Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bitten


Just wanted to share a quick and easy breakfast that we found on Mark Bittman's blog at http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com . I watch his blog thanks to my friend Liz turning me onto him and this came up the other day. Just so happens I had all this in the fridge (not much really and I used canadian bacon) but it is swell.

I've had it three mornings this week and it was easy to let cook while I was getting ready for the day. Grace wouldn't even try it but she'll warm up to it soon :0

Baked Egg with Prosciutto and Tomato

Yield 1 serving

Time 15 minutes

Mark Bittman
Evan Sung for The New York Times
Summary

The advantages of the baked egg are many: you can use one ramekin or 20; you can bake the eggs with oil or butter; and you can add whatever else you want -- for example, as I do here, butter, tomato and prosciutto.
Ingredients

* Butter or oil as needed
* 1 slice tomato
* 1 small slice prosciutto
* 1 egg
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method

* 1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Smear a bit of butter or oil in ramekin; line with tomato and prosciutto. Break egg into ramekin, then put on a baking sheet.
* 2. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until egg is set and white has solidified. Because the cup retains heat, egg will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven, so it is best to undercook it slightly. Precise time, in a good oven on a middle rack, is 12 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Variations

* You could put chopped cooked spinach or cooked asparagus in bottom of cup, with a little cream. Or place the egg on a bed of chopped ham, bacon or sausage. Sprinkle with Parmesan if you like.

I cooked mine for 20 minutes because I just don't like my egg whites runny AT ALL. I do like the yolk runny so you'll have to experiment with the time.

Try it! It's easy and yum!

Vacation Days

I'm thinking our cat Pansy will be glad when Christmas vacation is over. I found her in Grace's room this morning stuffed into a Barbie tote with Grace's stocking cap on her head and meowing. She was fine, but boy was she glad to get out of that tote! I can only imagine what was coming next, Grace had all her "doctor" tools out. Eeek!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Socks for Christmas Video

Here it is. It's a little long, 7 minutes but you'll get the point pretty quickly :) Fun pranks on the kiddo. What else are kids for right?

video

Christmas Past




We had a great Christmas this year. This was the second year we didn't exchange gifts with anyone including family with the Grace exemption of course. Grace was all over Christmas this year. She really knew what was going on and was into it. Of course she got A LOT OF SOCKS!

I'd mentioned earlier that I hoped Santa brought her some socks and she wasn't going to mention it to him because she didn't want to waste any Barbie gift giving potential on measly SOCKS.

Well, Dad, Susan, Mom, Bryon and I AND Santa...thought differently. We opened up gifts early Christmas Eve so Dad and Susan could get home before the imminent snow storm which turned out to be pretty dismal really. Still it was a white Christmas so you can't complain about that too much.

We secretly stacked the deck ahead of time and presented Grace with ALL the socks boxes (mostly wrapped separately) first. She was NOT impressed and actually started to get a little pissy about it. I thought Dad was going to pop a gasket laughing. She ended up with 42 pairs of socks! That was a LOT of socks! This included what Santa brought but he just hung them on the tree along with lots of other little "stocking stuffer" toys.





She got a little happier after the socks turned into more fun looking gifts. Of course Santa brought her four barbies the next morning so all was right with the world again. She even seemed a little happier about all the socks with the light of day.


Bryon made spaghetti carbonara Christmas Eve and it was scrumptious. It's pretty much his Christmas Eve specialty now since this makes two years in a row. It's the bomb.

Gary and Mom spent the night Christmas Eve and Mike came over Christmas morning for breakfast. Grace actually made it until 7:30 am before getting us all up so I thought that was pretty good really.

Christmas Day we pretty much spent eating and playing games, eating and playing games.

Grace and Bryon went out and she sledded behind the four wheeler until the snow turned to mud. Ruger pounced on and off of her and the sled and got a few good rides in too. It was his first snowfall and he was a nut. He really liked the snow.



Even though we didn't officially give or get gifts, Bryon ended up buying a new tv for the bedroom and I ordered my blog made into a book from Blog2Print.

Grace went home with Nana Friday night and comes home tomorrow and I spent the past two days undecorating the house. Christmas is like vacation...it's always fun to go, but it sure is good to be back home...and undecorated again.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Send it to Dr. Good!


Grace LOVES candy so much! Of course she gets that sweet tooth from me. Luckily for me she could take or leave the chocolate and likes the sour stuff best so she keeps me in good supply of chocolate.

Every day after school, she gets to pick three pieces out of her ongoing stash of various holiday candy, so the other day when she said she wanted a healthy snack of bananas and carrots I was really excited and told her how healthy and good for her that was.

She insisted I take this picture of her and her healthy snack and send it to her doctor, Dr. Good.

I haven't send it yet, but probably should. He'd appreciate it I'm sure :)

A Good Egg?


You never know what wonders are going to come out of those hens. I found this egg the other day. It looks like an unformed egg was still attached. We didn't eat it. It was probably okay, but it was just too weird.

The hens have really slowed down this fall and winter. I went from getting five or six eggs a day to two, one and some days none as they finally all molted for the first time. Crazy enough, the 21st of course was the shortest day of the year and they lay more or less according to the amount of daylight from what I've read. Well on the 21st and the 22nd I got four eggs each day!

I guess I'll probably raise some more layers this spring so we can keep up the egg production. We've been selling enough each month to at least pay for their feed and keep us in all the eggs we could want. You gotta love that!

The past month we haven't sold any though because one or zero eggs a day don't add up very fast. I'm hopeful they are ready to get back into production :)

Rats!







Okay, so they aren't exactly RATS but it is sort of crazy considering how much I try to keep mice OUT of the house or on a glue trap.

I found this cage and accessories at my favorite humane society thrift store in Camdenton for $20. I was going to give it to Grace for her birthday but after the fish debacle (we couldn't keep them alive for anything) I figured we'd be better off donating it AND the fish aquarium to the Niangua Preschool where Grace attends.

The kids have LOVED them both. Mrs. D is awesome with them and has managed to keep the fish AND the gerbils alive. We volunteered to bring the gerbils home to care for them over the long Christmas vacation. Grace is THRILLED and wants to get them out and play with them about every five minutes. I finally let her get them out a few hours ago and put her in the bathtub with them. I figured that was the safest place to avoid escape! Pansy can't hunt worth a damn, but I don't think pet gerbils are very predator savvy. Preschooler savvy yes, predators, not so much. AND I didn't want to have to hunt over all four thousand square feet of the house for them!!

So far so good. After one day they are still alive and well.

I had a horrible sick headache last night and into this morning (actually it only went away a few hours ago) and at 5 am Grace was awake on our first day of Christmas vacation and came in to ask if she could turn her light on and check on the gerbils. I told her yes, but then she had to go BACK TO BED!

I don't think she ever went back to sleep but mercifully she was kind enough to close her door and play quietly until 9 am.

Yes, I know how lucky I am.

The gerbils names are Spunky and Sissy. Boy and girl. So that likely means babies at some point. I'm thinking if they reproduce and the babies survive, maybe we'll get a cage for Grace. She's so sweet with them and they don't seem to be too much trouble so far.

We'll just have to add GERBILS to the chicken, cat, dog sitting routine when we go away for the House Sitter. Are you reading this Austin? :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You Might Be a Redneck...

Lest you think nothing has been happening around the Medley household, fear not.

Tuesday night Bryon was helping me frantically clean the house for my work Christmas party coming up on Friday, when he ran across some old flares we had bought when we went to Alaska in 2002. You know, flares, to signal for help in case a giant grizzly bear appeared in our roadside camp and proceeded to eat one of us.

Well the flares had also EXPIRED in 2002. Being a MAN, he decided to shoot them off our back deck about 8:30 pm just to see what they would do.

He ripped the cord on the first one and it pulled all the way out the back of the flare. A dud. He started to bring it back into the house and I told him no way, he should leave it out there in case it had a delayed reaction. As he spun around the thing just broke in half and fell to the deck. No big boom. No problem.

Not satisfied with the results, he picked up the next flare. Did I mention there were four in the pack? He ripped the cord and shazam, the thing zoomed out and arced over the pond in a red blaze of glory. Okay, I'll admit it was pretty cool.

Then, feeling cocky, he got the third flare, ripped the cord and it zoomed straight up into the air and then landed smack in the middle of our trampoline and proceeded to burn a two foot hole in the middle of the jump mat and then set the leaves UNDER the trampoline on fire.

