Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Checking in

It rained.


I lost my temper with The Dogs and each spent a considerable amount of time in his/her room/box this evening. 

At issue was how they behaved when they were taken out after a rain. Rocky went leashless. Missy did not. There was a small window of rain-free time. I tried to maximize it by letting Rocky out and taking Missy out. At the same time.

I will not be pulled around the yard.

After about an hour & a half of isolation, they both seem much more amenable to behaving appropriately.

True Greek Oregano

One dehydrator batch
True Greek oregano is a wonderful herb. From Botanical Interests:
Perennial. True Greek oregano is the superior, true culinary type of oregano prized by Italian and Greek chefs. It is highly aromatic and flavorful, combining superbly with fresh tomatoes or tomato sauces, egg and cheese combinations such as omelets and quiche, marinated vegetables, meat, fish and poultry. A good container variety. 


Cut branches when needed after the plant is at least 6" tall. Some oregano experts claim the best flavor comes just before plant flowers. Pruning off the branches also encourages fullness and fresh, new growth on the plant.
I'm with the experts on this one. I cut some yesterday, put it in the dehydrator, and left for about an hour. We returned to an oregano aroma home. Wonderful!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I was promised rain.

It has not rained in quite some time.

I want to believe that the sky is free.

When we first began looking for a piece of property of respectable size, we shopped around in eastern Kentucky. It was then and there I learned that ownership of surface property does not necessarily entail ownership of the minerals beneath the surface, or the timber above.

You may not have the "rights" to the minerals and timber on your land.

In a common sense world, that don't make no sense. But there it is. Someone sold off his right to his minerals and look what it got you.

I want to believe that if we struck crude here on the Farm, we'd be rich! [Spoiler: The link is the Wikipedia entry on The Beverly Hillbillies.]

Berry Picking

Some danged BIG berries! (Photo taken with my phone.)

Since last Thursday, I've been told by a reliable authority the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (part of the United States Department of Commerce) that it will begin raining today and will continue to rain through Friday. I was also told to expect frigid temperatures late in the week.  Consequently, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish before the rains set in and it got cold. (Mid-70s is pretty chilly.)  Picking dewberries was on my list.

One 28 ounce coffee can, or about two pounds, of fresh dewberries, picked this morning
Part of my family's food heritage is berry picking. The Girls picked strawberries and blueberries from you-pick farms when they were little. Along with my parents, my sibling and I picked wild berries from roadsides and abandoned country farms and fields. My grandmother picked wild berries almost her whole life-- not until the day she died but on the very day she died while picking berries. We all picked berries back in the crappy olden times. So while I was picking berries I was thinking about berry picking.

Berry picking teaches important lessons.

  1. Go/Be prepared. I had a gun and a knife and a couple of coffee cans and some gloves and my phone. I forgot my camera. I wore steel toed boots, long pants, hat, and a light, loose long-sleeved shirt. But I forgot to hose myself off with Deep Woods Off (TM)-- a very dumb thing to do when venturing into the deep woods. Thankfully, I was prepared at home. I knew exactly where the tweezers were. Stupid ticks.
  2. Do not pass over small berries while searching for large berries. Two small berries = one large berry. The goal is to fill the coffee can with berries, not to impress your neighbors.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Smoke & Windows

The view from the kitchen window
I did some more berry scouting today.

I need to figure out an efficient way to harvest the many many small ripe berries.
We had another summer salad. I pulled the red carrots, and tested the rest.

We gnawed on things covered in homemade blue cheese dressing.

As I write, Rocky & Missy are reestablishing some boundaries... remembering some rules.

And are now both crashed. On opposite sides of the room. 

Really? Mississippi & Memorial Day

When I typed up that last post on Decoration Day, I did not know about the ladies in Columbus, Mississippi in 1866. Thanks to my senator's email, I do now. 

Wicker Remembers America’s Fallen Soldiers

Mississippians Helped Inspire National Observance of Memorial Day

Each year on Memorial Day, Mississippians gather to remember the patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  The solemn ceremonies across our state are heartfelt displays of thanks and respect for the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.  I am honored to take part in the Memorial Day events in a number of Mississippi’s small towns this year.

Civil War Beginnings

Mississippians have commemorated the service of fallen soldiers for nearly 150 years.  The beginnings of today’s Memorial Day can be traced back to April 25, 1866, when a group of women in Columbus placed flowers on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers at Friendship Cemetery.  The generosity of these women in decorating every soldier’s marker earned national attention and inspired the poem “The Blue and the Gray” by Francis Miles Finch.

As the third verse describes, “From the silence of sorrowful hours, The desolate mourners go, Lovingly laden with flowers, Alike for the friend and the foe.”

Others across the country may have decorated the graves of Civil War soldiers in their communities, but the Library of Congress describes the gesture of the women in Columbus as “more generous in its distribution of the tributes of honor and mourning.”  It played a meaningful role in the emergence of Memorial Day as a national time of remembrance.

Read the rest below. If you don't know what Honor Flight is, please learn. 

Decoration Day

Red, white & blue
Rhode Island made Memorial Day-- not Decoration Day which was originally honored soldiers killed in the Civil War and was observed only in the northern states-- a legal holiday in 1874. By 1910 all states and territories had done likewise except Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. [According to my crappy old Encyclopedia Britannica (1962) whose entry for "Memorial Day" refers me to the entry on Decoration Day.]

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Suzy Remembered,

by Mr. Big Food's Dad.

I have been trying to come up with something  appropriate regarding Suzy...Try this one...Google “Rainbow Bridge Poem”...and I think you’ll enjoy what you find...Love from Texas,

In the scheme of things, I have one of the best Fathers-in-Law ever.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Suzy remembered

Photo from Miss M.

I call "CS"! UPDATED

UPDATE. It also has nothing to do with interstate commerce.  

Via The Hill, "Feinstein, other senators propose federal standards for egg-laying hens"
"The egg industry brought this legislation to Congress and has asked us to help them implement the uniform regulations needed to survive and grow," she said. "The egg industry and the Humane Society are lock-step in their support for this bill. They are joined in endorsing the bill by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Consumer Federation of America."
CS is similar to BS; the animal changes but the S still stinks. Federal standards for egg-laying hens asked for by the egg industry.

Here are a few things to consider: [It's go to town day today so I don't have much time to research this thoroughly right now.]

The "egg-industry" is United Egg Producers:
United Egg Producers (UEP) is a Capper-Volstead cooperative of egg farmers from all across the United States and representing the ownership of approximately 95% of all the nation's egg-laying hens. Of the total farm members, 34 serve on the Board of Directors and they along with several others serve on various committees. We, therefore, think of UEP as an organization of "Leadership By Egg Farmers - For Egg Farmers".

Bi-partisan Senate bill 3239's agrarian co-sponsors (in addition to Feinstein, D-Calif.):
  • Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. 
  • Scott Brown, R-Mass. 
  • Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. 
  • Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. 
  • Ron Wyden, D-Ore. 
  • David Vitter, R-La.
The top 10 states for egg production (with number of "layers"; last updated 3/2011):

1- Iowa                      51,988       
2 - Ohio                     27,486       
3 - Pennsylvania        24,123       
4 - Indiana                 22,001       
5 - California             19,452       
6 - Texas                    14,195
7 - Minnesota            10,023
8 - Michigan                9,623
9 - Nebraska                9,168
10 - Florida                  8,931

We all know what this is about. If your chickens don't have the proper federally mandated "environmental enrichments" They will come for your chickens. You laugh? From UEP's web site (updated 3/11):

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A dog's life

She escaped from this deck several times.
Once, Mr Big Food, Max, & I had to rescue her from the middle of Colerain Avenue. That was not fun. I don't know this for a fact because I wasn't there, but I heard Max chased Suzy more times than I know about.

Once, Suzy went missing for several weeks. She turned up.

It's Thursday, May 24th,

in the Year of Our Lord 2012.

Rest in Peace, Suzy.

When we thought Suzy, at age 12, was old.
She hated the water. But she loved the snow.

Bar-B-Que Garden & Gun Style

I haven't read carefully the latest issue of Garden & Gun, but North Mississippi Commentor is depressed by the fact
...that in a list of best barbecue sandwiches in the South in Garden and Gun Magazine, Mississippi is represented by a place that puts two slices of American cheese on a shoulder sandwich.
And it's in Starkvegas, no less! Who knew?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Growth & Development: A Dog's Life

Rocky is about one year old now.
Missy is about nine months old now.

They are much more manageable than they were when I first brought Missy to the Farm.

That said, we are beginning to go through a major developmental phase. Unleashed.

Recipes: Chinese Fried Rice I & Chicken Chop Suey

We like yelling out, "Chop Suey!"

Serves 6-8

½ C cooked ham, chicken, or pork, diced fine
2 Tbsp oil
3 oz mushrooms, chopped
4 C chilled day-old cooked rice
1 green onion, chopped fine
2 Tbsp soy sauce, plus more (if desired)
1 egg, beaten well

Heat oil in large deep skillet and brown meat. Add mushrooms, rice, green onion, and soy sauce, and continue frying over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add egg and continue stir-frying for another 5 minutes, or until dry enough to be fluffy. Add additional soy sauce to taste or for a darker color.

Chop suey recipe below. Mr. Big Food used sesame and chile oils rather than the butter called for. 

