I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there,

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Where did the weekend go?...

I guess the old saying is true, time flies when you are having fun. We had company this weekend.  Our nephew, Kyle, came through with some hunting buddies on their way to Wyoming.  Almost every year they stop on the way through.  We enjoyed talking hunting, jeeps, while playing cards.  

There is quite a few of them, so I cleaned house all week.   Kelly washed tons of blankets and towels.  I got in gear and braided my sweet grass to the house would smell fresh.  Due to the wet year I was happy to get seven braids.  That is the most I've ever had.  
  I always make a big pan of lasagna and garlic bread for our guests. This year I made Kelly's favorite dessert Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bunt Cake.  My husband found the recipe at http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bunt Cake
2 1/2 c. flour                                   In another bowl cream for 2 min:  
1 t. baking powder                       1 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking soda                         3/4 c. unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 t. salt                                        1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1 t. cinnamon                                2 eggs
1/4 t. nutmeg                                1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. cloves                                   1/2 c. whole milk 
sift together                                  cream and then add slowly to dry mix
Coat 1 c. mini chips with 1 T. cocoa powder and fold in.  Pour into a bunt pan that has been buttered and dusted with cocoa powder.   Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

6 oz. dark chocolate                   1/4 c. whole milk
1/4 c. unsalted butter                 2 T. corn syrup
1/4 c. heavy cream
Prepare glaze in a small pan over medium heat, until melted.   Coat cooled cake evenly.

I tried this recipe for Homemade Garlic Spread
2 sticks of unsalted butter room temp.
5 garlic cloves
1/2 c. parmesan cheese grated
2 T. parsley
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/4 t. onion powder
Pulse in the dry ingredients in the food processor then add butter and cheese.  This was good on garlic bread, but awesome on grilled cheese sandwiches.

 I also made my favorite Drop Sugar Cookies to send to various college students.
1 c. Crisco
2 eggs
1 c. powdered sugar
1 t. cream of tarter
1/2 t. salt
1 c. butter
1 c. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. almond extract
1 t. baking soda
4 1/2 c. flour

Coat with sugar, flatten, and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.  Please notice why I give these to high school and college students.  They taste great but a bit unhealthy.  This isn't a Pinterest project, just one from a good old fashion cookbook called Sharing Recipes.

 Finally, tonight I made Roasted Tomato Soup
2 lbs of tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
salt & pepper
onion powder
ground rosemary and parsley
olive oil
2 c. chicken broth
Slice tomatoes in quarters, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, and toss in garlic cloves.  Roast at 400 degrees for 30 min.  Until the tomatoes have wrinkled edges.  Add chicken broth and simmer.  I then strained the soup through a cheese cloth, because I didn't want the seeds in there.  Bring back to a simmer for 15 minutes.
 Before I knew it, the weekend was over.   It was a fun weekend spent with good company doing many Pinterest projects.  I still have cucumber jelly to make and need to figure out what to do with these little egg plants.    What is your favorite recipe found on Pinterest?  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

An apple a day or is it the early bird gets the worm...

For once my husband and I were patient.  We haven't picked our apples until this weekend.  We are down to one out of the two original Harrelson apple trees.  They were planted the first spring in our cabin.  They have made it through several major blizzards, but the mice girdled one two years ago.  She tried hard, but couldn't recover.  It was a sad day when we pulled her up.  The last one standing had a ton of apples this year.  We didn't even come close to picking them all.  We left the ones that were bruised by hail. 

As you can see below, this isn't our first rodeo.  We had apple peeling and cutting central set up.  We were a well oiled machine.  Kelly used the Lehman's apple peeler and I used the apple corer.  Within an hour we had 5 bags of apple pie filling, two bags of apple crisp, another in the oven, and two gallon jars of apple cider.  We still have a few apples left. 

That wasn't the end of the weekend projects.  My Hindu's Rope plant was in dire need of repotting.  She is 20 years old and beautiful.  I washed her off good and then went to work making a good potting mix.  My poor composting worms get neglected in the summer.  I tend to use the outdoor composting bin.    I drug the worm bin out and cleaned out all of the good compost in the bottom two rungs.  I took the top box and added apple peels, bananas, and some leaves from the outdoor bin.  Those little worms will be happy, as will my poor house plants.

Good compost and soon to be good compost.  Let those little worms go to work.
Well, my weekend flew by.  Sorry if this post is a little choppy.  There seems to have been some changes made to blogger and it is fight to get anything where I want it.  Oh well, what would life be without a little challenge. 

Have you picked your apples yet?  What do you do with them?  What type of composting do you do?  Worms? Compost Tumbler?  Ground Bins?  Which do you like best and why?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Live and learn...

Fall is my time to reflect on this year's gardening season and note improvements that need to be made.  The following quote epitomizes my philosophy in life, "I never lose.  Either I win or I learn."  This year I learned several things:
First - I need a better watering system for the outdoor beds.  Thus the 55 gallon barrel and a drip watering system from Gardener's Supply.  It has been hard, but I am holding off until next spring to set everything up.

Second - 10 tomatoes is TOO MANY.  I literally have to crawl into the greenhouse.  They folded over the fencing and tomato cages.  I didn't get to plant my fall lettuce and spinach, because I cannot get to the back beds. 

Third - Label Label Label. I had no idea what I planted where.  As you can see below, the Mexican Sunflowers took over the second tier of the garden.  They choked out the corn.

