Monday, August 5, 2013

Kingdom of Matadorae

 For five years we have been planning construction for a “Fairy Garden” in the courtyard, and it was started yesterday.  We don’t know when all the fairies will move in, but we want to increase the plantings in the area so it can also be an attractant for butterflies.   They just seem like they would be species which could live together peacefully.


Of course, a story is evolving with the building of the kingdom of Matadorae.  So far we have a place for the tree fairies as well as those who live underground; the underground ones are built more like hobbits and therefore are nearly flightless because of their girth.   There are some inhabitants who have a house under the wagon and who don’t have nearly the travel problems.   There is a dragon of some sort who lives in the Northern Nether Region, but we don’t know what he is really like since he hasn’t been seen yet.


With some effort, a fairy can manage to get to the second layer of the fountain where wishes can be made and purchased.  As best we can tell, this is the only enterprise making money at the current time.


The Tongue River, which flows under the bridge, extends to the forest which is made of prickly leaved bushes that are especially dangerous.  It is important to remember that this is not a tributary of the West Texas Tongue River, but the one which is found at the end of the wagon tongue which must be crossed to get to the Fontein.   We have yet to know the extent of the dangers in the forest, but it is strongly advised that all creatures avoid the area.
We are praying for a gentle rain from an antique sprinkling can but have yet to find one so the plants are having to live with a gentle misting from the water hose.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Beginnings, Daughters, and Deviled Eggs

Linda and Caron put the spring quilts out on the tables at the hotel and added some wispy silk flowers to the vases.  I love the feel of new beginnings. 

The lilacs are blooming at my house, and the smell of lilacs is the smell of our daughter.   Lara was born when the blooms were at their peak;  Mom came to stay with us a few days, and she put them throughout the house; and it was an infusion of beauty, sight and smell.   I hope that someday the small plants at my current home will be large enough for me to scatter them over the house again.   Meanwhile, they make me smile.

I guess this makes me think about daughters.  I love my boys, and they know it, and they will be in a future rambling.  But there is something about a daughter that is differently special.   I remember when Lara was little she would smile and just turn the room into sunshine.   She would run and play with such enthusiasm and was the most beautiful little girl (I have to admit that the granddaughters are a very close second).  I loved the bows in the hair and the frilly clothes as long as she would let me have input into her clothing choices.  I am picturing her in a white pinafore with long blond curls and the most petite perky nose.  She is all grown up and has children of her own now, but as all of you know, daughters are forever.

So I thought that in honor of Lara and the love I have for her,  I would talk about one of her favorite foods and a timely one, Deviled Eggs.  I saw an illustration yesterday that used a v-shaped knife to cut the whites so that the top part was put back on over the filling it formed a hat.  A face was then created with pieces of olive and carrot to make it look like a baby chick.   I might try that with the grand kids this weekend.  But one thing is for sure, for Easter we will have the eggs.

Hard cooking the eggs is the first obstacle.   I have seen lots of instructions, and this is what I have found to work the best.   Put the eggs in cool water in a saucepan that will hold enough water to cover them.  Two reason I can think of to do this:  1)  the eggs are not as likely to crack open as when put into water that is already boiling 2)  if the eggs are submerged in water they will be less hot than if in steam....and high heat makes eggs tougher.

Okay, so bring the water to a boil and then turn down to a simmer ...I cover here just because, but as long as water covers the eggs, I can't see that it matters.  Set the timer for 10 minutes or if you are scared of not getting the eggs done enough, set it for 12.

As soon as the timer goes off, pour off the hot water and shake the pan so the eggs crash into each other to break the shells.  Cover with cold water.  I keep it running so that the eggs don't just get the water warm and then just sit in a warm bath.  I have noticed that sister Lin puts some ice in the water, and that seems like a good idea.   Anyway you want the eggs to stop cooking and not skulk around in the pan getting a green ring around the yolk

I leave the eggs in the cold water until they are cool all the way through, and I get ready to peel them.   Now, in answer to the question about when eggs are just the right age so that they will peel easily, I have heard many stories, but I think that when they are too fresh, they don't peel as well.  I have made up my own reason for this:  the air space is still so small in the egg that the membrane is firmly attached to the shell and egg.  Whatever the real reason, sometimes the egg is hard to shell nicely so do the best you can.  

I like to peel under slowly running cool water.  It seems to help the shell come off, and it washes it away onto my catcher as I peel.  If some of the eggs just come apart, keep that to mix with some sausage gravy for breakfast..

I like to half my eggs lengthwise.  I think they sit nicely, and you don't take a chance on the yolk being all in the top or bottom.  However, if I try the chick idea, I will have to half them across the shortest part...that seems lengthwise to me also, so just cut them however you like.

Put the yolks in a bowl and use a fork to smash them all up.

Season with salt and pepper, a little garlic powder, some prepared mustard and enough mayonnaise so that the mixture is creamy.  (now, I can't tell you how much mustard you much devil do you want...I use about a tablespoon for a dozen eggs, but mom would use about three and then add some vinegar)

Now this is where you can get creative if you want and add minced cooked bacon, or the "smushed" up yolks that were a mess, or capers, or pimiento or just anything you happen to be craving at the time.  But for Lara we just leave it plain.

