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The Fourth of July

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. It’s a big deal in the USA … and has always been so for me. My birthday is exactly two weeks after the holiday, so it “feels like the beginning of my special time” … has always.

In my family I have/had a sister and my father with birthdays in-between the Fourth and my birthday too. It’s a Birthday month to me and I also married someone born in-between the afore-mentioned birthdays. 9, 10, 11 …

I’ve also always loved Fourth of July fireworks, and fireworks any old time of the year. In the past mph years I have gotten my hubby to get us involved in shooting them off ourselves, instead of searching for “the best place to see them on the Fourth” and all that entails … It’s a fun day, even moreso a fun FUN FUUUUNNNNNNN night. πŸ™‚

In June 2011 new system installed in house. 3 Zones, digitally controlled. We suffered all year, it didn’t work well, it was too humid, uncomfortable and had frozen outside pipes often. Tweaked to death, over winter nothing happened. Spring, needed A/C and voila, same problems. Guy came out and FINALLY after hours of tinkering around decided to super pressure check and found a leak, outside the pipe going from house to condenser had a small leak in the solder … ACK!!! All that misery for one tiny hole which THEY did, and it had nothing to do with the actual equipment or our treatment of it, DAY 1 it showed signs of a leak but it COULDN’T be that, they intimated, never checking their connections, even when we complained of horrible freezing issues, lack of cooling to correct levels, too much humidity … on and on … just a freakin little solder fixed it. Urg … forever.

On Taco’s and Farmers Breakfast

We are having Taco’s for dinner tonight. I’m not making them, the children are. I have recipes on this site, things I make up, and they use either that, or a printout of it to make dinner.

This is the recipe link … http://pastoralfarms.us/2009/09/18/taco-ground-meat-filling/

We still make it the same way, only I have a preference for pure ANCHO chili powder instead of “any old mix of chili and spices that is sold as ‘chili powder’ ” Ancho is a type of chili, not a brand.

I also put a healthy dose of Tabasco sauce in for a bit more zip. As time goes on we’ve grown to LOVE Tabasco sauce in Taco’s as well as in a breakfast that I call “farmers breakfast” which I am not sure if I’ve written it down in a post here or not. — I’ll have to write it down, it’s not something I’ve posted the recipe for (though I know my son did on his blog πŸ˜‰ )

It’s something that my eldest son and I enjoy having every so often, not every day, nor every other day. Basically something that many would have a problem with: potatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, butter, sea salt, tabasco sauce, eggs, cream, tabasco sauce, tabasco sauce, and cheddar cheese. So it’s something we really like, and others would think “How strange for breakfast, garlic?!!” Yeah! πŸ™‚

I’ll post a link here when I write a new post for it.

Spring Report

It’s April now. Spring is moving on. The Apple trees have already finished blooming mostly. They are our last spring blooming trees every year. Both the Yoshino’s and the Apple trees were very early this year. Usually the Apple trees don’t START to bloom until sometime in April.

The Yoshino’s usually last until nearly April, so they were very, very early since that was so long ago now that they had blooms. πŸ™

My Peonies are setting buds and getting bigger (peonies regrow the bush every spring, btw)

First Peony Bud

My Knockout Roses are really getting full, setting a ton of buds, with many opening and already open and already spent already.

Here’s one photo I have on Flickr of one particular … with many more photos there … go ahead and click through them all by clicking on the photo which will take you to Flickr, find the Set and comment on any you wish to there.

Shy Beauty

Eastern Redbud in Full Bloom


Eastern Redbud in Full Bloom, a photo by CrazyMaisy.

This is a partial view of our Eastern Redbud tree in the backyard. It’s in full bloom, has been for a few days now. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The trunk is visible, somewhat. It’s twisted around like that due to a dog we had chewing the sapling to a nub, then I let it regrow and it grew two distinct trunks, I trained them to curve around each other. I really like the look, and it’s only like that due to a dog.

I guess others would have given up on it, but I don’t cull unless there’s a really good reason to. This being the only Redbud tree we have, it was worth it in the end.

My Yoshino’s Full Bloom!

My Yoshino's Full Bloom!

Originally uploaded by CrazyMaisy.

The tree on the left is past peak already, and the ones to the right are right at peak bloom now (started yesterday afternoon).

Usually these trees are in sync with their blooming periods but the one to the left was way ahead of the other two this Southern Spring March 2012 with first blooms opening March 10th.

Roast Chicken & Stuffing

I’m roasting two organic chickens right now, stuffed with white spelt bread stuffing.

The stuffing is my own recipe.

