Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Like Mama Used To Make It; Metro Lyrics 2008

It might seem a little bit old-fashioned,
And it may not be the trend of the year.
But let's take the store-bought feeling out of Christmas,
And have the kind that mama held so dear.

Let's not have a single pie if we can't make it,
And I'll sharpen up the axe to cut our tree.
Let the little ones make all the decorations
And get back to the way it used to be.

Let's have Christmas like mama used to make it...
Back before we all had it made.
Let's spend time spending love instead of money.
Take a sleigh ride back into the good old days.

For it's there that lies the strength of our family,
The Good Lord intended it that way.
So this year, let's do our best not to fake it...
Let's have Christmas like mama used to make it.

Let's call Uncle Ed to tune that old piano.
It's been too long since we've all sang "Silent Night".
Let the rest of the world have it their way,
But this year, we're going to do it right!

Let's have Christmas like mama used to make it...
Back before we all had it made.
Let's spend time spending love instead of money.
Take a sleigh ride back into the good old days.

For it's there that lies the strength of our family
The Good Lord intended it that way
So this year, let's do our best not to fake it...
Let's have Christmas like mama used to make it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


If there’s ice in November to bear a duck
There’ll be nothing after but sludge and muck.

A warm November fortells a bad Winter.

Onion skins very thin,
Mild Winter coming in;
Onion skins thick and tough,
Coming Winter cold and rough.

I am rich today with autumn's gold,
All that my covetous hands can hold;
Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod,
A goldfinch on a milkweed pod,
Huge golden pumpkins in the field
With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield,
Golden apples heavy on the trees
Rivaling those of Hesperides,
Golden rays of balmy sunshine spread
Over all like butter on warm bread;
And the harvest moon will this night unfold
The streams running full of molten gold.
Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss
With autumn glory such as this!

-   Gladys Harp

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty.  For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercising in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion.  All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees).  And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc.  Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion.  Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.
 William Bradford, 1621 

Gluten Free Spiced Pumpkin Fruitcake Recipe

I confess... I am one of the few people I know that actually enjoys fruitcake! (I think my mom is the other!) Come November, and it's time to make a batch to have on hand for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I like my fruitcake full of fruit and nuts, and I don't expect it to be healthy. Just a little something to have with tea after being out in the cold, crisp air. This fits the bill perfectly. I make it ahead as I think it just tastes so much better after sitting for a few weeks. (I steep mine in brandy or Southern Comfort; you needn't do either... but do let it sit wrapped in plastic wrap for a week or two in the back of the fridge to mellow.)

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together
1/2 pound of butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1  1/4 cups (or 1 can) pureed pumpkin
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Using a sturdy wooden spoon, mix in

2 1/4 cups gluten free flour blend
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

(NOTE: If you do not want a gluten free fruitcake, simply omit the xanthan gum
and just use regular all- purpose flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients til well-blended.

Now... I stir in at least 2 pounds of dried fruits and fruitcake fruit mix, and at least two cups of chopped pecans and walnuts... I prefer less "cake" and more "fruit" (and nutmeats)
I purchase the traditional fruitcake mix, and glazed cherries, citron, lemon peel and orange peel, as well as the pineapple. (This time of year, I turn a blind eye to all the artificial GMO dye-infested yuck that is in those plastic containers... SHAME on me!)
Then I add sweetened, dried fruits from the co-op store... golden raisins, papaya, apricots, cantaloupe, cranberries, blueberries, pineapple, etc... whatever your tastebuds prefer. I just keep adding the fruit and nuts until it is the consistency I love.

Mix well (this is a workout for your arms, to be sure!)
Then spoon the fruitcake mixture into greased loaf pans, small or large. Using a fork, flatten out the top of each fruitcake, pressing firmly.
 I used a collection of small pans that I use just for this recipe... I just like the ease of handling the smaller loaves better than 2 or 3 larger loaves, and the littler ones are just the right size for gifts!
Bake these smaller loaves for about an hour, turning them half-way during baking time. The regular size loaf pans should bake at least 1 1/2 hours, give or take 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into a loaf or two and make sure it comes out clean. Let fruitcakes cool completely before removing them from the pans.
Wrap each fruitcake in plastic wrap, and allow to mellow in the refrigerator for at least a week to improve the flavor.
If you so desire,  pour a bit of brandy or Southern Comfort on the top and bottom of each fruitcake before you wrap it. Let this soak in for a week or two, then enjoy!
This recipe made 9 small (approx. 4" by 6") fruitcakes, each weighing 1 pound apiece.

