Sunday, January 31, 2010


Yesterday Jody over at The Paw Paw Patch wrote a blog entry about a monster parsnip she grew in her garden and the fear it struck in the heart of one of her co-workers.

It reminded me of an incident that happened when we owned the restaurant.

We used a lot of carrots. They were ordered from a food service company and every now and then we would get ones that were so unnaturally large that we dubbed them "killer carrots."

In the summer when we were the busiest, we always needed extra help in the kitchen in the morning to get fresh food prepped for the day. Our daughter (Chicken Mama), when she was home from college, worked primarily the diningroom as a waitress but this particular morning I had snagged her for some help in the kitchen before we opened.

During the busiest of times, Roy frequently worked out front as host, greeting people as they came in, chatting with them while they waited for a table, then seating them and often checking them out at the cash register when they left.

The night previous to this incident had been extremely busy, Roy had been working out front and Chicken Mama had been one of the wait staff on duty.

The following morning there were probably about four or five of us in the kitchen busily working. Roy came into the kitchen to ask Chicken Mama about something that had transpired out front the night before. I can't remember what the gist of the conversation was but they soon had a lively banter going back and forth, disagreeing about what the circumstances had been. They were standing about ten apart from each other engaged in animated conversation (disagreement?) with all of us in the kitchen half listening in on their chatter.

Chicken Mama happened to have a very large "killer carrot" in her hand, and while holding the narrow end of the carrot, shook her hand (and the carrot) at her dad trying to make her point.

In mid-sentence, the carrot snapped in half, the thick end went sailing across the room and hit Roy smack between the eyes knocking his glasses off which went skittering across the kitchen floor. Everyone in the room stopped as if frozen in a game of "Statues." Roy and Chicken Mama both had the same open-mouthed, stunned look on their face. Several seconds passed before finally someone couldn't hold it in any longer and let out a snorting laugh which released the tension and we rushed to pick Roy up off the floor. (Just kidding!)

All turned out well as not even his glasses were damaged but you can believe that whenever Roy sees an over-sized carrot, he turns and runs the other way. A man can't be too careful when it comes to killer carrots.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Clean, You Slovenly Wench, Clean!

Woke up before dawn this morning (which isn't hard to do this time of year) and laid there in the dark thinking. Thinking it felt so good in bed and the rest of the house wouldn't feel nearly as warm and comfortable. Thinking about all the areas of my house that need a good cleaning.

I think this was sparked by the fact that I pulled a pair of shoes out of the bottom back of my closet yesterday and they had dust balls clinging to the laces. Hmm, when was the last time I took everything off the floor and vacuumed in there?

The little area that is my pantry becomes a messy hodge-podge of things stuffed in anywhere there's room (not near enough space in there for what I try to store) almost immediately after I sort and clean the shelves. I have to haul a stool over every time I need to get out or put away anything on the top shelf of only four so I have been known to actually toss things up onto that highest shelf and hope it doesn't fall back out on me.

My quilt studio has never been dirtier. My husband asks how a quilt studio can possibly get "dirty." It's amazing the amount of threads, scraps of fabric, dust, lint and fuzz that end up not only on the floor but on all surfaces, when it's not dusted and cleaned regularly. Because I haven't had as much time in there to quilt this winter as I've wanted, I think I've avoided spending the time I do have cleaning.

We have lots of books on bookshelves and in bookcases. I talked last fall about the need to pull all of them out and dust the books along with dusting and cleaning the shelves. Haven't gotten to that yet.

My desk. Oh, my desk. I need to sit at my desk for about three days straight going through drawers cleaning and organizing. My one big file drawer is so stuffed full I have a hard time pulling a file out let alone trying to put a new file in. I know I could whittle the files down to about half if I took the time to sort through and throw out obsolete material.

I remember once when I was working full-time outside the home. A co-worker had quit to have a baby and was visiting work one day when she remarked that she was bored silly at home. She said, "Well, I cook and clean and what else is there to do?" I thought at the time that I must have been doing something wrong. I was sure I could be home full-time and not have enough time for all my cooking and cleaning. ('Course, in all fairness to me - yay, me! - at the time I had a huge garden, we had milk goats and poultry, were raising and bottle feeding an orphaned fawn, building our house and had no running water.)

Granted, the everyday (day after day after day!) things get done and I'm sure no one walking into my house thinks it's filthy.

But did I eventually pop out of my warm, cozy bed this morning and start cleaning? No, not yet, but as you can see from this post, I'm still thinking about it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Good Project For A Winter's Day

I didn't go outside today except to walk down the driveway and back to get the mail. The temperature was 13° and, believe me, that felt absolutely balmy compared to what it has been. Anytime you don't have to wear a face mask when outside, you know it's comfortable!

What I did do inside that was fun was to make donuts. I can't remember the last time I did so, but I've been thinking about (and salivating for) homemade donuts for a while now so today I did it.

My recipe made 24 donuts with as many donut holes. (Funny how that works out.)

I plopped the donut holes in a bag of sugar/cinnamon mix. So easy to pop one in your mouth. Then another one. Then another . . .

