Monday, October 31, 2011

Eight Hours and 11,397 Apples Later . . .

I decided last night that today was to be The Great Applesauce Making Day . . . finally.

'Twas just me and my audio book and we gave it a good shot.

Amazing that after spending the whole day, there are only eleven quarts of canned applesauce lined up on the counter.

Know what that means? It means I'm gonna have to spend two more full days at this little task in order to have enough quarts put by for this year.

I'm not complaining. Today was a dismal, damp, gray day not conducive to outside chores, I had a small cozy fire crackling in the wood stove and the cooking apple aroma in the house was heavenly. I could think of a lot (A LOT!) worse ways to spend the next couple of days. So bring on those apples, I'll be ready for another go-round tomorrow!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Processing Caviar Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Or at least detrimental to your lower back.

Chicken Mama worked a short shift in the roe house this morning processing roe (caviar). Since there was no more work to do in the afternoon (the waters, like our temperatures, have been unseasonably warm which is affecting the spawning of the fish), she went to her office in town to put on her other hat and get some work done there.

But very quickly while sitting in her hard desk chair, her back rebelled against the hours she's been spending bent over picking/sorting, washing/cleaning, salting and packing in the roe house and muscle spasms started.

She tried lying on the floor of her office but since that didn't help decided to make the trip to our house to seek relief and a heating pad.

So here she is stretched out on our kitchen floor with heating pad and pillow on the offending muscles. Her ministrations helped because she was out the door and back to her office within the hour. She took the heating pad with her though.

Who knew all the suffering that goes into your caviar served on toast points?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An Unplanned Day

Despite the fact that we are creeping very close to the first of November, we have been having some wonderful end-of-autumn days here in NE Minnesota.

We've been blessed again this year with a long fall. I think we're gonna have to be careful that we aren't lulled into thinking winter is going to be a snap without involving any ice, sleet, snow or other stuff that makes for hazardous driving and/or using muscles that have been resting since frozen hands last gripped snow shovels, roof rakes and the controls of a vehicle with a large snowplow hooked on the front of it.

I had plans for this glorious day. It was to start with cookie baking and then trying to finish up the last of the outside yard/garden work.

Didn't happen. At 10:05 this morning after an hour of rushing around gathering needed materials and our wits, we were out the door on an errand that kept us away from home until 7:15 tonight. No problem. It's good to remember how to roll with the punches and be jarred out of our routine every now and then.

My tired body is now wrapped in a long flannel nightgown and quilted robe and I'm sure it won't be long before the Sandman sends me off into dreamland.

I'll close with this calming picture I took early one morning a day or so ago. I walked down the driveway to see if I could get a picture of the frost coating everything including each blade of grass in our small hay field. I didn't succeed in doing that, but as I passed by the pond, the ducks and geese made a beeline over to me because, after all, a two-legged creature means food, right?

"Grain? You have grain for us?" I could almost hear them saying as they swam to my side of the pond.

We've currently got about 20 wild Mallards staying on our Bed and Breakfast Pond in preparation for their flight south. Our grumpity Mother and Father Goose tolerate them well in the water but when the Mallards come up into the poultry yard looking for food, the geese tell them in no uncertain terms that they are encroaching on their territory. Inhospitable big buggers.

I'm off to crawl between the flannel sheets now and will hope for another beautiful day tomorrow so I can spend most of it outside doing what needs to be done. Hope you have a great day, too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

After reading Carolyn Renee's post this morning over at Krazo Acres, I decided I had to get busy and make a decision of a pattern for an apron to make for Susan's (E-i-e-i-omg!) Great Apron Sew-Off that she's roping us all into.

The gals are giving me credit for getting the ball rolling on this whoop-dee-do affair but all I said was that maybe we should all make an apron sometime this winter (you know, when things slow down and we're all looking for something to do . . . big fat HA!) and then post (and WEAR in the kitchen so we stop ruining clothes) pictures of our aprons.

Well, Susan is a gal who takes bulls (or sheep as she has sheep but no bulls) by the horns and gets things done while I'm sitting on my rusty-duster . . . um, uh, er . . . thinking.

So here are my patterns I need to choose from.

I made this one a couple of years ago and really like it. It's comfy and easy to wear. My daughter says I look pregnant in it. The only disadvantage of it is that the tie in the back is so high that I can't tie it myself, but have to go seek help. Nope, on second thought, I won't make this one again. I want to do something different.

The cat pocket shown on this one would definitely not appear on the one I would make. I do like the old-fashioned style of the apron though.

This looks comfortable and I love the styles from the '40s.

I've saved this pattern from many years ago. (It's probably older than most of you reading this.) I like both the red and yellow styles.

