November 25, 2008

Special Edition

I couldn't resist this post! I'm on I-76, middle of no where Colorado, and we have internet! How fun is technology? Now the funny part is that this is made possible by the same antenna "thingy" that I complained about in regard to a certain mouse that got into our house recently! Yep, my darling husband has certainly been redeemed on this trip since that same antenna is attached to the top of the car outside the passenger window and is allowing us to have fun on the internet while we travel. Thanks honey and sorry I blamed you for the mouse!!

November 24, 2008

To Grandmother's House We Go

We're heading to Colorado to spend Thanksgiving with our family. We'll have a big, lively, opinionated bunch gathered for the holiday - just the right formula for a memorable day! We feel so blessed to have so many people in our lives who love us and we're grateful that God has granted us the wonderful gift of time with one another this year.

We've begun gathering the "pile" that will go with us. The snack bag, coffee thermos, emergency supplies, the roaster for my sister-in-law to borrow for the big day, and the bag of Christmas presents to leave there. Too bad the U.S. postal system has managed to take away the fun tradition of sending packages to family at Christmas. The cost of mailing is easily more than the simple, homemade gifts that we like to send. At least we can deliver them this year!

Oh yes, and happy Thanksgiving from my Christmas Cactus - it's a little confused this year! I moved it from the middle of our dining room table where it got N, S, and E light, to the corner of our hearth which has dim light, and it really kick started this plant. I had always heard that you have to put them in a dark closet in order to encourage them to bloom at the right time but maybe it doesn't have to be quite that drastic a change after all!

From an Iowa acreage to you, where our hearts overflow with gratitude every day, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and pray God's blessings on you and yours!

November 20, 2008

Garden Pizza

We're digging into the freezer again. I made a simple pizza sauce by combining some of our frozen roasted tomatoes, a portion of frozen pesto, and a little dash of balsamic vinegar to give it a boost. Summer tomatoes and basil in November just about makes you forget how much work it took to get those tomatoes and basil in the freezer in the first place! I use a homemade pizza dough that's as simple as whole wheat pastry flour, water, salt, and yeast, plus a smidge of olive oil and a sweetener like honey (to feed the yeast) - all tossed into my 11-year-old Zojirushi bread maker on the dough setting - easy stuff. My recipe makes enough for two pizzas and the second half goes into the freezer to save for another quick meal - either pizza or calzones, or even bread sticks. Here's a picture of the dough with only the wonderful sauce so far, and it's sitting on my well worn baking stone from Pampered Chef, which is nice and dark now and missing one corner - but it still works great!

Mmmm...finished product. Fast food at it's best.

Well, this is all then.

November 18, 2008


Isn't she just so cute? After 12.5 years of feeding this little princess the very best dry food on the market, giving her food treats, providing her a comfy little bed, and buying her countless toy mice - do you think she would even TRY to catch the stinking REAL mouse that is running around in the wall somewhere? NO, NO, NO. She just sits there and looks up at you like, "what's the problem?" Unbelievable! I've seen this darn cat jump 6 feet in the air to capture a fly, I've seen her almost injure herself chasing a furry mouse toy around the house, she's even smart enough to open door knobs by jumping on them. The one time this useless fur ball could be of some help and she is so lame it's pitiful to see. This is DD's cat and I'll just say, my darling daughter, it's a good thing we love you too much to show this cat the door. And cat, it's a good thing that darling daughter loves you - maybe you're smart enough to know that??

In the meantime I'm behaving like a slightly crazy person hearing this noise in the wall, or is it in the ceiling, or in the cupboard? I'm yelling unpleasant things at the mouse - I guess hoping to offend it enough to make it go away? I'm intermittently beating on the walls thinking it will scare away? I've got the music cranked up so loud it's ridiculous and I can STILL hear it doing whatever stinking, disgusting mice do. You might think that this is just part of living in the country, but not so fast...DH is in the dog house for this one! He bought this antenna "thingy" in yet another attempt to improve our internet speed. Frankly, he's obsessed with this goal. He drilled a hole somewhere outdoors and thought he'd wait to fill it in until he was sure the antenna placement was where he wanted it to be. Guess what? He forgot to go back and fill it in - enter, the mouse. I won't need to say a thing. DH already knows his goofy wife was home most of the day listening to this thing scritch scratching away. He knows - poor guy.

Well, this is all then.

November 17, 2008

All About the Corn

Guess what time it is in Iowa??? Harvest of corn is well under way. I think it's a beautiful thing to watch. I get this "all is right with the world" feeling seeing all that corn pile up and the sculpted look of the harvested field. There's such a rhythm to it all.

Chasing the rain with a combine, just up the road from us.

Piling up the excess in Northewest Iowa, near DD's college.

One of several grain elevators in our town.

Harvesting soybeans, just back of our property.

We love the beautiful patterns of a newly harvested field.

Somehow I often forget that I have relatives who live in Iowa who know a lot about farming! I forget to tap these resources when it comes to learning about things like the corn ears I blogged about in "The View from Here". My guess that the farmers had begun testing for readiness may be correct, but there's another aspect that is very interesting too. An Uncle J of mine down in SE Iowa tells me that these are test rows and the ears have been exposed in order to show them off so that farmers might be enticed to grow that variety next season. My cousin is working at a grain elevator and part of her job is testing the moisture content of grain for the farmers, sometimes testing the small samples they bring in before they've harvested their crop to see if it's the right time to go, or a sample from a load of grain that's going out for sale. A friend of mine in town has kept me up to date this year on the timing of harvesting her husband's corn crop and it involves so many factors - humidity, temperature, mud, frost and freeze dates, and market rates to name some.

Chatting with these folks and listening to the radio farm reports has opened our eyes to the amazing amount of science and economics involved in each harvest! Most recently I heard the disheartening report that because of our current economic melt-down, the selling price of these harvested crops dropped well below what had been anticipated. That's hard news, however, the glitch for the farmer who rents the land they farm is tougher still, since the rent they pay to the owners of the fields is often fixed, and not based on the actual profit made. "Cash Rents" is the name of these rental agreements and it's part of this very risky way of life. I may not have a completely accurate understanding of all of this, but it's not hard to understand that there is really no such thing as a "simple" farmer - there's a lot of sophisticated business going on out here!

Well, this is all then.

November 15, 2008

Cure for a Migraine

I am not EVEN kidding around about this! If you can't sit down on a cold, windy Saturday and feel better after eating a piece of wholesome, homemade cherry coffee cake, with a great cup of coffee, then there is just no hope for you! There are no fewer than 3 tense situations in our life at the moment, nothing health related fortunately, but they all sort of converged and landed in a migraine for me today. I was craving something home baked and came up with this, which is a modification of a couple of internet recipes - what a surprise huh?! This dish doesn't utilize anything from our garden, but it does incorporate local honey and local black walnuts, and local food is a growing passion for us - no pun intended. I recently read that the attitude you have while you're eating something can have a great effect on how it's processed in your body. That made a lot of sense to me. Making this was therapeutic, smelling it was therapeutic, tasting it was healing!

Black Walnut Cherry Coffee Cake

3 tablespoons butter
1 C whole oats
1/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 C honey
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 cup canola or walnut oil
1 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 (12-ounce) bag frozen, unsweetened tart cherries, thawed and drained
1/4 cup chopped black walnuts or substitute any other nut of choice

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch round cake or 9 x 9 square pan. Mix butter, oats, 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 C brown sugar in small bowl with fork or pastry cutter until crumbly. Set aside. Combine flour, honey, 1/2 C brown sugar, oil, milk, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and egg in large bowl. Beat mixture by hand or with a mixer for 1- 2 minutes, until well blended. Stir in thawed cherries. Spread half of the batter in pan and sprinkle ½ of oat mixture on top. Add remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining oat mixture and chopped walnuts. Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Well, this is all then.

November 3, 2008

In the Trenches

We have your annoying trenches - like these made to hook up the generator. One of those stinkin' jobs that seems like it's never going to end. It will be a wonderful addition to our home when it's done but anyone who's ever hired contractors to get smallish jobs done has probably experienced the same headaches we're having now. Why can't they just get the job finished???

And then there are the satisfying trenches like this one for asparagus. DH dug a trench this past Spring and just when we thought the rains had obliterated the poor spindly plants, they started thriving and spreading. He kept filling in the trench as the summer progressed and I kept weeding it to assure the plants we hadn't given up! Now it looks great and we'll cut these fronds back once they die off and it will start all over again next year. We actually may have to wait another year before we get a crop, but it should be very worth the wait.

At the end of the asparagus patch will be our garlic. Like other fall bulbs, garlic goes in around the end of October. These bulbs (look closely around DH's boots) are from some friends at church, and they got them from a friend from Yugoslavia - 23 years ago! What a cool thing to have passed on to us - wonder if there's such a thing as heirloom garlic?

Well, this is all then.