Domestic Diva and State Fair Winner!

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , , , on September 5, 2009 by xxxicana

bandana, cropped

Never thought that I was going to adapt to Nebraska . . .  but I realize now that my upbringing pre-adapted me to Midwestern living.  My grandmother taught me to embroider when I was in kindergarten; I still embroider as means of keeping busy while watching TV [after all, idle hands are the Devil’s playthings].  My Mom and Grandmother can/canned, so I learned to appreciate the process of “putting up” food for the winter.  My Mom has recounted her childhood memories of her grandmother drying squash to make calabazitas in the winter.  I vividly remember my Grandmother’s chokecherry jelly.  On a couple of occasions I helped my Grandma roast, skin, and bag Hatch green chilies.  If you check out Onion Tear’s Blog, you’ll see that this tradition has been passed on to my daughter.

sanchez women[I “stole” this photo from Onion Tears Blog . . . 3 generations of crafty and domestic diva women]

This culinary “herstory” is not the stuff of books, but rather of tradition.  Generations of women, from many different cultures, regions, and walks of life have passed down food preservation techniques, recipes, arts and crafts, and other over-looked domestic tasks.  However, how much do we acknowledge these oral traditions, folkways, and women’s experiences?  For me, cooking, canning, embroidering, and other domestic tasks provide great personal satisfaction.  Now that I live in Nebraska, I have found a means of showing off the skills I learned from my mother and grandmother — the State Fair.

expo bldgThis year I entered four projects:  embroidered tea towel and pillowcase, canned Hatch chiles and escabeche (mexican pickled cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and onion).  I won three ribbons — the escabeche didn’t win (the vegetable colors faded and I think the taste might have been too “exotic”).  So, here’s how things turned out . . .

1st place pillow

First Place Ribbon for Embroidered Pillowcase

pillow case

This is the full view

2nd place tea towelSecond Place Ribbon for embroidered tea towel

tea towelFull view

I thought I would take 1st place by capitalizing on the Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign.

But I was blown out of the water by the first place winner

1st place tea towelVery nice work!

2nd place hot peppersMy New Mexican Hatch chiles won a Second Place Ribbon.

cannerMister Man gave me a HUGE pressure canner last Christmas . . . I had to wait until this summer to use it.

Now I am able to can all kinds of things, including . . .


winnerHere I am in front of my chiles.

Note the western shirt . . . when my sis and I were little, our mom ALWAYS got us new cowboy shirts, jeans, and moccasins for the Monte Vista, Colorado Stampede.  I still love to wear western shirts . . . especially the grotesquely gaudy fringy types!

After checking out the exhibits it was time to get food.  Mister Man and I opted for Polish sausages with onions and peppers.   Following up we had dessert . . . .

cakesFunnel Cakes!!!

funnel cakeCaught in the act!

While we were sitting eating our deep fried dough and probably laying down a coating of cholesterol inside our arteries . . . I noticed this food vendor . . .

beef sundaeNebraska is a major beef producer . . . but what the heck is a Beef Sundae?????  I didn’t have the nerve to ask.

Regardless, the notion is just gross!

So that was our State Fair experience.  We didn’t stay for the evening’s entertainment: Brett Michaels.  I didn’t care for Poison the first time around, I wasn’t going to be tortured by him cover bad hair band  tunes out of tune.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

More Domestic Diva stuff.  Yesterday I drove out to Martin’s Hillside Orchard to pick peaches and raspberries.  I picked up a small bag of apples since it’s still a tad early for the really good apples.  I spent about an hour gathering this beautiful fruit.  The peaches are DIVINE!  I’ve never eaten a fresh picked peach.  The scent wafting from the fruit in the trees was intoxicating . . . I ended up picking 20 pounds!  We’ll eat some, I’ll make a cobbler or two, and then I’ll can the rest for later in the winter.

fruitSome raspberries will be individually frozen and packed.  But my favorite is raspberry jam, so I’ll load the canner up for that.

Speaking of canning, I’ll be directing a boiling water canning workshop next Saturday for Community CROPS.  We’ll be canning tomatoes.

So . . . that’s some of the recent news from Lincoln, Nebraska.  Henny and Penny are doing well, laying progressively larger eggs.  Balam and Amby (who’s nickname is now Bunny) are getting along very nicely now and chase each other around the house.  All’s right and well in our little home.


Posted in Musings on August 29, 2009 by xxxicana

Well, Amby has been with us nearly a week now.  Balam seems to have slowly come around to accepting the little guy.  Today Mister Man found them napping together on one of the chairs.  Now that Spot has gone, Balam has taken over as senior cat and appears to be acting the part!  Amby shows proper respect, but now and then dares to chew on Balam’s tail.  Evidence of their growing relationship can be seen in this photo:


Balam is kind of like the 300 pound gorilla . . . so, one can’t blame Amby for showing a little caution.

Otherwise, Amby is a pretty good kitty.  He walked right into our home and hearts.  He loves to nap with us, he sleeps politely at the foot of the bed, and LOVES to watch TV.

watching tvWe’re keeping him away from our liquor for fear that he may be too much like us!

hey that's my perch

Amby does seem to be part parrot!

parrotToo cute!

I’ve been remiss in posting about the chickies . . . I’ll update on them soon.  They are fine and are laying eggs that are 75% full size.  Henny and Penny are getting SO big which is good.  It’s been a very cool summer which may mean we will have a cold winter.  I think the hens will keep each other warm as the temperatures dip.


Posted in Musings on August 25, 2009 by xxxicana

So, I submitted an adoption application to the Cat House (yes, that’s what they call it).  We had intially wanted to adopt a kitten named Edward since he had perfect posture.  Alas, when we went in, he was in quarantine for some virus.  Looking around we found a little guy and his sister.  The sister had just been adopted and he was so cute! Amby is his name — why, I don’t know.  He isn’t restful but rather restless.  Here’s our new little guy:

amby on the shoulderAmby loves to sit on our shoulders . . . he’ll climb up on his own.  I now have bloody tracks all along my back from him climbing up!

car and amby

Balam is non-plussed . . . well, actually he’s a little hostile.  He took over Amby’s blankie

balam on mat

Amby doesn’t let it go down without a fight

kitten in a bag

Amby likes to hide in the bag and then jump out!

touching nosesBecoming familiar

AmbyMy little guy.  He loves to nap with me and slept at the foot of the bed.  I think he’ll do!

Ode to Spot

Posted in 1 on August 15, 2009 by xxxicana

I come home to the echos of your footsteps.  I hear your voice when I know that it is not there.  I know that you are gone but I look for you around the corners.  I miss you and know that I did not love you to my full capacity.  I shed a tear here and there for myself . . . knowing that my sorrow is mine not yours.  You have moved beyond and rest in the slumber of the ages.  I endure hoping to find you and all the others that have passed on before.

A sorrowful parting with our cat Spot

Posted in Musings on August 14, 2009 by xxxicana

Yesterday our cat, Spot, passed through the barrier between this and the nether worlds.  Unfortunately, Spot had chronic liver malfunction due to his advanced age (15 years).  I was lucky to be Spot’s adopted mother for about 7 years — but many people loved and cared for Spot over the course of his long life.  Spot’s “real” mom, my sister Shelly and her family are surely missing their little cat.  Larisa, Tom, my parents, and many friends and neighbors all cared for this naughty whiny cat . . . he had a way of endearing himself to everyone.  Here are a few pictures of Spot:


Our last hours together, Spot and I spent snuggling in my chair.

spot and balamspot and balam2

We caught the kitties in this playful pose last week.

spot in his chair

Tom and I miss our little weasle cat so much.

Dear Spot, Rest in Peace

We finally did it . . . ate the pullet eggs

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , on July 14, 2009 by xxxicana

Mister Man and I were pretty busy this weekend.  We didn’t get around to eating them until Sunday evening.  I made Huevos Rancheros topped with Mexican white cheese.  Here are all the eggs collected since July 4th:

HP eggs

The eggs cooking in sauce:

HR cooking

Huevos plated

plate of HR

Yesterday I made pickled vegetables, Mexican style (Escabeche)



How to lay an egg

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , on July 12, 2009 by xxxicana

Either Henny or Penny laid an egg this morning . .  and I was able to catch the process on video.  Nesting thru crowing took about 12 minutes.   This video is of the last few minutes; you can hear the egg drop.  Oops . . . I didn’t put enough nesting material in the box.

The girls have gotten quite big and should probably get even bigger now that I’ve switched them to layer feed.

Here are a couple of other photos from the garden.


Tom was going to throw out these old work boots, but felt bad to let them go.  Instead I put them in the garden and planted petunias.  The leather will degrade over time, but meanwhile we’ll ejoy the silly juxtoposition.


I planted a row of sunflowers for the winter birds.

P1010011Potatoes growing in a recycled container.  I’m hoping to get a good crop of little reds.

Mister Man and I attended Zoofest last night.  Here’s a photo with our pal Pablo

zoofestI got a new rodeo style top for the occasion!

Chickens don’t like mice

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , on July 8, 2009 by xxxicana

Fortuitous circumstances found me with my camera just as a mouse tried to run the gauntlet of the backyard.  The mouse did get away . . . but I’m not sure if it survived.

Just a quick post of yesterday’s antics on the S & M Ranchette!

Hey Baby, it’s the 4th of July

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , , on July 5, 2009 by xxxicana

One of our girls decided to celebrate the 4th of July by laying her first egg!  Our party had just started when someone noticed there was something in the coop . . . a little brown egg.   The girls are on their way to helping us eat local, fresh food.  Mister Man and I were as proud as new grandparents!  Here are some photos from yesterday:

1st eggThe Proud Grandpa

(notice the resemblance?)

car wth 1st eggThe proud Grandma

chickies in coopThe mamas

Early arrivals to the party were witness to the first egg . . . thanks guys for sharing this great moment!

dave, joan, timDave, Joan, and Tim

duncan, tomDuncan and Tom

4th of julyFolks enjoying food, drink, and conversation

Our party turned out to very fun, casual, and relaxing.  Here are Joan and Kim enjoying the evening:

joan, kim

Entertainment was provided by Tom Martin (playing his new National), Stan Martinez (drums), Pablo Rangel (harmonica), Gunter Voelker (Guitar), and Tom Voelker (harmonica)

july 4th jam 2

(left to right: Pablo, Tom, Stan, Gunter)

Phew, another great party . . . the day after has turned out to be exciting.  While Mister Man and I were enjoying our coffee outside, another egg was laid.  I took video of the process . . . .


(nesting material is shredded bills, thus foiling (or should that be fowling) identity thieves!)

egg #2Hen fruit #2

Proud mamas

I always thought that chickens squawked when the egg was popping out . . . but we have now learned that once the egg is laid the hen jumps out of the coop and starts yelling out “hey! look what I did!”  Since we can’t tell the chickens apart we don’t know if only one is laying or both . . . but from the video you can see that both are happy about the new egg.

Pullet eggs are the first eggs laid and are small.

egg #2a

Comparison with store bought large eggs

eggs in carton 2

The only down side to this is that I just bought a 50# bag of feed for growing chickens.  Now I’ll have to go back out to the Tractor Store to get layer  feed.   Nevertheless, Mister Man and I are so happy with our chickies – we enjoy their company and antics.  Hope y’all enjoy them virtually as well!

Why Nebraska’s state motto is “The Good Life”

Posted in Musings with tags , , on June 19, 2009 by xxxicana

Lincoln has a minor league baseball team — The Salt Dogs.  Mister Man and I venture out a couple of times each season to watch –ALWAYS on a Wednesday.  Why?  Because Wednesdays are Wiener Dog Race nights.


Not only does Nebraska have the second lowest rate of unemployment in the nation, but we have really exciting events to please the crowds!  Here’s a local newsman’s coverage of the Wiener Dog races . . . wait for it . . . race is at the end of the video.

ps:  photo of weiner dog flagrantly copied from