A Fooding Frenzy

JoAnna has been working hard in the kitchen, cooking all kinds of soups, stews, sauces and such. The chest freezer is quickly filling up with portioned servings of various deliciousness, just waiting to be lunch. As I work in the other room, the aromas drift in and start my curiosity. "What are you making?", I say. "Do you want some?", she replies. The answer is always yes.

The fresh eggs keep coming - about 3 per day. We're keeping pace with them by eating 4-egg breakfasts every few days. We're feeding the chickens store-bought food at about $1/week, so that's about 50 cents a dozen (not counting the first 5 months of no eggs). Once winter comes, we'll have to give them more food since the free ranging will drop off. It's worth it just for the entertainment they provide, let alone the wholesomeness and nutrient-richness of the produce. I can't wait to get goats.

Opening Day

Today was opening day for archery hunting deer and other big game. I headed out to the back of our property after coffee, while JoAnna helped by detaining Trixie in the house to keep her from following me out to the woods. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, to a spot in the back corner where there is little human disturbance and a hole in the fence. As I crested the ridge and was about to head down to the lower southeast corner, I saw 2 deer - running away, unfortunately. They saw me first. Oh, well. They'll be back. 5 minutes later it was pouring rain as hard as it could pour, so I headed back to the house. I arrived soaking wet, but not defeated. There were many, many times I would spend an entire morning in the woods and not see even one deer. I have plenty of days left in the season to hunt, and our freezer can hold only so much venison.

Soon after, I was enjoying scrambled home grown eggs with pepper-jack cheese and toast. I never had it so good on a hunting trip.

The rain continued for quite a while, so I stayed inside and assembled a console/entry table that was delivered free from Target.com. The engineering on these furniture items is better than it used to be, for sure. All of the parts were in good condition except one which needed some glue. Even the screws and misc small parts are well organized and labeled. The "screwdriver" they sent was pitiful, though - not that I needed it. It was like a key, and would have been impossible to use for this assembly. The resulting table looks very nice and is sturdy enough, even without the backing board that we chose to omit for style's sake. Not bad for about $120.

Soon after completing that task, we were off to the Stella Fish Fry. Just down our road about 2 miles is the place where the annual event takes place. It seemed to be a pretty good turnout, and the catfish and accompanying sides were very good. A guy named Al walked around the dining tent with a tray full of hot fish for anyone wanting more. We had more, twice. Dessert was a piece of home-made apple pie and a piece of home-made chess pie. We each ate half of each piece and agreed that they were delicious. $1 each. Here comes the cliché commercial...

All-you-can-eat catfish, hush puppies, fries and slaw (and drink)... $9
A slice of home-made apple pie... $1
Meeting the kindest people in America who are also your neighbors... Priceless

We'll be back next year, for sure.

Freeze-Dried Day

Today was a big appliance-type day. Not only did the propane-plumber-man return to finish the conversion of our gas dryer, we plugged in the chest freezer so the mega-batch of food JoAnna cooked today could be kept as frozen. At first, the freezer did not respond to being switched on, and the light in the lid didn't light up. I checked the power outlet and it was good. Then I looked at the wiring under the freezer and saw the problem. At some point during the moves (Glendale, CA to Murfreesboro, TN to Prospect, TN) the main power cord was stressed to the point that it pulled out of a little plastic splitter/distributor part. After a quick snip-strip job, I used one big wire nut to twist the 3 wires together and it was good to go. Time to chill.

Last night I took my first practice shots with my recurve bow. I used a judo point on a single arrow, and did pretty well overall. The cardboard box that was my target had just enough resistance to keep the arrow from shooting all of the way through. Deer season opens Saturday, so I'll be out there early - and we have seen deer on our property. I have to figure out how to keep Trixie the Dog from joining me on my expeditions. I know she'd love to "help", but she has a thing about chasing deer away.
I was really glad to learn that hunters are allowed to take up to 3 deer... every day! That's not likely to happen on my 10-acre plot, but I was expecting to be limited to one deer for the entire season. It will be quite an adventure if/when I do get one, because I have never dressed one out on my own. We are planning to butcher it on our own, too. At least we have lots of knives.

We are seeing the return of many birds; swallows and finches that were around a lot in early summer. Unfortunately, as they fly about, some of them crash into our windows. If anyone has a recommendation for preventing this, please post in the comments.

Stella Fish Fry on September 26, 2009

This Saturday is the big Stella Fish Fry here in Prospect. I'm excited that I'm not working (there was a tentative gig but it fell through) so I'm able to go! It's apparently THE big social event of the local area.

When we first moved in, and got our moving truck stuck, blocking the street, it was a happy accident because we got to meet a few of the neighbors as they drove past. Mrs. Eubank was one of those people, and she stopped by later and introduced herself, and mentioned the fish fry and told us to make sure we could come out. This was in JUNE!

Also, when we went to see Terry Jernigan at his workshop (he's going to build that masterpiece of furniture that will be the pass-through cabinet between the living room and dining room) his daughter noticed we lived on Stella Rd. and immediately mentioned the fish fry and that she was looking forward to going. Terry said the fish is better than what's served at Johnson's Bluebird Cafe, and even better than Sarge's Shack! That is a serious fish-fight throwdown.

There's been much anticipation in the county for this event. I've never looked forward to eating catfish this much! Can you imagine? An all-you-can-eat fish-fry, served with all the trimmings for only $9 (plus $1 if you want dessert, and oh my god i hope there's pie) All the food is prepared by the women of this church, and i can't wait to see for myself.

I'm going to ask Kelly if he'll drive, so that I'm not taking the chefmobile there. Sometimes I don't like talking about being a chef, and one of those times is when someone else is doing the cooking.

