Friday, September 30, 2011

The farm in early fall

Aren't the colors spectacular (as seen through the lens of my little camera)?

Cane poles

The north pasture as seen from a path to the lake. Colors not so good here.
I snapped these this morning. I was hoping Rocky would burn off some energy if I took him on a nice long walk. Didn't happen.

Oxford Town, Oxford Town

As I posted yesterday, there's an article up at NRO about what a great place The South is. It's gotten a bit of attention in the part of the World Wide Web that I frequent. Here's Glenn Reyonlds response:
To be honest, we’d rather word didn’t get out. Stay away! In fact, I need to point this out: The South is a cultural desert, across which ride Klansmen on horseback and NASCAR fans in F350 Dually pickups. The cultural center is Wal-Mart, and the occasional tailgater before a lynching. Gunshows are disdained as the domain of pointy-headed intellectuals, because they also sell books. No, really, that’s all true — stay away! For the love of God, stay away!

UPDATE: Reader Phil Manhard emails: “I wish to add that we have fire ants, sinkholes, red tide, shark attacks, huge and regular brush fires, sandspurs, sunburn, hurricanes (though, unexpectedly!, none in the last couple of years). Yes, for the love of God, stay far away!”

And the chiggers. Beastly critters you want no part of. Stay in Massachusetts!
And we are ever so unworldly-- which reminds me of a story.

A friend, I'll call him T, used to live in a very nice older subdivision in Memphis-- large trees and big lots separated by fences. T was very good friends with M, a Brit. M is one of the snottiest, most arrogant, insufferable human beings I've ever met-- Brit or otherwise. How T & M became friends I will never understand. 

Anyway, M was visiting Memphis and T had him over for a cookout. T's neighbor was in her yard, across the fence. As T tells this story, his neighbor was a first-class busy body (as a lot of Southern women are). So she hollers over the fence, "Hey, ya'll," and T is obligated to introduce M. 

She proceeds to chat it up with M, finally asking, "Where y'all from?" 

To which M, in his snotty, most arrogant, insufferable British accent, replies, "Oxford." 

The neighbor gets a funny look on her face and says, "Funny. Ya don't sound like yur from Mississippi."

Oxford, Mississippi is so backward it still has phone booths!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jersy Southern Good Ol' Boy

Lee Habeeb, a native of New Jersey, has an article up at National Review Online. It begins:
I’m a Jersey boy. I was born there, went to high school and college there, and assumed I’d spend the rest of my life there. But though I loved the people and food, the Jersey Shore summers, and short rides through the Lincoln Tunnel to Broadway shows and Madison Square Garden, I gave it all up and moved south. Very far south. I’m not alone.
 And he likes it here! Funny part? He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

As of this writing there are 35 comments. A significant number of them are from long-time Southerners asking him to pipe down. Shhhh. Be quiet. We don't want damned Yankees coming down here and Yankifying (i.e., liberalizing) The South. I didn't feel the need to comment because I feel the same way. It's bad enough that credentialed smart people are crossing county lines to get their kids into my county's good school system. The last thing I want to see happen to Mississippi is what I saw happen in North Carolina. So Lee, hush up.

All in all, it was a good article. BUT,  this was his set-up:
The economic and cultural forces driving this migration south have been ignored by the press. And by the Obama administration.

So I figured this Jersey boy who now calls Oxford, Mississippi, home could explain why. This Yankee turned good ol’ boy could explain the pull — no, the tug — of the South.
[My emphasis.] Oxford turns Yankees into good ol' boys? I suppose that's possible if you are from Jersey, land of no left turns.

I do actually have a soft spot for Oxford. But Oxford is Mississippi only insofar as Oxford really is in Mississippi. Which is why I love Mississippi. Go Dawgs. 

If you don't know what the Egg Bowl is without looking, stay where you are. Go Dawgs.

Tasty: Daikon Miyashige White Radish

Daikon Miyashige White Orgnaic Radishes
Each of these is 6-8" long. Very tasty... not too strong at all. Seed from Botanical Interests. Here's their blurb:

Radish Daikon Miyashige White Organic Heirloom Seed

Raphanus sativus

60 days. Young shredded daikon radishes are often used in sushi, but their light, crunchy, slightly spicy flavor is a unique addition to many other dishes. Mature daikon is pickled or cooked; add to stir-fries or soups. Daikon is a “winter radish,” requiring a longer time to develop than spring radishes, and cool temperatures to mature the edible root. To grow successfully, sow in mid- to late summer or early fall.
This packet plants three 5 foot rows.
Let's think this through. Fifteen feet of 7" radishes is A LOT. Fortunately, if stored in a cool dry place, radish seeds have a shelf life of about five years. (More information of seed storage longevities here.)

"Chicks with guns"

Product Description

Chicks with Guns, Lindsay McCrum has created a cultural portrait of women gun owners in America through photographs that are both beautiful and in a sense unexpected. The book examines issues of self-image and gender through the visual conventions of portraiture and fashion, but the guns are presented here not as superimposed props but as the very personal lifestyle accessories of the subjects portrayed. And it defies stereotypes often associated with aspects of the popular culture of both guns and women. Like the 15-20 million women gun owners in this country, the women we meet in Chicks with Guns ( their portraits are accompanied by their own words), reside in all regions of the country, come from all levels of society, and participate seriously in diverse shooting activities. The women here are sportswomen, hunters, and competition shooters. Some use guns on their jobs and some for self-defense. They may not all be classically beautiful, but in these photographs they all look beautiful, exuding honesty, confidence, poise, power and pride. They are real women with real guns that play a part in their lives. By focusing her camera respectfully on this particular aspect of the American scene, gun-wielding women and girls, Lindsay McCrum sheds new light on who we are in America today.
This looks like a Christmas present! $28.68.

h/t Instapundit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One potato, two potato... .

One of the BIG irritations in my life is the "less than 10 items."

The following rant is prompted by

I’d much rather use self-checkout than wait in the express line behind people who don’t understand the concept of an item limit.

This is going to be a rant. But it might be fun.

There is no such thing as LESS than 10 items. The number of individual items that are smaller than 10 are counted in whole numbers: 1-2-3... 9. When you count such items-- those that we've already stipulated can only be counted by whole numbers, -- "equal to," "more than," and "fewer than ten," are the only grammatically correct ways to make comparisons.

"Fewer" modifies a noun that can be subdivided into whole number increments, even though those increments could be further divided into smaller whole number increments. I have one cup of sugar. You have two. You have more than I. I have 1 1/2 cups. You have 3/4 C. I have twice as much sugar as you do.

On the other hand... 

"Lesser" modifies things that really are not describable in terms of whole numbers."This glass is less full than that one."

I do not expect this blog to get a whole lot of traffic. But I do hope that some who I cajole into stopping by, will. In this post, I'm talking to you.

I know I've asked a lot of you over the years. Thank you. If you could get the fewer than/lesser than thing and spread it around, I would appreciate it. I'm not asking that be grammar Nazis, just that you help me maintain some standards. :-)



Croquembouche, from The Creative Cooking Course (1982), edited by Charlotte Turgeon, 
Weathervane Books, New York, p223

Mr. Big Food has just finished the desserts section in The Creative Cooking Course, a cookbook that weighs seven pounds. By the time he's finished with the book, he'll have spent nearly a year working through every page, culling every recipe deemed fit for his Big Food Manual and Survivalist Flourishing Guide. He'll type each recipe or tidbit of information into an individual Word document. I do not believe this is the most efficient strategy-- you should see the structure of the folders under the main "Recipes" folder!-- but with more than 15,000 recipes, it's too late for him to change his strategy.

I'm not going to post the recipe for this beautiful dessert but please click on the photo to enlarge. Those thin threads are spun sugar. The book contains instructions for making spun sugar. Those are creampuffs, with butter rosettes defining each individual puff.

Mr. Big Food was excited to show me this particular photo this morning. Our wedding cake was a croquembouche. :-) We then skimmed through the desserts section, looking at the pictures. We are talking about some serious cooking and baking here. Does anyone these days do this sort of thing-- in their own home? To me, 1982 doesn't seem that long ago, and yet looking at those pictures of steamed puddings, fondant trimmings, and Christmas frozen custard cake, it seems worlds away.

Foggy fall mornings are beautiful

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Drudge work (links to similar discussions)

I posted a couple of thoughts related to work, pride, and so on. There's a similar conversation going on at Bookworm Room.

Sweet potatoes

O'Henry sweet potatoes

Today is the day! Not that there's anything special about today, but today is the day I decided to dig up the sweet potatoes. And of course, today is the day I didn't look at the radar. We've already had two or three downpours. Not the best weather for pulling sweet potatoes which need to cure in the sun for a day or two. Oh well.

has a different look from the other darker-skin varieties. It is a white-skinned, cream-fleshed sweet potato that cooks up drier than other sweet potato varieties. O'Henry's leaves are green and heart shaped. It's large tubers grow in a compact cluster underneath the plant helping to make harvesting easier. O'Henry has a high yield potential and also stores well. Excellent taste.
I don't know yet about storage, but everything else is true. There are about half as many again still in the ground, so I'd call that a high yield.

This year, I planted my slips-- I think about eight or nine of O'Henry-- in a rectangular planter in front of the house. We have two such planters; another variety is in the second. Sweet potato foliage is beautiful. Indeed, the sweet potato vine that folks plant as greenery in large planters really is a sweet potato-- same species, different variety. (Note to the prepper/survivalists out there, the tubers of the sweet potato vine, while not as large as a variety bred for eating, are edible.) I had several reasons in addition to appearance for planting them in planters. First, I hoped it would be much easier to harvest the potatoes. It is. Second, I hoped the deer wouldn't come so close to the house. They did. But another great thing about growing sweet potatoes is that even if deer strip the plants of almost all their foliage, it will grow back and the potatoes aren't affected.
Planting and growing sweet potatoes is remarkably easy. 

File this under "Big Life"

We have a new pupster! What fun!!


Mr. Big Food knows a thing or two about learning and memory. I once knew something about mammalian growth and development. To watch Rocky gnaw ferociously on his chew toy because he's teething, and to see him learn to associate my feeding our geriatric dog with getting in his box for a treat (so he doesn't mess with Suzy's food) are delightful parts of my day. Now if he'd just get over his shoe fetish... !

(Not sure that long sentence is grammatically correct,  but you get the idea.) 

And now off to dig sweet potatoes!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Something to be proud of

Iopride water melon

IO for Iowa Pride.

100 days — The fruits are dark green with darker green stripes. They are oblong and blocky with sweet, bright-red flesh and a high sugar content. Holds long at maturity. Developed at the University of Iowa for upland soils and for resistance to fusarium wilt and anthracnose (race 1). Although once popular, it has become quite rare. Iopride was developed by Lewis Peterson of the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State.1

From my experience growing this melon I think this is one of the easiest melons to grow. In all the years I have grown it, it has never failed to produce a crop. I have had extremely wet as well as dry and hot seasons, and when others failed, this one always came through for me.

Melons average 25 to 30 pounds and normally have a lot of 40 pound ones. It has a good fruit set.

Like the Tennessee Sweet Potato Pumpkin squash, I got the seeds from New Hope Seed Company. I don't mean to be plugging these guys exclusively. It's coincidence, really. Another company I like a lot? Botanical Interests. Their seed packets are very pretty.

Drudgery, con't

I started a previous post by quoting The Meal Planner's Creed from Meta Given's (1958) Modern Family Cookbook. That post ended with the question: 

When did doing things you want to take pride in become drudgery?

The question relates to "the drudgery of _________ " [fill in some aspect of creating and maintaining a functioning comfortable home]."

I've come across this phase several times in the past few weeks within the context of "X released women from the drudgery of Y," where Y was something that wouldn't really fall under the definition of "drudgery," to begin with.

Well! Lo and Behold!

I'm using bing to search for "drudgery" just now (I'm looking for something very specific) and I see this:
By drudgery, I mean work that in itself is not pleasant, that has no immediate effect in stimulating our best powers, and that only remotely serves the purpose of our general advancement.
I click, and am taken to 

 The Gains of Drudgery from The Making of Manhood (1894) by William James Dawson

Lew Rockwell's post for 9/26/2011-- that would be today!

Here's a key part:
But the gains of drudgery are not seen only in the solid successes of life, but in their effect upon the man himself. Let me take in illustration a not infrequent case. Suppose a man gives up his youth to the struggle for some coveted degree, some honour or award of the scholarly life. It is very possible that when he obtains that for which he has struggled, he may find that the joy of possession is not so great as the joy of the strife. It is part of the discipline of life that we should be educated by disillusion; we press onward to some shining summit, only to find that it is but a bastion thrown out by a greater mountain, which we did not see, and that the real summit lies far beyond us still. But are we the worse for the struggle? No; we are manifestly the better, for by whatever illusion we have been led onward, it is at least clear that without the illusion we should not have stood as high as we do.
Read the whole thing and come back. I'll let this stand alone, even though I've not posted my watermelon picture-- which is where I was headed.

Crappy old stuff: The Meal Planner's Creed

A dear old friend once commented that we "have a lot of crappy old stuff." True. Our Big Life is filled with crappy old stuff-- especially books. From one old cookbook:

The Meal Planner's Creed from The Modern Family Cookbook by Meta Given 
(J. G. Ferguson Publishing Company, Chicago. 1958. p2)

Question. Why do authors continue to include the word "modern" in book titles-- especially cookbooks, books on decorating, fashion, and so forth? I know here "modern" modifies "family" but what family isn't modern? Oh. Those that have a lot of crappy old stuff.

So there's no need to click to enlarge:

The Meal Planner's Creed

The health of my family is in my care, therefore--
I will spare no effort in planning the right kinds of food in the right amounts.

Spending the food dollar for maximum value is my job, therefore--
I will choose from variously priced foods to save money without sacrificing health.

My family's enjoyment of food is my responsibility, therefore--
I will increase their pleasure by planning for variety, for flavorful dishes, for attractive color, for appetizing combinations.

My family's health, security, and pleasure depend on my skill in planning meals, therefore--
I will treat my job with the respect that is due it.
The first thing I wonder is, why a creed? The Modern Family Cookbook also has creeds for Shoppers and Cooks. What is a creed? According to Webster's New School and Office Dictionary (1962), a creed is a "brief statement of belief."

ASIDE: I have several old dictionaries-- I think if you're going to wonder what I'm wondering, you should make some effort to be in the same time frame. I should have referred to a dictionary older than 1958, but unfortunately, my dictionary collection has gaps. I'll look for a crappy old dictionary from the '40s and '50s next time I'm out. Note that this is not the #1 definition given at It is decidedly different.

A meal planner believes four things about herself. (I'll not go PC here. It was 1958. Women did the meal planning. End of story.) She believes she is responsible for her family's health, her portion of the family budget, her family's food experiences, and their security and pleasure! That is a lot of responsibility. But it's her job and she's going to respect it. And what's more, when she finishes planning and shopping and gets down to the business of cooking, she's going to

... take pride in doing an outstanding job of cooking.

(My emphasis.)

IMHO, the our county and culture would be a lot better off if we had more "modern" families.*

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chew on this

I love the photo at the article site. This is the first thing I've stumbled upon from the Food Renegade site and it looks interesting. I'm a little put off by the repeated use of the word, "sustainable," though. But I'll keep my brain open.

hat tip: Instapundit

My take on the question? "Rights" talk is metaphysical talk. I don't do metaphysics. So I get around the whole issue of rights by just saying to folks who assert that I do or do not have a "right" to do X:  
I don't want to be told what to do/eat/say/think/feel. etc. Get out of my garden and kitchen, and stay away from my bookshleves. And while you're at it, get out of my life.
(Don't think I'm an anarchist, though. There are rules.)

Rule aught.

There's a BIG difference between telling what to ..., and discussing the merits of doing  ... . The difference is choice. That's what the linked article is about.


Can you see all four of them?

This is not a good photograph.* I took it behind a window. But still, if you zoom in you should be able to see four Odocoileus virginianus, white-tailed deer. Two are does, the other are fawns-- they were probably born this spring. 

Why the post title? Look carefully. Between the two cedar trees is an expanse of chicken wire. On the chicken wire are a bunch of clothes pins that we use to attach pieces of paper to the wire. Behind the chicken wire is an embankment. That's our shooting range! I can see it from my desk about 85 yards away. 

Note that "food" is a label. I will return to this in November. 

