Saturday, November 16, 2019

Making friends


I had forgotten how much joy a packet of cat treats can bring.  To both a baby and the cats.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Oh my.


The oldest was so excited to show us his creation.  
"Come look!"


It's a rocket ship. We cannot stop laughing. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The big snow, books


We had a heck of an early-season cold snap hit us.


The chickens stayed in along with the cats but the ducks and geese are loving it.  The cats and chickens were like " there is no treat on earth that will make us go out there."  We got probably 4 inches of snow and some ice.


Ducks don't care.


Here is the house yesterday.


A tree in the old orchard.


Inside we have the an orchid that I bought at Aldi in the spring that is re-blooming wonderfully and an amaryllis bought at Wal-mart that is supposed to be a double white blossom. 


Ninja kicking the icecicles of the car this morning.  They have new boots but I cannot find winter clothes anywhere.  



So last night I brought a tray of snow inside for them to play in.  I've looked everywhere.  They both have snow pants at the very least packed away but I've searched every corner of the house.


Last night I finished this book.  We had seen the movie years ago and I knew Tom killed Dickie  and took over his identity halfway through it but didn't remember anything else.  Patricia Highsmith wrote it in the 50's along with The Price of Salt (also amazing) Strangers on a Train (will order).  Like The Price of Salt this is an intoxicating book that draws you right in.  I know, I know, that Tom Ripley murders two people during the course of the pages for nothing but self-serving reasons but I couldn't help but root for him, heart in my throat, until the final page.  That's some good writing.


This is my next book.  I'm reading this with a friend and have never heard of the author or have any idea what it's about except the horror of receiving it in the mail and realizing it was nearly 500 pages. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Talking about death, Goodbye Rudolph

The oldest, at 4 years old, has been asking a lot of innocent and painfully awkward questions lately about death and my mother. She died when I was 6 months pregnant with him and we talk about her and look at pictures all the time.

Today in the middle of one of these discussions (In the McDonald's drive through of all places)  he asked "Do trees die? Why? What happened to your mom? Where is her skin? What happened to it?", I explained again what happens when people die, what a cemetery was and asked if he wanted to go see where my mom was buried.  He did.  Off we went. For the first time together.   It took a longer time than usual to get to Rocky Glen because not one but two of the roads leading to the rural cemetery were closed.  We parked,  got out and looked at her gravestone.  I answered his 4 year old questions ("where are her hands?") and we looked at other grave markers. ("Who lives there? And under there?")


This is what my father, my sister and I did that day years ago with all of the funeral arrangements; took them apart and arranged the flowers in a mile high mound on the grave of a gardener.  It was beautiful.

On the way to the cemetery we passed a 6 point buck dead along the road that someone had stopped and stuck a red plastic Rudolph nose on. The oldest didn't notice.

Later in the night I found him with this photo of my mom, slapping it against his thigh. 


 What on earth are you doing?  I asked.  He told me he was trying to "poof her back to life"  I explained again that it it didn't work that way and he immediately suggested we suggested we get out the game Bananagrams.  He said that we could spell out her name with the tiles "to make you less sad".  We did.  I was ok.


While looking for the grave photo I found this one of my mom. She's sitting on Santa's lap in 1955 at the exact age our youngest is now.

I hope I am explaining all of this the right way and not screwing it up.  The oldest has a lot of questions but he's 4 years old and trying to understand the world.  I am mostly ok but having an extra beer tonight which I think is forgivable. Sometimes these everyday moments just catch me sideways.

Why share this personal thing?  Why blog at all?  I've spent a lot of time thinking about that and what seems right to me is that I blog in order to keep a record of my life.  So that one day my children will be able to read it and remember my personality, what my voice sounded like.

Sometimes you don't mess with perfection.



No one else in the house eats cornbread but now that it's cold outside I want it all the time.  With eggs, with soup, as a snack.  I've tried a couple different recipes like the one above that while not being outright failures they were just ok. Mostly they were fed to the chickens who were overjoyed.

Then yesterday I finally hit perfection.


Sweet, chewy and light with an amazing corn flavor.  The cornbread of dreams.  How did I achieve this masterpiece?


Yep.  Jiffy corn muffin mix.  49 cents a box.  I gave in to temptation and was rewarded.

Ingredients include:

 "WHEAT FLOUR, DEGERMINATED YELLOW CORN MEAL, SUGAR, ANIMAL SHORTENING (LARD, HYDROGENATED LARD, TOCOPHEROLS PRESERVATIVE, BHT PRESERVATIVE, CITRIC ACID PRESERVATIVE), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: BAKING SODA, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SALT, WHEAT STARCH, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID, SILICON DIOXIDE."

I don't know what half that crap is and I don't care.   It's absolutely delicious.  The chickens aren't getting any of this.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Shrimp bisque, Dru Holland cookware, baking with the kids


We adults were both super happy with dinner last night so I want to write down how it was made.  I had intended to just buy some lobster bisque from the store yesterday but all of it listed clam juice in the ingredients and the husband is allergic.  Walking around the store I considered just making lobster bisque.  Then thought that we probably didn't need a $20 pot of soup so downgraded it to shrimp.  It was delicious.  It's a lobster bisque recipe from Allrecipes that I tweaked.


2 tbsp butter melted in the medium Dru Holland pot. 
Added half a white onion and a paste-style tomato. 
Let this simmer in 1/4 C chicken stock for awhile.
In a separate pan melted 2 tbs butter and added 2 tbsp flour to make a roux. 
This was added to the Dru pot along with  1&1/2 C milk,  3/4 c chicken stock & 1/4 c half and half.
Added 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, pinch paprika, some pepper and a bit of siracha sauce.  
3/4 lb raw shrimp that I minced finely.

This simmered for awhile and it just was not thickening up so I pulled off a cup of it (liquid and shrimp) and put it in the Nutribullet along with some cornstarch.  That really helped.


Speaking of the Dru cookware, this came out of hiding the other week (The big pot in back) and will probably spend the cool months just sitting out on the stove.  It's too big to store anywhere convenient and I can't get over how useful it is.  Probably every other day we've used it for something or another.  I think my mom made beef stew in this pot.  

She collected the mint green color of Dru and had a good assortment of it found at flea markets and antique shops over the years.  The three pieces of hers that I picked out are all lidded casseroles of various sizes.  They are such quality pieces that it would be nice to pick up a couple more.  I don't think they made a pie pan but there is an au gratin pan that might work well for baking.

The odd-sized cast iron pot is one I found on clearance at Tractor Supply years back.  I popped popcorn in it last night and we watched The Grinch together after my husband and the oldest carved a pumpkin.

This morning we made banana bread.  We're still loving this recipe but I've cut the sugar down to half, added a extra egg and extra banana.


The oldest is a pro at this point.


And the baby has just started his training.  I think I might make them aprons for Christmas.  Oh my goodness, I forgot about this post of the oldest, at not quite 2, with his Thomas apron.


We're getting a large collection of sprinkles.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Popcorn has left in disgrace


Popcorn the rooster left in disgrace today.  He was not turned into a pot pie but rather returned to the house that we got him from.


He rode in the back of the Honda and pondered his poor choices on the drive across town.


He seemed to recognize the place immediately.  The lady that lives there takes in unwanted farm animals and keeps them happy until they die of old age.  He'll have a good life and would have at our place too if only he hadn't started charging at me and the kids. 


Friday, November 1, 2019

Halloween and .... snow



 Trick or treat was Saturday and just like last year it rained for the duration.  We still had fun.  I made wings and tails for both the little ones and they went as parrots.  My husband and I were pirates.  I was pleased with how the wings turned out but they ended up being really heavy with all of those layers of felt, something I was worried about.  The kids liked them and had a good time.  The youngest is too young to understand the whole trick or treat thing but discovered that he is deeply in love with Reese's peanut butter cup candies.


The oldest made this at pre-school.  The pumpkin's name is Minky, which is just hilarious.


He wore a Batman suit to pre-school yesterday. It was just his regular sweatshirt and pants plus a cape and a mask.  They had a little parade for the parents which was cute.


The youngest has been wearing his dinosaur sweatshirt everywhere as it's been nothing but cold and rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  



We woke up this morning to snow.  Just enough to lightly coat everything but enough to let us know the cold is coming. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Good tomato soup recipe?

All summer I didn't can a single thing. We just threw all of the extra ripe tomatoes straight into the freezer and now we can't fit ANYTHING else in there. Not even a pint of ice cream. It's really sad. 

 We all like tomato soup very much and since Aldi apparently discontinued our regular can of organic tomato basil soup I've been trying (unsuccessful) to replicate it.

The first attempt was a roasted tomato and pepper soup from The Art of Doing Stuff. I LOVE her blog. It turned out wonderfully as far as the husband and I were concerned but was too spicy for the kids.

Tonight I tried a recipe from Allrecipes that had really, really good ratings.  You basically simmered tomatoes in chicken stock with some cloves.  I added some basil and oregano too.


It looked very promising on the stove.


But it's way too acidic.  Or to quote the oldest: "YUCK! You made it wrong! Our tomatoes are disgusting forever!"  Thanks, little buddy. This was after I added cream to try to even it out. Oh well. 

So back to the drawing board.  Anyone have a good recipe for a balanced soup using fresh tomatoes?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Leaves everywhere; maple syrup planning


The view from the bathroom window, upstairs.

Leaves are everywhere.  I feel blessed to live in a part of the world that puts on this gaudy but spectacular display every fall.  It's beautiful enough to give a person pause when stepping outside in the morning.


Making maple syrup this spring was such a wild success (in spite of warping our oven racks and setting my bangs on fire) that we're now seeing maple trees everywhere we look this fall.  I never noticed them before but now that we know what they can do we see them everywhere.  It must have been such a welcome source of sweetness and calories to our ancestors and now they're just growing out there, in plain sight, with mostly everyone ignoring them.  We have at least 6 maple trees on the property big enough to tap, in theory anyway.  I set out this week to identify them.

I needed to call out backup in the form of some of our much more tree-wise friends but basically what we concurred is that we have 1 sugar maple tree and the rest are red maples.  The yellow leaf on the bottom left above is the sugar maple.


Elderly red maple in the front yard.


Closest to the garage is the sugar maple.  Closest to the road is another red maple which I tried to tap last spring and could not find any live wood in the trunk.  Bad news, I know.  The other tree that I tapped is a red maple out by the swings and trampoline.


These two are in the center of the property, more red maples, but as they both have poison ivy growing up them we'll not tap them.  


We've been doing a lot of this; raking the leaves into a big pile at the bottom of the slide and sending the kids down it.  It's been fun and has resulted in a lot of surprise! leaves inside clothing at bedtime.