Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Coming back to Life

Most folks I know have been wondering what happened to me...wondering where I've been. Well, I have been " living the dream", a.k.a. Working my Ass off for months!

May 1st is the beginning of "our season" starting with tomato planting, catering picks up (this season was kicked off with a pig roast for 200!), then it is tending to the farm and going on catering site visits. By July we are picking some produce and the CSA produce box subscriptions begin for the next 12 weeks. 

We were very lucky this year to have more and bigger events than ever before! We did more than 10 pig roasts, weddings at wineries, weddings on hilltops, dinners for 6, dinner for 400!

People ask me, with a little awe and ...not sure what else, "how do you guys do it? How can you work so hard day after day"? I smile and say, "oh, we love it"!

We really DO love it, but hell! I am exhausted! I am pushing myself to get work done. Being this busy is a happy problem, please don't get me wrong. We are committed to the restaurant, to the catering division, to the farm, to our animals and most importantly, to one another.

While in the throws of event season I did do a couple wacky things, like the time when I reached into my purse at an event to pull out my cell phone...and instead pulled out the tv remote control. During this season I have lost my ear piece, lost my jam box, lost my favorite watch and haven't had time to look for it! Shoot, I need to stop writing and finish my taxes!!!

Our last wedding was the most complicated event I have ever coordinated (130 guests on a huge piece of private property and locations with 3 bars and running water in only one of the locations). It was a smashing success! The client was happy, the staff was great and I was overjoyed and relieved.

What I didn't expect as a result of all of my brain power being immersed in the wedding has been the inability for my brain to accept any new information! I believe I truly lost my mind! I never imagined this kind of outcome. I believe this is sometimes referred to as burn out. Hmmm...

We do have some very fun little getaways planned for November (thank God for house sitters!) and I have finally opened my Mother's treasure chest of beads! I can hear my friends saying NO...not another hobby!

Color and texture make me happy so I will play and design and dream...and repair my tired soul!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beloved New Mexico

Little things that remind us of New Mexico

When Farmer Jeff and I were trying to figure out where to go for our honeymoon (several years ago!) we just couldn't come up with one specific idea...until we asked each other, "what do you want to eat"? That did it! We both wanted to go to New Mexico for deep, rich, earthy foods.

I had been to the area a couple of times and could hardly wait to go back. Farmer Jeff had never even passed through the state. I knew it was dry, desert with mountains and quaking aspen, and simply beautiful.

I will jot down some of the places we ate and come back to fill this in. I know, I promised this blog so y'all could see where to eat in New Mexico!

Albuquerque: Run, don't walk, or even fly to ...Frontier Restaurant :
It is honestly one of my favorite restaurants on earth. Their cinnamon rolls are sinful, made even more decadent by the pat of butter added after they are heated. The pot of hot green chile that you can self serve over any of your food is sublime. Anything you get there will be good. Open 20 hours a day: 5am - 1am, I would guess that there is always someone there getting food ready. I often go there for breakfast and get the breakfast burrito (one egg, hash browns, cheddar cheese and green chile...and add sausage for $5.89!!! Get that puppy and ladle hot green chile over the top of it...I am making myself hungry!

Santa Fe:
Cafe Pasqual's - we go for breakfast. It seems a little pricey for any meal, but it is great food. I like to get the Huevos Motulenos- Eggs, sauteed banana, peas, roasted tomato/jalapeno salsa...heaven!
The Shed - this is where the locals go for their dinners. Known for their red chile sauce
Bobcat Bites- green chile cheeseburgers that can't be beat!

Bernalillo: The Range - this place has the most incredible stacked red-sauce enchiladas.

Where to stay: Can't really recommend any places in Albuquerque.
Santa Fe: Inn of the Governors...LOVE IT! Both times I have stayed in the rooms with the fireplace. Don't miss their tea with bizcochitos, little cookies with anise. YUM

Will post pics soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Visits to Tennessee for food and more food...

