Sunday, December 27, 2015

It's all about family...

To me Christmas is all about family.  We open presents together.  We are all in the kitchen working together to create a delicious dinner.  Then we all go sledding.   This was a fabulous Christmas.  Everyone had a great time.  The food was great and nobody got hurt sledding.  Well, maybe somebody got hurt sledding, but they are recovering nicely.  
From our kitchens to yours a belated Merry Christmas!
Thanks for the aprons, Mom!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Weekend wanderings...


 I took Ella for our weekend walk.  I felt a little like Dorthy in the 'Wizard of Oz', when I realized the woods were filled with lions and lions and more lions.  Our resident mountain lion wasn't just passing through.  From the look of the numerous tracks in the area, it is homesteading for a while.  
Despite looking behind me every few seconds, the views around me were amazing.  The clouds, the sun, and the beautiful hills made for a wonderful wander.

I am ready for the holiday's and that was another thing that made a wonderful winter walk welcome.   Ella was happy to be out and oblivious to our peril.  Ok peril is probably pushing it. Still, I kept one eye to the beauty and the other on what was going on behind me. 

Any dangers to consider when you walk?  What do you get to see on your walks?  I probably won't post again before Christmas, so "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Peach ice cream...

I tried to take it easy this weekend, after a busy vacation.  I worked on my newest quilt project. Sorry, no photos.  Since the quilt is for someone who is dutiful about reading my blog, I will only post the project after they receive it.  Please do not expect this as a Christmas present, as it takes about two years for me to complete a quilt.  

It was beautiful out today and I took advantage of it to bundle up my roses.  I am very late this year.  Normally, I do this around Thanksgiving.  The main thing is to get them protected from the spring freeze thaw cycles.  I am a little worried, because my compost pile was frozen solid.  Normally, I put a bucket of compost around the base of the roses.  Then I wrap them with a cage and fill it with protection.  I have tried straw, leaves, and this year evergreen boughs.  I will never use straw again.  That stuff was always full of weed seeds and then I'd spend the next summer trying to get that mess under control.  The leaves worked great last year, but I was too slow this year.  We shall see how the pine and spruce boughs do.

My only other project for the weekend was to make some peach ice cream for my husband.  He asked for it a long time ago.  It took awhile, but I got around to it.  The peaches were canned this year.  It turned out fabulous.

Summertime Wintertime Peach Ice Cream
1 pint of canned peaches in juice                                       1 (3.75) oz. package of instant vanilla pudding
1 c. sugar                                                                           1 can sweetened condensed milk 
1 can evaporated milk                                                        4 c. half and half

Pour the sugar over peaches and let sit one hour.  Blend pudding and evaporated milk then add rest of the ingredients.  Pour into ice cream maker and let her go until she stops.  Pour into an old ice cream container and freeze.  
I got the recipe from:  MyRecipes.com

What is your favorite homemade ice cream?  Do you wrap your roses?  Hope everyone had a peaceful weekend.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Vacation? This is no vacation...

I took 4 days off from work.  Not to relax mind you, I had stuff to do.  I have been putting things in the freezer to deal with later.  Now there is no room.  Christmas is coming and I enjoy sharing.  I used vacation time, but it has not been a vacation.  I spent two days cooking, a few hours putting up Christmas decorations, and a day Christmas shopping.
 


 I sliced up 14 lbs of bear and deer jerky.  I love jerky.   I looked around to see if I had any moose meat left, but I think I jerked the final bits last Christmas.  
 I then took out all of the tomatoes that I kept throwing in the freezer and roasted them for 2 hours in the oven.  Then I used the awesome food mill my sister gave me to separate it into soup.  If you are concerned about the black spots they are not burned tomatoes.  They are actually blue tomatoes.   I added some salt, garlic, rosemary, onion, and made a wonderful tomato soup.  Yumm.








I then took all the leftover pieces of meat and ground them with some bacon.  Using the High Mountain Seasoning I made summer sausage.   That is currently cooking for four hours in the oven.  
When it was all said and done I had:  8 pints of canned meat, 4 pints of peach salsa, 3 pints of tomato soup, 8 jars of raspberry jam, 14 lbs of summer sausage, 14 lbs of jerky, and 7 bottles of crabapple wine.   Egads am I ever tired.
 I wasn't the only one tired.  My faithful culinary companion was pretty wore out also.

To top it all off I put up the Christmas Lights.  We are a bit light on lights, because last year most of my lights died.  Didn't have time to think about adding on.  

I think I am finally ready for Christmas.  Thanks to my husband shopping is completed.  Now I just need to wrap.   I am pretty pleased with my harvest this year.  If you look at the left side of my blog towards the bottom it shows my harvest for 2015.  I save them every year and I must say this was a very successful year.  Especially, with my tomato and our bear harvests.    I still have a day off.  I will be mailing some packages, starting on a quilt, and enjoying some quiet time in the whirlpool tub.   

What was your most productive harvest this year?  Are you ready to enjoy Christmas?  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Let the projects begin...

Well, hunting season is over.  I had a 50% success rate.  I filled one of my two tags.  It was an interesting season, but I'm glad to be done.  The first thing I did was use conditioner on my hair, good smelling soap, and lotion.  It is amazing how hunting dries a girl out.  

Next, projects, projects, projects.  I am up to my ears in a little of this and a bit of that.  
I am slowly buffing and polishing my bear claws.  I want to make a necklace and earrings.  They are a beautiful color.  My husband finds my frustrated attempts at buffing the bear claws quite funny.  He said I have put more into the bear's nails than I have ever worked on my own.

 
I finally brought in my frozen pumpkins and removed the seeds.  I washed the seeds, boiled them for 10 minutes in salt water, coated them with olive oil and salt.  I then baked them at 325 for 15 minutes.  They taste great.  I am taking pieces of the pumpkin out for the deer.  Deer love pumpkins!  In case you missed my post a few years ago about how much deer enjoy eating pumpkins take a look see:  deer love pumpkins

I was able to use one of my last summer projects now that deer season is over.  My loofa sponge was ready to be put to the test and it worked great.  I wish it was bigger, but I'm just happy that my 8 foot vine produced one little loofa.  I waited until the zucchini looking gourd was dried.  Brought it in the house and peeled the skin off.  Lo and behold there really was a loofa under there.  I got the seeds out, soaked it in bleach, and then let it dry.  It works great.  I wish it had produced more for Christmas presents, but it is what it is. 




I have several more projects I am in the midst of or that are waiting patiently for me to start.   I am ready to get moving.  I will keep you up to date as they progress.  What projects are you working on?  I would love to hear about them.  



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Class dismissed...

Sorry I have not been blogging lately.  My weekends are spent getting up at 4:15 am and going out to our property looking for these two bad boys.  I had a glimpse of the one in back, but he is no dummy and has been scarce since opening day.  I have had entertainment watching the geese, ducks, turkeys, eagles, grouse, and pheasants.  I've seen a mink skipping on the ice and the a coyote chasing a doe.  A stray cat even wandered by. Except for the cold, it has been enjoyable.  I do have to say handwarmers are the way to go.  Drop a one in each boot and put one in each pocket and you are set.   Just close your eyes and dream your feet are by a toasty fire.  

I also was lucky enough to teach a class on butchering deer to two of my teachers.  All the planets aligned and I had a deer and time to show them the basics.    We made it a ladies night and had great fun.  They were very happy to leave with roughly 10lbs of roasts, stew meat, burger, and breakfast sausage.  We sipped a glass of homemade wine and listened to music while we worked.  No fingers were cut off, so I consider class a success.  




Have you ever shared your knowledge with friends?  If you did teach a class what would it be in?  I promise when I'm done hunting I will settle in with a cup of coffee and get caught up on everyone's blogs.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My wildlife loop...

I have driven the same 48 miles to and from work every week for 21 years.  It is always an interesting drive and I consider it my personal wildlife loop.  I have seen elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, bobcats, mink, coyotes, antelope (they were very lost), and tons of deer.  

Today I saw something I have never seen before.  If you are faint of heart, please, do not watch.  It is a mule deer buck that killed it's rival in a fight and can't just walk away.  It is pretty amazing.  Sorry about the noise of the emergency flashers and music, I don't know anything about editing videos.

If you can't see the video try this U Tube site:
https://youtu.be/LQAJBwhMjRI



video


I hate to say that Mother Nature isn't always kind.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Slugfest...

 I've had lots of questions about what sweetgrass looks like.  Here is a photo of it in the garden.  You cannot mistaken the smell.   Below is a photo of my new nemesis the slug.  There always have been slugs in my gardens, but not to this extent.  They devour tomatoes overnight and eat plants in a single bound.  All of the rain we had this year was good for some things.  Unfortunately, those darn slugs was one of those things.  I didn't realize how bad the problem was until we built the new flower bed.  Then I took notice.  I've gone through my flower and vegetable beds every weekend.  After I find them and root them out, I treat them to a wonderful salt water bath.  Yuck!

 It hasn't all been drudgery.  I have spent quite a bit of time hunting.  Sometimes with a camera and sometimes with a beautiful Browning 300 Winchester Short Mag.  I was more successful with the gun than I was the camera.  I took a very nice 5 x 5 Black Hills buck Sunday morning.  He was butchered and in the freezer by supper.  Here are a few photos from the prairie.  One of a beautiful doe in the sunset and the other of a prairie lion (aka barn cat).
Somewhere in the middle of all this I celebrated 21 years of marriage and 43 years of living a good life.  I am thankful everyday for what I have experienced, who I have met, and what is in my future.  I say it often, "I am a lucky woman!"  

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

It's the great pumpkin mystery...

The following story is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth...

Today when I returned from work I followed my usual routine.  First, let Ella out of the kennel and then tour the gardens.  Ella was racing around the yard and I was meandering around checking things out when I stopped bewildered.  There in the midst of my pumpkin/flower bed is a big pumpkin.
 Why was I standing there dumbfounded about a pumpkin in the pumpkin patch?  Because I cleaned this bed out on Saturday.  I only had one pumpkin and it was the size of a softball.  No, this pumpkin didn't make a last minute growth spurt.  I had pulled the vines.  Somebody put it there.  Who I have no idea.  I had two suspects.  My husband (something he totally would do) and my new neighbor.  She is a hoot and such a prank would also be up her alley.  I interrogated them both and both deny.  Amanda isn't in the state, so she is off the list.  My husband is still under some suspicion and admits it is something he would do, but he swears he didn't do it.  I interrogated the pumpkin.  To no avail.  It isn't talking.  I have no clue how this pumpkin ended up in the pumpkin patch.  Nobody else really knew there was supposed to be pumpkins there, because the flowers hid them.  It is quite the conundrum.  I checked the whole garden and there were no other wayward vegetables.   I will keep you updated on this mystery in the pumpkin patch.  Perhaps it was the Great Pumpkin?  Perhaps the packrats have moved to the pumpkin patch?  Perhaps it has little pumpkin feet?  Perhaps a pumpkin truck got lost and it rolled out.  I am perplexed.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fall meanderings...

I was very busy this weekend.  I won't go into the details.  Instead I will take you on a peaceful fall walk.  Please enjoy.  I wish I could add a rich earthy scent, rustling leaves, and the distant sound of a grouse drumming.








I hope everyone is enjoying this fall as much as I am.  Which photo is your favorite?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Unbelievable...

 Thirteen years ago we built our dream log cabin in the woods.  Our first spring my husband indulged my love of gardening and we put a flower bed along the front porch.  We were naive to the ways of clay soil and the bed slowly shifted into the porch supports.  This was not good to the structure of the cabin, so the bed had to be removed.  My husband still indulged my love of gardening and we replace the old flower bed with one that is solid and anchored down.   To the left, we are jacking up the porch and resetting the supports.  Below shows everything removed. The new bed is taking shape.  It took a long time to get everything leveled and pull up the sod.


If you look closely you can see the original four posts and how far the back ones moved.  They are almost under the porch.  You can also see that my husband enlarged the bed for my gardening pleasure.

 Ok, this is the unbelievable part of the story.  About 6 years ago, my husband and I were burning piles in the early spring.  We burned 4 or 5 piles.  While we were working on this project, I lost the hair trinket to the right.  I looked and looked for it the next day.  Every spring I would rummage around the piles looking for it.  My husband knew nothing about the loss.  Yesterday he went down to a spot at the end of our twenty acre property, where he thought he could find some good soil to fill our new flower bed.  He scooped it up with the tractor and dumped it into the driveway.  We scooped it in the the wheelbarrow and slowly filled the flower bed until it was quite dark.  This morning I was scraping up the last of the dirt when lo and behold!  There was the hair catch.  In perfect condition.   I am amazed.
 Here is the new solid bed ready to be filled with my every whim.  As you can see below it didn't take long for me to get my poor displaced flowers into their new home.  

 I am pleased with the final result.  My old bed was falling apart, ground hornets constantly built nests in it, the mice had holes throughout it, and it was filled with slugs.  I de-slugged the plants.  The bed is not covered by the porch roof, so now it will get watered naturally with the rain.  It has a nice ledge to sit on when I'm pulling weeds or picking slugs.  


In the cabin kitchen things are doing great.  The beekeeper swung by with 8 quarts of honey.  My bees may have been mean, but they made up for it in productivity.  Last year I didn't get any tomatoes and this year I have bags of them frozen.  One of these cold weekends I will can several batches of tomato soup.  I ended the weekend with an experiment.   Cucumber Jelly.  It is excellent.  Puree cucumbers, 4 T. vinegar, 4 T. lemon juice.  Strain.  Use 2 1/2 c. of cucumber juice, 6 cups of sugar, and 1 pouch of Certo liquid pectin.  I didn't keep track of how long I boiled it.  It made 6 pints of jelly.  It tastes great on crackers with cream cheese.
As always my weekend was busy.  What big projects did you do?  Any experimental projects?  Do you have a lost and found story?  I always enjoy your comments and answers to my questions.  

To answer a few of yours.  I put the sweetgrass in window sills and in my jeep.  I keep one in my office as it soothes unruly students.  I have one on the window sill next to our bed and it helps me sleep.  They last about a year or two.  My mom got me one for Christmas long ago and I loved it so much that I bought a few plugs, my sister gave me one, and planted them near our pond.  They love moisture.  This year was very wet and it grew like crazy.

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.

Frosting
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.
http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2014/11/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-bundt-cake.html

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.
http://bsugarmama.com/homemade-garlic-spread-recipe/


 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.
https://shootsandroots.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/in-the-garden-roasted-tomato-soup/
 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?