Monthly Archives: February 2010

This Will Take Off!!

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I just wanted to touch base on a small plant growing on our farm. It was planted summer before last. When we were sold the plant, the nurseryman warned us to plant it someplace away from other things for it would take off.

This the culprit capable of growing awry. We placed it next to the property line adjacent to encrouching neighbors. This particular plant creates a handy privacy shield.

This is a private joke between Corvette Man and myself – better be careful because that will take off!
We see this silly plant every day as we enter the farm-it is planted near the gate.

Can you see the green plant amidst the winter brown? It is bamboo.

Here it is a little closer.

It dubiously flourishing – barely! It certainly does provide us with a modicum of humor on those days we need to find something to chuckle about.

Happy chuckles! My latest slice.

Love, Jeannene

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Bread-The Staple of Life

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I have always wanted to do a tutorial of how to make bread. It is my most favorite food to eat and as much I enjoy the munching, I enjoy making it just as much. My mother taught me to make bread when I was ten years old. I loved the physical challenge of kneading the dough and the satisfaction of the final product. I was hooked and knew I was a country girl deep down in my soul from that moment on.

To many people yeast is a beast to be feared. Not so my friend. Yeast is your friend and necessary in the construction of bread.

I make my bread with whole grain. We must learn to eat healthy in this land and my family is living proof that this goal is an accomplishable. My kids seek out health foods. I use a white whole wheat flour that gives the bread a smooth texture instead of the rough, grainy feel of regular whole wheat. Whatever your choice, have fun.

The recipe I am using is a Challah recipe I found in a kosher cook book years ago and have adapted to my particular style of baking. It is easy and delivers a moist, flavorful loaf of bread.

Place 1 1/2 cups hot tap water into a bowl (use my Kitchen Aid mixer so I put it directly into the bowl).

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast to the water and stir into water.

Add 1/2 cup of honey to the yeast.

Mix the honey into the yeast mixture and let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast begins to froth. This activates the yeast so it is ready to work when the flour is added.

Can you see the bubbles?

Now add to the mixture 1/2cup of canola oil.

And then add a 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.

Next you need three eggs. Break these into a bowl, the first egg I opened was a bloody egg! This was NOT one of my home grown eggs, but one from the store. In thirty years I have never had a bloody egg.

Now we add 61/2 cups of flour. I mix four cups in by hand and add the rest with the mixer.

The dough should be tacky to the touch.

Now you must be patient and allow the dough to rise in warm place for an hour or two. Cover it with a towel to keep it from drying out. At the end of two hours it should look like this.

I think this needs to rise some, but…
Now punch the dough with your fist and allow it to rise once more.

Here it is after the second rising.

Take it out of the bowl and divide the dough in two.

The dough now just needs to be formed into a loaf. This is accomplished by flattening the mound and then folding it into thirds.

Use the ball of your hands to mold it into a loaf shape.

Grease two bread tins and place the dough in the bottom of the tins. These tins once belonged to my grandmother. I use them and think of her affectionately every time.

Turn the oven on to warm to 350 degrees and allow this to rise to the top of the pan.

Or let it rise over the top of the pan. Then bake for 30 mins.

Let it cool some and slice into it. We eat half the loaf before it is even cools.

Enjoy this little slice.

Love,
Jeannene

Security

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I am so ashamed it has been since Saturday that I last wrote on this blog. Trust me, it isn’t for a lack of anything to say for I assure you, there are plenty of things to talk about. It seems I am at a loss for time. I have been working on the WIP in an attempt to make some headway through the last third of the story. With diligence it will happen.

I worked this week end at my regular job. That meant I arose a 3:50 in the morning while my family snoozed away and I prepared my lunch and dressed and was out of the house by 4:30. Of course I didn’t leave the farm without my escort by Corvette Man. Even on the week end my dear husband gets up with me. That wasn’t the best part of the story. On both days I was greeted with a prepared meal as I walked in the door. Saturday Corvette Man found asparagus in the grocery store and steamed it to perfection. (And here I think I was the one to rediscover the kitchen this past winter.) Sunday the dear man fried chicken breasts and prepared broccoli to perfection(I know I just used this word, but there is no other way to describe the stalks of cooked broccoli tender yet not over cooked – I can’t even get them this way.) There is no other way to show a woman she is appreciated than to prepare a meal for her and make her relax after the meal is consumed. I was made to feel like a queen.  Thank you Corvette Man and kids.

I was asked specifically not to post about this, but this is a small forum and I know he reads all my blogs and I just can’t help myself. Help me! Help me!

As a woman, the most important thing in my life is the sense of security and stability in my life. When the Lord designed us, he designed man to provide those items to his counterpart. For this woman, security comes in the form of warmth and comfort. That most closely translates to WOOD.

Our voluminous wood pile has diminished its girth in our efforts to remain warm and comfortable through this unusually cold and wintery winter.

 
This is the whole of our two ricks of wood.  That’s our momma cat on top there.
Armed with the knowledge of a week of cold weather and faced with the dwindling heat source, Corvette Man drove our big truck to work to fetch a load of wood. He did it knowing I would be home today and I would desperately need to stay warm.
 

He is wonderful and thoughtful and makes me feel like the luckiest women on the planet. I am warm and content and you know what that means….

Love as always,

Jeannene

One of My Favorite Things

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I am only spending the briefest of moments here tonight. I am actually writing on my WIP (writer’s slang for work in progress), but I have some little ditty I wanted to mention so I will make myself write about it.

Most people who know me know I am a health fanatic. I don’t buy package foods and shop only on the outer edge of any grocery store, selecting fresh foods, meats and dairy and avoiding the additive laden garbage the food industry hopes to foist on an unsuspecting public. Enough of my soap box.

When I bake, which I do frequently. I prefer to use whole grains in my breads and cakes and cookies. Yes it IS possible to make a cake with a whole wheat flour! I discovered a wonderful brand of flour that provides all the benefits of nutrition while maintaining a light texture in the baked goods – it also tastes fantastic. This is it…

 
This a WHITE whole wheat. White wheat makes a lighter, finer weight flour than red wheat which will in turn give a fine texture to bread while providing all the nutrition of a whole grain.  There you have it. The best of both worlds. Now you do know white flour is over processed and not nutritionally sound. 
Enough of my soap box.
Kroger sells this brand. King Arthur also has a website and they will ship products to your door. www.kingarthurflour.com. (I should get credit for the free ads.) They sell all sorts of wonder grains and things.
Just wanted to share this little piece with you. I hope to share how I use it later.
Love,
Jeannene

Hanging Around

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I was at home today. I love being at home. Home restores me, rejuvenates me, it infuses me with new life. I use my time to catch up on house cleaning, laundry and cooking. Cleaning and laundry are necessities, but cooking is a joy. It might stem from the fact I enjoy eating that cooking draws me into the kitchen so often, but creating culinary delights my family enjoys gives me a sense of accomplishment. Today I do not intend to go to the kitchen, though. Another conundrum presented itself this morning as I went about my drudgery.

I have a beautiful state of the art, matched set Maytag washer and dryer. I love Maytag products. They work well and hardly ever break down. There is something wrong with the programming on my dryer. The thing beeps incessantly and, at times, it will not turn on when requested. This morning it refused to start. I was sad. There were three loads of wet clothes and towels awaiting an opportunity to have the moisture beat from their fibers. After three hours of making the trip into the laundry room and pushing the button only to have…nothing happen, I conceded the issue and decided to resort to my only other alternative. I must preface that this alternative is my first choice in warm weather, but at forty degrees it leaves something to be desired.

I resorted to the clothes line.

