Friday, November 24, 2017

Lunch From a Can

Tuesday at Presque Isle on Lake Erie couldn't have been a more beautiful day .  The sky was blue, temperature in the 50s, minimal humans taking the bike/walk path and just the four of us looking for Cottonwood bark.  Our friend has taken up the hobby of wood carving since wintering in Fl. the pat few years.  With a quick google we found the Cottonwood tree grows in abundance just two hours from Clara.  They are huge trees with thick bark and to my surprise the thick bark is what the carvers use.  I just assumed it was the inner wood.  The guys ended up getting enough to last and even share with friends in Fl.  I'm sure there will be some mighty happy carvers when they get free Cottonwood bark.  Just a small carving about 6 inches tall cost $20 for the piece of bark.  No worries now they can carve away in the Florida sunshine. 
Ken and Dick gathering Cotton Wood bark
from fallen trees.
 I did get a chance to walk down a short distance on a winding road to the waters edge.  Lake Erie looked a little mad or just showing it's glory with white caps and little tiny waves splashing the shore.  There were duck blinds set along the lake edge.  I wonder what people going their to walk and enjoy the view think when they see ducks and geese being shot out of the air?  Some probably not liking it.  We were surprised to see how much water was seeping onto the land.  During past trips the land had been dry with not a clue it would fill to look like swamps along the lake.  My husband made the remark that the snow wouldn't fall and stay until the swamps are full.  They are full for sure.  As beautiful as the day was Tuesday, Wednesday we woke to snow flurries in Clara. It was also a beautiful day, just a little colder.   Let it fall, rifle season is but a few days away and the hunters will love snow on the ground and colder temperatures incase they shoot a deer.   The cold air temperature will chill the meat down with no worry to get it taken to the butcher in a hurry.

One more reason to love our colder weather at least for me, cooking the Thanksgiving turkey.  In past years when a warm spell moved in on turkey day the windows and doors had been opened to cool the place down.  Nothing worse in the North than a warm Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Besides it is much more tantalizing to eat all that food on a cold blustery day.  The next celebration will be the "Hunter's Supper" which is the day before opening deer season and the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  This is pretty special to us, a time to enjoy past stories mixed with a few "tall tales".  Nothing better!  Baked ham, German Potato Salad, Macaroni Salad, a variety of cheeses and homemade dinner rolls will be what's for supper on Sunday.  Let the Holidays begin.

What was for my lunch the day before Thanksgiving?  Well the husband went out with his buddies so I got to have one of my favorite foods that he absolutely can not stand the smell of.  My grandson stopped in after his morning hunt in NYS and was also hungry.  I fixed him grilled cheese and homemade French fries.  We ate together but he looked like he was ready to gag when I brought out my can of sardines and saltine crackers.  He will eat just about anything I do but sardines.....no.  Pickled or fried deer heart and he is my friend for lunch.
Great memories in a can of sardines!
I can not remember time going so fast as in the last few years between Oct. 1 and New Years.  Thanksgiving really snuck up on me this year.  Just last week I looked at the calendar and for the life of me I just stood there and stared finally saying to the husband.................did you know Thanksgiving is next week?   Well, he did but I sure didn't have a clue.  Thanksgiving means get yourself in gear because Christmas is but a blink away.  I don't decorate as much as when the kids were little but a few things I still like to set around.  Off to the woods to pick some greenery and ground pine.  I love ground pine, one of the blogs coming up I will talk about the love and stories of ground pine from my past. 

Today is a good day to bake some chocolate chippers as we call them.  Just Chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.  It puts the smile on a few faces around here.  Still trying to get my granddaughter's quilt done by Christmas and maybe start a new book series.  Ahhhh, winter rest has hit.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Worth Every Tick........maybe

My fall season has not been to my liking.  It has been a massive hatch of ticks which means I have been avoiding the place that gives me peace, the woods.  For reasons beyond all senses I decided that for my well being I must get back to the woods.  Not being much on bug sprays last week I tucked jean legs into tight socks, gloves up in sleeves of the jacket and pulled a tight watch cap down over my ears along with a tight turtle neck.  Away I went and about every 20 feet would stop to take a search looking for ticks.  They were plentiful, brushing them off because it was meant to be that I continued for another 2 hours.  Yes, that is how much wood walks mean to me.  It is a time that I feel at peace with myself, the time there are no others to be seen, just the quiet of the woods.  It had been a long time coming the past 6 weeks and something I can not for some reason do without.  My days were filled with many things to keep me busy but nothing that is more satisfying at the end of the day than me and peace.  When I get home it is strip outside, yes, I do.  I have no desire to bring a tick in the house on my clothes.  Where we live it is pretty safe to hug up against the back door, listen for cars and hurry to drop the clothes and run inside to the shower.  Directly to the shower because more than likely a tick or two has managed to hang on.  My last two times, none showing up on the shower floor so I feel darn lucky.  Back at it, deep breaths, long walks and peace on earth for a few hours. 
A beautiful Cherry tree with an unusual ripple patter, wonder what
caused that?

That is one of many ticks that wanted to hitch a ride for a meal.


I like beach walks but for some reason looking out over the big ocean and watching waves makes me feel alone in a different way.  Small, like the tiny grains of sand that make up the beach.  Just a speck that really is just living here in a great big world.  The woods brings life close and closed in, just a view of what is directly ahead, not across the ocean or in the sky.  The beach view is for miles and miles, the woods view for just a little ways with the view of the sky only when the leaves have fallen.  Does it make sense, probably not but it is where I can go to collect myself, accept who I am and feel that sometimes this crazy mind is ok for another day or two. 

Yep, I'm back to me in just two walks that will continue weekly.  Even in the snow and cold which is another story of feeling refreshed and ready to have an awwww moment.

