Thursday, November 28, 2013

thankful thursday

My world.
It's filled with things that make me feel thankful.
I tend to notice many of these things, daily.
Maybe it's years of practice.
Maybe I'm just lucky that way.

With the theme of thanksgiving so prevalent today,
I thought I'd share a few of the things that came to mind.

No strawberries in my garden this year,
but many in my freezer. 
Sweet-smelling reminders of hot summer days.
Today, this little bowl took the edge off a day so cold
the gate latches were all frozen shut.

And this bird?
It may not realize by what amazing luck
I was able to (somewhat) repair this feeder,
previously dismantled by several bears.
But I'm confident this bird is 
pleased with the outcome.
Which makes me very glad I decided to try.

And do you remember 
a couple of months ago,
when Lily was suddenly dead lame?

This morning, like most mornings,
when I hung up Lily's feedbucket 
I gave her a pat and told her how glad I am that she healed so quickly and so well.

A happy outcome with any animal, and any injury,
but this was a little special.
Because this was Lily's first year as a mamagoat,
and she is a natural.
With a good, sound attitude.
She has a lot of promise.

So every day that she was on three legs
gave me cause to feel anxious.
Likewise, every day since
has given me cause to feel joyous.
And I do.

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving Day - today or any other day - has a lovely one! And I hope all your days are filled with things that make you feel thankful.
It's a nice feeling.

Monday, November 25, 2013

monday note

It was a bit cold when I woke this morning.
Fortunately, by the time I went outside to feed,
the temperature had risen.

After chores, I lit the first fire of the season.

November is often a mishmash of weathers, and I won't be at all surprised if we see a return to warm - or even downright balmy - days before the Real Cold settles in.

But this Autumn day was a Winter day.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Miss Ruth Kellogg demonstrating correct postures for various forms of housework. 1921-26.
Source: Div. Rare & MS Collections, Cornell U. Library

Since my first trip to the orchard, I've been doing a little bit of this nearly every day. Peeling and slicing a few apples.

Some of the slices have been going directly into the freezer, lined up neatly on a tray. The following day, those individually-frozen slices are popped into a labelled bag, and the tray is used to freeze the next batch.

Can you see traces of pink?
These are Macintosh.

Come Winter, I hope to do some very nice baking with these beautiful frozen apples. Won't that make Winter a warmer, friendlier place to be?

Well, that's my plan. Here's hoping.
I'll let you know.


Meanwhile, there's been some Autumn baking with fresh apples. Mostly, I've been tinkering with one simple recipe, changing up and experimenting. Remember the accidental apple-cranberry bisconey?

Last week I tried making it again: with apples, no cranberries, less sugar, and lots of cinnamon:

It came out with a dense, moist texture.
Not bad.

And yesterday, I tried another riff: making the batter a bit richer and more cake-like, mixing a whole cup of cranberries into the batter, and then adding sliced apples to the top.

Again, quite different in texture and flavor. Again, not bad.
Very surprising the way some of the cranberries migrated to the surface, right over the apple slices.
How did they do that?


For a person who doesn't really cook much, I am having a lot of fun in the kitchen lately. And it's all because of this:

A small, nearby orchard with a wonderful array of apple varieties. Such fun choosing! Hmmmm...certainly the old familiar Macs I grew up with, but also, well, I'll try a few of these Spitzenburgs (could Thomas Jefferson be wrong? about apples???) and I'll add a few Winesaps, and some Rhode Island Greenings, and oh, I almost missed the Golden Russets, and...excuse me for a second, I'll just carry these out to the car and then I'll be back in for the cider.

Oh. The. Cider.

The gloriously fragrant, snappy-sweet cider.

In the past two weeks, I have never been far from a glass of cider. I think this pressing may be the very best fresh cider I have ever tasted in my entire cider-loving life.

I wish I could pour you a glass right now.
Come on over.


I'll be going back to the orchard in a day or two, because I am out of apples (!) and about to open my last gallon of cider (!!). I'm waiting for a day that's warm enough to take Piper with me, for a walk along the stone walls.

