Friday, March 24, 2017

I Ain't Working Here No More!

Just like the song, Take This Job and Shove It..........that was how day kazillion went at the cabin this morning.  About an hour into the bedroom ceiling it started getting nasty.  At that point I should have turned, walked away, kept quiet and went back to do my wifey things at the house.  Being stubborn I thought we could get passed the guy trying to boss way too much with too much verbal not so nice instructions.  Let's see how did it go,  you have to push the board up and keep it there, hit the board square on, I will hold the board you nail you hold the nail, I will push up on the board and hit the nail...............Oh hell NO, I say.  I will not hit your finger, just hold the nail.  No, I say again and he said, you  don't believe I would hit your finger do you.  bursting out with a nasty laugh I said, why yes I do.....after all you hit your own thumb that has a black nail and ready to fall off.  That is when the thunder rolled and the earth started to move.  Thunder was us cutting loose on each other and the earthquake when I stomped off to the house.  Done, done, done.  I cleaned house just a fuming and scared to death he would try to work on the ceiling alone and screw it up!  Once I had calmed down to the point I could return to the cabin it was with great relief he had put the ceiling fan and light up.  Whew!  I had visions of boards laying all over the place that he threw when they wouldn't go into place.   We actually got the rest of the ceiling up without another burst of barking orders and my "Gross" temper staying low keyed.  Like we always say when we reach the boiling point, it's a damn good thing we did not have our pistols strapped on or someone would not have lived to see the morning dawn.  Another day in the life at Cook'n by the Creek.
Living room and bedroom, wall will be sheet rocked.

Kitchen area with recessed lights.
Tomorrow morning will be mostly the Mr.'s work at the cabin while I do a little sweeping and stacking wood.  The bathroom fan and light has to be installed along with the insulation put in the bathroom. ceiling  That should take about two hours and then we will be back at putting the tongue and groove up.  My prediction barring no unseen thunder storms or earthquakes, all of the ceiling will be done by 4 pm.  Then we have a couple walls to put tongue and groove on.  After that off to buy and haul the dry wall home.  Things will be moving along quickly from that point on. 

The reason I decided to write this blog was to let some know marriage is not always a "box of chocolates" and to let everyone know we do have our not so good days working together.  Sometimes it is down right bitter tasting but along with the bitter comes the chocolate or a glass of wine.  There have been many times in the last 49 years that it would have been easy to say "let's call it quits"  but the hard part would have been saying good bye and moving on.  At the end of the day or the end of a week (sometimes I give the silent treatment for days) staying was worth all the thunder storms.  Until the next storm it shall be a lot of laughs, chocolate and wine for me.  If ya can't enjoy the storms how would ya ever enjoy the sunshine. 

A well deserved night out with family at the 4 Mile Brewery in Olean.  I checked out the menu and it looks like my kinda food.  Beer not my pick so let there be wine.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kuksa On My Mind

I know, you are by now tired of my love of a good snow storm.  It really was a perfect day for me relaxing, going through a book, knitting and every few minutes looking at the computer screen to watch Liberty and her faithful husband taking turns setting on the two eggs.  The first egg is due to hatch on St. Patrick's Day and the other a few days later.  I wonder if the Game Commission will name them something to do with the winter storm or to the holiday of green.  It is so interesting to watch them, when I hear their calls it means they are ready to change guard.  This morning Liberty was covered in snow, she eventually shook it off, rolled the eggs and shortly after Daddy game to take her place.

Another pair of socks will soon be done.  A book about Shinglehouse is in the making.  My friend Ron is working on it with me.  Hopefully we can gather a few or more good stories or memories from others that grew up in the Shinglehouse area during the 50s, 60s and 70s.  So if you did and have something you would like to contribute we would greatly appreciate it.  So far we have had a great time remembering things that had long ago been forgotten.  The more we remember, the more we remember, it just keeps going on and on.  My husband has some great stories of fishing and hunting frogs on the Oswayo Creek.  He was great on ice skates.  When I was 15 and we had just started "going steady" he asked me to go ice skating down by the bank.  My mom bought me beautiful white ice skates, mittens and a hat to match.  Off I went thinking I would be skimming up and down on that ice looking mighty good.  Dick took off and I set off to follow him.....down I went and it was all down hill from that first fall.  I couldn't keep my ankles from tipping over and when I did it was a slip, slide and down I would go.  That was the first time and last time I ever put those skates on.  You can say I know when I am not good at something and get out while the getting is good.  It probably relates to the fact I never was athletic and had no desire to be.  Just as I never caught on to clay throwing.  For 6 weeks I attended the class and for 6 weeks the instructor kept telling me, don't give up you will catch on.  HAHAHA, no I won't and no I didn't.

The UPS guy was out and about today.  He delivered a package, wood carving knives.  Yep, another crazy thing I want to try.  Watching a youtube on winter camping (yep, I want to) in a tent, the guy was using a beautiful wooden cup/bowl with a handle called a kuksa.  Pine because it is a soft wood will be my first try, then hopefully on to Birch, Maple and Cherry.He mentioned it and said his next video would give a demonstration on how to carve one.  I was hooked at that moment.  There probably is not too many youtube videos I haven't watched on the art of carving.  Off to Amazon and order two knives suggested for beginners.  Tomorrow off to the basement to practice holding the knives, suggested by my husband!  Pine because it is a soft wood will be my first try, then hopefully on to Birch, Maple and Cherry.   #imacrazygal
A kuksa, there are many styles, all so beautiful!

The knives, made in Sweden.
Something I haven't made in a long time, Texas Hot Sauce.  It is in my cookbook and was the recipe my mom used at the Biergarten back in the 1960s.  We had them for supper and each bite we were both saying,  I forgot how good this sauce is.  We did for sure!  I think it has been 15 or more years.  Why I have no idea.  I googled Texas Hot Sauce and did not find a recipe like moms.  Most added so many seasonings it would be over kill.  Hers is simply cinnamon, cloves, paprika, salt and pepper.  The recipe is easy to make and so darn good.  It will make you think of the Wellsville Texas Hot Sauce. 
I use all beef skinless hotdogs.  Nathans brand, it doesn't matter what kind you use as long as you like them.  Chop the onions very, very fine to be put on top and of course a yellow mustard too.  Remember to steam the rolls or you can do them in the microwave.  I haven't been this excited over something I make for quite a while! 
Della's Texas Hot Sauce on a hot dog and steamed bun. 
Friendship Cottage Cheese and Baked Beans, what is
not to love on that plate?
Once you stir in the flour cook until the desired
thickness.  We like ours thin and pourable from a spoon.
Mild mustard is dry mustard in a can.  You can use
yellow bottled mustard in its place.
Texas Hot Sauce, make sure you break the ground beef
in small pieces as it cooks in the water.  Nothing
worse than big chunks of burger in the sauce.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Wanna Ride Around or Drive to the Poor House?

March weather has turned to February weather the last few days.  Work on the cabin has taken a break until next Friday when it looks like a little warm up.  Off to the basement we go, sorting, organizing and throwing.  What doesn't get tossed will go to the thrift store in Coudersport.  We woke to 7 degrees and beautiful huge snowflakes tumbling down this morning.  Light the oven and get to baking for a couple hours was a good way to feel cozy in the kitchen.  Dick requested a Hershey Cake and Peach Cobbler,  so it will be, just give me a reason to get in that kitchen!  I have a beautiful view of the barn and fields that I never tire of.  While having our morning coffee Quincy started barking and it was one of his barks that something shouldn't be here.  It was ol'foxy him or herself mousing along in the back field near the barn.  If he had happened upon a hen that would have been Sunday dinner at the fox den.  They have had their babies already and mama needs lots of nourishment to make milk for the little ones.  Dick got the rifle and shot a couple warnings at it until it ran back in the woods.  Just a little reminder, stay away from our hens! 
Because one of us loves "real" whipped cream.  Yes, the
skinny guy!
This is the Hershey cake with white frosting.
Recipe in Della's Daughter Cookbook.
With all the baking Sunday dinner was simple and small,
steak quesadillas.  Steak left over from Saturday worked
I have no idea how many times I have said or heard, Wanna ride around town?  Back in the 60s, wow, I am in my 60s as of age now.  Ok, back in the 60s riding around town was the main entertainment for the evenings.  Let's see, usually the ride around town started at Mom's Kitchen, Freeborns or Chat and Chew.  If you went towards Stevens St. you could turn right or left and the same if you went the opposite direction towards Oswayo St.  Whatever way you went that first left or right turn determined they would be all left turns or right turns.  That would take you all around the perimeter of Shinglehouse.  Then we would mix it up by going through town again and going the opposite way.  No matter the choice that ride around town never changed!  Ya might stop for a short visit with someone else "riding around town", pick up or let off a rider.  From the time I was about 15 until 18 that ride was the Friday and Saturday night happening. 

How did I get to thinking about riding around town????  Well, let me tell ya it was one of those memory flash backs last Wednesday.  We went out for Buckwheat pancakes near Angelica at Cartwrights.  They are only open for all you can eat pancakes during Maple season. They also sell all their Maple products.  We couldn't leave without bringing home a bag of Buckwheat Pancake mix.  The pancakes were delicious and the first time I had been there.   We went with 3 of our friends, they are old friends as in....we have known them all of our lives.  Didn't want anyone to think we have old aged friends :)   After we ate Ron asked if I had ever seen the barn Marcia took a picture of and I painted a water color from the picture.  No, I hadn't.  We rode to the barn and I must say it was  beautiful not as beautiful as the picture only the picture because only my friend could capture the right angle and lighting.  Then Ron showed us the "Poor House" that sets near the barn, that totally amazed me.  He told about how it had come to be and some history of it.  Of course I wanted to know more about it and came home to google the "Poor House".  I found pictures of it inside and out.  The inside is what I really wanted to see but they have no trespassing signs all over.  If I thought for a minute I could have broke free from the husband I would have been in that place!  I probably would have had 3 guys pretty darn upset had I tried to get in.  I am not going to get into great detail on the "Poor House" but will put a couple links below if you are interested in it.  Even at a distance it was quite emotional to look at thinking of  "if walls could talk".  I'm sure there are good stories along with some very sad stories in those walls.  Remember back then there was no assistance or welfare.  If you couldn't take care of your family, the Poor House was where some went if there was room.
The barn at the County Home/Poor House.

