This is a blog about everyday life. Food, gardening, photography, and nature. What you won't find are pictures of lots of people.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Happened to Spring?

Spring! Oh Spring! Why hast thou departed?

It is nearly April and it is 36 degrees Fahrenheit at noon.  Sheese. It snowed the other morning and has been below freezing several nights.  This is Kentucky!  We should be well on our way to spring weather. The only good thing is I didn't have time to start my plants.  In this weather the seeds wouldn't sprout anyway.

Even though it is cold I went in search of some more signs of spring.

Funny that I've worked here for a long time and never followed the budding trees until I got a camera. 

The one above is still wearing his jacket.  Smart Bud.

I cannot remember what flower will emerge so I'm as curious as you.  I don't know what kind of tree it is either.  I think its all closed up just waiting for some warm weather. 

It is so cold and miserable the squirrels are hiding.  Brrrrrrrrr!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blackberry Cobbler

I hit a sale at Kroger and I decided to dig out my favorite cobbler recipe.
This is THE eastern Kentucky cookbook to have.  I will have to do many more posts on this cookbook because the ladies that contributed lived through some tough times and could make good food out of virtually nothing or anything they had on hand.  Vinegar pie anyone?  But lets move on to the cobbler.

I like this recipe because the crust is nice and doughy yet crisp on top.  And it is easy to make.  Lets cream some butter and sugar.....
And don't forget the berries.  Hint, if you like your cobbler thick toss the berries in some flour first.  I want mine runny for the juice to go over ice cream.  Yum.

If you are going to cook from scratch.  I say use good ingredients.  No fake flavoring for me please.

After I mix up the dough I smear it over the berries.
Add the sugar.  I didn't use a whole cup.  Those mountain folk like their pies sweeter than I do.
Water goes over the top.
Pop it in the oven and wait for the house to smell wonderful.

I meant to get a shot with the ice cream and pie in a bowl, but I was happily eating blackberry cobbler and didn't want to waste a second lest the ice cream melt.  But it was a very pretty color I will say!
Happy Monday Everyone!
May your week be blessed with the simple pleasures of life.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Turkey Hunting

A couple of weeks ago a co worker came over into my area and announced a wild turkey was walking across the yard out in front of our building.  I snapped a quick shot of her out of the window.
That is her right above the red truck.  It was a cold windy day and I ran off leaving my co worker holding the screen we had removed from the window.  I heard him laughing as I rushed down the steps.

I ran across the parking lot and along the side of a building then stalked her  as she disappeared into the brush.

I got a couple of more shots off before she disappeared into the culvert.  Smart girl.  She wasn't crossing the interstate highway via the road!

That white concrete slab to the right of her is the headwall to a culvert that runs under I75.

Very unusual to see a wild turkey in the city like this.  I was thrilled!

I don't know why but the wild turkey population is on the rise here.  It always gives me hope when a native species makes a comeback.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This is on my mind

This tree blooms in early spring and no one seems to know its name.  Some call it a jade magnolia. 
There is one in the small town I grew up in and my father told me its name a long time ago.  But I have forgotten.  Glorious and huge it is in full bloom for a week.

We don't have many trees with fragile blooms this large here.  In fact, magnolias have a hard time surviving.  Do you know what it is?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Relish and Our Little Buddy

I've been working too hard so I am taking a longer break for lunch than usual.  I was so happy last night when I dashed out in my front yard and picked an onion that had volunteered itself these past 2 warm weeks.  This was his destiny:

See his little green tail (chopped beyond recognition) perched atop the tomato and cucumber?  He was delicious too!

I love some relish with my beans.  In case you are wondering it was a simple salad of chopped tomato, cucumber, jalapeno and green onion.  I added some black pepper, salt and a couple of shakes of vinegar.  Oh, and of course, I had cornbread.

After I was full I went outside to see how the little bud was doing.  He has lots of company now.

That is him in the foreground, but first remember what he looked like in the freezing cold?

Now take a look!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The One Enduring Sign of Spring

I have lived in Kentucky most of my life.  And this little flower always rears his head to announce spring.  In some years he gets it nipped by some freezing weather and in some years he rises to the warmth of spring declaring the end of winter with his yellow glory.

