Monday, November 29, 2021

ROASTING AND PUTTING UP TURKEY

As in Thanksgivings past, we did two turkeys (so far anyway if I find some clearance birds maybe more, ha).

I found a "fresh not frozen" all natural turkey at our local grocery store.  This was about 13 pounds. 

Dry brining a turkey

Once again, we did our dry brining technique.  We dry the turkey once out of the package, rub it with duck fat and then rub our "farmhouse blend" seasoning (as we call it), all over outside and under the skin.

Then we put it in the fridge for a couple of days max.  The skin tightens up and the moisture is locked in.

Roasted turkey with duck fat

After it came to room temp, we rubbed it down again (with some butter this time) and then roasted it at 425 for an hour and a half.  It comes out beautifully done.

Putting up turkey meat

After it cooled down, it was my turn.  I pulled all the meat off and then measured it out into packed, two cup portions.  After each vacuum bag had the turkey in it, I weighed them all and picked out from some and added to others so they were all about the same.

Vacuum sealed turkey

We ended up with six bags (one off camera here), a little over 1 lb each, of mixed dark and white meat.  I vacuum sealed them all, labeled them, and put them in the freezer.  We'll use these to make turkey casseroles, turkey pot pies, turkey noodle soups, etc. throughout the year.  If we can find a sale on them and it's a good enough deal, we might do one or two more.

Hope you all ate some good food this weekend!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY LONG WEEKEND

It's been a hit and miss weekend with the weather.  Thanksgiving Day was wet all day (in fact Houston's parade was cancelled at the last minute).  Friday was nice but then Saturday was wet and now today, it was supposed to be nice but as this posts, it's gray and cold and sprinkling rain.  

We didn't do the big turkey dinner like we have in the past, we did the casserole dish and it was so good.  I didn't get pictures of that but it looked just like the chicken one we made a few weeks back, only with turkey meat, ha.  Recipe coming soon.

Homemade Pecan Pie

For dessert, 2nd Man made a pecan pie.  It was delicious.  We ate it Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Then it was gone, ha.

Hobart in the sunshine

What did Hobart do this long weekend?  Sleep wherever it was warm!  When it was sunny, he was in his favorite spot, on his afghan, on a dining room chair, at the window in the sunshine.

Hope you had a great weekend.  Four days off is amazing to refresh and relax.  Where do we vote to have a four day weekend once a month? 


Saturday, November 27, 2021

WEEKEND SO FAR AND COVID IN HOUSTON


Thanksgiving Day was not only a holiday but it was a heavy rain day.  Yesterday (Friday), we went to the farm for a bit to check things out (all was fine, albeit VERY wet and muddy).  Then, we came back into town and took 2nd Man's car in for an oil change and tire rotation.  Today and tomorrow I am staying in town.  In fact, it's raining today as this posts and so tomorrow, I just want to rest up before the long four day weekend is over and it's back to the reality of work.

Today's big "in town" project is to get our tree up and decorated!  Pics when it's all done.

We do have some good news, though tentative, for the Houston area...


...yesterday, they lowered the threat level for Harris County to "YELLOW".  Only one step up from the lowest.  YAY!  As opposed to some other places in Texas, Harris County, which is the entire Houston area, has a high vaccination rate and a lot of people are still wearing masks in crowded areas.  The numbers have been consistently decreasing across all the metrics (new cases, positivity, hospitalizations, deaths etc).


Of course, this is all tempered with the news that an Omicron variant is being investigated.  Time will tell on that and we'll see what the outcome is but so far, so good for our area.  2nd Man and I still wear our masks everywhere, even if others aren't.  We also stay away from crowded events and our boosters are due next month.  Everyone stay safe!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

THANKSGIVING DAY 2021

Thanksgiving Day is here...


Today here in Houston (and at the farm) it's a rainy and gray day, so that means it's a great day to stay inside.

2nd Man is working on a pecan pie as this posts, we roasted a turkey for the meat to use in his casserole and tomorrow, we're going to roast another turkey just to have the meat in the freezer for a couple more meals later in the year.  We're keeping it simple this year.

We're thankful for all of you that have come along with us for this crazy journey we're on.  We're glad to not be doing it alone, ha!

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

QUESTIONABLE FOOD FROM THE PAST

In year's past, around the holidays, we've posted some, um, "questionable" food ideas from long ago.

So just in time for Thanksgiving, in case you don't know what to cook tomorrow, LOL, here's one...


Tuna 'N Waffles!

Wait whaaaat?  Oh it's so easy according to the ad.  Just mix some Cream of Mushroom soup, milk, tuna and olives, heat it up and serve it over waffles.

Delicious!

We. Have. No. Words.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

HOW DOES OUR GARDEN GROW

Well!  (so far anyway, ha)

Garden update:

Raised bed collard greens

Collard greens are doing great and getting bigger by the week.  As we have done for a few years, we've tested various things to grow  see what does best.  We tried mustard greens, turnip greens and collard greens.  Collards were far and away the easiest growing and most prolific for our climate and weather conditions.

Raised bed garlic

Check out the garlic!

I actually counted the sprouts.

Of the 36 we planted, we have 34 that have come up through the straw.  The other two could be late stragglers but hey, even if they don't, that would be a 94.4% success rate and we'll take that!

We love garlic and should have a lot next Spring!

In case you missed it, check out yesterdays post for the big yard cleaning project.

Monday, November 22, 2021

ORCHARD AREA CLEANED UP

So this is our hidden horror, LOL.  The area behind the house where the fruit trees are.  Because we put up the deer fencing, I could no longer get the zen machine in there.  Well, I could reach the long swaths but not between each bed.  Then I put in the berry planting rings and that for sure stopped it.  I could use the weedeater to clean them but the weather this year was so crazy, it was never a good time we could do it.  Then I just decided, no one can see it, who cares, I'll just wait until cooler weather.

What I had to do first was take down the deer fencing.  Then I used the zen machine to mow the long swaths.  My plan was to borrow 2nd Family's lawnmower and that would allow me to make quick work of the area in between the beds and rings.  

Notice I said that was the plan.

They were glad to loan me their mower and I brought it up to the house and tried to start it.  And tried.  And tried again.  Fuel full.  Oil fine.  It was clean and still almost new (they bought it a few months ago).  I called them and said "is there a trick to starting this?"  She came up to see and said it ran the last time they used it...a few months ago.  We tried again.  I must have pulled that cord fifty times.  I have two blisters on my hand to prove it and my shoulder was burning like fire, ha.  We gave up.  I said no worries, that was just going to make it easier but I can go to Plan B and use the weedeater to "mow".

Here's an up close before and after:


This is in between one of the blueberry rings and the square box raised beds.  Yep, somewhere in that mess is the side of the square box.  I started by using the weedeater on the interior of the beds to clean them out and then I used it like a lawnmower in between...


This was after.  Done and nice and neat.  It took a few hours because it was just so much to do with only a weedeater.  But the end result was such a relief.

Here's a better view of the entire area:

This was slightly "after" the before.  I had taken down the fishing line for the deer fencing and I drove the zen machine back and forth through the long swaths.

But still...a mess.

This was about halfway through when I stopped for a lunch break.  I had made the first pass through the interior of the beds to clear the grass and weeds inside them and started going around the outside of the beds themselves.  Then I used the zen machine to clean up the paths and scattered grass and continued.

After another couple of hours, here is the end result:

YES!  Back to normal.  We are so relieved.  It's one of those projects that you know you need to do but you put off and then it just gets worse.  Of course, we remind ourselves that no one else sees it except us so why not wait until the weather is cooler.  Still, projects like this weigh heavily in the back of your mind until they are done.

The last thing to do was cover the inside of the beds with cardboard so they are worry free until Spring (forgot to get a pic of that). By next Spring the cardboard will have broken down and I can top off with fresh soil/compost to get ready for the new season.

And in the category of "serendipitous", how's this for weird?  I went downstairs to our recycle area and someone had put out a bunch of boxes after a move.  I got the valet cart and loaded it up.  I had no idea how many we needed, I just grabbed a stack until it seemed like enough and loaded up the car.  They were small, medium and large size.  I began cutting them to fit and  place around each of the trees, putting them down.  Some beds used more, some used less.

The last box was cut, the last bed completely covered...and...there were no more boxes.  Not one extra, not one less.  Somehow I had selected THE exact amount needed for the project.

One more thing done and less to worry about.  We'll need to figure out something for next year so they won't be overrun with grass, but that's a worry for then.

For now, we'll just enjoy pulling up to the house and seeing a neat and tidy backyard that matches the neat and tidy front yard.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY

Sunday is back.  Where does the time go.  Yesterday was beautiful weather and was able to get a huge chore done at the farm (update tomorrow).

Steak and pasta

Good food.  Steak and cheesy alfredo pasta with a nice glass of wine.  A perfect end to the day.

Oh but wait, that wasn't the exact end...

Black and White cookies

2nd Man is trying his hand at "black and white cookies".  They are large, cake like cookies coated in half white (vanilla) and half black (chocolate) that originated in NYC.  This was his first try and they were wonderful.

Hobart

Hobart looking up and giving us the eye.  We think it's feed me.  Or pet me.  Or fix my bed.  Or give me a snack.  Or refill my water.  Or all of the above.  You know how it goes when you are owned by a cat.  

Hope you are having a great weekend!


Friday, November 19, 2021

MUSCADINE PLANT BARGAINS

A few weeks ago, on the way to the farm, I stopped at a garden center here that had 75% off plants.  I always like to go this time of year and see if I can get some good deals for something for next season.  It's how we've gotten most of our fruiting plants and trees.  We can get flowering plants as well but the best deals are always on the edible plants and trees.

We wanted some citrus and I found a lot but they were sneaky.  They marked the price UP to $50 (!) and then didn't include them in the sale.

I was about to leave but found a section with some more plants and that's when I saw these:

Muscadine grapevines

Muscadine grape vines!

Regular blog readers may remember that we had one a few years back that we were taking care of.  It was on the porch but one season, when I was moving plants around, it got mixed up into an area with some weeds and dead plants that we were getting rid of and it was ignored and not watered and died.  Oops.

We won't let that happen again.  These were really nice vines in three gallon containers and the best part of all, they were only $5 each.  I bought two, so $10 for both!


One is the COWART variety...


And the other is the CARLOS variety...

Both are on the recommended variety list for our county as doing best in our weather.  They are pretty tough and can survive freezing weather (though last Winter's record freeze, not sure about that).  Now we just need to find the right place to put them.  For now, just as we did with the blueberries, we can keep them on the porch, water them and protect them if needed.

Muscadine grapes grow well in our climate and they can be used just like any other grape, jelly, preserves and even winemaking!  We could definitely have some fun with nice harvests of grapes in our future.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

ANOTHER BIRD FEEDING STATION IDEA INSPIRATION THURSDAY

A few weeks back, we posted about cardinals in the yard and wanting to eventually create a wild bird feeding area there.  We posted a couple of pictures of some we saw online and the other night we saw this...

Wild bird feeding station, image via Southernliving.com

Another one that is sort of a hybrid planter and bird feeding station.  We like the variety of  bird feeders they used, of course we know that's for all sorts of bird varieties since everyone like something different, ha.

It would certainly be easy to recreate something like this out there.  We bet the birds would be very happy.  

Be inspired!