Sunday, July 5, 2020

What is Old?

Old is as old as your mind feels, old is as old as your face and body look, old is as weary as your body feels and old will show in your eyes.  Where it won't show is in your smile.  No matter how old a person gets a smile can melt away the years when someone looks at it.  Now at almost 71 everything adds up to old but trying to smile seems to take away the years.  Even if I have to dip back to the young at life and young at heart, search for a memory that makes me smile or feel deep down good in my heart.  The older I get the more dipping back comes into play.  The older most of us get is when we start looking back thinking those were the good old days and times.  They were, but.........every generation goes through the same feelings.  It is called.....yes....getting old.  Don't get me wrong, I am not setting here thinking it is the end because it is just the beginning.  The beginning of a new chapter to what will be.  If we are blessed there will be many chapters to start and hopefully finish.  A saying that I have never liked, life is too short to.......  To what?  Never quite figured out how much time is needed and I doubt anyone else has.  They may say the quote and finish it with what they believe.  Everyone has a different end to that saying.  I just can't come up with one for me.

Time and days continue to go at Cook'n by the Creek.  Every new blossom is a time  each plant is ready for.  It is time for our lilies to bloom and wow are they gorgeous this year.  We have pink and white, orange and a deep deep red.  How do you like that for telling what type they are?  Never keep the tag, we buy, plant and watch them bloom year after year.  As each one opens we announce the red lily is blooming or pink and white or orange.  The prettiest flowers that blossom around here will end with the lilies.  The others are nice just lack the wow to me.

Our temperatures are way to hot for us to enjoy the outdoors.  During the day we dash out for a quick chore, then back  to the air conditioning.  Have I ever mentioned how much I hate ac?  Well I do!  It means it is above 80  and that is too hot for us.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love winter and snow?  Of course I have.  Give me a warm toasty house for baking and winter soups.  A walk in the crisp air or snow shoeing, roasting hot dogs and a thermos of coffee.  Those days that light my candle, float my boat or whatever the saying.  Not hard to figure out what memories I am pulling up to put that smile on my face.  It's only July 4th, little early to be thinking about winter.  Canning and freezing the harvest comes next.  Never wish time away Cheryle Anne Gross as my mom would tell me.  Always wishing for something down the road a little farther.  The road ends here.

Sandy Bottom
Let's pull up a summer memory of growing up around Shinglehouse in the 1960s.  Teens, what do you do?  Ride bikes, hike, picnics or go to the local swimming hole in the Oswayo Creek. The creek looks much smaller than when I grew up on the farm with the Oswayo flowing through.  If you graduated from our school you will remember the line in our Alma Mater, The Oswayo Flows.   I don't want to leave out the carnival that came to town every summer.  It seemed huge to me and filled the Fire Hall parking lot.  That was a time to see many people from our area.  Sandy Bottom or Ten Foot, yep that is where it was happening during the summer for us teens.  All was nice until the boys decided to pull you in, dunk you or chase you with a mud dog.  Those mud dogs were slimy nasty looking things that lived in the creek banks and swam in the water.  They were not easy to catch but when one was it was game on.  Girls screaming, running, begging and boys chasing, laughing with that mean laugh and wouldn't give up until a girl ended up getting one thrown at her.  What fun, nightmare material but young innocent fun.  It was like magic, everyone knew when it was time to head home, long before supper and dark.  There was a rope that usually boys only would swing from.  I look back now and know why the girls were there, not to swim but to watch the boys.  They were darn skinny but cute as heck!  We knew everyone and where everyone lived.  I think I would be pretty accurate in going up and down the streets and naming who lived where.  Most of the family names that had been there since I can remember.  Now I barely know the names of people in Shinglehouse.  A few old name brands but not many.  Life was good on those shady cool streets, no worries on something bad happening, all parents kept a close watch on all the kids.
This is what Sandy Bottom looks like now.  Hard to believe it was much deeper and wider when we swam there.  No shrubs or brush along the banks either.  Only a few large trees and one that had the rope to swing from.  Sad little stream now hardly deep enough to wade in.
This is the bank we would set on and lay in the sun.  Trust me it was a wide open space way back in 1960 something.

New bridge and new guard rails.  I guess I will have to dig in my box of "old" pictures for a picture of the old bridge. 

As I am typing my grandson's wife just sent me a picture of an apple pie he baked today from scratch.  It looks beautiful and the best part is he said, he got his gramma's genes!  Yes he did.  How do I know for sure?  Because he is as particular about mowing his lawn as I am.  We discovered that a couple weeks ago!  Gage and Sammy live in Illinois and will have a baby daughter in July around my birthday!  It is tough living so far apart but knowing they are happy, healthy and starting a family makes the miles melt away.
If we could drive to Illinois for a piece of pie and a few hugs!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Whatcha Do'n July 3, 2020

This is the lifesaver we have, such a difference it the growth of the garden being able to water when needed.
Well, we are starting a youtube channel.  It will be the hubs and only because with the low end equipment I have it is the only way I can share a video when using his phone.   I can use mine but sometimes it isn't with me.  My tablet takes videos but the color quality isn't great.  So, that being said the videos will be coming from various sources.  After this video plays you will see others, they are the channels Dick watches.  Most are outdoor channels or tiny house living.  I love those tiny houses!  We have a frame from our Canadian friends camper.  You guessed it, we will soon start building a tiny house on wheels for the back property.  Watching and gathering is what we have been doing for the last two years.  We started buying lumber for it last year.  Hoping to start once the garden slows down.  For some reason we just can't set still at Cook'n by the Creek.  The new addition will be........simple living with a view.  Looking at compost toilets and water reserve tanks.  Simple living at the finest!

This is what we did early this morning.  Finished watering the garden.  The new water pump that can be run off the tractor battery is a life saver.  Fill the blue barrel and water away.  Of course someone has to be the hose handler (me) so it won't drag over the plants.  That is a job I "hate", so boring just standing there feeding more hose or pulling it back.   Along with the garden we water about 26 young apple trees.  All but 9 were started from seed under grow lights in the basement and moved to the green house, then planted with safety tubes around them.  All the seeds were from apples I ate during the winter!  Seeds were put in a wet paper towel and in the refrigerator until early spring.  9 were given to us by our grandson.  It will be interesting to see how they compare in survival and growth.  Which ones will dominate?

Depending on what time of the day we water or work in the garden as to the drink of choice.  I will let you decide what we drink and when.....I love this place!
Of course good ol' Genesee!

Or fresh ground Jamaican Me Crazy coffee!
Oh baby look what we will be eating soon, yellow summer squash!  Dipped in buttermilk, then flour, fry in about an inch of oil, drain and salt and pepper while still hot.  Almost a daily lunch here!

Knee high by the 4th of July 🎆

May your Fourth of July be filled with good times, memories of past celebrations and  remembering why we are able to celebrate Independence Day!   Salute to all that put forth and will continue this legacy for our great USA. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


That word is coming up quite frequently around here.  The beautiful bouquets of Wild Phlox I pick every spring and early summer turns out not to be Phlox!  I follow the Farmer's Almanac and they had an article with a picture of Dame's Rocket.  There I sat staring in a trance wondering why I had never heard this before.  They describe the Dames Rocket with 4 petals ranging in colors of pink white and purple.  Still not convinced as I kept reading they told that a true Wild Phlox has 5 petals.  The Dame's Rocket was brought over from Europe for decoration around houses because it spreads so fast.  Yes, it sure does.  Since we moved to Clara in 1999 I have watched them spread up and down the creek and along the fields in great abundance.  They are an invasive plant.  Do I care, no!  They are still beautiful and smell wonderful when the wind blows and carries the sweet scent through the air.  I will still pick beautiful bouquets of them to enjoy and smell in the house. 

Dame's Rocket in a Precious little cup my grandson Gage gave me 27 years ago.
The other invasive is a tree called Sumac.  This is a real pain in the behind!  My husband spends hours every summer cutting down the new shoots.  The roots run like a train track under the ground and all along tree shoots will come up.  As I type he is out there lobbing off at least 60 of the new ones.  They just spread all over in our pine stand that we thinned out for lumber.  Cherry trees are growing too.  We want them and not have the Sumac choke out the young ones.  So it has been an ongoing battle.  Sumac does have a couple benefits, one the birds will eat on the wild berries all winter long which is a good thing.  The other is my husband will boil his hunting traps in a liquid made from the the bark and red flowers in the fall just before trapping season.  So they can grow where we don't care, just not in with the cherry trees and blackberry bushes. 

It has been weeks I have been talking about the green lush fields and hills here in Clara.  Yesterday while taking our usual walk around the property I notice the fields are going the other way.  Not as green because the grasses are going to seed and turning a golden and brown hue.  Too soon to see the green giving way to other colors.  The hills are still full and green, they will be that way for a couple months.  I also noticed how big the garden plants are and filling in the space between each row.  No more roto tiling until we put the garden to rest for the winter.  This is a time I hate to see end, young garden plants giving way to harvest time.  It is so exciting watching each plant push up through the ground and grow ever so slowly until one!  Look how big everything is.  That is where we are at right now.  I have been organizing the shelves in the basement getting ready to fill them with quart, pint and jelly jars.  Creature of habit, everything I do every year is the same. 
Check out the new invention my husband made me for yarn.  He has 3 more on the assembly line.  I usually wind my yarn into a ball for knitting.  Well it might take off and roll across the floor or I keep it in a container so it won't roll.  Then it hit me, what if I had something to wind it on that could set on the floor beside me or on the car floor.  Perfect, so far it is the best thing since ice cream🍧!  The most colors I knit with at one time are 4.  The next three will be on the same platform. This is a blanket for my great grandson that will arrive in September.   It is the little things that I love, simple solution to a very serious problem........if all were that easy.

One more thing that makes my life a little easier or fun.  When I was getting ready to make empanadas the other day I was dreading rolling the little circles of dough, because I hate cleaning up flour.  Thank goodness the mind was thinking how else to roll the dough.  I have a tortilla press!  Not knowing if it would work I thought, just one try, if not out comes the flour. It pressed a perfect circle at just the right thickness.  Now I will probably be making fry pies more often.  They are just little fruit filled circles folded in half, sealed and fried in oil.   Let cool, drizzle a glaze or sprinkle with confectioners sugar.  Kinda the grab and go pie!  Soon I will take some pictures of using the tortilla press making fry pies or tortillas and let you all see how great this $9.99 press works. 

