Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All...

Just wanted to stop by to send all my wonderful readers a warm greeting this Christmas Day! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe

We finally received a goodly amount of snow the other day, so my oldest son came over with his two children and we spent the morning sledding! It was cold and windy, and when my daughter came out too, I took my granddaughter in, as she'd had quite enough of being sprayed in the face with snow! I gave Kara her lunch, put the kettle on for tea and hot cocoa, and made grilled cheese and soup for when everyone came inside. It was great fun!

I have been busy tackling some of those projects I've been hoping to get to. I've gotten a few pieces of furniture refinished, and actually into the house! I have been slowly re-doing rooms of my home... mom and I started last year by refinishing the marred pine floors both up and downstairs. I've been peeling off wallpaper and painting walls. My mom has been busy sewing homespun curtains for each room, and we are waiting til after Christmas to begin recovering three wing chairs, a couch and possibly a loveseat for the livingroom. We've no experience in this, so it's a good thing I'm not a perfectionist and that I strive for an old colonial look; lived in and well-loved!

I am a soup-maker at heart this time of year, and I love to make a pot each week to have on hand for lunch or supper til it's time to make a new batch! I often make a gallon of soup, and freeze some in large muffin tins. When frozen, I pop the soup out of the tins and store them in labeled zip-lock freezer bags. When anyone wants soup, they can grab a block or two of their choice and heat it up for lunch.
Last week I made Cream of Mushroom soup, so I'll share this recipe with you. I made it with Wild Rice this time, but that's optional. Sometimes I want it in the soup; sometimes I don't! Before I go, I want to send out greetings of the holidays and wishes for a blessed and peaceful New Year to all! ~til next time, Laura of Wildenblue Farm

Cream of Mushroom Soup
Saute til tender, approximately 4-6 minutes

4 tablespoons Olive Oil
6 cups chopped Mushrooms (I use a mix of White, Crimini and Shiitake)
1 large chopped Onion and
3 or 4 cloves pressed Garlic

Add about 4 tablespoons Flour, stir together for about 5 minutes

Add 2 cups of Vegetable Stock and
a pint of Half-and-Half
Cook til thick and season with salt and pepper.

If desired, add a cup or two of cooked Wild Rice

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Waiting for snow...

Sounds of Winter
by Lucille Crumley

I can remember when I was a child
The winters were stormy, the winters were wild.
Snow fell early and soft on the ground;
The glistening of ice-coated trees all around;
Crisp crunching of snow crusts under my feet;
The beat on my window of cold driving sleet.

The thump of an axe by the shrinking woodpile...
The shoveling of snow off the walk to the stile;
Singing skate blades flashing by on the lake...
The lowing of cattle in the windbreak;
Church bells calling at twilight's last glow
From over the hills all blue-white with snow
The soft hiss of sled runners cutting deep traces;
Shrill shouts of children on sledding's best places;
The wind song's moan in the tall pine trees...
dripping of water as icicles freeze.
A blue jay's harsh call when he's hungry at dawn...
It seems since I'm older these sounds have all gone.

Now I sit by the fire as it crackles and snaps
And close my eyes tightly, just thinking perhaps.
I can hear all the sounds and all the sights see
Of the winters that came to the once little me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Who's this little monkey??

I just had to stop in and say Happy 1st Birthday to my grandson Tristan Jacob!
xo~ Love and kisses from Gramma Laura ~xo

Friday, November 19, 2010

Catching Up...

Hello dear friends, It has been a crazy few weeks around here, but what else is new? Before I get started, I want to wish my granddaughter Kara a Happy First Birthday! She turned one yesterday! I also want to wish my daughter-in-law Ashley a Happy Birthday today! Love you both!!

I love this photograph I snapped of Kara in September. She is a little angel to be sure!

