As I opened the blinds in the living room this morning, I fully expected to see a few trees laying in the pasture. The wind last night was frightening. The gusts and ferocity of the cold blasts was a little bit scary because it is so incredibly dark here that you could be next to a tornado passing through and still would not be able to see it. Of course I realize that this response to wind is a bit extreme, but when even the dogs are spooked, I always feel that we are experiencing some kind of phenomenon and should be paying attention. That being said, I slept well last night - which is unusual for me. I think I must have been worried yesterday, and all that behind us, we both crashed about ten and were immediately in REM sleep. Carbs will do that for me. I made macaroni and cheese yesterday (sorry Waltie) but I have not been happy with my mac and cheese since we moved here. I am still learning (experimenting?) with our stove, and discovering that it is very difficult to maintain temperatures. Every time I make mac and cheese, it is dryer than I like. I do think that the oven gets so incredibly hot that any moisture in the casserole is absorbed into the macs and looses its flavor. Jerry says its good, but every time I cook he lowers his standards pathetically. It's as though the village idiot has prepared dinner, and we should all just be grateful that the house didn't burn down. I try to have higher standards, but cooking on an antique wood/gas cookstove doesn't help my cause. However, there is something very satisfying about preparing a meal that is done well and tastes good; especially with this stove. As I've said in the past, no temperature control is a serious cooking obstacle. Yes, you can set the stove, but balancing an exacting temperature is not possible. There is just no way to monitor the abrupt and extreme temperature changes without a guage. Which is why soups are just fabulous. When you stoke a wood stove and allow a soup to simmer stovetop all day, it just doesn't get any better. There is more than enough moisture to be absorbed and the fresh vegetables benefit from this cooking method. It is much easier to observe when something is boiling, compared to when something is just being dried out and overcooked. Boiling is in my genes. It's the irish thing I guess, just boil the living daylights out of it, and it's done. I will be preparing the corned beef this year. It is my annual successful meal preparation, and I accept the back slapping as my due. It is the only meal that I consistently succeed in its preparation and enjoy the kudos as they come my way - they don't come my way very often. It's a daily challenge. Cooking I mean. I actually shouldn't say daily, because really the day-to-day cooking is left to Jerry. I dabble. He is in the trenches of nightly dinner-warfare. Finding something that we all agree on is a difficult task. Jerry likes German cooking (lots of vinegar, lots of sour anything). I prefer typical irish fare - boiled, blackened or burnt. No vinegar, no sour. Allison likes salad and cereal. In that order. Grateful dogs like any of it. And they are consistenly rewarded with unfinished leftovers, because at any given meal, there may be only one person who is really happy and eating a substantial portion. The other two are most likely eating a small portion so as not to offend the cook. The rest becomes doggie heaven, or leftovers. I have leftover issues. I can't eat them. It is wasteful and inconsiderate, but once you've seen something in the frig that has congealed and solidified, no amount of heating and reheating can remove that visual from my mind, and my stomach responds appropriately. No can do. We discuss food alot here, because it's either that or the weather. Now that we have established that it snows alot here, dinner is the next logical topic of conversation. Spring is imminent, so mud is slowly being added to these daily discussions. How to avoid it, clean it, ignore it, embrace it or deny it. I prefer the denial method myself, but that is also difficult when you are spinning your wheels on what used to be your lawn, but is now just an extension of your driveway that has been plowed down all winter and is melting into one big soppy mess. Jerry has been lobbying for an asphalt driveway, and I must say that spring is definitely aiding him in his cause. I am so fearful of paving over all that we love about our location (pave paradise, put up a parking lot, oooh la la la la) but I am recognizing the benefits of being able to get out of the driveway when you want to go somewhere. It's a real dilemma, but I'm leaning towards the asphalt as well. Leaning. I'm not there yet. Bailey discovered yesterday that we have a pond in our yard. He has been running across it regularly, and the ice is now just a sloppy, soddy mess. The look of shock on his face as he went through the melting and slushy top to the freezing water below was really comical. It's only about 15 inches deep so he was able to keep himself moving and climbed out. But he's learning to go AROUND the hole in the yard to get to the other side. We're all learning new things here. And loving every minute of it.