view sourceprint? 01 Ramblings from a Ranch Wife: February 2014

Random Thought:

"The darkest nights produce the brightest stars"

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentines Day Meat Eater Monday Style!

Nothing says I love you in our house, quite like a home cooked meal with lots of bacon!  We don't do flowers and candy on Valentines Day, we do food and tack!  Lucky for me, the March editions of my Food Network Magazine (thanks to my sister!) is dedicated to this glorious meat!  They have everything from bacon trivia, gag gifts, and even tips on how to cook bacon.  They even had a fabulous recipe for Bacon-Pineapple- Upside-Down Cake, which I blew up my news feed on Facebook, instagram, and twitter with!

Valentines Day falls on a Friday this year, so besides being a busy night to try and go out to dinner in town anyway, it will be nearly impossible to get in somewhere good to eat.  Throw 2 wild little boys into the mix, and you guessed it, it's much easier to just stay home.  So, like every other Friday night, I will be cooking dinner.  The only difference is that I am planning ahead this time.  Most nights I look at the clock and think Shoot!  It's 4:00!  What am I going to make for dinner?!

The best part of my menu is that most of it can be made ahead, so I won't have to spend all day Friday in the kitchen.

The Menu
Bacon Stuffed Potatoes
Bacon Wrapped Blackberry Pork Roast
Haricorts Verts with Pancetta
Sourdough Biscuits
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Red Velvet Cake

Bacon Stuffed Potatoes  (Food Network Magazine, March 2014 edition)
Toss 1 pound baby potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake at 450* 20 minutes.  Let cool.  Halve and scoop out flesh.  Mash flesh with 2 tbsp. each butter and sour cream, add 3 slices cooked bacon crumpled.  Stuff into potatoes and top with shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake 5 more minutes.

Bacon-Wrapped Blackberry Pork Roast  (Food Network Magazine, March 2014 edition)
1/4 c. blackberry preserves (I'm going to substitute raspberry because that is what I have)
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt and pepper
1 4-5 lb. boneless center-cut pork loin, trimmed
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 red onions, quartered
8 slices bacon
2 tbsp. Wondra
3 c. chicken broth

1.  Combine first 5 ingredients (only 1 tbsp. vinegar) in a bowl.  Poke the pork in a few spots with a paring knife, then rub with the garlic.  Rub the pork all over with preserves mixture, transfer to  a large resealable bag and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
2.  About 20 minutes before roasting, remove the pork from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325*.  Put the red onions in a metal roasting pan and set a rack on top.  Wrap the pork with the bacon, then set on the rack.  Roast until the bacon is crisp and a thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 145*, about 1 1/2 hours.  Transfer to a cutting board, let rest 10 minutes.  (I know you are thinking pork should be cooked longer because it should be an internal temperature of 160*, but the pork will continue cooking after removed from the oven)!
3.  Meanwhile, make the gravy:  Discard all but 2 tbsp. of the drippings from the pan.  (Place onions in a serving dish).  Place the roasting pan over 2 burners over med-low heat ans whisk in the flour until incorporated.  Add the chicken broth and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining 2 tbsp. vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
4.  Slice the pork and serve with onions and gravy.

Haricots Verts with Pancetta  (Food Network Magazine, March 2014 edition)
kosher salt
1 3/4 pounds green beans, trimmed
4 oz. pancetta , diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 c. bread crumbs

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender.  Drain, then plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Drain again, then transfer to paper towels and pat dry.
2.  Cook the pancetta in a large skillet over med. heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp.  Remove to paper towels using a slotted spoon.  Add the garlic to the drippings and cook till golden.  Add the bread crumbs and cook, until toasted.
3.  Add the green beans to the skillet and cook until evenly coated.  Stir in pancetta and season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy, Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Curled Up With a Book

I see a lot of people who are critical of Kindles, Nooks, pretty much any type of e-reader. Nothing beats the feel of a book in your hands, and the smell of the ink in it.  I admitt, I used to be one.  I love to read.  Nothing makes me happier than a good book, a cup of tea and 30 minutes quiet to enjoy it.  I have been like this ever since I learned how to read.

A year ago in December I bought myself the best gift ever.  I bought a kindle.  My whole perspective changed.  You see, the closest Barns and Noble or really pretty much any kind of bookstore is a good 4-5 hour drive away.  My library consisted of what I found at WalMart, or the grocery store.  Not a very great selection.  I ordered books off of Amazon, but generally paid more in shipping than the book was worth, then had to wait (impatiently) by the mailbox for them to arrive.  Don't get me started on the 2 big boxes of books in my basement, or the filled in bookcases in my house.  I even resorted to mailing nearly every book I read to my friend in Montana, whether she wanted them or not!  Now, I have books at my fingertips.  Finished a book, no problem, hop on Amazon and download another one.  Plus I don't have books lying everywhere!

Granted, a kindle does have it's drawbacks.  For one, I haven't figured out how to jump ahead to the end if a book is really intense and I need a little reassurance that it will end the way I think it should (I know, I'm one of those people), and I can't jump ahead a chapter or two if I'm not really getting into the book to see if it gets any better.  But, I don't have to wait a week for a new book to arrive, or am limited to grocery store romance novels.

Currently, I am reading Shadowland:  A Tale From the Dark Ages by C.M. Gray.  (You can download it from Amazon here). I'm not even sure why I picked it, it's not really my forte as far as books go, but I loved Eagle of the Ninth, and it is similar.   I signed up for an online newsletter that sends deals on books to my inbox everyday, and it probably came across that way.  I am fascinated by it.  It's pretty good.
The gist of it:
We grow up with the Legend of King Arthur ... But where did he come from? Who was Merlin? What part did the Druids play in bringing Arthur to his round table? This is the story that came before, when Britain was just a Shadowland.

Shadowland is a story of historical fantasy set in Dark Ages Britain.

`I have lived more years than I can remember, probably more than the sum of all your years combined. Kings have called me friend and brigands have sworn to burn the flesh from my bones even if they have to search all seven halls of the shadowland to find me.'

On the night of midwinter's eve, a storyteller takes his listeners back to the Dark ages and a tale from his youth.

Deserted by its Roman masters, Britain has been invaded by the Saxons at the invitation of Vortigern, traitorous leader of the Britons. Now, as the tribes unite to reclaim their land, one man must rise to lead them and become their true and only king.

What is on your Kindle this week?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Blues

This time of year is really hard for me.  It's cold outside and not much sunshine.  The ground is really slick and I have a hard time staying on my own two feet, so I can't really go for a horseback ride either.  I hate it.  I get really bummed.  It makes me tired and when I'm tired I get cranky.  I can't sleep at night and I can't wake up in the morning.  I'm just miserable and don't even want to be around myself.

Today was a good day.  The Cowboss, QT, and I took some horses to the Horse Palace to ride.  The Cowboss and I are both riding colts.  I'm riding "Freckles" who the Cowboss bought (and QT says is his horse), and the Cowboss is riding my filly "Junie B."  (Fittingly named after Junie B. Jones, one of my favorite children's book series, and her papered name is Juniper Berry something or other....).  She has a stronger personality (a lot like her namesake!), of the two and better suited to the Cowboss.  Long story short, I'm a little bit of a chicken and not brave enough to ride her just yet.  Freckles is pretty laid back, a little more my speed!  QT rode "Cowboy" who is one of the best kids horses I've ever been around.  He is an excellent babysitter and I love him!

Freckles says "I don't think I like this very much!"
The Cowboss utilized one of the round pens and QT and I had the arena totally to ourselves.  After we got over spooking at tracks in the dirt, fence poles on the ground, and banners hanging on fences, it was time to play.  QT and I played Red Light Green Light and tag.

Tag on horseback can be a difficult on a broke horse.  It takes a lot of patience and is very challenging on a green broke colt.  It is great for sacking them out though, and it is really good for young riders to build up confidence and horse handling skills.  They have to work hard to get their horses to stop, back up and turn away from you so you can't touch them.  We had a ball!  QT got to giggling so hard I thought he was going to fall off his horse!  He thought it was pretty funny that mom's horse would shy away from him every time she tried to tag him!  He got pretty good at turning his horse away from me, stopping, and backing up.  Freckles has started to turn better for me after today too.  QT told me "Today is the best day ever!" when we loaded up to go home.

I get really tired of riding with my boys.  All of the questions they ask and nonstop talking exhausts me.  I find it a challenge to keep them lined out in the right direction, not riding in front of me, or bumping into my horse as we go along, while trying to get a job done.  I really enjoyed today just playing games and not trying to work too!

My little man on my old man.  =)

Monday, February 3, 2014

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Last week was crazy!  It was busy, hectic, and overwhelming, but I think I got through it!  If you aren't familiar with the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering you can learn more about it here.  It is a huge gathering of singers, songwriters, poets, and artists.  There are also several gear shows.

"For the Birds" Cinch on Visalia buckles I submitted in the Expressing the Rural West Exhibition during the gathering 
Monday started off with me visiting five 3rd grade classes at TR's school.  Talk about being out of my element!  I teach college kids, not elementary and for a very good reason!  I got to talk to them about being a cowboy and why it is so important.  I loved it.  I put together a great little PowerPoint presentation full of pictures, and got to visit with each class for about 30 minutes.  We talked about how great cowboys are because they take care of cows, and all of the wonderful things we get from cows.  I admit, I had an agenda. This year I want to do more public service type things that will help promote my ranching lifestyle, and this fit in perfectly.  If you are interested in my PowerPoint, let me know.  I would be very happy to share it.

Tuesday I taught a cinch tying workshop.  It was awesome!  I had 9 wonderful students, including a gentleman who is 97 years young!  I really enjoy teaching my craft to interested people.  Everyone tied a cinch before they left that day.  I should have taken pictures, but I didn't.

Wednesday I started setting up my vendor booth.  I sell cinches and my friend sells Sunbody Hats and Wild Rags.  It was my easiest day last week.  I should probably mention that I helped feed cows every morning (except Tuesday) before all of my "extra" activities)!

"5 Crosses" Yakhair Cinch I entered in the Expressing the Rural West exhibit
Thursday was the opening of the gear show.  I also had class that night.  So I was late getting home.

Friday I had the gear show, I was on a panel for people who went to college and made the decision to come home to ranching, and a reception for the Expressing the Rural West Exhibit.  The panel was pretty cool actually.  There were 4 of us who are all highly educated but chose to ranch instead of a high paying job.  I really liked being able to share my love of ranching and explain why we do it.

The Expressing the Rural West exhibit is for artists and gear makers under the age of 40.  The craftsmanship exhibited at the Gallery at the Western Folk-life Center in Elko is amazing.  It blows my mind that we are all under the age of 40 also.  If you have the opportunity to see the exhibit in person, do it!  If not, you can check it out on Facebook.  Expressing the Rural West

Saturday I got to spend the day at the gear show.  I had a great time catching up with other artists, and just visiting with people.  I didn't sell as many cinches as usual.  So if you are in the market for a unique cinch, or want to see some pretty cinch pictures, check out my webpage!  Jennifer's Custom Cinches