It's a pretty place, this old orchard, where hard work - so often the backstory to "pretty" in a human-altered landscape - is evident everywhere you look.

The view also offers a nifty example of relativity!
I mean, look here:

Trees, right? An orchard full of big, fruitful trees.

But then you put those very trees next to a forest: 

Whoa! Quite a shift in perspective, no?

And then, you put that forest into a forested landscape as far as the eye can see:

Relativity: just something to think about while you're peeling Autumn apples and keeping an eye on Winter.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

and the winner is

Sorry about the quality of this photograph.
I didn't want to risk taking the scarf out of the bag!
Things happen around here.

Thank you to every reader who entered my little giveaway for the traditional Ethiopian scarf. I enjoyed your varied examples of inspirational people, some very personal and others more publicly-known figures, past and present. And now I have some new inspiring people and books to follow up on - thanks!

There were 24 entries in total. I used the popular and magical Sequence Generator on to find the winner:

 # 7

And counting down from the first comment, the 7th entry is:

KathNovember 6, 2013 at 6:31 AM

I am going to read about Dr Hamlin, she sounds like an amazing lady. Thank you for bringing this work to my attention and offering this beautiful scarf as a gift to one of your Internet friends.

You are very welcome, my internet friend! Please drop me an email with your mailing address, and I will send Piper straight to the Post Office with your package.

Or maybe I'd better drive? The pond is on the way to the Post Office...

...and we wouldn't want any accidents.

Now, Kath, just one more thing...who inspires you?  :)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

just a dusting

Lingering flakes decorate the Chalet de Capri.

It started snowing around 545 this morning, and stopped within an hour. Every surface was still covered with snow when the goats began to stir.

The babies had never seen snow before. Tsuga barely seemed to notice, and got right on with her breakfast. Sambucus was a bit unsettled. Fortunately, a few pieces of apple peel brought the world right back onto its axis.! Watch your fingers!

It's cold enough that even now, when the sun is going down, there is still a little snow here and there.

I've taken many photographs of this particular mullein plant, as it is between the house and the goat barn. This is what it looked like in mid-May. Every morning, it seemed more soft new leaves had magically appeared in a furry rosette on the ground:

By early June, it was knee-high.

By July, shoulder-high mullein stalks were rising dramatically above other vegetation. As soon as the first flowers began to open, bees appeared and got right to work.

And on this November morning I had to hold my camera straight up over my head to take this picture of the top of the stalk:


A little dusting of snow is a gentle way of easing into winter.

Just a little reminder of where we're headed.

As if a reminder is needed!
As I fall asleep at night, I'm thinking about which pre-Winter task takes priority the next day. And every morning I regretfully add items to the task list.

I just came in from giving the goats their evening hay, and I had to break through the ice on their water buckets again. So yes, Winter is very much on my mind.

But that's no reason to forget all about Spring, is it?

Let's see. Here's a reminder of Spring:

At 3 weeks old, Tsuga discovered the Chalet and immediately attempted to scale it. She saw no reason to subdue her optimism in the face of Gravity. I think I will try to follow this model in relation to Winter.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

frontiers in baking

So, what time can you be here? I tried a new recipe!

With apples!

The first step: toasting chopped pecans. 
This was also a new thing.
Previously, the only thing I'd toasted was bread.

 Interrupting this recipe with
a newsflash from the Poultry Palace:
the hens are again presenting me with eggs.
One or two lovely organic eggs daily.
Already, winter looks less harsh.
Thank you, hens!

Returning to the new recipe:
it appeared on my blog feed today,
I love those folks.
They are passionate about what they do,
and they really know how to share the joy!

Most recipes, no matter where I find them, call for ingredients I don't have on hand. So even the most interesting recipes get filed away, until maybe - maybe - one day I remember 
to buy the missing ingredients.
And then remember what the ingredients are meant for.
And where I put the recipe.

Cooking can be so hard.

But not today!
I had all the ingredients for "naked apple-vanilla pie."

Note: the "naked" refers to the lack of crust.
The apples are not naked.
They are also not clothed.
They are peeled, so maybe they are sort of undressed?

