Sunday, August 9, 2020

What do I know...

All week that Cedar Waxwing has been sitting in the top of a tree calling and calling.  I told my husband on Wednesday there was no way that Waxwing was going to find another Waxwing just sitting in the same tree calling every day.  An hour later, I noticed there seemed to be more calls than normal.  I grabbed the binoculars and what do I know.  There sat two Waxwings calling to the world.  I guess it is true there is somebody out there for everyone if you wait long enough.  

We had a wonderful day on Sunday.  We did some prairie dog hunting and then went fishing.  I caught a bass and my husband caught some perfectly sized catfish.  Then I went and picked some wild grapes.  We came home and fried up some delicious catfish for lunch.  Life is good.
I've been busy in the garden.  The strawberry spinach is producing berries like crazy.  I am not sure what I am going to do with all the berries.  I just keep putting them in the freezer.  I've also been picking and freezing the borage flowers.  I am going to try making a wine out of them.  I have to be careful picking them.  Sooner or later I'm going to grab one that has a bee on it.  

My peaches and cream hollyhocks are blooming like crazy.  I love watching the bees wander in and out of the blooms.  I would guess it is like a flowery maze to them.  I would love to be covered in a blanket of hollyhock petals.

It has been a fabulous week.  We are hunkered down trying to pretend the Sturgis Rally isn't happening.  Unfortunately, you can hear the roar of motorcycles even up here.  I went to the grocery store and every local had a mask on.  Not one biker wore a mask.  I will admit I am hoping for rain every night.  Maybe even a little hail.  Sorry, but it is true.  

Is there some local event that puts you up a wall?  Have you ever tried strawberry spinach?  Here is a long shot.  Has anyone ever had borage wine?  If so could you send me a recipe.  Here is hoping you have a wonderful week (without motorcycles). 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Chokecherry Pie and birds on the fly...

We went out to or prairie property this weekend.  I was pleased to see the chokecherries were ready to be picked.  Yes, chokecherry pickers they could be a smidge darker, but we weren't going to be able to go out to the property again until next weekend and the birds would have them gone by then.  In fact, the birds sat in the bushes and chewed me out while I was picking.  

Most of the berries will go to wine and maybe some jam, but I have been dying to try a recipe Phyllis gave me.  Chokecherry pudding.  My husband was excited. Then we decided to make a pie of it.
Phyllis's Chokecherry Pudding
1 quart of chokecherry juice
1/2 c. of sugar (I used 3/4 c. since the berries weren't fully ripe.)
1/3 c. of cornstarch
dash of salt

I stirred in the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Then brought everything to a boil and boiled until thick.  Once I thought it was thick enough I poured it into a graham cracker crust.  It was delightful and will go in the family cookbook for sure.

The photo of the pie is a bit fuzzy because the steam from the pudding fuzzed up my camera.  Remember this is a bird, bee, and berry blog.  I am not a professional cooking blogger.  

Finally, the beans in my garden were ripe enough to pick.  I found this recipe last year and loved it.  I made 4 slices of bacon.  Used the grease to sauté the beans, three small cloves of garlic and two slices of onion.  I sautéed for about 20 minutes.  Added the bacon and yum.

Now, technically the birds in this post aren't flying.  I just wanted the title to rhyme.  For the last week I have heard an unfamiliar bird call around the cabin.  I haven't seen the bird and couldn't identify the call.  Then yesterday I saw it way at the top of the tree.  Even with the zoom on my camera and binoculars it was difficult to tell what kind of bird it was.  Luckily, I was able to use the computer to zoom the photo.  Turns out it seems to be a Cedar Waxwing looking for more Cedar Waxwings.  A Robin and even a Grosebeak joined it in the tree to keep it company.  Even today it was flying around with it's sad lonely chirp.  It isn't going to find any other Cedar Waxwings around.  The last time we had any up here was about 10-15 years ago.

As I was typing this post, two mother Turkeys went by with their brood.  I was too busy trying to get photo to count how many they had.  There was quite a few.  Both mommas kept a sharp lookout while the little guys scampered around looking for bugs.  Living here in the woods I see so many wonderful things from our porch.  I count my blessings every day.  

As the sun sets on another week, I am amazed that I am able to find something to blog about every week.  Maybe not the most exciting stuff, but there is always something going on around here.  Either I'm making something, there is a new flower blooming in the garden, or some animal has caught my attention.  Do you find it easy to blog about things?  What are you making in the kitchen?  What are you seeing from your porch?  Do you even have a porch?  I hope all is well at your corner of the world.  

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Kitchen and Karma...

Things are starting to ripen.  I've been harvesting raspberries, service berries, currents, garlic, and carrots.  It was pretty cool today, so I made some lemon poppyseed and lemon almond biscotti.  While the biscotti was baking, I made a big batch of raspberry jam.  The raspberries have been plentiful this year.

This is the best carrots I've ever had.  I sliced them.  Melted some butter added parsley, basil, salt, pepper, Parmesan Cheese , and  minced garlic then stirred in the carrots.  We grilled them.  I think next time I will bake them at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.   They were a little crunchy.  I don't think the grill was hot enough.  They tasted great.
 My bird house was suddenly spackeled with yellow.  I wasn't sure what it was, so I tapped the birdhouse.  Lo and behold a honeybee flew out.  I'm sure it got kicked out of the hives due to sloppy housekeeping.

