Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday Morning Escape

As much as I love to cook for the crew during our Cow Works, THIS is what really makes me happy

Getting to spend time behind the camera lens just speaks to my soul. The pictures are never extraordinary, but they are small snippets into my world and I become so immersed in the view that I get lost. I wish I could capture the smell of the air on Sunday morning. This was the first morning I reached for my jacket and I was elated! 45° and glorious!

We took Sunday off. Well, sort of. There really are no days off on a ranch. I still fixed breakfast although it was served at the leisurely hour of 6 am, and DH and Grandpa still saddled up.

They moved a few head around

and brought a couple more in

and I took advantage of the free morning and snapped a few shots.

 At 75, Grandpa still looks smart a horseback:


And I will never tire of taking pictures of this man working

I asked him to turn around


and he said, "But that is my best side".



He will never pose for a picture so what you see is what you get

 but I'm not complaining. :)

I revealed in the crisp air,


the green pastures,


and  the morning light.


There is an essence to fall that just delights the senses and I was all wrapped up in it as I soaked up the blessings of a quiet Sunday morning. It was the perfect morning for basking in the morning sun:


And a little stretching. Equine yoga, anyone?

As well as perfect scratching weather


Oh, I wanted to bottle it up when the horses meandered in from the horse trap and gathered round me.


These sniffers of coat collars.

These lovers of nuzzled noses.

These ticklers of warm whiskers.


 The good Lord truly created something magical in the horse. I wish you could have smell-a-vision. I'll admit that the combination of the tank water, the dew-kissed grass, the horses snuggling up against me and jostling for position to get closer, and watching DH and his Dad a horseback made me misty eyed. Sappy? Perhaps, but I wouldn't change a thing. I know I should have been back at the house getting ready for church, but I honestly could not have been closer to God or praised him any more than I did this morning in that pasture. All glory and honor goes to Him and I am incredibly thankful for this gift he has given me.

I'm going to print out a couple of these shots and tape them to my kitchen cabinets to remind me of this morning when I am bemoaning the fact that I am chained to the kitchen for 6 more days. I am also going to wrap my camera deep in a quilt and stuff it in the back of the armoire so I won't be able to hear it's muffled cries to be released from captivity because I am weak and it would be so easy to let it lead me astray and abandon my kitchen duties. Could you blame me?

Friday, September 27, 2013

No Time on My Hands

When T was visiting last week, she brought me a copy of a Fons and Porter magazine from 2005. Someone had given her a stack of them and she had saved this particular one for me because it focused on western prints and quilt patterns. She is such a thoughtful friend and as soon as I flipped it open, I found something I had to have:

The title alone grabbed me immediately and then the description sealed the deal and I ordered it lickity split from here . 

From Amazon:
"When Grace Snyder, the matriarch of a pioneer Nebraska family, wrote these reminiscences in her eightieth year, she felt she had been blessed "by having no time on my hands." The story of her busy life begins on the high plains of Nebraska, where her parents homesteaded in 1885. She recalls her childhood in a sod house on a frontier that required everyone to pull together in the face of hostile weather, serious illness, and economic depression but that also held its full share of good times.
"As a child of seven and up," writes Grace Snyder, ". . . I wished that I might grow up to make the most beautiful quilts in the world, to marry a cowboy, and to look down on the top of a cloud. At the time I dreamed those dreams and wished those wishes, it seemed impossible that any of them could every come true." But she saw all of them realized.
No Time on My Hands is a remarkable chronicle of the sod house era and of Grace Snyder’s married life on a ranch in Nebraska’s sandhills. From there she finally flies above the clouds to exhibits where her quilts contribute to a worldwide revival of quiltmaking. Mrs. Snyder lived twenty years after the publication of these memoirs in 1963, to the age of one hundred. Her daughter, Nellie Snyder Yost, who helped to write No Time on My Hands, has added an epilogue to this Bison edition.

DH was born and raised in those Nebraska sandhills and I love these kinds of books. I think people's lives are fascinating.

 This is told to Nellie, her daughter, who also wrote Pinnacle Jake about her dad. We've had that on our bookshelves for years, but DH was the one who made the connection when he saw "No Time on my Hands".

Life out here is pretty laid back, but we're always busy and never bored. We rarely watch tv - except for UFC. :) , and about the only computer time I have is the time I take to write this blog and I try to keep up with y'all through your blogs, although at the time, I am woefully behind - We praise God, play hard, work hard, sleep hard, and eat good! :) 

Right now, I don't have any time on my hands, but according to Grace, that's a blessing and I have to agree, although I sure am anxious to allocate some of my time to reading about Grace's life. I'm pretty darn sure I'm going to appreciate the fact that although I am going to be tuckered out from all of this cooking by the end of Fall Works, I am incredibly spoiled. I flipped a page open and read that her Daddy had built a sod house that was 12' x 14'. I am not going to fuss about my tiny kitchen and the 1000 dishes I have to wash by hand. Instead, I will be grateful that I don't have to haul my water from the creek.

