Monday, November 29, 2010

Little Brothers Who Grill

As you know I have been trying desperately to learn to cook a few things in anticipation of my mother and brother coming up for Thanksgiving.
I am a horrible cook and am considered a serious fire risk by my closest friends.
So, imagine my relief when my brother unloaded his grill instantly as he arrived at my house. He unloaded 2 bags of charcoal, 4 coolers plus a quart of lighter fluid and began to "fire up" the grill.

I watched from the safety of the kitchen as I chatted with my mom.

Little did I know that it would be a turkey-less and mashed potatoe-less Thanksgiving.
Instead, little brother brought chicken, sausage and 2 inch thick Porterhouse steaks for our special day.

In addition he brought 8 different kinds of salads and mom made 2 of my utmost favorite desserts:
Snickerdoodles and Tapioca

I have a lot to be thankful for this year, but especially today.
My family traveled a distance to come visit and my little brother saved me from a cooking embarassment and instead brought his favorite grill, gourmet food and great cooking skills to my front yard.
The next morning he even grilled outside as it started to snow, in his pajamas, to make brunch.

I may ask him to vist more often.....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Right on Time

The once lush and full pastures are now all empty of livestock.

My Thanksgiving cactus bloomed this weekend.

Vermont Christmas Trees are cut, wrapped, packed and ready to go south.

Unusual meat rubs are on the shelves and ready to be used this week.

Old barns are closed up for the winter, horses look great with their furry hair and......

the neighbors cows are dressed for winter.

There is a natural clock that can not be denied.  A natural rhythm we all follow.    

And if its 8 am, my cows want treats!

If you love cows, eat turkey.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Eating Meat

One of the best explanations of why you should eat pasture raised meats:

Join the discussion.

The Most Forgotten Professional

‎"Who are those who are the last to ask for help, but the first to offer it? Who are those who don't watch the clock to see how much time is left to work, but look at a clock to see how much work they can get done? Who are those who go to work everyday, in all kinds of weather, all times of the day with never a set or guaranteed wage? The FARMER!" ~ R. Ross

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bale #1

The first round bale of hay was fed to the cows today.

The fields are officially at rest for the winter.

I always have a craving for salad when I see them munching on hay.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Delicious Pie Day @ TailGait Farm

I ain't PW, but I am learning how to make pies and breads before my family comes for Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately, I am a much better comsumer than a baker.

This recipe is from my 94 year old friend.

She has 280 years worth of recipes from her mother, grandmother and great aunt.  This is just a small selection of her many old recipe boxes.

Heritage Dutch Apple Pie, with Struddle /Strussel Topping is the Pie of the Day here.

Head baker is Dorothy.  She was a farm wife and had a very large family she had to feed for 70 years as they ran their beloved dairy farm in the most rural part of Vermont.     She is an incredible cook.

First thing she said about this recipe was: "Macintosh apples shrink too much, Cortland apples stay in better shape when baking." 
I went and got fresh, local Cortlands, peeled 6 medium sized, took the core out, sliced them up and got about 6 cups worth of apple slices, ready to go.

Dorothy has a hard time standing up so we used a unbaked pie crust shell-with fluted edges- so she didn't have to try and balance while rolling out crust.

First step was to put the store bought 9 inch unbaked pie crush shell in the pie dish.

Pile the 6 cups of sliced apple onto the pie shell.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 Tsp cinnamon and 1/2 Tsp ground nutmeg in a bowl or measuring cup. Mix well.
As you arrange the apple slices in the pie shell, layer the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar mixture.

In a separate bowl combine:
1 cup sifted flour
3/4 cup sugar
Cut in 1/2 Cup soft butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until crumbly.
Sprinkle these crumbs over the apples:

Pile the crumbly mix on top of the apples and pack the mixture on tight as possible.

Bake in 400 degree oven 50 minutes OR until the top is golden brown and apples are tender (stab them with a long fork).
The other option is to bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and then at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Makes a delicious 6-8 servings.

Serve this pie with one or two of the following:
Slice of Vermont Cheddar Cheese
Ice cream
Whipped cream
Maple syrup

This pie did not last 30 minutes after it cooled off.  We ate all of it.  With all of the above combinations.      Fabulous.
We are going to make another one very very soon.  Maybe 2 or 3 at the same time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Love Cows ? Eat EMU.

I ran out of my iron pills so I cooked up everything in the house that had high amounts of iron in it:

Fresh Emu, beets, sucatash and sweet potatoes.

The emu was delicious. I made really small hamburgers that cooked quickly in a frying pan of butter and a little water. It kept them moist and juicy.

Had cut up watermelon for dessert.  The smoke alarms never went off the whole time I was cooking.

This is a good thing.

I am practicing cooking for Thanksgiving.  My 86 year old mom is coming to see where I moved to. We haven't been together on Thanksgiving in 7 years.

I don't cook, as most of you have guessed, so this is really important that I start now so that I have a decent meal for my mom.

Wish I had some venison or something different for T Day.

I should put the local volunteer fire department on alert....just incase.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Elm Trees and Tamaracks

One of the last elms, that ever existed, is on my old road.   The tree died years ago, yet still has a life.   The birds sit on the limbs to eat their bird seed.  The hawks sit in the tree and wait for chipmunks and squirrels to run by.  Woodpeckers frequently crawl up and down it looking for bugs.
This tree looks very scarry at night.   Yet the tree looks great as the sun sets.
I look at it often as I travel down the road and wonder about all the different things it witnessed over the last 200 years.

In sharp contrast are the Tamarack trees that line the road and fields.  I admit that I did not even know the name of this tree until I noticed the beautful colored pine needles and asked a farmer friend: "what the heck kinda tree is that?"   Unlike other pine trees, the tamarack tree looses ALL of its needles in the fall and looks horrible.   Rumor has it that the Tamarck trees were once very mean to the many many birds that slept in its protective branches at night.  The trees curled up their warm needles and branches so the birds could not enter to stay warm on a very cold night.    Word of this got to God and he was displeased.  He told the tamaracks that if they did not want to protect the birds that so depended on them for warmth that they would no longer need their beautiful pine needles in the fall.    So now every single last stink'n pine needle falls off just when the tree is in its peak splendor.

There is a message in there somewhere....

Be kind to birds.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Burrs & Burdocks

The cows all looked so good.... until yesterday.

I was shocked when I went to check on the herd and saw this:

The new pasture they went into had burrs and burdocks in the far corners of the field.

Of course the 2 big steers that are leaving next week have them the worse.

The momma cows were much smarter and only had a few that I was able to pick off rather quickly.

But these boys.........

This is how they looked just a few short days ago:

How quickly things change when you got weeds and hell rais'n boys to contend with!

Makes me want to go eat a pie!

Frosty Morning Barns

Barns and farms look different in the early morning.

The fog and the ice crystals on trees and fences transform every building and tree into a winter wonderland.

This entire farm (250 acres plus barns, house, etc) are for sale and are sitting idle waiting for the next generation of farmers to move in.

By 11 am all traces of Mr Winter's signature had dissapeared, the sun came out and life resumed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Close Your Truck Windows.....

Or you may come back to your vehicle and find an extra dog in the front seat.

No kidding.

I walked out to the big field to check on the herd and when I returned there were TWO dogs in the front seat of my truck.

Both looking a little guilty and my coffee cup had been licked dry.

Never a dull moment up here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rita Mae Does It Again

New title.  Brand new series.

I walked into the library this morning and saw the book in a box of books just delivered by UPS.
The amazing thing about this is that I had just, last night, read an article about this book being released!

This is a very very rural tiny village with the library as big as most peoples living room and yet "we" got the book first!!!     

I suspect my wonderful librarian saw me fighting over the "Cat of the Century" book last week and probably got a clue that there is more to me than just cows.   Lucky me.

Now I am trying to persuade her into getting a cat that will eliminate the mice in this ancient building.  Lots of cats in the area need homes and there is an important job for one of them, right here, as assistant librarian.

Any of you folks got cats at your local libraries?

I am headed home to start reading on this very cold, rainy day.    Grab a book at your local library on your way home.  Have a good weekend friends.   Janis

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mothers & Daughters

Its getting closer to weaning time.   It is snowing those big sugar flakes, a little every morning, as the temperatures dip lower and lower in the night. The geese are headed south and the robins are nowhere to be seen anymore.
The calves are running through the fields with vim and vigor as their moms chase after them or merely take a look over the last of the seasons grass to make sure their kids aren't getting into trouble.

Jillian was giving her mom,Wanda, a face bath this morning as I entered the field for our morning cow chat.

These two are always the most interesting to watch.  They play and tease each other like 2 big Golden Retrievers. None of the other cows play with their calves like Wanda does.  She is the most unusual cow I have ever had.
Mellow, protective, playful, WISE, gentle, fussy about her snacks and vocal when it is time to go to a greener field.
All her calves wean heavy and calm. I would love to keep this heifer as a replacement. Wanda's heifer calf from last year was also incredible, but a friend wanted her so I sent her to a new pasture.

These two walk with me all over the field as I check all the other cows and calves.  Sometimes they also escort me all the way back to my truck.

I am always under the all-knowing, watchful eye of Wanda.

Too bad cows can't vote.