Friday, November 23, 2012

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Full of Thanks

Home, together, fair weather, comforts,
Music, curious minds, and wonderful views,
Friends and family,
and friends like family,
Love and laughter,
Dear traditions,
and new adventures.
We are Blessed and we are Thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Autumn Fruit Bread

Dear Autumn Fruit Bread,
I love you. You are cranlicious, nutty, and comforting. You are zesty, yet mild, citruslightful, yet wild. You are my favorite and my best, right now.

The recipe is inspired from something I found on the back of a cranberry package, many years ago. Like twenty. Twenty years ago. No, maybe thirty. Thirty years ago. I was just born. Not really. It just feels freakishly wrong that I can look back thirty years and recall anything at all. Time. It's passing.

Oh. So. I've made this Autumn Fruit Bread, with its cranberries, and citrus, and nuts, for quite some time, and happily I had everything on hand, yesterday, when our oven heated, to revisit this favorite recipe.

Here is a list of ingredients, in case you want to make some, too...

Autumn Fruit Bread
Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
1.5 cups of coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
3/4 cups of orange juice... I love it pulpy
2 heaping tablespoons of minced orange... include fruity bits
2 heaping tablespoons of minced lime... also fruity bits
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of softened butter
A well beaten egg
2 cups of flour
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder... not soda!
1 teaspoon of salt
.5 teaspoon of baking soda... Hold on! I realize, I forgot to add this yesterday. Hmmm... oh well, didn't hurt!
.5 cup of chopped nuts... love the pecans, could be walnuts

I like to start with the fruits, juice, and sugar, and get them all together. I think it helps sweeten the fruit, which is good, because we are baking some chunky tart bits. And by the way, I love the chunky tart bits, so I do not cut out the orange rind, or worry about cutting bitty pieces of cranberry. If I had kumquats, I'd toss in a tablespoon, or two, of those, too. It's rustic-wild-zippy-zingy Autumn Fruit Bread.

My knife is dull. It's a beautiful knife... a gift from Geoff. Alex and I have been looking around for a knife sharpener, as a gift for Geoff. Aren't I lucky? I like my beautiful knife, and cooking, and Geoff likes the gadgets that keep things working properly. We make a good team, I think.

I love the graphics Trader Joe's uses on their products.
Just saying.

I asked Max to pass me the walnuts, but he could only find the pecans. And. I like pecans, so we chopped those up, and I have no regrets.

I love this little chopper machine. I have no idea who made it. I think it was a gift from my father-in-law. It works with a crank, so I can chop nuts, even in a power outage. Phil gave it to us many years ago. Like twenty. Twenty years ago. No, maybe thirty. Thirty years ago. I was just born. Not really.

While the fruit is sitting in orange juice and sugar, mixing and mingling, I sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda... if I remember the baking soda. Ahem. Then I add the nuts. I read, somewhere, that the nuts coated in the flour are less likely to sink to the bottom of the bread, and I believed it, so that's how I do it.

I drop those dry ingredients on top of the cranberry-fruit bog, and start folding it all together. When the mix is all wet and incorporated, I turn my attention to the bread pans.

Tiny pans! I had doubled the recipe, which meant I had twice as much un-added baking soda... which meant I could bake some small loaves and share them with friends, or hoard them, and delight in the knowledge that I had tiny stashes of my favorite fruit bread! Win-win, either way.

I gave the tiny pans a quick spritz of Canola spray. You know, choose your bread pan and grease it, so your rustic-wild-zippy-zingy Autumn Fruit Bread doesn't stick to the pan.

Don't fill them to the top. These are about two thirds full, and ready to go in the oven for... oh, dang it... I forgot to time it. I started to time it. I put them in at 9:40 am, and then I meant to see what time they came out of the oven. I took them out when they smelled amazing, and looked good enough to eat. I hope that helps. Can you believe no publisher has ever approached me about writing a cookbook!?

Four little loaves, and one shallow loaf in a traditional bread pan. Golden, and hot. You may be surprised to know this, but they actually taste even better spread with a little butter. It's true.

Moist, tangy, chunky, nutty... Autumn Fruit Bread. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gingerbread Goats!

Our Tasha and Ada are deer little goats! And I can just imagine them pulling Santa's sleigh. Tasha and Ada make reindeer leaps, just like the cookie cutter I found.

And ever since I imagined our goats pulling a sleigh, all dressed up and trimmed in bells, for the holidays, I knew I had to make Gingerbread Goats.

It wasn't enough just to find a goat-like cookie cutter, I was also dependent on the rare, very rare, chance of our oven working. Yes, we are still wrestling with the Thermafail 2000... the oven that turns itself off 99 times out of 100. It's not great. Alex and I give it a try every day, and hope and wish, and usually sigh or groan, with disappointment.

Not today! Today, with the warm vibes from Sylvia, our oven took to the heat, and hasn't slowed down! We are so thankful, and so busy. I've made quick bread, and gingerbread, and I am gearing up to just go ahead and get the turkey in there, too. Gotta make feast, while the iron's hot. Err... something like that.

Gingerbread: Trader Joe's. Easy. I need easy, right now.

I decided to roll the cookie dough in a chocolate dusting, instead of white flour. The chocolate is Spicy Hot Cocoa from Trader Jose and not only did it keep the gingerbread dark, and stop it form sticking, it added a wonderful flavor, without drying out the dough. Muy bueno.

I lopped off the antlers, because our goats don't have horns. One batch got a single ear, but then I decided to make the rest with two ears... just used a butter knife to cut away the bits we didn't need.

Oh, and by the way... one of the cookies broke, and we had to have a mercy sampling, you know, to put it out of its misery. Trader Joe's makes a good gingerbread mix, and sprinkled with their Spicy Hot Cocoa... Tasty!

They're Gingerbread Goats.


Not sheep.

Not camels.

Not shamels.

Goats, I tell ya! Gingerbread Goats, and when Maria comes home from school today, and I tell her we can decorate them with a little white icing, she is going to leap with joy, like a Gingerbread Goat!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Goat Gratitude

Look familiar? I already posted this portrait of Ada and Tasha Goat, but it's too adorable, and I want the whole wide world to see and know the wonder of our dear little ungulates. They make me extremely happy.

They're full grown, you know. So they really are little dears.

They have hairy chins, and I guess I feel a certain familiarity with them on this point.

Nothing seems to get them down... not for good.

They love to be brushed and pet, and scratched affectionately on their cheeks, along the jaw, beneath their ears.

Goats have horizontal, slit-shaped pupils, an adaptation which increases peripheral depth perception. Because goats' irises are usually pale, their contrasting pupils are much more noticeable than in animals such as cattle, deer, most horses and many sheep, whose similarly horizontal pupils blend into a dark iris and sclera. Thank you, Wikipedia.

Goats are not grazers, like sheep and cows. They are more like deer, browsing for leaves, vines, and even peeling the bark off trees.

Best of all, in my humble opinion, Ada and Tasha seem to know that life is beautiful, that play is marvelous, and there's no reason you shouldn't dance... with, or without, music playing. They just seem to rise above worry and fretting, happily frolicking forth into their days. And one more thing... they snuggle me, awkwardly, clumsily, and dearly. It makes me extremely happy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bird House & Barn

...a Farm Report

Welcome! The Barn is where we spent our afternoon, and early evening. We were visiting our goats and giving the chicas free-range time.

Some sad notes: Our dear little Puff was attacked, in broad daylight. We believe it was a hawk. At lock-up time, we were all calling and searching, and what we found was a terrible shock. Free-ranging is a risky freedom, and so, until we build the large chicken run, the girls are only out when we are with them, watching, in the late afternoon. Puff was a dear soul, so very mild, and a darling mother. We miss her.

You may recall, our long night, when Flopsy was attacked by the raccoon. We lost our Flopsy bunny, and it still pains us to think of her, and the sad injuries she endured. We redoubled our security measures and vigilance, but to no avail. And I am sorry, and ashamed to say, that the raccoon found the opportunity to take Sanka Rabbit. There is no worse feeling than knowing you failed to prevent something horrible, like this, from happening, twice. Obviously, we are dealing with a stalking, persistent bandit.

It's just as Jennifer W. noted, "Animals bring so much joy and so much sorrow.
Every time we have a pet die I say "no more. I simply cannot bear the sadness of their death" but then I remember the joy and begin searching for another."

My heart breaks, and I raise the fist of indignation, and then I realize it's all my fault for having so many pets in the first place, so I hang my head in sorrowful shame... and then I accept that we love our farm. We love our pets, and we do honestly give them the things they need, and more, for good lives... as best we can, and in return they make us laugh, give eggs, distract us, and calm us, and make us crazy, too. Life cannot be picture perfect. And as long as there are going to be heartaches and tragedies, I choose to take it with funny, fragile, friendly pets. They are good.

Well, they try to be good, right? Maybe not. There is a great deal of unconditional love, when it comes to our pets. Nikkipolani's recent cat post is a good, and funny, reminder of what we willingly put up with for our rambunctious fur-babies!

The chicas think the goats are wildly unruly, but they don't let it keep them from foraging around the goat pen, or joining the call to dinner, right from under the goat's noses! Here, Shebot and little Penny are scratching for leftovers. They are not disappointed.

Tasha, our sad goat, is slowly mending. Whatever she managed to do to herself, she does seem improved everyday. I can't get her to take any more ibuprofen... what was easy is now impossible, since she's realized those little pills are not tasty. She walks around, and even jumped up the low wall to the rose bed. So, without a goat vet, I have decided her diagnosis is: severe strain to her legus-backus. Prescription: warmth, affection, and patience.

Both goats love it when we are hanging out with them. And we never tire of their antics. Last night Alex and I saw quite possibly the funniest goat nonsense ever! Ada scampered away from us, toward the barn, and as she ambled she began to lead with her turned head, and run sideways, but her weight and momentum got the better of her, and suddenly she was doing barrel rolls down the slight slope on the lawn. Wee goat legs flailing helplessly, her eyes wide and astonished! After her 720, she sprang to her feet and trotted back to us, as bewildered as we were.

If my camera were filming, we could sell the footage, and retire comfortably, while the world laughed heartily. Goats!