Saturday, August 15, 2009
Well...July and August have been very busy months at the Backcounter and thus the paucity of blog posts. Oh well, self induced stress is not productive. The purpose of blogging is fun and worrying about missing posts is not the point....enough rationalization and on to the point of this post....Bacon....
I just returned from a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I had the opportunity to spend three days. It is such an exquisitely beautiful place. I did finally see three bison as I drove to the airport but my best find while there was not of the four legged variety....but rather...it was a culinary treat! I had the best bacon I have ever eaten and it was served as an appetizer for a cocktail party. I could not coax the recipe from the caterer and so I pursued the recipe the old fashioned way...I ate about a bucket of bacon....
As a result, I am sure I gained about 7 pounds but I do think I cracked the code and that I can reproduce the recipe... Here is my guess
Applewood Bacon...thick cut
Chile powder/spice rub
Dust bacon with brown sugar and chile mixture...bake in 350 degree oven until crisp and serve in a cone of parchment paper standing in a small silver bucket
Give it a whirl and let me know what you think
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Havasu falls Mooney falls are about another mile below the campground and are spectacular. However, the trail leading to the falls is not for the faint of heart or for those with a fear of heights or closed spaces.. It includes a cavelike tunnel and a climb across a chain ladder afixed to the rock face of the cliff. As a mother of teenage girls who of course were game to go...I had to add reason to the argument and put a halt to our progress toward the falls. Our photo was taken from the trail just before the cave tunnel. I was happy with this view and tried to ignore my inner voice that was stage whispering "jump...jump" what is it about heights that brings out the jumper in all of us? Home sweet home!! Our lovely campsite next to the creek. We were in a great location and slept soundly in our tents. Surprisingly, no mosquitos.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Reflections from the Backcounter
My calves hurt. In fact muscles that I did not know existed are hurting and might I remind you...Gray's anatomy is not a TV show for me...it was my anatomy textbook. Hiking the Grand Canyon is a laudable goal at any age and at my now ripe old unmentionable age it was a personal victory, triumph, bucket list???. Of course, the trek down was preceded by hysterical downsizing of the contents of the backpack...who needs a sleeping bag anyway??? I remain amazed at the weight of a packet of instant oatmeal and the unfathomable density of Trader Joe's dried blueberries. The pack became progressively heavier as we marched toward our goal of the Havasupai camping grounds. We reached Supai village, victorious in our accomplishment, only to have our hopes of rest and relaxation dashed by the realization that it was 2.2 more miles to the campground.
Looking a little less happy and not so enthusiastic
We arrived with barely enough strength left to lift the packs off our weary backs and still had to pitch tents and cook food....luckily, we had been given explicit instructions in tent pitching and camp making by our outfitters who conducted our pre trip instructional seminar with unbridled enthusiasm and zeal for the full backpacking experience. Armed with our new found knowledge and state of the art equipment, we dispatched with the camp set up and feasted on our tamale pie and cornbread following which we collapsed into our tents and slept throught till dawn wrapped in the tent tarp...did I mention that the sleeping bag was left at the trailhead along with my water filter and extra pants. Any strategy to lighten the load...
More on the experience later...things started to look a lot brighter in the morning once I found the spring water, a portable water filter bottle from our neighboring campers (Israelis) and the coffee.
Here are a few pics to start with. Notice our naive enthusiasm as we approach the beginning of the trail...as my daughter said as we passed hikers starting down as we were on the way out...Look at those people...they are still laughing and talking....
Peace and packing,
Monday, June 1, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
3 8oz cream cheese
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Perhaps a better view of the concept of balance is fluid motion. Our goal should be to make fluid and graceful progress toward our goals. To raise healthy and happy children, to find fulfilling work, to make a difference in the lives of those we love and those we don't yet know, to feel joy and contentment, to have meaningful purpose.
The journey is often hard. The work can be exhausting and arduous. The demands on our time exhausting. My goal in writing this blog is to highlight the bright spots on the journey; a recipe for a delectable chocolate cake, the earthy tranquility of chickens in the backyard, the joyful commonality of experience that we share ...
I hope that you will continue to read and enjoy the Backcounter Buffet as we enter our second year together. The Backcounter Buffet, that space between life and dreams, will remain full of ideas, great food and rich experience. Thanks for journeying with me....
Monday, April 6, 2009
One of the most fun but tiring activities was the Mother of all Garage Sales. We are fundraising to send the kids riding team to national competitition. It was a success but we have enough stuff left over to do it again. I would love to hear your suggestions on how to maximize the profits on a fundraising garage sale. Please leave your comments. People who frequent at garage sales are a study in diversity.It is all about the shopping experience and the cutthroat vicious bargaining. Some of the shoppers were hilarious...driving up in their BMW's while vociferously voicing their displeasure about the prices of the used clothing....."Not a dollar...will you take 25cents? If you don't ...we leave...." My friend and I took the high road and didn't get into it with the poor sports who were obviously ignoring the fact that the garage sale was a FUND RAISER!!! We let them leave without a comment and watched them drive away in the way more expensive than a year of college car. I suppose that they can afford the car for just that reason...they are willing to bargain down to the last 25 cents. Books...don't sell....used clothing sells, golf clubs...no way....kitchen items flew off the shelves and shoes were a big hit...Chime in with your garage sale stories and let me know about your best bargain purchase.
Chickens are growing and our stealth technology is working...not a hint that we have been discovered by the neighborhood HOA
Friday, February 27, 2009
It is once again time for the annual Lenten Fish Fry. Ladies and Gentleman start your engines and drive on over to the closest Catholic parish hall for another greasy but delicious fish fry. Every Friday during Lent Catholics flock to the church for a festival of fish and fun served up by our favorite knights...the Knights of Columbus. My family is a little leary this year (mom and sis) about bellying up to the table as last years fabulous plate of fried fish was a gastrointestinal fiasco....enough said...use your imaginations.....But undaunted, I will forge ahead and find my fish fry tonight...moderation is the key..remember it is all you can eat but maybe we should say change that to all you should eat!!!
Chickens are now teenagers and are happily clucking, eating, drinking and doing the unmentionable in their new cadillac coop which is predictably in my garage given my level of schoolgirl guilt about their illegality. I am confident that the neighbors know we are harboring fugitive fowl on our property. My husband continues to assure me that his carefully constructed cadillac coop really looks like a dog run and so it should remain under the radar. Can a chicken be taught to stop clucking? The newest additions, the Aracauna chicks are now two weeks old and are losing their peep fuzz...Looks like they will be brown ...all I care about is the blue egg potential. This weekend the little red hens (4 Red Stars) will be graduating from Chick starter food to Chick grower....They tried some chopped Kale and didn't really like it ...maybe too small yet or on the other hand ...there could be something about Kale...my sis seems to have a weak constitution where Kale is concerned....a little visit to the ER this week but that is another story for another day. Suffice it to say she survived and has been rescued by a dear MD friend who it appears has been reading my blog and is NOT a supporter of the chicken project. You know who you are....send Good Chicken Karma my way please.
Peace, peeps and fried fish,
Friday, February 20, 2009
Coyotes are on my mind. Last night we had a coyote chorus right outside our window that went on for a half hour. The finale was the cacophony of the yip yapping victory screams that accompany a kill. Yikes...I think they have hit on the scent of the chickens in the garage. Construction on the camo coop began in earnest today and we are modifying the design as we go. The coyotes last night were rather centering. Function over form at this point. I do not want to have to run outside in my underwear to fend off marauding coyotes. This will be interesting. But...time is of the essence as the chicks are peeking over the top of the rubbermaid container at this point.
More on the peeps later
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Red star hens;. We will see...Gwendolyn, Henrietta, Josephine and Tallulah are quite the little talker squawkers. Now all human conversations surround best practice coop construction and gathering of inexpensive but effective materials to meet the three tenets of the coop project:
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Reflections from the Backcounter
Thanks to Polly and Alisa for commenting on the chicken post. It is so great to hear from you! Polly wants me to repost the no knead bread recipe
No Knead Bread
4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ tsp of dry yeast
½-3/4 cup coarsely chopped olives
1 clove sliced thin garlic (roasted in olive oil)
Mix dry ingredients
Add 2 cups cold water
Mix with hands for 30 seconds. Let rise covered for 12-24 hours. The slower the better
Knead for 30 seconds on floured board add flour to keep from sticking.
Put in greased bowl, cover and let sit for 2 hours
Drop into preheated dutch oven (450 degrees) Bake for 30 minutes with lid on and 15 minutes with lid off.
My family and friends think that I have taken leave of my senses but truly the chicks are darling and no trouble at this point. We had a few dramatic moments yesterday while we were trying to sort out the height at which to place the heat lamp. The chicks were alternately huddling for warmth and panting for mercy as they were being slowly roasted by our overly zealous efforts to warm them up! Pictures to follow, slight technical difficulty today as I cannot find the cable for my camera to transfer the pics to the computer. (Kids!)