Behold the daffodil.  As a kid we called them "easter flowers" because they usually bloom around easter.

Yes.  I'm lying on the ground in my neighbor's front yard to get this shot.  They are used to my bizarre behavior. (The neighbors not the daffodils.)

O My! What loveliness!

And here is his neighbor in the next patch sporting a bi color bloom.

I love them all.

These flowers are in bloom all over the place.  I can remember as a kid seeing abandoned houses in the 70's when people were building their "dream homes" and moving away from farming and  these flowers were a reminder of the families that had left.  They stubbornly came up to the herald the spring.  Now you see them along the roadside where new roads were built and these little guys find a way to peek out.  They endure.  Like the seasons they always return.

This one is my favorite.  The simple traditional yellow daffodil.  He made my day.

Welcome Spring!  It has been a long cold and hard winter for me.  I needed your arrival.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Signs of Spring

This is what greeted me outside the window last week.
I knew spring was out there.  I intended to go find it.

Hmmm. Not there.

A possibility!

Looking closer..........
Do I see something there?

Buds!  The snow has protected them.

This bud looks quite enthusiastic.  No doubt that sunshine feels good.  It certainly is good for my soul to see an end to a long cold winter.

That little dog  in the sweater agrees!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bottling Wine

Finally!  The day I've been waiting for has arrived.  After the last racking I had watched the airlocks closely and 3 gallons of wine had stopped fermenting.  Time to bottle.  First I had to round up about 16 empty bottles.  I use clear ones for white wines and save the colored ones for my reds so they don't fade from light exposure.  I decided to give them a good scrub in soapy water since its been quite awhile since I've bottled.

I look carefully on the bottom.  I always wash the bottles out when they are empty, but sometimes people who give me bottles don't so I have to be very careful.  Look closely.

See that dark spot on the right?  I have to get that out so it doesn't spoil all my hard work.  When I'm done I rinse them and I'm ready to start!  But first I rinse them with this:

It is potassium metabisulfate.  It kills yeast and stops fermentation I use a little solution to rinse because it is also a sterilizer.  You can also add a campden tablet to each bottle but I don't.    No additives for me! 

I use an assortment of bottles.  Most of them are wine bottles, but anything glass will do as long as I can cork it.  

A friend gave me some labels.  I think she wants a bottle or she thinks I'm a hippie.  Or maybe both.

I start siphoning into each bottle.

I better look under the table next time!  And no, Twinkletoes on the left doesn't have a cloven hoof, that's a hoof for the dog to chew!  You were supposed to be looking at the siphon and the gadget that allows me to stop the flow of wine and switch bottles.
Now we top off each bottle.  I usually get at least 4 bottles per gallon I can cork.   Now its time to cork!  I boiled these corks earlier in the day so they would be sterile and saturated with water.  It is better to do it the night before.

I like these corks because they are short.  Easy to put in and easy to get out.  The corker I bought because I was killing my hands doing it manually.  It does the trick!

You open it up and slide in a cork.

Next you put it on the bottle and seat the cork with a mighty push!
See what a fantastic job it does?!
I get four bottles of the apple raspberry with some extra and the bottom of the jug goes in my glass.
Next up are:
I like to keep the label on there so I know how long they've been fermenting.  Sometimes I put the kind of yeast too.  You can really make this as detailed as you'd like.  I just drink it and cook with it and I like not knowing exactly what it is going to taste like when I pop the cork so I don't keep a lot of records.  I do, however, have my favorite recipes.

When I've emptied the three jugs I have enough left over for a bottle of blended wine and some more in my glass!  I put them away in a cabinet I can close and keep dark.

I was down to 3 bottles!  I am saving a bottle of strawberry and the one second from the right is dandelion.  The dark bottle on the end is blueberry.  It isn't very good to drink so I use it to cook.  Makes a fine marinade!

In a couple of more weeks I hope to have some mixed berry ready to bottle.  These three were from concentrates. They are always ready quicker than those I brew from fruits.  I don't have to rack them as much for one thing.  Concentrates make perfectly fine wines and are much easier to make.  I can have a decent table wine ready to drink in 3 months.

Til next time!