Saturday, February 16, 2013

Boil, Toil, and Trouble

If I may take liberties with Shakespeare.  There is certainly lots of toil and trouble emptying 70 buckets full of maple sap.  And there is a whole lot of boiling to be done before the 100 gallons or so that A., Mr. Jason, and Jodi collected in just a few days reduces to syrup.

But the boiling has commenced.  Sugarin' has begun, and by tomorrow evening, we'll have maple syrup again.

Bring on the pancakes. We're almost ready.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Say It With Garbanzo Beans

I'm late with my Valentine's Day wishes today, I know, but that's mostly because I didn't even remember it was Valentine's Day until well into the day.  The romance is obviously thick on the ground around here.

So!  Happy Valentine's Day, my lovelies!  Because I love you and don't want you to have to suffer sub-standard hummus any longer, I want to share with you my experience making that particular foodstuff this past weekend.  Sharing is caring, and I care enough about you to make sure you know how to avoid nasty grainy hummus.  The method for avoiding that travesty was originally shared* by the brilliant mind behind Smitten Kitchen (the current recipe there right now for salted caramel brownies makes me want to eat the picture right off the screen).

You ready?  Okay.

You have to peel the chickpeas.  Or garbanzo beans.  Whatever you call 'em, they gotta go into that food processor nekkid.

I know.  You all just stopped there and started making snide comments in your head (or possibly out loud--I have no way of knowing) about crazy people with too much time on their hands.  I understand.  I had the same thoughts.  But I also thought about the unpleasant graininess of hummus and how I kind of hate that.  I'm sensitive to food textures, and that graininess was not a happy thing.  But I love hummus.  So when I was presented with a way to lose the graininess and still eat hummus, I knew I would have to try it.

Then we had a party on Sunday, which of course gave me a reason to make hummus.  And, as a bonus, my mother was here, which meant someone to entertain Cubby while I skinned chickpeas.  AND, further bonus, my sister was here, which meant someone who jumped right in and helped me skin said chickpeas.  We did two 15.2 ounce cans in, oh, about ten minutes.

Every single person who witnessed this skinning--including the MiL and even my own mother--voiced their disbelief that I was willing to skin chickpeas.  Surely, they said, that's unnecessary.  Surely, they said, it won't make that much difference.  Surely, they didn't say but I'm sure thought in their heads, you are completely off your head to even consider such a thing.

And you know what?  They all ate their words.  And the hummus.

Every person who ate that hummus agreed that yes, it made a difference. A big one. And yes, it was worth it to skin the chickpeas.

In conclusion, if you love hummus, love yourself enough to spend the time to skin the chickpeas.  Because you deserve smooth, un-grainy hummus.  We all do.

* For some reason, I ended up needing a lot more water than called for in the recipe to make it not so pasty.  I also used a little olive oil when I was blending it up and I only had half the amount of lemon juice recommended.  I definitely wanted more lemon flavor--though not enough to drive twenty miles roundtrip to procure the necessary lemons--but it was still delicious.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Things I've Neglected To Tell You

Forget Mardi Gras beads and birthday cake (two birthday cakes, actually, plus a King Cake, because we are all about the baked excess), maybe I should mention we have bottle lambs.

Yup.  For the first time in the five years we've had lambs, we have two that A. is feeding by himself.  They're two vigorous male lambs and their mother, though willing, never produced any appreciable milk.  So A. trudges out to the pasture every six hours or so to feed them with a bottle.  I think it's making him very appreciative that our own offspring have never had to have bottles.  Pain in the ass, for sure.  But the lambs are doing well.

The current lamb count is four.  One female, three males, and two unfortunate lambs we lost earlier. Sad.

Also, I should mention that we started tapping maple trees this past weekend.  My visiting mom and sister came with us to put in the spiles on Saturday.  A definite act of bravery, considering the horrid wind and low temperatures.  My sister also cleaned all the buckets and spiles for us.

Seriously, WHY does anyone visit me anymore?

Anyway.  The sap is running now.  We've collected about ten gallons from our trees in the past couple of days, and Mr. Jason, who is obviously completely insane, put in 70 spiles.

You read that right: 70.  Mr. Jason is obviously either working on building up his pectorals by hauling a thousand pounds of sap, or totally crazy.  I'm going with crazy.

So there's going to be a LOT of boiling of sap this year.  Also a lot of maple syrup.  Hooray.  We're out, so we gotta get on that.

That's all for now.  Over and out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Since We Can't All Travel to New Orleans . . .

Happy Fat Tuesday, duckies!  The majority of us, being responsible adults with all those dull responsibility things, can't join in the bacchanalian celebrations for Mardi Gras today.  So allow me to share with you the spirit of Mardi Gras we tried to create for Cubby's birthday party.  Minus the spirituous libations.  And nudity.  And . . . okay, so mostly we just had a lot of beads.  Plus masks and balloons.

There was also a King Cake supplied by my mother via the bakery in New Orleans she always gets her King Cakes from, which Cubby got to have for breakfast on his actual birthday.  Cake covered in an inch of colored sugar for breakfast?  A celebration, indeed.

If you can't manage a King Cake today, at least go get something sugary or alcohol-y in solidarity.  It's Fat Tuesday.  Over-consumption is pretty much mandatory. Even if you're not on Bourbon Street.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Happy birthday to
the incomparable Cubby.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sneak Peek

Birthday parties don't get any better than this.