Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Three Little Pigs

About a month ago, it was in the news that there was a bacon shortage over in Europe and that it COULD happen here.  We'd been talking for awhile about getting another "hog" for bacon purposes but this little tidbit of news gave GI Joe renewed purpose and drive in going through with it. 
So a short Craig's List search later, I had us a date with a pig farmer about 30 minutes from us.  We decided rather than risk not having bacon that we'd get at least 2, maybe 3 pigs from him since the price was right and again, BACON. 
I'm sure you're thinking, but Prairie Princess, I thought you didn't eat what you pet?  That is true and Hormel was our first foray into the world of being "real farmers".  And I gotta tell you that, when we gave Hormel to that one farmer who met GI joe and the kids at the meat locker that one day so he could take Homel home and paint her hooves pink and walk her around town on a leash and in exchange he gave us a mean ol' ugly pig that nobody loved that we butchered and got a freezer full of delicious bacon, sausage, ham, and pork chops out of*, I changed my tune a little.  *This may or may not be what happened, but it's how the story goes in MY head.  It was nice knowing we were eating something straight from the farm w/ no crazy additives or hormones or anything in it.  ANd it was also nice being kind of self reliant, we're basically pioneer people!  So I was down for being a pig farmer again. 
GI Joe and I made the trek to the pig farmer's place on a cold, rainy night.  The farmer took us to the building where the piglets were and I died.  Piglets are pretty much adorable.  Sure they stink but we all have our crosses to bear.  He told us to pick the ones we wanted and while I knew we should be picking the biggest ones, I immediately fell in love with the runt of the litter.  So I picked her up and held her like a baby.   The farmer looked at me in disbelief because apparently most of his clientele doesn't come into his barn and cuddle with the piglets.  Weird.  Usually when you pick up a piglet they squeal at ear piercing levels but when I picked up the piglet she just settled right into my arms and didn't make a sound.  The farmer looked at me, shaking his head and said, " It's not even squealing!"  Add pig whisperer to my resume.  GI Joe wasn't in the barn at this time as he was backing the truck up for ease of loading.  When he came back in he found me cuddling a piglet and the farmer staring at me with his mouth agape.  It was time to make my move.
Bats eyelashes, gives him my sweetest smile, "GI Joe, look at this piglet.  She's SOOOOO CUUUUUUTE and little and look  she's not even squealing while I'm holding her, I think it's destiny she's meant to go home with me!  What if we get her and keep her to have babies next spring?!?  Isn't that a great idea?!?  Please, pretty please?"
And to my utter disbelief he said, "OK"
Whoa, what?  I hadn't even gone through my complete list of reasons why  I needed to take her home.  That was way too easy.  But I'll take it.  The farmer just chuckled and shook his head.  And that's how I got a new pet pig.  Just your every day swine story...girl meets pig, girl falls in love with pig, pig doesn't squeal, boy tells girl she can have pig, girl loves boy AND pig.  And they all live happily ever after eating bacon. 
"Pick out the other 2 that you want...FOR EATING." 
So I picked out the 2 biggest, not nice, pigs I could and off we went. 
The whole way home I was trying to figure out the perfect name for my new pet.  It had to be something glamorous, something catchy, something girly, something sparkly.  This was a big deal and since she was going to be our bacon mama and part of the zoo for a LONG time I had to love the name. 
At first I was leaning towards Glitzy, inspired by the classic American television show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" because that show cracks me up and because she kinda looks like Glitzy, Honey Boo Boo's pig. 
When we got home and I carried her around the barnyard introducing her to the kids and the other animals, Glitzy was just not well received so I went back to the drawing board. 
And that's how I decided on........drum roll please.....Christina HOGuilera
She's quite the looker no?  I just need to get her some ultra glittery eyeshadow, a spray tan, and some cleavage baring tops and she'll be the real deal.

But that's not all.  I couldn't give her a name like Christina Hoguilera and leave the rest with ordinary names like Porker or Petunia so after an exhaustive search of the internets and some digging deep into my past and a review of my favorites as of this moment, I came up with appropriate names for the other 2, a boy and a girl. 

Introducing Snoop HOGgy Hogg and Miranda HAMbert.

