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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deacon Burton's Country Pound Cake

Some day, I will learn to let things be, but evidently not today.

Last week, I made a lovely apple cake, and while looking for the recipe, I stumbled across a pound cake recipe that I haven't made in maybe 30+ years. Jeez, I must be old.

Anyway, today I pulled out the recipe with the double titles - Aunt Clare's Pound Cake AKA Deacon Burton's Country Pound Cake.

This is not my cake; it is Amelia's, but mine looks just like it. Except for the fancy plate, the pretty background and the good photography.  My computer died, and I can't get the pictures of my cake that are on my phone to download. Please don't sue me.

Aunt Clare was one of my mother's older sisters. She was funny, self effacing, had a beautiful alto voice and was chubby since childhood. Granny sent her to fat camp in the late 1920's or early 30's - fat was unattractive, and Granny didn't believe in that kind of thing under her roof. Clare didn't have a single gray hair on her dark brunette head the day she died of liver cancer at the age of 72 (having previously survived mouth cancer). Everybody loved Clare.

I wanted to see if there was some record of the Deacon's recipe out there, so naturally I turned to Google. I found a reference to Son's Place, an Atlanta restaurant, now closed. Turns out Son was the son of Deacon Burton, and took over running the place after his daddy died.

Son's Place, before it closed. Classified as a "meat and 3" restaurant.

I have no idea how Aunt Clare got this recipe. The family was from Kentucky, not Georgia.

Anyhoo, I started mixing things according to the recipe, and then I had a thought. This is almost never good.

Instead of the 2  teaspoons of vanilla or lemon, I decided I would add 1/2 teaspoon of Fiori Di Sicilia, an oil based citrus and vanilla flavoring. The thing I forgot is that I don't care for that flavoring very much. It has just a bit too much citrus peel flavor for me. I like plain old pound cake, with either slightly too much real vanilla extract OR fresh squeezed lemon juice (and no peel), but not both. Or maybe I would like both of those, but that's not what I added.

Then I got nervous that I didn't see any leavening agents in the Deacon's recipe, so I found the Land O' Lakes butter people's lemon pound cake recipe, and used what they had listed. Turns out, the Deacon's cake doesn't do too well if you add leavening. What that addition tends to do is make the batter rise up just enough to spill out onto the oven floor and make a big stinky mess.

So it's 90° outside, the air conditioner is on, and so is the self cleaning oven. I guess it would be more uncomfortable if there was a self cleaning oven and no A/C, but this combo makes for some very nice energy sucking guilt.

And the cake doesn't even taste good enough to make me feel better. Poo. Anyway, here is the original version of

1  pound of butter, softened
1 pound white sugar  (2.25 cups)
1 pound flour  (3.25 cups)
8 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla or lemon

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Slowly incorporate the flour.
Pour batter into a well greased tube or bundt pan.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325° for an hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes and invert onto a cooling rack or plate.

If you know Son, I would dearly love to talk with him.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bear vs. Compost Bin

I didn't know where else to put the cool photo of this cloud, so it's here.
Our neighbor Chelsea mentioned last week that she had seen a bear in her garbage cans. This was quite surprising to me, as we had been told that folks had only seen coyotes and lions (local slang for cougars), but NO bears. When I went up Thursday, I saw that said bear had visited our compost bin inside the fenced "orchard". This is totally unacceptable. Since he had already left the area, we could not have words with him. But we did think of a way to convey our disapproval of future visits.

Mr. Bear knocked over the bin, and then it rained like an SOB, and now the compost is VERY heavy and difficult to move. Dumb bear. Whaddya get? A few cherry pits? Some crushed egg shells? I hope you are happy, you dumb bear.
These bins are not made to be moved once they are set up and have stuff in them. Dumb bear.

How am I supposed to get this thing upright and straightened out with 60 pounds of wet compost holding it to the ground? Dumb, dumb bear.
You can see that Mikey was not happy with the bear's antics.

This should keep it from happening again.

Where Have All the Cottonwood Leaves Gone? Into Caterpillers Tummys, Every One (To the Tune of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone")

What the hell is this on Mikey's leg?
Over the last few weeks, we noticed that some of the cottonwood trees around the Cañon land, even the ones close to the Arkansas River, were turning brown. Were they dying?

These were bright green this spring.

Sunday we went down to Cañon so Mikey could caulk the gap between the house and the gutters. We took some time to go down to the ponds, and found that scores of cottonwood trees had been stripped of their leaves or were in the process of turning brown from stress. Who was doing this? We think the culprit is the Western Tent Caterpillar.

This young cottonwood shows a bit of new leaf growth despite all of the old leaves having been nommed by something. There are several somethings on the branches.

This doesn't really look like the tents of the western tent caterpillar - it looks more like the nest of the fall webworm. But fall webworms aren't known for completely defoliating trees.

See the tree on the left? May or June 2011

Same group of trees from a different angle - August 2011.
From what I've been able to learn so far, even the complete defoliation of a tree at this time of year will not be fatal unless there are other stressors present, like drought or a repeated defoliation. But it sure feels bad to look at all those previously lush trees and now see this. And all the little creepy crawlies on the ground. They are everywhere. Ick.

Julia Mae and Her Entourage

 Last Saturday we had the pleasure babysitting the lovely and vivacious Julia Mae Baumgardner for the day. It has been a long time since either of us has had a baby in the house. The best thing about it, other than the extraordinary presence of J.M.B. herself was that Mikey made funny faces and baby talked to her.

Hoopa is a good dog, but there were a few times when she looked at Julia as if she was a possible candidate for the luncheon entree.

Bubba looks very much like Julia's companion, Phoenix, so I'm sure there was some confusion in her 5 month old mind. There certainly was in Bubba's. 

Bubba kept jumping up on the side of the playpen. No one knows why, not even the Bubs.

What shall we watch? Baseball or golf?

Some of us got tired.

The afternoon crash was unexpected.

Oh, that silly Poppi.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Colorado Water Law and The Right to Collect Rainwater

My last post about yesterday's big rain on the Cañon land reminded me that many people don't know about the astonishingly stupid rainwater harvesting* regulations that we have here.

This excellent synopsis from CSU Extension service describes the 5 criteria one must meet in order to legally collect rainwater. My comments are in italics.

Senate Bill 09-080, which was passed and signed during the 2009 legislative session, allows limited collection and use of precipitation for Colorado landowners. The changes apply only to residential properties that are supplied by a well (or could qualify for a well permit) (You folks who live in town and want to be responsible stewards of the precious gift that is rain, and also lower your water bill, cannot collect. At all. Ever. So why do they sell rainwater barrels at Home Depot, and why does Mother Earth New's Robin Griggs fail to revise her article about this subject?) 

Landowners will complete a permit application, supplied by the Division of Water Resources, that will provide notice of their intent to collect precipitation and a description of how they intend to do it.
To qualify for a permit, you must meet a minimum of the following criteria:
  • The property on which the collection takes place is residential property. (If you own a building housing your business, you have no right to the water falling on your roof. Of your own building. That you own.)
  • The landowner uses a well, or is legally entitled to a well for the water supply.
  • The well is permitted for domestic uses according to Section 37-92-602 or Section 37-90-105, C.R.S..  (If you own property that is 35 acres or larger, you can usually get a domestic and livestock well. Only one of these wells is allowed per parcel. The well may serve up to three single-family dwellings, irrigate one acre or less of lawn and garden, and provide water for domestic animals and livestock. This is different from a household well permit which says water can be used only inside the home. Water cannot be used to irrigate lawns, gardens, windbreaks, livestock, or any other outside use. That you own.)
  • There is no water supply available in the area from a municipality or water district. (If water is available from a local entity, apparently you are required to pay whatever they want to charge to bring it to your house. Even if you live in an area of wells and don't want their water service.)
  • The rainwater is collected only from the roof of the home.
  • The water is used only for those uses that are allowed by, and identified on, the well permit. (So if you have a household only well, and you are living within the restrictions of the terms of the permit, you are not allowed to be environmental responsible and collect water to say, water a vegetable garden. No, that would make you a law breaker.)
The nice flower photos are your reward for reading this boring diatribe. Thank you.

It's one of those things that makes you go, "Hmmm". Particularly since studies have shown that collecting rainwater does not reduce river and stream flow volumes.

*Rainwater harvesting is the process of intercepting storm-water runoff and putting it to beneficial use.

Rain, Rain, Go Away. No, Stay! No, Go and Take the Mud With You

Our neighbor Chelsea was perplexed when I told her she'd better not try to get down the driveway after yesterday's rain. Evidently, they who are uphill from us have had all their clay eroded and washed down to us, and they are left with just lovely clean sand. That you can walk on after a rain. Without getting Frankenstein shoes. Those lucky dogs.

It's like the rain plumps up the clay and puts some of the particles into solution. Everything is kind of shiny grey-brown.

Mikey's gutter system fills the old fishpond pretty full. It will drain out by morning, so no blue armpitted lizard deaths.

Are you people Back East going, "So What? It's just rain." But it is a big deal for us out here in The Great Dry West. Out here, if it rains in August, you take pictures. To remember it by.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sayonara, Popcorn Ceiling

Mikey finished removing the popcorn ceiling texture from the living room and kitchen areas. I am humbled by his willingness to do this wretched job to completion. Dang if he isn't a li'l  ol' human bulldog.

That's half of a fan box he's using as a hawk, with finger holes punched in to keep his hand from cramping, and scraping with a 4" or 5" spackling knife.

Most, but not all, of the stuff falls onto the hawk, and then he tips it into a trash can and does the next section.

Corners require more attention and spraying.

Sometimes this happens, but it's not too bad to fix.

It is amazing how much cleaner the room looks without all those little shadows on the ceiling doing their best imitation of dirt.

Next: Pale blue paint for everything!

The Front Door's New Color

The front door had this weird shaded area on it. We couldn't figure out if it was sun damage or a failed spray paint attempt, but it had to go.

It is sort of window shaped, so I guess it's sun damage. It faces west.

Now it is the happiest front door for miles! And it makes the house paint look really dirty.

From a distance, it almost fluoresces.

Gawd, but I do love a good yellow.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gutters, Short Legs and the Fishpond

It's the hind feet that have me perplexed.
If Bubba's legs were longer, would they eventually touch the floor? How much weight would he have to lose in order for the toes to touch the floor at his current height?

Mikey has been obsessed with putting gutters on the DWT. There are certain things in his world that are givens - pancakes are for breakfast only, comfortable undies are a God given right, and all house he owns shall have gutters. So that's what we did last weekend.
One long 40' run on the back side. We wanted it to drain the other direction, but the house is leaning so much that we couldn't slope it properly.

Front right side. Pretty exciting.

A gutter and Christmas lights to boot. Free lights with home purchase.

I've been obsessed with removing the "fishpond" out front. We'll never have little fishies in there, and all it has been so far is a death trap for the lizards with blue armpits. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell Mikey that I've been obsessed with removing it, and sort of sprang it on him that I wanted to remove it. Right then. If he didn't mind. Which he did, but he is such a good sport that he indulged me anyway.

The edge was covered with rocks so we didn't really know what was under there.

Oh, Look! It is a jetted tub! This is just the kind of project I can see myself doing. Really. Only I'd put plants in it.

Pike pole + testosterone + perseverance = Goodbye fishpond!  We'll just add it to the garbage pile down by the stable.

It is really good to be the wifey of a great guy. Thanks, Mikey.

Project Inspector H.

Project Inspectors H and M.

And the final project for this weekend - a way to dry clothes! Hooray!

If the place weren't so pretty, I'd just give up now. But look at the view. It keeps bringing us back.