Chocolate Glazed being my husband's favorite, I made 12 of them that way. (Dang good chocolate glaze it was, too.)

Then 6 of them with a Lemon Glaze.

And 6 with an Almond Glaze. (Good thing I took separate pictures of these last two 'cause they look so different, huh?)

The donuts are just a smidge on the dry side. This was an old, tried and true recipe I've made in the past and I didn't change anything this time around. I know I didn't over-fry them. Hmm, wonder what would happen if I used honey next time instead of sugar in the dough? That should make them a little moister. (Uh, more moist? Moistyer?)

I decided to make them today because I thought we were going to have company but that didn't happen. Good thing Chicken Mama is stopping in on her way home from her Friday nannying job. I'll foist some on her so the two of us don't have to eat 'em all.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snow, Snow, Wherefore Art Thou?

The land in our particular part of our county goes up quite steeply to the north. It levels off after hitting a ridge approximately two miles away as the crow flies. This ridge forms two distinct micro climates. Below the ridge, we are warmer in the winter and colder in the summer. A good illustration of this was the weather last week when we got all the rain but up over the ridge, it was all snow for them.

The farm where we get our milk is up over the ridge and the main road going there is a steady incline and often snow-covered and/or icy in the winter. Because of this, Roy and I have an arrangement. I go to get milk in the spring, summer, and fall. In the winter, he takes his turn. (So now you know that I'm a real wimp driving on anything other than dry surfaces.)

This past Tuesday when he went to get milk, I decided to ride along. The temp was hovering around 0°, and we didn't want to have to take a vehicle out two times so we combined our errands. First a few quick stops in and around town and then we headed up to the dairy.

The farther up we drove, the more beautiful the scenery became. We went from a few inches of snow cover at our place to . . . how much? I don't know, but it's a whole hay of a lot more than we have.

Can you see the very top of this fence line going diagonally across the middle of the picture? Granted, it's drifted snow, but still very impressive.

This is the farm's mail box along with a couple others at the end of the little gravel road leading to their place.

And then back down into the snowless Rain Belt, here is our mail box along with a couple others.

Snow lovers that we are, perhaps we should have located up over the ridge!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Or setting forth several unrelated thoughts of a Sunday evening.

The weather. Good grief, the weather! We're still getting alternating rain and snow. Temperature is still hovering around 34°. Forecasters are still saying we will have 6-10" of snow by tomorrow afternoon. (Not at 34° we won't.) So at the present time we have water on top of a couple inches of slush on top of a hard layer of ice. Roy took a fall on his keister tonight chasing a couple of recalcitrant geese who didn't want to go into their house. He didn't hurt himself. He said he actually slid down more than fell (he was on a hillside).

We had a date to go to an acquaintance's place this afternoon to see her herd of Boer goats. Boers are raised primarily as meat animals and we've never seen the breed in person. But the visit was cancelled because everyone involved (probably the goats, too, if they had been asked) agreed it wouldn't be very pleasant standing in the barnyard in the cold, cold rain. Also, her couple of miles of road up off the main road currently have a surface like that of a skating rink, she reports.

Roy has a big sorting job he wants to do in the garage this week so he decided we should bring the ping pong table we have stored in one of our back out buildings up to the garage this afternoon. Sure wish there had been someone around to take a video of Dumb and Dumber trying to manhandle the table through the water, slush and ice and stay upright while doing so. At one point my right foot went out from under me and I was sure I was goin' down. I caught myself but let out a shrill, little girlie squeal that was so unexpected and scared Roy so much he almost lost it.

"Order Garden Seeds" has been on my daily list for about two weeks now, and I couldn't face another Monday with it staring at me so today I decided I just needed to get it done. Period. And I did. I thought my supplies were in pretty good shape as I have good luck keeping seeds from year to year and had ordered larger than normal quantities last year of all vegetables seeds. I checked and sure 'nuf, I don't need to order anything except a few flower seeds. 'Course, some of you will recall that I said this coming summer is the year I'm going to let the garden lie fallow and spend my time in the hammock reading. Yeah, well . . . the closer we get to seed starting time, the more I'm wavering.

Speaking of the garden, I am so pleased (and surprised!) with the way my onions from last year are keeping.

They didn't have sufficient time to mature before cold weather hit last fall and I was sure I was going to have to dehydrate the whole batch in order to keep them. I got a good number dried (what a chore) but was quickly losing enthusiasm for the job when I noticed the ones that were waiting in the open crates almost sorta looked like they were curing naturally. What the heck? So I pushed a couch and coffee table out of the way, laid newspapers down on the floor and spread them all out and left them there for several days. Darned if they didn't end up looking pretty good. I bagged them up in mesh bags, put them in a big cardboard box and stuck them in a corner of the garage that stays somewhere around 50°. They have kept beautifully!

This is a big thing for us because I use A LOT of onions in cooking. And like all food items we have to purchase, the price of onions seems to be going up, up, up.

