Saturday, October 16, 2010

Glorious Anticipation

A. and I went out to dinner last night.

Allow me to repeat that for added emphasis: A. and I went out--out!--to dinner last night.

To say this is a rare occurrence would be vastly understating the situation. But the MiL mentioned in the morning that she would be home last night baking things for a church tea today. Which meant she was available to listen for any unexpected wailing after Cubby went to sleep. He goes to sleep at 6:30 p.m., which meant if I ignored my usual no-eating-dinner-after-7 p.m. preference, we could make it to the Small City for dinner by 7:15.

And so, in defiance of my usual schedule, the rain pouring down outside, and the early darkness, we set out last night for dinner out.

It was a pretty heady experience, let me tell you. We shared a bottle of wine. An eight-dollar bottle of Lambrusco, to be specific, which is, yes, extremely cheap and extremely sweet, which makes it extremely to MY liking. A. managed to eat all of his enormous serving of veal parmesan, along with two mozzarella sticks, two stuffed mushrooms, and two Clams Casino that came on our appetizer platter. I limited myself to the two pieces of garlic bread. And then an extra piece of plain bread with butter.

Between the three slices of bread and the wine, by the time my four excessively large ravioli and a single really excessively large meatball arrived, I was pretty full. And that is why I am in a state of glorious anticipation today. Because I have restaurant leftovers for lunch.

The only thing better than going out to eat is going out to eat AND coming home with food for lunch the next day. Ravioli and meatball, here I come. Again.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Change of Direction

I was all set today to tell you all about the sweet potatoes I unearthed in the garden yesterday when I half-heartedly poked around the vines with the shovel, not expecting to find anything because we have completely ignored the sweet potatoes and they got taken over by the butternut squash vines, but LO, there were two sweet potatoes in the one spot I dug. YAY!

But then I decided that since it's Friday, I'd skip the wholesome garden post and instead go straight to the liquor.

Yes! Alcohol Friday, that incredibly infrequent but nonetheless riotously fun tradition, returns! WHEEE!!

So. Remember all that cider we have? (Thanks, Alyssa and Jodi!) I was wondering why there don't seem to be any hot alcoholic drinks made with cider, like a hot toddy with cider or something. Because virgin hot cider isn't enough for me. No, I feel the need to make it all decadent and liquored up. Also, I felt like a drink last night and it was like 40 degrees outside and raining, so ice cubes didn't seem appealing.


I put this query to A. and the MiL, neither of whom had ever heard of such a thing. Oh, but the Internet has!

A quick search turned up this website, that had many, many options for drinks made with apple cider, most with incredibly stupid names. Who names these things? Whoever it is obviously didn't have the assistance of my clever readers.


There were several hot drinks listed, and I was briefly enticed by a few that use rum, because I like rum, but then I got to the Snortin' Buffalo Cider (SEE? See what I mean about the names? Really, that's ridiculous). It includes cider, cloves, and Buffalo Trace bourbon. The MiL totally randomly brought home a bottle of Buffalo Trace a couple of weeks ago, something none of us had ever had and something she bought on a whim after happening upon a bourbon tasting in progress when she was at the liquor store. I figured this was Fate stepping in to make my decision for me, and so that's what I made.

It was really, really good. There were no amounts listed in this recipe, so I just filled a pretty big mug with cider, got it nice and hot in the microwave, dumped in a shot of bourbon and two cloves and called it good. Although, how in the hell are you supposed to drink something that has whole cloves floating in it? I invariably get the clove in my mouth with every sip and end up having to spit it back into the cup every time. Charming.

A. liked it too, which is unusual because he generally likes much stronger drinks in which the alcohol is the prominent taste (like an Old Fashioned--ewwww). But for something to just sip while sitting around the woodstove, this was perfect.

I think the next time I make this (and there will be a next time, oh yes), I'll add a little cinnamon. Because you can't really go wrong with cinnamon and cider. Also, then I can give it a different name because it varies slightly from the original recipe. And really, that name is just too lame.

Or maybe I'll just work my way through ALL the drinks in that list. After all, Alyssa did say the cider-pressing yielded ten gallons of cider, and that I could take some more. And we wouldn't want it to go BAD, now would we? No, that would be a shame. So, cider and bourbon for all! Or cider and vodka. Or cider and rum. Or just cider, if you're feeling temperate. And no fun.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wild America

A. and the MiL took the dogs on a walk up back yesterday evening after dinner. They returned in almost full darkness, with stories of a coyote pack that A. had more or less run into in a copse of trees when he heard the dogs fighting one of them* and went searching for the dogs. He was standing there in a little thicket, in almost complete darkness, watching shadows moving through the trees that he thought were our dogs. It took him a minute to realize that they weren't our dogs. That he was standing in the darkness with a pack of coyotes.

Coyotes in the east are no joke. My experience with coyotes in Arizona led me to believe that all coyotes are scrawny, cringing creatures that avoid people at all costs. Coyotes in the east, however, are genetically part wolf**, and they look and behave accordingly. They're large--50 or 60 pounds--they move in packs, and they are aggressive. A. told me he had a knife with him that he could have used if necessary, but that he wasn't in any danger because coyotes only attack small women and children.

Well, THAT makes me feel better.

I'll tell you one thing: When Cubby is older, he is never going into those woods without one or more dogs at his side.

* The dogs are fine. They appear to have only engaged a single, relatively small coyote, thankfully avoiding the rest of the pack.

