Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sunday Morning Ramblings

Our pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving was so very delicious, but who can resist the thought of an apple pie?  Not me, so that's what I'm making this morning.

Our apples this year are HUGE.  I feel they could have used a little more time on the tree to fully mature, but Mother Nature doesn't always give us that.  Supposedly, some varieties will actually ripen a bit more in storage.  Fingers crossed.
Papa Pea can't tolerate a mushy apple so is very happy munching on one that is hard and crisp.  (One that I would call a smidge unripe.)

I'm the opposite in that his kind of apple gives me an instant tummy ache so when I came across one (that he would call) mushy apple this morning while peeling and paring the apples for the pie, I saved it for myself and happily ate it while finishing the pie preparation at the counter.  (Aren't we all different?)  

I always measure out my apples in the pie plate to make sure I have enough for a nicely packed piece of pie.  Who wants an apple pie with two crusts but only a sliver of apples?

All set to go into the oven.  Top crust brushed with milk and sprinkled with a sugar/cinnamon mix.  Between the turkey stock simmering and the apple pie baking there's gonna be a lovely aroma wafting through the house.  

The apples always settle down in baking but this pie looks as though it will still make adequately thick pieces.  Here it's cooling on the back unheated porch.  (Hope all the bears have gone into hibernation 'cause the pie is scenting the whole back yard.)
Remember the new sloppy joe recipe I tried several days ago that we didn't care for?  Well, never being one to waste any part of a pound of pricey ground beef, I put the remainder of the batch in the freezer.  Yesterday afternoon I wanted a quick, easy dinner for us so defrosted and reheated the remainder of that mix.  Guess what?  We both thought it was much better!  Matter of fact, there is enough left that we're eating it again for breakfast this morning.  (I'm still not keeping the recipe though.)

Last night I finished the Christmas-y X-stitch I've been working on.  Well, perhaps finished is not a totally accurate word as I'm going to make it into a small pillow as decoration during the holiday season.  The design itself is only 8" x 8".  I've needed some new Christmas decorations for a while now (years?) so it feels good to be creating some.  Less than a month now until we'll be putting out a plate of cookies for dear old Santa! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Our Week . . . So Far

Once again, the long, slow winter has not yet begun.  We have no snow on the ground yet, all that we see is the barren, colorless November landscape.  And more items on our lists than seem possible.  (Just who adds all those tasks??  And would somebody please stop it?)
Our week started off with a trip to the big city for overdue eye appointments for both of us.  In our usual attempt to kill two birds with one stone, we each drove a vehicle an hour down the road in order to leave our pick-with a body shop to get the tailgate which no longer opened without the use of a sledge hammer (not quite, but almost) fixed.
It was not a pleasant first hour of our day.  The highway was covered with a glaze of ice (good gawd, where were the salt and sanding trucks?!) which caused a white-knuckled trip and a speed which never exceeded 35 mph.  Thankfully, the other traffic was also driving sensibly, and we saw only one car in the ditch. 
Fast forward through the day.  We didn't get out of our eye appointments until 4 p.m. which meant nearly all of the 2-1/2 hour trip home was in the dark.  We drove together again until we picked up the truck an hour from home.  Although this last hour of traveling in the two vehicles wasn't as bad as the morning, there were still slippery areas to navigate.  Couple that with the night driving (with four still slightly dilated eyes from the eye exams) and we were both very, very thankful to pull into our own driveway and have Monday's travels over and done.  (I'm not leaving home until next May.)
Since I missed my usual wash day of the week, yesterday was spent on laundry.  And hours of painting in the heated garage.  (Another project that I won't spend time explaining in this post.)  No time for ironing although several of Papa Pea's wool and heavy flannel shirts had been laundered and need a good press job.  I'll get that done today.
I should have taken our Thanksgiving turkey out of the freezer to begin thawing on Monday morning, but completely forgot about it until yesterday.  Whew, hope I thought of it in time for it to be thawed enough for the oven tomorrow.
Speaking of birds, a hawk is wreaking havoc on our poultry population.  We've lost two hens and a duck in the last several days.  On Monday morning as we were leaving for the big city, we saw a hawk fly up and out of the poultry yard.  The birds were still locked up for the night, but when our daughter stopped by later to open up the birds for the day, she found a hawk entangled in the electric fencing.  She went into the house to get a means of "taking care" of the hawk but in the couple of minutes it took her to return to the area, the hawk had gotten loose and was gone.  She made the wise decision to leave our birds locked up for the day.
I've recently spent some time organizing all the miscellaneous recipes I've come across and saved (for how long?) and now have them filed under the appropriate headings in a three-ring binder.  I am so tired of my own cooking that either I'm going to give up eating (fat chance) or find some new taste-tempting dishes to add to our menus.  So far, I've had one success, a wonderful fish chowder, and one I'll-not-be-keeping-that-one, a "different" recipe for sloppy joes.  Lots more to try so I'll keep at it.
Our high-sided trailer has two axles, one of which had to be replaced five years ago.  If we had known then what we know now, we would have had them both done at the same time.  Now the second one is in sad need of replacement, but it's been a tremendous stress producing ordeal getting the proper parts.  Someone really should have had a video of Papa Pea and me underneath the trailer yesterday with camera trying to get a picture of the information on tags on the replaced axle in order to replicate (which is necessary) the first axle.  I can only say I had a much easier time getting under the trailer than back out again.  Ouch, bang, crash, I'm stuck!, owie, owie, owie.
 Never a dull moment around here.  When does that long, slow winter start?  

