"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." A.Holmes

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Goth's Head Gear, Snack or Adornment?

"Hey, bahhhhhhh ! Look over here, ladies I am your ram. The ram with the studly head gear decked out with greenery. How can you resist me? " ( Goth wearing rugosa vines tangled in his horns)
"What about you Delilah? Like my head gear? " Delilah seems unimpressed.
"No one is paying attention to me. Oh well, if the ewes don't find you handsome at least they should find you tasty." And they did, the gals ate the rugosa leaves and vines off Goth's head shortly after I took these pictures. Then they resumed ignoring him. Guess breeding season is over for the gals. Poor Goth. A ewe lamb also got herself decked out in greenery and wore it for 2 days. We had to disentangle her from the rugosa because she wouldn't stand still for her flock mates to eat the leaves off her. You can see how sheep left un-sheared and allowed to roam large ranges , fields, and wooded areas can easily get tangled in thorns, briar patches, etc., that would allow them to be caught and eaten by predators or literally starve to death . Thorns grab the fleece and as the sheep struggles the thorns dig in even more thus causing the vines to tighten...horned sheep get caught in all sorts of bad situations .They can be caught in brush, fences, feeders and sometimes victims of clashes among each other leading to the horns piercing vital organs or causing internal bleeding. I love my horned sheep, but it is easy to see why over the centuries many shepherds have bred sheep to be hornless, or polled.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Be Happy, Get Chickens!

This is my Cuckoo Maran rooster, settling down in a nest box and acting like a hen. Yes, a hen! He snuggles down, turns a circle or two, clucks quietly and settles..as if HE will be laying an egg. I have seen him do this many times and am always intrigued. Most of the time he is a proper rooster, strutting and courting the hens. He does rule the roost. Then, some days I find him behaving as if he has eggs to lay and tend, and he will knock the hens out of the nest boxes so he can set...go figure.
Here is my frizzled bantam cochin rooster. He has a few hens of his own and seems to be quite the gentleman.
He will choose a cedar shaving, pluck it up in his beak, and wiggle and bob as he dances around the hens. Then he passes the shaving to a hen, takes it back and does this to another hen. What is this? A dance? A rooster dance?What does it mean?
The hens are checking out a prospective nesting box. ( note: I use kitty litter boxes for my nesting bantams) Wonder what they are thinking.You know, my bantam hens are constantly stealing eggs from each other and they will even roll eggs out of big nest boxes and across a pen to set on and hatch as their own. They LOVE to be mama hens.
My chickens fascinate me. They come up with all sorts of antics and behavior I have never read about, but I know anyone who keeps chickens must be seeing many of the things I observe. There is so much more to animals' behavior and thought processes than we read and hear about. Anyone who keeps a dog, cat, bird , or any kind of pet they observe even a little bit knows this! "If you search the world for happiness, you may find it in the end, for the world is round and will lead you back to your door." Robert Brault We have chickens in the back area of our property, they are funny and when I need a break, a laugh ,or to just put things into perspective, I get a cup of coffee and sit on a bench near our chicken pens to just watch them. They make me happy. Really, everyone ahould have some chickens!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Down To The River....

"He who believes in Me , as the Scripture said, " From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." John 7 :38

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jamie's Beef Carpaccio With Marinated Bean Salad

