Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Well, well, well. Turn about is only fair isn't it?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Sometimes while she's standing like this one of her back legs will go up like she's trying to climb aboard. It is HILARIOUS! Maybe you have to be there? Or maybe we've been living rural just a wee bit too long?
Chocolate Chaud has no idea why we find this so funny.... she can climb up on the spools and the houses fully preggers or with an udder full o' milk! Can you see Spot's little legs behind Chocolate's head?
Monday, August 18, 2008
Why am I not in bed? Why am I blogging at this "late" hour throwing off my circadian rhythms?
I decided to make parmesean cheese tonight. Good grief. I am my own worst enemy!
It rained all weekend and it's still too wet outside to do much else. I had a gallon of milk from "the girls" and I bought a gallon of 2% cows milk (cuz that is what the recipie calls fer) this weekend to make parmesean for the first time. Figured I'd be inside a lot with the rain and cheese making would give me something to do.
Well, our weekend got busy. We ran errands most of the day Saturday and went to dinner with our fabulous friends who will accompany us to Sonoma/Napa in only TWO WEEKS! Have I mentioned that vacation? Furry Husband has set us UP in wine country. VIP tours, complimentary guest accomodations at wineries, free fancy pants wine lunches. We are all super excited to go!
Sunday we had breakfast with the divine Ms. K cuz she is leaving for Laramie, WY to get her PhD in molecular sciences. Can you say -- brainiac? She is very smart and we are happy for her but we will miss her cheerful smile and who else is crazy enough to come running when we call to say goat babies are imminent?
Then we had lunch with my Ma and Step-Pa and right after that, off I went to a bridal shower! So yeah - the weekend sorta got away from us when it was supposed to be long, lazy and indoors, listening to the rain.
Anyway. I have this milk in my fridge with parmesean written all over it and I had plans to make cheese. I'm nothing if not stubborn and I started it tonight thinking I'd be done by 9pm.
Next time Furry Husband is doin' the time calc-u-la-men-ta-tion cuz I is NOT math oriented.
A lot of people ask me what makes cheddar cheese, cheddar vs. colby vs. brick vs. whatever kind of cheese. I don't really know the answer to that. I know it is all science and someone could break it all out for you but to me it's like what makes a brownie a brownie vs. a cookie vs. a cake. It's all in the way you stir it and cook it and the ingredients you use when you follow the recipie.
Here's what I'm doing to make parmesean tonight (grumble, grumble - I'm sleepy - grumble)
Heated the milk to 90 degrees F, let it rest for 30 minutes, added lipase powder, stirred for 2 minutes, added the rennet, let it rest for 30 minutes. Cut the curd and let it rest for 5 minutes. Heated the curds to 100. Continually stirred slowly and VERY slowly kept on heating until the curd reached 120F. (this is where I am overly optimistic about how quick it will go...you heat cheese curds slowly... did I say slow? cuz I mean S-L-O-W, SLOW and about this time I start to realize what time I'll be going to bed. My mood begins headin' South)
Stirred for 25 MORE minutes. Drained the curd for 20 minutes in a colander. (now I'm gettin' downright snippy and Furry Husband quietly avoids me) Put curd in cheese press for 10 minutes at 5lbs pressure. Turned it over and pressed again for 10 min at 5lbs pressure. (I am cursing under my breath) Turned cheese over and pressed for an hour at 15lbs pressure. (YOU are here)
In a few minutes I will repeat and then finally I will turn the damn cheese over yet again and press for 12 - 15 hrs at whatever amt of pressure - I forget cuz I'm only on the first damn hour and my instructions are in the kitchen.
I'm tired and cranky.
During the latest turn and press, Furry Husband says, "huh. so this is why cheese is so expensive." Yeah. Not to mention the parmesean will age for 10 months. So if I've done something wrong tonight, August 18 2008, I won't know until June of 2009 when we taste it. How is that for delayed gratification?
The types of cheese I've been making - cheddar, colby and now parmesean have not been exactly hard to make but they are time consuming. And when you've reached this point - you've put so much time into whatever god forsaken cheese you are making - you don't want to scrap it and wait for the weekend to start over.
So I'm up. And I will be up until 11pm and hell if I'm gonna make cheese on a "school night" again any time soon!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Reguardless - not much gets in the way of me and food, especially ice cream. We did manage to eat Whitey's each day we were in IL. We even gots the pictures to prove it. We met Furry Husband's buddy Uncle Mikey, Uncle Mickey's wife Diane and their son Zach - otherwise known as Zach-Bob one day for ice cream.
Zach-Bob looking really thrilled to be there will all us geezers, Furry Husband, Illinois Ma and Diane.
We asked Illinois Ma to tell us what she'd like to do while we were there - things she wouldn't normally do or things we could help her do while we were around. She wanted to go to cemetaries to visit family. Furry Husband's 11 yr old niece wanted to tag a long. (An ll yr old WANTING to be stuck in a car with 3 old people to go visit cemetaries?? Is that child right in the head?? Seriously.) While at the cemetary, we did see family.... but Illinois Ma also pointed out old boyfriends. "Oh, I dated that guy over there!" "And I think I dated this guy here..."
There were really old headstones from 1800s. Many in German or Dutch (shhhh - don't tell anyone, I don't really know the difference)
The 11 yr old neice, Tia, who just can't be right in the head to want to hang with us in cemetaries.
We also visited Furry Husband's buddy, Jeff. Jeff is the program manager at a local t.v. station where he directs the 5 pm and 10 pm news programs. We got a behind the scenes tour - got some pix taken on the set and sat in the program room to watch it all go down. It was pretty cool - all the "mic 1 - now open mic 2" "cut to camera 3" "watch the lead in..." "run the clip" It is VERY busy behind the scenes of your local news!
We told Illinois Ma to stay up and watch cuz she might see us - Jeff had them pan to the production room on the credits where we all waved. We called to ask if she'd seen us - she had gone to BED! Wha?? Illinois Ma! We had our 2 seconds of fame and you WENT TO BED???
Me sitting on the set for "The Paula Sands Show". Furry husband told me Illinois Ma would LOVE this picture cuz she simply LOVES Paula Sands. Right. Shows you how much Furry Husband knows. We showed Illinois Ma this picture, first of all had to tell her it was the Paula Sands set only to be told she hates that woman and finds her completely annoying!
The funny thing to me about this news set? The chairs we are sitting on are regular office chairs that roll around. There are 2 steps leading up to the stage where these chairs and this desk are. There is a lip all the way around the stage to prevent chairs from rolling backward off the stage and down the 2 steps. You know that had to have happened to someone at some point and they had to build a lip to prevent it from happening again....that makes me laugh!
Jeff's fists clenched in rage - "the next person who misses the cue for camera 3 dammit is gonna meet my fists o' fury!"
After the news cast, we went to an angry hippie brew pub. I didn't see any angry hippies personally, but one of the camera guys plays drums in a band. His band had played last weekend and he said the place was crawling with angry hippies. I'll take his word for it. The beer was cold and tasty and we talked it up with the graphics, camera and field reporter people.
I told Jeff our next stop when we left IL was my high school reunion. It came up that I'd gone to an all girls catholic school called Mercy. He asked me if there would be any girls there that Furry Husband would go gaga over.
Uhhhh - hello? Jeff? He is with ME. He goes gaga over ME. S'ok. No offense taken. I'm sure Jeff has some warped image of an all girls school filled with giggling, scantily clad girls having pillow fights in the halls.
I spent one morning with Illinois Ma while Furry Husband played disc golf with Jeff. Illinois Ma and I pulled all her family quilts out of the closet. I heard the stories behind the quilts, who made them, the quilts her Mom made that she helped with, the quilt she got on her wedding day from her Grandmother... the quilts she's made. They were all beautiful - the time and effort going into them and the people who made them - not to mention the different fabrics and patterns. Then we laid out the quilt squares she and I have been making, (we are making a mom-in-law, daughter-in-law quilt) we decided on the border/sashes and went to a fabric store to buy what will make up the rest of the quilt top. I told her that I'd keep it a few months and then send it to her for a few months so we can both use it and admire it.
It was a short visit but a good one. She was really happy we came and we both enjoyed our time with her as well. And I did not see another ga-zillapede the entire time, so yeah, that one from our first night MUST'VE followed us in!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Cars were pulled over EVERYWHERE. People were in lawn chairs in the back of their pick-up trucks - whole families in lawn chairs - baby lawn chair - mama lawn chair - poppa lawn chair - in the back of their truck - along the side of the highway. People lined up all over the place. We are looking around thinking wtf?? I asked in the store.... oooohhhhhhh.
It was Cheyenne Frontier Days week and on one of those days the Blue Angels do an air show and fly over. We were ringing up our purchase when you heard this increasingly loud rumble/scream over the building... I guess they were starting! We went outside and spent a good 5 minutes watching. Looked at each other - "you ready?" "I'm ready" "K - lets get goin'"
Then there was corn..... And more corn.
I noticed that many of the towns in Nebraska and Iowa decorated their water towers. I remember water towers growing up in NE, but I guess I don't know what their purpose is. Well - duh - to hold water...but why?? One town we passed through at night and their water tower was all lit up... if I squinched my eyes and thought REAL hard, I could almost liken it to the Eiffel Tower at night! (riiiiggghhhht. and this is when you know you've seen wayyy too much corn)
Oh - there is this monument they built in Kearny (pronounced carny - as in "that bearded lady is a carny" or maybe like carnie - as in "change the radio station, I don't like that Carnie Wilson song")Our friend Al in Denver tells us that people from all over stop to view this monument. I can tell you it was not around in the 17 yrs I lived in NE. I don't know why they built this monument over "beautiful" I-80, but there you have it folks! Uh, we did not stop to go in the monument.
This picture is Furry Husband's and is for any person with testosterone that might be reading this blog.
This struck me as funny. Really? THE cleanest? How do they quality control that? Do they have people posted up and down I-80 in EVERY bathroom? Every fast food joint? Every rest area? Every gas station? How do they know they are the CLEANEST??? It could send you into the corn fields for days - weeks - months... well at least until harvest time meditating on the answer.
And again. This is probably more quantifiable... you could probably run some financials, or look at property deeds to see who has the biggest.... but we did not stop to take in this great wonder along I-80 as we needed to be on our way....
This also struck me as funny. I don't know why. Even cross road truckers need haircuts and I expect most hairdressers or stylists don't have parking lots equipped for your average 18 wheeler....
Did you know that Hastings, NE claims to be the town where Kool-Aid was invented? There is a museum there.
We made it to Rock Island, Illinois at about 11:30 pm central time. We called Illinois Ma several times to let her know of our progress. The first call I made and she said, "oh! It's so quiet. There are no honking horns or anything." Furry Husband and I laughed a while about that one. I guess I wouldn't expect to hear honking horns as you were headed down a major Interstate at 85 mph?
An older man with a full white beard like Santa Claus passed us in his car with his window rolled down giving us a big, friendly wave. We of course waved back and then talked about all the different waves we get out in the country.
Everyone acknowledges you out here. Sometimes you get the barely imperceptible head nod. Other times as someone drives by, their hand is on the 12:00 position of the steering wheel and they will raise their index finger to "wave". The more friendly people will raise all 4 fingers. If someone actually lifts their other hand to raise up - not wave it - but hold it up much like you would imagine someone in court swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth - well that is just downright outgoing!
So today to get a big, friendly, wave - actual movement of the wrist and hand as they drove past ... and now that I think of it, he also had a big grin on his face ... well, it was really an odd sight to behold at 6am on our little dirt road!
There is a house on our way into town - right off of the paved 2 lane highway where many a car fly by. It is a great big house that someone had built and we watched it going up every day on the way to work for at least a year. There are even columns in front of this house it is so huge and they painted it light peach. Remember that color combo back in the 80's - peach and black? It's that color. The people that live there are slowly landscaping their front "lawn". We have no idea who they are.
