Friday, February 05, 2010

Fox Hunting and Building Trust

One of my dad's friends was an old dairy farmer named Archie Mayle. Archie had several sons and grandsons who all lived close by and helped out with milking and the farm.

The two activities that my dad and Archie had in common were fox hunting and making hard cider (think - apple moonshine).

Now understand that fox hunting in southern Ohio in the early '70's consisted of three or four farmers and their sons going out into the woods on a Friday night, building a big bonfire and turning the dogs loose.

For the next several hours we'd all sit by the fire and listen to the dogs as they picked up the scent of a fox and then trailed him.

You could tell if the dogs had picked up a scent and you could tell when they lost it - all by tone and length of their bark.

Each farmer knew the sound of his own dog and each would stand around the fire and brag about how he knew his dog was out in front because of the urgency he heard in the dog's howling.

Of course the consumption of large quantities of homemade hard cider had no influence whatsoever on a farmer's hearing!

One Friday night after a late hunt I ended up in bed at Archie's house instead of my own. The next morning, after the milking, nine of us sat down around the long table in Grandma Mayle's kitchen. Grandma Mayle's greatest joy in life seemed to be cooking for her extended family.

On the table were fried and scrambled eggs, ham, country sausage, the homemade biscuits with red eye gravy, crisp bacon, heaps of fried potatoes and buttery grits. Mrs.. Mayle always had fresh sliced tomatoes and home canned peaches on the breakfast table as well. It was a feast for the senses and one of my favorite childhood memories.

I was able to share in that experience because there was a sense of trust between our families. My family trusted theirs and they trusted ours. And that sense of trust existed between our families because we did things together.

It was the early 1970's in rural southern Ohio and there weren't many black and white family friendships like ours.

My dad and Archie did not see themselves as anything special, just farmers who were friends.

As a young person, those experiences of building "social capital" that crossed cultural lines had an important impact on my life and the way I would interact with people later in life.

Throughout our lives it is important to keep ourselves open to relationships with others different from ourselves because those relationships build trust.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Strategic Abandonment. - Repost From 2005

Growing up on the farm was not all hard work. It was a lot of hard work - but not all work.

My closest buddies were the five Bennett brothers who lived on the farm behind ours. We would meet on Saturdays after our chores and play 3 on 3 football, King of the hay loft, Army and anything else we could think of until well after dark.

To get to their house I had to cut through a couple of our pastures, through some woods, cross Buckeye Run (a stream), then hike through their pasture. Most of the time that could be accomplished in about 20 minutes. If you walked to their house by the road it would take you the better part of an hour.

One Saturday I took off for the Bennett's house without knowing that earlier in the week Delbert Bennett had rented a bull and had placed said bull in their pasture with the usual ten or twelve cows.

The Bennett house was in sight when I climbed over the fence into their pasture and started walking toward the farm yard. I saw the guys outside finishing their chores and they started waving at me - I waved back and kept walking. I saw the usual group of harmless cows to the right of me and did not pay much attention until I noticed that one significantly larger "cow" was looking my way.

The bull lowered his head and kicked dust up with his nose - and I suddenly realized why the Bennett boys were still waving at me! I turned and burned back over the fence before the bull got any angrier.

In the corporate world... that's called Strategic Abandonment.

Sometimes you have to recognize that no matter how hard you try, no matter the effort you put into it... the bull is going to get you if you keep going forward.

The key: Act decisively : 1) recognize the situation, 2) get back to a safe position and 3) figure another way to your goal.

Hiking along the fence and out to the road took some additional time and effort - but it was clearly my best course for success.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A few visits shy of 10 grand....

When I started this experiment in 2004 this blog served as an outlet for me.  For most of those 5 1/2 years I have enjoyed sharing my opinions and recipes and thoughts on living life.  There have been times when it has been troublesome having a blog because I felt like I had to feed it.

The times when I enjoyed it the most were when I hit on something the resonated with others and the hits went through the roof.  Mostly it has been for a ham glaze recipe that still gets hundreds of hits at Christmas and Easter. And the lyrics for "While on the Sea" gets hits. That hymn resonates with folks.

I am not stopping...while I have been neglectful... I will continue this experiment for a while yet.

If you miss my photos then "Friend" me on Facebook and you'll see some great photos of VT.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Poverty in America

People need this kind of help now more than ever before...

"About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income... In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid — no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A warming winter meal

3 or 4 pork chops bone in
2 fresh brats cut in two
2 chicken and apple sausage cut in two or 2 knockwurst cut in two
small head of cabbage sliced into 1/4 inch slices
large onion sliced
3 apples peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 cup white wine
1 can of concentrated apple juice OR two cups of apple cider

Season the chops with pork seasoning or salt and pepper and a little ancho pepper
Brown in a dutch oven in a ltlle olive oil and remove
Add and brown all your sausages and remove
De-glaze the pan with the wine or some cider, leave the liquid
Add cabbage, onion and apples to the pan and under medium heat  cook them down to reduce moisture and bulk by half, season with salt and pepper
Add concentrated apple juice or cider
Add meat back to dutch oven

Cover and braise in a 350 oven for 1.5 hour

This is a savory/sweet way to serve some old favorites...Serve with whipped potatoes and peas.

We enjoyed this today on the snowy afternoon...


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Johnson, Gorbachev, Obama

As always - Nicholas Kristof has some thoughtful words...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Turkey Day - Best Turkey Ever!

  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil


2 to 3 days before roasting: 

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.