Yes. A two foot hole.






I just could not believe it.

He took the other flare into the garage I guess and I walked out with a flashlight to see the damage. The thing AND the grass was still on fire so I yelled at him to come put it out before it burned the whole dang house down.

So now, I'm trying to figure out if we can buy a new jump mat. I sent an email to the company minutes after the event and a totally humorless drone replied to order it from their website. Seriously, could you not even COMMENT on the fact someone burned a hole in the thing with a flare?


The search continues for a new trampoline mat because I just haven't had time to pursue it.

I'm pretty sure this secures his place in the Niangua Redneck Community...as if it wasn't already.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Books I've Read in 2009

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine

The Shack by William P. Young

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin

Grace (Eventually)by Anne Lamott

A Year Without "Made in China"

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss

Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich

$64 Tomato by William Alexander

Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer by Tim Stark

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan

I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

The Eight by Katherine Neville

Fieldwork: A Novel by Mischa Berlinski

Sleeping Naked Is Green by Vanessa Farquharson

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes by Mark Bittman

Sharing the Harvest by Elizabeth Henderson

The End of Food by Paul Roberts

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton

Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton

Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton

Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton

Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton

Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton, Cynthia Holloway

Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton, Cynthia Holloway

Incubus Dreams by Laurell K. Hamilton, Cynthia Holloway

1984 by George Orwell

You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton

Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

Julia's Chocolates by Cathy Lamb

Better Off : Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende

Resolutions Resolved for 2009



Another year nearly gone. I can't believe how fast time goes. Luckily, since I plan to live to be 100 years old, I'm not even halfway there yet. The balance of my life is still before me. It's a good thing too, cause baby I've got PLANS!

As I look over my resolutions and goals for this last year, I can say I've had some successes. Even though I didn't reach or complete all my goals, I've made progress towards them or just decided to change course.

Here's the recap:

Resolutions, Goals and Life Lists
1. Watch less television (really hard for me because I'm a total addict, there should be a 12 step program or a patch).

Check! I made it 40 days this summer without watching television. It was nice but I also realized I REALLY like watching my "Mama shows" as Grace calls them. Basically any show she isn't allowed to watch she calls a "Mama show". You can read the full report if you missed it at http://medley3.blogspot.com/2009/06/true-end-of-tv-drought.html

2. Read 52 books in a year (which would be a lot easier if I watched less television).

Check! as of today, I'm on book number 57! That does not count the dozens of library books I've also read to Grace and numerous magazines. I can't believe I read that many books and should be able to get in one or maybe two more before the end of the year.


3. Eat no fast food for a year (I'm not sure that's even possible).

Nope. Didn't even really try this one. I did manage long stretches between trips to McDonalds, but working out most days of the week made this feel like an impossible task to me. I consider fast food any restaurant with a drive-thru. Something to work on in the future.

4. Plan our family meals a week/month at a time and shop for them accordingly.

Nope, didn't get this accomplished either, however, I am carrying it over to next year and hope to get things organized for a full scale attempt over the Christmas break!

5. Lose 20 pounds...again.

Nope. This is goal number one for me AND Bryon in the coming year. Grace said we should all do pushups together in a line upstairs so we can all be skinny in the middle. Bryon told her that we didn't want to be too skinny or too fat that we should be in the middle. She's going to be a real Drill Sergeant I can already tell.

6. Cut my hair (childhood hair trauma has kept my hair long for the past 25 years, again, I probably need a patch or 12 step program for this one too).

I did get it cut. Nothing drastic. It basically looks the same only shorter but still I got about 4+ inches cut off the back. I like it.



I waited until the end of the year, but it is finally accomplished!

7. Learn some Italian.

Nope.

8. Go to Italy (obviously learning some Italian would help this cause and Dawn and I are going to try to save enough money to go together the summer of 2010)

Nope. We are not going to Italy this summer after all. The economy conspired against Dawn and I. We still hope to go sometime in the future. Hopefully before 2012 when my passport expires!

9. Learn to play my really spectacular Taylor Big Baby guitar (or at least a few recognizable campfire worthy songs).

Nope. I think Grace and I can start taking some lessons together in 2010 because now she knows her LETTERS so she can start learning to read music. I'm hoping we can take lessons together one night a week and plan to go the music store in Marshfield to set things up for us over Christmas break.

