Thursday, July 25, 2019

What Does Summer Bring?

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

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

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

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

Cooling down

I think we love her!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Fog on the Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Pocket Comb

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

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

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

Ready to crush the petals.

The finished product!  Love the shade of pink.

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

Yes, that is Salt Rising Toast :)

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

Sunday, June 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 4, 2019

Hello February and Hello Mush

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

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

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

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

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

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.