About two weeks ago, my three sons were getting ready to head to work when my son Jake saw something on the garage door. The boys realized it was one of our cats, Chloe. She had somehow gotten her back leg caught in the track of the door and the casing, and must have spent several hours trapped upside down, four feet off the ground dangling by her one leg. It was dreadful. They had to remove the track to get her out, and I brought her right to the vet. We were amazed that nothing was broken or crushed, yet she suffered nerve damage to her back legs. They kept her for a few days and then I brought her home for the weekend. My daughter brought her back Monday as we had some concerns, but she came back home within the hour. She is comfortable, the swelling has gone down tremendously, and she is gaining some limited use in the leg that was not caught. I will bring her back to the vet this coming week, and see what they suggest, although I'm afraid it's either leg amputation or putting her down, which I refuse to consider at this point.

Here is Chloe with her sister Zoey. They look cozy enough, but in truth they are arch- enemies. (Long story!) However, when I put the camera down, they did not get into a tussle!
Some of you may remember two years ago, somebody dropped all four cats (two pure black ones along with these two) on the side of our road in the middle of the night... so young they were barely able to eat hard food.

Here is Miss Chloe. She is making every attempt to get herself around the house, and one back leg appears to have more use than even a week ago.

Mom and I got the vegetable garden pretty well cleaned out, and we made some repairs to the fencing around the fields. There is still other work to be done in the fruit garden, but it could last til spring cleanup! And I have to clean out the barn, but that's not too pressing. I still have to build a new barn door and repair a window in the back of the barn before the cold and snow really settle in.

I want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with blessings of family and friends! Til next time... Laura of Wildenblue Farm

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Gingerbread Recipe

The air is brisk this morning and hung with expectations of colder days to come. Most of the leaves have fallen from the branches, leaving a patchwork of crazy-quilted colors underfoot in autumn's palette of ochre, russet. crimson, and gold. Bittersweet berries and fox grapes dangle from their windswept tendrils, and a myriad of frost pictures etch windows and leaves. The sharp scent of woodsmoke fills the air, along with the dusky smell of fallen foilage. The air rings with mixed echoes of ax, chainsaw, geese and gunshot. It is time to refrain from walks deep in the woods.

Something stirs my soul this time of year, as if long-departed ancestors call me homeward. My heart longs for something forgotten... something packed away amid layers of time that I know is there somewhere but I cannot quite lay my fingers upon it. It is a call to remember those things from long ago... to recollect and reflect upon the wisdom and ways of times past. I long to settle in and reread some of my favorite books by authors such as Eric Sloane, Tasha Tudor, James Whitcomb Riley and Laura Lee Hope! Though I long to be outdoors still, the kitchen and fireside beckon me with warmth, baking, and books to be read.

I have been yearning to take up rug hooking and I'd like to cross stitch a few samplers to hang upon my walls. I would also like to create a few small floorcloths, as I have been slowly refinishing various rooms of my home. I have a pile of projects that need tackling, and furniture that needs refinishing... things I have put off during the summer due to more pressing chores at hand.

The constant work of the gardens ended overnight with a harsh killing frost, and though there is a sad finale about that fact, there is also a sense of relief in knowing there is only one more chore that beckons from them this year, and that is a final clean-up of the blackened and dried vines and stems which provided so many jars and boxes of produce this growing season. I need only go down in the cellar pantry to see the garden's jeweled remains... jars of jellies, jams, pickles, sauces, and dried fruits and vegetables, lined up and waiting for winter's use.

I've included a recipe given to me close to 30 years ago from my friend Rachel. Her note states that this gingerbread is "nice and moist, with good flavor". I couldn't agree more, and my children loved this when they were little, served warm fresh from the oven with lots of whipped cream! It makes a good-sized pan, but it freezes well, too! An added bonus is that each serving contains a good portion of Vitamin A and Iron.
**Oh good grief, I just realized i published this same recipe last year! Sorry for the repeat!

Pumpkin Gingerbread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13" X 9" pan. Combine the following dry ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.

2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Cloves
3 1/2 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar

Add the following wet ingredients, and beat together well til all is combined.
1 cup soft Butter
1/2 cup Molasses
1/3 cup Water
4 Eggs
2 cups of pureed Pumpkin

Pour into prepared pan, and bake for about an hour. remove from oven, cool slightly, and serve warm with (homemade) whipped cream!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Autumn blessings

Late Autumn
by Edna Jaques

The old house stands, wrapped in the kindly dark.
The barns are dim against the morning haze.
A little spring-fed brook goes gaily by,
And o'er it all the peace of autumn lays
A lovely cloak as if she feared the chill
That creeps at nightfall o'er the pasture hill.

The air at dawning has a frosty tinge,
But noonday finds the world serene and blue
as if the lovely summer lingered on,
Loath to be gone from the dear fields she knew...
The cottage on the hill, the maple's glow,
The sunny hollow where wild asters grow.

The little animals of field and wood
Have gathered all their precious winter stores
And hidden them away for future use.
Across the scene the autumn sunlight pours
A golden flood of beauty bright and gay,
Ere winter comes to chase their joy away.

And over all the autumn world there lies
The blue reflected glory of the skies.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pickle Recipes to Share

I'm still working on putting food by, as the gardens are still churning out produce... cucumbers are coming on the srongest as of late, so I’ve been making dill pickles. I have never made Refrigerator Pickles, so I decided to give them a try. I pulled this recipe off from, and proceeded to add more garlic and dill, as well as some jalapeno slices. They sat in the refrigerator for a week, and then we broke into them. Everyone likes the crispness and flavor of them, so I’ve made another two batches.

Refrigerator Dill Pickle Chips

2 pounds small Cucumbers, sliced into rounds
3 Tablespoons Coarse Salt

Place the sliced cukes into a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. mix carefully and place in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Then rinse well and let drip dry. Meanwhile, bring to a boil

3 cups Water
2 cups Distilled Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dill Seed

4 cloves Garlic, slivered

Once this mixture has come to a full boil, reduce heat and let simmer about for 4 minutes. Then remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
In a half-gallon canning jar or suitable bowl, add the

cucumber slices and
2 bunches chopped Dill Weed and
a few Jalapeno slices, if desired

Pour the prepared, cooled brine over the cucumber mixture, cover and place in the refrigerator for one week, at which point you can feast on them! They will keep in the fridge for three additional weeks, if they last that long!

Because I have so many cucumbers, I’ve also made a batch of my old stand-by Hot Dill pickles. They take a bit more time to get to the end result, but they are not difficult to can.

Laura’s Hot Dill Pickles

Fill your canner with enough water to process your quart-size jars, and get it going to a full-rolling boil. Then begin your pickling.
In a large pot, prepare the following brine...

1 quart Vinegar to 3 quarts Water and ½ cup Canning Salt

Bring the brine to a good hot rolling boil, keeping the mixture covered. Continue this hard boil throughout the whole process, even as you ladle into jars.
Pack each of 8 quart canning jars with each of the following...

2 Tablespoons fresh Dill
3-4 cloves peeled, slivered Garlic
¼ teaspoon Mustard Seed
pinch of Alum (the approximate size of two peas)
2 or 3 ¼” rings of hot pepper slices
And enough sliced Cucumbers to pack jar full, leaving at least a good ½” headspace.
Ladle in your brine, wipe off jar mouth and seal with tops and rings. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Let cure for at least a month or two before you open the jars.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My garden is drying up! (It's not what you think!)

How sweet I roamed from field to field,
and tasted all the summer's pride. ~William Blake

The days are getting cooler and shorter, yet there is still much work to be done in either of the gardens. (I pay little attention to any of the flower beds this time of year... their seasons for chores are early spring and late fall)

My dear dehydrator has been going almost non-stop this week as I dry zucchini, kale, basil, sage, tomatoes, green beans and carrots. I've had my old Excaliber dehydrator for over twenty years, yet I'd almost forgotten about it for many summer seasons until last year when I sought it out to dry mint for tea, and a surplus of zucchini. I do not can as much as I used to... with my four children grown now and not having to fix endless breakfasts, lunches and suppers for all of us every day, I much prefer to dehydrate garden produce than to freeze or can it. It just saves so much space, and time! (And, when the power goes out, I don't have to worry about losing all that food and hard work that's thawing down in the freezer!)