Recipe: Mexican Tamales Rojos y Verdes

Steam for about an hour
As is his custom, Mr. Big Food prefaces the recipe in The Big Food Manual with some commentary from the cook book from which the recipe was culled:

“These are the most popular tamales in Mexico. For parties, the dough is divided in two so there are the same number of red and green tamales. You can make the red and green tamales following the recipe in this book, or if you have a favorite recipe then try it!
            Also, to cut the preparation time in half you can buy any green or red salsa from the grocery store and still enjoy these delicious tamales.
Enjoy them hot with hot cocoa.”—Cocina Tìpica Latinoamericana (Traditional Latin-American Cooking), Festival Hispano Cincinnati (2001)

“Red and Green Tamales”
I have no idea what it's like these days, but the Hispanic Festival in Cincinnati was fun when we were going.

Recipe below the fold.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The very first year I started growing vegetables in earnest, I had an over abundance of some things. I tried making a dollar or two by selling stuff here. I didn't like the way that worked out. So now we just give stuff away.

I've offered my overabundance of basil to some folk. There were almost no takers-- Bart took one measley little plant.
And so. We will make pesto this weekend.

Meanwhile, Daughter C. called to say she was 'sold out'. 

Monday, May 21, 2012


One of the BIG things Mr. Big Food did this past weekend was make a BIG batch of tamales. Recipe to follow.

"Modern science can claim no credit...

for their development," says Master Chef Louis P. De Gouy about peas in The Gold Cook Book (1948, Chilton Company--Book Division, Philadelphia and New York).

"Their pedigree is long, romantic, historic-- possibly even prehistoric... ."
The style in which this crappy old cook book is written is so different from "modern" cook books. Here's some of the eight-paragraph introduction to peas in The Gold Cook Book:
Certain it is that the people of ancient Egypt ate them, for they have been found in a tomb near the remains of Thebes. And peas long dried were uncovered among the ruins of once great Troy, where they had remained buried in pottery jars of some thirty-four centuries.

Theophratus, the Greek who is called the father of botany, and who died in 287 B.C., referred frequently to peas as a common vegetable of his land. They were mentioned, too, a short time before the birth of Christ by the Roman poet Virgil. Much later, in the Middle Ages, the writings of the time indicated that peas were grown as one of the chief guards against famine, and that they were given a major part in the rations, home and abroad, of medieval armies and navies.

In England of that time, peas were so generally in use that the terms "pottage" and "porridge" came to be practically synonymous with peas, and nursery rhymes revolved around them-- "Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold." The people of the Middle Ages, unlike the ancients who used dried peas alone as food, cooked teh green pods whole, dipped them in sauce, picked out the peas, and then threw away the empty pods.

It was the French... .

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Thinkers at play.
BIG weekend here at the Farm. Rocky got turned loose. We woke up one day and Mr. Big Food said, "This is ridiculous. We live on a Farm. Why is Rocky on a leash?" And so, Rocky is no longer on a leash. 

We tried unleashing Missy but she is too easily distracted.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I link to Tom's blog a lot

and I go to his site daily. I'd seen that other than the Greenwood business, he's been quiet for some time. Tom is North MS Commentor. When I had a chance to catch up, I saw his post announcing that his father had died.

He has a new post up now.
Here’s a short documentary my daughter Sarah Simonson  did for a Southern Studies class about Phil Stone (my dad’s first law partner) and William Faulkner that includes a section of my father talking about Stone and Faulkner.   (I’m in there, too).   I’m so glad this is on video.
In the scheme of things, the death of your father is inevitable.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Scouting Dewberries

Dewberries, Rubus travialis Michaux, are a bramble fruit, related to raspberries and blackberries. Dewberry vines/bushes grow wild here on the Farm and elsewhere in The South. The brambles are thorny and rambling. Therefore, the berries are a real pain in the neck to pick. But they are worth the effort. I know this because Rocky & Missy & I scouted some of the prime dewberry patches today and I evaluated a very ripe one. Sweet!

From Lucile Parker's (1999) Southern Wildflowers, Pelican Publishing Company
This illustration is misleading, but illustrates another reason dewberries are such a pain to pick. The berries on any given bramble do not all ripen at the same time. In the illustration, those berries at the ends of the vine should be red (not ripe), not black (ripe). Also, compared to domestic blackberries, dewberries are small.

One must work hard & smart to harvest a respectable quantity of dewberries.

In anticipation of dewberry season, I did some research.

I learned


that I should dress appropriately for my "outdoor experience" and that I should find a plastic bag and a walking stick.

Lettuce volunteer

Kagraner Sommer lettuce: "58 days — It is a good mid-season variety as it is slow to bolt in the summer heat. Originally from Germany, the heads are light green and medium sized. Each packet contains one gram, which is approximately 500 to 600 seeds." Seed from Victory Seeds.

Oakleaf lettuce: I've had one large packet of these seeds for years and they keep germinating!
Butterhead Buttercrunch lettuce: "65 days. Buttercrunch is a vigorous grower with a creamy yellow interior, buttery, flavor and tender texture. Small heads are perfect for a single-serve salad. Loves moist but not soggy soil. The compact size makes it a good container variety." Seed from Botanical Interests
Each spring, I plant my salad garden in the same raised planters. It's intense! As in, "intensive gardening"-- getting the most out of a given space: lettuce, celery, radishes, spinach, rat-tail radishes, fall radishes, cherry tomatoes, micro-greens, basil, oregano, garden cress, zinnias... . 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Back on the Farm

Sorry for the Silence. We needed to do some things.

Good Puppies!
We are back in the groove now. 


There was some paprikaschitzel thing for dinner. And cabbage. And leftover salad.

Let's play catchup!

That is what Mr. Big Food & I are doing. It's amazing how far behind we can get when we're not keeping up. 

Would anyone like some lettuce? Speak up!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


That's what our dumpster says. Long story.

So as not to TRASH THE NAT'I, I will say that the likedysplit internet access they have up in Cincinnati is pretty darned cool.

Today was Mothers' Day

I've chatted with a number of mothers the past few days. Most recently, I chatted-- from the parking lot of the Kroger just to the north of Tupelo-- with Mom, some time after 5pm. And Mr. Big Food's Mom and I swapped "Happy Mothers' Day!" greetings early in the day.

There was a card waiting for me at the Farm from Kat & Tony. One of the first things I did when I brought the mail in was open the card. Miss M. had called again and we were able to chat a bit. Daughter C. made me a chocolate dessert. It was good. While I was talking to Mom, Mr. Big Food was in the Kroger in Tupelo getting some ribeyes 1/2 price, and some Texas Toast bread.

I picked a very large salad. It's been rainy and relatively cool here. The lettuce has gone wild. (It is not hard, once you get the hang of it, to grow your own salad, at least in the spring.) Mr. Big Food grilled the ribeyes, and fixed up some butter & things to spread on the bread slices to make garlic toast. It's good, but homemade would have been better. Thing is, we were traveling and we didn't have time to make homemade bread. But store bought bread slathered with some butter thing is much better that frozen garlic bread. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I had a 3-way and she was jealous.

Cincinnati chili, 1-2-3, served with oyster crackers
1-2-3: spaghetti-meat sauce-cheese (and lots of it!) Also available 4-, & 5-way.

When we approached the entrance, Mr. Big Food remarked that Miss M. was just talking about the wee morning hours she & friends had spent at Camp Washington Chili. And so, I texted her these photos.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Who's home?

I am missing the Farm & Rocky & Missy.

Spending time with Max compensates.

Don't worry, hon...

You don't look anything at all like Mississippi. Your Yankees from Hell population of Halfbacks* will never allow that to happen. 

North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue had strong words Friday when asked about Tuesday's vote on Amendment One.

"We look like Mississippi," the governor told reporters during a visit to Greenville this morning.

Unofficial returns show the amendment - which defines marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman - passed with about 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent against.

North Carolina is the 30th state to adopt such a ban on gay marriage.

State law already prohibited same-sex marriages. Supporters said they wanted to write it into the constitution to further protect traditional marriage.
More from WWAY in Greenville, NC.

Halfback: someone who moves from the northeast corridor to Florida only to discover it's hot in Florida and subsequently moves half-way back to the northeast, i.e., to North Carolina

Keeping Up: Hybrid Monsters

Crappy old school buildings
As long-time readers know, I like crappy old stuff and I'm not ashamed of it. That preference doesn't mean that I am opposed to, for example, cool modern buildings. I believe crappy old buildings and cool modern buildings can co-exist quite peaceably. But it is a crime against nature to force them to reproduce-- to create something new.

I don't give a hoot what the "experts" at Forbes say. This is a monstrosity.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

If I don't keep up, I'll be lost, part 2

We have arrived in The Nati.

On our way here, we stopped at the National Corvette Museum.

We had lunch at a Waffle House where there were some Sons of God Bikers.

One of the advantages of traveling with multiple things that can take pictures is that I can take pictures on multiple things. I've only downloaded the BIG camera. Sons of God are on other devises. I have a lot of photos of the Corvette Museum. Stay tuned.

We got to Cincinnati. And Max drove us past our old house. We got out just in time.

The view from Colerain.
The view from Colerain. You can see The Shack from Colerain.

Sad. But no matter. We live in Mississippi now!

We had a great first evening back.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

If I don't keep up... I'll be lost.

We dropped Miss M. off at MEM.

We had breakfast at a CK's Coffee shop

where you can get a glazed donut burger.

I saw at least 1/2 dozen of these signs in yards. 

We posted some mail.
We had lunch.

Not here.
And then POOF! We were at Mr. & Mrs. Kant's!

Delicious. Thank you!

Kids & Dog photos get a dedicated post. Thanks y'all!