innagadadabrownies,baby

chickbench

Leg! and a friend

Ha!  I’m in Green Acres Mode!  Deal with it!  I’m sitting here in a beaded silk sari coat and gold high-heel mules…and I just turned around and found Leg on the garden bench, looking into the living room window!  Bwwwaaaack!

Such a weird little life o’ mine! ..sari aside, I’m all about the garden right now.  We’ve had a strange Summer, hoodie days morphing into Death Valley Days, turning into chilly rain, then more heat…it’s just bizarre.  Usually this time would see baskets and bushels of tomatoes, ready for processing. Instead I’ve got maybe enough for 4 jars of salsa, with the rest still ripening on the vine.  And you know what?  That’s just fine by me. No  dishwasher right now(boo!) and the idea of having to sterilize 3 dozen Mason jars all at once is…….daunting…

…but let me stop right there and tell you a leetle story.  So this morning I was feeling all le sigh, as I ground the coffee, snapped on the coffeemaker, ran the tap to fill up the chicken waterer, opened the garage door (with the electric door opener) to get the feed to fill their feed tubes, came back in, threw a load of laundry in the machine and a breakfast burrito in the microwave.  Le sigh, I said.  This homesteadin’s HORD!  Then I burst out laughing so loud I scared the dog!  Hard?    Are you kidding me?  I have 8 chickens (soon to be 6 – two are roosters and We Cannot Have That) – their lives and production, while important to me, are not necessary to our survival.    I have a kitchen garden – by choice.  If I get sick of harvesting produce I can drive over and buy it from my local farmer or – gasp! – my local grocery.  I cleaned the coop, then I came in and took a hot shower!  I didn’t have to fight off hyenas or go down to the creek, avoiding snakes and ticks and zombies to beat our clothes on some rock.  Fire goooood!  Especially since I just have to turn on the bloody stove.  Oh, yeah…homesteadin’s hard.  But you know what?  It is, sort of.  I mean, it’s nothing compared to what the original homesteaders had to do to survive but still…after the 60th tomato I totally get why so many people don’t do it.   But I get a kick out of growing so much of our food – we have the space and I am possessed of 9 green digits*.  Howevah!  for those who are considering Growing Your Own on any scale, save a tomato plant or two, lemme tell you – planting?  Easy-peas.  It’s the harvest that’ll beat you to flinders.  Not ungrateful here – I’m thrilled to be freezing broccoli, greens, cabbage (gonna pickle it!), my onions are drying as we speak………but this is the time where it’s all hands on deck and right now I’m All Hands and it’s sweaty work and I’m setting out seedlings for Autumn planting as well.   I started our Autumn lettuce too early so it’s harvest now and reseed.  Luckily lettuce is eager to cooperate.  Spinach?  Not so much (*that 10th digit is the Spinach Digit).  I don’t understand how 3rd graders can grow spinach.  I can’t.  Maybe I need to get a 3rd grader over here.

I lost my peach tree – one minute it was fine, full of fruit.  The next, boom!  Black and dead.  And my bees.  I watched the entire hive  leave – for a minute I thought about trying to shoo them back in……yeah, right.  Hive got moved and the top was left ajar.  Queen left.  The rest is history.  As are my bees. Crap.   But gardening is an exercise in hopefulness.  I’m growing those stupid chickens so that they, in turn, will grow some eggs.  And the next peach tree, own-root,  is on its way..with a friend!

Weird question:  so the ‘off-the-grid’ homesteaders………the ones who have a blog?  How does that work?   Every time I read a Mother Earth News story about that, I wonder…

One other question:  free-range vegetarian eggs.  I don’t get how that is possible.  6 months ago I would’ve bought into that notion – but my chickens roam our yard and lemme tell you, no beetle, worm or frog is safe from their relentless predations.  From where I stand, chickens will kill and eat anything that doesn’t eat them first.  So unless you cage those girls, INSIDE, and only feed them greens………this is just one more ” how does that work?”

Perfume:  are you kidding me?  70% rubbing alcohol and Benadryl gel.  My skin is trying to leap off my bones.   Four wheelbarrows full of thistles and weeds and itchy things.  Four.   Three days of yanking, hoeing, pulling, chopping, ripping, raking…but once I stop itching I will probably wear Amouage Al Mas attar.  Or Jean Nate.  Or both.  They’re actually pretty nice together.  But I already told you that.  So you already know.  And I lied.  I am wearing the 80s version of Coty Chypre.  Perfect for this sunny, coolish day.