You know, I think the "naked" aspect may be a bit of a distraction from the main event, which is this:

 If someone served this to me at a dinner party and challenged me in a playful, dinner-party-way, to identify the dish, I wouldn't describe it as "a crustless pie."
It's hard to pinpoint, really, and I hope in this imaginary scenario my future happiness would in no way hinge upon my response to the host's question.

"Hmmm...well...a delicious variation on an apple clafoutis?"

That's the best comparison I can make. However, now that I think about it, the Comptonia Taste Test didn't include the recommended cream or ice cream for a topper. That addition may very well make it seem more pie-ish, overall.

But I don't know.
Perhaps I should get some ice cream and try it?

(You can bet I won't have any trouble remembering to pick up that ingredient.)

Whatever it's called, I like it!
Perhaps you'd like it, too?

It's easy, quick, and involves apples.
It's different from "the usual" apple desserts.
The pecans - that would be the toasted pecans - add texture.
And the light note of vanilla is lovely.
And I'm adding a link to the recipe.

Apple season. 

Loving it.


Friday, November 8, 2013

fruit and veg

The weather has been quite variable this week.
Mornings like today, with ice in the goats' water buckets.
And days that feel like late Spring, when the air is so balmy one can think of nothing but gardening.

On a 21F morning this week, my thoughts turned naturally to baking. This plum cobbler may not look like much, but I wish you could have been in my house while it was baking. Made me want to bake every day, just for the aroma.

I would be embarrassed to tell you how quickly this disappeared.
Will just say this about cobbler:
good for breakfast, lunch, and late-night snacking.

Not for supper, of course.
That would be irresponsible and self-indulgent.

On a nice warm day, Piper and I visited a nearby orchard to buy apples in anticipation of the next baking day. 
Lots of apples. And cider.

Lovely, delicious cider.
Made mostly from Macintosh apples,
with some other varieties added.
Like this charming Golden Russet:

Then, there was a hard frost and I pulled the cabbages.
The valiant cabbages that continued to grow despite the endless onslaught of leaf-eating insects that escaped my 
daily attempts at elimination.

Every cabbage looked like this:

Pondering the subtle differences between "harvest" and "salvage," I made one precious quart of sauerkraut, now fermenting in the kitchen:

and enjoyed the last meal of just-picked vegetables from the 2013 gardening endeavor. A reminder of summer, when the garden was the source of most of my grocery "shopping."
Good times!


Then, surprise! The weather changed again.
An entire day of rain and gloom.
Time for another bake.

An experiment with fresh cranberries and apples.
It resulted in a sort of cross between a tea biscuit and a scone.

Behold: the "bisconey."

And my method for storing baked goods:

Two of my Grammy's glass pie pans.
This works very well!

Of course, we're probably talking about short-term storage.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


As promised, a giveaway!

All the way from Ethiopia.

This traditional, handmade, 50x160cm, cotton/rayon scarf, is one of many ethically-sourced items sold to support the work of 

And it could be yours!
Read on for giveaway details.


Some time ago, I watched the PBS film,
"A Walk to Beautiful." Have you seen it?

It is a beautifully-crafted and powerful film, sharing the stories of women who endured obstructed labor and, as a result, not only lost a baby but went on to suffer the physical, emotional and social effects of an obstetric fistula, causing permanent incontinence. The women's "walk" is to Dr. Hamlin's obstetric fistula hospital in Addis Ababa, where treatment - surgical, emotional, and educational - is provided at no charge, through donations and with the support of the Ethiopian government.

"A Walk to Beautiful" is not always easy to watch, but I was absolutely riveted to the screen. And here is the most important thing - it left me feeling hopeful. And believing that even my tiny donation to support Dr. Hamlin's work would be a genuine contribution to something very, very good. Thousands of women's lives have been turned around, one by one by one. And Dr. Hamlin's efforts have expanded beyond the hospital at Addis Ababa: there are now five smaller regional fistula hospitals, an outreach program, and a 4-year College for Midwives!

Dr. Hamlin inspires me, not only because she is clearly a gifted doctor, a tireless visionary, and a generally interesting and articulate person, but also because she is a beautiful example of a person who confronts a massive challenge and just gets on with the job at hand, day by day. Cheers, Dr. Hamlin.


