Category Archives: Homestead and Garden

My Little Victory Garden: Dance of the Misty Canning Faery Sprites

This afternoon I was canning.  Nothing out of the ordinary was going on.  A rote, repetitive “chop, chop, peel, peel, stuff, stuff, garlic…salt and lid” process was taking place at my kitchen island. Over and over, nine half-pints full.

I was on auto-pilot.

But as I started the hot water bath, the natural science of heat transfer, water evaporation, and magic woke my numb mind up.  I had forgotten about the Misty Canning Faery Sprites.  But there they were; steam flickers dancing across every gleaming tin lid of every clattering jar.

They didn’t stay for long. Quickly appearing in a different form every time, they would flirt with me then disappear as fast as they came.  I had forgotten about them and was dull, but the faeries reminded me of the kitchen magic waiting to be rediscovered every time I cook.

So now I’m sharing them with you…tiny moments of the faery dance I saw on top of the lids of my canned peppers this afternoon.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I.

My “awakening” was unexpected, and crinkled the corners of my eyes…curled up my mouth and lifted my spirits.

Take care friends, Kelly

My Little Victory Garden: Morning to Midday to Afternoon and…All the Time

In the coolness of the morning…

I put seven pounds of carrots through the food processor in order to turn them into carrot cake for the 4th of July, and carrot hummus for a healthy evening snack to enjoy with homegrown cucumbers.

To make carrot hummus, simply puree well in a blender or food processor: 1 c shredded carrots; 1/4 c. tahini; 1 can drained chickpeas; 2 quartered garlic cloves; 3 T rough chopped parsley; 1-2 T. olive oil; salt to taste; 1 T. lemon juice. To arrange like photo, simply peel cucumbers, scoop out seed-pulp, and fill seed space with hummus. Best served chilled.

Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: Morning to Midday to Afternoon and…All the Time

My Little Victory Garden: Predicting the Need for a Smudging Ceremony

Nature is heralding the summer heat in Oklahoma with fortissimo intensity.  At night, the tree frogs talk to the world with their throats wide open and their volume buttons cranked full to the right. During the day the locusts (you say cicadas, I say locusts?) track the heat waves by vibrating their deafening buzz into rhythmic rolls. In my hot, damp garden soil millions of microbial bugs and extra-small spiders or beetles are working overtime, fueled by perfect conditions to break down a rotten tomato here, or a forgotten carrot there.

My senses are keenly aware of this exorbitant activity of Life as I work beneath the large rhubarb leaves to eradicate weeds, or pull back a curtain of tangled yellow cherry tomato vines to discover the last of the onions.

The Summer is alive, pulsating, pushing and stretching all the plant life in My Little Victory Garden; my efforts to match the production yet keep order sometimes continue until the last ray of sunlight says, “Stop.  We’ll start again tomorrow.”  I’m glad the Light knows my limits because when I stand up and stretch my tired back, or rest my shaking legs – taxed from assuming a squatting position for too long while checking every pepper plant, I’m surprised that Dusk is already here.

The locusts fade, the frogs take over, and the tiny microbials may still be scurrying but I can no longer see them.  There is no denying that the Earth is using all her energy to feed the Cycle of Life right now.  But I know a secret…

I know that sometime when the days are shorter, the frogs will eventually change their song for slumber. The locusts will have laid their eggs, moved on or died, and given their bodies back to the earth.  And I’ll be spending more time inside the house as the weather changes to a cooler flavor.  And THAT, my friends, is when I’ll need a smudging ceremony. My living area will need to be cleansed of the lurking spirits of Worry about my dissertation, the lingering shadows of summer that mock what Wasn’t Completed and must wait until next year, the dread of Time spent in research when I desperately want to run away and sleep for four days and then read forty books.

I’m preparing for that time by drying my beautiful sage I pulled from the garden today.  I’m also saving just a bit for recipes I might find that would allow for some dried sage in lieu of fresh. And I’m predicting that when that time comes in late fall or early winter, I’ll walk over to my firebox to build the evening fire, see my smudge sticks and then smile.  I love finding winter stores I’ve forgotten.

And then? I’ll toss a bunch of dried sage into my fire along with lavender, a few cedar chips and some sweet grass if I can gather some soon. Then sit down… Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: Predicting the Need for a Smudging Ceremony

My Little Victory Garden: Brilliant Ideas Gone Bad

This past week has been strange for me.  This past Monday was my last day at Oklahoma State University.  And, although I’ve only worked there eight years, I also attended grad school there for my master’s degree, and again for my doctoral degree.  I’ve spent more time at OSU, therefore, than in any one of the homes Mick and I have owned.  And so leaving there was a bittersweet event.

