Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The long winter starts getting to me right about now every year. I start getting sick of layering up sweaters and socks to go outside. I start wishing for beaches and sunshine and little paper umbrellas floating in cool, brightly colored drinks.
Lucky for me, we have the perfect prescription here at Drowsy Water Ranch. We share this little secret with our family and friends each summer at our Colorado Dude Ranch. It cures my dreams of islands and my addiction to saltwater.
I'm going to share our cure with you; I'm going to show you how we make our mouth-watering carrot cake. And, let me tell you, this Drowsy Water Ranch Carrot Cake does it all: it warms the belly and the soul, ridding you of any winter time blahs. . .(or any time of year blahs. . .I'm pretty sure I could come up with a darn good reason to eat this stuff any day of the year).
The recipe is actually from the mother of Mark Hammar. Mark worked at the ranch for years and years and was like a big brother to Justin. Mark told me that, one time when he was watching young Justin while Ken and Randy Sue were away, he asked Justin to go choose a book to read before bed. You want to know what the seven-year-old version of my husband brought back? A tractor manual. What a weirdo. He still reads tractor manuals for kicks.
Anyways, thanks to Mark's mother for a wonderful recipe that has been used and enjoyed at Drowsy Water Ranch time and time again.
Back to the cake. . .The best part of this particular carrot cake baking episode was that Jen and Lauren came over to help. We shared a few cups of hot tea, laughs as plentiful as the snowflakes, and smiles as warm as our Colorado sunshine. (okay--that was super corny--but it's true!) We missed Ryan, who is back at school, and you will probably miss Ryan too when you see how unprofessional our photos became without him.
First, we gathered all our goods. We have carrots, of course, and eggs, oil, flour, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, walnuts, and the secret weapons: coconut and pineapple. Then we all got started on cake related jobs.
Jen shredded and cooked the carrots. Yes, cooked them. That is also secret weapon material: cooked carrots. The carrot flavor is sweeter that way.
And, just to reemphasize my point from the Cowboy Cookie entry about not being able to stop yourself from laughing hysterically while someone is taking photos of your hands, check out how funny those silly carrots are to Jen.
And, geez, mixing all those dry ingredients is hilarious. Or at least it is to Lauren! Wha-ha-ha-ha! (evil cackle!) Cinnamon, flour, salt, and baking soda must make a funny combination.
Surprisingly, I was dealing with those initial "wet" ingredients:
the eggs, vanilla, oil, etc. And somehow, my face didn't make it into the shot. Guess I can't make fun of myself. What a bummer. (Note: if I was the seven year old version of myself, I would have entered a big "NOT!!" after the word bummer, but I am way more mature than that now.)
Then, to the wet ingredients, we added those secret, winter-blues-beating weapons: the coconut, the pineapple, and the cooked carrots.
We added the flour mix to the island dream mixture, and then Jen "accidentally" threw her hand into the bowl before "accidentally" thrusting her finger towards her tongue. Wha-ha-ha-ha! (Darn that evil cackle!)
We poured the batter into a cake pan, then baked it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. While we waited for our creation to solidify, we gathered ourselves and tried to relax our aching sides with a couple cups of tea.
Finally, the timer beeped and we all sighed and stared fondly as we removed our newest golden- brown creation from the oven.
Then we got going on the next delicious chore: the cream cheese frosting. This little concoction of cheese, butter, and sugar is what make the cake just send us over the edge right into palm tree themed paradise.
At last, taste testing time is here. Our mouths watered. Our taste buds swelled. And, alas, our hearts sang.
Drowsy Water Ranch Carrot Cake
1 1/2 C. flour
1 1/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C. cooked shredded carrots
2/3 C. oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 C. shredded coconut
1/2 C. chopped walnuts
Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl. In separate bowl combine carrots, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add carrot mixture to flour mixture, beat well. Stir in pineapple, coconut, and walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 C. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. powdered sugar
Blend cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Ode to Rocky: The King of the Drowsy Water Bovines
We have a lot of animals. And I mean a lot. We have horses, cows, bunnies, cats, dogs, chickens (sometimes), ducks, and other domesticated animals that live with us now and then. Of all of the animals we have, I think the one animal that has the best life, the guy that has it made more than any of our other pampered pets, is Rocky, our bull.
