Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I tried

to think of something to talk about that didn't involve The Dogs. Can't be done. All of the interesting stories these days start with The Dogs, or Logic, or Supper.

She's the darkest shadow, right there in the middle. The shadow with a tail.

Recipe: Sausage Sauerkraut Soup

The winner-- so far-- in the Fall/Winter Soup Contest. Photos and description at the link below.

Oh my gosh! It says, "stirring to mix well." Don't do that!


Serves 4

1 ½ C cooked chicken, chopped
8 oz smoked Polish sausage link, chopped (preferably homemade—see recipes in Meats section)
1 small potato, pared and cut into ½ inch cubes (about ¾ C)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes (about ½ C)
½ C onion, chopped
½ C celery, sliced
10 ¾ oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
8 oz can sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp dried dillweed, crumbled
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ C chicken stock (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics section)

In (at least a 3 ½ quart) slow cooker, combine all ingredients in order listed, stirring to mix well. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 10-12 hours, or on high heat setting for 4 ½ -5 ½ hours.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Companion post: If Rocky is Trying, Missy is Learning

It's never been very clear to me how "learning" is measured in the real world, but you should take my word for it that Missy is learning at an astonishing rate!! 

UPDATED. Rocky is trying so hard to be a Good Dog

Most of the time, he's choosing to make the correct-- as far as I'm concerned-- choice at a number of different choice points. 

The Best Fall/Winter Soup (in the Contest)

I believe this is Entrant #7 in our Fall/Winter Soup Contest. I think both Mr. Big Food and I enjoyed our brief discussion of a couple of others, especially the Slow Cooker Potato Cheese Soup with Wieners soup that I'd had as the winner up until this evening. But in the short run, it was unanimous. The winner-- so far-- in the Fall/Winter Soup Contest is...

Sausage Sauerkraut Soup in a Slow Cooker!
I am going to see if I can sit here and write about this soup without mentioning The Dogs other than to say that as I was typing "without mentioning The Dogs," my little internal chitchat said, "Ah, here comes Rocky!"

The thing about the soup is its layers. 

[Rocky was so good tonight,

Recipe: Oven Meal of Chicken, Potatoes, Beans and Apple Cake

Here's the commentary and photos of last evening's oven meal. We substituted green beans for lima beans, and made pear cake rather than apple. And we did desire whipped cream on our cake, thank you very much.

Pear Cake Deluxe with whipped cream

One more thought about oven meals in general. It strikes me that an oven meal would be ideal for an evening when company's coming. I can't remember which crappy old cookbook I read this in, but a hostess should do her best to entertain company, not be in the kitchen the whole time. Oven meals make this possible.

Recipes for Oven Fried Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes, Buttered Lima/Green Beans, and Apple (or Pear) Cake Deluxe-- all baked together at 350* for an hour and a half-- below.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

More Dawgs.

For Ann

Look around to read about Rocky & Missy and our Big Life here in rural Mississippi.

Miss Manners

Missy had-- continues to be having-- a tough night, even though she had a good day.

I think she misses Rocky. It's amazing how quickly he picked up on my suggestion that he set a good example. But since it's the weekend, and Daughter C has been home for some portion of it, we haven't seen much of Rocky lately. And Missy really is forgetting her manners.

Oven Meal

Oven Meal of Oven Fried Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes, Baked Lima or Green Beans, and Apple or Pear Cake Deluxe.
"That year in Virginia was a really good year for us." said Mr. Big Food. 

"Yes, it was," said I.

That was the year Mr. Big Food discovered Oven Meals and Broiler Meals. The Big Food Manual includes over two dozen such meal recipes. Oven and Broiler Meals combine a meat, a starch, a green or yellow veggie, and a dessert that bake/broil for the same amount of time at the same temperature. It's nice to have a couple of dozen meal recipes on hand. 

The meal recipes themselves come from a pamphlet-style cookbook published by the New Jersey Department of Power. [Mr. Big Food told me what the official name is and I wasn't paying attention. I'll get it.]

Prep time for this meal was just under one hour. It bakes for 1.5 hours at 350*. About 1/2 way through we stopped to check the cake. 

It was Pear Cake Deluxe because

[Oh. She is so pathetic right now. She's squeaking a squeaker thinking that I'm going to pay attention. I am not.]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I think she's starting to have some Life in her eyes.

She's experiencing more and more Freedom.
And with Freedom, comes Responsibility. If you want the Freedom to run around like crazy, you have to take Responsibility for your actions. LEARN.

My biggest fear is that the china cupboard will come down. 

