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Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Torn feeder tray

Between the hours of 6:00 PM, Saturday, November 16th, and 8:00 AM, Sunday, November 17th, an unknown subject approached the Twin Creeks Pea Pod and violently destroyed the outside feeding tray, savagely ripping the wire screen off the wooden frame.

It appears that the subject was in search of food and not the perpetrator of a random act of vandalism. However, the neighboring peafowl have refused to come forward with any information, leading investigators to suspect witness intimidation.

The owners of Twin Creeks Farm, when questioned, admitted to recently seeing a bear in the area. They are concerned with the safety of their free ranging peacock, Farina, whom they feed each morning and evening on the tray.

The surveillance cameras were temporarily out of service on the night in question, so there is no photographic evidence of the incident. However, on several occasions prior to the night of the crime, the cameras detected a raccoon sneaking around the area and stealing food from the tray.

No suspects have been identified at this time. The investigation is ongoing.

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Pecan tarts

I’m a child of the south and IMO there is not a better desert in the world, especially around the holiday season, than a pecan pie. And not only is it a delicious and elegant dessert, its darned easy to make. And that ranks high on the list in my book of recipes.

I have a llama trek scheduled for tomorrow, and so today I am preparing the picnic lunch. I cook a 4 course lunch that I call “trail gourmet”; starting with an appetizer, followed by a soup, then a sandwich buffet with a side salad, and finishing with a home cooked dessert. It’s now the first of October and the leaves are starting to turn. It’s a great time to serve some of my favorite fall recipes.

I have adapted the traditional pecan pie into an individual tart. I always have to be careful in choosing and preparing my trek lunches so that they can survive being carried 4 miles on the back of a llama. Mostly I have been successful. I have had the occasional batch of cupcakes get turned on their heads, but I still continue to whip them up from time to time.

These pecans tarts never fail to impress. They do look really amazing, but they are so, so easy to make. The ingredient list is short:

2/3 Cups chopped pecans
1 Cup packed brown sugar
2/3 Cups light colored corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs and 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 9” inch pastry crusts

ingredients

I must confess. I have never made pie crust from scratch in my life. I think Pillsbury does just fine with their refrigerated rolled crusts. But if you are a traditionalist, by all means, make your own crusts.

You can make these in any tart tins that you may have on hand, but since I want these to be ruggedly transportable, I use 3” aluminum disposable tart tins. They also fit perfectly in a standard muffin tin. You need to experiment with dough cutters you have on hand to find just the perfect size for your tart tin. My goldfish glass works perfectly with its 3 ¾” rim.

cutting dough

Place the crusts in the tins and ease them into place.

Next—divide the pecans evenly among the tart cups.

nuts in shells

Lightly whip the 2 eggs and 2 egg whites with a wire whisk and then add the brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and salt. Stir well with the whisk until it is well mixed and the sugar is dissolved. Spoon about ¼ cup of filling into each tart. You don’t want the filling to overflow the pie crust.

To make these little pies look really special, I like to decorate them with little pastry cut outs.

Here, I am using a maple leaf design. You can find these wonderful pie press cutters online. The ones I have are made by Paula Deen. William Sonoma has them as well. They generally come in sets of 4 with different holiday designs.

Look for ones with the spring plunger. It makes a world of difference when you are trying to pop the little pieces of dough out of the cutters without mangling the designs.

It also helps to dip the cutter into flour first.

SONY DSC

dough leaves

I place one leaf on each little pie. Here they are ready for baking.

ready for baking

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the pastry is lightly brown and the filling is puffy.

Don’t be alarmed if the tarts come out of the oven looking like erupting volcanoes. As the lava cools, the tops level back out and the major earthquakes disappear.

Remove the tarts from the muffin tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Once prepared these tarts can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Pecan tarts

Now just wait for the compliments. Yum.

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In my opinion, you are never too old to enjoy a day at the county fair. A day on the midway just brings out the kid in you. All the splendid smells battle for your attention; the greasy smell of fries and funnel cakes, the cloyingly sweet smell of spun cotton candy and spiced almonds, the earthy smells wafting from the livestock barns….

But, according to my Road Warrior, the smell of burning diesel fuel is something akin to perfume.

Tractor Pull

Every year, like a rite of summer’s passing, we always go to the Shenandoah County Fair. And the highlight of the day is the tractor pull. Farmers from all across the land bring their iron work horses, many still plugging away after half a century of hard work, and compete to see who can drag a heavy weight the furthest down the track. Amidst belching smoke, spewing dust, and ear splitting unmuffler-ed engine roar, we sit in the bleachers, eating corndogs, and cheering them on. It’s loud, it’s smelly, it’s dirty, and it’s FUN.

A visit to the animal barns is my favorite part of the fair. There’s guaranteed to be a stall of baby piglets

Photo by Kent Corley

Photo by Kent Corley

And some snuggly baby goats

snuggley goats

Then for a tour around the midway, we toss all dietary concerns to the wind, and sample our way through the mélange of greasy foods.

