Black Horse & the Cherry Tree
Kim Boyce's Cherry Crumb Bars
...Or, as in the case of our recent house guests, a grulla mare, her buckskin filly and a black walnut tree. This post could also be subtitled: Things I Never Expected To Happen In My Lifetime.
Born on the infamous March 11, Shez Tsunami Slick (Tsu for short)
Several weeks ago My Baby got a call from our neighbor Kay of Joel-and-Kay, with whom we share a nearly mile long drive and who own the hundreds and hundreds of acres of land that swallow up our five acres as if it were a mere postage stamp. Joel farms and ranches, Kay tends to things domestic, runs their social calendar, and above all is an avid and accomplished horsewoman.
All I could overhear of the conversation sounded something like this:
"Hi, Kay. Great, and you? (wa-waa waa wa wa) Oh sure, when? Great. I'll check with Pam, but I'm sure it won't be a problem. Bring them by any time. (wa waa wa wa) Our pleasure, Kay. See you soon."After he'd hung up, My Dear Sweet Hospitable Baby said, "Well, if it's okay with you, Kay would like to bring her mare and filly to stay in our stable and pasture for a few days while they are away."
I am not proud of what happened next. And it goes like this:
"Baby, are you nuts?? Horses? Us? I'd have thought you were nuts to bring a goldfish home, but HORSES??"
"Yes, but Pam, they'll be outdoor horses."
"Baby, let me remind you that my only experience with horses was the time forty-five years ago when my Dad took me to the shopping center parking lot, paid a man $1, sat me on a horse and walked me around in a circle for 5 minutes. May I remind you that your only experience with horses was the riding lessons you took when you were in 6th grade, and that was forty-SEVEN years ago. I'm not sure that large animal husbandry was a part of my moving-to-the-country agreement!"
"I tell you what, Pam. Let's take a vote: All those in favor of the horses coming say aye. All opposed say neeeiiigggh."And so my life goes. The Things I Never Expected In My Lifetime list just keeps growing.
Beautiful Mama Shez Come Undun (Charm for short)
Once I got over the dizzying fact that my neighbor trusts us enough to keep her horses alive (or more plausibly that she trusts her horses to keep themselves alive), they ended up being a great delight. One of the fun aspects of their companionship, besides the handsome lawn ornamentation they provided, was feeding them their buckets of grain twice a day. It is this grain along with this terrific catchy little song (woo hoo) that inspired me to bake the Cherry Crumb Bars.
(I will add, to further underscore my incompetence where horses are concerned, that the representational horse-food oats in this recipe are good for horses, but the rye is NOT a representational horse food. I just learned that if horses eat rye a problem of enormous stable-clean up proportions will ensue. I'm really glad our four-legged guests didn't share the baked goods.)
My Baby, In His Hay-Day
The recipe came from the highly recommended Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain cookbook. This was my first baking project from her book, only because I have yet to take inventory of the necessary flours and grains with which to stock the pantry in preparation, but I did have whole oats and a dab of rye flour. A simple buttery rye and wheat shortbread is baked, then topped with preserves and the buttery oat-y crumb topping and baked again. I found the bars to be just sweet enough and just tender enough to not feel like Euell Gibbons' "health food", and the texture actually improved the next day. This treat stayed delicious for several days and its moderate sweetness made as fine of a breakfast as it did a dessert.
A Little Experiment with Whipped Skim Milk Instead of Cream
(Not So Successful!)
Cherries from our trees are still a month away this year in our chilly spring weather, and I can't wait for them. But while I do, Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves nicely suffice. This brand of preserves from France is my favorite purchased jam.
My Favorite Purchased Jam
I hope that Kay never asks me to take care of her houseplants while she's away, because I really am no good at all with those.