Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Meet Tom Yum

Tom Yum came to us from a frozen state finding our Texas home a fine place to warm up. ;o)

“Turkey for a Crowd”

Cook’s Illustrated, with adaptations by Rebecca Serven.

Serves 20 to 24

Introductory Comments

You can use any roasting pan to roast the turkey, even a disposable one, but make sure to use a V-rack to keep the bird elevated. Be careful to dry the skin thoroughly before brushing the bird with butter; otherwise it will have spotty brown skin. Rotating the bird helps produce moist, evenly cooked meat, but for the sake of ease, you may not opt to rotate it. In that case, skip the step of lining the V rack with foil and roast the bird breast side up for the entire cooking time. Because we do not brine the bird, we had the best results with a frozen Butterball (injected with salt and water) and a kosher bird (soaked in salt water during processing).

Turkey Brine

1. Place turkey in container large enough so water can cover it by 1 or 2 inches (if at all possible): Large stock pot, 5 gallon white bucket, etc.

2. Make room in the fridge for container.

3. Make sure turkey is completely thawed. Rinse well.

4. Make water and salt solution. Ratio is 1 cup salt to 1 gallon water. Make sure salt is dissolved!! Add seasonings (I use ¼ cup dried thyme as it compliments the Turkey for a Crowd Recipe).

5. Pour solution over bird until it covers it by 1 or 2 inches. You may need to make additional solution (remember to dissolve salt).

6. Brine for 10 to 12 hours, rotating if needed (so that all parts of the turkey are evenly brined).

7. Remove from brine, rinse in sink with cold water until all traces of salt are removed.

8. Safely discard brine and cook turkey as normal (omitting salt in recipe).

Variation: Combine 1 gallon of cold water with 1 cup kosher salt in a large stockpot. Heat until salt is dissolved. Add 4 ounces of cracked black peppercorns, 6 bay leaves, 4 sprigs of rosemary, and 1 cup brown sugar. Stir until combined; cool to room temperature. Place the defrosted or fresh turkey in a large plastic bag, fill with brine to submerge turkey, and refrigerate for 12-15 hours. Rub, roast and baste as usual.

Turkey Roasting Methodology

2 medium onions, chopped coarse

2 medium carrots, chopped coarse

2 celery ribs, chopped coarse

1 lemon, quartered

2 sprigs (3 to 4 inches each) fresh thyme

1 frozen Butterball or Kosher or Fresh Brined Turkey (18 to 22 pounds gross weight) turkey rinsed and thoroughly dried with paper towels

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt (omit if you just brined the turkey)

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position; remove remaining racks. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line large V rack with heavy duty foil and poke holes in foil; set V rack in 15 by 12 inch roasting pan.

2. Toss onions, carrots, celery, lemon, and thyme in medium bowl; set aside. Brush turkey breast with 2 tablespoons butter, then sprinkle with half or salt (or omit) and half of black pepper. Set turkey breast side down on V rack. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with remaining salt (or omit) and black pepper. Fill cavity with half of onion mixture; scatter rest in roasting pan and pour 1 cup water into pan.

3. Roast turkey 1 hour; remove roasting pan with turkey from oven. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Using clean dishtowel or 2 potholders, turn/flip turkey breast side up (long ways works best—grab drumsticks); return to roasting pan with turkey to oven and continue to roast until legs move freely and instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 170 to 180 degrees, about 2 hours longer (usually a little longer than they say). Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest, uncovered 35 to 40 minutes. Carve and serve.

4. Make gravy from drippings and flour.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Singing back up at Cakemix in Dallas, Tx

Sam, Andrea, and I sang a small background bit for one of the songs 

Left alone in the control room, Mr. Moreland threatens to beam us up to Mars.

The Craze For Urban Poultry Farming

The New Coop de Ville
By Jessica Bennett NEWSWEEK
Published Nov 17, 2008

For Brooklyn real-estate agent Maria Mackin, the obsession started five years ago, on a trip to Pennsylvania Amish country. She, her husband and three children—now 17, 13 and 11—sat down for brunch at a local bed-and-breakfast, and suddenly the chef realized she'd run out of eggs. "She said, 'Oh goodness! I'll have to go out to the garden and get some more'," Mackin recalls. "She cooked them up and they were delicious." Mackin and her husband, Declan Walsh, looked at each other, and it didn't take long for the idea to register: Could we have chickens too? They finished their brunch and convinced the bed-and-breakfast owner, a Mennonite celery farmer, to sell them four chickens. They packed them in a little nest in the back of their Plymouth Voyager minivan and headed back to Brooklyn.