I'm also looking forward to meeting more of my neighbors. We know that people are aware new folks moved in, because we've got the mailbox down on the street, but we've only met a few people. I'm eager to make friends with people my age. It seems that everyone our age has kids, and since we don't*, we don't usually have much to talk about.

Everyone's been very friendly, but I haven't made any real connections here. No, I don't include all the guys at Home Depot. It also doesn't count if we hired them to come to our house and work.

*By the way, feel free to send your offspring here, but note that they will be classified as farmhand apprentices and will be sent out to repair fences, pull weeds, clean the chicken coop and chop wood. They will get blisters, callouses and cuts. They will become intimate with ticks, mosquitoes and possibly chiggers. ... and they'll know it was you who sent them here!

Today I learned:Our electric meter-reader is a sadist. Kelly and I woke up to an explosion of dog barking because the guy drove all the way up to the house at 7:30am. I mean he pulled up along side the meter on the side of the house to read it without getting out if his car. This is an evil thing.

High Pressure - Pressure Cooker

We've been "living" here now for a while, and we have always been a bit underwhelmed by the water pressure that reaches the homesite. Some mornings - before 7am - the pressure would be near normal by city-life standards. But usually, the water would have just enough force to trigger the on-demand tankless water heater to fire and make hot water. Three days ago, I woke up and... ________, then flushed the toilet. The sound of the water refilling the toilet tank was way louder, like something was wrong. When I went to the sink to wash my hands, I was amazed at the force of the water coming out. It was unbelievable! The pressure was at least double what it had been ever before. Now, I didn't want to jinx it by blogging about it right away, but I think it is safe to say it's not a fluke. Something must have been upgraded along the way or something. We are at the end of the line and at the top of the ridge, so I never expected it would improve. I'm hoping it stays this way.

JoAnna cooked a Beef Pot Roast in the pressure cooker tonight. Yum. Pressure good.

Rain, rain, don't go away...

After spending 14 years in Los Angeles, I'm still getting used to having frequent rainstorms here in Tennessee. I'm always surprised at the accumulation I find in buckets, jars and the like that are open to catch the falling drops. Rain means much more now that we have planted our orchard (8 fruit trees) and the garden. It also keeps my car from looking dusty. The chickens don't seem to mind, as long as it doesn't last all day long. Render would prefer to do without the associated thunder, but there's not much we can do about it. Luckily, Noodles has no fear (luckily?), so we only have to deal with one nervous dog.

When it REALLY comes down, the locals call it a "gullywasher". I like that word.



I just spent the past week working from home on the Sony project. So far, the lack of internet bandwidth has not been an issue, since I'm not pulling down large files. I have been clearing out the cobwebs in my head, remembering the workflows and processes that are part of making digital media files. It is all coming back, and it is exciting to be part of the process of building a system from the ground up. It is nice to work from home, though it is hard to keep from working on the things that we want to finish on the house. I don't know when I'll be traveling back to Los Angeles for another stint on site, but I was lucky enough to be well taken care of by my host employer. I also got to see a lot of friends that I hadn't seen for nearly a year. After the previous 2-week visit, I was really ready to come home. It is really nice here, even if it is not done. LA has crows, TN has blue herons and woodpeckers. And chickens.

EGG-citing news!

So much is going on lately, it's hard to keep up with writing about it. Here's a quick list so i don't forget:

Kelly has been working as a consultant with Sony for the past two weeks. first, on-site in Los Angeles, which meant it was just the 13 of us (well, then the 12 of us, since Halle Barely went on to that great big henhouse in the sky...) This week, he's been working here at the house, which means he's hogging the dialup access and the sofa.

Now, when i say 'here at the house', i mean at the homestead in Prospect. At the moment, i'm in the parking lot of the Country Kitchen restaurant, enjoying their free open wireless from the comfort (not) of my honda element. I guess i'll be driving into Pulaski more often until the second phone line is in. By the way, this was explained to me by a woman in the laundromat: "POO-LASS-KEE" is how the modern/younger locals pronounce it, and "PYOO-LASS-KEE" is how old-timer-locals say it. Apparently, PUH-LASS-KEY is how the out-of-towners say it. Do i change how i pronounce it, à la when in Rome? Today I caught myself saying "Y'all" to someone in a farewell, as in, "Y'all have a nice afternoon", in a totally sincere and non-ironic way. Cracked myself up.

My work's been steady; I seem to be picking up an extra dinner party each week, on top of the weekly Personal Chef work i do for the amazing N & S. I say they're amazing because not only do they let me make whatever i want to make, but they really seem to enjoy my cooking. I love cooking for them, too. Everyone should have clients like these two, no matter what your field.

I'm overzealous as an entrepreneur, and i want to market myself, but really, i can't pick up too much more extra work if kelly is going to be working in Los Angeles, it's too hard to deal with the dogs and the chickens. (did he or i mention that we no longer have any guinea keets? so sad...)

I wrote a guest blog post for Savory TV. Click here if you'd like to read it. It's my anti-snobbery slow-food rant. If it gets a good response, i'm sure i have a few more rants up my sleeve.

And finally, kelly and I ate the Most Expensive Fried Egg Ever. This was the actually the 3rd chicken egg we know of, however, the first two were found after kelly moved the chicken tractor, so we're not sure how long they were lying about. This third precious little egg was found by itself in the morning, so we deemed it safe to eat. I fried it up in a little sunflower oil, and it was delicious, rich, and perfect. We're looking forward to more!

As my battery is about to give out, I'll post this for now, and let y'all know more info about more stuff as it happens!

Today I learned: