Clinging to Winter
If you live in Northern Iowa, you know that winter is having a hard time releasing its grip this year. We got 10 inches of new snow just a few days ago! Granted, most of it is already gone and the roads are cleared, but the fields are still covered in a blanket of white. Yesterday morning we received a true winter gift that only happens if the weather conditions are right–fog and freezing temperatures.
I’m talking about hoar frost. That thick, sparkly, fuzzy frost that clings to the trees, clothes lines, fences and grass blades transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland. It is especially noticeable as the sun breaks through the fog creating a beautiful contrast against the blue sky. The effect is truly amazing and awe inspiring.
The frost was most prominent in the garden, where the house hides the sun for a few extra hours–allowing the frost to grow thicker. I was able to capture a few photos to share with you. Granted, I am a warm weather person, but appreciate God’s beauty in any weather. Experiencing this rare, delicate phenomenon makes me thankful we have the cold and winter weather for at least part of the year.
The thick frost reminds me of other fuzzy things, like lambs. With Easter approaching, many people celebrate with a leg or other cut of lamb. Lamb has a unique flavor, and special care must be taken when butchering and cooking it to ensure the best flavor. Our small herd of ewes will have their babies in late April to mid-May and we enjoy the many benefits they bring.
Not only are the baby lambs some of the cutest creatures on earth, sheep love to eat weeds. We have about 2 acres of pasture that the horses and sheep share. The horses eat the grass and the sheep eat everything else. With intentional and rotational grazing, we not only save on feed but we also save time and gas by not mowing and trimming that space all summer long. When the lambs are big enough, most of them are sold at the sale barn, some of them are sold privately for people to butcher themselves and we keep 1 or 2 of the smaller ones for our own freezer.
Our son and daughter used to show sheep at the county fair, and our son even showed at the Iowa State Fair. Spending time feeding, washing and caring for them taught our children responsibility. The animals depended on them for food, shelter and water. The kids also gained confidence working with the animals, teaching the lambs to trust them as they led them around the yard in preparation for the show ring. Lambs aren’t always easy to work with. The experience helped our kids learn how to deal with frustrating circumstances. Developing working relationships with the animals taught the kids that they can overcome difficult challenges in other areas of life, too.
Helpful tips for great tasting lamb
When the kids were showing lambs, we ate a lot of it–not necessarily knowing how to cook it to bring out the best flavor. We learned early on, that lamb cannot be cooked in its own fat drippings or it has the tendency to taste like wool. Placing the lamb on a rack or using a grill where the fat can drain away is key to prevent the wooly taste. This isn’t quite so bad with lamb brats. The meat is generally mixed with pork because it is so lean. The herbs and spices that season the meat also help with the flavor.
Brats are a quick and easy go-to when we’re crunched for time. We usually have them once a week when they are in the freezer. I made my Pea and Carrot Curry and fried up a few brats for supper in less than 30 minutes. Yes, I did have the brats and peas thawing in the refrigerator all day. Taking things out of the freezer in the morning saves a good 10 minutes later in the day when you’re hungry and need something fast.
I like having quick, easy and good for me meals available on nights when I don’t have time to make something else.
What is your favorite quick go-to meal?