Tuesday, August 29, 2017

2 Step, 4 Step

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

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

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

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

Draining the blanched corn to cut off cobs and freeze.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Back to the Cabin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

Just for Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Short and Sweet

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

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

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

Monday, July 24, 2017


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

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

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fruits of Our Labor

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

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

Ready to clean and freeze.

One gallon of sweet tiny peas headed for the freezer.

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

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

35.....How Could It Be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Summer Place

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

One for the Blackbird......

Life in the 60s as in age it has been a well traveled road to get here but we made it this far and things seem to be about the same as always.  Good times, bad, happy, sad and sometimes miserable.  The miserable always gets pushed aside with thoughts of....."it could be worse", "never cry for anything that can't cry for you" and last but not least, "family is healthy and happy" and "everything else is just material stuff".  How did I get on this subject?  A day of starting to brush hog and the tractor wouldn't start!  No problem, Dick knew what was wrong and had to clean the celinode.  While he was starting that I said, where is the oil dripping from.  For about 5 minutes his words were less to be desired.  I decided to get the zero turn and mow the barnyard.  After 3 swipes it just.........stopped and shut down.  If you could have seen Dicks face come up over the tractor!  I felt the same way.  He left what he was doing and came over....again he knew exactly what was wrong.  The plug under the seat came out, you know the one that won't let it run if your not setting square on the seat.  Well the oil leak on the tractor turned out to be the filter.  It was due for an oil change, all is well with the mowing equipment for another day.  My other favorite saying is, it's a good thing our livelihood does not depend on our little 25 acres and equipment.  Unlike the farmers that have to tend with all the mishaps and breakdowns when it is time to do the fields or milk the cows to keep a farm going and a living for the family.
Oh, how I dreaded telling him the zero turn wouldn't run!

This morning Dick walked in from the barn and said.........."I know what we are doing today".  I kinda gasped and really didn't want to hear because it sure sounded like something was very wrong.  The crows had pulled a row and a half of our corn that was up about 3 inches!  I was worried about the frost last night, the garden survived but the crows took a share.  When my dad would plant sweet corn he would always repeat an old saying and this is the first year it came to mind and actually makes sense.  One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow, One for the Cutworm and One to Grow.  Dad always planted his corn in groups for the garden corn, field corn was planted in rows.  We do our garden corn in rows. Maybe next year I will try 5 in a group and thin if need be.    Although it was a little upsetting the thought only lasted a few seconds, it is what it is and all the above reasoning thoughts came to mind. 

One thing I have learned this spring, love the wheelbarrow!   It has been my best buddy.  With the cabin work it is easier to load up the wheelbarrow rather than carry.  Same with the garden work, it is getting used overtime.  We have two but mine I bought at a yard sale last year.  Old, but just a little light weight one that fits my size!  It is great for weeding flowers, planting and transplanting new ones.  Amazing something that has been around for years and years still works better than anything else around. 

How about these wild blackberry blossoms?  If the berries are as plentiful as the blossoms this year we will have a bumper crop for the freezer.  The apple trees and blueberry bushes are the same.  In fact they already have tiny little apples and blueberries started.   Might be a great fall for "apple squeezing" at Cook'n by the Creek.
Blackberry blossoms at our back door.

Today is hot and the sun is shining,  a  breeze little to none and the humidity......terrible.  I love the temperatures to be around 70 with sun and a breeze.  That is a great work day for the cabin or fields.  With this high heat it is early morning and evening get it done and relax during the day with a little knitting, blogging and what else needs attention indoors.  Today we set the countertop and I must say we did great.  Not one harsh word, dirty look, eye roll........nothing.  Tomorrow  it will get one last sanding, stained and a 2 part epoxy put on.  Actually we are doing a sample piece tomorrow and if it's a go then we will do the countertop.  EXCITED!   By the weekend we should be ready to paint the base cabinets and set the doors.  I have been working on a recycled shelf unit for the top cabinets and maybe with a little luck and no disagreements (nice word) it will get hung.  I could go on and on with the little things but won't, it will just get me in a state of  "we have so much to do" I will just forget the list.

Cabin work is getting to the finer things for me. 
Privacy etching on the bathroom window.
Recycled door from the old house on the property.
The before while taking off a kazillion coats of paint.
Today I am thinking of a couple headed west for a summer adventure!  Have a safe and wonderful time where ever the road takes you Donetta and Everett!

Friday, May 26, 2017

When it Rains......Play in the Kitchen

We woke to a gentle rain, which means the seeds are getting the moisture they need to do their thing.  Although we had plans to get the new flowers in the ground there is always something else to do inside.  For me, bake brownies and put up some strawberry rhubarb jam.  That time of the season and one more full circle for rhubarb and strawberries.  I bought a nice batch of berries just for the jam.  Once all the "stuff" is done in the kitchen it will be off to the cabin to hang the hardware for the slide door.  I really can't call it a barn door since it doesn't look like one, it only slides like a barn door.  My order from Amazon (do I love Amazon, yes I do!) arrived.  The door has 3 windows in it which means no privacy for the bathroom and bedroom.  Can't have that so I am going to put a static cling on the windows.  It is called cotton wood and has a floral design on it.  Hoping we like it and it looks good. 

About the cabin............for some reason I am thinking more along the line of a "play house" for girls.  Every color and design I have decided on (with the hubs approval of course) leads me to believe I am filling a little girls dream.  A play house seems to be popping up daily or nightly.  Nights are a great time to figure out what is next and new ideas.  Even the lawn and flower beds have been thought and rehashed many times.  As I quietly set on the porch it is with a vision on the finished look.  If it turns out like my dreams it will be a quiet, pleasant and soothing place to be.  Even the little chipmunks will add to the time well spent relaxing on the porch.  A picnic table is being moved over this weekend, a fresh coat of paint and a little design added should make it doable.  Time is a ticking as the saying goes and with every tick another accomplishment and two more wants are added. 

The previous blog I mentioned about the "last dance".  It doesn't mean an actual last dance because there are lots of lasts in my memory that I call the last dance. Such as the last words with a loved one, the last time my kids sat on my lap, kissed goodnight, kissed an ouchy, the last time they walked out of our house to pursue their adult life.  The last time I sat quietly looking out over the ocean, viewed the snow capped mountains or looked across the desert.  The last ride on our motorcycle or camping in the tent.  The last time I walked out of OVHS on my graduation night.  Life is full of last times, I  never looked at it that way  until a few days ago.  Along with the last dance is also the first dance of many happenings.  They are always fun, exciting and quite often unexpected.  After all there can not be a last without the first.  Life is good that way.   We can be thankful there are some "last dances" that we are not aware of until the dance is over.  Let there be many firsts and lasts down the path of life for everyone!

The day is near the end, the rain has moved on and the sun is shining off the green, green grass of home.  The hills are in full foliage and the  grass in the fields is tall enough to blow gently with the evening breeze.  Take a deep breath and think of what a wonderful day was given.  The only sounds are a few birds chirping and the beautiful sound of ping, ping, ping.  That makes me smile because all 8 pints of strawberry/rhubarb jam has sealed.  Off to the basement shelves until late fall and early winter.  Then with a warm buttered slice of Salt Rising toast it will be a memory of the rainy, spring day it was canned.  Lucky there is a half pint left for tasting.  The man of the house thinks buttermilk biscuits are needed for breakfast.  I agree! 

Strawberry/Rhubarb Jam Recipe:
2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
1-3/4 cups thin sliced fresh rhubarb
1/2 tsp. butter
6-1/2 cups white sugar
1 pouch of certo
In a large pot add fruit, sugar and butter.  Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Add certo and boil 1 minute. 
Fill clean warm jelly jars, seal with lids and rings that have been in hot water, do not let the water boil.
Seal and put in a water bath for 10 minutes, remove and let cool.  This is when you should hear the pings as each lid cools and seals.
A beautiful color, unfortunately the fruit sets on top but no worry, just stir the jam when
we open it and all is mixed and tasty.
My favorite chocolate brownie recipe:
2 sticks of butter, not the fake stuff.
2 cups of sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup of flour
1 cup of walnuts or pecans if you want them.
In a medium size sauce pan melt the butter, remove from heat and add sugar, cool slightly and beat in the eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla and stir in flour and salt.  Next stir in the walnuts.  Bake at 350 degrees in a 9x13 greased baking pan for 25-30 minutes.  I don't frost these brownies, they are so moist and chocolaty they don't need anything but a cold class of milk or hot cup of coffee. Enjoy!
The evening snack.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Garden Week

Right on schedule as every May, it is garden planting time.  While I was out enjoying lunch with a dear friend the man of the house was busy getting the garden ready.  All year when the horsestall and chicken coop get cleaned it is piled by the garden waiting for spring.  Yesterday the pile was spread on the garden and tilled in.  Nothing but beautiful fresh turned soil and "shit".  By Sunday it will be mark the rows and start planting.  This is supposedly the year to down size.  Bean, peas, potatoes, corn, cukes and onions.  No lettuce, Swiss Chard or spinach.  They are seasonal eats but the other veggies are staples for canning and freezing that we enjoy all  year long.  I opened our last quart of green beans yesterday.  Usually I put up enough to get us through a complete year.  Last years garden did not produce it's usual bountiful crops.  Potatoes were next to none.  Hopefully this year will be better.  I love seeing the shelves full of beautiful canned vegetables and corn in the freezer.  Tomatoes, pears and peaches I buy by the bushels from the Amish.  A fresh tomato from the garden is always welcome but I find that they never ripen at the same time so it is easier to buy a couple bushels for canning spaghetti sauce, chipotle sauce and just stewed tomatoes for soups etc.  Our few plants provide the all time favorite "mater sandwiches".  Fresh bread, vined ripened tomato, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, it is a daily summer lunch.

We took a 4 day get-a-way from Cook'n by the Creek last weekend.  One of my favorite rides down Rt 15 south.  I never tire of the beautiful hills along the way or the Susquehanna River.  The sun was bright, sky was blue and traffic light.  We had Pandora playing.  My station, the 60s Rock and Roll, Richard's choice the old time country with all the great artists that have left this world.  My station brought back some great high school memories.  Like the formal dances of Prom, Christmas Ball and the Sweet Heart's Ball.  It made me wonder about the "last dance".  At the time we never think, this is the last dance and the last Prom.  To close down the night it always ended with a slow dance.  The songs I listened to along the way were all ones we had danced to 50 years ago.  Wow, it sure seems like yesterday getting all dressed up in a gown, "spike heels", and a beautiful "up do" hairstyle.  We were the lucky generation to have the ever so famous bands playing songs that gave us memories of a life time. 

Well, the garden is planted, temperatures are hovering around mid 60s and the rain has moved in.  Just what the garden ordered.  Last night we put up the frame for the cukes to climb and got the seeds in the ground.  Now to wait and look for the first little cracks in the top of the soil meaning the seeds have sprouted!  The green beans that we planted Sunday have already shown signs of sprouting.  The row had a long crack down through it.  Being the impatient type person I had to scuff the dirt and there it was, a bean sprout.  Happy gardener!
One of my favorite places at Cook'n by the Creek.

I never tire of the beauty in the "wish flower".

This delicate flowering bush is beautiful to look but the overly sweet pungent smell I don't
care for.  Thank goodness the flowers only last a week or so.
By the way..............the garden did not get downsized.  I knew it wouldn't.  We say that every year at the end of the season and when a new season begins it is back at it. 

The next job here will be brush hogging the pastures and fields.  Looking at them yesterday I mentioned it is time to get the brush hog hooked up with Mr. John Deere.  So it begins, the summer fun.  Put me on a tractor so I can breathe deep, enjoy the view and remember things that have been locked away in my memory files.  Another year, full circle.

The cabin is showing progress even though we spend less time each day working on it.  I don't think work is a way to describe our time there, more like "loving on it".  The heavy duty jobs are finished, it is now the fine tuning which requires little muscle power and more "take our time to figure it out".

With Memorial Day weekend near it is time to think of so many that have touched my soul.  We usually put artificial flowers in the urns.  Not this year, we were at the garden center buying flowers for the house and cabin when I thought........I am buying my mom's favorite flowers for the urns this year.  Real, not artificial and it made me happy.  I am sure they won't last all summer but the thought is more loving and respectful.  Pansies and geraniums with all the colorful glory. 

