A Months Worth Of Blabbering

It's been awhile since I've popped in. Just a bunch of this and that going on. I'm never sure lately, when I first peel an eye open in the morning, what day, month, or year it is. If the radio alarm turns on I know it's a work day, then I try to sort it out from there. It went from that really bad snow storm in May, to 90+ degree temps just days later. The hot, dry summer persisted to the beginning of September, then temps dropped to 30's – 40's and we had to fire up the woodstove, after absolutely melting the week before. That lack of transition makes my poor brain darn confused.

Since I don't have any specific subject matter, I'll just toss a few photos out about what's been going on, and a few leaf peeper views.

My flower gardens are pretty much caput after a few hard freezes. But the grass is greener now that it's cool; much more so than when it was so hot this summer and it was cooked and yellowed.

I climbed over, and rearranged the cabin boxes in the storage room, enough to reach a bit of Halloween decorations. Our house is the only one in a 10 block radius that has any decorations out. Not many seem to be too enthused about the holiday yet, but it makes me happy to see the lights twinkling on my little porch!

My folks are 2 months in at their new place. Oh my gosh – what a Herculean effort it has taken to get them just to where they are at this minute. And they are probably only 1/2 way to where they need to be.

A blank canvas, pre-fenced.

The first thing they lined out before even moving, was to hire a fencer to enclose the entire 7 acres so they'd have a safe, secure place for the little horses. That whole process didn't come without it's bumps and bruises. The first guy only did about 1 square acre, then my folks were lucky enough to find a different guy that was a bit more enthused and motivated to get the job done. It was horrendously expensive, but had to be done. Fencers, especially good ones, are few and far between around here.

Then came the barn builders. Wow, they were some kind of organized! I can't say enough good things about this fledgling business. They were phenomenal, and very affordable comparatively. My folks had to hire a separate business to come out an prepare a pad/foundation before the builders came. That took a couple days to haul all the fill dirt/gravel to the site, then level and compact everything with the big construction equipment. The barn builders started the next day. The framing crew came first, and this is what they accomplished in just 1 day. Amazing!

Take a look at that mighty pretty fence in the foreground, too!




On day 2, a 2nd new crew came to enclose everything with metal sheeting. Not an easy task with the wonderful wind we have around here. They, also, were no nonsense, and this is what it looked like at the end of the day. Really, dirt to this in 2 days!

Front view, and to the right of the house.


The back side.


The opening on the left end will be framed in to make it not quite so vast, and then regular barn doors will be built and hung in the smaller opening. Individual stalls will be put in at some point. For now, it is good enough shelter from the wind, rain, and snow as it stands. The middle section will hold all the hay, and be a place to park much of the equipment out of the weather. The right end, with the door, is my Dad's shop. A third crew came back about a week later and poured a cement floor in the shop section, and finished everything off. All in all, it is a handsome, well built structure that will surely add value to the place.

Then there's the house……my Mom calls it a Barbie Doll house. It is significantly smaller than the house they moved from. She sold a ton of stuff to an antiques dealer before even moving, gave gobs of stuff away, and handed down important heirlooms to us kids and other family members. There still was nowhere to put things, so she pared down even more and had a big rummage sale to boot. Even though they absolutely did not want to take on major remodeling, she decided to go ahead and turn the garage into a living room, as they really had no space for the things that make a house their home. So everything has been turned upside down inside. Farm activities and dogs + pale blue carpet = not a good mix. Out it goes, to be replaced with hardwood floors. Crazy kitchen layout + old appliances + dark wood cabinets and blue flowered bedroomy wallpaper = bye bye. To be replaced with practical new appliances with no added frills or do-dads; new granite countertops in place of 4 inch tile and grout counters; and cabinets to be painted a nice light color, because that's what she likes. New paint, new light fixtures, new window coverings. All this before even starting from scratch in the garage. A couple that did work on my little house, my present house, and my folks farmhouse, have come out of retirement to work with my folks on this new place. That was a lucky break because it is near impossible to find anyone worth a hoot presently with this crazy housing “surge” our town is experiencing. The carpenter that was all lined out to help Bruce at the cabin has never bothered to even show up. While waiting on the many things that have been ordered, they've taken on a half dozen smaller projects, and also got the garage door pulled out and the new window put in.

Having the garage turned into living space should make a significant difference in how they will be able to function in the house. This garage is 600 square feet, with an added area that will be utilized for storage.

To put this in perspective, the whole main floor of our cabin is 576 square feet, and we have to squeeze in a kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, and hallway!

The walk thru door will be removed, and a new door placed on the opposing wall for access to the patio.



A wood stove will be put between these 2windows.

It's like I said before, it has been their lot in life to turns coal into diamond at every home they've owned. Although this house was more than adequate when the bought it, it just didn't function the way they needed it to. It wil be a most excellent little farm when they get it all put together.

Luckily, the weather has been fairly decent these last several weeks, which has helped them move things along. I have been very much enjoying the beautiful fall colors, and wish it could stick around.






So beautiful.

We had a lovely sunset tonight, with some really unusual clouds.

They look like big feathers!


My silly Piper had to come help me take pictures. Always one to get the best vantage point!

And I'm sure you've always wondered what a big, hungry, vegetarian gal eats for dinner – so I'll show what was on the menu tonight.

Fried green tomatoes with buffalo berry catsup (my great grandma's secret recipe), garlic Texas toast, and peach iced tea. It was pretty darn yummy!





R is for Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a vegetable, but is most often put to use like a fruit. For most folks, it is a love it or hate it situation – not too much of an in between. I love it's bright, tart goodness, and have quite a collection of recipes so that all that grows at my house is not wasted. It is tricky to cook with, because it holds so much water. I've turned out several pies that were either absolutely water logged, or so tight they were rubbery, by under or over estimating the amount of thickener needed. It's hard to get that just right consistency; glossy and soft – not too runny, not too firm and bouncy.

I've had a bountiful crop so far, due to the cool (cold!), wet conditions rhubarb is partial to.

This is what remained after harvesting about 2/3 of what has popped up so far this Spring. More will come now that it's been thinned a bit. YAY 😉

I seem to have better luck making bars, rather than pies. With the filling not so deep as it is in pies, it tends to thicken more consistently. So, I drug out all the gear, and a “go-to” recipe.

Here is the recipe I used, that is a compilation of several I've tinkered with to make it work for me.

First, the best crust I've ever had. The recipe came out of a little paper back church fund raiser cook book I bought when I was a teenager and kept in my cedar hope chest til I moved out on my own. I've used it until it is rag-tag and falling apart over the years.

3 cups white flour, 3/4 cup butter flavored shortening, 3/4 cup salted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 to 5 Tablespoons ice water, 1 egg lightly beaten, 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening and butter. Add ice water 1 T at a time til mixture is crumbly but starts to come together a bit. In a cup, add the vinegar to the egg, mix and pour into flour mixture. Stir and press til a ball forms, adding small sprinkles of flour as you go, so it doesn't stick to the bowl. Place dough ball in a bowl in fridge 15-20 minutes to rest.

Second, measure out 7 cups chopped rhubarb into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups white sugar, 2 rounded Tablespoons tapioca powder (what I used was called tapioca flour; both work, and are probably pretty close to the same thing), 3 rounded Tablespoons white flour, and half of a 3 ounce package of red gelatin (I prefer strawberry, but any red works and looks best.) Add sugar mixture to rhubarb and coat well.

Get your crust dough from the fridge and roll out on a well floured surface, to about 1/4 inch thick. I transferred the whole kit and caboodle to a large, rectangular baking pan, covering the bottom and up the sides. Press lightly into corners and on sides. Cut the excess from what hangs over the sides. Gently pour rhubarb mixture onto crust in pan. I loosened the crust from the sides and folded it over the rhubarb, galette style. It keeps the crust from getting too brown on the sides. Since I try not to waste anything, I rolled the leftover crust into long skinny ropes and placed them on top. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temp to 350, and continue baking 30 to 35 minutes longer.

It came out just right; not runny, not rigid or rubbery. The crust was a golden brown. I guess you could drizzle a glaze, but I think it's plenty sweet without.

We gobbled it up 🙂

Tomorrow I'll make rhubarb freezer jam. I love being on vacation!