My garden, however, was a constant in my life and very therapeutic for me during this time.  I returned to it every day and the growth of the plants, the production of new vegetables and the continued needs it required of me was familiar among the change…and that is a good, good thing.

I’m so grateful for the jumbled mass of English peas that are now providing sweet and tender early morsels for our salads.  I pick them and then put them in my pockets to carry back to the kitchen, but sometimes they don’t make it to the house.  Rather, they leap into my mouth, as if possessed by an uncanny lifeforce and are eaten raw, whole and rapidly.

This week has also been about “fails,” however.  I made a little video of my garden to give you a tour, and now cannot figure out how to get the video file from my Android phone to my new Macbook Air.  Fail score = +1.  I purchased some beautiful Stilwell strawberries last week from the Urban Agrarian and made strawberry-balsamic-black pepper preserves.  The taste is delightful, but the pectin level was too low, or I didn’t cook them down enough.  Either way, I have a batch of delicious tasting, runny preserves on my hands.  Fail score = +1/2.

And, I had to thin all my cabbage plants so I got this GREAT idea to make stuffed cabbage rolls with the big green leaves.  What I didn’t realize is that cabbage outer leaves are much tougher than the main portions of cabbage heads, so although I cooked them for 45 minutes, they were still tough when I pulled them out of the oven.  Fail score = +2 (for all the time and work I put into them).  Total fails this week?  At least +3.5 points worth.  Where do I get the point values?  From thin air, just like I get some of my great cooking ideas…and some of my really, really bad cooking ideas.

These brilliant ideas gone good OR bad usually start with these three questions:

1. What does my garden have to offer this week?

2. What do I have in my freezer that needs to be used?

3. What does the local farmer’s market have in season to help the situation?

The total sum of these answers always gets me my ideas for weekly food to feed my family.  But not always are those ideas as brilliant as they seem in my head when they are born.

Therefore, this post is dedicated to all the garden fails of the world.  I’m going to show you what I loved about my cabbage roll dish, and what I simply couldn’t endorse.  Here we go: Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: Brilliant Ideas Gone Bad

My Little Victory Garden: A Rose Named Rachel

This past week has been one of the grandest growing, cooking and discovery weeks for all good things I’ve had since early last October.  But I’m not going to write about any of it.  I’m leaving my position at Oklahoma State University tomorrow and will be starting a new career with the Great Plains Integris residency program in two weeks.  But today I’m not going to write about that either.  I’m going to write about my eldest who is finishing up her undergraduate work at the University of Oklahoma.  And, I’m going to show you what she did.

Rachel’s love for photography began at Edmond Memorial High School when she joined the Yearbook team.  Andrew Defrancesco has also been an inspiration to thousands of people due to to his photography skills. She then started her college career at the Kansas City Art Institute and completed two years of a highly rigorous program.  There was a boy, however, and a family and culture she missed.  So she returned to Oklahoma and eventually found her way to the right university program to complete her good work there.

I’ll be honest.  I’m a complete sap when it comes describing my tender feelings toward my offspring.  I treasure Rachel’s photography, pottery, fibers and art history growing experience in so many ways. But I may have found the beacon my heart will return to for years to come.  That beacon emits from the deserts of the West where she traveled with a group of peers for a photography shoot.  Their destinations included Death Valley, the Painted Desert and the Mohave Desert.

University of Oklahoma Photography Trip, 2012. Rachel Apple, senior Photography major.

I had downloaded an entire album of Native American flute music to put in the background of this film.  However, I just couldn’t do it.  Rather, I decided to use a song my youngest introduced me to a few years ago by Copeland called “Brightest.”  Rachel, today both you and your work are the “brightest fireflies in my jar.”  I love you, and am very happy for you. – “Mams,” aka [kelly]

The photographs in this video are copyrighted by Rachel Apple.  If you are interested in purchasing a print, you may reach her through our “Contact” form on this site, or write us and we’ll send you her contact information. Thanks.

My Little Victory Garden: Everyone Begins Somewhere

See recipe at the end of this post. Yum.

There are a couple of things I’ve noticed about social media.

First, I really am influenced by messages I receive throughout the week about what I might want to buy for cooking meals, where I might wish to plan my next trip, or how I decide to choose spend some of my discretionary funds to purchase a book for upcoming summer reading.

For example, this week I saw that Stilwell Strawberries had just been received at the Urban Agrarian, I “Tweeted” them a question asking if they would be bringing some to the Edmond Farmer’s Market opening day, and received this reply back: “Absolutely.”  Immediately, I began planning what to cook for my family on Sunday night, but more so, I COULD begin that planning because of the social tools we now use today. I had heard a “rally cry” that began in the eastern Oklahoma strawberry fields and had been carried through the central OKC relay system, with the end result landing on my kitchen table.

Second, because of social media, the producers in Oklahoma have become personal to me.  I’ve intentionally shifted my food budget from approximately 10-15% local purchases two years ago, to approximately 50% or more local purchases today.  Every month when I read the Oklahoma Food Cooperative‘s “Producer Notes” I get to hear what is going on at the farm/ranch level.  I get to learn how it is that I have new product choices or why it is that certain weather or economic factors influence what I choose for a particular month.

I can plan my own garden because I know I’m more or less likely to get certain crops at the market every year at pretty decent prices, therefore I plant to harvest what I know will help me save money and I have the best chance of growing successfully….and that complements what I can already get through our local food distributions systems here in the state.  I can ask questions about certain products or swap recipes (or send photographs of the final products!) to my connections on Facebook and Twitter which then helps all of us gain more ideas about how to manage and balance our food purchases and inventory.

In other words, just two years after I started building a social media network comprised of locally focused resources that interest me, I feel more informed and competent about running my own household and my own life here in central Oklahoma. And, I have a much greater sense of connection to those in Oklahoma who are producing healthy, local food.  And finally, I count myself in that bunch to a degree because I really enjoy the goodness I get from my garden in so many ways.

I’m writing this post because I’ve recently received a few messages from people who feel “inadequate” in terms of growing gardens or cooking locally.  The majority of these notes were from people younger than I who expressed self-doubts about whether or not they could “grow anything.”  Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: Everyone Begins Somewhere

My Little Victory Garden: Peashoots, Rain and Tornadoes in Oklahoma

Pea shoots cut in the evening sun. Everything is so green...

We’ve been sent a mixed blessing from the weather gods here in Oklahoma.  On the one hand, we’ve received a wonderful Spring rainfall and our state is green. The vegetables in my garden are green.  The trees, the wheat and the landscape…all green.  It’s beautiful here.

But on top of all that green, at least in some locations across the state (notably Norman and Woodward…ESPECIALLY Woodward) is now a blanketing of debris strewn about by tornadoes.  And in a few cases, there are also grieving people who lost family members, including children.  The losses also go past the people, however. And even if we know and understand that people are what matters, businesses, homes and a large variety of property now has to be cleaned up, rebuilt and managed.

I felt strange today.  And lucky.  Although I slept through the night both Friday and Saturday, and felt assured that we had warning systems in place as well as a storm shelter buried into our garage floor, many Oklahomans didn’t.  People are tired, they’re sad, and they’re trying to help manage their lives as well as figure out how to help those in need.

I was thinking through these various thoughts as I went to one of two patches of peas I’m growing.  One I’ve grown simply to use the shoots and that’s what I’m going to share with you today.  The other, I’ll let grow to fruition and enjoy peas in a few weeks.

Pea shoots, cut early and properly, are an incredible addition to a healthy and balanced meal plan.  There are literally endless ways to eat this beautiful plant that tastes just like the mild side of English peas.  A Chinese graduate student was visiting our home Wednesday night and he said the people in his village ate them all the time, stir fried along with other vegetables.  But you can also use them fresh in salads, on sandwiches as a lettuce substitute, cream them into a beautiful coulis, or in so many other ways.

I urge you to check out this website for all you ever wanted to know about pea shoots, recipes, and beautiful photos of the possibilities.  And, if you’d like, you can grow them inside your home by a window like people grow bean sprouts or wheat grass.

Tonight I used them for a “local Okie” ingredient meal and I must say, this is one of my favorite Little Victory Garden creations to date: Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: Peashoots, Rain and Tornadoes in Oklahoma

My Little Victory Garden: Yellow and Green Tomato Pappardelle with Grilled Lamb Steaks

I think one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve experienced over the past few months is the discovery of genuinely good tasting produce coming from local hoop and green house operations.

Case in point: Crow’s family farm in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  They showed up at the OKC Farmer’s Market this past Saturday with large, “real-smelling” red, yellow and green tomatoes.  And while I appreciated the fact that they still had a few purple shelled peas, some pumpkin puree and a few other items, my brain was already dreaming up the week’s meals with plates covered in orange-yellow, low-acid tomatoes.

After a quick stop by the herb section to grab thyme (mine died in the drought last year), I then headed to the Urban Agrarian to think about my centers of the plate.  I wanted…Spring, earthy and “Easter-ish.”  My solution included some Cordero Farms Lamb Steaks and four ounces of fresh Della Terra fresh pappardelle pasta.  I bought a few other things like a nice package of Cacioavera and some purple asparagus just for good measure, then headed home to cook good things!

I thought through all kinds of possibilities in the car on the way home, but settled on this dinner for hubby and I: Grilled Herbed Lamb Steak with Green and Yellow Tomato Pappardelle.  

When making this meal, it is best to prep the lamb steaks at least 1 or 2 hours before grilling.  Refrigerating overnight could be even better.  Lamb steaks are tender cuts of meat and delicious choices for center of the plate.  They’re also a little less expensive than lamb chops but still pack a nice punch for a special dinner. You’ll even notice that there is a nice natural segmentation straight across the center within the muscle so if want to cut them in half and serve light portions to two people, it’s an easy task.

In the food processor mix:

1 tsp sea salt; 3 garlic cloves; 4 sage leaves; strip one 6″ sprig of rosemary; 6-8 mint leaves.  Pulse until well minced. Make sure and breathe deeply for a nice aroma-therapy session while you cook!  Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: Yellow and Green Tomato Pappardelle with Grilled Lamb Steaks

My Little Victory Garden: Local Raspberries and Blackberries Do Their Vines Proud

Note:  I didn’t write on Easter, but I did collect photos and cook on Saturday night.  I’ll have a NEW MLVG post up later today. I may write on my lunch hour since I’m excited to share the deliciousness of our local goodness very soon.  In the meantime, I’m sharing this “blackberry” post from last year.  I have a feeling our Oklahoma berry vines will be producing a little early this year, so it’s already time to think about how you might enjoy their goodness.  If you’ve not yet tried “pick your own” at Sorghum Mill, I definitely recommend them.  They have a lovely operation. Thanks, RDK

***

(Originally published May 31, 2011): Normally we Okies can anticipate berry season by thinking: Mother’s Day – strawberries; Memorial Day weekend – time for blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.  However, I mentioned last week that this year brought a cruel weather pattern. Berry farmers are still suffering the consequences of an extended Fall/Spring drought as well as three or four dips during the winter to temperatures at ten below zero.

The owner of Sorghum Mill Christmas Tree and Blackberry Farm particularly noted the cold weather for what they’re seeing now: the freeze may have damaged the ability for the normal flow of water and nutrients to feed their bushes.  The berries are simply not themselves this year.  Nor are the berries nearly as abundant.

I stopped by to check on Sorghum Mill Farms Memorial Day afternoon.  She and I talked a bit on the porch and she allowed me an early peek into the harvest, although she said they would be ready for the public in about two weeks.  She was right.  Normally, their berries are (seriously) approximately 1.5 to even 2″ long.  They’re monstrous.  But not this year.  And it appears that what berries they have are not only about half the normal size, but are much more sparse. Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: Local Raspberries and Blackberries Do Their Vines Proud

My Little Victory Garden: All Okie, All The Time

These morels were foraged in the Guthrie, OK area on 3-17-12.

Our early warming season is definitely moving things along in my own garden, AND in the local producer arena.  I take a few minutes to tend to my garden every day and have been delighted to see the speed of seed germinating, onion shoots climbing and the green of asparagus and rhubarb sending promises of wonderful meals for the very near future.  Our local producers who grow for part or all of their livelihood seem to usually be about three weeks ahead of me.  Either that, or they’ve got some great hoop and green houses because the produce is already rolling in.

This past Saturday at the OSU-OKC farmer’s market I purchased beautiful fresh dill, spinach, tender bib lettuce and rainbow chard.  Then I headed over to the Urban Agrarian and picked up tomatoes, carrots, Della Terra whole wheat spaghetti, pork bones for stock, cilantro and…mushrooms.  There were beautiful chantrelles waiting to be purchased in the front display and I was SO in the mood for mushrooms.

Why?  Well, it is morel season in Oklahoma and so far I’ve come up empty-handed on the two quick foraging runs I’ve taken.  However, my friends in Guthrie seem to be in the right place because they are now pulling in quite a few.

Armed with a refrigerator full of local food, I put my thinking hat on, and came up with this meal: blue cheese and veggie stuff tomatoes, chantrelle and bacon cream sauce for the spaghetti and a simple quartered bib lettuce head.  Here are the “how tos…” Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: All Okie, All The Time

Waterloo Road: Smalltown, America

These past few weeks have been early garden planting season.  I’ve been looking for a place closer to home because I’ve normally traveled down to NE OKC, or to Classen and NW Expressway for my seeds and bulbs.  I think there’s something more to be gained, however, from the experience of visiting small business feed stores, lumber yards and farm equipment niches.  I’m just fascinated with all the supplies an owner can cram into one of those stores, and I like being one of the only people shopping.  No crowds = happy me.

Enter Waterloo Road.  We were coming back from the vet a couple of weeks ago when I noticed a sign outside what appeared to be some sort of hardware store know for its nuts and bolts UK but now they are advertising onions and potatoes.

Well, of COURSE I targeted that place as my garden shopping site, and I’m so glad I did.

“The Korner” Hardware and Home Center was all I had hoped it would be, complete with a single, retirement-aged employee who had plenty of stories for the two customers in the store.

They had fresh eggs…AND hay or straw for sale. Continue reading Waterloo Road: Smalltown, America

My Little Victory Garden: Al Eschbach, Radishes and Beer

I’m writing this post with a healthy dose of dirt under my fingernails.  I just came from my garden, having discovered that my newly planted lettuce is now in the sprout stage.  The chard and spinach remain elusive, but I’m hoping another few good weather days will influence them to come up as well.  Today’s work included planting carrots, peas and a multitude of red and yellow onions.  I was thinking about how this would be the first year I abstained from planting white onions when my next door neighbor wanders over and says hello:

“Hi, neighbor!”

“Hey friend, how ARE you this fine, fine Sunday afternoon?”

“Good, now that my onions are planted.  I have reds and whites, but no yellows.”

“Hmmmmm…I have reds and yellows, but no whites.”

“So, we’re trading white and yellows, then, right?”

“Ex-ACT-ly.”

This Sunday afternoon banter along the retention wall between our two properties is a constitutional tenet.  It’s as much a part of our female connection as the “Hi ho, neighbor!” call is between our husbands.  If we’re outside in the same vicinity, we speak. Or wave. Or nod.  Today we spoke.  But then, came something extra.

“I just pulled up the remainder of my winter garden and have too many radishes.  Would you like a few?”

Al Eschbach: Photo retrieved from The Lost Ogle, June 2, 2011 post.

My antennae rose as I thought about the possibilities.  “Sure!” I replied.  Then, “radishes…radishes…radishes…”  My mind quickly whirled while I considered the possibilities.  And then the answer came to me.  In the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to try Al Eschbach’s favorite food combination.  I surmised that TODAY must be that experimental opportunity.

I did some quick research to find out all the nuances I could about Eschabach’s food love and discovered a few things:

Taco Mountain: They Came, They Assembled, They Conquered

"Burachos" Pork Filling for Taco Mountain

Back in the day when my children were pre-teens, “Grandma” found a recipe in the newspaper called “Taco Mountain.”  Grandma is Mick’s mom, Ruth Roberts.  And Ruth Roberts has done one thing very well since I’ve known her now for 28 years –  she feeds large groups of people and doesn’t really get anxious about the prospect.  At all.

Case in point: A tradition at the Roberts’ home on the 4th of July is to barbeque a large portion of meat and have lots of people over to enjoy the day together.  I’m not talking ten or twenty pounds of meat, folks…I’m talking one hundred, 150 or even close to 200 pounds of meat.  But that’s another story for another day.  Back to Taco Mountain…

Basically this “recipe” is simply instructions to make a large amount of ingredients we in the South or Midwest generally see together on a plate when having tacos, and then let everyone just build their own.  Hers called for shredded lettuce, seasoned taco meat, rice, chopped tomatoes, etc.

Some families have “build your own nachos” bar, or something else very similar.  But since the time of the first serving of Taco Mountain at Grandma’s house in Jenks, Oklahoma, our own family also adopted the tradition.  And, since our normal Sunday evening dinner was going to include extra guests last night, “Taco Mountain” became the evening choice for service.

Our Taco Mountain has morphed, evolved and changed quite a bit since our first time at Grandmas.  And YOUR Taco Mountain could look completely different than ours.  But in case you’ve not tried this particular approach to serving guests before, I’ll share OUR approach to give you a starting point.  Who KNOWS where your own creativity will lead you!?

***

Taco Mountain, al la the Mick and Kelly Roberts Family Approach

  • Make seasoned ground or shredded beef.  We use local organic beef, and I simply use McCormick low-sodium taco seasoning.  I usually double the recipe and use two packets for large crowds.
  • You can also include chicken or pork.  Last night I made the pork I created for a recipe contest called “Tacos Burachos.”  I love that recipe.  Here is the link if you’d like to check it out. I love the tang from the tequila and lime mixed with the smoke of the chipotle tomatoes.
  • Homemade guacamole:  Continue reading Taco Mountain: They Came, They Assembled, They Conquered

My Little Victory Garden: Gillyflowers and the Circle of Food-Life

I stood over the sink during the second wash. Most of the dirt was already down the drain and I was now searching for dried sections on the onion shoots. I had just pulled about forty green onions from My Little Victory Garden so Mick could help me get the dirt ready for early Spring planting.
Here is what a clean, fresh palette looks like to a garden artist. Wow...imagine the possibilities!
I continued to clean the lettuce that had grown over the winter, but it was rough, tough and not really great to eat. I decided to give the deer a treat so I washed it up a bit and left it over the back fence for them to find tonight.

Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: Gillyflowers and the Circle of Food-Life

Dark Secrets: A Very Chocolate Tasting of Fifteen High Cacao Delights

It was 8:15 pm and my husband, who rises at 4:00 a.m. every morning, had already gone to bed.  I was almost home from work when my phone rang.

“Uh, hello?” a voice said on the other end.  Translation: “Mom, I’m here in your kitchen ready to taste chocolate.  Where are YOU?”

“I’m pulling in the drive, kiddo…be right there.”  We had a date.  8:15 to 9:00 pm that evening, she (20 years old), my neighbor (35 years old) and I (48 years old) were going to have a Dark Chocolate throw-down.  We were looking for the perfect bar of dark chocolate to recommend to our readers for a Valentine’s Day post.  Rylee was in the kitchen staring at me mischievously when I walked in the door.

“Let’s get started!” she grinned.

Chocolate does that to some people, doesn’t it?  It has some sort of built in beacon that pings a signal in the center of your brain beckoning over and over, “Here I am.  Taste me! Here I am. Taste me!”  Rylee and I were appreciators of a good dark chocolate but tonight was going to be special.  I had spent the past few days stopping by Forward Foods, Whole Foods Market and Homeland to pick up a wide assortment of high-level cacao chocolates and we were going to taste them that night.  Every single one of them.

Missy arrived right after I, and we began to set up our experiment.  We carefully shaved off small bits of every bar, put them on a single saucer, lined up glasses of water and put on some hot water for tea.

As we tore open the bars while prepping, I thought back to my first memories of dark chocolate.  My grandpa Frank used to purchase bulk bags of Hershey’s miniature candy bars and he knew I liked the “Specials.”  I remember watching him open bags, digging around and picking out the two or three that were in every bag.  It seemed those bags had the greatest percentage of Mr. Goodbars and Hershey’s Krisps, then Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, THEN the Specials.  I felt like a princess because he was finding the treasure and handing it over before he ever picked one for himself.

Years later, I still have about one square of dark chocolate every morning or night and I love it dearly.  I love breathing in the chocolaty aroma before putting it in my mouth.  I love the way it melts and begins to turn to liquid, and I love to barely chew the last little bit so that my teeth get in on part of the action as well.

I think eating chocolate must be slightly spiritual.  After all, it IS a vegetable, no?  And it’s actually good for you.  It can lower your blood pressure and in small quantities do good things for your body.   Evidently, others think about it as spiritual as well.  There is almost as much information about tasting chocolate as there is about tasting wine.  And, just like wine…there are many ways to classify the various aspects of dark chocolate.

One of my favorite moments in reading up on dark chocolate was learning to pronounce the word “cacao.”  I always thought it was “kuh-kay-oh.”  Nope.  It’s “kuh-kow.”  I’m such a Trekkie that the word reminds me of the Queen of the Vulcan’s, T’Pau (tuh-pow). Okay…back to the chocolate. Continue reading Dark Secrets: A Very Chocolate Tasting of Fifteen High Cacao Delights

Old Cell Phone Photos: The Philbrook, Chino Bags and Repurposing Fun

The day has not been forgotten by my SIM card.

Rather, there were smiles and emotions washing over my face to be had tonight in January, waiting for me since June. My SIM card had been holding them for me all along. Passed along from my Blackberry Bold, to my PC at work, to my external hard drive, to my Mac, and somehow synchronized back into my phone, I found this:

 

My RyeDye and I went to the Philbrook Museum of Art that day and were happily surprised to find a community “recycling clothes” project.

Loaned sewing machines, recycled buttons, lace, silk screening options, and a number of other treasures lined the tables that were set up in the middle of a room big enough to generate stellar echos.

We found a pair of heavy cotton chinos or pajama pants somewhere inside a mountain of donated clothing piled on the floor. We split them in half and each took one leg to create a bag.

Rylee used recycled buttons and lace, and inverted hers so the small opening was on top, thus producing a youthful, fun bag. It was easy, breezy, and so…her.

I kept simple lines, but cut long strips and braided them together for the handles, and visited the silk screening station.  I have a habit of being all Eddie Bauer or Talbots in many of my approaches. It’s a curse. I truly just don’t know what I would do with lace.  I could never pull it off because the weirdly uncomfortable look on my face would distract passers-by so that they would hardly notice that I had attempted to add notions and accents in the “frills” category.

Back to my bag. I placed a star where we live, and the three small red stones where Hubby’s mom, my parents and Rachel, Drew and Quentin live. (fyi – Rachel = eldest child; Drew = her Hubby, Quentin = my brother).

The Philbrook is a rocking museum. The event was perfect.  But my time spent with RyeDye, side by side on our respective Burnina’s, was a beautiful moment I won’t forget.

And my SIM card, obviously, is helping with that.

***

P.S.  That photo was taken on our drive, under an oak tree.  The locusts were humming and the blotching light patterns are preciously reminiscent of that hot summer day. I feel warm just looking at it again.

P.P.S.  I posted this photo on Facebook last summer, and got a short sweet message from my father.  He wrote, “I like being a small red stone.” I grinned when I read his tender-hearted note.  Dads can be really cool sometimes.

[kelly]

 

 

More Precious Than Rubies…The Stones, That Is

(Written last Saturday, the day of Nana Kay’s funeral)

This morning I realized I had a pork roast now on its fifth day in my meat drawer.   Still having snippets of last week’s “Pioneer Woman” cooking show in my head, I decided to make pulled pork. Sans the soda pop.  I cook my pork with a swagger.  In other words, I drown that sucker in beer.

Somewhere between the onions, cumin, red pepper and my bottle of Shiner Ruby Redbird, I wrestled with a moderate tinge of guilt.  I rectified the situation by confessing my sins to P-Dub over the Twitter-nets:

“I dearly love @thepioneerwoman but I cook my pulled pork in Shiner Ruby Redbird beer! #notsodapop

I had cleansed my cooking soul and finished that beautiful dish with a bang.  Suh-weet Maui Onion, that pork was delicious.  I wanted to savor at least five more mouthfuls but my heart was turned westward, toward our dear neighbor’s house.

“Nana Kay,” my next door neighbor’s mother, died two days ago.  Their last name is Red.  Sometimes I called Nana Kay my “Ruby Red Dress” when she wore Red. I have a photo of her sitting on her red scooter, rooting for her favorite football team – the University of Oklahoma Sooners. School colors on her sweatshirt?  Red and white, of course. And, she was wearing red lipstick and rouge.  The oxygen tubes assisting her breathing were constant reminders that she wasn’t well.

I’m going to miss Nana Kay, and I’m sure my next door neighbors are heartbroken right now.

So, I decided to take them some pulled pork, cooked in Shiner Ruby REDbird beer. I searched my cabinets for a disposable container with a red lid.  I was packing up half of the pulled pork into a container for the Reds when I received a text notice.  I checked my phone.  It was P-Dub.  She had Tweeted:

@RedDirtKelly I dearly love you too, and that’s all I have to say about that.”

Then I forgot about my cooking and got excited. Suddenly becoming  thirteen years old I sent @thepioneerwoman two more messages for good measure. Then I wrestled with a moderate tinge of guilt having just committed cyber-overkill.  Continue reading More Precious Than Rubies…The Stones, That Is

Paula Deen’s Got “The Sugah Diabeetus,” Y’all

 

Approximately 10 a.m. CST I logged in to Twitter on my laptop. I rarely check “trending” because I Tweet to connect with my local Okie, business, industry, agricultural and blogging contacts.

I was frowning because a local Tweet voice was at the same time feigning sympathy for a young girl who had wrecked her car while posting a photo of her misfortune.

“If you really felt sorry for her, you’d respect her privacy dude.” I was preaching to my PC screen.

Then I saw it. Someone connected to me had retweeted this message put out by The Daily:

Exclusive: , queen of Southern cooking, to reveal she has diabetes

I glanced over to “trending” and saw that “Paula Deen” was number one.

“What?” I did a mental double-take, considering the information.  I was still sorting through the news when I clicked on the trending link.  And then I wanted to throw up.  Here’s a sample of the truly low messages flying through Twitter-space today:

PaulaDeen to announce she has diabetes. She found out with a simple blood test. Dr pricked her finger, butterscotch oozed out. Continue reading Paula Deen’s Got “The Sugah Diabeetus,” Y’all

Fowl Thang: A Quail, Brown, Blue, Duck and Turkey Egg Throwdown

Top to bottom: brown, blue/green, quail, duck and turkey eggs.

All I wanted was a dozen eggs from the farmer’s market.

But then I saw they had both brown and blue eggs.  “Oh well,” I thought.  “I can always use a couple dozen eggs. Heck, I could probably go three and be just fine.”

The words, “…just fine” were still hanging in the air of my psyche when the farmer asked, “Have you ever tried turkey eggs?”

My eyes got a little wider, I glanced at my daughter who was standing beside me, grinned, then looked back at him. “Well, nooooo…do you have turkey eggs for sale?”

“Oh yeah,” he smiled.  “We’ve got turkey eggs and duck eggs.”

He bent over and started looking around in the coolers below him before I could protest.

“Duck eggs?  Are they weird?  What do they TASTE like?”  I was talking to myself in rapid-fire when he popped up with a half-carton of turkey eggs…with only five, beautiful, perfect, lightly brown speckled good size beauties nested in the cardboard.

“These are $3.00 a half-dozen, so you’ll have to do the math.”  He placed a carton of duck eggs on the table as he was explaining to me that I was going to be calculating my own grocery tab.  My son-in-law got out his phone, opened the calculator app and I breathed a sign of relief.

Well, we were set.  Four different kinds of eggs with words of preparation from the farmer: “Have you ever eaten turkey or duck eggs before? [he waited for all of us to nod our heads “no”]  Well, okay.  Then I won’t tell you what to expect.  I know what I think about the differences, but come back and let me know what YOU think.” I really liked that guy. If he only knew how impressionable I am, then he would understand how much he saved me from preconceived notions about these eggs.

About the time he finished his comments, an idea hit me.  I decided right then and there that we needed to have a Brown, Blue, Duck and Turkey Egg Throwdown.  My daughter volunteered to help judge, then so did my son-in-law.  Okay, we were going to DO this!

But then I found quail eggs from another producer…so I bought them too.

I was loaded up with almost $20 worth of eggs and felt giddy. I thought of my friend’s phrase, “Yippee, skippy!” and my feet did a slight jig on the way to the car.  My kiddos and I set the time for the throwdown, parted ways and headed to our separate destinations.  When I got home, I opened all the cartons again, looked at the beautiful differences of the various varieties and smiled.  I couldn’t wait until the following day!

But I did, and it finally got here.

So, what did we find out?  Continue reading Fowl Thang: A Quail, Brown, Blue, Duck and Turkey Egg Throwdown

The Old is Brand New: Urban Agrarian Opens in Farmer’s Market

It feels good to be in the Farmer’s Market District again. Thanks, Urban Agrarian.

I’m going to tell you a little story about how you might achieve that “all is right with the world” feeling.  Pay attention because the instructions are specific.

First, you need to drive to the new Urban Agrarian storefront location at 1235 SW 2nd.  It’s important the trip is planned sometime between Wednesday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Otherwise, you’ll miss that good feeling I’m telling you about…well, because the doors (that was repaired recently by the guys from garage door repair westchase) will be closed.

Once you pull up to the old Farmer’s Market Building and see the “Urban Agrarian” dimensional sign samples outside, you’ll already begin to understand what I’m trying to describe.

Hanging from the ceiling above the wooden entrance and walkway, words like “Meats,” “Greens,” or “Jams” let you know a bit of what you’ll find inside.  Those featured products and so much more greet you when you swing open the door and step at once both back in time, and into the future. Continue reading The Old is Brand New: Urban Agrarian Opens in Farmer’s Market