Saturday, April 20, 2019

Spring flowers

Flowers are everywhere and thank goodness.  It's been a long, cold, wet time.

The April rains have come.  They're the best.  A beautiful rain with warm temperatures.

Here's the Cleveland Pear we planted when we first bought the house.  It's as tall as the power lines now.


I have no idea what this flower is.  I remember planting it years ago and then being disappointed by how tiny the plant was when it bloomed.

The orange primrose was a gift when we bought the house.

One of the landscaping shrubs.  Bees love it. 

Some of the "clearance" bulbs planted last fall.

Here's another one.  It's lovely.

Grape hyacinth.  This week marks 4 years since my mother died.  I'm thinking of moving some of these up to the cemetery along with snow drops,  crocus, forget-me-nots and daffodils. The long-term goal being a perennial planting that would bloom from spring through fall.  Gardening was her passion and joy.  It seems neglectful, or worse, indifferent that I haven't planted around the headstone but honestly this is the first year I could even tolerate the thought of doing so without weeping. 

A sprig of rhododendron.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Trout cakes with dandelion & turkey egg noodles

Well, here it is.  The best part of trout season : a great meal that celebrates the start of spring.  

I cleaned my two trout, stuffed them with lime and baked them in the oven or half an hour.  Flaked the meat off and mixed it with egg, panko, flour, old bay and lime zest for the trout cakes.

What else said "spring"? My father's friend had been given a dozen turkey eggs that she passed on to me.   There were spring bunching onions growing in the garden, along with handfuls of dandelion in the yard. Garlic from the fall.


I sauteed some bacon, cooked the greens, onions and garlic in the fat. Made an alfredo type sauce with half n half, butter, cream cheese and a little whole grain mustard to cut the richness and brighten it.

Turkey egg turned into spaghetti noodles.

Here it is plated. The trout cakes were a bit bland, add herbs next time.  The pasta with dandelion was fantastic, we'll make this again soon.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Goodbye Nigel

I had to put Nigel down this morning.  He had been hanging on for a couple of days now. I really, really wish someone else could have done it for me so I didn't have to.

My sweet, sweet buddy.

He was loved by the ladies. 

Gentle with babies. 

And very handsome.  I really adored that guy.

He's buried out in the chicken yard. What a crummy morning.

It feels really lonely out there right now. I used to talk to him every day, twice a day. One sided conversations about the food, the weather, his plans for the day ("Nigel! Tell your ladies to lay some damn eggs!")  He would cock his head and watch me.

Farewell, friend. You are missed.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Opening day of trout season.

This is not a trout.

Saturday was the fist day of trout season, the un-official start to Spring around these parts. The day was just stunningly beautiful.  Warm weather, blue skies, fluffy clouds.  I was able to spend the morning fishing with my dad, his friend, my uncle and a very good friend of mine who was free that day.  I came home with two trout.  I also caught two of these grotesque things called red horse suckers.  I threw them back because they were hideous.  Then came home, googled them and found that they only live in very pure water and the general consensus is "ugly as hell but delicious and sweet, tastes like walleye."  Ugh! Live and learn.

The farm we fished at had about 30 other people fishing there that morning.  This little muskrat swam down the stream, walked along the shore, plopped himself down in the sun and just watched everyone as he ate grass.  I haven't seen a muskrat up close since I was little so this was a treat.  You could get within 10 feet of the thing.  There was also a mama Canada goose on a nest.

I came home as spent some time outside with the oldest who, surprised me with a bouquet of flowers he had picked all on his own.  My sweet little guy.

In the evening I went to a ladies night at one of the local social clubs with a new friend. I made my dad be our designated driver.  There was a little of this:

And a whole lotta this:

Leaving me feeling like this today:

Seriously. I woke up on the sofa fully dressed with a raging hangover and a cheese puff stuck to my shirt.

Guess what's fun to do hungover?  Filing taxes.  Cleaning fish.  I did have a fantastic time though.  Today we spent some time outside, I made homemade pasta to go with the trout.  It was a really good weekend overall.  

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Good luck fishing charm

This Saturday is the opening day of trout season.  I made a good luck charm out of some of my Grandpa's old fishing spinners that were just too far gone to be usable.

Here's what I started with.

Here is how the necklace looks on.  I love it. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Viewing the world...

... is a funny thing.
This mural was painted downtown in 2011:

I'm sure we've driven past it at least 4 times a week, every week, since then. Minimum.

4 times a week x 52 weeks x 7 years = 1,456

I just recently noticed that the buck's one antler is growing out of... The side of his head? His ear? 

What else do I not notice?

Monday, April 8, 2019

Garden weekend

Spring is here! Time to plant lettuce and peas!

But.... the garden is a hot mess because last year I was growing this little guy and was too huge to do anything.

Luckily, the weather was absolutely beautiful this weekend.  The oldest and I got into the spring side of the garden, totally cleaned it up, turned over some ground and started planting.



We removed the fence, squared up the plot and hoed the weeds out.  Delivered wheelbarrows of them to ecstatic geese.  He fed every worm we found to the peeps. We strung string and marked off a row on the left for herbs, lettuce and potatoes.  A row in the center for peas and a row on the right for the permanent rhubarb and asparagus beds.  I'm not even going to attempt weeding this year, rather we left wide enough spaces in between the planted rows that my husband or I can just run a push mower through it.  

Cutting sumac for the pea trellis.  This is such a wonderful age.  He's old enough to help for real now (Please carry this stick to the pile. How many do we have now? Can you help carry them to the garden?) and he loves it.  When we came inside for a drink break he asked, totally unprompted, "Mom, am I a farmer?" "Well honey, you take care of the chickens and raise food for our family to eat so yes."  

This little guy was hiding under a brick.  I think it's a Redback Salamander? 


So I still need to pick some things up in this picture but I'm thrilled and somewhat amazed at the amount of work we got done.  In addition to cleaning up the place we planted a new variety of rhubarb (Red Canadian) transplanted the goji bush, built and planted a pea trellis, planted greens (a mix of lettuces, kale and chard seeds that he measured out and stirred)  This week I'd like to plant potatoes, shallots and parsley out there.  We also need to start seeds in the house. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Fish hatchery day!

What a fun time we had on Saturday. There is a fish hatchery near us, one of the few left in the state, and yesterday they had an open house! Of course we had to go. The last time I went to this was with my dad and grandpa... I was maybe 5 years old? I remember being excited to see all the fish and in my memory there were maybe 2 dozen other people there. My, how this event has grown.  On this Saturday there were hundreds of visitors, at least.

Some of the fish were obviously like "What the crap?"about all of the sudden visitors.

Here is the 2 story, 10,000 gallon viewing tank of native fish. It was awesome.

There were tons of fun activities; a live snake meet and greet, fish printed t-shirts and these tiny animation wheels that, when spun, made a frog croak.  The oldest was most excited about the dowel rod that made it spin.

This is one of the breeding areas with milt and egg tanks (yuck) and HUGE breeding fish.

There were also stations for kids to practice casting and a big fish-fry buffet.

Really, it was a stunner of a day.  Blue skies, fluffy clouds, beautiful lake. 

I picked up a handful of these conservation posters for $1 each.  I remember these posters from the little local nature center when I was little and HAD to have some of them.  Three of them are going in the boys bedroom. 

These two - Snakes of Pennsylvania and Forage Fish are going in the camper. 

Best day ever.  We'll have to remember to mark it on the calendar to go again next year - it was the Saturday before the opening day of Trout season. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Warm wheat berry salad

I forgot to take a picture so here it is, half eaten. It's completely gone now.  Delicious!

I mentioned last post that my dear friend gifted me a jar of wheat berries.  Honestly I wasn't quite sure what to do with them until I found this recipe from Food and Wine Magazine.  We more or less had the ingredients.  It was so good that I'm going to make it again tomorrow.  Perfect for snacking on right out of the refrigerator or poaching an egg into for lunch.  Is it healthy?  I hope so.

This is what I did so I can make it again.  Because I'm already craving more.

One cup wheat berries were cooked in 2.5 cups chicken stock. 
Meanwhile cut a butternut squash into cubes and roast them.  
I sauteed a little bit of bacon (maybe an inch wide chunk of sliced bacon), some white onion, garlic and spinach.  Lots of dried sage. Black pepper.

This is the part I can't really remember (oh, the most important part?) but I *think* I de-glazed the pan and dressed it with a pear balsamic vinegar.  Maybe some regular balsamic as well? Added some raw cubed apples at the end.

And look at this!  My friend is brilliant. She found that the shaker top from a jar of Aldi Parmesan cheese fits on top of a mason jar! 

Monday, April 1, 2019

Spring! Fairy egg, wheat berries and other adventures

Spring is officially here. The crocus in the front yard look beautiful this year.  Some years the grass is still brown when they bloom and the overall effect is that we've just got some litter out there but this time the grass has started to green and the flowers look really pretty.  All of the bulbs we planted in December are starting to come up.  So glad we did that.

This picture is so funny; the oldest filling the goose pool while rooster Rocky crows on the fence. Rocky is one of the best roosters ever.  He's still feeding the babies his chicken wife adopted last summer, including his son who now is five times his size.  We still have the little bantam rooster that attacks me every time he sees me - Rocky now keeps his eyes open and will knock him sideways if he sees him take a run at me.  He's awesome.  Rocky, not the other one (who the oldest calls "that little turd").

We got the craziest egg this week.  Check it out!

Tiniest fairy egg ever!  It's smaller than a quail egg.  I have no idea who laid it, but only my older hennies lay brown eggs.  It's the first fairy egg we've gotten since that tiny duck egg.

The little piece of ginger that we planted back in January finally sprouted.  I had given up on it and was going to throw it out but now it's growing.  No idea what to do now, probably just pot it up and put it out on the porch this spring.

Purchased these as a treat.  The rhubarb is a nice red variety, we grow Victoria (a murky green color) so I'd like to try this.  Every year I lose so many potatoes to mice and voles, I swear this is going to be my last season planting them if I can't figure this out.  The idea this year is to grow them above ground in burlap sacks. The local Agway has burlap coffee sacks for 49c so I picked up 5 along with some buckwheat seed for bee forage.  Plus, I kind of felt like I had to buy something there, we had 4 kids in the store including my eldest who was screaming his head off because he got scratched by a cat while I wasn't looking.  Sigh.

My sister brought her kids over for a couple-day visit and we had a great time with the cousins.  

Besides Agway, we went to Easter Bunny lane at Kranyaks, out to dinner and to the Olympic Fun Center.  All of the kiddos had a blast.

Yay Ninja Turtles.

It snowed overnight but has mostly melted off.  Hope to spend some more time outside later on.  I was gifted some wheat berries yesterday (thank you!!!) and we're going to try this Wheat Berry Salad with Kale and Squash for dinner.