Yep, Rocky has the occupation most males dream of. First of all, Rocky is a big dude. He's a a ten year old Black Angus and Tarentaise cross. He weighs in around 2000 lbs. He eats pretty much all day everyday. So, you want to know why he has the best job here? Well, Rocky's job, albeit an important one, is what most 16-30 year old males dream of doing: his purpose in life is to impregnate 25-30 females of his species every summer.
But it's not summer here for long. So what does Rocky do the rest of the year? For most of the year, Rocky just hangs out around the ranch. He might hang out in the pen down the road or he might hang out at the ranch in Walden. Wherever he is, he is usually all alone. When he's alone, his day is all on him. If he feels like eating hay for an hour then staring at a post for an hour, he can. If he wants to test how loud he can say "mooo" then have a bathroom break, he can. If he wants to slobber all over himself without moving a muscle in his body, he can. No woman is there to remind him he needs to shave or that he should maybe consider taking a shower. No one is nagging him to to pick up his socks, turn down the t.v., or fold the laundry. He just gets to be 100% male.
Like I mentioned, things get exciting for Rocky in the summer. Come June or so, Randy Sue pushes all of her cows and calves out onto thousands of acres of open space to graze and roam about. Soon after, Rocky is pushed out to chase down and impregnate all those good-lookin' cows. Let me tell ya, he's rearing to go every year. He chases after those cows, bellowing out as he searches for them and those heifers moo back in return.
Rocky does his job, and he does it well. One of the reasons Randy Sue chose Rocky's cross breed was because Tarentaise generally produce smaller calves. So, while Rocky is huge, bulls can be much huge-er (yes, I know that is not a real word). Rocky's size means easier births for the cows and thus a higher survival rate for the calves. Tarentaise are also known for their ability to subsist on what is available to them in their area. Whether they get to eat tall green grass or short sparse shoots and weeds, they tend to turn out okay. And any heifers we keep as replacements have high fertility rates and calve unassisted in most situations. The Tarentaise bred cows also demonstrate strong maternal traits and optimum milk production.
The black angus part of Rocky and the cows mean the calves have sound feet and legs, they usually have no horns, and they can adapt to live in almost all weather conditions. Angus bred calves also have superior feed conversion and natural marbling of their meat.
Rocky, here's to you. Our all-man, all-bull king of bovines.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Bovine Adventures at Drowsy Water Ranch
Ahhh, the Bovine.
What a wonderful creature. Here at Drowsy Water Ranch, we have one or two of them to play with. In the winter, Randy Sue keeps about 30 mama cows down the road and a few younger "yearlings" up here at the ranch. They eat, a lot. And they moo. And then the food comes out. It sounds boring, I know, but really, they're great fun. The next blog or two will be about keeping cattle at a Colorado Dude Ranch--a fun but time consuming endeavor.
We'll start now, with the little guys that eat and moo and poop just a few feet from where I have parked my rear. (Please, no comments on my rear in relation to a cow's. . .brother John, that especially means you!).
A yearling is cow that was born last spring. Most of the calves born in the spring are sold in the fall to a buyer but, occasionally, we'll keep a few around here for one reason or another. Maybe the calf was too small to sell, maybe she was a little sick or hurt, maybe we need a replacement heifer, or maybe we want to keep a steer for team penning next summer. Whatever the reason, they hang out at the ranch all winter and are fed daily.
Their close proximity to us means they often become quite friendly. How many of you have ever been friends with a bovine? Probably not many of you. They are some of the funniest friends you'll have.
They wash our hands for us. . .And give us warm kisses. . .
And they LOVE treats!