Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Little Rant about Heat

I really do not know what I am going to do. Of course I do, but I don't understand why I should care more about doing what I have to do this year as opposed to two years ago. 

The first year we were here the tomato and pepper seeds came to life right on time. 

What is different?

Just passing this along as a public service

From Hit & Run at Reason:
As part of an agreement reached with the Partnership for a Healthier America, the non-profit organization whose honorary chair is First Lady Michelle Obama, the candy bar maker Mars Inc. has agreed to phase out chocolate products that exceed 250 calories per portion. This means that by the end of 2013, consumers will no longer be able to purchase king-sized Snickers bars. In addition, Mars will also need to reduce the size of a standard Snickers bar. It currently contains 280 calories and thus exceeds the new calorie cap by 12 percent. As Contributing Editor Greb Beato explains, Michelle Obama may succeed in reducing chocolate consumption, but she’s also giving Big Candy a major financial boost in the process.
One more thing to put on your list of things on which to stock up. (How could you write that without ending with a preposition?) Here's the link to Beato's article.


Mr. Big Food does love cooking Cajun food. Several years ago he started asking me about mirlitons (also known as vegetable pears, chayote, choko, etc.) which are used in traditional Cajun dishes. I had no idea what he was talking about. But I'm beginning to learn!

"Papa Sylvest's" mirlitons.
Mirlitons, Sechium edule, are in the Cucurbitaceae family-- the family that includes melons and cucumbers. Compared to melons and cucumbers, though, mirlitons have some unique characteristics. For example, they are perennial; each fruit has just one seed. You can read all about-- and I do meal "all about"-- mirlitons at Lance Hill's "A Guide to Growing Mirlitons (Sechium edule) in Louisiana," whose Introduction begins:
The mirliton, a native plant to Mexico, has a long and unique history in New Orleans. Popularly known as Chayote (botanical name: Sechium edule), records of this member of the gourd family indicate that it was grown in New Orleans as early as 1867, and the city is virtually the only major urban area in North America where the mirliton was cultivated throughout the last century.  The proximity to the Caribbean and the large migrations from that area, as well as the banana trade, probably contributed to its popularity.  In the 1920s the U.S. Agriculture department attempted to introduce the mirliton to a broader public in a project based in Homestead, Florida, using varieties imported from Cuba. That project ultimately failed because most U.S. consumers had no idea what this odd vegetable was: was it a squash or a fruit?  It is, in fact, a member of the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae—or Cucurbit for short, and botanists refer to the vegetable as “fruit.”  In the U.S. it took on the name “vegetable pear” in the 1920s when first introduced outside of New Orleans, but lack of consumer demand ended the federally funded project.  The mirliton retreated to New Orleans where eccentricity in music, culture, and even vegetables were well tolerated.  
The “backyard mirliton vine” was a staple of New Orleans homes.   A generally self- sufficient plant resistant to most diseases and pests, homeowners traditionally planted mirlitons to run along fences (the vines can grow to 50 feet), over shrubs, and even straight up trees.  The fruit is highly perishable: within thirty days of harvesting it can germinate and send out a shoot which draws water and nutrients from the fruit causing it to shrivel.  Because the soft inner-seed cannot be planted apart from the fruit shell (the whole fruit must be planted for propagation), the vine was an ideal Fall-yielding crop.  It was a very “sociable” vegetable in that its abundant yield and small commercial market helped create a tradition of backyard growers giving mirlitons to neighbors and “sacking” fruit under the sink to give sprouted seedlings to new growers.  
The tradition of the backyard mirliton (locally pronounced “mel-uh-tawn) was strong only a few decades ago, but in recent years people stopped growing mirlitons, especially as imported varieties from Latin America became available inexpensively and year round.  In 2005, hurricane Katrina brought saline flood waters that destroyed much of the traditional Louisiana mirliton variety.  A few growers retained their plants, but in 2008, hurricane Gustav’s high winds traumatized the vines and virtually wiped out the varieties that had been grown for decades in South Louisiana.  Some growers attempted to propagate imported varieties purchased at local markets, but found that the fruits would not germinate (perhaps a result of new chilling practices) and that the commercial varieties, grown using pesticides and fungicides and bred for uniformity in size and color, were not as disease resistant as the traditional Louisiana varieties and lacked flavor.   

