Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Great Southern Bread & Milk Migration

I just don't see it happening this time, OK?

It's happening again. For the second time this month the weather gurus are warning of an impending ice storm.  Last week it was Iago. Sounds scary, huh? Yeah. It sleeted for about 15 minutes, threw a little snow into the mix and went on its merry always. The fact is, it rarely snows (sleets, etc.) here in our part of the south. When you watch the weather radar on TV, it looks as if the storms are moving in a huge circle- with us there in the "eye" of the circle- skies perfectly clear.  It looks like a big cloud donut.  And there we are- right in the center. Always. That's what I've come to call it- The Donut.
We get snow here once about every 10 years.  The last snows of significance were year before last. It was beautiful!  We even had a white Christmas!  We had a couple big snows that year.  A kid's dream come true!  (Mine, too!)  Snow is a big deal here in The Donut.  No school, roads are closed-- everything shuts down.  It's a much-needed mini vacation right smack in the doom and gloom of winter.  So do we love snow in the south? Heck yeah!
But, now...the bread and milk thing...I have no idea what is up with that. At the first mention of snow or ice, the grocery stores are filled with chaos.  The bread and milk aisles look like mid Alabama after tornado season. Neighbors who normally watch the game together every Sunday suddenly break into fist fights over the last loaf of bread.
 WHY does everyone go mad for bread and milk?  What is so special about that? Why not nachos and Coca Cola?  Do snow and ice trigger some innate southern craving for bread and milk? Not for me. My friends agree. We just don't get the southern bread and milk obsession. I asked my mom once- "What's the big deal?" She said, "Well, if the power goes out you can eat sandwiches and cereal."  I don't eat cereal on an ordinary day. Why would I eat it because it snowed? No power? Grill a steak or a burger.  You need to use that meat anyway, right? No power = no freezer.  I have a gas stove.  I have a wood stove that can be used for cooking. SO....I don't think I will join the great southern bread and milk migration.  Y'all just leave me out of it.  You'll find me on the chips and dip aisle. Or maybe looking for charcoal.
So once again, the Great Weather Powers that Be are warning of impending doom. This time in the form of an ice storm.  First, it was supposed to start tonight around 3am. Now they are saying it will start around 9 am and last until 12 noon.  By 3:00 it should be over 40 degrees. Not exactly the blizzard of '93, if you ask me.  I'm not trying to spoil anyone's fun, but I'm not rushing to grab my sled.  Not yet, anyway. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this time something really will happen.  I'd love a day off as much as the next chick. Still, I'm setting my alarm before I go to bed tonight.  (Just in case.)
As for bread and milk, y'all go on to Kroger without me.  No, wait- on second thought I believe I will buy a gallon of milk. I'll make some hot cocoa...with a generous splash of Kahlua. That can be my southern tradition.  The rest of y'all enjoy your bologna sandwiches, y'hear?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy Day Cake (Recipe Included)

My daughter was having a rough day.  Nothing had gone her way.  I had promised her a carefree day of playing in the yard.  The weather has been so very terrible lately. Finally we are getting some sunshine and a day off from school.  However, unexpected family obligations have reared their ugly head, and we were off to run errands.  She still got to play outside, but not as much as she had hoped.  Still more obligations in the week ahead mean a very busy week for her. We were both disappointed.  As an adult, I can suck it up and go on, but not so with a child.  They take things to heart. (I really can't blame her.  It's been a rough weekend.)
Walking down the aisle at the grocery store (supermarkets only exist above the Mason-Dixon line), I had an epiphany. "Hey!"I said, "Wanna make a cake?"  Instantly she was happy!! We bought some candy decorations just to make it pretty.
So.. when we finally got home this afternoon, she played outside a while, then she was ready to bake!
We made a yummy chocolate cake which she decorated the way she wanted.  The end result was a very happy little girl.  Time spent on your children is never wasted.  Hopefully, she won't remember today as a day she was disappointed.  Hopefully she will remember it as a day she had fun baking a cake with mommy.

