Monday, February 25, 2013

Girls Weekend - Baby baby horses and Crock Pot Sauce...

Hello Friends!

Its been a busy few weeks for me...How about you?  The day after my fantastic Valentine's Day at White Castle...I left at 6am to pick up my Mom and Step mom for a 10 hour road trip to Thurmond, North Carolina. Why?  Cause that's where my baby sister Amanda lives and works.  Along with my sister Kris and my niece Rachel went to spend President's weekend visiting Amanda, her baby, Trinity...and the other 40+ horses on Double Tail Farm where Amanda works.

Amanda and Trinity...
 Surprisingly, the ride, while long - was smooth and relatively easy.  We made it to Amanda's house just after she left for work - so of course, we went to the farm instead.

Amanda is on the night baby watch (and has been for a few months) - two of the pregnant horses are close to having their babies.  I'm super sure there are technical horse terms for that..."dropping a foul" ?? but every time I think of that, I see in my head a baby horse being dropped on its head.  I'd prefer that image never cross my mind (though aren't you glad I put that picture in your head??) 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  There is lots more to talk about before we get to the wagon rides, horse rides and all and all good fun on the farm.

We arrived about 4:30pm or so - and after getting a tour of the barns...meeting my niece Horse Trinity...

Isn't she gorgeous?!?
We left to shop, get settled in and pick up some dinner (while waiting for Kristy and Rachel to arrive).  Amanda really wanted to see us and visit...(as when she gets home at 7am, she goes right to bed!) - so we picked up some "Italian" <I use this term very loosely, as to not insult the Italians for the food we ate...more below>  food and had a barn picnic. 

Yes.   I said Barn Picnic.

As Kristy said to Amanda... "This is love right here..."  as I'm sure you can imagine eating dinner standing around a feed bin, surrounded by all the lovely sights, sounds and smells of a horse farm and about a zillion barn cats wanting in on the meal isn't the most pleasant thing in the world ... but we had fun with it!

Preparing the 'table'...a food bin covered in a sheet!

Barn Picnic.  Can you tell by Kristy's face how much fun it is! =)
But I have to tell you - I'll Barn Picnic any day of the week before I eat the so-called 'italian' food that Mazzini's in Elkin served.  Ellen did give fair warning that it wasn't the best Italian food... and I'd beg to differ to call it Italian food at all.... Though aside from not having Veal Parm (um.. Italian? what??) and forgetting my Manicotti and Ellen's meatballs all together...I was the "lucky" one to then get stuck eating Amanda's Mozzarella sticks appetizer for my dinner.  You can't really mess up a Mozzarella Stick.  Except if you put it with canned tomato sauce with no seasoning.  I'm not even sure I'd call it tomato sauce at this point.  Thank God they forgot my Manicotti!  That's all I'll say about that - other than I'll never go back and never eat there again.

Next day - we had a late breakfast before going to the farm for a wagon ride.  I had to do it...order the Heart Attack on a plate - but I hardly ever eat this stuff...and it was so freaking delicious!   Yes, my friends...buttery grits and biscuits and sausage gravy.  (Yup..I barely looked at the can get eggs anywhere!).

Bet you can guess how well that sat, as we bumped around on a wagon pulled by two beautiful Belgians, huh?

Poor Amanda on about Three hours of sleep - but she was a trooper!  She helped hitch up Juniper and Susie for our ride...



Amanda driving...this is something new she's learning!

Rachel and Grandma

Kristy, Rachel and GranE
I became totally fascinated with one particular horse in the barn...Glory - on of the pregnant horses.  She is gorgeous...and HUGE.  The biggest horse I've ever seen in my life.  I'm not kidding... Amanda is 6'1 and while next to Trinity (who is still a large horse) - you can see Amanda's head over the horse.  If Amanda is standing on the other side of Glory ... can't see Manda. By a few feet.  Huge.

This is my big, mit of a man hand next to the horse's head. 
I've never felt so dainty in my life. Her head is as long as I am from head to stomach! 
 Anyhow - the next day (no babies born that night...we were all disappointed) Amanda took Trinity out for a run, romp and ride... and got Rachel and Ellen to ride!  It was a fun, funny day!
Trin first out of her stall... shaking things loose!

Manda.."how much she trusts her horse"...while grooming

Rachel getting ready!

Rachel's first Trinity Ride!

Ellen's too!
All the while we were playing with the horses on the farm... Back at Amanda's house, the slow cooker was working its magic!  You had to know I wasn't going to NOT cook while I was there, right??  Especially after we ate that horrible Italian food and my baby sister didn't know any better that it was worse than crap.  I had to remind her what tomato sauce really tasted like. 

So:  Crock Pot Tomato Sauce... easy for her to throw together and come home to lovely smells after a day (or night) in the barns.   Now - keep in mind... I made copious amounts of sauce, enough for two trays of baked ziti, 4 cutlets of chicken parm and lots of extras for re-heating.  I couldn't leave my sisters house with out stocking her freezer full of ready made, easy to heat up meals while she is on baby duty.

I started off by browning 2 pounds of chopped meat, with onions and garlic... Once brown, I transferred it into the crock pot.

I had basic seasonings to work with...just Salt, Pepper and Italian seasoning... I seasoned the meat as I went (all to taste!)
 After the Meat was browned, I sauteed more onions with garlic until translucent...
 Added in the tomato paste to cook... then added chicken stock and let simmer for a few minutes...
 Tossed the onions/tomato paste into the crock pot, with three cans of tomatoes...mixed, seasoned and let go on high heat for about 5 hours...
And while I don't have a picture of this process...I boiled the pasta in salted water until just under al dente ... drained, tossed with sauce and ricotta cheese...layered in a pan with more cheese and baked until golden and bubbling...
And this - my friends is what I filled my sisters fridge and freezer with.... Yes, I was channeling my "inner Italian grandmother" (OK, so I'm not Italian, but I really believe we all have a bit of an Italian grandma in us) - I needed to make sure she ate well!

It is now Sunday evening...Kristy and Rachel left for home...Amanda at work and Mom, Ellen and I will be leaving early tomorrow for the long drive home.  With plenty of ziti for dinner...we go back to the barn to have a farewell dinner with Amanda.  Though this time, its so cold we can't be out by the feed bins...but tucked into the itty bitty monitoring room with a space heater to eat ziti.  It really was a good time!
Yes..that is the door at my Mom's back...and Amanda's hand
is touching the back wall!  Tiny! 
All in all, it was a very nice weekend.  It was great to see my sister doing what she loves...I loved seeing the horses and have a very healthy respect for anyone who works with them!  And while I can't wait to go back and see Amanda, and the babies that will be born in the coming days and weeks... I will second Kristy's suggestion that the next girls weekend be someplace sans a barn... a spa maybe??

Until Next Time...

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