Monday, May 16, 2022

Today is Oxtail Soup Day!

                            Oxtail soup and a buttermilk biscuit!

Visiting Hoffman's Family Farm is always a pleasant and gratifying.  We have been friends with the family since they first moved to their beautiful farm, Keith, Brad and Bart were just little grade school guys.  Thanks to Little League Baseball the parents got to meet each other and then we became friends.  Life is good in our little community.  So, back to our Saturday visit to their meat shop.  It is amazing and part of me wants to not spread the word and the nice part of me (yes, sometimes I am nice)  says, let this family owned business flourish with all their wonderful products and kindness.  

Carol, the mom to this clan was there along with her daughter, Tricia and daughter-in-law, Heather.  I am not going to get into what we talked about because the conversation had a wide range of catching up with each family's news.  Tricia showed me some new items they now have.  Oxtail being my, oh........yes I want them.  Then I noticed  they are now selling lamb which they said is sold out quickly.  They had one package of ribs and one package of ground lamb left.  I am now on the call when you get more in list.  I believe I have said this before but just a water weight!!!  You know, the ground beef you buy in the store when you fry it there is a great amount of water in the pan.  Yes, that is what you pay for, might be a few cents cheaper, or not but you are getting water.  When I fry Hoffman's ground beef......NO water.  All good healthy farm raised right in our area.  

As I type I can hear the oxtail sizzling in the pressure cooker getting nice and brown, then add to pressure cook for about 30 minutes. Once the pressure is released I will add carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, barley, baby butter beans, peas and green beans.  Throw in a couple bay leaves and a small jar of tomatoes.  It will simmer for about an hour.  Perfect day for Oxtail soup......rain and 65 degrees.  Leftovers for the week while we work in the new garden beds and screen in our back porch.  

                                    fresh veggies for the soup

                                     small butter beans cooked
                                       vacuum packed Oxtail
                                            browned Oxtail
                            Pressure cooker singing and dancing

About the baby butter beans, I start with the dry ones, cover with water and simmer until tender.  If you like butter beans then give the home cooked dry ones a try.  No contest for store canned vs home cooked.  I never add seasoning until my food is cooked.  This way I control the amount to taste.  I recently read that salting fresh vegetable before cooking causes the cook time to be longer.  Since I don't salt prior to cooking I can't say for sure if this is true.

Typing away and waiting for the pressure cooker to start the cha-ching noise I realized it should be dancing and cha-chinging to me by now.  The little top safety gasket is worn out and letting the pressure escape around it.  Lucky when I buy it is in quantity, as in 3 at a time.  Usually every 2-3 years I have to replace one.  The next time I do will leave me only one so out will go the Amazon order for 3 more.  It is now dancing and singing to me.  Thirty minutes and the Oxtails will be nice and tender.  Ready to finish off the soup for supper.  Because we have supper for our evening meal and dinner on Sunday 😍

The rain has let up so it is time to caulk the places that need it on the back porch.  The next sunny day we will be painting the frame work.  Once the painting is done, set the screen door and put the screen on the frame work.  Then it is off to find some outdoor bargains for the room.  Love the thrift stores.

Take time to enjoy the sun and the rainy days.  Both have a special time in our lives.  Remember without rain there would be nothing.  It refreshes and nourishes the Earth and all living things.  Smile

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Now Cook'n at the Hillside

No matter where the kitchen it is "love in the kitchen with Della"

I am at the base of the hill, still a beautiful view from my kitchen and still just a glance away from the Creek.

Since getting back from North Carolina to the Clara Cabin (home) the kitchen has been busy.  Or should I say, the cook has been busy.  The sour dough started rests in the refrigerator and every second day a loaf of sour dough bread is started.  It takes 24 hours from start to finish but oh so worth it.  Sour dough bread has less carbs, no yeast or preservatives.  I use all purpose, bread flour, rye flour, wheat.  Whatever the mood is as to what one or mixture I use.  This week I am going to try for a little buckwheat flour too.  Not much because Buckwheat does not have gluten and that is what is needed to make a good bread.  The lasagna is not the typical recipe.  A guy thought of me and brought up a smoked/leek cottage cheese.  Yes!   I could not believe it could be smoked, it is delicious and my first thought was a stuffed pasta or lasagna with it.  Today will be the tasting.  Lasagna can be anything as long as it is layered with whatever ingredients you like.  From noodles, vegetables or any type of meat.  As long is it has a delicious filling and sauce.  Red sauce or white, makes no difference.  Think out of the normal and come up with your own creation.  Fun in the kitchen.  If it doesn't turn into what you expected, next time :)

We have been busy planting, getting gravel spread, starting vegetable beds, flower beds, painting and of course mowing and trimming.  Four blueberry bushes, several mulberry trees, apple trees and soon grapes.  Yes this little 1 1/2 acre is proving to hold quite a bit.  The good thing is the lawn takes about 10 minutes to mow giving up plenty of sunshine hours to enjoy watching the flowers, trees, veggies grow and the birds.  We have so many new birds this year.  I really think they like the feeders on the side hill where they can feed and hide in the trees and low lying bushes.  Ellie and Quincy are also busy outside.  They love catching chipmunks and red squirrels.  Ellie is best at it, in fact she caught two at the same time!  She plays with them, throws them up in the air, lets them try to get away, brings them back and puts her paw on them and it starts all over again.  Until.......they are dead.  Quincy goes straight for the kill, no playing.  That is why Ellie is so good catching them, to keep them away from Quincy so she can play with them.  You make think this is cruel but.......there are many, they eat way too much bird seed and get into our garage and shed.  Survival of the fittest.  

