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Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Hope everyone has a safe new year's eve. I'm staying home, will have a few snacks and hope I can keep my eyes open until midnight. :)
I'm looking forward to 2014 for some reason. Guess it's best to go into it with a positive attitude than anything else.

Have some pork, Hoppin John fixins and greens ready for tomorrow.
Bring it on 2014, I'm ready! :)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Boot Hill and The Sante Fe Trail

From my little trip to Dodge City a couple of weeks ago.  :)
The statue is called El Capitan. Not sure if you can read the sign. "The statue commemorates the Texas longhorn that gave Dodge City it's place in history as "The Queen of Cowtowns."  The longhorns are descendents of Spanish cattle brought to Mexico in the 16th century. Between 1875 and 1886 over 4 million head were driven up the trail to the Sante Fe Rail Head in Dodge City."

Pretty amazing to think of that many cattle passing through Dodge in those days. I can see why the cowboys cut loose and raised heck when they arrived at the end of the trail.

Found a room at the local Best Western on 14th and Wyatt Earp.  :)

It was ok.......the door led to a little balcony.

My favorite thing about the room was probably the pillows. I love pillows. lol

Right across from the Coors plant. :)

Checked out Casey's Cowtown for supper the first night... I really wanted to find a good steak. Figured being in the middle of beef country, I'd be able to find a nice fresh thick hunka beef.

snapped a pic of a wagon at the Cowtown...

They had prime rib so I gave it a try...came with corn, twice baked tatoe and a salad.
It wasn't the wonderful meal I had hoped to get. lol  Don't mean to complain but the corn was canned and the potato was not from this world. The meat was just ok. 

Next day I toured the town. :)  Hit Boot Hill first.


Boot Hill is pretty much a museum. During the summer there are shows, gunfights and I believe stagecoach rides. It was pretty deserted while I was there, the wind was soooo cold.

I started at one end of the boardwalk and worked my way through the can tour the place without going outside. The stores are connected, which was great!

It was actually very interesting.  Lots of history preserved in those buildings.

Hit the saloon first. Since it was December, there was no one there but the piano player. He sounded awesome! :)

the bar...

Their gun collection was impressive...

Lawmen of the past...

Chalkley Beeson and Hamilton Bell...

and more famous ones... James Masterson

And Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp...

Photo at the top on the far left side... Sheriff George T Hinkle, grandfather of Greyrooster who so kindly left a comment on this post (below). Thanks again for the info, wish the photo would have been bigger!!

another old wagon...

snapped a pic of this Thresher's cook shack..
Rolf in Germany, if you see this, you need to build one of these too. :)

One statue in downtown Dodge was interesting to me.

Good old Wyatt Earp....... swinging around, ready to pull his gun...

What I didn't realize at the time, a friend had made the statue. Mary Spurgeon from Oklahoma. She was an amazing woman, a true pioneer and cowgirl. I was privileged to know her.

Hit the casino that night, still looking for a good steak.  :)

Found an ok ribeye, came with a baked tatoe. No salad or veggie, just meat and tatoe. You can buy a salad but I knew I'd be lucky to finish the steak and tatoe (which I didn't).

 I'm not a gambler. Just haven't been around it enough to get an interest. So... I tried a few penny and quarter machines to see what it was all about. The casino was pretty packed and you could tell that some of the regulars had their favorite machines. I guess that's why they stood behind me hovering while I played. lol    I lucked out and came out with $60. more than I started with. I'm still not "hooked" but had a good time.

Ihop the next morning...

Steak tips. (still searching for that perfect steak I guess lol)

Lastly was the Sante Fe Trail...
There are many wagon tracks in the area, this little section has been fenced off so people can check them out close up. There is a path worn beside the wagon ruts where people walk the trail. I guess they want to be a part of the history...experience a small taste of what pioneers experienced so long ago.

Looking out across the land, you can see many, many wagon tracks....some are covered by tall grasses but the ruts are deep.

Close up of a wagon rut...

Lastly.... my favorite meal of all time.
Found a vietnamese cafe that served the most excellent food!!! It wasn't the beef steak I was looking for but it was a pork steak. Who woulda thunk it. :)

The Saigon Cafe...

I enjoyed seeing Dodge, it has been years since I've been there. Boot Hill was pretty interesting. My favorite was the Sante Fe Trail. Something about standing out on that hill, feeling the wind blow on my face... looking out as far as the eye could see.  Made me "think" about the brave men and women who crossed the land in search of a good life.
It was an amazing feeling. (yeah, I'm a sap).

Next thought.  I'm going to stick to cooking my own steaks. lol 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas.....and a batch of Cracklins :)

I'm definitely going to have a white Christmas this year. :)  Not sure of the exact measurements but it looks like around 10 to 12 inches of snow hit the ground a couple of days ago.  It's pretty and fluffy.....haven't had the chance to get out and enjoy it but maybe I'll do that Christmas Day.

Been under the weather with a flu bug this last week but before that hit I was able to get some pork put up, lard rendered and cracklins made.

Had a nice bone in back loin section from one of the hampshire pigs in the freezer. Cut it down, trimmed the fat, cubed some meat for the canner (made freezer space for my giant chickens and venison).

separated the tenderloin out...

separated the meat from the bones...

cut a few chops and cubed the rest for canning...

added garlic, onion and beef bouillon to each jar....

Wiped the jar rims with white vinegar to remove any pork or fat residue...

Into the pressure canner....
Times and pressures are different for each area, check your canner instructions for your area..

The canned pork will keep for several years on the shelf. 

Back to the fat... I had a combination of two bags of fat which were in the freezer.
I cubed the fat for even rendering....

Added 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the huge pot.  My stove burner is pretty hot on the low setting, so I inverted a cast iron skillet over the burner, then placed my lard pot on top to disperse the heat evenly. ( didn't think to take a pic)

Then let the fat cook over low, stirring often...

When the cracklins rise to the top and stop bubbling or foaming, they are ready to remove..

Strain the hot lard through cheesecloth, save the cracklins for later.  Pour the hot lard into clean jars.

Wipe the jar rims well, top with a clean lid...

Invert the jars for 5 minutes to seal the lids.

Sprinkle the cracklins with a little bit of salt and dive in. :)

When the lard cools, I store it in my cellar. Canned this way, it will keep at least 5 years but I use it up faster than that. 

A friend mentioned the other day that he was going to buy himself a Christmas gift.  I thought that sounded like a good idea and tried to think of something I could buy for myself.
After several days of "thinkin'" , I couldn't come up with one thing that I really needed or wanted.
I feel blessed with what I have.
For me, Christmas isn't about Hallmark cards or the latest gadgets.
I think I'll spend Christmas Day outside, enjoying the fresh air. Maybe I'll make a snow angel or two. Hmmmm... snow ice cream sounds like the perfect ending to what ever Christmas dinner I come up with.  :)

Hope everyone has a safe and Merry Christmas!!  Give your loved ones hugs and kisses while you have them cornered! :)