The family has been raising chickens ever since, in the backyard of their brick townhouse in an urban waterfront neighborhood called Red Hook. Every Easter, Mackin orders a new round of chicks, now from a catalog that ships the newborns in a ventilated box while they are still feeding from their yolks. When they are grown, she offers up their eggs—and occasionally extra chickens, when she decides she's got too many—to friends and neighbors, and sells a portion to a local bistro, which touts the neighborhood poultry on its Web site. She gives the chicken manure—a high-quality fertilizer—to a local community garden in exchange for hay, which she uses to pad the chickens' wire-fenced coop. Occasionally, she kills and cooks up a chicken for dinner—though, she says, her chickens are egg layers and aren't particularly tasty. "We joke and call ourselves the Red Hook Poultry Association," says the former social worker, who at one time housed 27 chicks inside her kitchen—for six weeks. "Sometimes people are like, 'This is really kind of weird'."

Meanwhile, at, the Web site created by the Madison Chicken Underground, chat-line operator Dennis Harrison-Noonan has turned his chicken love into a mini-business: he's sold 2,000 design kits for his custom-made playhouse chicken coop, which retails for $35. "It's really not that crazy to think that people are doing this," says Owen Taylor, the urban livestock coordinator at Just Food, which operates the New York Chicken Project. "Most of the world keeps chickens, and they've been doing so for thousands of years."

Historically, he's right. During the first and second world wars, the government even encouraged urban farming by way of backyard "Victory Gardens" in an effort to lessen the pressure on the public food supply. (Until 1859, there were 50,000 hogs living in Manhattan, according to Blecha.) "It's really only been over the last 50 years or so that we've gotten the idea that modernity and success and urban spaces don't involve these productive animals," Blecha says.

Read the NewsWeek article in it's entirety here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Building A Wire Cage Floor

Today I built a floor for the cage that Snow Paws came in.
The trick is to make the square corners fit inside the round cornered tub. I made a paper pattern of the rounded corner. I eye-balled the length needed and then trimmed the runner a little long and at with couple different angles that looked about right. After that I trimmed it at a slope inward.

I cut and fit the cross braces angling the ends a little as well since the sides of the tub slope out. I had to rip a 1x4 remnant to make 2 of them. The whole project took 1-8ft 1x2 and a the 16in remnant along with the wire 6 screws and a handful of staples. Make sure that you have a Dad with a chop saw and materials before starting this project. ;o)

Next I drilled pilot holes, and then I drilled countersink holes. After that it was pretty easy to screw it together. Oh yes, and make sure you have a Dad with a drill, drill bits, and such.

Make sure that everything is flush before drilling. Since it's going in a rabbit cage floor you might want to consider sealing the wood with something that is non-toxic.

Next comes the wire floor. I used 1x1 in the event that there is ever baby rabbits in this cage. It bends pretty easy around the wood. I laid the frame on top of the wire and folded it upward. Wire snips made sizing it easy. Then I hammered it down with staples. It's the fastest way when the staple gun is missing. Dad with staple gun not necessary...

It fit snugly and I was glad because I don't want any babies falling in the cracks.

I wired the lid on along the back side. I can flip the wire top off and clean out the tray if need be. After that I put the cage door on and pinched the connection so that it won't fall off anymore. Now it's time to go pick up wifey-poo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Super Taitor Tot

Please join the Zimmerman family in expressing thankfulness to the Lord. The doctor's don't have to do surgery on Little Tait's heart. The valve is still open, but since he's so stable, they're going to let it close on its own

Thoughts from Auntie Esther:

He's doing pretty good! They're all pleased with how healthy he's been. =) Yesterday and today were a little harder and he had to have the CPAP and all that stuff cover his face again. But, he sure is adorable! Everyone says he looks like the Fitzhenry side...(YAY!)...with his dark, wavy hair and Lauren's chin and cheeks...and then Lauren says he has Tait's nose...he's just precious!! Oh, and since he was able to start eating Lauren's milk he's already up to 3 lbs 4 oz! Lauren says he's been gaining about 2 ounces a day! =) Pretty soon we're gonna' have to add "pudgo" to his already excessively long list of nicknames. Anyhow...he is doing well...he is loved, he is being held by his mommy and daddy and he is getting bigger and cuter (if that's even possible) every day!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Special Offer from Trivium Pursuit and Christian Logic

This just in from the Bluedorn Family:
"Our readers have the opportunity to receive two free ebooks from Trivium Pursuit! "

1.The 73 page ebook of the entire text of Chapter Twelve: Ten Things to Do With Children Ages Ten Through Twelve from the book Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

2.The new 94 page ebook Ancient Literature: Significant Excerpts from the Books of Classical Authors Which You Can Use to Supplement Your History Curriculum - Volume Two: Alexander the Great.

You will receive both of these ebooks when you subscribe to the Homeschooling with the Trivium newsletter. This offer is only for new subscribers to Homeschooling with the Trivium and is good only through November 30. Go here to subscribe.

In addition, if you subscribe to Christian Logic's Fallacy Detective News you will receive two lessons from the logic textbook The Thinking Toolbox by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn (Lessons 12 and 13, along with exercises and answer key). This offer is only for new subscribers to The Fallacy Detective News and is good only through November 30. Go here to subscribe.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Farm Eggs

My favorite breakfast.
Fresh Farm Eggs cooked in Garlic Rosemary oil and sprinkled with Serven Salt.

Garlic Rosemary Oil

Put a handful of rosemary sprigs in a pan with 3 sliced garlic cloves and 1/2 c olive oil. Heat gently until bubbling, then pour into a heat proof bowl, cover, and leave in a cool place over night. Strain the garlic and rosemary oil into a 1 1/4- 1 2/3 cup bottle and top up with more oil.

Oil should be left in a cool place for up to a week to let the flavors steep. Strain before storing.

Serven's Famous Season Salt

1c. salt
1/3c. granulated onion
1/3c. granulated garlic
1/3c. pepper

Mix. Store in glass jar so on moisture gets in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tait Edward Zimmerman Jr.

Baby Z's name is Tait Edward Zimmerman Jr.

He has some clever nicknames as well that were once his father's. Taitor Tot, Totmeister and Super Tot to name a few.

Here is a recent update on Tait Jr. from his ecstatic Auntie Esther:

"Hello Everybody!

Well, all babies have holes in their hearts but, usually through the natural birthing process it closes. Since Little Z is both a preemie and a C-section his hole didn't close. So, they're giving him 3 rounds of medicine (3 doses in each round) to close it and today he gets his last round. From what the doctors say it looks like it is closing and they're hoping after today's medicine it will keep on closing...they will do an EKG to check on it. We are all anxious for him to be through with the medicine so that he can get back on mom's milk and start gaining weight and the faster he gains weight the sooner he can come home!

And, also please pray for Tait and Lauren as right now they live an hour and 20 minutes away from the hospital and they have to be there (and want to be there) as often and as long as possible. Gas prices couldn't have gone down at a better time. =P

That's all for now...I've got pictures to post from Lauren's first time holding him and she has pictures she wants me to post of him with his little mask and stuff off so we can see his precious little face. I'm told he has dark, curly hair and Tait's nose. =D

Please keep Tait Jr., Lauren and big Tait in your prayers!"

Today's update from Baby Z's mama Lauren:

"We are requesting prayer for Little Tait. They're trying to close the PDA valve in his heart with medicine; this is their last try today. Else comes surgery.... They're doing another echocardiogram tomorrow, so we'll know then whether or not the valve is closed. There's a small chance that they won't have to do surgery even if it's not closed yet. Thanks for your prayers!"

A New Fluffy Farm Addition....

Sugar has come to live with us today.
We got acquainted and made friends quite readily.
Just the mention of garden fresh lettuce and spinach makes his ears stand up straight. ;oP

Welcome to "country" living Sugar!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Believe while others ...
By William Arthur Ward

Believe while others are doubting.
Plan while others are playing.
Study while others are sleeping.
Decide while others are delaying.
Prepare while others are daydreaming.
Begin while others are procrastinating.
Work while others are wishing.
Save while others are wasting.
Listen while others are talking.
Smile while others are frowning.
Commend while others are criticizing.
Persist while others are quitting

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Prayer Request Updated

Please add the Tait Zimmerman family to your prayers as Tait and Lauren's son was delivered prematurely by c-section this afternoon. Lauren was just over 6 months into her pregnancy. Baby Zimmerman weighs 2lb 9oz.