I learned last year that there is an age at which one must gracefully withdraw from the stomach churning, gravity defying carnival rides, but I did enjoy a spin on the broncing bull.

photo by Kent Corley

photo by Kent Corley

And we tried our hands at a couple of the midway games. Some games you just know that the odds of winning are astronomical, but there is one game where there is a guaranteed winner every time. This is the one where you aim a water pistol at a target and the first person to get their horse to the finish line first wins. I WON. First time. So I got my pick of prizes. I chose the giant snake for Bayley.

Here she is wrestling the enormous boa constrictor, fighting to the death

Snake wrestling

But apparently they worked it all out. I think they are even French kissing

kissing snake

All in all, it was a FAIRLY good day.

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I know people who detest barn swallows and will go to great lengths to discourage them from nesting in their barns. I guess if you have a swarm of them they could be a nuisance because they do, after all, poop. But we had our first nest of barn swallows this summer, and they were absolutely hysterical to watch.

We’ve had phoebes build nests over our light fixtures for many years, but we were surprised this year to discover that one of the nests was inhabited by swallows. When the chicks hatched we could see small heads poking just above the nest and initially thought there were four. But as they matured and were old enough to peek outside the nest, we discovered there were actually five. It’s hard to believe that they all fit in there, especially as they got big enough to fledge.

Barn Swallows 5 in nest

We checked on the nest each day as we were feeding the llamas. As the llamas would exit the barn, they would parade single file under the nest. All five chicks would be perched on the edge of the nest, their little heads swinging from left to right as they watched each llama pass in review.

I did some research on wiki and learned some interesting facts. The pairs mate for life and both are actively involved in the nest building and child care. However, apparently the females have a reputation for having a little fun on the side. Wiki says that “Males guard females actively to avoid being cuckolded. Males may use deceptive alarm calls to disrupt extrapair copulation attempts toward their mates.” Tsk tsk ladies.

Both the male and female defend the nest and hunt for insects. They work incredibly hard, each one dashing out for a bug and returning in less than a minute with the spoils. They are constantly on the go. Each time a parent returns to the nest, the chicks start screaming to compete for the parent’s attention. I have no idea how the parents keep up with who they have already fed, but it seems to all work out. All five appeared healthy and well fed.

The parents not only work from dawn to dusk catching dinner for the kids, but they are meticulous housekeepers as well. We’d see an adult return with a bug, stuff it in the beak of one of the chicks, then reach into the nest, and pick up a glob of poo and spit it out on the barn floor. Once the chicks got a little more mobile, they would stand on the edge of the nest, and turn around so that they were pooping outside the nest.

Watch this short video showing the chicks getting fed. Particularly watch out for the extremely rude chick that stands on the head of its sibling to take a dump and then shoves him out of the way to primp and preen. This one just has to be a girl.

I hate to anthropomorphize, but they behave so much like people that they could almost star in their own sitcom, like “Empty Nest” or “Fowl Play”.

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Imagine my glee when I looked out the window this morning and caught Farina snoozing…

peacock sawing logs

snorking peacock

waking peacock

peeping peacock

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light at the end of the tunnel

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For those of you that have been following the story of my vagabond peacock, you know that one of my males, Farina, flew the coop in January, was given up for dead, replaced with a peahen, Darla, and then miraculously returned after a 6 month winter wonderland adventure.

But this story is not about Farina, but about a wooden egg that I placed in a nest box that we fashioned for Darla.

Darla and Buckwheat

She is our first peahen and we were told by the breeder, that she would not be a year old until this summer, and it was rare that one year olds produced any eggs. But we wanted to be prepared just in case.

So we made this nest box and placed it in the corner of the ‘pea pod’ where we had seen her resting. And to give her a clue that this was her nest, I placed a wooden egg in it.

nest box

She liked the box, and snuggled up in it all winter. Every day that I would go in the ‘pea pod’ I would see the wooden egg right where I had put it. Last week, I glanced at the box, and the egg was not there. I thought to myself that it had probably gotten buried in the straw, and I would look for it later.

When I started to clean the aviary, I noticed the egg was under the perch.

egg under perch

That really threw me for a loop. How it the world did it get there. The peas couldn’t pick it up in their beaks. I didn’t think a mouse could get it out of the nest box and roll it outside. Road Warrior thought that one of the birds had kicked it out of the nest. But to what purpose? Is Darla like the “Princess and the Pea”, (no pun intended) and is too sensitive to sleep with a hard lump in her bed?

I was in a hurry, so I left the wooden egg where it lay under the perch. Then yesterday, I noticed that the egg had been moved yet again. It was now all the way on the other side of the aviary in a corner. What the heck. Are they in there playing soccer?

corner

I proceeded to clean under the perches, and lo and behold, there is the egg right where I saw it last week, and in the corner……another just like it!! Mystery solved. Darla had laid two eggs. She obviously wasn’t interested in sitting on them, and we’re not interested in hatching any little peachicks, so I collected the two eggs for examination.

They are not as big as I expected. The white ones on the left are the 2 pea eggs, and the brown one came from one of our chickens.

egg comparison

The big difference is in the size of the yolk.

Yolk comparison

I scrambled them up and fed them to the dogs with their dinner. Two paws up from the pups!!

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