Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why I Have A Dog

Ok folks, one LAST blog about non-gardening, non herb things before I go back to our regularly scheduled bloggin...

Why I Have A Dog....

Because who else could snuggle in the curve of your arm this way?

Who else would oversee the watering of seedlings the way she does?

Or let the wind blow through their hair on a warm spring day?

Who else would help me vaccum and clean the house?

or remind me that it's quitting time for work and time to play...ball that is...

Who else would share an orange push up with TDH?

or model the clothes I make with such style?

And who else would bound with abandon in the tall grass as we explore our new farm...in her running suit of course...

Only my dog would.  That's why I have a dog.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Under The Same Sky

So, just a couple more blog posts that are not garden related, I promise, then I'll go back to photos of herbs, talking about mulch and our growing season.  I just have to take this one post to share something with a few people I love - and the rest of you of course!

I was on the phone with my sister the other day. At one point in the conversation I said "oh, the neighbors are getting rained on," so she replied "it's raining there huh?" and I said, no, just at the neighbors, they're two miles away but its pouring over there. That's how the ND prairie and ND weather is. You can watch it roll past or watch it come right up on you. If you keep your eyes peeled you know just how long you have before you need to run for the house and whether or not you can grab a lawn chair and watch the storm or head for shelter. (Disclaimer here - ALWAYS head for shelter when storms head your way - its safer.)

You see, Boy - yes, the one who is miles away in a forest filled land - is missing home.  He's missing the farm, the big ND sky, the ND stars, the ND weather.  He's missing flying our big kite in the ND breezes and sitting in the shade with the birds, insects and critters talking away.

So I thought I'd send him a little of what he's missing.  Here at the new farm we are truly blessed to be a part of the landscape.  A small and insignificant part, but yet a part of something wonderful and big.  One of my favorite sayings is "from here, if you stand on a kitchen chair, you can see tomorrow".  It's true you know, from my place you can.  Take a look at what I mean...

Whether its early spring snow on the ground and in the sky...

Or late spring sunsets with Easter colors...

The big white billows of the first day of summer...

Or the unsettled storm clouds of June.

We all live under the same sky, but we don't all have the same horizon." ~ Konrad Adenauer

And from where I sit, you can't beat the view.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Preparing For Father's Day When You're NOT Betty Crocker

Warning - this blog post has nothing to do with herbs or gardening or even country living in North Dakota.  It does however, have everything to do with the lengths a woman will go to for the man in her life.

So, tomorrow is Father's Day.  I've been thinking about it a lot in the past few days.  You see, neither Tall, Dark and Handsome nor my father are with us any longer.  So, the only Father we have close is Tall Dark and Handsome (TDH).  To add to that, it's been way too long since we've been together with Boy (yes, as in "Mrs. Mawby, You Have A Boy).  You see he's been living far away and having vehicle trouble, and working three jobs...not much time to visit with your folks when that's the case.  TDH and I both miss him terribly, so I have been thinking about what I can do to honor TDH, the one who works so hard on our farm, does everything he can to please me and has a heart the size of Texas.

TDH isn't the kind of guy who likes or needs material things.   Making him exceptionally hard to buy for.  He's more of an internal, giving, loving kind of guy.  In fact, we took a magazine survey once - it agreed - he really does live to please others.  So buying him something was tough.  After some thought, I tried the following line of logic:

TDH is really Father to Boy.  So what would Boy do if he were here?  Well, Boy has always like to cook.  He's also liked to be totally immersed with his food, from scratch - beginning to end - thus the pickled cattails experiment

And his enjoyment of venison - from field to plate
And sharing the things he cooks with his Dad has always been his way of showing he cares for us

AND, coincidentally, TDH LOVES FOOD TOO!  I think what he enjoys most though is what food can do, such as bring people together for a fun evening and a mystery dinner party
or celebrate the holidays and good friendships with a progressive supper

Or maybe even sharing a liquid lunch with a favorite relative

Boy got his first cookbook when he was about 8.  Yes, ladies, teach your sons to cook - the payback is enormous!  One of TDH's favorite things for Boy to cook when he was little was a made from scratch chocolate cake.  When Boy grew up and moved away he took not only his cookbooks with him but some of mine too - leaving me without the best loved cake recipe.  I knew I would have to improvise.  The only chocolate cake I had ever made from scratch was an old family recipe for German Chocolate Cake, but I hadn't make the cake since I was a teenager and do you think I could find the recipe?  After MUCH looking and several emails to my sister, I finally found the recipe and thank heavens I had everything it took to make in the cupboard (including the back-up plan of a boxed mix).  TDH had to march in a parade today so I knew I would have all day to create the masterpiece.

I laid out the recipe - and quickly concluded that the recipe had been copied by me when I was in junior high school as an assignment for what we used to call 'Home-Ec' - now called Family and Consumer Sciences - how politically correct!  I knew this as the name on top - my maiden name and half the recipe was missing - mainly some of the ingredients, the baking temp and time and most of the directions for mixing. 
A quick phone call to the older sister - who always cooked and baked more than I do - who wasn't there to answer her phone in my hour of need and I knew I was on my own to fail,

This is my garbage can - with the first try of cocoa powder and water - I learned to boil the water first, then add it to the powder, not add the powder to the water and boil it...
And the mounds of dirty dishes...
I finally got it all mixed up and in the oven
After the cake came out of the oven, I began the critical part in the mind of TDH...no baked good is complete without frosting.  After the prescribed 12 minutes of cooking and stirring, I added the coconut and returned the frosting to the stove to "cook until spreadable" - I stirred, and stirred, and stirred and 25 minutes later, the frosting still wasn't to the ''spreadable" state I was looking for.  Turn up the heat.  Stir, stir, stir...stir, stir, stir - 30 minutes -- This is ridiculous!  So I decided surely it would stiffen up when it cooled. I removed it from the heat and waited for both the frosting and cake to cool to the point of putting them together.

Yes, you guessed it, I cooked the frosting too long, so instead of spreadable, I ended up covering only the middle and top of the cake with a method I now know to be a cross between play-dough playing and removing gum from your shoe.  Sticky beyond belief - but I must say, it tasted good as I licked it off my fingers.  I finally had a made from scratch chocolate cake kind of frosted and full of love.
After a quick search of the house for the cake carrier - where I soon rediscovered the old adage of you can't fit a square peg in a round hole (notice the square plate under the cake), I was able to put the finished product safely in its hiding spot in the basement.

Good thing I have T-bone steaks marinating and Vodka rhubarb slush to soften the blow of my 'special' Father's Day dessert.  5 hours of cooking, several failures and several close saves and TDH should be set for a good Father's Day.  Now where'd we put that hammock????
Happy Father's Day My Love!