Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oh, just shoot me.

Figuratively speaking, of course.  I have been trying various means of preparing myself for a nice, long, uninterrupted, peaceful, restful night's sleep.  I've had varying degrees of success, ranging from none at all to very little.  :)  Last night I set the stage - no DVD viewing, a nice up of chamomile tea, a quiet job - cutting out Sleep Bunnies.  It should have been perfect.  It was, in effect, perfectly ineffectual.  I was wide awake at 1:30, listening to the pair of owls hooting back and forth - probably checking to see if either was in possession of a crow bar in order to get their talons on my chickens.

By 2:15 I gave up and startled the dogs who groggily staggered to the back door - with the exception of Pepperoni who always thinks my hours are horrendous.  Since I couldn't just sit there, I:

Made a loaf of 2 hour non-dairy Einkorn flour bread
Canned a half-gallon of applesauce
Stared at YouTube for far too long
Worked on my great-nephew's baby blanket
Stared into space
Made a couple of lists
Talked myself out of texting my sister - who, I prayed, was still sleeping and not talking my dad back into the house from his journey to 'work'

I always feel so proud of myself when I accomplish so much in the morning - until I realize, at 2 PM, that I've been up for twelve hours.

Le sigh.

This bread is so easy to make and so wonderfully bread-y and yeast-y! 

This is a very easy recipe with little or
no kneading.

I obviously had to try it to see if it was safe.
Many times.

A new recipe I tried this weekend - a Chard and Sweet Corn Gratin from the NYT August 26th food section (Martha Rose Shulman).  So far, I've had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It is going on my "Favorites" list.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 generous bunch of Swiss or rainbow chard, stemmed and washed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Black pepper
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2-3 ounces Gruyere, grated (1/2-3/4 cup), to taste (I used cheddar)
Kernels from 2 cooked ears of corn (1-1/2 -2 cups) (I used my uncooked, frozen)
1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup) (I used Asiago)

Heat oven to 375 degrees and oil a 2 qt baking dish
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and blanch chard leaves for 1-2 mins until tender but still bright green.  Put in cold water, drain and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Chop.
Heat O/O in medium skillet and add garlic.  Cook, stirring, until fragrant.  Add herbs and blanched chard.  Stir to coat with oil for a few minutes.  Remove from heat.  In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk and 1/2 tsp salt.  Stir in chard mixture and cheese.  Stir in corn. Put in baking dish, smooth top and sprinkle with Parmesan.  Bake for 35-40 mins until nicely browned.  Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ding! Ding!

After losing Saturday to a series of events that could have been unfortunate but weren't, fortunately, I was faced with one day in which to cram two days' worth of chores plus my 'zen' time.  (My fourth grade English teacher is spinning in her grave after that convoluted sentence!) Instead of my usual frenetic approach, I decided to use logic (sort of).  Four main "areas" of chores divided by four hours of work time = 1 hour in each area.  I brought out the timer.

That worked pretty well, although an hour seems to go more quickly that I was hoping.  Photos below - very last of the harvest (except for kale and chard) contains green and red tomatoes, a handful of purple beans, two puny cubes, and ripe and non-ripe tomatillos and PEARS.   Pot of beautiful green, yellow and purple tomatillos.  Scrappy doing what Scrappy does best these days.  Pepperoni exhausted from watching me work.  Lovey loves to "help" but any photo of her would be a blur!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Monday Musings and a Winner

At 4:30 this morning I was listening to the strangled sounds coming out of the coop, hoping the roolets come into their voice soon - or that it will get cold enough to close the windows.  Curse me!  It was 38 degrees!

I was thinking today how much fear prevents us from truly enjoying life.  It's like Marley's chains - acres of them, forged from big and little fears.  Okay, I'M the one clattering around here.  Time to pull out the bolt cutters.

My dependents are trying to kill me.  They must have had a peek at my will.  I put all the dog toys away before bed so I won't trip over them at o'dark thirty in the morning. This morning I tripped over "foxy", then "squirrelly", then the throw rug (mysteriously moved across the kitchen floor), before I reached the light.  Then Kramer dropped to the counter from the top of the cabinets.  I didn't even need coffee to get me jump started.


Random Number Generator picked... Hoosier Girl!  Woot!  Send me your mailing address and your winnings will be in the mail this week!

Monday, September 14, 2015


As we are all (well, most of us) canning our little hearts out, I thought it would be apropos to do a little giveaway.

I have one copy of Jackie Clay's book, "Growing and Canning Your Own Food".  An extremely thorough book that covers some basic growing information, as well as the how-to on canning just about everything you can imagine.  The only thing I find missing in this book is an index - it would have been helpful.  However, that being said, it's easy enough to follow.

If you would like to be part of this little giveaway, please leave a comment about canning below.  Open to readers in the US only - I apologize to my Canadian and Beyond friends.  Deadline for comments is Friday at midnight.  I will announce the winner on Monday next.  Good luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Greetings from Crazyville!

It's an understatement to say that I'm not sure what day it is.  I seem to have lost all normal reference.  The Universe is shoveling on the chaos but we seem to be holding our own.  Lots of back and forth, trips north, trips to the train station, trips to doctor appointments - with some frantic canning squeezed in between.  It may be chaotic, but my Italian prune plums don't give a damn.  Neither do the boatload of ripening tomatoes.

I've managed to can my yearly quota of salsa - I tried a different recipe this year and I LOVE it!  Since I am usually challenged (snort) by recipes that call for 40# of produce, the resulting 55 quarts of canned goods languishing on my shelves for years - I decided to buy a book by Food in Jars that deals with small quantities and has really unique and wonderful-sounding recipes.  I'm thinking this little book is worth its weight in gold.

New to me this year - Cantaloupe Jam, Spiced Plum Jam and Basic Salsa.  Yum, yum, yum.  I ended up making a triple batch of the salsa because I liked it so much.

Only the pickled green tomatoes/tomatillos and canned, chopped tomatillos remain to be processed.  I will dehydrate everything else.  The drought of the past couple months has taken it's toll on my garden and pretty much everything is toast.  Even my kale, which is usually pretty sturdy stuff.

I have been running the portable air conditioner for the dogs during the worst of the heat.  I took pity on the Pepperoni and toted him along as a Therapy Dog yesterday.  He adores his Auntie Connie and thrives on mind-numbing petting sessions.  Perfect therapy for Dad.  I took my mother to a doctor appointment and he languished in their air conditioned house, being fed treats and getting all kinds of attention.  Poor laddie.  :")

We're getting into the sticky bits of the merger at work - all IT platforms and systems will be changed.  Right in time for a reporting period - one of my more hysterical moments of the year.  What is it they say?  What doesn't kill you will make you strong?  I may emerge from all of this as Hercules little sister.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

There is always a bright spot (or three)!

Linden, the sweetest sheep on Earth.
When he isn't busting gates and fences.

Juno, my little Good 'n Plenty.

Stormin' Norman
Sometimes you have to look a little harder for a bright spot in dark times, but sometimes they are right there in front of you.  The flies are bad this week - hot and humid, with no rain or relief in sight.  As I feed the sheep and llama their apples and pears, I take the opportunity to daub on SWAT - the only thing I have found that keeps the flies from their eyes.  I missed getting a photo of Apria - let's just say she looks like a member of a woosie tribe - three little streaks of pink.  Pears or not, she does not like anyone touching her face. 

Another bright spot is that finally - FINALLY - the little hens are going in their coop at night.  It only took THREE FREAKIN WEEKS.  I have never had such a time getting pullets to head for home at night.  They finally 'saw the light', as it were, and now go right in as soon as I turn the light on.  I now have to get them to the point where they don't need a light - that should only take a month or two - and then I have to transition them into the big coop.  Heaven only knows if I can get that achieved before the snow falls.

And another bright spot - I had read an article about Einkorn wheat, that it was an un-hybridized, natural, ancient wheat that had a very simple gluten that seemed to be tolerated by people who could not tolerate today's adulterated wheat gluten.  So, I took a deep breath and baked up a loaf.  The smell of baking, yeasty bread almost brought me to tears.  I had a tomato sandwich and waited.  Four days later, there have been no ill-effects.  This is wonderful news, although I won't be baking a lot of it - I don't want to tax my system and it is difficult to find and expensive.  But, still, the occasional loaf is now in my future.

I continue to make small headway into my processing - another batch of tomato sauce is in the slow cooker - but I better ramp up my efforts.  I have a pile of grapefruit-sized tomatoes teetering on the edge of over-ripe-ness!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Best Laid Plans.

I should know better by now.  I really should.  No matter how carefully we make plans, the only thing we can rely on is that they will change.  And change quickly.

No sooner had my sister left for vacation, than my dad started to go downhill.  My youngest sister and mother took him to his doctor on Tuesday; who took one look at his chest x-ray and had him transported to the hospital by ambulance.  After some fast shuffling, my sister had to go back to the city (rental car) and I took the next shift.  Thursday the doctor told us there was nothing they could do.  Friday we met with hospice staff.  Saturday he was home.  My sister dropped everything and rushed back from her vacation and here we are.

Now we go day-to-day and support each other as we can.  I am so thankful that I have two sisters who are so loving and wonderful.  And flexible.  And humorous.  They get it from their mother. 

So, my posts will be rather sporadic (nothing new there, right?) for a while.  It's been so hot and dry here, that I have basically given up on the garden.  I haven't had a chance to water it or do basically anything but drive back and forth to VT and do the basics.  Mom came home with me Thursday and Friday - which the dogs loved, loved, loved.  Especially Pepper, who almost swooned.  He also made her pick him up after faking he couldn't get down from the couch.  Stinker.  Lovey threw up - I put it down to the stress levels.