Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pasta a la Vodka

Because this is a favorite of my daughter's and because it's Wednesday night. Also because I realize that I don't have an infinite number of Wednesday nights with my baby girl...who is actually a teenager. This is not for the diet conscious.
This is for those who just want to enjoy life while we have it.
Pasta a la Vodka
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 cup vodka
1 10.75 oz can tomato puree
1 cup heavy cream (sorry, no substitutes)
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste (a pinch does me fine)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (get the good stuff)
1 pound bow tie pasta

Cook the pasta al dente, drain.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and butter.
Add onion and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes.
Add vodka. Cook for 3 minutes.
Stir in tomato puree.
Reduce heat to low and stir in cream.
Add seasonings and heat through.
Pour over pasta and add Parmesan cheese. Toss together.
Garnish with more cheese if you like. (I like!)

Fast, easy, impressive. Let others think you've toiled away in the kitchen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dr. Oz in the Land of Oz

Just over a month ago, we got a call from the friendly folks who work on the Dr. Oz show. If you don't know who Dr. Oz is, he is a heart surgeon turned famous by Oprah. If you don't know who Oprah is, I can't help you. They were looking for a field of blooming sunflowers in the KC area. It just so happened that we had one. Yay us!

They wanted to get shots of Dr. Oz's traveling "health bus" driving in front of the field. They were out the very next week with the bus. I have to commend the bus driver. He was very good! It's not an easy turn to get onto this road...if you can even call it a road. It's technically my in-laws driveway! They did 3 or 4 takes of the bus driving down the road.

The crew set up out in our soybean field to film the bus. This is Ted walking in front as they work their way back out. The beans look really good...but I digress...

The crew. Peter (the cameraman), Dustin ( he helped Peter), and Laura (the field producer). They were all very nice. Laura thought my eldest, Sidney, was future producer material. I laughed as I have much loftier dreams in mind for her, like finding a cure for cancer or something. But being a producer is pretty cool, too.

They also got some shots of the bus driving in front of the in-laws mailbox. (They provided the flag...a nice touch.) They also got shots of us waiving at the bus, holding a sign that read: "I want to be healthy, Dr. Oz!" Then for the big finale, they had Ted and I do that pose made famous by Grant Wood in "American Gothic." I hoped it would end up on the cutting room floor, but alas! It did not.

A parting shot.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Corn Spiders!

I've always loved Corn Spiders!
(a.k.a. argiope aurantia, a.k.a. black and yellow argiope)
There is just something about them.
They are in abundance this time of year. They love gardens and I seem to provide them with lots of habitat in which to live.

I have to tell you one of my favorite stories concerning this lovely species of spider:
My babies were still very young, and being a mom of "country kids," I was always trying to find creative ways to pass the time. No such thing as "Go play next door!" Anyway, I went outside and saw a big beautiful corn spider with a lovely web on my deck. I got two chairs and plunked them in front of the spider's web, sat each kid in a chair, and quickly caught a nearby grasshopper. I threw said hopper into the web and the spider swiftly came down and made quick work of it. Now here's the best eldest looked up at me with those big blue eyes, grinning from ear to ear and said: "You are the best mom in the whole wide world!"
Why, yes! Yes, I am! (I thought at the time.)

Speaking of babies...that tan colored round blob
in the lower right side of the pic is this spiders egg sack. She is guarding it.
What a good momma!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The way things stand

It's that time of year. The time when all of the crops are in the ground...and they look good. Really good! We've had a year full of rain and just enough sun to dry things out afterwards so that the crops don't rot where they stand. Now were are basically just waiting for things to die.

See this bean field? Those beans are actually chest high on an average sized man. That's pretty darn tall and they are loaded with beans. They are now starting to turn just a bit yellow. That means that they are starting to die. Corn will actually be harvested first, because it will be ready sooner. But when the beans are ready, we will switch the header on the combine and harvest them instead. (They are more valuable than corn and if you don't get them soon enough, the pods will shatter and you'll end up with all of your profit sitting on the ground with no way to pick it up.)

The grain bins are sitting empty just waiting to be filled. This picture was taken in February which is why the grass is brown. It's now green, lush, and in need of mowing.

This picture was also taken in February, but the sweet corn that grew here this summer has already been picked long ago and mowed off. It is now a field of weeds. Very soon, we will be busier than the bees on the sunflowers. We hope!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

How quickly they fade

It's always amazing to me that a field can look like this one week:
Like this the next week:

And like this the next:

Poor babies!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Best Damn Blueberry Muffins

Because these never, ever fail me...because they always come out perfect...
because I want some right now...

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen, it's all good!)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/6 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F . Grease muffin cups or line with papers.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Fold the blueberries into this flour mixture. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Now this next step is very important: Mix this with flour/blueberry mixture UNTIL JUST COMBINED. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/4 cup sugar, 1/6 cup flour, and 1/2 cup butter. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.
This will make 8 (regular sized) muffins.

Make some today! You wont be sorry.

Friday, September 4, 2009

How sad is this?

Behold! Our glorious sunflower field.
Pretty darn...well, not pretty!
No problem-o! In a month or so, the birds will love it.
Let this be a life lesson to all you youngins out there:
Looks fade! It's what's on the inside that matters!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Smile and the world smiles with you!

Ted had an interview with our local news station this morning.
He actually changed his shirt and shoes for the interview...but not his filthy jeans. (Hope they filmed him from the waist up.)

See the combine in the background? It's lonely. It wants some attention. With all of the rain we've had, it's going to have to wait a bit longer...but then...then it's really going to get some attention. Crops this year are looking gooooood!

Every day, the sunflowers are getting heavier with seed. They look sad with their heads drooping, but if you look closely...

You may see a few smiling faces!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We Bow Our Heads

The sunflowers have definitely seen better days. I really can't believe they've held on this long, but they are finally crying: "Enough!"

The heads are all starting to droop.

The petals are wilting and falling off.

The seed development starts from the outside of the flower head and works it's way in...finally filling in the middle. The bees that were once circling the outside are now enjoying the center.

This flower has not quite reached maturity. See how the head is not filled in in the center?

The field has entered the dog days of summer.