Now the frost is in the air.
Blue the haze at early dawn.
There is color everywhere.
Old and ragged looks the lawn.
Autumn's resting on the hills.
Harvested are fruit and grain,
And the home with gladness thrills.
Buckwheat cakes are back again!
Every season has its joys,
Every day its touch of mirth.
For us all - both girls and boys -
God has well supplied the earth.
What if care must fall between
Peace and pleasure now and then?
Autumn holds this happy scene:
Buckwheat cakes are back again!
Time and trouble change us all,
Youth gives way to middle age,
One by one our fancies fall
Till we reach life's final stage,
But in spite of aches and panes
And the difference old age makes,
Man devoted still remains
To a stack of buckwheat cakes.
Edgar A. Guest, Buckwheat Cakes

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.
Edgar A. Guest, Thanksgiving

The thinnest yellow light of November is more warming
and exhilarating than any wine they tell of. The mite which November contributes becomes equal in value to the bounty of July
 Henry David Thoreau  

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it...
 the whole story doesn't show.
Andrew Wyeth

Friday, October 25, 2013

My word...
I certainly have been away for quite a while again, haven't I?

Summer passed rather quickly, except for the few hot and humid spells we endured... they always seem to last forever. The vegetable garden started out well, but once the guineas, ducks and chickens found their way in, that put quite a dent in things. I managed to harvest onions, rhubarb, basil, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, and garlic, but aside from a few cucumbers early on and four pumpkins (and perhaps that many zucchini) that escaped the ducks and chickens feet and beaks, there was little else to brag about. However, the raspberries are still producing even though we've had a few good frosts. (I picked 3 quarts just the other morning as it was spitting snow, and finally managed to make a batch of jam.) There have been plenty of apples on the trees this year, so mom and I have pressed a good 10+ gallons of cider.  My dear friend Martha brought over three big bags of her apples, and combined with the varieties grown here, we had some of the best cider we've ever made!

The last few weeks have been spent clearing away brush along one side of the roadway to allow sunlight and growing room for the sugar maples that are maturing here. There is a beautiful old stone wall along that whole stretch which has tumbled down over the years, so we have been repairing and repiling stones... very painstaking work! It is amazing how many stones are piled underneath the ground all around the area of the wall. As the layers of soil and leaves are pulled back, there suddenly appears a good one-to-two-feet or more of additional stone wall from out of the ground. It is humbling to realize the easy part we have of reconstructing this wall... we simply have to dig about within two or three feet of the wall remnant to gather the once-piled stones and replace them into the wall. I cannot help but imagine the work required long ago in digging all those stones out of the surrounding fields, transporting them to the perimeters without the use of a tractor; perhaps only a stoneboat, and then stacking those stones into what was easily a 3 foot wide by 4 foot tall by several hundred foot long wall...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Again the blackbirds sings; the streams Wake, laughing, from their winter dreams, And tremble in the April showers The tassels of the maple flowers. ~John Greenleaf Whittier

April's Charms by William Henry Davies
When April scatters charms of primrose gold 
Among the copper leaves in thickets old, 
And singing skylarks from the meadows rise, 
To twinkle like black stars in sunny skies;

When I can hear the small woodpecker ring 
Time on a tree for all the birds that sing; 
And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long -- 
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song;

When I can hear the woodland brook, that could 
Not drown a babe, with all his threatening mood; 
Upon these banks the violets make their home, 
And let a few small strawberry blossoms come:

When I go forth on such a pleasant day, 
One breath outdoors takes all my cares away; 
It goes like heavy smoke, when flames take hold 

Of wood that's green and fill a grate with gold.

An April Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When the warm sun, that brings
Seed-time and harvest, has returned again,
'T is sweet to visit the still wood, where springs
The first flower of the plain.

I love the season well,
When forest glades are teeming with bright forms,
Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell
The coming-on of storms.

From the earth's loosened mould
The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives;
Though stricken to the heart with winter's cold,
The drooping tree revives.

The softly-warbled song
Comes from the pleasant woods, and colored wings
Glance quick in the bright sun, that moves along
The forest openings.

When the bright sunset fills
The silver woods with light, the green slope throws
Its shadows in the hollows of the hills,
And wide the upland glows.

And when the eve is born,
In the blue lake the sky, o'er-reaching far,
Is hollowed out and the moon dips her horn,
And twinkles many a star.

Inverted in the tide
Stand the gray rocks, and trembling shadows throw,
And the fair trees look over, side by side,
And see themselves below.

Sweet April! many a thought
Is wedded unto thee, as hearts are wed;
Nor shall they fail, till, to its autumn brought,
Life's golden fruit is shed.

The lyric sound of laughter Fills all the April hills The joy-song of the crocus, The mirth of daffodils. ~Clinton Scollard

I love the season well When forest glades are teeming with bright forms, Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell The coming of storms. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, April 1, 2013

Recipe for Spicy Chipotle Kale Chips

My name is Laura, and I am a Kale Chip addict. I am not a fan, however, of the cost of seasoned Kale Chips st the co-ops I shop at. A one-serving container of similar chips costs $3.99, and I've even seen them at $7.99! Kale grows amazingly well in my garden, but it's winter/early spring here, so I purchased this organic kale at $2.99 a bunch. You may want to cut this recipe in half, or even quarter it. Also note that the curly kale varieties work best in this recipe. Dinosaur Kale is too flat and tends to stick to the dehydrator shelves.

First thing you do is wash the kale and separate the leafy green parts from the thick center rib. (You can compost the ribs, freeze them for later use in soup stock or feed them to the geese and chickens!)

Tear the kale greens into bite-sized pieces and shake as much water from them as possible

Remember, I can eat Kale Chips any time of night or day... this is 4 bunches of washed and torn kale leaves.

In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine
1/2 cup water
1 large Sweet Red Pepper, roughly chopped
1 large Onion, roughly chopped
2 cups raw Cashews
3/4 cup raw Pumpkin Seeds &/or Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
4 to 6 cloves Garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons Sea Salt (optional)
1/4 cup Tahini OR Vegetable Oil (I use Spicy Sesame Oil)
1-2 tablespoons Smoked Chipotle powder
1-2 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
3/4 cup Nutritional Yeast flakes (NOT baking yeast!)
3 tablespoons shelled Hemp Seeds
2 tablespoons ground Flaxseed

Pulse the ingredients (except Kale) and run to a smooth paste

Grab a few handfuls of your prepared Kale (in this case, 4 bunches store-bought) and place them in a workable bowl. Plop 3 or 4 spoonfuls of seasoning paste onto the kale leaves. 

 Very gently toss the kale with the paste to coat to your liking. Some folks prefer a thicker covering of the seasoning paste than I do... it's up to you!

Here is a close-up of the covered leaves as I like them... not too thick, not too thin

Carefully lay the coated kale in a single layer on your dehydrator shelves. You want to be sure that the leaves are layered fairly individually so the dry completely.

As you can see, I have skipped every other dehydrator shelf at first. The kale is thick and tall, so I put it in on alternate shelves for about one hour to let it shrink down a bit. I have an Excaliber dehydrator with 9 shelves... this recipe gives me a half-gallon and a quart and a half of Kale Chips.

Then I go back and put the rest of the kale on the other shelves and continue dehydrating for another 4 to 5 hours longer. It is helpful to rotate the position of the shelves throughout the dehydrating time.

Here are the finished kale Chips. Make certain that they are crisp and completely dry. Then store in glass jars (NOT plastic!) and munch away!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tis March...

I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
Sing robin, sing:
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.
~Christina Rossetti 

 A small portion of a flock of red-winged blackbirds that descended out of a thick fog today

 vacant stone foundation... most likely a barn stood here long ago

enjoying the fresh air... but not cold feet

'tis march...

March! March! March! They are coming 
In troops to the tune of the wind. 
Redheaded woodpeckers drumming, Gold - crested thrushes behind; Sparrows in brown jackets, hopping Past every gateway and door; Finches, with crimson caps, stopping Just where they stopped before. March! March! March! They are slipping Into their places at last. . . Literature white lily buds, dripping Under the showers that fall fast; Buttercups, violets, roses; Snowdrop and bluebell and pink, Throng upon throng of sweet posies Bending the dewdrops to drink. March! March! March! They will hurry Forth at the wild bugle sound, Blossoms and birds in a flurry, Fluttering all over the ground. Shake out your flags, birch and willow! Shake out your red tassels, larch! Grass blades, up from your earth - pillow. Hear who is calling you. . . March.~Lucy Larcom

Whether the weather in March

~Rain in March fortells rain in June
~March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb
~Many mists in March beckon many frosts in May
~March winds and April showers will surely bring us May flowers
~A dry March and a wet May fill barns and lofts with corn and hay
~Should it rain on Easter Sunday, expect rain for the following seven Sundays

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Garden musings...

