Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Adventure Travel

Since I don't travel nearly as much as I once did, or leave the farm for that matter, cooking has become my newest form of adventure travel.
Cahn, or Vietnamese Meatball and Watercress Soup.
The adventure part comes with trying to source everything locally from organic sources.  Friends have gifted me with 5 deer this year, allowing me to process my own meat.

Many times, I substitute venison for red meats in recipes.

My friend, Helene, in Birmingham, chooses and clips recipes for me.  She's more than my travel agent, she's my partner in crime.
Asian Venison and Snow Peas.
Other meats are mail ordered from White Oak Pastures, a completely vertically integrated organic farm in Georgia.

They have it all!
My geriatric hens have even begun producing eggs again.

What can't be gotten locally is carefully sourced to ensure my consumer dollar is going to help a family farm or to promote the sustainable farming movement.   My teenage years spent in Greenpeace haven't left me-- I've developed more of an epicurean flair to my environmentalism. Or one could say I'm Miss Piggy with a conscience.

Earl Grey and Chocolate Tart (Earl Grey from family plantation in India).
My coffee comes to me green directly from Nicaraguan and Columbian farms.  Takes me about 20 minutes, cranking continuously on my Jiffy popper, to roast my own coffee.

No matter what I do, it sets the smoke detector off every time!

But, worth it.
When it comes to beans,

I still have some dried beans that I grow myself.  Christmas limas are my favorite.

My other beans come from Rancho Gordo in California.  What isn't grown on his farm is sourced from family farms in Mexico.

I cook for a family of 6 and freeze the rest.

My freezer chest is my ticket to a travel destination.
Some times the trip isn't memorable...
How hard I worked, putting in fresh herbs from my garden, into making spaetzle.

Something should've told me we were in for turbulence when the dough was sticking to me like glue.

Sally forth and discover...

...that we're not going back to this place again!

A sincere thank you goes out to Helene for taking so much time to choose recipes and adventures for me!  You're the best!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Garrett Learns a Valuable Lesson

Garrett learned the hard way today to give these a wide berth.
I had great plans to use my day off to catch up on projects around the house when Murphy's Law came knocking.
Well, actually is was Garrett who came barreling back in from the yard looking very distressed.  I observed he was licking his lips excessively so I checked his mouth and perceived what I hoped was a only a wasp bite.  Dax was harassing him, so I  locked Garrett in the bedroom for 10 minutes while tending to The Entitled One.

This is the sad face that greeted me! His right cheek had swollen up like a balloon.  Ok, not a wasp, but a venomous snake bite. Flynn helped me stuff him full of Benadryl and I blasted off the farm in the direction of the vet clinic.

He still hasn't told me how he ended up with the puncture wounds inside his upper lip.

Just like someone after having wisdom teeth pulled, Garrett drooled a lot.

By the time we left the clinic, I could already see some improvement and reduction in swelling.

With the edema dropping down his face, he has more Chins than a Chinese telephone book.  Rightly so, Dr. Brown recommended removing his collar.

A little sugar, or Haagen Daz, makes the medicine go down.  Poor guy, what a rough day.  He'll be on antibiotics and cortisone for a couple weeks.
Who ever heard of snakes coming out of hibernation in February??? Well it is in the 80's-- in February!  So wrong, so wrong.
This is war:

I love my non venomous snakes, but I love my dogs more.  Hopefully, I won't cause collateral damage to my beneficial snakes, but I'm coming after the troublemakers.

Meanwhile, The Entitled One didn't appreciate being out the spotlight.  While Garrett and I were at the vet's office, he drank his sorrows away... in my bed...with olive oil... 

This ought to be a fun night.

He's already farting up a storm under my desk.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Maiden Road Trip of 2018

...3, 2, 1  BLAST OFF!!!
Star Date: 01312018.  The Smith Space Pod leaves the farm orbit with its crew.

Garrett mans the cargo bay of the ship.

Peter and Dax take turns copiloting.  Your eyes are not deceiving you, Peter is getting fatter.  He spends his day at work stealing horse nuggets.  He claims it has therapeutic properties for his arthritis.  Whatever, dude.  Today is Debauchery Day anyway.

We stop at Walter's in the middle of nowhere Macon County because they make Southern food from scratch.  I buy the dogs two bacon sausage biscuits and forget to snag a bite. Dax has never had bacon before and he can't believe his taste buds!

Ensign Dax flips on the autopilot switch and sleeps most of the 150 miles to our destination.

7 counties away in a remote corner of Perry County is a gem of a wildlife sanctuary set in 600 acres of old growth forest in a swamp environment.  Reptilian wildlife teems in the 4 oxbow lakes where bald cypress and tupelo trees grow in the lakes.

Welcome to Alabama's version of the Okefenokee Swamp! Why I've waited for 6 years to come on a cold enough day that the alligators and cottonmouth snakes are dormant.

Gator bait, my crew is not!

7 miles of trails, all explored.

 As it's underfunded and dependent on volunteer labor, many trails are hard to follow with so many downed limbs and missing  markers.

We four explorers ended up on someone else's property a couple of times.  Thankfully, Ensign Dax, like Cole, can sniff out even the faintest trail.

I suppose he's a keeper.

Bridges and boardwalks dot the trails.  

The 100' tall birding tower beckons to me, but I'm not about to leave the trio tethered to the base unattended.  

I can't brag that Dax earned his stripes the first couple of hours.  It was not a running day, it was a hiking day and he did not get the memo.

Eventually, he settles down.  
We discover the last long trail around Secret Lake.  Pictures don't do it justice.  The trees are draped in Spanish Moss, you can only imagine the alligators my old brochure boasts about.  Walking through waist high palmettos, not knowing what's around the corner...

We also find the grove of century old loblolly pines recently saved from logging. Apparently it took a literal act of congress to stop the chainsaws.

What an exhilarating day!

Are you ready for the architectural wonders? I'll start with the covered suspension bridge.

I didn't realize it would swing. With no sides and a nice long drop to the creek.  We regroup and try again.

Auburn University Architecture School's Rural Studio built it.

The dogs have lunch at the pavilion.  Crew chief realizes she neglected to pack herself a lunch.

The pavilion is about 13 years old and needs repairs before part of the roof collapses.  All the more reason the Park needs to be discovered by more people.  Which is hypocritical to say because I enjoyed every minute of being the only human in the entire park all day long.

I've saved the best for last: the bathrooms designed by Rural Studio architecture students.  I make the dogs hopscotch from one to another because I can't decide which one is my favorite. 

3 very different metal and wood structures with 3 very different vanishing points designed to make you forget what you went in there for in the first place.

The last is officially the winner, but the first has the most aesthetic exterior.  This is what we need at the farm along the trails in the woods.

On our way home, I screech to a halt at Whole Foods in Montgomery and we have a major picnic in our shuttle.

Feeding frenzy of beef brisket, caramelized carrots and oatmeal cookies.  

300 miles later, we dock back to the mother ship.
Another destination checked off the Bucket List.  

Where to next time, copilot?