I made a loaf of bread in my Cuisinart bread machine on Friday for this purpose. 3+ cups of White Spelt Flour, 1 1/2 tsp. yeast, 1 cup water, 1 Tbsp. Honey, 1 egg, 1 tsp. salt, 3 Tbsp. butter. I added more flour as needed for the dough. I used the 1. White Bread setting, med. loaf size and med. browning.

The loaf was perfect, so much so I wished I had made it for sandwiches, but so it goes.

I’ll try to make it again and get the same result for other uses later.

I cubed the bread using a bread knife after the loaf cooled down, then put the cubes into a gallon freezer bag. I put that into a deep drawer until I needed it for the stuffing.

Today I diced 1 sweet onion, melted 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter in a large saucepan, added the onion and let that simmer until softened. I also put in some celery seed (I guess about 2 tsp.) and a lot of dried rubbed Sage (1/4 cup or more!) then the bread cubes and a pint of Chicken Stock. Stirred it around well.

A little more than half of that fit into the chickens. The rest will be baked in a casserole dish later.

I didn’t add any salt to the stuffing since the bread was nice bread and I used commercial Organic Chicken Stock. To the out of the bird stuffing I did just add a little bit of sea salt, and a large handful of raisins and half an apple chopped. That’ll bake until it’s done.

I’ll make chicken gravy using more Organic Chicken Stock, butter & flour, and sea salt to taste. Basmati Rice, and either peas or green beans.

We’ll also have white spelt yeast rolls, thanks to my daughter taking over that duty. She does an excellent job making clover leaf rolls, as I used to do when I was a teenager too. πŸ™‚

Happy St. Patty’s Day!



Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Originally uploaded by CrazyMaisy.


Happy St. Patty’s Day!

1st Yoshino Blossoms – March 10, 2012

The Yoshino Cherry Trees have opened their first blossoms of 2012 today! They are early, as they were last year.

Yoshino Blossoms Opening! a photo by Maisy.

 

Cinnamon Muffin Cake – Recipe

On January 9 I posted about Muffin Cake. Today I am recreating that process of making muffins (ha ha!) on purpose.

2/3 c. butter, melted
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. milk

3 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon

Sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.

Put the sugar and eggs into a mixer bowl, then slowly increase speed and mix until smooth. Melt the butter and on slow speed drizzle the butter into the egg/sugar mixture. Mix well on a faster speed. Add the milk a little at a time, mixing well.

On a low speed add the dry sifted ingredients and mix gently until all the dry in incorporated into the milk/sugar/egg/butter mixture.

Butter a 13×9 pan, pour the batter evenly into the pan, pushing into all the corners using a silicone spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 35 to 40 minutes or until done (cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean)

Spring is really blooming

Spring is here. Our big white blooming tree (crab apple or cherry something or other) is past peak bloom already. It still is very beautiful, just not “as much” as earlier in the week. The blossoms are dropping slowly, and the leaves are getting greener and larger day by day.

I posted pictures of my Whiskey Barrel plants earlier today (all separate postings, unfortunately, not something I’ll be editing into one post anytime soon, or ever.) My Chives are making me want to make french bread and spaghetti on purpose (Chive Butter!) and the unnamed Thyme is good and fragrant already, I put some into the stew I’m making for dinner today. The Greek Oregano is simply fragrant and bushy, threatening to take over the barrel, already claiming about half the space or making moves for it, I’m going to pare it back some soon. It stayed active all winter, but has a new spring springiness, freshened and Super Hyper active. The Chives were also active over winter, but Super Hyper active now too.

The Eastern Redbud tree has been ready to bloom anytime and has opened several blossoms today. It’ll be a glorious purple blaze soon. The maple trees all have done their red blossom thing already. The Yoshino Cherry trees are ready-ing their blossoms, not yet there.

Let’s see then, there are a few other trees, starting their looking alive thing. The Weeping Willow (tree) and the Pussy Willow (bush) both appear to be dead. That’s not good. Actually I am not shocked about the bush, it was nasty, we moved it, it seemed to regroup, now looks petered ugly old knarly totally dead. No pussie willows this spring. Or next, unless …

So the Weeping Willow is another matter. It is usually greening up by now. It LOOKS dead and symptoms are every branch or strand I can touch is brittle, dry, snaps and is totally dead. Bark is pulled away from the trunk in many areas and every thing looks dead. There was a dead branch on it last year, it wasn’t dead early on, but at some point, and whatever it is, it’s the whole tree.

So, is it something Willow oriented? I don’t know, I’ve not gotten myself to do any research. I’m overwhelmed with the thought of taking the tree down. So it goes.

Anyhow, weeds are in their glorious phase. I have learned to forget about new gardening until later. Let the horrid weeds do their thing, pull out of this or that area for perennials and in the barrel, but don’t worry much about planting anything into a “garden” until later, weeds and disease, it’s too fresh and lovely for those things, but they rear their heads and what I do about things is so “natural” I just have more success starting later, if at all. I would like tomatoes and red peppers this year. Tomatoes I know I can do, red peppers I want to do, but never have successfully gotten even one pepper to eat from them.

Onion Chives – March 2012



Onion Chives – March 2012

Originally uploaded by CrazyMaisy.


Onion Chives – March 2012

Same chives as planted about 2004, perennial good friends.

Thyme – March 2012



Thyme – March 2012

Originally uploaded by CrazyMaisy.


Thyme – March 2012

Greek Oregano – March 2012



Greek Oregano – March 2012

Originally uploaded by CrazyMaisy.


Greek Oregano – March 2012

Whiskey Barrel – March 2012



Whiskey Barrel – March 2012

Originally uploaded by CrazyMaisy.


Whiskey Barrel – March 2012

Spring Already

Well, January is well into way, closer to the end than the beginning, but it’s not even Winter here anymore. It should be, though it’s not. It’s been very rainy, though it was forecasted that would be the case, a more mild winter, but overall, it’s too much like that.

We’ve had two thunderstorms this year, major thunderstorms, many rain storms besides those too. Today it was really rainy, quite rainy, hard, hard, hard, lots of thunder & lightening. Booming, wonderful thunder.

Today I remembered seeing daffodils springing up somewhere we’d been a few days ago, and so that sparked me to go out when the rain let up a bit and look at where mine are. Surprise, surprise, mine are coming up too. I was thinking that maybe the ones we’d seen had been planted by a landscaper (you know, commercial area, throw away plants or perennials? Hard to say unless you stake them out forever.) So anyhow, there are mine, some here, a few inches high, some there just peaking out, some other there, a bit more than peaking … tomorrow there may be more.

That’s early. That’s OK, but it’s not exactly something that has me at ease, I’ve seen what a late frost can do (April 2007) and this is way earlier than then, how it was in early spring (the still official winter by just a month! spring this year to compare to the early spring that year being into February …) usually spring happens in March, maybe signs in late, late February, but that’s what’s normal, March gives way to much blossoming and April even more and green leaves galore.

So we had it all happen a few weeks early last year. Now this year, even earlier. Just cyclical weirdness.

The U. S. A. has that all the time, has always, since before records were kept. Don’t quote me, it’s just my understanding of it, from billions of areas of life, not just one source, not source-able past that.

Muffin Cake

I was making muffins for breakfast yesterday morning and then something happened which made me hand the process off to my daughter. I was going to write the recipe down on an index card, but I got distracted by the other thing, and then my husband and I had to go to homedepot for the thing, so I wasn’t there when she put the recipe together. I’d gone over what I had done and what needed done (with her) but she goofed up and when I was there, I saw and flipped out (as I do when she’s got a great handle on what’s going on in the kitchen and goofs up anyhow.)

Finally I was able to tell her what to do to make it work (hopefully.) It did work, but it was almost a huge problem.

I had taken a recipe, and doubled it. I have showed my daughter how to double something, she has known for some years now, practiced it fine oft times. This time though, she took the ingredients and did everything right, except for the milk. She doubled the DOUBLED amount. Original amount was 1/2 cup. I don’t mess up that way (yes, other ways, not that way though!) and it’s part of what I need to do with all the children, go over measurements and fractions again, every so often.

So what did she end up doing? I had her put it into a 13×9 pan and bake it as a cake. It turned out well enough. We could do it on purpose, or not. Well, it’s something else she goofed up, I like to put cinnamon in the batter, and she added all that milk before the cinnamon, so she didn’t get the cinnamon into it, just sprinkled it on top, which isn’t the same effect when it’s baked as having it inside is. Even with it that way, it was good.

This isn’t a recipe. If I want to experiment I just might do so with this process and come up with a good recipe to post. Later of course.

Chocolate Syrup

Makes 1 Qt. chocolate syrup (4-cups)

1 1/2 cups Cocoa
2 3/4 cups Rapadura (experiment with more or less, or substitute another sweetener)
1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
2 cups Spring Water (or filtered)
4 tsp. Vanilla (REAL vanilla, not imitation)

Combine everything except for the Spring Water and Vanilla into a medium saucepan. Gradually add the Spring Water to the dry mixture in the pan, stirring well, until smooth.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and once at the boiling stage allow the mixture to cook for at least 3 minutes (all the while stirring!) You can cook it longer if you prefer the syrup thicker. [I have used double the water once, and let it simmer for a long time to thicken, getting rid of the extra water, and it turned out really nice, without stirring it the whole time, though I’d not recommend doing this!]

Remove the sauce pan from the heat and stir in the Vanilla. Pour into a clean container that has a sealing lid. Like a wide-mouth Quart Jar (canning supplies) and allow to cool, uncovered. Once cool, cover well and refrigerate.

Use to make chocolate milk of whatever dark or light version is your preference. Also good as an ice cream topping. Yummy over homemade vanilla ice cream!

Thanksgiving & Next Day Birthday Over

Thanksgiving Day went well. It was chilly but sunny in the morning, warmed up but not too much during the day, staying Sunny all day.

We had dinner later than I had wanted to. My hubby got me playing Warhawk in the morning and I quit when I realized it was 12:08pm and got going on getting things done.

Even with the turkey done ahead, and the stuffing … I had to make cheese sauce, white sauce, gravy (meant to do it ahead, but didn’t get to it) and cauliflower, green bean casserole, cook sweet potatoes, peel and cut into pieces and make a brown sugar syrup to candy them with. Also had potatoes to cook and mash. Then get out the turkey and stuffing and re-heat.

It was a big feast. We had cloverleaf rolls, my almost 13-year-old daughter got that done with my supervision. Getting all that done and ready to be served at the same time isn’t HARD just complex and tedious to a degree of, it takes kitchen talent to pull it off.

So I was pooped after all that. I made whipped cream to go with the pumpkin pie later that evening.

The next morning I had to get up and get things going for the birthday that day. I make banners for each child, put on the fireplace … they expect it now, and it has to be good πŸ˜‰ I had one nearly ready, but I hadn’t connected all the pieces to hang yet. So I finally decided what to do, and struggled with it as the eyelets I was using just weren’t playing nice with me. Augh! I got it done, it wasn’t fully the best it could have been, but that’s more my own criticism of my own project more than anything.

I made a yellow layer cake with very chocolate buttercream frosting, with chocolate curls (from a container of drinking chocolate curls I have) all over the top and at the base of the cake all around. On the sides I put Pearls in an offset pattern. It was nice, not perfect, I wasn’t going for perfection, but it sure did look nice. I took time to put the pearls on, it was tedious feeling, but really didn’t take much time considering everything. It’d be worth it to put more oomph into it another time.

My daughter loved her presents and the cake was really good and the homemade ice cream (which I made the day before Thanksgiving Day.) It was a good day. We had turkey quesadillas for supper, and played Monopoly after that, with cake after that.

It was all fun, but I’m glad it’s all over for this year. It’s less than a month to Christmas Day, and I have MORE to do! At least it’s awhile until some of it, and some of it longer, but lots of it more necessary for sooner than later, just not all of it. Phew!

Thanksgiving Day 2011 Menu

Today we are having:

Turkey: Roasted on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 – Free Range Organic Fresh turkey from Whole Foods Market. Sliced, chunks, etc. Vacuum sealed that night, refrigerated. Will put the turkey into French White casserole dishes along with some gravy, and re-heat in the oven.

Gravy: I saved the juices from the turkey I roasted on Tuesday. Today I am making gravy, right now a light version to use for the turkey re-heating. In a little bit I’ll make a “darker” version, more turkey juices and also make the roux browner. This will then stay warm/hot until dinner.

Mashed Potatoes: Peel, quarter and boil later. Drain, fork mash a bit, then put into KA Mixer bowl with paddle and beat with butter and sour cream and salt. Change to Wire Whip and turn to highest speed for 3 minutes. Put into a casserole dish and dot with butter and sprinkle with paprika, put into warm oven until dinner (one of the last things to make.)

Stuffing: Already made, inside the Roasted turkey on Tuesday. This is in a French White casserole and will be re-heated when the turkey is in the oven today for dinner.

Cauliflower: an organic whole head of cauliflower, will steam in an inch of water just a bit before dinner. To go over it will be a cheddar cheese sauce, which I’ll make soon, and warm it up for pouring over the cauliflower before served.

Green Beans: GB Casserole made soon, from scratch (except for the onion thingies) put into lower oven to slow bake/keep warm.

Sweet Potatoes: Parboil/steaming them first (right now) and will peel and candy, maybe in the oven, or on the stove, not sure.

Rolls of some sort, homemade, need to get some stuff into the bread machine to make the dough (easiest way to make something when lots to do)

I guess that’s all. I mean, to cook.

Thanksgiving Day Dinner 2011

Menu

Roasted Free Range Organic Turkey in Turkey Gravy

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Free Range Organic Turkey Gravy

White Spelt Onion, Sage, Raisin in the Bird Stuffing

Glorified Cauliflower

Homemade Green Bean Casserole

Homemade from Fresh Candied Sweet Potatoes

Organic Cold Cranberry Jelly Slices

Homemade Spelt Yeast Butter Rolls

 

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