Monday, April 29, 2019

Why Our Spring Flowers Don't Bloom Until June

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

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

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

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Am I Glad That's Over!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Lotsa Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 22, 2019

Mr. Bunny Draws A Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number 10 which corresponds with the comment from ELIZABETH.

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

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Table Runner Seeking New Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello?  Anybody out there??

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

You Silly People!

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

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

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

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

Lemon Sour Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 15, 2019

When Bad Things Happen To Good Pies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will I make it again?  Nope.

Friday, April 12, 2019

So Beautiful . . . If It Were December!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 5, 2019

Lentil Burger Recipe Plus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * * * * *

Cockeyed Jo asked for the Caramel Roll recipe also.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These rolls take approximately 3 hours, start to finish.

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

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Admitted Procrastination

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

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

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

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

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

This is after forming, but before frying.

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

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

Off now to tackle my desk top.

Monday, April 1, 2019

I Have Learned . . .

I have learned that:

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * * * * *

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

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

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