Archive for the 'food' Category

Of rodents and cheese

There are these mountain rats that are really cute (and Heidi thinks they’re tasty) but they really can’t live in our garage and collect all of our shiny items in their nests. Between the actual pack rats and my husband’s pack-ratish ways, there was a giant mess in the garage. I should have taken a before picture, but it was just so terrible… The car barely fit and there was rat and mouse poop everywhere. This is the product of nearly 2 straight days of cleaning over the weekend. By me.
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I plugged a bunch of holes, both from the garage to the house, and from the garage to outside, with either metal sheet or steel wool. Hopefully that keeps them from getting out. Happily we have vigilant and capable cats, so the mice and rats don’t live long if they come in the house. So far I’ve killed 4 mice and a rat in the garage, but the mice laugh at our attempts to get rid of them. That is a mouse nest in a box of mouse killer.
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In more pleasant news, I also made a soft cheese (lactic cheese) over the weekend, and it turned out quite tasty. It’s sort of the consistency of soft cream cheese, but tangier, and it made for delicious filling for crepes for Sunday breakfast along with some blueberries. I’ve also mixed it with some Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute spice mix, which is very tasty on toast or crackers.
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Shameless bragging about my husband

See this? This is my husband and the amazing cider press he built completely from scratch. Well, we had the motor for the grinder sitting around (if by any chance our old friends the Redheds ever read this, I think that motor came from your house…) but everything else he put together. Because he is a genius.
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Another angle. Look at those amazing pinned mortise and tenon joints! My contributions were knowledge of cider pressing to help with some design decisions, and making a mesh bag. Real difficult.
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Look, I can work it too! We got 220 lbs of apples from Ken’s co-worker’s (unsprayed) trees. It took us forever to make the cider because we had to cut so much out of all of the apples because of all the bugs. His coworker can be forgiven because they just moved into the house, but spray your trees, people. We ended up with 11 gallons of cider, six of which is currently fermenting.
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I think the plain, unfermented cider will always be my favorite though. Delicious.
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Prickly Pear Fruit Sorbet

We have multitudes of prickly pears on our property. Actually, we have a lot less than we did, I pulled out two dumpsters full of cacti in late September. However, there are still enough remaining to make as much prickly pear fruit sorbet as a body could desire.

You have to pick the fruit with a tongs, because they’ve got the tiny little spines that are impossible to see or pull out, but will remain painful for days and days. Here’s my modest harvest.
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After you pick them, you hold them with tongs and scrub them off under water with a stiff scrub brush. This removes the evil spines. You then puree the fruits in a blender and strain out all of the seeds. As a gross side note, something, maybe raccoons, like to eat the fruit, because during late summer there are turds around that are completely composed of cactus seeds. I can’t imagine how they manage to eat the fruit, maybe they have their own version of an under-water scrub brush?

Once you have the juice, you mix it with sugar and lime juice, then freeze it in an ice cream freezer. It is a very pretty color and has a nice flavor. There was something weird about ours, it didn’t freeze the whole way. There was some substance in there that had a lower freezing point than our freezer.

I didn’t get a picture of the finished stuff, but it just looks like a dark pink sorbet.
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It was pretty good, I think I’ll make it again next year.

Final bits of the Gila trip

Ken is super allergic to poison ivy, and we noticed on the second day of backpacking that there was baby poison ivy coming up next to all the rocks in our camp, and we’d been sitting and stepping in it. I hadn’t thought to bring the poison ivy scrub (when will I learn? Or maybe when will Ken learn, he’s the one who’s so allergic…), so we had to go in search of some when we were done hiking. That hadn’t been part of the plan, so good thing we’re flexible. We headed back to Silver City and found some Arby’s, poison ivy scrub, gas, and these.

Nothing like lobster tail, steak, peas, and french bread after eating dehydrated food for a couple of days. We were very full.
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We camped at a group camp that night. It was a sorta weird place, just a bunch of fire pits in a very flat Ponderosa forest. But it was free, and there were only two other groups camping there, so it worked for us. The next morning we drove out the impressive road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

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The cliff dwelling hike is very cool, totally worth the $3 entry fee.

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I think we should explore this part of the Gila some more in the future. There’s a bunch of rivers which come together in this area, and you can hike up various ones. We did a bit of a hike up one to see a hot springs. These are the sorts of hikes where you cross the river a whole bunch of times. And it’s not a shallow little stream, this was high enough to come over the tops of my boots.

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We left that area in the mid afternoon and drove back to the south-east, spending the next two nights at the Black Range Lodge, a bed and breakfast in a very cool old building. The owners were very friendly, and the building and grounds are full of character. We had a nice stay, doing some hiking and finally seeing some lupine close enough to take a picture. We had driven by some, but not hiked by any previously. I think they might be one of my favorite flowers.

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We headed home on Saturday so we could go to church and get ourselves sorted out before we went back to work. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing trip. If only we could take more 9 day trips to the middle of nowhere!

More excitement in the life of Lisa

Aside from the thrills of storage area organization, our main excitement in the past few weeks has been the acquisition of a Costco membership. Oh my!

We’ve resisted for a couple of years because:
1. I don’t like shopping and I don’t need to spend any more of my life than absolutely necessary shopping. So if I can buy all my groceries at one place once a week, why would I mess with a good thing?
2. Remember how our house has no pantry? This will not play well with Costco. Also, until we bought the garage freezer last year, our freezer space was very limited.

So, what has changed (besides the freezer)? Well, we both were due for new glasses, and our experiences two years ago at two different Walmarts were both terrible. And Costco now accepts our vision insurance. It seemed worth it. And it was. No hassle, two trips, once to order, once to pick them up. Perfect. Also, my glasses are pretty.

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The only thing I think we’ll be buying at Costco on a regular basis is the frozen sweet corn. The $55 a year is probably worth it just to have access to that stuff. I love it so much! Oh, and the roast chicken. Costco is directly on my way home from work, and with one of those puppies I can whip up a full meal with baked potatoes, corn, salad, and chicken within 10 minutes of getting home. As I am evidently programmed to be starving at 4:00 sharp, this is a huge plus. Plus we can get like 5 more meals out of one of those things if we make broth.

We really need to do something more exciting around here, at some point people are going to tire of hearing about my closets and what I ate for dinner last night. Not to worry, rumor has it Taos is finally getting some snow, so we’re headed up there an hour and a half before the crack of dawn tomorrow to see what we can find.

Thanksgiving in Colorado

We took a truckload of wood up to Colorado for Thanksgiving. It’s a long story, but apparently it came from a blind factory in Phoenix and some people in Denver make it into cars to give out to kids.

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Traditional Thanksgiving day hike.
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It was followed by a big dinner with all the trimmings!

What do you think about that?

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Thoughts recently

I’m going to interrupt this lovely reflection on the beauties of Washington with some breaking news that I’m excited about. In increasing order of excitement, interspersed with not necessarily relevant photos:

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1. Homegrown tomatoes are SO much more flavorful than store bought. Mine are finally ripening and I’ve been enjoying them like never before. I’m enjoying them so much that I’m eating enough to stay ahead of four bushes of tomatoes!

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2. Last Sunday morning I took a shower and it felt good. Like the warmth was welcome. Amazing. Incidentally, that’s also the day these cats were snuggling together. Apparently highs in the low 80s are chilly…

3. We have baseboards sitting in the garage all finished and ready to be put into the house everywhere that we refinished the floor. I touched up the paint where we ripped out the old baseboards and other places we’ve beat it up in the past couple of years, so all we need now is time to install them. Maybe tomorrow morning we’ll get started. They’ve been ready to install since Tuesday but,

4. I got Ken a gas powered chainsaw for his birthday and he’s been cutting wood every night since. It’s kind of amazing how much wood we’ve got to deal with on our 0.8 acre of desert. We are going to be well stocked for the winter.

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5. I ran the Chips and Salsa half marathon about two weeks ago and finished. It wasn’t fast (10:20 average miles), but I managed to train for and run it without injury! I did run out of energy at mile 9, I was averaging sub 10s before that. I think doing my 12 mile run at sea level messed up my determination of how much fuel my body needed per hour. For future reference, I think gels at mile 4 and 8 might be about good. Not that I’m convinced I need to run another one. It was kind of tedious. It would be nice to get a decent time though… I feel convinced I could do sub 10s for the whole thing. And from there it’s not SO far to a sub 2 hour race… That’s why you should never do a race, you will be trapped into trying to outdo yourself forever.

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6. Now, the MOST exciting thing of all. We’re going to Maui with my whole family! I bought tickets last night! So exciting! We’ve talked about this for years, and it’s finally happening. My only regret is that I was kind of looking forward to the Cable Bridge Run and we won’t be doing it. Oh well, we can have our own beach race!

May 2018
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