Ah, life is good. A plentiful supply of onions, lots of dry wood to heat the house and ward off the cold, wet rains of January (that is so not right for us here in northern Minnesota), not having to spend hardly any money on garden seeds for the coming planting season, having the choice to not drive anywhere today on icy roads, and surviving another day without falling . . . whoops, I mean without falling and hurting oneself out there in our ice-coated world. We're doin' okay.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Our weather isn't horrible yet, but we are under a Winter Storm Warning until 4 PM on Monday. Our temperature has been holding at 34.0° for most of the day, and it's been raining for several hours now. We've been told to expect freezing rain and snow starting soon, with heavy snow starting Sunday afternoon or evening with a total accumulation of 6-10". The snow will be good for us, but I wonder how much ice we'll get first?

Once again, there are colder temperatures south of us and reports are of freezing rain and snow there already. Somebody has got this whole weather thing turned upside down these days.

My dear husband and his couple of men friends successfully had their day's outing today but drove home in steady rain. That was fine . . . I was really worried about icy roadways for their return.

What did I do today home all by my loney? (Me and the dog, that is. The dog who is feeling pretty much back to her normal self today, I'm glad to report.) I'm going to be a big, fat tease and tell you you'll have to pop on over to my quilting blog to get the story.

Now I'm going to sign off, take a shower, get on my robe and jammies, fix myself a rum and coke and sit by the fire. And listen to the pitter-patter of RAIN on the roof.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bad, Bad Words!

I just finished typing quite a long post and went to my Pictures Folder to retrieve the five pictures that went with the post. No pictures. What the . . . ? Had I mislabeled them? Painstakingly scrolled through every last folder but no pictures that went with the post.

I distinctly remember deleting the pictures from my camera because I was sure I had transferred them to the computer. Apparently, I'm hallucinating again. Sigh. The pictures are nowhere to be found. Post makes no sense without the pictures. Sigh. Dang, I hate it when I do stoopid things like that.

Forty-five minutes before what my husband has decreed as bedtime tonight. He is setting an early alarm to get a jump-start on a scheduled boys' day out tomorrow. He and a friend are driving a ways down the road, but there's a chance all will be cancelled if the weather doesn't look good in the morning. The forecast is for rain, sleet, snow, high winds and who-knows-what other things falling from the sky and blowing through the air for the whole weekend through Monday. No one around here would mind if it were to be just snow as we still need more to cover up some of the ice we already have on the ground. Even going out to do animal chores these days is mighty risky business.

Our nearly 13-year old dog, Zoey, hasn't been feeling well for the past few days and we've wondered if she hurt herself in some way (possibly internally) falling on the ice. She doesn't seem to understand at all when we try to tell her she's got to move a little more cautiously these icy days. Tearing off at high speed across the yard or down the driveway has caused her to take more than a couple of hard falls on the ice lately. But she is definitely feeling better today (finally ate her normal amount of dinner tonight and even chewed a little on a rawhide bone) so she could have just had a case of dog flu, too.

I baked a batch of Oatmeal Cookies today. The first baking I've done since my over-the-top Christmas baking during which I think I must have gone through about 25 pounds of sugar and almost as much flour. I did too much. Got lots of thanks from folks I gave goodies to but I'm not (I'm hereby putting it in writing) going to do that much again next year. My timing on the cookies this afternoon was not good. They came out of the oven a little after four o'clock and the devil made me stuff about six of them in my mouth and for some reason, I wasn't too hungry for dinner tonight.

Sorry you missed an interesting post because of my weak mind and/or deteriorating brain cells and got this drivel instead. Believe me, from now on I'm checking three or four times to make sure I've uploaded pictures before deleting them from my camera. Bad words, bad words, bad words.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

At the Risk of Appearing Bonkers . . .

. . . let me tell you what I did this afternoon that made me feel really good.

First of all, I found a new blog that I think I'm going to like a lot. The post today kinda sorta had to do with Valentine's Day. As we grow older, we tend to lose the sense of joy and romance in our every day routines. The author of the blog suggested several simple things to do that might give us a boost out of our ruts. She said we might even "be gentle with ourselves and lower our insanely high standards just a bit." Also, she wrote how nice it would be to do something that makes someone else feel good, and equally as important, something that makes us feel good.

One specific suggestion you could do for yourself was:

"Declutter your make-up drawer and line it with beautiful paper so that it makes you smile every morning."

Now don't you laugh. This hit me smack in the middle of my forehead. The drawer that holds my make-up has been truly yucky for some time.

I know my make-up drawer isn't very cluttered (there would be those who would say I NEED more make-up but we won't go into that right now) but it is dirty and that bugs me every time I go in there. But, really, (that old kill-joy voice in my head said) who sees it but me and there are lots of other household-y cleaning chores I should tackle before that drawer.

But, listen carefully 'cause it really gets crazy here. I dropped everything this afternoon and tore into that drawer!

Oh, gross! Full of strands of hair (my brush and combs are kept at the very back --- the drawer doesn't pull out far enough for you to see them) and balls of brownish gray . . . brownish gray . . . stuff! (What the heck is that stuff and where did it come from?) If the Sanitation Department had made a house call, I would be in jail right now.