The amazing "Poor House" that I would love to get into!  We could see an old couch in the window but we were just too
far away for detail.  Just a little closer would have been great!  Like in it.
Not only did riding around bring back a memory or two the "Poor House" did too!   I was not much more than 5-8 years old when I heard the words, poor house.  We lived on the farm and my dad said, this farm is going to drive us to the "Poor House".  I remember crying myself to sleep that night wondering where the poor house was and would it be awful.  It sure sounded awful.  Finally my mom asked me what was the matter the next day and again I burst in tears and told her because we were going to the "Poor House".  Good God, she said.  Why do you think we are going to the poor house.  Because, dad said so.  Then she told me we will not be moving that dad said that because of the price of milk dropping and he was mad.  Apparently there were many Poor Houses in the country back then.   That is as close to the "Poor House" as I ever got or want to. 

Speaking of driving us to the Poor House how about "drive me to North Warren?"  I knew that was a joke or not.  My mom would say that when she didn't like how I was behaving, especially in the early teen years.  I will admit for a long time I really didn't know what she meant. In fact it wasn't till I was in my 40s that I learned what North Warren was.  Mental Hospital!   Lucky I never drove her to North Warren, my kids didn't me and we all living happily ever after.

The Poor House:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Bar Press vs. the Ceiling Press

Well winter is back this cold 4 degree Saturday morning.  The girls (hens) have been working overtime to give us some beautiful deep orange colored yolks. That happens when they can get out in the barnyard and peck around for food.   For some reason the farm eggs have the ability to fluff up for an omelet that those pale store eggs could never do.  This is a 3 egg, bacon and a little blend of 3 cheese that made its way to the breakfast table.  An easy way to make an omelet is...... beat 3 eggs, 3 TBSP of half and half or cream together.  You can use milk but half and half or cream just gives that wow look and taste.   Then add any ingredients you want.  Pour in a hot medium sized skillet that has a TBSP of butter or your favorite oil added.  I use butter or grape seed oil.  Grape Seed oil takes high heat without burning.  Then I pour the egg mixture in and cook on low until the bottom has started to set.  Next it goes into the broiler on high until the top is set.  That's it, no turning.  Quick, easy and little mess.

Off to Home Depot and make a decision on the flooring and pick up some paint samples for the cabin.  Not sure what we will do once the cabin is done but I did hear........we should build another one. 

One thing I have learned many times in many years.......the real deal is the hardest.  I would walk, jog and run on our treadmill only to find out climbing a hill brought out more sweat, fast heart rate and heavy breathing  ending with more sore muscles the next day that the treadmill could ever do.  Again, the real thing wins.  I am an on again off again person.  Like a routine workout I tend to go strong for months and then stop for months.  Like knitting, painting, quilting and all the other things that occupy this mind..........each has its time and place with me.  Never predictable, just when the mood hits away I run with it.  Maybe that is what keeps me going, variety.  I am thinking I truly don't want to master any one thing because that would be the end, my interest would fade with nothing more to learn and practice.

A few weeks ago I woke up knowing it was back to the basement and start weight lifting again.  I am lucky to have a son that showed me the right way to squat, deadlift and press.  Then there is youtube with Mark Rippetoe and his beginning videos.  I spent a few hours that morning going over each one even though I have watched them each around a 100 times.  For about 3 months prior to starting back to lifting I felt the lower back reversing and not quite the pep in my step and always thinking stand up straight.  As we get older we tend to lean forward, that causes lower back pain and weakness for me.  When doing a regular barbell routine it goes away within 3-5 days.  Happy to say it has been 3 weeks lifting 2-3 times a week and always giving a 2-3 day rest period. 

Now,  back to the real deal.  I am up to 60 pounds with my presses of 3 sets of 5, 80 pound dead lift and 75 pound squat.  That should get these arms and shoulders ready.  Once we started putting up the tongue and groove I figured, piece of cake the boards don't weight much more than 2 pounds and we put 10-14 up a day.  Well............let me tell ya,  my shoulders and upper arms feel like those boards weigh a hundred pounds each.  The ceiling press is quite different from the bar press even though I tried to position my hands on that board so I had a correct stand as the bar lift.  There is something about pushing on that board so the groove will slip into the tongue for 12 ft.  I hold, Dick nails, joint effort.  I have never been good with a hammer and hitting a little tiny head of a finishing nail would more than likely ruin the board.  So, we have about 90 more boards to go.  I have a feeling the arms and shoulders could possibly be "baby Balboas" when finished.  If you are in the need for an upper body work out, give a call and I will give you the "proper" training to hold that board and work with a 6' guy that can bark orders. 
Not the proper press stance.  At some point ya have
to watch if the board is in the right position.
One thing about me and wood.  I love imperfections as the husband found out today.  He picked up a board and said, you don't want this one.  Well, yes I do.  So what if it has a variety of colors rather than plain with a few knots....I want character and design in a piece of wood.  I'm sure many don't but that is ok, we all have our different tastes and desires.
My imperfect board.  It was milled from our white pines.
How could I ignore and cast it aside?  It is what it is.
Every six boards and we get a break.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Joint Effort

There was a little pie dough left from an apple pie I made the other day.  Dick's mom would take left over pie dough, roll it out thin, put some butter, sugar and cinnamon on, roll it up, slice and bake.  I put a little powdered sugar glaze over when right out of the oven.  It came in handy today for a midday snack from cabin work.  A little food, a little rest, good to go.  Sorta!
Just enough fuel for another few hours of work.
Day ? of the cabin.  I have no idea the total days we have been working on the cabin.  Heck, some days we even have to ask each other what day it is or what the date is.  I do know one thing the last two days of arms above the head, climbing up the ladder to get on the scaffolding has made for 2 Tylenols and early to bed.  Tonight while I was fixing supper Dick was doing the chores and taking down the bedding.  It's Monday and today is the day to do bedding.  I have never been able to break some habits and Monday bedding is one of them.  The weather was nice enough to hang them outside.  Nothing better than fresh smelling, cool, crisp sheets, especially when we will fall in bed tonight.  A good days work and a good rest, I'll take it.  After supper Dick said, wait until I get out of the shower and I will help you make the bed.  I must look pretty darn whipped because he hates helping make the bed and I hate it just as much for him.  He has no idea how to put a fitted sheet on without pulling, tugging and saying a few choice words.  So after dishes I hurried in to make the bed.  I had no desire to sit down and wait for him to help.  I knew if I sat down there would be a good chance I wouldn't want to get up.  Exactly how I would have felt because as I am here relaxing and writing there is no way making a bed would be possible.

So, there are the joint efforts for the day.  Putting up tongue and groove together, I fix supper, do the dishes, make the bed and he hangs up bedding and takes it down.  Without the joint effort nothing would be possible around here.  Tomorrow it will be a rerun minus the laundry.  We are very fortunate that Mother Nature has been providing temperatures to work with.

37 at 9:17, time to get to the cabin.

Joint effort.  I wash it, he hangs it.
Sometimes I wonder "what the hell am I doing"?  There is a warm sunny beach or desert adventure just waiting for us.  I don't know why, for some reason staying busy by working and torturing this old body seems the best choice for me.  I love this valley, all we do and all we plan on doing.  I can't imagine life any other way.  I like vacations but I like getting back to Clara.  There is not one window in our house or cabin that doesn't provide a view that makes me think, wow, how lucky we are.  Walking down the sidewalk today that was hidden for so many years at the camp almost made me cry.  It is like walking back in time.  I looked at our back field remembering Dr. Stevens and her daughter Elizabeth, thinking they looked at the same view I was looking at.  That was in the early 1900s for them.  Gone, never to know what their feelings for their land and Clara.  Even when I work my mind wanders frequently.  A couple times today I drifted into deep thoughts only to be brought back by...........hey, you with me?  Maybe, sometimes, but give me a few seconds and away I go.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Along With the Sunshine

There has to be a little rain sometime.  Today proved just that.  For two days I was able to be outside putting 2 coats of polyurethane on 60 boards 12 feet long.  The weather was perfect for the job.  Heavy fog and dew at night that knocked down the dust from the dirt road above us.  Once the sun burned off the fog there was sun, a slight breeze and best of all no bugs.  This gave me about 10 hours of thinking and letting the mind drift away.  I love times like this and I love wood!  Seriously I do.  One of the best things for me working with wood is looking at the grain, knots and imperfections.  So many buy wood with none of these in it, the want a uniform look.   For me that means no character.  Just like humans, animals, birds etc. that is what makes my life interesting.  I don't want perfect and truthfully there is no such thing in my mind. There is one thing I don't like about imperfections and knots.   I will not put my bed under this little "knot face" on the ceiling in our bedroom.  It gives me the creeps and reminds me when our oldest son was little.  I would rock him for his nap and one time he said, eyeballs.  What?  Then he pointed to our wall which had wood paneling on it.  Yep, there they were two eyeballs looking at us.  I changed the furniture that day so we couldn't see it from the rocking chair. 
It looks a lot scarier waking up to!
Back to the "poly job".  It means one step closer to seeing the interior of the cabin come together.  Once the wood is on the ceiling we will be buying 14-12' sheets of sheetrock and 5-8' sheets.  I'm pretty sure I have mentioned my "middle of the night" ideas.  Last night was one of them.  Apparently I went to bed thinking of sheetrock and maneuvering the heavy stuff.  How am I going to hold the top piece in place while Dick sets a few screws to hold it?  I was imagining him barking orders to hold it, don't let it slip as he runs off to get the screw gun or screws that he forgot.  Not a nice situation to be around.  We can get down right nasty.  This is where when all is said and done we laugh and say, "we are both still alive or married."  Maybe  we have handled these situations so well, because of 49 years of practice.  So, as soon as my eyes opened this morning I said.............I know how to hold the sheetrock in place with no worries!  I explained we will run a board on the studs horizontally 4' 1/4" down from the ceiling, lift the sheet rock on it and waaaalaaaa!  Now to see if it works, to be continued.  It took a few different ways to explain but I think he understood.  At least he said he did!  That might have been just to get me to...........shut up!
A good feeling to finish the job.

Wood, beautiful wood.
Dick and I are definitely on the same planet but our minds, not so much!  When I try to explain something he looks like, she is crazy.  When he tries to explain something, he is crazy.  If we are lifting a large something it seems like we lift and turn just the opposite.  When we fold a tarp the same thing,  I think he does it on purpose just to cause a ...........conflict.  Much better to say conflict than fight.  One thing we both snap back with no qualms about it.

Enough of our wicked ways.  The weather turned overcast with some hard rain and a little thunder.  Soup is on this crazy mind now.  I have never made the one simmering as I type but it looked good on an Italian Youtube cooking show. 

Italian Bean and Noodle Soup:  My take and a little change up because I never follow directions in recipes or life.

Saute 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup chopped carrot, 1 tomato chopped  and one finely chopped clove of garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil.  Careful, do not brown the mixture it will make the garlic bitter.  Once the veggies are translucent add 8 cups of water, salt, pepper, bay leaf, 2 15.5 oz. cans of drained cannellini beans and a handful of chopped kale, spinach, Swiss chard, your choice or a mixture.  Cover and simmer until the greens are tender.  Next add 3 green spring onions sliced, tsp. of dried parsley and 1/2 cup of macaroni.  Simmer uncovered until the macaroni is cooked to your liking.  You may need to add more water depending on how much broth you like.  Serve with a grated Romano or Parmesan cheese on top with a drizzle of olive oil.  We like a crusty bread with it.  That is our Saturday night supper.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cabin, Snowflakes and Dumplings

We loaded a lot of lumber on the trailer last week and hauled it away to get planned, edged and tongue and grooved.  The call came today that it is finished.  How exciting since our weather is going to be in the 40s and 50s next week.  The last bit of insulation will be done and we can start putting the boards on the ceiling!  Our long winter's nap is coming to an end.  Lists are mentally being made on what to do, what to do.  The cabin is top priority until the middle of May and then garden will be top of the order.  Once it is planted then back to the cabin until hay season.  I am hoping by the middle of July we can take a break to enjoy the view of the little cabin that already might have a long term guest. 

I was alone today...not really alone.  Quincy was here, snow flakes, chickens, guinea hens and of course Smokey.  Quincy and I sat by the window, I was watching the snowflakes float down and I think he was looking for a squirrel or his favorite guy to get home.  It was very calming and peaceful.  How many snowflakes have I watched in my lifetime with the same feeling.  Once they hit the ground they are no more.  Every time I watch them it is as good as the last time.  Like a snow globe that I don't have to ruin the moment by shaking it again.  The day was perfect to take deep breaths and just shut the world out.  I didn't even have to think of ........what's for supper.  Just me and a few leftovers that will do me just fine.  Beef stew and dumplings and chili.  My pick whenever I want to eat.  Now that is another treat of the day, when I want to.  No hurries, no worries.

Speaking of leftovers.  The beef stew and dumplings was our supper last night.  I had made a roast beef in the pressure cooker last week.  One night it was the roast with whipped potatoes and a few days later hot roast beef sandwiches.  What was leftover went to the freezer. Yesterday I thawed it up, put it in a big pot with carrots, peas, potatoes and green beans that I had cooked.  Then mixed up a half a batch of dumplings  and put on top.  Nice, 3 meals from one roast.  Cook once and just give it a little tweak for 2 more meals.  The dumpling recipe is in Della's Daughter Cookbook. 

Dumpling Recipe:
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 TBSP. shortening or lard

Put dry ingredients in a bowl, cut in shortening and then stir enough milk to make a thick batter to drop by spoon full into hot liquid.  Make sure you cover the pot and leave it covered for about 10-12 minutes.  Take the lid off to check if the dumplings are done.  Just take a fork and lift up the top of the dumpling it should be dry with no sticky dough in the middle.  If they aren't done cover it for a few more minutes.  You can use chicken and gravy or beef and gravy.  Add whatever veggies you like or none.  You can also use blackberries, blueberries, peaches, apples or fruit of your choice with sugar and water, bring to boil, drop dumplings on top and sprinkle with sugar.  Cover and cook the same way. 

The beef stew, make sure it is on a low simmer.

This is what the dumpling batter should look like.  If it is
just the two of us I only make half a batch.

Make sure you leave room for the dumplings to cook.

All done, I sprinkle paprika and parsley on before cooking.
Now you see why you must leave room for the dumplings
to cook.  Nice big and fluffy.

Big helping for him, little helping for her.  Plus he
likes butter on his.

Dessert was homemade tapioca pudding.

Today I received a thank you card from a little girl.  It was beautiful, the card was too.  She took the time to tell me her dad is going to make a frame for the picture I gave her.  All written in cursive and so nicely said.  It was wonderful to see the adult in her life showing her "the ropes."  By that I mean she will grow up knowing how to be polite, thankful and giving.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rice Pudding

It has been a very dreary day so far and it is only noon.  After breakfast I watched a few youtube programs that I have been following.  From small off the grid cabins to cooking on a woodstove and regular stove.  You would think I would tire of cooking but not the case.  Tending to lean towards good old fashioned recipes and ignoring the new add this and that recipes.  Why take a good thing just to ruin it with usually lots of sugar or cheese.  For example a down home honest to goodness old fashioned chocolate cake.  Now try this, add chunks of candy bars, caramel, nuts, coconut and anything else that will add more "sugar me up".  I do like sugar and I do like candy but not to the point that it is more work and more money to make.  How about a baked potato with sour cream, cheese, bacon, creamed broccoli?  Seriously give me a baked potato with butter, salt and pepper. Separate the potato and skin because butter salt and pepper on the skin is an added bonus.  Then there was a meatloaf recipe with a kazillion kinds of cheeses put in the middle.  No thanks.  We were just talking about ice cream.  For us a simple dish is fine, put on all the syrups, sauces, fruits, nuts, etc. just takes away the ice cream kaboom.

Back to a simple dessert for the day.  What to do on a dreary day but go through old cookbooks and come up with.......I haven't made that in a long time.  Rice pudding, one of my favorite childhood  memories.  No Della recipe for this but we had it often. Pretty sure it was one of those memory recipes that never made it to paper.   I do know she baked it and had raisins and cinnamon in it.  Definitely no cinnamon for mine, fresh ground nutmeg is the choice.  Cinnamon doesn't get along with me and it took 50 some years to figure it out!  No raisins, none in the cupboard so they will be put on the grocery list that always hangs on the frig.  Golden raisins, I don't like the dark ones.  Since I'm the cook around here it is my choice of ingredients.
Ready to fold in the whipped egg whites.

Rice Pudding Recipe:
2 eggs separated
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups milk
2 cups cooked rice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Mix two egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, salt, vanilla, nutmeg and milk in medium bowl.
Stir in cooled rice.
Beat egg whites until stiff
Fold egg whites into first mixture and pour into a buttered baking dish.
Bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Serve warm or cold.

Hot from the oven.

A little steam rolling and oh so good!

The pudding is good just the way it is but if you want a little extra sweet, whip some heavy cream for the top.

Here is my thought on trying recipes.  They don't always turn out like the picture or the reviews.  A recipe is a list of ingredients, amounts, how to and timing.  Let me tell ya, it may take several tries to get it just right.  I always say weather plays a big part on how many recipes behave.  I do mean behave, even the best and oldest cooks have failures.  Sometimes you have to tweak that recipe for the day.  Also you may like more of this, less of that or change the seasoning completely.  It is all in your personal taste.  Today finding this recipe just happened to be a score.  It very well could have been a failure and may the next time. This freezing rain kinda day was OK for me. 

You can use skim, 1%, 2% or whole for the recipe.  I used 2% and greased the baking dish with real butter for the flavor.  The vanilla was what I made thanks to a friend and neighbor from 50+ years ago.  Her parents had a farm not far from ours.  She read in my cookbook that someday I might get brave enough to spend the money to buy ingredients to make vanilla.  That sweet Barb Maxson Adams sent me the vanilla beans and bottle to get started!  I am now hooked!  What a great aroma and flavor.  I used a very inexpensive vodka.  It took 6 weeks from start to finish.  Now I have it started at different times as to not be without.  The only vanilla that rates right up there with this is white vanilla we have bought in Mexico or our son in law brought to us.  Now I can use the real deal instead of using the cheap imitation in cookies and cakes!  Yes, I can be that cheap at times. 
Homemade vanilla, a beautiful golden color.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Cook'n by the Creek: Snow in the Valley

Cook'n by the Creek: Snow in the Valley: January is going out with a snow storm and February is  coming in with a storm.  This morning looking out the kitchen window it was the firs...

Snow in the Valley

January is going out with a snow storm and February is  coming in with a storm.  This morning looking out the kitchen window it was the first hint that winter will soon be pushed away by spring.  The sun has moved down the valley giving way to beautiful sunshine in the back field earlier.  With the big flakes falling it reminds me of Maple Tapping Time.  Living on the farm tapping trees in March was a most exciting time and today that old memory just made me stand there visually seeing the "old sugar shack" with smoke coming out the chimney and steam rolling out the door from boiling sap that would soon be maple syrup.  What a great many pictures crossed my mind.  The fire wood stacked by the door that would dwindle down with each nights boiling.  Yes, nights because on a farm the cows need milked morning and night.  That left the middle of the day for the wagon to go through the Maple stand to empty the buckets and hauled back to be dumped in the big boiling pan.  After lunch the fire was started and the boiling would begin.  While it was still in the beginning stage it was off to the barn for evening chores.  Mom would take sandwiches, cookies and a thermos of coffee to the Sugar Shack for our supper. The sap was finished off to the beautiful golden syrup.  They always kept a little sauce pan to add syrup to, boil it down until it spun a hair and then pour it over a pile of fresh snow.  Heaven on the snow.  There is something about that memory that always makes me smile.  Even my parents would wind it up off the snow to eat.  Once the syrup was back to the house the next boiling started.  Mom would make maple cream and maple sugar candy.  If you have never had a warm buttermilk biscuit or piece of toast with butter and maple cream it should be on your to do list.  If you like maple you will be hooked on maple cream.  Take a trip to Rathbuns on the Eleven Mile Road this spring for their open house.  You can sample and buy maple cream and maple candy.

Our Sugar Shack was on the side hill at the edge of the Maple stand.  It was across from the farm house.  Being over there until midnight or later we could look at the house across the valley and see the warm glow of lights.  The later it got the more inviting it looked and thinking of a warm bed.  Being in the single digits of age I was never allowed to stay at the house alone.  Even when the morning milking was done I had to get up, go to the barn and there mom would take a blanket and make a little spot in the hay for me to sleep.  Can you believe it might be the best sleep ever?  Nestled in so warm, listening to the cows munch their grain and the sound of the old milkers going.  What a great way to live for me.  Simple, pure and relaxed.  At evening chore time it was take a book (Nancy Drew first choice), drawing tablet and a couple cookies. 

5:30 pm and still  daylight.  It makes going to do chores a Cook'n by the Creek later each night.  Chickens go by how much daylight is left before they want to go to roost.  Go to the barn any earlier and you just get frustrated trying to chase them into the coop.  They can be stubborn girls and won't break the habit.  Smokey also goes by daylight.  When he is ready for his supper he stands by the gate and looks over at the house.  He is also getting later each day.  Hard to believe we let animals run the show around here but it is just easier to go with their flow than to fight it.

With all the winter talk supper is more like a summer meal tonight.  When thinking of what's for supper this morning macaroni salad came to mind.  I can't remember when the last time it was made,   maybe around August.  Tonight is a little taste of summer food, macaroni salad, grilled bratwurst, pickles and a roll.  It won't be long and a whole new eating pattern will start around here.
I'm sure it is no different than in the summer but we both
thought it tasted great!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cook'n by the Creek: Round or Square

Cook'n by the Creek: Round or Square: What could the pick be?  What is there round and square that we can make choices?  I really haven't thought about it until the other mor...

Round or Square

What could the pick be?  What is there round and square that we can make choices?  I really haven't thought about it until the other morning when I was making Buttermilk Biscuits.  Yes, I capitalized them....they are that important at Cook'n by the Creek.  I have never made square ones but the thought hit as I was pressing out the dough and it just happened to look more square than round.  So I made a definite square of the dough.  Brought out my favorite wide chopping knife and cut perfect squares for biscuits.  I liked them!  All the dough was used up  and no pressing the leftover dough like I do for the round cutter.  The less you work biscuit dough and rolled cookie dough the more tender the finished product.  Now I am did it take me so long to figure something so simple out?  I would like to think the brain cells are getting better with age. 
How about it?  Square biscuits and they taste just
as good as the round ones!  Some with sausage gravy
and a few with wild raspberry jam.
The next choice we prefer round.  Hay for our horse of course!  The square bales are so much more work from field to barn and feeding.  They are all handled by hand, lifting, throwing and stacking.  Then lifting and carrying again when we feed through the winter.  Now that big round bale is lifted by the hydraulics on the tractor.  Stab it in the field, lift it to the trailer to haul home and then use the tractor to get it off the trailer and stacked in the barn.  When winter comes it is the same, use the tractor and drive it to the field.  We never put a whole round bale in the field because we have a wild horse that loves to play with it.  He will push it, pull it, climb on it until it is spread all over.  We just pull some off the round bale and drive it back in the barn to keep it dry.  We have a very spoiled horse that has no idea just how lucky he is to be loved so much.

A couple months ago Dick bought some female Guinea Hens to go with our males.  Hopefully this spring we will  have a hen or two nesting.  They are noisy barnyard birds but also fun to watch. They are like watch dogs that give a warning when something comes near.  This winter we have had a fox, opossum and Red Tail Hawks after the chickens.  When the chicken stay in the barn we know there is a hawk out hawking them.  Now that winter is on the down hill slide we are thinking of when and how many peeps to get.  Our laying hens are down to 9 and 4 of them are getting old.  They are laying big eggs and not to frequent but giving us enough eggs to keep us happy.  I like to have extras to share with our neighbor. 

