So it’s your turn to host the clan for the Thanksgiving extravaganza and you’re trying to decide if there is a way to get the house in presentable “haven’t seen these people in a year” shape without tearing the whole place down and starting over. The key to your success is in the details. When you clean your house remove all of the current accent pieces, the ones you have had out since you moved into the house, and start fresh. Clear the pillows from the petrified sofa and the colorless vase from the mantle and begin your adventure into tasteful, always inviting, cowgirl chic. A pillow with leather fringe and a pounded metal, bling ridden receptacle for your mums will bring new life to the old walls, without the hours of work that you should spend making your pies. Dress your house for the holiday in a way that will have them stopping and smiling and thinking how truly clever you are. Pine Country Feed will set you up in a quick morning’s stop, and send you on your way with a treasure trove of wow!
Hollywood loves horses, in every form. They love the horse that can win a race, or the horse that stands by his man until the last shot is fired. They have given us talking horses, horses that fly, singing and dancing horses, carousel horses and horses that have broken our hearts. They are the favorite means of transportation in an entire genre of movies, and most of the favorite film stars of the forties, fifties and sixties ended up on a horse at one time or another. Horses are back in style on the silver screen with westerns making a come-back over the last fifteen years. Today’s westerns are more violent and the main characters never bathe, but one thing is consistent with the early western. The best friend of the cowboy, rancher, farmer, or settler is still the horse. The west simply wouldn’t have been settled without them. The four legged beasts are beautiful, noble, intelligent, usually gentle pictures of the soul of an era that was misbehaved, poorly planned and truly brutal. When everyone else was spitting, drinking too much, gun fighting in the streets, the horse brought a grace and sureness to America’s wild picture of the west that makes us love them. They are the spirit of what we wish we could be; strong, sleek, peaceful. And they do talk by the way – you just have to listen really carefully.
Take a guy who had an odd way of talking and an even odder way of walking, who couldn’t finish college because a body surfing injury made him lose his athletic scholarship, whose application to the Naval Academy was rejected, whose first real job paid him $105 per week, and whose given name at birth was Marion, and what do you get? You get one of the top three most popular film stars of all time, and the only one to make the list every year since the poll started. John Wayne, who was too tall and broad to really fit into the Hollywood scene, but ended up with lead roles in 142 films, and is now thought of as a legend for his work on the screen, didn’t start out with aspirations of stardom. The celebrity came to him after nine years of bit parts, one in which he played a corpse, and hours mentoring with stunt men about riding horses and straddling fences and taking a fall in a gunfight, and his “don’t mess with me” attitude when he refused to work with a major film maker because he didn’t like the way “the guy had treated him when he was nobody”. His stardom came from the way he owned the screen, the fact that he looked like he was born on a horse, the distinctive intonation in his voice that he didn’t even try to change, and the fact that in all but one of his roles he played a rough talking, heavy drinking, fight at the drop of a hat, good guy. He brought us bigger than life characters and better than life stories and he did it without being “discovered”. He just stayed with it until the screen was ready for John Wayne, and that took a few years.
Nothing says fall like a pot of soup on the stove, and soup made with the best of autumn’s ingredients says it even louder. This recipe puts it all together with ease and a dash of pizzazz.
Place 2 butternut squash (about 4 pounds), halved and seeded, in a 425˚ oven. Sprinkle with 8-10 chopped sage leaves and salt and pepper, dot with 2 tablespoons butter and roast for 1 hour. After cooling the squash scrape out the flesh and set aside.
In a large sauce pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and sauté one small chopped onion until tender. Add squash, 4 cups chicken stock, 1 cup apple cider, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce, pinch nutmeg and ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.
Puree cooked mixture in the pot with an immersion blender, or if you don’t have one, use a regular blender then return to the pot. Reheat the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste, then just before serving stir in ½ cup heavy cream. Top individual servings with peeled, diced apple, or a dollop of sour cream.
This recipe serves 8 as a side dish with grilled German sausage over sautéed green cabbage and sliced red peppers. Delicious comfort!
When Anna Sewell wrote her novel, Black Beauty, it was an immediate hit, selling 50 million copies, making it one of the best-selling novels of all time. It is the story of a horse, told by a horse and it threads a heartwarming and adventuresome tale of life in 1877 England from the viewpoint of the four legged laborers that kept civilization moving in those days. The book, besides being an intriguing read, addresses the humane, or inhumane as it were, treatment of animals, and specifically horses in that time. Horses were for work and the heroin of the story, Black Beauty, struggles through many different owners and works more than her share until one day she lands in the hands and heart of someone who truly loves her for the remarkable creature she is. Sewell’s story, though a fiction, stirred a new commitment to the proper treatment of animals and put horses in a place of dignity that many had not recognized before. By giving Beauty human qualities and a relatable, tender personality Sewell succeeded in carving out a place in our lives for these noble, intelligent beings that pays them the homage they deserve. It is notable that Anna Sewell wrote this book as she was dying, and just five months after its publication she passed, making Black Beauty her first and last novel and her legacy.
We spend a lot of time in the kitchen – cooking, eating, doing dishes, drinking coffee, eating again – and it needs to be a place we feel called to, a room that tells us we are home. Sometimes we get so busy thinking of the kitchen as a “utility” room that we forget to make it work aesthetically. On the flip side, a kitchen that suffers from décor overload can make us feel disorganized and stressed. The kitchen does have to support the work that goes on there, but it should also be pleasing to the eye. Martha Stewart who simply refuses to work in a kitchen that is anything less than beautiful , suggests an investment in small appliances, bake ware and utensils that are not only functional, but that are pleasing to the eye. A mixer can beat the egg whites into a meringue just as well when it is lime green as opposed to something the color of Cream of Wheat. Have some fun, add some color, or go the other way and take every drop of color out. A totally white, or a silver and black palette can be stunning. Your kitchen works hard and it is screaming for drama, something that says to the world, “the food cooked in this room may change your life”. Make your kitchen a place you want to be after dinner is done and the dishwasher is running. And while you’re there, put your feet up. You work hard too.
What is it about us that makes us love a cowboy? Maybe it’s because we think the truth is important, and pretention a waste of energy. There is something right about the man who gets up in the morning knowing that his day will be full and his exhaustion at the end of it complete, that the people he cares about are counting on him to work the land and move the cattle despite the elements. We like that he doesn’t try to impress us with his money or his education, because our opinion doesn’t really matter to him. His goal is to look himself in the mirror every evening and know that he left everything he had on the range, and tomorrow he will get up and do it again, because it is just what he does. Not to impress anyone, but because he wants to do it. He cares about the land and the livestock and treating both of them with respect. And when the sky grows dark and the ranch rests quietly he’ll sleep in his bed, knowing he did it right for another day, and every callous was worth it.