Homemade corn tortillas are delicious and not hard to make!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Take a Walk With Me

Just a  tour of the barn, garden and the little walk we do at least 4 times a day.  We sure love it and if one of us doesn't say, wanna go to the garden the other does.  It is a huge part of our peace on earth.  Watching the change in the garden each day and always wondering will it produce.  Today while taking this video I was so happy to see pea blossoms on the peas!  Not there this morning, that is how fast it grows this time of year.  Just like our kids, a house with 3 and then "blink" they are gone to raise their own kids.  Full circle has almost come and gone for us and I must say it has been a hell of a ride.  Life is meant to be  the best you can make it, so just do it!

The video has poor color it really is a beautiful lush green but for some reason it looks rather washed out and gray.  I am not a photographer or video master so this is about it.  By the way if I sound out of breath towards the end........I was!  The first time on the tour I used my phone which has beautiful color but it will not download.  Second time with my laptop I didn't have the recorder on, so by the third time I was getting a little breathy...........kinda like how Marilyn Monroe would talk...just not as sexy looking!
The dogs have been stirred up over something by the little bridge.  Today Ellie was jumping in the air like a kangaroo and running back and forth towards the house.  Quincy ran out to save the day and they both went running to the little bridge.  Then the guy I live with came running to see what was going on.  It wasn't their usual chipmonk, squirrel or black bird bark.  We are thinking there is a Bobcat hanging around.  Dick saw one on the other side of the bridge early this morning.  For a couple days these two dogs have been on high alert so more than likely it's Bobcat.  Probably remembers all the chickens it took from us in years gone by.  This is the first year with no chickens,  the wild animals love fresh chicken meat.  I never penned the hens up because I am a let them roam and live free.  It was like watching a movie to see the chickens peck along and chase bugs.  Like the Randy Travis song, He'd sit in the shade and watch the chickens peck.  That song, I thought that he walked on water........was my oldest brother Bob.  We all thought he walked on water and he loved to sit in the shade and watch the chickens peck.  Always nice when writing this blog one thing leads to a beautiful memory of  so long ago.  The first time I heard the song was on the Army Base in Stuttgart, Germany.  We were getting ready to leave for home after visiting our son and he said, I got a song for you to listen to, it's Uncle Bob.  Well the tears flowed and we hugged to remember the guy that had also served in Germany during WWII.  Here's to you big brother, always in our hearts.  That wandering mind of mine, how do these fingers keep up on the keyboard!

Ok, what is a blog without a little food so here goes.
Chicken, black bean, cheese and green onion Empanadas with a mayonnaise, sour cream and homemade Chipotle Chili sauce mixed together.  Just mix the first four ingredients together, season with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Cut circles of pie crust, drop an amount of the filling, fold over and pinch together the edges to seal.  You can bake them, fry in oil or use the air fryer.  Your choice, my choice, we live in this great USA and we have a choice with our voice too :) They are very good, easy to take to a picnic and again you can dip them in anything you want, your choice :)
Empanadas and chipotle chili sauce.  Oh, and for cilantro lovers sprinkle some fresh leaves on top.  

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Is It Just Me

Is it just me or do others think it is lush and very green this year.  Everytime I look at the hills, take a ride or walk around our property here in Clara I am amazed at the green, lush beauty of it all.  Everything looks like it grows inches overnight.  It is a beauty that only nature can provide.  When we get a little rain it almost looks tropical.  The wild apple trees are loaded with so many little apples.  Soon a few will start dropping to give room for the ones left to mature.  Nature knows it is the survival of the fittest and to provide that there will be healthy fruit some must be lost for the cause.  The blackberry and raspberry bushes are also loaded with young fruit.  Like the garden only nature can make sure it will be a good harvest year.  By the first of August we should be picking berries for the freezer.  Jams, jellies and deserts will be made in the down time of winter.  With the amount of food being provided for the animals and us it may be one of those cold winters with lots of snow.  Natures survival for life.  If there is going to be a hard winter there must be a bountiful amount of food for the wild animals and for us. 

August will be canning month at Cook'n by the Creek.  Green beans and garden peas should be first followed by beets, carrots, corn, peppers and tomatoes.  September will be dig potatoes, we are hoping for over 100 pounds to put in the cellar.  They are growing and look very healthy.  Rutabagas are looking good too.  This is our first year for them.  Honeynut squash is a first too.  We bought some from a big Mennonite farm near Penn Yan last fall and decided to plant them.  They are like a butternut, just sweeter and great texture.  They keep in the basement like potatoes.  During the winter we will be able to dig parsnips from the garden.  They actually have a better flavor after the cold freezing temperatures set in.  Kinda fun to dig them up for supper on a cold winter day.
Only time will tell how much and how good the garden harvest will be.

Most of Saturday was in the garden doing little things that needed done.  The tomatoes were staked and lower branches pruned.  Next we will prune off the suckers.  I watched a youtube on how to increase the number of tomatoes per plant.  The idea of trimming the lower branches made sense.  We have had trouble with them rotting.  This way no branches will touch the ground and allow for air flow to help keep moisture down,  Something else we snipped the center of the pepper plant, this is to allow more branching out rather than grow tall.  It is also saying more peppers per plant.  Everything we do from planting, name of seeds we planted, fertilizing and pruning we keep in a garden diary for next year's reference.  We use to say remember this or that, ha!   Now we write it down.  It does no good to tell one another to remind me or him........those days are long gone.  Kinda nice because now we don't blame each other for forgetting.  One less, I told you to remind me! 

The knit blanket and doily will be put in the mail tomorrow on it's way to Illinois for our great granddaughter.  You know the saying, it's the thought that counts.  My thought is someday this little girl will be a woman and say, my great grandmother from Pennsylvania made this for me when I was born.  That makes my heart happy. 

Tonight we are setting on the back deck enjoying 71 degrees and a breeze that just makes ya want to smile.  What a night!  Two doe just came out of the woods headed for the grandson's food plots he has been working on since spring sprung.  The fields look beautiful with clover, corn and a few pumpkins mixed in the corn.  It is nice to see the young taking an interest in the land and preserving it to help the wild life.  Now if those deer know the difference from food plots to our off limit gardens..........4 ft orange fence has been put around the big garden but that doesn't mean they won't take a flying leap if they smell all the goodies. 

Listen.   Everyone must be home for the night, no traffic.  Just an occasional bird calling.  The Orioles are busy getting their jelly fix for the night. 

I must mention a very special lady we got to visit with today at her granddaughter's birthday celebration.  Bea West, what a joy to set with and talk of years gone by.  Sharp and I was happy to ask her a couple questions of people that I wasn't quite sure of from my younger years.  You know like what was their father's name, etc.  On top of that her sense of humor is right up there.  She had me laughing and sometimes in amazement.  Her love for speed!  Her son tattled on her about driving fast.  Bea, Burdette and their family have given so much to our valley and a lively hood  for so many families.  Hard work, never give up and carry on is what their family is known for.  What a day it was.

Saturday night supper, hot dogs with onions and German Mustard.  A dish of butter beans, one of our favorite meals and usually on Saturday night.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Friday Night in Clara

Fish bites, homemade fries and coleslaw.

Fish bites?  Yes, we like bite size instead of the whole filet.  Of course the fish has to be Icelandic Haddock in the blue and green wrapper.  It has been around forever in our neck of the woods.  Some are labeled Icelandic but by looking at it in the store it definitely is not the pure white filet.  So as many things, the older we get the less we tend to change.  The filet is rinsed in very cold water, patted dry and cut into bite size pieces to be fried in about an inch of oil.  I would prefer lard but that is almost impossible to come by.  I still have a little stash in the freezer  tucked away for a special pie on a special occasion.  The french fries are cut thin (no thick fries here) covered in cold water for a few hours in the refrigerator.  About an hour before frying I drain them, pat dry and leave on a towel to warm up a bit for the oil.  Once the oil is hot enough I put the fries in until the foaming stops and the fries look limp with no color.  Out they come, drain and let the grease come up to temperature again.  In goes the fries and watch them turn golden brown and crisp.  This is called the double fry and works like a charm!  No greasy soggy fries, ever.  Coleslaw is 3 cups of  fine shredded cabbage, add 2 Tbsp of sugar and 2 Tbsp of cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper and enough mayonnaise to make a creamy slaw.  Another way I make it is leave out the cider vinegar and and add a 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple.  We like it both ways.  That my friends is usually our Friday night supper.

Rain moved in during the night and by this afternoon it is calling for severe thunderstorms.  The tomato plants need staked before the storm hits.  That will be the next thing on the agenda.  First was the husband rewiring a utility trailer that has been hodged  podged with wiring spliced and all colors.  Materials bought and soon we will see the lights :)  There is always little things to keep us busy through out the day around here in the summer.  Maybe that is why I like winter and all the snow.  Rest in the valley after a summer of doing and doing.  Not complaining, move it baby, the daylight will soon be less and less.

Yep, we are on the downhill slide for day light, warm summer nights, gardening and a cold Sangria on the deck.  A few things that are always in my freezer, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.  When the wine is not chilled just throw in a handful of berries, not watered down with ice and oh so good to eat when the glass is empty of wine.  I tried a new Sangria white wine this summer, Carlo Rossi!  Oh it is good, a couple different flavors, tonight  the pineapple Sangria.  The best part, $6. a bottle!  Usually my favorites are around 14 to 16 a bottle.  I am an expensive wine expert😂

Stay safe and vigilant.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Like Riding a Bike

I have been without a lap top since last December.  It was by choice and I really thought I could do everything I wanted on a tablet and my phone.  Apparently not with the ease of the laptop and typing with two hands as I learned in high school.  Yay for me I loved typing and still can hit the keys and fly through this blog.  Shame on me for struggling so long, that just shows how stubborn, bull headed or defiant I am.  That one finger or two finger key hit just isn't for me.  I had several blogs started and just couldn't finish them.  It was so time consuming and down right eating my nerves away.  For a couple months I have been looking and searching for a laptop that fit my needs and didn't feel like I was over spending my fun money.  This Acer fit the bill, but the real "seal the deal" do  all ten fingers fit on the keys to make it enjoyable and fast.  The fingers needed to be able to keep up with my mind.....always speeding along.  I went to Olean this morning, downed the mask and let the fingers be the final yay or nay.  Like riding a bike, once you learn you don't forget,same with the keyboard!  You know the Acer keyboard fit just fine because here I am with kazillions of stories, thoughts and memories to tell.  I have been reading past blogs and what I read on the most part I liked.  It is my own personal diary on my life and a few others.  Eventually I will print them all and "pass them on" to my children and grandchildren.  Why?  Do I really think that they are just waiting to read it all?  Not really but hoping somewhere through the years it will be important to read about what life was like from 1949 to the day it ends.  So far so good, 71 in a few weeks and still happy, healthy and going strong.  Maybe even with a song in my heart and a whole lot of love.

This will be more like an introductory of what has been going on since last November, just a little catch up.  We are going to be Great Grandparents.  The little girl will be born around my birthday the end of July.  Gage and Sammy Bryant live in Illinois.  With this crazy covid 19 it may be a while before we make the trip and get a little cuddling in.  I wish it could be sooner than later but she needs protected at all costs so we will be happy with pictures and face time.  In September Connor and Avery Bryant will have a baby boy.  Same, it will be pictures and face time. Would do nothing to get this little boy sick, so distance it will be.  Bart and Deb will be grandparents.  What an exciting time for this family!

The garden is in and by the looks the corn will be well over knee high by the 4th of July.  All farmers from years passed were happy to see it knee high by the 4th.  They knew it would be eared out and ready to harvest before the fall frosts hit.  As crazy as the weather has been the lush green hills and valleys are thriving.  So far a good year for the garden but you know that could change in a second.  Rain, wind, hail, lack of rain, little sunshine, bugs, deer, bear!  You name it,  that garden and success depends on so many things.

The Baltimore and Orchard Orioles have been plentiful this season.  They are eating about 10 ounces of grape jelly everyday.  The Rose Breasted Grossbeaks and little English Wrens are also helping eat with the jelly.  A 20 ounce jar every other day.  Then the oranges but they prefer the jelly.  Not so much work, just grab, eat, grab and go back to the nest.  We have around 6 males B. Orioles and 2 Orchard males.  How many for sure who knows!  I just know how many are waiting on the rope swing or porch rail to eat.  We have two feeding stations and both have waiting birds. No, they are not social distancing.  They even get a little feud going on if they get impatient.  This is our most enjoyed times of the day, breakfast and supper on the porch with a view and birds to entertain us and give us some beautiful listening music.  I don't know one bird call from another but the guy I live with..........he does so I do the google thing and say to him, what bird is that?

The Orioles, free loaders !

Enjoy your day, take time to be in the great outdoors, rest, close your eyes and think how lucky we are to live in our great Oswayo Valley.  We have so little to do here but so much to enjoy, and remember "Pass it On" .  The best things that can be given or received are free.  

Friday, November 22, 2019

Snow White

There is the finished product in all the white glory.
Not the fairy tale and not the snow.  LARD!  If it is not snow white then it is not Grade A or 5 Star.  Anything less than snow white is not for pies and pastries.   You can use it for frying or fresh made tortillas.  Even then the lard should be a light beige.  If darker it was burnt during rendering and it will ruin the taste of anything you are making. 
 It has been a few years since I have had leaf fat for rendering to lard.  The last was from my son in North Carolina.  Lard makes the absolutely best pie crust ever!  I mean it is such a flaky pie crust you could choke on a crumb.  At least that is how my niece describes her pie crusts and I will have to agree with her even though she does not use lard.  She would if she had it!  Her apple pies are known through out the family and friends circle.  If you have been lucky enough to get one you will know what I mean.

 Lucky for me (and everyone that will eat the pies)  my grandson met a guy this summer from Darien Lake, NY.  He has quite the farm and raises some very special pigs that produce 60+ pounds of leaf fat from each pig.  It is top grade leaf fat.  Truthfully I have never had the leaf fat melt in my hand as I was cutting it up to render!  Beautiful pure white and rendered at a very low temperature and quickly.  I just can't say enough about it.  For sure I will get my name on the list to buy more.   Yes it is even worth the drive to pick it up.  This time we met at Dansville, NY where he works at the emergency room at the hospital.  That is where my grandson met him while doing rotations last summer. Good for him for thinking of his Gram and telling all the crazy things I do.  I am walking in tall cotton for this lard... Thank you Michael Parkot at "Always Something Farm"!  Great products and the pork chops?  Well, they were amazing.

I could not keep my hands out of it!  Of course once it was too hot to handle I had to.  If you see lard in the grocery store................well all lards are not created equal.  That meaning store lard is not as healthy and certainly not made from prime leaf fat.  

As I was cutting it not only did it melt on my hands but also on the cutting board.  When I scraped it off it looked like it had already been rendered which it hadn't.