I was determined to get half of the carrots pulled up and dried this week, as some of them were as fat as parsnips! I have an old mandoline vegetable slicer that helps immensely with preperation time and I zip the carrots through it to get fairly uniform slices in short order... I'd be lost without that slicer! (I don't bother peeling the freshly pulled carrots, as a good scrub in the sink takes care of the dirt.) I then spread the pieces out on the dehydrator trays and let the carrots dry for 5 to 7 hours depending on the humidity outdoors. When completely dried, I remove the carrots from the dehydrator and store them in half-gallon GLASS canning jars. (Plastic is a no-no... it lets in moisture and retains odors) As you can see, a sinkful of carrots fits into a single half-gallon mason jar.

Come cold weather, it's a simple thing to open a jar and throw a few handfuls of dehydrated veggies into a pot of simmering soup! Corn, diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, zucchini, peas, pole beans, mushrooms, and of course carrots are some of my favorites to dry and use in this manner. I keep each type of vegetable in seperate jars, but if you only want to dry a small amount of different vegetables, you can certainly store a blend of several kinds in one jar! My neighbors Gary and Alice have encouraged me to dry some of my garlic this year to grind into garlic powder as they have done! You could just as easily run dried tomatoes, kale, etc., through the blender to powder these to sneak into sauces, soups and stews too!

I love my dehydrator for drying herbs as well. I just finished harvesting the first cutting of Basil, and after making three batches of pesto to freeze, I put the remainder in the Excaliber. When it dries, I scrunch it down into a glass jar just til it fits. When it comes time to use it, I take a big pinch or two and really crumble the herb into more of a powder, then toss it in the pot. I feel if I crush it too much when first stored, the dried herbs lose some of their flavor. Crushing it more just when I use it in a recipe seems best. Mints, bee balm and lemon balm dried for tea, as well as chives, sage, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, green onion tops, basil, and so on, are easy to dehydrate and wonderful to use in winter recipes. Just be sure to store in glass jars with tight-fitting, screw-on lids.

I am waiting for my crop of fall raspberries to ripen, as I want to dehydrate some for use in homemade granola and baked goods. I froze the ones I picked in early summer, but want to have dried raspberries on hand too. I've also dried blueberries, currants, bananas and sour cherries this season, and will dry some apples when they ripen.

I'd like to share one of my favorite resources with you... perhaps you're already familiar with it; Lehman's Non-Electric Catalogue in Kidron, Ohio was founded in the 1950's to serve the local Amish families and others without electricity. (Find it here... I LOVE this catalogue, as it continues to be a wonderful source of not only extraordinary tools, utensils and growing wishlists for me, but is full of valuable tips and information as well. And the folks are just so darn friendly and helpful! I hope someday to visit their store in person!

Well, I must go now. I can hardly believe that August is coming to an end and that September is just around the corner. May you enjoy the remainder of summer! Warmest regards, Laura of Wildenblue Farm

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I just HAD to publish something!!

(I am s-l-o-w-l-y getting back to things set aside months ago bit-by-bit. I am almost afraid I have forgotten how to blog, let alone use a computer again!)

It is hard for me to let it sink in that August is upon us here in the lower Adirondacks of New York State, yet the humidity and hot temperatures proves it is so. I have kept busy as the weather allows... trimming brush, revamping my garden shed, slowly rebuilding a stone wall near the barn, and trying to keep up with the weeds in each garden. (I am failing miserably at this) The vegetable garden has been overrun with a variety of gourd plants and Grandpa Ott morning glories; I have not planted these devilish beauties in over 5 years, but each spring they come back with a vengeance. I have tried learning to be heartless enough to rip out or hoe down the unwanted seedlings as soon as they emerge, but I save them to transplant all over the gardens, and wait til they have smothered most everything and then pull them out armful by tangled armful when I've had enough! Next year will be different... ahem!

We have had visits from several wild creatures over the past few months. It started with the arrival of a mother fox who gave birth to three little ones in the culvert between our driveway and the road.
This was followed by several fawns who arrived in the back field throughout the spring... one managed to somehow get trapped between the railings of the front porch and was rescued by my youngest son. About the same time, I had been mowing in the back field and barely missed a newborn fawn.

Most recently, I was cleaning the garden shed porch, and I kicked a box of polyfilm out of my way. It was too heavy to move with my foot, so I bent over to retrieve the polyfilm from the box and was startled by a small skunk who was curled up inside! I ran to the house to get my daughter so she could snap a picture, and he quickly toddled off under the outhouse.

Well, I will close for now, but before I go, I wish you all well and hope you too are enjoying the remainder of summer! Warmest regards from Wildenblue Farm!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Please show some love!

JoAnne of The Vintage Dragonfly recently purchased a blog banner from me, and she is just getting her Blog up and running. If you have time and would like to stop in for a visit, (and check out her beautiful creations!) you can find her here...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A recipe as promised!

Ashley's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together by hand
3/4 cup Butter, 3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar, 3/4 cup Sugar and 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract. Add 2 Eggs.

In a seperate bowl, mix together
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups Flour, 1 teaspoon Salt and 1 teaspoon Baking Soda.
Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Fold in TONS of
Chocolate Chips. (I think that means at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups!) Bake for 10 or 12 minutes.

So, I've been baking since I was a teenager... which means well over 35 years ago! I've made pies, breads, cookies, cakes; all kinds of sweet treats. I used to be able to make great cookies... my friend would always head to the cookie jar when she'd bring her girls over. However... something has happened. My cookies turn out kind of flat and brown. They taste fine, but they're different. (Or maybe I'm getting too old!)

So Ashley and Travis send cookies home to us, and they are heavenly! And I admit defeat! She whips my butt(er) as far as making Chocolate Chip Cookies. And I hear my son makes a pretty mean Chocolate Chip Pancake, too!

So, I tried her recipe, and I still didn't do something right. And I tried again, mixing by hand, as she does, and adjusting my oven temperature... which was running 75 degrees too hot, according to the oven thermometer I used. Still no! I will try once more and use Light Brown Sugar, as she does, instead of the Dark Brown Molasses Sugar I always buy. I really don't think it will matter though. So I guess she'll just have to keep sending up those scrumptious cookies every now and then!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Do you remember me?!?

I cannot believe I haven't posted for over two months! Here are four good reasons I've been a bit busy...

Ryan showing his muscles

Kara watching the camera

Anthony listening to Great-grandma

Tristan keeping an eye on Leo

Honestly, I've spent quite a bit of time over the past few days trying to post a new entry on my Blog. It seems that since I've been away, they've changed something, and my computer was not accepting the changes. It finally dawned on me to go into "help" and I soon discovered I wasn't the only one experiencing this problem. And I FINALLY got it figured it out!

I wanted to post my daughter-in-law's Chocolate Chip cookie recipe tonight, but I left it out by my computer in my workshop, and it's POURING outside, so I will post it very soon... I promise!

Aside from babysitting my grandchildren, I've been trying to get things accomplished outdoors. I trimmed all the Guinea's wings to stop them from flying out of the pastures. I took apart the greenhouse mom and I built a few years back. It cost too much to keep it heated... what was spent on propane would have bought a lot of seeds or plants; it was just not feasible. I did save the cattle panels, and am trying something new. I bent each 16' panel into a length-wise half-hoop, covered them with clear plastic and placed them in the vegetable garden. I planted them with cold-weather crops... spinach, kale, chard, carrots, etc... and I will see how this experiment fares out.

