The photo above is my lemon creation. Covered in homemade lemon curd. By the hammer of Thor, that thing was good. Now let me tell ya how that sugar-laden dream came to fruition.
I always thought I was a cook. Give me a steak and some veggies and I’ll make a dinner out of this world. Spaghetti? No prob. Spaghetti Squash? Bring it on. But I never thought of myself as a baker. I just could never follow the recipes and always ended up with cookies that were either greasy and flat or thick like a brownie. Cakes that always fell in the middle and just tasted…off.
But when we moved to the ranch, there was this sense of purpose in my kitchen. I needed to learn to bake, not just because it was a skill I longed to master, but we were also out of bread and I had planned to make a pot roast. You need homemade bread for roast. That’s a law, isn’t it? Besides, there’s no way I’m driving 25 miles just for some bread.
I busted out the Betty Crocker Wedding Cookbook we got (obviously) for our wedding and found the perfect recipe. It was made for bread machines and I just happened to have one gathering dust! With my daughter dutifully pouring ingredients after I measured, we whipped it up, stuck it in the bread machine, and waited. And waited. Until an hour later when the top of the bread machine was lifted up because the bread had risen to more than double! Whoops! So we punched it down, put it in a bowl with a plastic bag on top, and let it rise again. Then it hit the oven and came out…..perfect. The best bread I ever had! Well that just set off a whirlwind of activity. PS – the bread machine is for sale.
I needed to bake more. I needed to get this right. I NEED TO BAKE THINGS. The A.W. Thompson Memorial Library has a nice selection of cookbooks (you can follow the librarians here on Facebook). I borrowed 1 or 2 every other week. I’d pick a recipe and go with it. But my hand mixer, also from our wedding, wasn’t cutting it. I needed a stand mixer. A real mixer. The kind that lives on the counter because it’s too heavy to move elsewhere.
And that’s when I met Lady Mixx-a-Lot.
She’s a KitchenAid stand mixer. A workhorse for a community member, she was being sold to make room for a newer model. If you’ve ever priced these mixers you know that they are an investment. Lucky me, I got one used and for a lot less than the store!!!
Lady Mixx-a-Lot and I have baked up some amazing things. Cheesecakes, pumpkin cakes, breads, tortilla mix, buttercream frosting, fresh whipped cream; you name it, we’ve done it. When we made Marble Brownies for branding (which was amazing by the way), when I wanted to try Dana’s Famous Beer Bread, when I didn’t know what Honey Cake was, Lady Mixx-a-Lot showed me. We even made a Lemon Bundt Cake that was out of this world! The only downside? My poor husband *has* to eat it. I know, it’s terrible. Made from scratch awesomeness. Every week. Feel bad for his waistline.
When I finally decide what to make for the County Fair, you better believe Lady Mixx-a-Lot is going to whip it, whip it good.
Now, as for that branding I was telling you about. It was a gorgeous, cool June morning when everyone showed up, horses saddled, raring to go to work. The cowboys and cowgirls went out on their horses to gather up the cattle. Within 20 minutes, everyone was in the pens and the work was done. The brands, the vaccinations, the “surgeries” for the bull calves, were all done within 2 hours. My job was to hold the insecticide tags; think of them as earrings with a natural insect repellant on them. Keeps the biting flies away! It wasn’t a glamorous job and I didn’t do much but considering I’m still baby-ing my wrist from wrestling that heifer and I was scheduled to show off my wines later that day, it was a great experience to see just how this “branding day thing” works.
I can’t wait to actually participate next year! Mind you, this wasn’t just men out there; there were women, teenagers, even our little cowpokes got in on the branding. This is how you start and maintain a legacy of ranchers. Everyone helps, everyone works, everyone is thankful.
After branding I headed into town for the opening of Riley Girls Boutique. Y’all. This shop is amazing! I seriously walk in every time and say “Take my money”. Ok, I don’t but I can’t walk out of there without something cute and comfortable and wonderful! If you ever happen to stop in Clayton, you need to check out this store and grab something beautiful and unique. My job at the opening was to show off those tasty wines with a cause, viaOneHope wines. If you haven’t ordered, get on it! They just released sweet wines for you summertime drinkers. They go amazing with some frozen fruit, sangria, or just a sunny day at the pool. And if there’s a cause you want to support, let’s set up a party and donate 10% of proceeds to your nonprofit!
Here’s a random jumble of pictures for you. I didn’t get this posted in time but I hope you had a safe and wonderful 4th of July! We went to the rodeo, entered the turtle race (the turtle and a few friends were released on our pasture), enjoyed the fireworks, and stayed at the best RV Park in Clayton, NM. Y’all need to get here. I’ll even bake something for you.