Well, at least I've gotten this far. How much longer will I dawdle over choosing the pattern? Oh, horse feathers! THEN I've got to choose some fabric. What have I gotten into???

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We Have a Winnah!

I put the names of all of you who were interested in receiving my ready-to-pass-along copy of "Perfect Fruit Pies" in a pie plate . . .

. . . blindfolded my husband (not really, I just made sure he closed his eyes) and asked him to pick out a slip of paper.

Congratulations, Cr! If you will use the "Contact" button over on my right-hand side bar to send me your mailing address, I'll get the book winging its way to you asap.

Thanks to all of you for playing along with this giveaway. There are more cook books to be offered as I plow through the stack of them that I'm not sure I need to keep.

After reading your comments stating your personal favorite pie, methinks several of you are pieoholics just like me! Set a pie, any pie, in front of us and we're happy.

The most unusual pies mentioned (unusual to me, anyway) were Karen L.'s Pineapple Cheese Pie and Mama Tea's Tears on My Pillow pie which she describes as Pecan Pie without the pecans. (Hmmm, I need to think about that one for a while.)

Thanks again for entering your names, Everybody.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

He Drove 300 Hundred Miles For My Pie

Truth be told, that's a little exaggeration.

When we had the restaurant, I made pies as a dessert and one of the pies was Burgundy Berry which had a filling of combined blueberries and cranberries.

There was a really nice guy who had been raised in our little town but at that time lived about three hundred miles away. His mother still lived in our town though.

He and his mom came in to the restaurant to eat frequently when he visited her, and his favorite pie was Burgundy Berry. When he made the drive up to visit for a couple of days, he would call as soon as he got into town to see if I had Burgundy Berry on the menu that day. If I did he would ask that I save a piece for him when they came in later. If I hadn't made a Burgundy Berry that day, he would politely ask if I would make it one of the days during this visit which I was glad to do. Sometimes he would even request I make a whole Burgundy Berry Pie he could take back home with him. Ya gotta love customers like that.

This past weekend I got to thinking that I hadn't made a Burgundy Berry Pie for some time, so dug out the recipe and made it on Monday. Tasted purdy darn good, too. Here's the recipe if you're interested.


1 cup sugar (or 1-1/4 cups depending on the sweetness of the blueberries)
2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1-1/2 cups cranberries, cut in half (fresh or frozen)

Combine sugar, tapioca and salt. Stir into mixed berries. Put into pastry lined pie plate. Top with a lattice crust. (This particular pie filling seems to come out too juicy if covered with a whole top crust.)

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temp to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. To make a slice totally delectable, serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Still tolerable . . . even without ice cream.

P.S. Yet more proof of why I should stick to pies . . .

Made this cake this morning and had . . . um, a little trouble inverting it onto the cooling rack. You shoulda seen the mess BEFORE I cleaned it up and shoveled it back onto the racks. Sigh.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Let's Bake Some Pies!

Fall is the perfect season for baking pies. We've got more time to spend in the kitchen and it's even cool enough to light the oven again.

I'm still plodding my way through cook books that have become lonely on my shelf because of lack of use. So here's another really nice book that needs to find a new home.

It's a Story Publishing Book titled "Perfect Fruit Pies." Once again, it's got a few of my scribbled notes inside on recipes I've tried. In looking through it again this weekend, I found four or five recipes that I've just got to try yet so I made copies of them, but am ready to send the book off to one of you who would like to have it.

Just leave a comment saying you'd like your name to be put in the drawing. And how about mentioning what YOUR favorite pie is? It will be fun to see if we each have a different favorite or if one pie gets most of the votes.

I'll draw the winner out of a pie plate this coming Wednesday night and announce the winner Thursday morning.

Happy pie baking!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Itinerant Workers

Okay, so only "itinerant" in the sense that we traveled to the front yard to make like apple pickers.

Last Wednesday afternoon (or was it Thursday?) we decided that, ready or not, we needed to harvest our apples. A hard frost was forecast for that night and we didn't want to chance losing the whole crop. (We had a temp of 26 degrees the next morning so it did get right down there.)

A couple of the varieties tasted ripe, but more of them didn't. Too bad, the time had come for all good apples to come inside to cold storage where Jack Frost couldn't find them.

Papa Pea, exhibiting the ever-adventuresome spirit he has, decided to leave a few apples on some of the trees we thought might need more time to ripen. He checked them out after the frost and they seem none the worse for their chilly experience. Since the apple trees still have virtually all their leaves yet, I wonder if the fruit was protected a bit by same?