  • Yeah, I went there.  I'm not sorry.  The bad part is that I love these names so much but within a year they'll be in the freezer at a new farmer's house in exchange for 2 mean, ugly hogs with boring names that he'll give us to butcher.  Again, just work with me on this story, it helps me sleep at night.  Do you see what a diva Christina Hoguilera is being in this picture? I couldn't have picked a better name.  Work it girl!
I'm doing really well at not getting attached to Snoop Hoggy Hogg and Miranda Hambert because they are skittish and run away from me when I try to pet them. 

But Christina Hoguilera and I?  We have a special bond that will withstand the test of time.  OK fine, she runs from me too but when I pick her up she only squeals for a little bit before she calms down and lets me hold her and carry her around embarrassing her in front of the other barnyard animals.  I mean, what kind of respectable hog is carried around and coddled like a baby?  What the others must think.  They're just jealous I'm sure. 
My nephew Jonah however, is still not sold on the whole pig thing.  And look at this picture, Christina is clearly annoyed that she is having to share my affections with him. 

I seriously just sat here for 5 minutes trying to think of pig puns (who does THAT?!?)  but I think it's best if I just let that go and leave you with this instead. 
And this little piggy went to the market, oh and so did this one, but this one sang "Genie In A Bottle" all the way home!"

I really should've stopped while I was ahead.  :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Food Friday

Happy Friday!

I was going to post a recipe for MeatBALLS just to keep with the recent blog theme  but then I made a recipe from Pinterest the other night that made me forget all about BALLS.  And trust me when I say that is a good thing all around. 

The thing with recipes (crafts, DIY, pretty much everything) found on Pinterest is that sometimes they don’t always turn out like the original poster promises.  For example, “BEST (WHATEVER) EVER!” rarely is the BEST EVER.  It may be good, yes but best ever?  Ehhh…debatable or if you have exceptionally low standards in life.  Oh and then there was the pepper jack soup I made from Pinterest the other night that was a complete and total disaster.  Best ever NOTHING.  If you could get past the unfortunate puke like appearance of it, the flavor was not too bad, but then when it was discovered that the chunks of pepper jack cheese had not melted but had spongified and become very tofu like in texture and flavor, that was it, pour the bowls down the garbage disposal.    Popcorn for dinner it is!  Sidenote:  Upon further review it was my error in not fully reading the instructions that said to SHRED the pepper jack cheese before adding it to the crockpot, for some reason I thought it said cut into chunks.  Duh.  I am a dork. 

So after that traumatic dinner experience, I was slightly hesitant to try another Pinterest recipe but I’m so glad I had the courage to press onward in my Pinterest related cooking goals.  Does anyone else obsess over trying every single recipe they’ve pinned?  No?  I’m crazy?  Fine. 

Here’s the link to the original recipe I stole off of my friend Heather’s (heeeey Heather!) board…so that Chef John the inventor of the recipe can be dually credited for this glorious invention.

But I’ll take it from there because his recipe presentation?  Stinks.  I don’t want to have to watch a video, no matter how simple and informative it is, to get the recipe instructions, just put it all on a handy dandy printable thankyouverymuch.

So my gift to you, minus the printable because this blog is not THAT fancy……..

The BEST Chicken Parmesan EVER (No really, it is!)
by Chef John (whoever that is)
2 T. olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves crushed or minced
Hot red pepper flakes to taste, don’t be a wimp add in a good sprinkle it really “takes it up a notch”
5-6 boneless chicken breasts
2 cups marinara sauce (Use good stuff NOT a can of Hunts spaghetti sauce.  I used a jar of Creamy Vodka sauce, can’t remember the brand but oh MY was it perfect in this.  Also any excuse I can get to sneak vodka in and still be Baptist approved?  YES.)
¼ c. chopped fresh basil or be like me and just use a healthy dose of dried Italian seasoning and/or basil instead
8 oz shredded mozzarella
4 oz Parmesan (not the green can stuff, the REAL stuff)
1 (5 oz) package of garlic croutons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the olive oil in the bottom of your 9x13 baking dish, swirl it around so it pretty much covers the bottom.  Add in the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, swirl some more so they are spread around as well.  Put your chicken breasts in.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning or fresh basil whichever you prefer and have available.  Pour sauce over the chicken.  Add a little more Italian seasoning, because there’s no such thing as too much Italian (Hello Goodfellas!!! That was for you AWH).  Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan on top of the sauce.  Add the entire bag of croutons making sure that they’re spread out to cover the entire pan.  Sprinkle on the rest of your cheeses.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until chicken is done.  The original recipe calls for 30 minutes but mine had to cook for more like 45 minutes.  And that’s it!

GI Joe who has recently declared along with our children, that we eat too much chicken, groaned a bit when I told him we were having Chicken Parmesan for dinner but then after a few bites he said it was VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY GOOD even if it was chicken.  That is basically the highest compliment he can give to a non pork or beef meat that is not wrapped in bacon so I’ll take it. 

Please  keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I try to meet the “No Chicken Challenge” my family has issued me for the upcoming week.  I’ll miss you my delectable, lean, multipurpose meat.  But not to worry we’ll meet again next week with the 7 chicken recipes I have waiting in the wings.  I’ll show you FAMILY. 

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Post That Shall Remain Unnamed.....Read On You'll Understand

Growing up in a house full of girls, all sisters no brothers, left me ill prepared for being the mother to two boys (and one girl who is a total tomboy).   I see the signs of it every day whether it be from the pile of clothes left AT THE FRONT DOOR from stripping immediately upon entering or the constant battle of the bowl in the bathroom or the spontaneous and intense wrestling matches that occur on the living room floor.  All reminders that I am in uncharted waters here.  I remember when GI Joe and I first got married, he looked at me and said in all seriousness and he was totally not saying it as a “line”, “Do you wanna wrestle?”  You can imagine my reply as I looked at him as if he’d grown a 3rd eye.  But to him this was a completely legitimate request as it was a normal occurrence in his house growing up with a brother, no sisters.  I told him I am a girl, I do not wrestle and if he’d like to wrestle he should call his brother or a friend or wait until we have a son or two.  You can imagine his elation when Blade was born and then Ryder, and they were old enough to wrestle, so you know, about 6 months. ;)  But let’s be honest, even though I tried to shelter her from it, Dakota’s gotten in on a few of those matches too because she is not your typical girl and is one tough cookie.  Her daddy is so proud.  

So, boys.  Boys are a different kind of species.  Never was this ever more evident then when I took all 3 kids to the doctor last week for their physicals.  I thought I was being super smart and efficient by scheduling all 3 at the same time.  I didn’t really think through the logistics of it since they are all 3 getting to that age where it would be weird to have them all 3 in the same room getting their physicals at the same time.  But our dr’s office is kind of smart so they put Dakota in one room and put the boys together in a room directly across the hall.  I split my time between the two rooms, which left me wondering at what age are moms not supposed to go in the exam room with their kid?  13?  15?  21?  J  The nurse gave all 3 of them gowns and told them to change into them before the doctor got in to see them.  I ran across the hall to Dakota’s room and she asked me to tie all the strings in the back so that it wasn’t gapping open, because she’s modest (and NORMAL) like that.  Then I went across the hall to check on the boys and see if they needed any help. It was like I had stepped into their college dorm room in 2021 on a Friday night.  Both boys were in their underwear, one sitting on the exam table, one sitting on the floor playing Legos, completely relaxed, with their clothes strewn all over the room.  The gowns the nurse had given them still folded nicely on the exam table.  I asked them if they needed help putting the gowns on and their response was, “We’re not putting on those dumb dresses, why can’t we just be in our underwear?”    I had nothing, no response, I’m done.  THEN Ryder had to go to the bathroom which was down the hall and around the corner.  He was halfway out the door before I stopped him and insisted that he put on a gown if he was going to go out in the hallway WHERE OTHER PEOPLE THAT WE DIDN’T KNOW COULD SEE HIM.  Seriously.  I….just….I…I…give up.