Enjoy the long weekend and remember.........pass it on!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fish and Flooring!

Spring brings a few of my favorite things.  One being fresh caught trout.  The water is still cold which makes for a nice texture and flavor of trout.  Yesterday I told my grandson and nephew that a small, no bigger than 8 inch trout would taste mighty fine.  They are on the local streams often but always do catch and release.  Just this once will ya bring me home one.  They did!  We had to make a trip to Olean for cabin supplies...............flooring!  When I got back there in a bowl of cold water was my lunch for today.  It was excellent, just as every spring!  Dick was having lunch out with his buddies so it was a perfect time for me to dine quietly on fresh fish. Lightly dusted with flour, salt and pepper.  Then off to the frying pan to fry until crisp on the outside.  That was a memory making lunch.  I even laughed thinking of a little poem I would say to the kids when they were little and headed out to fish with their dad.  Are ya ready.........."Little fishy in the brook, Bart, Amber, Beau catch him on a hook. Mommy fry him in a pan,  Daddy eat him like a man."  Only in our house daddy would not and will not eat trout!  Too many bones he says but I think he is a city slicker and only eats haddock, perch and walleye. 

Here is the only way to fry trout and enjoy the meat with out the fine bones being a problem.
Clean and wash the trout, dry well with a paper towel, add salt and pepper to flour.  Roll the trout in the flour mixture, melt butter in a fry pan and fry the fish until crispy and golden brown.  Now, here is the trick.  Once the trout is done put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  For some reason it pulls the bones from the meat.  Now you have it.  The secret to a good fresh trout fry.  If you wrinkle your nose on the thought you are missing a very delicate, mild fish.  No fishy taste or smell.  From the stream to the pan is the only way!
Fresh fish, thanks Kent and Ricardo!

Off shopping with Amberly, Kamrie, Kent and Dick.
When you go to the city, it is calamari for us!
Another thought about fishing trout came to mind while enjoying lunch and watching the Orioles eating oranges and grape jelly from the feeder.  My brother taught my kids how to..........."finger fish".  What you say, finger fish?  It is illegal as heck, always has been and always will be.  There are just times that everyone should know how to finger fish.  Who knows you could possibly be lost, hungry, no fishing pole and then where would you be?  So, just in case here is a way to keep from starving when you are lost, hungry and a trout stream near by.  You get down and do a belly crawl to the edge of the stream bank.  Very slowly reach your hand into the water, under the bank and move it down stream.  With any luck you will have a trout in your hands within seconds.  Trout like to hang under the bank edge or where a tree has fallen in.  They wait until something catches their eye, like a worm or other bait and then, BAM! they swim out and grab it.  By fingering the fish you are eliminating a lot of time.  Just finger them, grab and go but only if you are lost and starving.  Don't do anything illegal............

Back to the flooring for the cabin.  Kitchen cabinets will be started soon by our friend that is building them.  How kind of a guy is he?  One of the best.  Dick will be his go-for-guy.  I will enjoy that considering I am his go-for-gal.  I told Ron, make sure you yell at him and say, hurry up, no not that, over there, see it.......this would be fun but I doubt it will go down that way.  Ok, the flooring.  It had to be put down before the cabinets go in.  We got up early this morning to get started and by gosh didn't we do just fine!  No fighting and the laminate flooring went in just like You Tube said it would.  Not a problem.  Half of the kitchen/living room was down in 3 1/2 hours.  We only had to get half down since that is all the kitchen is.  Maybe tonight get the rest of the flooring down and then, get off those knees.  I got to laughing watching us crawl around like babies!  Unfortunately the tall guy didn't see anything funny about it.  The short girl doesn't have so far to get up and down.  One plus for being short.
Won't be long and floor will be checked off the to do list.
It has been a little crazier than normal around here.  Lawn, weed whacking, asparagus picking and the cabin.  Just the way we like it, fast and furious.   Winter was for resting, now it is time to.......move it, move it.  As soon as the weather pattern changes from wind, rain and frosts it will be time to light the outdoor pizza oven!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Farmer Brown

