Sunday, February 28, 2010

Moving Midway

This weekend I had the pleasure of watching one of the better documentaries I have seen for quite a while. Entitled, Moving Midway, it explores a southern plantation that has been in the family for over 155 years. Film critic Godfrey Cheshire, documents his cousin Charlie Silver's attempt to move the buildings on this plantation, after development threatens the property.

Cheshire not only chronicles the moving of the plantation, he also examines how the Southern plantation way of life affected American culture and attitudes. During this process, Cheshire comes into contact with Dr. Robert Hinton, whose grandfather was born into slavery at Midway Plantation. And, as it turns out, Midway Plantation has a new branch of the family tree that had remained silent.

I found it to be a very thought provoking film that explored how culture portrays the fantasy of Southern plantation life. Cheshire also shares the thoughts and feelings of his extended family, concerning the moving of the buildings.
It you have a Netflix account, I hope you will take the time to put this on your queue.
If you would like to learn and/or read more about this documentary you can do so here. If you would like to see photographs that chronicle the move of this property you can do so here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Farm Olympics

A few days ago we had some spectacular weather. Blue skies, warm temperatures, and abundant sunshine filled both weekend days. We spent every conceivable moment outside. Finally, with some natural light, I took the camera out for a walk.

It started out innocently enough. While snapping some good shots, I caught Toots and Charlie on top of the hay roll. What a sweet couple.....and then it started.

Toots jumped off the hay roll and Charlie followed.

Then she decided to attempt the Superman leap over the roll.

Her brother followed, but didn't fare so well.

Of course Charlie tried to stay on top of the games.

There was hay in hair, in pockets, up noses, and everywhere in between. I am wishing I had a hay cleaning problem to look forward to this weekend. We are expecting a rain/snow mix for tomorrow. When is the cold weather ever going to end?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Look who's in the garden...

We are truly fortunate, here on our small farm, to have plenty of space for a garden. Secret Agent Man does the tilling and he also like to supervise the planting of the seeds. I like to try different kinds of seeds and tend to prefer natural seeds that you can find here. One of the problems that we face is weed overgrowth. I am sure you are laughing at this point, I mean, what garden doesn't have weeds? But, we like to travel with our children during the summer and we don't always have the time to care take a large garden.

So, Secret Agent Man has been working on our garden plot. It is now divided into four sections with a long section in the back, toward the fence line. You can see that he has made a rock walkway and yes....he did carry/shovel all the rock himself. He is deceptively buff like that.

At the intersection of the walkway, Secret Agent Man has plans to place a garden statue. Something in keeping with the dignity of our garden and, of course, serene and gorgeous.

He was thinking of something like this.

I, on the other hand, have this in mind.

We shall see who wins people......we shall see who wins......

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chess Pie

Today I baked a Chess Pie using a recipe that comes from my mom, The Babs. She baked this pie when I was growing up, and I always loved it. General history states that the Chess Pie actually originated in England. It likely contained nuts, dates, and/or raisins. Today Chess Pie is a southern speciality. Most recipes call for the same ingredients. Basically eggs, milk, vanilla, and butter. Some variations are cornmeal, vinegar, and flour. I have run across some recipes that actually call for cream.

The name, "Chess Pie", is really of unknown origin. Some think it refers to the phrase, "It's just pie". Or, if you have a really good southern accent, "jess pah". I also found a reference to this pie keeping so well in a pie chest. Thus, the name, "Chest Pie". Whatever the name, the creamy custard filling is so good that you won't care where the name came from.

This recipe from The Babs contains cornmeal, vinegar and the other standard items. So, let's get started baking. I don't think The Babs will mind if I share her recipe.

Chess Pie

1 1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp vinegar
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Cream sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Pour mixture into the pie shell and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. I like to use the premade pie crust that I can use in my own pie plates.

Generally I find that my pie is done in about 45-50 minutes. Allow the pie to cool and the filling will settle just a bit.

Enjoy! You can see by this picture that we already have.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to The Toots

Happy Birthday to our beloved Toots.

A softball playin', gum chewin', phone talkin', braces needin', phone talkin'....

sweet, sweet, girl that we couldn't do without. Happy 9th Birthday!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I like 'ta died, I tell ya....

For the past couple of weeks it seems like we have received inches upon inches of snow. Blowing snow, drifting snow, and school-cancelling kind of snow.

But, today the clouds parted and the sun shined down upon the farmette.

So, as soon as I got home from work, I threw on some clothes and took myself outside. Out to walk on our country road, with my ipod, enjoying the weather. It was all wonderful until I noticed the dogs barking right beside me. I glanced around to see the electrician, in his van, right behind me. He had a big grin on his face. I have no doubt he thought it was funny that he had caught me out walking in a pair of flannel Christmas tree pants, while wearing my husband's Carhart jacket. Oh, and I had my hair up in a big, crazy clip. To say I was mortified just does not cut it.

This is all of the outfit you will get to see.
I like 'ta died, I tell ya....I like 'ta died.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Apricot Glazed Chicken

We are at home again, due to the snow. Not good for the school situation, but excellent for trying new recipes. Tonight we had Apricot Glazed Chicken for supper. You absolutely need to try this. So, let's get started.

You will need:
one package of bone-in chicken breasts
1 8-ounce bottle of Catalina salad dressing
1 envelope of dry onion soup mix
1 cup apricot preserves

Mix soup mix, preserves, and salad dressing until well combined.

Pour glaze over chicken breasts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. While the dish is baking, frequently spoon glaze over the chicken.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

A poem for Valentine's Day

Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle -
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea -
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, February 12, 2010

What every good southern woman needs to know...

A couple of years ago my friend, Southern Fried Momma, gifted me with a cookbook quite unlike any other. Entitled, Being Dead is No Excuse, it provides a bevy of true southern recipes. And, because SFM knew I needed some schooling in southern ways, it also provides the gentle reader with all the social and inside rules for hosting/attending a southern funeral. Because, let's face it, a funeral in the south is a serious social ritual. It is expected for friends of the bereaved family to deposit scores of prepared casseroles and traditional funeral fare at the home of the deceased.

Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays are the genius pair who explain everything from what to do with the, "eternal slick ham platter", to how to write a thank you note. Their best advice for the latter is to, "lay it on with a trowel".

A humorous read for certain and the recipes are not lacking. One of my favorites is for the southern classic, Cheese Straws. I made this recipe last week and created some wonderful cheese crackers. I know.....I know....they are not in the true southern squiggle shape. But, tasty nonetheless. Do try the recipe listed below.

The Ladies of St. James' Cheese Straws

4 cups all-purpose flour, measure before sifting
2 scant teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
4 sticks of salted butter, melted
4 (10 ounce) packages of extra-sharp cheese, finely shredded
5 dashes Tabasco
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Sift the flour, salt, and cayenne together. Work the melted butter into the shredded cheese (with your hands!). Note, the recipe read 4 sticks of butter, approximately. Use the amount of melted butter to produce a consistency appropriate to your cookie press. Incorporate the flour mixture a little at a time (still using your hands). Add the Tabasco and Worcestershire to taste. Fill the tube of the cookie press. Using the ribbon disk produces a real bit, while the smaller disc produces the familiar squiggle.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes, or until firm to the touch and slightly brown around the edges. Squiggles take only about 10 minutes.

Makes about ten dozen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Whenever you do a thing...

Whenever you do a thing,

though it can never be known but to yourself,

ask yourself how you would act

were all the world looking at you,

and act accordingly.

Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Forgotten photos and the Gradyville Flood of 1907

Last night, while going through some photos, I came across a file that I forgotten existed. One of my favorite things to do is have Secret Agent Man drive along the countryside, while I attempt to get some good photos. Typically this means that I say, "stop!", he brakes, backs up, and then I take a picture. I have to say, he is very understanding about this.

I also have to say I am missing the sunshine and fields full of tobacco.

I found this photo of a cow giving me a good, "MOO".

I also found this photo of some funky tree fungus. Interesting, yet gross at the same time.

During the particular country drive we were on, we stopped at a church cemetery. I have to admit that I think cemeteries have their own unique beauty. The older headstones often contain beautiful lines of poetry or special verses. I was intrigued when I came across this stone, as it was the grave of a child who died in the Gradyville Flood of 1907. This was not something I was familiar with in our area. After a little investigation I came across the following article that was printed in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN, July 9, 1907.

"Louisville, KY, June 8th....Twenty-one persons are dead and the village of Gradyville, in the southern part of the state, is almost destroyed as the result of a cloudburst, which sent a volume of water down upon the place shortly after midnight.
The storm began about 10 o'clock last night and increased in intensity until 12:30am, when its height was reached. The cloudburst turned Big Creek into a torrent, which poured a great volume of water down upon Gradyville.
Nearly every house in the place was washed away and those who met death were drowned or crushed to death in their houses as they were torn from their foundations.
Gradyville has a population of about 150 and is eighteen miles from a railroad."
The article goes on to provide a complete list of those who perished. Interestingly enough, there are some names on their that might be of relation to Secret Agent Man's family.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The family daredevil

This tiny person......high on the my daughter.

Snowboarding with great abandon.

Trying her best to stay upright.

Enjoying every moment.

Even when she crashes at the end.
There are other creatures, however, who prefer to snuggle in the house.
Wrapped up in the blanket, with their buddy, in the upstairs office.