Now That’s Cooking With Gas

For all of the cooking years of my life, I have cooked on an electric stove and have become accustomed to both the curly cue and the flat top ranges. In my years of teaching cheesemaking however, any of my students who have gas stoves at home loudly sing the praises of cooking with gas.  Lucky for me, our move to the Penrose countryside in January brought with it five acres, a household bullet style propane tank in the yard and a gas stove.

Granted, there are benefits to cooking with gas. Its proponents love that the level of heat can be instantly regulated, and when you’re finished cooking or (in my case) when the pot of heating milk is about to boil over, you can simply turn the stove off and all heat ceases-unlike electric ranges that historically have caused me to juggle turning off the burner, grabbing hot pads and attempting to yank the frothing pot off the stove before it boils over either onto me or all over the burners.

Cooking with gas does have an unexpected learning curve though, one that has twice put the integrity of my kitchen at risk. You see, cooking with gas, as one might realize, directly involves fire. Flames come licking out of the burner in extremely hot, light-other-things-on-fire, fashion. The good news is, I have not lit myself on fire. The bad news is, I’ve learned I have to change the way I make spaghetti. On an electric top, I bring the water to a boil, put the full length noodles in, leaving the excess sticking out of the pot and just let hot water and gravity take over until they all eventually sink into the pot. The day I learned that doesn’t work with gas is the day the ends of the noodles looked like the charred ends of a handful of 4th of July sparklers.

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Another cooking technique that has caused some alarm is our method of warming tortillas. On an electric range, we turn it on and throw a corn tortilla straight on the burner where it slowly heats up to a palatable consistency. There has never been need to break out the fire extinguisher. Remember previously, I mentioned cooking with gas means cooking with fire? It also means flaming tortillas. We’ve realized there can be no walking away from the burner when toasting tortillas unless you want to return to a tortilla inferno.

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In the end, I think I’ll prefer my gas stove top over all others, but the jury’s still out.  Speed and precision of cooking versus lighting my sweater on fire when I reach over the lit front burner to stir the chili on the back burner.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  This original post ran in it’s edited version here on the IndyBlog on March 14, 2015.

 

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How Wheelbarrows Give Birth

The Animal Whisperer witnessed (and titled) this event:

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In the womb.

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Wow!  From this angle, she hardly looks pregnant!

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I do believe her water broke and she’s definitely dropped a little.  Better head to the hospital.

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The baby started coming in the elevator!  No time for an epidural!

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Birth.

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Awwwww, look at that little guy!  He looks just like his dad!

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

 

 

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9 Reasons I Like Living In The Country

1.  People wave at you when they drive by.  You don’t even know them.

2.  They sell death wholesale to the public.

3.  The locals tell you a country block equals a quarter mile.

4.  There’s no line at the Walmart Customer Service counter.

5.  You accidentally dial the wrong number when calling the mom of your son’s new friend at school.  Instead of gruffly stating, “You’ve got the wrong number” and hanging up, the friendly stranger on the other end strikes up a conversation.  He tells you he’s not related to the kid you’re calling about but asks, “Is he ok?” and introduces himself as the dad of another fifth grader at your son’s school.

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6.  Poles wear boots.  No, they are not my boots.

7.  Down the street, there’s a buffalo and a camel and white peacocks and a zorse (zebra mixed with horse).

8.  The sunsets are beautiful.

9.  There are stars.  No, I mean STARS.  Lots of them.  All over the sky.  EVERYWHERE.

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

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24 Hour Flu

I’m recovering from the 24 hour stomach flu, which, while in the throes of it and on the climb back out of the depths of sickness, I’ve had some really odd thoughts.  Having all the fluids drained from your body must do that to a person.

First of all, a couple of days ago, I was taking a nap.  This was pre-illness, but post nursing our 7-year-old through his bout with the virus.  I was exhausted and fell asleep for my afternoon nap when the wind started blowing so hard that I dreamily wondered if my house, not securely attached to any real foundation, might actually blow away with me in it.  I, rather appropriately, became Dorothy and found myself wondering if I was wearing the right shoes.  Red, sparkly pumps to be exact, for my touchdown in Munchkin Land.

Second of all, once completely sick, I didn’t do much sleeping thanks to a 5 day old chicken I ungratefully named Happy Feet somewhere around 3:30 am.  A couple of days prior, we purchased our new flock of egg layers…twelve three day old chicks…an assortment of Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Cucko Marans, and Jersey Giants.  Well, one of them is not a real chick.  It is something else disguised as a chick.

If you are not accustomed to the vocal sounds real chicks make, let me introduce you: peep.  The peep can be a very quiet, I’m sleepy, peep, a screaming, I’m hungry, thirsty or cold, peep, or a frantic, You’re stepping on me you other chicks and I was sleeping and now we’re all stampeding to the other end of our box and falling in the food, peep. If you get my drift, the only thing normal chicks do is a monosyllabic peep.

