Sunday, February 21, 2021

Kitchen stuff, crafts, the fox skeleton

There are so many things that need doing around here (like getting the Christmas stuff off the porch for instance) but the last couple of days I've decided that priority #1 is making the kitchen look less like a thrift store. Because, well, most of the things in it came from a thrift store. I attempted to thin things out and class the place up a bit. We threw out the plastic tableware and got two new sets of white dishes at Walmart ($10 per set).  I really pared down the amount of stuff on the open shelves. It could be better, we don't use all 3 pitchers at once but they are pretty to look at.


The cookie jar belonged to my grandparents when they first got married. And I left room on the very top shelf for the Famous Chef Shrine.


But what is that next to the random yard sale toy that looks just like Bob Belcher from the cartoon Bob's Burgers? Let's take a closer look.


This was a gift from my father yesterday. It just makes me break into a huge smile every time I look up at it.  It's a relic card from one of my great food loves Anthony Bourdain.  Some trading card companies put out packs every year that feature non-sport celebrities.  A type of super rare card you might pull out of a pack is called a relic card because it contains something worn by the person featured.  So I have a piece of an apron worn by Anthony Bourdain sharing my kitchen with me. 

This sounds odd when I try to explain it but Anthony Bourdain was kind of like a Mr. Rodgers for my grownup self, someone who went through the world gently and made me look at things with new curiosity.

Also on the dad gift front look at what he picked up out of a barn being salvaged:


Old sap buckets! They are beautiful. Thank god we no longer have to look at plastic jugs. I've scrubbed them up, two have small leaks, so a FDA food-grade sealer has been ordered and should arrive Tuesday. Cheap pizza pans from Walmart will work great as lids to keep the rain out, they fit well and just need a hole drilled to wire them to the bucket. The good weather forecast keeps getting pushed back. Mr. H. and I were going to put in taps this weekend but instead of a thaw we have more cold. It was literally 1 degree F this morning. 


These have a place of honor on top of the refrigerator now that it's clear of junk.

Here are the vegetarian meals planned for the week:




This last one is some sort of warm chick pea/quinoa/spinach/pomegranate salad we are having tonight.*

*Edit - Ok, wow, this is a keeper. It has a sweet dijon dressing and is really good. You don't need pomegranate seeds I think any seasonal fruit would work. I could have diced apples. Husband had chicken on his. This would be a great potluck dish if the world ever goes back to normal.

The chick pea gyros last week were so delicious we are having them again on Tuesday. And there will be a vegetable pot pie at some point. This meat free time has been really easy. Except when I totally forgot about Lent and took a bite of a hot dog before remembering. That was a good hot dog bite.


We got this adorable fairy egg a couple of days ago.


And this hennie's butt looks like a fluffy storm cloud. They are really enjoying all the veggie trimmings.


We had a really cold morning where it was so gorgeous outside. There were ice crystals on top of the snow and with the bright sun light the whole world looked like it was covered in sparkling glitter.  It was a stunner.


No eggs yet. Just loudly, loudly, going on about everything.  All the time.


Covid sucks. I miss people. Friday night I made up a bunch of these little origami tea holders to mail to some lady friends I don't get to see often enough. They'll be in the mail tomorrow hopefully. 

So, remember maybe the year before last I was having a terrible red fox problem? Then I put on my big girl pants and solved that problem? The clean skeleton has been in the garage for a year now in a bucket of leaf litter like a macabe 170+ piece puzzle. Last night I sorted out all of the bones and started them soaking in peroxide to whiten. The goal is something like this:


That looks..... difficult. 


Guiding me in this process will be Jake of Jake's Bones with his series on fox articulation. This kid is awesome.  He stopped blogging awhile back but you can find him here.  Everything I have learned about this hobby is thanks to Jake, a 14 year old boy from Scotland. 

Well, that's about all that's going on here. Let's end with a cat picture. 



Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A king cake, sweet potato stew

Yesterday after dinner I got the bright idea to try making a King Cake, what with today being Fat Tuesday and all. I'd never eaten one before but have decorated probably 100s of the things back in my bakery days. It seemed like something to do with the evening and some rattling around in the cupboards revealed we actually had all the ingredients. I used this recipe but cut it half since we didn't need two cakes. We didn't have any tiny plastic babies or colored sanding sugar so I made the best of it.

I'm very happy with how it turned out. This is after we all had it for breakfast,  there was an ice storm last night so Mr. H. had a snow day on account of the roads and cold (the low tonight is 2 degrees).

