Friday, January 21, 2011

The Price of Eggs

I don't actually know what the going rate is for a dozen eggs these days, but let me tell you:  I'm paying out the wazoo for mine. 

It is my mother's hobby, but my mother is not here and as such, cannot care for her own.  And I love the snow.  And going out in the snow.  And truth be told, I don't even mind the actual chickens.  In the spring.  Or summer.  Or fall.  You get my drift (ha!): chickens in the winter are miserable little buggers.
This morning, I thought I was a goner.  I had misplanned with disastrous consequences.  Baby was asleep - time to suit up toddler and collect eggs - but all my pants were in the wash.  As in, in the washing machine.  Wet.  (Oops.)  There goes a dozen eggs, to be found tomorrow frozen and cracked where they lay.

But then - bliss happened! - and I had two littles sleeping simultaneously, and as luck would have it, dry pants.  (This is preferable in 2* weather.)  So off I went, into the white wonderland (it IS gorgeous), making my exit through a side door so as not to open the garage door beneath sleeping baby.  I lept gracefully over the first drift only to land/slide on a sheet of ice and fall.  I got up and started running - lest anyone think I have a true miracle where baby naps for more than 20 minutes - this is a marathon, baby, and my clock is ticking.  All went well until I hit the first of many drifts which came to mid-thigh.  The running stopped quicker than it started and I struggled to continue forward.  (Inertia, what?)  I finally made it to the cat's house to feed him, where he caught a ride on my back to the chicken coop for some fresh water.  Refilled their food and water, fluffed straw, and collected eggs.  Then back through the wicked wonderland.  (Back to the side door, which has one of those electric lock keypads that I couldn't get to work, so had to open the garage door anyway.  Grr.) 
Back inside, with my dozen eggs and a wakeful baby.

How much do your eggs cost??

(But at least I can make these.  So it's almost worth it, right?  I keep telling myself...  Please note: I know these look rather uninteresting, but they are divine.  Just try them and see.)

Walnut Cookies
 Preheat oven to 375*.
• 1 cup butter
• 1 cup sugar
• ¾ cup brown sugar

Add and Mix:
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla

Add and Mix:
• 3 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt

Add 2 cups mix-ins (walnuts, chocolate chips, etc.)  I love them chock-full of whole walnuts, and nothing else.  They also make mean chocolate chip cookies. 

Roll into golf ball sized balls, flatten slightly, and cook for 7 minutes.  Don't try to overcook these.  You will regret it.
Won’t be brown. Will be soft and so delicious!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Memory...All alone in the moonlight" (Just Me and My Shovel)

The List.  You know the one.  Of all the things you get to do by yourself after the children are fast asleep and down for the count.  Check your email.  (Send an email!)  Read a book.  (Without pictures!)  Take a bath.  (With bubbles that don't smell like cotton candy!)  Relax.  Indulge.  Five Minutes' Peace.
Depending on their bedtime - I aim for 7pm - that gives you up to four whole hours to do with what you please.  Except I find that increasingly - distressingly - I am unable to complete the items on The List.  It has been taken over by The Other List.  The one that consists of things that you have to do, and certainly don't want to, but can't, while your children are conscious.   
Like wash dishes, meal-plan for the week, throw in one last load of laundry - okay, maybe two, take care of the chickens and cat in the snow.  Or, as I found myself tonight, shoveling the driveway.  By moonlight.
"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'entrate: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.I am fairly certain that  my sister would have this posted at the end of our driveway in the winter if she had her way.   I am equally sure that Dante was, in fact, referring to Hell, and not the drive.  But, because she is coming to visit me tomorrow - because she is the one packing up a 3 year old and a 7 month old for the hour-plus drive, and not me! - and because she hates the driveway (and because I'm just that nice), shoveling was on The Other List tonight.  Because it's just too cold to have a toddler and an infant out there for as long as it takes to shovel the drive.  Which is LONG.  (I seem to recall at one point in my teenage years measuring it, and I somewhat recall that is was .1 mile.  After shoveling tonight, I am positive that is a far smaller number than the actual distance.)  And I didn't even finish it all.  But seriously, I drive a minivan for pete's sake, and make do just fine.  She has a Subaru. 
So after freezing my patootie off (did I mention I grabbed the pair of mittens with a hole in the thumb?  Cold!), I returned inside to a balmy 65* house - I'd already turned down the heat for bedtime.  At least there are treats.  There's nothing like berries and cream to warm me to my toes. 
Try this one, served warm with cream on top. 
It warmed me right up.  Twice.

Blueberry Cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
Fold in:
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup walnuts (I prefer mine whole)
Grease an 8" square pan and spread in the batter - it will be thick.  Sprinkle on topping:

Cut with fork or pastry blender:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, in slices
Bake at 375* for 35-40 minutes.

Alternately, you can make these as muffins, which freeze well (if they last that long).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This is Not My Kitchen

On Thanksgiving, my children and I moved back in with my parents for six months.  Among the many difficulties that arise when returning home, none are truly awful.  Well, none except one. 

It is the loss of my kitchen.  I love to cook. 

Just ask my friends - I'm not half bad, either.  In fact, I'm pretty amazing in my own right.  So it's always a shock to me when I come home - for 6 months, this time around - to find myself feeling like the kitchen it off limits.  Is it because I'm the youngest, and will always be the baby, even at 29?  Is it because I like letting my 2 year old help?  Is it because Mother would rather do it herself, or that she's so anal about her cleanup rules?  No, no, no, and no.  It is because I am considered the "un-cook" in my family.  Me!  It's simply unspeakable.  I take affront.  They tell me, "Well, you make the good bread."  As if that's a consolation prize.  As if I cannot - would not even presume to try to - do anything else.  Instead, I am the designated babysitter. 
So, Wednesday morning at 4am when I woke up to drop off my parents at the airport for a 2 week jaunt to Mexico, was I grumpy?  No!  Jealous?  A little bit.... but!  But I have a kitchen for two weeks.  And it may not be my own; I may not know where everything is; but it is mine for the using. 
For two glorious weeks. 
Non si fanno frittate senza rompere le uova.