Monday, November 16, 2020

Howdy, Everybody!

 I think I'm finally relaxing from the busyness of this past summer.  Relaxing so much that I've been having a difficult time finding the energy to do any regular posting here.  Also, there's also some kind of a short between my brain and my fingers as I've not been commenting much on other blogs either, although I have been reading them.
Of course, there are still the items on the daily list that need to be tended to and I've actually stumbled through accomplished some bigger type tasks that I neglected all summer.
I've been out of my pre-made pie crust dough in the freezer so attempted to whip up a triple batch this afternoon.  Just as I was nearly through the second batch, I realized I had forgotten to put in half the butter I should have in the first batch.  (I use equal parts lard and butter in my crusts.)  Arrrgh.  As I say, my brain cells don't seem to be functioning really well.  (And my vision may be going, too.  Didn't I see that butter sitting there?)  I won't go into the details but I tried to salvage that first batch by adding the forgotten butter after the dough had already been formed into one-crust balls and was cooling in the refrigerator.  It was not easy.  Or pretty.

I knew I've never serve one of those pie crusts to unsuspecting friends without trying them out first so I made a haskap berry pie.  We'll sample it for dessert tonight and find out if it's edible.  If not, the poultry will be beside themselves.  And full of huge amounts of antioxidants contained in the haskap berries.
Yesterday I took a mental health day and did a lot of sorting and a little bit of cleaning in my quilt room.  As I've been bitten by the X-stitching bug lately, I sorted through my patterns and a tote of supplies which also contained a few projects that . . . well, needed completion.  (Who the heck would have stashed them away when there was so little left to take the projects to completion?!)
My dear daughter has been asking me for suggestions for what I would like for Christmas.  

In my sorting yesterday, I came across this piece that had only about a third of the border to finish which I did last night.  She does a whiz-bang job of matting and framing pictures (or pieces of handwork!) so I gave it to her today asking that she would do so and give it back to me as a Christmas present.  She seemed happy with the arrangement and I certainly will be. 
Time to go rustle up some dinner for us.  Papa Pea has said he has had a hankering for some fresh, raw vegetables and dip so that's what we're having along with some vegetable soup with beef.  I have a huge freezer stuffed full with frozen vegetables from the garden . . . and he wants raw veggies.  Sigh.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Squash Masquerading as Pumpkin

Did you know you can substitute cooked squash for cooked pumpkin in any recipe?
Last year I grew pie pumpkins, but no winter squash.  This year I did grow winter squash and use it instead of pumpkin when a recipe calls for pumpkin.  (Confused yet?)
It seems to me that the Red Kuri squash I grow has more flavor so I prefer it.  Besides that, my individual squash are usually bigger than the two of us can consume at one meal so I process whatever pulp remains into puree to be stored in the freezer.
We had baked fish fillets, mashed potatoes with gravy and baked squash for dinner last night.  

I bake my squash by cleaning out the seeds, putting cut side down in a baking dish, pouring boiling water into the dish to about a 1" level.  The squash then goes into the oven at 350° for at least an hour.  Last night I ended up baking it about 10 minutes longer until the pulp tested (with a fork) as soft as I wanted.  It was a big squash and when cutting it in half (from top to bottom) I succeeded(?) in getting one half bigger than the other.  Oops.
After dinner I had about two/thirds of the squash left over.

I scooped out the remaining pulp, put it in a bowl and mashed the heck out of it with my potato masher.  There was a time when I would process the pulp in a blender, but found it easier (with less clean up) to simply mash it well.

Then I measure two cups worth which goes into a freezer bag.

Pressing the mixture flat not only forces the air out of the bag but makes flat, pancake-like bags that are easy to stack in the freezer.  The second bag didn't have a full two cups in it (two cups being perfect for a squash pumpkin pie) so I labeled it as such.  No matter, as many recipes, such as pumpkin bread or muffins, call for just a cup or two-thirds of a cup and I can take what I need from the puree in one of the smaller bags.
One big winter squash equals killing two birds . . . or a veggie for dinner and freezer ready puree for baking . . . with one stone!  

Friday, November 6, 2020

The Whacky Weather is Here, Too

After me grumpity-dumping about our extremely cold month of October (temps down to the low 20s), this past week has given us gorgeous days in the 50s, 60s and today we hit the 70s.
Who's trying to gaslight us?  I'm not sure my mind (nor body) can make these adjustments.
Our daughter did some outside painting for us today which we didn't dream we'd get done this year.  She was on the south side of a small building and as the day progressed, she stripped down to a sleeveless t-shirt, rolled up her pant legs and took off her socks(!) in order to stay comfortable.  She may have ended up with a sunburn.  Or tan at least.

We had a pile of huge (HUGE) spruce and balsam logs Papa Pea had cut up two years ago.  I'm sure they were thinking about becoming punky and useless as firewood, but we hadn't found the time to get them split up this year.  With the advent of this spring-like weather (or more like summer up here in the north woods) we were able to get them unstuck from the stack where they had been frozen just a short week ago and today finished getting them split and stacked under cover.  That felt good.

I was even able to do some window washing.  Truth to tell, I had taken it off my Must Do This Fall list, but there was no way I could avoid it today when that thermometer climbed into the 70s.  (Although I sometimes think washing the outside of our windows is wasted effort as after the first rain or snow they seem to look as dirty as before.  Anybody else have this problem?)

I think it was late last week that I finished the Thanksgiving-themed X-stitch I've been working on.  It's now on a kitchen wall, over the stove.  It could/should be a little bigger for that area, but I'm happy with it.

The pattern includes instructions for two other turkeys, one hen and another male turkey in a side view pose.  I may do the one of the hen later on.  Like next year.
Right now I need to close this post and get back outside to help stack the wood that's in those wheelbarrows.  Unless I've stalled long enough that Papa Pea has already done it.   

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Just a Little Catsup. Ketchup? Catch-Up!

 After having unusually cold weather for the past couple/few weeks, we may get temps that climb into the 40s (a real heat wave, no?) this coming week.
And I can finally report that the garden is now completely put to bed for the winter.

The three long strawberry rows are snuggled under their heavy covering of mulch.

No snow yet on the very tall asparagus ferns but rain, wind and frost have bent them down so Papa Pea can no longer claim they are blocking the view of vehicles coming in on the driveway.

After our summer of lots of (sweat producing) hot days, I thought my Red Kuri squash would have matured more than it did.  Even though many of them don't have the intense orange-red color I look for, I have prepared two of them for us and they are good; just not as "sweet" as I would like.  No fear that they won't get eaten.

Our potato harvest was small.  But what did I expect when I planted only about half as many as usual?
A couple of years ago we had trouble with wire worms (ugh) in the potatoes.  The next year (spuds planted in a different spot) the problem was less prolific, but still in evidence.  So last year, I decreed a ban on potatoes in the garden.  We purchased a couple of twenty-five pound bags from an acquaintance who had a great crop.  From those bags, I saved small ones to plant as seed this year.
The result was no wire worms (yay!!) but a smaller yield and not the largest spuds we've ever seen.  Our total harvest was eighty-four pounds which will keep us going well into the winter months. 
I can't think of potatoes without remembering that my dear grandma immigrated to this country from Scotland with her family when she was fifteen.  She related the family had spent more than one winter living on nothing put potatoes. 
That story makes me extremely grateful for our bountiful garden harvest which has filled our freezers and pantry shelves.  We certainly have a plethora of good food to supplement our eighty-four pounds of potatoes.