Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Are you finished carving your pumpkins?  I never know when we are supposed to do this.  There are people who have carved pumpkins at their door weeks before Halloween.  I don’t know about you, but the day after Halloween, our pumpkin looks a bit raisin like…..curled in teeth…..lid fell into the head and caught on fire….old candle wax dribbling out of the mouth….

I’m not sure what other people do differently to make their pumpkins last that long.  Maybe they bring them inside at night, or feed them some special potion.  That’s a bit too involved for us.  Our dog is lucky if she gets let in at night, we certainly aren’t going to put that much effort into a pumpkin.

If you are still looking for some creative Jack-O-Lantern ideas, here are some carvings that we have tried in the past.

Let’s start with last years’ creations which paid homage to our sons’ favorite football teams.  It would be nice if they cheered for the same team….but the rivalry is pretty entertaining too.

Hey guys - pose for me with your pumpkins OK? That's great!

Why do our sons’ photo sessions often end like this…..

....see, this is why we can't have nice things....

 I blame their father.

If the sports teams don’t appeal to you, you could try the classic pumpkin with a barfy little twist.

Or another favorite of mine – the Halloween Full Moon:

This one was really great, because dressed in my son’s clothing it really looked like he was there mooning people.  He thought it was a bit immature.  I think he can sometimes be a little stuffy.

We found another creepy idea on the internet….

And here is another year with the same general idea….

Yes, our daughter appears to be dressed up as a cowboy for many years in a row. 

I hope we’ve given you some ideas for your Jack-O-Lantern this year.  What we lack in artistic talent we make up for with creepy ideas.  That’s just part of what makes us fun!

Have a spooky Halloween!!

“I’ll bet living on a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween”  – Unknown

<Terra>

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Tomato Sauce

So, I wasn’t done with all the tomatoes after finishing up many jars of BBQ sauce.  There were still boxes and boxes of tomatoes ripening on our kitchen floor. 

If you read back in our archives, you’ll find a recipe for making home-made pasta somewhere in the January posts.  It’s actually pretty easy, and the taste of home-made pasta is much better than the boxed pasta.  Don’t get me wrong – we eat plenty of boxed pasta, but home-made is such a treat. 

So, what would be good with home-made pasta?  Home-made pasta sauce of course!

Here’s the recipe:  (Credit goes to Company’s Coming Preserves cookbook)

  • Ripe tomatoes, peeled and stem ends removed        4 1/2 lbs
  • Medium onions, very finely chopped                         3
  • White vinegar                                                                           1 cup
  • Garlic cloves, minced                                                           2
  • Bay leaves                                                                                 4
  • Dried Basil                                                                                2 tsp
  • Dried oregano                                                                         2 tsp
  • Table salt                                                                                  2 tsp
  • Pepper                                                                                       1/2 tsp
  • Ground allspice                                                                     1/2 tsp 
  • Granulated sugar                                                                  1 cup

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and boil on medium/high heat, stirring often.  Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until thickened to desired consistency.  Add more salt if needed.  Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.  Process in hot water bath for 35 minutes. 

Home made pasta sauce!

*Note – you can also freeze this if you don’t like canning.  

** Also, I had no allspice and our pasta sauce turned out just fine. 

*** Another thing, peeling tomatoes is really sucky.  I drop them into boiling water for a few minutes, then cool them in a cold water bath.  The peels rub off easily this way….but it’s still a good job to pass on to the kids.  Not fun.

Enjoy your pasta sauce!

“No man is lonely eating spaghetti – it requires so much attention!”   – Christopher Morley

<Terra>

Tomatoes and More Tomatoes!

We had a bumper tomato crop this year.  It’s not unusual for us to have quite a few tomatoes in the fall, but they are usually kind of bumpy and weird-looking, with some rot spots and others that never ripen.  This year was different.  They are firm, round, nicely shaped and perfect.  The tomatoes I mean.

How do ya like them tomatoes?

So this year, with such an abundance of tomatoes I decided to try something new.

Our family is a bunch of carnivores.  In our freezer there is always beef, chicken, moose, pork, venison and anything else that we can raise or hunt or buy from other farmers in our area.  As a result, we go thru a lot of BBQ sauce.  Sometimes to enhance the wonderful flavor of the beef, and sometimes to disguise the gamey and dried out flavor of the venison.  So, I decided to make BBQ sauce.

Here’s the recipe:  (Credit goes to the Company’s Coming Preserves cookbook)

  • Ripe tomatoes, stem ends removed                     4 1/2 lbs
  • Very finely chopped celery                                     2 cups
  • Seeded and very finely chopped bell pepper   1 1/2 cups
  • Medium onions, very finely chopped                 3
  • Garlic cloves, minced                                                 2
  • Brown sugar, packed                                                  1 cup
  • White vinegar                                                                1 cup
  • Worcestershire sauce                                                1 tbsp
  • Paprika                                                                             2 tbsp
  • Mustard Powder                                                          1 tbsp
  • Table Salt                                                                        2 tsp
  • Cayenne Pepper                                                          1/4 tsp
  • Chili Powder                                                                 1/2 tsp
  • Liquid Smoke                                                               1/2 tsp

Cut the tomatoes into chunks and cook them until they are soft.  Stir them often and don’t let them burn.  Press through a food mill to remove seeds and skin.  Return puree to the pot.

Tomato puree

Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring often.

Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until thickened.  You don’t have to stir it the whole time – your arm will fall off.  Just make sure it isn’t burning to the bottom of the pot.  Let it cool for a while, go for a walk, read a book, watch half a movie, then come back and smooth the sauce in a blender.  Don’t try to do this while it’s hot.  It burns.

Taste it a little, and see if you want more cayenne pepper or smoke.  Go ahead and add a bit more, but be careful not to add too much.

Pour into hot sterilized jars and screw metal bands on.  Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes for added protection from spoilage.

And you’re done!  Fresh, home made BBQ sauce for your next barbeque or pot roast.

“My favorite animal is steak”  – Fran Lebowitz

<Terra>

Baling

Baling straw is another of the many weird things that I enjoy doing.  It’s very methodical driving up and down a field picking up the straw that the combines have left behind.  It reminds me of vacuuming.  You can go to a new field and see the hours of work there is to do to clean it all up – and when you are done and you look back at all those nice round bales there’s a real feeling of accomplishment. 

A field of straw waiting to be baled

Also, the telemarketers cannot find me when I ‘m in the baler, and I get another feeling of satisfaction in the evening when I come home to 5 or 6 hang up answering machine messages that I know were from someone doing a survey, or wanting to clean my furnace ducts, or trying to sell me a new and improved cell phone service….which I could really use.

The same field all baled up.

However, the kids can find me when I’m in the baler.  It’s hard to keep up to three combines when I need to stop and shut down because someone forgot their football equipment, or their lunch….or both.  My personal favorite is the phone call from our daughter that lets me know that I will have to come pick her up from school because if she goes on the school bus she just knows she will barf. 

I may not be the world’s most efficient baler, but it’s nice to have the best of both worlds.  Having the opportunity to help out by keeping the baler running (most of the time), while also putting meals on the table and trying to keep clean clothes in the house is a bit frantic at times, but it is very short-lived.  Harvest usually lasts for a few months, and then things are back to normal….whatever that means!

Here are some things that I’ve learned while in the baler….

  1. Never ever shift into neutral while rolling down a big hill.  You’ll have a runaway on your hands.  Kind of like life, when things are going down hill it’s not a good time to coast, you need to stay in control.
  2. When baling alongside a major highway, one should always limit one’s fluid intake.  This is not the time to overload on coffee and water.
  3. You can find the best toboggan hills while baling.  If you drop a bale and it rolls down the hill, through the fence, across the road and into the opposite ditch…..you’ve found yourself an excellent toboggan hill!
  4. The baler will skip over a rock the size of your head with no problem at all, but the little stones that are the size of your thumb will stop it dead, break the chain and have you out of commission for an hour.  Kind of like life, if you skip over the big things, the little things will cause trouble.
  5. Radio stations tend to co-ordinate their crappy songs, leaving me with only the voices in my head for entertainment.  Don’t get me wrong, those voices are pretty entertaining, but I prefer music.  On that same note, Sunday mornings are very bad radio mornings…..make sure your iPod is charged before heading to the tractor.
  6. When your baler bursts into flames….and it will….there’s no need to take the time to tell your rescuers where you are – they can see the smoke for miles.  There’s also no need to emphasize that you are ‘completely on fire’.  They will come even if your baler is partially on fire.

We have a few days of baling left to do, but other than that harvest is done for another year.  We were fortunate to have had great weather and very few major breakdowns …. or fires.

A combine finishing a field as the sun sets

“Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant”  – Robert Louis Stevenson

<Terra>

Who Dunnits?

Despite being an avid reader, mysteries are not my favorite.  However, as always, there are exceptions. A truly humorous mystery writer is Janet Evanovich. Evanovich writes the Stephanie Plum novels. The latest is Smokin’ Seventeen. It is filled with hilarious characers and antics. I was introduced to them through book club and have enjoyed all seventeen. Evanovich has a few other books, out of the series but I have  not liked them quite as much. Her style does not vary much from one to another but they are still great reads. Truly laugh out loud.

Another myster writer I have just come across is Deanna Raybourn. She writes the Lady Jane Grey series. The one I read was Dark Road to Darjeeling. It is a historic novel set in the Himalayas. Also, an interesting cast of characters. Both novels have strong female leads. Neither are too gruesome, but entertaining.

– Kelly

Bits and Pieces

A never ending challenge of mine has been properly cooking a roast of beef. As a beef producer this has been particularly frustrating. After all, shouldn’t those of us producing it be able to create gourmet quality dishes. Well I have discovered a tool that goes a long way to helping. Many of you may already use one but if you don’t you should. It is a meat thermometer. But no ordinary one. I have tried those before. This one has a probe and a cord so it can stay in the meat the entire time. And you can see the exact temperature on the display which is on the outside of the oven. As the meat still cooks when you take it out of the oven, this allows you to take it out five to ten degrees before the desired temperature. Don’t forget to let it rest for ten minutes. It is fabulous. The one I got is a TruTemp and I purchased it at the Tipsy Chef store in Lloydminster. It was reasonably priced and I can’t wait until I can use it more.

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Cool new show. There is an interesting new food show on t.v. called The Chew. This show on ABC celebrates and explores life through food. There is a group of co-hosts cooking and sharing stories. For those of you foodies it is worth checking out.

-Kelly

2nd Annual Harvest Feastival

When Terra and I made a list of some cool things we would like to do, one of them was to be part of a local food event. Here, in Lloydminster. A result of that was the 1st Annual Harvest Feastival that we helped to put together along with the Lloydminster Exhibition Association.

We had attended a few food events that were held in other major centers, and took the ideas that we thought would work to develop our Feastival. In 2010 we had a number of different food stations; beef, bison, turkey, pork, chicken, lamb and veggies, along with a great dessert and wine station. Each meat entrée also had a fabulous side dish. All of the food was prepared by the Lloydminster Exhibition’s own chef, and was served by local celebrities such as our mayor and local radio announcers. The entrance ticket gave participants a number of tokens that they could use at the stations of their choice. The food was fabulous and it was all produced locally.

It was a great evening and we can’t wait for this year’s Feastival, on November 2 at the Exhibition Grounds. Tickets can be purchased at Tuvilla, Weir Veterinary Clinic, Fabricland and the Lloydminster Exhibition Office. They are $25 each.

It’s not often that you can enjoy gourmet food, artisan wine, and the company of  friends while supporting your local producers for $25.  See you there!

– Kelly

She got published!

I wanted all our readers to know that Terra has had a story published! The blog post she did on training chickens has now appeared in Grainews. Congrats!

– Kelly

You know you are a redneck when . . .

Over the years, there have been a number of times when one or more of our kids has proudly made this comment at our house. Like the time when  we have company over and the evening’s entertainment ends up in a shooting competition off the back deck.  I still can’t believe that happened. Or when a chunk of leftover carpet is tied behind the lawnmower and pulled around for hours of riding enjoyment. Some called this the magic carpet ride.  At one of our homes there has been jumping off the roof onto the trampoline antics.  Always, safety first! I think the latest, does top the charts in terms of creativity and entertainment. It involves, the quad, the gt racer, a long rope and the pond. Oh, and of course kids to participate. There is often a number willing to participate. And if not there are some to take pictures and video the event. Some have called it redneck water skiing.

It was initiated when the Ontario cousins were here but has been repeated since then. I don’t know where the boys come up with these ideas. Perhaps, some of the highly educational shows they watch, or just those good old teenage boy brains.  Anyway, this event is one of the funniest things you have seen. Truly lol.  They have even tried it with two on the gt.  The back guy ended up falling off and dragging on his belly. Sometimes they make it across. Sometimes they don’t. Nothing like a little swim to refresh oneself, in the pond. They definitely get points for creativity and the ability to amuse themselves and the onlookers. Then there was the modified baseball game that involved the clay pigeon thrower and shovels. Just let me say no one was hurt.   Some who know us will also have witnessed appliances outside on the deck.  It is probably good we live in the country.

– Kelly

Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth – Erma Bombeck