*If you are interested in amateur photography, check out Kat Landreth's blog, Pare and Focus. I'm working through her tutorials and ebook (I'll try to find the link, she sent me a draft). Pare and Focus: Her photography career started because she wanted to take great pictures of the food she prepared. She's an excellent cook.

Tennessee sweet potato pumpkin...

It's the biggest one (12 oz. glass for scale).

or something like that. There's conflicting information on the world-wide web about its proper common name, but according to New Hope Seed Company, where I got the seed, it
was always listed as a pumpkin its [sic] actually more of a winter squash. ... is said to have first been listed in 1847 by New York seedsman Grant Thorburn as Green Striped Bell and most likely re-named by Burpee in 1883 to Tennessee Sweet Potato.
This particular one weighs in at 18 pounds. All told, three plants yielded seven squash, ranging in size from the one pictured to about half that. We have already baked one, basting it frequently with butter. When it was done, we cut it into cubes and froze it (after taking a taste).

And that is one of the things I like most about winter squash! If cured properly, healthy winter squash store well in a basement or cool room for six to nine months; there's no need to process the pulp until you're ready to eat it. I cured the one we froze properly, but it wasn't perfect. It had a bad spot. Most veggies that have problems while still on the vine need to be plucked off and composted/thrown away. But winter squash can be salvaged simply by harvesting as usual, cutting out the bad spot, and eating or freezing.

The other squash in the photo are sugar pie pumpkin, and spaghetti squash. No, that's not a bad spot on the left spaghetti squash. It's just discoloration. As Ann Atlhouse's tomatoes remind us, "... your flaws get counted as beautiful." Shouldn't that be, "as beauty?"

A few comments about New Hope Seed Company, located just north of Memphis. They do not have a wide variety of veggies. But if you want heirloom and open pollinated seeds for a Southern climate, they can't be beat. And their customer service is incredible. On my order last January, I commented that I was disappointed to see that their crop of Old Tennessee Muskmelon had failed, hence seeds were not available. We had really enjoyed it the year before.  Their description:
A very old variety. It has been dropped from commercial catalogs, is rare and seems to be near extinction. The fruits weigh an average of 12 pounds, are 12 to 16 inches in length, and are elliptical or football-shaped. Our family has grown this melon for well over 50 years. This is my personal favorite muskmelon. They must be picked at the peak of ripeness, when the fruit has turned a golden-yellow and they easily slip from vine. They should be dead ripe for the best taste. They do not keep very long. Sweet aroma that will carry over a long distance. Definitely not a shipping melon." This is a garden-to-table melon.
And what did I get in my seed order? A packet of Old Tennessee Muskmelon seeds, and a handwritten note. Talk about Big Life!

Old Tennessee Muskmelon sherbet

Did you know that melon freezes well?

Friday, September 23, 2011

260 pieces of chicken!

An SEC tailgate at which we bar-b-qued 260 pieces of chicken.

This is big BIG food! Let me walk you through the photo. The guy in the white shirt is Mr. Big Food, and the very proud owner of all three grills. Two of the grills-- guess which one?-- our local welding guy, Jesse, made. We had one drum already, and bought the second from a fellow down the road who specializes in junk. We think they are very redneck, but some at the tailgate didn't agree--  too fancy, what with the wheels and trays.

Zoom in on the photo and you'll see, on the table to Mr. Big Food's left, five gallon wine jugs (and in front of them five plastic bowls). Four of them contain different homemade BBQ sauces: horseradish-mustard, beer, teryaki, and dark karo. The fifth jug has the "mop": green tea with a splash of hot sauce. Mop is the key to BBQed chicken. The chicken goes on skin side down and gets flipped once, as is. Then, every time the chicken is turned, it gets mopped liberally. Here in the South grocery stores sell what really are mini-mops for mopping. The mop keeps the chicken moist while it's being grilled. BBQ sauce only gets slathered on at the very last couple of chicken flips.

In total, I think we used six 16-pound bags of charcoal, and six small bags of hickory. I'm still smelling it!

Only 258 pieces of chicken got eaten, though. We dropped two.

And how's this for some Big Life? It was a night game so we had to leave the grills and some other items on campus over night. Next day it was all still there. I love it here. And there's nothing quite like an SEC tailgate. Here are a two more photos.

The grills wait patiently while we pick up the chicken.

Some chicken