beautiful rooms

I’m not talking about decorating ideas for your home, but rather enjoying the view from the room in which you find yourself.

Spent last week at the ranch cooking for the branding crew. I enjoyed my view from the kitchen, even though things got a little hectic.

Did you know the branding crew likes to ride out at daybreak? That means the cook’s alarm clock is set for 3:30. I’m talking in the A.M.

Being a compulsive extremely organized overachiever, I put a pork roast in the oven one night, so lunch the next day would be easy-peasy. The sweet daughter-in-law woke up at 3:30 to prepare breakfast. She was jolted awake to a house full of choking smoke. My roast had overflowed and smoked up the entire house. Yeah, that’s the kind of quality help I am. You can thank me later.

Did you know there’s a very valid reason no one makes fried chicken at home anymore? It’s complicated….hard….a lot of work….so of course I HAD to make homemade fried chicken and mashed potatoes for 25 cowpokes.

The night before the chicken feast, I filled two big aluminum pans with chicken pieces soaking in buttermilk and salt/spices.

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Job #1 the morning of the BIG LUNCH. Peel 10 lbs of potatoes.

potatoes Check.

Retrieve the buttermilk-y chicken and coat with flour and spices. Tell yourself you’ll have time to wash your buttermilk-soaked Levis later.

chickendippedPour a boatload of peanut oil into two deep skillets on top of the stove.

chickenfryingDon your hip boots so you can safely wade through the grease on the kitchen floor.

Mash the potatoes. Assemble a salad. Make beer bread. This was a big hit with the diners.

beerbreadTry to keep your energy up as you continue into your second hour of frying chicken.

kathytiredI forgot to take a photo of the huge pan brimming over with fried chicken, but here’s a photo of the aftermath.

chickenandpotatoesHappy cowboys and a gratified cook. The smiles and conversations really enhanced the time I spent in this room. Hope my chicken reflected the fondness I feel for each of them.

Sometimes, I left the kitchen and enjoyed other rooms.

The view from the pens.

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Cherished this view. He’s my favorite cowhand.

Dragging the calf to the branding crew on the ground. They have the HARD work.

downloadI enjoyed my view from the back of the forgiving ranch horse, Pogo. This room is one of my all-time favorites. Being horseback is medicine for the soul, I tell you.

photo(1)Events of the week had me recalling this verse of Scripture:

John 14:2-4
English Standard Version (ESV)
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.

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Hope you are savoring the view from your room this weekend.

Original-recipe love to all.

 

tasty labeling

Yesterday, as I was visiting our local Tea2Go, I glanced at the TV and witnessed an infomercial. It had me scratching my head and tittering the remainder of the day.

What was the infomercial, you ask?

moredumpcakes
Master dump-chef Cathy. Photos courtesy of BuyDumpCakes.com

I don’t know about you, but you can include me in a subset of people who don’t care to sample any recipe with the term ‘dump’ in the title.

Did you know that after you hungrily consume your dump entree, you can then devour a lip-smakin’ dump cake? God bless America. Life, liberty and the pursuit of dump-cooking.

dump-cakes
BuyDumpCakes.com

Is chef Cathy implying easy with her term dump? My heart longs for the bygone era when we were admonished to ‘just say no’. Now we are told to ‘just dump’? Oh….if only it were that easy, Chef Cathy!

What recipes might be included in these dump cookbooks? Easy-Peasy Junk Jello? Rubbish Ragout? Sensational Cesspool Salad? Refuse Rainbow Trout? Kitchen Sink Cacciatore? Send me your clever suggestions! I want to hear your humorous jewels, people. No crap-sandwiches, please!

Perhaps Catch-all Casseroles is a more appetizing title?  I’m breathless with anticipation waiting for the Dump Dips book to be released!

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Go forth and dump. BuyDumpCakes.com

I admit it. My mind is overactive and goes places it shouldn’t.

I can’t stop thinking of the ingredient list for Defecation Dumplings.

Joy-of-cooking love to all.

molcajete

Want proof the ranch petroglyphs are worm-holing my brain?

All you need is one word:  molcajete (moh-cah-HAY-teh). For you Anglos that’s mortar and pestle.

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Doxy assured me the molcajete was used by the Aztecs.

A precious Latina friend gifted me this rustic molcajete. She instructed me in the ancient art of making salsa. She puts her salsa on everything:  eggs, meat, fish, tortillas….anything!

She told me to purchase a couple of jalapenos, 6 or 7 tomatillos, and a roma tomato.

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I upped the quantities of everything but the jalapenos. Didn’t want my salsa to be scorching hot

Seed the peppers, shell the tomatillos, and slice the roma tomatoes. Place veggies on a cookie sheet under a hot broiler.

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She said don’t be afraid to give them a good char. The charring adds a smoky flavor.

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The well-charred ingredients.

Then, small portions at a time, add the ingredients to the molcajete and start grinding.

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This took some time. I was dying for the blender or food-processor….but I persevered.

The molcajete gets seasoned by repeated uses; like a cast-iron skillet. It’s said it gives a richness of flavor a blender simply can’t impart.

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Beginning to look like salsa.

This is how mine looked. I adore the acid-flavor of tomatillos….but you can alter the ingredients any way you like to suit your taste.

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Notice the bits of black? That’s from the burnt skin of the peppers and tomatoes.

The taste test? Pure fabulous-ness. The Texan gave it his stamp of approval. Lots of great fresh flavors going on in this concoction.

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I’ll put this on my eggs in the morning.

I’m becoming one with the ancient peoples who once inhabited the Southwest. Can the addition of an horno be far behind?

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Horno in Taos, New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Flavorful love to all.

C’mon Spring.

monday fire up

The West Texas weekend was………fun and very west texas-y.  Had the Sprouts and some friends over on Sunday.  We had a big shootfest, or as I fondly say-a gunapalooza-out in the boonies (not far from our house).

Be very afraid, green bucket. 
Mama’s got a rifle.
Our friend is a police officer and it was a fine opportunity to shoot with someone who is extremely knowledgeable in all things rifle and handgun.  I enjoy target practice.  Sounds crazy, but I find target shooting kind of relaxing.  I’m grateful to B…the officer…for fielding all my questions and helping me with safety issues.  I am grateful for heroes like B who work to make our community safe.  Do I hear a BOO-YAH?!

Out here, in the land of no trees, the sky is the THING.  It’s what we look at.  There is nothing else.  Mother Nature did not disappoint.

Once it got too dim to shoot safely, our eyes turned to the sky for the big show.  God’s majesty was on full display and we stared in slack-jawed awe.

Back to our house for a dinner of undercooked meatloaf and kinda crunchy undone scalloped potatoes.  Thank God for microwaves!  Drink enough red wine and everything tastes gourmet.

(Segue)
And NOW (ta-da!!)…for a TOTALLY RANDOM COOKING TIP!! 
I don’t write about cooking too much on this blog.  Love to cook, but there are others who are excellent at cooking and writing about it.  My friend…I’ll call her little V, taught me a tasty lesson I want to share with you.  Whilst little V was making coffee-flavored brownies this summer, she reached for the chunky sea salt to add to the recipe. 

“Little V….WHY are you adding chunky sea salt?  Are you crazy?  The salt won’t be dispersed throughout the brownie….what are you thinking?”   (Sadly, I talk  like this to little V sometimes)
My bitchy, controlling food-Nazi kitchen habits are hard to break and little V is a saint.  She replied,
“That’s the point.  You taste this patch of saltiness in the middle of the chocolate flavor.  It’s delicious!” 
Sounded stupid to me, but I did something I rarely do….shut up.  After dinner, we enjoyed what had to be the most astounding dessert of the summer, oh hell….the entire YEAR.  Warm, oozy coffee-flavored brownies with ice cream.  They were astounding, cuz your taste bud would happen upon these unexpected zones of  heavenly saltiness.  We talked of this dessert for WEEKS!  Little V is a genius.  Thank you my friend!!
Why am I sharing this NOW, you inquire??  Cuz I did this same thing with regular ol’ chocolate chip cookies yesterday as a dessert to my hugely undercooked meal.  I used chunky sea salt in the recipe instead of regular table salt.  I can’t tell you what a fantastic difference this made in the cookies.  You must, must try this in your next brownie or cookie recipe.  Be bold.  Roll the cooking dice.  The holidays are approaching.  If you do this, let me know if you can taste a difference.  I could…..and I’m never turning back!
Hope you hit the mark today.  Big sky love to all.