Saturday, December 20, 2014

About Those 12 Cups of Sugar...

The rinds of eight grapefruit halves
All I want for Christmas is another kitchen* and another gumbo pot. (JK) It's gotten to the point where each of us has to schedule time in the kitchen for our various cooking & baking projects. I had to transfer my eight grapefruit halves' rinds from the gumbo pot (where they had soaked for 24 hours in salt water) to the roaster because Mr. Big Food needed the gumbo pot to mix the ingredients for his fruitcake which he was scheduled to make this morning.

I wonder if he chose this particular fruitcake recipe because it specifically says to mix the ingredients by hand? Humm... I wonder... .

I'll post photographs of Mr. Big Food's fruitcake soon. It hasn't been "watered" but I hear tell the virgin version is pretty darned good.

My fruitcake preparations are progressing nicely, I think. 

I tried to cram them all onto one platter and tore one. What was I thinking? 

After the grapefruit rinds soak for 24 hours in salt water, they are rinsed, put in a pot, covered with cold water, brought to a boil then drained. Six times. Pot, rinds, water, boil. Repeat. They then simmer for an hour after which time they are somewhat fragile (see photo caption) and are ready for the next stage.

The gumbo pot with six cups of water + 12 cups of sugar
Candied grapefruit rinds... 
or should I say, "fruitcake vesicles?"

That's right. My Christmas Fruitcake is going to be steamed, then baked, in candied grapefruit rinds. That's right. Just as soon as I can schedule kitchen time. 

(Though to be honest, I'm not sure they turned out as they should have. Wait and see. They cool for 12 hours in the syrup which took forever to get to the soft ball stage.)


Friday, December 19, 2014

I Hope You Like Fruitcake

Because that's like 370 pounds of raisin there-- not to mention the currants and candied this & that and local pecans. 

I hope you like fruitcake.

This is funny. 

Independently, both Mr. Big Food and I thought that we would make a fruit cake. (Great minds & all.) And then we realized we both had the same thought and so immediately someone screamed "FRUITCAKE CONTEST" and we went running for our recipes.

And then cooler headers prevailed. Why couldn't we both just make fruitcakes and enjoy the fruitcakes?

Ahhhh. Fruitcake.

But of course you need stuff for fruitcake. So you go on a wild Christmas goose chase searching for the stuff you need. 

[insert experience at the Oxford, Mississippi Kroger]

And then you are home. And you lay out all of the stuff you need for fruitcake on the table.


I began work on my fruitcake today.  It takes 12 pounds of sugar. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Goose Hunting

For reasons we can discuss some other day, we are not making our usual trek to My Mother's House for Christmas. We are having Christmas here on The Farm. Mr. Big Food decided he'll cook a Christmas goose. Therefore, we need a goose. And what better place to go hunting for a Christmas Goose than Oxford, Mississippi?

I won't keep you in suspenders. We did not find a goose-- Christmas or otherwise-- in Oxford. But on the way to Oxford, we did find Water Valley, a previously "derelict Mississippi town." 

This is from the famous B.T.C. (Be The Change) Grocery*
It ain't a K-Roger,

but the trees were reasonably priced, given the market. 
I have other photos of Water Valley's shops and galleries, but as Miss M and Daughter C did not go goose hunting with us, I will not post them at this time. No one likes a spoiler. 

This I will share. The fallen soldiers of Water Valley.

*Please note that this is NOT an authentic Mississippi sign.  It was not written by a redneckbackwoodsignerntboniefied Mississippian. There are no apostrophes, no quotes, and too few capital letters. Should be:

... Farmers... ice cream maker's...Bread Bakers...grit grinds'... ... bee's keepers'... and "Christsmas' Tree Planters'".

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Who needs lights & displays?

Photographs courtesy of Daughter C*
We went to Woodland the other evening. You may-- if you're still following along-- recall Woodland from Christmases past. 

No photographs were modified
To say that this year's Woodland Christmas display was disappointing is probably unfair to the display, such as it was. We discussed this on the way back to the Farm.

The complainers among us The observant among us-- which would be all of us-- noted that neither the colorful Noah's Arc, nor the enormous sparkling American flag, were anywhere to be seen. (Those were two of my favorites. I missed them.) And what about Lady Liberty? Where was that display??

On the other hand, 

A forest of trees
If you'd never see Noah's Arc or the American flag or The Little Lady with the Light , how could you miss them?


The best part of the worst Woodland Light & Display display we've ever seen was the hot cocoa Daughter C made with real milk and real cocoa, and put in a real Thermos™. Mr. Big Food poured a styrofoam cup of it for me as we were getting ready to enjoy the lights and displays. It burnt my lip when I took a sip. The cocoa was very chocolatey.

The second best part was the spritz cookies, though I understand that others think the popcorn (Daughter C's specialty, made in a crappy old popcorn maker) was just as good. 

Who needs lights and displays when you have cocoa and cookies and popcorn? 


*From where did the blue in the photo come?

Sunday, December 7, 2014


"Winter" by Grandma Moses

by Aileen Fisher

I like days

with a snow-white collar
and nights when the moon 
is a silver dollar,
and hills are filled
with eiderdown stuffing
and your breath makes smoke
like an engine puffing.

I like days
when feathers are snowing,
and all the eves
have petticoats showing, 
and the air is cold
and the wires are humming,
But you feel all warm...
with Christmas coming.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Best of Intentions

On the evening of December 1, 2014, it was my intention to post every subsequent evening about a Christmas story. I had my crappy old books about me-- well, except for the two I cannot find. And I got off to a good start. The Fir Tree. Charlie Brown. Dadadadadadada da. da da da. 

But alas. I got again stuck on the tracks a few feet from the station.


We had a potential blog-block breakthrough! 

We can read. Caroline Daughter C read aloud last evening from 

Babika Kopesky Fairy Tales by Anne Staglik (1990) 

And a right nice reading it was.  

Maybe we can keep this up! 

We can read!

(Although I think we will steer clear of those Czech stories from now on. They are too violent for my sensibilities. Just kidding. They are great! Thanks, Gran.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"I never thought it was such a bad little tree"

"Every Child Should Know"
The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen is a Christmas story every child should know. (Christmas Stories Every Child Should Know (1913) is a crappy old book every child should have!)

The Fir Tree was the inspiration for Charlie Brown's "Charlie Brown-like" tree! 

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition (Lee Mendelson, 2000) is a not so crappy old book every grown up should have.

Monday, December 1, 2014

"A Pretty Little Tree"

The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen (1845)

FAR down in the forest, where the warm sun and the fresh air made a sweet resting-place, grew a pretty little fir-tree; and yet it was not happy, it wished so much to be tall like its companions— the pines and firs which grew around it. The sun shone, and the soft air fluttered its leaves, and the little peasant children passed by, prattling merrily, but the fir-tree heeded them not. Sometimes the children would bring a large basket of raspberries or strawberries, wreathed on a straw, and seat themselves near the fir-tree, and say, “Is it not a pretty little tree?” which made it feel more unhappy than before. 
Read what happens to "a pretty little tree." [UPDATE: more readable format here]

And stay tuned! There's more!!

... dadada da da da daa daa dadada...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Oh Deer!

We interrupt the silence to pose a few questions.

1) What in heaven's name are you doing in the back yard?
 2) Don't you know the good acorns are up on the hill just a few yards from the tree stand?

3) Where is your mother?
4) Do you by any chance know where your father likes to hang out? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Check It Out

All. Social Functions. All
I checked the catalog at both libraries and the book is available to be checked out. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey

"Catching the Turkey" Grandma Moses 1940
More in the "Catching the Turkey" series here

Though I know little about Grandma Moses, primitivism, or art, I am a fan of Anna Mary Robertson, and enjoy looking at her work.

"A Blizzard" 1956

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A lot can happen

I thought it might be a hoot to spend some time reading about the years leading up to the first Thanksgiving from the perspective of folks on the other side of the pond, so I pulled a few crappy old English history books off the shelves.