Gosh, I would love to sit and visit with Grace. I'm thinking that no time on my hands makes for a pretty darn good life heaped with blessings and I'm betting I can learn a lot from her.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Homemade Pizza

The other night I made a pizza for supper. At night, I mostly serve leftovers when I have a crew, which works well when I have something like Lasagna for dinner, but not so well, when I make something like chicken fried steak. So I keep a few different recipes handy for simple suppers and last night's pizza was a big hit.

I added sausage, pepperoni, a few tablespoon of red onion, cheese, and of course, some jalapenos!
The crust was a little thicker than DH and I like it, but that's easily remedied by using only half of the dough to make 1 pizza. My dough recipe is from King Arthur Flour and you can find it HERE. I've never frozen it, but it says that it freezes well.

I probably could have let the crust brown a little more, but we were hungry and it was crisp on the outside and not doughy on the inside so it was good.

I fix it in my large 15" cast iron skillet. I love that skillet! The pizza slips right out of the pan when you are ready to cut it. Its hard to beat a cast iron skillet.

 I could do an entire post on my love for cast iron. One of these days I would love to have a pot rack hanging from the ceiling with my cast iron. It would free up so much cabinet space, but I don't have a place for one here and I am afraid that it might cave the ceiling in. Cast iron raining down on your head would not be a good thing. ;) In these old ranch houses (which I love) nothing is as easy as it looks. Small jobs always end of becoming big jobs because you're always having to fix things that were not built right in the first place. DH is incredibly handy and if I had the space, if he built one, the rest of the house would come down before the pot rack would. :)

 Here is my pizza sauce recipe. It's from Taste of Home.

Pizza Sauce

2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce - or canned from your garden
1 (12 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tbsp dried Oregano
1 tsp Fennel Seed, crushed
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder - I use granulated garlic
1/2 tsp Salt

*In a large saucepan, over medium heat, combine the tomato sauce and paste. Add remaining ingredients, mixing well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hr. Cool. Freezes well.

I maybe put 1/3 of the sauce on our pizza the other night, but the nice thing about homemade pizza - besides the fact that it tastes amazing - is that you can customize it and make the perfect pizza for you!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Apple Crisp

Here is your recipe for the day. :)

A dear lady shared this with me years ago. They own the ranch and since moving to NM over 8 years ago, I've only seen her once. I think we've seen her husband 3 times. That makes me sad because she and her husband are wonderful people. We've worked for them for 18 years and they are thoughtful, kind, honest, generous and just plain hard working good folk. T.J. is also an amazing cook. I think she said she found this recipe in an old Farm Bureau cookbook and I make it often. It works great for a small crew. I make it in an over-sized 12" ceramic deep dish pie plate that she also happened to give to me as a gift one time.

This feeds about 8 when you serve it with ice cream. She wrote a note at the bottom of the recipe card where it says 'serves'. Her note says: Depends on how much Gary eats! I love that!

Apple Crisp

6-8 tart apples
2/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp butter
1 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C butter, melted

*Preheat oven to 400°. Peel and slice apples into baking dish. Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, & lemon juice in a small bowl. Sprinkle over apples. Dot with 3 Tbsp butter. In a 2nd small bowl, blend flour brown sugar, and melted butter to crumb like consistency. Sprinkle over apples. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Zuchinni Parmesan Crisps

A few weeks ago, a friend clued me in to a recipe site called Just a Pinch. I had never heard of it, but I took a peek and started adding to my collection of recipes to try. I didn't have much time, but I hope to add more later.With my garden garden producing zucchini at an alarming rate, I am always eager to find a new way to fix it. I fixed these yesterday and we really liked them. Click HERE for the original link. If you want them to be more crispy, you can pan fry them, but we are trying to make a few more healthy choices, so baking it is.

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

Cooking spray
2 medium zucchini
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1/4 C bread crumbs
1/8 tsp seasoning salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne Pepper to taste

*Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Slice the zucchini into 1/4" rounds.
In a medium sized bowl, toss the zucchini with the olive oil.
In a pie plate, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, seasoning salt, pepper, Cayenne pepper.
Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake the zucchini rounds until brown and crisp - about 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

I don't think these would be very good as leftovers, but we didn't have any leftovers. I dipped a few of mine in Ranch Dressing - pretty tasty, but kind of defeats the purpose of trying to make it healthier. :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This Week...

I documented most of 'This Week' in my previous post here , but it's been a busy week. :)

Our Fall Cow Works begin tomorrow and the crew pulls in today. Our college girl always gets homesick about this time of the year. She loves being a part of the crew and the fact that I brought her horse back to the ranch the other day, doesn't help. This kids loves to ride:

I spent Friday planning my menu and making a very long grocery list. I think there are 50 recipes I'm making on this particular list, and I'll probably be adding to it:

There is also a grocery list and a menu list. yes, I'm a list maker. :)

Y'all all know how much I dislike going to town, but I REALLY dislike going to town on the weekend. Alas, sometimes it simply can not be helped. So in order to avoid the weekend madness, I left at 5 am:

I had to shop at Walmart since our hometown store doesn't open that early, but I can handle it when I'm the only one in there:

$382.27 later:

And I left $180.57 at Sam's:

It's a challenge just finding the space to put it all away. Let's just say that I would be hard pressed to find room for much of anything else:

Then DH and I did something we rarely do - we went to the movies and shared an ice cream:

All of our amazing recent rains, have turned my garden into, well...a REAL garden!

My tomato plants are over 5' tall and I'm picking green peppers every day:

I can water all I want, but until it rains, there isn't ever going to be much of a garden:

The zucchini is finally waking up too. I don't like to let them get this big, but this one was hiding:

And this week, I'll leave you with my favorite way to begin the day: Digging into God's word...on the the rocking chair...wrapped in a the sun comes up.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Blessings From Michigan

Whew! Its been a busy week, but yesterday I drove to Texas to drop off a dear friend at the airport  who I picked up last Friday. I don't think I've been on the computer all week. We've been too busy! The following pictures are a combination of Ts and mine.

T and I came to know each other on a scrapbooking site years ago and about 5 years ago, our friendship grew past the computer screen. We began to correspond via the phone and I always enjoyed her visits greatly. In June, she booked a flight to visit me at the end of the dirt road and last Friday, after a bit of rerouting, she finally made it to Texas. Poor thing was such a good sport. She was slated to arrive at noon, but her flight was cancelled in Denver and she ended up flying to Houston before finally making her way to Amarillo. If you know Texas, that does not compute. It was after 7 pm when she finally made it to our designated airport and then we had a 4 hr drive before we finally made it home, after stopping at an iconic Texas establishment for a bite to eat:


Where we were serenaded by a trio of singing cowboys who were absolutely charming as they sang "Hey Goodlookin":

This was the first time we had met, but it was like greeting an old friend. The kids used to tease me about my imaginary internet friend. Our girl was with me, and she and I spent a lovely day together while we waited for T to arrive. I'll share those adventures in another post.

It was just a tad before 1 am before we walked in the door and fell into our beds. We kind of needed a day to recuperate before we begin our NM adventure. No itinerary. Just a fly by the seat of our pants week where we paid no attention to the clock and the only thing we HAD to do was what we WANTED to do!

Of course an introduction to the chickens was a must:


And we spent lots of time in the kitchen:


 where bread making lessons turned out yummy results:


And where the teacher got sidetracked while making cards, burned one batch and came dangerously close to burning another although the student gets a gold star for turning out light and airy products:


A trip into town yielded some fashion fun:


A bit of time browsing through a very colorful gift shop:


A little taste of Alien Beer:


A scrumptious serving of fried ice cream:


  As well as a stop at a local farm where I brought back my annual supply of green chile:


We carved out some time to play with fabric:


And blow the dust off of my scrapbooking supplies to make a few cards. I didn't get a picture of that mess, but it was fun.

T had the opportunity to meet a few of the local residents which included a scorpion and this fella in the bunkhouse shower:


She taught me that the addition of yeast to apple cider vinegar was the solution to fruit flies:


DH smoked brisket for us:


And we hopped in the truck with him one morning to bounce along some ranch roads:


And talk about what a huge blessing rain is in the dessert:


I think she went home and told everyone that all I ever do is complain about how dry it is here and the whole time she was here, it rained.

I don't remember the last time I saw this Tasajillo (Desert Christmas Cactus) bloom:


DH had to tell me what it was.

I spend a lot of time opening gates around here. Adding this shot because T told me I had to. :)

We drove 75 miles to another little town where we left some money at my favorite quilt shop:

And ate at the local antique cafe:

Next time I get over there, I'll have to take some pictures inside. You could spend a really long time looking at all the old stuff they have collected. I sure would hate to dust in there. The service wasn't very good, but the food was, and the company was even better.

When I drove back to Texas to take her back to the airport, I hauled a trailer up with me. I took a table and chairs to DD and brought back her horse. I dropped the trailer at the college pens where they kept the local mascot:


And I sent DH a picture of my impressive trailer backing skills:


    T told me that I could post all of these pictures as long as I included this one:


Yes, that is me taking the buffalo shot. :)

Forgot to take a picture of the two of us together until the last minute:

Thanks so much for making the trip T! You were a trooper and it was a blessing to have to here.

I had to chuckle at the rural humor on this sign at the airport:

I treasure T's friendship and the memories of her visit. We had a fun-filled week and now I think we both need to catch up on our sleep, but I know that she got back to Michigan at 3:30 in the morning and still had to go to work and we are on the verge of beginning our Fall Works so sleep will have to wait.
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