This is sooooooooooo delicious! I never knew how adding just the right combo of ingredients and following such a simple recipe that included a few easy techniques I have never tried, could be so very good and...well, easy!Much easier and quicker than you would think , given how wordy the recipe is. My husband and I were very happily surprised. I had another recipe to present tonight but my husband said I needed to do this one, so here goes..... "Carpaccio is very thinly sliced raw meat....you don't need loads of meat for this, just a couple of slices per person, which should allow you to spend a little more on a good-quality piece of beef." You will need:
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 9 ounces green or mixed beans, topped but not tailed ( we got them from our garden)
  • 1 -1lb. piece of beef fillet
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme ( got these from our herb garden)
  • olive oil
For the marinade:
  • 2 small shallots or 1/2 a small red onion, peeled and very finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh soft herbs ( chervil, parsley, yellow inner celery, tarragon), leaves picked and chopped
  • 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
"Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Drop the beans in and cook for about 5 minutes. When perfectly done drain them in a colander." "To make the marinade, mix the shallot or onion in a bowl with the herbs, mustard, vinegar and 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper to taste, then add the hot cooked beans and toss. Put to one side to allow the beans to cool down and take on all the fantastic flavors." "Place the beef fillet on a chopping board and season it all over with salt and pepper. Run thyme sprigs under hot water for a few seconds-this will help release their fragrant oils. Strip the leaves from the stalks and chop them up roughly. Sprinkle the thyme over the fillet, then roll the meat around the chopping board so that any excess seasoning and herbs stick to it." "Get a heavy frying pan very hot and add a splash of oil, followed by the beef fillet. Fry for 1 minute only, turning it every few seconds to sear and encrust all the lovely flavorings onto it. Take the meat out of the frying pan and put it on a plate to rest for a minute. ( once seared, you can serve straightaway or you can keep the meat covered on a plate until needed. I prefer not to keep it in the fridge.)" "Using a sharp knife, now slice the seared fillet this thick:---- Lay each slice on a board and flatten as much as you can by pressing down on them with the side of a chopping knife-it works a treat. Lay 2 or 3 slices out flat on each plate. Season again lightly and place a pile of beans on top, spooning over some of the marinade. Sprinkle over any leftover herb leaves and drizzle with some good extra virgin olive oil." Jamie Oliver ( Jamie At Home) I am enjoying trying out new recipes that include fresh herbs and vegetables in season. We still have loads of tomatoes and beans, carrots, corn and potatoes to harvest. According to the weather man we are in for frost very soon so I am taking advantage of Jamie's late summer recipes .

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Delicious Autumn!

Miss Marple is supervising my autumn decorating. She is not pleased with me. I asked her to get off the table so I could finish arranging my table centerpiece. Never mind the fact that she is not supposed to be on the table in the first place....as far as she is concerned , rules like that do not apply to her. She sits and sleeps wherever she pleases.
There is so much to be done in my favorite season! Apples and grapes need harvesting and preserving."Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." George Eliot
My herb garden is full of herbs needing to be dried for use throughout the rest of the year. Drying fennel fills the house with its' pleasant licorice scent.
The rugosa is loaded with huge, beautiful rose hips. "Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all." Stanley Horowitz
I also cut and dried oregano, marjoram, and brought in some rosemary to use fresh in a poultry dish. Rosemary grows prolifically in our herb garden all year long, so it is always available to me fresh, even in the coldest weather.
Apples lined up on the porch railing. "For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature , it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad." Edwin Way Teale Blessings: abundant fruit and vegetables grown right here on Cedar Pond, friends and family to share it with,

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Fairy Garden & A Happy Birthday

