Sunday, January 30, 2011

Flip-flops in February

I know it's not February yet, but go with the alliteration. I live in Central TX and when my friends in NY are getting dumped on by 20 inches of snow, while that is beautiful and I'm sure at times, enjoyable, I'm cold natured enough to appreciate my warmer climate. I love breaking out the flip-flops and sometimes, shorts in the middle of winter and enjoying some hours outside.

We had dinner with our friends outside on Friday evening and the weather could not have been more perfect.

Thin layers + fire-pit + Yankee Pot Roast = Perfect

This is just a teaser though. We'll have another winter blast in the middle of this week. Living in Central Texas means that anything goes for weather. Who could forget our snowy Easter of 2007? It isn't often that you get to see snow on bluebonnets!

Stay tuned in the next couple weeks for:

v My first batch of Kombucha.

v A cute little knitted baby-hat for a friend’s newborn on the east coast.

v A finger labyrinth burned into a piece of wood.

v A knitted head-band/neck warmer. (A great, quick project to keep my interest long term.)

v Some harvest from my garden.

v Four knitted baby-blankets for two friend's babies and two nieces all of which are between 6 months and 2 years late.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Grannie

My Great-Grandmother turned 88 today. She’s a young’un. That’s her front and center.

This picture tells a pretty cool story. Each person in this picture (me being the exception) was the first born on the maternal side. Five generations of first-born females. This even goes back one more generation. My mom has a picture like this one that has my sister as baby and my great-great grandmother in it. It is a rare and special gift that my nieces get to know their great-great-grannie.

It is a gift that I get to know my great-grandmother.

Happy Birthday, Grannie! I love you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Massive Failure

I promised to let you know when my attempts at this simpler life wreak failure. It is now time to deliver. I’m particularly embarrassed about this one because the attempt was one that I’ve been told is something sooo easy anyone can do it!

So after months of overcoming my fears as well as timing everything correctly so I wouldn’t be up at 3:00 in the morning, I prepared to make some yogurt. I’ve made some before with a friend and hers turned out just fine. Of course she had been making it for years.

I decided to use a crock-pot method for ease my first time. How difficult could it be? There are two ingredients and about five steps including “turn on your crock-pot” and “wait”. There isn’t even any temperature checking. I used this recipe and several people commented on how easy it was.

We get our milk raw in a co-op from It’s the kind that’s never been touched by a machine except the milking machine, which I’ve witnessed firsthand. No pasteurization, no homogenization, no hormones, steroids etc. It is simply beautiful grass fed cows producing lovely milk with the cream that rises to the top for my coffee.

If you look closely you can see the separation.

So armed with my crock-pot, raw milk, and yogurt starter (also from Nors Raw milk,) I set to work.

v Turn on crock-pot and pour milk. ü

v Heat on low for 2 and a half hours. ü

v Turn off crock-pot and let milk cool for 3 hours. Oops.

(My husband says he’s going to buy me an apron one day embroidered with the word: “Oops” across the front. It’s a common word heard when I’m in the kitchen.) I accidentally skipped this step. I realized I skipped it but not until after I also put my spoon that had already been dipped in my starter into my heated milk thinking that I was about to mix them soon anyway. So I backtracked and simply turned off the crock-pot and hoped for the best.

v After 3 hours remove some milk and mix in starter. ü

v Mix in heated milk. ü

v Wrap in towel. ü

v Let is culture overnight, 8-12. ü

I woke the next morning hoping to find a pot of smooth, creamy, tasty yogurt. Instead I woke to a soppy, runny, smelly mess.

I have a couple of theories. The yogurt I used had once been frozen. Perhaps the bacteria died in the freeze? Also, the yogurt that I used was already kind of thin and runny. Perhaps it was not fully yogurt? (My milk farmer made it from his milk.) Fortunately, it was only a $5.50 mess-up. I am sad that I lost a half-gallon of milk, though.

I’ll let you know if the next time ends in a success or another massive failure.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Meet Our Kids

It’s time I introduce you to our kids.

Sassy, my 16th birthday present.

She turned 12 today and is still as sassy as ever.

Smudge, our lovable stray.

He likes to take walks with me to the convenience store down the street.

Athena, Smudge's equally lovable sister.

Don’t cross her path the wrong way. She holds her own in our neighborhood.

Athena and Smudge showed up on our doorstep about a year ago when they were about six months old. They had been abandoned and made ours their new home.

Sassy finally accepted them after about a year.

In case you are wondering, no that is not fresh cow’s milk they are drinking and no, they are not spoiled at all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sweet Citrus-y Goodness

The first time I ever tasted Florida oranges straight from the grove was in December of 2006 at a grove near Venice Island called Nokomis Grove. Oh my! It was like a tangy taste of sweet heaven. I’ve never tasted juice like it before. The oranges had been picked either the same day or a day or two before they were juiced and we were paying nickel after to nickel to keep tasting the different varieties of citrus in little two ounce mouth rinse cups. We bought a couple of gallons and shared then with Greg’s family while we were visiting them. I did not get to indulge my taste buds again for another year.

The summer following that Christmas trip, Greg and I got married…and a juicer. We chose to drive to Florida that year. This meant that we got to bring the goodness home with us! We loaded our car down with oranges and I savored every morsel of pulp that graced my watering mouth.

We got to drive there again this year (our choice of transport as time allows for the 20 hour trip) and as usual, we made our way to the groves. Sadly, many of the groves were wiped out by a devastating hurricane a few years back. Hale Groves still stands and is where we chose to visit this year. We bought some Tangerine Honey, some jugs of already juiced oranges to enjoy with Greg’s family and a nice a heavy half-bushel check marked “Navels”. It also had the intriguing handwritten word, “Red” on the bag.

Little did I know that the Florida oranges could get any better. When I cut into these beauties I was delightfully surprised by the stunning red color resembling a grapefruit.

The only thing prettier was the juice that ensued. Each orange gave about a half a cup of juice! (I’m kicking myself for forgetting to take a picture.) I juiced half of the bag and filled three quart jars full and gave them to some of our friends. I made sure they knew how much they were loved since I was giving away one of my greatest treasures in life. The rest of the bag was juiced and gone before the end of the week. Next time we drive again I’ll just go ahead and buy 20 bushels. Maybe I’ll plant one of their seeds when we buy a house someday and see how they do in the Central Texas soil.

So delicious, reddish, goodness, until next year...