Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Miracle Juice

A. is on the slow road to recovery, but is still feeling some of the effects of the flu. One of those effects is a constant need for liquids. His liquids of choice? Lemonade and mulberry juice. He says the mulberry juice in particular seems to have energizing qualities.

So, not only does mulberry juice contribute to some excellent cocktails, it will also bring you back from the near-death experience of the flu.

Or at least keep you hydrated, which is almost the same thing.

Friday, December 18, 2009


A. is still sick. This flu is a bitch, man. So, in an effort to both comfort and sustain the invalid, last night I prepared for him his preferred sick food: The Nourishment.

The Nourishment is custard. But not just ANY custard. It's a custard recipe I got from a cookbook I have called The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook, written by Christopher Kimball, the bow-tied founder of Cook's Illustrated. I'm not such a fan of Mr. Kimball (really, dude--the bow tie? nothing but an irritating affectation), but I am a fan of many of his recipes. And this recipe, which is actually called "American Baked Custard" in the book, is one of the good ones. It calls for a full cup of heavy cream, among other things. And it's the cream that makes it nourishing, of course. And delicious, but that goes without saying.

Now, it would never have occurred to me on my own to make custard for A. when he's sick, because I'm not really a custard person myself. Too eggy. So it's not a comforting thing for me. But I learned very early on in our marriage (after a particularly nasty cold when A. mentioned in a self-pitying tone that all he really wanted to eat was custard) that The Nourishment is what makes A. feel loved and cared for. And so he gets The Nourishment when he's sick.

Personally, I prefer things like leek and potato soup when I'm sick; anything with pureed potatoes is guaranteed to make me feel better.

What about you, duckies? What nourishment do you long for when you're feeling sickly?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter Produce

It's definitely winter. There's snow on the ground, snow falling outside, wind and plummeting temperatures . . . the whole works. But there are still vegetables in the garden. I think that's just nifty.

The harvesting of those vegetables, however, is distinctly less nifty. The collards aren't so bad--they just have to be cut off the stem. But the parsnips and leeks need to be dug up. And that requires spending some time out in the wintery weather, scraping away a layer of snow and half-frozen leaves (which help keep the ground from freezing around the vegetables) with a shovel that has ice on the handle. It's not quite as pleasant as plucking tomatoes from the vine in the warm sunshine, that's for sure.

On the up side, we have the perfect house for storing apples. All those apples I picked up the other day from the orchard couldn't fit in the refrigerator. The cellar is too damp, the first pantry* can get below freezing. But the house itself is perfect cold storage. At least the unheated parts. So I put the apples in the parlor, which gets no heat at all but has the advantage of being downstairs so I don't have to climb stairs to get to the apples. Handy.

Incidentally, I made leek and potato soup with those leeks. And that soup is pretty much the epitome of the Dirty Vegetable experience. Yuck. Tasted good, though, so I guess that makes up for mud in the sink.

I think I'll be going now. Peace out.

* Yes, there is a second pantry as well. But before you get all misty-eyed imagining the advantages of having two big pantries, I should tell you that both are almost outdoors, and are therefore subject to the vagaries of weather and rodents. There's not a lot of food stored in them, is what I'm saying. Mostly empty jars and canners and things.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ice Breakers

Know what's an immediate conversation starter? Sheep. Even if the person you're talking to doesn't have sheep, they'll have lots of questions about your sheep. And if that person has sheep of their own? Well. The conversation could go on for hours.

I have noted this before, and had another demonstration of it the other day when I stopped at the local orchard to stock up on apples before they close for the season. I heard some sheep somewhere on the property as I was walking into the shop. I didn't know they had sheep at all, since the sheep are kind of in the back out of sight. I was talking to the proprietor as I was getting my apples and before I knew it, 15 minutes had gone by and we were debating the relative merits of different varieties of hay and how often the sheep should be grained in the winter.

It's times like these that I have to laugh at myself (silently, of course, because the alternative would be way creepy). Because really, when did I become the person who can speak intelligently about first-cut hay and supplements? Sometime in the last couple of years, apparently.

This life. It just keeps on surprising me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy(?) Birthday

A. started getting sick yesterday. He woke up at 3:30 this morning with fever and chills. As I was getting him some aspirin, it occurred to me that 3:30 a.m. meant it was officially December 15. So I wished him happy birthday. He's 29 today. The flu is his birthday present, apparently.

So, instead of a happy birthday, I will now wish a healthy birthday to my incomparable husband: builder of gates, ponds, and barns; fearless chef; and the innovative mind that brought us the woodchuck snow plow.

The world is a more interesting place because he's in it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Good Times

Nothing starts the week off right like cleaning out the woodstove and inhaling enough ashes that the tissue is gray when I blow my nose.


Happy Monday! How's your week starting out?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do I HAVE To Have a Title?

Because it's not as if this post has a theme or a point or anything. I'm not even sure I really have a post here. Things I was considering this morning:

1) Why the dogs were allocated all over the place in weird spots this morning. On a normal morning, Mia, Rita, and Leda are in the small pen by the house and Otty is in the back hall (she'll jump out of the pen). The MiL put the dogs away last night, and I got up this morning to find Mia in the kitchen, Otty and Rita in the back hall, and Leda by herself in the pasture. There were apparently high jinks and adventures after I went to bed last night involving misplaced dogs and one very confused and frustrated MiL. Also, Rita is running around on three legs. She seems to have pulled a muscle in her back leg. It was all very discombobulating.

What a great word "discombobulating" is.

2) The Williams-Sonoma catalog is ridiculous. Who buys this stuff? Who has $400 to spend on a knife? And how can I get in touch with those people and convince them to send some money to ME instead, since they seem only too willing to part with said money?

3) After I peel and eat an orange, I usually just rinse my hands off instead of washing them with soap. I love the unexpected whiffs of orange scent that I catch for a little while afterward. It's so refreshing. My hands smell like orange peel right now, incidentally.

4) Today is the last day of hunting season. Well, regular deer hunting, that is. It's still black powder season for a week or so. But so few people take advantage of the black powder season that we don't worry about it too much. This is nice because when the dogs sneak off, we no longer have to wonder if they're going to get shot by a hunter before they get home. We do still have to worry about them dragging bits and pieces of deer carcasses home for quite some time, however. The skulls are really my favorite. Ew.

5) There is no heat in the study at the moment, which means my hands are freezing and I don't want to type anymore.

Over and out.