Monday, February 26, 2018

More Snow!

Saturday night/Sunday morning brought us more snow.  The blueberry bushes are finally no longer visible and the area of the garden containing my twenty-six raised beds resembles a perfectly flat, white, fleece blanket.

We think we got about 8" of the heavy, wet stuff but this picture taken (as I was taking a break -- puff-puff) while shoveling off the walkway and heading for the deck makes the level look like a bit more than 8". 

Papa Pea snow blowing a path to the poultry yard.

On the deck looking out at part of our orchard.

Standing outside our back door looking to the right.

And looking to the left.

The snow could hardly have been more beautiful yesterday morning.

Forecast for this coming week is temps in the low to mid-30s and no precipitation in sight.  Should be a good week for getting some things done outside.  For me that will probably involve using my hand hatchet to make some more kindling.

The kindling bin is still about 1/3 full, but we use more kindling in the spring (and fall) because we don't keep the fires burning all day long.  That means the need for more kindling for restarting fires.  We've got lots of dry cedar slabwood cut and stored in bundles that I use for making the kindling.  My handy-dandy chopping block is right in front of the kindling bin and under cover in our smaller wood shed.  I can listen to an audio tape while splitting the slab pieces.  Makes the job fly by!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore

Our daughter, otherwise known as Chicken Mama, is the historian in our family, and I asked her this past week the year in which Papa Pea's paternal grandparents were married.

She reminded me that she's never been able to find that particular information although she knows the dates of their births and deaths, and the pertinent dates of their three children of whom Papa Pea's father was the eldest.

Here's the little story that led me to wondering when they were married.

Right after we were married in 1963, Papa Pea's grandfather died.  His wife then broke up housekeeping and went to live with her oldest daughter.

We had very little in the way of our own furniture (matter of fact, we were renting a furnished house at the time), so when we were offered Papa Pea's grandparents' set of six kitchen chairs, we readily accepted.

The reason I wanted to know the year these grandparents were married is that we were told they received the six chairs as a wedding present.  As close as we can guesstimate, we think they were probably married around 1904.  That would make the chairs approximately 114 years old now.

This summer we will have been married fifty-five years and are still using these very same chairs around our kitchen table.

Several of the chairs have had minor repairs made to them over the years, as was again necessary this past week.

After all this time, they're still just about the most comfortable straight-backed chairs I've ever sat in, and I hope we can keep them serviceable for many more years.

Wouldn't it be interesting to know how much this set of six wonderful chairs cost that many years ago? 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

We May Get A Winter Yet

Even though we're nearing the end of February, we're finally starting to experience some nice snowfalls.

We had snow last Sunday night into Monday, but it was hard to tell how many inches fell as there was much wind and drifting.  We're guessing somewhere between 8" and 12".  (Papa Pea immediately declared the house felt much warmer with the snow banked up around it!)

A couple more inches have fallen kinda helter-skelter since then.  And now the forecast is for heavy snow tonight into tomorrow morning.  A little respite and then more heavy snow Saturday night into Sunday.

Yippee-skippee, I say!  Even though our outdoor fun snow activities kinda went by the wayside because of someone's swan dive off the ladder, we are both snow-lovers and delight when winter time gives us ample amounts of the white stuff.

Of course, being old (not), retired (we are??) codgers (ahem), we don't have to get out and drive snow-covered, hazardous roads every day as some of you do.  For that you have my sincere sympathies, and I will try to refrain from waxing poetically (as if I could) about snuggling down in front of an open fire with a second cup of java on such mornings.

When we have a light snow year, among other things like the frost going down too deeply into the ground because of not enough insulation from the cold, there's always the threat of spring forest fires because of lack of moisture.  So we're looking forward to any snow we may get from now until the temperatures start creeping upward and spring looks like it really will arrive once more.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

One Loss, Two Wins

Plowing through my big box of recipes I've been saving to try has given a real boost out of the cooking lethargy from which I've been suffering lately.  I get so tired of preparing what seems to me as the same old, same old dishes.  I personally like a lot of variety in the foods I eat so finding new recipes to try has lit a fire under my desire to get enthused about preparing meals again.

I promise not to subject you to every one of the recipes I try and decide are keepers.  However, when other people sample a dish and say, "This is really good!  I'd like to have the recipe," it seems the recipe might be worth sharing with you, too.

Let's talk about the "one loss" first.  It was one of those breakfast casserole dishes you make the night before and bake the next morning.  I prepared it Sunday night and we had it for breakfast the following morning.  Not bad, but nuthin' special.  We finished the rest of it this morning, but I'll not be keeping the recipe. 

One of the two "wins" is a new soup I cut out of a Taste of Home magazine.  I made a couple of small changes to the recipe, and Papa Pea and I ate it for lunch and dinner one day, and I still had enough left to invite Chicken Mama and Gilligan to help finish it up with us yesterday noon.  Everyone loved it.  I personally think it'll be even better with ham chunks instead of the chicken.

I didn't think to take a picture of it when I made it, but I can assure you it looks just like this shot of the picture printed with the recipe.  (Except for the green peas I added in my version.)  If you think you want to try it, you can find it on the Taste of Home website.  It's called Cream Cheese Chicken Soup.  Yummy.

The second recipe keeper I'll print out here 'cause it was sooo good.  Plus, I have no idea where I got the recipe originally.  It looks as if I clipped it out of a newspaper.

Just out of the oven.

These are the best scones I've ever tasted.  (Not that I've made a life of sampling scones.)  Usually I find scones to be a smidge on the dry side which doesn't appeal to me.  (I mean just how much clotted cream can you slather on one?)  These were not dry at all.

* * * * * * * *

Cranberry Scones
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons buttermilk
1/3 cup dried cranberries (sometimes called craisins)

Heat oven to 425 degrees and lightly flour a large baking sheet.

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Add and cut in butter pieces with a pastry blender until mixture resembles a fine meal.

Mix in egg and 3/4 cup buttermilk.  Add one extra tablespoon buttermilk at a time as needed.

Work dried cranberries into dough, then turn out on a floured surface and pat to 3/4" thickness.  Cut using a round cookie cutter and place onto floured baking sheet.  Brush top of scones with buttermilk.

Bake until scones are golden brown and cooked through, 15-18 minutes.  Serve warm.  Yield:  15-18

* * * * * * * *

My Notes:  Next time I'll add more cranberries, probably 1/2 cup.  My daughter suggested small chunks of white chocolate would be good and also some grated orange rind.  I think I'll try some grated orange rind next time I make these.

I had never baked anything on a sheet that was just floured.  Not greased and floured, but just floured.  I was surprised that this method created a very light, golden, soft "crust" on the bottom of each scone.

I worked in ALL of the buttermilk and perhaps even a little more.  It was needed to get all the dry ingredients incorporated.

I baked my scones the full 18 minutes which seemed perfect.  My yield was only 12 scones, but that was probably because of the size of my cutter.

Okay, back to my sorting.  Who knows what other treasures I'll find?  (Or how many more wastebaskets I'll fill with discarded recipes!)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Finally Doing It

I've had a banker's box in the bottom of my clothes closet into which I've been tossing copies of recipes I want to try for years.  Yes, for y-e-a-r-s.  Have I ever taken one of those recipes out to try?  Nope.

This past week I decided to haul the box (full to the brim) out to one end of the kitchen table and start going through it, sorting out what I want to keep, throwing out what I don't . . . or dumping the whole darn kit-and-kaboodle if the task proved to be impractical.  

I haven't lost my impetus yet, on my third day of sorting.  Strangely, I'm finding a lot of recipes that make me shake my head and wonder why in the world I ever kept them to try.  Into the wastebasket.  Others sound so absolutely wonderful (keep your fingers crossed) that I want to make them immediately.

This morning I did something I rarely do.  I made an unnecessary, spontaneous trip to town (our co-op is open on Sundays) to buy a head of the fresh broccoli I knew they had on sale.  I still have some of my home grown broccoli in the freezer, but I've found a recipe I'm chomping at the bit to make and it calls for fresh broccoli.

