Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cherry Muffins

I found the pictures of these Cherry Muffins in my camera tonight and realized I'd never shared the recipe here on the blog.

It was in November of 2000 (according to the notation on my recipe card) that I first made them.  Along with the date I wrote, "Super good muffins!!"   I've made them a few times in the last twelve years but not nearly as often as I perhaps should have.  (Maybe I have too many recipes?)

Anywho, I made them a week or so ago and they were pronounced PDG (Pretty Darn Good) by all who sampled them.

They would be wonderful for a Sunday Brunch or with a cuppa coffee at  afternoon break.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups fresh, frozen or canned pitted tart red cherries, drained


1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 to 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

In mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In another bowl, combine eggs, milk, butter and almond extract.

Add to flour mixture all at once and stir just until moistened.  Gently fold in cherries.

Spoon into well-greased muffin tins.

Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool a few minutes before removing muffins to a rack.  Yields 12 muffins.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Since the month of February starts tomorrow (eeek, how did that happen already?) and February is National Cherry Month (according to the Cherry Marketing Institute), why not give these a try in the next couple of weeks?

For All You Cookers Out There

Today two little cook books are up for grabs.

One is 111 pages and is in kind of a magazine form.  It's "Selected Health Recipes from The Saturday Evening Post Family Cookbook."  (How's that for a mouth full?)  A blurb on the bottom of the cover says:

"Delicious new high-fiber diet recipes.
How to prepare tasty meals
with less salt, and retain maximum
vitamins while cooking for better health."

There's one written notation I made by one of the recipes inside the book, but otherwise it's in great shape.

The other book, as part of this twosome offering, is "Cooking with Soup."  It contains 608 recipes, each having a can of Campbell's soup as one of the ingredients.  

For instance, the recipe for Spaghetti Southern Style has a can of tomato soup in it.  The Bacon 'N Bean Dip has a can of bean with bacon soup in the list of ingredients.   Creamed Chicken has a can of cream of chicken soup as in ingredient.  (Well, that makes sense, huh?)  It's an attractively done little book with nice illustrations.

If you're looking for some new recipes to jazz up your winter menus, it might be fun to look through these two books.  Anybody interested in receiving them?

Just be the first to comment to that effect and I'll send them to you. 

Addendum:  The two cook books have been spoken for!  Thanks!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Two Books To Give Away!

Come and get 'em, whoever wants 'em!

Do you have a friend or family member who's expecting?  Are you fond of making baby quilts for charity?  Perhaps you know a quilter you would like to give these books to?

If you would like to receive these two nice books, be the first one to leave a comment saying so.

They're both put out by That Patchwork Place and were written by Ursula Reikes.  One is Quilts for Baby, Easy as ABC (forty-seven pages) and the second is More Quilts for Baby, Easy as ABC (eighty pages).  They're both soft cover books.

The patterns in each of these books are fairly easy and go together quickly.

So if you have an interest in receiving these two books (it's a two-fer deal today) be the first to leave a comment and I'll send them off to you.

* * * * * * * *

If you still don't understand what the heck is going on here, please read my post (below) of earlier this morning.

Communication Is A Tough Thing

And evidently I'm not a good communicator!

The picture I included with yesterday's post was of a whole batch of books and patterns I had planned to offer up individually on separate days in separate posts for anyone who might be interested.

I didn't mean to inflict the whole bunch on any one person as I'm sure there are items in there that everyone isn't interested in.  Nor did I mean to offer up (in yesterday's post) any of the items shown.

In other words, I wouldn't send the whole assortment to the first person who commented but rather post a picture and description in a blog post each day (for the next couple/few/several days) of something I had picked FROM that pile of materials.

The picture of the whole pile was only to give you a teaser peek at the materials I would be offering as individual give-a-way items on separate days.

Clear as mud now?  

Both my daughter and hubby said they read yesterday's post and totally understood how the way I presented the give-a-way was confusing at best, and most likely misleading.  (Sigh.)  Guess this is a good illustration of how the written word (or spoken word sometimes) can be misinterpreted!  My idea and method was totally clear in my head (rattle-rattle), but very apparently not so to others.

I hope this has cleared things up now and not made it more confusing. 

