Friday, August 19, 2011

Twelve Oaks Bed and Breakfast Bulverde, Texas

What a great place to relax and unwind. I've been wanting to check out my friend Sally Arroyo's B and B ever since she became an Inkeeper and heard all about her raising and naming her chickens, even subscribing to the "Chicken Keeping Secrets" newsletter since she started on her new adventure in Bulverde, Texas.
When my sister called to say let's get all the girls in the family and meet up for a weekend in San Antonio, I immediately contacted Sally to find out if she had any vacancies. Vacation to me was having some R n' R. R n' R to me was chilling and hanging out. I was concerned what my sisters would consider "vacation." Turns out we all were ready for some of the same R n' R.


We booked our first night at Twelve Oaks and got to enjoy the hospitality of Ana, Sally's sister. I should say "Chef" Ana. Chef Ana bakes wonderful wedding cakes for the wedding parties held at the Inn using their fresh gathered eggs. She fed us a wonderful breakfast that included their home made jellies. We got to look through her album of beautiful wedding cakes she has makes and photos of some of the grand to intimate weddings held at the Inn.

Chef Ana serving up our goodie breakfast with sister Michele!

Tasty Baked Pear and Raisins with a Secret Sauce, Crousant,
and Frittata with Asparagus and Avocado--yummmmy!
Time Flies
I had to ask Sally how long she's been in her enterprise. “Our first guest was October 3, 2009. This October we'll celebrate two (2) full years in the B and B business (http://www.hillcountrybb.com/). March 13th will be one year since the first wedding (http://www.hillcountryvenue.com/). Whew, it's been great and time has blasted by!!" I knew I had been wanting to check it out for some time but didn't realize how fast the time had flown by.

We had so much fun checking out the grounds that included a big garden in the back, complete with scarecrow, that was full of hot peppers and other veggies.


Fresh salsa makings - yumm!
We got to see deer grazing under the trees and all kinds of birds including ducks perched in the trees and in the tree trunks out front.

Early morning drinking our coffee outside, we were able to get up close to deer grazing.


Black Bellied Whistling Ducks

The Inn includes a wonderful gazebo, interesting wildlife,
outdoor amenities, flower beds full of rosemary and lavender.
I love all the wonderful rocks and these wagon wheels.
Tree hugging a centenarian!
Sally wrote "The General" is our oldest stately oak tree. "He" is supposed to be a centenarian—in fact closer to 140 years just based on the trunk diameter...... He is a Southern Live Oak. Also, we had a wedding right under "The General"--it was stunning.

Meet the "Girls"
Even though we weren't formally introduced, I knew the "girls" had names as Sally had told me all about them when she first started raising chickens. I asked her to give me a rundown of all their names and their breeds. I myself am just learning about chickens, so it's all new to me.

Henrietta turned out to be Henry. The "girls" are: Miss Hattie, Buttercup, Molly, Prissy, Honey Dew, Scarlet, Millie and Bluebonnet. The two Guinea's are Henny and Penny.  

This is Miss Hattie !! She is an Americauna and lays big delicious rich green eggs!!! Americauna's don't have much of a red comb on their head.  And, they have horizontal feathers projecting out, next to their ears.
Hattie and Bluebonnet are Americaunas; Buttercup and Honey Dew are Buff Opingtons; Prissy and Millie are Brahman's, Molly is an Australia; Scarlet is a New Hampshire Red; OH!! I forgot about Pepina--she is a Dominique (the little fat black and white checkered chicken).   

This is Henry--note the red 2nd-ary sex characteristics
on top of and around his face!!! And, he crows!!
Sally wrote "I have Texas Pioneers for eating squabs......now I have a pair of White Homer's (homing/racers) Bride and Groom release them at weddings after the ceremony and they fly back to the coop!!! They are great photo op's and everybody attending the wedding loves seeing them released."
Trees shade the chicken coop. The coop has alot of character
not to mention all the chicken characters inside.
Goldie and Loxie
Since we were there Sally sent me an update on their chicks - “I've bought two silkies (Goldie and Loxie) which are soft, fluffy and tame and also a blue "Show-Girl" named, Show-girl--she's also a silkie but has a long naked neck. There is also a new Polish Chicken--a real beauty: She's all black with a big black and white pom-pom on top of her head!! named Coco as in Coco Chanel--it fits her very well!! ;-) That's my flock......as of today!!!!” Sally - I personally want to go back and see Coco.

Taste Testers
These are just some of the interesting highlights we encountered at the Twelve Oaks Inn. I highly recommend it for a nice getaway vacation. It's real close to San Antonio but there are alot of neat shops, very close by, I wish we'd had time to explore. If you are looking for a place to get married, this place is fantastic. I don't think we could get away with wedding crashing here as Ana would put us to work in no time! Yep, I don't think you could put much over on Ana - we all volunteered to be wedding cake taste testers  - maybe on our next visit!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Peas Please and Mixed Herb Pesto

Some of the black eye peas\snaps fresh from the Farmers Market
Hmm . . . what to make with all the garden and fresh farmer market goodies? Checking recipes I found two I thought you might enjoy. Fresh black eye peas from the Farmers Market will work nicely in this tasty dish.

There were many recipes online about cooking and flavoring them. Since this recipe called for cooked fresh and I was going to add lots of goodies with this recipe, I put them in a saucepan, covered them in water, brought them to a boil then reduced them to a low heat. I covered them and let them simmer till peas were soft when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes than drained them.
  
OZARK CAVIER
  • 4 cups cooked fresh, frozen, dried or canned black-eyed peas (Fresh the best)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions 
  • 1/2 cup diced purple onion 
  • 1 large, dead ripe, home grown tomato
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced 
  • 3/4 cup olive oil or hemp seed oil
  • 1/4 cup Braggs® Organic Red Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sweet basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Combine ingredients and marinate for at least six hours in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally. Drain the peas and serve chilled. Recipe Developed by The Ozark Unit of the Herb Society of America.
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Notes and recipe from Master Gardener, Dorothy Ann Earley - Here is a recipe for mixed herb pesto. I particularly like this rendition of the time honored condiment because I can harvest a variety of herbs from my garden and it gives me an excuse to cut back my mint.

MIXED HERB PESTO
  • 1 cup basil
  • ½ cup oregano
  • ½ cup mint
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Place basil, oregano, mint, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and run it on high until all ingredients are finely pureed. Remove from blender or food processor and add parmesan cheese and salt. Mix well. Serve with pasta.

I believe the real secret to great pesto, is not just fresh sweet basil, but a really fine parmesan cheese. Grate it yourself just before you need it. And it doesn’t hurt if you use the best olive oil you can find either.

PS to Grilled Lamb Sausages on Rosemary Skewers

Did I forget to mention that Buckeye Farms carries lamb sausage and other meats at the local Farmers Markets' in Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Grilling with Rosemary Skewers


Yummmmmmm.
Dinner - grilled lamb sausages on rosemary skewers w/fresh chopped mint in greek yogurt, stir fry veggies w/cashews.

Made in the Shade


Gull gathering in the shade


Close up of Camille Playhouse Bird Club.

As Ryan Henry said on Facebook "The gull days of summer are here."
I was surprised to see all the seagulls sitting under the canopy of a tree this afternoon. It seems more normal to see them flying or walking at the beach in full sun rather than under a tree getting some relief from the heat. Guess being by the water helps cool them off. 
Midday heat has its effects.
Course some kids ran up and all the gulls took off. I imagine it didn't take the birds long to return to their previous spot. I expect the tree they had picked not only took advantage of the shade but was situated to take the best advantage of the cross breezes we are so fortunate to have here in Brownsville, Texas. That's called using your ole bird brain.

How cool is it for the birds in Your backyard? Learn more at:
Keeping Birds Cool