Hatching Free Range Ideas

Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Chocolate, decadent and simple

In Uncategorized on December 28, 2010 at 5:11 pm

This was an experiment that turned out, so I thought I’d share. This is a cross between straight ganache and Idiot’s Pot de Creme.

We were having another couple over for dinner. That meant we had an excuse for dessert. Point one: always keep lots of good chocolate in the house as well as cream and anything is possible.

Bloom one package of gelatin in 1/4 c. water
Melt a cup of chopped dark, bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler
Take off heat and mix in a cup of cream ’til thoroughly blended.
Add 1/2 c. water and 1/4 c. sugar into the small pan holding the bloomed gelatin. Simmer until all sugar is dissolved and the gelatin is incorporated.
Remove from the heat and mix the two mixtures together. Stir in a generous 1/4 c. of sherry.
Pour into small dishes (4 oz will do) and chill for 4-6 hours.

Point two: Watch people eat this. All dessert should be licked off the spoon just like this.


Consider the turkey

In Uncategorized on December 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm

This year for Christmas I cooked a turkey. No big, I’ve cooked plenty of turkeys. And we didn’t cook on for Thanksgiving so no turkey leftovers, my favorite after Thanksgiving memory. Here’s what I learned:

If you’re only going to make one every three or four years, they deserve consideration.

1. Buy a quality turkey. Cheap ones are tough. I think they use them first for Turkey Racing and then retire them early.

2. Pay attention to the turkey. Don’t just lay butter under the skin, salt and pepper and think you’re done. You’re not.

3. Dressing is better than stuffing. Add butter too.

4. Leftover turkey is good two times, once as a cold sandwich on cheap sandwich bread with lots of salt and mayo. Then as an open-faced hot turkey sandwich, piled with dressing and slathered in leftover gravy.

5. Once every two to three years is enough.

All I want for Christmas is my Shoendelier

In Uncategorized on December 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm

It’s Up!!! 

It might get further embellishment, but for now, I love it!

Flourless Chocolate Cake for Christmas

In Let's eat on December 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Try this cake recipe. Really easy to put together. Amazing taste. No one will know how easy it is.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees


Grease and cocoa powder an 8 inch cake pan.

Melt 1 stick butter and 8 oz. good semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler. Pull off heat.

Add chocolate/butter mix to 3 beaten eggs, ¾ c. sugar and 1 t. vanilla.

Mix well.

Pour into pan and bake on middle rack for 40 minutes.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes (and no less!)

Turn out on rack (I put on parchment paper so that it didn’t stick to the rack. Cool completely.

Pour soft chocolate ganache over the top.



Equal parts whipping cream and chocolate, melted in double boiler, with some vanilla.

Bit of butter to make it shiny.

Pour over cake. If you need to thin it, add a bit more cream.


The elasticity of Time in the tunnels

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2010 at 1:54 am

Two years ago, I wrote about spending time in tunnels as a way to make sense of a monumental event. You might remember it; you might not.

Time in the tunnels is time out of time. I’ve been headed toward the tunnels now for a while, trying to make sense of the transition between being a daughter and being an independent adult.

Two weeks ago, Dad died. The week spent on the business of death became a day. I was surprised when I came home and the world hadn’t stopped. The cucumbers that I had “just bought” were slimy, the prosciutto a bit strong. (The dogs don’t mind.)

Dad led a magical life. Up until the last 6 months or so of his life, he didn’t do anything that he didn’t love doing. And that was 88.5 years of it. Below is a recollection of the life he had on the farm which followed Grampa’s ranch adventures. While the text describes a work-filled existence, the affection with which he recalls it is evident. Thanks, Dad, for leaving us this memory of a part of your life we didn’t know.

The farm year “began” in the spring. That’s when most crops were planted, after the long Kansas winters. Plowing, harrowing, planting, these were tractor operations. For row crops like corn, there followed weeding and thinning with a horse drawn two-row cultivator, and ultimately a hoe. You have no idea how big a forty acre field looked to the guy with the hoe. According to my slop-jar calculations it actually added up to about 250 miles of hoeing.) Obviously it wasn’t a weekend job for one man, nor was it one that elicited a lot of enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, it was a job that was most often undone, or was done in a generally lackadaisical manner when nothing more pressing was in view.

When planting was complete and thinning and weeding done to whatever minimal level demanded, we waited for the crops to mature. However, on a 247 acre diversified farm there was always something more pressing to do, since 247 acres; only about three quarters in farmland (the rest in woods) needed all the help it could get to provide a living for a family of four. For us the something-else was feeding animals, (as you have already learned) hogs and calves for market, fed-sheep for the wool clip, the work animals, cats and dogs because they were there and on a farm they were essential.

The cats early learned to go with us to the milking barn, where they sat expectantly and ready for the occasional squirt of milk to the face. They got good at this form of exterior ballistics in a very short time and the spatter-level on their faces declined dramatically All these animals had to be fed twice a day, and every day. After the chores and work were done, after supper, the evening was pretty much “free time”, except for Mom. I don’t think her day ever ended.

When school was on, for Walt and me evening was homework time. Since we had a pretty good library (acquired by Dad’s careful selection over most of a lifetime) we could work on papers and assignments at home by the light of Coleman gasoline lanterns. At the end of the evening when we turned off the lamps, Coleman-like, ours continued a constantly-dimming glow as we went up the stairs and into bed, the light eventually gently dying on its own to usher in the night. It was like they understood.

And one more excerpt from Dad’s time in Venezuela, another grand adventure in a life filled with them.

In the truly undissected areas of this expanse of limitless distance, there were occasional “bombas”, vertically walled shallow pits, perhaps thirty to fifty yards across, two to three meters deep, water-filled in the rainy season, bone dry in the dry season. To me they appeared to have been formed by loss of fine grained silts and sands by subsurface flow to the bluff-like margins of the llanos during seasonal fluctuations in the water table. They were so well concealed by the flat terrain and knee-high grass that a too-fast approach could almost instantly submerge the jeep (or land it with a monumental crash and accompanying stream of profanity) in a very large empty “swimming-pool”.

I yet clearly remember one time when I was driving for pleasure, at night. It was beautifully clear, bright moonlight. I was driving with two or three other field camp friends, when dead ahead we suddenly saw a bomba. I admit I don’t react well to shouted instructions in potential emergencies. I clearly remember hearing screams, “go right”, and almost at the same time another, “go left!” Apparently while mulling this over in an effort to resolve the conflicting recommendations, we plunged off straight ahead into a flooded bomba.

There was an almost-thunderous splash, and then dead silence. We were sitting in a jeep completely submerged in very clear water. It was noticeably cool, about mid-chest deep to those of us in the jeep. I still vividly remember the sudden and absolute silence, and the brilliant shine of the submerged head-lights, gleaming from under the beautifully clear, cool-cool water.

I haven’t responded to friends’ calls or concerns. You see, I can only hear them faintly from deep in the tunnels, but I did hear them. So, thank you.

I’m almost ready to emerge again, but I think it will take some time for the last vestiges of this cocoon to rot off. I think I’m a moth. Or Mothra.

Private sheltering — foundlings need a good home . . . or two

In Sustainability, Uncategorized on December 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Santa Fe, New Mexico, had a no-kill shelter when I lived there 16 years ago, where we got Ursa.  While we were shopping, we saw one of the long term doggie residents take a break in the break room with one of the shelter people. Both were permanently attached to each other.

No kill shelters seem to be few and far between in Texas, especially the San Antonio area. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t dogs that deserve to be adopted. We live out in the country, which means that @#$%!!&^**#$%% humans dump their unwanted dogs out here. I can’t imagine what would make a dog unwanted enough to abandon it to fate. Dogs, humans’ finest companion, deserve better treatment.

So, Eric and I gather, shelter and adopt them out. They get checked by the vet, get their shots and get neutered, thereby reducing the unwanted population of puppies. I have other friends who do the same thing, either now or in the past.

Long lead in. Here are the latest foundlings:

The red one’s name is Ruby; the black one is Olive. They are both housebroken and sweet, laid back dogs. They were spayed yesterday and are housebound for a week.

Ruby appears to have some shepherd, red heeler and other parts in her. She is about 6 months old and weighs 31 pounds. She’s a snuggler.

Olive appears to be 1/3 black lab and that’s it. With her short legs, she only got a 1/3 of a dog. Okay, maybe there’s some dachshund in there too. She’s jaunty, snuggling only when she wants to. Olive weighs 27 pounds. Both are portable.

Both are portable sweet dogs who need good homes.

So what does this mean to you? If you don’t need a good dog (’cause you already have one. . . or two), think about who you know who might need one. These come certified as good dogs by someone who knows good dogs and they deserve a good home.

And thanks to those who so wonderfully adopted other doggies, ours or others. As Eric says, “We care because someone has to.”