Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Life as a Cowgirl

Howdy again!

Yesterday was a typical cowgirl day. Ran out to the ranch to ride my horse and I was shanghaied into helping gather, sort and rope 50+ hiefers. Since I was riding my trusty mare, Mini, I decided I could donate an hour or two of my time and lend a roping hand.

Well...I should have known by the surprise invitation that this was kind of a last minute preparation on the cattle owner's part and nothing was organized! The weather was calling for high winds (not so good for roping conditions) and they started gusting about 10 minutes after we had gathered all the beasts from the grassy pasture into the dry, dusty lot. Dirt was certainly going to be on the menu and also a spa version of dirt exfoliation was due. Why did I say "yes"? Remember, I live in Southeastern Arizona. No big trees, very dry (especially this year after a sad little monsoon season) and not much to stop the wind once it starts blowing! Dust devils can completely shroud you and your horse for up to a minute! So, again...why did I say "yes"? Hmmm...

One or two hours work turned into 7 hours of hot, dry, dirty, difficult roping. We had to wait for other cowboys to show up (also invited right then) and the ear tags to be purchased in town and delivered. Then the wind really picked up and made the roping part very slow going. Did I mention these were mostly 450lb replacement heifers that had to be headed and heeled in order to not kill the ground crew? At times the cattle were completely obscured in the huge dust clouds and it was hard to see who had a rope on and who didn't! Not exactly as safe an environment as I like to rope in, but conditions are what they are and some things have to be endured.

Surprise, surprise! No cooler full of frosty drinks, no snacks or lunch available. It was pretty minimal. When the two Mexican cowboys helping out starting talking about Cervesas while we were out there roping I wanted to abandon ship and head to the first bar! A frigid Corona with lime sounded mighty fine! Instead we just called a time out and all lined up at the hose to try and quench our thirst and wet our faces down enough to remove the layers of dirt in our eyes.

My horse and I survived. All the heifers got their proper ear tags put in and they were turned back out in the green, moist pastures once again.

As soon as my horse was put up and fed I headed out! I had dinner to consider and only an hour to make it happen! Darn! I was counting on a whole afternoon at home to research options and start something special since the forecast had been so crappy. So much for planning!

Well...cowgirl ingenuity prevailed. How about some leftovers? That made my life much easier and I felt much improved once I was able to shower and remove the sandblast from my face and other body parts!

That is the life of a cowgirl....

The Test Kitchen....

Okay, so I guess first things first. My kitchen is pretty rudimentary as far as specialized equipment and "tools of the trade" is concerned. I imagine it is like most other typical American kitchens of the working class. It has one set of nice pots/pans, some okay pieces of bakingware (usually procured at Marshall's, Ross or TJ Maxx in their home department) and unfortunately, an electric stove/oven. I do have another set of really nice pots/pans, several dish sets, lots of gadgets, etc, but they are all languishing in my storage unit in Florida. Destined to stay there until I raise the money to free them and move my stuff to Arizona. So in the meantime, I do with the absolute minimum and try my best!

Needless to say, I find myself having to use my imagination more than I did in childhood to replicate some of the more difficult recipes that call for specialized equipment. I find myself dreaming of a big Kitchenaid mixer and all the attachments! I find myself wishing for a pot hanger in the kitchen to hang the pots and have them at easy access. I find myself reaching for a classy set of mixing bowls that just aren't in my cabinets. I guess it gives me something to look forward to and a good list of things I can put on my wedding register!

While the adjustment to electric cooking after many years of gas has been hard. I am happy to announce that my kitchen, while getting a stiff reduction in size, will boast a gas stove/oven in the next few weeks when we move. That earns a big cowgirl "Yahoooo!!" as far as I am concerned. The adjustment back to gas should be easy! No more burned food! WAHOO!

So...any suggestions on where to find inexpensive kitchen supplies? What pieces are important to have? Is there a basic list of kitchen supplies that you should have on hand?

I am constantly seeking to improve my kitchen and it's contents so that I have the proper tools to work my craft and I don't have any excuses not to try the more difficult dishes. I think if my dishes don't turn out I would prefer to know it came from my human error and not because I had to improvise with the wrong equipment and that might have contributed to the failure. Since I am learning on my own and using the trial and error technique to see what works and what doesn't, I would like to be able to distill where the error occurred and not have too many variables in the experiment that cloud the results!

So...I look forward to your feedback!
Let's see what creation I come up with for dinner tonight!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Introduction to Cowgirl Cuisine

Howdy all!
I decided to blog about my persistent attempts to master the art of baking and cooking! Although I have had no true cooking training, I have always loved good food and truly enjoy cooking, from the preparation to watching people enjoy the end result. I don't think I want to attend culinary school, so I decided to teach myself and try and learn from the resultant creations what I did right and what I did wrong!

My patient fiance, Matt, is always game to try my newest creation and hasn't turned down a plate to date, but he has once said..."that recipe isn't really a keeper", and I took the hint!

I am always looking for advice, favorite recipes from friends and family, and new ideas to keep my pushing myself to try new dishes and new ingredients.

I hope if you follow this blog you will be brave enough to add your advice and or recipes for me to try!

Let the games begin!