This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Darkest Arkansas

This state has a fair amount of rugged, remote territory; it can't be farmed, though some of it is quarried for rock, gravel, and shale.  Ranches raise beef and dairy cattle; horses, goats, llamas, and buffalo are surprisingly common.  Less picturesque are the oil and natural gas wells and the vast Delta stretches where soybeans, rice, and cotton are raised.  A big plus:  the 51 state parks that offer camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and more.  

 Last week took us to Lake Fort Smith State Park--the man-made lake is a water source for the second-largest city in Arkansas, with a newly-renovated dam and a newly-relocated and rebuilt campground.  The park has been closed for years during the reconstruction, and this was our first visit.  It's very remote--no cell signal whatever--and it's not near any cities...or towns...or villages...or anything else!  It was very, very peaceful.   Boaters had the best way of accessing fishing holes, but we managed to find a cove that was quite productive:  four green sunfish, a black bass....supper!  Between rainstorms we managed to hike some of the trails.

Okay, the bass was larger than the blue-gill, but details are hard to illustrate.  All  were delicious.  

We made a quick trip into Mountainburg (population 1319)  in order to leave cell messages so that no one would expect to hear from us. 

We moved further east, to Withrow Springs State Park, near Huntsville.  We were again in a remote area with no cell signal (and nearly no neighbors in the campground.)  More rain!  Actually, we were hoping that some was falling back home.  Too bad there is no 'America's Funniest Home Video' of our hike--I had to keep flailing my kerchief to fend off the insects; possibly this would have looked rather festive from a distance.  

Although daughter Laura lived in Fayetteville for 5 years, we had never visited some of the landmarks, such as Mount Sequoyah (a Methodist conference center.)  Favorite scene:  Vespers Point.....what's interesting about the cross?   

We used Garmie, the helpful GPS, to locate the public library (complete with a lower-level parking garage, green construction, and wi-fi.  Hubby Dearest got on the laptop, while I checked out the quilt display and read the latest copies of 'Smithsonian' and 'Natural History.'  
It's a fabulous facility, (and Laura tells us she misses it badly.)  We had a late lunch at The Pesto Cafe--delightful place!--and then returned to Withrow Springs to hike near War Eagle Creek in order to earn the right to relax in front of a campfire.


This picture was taken from a bluff above the creek.  

The countryside--rolling hills and belts of trees--is peaceful and lovely. 

 I was able to show Hubby Dearest a real live water moccasin down near the creekbed; absolutely NO appreciation shown for my willingness to share.  Tsk.

 The third stop was near Mountain Home, in north-central Arkansas, located between two large lakes (Bull Shoals and Norfolk.)  The economy has been less-kind to this part of the state--(Arkansas has been less-battered by the downturn than many other areas of the US.)  Smaller towns are ....constricting?  shrinking?  Dying, alas, is the more operative word.  We were camped on the White River, where fly fishermen were out in droves. 

We had unseasonably warm weather most of the week--and it was more intrusive at our campsite in Mountain Home, where we had no shade.  We got up very early on our last day and reached Cranfield Rec Area on Norfolk Lake at daybreak.  We shared a 'senior citizen fishing dock' with a pair of elderly gentlemen; all of us were pulling in some enormous blue-gills.  In addition, I caught a very attractive (and unhappy) water terrapin (the 'local name' which I suspect was inaccurate.)  Once the fog burned off, the fishing slowed down, and we headed back to the camp to pull up stakes and drive home (where Not A Single Drop of rain had fallen.) 

And now......Fall.


  1. The Vespers Point cross was mounted off-kilter; it's crooked. Perhaps I needed a larger photo size here.

    Still struggling with the looked good before I hit Publish. Tsk.

  2. Yes, I noticed the strangely placed arm of the cross; it's clearly visible in your photo.

    Thanks for sharing the photos from your trip and the description. Sounds like a wonderful time. I would've enjoyed seeing your snake.

    Still hot here too. Temps in the lows 90s or high 80s. We had a single drop of rain yesterday (which evaporated in an eyeblink), but have hopes for more over the weekend.

  3. AAAH Elaine:

    Why couldn't I have met you, when we still had time to Rock & Roll ?

    Women like you are few and far between. Rooster Tail Fire Tigers, soreness from casting, getting finned, and ultimately being hoisted, ( hooked ) on your own petard? Was that a bad choice of analogies? Try wrassling a thirty pound stripped bass, in the dark, on a rolling deck, after he has just transferred the hook you caught him with, through the meat of your thumb ! Thank god my fishing partner was quick on the draw. One snip with Lineman's pliers, and it was mercifully over. I didn't think that thing was ever going to stop flopping. Pure agony !

    On another note, kudos to you for admitting that I was able to actuate your salivary glands. When it comes to wild game, I take a back seat to no one. Since I know that Arkansas is chocked full of " Good Ole Boys ", I'm sure that someone can provide you with a Canadian goose? Hell, you can probably provide one for yourself ? Buy a shotgun. Do your part to insure that your local population of waterfowl doesn't get out of control. Avian botulism is a terrible thing to behold. Dozens of dead birds on the shore that are not edible. If you can't handle shooting something, let me know, and I will FedEx you four prime goose breasts, along with the secret recipe. Of course, if you share it with anyone, you'll never live to see the light of day!

    As to the music, I was only speaking " Tongue In Cheek." I love classical music, and I'm warming up to opera. Very soothing.

    In closing, I have to say that I really have enjoyed our banter back and forth on Wordplay. You are a Kewl lady! I respect your intelligence and your Joie De Vivre. That being said, I suspect we are diametrically opposed on most issues. If you really knew me, you would probably hate me. If you look up the word hedonistic in the dictionary, my picture should be next to it. When I travel distances, I go by helicopter, because I refuse to get on anything that has a left wing. As you know, I can't stand political correctness, and I have a big problem with people who can't laugh at themselves. That doesn't mean that I don't think you're a special individual, only that we have to accept each other as we are. Both of us are probably to old to reassess our core values?

    Anyway, please understand that we are sympatico in some respects, and that we can disagree with out being disagreeable. It's all about respect.

    All My Best,

  4. Wait! Your name is not really Chaos? Okay, I can adjust...

    You are right: Arkansas is full of 'good ole boys' and as of October, never mind trying to get anything done--they put the Independent into 'independent contractors.' At the lake, it sounds like WW3 as the duck/goose hunters let loose. (I am actually a pretty good shot, but prefer that my targets cooperate and stand still long enough for me to plug them. Have a .22, but use airgun with dumdum field pellets in the city here--squirrels and rabbits should stay OUT of my beds. Now that I'm living in town, no groundhogs or deer to counter.)

    My position is that there is room in the world for all sorts, and that one shouldn't let politics or religion ruin a good time. This doesn't mean I won't attempt to be persuasive if I think there's a chance someone might listen. wink!

    Now about those duck breasts...

  5. O.K. I was just informed by your server that I have exceeded 4096 characters, so guess this is going to be a two parter.

    Part 1.

    Ahhh! D'accord.

    Not surprised to hear you are just as handy with a firearm, as with a fishing pole. Yes, those rabbits can wreak havoc in any garden, and tree rats, ( squirrels ) are great thieves. I bet they really tick you off, and I'm also betting that's not a good thing to do. Lol.

    Didn't know that you live in town now. It's been quite a while since I visited your blog. Is the lake house just for Summer?

    Anyway, loved your Wordplay post about the Great Toronto Goose Debacle. I was laughing like hell, as I pictured it all in my mind's eye.

    Therein lies the crux of the matter. Domestic geese and wild geese could not be farther apart when it comes to their meat. Domestic geese are chocked full of fat. A giant grease ball actually. Wild goose is very lean. If you roast one whole, you have to baste it constantly. I stopped roasting them whole years ago. The legs are tough, and the wings are worse. Most goose hunters I know, don't even save the wings. The legs however, are wonderful in a crockpot with any kind of a soup or stew concoction.

    Now, getting back to the best part, the breasts. Breasting out a goose is not difficult for anyone who is adept with a boning or fillet knife. Certainly, you fit those parameters. Wild goose breasts are not thick. A really large bird's breasts may run about 3/4's to 1 inch. As I said, they are totally devoid of natural fat. A fair cook will end up with something akin to pot roast, but a great cook's product will be a dead ringer for choice London broil. My easiest and favorite recipe, is a snap. Simply put the breasts on a broiling pan that has been greased with butter or some such thing. Season with salt, pepper, or any other seasoning that you might prefer with beef. I caution you against using any herb or spice that is over powering, especially stuff like basil, thyme, dill, etc. If you like a barbeque'd or a smoky taste, sprinkle each piece liberally, (I'd much rather have used the word conservatively ) with liquid smoke. You should be able to find that at a market or gourmet shop. Next, lay two strips of thick bacon over each breast, and you're ready to go. Broil the breasts as you would a nice steak. The bacon will burn a bit on the ends, but that's O.K. If it starts to burn completely, or catches fire, obviously lower the flame. You want the meat to be nice and rare in the middle, like London broil. Flip each piece after maybe 4 or 5 minutes. It will depend on you stove. I hope you cook with gas? You don't have to put the bacon on the flip side, if it's too dried out. It will have already done it's job. Use your cooking skills to determine when the meat is done to you liking. It should not be bloody, but it should definitely be rare. The longer you cook it, the tougher it will get, but if you do it right, it will be like prime steak. BTW, do not use a meat hammer tenderizer, or anything like that. It ruins the dynamic.

  6. Part 2:

    Now you're ready to serve. Let the breasts cool down for a minute or two, than slice them on the bias, as you would London broil. If the breasts are too rare, pop them back in for a very short time. Don't forget, they will still be cooking while they cool. I highly recommend serving the breasts with Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice easy mix, but they go well with most anything.

    I started you out on this recipe, because it's easy. The Hawaiian Canadian is a bit more labor intensive, mostly because of the marinade.
    The enzymes in the pineapple break down the proteins in the meat rapidly. You can cut it with a fork. The big thing, is that you want to know you're eating wild goose. It amazes me that some hunters spend thousands of dollars on equipment and hunting vacations, and when they get home, they try to make their game taste like grocery store meat. what's the point?

    O.K. I've blathered on long enough. Game lesson 101 is over for today. I'm going to cut and paste this tome, and hope that I don't get any wacky " Too Long " messages from your server?

    Have a great day,

    P.S. Don't forget to watch Bill O'Reilly tonight ! LOL !!!!!!

  7. Jim and Elaine, this is Very Amusing. Even for a vegetarian.

  8. Now I have the dilemma of explaining why in the name of heaven I do not have a gas stove... Bought this old house because it was (a) on a level lot; (b) a lot of space; (c) in our price range. The kitchen was particularly awful--bad design, and all-electric.

    One fine day, the dreadful little drop-in range up and quit working. This miserable appliance had a toy oven so small that a cookie sheet would not fit inside. It was surrounded by a heavy tile counter that had replaced the original (probably formica with aluminum edging, based on the vintage of the neighborhood.) Houses in this part of the country have no basements; with a slab foundation below and a second story above, you have no way to bring a gas line into the center of the house, so that ends that discussion.

    But I refused to replace the awful range with another toy drop-in we ended up with a massive remodel--gutting the kitchen down to the studs and concrete slab, taking out two walls (one load-bearing,) and putting a new wall in at another location. For six months I cooked in the laundry room with an electric griddle and a toaster-oven while we worked on this project. (I was still working 3-4 days a week teaching at the rehab hospital, so the DH hired a framer who claimed--pay attention to that word--he knew how to do drywalling and other odd jobs related to remodeling.)

    But I digress.
    I have a fairly nice electric range (technology has improved a lot,) while our daughter, who Does Not Cook, Ever, has a simply wonderful gas stove that I covet with all my heart. I play on it whenever I'm down to see her.

    Must stop for now, but will end by observing that (a) you have GOT to be kidding me about Uncle Ben's. Prefer to cook wild rice on its own, then mix it with cooked brown rice; and (b) watching Bill O'Reilly would absolutely cause me to stroke out and die without ever tasting wild goose...

  9. ROTFLMAO !! Well, Hummmm?, where to began? I see your experience with remodeling was just as joyous as mine. I did my kitchen over recently as well, but I kept my beautiful mint green Chambers gas stove, ( circa 1950 ) as the center piece. Couldn't imagine cooking on anything else. I'm sure, that with your cooking skills, you can get a fairly decent end result with an electric stove, especially if it's a newer type. I just don't trust em though. As you might remember, I just retired from the propane business. We had tons of cooking only accounts. A small tank outside the kitchen, with minimum copper tubing, right through exterior wall to the stove. You might want to have a local propane representative give you an estimate sometime in the future. Just Sayin!

    That being said, I knew you would freak out vis-a-vis the Uncle Ben's suggestion. Yeah, I know it's lame, but it's very quick and doesn't taste half bad. Needs tons of butter of course!

    Hey, I was being nice! I could have said Glenn Beck, but I knew you'd probably vapor lock on the spot. I have no desire to be even remotely responsible for your untimely demise, since you're such fun to have around. So I promise to refrain from making any references to politics or Fox news in the future. That is of course, unless you fire the first volley. A final word of caution. If you don't have any good prescription tranquilizers, I suggest you act quickly to obtain some. November second is right around the corner.

    Gotta run now. Sara might be lurking. We wouldn't want to transform her into a closet carnivore, would we! LOL.

    Best Regards,

  10. Hey, Jimbo,
    When I say 'bad design' and 'center'-- I mean it. This kitchen is in the middle of the house, no-how, no-way, no-where near an outside wall. No 'cooking with gas.' (I encourage a lot of grilling and mesquite-smoking, plus I do a fair job of campfire cookery...a pale substitute, but c'est la vie.) I can't even talk about my 36" LP gas Thermador cooktop (with center griddle/XL burner) and the double ovens -- all left behind with my apple orchard and 1/2 acre garden in Ohio, not to mention my 12 HP Kubota tractor and the view of the Chagrin River from the window over the sink. Sigh.

    No use sticking my head into the oven over this, though; it's electric.

  11. Hey Elaine:


    Kitchen in the middle of the house. Boy, that sucks! As to your Thermador stove, I serviced many of them during my tenor as a propane gas technician. Awesome appliances! You'd be surprised at how many are still around. Knowledgeable folks just don't get rid of stoves like that. You must feel like you lost a best friend, when you had to give that stove up?

    My Chambers has the griddle on the left, which is actually the broiler cover. I have only three burners, but where the fourth burner would normally be, there's a bottom heated well with a flush cover that contains split canisters for keeping liquids like soup or stew at any temperature you desire. The stove also has a full sized oven and a smaller warming oven. All the ladies who come into my kitchen go GaGa over it. It's almost as old as me, but it's still mint, color wise and condition wise. I think I'd sell my favorite truck before that stove?

    Wow! You had to give up your apple orchard, a huge garden, river view, AND your tractor? My deepest condolences!

    Well, you owe me a recipe. I love real chicken fried steak, but only get the real deal when I head south for a NASCAR race. Hmmm.! Plenty of grease, gravy, and calories. A truly decadent meal for us Yankees.

    BTW, I understand that goose season opens in October in Arkansas. Up here, it's not till November. I hope you can cajole a couple of Canada's from one of your local hunter's, but if not, I'm totally serious about FedEx'ing you some breasts. Hey, what are culinary friends for? Of course, I'll expect a Quid Pro Quo of crawfish or frogslegs. :-) Don't forget to print out the first recipe. I don't want to have to type that all over again. Lol.

    If you ever want to E-mail me, my addy is JimBrownDog@Aol.Com Put M.O.L. in the heading so I can pull you out of Spam the first time.

    Later Gator:

  12. Check your spam filter, Jimbo!
    And we'll have to agree on an alternative recipe; I've never made chicken-fried steak--it is a Texas thing, not truly Southern.


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