As I begin to compose this post, there are fewer than 14 hours until we will depart The BIG Sovereign State of Texas and make our way back to The Farm in rural Mississippi.
It’s been a delightful trip. To channel some old Steve Martin from an old SNL, if I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be that all people had families and families in-law as engaging, giving, opinionated, and wonderful as mine. Corny but true.
Today Mr. Big Food’s Family and we traveled to Fredericksburg, in the Texas Hill Country. We found a place to park– a non-trival matter– and had a nice lunch of German fare. We then did some window shopping, and took in a show.
By the way, I have a new camera! Below the fold (i.e., click on “keep reading) and you will find some photos– some with commentary– of Fredericksburg, Texas.
[I’ll post the color commentary of last night’s dinner at Mr. Big Food’s Cousin’s Wine|Beer|Cigar Bistro when I’m back on The Farm.]
Planters are everywhere
Fredericksburg is another funkie town– albeit in Texas– that caters to … well …
folks who think there’s something beyond a Texas Vineyard. What would that be?
Camo. There was a whole family of them. I looked at their jackets and I think they were advertising their business. Nothing wrong with that.
It’s a town filled with shops full of wonderful things that remind us of the crappy olden days when all it took to thrill a kid was a quarter.
Old Paint’s Cousin
I loved the backyard of the shop that sold granite stuff. Slab after slab…
Imagine this as a kitchen counter top. That’s all I’ll be doing. It’s expensive!
There are so many shops!
It just goes on & on.
When Mr. Big Food’s Dad brought this to my attention, I thought about getting it for Daughter C. But $18?!? Are you kidding me? And I don’t think it’s really “handmade.” Zoom in on the “T’s” and you’ll see what I mean. I sent her the photo. After all, it’s the thought that counts!
Fortunately, Main Street in beautiful downtown Fredericksburg is filled with many spaces for “shoppers” to take a load off.
Quite possibly the smartest bench in Fredericksburg, ever.
In announcing intermission, one of the cast members asked veterans, first responders, reservists, and their family members to pick up a candle on their way back into the theater. The show closed with a tribute to all who serve.
I don’t think there was a person who didn‘t have a candle.
Unbeknownst to me before I met Mr. Big Food many years ago, Texas has a large population of folks of Czech decent. Count Mr. Big Food’s Mom among them. Both her grandmother and grandfather were born in Czechoslovakia. The Czech’s have a rich food heritage. Needless to say, this heritage has found its way into Mr. Big Food’s Big Food Manual and Survivalist Flourishing Guide which contains (among many other things) recipes for “Tex-Czech and Tex-Central European foods, handed down from Gran, Tait, and other “old timers” from the Dallas SPJST.”
Because it’s Christmas time, Mr. Big Food’s Mom and her son will soon be making a vanočka!
Prepared for vanočka
I’ll post the recipe soon so you, too, can enjoy some Czech vanočka!
UPDATED to correct multiple errors brought to my attention by Mr. Big Food’s Dad!
Something fun! On occasion– say, when there’s a game or movie we want to watch– Mr. Big Food will whip up some “bar food” instead of an honest-to-goodness supper. Why not? ‘Tis the season.
YUMMY BAKED POTATO SKINS
4 large baking potatoes, baked
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp paprika
1/8 tsp pepper
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbed
2 C (8 oz) shredded yellow cheese
½ C sour cream
4 green onions, sliced
Cut baked potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out pulp (save for another use), leaving ¼ inch shells. Place shells on a greased baking sheet. Combine oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, garlic powder, paprika and pepper and brush all over potato skins. Bake at 475° for about 8 minutes. Turn shells over and bake for another 8 minutes or so. Turn right side up. Sprinkle bacon and cheddar evenly inside of skins, and bake 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Top baked skins with sour cream and green onions.
is where we are headed. I don’t think I’ve mentioned before that Mr. Big Food is a Texan. My in-laws anointed me an Honorary Texan. These tidbits explain our appreciation of Big Stuff.
Blogging will be sporadic, as we are driving.* The trip is not too long, just over nine hours driving time; I’m sure we’ll have some radio and reading.** But the problem is, once I hit the Texas border, I’m inclined to think we’re almost there. I think this every time. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Texas is BIG.
