Monday, February 28, 2011

Anyone Watch the Oscars Last Night?

I have to say I watched the Oscars with my two grown up sons and I think it was one of the most fun ones yet..Not only that but I think for the most part, the fashion was pretty nice..elegant and there weren't too many over the top outfits.  Actually a lot of the dresses were down right nice...I am sure they are going to be picked apart as "bland" or whatever, but I think for the most part, they were tasteful...

                                                         picture lifted from Google


We got such a kick out of James Franco's dryness and Anne Hathaway's quirki-ness.  Very cute..she stole the show..(Loved her many outfit changes too..some of them were really nice!)

We read his tweets and facebook page as we went along..that was so cool...and in between sets he shot little video clips of what was going on back stage (pandemonium).

I have been watching James Franco since he was in Freaks and Geeks.  Such a good show..and everyone of those kids went on to bigger and better things..they canceled a good thing way too soon...their (the networks) loss.  You could tell right away that cast was special..and James Franco was already a star...

As much as I sometimes think I was born in the wrong century, I just LOVE the new technology...not sure how that would work out...but would work out...what more would you need?  A piece of property in a quiet place, your own chickens, and garden, maybe a good horse, and a good dog (s) and some cats...sheep.. whatever...(I can get carried away) , and your computer..or lap top..or Ipad..or smart phone..right?  Bye for now...

See you later,


So I took a Stroll Around...

It is a rainy last day of February here.  It is 51 degrees but you'd never know DO know winter coat needed even though it is cool..YAY!

I thought I might, between the lulls (it is supposed to get worse later), take a look around to see what I could see, and see if there are any spring flowers yet.  Which by this time of the year we should be able to see early crocus (one of my favorite spring flowers) poking up, and at the very least Snow Drops. 

Well, like I have said....everything has been long covered by such deep snow...this is what I came up with...

                                native cactus, that I picked up at the beach, trying to poke through some of the icey stuff left...

                                lots of work and dropped pine needles and small branches litter the yard

                                 This is my poor pine tree by the corral... I Liked this one because it is more in the open and opens (well it did) to it's full shape...      

                             There's lots of broken fences (I saw at least one, maybe 2 posts on the corral that will need replacing, and rails, and a few broken raised bed sides...and TONS of branches all over..still enough snow in spots to not want to trudge through it, and still some of the branches weighed down in the icy slush...                                                                                                                                                         There's lots of lichen and moss of the trees in the front and side of the garage..the shady spots...well seems like it is shady all over here!        


                    And then I saw them...WOW!  They really are still alive and trying!  Not many of them though...looks like a lot of winter kill.

                                 But yep..there they are...snow drops TRYING to come through at the base of an Oak...

   Can't wait to see them!

I am using an older camera, and it has been passed around quite a bit...taken quite a few places, and it has a "permanent smudge" on the lens...  Some times you can see it sometimes not..depends on the picture...
I know I know..time for a new one....that's HIGH on my list of wants...right after the roof gets looked at, and the sky light in the bathroom that is leaking as we speak, and the you KNOW what the trucks did to our driveway turning around this winter? 

We are at the end of a dead end...they COULD turn around in other places (including the road because many many trucks DO turn around properly in the road) but they use OURS..and more then once I saw town trucks get stuck in the ice (that they make due to heavy salted wheels spinning on snow) looks like giant moles tunneled through it!

 Of course the whole driveway needs redoing, but this wheel rut was worse..we kind of pushed it back together son told me later he saw the truck when it happened.  It is on both sides of the driveway...maybe we will take it all out and put gravel (but that's a pain to shovel snow on)  I suppose I should be glad we didn't do the driveway last summer!  They would have wrecked it!

Well, off to see what I can do around here while it isn't raining...Oh!  Tomorrow is the first day of March..and the rest of the week is supposed to be nice..sunny and know what they say!  In like a lamb out like a ......Oh well, just glad March is here..spring can't be but another 4- 6 weeks behind right?   (because it is) haha!

See you later,


I Don't Know What It Is...and a Menu

Maybe I am not as fully recovered from the flu as I think...for whatever reason I am just NOT getting back into the goove..getting my head together...

I am even having to force myself to make up a menu...I feel fuzzy and, oh so tired!  This is not to say I haven't been busy...I am managing to do the everyday things I need to do...but that is where it is ending (for now)

But I kicked my butt into gear..sort of...and here is a menu for this week...

Again, I have meals but no specific order, because you never know what the day will turn up.

I found some more salmon so I think I will feed us some brain food

Salmon with a yogurt dill sauce
Grapefruit/spinach salad with a citrus vinaigrette dressing


Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon (for energy and because I like that recipe)
Green beans with walnuts
Strawberry Shortcake (because I found some good not too expensive organic strawberries..I know I could do something healthier with them but  it is a "pick me up" for us all)


BBQ Pork Sandwiches (because it is in the freezer)
Mixed cabbage Cole Slaw - homemade with apples, pecans and dreid cranberries


Freezer meal (again) Baked shells
Italian bread
Spinach salad


out (maybe this is why I am so tired and rushed..haha!)


Home made pizza

That's it for the week...

See you later,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First Sprigs of Spring....

        I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.  ~Ruth Stout

I always try to bring in some spring flowering branches in February, but this year they were too covered with snow to reach any (my Forsythia is on the other side of the yard!)

But I could reach some very delicate branches of a small flowering Bridal Wreath that a neighbor had given me a sprig of a few years ago.  I didn't think anything would come of it in the house since it is so delicate, and the flower so small.  I have been taking pics for 3 weeks now and intended to wait until the 4th to post any, but I am afraid what I have now might be it (we'll see) and there is a Red Geranium flower out now.  The sun coming in the window is getting so strong (when we have it out) that it was making white spots on the red flower so I figured I better get it now.  I have had this geranium for about 7 years now.  I bring it in in the winter and put it out in the summer.  If it starts to look leggy I cut it back and stick the stems I cut back into the pot... 

                                           Here is week one, when I first brought them in-

                                                            Week 2-wow!  Signs of green!

                                                         Week 3 (this week)  Look really really close because my camera doesn't go any closer to a flower this small...

                                                      Look close now....

If these branches should suddenly spring forth and be covered with white, I will take their picture....but I think it might just be the pretty spring green leaves..and one tiny blossom here and there...we'll see.

Every little sign of spring is welcomed after a long white and black/gray winter!!  I Love spring, all things new and all that.  This town is full of Dogwoods, (pink and white) and Redbuds, Magnolias, and Forsythias...and all sorts of flowering trees and shrubs, so it is very pretty.  The gardens look well organized before the 'tropical jungles" or summer arrive....I Love spring...

I am looking forward to the first signs of spring in the great outdoors!

Lots of running around to do over the next couple of days...chicken feed, and other such hay...

See ya later,


Monday, February 21, 2011

Cold... Cold Day...

We woke up this morning to 5" of snow..covered cars and paths...

This wasn't as bad as previous snows we had this winter, but it was kind of discouraging to see the paths all covered again...oh well..It's February, it's February.... I kept the chickens in today...I'll let them out tomorrow. 

This is my poor pine tree in the back...(on the other side of the fence behind the oak..)

It has so many branches broken.  I am imagining the sap that is going to rain down from them when it turns warm....

As my youngest son and I cleared my car and shoveled the driveway, I looked at the sky and thought, how bright clear blue the sky is, and how pretty it is with the sun on the black and snow covered the time I went in the house to get the camera (oh about 20 seconds?) it was cloudy and windy most of the snow blew off the branches already...and there was hardly any blue left and now it wasn't so deep!  But still pretty.  And at least we got to see the sun for a little while!

I see this one is a little was spraying snow at me while I was standing there.  It is windy and getting cold, but they said this cold just might keep the next storm to the south of I guess that's good..

It is just so pretty..

See you later,


Weeks Menu

Well, I finally came up with a menu of sorts.  But in no particualr order.

1-Chicken soup with cheese tortellini and Italian bread  (some spinach in the soup)

2-Hamburgers and french fries and Cole Slaw

3-Boneless chicken breasts and  I have a lot of spinach so a spinach/grapefruit salad (I have been seeing a lot of good chicken recipes on the web so I am not sure what I will do with them yet)

4-And I finally found wild caught salmon so will have that with a spinach salad with pecans and dried cranberries.  Maybe I will make some brown Basmati rice.

5-Fish sticks (which I don't usually buy) macaroni and cheese (home made) and cole slaw (red and green cabbage) with apples, nuts and dried cranberries

Weekends are always up for grabs because either we are all out, or I am out, or the boys are out, or someone has company over.
I have split pea soup, pulled pork for BBQ sandwiches, and also left over ham I can add to a pasta dish, all in the freezer.  I also have cauliflower.   And of course there's always left overs.

It must be close to spring because my thoughts are turning to lighter meals and more salads.  This is the LAST full week of February!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oh Me Oh My....

I did a bad thing today...I was going to go shopping tomorrow, or Tuesday, after doing a menu and food list.

Then I heard the weather report.  Well, several of them.  One was rain tomorrow....Ok, that's ok....Then they said snow and ice, then they said rain and snow not so good..then they said Snow! ..3-5" of it..( nuisance snow!!) tonight into tomorrow....(it IS IS  February....).  I don't want go out out tomorrow!  (whine) I want to stay in a cook!  Or bake!  Or look through my garden catalogs...

So I quick made a fast list (of things we are out of, or will be in need food, milk, paper towels...chocolate ) and NO MENU! 

Hmm..does someone know something I don't?  Was there a BIG game of some sort today?  Oh!  Indy 500 right?  NO ONE was on the road!! It was like the 50's again!! 

So I figured the stores would be crowded..No one..right through on the lines!! Actually, NO lines!  Maybe every one panicked yesterday?? (the stores are usually packed here before a storm and I am always glad we did our shopping before)

I spent DOUBLE what I usually spend and STILL have no menu!

Oh well..I am happy..I just sent 2 hours talking to my brother about Italian cooking!  (he is in KS, I am in NY) 

See you later,


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chickens and Light....and All Those Eggs..

There were so many questions about chickens I thought I would answer them here.

Yes, chickens do lay eggs according to the amount of light they get.

Commercial egg farms keep light on pretty much all the time.  They want maximum egg production.  But this wears the chicken out. 

Generally chickens lay most eggs the first 2 years of life.  They start laying around 5-7 months old.  Most egg laying breeds lay an egg a day, when they first start laying.  Some breeds are more for meat or even feathers, and they lay slightly less, and taper off laying faster.  Again, this is like picking plants for your area, you need to know what you want.  After about 1 1/2 to 2 years they start slowing down.  For instance, they may slow down to maybe an egg every other day in the beginning, then every 3 or 4 days, then one a week, and so on....  But some breeds not known to be egg producers will slow down even more, and faster.  That is why, in general, farmers change flocks every two years.  (egg producing farms may change flocks every year) A chickens natural life span is 12 or more years.

Chickens lay most of their eggs in the spring.  They taper off as fall comes, and stop laying in the winter.   If you provide light for chickens (usually if a farmer is going to provide light it may be added in the morning side of the dark..) Then they will lay eggs as if it were spring or summer, even though it is the winter.  What this does is stimulate the eye/brain to think it is spring.  But when do they get a rest?  I choose not to add light to them.  Imagine their little bodies working over time to provide eggs and never getting a rest.  I use a flash light at night if I have to go out there, and I talk to them to let them know it is me and not some predator.

That's just me, I like to do things naturally..and with animals I think they live longer.  Which may or may not mean they are "happy".  We have had chickens that were still laying pretty regular at 6 and 7 years old, before they slow down drastically.  We used to sell eggs (if you can call it selling..we used a "donation" system rather then a set price) to local neighbors and exchange them for services to others.  In that way when we had a large number of chickens, they paid for themselves, because we used "egg" money to pay for feed.  And most people we know give us egg boxes when they have them. 

I generally used to try and get around 12 to 20 chickens because I know after the initial onslaught (first year or 2), they are going to slow down. Some will die or be killed etc.  And after all-we weren't really in the egg business.  And once everything is settled that leaves you with a good dozen or more for the family.  Of course a lot of loss can be due to over crowding, so a smaller number is easier to care for.  Our chicken house can hold around 35 birds, (at 4 sq feet each) so we have plenty of room for only 20 or 25. Even better for a dozen.(It makes it like a mansion for only a dozen!) I do not close them up in rain or snow if the chicken house is full of birds.  I want them to have to option of going out...animals, and especially chickens get nervous when they are crowded.  I do now that there is only a half dozen, because they have the room to move around freely.

But what to do with ALL those eggs, if you start with a flock of 25 or more?  (or even 12?) That's an egg day from almost every chicken...(we're talking about 25 or more chickens a day) that's dozens of eggs a week. 

There is a way to save eggs in the heavier producing summer months, so you can have fresh eggs in the colder slower months (and they probably are fresher then store bought anyway, even though preserved.)   It is relatively simple. 

Freeze them. Beat whole eggs and add either a teaspoon of salt or a teaspoon of sugar (as a stabilizer) depending on what you want to use them for.  Don't forget to label them!  Use ice cube trays to freeze them.  Approximately 3 Tablespoons to a compartment equals one egg.

You can also freeze plain yokes the same way, with either sugar or salt, but the result isn't as good.  Egg whites can be frozen as is with nothing added.  In fact when I make something that uses only yokes, I have a container in the freezer and I keep adding whites to it, and mark on the lid how many are in the container, until I have 13-15 and make an Angel Food Cake.

I am way over due for new chickens.  The last 25 I got I split the order with someone, and that was 7 years ago.  I am down to 6 old hens and a rooster, and they are laying pretty few and far between.  I have been putting off getting new ones, because what will I do with them if we move?  We do have a local park that "adopts".  It was an original farm in the area, and it was deeded to the town as long as it stays a "farm" the buildings still stand, and are used as natural museums, the little barn, house, sheds, etc.  There are wilderness paths through the woods for walking and hiking, picnic tables, baseball and soccer fields, play ground, pavillion for rainy days and open air free concerts in the summer months, etc.  In the farm area they have animals.  Many DOZENS of chickens, and even MORE roosters...adopted as people move, or don't know what to do with them after they stop laying, or that rooster the neighbor complains about....goats, pigs, a donkey, rabbits galore.  But outside of regular feeding and water, the barn is for the larger animals, the goats and donkey occasional cow, etc, and they are put in at night and closed up (it is an open air barn though so small animals and birds can come and go) ...but for the birds..chickens, Guineas, ducks geese and cats, whatever they happen to have at the time, is first come first served.  They are technically on their own..and it can be a brutal pecking order. And I KNOW me...I would be wondering always if they were protected, or fed or still alive..I guess I get attached to living things... I might just have to get a half dozen or something this spring, just to have them.  There is nothing like the first eggs of the spring...although if I get them chances are they aren't going to be laying until late fall..sooo...decisions decisions...

Chickens have personalities, you know.  (Like Koi.  Anyone have any Koi?  They know who feeds them, and come to the surface when they see them...will stay below if it is not the feeder.  They will come right up out of the water to greet you and let you pet them.)  And like Koi, chickens are all different.  They recognize who feeds them, and they come when called.  Some are gentle, some are brutal..and they are always funny.  I Love their growth stages..the "infants" and the "teens"..they are just so funny!

I was trying to find some pictures but I really don't have any and after 63 degrees, yesterday, it is 41 with high wind, and a wind chill of 31 today, so I don't feel like standing out there to take any new ones...haha!  So heres's a picture of one of the last storms...remember in the is STILL winter...(I have to keep reminding myself of that)

See ya later,

Friday, February 18, 2011

Winter With Chickens...

Winter is always a challenge when you have outside animals.  It is mid February and there is still snow on the groound even though it was 63 degrees today (not for IS February) 


A lot of broken branches and bent shrubs.  And I wonder if I will ever see my snow drops.  They are buried under 3' of snow.

These are small branches of evergreens in the front.  In the back (I don't have a picture yet) is a pine tree that has been decimated.  But I DO Love the snow..that's why I am still here....
Many people with chickens worry about them in the winter because they are small animals and seem vulnerable to cold.  Did you ever see a wild bird..even much smaller...want for anything?   Doesn't the Bible tell us that the wild birds are taken care of, even as the "Lilies of the Field" are...?  (actually it tells us to have faith that we will be cared for, as the birds and the lilies of the fields are.)

But that doesn't mean we don't have to take care of them.  They are not free to roam, and look for their own food.  They are our responsibility once we become "care takers".   And as most animals that we humans take into our care, they are generally out of their original environment, and that in itself makes them vulnerable.  In most cases anyway..chickens were originally forest pheasants.  In fact, if a male pheasant can not find a female pheasant, he will check out the local chickens to steal a hen or two if need be, to start a flock.  (He'll fight your rooster for them too)

The biggest problem for chickens, once they are protected from predators, is very extreme or cold, can be a problem. 

Our chickens are in a secure place.  If I am home late at night, or "forget" to close them (because I think I already did), their chicken house is enclosed with a ample run and it is cover with wire even over the top.  Too many years experience with raccoons and opossums...(and loose dogs).  That's 22 years of chicken experience...a lot of losses...a lot of learning what to do before something happens.   I don't do that very often, to be on the safe side, but I know they are basically enclosed, even though it makes me nervous when I realize in the morning that they were open all night....  Interestingly, unless it is a very warm spring or summer morning, they don't come out in the morning until they hear me, even if I did forget to close them.  I am not sure if that is natural, but this rooster is very protective..

One solution is to make a chicken house that is "open air"..  Keeping them warm in the winter is not the problem...They need air circulation.  Closing them up tight is the problem.  We have an open window at the back of the chicken house that is never closed.  It covers the whole wall, and has heavy duty wire on it.  They are amazingly healthy.  We have never had the loss of a chicken due to matter how cold it gets.  Air circulation is the key. 

Germs breed in closed moist conditions.  There are many days in the winter I leave them completely closed for days.. (generally after a fresh snow fall, because even if you open the chicken door they won't go out) except to give them food and fresh water.  But we have that always open window.  We have had few frozen combs over the years, I choose not to buy the breeds that have a large comb which can be a problem in the winter.   Choosing chickens is much like choosing the correct seed or plants for your area.  And some breeds tolerate cold better then others.  

Choose a wall that is not on the same wall as the roost, or the nest boxes, and not on the wall of the prevailing wind in your area.  For us, in the winter, most winter storms come from the west or north.  But the west side of our chicken house is under a stand of pine trees, so that is a protected side, and it is the side our open window is on.  Nothing gets in (but an occasional "tree rat"..aka gray squirrels). 

Inside I keep fresh hay, and water, and feed, and I never "clean" the chicken house out in the winter.  When you clean it in the winter, you take away the warmth of the broken down under layers of hay.  I always add hay, through the winter, so they always have a fresh upper layer of hay to sit in, scratch in, nest in, and an open roost.

Once the weather is settled, and our paths are dug, I put hay, or leaves I saved from the fall (Just for this purpose) down outside the chicken door to the run so they have more of a an area to walk on.

Another thing I do to keep them healthy is, I use homeopathic remedies for them. Visit your local health food store.  The one that sells homeopathic remedies, and buy some bacterial and viral homeopathic drops.  If I even suspect one chicken isn't "right" I scour the web (and whatever books I have) for chicken illnesses and see what symptoms match.  Then I put a few drops of either virus or bacteria remedy, in their water.  It works with Bach Flower Remedies too.  After I started using the remedies I have never had a problem with a flock getting sick.. sometimes it is possible the first chicken that showed illness may die after a month or two (as opposed to a day or 2) or not at all, but the rest of the flock generally remains safe...even though chicken diseases are so contagious they can kill off a whole flock.

These are the chickens I have left from a flock we bought about 7 years ago (it is really longer then I usually wait to add some fresh chickens).  This past winter and fall we lost 3.  Two by predators (they were Bantam Aracauna mixes and part wild, so they never wanted to stay inside! That was a problem), one may have been egg bound over night, when she started to want to lay this winter, and I found her in a corner in the morning.....very sad...first egg is the hardest...never a pleasant thing..she was a good girl too... This is the first time in over 6 years we lost any chickens, not due to natural causes (old age?)

Here are some of my girls and my Buddy..our Aracuana rooster, still looking for some ground to peck through.  His feathers are starting to grown back from his late winter molt, and it is a sure sign of spring to come.  Under the hay it is still pretty thick ice...middle of February....what can I there isn't much to scratch yet.

Buddy is a real gentlemen.  He always waits for the girls to eat before he does..he's one of the gentlest roosters we ever had.  There are some breeds I would NEVER have if I still had small children...Brahamas for one.

Oh, did you know chickens talk to you?  You can always tell they are about to start laying (when they first start laying) when they start to talk to you when you visit them to feed.  They never stop after is kind of a peaceful "cooing" almost.

Another time I will talk about chickens and the need for it good to give them extra light in the winter or not?

See you later..looking for spring..nothing to do but plan the garden...(I hear we may have snow next least the ice is off the paths!)


Monday, February 14, 2011

Laundry Soap.....

I have been making my own laundry soap since 2008, when I discovered Soaps Gone By

this is the ingredients and directions for a large amount (almost 5 gallons) 

1 bar grated Fels Naptha soap (1 cup grated)
5 gallon bucket
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
4 1/2 gallons water

Put grated Fels Napha  in saucepan and cover with enough water to cover the soap.

Heat on low until it dissolves.  (once it starts to dissolve I find a long whisk is best for stirring it melts it gets thick and creamy with the whisk)

Fill the bucket with hot water (the 4 1/2gal) and add the soap mix

Add the 1cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, and 1 cup Borax, and mix well.

I use a really big Chinese slotted spoon to stir it (that's the biggest problems-finding something long enough to stir.) 

As it cools it thickens....but you can use it immediately.  1/2 to 1 cup per laundry load. 

Smaller batches can be made.  I use and old tea type cup ..I guess it is about 6oz and not always filled.  This takes the grime and grease out of my oldest's clothes and it takes the smell out, but leaves clothes soft..I never use softener any more, but if I have too, I put some vinegar in the rinse water.  (the clothes never smell like vinegar...)

As far as the smell, you can add fragrance if you like but they come out, just as is, fresh air....and even better when the laundry is dried out on the line in the sun...

The reason I like the Soaps Gone by website's kit is the soap is already grated.  They give you a bag of it grated plus 2 extra bars, and whole boxes of the borax and washing soda ...which can be hard to find these days.....enough for plenty of batches and good for many many they give you a whole bunch of recipes for powder detergent, the liquid detergent above, and basic cleaner and disinfectant...there are also other recipes on the site.  It takes about 15 to 20 mintues to make and it's fun. 

Stir it now and then, until it sets.  It gels over night and sometimes when you try to stir it is separates, and you can't seem to mix it together but I use it that way anyway, and it works fine...

See you later,


Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.

... Henry Van Dyke 


Enjoy a lot of chocolate!  Give your sweetheart an extra hug...

See you later,

Menu for the Week...

I am still recovering..still not feeling "right" but much better then last week. So here is a menu for this week...."maybe" I will stick to it..I am giving myself a lot of leeway..

I was planning on food shopping today but that is probably not going to happen, so we will be having left over split pea soup with ham, and homemade sour dough bread..maybe I will make cheese garlic bread to go with it, or maybe I will make mini pizzas.

this one is up for grabs because I have shred pork from a pork roast in the freezer, for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches or tacos, but if we have split pea soup on Monday I don't want to have pork again, so this might wait.  Either/or what we didn't have to dinner last night out of the two choices

Stuffed shells from last week and Italian bread, and green salad.

chicken cutlet and a spinach salad with raspberries, and raspberry vinaigrette

free night (for me-boys go out or have company so I do whatever I want!)

Pasta with a light creamy sauce, and roasted cauliflower, and garlic. I might put some peas in it too.



An Alternate Meal or lunch might be pasta and tuna with oil, Romano/Parmesan mix, and garlic, fresh parsley, and red pepper flakes.

Seems like there is a lot of pasta on the menu this week.  I Love pasta, and it is inexpensive, and handy to have in the pantry for weeks like THIS one!

I mix good Italian pasta, half and half with some of the whole grain and higher fiber pastas, (but not all whole wheat).  When good pasta is mixed with vegetables (the veg being in a higher quantity then the pastas, and the sauce being light) it becomes basically healthy. Pair it with a salad and it is a fast, inexpensive, healthy meal.  Sometimes I will add meat to it, depending on the sauce. Or even ...gasp...bacon...I Love bacon... I am half northern Italian what can I say...give me any vegetable and I can mix it with pasta...

See you later,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A New Favorite Book....

I am so happy.  I just recieved my long awaited book;

..."and I shall have some peace there" Margaret Roach.

I have her first book too (A Way To Garden) And read her articles when she wrote for the local newspaper doing the garden column, as well as her work with Martha Stewart, as garden editor. 

Now she is looking for peace in beautiful Upstate NY and her gardens are a thing of beauty.  This book is a memoir of her life, and her moving Upstate.  Margaret is one of those people who, like many of us, got tired of the rat race and chucked it all to start a new life.  I wish her Peace there....

Check out her web site and look at her slide shows of the garden.

If you haven't already, Margaret, add some chickens!

See you later,

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Warm Soup for a Bone Chilling Cold Day....

Yesterday we woke up here to 9 was a little was 16.

So I made soup out of one of the winter squashes I grew last season.  This is a pretty basic soup.  It was easy and fast, and warming.

So here it is:

Take one winter squash (about 3 lbs) and wash the outside surface....

Cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and peel and cube it.  Toss it with oil and chopped garlic, and roast in 350 degree oven, for about 20 minutes to a half hour.  You don't really want to cook it all the way through.           

Meanwhile, saute chopped onion (can be rough chop because you are going to puree it) in about 1 tablespoon of butter, for about 2 minutes, until they are soft and translucent but not brown. 

Add the squash cubes, and add 1 quart of liquid.  (can be chicken broth, water, vegetable stock, or a combination.) I used 2 cups water and 2 cups chicken stock.     

Add 2 teaspoons of curry powder (I used one tsp of hot curry and 1 tsp of regular curry)
1 teaspoon of ginger powder (or use 2-3 tsp of grated fresh ginger)     

Bring to a boil, lower heat, partially cover and cook until the squash is tender.  (about 20-30 minutes)              

Puree in batches in processor or blender.  Return to pan and season with salf and pepper to taste.  I added a splash of cream, or half and half (just a splash) but that's optional.

Also optional is additions to the soup.  I added some cooked left over brown basmati rice I had from an a one pot chicken and rice meal we had earlier this week....but that is totally optional... I am thinking maybe some chunks of stewed tomato might have gone well with it, too.

To serve it, add a spoonful of plain yogurt to the bowl and swirl it around...(I added a sprinkle of cayenne to mine..yum..)

This would be good with some pita bread, or other flat bread on the side..


See you later,


Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Cooking Site to Use...and I Mean USE...

And I mean use!  I Love this site.  She has so many recipes and they all look great.  (and I might be prejudiced but she's a NY girl!) haha....

Her name is Reeni.  And her site is loaded with good fast and basically healthy recipes.  (I say basically because there are SOO many good cake and cookie recipes ...haha!) 

I must be feeling better..I can look at food today...


Not The Best Of Days.....

Well I figured why I was so tired and why I just didn't feel like adding a menu this week...

We all have the flu!  (and a bacterial infection) I feel like the walking dead..I haven't been this sick in a long, long time.

So as soon as I recover, it's hard to see or think straight, I will write more and next week add that menu.....

By next week they are "promising" a couple of 50 degree days.  "Maybe" we might actually start to see the ground here...but that is hard to imagine since there is still at least 1 1/2' on the ground in most places and 3' the back yard..not to mention the mountains on the streets...

See you soon...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Oh Monday Monday....

I am not sure why, but last week almost felt like a whirl wind to me..and I didn't DO anything out of the ordinary..

Maybe it is the "juggling" to do the everyday tasks, around the icy snow piles that makes everything feel rushed...

Maybe it is "cabin fever".  I see all these projects piling up and a need to get started doing them, but either can't because I need some tool or material, or because it involves something I need to do outside.

Maybe it is that we are SO close to spring I am "chomping at the bit" to get started on more outside projects...

The weather pattern is changing and even though typically February is our coldest month, it is warmer now then it has been in January.  Enough to melt off some of the ice paths....yahhh.  Although I hear it is supposed to get cold again (no surprise here.....after all it IS February) and we might even have snow this week, although there is no threat of anything major. 

So after a nice weekend, and going to my sisters, on Sunday, with my son's, and seeing one of my nephews and his wife and their son's, we had a good time.  We did watch the Super Bowl, but I had no vested interest in any one team, except that my father came from a little coal mining town south of Pittsburgh, which would have been nice, but both teams have won before was just a fun time.  (I liked the half time show..)

So Monday is a kind of planning day.  I will post a menu later on, and see what else in in store. 

See you later...


Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Egg of the Season and Winter Greens...and the Wisdom of Our Older Friends...

Yippeee!!  I brought feed to the chickens this morning, and lo and behold..the First Egg of the Season!  They are old enough now, that I know I will not get enough through the spring and summer to cook with but there will be enough to eat for breakfasts...

I wish I had a bowl that showed the correct color, or contrast.   It is a very pale green.  The two hens I lost this winter had blue eggs, and they were tiny.  Bantam sized (In case some one out there doesn't know what a Bantam is, it is a mini chicken, and they lay very small eggs but they are very prolific.  The yokes take up almost all of the shell and they are a deep orange.  When you use them you use 2 eggs to equal one.  My two were "home grown"..a mix of Bantam and Aracauna ....the ones that lay colored eggs...hence the small blue eggs.)

The egg in the picture is slightly smaller than a large egg (from the store).   Aracaunas are my favorite birds.  The eggs are slightly smaller then the usually brown or white egg layers, but they have a deeper color yoke and the hens lay well into the fall and are the first to start laying in the winter.  (most other breeds start laying in the spring, after a winter rest.)  They also keep laying well into old age, when other breeds have stopped.  I am so happy!

I always keep a glass of parsley on the counter.  Some time ago, I was sitting in a chiropractor's office when an older woman in her 80's came in and started talking to me. (we were talking about health) She said she always kept a glass of fresh parsley on the counter, and she put it in everything, and often would just walk by and pick a piece to eat as she went through the kitchen.  She was so strong, and sweet, and still very active, and even still driving herself.  I bought some parsley on the way home that day, and have kept a glass on the counter ever since. It brightens the day when it is gray, or white out, or stark and is a piece of spring in a glass...  I'd like to say that I grew it myself because what you find in the store in the winter leaves a lot to be desired, but sweet Sugar likes to eat plants..and from what I read, parsley is not good for cats...who knew?!  So I have to wait for spring, at least while we are here, to plant it outside...

Another gray sun...but we didn't get the snow/sleet/rain mix we were supposed to get, although we will probably get some rain later on...maybe this is the beginning of the end of winter, because the pattern, seems to be changing...

See, you later,


Thursday, February 3, 2011

What A Week!

Well, snow aside (and now ice), it has been quite a week and it started right with the weekend......

When I came in from outside and smelled oil in the house.  Long story short and $2100 later, we have a new oil tank in the basement.  I have been coughing for 3 days, and now I have a stomach or intestinal virus. 

So the rest of the house is still falling apart, but we have a new tank... treacherous, but yet so can be anyway.  We didn't get a lot down here, but I did snap a few pictures of branches...nothing pretty..there was no sun..... for our "winter weather record".

(I have seen some beautiful ice storms) but destructive none the less.  Later on, after some melts, I will take pics of the once pretty pine tree in the back that has been decimated this winter.  SO many branches have snapped off...

The paths are now partially melted and have refrozen.  Yesterday I tried to rough them up as I walked knowing full well today they will be a sheet of ice.

My oldest son had a work schedule change and now has Thursday off (and Sunday).  I am going to think it is Saturday all day (for a while!)  We'll see how this goes now, with him having split days off.

 Today is a chicken soup day, since it won't get out of the 20's.  And I am planning to look over seed catalogs for what to grow this year.  This is a hard choice.  I was just talking to my neighbor about moving.  So I have to decide just how much I will grow.  I can always leave it if we sell, for the new owners..I can't seem to NOT grow anything...

That brings up another dilemma.  Just how much do I put into this house to put it on the market?  There is nothing special about this house.  It is an expanded ranch, expanded from a 4 room summer cottage that was built in 1946!  (and it maybe have been better if they left it as it was!) The "Ranch" part being added in the 50's.  "Some" parts of the house are falling apart, (after all these years) and some are very sturdy indeed.  But if someone buys it today, they will no doubt tear it down, as they are doing with so many older houses these days.  So just how much do I put into it to sell it?  The BEST thing about where we are right now, is the location....the 627 acre wilderness park next to us that is full of horse trials and will never be built on.....we are also zoned for 2 horses on this property, whereas most others around us are zoned for 1.  THIS is what makes it hard to decide to move.

So I have my work cut out for me..mostly "mental"!  (and throw in some emotional)  Because another very BIG problem is I LOVE New York!  Maybe not so much what they are doing to Long Island, (it was once a very beautiful place), but NY in general...I am a north east Coast girl....Love the coast...not overly fond of the South, although it is pretty all along the coast, (no offense to anyone) but the cost of living is sure tempting...

Must go for now,

See ya later,