Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Redneck Christmas

You know it's going to be a redneck Christmas when Santa's wrapping up guns to go under the tree.  Seriously-- it's an annual family occurrence.  You see, Ed (my brother the farmer) is also an apprentice gunsmith on the side for kicks (note the pun-- totally unintentional).  He's a hunter, so he has guns to hunt with.  Plus he just likes learning about them, fixing and building them, and giving them as gifts.  I can almost guarantee each Christmas that someone's getting a gun under the family tree.  A few years ago, Joe and I both got guns for Christmas.  I feel like a complete bad ass whenever I say out loud, "I have a Kahr Arms 9 mm semi-automatic pistol" or "Yeah, Joe got a 9 mil Glock".  It seems weird to quote my 3-year olds while talking about gangster guns, but "For Real."  We are gun-owners.  A few days ago I went into a national chain store that sells hunting and fishing equipment.  The place does not sound unlike "Rubella," and right now does not feel much different than illness to me either.  I had to go check out a price on a shot gun my hubby mentioned ever-so-obviously on the top of his Christmas list.  I took a number at the gun counter.  Seriously, you have to take a number.  When the gun guy arrived to help number 411, I asked him to give me a price on the gun.  Well, wouldn't you know there are a zillion different versions of these bad boys.  So, to begin with he showed me the $650 version of the gun.  I said, "Actually, it's the one you had on sale a couple weeks ago for less than $200."  He picks up another one right away, as if he knew all along what I was looking for, but this was was a mere $400ish.  "Um, hold on a second."  And I call Ed right there at the counter.  "Ed, tell me exactly what I'm looking for here."  And he tells me.  And the guy picks up the gun I'm looking for, and while it still costs too much, it was the least expensive version of the gun, and of course the one I wanted a quote on.  I just KNOW the gun guy knew what I wanted, and yet I also know he completely took advantage of my gender and overall lack of knowledge about guns.  What a jerk.  I can't tell you how much at that moment I wished with every ounce of wishing power I had that I could "speak gun" and completely annihilate the man with my superior fire arm expertise, forcing him to seek a supervisor to help me with my most difficult questions.  Still, I was clueless, and I left the place without a gun.  His bad.  Actually, I ended up leaving there with an equally exciting-- well, to my spouse anyway-- object which I will not reveal here on the off chance (it's really totally unlikely actually) he should read this blog.  Sorry, Joe.  You'll have to wait for Christmas.

Oh, and just so you know, I never wanted a gun until my first Mothers Day arrived in Rochester, and Joe gave me a class on firearm safety as a gift.  No, I did not have a fire arm, but we lived in Rochester, and Joe traveled a lot, and we both thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a gun in the house.  I must say, the course, taught by both men and women, was awesome.  I learned so much and now feel much more comfortable around guns, which is good, since I expect to see at least one under the tree this year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pre-holiday 2010

Charlie finishing up a painted pine cone wreath.
Ruby working on one of TWELVE painted hollow egg ornaments.
Toothpick meatballs were among the things I made after 12 eggs were hollowed out.  If you have a favorite metball recipe, use it, grab a bunch of toothpicks, and set out a bunch of "dipping sauces."   The girls love these.   
NOT for kids.  Cranberry cordial in the making.  It should be ready for Christmas Eve.
Addie, Bubba, and Boogie.  Priceless.
Woodpile's usual hang out.  Yes, that's where he got his name.
The friendliest dog in the "whole wide city," Charlie tells me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Baby Pies

It's like this.  You have no plan for the kids, you need a nap more than they do, the tv's been on all morning, and they want something cool and fun to do.  And they're hungry.  So get out the leftover single pie crust you saved from making that pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving-- you got a problem with me using Pillsbury crust?  Yeah, I know how to make crust from scratch, and a pretty darned good one too, but sometimes it's just nice to unroll a couldn't-be-easier-or-tastier dough boy and pop it in the dish just like that.  How many of you really make your own crust every time you bake a pie?  Wait-- how many of you ever really bake a pie?  Ha!  Got you there, didn't I?  So, where was I?  Oh, take out the leftover single crust and cut it into 6 equal pieces.  Squares, triangles, whatever.  Give each child their own flat piece.  Then give them whatever leftover jar of jam or jelly you have kicking around-- you can imagine there are a lot of choices in my house, so this part is rather fun.  Have them splat on a couple spoonfuls right in the middle of each crust, cut little slits in the non-jammed part of the crust, then fold those parts over to create a sort of pocket of jam.  Seal all the edges together.  Beat an egg, then let your kids "paint" the egg onto each baby pie such that all the crust is covered with egg.  Then let them sprinkle sugar on top too.  Bake it in the oven at 350 until the jam starts oozing out the little slits and the crust looks a lovely golden color-- about 15 minutes or so.  Take it out and let it sit for at least 15 more minutes.  The kids will want to eat their baby pies right away, but they'll be ridiculously hot for a while, so distract them with some less awesome unplanned activity while you wait.  While this is not the most nutritious snack in the world, it is a very special treat, and the girls were rather proud of themselves for making their own little pies with their own little hands.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Sunchoke Dilemma

Holly dropped off a beautiful sample of her winter CSA supply this weekend, including her recent post subject:  The Sunchoke.  Ah, the sunchoke.  As if I know what the heck to do with the little ugly root, also known as a "Jerusalem Artichoke."  No, it's nothing like an artichoke by looks or taste.  It is, however, high in iron and fiber, and it's flowers are lovely and belong to the daisy family.  Oh, and it's also known as an earth apple, which is weird, since in french a potato is called "pomme de terre," meaning "apple of the earth."  Anyway, I sensed a challenge when Holly said that neither she nor Jess (csa partner, blogger, and creator of the lovely items at Barefoot by the Sea) knew what to do with their sunchokes.  So what did I do?  I made pea soup, of course!

1 lb package of dry peas
12 cups water
1 small onion
2 carrots, chopped
4 Tbs butter
1.5 tsp salt
.5 tsp pepper
1 or 2 ham hocks
3 peeled sunchokes

Rinse peas, then combine them with water, onion, carrots, butter, and hocks.  Cover and heat to boiling for 30 minutes.  Then add salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 20 more minutes.  Add grated sunchokes (I used a small cheese grater) to the soup and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  This leaves the sunchokes tender but not soft and adds texture to your soup.  Hocks can be removed and boned, the ham placed back into the soup.  Cook it up until it's at the consistency you desire.  We love pea soup at our house.  Well, Joe and I love it, and the girls are in training.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

...and the weekend's not even over!

We called around to make sure everyone's chickens were still living before we realized that Boogie had gotten into some red stain.  Oh, puppy.  

The girls' tunnel will never get old.  They've loved it since they were a year old!
Here's the set-up at my first-ever try at selling jam at a local fair.  I had a great time!
Good friends taking a break from tree-hunting at Boiling Springs tree farm in Dayton.
Ruby really takes after her father...