Tuesday, January 17, 2017

tuesday tip

I haven't posted a Tuesday Tip in quite a while.
Sometimes I think of one, then immediately think,
"Oh, everyone knows that."
Or, "Oh, no one cares about that."

But what the heck. Here we go. This is a cheesy tip.

I buy a lot of cheese.
(Back when I had dairy goats in Colorado, I also made a lot of cheese, but that was another lifetime.)
Sometimes I buy provolone or swiss. Occasionally - because it is both pricey and not available nearby - a nice gruyère. (Cauliflower baked with cream and gruyère is one of my favorite foods on this Earth.) But mostly, I buy good, stout, flavorful cheddars. I stock up when it's on sale, put a couple of packages in the fridge for slicing and snacking, and the rest goes straight into the freezer.

Now, freezing changes the texture of cheddar; this is widely known. It becomes impossible to slice and serve neatly. It fractures. Many people see this as a cheesy flaw. A reason not to freeze cheddar.


This very quality can be a cheesy virtue! If you use cheddar in any sort of shredded or grated form, freezing a block can save you time, money (if you usually buy shredded cheese), and, in my case at least, the occasional skinned knuckle from using that darned box grater. Because a chunk of cheddar that has been frozen can be easily crumbled into any size pieces you prefer.

See? Big knobbly pieces:

If you let a frozen block of cheddar thaw for a while, you can then break it up quickly with the tines of a fork. Or if you put the block in a ziplock bag, you can crumble it into bits with your fingers, using very little pressure.

See? Tiny little bits:

Do you already do this?
Does everyone?
I'm positive no one "taught" me to do this, so maybe it isn't common knowledge and is a Genuine Tip.
I hope so.
It sure saves me a lot of time, and the frustration of trying to open bandaids for my knuckles. If anyone has a tip for that,  I hope you'll write about it!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

saturday snapshot

Two days of rain this week melted much of the snow.
Then, overnight, the temperature dropped 30 degrees!
And windy? My, my. It was.

Today, during a relative heatwave of 24F, a deliriously happy Piper took me for a walk in the woods.
An invigorating time for both of us!

Thank you so much for all your kind comments on the little watercolor portrait of Ms. Piper. If you'd like to see her better in this photograph - she does look rather tiny in the Big Woods! - I think you can left-click the picture.

Monday, January 9, 2017

piper in the snow

I thought you might enjoy a little watercolor I made last week.
It was based on this photograph, taken when I was photographing hyssop:

 See Piper? Just barely?
She's standing in the snow.
Keeping an eye on things.
Waiting for me to quit fooling around with hay and buckets and the camera.

Here's the watercolor: 

To be honest, it looked exactly like Piper for a while.
But only to my eye.
It was just a Piper-flavored blur, really.
Kind of like the photograph!
Then I worked it up just a bit more.
And now it looks less like Piper,
but is much more recognizable as A Dog.
I'm okay with that.

This art thing is a ride, isn't it?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

this week

I've been making soup and apple crisp.
Over and over.

Apple crisp is simple to make. And delicious.
I don't even tinker with the recipe except to sometimes include cranberries.

But the soup is freeform, and never the same from one kettle to the next.
I don't think I could duplicate a batch if I tried.
Sometimes I wish I could. The last batch was so good I started rationing it to make it last a bit longer.

Recent days have been cold, dark, raw...and occasionally sunny.
Sunny enough to melt some of the snow suspended above the ground, not insulated by the collective coldness of accumulated snowfalls and the thick ice layer covering the frozen ground.
You can see the snow melting into icy gems on this hyssop:

Still dazzling, long after the flowers and bees and butterflies of Summer have gone.


After rainy, snowy, gloomy days, I love to see the herd out in the sunshine.
The lateral light makes each goat glow around the edges.
This is Tsuga's daughter, Fern:

Fern, I am sorry to say, is a stubborn little imp.
But look at that face.
Butter wouldn't melt.

Are you resettled in Time after the holidays?
This week I spent all day Sunday thinking it was Monday,
then all day Monday thinking it was Sunday.
On Tuesday, I just stopped thinking about it.

Winter sunrise after a mid-night snow, view to the West