It looks like this week is going to be a dandy with warm weather and lots of sunshine.  Just remember it is May and we still will get frosts, cooler weather and maybe even a flake or two.  It has happened many times and will again.  For this week, enjoy and take time to relax. I am sure this will be the first days of overdoing outside.  

Friday, March 11, 2022

It is Time

 Time to head north! 

 Packing Sunday, leaving Monday.  First stop Union Bridge, Md for a visit and when the weather looks like dry and sun through PA will be on our way home.  That is so good to say, on our way home.  Yes, it has been warmer, more sunshine and beach walks but.......... home is mighty fine too.  Plus I just know the leeks are starting to wake up and maple sap will be maple syrup by the time we arrive back in Clara.  All winter and more in the last few weeks we have been making our "to do" lists around the yard.  Raised vegetable beds to fill with dirt and seeds, flowers to plant, a hillside to clear the brush from so we can plant even more "stuff".  The lawn will need raked up and grass seed put down in places since it got pretty scare with grass with all the building going on last summer and fall.  One of the best times to plant grass seed is early spring.  Good thing!  

We have been taking our daily beach walks, morning and afternoon.  Seashells have just started to appear in abundance and yesterday we found 8 shark's teeth.  From Dec. 8th until yesterday we only found 3 so it was a nice surprise to see so many.  When we vacationed at Treasure Island in Florida we would find so many in our two weeks there.  In fact I would tell the kids we couldn't go home until they found one.  The funny thing, three days ago I told Dick, we can't go home until we find a shark's tooth!  Bingo, jackpot we can go home.

Our last fresh fish and shrimp dinner was this week.  There is a clean friendly seafood shop about 2 miles from us.  They guy is always so nice and takes his time wrapping it and asking me how I am going to fix it.  We are on the grill or broiled always.  I told him this is our last buy for the season, headed north.  I love saying that, headed north.

Another reason it is time to leave, pollen!  It has been an allergy battle the last couple weeks and now we are seeing the famous yellow pine pollen starting to cover everything.  Lucky that is has rained off and on for the last two days.  Sunday all sun and that means more pollen.  Headed north, good bye yellow pollen. 

We did pretty good staying here for so long.  I don't think many thought we would last this long.......I didn't either.  We did spend time driving to different places and exploring many beaches.  

Another draft that never got finished.  Reading it could have been written today.  Some things never change.

July, 2020: Coffee this morning was also sky watching.  The sky was overcast with a few small black clouds rolling by quickly.  Then it happened, the far away rumble of thunder that was getting closer and a few lightning flashes.  Still no rain, would it pass us by like so many previous times in the last month or so?  Not thankful for the gentle rain that has been falling for about an hour, all day will be fine with me.  Tonight was our if it doesn't rain we will be carrying water from Clara Creek for a few choice squash and tomato plants.  Saved by the rain.  It would be hard to scoop from the creek since it is at an all time low.  One less worry of "if the rain will arrive".  I can get on to other rainy day plans. 

I hope to hear by the middle of August that peaches are ready, tasty and plentiful from down state between Harrisburg and Gettysburg.  Route 15 our go to MD road with a very nice Amish fruit stand and bakery.  Past years the peaches have been perfect for canning and half the price of what we would pay in our area.  Peaches and tomatoes will be on the list for our trip down scenic Route 15.

If you did not graduate from the Oswayo Valley High School I am going to post the schools alma mater.  Who wrote it was very talented and in tune to what our surrounding area looks like.  Unfortunately I have not found one person that knows the composer.  Sure wish we knew.  When the song is sung at sports evens it fills me with pride that I am so lucky to live here and enjoy our quiet, laid back area.  Our country is in upheaval, has been and will be for a long time to come.  Here in Oswayo Valley we are isolated from city life and happenings.  We have our problems but few compared to what other areas face.  I am not blind to the fact that any given time we could be subject to evil and should always be aware of our surroundings and beware of others.

Oswayo Valley Alma Mater:
In a pretty valley rimmed by hills so blue
Setting in a pathway that the red men knew
Seaward dancing, sunlight glancing
The Oswayo Flows
Oswayo Valley, when the years have come and gone
and softly singing in our memory ringing
comes this dear old song
Honor high and praise we sing
love and loyalty we bring
Our high school to you! 

The old "Pass it On"  was today.  We had several seashells and one shark tooth.  A little boy and his dad had a little bag and picking up random seashells.  Dick took ours over and the shark tooth for them.  Honestly, it couldn't have been a better give it away!  They both had big smiles and just kept thanking us.  Yes, it made our day.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Life in the Slow Lane

September 16, 2017, how about it?  I started going through some of my old drafts that never turned into a published blog.  After reading it and a few others I thought why not?  It was very pleasing to read a memory on the state of my mind that day so long ago. So a walk back in time and publish for everyone to read.  Thanks for my faithful readers that have so many kind words to say to me.  Life can be a downer and that means for everyone of us.  I try to only share my ups because that is what makes me smile, the ups out weight the downs.  Also, remember I was not an English major, didn't even remotely like English class no matter what teacher I had.  Liked the teachers just not English.. So as you read you can silently spell check, punctuation check, sentence structure, paragraph subject and when to start a new one.  One thing, I don't care what is wrong, write it like I say it ✌ Have a good week and remember the down hill slide of winter is upon us.  The older you get the faster time goes Cheryle Anne ❤  Straight from Della Gross when I was just a smart ass teen! 

Big John and Little Zero, lots of work done today.
There comes a time when the lawn needs mowed, the weeds need whacked branches need trimmed and dirt needs moved.  I am the lawn mower and weed whacker.  The guy that lives with me is the branch/tree trimmer and dirt mover.  Had he not trimmed branches I am afraid one of these days I would forget to duck and get slapped right of Little Zero.  It was getting close to happening,  I have a couple scratches on my forehead for proof.  With the branches trimmed it cut about 10 minutes off the mowing time.....I can go full throttle now.  I was going to take a picture of the front of Little Zero, it is quite sad.  My reputation for beating up lawn mowers runs long and deep.  I use the front of it to push a big old picnic table so I can mow under it.  Looking at it today I thought, what the heck happened to that?  Then it flashed in front of me......I push the picnic table with it!  One thing for sure I don't have to worry about the husband bitching at me.....he gave up a long time ago trying to make me more cautious and careful.  I'm on a mission when I mow, not sweet and slow, just fast and furious.  There is the house lawn, around the garden, the barnyard, down the lane and now the camp lawn.  Maybe 2-3 acres in all.  I love to mow and today was a perfect weather day to be on the mower.  The cool breeze, warm sun and the almighty view.  Yes, this was a take it easy day to ride the mower and get a few things thought out in my wandering mind. 

While I mowed Dick used Big John to push some dirt back in the long trench he had dug for the electric cable to be buried in.  Unfortunately there was quite a bit that needed to be shoveled by hand.  All done now, just wait for it to settle, had more dirt and then the grass seed.  By spring it will look like it had never been grassless.

We started working a little late this morning.  Coffee outside and just in that "stare mode" was quit nice.  The hurry up, keep on schedule of cabin building is over.  We can work at our own pace now. We headed off to the Genesee Hardware for more window flashing for installing 2 more windows tomorrow and 2 the next day.  Window will be finished.  Then we drove to School House Rd. in North Bingham to order a bushel of pears.  They will be in next Thursday, $18 a bushel.  Next we stopped at Joe Mullets (the Amish guy that built the cabin).  Dick had planned on closing in the soffits but the more we thought about it, looking way up there and it just kept looking higher we decided..............Joe Mullett......... and his boys will get it done in a half a day where as it will take us weeks.  It's hard working way up on a ladder holding on with one hand.  What the heck were we thinking?  With luck Joe will have a day he can get over here.
The clouds were so beautiful today.
Green, green, green!  A beautiful green it is around here.  The fields have bounced back from burnt brown to spring green.  What a ride, we took the long way home to check out some roads we had always wondered........where does that go?  Today we found out and what great scenery all the way.  Dick was driving and driving rather slow, we were the only ones out and about on these back roads.  He asked, we are not in any hurry are we?  Of course not,  I'm relaxed and enjoying the ride.
Looking down towards Alma Pond from NY road to Eleven Mile.  My favorite place to
look for Bald Eagles.


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

What Day Is It?

 How many times do we ask each other, what day is it!!!  On top of being retired, no particular given place to go, people to see or things to do it is hard to remember what day it is.  Unless we have an appointment and then the phone lets me know something is going on that day.  Staying at Holden Beach is even more difficult to keep track of the is Wednesday.  Two events that we must remember.  One is not so exciting, set the garbage out.  The other one we look forward to, $5.00 Sushi Day at the Food Lion.  How pathetic is that for being the spice of our life?  Last year I was in the Food Lion at Holden picking out some Sushi. The Oriental man and his wife came over and said, if you come in on Wednesdays all of the Sushi is $5 and it would pay to buy it then.  So, this is the second winter that $5 Sushi Wednesday is our go to.  It is all we eat for supper on Wednesday.  10 Sushi each, so I guess we could say $10 is a tasty cheap meal.  Plus, no cooking and only 2 plates and 2 forks to wash.  

We do not eat raw Sushi.  A few weeks ago we picked up one with raw and did not notice until we got home.  Being a little braver I said, I will try it, maybe it is good and just sounds awful.  I popped one in and chewed a couple bites...........yuck about the third bite down on it I felt the mushy nasty raw tuna.  I spit it out so fast!  NEVER will I give it a try again.  For the ones that like raw, have at it. 

To keep Cook'n by the Creek memories going way down south I made Eleanor Stavisky's Molasses Cookies yesterday.  They have been mentioned quite a few times since December, I finally decided to give it a try.  You see the range is electric here and it just seems nothing tastes as good cooking and baking with electric.  I can't seem to master timing and correct temperature settings.  Once something is done on the cook top it has to be removed from the burner because the coils stay hot after it is turned off!  Not like good old gas.  Shut the flame off and all heat stops.  What a pain electric is.  The cookies turned out ok, not the best but ok.  They didn't seem to get as big and soft as usual.  Another thing I tried and failed was my sour dough bread.  The starter was perfect and ready but for some reason the electric oven does not allow for moisture like a gas oven does.  Out went my starter and I will start another batch when I get back to Clara.  Nothing better than a loaf of crusty sour dough bread with a good crumb.  By crumb I mean when you cut open the cooled loaf it is full of air holes for all the butter to melt into.  YUM  The piece on top of the loaf sticking up is called an ear.......that is a good thing.  It means the sourdough did what it was suppose to do.  You never know until you take the cover off the dutch oven for it brown for the last 15 minutes.  It is the awww moment or....crap moment.  I have had a few crap moments too.

On our way for the beach walk this morning just before we go over the big bridge to the Island was a nice 6 point buck that had been hit by a vehicle.  We have seen several deer dead along side the road here.  Just like home, watch out for the deer!

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

One Day, Three Beaches

 It really sounds like we had a big day of beach hopping.  Not so.  We went to Topsail Island and for some reason it is divided into 3 municipalities, North Topsail, Surf City and Topsail Beach.  If they didn't have big welcome signs at each place you would think you are at the same beach.  We enjoyed Topsail Beach the most.  More laid back, few to none walking the beach and dogs are free, no leash from October 1 until May 1.  We kept their leashes with us because you never know what kind of dog might be off leash.  We have encountered a couple big mean ones that have their owner straight armed trying to hold them back.  Dang, why?  That would be far from an enjoying walk with a dog.  Plus, the worry of the damage the dog could do on human or another dog.  Since we walk the beach twice a day at Holden Beach we have learned from afar if it is a dog we need to stay away from.  Usually the beach is wide enough to walk on the opposite side of where Mr. or Mrs. Mean and Nasty is.  Back to the beaches, Holden is our all time NC beach.  We have been to the three I mentioned plus, Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach.  Both of those are beautiful but quite a bit more action and population.  Within a few years I am sure Holden will be right up there as busy and crowded as the others.  Since last winter we have seen the earth moving and businesses going up.  A new RV park is ready to open soon and is huge!  Also a big tall building going up that we heard is going to be a candy store like the one in North Myrtle Beach, 40 minutes south of us.  Build it and they will come!

There is a little bagel shop that also has homemade ice cream.  Yes!  We stopped and the bagels are the best New York style.  They also sell their special flavored cream cheese from different fruits, veggie, bacon cheddar and Jalapeno!  We did get an ice cream cone, also very good.  That is just to close for comfort, 2 miles!  In Clara we have at least a 15 minute drive to town and neither of us will take the bait to go get something we might be craving.  

Yesterday the waves were crashing and so loud we could not hear anything else.  Each day on our way to walk we say, well how will the waves be today.  Just a guess and so far we have not guessed correctly.  For some reason the days that we think the water will be calm and gentle it turns out to loud, crashing with foam and spray going into the air and on the beach.  Living in the hills of Potter County, PA is easy to know what the weather is going to be.  On the NC Coast, absolutely no clue of predicting the weather.  Red sky in the morning here is usually a beautiful day, Red sky at night is the same, another nice day tomorrow.  The one thing I do know if morning or night does not have a red sunset........rain is usually happening or soon will. 

Don't think we are down here for the winter just relaxing and walking on the beach.  Since our son and wife are so kind to let us stay at their beach place we try to do a few things to help them.  This year is was plastering, priming and painting the master bedroom.  Painted the living room, kitchen and hall way. I got to pick all the colors!  How trusting is that?  Friday they will be here to see the make-over. 😜 I am a little fearing!  Kinda like Love it or List it... 

I have to keep busy because.........after a week away I get homesick for Clara, family and friends.  Once we get home I will miss our beach walks, the convenience of Hobby Lobby 10 minutes away plus some other favorite stores.  At Holden Beach every place we like to go is no more than 20 miles away.  A Food Lion is 2 miles from us which makes it nice since it is on our way to the beach.  Even with all this stores it still feels like we are in the country.  Lots of woods, even deer and turkey sightings.  The biggest surprise was seeing 3 sets of deer tracks on Holden Beach last week.  They went right down to the water!  

Monday, January 31, 2022

Old Fashioned Fried Cakes

 For some reason I am always one or two meals ahead of the one we just ate.  I don't like going to the grocery store for ingredients so I have to think of what is in the frig, freezer or cabinets that will make a meal.  Last night I asked, would you like Gramma Carrie's fried cakes for breakfast?  Of course I did and I knew he would.  Nothing better than a homemade fried cake and a hot cup of coffee, well maybe 2 and 2 cups of coffee.  Do you know what a fried cake is?  Just a doughnut or donut that is not made with yeast.  They are heavier and a welcome treat at our house.  Gramma was in her early 90s when she taught me how to make them.  I was maybe 19 and just married.  Thank goodness she lived next door and told me to come over tomorrow she would show me how to make donuts.  She knew how much all of her kids and grandkids loved them.  I was so frustrated and ready to throw in the spoon.  We made 2 batches.  Gramma would take one out of the frying grease, break it open and say..........too much flour, not enough flour, grease was to hot, grease wasn't hot enough!!!!  She believed in hands on and let me do it all until the final, break open the donut.  To this day I break open the first donut hole, half way through donut and the last donut.  My husband stood there watching me when I broke open the first one.....the grease is too hot.  He wanted to know, how do you know.  I showed him just as Gramma showed me.  The very center was not done, still wet.  Needless to say he knows I don't even like him stirring a pot or turning over anything I am cooking.  He didn't even ask if he could help with frying the donuts.  Now, that is real fear of the cook!

Powdered Sugar or Cinnamon Sugar!

I guess we might as well make this blog all about food.  It is one of my favorite subjects!  We bought some sweet cubanelle peppers a couple days ago and also a jar of spaghetti sauce, made in Italy!  How could you go wrong.  I stuffed the peppers with Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, garlic and 3 kinds of cheese and lightly browned them in oil.  The remainder of the Italian sausage and mushrooms I had went into the bought spaghetti sauce to have over spaghetti noodles.  A little hot pepper flakes and grated cheese on top finished it.  The left over spaghetti sauce went in the freezer for homemade pizza one night this week. 
Saturday night supper.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Spring Things

 In the last couple weeks we had to drive to Wilmington which is about 40 minutes north of us.  On the way back we go through Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher.  Just little coastal towns.  At the end of the island is Fort Fisher with a museum, aquarium, beach and civil war trails that wind through the area.  It is a very interesting stop  that also gives the dogs time to stretch their legs and........well you know.  The beach is great, they can run free and get plenty tired before we go the rest of the way back to Holden Beach.  Also Fort Fisher/Southport Ferry is $7. one way for the auto, 2 of us and 2 dogs.  We love it and once we get to Southport we are 25 minutes from Holden.  Just a nice change of scenery.  Now, the down fall of the ferry.  This was little Ellie's second ferry trip and she does not do well on the ferry.  Panting, whining, shaking, no talking and petting calms her down.  Once we land and off for the rest of the road trip she is fine.  The end, no more ferry for us.  Hard to believe this little girl rules our life but she does.

              The beach at Fort Fisher, nice spot to wait for the ferry.

Last night we had take out from a little cafe not far from us.  On the Holden Beach website someone asked about restaurants and this cafe was the most recommended.  We have been here since Dec 8, this is the second place we have gone to.  I always say, if restaurants depended on people like us......there would be no restaurants!  Back home the Pizza King in Wellsville and Red & Trudy's is our main stops.  Once in a while if friends invite us we go to Just One More.  We really don't like to eat out.  Maybe because one of my favorite and most peaceful times  is when I am in the kitchen.  Easy to see by the title of my blog what makes me happy.  

Back to our take out last night.  It was delicious, we both had the shrimp dinner with cole slaw, hush puppies, lots of shrimp lightly dusted with a flavorful seasoning.  Dick got onion rings and I got fried okra.  What we decided.......split the next time.  No way could we finish it all. 

                 So much great food from the Surfer's Cafe!


Soon it will be February and I am already thinking of my favorite spring things.  By the end of March when we get home it will be time to dig leeks.  A friend will be taking Dick mushroom hunting to his favorite chanterelle  mushroom site.  Now that will make for a great spring supper, leeks, mushrooms and trout!  I bet some of you are thinking, no thanks.  Just the country girl in me that longs for these country foods. 

 Many might remember Vernie Howard that lived on Honeoye St in Shinglehouse.  Aola Maxson was one of his daughters.  When our kids were very young we went to Maxson's camp on Fiske Hollow just over the hill from Clara.  The adult women sat around and cleaned so many leeks that sunny warm spring day.  By early evening it was a ham and leek dinner with all the trimmings.  I can still hear Vernie Howard saying, leeks are a spring tonic.  He was right, especially when long ago refrigeration was not an option and grocery stores had little fresh fruit and vegetables.  By the time spring rolled around everyone was ready for fresh foods.  Leeks being one of the first spring greens.  Then there are the fiddle head ferns, wild asparagus, dandelion greens, cowslip, watercress and of course mushrooms.  I am sure many more but these are the only ones I heard of from my dad and mom.  Mom would take me to the pasture near the Oswayo Creek on our Horse Run farm to find mushrooms.  That night we would have them fried in butter with salt and pepper.  I know many will never try a wild mushroom and you shouldn't unless you are 100% sure you know what ones are edible.  One thing for sure, once you have had the wild ones you will never enjoy the store mushrooms again.  So, I will be anxiously waiting for spring greens, mushrooms and just a couple young trout.  

The four seasons I have lived with all my life are the best.  Each one has a special meaning that can bring back good memories or for making new ones.  There are sad memories in the 4 seasons but those you put on file in your mind and only bring them up when you feel it necessary.  Good and bad, they are all part of learning and moving on. Try to share your memories with your kids and grandkids.  It is the only way most family stories are passed on.  Of course they might get bigger and better as they are passed down.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Game Face

I have often wondered in the last few years.......the older you get the better sweet things taste?  In our case the answer is yes.  For some unknown reason I was the one that loved sweets.  Now it seems we both do!  Maybe it is our age and hell, you will be one day older tomorrow if it is to be.  So, give me the good stuff, sweets, coffee with real half & half.  Notice no healthy veggies or broiled meat, poultry and fish.......although we do eat all of that.  Just not on the top of my what I want to eat list.  Also, it seems that  7 pm is the highlight of my day on what is there good to eat? 

                                     so many flavors!
                   Of course a piece of caramel/vanilla/pecan fudge!

 Every morning we take a  2 mile or more walk on Holden Beach.  The fresh air gets us going and also tires the dogs enough that they will sleep for most of the day and not follow us around begging for treats or go for a walk.  Then in the afternoon back to the beach for one last fresh air and tire the dogs. I complaining that they ask for treats??  Now that is being a little two faced on the treat standards.  If we can have treats  then why would I deny the dogs to want a few nibbles after 7 pm.  Never thought of it that way!

What do we do while wintering in NC besides the beach walks.  Dick is in the shop building bird houses and feeders.  We might need to hire a long haul trucker to get them home!  I knit, bake or read just as I do back at the little cabin.  It is a good 4 months to get my knitting projects done.  From scarves, shawls and socks they will be finished by April 1. I always pick patterns that challenge my knitting.  Most of the time You Tube saves my sanity if I have a hard time figuring out the technique.  In the summer I will make another order of yarn and look for more patterns. The cycle that has been on going since I can remember.  I did sew 3 Baja pullovers made from Army blankets my son gave me.  His was first a couple years ago and then the "I want one"  started.  Another son, grandson and friend of a son all done and only one left to deliver.  They are rustic and look like you should be in the woods roughing it.  Real wool is the best for warmth and moisture wicking.  The only problem I have with wool is I am allergic to it.  It makes me itch and get a red rash so never do I wear it.  While making the Baja pullovers it was itchy hands for a few days.  Anything for the kids and grandkids 😍💥


As a little girl my dad wore wool winter clothes.  I always thought the trousers were funny looking because they had wide hips, narrowed down to be snug at the mid calf of his leg.  His leather boots came up high enough so the top of the trousers went over them.  In the winter he walked the pipe lines and checked pump stations for Messer Oil that was on the Horse Run Road.  He also had snow shoes when the snow was deep.  No four wheeler or side by sides back then, just good old foot power.  Off he would go with his lunch box and a thermos of hot tea for the day.  Before he left the cows had to be milked and when he got home they were milked again. 

I found these Woolrich Jodphurs on ebay and they are exactly like the ones by dad wore in the 1950s and probably many years  before that.  He had leather laces to pull them tight around the calf of his leg and over the top of his boots.  

 My mom did the feeding and cleaning the drops.  Do you know what a drop is?  It is a long narrow, about 12 inches deep trough that ran the full length behind the cows when in their stanchions.  It is where the manure went and had to be cleaned everyday in the winter.  In the summer the cows were outside 24/7 and only came in for feed and to be milked.  So, back to the drops.  I guess they were called that because it was where the cows dropped the poop and pee, or maybe because it dropped down about 12 inches.  Who knows, now I am wondering.  There goes that crazy wondering/wandering mind of mine.  Never the mind, it was with a square deep shovel used to clean out the drops, thrown into the shit spreader and then hauled by tractor to the fields to use as fertilizer.  The full circle of food to field, field to table :)

Now you have read one of the many reasons why farmers love their farms.  And that my friends is the truth!

Remember, every morning put on that game face and remind yourself that even though it can be a trying day it must be faced with love and respect.  We are not perfect, our lives are not perfect and certainly we are all facing that morning to put the game face on.  One more thing, pass on the gift of whatever you have.  Be it knowledge how to do something, a book you know a someone would like to read, a cookie, cup of tea or coffee just pass it on.  Shhhh don't tell anyone you gave one of these gifts, it takes away from the true meaning of why you did.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Cook'n at the Beach

Yes , life has changed since my last blog so very long ago.  At 72 one thing I finally learned each day or minute changes in ways I never knew possible.  We have sold our little farm, moved across the road to a cabin we built 4 years ago.  It was 20 x 20 ft @ 400 sq ft. total.  This summer and fall we added on a  16 x 20 ft bedroom and bathroom.  now we have a total of 720 sq ft. of living space.  It was proof for us that down sizing is a joy.  We both sorted, kept, threw and gave away.  I have a feeling in the spring when we head back home from NC we will........sort, keep, throw and give away again.  I like living with only what is needed and what I love.  As far as cleaning the little cabin, that is great too!.  Zip and it is done.  We have two porches to enjoy.  One looks to the hill directly behind the cabin and is accessed from  sliding doors in our bedroom.  I can knit, read or just relax looking at the birds at the feeder or enjoying the flowers.  Little did we know how much we would love our new home.  Our friends gave us a sign that says, little house with lots of love.  How true.  

So after so much work and a kind talented guy that was Dick's Little League player so many many years ago we are settled with only what ever we want to do.  Of course we have a list, screen in the back porch, a few more shelves inside, paint the shed and put up eave troughs on the buildings.  Eave does that date me or what?  Now they are called gutters...I like my name much better.

