Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Sock Monster

Do you ever wonder where those socks you know you put in the dryer went? Well here's what has started happening to them at our house.

"The Sock Monster" came tearing down the hall and around the corner into my room like Kevin Bacon busting a move in Footloose. He is wearing a pair of my toe socks that have been MIA for a while. I wish I would have gotten the picture of him a few minutes later when he came through like a blur in the same outfit plus his brothers batting helmet. He really didn't want to give up the rainbow toe socks. This will be a fun photo to pull out around his high school graduation!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rest Time

My little one is full of joy - always. Today he asked his Papa (James) if he could take a rest in the hammock. Even though we live in Texas, it is still January. Not wanting to pass up the chance that the little stink would actually rest we strung up the hammock and piled on some quilts. It was not what I'd call restful and relaxing. But thanks to my husband, I stole away a few precious moments with my son who will soon be in school on beautiful afternoons like today.

Friday, January 22, 2010

We call it Supper in the Country!

Growing up and to this day my family refers to the noon meal as dinner, not lunch, and the evening meal as supper, not dinner. This can cause some confusion if you invite someone to dinner and they show up at 7:30p.m.

I love to cook and spend more time in my kitchen than any other room in our home. So, I wanted to share what's for supper at my house this fine Friday evening. My friend Jenny shared a phenomenal chicken enchilada recipe we me last month. My husband had these beauties at her house in College Station and would not stop raving about it. I think the thing I miss absolutely most about living in College Station is being around the corner from my wonderful friend Jenny. Her kitchen is one of my favorite places on earth.

Jenny's Three Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

3 T olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 (14.5 oz) cans mex-style stewed tomatoes
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 t salt
4 oz goat cheese (about a cup)
2-4 T chopped cilantro
24 flour or corn tortillas
2 C half and half
1 t chicken bouillon granules
1/2 C salsa Verde
2 C shredded Monterrey Jack
2 C shredded cheddar

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic: saute until tender. Stir in chicken, tomato, chili and salt. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 mi. Stir in goat cheese and cilantro.

Preheat oven to 350. Spoon approx 1/4 C of chicken mixture down each tortilla. Roll and place seam down in 2 lightly greased 13x9 dishes.

Combine half-and-half and bouillon in a large saucepan over low heat; cook until granules dissolve. Stir in salsa and pour evenly over tortillas.

Bake, covered, for 10 min. Uncover and bake 10 min. Sprinkle with cheeses and bake about 5 min. or until cheese melts.

(If you're not into goat cheese I think you could sub cream cheese or a fresh milk mexican cheese with success!)

For dessert we are having PW Tres Leche Cake. Oh my! Our family was blessed to spend four and a half years living in the Texas Valley. My little one was born there and to date will eat chips and salsa over anything else. Tres Leche Cake is on my husbands top 5 best desserts out there list, right beside grapefruit pie another Valley delight. Over the past three years I have tried to find a recipe to duplicate the cakes we would have in South Texas without success. I made some so terrible the dog wouldn't even touch it. But this recipe is outstanding and makes a truly wonderful cake. Save the left over milk mixture from the recipe and pour a bit on you saucer before plating your piece. You'll thank me. I think you should make this cake to go with the enchiladas as soon as you possibly can!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Morning

James and I have been milking Ellie, our milk cow, for a week. She has settled in nicely. No wild cow milking was necessary.

Having a milk cow is a huge commitment. I realize that we've not been doing this nearly long enough for the shine to wear off, but I'm enjoying the new morning routine. This morning was the first time both boys have had a chance to help.

What a blessing to slow life down for just a moment.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1st Of Many

This past weekend Connor had his first stock show experience as an exhibitor at the Gillespie County 4-H & FFA Stock Show. He showed two pens of broilers and did great. We received the chicks in November and for the past eight weeks he has been feeding, watering, and cleaning their pen daily. His pen of hens placed 18th out of over 100 pens of birds. Excellent for a first timer!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Milk Cow 101

My husband is off working so my wonderful father and I went and picked up my milk cow and calf yesterday. She has been staying at my dear friend Kerri's Farm. It was a day I will keep in my heart. It's not often that I get alone time with my dad and special that he helped me bring my first milk cow home.