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A lovey meal

Recipes to follow
It would have been interesting to be as smart as I am now-- and I just mean that in a sort of practical wisdom sort of smart-- when I was younger.

Anyhoo... Missy is collapsing. Rocky is steadfast, asleep at Mr. Big Food's feet. And now, she's squeeking her squeeker. Poor thing.

"Yo!" "Yo! you need to calm down. Yo!"

This is funny because she's wigging out right now, and I'm thinking of "Yo! Adrian" because Rocky's full name is Rocky Balboa.

Record keeping: Is 60 too many?

Today I planted tomato seeds in 60 peat pots, so if all goes well, I should have somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 tomato plants to plunk into the ground around the end of April. Looking at this photo of pepper seedlings from two years ago makes me feel as if I am behind-- and I certainly am compared to 2010-- but there's still plenty of time. When it comes to tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and so on, there's just no point planting in the ground before the last of April.

But to answer the question, "Is 60 too many?": No. Not for Mr. Big Food and me! 

Coffee Break

Man, this is so good! Which isn't surprising...
any recipe whose ingredient list begins with "1 stick of butter" has promise!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Today, I planted lettuce seed.

And in a few weeks, I expect to be eating salad
with homemade dressing.
I also planted some 20-day radishes and some 25-day microgreens. And some spinach and 30-35 day radishes. I'll start thinning the early lettuce in about three weeks, the later lettuce and spinach in about four or five. 

Dang, I'm smart.

Six varieties of lettuce, by the way-- days to harvest ranged from 40 to 68. I do love fresh salad.

We need some chickens. We need hard boiled (fresh) eggs.

Why, yes I am!

This is not an endorsement. I haven't a clue who/what this group is.
But I'm sympathetic to the question.
What I take objection to is "government." The government (singular) is populated with people (plural). We call them, "They." 

The answer to the question of proper role is simple. The proper role of a handful of people who have been granted the authority-- by the people-- to defend individual liberties and the borders, and to enforce contracts, is to do just and only that. 

This poster was hanging up at Rhodes College.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We are Home

on the Farm.
Thanks, Jonathan!

Rhodes Trip

Tasteful, in its own peculiar way, don't you think?
Note the complete absence of weeds in the lawns.

The stone is beautiful.
Rhodes College in "historic" Memphis, Tennessee has one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever seen. 

Memphis was inspiring,

A statue of Jefferson Davis in Memphis
but I have to plant the lettuce right now or else we will not have any fresh salads and I am really ready for some fresh homegrown salads.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I apologize. UPDATE

It's a busy time of year. Memphis & Lettuce are calling.

UPDATE! Perhaps I'll have some time to talk about the history of Memphis-- birthplace of the Piggly Wiggly!

Missy weighs 48 pounds.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

And Then, "Poof!"

Rocky Will Be Gone.

Who among us-- that would now be Mr. Big Food & I-- is gong to substitute for Rocky? 

I think we're doing well,

but I guess we'll have to ramp it up a notch. We don't have much time.
We've made great progress on this front. The trick is figuring out who's to blame. 

Two places

at "one" time.

I think I need to adjust the shutter speed, or something.
It is remarkable how far they've come in just five weeks, given my ignorance of the principles of obedience training, etc.

Suzy has begun to wag her tail in situations where tail-wagging would be appropriate. There are two alternative hypotheses for her appropriate tail wagging. To choose between them, I would have to collect data-- and I do not have time to collect behavioral data.

But briefly, here  are the alternatives.

Roasted Chicken of Some Sort

Dang it! I was so excited by the chicken that I forgot to take a photograph of the (homegrown, fresh) carrot, artichoke, etc. fritatta. 