This is our #2 Granddaughter, also known as KN. She is 8 years old now and we got to spend her birthday evening with her , eating the dinner of her choice and enjoying the birthday cake she chose. She is a lot of fun and of course, as her grandparents, we're just crazy about her, and all our other grandchildren too. One of my special times with KN came when she was 3 years old, and this is the occasion when I learned so much about her character and gifts, and it was one of my many very precious and memorable times with her.... KN was 3, yes three years old and showing great interest in flowers and gardening. She and I decided to make a Fairy Garden together. Early in the spring I took her shopping at the local nursery for HER choice of flowers. Believe me, KN has strong opinions ( I found out then) about what she likes and we chose only what SHE wanted to plant. After all, this was to be her Fairy Garden! Here ( above ) she poses for me holding one of her choices. When we got home she immediately got to work decorating her planter with stickers I had bought for her. She filled the big pink plastic tub with soil and then we laid out the design. Really though, it was truly ALL her design for she did not care for the way I laid things out. I have to say, this little one at 3 had a better grasp of design than I. Her plant and garden arrangement beat mine all to pieces, and I just watched as she removed and rearranged my intended lay-out. ( Well, it was her garden after all) Above, KN waters her Fairy Garden. This is a picture of KN touching up the Fairy Garden to enter it in a community fair. What I learned about her when she was 3 years old is that she is very self-confidant, thinks outside the box when it comes to creativity, is a lot of fun...and that I won't go wrong if I seek her advice for creative design in almost anything!She is now a few years older and that is still my impression of her..and she also loves me and her Poppa to pieces! KN and I can spend hours together quietly, while each of us works on our own project. All I will do is lay out paints, paper, fibers, glue. glitter, beads, etc., and she gets busy crafting whatever her imagination conceives, while I am free to work along-side her on my own projects. This is a special and FUN time.
Happy Birthday precious Granddaughter! "There are fairies at the bottom of our garden. It's not so very, very far away. You pass the gardener's shed and you just keep straight ahead, I do so hope they've really come to stay. There's a little wood with moss in it and beetles,and a little stream that quietly runs through. You wouldn't think they'd dare come merry-making there~Well they do. (Rose Fyleman)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another Day to Praise!

We gathered together again this week in Frank and Judy's log cabin overlooking the Nisqually River to worship , fellowship, and share a meal. Pictures cannot do this beautiful home justice, especially since Frank and Judy rearrange everything to accomodate and welcome us into their home. Thank-you Frank and Judy. Judy is busy in her lovely and homey kitchen checking the pots of yummy food on the stove, preparing the plates, platters and bowls of great variety for us to line up , filter through her kitchen and load up our plates...and we make sure to partake of the bread and the wine along with our meal as we break bread and drink the wine in rememberance of the broken body and shed blood of Jesus.
Another view of Judy and Frank's kitchen...with a little clean-up after our meal.
The children usually join in with the adults for reading, singing, listening...but the little ones seek laps. Here, our grandson Little J., is not sure what to make of HIS Mommy holding another baby in her lap! And of course, we love to make a joyful noise with Patrick and Steve on guitar and Frank playing his saxophone.....bliss! "Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the assembly of the Saints." Psalm 149:1 "Whether it is a financial crunch, a sudden illness, or a personal defeat, if you fix your heart on praise to God, then you have offered a sacrifice. If you have ever cried during those heartbreaking difficulties,"Lord, I will hope in You and praise You more and more," then you know you have offered words that have cost you plenty. Praise in those circumstances is painful." "Please remember this:Most of the verses written about praise in God's word were voiced by people faced with crushing heartaches, injustice, treachery, slander,and scores of other difficult situations. They knew that the sacrifice of praise was a key to victory on their spiritual journey." Joni Eareckson Tada
"Praise the Lord all ye people..." Psalm 100:1

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jamie Oliver's Incredible Baked Cauliflower & Broccoli Cannelloni

This is the first recipe I tried out of my new Jamie Oliver Cook Book. Jamies' book is based on the seasons in a garden and what other meats and produce are most available in particular seasons. As our garden and our daughter's garden are producing abundances of tomatoes and broccoli and cauliflower now, I started in his late summer / early fall section with 'Incredible Baked Cauliflower and Broccoli Cannelloni .
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound broccoli & 1 pound cauliflower, washed , florets and stems chopped(*from our daughter's garden~ and he really does mean CHOPPED!)
  • olive oil
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked (*from our herb garden)
  • 1 ounce can best quality anchovies in oil, drained and chopped, oil reserved
  • 2-3 small dried chilies, crumbled
  • 2 cups good quality tomato sauce. ( *tomato sauce made from our garden tomatoes)
  • good quality red-wine vinegar
  • 2 cups creme' fraiche
  • 7 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 16 cannelloni tubes
  • small bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked ( *from our daughter's garden)
  • 7 ounces mozzarella cheese (*Jamie says "tear"over the recipe, but I grated this & sprinkled liberally over the top)
  • extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large sauce pan of salted water to boil and drop in the chopped broccoli and cauliflower. Boil for 5-6 minutes, until cooked, then drain in colander reserving some of the cooking water(*You don't need to save more than 2 cups). Heat a wide saucepan, pour in a couple good glugs of olive oil and add the garlic. Fry for a few seconds, then add the thyme leaves, anchovies, anchovy oil and chilies and continue frying for a few seconds more before adding the cooked broccoli and cauliflower with around 4 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water. Stir everything together, put a lid on the pan leaving a little gap, and cook slowly for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly-overcooking the veg not only intensifies their flavor but gives you the texture you need for this recipe. Remove the lid for the last 5 minutes to let the moisture evaporate, then use a potato masher to crush the veg. Take the saucepan off the heat, taste the vegetables and season carefully with salt and pepper.( *This alone would make a delicious veg dish!) Spread the mixture on a baking sheet to cool. Meanwhile, get yourself another baking dish or roasting pan ( the right size for fitting the cannelloni tubes snugly side by side ) and pour in the tomato sauce with a pinch of salt and a swig of red wine vinegar. (*Jamie does not say anywhere to pre-boil the cannelloni, but I did anyway not trusting it to be done enough otherwise. I am glad I did. I precooked the tubes for about 6 minutes and they were easy to handle and baked up perfect) Now, to make a really quick and easy white sauce, mix the creme' fraiche with half the Parmesan, a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a little of the cooking water to thin it down. Spoon your cooled broccoli and cauliflower mixture into the tubes. (*Jamie proceeds to talk about turning a sandwich bag into a squeeze bag to squirt into the tubes, which I did, then gave up and spooned it into the tubes which turned out to be way easier and less messy. I stood the tubes in a chunky glass to stand them up for easier filling.) Fill the tubes up~don't be stingy!~and place them in a single layer on top of the sauce. Lay the basil leaves over the cannelloni and spoon your white sauce evenly over the top. Season with black pepper, sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan and tear over the Mozzarella. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes , or until golden on top. This is delicious! I will make this many more times, but after making it for the first time following Jamies' advice I have decided he probably has help with the clean up because I used most of my big pans and bowls. I know now how to streamline the making of this recipe without changing a thing. So very worth making! Thank-you Jamie~ NOTE: I have posted Jamie's recipe according to his book, any comments with an asterisk are mine. I have not added all Jamies' wonderful comments on gardening, his experiences and colorful anecdotes because it is HIS book and well worth purchasing for it's beauty and practicality. I have added some of my own remarks to make some things more clear or explain some things that might be very clear to the British reader but not to many Americans.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Odd Couple, A Sweet Pair of Quackers

This was an unlikely pairing to me,kind of like joining together a closed umbrella with a toy duck. The tall, skinny duck is a female Indian Runner. The little guy is a Call Duck. He quacks louder than most big ducks, and he flies. She does not. She runs a little faster than the average duck, she leans forward and runs..looking like a closed umbrella with legs, running fast! I did not think they could actually mate and produce ducklings. Watching them join together on the pond was like watching a ship with a little dinghy on top....it took quite an effort on the little guys' part, but he was persistent!
Mama duck laid many, many eggs and was diligent in her nesting.
The little guy waited , watched and and fretted around her. I could tell he wanted to go swimming in the pond and forage for bugs and slugs, but he stayed close to his sweetie pie. Then came the nightly raccoon raids. We could tell the raccoons were trying to grab the ducks and eggs through the pen wire and finally, for their own safety the pair of ducks left the nest to sleep in the middle of the pen where raccoon hands could not grab them. I ended up putting a few duck eggs under one of my bantam hens, believing the little guy really could not possibly have fertilized the eggs.....but look! He did and here is one of the two ducklings. I was happy for this! First , because I wanted to see what a pairing like that would produce, and second, the Odd Couple were the only 2 survivors of the coyote attack last winter that killed all the rest of my flock, so any ducklings to survive and grow should have good survival instincts. Here is one of the ducklings, grown up. They both look similar, and are smaller than most of my ducks, a little bigger than their father, and as loud as him. They both fly too. They are pretty nice ducks, I am thankful to the Odd Couple! By the way, they stick together pretty closely, and Mama Duck seems to be the leader in the duck flock, with Papa Duck chasing away any male duck that approaches his gal! They really are The Odd Couple.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Uh Oh! He has a Name...( Mr. Eyelashes)

I do not remember ever naming my ducks before, but this duck has been begging for a name and my recognition.
He literally stalks me when I am outside. He leaves the flock of ducks to hang out near me. Tonight he pecked at the back of the chair I was sitting in, down by the pond. Then he just hung around, watching me. Ordinarily I would just assume this was because I am the one who hands out the food, but Mr. Eyelashes began hanging out around me, and closely , VERY CLOSELY, observing me before I began handing out little treats to my precious ducks.
SEE ?!? So I have named him Mr. Eyelashes, and now I will care more deeply for him than is good for me because my ducks have a way of becoming coyote and raccoon food in spite of our attempts to protect them. Mr. Eyelashes just better make sure he sticks to his pen in the frozen months when the coyotes and raccoons are desperately hungry,especially now that I care too much for him . He is gorgeous, isn't he?
Isn't he gorgeous?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spot of Calm and Reflection

(above: Front porch of The home of Frank and Judy, where we are meeting this month to fellowship.)
I was reflecting this week on how I have been able to settle down a bit and rest in this "calm after the storm" in our personal life. Everyone I know has had at least one stormy episode in their life that has had them in turmoil, grief...doubting themselves and many other things in their lives. Yet, though the times may be chaotic, tragic, or depressing...somehow if we persevere, things take on a new perspective and for most of us, they get better, or we learn to cope.
(Bench overlooking the river just outside the home of Frank and Judy)
God knows all along the circumstances and issues troubling us. He knows the beginning, the middle and the end, yes...the END of them! The word of note here is the "end" of them. For all troubling and distressing problems do come to an end. Remember that!
(Frank and Judy's woodland garden with peaceful sitting area)
God knew from the beginning of time exactly what we would be like and what our lives would hold...for He created us from the beginning. Nothing that has happened, or will happen is a surprise to Him, yet I admit I have been guilty of forgetting this and behaving on the ignorance of thinking He was not knowing my trouble and hearts' distress enough to care....that is so very wrong of me .
( Backyard with camp fire area of Frank and Judy's log cabin at river's edge)
As I was reflecting on the calm in our lives right now, I was reminded of the great distress and sorrow so very recently. Although many people who loved us assured us these bad times were for but a moment, it did not feel so temporary. I am hoping I remember this during our next trials..for rest assured, there will always be more trials for each and every one of us until we pass on into eternity, and that no matter what there is always joy in the moment, appreciation for the many blessings here and now, and hope, real and true hope! "Behold, we count those blessed who endured . You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful". James 5:11 Please know I do not consider any of my trials and tribulations to come anywhere near those of the faith who have endured beyond what many would think themselves able to endure...but that the trials we must all endure are hard for us personally, and that if you are able to look beyond the temporal and see there IS a God who is really and truly in control, then our perspective does indeed lift to Him...and He will be our comfort and salvation....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spot on A Great New Cook Book and Cooks

