Chef Dad

As you all may know, if you are a regular reader of my blog, we look forward to the cooler temperatures because we are able to cook in our fireplace with our Dutch oven.  Jason called this afternoon to tell me he was preparing a pot of fireplace chili, so I was really excited.  After I got home, Jason carefully tended his precious Dutch oven with nothing but great love and care.  He gently stirred the contents of the pot, all while adjusting the pot oh-so-precisely.  As he stood up, he said, “My chili may need a little spice adjustment.”  At that very moment, I remembered that I had used up the last of the chili powder about 4 days ago. 

I said, “Uh, we don’t have chili powder.  What did you use?”  J: “Well, I found some powder in a jar.” Me: “Um, it didn’t happen to be a glass jar did it?”  J: “Well……”

I thought, uh oh.  We went into the kitchen and he showed me the glass jar, which was now missing half of its contents.  “This one” he said.  I stuck my finger in the spice jar and licked my finger, knowing full well what was coming. 

Bleeeeech!  That’s cayenne pepper!  Oh my God, how much did you use?” 

“Well, like half the bottle.” 

I burst out into laughter.  “I guess it’s a chicken nugget night, huh?” I said.  So, due to the  culinary faux pas, we instead ate a plate full of chicken nuggets, which I am almost convinced are not really meat at all. 

After dinner, curiosity got the best of us.  Jason tasted the ‘chili’ first. 

“Oh………………….GOD!” he managed to say between wheezes.  ” This is DEADLY.”

I took my place in front of the pot.  “My Lord!  And how many jalapenos did you put in?”  “Well, just a few.”  A few?  There were about 2 whole super hot jalapenos in there!  I put a drop on my tongue. 

“GAAAAAAAAKKKK!”  I managed to get out while spitting the ‘chili’ in the trash.  It was so hot, it seared my tongue and throat and made my eyes water. 

If I remember correctly, this is also the same man that accidentally substituted salt for sugar in a cookie recipe.  Then again, maybe I just have my memories mixed up.  Anyway, just so that you all know, Jason actually happens to be a good cook most of the time (with the exception being Chinese food, and when he gets ‘inventive’ with his spices.  For whatever reason, he tends to over-garlic things sometimes). 

He makes the best brisket this side of the Mississippi, and that’s the truth.  Just don’t try the chili on a night when he’s using an unlabeled spice jar!

Gettin’ my goat…

Lately, we have been having ‘problems’ with our goats. Oh, they’re perfectly healthy and robust, but unfortunately, they all seem to suffer from some sort of co-dependent paranoia/eating disorder that if I do not come and feed them every 10 minutes, they are at the fence (unfortunately which can be seen through my back door) and scream at the top of their goat lungs. An incessant, “BAAAAAAAA, BAAAAAAAA, BAAAAAAAA” from early morning to nightfall.  It is to the point that my husband is ready to gut and clean every goat and have a giant, citywide barbeque.  So much for the peace and quiet of the country. We currently have eight goats; I am trying to get that to two or three to quiet the decibel level of “Baa”.  Oh, they have full access to about 12 acres of brushy, goat-friendly goodness, but they’d rather take a hand-out.  Reminds me of some of the people in this great nation.  Anyway, maybe that’s why I find it doubly irritating.  I don’t know.  I did just look and the goats were all where they are SUPPOSED to be, which is in the woods.  Maybe they will learn, yet.  We shall see. 

In farm life, yesterday, we had a couple of ‘our guys’ come and help us burn dead wood out in the goat pen, clean out the goat pen and apply it to my garden, and haul bricks to our pathway we are constructing in front of our house.  It was really great to have 4 extra hands!  I found one of my up and coming Rhode Island Red hens with her rear end virtually pecked to a bloody mess (ah, the fun you can have with chickens) so, I had to put her in a separate cage, clean and medicate her chicken bootie, and see how she does.  She’s a lot better this morning.  If you didn’t know it already, chickens will ruthlessly peck most anything that is red, blood especially, to the point they will kill a fellow chicken.  It can be extremely annoying and frustrating.  That’s why many chicken brooder lights are red, so that they cannot distinguish one red area from another.  So, I’ll have to turn back on the red light, I guess.  Oh well.  They are almost ready to put out with the big guys. 