Saturday, January 24, 2009
LOL I hear you...thanks for inquiring. Red Star chicks get their name because it's a guarantee they are all females. When they are hatched, the white chicks are
roosters and the red ones are females. They are the brown egg layers and very hardy. How many chicks you want as laying hens is up to you :). When they start laying you will have eggs everyday. Maybe some will skip a day, but will make it up either in the early morning orafternoon. So if you get 5 chicks, you will have five eggs a day. I will be getting White Leghorn chicks this next week and they will be a couple days old. (So cute) They're still cute even when they grow older. They follow you everywhere. You are like their mom. They are the white egg layers. They are a smaller bird and very hardy as well. They aremostlyused for commercial eggs. Anyway if you are interested I do have starter kids that include: heat lamp, water dispenser, feeder, 10 lbs of chick starter feed and wood shavings for $60. I keep all my chicks in the garage or laundry room in a dog kennel of some sort until they get around 3-4 weeks of age. Put the wood shavings on the bottom inside the kennel for absorbing their messes. Very easy and fun. Feed is usually free for all and make sure they have clean water at all times. If they are in the garage, the heat lamp will be either on top of kennel or near the door entryofwarmth. They will start getting their feathers in a couple of weeks. I will send a pic of my set up.
When they get older, they will be fed chicken scratch or chick starter and grower feed. It's bigger granuals for them to fill up faster on. They need to protein in their young systems. As they become adults which is within a few months, they will love to eat anything. We usually feed them are bread scraps, fruit scraps, any grass they you grow they will love, noodles, anything that's not meat. Layer feed pellet form is a must when they are laying age. This helps them produce and it has the vitamins they need. They need calcium also. What ever you need to do to get calcium in their diet is up to you. They are very quiet except when they lay an egg. Which usually last like 20 seconds. They start cackling (bragging) that they have laid an egg.
Anyway, let me know :) what ever you decide.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Monday morning quarterbacks in the US are analyzing and reliving each minute of the Arizona cardinals game this weekend while I am still analyzing the facts and trying to make sense of my weekend. It is Monday and my Christmas tree is still standing in my living room, my canine companions are gracing our presence with their uniquely nauseating odor of dirty dog and laudry remains piled in my laundry room. This in spite of a non stop frenzy of constant motion, errands and cleaning beginning Saturday morning and ending at 11 pm last night when I collapsed into a heap of fatigue. Maybe I should consider leaving the tree as a decorative element in my living room. Where is it written that an artificial evergreen cannot moonlight as a houseplant? I am definitely seeing the potential and the dog odor is becoming familiar...soon I will be crawling around my house through tunnels carved in the papers that are piled to the ceiling. I can actually see how it can happen. In a house with three dogs, two cats and three children (the fish thank heavens are history), I imagine the refuse could pile up in record time. We would not need thirty years to look like hoarders. In fact, as I look at all of the tree ornaments...maybe I do have a hoarding tendency...Is this the beginning of becoming an old woman with cats, quilts and paper bags stored in my dishwasher? Food for thought. Looking forward to Tuesday...never look back....it may be a frightening glance over the shoulder
Sunday, January 11, 2009
17 large lemons, preferably organic
Two 750-milliliter bottles grain alcohol
5 1/2 cups water
6 cups sugar
Wash and dry the lemons. With a paring knife, remove the ends. With a vegetable peeler, remove only the yellow rind, leaving the pith intact. (Squeeze juice from the lemons and reserve for another use.)
Place the lemon peel in a 4-quart Mason jar with a rubber-seal lid. Add the grain alcohol, making sure the lemon peel is completely covered. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking the jar once each day to agitate the lemon peel.
On the 13th day, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and remove from the heat, stirring until it is dissolved. Cover and let cool to room temperature.
Place a colander on top of the saucepan and strain in the contents of the Mason jar. Discard the lemon peel. Stir to combine the liquids, about 1 minute. Transfer back to the Mason jar. Store for 3 weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking to agitate the liquid twice a day.
After 3 weeks, transfer the limoncello to smaller bottles that can be sealed with rubber stoppers. Store bottles in freezer. Serve directly from the freezer.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Raise her rent? Are you kidding me? The woman should be run out of town on a MUFFIN TRUCK !!!! At the very least, an unannounced visit from the restaurant health inspector is in order. My sister has now been publicly branded with a Scarlet M in the middle of her forehead (waistline) No longer can she anonymously stand in line for the morning caffeine hit and pastry. Her morning routine is forever changed as the villagers are now watching and weighing the caloric impact of every morsel that passes her lips.
I can't make this stuff up! This could be a Seinfeld episode, remember the soup Nazi?
So, the next time you are standing in line for your morning muffin and favorite caffeinated beverage beware of the person behind the counter. You may just get a public commentary on the "state of your weight"....beware of the Muffin nazi and feel free to voice your concerns at http://www.backcounterbuffet.blogspot.com/ . Please voice your support and shared sisterly outrage (or your favorite muffin recipe) by posting a comment of support for our kindred spirit and muffin topped mom, Laura. She has assured me that she will respond to all comments once she has completed her Muffin recovery program, Muffins Anonymous. (MA).
Peace and poppy seeds (my favorite muffin),