This is my birthday present from my daughter and her family and I love, love, love it! I thoroughly enjoy Jamie Oliver's cooking show on the Food Network, but as it is now on very early in the morning I do not get a chance to see it. Our daughter's family DVR's it and we watch it together at a more ( to my way of thinking ) reasonable hour. Even better, I usually have a grandchild or two in my lap as we watch Jamie..oh joy! My husband is the "foodie" in the family and I thoroughly enjoy doing the table setting,being the go-for, and clean-up help when he prepares delicious meals , quite often, for friends and family. After all, my reward is that I get to eat fine food and drink fine wine and visit with people we love. Such a small price ...but I digress. My daughter asked what I wanted for my birthday and I suggested maybe a DVD of Jamie Oliver, not realizing he had a cookbook published. What a cookbook! It surpasses his show. It shows pictures of his gardens, him hunting, cooking outdoors, and much more...all done very practically too. As the wife of a hunter, it is refreshing to have a healthy view of such a much-maligned endeavor. Well prepared game of any sort is a rare thing now-a-days. I cannot say enough in favor of this cook book, and I will be reading it from cover to cover...and I have only read one other cookbook that way...might write about it later. All this to say that my husband suggested I cook through this book and blog about it like the movie "Julie, Julia". Nope, not going to do that, but I have decided I will blog every Friday starting next week about recipes from Jamie's book, and cook my way through it. Jamie's book is orderd seasonally and I will prepare his recipes accordingly. I will start with Autumn recipes and hopefully my husband will give me a LOT of help and we will have opportunities to share these meals with friends and family . I have been very, very busy preserving the harvest and bounty of the garden my husband so lovingly prepared, planted and tended. All he asks is that I do not let the fruit and vegetables go to waste. Until this year , my poor husband's labors have oft been wasted or ended up as chicken food because I am at the fairs from mid- August til the end of September and when home am too exhausted to do much canning, freezing, etc. Then I am ashamed for the waste and sad for my husband's hard work for naught. No more! I have canned pickles, jams, and tomorrow will can Tomato Jam, a recipe I found on this wonderful blog: One Perfect Bite* ( click here). I am excited about trying this jam out on broiled French Bread with a dollop of goat cheese on top. Another book my daughter and her family have ordered for me is by Nigella Lawson*( click here). I have seen a few of her shows ( Nigella Bites) on the Food Network, but she, too, is now on way too early for me. There is just something so pleasant about a woman who loves to cook AND eat too! I watched her prepare a few egg dishes awhile ago and thought I could get excited about cooking like that. Can't wait for my new cook book by her! Meanwhile, because I have been busy canning produce I have been making easy breezy dinners. That is O.K. with my husband because he has been coming home from work and straight-way working on finishing his new Honey house / pump house. It is looking good and we have been needing a new pump-house and water pump for a long time. It has room for all my husbands' bee-keeping equipment, and also has been prepared for extracting and storing honey. Yay! Dinner tonight was sliced ripe tomatoes, with baked chicken, toast and FETA PEPPER DIP , thanks to Noble Pig *( click here)! It is good, try it, you'll like it! "Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labors in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward." Ecclesiastes 5:18

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Froggie Fall?

This little frog was clinging to the netting on our big 10 X 20 awning. I think there must be many flies and bugs to fill him up, and then some, because there is always a very large garter snake close by too. He probably enjoys a few big slugs in between snacks of bugs and frogs.
Here are the Queen Elizabeth roses ( see those two pathetic pink blooms?) that I need to prune back but restrain myself because they are home to.....
...these frogs! Click onto this picture and it will enlarge and show you two little green frogs clinging to each other and this rose.
Here is another picture of the three frogs...I wrote an earlier post showing these three frogs clinging to one rose. That rose dropped its' bottom petal leaving only 2 frogs clinging to it, but they all seem to stay together, even if it means they dwell on neighboring roses. I have been checking these frogs on and off for several days and they are always there on the bush, close together. Amazing! To think they live on a rose, a bloom that is so temporary...and yet , as I observe the bush, the blooms seem to attract bees, flies, spiders, and frogs. So apparently there is a whole 'nother world here and the food chain in action is demonstrated by the hour....wonder where the little frogs will be living tomorrow?
There are always many frogs here on Cedar Pond, but this year there seem to be so many more. It seems we are heading into a Froggy Fall, wonder what that says about the coming Autumn and Winter?