The days have been filled with cabin work, lawn mowing and best of all.........asparagus picking and canning!   I think it is coming on fast and furious compared to other years.  Each morning after chores I check the asparagus bed and at least 2 pints or 1 quart needs picked.  I rinse it and let it set in a bowl covered with water and ice for the day.  By afternoon it is ready to pickle.  Two pints of dill and garlic, two pints of just cider brine and 1 quart of hot pepper flakes added.  On top of the canning we have had two suppers with asparagus as the veggie or main event.  We bought a pound of different variety type mushrooms, fried them lightly (because they were so light and tender) next we lightly browned the asparagus, added more butter (everything is better with butter), olive oil, salt and pepper.  Tossed it in cooked spaghetti and we had supper.  Crusty bread on the side made the meal.  I love easy fixes and this is one for sure.  Next time I plan on using hot pepper flakes and a little prosciutto in it and a spiral pasta.  Can ya tell I like pasta?  Before the end of season a pot of cream of asparagus soup will be on the menu.  Winter is officially over, even though there were flakes in the air today.  Canning season is officially starting.  The rhubarb is also in full swing.  My niece got her spring fix and even shared a delicious rhubarb pie with us.  Next week I will be making strawberry/rhubarb sauce and putting some up for the upcoming cold winter.....gotta think ahead around Cook'n by the Creek.  I always tuck away 2 pounds of frozen strawberries from the previous summer for rhubarb sauce and jelly. 
Every morning the garden gives us a gift.  I swear
we could watch it grow! 

From garden to plate, the work is worth the taste.

Speaking of gardens, let me tell ya about a fella that moved from Shinglehouse long ago.  He went to school here, then off to the military and ended up in Edna, Texas.  We hadn't seen Bob Brown in 50 years until his 50th class reunion last June.  We were lucky enough to have him and his wife visit us for a day.  Coffee Up, is Bob's famous saying.  We did just that, plenty of coffee during the day.  I might have met my match on a coffee drinker.  He even liked the JMC I had.  Ok, so he got interested in gardening and .............yes..........chickens.  We have been messaging back and forth with a question/answer session and I might say, he is a natural.  Being in south Texas he has been harvesting green bean, cukes and tators already. Sending pictures and making me wish it was garden time here.  That would mean summers end so I won't wish it away.  I will just enjoy "Farmer Brown's" pictures and messages.  Go......Farmer Brown....you are doing great for a first year farmer!
Nice looking red potatoes!
Just the way they should be, straight and dark green.

The other day I rode along with Dick while he went to get cracked corn.  I hadn't been up Kings Run that far in years.  It was beautiful with memories of visiting my cousins.  The ones that were closest to my age were Larry and Grace Gross.  The visits were few but the memories still fulfill the place I hold dear in my heart.  It was a time that it was just me and mom riding along and chattering.  She loved spring with the May flowers, Violets, Adders Tongues and Stink Pots. I guess they are really Trilliums. When she would see some we would always stop and pick bouquets to take home.  The ride the other day made me smile every time I saw the beautiful spring flowers.  So, do you know what I am talking about when I say Adders Tongues?  I think I better go google that and see what they are really called.
The "stink pot"
The Adder's Tongue or Erythronium Americanumes.  I'll stick
to Adder's Tongue!
Along with the wild flowers in full bloom the apple trees (wild and tame) are gorgeous and loaded with blossoms.  Also the wild strawberry plants  are in full bloom along with our tame blueberry bushes.  Now, I sometimes like to worry (wink) which makes me worry that a frost or freeze is going to come along in May and ruin the fruits harvest this year.  Last year was plentiful and we were able to have our annual apple squeezing, cider making day.  Could we be lucky enough to have it two years in a row!  Only time will tell what will be. 

Last week we went to Lowes.  Sound exciting?  For me it is!  I planned on shopping for new sandals and a couple outfits that I desperately need...............but.............Lowes..............was the store for me.  Much easier picking out a few tools that I have wanted for quite a while.  Like, wood chisels and a hand planner.  All mine..........until the guy decided he was in need to use them.  How did he get along without them?  They are handy little tools to have, I wanted them for when I start my Kuksa which I hope will be soon.  Just looking for that perfect piece of wood to use.

We are headed down the home stretch.  Windows are all
cased in and soon the chair rail and ceiling trim
will be just a memory.