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Enter: Happy Feet.  When we bought the chicks at Buckley’s, Allison told us she thought some of them look like little penguins.  Turns out she might be right.  Happy Feet sings at all hours of the day and night, twitttttttttttterrrrrrrrrrrr, chirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp !!! (Note: To reproduce the sound you must roll the t’s and the r’s).   It’s a happy sound, if it were reserved only for waking hours. She even twittered out in perfect falsetto, “rain drops keep fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin'” at o-dark-thirty. Consequently, I’ve decided one of three things.

1.  Happy Feet is a chicken mixed with a spring robin.

2.  Happy Feet is a GMO chicken:  Genetically Modified Opera singer.

3.  Happy Feet is really a rooster.

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Third of all, and the final earth shattering awareness I had whilst ill, we have the perfect trashcan for losing your dinner in.  The plastic can is contoured with both a forehead and chin cutout, perfect for burying your entire head, should that necessity become apparant.  It also comes complete with, if your head is a couple of inches wider than mine, ear hangers.  To the delusionally dehydrated mind, the handles, as they are otherwise known, could be placed over the ears when the emergency can’t-make-it-to-the-toilet situation arises, which would free your hands up to white knuckle the nearest floor.

In other news, our 7-year-old is fully recovered.  I’m on the mend.  The house is still in its original location next to the barn.  Happy Feet did not become fodder for the wildlife and continues to entertain us during the day and cause us to spout expletives at night.  The trashcan has returned to its previously scheduled programming and no ears were damaged in the process.

Until next time,

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

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How To Break In New Cowboy Boots

When we lived in the city, I considered myself an urban farm girl.  I milked goats, made cheese, gardened, canned, pulled goat kids out of their mamas, gave shots to goats that needed them, slaughtered chickens, autopsied rabbits.  But I wasn’t what I considered a true farm girl because all of my outdoor work I did in big, black rain galoshes.  Wellies.  Mucking boots.  In my glorified vision of farm life, real farm girls wear cowboy boots and I had never broken in a pair in my life.

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Now that we live in the honest to goodness country and are building an honest to goodness farm, that seems to be a skill my boys and I need to learn.  They dream of having horses and I can’t very well send them out amongst the real cowboys in their rain boots.  As a Christmas gift, my parents presented them with their very own brand new cowboy boots.  Beautiful leather, pristine condition.  New.  And since Christmas, that is how they have remained, complete with the tag hanging off the side.  I mean, what do you do with brand new shoes?  You don’t exactly wear them out into the mud and manure in the barn, right?  But, if not, how do boots go from looking like they do on the shelf at Big R to how they look on farmer’s feet?  Do you keep the new ones new for when you go make Sunday visits and buy some old worn out ones at Goodwill for the rest of the time?  The multitude of questions began to bother me.

Enter:  April Parks, a beautiful, friendly, goat farm owner, wife and mother.  We spent an hour at her place, Parks Oasis, a couple of weeks ago, perusing her selection of goats for sale.  Also on the farm were chickens, a cow, horses and herding dogs.  I looked down at her feet and made the determination, THIS is a real farm girl.  Her children were running this way and that, playing, riding horses, training dogs…and every last one of them had on cowboy boots.

After a long discussion about copper bolusing goats and without skipping a beat, I said, “This is a change of subject, but just how do you get your cowboy boots to look like that?  Do you just buy used ones?”  I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that new $85 boots would be used as working boots.  It is not in my frame of reference to take, say, some brand new $85 heels and purposely metamorphosize them into dirt kicking, barn cleaning work shoes.  Really, who does that?

April’s sweet (and non-judgemental) reply was…”You just wear them!”  Not able to believe my ears, I clarified her statement by saying, “You mean you just get them dirty and worn out on purpose?”  “Yep!  That’s the great thing about boots, you just hose them off!”

Hmmm.  Seriously?

Trusting April’s advice, later that week on a hot, dusty day, I sent the boys outside where they commenced a February (??) water fight with the hose…in their shorts, T-shirts…and brand new cowboy boots.

We’re on our way to being real farmers now.

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  This post ran in its edited version in the IndyBlog on February 14, 2015.

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Honey, Where’s The Mop?

When you’re a writer, if you’re ever at a loss for words to write, go outside and do some farm work.  That’s my opinion at least.  Without fail, I see something gross, do something hilarious, see something beautiful, or hear something chirping.  The other day, farm work fell into the “see something gross” category.

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First, as you’ll recall, The Animal Whisperer knocked down this old shed.

Then, I got writer’s block.

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So, I went outside to start cleaning up the destruction zone.

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And came upon this (and one other) mouse skin filled up with its composted remains.

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Being the city girl that I /am/was/might-always-be/ I had (in my opinion) a clearly rational thought upon coming upon the mouse nest.  “Ohhhh.  That’s where those two lived.  They’re dead. Musta eaten some mouse poison.  No more mice here.  Nope, nothing to be concerned about.”

Another portion of the nest, composed primarily of mop strings and shredded newspaper, caused me to imagine a wish-I-were-a-fly-on-the-wall discussion between the people who previously lived here about where the mop went:

He steps out to the side porch to grab the mop and sees…to his surprise…only the handle!  He says to her, incredulously,  “HONEY!  What did you do to the mop!!!”  She responds, jumping to the defensive, “What are you talking about?  I did nothing to the mop!”  After agreeing to each other’s innocence, they begin suspecting the kids, who have also commandeered the scissors. 

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Only seven years later does the truth come to light.

After moving a second rotten floorboard, I found another nest.  Interestingly, whereas the other nest would blow away in a light breeze, this one held together as if glued.  Being curious, but still naively believing the only two mice who could have lived here were dead, I pulled it apart with a stick, actually in awe of the rodents’ capabilities in nest building and gaining an improved visual for when I tell my 7-year-old his hair looks like a rat’s nest.

I’m sure you guessed it, but I didn’t.  It was only after I shrieked upon uncovering a nest of LIVE mice that I realized…DUH.  The fact that two mice are petrified does not indicate the termination of the species.

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Sheesh.

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

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What to do After You Move.

We moved into our new digs three weeks ago.  It is due to that fact that I can now speak as an expert on a few things to do after you move.  OK, maybe not exactly an expert, but I’ll share some of my experiences on what to do (or not to do) after you move in.

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1.  Change the blade on your razor.  I am not a huge fan of shaving my legs, but due to some unsightly hair experiences of late, I have vowed to become better at it.  Typically, the super galactic razor blade probably made by scientists at NASA that is advertised to give you a smoother shave thus less risk for cuts and nicks gets changed (under my ownership) approximately once every two years or so.  With my new commitment to not being able to braid my leg hair, I decided it was time to change it.  New house, new start, new razorblade.  Why not?  Unfortunately, when used to an old blade, you tend to get a little careless. The old blade is dull, and along with not really cutting off much of your leg hair, it has minimal risk of cutting off much of your skin.  Not so with a new blade, I was reminded.  I am now healing from no less than six shaving cuts.  Per Leg.

2.  Clean out the shower drains.  The previous homeowners left the house pretty darn clean, but as do many of us, they didn’t think to clean out the shower drains.  Neither did I, until our shower started draining slower, slower and slower.  If you’ve never been tasked with this cleaning job, let me paint you a picture, but first it will require some practice on your part:

Step 1:  Wash your hands.

Step 2:  Reach one hand into your mouth and at least half way down your esophagus.

Step 3:  Grasp the inside of your esophagus and pull it up and out through your mouth.

This will elicit the most hideous gag reflex, perhaps, of your life.  Now you’re ready to clean the shower drain.

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Step 1:  Glove up.

Step 2:  Grab tweezers (preferably an old pair…not the ones you use to pluck your eyebrows) or needle nose pliers (hopefully you don’t use these to pluck your nose hairs, either).

Step 3:  Poke them into the drain and pinch them onto the drape of hairs you see there.

Step 4:  Pull.  Note: These few hairs are not the main problem.  They are just the catchment system for what hangs unseen, below.

Step 5:  Repeat and keep repeating, grasping other strands of hair and pulling.  Eventually the big wad will come to the opening in the drain.  This is where it really gets gross.

Step 6:  Pull and reposition and pull and reposition until you successfully extract the slimy, possibly (but hopefully not) stinky, wad of the previous owner’s hair.  If you have forgotten the trash can, run grab it.  You’ll need to throw the hair wad in there, after you use it to throw up.

3.  Lose the dogs.  Mind you, we did not do this on purpose.  They got out of the goat pen, where they have taken up residence to protect the goats from wildlife, and disappeared.

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After searching for hours, Craigslisting, Facebooking and Tweeting “lost dogs” with their pictures and posting fliers on 25 rural electrical poles, they made it safely home, on their own.  One after 24 hours, the other after 48.  (No, they aren’t chipped.  Yes, they will get chipped.  Turkeys.)

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4.  Knock down some stuff.  Mostly, the view impeding stuff.  If it’s in the way and you don’t like it, take ‘er down baby.  As for me, I need my Pikes Peak view.

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And, although from my kitchen window, I only see the top two inches of the south side, it grounds me.  And the offending shed was blocking my view.

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Thanks for removing it,  honey.

We’re getting ready for the spring down here in Penrose…kidding season is just around the corner…hang on for cute pictures!

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

Posted in Dogs, Farm Life, goats, Kidding | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments