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Julianna turned 14 last weekend AND played the Witch in the school production of Into the Woods, Jr. The Junior version, for you ITW fans, is just the first act, and even that is pared down quite a lot.   The original show, which Steve and I saw on Broadway in late 1988, is a retelling of fairytales–Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Ridinghood, Rapunzel, and a Baker and his Wife who wish to have a child–the first act ends Happily Ever After with “all that was wrong was now right and those who deserved to were happy to live a long an happy life.”  The second act explores the consequences of the first act actions and all but 4 characters end up dead.  Even the narrator is killed.  The second act is full of adultery, betrayal, lying, and murder.  So, yeah, that part is eliminated for the middle school production.  But it is, of course, the best part.  Nonetheless, it’s a fun show with great music.

As usual, Monday of show week, it seemed like there was no way it would all come together, and then it did.  Theater magic!  The shows at the school are usually double cast, so that most kids get a shot at a decent sized role.  The first night, Julianna was a Narrator, but for her birthday on Friday, she was The Witch.  I took her fancy pants camera to take photos, but as soon as I tried to use it, the battery died.  So pics are taken with my iPhone, a notoriously bad camera, but the only one I have.

She tells the Baker and his Wife about the curse.

Yes, college friends, that IS the cape I wore as a coat. Still warm, still awesome, still dorky (like me, only much warmer).

Milky White the cow stole the show, really.

The Witch is restored to her former youth and beauty, which is considerable.

Tired, happy, and too heavily made up.

Some video of the spell being broken:


You may recall that I ended a 20 year stint as a vegetarian last summer.  My health has continued to improve, so yay.  Having cut out wheat, most forms of soy, all industrial seed oil (canola, corn, soybean, etc), and most sugar means that I don’t eat a lot of processed food any more.  Or eat out very much.  So I have to cook a lot and prepare a lot to eat this way.  I took the full Ma Ingalls plunge a couple of days ago and rendered lard.

I’d been saving up my pork fat scraps from when I get pork shoulder to make pulled pork (recipe here.  So good.  So easy).  I thought it was going to be some long, arduous process, but no.  Chop up fat, heat fat, drain.  Here’s a link if you don’t believe me.  But really, why are you so suspicious?  I thawed it a bit, chopped it up and tossed half in the crock and half in the oven.  The oven was faster and resulted in crispier cracklin’s.

Cracklin’s for those of you who didn’t read Little House or grow up in the South, are the bits of pork left behind after the fat has melted.  Well, most of it.  Some of the cracklin bits are really fatty, even after a second render.  Once I’d drained off all the lard, I put both batches of cracklin’s back into the oven for a final render and a crispin’ up.  That last bit of lard is porkier and better for cooking taters.  The crispy bits?  Add some salt and munch.  I let Steve eat the fattier ones and I went for the meatier ones.

They were yum.  Too yum.  I ended up sleeping horribly and dreamed of making cracklin’s all night long in one of those horrible not-quite-asleep stress dream cycles.  Not to be defeated by pork fat, last night I chopped some up and added it to cornbread in a recipe from the Little House cookbook (I found it online, but I think I might need that book…).  It was good, but not good enough to warrant the hassle of making a separate pan for my still-vegetarian daughter.  Next time, I’ll just stick with butter.  Gobs and gobs of butter.  And, on the up-side, I slept fine.

But I still have rather a lot of these cracklin’s and no idea what to do with them.  I’m enchanted by the decadence of deep frying them, but I don’t actually LIKE that sort of thing. Ideas?  I hear tell of a Hungarian biscuit that uses them, perhaps I could modify it to gluten-free.

Howdy.  My plan to write everyday in March–unannounced b/c I didn’t really think I’d pull it off–has, in fact, failed.  But today I’m trying to keep from reading any of the crap that ramps up my anxiety–earthquakes, tidal waves, nuclear disaster, general hatefulness and fear activated by uncertain economic times leading to denial of basic civil rights and compassionate aid across the board…Breathe.  breathe.  So I’ll produce content instead of reading it.

Hey, chickens make me happy!  All eight of my gals are laying now, meaning I get eight eggs a day.  No, you can’t have any.  I still have to buy from the store now and again, we eat a lot of eggs.  I moved them under the porch for the winter which means that when you are in my bathroom, you can hear them in the coop.  esp. if there’s an egg being laid.. bok bok BOK BOK!!  It seems surprising each time.  And fairly unpleasant.

Guess What?

Chicken butt.

That’s Blanche.  She’s my favorite.  She’d happily follow me around all day as she finds everything I do FASCINATING.  And really, who better to judge than a chicken?  She’s a Cuckoo Maran and lays dark brown eggs.

That’s Edith.  She’s our smallest, fastest chicken.  So if you plan to race them, put your money on her.  Not literally, though, b/c one of the other chickens will eat your money.  They are shockingly undiscerning.  She is the only one that lays white eggs. She’s a Crevecour.  The roosters have a devil-horn comb that is awesome.


That’s Dolly.  Isn’t she pretty?  She lays blue-green eggs.  She’s one of two Ameracaunas I got.  But the other one, Polly, turned out to be a Paulie and had to go live at a tree farm.

That’s Pearl, Blanche, and either Dottie or Eleanor.  Pearl is a White Orpington, which means she has a cute fluffy butt.  Dottie and Eleanor are Black Australorps and I can’t tell which is which.  They all lay brown eggs.


That pretty brown one on the left is Fran, she’s a Partridge Rock.  That’s Sylvia in the foreground, she’s a Black Cochin and has feathers on her feet.  Then there’s Blanche, Dolly, One of the Australorps, and Pearl.

The contented noises that they make are deeply soothing.  We do have a fox around, and I”m hoping he never wises up to how easy it would be to get at them if he just put in a little effort.  Last summer, I had a big playpen that I let them into every day so that they could get fresh grass.  It was made of PVC and was easy to move around. But once the fall winds kicked up, it was smashed to bits.  So I need to decide if I’m going to go with easy to construct but has to be replaced every year or make something sturdier.  And more difficult.  Or, just let them range and take my chances…



March 2011
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