Thursday, November 27, 2014


Life and Death. Life is generally preferred. Death...well, we don't want to think about it mostly. Yet in order to sustain my own life, I must take life. To put it a less palatable way; I must bring death. It's interesting to think about.

About a week ago, I ended the lives of two living, breathing, flapping, quacking ducks. For someone who had never before killed anything larger than a very large squash bug, or perhaps a very large carrot, this was dramatically different. The sheer force, and the solidity of will that it took to end the life of a warm blooded creature, was immense. Once you begin, you end. There is no faltering. No hesitation. No backing out.

I like to think they didn't mind me bringing about their demise. They had a good life, and a swift end, intended for a good purpose. It's not such a bad way to go, really. I have seen many a good okra plant glory and rejoice, even at the ending of their days. They did what they were meant to do. Lived as they should. Died well.

I named the ducks Harold and Kevin. Because I think everybody deserves a name. Even the ducks that were only in my possession in living form for about fifteen minutes. Kevin will be our Thanksgiving dinner this coming Sunday, and I'm very hopeful that he will be extremely delicious. I found this recipe, and I think it just might do him justice! I am grateful for the life he gave; the life I took for myself and my children.

I'm not as grateful for the 8,437,652 feathers that are currently strewn around my back stoop.

Even so. It was a good experience. A bit grisly. A bit gruesome. But the duck's death connected me to life in a way I never knew before. It was warm, heavy, bloody, and real. It wasn't Nintendo's "Duck Hunt", with a virtual bird dog giggling at me when I missed the shot. It wasn't a cute little boneless, skinless package at the grocery store. It was a duck. And then it was a duck without a head. And soon it will be dinner.

I'm going to uproot and mercilessly dismember all of the carrots from my garden and put them through the pressure canner pretty soon. Hopefully I can do a post on that! Sorry for the lack of updates, it's been busy!

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Spiced Hot Chocolate

You all know the hot chocolate mixes you get at the grocery store. I grew up with them, as I'm sure many did. I can look back and see myself, waiting for the water to boil so that I could pour it over the magical powder that would transform into a tasteless, watery version of a cheap hershey's bar, onto which I would then gleefully pile obscene amounts of corn-syrup laden marshmallows.

I hope that last sentence has convinced you not to get pre-made hot chocolate mixes from the grocery store. If it didn't, let me try again: Don't. Just don't! It's not worth it. Life is too short to drink watery hershey's bars. Never fear, though! There is an alternative!

First of all: Milk. Not water. Use milk. Good, Whole, Raw milk. There's nothing else like it. If you use anything else you may as well just go and sacrifice yourself on the altar of Monsanto corn and tastelessness. Haha!

On to the recipe. If it can be a recipe without measuring.

Now, here's what I do. I glug a whole lot of milk into a large pot. I try to estimate how much will fit into however many mugs I want to fill. If I'm feeling extra smart, I'll get out a mug and use it for measuring. Mostly though, I just guess. And sometimes I err on the generous side, so that I can drink more hot chocolate than everybody else.

I probably use about 1/4 cup of raw, local honey to every six or so cups of milk. It's hard to know, when you're guessing. Really what you should do is taste it as you go along. Tasting is the best part of cooking!

Next add the cocoa. Again, only guessing here, but I'd say I use a heaping teaspoonful of cocoa per mug to be filled with luxurious chocolate awesomeness. It all depends on how chocolatey you like your chocolate.

Next is ginger, and you probably only want a very, very small amount of this, because it's very, very strong. I'm going to use a really old-fashioned measuring unit and say you're going to want a pinch of ginger. I love the extra kick it gives it!

Nutmeg. I probably use about a quarter teaspoon for a 6 cup batch (enough for 3 adults, or 2 adults and 2 children, which is usually how much I'm making). Nutmeg tastes like Christmas. I love it.

Cinnamon! Can't go far wrong with cinnamon. I admit to being rather heavy-handed with this spice. Perhaps a teaspoon or two altogether for the batch would do?

Now that you've got everything in the pot, turn the heat to medium/low and start whisking. Really you could probably wait until the milk warms up a little because everything mixes much better when it's warm, but I start whisking right from the beginning because I'm an obsessive whisker.


Okay, now you just have to stir it frequently enough so that it doesn't develop a horrible, slimy milk-skin on top. Again, I'm obsessive so I mostly stand there and whisk the whole time because I drank some hot chocolate with a nasty, slimy milk-skin on it once and it almost ruined my life.



Or Wah-lah, as they might spell it in Oklahoma. ;)

Feel free to add copious amounts of home-whipped raw cream, if you're lucky enough to have it on hand. Or perhaps some cute little homemade meringues. Or homemade marshmallows (believe me, they're on my to-attempt list!).

Happy Christmas-in-a-cup!

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