Wednesday, September 30, 2009

America's Best Idea

From our trip to the Grand Canyon

PBS is running a wonderful series now called The National Parks: America's Best Idea by Ken Burns. I missed Episodes one and two, but watched number three last night. It makes me want to read about John Muir, Stephen Mather, and Horace Albright. It want to jump in the car and drive to Yellowstone and Glacier. Ok.. not going to happen.. but it's made me think. What National Parks, Monuments, Historical sites have I been to? What would I like to see? Maybe see isn't the right word. Soak up, become a part of, get lost in... experience. Each one is so special. A gem in their own right.

Wish List:
Arches Park : Moab, UT
Acadia : Bar Harbor, ME
Bryce Canyon : UT
Crater Lake : OR
Denali : AK
Glacier : MT
Grand Teton : Moose, WY
Rocky Mountain National Park : CO
Zion : Springdale : UT

National Parks visited:
Grand Canyon : AZ
Saguaro National Park : AZ (I love cacti)

Favorite National Monuments and Historical sites over the years:
Alcatraz Island, Blue Ridge Parkway, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods, The Presidio, Sunset Crater Volcano, Wright Brother's Memorial, and a large part of Washington D.C.

Where have you been? What is your wish list? Where are your favorite spots?

Episode Four 1920 - 1933 : Going Home - is on PBS tonight (8pm EST) if you'd like to catch it. I'll be there. Mesmerized.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Georgia Jets

That is the name on the nursery tag I found under the tangle of vines when we dug up the sweet potatoes last week.

Size 10 garden clog : one Georgia Jet
Total dug = 40 pounds (from 3 hills)

Plus one large garter snake and a handful of worms, which the ladies happily devoured as we dug. The worms, not the snake..

The photo below is from the garden in 2007. The ground hog ate the vines off twice last year and I can't remember if we even got any. Every year I think.. plant more sweet potatoes. Think we may have to add a few more hills next year!

Monday, September 28, 2009


I love a good wood pile.
Silly..but, true.
This work of art belongs to my parents.

Dad worked all summer (in between the bees, the garden, and of course.. some golf) refilling their woodshed. He finished packing it full in August. This should last them the winter for their little wood stove.

There has been a woodpile here for as long as I can remember. We played in it as kids. I can smell the wood in the autumn sun as I had my picture taken on the logs. It was covered with tarps then. Like mine is now...

Our woodpile is currently a major mess. Piles of bark, old tarps, and chipmunk nests. A woodshed is on the project list for the week. I am feeling some urgency as the weather here is nasty today- heavy wind and rain - reminding me that snow won't be far behind. We have a spot picked out behind the garage and I can't wait to get started. I love to stack wood!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall Pasta

While digging for dinner ideas the other day, I came across a cookbook in my stack called Chez Panisse: Pasta, Pizza, & Calzone. The contents were divided into Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter dishes. I went right for the fall pasta dishes and chose... Artichoke Hearts, Prosciutto and Fettuccine. After having the pasta rollers out for the crackers (thanks for all of your wonderful cracker recipe suggestions too. Can't wait to try them), I thought I'd make some PASTA. Out came the Pasta Bible..

... and after sifting through a bunch of recipes, I settled on Pasta Dough No. 2. A basic dough with fine semolina and all-purpose flour. Not feeling too brave as far as trying a colored pasta yet, although... Pasta Dough No. 4 was a close contender because it uses 7 (gasp) egg yolks and our refer is currently experiencing an egg-valanche!

The dough was easy enough to make by hand. After chilling, it went through the rollers slowly creating thin sheets (final roll: number 6 on the Kitchen Aid Pasta Roller). Lastly the sheets were fed through the fettuccine cutter and the noodles were hung on a dowel rod between the counter tops.

Fresh pasta tossed with garlic, olive oil, lemon, artichokes (wish I had fresh ones), and prosciutto, topped with buttered bread crumbs and freshly grated cheese.

I was feeling all cozy about it until I looked on the can of artichoke hearts and saw they were from Peru. That's what I get for taking a field trip to Whole Foods Market. So shell shocked and excited to be there shopping I forgot to look at the can. Hate to say it, but it was worth the air miles for this wonderful hot, savory, fall dinner... I love artichokes... sigh...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall First Weekend

First attempt at making crackers. I've been wanting to try this for a while, but was inspired to give it a go from the recipes in this months issue of Mary Janes Farm Magazine. They look a bit.. well.. lets say... rustic? But, they were actually not too bad. Willing to try it again..

...especially after I figured out the PASTA ROLLER attachment for the mixer will make a really THIN cracker!!

First skillet berry pie with a HUGE THANKS to Bloom for posting her fabulous pictures and recipe! Really delicious.. Photo here as I popped it in the oven!

First "stick-fire" of the season in the wood stove. Most especially needed after a busy weekend.

We pulled the honey supers off of the hives for the second time this year. Another first for us. For some reason I didn't grab my camera as we left for the farm and I missed capturing a baby bee as it hatched. I've never seen that happen before either!

Wishing you all a most wonderful start to your week! I am off to bed, but first... a hot bath!!
See you on Tuesday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Short and Sweet

I almost gave up on carrots after last year. We have so much clay in our soil that once it dries out it is like concrete. Not so good for growing carrots. I found a packet of "Short and Sweet" carrots from Burpee this year and thought I'd give it one more try. Hence... carrot torpedos!

Took a shovel to the row this afternoon to dig a few up for dinner: chicken stew with peas, carrots, and potato dumplings.

Four carrots = 1.5 pounds!
Bombs away!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jewel of a Weed

There is a small patch of Jewelweed out by the road and the bees are loving it!

Little bee bottom hanging from a blossom.

Jewelweed is also called 'touch-me-not'. Once the seed pods are mature, if you touch them...

...they explode!!

The girls are coming in heavy with pollen. Orange.. yellow too from the golden rod. Soon it will be time to pull the honey supers again and start getting the girls tucked in for winter. At least they were too busy working to notice me exploding the seed pods. I'd forgotten how much fun they are!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Harvest Festival

The true kick-off to autumn for me is our local Harvest Festival. We wait for it every year. The village closes the streets for a street fair, sidewalk sales, food vendors, yard sales, and two really great church rummage sales.

Our favorite rummage sale is held by the presbyterian church. The yard and basements are filled with all kids of goodies. The block around the church is taped off with caution tape. People pack the perimeter. At 10 am the bell goes off, the tape is torn down, and it is all systems go! Last year they raised around $30,000!
Book section finds. $4.50 worth of winter reading.

Table runner and some small jelly jars ($.50) too cute to leave behind.

Wool vest and cashmere scarf stuffed (among other things) into my $2 brown bag sale.

Beautiful cast iron skillet.

New journal.

I've been a bit behind in the posting due to a allergies complicated by a cold. Golden rod is good for the bees, not so good for me. The Harvest Festival was just what I needed to set me right! Hope you all are finding fun things to do to set off this autumn season! See you on Tuesday..

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bee Girl

From Martha Stewart Halloween: Special Edition.

Bee Girl and Beekeeper Dad.
Probably the best Halloween costumes EVER.
Of course I couldn't resist posting this! Check it out in the latest special edition of Martha Stewart: Halloween!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

You like it - You haul it.

I was surfing Craig's List on Saturday morning and came across a listing for "free pavers". The listing was posted on Friday, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to call and see if they were still available.

Cha-ching!! I think there is about 128 square feet of pavers! The nice folks getting rid of them were moving and had a deck installed. I am thinking they are going to make a fantastic walkway and patio at the back door!

It only took two trips with the truck and trailer to get them home. Thanks Dad!! He's such a good sport..

Thursday, September 3, 2009

At The Fair

Tractors, cool fall air, observation hive, honey, room full of canning, pies, vegetables, 4H, stuffed chicken dinner, rides, carmel apples, alpacas, cotton candy, sheep, chickens, apples, pigs sleeping in the sun, children laughing, games, ribbons.

I could go back and do it all again tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life and Tomatoes

It all starts out innocently enough. Wanting to eat less processed food. Making more things and eating at home. A few bee hives. A summer garden. Then the thirst comes. You want to read more....DO more! More homesteading, more farming, more gardening, more canning!! Next think you know.. you've smuggled in chickens and are stalking the farm section on Craig's list.

In my thirst I've started reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (see side bar). For one year she and her family vowed they would only buy and eat food raised in their own neighborhood, grew it themselves or learned to live without it. I am still in the process of reading the book, but it has already got my wheels spinning.

I live here. Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Briefly and very quickly this morning I mapped out a few of the common items in our refrigerator and pantry. Honestly, I've never really looked a the labels before, except to check out the ingredients. In addition to our summer garden surplus, honey, and eggs our food came from here:

Items that traveled the longest:

1. Bananas - Ecuador. Never noticed it on the Dole label before.
2. Scone Mix - A gift, but from Egham, Surrey.
3. Smoked Spanish Paprika - Also a gift (one I love) from Barcelona, Spain.
4. Coffee - Tony's Free Trade Organic.

Items of interest:

1. Starkist Tuna - Distributed by Starkist Seafood in Pittsburgh, PA. I am pretty sure there isn't any Tuna in the "Three Rivers."

2. Tomato - Grown in the USA from the local grocery (missed the farm market). Went to the web site, who didn't list WHERE the greenhouse was in the USA. Had to call the 1-800 number to find my $.82 tomato came from Texas. It was parked next to the local tomatoes at the store.

3. Life Cereal - One of my favorites and without high fructose corn syrup. Distributed by Quaker Oats, but made in Canada? Again, no info on the 1-800-Quaker... It is made in Peterborough, Ontario.

If every US citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.
~Barbara Kingsolver
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

On that note, I had an egg for breakfast.
Just food for thought...