I've been trying to get my garden compiled on paper, or at least in my head! Although I've saved seeds, I still have some varieties of flowers and vegetables. I also want to concentrate on drying and blending a wonderful and lovely-to-look at tea this year! I usually dry scads of various mints and combine them all together for winter use, as well as Wild Raspberry and Blackberry leaves, Lemon Balm, Bee Balm, Nettles and Dandelion. But I'd like to create a blend that's a little more elaborate for gift-giving too. I've been wracking my brain and revisiting herb books I haven't touched in a long time, and I created this chart above as a quick visual reference to help me along the way. (I need all the help I can get sometimes!)
I know it's not a complete compilation, but it's a starting point to remember to harvest and dry the many herbs and flowers that I do grow, and concoct a pleasing and tasty blend. I am not partial to strong-tasting herbal blends or spices in my tea, so I will go lightly on the more pungent flavors.
Have you any particular favorites when it comes to growing and blending your tea herbs? Is there a particular herb I've left out of a category that you simply must include in your blend?

As I was browsing the web this past week, I stumbled upon this link from Garden Betty on making your own seed tape. (i'm sorry, you'll have to copy and paste; it won't link) I'm curious to know if this is feasible, as I have never tried seed  tape before. Perhaps I'll at least give it a try... it just may cut down on the transplanting or thinning.

I am keeping cabin fever at bay fairly well and trying to be patient with winter. We got the sugar maples tapped yesterday, and I'm waiting on the sap flow to commence in the next few weeks. We had a few inches of snow last night, and may get another storm this weekend. The chickens, ducks, guineas and geese are probably suffering from cabin fever more than I am, as it has been bitter cold with the winds we've had, so I've kept them in the coop more than in other years. Word has it that there is either a mountain lion or a bobcat out back. It's tracks have been spotted throughout the woods, so it is best that the poultry are in anyhow.

I am hoping all is well in your corner of the world. I leave you with these few lines...

A warm and cheery fire roars merrily
And shadows dance about the darkened room. 
Beside the hearth a gardener sits and dreams
Of sunny days, of flowers in full bloom. 
Some hollyhocks should tower near the fence,
Bright red. ones that the bees can't help but find.
The trellis at the gate again must wear 
Blue morning glories, or the rosy kind. 
To lend a bit of distance to the scene,
Close to the rear I'll plant in shades of blue
The tall and stately larkspur, double ones­
Of course I'll put in scabiosa, too.
I couldn't do without a pansy bed­
Snapdragons make such beautiful bouquets­
Frilled zinnias and yellow marigolds 
Add just the proper touch to autumn days. 
The flowers grow and bloom with loveliness 
Until a sound destroys the fantasy­
A burning ember falls and I must leave 
My garden and my charming reverie. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

For the birds

It is ironic that wintertime languishes and tempts me with hours to be filled, so unlike the other three seasons when the only other things you do with your free time are eat and sleep...
Poultry do not require much time in winter... a drink of warm water laced with apple cider vinegar and molasses and all the trimmings from soups and salads, mounds of warm hay and some cracked corn, and an airing out when the weather is feasible and a snug home is about all they ask this time of year. They don't venture far in cold weather; thus there is no chasing down a flock of errant guinea fowl at 9 pm to make sure they're all safely in the barn for the evening. Predators are less apt to be a bother now, as they too are snugged away except at dinnertime, and the snow gives evidence if they come close.

I certainly do appreciate the calmer pace... I've managed to read a book or two, which is unheard of during the growing season, and I just adore my time spent frivolously tending to Pinterest (ahemmmm..) I can find time now to create a bit more, and that is a luxury in and of itself. I hope you can make time too! I've posted a few bird-related images you may be able to use... they are copyright free from my always-growing collection. These particular ones were compiled by Nancy Rosin in the Memories of a Lifetime series. Enjoy!

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.
John Boswell

Surely as cometh the Winter, I know
There are Spring violets under the snow.
-  R. H. Newell

February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March.
-  Dr. J. R. Stockton

When the snow is still blowing against the window-pane in
January and February and the wild winds are howling without,
what pleasure it is to plan for summer that is to be.
Celia Thaxter

He knows no winter, he who loves the soil,
For, stormy days, when he is free from toil,
He plans his summer crops, selects his seeds
From bright-paged catalogues for garden needs.
When looking out upon frost-silvered fields,
He visualizes autumn's golden yields;
He sees in snow and sleet and icy rain
Precious moisture for his early grain;
He hears spring-heralds in the storm's  turmoil­
He knows no winter, he who loves the soil.
-  Sudie Stuart Hager 

There is a privacy about winter which no other season gives you … Only in winter…can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.
-  Ruth Stout

Out of the bosom of the Air, 
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, 
Over the woodlands brown and bare, 
Over the harvest-fields forsaken, 
Silent, and soft, and slow 
Descends the snow.
-  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow