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


 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
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?