Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Only a Select Few Can Be. . .

This is the business that regulates whether people may call themselves Midwesterners or not. I got a hold of the written test they give, and am sharing it here:
  1. Are you, or have you ever been, at least 8 pounds overweight?
  2. Do you like meat and potatoes?
  3. Can you change a light bulb by yourself with no problem?
  4. Do you own duck boots?
  5. Do you know or are you related to a farmer, or do you do business with one?
  6. Are you friendly to white strangers?
  7. Do you think having an ATV or RV would be okay if someone else paid for it?
  8. Have you ever been all sweaty?
  9. Have you ever had a beer because there was nothing else to drink?
  10. Do you think "bobcat" is both a noun and a verb?
 Essay questions:

1. Describe the difference between a bulldozer and a backhoe.

2. Describe the little place on the lake.

3. What are the three most important gun safety rules?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Homemade Vegan Ice Cream (No Ice-Cream Maker Needed)

Make your own vegan fruit ice cream with no tool besides a blender. I had an ice-cream machine but gave it away. Too much fuss. I'd rather make this. This easy recipe is from How It All Vegan, by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer (1999) and the photo is of the recipe made with frozen unsweetened strawberries. (At this time of year, I long for them.) But any fruit goes.

"Anything Goes" Fruity Ice Cream (4-6 Servings)

2 cups soft tofu (or 1 aseptic nonrefrigerated package)
1/2 cup soy milk
1/3 cup oil
1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup packaged sugar-stevia blend)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 cups "Anything Goes" fresh or frozen fruit (your choice)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
dash of salt

In blender, combine all ingredients except 1/2 cup of the fruit, and blend together until very smooth and creamy. Place in a sealable container and freeze. Remove from freezer and defrost for 20-40 minutes. Place back in blender and blend again. Spoon back into the container and add the remaining fruit. Re-freeze. Remove from freezer 5 minutes before serving.

Visit The Piehole Midwest for more Divine and personally tested food.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Winter Drops Us a Postcard

Our most significant snowstorm since January 2011 began with frozen rain about 9 a.m., just as I ran outside to spray Pam on the satellite dish, recommended by the satellite people to keep it from icing over and cutting off my contact with the world. It worked well. After the sharp pellets of frozen rain came snow, about four inches of it, covering and stoppering everything, closing the schools, the TV warning us all to stay home. I gladly complied with this order, and spent time installing a fluorescent light beneath the kitchen cabinets, practical for lighting the area and also for raising seedlings. It gives the kitchen a very 1970s aura. In many ways this is the best time of the year because everything wonderful lies ahead, but not too far ahead, and the Catholic church has Friday fish fries.

The snowplow came about 9 p.m., after the storm was over, and the state snowplows scraped and beeped all night along the highways which today were perfectly clear and dry. A walk in the snow revealed deer tracks and tracks of one hefty wild turkey. A frozen crust atop the snow prevented smaller animals from leaving the tracks I find so entertaining. I like knowing I am part of all this. Does this photo look like a Jackson Pollock or what?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Along the LaBarque Hills Trail

Just another waterfall photo taken on another intoxicating hike yesterday. I  haven't been able to hike all six miles of the LaBarque Hills Trail at the Young Conservation Area yet; after two and a quarter hours of walking I was about one mile short. So there's more to discover. But today it rained, and the trail isn't good if it's muddy, so I'll return there in four or five days.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ozark Headwaters Hike

At the Young Conservation Area in Jefferson County I finally discovered the LaBarque Hills Trail. To reach that loop trail requires about 1.5 miles on the easy, flat creekside Taconic Trail, for a total hike of 6 miles. On this hike you will ford LaBarque Creek, about five times, on little stepping stones. The LaBarque Hills hike (rated moderate) is worth the effort, because in this area the LaBarque, from its Ozark foothills headwaters, flows imaginatively, wide and narrow, over rock shelves and beds of gravel; pristine and scenic all the way, and accessible only to those who'll walk there. I'd love it if you walked with me, but in case you can't, I've brought back photos.
Hiking during leafless times lets you see the normally hidden and the faraway. Also, a mild winter day is the best possible day to hike. You won't get heatstroke and there aren't any mosquitoes.

About the creek name: A "barque" is a three-masted ocean-sailing ship. This creek -- and the river it flows into, the Meramec -- probably never hosted that kind of ship. In French, the language of the 18th-century white settlers here, "la barque" means the small boat that a sailing ship carries astern or alongside for short trips. Near the juncture of the LaBarque and the Meramec, that kind of barque might have actually been used, but the creek for most of its 6.4-mile length is rocky with many small waterfalls, and not navigable. But it's just as pretty as these pictures all the way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Guess Who Came to Dinner

A good rain with thunder came yesterday, so today I went to Waterfall #5 to get waterfall glamour photos; It's just off the lane, down a wooded slope, and opposite a cliff 15 feet high. At the bottom of the slope I saw a mound of fur with no body. Thought it might have been an opossum. Wrong. Bones and legs showed that something trapped and feasted on a small deer there. My guess is a coyote, but many creatures could have joined in. Not too far away was a mound of fur on a log, suggesting a hawk or other winged predator might have helped pick it clean.

In other local news, the one day of heavy rain breached and wiped out the beaver dam, in part because the dam created a wide pool with a narrow neck. Rushing water would have passed over and through the dam with great force. Now the creek is left with an excellent swimming hole.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Day One

Yesterday played catch-up with all the mail and errands and bills after being away, and apologized to the birds miffed that I left them on their own without fresh seed and suet daily. They forgive easily; just give 'em free food. Today I prepared for my daily walk about noon. Not far from the door, beneath an oak, on a slope facing south, were the year's first crocuses abloom. This is always Day One of my personal year, the day with promise of a rich green future for us all here in rugged rural Missouri.