Sunday, November 28, 2010

Meat Pies

A couple days ago, J and I watched a show about pies. The history of, different kinds, etc. It was a total geek show. They had a bit about the old meat pies, and we were both drooling.

Since today was a lazy, snowy day, I decided to experiment and come up with a meat pie recipe. We just got done eating, and I have to admit that it was AMAZING.

So, here's the recipe.

Meat Pies

1 lb stew meat, diced into small pieces
packet of onion soup mix (I think it was a packet? I buy it in bulk, and just sprinkled a couple tablespoons into the crock pot)
1 cube beef bouillon
2 c. water

Combine the above and place in a slow cooker. Let cook for 3-4 hours.


3/4 c. diced carrots
3-4 potatoes, cut into small cubes
a bit of cornstarch mixed with cold water

Let that cook a couple more hours.

Prepare pie crust:

1 c. shortening
1 tsp. salt
2 2/3 c. flour
7-8 tbl. ice cold water
Combine shortening, flour, and salt with a fork til it resembles pea sized balls. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the proper consistency. Divide the dough in thirds. Roll out each third til it's big enough to fit in a single sized ramekin with enough to spare to fold over the top.

Put the dough in the ramekins, and scoop enough meat mixture to fill the ramekin. Fold the dough over the top. Repeat until you have 6 ramekins filled (I had a bit of leftover filling).

Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned.

Here's how it looked once we broke it open to let it cool before serving it to the kids. Yes, my husband insisted on serving corn with it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Super Heroes!

All day today, S and Z have been wearing super hero costumes.

S has been Supergirl (recognize the costume from Z's halloween costume?)

Z has been Thing from Fantastic 4. He started out wearing the costume properly, but since he couldn't zip and unzip himself for bathroom breaks, has taken to wearing it backwards, creating an odd hunchback appearance.

There's a blizzard a 'comin

There's a huge blizzard predicted today, and I don't feel ready. Last night, I watched the weather report, and the meteorologist started off his portion by saying, "Now, I don't want to SCARE you, but...." Hmm. That's not a good sign. All of the school districts have canceled their evening activities, and some schools are even releasing kids early from school.

Winds are at 40 mph here right now. Hope my pine trees don't blow over and ruin my beautiful new roof. I made J drive his big truck to work this morning, in case the snow started before he was able to get home from work. He rolled his eyes, but must have decided it wasn't worth the fight and did as I asked. I love that guy.

Now, you can laugh at me here, but now that J is in a big safe truck, and will probably leave work early, what has me most worried is my chickens. I normally wouldn't fret too much, since we've insulated their hen house, and with the light, it stays pretty warm in there. Unfortunately, the hens got in a fight last night. Injured worst was Clover, the white chicken. J was out there putting heat tape on the water dish, and things were great. He went out a half hour later, and she was bleeding pretty badly from her comb, and a spot in back of her wings. She kept shaking her head, so there was droplets of blood on her feathers, making it look much worse.

I checked on them at bedtime, and they all seemed to be getting along again.

This morning, as soon as it was light, I went out again. Clover's comb was scabbed over, but the spot in back was bleeding again, and a new spot towards the front was also looking a bit plucked and bloody. She looked pretty bad. She's never been a friendly bird, and has never let me pick her up. I was able to catch her a bit easier than expected (though she still put up a pretty good fight, which gave me hope).

I'm not sure if this is true or not, but I've been told in commercial chicken farms, they have red lights so that the chickens don't see the red of blood, and that they debeak the chickens so they can't peck each other to death. I've heard that if they see any blood/injury on a chicken, often they will peck at it until they've pecked the poor chicken to death.

Just in case this is true, I moved Clover to our small chicken tractor that we originally built for our chickens before chicken math/multiplication took over. However, it hasn't been used since we got rid of the roosters, and I haven't insulated or prepared it for winter at all. This morning, I added a ton of bedding to the box area to help insulate.

Clover was NOT happy to be moved away from her sisters. She did lay a nice, large egg for me today, but stuck on her nest for several hours. She's been out pecking and scratching for a good hour now, so I am hoping she's feeling a bit better.

When J gets home from work, he'll help me move the tractor to our now dormant garden, so she'll be right next to our chicken run. That way, she can see her sisters, but they can't hurt her. We can also run power to her little run and put a light out there to keep her warm and hopefully protect her if this storm turns out to be as big as they say.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Live like you were dying?

An old high school friend who is now a professional motivational speaker posted the following status update:
"If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?"

This sort of thing gives me a mixed reaction. Part fury, part thoughtfulness. The message implies that we need to make sure that we don't leave anything unsaid or undone, or wasting our time on things that don't really matter. If I knew I would be dying by morning, I would try to say goodbye to all of my loved ones. I'd want to spend the evening cuddled up with my kids and husband, creating a few last minute good memories. I wouldn't bother doing the dishes, paying the bills, cooking dinner.

However, I'm reasonably sure I won't be dying by morning. So, I will cook dinner (marinated turkey breast in the slow cooker). I'll do the dishes. I'll straighten up a bit. I'll put a kid in time out for hitting. I'll support my husband in his job so that he can continue to pay the mortgage, utilities and food.

It's one thing to live in the moment, but you also have to live for the future. To live fully in the moment means to not plan for the future, and that can make the future uncertain, or unbearable.

I feel like status messages like his imply that we should only be living for the moment, and not living for the future. Instead of ranting on about responsibility, I simply replied with the following:

I would certainly rather not spend my last evening holding a girl scout meeting. However, since I'm reasonably sure it ISN'T the last night of my life, I'll do so, since I think it'll have a long range positive benefit for my daughter and her troop.

a gut wrenching week

I've debated whether or not to post about this, since it involves someone else. I've also been too busy to sit down and write about it. I think that I'll tell you about why I've been so busy this week, but keep it down on the details to protect privacy.

Last Wednesday, I got a phone call from a friend, sobbing. Someone had turned her into the state for having a dirty house. DCFS investigated, and determined that she couldn't let her kids back into the house until it was cleaned up. I offered to let her have a couple of her kids stay with me and to help clean up. Unfortunately, that evening, CPS decided that it was in the childrens' best interest to be taken into state custody. I was there for the removal, and it was one of the saddest things I've ever witnessed. I don't envy anyone who was directly involved in the situation. Even now, I get a bit teary eyed thinking about it.

Since then, I've done what I could to help them out. I've worried a bit though. Sometimes I can insert myself deeper into someone's business than they feel comfortable. I don't like to think that I do that, but I know that it's been known to happen. I also can be too bossy and too blunt. I've worried that I would alienate friends by showing those characteristics in this particular crisis.

I was invited to, and attended, the family team meeting. I was not invited to court, so I didn't go. Given a facebook status post, I suspect she's angry that I didn't go. I've submitted to (and passed, Yippee!!) a background check to help the family.

I was approached today by the case worker. I may be supervising the daily visits between the mom and her youngest (still breastfeeding) baby. They also asked if I would be willing to have a couple of the kids stay with us, after getting licensed, of course. I told them I was willing, but concerned that we wouldn't qualify, since our house is pretty full. It sounds like I may not qualify to take more than one, and they want to keep the kids from being completely separated.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Patience paid off

I have tried to keep my chicken ramblings down here a bit. I suspect I haven't been entirely successful, but hey, it's MY blog. S's teacher finds it FASCINATING, and has requested I bring eggs into class and talk to the kids about it. In fact, she wanted me to bring in an actual chicken, but I vetoed the idea. I thought it sounded very messy, chaotic, and traumatic. If the chickens get boring, skip this post. So there.

Lucy, my Black Copper Marans, laid her last egg on Sept. 3. I suspected she was molting, although she didn't look nearly as ragged as other molting chickens are reported as being.

This afternoon, I went to collect eggs (wahoo! 3 were waiting- a light brown, a white, and an olive), I caught Lucy in her favorite nesting box. Interesting. She hasn't even bothered peeking in there since she went on strike.
I went out an hour and a half later, and look what I found?
I also found a lovely sea green egg, but I didn't take a picture of it. Yay!

Before, she was laying every other day like clockwork. After a molt, chickens often are less productive layers, so it'll be interesting (to me) to see if she keeps up her prior pace or eases off.


K ended up being our drama queen this year. If you remember, I sewed her that amazing medieval dress this past spring with the understanding that it would be her halloween costume budget spent there. She was agreeable.

Then, in girl scouts, they decided to do those duct tape dresses. I went along with buying the tape for that (which, admittedly, was only about $15, and it also helped repair M's costume, and we have leftovers for other ducting emergencies).

She also was invited to another party before we finished the duct tape dress, so she wore the devil costume my MIL (mother in law) gave her. I took the following picture of the kids on their way out the door to my parents' ward halloween party:Z loves being superman so much that it's impossible to keep him still when he's wearing the costume, which is why he's the only part of the photo that's blurry. He's worn the costume almost daily since.

Trick or treating was fun. We spent some of the time with J's sister and her family. They went more for looks than function, so, not wearing coats, they tired of trick or treating much sooner than us. Maybe it was the poor economy, or maybe it was the fact that we weren't out on REAL Halloween, but the candy seemed a little less ample this year. It was actually into the "reasonable" category, as opposed to last year's "Are you *&^^$% kidding me?!!!"