Although I was totally okay with making this frivolous (hey, sometimes you just have to be wild and crazy, right?) trip, as long as I was at the co-op and it was relatively un-busy, I took my time and made leisurely trips up and down the aisles.  The result was I kept seeing things that I remembered being ingredients for some of the other recipes I had come across and wanted to try.  I ended up spending $57.38.  Yikers!  Good thing I had my emergency $50 bill tucked in that secret compartment of my purse.

Never fear, none of the groceries I brought home will go to waste.  What hasn't been already frozen for later use is in the refrigerator and will be used for some delicious (hopefully) new dishes I'll be trying out this week. 

Gotta go back to my mess on the table now.  I need to have it cleared off by tomorrow as it's laundry day and I fold the clean clothes on the table.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"I'm Melllltiiinng!"

Saturday is the day our daughter takes care of the 4 year old twins and their 8 year old big sister.

They stopped in this morning to say hello after picking up Gilligan who was going to town with them to run a couple of errands.

In the winter, the rules in our house are we take our boots off in the entry room (which is just inside the enclosed back porch -- too cold out there as it's unheated).  The twins did this and then made their way into our living room where they started building a "fort" with the couch pillows, cushions and quilt.

Big sister stood in the kitchen (on the rug by the doorway) chatting with us four adults, not wanting to take off her jacket, snow pants, boots, etc. because they had to leave shortly.

Well, the happy voices and other fun  sounds coming from the living room got the best of her so she headed across the kitchen toward the activity in the other room forgetting she still had her boots on.

She was stopped short of the doorway to the living room by Chicken Mama sternly saying, "Boots off!"

She immediately obeyed and we all laughed at the sight of her snow pants and boots that she shed rather quickly.

The sight made us think of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz pitifully screeching, "I'm melting!"

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Great Report to Share

The man I live with is very close to being healed up completely.  Seems as though it was a long slog up until about a week ago which put him into his seventh week of recuperation, and kinda proves what they say about bones healing or severely stressed muscles, ligaments and nerves recovering around the six week mark.

This past Tuesday, we even made a trip to the big city.  I thought the five hour trip there and back plus making several stops while there would be too taxing, but he wanted to go, he knows his own body pretty darn well and was fairly sure he would be fine.

We took the Suburban, I figured if push came to shove, I could give him a pain pill, make him lie down in the back, take over the driving and head home immediately and we would not be too bad off.

Well, he sailed through the whole day without any pain (nor pain pill in his system) and upon arriving home at 5 p.m. saw that the high winds we had felt on the highway had toppled the two lengths of insulated chimney pipe (for the main wood heating stove) on the roof.  Good grief.

Papa Pea didn't miss a beat, put on his insulated coveralls (yes, that wind whipping around was making it nasty), climbed up on the roof (and down and back up again . . . and finally down) and made the repairs.  I guess it goes to prove you can't keep a good man down.  Or, as our daughter's oldest friend (and our "second daughter"), who is a Physician's Assistant says, the old goat is just gonna do what he wants to do.  (Okay, she didn't say that in so many words, but during this past accident/injury of his she did call him "an Old Goat."  Once.  Or maybe twice.  Which was warranted.)

This is him going around the corner of the house on his way to do afternoon chores today.  He's still following the super and sensible advice of a very wise friend (thanks, again, Karen) who said it would be much less strain on his body to pull the buckets of water and feed behind him rather than carrying them.  This has also proven out to be a much safer way to transport heavy loads on the ice and snow we have to navigate at this time of year.  Much, much easier to keep ones balance and avoid slipping!  (Let alone chance dumping a bucket of water down your front at near zero degrees.)

Thanks to all of you very, very much for your kind wishes for his speedy recovery.  We're definitely in the home stretch now and ready to put all of this behind us.  (Just wait until he sees the long list I've made for him to do now that he's nearly back to 100%!)  Hee-hee.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Easy Seed Viability Check

A week or so ago when I went through my supply of garden seeds to see what new ones I needed to order for the coming season, I found a rather large packet of Scarlet Nantes carrot seeds.  They had a date of 2009 on them.

Would they still be viable?  If I used them, could I be assured of getting my usual good crop of carrots?

Only one way to be sure.  See if the seeds would sprout.

An easy way to do this is to spread some seeds on a piece of paper toweling that had been folded a few times, moisten the seeds and paper towel, and place them in a small plastic bag, closed but not sealed.

I put the bag on the shelf of my kitchen island about six feet from the wood stove in the kitchen.  I knew the seeds would be warm enough during the day, but also knew the temperature in the kitchen cools down significantly during the night.  That didn't seem to have a negative effect on the test.  (Whew!)

This morning, a week after moistening the seeds and placing them in the plastic bag, I took a look at them.

Nearly every one of them had sprouted.

Here's a shot where you can see the sprouts better.

The experiment turned out just the way I hoped it would.  I've always had good luck saving "older" seeds and being able to use them years past the year I got them.

I did include some new carrot seeds on my recent seed order, but feel confident I can go ahead and use these seeds from 2009 in the garden this year.  Yay!!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Thoughts Rattling Around In My Head

There were only three other children, all 5-6 years older than our daughter, within several miles of the area in which we lived when she was growing up.  The older three were always so good in tolerating playing with her, and they were all close during those years.  One of the girls (grown now and a lovely woman) is the mother of two sons.  Her sixteen year old was just killed in an automobile accident.

The husband of one of my friends in my quilt group died suddenly and totally unexpectedly at home last Monday morning.

Our lives, our very lives, can change in  an instant.  We've got to make sure we appreciate all we're given, all the wonderful things we have in our lives, all we can do as individuals to make our lives, and those of others, better.  It's so unjustifiable to spend any time being negative or unappreciative.

* * * * * * * *

I spent nearly the whole day today going through my garden seeds and perusing the garden catalogs to find ones I needed to order.  Gotta admit it actually made me eager for this coming gardening season.  I'm avoiding planting anything extraneous this year (oh, will I ever need to find a big dose of will power to do that!) because of all the other items on our summer's To Do List.  Some corners must be cut.  Or at least rounded off a bit.

* * * * * * * *

My living room (or what was once my living room) is still functioning as a temporary bedroom for Papa Pea.  He's tried and tried to sleep in our bed, but the firm mattress makes his bruised body so ouchy and achy that he's given up trying to spend his nights there, at least for the time being.  Thank goodness we have a big, long couch where he is comfortable and is now sleeping well nights.

He's been walking around withOUT the help of a cane for the past two days.  In the house, that is.  He still takes his helper stick out with him to do poultry chores three times a day.  Scares the bejeebers out of me because we have so much ice around.  Actually, what really scares me the most is me walking on the ice out there.  I mean what a mell of a hess we'd be in if I fell and broke my whatever?!

* * * * * * * *

January, the long month of winter (ha!), has flown by and now we're tromping through February with me not finding enough time to spend in my quilt room.  (Anybody have a nice smoked cheese I can have with my whine?)  I keep dashing in there, pulling out one project or another . . . and leaving again.  (Do you notice a "messy" theme to these pictures?)

* * * * * * *

I finally got a new book light.  This may not be a big thing to some people, but it is for me because the only time (almost exclusively) I read is when I get into bed at night.  (Or when I wake up at 2:30 a.m. and can't get back to sleep.)  It's an LED rechargeable (yay, yay!) light with a high and low setting (the low is totally adequate) and has a much more "pleasant" light than my old fluorescent book light.

This relic was powered by four AA batteries that lasted about as long as a lifesaver.  Plus, it was held together by electrical tape and a toothpick inserted in just the right spot.  (Don't ask.)

* * * * * * * *

Well, dear readers, that's the sum total of the thoughts in my head tonight.  Hope you all had a good weekend.  Let's strive for an upbeat, positive, kind, helpful and appreciative outlook on life for the coming week.