Tag Archives: cooking

Olio – November 1, 2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

One of our favorite snacks around here is popcorn.  With that in mind, when I planted the garden last spring and decided to plant a three sisters garden in the new part, Pennsylvania Butter-Flavored popcorn was the corn part of the garden.  Burgess Buttercup winter squash and Seminole Pumpkins were the squash addition and Kentucky Wonder Pole beans to climb the stalks and give us some dried beans.

The popcorn did beautifully and I harvested much more than we will eat in a year, I think.  I spent part of an afternoon shelling about half a quart of kernels into a storage jar and twice I have tried popping it the traditional way in a heavy pot with oil only to have very little of it pop and what did pop was tiny and hard.  This was a huge disappointment.  Son #1 (AKA T from now on) asked if I used enough oil and alternately, had I tried air or dry popping.  Of course I used enough oil and I don’t have an air popper.  Last night, I googled popping home grown popcorn and found several videos on popping it in a microwave with and without oiling it first.  As I am currently home alone for a couple hours, I made myself a small bowl of my favorite potato cheese soup and was still hungry so I tried dry popping the corn on the cob in the microwave.


You can see the cob in the bowl.  It was a fluffy, glorious success.

My knitting this week has been entirely on the Reverse Falls Shawl that I am knitting for my cousin.  It is nearing completion, with only a couple of 16 row repeats left to do.  The rows are quite long now, so the repeats don’t happen as quickly as they did earlier in the week.  I’m on the last skein of primary color and as the shawl both begins and ends with that color, I may not actually get two full repeats.


On Friday, we had no grandkid duties, so we ventured off to “the big city” to have lunch and to allow a couple of errands.  One was to the Harley Davidson shop to look for a couple of long sleeve T-shirts for Mountaingdad.  I wanted to visit the yarn shop for some double pointed Karbonz knitting needles to finish my sweater sleeve.  They didn’t have the ones I wanted, but I bought an alternative as well as spending a bit more than I had planned as a stroll through the shop took me past the Mountain Colors, Mountain Goat yarn.  That is just about my favorite yarn and I left with two matching skeins and the hope to make a rib warmer out of them for me.


Yes, my knitterly and spinning friends, it is another version of teal (with a bit of purple in it).  Do you think I will ever move on to other colors.  I realize it has the same teal as the sweater I am trying to complete, so instead of a rib warmer, it may become a hat and scarf.  Maybe I should get my designing hat back on.

I am home alone right now by choice.  Mountaingdad took off on his motorcycle.  He is so excited to be able to ride again after a whole summer of not being able to, that if the weather is above 60 degrees and lower than a 30% chance of rain, he wants to go out.  Today he volunteered to ride 90 minutes to Meadows of Dan to pick up some of my yarn and a check and then back, so he will be gone for a bit.  K, R, and grands A, and N are off looking for gunboats (shoes) for R who has the largest feet in the entire family, even larger than his 6’4″ BIL.  They were also going to get some lunch.  I wanted some quiet time to do laundry, read, and knit.  I am on day 3 of a headache and a bit concerned as I found a fully engorged deer tick embedded between my shoulder blades last night.  If a rash ring appears, or if the headache continues into tomorrow, I will head to the doctor’s office to determine if the little bugger gave me Lyme Disease.  I have had one prior scare with it right after we bought our land and was sick for 6 weeks in spite of antibiotics and a year of liver function testing once I felt better.  So fingers are now crossed that I don’t get sick and still crossed awaiting tomorrow’s announcement about the Holiday Market.



Autumn Delights

Yesterday Mountaingdad decided to see how he could do on his bike.  He hasn’t been able to ride since April, when an extremely virulent case of bronchitis caused a very long lasting case of vertigo.  We have seen doctors, first for the bronchitis, then for the fullness in the ears and vertigo.  Visits for physical therapy that helped some, but didn’t cure the problem.  He still has some fullness in his ears and will get dizzy lying down in the dark, but is doing better during the day.  He needed to put fuel in the bike before it got too cold to ride, so that he can start it periodically in the garage during the winter.  He did fine riding and since today was the last day of warm and no rain for this week, he took off to Black Bear, about 75 minutes away, for their final get together for the season.  Since it is Saturday, our usual Farmers’ Market day, he rode  to town on his bike, I drove and we had breakfast together before he took off for his ride.  The market is winding down, fewer vendors were there, but my favorites are still hanging in and I supplemented our supplies with beef, pork, onions, greens, turnips and radishes.  The flowers are done for the season, our nights of frost did them in.  I got the last bag of salad from Stonecrop Farm until next spring.

The kids, were off at soccer games, then to the pumpkin patch with the grands.  I am filling the house with the delightful scents of autumn.


Cinnamon Honey Pecan granola in the oven.


The apples from our day trip on Thursday were peeled and the Granny Smiths sliced and frozen for pies over the holidays and the others cooked down and canned into 5 1/2 more pints of applesauce for the shelves in the root cellar to be enjoyed later.  The half pint put into the refrigerator to have tonight.


After the apples were cooked and the canner bubbling, dinner was started.  A package of pork chunks, sauteed with onion and garlic; a small Burgess Buttercup squash, pared and cubed in small pieces;  a couple of handfuls of tomatillos, a bit of cilantro and cumin; a few tablespoons of Roasted Salsa Verde and a couple cups of broth and stew is simmering.  This was a create as I go stew that will be served with rice, corn bread and the applesauce.  If it tastes as good as it smells, we are in for a treat tonight.

Outside, the smell of wood smoke is beginning to fill the air as our neighbors that heat with wood are building their fires for the chilly nights.  It hasn’t gotten cold enough for us to build a fire or light the wood stove yet, but we don’t rely on that as our heat source.  I still need to begin splitting the logs hauled up from the tree cutting a couple of weeks ago.  Maybe I will spend part of my afternoon with the maul and wedge while the stew simmers.

Tonight it turns colder and rainy again for a while and there is no warm up on the forecast this week.

Still loving life on our mountain farm.

More Wet Stuff

Our region is under water.  The forecasts have flood warnings, many roads closed, schools today had a 2 hour late start due to the flooding.  The morning dawned beautiful, but the afternoon brought more heavy rain.  You would think that in the mountains that flooding wouldn’t really be a problem, but the rivers and creeks are over their banks, fishing camps and river front yards are under water.

I turned the chooks out this morning to free range and graze on the new grass and emerging bugs.  When daughter and granddaughter came back from taking grandson to the bus stop, the dogs all slipped out.  Lately they have seemed to leave them alone when dogs and chickens were sharing the yard.  For some reason, I looked out to check on them and found our two chasing the chickens and daughter’s Golden Retriever eating one.  I don’t know who actually caught the bird, but I do know that we now have a problem.  The dogs and the chickens aren’t going to be able to be out at the same time again.  One of the dogs realized that opening through the electric fence that had a rope across it wouldn’t hurt them and barged right through.  This required me to move the fence around to create a new opening, narrower and on a different side of the fence.

I had planned on culling a few of the hens later in the summer, but didn’t plan on sharing them with the dogs.  After today’s stress, we only got 4 eggs.  Maybe the one they killed was the one laying weird eggs.  I guess we will see in a day or two.

Since the weather wasn’t good to be out and about much, I made Mozzarella and lasagna noodles and made a homemade vegetarian lasagna for dinner.  I love being able to make the cheese and noodles at home.  I noticed at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday, that I could get raw cow and goat milk for a donation, perhaps I will try raw milk Mozzarella or yogurt.

Olio – March 27, 2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

For a week and a day now, we have been grandparents and in loco parentis for two of our grandchildren.  During the weekday school hours, only the three  year old is with us. The routine is for me to get up by 6:45 to dress and wake the eight year old for school.  As the kids are currently sharing a bedroom at our house, that means trying to get him up and out of the top bunk without waking the three year old in the bottom bunk.  This is not an easy task, but we have managed most mornings.  Once he is on his school bus, the animal chores have been taken care of, then the three year old has my help getting her clothes out and she dresses while I prepare her breakfast.  She will always announce what she wants, “big yogurt with honey” (plain yogurt from the quart instead of an individual serving that big brother takes to school), “a stand up egg” (a hard boiled egg), or “scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese for my plate.”  This morning, the bacon curled into a smile and I couldn’t resist. . .


So we played with our food a little.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends, a fan of my lotion bars from my Etsy shop, found a deal on blocks of Shea butter and sent me a link.  Once I got on the site, I realized that I could get organic Sweet Almond Oil, organic Cocoa Butter, and organic Coconut Oil as well at a very good price.  An order was placed and I was pleased with the quick shipping and the arrival of my goodies a couple of days ago.