 
Notice the cat in the foreground. There were more cats when I was hanging.
I love the clothesline in the spring and summer. Corvette Man and our sons installed this beautiful piece of art (I am not kidding either) shortly after our home was erected. He knows how much joy I take in standing in the sun, even if it means hanging clothes. Today they dried quickly because a south wind blew at a fair clip. 
After they were fresh and crisp, the dryer decided to start.
All in all, it was a good day and this clothes line truly is a treasured piece of heaven.
Love,
Jeannene

Our Other Best Friend

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I didn’t write last night due to extenuating circumstances. When I arrived at our house yesterday afternoon the temperature inside was just plain frigid. We are a small barn style construction without central heat or air. That translates to “light a fire in the stove or light the kerosene heater if warmth is desired”. Thank the Lord we had enough kerosene in our heater to lend some warmth to the house until I managed to get the fire going.

This is a staunch piece of heaven.

Yesterday’s temperatures surprised me, and the other half of Arkansas. A north wind barreled down on us preventing any warming beyond a paltry34 degrees. Even the puddles of water from the day before remained frozen completely-all the water in the puddle was ice. The chickens cowered on the front porch, its southern exposure protecting them from the northern on slaught, and the cats poofed themselves into fur balls to maintain body heat. The horses of course turned their rears to the frigid blast and remained in place (they are my weather vanes).

So you can imagine what the inside of a house, albeit insulated, might feel like with all that cold blowing around it.

Thank the Lord for kerosene heaters because they lend instant heat as a remedy and they don’t falter in their endeavor. The heater we now have in service has the same original wick in it, going on three cold seasons. For us, that is incredible. I have three other heaters in the shed, all operational, but stored as stand-bys.(Some where in their history they failed me and a new purchase was required to fill the gap.)The heater in use now, though, is outstanding in its performance.

We warmed sufficiently to get a roaring fire burning in the wood stove. It burned warm, warm all night long.

I hope you all stay warm and well the remainder of the winter (and it just seems to be soooo longggg).

Love, Jeannene

At Home

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This has been a weekend.

The weather today was cold and dreary keeping us all in doors, not to mention half the house had the sniffles and is hardly in the mood to migrate too far from warmth and food. After a quick run for groceries, me and the kids took a short walk, and I do mean short. No sooner were out in the stand of oaks out back when it started to rain. I was not discouraged, though. I had to get out in it, even in the winter drear to take pictures. We weren’t alone in our trek. The cats joined us.

 
Can you even differentiate the cats from the tree? They blend in well with their surroundings.

The snow it melting,but winter still persists. I just wanted to take pictures and have something else to write about.  I like the way this camera will do close ups. I took some great shoots of the kids. They really are beautiful.

This is just a scraggly branch. It is only a practice shot,but I like the results.

I have packed a ton of tasks into these past two days and feel satisfied at all the results.  Today I made soup and bread and ended the day with homemade pizza – and it was good. My kids gave it an A+. They really feel loved after the effort.

 
I forgot to take a shot after it was cooked. Trust me it was delicious.
That’s it for today’s piece.
Love, Jeannene

My Love

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A few days ago Corvette Man turned to me and said, jokingly of course,

I need to get to the jewelry store.

I looked him square in the face. 

What for? I asked, knowing Corvette Man seldom bought jewelry for me.  I took care of that task myself.

Well, you know, for a diamond of course, he said.

I guffawed in his face. He didn’t take offense. He referred to a commercial he had just seen.

What do I need with a diamond? I asked.  I could think of ten different things I would rather have or need besides a shiny rock. (Kitchen stuff, horse stuff, kid stuff, play stuff – all kinds of stuff.)

Corvette Man laughed in return, knowing I wasn’t interested in such a bauble.

I returned a response, though. I could use a camera.

Corvette Man grinned  as he eyed me out of the corner of his eye.

We’ll go look this weekend.

Yesss.I said to myself.

Today my love took me looking (My intent was not to buy).  I did not intend to shop, but somehow we were sucked into the glamor of the whole thing.  I knew which camera I wanted and what I really felt would serve my purposes best and the salesman captured my attention so effectively we walked away with the camera I wanted and a better telephoto lens than expected (it was the one I really wanted). It is a Nikon D5000 – not the fanciest unit in the line, but for my limited abilities and needs, it will suffice beautifully.