Here’s the brownies from scratch recipe I promised.  I figure it’s the very least I can do, since this is one of ‘those’ posts, where y’all put up with my rattly, babbly self…just an fyi on the recipe; this is not Chemistry – Walter White Would Not Approve.  Just dump it all in a bowl and have at it.  This is my mom’s basic recipe, which I think she got from her mom, who probably got it from Methusela’s mom.  I add a square of melted baker’s chocolate, some chocolate chips (but not too many), some pecans or walnuts, depending upon what I have at hand.  I’ve also added chili flakes, cinnamon,ginger orange or lemon peel, you name it.  Have fun with it!  I’ve been having fun with this recipe for 50 years!  Yikes!!!  Ah’m OLD!

350F oven for about 30mins (I check them about 25 mins in) Unless you want slightly gooeyer (gooier?) brownies, then bake them at 345F for about 25 mins and let them cool in the oven, which will give it that nice crackly, snappy top and fudgier insides.

6T regular cocoa (do not use Dutch process – it makes ’em taste funny)

1Cup sugar

2 eggs

1tvanilla (or more – up to you)

3/4Cup unbleached flour (though my mother used regular old Pillsbury flour)

1 stick of butter

1T oil (I couldn’t figure out why mine weren’t as moist and fabulicious as I remembered my mother’s being – then I remembered that we used Imperial Margarine in our house – for everything.  Well, I’m not doing that  – but that little bit of oil slickers up the batter and makes them just fabulous.  I use either veg oil or grapeseed.  No olive, unless you are looking for a whole other kind of taste.  But ymmv.

 

Mix together (I always add the butter last and cut it in but really, it doesn’t matter). Throw in whatever you want (this is where I throw in the chips and nuts).  Grease up a 8×10 or 9×13 (or something similar, depending upon how thick you want them) Pyrex dish – My bff’s daughter uses metal pans.  Really, this recipe is absurdly forgiving.  Just don’t overbake – it ends up a tragic mess.

  • Portia says:

    I love your CER AY ZEE shit Musette. Wearing the coat? Very happy

    Portia xx

  • CC ... says:

    Thank you for the recipe. Must try it when/if the weather cools down. i love your posts. 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    Thanks for the recipe, the cool weather has me making brownies a lot recently, rockin out Ina Garten’s and pb swirl. If chocolate is good, adding coffee or pb, yeah! Your recipe seems much more budget friendly than what I’ve been doing, no nuts or expensive chocolate bars or chips, only one stick of butter. XOXOX

  • Beth says:

    Ah Musette, I love to read these posts of yours! The chickens crack me up. Makes me consider getting some, even living in a suburb, if they would eat everything. Think they go after mice?

    Sorry to hear about your peaches, it’s so odd when something like that happens. And now I’m going to have to make brownies this weekend!!

    • Musette says:

      you gladden my heart! Chickens eat EVERYTHING! I had a bunch of those little tree frogs…..’had’ being the operative word. xoxo

  • rosarita says:

    I love these posts of yours 🙂 We tried a few peppers in containers this year and learned that the containers are too small, so now we know for next year. For tomatoes and other veggies I depend on the kindness of others, and have all I can use. My neighbor gave me a gorgeous cabbage yesterday, and part of his peach tree blew down, so we are harvesting peaches like crazy. The squirrels in our neighborhood… I find fruit all over the place, apples and pears and peaches, not to mention tomatoes and peppers – the squirrels take one bite and leave them to rot. We have squirrels the size of small dogs.

    • rosarita says:

      PS: I’ve made your brownies several times and they are fabulous. And I laughed at Green Acres mode; the stores! the chores! I wish you would post a picture of your beaded sari coat!

    • Musette says:

      I’m so glad! I worry about the yarkle-barkle posts!

      I would beat those squirrels to flinders!

  • eldarwen22 says:

    My dad lost his garden this year for the second year in a row except for a couple tomato plants. Last year, it was some kind of blight and the drought. This year it was the amount of rain that pretty much killed it.

  • Ann says:

    Oh my goodness, dear, you do have a full plate (but in a good way). The tomato crop is pretty sad (at least here — think we got waaay too much rain this spring and summer), but I’m not complaining, mind you. And thanks for the recipe — sounds good. Hang in there!

  • poodle says:

    Chickens, any birds, need a food diet with protein and calcium in it to make eggs. If they don’t get a good diet they could produce eggs with shells that they are unable to pass causing them to be egg bound which is a life threatening condition for a bird. I don’t have chickens though I have small parrots and they’re both boys so I don’t have to worry about any egg issues.
    My veggies are awful this year. Must be the weather. I’m seriously considering just yanking everything up and cleaning up the area for next year. Thanks for the recipe, I can drown my sorrows in chocolate.