From pages 137-8 of A Manual of English History by Edward M. Lancaster (American Book Company, New York) comes this about Utopia:
Thomas More-- From the prophetic pen of More appeared a work entitled "Utopia," or Nowhere, a satire on the times, especially the reign of Henry VII. Utopia was an ideal commonwealth which an imaginary companion of Amerigo Vespucci, deserted on the American continent, found somewhere in the midst of the wilds. It had wide and clean streets, comfortable houses, a system of public schools in which every child received a good education, perfect religious toleration, and universal suffrage, though with a family, and not an individual ballot; and the sole object of government was the good of the whole people, and not the pleasure of the king. Had More's pseudo-voyager but wandered to the American continent a few centuries later, he would have found his model "Utopia" a real as well as an ideal republic.
(My emphasis)

Utopia was first published in Latin in 1516. It was first translated into English in 1551, about 20 years after the start of the Reformation in England-- and More's execution in 1535-- and 70 years before the Pilgrims landed. The text from which that passage comes was first published in 1905.

A lot can happen in a few centuries can't it?

Monday, November 17, 2014

There's a lot of space here at the Farm

It going to be cold tonight.

When it's cold, the smart thing to do is divvy up the space into small units & heat only those that are necessary.

Rocky is under the covers. Missy's on top of them. The door is closed and I can still smell Daughter C's fire which warms the greater surrounds.

I'll go check on it.

Meanwhile. It's right toasty here with the little electric heater and warm mist humidifier running in this 12x12 dogxdog space.

Laziness. Pure & Simple.

Miss M did not think too much of the fact that I simply bulk uploaded the photos from the Christmas Market the other evening. She was particularly troubled by all the work you, Dear Reader, would have to do to see the store front candy canes.

I have no excuse other than pure and simple laziness. 

Fortunately, I have a minute this morning to correct the situation.

On July 5, 2014 two Downtown stores were almost wholly consumed by fire. I hear tell the owner(s) of the buildings did not have insurance-- but that's just what I hear on the street. 
I think this building is testiment to the Great Southern motto, no matter what your circumstances are around the Christmas Season, You Can Never Over-Decorate!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rocky Update

Rocky is doing well. Thank you all for asking! 

He is not supposed to exert himself for 10 days. Daughter C has sequestered him in her room. He comes out occasionally to say "Hello" and to see what's up in the world. I think he's recovering quite nicely. 

Miss Missy, on the other hand, is a mess. She sits by his door and cries and cries. And then when he does come out, she's embarrassingly preoccupied with his... his... . Well, let's just say she's noticed Rocky is not the same boy he was a few days ago.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

We Participated in the Market to the Tune of $42 AND Contributed ... 42x0.07 = ...

$2.94 to the coffers of Mississippi

There are days when I think the Girls & I should be in charge of these events. 
Only one shop had cider. If WE were running the show, all shops would be encouraged to have cider.

Here's a bit of what I found picture-worthy:

This you have to pay attention to. Note the candy canes.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Seems early to me

First Daughter C fire of the season-- a Beauty!
Daughter C is such a fanatic. She refused to start a fire until I'd moved the highly flammable books and deer away from the fire box. 

I fuss at her for being overly cautious but... . Who am I to judge? She might be right. And believe you me, I would rather wake up tomorrow morning to a nice hot cup of coffee brought to me by Mr. Big Food who brewed said coffee in our very own unburnt kitchen than to the sound of fire engines.  

So I moved the deer and the books and the fire is almost out.

It's early to have a fire. It's not even Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I wasn't making that up. I even marked a passage to share:

That public virtue which among the ancients was denominated patriotism, is derived from a strong sense of our own interest in the preservation and prosperity of the free government of which we are members. Such a sentiment, which had rendered the legions of the republic almost invincible, could make but a very feeble impression on the mercenary servants of a despotic prince; and it became necessary to supply that defect by other motives, of a different, but not less forcible nature; honour and religion.

from Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman EmpireMoses Hadas (abridger), Fawcett Publications, Greenwich, Conn 1962 (page 27).

Security alert !

So. I am sitting a few seats down from a woman who cannot refrain from placing call after call after call on her not-iPhone6. If it were not so annoying it would be entertaining.

I have learned that she's thinking of selling her house and the address of said house. I have learned where she banks and what pharmacy she uses. I can't remember her friend's name because I don't care but I do know she isn't well and that folks at the church are praying for her. I know she missed a call from her insurance agent the other day and that it was nothing important.

I also know that the new iPhone6+ she ordered from a particular store in Madison came in but was returned. Why? Her credit card was hacked and she had to o cancel it. Imagine that.

I am now going to start reading an abridged version of Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hey! Yo! Mike!

I'm re-doing the bookshelves in the BunkHouse! 

We are moving at the speed of  .   .     .       putting things back together here at the Farm after the Lost Summer. As evidence, I submit to you this shelf

which is finished  and is accidentally symmetrical. God works in mysterious ways ;-) [Please attend to the two crappy old books.]

Dang. Double Dang. You can't see the bottom shelves. They are dreamy, civilized hoots. I'd also like to draw your attention to the slim volume on the war shelf over there on the right.  

I do enjoy putting together book shelves-- libraries of a certain sort-- for folks (Mike) to peruse. The re-do of the BunkHouse-- now known as the Jager Haus-- Library has been fun. Out are the many volumes of needlecraft encyclopedias and kitchen decorating magazines.

In are Dogs & Guns & Star Trek.
Which reminds me. Hey. Yo. Mr. Low Man. I didn't even think of you when I was putting this little library together. I didn't even consider what you might find interesting. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sometimes There's Just No Tellin'

what's happening here on the Farm. (Yes. That is is a 10ml beaker. I have hundreds of them!)
Take this evening, for example. I went to lock up the Jager Haus (formerly known as as the 'Bunk House'

which is still not  yet put together properly)
and I came upon this:

What the H-E-Double Toothpicks is this sitting on the table that is the staging area for the 

bar Refurbishment?

It's Western Cedar. We-- that' s Daughter C and I (!) -- have been breathing paint stripper for months. I've rehabilitated an ancient Craftsman belt sander which works like a charm. It's-- the bar, not the sander-- almost ready to move inside and assume it's place under the bar top (see photo above- look for the orange drill, place bar under bar top) which, I might add, I've stripped and sanded AND stained.
Where was I? 

No Tellin'.



"Yes, Missy?"

"What aren't you telling?"

"Oh, Missy! You silly. There's no tellin' what I'm not tellin'!" 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What do you want to bet

we manage to shimmy through that break in the line? 

Okay.Okay. I know that we-- as in my location indicated by that little stick thing-- aren't going to shimmy through anything. We are pretty much stationary. We don't shimmy.

But what do you want to bet that little break in that big mean green line breaks up even more right before it passes over my little stick?

I'll bet you One United States Dollar that we don't get near as much rain as-- at first glance-- you would think we might be getting. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mac & Cheese: This is Serious

Everyone-- which is to say each and every solitary individual who has ever lived and is worth his/her salt-- wants to to consider him/her/itself special. And so it should come as no surprise that Mr. Big Food & I thought ourselves quite special this evening. Really? How many other folks in our little county were doing statistics on macaroni & cheese recipes? In the state, even?

Let that sink in. How many other people in the Sovereign State of Mississippi-- besides us here at the Farm-- are engaged in a Macaroni & Cheese Contest? This Year.

One of the first challenges we had was converting the ordinal good-better-best scale into something more orderly. You may recall that here on the Farm we like numbers... but we do NOT like people who try to make numbers out of things that are not numbers.

Anyhoo.... After we'd settled on the scoring scheme-- W-L-T-- we tabulated the wins, losses, and ties. Diner Mac is the clear winner, thus far, with a record of 13-1-1. I do feel a little bit sorry for custard mac (1-14). It wasn't that bad. 

Meanwhile, I see that I took some photos from earlier in the day-- when I thought Daughter C was never coming home with store-bought bagels.