Tomorrow, we are off to pick up eldest Grandson for his week of Spring Break.  He will be joining the other two here until next weekend.  We will be leaving the critters and house in the care of our local house sitter and spending one night in Northern Virginia.  This will give eldest Grandson an opportunity to show off Washington DC to his Florida born cousins before we head home.  A driving trip up there always involves a good resupply of food for them and so a cooler of chicken, pork, and frozen Tomatillos will be packed along with jars of salsa and chutney, a box of pumpkins, and a few dozen eggs.  There are still more pumpkins than we will eat and they are beginning to go bad.


There were only two half pints of the XXXX Salsa left on the shelf, but the Tomatillos and Habeneros were in the freezer from when I gave up on canning in the fall, so 3 1/2 pints were made this morning.  They aren’t sealed in the canner, but I’m sure they will be eaten long before they go bad.

Most of the laundry is done and bags getting packed.  This will be a short trip, but it will let the Grands from here see Washington DC for the first time and will give the three cousins some time together, though the 8 year old living here does have school next week until half day on Thursday.  The futon in the rec room is made and the house will be vacuumed to reduce the dog hair once the three year old gets up from her nap.

The Cherry Blossom Yarn that I was spinning was completed and added to my Etsy shop.  It is 121 yards, 4 ounces of Worsted/Aran weight yarn and quite soft.


My current spinning project is the most difficult fiber I have ever tried to spin.  It is a 50/50 blend of Yak and Silk and is so slippery, I find it very troublesome.  It is going to be lovely if my patience holds out and it too will likely find it’s way into my shop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStill loving life on our mountain farm and we are excited that the spring like week and the recent rain are turning the fields emerald green and we are seeing squirrel ear leaves on some of the trees.

Winter’s Roar

Our winter has been unusual to say the least. Until a couple of weeks ago, I think the temperatures had been above normal with occasional snow flurries, a few barely covered the ground snow falls that didn’t last. Then things changed. We haven’t seen daytime temperatures rising above 20° (-6.7°c) and night time temperatures near zero (-17.8°c) in more than a week. On Saturday, we were expecting flurries and got several inches with sharp temperature drops. We had driven in to town to a nice restaurant to celebrate our 37th Valentine Day and Anniversary and the drive back home was a white knuckle ride.

Yesterday we took Son#1 and Grandson#1 to the bus to return home from bringing my car home and a weekend visit and it was brutally cold and windy, wind chills in the double digit negatives.
There were severe weather warnings posted for today and the school makeup day that had been scheduled for today was canceled.


We woke to the expected snow. So far about 5″ with the heaviest part of the system due this evening and overnight. We may be looking at a foot or more with extremely cold temperatures and expected to drop to -10°f (-23.3°c) Thursday night. We aren’t used to that type of temperature. Our firewood supply is running low and our heat pump is struggling.
My chooks won’t come out of the coop when there is snow on the ground and with the temperatures as they are, I didn’t even open the pop door today. I have gone out 3 times to change out the frozen water, twice to throw down a scoop of feed into the straw and collect the eggs before they freeze.
Our neighbor has two very pregnant cows and we saw her go down to check on them before the snow cover got too deep. Our steep gravel road will be difficult to traverse in a couple more inches of snow. I hope the cows don’t calve before we have a moderation in weather back to around freezing this weekend.
The grands are playing in the rec room, I am knitting, reading, and cooking stew and homemade bread. A good way to spend a frigid snowy day.

Olio – 2/12/15

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things


Bread day.  Grandson is being stretched each day to a healthier more natural diet.  Fast food is being reduced and the selection less Wendy’s and more Wicked Taco in choice. He has been pretty good about beverages, drinking milk, water, or lemonade if out but he has his quirks.  His favorite foods used to be spaghetti with sauce and cheese or “cheese sandwich all cooked up” (we know them as grilled cheese), but then for some reason, he decided he didn’t like cheese.  He loves pizza and lasagna, even our cheese and spinach stuffed ravoli, but insists he doesn’t like cheese.  The first time I made corn bread he refused to even try it.  Now he asks for it.  The first herb and onion bread I made for them, he went to his room and skipped dinner rather than even be at the table with it. His preferred bread is “balloon bread,” though he will eat commercial Honey Wheat.  In an effort to eliminate more colors and preservatives from his diet, I set out to make loaves of similar texture without the additives.  He also insists that his bread have the commercial shape.  This morning’s results may pass his test.  The Honey Wheat bread I made is light in texture and was allowed to rise well over the rim of the pan before baking.  We are going to make his lunch for tomorrow without saying anything and see how it goes.


When they moved here and we purchased twin over double bunk beds for the room, he being the oldest got the top bunk.  To read or write in his journal at night, he had to climb back down to put the book or journal on the night table then climb back up to sleep.  A few days ago, his Mom hauled out her fabrics and snaps and we made him a pouch that holds his book, journal and a couple of pencils that snaps with straps over the side rail of his bed.  He was really excited when he came home from school and saw it.  To complete the idea, his Mom gave him a clip on book light that clips to the rail as well.


In spite of Daughter’s Tom Boyishness growing up, granddaughter is a little girly girl and she does not like loud noise, though she can screech like a banshee herself when upset.  She also has had an unnatural fear reaction to the typical bugs found in a mountain house in the middle of a hay field, the occasional Lady Bug, Stink Bug, house fly or little spiders.  I don’t like spiders either, but I don’t run shrieking from the room if I see one. Little by little, we have been trying to help her overcome both.  When I find a Lady Bug alive, I will pick it up in her presence and she has let me put it on her shirt.  She will hold a dead one, but still not a live one.  She now points out stinkbugs, dead or alive instead of screaming and waits for her brother or an adult to remove it.  Flys and spiders are still a work in progress.  I managed to get to her “scoop up” a Lady Bug carcass and some dog hair with the mini vacuum that she had been terrified of.  You still have to warn her that you are turning it on, but she no longer runs crying from the room and she will use it herself now.

imageMy girls having some quiet time after dropping brother off at his very early school bus.  She wiggled and squirmed on and over her Mom then fell asleep with her head on Mom’s hip and covered in the blanket Mom had draped over her own legs.  They slept like that for about an hour.

Our spring like days fled overnight.  Our high of 32f (0c) occurred at 6 a.m. and we are falling to 8f (-13.33c) tonight.  It is snowing but not really expected to accumulate much and we are under another high wind warning and wind chill warning.  I’m betting that schools have at least a 2 hour delay tomorrow. The weekend nights are expected to be around 0f (-17.8c).  Monday was to be a school holiday, but is now scheduled to be a weather make up day and we are being threatened with several inches of snow on Monday and Tuesday, so it might yet be a school holiday and the make up day will have to be made up along with another day.

Son #1 and Grandson #1 are bringing my car home on Friday night and staying for the weekend before riding a bus back home.  It will be good to see them.  The weather will be in the teens so I don’t think we will get the compost bin disassembled and relocated this weekend.  Maybe he will help us build a “dress up” closet for Granddaughter’s dress up clothes.


My current knitting project is a 320 stitch Moebius cowl.  The pattern is Gradient cowl and as I don’t have truly gradient yarn, but rather a cake that had 5 equal amounts of increasing darker yarns, I working from lighter to darker using one color, then alternating in the next darker color for a few rows, then using the darker color and so on.  I am on the third color now and will end up with a cowl about 38-40″ long by 5-6″ wide.  I think that there will be enough yarn left to make a hat, though probably not the one I want to make as I would like to knit Wurm on Ravelry using the gradient colors from light at the face edge and the darkest at the top.  The yarn is Green Dragon Yarns Sport weight in Teal.  As David has closed his shop and is no longer dying yarn, I want to use up every inch of it that I can and treasure it.

International Days and Borrowed Ideas

For the past few days, Daughter and I have been visiting other countries through our culinary skills.  We were bored with the same menu repeatedly and decided to venture out, making wholesome, home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients.  On Thursday, we visited Germany, preparing Sausage and Potatoes with Rosemary.

On Friday, we took a trip to Mexico, making handmade tortillas and using them to make Mexican style soft tacos, with shredded pork or taco ground beef served with fresh cilantro and chopped onion, sided with a salad and guacamole.

Saturday we traveled to Asia, preparing a pork stir fry with lots of fresh vegetables including some of the ginger I grew this past summer and served it over rice.

Today we stayed in Asia and made Red curry with Chicken, vegetables and rice.  Tomorrow we will make Ricotto and Mozarella and fresh pasta dough to make homemade Ravioli with spinach and cheese filling, served with some of the pasta sauce I canned last summer and a salad of fennel bulb and carrot.  After tomorrow, we will have to decide where next to visit.

As for borrowed ideas, we have had an eight year old who in spite of a home library of books, a bookshelf of games, a garage of outdoor toys and two beautiful days, Legos and many other indoor toys, has repeatedly announced, “I’m bored.”  Daughter saw a great idea on Pinterest, a “The Bored Jar,” a jar with tokens each with a chore or suggestion such as “Read for 30 minutes” and we decided that we would implement it.



Instead of a glass jar that could easily be broken, we bought a small galvanized bucket with a chalkboard label on the side.  With a paint pen, the label was completed and we bought a bag of 25 wooden disks on which I have been adding the suggestions/chores. Once we have disks all completed, we will fill him in and each time he states “I’m bored,” he will have to draw a disk from the bucket and spend however much time the disk requires or the task takes.  This should teach him some responsibility for entertaining himself and perhaps get a few chores accomplished without constant reminders.

Things I don’t buy anymore

Tortilla’s for tacos and enchiladas
Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Pasta noodles
Bar soap, shampoo, laundry detergent
Tomato products, salsas, jams, chutney
Yogurt and cream cheese
Hand and body lotion

The longer we homestead, the more products have been eliminated from our shopping list, more products are made at home.  As the garden and orchard grow and my desire to be more aware of what goes on and into my body, the more items are removed.  Hopefully, the day will come when we are growing a couple of pigs on our land and at least some of the lard will replace the oils that I buy for cooking and soap making.  If Son #1 or 2 raise bees, we will be able to have honey and beeswax too (I am allergic to bee stings, so I can’t tackle that task.)

I love being able to make these items, our bread and chicken feed, grow most of our vegetables and have the health and time to do it.

First Meetings

Early this morning, Son #2 arrived with his family.  The eight year old boy cousins haven’t seen each other in several years and the 3 year old girl cousins had never met each other or the boy cousin.


The girls hit it off immediately this morning.  They are about 5 months apart in age.  The boys have been running and playing chess with each other all day.

While this has been ongoing, I decided to learn to make Ricotta cheese. . .


A gallon of milk first made into mozzarella and a second gallon into about 4 to 5 cups of Ricotta.  Two balls of pasta dough made and a pound of sausage cooked and a fresh homemade lasagna assembled.


Son rolling out the noodles.


A baking and a salad and we will have dinner for 9 tonight with two new lessons learned, Ricotta and Pasta.  Three products I will no longer buy.  In a day or two, daughter and I will make homemade tortillas.  I used to make them when Mountaingdad and I were newlyweds but with kids I switched to commercial ones.  Daughter bought an 8″ cast iron tortilla press so we will make our own.

The dogs don’t know what to make of all the activity and want to be in the middle of all of the play.  The girls escaped. . .


It seems safer inside the dogs cage than out.

OLIO 1/19/2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

This has been the birthday weekend for the 8 year old grandson now living with us.  His Dad flew in from Florida to be with his family for the weekend.  The celebration began with three generations bowling, 6 of us.   I can’t remember the last time I bowled and in spite of sore stiff joints, it was fun.  From there we were off to the birthday boy’s favorite restaurant, Texas Roadhouse for steaks and ribs, then home for a birthday cake that took his Mom 3 hours to decorate while he was in school on Friday.  He wanted a Corvette Stingray cake and she managed it nicely, placed high enough that he couldn’t see it until serving time Saturday night.  Sunday they went out for family time and lunch together and today, his actual birthday was supposed to be a school holiday, but ended up being a makeup day for a weather missed day last week.

Before he got home from school and while his Mom was taking Dad back to the airport to fly back to Florida, I finally cleaned up the garage from the move in night when we quickly unloaded their trailer into the garage.  Son #1 had left his butchering station cleaned up, but left in place after we did fall chickens in hope of the deer he never got this year.  I dismantled it and put it back in storage until it is again needed. The box of outdoor toys was finally opened, the crate shelf moved to a more convenient place, the bins of balls, bats and helmets filled, bikes lined up until we can get wall hangers for them.

Garage cleanup_marked

Toys are now accessible and I can walk through the garage to get to the outside.

Also today, 10 gallons of whole grain chicken feed was made and stored.  Before grandson got home, I made 18.6 oz of homemade Mozzarella cheese, solo this time, in preparation for homemade from scratch pizzas, his request for a birthday dinner.


In 20 minutes, I can make this cheese with a gallon of milk at a cost of about half of the price of 8 ounces of “fresh” mozzarella from the grocer.

Winter day_markedIt was a beautiful day for all of these tasks.  This gorgeous sky was seen while awaiting his school bus to arrive. Once he got home, I stayed outdoors with him for a bit of archery practice with his bow and arrows that he got for Christmas.

The pizzas were made and savored, followed with left over birthday cake and ice cream.  The end of a busy and full birthday weekend for the young man.