This is just part of our harvest, but for a wonky growing season just past, we're thankful for all we get from the trees.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another Kitchen Arrangement?

Not only am I having trouble finding what I want in my new kitchen cabinet arrangement, sometimes I even have trouble finding the refrigerator.

We had to move the refrigerator again (hopefully for the last time?) so I could paint the expanded and reinstalled cabinets B delivered yesterday.

With luck, once I get the last coat of paint on later today the cabinets will be done, done, done. I've gotten the second coat of poly on the doors already so they will be all set to be hung once the cabinet frames are ready.

I'm getting there! (And I think I'm getting used to working with a refrigerator in the middle of the kitchen.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Friendly Four-Legged Visitor

A couple of weeks ago Papa Pea went out to close up the critters for the night. As he was finishing, he noticed a young buck deer standing outside the fenced in area.

Seeing deer around our place is not unusual. At certain times of the year they are so prevalent that we can't drive in or out of our driveway through the woods without encountering a deer or often times three or four together.

We don't feed the deer (as many people in our area do) because we don't want them to become dependent on us. Also, we'd just as soon they didn't get used to coming close to our house and buildings because they will destroy just about any vegetation we humans (who have invaded their territory!) plant.

What was unusual about this little buck the night Papa Pea first saw him was that he wasn't skittish as deer most often are and he didn't turn and run when he saw this big guy walking across the yard not far from him.

Matter of fact, the deer started walking toward Papa Pea, came right up to him . . .

. . . and stuck his head in the grain bucket. This was obviously a deer that someone had trained to eat from their hand . . .

. . . which is exactly what he did when offered a handful of grain by Papa Pea. (What was that I said about us not feeding the deer?)

Our friendly deer has shown up two or three more times but up until last night, it's always been too dark for me to get any pictures.

Last night hubby stuck his head in the door and told me to come out with my camera. I was in luck in that I had nearly enough light and was able to get these included pictures of our new friend.

Finally Papa Pea told him he thought he'd had enough to eat, gave him a pat on the neck and the deer turned to walk off into the woods.

The sad thing we're thinking about is that hunting season is coming up soon and I don't think the little guy stands a chance because he'll probably walk right up to the first hunter he encounters and he'll be a goner. Maybe that's another good reason not to feed or tame deer around here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Family Reading Night

Last night we three gathered (in our very unfinished to-be living room) for our once a month family reading night. Prior to our get together, each of us picks out something that we would like to read aloud and share. Then one person reads while the other two either sit and listen or do some handwork while listening.

Papa Pea tends to choose articles that he's come across in the previous month that he finds interesting.

What did he share last night? 1) Mourning the Passing of Common Sense, 2) Can Bacteria Think?, and 3) Four Personal Finance Principals That Would Make Your Grandfather Proud. All interesting and containing much food for thought. (Maybe even more than I was up for at the end of a busy day.)

Chicken Mama took advantage of Papa Pea's reading to do some hand work. Here she's creating the tail/tassel for a crocheted hat she finished last night.

Her choice of reading to share was selections from "Once Upon An Isle - The Story of Fishing Families on Isle Royale" with Paintings and Companion Stories by Howard Sivertson. These days we surely have no reason to complain about hard work or having difficulty making ends meet. Those hardy folks literally risked their lives daily fishing on Lake Superior trying to eke out a meager living while living far, far from civilization without any of the conveniences we all have today.

A fascinating book with gorgeous illustrations.

Even though I may look half asleep in this shot, I was wide awake and listening. Or maybe I was thinking. Or maybe I was half asleep.

What did I read last night? I started reading "The Thanksgiving Visitor" by Truman Capote. I thought it was appropriate for the upcoming season and I'll continue on with it on our reading night next month.

Sometimes it's hard to find an evening for the three of us to sit down together but I, for one, am very glad that we've managed to keep this new family tradition going for several months now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm In The Mood For . . . Pie

But then, what's new? I'm always in the mood for pie. It was Jennifer Jo's post today over at Mama's Minutia that got me thinking about a post I wrote a couple of months ago and then (apparently) forgot about.

When I first started pie baking, I had a terrible (TERRIBLE!) time baking an empty pie shell. You know, when you make a pie like Lemon Meringue or Banana Cream or an ice cream pie or one that requires the filling to be cooked separately and then poured into a baked pie shell?

My shells would always either form a huge bubble in the middle resembling Mount Vesuvius or the sides would crumple and fall down to the bottom of the pie plate. But I finally read enough tips on how to keep mishaps like that from happening and I no longer have to bake two or three or more shells to get one that is presentable.

Here's a sure-fire way of making a perfect baked empty pie shell.