And, just in case your is the recipe for the ultimate chocolate cake:

1 box of your favorite Devil's Food Cake Mix
3 eggs
1 c. mayo (yes, mayo)
1 c. water
1/4 c. cocoa

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients and mix on lowest speed till blended, then 2 minutes on high speed.
The batter is very thick.
Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.
Bake 35 minutes, or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool before frosting (slightly warm is OK).

Frosting: (Warning- this is a country recipe- amounts are approximate. We cook by look and feel in the south. That's just the way it is.)
1 stick butter (not margarine, butter) softened.
2-3 T milk (add more as needed)
 START WITH- 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar (may need more)
1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
4-5 T cocoa
almond flavoring to taste (optional) start with 1/2 tsp and work your way up
and/ or
Irish Cream Liqueur to taste (optional)

Mix well, adding milk or sugar as needed. (mix, taste, mix again...) Apply to cool cake,  (Slightly warm is OK- nice and gooey!)

Tastes best when enjoyed with someone you love. <3

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January Garden Planning

I've said it before, and I'll say it again- the only thing that gets me through the winter is planning for spring. Gardening time is just around the corner!
 I've decided to go with raised beds this year.  My daughter and I will be doing the work, so I feel like going back to raised beds will be best for us.
Next, of course, comes the question of cost. My paycheck has been cut immensely from furlough days.  The new taxes will cut it even more. I got online and did a little investigating.  My old raised beds were made of wood. Eventually, the wood rotted, but I got several years out of them.  Raised beds can be made from almost anything you have on hand- wood, concrete blocks, etc.
 I decided to take a walk and see what I have on hand here at home.  I found a good bit of landscaping timber that can be re-purposed.  I know that some people have a problem with this, due to chemicals leaching into the soil.  I know it's a possibility, but, at least for this year, a couple of our beds will be made from landscaping timber.  I also found concrete flower bed edging that I can re-purpose.  I have 16 pieces encircling trees.  I'm going to  plant perennials around those trees for a more informal look and use the edging for gardening beds.  Lastly, I found two of these wooden pallet box-things.  I think one of these might be good for composting. Ya think?

  I also found another wooden pallet that could be useful as well.  This will give us something to work on in the coming months.
I got out my seeds and rummaged around. I don't think I have anything that I just have to order this year (thankfully).  I keep my seeds in this plastic container, with silica gel packs added to prevent moisture. Every time I come upon a new silica pack (new shoes, etc) I throw it in the box.  I know some people use the freezer, which is great if you have the space. Unfortunately, we don't.  My grandmother used Mason jars.  In today's hard times, you make the best of what you have.
Even though I don't have any pressing needs, I still enjoy browsing seed catalogs.  I always find something new that I've never tried before.  With my small budget this year I may not get to try much- but, hey it's fun to look!
I found this great book last year on Amazon. It's a combination guide and journal.  I can record what I did each week from year-to-year and look back for reference.
It's ugly and brown outside today (although unseasonably warm).  Rain and bad weather are approaching.  It's nice to know that, beneath winter's chill, spring lies waiting for us all.  We can snuggle up indoors and plan.. and dream.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Cold, Grey Day

I'm just not a winter person.  I can't stand cold, grey days like this.  I caught myself looking around outside and thinking, "Ugh". But then I thought, wait- nature is beautiful.  Every season has it's own beauty.  I decided to take a walk and take a few pics.  If nothing else, I needed the fresh air. It rains almost every day now, so we can't get out much.  Nothing like a short walk to change your attitude and give you a new perspective. Mother Nature is beautiful. She changes with every season.

 A view of Devil's Hollow

Another view from my side of the hollow 

 Rosie the pony sharing her sweet feed with a rooster.  They eat together every day.

My best buddies.  They love to walk in the woods. 

Black Giant hens 

White Leghorn Rooster