Sunday, May 19, 2019

An Unrainy Rainy Weekend

At least so far, that's what it's been even though we were prepared for rain all weekend.  As I write this Sunday morning, I know it's not over yet and the sky does remain gray, heavy and cloud-covered.

Our temps continue to go down into the 30s and low 40s at night.  Our few sunny days have felt wonderful, but not as warm as might be wished for. 

Yesterday morning I took several items I've gathered in my recent cleaning and reorganizing to our resale shop.  On the way home I couldn't keep my vehicle from turning into a local greenhouse/garden center that opened this past week.  (Just to browse around, you know.)  A bit of a breeze (and the low temp) was keeping me and the several other customers hugging ourselves for warmth.  But all of us seemed so hungry for the beautiful blossoms and growing greenery.  The rows of pansies set outside and the tables of more tender plants inside the greenhouse  were so tempting.  I almost came close to bringing home some of the pansies, but (somehow) held myself back and will wait.

Although I planted my three raised beds of onions (one and a half of yellow Stuttergarter Riesen and one and a half of Red Comred) this past week and a trellis of Sweet Pea seeds, that's all the planting I've done.  I'm even foregoing trying to start anything under cold frames this year.  (At least I've held out so far.)  Sometimes I think seeds and plants I "baby" along don't do as well as those planted after warm gardening weather truly does arrive.  Stand by to see how long this resolve of mine holds true.

Papa Pea cut down two of our original semi-dwarf apple trees last week.  We've come to the conclusion (exhibiting the slow learner syndrome again) that our semi-dwarf trees will not last forever, and he did find the two he took out to be about half dead right down through the trunks.

My bed of garlic is happily growing and looking good.

Exactly one year ago today, we had our first cutting of asparagus.  Although we have lots of spears up and growing right now, and I probably could cut enough for one meal today, I'm going to be patient and hold off harvesting any just yet.

Last year our first rhubarb harvest was on the 27th of this month, and I do believe that will ring true again this year.

Chives are ready, ready, ready to be harvested and processed into containers for the freezer.  I hope to get the first batch of those done today.

I spent a good portion of the day yesterday in my quilt room experimenting with a prototype for a felted wool Christmas ornament.  With a lot of my handwork projects, I take an idea from something I've seen and put my own twist on it.  So many projects look so simple, but turn out to be much more difficult when I actually put the materials and my hands to it.  Ever noticed that?  Dang.  But I enjoyed myself the whole time and definitely have the enthusiasm to do more along the same line.

Now to make us a big cottage cheese and fruit salad and see what the rest of this day brings.  Hope this last day of your weekend is super!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Still Busy, But More Balanced

As of this week, I've changed my laundry and ironing day from Monday to Tuesday.  (I know you're just thrilled to hear that interesting tidbit.)  Mondays I'm often away from home for part of the day because of other commitments so this change seemed the sensible thing to try.

I did get all the loads of laundry done and was halfway through my ironing when Papa Pea said he was going back to the wood pile, and I was welcome to join him.  (How could I resist an offer like that?)

After putting in some profitable time there, the sunshine we had had was disappearing and since rain was forecast for this afternoon, I thought I'd better hie on out to the garden and attack the weeds in the strawberry plants while I could.

Got almost all of them beaten into submission before the rain drops made the decision for me to quit.


Last weekend I kinda sorta tore my quilt room apart in order to do some rearranging.  (It's still in progress, can you tell?)  At the same time, I've started to go through all my quilting and other handwork books and am getting rid of A LOT of them.  (Feels good.)


Although the room is a first-class disaster, I'm sitting down now and then to put in some time on machine quilting a 60 x 72" quilt that is getting close to finished.


Last week I finished the second wool applique piece I've done.


Although there are several things I wish I had done differently on it, I'm not going to point them out to you.  Or anyone else.  There is a learning curve to this new art form of mine and . . . I'm learning.  Slowly, perhaps, but I'm learning.


I also recently finished a spring/summer quilted dresser scarf (Table runner?  Dresser runner?) for the top of our chest of drawers in the bedroom.


Birds and blossoms and butterflies.


I made it reversible so it can be used during the fall season, too.


Purdy autumnal colors.  (Have you heard it said that we all wear the colors of our favorite season?  I know I do.)

I'm really, truly-duly making a conscious effort to balance my days so I can do special things I want to do; things that aren't classified as "work."  I think I may actually be starting to feel like a more balanced person.  Well, maybe I shouldn't go that far.  Let's just say I may be on the right track.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Big Trouble In The Blueberry Patch

Our blueberry bushes are infected with witches' broom.


For the past couple of years, I've noticed an abnormal "growth" on some of our domestic blueberry bushes.

I may not be the sharpest tack in the box when it comes to searching out info via the Internet, but for the longest time I could not find anything that would explain what it was that was increasingly affecting our bushes. 


Then finally last fall I stumbled across pictures of witches' broom, a rarely found fungal disease that has a serious effect on the production of berries and the blueberry bushes themselves.  Then I knew for sure what we were dealing with.


Above is a picture of one of our bushes as it appeared after the snow melted this spring.

The fungus supposedly comes from the balsam fir trees of which we have many in our surrounding woods.  The wind transports the spores from the fir trees to the blueberry bushes.  The infected blueberry plants then produce basidiospores in the spring, which are carried back to the fir trees.  It's a never-ending cycle.

In the past, I had been cutting off the fungus growth, the witches' broom, on our bushes but now realize one should remove the entire branch the fungus grows on.  This enables other branches to possibly escape infection.  But if the fungus has reached the crown of the bush and you see the witches' broom growing from the crown (up from the ground around the base of the bush), the whole plant should be removed completely.

There are no effective fungicides for the management of this disease.

What to do as a defense?  I don't know.  Removing all balsam fir trees within 1,200 feet of the bushes is advised.  Not possible in our location.

I've found that a few of our bushes have to be removed.  As to whether the rest of them will continue to produce berries for us for any length of time, we'll just have to wait it out and see.  

Depressing, sure, but we're small-time home growers and grow the berries for our own personal use.  I know of a blueberry farm up in Canada not too far from here and one about a hundred-plus miles south of us.  Their blueberry bushes are a cash crop for them, and I'd hate to think what would happen if they had to battle this fungus.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Something To Think About

I recently read a quote attributed to Ralph Lauren.  Mr. Lauren is a well-known American fashion designer, philanthropist and business executive. and although I've never kept close tabs on his talents or lifestyle, these words of his struck a chord with me.  The words I read are:

When friends enter a home, they sense
its personality and character,
the family's style of living ---
these elements make a house come alive
with a sense of identity, 
a sense of energy,
enthusiasm, and warmth, declaring,
"This is who we are; this is how we live."
                    
                                      Ralph Lauren 

Over the years, Papa Pea and I have owned three different places (four if you count the 14 x 16' cabin on his folks' property they gave us as a wedding present and we remodeled and added onto making it a small house).  During much of the time in our different locations, we didn't have the wherewithal to make choices regarding construction or decorating that I would have preferred.  I've always felt a need to live in surroundings that "fed my soul," and so tried to make our homes comfortable, and to the extent I could, a reflection of my personal tastes.

Today books and videos abound encouraging us all to de-clutter, rid our personal space of all items not useful, superfluous and those which don't bring pleasure to our everyday lives or represent our true selves.  Ralph Lauren's words have caused me to take an objective look around my own home.  I realize some aspects do represent our/my style of living and personality, some don't.

Now I'm in the process of considering some changes (oh no, more changes!) so that my home environment represents more closely, "This is who we are; this is how we live."

Think about other homes you've been in.  Think about your own home.  Do you like what you see?  Does your home give a true reflection of you and your lifestyle?   Do you see any changes you might make?  Do you have the desire to make those changes?  Do tell! 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Ruminations

Our heavy snow fall of this past Monday is finally (nearly/almost) gone.  The lack of sunshine all week has not made the process go fast, but warmer temps yesterday (in the 40s) did help the melting along quite a bit.  Let's hope that was the end of winter and that spring will finally stay with us.

It will still be a few days, at least, before I can do anything in the garden soil, but we can get started on pruning the apple trees and picking up winter-fallen branches now that the yard is free of snow again.

Our back wood working area still has lots of standing puddles that are crispy-crunchy this morning with ice that formed over night.  We have to get back on that project asap.

Our good neighbors are planning a visit soon with their son in Iowa where for the past couple of years they've been purchasing their started garden plants from a family-owned greenhouse.  They've always offered to bring back any that I would like, but because I've started my own from seed, I've declined their kind offer.

Not this year.  I am serious about making some changes toward a more balanced life (all work and no play, etc., etc., you know), so I've given them a list of plants I'd like.  It's way too early to set the plants out so with Papa Pea's help I will have to set up a protected spot for the plants in our unheated, yet-to-be-finished space that will eventually be my seed starting/growing/potting room.  Placing them on a rack next to a south facing window and making a quasi-greenhouse with plastic for protection should do the trick.

It feels very different this year not having started my own seeds, but I can already see the "extra" time it's given me.  I feel guilty and incompetent for doing it this way, but as a good friend is fond of saying, "Get over it!"

We've found ourselves really making an effort toward that "happy medium" with more balance in all things we're doing.  Yes, it's change and yes, it's hard, but because we're both wanting the same thing, I think it's gonna work.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Why Our Spring Flowers Don't Bloom Until June

This weather was forecast so I pushed to get the remainder of the raised beds and the asparagus patch weeded yesterday.  (And why was it that I bothered to do that?)


You can see the raised beds in the distance over the snow-covered table on the deck.  Barely.

This lovely batch of Poor Man's Fertilizer still coming down is supposed to turn to rain later today.  Rain and melting would be fine.  Just so it all doesn't freeze.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Am I Glad That's Over!

The past 24 hours on this ol' homestead have not been a piece of cake.  Or even a crumb of a cookie.

There is only a very, very low crawl space underneath what was the original part of our house (it was a dumpy cabin really) when we bought it.  Late yesterday afternoon, our dear daughter heard what sounded like a ticking or dripping coming from the area of the floor in our bedroom.

Well, turns out a joint fitting of one of our water pipes had loosened and was dripping.  In the crawl space.  Upon close inspection, we realized it had been leaking for quite a while.  There was a small wading pool on top of the white plastic we'd used to cover the dirt floor in an effort to keep mold from forming in the crawl space.  (Has worked well, too.)

We turned off the water, cut the pipe (had to take out a "T", too) and put a temporary cap on it.  And crossed our fingers that it would hold.  Then we turned the water back on and filled pots for washing, half gallon jars of drinking and cooking water, buckets for flushing the toilet, etc.

This morning began with a trip to the hardware store for supplies possibly needed.

Dear daughter went slithering into the crawl space with rags, turkey baster and a bucket to make a dry place for her dad to work after he spent some time at his work bench doing as much preliminary work as he could.

All of the following pictures are of poor quality, but it was the best I could get.


This is our daughter removing the water that had accumulated on top of the plastic.


Then she had to make her way back close enough to me at the opening to take the bucket and dump it.  Back and forth we went.


That's me reaching into the opening to the crawl space to retrieve a bucket to take outside to dump.


Once that was done, and Papa Pea had girded his loins, in he crawled to do the repairs.


Then daughter went in to hand him things and lend moral support.  What a sweetie she was.  I stayed on the outside so I could be the go-fer for any additional supplies they needed.

My poor husband has always had trouble working over his head while on his back so this was no picnic for him.  Fortunately, today he didn't get the bad headache and dizziness this position usually causes him.  A much appreciated turn of events from the usual.

Our daughter cancelled a work day of her own to stay and help us through this unpleasant repair.  I told her she should have known there would be days like this in her future when her dad had her helping lay block for a septic tank when she was nine years old.  Truth to tell, she's always been right there to help with lots of yucky jobs that need to be done.  I think we'll keep her.

A relief, needless to say, to have our water system back up and running.  Flowing.  And not leaking.  

Just another quiet, fun-filled 24 hours on the homestead.  Gak. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Lotsa Pictures

Today was my first day (well, half day) of the season working out in the garden.  Wanted to uncover the garlic and rhubarb and free the chives from their debris, and clean up the asparagus bed.  I got a good start on the asparagus bed, but that was it since I didn't get out there until afternoon after a morning of wood work.


This was the asparagus bed when I started.  All the old, dead stalks and ferns needed to come off.


I managed to get everything in one big garden cart load.  Now I need to take out all the weeds that have already started to grow, till between the rows and add some compost over the mounds where the asparagus spears will emerge.


We've had a bald eagle hanging around our place for about a week now.  I don't know why, but he/she hasn't bothered any of our poultry . . . yet anyway.  Don't know what we'll do if that happens.  The eagle seems mainly interested in a pile of old mulch I have at the end of the garden.  Flying down and landing on the pile, he/she gathers as much as possible in his/her talons and flies off with it.  It's no doubt for building a new nest in the area somewhere.  And I'm losing a lot of mulch!



Here I caught him/her high up in a tree breaking off branches and flying off with them.  The branches, presumably, are for the nest building also.


Sadness and woe, it looks as though we may have lost four or five of our newest fruit trees.  We've never had this happen before, but even though we had screening wrapped around the bottom of the trunks, we think it was mice or voles that stood on top of the snow and completely girdled the trees.  They do have buds on them, but girdling of this extent usually means the tree is done for.


A couple of days ago, Papa Pea spotted what he at first thought was an immature grouse in our chicken yard.  On closer inspection it seems to be a quail.  (Are you missing any of yours, Susan?)  He's been peacefully existing (and eating) with the rest of our poultry, moves like the Energizer Bunny and is extremely hard to capture in a picture.  Where did he come from?  Good question! 


With only five days left in the month, there's no way we're going to have all our year's wood cut, split and under cover.  Not by a long shot.


This pile already cut but not split is about twice as big as what you see.


Our weather has not been cooperative for our wood working month.  Lots of rain (and snow) which makes working on the wood not only a bit dangerous, but very messy.  There's still standing water that has run in a stream under the pile of logs.  We've done the best we could, so we'll have to settle for getting it done when we can.

We've had two days in the 60s now so we're thinking winter is actually over.  If we don't get any more rain, I'll be back in the garden tomorrow and might even get my handy-dandy tiller out to work up some of the raised beds!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Mr. Bunny Draws A Name

I'm not running on all four cylinders today.  Feel a bit hung over . . . not from too much chocolate (or too much wine) yesterday.  Just the need to get out and going to an early morning meeting . . . and the memory of a really nice get together of friends and family for our Easter dinner accompanied with great conversation yesterday.  Who knew there were so many funny stories of one-room school houses and leaky air mattresses.

Papa Pea taught in a two-room school house (next small step up from a one-room) for five years.  Our daughter was in his class along with her best friend which spelled nothing but trouble for their teacher/dad.  Our good friend J spent all of her grade school in a one-room school over-populated with boys and no girls near her age.

Papa Pea and I recalled a night on one of our early camping trips with torrential rain flowing under our tent and his air mattress refusing to stay inflated.   In one of her first apartments, our friend A had nothing to sleep on but a leaky air mattress which she tried over and over to patch with packing tape and one night, in desperation, a wad of gum.

Dear daughter did the bulk of the food preparation yesterday with a little help from me.  Our friend A brought a wonderful roasted broccoli dish and J provided dessert of a cheesecake with fresh raspberries.  We figured each of our little slices of the luscious cheesecake held approximately 650 calories.

But I ramble.  On to the drawing for the table runner. 

I numbered your names as they came in, put the numbers 1 - 15 on slips of paper and had this Easter bunny sitting in his basket draw a number.  The winner is:


Number 10 which corresponds with the comment from ELIZABETH.

So if you, Elizabeth, will send me your mailing address via my Contact button on my right hand side bar, I'll get the runner off to you asap.

Thanks to all of you who entered and said such nice things about this quilted piece.  Hope you all had a lovely Easter.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Table Runner Seeking New Home

Once upon a time, I wanted a new spring table runner for the top of our coffee table in the living room in front of the couch.


I made this one but have never once used it.  Why?  Dunno, even though I've kept trying it in different places, it just doesn't float my boat.


It's not large; 33-1/2" long from point to point and 11-1/2" wide.  It was machine pieced and hand quilted.  The backing is muslin.  I made it way back in 2005 so you can understand if I haven't used it by now, it really deserves to go to someone else.


Here I got a better picture that shows the truer colors of the runner than in the two previous pictures.

Anyone interested in entering the drawing for it?  If so, let me know in the comment section of this post.

I'll collect names until I shut down my computer on Sunday night, April 21st, around 9 p.m. and then announce the name drawn on Monday morning and mail it off to the winner next time I make a trip to the post office.

If you're interested, don't by shy.  Even those of you who may be readers but don't usually comment are welcome to join in.

Hello?  Anybody out there??

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

You Silly People!

Did the trauma I suffered over this failed lemon pie matter naught to you?  Geesh, I'm amazed you asked for the recipe after my tale of woe in serving it.

Okay, it was delicious.  And I have to admit that the pieces I cut and served today (I told you we'd eat it all) did come out of the pan without looking as though they'd been run over by our tractor.

So if you insist, here is the recipe.  Even though the "shortbread" crust was quite tasty, I'm sure the lemon filling would lend itself to a graham cracker crust very well.  And that would (should) come out of the pie pan with ease while still remaining attached to the filling.

The recipe is labeled Lemon Sour Pie, but that's a misnomer since there's nothing sour about the lovely, smooth, lemony flavor.  Here goes:

Lemon Sour Pie

For the impossibly recalcitrant crust, combine 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar.  Melt 1/2 cup butter and pour over dry mixture.  Combine thoroughly with a spoon, dump into a 9" or 10" pie plate.  Using the back of the spoon, press mixture evenly on bottom of plate and up the sides.  (I ended up using my hands to finish this process.)

Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Cool the crust.

For the filling, in a saucepan combine 1-1/4 cups sugar, 1/3 cup cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  

Beat 1-3/4 cups water with 4 egg yolks.  Add to sugar mixture and blend. 

Stir constantly (does anyone actually do this?) over medium heat until thick and boiling.  Boil 1 minute.

Remove from heat, add 1 tablespoon butter, 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel (I used all the grated peel from one lemon), and 1/4 cup lemon juice.  Stir until butter is melted, then stir in 1/2 cup dairy sour cream, blending until smooth.

Pour into crust and chill 2 to 3 hours before serving.

In ending this post, I say best of luck to you if you choose to attempt this pie with the shortbread-like crust.

Actually, in the comments section of the original pie post, I think Anonymous - A Reader in Philly had a really good idea.  She suggested baking the recipe in a square pan lined with a long piece of buttered parchment paper, cooling it and lifting the dessert out by the ends of the parchment paper and cutting it into squares.  I thought of baking it in a square pan and then scooping it out as one would do with a pudding . . . and who would care if the bottom crust came out crumbled.  

Where there's a will, there's a way, eh?   Go for it. 
 

Monday, April 15, 2019

When Bad Things Happen To Good Pies

In going through my cook books (yes, I'm still working on that), I came upon a recipe for a lemon pie that was a little different than the one I usually make.  I love anything lemony so decided to give it a try.

I meant to make it last Saturday night for our Sunday treat, but didn't get to it.  All day Sunday I tried again to get it whipped together, but no go.

So, dadgummit, this morning I put all else aside and made it.  The crust was different than a regular pie crust, more like a shortbread that had to be patted into the pie plate then baked for ten minutes, and set aside to cool completely.

When the crust was cooled, I made the lemon filling.  I used fresh eggs, fresh milk, real lemon zest and juice made with my own little hands using fresh lemons.

Recipe said pie must be chilled two to three hours before serving.  Okay.  Done.


After dinner tonight, I brought it out and sliced it.  Or tried to slice it.  For a time there, I thought we might need to go rev up the Sawzall to get through the crust.  It was that hard.

Then getting the pie spatula under the cut piece in order to lift it out of the pie plate was another challenge.  Holey moley, it was stuck in there like cement.


Not to be defeated, I persevered and finally got two slices out and onto our plates.  It was not pretty.

We looked at our plates and at each other and then we dug in.  The consensus?  It was delicious.  The filling was creamy, lemony with just a slight tang.  The shortbread crust was tender and buttery.  The pie will get finished, no doubt about that.

But am I glad I didn't take it to a pie social?  You bet.

Will I make it again?  Nope.

Friday, April 12, 2019

So Beautiful . . . If It Were December!

Well, we got the wind and snowfall, but not nearly as much as predicted.  No loss of power in the area that we've heard of.


It was a very wet, heavy snow, but the wind did manage to make a few drifts here and there.  Not much melting today even though the temp is slightly above freezing.  We've had two or three periods of more snow throughout the day.  Total amount right now?  Not much more than 6".


I snapped this picture of my raised garden beds on Thursday morning prior to the start of the snow.


Now they've once again disappeared under a white blanket.  I don't think we'll be lacking moisture in the soil this spring.

Looks as though we'll miss at least three more days of wood working.  We got in a couple of hours yesterday before the snow, but none today and probably none tomorrow or Sunday.  Daggitynabbit, a good third of the month is gone already which makes me think there's no way we can reach our goal of having all the wood done by the end of the month.

So be it.  We'll still give it a go, but you can't fight Mother Nature with her April showers . . . and snow.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Wood Work and . . . S-n-o-w

No new post in a week since there hasn't been anything of real interest to report.

Our wood cutting for the month of April is going slow.  Many days of rain, not hard but often simply a misting, have made it unsafe to be on the wood pile with chainsaw and slippery boots.

Days when we feel we can, we've been hitting it though.  Papa Pea cuts and I pick up the pieces and haul them over to the splitting piles.  Lots of muscle power used by both of us.  I continually marvel that although my husband is a long tall guy, he isn't bothered by back trouble doing the work as are many others with his body type.

We did cut yesterday, but boy howdy, was it wet underfoot.  Unfortunately, the only place we have for the delivering logger to unload the 8' long logs is at the bottom of our land that slopes at a good angle downhill . . . or uphill, I suppose, from us standing in the wood working area. 

With all the melting snow combined with the rain, there's currently a little stream running right through where we work.  Slip-slosh, squish-squash . . . plus some mud but the wood chips created by the cutting help with that.  Not the worst situation, but the cut pieces of wood often roll right into the inches-deep water, and I'm constantly slopping through it back and forth picking up the wood to carry to the piles.  My boots keep out the water but my pants inevitably end up wet up about six inches from the splashing.

This is hard work for both of us, but good at the same time as it keeps our muscles strong and in good working order.  I have a strong back and legs  but find I feel the repetitive heavy lifting in my forearms.  You'd think the muscles there would be good and strong just from doing every day things, wouldn't you?

We're now forecast to have a late winter snowstorm with high winds beginning this afternoon/evening and going through the night.  Eight to 12" but we'll believe it when we see it.  I may take a picture of our bare ground today before any snow starts for comparison to what we actually get.

I think I'll run into town first thing this morning.  Papa Pea has a book in at the library, I have mail to take to the P.O., I'll be good and take a load to the Recycling Center and then make a stop at the Co-op.  (Organic ice cream is on sale!)

Then when (and if) the snow starts, I'll sit and do handwork while enjoying it.  Can't do anything about it if Mother Nature chooses to send a late, big bunch of the white stuff down upon us, so I'll just enjoy watching the beauty of it.  Then hope for warmish weather to make it all go away!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Lentil Burger Recipe Plus

Crikey, did I ever have one of those days yesterday.  We all have them and mine certainly wasn't anything that couldn't be overcome, especially if I had had my mental/emotional faculties in the right place.  Which I did not.  The straw that broke this camel's back was when I had taken too much time arranging a good-sized container of spring twigs and pussy willows in a vase full of water, reached up above my head to put it on a shelf . . . didn't push the vase back far enough . . . and dumped the whole thing down my front.  Yepper, some days are like that.

But now on to the business on hand today.  Here's the Lentil Burger recipe some of you requested in the comment section of my last post.

Lentil Burgers
1 cup cooked lentils
1 cup cooked rice
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
Good sprinkle of black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 cup minced onion
2 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon catsup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
Dried bread crumbs 
Oil for frying

Mix the cooked lentils and rice.  Add remaining ingredients except bread crumbs and mix thoroughly.  Add only enough dry bread crumbs to make mixture easy to hand.  Shape into patties.  Coat each side with Panko or flour.  Heat oil in skillet and fry patties on both sides until browned.  Makes 4-6 burgers depending on desired size.  (The patties freeze well.)

Now for the notes I always seem to need to add to any of my recipes.

The lentils need to be cooked until mushy.    The lentils will not mix in well if they aren't cooked to a very soft consistency.  And you're not going for light, fluffy rice in this instance.  Gummy is good.  (I've always used brown rice.)

As far as the seasonings go, add whatever suits your fancy.  Go crazy; sausage seasoning would add a real zing to the flavor.  How about a little chili powder?  Or sage and thyme?  Wanna throw in some minced garlic?  Yummy.  Don't be afraid to add seasonings of your choice.

I use coconut oil (the aroma-free kind) for all my frying as it's the best for high heat. 


Here's Papa Pea's plate last night with one of the Lentil Burgers.

* * * * * * * *

Cockeyed Jo asked for the Caramel Roll recipe also.

Caramel Rolls (Adapted from a Better Homes and Garden cook book)

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use einkorn flour with success) and 1 package active dry yeast.

Heat 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter, and 1 teaspoon salt to 120 degrees.

Add to flour mixture along with 2 (room temp) eggs.

Beat at low speed of mixer for 1/2 minute.  Beat 3 minutes at high speed.

Stir in as much of 2 to 2-1/2 cups more flour as you can with a wooden spoon.  

On floured surface knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes).

Shape into a ball in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise in warm place till double (about 1 hour).

Punch down and divide in half.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Then roll each half out into a 12 x 8" rectangle.

Melt 1/4 cup butter.  Using a pastry brush, spread 1/2 of melted butter over each rectangle.  

Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon.  Divide mixture in half and sprinkle one half over each rectangle on top of butter.

Roll up each half up jelly roll style starting at long side.  Seal seams and cut each roll into twelve pieces.

For caramel syrup, combine 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 5 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons light corn syrup.  (I don't use corn syrup, but rather coconut syrup.)  Cook and stir until blended.  Divide between two 9 x 1-1/2" round cake pans.  Sprinkle 1/2 cups chopped pecans over syrup in each pan.  (Less if you prefer or you could omit the nuts if that suits your fancy.)

Place rolls cut side down in prepared pans.  Cover and let rise till nearly double, about 30 minutes.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  Invert onto a serving plate.  Double yum!

These rolls take approximately 3 hours, start to finish.

Phew.  Long post but there you have it.  Enjoy!
 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Admitted Procrastination

I'll admit it.  This post is being written because I don't want to sort through the mess on my desk, pay all those bills, gather my head together for the day, get myself out into the kitchen and whip up breakfast.  So there.

After breakfast, we're off to the wood pile again today.  As Papa Pea uses the chainsaw on more of the 8' long logs, I should be able to finish splitting all the kindling for which we have dried cedar slabs.  I don't think it will fill the kindling bin, but when we pull out the wood splitter, we'll make more from the big chunks of pine that were cut last fall.

It was only 21 degrees when we got up at six bells this morning.  Kinda chilly and frosty out there.  We also had a beautiful snow storm for about half an hour yesterday afternoon.  You know, those huge, giant snowflakes thickly falling while being blown sideways.  It covered the ground (even though the temp at the time was 36 degrees --- so why wasn't it raining?) but melted quickly as soon as the flakes stopped.  Today is forecast to be sunny and clear, but not what you'd call warm.

Our two Muskovy duck hens have kicked into egg-laying mode and we're now getting one or two duck eggs a day.  We don't want to hatch out any ducklings this year, but since they were both good at hatching out eggs last year, as soon as we get a little farther into the season (when the weather warms up), we'll put some chicken eggs under the ducks hoping that will replenish our chicken flock for next year.

Back when we were following a vegetarian diet, I frequently made Lentil Burgers.  I pulled the recipe out of my file box recently and made up a batch.


This is after forming, but before frying.

 I had forgotten how good they are and both of us enjoyed the big patty we had on our plate Sunday night.  Okay, not exactly the same as a ground beef burger, but a darn good alternative to my mind.  Must make them more often.  Actually, I can conveniently serve them a couple more times as the recipe made six burgers and they do freeze well.


We've been avoiding desserts or sweets during the week but allow ourselves something on Sundays.  I've been making Caramel Rolls for our treat.  My recipe makes two cake pans full so I freeze one for the next week.  We both have a hard time not gobbling up both pans immediately.  (I do believe we could.)  Probably isn't so good to ingest that much of a sugar load.  We both drink milk with the rolls . . . so does that make it any better?


Off now to tackle my desk top.

Monday, April 1, 2019

I Have Learned . . .

I have learned that:

~  when I am wide awake at 2:30 a.m. and decide to go out to the couch to read, I should take a flashlight.

~  when washing the sleep out of my eyes, it's best to remove my glasses first.

~  when buttermilk pancakes are burned on one side, they don't taste quite as good.

~  when I put clothes in the dryer, they will dry faster if I actually turn on the dryer.

~  when I split wood for kindling with my hand ax for a little over two hours straight and haven't done it since last fall, more muscles in my body  complain than just my right hand and arm.

* * * * * * * *

This is no April Fool's joke, folks, we got out this morning and started on our goal of having all next season's wood cut, split and stacked under cover by the end of this month.  (What's the best way to get a job done?  Start it.)


While I worked on making kindling, Papa Pea cut the 8' long logs into smaller pieces.


Chop, chop, chop with my little hand ax.  (Yes, I dress for success.)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

'Tis Time!

Even though I've still got at least a month and a half before I can think of setting anything out in the garden (and even then under a cold frame), there are many outside tasks that can be done.  A jump-start, you could say, on our short season when it's possible to work outside without the threat of incurring frost bite.

Although Papa Pea did a bit of clearing on our loop trail up behind us during the winter months, there's still much that needs to be cut down to ground level, widening of the trail in spots and maybe even some mowing with our heavy-duty Gravely garden tractor.  The mowing will have to wait until all the snow is completely gone and the ground has a chance to give up the mud in favor of solid ground.

Oy, the multitudinous fallen branches in the yard areas that need to be gathered and hauled away.  I'll do this while my tall husband spends time pruning the apple trees which, of course, will create lots of debris to be hauled also.

As soon as we have a few more dry, warmish days, some of the garden beds will be ready to be tilled.  Papa Pea spread compost on all of them last fall, but there were a few that I didn't get it tilled in.  (Bad, Mama Pea, bad.)  Cold frames can be put on the couple beds I'll want to plant early salad greens in.  The sooner I get the cold frames on, the sooner the soil will warm up.  The fact that these cold frames are still solidly frozen in their storage spot will slow that process a bit.

We've got lots of trees to remove from the east and south sides of our fenced-in garden area.  These trees have grown so tall they now shade parts of our growing area.  I hate to see the trees go, but seeing as how we live in a heavily forested area, sacrificing those that keep us from growing the food we want must be done. 

As soon as the frost is out of the ground, the electric fencing around the poultry yard can go back up.

Last but not at all least, our wood working area in the back is now dried up enough and free of snow (mostly) that we can start working up wood for the next heating season.

If we get all this done in the month of April (that's the plan), it will be an actual miracle we will be on a fantastic roll for the season.  AND for the recreational time off we've vowed to take in the coming months! 

Yep, 'tis time.  Now let's get at it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

It's Spring! (But It's Ugly)

Even though it appears that spring weather is coming to the north woods a smidge bit early this year, it still tests our patience by giving us sun shiny days when you really want to put on shorts and a tank top and sit outside on the south facing deck . . . but doing so brings on giant goose bumps and a really cold nose, knee caps and any other exposed body parts.  Then there are the nights when the outside temp is below freezing, and it feels chilly enough that we make a small wood fire inside.

Today we took our pick-up truck (alias faithful plow truck) to our mechanic's garage to have a new emergency brake installed.  On the trip, which is about 17 miles each way, we drove through heavy clouds hanging above us, a blip of sunshine and clearing sky, rain and then some sizeable hail.  Typical spring time weather.

We saw a few deer that have come out of the woods to nibble hungrily on the first green shoots popping up near the shoulder of the road.  One still had a scarf around his neck to ward off the chill.  Yep, he did.

Here on the homestead, the frost coming out of the ground is making mud everywhere there is not gravel.


Or remaining ice patches.


The raised garden beds are nearly all uncovered.  The field garden, in the  distance, not so much.


Our little pond is frozen each night, but thaws a little more each day.

Each fall, Papa Pea takes down the electric fencing that encircles the large poultry pasture because snow can damage it.  Plus, when the snow starts to mount up, the electric fencing doesn't work anyway.  So comes this in between time when there's still snow on the ground in places and the ground is too frozen to put the fence posts back in.  The poultry that has lived in their house and attached solarium all winter long is let out, and with no pasture fencing confinement, gleefully explores territory they haven't seen since . . . well, last spring at this time.


Here a few of them are reacquainting themselves with the area across from our back door by the high bush cranberries.  As long as they don't start coming up and leaving deposits on the back porch, I can tolerate their forays.  Especially since we've been getting nine to twelve (yes, twelve) eggs a day from the twelve hens.  I think a couple of the roosters must be helping.

Spring time in the north woods.  My least favorite season.  But it, like all other periods of the year, will fly by quickly and soon I'll be trying to get out in the garden early enough in the day to avoid the heat.  Right now, that sounds pretty good.

Friday, March 22, 2019

I Think It's Going To Be An Early Spring

How's that for sticking my neck out?  (I may wrap a scarf around my neck just in case.)

Not only have we not had our usual heavy March snowfalls (I know, the month's not over yet . . . where's that scarf?), but Mother Nature has blessed us for much of the month with temperatures above freezing and, wonder of all wonders, sunshine. 


This is a shot of our driveway I posted on March 3rd.


This is what it looked like this morning when we walked out to get the mail.

Yesterday our temperature actually hit 55 degrees.  Fifty-five degrees!  Oh, my.  This morning upon our awakening it had dropped back down to 29 and the high for today won't get out of the 30s.  Now, just after noon, we have 34 degrees but we'll still get some melting at that.

The coming week's forecast is for highs in the 40s and sunshine.  More melting!  No s-word is mentioned so we may make it through the last week of the month with no new snow covering.


Not exactly ready for planting (!), but my raised beds are emerging from their winter's blanket.

So.  A whole blog post about weather.  Boring?  Yeah, possibly.  But if these current conditions continue, we're going to have an unusual and very early spring.

Inside, my winter decorations throughout the house are beginning to irritate me.  Haven't quite worked up the nerve to take them down and replace them with the spring decorations.  That might be tempting Old Man Winter a titch too much.  How 'bout if I wait until April 1st to make the switch?  Oh, wait.  That's also April Fool's Day.  Arrrrgh.