Sunday, November 18, 2012

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

Comfort food in a bowl. That's what this recipe is all about. When your cold after digging holes all day in the chill of winter or shoveling frozen horse manure this is the perfect way to warm you from the inside out. Well, ok, maybe your winter activities might be a little different than mine, but hey, you get the picture right? Now, my husband's dear grandma loves Paula Dean. She is so cute to watch her show every day and she calls me weekly to find a recipe online then type it up for her. The poor dear is legally blind and she can't write down the ingredients and instructions. Anyway, long story short. I frequent Miss Dean's website frequently. Well, this here is one of the tasty little numbers I came across and had to make. Verdict? Thank you MAM I will make AGAIN. 

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

2 pounds stew beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins is a great gluten free brand :)
1 clove garlic, peeled 

2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
3 large carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 tablespoons tapioca starch

Brown meat in hot oil. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and allspice. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves and garlic clove. Add carrots and celery. Cover and cook 30 to 40 minutes longer. To thicken gravy, remove 2 cups hot liquid. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes
Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes. Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes. Try saying that three times fast haha! So do you want to know what I love about this recipe? It's so easy. It totally reminds me of the good ol' gluten eating days where there was no need to blend flours and no gums to bind the ingredients. All you need is whole grain buckwheat flour. Now, don't be concerned. Buckwheat is not a wheat, nor is it related to the gluten filled grain. It's actually the flour from a grass seed. Anyway, your batter might be thin at first, but be patient, keep stirring, and it will thicken :)

Can't wait to make them? Well, you SHOULD! So here is the recipe so you can:
Buckwheat Pancakes
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
Heat a large skillet to medium and grease well. Then mix the dry ingredients together. Add egg, milk and butter, mixing well after each addition. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook until bubbles break on surface then carefully flip over and cook another minute or two.

Friday, November 2, 2012

2012 Extreme Horseman's Challenge

Hi there everyone! I finally had a wee bit of downtime and I thought I would share with you a recap of this year's Extreme competitions. I was lucky enough this year to be able to enter and compete in all 6 of the season's competitions. That being said, this years series ended in a lovely belt buckle to the overall winner in each division. Now the divisions go from Youth, Green, Entry, Open, and then Extreme with Extreme obviously being the most challenging AND the most fun, I might add haha!

Now, how the competitions work is there are 20 or so obstacles scattered throughout a HUGE outdoor facility. The goal of the race is to A. Be the fastest through the course and get the most speed points and B. to display the best riding skills AND horsemanship at each individually judged obstacle. So ya, you might be fast, but can you ride well and will your horse willingly do what's asked? I love these competitions so much. They have so many different things they throw at you and a lot of them, you just CAN'T train for. So it really boils down to how well you can communicate to your horse and how much your horse trusts you. What cracks me up, is my little grey horse enjoys competing as much as I do. It's uncanny because he KNOWS when it's go time and he gives me everything he's got when we are racing. It doesn't matter how big the jump or how scary the obstacle, I just have to SHOW him where he needs to go and he does it. There is a re-occurring joke at the center that Smokey and I are crazy and they should open a new category just for us and call it the Kamikaze division. Kinda makes me laugh since he and I are the smallest to compete in the Extreme division. Now, don't get me wrong,  I LOVE these competitions, but I get SO intimidated....there aren't too many women who enter in extreme and seeing all the big time cowboys on their nice big quarter horses really is unsettling. I show up with my humble little truck and very old trailer and pull out my small $50 horse that no one wanted and it's enough to get my heart pumping a bit.

Another challenging piece of the competition is TRYING to memorize the course map. Each competitor gets a map of the course and can walk the course the night before. Now, for people that have a few more brain cells firing in their noggin, this is easy for them. Me.......ya, not so much lol! Honestly, the hardest part of these competitions is trying to remember what obstacle comes next, where I'm supposed to go, how I am supposed to do it, all while my horse is going mach 50 on the course. I will admit that I have.....ahem.....been known to totally miss entire sections of them in the wrong order. One of the judges joked (while me and the other competitors were doing a course walk) that they wanted to make the races challenging, not only for the horse, but for the rider as well.... So THIS year I made a big effort on really working on doing my best to memorize the course map. What has helped is that I started typing up the description of each obstacle AND making a small laminated copy of the course map. So that way, IF I forgot where to go while competing, I could hurry and pull it out and put it back in a jiffy :)

So as far as the obstacles go, there has been some real fun and a few difficult ones. My favorites are always, of course, the jumps. I swear my little horse is a stadium jumper at heart. Every picture we have of him jumping he has such great form, his ears are pricked forward, and it really looks like he is enjoying himself. Last year, they had a large log that was set OUT of a recessed water obstacle that you got 5 bonus points if you jumped OUT of the water OVER the log. It was one of the only instances I held the saddle horn and let the rein loose and told my horse "Smoke, balls in your court buddy, get us over that thing". I was so excited that one of the photographers caught us right as we were leaping over the log :) Only one other competitor attempted the log jump and his horse got high centered (both he and his horse were ok ;). There were some funny obstacles they through in as well. One was to sort ONE goat from a herd of sheep AND goats. Well, ONE of the competitors just jumped off his horse, grabbed a goat by the horn, and placed it in the correct pen. Which he got 4 points for being creative! Seeeeeee, that's why these competitions are SO fun! You can think outside of the box. Not to brag though....but Smokey and I got a SHEEP out and penned it WHILE I was still mounted hehehe. Now, the obstacle that I just couldn't master (which ALWAYS lost me points) is the pony express run. It was a spot where you got 5 balloons and while at a gallop, you had to try and hit 3 targets. Ya, ummmm I took big fat ZERO's on that one.....I didn't even come within 1 foot of the targets and most of the time clutz of the year me, would end up dropping all the balloons BEFORE I even had a chance to hit a target lol! Another obstacle that I THOUGHT would give my horse a difficult time was a freshly slaughtered animal skin. I don't hunt and Smokey has never been around anything deceased. The goal of the obstacle was to place the animal skin on the neck of your horse, gallop to a point, and drop it off. Well, they threw in a loud obnoxious coyote call RIGHT when you went to pick the skin up. Thankfully, it didn't phase Smoke one bit. Some other fun things they have done is making you hold a big bouquet of balloons while going over a bunch of scattered telephone poles. So you had to have good balance to jump over those things WHILE holding a bunch of balloons. Then another was to push a big inflated ball in between two goal posts in the water. One of my favorites was on the last competition where you had to ride bareback for a good 100 yards or more at a gallop, dismount, saddle as quickly as you could, then continue the race.

All in all it was a great year full of fun, friends, and competition. I really enjoyed getting to know the other competitors. Once we all got to know each other, it was fun to throw out some friendly banter and jabs at each other. I would joke that they were on horses slow as molasses, and they would joke about me getting lost. Oh speaking of getting lost. This is a funny story I have to share.....So the competition in September was one of Smokey and my best runs. He literally FLEW and I swear it was our fastest time. I also didn't get lost and I could remember my obstacles and the order I was supposed to do them. SOOOooooOOOOoo I do my last obstacle and Smokey and I start hauling balls to the finish line when all the competitors are yelling my name and pointing. So I freak out thinking I'm going the wrong way to the finish line. So I pull Smokey into a big circle to try and find where I'm supposed to go. Well, everyone is STILL pointing and yelling at me and I can't figure out WHERE I'm supposed to FINISH the darned race at. I literally did 4 huge circles and wasted 30 seconds of my race time trying to find the danged finish line......SO ya, after that, NO one let me forget that the ditzy blonde couldn't find the finish lol! So what's even more funny is Smokey and I STILL had the fastest time even with the 30 extra seconds lol!

So the results of this year's races? Smoke and I won the year end buckle :) We won 4 of the six, tied for second place once (since I had the slower time by 17 seconds, I took second), and came in second once. I was so proud of my little horse. He really is one of those "once in a lifetime" horses and I'm so glad I nabbed him up when no one else would. He might be small, but don't tell him that. He beats out horses double his size. It was such a fun year and Smokey and I enjoyed every bit of it. I will say, I'm glad the season is over and Smokey and I can relax....until next year that is ;)

So here are some pictures and a video of this year's races. Thanks for taking the time to read my little blog!
Chit chatting with a competitor before the race

Heading towards the next obstacle

Going over the jump and landing on a steep hill. I wish you could see how steep our landing was....this was certainly a tricky one.
Those floating milk jugs could be pretty skeeeeery ;)

 Smokey launching us over a log and into the water

Coming down the "three step"

Here is another shot of us coming down the steps

 Easy Smoke!

 Heading towards the finish line (didn't get lost this time hahaha!)

Flying through the water obstacle :)

Ok, this picture wasn't taken THIS year, it was the crazy big jump we did last year that I mentioned earlier. I had to share it since it is pretty much the biggest obstacle/jump we have done together.

Here is the link to the video of us sorting.....or at least ATTEMPTING to sort goats hahaha!
Sorting Goats 

Aaaaaaand here is dorky me with my buckle. Don't mind the pink hair, it was part of the costume from earlier ;) The last race we could all dress up :)

Lastly, the belt buckle :)