Well, I'm headed to bed shortly, and I need a cup of tea. I shall be back in touch very soon! Hope all is well with all of you! I missed you! xox ~Laura

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pecan & Red Onion Bread

I am such a scatterbrain. I promised to post this recipe quite a while back, and I'm not sure even to whom I promised it to, 'though I think it was Janice of Meatless Mamma.

This bread is a delicious dunker for homemade soup and salad for a simple supper. My youngest son likes it toasted for breakfast. Me? I'll eat it either way!

The directions are for dumping in the ingredients in the listed order for my bread machine... sorry! But I think it's a pretty adaptable recipe whether or not you use a bread machine... along the same lines as making white bread from scratch. And don't be afraid to play around with it a bit, such as adding a cup of Whole Wheat Flour instead of all Unbleached White Flour, or honey instead of sugar. I hope you like it!

Pecan and Red Onion Bread

1 Tablespoon dry Yeast
3 cups Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon warm Milk
1/4 cup Butter
1/2 cup chopped Red Onion
1 or 2 cloves minced Garlic
3/4 cup chopped Pecans
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup grated Cheddar Cheese

Add all ingredients in the order listed to your Bread Machine, adding a little extra flour as needed to make a dough that holds together in a soft ball. I like to put mine on the manuel setting, and when it's cycle has completed, I place the dough in a greased Bread Pan, let it rise for about 45 minutes, then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pictures to Share

Winter is a time to gather golden moments and enjoy every idle hour.
~John Boswell

Before you get started, I must first apologize to all true photographers out there, and I clarify that I am NOT making claims at being an exceptional picture-taker! Here are a few pictures of things that caught my eye on a recent snowshoe out back. It was a cold late afternoon, about 8 degrees, and the sun would set in a little over an hour.  Thus, if a picture is worth a thousand words, mine may be worth a few dozen! Therefore, I will let my pictures do the talking today! Come along....

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year Greetings

Of course, I'm a day late to wish you all a peaceful, healthy New Year! But the greeting still means as much to you and yours!

It has been snowing little whisps and tufts since yesterday... with only a few inches of accumulation, but it's snow none-the-less! We are predicted to get perhaps 4 to 6 inches by tomorrow, with the wind kicking up this afternoon and lasting through the night. I just came in from feeding and watering the chickens, geese, ducks and guineas, and it is rather blustery... the wind is just strong enough to drive the tiny pellets of snow into your cheeks and down your neck! I tucked in extra straw and shavings for the biddies, and a week or two ago I stacked bales of hay in front of either side of the barn door to block the north wind from blowing straight into it's small opening. I have not let the birds out into the bigger barnyard for a few weeks, but they are content in their covered run, and have plenty of indoor and outdoor space for exercise and fresh air. It is just as well, as yesterday I took a walk around the fence lines and discovered three places where the fence was torn down. One spot was a curiousity... it looked like deer had tried to jump the 6-foot fencing, but one heavy steel fence post was completely knocked out of the ground. The other spots were the work of a coyote, fox or perhaps a neighbor's dog. I mended it all as best I could temporarily, but it will require far greater repair come springtime.

Yesterday was a day spent with family, as everyone came up for supper. I really need to think about a larger kitchen table, as when my children come with their families and everyone is together, there are 10 adults and 4 children around the not-long-enough farmtable, which comfortably seats only 8! And when extra friends or family come, I have to add an extra table. I suppose I could just attach longer and  wider pine boards to the table base though. Something to think about, as Sunday suppers can be a bit cramped!

Today was spent getting new tires for my poor Jeep. The man at the garage declared the old tires "baloney skins". Then I had to get a washing machine, as the old one died about a month ago, and we've been washing our clothes in the clawfoot bathtub! I did use an old wringer-washer for a few days til the motor burned out; then it was back to the tub. My youngest son has a new appreciation for how laundry was done long ago, as he spent quite a bit of energy agitating his laundry with an old wood and metal plunger!

Well, the wind is picking up and the cold is settling in, so I'm off to put on a pot of soup and stoke the wood furnace. I just wanted to stop in and wish everyone a Happy New Year! Til next time!