Saturday, January 23

Farmers Anonymous

Hello. My name is Mizmell and I’m a farmer.

It all started rather innocently just before finals in December. I was a wee bit stressed over the thought of exam essays and needed a slight diversion. I began with a small farm and planted crops that were ready to harvest in24 hours. This was the beginning of my morning ritual which involved harvesting and then planting as I had my morning coffee and cigarette.

But as the reward coins accumulated, I begin to look at ways to enhance my farm. I grew embarrassed by the covered tent—-the only shelter for my imagined self—-and sought ways to stockpile coins so I might be upgraded to a cottage. I analyzed crops by cost, maturity and coins yielded to achieve my new housing goal. Once I achieved a cottage though, I wanted a farm house. Now that I have a farm house, I want a manor--but it’s an awful lot of coins…

So I turned my focus to experience points. With the completion of each level, I calculated how many experience points to the next. I sought new avenues for gathering experience points.

I get several phones calls daily from a local “farmer.” This farmer is related to me. She shares her secrets for yielding more coins and experience points, as well as predictions for the challenges ahead. She has even offered her neighbors, if I’m interested.

With more neighbors, come more benefits-- but also more obligations! You fertilize their crops, feed their chickens and receive more experience points. I shamefully accepted two. After that the horror of my addiction became glaringly apparent and I have declined all further offers.

I have increased the size of my farm, so I can plant more, yield more, buy more and advance through the levels. But the larger area requires my attention twice a day, so I have also added farming to the end of my day and spend 15 or 20 minutes each night right before bed. I bought a tractor, then a seeder and a harvester. These new additions to my farm allowed me to do 4 plots at a time, rather than one at a time. I have become so efficient, twice a day isn’t really a big deal.

It was only after the change from once a day to twice daily farming, that I came to grips with the fact that I needed more neighbors to get the Mighty Plantation. I checked my friends list to see who I could perhaps sway. I sent out invitations and picked up a few. I even found a few old friends I hadn’t seen or spoke with for more than 30 years—but they were farmers, like me. I sent a request. They accepted and we became neighbors. Only one accepted with a polite email inquiry and well wishes.

Just yesterday, I got the Mighty Plantation. I’ve since planted more crops and purchased a hot rod tractor that allows me to plow 6 plots at a time. If I choose high-yield short-term crops, I’ll probably be able to stockpile quite a few coins. I still have my eye on that Manor.

Friday, January 8

A Real Decent Fine Boy

When Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, his host made a point of telling the audience that he was a "real decent fine boy." If Elvis had lived, he'd be 75 today.

In honor of the King, I'm making a large pot of Elvis Presley's Homemade Vegetable soup. Rumor has it that Elvis wasn't the healthiest eater by a long shot. No need to worry, though. Even real decent fine boys can do with a little tweaking.
Momo did the honors for Elvis' soup and has tweaked this recipe to make it very healthy and very tasty. I promise there will be no yucky separation or fat on the top like some vegetable soup recipes. Give it a shot. It's delish!

EP's Homemade Vegetable Soup

1 large can tomatoes
2 pounds LEAN stew meat
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
5 pieces garlic
2 boxes frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups diced Russet potatoes
2 cans cream style corn
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp salt
2 tbsp black pepper

Cook meat, onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and tomatoes in large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add mixed vegetables and cook another half hour. Then mix in corn, potatoes, ketchup, salt and pepper.
Cook 30 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Serve.