Take me back to (old) Texas
I highly recommend driving across The United States of America, in whole or in parts. Either way, be sure to pass through The Big Sovereign State of Texas. Do this before it’s too late.
DISCLAIMER: Know the law of the state you are in. In which you are.
* (flying) & **(reading) below the fold
*I refuse to fly. I refuse to subject myself to what’s involved with making my way through an airport and boarding an aeroplane. I just refuse. There was a time in my life when I loved boarding an aeroplane and taking off. It was thrilling, knowing I’d be some place new, with Mr. Big Food, when the plane landed. Those days are gone, at least for now.
Now we a just two people who own a farm are making payments on a Farm in Mississippi.
Now we a just two people who have a lake on the piece of property we and our lender own.
In just a few years, I’ll really be able to use only first person pronouns to refer to this piece of property and the stuff on it.
Ha. I have fish in my lake and you don’t even have a lake. That’s lame. You don’t have a lake.
**Mr. Kant sent 50 pages on something he & I talked about. Gotta love those Kantians.
This is a cake Mr. Big Food makes fairly frequently because it’s good!
TEXAS WHITE SHEET CAKE
Makes 1 15×9 inch cake
1 C butter
1 C water
2 C flour
2 C sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ C sour cream
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 375o. In a large saucepan, bring butter and water to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, almond extract, salt, and baking soda until smooth. Pour into a greased 15×10 inch baking pan and bake 20-22 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool for 20 minutes.
1 stick butter
¼ C milk
4 ½ C powdered sugar (about 1 lb)
½ tsp almond extract
1 C chopped pecans
Combine butter and milk in saucepan, bring to a boil, remove from heat, add powdered sugar and extract, and mix well. Stir in chopped pecans. Pour and spread over warm cake.
Listen to this advertisement and you’ll reasonably assume that what’s for sale is something forlorn, lonely, cute and cuddly … a stray puppy, perhaps.
“They’ve been mistreated and misunderstood for generations,” the ad begins. “Abusive owners have done severe damage and given these beautiful creatures a bad reputation.”
That’s how it’s supposed to sound. The owner of PRK Arms in Fresno, Calif., brainstormed this brilliant way to sell guns — and, so far, it’s worked.
“You can make a difference by giving a gun a loving home,” the ad says. “These guns want nothing more than to adore and protect you. So, please, have a heart. … PRK Arms has the kinds of guns that need a loving home more than anything else — like AK-47s, Glocks and the biggest selection of AR-15s in Fresno.” [my emphasis]
From The Complete Dog Book: The History and Standard Breeds Admitted to AKC Registration, and the Training, Feeding, Care and Handling of Pure Bred Dogs; Copyright 1961 by the American Kennel Club:
In mentioning the gameness of the Staffordshire, it is not the intention to tag him as a fighting machine, or to praise this characteristic. These points are discussed because they are necessary in giving the correct origin and history of the breed. The good qualities of the dogs are many, and it would be difficult for anyone to overstress them. … As to character, they exceed being dead game; nevertheless they should not be held in ill repute merely because man has been taking advantage of this rare courage to use them in the pit as gambling tools. These dogs are docile, and with a little training are even tractable around other dogs. They are intelligent, excellent guardians, and they protect their masters’ property with an air of authority that counts; they easily discriminate between strangers who mean well and those who do not. (p. 234) [my emphasis]
An obedient young pit bull
Daughter C got Rocky when he was five or six months old. He was healthy and hadn’t been abused. But he had been tied to a tree– all day every day. There were many problems with that living arrangement, not the least of which was Rocky’s vulnerability to humans with bad intentions. Just last year three pit bulls were seized and a man was arrested on felony dog fighting charges in the town where Rocky was tied to a tree.
A docile young pit bull
To paraphrase: You can make a difference by giving a gun dog a loving home. These guns dogs want nothing more than to adore and protect you. So, please, have a heart.
Some stats on pit bull fighting in Mississippi below the fold.
According to Pet-Abuse* dot com, there have been 24 cases– not incidents, cases– of pit bull fighting in the past 11 years in Mississippi. The worst of these in terms of number of dogs seized happened in Monroe County in 2005. Thirty-three dogs were seized.
