Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Got the Myrtle, Where's the Beach?

I think we may be losing the beach. Actually, to be quite honest, we saw the beach yesterday afternoon between the morning and evening rain sessions. We flew into Myrtle Beach in the rain and according to the weather there is supposed to be up to 10 inches by Friday. It's not going to stop raining until after we leave. But Shoffner and I have made the most of it. Let's just say it's a good thing there is a dryer in our room to dry all our wet clothes and shoes. What does one do when in vacationland without a vehicle and it's raining? Take advantage of all the free activities put on by this fabulous Sheraton. We missed out on water aerobics, but we did get our free wellness exam and have plans to take part in the wine pairing workshop this evening at a local bakery/cafe called Croissants. I've watched more television in the past 2 days than in the past month, and I'm almost finished with book #1. We're on vacation and for the first time, I actually feel like I've been relaxing and not constantly going, going, going. Oh and we've gotten 11 hours of sleep both nights. Praise the Lord for quality rest.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Long lost BFF

It's been about a week since anybody has seen my dear Lady dog. I think that Lucky is suffering from withdrawal; he's lost his BFF. We're pretty sure she wandered into the woods to go hang out in doggie heaven. Lucky now sits right outside the fence door, no longer wallowing in the pit of ash or even so much hanging out on the sand pile. Poor dog doesn't have anybody to play with anymore or go on adventures with. 

Today as I went for my jog he followed me the entire way. Lucky is old and those two have definitely stopped following me places a while ago. Usually he'll follow out to the mailbox and then sit and wait. Today as I stopped and turned around at the 2.5 mile mark there he was, panting like crazy. I got a little worried that he wouldn't make it back home. I got so concerned in his slowing step that I stopped at Grandma and Grandpa's house to see if I could get him some water. After wandering around back for a bit, Lucky was no where to be found so I continued my way on home. I assumed he had stopped for a drink in the pond along the way. As I made my way down the hill and across the bridge over the creek closer to home I heard this noise coming out of the creek. A little alarmed I turned back to see what crazy giant animal I scared out of the water. It was Lucky! Apparently as I was looking for a watering dish he booked it on by looking for the refreshing creek to bath in.  He's smarter than I thought.

Now I'm wondering if the fact about human partners death will be the same for dogs. If a human female dies before the male partner, then males are more likely to die shortly after than females in the same situation. I wonder if this shall be true for dogs as well. When will Lucky go? Sooner or later? It doesn't really matter, they've both lived good long lives. I got them when I was a sophomore in high school, almost 10 years ago, and they produced my first income, kept away many of varmits, wiped their slobber on me way too much, and provided great conversation. 

Sometimes I feel a little like Lucky must be feeling now.  The people that know me the best, eat the food I eat, hang out doing the same things I love to do, pick me up when I am down, and challenge me to keep on going are a long way away as well. The greatest thing is I'll meet up with them again real soon and that's what makes us BFFs- best friends forever. No matter how long it is, there will always be a common bond and a great story to tell.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Mom and I went to an auction on this fine past Saturday morning. I was a little reluctant to go to an auction, but with the determination of my father I ended up there in search of chain link fence for the chicken fencing project we shall be starting next weekend. Dad had a prior engagement so off to the races of an auction in Abilene, Kansas Mother and I went with the list neatly underlined with important things to look for. We found the chain link fence and a few other items on the list. There really weren't very many people at the auction so it moved pretty fast and the auctioneers actually were able to start memorizing my #92. Apparently I didn't fit in with the farmers and ranchers present in cowboy boots as I was wearing my Rural Center softball shirt, rolled up jeans, and my Chacos. They caught on to me pretty fast and I really enjoyed getting into the whole bidding process. It's always more fun when it's Dad's money I'm spending. I did get good deals though on the six foot tall chain link fence, the 8 foot treated wood posts, the bucket of random fence hardware, the one homemade poultry water heater, and the one plastic barrel. 

We're now ready for action in creation of a 75x75 foot fenced in area for the chickens and the new rain barrel I hope to construct. Next weekend the youth group is coming out to assist in this construction along with painting the house addition, chicken coop, and some other random to be determined projects. Should be another interesting Saturday.

My Saturday preservation project was an attempt to create fire roasted green chilis. We have several plants in the garden and no possible way to eat all of them fresh, so preservation is the way. Step 1: Throw all the green chilies on the grill and let them roast. 
The idea is to lightly blacken the skins. I think I let them roast a little too long. I wouldn't recommend roasting chilies, making granola, and preparing falafels all at the same time. After roasting plop them into a plastic bag or a bowl and cover for 10-15 minutes. This loosens the skins and allows for easy peeling.
After they have cooled to manageable heat, peel off those skins, remove the stems and seeds and you now have fire-roasted green chilies. 
I went ahead and chopped mine up, divided them into 4 oz packages and froze them. Just like that little can of green chilies you might pay a dollar for in the store. It takes time, but these are renewable resources out here right now.

I also was feeling the need for a restored granola supply and went ahead and made the Ciril Hitz recipe I received from The Kneading Conference. Mmm. good. It has a great carmelized oats flavor, cruchy texture, and overall awesome granola.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Real Vanilla Bean

  We got a fresh supply of real vanilla beans in the bake lab this week. Because I am the luckiest bake lab manager ever, I get to reap the rewards of random, not so common, product donations. I've never seen them used in the lab except for the two times Dave cut into them to show the lab students their very first vanilla bean. Anyway, what does a girl do with her supply of fresh vanilla beans? Make real vanilla bean ice cream of course! 

The ingredients chosen: Vanilla beans, Hildebrand Farms local fresh whole milk, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, directions from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book.

Step 1: Cut open vanilla bean and scrape out those delectable beans. 
It's definitely a process that will without a doubt end with your hands smelling like amazing vanilla for quite some time. I went ahead and stuck all the seeds and the pod into my simmering milk. 

The bean pods were removed after a short simmer. After adding the eggs and cooking until thickened, I added the sweetened condensed milk and it turned into this goodness. I think it looks a little yellow and quite honestly, I'm not digging the sweetened condensed milk flavor it gave. To offset that, I added more vanilla beans. That would be a total of three beans. Into the fridge it went for an afternoon of chilling before the gathering and it's birth into ice cream.
And on a fabulous evening in Abilene, Kansas we enjoyed Real Vanilla Bean ice cream. I think next time I'll try another recipe, probably throwing out all the stops and going for heavy cream, but it was still devoured.
The final creation. I almost forgot to take a picture. It was pretty darn tasty and made complete enjoyed with new friends. I think that they are slowly but surely realizing that I rarely do anything the easy way. I mean who goes to backyard weiner roast parties with an ice cream maker, ice cream ready for the maker, homemade pickles, jicama slaw, and salsa in tow? I do. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'll take two

Another great day in the baking laboratory at Kansas State University. It was a great day for a number of reasons: 
  • We have confirmed a pallet, 70 cases, of semi-sweet chocolate chips shall be delivered next Tuesday. That's a lot. I'm excited even if they are recently expired.
  • We now have about 4- 5 gallon buckets of peanut butter in the lab. Can we say monster cookie goodness soon to be rolling out?
  • Hot, fresh oatmeal for lunch and not so fresh afternoon snack time. 1st go around with applesauce, raisins, dried cranberries, and nuts. 2nd go around with bananas, almond butter and nuts.
  • Nobody got hurt today. This includes our bat friend that I babysat all day on the wall in the adjoining, non food prep area, lab where my desk sits. 
  • Everybody completed their cleaning assignments and a few others.
  • I chatted with my beloved Kelsey Ann online while she was at work. Check out KAF instant chat hotline. Live help.
  • I brought home a ton of compost consisting mostly of banana peels and nasty white pan bread.
  • I also came home with these amazing loaves of bread..........
We haven't come up with an official name for this beauty. I say we, Dave, made quite possibly an even greater bread than Mountain Bread. Close, I'm not sure who wins. But this beauty has 11 grains, 1 seed, and 1 nut in it. We're thinking about calling it colon blow? But just to inform you of all its content:
  • Wheat
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Millet
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Flax
  • Oat
  • Brown Rice
  • Poppy Seed
  • Granulated Almonds
Bet you didn't even know some of those were grains did ya? This is a naturally leavened bread, aka sourdough type, containing all those quality ingredients. It has no added fat and only a minute amount of sugar in the form of honey to counteract some of the bitterness that might come from all those whole grains. So good. So good. So good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Equipment Failure

The rain was pouring down quite hard this morning. As I got out of bed I thought that it just might be the perfect day to stay inside and drink coffee all day, perhaps do some baking, read a book, relax. That didn't happen. I am physically unable to watch food go bad right beneath my eyes as I fail to preserve the garden bounty; therefore, as soon as the pounding rain stopped I trucked myself outside to gather the harvest. 

I used the handy dandy Vita-Mixer, aka blender with a lawn mower engine, to puree some tomatoes before I froze them. I ended up picking much more than I preserved so there shall be more to do in a couple of days. One thing I have learned is that one should never refrigerate tomatoes. They lose all their great flavor and left a couple of days on the counter they ripen to perfection. These were so dark red and gorgeous. I also have some in the dehydrator right now making homemade not so sunny sun-dried tomatoes. 

I also decided to put up some more pesto in the freezer. After making my first batch of almonds, garlic, basil, salt, olive oil, and thinned with water I ran into a bit of a technical difficulty. Let's just say equipment failure. The Cuisinart failed me. The very sturdy metal blade broke in mid-processing. No good.
I am left with a bunch of chunked almonds and a large portion of basil still needing to be processed. After immediately calling the Cuisinart customer service to check on my warranty I am greatly relieved that I can get a replacement blade for free. I do not have to pay the $35 the online store charges for that metal blade. Holy cow. My customer service man was very nice and he actually seemed genuinely concerned about the blade breaking off in my processing. He wanted to make sure nobody was hurt and that I was able to get the pieces out before somebody ate some metal. Super nice guy.

I then had to turn to the ancient, much smaller food processor that my mother has. It eventually did the trick and I think I'll be set for the winter with my pesto supply. Mmmm. Love me some pesto.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nerdy Baker

I get really excited about Mountain Bread. The news of it being produced will make me get in my car and drive to Manhattan so that I can eat it. It is that good. Here's a shot of me and the giant loaf of Mountain Bread. I think I could live on it alone. 

I may or may not be a giant baking nerd. Not only do I enjoy baking but preparing the baker for the job includes being properly equipped with bakers' caps. That's right, I make my own bakers' caps. Here would be the most recent pile of production. Ten nice, clean, ready to go bakers' caps. Those bake club officers better like them. 

Nerdy Baker
That's Me!


I came home from the retreat this weekend and Surprise! there are five new chickens in our coop. Mom and Dad went to the Clay Center small animal and poultry auction. I think they had a lot of fun checking out all those birds. This brings our chicken total back up to seven! This weekend we have plans to dig the holes for chicken fencing. For real fence is a must so that we can let the ladies out to forage. I am still waiting for those bright orange yolks that indicate amazing quality and nutrition found only from lucky birds that forage the grass and eat bugs daily.

I also managed to concoct some beautiful dinner last night. Thanks to Dad for suggesting I take a picture now I can show you what's been cooking up lately around here. We are still gathering tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants from the garden so a combination of all those are found on our plates.

Growing Together

This past weekend I was able to take another road-trip. This one was different though because I didn't plan it nor did I drive on this road-trip. Let's just say it's been a long time since I traveled in the back seat of a mini van the entire trip. Our trip also went to a place I've never been before. This trip took me to the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. I've been to several places in OK, driven through the state from top to bottom, been to couple of lakes for family gatherings, but never have I traveled to Leedey, OK. The town population is around 400. That would mean the 46 ladies at the BIC regional women's retreat that entered the town increased the population by 10%. I must be honest I had a few fears attending the retreat. 

Fear #1: Cheesy Christian Event - This one definitely came true. Complete with a polka band style hymn worship experience, fill in the blank methods to becoming a Godly woman, and feel good happy discussions had by all.

Fear #2: Event involving a large portion of elderly ladies- This came true as well. I must say there were some very adorable older ladies there that really made me smile. I think it would have been better if we would have just sat around and shared stories though. I'm sure they had some really great life stories and lessons for me to learn.  Next time.

I must say the best part of the trip and the part that made the weekend worth it was definitely the road-trip with four other amazing women. We comprised the mini-van of younger women from our church and I feel like our conversations and time spent together were well worth the 5 1/2 hour drive to and from. These are the women that keep me here in Dickinson County Kansas. These are the ladies that I tell my secrets to, that laugh with me and my ability to be a girl, and deal with my food critiques. Thank God for them in my life to keep me sane and help me process through so much.

Oh Fear #3: Food being served that I may never normally consume. Right on. It was a little iffy and definitely went well with the entire nursing home atmosphere of the weekend. Once again, learning to be polite and deal with it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cornfields, Silos, and the Coleman.

This weekend I took another road trip. This time with these two gangstas right here:
We traveled to Worthing, South Dakota for the world's largest free Christian music festival called Lifelight. It took place in the middle of a giant corn field. A family recently donated their 200 and some odd acres to the Lifelight organization for this very festival. The land used to be all corn, but now has been planted to a grass/alfalfa mix to make way for giant mega screens, campsites, and popcorn stands. The land was oh so flat and all centered around this farmstead. Complete with grain bins, silos, a farmhouse, and newly constructed bath houses.
We enjoyed some good music, but I might be lying if I didn't tell you that one of my favorite parts of the trip was being the camp chef. Mind you, we didn't actually cook more than 3 times, it was still a big highlight. Here would be our first lunch time complete with cheddarwursts (I really can't believe I ate them, but they were oh so good) and a really great veggie rice concoction of mine.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the bag of kettle corn we got the size of a small child.  I think I personally ate 3/4 of the bag. Another treat I haven't had in oh so long.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Granola with Jamie

My friend Jamie is going away. She is the most traveled person that I know personally and it brings me great joy to hear about all the places she goes. She is getting ready to get on a ship and travel to Hawaii, Tahiti, South Pacific, and New Zealand. She is a rockstar and I am jealous. She came to hang out with me for an afternoon and my friend Jamie came prepared. She knows that upon entering our home there is probably going to be something to do in the kitchen. Let's remember, I spend spare time in the kitchen, always. Anyway Jamie and I made some granola together. It was quite scrumptious.

Jamie chopped up tons of almonds to go in our granola along with oats, cinnamon, mucho honey, a little molasses, oil, butter, dried cranberries, normal size raisins, and giant golden raisins.

Then I had to instruct my parents that this is not something to be devoured in entire bowl of cereal fashion. It is to be savored. Added on top of yogurt, or perhaps a bowl of oatmeal. If you eat too much of this in one setting, you best get to making it yourself. It's oh so good and there is a reason why those little bags of it in the store cost so much. 

I also showed Jamie my harvest of a kidney bean crop. It's lame, but I'm proud. That's all folks, guess I should have instructed my mother earlier that those bean plants were not green beans to be picked small and frozen, but indeed kidney beans meant to stay on the plant and come to giant red kidney bean size. Oops, better luck next time maybe?