Thursday, February 28, 2013

Frustrating day

I will not get into details, but let's just say that I had to put out too many fires today, many things messed up.  The worst of them was so bad that I am changing the lock on my river house.  That is enough said.

I think I shall go to bed early.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Winter weather

Well, I hope this week is our last blast of winter weather.  Forecast is not good.  But let it get it out of its system, and then winter can leave us alone!  I am tired of it.

I used to be a winter person.  But as I have gotten older I am starting to understand why the seniors like to go south or southwest in the winter months.  There is something to be said for staying warm.  I used to keep my house at 62º.  Not on your life anymore!  The deer hunters just brought a load of nice, dry elm for my wood stoves, and it is burning well.  House is at 70º, and I'm loving it.

Well, I'm grabbing a cup of coffee and crawling back in bed with my Herb Quarterly magazine before I start another busy day. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Finishing the harvest - HOT PEPPERS!

Last year, we planted hot pepper seeds in the greenhouse, tenderly babied the plants, put them in the garden, weeded them, watered them and finally harvested them.  At the end of the season, before the first hard frost, I picked every last pepper.  What do to with them?

I fermented a few of them - in fact, all of the pepperoncini went into fermenting jars.  I made a roast beef a couple of days ago, and there is just nothing better than some pepperoncini on the side.  Yum!

After selling many bags at a discount at Purple Porch and the market to those who wanted copious amounts for preserving, there were still an awful lot of peppers!  So I cleaned them, seeded most of them, and put them in the dehydrator.  I did many, many batches, and my dehydrator has nine shelves in it!

So now those bushels of peppers were reduced to just four bowls of dried hot peppers.  They have been sitting here ever since.  I move them from the desk to the dining room table to the kitchen counter, then back to the desk.  I've just been avoiding dealing with them.  Finally, this morning, after feeling a sense of renewal knowing that my income tax is done and on the way to the accountant, I decided to take care of them.  Frankly, I've gotten tired of looking at them.  I just finished grinding them up in my food processor.  I did three separate batches - larger peppers that aren't quite so hot, medium ones that will make you salute, and little tiny ones that are SCREAMING HOT!

All of those peppers, all of that work, is reduced to three small bags of ground pepper, a powder that I will use to make my own chili powder.  I hope it was worth it.  I will let you know how the next batch of chili turns out.

Mountains of peppers reduced to three small bags of powder!
Here is the recipe my friend Charlotte gave me for making chili powder - and by the way, it was excellent.  I used the least hot peppers, will try the medium hot ones next time.

6 tsp chili powder (cayenne)
5 tsp cumin
4 tsp oregano
3.5 tsp coriander
0.5 tsp cloves
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic since I didn't have powder.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bob the Bird

Bob the Bird is finally adjusting.  He is getting so noisy that sometimes I wonder why I wanted him to sing!  He warbles, talks, but no real words yet.  But I think it will happen soon.

He has all kinds of toys in his cage, which he totally ignored until this week.  All of a sudden, he is hopping up and down his ladder, and  he has begun swinging on his trapeze, once a day for the last two days.

He also answers me when I come home and call out, "Hi, Bob!"  There used to be silence.  The only way I could get him to start singing and talking was to play a Christmas record - Pete King Chorale singing some of my favorites, and apparently Bob's favorites too. 

I just love this little guy.  Here is a picture of him sitting on his trapeze.  You go, Bob the Bird!!

Bob the Bird on trapeze
Bob the Bird - profile shot

Monday, February 18, 2013

Spring has sprung already, if you have a greenhouse!

Steve and I went over seed catalogs and requests from the restaurant, trying to make sure we get all of our ducks in a row before cranking up the greenhouse for plant sales.  Of course, it is going full force with lettuce, but we are going to have to make room for the thousands of plants that I'll be selling at the Farmers Market and Purple Porch.  In addition, we have to make sure we are growing the right plants for the restaurant.  Brad gave us a very, VERY long wish list last fall, and we are trying our best to accommodate his needs.

It is fun, but exhausting at the same time.  So much to think about.  And no matter how hard we try, I know we will forget more than one thing, and there will be a mad scramble to get more seeds of something very important that just slipped both our minds.

We did get our seed potato order in.  I couldn't keep up with potato demand last summer.  The restaurant would have taken many more than I was able to provide.  We ordered about 550 pounds of organic seed potatoes today.  I will sell many of them to fellow gardeners as seed potatoes.  The rest will go into the ground here.  Steve and I are taking over a terrible paddock that never provided much fodder for the cows.  He is going to haul dead leaves from across the creek and lay them on top of the soil.  If he can get enough of them, he will not even till the soil.  We will just bury the potato chunks in the soft, wet, half-composted leaves.  Steve says it will work.  I trust him.

Well, back to the kitchen.  I'm starting my sourdough rye bread for Purple Porch  It will be a two day job to have the bread ready by 4:00 on Wednesday.  No time to waste.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Vitamin D - supplementing in the winter months

Did you know that our best source of Vitamin D is from the sun?  However, at latitudes above 35º (South Bend is 41º), in the winter months the sun is always at a low angle and Vitamin D production in your skin won't occur, regardless of the time of day you decide to sunbathe.

My friend Susan who is a nurse practitioner is very concerned about the low levels of Vitamin D that most people have.  She says she tests all of her patients and recommends supplements, since getting Vitamin D from the sun is not feasible in the winter, and the foods that are the highest in Vitamin D are not prevalent in our Midwest diets.  She writes: "Considering that 50% of Floridians and Hawaiians are Vitamin D deficient, I don't think [the sun will work for us] way up here in Indiana . . . I test all of my patients' Vitamin D levels.  I've never found anyone with a Vitamin D level above 32 unless they were supplementing.  My opinion is that if I could just get everyone's Vitamin D levels to the optimal range it would do more for disease prevention than anything else I could possible do."

Here is a chart she provided.    Disease Prevention with Vitamin D   Get out the sardines, pop some supplements, wash it all down with some raw milk from cows pastured outdoors on grass -- and GET HEALTHIER!

Well, I'm off to the kitchen to take my daily dose, washed down with some homemade kefir.  :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My new stove

I have a 36" Dacor stove that is nearly 20 years old.  I love it, but I don't plan on taking it to the river house.  My burners operate on bottle gas, and it would have to be converted to city gas should I move it.  It's really too old to sink any more money into it.  Unfortunately, the cost of these stoves has nearly doubled since I bought mine. 

Leave it to Allen, my housekeeper and obviously good friend, to stay on it and make sure I don't have to downgrade to a lesser stove.  He found one exactly like mine on eBay, new in box, for less than half the price of a new one.  But unfortunately, he found it right after the auction closed.

Then he found one in St. Joe, MI that was a Dacor, but a double oven 48".  Mine is only 36".  Well, I wasn't even sure it would fit in my new kitchen.  I called the seller and told him I was interested but was waiting on the prints for my new kitchen.  On Friday, the architect said he could fit the stove in.  I loved the floor plan, was very excited and called the owner of the stove.  Was it still available?  Yes, it was.  Oh, happy day!

Then the architect called.  He said he got concerned because he had used drawings that a friend of mine had drawn up and knew the fit was so tight that there could be problems if his measurements were just a few inches off.  He went to the house and did his own measurements.  Good thing he did.  The stove would not fit in the spot where he had put it.

John worked on the drawing for the kitchen and sent me an alternate floor plan.  I wasn't crazy about it, but I wanted that stove.  He said he is designing an alcove with the exhaust system behind a soffet, and that appeals to me.  He said he is working up a drawing for the alcove.  So I am happy again.
This is my new baby!
In a good week, I net about $40 for my baked goods.  Let's see, considering time value of money, the stove will be paid for a few months this side of my 75th birthday.  Better late than never, hey?

Monday, February 11, 2013

What shall we name this elephant in the room?

Have you read Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco? It is the basis for the expression "the elephant in the room." 

The Pope resigned. Everyone on the news is blathering on about the reason for this -- his health, his poor relations with Muslims and Jews, one small mention about sex scandals but nothing specific.  And they are all ignoring the elephant in the room.

Last weekend the movie Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in The House of God was released on HBO. It revealed just how deeply the Pope was involved in covering up sexual abuse by priests within the church, and in fact headed an office that saw EVERY CASE OF SEXUAL ABUSE BROUGHT TO THE CHURCH. He personally saw each and every case and yet he chose the church's reputation over the children.

Be clear - the Elephant in this room is named Pedophilia. The Pope got caught, and he is getting out. Shame, shame on him. It is said he wants to retire to a monastery.  He does not even have the courage to stay and face the music.  Harry Truman said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." And don't let the door hit you in the derriere on your way out, is all I can add.  

Lest you think I am over-reacting, watch the film - Mea Maxima Culpa : Silence In The House of God.  Click here for more Info about the movie

Be patient - it takes a while to load.  The picture of Mary with a tear running down her face tore at my heart.  She, the mother, cries for the abused.  The men in the church - they turned their backs on these poor children.  Those few brave men who spoke up quit the church. 

If Pope John Paul II is sainted after the release of this film, I will be surprised.  His complicity was nearly as bad as the current Pope's.  Google Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado for more on that.  That is enough.  I am sure I have offended a few people.  No apologies.  You need to know.  Watch the film. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bread baking

I'm getting a little bored with the usual lineup of breads.  I tried something new for Purple Porch Wednesday, and it went over pretty well.  I forgot to take a pic before I took it to PP, so I'm making another loaf today.  I'll take it to Farmers Market tomorrow and see how it goes there.  Here is the Newbie bread.  It is a lovely artisan loaf baked in a clay cloche, which leads to a very crisp and dense crust.  I used my rye sourdough with white flour, and a bit of wheat germ for extra flavor.

Baking under the cloche

Voila!  The finished loaf!!

Sourdough rye on its third rise, ready for the oven

A basket of baguettes and honey oatmeal braids

All of the ingredients for Bagna Cauda.  What better to dip a slice of bread in!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Telephones, how far we've come - OR NOT!

This morning I am trying to make arrangements for delivery of hay for the cows, for meetings with prospective contractors for the river house, to rent a dumpster, for doctor's appointments - there is a long list in front of me.

When I was growing up in the 1940s, we had a phone that hung on the wall.  If I remember correctly, our ring was two longs and two shorts.  To get to the neighbor's phone, you would turn a crank on the side of the phone.  For instance, Plochs had one long and two shorts, if my memory serves me right.  So you just cranked out one long ring followed by a couple of short ones.

We had party lines in those days.  We could call anyone on our line by grinding out the proper rings.  If they were home, they would pick up.  Everyone on the line could hear the rings, and there was something called "rubbering," that is, people would pick up when it was for someone else and listen in on the phone conversation.  They were not supposed to but they did.

If someone wasn't on our line, then we had to do one looooooooooooong ring to get the operator in Cedar Point.  She would then place our call to another line, so people could rubber on TWO lines, not one!

The phones got the job done, but they definitely got better as time went on.  It was really a big deal when everyone had a private line so that your business remained your business.  But coverage was still poor, and a lot of people didn't even have phones -- remind the "Thomas Dewey for president" team that one!  Pollsters relied on telephones  And sometimes you couldn't hear very well.  There was a lot of yelling and repeating when people were on the phone.

A land line is a thing of beauty.  I still have one, and I have one phone that plugs right into the wall, so I have a phone even when the power is out.  But more and more often, I find myself using my cell phone, especially since I got a smart phone, which I use like an ancient and very slow computer when I am on the road.

This morning I used my cell phone to call for hay because I can use it hands free.  The party I called was on a cell phone.  THERE WAS MUCH YELLING AND REPEATING!  So how did we agree to use phones that lose calls, that often have very poor reception and require much yelling and repeating?  I have no idea!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

It's cold!

I'm spending all of my time tending fires.  My rehabbed river house is not going to have a fireplace or woodburning stove.  It is a lot of work.  Give me a thermostat and a brand new state of the art furnace, with air cleaner and humidifier. 

I will have a fire pit outside for those times when I long for a real fire.