I Like the Lady Horses Best

We’ve been pretty focused on dogs lately here at BigLittleMeals. But a couple of things got me off of dogs and (back) to horses (there’s nothing quite like being on the back – bareback, of course – of a horse). While I’m back to horses, Andy in Andy’s Corner is back to Sociology – AND horses. How clever!

First, I saw this article in The Atlantic about the evolution and domestication of horses. According to the author, “They say dogs are man’s best friend, but horses could also claim that title.” It’s a fascinating analysis of horse history and puts dogs and horses – as our helpers and pals – in more of a perspective. For example, did you know that dogs were domesticated 15,000 years ago – and horses weren’t domesticated until almost 10,000 years later?

Then came Mother’s Day and I got a call from my son, Travis, offering to bet on the Kentucky Derby for me in lieu of Mother’s Day flowers! Now I’m not a horse-racing fan, but the decision was simple. Who wants flowers…at least inside and in a vase and from a florist (my apologies to all of you flower-loving mamas out there. To each her own.)?

Rich Strike – the very long shot Derby winner for 2022

You know Andy and I have a ton of fun doing these blogs. We can jump all over the place and there’s no teacher or professor or editor – except ourselves – to tell us that our writing sucks. So I’d like to share the next sequence of events that resulted in this blog so you know just how random our reading and research is.

  1. After Travis placed my $10 bet on Epicenter (yup – way cheaper than flowers!), I started wondering if I should have bet on a filly.
  2. There were no fillies in the Derby this year to bet on – so I researched whether a filly had ever won the Kentucky Derby.
  3. The last (of only 3 fillies) to win the Derby was Winning Colors back in 1988 – 34 years ago!
1988: Winning Colors (a filly) besting Forty-Niner (ironic!) in the Derby
  1. Why don’t fillies win – or even enter?
  2. The answer to the above question is somewhat complicated. Fillies mature later than stallions, so a 3-year-old filly isn’t as strong as a 3-year-old male, and only 3-year-olds run in the Derby. Plus, there’s the “stud” thing. A winner stallion has the potential to bring in way more money as a stud than a mare does as a producer of a foal/year. Finally, the Derby instituted a point system back in 2013 that helps out European and Japanese bred stallions but does nothing to help fillies.

Stay with me here; it’s getting more random 🙂

  1. A week or so ago I skimmed an article in the NYTimes about a 46-year-old poet by the name of Ada Limón and happened to see that she grew up in Glen Ellen (our current home town) and Sonoma – and she lives now in Kentucky. So I read some of her poetry. My favorite? About fillies – and girls. It’s great.
  1. How perfect can this all be…except this is a food/life blog, and I’ve got to factor in food.
  2. I can’t possibly do horse meat – but why?
  3. Why don’t we eat horse meat, at least here in the U.S.? Mr. Beat – who is a YouTube-ing high school teacher in Kansas – has a video about that.

Since I can’t enthusiastically include a recipe for horse meat – or dog – or even cat meat – we’ve got a recipe for a variation on the go-to cocktail while watching horse-racing: the Mint Julep! We’ve even got a Mock Mint Julep recipe. But might I suggest that you enjoy it while you watch next year’s Kentucky Oaks, NOT the Kentucky Derby. It’s a race specifically for 3-year-old fillies. I’ll bet you’ll like “the lady horse swagger.”

My horse Besties, hanging out in the back acreage of our Ft Collins, CO, home in the late 1950’s. Patches – a black and white, pinto, part draft-horse, unregistered gelding, and Fleet – a palomino, purebred, registered Quarter Horse mare. To be perfectly honest, I loved them both equally.

A last minute footnote: Depending upon your feelings about racehorses, you’ll be happy – or sad – to learn that UC Davis has just decided to replace their “elite” racehorse mascot with…ta-da!…a cow. 🙂

Mint Julep con Limón – Cocktail or Mocktail

Mint Julep con Limón - Cocktail or Mocktail

Don’t wait for the Kentucky Derby or the Kentucky Oaks to enjoy this.  It’s the perfect summertime drink – with or without Kentucky bourbon.

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups loosely packed mint leaves
  • The juice and a little zest from 3 lemons (about 1/2 c lemon juice and 1 T zest)
  • bourbon – if making Mint Juleps; ginger ale or tonic water – if making Mock Mint Juleps
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Make the mint syrup: In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar together until the mixture boils and the sugar dissolves completely. Add 2 cups of the mint leaves to the syrup and allow the mint to steep as the syrup cools. When cool, strain (or pick) out the mint leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Refrigerate.

You’ll need a lot of crushed ice for this drink – enough to fill each glass almost to the top. We crush our ice in the blender.

Serve the drinks in cups or old-fashioned glasses. To serve mix the remaining cup of mint leaves into the crushed ice and fill each cup almost to the top with ice. Pour about 1/4 cup of the lemon syrup over the ice (more or less to taste). Add 2 oz of bourbon to each glass if making Mint Juleps; add Ginger Ale or Tonic water to each glass, if making Mock Mint Juleps. Stir a little and serve.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

The Rag-Tag Award

We started our blog 5 years ago, and each year thereafter – on that May anniversary – we have presented The Raggedy Awards. It’s been a festive occasion, with Andy determining what awards I should get and my determining what, if any, awards Andy should get 🙂

But nothing can go on forever. So this year our awards have been changed. Andy and I have joined forces (can you believe that!?) and are presenting just one REALLY BIG award. And it’s the Rag-Tag award.

I’ll let Andy take it from here:

This year’s REALLY BIG Rag-Tag Award goes to our REALLY SHORT dog – WynnSome. Wynn has been a huge presence in our lives this last year, and we hold her in high regard (despite her low profile).

She’s a real charmer. Whenever she’s with us in public she creates a stir. She loves people and almost everyone who crosses her path falls for her charm with comments about how cute she is and about her pretty brindle coat. 

Then comes the inevitable question:  what kind of dog is she?

While the AKC says “The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a masterpiece of the breeder’s art”  her appearance has “Rag-Tag” written all over it.  I often have wondered if this breed was designed by a committee. But to provide some concrete proof that Wynn qualifies for the BigLittleMeals 2022 Rag-Tag Award I am offering my very short DOGumentary entitled “The Rag-Tag Corgi.

So here’s to Cardigan Welsh Corgis – and to our Winner, Wynn!

Though Andy’s “dogumentary” focuses on Wynn’s appearance, her demeanor is a little rag-tag too…as in “not very respectable.” She barks when she shouldn’t bark, steals things she shouldn’t have (like a pork chop off the kitchen counter), and gives you a “f*** you” look when you ask her to do something she doesn’t care to do. Which makes me think about The Lincoln Highway, which I just finished reading. It would be hard to find a more rag-tag group of kids than Emmett, Wooly, Duchess, and Billy in Amor Towles’ 2021 novel. Though I didn’t love the book as much as I loved A Gentleman in Moscow, it was still a fun – if long – read. And those 4 boys are all such rascals, and, as the WaPo review put it, they’re a really motley crew. Wynn would be their perfect dog.

Being food-obsessed as I am, I happened to bookmark a page toward the end of the book where Duchess describes the meal he prepares for Emmett, Wooly, Billy, and Sally. Lo and behold, Towles discusses that recipe in an interview and comments that it’s actually a favorite of the Towles family. It’s now also a favorite of our family!

Continue reading

An Infinitesimal Speck

It took the soundtrack for a recent TV series to make me understand what a seemingly infinitesimal speck we are in the universe.

Should I blame my parents for sheltering me? After all, you’ll recall that my dad is the one who didn’t allow me to take high school biology (WHY I wasn’t allowed remains a pressing question, never to be answered) – and my mother forced me to take high school Home Economics so I could learn to iron a man’s shirt – and cook – and probably be a stay-at-home housewife.

My parents didn’t realize I was tougher than I looked.

Or maybe I should blame Colorado College, my alma mater. Didn’t they want their liberal arts students to be well-rounded and knowledgeable about the world…and beyond?

Whoever is to blame (obviously, I don’t want to blame myself), the fact is that I know nothing NOTHING about the universe – or even about the Milky Way Galaxy.

As seen from space: the earth is the bright speck (beside Andy’s arrow).

Carl Sagan wrote: “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Sagan also was sure that the spacecrafts Pioneer 10 and 11, launched in 1972 and 1973, had the following plaque – so that any alien finding it would know who we are and where we’re located.

The plaque aboard Pioneer 10 and 11.

Maybe that all helps explain why the “Galaxy Song” from 1983’s The Meaning of Life by Monty Python absolutely blows my mind. Maybe it blows my mind because I didn’t take biology so I didn’t know that’s how sex and birth happen – and I’ll add an “R” rating to this video, just in case. :). But mostly I’m just overwhelmed at those numbers. “Our galaxy is one of millions of billions” and “our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars” and “it’s a hundred thousand light years side by side” (I estimate that’s about 620,000,000,000,000,000 miles; correct me if I’m wrong). Coming right after Easter and Passover, it’s tricky to fit that into religion – as we know it and preach it – don’t you think? Coincidentally, religion is a topic in today’s Andy’s Corner – but on a more utilitarian and down-to-earth level.  Think “Manna from Heaven.”

You’ll love the Python video – just be sure to read all of the lyrics. They’re impressive…and funny.

Released in 1983

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown,
And things seem hard or tough,
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft,

And you feel that you’ve had quite eno-o-o-o-o-ough,

Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at 900 miles an hour.
It’s orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
The sun that is the source of all our power.
Now the sun, and you and me, and all the stars that we can see,
Are moving at a million miles a day,
In the outer spiral arm, at 40,000 miles an hour,
Of a galaxy we call the Milky Way.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars;
It’s a hundred thousand light-years side to side;
It bulges in the middle sixteen thousand light-years thick,
But out by us it’s just three thousand light-years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light-years from Galactic Central Point,
We go ’round every two hundred million years;
And our galaxy itself is one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

Our universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding,
In all of the directions it can whiz;
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth;
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere out in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth!

Songwriters: Eric Idle / John Du Prez

What made me think of Eric Idle’s song after almost 40 years? Well, Andy and I have watched all of the episodes of the TV series Better Things, and the beginning of the final season uses the song as the backdrop to Sam Fox, the mother, as she begins a new day. Sam has reached middle age and is feeling a little unmoored.

Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox. I’ll bet she taught HER daughters about the universe; we’re sure she tried to teach them about sex.

On top of that, Sara, our daughter, who has reached middle age and is feeling a little unmoored, sent me this quote, flying around the internet (with no apparent author). And voila. This blog was born.

Python’s The Meaning of Life concludes with the Lady Presenter being given the envelope containing the answer to What Is the Meaning of Life. And what is the answer? “Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”

We’ve got you covered! If you want to be nice to people, have them over. We all need to get out. And then serve up a fat-free and delicious slice of homemade Angel Food Cake with some lightly-sugared, fat-free strawberries or chunks of mango. Talk about books you’ve read. Might I suggest Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time (which is on my list to read)? And then take a walk (if in Glen Ellen, we recommend the Sonoma Regional Park or the Jack London State Historic Park).

We’re sure you’re already trying to live in peace and harmony. Or as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently expressed it – inspired by “the better angels of our nature.”

Remember – every peaceful, harmonious fraction of a dot counts.

Continue reading

Y’all Come Back Now

Who says you can’t go home again? And is a picture really worth a thousand words?

Baton Rouge’s 2022 St Patrick’s Day Parade – and we missed it! But we’ll be back in 2023 for this Wearin’ of the Green parade.

Today’s BigLittleMeals blog is all about Louisiana, our home for 26 years. Today’s Andy’s Corner is all about weather – but not really about Louisiana weather (which has been a little scary).

We just returned to Baton Rouge with the entire family to celebrate our upcoming 55th wedding anniversary, and the trip was nostalgia-filled! Where to begin? With partying pictures of the St Patrick’s Day parade we just missed and which everyone was still raving about? With the 50 pounds of crawfish 18 of us devoured? With the restaurants which appear on practically every street corner with names like “Parrains” and “Beausoleil Coastal” and “Cou-yon’s Cajun BBQ” and “Louisiana Lagniappe” and “Roux61” and, of course, “Raising Cane’s?” or with Louisianans, the people?

So warm and so friendly. That’s how the family describes Louisianans. Our 92-year-old Baton Rouge friend, Katie, said it all. “In the midst of the pandemic, I just wanted to stand in the street with a sign around my neck that said ‘I need a hug.'” Katie is still missing the hugs she gets on a daily basis from her mailman (who is out on paternity leave).

And huge hugs were everywhere, Covid be damned.

Warm and friendly aren’t the only adjectives we’d use for Louisianans. How about fun-loving partiers?! “Laissez les bon temps rouler” (pronounced “Lay-say le bon tom roo-lay”) – “let the good times roll” – aptly describes not only New Orleans but the mood of the southern (i.e., Catholic) part of the state.

50 POUNDS of crawfish were totally devoured by the 18 of us…and 2 or 3 guests weren’t even eating them.
Yum. Lunch at Zeeland Street in Baton Rouge
We had to wait for a party of 35 and a party of 40 and a baseball team to be seated at Roux 61
Speaking of roux…here’s Emeril explaining how to make one.
A brown roux can also be described as “dark” or “chocolate.”

If you’re in the mood to P-A-R-T-Y (and who isn’t inclined that way after all this pandemic stuff?), here are some suggestions for a Louisiana-style celebration.

And today’s recipe for Barbecue Shrimp Dip has been a favorite of mine for years. I can’t believe it took me this long to post it. It’s the perfect dish when you’re ready to “let the good times roll.

If you want to party with the best of them, head on down South (unless, of course, you’re already there). We recommend a visit to the Baton Rouge/New Orleans area in the spring, so you can have crawfish at its best. In New Orleans be sure to see the National WWII Museum, enjoy some music at Preservation Hall, tour St Louis Cemetery No.1, shop on Magazine St, and eat at Seafood Sally’s.

The fam relishing the seafood at Seafood Sally’s

Oh – and take a tour at Jean Laffite National Park and Preserve; you’ll love the alligators and snakes!

New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp Dip (thanks to The Food Network for the photo and the recipe)
Continue reading

Fairy Tails

Fairy Tales Tails can come true. It can happen to you.

Are you old enough to remember Jimmy Durante? When I think of those song lyrics from “Young at Heart,” I don’t think of Frank Sinatra, who made them famous. I think of Durante, singing in his gravelly voice.

We’re just back from visiting our 92-year-old friend, Katie, in Baton Rouge. She is definitely young at heart – and awesome. We’ll have more food details about the trip at a later date, but suffice it to say, it was great to introduce our grandsons, ages 20 and 17, to the home and culture where their mama grew up (though they may have been more delighted by their side trip to New Orleans!).

Today our neighbor Deb is our guest blogger. She has a fairy tale tail to share with you, made all the more appropriate because we have tended to overdo dogs (Wynn, specifically) in our blog. Cats have taken the back burner – and they shouldn’t – especially one with a hint of Siamese. So here is the Story of Lumi, as written by Deb; it’s a great and happy one, sure to make you smile.

I have wanted a cat for about 3 years now.  My husband, who loves cats, didn’t want more dependents, but I needed a cat.

Lumi’s journey began in Texas.  Via two friends, he joined our family on November 30th, but let’s retrace the time before.  

Lois was visiting her two adult daughters in Texas over Thanksgiving.  When coming out of a restaurant in San Antonio, it was evening, dark, cold and raining, but there in the parking lot, was a young kitten.  He seemed to be asking each patron as they left with his “meow, meow, meow will you take me home”????  They scanned the parking lot to try and understand his origin, but all they saw were warehouses, business buildings and the question was, where did he come from?  He was persistent in his need, so they scooped him up, took him home, and gave him a bath.  The next day, they posted on Facebook his picture, the location where he was found and contact information.  They also sought out an animal rescue facility, in hopes of placing him, so he would have a future, but they were told him “we will take him, but would put him down”, so they then went to Austin, where the other daughter lived.  Again they sought out a shelter, but they were told “we will take him, but we will just turn him back out” (he wasn’t neutered, so they would probably neuter him and then release???)  Because neither option was a viable option for any of them, nor could either daughter take another pet, Lois paid to have this kitten fly back with her to California in a soft carrier, under the seat in front of her!

Upon her return to Sonoma, Lois knew she had too many animals to keep him, so she reached out to her good friend Pamela, who knew I was looking for a cat.  We met outside at a coffee shop, off a busy highway, for our first meeting.  There he was this lovely creamed colored, small cat with light orange ears and tufts, and a light orange banded tail and BIG blue eyes staring calmly back at me.  He was stretched out in the cat carrier with no concerns, rubbing his check on the nylon mesh, and just looking around; it took me seconds to decide, he just seemed so grateful!!

Lumi hanging out in Glen Ellen

I think it maybe took a week for my husband to say how happy he was we had a cat, and what a GREAT cat this one was.  It took us a while to name him, but after multiple trials and looking up things we settled on Lumi, which means “white in Finnish”.  

Lumi and Randall hanging out in Glen Ellen

Lumi is a grateful cat.  He asks for hugs after he wakes up from his naps.  He loves to rub on your face and wrap his soft paws around your neck and on your face.  He plays chase with our 15 year old Chihuahua/terrier mix, Randall, and is so lively and curious.  We are smitten!

So that’s Lumi’s Fairy Tail.

In his honor we have the perfect recipe, combining our trip to Baton Rouge and Lumi. After all, who can go to Louisiana without seeking out the perfect…you guessed it…CATFISH.

Continue reading
1 2 38
%d bloggers like this: