Jun 15 2009

Monday Musings

I’m having a hard time narrowing down a single blog topic lately, so I’ll continue to riff on various things until I do.

I’m baffled.  For a few weeks now, every time I use our outdoor water hose, the water is soapy.  I can smell it, and it makes suds if I spray it into something.  The first time it happened, I figured I must have gotten soap in the spray nozzle when I was washing the dog or my truck, so I let it run for a couple minutes until it ran clean.  But the next time I used it, there was the soap again.

Finally I let it run for about half an hour in the garden, figuring that would get it well cleaned out.  Nope—still soapy every time I use it, until it runs for a minute or two.  Maybe the neighbors are sneaking over here at night and putting soap in the hose to try to poison our rooster.  If so, it won’t work—I’ve been giving them rain water.  I really don’t think that’s it, but I’m stumped for another explanation.

I finally got the last piece of roof metal trimmed and tacked down on the chicken house, after temporarily fixing it on there when I got rained out last weekend.  The old nail holes are now caulked, so the girls should be high and dry in there from now on.  Unfortunately, the new roof didn’t keep the rooster from crowing like I’d hoped.  Enough light still gets in through the ventilation spaces to tell him when it’s daytime, so if anything, he got worse.

So now we have a new routine.  Every night, I go grab him from wherever he’s sleeping and put him in a cardboard box with the top loosely closed.  I cut some other air holes and made sure it’s big enough that he’s not cramped in there.  He doesn’t really care; he’s sleeping then anyway.  It keeps him in the dark enough that he doesn’t crow much until we let him out; and if he does, the box muffles it quite a bit.  The rest of the day, he’s like a barky dog: he crows when he thinks there’s danger, like someone walking by the pen, but then he quits.  It’s only early in the morning that he just crows over and over for no reason.

I made a really excellent beef roast tonight, if I do say so myself.  I didn’t think to take pictures, so I can’t do a full-blown recipe post, but here’s the short version.  Take a chuck or arm roast, one of the cuts that has plenty of fat and marbling, and put it in the crock pot on low about 8 hours before dinner.  Add half an onion, a stick of celery, and a couple cloves of garlic, all chopped into quarters or so.  Add fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano from the garden and a couple of bay leaves.  Forget to rub salt and pepper into the roast, then sprinkle them over the top of everything.

When you’re about ready to eat, drain all the liquid into a saucepan.  If you like chunks of onion and celery in your gravy, pluck those out of the pot and put in there too.  If you like more of a milk gravy, add a cup of cream or milk.  While bringing that to a boil, stir a couple teaspoons of corn starch into a quarter cup of cold water.  Drizzle that into the boiling broth while stirring constantly, and continue stirring for a minute or so.  It should start to thicken up, then it’s time to eat.

The corn starch is high in carbs, of course; but at 7g/tablespoon, I can usually thicken a batch of gravy for less than 3g/serving.  The exact amount you need varies, depending on how much liquid you’re starting with and how thick you like your gravy.  If you add milk, that may get it up around 6-7g.  That’s still not a problem, as long as you don’t have carby side dishes.  In this case, the side dish was green beans (the last of the ones we froze from our garden last year) in butter, so it worked out fine.

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