Most of our days have been painting a table and chairs my granddaughter gave us and our daughter hauled home to us for the cabin.  It is a drop leaf round table with two chairs, maple wood.  It is perfect for the cabin.  Dick sanded the top, stained it a darker shade and I painted the base and the chairs the muted green color of the kitchen cabinet at the cabin.  The chairs  had cushions so we  recovered them with an orange/melon and beige color design. This little bit of color should bring on the sliding refurbished door we hung barn style dividing the kitchen from the bathroom area.  I am seeing progress on dreams from many nights coming together.
Getting close.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Let the Rest and Regroup Begin



Yes, it is one of my favorite times of the year.  Even thought coats, scarves and gloves are now put on before heading outdoors.  Wednesday there were a few snow flurries coming down the valley.  Bundle up baby it's cold out there!  Along with the cold crisp air comes the desire to tip my head back and take long deep breaths of air that feels like it has been filtered and cleansed.  What a refreshing way to start the day. Wind is still taking leaves of the know dormant trees and twirling every which way, beautiful.

It was off to town and run a few errands.  I actually stopped for a nice visit with a gal.  It is always fun to set and talk about "remember whens".  Another plus to living in the small town we grew up in.  Then it was off to the drugstore.  Great changes.........if you live near or passing through take a stop by and see all the specialty decorations for sale.  Plus the best part for me.....they have a great variety of yarns, crochet thread, embroidery thread, notions, needles and hooks.  I am impressed that they carry so much.  They have far more variety of crochet threads than Walmart or Joanns.  For some reason a beautiful sage green crochet thread just jumped in my hand along with a yarn for making scrubbies.   After all the warm days are a memory and only a few here and there of 50s will be around, then it will be time to do my winter things.  This is a time to rest, regroup and by February start making a list of what plans will be in the making for spring.  Full circle. 

Normally my winter redo and rearrange doesn't start until after Christmas.  This year I have started a couple months early.  I have been thinking,(always dangerous) I never use my dishwasher.  Even if I have company!  For me I like to hand wash, dry and take care of the dishes.  For years I would mumble grumble when it was time to unload the dishwasher.  I think it has been about three years since the dish washer was unloaded for the last time.  I don't miss it and I HAVE A GREATER PLAN FOR THE 24X34 INCH OPENING.  A new cabinet with a marble or granite top to roll pastries on.  The top front of the cabinet will have a wine rack with drawers underneath.  It will be on lockable wheels so I can wheel it out when I want to use it.  Oh, I have been thinking long and hard on what it will be.  Now, here is the kicker, I need to find the perfect cabinet to be remodeled a little, painted deep wine color because there is no way I will be able to match the hickory cabinets of my kitchen..... so....might as well make it completely different.  Just to get the ball (or cabinet) rolling....I tore out the dishwasher and hauled it to the back deck.  It took the husband about 3 hours to notice the big empty space with a look and question, did you do that?   Of course, how else could I make my final decision on what to do with the space.  As usual, I am on a mission.


My counter top is tiled with grout.  Not so good when you bake and use a rolling pin as much as I do. I have a large cutting block for making cookies and pies, such a pain to haul it out!   Plus being 5'1" (and that is stretching it) makes for a difficult time rolling.  With the roller cabinet I want  it will be about 3 inches shorter since it will fit under the counter top.  That will be just right to roll dough.  Always a logical reason for my crazy projects, a least it sounds good.

Since my mind has been in the kitchen lately let me mention a memory that jumped out the other day.  I was leaning on the kitchen sink, drinking the last of a cup of maple tea and day dreaming  out the window.  Then it hit me, how many times had I watched my mom stand over the sink with a cup of coffee or tea looking out the window.  She would stand so still and now I know why.  Deep in thoughts or day dreaming of a memory that came back to her.  It was quite the moment.  I'm sure her view was quite similar with fields, fences and trees.  She would have had the black and white Holsteins to watch.  I have a black and white horse with  a dozen chickens pecking around.  Yes, there was peace for mom and certainly peace for me in the views she would and I can get lost in our thoughts with.
Little Clara Creek borders our lawn and barnyard. 
This is how Cook'n by the Creek started.

Pizza for supper.  No, too cold to strike up the outdoor oven.  Tonight was homemade dough, Vodka Spaghetti sauce, black olives, Kalamata olives, onion and mushrooms on top.  Mozzarella too...can't do without the cheese. The sauce was left from pasta night last week and it tasted just fine on the pizza. 
Before baking.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Just Black and White

Cool weather meals at Cook'n by the Creek.

Getting a request to post black and white photos for 7 days and nominate a different person each day got me to thinking.  It doesn't take much for this mind to wander around to the "good old days" as we all call them so often.  After all, no matter the age everyone has a good old days memory or two or kazillions to look back on, good or bad it all goes right along with us through life.  Well, here goes on what posting the B&W pictures brought to mind.

The first TV we owned was of course B&W.  I was not very old but can remember the excitement as dad put the antenna up, hooked the cable and wires to the back of the set, turned it on and.............nothing, just speckles of B&W with a scratchy noise coming from it.  Out he went, turned the antenna and a picture for just a second and  it went away.  When he came in his "Gross" temper was at its finest.  So from that point on when the wind blew the antenna and reception was lost, the window was opened and it was a hollering match to tell when the antenna was aimed just right.  Ya had to turn it slow or you would go right past the perfect alignment to get channel 4.  And that my friends is the only channel we had on the Horse Run farm.  It was great, we didn't know what we were missing, it was the beginning of a long  relationship with televisions.  Almost a long relationship....we gave up tv about 4 years ago and never looked back.  It is youtube, fb, reading the news and just finding enough to keep us occupied.  In the end of our tv era it seemed as though the channels were getting flicked continually because there was nothing we wanted to watch.  I will admit waiting to see if our Dodger Blues won a game and one more step to the championship is a little tough.  This is the only time I have thought I would like to watch tv.  I often wonder what my dad and mom would think now.  It probably would scare the heck out of them to see little thin TV's, phones, tablets etc.  Of course that channel 4 was free and look what we pay now!

Back to the B&W days.  I didn't watch B&W in my mind.  Lucy's hair was red, Roy Roger's Palomino was a beautiful golden color with long flowing white mane and tail.  The trees and grass were green and the sky was blue.  Meet the Millers, my favorite show that came on at 12:30 pm every day after the noon news.  Remember that?  The Millers were a married couple that would do cooking and baking demos for 30 minutes.  One commercial half way through the show. I think this show was where I learned to describe the feel and texture of dough for homemade bread.  I remember them saying when you knead it long enough it will then quit feeling sticky but will feel smooth and have a damp feel to it.  If it doesn't then you kneaded in too much flour.  Not too many times in my lifetime of making bread have I not thought of the Millers.  I'm sure not surprised that this was my favorite show.  Another one was just before Christmas the station had a half hour show of Santa Claus at his North Pole Shop.  I would get off the bus and run down the lane to get in the house before it started.  The innocence of a child.  Then it was my teenage years and As the World Turns...........again, get off the bus and get in front of the tv before it started.  I watched that show well into my adult years.  American Bandstand was another program but we didn't get the channel.  The only time I was able to watch it was going to a friend's house (Pam Miller) after school.  The difference from living in the country to town.....American Bandstand.  Then  Red Skeleton and Ed Sullivan shows along with Gun Smoke and Rawhide.  The Ed Sullivan Show, the first time I saw the Beatles!   Brenda Maxson came to my house that Sunday night and I can still remember setting on the floor in amazement at how handsome and talented they were.  Man, it was a memory!  Beatle Mania, the 60s music and clothing and hair styles were in full swing....can ya tell it was one hell of a great time! 

No matter what year a memory is, B&W or colored it fits the bill for that day.

A little article I found about the Millers.
Bill & Milldred Miller seemingly came out of nowhere but a Colden turkey farm when they waltzed into the WBEN-TV (Channel 4) studios in the old Hotel Statler to begin their daily “Meet the Millers” program right after New Year’s Day in 1950. Bill & Mildred were seasoned showbiz pros, having worked vaudeville from coast to coast through the 1930s and ’40s as dancers and sketch performers. Thus, when Channel 4 executive George Torge invited the Millers to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for viewers of the fledgling station in 1949, he had a notion that this Mutt & Jeff team might have a long-term TV future. Two months later, “Meet the Millers” went on the air. For a half-hour every weekday for nearly 21 years, Bill & Mildred offered cooking tips, petty and serious bickering, and cozy interviews with the world’s biggest stars-from Perry Como to Tony Bennett; from Debbie Reynolds to Elizabeth Taylor. The Millers were intelligent, classy, warm-hearted to newcomers in Buffalo broadcasting and, most of all, fabulous ambassadors for the City of Good Neighbors. Virtually every celebrity who guested on their show left town with generous thoughts about the Millers and the city Bill & Mildred called home. After “Meet the Millers” left the air in 1970, Bill Miller became Colden town supervisor. In the 1980s, the Millers closed up the turkey farm and retired to Florida, where they both passed away in the early 1990s.

The hard frost we had this morning brought out the "time to change up the meals" routine.  I bought a ham for boiled dinner this weekend.  It is a big one so I decided to cut off a good sized chunk and make some cheesy ham and potato soup.  We had bacon for breakfast and of course what is better to brown onions in for the soup?  Yes, bacon grease.  Once a large onion was lightly browned I threw in the cut up ham, sliced and diced potatoes, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, water just to cover.  Simmered without a lid because I wanted some of the water to evaporate.  Once the potatoes were just tender I shut the fire off, stirred in 2 cups of Mexican blend grated cheese until it was well melted and then milk to thin it to the consistency we like.  Thick!  Just before serving I will warm it up and sprinkle some parsley and fresh chopped chives in.  Since my oven is still out of commission I am going to make some Naan bread to go with the soup.  The recipe is in Della's Daughter and is easy and good, soft and tender to dip in the soup.  This meal will serve double duty.  Tomorrow is the first day of Turkey Season and  there will be some hungry hunters looking for a quick lunch.  Plus, I will hopefully get to hear a few good stories, fact and exaggerated I'm sure. 
Warm Naan bread and what doesn't disappear today
will be warmed up tomorrow for lunch.  No oven
needed it's all done in a cast iron skillet.


*about sliced and diced potatoes.  I slice some thin and dice thick chunks.  My reason, the thin ones cook away and make the soup thick without adding flour to thicken the soup.  Now ya know.



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Igniter

Well I could say my igniter quit working but I still have a little life left in this mind and body of mine.  What igniter failed me...........the oven!  That is not a good thing for a chick that likes to bake at least 3 times a week.  Last night it worked fine for baked potatoes, this morning after mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough it failed to work.  I had promised a very nice young man up the road chocolate chip cookies for his birthday today.  The dough got sent to the freezer and I made the call to tell the birthday boy that hopefully he will get his birthday cookies by the weekend. 

For some reason since my kids were very little and we would scratch and save enough money for a spring vacation we usually had a necessity die after we got home.  I had always said, wonder what will die this time.  Never so bad that we didn't start planning for the next spring break.   Now with the kids all grown and on their own it doesn't seem like the end of the world when something decides to take the last breath.  Remember, never cry for anything that can't cry for you.  I like that saying, it makes sense and puts priorities where they belong. 

The weather around Clara has taken on a turn to what is coming.  For the last two days the wind has blown fiercely with the sound of "Old Man Winter"  knocking and wanting to come in.  The clouds are dark and hanging low in the sky mixed with brilliant blues and bright sun shining through.  Right now my view is beautiful color of oranges, reds and yellows on the hills with the sun making it look fluorescent.  The clouds look like they are touching the tree tops.  My favorite thing this time of year is watching the Poplar trees with their yellow leaves fluttering in the wind.  Nothing prettier than riding a motorcycle on fallen leaves and watching them twirl up around making a tunnel pathway.  Yes, fall and all its glory is upon us. 


We spent two weeks in North Carolina.  It was great to view fall in a different area.  The temperatures were unusually warm, or so the natives told us.  We spent 8 days at Kure Beach and Top Sail Beach meeting friends we grew up with for a couple days and then 6 days with just the two of us and Quincy of course.  We walked to the sound every  morning and watched fishermen, shrimpers and  even some "old guys"  that drove down to the sound just to chat and settle the world problems every morning.  It reminded me of my husband and his friends.  One morning we had the opportunity to meet a 75 year old guy and watch him fly his drone.  That was quit the experience and listening to his life stories made for a perfect acquaintance.  He was a pilot and now pilots a drone taking videos and pictures of the area.  I must say it was so different viewing the area above it. He was very  informative on the history and nature of Top Sail Island and surrounding areas.  The best part.............tada.........he is a cook and bakes bread.  Now, let me tell ya, that made my day.  I had quietly listened to him and Dick discuss nature but then it was my turn to get in on the conversation.  He even sent me a recipe for a skillet bread he makes including a picture.  Yes, I was "walking in tall cotton" that morning.  That is a southern description of feeling good, happy, lucky or what ever!  I like that saying too!  Then we would head to the beach for late morning and early evening walks.  Looking for sea shells and sea glass to sort through this winter.  I hope to make jewelry with the treasures.
Holding Quincy back...he wanted that drone!