** Go here for a really interesting
New York Times article about this very subject.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I am of the opinion that you* shouldn't go around talking about what you should be doing, or what you meant to do. At the risk of sounding like the hackneyed Nike slogan . . . you should JUST DO IT. Which is why I was starting to annoy even myself with the jalapenos.

I've been talking about pickling jalapenos for literally months now. In fact, I bet if I tried, I could find a reference to it even on this site. (Ah yes--here we have it.) I talked about needing to do it. I talked about meaning to do it. I talked about not having done it. I did exactly the thing that irritates me the most. And then FINALLY, yesterday morning, I just did it. It took me all of an hour to prepare and can five pints of jalapenos. Probably less time than I spent talking about needing to do it. Irritating.

If I ever do this again, would you just tell me to shut up and get moving already? Thank you.

* I use "you" here in the ungrammatical, non-accusatory way, because saying "one" all the time, though correct, makes me feel like a pretentious ass.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Hate These Kind of Phone Calls

The lambs decided to celebrate Columbus Day yesterday by going exploring. Into the road. What is with the sheep and the road recently?

I was informed of this little lamb adventure by a phone call from our neighbor around noon. I said a very bad word (not related to my neighbor, obviously, just a commentary on my feelings of the situation generally), thanked her hastily, and hung up. By the time I got downstairs, got my shoes on, found a bowl, and filled the bowl with corn, the MiL had collected the wayward lambs and was herding them up the driveway.

Someone once asked how we can stand to eat our lambs. Things like this make it a lot easier.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Unbearable Wholesomeness

We attended a party yesterday. This is a fairly notable event for us, as our social life was not exactly frantic even before we had a baby. And now that we do have the baby, who has to go to bed at 6:30 p.m., there is even less going out than there was before. Which is why I was so excited when Alyssa (remember Alyssa from the Pasta Making Adventure?) called and said she was having a cider-pressing party Sunday afternoon. And there would be soup and bread. And I didn't need to bring anything. And we would get to take some cider home.

A party in the early afternoon at which I get to eat without having to cook AND I can take home cider? I AM SO THERE.

Actually, we were all there--Cubby, A., and I. This was a family friendly event. So family friendly, in fact, that of the 18 people in attendance, six of those people were under the age of four. As a matter of fact, five of those people were under the age of two. That's a whole mess of babies. It was pretty amusing. Babies of all ages and sizes everywhere I looked.

But of course, we were really there to make cider. And LORD, were there a lot of apples to ciderfy.

Apples having a soak.

They weren't actually soaking in anything--the bathtub was just a handy place to store them.

Before cider is pressed out of the apples, the apples must first be all chewed up into a kind of mash. This is A. operating the crank on the chewing machine, with some assistants to cut apples into manageable pieces and feed the apples into the chewer.

I'm sure it has a technical name, but I like chewing machine. It sounds so tasty.

And here is the oldest of the children in attendance taking a turn at chewing up apples.

Plus, there was the promised soup (beef stew and a white bean and kale soup) and bread (OH such good homemade bread with butter--I ate like four pieces because I am a bread hog). Plus pork loin, sauerkraut and kielbasa, lemon meringue pie, and apple cake. I didn't take a picture because I was far too busy stuffing my face.

In fact, I didn't do much except eat at this party. Well, eat and sit on a blanket with Cubby.

A. spent most of the time cranking the actual cider press, which I seem to have failed to take a photo of. Though you can see it on the far left-hand side of the first photo with the apples in the bathtub. It has a big screw part that has to be wound to press down on the apples. So that's what A. did almost all afternoon. Although he did have a little time to hang with Cubby.

Why the sour face, Cubby?

Then, when there was still about half a bathtub full of apples, the metal plate that presses on the apples cracked right in two and Jodi (remember him from the Lumber Milling Adventure? He's Alyssa's husband) had to cut a new one out of an oak board. And then we had to go home because Cubby was in a catatonic state and looked about ready to collapse face-first into a vat of cider. So I'm not sure if they actually finished pressing all those apples.

But I came home with a gallon of cider, a quart of beef stew, and a very tired baby. Now that's what I call a party.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

More Evidence That I Suck at Photography

As if I haven't provided ample evidence of that already.

A. was entertaining Cubby yesterday while I collapsed on the couch in a sleep-deprived and mucous-beset swoon. Cubby has pretty recently gotten the hang of sitting up, which means, as A. discovered, that he can now sort of sit on Daddy's shoulders. If Daddy is vigilant in holding him with both hands so he doesn't go plummeting six feet off of Daddy's shoulders when he decides to fling himself backwards because the EXCITEMENT IS ALL TOO MUCH.

It is pretty exciting up there, what with the great fun of yanking at Daddy's hair and the close proximity to his beloved chandeliers.

Anyway, so Cubby was perched on A.'s shoulders, crowing with delight and grinning like a loon. I managed to recover sufficiently from my swoon to notice the Extreme Bonding occurring before my bloodshot and burning eyes. So I grabbed the camera from the table next to me and took a picture. Bonding moment captured! I am the recorder of the family memories! The maker of nostalgia!


We were inside. With no lights on. And directly behind the scene of enchantment I was attempting to capture was a very bright, sunny window. What this means is that I got a very nice silhouette of father and son, but it was just solid black. So you can't see the expression on Cubby's face or anything*. Yay me!

I fiddled with exposure and things in the photo software and managed to get it to where you can kind of see the actual people in the shot, but I think it still pretty much rates an F for photographic success.


* It also means you can't see that they're both wearing flannel shirts. It figures that I would finally get the father/son flannel shirt photo and you can't see the shirts. I am awesome.