I spent a little time checking on my bees yesterday. The honey flow is in full swing and my bee community is very busy drawing out comb and filling the cells with honey.
I fully admit that they are a tad behind as I started out using a queen excluder. This is a screen type device that is placed between the brood boxes and the honey super. Designed to permit the worker bees into the honey super and keep the queen out, it was just not working in my case. When the queen stays out of the honey super, then she cannot lay eggs there. You just don't want eggs/hatching brood in your honey. There is some difference of opinion in the beekeeping community about whether using an excluder is the best choice. Some beekeepers feel like it keeps all of the bees from working the honey. In my case no one wanted to go through the device to work in the honey super.
So, I removed it from the hive and I cannot even describe how fast the bees began drawing out the comb.
And, they still like to hang out on their front porch in the hot afternoon. This is known as, "bearding".
After tending the bees I took a peek into the garden and ended up filling my wagon with some fresh produce.
*To view/listen to links, please scroll down and turn off my music player*
Smalltownland has become more famous than sliced bread as one of our own filmed a music video, for Bucky Covington and Shooter Jennings, right here on our country roads and town square. You can view the video here. Many locals are in the video, including our morning radio personality as the sheriff. One of the golfers is my friend/insurance agent. Those sweet cars are local too.
Ahhhhh.....living in The South. Well, I do live in the Upper South, but that is a post for another day. Living in The South comes with rules and my Dear Friend gifted me with this book as a way to aide me in the rituals that come with living in southern, small town culture
Pickled Shrimp are a noted recipe for a restorative gathering after a funeral. Well, no funeral here, but who doesn't need a period of personal restoration every now and again.
First, we will start with the shrimp. They look positively morose on this counter, but we will transform them into a gastronomical delight, worthy of a Southern gathering.
Next, we will make a disaster of the kitchen while assembling the ingredients. A Mason Jar is a must in this recipe. It gives the shrimp that special touch that you can't get anywhere else, except here in The South.
You will assemble the spices
and pour them over those naked shrimp in the Mason Jar.
The little creatures will need to soak in this mixture for about three days. During this time you will need to turn them once or twice per day.
After their transformative period, you will need to congregate the following on your glorious front porch: a good friend, the beverage of your choice, and maybe a little sauce for dipping.
Eat shrimp, drink beverage, gossip, and repeat.
5 pounds of shrimp ( I used pre-cooked, de-veined shrimp.)
1 cup celery tops
1/2 cup pickling spice
4 cups sliced onions
a few bay leaves
2 1/2 cups salad oil
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
5 teaspoons celery seeds
2 teaspoons alt
1 jar (3 1/4 ounce) of capers
Thaw those pre-cooked, de-veined shrimp. In a large glass container, layer the shrimp with onions and bay leaves.
Mix the salad oil, vinegar, celery seeds, and salt. Pour over the shrimp. Drain the capers and add them to the shrimp. Place the container in the fridge for at least three days. Turn once or twice a day, without fail!
To serve, drain, reserving liquid in case you have shrimp left over.
Serves twenty as an appetizer and twelve as a first course.
People in Smalltownland certainly have their own way of doing things. Which is to say that they like to do things as they have always been done. Without change or modern intervention. The same can be said about language. Certain phrases hang in there like a hair in a biscuit. That is to say they are permanent, never to leave the lexicon.
Let's examine a few...shall we?
*He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.
*She could make a preacher cuss.
*He was as mad as a mule chewing on bumblebees.
*I'm finer than a frog hair split four ways.
*That's about as useful as a trap door on a canoe.
*If his brains were dynamite, he couldn't blow his nose.
*He squeezes a quarter so tight that the eagle screams.
*Well....tie me to an anthill and fill my ears with jam.
And, finally one that my own dad used on me as a teenager.
Last month, while in Arizona, we had the pleasure of spending some time in the old mining town of Jerome.
It was full of charm and signs of a bygone era. While walking along the tiny streets Secret Agent Man pointed out a garden that I almost missed. Being just my kind of thing, I am glad it didn't pass me by.
With the town being built on a steep mountain side ~literally~ people used space with great diligence. This tiny space was made into a garden, of sorts, using mostly re-purposed materials. Not the shiny, store-bought things that look so neat and perfect. But, real objects that, when put together, make things that bring a smile.
I do think that might be St. Francis in the bathtub.
A metal stock tank bringing joy as a fountain.
In the background sits an old hot water heater filled with glass balls.
A little metal work collection with the man-in-the-moon watching over things.
Quirky, most certainly, but most of all creative. People using what they have, or find, to make eye catching displays. I have to say that I think the mountain view helped just a tad.
"Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."
So....I left the beach this week to come back to barns, curvy roads, and mom duties. It's all good, but quite a change. My mom had been cooking for me, (thanks Babs!), and beach life can be pretty laid back however, I hit the ground running on Tuesday.
School starts at the end of this month and sports practice is filling our days, but my re-entrance into small town living has not been without its quirks.
*At a local sandwich shop a very elderly man asked me what my real hair color was underneath that, "red paint". Seriously, I thought there weren't any secrets left in this small town!
*My son tried to do me a solid by taking the clothes off the line when it started raining. He draped them over the.....wait for it.....dog kennel. Awesomeness. He left his sister's, "unmentionables", out in the rain. Said he wasn't touching those things.
We have a break from our hot weather and life is good!
At the beginning I suppose, which starts last week off with the heinous task of packing up the family bus for the state trap shooting match. One would think that this wouldn't be too difficult, but Secret Agent Man had to apply some strategy to get all shooting equipment, shells (a lot), snacks, clothes, etc....
It was a bit like The Clampetts going to town.
But, it was all worth it as The Deerslayer secured a first place victory in his division with a shoot off, which I could barely watch. Here is Secret Agent Man meeting his son for a handshake after winning.
The team won third in their division with wins in the rookie division and a win for highest average as well.
Grease and lightly flour two 9x2 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, the baking powder, tha baking soda, and the salt. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, about 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, beating until well combined. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating after each addition until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on the high speed of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the batter. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. When cake has cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top and sides of cake.
Chocolate Buttercream Icing
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
In a medium sized bowl, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy and of desired consistency.