Update: This just in from Auntie Esther Zimmerman, Tait's sister.

"Baby Z doesn't have a name yet...that seems to be only thing Tait and Lauren can't agree on! =D We were commissioned to bring them their "baby name books" today so, hopefully they'll decide soon! =) We can't wait for him to have a name!

Lauren is doing fine...she was up for awhile (SUPER WOMAN!) and was visiting baby when we got here about an hour or so ago. Right now she is resting. Baby Z is AMAZING! Everyone is very thrilled with how well he is doing...his lungs were the main concern like most preemies....but, they're really pleased with how healthy his are. He is actually kind of able to breath by himself...I'm not sure exactly what's going on right now but, sounds like he's breathing some and they're helping him out once in awhile. He's so tiny!

Oh, and since baby is going to have to be in here until at least January and because Tait and Lauren will have to be here pretty much all the time...they are going to have to figure out how to get closer to the hospital (we're about an hour and 20 minutes away right now).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Looking On The Bright Side

Here is a note I received from a friend:
7 Reasons You Shouldn't Pay Attention to the Gloom and Doom

"Gloom and Doom is everywhere! In the papers, on the news, all over the internet, even in daily conversations. Many members of the general public and the investment community are getting depressed and caught up in this propaganda at a rapid pace. The attitude is even beginning to spill into personal and professional lives as people begin to buy into it. So what’s the answer? STOP immediately!

When you focus on the negative, you always multiply your problems. Instead, see your business being so busy you have to expand…the human mind has an incredible ability to accomplish whatever you focus on.
The 7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Pay Attention to Gloom and Doom are:

1. It’s simply not true.
It is possible to have the life you want. You work hard, and the media right now is making you sheepish. It’s herding you into a corner. It’s driving a stake right into the heart of the economy. You cannot create prosperity when you are fearful. In the 70’s we were told the world’s oil was running out; clearly that didn’t happen. The media predicted a mini ice age within the last 40 years; that didn’t happen either. Global warming? Chicago has had the heaviest snowfall since 1979. The media is powerful – do your own research.

2. This is a great year for commercial real estate.
If you are planning on investing in commercial real estate this year, you are in luck. There will be a fabulous inventory of product from which to choose. Interest rates are at an all-time low. Cap rates are becoming more reasonable again. Lots of OPPORTUNITY is in store for you this year.

3. Businesses that are closing should close.
You read the same newspapers I do, and you’ve seen articles about Starbucks and other retail chains closing units. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? You need to realize these units were underperforming all along and would have been closed anyway. What the paper doesn’t tell you is that there are many units being opened as well.

4. There is more money available to exchange hands than ever before.
There is more affluence in the U.S. economy than ever before. Businesses catering to the affluent are selling goods and services at record numbers. After all, people still want to spend money.

5. Plenty of businesses and people are experiencing financial growth at the moment.
The mall parking lots are full; people are walking around with shopping bags containing multiple purchases. Restaurants are still busy; you still need a reservation. Many Fortune 500’s are having banner years.

6. More money was paid into the IRS in 2007 than ever before.
This is self-explanatory. The only way this was possible is if Americans earned record amounts of income!

7. Abundance is a mindset. There are no limits to what you can create, and there are endless opportunities.

If you focus on recession, that energy follows your thought. The more you focus on abundance and prosperity, the more you get.

Remember, history has recorded that more millionaires were created during the Great Depression than in any other time because of the infamous “poor economy”. These people prospered because they believed in themselves and were willing to take calculated risks. They made tremendous amounts of money because they did not let the media control their destiny – they took charge! Take charge and get going…"

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The New Coop And Other Farm News

Today we spent some more time working on the new coop. It is just about done. I snapped a few pictures of a butterfly since there were too many "hands" for a time. Carrots comes inside in the evening to run and play and stretch his legs. This evening we found him on the couch. Seems he's getting a little more bold.