Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Momma, Hip Surgery, and Comfort Food!

I’m here in New Mexico with my folks at the home I grew up in, helping my Momma recover from a total hip replacement.  My mother is a hard working Ranch Wife and I’m pretty certain her motto in life would be, “Get up and get going”!  So this thing of being sort of chair-bound is a little hard on her. 

I love being here and have been enjoying an early morning walk most mornings, if I can squeeze it in.  But I’m going to be honest and say that I haven’t worked this hard since we finished building our house! 
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m NOT complaining.  I’m so happy to be here and consider it a huge privilege to help take care of my mother.  I’m thankful every minute that I still have a mother and that she is in good health and such a treasure to me. 
But I’m exhausted.  And when I get really tired I laugh constantly.  At the worst things at the wrong time!  Like when I went to move Mom’s walker and knocked her in the knee with it and she just about jumped out of her chair.  I laughed so hard I had to sit down on the floor.  My Dad laughed just as hard, mind you.   Dad said,  "She’s going to need a knee replacement next"!  Smile! 
So, imagine my horror yesterday when Mom said (from the recliner where she was forced to lay because it was time for her ice pack), “Today we are going to can those apples”.  I burst out laughing.  She just looked at me seriously.  My next thought was that I was going to call my sister at work and say, “WHY did you pick all those apples off Mom and Dad’s tree?  They were fine just hanging there”!  But instead I wearily said, “Okay, let’s get you set up in the warm sunroom”. 

My Mom was so happy.  She peeled, cored, and sliced apples to her hearts content.  I love watching my mom’s hands when she does something like that.  They fly through the air like you would not believe.  She is FAST. 
So we canned apples.   And you know what?  It was so lovely.  I realized so many things from those few hours.  Probably the biggest thing being that I am my mother’s daughter.  I love the same things she loves.  I’m happiest when my hands are busy; be it cooking, crafting, working, or writing.   I pretty much hate laying around.
When I got up this morning and looked at our beautiful jars of canned apples on the counter top, I smiled.   I’m going to be here two more weeks and, even though I miss my family in Tennessee more than you can imagine, I’m so happy to have this time with my dear Momma and Daddy.
And one other thing I’ve learned that I never realized before is that I’m my Daddy’s daughter too.  He and I can laugh until the tears are rolling down our cheeks! 

So to close out this very (exhausted) jumbled blog post, I thought I would share with you my Mom's favorite comfort food! 

A fresh pot of Pinto Beans. 


All you need is some dry Pinto Beans and Salt Pork. Throw the beans in a large stock pot, cover with water.  Add a few slices of salt pork and bring it all to a boil.  Lower the temperature, put a lid on your pot and let it sit there and simmer for several hours.  Check frequently to make sure there is enough water and add more as necessary.  Add salt as desired but only after beans are completely cooked and soft.

We love to serve our beans with what I thought was my Mom's bean relish recipe.  She said, "It sure is funny that both you and your brother make that bean relish with cucumbers".  She says she never did, so I'm not sure where we both came up with the idea to add cucumbers.   Anyway, here is my Mom's bean relish recipe (my version).

Chop equal portions of onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and green chile (preferably Hatch, New Mexico green chile right out of your Momma's freezer!). 


Throw them together into a bowl and pour in a bit of olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. 

Have your dear daughter (smile) dish up a bowl of steaming hot Pinto Beans with bean relish on the side and serve it to you in your recliner! 
On a very serious side note.  My mother would far rather be the one serving ME.  I can only think of a few times in her life that I've had the privelege of being the one doing the serving.  And believe me when I tell you that if you are ever sick or in need of some TLC, nobody does it better than my Momma!
Dad and I just have to tease her a bit! 
P.S.  I am so excited that I'll be going to the airport tomorrow to pick up Eldon!  My Dad is just as happy as he'll have someone to escape with him to The Ranch!   

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Gift In Your Mailbox!

I recently read a quote that went something like this:

"Letters are the next best thing to showing up personally at someone's door".

The other day when I opened my mailbox I had this sweet invitation from a very special young lady that has surprised me numerous times with something in my mailbox.  

She is young enough to be my daughter, but wise enough to understand how special a little something in the mail is to us old folks!  (Thank you, Raimie!)

Upon opening her invitation I suddenly  remembered a New Years Resolution I made back in January that this year I was going to write one letter a week to someone special to me.  I think I did great for about two months and then unfortunately I let the busyness of life get in my way and that was the end of my letter writing.

So guess what I did today?  

Nope, I didn't hardly touch the million to-do things on my list for this week.

I sat down at my desk and made a list of every single person I want to send a note to.  

 I started pulling out scrapbook paper, circle punches, tape runners, ink, ribbon and all kinds of other scrap pieces of crafting stuff.  

And I got busy.

As I worked I thought about the bundle of letters and cards I have packed away for safekeeping that my husband and I sent back and forth to each other 33 years ago.  

I thought about the phone call from my Mom a couple days ago telling me about the hand written letter she received from my grown son.  (She's not the first person to tell me they got a letter from him.)

I thought about the huge box of cards and letters that were sent to me 10 years ago when I had Breast Cancer.  I treasure those cards like you would not believe. 

I thought about my elderly Aunt that I'm named after... the Aunt that in 52 years of my life has NEVER forgotten to send me a  birthday card.  Until this year.   She is very elderly now and not able for much.  I missed her birthday card more than you can even imagine.   

