Sunday, April 25, 2021

Snow and Sausage

Well, so much for me dreaming of an early spring season this year.  Our return to frigid temperatures is not unexpected, but a little disappointing all the same.

This was our light covering of snow on the ground yesterday morning.  It melted before the day was over but the temp stayed barely into the 30s.
Today we had a heavy frost on most every outside surface.  The sun is shining on us and the thermometer reads a balmy 31° already at 7:30 a.m.  (Wahoo!)  The forecast for tomorrow?  A "wintry mix" and breezy.  Oh well, it's just typical spring time in the Rockies north woods.
* * * * * * * *
I planned pizza for dinner last night and needed to make up another batch of pork sausage for topping.  Sharing my recipe might give you an idea for making your own.  Of course, you may feel free to adjust any of the seasonings more to your own liking.
To one pound of ground pork, I add:
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1/4 cup dried parsley
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Brown the ground pork in a skillet until no longer pink.

Then add a mixture of all the spices and herbs and mix thoroughly, and cook over medium flame for a few minutes stirring frequently.
I spread the hot, cooked and seasoned pork sausage out on a cookie sheet for faster cooling before putting it in a container for the freezer. 

When I want to use the seasoned pork sausage, I take out as much as desired from the container and spread it (frozen) on top of the cheese covering the pizza.
Papa Pea prefers sausage on his portion of pizza; I'm a fan of pepperoni.  I have a couple recipes for homemade pepperoni, but have to admit I've never tried making it.  Do any of you have a tried and true recipe you'd care to share? 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Fickle Spring - Nothing New in That!

Brrr!  Our nights have recently been in the 20s with frost on the pumpkin garden soil most mornings.  It's lightly snowing at this very moment.

I had a bit of help in the asparagus patch when our daughter and her little day companion stopped over last week.  They weeded almost one whole row for me.  Yes, those are new swimming trunks on the little guy.  His grandma and grandpa live on a beautiful lake and when his mama showed him the night before the new swimming outfit she had gotten him, he insisted on wearing them that day (over his regular clothes).  And, yes again, he does have his jacket on backwards which is his preferred way these days.

Thanks to them, I've managed to get the asparagus bed mostly ready for the first green spears to appear.  I say mostly because I'll mulch between the hilled-up rows (makes for much cleaner walking when harvesting) but not until the soil warms up more.
I got a start on weeding the strawberry rows, but it's been much too chilly lately to get back out there.
I've used the frost covered ground as an excuse to stay inside and doing a little more food prep to have on hand for the busy days ahead and for (yay!) a bit of handwork.

I finished this little x-stitch piece to add some spring time flavor to our inside environment.

The picture on the pattern showed it completed as an oval piece which I liked very much so I wanted to do the same.  It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be and my end product is certainly not perfect, but it's finished, hung and I'm happy with it.

Thank goodness, our geriatric hens are laying eggs by the thousands now.  (Slight exaggeration.)  But after their l-o-n-g hiatus over winter, we're pleased as punch to be getting as many eggs now as we need plus some extra.  I think mentioning to them that replacement chicks are arriving in May could have spurred them on to the amazing outlay of wonderful eggs.
Our spring season is never dependable nor predictable up here in the north woods, but fortunately I can find enjoyable, productive and fun things to do while my straw hat and garden duds wait to be put to daily use.  Meanwhile, I'm staying comfy-cozy in jeans, turtleneck and sweatshirt. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Are You a Heavy Furniture Mover?

I recently read an article detailing one way one woman got into the feeling of the new spring season.  She did a thorough, deep cleaning of her living room and completely moved the furniture into a new arrangement.
I used to do that.  I say "used to" because that's been an impossibility in the twenty-some years we've lived in our present house.
You see, although our living room measures 16' x 16' square (not a tiny room), it has a staircase, five doors and a wood stove in it.  Plus, two main walkways that must be kept open.  I know; a furniture arrangers nightmare.  There's one and only one way to arrange our living room furniture that works.
I still think of when, in my previous life, each time I felt the need to move the big pieces of furniture to vacuum or clean underneath them, I would put the room back together with a different arrangement.  It always seemed as though the room had had a makeover and was somehow new and revitalized.
Do any of you periodically change the looks of the interior of your homes by rearranging furniture? 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Clomping with Muddy Boots into Spring

Spring is always an eagerly anticipated season (gardening, of course!) and yet its arrival means I have very little time for my much enjoyed handwork.  Sadness and woe.  (Ya can't do everything at once, Mama Pea.)  Plus, spring time in our area means MUD.

On the up side, this is the first spring when it seems we just might get a jump start on our always too short growing season.  The piddling little amount of winter snow is long gone now (although we never had our March or April - well, not yet anyway - blizzard) and we've gone to bed at night with an outside temp of 50° more than once.  Unheard of for this time of year in these here parts.
The grass is turning green on our lawn areas as are the robust little weeds popping up everywhere in the garden areas.  Happily, we've been getting whole days of rain (or just gray, damp, misty weather some of the time) which is not only squelching the fire danger of the surrounding forests and still standing dry weeds of last season, but doing a good job of driving the frost out of the ground.  We've seen our chickens scratching in the wet soil to find good-sized earth worms that they happily gobble up.
I've been able to zip out between showers in the last several days to remove the winter mulch from the strawberries and clean up the dead ferns covering the asparagus patch.

Lookit all those green weeds taking hold in the asparagus rows.  Ugh.
Next in the garden will be to spend a day or so digging out the spring weeds in both the strawberry and asparagus patches as soon as the ground dries out enough for me to avoid becoming totally covered in mud.  This won't be until perhaps mid-week or later as rain is forecast until then.  (I can hear those healthy, new weeds laughing at me as we speak.)

Our old rhubarb plant needed to be moved to a new spot which was done with Papa Pea's help manning the shovel.  My, but those roots went deep.  We chopped off the newer outer parts and transplanted one clump into the center of a raised bed where it seems to be taking hold and thriving.

Small buds are appearing on the apple trees.  (Use your imagination.)

The chives which are always the first perennials to burst forth are looking good, no doubt loving this wet weather.
I'm no expert, but from what I'm hearing the recent maple sap gathering season in our area was not great this year.  Our unusually warm weather didn't provide the freezing nights the maple trees need for maximum flow of sap.  However, a friend of ours gathered more sap than she wanted to boil down for herself so gave us a gallon and a half of the sap as a health drink.  This "sap" is not thick at all but has the consistency of water and is often called "maple water."  It has a very slight sweet flavor and contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants when consumed.  We shared it with our daughter who, in turn, shared it (along with a science lesson) with some of her little people.
These wet, gray days have been perfect for being in the kitchen and in the past two days I've made three different batches of soup for the freezer thinking ahead to the coming days when most of my time will be spent outside.  On the schedule today are two more soups to be prepared.  During the summer months, yummy soup equals a fast and easy meal and when the garden goes into production and gives us fresh vegetables for crunchy salads . . . well, I can hardly wait.  Best I get some bread made, too, to have in the freezer as an addition to some of those busy day meals.
It's raining enough this morning that I had to wear full rain gear to go out to get the included pictures.  A perfect day for simmering a couple pots of soup.  And maybe even making myself cozy in my quilt room and making progress on my current cross-stitch project.

Friday, April 2, 2021

A Memory from Long, Long Ago

This morning I read the recent blog post of tpals, a blogger I enjoy reading.  Within the post were included a few pictures, one showing her wood stove and some surrounding buckets of water.

Memories of buckets of water next to our wood stove when we first moved up here to northern Minnesota sprang to mind.
For several years, we lived in an old tin can of a mobile home that had minimal to non-existent insulation, and we came close (I'm sure) to freezing in the winter time.
At the time we had more animals than we had sense.  Three horses, a donkey, two dairy goats, a buck, a flock of chickens, one huge Bouvier dog and one very old Cocker Spaniel comprised our menagerie.
We had no running water or electricity.
Our water came from a hand dug well that dated from the time the land was first settled in the early 1900s.  And, boy howdy, was that water cold.  We boiled it before using it for our household water and in the winter time brought buckets of water inside to be placed by the wood stove in the hopes of warming it a bit before giving it to the animals.
One day I had the usual umpteen buckets on the floor next to the stove and had put two loaves of bread to rise balanced rather precariously on a stool also next to the stove.
Something shifted and one of the pans of bread did a header smack into one of the buckets of livestock water.
Without a moment's hesitation, I snatched that pan of bread with the loaf still in it out of the pail of water, tipped it so the water ran out while holding the loaf of dough securely in the pan so it stayed put.
You can bet that after I had rescued and resuscitated that drowning loaf, I gave serious thought as to whether it would still be fit to eat.  But, I reasoned, I had just that morning scrubbed out all the animals' water buckets and the water in them looked sparkling clean.  Frigidly cold, but clean. 
So I set the pan of bread back in its place (a bit more securely) where it could finish rising.
Funny how I can still remember, all these forty-some years later, exactly what recipe of bread that was (Corn Meal Muffin Bread) and how wonderfully it rose and baked up.
Now, after I've told this tale, I have no doubt that should any of you have the chance to be offered a slice of my homemade bread, you would kindly demur.  
I understand.