I let this post sit on my computer almost all day thinking that I’d be able to think of something insightful to say about the sub-human individuals who would take a critter like Rocky and turn him into a “fighting machine.” And then I realized I do not want any insights.
*I can’t vouch for this source, but the site is very searchable.
New Little Prayers Pop-up Book, reprinted in 1984, copyright Deans International Publishing
I stumbled upon an interesting story in my search for information on the nursery rhyme, “Christmas is coming.” It’s from the Preface to the chapter on Faith in The Book of Virtues(1993), edited by William Bennett. A few of Bill’s words to set up the story:
A human being without faith, without reverence for anything, is a human being morally adrift. The world’s major religions provide time-tested anchors for drifters; they furnish ties to a larger reality for people on the loose. Faith can contribute important elements to the social stability and moral development of individuals and groups.
“… time tested anchors for drifters.”
To parents who are themselves insecure in their faith and, like the nineteenth-century English radical John Thelwall, think it “unfair to influence a child’s mind by inculcating any opinions before it should have come to years of discretion, and be able to choose for itself,” there is an enlightening anecdote in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Table Talk for July 27, 1830. “I showed [John Thelwall] my garden, and told him it was my botanical garden. ‘How so?’ said he, ‘it is covered with weeds.’ — ‘Oh,’ I replied, ‘that is only because it has not yet come to its age of discretion and choice. The weeds, you see, have taken the liberty to grow, and I thought it unfair in me to prejudice the soil towards roses and strawberries.’ “ (p. 742)
If you haven’t got a penny, a half a penny will do.
If you haven’t got a half a penny, then God Bless you.
The best I’ve been able to find regarding the origin of this nursery rhyme is this:
The music to Christmas is Coming was composed by Edith Nesbit Bland in the late nineteenth century. The author of the lyrics is unknown but the popularity of this traditional Christmas song is handed down from generation to generation in the form of a nursery rhyme. The words of Christmas is coming reflects the Christmas festival of celebration of being a time of plenty but that charity should be given to the less fortunate according to the giver’s means!
Christmas is coming. My family and I will be enjoying more than our “fair” share of fine food and drink in the next few weeks. We are blessed. I’ll be stopping in at the Piglet* today to pick up some things for others who are less fortunate. I’ll drop them off at the county extension office.
We call our local Piggly Wiggly the “Piglet.” Some of the fellows who take our groceries out to the truck will say say good bye by saying, “Have a blessed day.” Christine at the Dollar General says the same.
I’ve been waiting for just the right time to post that.
“None of them guys on their team is like me. We got disrespected.”
No doubt. We are all special, and deserve respect, don’t you know?
Birch & green holly comes from
My habit is to put citation information in the caption. This one is tough. The book has no standard back page– all it says is, “Printed in Great Britain.”
Throughout, the photos are “Copyright 1897.” So it’s another crappy old book I’m thinking was first published 114 years ago. Some of the information about the publisher is on the right-hand page, above.
Of note, the inside cover has a stamp that says,
Class No. ____ Accession No. [and in handwriting] 5245
Just a little something different on this Sunday morning.
Apparently, the Cross-Town Shoot Out did not end well.
Five thoughts from No. 8 Xavier’s 76-53 win over crosstown rival Cincinnati:
1. The game didn’t end, literally. Nor have the repercussions.
An ugly brawl erupted with 9.4 seconds left in the game. Benches cleared, fists flew. Xavier’s senior All-America guard Tu Holloway readily admitted afterward that he was taunting Cincinnati players and coaches in front of Cincinnati’s bench, as the clock wound down. What ensued was a basketball brawl as ugly as any in memory. At one point, Xavier center Kenny Frease emerged from the pile on all fours, blood dripping from a gash below his left cheek, courtesy of a punch thrown by Cincinnati forward Yancy Gates.
The referees stopped the game at that point. There will be suspensions, though nothing had been announced as of 6 p.m. Saturday. Expect Holloway, Gates, Cincinnati center Cheikh Mbodj and possibly Xavier freshman forward Dez Wells to be suspended, possibly for multiple games.
Mbodj is seen in video stepping on Frease after he was down; Wells shoved a UC player early in the fight.
2. Holloway defended his actions, and those of his teammates, for their parts in the fight.
“This is my city,” Holloway explained. “I’m cut from a different cloth. None of them guys on their team is like me. We got disrespected. Maybe it looked bad to you (media), but this is what I’m used to. This is where I’m from. This wasn’t bad.”
More Paul Daugherty here. [Miss M. took a class from Doc once.]
“None of them guys on their team is like me. We got disrespected.”
That was painful to type.
According to that infallible source, Wikipedia, Xavier University was ranked #42 of 100 “Best Values in Private Colleges” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. You’d think Mr. Holloway, a student at Xavier, … . What the hell? Who am I kidding?
The casserole we had with last night’s steak supper took about 10 minutes to prepare– if even that. It is “Potato Casserole II” because it was the second potato casserole recipe that Mr. Big Food entered into his Big Food Manual. It differs from Potato Casseroles I and III in at least three fundamental ways. (There is a Big Food system of nomenclature.)
Mr. Big Food made just one-half the recipe. It could just as well be doubled for a larger crowd.
Quick, easy, and delicious.
POTATO CASSEROLE II
serves at least 8
2 lb. bag frozen hashbrowns, thawed
10 3/4 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 onion chopped
2 C or 8 oz. shredded yellow chesee of your favorite variety
2 C sour cream
Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients, mix well, spoon into a lightly greased 13 x 9″ casserole. Bake 45 minutes.
Fortunately, the quality of the photograph was inversely related to the quality of the meal: Perhaps the best Friday evening steak supper ever.
Mr. Big Food whipped up Potato Casserole II while I started a fire. (Casserole recipe to follow.) I poured us a Gentleman Jack and he read aloud from The Creative Cooking Course (links after the fold). We learned that brandy is the most noble spirit of them all. And…
To speak of brandy, we have to speak of the most exquisite example of spirits of this type… Cognac. Cognac is unequivocally and universally accepted as the greatest of brandies!
Mr. Big Food grilled the steak to perfection and paired it with a very nice BV Cabernet Savignone. In due time, we enjoyed a V.S.O.P. cognac.
There is no doubt that the drinking of a fine old brandy is one of the most pleasurable ways to climax a meal.
You should serve your brandy in medium-sized, narrow necked glasses called balloons or tulips. Both (especially the balloon) are shaped to deliberately “show off” the fragrance of the brandy.
Warming the brandy before drinking releases the bouquet, but the manner of warming is important to attain full pleasure. Although you may see it done in some restaurants, it is an injustice to warm your brandy over a flame. This will shock the bouquet into rapid dispersal, shortening your enjoyment. Instead, cradle the glass in both hands, “nursing” it and warming it with the warmth of your hands. Within a few minutes, you will no longer feel the glass because it and the brandy will have reached the temperature of your hands. Now you are ready to bury your nose in the matchless aroma, savor the fragrance and then sip.
[V.S.O.P. is Very Special Old Pale, aged for 18-25 years.]
It was a very luxurious grown-up supper which we were able to enjoy in no small part because we try to mind our pennies.
Keep reading for a bit more about the old cookbook, The Creative Cooking Course.
The Creative Cooking Course is really quite a book. The section “Presenting Brandy” is four pages long and includes the history and regional distinctions of cognac, as well as a description of how cognac is made, and how to select cognac and serve brandy, generally.
Creative Cooking is available at Amazon. More on Creative Cooking in Mr. Big Food’s Big Food Manual and Survivalist Flourishing Guidehere.
This is a delicious, slightly sweet bread. It’s not nearly as dense as some grain breads, but it’s not fluffy either (a good quality). Mr. Big Food thinks it will make excellent French toast, and I agree.
Lovely to knead, too. Very cooperative. Graham flour from Bob’s Red Mill.
If you want to fill your home with the scent of home-baked bread, this is the one. It bakes for 45 minutes, but the kitchen starts fill up with honey graham in about 10 minutes.
Recipe below the fold.
HONEY GRAHAM BREAD OR ROLLS
Makes 2 loaves or 24 rolls
2 C milk
1/3 C honey
1 Tbsp salt
½ stick butter
½ C warm water
2 packages or cakes active dry or compressed yeast
2 ½ C unsifted graham flour
3 ¾ C (about) unsifted flour
Scald milk, add honey, salt, and butter, and cool to lukewarm. Measure warm water into a warm mixing bowl, sprinkle over or crumble yeast, add lukewarm milk mixture, graham flour, and 2 C flour, and beat until smooth. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turn to grease entire surface, Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Punch dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured board, divide in half, shape each half into a loaf, and place in 2 greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. Or, form each dough half into a 12 inch roll, cut each into 12 equal pieces, shape each piece into a smooth ball, and place in greased 9-inch round cake pans. Cover loaves or rolls and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. If baking loaves, preheat oven to 350o, and bake loaves 45 minutes or until done. If baking rolls, preheat oven to 400o, and bake 20 minutes or until done.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, hunting with firearms is one of the safest recreational activities in America (here’s the press release and here’s the fact sheet with sources provided).
Here’s the link to the whole short piece (where the links in the quote are hot).
You know me, I have some questions about what counts as an “injury,”* but assuming what counts is consistent across activity, … well the numbers speak for themselves, now don’t they?
* I didn’t follow the links. Are there differences in sample sizes? How were these data collected? Et cetera. That the data are presented “According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation” make me want to be particularly careful about the methodology of data collection and analyses, even though I like the result.
This, my friends, is what we should aim to teach our children. How easy would it be to take the numbers in this chart and make fun of those helmeted bicyclists who suffer injury at a three times a higher rate than gun tottin’ hunters? Very easy. I won’t do that. Because I haven’t looked at the numbers.
After a good night’s sleep, Mr. Big Food announced he agreed with me and cast his vote in the Fall/Winter Soup Contest for Slow Cooker Potato Cheese Soup with Wieners. It was a difficult decision. Corn and Sausage Chowder is a very very good Fall/Winter Soup (recipe at the link).
Posts on soup contest entrant #1, Beer Cheese Broccoli Soup here, and here
Posts on soup contest entrant #2, Slow Cooker Potato Cheese Soup with Wieners here, and here.
The Creed begins a four page chapter devoted to helping “you to become a better manager,” because in 1942 (when the book was first published) running a home was a job that a woman was expected to take pride in doing well. There are six tips for stretching the food dollar.
“Make it yourself!” cautions that
It is poor economy to buy cooked meats, cakes, cookies, jellies, preserves, pickles and the like.
Not only are you paying for the food, but also for someone else’s time and labor.
“Shop around” notes that
By buying each food where it is least expensive and best for the price, you will save pennies every day– and if you take care of the pennies, the dollars will last much longer.
“Cash-and-carry“– Well, the days of credit-and delivery grocery stores are long gone. But I’ll have you know the fellows at the Piglet still take our groceries to the truck for us! The folks at Supercenter don’t do that!
Keep reading for more good advise.
“Buy in quantity” recognizes something every prepper knows, a ten pound bag of sugar costs less per pound than a five pound bag. “More or less the same principle applies to fresh foods, too… .” If you are able to buy and store in quantity, you’ll save a little each month.
When added up at the end of the year, this will amount to a tidy sum to spend on the occasional extras which make living a little more luxurious.
So… you are supposed to defer treating yourself to a luxury until you’ve saved the money to afford the luxury? Wow. What a radical idea.
“Budget your income” acknowledges the practical problem of buying in quantity: you need a quantity of cash. There is only one way to solve this problem and that is to have a budget and follow it “scrupulously.” The recommended system involves a “careful account” of a month’s actual expenditures, followed by division of the next month’s income into proportions to meet the large expenses. She recommends using labeled envelopes! Just put the cash you’ve budgeted for food for the month into an envelope. It’s all there. You can dole it out on 10 pound bags of sugar or a bushels of apples as you see fit. Very Dave Ramseyesque. This system
has the advantage of being based on past experience of your family, rather on the theory of some remote budget-planner who has never had to deal with Junior’s shoes or Sister’s tooth-straightening.
“Have your own garden”
The advantage to be derived is more than just the saving of a few dollars; it is that the kitchen garden will supply perfectly fresh foods– something which most people who raise nothing for themselves seldom experience.