Friday, December 31, 2010

My Round Robin Quilt

Every year, my sister, two of her college roommates, and I each meet up at a, "Cabin" on a lake and spend a long weekend sewing, eating chocolate, watching chick flicks, and talking. Oh, the talking! It's a great relaxing, fun girls weekend. We decided about 5 years ago to start a round robin quilt. We each made a middle, and then gave our middle to the next person. There were no rules, except to stay with the basic (very basic) color scheme. We spent the next year working on each others quilts and then revealed the final one when we met for the next year. I'm so glad we did it. This is mine. I really like how it turned out. It's about 60" square, and made with pumpkin flannel fabric. My sister machine embroidered Linus digging for The Great Pumpkin on the top half, and The Great Pumpkin on the bottom half. The front:

And I love putting back art on my quilts! This one is no different.

I still need to finish the binding. A great hand project for sitting next to the wood stove!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Burn Pile Potatoes

We burned today. It was the perfect day for burning...... cold, clear, no wind, and it's been raining like crazy. Time to take advantage of this beautiful weather! We grabbed the torch, the pitchforks, and the long garden hose. Just in case it got away from us. Even though we were walking in mud puddles. Kinda like wearing suspenders and a belt at the same time. Anyway, we burned a few piles of branches, leaves, and old yucky wood. We always end up with the most wonderful coals, and it would be so very sad to just leave them without doing anything with them. Aren't they gorgeous? Just perfect.

I know, we could do the whole smore's thing, but it was too cold. We could go the hot dog route, but I don't really like hot dogs, and besides, I didn't have any. Probably because I don't really like them. Go figure, huh?? My all time favorite thing to do with coals after a day of burning is potatoes. But not just any old potato. I add lots of goodies to them. Want to see how I do it?? They're really easy, and a nice variation.

For each potato you'll need: large square of heavy duty foil, a medium to large potato, 2 slices bacon, 2 slices onion, 4-6 cloves garlic, salt and pepper.

Wash and slice potatoes into quarters. You should end up with 4 slices. Place them on the foil.

Cut each slice of bacon into 3-4 pieces. Put them between each piece of potato, and on the outside edges.

Using 2 slices of onion, put about 1/2 of a slice with each bacon piece.

Chop up the garlic, sprinkle it around, and then add salt and pepper.

Now, I always twist the foil around so that the first way I wrap these brings the pieces all together. Just telling you what works for me, not that the foil police will come inspect these. Here's a little peek of my first one. Oh, it's going to be so yummy!

Then it goes outside and into the fire, with seams facing up. I take my shovel and dig/scoop out a little hole in the coals. I might mention, these coals aren't the orange'ish ones. They're more black/gray, but still the intense heat that will warm you up real nice on a chilly day. If you put them into coals that are orange, get ready for some crispy fried potatoes. I've tried it. And take my word for it, they're not good. So, here are your potatoes, all snug in their bed, and then scoop more coals on top. Cover them up good. Don't leave any part of them uncovered.

I always go inside and set the timer for 40 minutes. It's very useful to have a set of b-b-que tongs and a metal pan, or something to put the (really hot) potatoes in. I used a 9x13 pan. When digging up the foil pouches, be very careful. Today I used the back of a metal rake, but a shovel works too. I've used the pitchfork that we use when burning, and that doesn't work. That day I was too lazy to go get the shovel. Anyway, very gently, scoop out the pouches, and then pick them up with the tongs and sort of shake them to get off the coals. You can let them sit for maybe 10-15 minutes if you want, but you don't have to. Here they are, in all their glory! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Puppy Love

This is Dozer. He's just about the happiest dog I know. I take that back. He IS the happiest dog I know. Dozer is in love with life. He loves everything. He loves..... us, his breakfast, his dinner, his bed, car rides, playing fetch.....and his toys. Oh, how he loves his toys. Here's one. It's a seat belt from an old car. It's pretty tough. I gave this to him a few weeks ago, and look at what good shape it's in!

I'm still amazed it hasn't been loved to death. Sort of like his stuffed animals. Dozer's current stuffed animal is a little orange fuzzy bear. Well, it used to be fuzzy. Now it's caked with dried slobber. And it's kind of a brownish/orange color now. With no face. And minus half of a leg. But Dozer still really, really likes it.

Yeah, it's true love. Puppy style.

After all, doesn't love make the world go 'round? Even Puppy Love.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just Normal, Thanksgiving Conversations

Happy Thanksgiving! I thought to be different, I'd give a sort of, "Fly On The Wall" perspective on some of the things said before, during, and after our feast. Do other folks do this kind of thing, or is it just us???

My father-in-law, talking about answering a complaint before he retired, whether or not to spray for mosquitoes. "Well, Ma'am, I won't be spraying. I've checked for mosquitoes, and you don't have any."
"Oh?? Well then would you tell me what these things are that keep biting me?"
"Those are midges, Ma'am, not mosquitoes."
"Aagh! They're flying, and bugging me. That makes them mosquitoes!"
Fast forward an hour, sitting at the dinner table. A little moth was flying just above my mother-in-law's plate. I bring it to her attention.
"Nedra, there's a mosquito flying in your plate!"
My father-in-law looks at it, then tells Nedra, "That's not a mosquito, that's a moth."
"No, it's flying and bugging me, that makes it a mosquito!"

"A short pencil is better than a good memory"
"What does that mean?"
"A good memory still isn't as good as just writing it down right then."
"Not necessarily, I know there are people with photographic memories! And if they memorize it, then they don't have to worry about anything happening to a piece of paper. What if they forget where they put it? Or somebody throws it away. Or the dog eats it. Or their house could burn down!" forward, again!
"Hey Mom, I'm going to let the dogs in"
"That's fine, but you might want to pick up your dessert plate from the rocking chair." (To keep the puppy with a good nose out of trouble.)
"Oh, come on Mom, what's the worst that could happen?"
"The puppy could jump up onto the chair, knock the plate down, breaking it in the process, then he'd step onto the broken glass, cut a main artery in his paws, and bleed to death before we got to the emergency vet. And then, we'd turn around, go home, but before we got there, get into an accident, and die."

Who needs any other entertainment?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Duck Carts.....

I was looking through some of my old pictures lately, and ran across a few that I would share. These were taken a few years ago. My two boys were trying out a duck cart before hunting season opened. These carts are made to carry heavy or bulky things along a trail in the outdoors.

But this particular afternoon, it wasn't hauling anything in the outdoors. It was in our driveway. Empty. And sad. And forlorn. Maybe even lonely!

Ahhh, but not for long! My kids, being the ingenious people that they are, were re-purposing this cart into an afternoon of fun. I love boys! They're so full of life. And imagination! Just think of what they can do with some spare time, a duck cart, and a nice, big, empty driveway!

Boys are made for having fun. Unfortunately, duck carts aren't.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Onions, Owies, and Old Recipes

Tuesday, after work, I planted 3 bags of onion sets. One bag each of white onions, red, and one bag of yellow. We went into the garden, just me, the dog, and three bags of onions. Things were progressing nicely until I got over halfway through the last bag, and then I straightened up, only to have a sharp pain in my lower back. I finished the onions, and went inside, figuring it would go away soon enough. Ha! Not so! Since then, I've been hobbling around, not really able to straighten up, moving like a total freadazoid, and probably making weird noises. But, it's not all bad! There's a silver lining to this little cloud. Today, in an effort to help my back feel better, I've been spending a boatload of time in my recliner, shelling out walnuts. I've cracked out 7 lbs of meat! Wow! Ok, when I put it in writing, 7 lbs. doesn't really sound like alot, but it's taken me a long time, so I'm still going to be excited for myself. Anyway, you want to know something? As I'm cracking these things, I keep thinking about my mom's candied walnuts she used to make. They had this dark almost hard candy coating, and she would cook them on the stove, then pour it all onto a cookie sheet to cool, then break them apart. Funny that I haven't thought of that in years. I wonder if I can find her recipe?

Friday, November 12, 2010

I "Heart" Big Trucks!

I got a phone call Wednesday night from our oldest son, Michael. It was well after dark, and he didn't have school the next day, so I wasn't surprised to find he'd decided to go hunting the next day. Here's the gist of our conversation:

"Hi Mom, guess what? I just killed a deer!"
"When? Where? I didn't know you went hunting today."
"Like, not even 5 minutes ago, right here South of town, and I wasn't hunting. I was driving!"
"I wasn't hunting! I hit it with the truck! "

Oh, let me tell you, anybody with children knows the feeling I had when my son told me that he'd hit a full grown deer, broadside. But the only thing that happened, well, aside from him killing the deer, was a caved in bumper and a busted headlight.

New headlight - $20. Friends helping pull bumper back out - $0. Nothing wrong with my son - priceless.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Geekdom

I know we live outside of a small town, and we have animals, and cut our own firewood, and everything else that goes along with that. But in all reality, my guys are geeks. My family lives for the computer, and the information it gives us. We love fast internet searches for a quirky recipe, or the odd tidbit of information. To say nothing about my hubby actually making a living with his knowledge using a computer. Of course, my youngest son is no different. No, he doesn't make a living using a computer, although at 19, that would be nice! What I'm saying is, David is a total geek. To prove my point? I just got a text from him, (he's at Walmart.) "Holy crap! I just found a 16g flash drive!" Ahhh, I can see it now, the newest, biggest, most beautiful flash drive, as a centerfold in PC magazine!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Checking My Trap, (The Short Story!)

  • I've been trying to catch raccoons for a year.
  • They've eaten three dozen of my chickens.
  • It makes me sad.
  • Very sad.
  • We put up a hot wire, and added smaller wire around the whole chicken yard, but it still wasn't good enough.
  • I bought a trap.
  • The only thing I ever caught was our cats.
  • Our cats aren't smart. I caught each of them many times.
  • This is my tripped trap I found on my way out yesterday morning.
  • I thought it was one of our cats. Again.

And look what I found under the cardboard!

Finally, after a year of trying, off and on, I caught a raccoon!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Guess what? The internet has worked most of the day! Crazyness! I thought I would take this time to wish everyone a safe and Happy Halloween. David and I went to my dad's house to help him give out candy to all the little trick-or-treaters that he had. He lives in town, and always has lots more than us. Tonight he had....... are you ready?? Tonight my dad had....... nine trick-or-treaters. Are you laughing? Yes, I know, but that's nine more than we had tonight. I know this because my hubby stayed home on the off chance that someone would lose their way in the darkness, perhaps following the raccoons, and come upon our house. Not that we've ever given out any Halloween candy before. Ever. In 23 years. Secretly, I think he just wanted to stay home and watch the game. And eat Halloween candy that he bought just in case we had a little goblin knocking on the door.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Soon, But Not Yet!

We live outside of a small town. Just a couple miles. Not far, but far enough. Unfortunately, our internet connection is currently quite fickle, due to us being too far from town, among other things. The whole, "no internet" thing has been getting old, so we had DigitalPath come out to see if we could get a connection from them. A very nice guy climbed our t.v. tower in the hopes we could get decent reception up that high. Just look at him up there. What a guy! Much braver than I am. Nice looking antennae, huh? It also doubles as a roost for the Great Horned Owls that live by us.

Uh, that's way too high for this girl!!

On a side note, I found out that trees weren't the only things my kids climbed around here. Which really surprised me, since neither one was real big on climbing things. Who knows, maybe that's why? Pretty funny now! Anyway, you know what we found out? We can get reception! At least, after we take out a few trees that are in the way.

This one needs to come out, too.

And this one.

And these.
So until we cut down a bunch of trees, we're still dealing with our fickle internet.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'm Going To Be A Grandma!!!

My oldest son, Michael, is going to be getting a puppy next weekend. He's a black lab, and his name is Hank. Here he is, six weeks ago, when he was one week old. I might be biased, but he's pretty darned cute, don't you think?

Here he is with all his brothers and sisters. He's the cute little black one with the big belly, laying down. See him?

Lawn Boy!

I have a lawn boy. He usually mows once every few weeks. Here he is, mowing in front of the newest hill.

He finished the front of the hill, now he's moved on to the backside of the new hill. Oh, he's pretty fast!

Looks like the hill and the rest of the North side is done, and now he's going to the South side of our not-yet-finished cross fence. That's what will keep my goats in the front part of the property. Uh, that is, when I get goats. They're imaginary now.

He's gotten pretty good, so now it doesn't take him that long, usually less than an hour. Unless he spends lots of time under the deck, untangling what he ran over! I guess that's what he gets paid the big bucks for.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Birch Seeds

Here are my birch trees. Beautiful, aren't they?

This is the first thing I see when I look out my kitchen window, or walk out my kitchen door.

Years ago, we started out with three, but now, thanks to Mother Nature, we have five. And we've transplanted another 5. We've also dug up, pulled up, sprayed, burned and stomped on a multitude of others besides these. Don't get me wrong, I love my birch trees. But the reason we have more now, is simply this:

This pile is made up of a quadzillion birch tree seeds. Yes, I counted them. I had nothing else to do, so I counted them, and came up with a quadzillion seeds. I'm quite good at math, so you can trust me on that number. Anyway, it's that time of year when my birch trees start dropping their seeds. The pile of a quadzillion seeds that I swept up today is what has fallen in three days, right outside my kitchen door. That wouldn't be so bad, except we track them into the house. They tend to stick onto the bottom of shoes. So every few days, we track about a trillion of these things into the house.

Even the cat brings them in. I haven't yet figured out how to keep the seeds out. Until I do, I will keep sweeping every few days. Mother Nature is working overtime. Anybody want some birch seeds?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Winner, Winner!

It's time to pick a winner for my Blog's Birthday present. I wrote 3 names on 3 different pieces of paper, and drew one out of a hat. Well, actually, it was a mixing bowl. Annie's Granny! Congrats! With the small number of comments, I'd like to send all my "commenters" another birthday present. Please send me an email ( lkauffma at jps dot net ) with your snail mail address, and I will get them out to you. Thanks for playing!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Harvest Monday, August 23, 2010

It's Harvest Monday again! Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. Thanks, Daphne, for putting this on.

Oh, what a week! The big producer this week has been the apples. I've made applesauce, and then more applesauce. I turned my back for a few minutes, and burned applesauce while it was reheating on the outside stove! That was when I decided to make tomato juice. I also picked enough zucchini to either make some more relish, or try out another few recipes. It will need to wait for a few days until I can do it after work, since school is starting, and duty calls. I still have basil that needs to be picked and made into pesto. It was on my list of things to do Sunday, but the day wasn't long enough! I got my first "real" cantaloupe. It was good with Sunday morning breakfast, and the chickens enjoyed the seeds and the rind. My cucumbers are still producing at a steady rate, and we enjoy them with almost every dinner. My beans, planted way too late, have finally flowered. The aphids discovered them, and I found myself waging war on them one morning with the soapy water in the, "No-Clog Feeder!" I checked on the status this morning, and it has done the trick, so far! Hopefully they'll stay away.

This week's pictures... just one of the many loads of apples I brought in!

Sunday's canning - 7 quarts each of applesauce and tomato juice, cooling outside by the canner.

This week's total: 127.025 lbs.

Tomatoes: 33.4 lbs.
Squash: 8 lbs.
Peppers 1.125 lbs.
Herbs: .125 lbs.
Cucumbers: 6.375 lbs.
Apples: 73.625 lbs.
Melon: 2.375 lbs.
Gourds: 2 lbs.

My Blog's Birthday!

My blog had a birthday! No, I didn't have a party, or bake a cake, and we didn't sing, "Happy Birthday," but I have a present, of sorts. I decided I would give away a really cool book. A book about.......are you ready? A book about ...... gardening! Are you surprised? No? Ok. Anyway, it's a Country Living book called Country Gardens, Old-Fashioned Flowers, Modern Techniques, Timeless Beauty. Here's a picture of the cover:

And here's a sneak peak at the contents!

A garden around a miniature working train. How cool is that??

I'd love a garden shed like this one.

A beautiful country kitchen, covered in roses!

So, here's the scoop. All you have to do is leave a comment. You don't have to be a follower, although I really like followers! You don't have to blog about it, or send any emails, or anything like that. All you have to do is comment. Then, on Tuesday evening, I'll pick the winner. Oh, and just so we're all on the same page (hah!!) this is NOT like winning something on Ebay. The winner is..... well..... winning it! Have fun, and Happy Birthday to my blog!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Death and Destruction

I'm feeling very brutal right now, sitting here in front of the computer, eating my bowl of Life cereal for lunch. This morning, I spent about 3-4 hours in the garden. I pulled weeds. Ripped them right up by their roots. Poor things. They were just trying to survive. Hopefully, I put an end to that. Then I sprayed the beans with soapy water. I noticed last night that they have aphids. And, they were being helped along by the ants. Hah! Hopefully, I put an end to most of them. Then I checked on my squash blossoms. ACK! Cucumber beetles! Right inside my squash blossoms, looking very innocent-like. I squished them. That for sure put an end to them! Then I went looking for more. Death and destruction, garden style. Gotta love it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No Zucchini Brownies!

Anybody that knows my cooking style, knows that I very seldom follow a recipe precisely as written. Given that fact, along with:

1. I want to give goodies away tomorrow
2. I wanted them to somehow come from my garden
3. My zucchini isn't producing worth squat
4. My apples are ripe, if I pick selectively
5. I wanted something fairly easy

I came up with ....Ta Da...... Brownies! Made from a Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe. With no zucchini. And, it's not a cake. But, just the same, they turned out really good. And, they have chocolate! So, it's pretty hard to mess them up. Here they are. Beautiful, aren't they? The only thng that could make them better would be some vanilla ice cream. I'll get right on that.