On the way home this evening, Mr. Big Food asked me what we had in the way of dried herbs. We talked about the dried basil, dried celery leaves, etc., from the garden, and about the contents of our spice shelves (pl.), and then it dawned on me! 

I've been kind of distracted today. So it took me a while to organize the things Mr. Big Food was telling me into a story I wanted to care about.

Mr. Big Food used a very small chicken. We can get chickens <3.5lbs. at the Piglet! For the money, they are the best thing going right now. Expect to eat a lot of chicken. Beef isn't going on sale. 

(But it's almost grillin' season. And pork does go on sale.)

You score the skin and insert a clove of garlic and some herbs. And then you baste it with some olive oil (or melted butter or whatever), and put it in the oven. And every 30 minutes or so, you take it out and baste it with the juices and olive oil or whatever. 

Again, this is when it dawned on me!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I cooked this evening

and we thought that was a unique opportunity for them to learn.

They did very well.

They pretty much follow me around, and they have associated prolonged good behavior in the kitchen with tasty rewards.

And they were rewarded.

You should have seen Rocky! He was on his best behavior.

We will miss Rocky, the little mischief. 

Final Thoughts II

This is some public school that's across the street from where we stayed recently.

The blue skies are betraying.

But when we pulled in to check in, and got checked in, Mr. Big Food and I both remarked that the building reminded us of some in Bucharest.

Final Thoughts I (of II, maybe)

Where do I begin?
At the beginning, so not necessarily in order of importance.

I think I could make some claim about what it means to be a flower bed, and that this "bed" did not qualify as a flower bed, but that aside, I take issue with "beautiful."

The pansies were infested with aphids.
Moving on, let's look at "FOR OUR GUESTS ENJOYMENT."

Where to begin? At the the beginning which is GUESTS. Should be GUESTS'. But more interestingly, who is reading this sign? Who are "our guests?" YOU ARE! I AM!  We later come to find that you & I Smoke Cigarettes. Why don't they address you & me? Why do I care about your guests?
I do appreciate the reminder to not butt my cigarette in the beautiful garden.

Here's the thing that bugged me every time I looked at that sign.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lunch at High Noon

Late this morning, someone at High Noon Café in Jackson, Mississippi made me one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches-- I chose the real cheese option-- I've ever had.

For those who just can't quite conjur them up

after reading the NASCAR post, here are the lyrics from the theme song to The Dukes of Hazard, by Waylon Jennings.

Just the good ol' boys,
Never meanin' no harm,
Beats all you've ever saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born.

Straight'nin' the curve,
Flat'nin' the hills.
Someday the mountain might get 'em, but the law never will.

Makin' their way,
The only way they know how,
That's just a little bit more than the law will allow.

Just good ol' boys,
Wouldn't change if they could,
Fightin' the system like a true modern day Robin Hood.


Talk about rain on parades...

NASCAR has banned the General Lee from a lap in the Sprint Cup parade.

A sad day in The South's history:


The clock tower

as seen from The Bowl.

 Where there is charity and wisdom there is neither fear nor ignorance.  
-- St Francis of Assisi

Sunday, February 19, 2012


A grassroots protest movement erupted last month in Poland and spread quickly across the former Eastern Bloc and beyond. The growing opposition against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, has raised questions about the fate of the treaty, which is important to the governments of the United States and other industrialized economies.

There have been street protests across Eastern Europe, attacks on government websites in the Czech Republic and Poland, even a heartfelt apology from a Slovenian ambassador who signed it and then decried her act as “civic carelessness.”

In a region where people remember being spied upon and controlled by oppressive communist regimes, the treaty has provoked fears of a new surveillance regime.
They’re right to be angry, and Americans are wrong to be complacent.

Posted at 1:25 pm by Glenn Reynolds   
[my emphasis]
Links didn't transfer. Here's the permalink at Instapundit.

Funny that I'm seeing this just now, given the brief exchange Mr. Big Food and I had about Ceaușescu just an hour or so ago. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A.L.M. is not going to be in Memphis

In the psychology literature, "they" now use patients' initials, with no punctuation, to talk about people. "They" didn't used to use initials. Everyone knows who Pheneas Gage is. No one-- very few-- knows who HM is.