I'm now going to go mainline some caffeine . . . and return to post the individual give-a-way for today.

P.S. to Tombstone Livestock - If you noticed the comment from my daughter (who quickly absconded with the copy of "Sheepish" last night), she said she would return it if she found the copy I thought she already had.  She did find her copy (mother is always right!) so I do have the extra copy to give away.  I'll be more than glad to send it on to you.  Please go to the "Contact Me" button on my right hand sidebar and zap me an email with your mailing address, okay?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm Hoping This Will Work . . .

There is an assortment of books and pattern folders I have that I'd like to pass on to someone else who can use them.

This group that I have gathered so far (we're still in the midst of going through all our books and reorganizing them) is craft books, a couple of cook books, quilting books and some really old (from the 60s and 70s) knitting books.  Maybe a gardening book or two thrown in the stack, too.  Even a copy of "Sheepish" by Catherine Friend.  (I found I had two.)

What I'm thinking of doing rather than having a drawing of a name from those of you who comment you would be interested in one of the books, for instance, is to post a picture and description of an item (or couple of items) each day on my blog and then the first person who says they would like to receive it, gets it.  Simple as that.  That way I can move these items along more quickly and get them on to a new home.  Will that work?  Let's give it a try starting tomorrow and see how it goes.  Be sure to check in.  You never know what might be up for grabs!

* * * * * * * *

Papa Pea and I worked all day again today on sorting the books.  We have taken books from every single shelf, bookcase and packed away box and spread them in piles by category all over the house.  It now looks like we have more of a mess than ever.

My dear hubby refused to work on the project any more after dinner tonight (I never should have let him sit down and eat), but he did promise that he thinks we can have everything re-shelved and put away in a proper place by the end of the day tomorrow.  What a job this has been.  And what a relief it will be to have chairs, sofa, end tables, kitchen table, counters and floor space available to use in a normal manner again.

* * * * * * * *

Talk about the crazy ups and downs, highs and lows of the weather this winter.  We were warned of freezing rain today followed by 5-7" of snow.  The temperature has remained at 33 degrees nearly constantly since 3 a.m. this morning.  (Ask me how I know.)  But no rain, no freezing drizzle, no snow.  Sure feels a lot different than the sub-sub-sub-zero temperatures we had last week.  I'm betting some of our not-so-deep snow cover even melted today.  Geesh, you sure can't count on anything this winter.  We're learning to operate each day on "what you see is what you get."

* * * * * * * *

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow to see what's up for give-a-way!

Monday, January 28, 2013

What Have We Done?

For more years than you can count on two hands, we've been saying we MUST sort through our nearly fifty years' accumulation of books and pare down the numbers.

During the past year of remodeling our kitchen and living room, we had to pull books off the shelves and pack them away in boxes.  Some of the books were put back on shelves as we constructed them, but not in much of any rhyme or reason order.

We've still got all the books on the shelves over the three double windows in the kitchen and about five boxes that have been packed away since we moved here (going on sixteen years ago) to sort into stacks.

Oh, and I just remembered the small book shelf area in the bathroom to bring out to the sorting areas, too.

As soon as we have ALL the books initially sorted through, we'll work on categorizing them on shelves and in bookcases thinking that (duh!) we might then be able to actually find a book when we're looking for it.

The plan is to get rid of ones we no longer want to keep.  Yep, we're going to be ruthless in paring down the number of books we have.  Wish us luck on that because have you noticed it's hard to get rid of a book you've lived with for so long?  It's going to be harder on my dear husband because he's definitely more of a "but there might be some information in that book that we'll need sometime" thinker than I am.

This morning we ate breakfast standing at the kitchen counter because . . . well, the table was full of books.  It's still full of books.  Maybe more books even than this morning.

Good grief, what have we gotten ourselves into?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Soup - Mexican Style

Even though this new soup isn't pefected, I'm going to share it with you anyway.  (Otherwise, I would be blogging about Soupless Sunday.)  You can take it from here and do with it what you will.

I think I'd call this a cross between a soup and a stew as the broth ends up on the thick side.  I made it for the first time yesterday and will make some adjustments when I try it again.  

Usually if a recipe doesn't rate four stars the first time I make it, I don't bother trying to fix it.  But this one was tasty enough (and I knew exactly what to do to improve it) that I'll keep it for a second go-round.  Besides, even though it's meatless (gasp), Papa Pea really, really liked it!

The following recipe includes the changes that I think will make it great.  The original recipe was found in a Taste of Home cook book which yields good, down-home cookin' more than any other source I've found.


1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup carrots, cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups of cooked white beans
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup chunky salsa
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

In a soup pot, melt the butter and saute the onion and carrots for about 5-10 minutes over a low/medium heat, stirring often.

Stir in the cooked beans, chicken broth and salsa.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes.

For the dumplings, in a small bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the milk and cheese just until moistened.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the simmering soup.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  (Avoid lifting cover while simmering the dumplings.)

Yields 4 servings.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My Notes:

~ Be sure to cut your carrots into small chunks (a medium dice?) so they cook enough.  I sliced the carrots yesterday and they didn't cook as much as I wanted.

~ I used a medium hot salsa which was too hot for me although my hubby thought it was just fine.  Next time I'll definitely use a milder salsa.

~ I used navy beans that I precooked from dry beans.  You could definitely use canned beans but I truly think the flavor of beans you cook yourself is far superior to purchased canned ones.  (Also much cheaper.)  Other beans would be tasty, too.  What about pinto beans?  Cannellini beans?  Kidney beans?  Even black beans although they would change the color of the soup.

~ If you would prefer the end product to be more of a soup than stew, why not just add more chicken broth?  That should work.

~ The cornmeal dumplings are very nice.  You could even try increasing the two tablespoons of cornmeal while decreasing the flour for them.

~ Even though it really is fine being meatless, I know bits of pork or ham would be excellent in it.  Also browned ground beef or leftover pot roast would make your meat-eater happy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So this is the end of Sunday Soups?  (It just illustrates how quickly the month of January flew by.)  Anyone have any interest in continuing this little exercise with another food for the month of February?  Dishes using eggs?  Salads?  Vegetarian dishes?  Pies?  (Oh, that could be dangerous!)  Breads?  Pasta dishes?  Anything else your little culinary heart desires?    

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I Love This Sign

This sign was in a stack that Chicken Mama was packing for storage during her move.  I've always like it and asked if I could "store" it at our house for a while.

I've hung it inside our entry porch next to the door that leads into the house proper.

In case you can't read it easily in the above picture, it says:

There is close to enough snow in the woods now to warrant us using snowshoes to make the hike around our back loop.  Only 30% chance of more snow today, but we'll take all we can get!

Friday, January 25, 2013

A New Day and A Blanket of Welcome Snow

Our temperature has risen to 13 degrees above zero and it's snowing!

It's just starting to get light outside now and I'm hoping the snow keeps on so we can watch it fall today.

Looks like we may have about 4-5" of new snow so far.  The falling flakes of snow in the above picture almost look like lights on the trees, don't they?

There's not much that is more beautiful than freshly fallen snow.

* * * * * * * *

I scoured some cook books last night looking for a new soup recipe to try.

This is our last Soup Sunday coming up this weekend so I'd like to find a good one to share.

Also saw a recipe for French Bread I want to try.  Always looking for that special one that is better than the rest!

* * * * * * * *

Of course, a lovely snow day would be perfect for sitting in front of an open fire and completing the very last block of the last strip of my knitted afghan.

I'm actually getting eager to weave in all the ends and start to (try to!) sew the strips together.

* * * * * * * *

Oh, and I finally picked up the vegetable glycerin at our co-op yesterday that I ordered so I can make up some of the homemade toothpaste Carolyn over at Krazo Acres shared with us.  I'd like to get that mixed up today so we can begin using it.

* * * * * * * *

Ugh.  But then there's the mess on my desk top . . . 

. . . that could use some serious attention.

* * * * * * * *

Just another day when I don't have to wonder how to fill my hours.

Wouldn't change it for anything.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Walnut Coconut Cookie Recipe. Really.