I've plated some up to take to my dad tomorrow as well as my inlaws if the roads are better.


Here is the filling. I think next time I might do apricots or something instead of raisins. The pecans were nice.  


And here is great success using a bench scraper to lift and fold the dough instead of trying to roll it.


Since the only cookie sheet got destroyed yesterday morning it was baked on a pizza pan that I covered with aluminium foil, worried that the perforated bottom would let the bottom of the cake burn. It worked well with the half hour suggested bake time.

And here is the recipe for the sweet potato stew mentioned yesterday, it's not online that I could find.


My beans were black beans and great northern beans. And I didn't have bay leaves and thought the scotch bonnet sounded just crazy so both of those got left out.  I did add a whole red onion, who makes stew without an onion?  It is a really delicious stew. I'm making it again tomorrow.  Any strong cheese would be good with it.


Monday, February 15, 2021

A meat free Lent, wish us luck. Also Winter

In no way am I a praticing Catholic,  we have discussed this before, but now that Mr. H is going to Catholic school I'm trying to make a supporting effort at home.  Lent starts on Wednesday and I've decided to forgo meat/fish for the 40 days. Since today marks day 15 without alchohol I figure why not be as miserable as possible? 

So no meat starting Wednesday.  Husband hasn't protested this decision but I can tell he's a little alarmed by it. I've assured him that he will still get meat with his dinners. 

It's actually a treat in a way, like sending myself to a vegetable cooking camp.

Here are some things to look forward to:


We had this Jamie Oliver sweet potato/black bean stew last week. It was delicious.  I've been drinking a lot of tonic water with lime at night, no gin.


Wednesday night will be chick pea gyros off Pinterest 


Thursday is Jamie Oliver's eggplant and riccota pasta, *providing* I can locate an eggplant. Both groceries were out of them yesterday although the person I spoke to at Walmart said they would get them in today. I'm curious to try this as I don't particularly care for eggplant. Husband will have chicken added to his pasta.


We had mashed redskin potatoes leftover from Valentine's day dinner so last night I made them into 11 rather large potato and cheddar pierogies.  These are dinner Friday with a salad. Husband will have a bratwurst with his.

My lunches most often look like this:


Some manner of rice/bean/leftovers with an egg on top so that's easy enough. 

Both Mr. H and Mr. A. are embarrassingly picky eaters so they don't even factor into the Lent menu. Mr. H graciously offered to give up "trying new foods" for Lent. I told him it was kind of him to offer, but no.

In other news:


The kids and I painted coffee mugs this week. It was an oven fire paint so now they each have their own special mug.


Mr. H. painted yellow geodes. My mug is ugggly and not worth pictures.

Yesterday was pretty mild, maybe 30 degrees, so we were able to get out in the sunshine.


I actually had my coat off it was so nice.


Look at that sky!


Mr. A. and I found a mess of fun cookie cutters cleaning. We were going to make sugar cookies today but not 10 minutes ago I turned the wrong burner on to make tea, the one I turned on was under the cookie sheet sitting out with the cookie mix, butter and egg on it. So now I've warped the pan, melted a hole in the cookie mix bag, fused hot plastic to the pan and filled the kitchen with smoke. Which, really is a lot to accomplishin a small amount of time. We will have to find something else to do today.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

What's new?

 

Unfortunately this is the only amaryllis to bloom this year but it is pretty.

What's new? Not much honestly.  Just putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the days until Spring. It's been bitter cold here. 

The wool blankets have come out.


If we choose a sunny day and go out back in the woods where there is less wind it's not too bad. Everyone needs to shake off the dust sometimes. 


I think this picture is really funny.


We've been reading.


I finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry yesterday.  It had been awhile since it was put down so it was started at the beginning and read through in about 3 days. I did not guess the big plot twist and so ended up crying twice. It was a really enjoyable story.  The next book up is the collection of short stories on the right. If anyone would like to join me on Goodreads my name there is Cottontailfarm. It's a fun way to keep track of books to read and get recommendations. 


And we've been crafting  daily of course. 


I hauled out this project started last spring and have been slowly stitching along at night.  Boy am I having trouble seeing. I thought it was poor lighting and so did some sewing this afternoon.  Nope, it's just poor eyesight.  Readers help a little. 


This is just something small that was fun to do. It's one of Baby P's formula containers covered with scrapbooking paper and washi tape. I wanted someplace nice to store seeds. 


Lots of Postcrossing,  I've been tinkering with the wax seal kit my husband got me for Christmas. 


The white on this egg is pretty. Two of our remaining hens have started laying. Unfortunately due to the bitter cold the eggs are freezing and cracking most days before I can get to them. The geese look like they'll be laying soon too. 

I'm really trying to get my weight down. The husband and I have cut out alchohol and I've been drinking all my coffee black. It's as miserable as it sounds but I am down 4 lbs over the last week. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The best honey cardamon & groundhog's day cookies

 


We have friends who are going through a very tough time right now. They live states away and there is nothing to be done ease the pain of their loss. I don't know what to do but want to do something so I baked. 

This is a Martha Stewart recipe.  We've never had them before and they are fantastic.


The honey came from my dad's bees and was a spring/summer/fall mix. I think most any honey would do well but a dark one like buckwheat.

The dough was a bit fiddly to emboss with the bee press.  I suppose having the dough at near freezing would have helped. 

I'm also going to make Groundhog's day cookies tomorrow.  'Tis the season and all.

I love these cookies and have been making them every year since about 2005 when my (not yet) husband and I went to Punxsutawney with my sister and (not yet) brother inlaw to celebrate the holiday. This is where the cookie cutter came from, a little souvenir shop on Main Street, Punxsutawney, PA. 

Cookies will be baked, packed and mailed. I don't know what else to do. But I know that something,  anything,  is better than nothing.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Random fortune


I found this wooden cat at the little local thrift store last week. It cost 50 cents and is not my style. I didn't really want it but absolutely couldn't leave it there either. My mom painted these cats back in the 80's for a local woodworker who sold them at craft fairs. I have memories of her assembly line painting them at night in the trailer kitchen. So it came home with me. Both of the older boys immediately claimed it for their own and had a brawl over it.  I told the husband he should count his blessings as my mom also painted wooden yard ornaments,  at least I didn't stumble upon a 3 foot wooden easter rabbit.

 

Baby P and I met our friend A and her baby for lunch at Panera's last week. It was so nice. A is a chemo nurse and vigilant about her health so we feel comfortable with these very, very occasional distanced visits. Baby P has been talking nonstop lately and was overjoyed to be around another little one speaking his baby language of "coo"s and "aga!"s. We caught up on our lives and exchanged late Christmas gifts.


She gave me this "fowl language " coffee mug. It's adorned with illustrations of poorly named birds: the blue footed booby, the titmouse, the oxpecker, the woodcock. It's vulgar and hilarious and I love it.


And my friend L suprised me today with a gin and tonic gift basket she made me just because.  It's so sweet. We met for a masked, no hugs coffee today and it was such a nice visit. It really has recharged my soul to see friends.

The first of the vaccines have arrived.  Our town recieved 1000 of them, for persons aged 65 and older, and all of them were claimed in the first 90 minutes.  When I took the kiddos to my inlaws today we drove past the church where the vaccines were being administered.  The parking lot was packed and there was literally a line of cars down each side of the road waiting to enter. And I burst into tears. My father and both my inlaws will get the vaccine next week. It's been a long year. 
400,000 + Americans have died from this in less than 12 months.


This is baby P and I watching the inauguration. What a sigh of relief. 


I've thrown myself into Postcrossing. Pretty much it's the perfect hobby right now as it can be done in 5 minute bursts. Also it's nice like Christmas to have tiny gifts from around the world show up every couple of days. Yesterday we got a card from Tahiti.  I've discovered the forum part of it with mail games and exchanges. Here are some cards being sent out, playing card trades and a penpal letter to a woman in Romania. 


Here's  a card I made last week for a woman whose user name is something like "beagle mama" . I'm no artist. That's supposed to be a dog. I ran out of space to draw dog legs, hence the water. We had beagles growing up. When we lived at the gun club my dad always had a dog for running rabbits. They were the best dogs. Once we had a litter of pups, I'm sure all of them had hunting homes waiting for them in advance. They were the cutest things, little velvety ears and round milk bellies.  My sister and I used to pile them into a baby buggy and push them around the yard.


Speaking of arts, the kids have had all of the crayons taken off them. Mr. A loves nothing  more than to color on the walls and I'm just done with it. They still have colored pencils, paints and markers. And are churning out such masterpieces as this:


Which is great. But then there are these:


I mean, come on. What the hell am I supposed to do with this?


Both of the older kids fell asleep in cardboard boxes tonight, pretending to be pirates. 

And for anyone still reading, here is a video of geese eating breakfast.  Geese feel very muscular and velvety when you pet them. I love them and I hope they start laying soon.