And so, I'm teaching them to STOP. It's working pretty well. I didn't realize it, but I must have been issuing STOP commands on a timely schedule. Late in the day, when we are all worn out, they stop of their own accord and look at me. 

Good Puppies.

So this is my gripe about all of the dog training stuff I see on line. There's no sense of real life. So I am figuring it out for myself.

Here's what I've learned so far. 

Lunch Buffet $7

At the Quick Stop & Deli
I had never seen a Quick Stop & Deli ad in our local newspaper before this week. The place always looks busy to me when I pass by or run in. Pat recently did some remodeling to the restaurant part of the Quick Stop, so maybe it's just a reminder.

We should eat at the Quick Stop more often. (The reminder worked!) 

Recipe: Homemade Sausage with Sage

Every grocery day, Mr. Big Food takes a look at the pork section and if there's a cut (or two) that's priced right we buy it. When we get home, the cut, date, and weight are recorded in a spreadsheet, and the pork is put into the deep freezer. 

Every few months Mr. Big Food gets out his meat grinder and has himself a sausage making day. He makes it in double, triple or gradruple batches and freezes 1 lb. portions. The beauty of this is that we have several months of sausage, and we know exactly what's in it. Oh. And it tastes better than store bought. 

Last night's Breakfast for Supper featured Sweet Potato Waffles with Homemade Sausage with Sage. 

Recipe: Sweet Potato Waffles II

"Chicken Casserole XXI" would not be particularly noteworthy in my book. But "Sweet Potato Waffles II" is really something to note, especially since we still have a small pile of sweet potatoes from last fall.

The recipe comes from 500 Delicious Dishes from Leftovers. Mr. Big Food is almost finished scouring this crappy old cookbook looking for new additions to The Big Food Manual. Volume 3 is cakes!

The recipe in Big Food begins, 

“Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and serve with roast duck or turkey.”—The Encyclopedia of Cooking Complete in 24 Volumes, Volume 2: 500 Delicious Dishes from Leftovers (1953)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tornado Room

I'm no expert on the weather-- much less the climate-- in Mississippi in January. But the word I'm hearing is that this is an unusually warm January. Mind you, our first winter here was unusually cold, and our second winter here was unusually snowy. 

There have already been some tornadoes in Alabama and Texas.

So I thought that it would be smart to clean up the laundry room-- the most interior room-- the room into which three people and three dogs and one cat might eventually wind up.

Breakfast for Supper

Sweet potato waffle batter
Breakfast for Supper is a fine concept; one that's frequently mentioned in crappy old cookbooks.


Tonight we watched Friday Night Lights, the movie. Just at the crescendo, we paused to  

I'm glad we live in The Sovereign State of Mississippi

Mr. Big Food and I were talking yesterday about a firearms purchase. We have something very particular-- and quite ordinary-- in mind. I also need a holster for one of my side arms. We're not sure, though, if Gary's in West Point would have what we are looking for. But fortunately, we'll be heading The Capital City soon. There's an attraction just outside Jackson, and we're pretty sure we'll be able to find what we want there.

I call it an "attraction" because that's what the State of Mississippi calls it. I'm not kidding. Just before exit 48 on I20 in Pearl there's a green sign that says "ATTRACTIONS" and under the heading it says "Bass Pro Shop." It attracts quite a number of folks.

They do not run a background check on us at Gary's because we have concealed carry permits. I'm not sure if they will at Bass Pro Shop. But in any case, we will wake up in the morning, go to Bass Pro Shop, and drive back to the farm with a new firearm. I'm hoping we can also squeeze in some Indian food.

Recipe: Chicken Smothered with Onions

I took no photos, but last night's supper was very good. We had some home grown corn on the cob to "go with," as we say. I would not categorize this dish as quick & easy, just very good.

Serves 4

1 ½ Tbsp butter
3-3 ½ lb chicken, quartered
Salt, pepper, to taste
2 large onions, white or yellow, sliced
¾ C dry white wine
2 bay leaves
14 ½ oz chicken stock (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics section)
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp water
¼ C whipping cream
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Melt butter in heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of chicken quarters with salt, pepper, and lots of paprika. Cook chicken about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until it just begins to turn color. Transfer chicken to platter, add onions to drippings in skillet, stir to coat onions, reduce heat, cover, and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set chicken quarters on top of onions, and add wine and bay leaves to skillet. Increase heat and boil about 8 minutes until most of the wine has evaporated and mixture is syrupy. Add broth and heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken to platter and tent with foil. Combine flour and water, stirring until smooth. Stir into broth in skillet. Add cream and nutmeg, and boil about 8 minutes or until mixture has thickened to sauce consistency, stirring occasionally. Return chicken to skillet and cook until heated through. Serve topped with onions and sauce.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tough Love

Remember that? Daughter C is tough.

Today is Missy's One Week Anniversary here at the Farm. 

In retrospect, it was sort of nuts to bring a new Big Dog into the mix when we had Company and had to go to Memphis, Tennessee. But when would have been a better time? 


I should look up the history of this word. 

Meanwhile, I take exception to this:
That said, I’m certainly open to the possibility that diminishing some types of elite ignorance would improve our society. But I’m skeptical that what we need to have a better elite is the kind of knowledge Murray emphasizes.
This assumes we need an elite class, right? 

Here's the link. This is not a political blog, per se.
We-- I think I can speak for Mr. Big Food here-- are not particularly elitist, although we know some who are. 

Recipe: Swiss Steak

What a day! 

Here's the recipe for last night's Swiss Steak. We/he-- whoever-- did it in a cast iron skillet and baked it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Swiss Steak in a Cast Iron Skillet

First you fry it, then you bake it.
Mr. Big Food served Pillsbury Crescent Rolls™ with it. Tasty. Recipe when we return from Memphis.

Homegrown tomatoes, of course. 
See Shoestring Manor for more on cast iron.

Goin' to Memphis.

Memphis, Tennessee.

The dogs will present some challenges early in the morning, but it'll be worth it. I don't mind going to Memphis every couple of months.

Memphis sure has changed since the first time I was in Memphis with Mr. Big Food quite some time ago.

Thwarting a box break

Not quite kissy face

Here's the set up. I keep them separated by two doors most of the day. (I do have a life and there are chores to do.) Several times each day-- four so far today-- they have visitation. By that I mean play time, and by that I mean play fighting time. This is allowed only in one or two rooms where there's nothing breakable. I stop the play several times, wrap my arms and legs around her, and wait, and wait and wait until she calms down. When she has, play resumes. After the final STOP, she goes into her box. He typically mills around, and depending on what I'm doing, settles in by her door.

My thinking is that they are eventually going to be together in the whole house and so she needs to learn how to settle down with him. 

Just now I'd left them long enough to get a drink of water. I returned just in time to see...

Recipe: Scampi al Forno

Really easy and really really delicious.


“Baked Shrimp”


Serves 6 (about)

2 lbs large fresh shrimp, uncooked, shells removed to leave shell on tail section, deveined, washed under cold running water, drained on paper towels
1 stick butter
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
¼ C chopped parsley
2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Hot fluffy rice (for serving)

Preheat oven to 400o. Place butter in 13x9x2 inch baking dish and heat in oven until melted. Stir in salt, garlic, and 1 Tbsp parsley. Place shrimp in baking dish in a single layer. Bake 5 minutes. Turn shrimp, sprinkle with lemon peel, lemon juice, and remaining parsley, and continue baking about 15 minutes or until tender. Serve shrimp with sauce over rice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



Man's Best Friend

DISCLAIMER: I'm sure the information exists. I just haven't found it, yet.

I am learning that due to Missy's alleged pedigree, I can expect a dog that ranks on the + sd side of life in all things that matter to me. 


Missy might have the propensity to be a "working dog." The former owner of the Farm had sheep. We will not. 

Missy might have the propensity to be a "guard dog."  What is she guarding against? How do you teach friend from foe? Staffordshire Terriers are reported to have very good intuition.

I expected the online literature to be better. Maybe it is a good thing I have some crappy old books.

Read my beefs below.

Dee-- licious! UPDATED

UPDATE: Recipe here.

I bet if it were possible to do a Word Cloud (based on frequency) of the non-trivial words that have been uttered in our kitchen, "delicious" would be very Big. 

It was dee--licious!

It's served over rice. Just ordinary regular rice (not UB's, not Min.) with some chopped green onion. Be sure to spoon the butter-garlic-lemon rind drippings over the rice.

Missy needs to go look at the stars.


North Mississippi Commentor has a post up with many photos of an old dogtrot house. From that infallible source, Wikipedia:
A dogtrot house historically consisted of two log cabins connected by a breezeway or "dogtrot", all under a common roof. Typically one cabin was used for cooking and dining while the other was used as a private living space, such as a bedroom.
From Tom's post:
Its appeal for me is largely the degree to which it was a classic and did not seem to have been altered much over the years.

I don’t think it’s going to last much longer, sad to say.
Full post here. Check it out. Beautiful photos.

Veggie Night Recipes: Carrots & Spinach

Delicious. And easy!  Photos here.

I cooked the carrots and spinach before Mr. Big Food got home. Carrots first followed by spinach (in the carrot water). Before we turned in we put up several pints of vegetable broth. Nutritious.


4 C carrots, peeled, sliced, cooked, and drained

1 medium onion, chopped

3 Tbsp butter

¼ tsp pepper

10 ½ oz can condensed cream of onion soup

1/3 C melted butter

1 C shredded cheese

2 C prepared stuffing, crumbled (see recipes in Stuffings section)

Preheat oven to 350o. Fry onion in butter. Stir in soup, pepper, and cheese, combine with carrots, and pour into a greased casserole. Toss stuffing with melted butter and spoon over carrot mixture. Bake 20 minutes.

Keep reading for Spinach Loaf recipe.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Carrots and spinach: I & I

Carrot Casserole I

Spinach Loaf I
Recipes forthcoming.

I don't remember when I've had such good spinach. Or carrots, for that matter.

My seed order list includes more carrots. In general, they don't seem to mind the clay as much as I thought they would, especially since I till in a lot of peat.

Missy & "[o]ne further point"

Please excuse the state of the floor-- it's taken a beating these last few days.
Each of the parquet tiles is 6" square: elbow to paw tips = 1'; body length approx. = 2'. 

Daughter C advised me to break her of a bad habit or two, while I still can. Good advise! And so, after having done some less than abundantly fruitful basic research on the World Wide Web, I resorted to pulling a crappy old book off the shelf.
One further point before we go on to the details of training and housebreaking. Never, under any imaginable circumstances correct or discipline your dog when you have called him to you, or when he has come to you of his own accord. ... You have only to put yourself in his position (a very good idea when considering any aspect of training, incidentally)... . The Complete Dog Book (1961)
Also, do not use her name when correcting her. It's an associative learning thing, I think.
More Misc. thoughts below.

Recipe: Split Pea and Smoked Turkey Soup

This was the 6th entrant in our Fall/Winter Soup Contest. For my money, it's a solid second place. There are no photographs, but it's a very photogenic soup-- lots of flecks of color against a nice creamy background. As with many of the entrants, this one was even better as leftover lunch. 

Two adjustments: We didn't use the dried tomatoes. We used 6 cups of chicken stock + 1 cup of water, rather than the 5 + 2 the recipe calls for. 

Links to previous entrants here (at #5).

Recipe below the fold.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Community & Co. w/UPDATE

This is a scheduled post. I started it days ago. I'm finishing it now. Go to the home page and scroll down if you need to get caught up.

We have Company from out of town. On his first evening here, after supper, we invited Mr. Co. to take a look at our local weekly newspaper. I'm sorry I no longer have the front page to scan so you could see for yourselves, it was put to use this morning (Missy is not yet house-trained), but as I recall one of the front page stories was about the folks who received award buttons for their outstanding service at the local hospital.

It is hard to not be charmed by the local paper. (Mr. Big Food especially likes the "25-50-75 Years Ago Today" page. I avoid that one.) Mr. Co. continued reading through it, and when he'd finished-- it takes longer than you'd expect-- he looked up and said, "Ah, it's a community" in a very interesting accent.

Big Life.

Back to now-- in retrospect, we spent a fair amount of time talking with Mr. Co. about values, although no one came out and said as much, except when Mr. Co. & Mr. Big Food were talking about Aristotle & stuff.

Oh! Em! Gee!

At Daughter C's suggestion, I am perusing the World Wide Web seeking information on training a German Shepherd Dog - Labrador Retriever Dog mutt, otherwise known as a "Labrashepherd" or "Sheprador." (OMG, r u kidding me?) The first three pages of search results contained a great number of Qs and As at dog forums, and general websites devoted to answering questions disseminating misinformation.

I have a few questions, myself. 

1. How hard is it to put your pinky finger on the shift key (or hit that little ↑ button on your iPhone) so as to type "I" rather than "i," as in "I have a question"? 
i will be getting a 3/4 lab 1/4 shepherd mix in a month, it will be 2 months old when i get it. i wanted to read up on books on them, but wanted to no if it was ok to read books bout a labrador. will it be the same or not?
there r things i want to no, to.

Everyone should have one

His or her very own shooting range, that is.
It's quite the setup. Between the two cedars is strung some chicken wire. Attach by clothespins are some paper plates. On and near the blue plastic thing are coffee cans-- for shotgun practice.

They spent over two hours out there on a gloomy afternoon.
One of these guys is a first-time gun owner! Yippee!! The four of them came out a few hours earlier than the rest of those who attended yesterday's gathering. Isn't that considerate? Mr. Big Food and I put our loaded handguns away because there were kids. Isn't that considerate? 

