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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Dead of Winter

So often growing up I heard, in the dead of winter.  Usually the time between mid January and February this comment was made.  It was a time everything slows to only the cows being fed, milked and "drops" being cleaned twice a day.  Early morning before daylight off to the barn my dad and mom would go to get the feeding and milking done.  Way back then the milk was carried to the milk house by buckets, one in each hand.  This is called the farmer's walk.  You don't want to carry just one bucket, that would make you lop sided, two evens out the walk.  It was then poured into a large strainer atop a milk can.  Once filled my dad would lift them into the milk cooler.  Easy to see why farmers were lean, strong and hard working people.  Mom would wash the cows teats with a disinfectant.  Even back then it was important to be a clean dairy farmer.  The better milk plants only took the cleanest of farmer's milk.  Ours went to Port Allegany.  In fact when my brothers were young they hauled milk to the milk plant for farmers in the area.  Then off to the military one by one until all three had left home.  Our farm was run by mom and dad, never a hired hand.  That meant putting in hay, ensilage and oats by themselves on top of milking twice a day.  Long days, no vacations and rest only from sun down to sun up.  Now, the dead of winter was a welcome time for the farmer even getting out in the snow, cold and windy mornings at 5 am.  This was a time my dad would read or watch Gun Smoke and Raw Hide.  Mom would knit, crochet and sew trying to get as much done before Spring arrived and all the farm work that would start all over again.  As I think of all she did it amazes me how many will never know what a farmer's wife did in a day.  From meals, baking, mending, milking and cleaning.  How would the modern woman ever be able to do all this?  Can you imagine never having time to get on the Internet?  Just work and be glad you can and have what you have. 

My mom was proud of her clean house and all she could do.  Not once did I ever hear her complain.  Oh, I take that back!   She would get upset that I didn't take better care of my room.  Looking back I know why, she grew up POOR.  I mean poor, back then no free things, a man worked at what he could and that was what the family lived on.  My grandfather came from Germany at a very young age,  When old enough he worked in the Glass Factories from Ohio to southern PA and finally ending up at one in Shinglehouse.  Poor.  In fact if you want to know how poor some people were, google The Poor Houses in our area.  If they were lucky enough to get into one.  Life is what we make it, enjoy it or change it. 

Alright back to the dead of winter.  Around Cook'n by the Creek we try to keep busy, take breaks to read, check out what is new on the Internet, me knit and Dick build a few things.  He is in the basement working on a pull cabinet to go between the frig and stove at the cabin.  It is only 10 inches wide and will be on wheels so I can pull it out.  This is where I will store all of my spices, oils and types of vinegar.  Next he is building a cabinet for under the frig that will have a drawer and be used for potatoes and onions.  Finally open shelves for over the sink for what ever I decide will look best.  Every little space will have a purpose at the cabin/house.  We are still planning on selling our house and moving to the cabin.  Kind of exciting to plan the next phase of our life. 

Last but not forgotten our deer and bunny friends.  They get fed twice a day now.  Usually the deer have been coming late afternoon or after dark.  We keep a trail camera on to make sure coyotes aren't hanging around.  So far none.  We do hear them occasionally barking and yipping.  It is breeding season so we will be hearing quite a bit from them.  The deer came down at 11:30 am today during the worst part of the storm, stayed quite a while eating and then off they ran to the woods.  One lone guy stopped by about 4:30.  He got the gourmet meal.  Dick had just refilled with feed and corn but the treat was chopped up butternut squash!  The deer love it and we have quite a few left in the cellar from the garden.  Once a week Dick chops up one for them.  We have decided next spring we will be planting squash and pumpkins for winter feed for the deer.
Happy to feed the deer and bunnies.  Our entertainment in the dead of winter.
Even only being January we are already talking garden among other things.  I am hoping to stick to our plan and cut back this year.  We plant way to much and give more than we use away. Except for the potatoes, corn and squash.  I will still plant enough to give to my niece and daughter.  Gardens are had work, especially is a 4 week span of ......WEEDS!  For some reason they grown out of control for about 4 weeks, once the garden plants get big enough then the weeds get choked out.  Seed catalogues have arrived daily, fun to look at but I like to buy locally.  Dickerson's at Riverside in Wellsville have a great variety of everything we need.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Old Habits

The saying, old habits are hard to break.  Maybe because we don't want to break them, they are just fine doing what they have done for 69 years give or take.  How do I come up with this thought, who the heck knows.  It is after the storm, lots of snow, plenty of cold and wind.  It is Monday, laundry day, make a grocery list for Wednesday shopping and there ya have it.  A couple of my old habits.  For some reason sitting quietly thinking and planning meals with a piece of paper and pen is one of my favorite times to relax.  I tried putting the list on my phone but for some reason it just doesn't float my boat, light my candle, etc.  That paper and pen is like old school.  Plus.....I hate walking around with phone in hand looking at the list in a store.

The previous blog was before and preparing for the storm.  Now it is after and taking care of all the snow that piled up.  Dick's job is moving it around with the tractor, shoveling spots for the deer and birds to come eat their goodies and start engines to make sure they will start.  My two jobs, making sure the porch is cleared off and shoveling the walk to the driveway.  Now we are ready to enjoy the snow, do a little snowshoeing and maybe a nice hot dog roast in the woods.  I am not a hot dog person but there is something about a roasted one over an open fire, burnt of course.  I have also been waiting for lots of snow to get the Snow Fire blanket outdoors for pictures.  Today is the day while the snow is clean with out tracks in it.
This is by far my favorite knitting accomplishment.

