Archive for June, 2011

London 1887 combined with the Wild, Wild West of Buffalo Bill Cody fame, this book had me laughing from the beginning. 

Young Charlotte is eager to make her “unofficial debut” into London society.  As an American with a prominent old English family, Charlotte is hopeful that her training in etiquette will shortly pay off. The English perspective on American woman was daunting.

According to American-married-to Brit Jennie Jerome Churchill (Lady Randolph Churchill), “In England, the American woman was looked upon as a strange and abnormal creature with habits and manner something between a red Indian and a Gaiety Girl. Anything of an outlandish nature might be expected of her.”

Charlotte had her work cut out for her.  As things went from bad to worse, partly helped along by family friend Colonel William F. Cody and his travelling show, Charlotte is recalled back to Colorado by her father after a series of unfortunate events involving Viscount Alexander Hambly.

The beginning is rich with antics that literally had me laughing out loud for much of the book. Crossing two continents and slightly more than 4 years, these characters had me thinking about them even after I was done reading.

My only wish was that the ending was as well-developed as the beginning. This was a fast paced read for me, and took an afternoon. Given the shorter length of the book, I thought there could have easily been a few more chapters to delve more deeply into the situation. 

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I look forward to additional books by this author.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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“What’s the point?  Isn’t that a waste of time?  I mean isn’t it just easier to get it in a box at the store?”

Yes, it probably is easier.  A waste of time?  Not in my reality!

People waste a lot. You would be surprised at all the uses you can find for stuff that most folks just throw away. Bones are one of those things.

There is something soothing about seeing your own food in your own jars; where you know how it was processed and what’s in it. I’ve had people tell me it’s a waste to can, and easier to freeze.

There is really only one thing that I freeze instead of can, and that is pumpkin.  According to the USDA guidelines, canning pumpkin or winter squash purees are not recommended. (more info here: http://www.fcs.uga.edu/pubs/current/FDNS-E-P.html and here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/tips/fall/pumpkins.html)  This has to do with the consistency of puree.

They do say you can cube and can, but that is too labor intensive for me.  😆  So, I prepare and then freeze my pumpkin puree.

And still I have nightmares.  😆  I would be devastated to come home some time and discover that while I was away, the motor on the freezer died.  Or power had gone out for an extended amount of time which resulted in the need to pitch everything. It seems to me that freezing is higher risk than canning, and a risk I can avoid if I can my food instead.

One of the things I can is stock.  Save the bones, and when you get enough, you can make a good amount of chicken, turkey, or beef stock, etc. We use stock for soup bases, gravies, and anything else we can think of. I don’t add salt to my stock, and I usually don’t need to add any bullion, either. The flavor *cannot* be beaten, in my opinion.

Making your own stock is incredibly easy- and I mean that.  Before I made stock for the first time, I was intimated by the unknown.  Once I made it, though, I determined I would never go back! 

It’s basically boil for a few hours or pressure cook the bones in water.  You can add stuff like carrots, onion, etc, but since I use my stock as a base, it seems like a waste to me to use those things and then throw them away.  You could save those items, but if you can your stock, you are double processing (which is not a “problem,” but things will be extremely soft after that point.)  I tend to do what is easiest and least involved.

Once you boil, separate out the bones/meat/fat from the liquid.  Depending on how pure you want your liquid, you can strain through a cheesecloth, strainer, or do what I do- use a slotted spoon of some sort to collect the chunks.  😆  Then process appropriately.

Another benefit to stock is how fast you can make things.  Tonight we did chicken pot pie. I made my roux and then added nearly a quart of stock (I say nearly because it was the bottom of the pot and then wasn’t canned because I couldn’t fit it in the pressure cooker) to complete the gravy.  I used leftover chicken (the stuff that was still on the bones plus some more) and mixed vegetables for the filling, and then added it to the round casserole dish that acts as a ramekin of sorts.

When I make my pot pies, I always use a double crust. This could be made in a square baking dish and I may go that route the next time, because we like leftovers.  You’d have to tweak your crust recipe and maybe do a double crust plus a single, unless you like a really thin crust.

All told, this dinner took me about 10 minutes to put everything together (including making the crust) and get it the oven. I admit, this one was not made with the focus on “pretty.”  This was made in the interest of being late and needing something fast.  I figure, you can close your eyes when you eat if you are offended by the way it looks.  😆 

The most challenging part of this dish was waiting for it to finish baking in the oven.  😀

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Dry Spell

In one.  Need some.  It’s been since November.  Seriously.  I am starved for it, and indeed, I crave it.

There is nothing better than falling asleep after getting some. There is nothing better than waking up the morning after.  Things feel better. I love that feeling of renewal.

I can’t believe how fast time has gone. You wake up one day and there you are; the reality smacking you in the face. Only a few times has there been the tease, and the promise of getting some. And then POOF. No luck.


We are in dire need of rain.  😀  It’s estimated that even if we caught up now for the year (and really, we only getting something like 8 to 10 inches annually), the damage done to crops will be still around $40 million dollars lost and will take the better part of 1/2 a decade to get back to normal.

When you live in the desert and your only source of water is an aquifer deep in the ground and when you’ve had a lot of dry years, you start to worry.  Running out of water is a serious concern.

The other side to this is that when things are so dry like this, it doesn’t take much for things to catch on fire.  And they do.  We have national forests that are closed completely to people; the fire danger so high. It is worrisome living in a giant tinder box.

Another thing that is odd this year is that we have had two bears in town.  The latest one went through a local elementary school playground, and into our Tractor Supply parking lot. I was really glad to not be there that day!

You know it’s bad when the bears hike 70 miles out of the mountains to find water.  Yep, it’s bad.

Right now I hear rumbling. I see the clouds.  While I’m grateful for having had some cloud cover and some kind of humidity, I see the lightning and can’t help but to be concerned. It is not uncommon to have dry storms here. Given that many of our annual fires are caused by lightning strikes, this is particularly worrisome to me this year.

I am ready for some action.  I am tired of being teased. Keeping my fingers crossed that the sky will deliver!

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