Now, the giveaway details. Easy-peasy.

Anyone*, anywhere on the planet**, is eligible to enter. Feel free to share this post in any way you like. The more the merrier.

To enter the giveaway, just:

1) leave a comment on this blog post, mentioning one person who inspires you.

2) that's it!

Entries close on Wednesday, 13 November. I'll do a random-number-generated drawing and will announce the winner on the blog on Thursday, the 14th. If the winner doesn't contact me with a mailing address by Saturday the 16th, I'll draw another name. So check back on the 14th, please! 

* re: "anyone" 
You don't have to follow my blog, but if you'd like to, you are more than welcome. There are a couple of "follow" options in the sidebar, and although I have not been able to put up a subscribe button for feedly (believe me, I have tried!), you can always manually add my blog address to your feedly list.

** re: "anywhere on the planet" 
People on the International Space Station are also eligible to enter, but delivery of the scarf will take place following the winner's return to Earth.

Good luck, everyone!!!


Monday, November 4, 2013

attn: knitters of whimsy

Glad tidings, knitters of whimsical items! 

It's clear from reading fibery blogs that holiday gift-knitting is in full swing for many crafty folk. And much of that gift-knitting is in the "cute stuff for kids" category.

So when I saw that Morehouse Farm CritterKnits (usually $9.99) is a free Kindle download at the moment, it seemed worth a quick post.

Wish I could post more of the pattern pictures, but I'm not sure about the legality of posting display pages from Amazon. I hope just this picture of the cover will be okay!

These patterns get rave reviews from knitters, both for the patterns and the results. So if a pair of lobster mittens or a striped gecko scarf sounds like just the thing to keep a loved one (or oneself) cheerful in the third month of winter, hurry and download, as it may not be free for long!

Margrit Lohrer is a gifted designer, and she and her husband, Albrecht Pichler, raise sheep in New York State. Several years ago I bought some of their Morehouse Farm Merino yarn at Rhinebeck and saw many of the designs firsthand.

I would love to visit their farm someday. And if I ever do, I should like to be wearing an alligator scarf.

Friday, November 1, 2013

if one is good

will two be better?

Sambucus certainly thinks so.

Yo! We gonna do this thing, or what?

Yes, Bui. We are going to add a second section to the new shelter, before the paint is even dry on the original. So to speak. If there was any paint involved. Which there is not. Anyway.

It would have been easier to build a double-panel shelter in the first place, with a continuous floor. But I didn't want to risk wasting money and materials on an experimental design. If the single-panel worked well, perhaps in the Spring a larger floored shelter would be built.

I didn't expect to feel so confident about its usefulness right away. But I did. I do. Already.

So yesterday afternoon I made another set of joists and connected another arched stockpanel to the first. The only real decision was whether to tear out the first floor and replace it with 9-foot planks that would run the entire depth, or to make a second floor section that would butt against the first but not be connected to it.

This feels weird. I like the first floor better!

Seriously!  Worst.Cavalletti.Ever!!  

Can you guess which I did? Here's a hint: I hate to waste lumber and I hate to waste time pulling nails out of lumber so it can be saved for another project. Especially nails that were driven less than one week ago.

Right! Separate floor, coming up.

The only "plus" to having the two separate floors (by the way, if I have one talent it is finding the "plus") is that there are now two bungalow "modules" that can be quickly disconnected to make two single-panel shelters if needed.

It began to rain during the above pictures, so the tarp went up and the floor went down quickly. Betula helped, remaining at my elbow even as I was driving nails into the very boards beneath his feet and my knees. This was quite surprising, as goats do not enjoy loud or percussive noises. I was touched by the voluntary participation. Way to teamwork, Bet!

No picture of the end result, because by the time I had picked up tools, it was nearly dark. But when I got to the house and looked out the window, both young mamas and their girls were already settled right down in their improved shelter. Success!

Tired of goat bungalows and falling foliage, dear readers?
Take heart: there will be a little giveaway coming up very soon!