The only one who wasn't considerate yesterday was poor Missy. She had a tummy ache, so her inconsideration was understandable. 

I still have to post the recipe for the latest Fall/Winter Soup Contest entrant. I have a post in the works about our house guest and his thoughts on rural Mississippi, which he liked very much. But first there's furniture rearranging and floor scrubbing and laundry. I'll be back. 

The camera wasn't the only thing I was shooting. I did well enough, so did Mr. Big Food. But we should practice more. I mean, it's not like we don't have our own shooting range, now is it?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"A part of America I've never seen."

That's what our house guest said last evening after we'd finished supper-- the fifth entrant in our Fall/Winter Soup Contest. 

As I am able, I'll post the recipe and some photos. It was lovely. I'm ranking it #2. 

Today will be a BIG day for everyone here at the Farm. There's a gathering! Children are coming. And it rained last night so there's no going outside.

Dear Lord, give us strength.

Friday, January 20, 2012

You know what the alternative is? UPDATED

The alternative is you go get in your box.

I would never have dreamed that I'd have to command Rocky to get up on the bed with Mr. Big Food. But that's just what I had to do. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Rocky has a new friend!
[Note to family: The Suz is still with us. And is doing remarkably well in the face of today's utter chaos.]

In for a penny, in for a pound. If you're going to have a perfectly proportioned eight month old Stafforshire Terrier (mix) midget, you might as well have an almost five month old German Shepherd/Lab giant to balance the scale.

Missy-- whose former name was "Audrey" (??)-- is doing well, all things considered.  "Missy" because it became evident that she needs to learn some manners, as in Miss Manners, & Miss M. who is a stickler for manners.

What are these "all things" we are considering? 

A Good Frosty Morning to You!

There is a BIG-- and I'm talking BIG-- brisket marinating in the fridge! I predict that in fewer than 60 hours, every last bite of it will be gone. 

Busy and exciting day in store. There will be photographs. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This is my attempt to blackout 
Big Food, Big Garden, Big Life 
in protest of internet censorship, 
SOAP (HR 3261) and PIPA (968). 
Please go here to contact your Senators.  
(SOPA is on hold in the House.) 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This is not a political blog, per se, part 2

It's a blog about big food, big gardens, and my big life,

inspired by some Big Guys.

Good night.

See you Thursday.

Problem bread

My pal Aggie, who lives down on the Gulf Coast, is learning how to bake bread in a brick oven. Apparently, one of her attempts didn't go too well. But you know they say, "When brick ovens give you problem bread, make croutons!"

She's got photos and the recipe here. They look delicious. 


The brick oven link takes you to Wikipedia. (I won't say, "infallible source," as I usually do.) You have fewer than 10 hours to follow that link before English Wikipedia goes dark for 24 hours.

Do it Yourself *IF* You Can

Made in USA. No, really!
Out here in rural Mississippi we Rednecks mostly do most things for ourselves. We replace batteries and change the oil in our equipment. We saw down trees for own firewood. We do our own laundry. A lot of us grow as much of our own produce as we can. And we unclog our own drains. 

This is not to say that we don't ask for help when we need it. Jody at the hardware store in town was very helpful. I had a pretty good idea how this contraption worked because I had consulted the World Wide Web before going to town. But it was nice to have him show me. I suppose I could have watched a video online, but that assumes I have access to a video.

Let us imagine that the World Wide Web went black-- maybe the electricity went out or maybe someone much smarter than I who works for Uncle Sam just felt like pulling the plug on YouTube so I couldn't watch a how-to video.

Please note: in less than 13 hours the English Wikipedia will be blacked out globally to protest SOPA and PIPA.

Then what would I do? I would consult Popular Science Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedia (1956), Volume 3, page 723, "Coil Spring-Steel Auger." What would you do?

Information redundancy is a good thing.

[Information on SOPA (House) and PIPA (Senate) is available all over the World Wide Web. Read all about it while you still can!]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spicy Frozen Cucumbers

How to enjoy an abundant harvest of cucumbers if you don't want pickles
I cannot believe that I didn't blog about spicy frozen cucumbers last fall! Maybe we'd finished putting them up before I started talking to myself.

Spicy frozen cucumbers are an excellent fresh salad substitute, especially this time of year. Believe it or not, they stay remarkably crunchy. I was going to say "crispy" and then I remembered that "crispy" was code for "fattening." And they are not fattening.

As displayed at nutrientfacts.com
They may be a little salty-- which I love-- but they are not fattening!

Recipe & a tip or two below.