The learning process is so fascinating and the possibilities are endless with this camera.  The picture quality is substantial and the need to photoshop the pictures is greatly reduced.

Thank you my love.  This really is a great week end. 

I love you.

Jeannene

Ramblings of a homesick mom

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I started a post last night as I wallowed in my hotel room awaiting an immenent snow fall, which never did arrive mind you, but something else distracted me and the post was all but forgotten. I assure you that would never have happened had I been in our home with my bustling family milling about and numerous distractions forcing me to keep my train of thought. The lesson being: solitude is not all it is cracked up to be.

Most of the evening was spent researching Texas history in the months after the Civil War. Albeit a rather dry subject for most, I found some interesting tidbits to use in the novel I and painstakingly working on. Now, hopefully, I can just write the story with the underpinning firmly entrenched in my brain. (Historicals require a bit more work than just writing.)

Being as I have been away from my family twice in one week, I am so grateful to have been home Wednesday. My absence on Monday seemed to propel my children in illness. One large pot of chicken soup and some mothering brought them back from the brink whatever dark sickness attempted to suck them in. They are well again. I really believe there is something about Moms taking care of families that truly sets the world right.

Cudos to ALL you moms out there. We do a seemingly thankless job at times,but for me I find so intrinsically rewarding. It is as if my very soul yearns to mother and care. Without my family for this outlet, I would shrivel up and fade away, or find some cause to champion. Did the Good Lord make me this way on purpose? Was it part of His design to instill these longings in me? Did he make me this way only to prevent my family from suffering (He is merciful you know.)? He either has a huge sense of humor or is tragically twisted. To make it worse, all the things in which I take my enjoyment – writing, cooking, horses, music… have no meaning without the context of my family. If it is not right with the family, then there is no joy in the extras.

Twisted. I thrive in the midst of the distractions. I missed sitting in the living room, the only place for my desk and computer, with the TV next to me and the wood stove warming me and Corvette Man requesting this or that and commenting on this or that, all as I work on my book or my blog. The practice required to maintain a train of thought in the midst of the varied stimulations aids in the creative process. I’m beginning to see the sense in all this seemingly chaotic order.

I guess to put it quite simply. I missed my litte piece of heaven. I can’t wait to get back home where I belong.

Love you all.

Jeannene

Home Again

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Finally!! I am back in our little house after being stranded in the big city after it was covered with four inches of that wet, white stuff ordinarily referred to as SNOW.

We aren’t supposed to get this much snow in Arkansas.

 
This is the road that runs by our house. 
I have never witnessed this much snow before  in all the time we have lived here.  We are in a wonderland.
Well Corvette Man drove me to work Monday and then I was stranded there in the weather. Obtaining a hotel room became necessary to provide comfort and warmth away from our own home.  Of course that meant the clothes on my back was all I had to wear and my face would appear at work the next morning in it raw and uncovered state – an occurrence I strive with avid veracity to prevent.  Needless to say, I survived the day, and none of my coworkers remarked on my state unmake-up.
The original plan was for me to remain in the city tonight, as the roads would likely be frozen over in the wee hours of the morning. When I discovered both my children are sick and the youngest is running a fever I freaked out a little.  No one is at home to cook and care for them! Now, they don’t starve, and Corvette Man takes good care of them,but… if they are sick they won’t have the energy to prepare nourishing, well healing food for themselves. That is my job. Mom’s don’t get sick.  They trudge onward through the onslaught of disease and fevers, through Kleenex’s and rumpled bed linens.  It is the mom who provides the pity and the solace required for healing. I had to be home. I pleaded with my sweet supervisor, who arranged for me to be off tomorrow.  I am in her debt, bless her.
Here is another beautiful view from the west side of our house.
 
We have six inches of snow at our farm.
I’m so happy to be home.  This is my slice for today.  I could write more,but I have to snuggle with Corvette Man and make up for lost time.
Love, Jeannene