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Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Farina and Cupola

Thankful that the snow is almost gone. (And for good, I might ask)

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Days and days of single digit temperatures can be very taxing on all of us, but especially those of us who have animals and livestock that depend on us for their care, comfort, and wellbeing. We’ve raised llamas for over 13 years now and have never had a winter like this one. We thought we had planned well for the vagaries of a Virginia winter, but Mother Nature is a scamp and likes to keep us on our toes by throwing new challenges our way.

Our first winter with the llamas we had a 36 inch snow. It was up to the llamas’ bellies and they would not venture out of the barn. Well, think about it…..would you? We had a 6 foot snow blower that fit onto the PTO of our tractor, so ‘Road Warrior’ cleared a loop around the pasture so the llamas had a place to walk. It took about a month for that snow to melt, and for weeks, the llamas walked in endless circles around the llama loop.

Llama Loop

Then there was the winter that we had a 30 inch blizzard and lost power for 5 days. Of course, our portable generator went belly up and when you’re on a well, no power means no water. Not to mention, no heat. We had the fireplace and a Kerosun heater that we carried from room to room. For water for the llamas, we melted snow in a stew pot on top of the Kerosun. And this isn’t Murphy’s Law, it is THE LAW OF LIFE. If you wait to buy something until you really need it, it will be sold out. No generators, No portable heaters, No bottled water, No lamp oil, No batteries. It got so chilly in the kitchen that we opened the fridge door to keep the food cold.

Jesse

This year has been COLD. POLAR COLD. We had a burst pipe in the garage, but no major damage. Remember THE LAW OF LIFE? When you really need a plumber, they will be busy. Luckily we have a regular plumber and he squoze in a minute to come put a temporary cap on the pipe so we could have our water back.

It has been so consistently COLD that our freezeless self-draining barn hydrant froze. We went to Lowes to get some electrical heat tape, but there was that old LAW OF LIFE again. They couldn’t get it in and no one had any for miles around. So we took stock of what we had on hand and came up with this ingenious solution.

hydrant heater

Within an hour the pipe was clear and we had water once again.

They are predicting another Arctic blast for the next three days, so today I have been searching for outdoor weatherproof heaters in the hopes of keeping our sweet peacock, Farina, warm. But needless to say……..

Farina on rail

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Well, after our peacock feeder tray was destroyed a couple of weeks ago, we have had two game cameras focused on the area to see if we could catch the culprit.

Torn feeder tray

You can read the original story here: http://tcllamas.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/will-the-guilty-party-please-come-forward/

We caught several visitors:

There was the scavenging squirrel

a pesky squirrel

The crafty crows

a crow

The dashing dogs

rampaging dogs

Farina the peacock

Farina the peacock

The wait staff (yours truly)

Yours truly

AND….
Finally the culprit…caught on film

The renegade raccoon.

climbling raccoon 1

It’s amazing how crafty and smart those critters are. He had unscrewed the nut and bolt holding the feeder to the hook and knocked it to the ground. Amazingly all the tiny parts were right there in a pile, so it was easy to reassemble.

the damage

More amazing still was that the next night, he figured out how to lift the feeder off the hook without taking it apart.

feeder unhooked

It’s scary when you are trying to match wits with the wildlife and you realize you are losing.

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OK, what’s wrong with this picture?

Brrrr

What’s wrong is that we spent several hundred dollars and two days over the summer constructing a shelter for Farina, and he refuses to use it.

Farina's shelter

Wouldn’t you like to sit on this perch and stay dry, and ice-free?

Well, you can’t reason with a peacock. They have a “pea” brain after all.

Farina insists on sleeping on the peak of our roof overlooking his beloved chickens.

Don't hide

I think there is an identity crisis going on here.

We’ve been feeding Farina under the shelter twice a day for several months. He’ll make a trip down the hill to the “peapod” morning and evening and eat his dinner, then head back to the house to sit with the hens. He’d rather spend time with the chickens than with the peacock pair, Buckwheat and Darla, that live in the aviary.

peapod

Well, like they say, “You can lead a horse to water……..”

Farina on rocking chair

 

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The Sun winks goodnight, and Farina, the peacock, heads off into the sunset

The Sun winks goodnight, and Farina, the peacock, heads off into the sunset

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Summer Sighs Goodbye

Summer Sighs Goodbye

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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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