So far this morning we don't have Internet access so I'm writing this out in word processing while I wait for the proper systems to kick in.  (Obviously, if you're reading this now, all is back to normal.)  It could be signals that normally zip through the atmosphere are having trouble dodging large ice cubes as they fly along.  Our temp this morning is -14F . . . which is the warmest in our area of whacky micro-climates.

We had a bit of a shock this morning when we woke to a temp inside the house of 49 degrees!  That's never happened before.  We put our usual "night time" log in the main wood stove last night . . . but it never caught.  Oooops.  Also, Mama Pea left the bedroom window cracked perhaps a little more than usual.  Add the high winds we heard during the night and . . . brrr!  The good news is that the temperature is rising rapidly.  Inside anyway.  Outside we are to expect a high of minus 1.  Hey, could be worse.

Okay, without further delay . . . the promised recipe.


2/3 cup butter
1 cup honey (or sugar)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups coconut
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Additional walnut halves

Cream the butter and honey.  Add the eggs and vanilla and continuing creaming 'til light and fluffy.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream.

Mix well and stir in the coconut and chopped walnuts.

Spoon by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.

Top with additional walnut halves (or pieces).  Bake at 350 degrees for about 16 minutes watching near the end to be sure the edges don't brown too much.

(Above cookies were made with honey.)

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

My Notes:

~  If you use honey, the cookies will flatten out more (and not be as pretty, in my opinion), but will stay soft and moist longer.

~ I sometimes skip the sifting of the dry ingredients.  (Yeah, I know, I'm a real rebel.)  Just dump them in, mix a bit and then add the sour cream.

If you like coconut, you should like these.  Each cookie tastes like a little piece of cake.  (Of course, there are those strange people [Chicken Mama] who don't like them because of the waaaal-nuts.  Can't you just hear her whining now?)  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This, That and A Cookie Recipe for CR

Strip off that long underwear, northern Minnesotans, we've got a warming trend here!  (Said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.)  It is now 2 ABOVE zero at mid-morning.  Heck, we don't even need to fire the wood stoves now.  (Snort, snort.)

Actually, both wood stoves are s-t-u-f-f-e-d with ashes and I'm forced to let the fire in them die out so I can empty them.  It's not that I didn't do that yucky little task only a couple/few days ago.  It's simply that in the past few days we've burned about four tons of wood in each of them . . . and that makes lotsa ashes.  The stoves don't burn very efficiently when there is too much ash build-up so it's a necessary task that needs doing whether we want the house to cool down in the process or not.   I'm wishing I had planned ahead to have a turkey or ham or something that needed to bake in the oven for several hours to add heat in the house while the wood stoves die down.  Papa Pea gleefully suggested I could stand and bake cookies all day.  He's so helpful.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hubby and I have an agreement regarding who drives the eighteen mile round trip to get our raw milk products at the dairy.  I go from about April through October/November and he makes the trek over winter when the roads going there are frequently snowy or ice covered.  We haven't started a vehicle since our weather turned really frigid so I hope he doesn't have trouble getting one started for the trip today.  I think I'll have him get a little extra milk because I'm wanting to make some vanilla pudding (although he has requested I learn how to make butterscotch pudding -- anybody have a good recipe to share?) and I need to start from scratch in getting a new batch of kefir going.  Night before last I was taking something out of the refrigerator right before bedtime and dropped the full jar of kefir.  Jar smashed to a million pieces and a good amount of the kefir went under the stove and refrigerator.  Whadda mess.  (Isn't it amazing how much territory what seems like a relatively small amount of liquid can cover when it's spilled or dropped?)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When our daughter eventually moves on to her next homestead, I may have to actually go out and buy some furniture.  For the past 30-some years, "my" chair for relaxing has been a recliner which is very comfortable but is a honkin' big thing that takes up more space in our small living room than we can afford.  Chicken Mama had a small glider rocker in her kitchen at Swamp River Ridge that she offered to me to "store" and use for the time being.  Turns out it fits me very well so now besides her very nice, comfortable couch, we also have this chair in our living room. 

Only thing I don't like about it is the rose/pink upholstery on the cushions.  Mama Pea does not care for rose and/or pink.  (Remember the fiasco in painting the pantry walls beige?  The same beige that looked decidedly pink when it dried?)  Dear daughter has given me permission to get the cushions recovered so I think that's a project I'll pursue.  In the meantime, I've covered up the rose/pink cushions with a quilt I made several years ago which, for the time being, doesn't look too bad.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well, I know this is mean and nasty, dear Carolyn, but I've rambled on so long here that I'm not going to include the Walnut Coconut Cookie recipe you requested in this epistle today.  I promise I'll get it posted tomorrow, okay?  (Don't hate me because I'm lazy -- and cold.  Gotta go clean out the wood stoves!) 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Death to Ticks and Bad Bugs!

It's really, really cold . . . as it should be this time of year in northern Minnesota.  Our high yesterday was -11F.  With nary a smidgeon of sunshine.  But with a bit of wind.  Don't know what the windchill factor was.  Who cares when you know it's just too darn cold to be outside for any length of time with unprotected skin exposed!

Schools in the area are closed today for the second day in a row.  Kids are delighted, no doubt.  Parents not so much.  Even a few businesses have shut their doors.

We're warm and cozy inside although putting wood in our two wood stoves (well, three . . . I forgot the one in the garage) is like dropping the logs down a bottomless pit.  They disappear about that fast.  (There will be no shortage of ashes for the garden or field this year at this rate.)

I didn't go outside at all yesterday other than to help hubby unload wood he had brought to the house via wheelbarrow from the wood shed.  He did all the necessary outside chores which, of course, included changing frozen waterers several times during the day and collecting eggs often so they didn't freeze and crack.  The crazy man even went for a hike up around the loop at the back of our property.  (I politely -- and with no deliberation at all -- declined the invitation to join him.)  He returned a half hour or so later with a frost-encrusted face mask but still comfortable because he had dressed in the proper gear.

Today we have bright sunshine which is the case more often than not when it's this cold.  Now at noon time the temperature has hit a balmy -4 degrees.  I just turned on the oven to bake a batch of Walnut Coconut Cookies.  Having the oven perking away sounded like a good thing to do and we always seem to be short on cookies around here.

Personally, I'm rejoicing over this frigid weather, because it should be killing off the multitudinous hordes of ticks and evil garden insects that have been rapidly making their way northward into our region (and thriving!) because of our past way-too-warm winter seasons.

So take this deep freezing weather, you blood-sucking ticks and crop destroying garden pests.  I hope you're frozen stiff and dead as door knobs.  Or at least hurriedly packing your bags and catching the first logging truck going south.  Way, way south.  Good-bye and good riddance!

Now I'm off to put on warmer socks.  Sitting here at my desk, my tootsies have gotten a little chilly.   

Monday, January 21, 2013

Can Onions Drive You Crazy?

A very eensie, weensie, teensie problem to have to deal with compared to the real problems out there in the world today . . . but my onions are giving me fits!

I had a nice crop of onions, both red and yellow, from my garden this past gardening season.  I use a lot of onions in cooking, but the act of peeling them is driving me bonkers.

Nice onions that they are, they are just about impossible to peel.  That last skin lying next to the inner onion just won't come off.  It's as if it was super glued on.  I stand at the counter and try and try to peel it off but all I can manage to separate are very little pieces of the onion skin.  Losing all patience and hacking at the onion results in wasting more onion than I want to.

I don't know if it was the way the onions grew this year or something (bad) that happened when I dried and cured them for storage.  I didn't do anything different than I usually do.

Have any of you ever experienced this?  Any ideas or tricks for peeling an onion that wants to hang on to its innermost/protective skin?  I'm having the problem with both the yellow and red onions.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Soup (Or Is It Soup Sunday?)

I tried a new soup recipe this week and there's not much I can say about it . . . except it was THE BEST chicken with dumplings I have EVER made.  (And believe me, I've tried more than a few of 'em!)

This scrumptious recipe was shamelessly lifted from The Iowa Housewife where you can find any number of great recipes.  Sue and Myrna, sisters who write the blog, cook food from scratch that reminds one of what we sat down at the table to eat back when the only convenience foods were those a homemaker pulled off the pantry shelf or out of the freezer.

To find Sue's recipe for Chicken Stew with Dumplings (and a good picture) click here.  I made only a couple of small changes I'll tell you about after I post the recipe.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large chopped onion
1 cup sliced carrots
2 stalks sliced celery
1 pint canned chicken (or 1-1/2 cups cooked poultry)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth (use any drained from canned meat plus
    home canned broth or prepared broth to make 3 cups)


3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold butter
2 teaspoons parsley, dry or fresh
1/4 cup chicken broth (or milk)

Heat butter in soup pan over medium high heat until hot.  Add onion, carrots and celery; cook and stir until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add chicken, pepper and larger amount of broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 15 minutes.

Place flour and baking powder in bowl.  With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in parsley.  Add remaining broth and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto simmering stew.  (You should get about 12 dumplings.)  Cover and cook (don't lift cover!) over medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until dumplings are firm.

Makes 4 servings.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My notes:

I used two tablespoons of butter in which to saute the veggies instead of just one.

My meat was some boned turkey I had in the freezer and the last (sob) of the great turkey broth made from our Thanksgiving Day turkey.

Since I didn't have any fresh parsley, I substituted some fresh frozen chives from the freezer.  

I used broth in the dumplings which I thought gave them a unique and very flavorful taste.  (They were so tender, too!)

I cooked the dumplings for 10 minutes first but when I checked, I thought they needed that last 5 minutes to firm up, so cooked them the whole 15 minutes.

This recipe does serve only four so you may want to double it.  As Sue said in her post, while the dumplings are cooking the liquid of the stew magically (my word) turns into an almost gravy-like texture.  (Swoon.)

You won't be sorry if you try this soup/stew.  It.  Is.  So.  Good!!       

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Last Day

Yesterday was the last day our daughter had legal access to her Swamp River Ridge house, homestead and acreage.

A very fitting date, she explained, as it was exactly three years ago to the day that her now ex-husband communicated the decision that he no longer wanted to stay in their marriage or live at Swamp River Ridge.  Then he left.  Figuratively and literally.

Putting on her big girl panties after their parting, she set out to become Chicken Mama, Lady Homesteader.  After all, Swamp River Ridge was her dream piece of property with a house she had designed completely by herself and watched being built from the ground up.  It was where she sincerely believed she would spend the rest of her life.

For the next two years, she tried as hard as she could to keep Swamp River Ridge going by herself.  It was an impossible task both financially and physically.  Year three was spent going through the very painful bank foreclosure on the house and property and knowing she was losing the last piece of her dream life.

It's been an extremely rough last three years.

Yesterday, the last day to get everything off the property and out of the house was the coldest day we've had this winter so far.  The temperature hovered around 15 degrees below zero for most of the day, dropping sharply as the day drew to a close.

The house has been winterized and without heat for the past couple of weeks.  The thermometer inside read 22 degrees above zero.  But even at that, it felt warm compared to the outside air!  (Guess everything really is relative, isn't it?)

The county road to and from the last 4-1/2 miles to her land's driveway was ice-covered in spots making the twists and turns and hills a bit on the difficult (stomach-churning for yours truly) side, but the 4-1/2 miles that she's been responsible for keeping open in the winter had such a solid covering of ice that I know for certain I could have put on ice skates and traversed much of the distance that way.  Possibly faster than we were able to go pulling the heavily loaded trailer behind the 4-wheel drive truck on our way out.

Papa Pea and I left her to pack up the very last items in our second Suburban and have some time by herself to say good-bye to Swamp River Ridge.

Arriving home, we were exhausted from the day and more than a little nervous until we knew she had successfully made the drive out with her faithful dog companion, Tucker, riding shotgun.  I am so thankful the day ended the way it did given the low temperatures and extremely icy road conditions we had to deal with.  There was nothing about the whole day that would have been improved by having to deal with vehicle problems!

We awoke this morning to 11 degrees above zero and heavily falling snow.  Now at noon time we have about 6" on the ground with the snow continuing to fall, but not as thickly.  Above is the Suburban our daughter drove last night and parked here, packed to the brim and with ladders strapped on top. 