Not only did I clean the drawer thoroughly but I actually threw out twelve lipsticks I'd been hanging on to for probably that many years. (And never using.)

I didn't stop there. I was on a roll. I even sorted and cleaned the other two drawers that WERE cluttered.

I lined my drawer with red paper. Why RED paper? Because red is vibrant and exciting and passionate. And I am vibrant and exciting and passionate. (Uh-huh, and I spend afternoons cleaning out bathroom drawers.)

But ya know what? I am definitely going to feel good every time I go into that dad-gum make-up drawer of mine for who-knows-how-long. What a life altering act! I'm so proud of me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Setting A Land Speed Record on Skis

The 80-acre homestead that we first lived on when we moved up here to Minnesota was a bit remote. There were two other families in the same area but the closest lived about a mile away via the gravel road.

We had ski trails all through our woods that we used a lot in the winter time. Our daughter got her first pair of cross country skis when she was about four so when she was nine years old, and the following incident occurred, she was already a pretty competent skier.

Along with our nearest neighbors who were good friends, we decided we should all work on making a trail through the woods from our house to theirs. Then we could ski back and forth in the winter without having to go along the gravel road. We cut trees and cleared brush for a couple weekends one fall and by winter time had a nice trail that connected our homesteads.

At the time they had two milk goats and we also had started our small herd. It was natural that we would do each others' milking and animal chores when one family needed to be gone for a time.

The other mom and I frequently went on ski outings during the day when the kids were in school and husbands off at their jobs. The rule was that we always left a note on the kitchen table saying what time we left the house, where we were going, and what time we expected to be home.

Okay, back to one winter day when we were in charge of doing the neighbors' evening chores. Roy had a meeting after school so our daughter took the school bus home and she and I were going to ski through the woods to the neighbors', do their chores, and be back home before dark.

I can't remember what I was involved in but I wasn't quite ready to leave as soon as Daughter got home, changed her clothes and was ready to go. At any rate, we left a smidge later than planned.

We skied through the woods, fed and milked their goats, fed their chickens, collected eggs, gave fresh water to everybody, and checked the house to make sure all was well. Not only had we gotten over there later than planned, but chores, for some reason, took longer than expected. Dusk was falling fast and I knew we weren't going to make it all the way home before dark.

I was not a well prepared woodswoman that day. I had neglected to bring any kind of a head lamp or flashlight along on the journey.

We no more than left their homestead and entered the woods than we lost all natural light. We could hardly see the ski tracks on the trail. But that wasn't the worst of it. From not too far off in the woods, we could hear the howling of wolves. There was a healthy population of timber wolves in the area that winter and it wasn't unusual to hear packs "talking" back and forth to each other.

I gave some thought to turning around, going all the way across our neighbors' land and out their long driveway through more woods to get to the road and walking or trying to ski home via the plowed gravel road. Daughter and I had a short conference. I explained to her that it would be almost twice as fast to ski home via the woods trail and that's what I thought we should do. We frequently saw wolf tracks on the road so that way didn't guarantee a wolf-free trip either. I wasn't feeling very big and brave at the time but tried to convince her all would be well. She hesitantly agreed to my suggestion of skiing through the woods.

We tied our hats on securely, put our ski pole straps around our wrists and got ready to push off. I asked her if she wanted to go first or follow behind me.

She replied, "I don't wanna go first!"

So I told her I was going to go as fast as I could but to just yell if I was getting too far ahead of her.

It was so dark I truly could not see the ski trail in front of me. The good thing was that we had used the trail a lot and had defined tracks that our skis could follow. The bad thing was that we had to go up and down a couple of fairly steep hills and navigate some tricky turns. And, oh yeah, there was the continual howling of the wolves that commanded much of our attention.

I know it was adrenaline that spurred my nine year old along that night but I don't think the front tips of her skis were more than 6" behind the back tips of mine the whole way. She was bookin' it!

We came to the top of the steepest hill before we crossed the frozen creek and came up into one of our fields. I stopped at the crest and told her we had to go down separately so we didn't crash into each other. (Secretly, I was hoping there wouldn't be a moose standing at the bottom that one of us would crash into.) I again asked if she wanted to go first but she said no. I told her to wait at the top and I would yell as soon as I got to the bottom and she could come on down then. I no more than came to a stop at the bottom and was turning to call to her when I saw her dark shape coming down in a beautiful tuck position like a bullet in a down jacket.

Once out in the open of the field we could see a little better plus our house in the distance was lit up like a Christmas tree. Roy had arrived home, found no note and couldn't figure out where we were. He knew we had planned on going to the neighbors' to do chores but didn't know why we weren't home yet when it was pitch dark out. He was just going to get back in his car and drive over there when we clomped up onto the back porch.

I know the wolves were most likely never anywhere close to us but when we were in the middle of those thick, dark woods, they sounded plenty close enough. Almost thirty years later, our daughter vividly remembers that ski home, and I still remember the speed record we both set getting there.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Still On The Food Kick

I baked bread yesterday . . . but did a little fiddling with the recipe which maybe didn't turn out so well. One thing I did was to add oatmeal to the batter. That no doubt added to the heaviness of the bread.