There is the perfect shell and sea glass in there!

One more experience on my vacation......by the way we had not been on one for 4 years.......just love our Clara, PA.  Ok, maybe not an experience but an emotional take me back moment.  Back to watching the news which was little to none and usually weeks old by the time it aired during the Vietnam Era.  We were on the beach, above the noise of the waves I could hear a helicopter.  There were two military choppers flying over.  Stopping to watch since they were flying so low it hit me......the side doors were open and I could see the soldiers.  What must it have felt like for the soldiers flying over jungles and swamps in Vietnam, drawing fire for the fighters to come in and bomb the area?  What was the emotion trying to land a chopper to pick up and rescue?  It was all I could think about, the friends and relatives  we have that were there and faced their military time doing what we will never imagine at its best moments much less the worst moments.  Our own sons flying in foreign countries doing what they did best.  That is how family back home carry on, knowing their soldier is well trained and the best at what they do.   God Bless the USA, our Military and their families.
Military chopper that brought back
serious memories.


Lucky me I even canned pickled okra on our vacation!  My daughter in law had a friend give her a bag of okra, she passed it on to me and of course I had to can it, even on vacation.  Two jars for her and my son, one jar for us.  I can not stay out of the kitchen!   Even if it is not mine.

Quincy fell in love with the beach.


Take a moment to enjoy the day and all that it can be.  Remember you can always "pass it on" someone or many will truly enjoy what ever it is.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

2 Step, 4 Step

No, it wasn't a dance but sorta.  It reminded me of gym class back in the early 1960 something.  We had to learn to dance, even round and square and the polka.  What a nightmare for the girls...especially the short ones.  I can remember getting winged around on the corners or any other spot that required a twirl or dosey doe.  I can name a few of the tall guys that would take every opportunity to be jerks when Mr. Kovach was not looking but I won't they are all grown up and probably have no memory of it.  Selective memories many of us have.    Looking back, what fun!


Here is my 2 step and four step at the age of 68.  Still in the 60s as 1960 something and age.  These steps take place at the cabin.  Since we are using rough cut lumber from the White Pines we had timbered from behind our house nothing is square.  In order make hanging siding easier and more enjoyable to look at each board must me edged on the edger.  8' and 12' boards.  Dick stands over the edger to feed the board through and I start out on the right side holding the board as level as possible.  Once the board gets half way through the edging process I switch to the left side to hold it.  Each side is the two step or four step.  8' (I prefer this size) requires 2 steps sideways, left or right depending on what side I am on.  The 12' requires 4 steps on each side.  We do 50 boards the day before the siding is to be hung.  Lucky for me our friend seems to enjoy coming to help or he is pretending.  Either way Ken is greatly appreciated.  Dick and Ken don't have little arguments and Ken never stomps off like I do.  So..........the last week has been filled with me doing what I want or just relaxing crocheting on a new doily pattern. 
Ken doing my job for the day!






Yesterday the guys had a long day but got the back side of the cabin sided.  Today is prime, caulk and paint.  I love to paint and the day looks like it is going to be a beauty.  I have leftovers for supper and I am good to go for 8-10 hours at the cabin.  Just the view of beautiful hills that are still green, a few chippers running around for Quincy to chase and bark at.  The nights have turned into the perfect sleeping weather, low 50s, while the days have been in the low 70s with beautiful blue skies and a mild breeze to enjoy.  It looks like the end of summer and the beginning of fall, you know, the time of year kids are headed back to school.  I have said it before and will say it again, going back to school was my favorite time of the year.  Time to see friends that I hadn't seen all summer, the smell of fall in the air (I call them the "hickory nut" smells).  What a great time of the year! 









There are the crazy "free" colors of the primer.  Now it is all covered with the final
Mossy Green paint.
The last of the corn from the garden was put in the freezer this morning.  Not as much as expected but enough.  For some reason 2 long rows never developed ears.  On a bright note, the potatoes came on strong this year.  We dug about 300 lbs. that will carry us through most of the winter.  They were exceptionally huge this year with no hollow centers or splits.  All that is left,  carrots and they will stay in the ground and be dug as needed. 
A little potato love from the garden.....


Draining the blanched corn to cut off cobs and freeze.





Sunday, August 20, 2017

Back to the Cabin

The beans and peas have been canned and plants pulled from the garden.  With a week or so to take a break until the corn and tomatoes call to be canned and frozen we will be hitting it hard at "The Summer Place."   Yes, that is the official name.  Just the sign needs to be hung.  Dick has been priming the back side of the siding to seal it.  Yesterday we started hanging the siding.  Well, since it is rough cut from the mill it was not a true straight edge.  After 4 rows of siding we kept looking at it, wasn't happy with the uneven look.  Took it down and now before each board goes we are edging one side.  The side that shows.  What a difference!  It looks perfectly straight with no wavy gravy edges.  Edging takes time but so worth it.  Now that we have figured it out, built a jig so no measuring or leveling it does go up much faster.  Once we were finished putting it up I went back and painted it.  Very satisfied with the soft medium dark color we picked as the main color.  So, this week we will be back at the cabin doing what we do.  Finding new muscles that we haven't used that will ache and scream by evening.  Worth it?  You betcha, 9 (even the little confrontations) nothing better than standing back and looking at the cabin "Cheryl and Dick" built.  It has been a little over a year since it was started, not bad for two "old" people moving at their pace.  Even the "fights" keep us going!  Our great white pines have provided so much of the finishing wood for the cabin.  Tongue and groove, 2x4s, woodwork, cabinets and now siding.  The Amish guy that cut the wood figured it out pretty darn close.  We have 2-10' tongue and groove boards left!  He had the measurements of the cabin and we told him what we planned on using it for.  Same with the other wood. 
The Summer Place
The second coat will even out the finished look.  It is
actually a medium green and light green trim. The third
trim color is a light cream color and the fourth color
is yet to be decided.  Thinking a dark burnt orange.


 Now that we are back to The Summer Place for a week the crock pot is in full swing.  One thing I don't do well is working all day and fixing supper.  It is so much nicer to walk in the house and smell our meal all cooked.  A shower and relax on the back deck.  After we eat, set in peace and quiet it is hard to stay awake.  I often wondered when I was young how my parents could set in a chair and fall asleep.  Full circle, now I know.


On the subject of cooking.  I bought an air fryer from Amazon with the intention......I will try two things in it and if I don't like it, back it goes.  It's been a week and still cooking in it.  Love the home cut french-fries, southern chicken, hamburgers and fried summer squash.  The squash was trial and error but dipping it in buttermilk and then ground cornflakes was the ticket.  No the fries and squash do not taste like the tradition fried in oil but they are very good and no oil makes them even better.  The older I get the more fried foods raise and fight with my digestive system.  The air fryer is the ticket to enjoying fried foods without the oil.  Hamburgers and chicken will always be fixed in the air fryer around here.  One thing, the air fryer is more for a two person family not a family with kids.  You are limited to how much you can cook at one time and it would take to long to cook enough for a family of 4 or more.  For the two of us it is rated as a 5 star.  The clean-up?   Amazingly easy, food particles come right out with no scrubbing.  No more greasy clean-up for me!
Blueberry Biscuits with an orange glaze for breakfast.


Biscuits: 2 cups flour, 1 TBSP. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/3 cup sugar, 5 TBSP. cold butter
1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup of blueberries.   Mix lightly,
press out 1/2 inch thick and cut. 
Bake in 400 degree oven till golden brown.
In a small bowl, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. melted
butter and enough orange juice to make it thin enough
to drizzle over hot biscuits.  I also added a 1/2 tsp. of
grated orange rind.

Air fried home fries (delicious) with
Cook'n by the Creek Chipotle Sauce,
blueberry biscuits, orange juice and........
Jamaican Me Crazy Coffee.  Plus the view!








Last Monday we took a 5 mile round trip walk to our favorite blackberry patch.  Why so far?  Yes there are other places closer but these berries are the biggest juiciest we have ever found.  So, off we went for most of the day.  Walking in was more enjoyable, early morning the huge trees provided cool shade.  By early afternoon the sun was high in the sky with little shade for the walk out.  Still is was a great day to reflect on the great place we live in.  The peace and quiet, no sounds of the real world, just us and berries..............no bears or coyotes.  That was a gift for the berry picking day.  Dick always takes his pistol which makes me feel a little more secure.  I must say, so far in all the years I have been picking berries not once has there been a wild animal.  Lots of scat but that is just a warning we are in bear and coyote country.  Four quarts of berries in the freezer for winter jelly
Well worth the 5 mile walk.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Just for Fun

Picked at 5 pm  and ate at 6 pm, now that is fresh!
Today was a full circle ride to the Amish Auction in North Bingham, grocery store and dry goods store.  Certain things were needed from their stores.  Oatmeal, walnuts,to go dishes, snacks, two bread pans and a little brush to clean the silk from ears of corn.  The garden corn is showing ears, I am guessing 3 weeks and we will be up to our elbows in freezing corn and of course roasted corn on a bonfire with family and friends.  How about "to go dishes"?  When we have company I usually send leftovers home with them.  Old habit of making way to much when I cook.  I have two certain guests that I can always count on.  The to go pans are simply round aluminum pans with a domed plastic lid.  Meat, potatoes and a veggie fit perfectly in them.  They are also nice for cookies, donuts, cake etc.  Guests do not have to worry about washing them and returning because they are also..........throw away!   For a pan and lid the cost is 35 cents. 
The famous "To Go Pan" from my house to the guest.




What was for supper?  Veggies!  We almost made it to the garden before a sudden downpour started.  For awhile we stood under the apple tree............how "corny" is this.  All I could think of was that old, old song that said something about..........don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me.  That even made my eyes roll when I thought of it until it brought back the memory of being one of the songs my mom would sing when I was little.  So corny or not the timing was perfect to think of the song and my mom.  She died 51 years ago today.  Good memories and happenings that got me to where I am today. 


Back to the veggies, cucumbers, green beans, new potatoes and yellow cherry tomatoes.  The all made for a great supper.  The beans and potatoes were cooked together, buttered, salt and pepper while the cukes and tomatoes the topping to the iceburg lettuce.  Not to forget creamy fresh buttermilk blue cheese.  That was supper. 
Thanks to the garden, supper was almost free tonight.


The leftover beans and potatoes will have milk poured over for a soup tomorrow night with homemade buttermilk biscuits and raspberry jam.  I love it when one supper can be twicked into another supper.  Like the word twicked?  It is a cross between twist and tricked!  I do that with quite a few suppers, change it up a little and an easy twicked meal for another day. 




Since I like to jump around when I think, talk and type let's go back to the auction.  Not so good, very little produce and the cukes looked good but they had been picked a few days ago which made them feel like rubber.  Definitely want cold, crisp and firm for my pickles.  Since I have tons of grape leaves I want to make dill pickles.  Last year I mentioned reading about adding a grape leaf when canning dill pickles.  I did and trust me they were the crispiest, crunchiest pickles I have ever canned.  I am just worried my garden won't give me enough to can.  Tonight I picked 5 nice ones, they better get busy and produce more at a time.  Something is going on with the patty pan and zucchini.  All males, no female blossoms.  We did get 4 zucchinis and 1 patty pan but no more in sight.  Strange, never had this problem before and we have lots of bees in the garden so that can't be the problem.  Tomorrow will be the last picking for green beans.  It looks like there might be enough for 10 pints to can. 




We picked the last of the blueberries tonight and  have no complaints on the crop amount.  Plenty for the freezer and the ones we picked tonight will be dessert.  Just set on the back deck, listen to the quiet,  watch Smokey and the chickens, Quincy chase chippers and eat fresh blueberries by the handful.  Life in the hills of Potter County.  Speaking of life, today we saw someone we had not seen in maybe 15 years.  We had a nice visit and played catch up on what was going on in our lives.  She went first and then asked so what do you do fun.  I probably looked like a cartoon character with the blank stare on my face and completely at a loss for words.  If you know me you are probably thinking....right, you never have a loss for words.  But, truly I did!  My mind did not know what to say and all that came out was, what ever we want to do.  I guess that sums it up.  Who wants to hear about what I do everyday?  I wouldn't even want to hear it!   Can you imagine, she would have had the blank look and speechless if I told her what I really did for "fun".  Makes me smile thinking about it.  Tomorrow we are going to set a small 4'x 4' deck with a step to the cabin porch.........just for fun.
Cool, fresh and sweet blueberries.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Short and Sweet

No, I am not describing myself although I am short but sweet has rarely been used to describe me.   In this case I am talking about my short and sweet walks to the garden.  Through the lawn, over Clara Creek/crick and across the barnyard to the garden.  It is one of my favorite times of the day and usually happens after the sun drops behind the hill.  Today it was quite a bit earlier because.............of a perfect day, cool temperatures, cool steady breeze and enough sun to make it comfortable.  The sound of the wind blowing through the poplars and pines made for my a perfect day for me.  The sweet?  The raspberries are still ripening along the way and stopping to pick a handful is just what I do.  It just so happened today not only did the beautiful deep red of the raspberry catch my eye but deep in the bushes the dark blue/black of blackberries.  They are bigger than my thumb nail, plump, juicy and tasty.  I picked about a pint but had to eat the biggest ones just because.  From the looks of them there will be lots of picking going on for the freezer.  Then on a cold fall or winter day it will be jam and jelly making.  Short and sweet, what a great walk.
Like everything around here, the berries
are right on schedule.




The beans will be ready for their second picking Sunday night and canned Monday morning.  During the day we will take a long walk to our favorite blackberry patch.  It is about a mile back but so worth it.  The only others that walk back there are the.......BEARS........  I hate to brag that I have never seen one there, just their poop full of blackberry seeds because sure as heck I will!  We always take a pistol plus I hang close to the hub.  There is no sense in me carrying because fear would get in the way of pulling the pistol...I would freeze in my tracks for sure.  I guess you can see how much we like blackberries.  I wear long sleeves, jeans, socks to my knees and sneakers.  Jeans and long sleeves are for the prickers, socks and sneakers are just in case a snake is around. 


If you live in our area remember Saturday night is "Music in the Park", compliments of the Oswayo Valley High School Class of 1967.  All you need is a lawn chair or blanket and the want to hear some fantastic music by the Generations from Olean.  The play some toe tapping music plus some that reminds you of the slow dance you danced to for the last dance of a sock hop, prom, Christmas Ball or Sweetheart's Ball.  Come on out, the weather is suppose to be beautiful.  What better way to kick off the Potter County Fair (Millport Fair, as we use to call it).  Hope to see the park filled with Valley residence and graduates from OVHS.  The music is from 6-8!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Perfection

Today was a day of green beans, 7 pints and 7 quarts.  The kitchen was delightful, it was moved to the back deck.  Several weeks ago I bought a 4 burner countertop propane stove.  It was bought to take camping with us and for times we have family and friends here for an outdoor supper.  One of those middle of the night "wake me up" great ideas happened a few nights ago.  I will be able to use it to can with on the deck!   Yes, I can and yes I did.  It was so nice not having the steam from the pressure canner filling the house with humidity and heat.  Three loads in the pressure canner and I sat finishing up a book a friend lent me, a little knitting and a little just enjoying a cool breeze that moved in by 2 pm.  My kinda day!  The outdoor humidity took a big drop, temperature dropped to 73 degrees and that cool refreshing breeze made today's canning the best ever. 
Perfection..........canning in the great outdoors.


You know I have a tendency to day dream, think of the past and just enjoy what life has offered me when enjoying the view.  It never changes but for some reason it is like looking at it for the first time.  I watched a doe and her fawn grazing through the field.  They like the breeze and coolness too, it probably knocked down on deer flies bothering them.  Usually they are shaking their heads, jumping around trying to get the flies to leave them alone.  Not today, they were just taking their time, no hurries, no worries.  Just about how I felt, no need to wish the time away, the canner was doing it's little jig-idy-jig tune and staying steady at 11 pounds for 20-25 minutes.  This will be the hot spot for canning in August and September at Cook'n by the Creek.  Never to old to think of a better way to do something. 

Along with picking beans and canning comes hunger.  Tonight the 73 degree temperature allowed for a chicken and dumpling night along with fried zucchini from the garden.  Nothing better than fresh picked veggies.  I had 4 chicken thighs thawed and was seriously thinking of grilling them.  Dumplings won the pick.  Don't think it is tough to fix, just simmer the chicken covered in water, add chopped celery, onion and garlic.  Take the chicken out and add back just the meat.  Throw in some diced potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, beans, whatever you like.  Tonight I used beans and peas from the garden.  Once the veggies are done, thicken the broth with a few tablespoons of flour.  Salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer.  Mix 2 cups of flour with a tsp. of salt and 4 tsps. of baking powder, cut in 4 tablespoons of shortening.  Add enough milk to make a stiff batter and drop by spoonful on top of the chicken mixture.  Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until the dumplings are light, fluffy and done on top.  That's it!  The zucchini was sliced thing the long way, dipped in buttermilk (that is what makes the crispiness) rolled in flour, fried in oil (I use grapeseed oil) drain on a rack and salt and pepper as soon as it comes from the oil.  Summer/farm supper is a memory grabber. 
Remember....any veggies you like make a good chicken and dumpling gravy and buttermilk
gives fried food the crunch.






Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fruits of Our Labor

The last five evenings have been busy picking blueberries and green garden peas.  One night peas, next night blueberries.  Why at night?  The sun has dropped behind the beautiful tall hills of Potter County.  Plus Clara is a very narrow valley with high hills on both sides.  We do have a view of Old Baldy, which by the way is no longer bald.  Kinda a reverse from old men, it grew a cover crop in it's old age :)  Now there is no difference from the hills to Old Baldy.  That is another blog...........on to the fruits of our labor. 


At night we pick before the dew has set in.  Never pick veggies when the plants are wet.  Why you ask?  I have no idea other than my dad, Uncle Orville and Bill Stavisky said so.  I will take their word for it.  So, that leaves early morning picking out because this time of the year we are laden with fog and heavy dew in the mornings.  If not..........then we will surely be in for rain.  Remember, dry grass in the morning, rain on the way.  Pick at night and in the morning we shuck peas, make sure there are no little bugs or stems in the blueberries.  The blueberries head straight to gallon freezer bags and then the freezer.  The peas are blanched in salt water, drained and spread on paper towels to get rid of the moisture then they are off to the gallon bags and freezer. 
The fruit was so heavy we had to tie up the branches.


Ready to clean and freeze.

One gallon of sweet tiny peas headed for the freezer.


I noticed little green beans starting which means next week beans will be added to the rotation.  They are not as quick and easy to put up.  We like canned beans and only put up a few frozen bags for soups and stews.  So far so good on the deer finding the garden.  I probably shouldn't have said that!


For the last week my true love, the zero turn lawn mower has been feeling quite under the weather.  It has been one thing after another with it.  First the bolts that hold the deck on pulled through the bracket on the front.  This caused the deck to swing around and end up under the right hind wheel.  I thought surely it was going to tip over but thank goodness stopped dead in it's tracks.  Well the hub was a little more than upset.  Nothing I dread more than saying, Dick, something is wrong with what ever I am running! Good thing I was brought up on a farm with 3 brothers, I understand the language. Seems like if something is going to go wrong with the power equipment around here, I am on it!.  The McCleaft boys did some fancy welding and got it going for me.  Sorta.....I was skimming across the lawn and thought I was in heaven, (that is how much I love a zero turn)  fast and furious with little to none weed whacking and trimming.  About 8 swipes and bam!  The thing started blowing smoke and lost power.  Off I jump, raise the seat and there is oil all over the place.  Gahhhhhh, why oh why?  His first response, it's done for........that was out of frustration.  Then he saw the look on my face and changed his tune.  Dick thought it maybe a plugged oil filter or some kind of a valve.  He started simple with an oil change, new filter and air filter.  Nope, it was something else.  Off to Kerry Mulkins he went.  Kerry knew exactly what it was, now my zero is at his shop and should be done by Saturday if all goes well.  Until then JD and I will take care of the lawn, slow and steady.


With all the things we needed fixed, ordered and bought the last few days it really has me thinking of how helpful so many are and most of them grew up right here in the Oswayo Valley area.  For instance, our 50th class reunion will be July 29th in the Shinglehouse Park.  The food will be prepared by a store owned by Tim and Natalie Harvey, Vickie Good Dietze is in charge of the deli and will make sure everything is perfect.  The band that will play on the 29th is from Olean but one of the members grew up in Shinglehouse, Cecil Voorhees.  The Shinglehouse Boro secretary is in charge of reservations for the park and she also grew up in Shinglehouse, Deb Voorhees Resig.  The McCleft's auto garage, they grew up here also and played Little League for Dick.  Kerry Mulkin, grew up here and his dad and mom were Dr. and Shirley Mulkins.  Many visits to his office in our early years.  We actually had 3 doctors in our little town for many years.  I love Sprout's Drug Store.  Joe Sprout was a wonder asset when he took over the pharmacy and now his son Ray has carried on the tradition for many years.  Life is pretty darn good in this rural remote area. From getting our hay each summer to buying gas and anything else it is great to have everything we need close at hand and offered by people we grew up with.  One more person entered our list of we need help.  My tablet charging port malfunctioned and needed replaced.  I took it to Roger Enstrom yesterday.  He summers at the home he grew up in on Water Street.  By accident last summer we saw him and he mentioned he repairs "techy" stuff as I call it.  Off I went and he said it would be a week or so and should be no problem and inexpensive.  If you are around my age or older you will recognize the Enstrom name.  They owned the Shinglehouse Show on Academy St. across from Freeborns and Chat and Chew.  Fun times, a movie theatre right in our little town.  As you can see, this has been a few weeks of calling on the locals for repairs, food, etc.  Love the Oswayo Valley people and area. 



Friday, July 14, 2017

35.....How Could It Be?

96% humidity and the choice was work outside in it or take an hour trip to Wegmans in Hornell with a stop at my favorite coffee shop the Terra Cotta, in Alfred.  Actually no choice at all we both agreed and off we went.  The Eleven Mile is closed about 5 miles up, right around Crystal for a bridge replacement.  We can go to Shinglehouse and up Honeoye, Oswayo and Pinneo Hill or Eleven Mile and chose between two side roads.  No matter what way they are beautiful rides.  The hills are green, fields are high with corn and the streams still have a good flow of water for July 12th.  Soon they will be low and what we call "dog days" will set in.  I can remember my mom threatening me with, stay out of the crick/creek.  She never really explained why other than it was "dog days".  I assume now that means germs floating in the water. 

For the trip up we took the Honeoye and past Alma Pond.  I have always loved Alma Pond. In our area we don't have a lot of nice sided ponds that can be enjoyed with canoes, kayaks or fishing.   Just enough water to set by and relax, watch a fish or two jump, the great pair of Bald Eagles soar above or just set in a dead tree watching the water waiting for a fish to get close to the surface.  A few years ago we watched a mature Eagle swoop down and grab a fish!  Unfortunately an Osprey was waiting, watching and attacked the Eagle which eventually lost hold of  the fish only for the Osprey to grab it from mid air.  Pretty darn exciting to catch something so awesome out in the wilds so close to home. 

The return trip was my turn to drive (we both like to look around) and I decided on a side road off the Eleven Mile.  The road is called Butter Creek which has a couple turns to the left that will take ya back to the Eleven Mile and below the bridge constructions.  Off the Butter Creek I took Healey Rd.  It is a beautiful deep wooded forest all the way.  Wild blackberries and Elderberries should be plentiful this year, at least along this road.  When they grow deep in the shade it means those berries will usually be big and juicy.........no hot sun all day long to dry them up.

About a mile before the road meets Eleven Mile was quite the "remember when" for me.  Even driving I was looking at a beautiful big farm with fields and barnyards well maintained, even flowers planted everywhere.  There is one small old barn that had the doors open.  I grabbed a quick glance through it and quickly looked away.  It was close to a spitting tears moment.  I could here cows mooing, milkers pumping, cows chewing their grain, kids laughing and adults talking.  Heck, I could just about smell the cow shit!  It was a time when our kids were young, cut off jeans, barefoot and loving to visit the Hoffmans.  Thanks to our son and their sons going to school and playing baseball together we had quite the friends to enjoy.  We would stand and visit with Dale and Carol even though they were milking, it was a great place to be.  Visiting their farm always made me feel at home, like back on our farm from so long ago.  The famous Tandy Cake Recipe came from Carol  and is still a big request around Cook'n by the Creek.  It is in "Della's Daughter" cookbook.  Back to that feeling, it never goes away when a memory is so full of love and runs deep.  Close my eyes and see all those kids, life was very special for all of us.  Now those little ones are married with children of all ages.  Some close to 30 years old and some just a couple years old.  Life is full circle, just sweet memories.  35 years ago how could it be?

Remember the little barn I mentioned looking in?  The stanchions are still down each side.  35 years ago that little barn looked much bigger with 3 big silos standing by it.  Today it looks very small compared to the huge modern barns that house milking cows, a milking parlor, young heifers, offices and what ever else.  Gone is the small farms and in with the large farms that employ several people, machinery that the old farmers would never believe.  Air conditioned tractors........gps.........radios..........that is way beyond anything the old timers would have thought considering gps and air conditioning wasn't even invented!   Along with all this comes more work, more land, laborers and expenses.  Check and see what milk was going for a pound 5, 10, 15, even 40 years ago and what it is today.  You will be shocked!  Thus the farmer keeps our country living because they are very special and dedicated to a farm life.

Thanks to all the farmers and especially right here in our neck of the woods, the Hoffman Family.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Summer Place


We have been so happy to see all the honey bees working our flowers, they especially
like the poppies!


We have 5 of these beautiful male Rose Breasted Grosbeaks  this year. 
As usual, the females are drab.
We have finally decided on the name for our little 400 sq. ft. cabin.  "The Summer Place".  With all the ideas for a name with none of them being what we wanted it was quite by accident that the perfect name (at least we think so) came to mind.  As always we work, then take a break and set on the porch to relax or just to settle down and avoid the "fight".  The other day when it was so miserably hot and humid we worked inside the cabin which was really staying cool.  Even on the porch it was nice.  Dick said, we will have to winter at our house . The "winter sun"  shines in all three of our big windows heating the house and rarely will the furnace come on when the sun is out in the winter.  Then in the summer we will move over here where the sun is not on the cabin all day and there are beautiful Maple and Apple trees to shade the lawn.  Bingo!  I looked at him and said, "The Summer Place".  Soon the sign will go up, no more trying to find a name we both agree on. We can set back and enjoy "The Summer Place".  Once the work is done of course.

The Summer Place will provide a one bedroom, one bathroom, kitchen and living room combined, porch with a view and the shade of the trees.  By fall the garage should be cleaned out and ready to house an ATV, kayaks, bicycles or motorcycles if our guests bring them.  Heck, we also have a barn and green pastures if horses are their choice of riding.   Our land borders the PA Game Lands and our township is ATV friendly.  They might even convince me for a breakfast, dinner or pizza from the outside pizza oven.  I have plans!   We are excited to have family and friends visit to enjoy our little project as much as we do. 

This is the not so liked week for me in the summer.  The weeds are just right for picking, garden has to be hand weeded and that is either bend over, 3rd world squat or on bended knees.  I prefer the 3rd world squat anything else is not good for the knees or lower back.  Since a cool breeze and much more enjoyable temperatures moved in this morning we went to the garden and got down low to the ground.  Dick did the corn and I did the peas, onions, carrots and beets. Only the peas were a full row, the rest was 1/3 of a row, it just sounds like I did more.  Since I am already closer to the ground than the 6'1" guy it is easier and faster for me.  This is one of the few times I am thankful for being 5'1", most of the time I would like to be 5'8".  Funny, why that height I have no idea, it just seems in between short and tall.  Well there is no chance of getting taller so I will stick to worrying about other things and stuff, I like to worry, I thrive on worrying........ Every spring we worry about what is and isn't coming up in the garden.  Right now it looks like every row is showing signs of coming along for a good harvest.  Beets are a little sparse but that's ok we can buy them by the basket at the Amish.  Maybe even Peck's Produce on Kings Run Rd. in Ceres will have them.  Tonya and her husband have had some beautiful flowers and the strawberries were delicious.  Although we only got a taste of the flat I bought.  They went to the freezer for a quick desert if company shows up and I have nothing made to offer.  Buttermilk biscuits, strawberries with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Easy, easy, easy and so delicious.

Dick has been playing the mad chemist this morning!  The two part epoxy that is going on the countertop at "The Summer House" is a little tricky.  We have pieces of the pine used for the countertop to test the correct mixture of epoxy.  The first test run is setting up and we already decided we put it on too thick.  Next a little thinner.  Kinda like how tall I would like to be, not short, not tall but just right.  The epoxy will have to be not too thick and not too thin.  Now that reminds me of the story, The Three Bears.  Everything has to be just right!  That is the story of life.  Never settle for less than you want. 


Before I left the kitchen this morning I made 3 loaves of date bread (recipe in Della's Daughter Cookbook), a potato, carrot, peas and onion scallop and marinated two pork tenderloins.  That is a lot of food but half of it will go to our friend.  I love cooking and baking for family and friends. 

Summer is upon us, the lush green of hills and fields, blue sky and those big fluffy white clouds that drift slowly over head. They are all part of a take and deep breath and enjoy the view.  You know the clouds I am talking about, the ones that remind us of something and then it changes shape and something else appears.  How many days I spent laying on my back on our farm house lawn watching the clouds roll by.  It was my country life entertainment along with a Nancy Drew book or other favorites.  Then of course there was a blank tablet to draw my favorite animal, the horse.  I can almost completely relax thinking of how simple, quiet, loving and peaceful it was on the Horse Run Road.  No hurries and no worries.  That is the way a kid's young life should be.