Music lovers know that Tennessee gave us Tennessee Ernie Ford, that Sun Records in Memphis first recorded Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, that Nashville is the home of the Grand Ol’ Opry and that Paul Simon sang about Elvis’s home, Graceland, located in Memphis, TN. 

(Where Elvis Stood at Sun Studios)

(The Grave site of Elvis Presley)

What people don’t know about is the GREAT food from Tennessee. Jeff and I have travelled several times to this great state and gone on self-guided food tours. In Belvedere we visited Fall’s Mill the producers of our grits. They use quarried granite millstones from 1900. Not only do we love their white grits but we also love their whole grain pancake mix! 

Memphis is known for ribs, and so far we have tried them at Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous and the Neely’s. We have also driven to B.S.Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Lexington, Tennessee, for Pitmaster Ricky Parker’s “whole hog barbeque”. Click on the link for Southern Foodways Alliance film maker Joe York's documentary on Ricky Parker.

(Ricky Parker's Hogs before being cooked)

Not to be missed is Casey Jones Village. We stopped by there and were treated to the best EVER cornbread/pancake fresh off the griddle along with “fried pies” that were warm and tender and flakey and GOOD! If you haven’t had enough to eat you can stop at the ice cream fountain for a custom sundae. I got vanilla ice cream, bananas, hot fudge, whipped cream and salted peanuts! YUM!

Memphis has Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken. They might fight for the title of “burn your mouth” spice…but they will lose. They will win “mighty fine fried chicken”.

After a long day on the Graceland Tour, we went in search of Fried Chicken and were guided to Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken.  I liked the “Sweet Spicy Love” more than the regular, but both were great! 
(That's ME with Uncle Lou!)

Memphis was a trading center for cotton and hardwood. It is now home to FedEx, AutoZone, and International Paper.  While Mempis is still an important city in Tennessee, Nashville is the crown jewel of the state with a very healthy economy.  

Healthcare is one of Nashville’s top industries. The city is known as the nation's health care center. Nashville is the largest publishing center in the Southeast and one of the top ten largest in the country. Of all of the products manufactured in the city, music is what makes Nashville most famous. The music industry in Nashville is responsible for a good chunk of the city's tourism activity.

When doing research on where to eat in Nashville, every single list will include “the Loveless CafĂ©’ just outside of town. They are famous for home-style cooking including their biscuits. A friend and her dad were traveling through town and after eating at Loveless took a dozen biscuits back to the hotel for late night snacks after visiting the downtown Honky Tonks. No names...but you know who you are! :)

Let’s not forget Prince’s Hot Fried Chicken in Nashville. Located in a non-descript strip mall several miles from downtown, this little storefront has people waiting in line from the time the doors open at 11 am until closing time. There aren’t many seats and the turnover isn’t fast because the chicken is cooked to order. They offer different heat levels. I started at mild although I love and can tolerate heat. Jeff ordered the medium. The mild was plenty hot for me and the medium was almost uncomfortable to eat. We watched  an un haired man wiping his sweating head about every 30 seconds as he ate the HOT chicken.  

Nashville also has the amazing Pancake Pantry. Located right across the street from Vanderbilt University, it’s a local’s place, but one in which everyone feels welcome!

The tradition of Family Style lives on at Monell’s in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville. We were taken there and sat at the large community table with 8 other people. Bowls and platters of food were brought to the table and we all ate as though we would never eat again! When getting ready for the "Taste the Place" Tennessee dinner I tried to talk Jeff into fixing the salad we had there. It was strawberries, Cool Whip and pretzels. It was oddly satisfying, but I couldn't persuade him! 

No tour of Nashville would be complete without a little side trip to Franklin, TN and to Meridee’s Breadbasket. Franklin is a darling town and the favorite residence of many of the Nashville music stars. 
Morning at Meridee's

I can't remember in what town we found this little place but the food was good and the folks were nice. Isn't that what counts? 

A glimpse of the dining room...

Jeff is wondering how in the world to get this home!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Our Hope Chest

This has been a bizarre week here on the farm.

First was the botched batch of eggs in the incubator. The second and much more serious incident was of our 12 year old Chocolate Lab, Callebaut, ingesting 27 pills prescribed to his "sister" India. India is epileptic and requires phenobarbital to keep her from having seizures. At first we guessed at how many pills he had eaten at 10. It wasn't until later that evening that I did the actual math and discovered how many and, therefore, how serious this was.

He ate the pills on Friday and as of today, he is still at the pet hospital.  For the first 20 hours he was not "arousable". By Saturday morning he progressed to opening his eyes when talked to. I have been to visit him each day. On the first visit could barely lift his head, but he did...and he tried his best to lick me.  He nuzzled me, licked my cheek and then stuffed his muzzle in my ear to give it a lick. I laid down with him, sang to him, napped with him, and have been able to hand feed him.

Yesterday he was much more alert and really wanting to greet me but ended up just throwing his block head back and whacking me in the face, so I maneuvered out of bonking zone. I was showered with licks and slobber and then the tail was wagging non-stop! It was very reassuring to see his progress.

Today he was actually up on his front "elbows" in the Sphinx position. Once I saw him he tried to get up to greet me but couldn't quite do it. I got to feed him again (voracious appetite) and he was able to easily drink water, too. A couple of times he tried to get up but just couldn't. Between losing muscle strength in already aged legs and still having the drugs in his system, it is just going to take some time. The nurses were going to work with him today to see if they could get him up on his feet and build up some endurance.  

We are hoping we can bring him home today, but this will be only if he can stand on his own and go to the bathroom without the assistance of a nurse. I love my baby boy...but I do draw the line!

  This weekend has been so rough and joy-robbing.. We need something that offers promise of life.

This is one of the reasons for starting a batch of eggs/chicks. I have dubbed our incubator,  "The Hope Chest" because we need to feel hopeful, to be filled with dreams of healthy baby chicks and the promise of  future egg-laying hens. After all of the angst of our dog's life threatening accident, we need a little hope.

With luck we will have chicks by Easter, and Callebaut home tonight!! Thanks to everyone for their kind wishes and prayers.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Starting Over

For a whole day, yesterday, I had warm and fuzzy feelings. We were incubating eggs and we would be hearing the heart melting "cheep cheep" that only chicks can speak. 

Last night we arrived home to discover our incubator heater had spiked and now the internal temp was 110 degrees. It is supposed to be 100 degrees and a variation more than .5 in either direction is as far from 100 as it can get. These eggs were toast. 

I am sad and almost didn't want to share this "bad news" but y'all are here for the reality of farm life. These things happen. 

ZinFarmerChefJeff and I came to the same conclusion as to the "why". It took over 9 hours for the eggs to come up to the temperature of 100, but the heater apparatus was "set" to heat, so once the eggs reached that 100 degrees, the very un-user-friendly, non fuzzy-logic low tech heating unit just kept cranking out the heat. 

Today's plan: load up the incubator with the eggs at the same time (around 11pm) and then tomorrow during the day, leave the office several times to come home and check on them. I am also going to see if I can find a better heating source as this one is so wonky that it is a miracle the damn thing even works!

I will continue to say I am sorry, thank you and farewell to the little eggs that were on their way to becoming chicks, but didn't.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Playing God in the Kitchen

We are so excited to be getting our equipment set up to start a batch of eggs in the incubator. We took a long break after our last incubation in 2010. That batch of eggs failed to develop and I have finally discovered why. The temperature gauge I had was incorrect and the eggs never had a chance.

Here are all of the eggs I can choose from. I am going for the ones in the bowl with the towel.  They are the cleanest and have the truest colors. I skipped the olive/khaki eggs in favor of the nice browns, whites and green/blues.

I have cleaned up the incubator and now it is all shiny again. The little eggs have a better chance of being healthy chickens. More details to come!