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Cooking in the West

 

February 14, 2020



I share the copy machine at work with the Sweet Grass County Extension Agent, Marc King, so one day I found an interesting email mixed in with my pile of papers off the machine. It was a bulletin from MSU about a biomarker study of the effects of calving operations on osteoarthritis. Even though it wasn't my mail, I decided to read it to see what it was all about. Long story short, you can sign up to have your biomarkers for osteoarthritis checked before and during calving season during an on the ranch visit that tests your blood, urine, and saliva. Although I find this fascinating, I decided to pass on participating even though I know for a fact that several calving injuries I have suffered have definitely contributed to my osteoarthritis, which of course is self-diagnosed.

Such was the case about five years ago right at the start of calving season when my son Bret burst through the back door and said, "Oh my God, what is wrong with you?" I was lying on the kitchen floor, and I am sure he thought I was dead except that I responded with some moaning and whimpering.

He was followed closely by my husband. As soon as they verified that I was breathing, my dearly beloved husband asked in his most concerned voice, "Did you pay your life insurance premium this month?"

When this didn't even induce a smile, Bret asked, "What on earth happened?" I explained that I was running for the phone on my freshly mopped floor when I did the splits and completely screwed up my good knee, which was the one that was bent backwards underneath me at a really bad angle. For a few moments, they asked me good questions like, "Do you want us to lift you up? Do you think you should go to the emergency room? Do you want some Ibuprofen? How about a knee brace? Do you think you can stand up? Do you think you tore your ACL or MCL or meniscus?" Lastly, Bret asked, "Where are your pants?"

This was a really good question, because just fifteen minutes before, he had come in for lunch, and I had been wearing my house cleaning sweat pants, which now were embarrassingly nowhere to be seen. Bret had left the house without lunch when Remi had come to get help pulling a backwards calf out of a cow. A few minutes later, the phone rang, so I assumed they were calling me on the cell phone to ask me to bring them something or instruct me to call the vet. Without completing my task of changing into jeans, I ran for the phone, forgetting all about the wet kitchen floor.

As I lay there on the floor knowing that I had hurt myself really badly, the first thing I thought of was a book I had read long ago about how you should practice dragging yourself to the phone from all points in your house. In my case, I should have practiced dragging myself to the dryer to get my pants. Instead I found myself lying on the floor surrounded by comedians.

Remi said, "I can't wait to read the story of how this happened. It is probably the most severe phone answering injury in history." To this I retorted that I would classify it as a calving injury, since I was trying to heroically answer the phone because I thought there was a calving emergency."

Bret added, "People your age should not be running on a wet floor. Didn't you read the warning label on the flooring?" I replied that it would be nice if he brought me some jeans out of the dryer.

"Speaking of that," he answered, "It is almost spring, so you probably should mow your legs."

Remi chimed in, "Too bad Kevin (referring to our sheep raising neighbor) has already sheared, because maybe you could have had them shorn and donated to the Locks of Love!" I told them that as soon as I could walk, I was going to find a place to rehabilitate where there were no cowboys posing as stand up comedians, but they were just getting warmed up.

I lost track of which comic said what, but it went sort of like this: "We are probably going to have to install handicapped rails from your recliner to the phone. Hey, does this mean we will have to change your nickname from Greased Lightning to Speedy? Maybe you should get some of those socks with the rubber grips on the bottom like they wear in nursing homes. You do know you can't get workman's comp for this, don't you? Are you sure you're not just faking this so no one will ask you to do night calving checks? Does this mean your bad leg will now be your good leg? (This was in reference to the fact that the bad leg had undergone surgeries for both a torn meniscus and ACL.) Does your Aunt Shirley still have that hospital bed? Maybe we can roll it up next to the stove so you can cook us some lunch."

Finally, I cracked a smile just to shut them up, and I retorted with a couple comments about their questionable lineage (with sincere apologies to my mother-in-law), and I also told them what they could do with some of their body parts. Then they hoisted me up, and we all had lunch and lived happily ever after in paradise until I finally decided to go in for an MRI (after limping around for 6 months only to find that my frayed MCL had pretty much fused itself back together.) Several cortisone shots later, I am ready for the 2020 calving season, but I am seriously considering giving up the dangerous sport of mopping!

My featured cook this week is faithful contributor, Jane Lambert of Stevensville, Montana. I think Jane knows me too well, because she wrote,"Winter doldrums got you down? Up in the night pulling calves? Just come in from feeding, and it's 20 below? Maybe just uptight? These slightly alcoholic cake recipes might just hit the spot!" Thanks, Jane! So just in time for a special Valentine's Day treat, here are some boozy cake recipes!

Rum Cake

1 C. finely chopped nuts

1 yellow cake mix

4 oz. instant vanilla pudding mix

4 large eggs

1/2 C. cold water

1/2 C. oil

1/2 C. dark rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt, or tube pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts on bottom of pan. Mix all ingredients well, then pour into pan. Bake for an hour or until it tests done with a toothpick. Cool on wire rack for 15 or 20 minutes, and then invert onto a cake dish. Prick top of cake.

Topping: Mix and cook for five minutes:

3/4 C. water

1 C. sugar

1 stick butter.

Cool for five minutes and add 1/2 C. rum. Let thicken some, and pour over top of cake.

Margarita Cake

1 package lemon cake mix

4oz. pkg. lemon, or vanilla instant pudding mix

1/2 C. vegetable oil

1/2 C. frozen limeade, or lemonade concentrate

1/4 C. water

4 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 C. gold tequila

2 T. triple sec

Glaze

1.5 T. tequila

1 T. triple sec

1/4 t. lime zest

1 T. fresh lime juice

1 1/4 C. powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour a bundt pan. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil, citrus concentrate, water, eggs, tequila and triple sec in a large mixing bowl. Beat for five minutes at medium speed on an electric mixer. Pour batter into bundt pan, place in oven, and bake for 45-55 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for for 15 minutes, then remove cake from pan, and allow to cool completely.

Glaze

Combine tequila, triple sec, lime peel, lime juice, and powdered sugar in a bowl, and stir until well blended. Add more powdered sugar, if you want it thicker. Spoon it over the cooled cake. (I did it in layers, and used a pastry brush to completely cover the cake.)

Peppermint Schnapps Chocolate Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix --(I used Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge)

4oz. box instant chocolate pudding

1 C. Peppermint Schnapps

1/4 C. water

4 large eggs

1/2 C. oil

Prepare bundt pan: grease well with butter. Scatter chocolate sprinkles on bottom and sides of pan. Mix well and pour into prepared bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack and then turn out onto the rack. Cool thoroughly and apply glaze.

Glaze

1 1/4 C. powdered sugar

3 T. Schnapps

Mix together well, adjusting the consistency to your liking with powdered sugar or Schnapps, and drizzle glaze over the cake.

 

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