So, screaming goats and doctoring chicken booties aside, yesterday was a really good, productive day!

A junkin’ we will go…

The whole thrill of junking is that you just know the next table will have what you’ve been looking for all your life.  –Mary Randolph Carter

Last Saturday,  as an early birthday present, my husband took me to Canton, TX, to go shopping.  Canton’s First Monday flea market is HUGE.  You could be there for a week and still not see everything.  I am completely addicted to anything that resembles a cheap garage sale, so of course I had to go. 

I always drag Jason through the so-called “Dog Alley’, which is where they permit animal sales, and it totally separate from the main flea market.  I have to tell you that if you have never been, and if you enjoy people watching, this is by far the place for you to go.  You’ll never come out disappointed, or unscathed, for that matter.  You see things that make you want to cry out with laughter, and things that just want to make you cry.  For example, this time around, we saw the typical ‘redneckerie’ surrounding the animal sales tents.  One vendor I was listening to managed to completely convince a woman that she would be able to take a goat home in her compact car by simply putting down a trash bag in the floorboard .(obviously the buyer has never had a goat, who will probably immediately jump onto the dashboard or back glass as soon as the car starts, as well as eat various parts of the upholstery. Not to mention the diarrhea and urine that are sure to come flowing out of the goat when it realizes it is in a moving vehicle, but anyway…) And, one vendor was  savagely and cruelly snatching chickens up by one wing, yes, one wing, all the while the poor chickens were screaming as though they thought they were dying because they thought that they were, and it was obvious that she didn’t consider that the chickens actually do have brains and nerve endings and painfully obvious that she just considered them as ‘things’.  I am not a supporter of animal rights, but I do support animal welfare, and there was just NO sense in the way she was doing that.  For whatever reason, people hold chickens by their feet/wings/etc, when it is nothing but humane to grab them by their bodies, with wings held in place.  It is not that difficult, even my three year old can do it. 

So, we walked on (while I was contemplating snatching that woman up by her arm and twisting it behind her head), and I saw lots of people who paid WAAAAAAAY too much for puppies walking with their new purchases, which I knew likely were infested with worms and had coccidiosis, if not even some fatal genetic disease.  The worst part is that these are people who appear to not have two nickels to their names, and have just seriously overpaid for a sickly animal. 

Anyway, we drove to our favorite side of Canton, which is the unreserved section.  It is essentially a huge, super-cheap, conglomeration of JUNK.  Or, junque, as I prefer to call it.  I managed to find a pair of 300-500 dollar, handmade python boots for $32, dishcloth calendars for $1, and a leather rug for ten bucks.  Because rain was forecast, we were even given FREE junk!  I got an old metal Coca-Cola tray, and Jason got some kind of tools and a John Deere hubcap.  We fully believe in repurposing, so, his junk will likely adorn his shop, and I am going to use my tray as a magnetic message center. 

Jason was talking to one of the ‘vendors in a van’ (people who are nomadic junk haulers and probably hit every flea market in the South), when a young, pretty and preppy girl walked by.  She was wearing a tight shirt with the number 3 on the back.  If you live in the South, you know that the #3 is only seen as one thing: dearly departed Dale Earnhardt, who has achieved the highest status of those other Southern icons, such as Colonel Sanders and Robert E. Lee.  Anyway, the Vendor in a Van called out to her several times, “Hey!  Heeeeeeeey!”.  She finally whirled around and said, “Are you talking to me?”  V in a V said, “Yeah, I was wondering if that’s a Dale Earnhardt shirt you have on. ”  She said (after a long pause), “Uh, no, it’s Ralph Lauren.” 

I’m pretty sure that V in a V had no idea who Ralph Lauren is or what he does, but as the girl walked off, he said to Jason, “Well, I was going to buy that shirt off of her so she’d take it off right here!”  Jason kept his head down, possibly to keep from laughing, but more likely from sheer embarrassment.  Then V in a V immediately went into a story, saying: “Well, back when I was in prison…”. Clearly, it was time to walk away.  Judging sheerly by looks alone, it was not surprising that he had once ‘worked for the State’, if you will, nor would it be surprising that he would one day return. Fortunately, I was busy trying on my python boots at the Boot Vendor in a Van, and didn’t hear that part of their conversation.

Well, that’s Canton in a bag for you!

Take five, they’re small…

“We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” – S. Parkes Cadman

The other night we came home just after dark, and drove up to the chicken coop to lock up the chickens.  I noticed that there were only 3 chickens in the coop, which was really unusual, since chickens always return to their roost at night. So, I went into the pen and they were all crammed into the corner closest to their little doorway into their coop.  The little door was closed, so they couldn’t get int0 their coop.  Chickens, not being the absolute brightest sometimes, will all huddle together in a big ball when they are scared or, as in our situation, they wanted to roost and had nowhere to go.  Unfortuately, in both situations, it is not uncommon for them to crush one another (think: people crushing one another in those soccer matches overseas.  I guess people aren’t too bright, either)  Well, after I dispersed the pile, I found Dot, my daughter’s absolute favorite Bantam hen lifeless on the ground.  I attempted a feeble try at chicken resuscitation, no mouth to mouth, mind you, but she was already gone.  I did not tell our daughter that the turkeys likely crushed little Dot for fear that she would hate the turkeys, so the next day she assumed (as she does with all the animals that are not seen again) that ‘the coyotes’ had nabbed Dot.  So, of course, Dot had to be replaced by another ‘banty’.

We went to Atwood’s and, lo and behold, all of the baby chicks are now on clearance.  My daughter immediately picked out the chick that I had my eye on, which was a tan and black spotted little number, with fully feathered legs.  But, the most eye-catching thing about his appearance was that his bottom beak was at a 45 degree angle to his top beak.  The chicks were already a couple of weeks old, so it was apparent to me after checking out “Stanley’s” body condition, that even though he was a disabled chicken, he was doing just fine.  Yes, a disabled chicken.  So, as we were looking at the other chicks, another family (and I use that term loosely here) came by with about 3 kids and another on the way, and the smallest girl, who looked about two, wanted to touch the tiniest Bantam, whereupon her mother’s boyfriend/new husband/whatever told her, “No, you don’t want the runt.”  First of all, it isn’t as though they were buying chicks, they were just looking.  Second of all, it isn’t like being a runt is contagious, and thirdly, they were Bantam chicks, anyway! (that means miniature chicken, essentially) 

Naturally, I picked up the “runt” and I bought it, too, to save it from being the target of some other redneck’s comments.   Then, I picked up a baby chick for the little girl, who I was pitying at that moment, having to deal with a mother that was running around with an angry-looking redneck boyfriend who took every chance he got to make snappy comments at her, and she pet the chick ever so gently. (That woman really needs to listen to Dr. Laura)  So, then I picked out 3 more chicks that I am almost certain are Frizzles, and we left. 

My husband came home singing a song (we are always singing dumb, made-up songs) with some lyrics about, “Well, we went to get two, and we came home with five…”.  Oh, well. 

In farm life, we worked on the brick path yesterday, despite being 90 degrees with 400% humidity.  The weather has been so wacky lately, I’m surprised we haven’t yet been slammed with a tornado yet.  Today is hot, tonight will be cooler, tomorrow will be hotter, but then the next day we’re having a major cold front.  Go figure.  Anyway, we have completed enough of the path that it is now coming around the front of the house and we have gotten rid of two pallets of bricks that have been sitting in my front yard for about a year.  Yippee!  When Jason moved the last pallet, he found a snake for me, so of course I had to go outside and pick it up!  It looked like a Rough Earth snake to me, but I am not 100% sure on that.  But what I am positive about is that it wasn’t poisonous.  I don’t ‘do’ poisonous snakes.