Use a spoon or pipe the filling back into the whites and sprinkle with smoky paprika or some minced fresh parsley.   You could also put cilantro or chopped red and green peppers, or a slice of jalapeno.

In other words, you can put whatever you want, but an Easter ham would not be complete without a platter of deviled eggs.   If your children hunted for real eggs in the morning and are willing to sacrifice them for lunch, there is nothing wrong with using them....just be careful if they have been out of the frig for more than a couple of hours.  I just made up the time, it is an estimation.

I hope you and your "peeps" have a great Easter.  Remember that He is Risen.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We Were Snowed

 Hurricane force wind with several inches of snow equals a beautiful courtyard, a warm living room, and some new friends.

      This tree that stands at the back of the courtyard and towers over the building was laden with some of the six inches of snow that we received yesterday.  

Crepe myrtles with a new type of white bloom.
 To those in northern states this may look like a trifle, but to our parched earth, it is a wonderful abundance.
As the snow began to accumulate yesterday, people were anxious to reach their destination and settle in for a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate and their favorite throw.  Some didn't quite make it, as the roads became dangerous and in some cases were closed.
One guest had his car blown off the road by the winds and had to abandon it and then get it towed.  He was on his way to a required training for his employers, but they gave him permission to arrive late. 
Another man who was stranded delivers dialysis supplies to people who are confined to their homes.  He had to make many calls to reassure and comfort his clients.
A pipeline supply crew traveling from Louisiana to California couldn't make it any further than Matador and had to spend the evening watching television and eating chicken fried steaks at a local restaurant which stayed open to accommodate them.
One lady left Wichita Falls on her way home to Floydada, and anticipating a speedy and non-eventful trip,  she decided to travel in her pajamas.   At some point in her sliding toward Matador, she managed to don her clothes so she could seek a room.
Some travelers stayed in private homes, and one manager of some hunting lodges opened them for those who could not find rooms in the local lodging.
We hope that the travelers, as they left this morning, felt rested, well fed, and ready to face their renewed journey. 
At Hotel Matador, this is why we are here, and why we were led to this place.
We will be warming up the chairs in the courtyard before your next visit.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Slow Cooking Quail and Other Thoughts on January

January Uses for a Deer Blind and Slow Cooking some Quail

Lonely Sentinel From Season Past
 Linda and Caron wanted me to write about what to do with deer blinds during the “off” season.  They said that the inspiration for the topic came from a conversation with Ron and Lauren Cox during Chrsitmas break.   So, I am left to think of the uses, and I will admit that not many things came to mind;  however, since I always do what my sisters tell me, here is the result.  


1.       You can watch birds

 I think you could see turkeys, field larks, and an occasional bobwhite quail.  After that, you would have to draw a bird on a paper and hang it outside the window to look at.  I am not an ornithologist, and could use some schooling on this topic.

2.        You can have a sleep over

If you are in Adrian’s blind, you can put a cot, a table, and a heater and have some friends over, but in the rest of the shelters, it will be you alone, curled up in a corner with a blanket with hand and foot warmers tucked into your clothing.

3.       You can listen to the night sounds

This is an extension of the sleep over idea.  Depending on your imagination, this would be intriguing or scary.  There would be the lowing of cattle, the rattling of such things as raccoons and possums, the oinking of feral hogs, and the howling of coyotes.  This is really kind of a good idea unless you get to thinking of all the things that you could not see or might not hear that are sneaking up on you

4.       You can watch the stars

This could best be accomplished by climbing onto the roof of one of the blinds, but there are no ladders so that would get you into the serious climbing and rappelling business.  The stars are beautiful out in the country  where no lights from town interfere, but the back of a pickup will offer a better view than the window of a blind.

5.        Randy said you could use it as a hideout in case you were a law breaker

We don’t know any of these and are not encouraging them to be on the property and especially not in our blinds.  That would be one of those sneaking sounds you wouldn’t want to hear.


In other words, in my opinion, the uses are limited.  Perhaps you could build a porch on one and put a rocking chair for warm summer evenings, plant honeysuckle to climb the poles, and paint it some color that would stand out better than the camouflage they currently sport, but I think they are all better off just standing watch until the next hunting season. 


I did see some bird hunters in town during lunch, and we are not telling them where the few quail we have seen are hiding out.  I will, however, share with you what I think is a wonderful recipe.  It was given to us by a guest from Bowling Green, Kentucky.   Try this next time you have a “mess of quail”.  The recipe can also be found in our cookbook,
Conversations from the Kitchen in the Hotel Matador.


Kentucky Quail

1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms, optional
12 quail (cleaned and skinned)
12 pieces of bacon
¼ cup butter (you may use half oil if it makes you happy)
¼ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup sour cream.


Wrap quail in bacon and brown in butter in a skillet.  Remove quail to a roaster pan and sauté sliced onion in butter and bacon grease until translucent.  Add flour, salt and pepper to skillet and brown slightly.  Add broth and stir until you have smooth gravy.  Pour over quail.  Cover tightly and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and stir in cup sour cream (and mushrooms).  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  Serve over your favorite rice.