Chicken Mama may or may not blog about her emotions of the day yesterday.  I can only speak for myself when I say it was an emotionally tumultuous day for me.  I kinda surprised myself in that I didn't once give in to my emotions.  (At least not outwardly that anyone else noticed.)  What else could I do when our daughter continued to remain pleasant, amiable and kept her fantastically positive attitude through what must have been a heart-wrenching day for her?

The End.

Of the Last Day.

Of the Big Move.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Few Stitches Here, A Few Stitches There

I've been trying to plop myself down on the couch in front of the open fire and do a little knitting each night before going to bed.  That time is very relaxing for me, and I think it's actually prepping me for a better night's sleep.

Also, I'm making progress on my knitted afghan!

My goal was to have this project done by the end of the holiday season just past so that when I put away my Christmas quilt I had out on the couch, the new knitted afghan could replace it.

Whoops.  That looks like another quilt to me rather than the afghan.  Yep.  Sigh.  Didn't get the afghan done on time so this quilt made of Civil War reproduction fabrics will have to do for a while.

I snapped this picture of the afghan strips laid out last week.  (Looking at the picture just now, I think I placed the strips in the wrong order, too.)  Since then, I've finished the fourth strip and have started on the fifth and last one.  (I erroneously mentioned in a previous post that the afghan was made up of four strips.  Guess I was having trouble counting that day.  It's five strips.)

When I finish knitting this last strip I'm on now, I may need a couple of you to threaten me with whips to keep going and finish the project . . . by sewing the strips together.  That's something I'm not looking forward to.  It's gonna take some creative thinking to figure out what color yarn to use because I'll be matching blocks of different colors.  So just what color do I use so it doesn't show?  All the pattern says is "sew strips together."  There must be a way to do it.  It may take a little experimentation, but I'll figure it out.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Soup Sunday - Cream of Mushroom

I'm not posting my new, fantastic, great, yummy, gotta-make-it-soon-again quinoa soup recipe.

Not gonna do that because I did try the recipe and it was awful, terrible, grimace-producing, chuck-that-recipe-out-right-now.  Just how bad was it?  Let's just say the chickens wouldn't eat it (a sad but true statement) and let it go at that, okay?

I don't make too many dishes that are that bad, but I excelled on this one.  Kinda bummed me out 'cause I not only wasted the time on it but also six cups of really good turkey broth and five cups of fresh, frozen corn.  Arrrgh.  But, hey, it's not the end of the world, and these things do happen.

But . . . fear thee not.  I do have a really good soup recipe to share with you today.  It's not a new one, but an old favorite.

I once gave this recipe to a friend who thought it was great.  Shortly thereafter, she had a fella she had been dating over for an impromptu dinner.  She sat him down in the kitchen with a glass of wine and said she was going to whip up some Cream of Mushroom Soup.

He hesitantly said, "Um . . . I don't like mushroom soup."

"Trust me," she replied.  "You'll love this."  And then she went on to make the soup.  He ate two bowls and said, "This is crazy 'cause I really have never liked mushroom soup before!"

Here's hoping you like it, too.

* * * * * * * *


1/4 cup butter
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon savory
Pinch of white pepper
1 can beef broth (or about 12 oz. homemade beef broth)
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are brown and most of their liquid is gone.

Sprinkle with flour, salt, savory and pepper.  Stir until coated.

Remove from heat and slowly blend in beef broth.  Put back on heat, bring to boiling, cover and reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Mixture will be very thick so simmer on a low heat and stir now and then to make sure it's not sticking.

Mix in the 1/2 & 1/2 and heat to serving temperature being careful not to boil.

* * * * * * * *

I like to let the 1/2 & 1/2 sit out on the counter while I'm making the first parts of the soup.  There's less chance of it curdling if it's a little tempered rather than pouring it straight from the refrigerator into the hot soup.

Yesterday when I made this, it seemed just a titch thick so I added half a cup of water to the end product.  If you, too, desire to thin it, you can add more water, broth, 1/2 & 1/2 or milk.  They all work well.

Sorry there are no pictures.  Yesterday was a slightly discomboobulated day and I just plumb let the photos slip my mind.  Our bowls were about licked clean when I thought of it.

This recipe makes only a scant quart of soup so you can feel free to double it as I have often.

Happy Sunday Soup!