The hardest part is going ever so slow, keeping the heat low and stirring often to keep track of not getting to hot.  Hot will burn it and that we don't want.  I always say, never cry over anything that can't cry for you......but, but this could surely put me close to crying if I burned the lard.  I didn't!  So it is "pie on" for a few months.  I have 2 1/2 qts that will made quite a few pies through the cold winter months.
This is what is looks like after strained and poured into the I sure it will be pure white.....

It is hard to believe that next week will be Thanksgiving and December will soon be here.  My mom always told me the older you get the faster time goes.  I think she would tell me that when I was wishing for 13, or 16.  Which makes me think of something my son said, be careful what you wish for it could come true.  It did, I got older, really older and time just seemed to fly by. 

Peace to all and pass it on, what ever it may be to help others.  Quiet and be humble is best.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

What Does Summer Bring?

What does summer bring...........let me start with all the things I love that bring good memories and new memories.

First would be the warm summer days that make the grass, flowers, garden and even the weeds grow.  Without them life would not be so green and colorful.  Not to forget the beautiful hills of Potter County.  We are saddled between some high ones in our little narrow Clara Valley.  My son made the comment a few years ago while visiting from his home in Central NC that we don't know a storm is coming until it is right on top of us.  That is so true!  Never thought much about that.  Like all other times of this season the garden is growing in leaps and bounds...........just like other summers we wondered if it would produce.  It is, peas, beans, cucumber and beets will be picked soon.  Radishes were mighty hot this year but I tried what our Canadian friend said his mom did with radishes when he was growing up.  He is now over 80 years and still talks of his mom's cooking and canning.  Ok, radishes, she fried them!   Last night I fried some for supper.  I like them!  The guy that has lived with me for almost 52 years, no.  They have the texture of a parsnip but a slightly bitter taste which I liked.  Very refreshing.  Just fry in butter,  then salt and pepper .  I really like trying new things and tastes.  My daughter took me to a place that serves Poke Bowls with raw spicy tuna..........I liked it!  And dessert was a bowl of ice cream with little bursting pearl balls filled with juice.  About the size of a salmon egg or tiny pea.  That was delicious and I plan to go back!

What else is a good thing?  Wild raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries!  Along with the much cherished morning and evening walks we stop to pick raspberries and strawberries.  Strawberry season has come and gone, now the raspberries are in full swing and next will be the blackberries.  If you have never had these berries from the wild you must look for them!  Amazing how much tastier than store bought or even the ones we can pick at farms.  There is just something about Mother Nature that can do it perfect.

I mentioned our morning walks with the fog still heavy and the grass wet with dew.  Cool breezes coming down from the hill makes it a perfect time to take the dogs to the fields and forest.  I did say dogs.......we hav one male named Quincy that is 8 years old.  For some reason we let our grandkids suggest another one.  A 10 week old Aussie puppy that is full of life.  We are really enjoying El/Ellie what ever comes out of your mouth when trying to teach her manners or scold her.  Very lucky, she is just as amazing as Quincy was at her age.  House broke!  Now to get her to come when we ask her to.  I would say she is 60/40.  These two keep us moving rather that set around in our down time.
Ellie meeting Quincy!

Cooling down

I think we love her!

Another favorite for summer, mowing and brush hogging.  For me life doesn't get much better than in the fields looking at the hills and valley views.  Even on hot humid days it is still my favorite pass time.

During the day when the sun is hot and the air humid it is the perfect time to take the lawn chairs, set them in Clara Creek and cool down.  Only to our ankles of course but setting there in the shade watching the dogs play and even splash us now and again takes away the heat of the day.  I like summer very much but nothing above 75 degrees.  July and August tend to get me ready for the crisp cool days of fall.

By the days end and when the sun has dropped behind the hill it is time to take another walk, the view never changes but to see it in a different light is worth getting up out of the chair.  This way we get more exercise, the dogs theirs plus tire them out for a good nights sleep.  We decided a long time ago it also tires us into a relaxing nights sleep.  Setting out watching the lightning bugs is also a way to relax, no sounds around, just peace and quiet with the little diamond lights blinking in the dark.  I am sure this is not for everyone but it keeps us thinking there is peace on earth.

Summer brings beautiful song birds to our feeders.  This year we had plenty of Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles, Finches, Humming Birds and others that my husband knows by name.  Not me I just say what color they are and he says the name.

The other thing I like about summer is the cool mornings so I can bake a treat for the week.  This morning it was chocolate fudge brownies with walnuts.
Afternoon break!

That is the top picks for what summer brings around here as far as the good things.  To be continued in the next blog on what I don't like about summer......Thank goodness they are few and far between!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Fog on the Hill

This has been a spring and summer for all day rain, half a day, every so often or just when it takes a mind to have a thunderstorm roll through.  Today is the rolling thunderstorms, dark sky and pounding rain.   Of course we have had the windows up and down every now and again.  They are down now and looks like they will be for quite a while.  The rain has been fast and furious with eaves running over and spilling through the lawn.  Yesterday I had just made the comment that Clara Creek is back to summer low, it should be raging by the end of this storm.  Rain is good, I hate to complain although my main concern is the young garden plants and the flowers.  All of our flowers have grown so tall this year, taller than I can recall.  Hoping that they will produce many seeds for next year  for us to give to friends that have requested them.  Like all things, nature rules and there is not a thing we can do about it.  On a bright note, the truck is getting a nice rinsing from all directions..first the storm came up Clara Valley and now it has switched and going down the valley. 

Remember the saying, fog on the hill, brings water to the mill,  fog climbing the hill  water in the mill?  Well, lately it has been on the hill and climbing the hill!

 We have had a busy week around here with Bart and Deb from NC and Beau with his 3 sons and daughter from MD.  It was a great time and it doesn't happen often (like maybe once a year if we are lucky)  that we can all be together.  From the little ones playing in Clara Creek, hiking, target shooting, water balloons and a slip and slide their Aunt Amber bought them it was non stop.  Good food, drinks, conversation and just good old relaxing to enjoy the view and quiet of Clara. 

Now it is time to get back to our daily work schedules of lawn mowing, weeding the garden and odd projects that need to be finished before the frosts of fall come.  By the looks of the blackberry bushes they should be plentiful this year.  Usually they are ripe around the first week of August.  The blueberries are coming on a little later this year although they are nice sized.  Again, nature rules.

Of all the fruits we harvest this is the most prized of all.  Figs from our fig bush.  We keep and close watch on them and when they are sweet, tender and ready to pick we have been known to sneak out and eat them without letting the other know they did.  This type of fig is amazing and not too many days go by that we don't mention we are hoping for a big crop this year.  Last year they never developed to the edible size and ripeness, maybe this year.

We are blessed to have the perfect family take ownership of the cabin we built.  Everyone is excited as the cabin will insure the kids and grandkids will all have a place to visit and enjoy.  It will be exciting to see the lights on across the road when they are here.  Welcome Bart and Deb Bryant  and all the family that takes advantage of staying in Clara, PA.

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Pocket Comb

Well here I go again remembering something that I haven't thought of or seen in many years.  Like, maybe 40+.....  It was such an important little thing that all the teenage guys carried in their back right pocket of their trousers, pants and then blue jeans.  Now maybe not always the right side, if they were left handed I am sure it was the left pocket.  For the young folks watch a rerun of Happy certainly will see "The Fonz"  pull that comb out and do what thousands upon thousands of guys did.  Ha!  I can still see my brothers and my husband like it was yesterday.  That slick pull of the comb, the other hand following along behind the comb as they combed that hair back in the perfect way.  Some where flat tops with the sides long and whipped back, some had the "big wave" on top, what ever they all looked in that wet look.  My brothers used sugar dissolved in water to keep it in place.  Just like hair spray, gel or mousse does now a days.  So if you are my age or there about give or take a few years, or more, you know exactly what I am talking about.  I bet it hasn't taken you more than a second to bring up the memory of certain guys with that smooth move of  "the comb". 

My husband carried one until his late 30s.  You know what happened?  No need to get into the fine details.  What was nice about the pocket comb was,  he could always comb the kids hair on our way some where.  I usually did the lick and a promise which the boys hated.  Who wants to see someone (even mom) lick her fingers and come at them knowing it was either going to smooth the hair down or clean their face.   Geez, and all the memories of the "pocket comb" started while I was cutting the husband's hair the other day! 

Last week the peonies were at their finest in bloom and aroma.  They only last about a week and it just makes me sad to know they will be gone for another year.  What to do?  I pulled the petals off and poured very warm water over to let them steep for about 30 minutes.  Oh did it smell good.  I bottled it up, in the frig it went.  It is suppose to be good for the skin.  Why not? It was free, I have everything to gain if I like the results.  Desperate times need desperate tries............How did I get the face and body of a 69 year old woman?  My mind certainly doesn't think it is 69........ok, in a few week it will be 70....gahhhhh 

Ready to crush the petals.

The finished product!  Love the shade of pink.

This morning was the joy of eating breakfast on the back deck with the Orioles, that had grape jelly and oranges,  they Rose Breasted Gross Beaks that hate sunflower seeds and the humming birds that of course drank nectar.  All of them are bringing their little ones around and soon they will be gone and heading to better weather.  About September we will see the last of them.  What did we eat?  Beautiful fresh eggs from my nephew.  The kind with the dark orange yolk that tastes good and looks good.  What a way to start the day. 
Look at the beautiful orange yolk with the sun shinning on it!  

Yes, that is Salt Rising Toast :)

Happy 4th of July.  Remember what it means........God Bless the USA.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

It's working, I'm working, everything is ok!

For the longest time the blogger situation was not up to snuff.  For some reason it insisted that everything was changing by a certain date and I wouldn't be able to blog under the new improved way.  So, being bull headed, mean and stubborn (all of the listed, a lot)  I ignored checking on it.  That is until today.  I can only knit, read, cook, do lawn work and gardening work for so long and then it is time to blog.  Especially with all the rain we have been getting.  There has been just a day or so that would let the sun shine and the wind blow to dry the lawn and fields long enough for me to get the John Deere tractors out and cut a little grass.  The field brush hogging is my all time summer fun.  I am "walking in tall cotton" when I am seeing nothing but green hills and fields, a few wild animals and clear blue skies.  It is where I find peace on earth, where deep breaths of clean fresh air relax my well being.   Just me, the sound of the tractor and the view.  I honestly think I could mow all day everyday and never tire of it.

