Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I've Done Lost My Touch!

. . . which may not come as much of a surprise to some people.

Finally finished the new autumnal toned rug I've been crocheting for in front of the kitchen sink.

I can't get the durn thing to lie as flat as I want it on the floor.

This is my second try at the rug.  I had it about two-thirds of the way done when I realized there was just too much ripple-dipple in it so tore it completely out and started again.

Yep, I've lost my touch apparently because as hard as I tried to add the increases where I thought they were needed, the rug is still not flat as a rug should be.

I'll leave it for a time while we walk and stand on it, maybe wash it to see if that pulls it together in the right places.  If it doesn't shape up by then . . . well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

However, I fully realize if this is the biggest problem I have, there's no reason to complain or be upset.  For sure!  Geesh.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Best Rye Bread Recipe I've Found

A little over a week ago, one of my posts included a picture of a flop of a huge loaf of rye bread.  The bread itself was of good texture and taste, and we managed to gobble it up without any trouble.  But I said I should have baked the bread as two loaves in regular sized loaf pans instead of as one big loaf which went splat on a cookie sheet.

In the comment section of this post, Carolyn over at Krazo Acres asked if I would post the recipe for the rye bread.  It's taken me until this morning to bake it again, but here's the recipe, Carolyn Renee, m'dear.

Papa Pea's Favorite Rye Bread

1/4  cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cup boiling water
2 (rounded) tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2-1/2 cups rye flour
2 to 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Combine first four ingredients in large bowl.  Pour in boiling water and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Cool to lukewarm.

Sprinkle yeast on warm water.  Stir to dissolve.  (I feel it's critical to have the correct temp water so you might want to use a thermometer to check it.)

Stir rye flour into brown sugar mixture, beating well.  Stir in yeast and caraway seeds and beat until smooth.

Mix in enough of the all-purpose flour, a little at a time, to make a soft dough you can knead.

Turn onto lightly floured board or counter.  Knead until satiny and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Place dough in lightly greased bowl turning dough over to grease top.

Cover and let rise in warm place until dough is doubled, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch dough down.  Turn out and divide in half.  Form into two balls.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Shape into loaves and place in 2 greased loaf pans.  (My pans are glass and measure 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2".)

Cover and let rise in warm place until almost doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  Turn out onto wire racks to cool.  Makes 2 loaves.

These are my loaves from today.  Pepper mill (it's a big one) included in picture for comparison of loaf size.  Not huge loaves, but big enough for  good-sized sandwiches . . . and nice sized for rye bread.

I freshly grind my rye flour which I do believe gives more "height" to the dough.  Rye flour doesn't contain a lot of gluten so is generally more difficult to rise.  Also, my recipe doubles the amount of yeast called for in the original recipe.

A heavy, moist sourdough rye would be better, but until I master the technique of making (and keeping) a good sourdough (don't hold your breath), this bread is pretty good. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Never A Dull (Or Even Close To It) Moment

Our TV reception went flooey the middle of last week, and we ended up having to get a serviceman (from da big city, 130 miles away) out to analyze the problem.

He was a very nice, accommodating fella and a big help since after much fiddling around, it was suggested a couple of limbs from our twin birch tree might be causing the glitch by blocking the satellite signal to the dish.  (So what moved?  The satellite or the tree?)

Mr. Repairman helpfully held the ladder steady while Papa Pea climbed nearly to the tippy-top of our extension ladder to do the surgery.

Limbs came down off the tree with no mishap, husband came down off the ladder with no mishap and the repairman went on the rest of his rounds for the day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Am Thankful For . . . (Lots of Things!)

I am so darn appreciative of having a nice house that is easy to keep clean.  Or maybe I should say a nice house that (for some blessed reason, thank the stars above) doesn't show the dirt, grit and grime that continually and mysteriously gets dragged indoors.

Don't think I'm a meticulous housekeeper, because I'm not.  I can regularly go a week (or more) without vacuuming or dusting.  I am, however, fairly conscientious about keeping things "picked up" which, perhaps, gives me nothing but a false illusion of cleanliness, but there you are.  Even though I'm never happier nor feeling more content than when the house is actually clean and sparkling, I can go for long periods without doing much real cleaning if everything, at least, looks neat and tidy.  Functioning in the midst of messiness is hard for me.

I readily confess there is one kind of "dirt" that I can't abide.  Dirty dishes!  Uffda, I cannot stand (((shudder, shudder))) to have a pile of dirty dishes sitting in the sink or on the counter.  That one little thing makes me feel the whole house is a sloppy mess.  Heck, I can't even prepare a meal when there are dirty dishes not done from a previous meal.  Yeah, I know a good shrink could write a paper on that little idiosyncrasy of mine.  (Probably already has.)  (Maybe I should seek it out and read it.)

But where was I?  Oh, yes.  Grateful.  And appreciative.  And downright thankful for a house that truly is easy to keep clean.  (Looking.) 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

You Might Be A Homesteader If . . .

. . . your purchase of nine new apple trees makes it feel like Christmas just came three months early.

We have struggled for years trying to get our seven semi-dwarf apple trees to bear mature fruit with any kind of consistency.

This next and new venture (filled with determination and gusto) has us experimenting with dwarf trees.  We just got four Zestar, four Honey Crisp and one Chestnut Crabapple.

So now we have these new trees.  We have an area in which to plant them.  Next we'll need to build a grow house around them.  (Yeah, I totally realize it would be more sensible [and a mite bit easier] to build the grow house first and then plant the trees in the structure, but sometimes it's fun to make things more difficult than they have to be.  Snort.)

Truth to tell, we had the opportunity of obtaining these three year old trees right here and now and didn't want to pass it up.

Recently, through lots of research, book learnin', and encountering a great (apple-growing) mentor in the area, we've come to the conclusion (go ahead and label us slow learners) that rarely will apples ripen and mature in our far northern climate without some help on both ends of the season --- spring and fall.  Hence, a grow house.

This will be a wood-framed structure covered with greenhouse plastic having a wide door on each end and panels on the top which will be constructed so they can be opened when necessary.

I promise to post more about this "little" venture as it progresses.

Right now, I gotta go dig some holes.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

More Prattling!

I just put nine beautiful, delicious, nutritious quarts of chicken broth in the freezer ready to be used in cookin' up some good vittles in the next few months.  There's also some tender and tasty chicken meat that will be used in a variety of ways.  Ya sure, you betcha, it takes many hours and some work to butcher your own home-raised (geriatric) birds, prep them for the freezer and then at a later date stew them, debone them, and strain and process the broth but I consider the time spent doing same as our health insurance.  The flavor of the broth (chicken meat, too, for that matter) is so much better than anything you can purchase that there's simply no comparison and makes it difficult to not produce our own at home.

Besides being up to my elbows in chicken parts, I worked out in the garden today doing clean-up.  Papa Pea wasn't too pleased when he saw me tearing out some of the flowers.  I had to sit him down and have a little talk about how it is time to move on.  Gardening season is over and it's oh-so-much easier for me to pull plants now (than after a couple of frosts have zapped everything deader than a door nail) and  before the ground is half frozen.

There was no stopping me.  I absolutely had to bake an apple pie first thing this morning.  There's something about the fall season that calls for baking with apples, don't you agree?

All summer long I've been putting in small (very small) chunks of time  on the scrap quilt I'm making for our king-sized bed.  To say it's proceeding slowly is the proverbial understatement.  Come on, Winter, I need some sustained hours of quilting time to get this project mooooving!

Most nights I'm actually too pooped to go into my quilt room so have been cozying down on the couch and crocheting a new rug for in front of the kitchen sink . . . in autumnal colors, of course.  It's about two-thirds of the way done.

Speaking of being tuckered out at night, I'm sitting here wiping the tears from my eyes which are being caused by me yawning so hugely.  Time to sign off.  At this rate, I may not even have the giddy-up to work on my rug tonight.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Just Prattle

The last three chicken carcasses from the butchering we did last October are in my big, ol' stewing pot on the stove.  This is not good.

Although I'll get a nice quantity of tasty, tender chicken meat from them, that's all we will have to last all winter.  (Which, of course, won't last all winter.)  We're down to eight layers in the hen house currently (and sometimes getting eight eggs a day) so it's not looking as if it would be wise to cull any of them (and put them in the freezer) this fall.  We have one rooster we could sacrifice, but that would leave us with no back-up should something happen to the other big guy.

Thinking of weather in your different necks o' the woods, I'm hoping you're all experiencing some lovely fall weather.  Here we've been in the midst of several days of drizzle alternating with heavy fog.  We chose yesterday to go to the Big City to do some heavy-duty restocking of miscellaneous essentials (we hadn't been since last April!), but had some not-so-comfortable driving through thick fog many times during the trip.  Not nice driving when you can't see where you're going.

I can't seem to convince myself to go out into the garden to do any more clean-up lately, because it's so blasted wet.  The moisture is good, but sunshine would be lovely for any of the outside chores still on our list.

Even though our weather might not be the (glorious) autumn weather we'd all like to have, it has put me into a mood for baking bread (which I have not done all summer long . . . shamey, shamey, shamey).

These are two loaves of Oatmeal Bread that turned out nicely.  I also baked some rye bread which I didn't put in loaf pans but rather shaped into one (huge) long loaf on a cookie sheet.  It rose beautifully (maybe too much?) and then fell down, down, down during baking.  The texture and taste, I'm glad to say, is still good but slices look more like a piece of zwieback toast.  It's hard to make a respectable looking sandwich with them.

Kinda pitiful, huh?

I planted a type of sunflower in the garden this year (Ring of Fire) that grows only 4-5' tall and was touted as being excellent for use as a cut flower.  And it is!  I've been bringing in bunches for a long while now.  They stay fresh in a vase for ever-so-long.  I'll be planting them in the garden every year now.

Apparently Papa Pea and I aren't the only ones a smidge bit on the frazzled and weary side at the end of this busy summer.  Others seem to be suffering periods of brain fade, too.

Case in point:  I came across a nifty little book entitled "Gentle Hikes of Minnesota" that listed and critiqued hiking trails (many in our area) under three miles in length.  We sent for a copy from Amazon to have in our library and received it today.

Well.  Not exactly.  Even though the paperwork tucked inside the book cover listed the book we ordered, the book enclosed was "Walking in Grandma's Garden."  Hey what?

Yep, seems as though many of us need some downtime . . . and are looking forward to a restful winter season.  How 'bout you"  Do you feel you have adequate time to "rest up" during the more inclement months?  Or do you have a To Do List half an acre long of inside chores to catch up on after being outside most of the summer?