Arthur. Leland. Morton. is not going to be in Memphis.

And he wasn't here for Thanksgiving, either.

ALM Syndrome. A. Leland is the only one who suffers from it.

State of the Blog

We'll be test driving the conversion of 51/67 cds -- or something like that-- of the Redneck Collection onto Mr. Big Food's mp3 player while we go to Jackson, Oxford, and Memphis in the next week.

A Good Dog

Still trundling along
Much as I love the Old Girl, Suzy lacks the requisite characteristics to be described as an Excellent Dog. But she is a Good Dog. She doesn't have a malicious bone in her under-calcified old body.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Eastern Red Bats on The Farm

I've been spending a lot of time in the Front Pasture.
But it wasn't until this afternoon that I knew we had a population of Eastern red bats in the Front Pasture. 

Unfortunately, I was not carrying my camera. But it was fun, remembering how to be a keen observer.

"Wing" motion. "Wing" shape. Color. Dead trees.

It's not a bird. It's red. Must be an Eastern red bat. Cool.

A New Twist on Life.

There are no pictures. It just happened. Rocky got called. Out. Of. The. Game. In his box--  not his room, his box. 

Mr. Big Food commented as this was all going on, "He's just going to tear up that room." And I said, "That's why he's going in his box." And he said, "Good call."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dawg tired

Just back from Oxford Town and That School Up North (TSUN). Fun as always except for the New Jersey drivers.

Before we left for the Farm, we had a drink upstairs at City Grocery with the TSUN gang. Which reminds me... .

My new issue of Garden & Gun came at some point in my life after Missy came into my Big Life, four weeks ago today! Both Mr. Big Food and I were amused to see that City Grocery's bar was named the #1 "Writers' Retreat" in the 50 Best Southern Bars feature article. I have no physical or mental desire to fetch my hard copy of the magazine right now, so I'll quote the on-line version of what G&G has to say about City Grocery:
City Grocery Bar in Oxford, Mississippi
Faulkner’s gone, but Oxford writers still need whiskey. Enter City Grocery Bar, a magnet for both visiting literati and a prodigious crop of local talent. At this dark second-story spot, bartenders pour grown-up drinks, says chef-owner John Currence. “And those soothe the demons in a writer’s soul.”
Faulkner's gone but you wouldn't know it if you'd ever spent time in Oxford, Mississippi. He lingers everywhere. Even I have a stupid pamphlet in the guest room-- right under  the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting booklet-- about Faulkner and that place he lived. Some people are interested in this sort of crappy old stuff. I try to be a good hostess.

We don't eat dinner at City Grocery as frequently as do our TSUN friends, but Mr. Big Food has been eating at City Grocery for as long as two of them have, 

Look! A radicle!

And no, that's not a misspelling. 

It's emerging from the pea that's circled.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Food for Young Children, especially 4-year olds

Citation information below
By now you've heard about the little kid who walked to work carried her lunch to pre-school only to be forced to eat a school lunch because her mom did not pack a vegetable in her lunch (banana & fruit juice but no veggie). If you don't know what I'm talking about, google "4-year old's lunch confiscated" or something like that.

Not having had any 4-year olds around for some time, I consulted a crappy old cookbook to discover just what Young Children should be eating. From the Introduction to Chapter VI in the Universal Cookbook, I see that
A little child who is carefully fed in accordance with his bodily needs (as these are now understood) receives every day at least one food from each of the following groups:
  1. Milk and dishes made chiefly of milk (most important of the group as regards children's diet); meat fish, poultry, eggs, and meat substitutes
  2. Bread and other cereal foods.
  3. Butter and other wholesome fats.
  4. Vegetables and fruits.
  5. Simple sweets.
Caroline L. Hunt, Scientific Assistant, Office of Home Economics-- who wrote this chapter-- goes on to provide a "good rule" as to amounts and servings from the groups. Each group is then taken up in turn, with milk being dominant throughout.For example, Milk Toast is discussed at length in the Milk, etc. section and mentioned again in the Breads section. (My paternal grandmother used to make my dad milk toast and he tried to get my brother and I to like it. Didn't happen.)

What I'd like to know is how to properly understand the parenthetical, "as these are now understood." It is modifying "bodily needs," but can be taken one of two ways. On one reading, it says "as bodily needs are currently understood." This reading leaves room for changed understanding of children's nutritional requirements. For example, if the expert child nutritionist Nanny Bloomberg decrees it so, simple sweets get taken off the list-- at least until some future mayor of New York City who's also a child nutritionist puts them back on the list. 

More George

Quick link to more on George Washington.

Everything's fine!

Dogs are fine. Seeds are fine.

We have company. Company's fine!

I'll be back.

P.s. Goin' to Oxford, Mississippi to visit That School Up North tomorrow. Should be fine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Proper conditions

Petri dishes, rack, and canister
I have about 10 packets of bean and pea seed that are two-four years old. Under proper conditions, bean seeds remain viable for about three years. I am clearly pushing the envelope especially since my seeds were not always stored under proper conditions.

I have also just received the first of this season's seed orders-- 27 packets. There's another order outstanding. I will plant some seeds (not all!) from each of these new packets, plus some seeds from my pile of old but not too old packets. And maybe some bean seeds from these 10 packets-- we shall see.

What I will not do is plant seeds that will not germinate. And so, I am conducting a test. 

Mississippi Silver

"The pods are silver-green and produced [sic] large, meaty, brown seeds."
Some seeds arrived yesterday! 

I'll be anxious to try these-- fresh blackeyed peas (cowpeas) are far superior to dried blackeyes, in my opinion. I don't even mind shelling peas and beans. It's a fine "idle hands" task-- gives me something constructive to do while I watch my stories.

Recipe: Rice Pilaf Deluxe

De-luxe! Photos and commentary here.


Serves 8

1/3 C butter, plus 3 Tbsp
1 ½ C uncooked rice
1/3 C onion, chopped
1 ½ tsp salt, plus ½ tsp
3 C chicken stock (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics section)
¾ C golden raisins
¾ C pecans, chopped coarse

Heat 1/3 C butter in a heavy skillet, add rice and onion, and cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add 1 ½ tsp salt, chicken stock, and raisins, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Just before serving, heat remaining 3 Tbsp butter in a small skillet, add pecans and remaining ½ tsp salt, and heat 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve rice topped with pecans.

Recipe: Shishkabob D.A. Style

I'm a few days late with the kabaob and rice pilaf recipes. Please forgive me! Photos and context here.

“Serve over rice.”—Mrs. D.A. Weaver (Connie), Ruleville, Mississippi


Serves 4

2 lbs sirloin steak, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
2 medium tomatoes, quartered OR cherry tomatoes
2 medium bell peppers, quartered
2 medium onions, quartered


1 C soy sauce
¼ C bourbon
¼ C brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ C vinegar

Combine Marinade ingredients, and marinate meat, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms in mixture for 4 to 6 hours in refrigerator. Alternate meat, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes on skewers. “Best when cooked over charcoal fire.” Make a gravy using drippings and ½ C marinade.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Look how calm we are

when she has biscuits in her hands!"
Mammalian growth and development is really fascinating. Last week-- last Monday-- I picked each of them up and stepped on the scale. They both weighed in at 41 lbs. This week, the density that is Rocky asked not to be picked up; Missy was o.k. with it. She's gained three pounds and is approximately* seven inches longer (base of tail to ear) than he.

[*I say approximately because it's not easy measuring dogs using a bathroom scale and fold-out measuring stick. I thought a regular pull out carpenters' tape would freak them out.]

Check out Fion!

If you're in or around Austin, check out Fion in Steiner Ranch. There's a Valentine's Day Special that's running all week, I believe. 

And if you're not in or around Austin, check out Fion's site on the World Wide Web for Chef Albert's recipe of the month.

Fion is good BIG. You can take our word for it.

Recipe: Sausage Popover Pancake

Use cheap pie plates
What a treat! Missy behaved quite well in the kitchen, as we knew she was able.

Mr. Big Food used homemade Italian sausage, which we made a week ago.

Sunday Supper
Recipe below the fold.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Missy's Life & Supper

It was a good meal.

February 12

As you are well aware, today is the anniversary of Lincoln's birth. I have nothing more to add.

In 10 days, we will celebrate the anniversary of Washington's birth. So let's PARTY!

From his Farewell Address [note that I found it in several crappy old books, but copy/paste sure does make life easier]: 
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

Let's go!

Missy and I had just come in from about 40 minutes in the pasture when C. asked if I wanted to take the dogs to the pasture. Sure! Why not? Let's go!!

It went well.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How about dinner & a movie?

Not tonight, thanks. Perhaps some other time?
We were going to watch Bonnie and Clyde this evening. It would have been a perfect evening for a movie. It's forecast to be about 18* tonight. I've already got a good fire going. The Tex-Mex casserole of tortillas, chicken, and stuff is in the fridge soaking up the sauce. It just needs to bake. The kitchen's clean. The dogs are tired out (for now).

Thanks to a dog who should know better but will remain nameless, we are now staring down the barrel of a dominoes evening. Which is o.k. I like playing dominoes. They are more indestructible than DVDs. 

Very Good Recipes

How about this? Big Food Big Garden Big Life is listed on page 102 of Very Good Recipes dot com.

There's only so much one man can take.

served over rice with golden raisins and the last of the Texas pecans.
And Mr. Big Food hit the end of the line yesterday. Time to do some Friday night grillin'! He called it "a harbinger of things to come." Indeed.

But wait! Didn't we have grilled steak last Friday? Indeed we did. (But we didn't listen to The Redneck Collection last Friday night.)

So that's two gillin' Fridays in a row. It's a foreshadowing-- although you wouldn't know it today. It's cold as the dickens out there.

I'll post the recipes later today.

Friday, February 10, 2012

My day

Indulge me.

After a couple of cups of coffee, and some short trips outside, and breakfast, it's now time to take them on a run in the pasture.

There's an hour and one half of my day. 

We do it twice a day.

How to reinforce a stereotype?

Do something stereotypically stupid, like proposing to rename the Gulf of Mexico: Mississippi House Bill 150. I commented on this yesterday. And now I'm seeing it All over the World Wide Web. From Jazz Shaw (read the whole thing) at Hot Air:
I’m not entirely sure where one state legislature comes up with the power to start renaming international bodies of water, but I still find this idea really exciting. Imagine the possibilities! In a tit for tat move, Mexico could rename the Gulf of California. (Take a look at the map… the Gulf of California doesn’t even touch California. It’s entirely bounded by Mexico.) And for those of you who never really trusted out neighbors to the north, we could rename Lake Huron to something like… Lake Ted Nugent. (Suck it, Canada!)
One more reason folks should stay away from Mississippi.

Cruisin' along

as if all is right with the world.

This is just wrong. 

First of all, I do have a name. You'd think the all-stars at NR could hire someone capable of inserting my name in the salutation.
From the text of the email:
You could spend the week of November 11th raking leaves and cleaning gutters while you Monday morning quarterback the election results. Or, if you took the wiser course, you’ll be spending that week enjoying seven sunny days and cool nights sailing the balmy tropics, mixing and mingling... .
Blah blah.

Here's a news flash for Rich, Kathryn, Jonah and the gang. You put your pants on the same way I do. 
Furthermore, I don't think the tenses agree in that quote. Could. Will. Shouldn't it be "You'd" as in "You would?"

[UPDATE: I don't think "tenses" is correct on my part. Maybe if I have some time today, I get out a crappy old grammar book and look this up.]

My Big Life does not include shelling out two grand to be on a boat with a bunch of all stars. 

Good thing this isn't a political blog!