The garden was put in about 3 weeks later than usual since the rain, wind and threat of frosts were frequent.  Finally we tilled and planted.  Everything is in and everything is coming through.  Peas, beans, corn, potatoes, winter squash, summer squash, cucumbers, radishes, beets, tomatoes and hot peppers.  Wait, didn't I say last August that we were downsizing the garden???  Why yes I did and NO we didn't.  I knew in my heart that once we had our winter's rest, sat around just "toe tapping" and waiting for warm weather we would be right back at it.  We are fortunate to be granted another year of the will and health to do what we love.  So remember, come August after all the summer work and canning the harvest I will say, next year not such a big garden...............

One thing all of this rain has brought is beautiful lush green from hills to fields, flowers and shrubs.  It just seems like everything has doubled in size around here.  Even the blueberry bushes are busting with beautiful leaves and lots of blueberries that should be ready to pick around July 4th.  Our wild apple trees are beautiful but not producing apples this year.  Sure hope the orchards around the Finger Lakes are loaded.  I just used the last bag of frozen apples for an apple pie.  I love buying all kinds from the big bins, my best apple pies are mixing different types.  The rhubarb came on strong and then fizzled out, not sure what is going on with it.  I usually have plenty and give some away.  Not this year,  I got 3 batches of strawberry/rhubarb jam and a batch of rhubarb sauce.  The end, no more growing, just little stems that are not worth harvesting.

We have been lucky to have friends visit us and the weather was nice enough to set on the back porch, have a few of our favorite drinks and snacks but best of all talk old times with the ones we grew up with.  After everyone leaves we always say, "that was a good time with lots of laughs".

Pass it on, a good laugh is a good cure all around here!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Hello February and Hello Mush

February sure stepped up to the plate, knocking January right out of the park!  I guess we will change the phrase, January Thaw to February Thaw.  It didn't take long to have those sub zero days become just a memory.  During the deep freeze I did get the show shoes out and take a trip around the back field.  Snow was deep, wind was bitter but it was a mind cleansing refreshing kinda time.  So beautiful were the snow waves and drifts, You could tell how the wind would come up the valley and then head back down.  All the little wavy lines in the snow were going every which way in certain areas.  Snow drifts always amaze me and actually mesmerize me.  I stopped took a few pictures and just stared at how they hang over in big graceful snow blopps without falling.  Today I am sure they have collapsed with the temperature near 60 and the hot sun of winter beating down.  No snow shoes today, just the waterproof hikers, a dog, cocoa and of course the husband.  Off we went for two hours enjoying the quiet hills and valleys as we walked along looking at wild animal tracks.  This is one of our favorite things to do when snow is on the ground.  The woods is so quiet, even with Quincy running like a wild dog chasing tracks in the snow or marking the spot it was peaceful.  Every once in a while one of us would stop and say........."it is so darn beautiful and quiet up here".   I often wonder if everyone had the chance to take one of these walks if they would have the same reaction.  It really does feel like peace on earth out there in the woods.  Wouldn't trade it for all beaches in the world.  And......I love a good beach every now and again.  If there just was not so many people that loved it too I might share my woods days with the beach more often. 
What a cute little drift.

and the other side says, Airborne...This cup has been around for about 28 years.

Below zero and shaking berries down for the deer.  Clara's one and only "Big Foot"

How many have heard of corn meal mush?  The traditional way is to cook 1 cup of cornmeal and 4 cups of water for about an hour, stirring constantly until thick but still spreadable.  Pour it in a greased bread pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Slice, roll in flour lightly and fry in part butter, lard, Crisco grapeseed oil or coconut oil.  Just make sure you use butter, too, everything is better with butter.  Don't use oil.  Oil makes it oily.   So that is what you will find if you google fried cornmeal mush.  Now here is how my mom fixed it and was our favorite.  Instead of putting the cooked mush in a bread pan spread it thin on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 until golden brown around the edges and crispy on bottom and top.  The inside will have a creamy texture in areas where the mush was thick.  Spread butter, salt and pepper on top and break up into pieces in a cereal bowl.  Pour maple syrup and warm milk over top.  I am telling you every kid  I raised and my husband loves baked corn meal mush.  I do too!  It is that food to take ya back to the farm on Horse Run Rd.  I can still see my mom putting it in the bowls and me being so excited to set down to eat.  Well, for about a week the husband has been saying, ya know what sounds good?   I knew before he even told me.  It is a pain to stand and stir the mush but I tried something new.  The instapot my dil bought me!  It works great.  No stirring, just hit the button that says, porridge.  I have been making steel cut oats in it so I was pretty sure (or wishful thinking) that the mush would be ok too.  About the steel cut oats, I use 1 cup oats and 4 cups of water for a batch.  That gives me one cup a day for breakfast.  Keeps great in the frig.  Oh the easy way out to do things now a days.  How did I manage?
Corn meal mush ready for the oven.

Ta Da......breakfast is ready in all it's goodness, Cook'n by the Creek at least.