Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Of Chainsaws, Chickens, and Cucumbers



Cheery Chainsaws

Early in the morning, we headed out for our neighbor's place to cut firewood. After a jolting ride over the frosty, plowed fields in our old Ford Ranger (I'm thinking we should bring a jar of cream with us each time we drive across that field--by the time we get back to the road, it might be shaken into butter), we saw the trees. Papa cut away with a large chainsaw. I saw another chainsaw, and should have left it at that...but how do these things work? Papa started it for me and said to go ahead and cut off the little branches and twigs growing out of the log. I reached down to cut my 1st branch. The chainsaw stopped

"Papa!?!"

"You need to give it gas, Bethany."

"Oh! ok!"

Only one mistake and I had the hang of it! Amazing! I make sure the gas is on, and I work down the log, sawing off the little branches. Half way through, my nerves are a wreck: all that vibration basically put my hands to sleep on a bed of thorns! I painfully finished off that log, and the chainsaw stopped again. Now I know one thing: I'm not cut out to be a lumberjack. So, I started throwing logs over the fence, loading them into the truck, and moving brush to the brush pile. Then we had another exciting ride home, and I helped unload: the funnest part! Mama left my sister and I to cook dinner.

Cucumbers

By now, I've eaten so many cucumbers that I should be a genius at cooking. Several years ago, we decided to grow some pickles, and yes, we grew pickles. Our few plants produced so many cucumbers that we haven't planted cucumbers since and still we have jars full of pickles. Nonetheless, the kitchen is not the safest place for me. Meet "Disaster Lunch," the great combo of all my unforgettable dishes throughout the years. Dessert is first, and you have your choice of homemade apple pie--a bit tart perhaps, I soaked the apples in lemon juice instead of tossing them in it--, sweet potato pie (always delicious except for the time I made it for friends who had just come from half way across the continent--I forgot 1 ingredient then: sugar), and Vinegar Pie (This is truly delicious, though I still haven't figured out why, when I had two pies and gave one to friends, my sister recommended I give them both).


Vinegar Pie

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

1/4 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

3 egg yolks

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/4 tsp. lemon extract

3 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

3 egg whites

6 tbsp. sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).


2. Mix the flour with 1/2 cup sugar. Add the water gradually and cook on top of a double boiler for 15 minutes, stirring constantly, or until thickened.


3. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with the yolks and salt and mix will with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Add the hot flour mixture to the yolk mixture gradually, mixing all the time. Return to the double boiler and cook for about 3 minutes more or until the mixture is thick and smooth.


4. Add the butter, extract, and vinegar. Mix well and remove from heat.


5. Beat the egg whites until foamy and gradually add the 6 tbsp. sugar. Beat until a stiff, glossy peak is achieved.


6. Pour the custard filling into the shell (custard should be hot). Top with meringue and seal to edges of the crust. Place into the oven and bake about 15 minutes.

After eating a tart apple pie and sugar-free sweet potato pie, you might like to try some coleslaw--the only problem is that I added the cabbage, raisins, carrots, and powdered sugar, mixed it together, and it still didn't look right. So I added a bit more powdered sugar and mixed it in--still not right! I ended up adding several cups of sugar before I finally realized what I was forgetting: mayonnaise! Now if we could only mix the sweet potato and apple pies with the coleslaw, we might really have something good!



Tough Chickens



Prize (at 3 years old)


"Ruff, ruff, ruff," Ginger, our dog, said as she raced toward the chicken coop. The door to Prize's private room had been carelessly left open, so I suspected a cock fight was going on: no good! I followed Ginger to the chicken coop, and imagine my surprise and dismay! Poor old Prize was helplessly hanging by his spurs (now grown much too long for comfort) from the chicken wire fence, while a fiendish young rooster tried to peck him to death. Now, that is not how life is supposed to be in our peaceful Chicken Retirement Community! The youngest bird is just short of 3 years old; and at 9 years the grand old rooster is no spring chicken. If chickens pray, I'm sure Prize was praying for help (the Bible does say God watches over the sparrow)--and I'm sure he is grateful for his barking guardian angel with 4 feet and a tail. I quickly scared away the young cock with, "You wicked rooster!" and took a hold of Prize who was hanging from the fence. I expected him to be fidgety and uncooperative, but he was cool as a cucumber; I tried to free him, but still it was no easy task. Finally, I settled his head on my knees and carefully pried one leg free. The next leg came off the fence more easily. I carried him into his room, and held him as he recovered, breathing heavily. While he recovered, I reminisced of the good old days when I used to hold our chickens all the time and write poems about Prize. Then I went into the other room to grab some corn, and fed him by hand. Just then I noticed something tiny crawling up my arm, then something else, and another and another. Ahh!!! --There's a reason I don't hug my chickens any oftener than I have to!-- I killed the bugs and got out of there fast!

Oh, and by the way, if per chance, any of you are hungry for a chicken dinner; I have just the young rooster for you! ...but on second thought maybe not. You might need to bring a chainsaw into the kitchen to cut the tough chicken up for dinner, and I'm sure the rooster would be cruel even on the dinner table--cruel to the omnivore's teeth and a bite less than a gastronomic delight.

2 comments:

  1. Feed it vinegar for a week before you butcher it will be very tender

    ReplyDelete