Fourth - I need to finish fencing the vegetable garden.  The deer got to my vining beans and I think the jackrabbit found the bush beans. 

Fifth - Shorter sunflowers will be needed for my containers.  The millet was very successful, as was the nasturtiums and calendula.  I just need to get something that vines and then plant more containers.  They made a wonderful addition. 
Sixth - The perennial flower beds did  great this year, just a few minor adjustments are needed.  The consistent rain, a yearly routine of compost injections, and stinky fish fertilizer made a big difference.  There were a few rhythm problems and most of the beds need thinned.  Friends will be getting flowers this fall when the weather cools down and some rain sets in. 

Fall is definitely my time to relax and contemplate.  Ella is all about that.  Please also notice Kelly's giant pumpkin.  Another thing I need to work on.  Jenni from Rainy Day Gardener, I believe that little fella is a product Baby Boo Pumpkin seeds you gave me several years ago.  I have no idea what happened to the Big Max I planted (goes back to that whole labeling issue).

What changes are you considering with your gardens?  Did your plantings go as planned? 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Late summer lull...

Not much going on in the hills.  I'm just sitting on the porch.  Once in a while I pick some tomatoes and lemon cucumbers.  There was some sweet corn ready for freezing.  Other than that it has been a nice summer lull. 
Even Ella isn't up to much.

There have been lots of little tree frogs around the cabin lately.  They are better than packrats any day. On the packrat front, things are quieter.  So, I guess there is nothing better to do than sit and relax.
Hopefully, I am not the only person enjoying the last days of summer.  How are you spending yours?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I sent him packing?

For the last month or more, I have noticed my rhubarb and lilacs being pruned and  haphazardly piled in the shed.  I had no idea what the culprit could be.  Asking others was no help.  I had responses ranging from opossums to not so brilliant beavers. When my raspberry patch was completely mowed down, action had to be taken.  We set a live trap.  The next day my husband called me at work to say he had no clue what we caught.  He described it as a guinea pig looking thing.  Research showed it was a packrat.  Actually, it was a three legged packrat.  Talking to many people and showing photos not many people around here have seen a packrat. 

My students thought he was too cute and made me promise not to kill him, so he was sent packing and released at an undisclosed location.  He seemed a little confused when I let him go.

I wish I could say that is the end of the story, but I'm afraid not.  I have caught two much smaller versions of this fella.  Still not the end of the story, because I have cleaned out the nest above and magically leaves are reappearing.  It is going to be a long fall.  I have caught 30 mice and now three packrats.   Maybe I need to start working on a fur coat. 

Have any of you had experiences with packrats? 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bears, bunnies, a weasel, turkeys, and a rampaging hummingbird...

I was stuck indoors most of the weekend.  There were two bears to butcher and no excuses.  I spent three days cutting meat.  Yes, I am the world's slowest butcher.  It was a fine dance between frozen and thawed quarters.  In the end there was 37 pounds of roasts, stew meat, and meat to grind.  I also salvaged 5 pounds of bear fat that  can  be rendered down into the incredible bear grease.  While doing all of that, I canned 11 jars of bourbon peaches, 5 jars of peach syrup, one giant jar of peach bourbon, 8 bottles of rhubarb wine, and two little jars of homemade vanilla.  Somewhere in the middle of that I made a blueberry pie (using bear grease of course). 

I was pretty proud of my accomplishments, that is until I spent an hour outside.  In that hour, I saw a bunny, weasel (I have never seen a weasel up here), a hen turkey with her 5 poults, and last but not least I was buzzed by a hummingbird. 

I didn't get a photo of the weasel.  He was too fast.  Hopefully, he was looking for chipmunks.  We have a plethora of them.  I did get a photo of this shy guy.  He is the first bunny we've had around for a few years.  Though last week a huge jackrabbit was laying in the yard and staring at my garden.
This grand dame wanders through the yard about once a day.   Obviously, they are not worried about our bird dog.  Ella isn't too worried about them either.
The hummingbird just about ran into me.  It must have been the orange shirt I was wearing.  That was the first one I have seen since July.   Ella and I kept our eyes open, because there was a lot going on this evening.

Not only did we see those animals around the house, but we also got a photo of a fox on our game camera.  Our neighbor got a photo of a pine martin on his game camera. That is the first time we have seen a fox and weasel, after 12 years here in the woods.  We missed quite a bit being cooped up in the house. Of course, I won't regret it when we are enjoying some bear stew this winter.   

Have you seen any animals rare to your area this year?  What do you see in an hour around your home?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The mysteries of gardening

The garden is hanging tough despite cold days, colder nights, and strong winds.  Gardening has really become a mystery for me this year thanks to my labeling system for seedlings.

 My Mexican Sunflowers are going great guns.  They are huge.  I accidentally planted them in the vegetable garden, thinking they were my eggplants.  Note to self; come up with a better way to identify seedlings.
 The clematis is blooming much later than normal.  That is ok, as it is giving some much needed color to the already peaked rose bed.
 Somewhere amongst the cosmos and sunflower are pumpkins, squash, and other assorted vines.
 Any ideas what this is?  I go back to my previous mention of a better labeling system. It is either a spaghetti squash or maybe a winter squash.
These are either black krim or black beauty tomatoes.  I guess you could say gardening is an adventure for me.  Do you have any unidentified vegetables or flowers in you garden?