 I've been getting lots of herbs from the garden.  I'm also starting to get lots of tomatoes.  Even though the greenhouse got a late start, things are looking good. 
 Now comes the karma part of the story.  A friend of mine recently got some bad news.  I put together a spa box for her.  It included: a salt soak, bubble bath, sugar scrub, honey/coconut shaving butter, soap, a lavender sachet, and a hair towel.  I made everything with lavender scent.  The towel I got through Amazon.  I had fun spray painting jar lids and using my homemade paper for labels.

Here is where the karma comes in, when I went to mail her spa  box.  I received one.  My friend from Denmark sent the coolest Danish gift box.  Isn't the artwork beautiful?  It had tons, note cards, Christmas ornaments, and two notebooks.
That is all the excitement for this week.  Do you send gift boxes?  What do you put in them?  What are you harvesting in your garden?  

Monday, July 20, 2020


I've had a busy week.  Nothing to write about.  I will just share some photos.

We had a nice morning of rain showers, thus the red sky.  Hope flowers are fabulous in your neck of the woods.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Slowly summer slips...

Summer is slowly slipping by.  The rose bed is in it's glory.  Ella accidently ran over what we think was a baby pine martin.  There was quite a ruckus. He seemed ok and went on his way.  At first we thought it was a baby ermine, but the next day we say a pine martin in front of the cabin.  A closer look at baby pine martin photos on the internet, shows that is probably what he was.  You never know what will happen around here.  The roses are really doing well. We've been getting about an inch or rain a week and somehow lucky enough to miss the hail that has pelted the hills.  The saying, "the hum of bees is the voice of the garden" has been very true.  The catmint in my front beds are in full bloom and loaded with every type of bee you could imagine.  The same goes for my lambs ear.  Meanwhile, the bumble bees are in love with my delphiniums.  

Morden Sunrise above and below is Hansa below. 

Below is the ever dependable Champlain Rose.
My last iris bloomed about the time the first of the pink roses started blooming.

I love how the windmill looks in the rain.  Below is the strangest mushroom I've ever seen.  I was out picking wild strawberries when a thunderstorm blew in out of nowhere.  I was racing through the woods to the cabin before the rain hit, but had to stop when I saw this beautiful sight.  It was so perfect.  Despite the short photo shoot, I did make it home before the storm hit. 

I found quite a few of these little beauties.  Not enough for jam, which is too bad as it makes the most amazing vibrant jam you have ever tasted.  I've only found one batch big enough about 15 years ago.  My dog, Ezra, found them.  I picked a hatful.  The taste was forever summer.  What taste to you equate with summer?  Corn on the cob? Jam? Lemonade?  Hope you have found time to hold on to the summer days and enjoy them while they last.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Tomato Taj Mahal...

Here is my new Tomato Taj Mahal.  I love it.  This weekend I finished the patio and most of the retaining wall on the right.  This one is much taller and the bench is along the side instead of at the back.  The bench will be great next year because I grow most of my peppers in wash tubs.  I think I will even have room to grow some tomatoes in tubs.  Here in the hills it is almost impossible to grow tomatoes and peppers without a greenhouse.  The season is too short and it never gets super hot.  Below is the bench with my tubs and little garden potting bench kit.  I was pretty worried about transplanting my tomatoes from the tubs to the ground of the greenhouse.  Turns out they did great and didn't miss a beat.  

My chamomile has been blooming like crazy.  It is contained in a water tank.  If you aren't careful it will take over the garden.  I use the flowers for tea, an amazing hair detangler, and facial toner.  Because it is so plentiful I am going to try making a wine with it.  It will be an interesting endeavor.  Who would have thought dandelions would make a good wine?  It never hurts to try.  The rest of my outdoor vegetable beds are making progress.  My first round of sweet corn is knee high by the Fourth of July.  The green beans are also doing fabulous.   

My roses are doing great.  One of my favorite quotes is by Richard Sheridan, "Won't you come into my garden?  I want my roses to see you."

                                                For the first time ever my poppies are plentiful.

The butterfly bed is beautiful.  It has been too dry to use the fire pit.  With the tomatoes in transplanted in the greenhouse, the tub was open for a different use.  Leftover flowers are on sale and it was easy to find some to make a mobile hummingbird heaven. 

If you have a smoker this is the perfect summer recipe:  Smoked S'mores Ice Cream
2 cups of milk
2 cups of cream
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 Tablespoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Mix well in an oven proof bowl.  Put the bowl in the smoker.  Spread 1 jar of marshmallow cream on an aluminum pan place it in the smoker.  Place 1/2 bag of chocolate chips in an oven proof pan and in the smoker.  While everything is smoking, crush one sleeve of graham crackers.  Smoke the ice cream mix, marshmallow cream, and chocolate at 150 degrees.  After an hour remove the ice cream mix and put it in the ice cream maker.  Let it do its thing.  Leave the chocolate and marshmallow cream in the smoker at 150 degrees until the ice cream is done.  Swirl in the chocolate, marshmallow cream, and graham crackers.  Freeze over night.  Then enjoy.

Do you make homemade ice cream?  Are the fireflies out where you are?  I've been watching them every night.  I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July.