I remembered the large manilla envelope I got in the mail for my birthday a couple years ago from my sister.  I opened it and out fell about 10 birthday cards.  Cards that she had purchased every year for my birthday, wrote a sweet note, signed... and forgotten to send (they had been sitting in the drawer of her desk)!!!  I love that memory!

It really hit me today how important letters, cards and little packages mean to the person that opens their mailbox.   I want to do better about hanging on to that old tradition.  

So, tell me.  Do you still write letters and send to friends and family?  

Does your heart go pitter patter when you open your mailbox and find a hand written letter?  

Do you feel like I do that letter writing is almost a lost art?  

  In two days I leave for New Mexico to spend almost a month with my folks.  

Guess what I plan to do with part of my time?  (Smile!)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pumpkin Bread Pudding (with Candy Roaster Pumpkin/Squash)!

Something happens to me when the weather starts getting cooler... I want to bake! 

I was hungry for something pumpkin and remembered this recipe for Pumpkin Bread Pudding, so I dug it out and got busy.  Thought I would share it with you today, just in case you're in the baking mood too!

Start by baking a loaf of pumpkin bread.  Any recipe will work.

(Please excuse the yellow picture.  Yes, my camera setting was on manual mode.  No, I did not remember to turn off my overhead kitchen light until too late.  Grrr.)

Let your loaf cool and then slice it and cut the slices into 1 inch chunks.  Place on cookie sheet and bake in 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until slightly brown.

Prepare the yummy custard pudding by whisking together 4 large eggs, 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup of pumpkin, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.   Whisk in 2 cups of whole milk and 1 1/2  cups of heavy cream.

I used my Candy Roaster pumpkin left over from last year.  If you missed that post you can read it here.

Pour your toasted bread crumbs into the custard mixture.

Carefully stir it together and let sit for 20 minutes.

Pour into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish and sprinkle generously with raw sugar.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour a couple inches of hot water into a large roasting pan and place your casserole dish right into the pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.  

When you remove your bread pudding from the oven it may still be a bit runny.  But let it sit for about 15 minutes (or longer) and it will set up.  

Please don't be alarmed if it doesn't look too appetizing because I promise you, it is!

Whip some heavy cream to desired consistency.  I like mine really firm and fluffy but my daughter whips hers to just a soft consistency and they both taste perfect!  I add real vanilla to the whipped cream but only a tiny, tiny bit of sugar.  You really don't need much as the bread pudding is plenty sweet!

Dollop a big ole spoon full of the whipped cream on top of the warm pudding!  

Having been raised on "real" whipping cream my whole life (I grew up with a milk cow and we always had cream to spare) I've been surprised at how many people just buy the canned Ready Whip or the Cool Whip and actually have no idea that you can whip cream up to such a delightful, amazing thing.  

What do you do?  Buy it ready whipped, or whip your own? 

 I love it in my coffee and actually I love to just eat it right out of the bowl when I mix it up!  

I also baked fresh apple pie this week.  I wrote about it on MaryJanesFarm blog this week and you can read that here.

Hope you are enjoying this lovely month of October!  It is certainly beautiful.

Monday, October 13, 2014

October Monthly Moos {Batten Down The Hatches}

There is one thing about living in the South that is unsettling to me.  It is the headaches I get when there is a "storm in the air".   This morning when I woke up I just knew that a big storm was coming.  

I decided to get outside before it hit and enjoy some of the changes of the seasons going on around the farm.  These are tiny little persimmons from a wild persimmon tree down by our pond.  They are just tiny little bite size things.  Eldon loves them - and so do the deer!

We've been getting a lot of rain so our pond is full and spilling out the overflow.  I noticed the calves playing in the "creek" the other day when it was really flowing out of the pond!

I thought a few pictures and a tour of the flower garden might be a good idea since the storm tonight just might finish it off.    Andrea and I have been super busy making bouquets (we did a wedding reception over the weekend - more on that later!) and we still have loads of flowers.  

One of Belle's favorite places on the farm is the flower garden.  She loves to just lay between the rows and watch the butterflies and the little grand-girls!  When I'm there and they aren't, she usually paces and whines!  And then sneaks off down to their house.  The stinker.  I'm pretty sure those little girls are her favorite people!

With all the rain our Charolais cows are pretty and white!  Usually they are quite dirty!  

I wanted some of these branches!  But they were the tip top of a 20 foot tree... a tree that was bending and blowing in the wind!

The hickory nuts are falling fast and furious.  

Back up to the hilltop to sit on the (very windy) porch and look at the clouds rolling in.  (The white fields down below are cotton ready to be harvested.)

Just a tiny bit of Fall colors starting.  And the white fluffy clouds are rapidly moving.  The picture just doesn't capture it, but the trees were blowing so hard the noise was pretty scary.  We stay out of the woods when the storms come!  All those cracking and falling tree limbs are not a safe place to be.  

I heard a loud noise and looked over and the canoe had jumped off it's stand and was headed down the hill.  Time to batten down the hatches!

We've learned from experience to take our porch swing off it's chains...

... and turn the rocking chairs over and bring in everything else.  It ends up half way down the hill if we don't!  We even tie our bar-b-que grill to one of the porch pillars.  (Learned that the hard way!) 

And here it is!  Time to head in the house to a nice hot bowl of soup and cornbread.  

And hopefully we won't be spending the night in the tornado closet/shelter.  

I hope your Fall is a calm one so far!