand-milking Tilly for a few days, the Mister and I decided that we weren't cut out for hand-milking. (Really, we're not cut out for getting slapped in the face every 20 seconds with a tail that has the ability to scalp someone who isn't paying attention.) So we scoured the country until we found a machine. Thankfully, we found it in the next county. You know, with gas prices being what they are and all.
Milk cows don't really care how they get milked, they're just in it for the grain.

Of course, we're only in it for the milk, so it's a fair trade.

It seems we're not the only ones who've been busy. After returning from her big adventures in the city, Ethel was ready to settle down and start a family.
We're still unsure if Bourbon Red Fred is the baby daddy though.
All Emily knows is that farming...
...is mighty hard work.☺

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu Monday~9/16

Apparently, it's Monday. Night, to be precise. And I'm just now figuring out our meal plan for the week. Not that we would've starved...

This year's bounty. The rows are 4 jars deep.

The bottom half is left over from last year, but the top is all new.
...but my family does tend to panic a little.

My daughters and I have canned well over 1,000 jars of fruit, veggies, jams, stocks, and pickles. Even though the end of canning season is in sight, we still have green beans, corn, applesauce and butter, and pumpkin butter to can. And maybe some soups. And chickens. And venison. And...

I may need an intervention.

Until then, here's what's cookin' this week...

Cinnamon Spice Granola, Greek yogurt
Cinnamon Spice Granola, Greek yogurt
Cold Chicken Satay Noodle Salad (carried over from last week)
Gluten-free Raspberry Lime Muffins (new), Kefir Fruit Smoothies
Black Bean Quesadillas (corn tortillas, pepper jack cheese, black beans, Anaheim chiles)
Sandwiches (to be decided later), tortilla chips, lacto-fermented salsa
Crockpot Chinese Pepper Steak, brown rice, salad
Cinnamon Spice Granola, Greek yogurt
Toasted cheese sandwiches, sliced apples
Chickpea Fritters, meatloaf, green salad with Kefir Ranch Dressing
GF Banana Walnut Muffins, Kefir Fruit Smoothies
leftover meatloaf sandwiches on Bob's Redmill GF Hearty Whole Grain Bread
Red Lentil Coconut Soup, Gluten free Naan Bread (new)
Potato Brunch Bake, Gluten Free Blueberry/Lemon Muffins
Homemade Gluten Free Pizza

Thursday, September 13, 2012

You Should Know...#5~Stupidity in the Store

I hate town. Seriously. I know that town is good for some things, like, coffee and toilet paper, but if I could figure out a way to manufacture my own, I'd never leave the farm. After spending an afternoon dealing with traffic and ignorance, I needed to rant a little.

For the record, pigs are very good listeners. Especially if they are snacking on expired yogurt.

You know those moments where someone says something stupid and the only comeback you can come up with happens 3 hours after the incident? Well, I had several of those. On the same day.

Here's what I think you should know that I would've said...

...had I thought of them sooner...

1. "Why would anyone pay $4/lb for organic when the same apples over there are only $.99/lb.?"

My organic $4/lb. apples are less expensive than your venti Caramel Frappuccino and have the added bonus of not making me fat. Or diabetic. 

2. "You know, the store provides plastic bags for your produce. Then you won't have to worry about all the germs in your cart."

Because you coughing into your hand, then touching 3 different heads of lettuce before finding the 1 you wanted, wasn't gross enough? I'll take my chances with the cart.

3. "Would you like paper or plastic?"

What part of those 10 reusable grocery bags that I hauled in do you not understand?

4. "Oh you should taste the red ones." (I think I must have scowled at her before she continued.) "They expect people to taste the grapes before they buy them. Why else would they not seal the bags?"

Stupid woman. That is called stealing. In every country. And every store.

5. "My son has been in detention twice already. I just don't know what his problem is!"

Try looking in your cart. I think you could eliminate the problem by putting the Capt'n Crunch, and Frosted Flakes back onto the shelf. Maybe that big jug of chocolate milk will follow once it loses its friends...

6. "I don't eat fat."

Sweetheart, those Oreos aren't carrots. Neither is the Haggen Das.

7. "...and then he told me if I wasn't willing to compromise on...."

Let me guess. You're having a hard time sharing the space in the bed. Or the couch. Because you sure as heck aren't sharing the aisle with anyone else.

8. "Making my own laundry soap is just too @!#$#% expensive! And there's never any coupons for those ingredients."

Yet you just put 2 large bottles of Tide in your cart, for a total of $34. Oh, sorry, I forgot you had a $.50 off coupon. That made it much better. Smart thinking.

9. "Sorry. I didn't know my coupons were for specific sizes."

No problem. I'll just wait while the courtesy clerk goes and grabs all 23 of the correct items for you. I've got nothing better to do. Really. I could stand here all day....

And my very favorite from my grocery trip...

10. "Cows don't eat grass, stupid." (Not said to me, but her friend.)

This is from the generation that is going to be taking care of me in my old age.

I won't even mention the car full of teenage boys who ran a stop sign, causing me to slam on my brakes and cry out, "Sweet Jesus, make it quick!"

Those boys were so friendly, they gave me a one-finger wave out all 4 of their windows.