Grandma K's Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
6 Tbsp butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup milk

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. With mixer, mix butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in with spoon, vanilla and zucchini alternately with dry ingredients and milk. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until done. Can use a bundt pan, but also 2 8" bread pans. Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze.

My changes for today:

*substituted peeled, grated apples for zucchini
*left out the milk. I didn't have any, and the apples were juicy, and I was hoping nobody would notice
*baked it in a half sheet pan (my main cookie sheet) for 28-30 minutes
*substituted the following fudge frosting for the powdered sugar glaze

Melt 1 cube butter, 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup cocoa and boil - add 1 lb powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. *This will look pretty bad before all the powdered sugar is mixed in, but it will turn out fine. Mix and spread over hot cake.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Harvest Monday, August 16 2010

It's Harvest Monday! Hop on over to Daphne's place and see what everybody has harvested for the past week.

My tomatoes slowed down a little this week, although I still gave lots away. I didn’t can any tomatoes this week, although I tried the Zucchini Relish that The Frugal Gardener makes. What a great use for those zucchini that I somehow miss on the vines! I ended up with 6 pints of relish, plus a little smidgeon I put in a small container in the frig. I tried it with a pepper jack cheese sandwich, and it was very good. I’m sure the next time I make this recipe, it won’t take me near as long as this first one did!

I’m enjoying the first of my cucumbers this week. It’s so nice to walk outside and grab a few to go with the tomatoes I slice for dinner. I even took some in a salad I made for a potluck on Friday. This week was also the very beginning of our apples. I can see the applesauce coming already! And I’m running out of pint jars! Geoff bought more while he was in town, so I wouldn’t have to make a special trip when I start making the stuff. Michael (our oldest) really likes applesauce, so I think I’ll can a bunch in quarts to send home with him. The quarts are much faster, and I have tons of them in the garage just waiting to be filled. I selectively picked a basketful of Fuji’s to make a cranberry apple pie, and have a few on the counter for some tart eating. Of course, we have to be a little careful, checking for a few bugs, but it’s not really a big problem.

The total for this week is: 44.125 pounds

Tomatoes; 22.625 lbs

Squash; 5.5 lbs

Peppers; .5 lbs

Herbs; .625 lbs

Chard; 4.375 lbs

Cucumbers; 4.5 lbs

Apples! 6.75 lbs

Monday, August 9, 2010

Harvest Monday, August 9

Well, I'm here at my dad's, using his computer and internet connection. (Thanks, Dad!) Ours is down. Won't upload pics, and I can't access my email. Ugh! We have an appointment to get it fixed the end of next week. Wahoo! But, you didn't really want to know all that, right? Right. So, on with the harvest for the past week. Want to see more harvests? Check out Daphne's Harvest Monday. Thanks, Daphne, for hosting this. I really enjoy looking at what other folks are up to.

I got my first cucumber! Only one, but more are coming. It was really good with cut up tomatoes with dinner that night. I didn't even think to get a picture of it before I hauled it inside for dinner. Aside from my first cucumber of the year, this week was all about the tomatoes. Boy, did we have tomatoes. Good thing I'm off work for a few more weeks, because I was able to can a boatload of tomato things. I canned 6 quarts of tomato juice yesterday. Here's the before:

And here's the after! I just love looking at my filled jars!

10 quarts of chunky pasta sauce (new recipe.) This brings my total pasta sauce up to 19 quarts. That ought to be enough for the year!

And enchilada sauce! Ok, it started out as salsa, but then I was multi-tasking, and trying out two new recipes, and not really following either one, and talking on the phone, and it didn't really want to be salsa anyway, but enchilada sauce instead. So I canned the second batch in quarts instead of pints. Here it is in my pantry, just waiting for the middle of winter for me to come home from work and have some for dinner. I can just hear them saying, "Pick me! Pick me!" Aren't they pretty? I think I might look for some new, more modern shelf paper for my pantry, though! What do you think?

Oh, and the sunflowers are all starting to flower! I was able to pick 2 bouquets to bring inside this week. I have a volunteer in with the tomatoes in one of my beds, and I picked a few from that plant, along with some in a new area not planted before.

I'm happy to report that my chard is coming back from the dead. I messed up on the watering, and I thought it was being watered automatically, only to find that it was, in fact, trying it's darnedest to live on nothing! I revamped my drip system in that bed (long story, even longer bed!) and my chard can now live happily ever after. The End!

Total this week: 67.25 lbs
tomatoes 54 lbs
squash 9.25 lbs
chard 3.25 lbs
cucumber .75 lbs