Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I ordered day-old baby chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery!

Because I wanted to order some green egg layers we have to wait until June (cherry harvest time... ouch) for them to arrive.

But we are now the proud future owners of a little flock.

Let the coop building begin.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blackened Fish

Tasty Tuesday
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Next week (after Easter) I'll be able to eat meat again. Until then, I'm trying to use up the rest of the fish in my freezer.

It's been a long Lent. The first several weeks went by with hardly a wimper. Vegetables, pasta and fish were amazing, refreshing, and novel. These last two weeks? I'm about ready to kill the fatted calf. And she's cute.

But we're going out with a bang. This blackened fish is pretty good.

Blackened Fish
Recipe: City Wife Original (I'm sure it's in some cookbook somewhere, but I haven't read that cookbook so I'll claim it as my own).

Tilapia fillets
ground coriander, salt, pepper, garlic powder (to taste)
Juice from 1 lime
Fresh cilantro

Season fillets generously on both sides and sprinkle with lime juice. Put a little oil in a non-stick skillet on a high heat. Cook until the edges are opaque and flip 'em over. Cook another 2 minutes or so. When serving, sprinkle with fresh cilantro and additional lime juice.

I served it with turmeric rice and orange glazed stir fry vegetables.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blooming Orchard

The cherry orchard is starting to bloom!

It's so beautiful in there.

Quail are hiding in the trees.

The bees are busy buzzing around.

The bee guy comes every Spring with his hives.

Without bees to pollinate we wouldn't have a very good crop.

They don't sting you... they've got too much work to do.

(The guy gives us jugs of the honey from our orchard, too. It's pretty much amazing.)

But this is also a very scary time of the year.

This is a wind machine. You pray you never have to use them. If the temperature gets too low...

It will freeze and kill these.

No blossoms, no cherries... no livelihood... no food... it's bad. Well... something like that anyway.

The wind machines can raise the temperature a few degrees. The difference between 31 degrees and 33 degrees could make or break a whole harvest, and our whole financial outlook for the year... and possibly whether or not we keep the farm in the family.

So pray we don't have to use the wind machines this year!

Anyway, it's a great time of year to go for a 4-wheeler ride through the orchard.

The neighbor farm grows nectarines.

But apparently they're not going to harvest this year (if he were, these buds would be thinned). The price just isn't good enough, and he'd lose money if he harvested.

But the bees don't care about that. They'll continue working anyway.

It's pretty sad, really. He's selling his whole farm.

People would rather eat cheap imported flavorless nectarines than pay a few extra cents for produce from the USA. And it's putting farmers out of a livelihood, and in some cases, their family heritage.

This is getting depressing. Sorry...

Here's something you don't see every day! A tumbleweed in a cherry tree. We farm in the desert.

The farmers are pretty busy this time of year, too.

I love this man!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fluent in Farm-Speak

One of the happiest parts of my day is hearing about my husband's day. I love it. But sometimes I see his mouth moving and the words just aren't making any sense.

"The new PTO shafts are really beautiful."

"The sheer bolts broke on the flywheel... the bull gears never jam. The plunger needs a shim."

"I have to replace all the springs on the pickup reel."

"The 16' header on the swather puts the windrows too far apart for the rakes."

I think it's English, but I can't tell.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Solemnity Successes

Orazio Gentleschi (1563-1639, The Annunciation)
Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation! Just 9 months until Christmas.

Bouquet presented to me by my nieces, from backyard flowers.

1. Despite the fact I've not been feeling well lately, I forced myself to smile at people... and they smiled back. It was a beautiful thing.

2. My tomato plants are thriving!

3. I successfully shot the moon in Pinochle. And there was much rejoicing.

Check out others' small successes and share your own this week at Faith and Family Live.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Chicken Fantasies

What's a farm without chickens? This week I intend to order some chicks from McMurray's Hatchery.

I meant to do it a few months ago, but I'm kind of... well... chicken.

You see, I think that I would be great at feeding them every day, and moving their pen around the yard, and checking for eggs twice a day.

But I'm not really that responsible. In my wildest imagination I am.

I can see myself now...

Louis Pierre Verwee (1807-1877, La Provende des Poules)
I'd look great in a bonnet.

Um... actually... when I imagine myself with chickens... this is more the image that comes to mind...

Lord Frederick Leighton (1830-1896, A Girl Feeding Peacocks)

I'm off to the grocery store... eggs are on sale.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cupcakes of Amazingness

Tasty Tuesday
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Boston Creme cupcakes? No, not quite, 'cause it's a chocolate cupcake. Bismarks? No... 'cause they're not donuts. What to call them, what to call them? They're just... cupcakes of amazingness!

They look kinda like regular chocolate cupcakes, with gooey frosting.

Granted this would be amazing even if this was the extent of it.

But even inside the mini cupcakes there's more.

So whether you want to make big or small ones... there can still be more!

That's what I'm talkin' about.

Come to mama.

Cupcakes of Amazingness

1) your favorite cupcake recipe (I halved the one on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box, but will keep looking for a better recipe)
2) your favorite pudding (make it according to the "pie" instructions which uses less milk. I made vanilla, but cheesecake or chocolate or butterscotch would also be incredible)
3) your favorite frosting (I made chocolate ganache, recipe below)

Instructions: Bake cupcakes. Allow to cool.
Take a ziplock bag, snip off the tiniest bit from a corner, fit with a metal piping tip (I used Wilton #12, available for 99 cents at most craft stores) so that the tip is peeping through the bag. Fill the bag with pudding, insert the piping tip into the cupcake and squeeze a few tablespoons in (no need to cut out a hole -- just put in the tip and squeeze!). If the cupcake splits, you've put in too much pudding and will have to eat your loss. I'm sorry.
After all the cupcakes are filled, frost 'em and refrigerate at least an hour (they set up better).

That's it!

Chocolate Ganache
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (milk, semi sweet, dark... whatever floats your boat)
1/2 cup heavy cream, or 1/2 cup canned evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)

In the top of a double boiler (which could be as easy as a large glass bowl on top of a pan of boiling water), heat the cream until it's quite warm. Dump in the chocolate chips and allow to sit for about a minute. Whisk until the chocolate is fully melted and amazing.
Instead of "frosting" these cupcakes, I dipped them into the chocolate. It was easier for me and looked nicer anyway.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Morning on the Farm

Time to feed the cows.

This cow is always the first to get food. I guess she's the "alpha cow."

She'll make some great roasts and steaks, though. (hehe)

The calves are growing up!

They scratch on anything they can find.

She looks about how I feel on Monday mornings


Friday, March 19, 2010

Solemnity, Lent, Friday... Meat!

St. Joseph by Guido Reni (1575-1642).  Image from Art Renewal

"Can.  1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday."

That's straight from canon law, baby. But does it apply in Lent?

Oh yes.

Should we Catholics abstain from meat, anyway? I think not.

I'll be having steak for dinner... and I won't feel guilty (but I'll also be going to Mass today... we need to have our Feasting priorities straight).

Happy Solemnity of St. Joseph!!


Who needs Free Friday when I just cited Canon Law permitting you to eat meat on a Friday in Lent?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Small but not Trivial


1. Planted some seeds!! My dreams of becoming a successful square foot gardener are inching closer to reality.

2. Asked for help. WOW this is big. (I can still hear my own voice as a toddler, "I can do it myself!"... not much has changed since then in that regard).

3. Have established and used the spousal buddy system for getting to Mass. Each day on our calendar has my name or my husband's and we're responsible that day for waking each other up for Mass and then praying the Rosary. So far... 7 for 7!

Check out others' small successes and add your own this week at Faith & Family Live!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Germination. Germ-i-nation. That word perfectly describes what I think about getting my hands dirty in soil. There's a nation of germs, and "I" am in the center. Ew.

But I really want garden-fresh produce this Summer. I want to can and freeze my own home-grown stuff. I want to embrace the country life.

This I can handle. You pour some water into these little compressed peat mixtures and they puff up.

Drop in a few seeds.

Label the suckers.

And in 77 days I'll pick peppers and tomatoes, right?

I don't actually have a garden to put these in.

But I've got 6-8 weeks to worry about that.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mint Oreo Truffles

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When we had a Pinochle Party back in December, I made lots of little hors d'œuvres. The one on the bottom is one of my favorites though (a dessert, not an hors d'œuvre)... Oreo Truffles! Since St. Pat's Day is tomorrow, I thought I'd try 'em with mint Oreos.

Pretty schweet.

Mint Oreo Truffles

1 package Mint Oreo cookies
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
white chocolate bark

1. Crush cookies (filling and all) in food processor or in a ziplock using a rolling pin
2. Stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together.
3. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.
4. Melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry.
5. Once dry (if they get to that stage before you polish 'em all off), refrigerate and enjoy!
Makes about 36 truffles.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Painful Memory Aids

My nieces are trying to learn state capitols right now.

I'm all about memory devices. Give me a physical action or a mental image to go along with an otherwise unmemorable phrase, and I'll remember it for life.

We were going great guns 'til we got to Louisiana. Baton Rouge.

Hm... well, there are the words "bat," "on," and "rouge." So I made a swinging motion (for "bat"), slapped the table (for "on"), and patted my cheek for "rouge."

They were getting into it with a great gusto. Swinging, pounding, slapping and laughing. Geography never had it so good.

So I asked 'Stina Beana (2nd grade niece) what the capitol of Louisiana was.

With conviction and sincerity: "Baton Bruise."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Superseeding Restraint

72% of first time gardeners buy way more seed than they can ever plant, become overwhelmed, and never start the garden at all.

Okay, I pretty much made that up.

I just wanted to be in the popular crowd.

My Gurney's order arrived on Monday and I've been looking at the 36 seed packets all week. Never go grocery shopping when you're hungry, and never go seed shopping when you've got the winter blues.

I think I was wrapped in 2 blankets, dreaming of a warm spring when I pointed and clicked myself into this quandary. I thought I was showing so much restraint by not getting corn (which is what I really wanted anyway), 'cause "we don't have enough room for that." I don't even like eggplant! And who was the genius who thought two varieties of watermelon, 2 kinds of cucumber and 4 kinds of vine-sprawling squash were necessary? Oops... I guess that was me.

Please bear in mind, I'm not from the country. These things are still a mystery to me. Thank you.

Maybe I'll toast those squash seeds for today's lunch and pretend none of this ever happened. Problem solved.

Free Friday: Become a fan of Redbox on Facebook, and receive a free movie rental on St. Pat's day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Minuscule Successes


I really need some prayers. This week was one of those weeks I hope never to relive again.

I'm going with the high school juniors on their Confirmation retreat this weekend. There's been constant spiritual warfare and very clear demonic attacks. Anything that can go wrong has. Anything that can be thwarted has been. Any progress has been turned into failure.

I hope this retreat is fruitful, 'cause I don't know how much more I can handle.

With that said, it was really hard coming up with three small successes. They're pretty minuscule.

1. Got one thank you in the mail. (Just several dozen remain to be written).

2. Kept the house clean for one day this week.

3. Made my husband really happy by making this shrimp soup with these breadsticks. The leftovers were just as good as the first night.

Check out others' small successes and contribute your own this week at Faith & Family Live.