Maybe there is still hope for mankind after all...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Menu Plan 9/9/12

We've been so busy lately that I've spent more time staring into the freezer than actually preparing meals. Maybe it's because I've been furiously canning like a crazed lunatic, afraid the pantry police will find my cupboards half empty and issue a citation for being a bad winter prepper. Or maybe it's because I'm as sleep deprived as a new mother, even though I'm not the one having to do the middle of the night (or afternoon) feedings. (Because I'm canning. I'm even dreaming of tropical vacations where the canner comes with the room. And the hotel supplies complimentary jars. Which are located right next to the fruit bowl. Is it winter yet?)

Making sure that Maggie Moo was getting her colostrum. She couldn't seem to locate the feeding end of her mama.
Or maybe it's because there are 13 mouths to feed and every recipe has to be tripled now. Which means that I have to pull out my less than stellar math skills and do some figurin' before anyone can count on dinner. I'm so bad at figurin' that my fall-back meal last week was grilled hamburgers. And since I didn't have enough time to grill them all the way through, I called it steak tar tar and served dinner on glass plates instead of paper.
I need a vacation.
Without complimentary canners and jars. 
Now that the canning season is coming to an end, everyone has settled in, and Maggie Moo has figured out which end to nurse from, maybe, just maybe, we can get back to normal around here.
Just as soon as I figure out what normal really looks like.☺

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Macaroni & Cheese, deer steak, corn on the cob
P.B. & J's, gf pretzels, apples
Venison Stew, gf Hearty Whole Grain Bread (Thank you Susan & Bob's Redmill!!)
gf Zucchini Bread, Kefir Fruit Smoothies
Layered bean dip (beans, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, olives, salsa, sour cream), tortillas, apples
Cheesy Polenta, Salmon Patties, baked acorn squash
Simple Soaked Oatmeal with peaches
tuna wraps, apples
Teriyaki Chicken, jasmine rice, Coleslaw (new)
Keifer Fruit Smoothies, popcorn
Taco Salad
egg salad sandwiches, fruit
 Chicken Satay Noodle Salad (I'm using almond butter/nuts and brown rice noodles), Broccoli Salad
Ham & Swiss Omelette's
hot dogs (over the fire), lacto-fermented sauerkraut, S'mores
grilled hamburgers, Salmon Dip (I'll share the recipe this week!), chips 

This post is linked to Menu Mondays at Organized Junkie.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Birth Story...or, It's a....!!!!

**Warning: This post contains graphic photos of a cow labor/delivery. Please read at your own discretion.**
After 2 missed due dates, numerous trips to the barn, more pictures (for comparison) of cow butt than a dairy journal, and multiple anxiety attacks a day, we have finally attained the rank of,
Our little heifer, Waltzing Matilda Mook, or Tilly-mook to her friends, became a mama on Friday. The day started out like any other. The Mister and I were sipping on our first cup of coffee when he saw a flash of gray bolt across the field. The chickens & turkeys were scratching around, seemingly undisturbed by the predator lurking in the tall grass. But he wasn't there for them.
That bold coyote was there for Tilly. He may have been wily enough to get close to her, but he was no match for the 7mm.
After losing a calf to a cougar a couple of years ago, we weren't going to take any chances. And that coyote was up to no good. In the broad daylight. In our field. Not 20 feet from our chickens. Whom he had no interest in. At all.
We got Tilly up in the barn and quickly rearranged the cattle panels into a circular corral. We then checked her progress.
Everything was soft and squishy. And gushy. Really, really gushy.
Tilly's teets were leaking heavily at this point. Later, the milk was coming out in a constant stream.
Tilly alternated between walking and laying for over an hour. Then her water broke.


The Waiting Room~Somebody really should have popped popcorn.

Front hooves, but no nose.
After seeing the hooves disappear back up inside Tilly, we knew she was in trouble.
Too slippery!

Some quick thinking, paper towels, and a well-placed back against the stanchions,

my hero Mister was able to finish what Tilly had started.
Tilly knew exactly what to do.

I think she may win Mother of the Year.
Welcome to the world Maggie Moo.
I think she's going to fit in real well, don't you?☺

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spiced Pickled Beets

To say that I love pickled beets would be an understatement. I could devour an entire jar by myself and not feel an ounce of guilt for those that missed out.

I know this, because I have. Oops.

This recipe is from my Mister's grandmother, who passed along the recipe to me shortly before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Getting a recipe from Grandma Barbara was more than just a score for the recipe book.

It meant that she liked you.

~Spiced Pickled Beets~
~The Players~
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground allspice
fresh beets, greens removed
Wash the beets. Place in large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook until beets are soft, but not mushy. Remove from stove and place beets in sink full of iced water to remove skins.
Heather & Mandie at the end of peeling 25#'s of beets~I'm thinking about getting another 25#'s just for Heather!☺
 In a separate pot, mix together the sugar, water, vinegar, and spices. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until ready to use.
Cut large beets in half, then quarter. Small beets can remain whole or be halved. Place beets in wide mouth jars. Pour hot brine over beets (leave an inch of headspace) and use a butter knife to remove air bubbles. Add more brine if necessary to cover beets. Wipe rims and place 2-piece canning lid/ring on jars.
Process in hot water bath canner; 20 minutes for pints, 30 minutes for quarts. 
Remove from canner and allow to cool for 12 hours before removing rings and storing.

This post is linked to Laura Williams' Musings: Carnival of Home Preserving.