Well like the title says, cook'n by the beach.  We are 2 miles from it but if we could walk on water it would be 1/3 a mile give or take a few feet.  The bridge is the only access to cross the inter coastal water.  So drive we must.  Holden Beach is the last of the beaches in southern NC to see development.  In one year the earth (sand) has been moving.  A new campground, homes and businesses.  Soon Holden Beach will lose the old coastal town feel.  Progress.......

We have been enjoying fresh fish and shrimp.  Once a week we drive 3 miles to the Old Ferry Docks and get fresh right off the boats.  We watch the shrimp boats every day that they are out.  Just off shore with the seagulls and terns hovering over the shrimpers just waiting for a free meal.  

So far we have tried several new kinds of fish.  When the fish guy asks what kind he is finally suggesting a white, firm, mild fish.  So far so good he has picked good ones.  Our favorite way to fix the fish and shrimp is in an olive oil, butter, garlic and old bay mixture sauteed in a pan quickly.  Then  poured over linguine or angel hair pasta. A slice of crusty bread to sop up the left over sauce!  Easy to fix and easy clean up.  I know when we get home frozen won't due and it will be another year if we are blessed to come back.

The tall guy that lives with me has a birthday tomorrow.......Off to Southport to the Christmas Store which has everything not just Christmas stuff.  It is in an old Victorian House near the bay.  So many beautiful things to look at and yes, maybe buy.  You probably wonder, does he really like to shop like a woman.  Well, the bait is salt water taffy!  They have over 60 flavors and he LOVES salt water taffy.  A win for both of us.  My favorite flavor is Mango Jalapeno, just the right amount of heat!

This looks like a drone flew over to take the it is just one I took with my phone.  The tide had gone out and left these little streams of water eroding the sand back to the ocean.  Now I know why they are continually dredging from off shore and back to the beach.

My exciting find this afternoon.  Never have we found one like this.  And then I turned it over and a slimy little critter pulled back in the shell.  No, I did not keep it.  It would have made me so sad to not throw it back to the home it needed.  So hopefully it will survive.

We pick up trash we find but one think I refuse to pick up is other dog's poop!  I never thought I would see the day my husband would take a bag and pick up our dogs.  LOL  He does and actually we take turns.  There are plenty of garbage cans to dispose of it and trash.  No need to deface earth!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Wait and Wish

 How about it?  Two of the most used words in my lifetime!  Wait......until the temperatures get warmer,  wait.......until the temperatures get cooler, wait......until the leaves change, hunting season, snow arrives, leeks pop through the ground, spring gobbler, trout fishing, get the garden ready, plant the garden, harvest the garden, put the garden to rest for the winter............I can't wait until.......  Then the wish my life away, wish for vacation, family to visit, grandchildren to be born, sons to come back to the USA from deployment, you name it I have wished just as much as I wait for things to happen.  Now, at my age it pretty much has stopped.  Each day is another day to not think of tomorrow or what I want or want to do.  Just take it for what it is.  

Today was the first cool day for us to get some outside work done without complaining how sweaty we are.  I put on my favorite old purple hooded sweatshirt and away I went.  First was to brush hog the fields for one last time this year.  Moving right along and enjoying the ride and view it happened.  A pin sheared which means the hog quits cutting and a new pin has to be put in.  No big deal it was actually time to move on to something else.  Keep a little spice in my life :)  Next I gathered the peas left on the plants to dry.  These will be used to plant in the spring.  Once I got all the dead pea plants pulled Dick hauled them away to the big garden to "wait" for the rest of the garden plants to turn dry and brown.  They will be burned in one big pile and the potash spread on the garden for a little extra nutrition.  Together we picked a bucket of Roma tomatoes that I will can, not sure what.....stewed or plain.   We also had quite a few hot peppers that will be fire roasted and put in the freezer for a great almost Hatch Green Chile Stew.  Not Hatch chiles but will still be might tasty in the cold snowy days of winter.

The dead pea plants that are no more. 

My view, up and down the valley.  It is something I never tire of.

Way down there, is a guy on the garden tractor with a can of paint, paint brush and headed to the upper wood line to paint a bench he made me.  My favorite walk and set on the bench to enjoy the view.

The NC corn is ready to pick.  We didn't think it would ripen but what a nice surprise.  Some ears are over 12" long.  I have never seen such huge white kernels and the best doesn't get stuck between teeth!  The reason I don't like to eat corn on the cob, not the problem with this corn.  Also ready was our grapes.  We look forward to them just to eat.  So sweet and the skins are light and tender with no seeds to spit out.  I wish I could remember what variety but not sure....think they were called champagne grapes.  

One more "wish"......just can't help myself.....RAIN, we need lots of gentle rain for days and days!  The creeks are so low, scary!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

It is Elderberry Time

 Yes, the little dark purple berries are ready.  We picked yesterday and will again on Friday.  This morning I sat and took them off the stem cluster.  Three ways to do this, 1. just rub them between your fingers and the fall right off it ripe enough, (I wear rubber gloves).  2. use a wide tooth comb to pull them off and 3. use a fork.  I like number one method the best.  Two and three tend to get more stems and then you have to pick those out.  The best way is to soak the berries in cold water, the ripe will go to the bottom and the not so ripe, stems, leaves and even a bug or two will float.  Just skim them off the top of the water.  All of the elderberries will go to the freezer until one of those cold winter days.  Cooking jelly makes the house smell so good and brings up a memory or two of the day we picked.  Today when I was cleaning them as always the same memory comes to mind.  On the farm the Leilous family was our neighbor.  Joyce and Linda were a couple years older than mean and their brother Donny a few years younger.  Their mom was a great cook and baker, you could always smell good things when I rode my bike into their yard during the warm weather months.  Their dad worked at Clark Brothers in Olean.  Every August he had his kids  pick Elderberries for a couple Italian guys he worked with.  They used them to make wine and paid by the bushel.  I have no idea how much I helped because it gave me something to do.  Being in the country it was something different and fun to do.  We would spend most of the afternoon picking. There was a huge Elderberry patch behind their house.  So today I went back to those afternoons spent with friends.  It's funny because now I can't even think what we talked about!  Probably the first day of school coming up.  Back then country kids were always excited for the first day of school.

Thinking about the first day of school the weather has it in the air.  Very close to that fall feeling.  Trees are starting to turn from deep greens to lighter, wild apples are starting to fall to give way for some to get a little bigger and few wild flowers except for the dreaded golden rod.  It is starting to show color.  After the predicted rains this weekend we will be walking the forest looking for wild mushrooms.  They love the wet and once the rain comes they will pop up almost immediately.  The other thing that is sought after this time of the year is ginseng.  We find it but don't dig it.  Many do and can make quite a bit of money selling it once it is dried.  

This has been quite a season for the Orioles.  They left, they're back, left and now they are back again.  They might be northern Orioles headed south.  If they are we are surprised they know to stop by our porch for hummingbird food.  We are filling two feeders 2-3 times a day that is equal to 4-6 cups.  This is the best year ever for them!  Every morning and night they are our entertainment.  Even our friends from Olean stop by to watch the show every once in a while.  

One more reason to know fall is near...........the guys are preparing for archery season and rifle season.  Two new huts are being built.  The grandson and gramps have been busy with the final touches on the one gramp will use.  It doesn't seem like a year has past since having this time of year upon us.  Like my mom said, the older you get the faster time goes.  That is for sure!  

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Rain Never Falls

Before I could post this blog the rain did fall for a brief time.  Enough to give everything a nature's drink of goodness.

                                          The first sign of fall, sunflowers.

A few times in the last month we have said, it feels like rain.  It did, the air turned cool, the wind picked up and dark clouds moved in.  Just as fast the clouds separated, the wind quit and the temperatures went back up.  There has been a few storms all around us but none at Cook'n by the Creek.  Soon without rain the creek will have completely stopped flowing.  In the 21 years we have lived here I have never seen the water so low.  Barely a flow going through.  This is why it is so important to protect our waterways.  The small ones feed the bigger and end up to be the Mississippi River.  Fresh water is gold!  The brush grow along the streams for a reason, it keeps the water temperature down so fish, crabs, etc can survive and also stops evaporation of the stream.  Another thing is the amount of rain, cooler temperatures and lots of winter snow.  Snow depth is key to providing water to our streams and springs.  We shouldn't have to be told at this time of  the year to conserve water.   Water is life, just as important as the bees are to our food supply.  So, from this day forward think of cutting back on water usage and planting flowers so the bees can survive and do their very important job.  It is quite scary to think of the little things that determine our survival.  

How very sad to walk over our little bridge and see Clara Creek barely flowing.  The dogs miss playing and rolling in the pool of water that is no more.

We dug potatoes and no not a lot and small.  I saved the bigger ones to eat now and the small ones got canned yesterday.  Eleven quarts to the precious canned foods in the basement.  The canned up beautiful, nice and water with clear liquid.  That is what you want to see when canning potatoes.  Key to the clear liquid is......when peeling the potatoes immediately put them in cold water.  When you have enough for a batch to can bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes that the cold water has been drained off, bring to a simmer and when just starting to get tender on the outside drain the water and put loosely in jars.  Pour fresh boiling water over and leave 1 inch head space.  Do not use the water you boiled the potatoes in.  This will make the liquid in the jars after processing starch and not clear.  If you want you can add 1 tsp. of salt per quart of potatoes before canning.  I did.  For safety reasons it recommends only using a pressure canner when canning potatoes.  No acidity is why.


No porch or deck to work on so it was off to the basement for a good cleaning.  When I start seeing Daddy Long Legs in the upstairs I know it is time to clean the basement and set off a bug bomb.  About twice a year will do the trick.  There was an old medal school table used for computers we ended up with.  A dirty gold color with a fake wood grain top.  Yep, I headed to the the backroom in the basement and found and ivory colored spray paint and a can of Moroccan Red.  Everything was sprayed except the top and that is now a beautiful Red.  It pays to keep "stuff" around for little projects.  Every once in a while I will buy spray cans of paint, polyurethane, sand paper, mineral spirits and paint brushes to add to my stash for times like today.


 I know it is way too soon to be thinking of days like this but...............It is my favorite time of the year and I couldn't resist when I was going through some old photos to post it on the blog.  Dreaming 💖