The doctor came in where he was greeted by a jello shot and a Playboy 2 mostly nekkid boys.  Now our doctor has been their pediatrician since they were born.  He’s in his 60’s and is this softspoken, little, scholarly guy.  Great guy, we love him and I love that when we see him at the grocery store he doesn’t run and hide says hi and calls us by name.  That’s impressive.  ANYWAY, he must know us pretty well by now because he was unfazed.  He went through the physicals, checked them out, chatted with us for a bit, and then said to the boys, specifically Blade, “Listen up, I’m going to tell you what may start happening to you within the next few years.”  In other words, the high level puberty talk.  I cringed because, well, have you met Blade and Ryder?  You just never know what may come out of their mouths.  The doctor started telling them about things that may start happening to them such as getting a little acne on their faces, getting more interested in girls, under arm hair growth,  the body odor, you know, the usual boy talk. 

And then he said the words that made my 2 boys sit up and pay attention.  The words that made their eyes widen in wonder.  The words that made them look forward to the next 5 years of their lives with great anticipation.

He said…

“And your BALLS will start to get bigger.”

This is when I fell off my chair and tried to hide in the cupboard under the sink. 

Because I saw Blade’s eyes widen, the smile dancing on his lips.  I was afraid, so so afraid.

The dr. went on, “It’ll be gradual so you may not notice it but throughout puberty your balls will be growing and getting bigger.”

When I was growing up,  we didn’t even say the words “fart” or “butt” in our house and those words still make me highly uncomfortable, such crass words after all.  But now I have our lil’ old nerdy doctor saying balls, in reference to a body part…..repeatedly.  Not testicles, not some fancy medical term, nope, he said balls.   Not only that he told them that they’d get BIGGER.

That’s it, I’m dead. 

Much to my surprise, my boys were stunned into silence and withheld all comments until the doctor left the room.  But as soon as the dr. left the room, the giggles and the “Did you hear that MY BALLS are going to get bigger?!?” began.  I told them to get dressed (for the love of all that is holy) and went across the hall to check on Dakota and escape the ball talk. 

The boys got dressed and came over to Dakota’s room who was also done but still waiting on her shots.  And the first words out of Blade’s mouth were, “Dakota, guess what?  My BALLS are going to get bigger!!!”   As you might suspect, Dakota was overjoyed to hear this news….not.  Sadly, having grown up with 2 brothers, not much shocks her anymore.  She just shook her head and told him she didn’t want to hear about it.  And then looked at me as if to say, “Really, you had to go and have them.  Why couldn’t I be an only child?”

We checked out and got into the car,  with the boys talking about, well, BALLS, the whole way home.  And Dakota interjecting every so often to tell them to stop because they were being inappropriate.  But that only fueled their fire.  When we finally got home, we walked in the house and before I could warn him, GI Joe asked, “So how did the doctor’s appointments go?”  We all started giggling, I’m sorry I couldn’t help it because I knew he had just asked a loaded question.
Blade was quick to answer him,   “Daddy, did you know MY BALLS are gonna get bigger?!?”

Cue Ryder actually rolling on the floor laughing. 

Cue Dakota RUNNING to her room.

Cue GI Joe shaking his head, looking at me as if I had some explaining to do.  Hello, didn’t you go through puberty?  You should know more about this boy stuff than I do!  Geesh.  Once I explained he just smiled and laughed at the boys who were reveling in this newfound fact. 

All I know is that when my measuring tape goes missing, the boys’ room is going to be the FIRST place I look. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cowgirl Up

Adding to the list of things I never thought I’d hear/have to worry about, was the text I got from a neighbor a couple Fridays that read, “I think your donkeys and horse is out.”

I can tell you with great certainty that when I was a girl growing dreaming of my future, it never once crossed my mind that this would be something that would concern me or ever enter into my realm of thinking.  I would’ve told you you were straight up crazy if you’d told me this would be something I’d hear in my future life as a country farm girl and then I would’ve drown you out by turning up the bass on my Snoop Dogg tape.

Nowadays?  It’s still crazy but it’s also  MAJOR.  Snoop Dogg should write a song about it.

Livestock on the road is never a good thing. Livestock on the road is really not a good thing when the livestock owners are not home.  Livestock on the road is really, REALLY not a good thing when GI Joe is an hour and a half away. 

Nothing like having to tell your boss you have to take your lunch early so you can go home and COWGIRL UP to get your donkeys and horses put away.   I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Off I went.  My neighbor text me again and said that Farmer Mike (the one I steal corn stalks from in the fall) had gotten them into his pasture but he wasn’t sure where they were getting out at.  I was worried that a) they wouldn’t stay in his pasture and would somehow get out again and b) what if HOLY COW had gotten out too and had wondered off never to be seen again?  Oh, I couldn’t stand the thought.  But actually knowing Holy, he’d be sitting on the front porch chewing on flowers, waiting for us to get home instead of lost in the wilderness.  Nonetheless, I was worried.

