Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shutterbug: Mootherly Love!

Here comes the sun, what a beautiful day! Our adult miniature Zebu Beauregard, using ZZ Topinha,  one of our baby bottle fed Brahmas as a pillow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Love Letter To My Cowboy (13 is our lucky number)

Two years ago today (November 13th, 2007) a small kiss changed my life forever. Funny how two people can know each other for years, live parallel lives, run in the same circles, share many of the same friends and not realize that they should have been together all along. But then came a kiss and the deal was sealed or as he would like to say...we pitched some woo and the deal was done.

I had no idea that pitchin' woo could be so wonderful, considering I thought he was referencing a barn activity (and looking back now, I guess it actually could be..hee...hee..hheeeee).

I never thought that two years later, we would be living on the farm and settling down into a life of love, laughter and finding the little things in life are what is most important.  He is the best thing that ever happened in my life and I thank my lonestars every day.

 Four nights away from the farm and my cowboy have made me realize how much I have grown to love my new rural life. The city life is no longer an option, I cannot wait to go home. I miss the clucking of the chickens, the mooing of the cows and the sweet nuzzles and waffling that the little donkeys like to greet me with whenever they see me.

Most of all, I missed my cowboy. I missed drinking coffee in the morning and contemplating the day based upon the weather outside. I missed having lunch together, we make it a habit to drop what we are doing and meet for a bite to eat at the old kitchen table or in town at the museum I curate. Most of all, I missed our evenings together tucked away snugly in our little farmhouse, just us and the four dogs and two cats who share the same little four square at night. 

It's funny where life takes you and who it throws in your path. Like I said, we had known each other for years - before we REALLY knew each other. I think I knew somewhere deep inside that we loved each other right there and then on that fateful night of November, 13th.

So 13 to us is a very lucky number indeed, so lucky, that we made it permanent - in ink, on Friday the 13th no less.

So, the question is now - what are we doing next year?

Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Shutterbug: Have you kissed a chicken today?

The old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" really resonates with me. I am old school and prefer a real camera over my telephone one, so I actually carry my camera wherever I go. This makes for a sore purse shoulder but the additional weight in my little black bag (or whatever else I am carrying that day) is well worth the muscle pain. I have decided to share glimpses of our life through our photography (mine and my artist cowboy) whenever the shutterbug bites us. Sometimes they might make you laugh, other times they might make you smile and some may transport you to the farm, if only for a minute.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Edible Folk Art (or Cookie Decorating 101, Sugar Skulls)

What is better than looking at Folk Art? The answer is Folk Art that you can look at and then eat! Up to this point in my life, I always considered cooking as my artistic expression. Now I have found a way to combine my love of cooking with my love of folk art.

By definition, Folk Art is a result of ordinary people expressing themselves through their creation and construction of utilitarian objects that convey meaning and value to themselves and to others within their culture. A Folk Art object's final form often carries a certain beauty that elevates ordinary objects into the extraordinary.

This year for Halloween, we decided to go as Dia de los Muertos sugar skulls. To complete the look, we decided to make edible sugar skull cookies to pass out to party guests. My artist cowboy is well known for his zany, whimsical visionary art and I'm known for creativity in the kitchen, so this seemed like a perfect match.

I have said this before and will say it again, I am not a baker by choice. I love to cook and create savory dishes and cakes, cookies and desserts have never been my strength. But it's time to push the envelope, think out of the box, get the old KitchenAid mixer off the shelf and just go for it.

I went in search of the perfect cookie recipe and found a beautiful website called, I only hope to be as half as creative as Marian (the Sweetopia blogger). Her blog has great tips, artsy themes and I consider her a true cookie folk artist! So I tip my cookie decorating squeeze bottle to her.

My Go To Every Time Shortbread Recipe (For Decorated Cookies):

6 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
( Optional: For a more Mexican flavor I added in fresh grated orange zest and about 1/2 teaspoon of Chipotle powder )


Cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time and continue to beat. Slowly add each extract flavor and cream till blended.
Put dry ingredients through a flour sifter and blend well. Mix dry ingredients with creamed ingredients a little at a time until the dough comes together.

**Culinary Tip** Roll out your sheets of dough between parchment paper and stack in refrigerator on a cookie sheet. This eliminates the step of adding more flour and rolling after chilling. The cookie dough will be ready for the cookie cutters in 1 hour, once chilled in the fridge. This recipe made about 5 rolled sheets (about 50 cookies).

Heat the oven to 350 and allow to heat for one hour before placing the cut cookies in to bake. Bake the cookies on parchment paper till light brown around the edges, about 8 -10 minutes. Cool on racks.

Perfect White Royal Icing:

3/4 cup warm water
5 tbs meringue powder (egg white powder)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 bag (2 lbs.) powdered sugar
1 tsp clear vanilla or almond extract

Hand mix the warm water with the meringue powder till blended and frothy . Add cream of tartar and hand mix another 30 seconds. Pour in all the sugar and mix gently by hand. Using an electric mixer, blend with a paddle attachment on lowest speed for 10 minutes (yes, 10 minutes - the frosting will become silky smooth and shiny).

**Culinary Tip** Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and take out small amounts as you go to blend with your food colorings. In this case for the skull cookies, I used a lot of white icing and made black icing using red, blue and green food coloring. The other color accents (red, yellow, green & blue) on the cookies were very easy to do with culinary decorating pens (purchased in the baking aisle at the local grocery). They are really easy to use, just do not press down too hard or they crack the icing and ruin the tip.


Pick out your base color for your royal icing frosting. Make sure your cookies are completely cool before icing them. Place your base color in a squeeze container with a thin tip ( I buy them at a restaurant supply store). Outline your cookie, the outline will act as a dam. Allow outline to dry. Add a little warm water to your frosting bottle to thin the royal icing. Flood the surface of the cookie and evenly spread within the dam. I use the bottle tip to do the spread the inner icing. Once the cookie has a nice even layer of icing, allow to dry and harden before adding other color.

For the skulls, we took our black icing and made the eye sockets, noses and jaw/teeth outline. Once the black had dried, we then began decorating the skulls with unique patterns, using the culinary pens. The final touch was to outline the entire cookie with black icing for a more dramatic effect. Be creative, do not be afraid to experiment. Just like true Folk Art, there are NO rules!!

**Culinary Tip** Allow to harden overnight before packaging. Have fun, your cookies will be the hit of the party. We may do some turkey ones for Thanksgiving, Krumpus for Christmas etc...

happy hour @ FMF

happy hour @ FMF
party till the cows come home