When I was working the dough, not only was the texture elastic but possibly more akin to kneading a tire. I would fold a portion over and push down on it, but when released it would spring back to the original shape. After ten minutes of that I felt like I'd had a super upper body workout.

I knew bread in a glass loaf pan bakes a little faster than that in a metal pan (stainless steel in this case) but here's a graphic illustration. The loaf on the right was in the glass pan and you can see that although both loaves were in the oven the same amount of time, the sides and top of the one on the right are darker.

The other difference in the two loaves is that when forming the loaves I decided to get really wild and crazy and make one loaf into cinnamon bread. For some reason it didn't rise as well as the plain loaf.

But it still came out okay. Sorta. I haven't cut into the plain loaf yet but the cinnamon loaf pictured above is just a wee bit doughy in the middle. 'Course, it could be that I under-baked the loaves. I set the timer and then walked away without pushing the "start" button. Doh! So I had to guesstimate how long to bake them.

We did gobble up a portion of the cinnamon bread with breakfast this morning so I think it's safe to say that it will not be wasted. I do loves cinnamon bread! (Even better with white frosting drizzled over the top . . . but so messy to try to store.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Won't Be Able To Eat Until Monday

Ooof, I just ate waaay too much. I think my indiscretion had something to do with the fact that I missed lunch today. (That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.) But I gotta say, it was a very tasty meal.

Tonight I made Millet Loaf with Onion Gravy, served with a small tossed salad, mashed potatoes and buttered beets. Millet Loaf was 'bout my husband's favorite meal back in our vegetarian days. Even though we now eat meat (but only raised on our homestead or "happy" meat we buy from reliable sources), he frequently asks for Millet Loaf.

So here goes the recipe. It's a good substitute for meat loaf and is certainly more economical to make.


1 cup cooked millet
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 cup finely ground walnuts
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 cup oatmeal
2 tablespoons catsup
1 cup grated cheddar or colby cheese
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk

To cook the millet, bring 1-1/3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Then add 1/3 cup millet. Simmer with lid on saucepan for about 20 minutes. At the end of the 20 minutes cooking today, there was still a little water left in the pan so I took the cover off and let it cook a couple of minutes more.

This will give you an ample cup of cooked millet. It will look like cooked rice, but round instead of oval.

I had about two tablespoons more than shown in the cup measure above but I just threw that into the recipe anyway.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Then press into an oiled loaf pan.

The cooked loaf will hold together better if you do truly p-r-e-s-s it into the pan so I get in there with the flat of my hand and put a little pressure on the mixture.

The mixture looks fairly light in color but will darken (more like meat loaf) in color as it bakes.

Bake in a 350° oven for one hour.

While the Millet Loaf is baking, you can make:


Saute 1 medium onion, thinly sliced, in 1/4 cup melted butter in medium saucepan until tender. Don't let the onion brown.

Stir in 1/4 cup flour and mix well. Then gradually stir in about 14 ounces beef broth. (If you use canned beef broth, it will probably only be about 10-11 ounces. Just add more water to equal the 14 ounces.)

Then add 1/4 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet, and a good sprinkle of black pepper.

Simmer until ready to serve, adding more water if gravy gets too thick.

Millet is rich in minerals and contains a higher amount of vitamins than wheat, oats, rye, barley, or rice. I like it a lot and use it in many different ways. If you've never had it before, you might want to give it a try.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Dumb Post for January?

A few days ago Erin of Garden Now - Think Later and I were sending back and forth comments pertaining to my recent post on making meat balls. She said that she was going to make Swedish Meat Balls over Noodles for dinner that night and I jokingly said that sounded wonderful, what time was she serving? (Since I invited myself, I volunteered to bring a pie for dessert. How generous was that?) Granted it would have been one heckuva drive for dinner . . . from northern-most Minnesota to the coast of Virgina . . . but it sure sounded good!

She wrote back that I should make it a Rhubarb Pie, please. That got me going. Having a weak mind and being easily programmable (is that a real word?), I started thinking about how very much I LOVE rhubarb. Mmm-mm, love it, love it, love it.

And thinking about rhubarb reminded me of a little book I bought a couple of years ago.

"Life's Little Rhubarb Cookbook: 101 Rhubarb Recipes" written by Joan Bestwick. What a good book!

As you can see, even though I've had the book for some time and have used it a lot, there are still many rhubarb recipes that I've yet to try. Actually, I probably needn't have taken the trouble to mark all the recipes I want to make. I could have just started at the first page and worked my way completely through the book.

So maybe none of us have access to fresh rhubarb in January, but some of you might have some frozen in the freezer. Or perhaps, if you're a rhubarb lover like I am, you'll want to check a copy of this great little book out of the library to see if you like it as much as I do. Then come spring time, you'll be standing over the rhubarb plant just as anxious as I will be for the first stalks to be big enough to use in one of these wonderful recipes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Splendiforous Day

I had a great day yesterday. I took the whole day and spent it in my quilt studio. My husband made me do it.

Our daughter mentioned the other day that we wrecked her life (well, okay she didn't put it exactly in those words) because she was raised by two workaholics. She's right . . . about Roy and me being workaholics and setting a bad example for her!

Not allowing myself to do just what I want to do is something that I'm really battling with at this stage of my life. I don't wanna BE a workaholic anymore To say that it's hard to change a life-long habit is a great, big, fat, ol' understatement.

This is what I had on my list for yesterday and what I felt I needed to get done: Water houseplants, computer clean-up work, balance checkbook with monthly bank statement, order garden seeds, make kombucha, give husband a haircut and beard trim, wash lettuce in refrig, package double batch of Mexican Tortillas I made day before and had put into freezer to quick-freeze, clean out wood stove ashes, clean eggs, and clean house.

Roy insisted I NEEDED to spend the day quilting (hmmm, wonder what he was trying to tell me?), and that I shouldn't even think about doing anything else all day including no meal preparation.

And I did it! Yay for me! And I had a wonderful day. Now I want to do it again. And again. And again. Any volunteers to come live with us and do my list everyday so I can quilt, quilt, quilt until I tire of it? I gotta warn you though, it will be a long, long time before I do.

This gorgeous sunset yesterday was icing on the cake.

The colors are not enhanced one whit. This is what it looked like au naturel. A splendiforous sunset for a splendiforous day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Rant A Day Keeps High Blood Pressure Away

One day last week I went to town to run a few errands. Returning home an hour or so later, I felt lucky to have survived the trip without personal injury.

Our weather has been atrocious lately: a little snow, but more in the way of wind, rain, hail, and sleet.

Conditions have made for a lot of ice, both on the roadways and walking areas. At home here, we're able to keep critical areas shoveled, salted and sanded . . . for the most part anyway. But what the heck has happened around public places in town? When did we lose any sense of personal responsibility for keeping sidewalks, walkways, and entrances clear of snow and ice?

There was recently an article in our local paper explaining what areas of town proper the county is responsible for and what areas the city is responsible for. There is apparently a lack in both departments of enough personnel and financial wherewithal to keep all areas free of snow and ice.

Okay, but don't business owners feel any responsibility to get out and shovel the sidewalks or entrances to their places of business anymore? Is it cheaper to buy liability insurance (in case of customer injury) rather than taking the time to clean away the ice and snow?

Although I'm in the second half century of my life, I'm still in darned good shape. (Well, physically anyway.) I'm not particularly afraid of taking a spill on the ice. My thick German bones seem to bend and bounce without any trouble. But, my gosh, anyone who was a little unsure on their feet or frail or prone to get hurt if they fell wouldn't have been able to navigate in and out of nearly any of the places I went on my town errands.

Lumps and chunks and ruts and ridges of snow and ice on sidewalks, nearly smack up to the doors of places of business. I mean the situation was truly unbelievable. It used to be that the first thing a business owner did before opening in the morning of a winter's day was to go out and shovel, sand and salt the approach to his place of business.

The entry to one public place I went in looked like it had had a very heavy build-up of ice on the sidewalk in front. (Well, I know it must have because there's always been a steady dripping from the roof of the entryway right smack on the sidewalk whenever the temperature is warm enough for melting.) The whole sidewalk area looked like someone had come out with a shovel or ice-breaker-upper thingie and chopped the thick ice into chunks so it wasn't glare ice anymore. AND THEN LEFT ALL THE BROKEN UP ICE CHUNKS LYING THERE! They subsequently refroze and don'tcha think that made for interesting navigating!

I'm sorry, I just don't get it. When did we lose the personal responsibility? We have advanced so far technologically, but common sense and person responsibility are disappearing faster than the speed of sound.

I find that downright disturbing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Picture of a Sick Blog Administrator

If you are a reader of my daughter's blog, you'll know that a couple of days ago she succumbed to one (or maybe several) of the dratted germs that have been floating around.

This was not good (for several reasons but mainly) because for some time now she's had a birthday party planned for her husband for tonight, January 10th. His actual birthday is January 6th, but tonight was the only date that we five couples/families invited could all make it.

Then the ugly-bugglies hit her. Dum-da-dum-dum.

Not willing to admit defeat in her ability to carry on and proceed with the big party (I don't know WHERE she gets her stubbornness), she struggled into town yesterday afternoon to do grocery shopping and also some blog administrative work on my computer that she had promised to do. After I whopped her up side the head for trying to persevere on the party preparations as sick as she was, I felt compelled to knock her flat for thinking I would want her to spend time doing computer work!

What's with the eye patch on that sorry little congested, nose-reddened, stuffed aching head, you ask? Well, the longer she was here, the more her right eye started to bother her. It felt like she had a foreign object under the upper lid. We looked, and looked, washed and washed but couldn't relieve the irritation. She did have a round, swollen little bump on the inside of the lid that could have been caused by some irritation or it could have been the start of a sty which she has been prone to get once in a while. Bottom line, the eye felt much, much better when it was shut so we fitted her out to look like a pirate . . . a pirate with a sinus headache and runny nose.

The above shot was taken after she was all bundled up and ready for the hour's drive home. Her dad had just plied her with a stiff, hot drink guaranteed to make her feel better. Good thing I didn't know exactly what was in it . . . I might not have let her drive. She called when she arrived home safely. I asked how the drive went and she said that she felt like the car kinda kept going "diagonally."

I asked, "You mean because of the ice on the road?"

She said, "No, I think more because of being able to see out of only one eye."

Oh, great. But what's a mother to do? You don't seem to have much control when they're thirty-eight years old.

So are we going to a birthday party tonight? Nope. Sensibility finally set in this morning. As much as she really, really hated cancelling, she had no choice. Early today she knew she was too sick to handle it. I had had a feeling yesterday that she hadn't yet reached the "worstest" day of her sickness, and sadly that proved to be true.

The Birthday Boy will have to wait a little longer for his celebration. He works at a ski resort and has had to work a couple double shifts this past week (wasn't even able to get home two nights . . . had to sleep there) so he probably wasn't in the best of shape for a party this weekend either. But you can bet the celebration will be all the merrier whenever it finally happens.

Send some sympathies and get well wishes to Chicken Mama if you have time. Poor gal is really feeling S-I-C-K.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Living In The Ice Age

I don't know quite how it has happened, but we have an abundance of ice covering all surfaces in yards, walkways, and side roads. The main road in our area (yes, we have only one) is dry and free of ice (thankfully) but the second you turn off onto a side road whether it be in town or out, you find yourself on an ice-covered surface.

Our own quarter-mile long driveway is downright treacherous. Sometimes we have to put the truck into 4-wheel drive to navigate it.

This morning when we walked out to get the mail, Roy took the ash bucket and a shovel to spread ashes on the worst areas.

When tires are trying to move on this stuff, you don't have much control.

On the walk out to the mailbox and back, we keep Zoey on a lead only when we get near the road. So when she's free she typically runs back and forth, forth and back taking in all the good smells where the deer regularly cross the driveway. These days she often falls down - splat! - because she can't get any traction on the ice either. (But don't be worried. It doesn't seem to phase her one bit. She's up in a flash and on with her investigations happy as a dog in the woods could be.)

The worst part of the driveway is right before you get to the main road . . . from the point in the picture above until you have to stop to check both ways before pulling out. Stopping at that point has been very exciting.

Roy started by spreading the bulk of the ashes on the spot where the driveway joins the main road which should now make for much safer pulling out and, of course, turning back in again.

What we really need is several inches of snow to pack down, cover the ice and give us all around safer surfaces to drive on. (And walk on!) It's unlikely that we'll see temperatures anywhere near melting until spring so this ice covering is gonna get real old if we don't get more snow soon!

All of you out there with an excess, we wouldn't mind if you sent some our way.

Friday, January 8, 2010

We Be A-Makin' Da Meat-A Balls Today

When we had the restaurant, we made our meat balls for the spaghetti sauce from scratch. During the summer when it was so busy we had a hard time keeping ahead on the food, we had a gal who came in for two hours every morning (before her regular job, bless her heart) to help us prep for the day. Most days she found "Make Meat Balls" on the list waiting for her. She quickly dubbed herself "The Meat Ball Queen" and actually became quite proud of her nicely shaped, uniformly sized meat balls.

Every now and then I make a batch of those same meat balls and squirrel them away in the freezer. Then I can easily take out how ever many I need for Barbequed Meat Balls, Meat Balls in Gravy, Spaghetti Sauce, etc.

They smell wonderful when cooking and the aroma stayed in my kitchen all day today. Wish I had a gourmet-ish name for them. But they're just:


Soak four slices of dry bread in water for about 2-3 minutes.

With your hands, squeeze out all the water you can from the bread, drop into a mixing bowl and break apart the clumps of wet bread with your fingers.

Then add all the rest of the ingredients into the bowl with the bread.

1 lb. ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients until well blended.
Form balls of approximately 1-1/2 ounces each by rolling a small amount of mixture between your hands.

Place the balls on racks that have been placed on a cookie sheet with a lip.

Bake meat balls in a 500° oven for 20 minutes.

When meat balls finish baking, remove from oven and cool or use immediately.

After they have cooled, freeze any remainders for future use.

Notes: When removing the meat balls from the oven, I take a spatula and loosen the hot meat balls from the racks. Sometimes they tend to settle down into the racks but if you loosen them when they're hot, they come right off.

These meat balls aren't highly seasoned or spicy but you certainly could add whatever "zing" you wanted to them.

I usually do twice this amount at a time (just double everything in the above recipe) but I had a pound of ground beef defrosted that I had planned on using tonight (then had a change of plans) so I made only a one-pound batch this time around.

Getting these meat balls made today was about the only planned project I got accomplished.

I shan't repeat it here, but if you wish to read more of how things have been going lately, go over to my quilting blog where I'm afraid I went on and on about the little struggles and diffooculties we've been battling lately.

One other thing I did do was to make it to the library today so now I'm going to go take a hot shower, throw an extra quilt on the bed, and snuggle down with a new book.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"I'm Back," She Says With Her Fingers Crossed

I now know for sure that I love my blogging. I now know for sure that I feel absolutely discomboobulated without my computer . . . and my blogging . . . and many other computer related things.

Being fairly organized and having my own little routine has always been important to me. And like it or lump it, being organized these days relates directly to having the use of one's own computer . . . for more things than I truly realized until this past week when I've been computer-deprived. I've sort of felt like I was going through my days with one arm tied behind my back, navigating by hopping on one leg, and not being able to adequately communicate.

Now that I'm back up and running on all four computer cylinders again (with a heavily medicated hard drive), I'm facing a mountain of catch-up. Where should I start? Getting the "personal" stuff done that keeps the household running or the "fun" stuff like this personal blog or buckling down to the "work" that I had scheduled for the first of the year for my baby quilt Internet business?

This week has also shown me how very much I use word processing. I sure didn't remember that it took so long to write anything out by hand compared to typing it on my computer. I'm sure I can compose, rewrite and print out a whole typewritten page in about one-tenth of the time it takes with paper and pencil! Matter of fact, I found the task so laboriously slow that I quickly gave up and started plastering sticky notes all over my desk area pertaining to thoughts, ideas, recipes, people to contact, research to do, etc., etc. when I had word processing once again at my fingertips.

Because we thought the first trip to the PC doctor's office and back had fixed the entire problem, and then I quickly crashed and burned again, I have to admit I'm still feeling a l-i-t-t-l-e shaky every time I turn on the computer or go to a different function. My dear husband has been subtly (ahem) suggesting to me for ever-so-long that because of all I use my computer for these days I really should have a back-up sitting at the ready. Some of us are slower learners than others, but I think this may have taught me a lesson.

My computer is old, my hard drive is tired, and although it's been propped up for the moment, a new computer for me is looming on the horizon along with, yes, a back-up of some sort also.

I think I'll just blithely block this last week out of my mind now and jump back into the fray. I may even manage to get an interesting post up tomorrow.

So good to be back!

P.S. Thanks to that sneaky, little daughter of mine for letting you all know what's been going on . . . and for posting that "blast from the past" picture with us both looking a wee bit younger than we do today!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When Technology Goes Belly-Up

Mama Pea's daughter / web administrator here.

Mom's computer went belly-up last week, and I soon discovered that the required repair was far beyond my capabilities. So, off it went to the PC doctor.

The old beast came home late yesterday (the computer, that is, not Mama Pea!), and she tried to catch up for a couple of hours last night . . . planning to return to posting today.

Unfortunately, with the cold dawn this morning came the same problems, and so your favorite blogger is out of commission yet again.

She's tearing her hair out in frustration, so I KNOW she'll be back here just as soon as humanly (technologically!) possible.

Until then, since The Power is in MY hands (insert slightly maniacal laughter), I'll leave you with this:

Chicken Mama & Mama Pea, circa 1972

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's A Wrap

Not only is it a wrap, but it is wrapped!

I've decided to give this little cardigan sweater to the Bundle of Joy at the shower tomorrow. I know there's nothing wrong with it other than the fact that I had it stuck in my mind that it would be . . . well, smaller.

But as others have commented, the larger it turned out, the longer she'll be able to wear it.

This is the back view. A super-simple little sweater to knit. Knit from the top down so there were no seams to sew to complete. Love that about it! Putting the pieces of a knitted garment together is not my favorite part. I've got this irrational fear of the whole thing falling apart the first time it's washed. When I have ends to weave in, I do so with about four feet of yarn so they're sure not to come undone. (Hmmm, Dr. Freud, vat do you tink about dis insecurity issue?)

The end.

Friday, January 1, 2010

You Have The Choice

Last week I had the pleasure of being in the company of an elderly lady whom I can't help but admire.

Her soul mate, her life-long partner, her husband died about two years ago. Immediately thereafter she started having some serious health problems. (An incoincidental happening, in my mind.) She went through a rough period. Withdrawing. And curtailing the full life she had always enjoyed.

Long story short, there ensued a less than pleasant period in her life for her to work through.

It was evident during our recent visit that her strong spirit has rallied and her delightful personality has reappeared. Her beautiful snow-white hair was coiffed, her facial make-up was very attractive, her elegant red cardigan sweater matched her skillfully applied bright red lipstick. She was sharp as the proverbial tack and a cheery addition to the gathering. Her zest for life was back.

During our conversation she said, "Every morning when I wake up, I sit on the edge of the bed and ask myself if I would rather be happy or sad today. Do you know," she said, "that's a choice I have every day. And I choose to be happy."

Bless you, K! In making the choice you do, you broadcast joy and happiness into so many other lives.

Lesson learned: Keep wearin' that bright red lipstick!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone. I have a feeling 2010 is going to be a good one!