I booked it home, slightly exceeding the speed limit.   But I was fully prepared that if I got pulled over I would nicely explain to the officer, “Officer, I have to hurry, I have an emergency! MY HORSES AND DONKEYS ARE OUT AND ON THE ROAD!”  I’m sure I would’ve been excused without a ticket, right?

As it turned out, I needn’t worry as I made it home without incident.  I drove down the road to the spot of the last sighting of our livestock and didn’t see them.  I was sure they had escaped again and were probably in Omaha by now or that they had wondered further down the road, someone had hit them, totaled their car, would sue us, we’d lose everything and wind up living in a van down by the river my Princess Mobile down by the pond.  Sometimes I’m kind of a pessimist with an overactive imagination…just sometimes.  I checked the main gates and they were all closed which meant that the ONLY other gate, the one clear back in the pasture that separates our pasture from Farmer Mike’s, had to be opened.   So I got back in my Princess Mobile and drove as close as I could to it, which is really not that close considering there’s a creek and steep hill to cross before you can get to the gate that is impassable by PMobile (and sometimes 4wheelers as I’ve a friend  has found out the hard way.)  I checked the small outbuilding in the area and found two of our horses, Jasmine and Beauty, and the mini horse, Pegasus, but there was no sign of horse #3 (Joe) or the 2 (stupid) donkeys (Kanye and Beyonce, obviously).  I parked the truck and hiked up the hill across the creek to the gate and lo and behold, it was open.  Then I saw 3 white spots in the horizon on Farmer Mike’s pasture, Joe and the stupid donkeys.  I was trying to figure out my plan of attack, would I need to go get some grain in a bucket and try to lure them that way? Or should I go out to them and get behind them and drive them back thru the gate and on to our pasture?  Would I get out my lasso and lasso them in?  Uhh, n to the Negative to that last one as someone, likely me, would get hurt with me swinging a lasso around.  Also, we all know my aim .  I decided to just yell out for Joe, the horse, because I thought maybe he’d tell me what to do or at least acknowledge my presence.  You guys, I’m totally not saying this to brag but I’m basically the horse whisperer.  Because as soon as I yelled “Joe” in my special, animals only tone not quite baby talk but syrupy sweet, he came RUNNING across the pasture to me.  Oh wow, ok 1 out of 3, that’s a good start.  But the donkeys concerned me because they are not exactly social (except with each other, incest is NOT best but they think it is).  They’re basically dead to me because they don’t ever let me pet them and you know the rules of the Koons Zoo, it’s all about the petting (tee hee).  Anyway,  I stood there trying to figure out this pickle I was in, wishing I’d just been able to go to Ulta on my lunch as planned instead of this mess, when all of the sudden the donkeys looked up, saw that Joe had come back onto our side of the pasture, and came sprinting through the gate.  Wait, what just happened?  Did I just corral 1 horse and 2 donkeys back into the pasture?  Why YES I DID.  Then like the true farmgirl that I had just proven to be, I fixed the gate, got it all secured so we would not have a repeat performance of this escape, and hiked back down to my PMobile.  FIVE MINUTES FLAT, people, and I didn’t even break a sweat.  I’m kind of a BIG COWGIRL DEAL.  I felt invincible and tough after that.  Something about handling that situation like a boss,  while wearing my “I can do anything, don’t mess with me” cowgirl boots made me want to go ride a bull or chop down a tree or break something.  I  was feeling COUNTRY STRONG.  Were you aware that just simply by wearing cowgirl boots your entire outlook and attitude changes?  Truth.  Try it, they’ll put some swagger in your step and some mojo in your mind. 

I really only wore boots to work today because they looked cute with my outfit, NOT because I thought I’d be doing cowgirl stuff.   But then I corralled 2 donkeys and a horse back into the pasture, fixed a gate, and STILL had time to get a burrito from the drive thru, on my lunch hour.   I guess that’s just the cowgirl in me.