Wednesday, August 29, 2012

bread! and registration!

I made what I thought was a pretty kooky salad last night, but it turned out to be pretty dang delicious. It was mostly based on the canned food I brought out with us in Komfy because I figured that it would be incredibly wasteful to throw out perfectly good food just because we were moving across the country. So this salad consisted of fresh cabbage and celery (purchased here), garbanzo beans, pineapple, pickled banana peppers, and water chestnuts, with a homemade dressing consisting of peanut butter, rice vinegar, garlic, mirin, and some Dave's Insanity Sauce. I was shocked when the bowl was emptied after dinner. We also had Rice-A-Roni with ground beef. And some feta. Because we're poor, but I put feta on everything.

Then I made The Bread. Flour, yeast, salt, and water (and a dusting of cornmeal in the bottom of the pan for that gritty goodness). Perfection in a loaf. My first batch of homemade carbs. It exceeded my expectations on all counts.

(Also, that's a random shot of turkeys in the driveway this morning. My ISO was set too low, so it's dark, but I got some flight feathers!)

We got our Tennessee plates today. We came to the County Clerk armed with passports, birth certificates, a marriage license, CA titles, CA registrations, our mortgage contract, and our social security cards for good measure. The Tennessee state website put the fear in my belly that we wouldn't have the documentation necessary to make our vehicles official (there was a list on the state website of these required documents, so I am not completely crazy showing up with a file folder full of them). Turns out, all we needed were the titles. No proof of residency needed. No proof of insurance. I drove back to the holler with a shit-eating grin on my face. (Forgive my filthy car -- it really is impossible to keep them clean out here. I don't know why Jaybird's truck is so much cleaner than mine.)

And, finally, the Nekster. I'm pretty sure he's a good three-feet long stretched out. (Also forgive the brassiere. I don't clean up before taking impromptu shots.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

cocktails make us do weird things

After a few cocktails the other night, we decided to do an interpretation of the American Gothic painting. Resembles nothing of the original, I realize this, but I thought one was in order.

We finally got our mailbox sorted out, and it was fun to get our first couple pieces of mail, even if was just the local grocery flyer and the form that we needed to fill out for the postmaster confirming our delivery information.

Jaybird cleaned the 12-gauge after a few squirrel expeditions (scored some beer coozies at the local DG, which have been used a lot since because it's been pretty toasty out).

I made some red potatoes for dinner last night based on some vague recipe I remember seeing in Sunset. I quartered and boiled them mostly done, then smashed them on a baking sheet in groups, then seasoned each serving with butter, salt, and pepper, and threw them under the broiler for about 15 minutes. The nice thing about our place is that regardless of how hot it gets during the day, it almost always cools down to a comfortable temp in the evening and at night. Even so, broiling things in the oven is a little much in late August.

The animals have become fleabags, so we had to resort to fumigating the house. I don't like the idea of everything being covered in chemicals from a Raid fogger, but I dislike sleeping with fleas even more. Freshly laundered bed linens make me happy in ways I cannot fully express.

Faucets are something that I also get really anal-retentive about. The previous one pictured was mounted very crookedly, the two handles were installed backwards, and it had a separate sprayer instead of a pull-out, one-piece unit. Jay was kind enough to install a new one for me today, but we couldn't do the bathroom faucet I picked out because there is no shut-off valve there, and it would require us to drain our water lines, which is a ridiculous waste of water. So that will need to wait until we get some more rain first.

After it cools down in a little while, I'm going to attempt to make my first loaf of crusty bread based on this recipe. The really awful cuts of steak I bought a while back were too tough to eat last night after grilling them up, so I sliced them paper thin after we decided they were not worth the vicious steak knife action and prolonged chewing required. They will make great sandwich fixings, but we need some bread on which to place said meat.

Monday, August 27, 2012

nekkie's first bird kill + compost bin

After our butchering our squirrels on Saturday, I decided to treat Nekkie to a small piece of squirrel meat, hoping that it might awaken his predatory instincts beyond moles. Lo and behold, it totally worked and he brought back what we think was either a Downy, Hairy, or Red-Bellied woodpecker (we couldn't see the head to confirm which, because well, it wasn't attached anymore). I always find it funny how he's got to bring the bird to show us first before eating it -- and he eats the whole thing, save for the biggest feathers.

We rewarded him with some well-deserved homegrown kitty crack that I only recently uncovered in a moving box (you can see it all over his head in the monochrome picture). They say only 50% of cats react to the stimulating properties of catnip, but 100% of all the cats we've ever owned get higher than a kite on the stuff.

The previous owners of our property left a very hefty pile of random wood pieces in the barn, so I fished through it yesterday and brought down 16 boards to use for building a compost bin (I had to finally put my kitchen compost bucket outside because it was overflowing, and it's been killing me to just throw perfectly good compostable foodstuffs in the garbage).

Jaybird got to work building our mutually agreed upon design -- it's 36" high and approximately 48" square, with one end left partially open for easier sifting with a pitchfork. There's an approximate 2.5" gap between the boards for good air circulation, but I might line the inside with chicken wire if debris tends to fall through too much. Or I might use black garbage bags to line it if there ends up being too much circulation and to speed up the heating process. Or I might paint it black, but I sorta like the vintage-y look to it. I haven't decided whether to put some sort of lid on it yet.

There's really only one flat part of our yard, and it tends to be shady, plus we don't want it that close to the house, so we decided to situate it near the wood shed where it will get good sun for most of the day and shade only in the late afternoon. I don't think having it unleveled will be a problem.

We think the wood was the siding to the original farmhouse that used to live here, so we faced the painted sides outward in case there's lead in the paint, and Jaybird confirmed it's cedar wood, so it should last us a good long time. And it cost us absolutely nothing! (Jay already had the screws and tools necessary to put it together.)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

we butchered us some squirrels today!

Squirrel season started in the great state of Tennessee today, and Jaybird plucked off a couple quarter pounders (dressed weight). We gave thanks for the lives of these creatures before we started hacking away at their bits.

I will probably stick to a tried-and-true method for cooking these bad boys up, like stew or a crock pot recipe. I've read that there are ways to minimize the gaminess (like adding acid, such as citrus), but I would like to try squirrel encompassing its full flavor palate first before resorting to flavor-minimizing techniques.

We calculate the total cost per pound to be about $1.20 since we got a quarter pound per animal at approximately $.30 per shotgun shell. It took us about 25 minutes per animal to butcher, and this was our first time (thank you YouTube for your video educumacation), so I'm sure that can be cut way down. Once fall rolls around, Jay can start using the .22 (since the leaves will fall, thus making it easier to see prey), which should drop our ammunition price down to approximately $.01 per kill. Of course, this is not taking into account our time spent butchering, preserving, and/or cooking said meat, or all the fun times Jay spends stalking through the forest, but folks, that's half the fun!

I bought some carrots, potatoes, celery, and onion at the Devil(Wal)-Mart today (no, I haven't stopped shopping there yet, despite my outcry at this Pre-Packaged Insanity Mecca). I feel like a complete outsider when I'm behind someone in line, and someone is behind me in line, that both have their carts full of every pre-packaged food under the sun, with nothing in the way of fresh vegetables of fruit, or even meat or dairy products that are not pre-cooked, pre-breaded, pre-fried, or pre-microwavable for that matter. I know, what a snob I am! Here I am, declaring the virtues of "local food" when all we've done today is kill a few lil' squirrels. I know killing and preparing food like this is not everyone's cup of tea, but let me tell you, it's fucking awesome and you should really try it!

Non-bloody capture for the queasy among you. (Note: don't look
at the rest of them if you take issue with animal butchering.)

Honestly, I don't know how the dog gets in every picture. (He really
wanted to investigate the kills, but was Angel Dog and heeded
our commands to not swallow one whole.)

Prepping area. Courtesy of the Appalachian Fair 2012 flyer insert.

One down. One to go.

Happy butchering!

A little more than half a pound. Fresh bushytail headed for the freezer!

Friday, August 24, 2012


So, I bought this thing on eBay about five or six years ago.

I thought it was just adorable with the cute 50's housewife and the mod fonts and figured that I'd somehow work it into my shelf arrangements as a nod to my mid-century modern decorating obsession at the time.

It sat on my kitchen shelf for many moons and proceeded to collect dust and not really add much to my vintage decor ambitions. For whatever strange reason (I blame it on the chaos of the packing frenzy), I ended up throwing this thing in a moving box instead of the recycle bin because I just couldn't bear to part with my $5 eBay purchase (and the cover art's toothy grin, bad-ass choke collar necklace, and froofy ribbon ties on her polka-dot house dress).

We were supposed to go out for dinner tonight, but things didn't end up working out, so because we were very hungry by the time we realized that dinner out wasn't happening, I decided to actually make use of this silly purchase that I ended up trudging out across the country. I used 1 of my 5 broil-a-foils making a pork loin roast tonight, and this is what I have to show for it.

Jay says I'm weird for taking pictures of our dinner plates even though I think it's very interesting to see what other people like to eat, and I plain forgot to take a picture tonight anyway, but let me assure you that my broil-a-foil worked quite well (it's kinda hard to fuck up pork loin), and the mashed potatoes and red onion/cabbage/bacon sauteed side dish I made were all quite delicious. So score one for trendy, consumer-ish inventions from the 1950s! I do plan on using the remaining four broil-a-foils in the future and won't feel at all bad about using up a consumer product that didn't make it as shelf decor in my previous mod-1960's retro kitchen.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

dishes and organizing

It can be difficult to compress umpteen linear feet of cabinet space from our previous home into a very small footprint at the holler. But I think I'm making progress. I actually enjoy washing dishes now -- it's therapeutic in a way (as long as I don't let them sit for more than a day or two). However, I am constantly vigilant about our water consumption because it hasn't rained for a few days now, and the creek is only at a trickle. We've discussed installing a much larger water holding tank for droughts like this (a funny word to me out here because in my experience, the word drought does not normally coincide with greenery, which we stil have plenty of, but I have a lot to learn about the local watershed and its ways, so until we have some level of water security, we keep a close eye on the water in the tank).

Vessels. It's an obsession, I tell ya.

I managed to fit a lot of dishes in the tiny drying rack I scored at DG (Dollar General).

Note the extra greasy hair that hasn't been washed in three days as a result of
my water conservation efforts. I did, however, finally pluck my eyebrows.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

14 years

In chronological order since last evening:

Bees and butterflies love this. Help me identify it?

I spent 3+ hours at the laundromat yesterday and didn't quite have the patience to
get everything dry. Nekkie loved scaling the drying racks with our nice, clean laundry on them.

I'm a salt freak, but not so much on my animal muscle. You can see
the difference between my and Jay's seasoning tastes.
(Mine is Montreal and his is Tony Chachere's!)

Such a snob. I can't do bottled dressing/dip/yummy-plate-goodness anymore. Email me for my super secret recipe.

Should've dressed the salad and buttered the bread before I took this, but whatever. I plan to
do a full blog post on why this is the most non-local meal ever. (And how I plan to remedy that.)

Mama turkey hen and three scraggly teenagers across the yard this morning!

Phil's Dream Pit in Kingsport, TN. Go there.

Appalachian Fair 2012!

First Place award in Tobacco.

Watch out. Not that we could find any alcoholic beverages anyway.
Kind of a Negative Nancy on the Appalachian Fair.

Want. That stove in the background there,

Natty Light coil in a rat rod.

PBR radiator overflow in the same ratty rod.

Headed home.

Clyde Dog blessed us with a perfect 14th wedding anniversary by not jumping out any windows or
destroying the house. So we rewarded him with some well-deserved down time in the back of the Taco.

This butterfly wasn't doing so well. I think Clyde Dog might've stepped on it. :(

Test shot for our anniversary portrait. (Note all the clutter on the porch
before the next one. Can't decide if I prefer clutter-y or not.)

LOVE this guy.