10. Raise all of our own meat on the farm.

We were successful in raising all our chicken, eating the pork we raised last year and butchering deer Bryon killed. We still don't have any fencing to raise beef, so I've been buying grass fed burger from The Rockin H Ranch in Norwood. I'm hopeful once again for 2010 and we'll definitely raise meat chickens again and a pig if Bryon doesn't go hog hunting soon!

11. Learn to make cheese and bread.

Check on both. I can make rolls, ricotta and mozzerella now. I don't make cheese very often because it's so time consuming but we eat my homemade rolls weekly. Loaf bread is next on list.

12. Finish the last 12 mile section of the Ozarks Highland Trail in Arkansas (I have already hiked 153 miles of it).

Nope. I keep wimping out. Turns out I'm in terrible shape, I don't like the rain or cold and I just can't find the motivation to get this done....maybe next year.

13. Print last year's photos so I can scrapbook them.

Check! I printed them all out and now they are in a nice pile upstairs and suddenly I'm a year behind again. Oh well.

14. Scrapbook them.

Nope. I haven't "scrapbooked" in months. It seems the blog has become my scrapbook. I do have a nice pdf file of all my blogs to date that I hope to make into a book at some point if I can figure out how to make all the photos download correctly. So I figure that's better than nothing.

For 2010 I already have some things on my list that I'd like to accomplish and a few will carry over from last year of course. I just can't help myself.

A girl's just got to have a plan.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

O' Organic!



I am an Organic adulterer. I want to be married to Organic, but it's just too big a commitment. Organic is an expensive date. He's hard to find sometimes and keep track of. He's not always what he seems. So when he's feeling easy and available, I'm all over him. The other times...not so much.

I've had affairs on him with McDonalds and several, okay, EVERY other restaurant I've ever eaten at. I want to do better, but I just don't have the will power.

I've been trying to buy more organic foods for our family and incorporate them into out diet. It's not easy. There aren't very many choices in our little town, although the local Summer Fresh grocery store IS trying with a small little dedicated section. I try to buy SOMETHING from that section every time I go in the store, but I feel sorry for them because several of their dairy items have already expired by the time I'm there to consider buying them. I know that is not encouraging to them and they are likely losing money.

Walmart makes me mad too. They do have some organic products and produce but they are interspersed around the store and not easy to find. AND when I do find something I like, for example Del Monte organic tomato sauce, then the next time I go to stock up, it's not on the shelf anymore.

I can't, or more, WON'T go to the only "natural foods" store in Springfield to buy my groceries on a regular basis. I know it would be at LEAST twice as much, not to mention a HUGE inconvenience. My friend Liz kindly picks up the things I order from the Mt. Vernon Coop and delivers them to me on a regular basis. This is WONDERFUL! Especially for dry goods, health and body products etc. but I'm hesitant to buy dairy, refrigerated or frozen goods with close expiration dates because I KNOW I won't and can't make that hour trip to pick them up in a timely manner.

One of my goals for this year was to raise all our own meat on the farm. That still hasn't happened and since it's only 28 days until 2010, it's not looking hopeful. We did, however, raise all our own chicken this year, and have eaten almost all of the pig we butchered last January. Our sausage has been gone for months. Next time, more sausage!

Since we weren't able to get our fencing in AGAIN this year, I bought grass fed burger from the Rocking H Ranch in Norwood all summer. I plan to keep doing that until we have our OWN beef.

We supplement with deer as well. Bryon got two this year and our friends bought one of them (paid for the processing). We had it made into breakfast sausage this time which has turned out suprisingly well. It could have been a bit spicier but we'll know next time. We were eating it in ziti the other night and Bryon pointed out that our deer was most likely NOT organic.

I hadn't even thought about that but he's right. The WILD deer he killed that has foraged off the land for the past two to five years has more than likely eaten a goodly quantity of Monsanto genetically modified and Roundup Ready corn and soybeans from our neighbors fields. In fact, our closest neighbor is BEGGING hunters to come and kill his deer. He figures they've eaten close to four entire rows from one field which accounts for several bushels of corn which to a small farmer translates into dollars lost.

I think that's just nuts. A WILD and NATURAL animal that could not even be stamped organic because it's diet has been corrupted by Monsanto.

What's next?