Thursday, December 31, 2009

Not the brightest lights in dogdom!

Here are my dogs Sophie and Tristan at the start of our wood lot, barking at the echo of their own barking! They thought two other dogs were hiding in the trees. The way they were carrying on, I thought it might be a moose.


(I took this using the video option on my cheap little Canon Powershot! I'm amazed the quality is as good as it is.)

Poo-TEEN, not poo-TAIN

My friend Ronna has a new-ish blog she calls the Poutine Chronicles, which I believe I have mentioned elsewhere on Knatolee's World. She also made a fabulous faux poutine cake, and I have stolen the photo to post here:

It's so fabulous, it even made our local newspaper!

And amazingly, poutine is finally spreading across the continent. For a long time, you only ever saw it in its province of origin (Québec) and perhaps far-eastern Ontario. But now you can get poutine everywhere, including New York City:

Poutine is, of course, a cardiologist's nightmare: French fries topped with gravy and squeaky fresh cheese curds. But I must admit, I like a good poutine. After all, my favourite foods are cheese and potatoes. And you can even find vegan poutine if you look hard enough! And who can forget poutine latkes?

And the toppings now go beyond cheese curds. At Pan Chancho in Kingston, I saw poutine made with yam and potatos frites, spicy BBQ rib and aged cheddar. Other toppings found on top of poutine include hot dogs, ground beef, and pulled pork. I think the sky's the limit these days when it comes to adding cholesterol to poutine.

But please, it's pronounced "poo-TEEN" not "poo-TAIN." If you're not careful about that, you'll find yourself ordering a whore instead of a nice plate of fries with curds and gravy!

Now go find yourself a plate of this fresh, hot, Quebecois delight.

And here's a link for my friend Claudia, and anyone else looking for reviews of poutine in Toronto:

Thanks to Ronna, from whose blog I stole this link, the video, and the cake photo! :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The city folks come to the country!

If you recall, last May we went to NYC and visited our friends Gary and Brian. This week, they stopped by the farm for a dose of COUNTRY:

Gordon, Gary and Brian hanging out by the wood shed.

Gordon and Brian have been friends since the start of law school in 1989, and I think Brian first sampled my cheesecake (that's not a euphemism; he actually likes my baking!) in 1990. Gary is a wonderful new addition to our circle of friends.

Here, Gordon and I are toughing out the cold while Brian sensibly wears a hat. Of course, now that he's a wimped-out New Yorker without a proper winter coat of his own, I guess he's lost his Canadian edge. But more likely, Gordon and I are just senseless fools who don't know when to come in out of the cold.

And no one's visit is complete without a photo on the Bush Hog zero-turn mower! Maybe one day we'll have a real tractor for guests to pose on.

Does this not just ooze testosterone?

Brian wisely reacts with fear as Gary wields the Christmas-tree killing battery-operated SAW OF DEATH!

Meanwhile, down at the chicken coop Gary and Brian check out the local wildlife, as the local wildlife checks out them. "Mmm, shiny eyeballs, I love shiny eyeballs! May I peck yours out? Cluck cluck cluck!"

It was great to see Gary and Brian again. New Yorkers are welcome on our farm anytime, especially when they bring Stratus ice wine, croissants, baguettes and other goodies! Because you know, the way to my heart is through my stomach.

And now for something completely different. I got this "teacup owl" on (where I did most of my Christmas shopping this year), and he has found a perfect home in the beautiful teacup painted by my talented friend Ronna (check out the Faux Spaghetti & Meatball cake she made!)

The owl does have to vacate its china nest when I make a cuppa! Etsy artisan Protean made this little cutie. I love her stuff.

Okay, gotta go make myself a cuppa Marks & Spencer Extra Strong.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Back from the holiday hoopla!

I have to be honest: Christmas makes me want to stick a fork in my eye. So many expectations, so much time spent doing what other people want... I'm so done with this!!! And being as I am not religious at all, I can't even claim a spiritual connection to the holiday. Therefore, next December I think I will celebrate Knatolee Day instead, and sit in my pajamas eating cheese and chocolate and watching movies until I pass out from bloat. Gordon can revive me with eggnog. But for those who did celebrate Christmas this year, I hope you had a great one!

And here is our most ugly-ass Christmas tree ever. The tree itself, which we cut down from our woodlot, was actually not that bad, but it is abundantly obvious that we really did not put much effort into the decorating job. That said, the tree makes me laugh every time I look at it, which must be worth something:

As far as I am concerned, Gordon has a garland-stringing disability. I am not letting him near it next year.

Meanwhile, my friend Denise has been sending me the annual Fancy Feast Christmas tree ornament every year for a decade now. The ornaments crack me up! Our very favourite is Divan Kitty:

But we have a soft spot in our hearts for 1999 kitty as well:

The ornaments have moved away from stuffed kitties in recent years, which is kind of a shame. They are getting too tasteful! This year's piece was a glass tree topper. We have decided that next year, we are getting a tiny tree JUST for the Fancy Feast ornaments. I can't wait... a tree full of cats! (Wait, I had that last year!)

For my friend Judy, I knit mittens, my first pair ever:

I don't know why it took me 30 years to knit mitts. They are way easier than socks! These are from a Fleece Artist kit using a blend of mohair and Blue Face aran. Now Gordon wants a pair.

And here is Naomi in one of her favourite spots. It is particularly hard to type when she falls asleep on my left arm!

I got lots of fabulous Christmas gifts, but I am particularly fond of the felt monster iPod Touch case Gordon got me:

It has a loop on the back so you can attach it to your belt. It was made by a talented artist named Phillipa from Birmingham, England. Check out her Etsy shop, FeltAtHome. I did most of my Christmas shopping on Etsy this year, and it was great supporting artists and buying handmade goodies.

When we got home yesterday, we discovered this whopper in the hen house:

It is thus far the record-setter at one hundred grams. It is just enormous! I can't even close the egg carton lid over it.

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year's eve, and please, please do not drink and drive! My friend's granddaughter was killed by a drunk driver just before Christmas last year and it devastated her family. She was a beautiful young woman who had so much to offer the world, and now she is gone forever. Please think about that before you put the keys in the ignition after having one too many!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry merry!

It has been a bit of a mad week, what with the holidays coming and all! Here are a few sunset pictures from the other night. Hope everyone who celebrates it has a very Merry Christmas, and I wish all of you a wonderful, happy and healthy 2010. I promise to bring you many more chicken stories!


Monday, December 21, 2009

A tree is slaughtered in the forest...

Well, to be more precise, a diseased white spruce that needed cutting down gave up its life yesterday to be our Christmas tree this year! This was Gordon's idea and while I initially scoffed at the idea of a "Charlie Brown" tree, I eventually gave in to the plan.

The tree was about ten years old and its trunk narrow enough that Gordon could cut it with his girly chainsaw (as opposed to his real, dangerous saw) that runs on a rechargeable battery!

Success! The tree is down. We only took the top seven feet or so.

The dogs and I celebrate the tree slaughter.

Of course, we had to haul that sucker back over 40 acres or so to the house.

Don't worry. It'll be a cold day in hell before I ever hold a running chainsaw. The switch was firmly OFF.

He looks so happy, and what man wouldn't after cutting things down with a power tool?

By the time we got back to the house, the dogs were cold and ready to go inside!

Meanwhile, the chickens were frolicking in the barn.

And after a hard hour in the forest, what could be better but beautiful bread made by our baker friend Willie?

He said this is not technically Stollen bread, but it was still DELICIOUS!

Willie used to be a professional baker but he is retired now (a tragic loss to stomachs all over Canada!) However, he was kind enough to get out the yeast and bake us this AND a dozen of his fabulous cinnamon buns, the best on the planet! Oh, and he also sent us on our way with homemade chocolate ice cream. Willie also makes the best ice cream on the planet. And pizza soup. And a whole bunch of other yummies.

Today is the first day of winter. We'll be decorating our tree tonight, and inhaling ice cream!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oatmeal for the world's most spoiled chickens...

We're having a rather early cold snap this year, and it dropped down to -29C the other day. I have been feeling sorry for the chickens (but don't worry, their coop has two heat lamps and is draught-free and they are quite warm enough in there!) so I've started making them oatmeal at bedtime every other night. Last night I got all Christmas-y and threw in some cranberries that had been in the freezer for a year, and some peas!

The girls were VERY impressed!

They were flinging oatmeal all over the place, spraying it on each other and pecking it off.

It all gets a bit messy but they love it. And I have to say, their eggs are reeeeally tasty!

I love my hens.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sock Monkey addendum

I stole, I mean, borrowed, this photo from last night off my friend Ronna's blog. The sock monkeys look VERY pleased with themselves. I think they may have gotten into the poutine latkes!

It's so nice to have a sock-monkey-positive friend! :)

A new twist on an old favourite...

Last night was the final night of Hanukkah, and we went to our first Hanukkah meal ever at my friend Ronna's house.

I enjoyed lighting some of the candles. You can see why Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights.

And these 3D glasses that turned the flames into Stars of David were really cool!

But the best part of the meal?

POUTINE LATKES, invented by Ronna! They were a cross-cultural delight. Ronna has a great new blog called the Poutine Chronicles, and I consider her the "Queen of Poutine," (or perhaps La reine de poutine) as does the New York Times. For those not in the know, poutine is a Quebec delicacy that traditionally features French fries with gravy and cheese curds on top. While poutine is a heart attack on a plate, it's also really yummy!

Here is the Queen of Poutine with her remarkable new creation.

Regular latkes next to the poutine variety.

Me sampling the deliciousity. I ate many poutine latkes and many more regular latkes, plus delicious chicken, salad and asparagus. Thus began the season of stuffing myself like a turkey on a daily basis!

Gordon expounds upon the excellence of POUTINE LATKES!

Ronna's beau Richard, with eyes blanked out because I've decided he works as a spy for CSIS, scrapes the last morsels of delightfulness from the poutine platter.

Dessert was suitably light and scrumptious!

And guess what? My sock monkey came along to party with Ronna's sock monkeys. He was quite well behaved...

...until he got into the vino and passed out in Miz Sock Monkey's lap!

What a wonderful evening. Thank you Ronna and Secret Spy Richard! (Ooops. I guess I've blown his cover. I hope they don't waterboard you, Richard.)

And today we are visiting our German baker friend and his partner. I have been promised cinnamon rolls and Stollen It is possible I may explode before Friday...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our most senior pet

Here is the much-loved but seldom photographed Kartini, a 16-year-old leopard gecko, named after an Indonesia heroine, because Kartini was a wedding gift, and we spent part of our southeast Asian honeymoon in Indonesia!

She's the least trouble of any of our pets and leads a quiet life in her terrarium, eating crickets and other insects.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A sure sign of winter...

...the need to wear snowshoes to walk the dogs around the farm!

I think we got a bit more snow yesterday than initially anticipated. It's starting to build up now. The chickens are not impressed and refuse to leave the barn.

But the dogs love it. I think they were hunting meadow voles, which tunnel along under the snow. Intrepid little creatures!

Snowy weeds.

And my first snowperson of the winter, a diminutive fellow at about 7" tall.

More snow on the way this evening!