Double knit, reversible.

One thing about snow storms, they always sound like it will last for days and days.  Not around here, 2 or 3 days is about it.  Today the sun is shining but oh so cold.  Still nice to be out and smell the clean fresh air.  We actually woke up at midnight last night to see the beautiful eclipse of the moon.  What a sight!   Right on time the clouds broke away to give us full view.

Let's talk old habits!  That Monday do the wash thing and change bedding.  For some reason any other day just doesn't work for me or I am not willing to change old habits.  Even when I worked the laundry went in before work or after on Monday.  Groceries were always on Thursday because that was pay day.  One habit that has been broken and long forgotten, ironing.  Now even if hung on the line outdoors there are usually no wrinkles.  The only ironing I do is if we are going somewhere special, then it is a quick press to touch up from hanging in the closet.  I just threw my ironing board away and now in the hunt for a small one that hooks on the back of a door.  Not sure they make them anymore but that is what I want.

Then there is food, it seems to always be about food around here.  Watching the snow fall, the cold winds blow and the quiet of Clara Valley calls for some good old fashioned comfort food.  Or not.  I have been watching cooking shows on you tube from foreign countries.  Asian and Eastern seems to be the ones that I have been thinking..........that looks delicious.  For Sunday we had Flat Bread or Naan, depending on the country.  Fresh sauteed yellow, zucchini, onions, red sweet peppers, carrots and garlic with some curry, cumin, coriander, garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil.  Then for a sauce it was Tatziki which is Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, onion, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.  No meat but it wasn't missed.  Of course Dick had his requested cinnamon rolls for an early evening snack.  It has been quite interesting learning to cook new foods.  Mongolian Beef with fried rice and spring rolls have also been very good.  Not sure what next weekend will bring for something new but I am sure it will be something with a foreign flare.
Flat bread, 3 ingredients and so easy!
A little Mideastern food.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Waiting for Snow

I remember my mom saying throughout my young age of single digits and early teens.........the calm before the storm.  That was a saying that came back to me yesterday while getting ready for the "big snowfall" we are predicted to get.  Dick was busy filling the bird feeders, taking corn to the deer and putting out vegetable scraps for the bunnies. We feed them all because they are the best channel to tune into.  Nature at its finest.  We have a little 7 point buck that comes every afternoon just before dark.  Usually about the time we are setting down for our supper.  What a view, he is an alert little guy, eat a bite, look around and then move to the next treat laid out for him.  I watched him all through deer season and when he showed up it was........whewwww,  he made it through another day.  Just a small bodied buck, young but has a promising rack for years to come.  If he stays smart.  That darn "buck in rut" season can make ever the old wise one lose their common sense.
Time to feed the deer.

"Little buck"  comes a running through the pasture for corn.
 The next thing on the husband's list for storm prep was putting the blade on the tractor for plowing,  check the oils and give it a once over.  We bought that John Deere the first year we moved to Clara, 20 years ago, 1999.  It has not cost us more than oils and gas until last summer.  Dick had Dan Austin and his son Merle give it a few replacement parts.  They did a great job on getting John D. operating like a new young man.  We sure have put that tractor through the work.  From brush hogging the fields, pushing dirt, gravel, manure, snow, and hauling wood and hay,  it has earned its keep.  Here is to 20 more years..................  The last thing was getting the snow shoes and poles out.  We are hoping for some nice winter walks after the snow, come on snow.  As I set here by the fire writing a truck went by pulling a huge snowmobile trailer.  Some one is coming to their camp for the snow.  Good for them!
A few years ago but hopefully will look like this tomorrow.

 We try to stay busy during the winter days with little piddly things that we have no time for in the busy seasons around Cook'n by the Creek.  Dick is building a "shave horse" since he is going to try carving.  A shave horse is built of wood, kinda looks like the shape of a horse and holds wood while he shaves big pieces down to little ones.  It looks neat and very rustic since he built it from scrap wood and iron wood branches.  The only cost, a few long screws from Norton Supply.  From the looks of it, the shaving should begin this weekend.  Mornings are always check the traps.  There is one wise old Mr. Fox out smarting the trapper.  Who will win?   Time will tell.  Then there is skinning the fox that were taken and from the looks of them will make beautiful tanned hides.
The warmth of the basement.

 Now, what is the wife's duties for preparing for the storm?  Making sure we have everything we need to eat.  Tuesday we headed out of the valley to gather the few things.  Tomorrow homemade bread and cinnamon rolls will be warming the house and making it smell so good.  We are very lucky, if the storm takes out electric we still have gas heat and cook stove.  That is it for my duties.   The rest of my days consist of reading, knitting and watching "how to" you tube videos.  They are my go to on anything I want to learn.  Right now I am learning the German Short Row for a sweater I am knitting.  All too soon winter will be over and the busy season will begin so while I can I am going to enjoy the peace and serenity of winter snow.
Good place for coffee and you tube.

The sweater

Couldn't resist watching the fire as I knit.

I will end this with the memories of Dick's beautiful ride, Smokey.  We have had him since 2000 and everyday was about watching him, Dick riding, feeding, brushing, hauling hay and loving every minute.  Even when he would crash the fence and repairs would be made he was worth his weight in gold.
                                                              Happy Trails Smokey

He was a spunky guy!

     For the love of horse and man.

