Saturday, July 30, 2011

Morning Grazing

Browsing on the weeds.
Wang catches the scent of the milking does....
..and wanders over..."Helloooooo ladies"

Geordi wins a game of King of the Hill against Cloris.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Little Projects Make Life Easier

There are little annoyances in everyone's life. That sticky drawer in the kitchen, that door that won't latch properly, etc.
Not big items, just little ones.
One thing that annoys the heck out of me (or used to) was that absolutely useless plastic drawer insert thing for silverware. I mean, seriously? It can hold a paltry amount of silverware, unless you place everything in it just so, it spills over into the drawer and you always find forks in the spoons and vice-versa.
I hate those things!
So, I changed my top drawer in my kitchen cabinets to a silverware drawer and used some lumber craps we had laying around to make the drawer into a useful drawer!
 I am so much happier with this! Maybe it doesn't look like it came out of "House Beautiful", but it works for us! Althoooough, looking at the picture, I see somebody put a set of the chopsticks in with the knives....ah well, at least the majority of the utensils are where I can easily find them and sensibly organized for me!

I was also annoyed with having to go into the nether-world of the lower cabinets to find pots and pans when I was fixing dinner.
Sooooooooooooooo...I bought some of these

and I installed them under the upper cabinets

and now I can find all the pots and pans easily!
Just wee things that make my life a little easier and are now less annoying.
I have a few other small projects I am working on, will post pics of those soon!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

MUCH Earlier today....

Siona has decided it is NOT her morning to help with the milking. She has her pillow and all is well in the world! (I made the pillow for her when we got her---of course, then, it was her entire bed!) Although she has outgrown her *bed*, it is still her favorite snuggle down to sleep item! She drags it up on the couch with her when she beds down for the night.

Milking? Already? Gabby the goat doesn't looked too pleased with the situation!

Although sleepy still, Champagne is okay with early long as there is sweet feed involved!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Poor Penelope!

The fella brought home two new hens a couple of weeks ago. At Phelans suggestion, we named them Penelope and Phoebe.
Phoebe spends most of her time hiding from the other hens
While I have moved Penelope to the milking does pen because she was being terrorized by the other hens.
Poor thing!The other hens pulled all her tailfeathers out and now she looks kinda like a very bedraggled and tiny ostrich!
There's Penelope, with her naked little butt.
She seems content in with the goats, so I think I will let her stay in there until she gets some more size on her.

I belong to a couple of chicken discussion boards and we have all had problems with one hen getting pecked on by the others.Seems to have no rhyme or reason to it. The best solution most have had have been to temporarily separate the pecked hen so she can recover and get more confidence and gain a little weight.
We'll see how it goes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Early Morning

Since it has been so unbearably hot, I got up at 2:30am to fix breakfast for the fella and do chores. The fella got up early as he had to report in at 4:00am today. Good news on that is---he isn't being deployed this go 'round. YAY!!! Bad news is, his schedule is being changed a bit. Longer hours, as there are fewer people available to do the work in his unit. But I would rather have him be here and working these hours than over in the *sandbox* again!
I've already milked the goats

and my son turned the does out into the front yard to browse. I fed the chickens and the Girl gave hay to the rest of the goats.

I have a big pot of cajeta simmering on the stove and after about 10 hours on low simmer, it will be ready for canning.
I am also mixing up my barbeque spices for some ribs.I am trying a crock pot recipe for ribs and I hope it turns out okay! Never cooked ribs in a crock pot, but I have been told they come out beautifully. We'll see!
I plan on getting some sewing done and I have a new quilt I plan on piecing together.
All in all, a quiet day...unless that thunderstorm they are predicting hits! And I so hope it does!
We need the rain here so badly! So many farmers and ranchers are having a rough time here.
Hope everyone out there is having a terrific day as well!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hot Weather and Meals...

The weather has been so hot all of my baking has come to a screeching halt.
I am making cajeta about every three days and canning that, so I try to make mealtime simple.Tonight we ate very late, around 10 pm. We took a siesta after lunch, so the timing actually worked out pretty good.
We have had a few meals cooked on the grill, but unless you start the grill after sundown, it is just too freakin' hot to stand out there by a hot grill in the blazing sun!
A lot of the time, I have found what works easiest here is to cook the meat the night before and just keep it in the fridge until needed the next day.
A lot of our meals have been cool salads topped with chicken or steak cut into strips. A healthful balanced meal!
Also, Greek or Middle-Eastern food---PERFECT for hot weather!
A favorite here is a menu roughly like this:
Pita Bread
Greek Beef Strips
Greek Yogurt
Greek Spinach
Herbed Goat Cheese (I make that myself) of Feta (also make feta)
Salad Greens
Tomatoes with olive oil and snipped herbs (marinate overnight)

I set it out as a buffet and everyone fixes their plates with what they want.

Here are some quick and easy recipes for making your own Greek buffet:
1 can Garbanzo(chickpeas) beans
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons tahini (ground sesame seeds, if you do not have any, increase sesame oil to 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
A pinch of Salt
Drain and reserve liquid from garbanzo beans. Pour beans in blender and add remaining ingredients.
Puree until mixture is smooth and of the right consistency, adding reserved liquid from beans as needed.
Serve with pita bread or pita chips.

Greek Beef:
1 pound beef cut into bite sized pieces (You can use skirt steak, any steak, even slice part of a roast into small pieces for this, it will get tender)
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
3 tablespoons vinegar (red wine vinegar is best for this) OR 1/4 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced dried onion or 1 teaspoon raw onion minced
1 teaspoon beef bouillon or one beef bouillon cube mixed with one cup water until dissolved
1 tablespoon corn starch or 1 tablespoon flour
Mix vinegar (or wine) with ginger, cloves cinnamon, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, onion and beef bouillon water.
Marinate beef in water for one hour (or longer...I have even marinated overnight, but one hour is the minimum)
Remove beef from liquid (SAVE LIQUID!) and brown in 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter until brown.
Pour marinade liquid into pan with beef and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on medium low.
Mix tablespoon corn starch (or flour) with 1/4 cup water until well dissolved, add to pan and cook uncovered until the sauce thickens on medium heat. You want the sauce very, very thick. It may take about 10 to 15 minutes to cook it down.
When done, serve alongside pita bread, etc.

Greek Spinach is simple spinach cooked with garlic. You cook it in a searing pan or skillet instead of a pot with water.Just plop a pat of butter in, add about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of minced garlic and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and cook a bunch of spinach until wilted. If you are using frozen spinach, let it thaw out first, squeeze as much liquid out as you can, then toss it in the pan with the butter and garlic.Heat thorough and serve hot.

Herbed Tomatoes
Two tomatoes, diced small
Finely minced herbs or dried herbs: Oregano, chives, garlic, marjoram and dill or a combination to your liking.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mix all of the above together and marinate, covered, overnight.
Good to add to pita sandwiches or on salads or on crustinis

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Remember the Batteries

So, today I had a great photo opportunity. Gabrielle the goat was dozing in her pen, and Penelope (our new hen) cuddled up on her back to take a snooze. We put Penelope in with the milking does as the older hens were picking and pecking her too much.
They looked soooooooo cute. I went quietly back in the house, grabbed the camera...went back out side...and....nothing.
The batteries were dead!
I went back in the house and looked for more batteries, but apparently the kids (human, not goat), had needed them for some of their electronics, like wireless game controllers, so they had basically emptied the box!

So much for the cute pic I wanted to get...sigh...
I'll get to the store tomorrow and hopefully, the goats and hens and dogs will continue to act adorable and provide me with great photo opportunities!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Water and Health

I have issues with water. My mothers home, located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, has a well. An amazing well! It is spring fed and the water has a mild natural carbonation.Makes the best lemonade and Kool-Aid EVER! After I moved out on my own, I missed that water so much! I have lived in various places since then, but no place had water as naturally sweet and delicious.
Here in El Paso, the water is heavily treated. Highly chlorinated and of course, fluoridated.Average city water.
Soon after my arrival, I began having bouts of heartburn. Bleh. Up and down all night with heartburn. As the months went on, it got worse.
About two weeks ago, the fella came home with presents for me and the kids.
Individual Brita water bottles. They have a little filter in them that takes out chlorine and fluoride and a lot of other stuff and you get to drink fresh, clean , non-chemical water.
I started using mine and low and behold, my heartburn has vanished. Yesterday, just to see what would happen---I drank tap water instead of using my bottle.
My heartburn came back with a vengeance!
I am back on my Brita bottle!
Other effects noticed...the girl had been having stomach problems as well. The switch to the Brita bottle has cleared those up. My son had been having severe headaches. Again, the switch to the Brita bottle cleared that up.
ALL of us are feeling better...and I don't think it is psychosomatic!
If you have been having any little *nit-picky* type discomforts with your stomach or digestion, or maybe aches, pains and/or headaches that you can't figure out the cause of---it might be worth the expense and effort to grab a Brita bottle, or any other decent water filter bottle. Maybe even get a filter for your sink faucet.
Try it and see!
I have another blog that I use to whine and b*tch and generally air my grievances or give political, etc. opinions. Not a lot of posts, but it exists to give me a place to *vent* when I am annoyed at the world and sometimes, specific individuals in it. Sometimes the language can be harsh, sometimes a twisted post ends up there. I think when life is not all peaches and cream, we all need a place to vent! I guess there are so few posts because I am usually pretty content and happy!
Anyway, I post under Lambykins . Don't read unless you can handle a bit of harsh language!

Recipe I Gotta Try (and a great blog, too!)

Check this out!
Raspberry Red Pepper Jelly
Doesn't that recipe come across as just too yummy for words? I HAVE to try it!
I have tried several recipes on that blog and all of them were wonderful!

A Couple of Recipes

I use a lot of chimmichurri and a lot of hot sauce here, so here's my personal recipes for both!

For those that like a little spice in their homemade hot sauce:
2 small Habenero peppers--seeds and all
4 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded
4 tablespoons red pepper powder (I use Haitai brand, you can find it in most Korean or Asian grocers, it is usually used to make kim-chi)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 cup vinegar (Again, I use rice wine vinegar, but I have made this with red and white wine vinegar and it was equally good)
Whirl it on liquify mode in blender until, well, liquified! I can it in 1/2 pint jars. If you want it hotter, increase habenero peppers to 4 and jalapenos to 6.
I use this on tacos and other Mexican foods, also as a dip for tortilla chips.
For a real treat, use it to make salsa...
finely dice a tomato, add 3 teaspoons of fresh cilantro---minced, 1/2 cup black beans and a half cup cooked corn. Mix together and add 1/2 to 2/3 cup hot sauce and marinate overnight in fridge.
1/2 cup pineapple diced small (or use canned pineapple tidbits or crushed pineapple)
1/4 cup green bell pepper diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper diced
2 teaspoon diced cilantro
1/4 cup green onion, diced small
Mix together and add 1/2 to 2/3 cup hot sauce and let marinate overnight or for 4 hours before using.
This is something that we ALWAYS have on hand!
Chimmichurri (Argentine Style)
2 bunches parsley (I use the curly kind)
3 to 5 cloves garlic (depends on spiciness of your garlic)
1/2 green bell pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup vinegar (I tend to use rice wine vinegar as that is what I usually have, but red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar works, too)
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional, or you can add more if you like)
2 basil leaves

Destem the parsley to a reasonable standard (no big meaty stems), peel the garlic and cut into chunks, cut the green pepper into chunks and rip up the basil leaves.
Toss everything into a blender or food processor, then hit liquify or your highest setting and whirl the whole shebang together until the parsley, garlic, bell pepper and basil are finely shredded and blended with the rest of the mix.
Pour the whole green mess into a jar or bowl and cover and let set at room temp for several hours to let flavors *bloom*.
Drizzle on steak, baked potatoes, scrambled eggs, burgers...use like some folks use ketchup! You can store it in the fridge, but always take out an hour or so before using. I also brush meats on the grill with it towards the end of cooking.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Play Taps for My Garden

Well, we finally got rain. Two days in a row (off and on).
Not a friendly drizzle or even a nice steady rain. It was a downpour! With massive gusts of wind and the rain pelting down so hard it was painful to go outside. garden was ripped to shreds.
I still have a couple of plants that are attempting to struggle through, but, the tomatoes...all gone. Cucumber plants destroyed. Peas, completely torn out of the ground. EVERYTHING ripped, torn, shredded, etc.
So, beginning plans for my Fall garden.
It seems like I will NEVER get a decent garden going here, but I will keep trying!
I was so darn depressed about the garden that the fella surprised me today.
Two new chickens!
Lovely Rock Island hens. Soooo pretty!
I am stuck for names for them!
My last two hens I named Carmen and Miranda. That shows you how desperate I have become for names!
Please give me some suggestions!
We already have:
Red (the rooster)
Gretchen, Priscilla, Beatrice, Zoe, Matilda, Daisy, Margarite, Carmen and Miranda.(We lost Chloe to the heat.)
And now the two new ones that I want to name.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Some TV Reviews and a General Update

The past week has been miserably hot here. I do all of my outdoor chores early in the morning or at dusk.
I am one of those people that simply can't take a lot of heat. Just my nature and there is nothing I can do about it but find ways to work around it or adapt in some manner.
So, chores (outside) are done in the coolest part of the day, while inside chores are done during the hotter parts of the day.
And, I have been catching a tv show every once in a while...
I am pretty picky about tv. Most shows I watch are shows that I can actually learn something from. Only a very few are for pure entertainment.
Here's a few of the shows I have watched over the past few weeks and my basic opinions of them:
Toddlers and Tiaras: Possibly the only show that caused me to recoil in horror. Little girls tarted up to look like Vegas hookers and paraded on stage and doing dance moves that would be acceptable in any strip club. A train wreck of a show and so far beyond the bounds of appropriate behavior and good taste that (I feel) the pageant parents should be investigated for psychological child abuse.
It's Me Or The Dog: Good show. My dog really enjoys it. Seriously, there is something about Victoria Stillwell's voice that makes my dog sit there and watch the show with rapt attention. Sorry, Ceaser Milan, but Victoria beats you, paws down!
My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding: Okay...this one ended up being a guilty pleasure for me...I was awed by the over the top dresses, etc. I also learned a few things. Gypsy (Romany or Irish Travelers) girls get married early, stay a virgin until their wedding night and usually have never even kissed their groom until their wedding day! Also, many venues will cancel if they find out a reception is for a Gypsy wedding and the Romany's and Travelers face a lot of discrimination in England and the UK.
Falling Skies: I had so looked forward to this one. And have ended up disappointed. The plot is a mashed up rehash of several sci-fi stories I have seen or read before.
Swamp People: Alligator hunting and Cajun accents so thick they have to use subtitles for viewers. Love it.My favorite is Troy and his first mate, Miss Elizabeth.
Oddities: It is amazing to see what other people collect. A lot of "Ewwwwwww" factor. Antique embalming supplies as collectibles? Some...okay, MOST of the people are just as strange as the collectibles!
I don't watch a lot of TV, so that's about it. I do like to watch a lot of Nature programming...shows about animals are a favorite in this house!
I do have a few shows that I do watch on a regular basis for pure enjoyment...Bones, Project Runway and Haven are my top 3.
My son has fit in well here. He is a HUGE help with the goats and chores around the place. He has discovered that he likes farm type work better than working in retail or customer service (where most of his jobs have been).
The fella and I went to the local Farmers Market on Saturday and discovered that absolutely no one there sells cajeta. I have to build up our inventory and perfect the spicy style cajeta recipe before we rent a booth for a weekend. Maybe in the Spring...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Contest at Another Blog and Random Musings

In case you don't already follow it, this blog with the spiffy orange cap  is having a really cool contest! Great prizes..and besides that, some really great posts on that blog!
Follow him...ya won't be sorry!
I have been absent for a week because of all the things that somehow piled up while I wasn't looking. Stuff you *forget* to do somehow has this ability to sneak up on you and reach a critical mass that just HAS to be attended to before total disaster strikes! (Not that I really forgot...t was more of an "I'll get to that later" sort of thing)
We lost a chicken to the heat, despite my best efforts. It was Chloe, one of our barred Rock Island chickens. I made sure the hens had oodles of water and even misted the coop a couple times a day to cool them off, but to no avail.Most of the hens are molting, but Chloe was not. She was fine in the morning, but around lunchtime I went out and she was dead, snuggled up in her favorite spot in the coop.
You can barely see her in this pic...behind Red, the rooster. He had a hissy when I took her body out of the coop. We buried her in the back yard.
Today my fella is taking cajeta to give to some of the folks at his church. He is also stopping by a favorite small store to give the guy that runs it a small jar. The fella calls it "priming the pump" in the hopes that it will generate sales for us.
My second oldest son is getting married tomorrow. Says the whole country will be celebrating his wedding with fireworks! Also, he will never forget his anniversary. Smart kid! They are just getting married by a Justice of the Peace with a couple of witnesses. They plan on a bigger celebration/reception after the baby is born..
One of my sons recently lost his job and is coming out here temporarily. The fella is going to teach him to drive and help him get his license. I am going to teach him to tend and milk goats and take care of chickens, etc. The economy is tanking a little more each day...sigh. You have to have myriad skills these days to get and keep a job. As Heinlein said "Specialization is for insects." My son has never flown before, so his first flight will be tomorrow morning...from Beaumont to El Paso. I hope he doesn't freak out too much!
The fella is also going to help him get a job here.They have just opened up a big new commissary on base. First priority folks are dependents of military, second are those recommended by military, 3rd are civilians with no ties to military. So, I guess my son will be in the second group. Until he gets a job, he'll be helping out here. He dislikes the heat as much as I do. But we have less humidity here, so it will probably feel better to him than the humid Gulf Coast.
For some reason I have been feeling a bit anxious over food storage (what, AGAIN!?!?!) I am trying to get mine better organized and build some shelves. That tiny pantry closet is just not enough anymore. The Girl has a huge walk-in closet that she barely uses...maybe she uses about 1/5 of the space. So, I figured I could build some shelves in there for better storage. Good chance to flex my capentry skills and maybe teach a few to my son and the Girl and the Boy!
Well, that was a heck of an update...sorta bounced around everywhere on that one!