Furry Husband has taken to honking his horn and waving enthusiatically out his window every time those people are out in front of their house.... they always wave back, stop what they are doing to watch our car head down the hwy and look more than a little perplexed. This makes me giggle. Furry Husband cracks me up on a daily basis. You know those people are wondering - "who IS that?!?"
And for the 9 people who read my posts... I am jumping up and down and giving you all a big wave hello with both hands! You see, I added this little map to the side of my post that will put red dots wherever someone is reading my blog. I thought it would stay this lonely, empty map devoid of red dots and I was posting to the black hole of the internet - it's not as if the things I write about are important, earth-shattering events after all.
Furry Husband came into the bedroom this morning before I had hauled myself outta bed to tell me there was another red dot. My eyes opened right up .... "for reals?! you aren't making it up?"
It's like Christmas getting up and opening my blog to see red dots on my map! Thank-you!
Saturday, August 9, 2008
We are so in. We went to dinner at the Rio Grande for Mexican food and they have KILLER margaritas. Then we headed over to the event center to watch girls skate and fight. How cool is that?
The rink was cement with an oval track taped out. There is a jammer - a player with a star on her helmet and they are the only ones who can score in a jam. There is a pack consisting of pivots who set the pace of the jam and blockers who protect their team jammer and try to destroy the opposing team's jammer.
The girls all wore different bottoms...tights, short skirts, short shorts, fishnet stockings, funky striped socks ...they all had team t-shirts on with killer names. Things like "Iona Switchblade" or "Pepper Slay". My personal favorite was " The Panty Christ "There were people of all ages - and I do mean ALL ages. We sat next to some sweet looking little ol' grammas. There were like 8 yr old girls holding up signs on poster board that said: MANGLE 'EM LAURA. No lie. They played music during the hour long bout consisting of several 2 minute jams. Music like Billy Idol, Salt N' Peppa, Pat Benatar - Hit me with your best shot, Kung Fu Fighting , Groove is in the Heart , Pump Up the Jam ... it was great! There was a lot of checking and blocking and dang - them girls go down hard! And sometimes there are multi-girl pile ups. It really was good humor.
The derby gals and many fans had a lot of tatoos - I felt woefully uninked. I bought a FOCO Derby Girls sticker and on the way home we thought of kewl derby names. I think mine would be Meet E. B. Ver --- there is a story behind that but maybe another time.
The next bout is set for October 25 at a skate rink in Ft. Collins. I am so marking my calendar!
I know farms that sold does to Haystack. I've heard of other goat dairies going under, but this is a dairy I've been to. Walked through. Learned from. They are only an hour away from me. It hits me much more personally. I was thinking of them while I was online ordering some more cheese making supplies for my feta, cheddar, fromage blanc... all my home made cheeses that I share with my friends and enjoy myself.
When we began learning about dairy goats, we'd go on weekend goat outings. One of our adventures led us to Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy owned by Jim Schott in Niwot, CO. We called Haystack and spoke to the herd manager about wanting to own dairy goats. She was very kind and professional and arranged a tour for us. She gave us a lot of great information about starting our own micro herd.
Haystack has been in business for at least 16 years and were one of the truly unique and interesting local agricultural businesses in Northern Colorado. Thousands have walked through their doors for tours and to buy delicious cheeses.
Dairies are a hard business. Feeding, vet care, housing, milking, breeding and caring for the dairy goats requires a lot of time, specific equipment and money. Haystack is yet another story of a small, local business having to cut back with bad economic times.
I know they will still be making their cheeses.... but somehow selling thier herd of 108 milking does seems like an awful big loss. Less grassroots... less real. People visiting Haystack could see the animals making milk for the delicious cheese they bought. They could SEE where their food was coming from. So many people go to the store never thinking about where their food really comes from. Everything is so sterilized and packaged and merchandised....
Now when people go to Longmont Creamery for a tour - they will see a large stainless steel milk tanker pull up, lots of tubes and holding tanks and equipment in a large sterile building. They'll never see the very beginning of the cheese making process....they won't see the animal whether it is a cow, sheep or goat.
To me, that is a very, very sad thing.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
You do not even want to know how Bequia scored these Mardi Gras beads....oh the horror and shame of it all!