Heat your oven to 425 degrees. Place one of your oven racks in the lower third of the oven.

Prepare your single crust and place it in a pie plate. (I've found that a glass pie plate is best as opposed to a metal one. Don't know why, but I've had this proven over and over.) When you crimp the edge, make sure your crimping comes up over the top lip of the pie plate and kind of "hangs on." Next take a table fork and prick the bottom and sides of the crust. This enables any steam to escape and keeps the crust from bubbling up.

Then take a piece of foil and place it shiny side down over the prepared crust molding the foil flat across the bottom and up the sides of the crust.

Take about two cups of any dried bean and spread them evenly over the foil on the crust in the bottom of the plate. (I have been using the same two cups of baby lima beans for y-e-a-r-s now.)

Place prepared crust (with foil and beans) in oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and lift off the foil with beans in it.

Turn your oven down to 375 degrees, place pie crust in plate back in the oven (without foil and beans) and continue baking about 10 minutes more or until the pastry looks golden brown. (Often times the bottom of the crust will start to get too brown before the sides so watch carefully.)

Remove pie plate from oven and cool on a wire rack and proceed with filling of your choice. Banana Cream sounds good to me right now. How 'bout you?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What A Difference Doors Make

I've been living with no doors on my kitchen cabinets for so long that I was beginning to like the convenience of it. But now that the doors have finally been hung, I'm thrilled with the look of them and will put up with the "hassle" of opening a door every time I need to get in a cabinet!

Our carpenter friend, B, called yesterday morning saying her scheduled job for the day was cancelled because of the rain so she would come hang the cabinet doors if we wanted. Did we want? For sure!

I am totally, absolutely delighted with the way they look. Could not be more pleased.

The empty space you see in the picture above to the left of the stove is where I previously had room for only a narrow 9" wide cabinet both up and down. In the remodel, we've moved the refrigerator over to the left which leaves room for 12" (inside measurement) cabinets which will be much more usable. So when B left yesterday, she took both cabinets to re-use what materials she can, add some new materials, bring them back, take down the upper cabinet above the refrigerator, and fasten the two uppers together. Then I can paint the whole unit plus the lower enlarged cabinet, they can be put in place and the doors (which are all set and ready) can be hung on those final three cabinets and that part of the kitchen remodel can be crossed off the list. Whew!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Good Homemade Dressing

I think the last time I had a store bought salad dressing in the house, it sat in the refrigerator for about a year before it finally made the final walk to the compost pile. It was so unflavorful nobody wanted to eat it. It was so expensive I didn't want to throw it out.

Making my own salad dressings is another step that adds to my time in the kitchen, but as far as I'm concerned, it's the only healthy, nutritious and delicious way to get salad dressing. So, that's why I choose to do it.

I've been making this Thousand Island Dressing for umpteen years. I have no idea where I got the recipe in the first place. It's Papa Pea's favorite so it makes an appearance on our table frequently.

It was kind of a mini celebration to make it today as it requires one hard-boiled egg. We have been suffering deep egg deprivation lately. But, just this past week, our older chickens have finally ended their strike, and our new pullets have started to lay. Yippee and wa-hoo, we once again have enough eggs to eat them regularly for breakfast and to splurge (how decadent) on a hard-boiled one for this dressing. Life is good.


1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chili sauce (or ketchup)
2 tablespoons minced ripe olives
1 tablespoon chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 chopped hard-boiled egg
2 teaspoons chopped parsley (using 1/2-1 teaspoon dried is fine)

Combine and mix all ingredients. Store dressing covered in the refrigerator.

If you get a chance to make it, I hope you like it as much as we do.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jane Is Getting A New Cook Book!

There! No more unbearable suspense of who gets the cookie cook book I offered in my blog post of last Wednesday. Now you all can go back to the really important things you need to do today.

Thank you all very much for entering your name for the drawing but Jane of
Hard Work Homestead was the name that was drawn from the bunch of them last night. It was such fun to read the varied and interesting stories of how you all met your mates! Jane, I'll either get the book to the post office today or on Monday for sure.

I'm being diligent about finding time here and there to go through the pile of cook books that are in the "To Be Sorted - I Really Don't Need This Many" stack so there will be more offered in the near future. Thanks again, everyone, for participating.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Painting Outside The Window

We had a lovely, steady drizzling rain all day today.

I took this picture from inside the kitchen this afternoon looking outside at the maple tree planted close to the house. You can see a pumpkin or two sitting in the window box.

The colors right outside the window don't look real to me. Almost as though they are painted on the panes of glass.

Even though Papa Pea and I both had full days today, I think the wet, gray weather made us slow down a bit. Or maybe just switch to a slower gear since we were inside most of the day.

I paid (what felt like) a dozen bills, baked Gingersnap Cookies and a pan of Apricot Bars after coming home from a dental appointment and stop at our organic co-op where my quick zip through turned into a 45 minute affair because of everyone I saw and chatted with. It was comical that nearly everyone said some version of, "Isn't this a gorgeous day!" when it was raining and we were all walking around in dripping rain gear. Obviously it meant everyone was very grateful for the rain after our very dry spell.

I just went out to check the rain gauge which shows we got slightly under 1-1/2" of rain. Every drop very welcomed. I hope our mud puddle of a pond has lots of water from the hills behind us flowing into it tonight. The wild Mallards and our geese will be happy to have their water freshened up.

While checking the rain gauge out on our front deck, I felt the stiff breeze that we heard come up an hour or so ago. Even in the shadows from the deck light I could see the maple tree in the picture above has lost about half the leaves it had when I took the picture a few hours ago. A rain/wind storm always signals the end of our beautiful fall foliage. But the color display lasted longer than usual this year to make it halfway through October. It has been a nice fall!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Great Cook Book Giveaway Begins

The sorting of my way-too-many cook books has started. Here's the first book I'm offering as a giveaway to anyone who might be interested.

It's a little 8" x 8" hardbound book entitled "Country Cookies - An Old-Fashioned Collection." There are a couple of marks and notations within as I have the (bad?) habit of making notes when I try a recipe.

The above is a shot of the back of the book.

It was written by Lisa Yockelson who also wrote "Country Pies" and "Country Cakes."

Just to make this a little interesting, if you would like a chance to receive this book, leave a comment saying so and also add where you first met your spouse or partner. (This could be your first or your third or your ex, for that matter.) I'll go first: I met my husband in an extremely hot (humid and muggy), dark and crowded (probably 300 people smooshed in the ballroom) dance at college. He tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to dance. Neither of us had ever seen the other before. Less than a year later we were married.

I'll draw a name out of a hat Friday (the 14th) when I'm shutting down for the night and announce the winner Saturday morning. Come on, don't be shy. Even if you've never commented on my blog before, go for it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Think About It

We traveled to the big city yet again yesterday for some errands and an eye exam for me. (I was given a Gold Star as my eyeballs and related apparatus ranked super-healthy and haven't changed [read: deteriorated] one whit since three years ago, thank you very much.)

Our optometrist, Dr. T, is a warm, funny, talkative gal with a high degree of intelligence and easy laugh. She also has a quirky fascination for numbers which she sheepishly claims to have had all of her life.

During my exam, looking at my chart, she commented that she and I have a special numerical bond this year.

"How so?" I queried?

"Well," Dr. T explained with a grin on her face. "You were born in '43 and are now 68. I was born in '68 and am now 43."

Oh-kay. I needed a moment or two to ponder that. (Who the heck would ever have even thought of that?)

Later, after hubby returned from running errands while I had my appointment, I told him of my "numbers" conversation with Dr. T. He, too, took a minute to process that birth date/age information . . . and then I could see it visibly on his face as his mind traveled to another thought.

"Wait, she was BORN in '68?! I was through college and out working and we had been married for 5 years in '68!" (Time sure does fly when you're having fun.)

We, obviously, had never thought of our capable optometrist as young enough to be our daughter. (Or was it that we were old enough to be her parents?) Which brings up the point, at what age does chronological age cease to matter or enter into the big picture of friendships and/or relationships?

And . . . is it okay that I ordered new glass frames even though I didn't need to have my prescription changed?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

With A Little Help From My Daughter

Last night Chicken Mama brought over the labels for my spice jars she had printed up. Sure am glad she volunteered to make them for me. They're one heckuva lot classier than the simple names I would have printed out and taped onto the jars.

Here's the dear girl set up cutting the labels to just the right size.

I stuck the labels on the jars and covered each label with a strip of Contact paper so it would stay in better condition for a longer time in case I grab a jar with a wet or sticky hand while cooking. (Bound to happen in my kitchen.)

I love the pinecone motif on the labels.

This afternoon I filled all the jars and arranged them on the shelves in what I think will be the most convenient spots. I still have room for three more jars so I'll have Chicken Mama print up three more labels for spices I don't use a lot but will still enjoy having in the rack.

Sure is fun getting these little things done in the kitchen. Oh! I finally sorted through all my cook books yesterday afternoon. I have to be honest and admit there are almost half of them that I haven't used in years. I've designated Thursday nights for the next few months to concentrate on looking through the neglected books and deciding if I should really hang on to them or give them away.