Friday, November 30, 2012

Still eating turkey

I think I can say raising turkeys this year was a success, even though we did lose some to predators. 

After butchering on the weekend before Thanksgiving we kept a very large turkey (18-20 lbs?) out for our holiday meal.  A meal for just the 2 of us because Adam was staying in the Outer Banks for Thanksgiving.  On Wednesday some friends invited us to join them in their feast so we wouldn't be alone.  Honestly, I don't think I begged or laid on a sob story.  Did I, Phyllis and Tim?  We had a great time celebrating with 2 other families.  It was much more festive than just the 2 of us at home.  The hosts also have a donkey, goats, chickens, ducks and a garden so we share many interests.  Next we're going to turn them on to pigs.  I don't think it's going to take much coaxing.

We decided to cook up our turkey the day before Thanksgiving, have some that night and then freeze some.  It was delicious.  Of course we cooked up the bones to make soup and we also kept some in the refrigerator to make turkey sandwiches.  

Here it is 8 days post Thanksgiving and we're still eating Turkey.  I think we had several different variations of turkey soup 4 nights in a row and also for lunch.  We had a turkey noodle casserole and turkey pot pie, which we're going to finish up tonight.  I'm not tired of it and James is too polite to tell me he's had enough.  Does everyone do this?  I guess it depends on how much you like turkey and how creative you can be with it.   The turkey pot pie was James' idea.  I was beginning to run out of ideas.  I guess we can still do a turkey stir-fry.

It reminds me of summer when zucchini or green beans are the vegetable-of-the-month.  You find many ways to cook it and eat it fresh for as long as you can. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mac is a good sport

Our property is surrounded on three sides by water - The James River and Elk Creek.  It doesn't keep dogs home but none of the other animals seem to want to cross the water.  That is, until today.  I put a halter and lead on Mac and walked him down to the creek.  I crossed - he crossed.  He hardly blinked an eye.  We walked over rocks, stepped over logs and still he kept going.  Every now and then I had to coax him but eventually he'd do it.  We walked down to the river.  He seemed very interested in it.  He was even more interested in some of the really green grass growing along the river.   I can't wait till summer to see if I can get him to walk waist deep in it with me on his back.  I was so proud of him. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Billy in a bind

This is Cooper cooped up under the chicken coop. 
I knew he was stuck when he didn't come out to eat with the others.  He was shivering a little too but I don't know what that was about.  At 11:00 he was still there so I asked James to help get him out.  He just couldn't get over that 4 inch board so James had to dig the dirt from the front of it to remove the screws so the board could come off. 

Cooper crawled out very easily after that.  We left the board off.  I saw him under there a short while later chasing Tila who is in heat.  He's a doofus.  A sweet but stinky doofus.

Mac, James and I went on our first trail ride on Sunday.  I didn't want to go alone so James went with me.  I rode out and James rode him back.  Mac picked up the pace a lot on the way back so James got a faster ride.  I was pleased with how well he did.  I won't ride in the woods any day but Sunday now because it's hunting season. 

About a month ago Adam took a ride too but not on Mac.

 His ride was also pretty fast.  This picture makes me laugh.  I love the way Adam has his arm out like he's riding a bucking bronco.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

They're gone

The scene of the crime.

The bodies.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My wine cellar

These are my aging wines at different stages.
That's the equivalent of about 150 bottles of wine. 

The very dark ones are wineberry.  They're about ready to be bottled.  The pinkish ones are beet and strawberry.   The beet wine has a lot of clearing to do yet and will end up as dark as the wineberry when it's done.

Now this bright orange juice looking one is new to me.  It's sweet potato wine.  It's made with sweet potatoes and raisins.  James and I dug up LOTS of sweet potatoes so I thought I should try a new wine.  It's going to take a long time to clear.  Look at the sediment in the bottom of this jug already.
I have high hopes for this wine believe-it-or-not.  When I syphoned it from the primary fermentor to the secondary it actually tasted good.  I read it's best to age this wine at least 6 months but even better to age for a year. 

So far the biggest hit year after year is the beet wine.  Shocking!   It's very earthy and it seems like everyone who tastes it is surpised - in a good way.  The wineberry comes in second. 

A note on that moldy charcoal-added cheese I blogged about recently:  It has aged to taste like blue cheese and I really like it.  Tonight we had grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches using that blue(ish) tasting cheese and it was awesome. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Footie Pajamas

This is a pretty cute young family wearing their hoodie footie pajamas.
Don't you think we could be the older folks' ad for footie pjs?
We need to get some pjs like this for Lex.

note to my friend Emily:  You know you love them.  You're going to go out and buy some, aren't you?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Canned air and gas logs

It seems like every year I struggle to light the gas logs (any gas logs) for the first time after 3 seasons of rest.  I can never get the pilot to stay lit.  Last year someone told me to vacuum everything real well.  It worked.  Last year, that is.  This year I vacuumed and vacuumed to no avail.  The pilot would go out as soon as I released the button.  The flame was blue and yellow also, not just blue as I knew it was supposed to be.  So I went to my good friend, Google, to get help. 

There are forums for just about every topic you can think of and that's where I found the solution to my problem.   The first person suggested I needed a new thermocouple.   I wanted another answer so I read further.  Someone else said, "don't waste your money, try this first".   Aha, the answer I wanted.   Something simple.

About 2 inches behind where the spark comes out there's a small hole.  I sprayed the canned air into this hole.  Voila!  We have fire.  We also had a burner that wasn't working on our gas stove and the canned air fixed it right up too.

Unfortunately the canned air can't help us with another problem we're now having.   We have no water.  Our well pump must have died.  Wouldn't you know it waited to die until Friday after 5 PM.  Nothing ever dies on a weekday, does it?  We're lucky we have another well in the field where the pigs and donkeys are.  We've been filling buckets of water until we're back in service.  If we need showers we can always go to our cabin 4 miles away.  Who needs a shower, right?    I know many people in NJ and NY are without power and this doesn't even compare to what they're going through.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Soft Pretzels

I made these today.
There are only 3 left out of 12 and I don't think they'll be here tomorrow morning.  My friend, Layla, was double fisting them so I think I got her approval.
Here's the recipe I followed. The only changes I made are I used real maple syrup instead of malt syrup.  All the ingredients are in ounces so I used my scale to weigh everything but here are a few conversions for you in case you don't want to weigh or convert by Googling.  I hope they're accurate.  I measured by weight not volume so I don't know if my numbers match the conversions by Googling.
2 oz of butter =  4 Tbl.
11.5 oz water =  not quite 1.5 cups.  A glass measuring cup has the ounces on it.
3/4 oz yeast = 7 1/2 tsp.  I measured it out as 2 Tbl. on my scale so these numbers don't match.
1/2 oz maple syrup.   I used my glass measuring cup for this measurement
22 oz flour = 4.91 cups.  I used bread flour and when I weighed it it was more like 4 3/4 cups.

The recipe tells you to form the pretzels and put them in the freezer.  It doesn't tell you whether to let them rise any first.  I didn't,  but this second batch I'm going to let them rise a little before putting them in the freezer and see if they're puffier when they're done.  I was happy with them the first time but I want to experiment a little.  Here's what they looked like when they came out of the freezer.

In the next picture I have 3 on the right that have been boiled to compare to the frozen ones on the left.

I used coarse sea salt for the topping and it was great.  I baked them about 22 minutes instead of the 15.