Monday, January 16, 2012

Drawing a Line in the Snow

Recently, a friend called our weather here  bipolar. I think that is a pretty accurate description of the typical West Virginia winter, at least since we've been here. Last week the high temperatures didn't break the freezing mark. Today was in the 50's.

Personally, I love it!

The temperatures started creeping upward yesterday. In the winter, the sun crosses the sky behind our house casting a wide shadow across our front yard. It leaves the yard closest to the driveway melted and the the front porch and yard covered in snow. Just a bipolar yard to go with our bipolar weather.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Since You Asked - Cube Steak

If you are eating the meat you've raised, or even if you are committed to eating locally raised meat, you will probably find yourself learning to cook cuts of meat that you were not previously familiar with.

When a whole cow is butchered, there is a lot more meat than rib-eyes, chuck roasts, and hamburger. As our beef harvest from last summer's steers dwindles, the choices become limited. A customer recently ordered cube steak, and upon picking it up asked, "How do you cook your cube steak?" As with most meats, my standard answer was, "In the crock pot."

The crock pot and I are good friends. I can throw a piece of meat in (often still frozen,) and add some spice, and maybe a little liquid, forget about it for the day, and have a delicious, tender dinner ready to go. Perfect for days when we are running around. Perfect for days when we are home trying to complete school, farm projects, and housework.

My go to for cube steak is to layer it in the crock pot with onions and tomato sauce. On low for about six hours does the trick. We serve it over rice. Two things I've learned; one, these do not cook well from frozen, and two, don't cook longer than 4 hours on high, or 6 hours on low.

One night, I found myself with a little extra time for cooking. (I really do enjoy cooking, but the crock pot has become my main method as a matter of convenience.) I decided I wanted to try my hand at Country Fried Steak. In my normal manner I browsed several recipes, came up with my own based on what is in my cupboard and our tastes, and failed to write down the ingredients so that I could recreate it in the future.

It is pretty simple though. Dip the steaks in egg wash, dredge them in seasoned flour, fry them in fat (I used lard,) and top with milk gravy. Country Fried Steak on Allrecipes gives you the steps. We like our food well seasoned. So, I did add additional spice; garlic powder and paprika if memory serves.  It was a hit!

My mom reports that her favorite way to prepare them is to bake them in the oven with cream of mushroom soup. How do you like your cube steak?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Spoiled Rotten

They may say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. That may be true, but the way to this woman's heart is for the man to take over the cooking duties every now and then.

How spoiled am I to have a man that comes home from work, sees that I'm a bit frazzled and stressed, and throws an apron on right over his office clothes? And while doing so says, "Here, I'll finish up dinner. You go take care of the other things you need to."

Yes, yes, indeed, I love this man.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Not Unless it is His Idea

Nolan stuck in a clothes basket.
 Nolan is my sweet, lovable, seven year old boy that makes us all want to pull our hair out.  It is hard to believe that all that sweet goodness can co-exist with all that drama and orneriness inside that one little body.

Nolan is simply flying through his school work. I need to challenge him more, but he is pretty content to breeze through. (A subject for another time perhaps.) This week, I've been using his down time for reading (of his choice.) Today he had about 30 minutes before lunch, and I said, "I would like you to read until lunch please."

You would have thought I asked him to clean out the chicken house or something. According to his reaction, accomplishing the task before him was torture . You'd never know that this is a kids who really does enjoy reading. His comment to me, "I already read well enough. Why do I have to read now?"

After a few minutes of his protests, I, trying to avoid the battle (and the drama,) asked, "What would you like to do until lunch?" His response, "I think I'll find a book."

And at this point in the story I smile nicely and say, "Ok honey," and pound my head on the desk as soon as he turns around.

He read a book about dinosaurs until I called him for lunch.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The First Snow of the Year

The first real snow of the year has arrived. If you've known me for any amount of time, you know that the first snow is not a cause for celebration to me.

I whined and cried yesterday when the snow began. I whined and cried a little more this morning before I went outside to do chores.

The children, much to their credit, have a much better attitude. Some of the children embrace the snow more than others.

The animals are tolerant of the weather.  They seem to patiently take the weather as it comes. Maybe I need to take a lesson from them.

Truth be told, I really do not mind the snow. In fact, I kind of enjoy going out with the kids to play in the snow. The cold doesn't even bother me. It is all the hassle that goes along with the cold and the snow that makes me want to curl up in a ball until April. It is the thawing of water buckets. The coming of baby animals during a freeze. The worry of frozen pipes. The search for boots, hats, and gloves for four children, and the even bigger dilemma of where to put all those snow covered things in a space entirely too small for all our gear and our laundry. And ever since I almost took the kids over the hill in the van, it is the driving. Any snow on the roads while I'm driving makes my heart race.

So the snow has finally come, and try as I might, I can't embrace it. The negatives simply outweigh the positives. Instead I am bracing myself, adopting a stoic attitude toward the season, and patiently waiting for the next thaw.