Russia has invaded the Ukraine despite the stern warnings from our president. Do you know what Vladimir Putin said when he heard the threats from our President?
He just laughed and said “Oh, Please!” Then he never gave it a second thought. He will do whatever he thinks he needs to do because he knows we don’t have the nerve to stand up to him militarily. This is one time I am glad we have a milk-toast panty-waist as a President because it would not benefit us in any way to be in an armed conflict in Europe. So just let Putin spank the former Soviet satellite state to whip them back into line and remind the other former states not to get too cocky and maybe we can escape this without any bloodshed on our part.
But just in case, keep prepping everyone!
The weather was warm and dry for two days last week so I went out and pulled some soil samples.
As I was working in a field that was at least two miles from the nearest house, I saw four dogs coming my way. Uh-Oh! I hope they are friendly, I don’t want to fight a pack of dogs to get back to my truck. Well, no need to worry. They just stopped by to say hello and rest up a bit before they continued on their way. They all had collars and were well fed so they were just out for a Walk-About I guess.
Two of them appeared to be part Great Pyrenees.
From the size of her belly and her swelling teats, I think this girl is going to have some puppies. I wonder if the owners need to give away some of those puppies? Hummmm. Keep prepping everyone.
I went out to feed the dogs after the snow/sleet storm we had and I encountered a problem. The funnels and chutes I rigged up to feed the dogs from the outside of the pen were filled up solid with ice and I couldn’t get the feed into the pan. I tried to open the gate and go inside the pen but the ice had the gate frozen shut.
I ended up just throwing the food through the fence. At first, they looked at me as if to say “hey, what’s going on here?” They ended up vacuuming up every piece of food eventually so they are well fed. I came back later in the day and dug out the gate with a shovel.
While I had the gate open, I let them out to run in the snow and they had a blast! I hope this is the last freezing precipitation we have this winter, but in case it is not, keep prepping everyone!
P.S. The grader finally came by to clear the road and it pushed a big mound of ice up in the driveway. I used my Kubota to clear it out and we may try to go to town this afternoon, we are going stir crazy after only 4 days!
Then I noticed the ice on top of my barn was trying to slide off in one solid piece, I am afraid to step under it! But at least we are getting a little melting at last.
It’s time for Mardi Gras today so Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler (Let The Good Times Roll ) Today is Fat Tuesday, (otherwise known as the worlds largest drunken party) the last day of Mardi Gras, the last big party before Lent. I have decided to give up cauliflower for the forty day period of Lent. Yes, I know it will be a hardship on me but that is the purpose of Lent, giving up some luxury and suffering and doing penitence. For those of us unable to make the trip to New Orleans, I have included a recipe for King Cake a staple of Mardi Gras. Why not make one and have your own Mardi Gras Party?
When most people think about Mardi Gras they think of something like this.
But instead, I think of this!
Or this. Who is going to clean up all of this mess! I have never attended Mardi Gras, but I have been on Bourbon Street two days after Fat Tuesday and it smells like sewer as you walk down the sidewalk. It is not much better any time of the year, but immediately after Mardi Gras it smells horrid! So I think I will just stay home and enjoy my King Cake and not wake up hung-over tomorrow wondering what I did today!
Baby steps to a king cake
It isn’t Mardi Gras without king cake. This version contains more than the plastic baby as a surprise; the cake is also stuffed with rich apple and cream cheese fillings.
Mardi Gras is Tuesday — do you have your king cake?
At first sight, it may come across as, well, a little unusual. A large wreath-shaped cake bedazzled in vibrant shades of purple, green and gold — there’s nothing subtle about it. It might be flavored simply with a touch of cinnamon sugar, or maybe it’s decked out with any of a number of creative fillings. Help yourself to a slice, or two — just be careful you don’t accidentally bite into the plastic baby.
Behold the wonder that is the king cake. For many, a New Orleans-style Mardi Gras is simply not complete without it.
RECIPES: King cake and 16 additional Mardi Gras-inspired recipes
Largely drawn from Catholic tradition, Mardi Gras is the culmination of the Carnival season, a magical stretch of the calendar that spans from Jan. 6 (Epiphany, also called Three Kings Day) through Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the last hurrah before Ash Wednesday and the sobering start to Lent. Variations of the cake span a number of Catholic-influenced cultures and countries, as varied as the French gâteau de rois and Mexico’s rosca de reyes.
Of course, no one does king cake quite like New Orleans. It’s decorated in the colors of Mardi Gras — purple (to represent justice), green (faith) and gold (power) — as chosen by one of the city’s first Mardi Gras organizations, or krewes. A token or trinket — usually a plastic baby symbolizing the infant Jesus — is hidden inside. Whoever finds the baby may be crowned king or queen of the party; more important, that person is responsible for bringing the cake to the next gathering.
I try to get back to New Orleans whenever I can to celebrate Mardi Gras. When I can’t (more often than not), I celebrate locally with friends, baking my own king cakes. They take a little bit of effort but are well worth the time. And nothing beats the flavor of homemade.
I’ve included a recipe for my king cake below. Outside of Carnival season, the recipe makes a great coffee cake any time of the year.
Happy Mardi Gras!
MARDI GRAS KING CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE AND APPLE FILLING
Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes, plus rising times
Servings: 12 to 16
Note: The cake can be adapted to any occasion by substituting or eliminating the colored sugars. Colored sugars and plastic king cake babies generally are available at baking supply stores, as well as online. For better flavor, rehydrate the raisins in a small saucepan, covered with spiced rum, over low heat just until plump and tender.
2 tablespoons butter
2 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the apple slices, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, just until the apple starts to soften, 3 to 4 minutes (the slices should still be crisp). Remove from heat and stir in the raisins and toasted pecans. Spread the apple mixture onto a baking sheet to stop the cooking process and allow the apples to cool quickly, then cover and refrigerate until needed.
CREAM CHEESE FILLING
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 beaten egg (save the other half egg to make the egg wash for the cake)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese with the vanilla, salt and sugar. Add the beaten egg to the cream cheese mixture and beat until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Cream cheese glaze:
2 ounces (¼ of an 8-ounce package) cream cheese
1/4 cup (½ stick) butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer, whisk together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt until completely combined. With the mixer running, add the sifted powdered sugar, one spoonful at a time, until fully incorporated.
BRIOCHE DOUGH AND KING CAKE ASSEMBLY
3/4 cup milk, divided
1 package (2½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
2 eggs, plus ½ beaten egg (use the remaining half egg left over from the cream cheese filling), divided
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups (15.75 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream cheese filling
Cream cheese glaze
Purple, green and yellow colored sugars for decorating
Plastic baby, if desired
1. In a small pan, heat one-half cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk over medium heat just until warmed. Remove from heat and pour the milk into a small bowl or measuring cup. Stir in the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar, then set aside until the milk is foamy and the yeast is activated, about 10 minutes.
2. Whisk the 2 eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Stir in the yeast mixture and remaining one-third cup of sugar until fully incorporated.
3. If using a stand mixer, switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer running, add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. With the mixer running, add the flour mixture, one spoonful at a time, until fully incorporated.
5. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until it is soft and somewhat silky (it’s a rich dough and won’t be entirely smooth), 5 to 7 minutes. Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
6. Meanwhile, make an egg wash: Combine the remaining beaten half egg with the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk.
7. When the dough is doubled, punch it down (it will be very smooth and elastic) and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface into a 10-by-28-inch rectangle. Lightly score the dough lengthwise to divide the dough into 2 equal halves.
8. Spoon the apple filling down the length of one side, leaving a 1½-inch border on the top, bottom and sides. Repeat with the cream cheese filling down the other side of the dough, leaving a 1½-inch border on the top, bottom and each side. Lightly brush the edges and center of the dough (along the score) with the egg wash to moisten. Gently and carefully pull the dough over the cream cheese filling, sealing the edge of the dough along the score mark. Repeat with the apple filling. Press the sealed edges, making sure they are secure (otherwise the fillings could spill out while the cake bakes).
9. Gently twist the length of the dough to form a braid-like shape. Wrap the dough so it forms an oval wreath and gently press the edges together. Carefully transfer the wreath to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
10. Brush the top of the wreath lightly with egg wash and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until almost doubled in volume, 45 minutes to an hour, or loosely cover and refrigerate the dough overnight, removing it from the refrigerator about 1 hour before baking for the dough to come to room temperature.
11. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly brush the wreath with any remaining egg wash and place the sheet in the oven.
12. Bake the cake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (the toothpick will remain moist if it hits the cream cheese filling, but there should be no crumbs sticking to it), about 30 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking for even coloring.
13. Allow the cake to cool slightly before it is frosted (if it’s too hot, the glaze will run off the cake and not adhere). Drizzle the glaze evenly over the cake, then lightly sprinkle with the colored sugars. If using the plastic baby, hide it somewhere in the cake (press the baby in through the bottom of the cake so as not to disturb the top or sides of the cake). Serve the cake warm or at room temperature.
Each of 16 servings: 387 calories; 7 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 86 mg cholesterol; 20 grams sugar; 224 mg sodium.
I think it really sounds funny hearing 50,000 Japanese yelling “Cocaine”, maybe it’s just me. Enjoy!
Well, the odds of probability finally caught up with us. This is the seventh or eighth time the weatherman has predicted we would get a substantial amount of freezing precipitation and although we lucked out on the previous predictions, this time it hit us as predicted.
I was barely able to open the garage door because of this piled against it. This is not snow; it is all sleet! It started out as rain, then turned to freezing rain, then turned to sleet before turning back to freezing rain briefly. This stuff is packed down so hard, as I was walking across the yard, I didn’t even leave a foot print. I don’t know what kind of snow you Yanks call this, but it would be great skiing snow! I rode my ATV for a while and I spun some donuts until I almost tipped over; then I decided to quit being silly and leave that stuff to the youngsters. I am too old to be tumping over on an ATV.
This is the view out of the front door.
This is a mound of sleet over three feet deep where it ran off of the valleys on the roof!