Then there is today......

A few side notes: We haven't had a milk cow on our farm since I was a girl - a good twenty years. That should date me and my milking facility for you. The calf was weaned a little over two weeks ago. In farm terms, at two weeks if you put the calf back with the cow, she's not really weaned. The cart is still before the horse here at my house and that fence isn't quite finished yet. Last night the calf jumped the partition in the lot and is now in with the cow. So, no milk for me. But on the upside this gives me a few days to let Ellie get settled in and used to her new place before my husband returns and the milking schedule starts.

Okay, jump to 8a.m this morning. I went down to the lot to introduce Ellie to her new milking area. Lets call my cow lot and milk shed vintage since it's popular to call old things that are falling apart vintage. And is just sounds fancier than shack or ruins. I think there is something truly beautiful about old barns. But, beautiful and functional don't always go hand in hand.

I was able to separate the cow and calf easily and get Ellie in the milking stanchion. My milk stanchion is just a very old wood feed trough attached to the wall of the very old barn with a front section the cow sticks her her head through that latches around her neck while she eats and is milked. This handy device is supposed to keep the cow from leaving the area until you are done milking. Note here please that I'm not actually milking, just feeding the cow where she will be milked.

The second I have the cow in the milking area the calf goes nuts. She is running around the lot balling and making all kinds of commotion. This isn't really helpful but going on in the background all the same. My new love, Ellie, quickly devoured her food and decided she didn't really care for the new scenery and wanted back with her newly reunited calf. Commence the dancing cow who is throwing a temper fit and trying to remove her wooden necklace. She was almost successful at removing my grandfathers milking stanchion from the wall of my vintage milk shed. Lets just say it was raining wood and my life passed before my eyes a few times.

Now friends, livestock are like children. Allowed to throw a fit and have their way, they will continue to repeat the undesirable behavior. So I got out of the way and let her have her fit all the while praying that she wouldn't pull the whole barn down her first morning here. When she finally stood still, I released her. I surveyed the damage and headed for the house to get a much needed cup of coffee.

After a cup of coffee and sharing my morning events with my loving husband and best friend I think I'm going to need something more that coffee. I do not have a facility that in its present state will hold my new milk cow. But rather I have a beautiful vintage milk shed that is leaning a little more after the morning activities than it was yesterday.

I purchased a milk cow not a range cow. Milk cow implies the act of milking which yields fresh wonderful milk and cream for my kitchen. So, I will be reenacting scenes from Old Yeller sooner than I'd like. I know it's a movie about a boy and his dog. But there is a scene in the movie where a very unhappy cow is tied to a POST to be milked. The character Travis says, "holder her Yeller" and the dog walks into the pen and the cow stands perfectly still to be milked. Well there isn't a lop eared yeller dog to come to my rescue. Flash to me, milk pail in hand, staring down a very unhappy milk cow tied to a post.....................

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Fence Posts

Move back to the country - check.

Buy a milk cow - check.

Board milk cow at best friends house because we have to fix-up sixty year old fences and gates surrounding thirty year old cow lot and milking shed - check......

Today my wonderful husband and I broke ground on the first of many fence posts to come during our life on the farm! If you're not familiar with the Texas Hill Country, the dirt grows rocks here. So, hand digging post holes goes something like this.

Step 1: Dig down six to ten inches. Hit rock.

Step 2: Use a rock bar to chip rock up. Remove rock from hole and continue to dig post hole.

Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you reach necessary depth to set post.

Step 4: Set the post. This step may present a problem. If you have removed more rocks that dirt from the post hole one must go and find enough usable soil to tamp the post in.

Now some might say we put the cart before the horse so to speak. Others might say purchasing livestock before you have a secure way to contain the blessed beasts is just good ol' country fun.
Personally, I think having a husband who will hand dig post holes IN ROCK to set a gate for me is extremely romantic! And, having a friend who will keep the cow I insisted on buying before I had fences to hold her makes me extremely blessed. Otherwise right now I'd be chasing a milk cow, complete with bell, down the county road like a mad person.

I am going to go and get my milk cow, Ellie Mae, and her calf on Monday. Stay tuned to see if the fence holds!