My favorite saying, it is going to get worse before it gets better.  This is what I say when a tangent hits to remodel, redecorate or haul out and reorganize.  The haul out and reorganize is what has been going on in my kitchen.  17 years with the same white dishes, time for a change.  I went completely out of my usual color picks.  Orange, brown and black is the new look around here.  The brown and black is a 4 place setting from my favorite potter, Kay Brooks from Belmont, NY.  The orange is a 4 place setting from Italy that I found on Amazon.  Still looking for another 4 place setting in maybe a deep olive green.  No luck so far but no hurry something will give the zing to buy.  Notice each 4 place setting is different.  For some reason I want variety this time and a mix of color on the table.  Alright back to the saying.  I had the kitchen cabinets emptied and contents all over the place.  All the white dishes along with dishes, glasses, cups, soup bowls, etc. are all wrapped and packed ready to go to the Salvation Army or Thrift Store.  The new dishes arrived and they are all in place.  Cabinets look like they should with lots of room which makes it easier to locate what is needed.  I found dishes that I forgot about and had not used in years.  Some was tough to let go but seriously I am enjoying organized cabinets.  Next.............the bedroom........the basement..............then the hubs junk/tool room.  The last one could be tricky!  I wanna clean like I'm moving.

Out with the old.

It did get better!
All finished!
If you live in our area and love winter it has been a beautiful weekend with lots of snow and cold temperatures.  Just the way we like it. The snowshoes will be coming out this week for a hike in the woods to look for animal tracks and our winter hot dog roast.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Calendar

Yesterday I found an interesting recipe that I had never heard of......Dutch Baby Pancakes.  Well, let me tell ya..........they are delicious, says the guy that lives here.  Not only delicious but so easy it is almost sinful for something this good to be so quick and easy.  Tradition is to squeeze fresh lemon juice and sprinkle confectioners sugar on top as soon as it comes out of the oven.  This is how we had it but I see endless possibilities with this Dutch Baby.   As I type Dick is on his second piece.  Fruit fillings, jams, maple syrup and even pudding would be good too.
Just out of the oven, a few lemon juice drops
with confectioner sugar.

Before the sugar and lemon.

Happiness to see the Dutch Baby doing its thing.

Ready for the oven.

So good!  Recipe at the end of the blog.
Last week at the Amish grocery store they handed my husband a calendar, actually two of them.  Everyone knows two are a necessity for a house and barn.  That is years ago two were needed.  In the last few years we have not hung a calendar in house or barn.  I can remember writing important "stuff" in each square and on some of the squares drawing lines with an arrow pointing to what I had written that wouldn't fit in the little square.  Then there were cancellations, reschedules and last minute things, more lines and more arrows.  Our calendars looked pretty sad and it took quite a talent to follow lines and arrows but it worked.  Very seldom was something missed that had been documented on the calendar.  When the kids were old enough and had something exciting they wanted to remember they would even write on the calendar.  I also had 3 letter abbreviations that only I knew what they were.  Oh, the memories when the little Amish gal handed Dick the calendars, she was so filled with pride.  They are beautiful too, nice size and full of wildlife pictures as each month goes by.  For the first time in a long time my kitchen will have a calendar and one for the cabin!  

Years ago so many businesses gave out calendars we never lacked for one.  Now, very rarely and if they do they are usually the little tiny self stick ones.  No room to write reminders but useful to make sure of what the date is.  Who needs a calendar when we have a smartphone, tablet or computer close at hand.  We know instantly day, date, time, weather, etc.  Progress is good but the calendars made me smile.
There they are packed full of wildlife and birds.  A new picture each month.
 The cabin update. It has been too cold to work on the insulation.  Four 4' pieces and the ceiling will be done and then the walls.  Once it is insulated the work should move right along with a little heat.  We are lucky to have a great friend that gave us an electric cook stove for the cabin.  We measured the spot and it will fit perfect with room for the counter top to run along side of it.  How lucky can we get to have such a wonderful friend that thought of us.  Water will be another concern, the original spring went dry.  We need to find a "spring guy" that knows what to do.  Above the spring house it is a lush green in the summer so we are thinking it is still there just needs to be dug into.  Springs are touchy and if you don't know what you are doing and dig wrong it will reroute and you lose it.  So, if you know a good "spring guy" let us know.
An overnight snow has left the world of Clara, clean
fresh and beautiful.
It looks like we have a measurable amount of snow moving in at Cook'n by the Creek the next couple of days.  I have plenty of yarn for socks and a little stuffed doll baby to finish.  Nothing better for me to be snowed in with a few fun projects during the winter.  Then there is youtube which I have been enjoying some mighty fine rustic, country style cooking shows.  If the snow prediction is right we will be pulling out the snowshoes and x-country skis.  Time to get in shape, we have been setting around long enough or at least I have.

Dutch Baby Recipe:
Melt 3 TBSP of butter in a 10 inch skillet.  I used cast iron.  Make sure the handle is oven safe.
In a bowl:  Mix 3/4 cups flour, pinch of salt and 1 TBSP plus 1 tsp of sugar.
Add to flour mixture:  3 beaten eggs, 2 tsp vanilla and 3/4 cup of milk.  Beat until no lumps are left.
Pour into the skillet that has been on low heat with melted butter.
Put in 400 degree oven and bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown around the edge.
Remove, drizzle a little lemon juice and sprinkle confectioners sugar on top.  Slice and eat warm.