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Friday, December 27, 2013

Cutting Down a Tree

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas this year. Either calm or chaotic, I am sure it was magical.

It's amazing how quickly Christmas zoomed up on us and then it was gone like a flash! We had a low key holiday with a simple menu of caramelized onion puff pastry appetizers, Cornish game hens with a lovely rosemary garlic sauce, mashed potatoes and a spicy but not too spicy Swiss chard. Pepperidge Farm cake was for dessert. We kept it simple and enjoyed each others' company.

Here are some photos of a project Tom and Z did around Thanksgiving. Macho man stuff, that's for sure.

There was a dead pine tree needing to come down, so Tom waited until Z could help. Z says he likes to do manual labor when he comes to the ranch, so we are taking him at his word.

Z is the hatchet man.

And Tom is the chainsaw guy.

Ms. Pearl just can't stand the snow.

Here's the tree almost ready for the words, "Timber!"

Luckily, the tree landed just exactly where they wanted, between two smaller trees, so nothing was damaged.

Ms. Pearl wants to tell everyone it was a job well done.

So what's my part in this? When it's time to cut up the tree, I promise to gather the logs and help T stack them. Yep.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Remember to take a break (or two) today while you prepare for Christmas Day.

I want to thank Debbie Watral Kitchen of Woodstock, Georgia, for this most apt photo. 

May all of you have an excellent Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Biscochitos: New Mexico Christmas Cookies

I've written about biscochitos every Christmas because they are such a part of New Mexico culture. Heck, they are The New Mexico State Cookie, so you know they are great.

At Mora's Winterfest a couple weeks ago they even had a biscochito contest. I didn't stay to find out who won, but really, every cookie I tasted from the many bake sale tables there was excellent: almost like a cinnamon-sugar-anise seed shortbread cookie.

I buy biscochitos rather than bake them because I like to support my neighbors and when I give the heating guy or the propane guy a little baggie of biscochitos, I hope it gives them a little Christmas cheer.

One biscochito vendor stood out this year because he is into branding and packaging. A member of our Livestock Growers' group and the CEO of our new growers' co-op, he really is into marketing big time. Look at the artistic packaging for his cookies.

His cookies are tasty and dusted with a little more cinnamon sugar than others I have sampled.

Whether you dunk your cookies or eat them straight up, enjoy!

Here is a link to a good biscochitos recipe.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Our county is small, just around 4,700 people or so, which works out to around 2.5 people per square mile. I can drive six miles to the post office and not meet one car coming or going. Something I just read says we aren't even considered rural, but a frontier. Who knew there was something more rural than rural?

So when our community has an event, it will be well attended, even if the temperature outside is 19 degrees. It's a chance to meet up with family and friends, have some Frito pie or a tamale, do a little gossiping, a little people watching, and buy art, crafts, and baked goodies from the folks at the tables and booths lined up on the elementary school's gym floor. Santa makes an appearance, too, so there are kids, lots of them, waiting for the old guy to show up.

This is my third consecutive Winterfest, always held the first Saturday in December.

The first time I went alone, knowing no one, feeling like everyone was leaning over to their friend from their perch on the gym bleachers, asking, "Who is that?" I felt self conscious, alien, and alone and quickly bought some baked goods and got the heck out of there.

Last year was a bit better, but this year was different. Maybe it's because I went with a friend, but that was only part of it. About half way around the gym I heard someone call my name, "Bridget! How are you?" Vicki was at a table selling baked goods with some high school students earning money for a trip to Europe.

A few steps later, Darlene and Jonathan stopped to chat. There was a short conversation with Veronica, whose hoop house we helped to finish last spring.  Roger and his sister stood behind a table selling their Rancho Carmelo goodies and bath and beauty potions. Across from Roger, John and Pam's daughter displayed her home baked designer cupcakes.

I sat down at the bleachers and chatted with Rita who sold us some beef cattle about a year ago. She introduced me to her mom and I immediately missed mine.

From my perch on  the bleachers I scanned the gym and spotted Betsy, our driver to Winterfest, and a new friend, Barbara. We all have the initials B.B. and may start a club.

After a lunch in a local diner, surrounded by friends both old and new, I went back to the ranch realizing something had changed.

This place feels like home now.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Don't Toss That Turkey Carcass!

It would be a sacrilege to toss the turkey carcass without getting as much as possible from your investment. This year we bought an intensively raised, grass grazed, free range designer turkey, so we really wanted to get our money's worth. That turkey cost as much as the budget for a small town!
 After Thanksgiving dinner, we had Friday leftovers: sliced turkey for sandwiches and all the stuffing, rice, mashed potatoes, green beans, roasted butternut squash, beet and arugula salad and gravy we wanted to eat.

But there was still meat left on that turkey carcass. This is a stock photo, but you get the idea.

So I found a cooking show to watch while I dismembered the turkey. I broke the thighs and wings off the bird, picked the bones clean, flipped it over and over, scouring that lovely bird for all it would offer.

There was much more dark than light meat, and I used quart freezer bags to save 2 cup servings of all my pickin's.

 Into small snack bags went skin and other yucky stuff (no bones) to add to Ms. Pearl's dinner: not so much that she has a digestive upset, just a little yum to add to her senior dog food.

Here's what I got:

But we weren't done. The carcass, complete with the stuff I had used in the turkey's cavity for Thanksgiving roasting, apples, onions, tangerines and rosemary sprigs, went into the stock pot for a leisurely slow boil lasting about an hour and a half. Since I had brined the turkey, I didn't add any salt.  After I removed the carcass from the broth, I strained it and picked more meat from the rescued bones.

From the stock, daughter M made some Turkey Barley Soup. She added extra mushrooms and because we ran out of celery and are not near a store, sliced some chard ribs into the soup and added some celery seed. The leftover white meat and some of the dark meat I had gleaned after the simmer went into the soup toward the end of the cooking time.

The rest of the meat is in the freezer now, waiting for its reappearance. 

For your inspiration, here are a few recipes that use either leftover turkey or cooked chicken. Cooked turkey and chicken are interchangeable at our place.

White Chicken Posole (Skip browning the chicken and add your turkey toward the end of the cooking time)