                                           7/2000 - 12/2018

Thursday, November 1, 2018

An apple that Shines

It is the time of year that a bowl of apples is displayed on the counter.  Walking past it today an old memory jumped right at me.  Smiling and heading to the butter bowl I knew exactly what was wrong with all those apples.  No shine!  Been a long time since I had thought about the bowl of apples my mom always had out in the fall.  It all came back the day I asked her why she rubs butter on the apples.  Her answer was just as smooth as silk, or maybe butter.  They should look pretty with a nice shine, not a lot of butter, just enough to make the shine.  So my apples now look pretty and have that shine.  Remember, it is always in the presentation.
Which bowl would be your pick for a tasty apple?
Fresh off the trees and dull......

A little butter with the apple! 
Another day, another rain drop or kazillions!   I never thought I would not be able to put the lawn to bed for winter but this year it happened.  The husband took out the mower batteries, conditioned the gas and tucked them away until the end of April of 2019.  The grass really needs to be cut back before the snow falls.  Now this is my theory, so come spring we will see if the lawn looks any different than other years.  Did I say 2019?  Good God Almighty, it just does not seem possible.  Age has a way of putting the BAM on us.  Can you imagine back in 1967 if someone would have told me how the years would change so many things that I do?  Why I am sure I never even dreamed I would be this old because back then  30 was ancient in my mind.  So on life goes with all the new ways of doing things.  Maybe that is why I like looking back, learning to do things as was a long long time ago.  Or it could be I like to bring the memories of those innocent (and sometimes not so innocent) years of growing up.  One thing for sure I have never forgotten the not so innocent times.  None that I am ashamed of, some that I would like to have done differently and some that I would do exactly the same way if given the choice.  Never forget where you come from, who you are and who you want to be.  Every day is a day of learning.  The good, the bad and the in between. 

Speaking of learning..............sour dough starter for sour dough bread.  Today was day 6 of feeding it.  Yep, it is alive!  Some days I think it is not working and then a day comes along that holy let it raise.  I am hoping it will be ready before the 10 days, it says 7-10 days and it will be ready to make bread.  Everyone is excited around here for the big day.  I keep saying, it is a learning thing.  It will be terrific if my first time is a go but not going to give up if it flops.  Like my husband says, I am too stubborn and mean to give up or sometimes when he talks nice he says, you have more patience than I would.  Either way sour dough started and the finished bread will be a challenge.  Am I up to it?   Time will tell, again!  By the way, do you know how many times I look at the jar of starter a day......too often for sure.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Boiled Cider?

Have you ever heard or tried boiled cider?  Never have I, but that is soon to change as far as the tasting goes it will be soon.  One of my favorite cooking channels on You Tube was making an apple skillet cake using boiled apple cider.  He is a pretty interesting old guy....probably a few years older than me.  I told ya he was old!  He lives in Canada, built a tiny cabin on his property and films some of his vlogs on cold winter days from the cabin.  He  has a great garden, many varieties of fruit trees and fruit bushes.  Oh, he has chickens.  Has to be a nice guy if he likes chickens.  Ok, back to the boiled cider.  It got my attention when I read his notification for a new vlog using boiled apple cider.  He told about it and how it is made.  I even googled boiled cider to get the full "how to".  Apparently the only ingredient I need is fresh cider and 5 hours to watch it simmer away.  What else do I have to do when the cold wind and rain continues to keep me inside?  Knit, read, try new recipes and old faithful ones, keep up with my You Tube cooks and watch a pot simmer.  Sounds good to me.  Now, I could take the easy way (which I never do) and order a pint from Amazon at $14.95.  Instead I will get a qt from a gallon of cider, at least that is what the directions say.  Either way I am excited to try something new.  It might even be tasty on that sour dough bread that will be hopefully in my oven in 8 days. Tis the season to try new foods.  The starter is doing its thing, all bubbly, raising and falling just like Joshua said.  You Tube is my new how to source.   Just another outlet to learn new things.

Speaking of new things :)  I ordered fingerling yarn from Latvia, way over across the Atlantic, a small country in Europe.  Made me a little nervous but I was looking for a certain color and weight.  This gal has a shop on Etsy.  It said for delivery to the USA it could take from 10 to 30 days.  No problem, I still have another month on the Snowfire, double knit throw I am knitting.  How about 5 days from order to delivery with a tracking number!!!!  Can I say excited beyond words.  When Dick brought in the mail there it was.  Nervous to see if I would be happy with the quality was my main hand shaking reason.  The reviews on her store and yarn were all 5 star and many of them.  The yarn is better than I ever thought it could be.  This gal packaged it in a beautiful bag and added a hand written thank you card.  She won me over by going above and beyond.  I buy yarn at a shop in Alfred, NY and Southern Pines, NC.  I really like to look and feel the yarn before I buy it.  But $ are a priority so comes ordering on line from Knit Picks here in the USA.  They did not have what was planted in my mind as to what I wanted for my next double knit project.  The yarn I bought from Latvia is actually spun in Germany which is fine with me.  The price was amazing compared to buying local even including $10 in shipping.  Some will say, why?  Buy local or made in the USA.  Seriously,  I do try but there are times it just isn't meant to be.  Plus, I really believe in fair trade.  I do mean fair trade as in export and import.  By the way, it is all in the presentation when trying to sell or promote something.  That first impression be it a thing or person is the most important second of like or not.
Now you see why I am hooked on this Latvia shop.

A few of my favorite things :)

A little tip.  If you like fresh seafood try Toads, in Olean, NY.  It is across from Dunkin Donut.  I like their sign inside the seafood and meat market.  It says, try our seafood, it was swimming 48 hours ago, or was that 24 hours?  Either one, that is fresh.  This is our 2nd time for fresh peeled shrimp and both times it was amazing with no old fishy smell!  The scallops are good too.  They also have fresh smoked beef sticks and hot dogs.  Different flavors, such as garlic, cheese, cheese and jalapeno and others but we have only tried the ones I mentioned.  They are open Thursday through Sunday.  Great place!

Tuesday and the sun is that is unusual in our neck of the woods.  At least this fall for sure.  Will it be snowing all winter?  Time will tell!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Time will Tell

After a few months of taking a break which doesn't mean I really took a break and totally relaxed.  It is simply the point of thinking, going through old memories, creating a few new ones and  hanging out at Cook'n by the Creek.  It has been a busy summer as usual with the garden, canning, lawn work and also doing a few things at the cabin.  There was also time for family and friends, old and new.  We were lucky to meet quite a few new people this year and all were just our style.  That is a good thing.  I always told the boys when the left for college or the military, you will find your own.  They did!  That makes me happy.

So where to begin on the happenings around here?  It will take a while to sort out what goes in what blog.  I am not sure where to start so this old mind will start recent and works it way backwards.  As I set here looking out over Clara Valley with the hills almost bare from the leaves it reminds me of days gone by.  Twenty years we have lived here and it just keeps getting better.  By the way, no beautiful fall colors in our valley and surrounding areas.  It is just one of those years.  No complaints, just take a look around and find something to make you smile and put the awe in your mind.  It sure is green and that is another good thing.  Wild Boy Smokey is enjoying the fresh green grass and has not had hay from his winter stash, thanks to Dan and Merle Austin we have some nice hay.  Now is this a sign of the winter to come?  Seems like that is on many local minds.  How hard a winter?  More snow than usual, more frigid temps or the opposite?  Again, time will tell and only time.  For me, I will take lots of is so beautiful, clean and fresh enjoy. 

Friends took us to an old cider mill near Canisteo, NY.  Lain's and it was just our style.  An old barn with the grinders and press.  A little outside stand to buy cider, apples, homemade vinegar, baked goods, cheese and cheese curds.  Dang, I had to try the vinegar.  It had the "mother" in it.  My sister-in-law told me about the vinegar with the "mother" maybe 50 years ago.  Now I had the chance to see it and try it for myself.  That will be another blog!  Told ya I was gathering and thinking on all these mind boggling thoughts of mine.

So what have I been doing recently out of the ordinary routine?  Yesterday I mixed rye flour and water to get a sour dough starter going.  It will take 7-10 days of playing chemist, feeding and dividing the mixture.  Then with some luck I will be making crusty sour dough bread, pancakes and what ever else I find recipes for.  I have been on you tube looking for the recipe that suits me.  I found a young man that is the best to explain and what a humor he has.  He does many things from all kinds of breads to smoking bacon, etc.  Not sure of his age but I am thinking 20 something and I trust his advice.  Even old seasoned cooks and bakers can learn from the young.  His name is Joshua Weissman and worth the watch.  He carries a great sense of humor and just the right amount along with his knowledge.  Check him out if your looking for a little entertainment and great tips in the kitchen for cooking and baking.  

This is the starter, tonight at 4pm it will have set 24 hrs then I get to divide and feed.  
Hoping for some good sour dough bread.  Time will tell!

From our visit to Lain's Cider Mill I bought a half bushel of apples, all different kinds. $8.00 a half bushel, $14 a bushel.  On Wednesday they turned into apple butter, apple jelly and sliced apples for the freezer for winter pies.  After peeling and coring the apples for the apple butter I looked at the peels and cores........what a waste.  They would be put out for the deer but for some reason I thought.......what if I boil them with some water and make apple jelly?  It worked!   Some of the apples had red skin so the jelly is a beautiful light pink.  Sometimes I can think out of the box.......not often but it does happen occasionally.  Then I surprise myself.  

apple jelly =  homemade butter milk biscuits!
That pretty pink apple jelly on the bottom and apple butter on the top.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Rainbow

Rainbow Swiss Chard that is.  Today was the pick day from our garden and honestly it is the best crop of Swiss Chard we have ever grown.  Even the larger leaves are so tender.  I noticed that while cutting it, every once in a while my finger would pierce a leaf.  Now that is tender and lush.  Probably the cooler temps and only a couple of is too hot days have helped.  I know certain veggies like cooler temperatures and pretty sure Swiss Chard must be one of them.
Fresh from the garden.

What to do with all the Swiss Chard?  Since we just passed the asparagus season and ate it and pickled it until I don't want to see it until next year for the next few weeks we will welcome eating Swiss Chard.  Tonight it will be cut into strips for an Asian soup.  Very light chicken stock base with Teriyaki  flavored chicken cut up into bite size pieces on top, shaved ginger, green onions and a dab of Hoisin  Sauce  poured over Rice Noodles.  I saw the recipe on a You Tube Vlog.  It is delicious and so satisfying even  during the warm weather. 

Our days have been busy around "Cook'n by the Creek".  From brush hogging, lawn mowing, garden and working at the "Summer Place" we really haven't had much time for anything else.  If it rains there is plenty to do inside, especially the basement.  Time to sort what is needed and get rid of all else.  Something I haven't done in 20 plus years........have a lawn sale.  That is how much "stuff" we are both getting rid of.  Once the little stuff is gone then we will move on to the bigger "stuff".  As of now that is the plan.  Plans can change in a heartbeat with us so nothing is etched in gold.  We have made the decision to sell "Cook'n by the Creek".  If the right person comes along it will mean the stars have aligned and it is meant to be.  We are embracing this decision with open arms and both have always been ready for the next phase of our life.  As much as we love our little place and acreage it does not sadden us to move on.  Oh, move on?  Actually not far...........just across the road to our "Summer Place".  Big plans and dreams have been happening as we set on the porch over there.  For over a year we have said every now and again, I could live here and the other would say me too!  From there the plans kept rolling on, what we would do and what if.  We have always thought of ourselves as the type that takes forever to make a decision, in this case a year of dreaming plans and a second about a month ago to say, "Let's Do It" if all falls into place......we will do it.

I guess needing more thoughts and things to blog about has been answered.  Each step of the way from down sizing, moving and living in a "little house" will be put into my blog.  Unlike a "tiny house" the "Summer Place" will be more like little.  34'X20', two bedrooms, bath, kitchen and living room with of course two porches.  One will be a view of the hill and attached to our bedroom.  The other will be facing the side yard and garage.  A small lawn with plenty of room for flowers and a few veggies.  There will be a patio area outdoor pizza oven!  Yep, we have it all planned and pictured in our dreams.  If it happens.  Time will tell.  "The Rainbow"

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Lunch in the Woods

Out to lunch was on today's happenings.  Dick was busy this morning hanging the bird houses he has been building all winter and I cleaned the frig, which was not by choice but necessity.  Bringing groceries home yesterday I realized to do a little reorganization skills would have to happen.  Hard to believe that cleaning and arranging the refrigerator could give me so much satisfaction.  How boring am I?   The reward was a little knitting until it was time to get ready for our lunch out. 

The knitting has been a work in progress, actually back to lessons for me.  I have been watching a gal from Nova Scotia to learn the fine art of double knitting in the round.  It has been a week plugged in with the ear buds and by golly I think it is a passing grade.  It looked so difficult when I started reading the directions and watching the videos but it is all coming together and making sense.  The practice swath has a couple mistakes and lucky I can recognize them and know what I did wrong.  The mistakes were in the first 15 rows, I am on row 33 with no more mistakes.  Or screw ups might be a better label instead of mistakes.  Either one I hope it is the end of them.  Tomorrow the yarn arrives and the Snowfire blanket will be started.  By my estimation it should take a few months to complete depending on how busy garden, mowing and finishing the cabin is.  It will be a warm summers night to relax and work on the Snowfire. 
Still practicing the SnowFire.

Lunch in the woods, dried salami, ham, cheese sticks, marbled rye and pumpernickel bread with German mustard, crackers and dessert is apple slices with peanut butter and honey!

Sun shines on the right side, no snow.  No sun on the left side, snow.

Our view while eating lunch.

He heard something way down there!
 Lunch was great, fresh air, a beautiful spot to sit on the ground and spread out the goodies.  Our favorite place to go out to lunch is the woods!   Where else to you have the place to yourself, peaceful, quiet and beautiful scenery to view.  A lot of deep breathing and relaxing goes on.  There is still quite a bit of snow on the hills.  It was windy but plenty of sun to keep us warm when we started up the valley.  We could hear the wind howling from way up top.  The farther up we went the calmer the wind was until it sounded like a little whisper blowing through the trees.  Mother nature has a way of letting the sun take hold of winter and push it ever so gently aside.  The first real sign I saw was the snow melting away from the base of trees.  The sun warms the bark and pushes the snow away.  The snow is deep enough that Quincy did not want to leave the path to run in the woods.  Usually he is all over running but today it was just too much work to jump through the 8+ inches of snow.

After lunch we walked  some more.  Hard to believe  when we are woods walking  we don't say 2 sentences to each other unless one of us sees something to comment on.  The quiet is like a non spoken rule, walk, take in the beauty and quiet of the woods and don't talk.  Fine with me, it is a time to reflect. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Cup of Tea

A cup of tea, warm fire, good book and a snow storm.  All have made my day quiet, peaceful and yes take a deep breath and relax.  For two days we took advantage of the warm almost 70 degree temperatures.  Haul more wood for another project, clean the scraps of wood off the back deck since that is where the saws were set up to redo the bathroom vanity.  Hall the scraps to the burn barrel and then take more deep breaths of the clean  air at Cook'n by the Creek.  The older I get the more simple my pleasures.  What ever makes me relax seems to be my key to contentment.  Nice to know that one can reach the point of simple pleasures.  No competition on what is needed, wanted or can't have.  Snowflakes, sunshine, a cool breeze, warm breeze, birds singing, flowers blooming, garden growing, chickens clucking, rooster crowing, the first dig of leeks, trout season and any other simple pleasure just lights my candle, floats my boat.................
Once the wood sink is installed with the faucets the projet is done.

Speaking of chickens I have been thrashing around the thought of not getting young bitties this spring.  Hard to believe, we love our hens and their eggs.  Unfortunately this has been the worst year for their survival of the fittest.  Fox, coyotes, skunk, mink and maybe even a fisher has taken their toll on the flock.  Night time is safe since they go to roost in their coop and shut in.  It is the daytime that has proved to be the problem.  I am also the problem of their demise.  Never have we kept them in a pen for daytime.  Free range has always been my choice for them and always will be.  They have been our entertainment for many years scratching around, dusting in the dry summer dirt and of course chasing them out of our freshly planted garden.  Their beautiful dark orange yolks to prove they love being free.  As of this week we are down to 3 hens and 1 guinea hen.  Last spring we had 20 hens and 5 guineas.  We are getting 2-3 eggs a day and we have been buying 3 dozen from a couple in Wellsville.  Their eggs are beautiful and he was getting plenty to sell all winter.  With that thought I have decided (sorta) to buy my eggs from him.  They are farm fresh and delicious, just not my own hen eggs but I can handle that.  Until spring has come and gone will be the test.......can Cheryl give up having chickens?  Dick has trapped raccoons and possums all year and kindly relocated them away from our place.  It is relentless  to how many keep showing up.  They deserve to live so the plan for no more hens.

After an afternoon tea I finished making a baguette bread that was started last night.  Actually the starter was made last night.  It said to make it at least 14 hours prior to making the bread.  It is an easy recipe and yes it tastes like a fresh baguette from a bakery.  First time I have tried it (I have been trying many European bread recipes lately)  We never buy the standard sandwich bread, too soft and a little lesson we learned when buying from the discount store for bread to feed the chickens.  It never gets moldy!  Weeks it has been in the barn tack room without a mold spot.  That tells me the bread is full of preservatives!  The bread we buy is from Wegman's bakery or from Cheryl's oven.  Ah, the chewy crust and tender inside of a good fresh baked bread...........worth the time.  Today's bread turned out just like I had desired.  Since the husband was taking a snooze I had to be the test taster!
Considering the European bread recipes I have been trying are just water, yeast, salt and flour they are delicious.  My farm bread calls for milk and definitely a completely different texture, crust and taste.  With the European bread recipes all using the same 4 ingredients it is all in how the dough is prepared or started.  The Baguette is with a starter of 1 cup of flour, 1/16 tsp of yeast and 1/2 cup of flour.  Let stand covered with saran wrap and a towel over night.  Then the final 3 1/2 cups flour, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp of yeast and 1 cup of water to make the dough.  let is raise 3 hours, make the baguette shaped loaves, cut slits 2 inches apart on top and bake at 450 degrees.  When dark golden brown turn off the oven, crack the door 2 inches and let cool.  Tonight will be rustic supper of beef roast (done in the pressure cooker) green beans(from our garden) and bread. 

My little buttered sample....oh so tempting to eat the loaf!
The beautiful snow as passed and now a few clouds and blue sky have taken place in the view from my windows.  My windows, my friends that just keep giving me the view of peace and comfort.  Time for another cup of tea.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hank Winding

My knitting friends near and far will know what this blog title means.  It is not one of my favorite things to do when preparing to knit but like always I seem to take the less easy way to do things.  Especially when it involves spending money on something that I can do with out.  I have no idea how much a hank winder costs and no desire to check.  Most of the yarn I knit socks with comes in what is called a hank.  That means before using I have to roll it into balls, two actually because I like to knit both socks at the same time.  Many have learned to knit socks on a long circular needle...............not Cheryl.  I love to learn new ways or a new hobby but there is always the few that I have no desire to learn and knitting both socks on a circular needle is one of them.   My type A personality, show me it's easier and I will swear my way is better......even if it's not.  I have two sets of double pointed needles the same size.  Ummm, maybe two sets of several sizes.  I cast on to both sets, knit the cuff on each set, move onto the heel for both and then on to the foot.  For some reason the pair of socks get done much quicker and both are exact length in each step of the way.  No writing down by knitting this way.  One important thing with knitting or crocheting, COUNT, always count how many stitches as you knit or crochet.  That way you will know if you dropped a stitch and it will only be back one row.  It took me a while to do this but by 68 years old..........counting is the key.  Not as in counting my age, that is not necessary, age is only a number!
The hank as it is untied and ready to wind.
Above is the 100grams of washable hand dyed wool from Peru.  As I was getting ready to start winding I thought to myself, please let the guy or gal that hand wound this hank take pride in their work and not have a "rats nest" somewhere in it.  Rats nest?........that just popped into my mind because that is what my mom use to say when she combed my long hair.  I would jump and ouch and complain and she would say, Cheryle Anne, I don't know how you get some many "rats nests" in your hair when you sleep.  Darn they hurt!   Get to hank winding........

Well there is a rats nest!  Almost finished winding the yarn and BAM it started.  I can say it is almost as painful for me as the rats nest  werein my hair.  It took one hour to work through it and save every inch of yarn without giving up and cutting it.  I know why they are called rats nests.....a mouse nest would be small and no big problem.  This afternoon I will be winding another hank.

Ends are already to finish off with the Kitchener Stitch.
January and February bring knitting and quilting to my hands.  I love hand stitching a quilt this time of year, all warm and cozy setting with the quilt on my lap.  Just before Christmas I finished the #10 quilt for the #10 grandchild.  Sloan's quilt is all lavenders, white and silver.  Yes, silver!  I have no idea how I decided to use silver binding but it is a favorite of mine.  I even found a lavender, purple and silver throw pillow to match. 
Sloan's quilt, doily and pillow.

 Next I will be cutting all of my leftover material from quilts that I have made in the last 5 years.  I don't care if they  match and would rather they don't.  There is a plan floating around in this strange mind of mine and it is not going to be the traditional patterned quilt.  My mind will be flying free and maybe beads and embroidery will be used too!  No matter the project from one to the next I get just as excited to start a new one.  Free and out of the norm is the next quilt. 

By the time March comes the indoor hobbies will be put to rest and we will be back at the cabin with a list of projects to do and some to finish up.  The cabin looks so cute all nestled in the snow with the greenery and red poinsettia flowers tucked in the flower boxes.  It looks cute but it also looks lonesome or maybe I am lonesome for cabin time.  Soon.............

Friday, January 5, 2018

Not Always the Equipment

A couple months ago I bought a small kitchen appliance.  It was love at first use.  Oil and greasy foods have never been a friend of my "ecosystem".  This air fryer offers the crispness like grease fried foods without the grease.  My main concern was to convince the guy that lives here to be as accepting.  He was!  Of course the first thing I tried was fresh cut french fries.  Seriously so simple,  cut them the thickness we like, soaked them in ice cold water for about an hour but it really doesn't matter if it is been 24 hours.  Then I drained and patted dry as much as possible, I am not one to dwell on completely because then it seems tedious.  Next I put them in the inner bowl of the air fryer, sprinkled two TBSP of oil and shake them around. They can be piled high.  I used olive oil the first time and after that canola oil and grape seed oil.  They all turned out crispy and tasty.  I put them in for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, shook them around and 10 more minutes.  It depends on how you like your fries.  Once they were done to our liking I sprinkled with salt.  A tip, once they are done remove from the air fryer.  Leaving them in will take the crispiness from them.  They need to be put to the open air rather than closed up in the fryer.  Another great feature.........clean up is a snap!  No grease spatters and so far nothing has stuck to the fryer.....I really like this thing.
Not one of the expensive ones but it works great!

Tonight we are having chicken tenders.  For tenders I buy fresh chicken tenders from the meat department.  You can buy whole chicken breasts but they tend to be less tender and dryer than a true chicken tender.  Yes, there really is a part of the breast called the tenderloin.  Even though when I asked once at Tops if they had fresh chicken tenders the gal such thing, they are just cut up chicken breasts.  Who am I to argue with the meat department at the grocery store?  Oh wait, I am the chicken lady after all from the egg layers, to the meat hens (which I will NEVER raise again) to just loving to watch the chickens peck around.  Back to the fried chicken tenders.  I cleaned the little white tendon that runs down the middle out and soaked them in a bowl of buttermilk (because buttermilk makes everything crispier) with one large egg whisked in, salt and pepper.  This will soak for about an hour.  To a cup of flour I add what ever seasonings I feel like.  Tonight it is pepper, salt, garlic powder, smokey paprika and a mixture of seasoning that I buy for grilled steaks and meat.  I spray the bottom of the pan from the air fryer (it looks like a colander).  Shake off as much of the buttermilk and egg from the tenders and then roll in the flour mixture.  Place them in the fryer pan so they are not touching and spray the top lightly with Pam (I use the cheaper Aldis brand).  I set the fryer for 375 and the timer for 15 minutes, checking then to see if they are ready to be turned.  If so I turn them and fry for another 10 minutes.  Sometimes it is time enough but it might take 5 more minutes.  Take them out, place on a rack to let air circulate to keep them crispy and finish frying the rest of the tenders. I had two batches, when the second one was done I put the first batch on top and turned the timer on for 1 minute to heat them.  Worked great and 1 minute was all it took!
Almost ready to air fry!

The finished chicken tenders.  More comments below.

So here is what the title of this blog refers to.  It is not the equipment that matters but the person using it.  We built the cabin across the road with minimal tools and not the most expensive.  We tend to go middle of the road and always since the internet and reviews have come to be rely on helping to make our choice on what to buy.  So, the air fryer was middle of the road in price.  If I didn't like it and couldn't return it I wouldn't feel so bad about the money spent.  Well, maybe I would because I hate wasting $$.  I ordered it from Amazon with being quite confident they would take it back.  So far there has been NO complaints with their customer service.  Happy to say the air fryer is at Cook'n by the Creek to stay. 

When young, married and with children I would sew outfits for my kids.  I used my grandmothers/mothers treadle sewing machine (I still have it) until I could come up with $40. for an electric one.  One thing for sure, the treadle could sew just as nice as the electric one.  Convenience with the electric was the only thing better.  We lived two houses up from Marie Brown Stout.  She was a master seamstress and yes with an old sewing machine.  She made so many beautiful outfits and coats just as my mom had with her old treadle machine.  Another thought,  Bill Stavisky had a beautiful garden every year.  I would marvel at the "OLD" rototiller he used.  I think it could possibly have been the first one built!  It was a heavy old thing that you had to wrestle with to keep going straight and not dig its way to China.  It worked and in all the 20+ years I watched him every summer he never bought a new one.  So now do you understand what I mean when I say it is not the equipment but the person running it?  Sometimes out with the old and in with the new isn't really worth the money or effort if you are getting good results with what you have.  Something to think about.

Back to the tenders......Now let me be honest.  When I say the tenders are good, they are.  Do they taste like deep fried in oil tenders, no.  But it is a great alternative to healthier eating that really does satisfy the crunch.  Remember, nothing can take the place of the "real deal" and what we all grew up eating.  My digestive system is happy with air fry and that is all that matters to me.  I don't have to say no to fried now.  Had we never tasted grease fried food we probably wouldn't like it introduced in our later years.  Next week I will be trying Walleye fish that our Canadian friends gave us.  Researching recipes and maybe more to be told in the future on the blog.  

* The second batch I mixed a couple TBSP of maple sugar granules I had made last week.  That was my favorite!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What Do the Feet Say

Today was beautiful with blue sky, temperature around 36 (in the sun) and much colder in the deep valley and hills behind our house.  Only sun hits the very top of the hill, there is plenty of snow left back there.  It really made for a great walk even though you have to go up to come down.  The snow was crisp and crunched with each step.  Not too deep so walking was very easy.  I like the sound especially because all was quiet, just the crunch with each step we took.  We never walk side by side.  What is the sense of looking at the same things or finding a new discovery of a deer trail, buck rub or turkey scratching.  Dick is always on the look out for mushrooms and yes even this time of the year.  He carries florescent tape just in case he finds a new kind.  They are dried up now and not edible by next year it is likely there will be more in the same spot.  As luck would have it he found a type of mushroom he had been looking for the last couple years.  The name starts with an R....I am not a mushroom guru so very seldom do I remember one from another.  I like to eat them.....

The sounds walking in the snow reminded me of what a horse sounds like when their hoofs hit the ground or gravel.  I love that sound too.  Something about it makes me think of so long ago.  Then that reminded me of baseball and the sound of feet hitting the ground running to first base.  Amazing how such simple things of sound can take me to pleasant memories.  I like days like this.  In fact when we were getting ready to leave my first thought was the camera, no actually my first thought was to take a couple bite size snicker bars........I might need the extra energy!  The snickers went, the camera stayed.  This was just a walk for me to enjoy and not think of taking a picture of this or that.  It worked, calm, peace, quiet with a crunch brought me to getting back to the blog.  90 minutes later we were back to the house and I felt totally refreshed and at peace.

Once back it was time to start supper even though it was only 11:30 the plan was for Hungarian Goulash and homemade bread which was about a four hour deal.  I have never made Hungarian Goulash before but let me tell will be made often this winter.  For some reason I have been watching cooking shows on you tube from other countries.  The gal that had this recipe was so interesting and looked like my kind of cook.  She wasn't a trained chef but she could be just with her everyday recipes and know how of foods from farm meat to garden veggies.

If you are interested, the recipe for Hungarian Goulash and pinch noodles....yes, pinch.  You will see why.

In a large pot add cooking oil to cover the bottom, 1 cup of diced onion, 1 diced large yellow bell pepper (she said this has a very similar taste to their Hungarian yellow pepper), a little salt and pepper.  Saute' until tender, then add 2 tomatoes diced (I used plum tomatoes, cheap) and 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped.  Once they mixture simmers add 5 TBSP. of sweet paprika, 1/4 tsp. of hot smokey paprika, tsp. of garlic powder and if you want 1/2 tsp of ground caraway seeds.  I didn't add caraway because I didn't have it.  Stir the mixture until well blended.  Then add 1 quart of chicken or veggie broth along with 1 to 2 lbs of chuck roast cut in bite size chunks and a bay leaf.  Simmer on very low  until meat is tender.  Then add 3 cups of carrots cut in chunks and a couple parsnips cut in chunks.  Again, I didn't do parsnips, (too far to the store).  Let it simmer until carrots are tender.  While it is simmering it is a good time to make the "pinch" noodles.  In a bowl add one cup of flour, 1/2 tsp of salt and one large egg.  Mix with your hands until it forms a stiff dough.  It will take a while so if you have a food processor, use it.  Only takes seconds to bring the stiff dough together.  Put some flour on a large plate and start pinching off little pieces of the dough and lay them on the plate.  Make sure they are covered with flour so they won't stick together.  I had to keep sprinkling more flour on them.  Once the dough is all pinched into little pieces just let it set until the Goulash is done and at a low simmer.  Put the noodles and excess flour into the Goulash, cover and let simmer until the noodles are floating.  There ya have it, Hungarian Goulash.  They put bit of sour cream on top but I didn't.  Maybe the next bowl.  It is absolutely one of the best stews I have ever made or tasted.  The only one that I can think might top it was a Mutton Stew I had at an Irish Pub in MD.  Maybe it topped it but right now I am thinking the Goulash won out.  The liquid gets a slight thickness to it with the adding of the extra flour from the noodles.  Just right for dipping the homemade bread in it.

Speaking of bread by accident I changed up my Farm Bread routine last week and now it is my new way.  If you have Della's Daughter cookbook here is the difference.  Warm 2 cups of milk, pour into a large bowl with 2 TBSP of butter, 1 TBSP of salt and 2 TBSP of sugar and 2 pkg of yeast.  There is the difference.  Do not put the yeast in the 1/4 cup of water as I originally did.  Add 2 cups of flour and mix just until blended.  Let stand for 10 minutes, it will be frothy and yeast doing its thing.  Next add 2 cups of flour, mix, then add 1 cup of flour, mix and you will now add the final cup a little at a time until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  You can do this in a kitchen aide mixer, (I do).  No sense letting a good machine set in the cabinet....getting lazy around here.  Take the dough out of the bowl, grease the bowl, put the dough back in and turn once to get the top of the dough greased.  Cover with saran wrap and a kitchen towel.  Let raise, punch down and raise 30 more minutes.  Take out and divide for two large loaves or 3 smaller ones, put in greased bread pans, grease the top of the dough, cover with saran wrap and towel, let raise until double.  Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on.  Remove from the pans, place on a wire wrack and butter the top of the loaves.  You can also use this dough for cinnamon rolls. 
When I make something special it always deserves my mothers beautiful plate.  Now you can see how rich and dark the sauce is and so tasty!

I am not one to talk of sad times and so I will only say, this blog is for a dear friend that was one of my dearest friends.  She would send me short or long messages that were always positive and fun to read, she was quite the historian of Oswayo Valley.   Even in the last few months she said reading my blogs would get here through some dark times and had went back to read them all again.  What can I say, Donetta Sutton will always be in my heart and in my thoughts.